Archive for June, 2010

Summer officially began this past Monday (summer solstice!), it’s time to get out and enjoy the season by visiting your local park or playground. We have a nearby park that Lilah has dubbed “my park.” She also says that her “Grandma C” has two parks (big and small), along with our friend Cooper who has his park, and my parents who have “their park.” This seems to be her current trend… everything has an owner. It certainly helps me know where she wants to go!    

On a daily basis, I feel as though I have way too much to accomplish and going to the park sounds nice, but not something that easily fits into the time before bed. However, in Lilah’s world, the park is a necessity. She is my one and only, therefore I generally crack under the pressure of “PPPLLLEEEEAAAASSSEEE mom, can we go to the park.” She’s growing like a weed and I’m feeling like her childhood is passing way too fast. If going to the park on the way home from work and spending an hour swinging in the swings, sliding down the slides, and climbing on the jungle gym makes her happy, I’m there. In the end everyone needs to get out and enjoy the fresh air to keep their sanity. Kids are more clued into that that anyone. Go play!

Photos of Lilah at 'grandma’s big park' wearing a Le Top Tulip Garden coral smocked shirt and capri pant set

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Image by: Nick Harvey/WireImage

Daughter of Beatles legend Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney, 38-years-old, and husband Alasdhair Willis are expecting their 4th child this coming fall. We know this will be one stylish baby! The baby will join brother Miller Alasdhair James, 5, sister Bailey Linda Olwyn, 3½, and little brother Beckett Robert Lee, 2½.

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Paul and I recently had a great weekend visiting with friends in Monterey California.  Monterey is a pleasant 2 ½ hour drive from our home, but for some reason we have not spent much time there.  A group of Paul’s friends from college decided we should have a little reunion (they had a band together during their younger days!), and our little group of eight couples chose to meet in this picturesque ocean side destination.

One of the extraordinary attractions in Monterey is the beautiful aquarium.  I had always wanted to visit this distinctive place, built to highlight the unique environment of the California coast.  I was very impressed!  All of the displays and tanks were like works of art, complete with moving pieces – absolutely gorgeous.  I LOVED the jellyfish exhibit – watching the graceful and beautiful creatures gave me a very calm and peaceful feeling.  The colors were truly mesmerizing.  The seahorse exhibit is amazing!  It was like looking into an entirely different world filled with alien beings.

There was a new exhibit that highlighted the fight to preserve our fragile environment (very timely and moving considering the devastating oil spill in the Gulf).  The highlight of this exhibit was the flamingos!  We don’t see these unusual creatures much in California – we loved the pink!  Just a little note – we were really inspired by some of the beautiful and unusual creatures (hint, hint) – just wait until you see the Spring 2011 Le Top collection!

We had a bonus that day as well – the Monterey Aquarium was hosting an exhibition that highlighted the sustainable seafood movement, educating people about the seafood that is most plentiful in our oceans and healthy as a food source.  We learned a lot about seafood (one of my favorites) – did you know that squid is plentiful, available and delicious?!?!  There were also local farms represented at the exhibition with samplings of cheese, vegetables and fruit – my husband Paul thought it was a buffet!  There were also cooking demonstrations, including a demo from one of the chefs that was recently a finalist on Top Chef Masters television show – Rick Moonan.  Great to get some cooking tips from a master!

We had a great day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a must see destination for adults and children!  We finished off this fun day with a seafood dinner – and although I was thinking “fish are friends not food” – it was delicious!

To learn more about the Monterey Aquarium and our precious ocean environment sign up for their newsletters at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/.

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Miranda proudly accepts her diploma in Le Top's Sweetheart Butterfly drop waist dress.

My daughter has passed another milestone… Kindergarten! The beginning of the 2009-2010 school year was a day to remember. I dropped off my baby in her classroom with other nervous little children who were sharing their first experience of school. Then the teacher shuffled out all the anxious parents and closed the door. It seemed like a long year full of homework, projects and field trips, but yet it also seemed like the first day of school was just yesterday. In a blink of an eye, I now have a first grader.

Has it really been a year since “Grajuration Day“?

This event was so much more different than graduating from preschool. First of all, these six-year olds are sassy and smart. They learned A LOT this year, not only in the classroom but also from their friends. There was so much attitude in the air, for many reasons:

  1. It’s summertime, which means no more homework. They can stay up as late as they want and sleep in. (HA!)
  2. Next year they are first graders which means they get to have two recesses, and they get to play on the big kids’ play structure.
  3. There are cupcakes after the graduation.

As happy as this day was for the kids, it was bittersweet for the parents. I am happy that she did so well in school and has made a lot of friends, but I am sad that she’s growing up so fast. All I can do is take a mental photograph of this day and cherish it. Tomorrow is another day, and I’m sure summer will be a drag because she’ll be bored not seeing her friends every day and wonder why Mommy and Daddy are still working, and shouldn’t we all be on summer vacation.

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Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.”

– Robert Frost

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Spell out to your daddy how much you love him this Father’s Day!  Make him a paper picture frame using the letters of his name or simply “DAD”.  This gift from your child can stand proudly on his desk, around the house or next to his bed with the easy help of bent paper clips! The photographs in this craft are trimmed to show your baby or kids faces, where they peek through the holes of the letters.

Items Needed:

  1. Lightweight card stock in any color
  2. One sheet of plain white paper
  3. Scissors
  4. Pencil
  5. 2 paper clips

Frame How-To

  1. Draw in block letters “DAD” with thick lines on a white sheet of paper to create a template for the picture frame (see picture for the shape you are).
  2. Lay the template over lightweight card stock – choose whatever color you like!
  3. Trace with a pencil and cut out.
  4. For all you mommies, cut out the middle parts of each letter.
  5. Trim photos to fit the openings, making them slightly larger than the holes
  6. Tape the photos behind the frame.
  7. To make the frame stand up, bend open two paper clips and tape the small sides to the backs of the letters at the very bottom (see picture).
  8. Give Daddy a hug and present this gift with love!

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Race car driver daddy, Jeff Gordon, will be zooming home to sing his sweet little girl, Ella Sofia Gordon, happy birthday on Sunday! She is 3-years-old – big hugs from us at Le Top on your special day.

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Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers – say that 10x fast! Okay, FORGET that and instead check out Piper Children’s Boutiques who are our 7th premier store retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series (where we feature one of Le Top’s best stores of the week).  Nancy Vansanten, owner of Piper Children’s Boutiques, gives us the low down on shopping at her 3 stores in Indiana and what makes her boutiques “different” – even having her store employees dress up in whimsical tutus and fairy wings!  How fun!

Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive weekly “Store Spotlight” updates — Become a fan and Click HERE

Visit Piper Children’s Boutiques’ website at http://www.piperboutiques.com/

1.   The name “piper” reminds me of the Peter Piper nursery rhyme – was this the inspiration of your store name? If not, what was your inspiration?

Nancy:  Piper is my daughter’s name, hence the stores name. Piper was 2 when I opened the first store. She is pregnant now and expecting in August.  The baby is going to come home from the hospital in Le Top! Like so many of my other customers! 

2.   They always say, “location, location, location” in real estate. You have 3 store locations – which was the original store location? Can you describe the neighborhoods of your stores?

Nancy:  The first store opened on March 17th, 1983 in Hobart, Indiana. 5 years later the Valparaiso store opened. The Indy store is Piper’s and opened on March 17th, 2006. The stores are located in downtown areas, smack dab in the middle of town. I like the feel of downtowns and it gives me more freedom than operating out of a mall.

What do you think is the best way to pick a baby name?

Nancy:  Right now my daughter is pregnant with a baby boy due this August – the name is a secret still! I always wanted Piper to name her son Tom-Tom. This was an idea years ago. You know, Tom-Tom the Piper’s Son, but that was rejected immediately. Obviously I have no idea how to pick a name for a child. I used to record the new babies names that shopped in my store, and have always felt very popular names would not suit me. Sarah Palin copied me though. In 1980, when Piper was born, I never heard the name Piper, now it seems to have caught on.

4.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

Nancy:  Three Keys:  First two are obvious – customer service and dedication to work. The one thing, and main thing, that sets us apart and keeps people coming is “We’re Different.” We are not only carry a great mix of merchandise that is quality, unique, funky, a little edgy, top of the trends, classic etc., but we also have ‘out-there’ displays; most people say how different our stores are. Most of our lines are exclusive to NW Indiana. I travel everywhere to find our produt.  Europe, Asia, South America etc. I’ve even looked around Arabia a few times. Didn’t find anything but great for inspiration. Here are few of the qualities that make us “different” and unique:

  • Our hours on the door say:  Daily 10:00 – 5:53, Friday 10:00 – 7:53, Sunday – At the Beach.  People often ask ‘why 5:53?’  Our response “We’re Different – come see how.”  Our phone message states the same. They ask “at the beach? In the middle of the winter?.”  Response:  ‘We didn’t say what beach”.
  • The display girls wear tutus and wings when we are changing the windows and the costumers love it.
  • We often dress to the theme of the near holiday or make up one of our own.
  • In the summer there are many diners eating outside near our store.  We try to change the windows then. Our window displays are whimsical – magical, so we are told.
  • Our hats are legendary – we make some of them and often have “Hat Hour”
  • We give out $2.00 bills for change.
  • We have fun.
  • We accessorize every outfit.  Hat, bow, shoes, blanket, toy, bracelet, purse, sox etc.  We have many come to the store to accessorize outfits they were given, even from other stores. “Staying true to quality, comfort and design in every piece of clothing I choose” is my motto.  Le Top is one of the best manufactures I have had in all three of these criteria, plus the customer service is unmatched anywhere in this industry.
  • We deliver to new moms in the hospitals.
  • Our windows are extreme.  Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.  I think Bruno (our Le Top sales representative) would tell you that about me.  There are so many other ways we are different but I don’t want to give away everything.

5.   If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Nancy:  Advice — Post your hours and KEEP them.  It sounds easy but it’s not.

6.   What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

Nancy:  One memorable moment, and there are many, is at my 25th anniversary celebration.  I saw so many past moms that are now grandmothers and return to wish me luck and buy a special outfit for their grandchild. I often hear, ” I brought all my children home from hospital [or Easter dress, Christmas, etc.] in a Piper outfit and now I’m doing the same for my grandchildren.”

I think I am one of Le Top’s longest standing retailers…27 or 28 years?

7.   What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon do you love most from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

Nancy: I always love the coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits.  My grandson is coming home in the Puppy, Please! group.

Owner Nancy Vansanten (right) in her Hobart Store


Piper Children’s Boutique
8235 E 116th Street
Fishers, IN 46038

Piper Children’s Boutique
15 E Lincoln Way
Valparaiso, IN 46383

Piper Children’s Boutique
322 Main Street
Hobart, IN 46323

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Well, maybe not all the time but I must admit I was a bit envious of Lilah’s first pediatric dentist visit. When I was a kid I was lucky to get a Highlights or Ranger Rick magazine in the waiting room. When we walked into her new dentist office there were trains and toys galore along with all the kid’s magazines. I checked Lilah in for her appointment with the super chipper staff, and we were shortly ushered to their quiet consultation room. They walked me through the dental appointment process and procedures and were patient when Lilah was too shy to answer any questions.

All new patients get a keepsake of their visit.

I was amazed when they brought us in to the patient room. It was heaven. They had the patients’ tables with TV screens above (and headsets) for the kids to watch cartoons on, there were video games in the corner (real arcade types) for the kids who were waiting for their siblings or had just finished up their own appointment, and at least 4-5 staff members were talking to the kids, cleaning teeth and taking photos of each patient with the dentist. After giving Lilah a sticker of her choice (Dora and Boots), the dentist and his assistant both walked Lilah and I through the steps of how to brush properly, which teeth needed to be flossed (only the ones that were close together where plaque can collect), and choosing proper nutrition and drink options for the best possible dental health. I was incredibly proud of my girl when she fully cooperated and even smiled for her photo. Just like when I was a kid, Lilah was given the opportunity to take a small toy from a basket as a prize (though she declined).

After all was said and done, she convinced me to stay for an additional 15 minutes to play with the trains. She did not want to leave and exclaimed that she had “so much fun.” I’m thrilled that her first experience at the dentist was a positive one. Shortly after arriving home, Lilah pulled out her goody bag and showed me her stash of 4 toothbrushes, a flossing tool, a SpongeBob sticker and some other random items. That evening she couldn’t wait to show me how well she could brush her teeth. Yay!!!

Less than a week after her visit Lilah received a colorful handwritten postcard (with stars and hearts) thanking her for being an amazing patient. I couldn’t be happier. I would suggest that anyone considering whether to take their kids to their dentist or a pediatric dentist should go with the latter. I’m sure this experience will set her up for a more positive outlook towards her dental health.

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Thank you Jay for sending this photo of your exquisite little Madeline (2-years-old). She seems pleased as punch to be spending time at a park.

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