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Introducing The All New San Francisco American Girl Store!

standard November 14, 2013 Leave a response

My daughters and I were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the all new “San Francisco” American Girl Store yesterday. I put “San Francisco” in quotes because the store is actually in Palo Alto at the Stanford Mall, about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. The company researched the markets and found that most of their Northern CA customers were located in the Peninsula, not in the city, and if there’s anything the American Girl peeps want to do, it’s please their customers.

San Francisco has a much better ring than Palo Alto…

I’m not complaining. It’s much closer to home for us!

So off we headed after school, friend in tow, dolls clutched tight to excited chests. In the car they chatted about when they’d gotten their dolls, what accessories they had, what clothes. They futzed with their doll’s outfits, making sure they were ready for the visit “home.”

The chatter slowed as we neared the store. It stretched wayyyyy up into the gorgeous blue sky of an unseasonably warm November day. I had no time to get a good shot of the storefront; the girls were just too excited to wait.

That there is a November sky in the Bay Area. Lovely, right?

And then we were in. My girls had been to the American Girl Store in Chicago, but for their friend this was a first. The magic wasn’t lost on anyone. You have to love how you’re just never too old or too cool to be wowed by beautiful dolls in a beautiful setting.

Big tough 3rd Graders. Ha.

The store is significantly smaller than its Illinois counterpart, but it had all of the essential elements.  Doll salon, Bistro, endless displays of gorgeous dolls in adorable dioramas. And, of course, a book store, to hold all of the great AG books!

Doesn’t she look thrilled to be getting her hair done?
Such stylish place settings!

Some toy stores are mere places to buy toys; the American Girl store is a destination. It’s designed to make you want to walk around, browse, ohhh, ahhh, get your doll… well… dolled up, and stop for a bite to eat. But be warned, this store’s Bistro only seats 40, and 10 of those are at the “bar.” Reservations for tea or for parties are booked up through March already and with such few available seats you’re going to have to plan way ahead to take your doll out for tea. The food seems to be upscale “kid” food, with a few tasty “mommy” options, and the prices weren’t shockingly high. (Definitely par for the course for what you’ll find at other Stanford Mall eateries.) It’s a sweet little place, made to look like a doll sized old style diner. They even have doll seats so everyone’s “friend” can join in the fun. Didn’t bring your doll? No worries, they have loaners, even for mommy and grandma.

As for the book store, it’s not a big part of the store, but it’s where we spent most of our time. The stories are well written, and they really give you a great sense of who the dolls are supposed to be.

American Girl also seems to be cornering the market on young girl self help books. We went home with a guide about boys and a guide on challenging friendships… both of which went to school with my daughter today (together with a stack of post-its and a pen for intense note taking). The hair book for dolls and for girls has also been seriously earmarked and I’m sure will be put to work as soon as school lets out.

They thought I hadn’t noticed they were reading a book about boys. Silly girls.

Take your girls, heck, take your sons. Be ready to be begged for a lot of cute stuff, and be ready to want to shell out for it. You might even find yourself pointing out things your kids didn’t notice.

It won’t take long for you to understand why each doll costs $110. It won’t take long for you to come on board with spending that to bring one home. The dolls are high quality, they’ll last forever. And one day, it’ll be your child walking into one of these stores with her daughter, and odds are, she’ll be clutching that very doll to her chest, excited to find her some new outfits and accessories.

That’s the math book my girls will have in 4th grade. This one is doll sized.

Please note: I was in no way compensated by the American Girl company for this post. We were given a few books and a doll t-short to thank us for our visit.

Raising an Introverted Child

standard October 8, 2012 4 responses

Until last year I always assumed that being introverted just boiled down to being shy, while being extraverted just meant being outgoing. 

On the surface it might seem like that, but really it’s so much more complex than that.

Extraverts get their energy from being around other people. We often speak before thinking, or at least while we’re thinking. We work best in teams. It has everything to do with how our brains function and nothing to do with shyness or outgoingness.

Other than keeping me from making offensive generalizations about people, learning about the ins and outs of being an extrovert also opened my eyes to how introverts operate.

Which is a good thing. Because I’m married to one and I parent another.

Unlike extroverts, introverts generally get their energy from being alone. They think before they speak, often only opening their mouths once their thoughts are fully formed and thought out.

If you’re aware of these differences, you’re golden. It means that after a party you won’t pepper your significant other with annoying “why are you so quiet? are you mad? did I do something? why are you mad at me?” questions that will elicit no response and eventually lead to a fight. It also means that you won’t rush in to answer questions for the “quieter” members of your team. You won’t assume that people are less smart because they take longer to answer a question. You will learn to breathe slowly as they work out their answers in their heads.

If you’re aware of these differences and you have introverted children you’re even farther ahead.

When C was a baby she always needed 30 minutes alone in her crib right after we got home from daycare. She’d lie in there, babbling at her mobile, happy as a clam all by herself. If I didn’t give her that alone time she was a wreck all evening.

I personally didn’t get it and it was hard for me to leave her be when I’d missed her so much all day, but forcing her to be with me, chattering at her, being all sorts of chipper and engaging always backfired. A mom has to do what a mom has to do to keep her baby happy.

As she’s grown her introverted tendencies have grown with her. She still needs her quiet time after school. Before parties she needs to be alone for a bit. And god forbid I should schedule more than one social event in a day!

I used to watch for signs that she was starting to become overwhelmed and over-tired so I could remind her to go be alone for a bit. Now she’s old enough to know when to take herself out of the action. It never fails to surprise her cousins when we’re visiting in Chicago and she just puts herself to bed in the middle of the day.

When I took her out of her tiny school (only 7 kids in her class last year and 60 kids in the whole school), I worried that she’d have trouble handling having 23 kids in her class, three classes in her grade, and three different grades on the playground all at the same time.  But it seems like she’s holding her own.

At times she hangs out in the library during lunch recess, and she’s learned to say when she needs time to think about something. And for those moments when she can’t either escape to the library or enjoy a quiet thought she’s found another way to protect her space and her energy.

To the outside world it looks like she’s just wearing a fun fashionable hat., but I know that she loves it because it’s her protective bubble. Behind that brim she feels safe and she can withdraw when she needs a break from the people around her.

She always emerges happy, smiling, and excited to jump back into the action.

I’ve worried that being an introvert would make her life harder. I think I was wrong to worry. She’s only 7 and it has already just made her more in tune with her body and brain’s needs.

Makes a mama proud.

Wordless Wednesday – The Fun Farm

standard June 6, 2012 2 responses

Sunday morning (after I dislocated my rib and somehow worked it back into place…) we packed up the kids and headed to a local “historical” farm. It’s unclear who had more fun, the kids or the grown-ups.

Little L… pretty delighted with the sheep.
M… equally delighted.

We put C to work milling corn.
Little L was the self appointed “work checker.”
Can’t believe this mama didn’t use a nursing cover!
This goat wanted some food!
Lucky for her, M was more than happy to oblige!

Happy as pigs in… mud! (They use it as sunscreen!)
Look! A chicken!
And a peacock in a tree…. say wah?

The entire day was magical, sore back and all. Sometimes in the midst of all the end-of-year angst, all you need is a little moment with a couple animals who only care about where their next meal is coming to feel like all is right with the world again.

Check out other Wordless Wednesday posts below!

Tiny Killers In Your Home

standard December 15, 2011 3 responses

Two years ago a good friend who is always, always, always online wasn’t on Skype when I got up and got ready to work. I searched my addled brain to try to remember if she’d mentioned any special outing that might have take her away from her usual post, but, other than vaguely remembering that her son had been complaining of a tummy ache, I came up blank. So I headed over to Twitter  and Facebook to find some clues.

I didn’t get a clue, I got a chilling answer.

My friend’s son had swallowed a button battery and was being rushed to the children’s hospital an hour away. The battery was lodged in his throat and was busy burning a hole in his esophagus.

I don’t pretend the remember the details of that day, though I’m sure his mom relives it in many of her nightmares (and you can read it here),  I do remember the horror I felt as I tried to imagine just how many things in our home contain button batteries.

Think about it. They’re in everything. Every little toy. Every watch. Every musical card. They’re in things you don’t even think might contain batteries. And, unlike products designed for specifically for kids, with battery covers that screw shut, most items have easy to open compartments.

Did you know that it only takes about two hours for a button battery to cause serious burns in a child’s esophagus? Another hour of waiting at home to see if his tummy ache would go away and my friend’s son might have been in the hospital for months recovering from serious reconstructive surgery.
Did you know that in 2010, there were more than 3,400 reported cases of children ingesting button batteries? The number of cases of children swallowing batteries has more than quadrupled in the past five years, but since the symptoms of coin-sized button battery ingestion may be similar to other childhood illnesses, such as coughing, drooling and discomfort the situation often goes goes unreported. 

My friend’s son was incredibly lucky, first that his mom trusted her mother’s intuition and rushed him to the ER and second that he got there in time for the battery to be removed safely. Not all kids are this lucky. 

This holiday season, when button batteries proliferate and parental vigilance dips, Safe Kids Worldwide and Energizer have announced a critical partnership to share life-saving information with parents and caregivers about the potential risks of swallowing coin-sized button batteries. The formation of “The Battery Controlled” by Safe Kids and Energizer shines a light on this growing issue and provides easy steps parents and caregivers can take to prevent injuries and deaths to children. 
  • Be proactive. Keep button batteries and devices that use them out of reach if the battery compartments aren’t secure.
  • Act quickly. If a child swallows a battery, go to the emergency room right away.
  • Spread the word. Tell others about this hidden danger and share these steps.

For more information on this important issue and for tips on how to protect your family, visit www.thebatterycontrolled.com or join the conversation on Facebook www.facebook.com/thebatterycontrolled or Twitter: www.twitter.com/batterycontrol Hashtag: #BatteryControlled

Still not convinced that there are button batteries lurking in your home? Maybe this video will change that.

Please note, I was compensated to share this information with you, but my concern for your little ones is very real. Keep the kids safe this holiday season.