Posts in November, 2010

Reindeer High-Tops

Friday, November 19th, 2010

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I went to a tree lighting event on Tuesday, and I bought my first Christmas present today, so I guess it is time for me to start thinking seriously about the holidays. (I am still having a hard time with the fact it is already November! What ever happened to August, September & October?) As I was pouring through stacks for holiday catalogs tonight I found these adorable reindeer classic Chuck Taylor® All Star® canvas high-tops in the Chasing Fireflies catalogue. What kid isn’t going to love these? Perfect for both boys and girls. While you are at it, pick up a pair of cool antlers for your little elf too.

No Kid Hungry

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

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The Land of Nod is doing its part to spread the word and help ensure that children in our own country do not go hungry. They are partnering with No Kid Hungry to help the 17 million children living in the United States who do not get enough to eat. There is so much focus these days on childhood obesity that it is too easy to forget about these hungry children living in our communities. Here is more information about their partnership and mission. You can help by making a donation, or you can Shop at The Land of Nod and buy one of these cool fun food products. 5% of the sales from these qualifying products will be donated to the cause.

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Sole Searching – Getas

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

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During the summer of 1979, my family took a trip to Asia with a group from the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and we visited China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. I wore my blue and yellow Zips throughout the trip – my favorite sneakers at the time. My brother wore identical ones. With our bright shoes, blond hair and OP corduroy shorts in vibrant colors, we were quite a spectacle for the many Easterners who had never seen white American children.

In Kyoto my mother bought my brother and I matching black lacquer Japanese sandals – the ones that look like a wooden flip-flop resting on two boards turned sideways. The simple straps were a wonderful red velvet. When we put them on in the store we both giggled in delight. We never thought we’d be able to walk in them, but of course we wanted to have them.

A few days later we were in Tokyo. My dad and I went for an evening walk and I wore my new Japanese shoes. I vividly remember passing by the rows and rows of arcades with all of the pulsating music and flashing lights. The clanking noises from the machines, the American pop music, the neon lights – it was such a sensory overload. There I was in Tokyo, an eight year old California girl in my brand new pair of getas singing along to Shawn Cassidy. What a sight to behold.

Here are a few more of my favorite memories from that trip…


Pear Tree Greetings

Mountain Mama

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

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I was thrilled to stumble upon Mountain Mama last month at The Women’s Conference. When I saw their selection of outdoor wear I immediately thought, “I wish I had these when I was pregnant!” The products were that perfect combination of being highly functional and great looking. Their exclusive Bellyglove™ fit “eliminates up-drafts, unflattering draping, and peek-a-boo bellies.” Add to that some gorgeous colors and super soft fabrics – what else could you want in great clothes? Even though their products were originally created for women who are outdoorsy and super active (two characteristics I would not use to describe myself by the way) – I think they are actually great for any mom-to-be. After falling in love with their fall collection, I then found out that the company’s founder Teresa Delfín is a fellow Stanford alum and we were both featured in the same article in the December issue of Success magazine. How cool is that? I want to wish Teresa and her team great success.

Books to be Thankful For

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

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Susan’s latest installment is all about Thanksgiving. Here are some books you can read with the kids in between bites of pumpkin pie:

As an agnostic, vegetarian liberal, it’s been a challenge to find books about the first Thanksgiving that I’m eager to read to my children.

To my kids, the holiday is about getting a break from school, visiting grandma, and eating lots of food. And, oh yeah, pilgrims – the guys in the boat with the silly hats.

To me, the holiday is complicated by more than just ruined diets and quarreling relatives. I’d really like to believe the kids’ books with buff Native Americans and clean, healthy pilgrims shaking hands, sharing food, and laughing. But I’ve read a little too much history for those pictures to be palatable. How do I explain to my kids that we’ll be celebrating Native American Heritage Day when their whole school is making paper Mayflowers?

After much searching, I finally found three books that strike a decent balance between the rosy American myth and the less savory reality. My kids can get a taste of the trials and triumphs of the pilgrims without needing to relearn history in high school.

Now, if I can just get them to eat the tofu turkey . . . .

The Story of Thanksgiving, by Nancy J. Skarmeas, illustrated by Stacy Venturi-Pickett. For the littlest listeners, this is a simple, straightforward version of the traditional Thanksgiving tale. The bad parts are glossed over – the pilgrims’ first, devastating winter is described simply as “Winter came. Icy winds blew. Snow fell. There was not much food to eat.” The cartoons are cheerful, in warm autumn colors. The modern-day family at the end is as multi-ethnic as the pilgrims’ feast.

Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving, by Ann McGovern, illustrated by Elroy Freem. For slightly older children, this book fleshes out the basic story in an engaging, easy-to-understand, and informative way. The book doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of the voyage and first winter. “The Pilgrim children hated the food on the ship. But they had to eat it. There was nothing else.” The detailed descriptions of how the pilgrims had to build everything from scratch will fascinate kids who can just go to the store for anything. Kids may be especially interested to learn how much work children did! The book puts a strong emphasis on the help the pilgrims got from the Native Americans, especially Squanto, the only character in the book who is given a name.

Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast, by Kate Waters, photographs by Russ Kendall, in cooperation with Plimoth Plantation. Actors in historically-accurate costumes reenact the three-day feast from the alternating points of view of a Native American boy, Dancing Moccasins, and an English boy, Resolved White. The book follows the boys’ curiosity about each other and the different tasks each are given to prepare for the celebration. The contrasting clothes, cooking areas, and weapons will probably prompt many questions. My son insisted on reading this book three times in a row. Older children and grownups will also like the more in-depth information at the back of the book.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

Black Boots

Friday, November 12th, 2010

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These Stuart Weitzman boots are soooo cute! I spent last weekend in San Francisco on a mommy getaway weekend with 3 girlfriends and we spent a lot of time searching all over Union Square for fabulous new winter boots. My friend Rocio fell madly in love with a pair of gorgeous brown suede Valentino boots. They were beautiful.  We found them at Neiman Marcus but you can order them online if you Shop at Saks.com. I came home empty handed but I must admit I can’t get these Stuart Weitzman boots out of my head. I am thinking that they may need to mysteriously arrive at my front door one day… The leather is really soft and I really liked the quilted detailing – gave them a little bit of a Chanel vibe. They would be great with a skirt (can’t remember the last time I actually wore a dress or a skirt, but maybe I will again some day) or with pants. We all agreed that a new pair of leather boots would be the perfect addition to any mommy wardrobe. I just might have to order a pair tonight….

Donate Breast Milk

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

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Many years ago I watched an episode of Oprah on the topic of donating breast milk. Not surprising, I was moved to tears to hear and watch the stories of these small innocent children, many orphans, who had little access to the nutrition their bodies so desperately needed. I am not hear to tell anyone that they have to breast feed their children. It is a personal decision that should not be judged by anyone. I just want to help spread the word, that if you are a breast feeding mom, or if you think you will be one in the future, you should at least consider donating some of your milk to children in need in your own community or abroad.

As of October 2010, the International Breast Milk Project has provided over 267,682 ounces, or 66,920 bottles, of life-giving donor breast milk to infants in South Africa. These are babies suffering from HIV/AIDS, malnourishment, poverty and disease. The milk helps give them a better chance of survival. I have found a number of organizations that help collect and distribute breast milk in the US and abroad. Please help spread the word. Send me an email if you know of others that I should add to my list.

Sole Searching, The Beginning

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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I am not really sure how or when my addiction to shoes began. I have always had a hard time parting with my old sneakers, loafers, sandals, boots and kitten heels because they always seem to hold too many memories that I don’t want to let go of. No matter where I travel in the world I always seem to buy at least one pair of shoes – if not two or three. My shoes are my souvenirs and my treasured reminders of adventures to far away lands. Many of my shoes have also been purchased during times of swirling emotions. Whether it was the devastation from a broken heart that led me to the Christian Louboutin table at Neiman Marcus or the celebration of life and giggles and laughter with great friends that steered me towards a rickety beach stand full of flip flops, it is in these moments that a purchase was made and a snapshot of my life captured forever.

If you have a few minutes, why don’t you come along and shop with me…I wrote Sole Searching many many years ago and it is a collection of my shoe shopping stories. You can read them all at once, or come back once a week for a new tale. I will try to get a new one up every Tuesday.


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Tooth Fairy Pillow

Monday, November 8th, 2010

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The other day my friend mentioned that her son had lost his first tooth and she wanted to start a special family tradition for the tooth fairy to come along at night to take the tooth and bring her son a little treat. What she needed was a special place for her son to put his tooth. Her story made me remember how much I believed in and loved the magical tooth fairy as a little girl.

This adorable tooth fairy pillow from Petite Miette comes in 8 different colors and is made from 100% organic cotton. “La Bonne Petite Souris” is French for “The Good Little Mouse” and is also the title of an old French fairy tale that is believed by some to be the origin of the tooth fairy story. This is a great $20 gift item to have on hand for little boys and girls.  From blankets and bibs to escargot, Petite Miette has many other delightful products to choose from – all of which are made from sustainable, natural materials that are good for your baby and the planet.


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I Dare You Not to Cry

Friday, November 5th, 2010

A huge thank you to Susan for another great post on children’s books. I am sure I will be sobbing after I read the featured books:

When I had my first son, my friends and relatives eagerly sent me children’s books that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of making parents cry. But while a sleep-deprived mother would seem to be an easy target, I was usually annoyed instead of moved. I’m a person who prefers Jon Stewart to the Oxygen Network. At the first sight of deliberately cutesy, heart-wringing narratives, especially ones with adorable bunnies, my eyes tend to roll up rather than tear up.

So I was astonished when the following two books snuck past my defenses. Why didn’t they set off my mush alarms? While they do remind me about the fragility and importance of love, these books actually tell interesting stories. They feature unusual characters and settings. They surprise me. The emotions come from the stories – the emotions aren’t the excuses for the stories.

Or maybe, deep down, I’m just a marshmallow.

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The Sea Serpent and Me, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Catia Chien. At first, this appears to be simply a version of “boy raises dragon,” but with a little girl and a sea serpent. The serpent first appears in the girl’s bathtub, dropping out of the faucet, “so small I could hold him in my hands.” They play together, and he sleeps by her bed in a fish tank. But soon the serpent grows too big, and they both realize it’s time for him to live in the ocean. The misgivings they both have about saying goodbye spread out over several poetic and freshly-written pages, as they try to comfort each other with descriptions of a friendly ocean where “manta rays swim like dancing blankets” and there are “fish shaped like guitars.” When the parenthood metaphor hits you, I challenge you to finish the book with dry eyes.

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The Dog Who Belonged to No One, by Amy Hest, illustrated by Amy Bates. A lonely girl and a stray dog find each other. The dog, “a perfectly nice fellow,” tries to be helpful to everyone around him, but no one notices. Lia, who has to spend the weekends working for her parents’ bakery, doesn’t have the chance to make friends. When a storm blows up, they both find their way to the bakery, and neither of them is alone after that. The book is saved from being sickly-sweet by its very specific setting – a slice of America’s past, in which people in a town keep livestock and a little girl bicycles to deliver bread. The watercolor illustrations masterfully evoke emotion through unusual angles and contrasting colors. One especially lovely page shows the gray, stormy streets of the town, with Lia and the dog both racing to the only bright spot – the warm yellow bakery.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.


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