Growing Kids

Saturday, July 30, 2011

friday night fireworks...

My husband's birthday was this past Thursday and as a birthday gift from a good friend out here in LA, Matt and I were given front row tickets to our first Dodgers baseball game, thanks Andy!  We couldn't take our eyes off the field for even a second because we were in foul territory and at any time a hard line drive could've come right at us, a few almost did.  The guy sitting to our right had a baseball glove on and I was praying he knew how to catch because I only had my bare hands.  I just kept thinking, "Should I try to catch the ball if it comes this way, or just cover my head??"

Now, I didn't know this, but after every Friday night home game at Dodgers stadium there is a fireworks display!  They literally turn off all of the lights inside the stadium and put on a fantastic show in center field.

I've never been inside a major league ball park at night with all the lights out, 
it was pretty awesome.
Another thing that was really cool...after the game they fenced off the infield and allowed all of the fans down on the grass to watch the fireworks!  So, if you're ever in Los Angeles on a Friday night when the Dodgers are in town, make sure to bring the kids to the game - and sneak down as close to field level as you can get during the bottom of the 9th inning so you are assured a good will be an experience they will never forget! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

the time has come...

Skinny jeans have over saturated the fashion world and it is time to look towards another style to make your statement.

Don’t get me wrong, the skinny has definitely put itself on the staple list, along with the boyfriend, the boot cut and, the cropped, but you can give them a break unless you're planning to put on your boots.

Side note, I need to have these Flannel boots from Steve Madden, look at the back! 

AND....I'm dying for these by Balenciaga, but probably won't see them for a while since they are $900!
OK, back to the jeans...Since 1970’s inspired trends are sticking around this fall, the bell-bottom and the flare leg jean is back again!  I think we can all agree, that while they look great on some…unless you are a toothpick, skinny jeans don’t do anyone any favors, and the flare leg has always been much more flattering on most body types.  I have to elaborate that I am not referring to an overall baggy fit, I am talking about fitted through the leg and flared out from just above your knee down with a hem that is close to or as wide as your foot.   

 Here's my Mom and her friend from the 70's...perfect example of the fit you should be looking for...the striped matching outfit though?  Lets leave that as a great trend of the past...

Side note again, I would love to have either of those shoes that they are wearing!

Here are some current styles from this amazing new designer denim line Mother Jeans.

Wearing a high shoe like a platform or wedge with the flared leg denim helps to keep your foot inside the hem.  

If you are not into the higher shoe or if you need a more casual look, the straight leg is always a great alternative to the skinny.  They work well with flats, sandals, and casual sneakers.

Last and final side note, look at these handcrafted hanging plant pods!  An interesting twist on the good old macrame hanging plant holders if you ask me.  What do you think? Should we carry these in the store??

 View his full Etsy page here.

Thanks for reading...
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

product safety...

I am sure most of you remember the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) which was put in place to strengthen the safety requirements for all products intended for use by children under the age of 12.  It was responsible for lowering the levels of allowable lead and forcing manufacturers to test and document these levels in all children’s products. 

Why am I talking about this now?  Because one month ago today, the crib standards set forth in the CSPIA became enforceable.  Crib safety standards have not had a major revision in more than 30-years, well overdue if you ask me.
Here are some of the new requirements in crib safety according to the CPSC: 

  • Manufacturers of cribs can no longer sell or produce dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs
  • Mattress supports and crib slats must be strengthened  
  • Crib hardware must be more durable and utilize anti-loosening devices to prevent the hardware from falling out 
  • Safety testing on all cribs is to be made much more rigorous
See the entire CPSC crib safety listing here…

While we are on the topic of children’s safety, Fisher-Price announced a recall today of the Little People Builders’ Load ‘n Go Wagons due to a laceration hazard within the handle of the wagon.  
Description from CPSC: This recall involves the Fisher Price’s Little People® Builders’ Load ‘n Go Wagon model number P8977. The product includes a red wagon with a yellow handle, multi-colored plastic blocks and a dog figure. The model number is located on the bottom of the wagon. “Little People® Builders” is found on a label on the side of the wagon and “Fisher Price” is embossed on the handle. Wagons with green handles are not included in this recall.  Sold between June 2009 through July 2011 for about $25.
Fisher Price is issuing a repair kit, they can be contacted at (800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

tips for packing...

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who replied to my email, the overwhelming response has inspired me to finally start my blog.  I hope you had as much fun as I did, and if you missed it, don’t worry, there will be plenty more to come!

The Top 5 "Mom packing tips" were:
  • Baby powder actually removes sand, from everywhere…genius, Melissa's Mom knows the deal.
  • Sheryl suggested the 1-3 outlet converter…there really never seems to be enough plugs.
  • When renting, pack sheets in laundry baskets, they can double as hampers when you get there - thanks Nancy
  • Don’t forget your patience, we can all thank Diane for that reminder!
  • Hands down, the best answer goes to Nicole with, never let your husband pack for himself.

For those of you who didn’t see the email, here were the questions…
 Now for the results…
22.7% of all votes said high heels, a dressy outfit and jewelry were a waste of space.  I have to agree with this to an extent, but at the same time, it’s always important to be fashionably prepared for any circumstance!  What I usually do is pack at least 2 outfits that easily convert from beachy daytime outfits, to something I can wear for a night out.
It’s a simple switch, from flip flops to heels – or even dressy sandals, put on some jewelry, and trade in the beach bag for an evening clutch.  The shoes are the only addition to your luggage, and just like that, you are ready for a fancy date!  Here are two examples I just pulled out of my closet, if you need help doing this on your own, just stop by the store and ask!

Can you find the similarities here?

As a side note, I use a zippered clutch during the day to hold my credit cards, money, chapstick, gum, cell phone and camera inside my beach bag.  Not only does it keep the small things organized, it protects them from getting sandy, and it’s perfect to grab for a quick run to the snack stand or the unavoidable surf shop shopping spree. 

Extra shoes also seemed to be a popular item that gets packed and never used.  A good rule of thumb is, if you cant wear a pair of shoes with at least 2 outfits, leave them home!  (The same goes for pants, shorts and skirts)

I really got a chuckle out of the need for packing waterproof mascara and the contents of the medicine cabinet.  I always do this, and never need any of it – but like most of you said, the one time you forget the Tylenol…you know what will happen.  Especially if you are in another country, it was an adventure and a half to find Benadryl when I was in Aruba!!

I was surprised to see the number of people who bring their camera and don’t use it.  One thing I never regret is taking too many pictures.  It’s the only way to really document and share your travel, and I would feel terrible if I didn’t tell everyone to bring your camera and use it people!!  You will thank me later! 
Look at some of the opportunities I would have missed...

Bryce Canyon

Big Sur

Side of the road in Utah

Crescent City, CA

Since moving to Los Angeles 20-months ago, I have traveled 21 times.  I have discovered there is nothing more annoying than being somewhere and needing something I left behind.  I hope this doesn’t jynx future trips, but I have become a pro at remembering everything I need!

It seems we all agree that a packing list is a MUST, and that electronic chargers are the culprits when it comes to what is most often forgotten!  Having wasted valuable shopping money on my fair share of different chargers, I must say the only way I have solved this was by writing, “& charger” next to every electronic item on my packing list.

Toiletries are also difficult to remember.  Some of the most forgotten items were, sunblock, Q-tips, hair products, toothpaste/toothbrush, and earplugs.  I have learned, the best time to pack my toiletries, is right after I take my last shower before leaving for my trip.  I leave my bathroom bag open and put everything in there as I use it.  Keeping a toiletries bag fully stocked and ready to go is a great tip from Ann Marie and the trial size aisle at CVS comes in handy for the plastic Q-Tip container, a small tube of toothpaste, and face wash, all which can just stay in your bathroom bag for next time.  

Rain coats and laundry bags are a must and two of the most forgotten items!  The best thing to pack are kitchen garbage bags, they can double as an emergency raincoat if need be, that's a tip straight from my Mom, Janis - and she has plenty more where that came from!

As you can see, it's been working for me since 1985.  I'm certain the raincoat didn't last the day with all of that mud, and that's why the garbage bag came out!

If you happen to forget a laundry bag, all you need to do is unpack all of your items into the closet or dresser and use your suitcase for the dirty items.

Zip-Lock bags are great for packing items that can leak and it never hurts to throw a few extras in there.  A few of our customers have also said they have used different sized zip-locks and placed one full children’s outfit into each bag.  Or even the dry cleaners plastic that you would otherwise have thrown out (special thank you to Hope’s Mom!)

Another suggestion was the “jelly-roll” where you roll up your child’s shorts, shirt, socks and underwear together and secure it with a rubber band (thanks Patty!) - I’ll even go as far as suggesting using hair elastics, you can never have enough of those!

That brings me to the topic of rolling your clothes vs. folding them. I was surprised to see how many people do actually roll their clothes, but the jury is still out over here…I’ll have to give it a try and let you know what I thought!

Kids favorites, such as stuffed animals, blankies, pacifiers, etc. are one thing that can not be replaced when you are far away from home, so make sure you add that to your list.  A great suggestion from a few Mom’s was, to let kids help pack their own ROLLING suitcases, so you don’t forget their favorite items.  When their bags roll, you have a better chance of getting them to carry it.   

The Melissa and Doug Trunki, as I’m sure you know, makes traveling fun because the kids can ride on their suitcase, and it doubles as a ride-on toy when you reach your destination.  

It also is available at Growing Kids for $39.99
(mention this blog and you can have $5 OFF!)

There were a few items listed as unnecessary by some and necessities by others, 
here they are along with my two cents:

First aid kit – those little mini kits are perfect for traveling and only a few dollars…worth it being put on your checklist.  I also never leave home without a sewing kit, you never know!

Extra socks and underwear – pack them in your sneakers to save room (Thanks Gloria!)

Hair dryer – chances are the hotel has one, and if you’re camping or on a tropical vacation you don’t need one, leave it home!  Just make sure you bring one good hair product that allows you to air dry…as well as a hat, some bobby pins, and headbands, just in case it doesn’t dry how you expected.

Wipes – especially after the kids are out of diapers this is easy to forget, but lets be realistic, you aren't going to make it through a good vacation without needing some kind of wipe at any age!

Jackets or sweaters – I always pack a very thin sweater that matches most of my outfits and doesn’t take up much room in my luggage…but for the heavier items, when in doubt, leave it home…hoodies make great souvenirs!

So there it is, my first blog entry.  I hope there is a little something that you can take away from the information I've gathered and most importantly I hope you smiled your way through this like I have.  Please feel free to leave comments below and let me know what you think!  


how it all began...

Growing Kids has been known as “the UNIQUE resale store” since my Mom, Janis, opened the doors for business on October 23, 1993.  Now with Growing Kids and Renewal under the same roof + Melissa and Doug Toys 72 Hamburg Tpke in Riverdale, NJ has grown from a small little children’s resale store, to the most unique place around.  The concept was genius, and so far ahead of its time for the North Jersey area in the 90’s.  We never liked the idea of consignment - resale is much faster, and makes so much more sense, you get paid before your item even sells, who would have thought? 

In 2004 my Dad was given an incredible job offer and my parents moved to Virginia.  Closing the store was never an option.  Janis successfully managed the entire operation from 6 hours away.  I helped as much as I could, but that being the last year of college for me, it was a little tricky.  After my parents decided to move back to NJ, and I received my Bachelors degree in 2005, I took on the store full time with my Mom.

The best thing about resale is the fact that there is no such thing as a resale store that is the exact same, two days in a row.  We have literally created a store that changes EVERYDAY - I like to think of it as exciting new clothes that I can possibly fit into!  Since weekly visits become necessary for customers in this ever-changing environment, creating a unique atmosphere has always been the store’s main concern.  Installing the play area was a must.  And as corny as it may sound, maintaining a place where our customers remain our friends is what makes us open our doors every day. 

When I was a senior in high school, I wrote in my life goals that one day I wanted to open a store, I never thought it would be an expansion of the store my parents already built.  In January of 2009 we moved to the new store, more than double the size and added Renewal, our women’s store.  The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 which prohibited us from reselling children’s toys killed us, selling toys was one of our favorite things to do!  A year and a half went by and it felt like we lost a sense of “fun” without having toys in the store.  Janis came up with the idea of selling “new” toys and she reached out to Melissa and Doug.  Their products are truly amazing and have been such a wonderful addition to our store. 

Then in December 2009, my husband (fiance at the time), Matt, was offered a fantastic job opportunity in California.  Knowing it was only temporary, my Mom encouraged me to move along with him and enjoy an experience like that while we still can.   We have been living in Los Angeles for 20-months and we are now in the process of purchasing our first house in Ringwood, NJ and will be moving back at the end of August!  

The saying holds true that life is that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it, remembering that while running a business…well…that I’m still learning from my Mom.  I have learned so much while living in Los Angeles and I can’t wait to come back and work with my Mom to make the store better than ever!