School Days with AveryLane

Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011

Guest post from AveryLane.

For parents, the start of a new school year usually prompts shopping trips for crayons, pencils, and notebook paper. For many it stirs memories of their own feelings of anticipation and excitement: first day of school outfits, lunchboxes, and backpacks. For me, one family tradition was our special trip for new school shoes. Every year the kids would scramble into our VW Microbus and head out to the Stride Rite shoe store, a thirty minute car ride. It was usually hot, but this was a trip no one ever seemed to fuss about.
Red shoes, so unpractical, but for our special new school shoes, we were given much liberty in our choice. The signature oblong shaped balloon completed the transaction and mesmerized me all the way home. Exultantly, I would save my shoes for the anticipated day, for when the group of neighborhood kids gathered on the sidewalk and walked in groups of twos, threes, or more toward the school building 3 blocks away. Ecstatic was I to discover no one else had shoes like mine. The feeling of bounding in new school shoes has never been forgotten or too distant in my long term memory.
Traditions are a big deal to my kids today. Among the many traditions we have, we do the new school shoes thing, but I fear it does not hold the same special distinction that it once held. We usually go to Nordstom, where my little one is treated as though the multitude of other shoppers do not exist (once our number is called). Waited on by a courteous attendant, she tries on anything her heart desires and chooses her shoes according to her fancy. The balloon may or may not come at the conclusion of the event, but she does wait eagerly until the first day of school to feel the shoes on her feet again.

Things have indeed changed. Bargains supersede quality. No longer does a parent need to physically go to a store to shop. Online shopping has taken away the burden, or merriment, depending on how you look at things. Adaptation is invention’s twin sister.

Since hand-me-downs are the bulk of our new school clothes wardrobe, a tradition I have created with my little girl is to pick one or two special outfits. She is my biggest fan and helps design a dress or outfit for me to sew for her. She chooses the fabric and style. She watches as my hands cut and stitch together her mind’s creation. As the clothing comes together, I can feel a part of her going into it. I think about her as I work the seams and topstitch the details. Trying on the partially completed new designs to personally fit them to her unique shape, I can see these are special to her. She asks questions and remarks about her excitement for the first day of school; she wonders who will be in her class, or who her teacher will be. It’s clear we are both personally and emotionally invested in her new garb, making it more special. You can’t buy that and it’s not possible to mass produce this.
We've carried this ideal into other traditions, like buying handmade school supplies. I feel strongly that thoughtfulness and caring goes into the product from those hands that personally create the product, something worth supporting. As a little part of the creator goes into the creation, the creator shares herself with others. Here are some thoughtful choices for ethical back to school shopping from some talented and caring Etsykids members:
A sweet pink backpack (right) from ChildishThoughts is sure to help build fond memories this fall season that will last. Or if monsters are the thing that drives them wild, this backpack (left) from TheSewingLoft will have them doing flips.
Accessories for little girls are plentiful on Etsy and EtsyKids sellers have some of the best quality and styles available, from bows to jewelry. I allow my daughters to browse the EtsyKids shops and select their own. We sit together and enjoy reading about the designers and artisans. We love it when we find a seller in our home state of Oregon, so we can do our part to boost the local economy. Help teach your kids about the ethical and helpful choice of shopping local the EtsyKids way, by using the shop local feature on etsy and then use the key words: “EtsyKids Team.”
Here are some of our favorite shops for bows and hats:

Beanie Hat, Scandie Design

Newsboy Hat

Football Pig Tail Hair Bows
Rosette Headband with Feather
Sustainable choices are a must for our family. When you do the math, those disposable baggies and juice boxes add up in unnecessary waste to the environment and exuberant cost to the family budget. Here are some lunchtime alternatives that make sense and that the whole family can feel good about. Even teens and parents can get into the Etsykids act, after all they eat lunch, too.
I have learned many EtsyKids Team members will happily take special requests for modifications and specific fabrics.
BrooksBoutique offers a beautiful collection of reusable sandwich bags and snack bags from which to choose. Love this baseball print reusable snack bag from GrannyZann, or a Yogi Bear print. MamaMade has an enormous selection of eco-friendly products, including large and sandwich sized reusable bags. And NanaBrowns offers a custom design listing for a zipper topped lunch tote.
The coolest thing in the modern lunch box has got to be the crochet apple sack. Perfect for the teacher on the first day of school! IrishHooksAndYarn has one listed that she can ship out in about a week.

Brooks Boutique
Brooks Boutique, snack bags

GrannyZann, snack bags

IrishHooksAndYarn, fruit sacks

MamaMade large & sandwich size bags

nanabrowns insulated lunch sack
If you are like me and create handmade wardrobe or supplies for your young ones, there are many supplies to be had on Etsy. From fabric to patterns, DIY can be a snap with the help of Etsykids sellers. MonkeyAndFriends offers fabric and patterns at great prices, and you'll find a wonderful hat patterns at palomiux.

With a little planning, back to school shopping can be fun and memorable for the child. Your choices can be ethical and your selections can be as unique as the child you are shopping for. Don't be in hurry for the next stage of childhood, take the time to enjoy your child today, who she or he is right now. Don't forget to just quietly watch as they walk through the wonder years.

AveryLane the Blog.

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