Dec 24, 2009

A Mailbox Full of Christmas and Holiday Cards

Ohhhhhh…I love getting Christmas and Holiday cards. I’m like a little kid! I love the anticipation. Love opening the mailbox to see what the postman has delivered. It is so much fun to hear from friends and family…see new photos…get the latest updates. Laugh. Smile. Giggle. And sometimes even cry.

It always seems like the year has gone by way too fast…and then I see the photos and WOW have all the kids grown!! Just babies last year…now toddling around. Just young kids…now fresh into the teen years. Out of high school…on to college. More hair (less hair!), new braces, new glasses, no more glasses, reading glasses (oh no!), new fashions, new styles, new places, new adventures…LOVE IT! It is just wonderful to find out what folks have been up to. And the creative, fun, funny, adorable, cute, and beautiful photos/cards give a glimpse into your lives! Love to see the style, colors, words and photos chosen and adventures shared.

And then there are the storytellers! Love the Christmas/Holiday letters! I’m always so impressed at anyone who can summarize their year in one page! And, I have my absolute favorite writers (Luigi…Katie…I’m waiting for this year’s letters!! Hurry up! I need a dose of your holiday humor!)

Of course, I’m always a little melancholy when I get these great cards/photos/letters too! Why? Well, I think…”Can it really have been a year already?” or “Wow…I wish we had connected more this year.” or “Oh my gosh. Where did the time go?” It makes me reflect on the past year…remember the precious moments…and reminds me to savor each day.

Now, I must admit to you that I save (and I mean SAVE) all of my holiday cards. Every year. I have a box from every year. I just can’t throw them away. One year I even made a “holiday card scrapbook”! (I meant to do that every year….but you know how that goes!) I can’t help myself (it’s the packrat in me)…it just doesn’t seem OK to throw away (or even recycle!) these memories.

Now tied with loving to get Christmas and Holiday cards is making Christmas/Holiday cards! LOVE IT! It’s fun to find great photos from the year…or take a new photo. Fun to see if I can get a little boy and a little dog captured in a great photographic moment! And “pre-Ethan” I even liked to seal my cards with wax stamps and handwrite addresses in interesting script with cool gold or silver ink! Yes…really!

So here is the chronology of our Christmas photos/cards since Ethan was born (can’t seem to find the boxes from early years but I know I have them somewhere!)

2009 –Cool Little Dude! (You are growing up way too fast!)

2008 – Rockin’ Around in Vermont

2007 – My Little Golfer (yes, Ethan really golfs and loves it!)

Stay tuned...working on a set of wooden golf clubs to offer on!

2006 – Oh Dear, Mommy Fell for the Happy Feet Display at the Mall!

2005 – A Little Boy and His Best Friend

Wishing you and your families many precious moments and much happiness this holiday season!

Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll!!


Dec 14, 2009

Holiday Lights in NYC

Crisp, cold winter air…bright city lights…festive holiday decorations…taxis honking… there is nothing like New York City during the holiday season! And what a wonderful night Ethan and I had in the Big Apple with Aunt Jen (my brother Buddy’s wife who was visiting from San Francisco). Ethan adores Aunt Jen! And how wonderful for Ethan to have such a loving, doting, cooler than cool “Auntie”!

Disclaimer for this entire blog....apologies...all of my photos are slightly askew...too funny!

So what was the big night? The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center!!! Worried about “gridlock alert” we headed into the city early…expecting to be on time…and we were EARLY! Really? Yup! (Aunt Jen is a goooood influence!)

Had to snap this shot of Aunt Jen and Ethan waiting for me while I parked the car:

Who is that cool little boy? (We think he was imitating Uncle Buddy!) Aunt Jen was holding back the giggles as she asked Ethan “What are you doing there? How do I stand like that?” And I can’t stop chuckling about this photo! “Hey, Ethan…you’re only 4 years old…you’re looking like a teenager already!”

We had dinner at a great Mexican Restaurant just across the street from Lincoln Center, Rosa Mexicana. Ethan loved the guacamole made tableside. And he especially enjoyed doling out the guacamole to Mommy and Aunt Jen from the molcajete lava stone bowl. Rosa Mexicana has a really cool wall of water with lots of little divers (it looks like a work of art) which Ethan loved!!

Ethan in front of the wall of water:

Before heading to Lincoln Center, we walked around a bit admiring the beautiful lights.

Gorgeous Christmas Tree decorated with Plates (yes, dinner plates):

Aunt Jen and Ethan admiring the tree and the brightly lit Gingerbread Man:

Another beautifully lit tree:

We started talking to a woman who had the cutest little dog. And I mean LITTLE dog. No more than 10” long and 3 pounds!

Check out the size comparison to Ethan’s sneaker!

I should mention that this little doggie’s name was Twitter! YES, TWITTER!!! Too funny. Twitter was in twaining, I mean training to be a therapy dog like his older brother, Blackberry. YES, BLACKBERRY!!! Only in New York!! Love it!

Check out Blackberry’s calling card!

A Twitterer-to-be with a little Twitter:

Time went by quickly and we headed to Lincoln Center.

Great architecture from the 1960’s:

Ethan loved the fountain:

And although I can’t show you any photos “(turn off your cell phones and no photography please”), Ethan loved the Nutcracker! Biggest hits:

-the giant Christmas tree
-the Rats (they are really mice, but once I called them rats there was no turning back)
-the Dancing Candy Canes
-the Sugarplum Fairies
-the sleigh that flies into the air at the end

The colorful costumes and sets were gorgeous! The dancing was wonderful and the music was beautiful too! When we had to duck out of the hall to head to the bathroom, Ethan said “I like this Mommy. How about we come here again next year but next time we don’t miss anything to go to the bathroom?” Love the advance planning!

Our excursion ended all too soon. And although it was a long day, Ethan loved the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker and didn’t want to leave! Once we were back in the car and headed back out to New Jersey, it didn’t take more than a few minutes for Ethan to fall asleep…with that adorable innocent face…. Thanks Aunt Jen for a memorable evening!

Crisp, cold winter air…bright city lights…festive holiday decorations…taxis honking… There is nothing like New York City during the holiday season!!

Dec 5, 2009

The Happiest Mom in the World

Ethan just 2 days old!

I am a happy Mom. A really happy Mom. I think I may be the happiest Mom in the world. And I’ll tell you why…

I was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. My world came to a stop. I was shocked and devastated. My life was great ---- wonderful husband, great career, very dear friends, and caring family. I was active, fit, and enjoying life. I was only in my 30s. My husband and I were hoping to have a family and were undergoing infertility treatment. After our first IVF cycle, we had gotten pregnant but the pregnancy didn’t hold. We were optimistic that we would be parents sometime soon. It was supposed to be a “routine biopsy”. I can still hear my surgeon telling me the news. My first thought was “will I live?” and then “will I ever have a baby?”

From that day on, I learned to live for each day. I reached out to friends and family to put me in contact with anyone who could help me find the best treatment, understand the disease, and deal with all the emotions --- anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression. I was lucky that although the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, it had not spread to other areas of my body. I chose the most aggressive treatment possible and tried to move on with my life. I learned about some great organizations dedicated to helping women deal with breast cancer and fighting for advancements in treatment. I met so many wonderful, dynamic, strong women survivors who helped me through every stage of dealing with my diagnosis ---- choosing physicians, going through surgery/chemotherapy/ radiation, and learning to live my life again. Women who laughed and cried with me, offered me advice and talked to me for hours. The tremendous love and support from these women and my family and friends was incredible. Words cannot express my love and gratitude to all of these special people in my life.

After my diagnosis, in many ways the world became more vivid to me. I noticed more things and took more time to listen, look, and explore. Every moment became precious. I left behind the quest for a high-powered corporate career to focus on having a family, quality of life, and giving back. Every week throughout my treatment and beyond, I bought one children’s book and put it on a shelf to save for my “baby-to-be”. That focus on the future…on having a child someday, helped me through the toughest days of treatment.

After my treatment was completed, my oncologist recommended against trying to become pregnant as my tumor had been estrogen receptor positive (and during pregnancy estrogen levels increase significantly). Our precious embryo was carried to term by an amazing woman (a gestational surrogate). Ethan was born in September of 2005. I became a Mom. I am so grateful to this amazing woman who has become a dear friend, part of our family, an “Auntie” to Ethan. To this day, when I hold Ethan in my arms, it brings tears to my eyes since I never thought I would be a Mom. And my little boy is the absolute joy of my life.

When Ethan was born, I think I was the only new Mom on the planet who was not just happy…but thrilled to wake up during the night for feedings…fine with sleepless nights…happy to deal with anything! The happiest Mom in the world! If I’m ever telling you a story about Ethan and something he’s said or something we’ve done together…don’t be surprised to see tears in my eyes. In fact, I can get very weepy when I talk about him! I love to see him explore the world and learn new things…love to hear his little voice tell a story or break out into song…love the “why?” “why?” “why” questions…and love his every developing sense of humor (right now he thinks the funniest thing is to say “Mommy?” I answer “Yes, Ethan?” He says “Nothing!” And breaks into giggles. Ahhhh, the simple pleasures in life.

I am truly grateful for every precious moment in this world. For many reasons, I’m driven to try to make some small difference in this world. I was happy (and lucky) to stay at home full-time with Ethan for his first 2.5 years. It was a wonderful time. Since he was born, I have spent lots of time showing him the outdoors, introducing him to art and music, reading books and have seen how exposing a child to nature/art/music at a young age can inspire such a curiosity about and an awareness of the world. I began playing music for Ethan when he was just a few hours old...started reading books to him when he was just a few days old…and took him outside to feel the rain when he was just a week old. I love every minute of time that I spend with Ethan…love watching him grow and learn…love his curiosity and interest in the world.

When I thought about working again, I had no interest in the corporate world. So, Rosie Hippo was perfect –a combination of my love for children, my interest in child development, my creative side, and my marketing/business background. And I love what I do! I love bringing toys and books and music to children that will help inspire them, teach them about the world --- issues like diversity, giving, greening -- and help instill good values and a foundation from which to grow. And I’m dedicated to trying to give back…to trying to make some small difference in the world. I want Rosie Hippo to be a toy company with a what we stand for, in what we sell, and in what we support. I’ve sought opportunities to partner with like-minded organizations dedicated to trying to make a difference...for children...for parents...and for our planet.

Every time that I hug my little boy, snuggle with him and read a book, hear him say “Mommy I love you” and experience so many other beautiful moments reminds me of how precious life is…how precious children are…and I am truly grateful. I am indeed the “happiest Mom in the world”!

Nov 26, 2009

A Kaleidoscope of Fall Color

“Listen to the leaves falling one by one…” This is the first line of a song Ethan and I love to sing together. We just love the Fall! The beautiful colors…the crisp, cool air…hiking in the mountains…crunching through the leaves… Here is an overview of our wonderful times this Fall...

There were so many beautiful Fall days.

A kaleidoscope of color:

The prettiest Fall scene:

Hiking…hiking…hiking! I love to hike! Ethan loves to hike! Ethan has been hiking since he began to walk!

Hiking in Vermont...isn't it beautiful?:

Love those little hiking feet:

Before the crazy retail season hit, we tried to hike at least once every weekend. We enjoyed some especially picturesque hikes in the mountains of Vermont.

Gorgeous views from Stratton Mountain:

View of Owl’s Head Mountain:

Isn't this little bridge lovely?:

We read the Woods Walk book to help us explore the Fall. Love this book! It contains lots of great facts about each season, highlights how to use your senses to experience nature…and provide lots of ideas on how to discover nature with your child. “Collect Fall leaves by shape…How to tell conifers apart..A list of leaves by color…Go on a woodland treasure hunt…so much fun stuff! And My Nature Book, a journal, provides a place to record your memories...a place to write about the good times you’ve had in nature that you will never forget.

Ethan found a caterpillar on one of our many hikes:

And a frog too:

Ethan loved learning about why leaves change colors. He walked around telling everyone “the leaves have lost their chlorophyll!” One day on the way to school, we decided to name the autumn leaf colors. It was a fun activity that we did over and over again and it kept both of us more aware of the beauty of our surroundings.






Lemon & Kiwi:


A fun and easy activity we did this Fall was to make a wreath out of colorful leaves. Minimal supplies are needed: paper plate, glue, leaves, and yarn. Cut a circle out of the center of the paper plate. Glue leaves to the paper plate. Attach yarn at the top so you can hang the wreath. Voila! A Fall Wreath! Nature's Art Box (another favorite book) provides directions for how to make a wreath out of vines or branches.

Out to collect the leaves:

Minimal supplies needed:

Ethan loved the gluing:

Completed masterpiece:

What a wonderful, colorful Fall!

And such a happy little guy:

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Nov 11, 2009

Speak for the Trees: The Lorax, an Earth-Friendly Story

Books…books…books…I LOVE books! I’m addicted to books! I love sitting and snuggling with Ethan while we read a good book. Opening a book is opening the world to a child.

I started reading to Ethan when he was just a few days old. The rhyme and rhythm of Dr. Suess was a favorite. And now Ethan loves books too. I love when he asks, “Mommy can we read at least 6 books tonight?”. Hmmmmm….YES, of course, 6 books it is!!! He loves to read the same book over and over and over again. He learns new things from books, expands his knowledge on things he likes, laughs at silly stories, deepens his understanding of the world…and most of all has lots of fun exploring his universe through books. It brings tears to my eyes that he has a “only read with Mommy” book – “I Love You As Much” by Laura Krauss Melmed. I read this book to him when he was a baby…and now he “reads” it back to me.

A few weeks ago, I went to Ethan’s school on a Friday morning to sit in on Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting occurs each morning before classes begin, when students and faculty meet and together experience poetry, music, and stories. That day, Ethan’s teacher was reading a story to the children, The Lorax by Dr. Suess. This book was written 38 years ago and its message couldn’t be more relevant today! For those of you who haven’t ever read it and those who perhaps haven’t read it in awhile…the Lorax is a story about the tree loving Lorax and the greedy Once-ler.

The narrator is the Once-ler, who happens upon a lovely place populated by the beautiful, ethereal Truffula Trees. He is bewitched by their beauty and realizes that these natural resources can be profitable so he chops them all down to mass-market Thneeds -- “it’s a shirt, it’s a sock, it’s a glove…a Thneed is something that everyone needs”. Thneeds begin selling at an amazing pace and soon the Once-ler is making so much money. Sadly, in his quest for riches he pollutes the land, the water, and the air -- causing all the other creatures to depart, but leaving behind the yellow Lorax who “speaks for the trees” and warns the Once-ler of his folly. After the very last truffula tree is chopped down, the Once-ler is left alone with a pile of rocks spelling one word ...''Unless''.

When Ethan came home from school that day he wanted to read the Lorax again. And again. And again. We read the Lorax all weekend --- no exaggeration, at least 6 times a day --- and as many as 10.

Ethan was enthralled by the story of the Lorax and had many questions:
Who is the Lorax?
Who is the Once-ler?
What is grickle-grass?
Why did the Once-ler cut down the trees?
Can a whole forest grow from just one seed?
Why? Why? Why?

We acted out the Lorax story with Ethan assigning roles. We talked about the Lorax and what it meant. We both enjoyed playing the part of the Lorax and declaring “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees because they have no tongues.” We were so very sad when the last truffula tree was cut down. And we talked about "unless someone like you tries to make a difference."

Acting out the story was fun…yet also made the essence of the story understandable to Ethan. I would throw an imaginary truffula seed to him and he would put it in his pocket…with a smile on his face…and we would talk about how he, Ethan, can make a difference. The best part was when Ethan put the imaginary truffula seed in his pocket and declared he would take it to school on Monday….to talk to his teacher about saving the trees.

I love finding a story that resonates with Ethan and helps him to understand a complex subject. A good book engages a child and makes an important lesson so more understandable than when mommy just says, “it’s important to take care of our environment…”etc., etc. And actually, we can learn together with our children…. stories like the Lorax remind us to be kind to the earth.

Reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 1 month old:

Uncle Joey reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 2 months old:

Audrey and her friends reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 3 months old:

Ethan "reading" the Lorax at 4 years old:

Needless to say, we added “The Lorax” to Also, check out “The Tree”, a beautifully illustrated story about the joy a tree feels giving life, shade, sustenance, and comfort...and how, when development threatens this tranquility, the fir wonders, “Who will house the owl? And who will hold the river’s shore?” and the importance of people together working to save our trees.

Remember...speak for the trees.


Nov 7, 2009

There is Only One You

I want to share with you a book that I love called "Only One You" by Linda Kranz. This engaging story immediately captured Ethan's interest. From the first time we read the book together, he was hooked! "Only One You" is a beautiful and compelling story that has offered me the opportunity for wonderful exchanges with my son --- many poignant moments ---- and many chances for great learning discussions.

Here are a few of our conversations...

Conversation 1:
Ethan asks to read the book (as he does many nights) "Only One You". I ask "Ethan, why do you like this book, "Only One You"? Ethan responds "Because there's only one you mommy". I ask "There's only one you --- Ethan? or only one me --- mommy?" Ethan says "Because there's only one me, Ethan...and there's only one you, mommy...and there's only one daddy!" He says this with happiness in his voice and a great big smile on his face.

Conversation 2:
On the page where Adri is swimming in a different direction than his friends, Ethan says "Mommy, why is Adri swimming that way? why is he swimming away from his friends? He's going to get lost." I ask "Why do you think Adri's swimming in that direction Ethan?" Ethan says "He must be lost, he needs to turn around or he'll miss his friends." I say "Well Ethan sometimes it's OK to go in another direction from your friends. And sometimes it's important to go in a different direction from your friends. Ethan says "But why mommy?" I say, "Well Ethan, just because your friends are going one way or doing one thing, doesn't mean that you must go that way or do that thing. And it doesn't mean that the direction you're friends are going is the right direction to go! What is most important Ethan is to always do the right thing. And to go in the direction that you think you should go." And to be kind and good to the world and all the creatures in the world. Ethan says, "OK mommy."

The pages of "Only One You" and our conversation has now set the foundation for continued conversations about "choosing your path" and "doing the right thing" and "it's OK to be different". A beautiful story.

LOVE this book!


Oct 31, 2009

Don’t Forget the Face Paint Pencils!

Ethan went to an amazing day camp this summer. Each week there was a specific theme…Nature, Music, the Circus, the 60s, Independence Day, etc. Every Friday we would drive up to music blaring, big banner, and teachers and counselors dressed for the end of the week celebration of that week’s “theme”. Ethan jumped out of bed every morning looking forward to camp, but Friday celebrations were especially exciting for him.

Now, you know how it is…things get busy…and you (as a parent) sometimes forget the “to do” list from school or camp. Hate to admit it…but it’s true!! So one Friday morning we got up and Ethan reminded me it was “Circus Day”. He needed a costume. So…what to do in 20 minutes or less? YES, the inevitable “Clown” costume. One of Daddy’s ties…crazy patchwork pants (yes, I did buy those for him at a Polo Factory outlet store, not sure why as he had never worn them)…t-shirt (that was easy)…mommy’s plaid sneakers (yeah, not sure why I bought those either!)…hat and clown nose from recent trip to circus in NYC (whew, that was lucky).

Now, the most important part to Ethan was…getting his face painted. BIG problem. No face paint pencils. What? But you own a toy company, don’t you? You sell really great, high quality face paint pencils, don’t you? Yes! But you know what they say about “the cobbler’s child has no shoes.” So I brought out “mommy’s makeup case” and did my best. Luckily, kids are easily pleased and Ethan was thrilled with his “quasi” clown face.

Clowning Around: Happy Clown Face

Clowning Around: Sad Clown Face

Now, I had learned my lesson. So, the next time around, when Ethan needed to "dress up" for camp, I was prepared. I had face paint pencils. What week was it? 60’s week!!! Yes, you’ve gotta love it! 1960’s week at camp! Tie-dyed t-shirt with peace sign (yup! Have that from trip to San Francisco when visiting Uncle Buddy and Aunt Jen!)…jean shorts (no problem!)…cool cable bracelets (have those from hanging out in Vermont!) and a fun shopping trip to get mood ring (a must! Ethan loved this!), peace sign necklace, blue tone sunglasses (Ethan had to have blue!) and matching cool bandanas for Ethan and our pup Kayla. And this time we had face paint pencils!!!

"Peace, dude!"

"Peace, doggy!"

Ethan was very clear on what he wanted painted on his face. “I want a peace sign on my cheek, mommy.”

Thank goodness for face paint pencils:

And “I want some tattoos like Uncle Buddy.” “OK, Ethan. What would you like your tattoo to say?” “Love, peace, and friendship, mommy.” Wow! Great conversation while trying to create a “love, peace, and friendship” tattoo with face paint pencils. (Note my limited tattoo ability!)

Ethan loved his first tattoo:

And then I had to ask. “Ethan, how about a ‘I love my mama’ tattoo?” He loved that idea!

And I sure do love that little boy!

Love the mood ring:

So, hey, don’t forget the face paint pencils! You never know when they may come in handy!

We also bought some white converse sneakers for a fun project for 60s week. Ethan and I colored his sneakers with markers and tied them with colorful laces. Ethan thought this was the coolest project.

Wearing his “art”:

Ethan got in the car after camp one day during 60s week and said “What does peace mean, mommy?” Wow! What a great conversation ensued. Wow! What an amazing camp to bring these concepts to a not yet 4 year old! Wow! Love it.

So, wishing you love, peace, and friendship. Peace out!