Friday, September 30, 2011
Tomorrow is October 1 and it is a gray day with thunder rumbling and some rain in the forecast. That puts me in the mood for Fall in terms of clothes, colors, holidays, recipes, and crafts. I have spent entirely too much time sitting in front of my computer today zipping through blogs, websites, and emails. I came across several things I want to try.............one is a pretty floral arrangement which is a project on http://www.michael's.com/Fall-Floral-in-Pumpkin but I may use real flowers and a real pumpkin .........but then again I may just go to my local Michael's Crafts Store and buy the materials shown in their list (they do make it easy). They have lots of other ideas in their Projects section so you might find something you like better than the one I chose. Then in a blog I happened upon I found really cute haunted houses made out of recycled materials like newspapers and empty milk cartons. The blog is written by a person in Australia where they do not even celebrate Halloween so it is nice that they participate anyway. Check it out at http://littlelovely.typepad.com/littlelovely/2009/10/halloween-treat.html
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Why is it that some of us just have to be dragged kicking and screaming into new experiences, ideas, and challenges? I loved school, I am fortunate to be pretty much a quick study, and yet when something new happens in the world of technology I seem to have a death grip on what I already have and what I already know. Finally, when I absolutely have to I will learn what I must and then wonder why I was so reluctant to even give it a try. When I started my website I knew that learning search engine optimization would be required. Do you think I immediately set out to learn it? That would be a BIG no! When I finally relented and started reading about SEO I did not find it easy, but I know more about it today than I did and continue to learn. Then I started learning more about how business is conducted today and that social media is now the coin of the realm. I avoided Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and writing a blog by telling myself I was too busy, I was too old to learn, I really didn't understand, that those things were for kids, and anything else that would allow me to continue procrastinating. Finally, I acknowledged that in order to reach people looking for a baby shower gift, a newborn gift, a baptism, birthday or holiday gift then I would have to get a grip and give social media a try. I am pleased to report that I now have followers on Twitter, that I have friends and a page on Facebook, I am posting on my blog three times a week, and I am making progress on LinkedIn. Now I could kick myself because I have wasted months avoiding something that is really not rocket science and which is increasing traffic to both www.malcolmfortots.com and www.malcolmfortots.etsy.com. If you are hesitant to try new things, take it from me that you may find as I did that you can do them and even enjoy yourself in the process. Note to self: Don't drag your feet when new opportunities present themselves. Just jump in and try!
Monday, September 26, 2011
Nursery rhymes are an important part of childhood. The same nursery rhymes I learned as a child were later learned by my own children, and then again by my grandson. The cadence of nursery rhymes can be soothing to a baby or toddler. Illustrations that accompany rhymes in books can create indelible impressions on children. Recently I was selecting flannel fabrics for our line's receiving blankets, and smiled to myself as I picked up fabric with a repeat pattern of a cow jumping over the moon. Immediately the nursery rhyme came back to me: Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such a sight, and the dish ran away with the spoon. There are so many things you can do to create happy memories with your children. Teaching them nursery rhymes will help them as they learn to talk, and memorizing rhymes will help them as they grow to pre-school and elementary school ages. Sometimes early artistic attempts will be images they have seen with the rhymes. Your public library is a great place to find nursery rhyme books to borrow. I remember teaching my son nursery rhymes when he was learning to talk. We reached a point where he could finish each line. I was very excited to have him share his new-found ability with his father at dinner that evening so we practiced throughout the day. You can imagine my disappointment when I said, "There was an old ________ (he immediately said, "woman") who lived in a _________" and instead of saying "shoe" he said, "garage" ... a word he had never said before and one which we were unaware he had ever heard since we did not have a garage. As a family we laugh over that anectdote from time to time and all because of a nursery rhyme. Sometimes small things create great memories so nursery rhymes are a good place to start. Enjoy!
Saturday, September 24, 2011
A local newscaster mentioned earlier this week that there were only 95 days left before Christmas. That made me snap to attention. When my mother was alive she would start reminding me at the end of May of the number of days left until the December holidays. Since I spent 20 years in retailing there were many times I was not happy to hear her do her annual count down. I much preferred when I was growing up and September meant Labor Day signaling the end of summer and our return to school (in that order). Halloween was not given a thought until October when creative ideas for costumes started becoming paramount in our minds (of course, then costumes were not big business as they are today). In November we all started looking forward to Thanksgiving which was absolutely a marvelous holiday in so many ways. Growing up in the Midwest we always wished and hoped for the first snowfall to coincide with Thanksgiving (we had a long weekend off from school when sledding, making snowmen, and even ice skating could be enjoyed). Sometimes our wishes came true but usually not so then we began wishing for a White Christmas. We never saw a Christmas ad, a Christmas tree, decoration or Chanukah ad until after Thanksgiving. We always had time to shop and to savor the holidays, the music, the traditions, the food, and the excitement. I have always been annoyed by the huge newspaper ads placed by a major upscale retailer saying that they would not have Christmas decorations in their stores until after Thanksgiving (they neglected to mention that they required employees to work over the Thanksgiving holiday to install the Christmas decorations). With every passing year it seems that retailers in brick and mortar stores and/or on line are desperate to capture holiday sales earlier and earlier. This year I have actually seen Christmas merchandise sharing space with Halloween goods, and it was only the end of August. What do you think? Is it pure and simple greed that makes it necessary to compress all the holidays into one mass sales effort? Is it efficiency that makes it a good idea to capitalize on possible economies of scale by getting all holiday goods out in one fell swoop? Our children are little for such a short time, and it seems to me that to allow each holiday its own special time period might motivate families to shop for each special occasion and to appreciate their local retailers more and more. In the present economy retailers could spread a lot of enjoyment and hope by making each occasion a special one. They might even increase their sales by reminding customers that our country and our world have experienced tough economic times before and came out on the other side to prosper once more. What better public relations tools could there be than enjoyment and hope for the future? With the unemployment rate being so high it may very well be a lean year for retailers, but the good will they can provide in their communities can be an investment in future business when once again we recover and prosper.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I love it when good things happen to good people whether I actually know them or not. Just recently I learned that one of my favorite blogs www.brunchatsaks.blogspot.com has been picked up by BlogHer. I am so happy for Annemarie (whom I do know) who is so creative in both her writing and photography. Then today her blog told me that she had been invited to attend an event at Warner Brothers Studios where she got to meet and chat with young actress Rachel Bilson. In addition, Annemarie got to see wardrobe selections for a new TV show starring Rachel premiering soon. For all you young mothers who may be fans of Rachel or her previous TV and movie roles, check out Annemarie's blog. I think you will end up following it because she does a great job about interior design, fashion, and food. Congratulations, Annemarie, and may many more well-deserved opportunities and successes come your way.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Some people I know would NEVER attend a reunion of their high school or college graduating classes. Other people I know would not miss attending any sort of reunion. Personally, I love reunions. However, I remember when I first realized that not everyone has a happy time in high school, and I felt terrible that I had not realized that when I was in school. Perhaps I could have done something, or made an effort, and encouraged others to make an effort to reach out to those that could barely tolerate being there. How naive and thoughtless of me to assume everyone felt as I did, looking forward to going to school daily, waiting for the weekends for the football games and dances and all the things that contributed to my enjoyment of high school. I graduated in a class of 656 students, and I have to say I absolutely loved high school. I certainly did not know all of my classmates, but in retrospect I regret that I was oblivious to any of them who might have been hurting or suffering for any reason. My recent blog about bullies in schools has made me think more and more about children who are not able to enjoy their school days and years because of mistreatment by others, because of feeling excluded from groups, because of not fitting in, because of not being able to dress as others do, or not coming from a great neighborhood, or coming from a troubled home where any form of abuse is occurring. Out of the 656 students in my class, I wonder now who was perhaps physically abused, sexually abused, or verbally and emotionally abused at home. There were no published statistics about those things when I was in school, and people did not talk about those subjects in front of us. That does not mean they did not happen. I was not aware of any bullies in school, but I seem to have been such a Pollyanna loving my own life that I surrounded myself with friends just like myself. In reflecting on those years there are several students whom I do remember who may have hated school, and I wish I could find them and tell them that I regret I was so oblivious that I did nothing to help them. I actually have looked for them on line but have never found them, and they have never attended any of our class reunions. No one seems to know what happened to them after high school. I comfort myself by hoping that they became extremely happy and successful adults and do not attend reunions because they felt no connection to others, but I also fear that perhaps their lives have not been happy or successful and that maybe my friends and I could have done something to change that for them. Of course, I will probably never know but it makes me want even more to encourage you to teach your children to be kind to every classmate, to include them at lunch or recess, and to stand up for them if others are mistreating them. We pass through life only once. It is not a dress rehearsal, so let's help today's children have the best beginnings possible for themselves and all the others whose lives they will touch.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Last night I watched a documentary on television that boggled my mind when statistics were quoted about the number of children who have taken their own lives as a result of being bullied by other children in school. It is appalling that bullying is so rampant in our schools and our society. Bullies are cowards in my opinion who get away with picking on others because they can, and technology has allowed them to be even more cowardly. Using e-mails, text messaging, cell phones, and even in person children can be amazingly cruel to other children. Take a look at your sweet little infants and toddlers and ask yourself if you would be able to bear it if one day he or she took his/her own life because of being mercilessly tormented by other children. Of course, your answer is "no" so what can you do about it starting now to prevent it from happening? First of all, do not allow your children to misbehave toward other children or animals. Set a good example for them of how to treat others (Golden Rule applies here, folks). Teach them to respect others regardless of their differences. Disagreeing does not mean they have to be disagreeable or mean-spirited. Discipline them appropriately for their ages when they misbehave; make them understand that behaving badly does have consequences. In addition to teaching them how to treat others, also teach them how to deal with bullies. Teach them to not stand by and watch others be bullied but to intervene. Silence is consensus so everyone needs to stand up and speak out to diffuse the power of the bullies. Be part of your local parent/teacher organizations and speak out if bullying is going on in your schools. Help to pass laws in your states that allow school principals to deal with bullying even if it happens off campus so children will realize they cannot hide behind the cloak of anonymity the Internet or hour of day provide. Too many parents have abdicated their responsibility as parents so if there are no consequences at home and none at school, this leaves the victims of the bullies with no place to turn. I have always believed that all children are born sweet and innocent. Unless there is some injury or health condition that causes behavioral issues, I believe there are no bad children but only bad parents. To realize that children would rather commit suicide than face another day of going to school and being bullied and feeling helpless and friendless is horrifying. There are lots of problems in this world that need addressing, and this is one of them. Remember if we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem. Protect your children from others and protect others from your children.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Today I received a delicious recipe for Saturday Potato/Bacon Soup from www.grandparents.com. If you have not checked out their website, do yourself a favor and take a look. Even though the site is intended for those who have grandchildren, as a mother I can tell you the site has lots of good advice, good ideas, ways to entertain children, and now regular recipes sure to encourage children to eat well. Before we know it temperatures will drop, daylight savings time will revert back to standard time in a few weeks, and since cooking at home is less expensive than eating out why not try some new recipes. I cannot wait to make a huge pot of Saturday Potato/Bacon Soup to share with my family and neighbors.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Happiness is wonderful, but joy is a rare and incredible feeling. It is a feeling that races through your body and bubbles like champagne in a crystal flute. I consider myself to be a very happy person, but this weekend I was treated to a dose of pure joy. I was in San Diego to attend the 30th reunion of the management team with whom I opened Neiman Marcus San Diego. They were all very young then, and I was the eldest. Working 24/7; getting to know each other; living on pizza and snack machine food; getting punchy from being tired; having anxiety about whether all would perform to the level needed to ensure a superb store opening; going through all types of team building exercises filled with laughter and learning meant that we bonded in a very special way. It is a way that does not happen when joining an already up-and-running entity. I was a person who always wished to be like television's Mrs. Walton with a huge family (a wish God in His wisdom did not grant). The youngest of my two children went off to college at the time of this store's opening, and the prospect of an empty nest was very unappealing. All of these then young people became like my own children. They worked hard; had fun; made me proud of them; allowed me to love them; spent Christmas Eves in my home if they had no family in the area; and bestowed upon me the great gift of loving me in return. As years passed we went our separate ways, and I watched with pride as they achieved success, married, had children, and moved to various locales. Most of them remained in touch with me which has both pleased and honored me. Our 10th, 20th, and 30th reunions have been so much fun that everyone wants to do it again in five years instead of waiting ten years. Watching these people I love reunite with each other, seeing them pick up where they left off the last time they connected, and knowing that their affection for one and all remains gave me an overwhelming infusion of joy. I am still bubbling!
Monday, September 5, 2011
Today is probably not as enjoyable a holiday as usual because so many of our fellow citizens are unemployed and desperately seeking work in order to support their families. Being unable to feed one's child or children must be excruciatingly painful. For those of us who are more fortunate or for those who have jobs or businesses, let us not forget those who are struggling. Remember.........our turn might come before this economic disaster ends. When shopping perhaps buy an extra one or more boxes or cans of non-perishable food. Through churches, civic organizations, food banks, charities you can easily find a place to drop it off where it is needed. A hungry child or a family in need will be blessed by your small, kind, caring gift. God Bless America, and God Bless You for caring and helping.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
There is an old saying that "two heads are better than one." Do you believe it? I do! If two heads are better than one, then dozens or hundreds or thousands must be EVEN better. Because I believe it I cannot help but wonder why we are all waiting for the government to resolve our problems. Politicians cannot stop campaigning or arguing long enough to focus on solutions and gaining consensus. I firmly believe that in every neighborhood, community, city and town of any size in America we have the capacity, the intelligence, and the ability to resolve many of our problems on local levels. Think about it! When this country was first settled people were strong, brave, resourceful, resilient, and optimistic in spite of all the odds. They were entrepreneurs (or actually the first solopreneurs even though this is a recently coined word). Whether they were farmers, blacksmiths, storekeepers, bankers, ranchers, saloon keepers, sheriffs, deputies, preachers, teachers or doctors they assessed what they and their communities needed, and they made things happen. They helped each other, and they shared with those less fortunate. Did they always agree? No. Were they always successful? No. Did they make mistakes? Yes. Did they make progress anyway? You bet they did. Did they have any of the many assets we have today such as education, communication, technology, health care, medications, transportation, etc.? No! Yet somehow they managed to create a country that was envied by the entire world, a country where people longed to come to fulfill dreams, a country where freedom existed, and a country where slavery and segregation were finally ended. We all have the ability to work together, and yet we act as if we are a flock of sheep waiting for Little Bo Peep to find us and guide us home. I am convinced that if people would come together in a spirit of unity to prioritize what the community's needs are, determine all the available resources, distinguish between what is necessary and what is desirable, and be more concerned with the good of the community than the good of the individual that ideas for solutions would flow faster than anyone could write them down. Because there are problems and there are symptoms of problems it must be agreed that problems are to be solved and symptoms will take care of themselves as a byproduct of problem solving. An unbiased, objective, fair facilitator must lead each group to ensure everyone is heard and no one is shut down even though others may disagree with what is being said. Respect and courtesy are a must. Once everyone has had a chance to contribute to the vast list of "problems" then as a group they must decide if each item is a symptom or an actual problem. Very quickly it will become clear that while there may be a jillion symptoms the actual number of problems is manageable. People get overwhelmed when they think they have to solve all the symptoms, but once problems are identified and prioritized then the formation of solutions can begin, time and action calendars developed,and individual or group responsibilities established for the actions. Call me crazy, but I know that this approach works. For what are we waiting? Let's put our heads together and do it!