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No, I did NOT say that!

No, I did NOT say that!

Mommy, I deleted one of my friends at school because she said she didn’t care about me.”

– Miranda, age 5

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

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John LennonLast Sunday my daughter Lilah and I abandoned our football-watching dad/husband and met up with friends to do the ‘Solano Stroll’ in Berkeley.  It’s a big deal around here as people young and old flock to this huge street festival filled with folk dancers and performers, a petting zoo, local bands, art cars, a giant slide, food booths, magicians, face painters, carnival games, arts and crafters, and every T-shirt booth you could imagine.  Really fun!

Lilah and I wandered into a booth selling black, screen-printed T-shirts. I decided to let Lilah choose whichever shirt she wanted as a gift. She walked directly over to a tee with a purple screen of John Lennon. I was pleased with her choice and mentioned that fact to the vendor. He said “To you and me that is John Lennon, but to the kids it’s Harry Potter!”  It took me a moment to realize that it did look like Harry Potter!  I don’t think that Lilah even knows who Harry Potter is, but I will never again be able to see John Lennon’s image the same way!  Oh the ‘magic’ of growing older!

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If someone had told me five months ago that I would be racing dragon boats in China, I would have said they were crazy! It’s hard to imagine that only a short time ago I didn’t have a clue about this incredible sport.  Dragon boat racing started thousands of years ago in China. It’s a team paddling sport where a canoe-style boat is used.  Now, not only can I hold my own paddling the boat, but I can proudly say that I was a member of the only American team to compete in the 2009 Dragon Boat races in China!

Dragon Boating Competitors

Dragon Boating Competitors

The interest in this exciting sport is catching – at least in our design department! Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only le•top designer racing in China. Gail – our extraordinary graphic designer – was the person who first introduced me to the sport. Thanks to her, I am not only part of the team, but I’ve become part of a fun and adventurous “family”.

We competed in races in a couple of different cities, one of which was Milu, the birthplace of dragon boating. It was amazing to be able to participate in the sport that originated there over 2000 years ago! The fun part is, as in any sport that each team has a name – we call ourselves the Absolute Dragons!  We are a mixed crew, meaning that we are made up of women and men. In China there is no such thing as a “mixed” team, which meant we had to race against all men’s teams. Even though we didn’t place in the standings, we did manage to beat nine teams! Wow, were they mad when they got beat by a boat full of women!

Beautiful Sights

Beautiful Sights

China was such an unbelievable experience. One thing I will always remember is how popular my platinum blonde hair was with the locals. I was chased down at every corner by people asking for my picture! I now know what it must feel like to be famous. Man, do I feel bad for Brad Pitt!

Whether it was holding up peace signs for pictures with the locals, racing in the dragon boat, hiking the Great Wall, or just celebrating the Chinese culture – China was the trip of a lifetime, one I will never forget!

…this post was written by Sarah, le•top designer

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basketsMy cousin, Joslyn, is getting ready to have Baby #2 (a girl, Haven Bella) soon and this weekend, we are holding her baby shower! Since I work at a baby and kids clothing company, it’s no secret that most of my baby shower gifts are going to be our gorgeous baby clothes from le•top and rabbitmoon, but sometimes I like to mix it up a little. “Surprise” is a big thing for me, and because my gifts are generally predictable, I like to throw a zinger in there.

  • For Jess’ baby shower gift, I put together a HUGE basket of clothes, along with some great products I have come across since being in the industry (Nookie pacifiers, Baby Legs, Pedipeds, etc).
  • For Erin T’s, I did the basket and a Starbucks Frappuccino 4-pack filled with clothes instead of drinks. (Erin T. LOVES Starbucks!)
  • For Joslyn (since she already had a similar gift with the first baby), I decided my “surprise” would be a diaper cake.

diapercakeI have come across a lot of these online, but was never sure exactly how they did it. So the other night, I YouTube’d it, and sure enough there was a cheesy – though resourceful – How-To video. I bought the diapers, the ribbon, the jewels, the rubber bands, and the pins (my variation from double-stick tape), and went to work. I had to roll the diapers slightly differently than the video explained because the cute “character scene” on the front was turning my white cake into a blue one. All in all it took about 45 minutes to roll 92 diapers (size 1 & 2) and assemble them in the cake layers; about 30 minutes to put the ribbons and the jewels on; and 5 seconds to lay the shoes on the top as the cake topper.

Remember, this was my first time doing this, and I have learned some lessons:

  1. Use ALL white diapers, if possible.
  2. There is an advantage to using the double-stick tape (my ribbons are falling down because I only tautly pinned them — and in one place for that matter)
  3. I need to figure out a way to secure the shoes on top (double-stick tape?)
  4. Use a circular cake stand to start out the bottom layer. My bottom layer is too big for the cake stand.

Have you done a DIY shower gift? Please share your ideas and/or pictures!

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pony partyLast weekend we went to a birthday party for our friend’s 5-year old son. The invitation was cowboy-themed. The party was decked out in Western decor. The host gave away cowboy hats and bandanas, and there were even pony rides. YES, pony rides! It was the BEST party my daughter has ever been to (she exclaims this after every party she attends). It seems like children’s birthday parties are getting fancier each year, and it’s becoming a challenge to “top” the next party – not that these kids are competing. But as a parent, you don’t want to be outdone (recently, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were in the news, having hosted a $100,000.00 birthday party for their daughter, Suri, where the cake alone cost over $15 thousand!). The pressure is on if you’re only going to have a simple “cake and ice cream” birthday gathering.

We’ve been to quite a few themed events, such as:

  • a Dinosaur party hosted at a children’s activity center (complete with dinosaur-related games)
  • a Princess Ball, along with a dressing room filled with gowns, crowns, make-up, glitter, boas, etc. for all the girls (and the loot bag was more expensive than our present for the birthday celebrant!)
  • a Pirate party with a scavenger hunt, and enough gold coins to fill Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship
  • a Musical party where a music teacher came and brought boxes of different musical instruments for the children to participate in song-and-dance activities
  • and the most outrageous one I’ve been to… a Super Model party. The dad even built a runway for the girls to parade down the catwalk in their fashionable attire!

My daughter has had her share of themed parties:

  • Hawaiian pool party with beach toys as giveaways
  • Gymnastics party where the instructors came and set up their equipment at a park, and had a “class” with all the kids
  • County Fair-themed party with a cotton candy machine, an ice cone maker, face painting, and a friend who made balloon animals for all the guests.

The day after my daughter’s 4-year old party, she started discussing with me what her theme will be for next year’s party. (I’m not kidding!) She had a few in mind: a Power Ranger party, a Pokemon party, a Princess party to name a few. But the winning theme is a Pirate party – just like her cousin’s but not exactly the same. She wants it to be a PINK Pirate party and have a Pirate Princess come to entertain her guests. (Demanding for a 5-year old! And don’t even get me started on her wanting an iPhone as a present.) So, two months before her birthday, I’m already making a mad dash looking for a Pirate Princess to come to her party, and hunting down a bakery who can make custom-designed cupcakes with black and pink skull and bones. As the date gets closer and I’ve secured the entertainment and the cupcakes, I sit back and sigh, “What the heck am I doing? I’m trying to impress her 5-year old friends. Next year will be just cake and ice cream!” I say this every year, and I know I’ll be sucked into another theme party again next year.

bdayParties

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prego_belly

As of this moment, I know 10 women who are pregnant – all due at different times of the year. These are people I actually know, not just celebrities and their pregnancies. I remember a couple of years ago, I knew 14 women who were expecting! That’s a lot of babies. And a whole lot of baby showers! And then the birthday parties! (And we don’t need to mention all those diaper changes, clothing changes and laundry, right?) 😉

So it got me thinking, could it be something in the water? Or is it a cyclical pattern that women get pregnant every so often? Or is it, perhaps, that I’m just at a phase in my life when almost everyone in my age group is moving on to the next phase of life? Whatever it is, it’s quite amazing that I know so many women who will be giving birth and holding a new bundle of joy within the year.

Congratulations to all my family and friends!

Just for fun, here’s my list:

  1. Kisha – Due June 2009
  2. Anya – Due June 2009
  3. Jessica – Due August 2009
  4. Minnie – Due August 2009
  5. Abbie – Due August 2009
  6. Ana – Due September 2009
  7. Kimmy – Due October 2009
  8. Lisa – Due October 2009
  9. Christine – Due October 2009
  10. Grace – Due January 2010

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Zebra-jacketEveryone’s been wanting to see this infamous “zebra” jacket I wrote about last week, but I couldn’t find a good picture from the dinner. So, I decided to go see my friend and her daughter to do a little “photoshoot”. Her gorgeous (part Russian, part Native American, Ukrainian, Italian and Irish!) green-eyed daughter, Sasha (Alexandra) is a ball of energy who doesn’t stop laughing and running around! I asked her to come give me hug, so her mom, Tatiana, could quickly get a shot, but Sasha immediately ran off to grab something. That “something” turned out to be her pet chicken, that (strangely) loves being held and carried around. Then, there was a good 20 minutes of running around after the chicken, away from the chicken (that would be me), and trying to get the chicken to sit at the table…yes, I mean that…that wasn’t a typo. I managed to engage Sasha in a conversation about flowers, but the chair behind me quickly turned into a climbing post. A few minutes later she rolled out of the house on her tricycle, and we finally got our shot! Kids have an incredible energy that’s so contagious – I can’t wait for our next “playdate!” – it turned out to be such a fun adventure trying to get that picture!

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Our family moved to a new community when my daughter was 14 months old. It was tough to be a stay at home mom and figure out how to meet new people. I decided to try a local LeLeche League meeting. My daughter and I had a solid breastfeeding relationship going (and yes, she was a nursing toddler). I just felt drawn to meet other mothers in similar situations. One of the best finds from attending this meeting was hearing about a Wednesday playgroup. I got the information and called the woman who organized the activities.

playground

It was fall season, but the group of moms and toddlers meet every Wednesday morning for two hours with varied activities each week. One week they would do an outdoor adventure, one week they would meet at someone’s home and play with the toys there, and the other two weeks of the month, they would meet at a preschool room of a local church. Such a schedule evolved, as the mothers wanted to avoid spending time at the local McDonalds during those months of poor weather! They meet at local parks during the summer months.

At first, I wondered what a playgroup would be like – would I get to talk with other mothers and visit about parenting ideas? Would my child make new friends and learn different social skills than she got when we were home alone? I soon realized these were high expectations. At the playgroup gatherings those first few months I had to stay pretty close to my daughter as she wanted that more than playing with other children. More than once I wondered if we were getting anything out of it, but the chance to interact with other families made me keep going back each week. Slowly, as my daughter grew up and her confidence blossomed, she was able to play on her own or with others. The mothers could talk a little until a fight broke out about toys, or a child began to do something dangerous.

I began to see it as a new fact of life that seldom were sentences (yet alone conversations) completed without interruptions from children’s needs. The same group continued to meet weekly and time passed into years of attending playgroup. The children watched each other grow up, learned from one another, and the mother’s friendships deepened. As new families would join, we could learn from one another, hear different perspectives on parenting, and see the diversity in children’s behaviors (that was helpful for me – the mother of one!).

One five-year old boy told his mom, “The play is for the kids and the group is for the moms.” He was sure correct on this, as the playgroup gatherings were like a form of therapy and sanity for us all. It’s been seven years now and although schools have forced us apart, our playgroup still comes together for social gatherings several times a year! I’ve been grateful and thankful for this group of families helping me along my parenting journey.

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sleeptoysStuffed animals! How many can one child get?! I used to “collect” stuffed animals as I child until I was in high school, then I had to “send them away to a farm.” Who am I kidding? I either sold them at a garage sale or donated them to the Goodwill. Of course, my daughter has TONS of stuffed animals. In this picture (when she was 3 years old), she took all her stuffed animals and lined them up. Then she asked me to take a picture of her with her “friends.” Haha! How could I resist? It was too cute to pass up.

So as much as I would love to “send one animal to the farm” each month without her knowing, I just couldn’t. She LOVES them all and named them all. In fact, she also sleeps with a different “friend” each night.

Here is this week’s line up (as far as I know):

lineup

When we go on vacation somewhere, she carefully selects one to take along on the trip. “Hmm… Mommy, which sleep toy should I bring to San Diego? Can I bring two sleep toys so that Mr. Green Bear doesn’t get lonely in case I forget him in the car?” (Adorable, right?)

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Picture 1… especially when they get crafty hats from their special granddaughter!

Every time my daughter comes home from preschool, she has the project of the day in hand. As much as I want to save all these precious little artwork of hers, I just don’t have the wall space to display them, nor the room to store them. But guess who loves all these great crafts? Grandmas!!

Miranda (wearing a dress from le•top’s Daisy Dots collection) made both her grandmothers these paper hats at school. Perfect Mother’s Day presents that make a grandmother proud to show off to her friends. (I seriously think my mother-in-law is wearing her hat at work right now. Don’t blame us, Corporate America, if Casual Fridays evolve to wearing paper hats with silk flowers stapeled on them.) 🙂

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