Okay, first off, a confession of sorts:  I have never lost a single baby sock.  That’s not exactly a confession, since I am rather proud of that fact, but whatever.  Anyway, here are my secrets.

Secret A:  A baby that never learned to take off her own socks while we were in public.  Therefore she’s never dropped one in a grocery store when I wasn’t looking.

Secret B:  A lingerie bag.  I have one of those little mesh, zippered lingerie bags (available at Wal-Mart for a couple of dollars) that you are supposed to use to wash bras in.  I keep it clipped to the side of the laundry hamper with a binder clip and I throw all dirty socks into it.  When it is time to wash, I unclip, zip it up (Elizabeth says “ZIP!”), and toss it into the wash with the regular clothes.  All the socks stay put and never get eaten by the washing machine monster.

I have a reason for sharing my secrets about socks with you.  It is because I want something in return.  Shoe advice.

Elizabeth has officially grown out of her only pair of shoes.  I am fussy about shoes for a couple of reasons.  I had a bad back from middle school until I was six months pregnant.  At six months pregnant, I quit work, started going barefoot all the time (yes, yes, insert your barefoot and pregnant joke here) and my back problems went away.  I concluded that shoes caused my back problems.  (Also, sitting down all the time, but mostly wearing shoes full time, I’ve done some testing.)  My other main reason is that Matt has terrible feet and Elizabeth’s toenails look exactly like his.  Matt yelps in pain if you step on his foot (even if you are a baby and weigh only twelve pounds).  His feet are a mess.  Just in case this is genetic (he takes after his mom’s feet, I am told), I am being extra careful about Elizabeth’s feet.

At first I only let her wear those Robeez shoes (well, technically, I am also cheap careful with money, so I let her wear the Target brand of them).  When she grew out of those (quickly, this child is enormous), I moved on to the Stride Rite Natural Motion System.  Luckily, I found a cute pair that I really liked on eBay for six dollars.  Six dollars!  Including shipping!  Those things are normally $40.  But she’s now grown out of that pair (also, at one point, she bit them, so one of them has a crack in the toe from her TEETH) so I need a new pair of shoes.  I really liked the pair we had before.  They were black leather t-strap mary janes.  They looked nice when she was dressed up and they looked nice when she was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I could slap some black shoe polish on them and they looked brand new again (except for that previously mentioned BITE MARK).

So I am looking for another pair like that.  I’d actually be happy with the exact same pair, just larger, but apparently no one makes them anymore.  I’ve looked on eBay, but there just aren’t any shoe deals to be had in this size (size eight and a half, toddler).  (Now that it is a larger size, I think kids are wearing them longer and wearing them out, instead of them being good resale values.)  I’d be happy with any of the five or so brands of shoes that are all fancy and supposed to be like being barefoot.  (Also known as expensive.)

Does anyone have any ideas?  I am going to have to pay full retail price pretty soon and I never like to do that.  (Especially since I cannot find any shoes at less than $40 and I can’t find any I like at less than $55.  And WHOA $55 for children’s shoes?)