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Baby Gifts Ideas! Spring 2015

Spring 2015 Baby Gifts

You asked for it, so here it is! A small guide to baby gift giving for this season! Personalized baby gift items are always my favorite! Whether it is a boy or a girl you could get creative by choosing the colors and the font on the personalized high quality leather shoes found at trezunique.com. There are so many other cute ideas, especially for girls, such as personalized hair bows, dresses, Pettiskirts and of course some bling! High quality enamel jewelry is a gift she will treasure for years.

Kate

Congrats Kate and William on the birth of Charlotte Elizabeth Diana! We can’t wait to see which of these styles you will choose!

 

 


kids
trezunique.com

Spring Styles for Girls!

Spring Looks for Girls

 

T By Alexander Wang slouch shirt, $70 / Short black skirt / Simply Vera brown capri legging / Dooney Bourke backpacks bag / Flower Girl Ballet Flat – Turquoise Satin Baby Ballet Slippers -… / Yosi Samra Kids Sammie Super Soft Ballet Flat (Toddler/Little Kid/Big… / Countryside Vintage Sweet Fresh Flower Floral Leisure Teenage Girls…, $2.80 / Claire’s Girls and Womens Bubblegum Flavoured Pucker Pops Lipgloss in…, $2.95 / Glitter Mobile Phone Cosmetics Set, Lips, Lipgloss, Glitter,…, $7.38 / Adela Ballet Flat By Hanna / Tulle Skirt in Mint Green $48.00 / Pettiskirt in Light Blue and Brown By Belle Ame $69.00 / Pettiskirt in Lipstick Pink and Turquoise- by Belle Ame $69.00 / Lacettes by Huggalugs $18.00 / Personalized Bow with Name $12.00 / Kipling New Baby Bag L Luiertas Pop Floral Pr – Bagageonline / Leather and Charms Friendship Bracelet $10.00 / Bling Flowers Statement Necklace $22.00 / Personalized Bow with Name $12.00 / Kid’s Paper Straw Black Band Fedora Tan

Sports Games and Competitions: Why Americans Have It Right

HOCKEYpaint

 

As I am accompanying my third grader to his hockey championship yesterday, I had an epiphany -again- at how different the culture I grew up in (French) and the one I live in (US) are, and I have come to understand a thing or two.

For weeks I take him to his games on Sundays. The first time I heard a dad yell “Go get it Joey”, I thought “What an overenthusiastic Dad”, but then Josh’s and Jonah’s and Jakey’s parents all got into it too. That’s when I realized I should probably get into it. The problem is, I wasn’t really sure I knew what was going on. I figured out the rules pretty quickly, after all I grew up in soccer country where we also have goalies and a ball instead of a puck. It pretty much boils down to the same set of rules.

For me these games became a time to think and compare (cultures, that is) and laugh internally. My initial reaction at these games was “Are these parents crazy?” Growing up in Paris, we never had competitive sports like that. Even if you take your kid to play a game, you don’t worry if she wins or loses; the point is to have fun. No one I knew growing up chose a high school or college based on what kind of team the school has. Yes we are soccer country, but unfortunately, unless you are a pro, being into sports means you  mostly play casually with other kids after school or on Sundays in one of the local parks, without coaches, water bottles with logos, or personalized jerseys. But mostly it means we watch it on TV.

But that gets me thinking. Perhaps this craziness about winning in sports at a young age is why America has the number one economy in the Western world? Kids are taught not just to play; they are taught the value of teamwork and of respect on the playing field. The desires to be part of the team and to win are ingrained at a young age. Children are taught the value of ambition and success. They are exposed to the benefits of teamwork. You don’t just play to have fun. That’s just selling yourself short. You play to create something, to create value. In business terms, the teams that are created at these games are a complete synergy. No kid on his own, including the best player, is a hockey player without the team. But together they have created something, a game, a bond that will exist for a while, and even (let’s not knock it) some great fun.

And when my son’s team won the Championship yesterday and was handed that trophy that he was so proud of, even cynical-me had to hold back the tears.

Spring Things We Love…Teen Style

Spring15StyleBlogCopy

You asked for it so here it is!

Spring has arrived and with it comes the updating of closets. Who doesn’t love new clothing and accessories?

In honor of spring we have rounded up a few items that could be worn together or separately, and most importantly could be worn over and over without breaking the bank.

So here it goes. There is nothing more springy then the nautical feel of stripes. As soon as spring arrives we love to wear those; they are a good way to make us forget the long cold winter and look forward to the summer. This top has 3/4 sleeves – it is still spring after all – and could be snatched this season at LL Bean.  Pair it up with this awesome black tulle skirt from TreZ’Unique for a polished look. The great thing about this skirt is that it could be dressed down or up and it is a classic. We have a soft spot for anything tulle. And apparently so does Carrie Bradshaw AKA Sarah Jessica Parker.

The stylish teens we know never leave home without something around the neck. We opted for this lovely spring scarf from Modcloth. The snazzy mix of colors make this easily matched with almost any top. They’ll need a good pair of sunglasses to get them through the (hopefully) sunny spring. Aviators are the way to go. We recommend getting a pair from Target; they’re just as cool as the designer ones minus the price tag. And you won’t mind when they get forgotten at one of the BFF’s.

Three quarter sleeves mean bracelets are a must. We love stacked bangles like these high quality gold-plated bangles from TreZ’Unique. Some may prefer to wear one alone and that’s pretty too. Ballet flats are such a graceful way to finish the outfit. They are perfect for spring, when all you want to do is lock up those boots but it is not quite warm enough to wear anything open-toe. We love those Chanel-like flats from Yosi Samra.

Voila! Hope you’ve enjoyed our reviews and don’t forget to share your pics of stylish teens! We are always looking for inspiration!

Stay tuned for our spring girls favorites and baby picks!

AllTulle1

The Benefits of Screen Time for Children

techkidZ white bckgrd

Everyone agrees that too much screen time is not healthy for children. Yet so many of us let our kids be in front of a screen for hours. Many won’t even admit to it; thinking that denying kids screen time would make them a better parent. I don’t deny and don’t make excuses. My children receive a fair amount of screen time and I’m ok with it. Would I prefer if they entertained themselves by reading books only? Probably. But since that’s not the case, and I suspect it isn’t for most children, I contend with the screen time they receive.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think letting kids watch TV passively for hours on end is a good thing. But there is screen time and screen time. Watching TV passively is not the same as playing a video game or communicating with friends on Facetime or Skype. Some kids also do their homework on a screen. Many would put all that in the same “screen time” category. But there are differences. And as long as they are all done in moderation, I think it is OK to let children, even at a very young age, have some screen time.
My kids are given an Ipad at school. From their tween years they get used to doing so much on a their Ipad. Homework at home, school work during class, communicating with teachers and each other.
I hear parents talk about the time limit they put on their children’s screen time. That’s important and surely makes people fee like responsible parents. But how about making the issue quality and not just quantity? Knowing what they are watching on TV, doing on their tablets, which video games they are playing is more important then limiting screen time, which is not all that useful when more and more homework, papers, book reports need to be submitted digitally.
Video games not only help children’s hand/eye coordination, but they teach them to search, negotiate, strategize and problem solve.
Using a tablet for school work has been shown to be so beneficial to many children. It encourages the quieter children to “raise their hand” digitally when the in class answer is expected digitally. It helps the rather disorganized child be more structured by placing items in different folders.
As long as we choose our children’s digital intake wisely, I believe that with the changing times, it is more beneficial to let them have the screen time then to deny it.

Remembering 9/11

We may not remember what we had for breakfast yesterday, but we all remember where we were when planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001.

Writing about it gives me the chills because what happened was unthinkable and unbelievable. And yet it was real.

It was 8:46AM  on a beautiful Tuesday morning, and I was preparing to go downtown to Business School for what was the 3rd week of my MBA. The babysitter had arrived to stay with my 6 month-old. Everything seemed perfect in New York City. Until a few terrorists shattered the peace and forever changed the landscape and psyche of New Yorkers and the American People.

So many innocent lives were lost, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons. So many of our beloved firefighters -heroes- perished in the tragedy.

For weeks after the attack, the walls of downtown, where I was commuting to every day for school, were plastered with images of faces; people who had disappeared and who would never return. We all looked at the faces with so much hope and disillusion at the same time, until these posters were eventually taken down.

For days we saw the same images on TV: One plane crashing into the north tower and a few minutes later a second plane crashing into the south tower. People jumping to their death. We heard goodbye messages to loved ones from the doomed United Airlines plane that crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.

Suddenly our world was a changed one.

We will never forget 9/11 and its fallen heroes. Our heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones on that day. In their honor, let’s hug our loved ones a bit tighter on this anniversary.

Pardon My French!

language

My Father and I have this game we play where we find words that are spelled the same in both English and French but have different meanings. In French those are called faux-amis. For example, a robe in French is a dress, not a peignoir. College is high-school and patron is the boss. There are more such as extra, merci,  venue, football, lecture, main, routine, agenda, and of course education which I mentioned in my previous post.

I love language (also a faux-ami). Not just the ability to speak it well, but the origin of words, the different ways people from different cultures use the same words or expressions. The French have taken many words from the English language. A few that come to mind are week-end and hot-dog. Not sure why week-end. But hot-dog is pretty clear. Sans wanting to be too cliché, Americans have the savoir-faire when it comes to making fast-food.  Which brings me to my second point. English has many French words in its vocabulary. Some are so common we don’t even realize we’re speaking French, but we are, it’s just a fait accompli.

Consider this faux scenario: I RSVP to an invitation I received from my friend Keira Williams nee Middleton to join her near London. After an 8 hour voyage, I tell the chauffeur to drive me to the best café in town, should I say the crème de la crème, where I will order from the prix fixe menu. After all I will be going to the ballet later on and watching these ballerinas with their perfect chignons. Since I don’t have carte blanche to be gauche I will not forget to bring a bouquet upon arriving chez my hosts who happen to live in a cul-de-sac. That would be worse then a gaffe, it would be a real faux-pas. And I don’t want to come across as nouveau-riche with my couture outfit and blasé demeanor. Au contraire, I am not an amateur traveler.

You claim to understand French even if you took only 2 years of it in school?

Well… touché!

Raising Kids à la Française

I remember visiting the States from Paris as an older teenager. I was having dinner with a very welcoming family and the conversation was going well, until their 8 or 9 year old opened his mouth to say something and his parents suddenly stopped the conversation with me, turned to their child and listened to what this kid had to say as if the President had entered the room.  How odd, I thought…Where I come from, kids are pretty much ignored when adult guests are around. Kids eat with their parents alright, but they generally know better then to interrupt an adult conversation.

Kids in France know from an early age that there is family time, during which their comments and thoughts are welcome, and then there is adult time. You better not disturb during adult time, unless you have a homework emergency or similar crisis.

I am certainly not saying that one way is better then the other. Stopping your adult conversation because your child wants ice cream immediately could work wonders on her self-esteem. It is great that she now knows that her feelings and needs are important. Personally, however, I hope to show my kids how important they are without constantly interrupting what I am doing to cater to them. I do want them to know that frankly, my conversation is no less important then their immediate need for ice cream.  That may sound harsh from the American parenting point of view but I do believe that in the long run, stopping  your conversation or your activity because a young child demands it, is doing said child a great disservice.

Another subtle difference is play space. Kids in France know that they are not welcome everywhere and anywhere in the house. They could play in their room, or in an assigned area such as the family room or the breakfast room. Most know, however, that there are places, such as the salon*, where they cannot bring their toys. I entertain often and my kids know to tell the other kids that some spaces are off-limits to toys and crumby food. All the parents have been respectful but some express surprise either at the rule itself or at the fact that we are able to enforce it.

An interesting distinction between American and French parenting probably lies in the word Education. In English, this word often refers to what the child learns outside of the home (in school, college etc.), whereas in French, this word actually means “upbringing,” or what the child received inside the home. A “well-educated” child in French standards means well-brought up, or polite.

The most important difference between both types of “education” is that somehow French kids don’t need every whim catered to in order to recognize that they are their parents’ no. 1 priority.

* salon is the living room

The Breastfeeding Wars

For some reason, it seems as there are two distinct categories of mothers: Breastfeeding Moms and Formula Feeding Moms. Since becoming a mom myself 13 years ago, I have encountered so many different reactions to any approach you take. If you are a breastfeeding mom who pumps and puts the breast milk in a bottle, you get comments, especially if you’re not doing this to go to work. Why would you forego the special bonding time that only breastfeeding provides?  If you’re a breastfeeding mom who chooses to alternate between formula and breast milk, you get comments for not giving breastfeeding more of a chance and introducing “garbage”. You must not value your baby’s well-being as much as you value your free time. You laugh, but I’m serious. I have literally heard a mom or two liken formula to garbage. No matter that it is packed with nutrients and is been known to hold a baby’s appetite for longer hours at a time.

Alternatively, many formula moms judge the breastfeeding moms as nature-loving “close to the earth” types. They often brand them as less sophisticated moms willing to let the world stop around them while they breastfeed for an hour at a time.

Wonder where I stand? I have alternated between bottle (formula) and breast for my first 3 babies, starting with mostly bottle with my first and increasing breast with my second and third. I used to carry my breast pump to Business School when my second child was 4 months old. But in 2003, Business Schools didn’t have a breastfeeding lounge, so I tried pumping from the bathroom stall and very soon gave up. My fourth was a breastfed baby all the way, until 15 months no less! But all that doesn’t tell you where I stand. I stand in the camp of respect.

Respect others’ choices and curb your preaching, because we don’t know people’s reasons for doing what they do. So please don’t judge a woman until you have walked a mile in her shoes, and focus on what’s really important: Bringing up well loved and well adjusted children! A Bottle or Formula Mom may need to bottle-feed because of work, because of health issues or past surgeries, because this is what her family life permits or simply because she does value her free time as it ultimately enables her to be a better mom. As for breastfeeding moms, there is nothing less unsophisticated then providing your baby with the antibodies that only breast milk could provide, while at the same time bonding with your child for hours. Personally, I am as close to a city girl as they come and yet I cherish my recent breastfeeding hours with the fondest memory.

Book Review: Wonder by RJ. Palacio

Last year when my daughter was in the fifth grade, one of her assigned reads was Wonder, by RJ Palacio. She read the book, very much enjoyed it and gave it to me to read, saying “you will love this, Maman”. It took a bit more prompting as I have plenty of my own books and never enough time to read. But once I did pick it up, I couldn’t stop reading.

The book is about a boy, Auggie, who was born with a severe facial deformity who, after being home-schooled his whole life, is about to enter the 5th grade at the local school. There are a wide range of reactions to the new kid with the deformed face. The book takes us through Auggie’s feelings, fears, courage, humor, and those of his sister, parents and ultimately friends.

I enjoyed the book and loved how each chapter is written from someone else’s point of view. I am  glad that my kids’ school assigns this book as it teaches children about acceptance, sensitivity and the effects of bullying. The book is recommended for ages 9 to 12 but I would recommend it to all parents out there. If you’ve ever taught your kids to not “judge a book by its cover”, pick up this book and read it with your kids. It is down-to-earth, heartfelt, witty, and funny.