When it comes to traveling, I believe in traveling light. Traveling without excessive baggage when you have kids is a difficult task. Yet, it can be done. I recently took a trip to Southern California. It was my first vacation not having to pack baby gear in years. I was determined to pack light and carry my luggage on the plane.
I needed to select our attire wisely in order to take the bare minimum. We were going to be by the beach and be taking the kids to amusement parks. We would be getting sandy, dirty, and wet. After I selected clothing for me and the kids, I had to figure out what shoes to pack. For the kids, the choice was easy; Keens and Crocs. For me, that choice was a little more difficult.
I really wanted to bring two pairs of Birkenstocks because I knew that we would be on our feet most days. I was confident that Birkenstocks would provide me with all the support required for this trip. However, we would be getting wet at the beach and on some amusement park rides. For those of us Birk wearers, we know that Birkenstocks and water don’t mesh. When the Birkenstock footbed gets wet it gets slimy. In addition, getting Birkenstocks wet frequently can ruin the shoes.
I did not want to take a chance of ruining any of my beloved Birkenstocks by getting them wet. Fortunately, Birkenstock now makes a waterproof sandal in EVA material.
I found a pair of Birkenstock EVA’s for my husband, but I was unable to locate a pair for myself that fit. This is because Birkenstock EVA shoes are only sold in narrow width for women in the US.
Since I could not find the Birkenstock EVA shoe in a regular width, I tried a pair on in narrow width.
As I suspected, my foot was too wide for the narrow footbed. I am disappointed that Birkenstock is only offering this shoe in a narrow width in the US. I have a friend in Europe that recommended an online site that sells authentic Birkenstocks and ships them internationally from Germany. On this website, I found a pair of EVA material Gizeh’s, in regular width, and ordered them. Unfortunately, they did not arrive before my departure date and I had to pack a non Birkenstock pair of water shoes.
I decided to bring my Olukai Ohana’s as my waterproof sandals for this trip. My Birkenstock shoe of choice were my Mayari’s. I have worn my Mayari’s power walking up to 4+ miles at a time. I knew these would keep my feet feeling great. I was a little uncertain how the Olukai’s would treat my feet.
I wear the Olukai’s around the house and they provide me decent arch support for short periods of time. I was not sure how my feet would feel after spending hours walking in these shoes. Although the Olukai’s provided me arch support, they did not offer me metatarsal support. After the second full day on my feet in the Olukai’s, I started having foot pain. My feet yearned for the raised toe bar and the contoured footbed of my Birkenstocks.
I wore my Birkenstock Mayari’s for the remainder of my trip and avoided getting them wet. The Olukai’s worked out well for taking short walks on the beach or wearing around the house as a slipper. Yet, for a full day of walking, the Olukai’s were just not supportive enough for my needs.
Had I been able to locate a pair of regular width Birkenstock EVA’s before my vacation, I would have had happy feet all week long. My husband wore his EVA’s throughout our entire trip. Not once did he complain about foot pain, even after all the walking we did.
When I arrived home, my Birkenstock EVA Gizeh’s, in a regular width, had arrived.
I slipped them on my feet and they were amazing. No break in period was required. These will be prefect for my next beach adventure. (And for the next Giant’s game I attend!)
For future vacations, I plan to pack light again. However, I intend to pack heavy with Birkenstocks. I will avoid packing non Birkenstock shoes, in lieu of equipping myself with two pairs of Birks. This will ensure that my feet get all the support that they desire and make for an extra pleasurable vacation.
I like Olukai’s. I Love Birkenstocks!
NOTE: Are you curious what other non Birkenstock shoes that I wear? If so, read this blog.
It’s been about 25 years since I have tried to get my dad to wear a pair of Birkenstocks. I was flipping through some old photos and there was a picture of him wearing a pair of knock-off Birkenstocks. This picture was taken in the mid 1990s. I was flooded with memories after I glanced at that image.
Those memories painted a clear picture of my first attempt to get him to wear authentic Birkenstocks decades ago. I remember, as a teenager, encouraging him to buy a pair of Birkenstocks because my experience with them had been stellar. At the time, my dad chose to pass on genuine Birkenstocks in lieu of alternative two strap look-alike sandals. Why? Probably because of the Birkenstock price tag.
Twenty-five years down the road and the same two are issues are relevant. One, I continue to try to persuade my dad into purchasing Birkenstocks. And, two, he won’t buy them because they are expensive. It takes my dad a long time to make a decision when purchasing a big ticket item. For example, when he is in the market for a new car, he takes his time, test drives several different brands, ponders over colors, and carefully considers which model of car would best fit his needs. The same holds true when it comes to purchasing expensive footwear. He has essentially been considering buying a pair of Birkenstocks for two and a half decades.
Birkenstocks have been incredible for my health needs over the years. I knew that they would also be great for my dad because he has many of the same issues that I have experienced. My dad often complains about foot pain, knee pain, and lower back pain. Finding shoes that fit his wide foot, with a high arch, is a struggle. My dad has to special order his shoes, like some people special order custom made cars. This is because most local stores don’t carry extra wide shoes that fit his foot. He often tries several different models of shoes before finding a pair that provides him the support he needs without rubbing the sides of his feet.
At times, I felt like a car salesperson trying to talk my dad into buying a pair of Birkenstocks to improve his health issues. I explained to him, just like there are many makes and models of cars, there are various models and materials of Birkenstocks. It was a matter of finding the style, the footbed, and the material that would best suit his needs. I offered to take my dad to the store to try on Birkenstocks, yet he declined. I sent him emails with links on which Birkenstock models to order. I also provided him with his correct European size and the width that would most likely fit his foot. He still did not take the plunge.
When April rolled around, I decided to treat him to a pair of authentic Birkenstocks since I knew he would never do so on his own. After all, I have been having the same conversation with him for 25+ years. I ordered the Birkenstocks in spring to give him plenty of time to properly break in the shoes before summer arrived. My dad had been eyeballing the Birkenstock Milano’s. He was hoping that the three strap model Birkenstock would better keep his feet in the shoes, compared to the two strap Arizona style. He also wanted a soft footbed so he could to avoid the break in period of an original footbed Birkenstock.
Based on his request, I ordered the Milano in a soft footbed.
I was fairly certain that he would not like having to buckle/unbuckle the third strap of the Milano. I thought he might prefer the Arizona model better because he could easily slip his foot into the sandal. However, I needed to start where my dad was at in terms of his level of readiness.
Ordering the Milano’s was a starting point for my dad. He was simply taking the Milano’s for a “test drive.” He was getting a feel for how a pair of Birkenstock’s would handle the road of which he walked. Guess what? Taking the Milano’s for a quick spin around the house demonstrated to my dad that the three strap model was not for him. He complained about having to struggle with buckling/unbuckling the third strap. The Milano’s were immediately returned.
The good news was that he liked how the footbed handled his needs. The shoe was wide enough for his foot and provided him much needed arch support. He asked me to order him a pair of Arizona’s. I was happy to accommodate his request. My dad’s level of readiness to welcome a pair of Birkenstocks into his life had increased greatly since trying on the Milano style. When the Arizona’s arrived, my dad slipped them right on and wore them around the house. Before I left his house that day, I reminded him about the Birkenstock break-in process.
I was fairly certain he was going to keep the shoes. In fact, he wore them around the house for several days. He liked the Arizona’s, they felt comfortable, yet he was concerned about getting them dirty. He did not want to wear the shoes outside of the house. My heart melted, I knew that he was not ready to commit to the break in process of Birkenstocks. He asked me to return them. He wanted a sandal that he would not have to worry about getting dirty or wet. My dad spends a lot of time in his garden and even more time washing his cars. Since my dad could not wear these Birkenstocks attending to his favorite tasks around the house, he felt like he should not keep them.
After all my dad has done to help me over the course of my life, he deserved an authentic pair of Birkenstocks. I knew that my dad still yearned for a pair and I was not going to give up my search. I kept looking at different styles and models. Then one day, the summer Birkenstock styles appeared in stores. I found the Birkenstock Arizona’s in the EVA material. These are waterproof Birkenstocks. They were going to be PERFECT for my dad.
I ordered the Birkenstocks in the EVA material as a gift for Father’s Day. I was so excited when they arrived that I gave them to my dad early. He loved them! These shoes provided all the arch support of regular Birkenstocks, without the break in period, and they were waterproof. Plus, they can easily be cleaned with soap and water. The Birkenstock Arizona EVA are the ideal sandals for my dad to wear while gardening or washing his cars.
Here are some pictures of my dad wearing his Birkenstocks with and without socks.
The aforementioned benefits of the Birkenstock in the EVA material were just what my dad required. I am confident that by wearing his Birkenstocks, my dad’s feet and back issues will start to ease up. My hope is that my dad will like these Birks so much that he will want another pair. His birthday is just around the corner. Perhaps I can upgrade him into a pair Arizona’s with leather straps before another 25 years passes by.
I Love Birkenstocks….and I think my dad loves them too.
Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you.
I have been blogging about Birkenstocks for about one month. Instead of people wanting to have a discussion about what I have written, people are asking me the same three questions. These questions are coming, not from strangers, but social media “friends”. People that have known me in some capacity over the years. For those people close to me, you already know the answers to these questions. This blog is primarily for those of you curious to learn more about me or those of you who think you know me, but really have no idea.
Here are the primary three questions I have been asked since May 2016:
1. Gina Mama, are you selling shoes?
I am blogging about Birkenstocks. Per my tag line, my blog is, “more than you ever needed to know about Birkenstocks and me”.
Though I do occasionally sell my pre-loved Birkenstocks on Poshmark or eBay.
2. Why, Gina Mama, are you blogging about Birkenstocks?
I am blogging about Birkenstocks because they have changed my life. The health benefits associated with wearing supportive shoes have improved my mind, body, and soul. I love Birkenstocks and I want everyone else I know to love them too. My family and close friends were getting tired of hearing me rave about Birkenstocks. I figured if I Love Birkenstocks, someone else in the world has to love them as well. Hence, I decided to create a webpage to target a niche audience. There is no other blog page like mine that focuses solely on Birkenstocks.
If you look online for information about Birkenstocks, there are only bits and pieces of useful information on various sites. Most people who blog on particular brands get paid to write their articles. Birkenstock does not spend a great deal of money on marketing and few bloggers focus their attention on this brand. If you can find a rare article about Birkenstocks, it is typically on a fashion blog that is a couple years old.
My webpage keeps you up to date with Birkenstock information. When I was in search of locating the perfect pair of Birkenstocks, I wanted to know everything possible about the shoes before I made my purchase. Birkenstocks are an investment piece to one’s wardrobe, hence it is important to know how to maintain the shoes for maximum durability. I assume there are other people, like me, who prefer to do their research before purchasing big ticket items.
One of the main reasons I chose to welcome Birkenstocks into my wardrobe, was because I believe in quality over quantity. Last summer I read, Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. One of the themes of this book is to only keep things in your life that make you happy. Birkenstocks make me happy. They add style to my wardrobe, keep my feet and back healthy, plus they put a smile on my face each time I slip my feet into a pair of Birkenstocks.
In addition, I like blogging on Birkenstocks because it is a creative outlet. It allows me an escape from being a full-time working mom. Additionally, blogging provides me an opportunity to use my photography skills. I have enjoyed photography since my days in high school. It was also in high school that I first fell in love with a pair of Birkenstocks. Through my blog, I have found a way to merge my two hobbies: photography and Birkenstocks.
3. Are you getting paid to do this?
No. I have no affiliation with the Birkenstock brand. Although I did have the honor of touring Birkenstock USA.
The only payment I receive is the happiness I gain from being artistically creative.
NOTE: To learn more about Gina Mama, read this blog.
I received an email from someone on the East Coast who had recently purchased a pair of Gizeh’s with a white footbed. This person was reluctant to wear them out of the house without first knowing if the white soles could be cleaned. She said the floor model at Bloomingdales showed soil spots. The reader was concerned that if the white soles looked dirty simply from people trying the shoes indoors, that the dirt would only be magnified from outdoor walking.
This person scoured the internet to find instructions on how to clean white sole Birkenstocks. She could not find any instructions online. Information may be lacking on this topic because Birkenstocks made with white soles are a fairly new item sold in the US. Hence, she emailed me for advice on how to keep the white soles looking white.
I was up for the challenge. My red Arizona’s have white soles and I was noticing how filthy the white appeared.
In the past, I would occasionally wipe the white area clean with a baby wipe. Even with intermittent cleaning, there was still a build up over time. Like my reader, I also could not find instructions on how to clean the white portion of the Birkenstock soles. Therefore, I tried to create a cleaning solution with items I had at home.
I tried cleaning with dish soap. That didn’t work, so I tried Borax. Even with Borax, the white still looked filthy. I had a idea. I had recently cleaned a stroller by brushing on Oxi Clean Gel. After I applied the gel to the stroller fabric, I rinsed it with soap and water. The Oxi Clean Gel worked like a charm on the fabric. The stroller looked like new after my first cleaning attempt.
If Oxi Clean Gel could remove gnarly stains from a stroller, I was confident that it would spruce up the white on the soles of my Birkenstocks. I used an old toothbrush and applied a thin layer of Oxi-Gel. I let the gel sit for 5 minutes. While the gel worked its magic, I made a paste of dish soap, baking soda, and water. At the 5 minute mark, I brushed the paste on to the white soles. This helped to remove the gel and acted as a second level of cleaning and whitening for the soles. Then, I took a wet cloth and wiped the solution off. The shoes were set aside to dry overnight. I was amazed with the results. The white soles of my Birkenstocks looked as good as new.
Below is my video showing how to clean the white soles on your Birkenstocks:
Cleaning Items Needed:
1. Baking Soda
2. Dish soap
8. Oxi Clean Gel
How To Clean the White Soles Of Your Birkenstocks:
1. Use a toothbrush to apply a thin layer of Oxi Clean Gel to the white area on your shoes.
2. Let gel sit 5 minutes.
3. Mix together 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap.
4. Add enough water to make a thick paste with the Baking Soda and the dish soap.
5. Stir the mixture well.
5. Use a toothbrush and scrub the paste on to the white soles.
6. Wipe the footbed with a clean wet towel.
7. Let the shoes dry overnight.
8. Do not place the shoes in the sunlight or near direct heat.
This is a before and after picture of the white soles:
It took me about 10-15 minutes to thoroughly clean the white soles of my Birkenstocks. By using household products, I did not have to purchase anything new to clean the soles. Don’t be hesitant to purchase a pair of Birkenstocks with white soles for fear of them looking dirty over time. With a little elbow grease, you can make a pair of white sole Birkenstocks look as good as new in no time.
NOTE: For other tips on how to care for your Birkenstocks, please visit this blog.
I love Birkenstocks and I don’t see many people my age wearing them. Last summer, I threw a party and a friend arrived wearing Birkenstocks. She was sporting a pair of Adria’s. I was thrilled because I had just bought my red Arizona’s and was wearing them. We became Birkenstock buddies.
Shortly after my party, I ran into her at our city’s annual street fair. Both of us, again, were wearing our much loved Birkenstocks. We walked several miles that day with our kids, as we strolled the main drag. I have a memory of all of us eating lunch on the street watching a local kid perform magic tricks. It was a fun day.
After the stroll, we would continue to run into each other at our kid’s soccer games. Usually, we were each wearing our beloved Birkenstocks. I remember the last time we chatted at soccer was on Halloween. I was dressed as Wonder Woman and I happened to be wearing my red Converse that day, not my Birkenstocks.
What transpired after Halloween makes me think that my friend should have been the one wearing the Wonder Woman costume. A couple days after Halloween, I had gotten a call that she was in the ICU with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). I was shocked and saddened to hear that my friend was in the ICU, battling for her life.
For those of you unfamiliar with GBS, it is a rare auto-immune disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system. The GBS CIDP Foundation International states “Guillain-Barré (Ghee-yan Bah-ray) Syndrome is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord….GBS is characterized by the rapid onset of numbness, weakness, and often paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles, and face. Paralysis is ascending, meaning that it travels up the limbs from fingers and toes towards the torso…(GBS) continues to claim thousands of new victims each year, striking any one at any age, regardless of gender or ethnic background.” (For more information about GBS, please visit their webpage here.)
For about 6 weeks my friend remained in the ICU, completely paralyzed from the neck down. She was then transferred to an acute care facility where she spent months waiting for her nervous system to recover. As she slowly regained her strength, she had to re-learn how to independently manage her activities of daily living.
After battling GBS for 6 months in the hospital and various rehab facilities, she regained enough of strength to continue her road to recovery from home. She continues to have problems with her lower legs and feet. This is because GBS recovery begins in the torso and the limbs (hands and feet) are the last to recover. The opposite of how the symptoms begin.
My friend has issues with dorsiflexion in her feet. Dorsiflexion means that one cannot flex or bend the foot backward. This is the motion needed to keep on flip flops. Now that she was home, she wanted to wear her Adria’s again. However, because she cannot flex her foot backward she was unable to safely keep on the Birkenstocks without risking a fall.
She had tried on other shoe brands and none had worked. Besides, what she yearned for was a pair of Birkenstocks. She was just unsure they made a style that would stay on her feet, given the issue with dorsiflexion. She knew that I had started the “I Love Birkenstocks” blog and asked me to help her locate the Birkenstock model to best meet her needs.
Due to the problems with dorsiflexion, she needed a shoe with adjustable straps around her feet and ankles. She wanted to be able to tighten the straps to have an extra sense of security while walking. She lacks sensation in parts of her feet and is unable to grip the footbed. Thus, the straps were also needed to help keep the shoes on her feet. Moreover, the soles of her feet have become hypersensitive. This meant she would need a soft footbed. In addition, solid arch support was essential because she has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.
We looked at styles online and found the Bali. This style seemed to fit her requirements: ankle strap, soft footbed, and adjustable straps on the uppers. She ordered the shoes and the next day I received this text:
My friend was happy with her purchase! The soft footbed was exactly what she needed for her hypersensitive feet. Her Adria’s are in the original footbed and she recalled how difficult it was to break them in last year. With the Bali’s, she was able to wear them right out of the box with no issues.
Another benefit of the Bali, in addition to the soft footbed, were the adjustable straps over the toes and around the ankle. The adjustability made it possible for her to tighten the shoes to her liking and keep them safely on her feet. Finally, her issue with plantar fasciitis was addressed because of the amazing arch support provided by the Birkenstock brand.
My friend is thrilled with her Birkenstocks. It is heart warming to see her so happy. With all that she has experienced over the course of almost a year with GBS, she deserves only the best. My friend, like Wonder Woman, has highly developed fighting skills. She has fought an uphill battle regaining her strength and continues to improve over time.
I look forward to the day when we can take our kids outside the house for a playdate. Perhaps by the time our annual street fair rolls around again she will be up for a stroll. Or maybe this Halloween we can take the kids trick or treating together. Might I suggest she be the one to dress as Wonder Woman this year?! Whatever the first adventure outside the home may be with our kids, I am fairly certain that we will both be wearing a pair of comfy Birkenstocks for the outing.