New Favorite Place

I’ve mentioned that last summer’s MVP was Pier 51. It was totally my happy place and I was looking forward to going back all winter. For better or worse, they are renovating a bit and have yet to reopen. While I enjoy the Chealsea Waterpark a few blocks north, I found that it was a bit far from the subway and the avenues seem never-ending down there. I needed something new just to hold me over until Pier 51 reopens. Exactly a year ago we checked out the patio (“splash pad”) at the American Museum of Natural History. Here’s the thing: I was literally 9 months pregnant, so 85-degree weather and strong sun just wasn’t ideal at that point.
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Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time but it took me a year to get back there. To start, we got off the 1 train at 72nd street (elevator station, wahooooo) and went to 16 Handles and Coffee Bean along the way, obviously. This time it was totally different. We got there at around 11:30 so there was still plenty of shade and it was hardly crowded. So what exactly is the splash pad? It’s really just a large patio with 4 sprinklers coming out of the ground and a drain at end for all the water. Now the drain is where we like to play. It’s kind of like a wading pool and is kind of awesome.
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The craziest part is that we had such a good time that we literally went 4 times in 10 days — I even spent my birthday here! This is just one of those places where I can sit and relax and watch everyone play. In conversation I’ve heard this referred to as a hidden gem and  one of New York’s best kept secrets (as far as play areas go, at least). So true. I’ve gone at different times, weekdays/weekends and the place is never really crowded.
To sum up. There’s no equipment here, just the 4 sprinklers, a drain, grass and picnic tables with umbrellas. If you want a nearby playground  check out Diana Ross Playground on 81st and Central Park West or Tecumseh Playground on 78th and Amsterdam. I recommend heading over earlier in the day because it does get pretty sunny. Also, the best place to enter is by going down the path at 79th and Amsterdam and through the doors by the labia. When you see it, you’ll know what I mean.
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Anyway…… Hope you enjoy!

Sample Sale Today!

I’ll talk more about shopping later but I feel like it’s my duty to alert people of a sample sale that’s going on NOW. This one doesn’t happen often so I think it’ll be a good one. Wait for it…. it’s  J Crew! Crazy, right? It’s going on now through the 29th. Located at 260 Fifth Avenue (between 28 and 29th), hours are 10:00-9:00 until the 28th and 11:00-5:00 on Sunday, the 29th.
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Happy shopping to all!

Milestones

These pictures make me really happy:
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Under normal circumstances I’d be like “why you gotta eat my blueberry muffin?”, my full-fat blueberry muffin. Every time I order a blueberry muffin they’re like “regular or reduced fat?” and I’m thinking well, if I wanted a reduced fat muffin I’d order a reduced fat muffin. And when I order my iced latte don’t ask me if I want skim milk. If I wanted skim milk I’d say “hey, can I please have an iced latte with skim milk?”  I do however appreciate when you ask me if I want whipped cream. I’m not going to order it but but how can I say no to that fluffy deliciousness? With caramel drizzle. Mmmmmm drizzle.20140612-103506-38106977.jpg
As I was saying: this makes me really happy. Let’s backtrack about 2 months to Lisi’s 9-month well visit. Our pediatrician has those ages-and-stages questionnaires.  It’s just a bunch of questions to see how well your kid is developing. I usually don’t mind filling them out since my kids have done fairly well on them in the past, and who doesn’t like acing an exam? I started going down the list. She was rocking the communication, gross motor and fine motor sections. When I saw “personal social” I thought we would breeze through it as well. Or not.
1. While your baby is on her back, does she put her foot in her mouth?
No.
2. Does your baby drink water, juice, or formula from a cup while you hold it?
She’ll hold my boob. Does that count?
3. Does your baby feed himself a cracker or a cookie?
No.
And then I started thinking. She doesn’t feed herself at all. She never puts things in her mouth. At this age, Judah’s greatest source of nutrition was acorns, sand, twigs and the occasional water balloon. So I said something to the doctor. It was one of those moments where, as I was saying it out loud, I was thinking: what am I complaining about? So my kid doesn’t put anything in her mouth? That’s great! The doctor didn’t seem too concerned.
That was Annie at 5 months

That was Annie at 5 months
A month went by. I took a look at the 10-month questionnaire.
She STILL won’t do any of those things! Generally I’m not the person to run and call the doctor, but I knew we didn’t have any visits scheduled for while and this was something that MUST get taken care of. At some ungodly hour I was slightly frantically explaining to the doctor that she won’t put anything in her mouth. Like I’ll put a cracker in her mouth and she’ll inhale it. Then I’ll put it in her hand and she would get frustrated that she’s staring at this delicious cracker and just doesn’t know what to do with it. I would guide her cracker-filled hand into her mouth and she would just tense up. It was weird.  The doctor agreed it was weird but he wasn’t particularly concerned. He suggested making her feed herself at a time when she was really hungry. The next morning as soon as I heard Lisi stirring, I excitedly jumped out of bed and ran for this freeze-dried fruit she’s kind of obsessed with. Her eyes bugged out when she saw them but nothing. I picked it up and her mouth started following my hand and then I put it in her hand. She looked at it and cried the saddest cry. I finally fed it to her. I totally failed.
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Wrong!!! Not sure what happened that day but when we were at the park I saw her sitting there with a mouthful of twigs. I was so relieved. So looking back…. I may have overreacted. But seriously, what kid doesn’t put stuff in her mouth!?!?! It’s so easy to look back at pictures and compare kids — one might walk at 10 months the other at 16, one might talk at 1 year and the other at 2.5 (hey, Judah!), one might be toilet-trained at 2 and the other might not even start until 3 (um, hi again, Judah). Does any of this REALLY matter?
Lesson to take away from this? Next time, buy 2 muffins.

Don’t Judge Me

Last weekend we had the pleasure of going to the Israel Day Parade. I love the parade. I marched in it with my elementary school starting in 4th grade. It was like the biggest deal.  Each year after winter break, every single art class was devoted to working on our props. I remember one year, the school decided that everyone was going to wear white bottoms. My grandma went to the fabric store and hand-sewed a white skirt for me (that I totally never wore again), and I’m sure there were kids wearing pillow cases that year. The weeks leading up to “Parade Day” we’d have line-up rehearsals with assigned positions and strings to keep us all aligned. Supposedly our school won every year. I didn’t realize it was actually contest; maybe they just told us that to get us into the spirit? High school took the parade less seriously. It was still mandatory but not as hardcore. I marched a few years after high school and then retired to become a spectator.

This year was great. The weather was perfect and we even had good spots along the barricades. The kids did pretty well — we went down with friends and brought plenty of snacks. There were several floats that were throwing out necklaces and stress balls so that helped. As expected, though, an 11-month-old child doesn’t really care. She was pretty good for a while but then just wanted to crawl around. Fair. So I let her do it. I put her on the ground, on the sidewalk on 5th avenue right out of Central Park. I’m fully aware that dogs poop there but I’m sure she’s played in worse. Lisi fact: not only is she bald, but she’s also VERY petite. She can easily pass for a 6 month old. As she was playing in the dirt having the time of her life, some lady walked by, stared and gave a disapproving nod. Was she judging me? She totally was. Hey lady, why don’t you MIND YOUR BUSINESS?

But seriously, don’t judge my parenting. Same goes for the time(s):

You saw my kid peeing in one of those travel potties (or on a tree). Better than the alternative.
Judah was running around with no pants on. He has a narrow waist!
I was nursing my baby in public. Babies need to eat too.
My 2 year old was playing with an iPad on the train. It must have been a long day for both of us.
You heard that I let my 4 year old watch TV in the morning — y’know, so I can sleep an extra hour.
I brought each of my babies on the subway at 10 days old.
I told my daughter it’s ok to pee in the sprinkler.
My kids eat fries for dinner — on a GOOD night.
My kids pick their noses and I don’t stop them.
You saw me throwing my garbage into the wrong bin. What happened to just having a trash can? Why are there 5 different garbages but not one is labeled “dirty diapers”?

Oh, and hey, customer service rep, I heard you snickering last night when someone in the room passed gas. Did you judge me for that too? You’ve never done it? Exactly.

Am I airing too much dirty laundry? I probably am. We all have our things. Please don’t report me.

Totally Not Complaining

Wow. Everyone in my house has been such a wreck these last few weeks, you know, since we’ve been outside the ENTIRE day almost every day thanks to all this stupid nice weather.  Nope, not complaining!  Yeah, the children become hot messes by the end of the day. And yes, we stay outside way past everyone’s bedtime (heck, I haven’t even been getting in my evening nap!), but seriously, it’s been so darn nice out! Another thing I won’t complain about? All that sand everywhere. If I turned my stroller upside down you could probably make a teeny little castle. Also not complaining about the chalk stains that won’t come out of Annie’s clothing or the trail of bubble juice that drips out from under my stroller. Seriously not complaining.


Now that winter is over can we talk about how rough it was? Sure, it’s totally worse in other parts of the world, but it was so cold it just hurt. And I told myself it was fine and that’s just a part of winter but winter is NOT supposed to hurt!

Lisi was born at the end of last June and while she is my happiest little bundle of joy (she’s actually the happiest baby I’ve ever met), she kind of messed up my summer last year. Before she was born I had to plan our days around places that had easily accessible restrooms. Anyone who’s known me for a while would know that I was always the kid that had to pee every 5 minutes. I would dread school trips that were longer than 30 minutes away. I’m that person who makes a jitney in Costa Rica pull over for a sec to pee behind a tree, or may or may not have fought the urge to use Annie’s travel potty, or may have once used a diaper in a fitting room at Joe Fresh. Or not. Whatever, it happens and we all do it. What was I talking about?

So I went from planning my day around bathrooms before Lisi was born to just getting around town with a newborn in the 90+ degree heat. I couldn’t take her to the pool, I didn’t want to wear her and it was hot! Like one of those heats where you’re (well, I’m) sweating from all sorts of places, like my ankles. I didn’t even know one could sweat from their ankles. Still not complaining. I don’t want to say that she ruined my summer but the fact that she was born in the summer held me back from doing lots of summer things. This year we don’t have that problem. And considering the crappy winter we just had I’m totally ready for it.

Memorial Day Weekend is the summer kickoff. We were very lucky to have a gorgeous weekend here in New York. Pause. Is it awkward that I’m talking about weather? Am I making small talk with myself? Verdict is: it’s totally fine. Unpause. Memorial Day usually means that it’s time for the sprinklers to go on but the City has a mind of its own. Apparently it has to be over 80 degrees for 3 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day for them to turn on the sprinklers, and since Memorial Day was only a couple of days ago, it would seem that we’d have to wait. But some sprinklers were on. I don’t get it, I just go with the flow (hehe, flow. sprinklers).


The other day we went to Chelsea Water Park down by Chelsea Piers. When I went with Judah and Lisi last week the sprinklers were on (and it was before Memorial Day and not 80 degrees), so I figured they’d be on. Good figuring. 



Tip: go with a friend. I didn’t hear from Annie for nearly 2 hours.

Editor’s tip: when digging in the sand, make sure the hole is significantly wider than your child’s width!

Judah likes to take breathers and people watch



That’s her “the sun is really bright face” or really just her camera face these days. Little did she know she was about to be whacked with a shovel.


This guy has perfected his pantless strut.
I think we made it back home around 7 that night — which is like the equivalent of 2am in grown up time. 


And therefore I wasn’t surprised that Judah was a crab. Am I complaining? Nope. Here’s to an awesome summer of fun, weather that doesn’t make you ache and minimal crabbiness!  



     

Washington Square Park

Often I decide which playground we’re going to based on this factor: is it near a train station with an elevator? It’s a pretty big deal. The station at west 4th street is pretty sweet, as it has seven different subway lines. Another factor: is it near a Coffee Bean? Check check.
Washington Square Park, my new favorite, is pretty huge. Aside from the playgrounds, which I’ll get to later, there’s always so much going on. This has been our go-to for the last 2 weeks and I’d be perfectly happy going back again this weekend!
Some people you might see if you venture down there:
The Bubble Lady
Can we note that Padma Laksmi is over there with her daughter? Can we pretend that we’re friends and she planned to match with Craig and Judah? Ok.
She knows what she’s doing. It’s not like the guy in Central park where people are just standing around waiting for good bubbles. Her bubbles are consistently awesome. We could have stood there all day.
The Pigeon Guy
Ok, a bit gross. I didn’t actually get a good picture of the pigeon guy because I was too busy running away from his disease-infested pigeons. But if pigeons are your thing he’ll totally give you birdseed to feed them. 
The Marionette Guy
I don’t get it but Judah was doing a belly laugh watching this guy.
The Pianist
Hehehe, that word always makes me laugh. Apparently I can’t talk dirty on here anymore since this site was recently banned at Craig’s office. It may have had something to do with this. Right. The piano guy.  He’s pretty solid.
The Musical Hippies
This is one of Judah’s favorites. It’s always a large crowd of people singing songs I don’t know, but they’re so happy I just feel like dancing!
Then you have the usual……
The Arch
If you’re coming to park, you have to take a picture by the arch. You just have to.
The Fountain
More fun when it’s on. Still unclear if you’re allowed in. Oh and don’t drink the water. Not sure if it’s related or not but Annie and Jude had some stomach issues after playing in there. Just a heads-up.
The Playgrounds
There’s a regular one and a baby one. The regular one has sprinklers, sand, swings and great equipment. The baby is great for little ones. Everything is small. I feel like a giant walking into that place.
“Futuristic Playground”

I think this really deserves it’s own post BUT it’s pretty much a bunch of hills and valleys made out of Astroturf, with a spiderweb of rope to climb on, a really high rope bridge/monkey bars, and awesome hills to roll on.

To sum up, GET DOWN THERE! Besides what I mentioned there are chess tables, musicians everywhere, some guy with parrots on his shoulder, celeb sightings, breakdancing shows in the fountain (when the water is off), ice cream stands and most importantly, bathrooms! Enjoy!

Missing Danger — Diana Ross Playground

Remember when playgrounds used to be dangerous? What’s up with playgrounds being so safe now? Not complaining, of course. For example, our local park has this giant rock, and by giant rock, I mean only the highest natural point in Manhattan, and my kids love climbing on it. As a parent I can’t watch. Judah loves recklessly frolicking on that thing. Like most 2-year-olds, he’s a little bit clumsy so I always have images of him running over to me with blood dripping down his mouth, all his teeth missing and him saying “again”. No, that hasn’t happened, yet. I hope it doesn’t. In the meantime I just can’t watch, because whether I’m running alongside helicoptering or comfortably sitting on a bench in the distance, if he falls there isn’t much I can do. But I’m glad he gets to have his fun.

For the most part all of the playgrounds we frequent are “Judah friendly”, meaning I can usually let him run off and explore because most of the equipment is relatively safe. There’s padding everywhere, lots of fences and nothing too high. Sure, there are plenty of opportunities for him to hurt himself — like tripping on his shoelace or spinning til he’s too dizzy to walk straight — but those things are out of my control. While all these new parks are pretty awesome, I think they take away some of the adventure that I used to find in playgrounds growing up.

So if you’re ever looking for an old school playground, with slides that practically reach the sky, mile-high monkey bars and more splinter opportunities than I’ve seen in decades, I’ve found the park for you! Check out Diana Ross Playground. It’s part of Central Park on the corner of 81st and Central Park West.

Bad angle but trust me, those monkey bars were high!
That slide isn’t just long, it’s fast too! And the drop at the bottom is about 2 feet!

I found that this place was actually a pretty good test for Judah. He would start climbing, look up and down and then realize that it might not be the best idea. He stopped to think and showed some restraint. I think he learned a lot that day. 

So, thoughts on this playground? It’s not my favorite. Will we go back? Maybe if we’re in the area but definitely not a destination playground. All joking aside, even thought a lot of the structures are a little high, it’s all on top of a sandbox so I don’t anticipate any missing teeth. There’s a sprinkler, no bathroom, lots of seating, a working water fountain, sand, toddler and big kid equipment, and some fun slides. 


And swings. The kids usually like them but downside is that they don’t get to let out much energy and more importantly, I don’t get to sit……

Boobs

Remember those birthday cards that would say something like “SEX. Now that I have your attention, Happy Birthday”. See what I did here? Boobs. Now keep reading.

I never thought of myself as an “uberboober”. I nursed Annie for about 7 months while looking for any excuse to stop. I did it because it was easy and she seemed to like it but as soon as all those teeth came in….OW. Then Judah lasted about 3 months. I wasn’t into it, he wasn’t  into it. We kind of tried but we were both much happier with the bottle.

Then came Lisi. Did I mention she was born without an epidural? I’m sure I have but just thought I’d throw it out there again. I remember sitting in my hospital bed and she was nursing wonderfully. Maybe since she was the third my milk came in a lot faster but she was gulping away. A doctor came in to see if I wanted to meet with the lactation consultant and he looked at us and said “oh, you probably shouldn’t go, you’d make everyone else feel bad”. It’s working out really well for us. I mastered sleeping while nursing (I know, that’s a no-no), nursing in the baby carrier, at the zoo, in Century 21 — while shopping! Totally rocking it so why stop?

          Nursing with Marc Ruffalo….

Another thing that’s different this time is that I’m less shy about it. With Annie I remember hiding in the bathroom to feed her. But even that was tricky. If there was a line or I got stuck with one of those automatic flushing toilets it was a pain. I had one of those nursing covers that I carried around everywhere with Annie and Judah but neither of them cared to be covered during the feeding (and throwing on a giant nursing poncho kind of draws attention). When Lisi was 10 days old I fed her on the subway for the first time. I think that was my first time nursing in public. It was totally fine. Slowly I started getting more comfortable with the idea and realized I can nurse pretty much ANYWHERE.
One of the list serves I’m on sent out this email: 
“Last week at the Spuyten Duyvil branch of the NYPL a library employee asked a breast-feeding woman to cover up while nursing or leave the toddler story time….. if you support a mother’s right to breastfeed in public, please join us for a “nurse-in” this Thursday….”

A nurse-in??? How cool is that? I’d never heard of one and wasn’t sure what to expect but figured if anything, it would give me something to blog about. I was one of the first to get there and wasn’t really sure who was there for story time and who was part of this little nurse-in, but I kind of went with the flow and headed on to story time. After a round of If you’re happy and you know it and The wheels on the bus, the librarian started reading. All of a sudden it was like a flash mob of nursers. One by one boobs popped out. And I totally joined in.

I left shortly after but from what I heard, it was a complete success. A year ago, I never would have imagined myself doing this but I’m really happy I did! I used to think it was inappropriate when moms would nurse anywhere. I totally would have judged myself but now I get it. I don’t think I’m a better mother because I breast feed and I don’t think Lisi is any healthier (I do think I’m a little richer though, formula is quite costly!). I do it simply because we both like it. 

Just a little info on breast feeding in public in New York. You have the right:
  • To breastfeed your baby in any public or private place where you have a right to be.
  • This includes stores, day care centers, doctors’ offices, restaurants, parks, movie theaters and many other places.
  • No one can tell you to leave any of these places because you are breastfeeding, and no one can tell you to breastfeed in a bathroom, a basement or a private room.
Moral of the story? Do what works for YOU. I don’t care what you do. And don’t mess with a breast feeding mama or she’ll get all her friends to stage a nurse-in. And believe me, that’s a lot of boob.