Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Vroom! Vroom!  An eraser car is a creative, fun activity children can make as a back to school craft or even on the weekends! Adult supervision will be required, especially for smaller children, to prevent little ones from putting pieces in their mouths. Have fun!


  • Knife (have a parent do this part of the craft)
  • White Glue
  • Thumbtacks
  • Cardboard
  • Permanent Markers


  1. Begin by cutting erasers with a knife (a parent’s job; kids can use scissors for this, but the cuts won’t be as straight).
  2. Stack the erasers to make cars, trucks, and trailers. Pencil-cap erasers and automatic pencil eraser refills make good cargo. Use white glue to hold the pieces together.
  3. To make tires, press thumbtacks into a piece of cardboard, color them with permanent markers, then remove the tacks and press them in place on the vehicles.


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The time finally arrived! My three-year old son has learned how to share. This is a picture of him sharing cars with a friend in his Mommy & Me class. I remember last year when he and two other boys would eye the same car/truck/train, look at each other, then dive for the toy as they each tried to yank it from each others’ grasps. Oh, boy! That was a nightmare because all the mommies had to deal with the crying, the fighting and giving our sons “The Talk” about sharing. It’s a good thing we mothers are all on the same page regarding this, and know that we need to teach our children how to play together.

A year later, I stand in the classroom with pride (and with my camera) as I listen to my son say, “Do you want this car?” and proceed to play nicely with his friend. He’s growing up!

Paulo is wearing the rabbitmoon “discover” striped zip hoody. For this comfy cotton layering piece and more mix and match stylish kid’s clothing go to www.rabbitmoon-usa.com.

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Paulo (wearing the Le Top "Under the Sea" pull over hoodie shirt with a red crab appliqué) and Miranda playing on the beach.

It’s only March here in the Bay Area but the weather has been so warm and sunny (with a few rainy days in between) that we’ve actually been hitting the beach since January! Last week we went to Pacific Grove. My husband was at a 3-day seminar and since he was staying at a swanky hotel, we decided to “join” him and enjoy the amenities that fancy lodging offers, such as a salt water pool and hot tub, breakfast buffets, and free freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm!

While Daddy was sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a dimly-lit conference room, we were outdoors absorbing sun rays along the coast at the Asilomar State Beach. It was sunny but a little chilly and I wasn’t sure how long we would last at the beach. But as soon as we laid our blanket on the sand and the kids dumped out all their sand toys, the chill in the air seemed to dissipate. My kids were ready to go jump in the ocean! (But we didn’t. That water is FREEZING!)

After a couple hours, we packed it up and drove back to the hotel where we spent the afternoon swimming in the pool, then in the hot tub, then in the pool, then the hot tub (you get the picture), until Daddy came to retrieve us for dinner. What a fun day! Daddy should go to more conferences at ritzy hotels.

Paulo is wearing the Le Top "Under the Sea" lined swim trunks.


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Last weekend was beautiful here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since the feeling of spring was in the air my daughter and I went to our local retailer for a few outdoor supplies. We arrived home and set everything up in anticipation of some friends coming over.

When they arrived there was a Slip‘n Slide, a couple of Hippity Hops and other toys for the kids, as well as plenty of snacks and refreshments for us all. I’m so happy it was a hot day because the kids played in that Slip’n Slide for over 4 hours. We would make them temporarily stop when their lips turned blue and they were shivering but minutes later they would be back at it. This time of year always brings me back to my childhood and now I get to create those memories for my little one.

Happy spring!

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One of the most rewarding aspects of working for Le Top is the stories you hear from parents and customers. From yearly traditions of wearing Le Top during the holidays to kid tantrums that their ‘favorite Le Top tights are snagged and need new ones’ to their favorite stuffed animals from Le Top.  Le Top is known for making whimsical clothing for kids and it is so true – there is something very magical about knowing how integral Le Top’s clothing can play a part in a family’s life.

I’m not sure how many of you readers know, but Le Top is a family owned business and my Aunt works for the family as well.  She told me a story about a little girl and her love of one of our ‘old favorites,’ LuLu the 2-in-1 stuffed animal and purse. LuLu is similar to our Fall 2010 Haute Dog girls Collection.  We had the Lulu Collection many years ago and it included a really cute Dachshund purse named ‘LuLu.’ 

Here is the story – enjoy and I hope it makes you smile as it did for us here at Le Top:

The storeowner gave a Lulu to her granddaughter, Meg. She fell in love with this little doggie purse and even though she was barely old enough she carried it everywhere.  Her grandmother, Lynn, had told my Aunt Kathy how she loved this purse and called in ‘RuRu.’ It had become so ‘loved’ and tattered that she asked if there was any chance we could find her a new one. We did a land search and found one and sent it off to her. Now, a couple of years later the ‘RuRu’ was starting to look worn again. They told Jerry Gibson, one of Le Top’s sales representatives at market week (where the various children’s clothing brands show their clothes for stores to buy each season) that the dog purse was once again – becoming worn and she still wouldn’t part with it. Jerry had made a store visit to one of our accounts that is famous for holding onto her old merchandise for quite a while…and low and behold there was a ‘LuLu’ purse.  He purchased it and sent it to Lynn’s store for Meg.

These photos & letter were sent to Jerry and we thought you might enjoy it too.

Letter to Jerry

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Every time my niece and nephew go anywhere in my car, they have to bring a toy with them.  It doesn’t matter if we’re driving to grandma’s house an hour away, or if we’re only going a few miles to the grocery store.  They have to have something to play with in the backseat.  Sometimes the tradition of picking out a travel buddy is a fun little activity, but when I’m in a rush, it’s really hard to help them decide which stuffed animal buddy is least likely to get “car sick” or “bored” on the drive.

The worst part though, is when I’m hurrying to get somewhere on time and make them leave the toys in the car because “we’re just going to rush right in” and get/do whatever we need, but when we get inside, we have to sit and wait on something.  (Like picking up a prescription—Why are prescriptions never ready when the pharmacy calls me to tell me that they are?)  If it’s only a few minutes of waiting, it’s not that bad.  But when it drags on and the kids starting getting really bored, it’s rough.  I want to go out to the car and let them grab whatever car buddy they brought with them, but then I have to weigh how long it takes to get back out to the car, get the toy, and come back in verses how much longer my estimated wait time is.  It’s all very frustrating for me and for the kids.

Here’s my solution:  Tiny Toy Travel Totes.  (I like alliteration, can you tell?)

Buy three identical sets of small toy collections, like the Dino Toob or Ponies Toob from Safari Ltd (http://www.safariltd.com/), and two small zippered pouches (like a large pen bag or a small toiletries bag).  Put one set of the toys in each of the zippered bags and keep the third set separate.  Keep one pouch in your purse/backpack, one pouch in your car, and keep the third, loose set at home.  That way the kids will already be familiar with the car toys; when you’re in a rush to get out of the house, the kids will already have something to play with in the car; and if you get stuck in the lobby of a doctor’s office or in the waiting area of restaurant, you’ll have the tiny toys they love in your bag, ready at a moment’s notice. 

You won’t have to worry about losing the toys in the journey between the house and the car or the car and your destination because each set will stay at its predetermined location.  You also have less chance of losing individual toys from each bag since you and your kids will quickly become familiar with the set and will know exactly how many pieces go in the bag. (Bonus:  Practice counting or addition/subtraction with your kids while putting the toys back in their totes.)

Tiny Toy Travel Totes are a BIG time and energy saver for me when I’m trying to get the kids back and forth from the car.  They say good things come in small packages—in this case, the good thing stuffed in those pouches with the tiny dinosaurs and ponies is my sanity.

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No, not the name of Michael Jackson’s child, but yes, the infamous Blanket. Every child has one and adores, loves, obsesses, ‘can’t live’ without one.  Every parent, from generation to generation, knows how emotionally attached a child can become to a soft toy or blanket. They understand that their child needs the comfort of their blankie each night when they go to sleep. While most parents do know and accept this fact, not all of them are aware of the reason for the attachment of the kids to their blankets.

Growing up, I had a blanket that was shredded at the edges and disgusting, I sucked on the corner of it every night – it’s name was Blankie. One time I accidentally left it at Disneyland in the hotel and I went back home to San Francisco where I lived as a child. I didn’t sleep for 2 nights until it came back. My heroic Aunt Kathy went to Southern California, dug through lost and found and brought back “Blankie.” My hero!!

Research published by the international journal Cognition in 2007 suggested that children tend to think their toy or blanket has a unique property or ‘essence’. According to ScienceDaily.com, “To support this theory, Professor Bruce Hood from the University of Bristol and his colleague Dr Paul Bloom of Yale University, USA, showed that 3-6 year-old children have a preference for their cherished items over apparently identical duplicates. Professor Hood said: ‘When offered the choice of originals and copies, children showed no preference for duplicates of their toys unless the object to be copied was the special one that they took to bed every night. A quarter of children refused to have their favorite object copied at all, and most of those who were persuaded to put their toy in the copying machine wanted the original back.’”

Most research has said that attachment to blankets or toys are because they are comfort items that provide a sense of security. However this study suggests that in addition to these physical properties of the toy, children believe that there is some other property of their objects that cannot be physically copied – in other words, these objects have a sort of “essence” that are invisible properties that make blankets or these special toys unique.

Other reasons why blankets are so important to children?

  • First of all, the blanket provides a sense of comfort and security. This is the feeling the child associates with its mother right from the time it arrives into this world.
  • A child also feels warm when wrapped with the blanket. This is another feeling associated with the mother when she hugs her child. Naturally, a child develops an affinity to objects that keep him or her snug and cozy.
  • It provides a special feeling – most blankets are soft to the touch, just the way a mother is to a child. A child needs the presence of his or her mother when going to sleep. Blankets offer the child the feeling of having their mother around them when they fall asleep.

In a surprising discovery, research conducted by Richard H Passen and his team at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee revealed that children liked their security blanket because it helped them cope with newer changes in life and helps in their learning. In fact, blankets of multiple colors are the best way to get children to learn the names of the colors and recognize their easily.

Kids, just like all of us adults, like the feeling of being safe and kept warm and snuggled. Conclusion?  No wonder a security blanket is indispensable!  Check out our Le Top so soft blankets by clicking here: http://www.letop-usa.com/Shop/ProductGrid?category=blankets&section=Baby

Le Top Soft Blankets

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Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with The Toggery in Little Rock, Arkansas. So what is the meaning of “toggery”? Phil Olinghouse, owner of The Toggery children’s store tells us about what The Toggery means to him and about his fun “Elf on the Shelf” blog type items, where he shopped as a kid, and the evolution of his store since its inception in1948.

 tog·ger·y  (tg-r, tôg-)
n. pl. tog·ger·ies
1. Clothing; togs.
2. A clothing store.

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

The Toggery in Pleasant Ridge Town Center

1.     What is one fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Phil: The number of hours that Penny (my wife) and I put in trying to respond to the needs of our customers. We spend untold time on special orders and special requests.

2.     What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Phil: We have been able to relate to the needs of our customers, and make every effort to supply those needs in a timely manner with a fair price that provides good value. We have consistently provided service that focuses on our customer first and foremost.  

3.     You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Phil: No talking allowed at the Toggery, I don’t know. (wink, wink) 

4.     Are you a Little Rock native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Penny and I both grew up in Little Rock. Our Heights location is where  The Toggery started in 1948 and we have been in the same location since 1962. This is a wonderful old neighborhood where we know our neighbors. The shopping area has always attracted customers from all over the state of Arkansas because of its reputation for unique upscale shopping. On the other hand our Pleasant Ridge Town Center store, which we newly opened in January, has reinforced our commitment to that part of our city. This has been the center of growth for a number of years and we have been a part of west Little Rock since 1978.

4.     What type of clothing did you wear growing up as kid? What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child? Do you have a picture of you as a kid you can share with us?
Phil: My mother dressed me at JCPenny, Sears, and the Crystal Kiddie children’s shop. Pretty traditional stuff – who can remember that far back? I think mothers today should focus on unique clothes that reflect their taste and lifestyle. Remember quality clothes last longer and look better longer. 

5.     We love your blog –what is your daily inspiration for your blog entries? How many bloggers are on your team of writers? What has been your most popular blog item?
Phil: Last June we formed a web team whose mission is to enhance the presence of The Toggery on the Internet. The three young people that work on this project bring a ton of enthusiasm and energy to their job. Caroline Tyler, a creative writing graduate student writes our blog. She has had an incredible response. Our team brainstorms at our weekly meetings and she brings these ideas to life. This team also markets our store through e-mail and Facebook campaigns. My favorite promotion was last Christmas when we had a contest to name your elf, based on the “Elf On The Shelf” book. The response was incredible and the creativity of the names our customers had was incredible.

6.     You have a great selection of items to buy from your store from clothes to shoes to uniforms to books! What is your favorite children’s book and why?
Phil: My favorite book is “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman. This book gets right to heart of what you want a child to hear early on. It is a wonderful story that should be in every library.

7.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Phil: Be extremely focused on what you want your store to be. Listen to your customers and never forget you are there to serve them in an extraordinary way. Last, always have a planned buy and do not overbuy. More stores fail because of how much they buy, rather than what they buy.  

8.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Phil: I think when Penny and I had our first grandchild and got to clothe her (and the four that have followed) has been memorable and meaningful. They have certainly rejuvenated and stimulated our buying. That was 10 years ago and we are a much better store because of them.

9.     What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Phil: We loved the boys Choo Choo Zoo collection from Le Top Baby. It was pure Le Top, traditional and very special for our newborn boys. And the best part was it sold great!

The Toggery
5919 R Street
Little Rock, AR 72207

The Toggery
Pleasant Ridge Town Center

11525 Cantrell Road Ste. 405
Little Rock, Arkansas 72212

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Over a week ago when we were on a play date with our friends Sacha and  Cooper (her son), they asked if we wanted to go see Pixar’s new “Toy Story 3” with them. We jumped at the chance since we had just watched “Toy Story 2” at their house. This was going to be Lilah’s first movie at the theater. So exciting!

Lilah showing off her cool 3-D glasses (and her rabbit moon fleur-de-lys track suit jacket)

Thursday rolled around and I picked Lilah up from daycare and we headed over to Sacha and Cooper’s house to meet up. Lilah was excited to ride in Sacha’s car and was amazed that she had a second car seat ‘just for her.’ It was off to the movies. We chose to go “Toy Story 3” in all of the hyped up glory – Imax and 3-D (just down the street from where it was made in Emeryville)! I have personally never seen a 3-D movie, so it was both Lilah’s and my first experience. We paid for the tickets and I quickly handed her a ticket of her very own. When I passed mine to the theater attendant she handed me the adult glasses and they were HUGE (think bigger than Elton John’s in the 70s) – big enough to fit over my glasses with room to spare and they didn’t fold. Lilah received a smaller folded pair in a plastic baggy (keepers)…Now onward to the snack counter.

Though normally I try to bypass the snacks, since this was Lilah’s first time to the theater, we had to ‘do it properly.’ We bought a small popcorn (which was actually enormous), some chicken tenders, and a water. Our friends filled in with candy and nachos and we were off to pick our seats. We were set.

The theater was already dark, but we saw the perfect seats on the opposite side. As we crossed the theater Lilah was behind me. My arms were full of snacks. When I checked to see if she was still there, she had stopped and said very loudly, “Mommy, it’s so dark!” The rows near us started laughing. It was adorable. We took our seats and hunkered down. Lilah sat with the popcorn and munched for most of the movie. It was incredible. The 3-D effects truly felt as if they were happening just inches from us. She never got scared or bored, and even sat through the entire movie. I couldn’t be more proud of her. The movie was perfect in every way. What amazes me is how kids nowadays will expect to see everything in 3-D. The number of 3-D movie previews we saw was truly unbelievable. After this experience with her I can guarantee we will be attending more movies at the theater soon.

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Lollipop, Lollipop, oh-lalli-lalli-pop! Read all about this week’s “Store Spotlight with Lollipops Children’s Shop in Latham, New York.  Chris Coletta, owner of Lollipops Children’s Shop, gives us the story of moving store locations without a credit card machine and her top sales ever, her favorite children’s book and 3 tips to owning a successful children’s boutique.

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

1.    Have you always been interested in entering the children’s business? What was your background prior?
Ever since I had my two girls who are now 30 and 25-years-old, I have always been interested in children’s clothing. When they were born, I used to dress them to the nines!  At ages 4 and 9, I decided that I wanted to open up our shop and called it Lollipops Children’s Shop. I opened the store because I loved the outfits that I dressed the girls in so much and there weren’t any kids shops around where I could buy this types of clothing – they were my inspiration!

Prior to the store, I didn’t have children’s apparel experience, but more of a passion with the support of my wonderful husband, Dennis.

2.    The name of your store reminds of me of something whimsical like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I am envisioning lollipops everywhere and sweet kids shopping! – Where did the name come from?
Chris: During the process of naming our store, my husband Dennis and I were looking through pictures of children and found two children holding lollipops stepping into a box, so that is where it came from!

3.    Are you a New York native? If so, what did you do growing up as a kid in the local area? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Chris: Yes, I am! We are from upstate New York near Albany. My cousins all lived down the street, and it was a great place to grow up. Our store is located in a beautiful affluent neighborhood, and is in a strip mall with other retail stores and restaurants.

4.    What is your favorite kid book and why?
Chris: The book that came to mind is the Little Engine that Could because the premise of the book is about really wanting something and making it happen. Dennis and I really related to this in wanting to open our store – it is how we approach our business.

5.    What is 1 tip you would give a parent on how to update your child’s wardrobe for summer?
Chris: I would probably tell a customer to buy some basic bottoms (solid color or a khaki) for the summer and fun tops to switch up the outfit. Then buy a trendy accessory like a bow or hat to make it look special.

6.    Who is your target customer?
Chris: Our target customers are new parents and grandparents that want something special for their children. Oh – and also love to find beautiful gifts.

7.    Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Chris: This spring Tony Dovolani from DWTS (Dancing With The Stars) stopped in! We also had a very good customer who would buy for the musician James Taylor’s twins when they were babies until when they were 5 and 6 years old!

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

  1. Knowing your customers’ wants and needs
  2. Building long and lasting relationships with your customers
  3. Go above and beyond for your customers. For example, we take special orders and offer complimentary gift wrap.
  4. I know it is supposed to be 3 keys to success, but a 4th key is to be in the store!  I am in the store 90% of the time because as an owner, you should always be there, and even though I have great employees who are trained the way I would personally do sales, it is important to show your face on the floor.

9.    If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Chris: You have to be willing to spend most of the time at the store and know the business. It is the most important thing. Build relationships! A lot of returning customers become family to you. You end up thinking about those customers with personal relationships when you are buying at the trade shows.

10.    What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Chris: We were originally at our 1st location for 12 years. Then 10 years ago, the owners of a local mall came to us and we decided to move…we we’re nervous at first, but it was an unbelievable change. We closed our original store location on the evening of June 30th and opened at the new store location the morning of July 1st.  We didn’t even have a credit card machine and it was our busiest day in our business EVER. We weren’t even dressed for business – I was still in my sneakers and customers were buying right off the rack.  It made us feel good about the move and location. We have now been in business a total of 22 years.

11.    What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon do you heart most from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
My favorite collections were the girl ‘Daisy Duck’ collection and the boy ‘Gone Fishin’ collection because customers love that combination of mixing and matching.

594 New Loudon Rd.
Latham, NY 12110

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