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Archive for August, 2009

Last Saturday, our day for chores, grocery shopping, gardening and the like, was pleasantly interrupted by a call from a close family friend. His family member was moving to Washington and had a playhouse her kids had outgrown; could we use it?  Our response: “Love to!”  The next thought: “Where will we put it?” Our smallish yard is pretty full with our large edible garden, flowers, patio furniture, lots of gardening equipment, a grill, and lumber for an upcoming fencing project!

PlayhouseI tend to live by Tim Gunn’s motto of “Make it Work.”  A few hours and an aching back later everything was in its new organized place and our yard actually looked bigger! Our friend showed up with the pieces of the house and by the time Lilah woke up from a much needed nap she had a new playhouse. She was so excited to have a ‘new home!’  We put potted roses outside the kitchen window to give it a homey feel – it’s perfect!!! Lilah loved it so much that, even though the fog had rolled in and a cold wind blew through our yard, she insisted we have a tea party. Luckily one of the walls pulls back to make it an indoor/outdoor dining table so I could be in the house without actually being “in” the house. I know she will get years of enjoyment out of this little abode. I am grateful we can enjoy the playhouse, rather than adding to the landfill!  Tea Anyone?

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Nicole Jodan

Heidi Hulse had finished up her Master’s Degree and had a momentous choice to make…the nearest job would have been an hour commute away.  Heidi choose instead to use her education within her community, and fulfill a perceived need – she knew from experience that the closest place to shop for children’s clothing was over 50 miles away – so she opened a delightful boutique that catered to the local community.  Family was an important consideration as well, and to honor this priority the boutique name is the combination of her two children’s middle names – Haylee Nicole and Hunter Jordan.

Nicole Jordan’s Children’s Clothing Boutique is located in charming and historic Mount Vernon, Ohio – founded over 200 years ago – an important stop along the railroad that connected Pittsburgh to Chicago and St. Louis.  One of Heidi’s favorite things about her decision to open Nicole Jordan is the friends she has made within the community. She is constantly running into customers and their children around town.  The children love the store (especially her toy room!) and the dad’s know her because “You’re the one that has the store where my wife spends her money!”  Heidi loves the craziness of “Sale Days” and wondering “What is going on here???”  She also loves “Grandmas with a ‘shopping problem!”  One of Heidi’s biggest ‘perks’ is having flexibility, including the ability to have her children with her at the store.  (Although Heidi does confide that “Some days I don’t always feel that way!”) 

Heidi Holding a Striped Coverall from the Walking with Dinosaurs Collection

Heidi Holding a Striped Coverall from the Walking with Dinosaurs Collection

Customer comments prove that Heidi has done a great job with her decision:

“For the best dress selection: The service is very personalized and the hand-picked selection is adorable. From the moment you walk in you know you are in a special place.”

“Great place to buy children’s clothes: I am always pleased when I shop at Nicole Jordan’s.  She carries beautiful dresses for infants.”

Nicole Jordan is known for special occasion clothing, including Communion, Easter and Christmas dresses.  Heidi’s impressive personalized service is another attractive reason to visit the store.  She also is pleased and happy to accept phone orders!  If you are visiting this pleasant area north of Columbus Ohio drop in and say hello – Heidi will be happy to make you feel like a local!

Nicole Jordan’s Children’s Clothing Boutique
23 N. Main Street
Mount Vernon, OH 43050-3203
740.397.9922

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Nate with his Diapermatic 2000

Nate with his Diapermatic 2000

A Texas reader sent this in, and we loved thinking about disposable diapers from a slightly different perspective!

Nate (pictured) won 3rd place in his 3rd grade “Invention Convention” science fair. His invention?  The Diapermatic 2000 – a remote controlled diaper dispenser!

This is an invention for all those kids who are responsible for taking out the trash, and have to deal with the ‘unpleasant’ aspects of younger siblings in diapers. After all…who likes to take out dirty diapers? Not Nate!

Here’s how it works:

1. Place dirty diaper in trash bag.

2. Place bag on hook of remote control helicopter.

3. Fly helicopter with its ‘load’ to the trash and push release button over trash can.

I think there are great things in Nate’s future!

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ruffle_lgParents face many dilemmas – picking a preschool, piano or violin lessons, soccer or baseball…but parents today are faced early on with a difficult choice – cloth or disposable? I have friends that made the decision to use cloth, but I just jumped in and without much thought started with disposables. I thought it might be interesting to do some research and share the options.

First priority: Baby’s Health

  • One of the pluses of disposables is the ‘wicking’ properties that keep baby’s bottom drier and more comfortable – however any diaper you choose should be changed every 2-3 hours whether it seems wet or not since any wet diaper can cause diaper rash if left unattended.
  • The absorbent filler in many disposables has been linked to health problems in mice when exposed at high levels and some children may have an allergic reaction to the filler in disposables.

Convenience

  • No doubt disposables are easy to use – one use and you throw them away. They also generally provide better leak protection. One negative to disposables – Some say it’s harder to potty train since the kids don’t feel the moisture.
  • There is an additional level of work with cloth diapers – they need to be washed and ‘handled.’  Some daycares and preschools do not allow the use of cloth diapers.

Disposables

The Environment

  • Disposable diapers are bad for the environment; it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year. For slightly less impact, dump the “organic waste” in the toilet before you throw them in the trash.
  • Cloth diapers can lessen the impact on the environment – especially if you choose organic cotton (no chemical spraying.) Pre-rinse diapers, and then wash in warm, not hot water using non-toxic detergents.

Cost

  • Cloth diapers can save you about $700 per child over 2½ years. (I know I spend about $100 a month in disposable diapers.)

Newer Optionsgro-baby-open-non-annotated-250x250

  • There are now disposables that are non-toxic, containing no dyes or fragrance.
  • Some new disposables are corn-based, less harmful to the environment but not as effective for overnight (because they do biodegrade well) and some are made with wood-pulp and natural-blend cotton.
  • Various new ‘hybrids’ have cute form fitted covers with Velcro or snap closures with snap in liners that can be washed. Also you can use absorbent biodegradable inserts that can be flushed – the result is minimal laundry and less going to a landfill. (One caution: some waste disposal plants say they do not degrade well, so check with your local waste management district for more information.)

I did find an enormous amount of information about the cloth versus disposable dilemma. In the end everyone needs to weigh out what works best for their baby, the environment, the associated costs and their personal lifestyle. I hope this information helps with your decision! Happy Diapering!

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firstdayofK

Miranda Wearing Cute as a Button Rib Knit Shirt and Baby Wale Corduroy Skort Set

The long-awaited day has arrived. My daughter has been so excited! Alas, it is here…The First Day of Kindergarten.

The night before, we carefully selected what her first-day-of-school outfit will be. She wanted to wear a dress (to give her teacher a good first impression) but I wanted her to wear shorts or pants because sitting on the carpet will be more comfortable. So, we decided on le•top’s 2009 Fall collection Cute As A Button ensemble. The skirt has built-in shorts!!! (My favorite part—why didn’t they have those when I was growing up?) And it went so well with her new Back-to-School ‘do!

For the past month, I have been mentally preparing myself NOT to cry when I drop her off at school. All I could think of was that my baby is growing up, and from now on until she graduates from high school, she will be in school everyday, five days a week, with only a few weeks during the year when she can enjoy childhood. But on the flip side, I realized that I would now have mornings to devote to my 5-month old son who needs my attention now more than ever.

Today, as we drove to school, there was no time to cry. We were running late, the parking lot was full, cars were parked all along the neighboring streets, and the classroom was filled with paparazzi parents snapping cameras and videotaping this monumental day. It was hard to just get my daughter INSIDE her classroom, let alone me and my stroller. After 10 minutes of listening to the teacher take roll and the students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the teacher instructed the students: “Please look for your parent and wave goodbye so they can leave and we can start class.” Miranda found me, waved goodbye with a big smile, then sat down for Circle Time.

I exited the classroom then walked back to the car. A single tear rolled down my cheek. All I could think of was that my little girl is a BIG girl now.

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Table-Side Guacamole Maker

Table-Side Guacamole Maker

A few weeks ago we had a successful and exciting start to our Spring 2010 season at the Children’s Club Show in New York!  The le•top team, exhausted but happy, was rewarded each evening by the wonderful restaurants that populate New York – we do have a reward besides the satisfaction of happy customers!

Eating is always one of the highlights of our trip, since we LOVE good food!  We have our favorite places, including Gotham Bar and Grill (beautiful, and just FEELS like New York,) Il Cantinori (great Italian with lots of ‘celebrity spotting’) and  Parma (a REALLY OLD favorite – in every way!)  By the way…New York has FABULOUS Italian food, and always seems different than what is available here in California (because New York is closer to Italy than we are???)

The le•top crew (Californians all!) decided to break it up a little and sample some cuisine native to our area at Rosa Mexicano, an energetic and happening restaurant with 3 locations in Manhattan.  We hit the location at Union Square that features architectural accents inspired by the late, famed Mexican architect, Luis Barragan, including an illuminated electric-blue tiled water wall featuring cliff diver figurines and candles within the cascading water – very cool!  We jumped at experiencing the table-side guacamole, both spicy and mild …then just had to order a third bowl!  Honestly, this is the best guacamole!  We enjoyed all Rosa’s menu items, including enchilada suisas, chicken flautas and tortilla soup – and of course treated ourselves to some fabulous Margaritas!  After indulging we were spiced up and eager for another great day at the Children’s Club Show!

NYIf you are ever in Manhattan and want a taste of Mexico, be sure to visit any of Rosa Mexicano’s three locations, you won’t be disappointed!  Ole’!

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BabyIt’s that time of year again – school vaccinations and possibly a vaccination in preparation for the onslaught of the winter flu season.  Let’s face it – the worst thing for a parent is thinking of any kind of pain for their precious little ones! Marice, a mother of two and part of our design team, passed on a trick she has used over the years and says that it works like a charm to lessen the initial “ouch!”

Try this for babies and toddlers: Right as the nurse is beginning to stick them, gently blow in their face.  Although Marice did not know why it works, it seems to distract the child just enough for the nurse to administer the vaccine.  By the time they look to see what happened, it’s all over!  

For older kids (and adults, by the way):  Have them take a deep breath and blow it out as they get the shot.  Make sure they don’t hold their breath – you don’t want them to pass out!

After that…a kiss and a hug works wonders!

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