Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
When I was a teenager and also when my children were small, I did some teaching in the nursery class during Sunday services at church. It is not too early to introduce toddlers to the fun of coloring, pasting, drawing, finger-painting, or using stickers to decorate their masterpieces. Scissors are too much for them to master so any cutting should be done beforehand (or by you during the crafting). They can use simple items like pipe cleaners in lots of colors that bend and twist so easily into decorative chains. Popsicle sticks in lots of colors can be used for building or making simple picture frames. Egg cartons and round oatmeal boxes can find new life in their hands. Not only will your toddler enjoy spending time with you and be proud of his/her creations, but it helps his/her dexterity, hand/eye coordination, and encourages him/her to be creative. Let them be free to make what they want as they want it. Although you can demonstrate to them how to use the materials, don't expect them to do it perfectly or to do it "your way" (just keep them safe from eating the paste or getting paint or crayon marks on the wrong places). Buying a couple of yards of oilcloth at your local fabric store will provide years of use as protection for your table, floor or whatever surface you opt to use for crafting. The Dollar Store is a great place to find inexpensive craft supplies. All kinds of simple craft ideas and instructions can be found on the Internet. You can also find coloring pages to download from various websites. If you save paper that has been printed on only one side you can be eco-friendly by printing the coloring pages on the remaining clean side. In this world that sometimes seems to be filled with bad news, I promise you that spending time with toddlers is refreshing and delightful. They are pure, they are innocent, they are funny, and they are smarter than you might think. Remember, they are just "short" people! Have a great time, and I would very much appreciate receiving comments about your experiences.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Little children are usually delighted about anything fun or different when it comes to eating lunch. My own children loved to eat lunch on our patio regardless of summer heat or chilly days. Whether they were eating indoors or outside they loved it when I made sandwiches using their favorite cookie cutters. Such a simple thing to do and yet they reminisce about those lunches years later. Once your oldest child starts school and is no longer home for lunch, a younger sibling will be thrilled to have lunch served in his/her very own lunchbox. No matter if the lunchbox is new, used, homemade, or passed down from older siblings there is something about having a lunchbox that makes little ones feel special and more like a "big kid" and less like a baby. There are so many ways younger children try to emulate older siblings, and having a lunchbox is a good place to start. Sweet and simple memories are part of a happy childhood so enjoy creating them with your little one(s).
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Sometimes I wonder if today's employers bother to train their employees to serve customers? I had the opportunity to spend 20 years working for Neiman Marcus during years when the customer was always right, the customer was always most important, and customer satisfaction and customer service were the hallmarks of the company. Employees were empowered to satisfy the customers. It was a marvelous experience and one that in truth spoiled me for dealing with other retailers and businesses. Today I went to a major office supply store. A young woman checked me out but gave me no greeting, no smile, and no thank you. Instead I greeted her, thanked her for handing me my purchases and told her to have a nice day. Then I walked next door to one of the supermarkets, filled up my cart, and headed to the checkout line. Again, I received no greeting, no smile, and no thank you. Once more I was the one who greeted her, thanked her for putting the bagged groceries in the cart, and told her to have a nice day. I will think twice about going back to either of those stores. In today's economy businesses are not in a position to turn away customers, and more than fifteen million people are out of work so every employee is replaceable. Wouldn't you think that common sense would suggest that customers need to be given a reason to return to a place of business? I have many choices for office supplies, groceries, pharmacies, etc. I want to shop where I feel my business is appreciated and where common courtesy is the coin of the realm. I would not blog about today's experience if it had just happened for the first time, but it has happened a number of times in both of these establishments. Like most customers I did not complain to management or to the checkers, but I made that silent decision to shop elsewhere (which is what 80% of customers do when they are unhappy with the service they receive or their shopping experience). For those of us who have online shops and stores, our potential and/or actual customers cannot see our smiles or hear our voices. It behooves us to do everything we can to enhance their transactions from making our websites truly user-friendly,selling quality products, packaging them nicely, shipping them promptly, having a clear return/exchange policy, and always remembering to follow up and thank the customers for shopping with us. They have literally thousands of other choices today via the Internet so we should be most appreciative that they opted to shop with us. and the employees who are fortunate enough to have jobs should be willing to work at keeping the customers returning or I feel certain some of the 15,000,000+ unemployed would be thrilled to replace them.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Are you are having your own baby christened? Are you looking for a gift for someone else's baby who is being christened? Do you want to give a gift at a baby shower or to a newborn that will be very special? Here is a suggestion for a gift that can become a family heirloom and be passed down for generations to come. Handknit of acrylic yarn, this 33" x 36" white basket-weave patterned blanket will keep baby warm, cozy and complement a christening dress or suit (or any outfit) for either a girl or a boy. It may just become the baby's favorite "blankie" which will be okay as the blanket is machine washable and dryable. The price is $75 + S&H. We have made only one of these blankets. To order it go to www.malcolmfortots.com or www.malcolmfortots.etsy.com
Posted by Marian at 12:58:00 PM
Friday, June 17, 2011
In the l950's one of the first science fiction movies in theaters was titled Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Kevin McCarthy. The story as I recall was that people in a community started acting very differently than their usual selves, and it turned out their bodies were being taken over by alien pod people. Well, I feel as if that movie has become reality in our country because too many people seem to no longer display a sense of decency, dignity, honor, respect, tolerance, or integrity. I am sick to death of hearing the "F" word everywhere. Have vocabularies diminished to the point where only profanity is remembered? Has illiteracy become the goal of the day? Today I heard of a math professor urinating on the door of a colleague with whom he had a disagreement. What is that about? This morning I saw a video clip of women and men hitting each other over a seat at a murder trial. Who are these people? Last night on the news I learned millions of gallons of precious water had to be drained from a reservoir because someone urinated in the reservoir. Bodies found stuffed in suitcases, babies dying from physical and sexual abuse at the hands of people who should be protecting them, children being bullied in person or cyberbullied, adults in positions of authority and trust having sexual relationships with the young students they teach, and the stories go on and on and on. I know the media does not report the good news about the many people who do not do these things, but what is it in our society that makes us think those barbaric incidents are more newsworthy? Why are people more interested in a politician's lewd photographs of himself than in resolving the humongous problems our country is facing? What kind of chance will our children and grandchildren have to grow up and be happy, healthy, well-mannered, respectable, successful, honest, honorable men and women when the behavior bar has been lowered to the level of the gutter? Some days it is like living in a pigsty instead of in the "shining city on a hill." All of the people doing these disgusting things were raised by someone: parent(s), relative(s), foster care, orphanage, etc. These behaviors as adults occur because as children they are given no boundaries, are not held accountable for their actions, are not taught to respect adults or authority or differences, are not expected or encouraged to do and be their best, are not taught good manners at home or at school, and parents and other adults set no examples for them. Now we are faced with many major problems at all levels of government, and money for education seems to be less important than money to study how to tell the sex of a box turtle by the color of its eyes (or other interesting but non-essential studies). Anyone who is reading this and disagrees with me please feel free to tell me so and tell me why. Anyone who has ideas of how we can restore decency, dignity, honor, respect, integrity, tolerance and good manners to our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, towns, states and our nation please don't be silent..........speak up! It is time for the body snatchers to be foiled!
Posted by Marian at 3:41:00 PM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Having been in the business world for many years and having worked for large companies (Pillsbury, Reynolds Metals, Neiman Marcus) as well as for smaller organizations, customer service has always been of the utmost importance to me.....both giving great service and receiving great service. Lately, I am becoming more and more annoyed with the lack of customer service that seems to permeate our society. Poorly trained employees, rude employees, disinterested and unappreciative business owners, and just a lack of common courtesy are complaint topics that I hear about and read about all too often in today's world. Companies seem to be aggressively seeking new customers but are failing to take care of their existing customers. Think of any product or service and I probably have either complained myself or heard a complaint about it from friends, family, neighbors, business associates, etc. So for those of us who are building businesses it seems to me the way to have an edge over competitors is to provide the absolute best customer service anyone could hope or expect to receive. To succeed our products, services, accommodations, etc. have to be great, but even if they are great we will lose customers if our service is poor. What are you doing to ensure your business is not being negatively affected by poor service? A point to remember is that many people won't actually complain. Instead they will just make a silent decision to never again shop with you, stay with you, or use your services. Time to get back to basics in these difficult economic times, and customer service is one of the most basic business principles which will grow your business. Think about it!
Posted by Marian at 2:20:00 PM
Monday, June 13, 2011
Today I attended a one-hour webinar conducted by #LauraRoeder. She interviewed #CameronHerold about his book #Double Double which is a guide advising how to double your revenue and profit. Whether you are a solopreneur or part of a large corporation, Mr. Herold says the book is applicable to all sizes of businesses. He has had a very successful career, and much of the content of the book and also his DVD's are part of the course he teaches at MIT. He is a goal setter, a positive thinker, a common-sense businessman, and someone who has mastered work-life balance by working smarter not harder. I am going to buy his book and delve deeper into his wisdom. Kudos to Laura Roeder whom I think is a bright, talented young woman running a successful business with spirit, business acumen, and results. I'll let you know when I have doubled my revenue! In the meantime, check out http://www.BackPocketCOO.com which is Cameron Herold's website and http://www.lauraroeder.com which is Laura's website.
Posted by Marian at 5:53:00 PM
Thursday, June 9, 2011
There are SO many young entrepreneurs on ETSY, Twitter, Facebook, U-Tube and also writing blogs, and I am really impressed by some of them. Two in particular that I enjoy because of their exuberance, their spirit, their creative talent, and their optimism are Mayi Carles and April Bowles. They are currently collaborating on a project "creatively planning your business." Their laughter is infectious, their "can-do" attitude is refreshing, and their blogs are interesting and a truly pleasant change from today's world, national and local news reports. Check out Mayi's blog www.heartmade.blogspot.com and April's website www.blacksburgbelle.com and I will be very surprised if you don't find something of interest from one or both of them.
Posted by Marian at 1:18:00 PM
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I think babies and toddlers are always adorable so when I see pictures of them in various outfits from numerous manufacturers I am even more smitten with them. There are so many options for dressing your children. If you like preppy, traditional, classic clothes then you have choices. If you like edgy, funky, contemporary designs there are also lots of options for those. If you like sweet, pastel, vintage designs there are so many from which to choose. If you want organic, all natural fibers, and simple styles you will find them. If you shop for price more than style you can shop from big box stores to on-line stores to your local dollar stores. If you like to make your own clothes you have a vast array of fabrics, yarns, patterns, etc. for your selections. It is terrific to have so many choices at so many price points. Among your many choices please do check out www.malcolmfortots.com and www.malcolmfortots.etsy.com. We cannot be all things to all people, but if you are reading this blog post please leave comments about your preferences for your baby. As we add styles to the website and ETSY shop we want to add looks and fabrics and colors that will appeal to you. Thanks for taking time to let us know your thoughts.
Posted by Marian at 3:38:00 PM
Friday, June 3, 2011
My day started with the news that James Arness died which caused a flood of memories as I recalled his weekly presence in our home. My parents' first black and white television set had a tiny screen in a huge cabinet, and it was perched on a table top which swiveled so wherever my dad was sitting he could see the screen. My father loved watching TV westerns even more than he enjoyed watching wrestling (Gorgeous George with gold bobbypins and all). From the time Gunsmoke premiered until my father's death I doubt he ever missed an episode. Watching all of the action on that little-bitty screen, I wonder if Dad ever knew just what a physically large man James Arness was. To my knowledge there was never any scandal involving Mr. Arness, and for 20 years he came into our living room along with Miss Kitty, Chester, Festus, and many actors who already were big stars or who eventually became big stars. I remember when Dad learned that Peter Graves was the real-life brother of James Arness (it pleased him because he also enjoyed watching Mission Impossible). I don't recall that there was ever any scandal involving Peter Graves either, and he too had a long, successful career. How nice that the personal lives of two such fine actors were never fodder for the tabloids leaving their fans' admiration and respect intact. James Arness gifted my dad with years of entertainment, and I hope that somehow my dad will catch a glimpse of his favorite Sheriff in Heaven.
Posted by Marian at 6:47:00 PM
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Twitter, Facebook, Websites and Blogging are still relatively new experiences for me so I am not yet proficient in how they operate. Today I was reading tweets from those whom I follow. I also went to my Home page, and I clicked on "Mentions" to see if anyone had mentioned my business Malcolm For Tots. The most recent mention was from a young woman whom I had never heard of, but her tweet just had my Twitter account name and then a link. I clicked on her tweet to see what she had said about my baby clothing business, but I was stunned when what appeared on my monitor was a pornographic picture with a headline advertising full-length pornographic films. I looked at her profile page and she neither follows anyone nor has any followers, but has lots and lots of tweets mentioning individual Twitter names and the same link which would take all of those unsuspecting people to the same vulgar photograph. I tweeted her and asked why she would send a link to a pornographic site to a baby clothing entrepreneur and told her to not do it again. An hour or so later I was back on my Twitter account, and her mention of my account was no longer there on my Home page. I was appalled to find that on my Twitter home page, and I was glad no one else was sitting with me at my computer (like a child). I do not want to control the entire world, but I do want to control what comes into my home, my business, and my life. No matter what marvelous invention comes along, someone will find a way to taint it by using it in illegal, immoral, or dishonest ways. What a shame!
Posted by Marian at 9:05:00 PM