Admittedly the past few weeks have been a bit of a rough patch for lolladad and me for various reasons. Today, we managed to record a podcast in the morning, make important decisions for our business, and shortly after get into a fight that ended in one of us storming off upset. The root cause of that fight...family and not seeing eye-to-eye.
I don't know about all of you, but my husband and I are incredibly close to our families, but we may need a break of some sort - for the sake of us. Don't get me wrong, I love our families deeply and I feel incredibly grateful for them, but these days, I feel like our families and the different value systems are actually causing problems in my marriage that otherwise would not have even been an issue. I guess the optimistic side of me could spin all the BS as challenging us to have difficult conversations and getting at the core of who we are, but the pessimistic, selfish side of me thinks if we were simply more distant, we wouldn't be dealing with any of this.
We come from seemingly similar yet fundamentally different families. For ten years, we've been able to skate by and cordially manage all the intensely complicated relationships and ways in which our families influence our everyday, but I am starting to wonder how much our families are affecting our happiness. Help~ how do I carefully extract all the amazing characteristics from each of our families and family members and pass that onto our daughters without imploding first?
I recently attended a parent education class called, "Ages and Stages," and wanted to share something I learned.
Sharon Lee, the Student Support Coordinator at my daughters' school, shared a piece of parenting advice that can best be described as parenting semantics. This really resonated with me, because estrogen runs rampant in my household, and sometimes my agenda and that of my three daughters don't always align.
Imagine this: I've rushed home from work and somehow managed to get dinner on the table, and I call out, "Girls - dinner's ready!" They immediately yell out to me, "Not now! I'm finishing my drawing!" I already feel tired, but now I'm irritated and feeling rather unappreciated and want to scream out, "Get your asses down here for dinner." Have I ever done this? No, but I have shouted back, "Dinner, NOW!" Now imagine the alternate response to the exact same scenario: I calmly walk over to my girls as they're finishing said drawing and turn this into a teachable moment. Girls, could you try this instead, "Mom, MAY I finish my drawing first? I'm almost done." Now to that I would've said, "Of course girls, but keep in mind that dinner's getting cold."
Teaching my girls to speak politely and simply ask permission will pay off during the teen years, for sure. Fast-forward to when my daughter has turned 16 and is taking the car out with her friends. I say to her, "Have fun, but be home by 10." If I continue along the path of the first scenario, my daughter is likely to say, "But I have to drop Audrey and Joshua off first." Instead, I can make the effort now, teach my girls proper semantics, and hope she'll respond with, "Would it be okay if I'm a few minutes late? I have to drop Audrey and Joshua off after the party."
Parenting is all about the little things isn't it?
* Thank you Caroline, for the beautiful photo of me and the girls!
This year, Lollaland has partnered with Raising a Reader to promote the development, practice, and maintenance of home literacy routines. At Lollaland, we are all about routines as well, and we do our best to encourage routines around family mealtime. Lollaland is excited to be donating 15% of our profits from any of our mealtime pieces to Raising a Reader, so please consider bringing our microwaveable, US-made plates, bowls, and dipping cups into your home and supporting children's literacy!
As millions of children across the U.S. end their summer vacations and head back to school, parents are getting ready to ease their kids back into the school-year routine of homework, extracurricular activities and going to bed at a reasonable hour. Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, suggests as part of that routine, parents work in regular time to share books with their children above-and-beyond their required schoolwork.
Research shows that the time caring adults spend sharing books with children has a direct relationship on their academic success. Whether building background knowledge and vocabulary, comprehension skills, social and communication skills or reinforcing the idea that reading is not just something associated with school, home book-sharing routines are essential to childrens’ success.
“During the school year, many families become so consumed with schoolwork that the habit of sharing books for pleasure seems like an unnecessary distraction,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Parents need to remember it is more important than ever to find a few minutes each day to keep the reading habit alive. Aside from the innumerable cognitive, academic and social benefits, children begin to understand that reading for pleasure actually helps improve their success in school and in life.
Here are some tips for parents to make reading a larger part of the school year:
Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. More information is available at RaisingAReader.org, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).
DON’T LET READING GET LOST DURING SUMMER FUN! EXPERTS STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR READING TIME DURING THE SUMMER
Tips for parents to get kids into regular summer reading routine
Summer is a time for beaches, swimming, camp, vacations and all kinds of outdoor activities. Unfortunately, many children will stop reading while having all this fun in the sun and experts say parents need to make sharing books a part of summer vacation and establish regular reading routines for their children. Lollaland is working with Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, to support children’s literacy and raise awareness of the importance of reading. “Summer reading should be all about the parent-child experience,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Rather than having it be a chore, or a list of must-read books, summer is a terrific opportunity to build family reading experiences. Whether it’s as simple as reading with children so they can see how much adults love reading, or visiting places and doing activities tied to a book, there are a host of ways reading can help children enjoy the summer and be ready to start school in the fall.”
Here are some of the Raising A Reader summer reading tips for parents:
Even though babies don’t know how to read words yet, there are still plenty of things that they can do with books that will help them grow up to be strong readers and book lovers.
If you've followed our blog at all, you know we do an annual post about autism for 2 reasons: my first job out of college involved working as a teacher at the New England Center for Children, a school for children with autism, and now that I'm a parent, I've seen, first-hand, the prevalence of autism, so I'm passionate about increasing awareness.
For this post, we reached out to a friend whose daughter has autism, asking if he'd be willing to share about the following: When did you first suspect that Zoe had Autism? What did you do? What are your favorite activities that you and Zoe enjoy?
Eric - Thank you for sharing so candidly.
"20 months went by, and it all felt normal. Zoe and I were thick as thieves and I loved spoiling her. I couldn't help myself. She loved swings, she loved being held by daddy and boy did she like to eat (daddy's girl for sure!) We thought everything was fine...I think about it constantly, did I miss the signs earlier? I don't know...but it still haunts me as early intervention is crucial with young kids on the spectrum. As the months went by we started noticing a couple of things leading up to her 2nd birthday that started to concern us. Anytime she would pick up a new word or skill, she would lose something she already knew. She was a bit slow in walking and when she did start to walk she would walk on her toes. She seemed to fixate on certain objects...I think my wife and I both had read enough about autism that we were starting to see some red flags. We decided to take her to a developmental pediatrician...I think we both hoped that the doctor would call us paranoid and tell us we were imagining things...that's not how things worked out. "Your daughter is on the spectrum of autism..." It felt like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of the world. It was devastating. My flashes forward on that day were darker and in a quiet moment alone I cried until there were no more tears. Would there be a father-daughter dance now, how do I protect her from this, she does not deserve this...I was sad, I was angry, but most of all I was afraid. Afraid is the unknown, afraid I would never get to know the girl inside of Zoe, afraid autism would take her away from me."January 23, 2011, in the middle of one of the biggest snowstorms NYC had ever seen, I held in my arms the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, my daughter, Zoe. It was love at first sight. I was smitten and I was never going to let her go. It's weird, I distinctly remember sitting in that hospital room with this little nugget beside me, flashing forward to her wedding day and wondering what our father-daughter dance would be like, and how bittersweet it would be for me. Less than 24 hours in the world and I was already feeling territorial haha.
There was a short grieving process and then Heidi and I went to work. We weren't going to let this diagnosis take her away from us. We went about getting Zoe all the tools she would need to reach her full potential. We secured district support to enroll Zoe at REED Academy, we hired speech therapists and private ABA therapists. We threw all our resources at trying to improve Zoe's quality of life. She's sharp as tacks...she just learns differently and she has to fight through a cacophony of sensory input that I will never fully grasp just to simply focus. I'll never truly understand her struggle, but she is a fighter and she comes from a family of fighters and we are making progress thanks to hard work dedication and a strong support system of friends and the folks at REED.
Zoe is 5 now...she's the same kid really. Happy disposition, loves a good adrenaline rush, loves to eat. We love to be outside together, love to sneak cupcakes and ice cream when we are not supposed to but mostly we love to just be together. We are inseparable. We have a special connection...and while she may not say the words all the time, she doesn't need to. She loves her daddy and daddy will always love her to the moon and back." - Eric Chung
This year, Eric is trying to raise $20,000 for the Go the Distance for Autism charity ride. He will be doing 25 miles. Please consider joining Team Zoe as a rider or a "virtual rider" by clicking this link http://www.gtd4autism.org/
Thanks for tuning in and watching what has happened, with our business and our lives, since we were first on Shark Tank in 2012. As you saw in the episode, we met with one of our investors, Robert Herjavec, in January, 2015, and filmed for Beyond the Tank one year ago. A lot can happen and has happened in one year…
That’s the good news, but it’s not all rosy. Running a small business is hard work, and everything feels very tenuous! I hate to admit that Mark and I are often filled with fear and self-doubt. Should we spend more money and resources to launch another new product or do we stay the course and let it happen more organically? Who is our next hire? What can we be doing better? We open a new account and get that sale, but we are constantly reminding ourselves that nothing lasts forever. As a working mom, I often feel burned out and overwhelmed, but I am blessed with friends, family, and a business that motivate me to power through the rough patches. One thing I can never take for granted is that I absolutely LOVE what I do. Work makes me happy and is fulfilling in so many ways.
In closing, we just want to say a HUGE thank you to our friends, family, colleagues, customers, and retailers. Thank you also to the people behind Shark Tank and Beyond the Tank for the numerous opportunities. It all began with a casting call in 2011, and here we are in 2016 – still in business and growing! Without the relentless support of so many people, none of this would exist, so we appreciate all of you in the biggest way!
Classic. I fly from Southern California to Dallas, Texas for 24 hours to see Mark Cuban deliver a keynote address at a “Women in Toy” event on Monday 10/5, and I have NO memory left on my phone – couldn’t even snap one photo. I had to ask a colleague to take a photo of Mark and me and text it to me, and while Mark was saying some amazing things, I literally couldn’t record any of it. SO frustrating to say the least, but I took copious notes, and I’m making it up to myself by sharing it with you.
As many of you know, Mark Cuban, is truly a self-made billionaire. He has incredible business acumen and an indescribable tenacity that is simply inspiring to entrepreneurs like me and my husband, Mark. I am still a bit star-struck by Mark Cuban, even though he owns part of Lollaland. Mark [Cuban] has always been passionate about playing [and watching] basketball. He never made it to the NBA, but guess what? He bought an NBA team instead (Go Mavs! #MFFL). I can’t help but think of this as the ultimate example of persistence and thinking outside the box.
For those of you who couldn’t be at the event, here are the main takeaways, from Mark Cuban’s keynote address – read them slowly and carefully.
Mark Cuban closed the keynote address with this, and I will end with it as well: “The American Dream is alive and well.” Take these tips and may it help your business, and personal life, prosper.
Back-to-School is always an exciting time for so many reasons, but in all honesty, the one thing I dread about the kids going back to school is packing lunches. I know it shouldn't be THAT difficult, but sometimes I'm just out of ideas, and I'm tired of making the same things.
All three of my girls have a milk protein allergy (that they're starting to grow out of, thankfully), so I've been packing dairy-free lunches for the past 7 years now. Aside from leftovers, these are my go-to school lunches. My kids love hot meals, so I just heat these up, throw them into a thermos in the morning, and they're good to go.
Along with these "entrees," I always pack a side of fruit for something sweet + extra nutrients. I wanted to share a quick and easy way to make fried rice that makes for a [relatively] healthy meal. I love making this when I have leftover rice from Chinese food take-out.
Super Easy Fried Rice:
What are your go-to school lunches?
To kick off the back-to-school season, Lollaland has partnered with Luca & Company and SoYoung for a Back-to-School Lunch Instagram Giveaway valued at $275.
To enter, visit Lollaland's Instagram @lollalandusa and good luck! Both Luca & Company and SoYoung's booths were near the Lollaland Booth at a tradeshow last year. These two companies really caught my attention. The FunPod by Luca & Company has been a God-send ever since I got one. Here's how we use our FunPod in the LollaHome. Oddly enough, my 2-year-old loves to just sit in it and play peek-a-boo, so not only is it functional, but it can make for fun times, as well. As for SoYoung goods - just take a quick look and you'll see why theyr'e so unique and chic! I LOVE their designs and aesthetic.
I'm not sure if you heard the news, but "a 75-foot-tall, 75-year-old pine crashed without warning at around 5 p.m. just outside the Kidspace Children's Museum and fell onto kids at a summer day camp Tuesday, injuring eight children, two of them critically, fire officials said." (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/including-children-hurt-falling-tree-kids-museum-32745551)
Well, my two daughters (ages 6 and 7) were attending that camp and apparently standing less than 20 feet away from the tree when it fell. When I arrived on the scene I was immediately notified that camp was being held directly under and near the tree when it fell. The staff notified each parent whether his/her child(ren) was safe, and the police kept us all well-informed and calm as we waiting over an hour for our children to be released back to us. My girls are safe and unscathed, but my eldest was sobbing before bed as she shared with us that she saw her friend, Joy, get hit by the tree and go to the hospital. I believe Joy's still in critical condition, so our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all the children who were injured.
I am so thankful to the camp counselors and Kidspace Museum staff for keeping our children safe and in good spirits. Thank you, also, Pasadena Police and Pasadena Fire Departments for your incredibly fast response. You were all absolute rockstars.
This was such a harrowing experience. At least 1 firetruck and 1 ambulance passed me on my way to pick my girls up yesterday, but I thought nothing of it, until I pulled up to the scene. I teach my children to say no to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, but what can prepare them for freak accidents like these? Nothing, really. I guess it's all about how we choose to deal with the aftermath.
Please say a prayer for all the children and families involved, and take a moment to peruse the resources listed below. Finally, let this be another reminder to cherish each and every moment and live life to its fullest.
The school psychologist at my children's school, Dr. Tina Bryson, suggests the following resources and steps to guide parents in talking with their children about the incident.
Steps to guide parents in talking with their children:
A friend of mine brought up the idea of organizing a "Parent Camp," and it was such a great idea that I just had to share. Summer camps seem to cost a fortune, and personally, I've had to piece together several different camps so that I can be at work. Even if you're a stay-at-home parent, this could be a welcome a break/change-of-pace for your kids. Here's a great, low-cost option - Parent Camp.
This will take a bit of planning, but one parent would watch ALL the children for a day. It sounds daunting, but I find that kids sometimes do better in groups. Hours can be negotiated but our group was planning on doing 9-3. The parent in charge is in charge of keeping the kids "entertained" and safe, feeding them snacks, providing a lunch which can be pizza delivery, sandwiches, pasta (whatever the parent in charge can manage).
(it's likely that the kids will want to just play with one another, but if you want to plan some things, here are some ideas)