Family Traditions and Heirlooms

I attended a Sip-and-See this past weekend and was reminded why I like these types of showers so much.  First, you get to meet, hold, and gush over the new baby.  My second, more selfish reason, is that it’s such a nice outing for me (sans children and husband): chatting with friends, enjoying good food and drinks, and engaging in lots of laughter. What could be better?

I found this photo on Pinterest and couldn’t find the photographer to properly credit here, but I LOVE this and it’s definitely on my To-Do List!

As the new mother opened gifts, her mother (the baby’s grandmother), gifted something that blew my mind (and inspired me to blog about it).  A close neighbor of the grandmother had hand-knitted a beautiful ensemble as a gift for her when she had her daughter back in the 70s.  It included a beautiful white dress, romper, bonnet, and matching blanket.  My friend actually sported this adorable outfit as a child!  Well, the grandma had kept this whole set in mint condition (I didn’t know it was possible for fabric to stay so white!) and packaged it beautifully to present to her daughter and new granddaughter at this sip-and-see.  It literally brought me to tears.  It was such a thoughtful gift, and it was just another reminder how much mothers (and fathers) love us and think so deeply about their children.

I came home and began thinking about what I would want to pass on to my own daughters at their sip-and-see’s.  The whole concept of family heirlooms and family traditions is so special.  They stand for so many things – the immense love and caring within a family, family values and culture, a family’s beliefs and ideals, their history, etc.  I come from an immigrant family that’s been uprooted several times, and I feel like a lot of “stuff” has gotten lost with each big move.  Yes, I grew up hearing amazing stories and seeing photos, but I don’t have much in the way of tangible heirlooms or even traditions.  I am determined to start my own traditions with my family and maybe one day, my daughters’ kids will be blogging about their own beautiful family traditions and heirlooms.

Well, I got the following idea from someone in a Parent Ed. class I attended when my daughter was a newborn, and the reason I love it and have been able to follow-through with this particular tradition is because I love everything about the Christmas holiday.  So, I buy 1 ornament for each daughter every Christmas and label it with a tag noting the year and why I chose that particular ornament.  The plan is to have a complete “collection” of ornaments (that tell great stories) to present to my daughters as a wedding/shower gift.

Do you have any favorite family traditions or any ideas for those wanting to start some?  I’d love to hear what other families are doing!

First Day of Summer = Sunscreen 101

Lollacup basking in the summer sun!
Photo courtesy of Caroline Tran

First, Happy First Day of Summer!  What better way to kick off the summer season than with a brief discussion on sunscreen.  I was born with eczema and have the most sensitive skin.  My mother used cloth diapers with me, because everything seemed to irritate my skin as a child, including diapers.  Many a dermatologist has said that I may outgrow my eczema, but 2-kids later, my eczema is still going strong.  My older daughter now has it, so it is plaguing our household even more these days.  Although the itchy skin and rashes are very frustrating, I am grateful for good health, otherwise.

I was perusing the internet last night, and found that the FDA had put out a press release last week regarding sunscreens.  When it comes to sunscreens, as with most products, there are far too many choices.  I am, by no means, a dermatologist or expert on the matter, BUT I have frequented many a dermatologist’s office, and here’s what I’ve learned over the years (as someone who’s battled sensitive skin all her life).

If you look at the active ingredients in any sunscreen you are really looking to see if it contains a chemical or physical sunblock.  Chemical sunblocks absorb the energy of UV radiation before it affects your skin, and physical sunblocks reflect or scatter UV radiation before it reaches your skin.  Some sunblocks combine both chemical and physical sunblocks.  Whether you opt for a chemical or physical sunblock, just make sure you look for a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  These should be labeled as, “Broad Spectrum.”

From a more practical perspective, I’ve found that chemical sunblocks are easily “absorbed” into the skin and seem to “disappear” upon application.  Physical sunblocks, on the other hand, appear chalky white on the skin and are difficult to apply without looking like a ghost.  Why would anyone choose to use a physical sunblock then?  Well, I only use physical sunblocks, because they are great for people with sensitive skin and provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

If you’re shopping for a physical sunblock, look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as an active ingredient.  If you opt for chemical sunblocks, avobenzone, mexoryl sx, octinoxate were recommended by my dermatologists.  Because my children and I have very sensitive skin, we use physical sunscreens, because they rarely cause irritation.  However, they do not look great on the skin and are rather difficult to wash off.

As for all the different formulations: oils, creams, sprays, etc., I always opt for the good, old-fashioned, sunscreen creams.  I’ve been reading some mixed messages about the safety of sunscreen sprays.  The FDA says, “The ANPR will allow the public a period of time to submit requested data addressing the effectiveness and the safety of sunscreen sprays and to comment on possible directions and warnings for sprays that the FDA may pursue in the future, among other issues regarding dosage forms for sunscreens.”  Sprays are really convenient, but apparently they may not provide adequate coverage, may wash off more easily, and there have been questions about the safety of inhaling the fumes released from the sprays.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes of the research.

I hope this helps.  Have fun in the sun this summer, but stay safe and apply and re-apply your sunscreen!

What It’s Like to Work with My Husband

When we buy a home, I hope we find one with a double-sink/vanity.  It’s silly, I know, but I just want my own sink space for once!  I’m pretty certain this desire stems from the fact that my husband and I spend every waking moment together.  Deciding to start a small business together was not an easy decision.  Before we made the first move, we had a long talk about how this was going to work and whether it would be wise to become business partners.

Our days are pretty crazy.  We get up early (when the kids get up), I make breakfast and pack school lunches, while Mark gets the kids dressed and ready for school.  We wolf down breakfast and run out the door.  Mark and I take turns dropping the kids off at school, so one of us is able to start the work day by 8 am.  Our office is in our attic, so we make the ridiculously nice commute upstairs, and start pounding away at all things Lollacup/Lollaland.  Before you know it, one of us has to pick the kids up from school, make/buy dinner, play with the girls for a little bit, and get them ready for bed.  After we put them down for the evening, we’re back upstairs at work.  Having a home office is great for so many reasons, but it makes it impossible to stop working.

Each day feels much too short and chaos abounds, but here are the 5 things we focus on in order to make things work in Lollaland:

  1. Communication Skills – Mark and I have been “dating” since the 7th grade, so we’ve had a lifetime to work on our communication skills, and this is our biggest asset as a husband-wife team.  We have learned the importance of being direct, up-front, and clear with one another.  A smidgen of kindness in the tone helps too!
  2. Shared Vision/Goals – We are constantly reminding ourselves why we decided to start this company.  Without common goals, we’d probably have given up a long time ago.
  3. Defined Roles – Mark and I had many meetings early on to clearly define our roles in the company.  Although we are always backing each other up, we stay sane by “knowing our places/roles.”
  4. Commitment – Obviously, if you marry someone, you are committing yourself to him/her, but working together on a business is another level of commitment.  Wedding vows come to mind – “in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow.”  Any entrepreneur can tell you what a wild ride this is – sleepless nights, many bumps in the road, and feeling constantly over-worked.  We work hard, but always put our marriage/family first.  We make time to go on dates, and we try our best to laugh often and enjoy the ride.
  5. Encouragement – We celebrate every little “victory” and power through each and every hiccup.  We both have our “off” days, but we try and maintain a positive outlook and attitude.  I know it sounds obvious, but sometimes, all it takes is a little encouragement.  Literally, hearing Mark say, “You’re handling all the stress so gracefully,” makes my entire week and encourages me to work even harder.

An Interesting Parenting Tip – Signaling?

When we are in the throes of manufacturing lollacups, I spend quite a bit of time in the car, driving to and from our factories.  One day, I was listening to a “marketplace” segment on NPR that was fascinating.  The discussion was about, “Why more athletes are choosing to sport eyewear.”  I really have no interest in this particular topic, but the whole discussion really spoke to me.

Apparently the NBA star, Lebron James, wears non-prescription eyeglasses, and Harvard economist Roland Fryer explains the reason as a ‘two-audience signaling mechanism.’  As Fryer puts it, “These guys are saying to one audience, ‘Hey I’m here, I’m an athlete.’ To the other one, ‘Look at my glasses, look at the way I’m dressed, look at the way I carry myself — I can promote your product.’”

This idea of a signaling mechanism intrigued me.  Prof. Roland Fryer went on to talk about one of his colleagues who admitted to dying his hair gray to be taken more seriously by his students.

I began to wonder if I have any signaling mechanisms?  By blow-drying my hair and putting on makeup before a playdate, am I signaling to other moms that I have my life together?  On the rare occasion that I’m dressed up and wearing heels and stop into Target to pick up a prescription with my 2 kids in tow, do people perceive that I am waltzing through parenthood and making time to primp?

The scenarios kept running through my head, until I realized that oftentimes, I do what I do because I truly do want to be “that person.”  When I walk into a business meeting, serious but smiling and dressed to the nines in 4-inch heels, I really do want those people to think I am fully capable of achieving and doing it well.

One thing I cannot live without is under-eye concealer.  I feel like it instantly makes me look and feel well-rested.  I am, by no means, well-rested, but I really do wish I were and for now, to signal to others that I have had a good night’s sleep is fine by me.  Maybe I’m not really understanding the gist of the radio segment I was so affected by, but perhaps “signaling mechanisms” are the best form of motivation.  Perhaps one day I will make sleep a priority.  To begin with, I will try “signaling” to my children that I am in full control of each and every situation, and perhaps, they will buy it!

Lollacups on Backorder

Some of you may have noticed that Lollacups have been backordered since we appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, and now, you are actually unable to complete a purchase on our webstore.  This is not an error.  Allow me to explain . . .

As it stands, we have many unfulfilled orders and many eager customers waiting to receive their Lollacups.  And, as many of you know from watching our pitch on ABC’s Shark Tank, we are a small business who is now fortunate to have Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec on board as investors.

Being on Shark Tank and ABC World News gave our business an incredible boost, and we could never have anticipated this kind of response.  Now that we have received funding, we, along with our investors, have decided to make improvements to our production molds and our product.

We anticipate that this process may take 10-12 weeks, but we will keep you updated on our progress through various social media outlets.  We are also happy to answer any questions, so please call us at 310-776-5655 or email us at hello@lollacup.com.

When we have plenty of the new (and improved) Lollacups in stock, we will let everyone know ASAP.  We ask for your patience and support as we work on Lollacup 2.0, if you will.

Swim Season is Around the Corner

Before I went to bed last night, I was on latimes.com and read a headline about a six-year-old girl who drowned in her family’s swimming pool during Memorial Day festivities.  I googled it to get the whole scoop and found a brief article about the incident on ABC7.com.  Can you imagine the heartache and profound loss that family is experiencing right now?

The timing was uncanny, but my daughters started swim lessons today – not because I’m starting them young on a path to become olympians, but because we live in S. California and they are around swimming pools quite a bit.  My girls are 3 and 4, so by the end of the swim course, the instructor said they should be able to put their heads underwater, open their eyes, and “swim” to the nearest wall or step.  This is really all they need – survival skills.  Incidents like the one that happened in La Canada on Memorial Day should remind us all to be on hyper-alert when our children are remotely near bodies of water.  Remember to talk to your kids about water safety and always keep these important reminders from the Red Cross in mind.

  • Children should be supervised at all times in the water (this includes baths).
  • Your backyard pool should have a fence at least 5-feet high that self latches to keep children from entering without an adult present.
  • Keep a phone poolside to avoid leaving children unattended if you get a phone call.
  • Don’t use floatation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • Remove toys from the pool that might that interest young children.