Archive for August, 2011

No matter the weather, a summer thunderstorm can approach at any moment and knock out the power and plans of the day. While the storm may be depressing, there are still lots of things that can get accomplished and keep kids having fun even when they’re not in the sun. There are many things to do when the lights go out, with just a flashlight and some fresh batteries.

Here are a few ideas and activities that can help calm, occupy and entertain kids during a power outage:

Storytelling: Everyone loves a good story. So parents might want to recount the adventures of Little Red Riding Hood, or tell the love story of Cinderella and her Prince Charming.

Crafts: Before the stories, make puppets using scissors, colored paper, markers, glue and either Popsicle sticks or paper bags. Then the puppets can help tell the story. Crafts, no matter how simple, like coloring books and crayons, can always brighten a dark day.

Games: Hunker down for an evening of Monopoly or play the game of Life. With a flashlight, any board game can turn into hours of family fun. A power outage can provide for an evening of games and challenges. Also have a couple of decks of cards on hand to play Go Fish or War or to make up your own card game.

To take full advantage of the dark, you could also play flashlight tag, where, like in hide-and-seek, one person searches for the others. When they find a person, they can shine the flashlight on them and that person then becomes “it.” Shadow puppets are another great use of the flashlight.

With these activities – your fear or whining and tantrums should clear and know that it can be a fun day!

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Lilah in her favorite Le Top "Farm Friends" pieced shirt

My daughter and I were playing at the park the other day. She was high up on the play structure and wanted me to catch Dolly when she threw him down. After refusing to throw him until I backed up (which I did), he landed at least five feet in front of me with a THUD on some equipment. Without a pause she said,

Now that’s gonna leave a mark!”

– Lilah (4-years-old)

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

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We have all screamed, “Ouch!” a few times when taking care of a baby or small child who bites. Not to say all children do it, but it is definitely not abnormal and there are ways to prevent and teach your baby or child not to bite. When your child bites, it can be concerning if you send your baby or toddler to daycare or if he or she is in playgroups. This behavior is normal, and stems from your child’s frustration or pain. Teaching your child not to bite — whether he’s a baby or a toddler — is one of the many skills you impart as you raise your child.

Baby Behavior
Babies who bite often do so when teething — and, unfortunately for the mother, this can occur while your newborn nurses. When nursing, if your baby bites, unlatch him from your nipple using your finger or thumb. Look at your baby and tell him to stop. While he may not understand the word, he understands the emotion.

Toddler Behavior
Toddlers bite as a means of expressing themselves prior to having sufficient verbal skills. In other words, its normal behavior during a child’s first three years, when emotions run high, but kids lack the ability to express themselves effectively. At about age 2, your toddler’s biting is an experimental behavior that dies when you respond appropriately. When biting occurs, don’t provide a strong negative reaction — this type of attention reinforces the behavior. Instead, calmly explain that your toddler should not bite her friends, but that she should bite oranges or sandwiches. Next, distract her attention with a game or toy. If she continues to bite, my suggestion would be to separate yourself from the child who is the focus of his or her biting and give her a three-minute timeout.

Be consistent.
There’s no timetable as to how many incidents and reprimands it will take before your child stops biting. But if you respond the same way every time, he’ll probably learn his lesson after four or five incidents.

Know your child’s triggers.
Does your daughter bite when she’s hungry or needs to take a nap because he or she is tired? Give her a healthy snack, and adhere to a strict meal schedule. And don’t forget about outdoor play as a prevention technique — even in chilly weather.

Keep it Chill
Toddlers who bite often do so if they feel overwhelmed. While your toddler goes through this developmental stage, keep his environment calm and free of too much stimuli.

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I live in New York City, and there has been TONS of coverage on the news about Hurricane Irene and how to prepare your family and apartment. The more I think about it, with hurricane season making headlines, kids may be scared by the storm coverage they see on the news. I read about these great tips to keep child fear and stress down during such scary times that kids may have never experienced with the weather from The Federal Emergency Management Agency.

1.  Be Prepared
Assemble a disaster supply kit that includes flashlights, batteries, candles, lighter or matches, fire extinguisher, generator and fuel, and first aid kit. Make sure you have prescription medications filled.

2.  Food
Store food and extra water (as well as water purification kit) for the family, at least a week’s worth. Consider non-perishable foods and juice, baby formula, a manual can opener, paper plates and coolers for food and ice. Other supplies to consider having on-hand, personal wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, and pet food.

3.  Battery Operated Radio
Families should listen together to a battery operated radio or television during the storm for weather updates. FEMA also reminds everyone to stay inside during a hurricane because you could be hit by flying objects.

4.  Meeting Spot
Also, arrange a place to meet your family in case you are evacuated or separated during a disaster. Choose a friend or relative out of state for your family members to all call to report they are OK.

Go over all of these tips with your children so that the fear of “unknowing” helps dissipate. Alternatively, sometimes it helps for kids to write about the experience or to draw pictures about how they feel.

The National Hurricane Center, part of the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tracks tropical storms and hurricanes. Click here for a map your child can print and use to track storms.

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We interviewed New Jersey children’s boutique guru and fashion expert, Tiffany Patch, from Mama Bear’s Childrens Boutique – one of the BEST kids specialty stores on the East Coast – for this week’s Premier Store Spotlight.  She gave us the inside scoop on working as a family business, how their logo came about, their AMAZING sales going on right now for fall, a charity the store strongly supports (and so should you!), as well as the local family hangouts for your family and kids. Read more to find out!

Mama Bear’s Childrens Boutique

8 Village Center Drive
Beckett Village
Swedesboro, NJ 08085

Go to www.mamabearschildrensboutique.com for more information

 CHECK-IN and JOIN  Mama Bear’s Children’s Boutique Facebook page and click HERE

Want to send Mama Bear a tweet?  Become a Twitter fan HERE


1.    What is the inspiration behind your store’s name?
  We are a mother/daughter business and thought Mama Bears are warm and loving. We opened our store the week after my son was born. We used a picture from his baby book as the inspiration for our first sign. It was a mama bear reading to her baby bears. Hard to believe it’s been almost 17 years. My son now helps out in the business and has been involved with our buying since he was old enough to make decisions.

2.   Tell us the inside scoop about any special events that you have planned at your store as summer comes to an end, especially the fun deals we can expect.
We are currently having a 20-75% off fall and summer dress sale, 20% off all summer clothing, and always have a 50% off rack in the back of our store. We also offer special Facebook only promotions.

Le Top "Under Contruction" Collection double sleeve fire truck shirt and french terry pant

3.    Back-to-school is just around the corner – what are 3 trends you can tell parents to look for when buying their kids’ wardrobe?
For girls the animal print trend is still a big one for us and mommies seem to want colors other than pink. Big blingy headbands are selling like wildfire and are the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. For the boys, our customers are getting a little more adventurous with color, but it still has to be masculine. Anything with dogs, motorcycles or construction equipment is always popular. 

4.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
  I swore I would never put my son in a gown. He lived in the gowns for at least the first two weeks when he came home from the hospital. We love Le Top’s gowns, especially the converter gowns. They are practical and cute.

5.    What children’s charity do you most believe in and would love to support?
Alex’s Lemonade Stand. We have participated in Lemonade days in the past. There is a very special boy in our community we honor. His name is Mario. He has inoperable brain tumors that are treated by chemotherapy. We met him when he and his mom volunteered to help our lemonade stand. The community really comes together to raise money to find a cure for pediatric cancer. We also donate to many other charities related to pediatric illnesses and donate some of our clothing to organizations that help foster families.

6.    Please tell us 1 easy tip or snack/meal for a child’s back-to-school lunchbox?
For a break from the boring old peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try a peanut butter and nutella sandwich instead. For the mommy’s put a dollop in your morning coffee.

7.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Swedesboro, NJ. Did you grow up in any of the local area?
We are lifelong South Jersey girls. Our store is in a suburban area that is considered one of the fastest growing on the East Coast. It’s an area with lots of young families. The area surrounding our store was mostly farmland ten years ago. Now we have new businesses and lots of beautiful new homes.

rabbitmoon's "Harmony" Collection sweater dress

8.    Tell us about a “special” moment that made  your day working at your store.
There are so many special moments with our wonderful customers every day. Whether it is finding the special outfit to bring a baby home from the hospital, working with a customer to find the perfect Christening gown/suit, choosing a birthday outfit or helping a bride with flower girl dresses/boys suits. I am blessed to have a job that I love so much. We have a special bulletin board by our front door where we post pictures of our customer’s children in our clothing. It makes my day whenever our customers bring a picture or post a picture on our Facebook page. I have to say we have the cutest customers.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
I asked my son that question since our business is a family affair. He said Dave and Busters. We have been taking him there since he was two-years-old. It was our tradition to go to the Philadelphia market to meet with the sales reps to buy for the store. If he was well behaved, we would go play afterward at Dave and Busters. With fall coming, we also have farms in the area where families can pick their own pumpkins, go on hayrides and corn mazes.

Le Top "My Best Friend - Boys" Collection stripe shirt and pant

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon Fall 2011 Collection is your store’s favorite and why?
That was a tough choice. Both lines are fabulous as always. I love the My Best Friend collection from Le Top because I am a sucker for anything with dogs and so few companies do brother sister. I also love the rough and tough manly Under Construction group. If I had to pick my  favorite, I would say it’s Harmony from the rabbitmoon Collection. I love the unique color combination and bold prints. Our customers love that they are fashionable and still buttery soft.

8 Village Center Drive
Beckett Village
Swedesboro, NJ 08085

For more information go to

Mama Bear’s Children’s Boutique
Facebook page and click HERE

Want to  send Mama Bear a tweet? Become a Twitter fan HERE 

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Here is New York, summer is coming to an end and there is only 2 weekends left at the beach until I head back to the city. As sad as it may sound, I am really excited to go back home and do a little nesting, more cooking and enjoying the cooler days of fall. I am not sure if it is because I was in Italy a month ago, or just a craving, but this spaghetti and meatballs recipe is delicious, and perfect for dinner for back-to-school for the whole family – sure to be a hit!

Any type of ground meat will work with this recipe, but a blend of pork and beef will yield the best results. Serve the meatballs over your favorite pasta and freeze any leftovers in the sauce; they can be reheated for meatball sandwiches. If you want to make a healthier version, use white turkey ground meat. 🙂

Makes 30 – 1 1/2-inch meatballs


  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 slices best-quality bread, crusts removed
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (use 1 teaspoon if Parmesan is substituted for the Romano)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 28-ounce cans best-quality whole tomatoes, pulsed with juices in a blender
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


1.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk. Soak the bread in the milk, turning the slices over to absorb it. Cool and mince the bread. Place it in a large bowl. Add the meats, garlic, onion, eggs, cheese, parsley, pepper, and salt. Using clean hands, mix together until completely combined.

2.  Have a rimmed baking sheet or platter ready. Roll into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. (If you periodically run cold water over your hands, the meat won’t stick to them as you roll.) If you have time, chill the raw meatballs to firm them up.

3.  Heat a 14-inch skillet (or two smaller skillets to fry in batches) over high heat. Add the olive oil and when it is very hot, add the meatballs in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Fry the meatballs without moving for a few minutes, then turn as they cook to brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out any excess oil from the pan, carefully scraping around the meatballs.

4.  Add the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the browned bits. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve hot pasta with 3 meatballs on top, some sauce, the grated cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

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Photo By: Jason Merritt/Getty

Jason Bateman and wife Amanda Anka are about to become parents for the second time – another baby girl! The baby sister-on-the-way will join big sister Francesca Nora, 4 1/2-years-old. Our Le Top Baby “Oh My Darling” Collection jumpsuit with tulle skirt would be adorable for this little princess! Cheers to the growing Bateman Family!

Le Top "Oh My Darling" Collection jumpsuit with tulle skirt

She’ll be darling in this exceptionally soft light pink pima cotton jumpsuit featuring a silky tulle skirt for ballerina-esque style.  Embroidered bluebirds with dainty rosettes, puff sleeves, elasticized ruffle cuffs and luxurious picot trims complete ensemble. Back and underneath snaps for easy changing.

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Thank you Dina at the Monkey Barrel in Amelia Island, FL for this oh-so-adorable photo of John William. This little dude is the epitome of glee while playing at the park in his rabbitmoon “splash” collection pieced short sleeve shirt and french terry cargo short. Ah, to be a child again! Congratulations to John William for being chosen as the Le Top Darling of the Day!

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I grew up with pets and I personally feel that it is important for children to have them. They help a child understand that they can’t control everything, they learn about unconditional love, how to care for something and how to be gentle with animals or there will be consequences. Now it looks as though there may be another reason to have a pet.

A new study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy shows that having a dog or cat in the home during your child’s first year of life may help prevent pet allergies later in life. The study compared children who lived with indoor cats or dogs as infants to those in animal-free homes. The children who grew up with cats were roughly half as likely to be allergic to them as teenagers. However, growing up around a dog reduced the risk of dog allergies by about the same amount for boys, but not for girls — a finding that mystified researchers.

“This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life, and that early life pet exposure does not put most children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life,” says researcher Ganesa Wegienka, PhD, of the department of biostatistics and research epidemiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Will having a pet prevents allergies?
For the study, researchers looked at the association between lifetime dog and cat exposure and allergic sensitization in a group of 566 boys and girls from Detroit who were followed from birth until age 18.

They found that being exposed dogs or cats at home during the first year of life was the most important factor in the reduced risk of allergic sensitization to that specific animal later in life. Being exposed to pets any time after the first year of life appeared to have no effect on allergy risk, however, which indicates that timing may be everything when it comes to preventing allergies.

Though they can’t say for sure, the researchers suspect that early exposure to pet allergens and pet-related bacteria strengthens the immune system, accustoms the body to allergens, and helps the child build up a natural immunity.

“Dirt is good,” says lead researcher Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D., summing up the theory. “Your immune system, if it’s busy with exposures early on, stays away from the allergic immune profile.”

This isn’t the first study to find that having a household pet may protect kids from allergies, but it is the first to follow children until they were 18 years old.

Previous studies have had mixed results — some have even linked pet exposure during infancy to an increased risk of allergy — so it’s too early to recommend getting a dog or cat just to ward off allergies in your infant, says David Nash, M.D., clinical director of allergy and  immunology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Although the researchers took into account whether the children’s parents were allergic to animals, they didn’t ask about a broader family history of allergies or other health problems. I could be that children who are genetically predisposed to animal allergies simply are less likely to grow up in homes with pets. The jury is still out. So don’t give you pet away if you’re concerned they will provoke allergies in your child as it may be that having a pet dog or cat around the house when your baby comes home is not a bad thing after all.

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No, I did not say that!

Mommy, I like your short hair now cuz I can touch it and no extension falls out.”

– Seiji, age 6

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

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