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I am moving in a few weeks and have been going through my clothing, gadgets, shoes, and more. While researching charities to donate my unneeded items to here in New York, it made me think that I am so fortunate that my mother and father taught me the importance of not just throw away things. Instead proactively go through your home a few times a year and give things to charity and those in need. I decided that I am going to donate to a local AIDS organization for families who have members with AIDS and that struggle.

Charity and the spirit of giving have been elevated to a new level in the past few years, following natural disasters like the earthquake in Japan, the war in Iraq, and terrorist attacks around the globe. Your child doesn’t have to be a Carnegie, a Ford, or a Rockefeller, to become a philanthropist.

Many parents are using the destruction delivered by these catastrophes as an opportunity to help children learn about charity and the importance of reaching out to others in their time of need.

You can make a family donation – big or small – and involve your child by allowing them to pick out the charity, write the check and even prepare the envelope to mail it.  It is important to allow your children to witness turning pain and grief/loss into a time of extending love and compassion to those they don’t even know, whether it be in the United States or around the world. 

Here is how your family can help.

1.    Donate clothes like me!
Periodically go through your closets rooting out clothes you haven’t worn in a while, which can be given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill for distribution to the needy. I always say if you haven’t worn it in 6-9 months…someone more deserving needs those clothes. Encourage your children to do the same. Allow them to select which clothes or toys they wish to donate. The value of this activity is diminished greatly if you go through their closets for them without their presence. For maximum benefit, get your children involved in choosing the appropriate items. Take your children with you when you drop the items off at the charitable destination.

2.    Help neighbors.
Regularly engage in a service-oriented project. Rake the leaves of an elderly couple. Bake cookies for a serviceman or servicewoman. If you have leftovers from when you go out to dinner, give them to a homeless person and teach your children that you just gave them a good meal.

3.    Make birthdays charitable.
Set up birthday parties as a time for giving to others. At your child’s first school-age birthday party, ask guests to bring a gift of a book (new or used) to be donated to a local charity. Talk to your son about the books he has and about children who have no books. Explain that one way to celebrate a birthday would be to give to those who have less. Involve the birthday boy in the decision of whether or not to give the books to a woman’s shelter, a doctor’s office, or some other appropriate organization. When you deliver the books with your son, record it on camera, and revisit that movie (or those pictures) on future birthdays.

4.    Give back to pets.
At regular intervals, buy dog or cat food and take it to the humane society. Allow your children to spend some time with the recipients of the gift.

5.    Deliver nutrition.
Build food baskets around the holidays and give to a needy family suggested by your church or school. Involve your children is selecting canned goods, fruit, and other treats to include. Decorate the gift package and deliver it together, as a family.

6.    Help elders.
Do things for the elderly that they have trouble doing for themselves. Pick up sticks in your neighbor’s yard after a big windstorm. Mow the grass for Grandma. Wash Grandpa’s car. Clean their windows in the spring. Help them plant flowers.

7.    Pitch in.
Get on a regular service schedule at your church or synagogue. Sign up for a time to mow the grass and trim the bushes. Take your turn ushering and allow your child to assist.

By implementing some of these ideas or others like them, you will be teaching your children that charity is not reserved only for emergencies. You will be helping them appreciate that reaching out to others in need is a way of life, rather than a moment in time when a catastrophic disaster occurs.

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After all that wiggling and the loose tooth still not falling out, Grampa Joe came to the rescue. With a piece of floss and a little tug, that little baby tooth went flying up in the air, hit the wall and bounced somewhere in the living room. Miranda was too busy laughing to realize that she was bleeding from where her tooth was. The Tooth Fairy came for a visit, and she was very generous! She gave Miranda a spinning toothbrush and a five-dollar bill since the first tooth was a special one. Finally, Miranda can go to school and write her name on the tooth chart at school! Yippee! Then my daughter completely surprised me. She decided to donate her tooth money to Operation Rice Bowl because she said she wanted to help the poor during Lent. I’m so proud of her.

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My mom has always been an avid reader. Ever since I can remember, there has been a book on her nightstand from Jane Austen to Tom Clancy. It is a wonder to me, how I could be such the total opposite, but then I remembered my dad has never been a reader. In all truth, I think the only book he has read in the past 20 years has been a 1965 Plymouth Valiant Car Manual – a true man at heart! 

Growing up it was always a fight to get my reading hours in. My log was full of fibs on how long and what I had read – thank god for my loving grandmother helping me out with these schemes (helping…may be not). I struggled through middle and high school reading requirements as I could never read fast enough and was never disciplined enough to do all of the actual reading. I relied heavily on cliff notes and synopses from my friends. It wasn’t until I read The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, that I started to understand the love of reading. I think I have now read that book cover to cover about ten times. After college I joined the workforce, and somehow immediately caught on to the “reading frenzy” that I saw my mom experience since I was a child. I learned that, even though I am an extremely slow reader, I do truly enjoy reading. I think it was a combination of finding the right book and not having the pressure of completing it in a certain time frame. 

Reflecting upon this in the past few weeks, I have started to wonder how I can help my future son be an early reader. His dad is definitely a good reader, I actually think he should have been an English teacher, with his love of literature and grammar. One thought is to read to him often, and as he grows, encourage him to be the reader/narrator for me. I also think that once he is old enough, I want to set a nightly reading time, where he can just read by himself. My only problem with that is, I know I would be totally antsy being in one spot reading…maybe the remedy would be for him to read in a quiet communal place in the house! 🙂

What have been some ways you have encouraged your kids to read or that have made them avid readers at a young age?

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Today, March 2nd, is the birthday of writer Theodor Geisel, known to generations of young readers as Dr. Seuss. In his honor, it has been declared Read Across America Day by the National Education Assn. This is the 14th year that thousands of participating schools, libraries and community centers will celebrate the day by reading together.

I found out that Washington, D.C., will celebrate Read Across America Day with First Lady Michelle Obama reading “Green Eggs and Ham” at the Library of Congress at 11 a.m. She’ll be joined by actress Jessica Alba, Super Bowl champ Donald Driver, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and others.

Shall we say today is “Seuss-er-ific”?

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First lady Michelle Obama walks through the White House east colonnade with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, second from right, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as they meet regarding the childhood obesity initiative. By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

How much do you know about First Lady, Michelle Obama’s, initiative to end child obesity in one generation? Today is her 1 year anniversary in her initiative, “Let’s Move.” I watched an interview with her on NBC’s Today Show this morning and it was very inspiring and relatable. I grew up with parents who worked all the time (wait a sec, they still do!), and it was often that we would pick up food or go out because it was “too late to cook.” Similarly, Michelle Obama’s daughters were 6 and 9, and like any other working mom — struggling to juggle office hours, school pick-ups and mealtimes. By the end of the day, she was often too tired to make dinner, so she did what was easy: She ordered takeout or went to the drive-through. 

What is the overall concept of “Let’s Move”?
Most parents would do anything for their kids and want to give them the best chance in the world to be their best. Let’s Move operates under the principle that every family wants the same thing for their kid.  

Let’s Move (letsmove.gov) aims to do for healthy eating and exercise what the government’s anti-smoking campaign did in the 1960s: change how people think about their health. 

Michelle Obama stressed in her interview today that she doesn’t want parents to beat themselves up if they slip up from time to time or get a little relaxed about the food they serve or the time their kids spend in front of a screen. 

“We don’t have to be 100% perfect,” she says. “My kids eat dessert. My kids watch TV. … I love burgers and fries, and I don’t want to live a life where I can never have them again. And if we told families and children that that was the answer, we’d never get there. The beauty is we don’t need to be 100% of the way there. If we get 20% of the way there, we will change the health status of our kids for a generation.” 

So what is her ultimate goal?
To eliminate childhood obesity in a generation.  

“It’s an ambitious goal, but we don’t have time to wait,” the first lady said in an interview with USA TODAY. “We’ve got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue.” 

She says about 32% of children and adolescents today — 25 million kids — are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I completely agree with her that the extra LBS. are putting kids at great risk! Risk of what?

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • shorter lives 

Scary facts:
A 2005 study found that kids today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents because of obesity.
Obesity costs the country a staggering $147 billion a year in weight-related medical bills, according to government data. 

How does Michelle Obama plan on doing it with her power in the White House?

  • more healthful food in schools
  • more accurate food labeling
  • better grocery stores in communities that don’t have them
  • public service announcements and efforts to get children to be more active. 

Her inspiration?
Upon moving into the white house – she took a year to settle her kids, but also got involved in a local elementary school where she set up an organic garden for the kids. “The garden was an important first step — just sort of exploring the ideas around nutrition and children,” Obama says. “I was curious to find out whether kids connected with this issue if we talked about it in terms of fun and gardening.” 

Image: By Mark Wilson, Getty Images

And they did. “Kids from urban environments, from households (like) mine, who were raised on fried foods and good, tasty stuff, were fully engaged in the process of planting these vegetables and watching them grow and harvesting them and cleaning them and cooking them and eating them, and writing about how vegetables were their friends,” she says. “So we thought we could be on to something here if we make this conversation a national conversation.”

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Kung Hei Fat Choy! This means “Happy New Year!” in Chinese. Chinese New Year started yesterday February 3rd, but it goes on for 15 days, so I thought I would provide a little Chinese New Year 101! I am half Chinese and half Irish, but I grew up in a home that was centered around the Chinese culture. I thought I would share a mini Chinese New Year 101 with you and some of the traditions that make me who I am today.

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks, and gift giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival.

The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories that explain this. The simplest is that Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) invited all of the animals to join him for a New Year celebration, but only 12 animals turned up. To reward the animals that did come, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order that they arrived, starting with the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Why Firecrackers?
It used to be traditional to set off firecrackers at Chinese New Year, to see off the old year and welcome in the new. Ancient Chinese legends tell of the Nian, a man-eating beast from the mountains, which came out every winter to feast on humans. To scare the Nian away, the people used loud noises such as firecrackers and fireworks, and bright colors, particularly red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations.

Lucky Money – also pronounced, “li-see”?
At Chinese New Year parents, family and friends give money to children in red envelopes. The red color symbolizes good luck, and the amount of money can be anything from a small coin to a larger amount. Lucky money envelopes are also known as Red Packets or Red Envelopes.

Cleaning the Home and Painting Your Home?
In the run up to Chinese New Year, homes are spring-cleaned thoroughly so that all the bad luck of the previous year is swept away (and on the first day of the new year, brooms and dustpans are put away and never used in case the good luck of the new year is swept away!) Often houses are freshly painted. Traditional Chinese homes sometimes get a new coat of red paint, as red is a particularly lucky color.

What are Chinese Couplets?
Also used to decorate homes are Chinese couplets. These are two tall posters, usually consisting of 4 Chinese characters each (as eight is a lucky number), which are hung on either side of the front door. The couplets express traditional good wishes for the year ahead.

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Use our ideas for family holiday traditions inspiration! Whether you are a new parent or have 5 kids – there is always room for fun new traditions that get you excited each year for the holiday festivities. Read below these ideas! Share your holiday traditions with us too!

This post has been moved to our blog’s new home. For this post go to http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=14708

TO CHECK OUR LE TOP PLAYWEAR GO TO
www.letop-usa.com

 

 

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We sat down with inspiration and children’s boutique guru, Anne Richter, owner Giggles Children’s Clothing store in Woodstock, Vermont to get the inside scoop on her store and her funny parenthood tales.  From stories about cutting clothing ads out of the newspaper as a child to her best parenting tip to holiday must haves and her charity work with children – Anne’s store is the go-to for any parent. Read more to discover one of Le Top’s very favorite children’s boutiques.

This post has been moved to our website. To view the full post go to: http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=14122

 

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For this week’s premier “Store Spotlight,” we interview store owner and child guru, Meghan Chambers, and got the scoop on her holiday festivities, traditions, and the best-of-the-best baby and kid gifts from her store, Jellybeans located in Springfield, Missouri. Read more and find out about her super cool tips and favorite festive outfits.

Photo By: Nathalie Bearden

1.      What a sweet name, where did the name Jellybeans come from? What was the inspiration behind the name?
Meghan: 
Our name came from a close family member and it really stems from a sweet childhood memory!

2.      Describe the neighborhood where your store is located in Springfield, Missouri. Did you grow up in the local area? Is it the same as it was growing up?
Meghan: The store is located mid-town in a quaint shopping center across from the mall. The center has several unique shops in it, which makes our location a great place for us to be. We actually opened up shop here in The Brentwood Center 16 years ago. Through trials at other locations, we have now gone full circle, and are happy to be back.

3.      What would you suggest as the top 3 essentials a busy, working new mom or dad should buy to make her life easier from your store?
Meghan: That’s easy!

  1. The Nap Nanny – This plush sleep lounge was created to help moms, dads, and baby sleep through the night. It is a must have for anybody with a newborn.
  2. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets are absolutely a must. Whether you swaddle or not there are numerous uses for these lightweight blankets. The soft fabrication makes it easy to pack and go and snuggle your baby tight.
  3. And last, but not least, Le Top clothing of course! The creative designers produce new and innovative pieces each season that allow us to grow with the brand.

4.      Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
Meghan: One thing I swore I would never do when I had kids was “count to three” in public or say “go to TIME-OUT!” There is nothing worse than hearing a parent say “one……two……three……?” and still nothing!

5.      The holidays are around the corner – what are your top 5 items (clothes, toys, giftables, etc.) for any parent shopping for the holidays at your store?
Meghan:

  • Greentoys – They are various trucks, boats, tea sets, etc. made from recycled milk jugs. Thinking “green” with play time has never been so easy.
  • Books to Bed – With all the rage of Fancy Nancy, you get a book and matching PJ set. A great Christmas Eve gift for the little ones!
  • Football and Sports Onesies. Before we know it Superbowl will be here and every member of the family needs to cheer on their team.
  • Elf on a shelf – This fun tradition creates a game for the whole family while counting down the days til Christmas!
  • Sophie Giraffe – This is the best teether toy out there. The color palette and soft material used in the design make it easy for the baby to grasp and recognize. Once your baby has one, they will not let it go.

6.      What’s your favorite holiday tradition and why? Whether it be decorating the Christmas tree to eating peppermint bark to lighting the menorah candles to baking in the kitchen, etc…
Meghan: Every Christmas Eve my parents have family and friends over to their house. It is so low-key, but makes you realize how important family is. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without family, food, and holiday traditions!

Photo By: Nathalie Bearden

7.      You recently had a grand re-opening for your store – tell us what’s on your agenda for the holidays for your store? Any special events or fun holiday traditions that you have planned at your store?
Meghan:  
We will be having a trunk show, a few open houses, drawings, and a Moms-Night-Out event the first week of December where the entire Brentwood Center will be involved.  This particular night gives moms a chance to shop “kid free” and allows them to enjoy fun holiday festivities with girlfriends. We have festivities planned for the entire holiday season.

8.      Tell us your best parenting tip you know or would want to give to a new parent.
Meghan: Don’t start the habit of putting your child in bed with you. You think to yourself…”I’ll just let them lay down with me for a minute and then I will put them in their bed” …Next thing you know it’s 7:00 am, the alarms going off and yep, you realize you just created a monster. All it takes is that one time of sleeping with mom and dad and they are hooked!

9.      What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line or Rabbitmoon do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Meghan: We love it all, but if we had to narrow it down, the matching Reindeer Games boy’s coverall and little girl’s dress.  Perfect for Christmas pictures. Simple and sweet!

Jellybeans
2646 South Glenstone
Springfield, MO 65804
http://www.jellybeansinc.com/

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Last week (Oct. 23rd – 31st, 2010) Red Ribbon Week was celebrated at many schools across the nation. Red Ribbon Week is a way for people and communities to come together and take a stand against substance abuse and saying “NO to Drugs!” This year, the national campaign asked students to “dress up” each day of the week to show their support and unity of being drug-free.

One of the dress up days was “Clash Day” where students were asked to wear items of clothing that do not go together. My daughter was very excited about this particular theme and couldn’t wait to pick out what she was going to wear. She opened her closet and pulled out every LeTop ensemble she had. This is what she came up with:

Blouse from the 2010 Dottie Scotties fall/winter collection; Skirt from the 2009 fall/winter Enchanted collection; and Tights from the 2010 Lavender's Blue fall/winter collection

She may be “clashing” but I still think she looks adorable!

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