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Tuesday
Aug192014

Seven Years A New Yorker

 

 

 

Would you believe I moved to this city by covering eleven states in two days while driving a Uhaul from Texas? There is something to be said for being young, naive and convinced you know what’s right all the time. I had some real nerve.

So here I am, seven years into my relationship with New York City. And how is it going, you ask? Well, I’ve definitely gained some important people in my life along the way. The city was quite the romantic backdrop to our little love story. Never a lack of exciting new things to try or places to explore. Now, it has been the most vibrant and entertaining place to raise Parker. It was pretty comical to spend my first pregnancy in this crazy place. Waddle walking through the streets and hearing innocent cat calls only to turn around, with full belly then in sight, and be like really? But hey, where would our self esteem be without those construction workers? I, for one, sure do appreciate their devotion to the whistle. I mean, yea, I know I looked good that other morning (I actually washed my hair) and thank you for acknowledging it. It’s equally comical to attempt to raise a child here. The daily schlepping, the closet turned nurseries, the decade wait list for a daycare, the fear she’ll never take to the feeling of grass…. all things that cause me to ironically love this city and also shake my fist at it at the same time. Things I never even imagined I'd be experiencing in this city while unloading my Uhaul. 

Equally, there’s a lot that is lost when you take up residence in the concrete jungle. For starters, long gone is my ability to responsibly operate a motor vehicle. We are going on six years and it more closely resembles an elderly person who never took drivers ed. Personal space is something I don’t expect to have, ever. And my petite calves now appear like small baseballs from all the subway stairs and walking I’ve done to transport myself around this city. Trust me, there’s a lot of places on my body I’d kill to have toned muscle, but my calves have never been the most desired area for that. You don’t get cat calls for calf muscles. So, thanks for that New York.

I know it is said a lot and it can become pretty trite, but there really is nothing like living here. I’m glad my seriously daring and adventurous younger self didn’t think twice. The city and I are constantly in a series of textbook fights (hour long subway delays underground in a car that smells like cat pee) and make up sessions (perfect fall weather, a surprise street market and the potential talk of a Trader Joe’s moving in close by). And every year, we city kids throw ourselves 'New York-aversary' parties to celebrate that great day we first stepped off the praire and onto the city streets. I always wonder if there is ever such a love affair as a New Yorker has with their city.

In one of my favorite love letters to the city, Here Is New York, E.B. White writes:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something....Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

 

photo credit

  

Sunday
Aug102014

Let's Talk Milk


If you were to ask my husband what my hardest daily decisions are, he would easily answer you with ‘what she wants to eat’. It’s hard enough weaving through the options I have on a given day to decipher what is the least processed, has the smallest amount of sugar, has good carbs over bad carbs and won’t eventually come back to kill me of some rare cancer in twenty years.

We take Parker’s health seriously and are thankful for this time to dive in and learn more about the best nutritional options for our family. But I think we can all agree there’s just too much information - we are an overly informed society and I think that’s both good and bad at times! It helps us make better decisions, but also creates a fear in us over every. little. thing. I mean, how blissful were the days of warming up hot dogs in the microwave for lunch as a kid. Or to be more with the times…. you would ‘nuke it’ in the microwave. Which should’ve been the first clue it could cause chemical warfare. Now, both the microwave and the hot dog “ingredients” strike more fear than being struck by lightening. I simply can’t wait to be a grandma and eat cookies with my grandchildren and wear stretchy pants and not give a crap.


I think we are all aware that cow’s milk is pretty iffy, but then again, most of us were raised on it and we are still alive and thriving. I’ve read that it can cause a number of health issues due to the pasteurization process and it’s one of the highest mucus forming foods available today. There’s that whole lactose intolerance thing, which I don’t know if that becomes worse if children aren’t exposed to it or if they are. It seems a lot of people believe it is the underlining cause to a significant amount of illnesses children and adults experience. Overall, it’s awfully fake. Almond milk is the next most commonly discussed option. But then again, if you don’t make your own, then it’s just processed almond water you buy in a box at the store. It’s known to lack some significant nutrients that whole cow’s milk can supply, plus it has caused spurts of digestive issues (if you know what I mean). Goat’s milk is what I see most people suggest as a well-rounded cow’s milk alternative. Only problem is, they all stress that it must be raw. Raw makes me a little nervous, plus, I live in Brooklyn. Either that should make it easier, based on our current Portlandia farm-to-table standards or makes it harder since there isn’t a green pasture for hundreds of miles that would be producing fresh goat’s milk. She doesn’t have to be the poster child for organic health, I just want a normal balance between needing to personally knowing the goat the milk came from and being able to grab it from the shelf at the grocery store. I just try to make educated choices and then sometimes….. I just need some queso. 

I know there are mom’s out there who have done the research, who have scoured the nutritional books and blogs and asked their doctor’s a million and one questions. I know there are intelligent people out there who have studied nutrition and know more than I can sit here and cram from articles and fact sheets. I would love to have a discussion on what you have decided to do for your children, what you’ve read and believe. Or did you also worry like I have over this? I know this ultimately comes down to what we find best to do for our family, I just really love learning from other people and gathering information. Like I said, this is such a “first world mom problem” and I realize it’s part of a much larger conversation around our culture, consumption, nutrition and our roles in all of it. But that’s for another day… right now I just want to talk milk. I’m starting to ease off of nursing, which I think I’ve delayed because I have no clue what the next milk option should be. Milk has not been part of my diet for years, though I used to live off nursing home style cottage cheese until I learned how manufactured it was. I am generally a picky eater for the sake of being healthy and know the ins and outs of basic nutrition and eating clean. There are internet opinions and facts galore and, frankly, I’m not a nutritional scientist and I find it all quite overwhelming. So, alas, when it comes to milk, I’m stumped.


 

Sunday
Jul272014

Twenty Nine Things

Last week, I celebrated my birthday and realized…. I’ve only got 365 days left in my second decade of life. Y’all, this coming year is for all the marbles. The final days of my twenties. The final days to do completely ridiculous things and blame it all on my youth. This has been quite the defining decade full of life changes, new homes and cities, jobs left and started, epic mistakes and learning curves, even more epic fashion mistakes, bad dates, hair color confusion, adventures and travels far and wide, friends gained and loved ones lost, a husband scored and a baby girl made.


Is part of me kind of already freaking out about this time next year? Yes, yes it is. I’m not going to make some ‘Thirty Things To Do Before I Turn Thirty’, because that’s what old people do and I’m not old…. yet. These are just twenty nine plain old things I’m either thinking about, things I’ve come to find interesting, things I’m entertaining the idea of doing, or things I just want to share, well, because I can. Lists are kind of, make that…. definitely are, my love language.


1. I’m honored to grow older, not everyone gets to do it.

2. Be less interested in my phone. There is nothing more appreciated and distinctive right now that someone who is fully present.

3. I’m the proud new owner of this fancy thingy, so I’m instigating zucchini noodle family dinners on Sundays.

4. I find a lean closet to be quite attractive. Join the movement, it’s a pretty liberating feeling.

5. It’s okay to cave and get a Kindle. A diaper bag is my purse option about 90% of the time, and there’s no room in between the wet wipes and squeeze packs and for the likes of 775 pages of ‘The Goldfinch’. This, coming from a hard core newspaper reader and lover of everything tangible. I thought I would hate the thing, but I realized, it’s pretty neat. (‘neat’ being the first step towards talking like an old person in their 30’s.)

6. In regards to the above, since I can carry it everywhere, I’ve been tearing through books like the total nerd I am. Recent top reads: The Paris Wife, The Night Circus, The Opposite of Loneliness and Love Does. There’s a reason they are top sellers people!

7. Finally, the cozy dream starter house we always swoon over when we drive upstate is for sale. And it’s right in our price range.

8. After nearly fifteen years of despising pants, or jeans more specifically, I have joined the pants loving community. My favorites for doing DIY distressing and don’t freak if Parker smears strawberry fingers all over them → here. My favorites for the ‘damn these make my butt look amazing’here.

9. In an effort to be more efficient with my increasingly packed days, I recently got to take a course on mastering my productivity. Regardless of what your days and obligations consist of, learning how to use your time wisely and efficiently is badass.

10. Currently, I’m three hundred and eighty two days into being caffeine-free…. not that anyone is counting. I intentionally stopped when I began breastfeeding, but now, I don’t see any point in going back. A fountain drink here and there when we are on vacation….. cause they are just sooo refreshing, but it’s too hard to deny the visibly positive effects it has had on my mind and body (not to mention, pocket book) to be without the three cups of coffee a day I used to frequent.

11. My morning commute on the subway used to stress me out. Good morning, would you like to pack in like sardines with complete strangers and have your face shoved in someone's armpit for 20 min? Now, it’s my only ‘me’ time I have on the days that I work and I find it to be like a serene meditation room that happens to have the scent of urine instead of lavender. Yes, this is what having a baby does to your psyche.

12.  By golly, I hate to say it because I’m trying not to drink the Kool-Aid of the mass marketers, but comfy tomboy shoes are kind of looking pretty sweet these days.

13. I find this to be the most refreshing Instagram account at times. Little deep and emo at times? Oh, sure, but I’ve been a longtime fan of Eliot’s writing and thought process, so it’s nice to have reminders as I scroll through endless selfies with overpriced macaroons and shameless self promotion.

14. I want this. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

15. One of my favorite Tumblrs. Think I’ve successfully pinned the entire site.

16. Now, I’m a Blake Lively supporter and all (even though she claimed my back up husband), but do we really think this is going to work? It’s just…. the website design is complete rubbish.

17. Wow, why did I set up to do 29 of these thoughts? Not as easy as I assumed.

18. It’s hard for me to find time to read other blogs much these days, but I’m currently devouring: The American Edit, Note To Self, Lingered Upon, The Chalkboard Mag, Upstater and Cricket’s Circle. Wow, we can obviously see where my interests are right now.

19. I have this feeling that a lot changed in the last year for us, but there may be even more change in the coming year. This is not an ambiguous suggestion towards something, just a feeling I have.

20. On that note. I hate change. So, that’s awesome.

21. You’d be surprised how much time I put into thinking about writing. I don’t call myself a writer, but I sure like to word vomit thoughts onto paper.

22. New York, in all of her cleverness, has a way of putting all the right parts in motion so you always run into that one wrong person on the Subway. (If you’re reading this and I recently ran into you on the Subway, no it’s not you!)  

23. Sorry, I’m not sorry. It’s my favorite.

24. I’ve seen almost every episode of this series on Animal Planet. My child is obsessed with small animals of any kind. She generally just points at them and makes squeaking noises. Since it’s one of my favorite things, I make sure there are plenty small animals around. But none of which I have to care for.

25. In all my years of life, I’m learning there are some things I keep trying to force myself to love….. and it just may never happen. I’m talking to you whiskey, olives and Taylor Swift.

26. For heaven’s sake, it took long enough. Finally, the perfect summer jean short has been created.

27. Before we had Parker, we asked a ton of friends with kids the one thing they used to love doing that they never get to do anymore. ‘Go out to see a movie’ was the answer most received, and at the time, I thought that was a bit lame. But, now….. now I get it. It’s a big night if we make it through a movie I never even knew was made and even my grandmother saw it before me on Netflix. I usually vote for sleeping.

28. Twenty eight was a damn fine year. I think I learned more about myself once thrown into the trenches of motherhood than I have in all the years of life prior.

29. I’m thankful that you visit this little corner of the world. And even more so, if you’ve actually read to the end. I am, if nothing else, really good at typing out my gibberish thoughts. So, if you have successfully followed along, then we should probably be friends.


 

Tuesday
Jun242014

Visit :: Prospect Heights

Recently, I gave a little tour of my neighborhood over on the Little Hip Squeaks blog as a guide to any mamas looking to find the best spots to explore with a little one in tow. Having traveled with Parker a bit, I quickly learned that not everywhere is best to bring her along. Some places you feel like the biggest jerk trying to squeeze your stroller into the narrow walk ways, or the tables are just too close together and your daughter is literally eating off the plate of the person next to you. Then there's always the lovely death glares from the employees when your child even makes the smallest peep. Oh yes, surprise..... children makes noises.

It's so helpful to know in advance if a restaurant is accommodating for kids, if there is a place to store the stroller, the nearby spot I grab an extra soothie if she has gifted hers to the slobbery dog that just ran by. As a parent, you have to take your wins where  you can. In case you missed it, here is the run down! 

Our neighborhood of Prospect Heights is nestled in a prime spot of Brooklyn. We are just blocks from Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Museum, the Botanical Gardens and an easy 15min subway ride over the bridge and into the city. Over the past few years since we've lived here, the food and bar options have really stepped up their game. Vanderbilt is quite the happening strip and pretty soon, it's likely we won't be able to afford to eat out anywhere in our neighborhood. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you know you live in Brooklyn. 

 

TO EAT/DRINK:

AMPLE HILLS :: It has only been voted like the best ice cream on planet earth by nearly every top critic there can be. Three words - salted crack caramel.

R&D FOODS :: After opening the main restaurant, 606 R&D two store fronts down, this new little takeout and grocery joint carries a knockout selection of artisanal cheese, sandwiches and carries the best cup of coffee around from Brooklyn Roasting Company. Grab a snack and belly up to their window counter.

SUNSHINE CO :: This corner restaurant was opened by the same peeps as the nearby coffee shop, Milk Bar. Their brunch menu is the talk of the town right now and it makes bringing the tot along pretty easy. They are patient with kids and have space for strollers and high chairs. 

WASHINGTON COMMONS :: They don’t fool around with outdoor space here! The backyard is giant and on any given weekend you will see a number of other parents with their children hanging out and drinking a beverage.

BROOKLYN CREPE :: Get your daily dose of greens and fresh salad at this local juice bar. Parker’s favorite is the kale, apple and spinach. How cliche ‘Brooklyn’ of her, right?

 

TO DO:

GRAND ARMY FARMER’S MARKET :: Nothing is better than starting off a Saturday morning at the local farmer’s market. They have all the seasonal veggies and fruits, fresh bread, flowers, coffee and you can always count on some local marmalade samples!


BROOKLYN MUSEUM :: It’s no Natural History Museum, but it does have a constant flow of jaw dropping exhibits for both parents and kids. Favorites include the sculpture garden and the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit from earlier this year. Don’t be fooled, the admission price is merely a ‘suggested donation’. I have definitely given them a $5.00 bill without apologizing. Knowing my kid could have a meltdown at any moment, I will not be left feeling guilty for forking over a good chunk of change to only have to rush through the museum! 

BROOKLYN LIBRARY :: Fun fact, having opened it’s doors in February 1, 1941, the building’s unique architecture was created to resemble an open book, with the spine on Grand Army Plaza and the two wings opening like pages onto Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue. It hosts a great kids area to let them run and explore and read. Perfect refuge during during rainy, cold and wintery days.


BOTANICAL GARDENS :: Seriously one of the more gorgeous places to visit in Brooklyn. Their Japanese gardens are stunning during cherry blossom season and you’ll enjoy the picturesque stroll through the massive lush grounds. You’ll have non-stop photo ops with the kiddos. Just drop them in some flowers and snap away!


PROSPECT PARK :: Grab a sandwich and snacks at R&D, bring along a bottle of wine (or apple juice!) and a blanket….. this is the easiest place to let the kids run wild while enjoying some time for yourself too. We love to gather our fellow friends with tiny people and let them all use it as if it’s their own backyard.

 

TO SHOP :: 

BLUEBERRY KIDS :: This great new shop has all the knick knacks you need like last minute bibs and teething supplies, but also houses an indoor play area where your child can get all their energy out while you shop. Become a member, and they offer childcare and mommy cocktail nights…… now that’s what I’m talking about!


COLOR BKLYN :: Need a well curated gift or chic baby toy? This is your spot! These ladies know how to stock the shelves with beautifully designed and curated products.

UNNAMABLE BOOKSTORE :: Our go-to bookstore. They have a darling children’s section and even have book readings in their backyard full of twinkle lights. Bonus - they have a $1, $3 and $5 book rack that sits out on the sidewalk. I’ve found many a gems in those racks before! 

 We hope you come out and visit the neighborhood!

Sunday
May182014

Middle School Phase

Just wanted to write a bit about how I've had trouble sharing lately. Maybe because it was all rainy and gloomy in Brooklyn on Friday (when I started writing this!) or maybe because I have decided this is better than nothing. Either way, I have all these thoughts in my head day in and day out of things I want to blog about and then I ultimately talk myself out of it. I have posts that I’ve never posted for no other reason than I just felt like people wouldn't want to read them. I convince myself that it's a silly subject, no one would find this interesting or that there's really nothing new to say here on the interwebs that hasn't been said before by someone else in different packaging. I've been really bad at feeling confident in what I'm producing and putting out here. I'm setting standards for myself that I think are probably loftier than anything anyone else is expecting of me, which I never used to do before. It’s funny, I’ve discovered this newfound confidence in my life as a mother and have never felt so proud of who I am and what I’m accomplishing every day (read: literally keeping another human alive), yet when it comes to my creativity here on this blog space, I feel inadequate. Do I sound like a moody creative yet? 

 

I feel like I’m in an awkward middle school phase with this space. There are some growing pains going on and if a blog could have braces and bad skin, I think mine would right now. I'm feeling gangly and out of place. I get stressed about being too 'mommy' on here, but then again, that's really the focus of my world right now. I know more about diaper bag launches than the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag release dates. And it used to be the other way around. Since I'm also still the same person I was before I had Parker, this is where I assume no one wants to read another post on diaper bags or why I try to choose the one that doesn’t scream ‘I’m carrying a bag full of a soiled diapers!’. There are people far and wide who have done that jig. But maybe that is what I want to write about and maybe that is what you want to read. Would that be so bad?

 

Maybe it’s because I’m juggling the logistics of a full time job, a full time mom and a full time wife on top of managing life in one of the most chaotic and competitive cities in the world. That’s an exhausting sentence to read. I often tell myself that these reasons explain my lack of enthusiasm to hit ‘publish’ after a long day and really believe in what I’m putting out there. Sure, I could publish a ton of stuff that is just fine (trust me, I’ve got an arsenal of unpublished posts just hanging out), but it’s probably best to wait until I feel proud of them. That’s the wonderful thing about having an online space… things evolve and grow and the world goes on. You can always come back when you need to - it’s here waiting.  

I thrive in being able to write, to think creatively, to put together projects and share them with people. So this space will always be a need of mine - it’s not going anywhere. I’m thankful it’s here and I’m thankful you read my ramblings. This awkward middle schooler just needed to share. Now, I'll distract you with a cute picture of Parker Mae crawling....... and all is right in the world again!