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Archive for September, 2010

Isabella (now-9 months) really is the ‘belle of the ball’.  We are delighted that her mom sent us these photos of her little doll, especially the one wear she dons dress and tights (left) separates from our rabbitmoon fall 2009 collection. Congratulations Isabella on being crowned Le Top’s Darling of the Day!

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Even though I don’t have children, I find that I always want my nephews and nieces to be ‘the best’.  Even the other mothers I hang out with want their kids to be the best…best at school, best athletic, best artist, best musician, first to learn the widest vocabulary, first to read…whatever it may be.  But how healthy is it to have this attitude and what makes kids this way – and eventually evolve into competitive parents and adults?

It seems like competitiveness really sets in at around 5-years-old or so – my nephew Otto is just getting to that age where he is in Kindergarten and bonding with classmates.

I personally feel like in our society today, kids compete with one another for selective schools, sports teams, after-school activities and more.  I often see with parents I know that they feel that discouraging competition will put their child at a disadvantage.  We tend to send our kids mixed messages where we want them to have fun and be carefree about being the “best”, but also want them to have what it takes to be successful. Because of this, I often think about how competitive should your child be at certain ages? What is appropriate?

Competition isn’t inherently good or bad, but it can have positive and negative consequences. In my opinion, competitiveness can be a good thing, as long as you help your kids compete in a healthy way.

The competitive spirit among kids my nephew’s age is related to their increasing sense of know-how, where the kids gauge by comparing themselves with their friends.

I hear friends discussing how their daughter can tie her shoes or ride a bike and we praise a child for learning something new…but when they get to school they want to be the “best” compared to their friends or other kids in the classroom.

According to veteran teacher Vivian Gussin Playe, author of You Can’t Say You Can’t Play (Harvard University Press), “When there’s a classroom birthday party, for example, kids are miserable if they’re left without a seat during a game of musical chairs.” I think its important in times like these to emphasize taking turns, learning, effort and how fun an activity can be instead.

Of course, some kids are more competitive than others. To a certain extent, this is a matter of personality, but boys tend to be more competitive than girls. I find that siblings are often very competitive with one another because the younger sibling “can’t keep up” with the older sibling – sound familiar? Some kids also feel the need to excel in order to win love and attention from their parents.

It’s perfectly normal for your child to make casual comparisons between theirself and their friends. Help your child become more aware of how bragging can hurt other kids’ feelings. It’s also important to be a good role model. Listen to yourself when you talk about your accomplishments, and pay attention to whether you tend to compare yourself with others.  Seeing is believing and your child will learn a healthy level of competitiveness.

Here are Steps on How to Handle Competitiveness in a Fair Way: 

  • Emphasize personal best
  • Buy thoughtfully – Many kids ask for the newest gadgets or toys – make sure it’s not just a present to ‘one-up’ their friends…rather buy it for a good reason such as a holiday or birthday.
  • Talk about role models. – Point out child heroes who help others
  • Ask the right questions. Don’t ask about winning. Ask what your child is learning at school, not how she did on tests; ask how he felt about the game, not who won; ask whether the party was fun, not who was there and what they wore.
  • Refuse to keep score – For example, if you say you are jealous of your brother’s new car, you will teach your kids to judge others by what they have.  Or cheer for your kids during games or sports despite if the team is winning or losing.

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We were at school one morning, and I wanted to get a picture of my daughter with her classmates. As I readied my camera, Miranda posed with one of her girlfriends. I noticed a boy standing a couple of feet from them so I asked him, “Why don’t you stand next to the girls so you can be in the picture, too?”

I can’t. I’m allergic to pink!”

–Seiji, 6  years old

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

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Is this the phrase you hear from your child – when it is clearly late by the clock on the wall – and their grumpy, reactionary response to a call for bedtime tells you that he or she is in fact VERY tired? In our family our daily schedules are full, and if we want to spend time together, sleep tends to fall on the later side. I have always been thankful that my daughter sleeps well through the night and generally wakes up on her own; though I have found that having a good bedtime routine helps keep nighttime fuss to a minimum. The younger your child is when starting a bedtime routine, the more quickly the habits can be set into their brains. The goal is to have your kids fall to sleep on their own without you having to lie next to them or rock them to sleep.

Here is a short list of guidelines to follow:

  • Stop or reduce physically and mentally stimulating activities 1 hour (or more depending on the child) before bed. Instead, have your child read, draw, or play with their toys in a quiet place. I know it is not recommended for them to watch TV during this time, but in our house, if it is something she’s not particularly interested in, it can have a sedative-like effect. If we are calm then she calms down. That does not mean let them fall asleep in front of the TV (though I am sometimes guilty of this after a long day). You still want to make sure they are awake when you start their sleepy-time routine.
  • Bedtime routines vary depending on what works best in your family and the age of your child. Very often a bath is a perfect activity because it is relaxing. Even if bath time is not included, make sure they put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, use the potty and wash their face at a set time.
  • Next, it is a good idea to help them unwind by talking with them and reading a bedtime story (or 3 as the case may be). Often my daughter tries to stretch her ‘just before bed time’ by ignoring my reading and instead starts jumping on the bed or playing around. I remind her that I am going to continue reading and when I’m done, I will leave the room whether she listened to the story or not. That always seems to get her to lie back down and listen.
  • After the book – fix their covers, kiss them goodnight, wish them sweet dreams (or whatever you do) and leave the room. Many children have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that gives them comfort while falling asleep. This is okay unless they are infants in which case it can be a safety hazard. Fans can be a nice white noise if there is still too much noise and activity in the house, but try to stay away from leaving any music on. I’ve known too many people that can’t fall asleep unless the TV or radio is on. This is not a habit that you want to nurture. There may be some crying, but unless is seems excessive for a long period of time – let it happen. If you run in every time your child starts crying, he or she will continue to do it.

Don’t give up – Yes, it can be painful in the short-term, but in long run you will set your child up for healthy nighttime habits. Be sure they get enough sleep between their night sleep and their naps to enable them to think clearly and recharge their cells.

shop Le Top’s fall 2010 collection here 
shop rabbitmoon’s fall 2010 collection here

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A couple of weeks ago I decided to go do something special with my daughter since my husband was out of town. What could we do that she and I would both enjoy and wouldn’t “break the bank”  (especially since she may quickly decide that it wasn’t for her)? My mom suggested a local zoo / amusement park that caters to children. Seeing that my parents offered to come along for some much needed ‘Lilah time’ – I couldn’t refuse.

Though I’m sure these parks (and certainly zoos) were around ‘back in the day,’ they seem to have really dialed them in for maximum effect. Many of my mommy/daddy friends swear by themed playlands and children’s parks that they go to regularly. I hadn’t made the time to venture out with Lilah but that was about to change.

Well, I have to say it was fabulous fun! Admission was only $12 per person, free for under 2-year-olds, and they even have group rates for large parties. The best part was the many choices of activities – we could go to the zoo, barn, rides, huge slides, puppet shows or all of them!

We planned on starting with the zoo, but after a few minutes in the barn area, I looked over and Lilah had her finger covering her nose. She refused to remove it to feed the goats because she didn’t like the smell. Okay, well then … off to the rides.

She rode every ride and slid on every slide (more than once) and still wanted more. At this point we were too tired to go over to the main zoo, and we decided to head home. Now we have something to look forward to for next time. I was so happy to have my parents along with us to spend time with Lilah, take turns waiting in line for rides, and generally enjoy the day! 

Our day at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose, California

I would highly recommend that you visit your local amusement park / zoo / playland. There is something for everyone. If you’re taking little ones be sure the amusement park caters to small children because many rides have height restrictions. Who wants to tell their child they can’t go on a ride because they’re too small. Not me. In the end, I had a happy girl who can’t wait to go back and see the zoo.

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We are obsessing over this week’s Premier Store Spotlight with “The Pumpkin Patch”, located in West Virginia.  Owner Sherry Houvouras walks us through her journey of opening her first store to reminiscing on her back to school fashions as a child to when Hollywood came to Huntington, West Virginia (and her spicy encounter with baby daddy Matthew McConaughey). We can’t wait to share our latest Q&A with the cutest store in West Virginia…read more and be as enchanted as we are with “The Pumpkin Patch.” 

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1.      Where did the name The Pumpkin Patch come from?
Sherry: When the first of our four children was born, Andrea picked up the moniker of “our little pumpkin.”  So when we decided to open our first children’s store in 1977,  it was a natural to name it “The Pumpkin Patch.” 

We opened in 1977 and were fortunate that we did not have the large malls we do now at the time, however, we did have several other small children’s stores in the area with the closest being 15 miles away.  We made every effort to carry brands that other kids’ stores did not carry.  We ventured into the world of maternity apparel after several years and found this segment of our business to be lots of fun. We enthusiasticlly accepted to open our store as we had several large local corporations with many female employees who were required to ‘dress professionally’ and they were thrilled to find career type maternity fashions at The Pumpkin Patch.  In addition, we carried a large selection of nursery bedding ensembles.  

2.      Can you share any pictures of your store with us? 

The Pumpkin Patch in Ceredo, West Virginia

City Kids in Huntington, West Virginia


3.      Describe the neighborhood where your stores are located.
Sherry:
 The Pumpkin Patch is located in a strip mall in a small town with a population of approximately 4,000 people.  However we are situated on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky.  So we draw many customers from the Kentucky area. 

4.      Your first store began in 1977 and then you expanded with a 2nd store in 1989 – what made you decide to expand and what do you think is special about each store?
Sherry: In l989, and three children later, we opened a second store approximately 15 miles from The Pumpkin Patch.  The second store, which we named City Kids, is located on a main street of Huntington, West Virginia. The location of City Kids is in a nostalgic street front store in a historic hotel, The Frederick, which dates back to the glory days when entertainers such as Dagmar, Judy Garland, Red Buttons, and others came to Huntington to perform.  A “kiddie store” (as older residents tell me) has been in this same spot for over 75 years. We chose a different name for the second store with the thought that a customer would more likely travel from one store to the other if they knew they would find different product lines – they might not venture to a second store if they thought we were a duplicate of the first.  This plan has worked well for us as we actually force customers to travel to both shops in order to “see it all”.  If we discover a shopper didn’t find an item at one store, we describe something we carry at the other location and they are anxious to make the short drive.  In addition, City Kids really caters to the working mom who is shopping on her lunch hour as we are in the center of the business district.  However, since we close at City Kids at 5 p.m. each day, if  a customer finds they can’t get at item at noontime, they can always drive to The Pumpkin Patch where we are open until 8 p.m. daily.  Huntington is on the border of Ohio, so this store has a large draw of customers from the Ohio area. 

 

5.      What sets you apart with two successful children’s stores?
Sherry: We are constantly stiving to stay abreast of current trends, yet our area has really suffered from the economic downturn, so we also must be aware of a good product at a good value.  That’s one of the reasons Le Top is one of our most popular lines.  A comment I often hear when a customer is mentioning Le Top is “Le Top makes such a quality garments and the style is always fun.”  Le Top has a wonderful girl’s line, but customers rave over the boys fashions.  

6.      Back to school is here – do you remember what you wanted to wear on your first day of school or a childhood memory of your first day at school?
Sherry: Back to school has certainly changed from the time I was a little girl.  My mother would take me shopping for 4 or 5 little plaid dresses – each a different color  plaid.  I also always had to get a new pair of Buster Brown shoes.  I was quite a tomboy and would really have perferred to have worn pants that had a turn- up flannel cuff on the pant leg.  The flannel turned up cuff would have been the same material the longsleeve flanned shirt would have been.  

7.      What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Sherry: One of the most exciting times at our store was when Hollywood came to Huntington, WV.  The movie, “We are Marshall” starring Matthew Fox and Matthew McConaughey was filmed over a three month period in our area in 2006  It was the true story of  the devastating loss our town suffered in 1970 when 75 football players, coaches, and alumni were killed in a plane crash as they were returning to Huntington from a game they had played at East Carolina.  Matthew McConaughey filmed shots inside and outside of the building where City Kids is located.  It was “really tough work” for me staying afterhours and watching them shoot scenes of Matthew McConaughey but I made the sacrifice and I have a lovely autographed picture of a shirtless Mr. McConaughey gracing our wall. 

8.      What collection or piece from Le Top line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Sherry:
My favorite group this fall has been from the Lavender Blue group. in lines where I have the opportunity,  I always choose a different style from the same group for each size range so a mom can have three little girls and coordinate a wonderful picture in like colors but each child can have their own look.  Le Top allows me to have lots of choices. We have huge windows at both stores, and Le Top offers me great options when merchandising….You cannot imagine how many customers venture in just because a ‘great look’ in the window caught their eye. 

The Pumpkin Patch
Rt. 60 Ceredo Plaza
Ceredo, West Virginia
304.453.4911
http://www.pumpkinpatchwv.com/ 

City Kids
948 4th Avenue
Huntington, West Virginia
304.525.2511

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This captivating fashionista can rock any look with ultimate style! I’m told the Le Top faux fur coat (pictured) was her favorite. Sadly, it’s been outgrown but we have two more coming soon to our Le Top online boutique. It is our pleasure to feature Maya as our Le Top Darling of of the day!  

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