Posting about the kids' new shoes is a little odd but this is the kind of thing I get asked about a lot. Plus it gave me an excuse to snap a few cute pictures of a couple of my kids for all you grandparents out there.
If you've ever asked yourself, "What does Susan think are the best kid shoes?" wonder no longer. These are Keen Newport H2s. We first got a pair of these handed down to us the summer Margaret was one. I'd had a heck of a time finding summer shoes that were decently supportive and not sporting Dora the Explorer and Margaret was picky about comfort. Given that she was already walking several miles a day sometimes at that age, I was fine with finding her shoes that worked.
There's an endless debate--especially with children's items--about whether to spend extra for "quality." In general we choose the "budget" option whenever it is feasible. But these shoes are a definite exception. They retail regularly for around $50 a pop which is a lot to spend on kids shoes. But a few times a year the price bottoms out at around $35 which is only a bit more than a decent pair of shoes from Target. And these shoes have other benefits that justify the high price.
First, they are built like tanks. The kids log miles and miles of walking in these shoes and they hold up amazingly well. The original handed down pair of purple Keens is in storage and Margaret's pair from last year will join them. They both still look almost new. I have been burned in the past paying more for something thinking it will last well enough to pass down to the next kid but these shoes have renewed my faith in quality.
Second, the design of the shoes lets us replace other pairs we might normally buy. These are closed-toe but have plenty of breathing space. They are waterproof! And they don't stink! For summer these are the only shoes Margaret wears. They pass muster for me as Sunday shoes because they never look dingy and we walk to and from church. They also work during transitional seasons with a pair of socks. So, other than these Keens, the only other shoes I need to buy are a pair of boots for winter and two pairs of "holiday" shoes (one for Christmas, one for Easter) which I usually find for about $10 apiece. That's not too bad for a yearly shoe outlay.
Third, the kids love them. These arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon and William has not removed them except to change his clothes. He slept in them. That was a real treat when he crawled into our bed in the night and we got kicked in the ribs. Keens don't really work for Joseph's feet but William's shoes will definitely be kept for Gregory and we'll continue to save Margaret's in case she ever gets that sister she's praying for.
So there's my little treatise on kids' shoes. Next time someone asks me about this I can just point them here rather than re-typing all of these fascinating thoughts. And if, after reading this, you are ready to run out and buy some for your kids, two warnings: all Keens run small so you might have to size up and some kids hate them. The first two pairs we owned were given to us by a family whose girls refused to wear them. So I would recommend finding a place to try out your first pair. I bought them last year during the semi-annual REI sale and this year found them online (Shoemall.com) for 20% off and then added an 8% Ebates refund on top. Both times I paid $35.