Archive for April, 2010

My good friend Kim, 29, lives on the beach in Morro Bay, California with her son Max and husband.  You know she is a true surfer gal when potty training started with “naked time” at the beach.  I thought I would share this delightful story of potty training at the beach – isn’t life a beach for Max!  I would love to learn in Central America!

Potty training can be challenging!  This is how we got Max out of diapers and into cotton briefs!  It all starts with lots of  “naked time”.  Last summer we had the opportunity to stay in Central America for two months.  Max was about 19 months.  During this time, we were at the beach or pool with Max and he always went with his diaper off.  By having his diaper off, he was able to see himself go “pee pee” or “poo poo.”  Luckily we didn’t have any accidents in the pool, but he did have lots of poops on the beach.  I remember the first accident he had, he ran too me and said “poo poo” and we ran to look at it. This sounds funny, I know, but this is a way for your child to see what he or she is doing.  After he showed me, I told him, “great job and next time, [he should] tell me and we can use the potty.”  I then scooped it up in a plastic bag – kind of like what you would do when a dog poops – and tossed it in the trash.  After several weeks of seeing himself “pee” and “poo,” we (my husband and I) felt Max was ready to use the potty.  By paying attention to his squatting, we could tell if he needed to use the potty and we would ask him.  Throughout each day we would constantly ask him if he had to go to the bathroom.  Max still uses diapers at night, but rarely uses them during the day.

Since we were in Central America, we didn’t have access to little potties or seat cover potties, so we would just hold Max’s arms as he went on the potty.  After a week or so he would say “poo poo”, and this would mean for us to sit him on the potty.  When we got back to California, he didn’t get as much “naked time,” but he could now tell us if he had to use the bathroom.

Around the house we would leave Max’s diaper off and have his “froggie potty” available to him.  We even put a basket of books next to it!  Just the other day he took of his diaper, (which we still use for naps and throughout the night) and sat on the potty and read a book.  He must have learned that from his dad!  

‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.’   –   Emerson”

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This past weekend my boyfriend and I decided to have lunch with his niece Ella and visit her “uptown” (a.k.a. The Upper West Side/UWS).  We joined Ella, her mommy and daddy, as well as her Auntie Alana and two Uncles (Sammy and Marcus) for lunch at a nearby diner.  After lunch we decided to stroll back to their nearby apartment and watch Ella’s mommy get her makeup done for a wedding that evening.   

No, I did not say that!

Ella was the first to burst through the door in excitement that they had visitors, and was followed by the rest of the family.  That’s when I heard (as any good 2-year-old girl host would say):

Ella: “Mommy, should we put out food for everyone?”

Mommy: “How sweet of you!”

Melissa (inner thoughts): “Emily Post would be so proud.”

Editor’s Note:
Please spread the giggles by sharing your funny quotes with us!

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If you’re like most parents of a young child, you feel like you spend all of your time picking up after your kids, doing household chores, and trying to keep your head above water. Well, that is exactly how I feel on a daily basis.  When my daughter dragged a full basket of clean clothes into the livingroom for me to fold, I did a double take.  I asked myself, “Did my husband have something to do with this?”  When I asked him about Lilah and the basket, he had no idea what I was talking about.  Could it be true?  Is there a glimmer of hope that Lilah is now becoming old enough to really help me?!  It turned out, she had heard the dryer buzzer go off, emptied it herself, and brought the laundry out for me to fold.  I really couldn’t be more proud! Next up …folding.

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le●top sends their best wishes to actress Amanda Peet and hubby David Benioff as they welcomed their new baby girl, Molly June Benioff, this Tuesday in New York.  Also a very special congrats to Frances (Peet’s 3-year-old) on your new little sister.  Playing dress up is going to be so much fun!

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Miranda and Paulo both in lots o' fish (from le•top's 2010 Spring collection).

It was a gorgeous (and I mean GORGEOUS!) Spring day last Friday. Although I didn’t plan on being outdoors all day, the kids and I ended up doing so. We were only supposed to have lunch with friends then drive back home for my son’s nap. The sun was shining and people were happily walking around. My daughter, Miranda, asked after our meal, “Can we go for a short walk?” (Sure, why not?)

As we walked around Downtown Pleasanton, we saw life-size art figures* displayed sporadically around the street. At a distance we thought they were real people, but as we got closer, we realized they were bronze sculptures. And they were cool! So cool, in fact, my children thought playing around them was more fun than a playground! (This one is inspired by the “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood, 1928.) Miranda couldn’t get enough! We spent the entire afternoon walking up and down the street counting the number of unique and interesting sculptures we encountered, and admiring the precision and patience the artist put into each work of art. Since we were still in Pleasanton and it was getting late, we called Daddy to meet us here and join us for dinner. So up and down the street we walked again till Daddy showed up.

Who thought we’d spend the day appreciating art? Great idea, Miranda!

(* Works by artist Seward Johnson.)

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In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to give you a fun recycling activity for you and your family. Typical backyard birds don’t know the difference between a fancy bird feeder and one that is homemade.  Save your money and create a feeder out of your empty milk cartons.  By recycling a milk carton and turning it into a homemade craft, your kids can make new-feathered friends!

Be sure to dig up an old pair of binoculars and invest in a bird identification book to keep handy when you put up your feeder.  It is always fun to encourage your children to keep a diary of the birds that visit your new bird feeder.

Skill Level: Moderately easy
Time involved: 2 hours

What You Need:

  • Milk carton
  • Popsicle sticks
  • 1 dowel stick
  • Glue
  • Stapler and staples
  • Masking tape
  • Brown paint (non-toxic)
  • Scissors or a knife (and adult assistance)
  • Twine
  • Birdseeds

Step-by-Step Guide of What to Do:

  1. Clean and dry the milk carton thoroughly.
  2. Staple the top of the carton shut.
  3. Take the masking tape and wrap the entire outside of the carton with it.
  4. (WITH ADULT ASSISTANCE)  Cut openings on opposite sides of a clean carton and coat with nontoxic paint over the masking tape on the carton, which will make the birdhouse look more like wood. (Make sure it is non-toxic paint because when it rains, the paint can drip or even chip and you don’t want the birds pecking at toxic paint!)
  5. Glue Popsicle stick shingles onto the roof (the top of) the milk carton.
  6. For a perch, poke holes below the openings and slip a dowel through the holes.
  7. Fill the bottom of the feeder with birdseed mix. (You can make your own mix by combining a variety of nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, millet, thistle seeds and yellow corn.)
  8. Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, and string a piece of twine through the hole.
  9. Then hang the feeder with twine in a spot that’s easy to see from the house or at least 20 feet away, but far enough away from fences or posts to prevent other animals.


  • A quart size carton works perfect because it is not too large and holds a good amount of food.
  • Check your bird feeder regularly and refill as needed.
  • If you have a lot of squirrels in your backyard, you might want to invest in a squirrel-proof pole birdfeeder.

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Office life can bring hours of munching, lots of caffeine, and a whole lot of sitting so we do our best to get outside and exercise at least once a day.  A good portion of our staff enjoys lunchtime walks around our quaint, industrial local. Two of my co-workers, TC and Dennis, took one such walk today, but received something a little extra than they had bargained for.

Dennis and TC after their surprise run in the rain and hail

The weather forecaster had predicted it was going to rain today, along with thunderstorms throughout the area.  Before TC and Dennis’ walk, it had appeared there were only partial cloudy skies, and they didn’t think twice about stepping out for their usual walk.  About halfway through their normal route, a swift moving storm blew in and the sky opened up and poured!  Needless to say, they started RUNNING and made it back to the office, only to be thoroughly soaked from head-to-toe, and a little beat up from the hail!  TC reported, “At first it was just sprinkling and then [it] just let loose!”  Fortunately, they both live very close to the office, and they were able to drive home and get a dry change of clothes!

Moral of the story: listen to the weather forecaster…and never rely on your California weather “instincts” no matter how long you have lived here!

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