5/30/11

Governors Island

Every time I adore NYC, it's usually when it reminds me of San Francisco. Is that so wrong? This happened to me on Saturday when we took a trip to Governors Island. It reminded me of the Presidio in San Francisco. Only, I think I like Governors Island more. Here's some reasons why:
The only way to get there is by boat! And it's free! You can either take a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn. It took about five minutes to get to the island. We didn't have to wait in a long line, and the kids felt like they were going on a true adventure.  Click here for directions and ferry schedule. 
On the island: No cars. Only kick scooters, bikes, and I suppose these roller skates if you wanted. The island felt massive. And like my trip to the NY Botanical Gardens, I didn't feel like I was fighting for my space. I knew a lot of people were on the island, but I didn't feel them. Or hear them. It was so nice to be away from all the racket. And see some new things. FYI: Free bike rentals on Fridays!
What really made me fall in love with the island was the free events. And not the kind of lame activities that you have to wait in line a million hours for a turn. There's sooo many really good ones for kids and adults that we didn't get to everything. Click here to see all of the free events this summer. 
The Big Apple Circus is there every Saturday and Sunday for juggling lessons. Not like Owen needs any, he's a natural juggler. The most serious juggler you'll ever meet.  Look how easily he caught all those balls. Such an amazing child that Owen. 

(red shorts day 6)
The Children's Museum of the Arts will be there every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check out some of their stations below in the pictures. My favorite activity the CMA provided was the art rental kits (I forgot to take a picture of this). Here's how it works: Parents leave their ID, and they can borrow an art kit for their kids to draw around the island. It's filled with charcoals, water colors, paper, pencils etc. Such a great idea! Adults can join in on this activity too. 



We decided to take the ferry back to Brooklyn. On our walk to the subway, we stopped in at a perfect restaurant. I'll post about it tomorrow.  Until then, start planning your trip to Governors Island.  You won't be disappointed. 

5/27/11

Central Park

Real nature. All those wild animals. Unmarked trails. Being alone! Central Park gives me just the amount of nature I like. Controlled nature. Almost artificial. The grass is well maintained and probably poisened with somesort of chemical to keep it green. Some of the trees are low enough to swing on or climb. The fields are large enough to practice walking silly.  The sidewalks are paved and there's tons of playgrounds. Most of the animals are on leashes. There's always someone playing an instrument or tap dancing or having a picnic nearby. But, most of all, Central Park eases my guilt for not giving my kids a backyard.
I think someone stepped on a butterfly. Tragic, I know.

5/25/11

80 is the magic number

 As soon as the tempeture hit 80 degrees (around 12pm today), a couple of guys walked onto the playground and turned on the sprinklers. For a second, I'm sure these guys felt like they have the best job in the world. It was a pretty thrilling site to see all the kids gasp and squeal and run circles around the hippos.  Let the summer games begin! 
For a list of some of the best sprinklers and water features in NYC click here and here. Both lists are not comprehensive. Basically every park I've ever been to in Manhattan has some sort of water feature, some better than others. Can't wait to find my favorite. I heard the one on 79th and Riverside is one of the best. What is your favorite park in NYC to get wet? Do you love/hate the sprinklers at your parks? Or backyard (lucky you!)?   
 Which reminds me, the wet bathing suits are still in the tub. I need to hang them up. I think we'll try this again tomorrow.  Whatever we do, I'll make sure one of the boys wears the red shorts. I'm 3 for 3 this week.   

5/24/11

American Girl in New York City

This is exactly what I want to wear this summer.  Love the length and cap sleeves. And those sandals! The belt. Timeless. I can't find it anywhere. Help! Shabby Apple are you reading this? See more photos from Beth Orkin's American Girl series here. 

simple day



 Look! I pushed my kids on the swings today. Mom of the Year with selfish motives!  Once I realized I could experiment with different angles and settings on my camera, it made it more fun for me. I pushed the boys 5 times and then took 5 pictures. Everyone was entertained.  Especially Oscar. He made it his mission to kick me in the face. Such a sweet boy. 
Do your kids enjoy kicking you in the face? Is that the outfit that Owen wore yesterday? Why, yes it is. Are those hand-me-down pink flip flops with cherries on it? Yes, they are. 
Do I deserve to be kicked in the face over it? Maybe. 

5/23/11

Imagination Playground

I literally stumbled into one of the coolest playgrounds today. I was suppose to meet a friend in Brooklyn, but plans changed quickly when Oscar realized he forgot his backpack at home and started crying while we were riding the subway. I got off the next stop because I didn't want to go too far from home with a cranky kid. 
And so here we were on Fulton St! Never been! The excitement of the wind tunnels between the huge buildings and a promise of donuts got Oscar out of his mood. On our way to the bakery (that ended up not even having donuts), we passed the Imagination Playground. It was as if we found gold.
Imagination Playground a new kind of playground that includes loose parts, a manipulative environment, and even a hired play associate! Totally impressed. The boys created horses, then turned the blocks into a fire engine, and then made towers. The park provided sand toys, a clean bathroom, and no swings. Swings are the worst. I push the boys in the stroller all day long, the last thing I want to do is push them in the swings. Who's with me? 
It was kind of chilly, so the water feature wasn't turned on, but I bet it's awesome. Not quite as awesome as Owen having an accident in his pants! But close. Good thing I grabbed extra shorts before I left the house today.
This is yet another example why I'm falling in love with NYC. Sure the weather is terrible. It's been raining for two weeks! But there's so much to do even when I make a wrong turn.  What are some things you've stumbled across while wondering around the city? Tell me! All I do is tourist stuff!  

5/22/11

Cloisters 101

My family took a cab up to The Cloisters today. The whole day felt very San Francisco. Dark and foggy, slightly cold, and really green. Stunning! It's located on the very top of Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park and affiliated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It houses European Medieval art and architecture along with beautiful walkways and gardens. A much needed break from crazy city life!

Here's four things I learned from taking the kids to The Cloisters:
1. My kids adored running around the grounds outside the museum.  Once we got inside the cloister, it became stressful for us to say "stop running" and "shhh" so we didn't stay long. Just long enough for me to take 173 pictures.
2. The admission inside the museum is recommended. Pay what you can afford at the front desk. If you buy online, you pay the full recommended price ($20 for adults, kids 12 and under free).  
3.  New Leaf Restaurant! The tables outside in the gardens (shown below in white) only do a drink service, but sometimes that's just enough.  Inside, we're told, the food is really good.
4. Next time I go, I want to show the kids the Unicorn Tapestries.  Unicorns are universally interesting to kids, right?



Have you ever been to the Cloisters? Did I miss something? How do you make art museums interesting for your kids? One rule I try to follow: Stay under an hour!

5/21/11

Happy Birthday Rob. You're my favorite.


Happy Birthday Rob. You're my favorite. 
Rob likes to keep his Birthdays extremely low key. His mother warned me that he's been like this since he was a boy. I've been married to him for almost 8 years and I'm still trying to figure out how to celebrate it. This year I decided to do nothing. No cake. No wrapped presents. No special dinner. He was completely happy with this idea.
But the problem was me. I started treating today like it was a normal day. Barking at him for not cleaning up after lunch. Getting annoyed because he still hadn't unpacked his suitcase from his work trip. It had been sitting in our bedroom since Thursday night.
This, apparently, is not what he wanted for his birthday. My argument: I thought you didn't want to do anything special today! And I went on ranting and raving. I'm sure my neighbors heard me and think I'm an absolute moron.
After my lecture, I walked out of the apartment with three loads of laundry to the basement. It was good I got out to give me sometime to think. And that's when it came to me:  while he didn't need presents and balloons and banners, I did. To remind myself that this was a day to be nice to him. I finally figured this out 8 birthdays too late. So I walked out of my building and picked up his favorite dinner from the Greek restaurant around the corner. And then I picked up his favorite snacks: Double stuffed Oreo cookies and those crappy powdered donuts from the drugstore. I was tempted to wrap them with a big bow, but I resisted.
Now I know. Next birthday I'll buy a few simple things to give him throughout the day. Not that he'll necessarily want anything, but to remind myself to be nice. At least I have Father's day around the corner to make up for it. I love you Rob. Happy Birthday. You're my favorite times three.

Things to do with kids in Greenwich Village

Friday's to do list: Buy a birthday present for Ella's French loving, vintage inspired friend Madeline. She's turning seven and is one of my favorite people. She's an avid reader, sometimes speaks with a faux English accent, and has told me she likes classic things. She even has her own fabulous private blog. Ha.
For her present, Ella and I took a trip to Greenwich Village. It turned out to be a fun date. The stores we found are all on Christopher Street. Here's what we did:
1. The Greenwich Letterpress, 39th Christopher St.
This is one of those stores with ironic letterpress cards, decorative owls, twine, striped paper straws, and notebooks for sale with tiny bikes on the cover.  I would love to hate this place for being so obviously cute and vintage and campy, but I don't. Instead, I love everything about it. It's the perfect store to buy something small, like a stationary set with French words on the packaging or kitchy buttons that say "Happy Birthday! Today is your Day!" or "One Year Wiser". Even the guy behind the counter was so nice, helpful, and normal. He wrapped the present for Madeline. I could have spent some more time exploring this tiny store.  Shamelessly, I'll be back.


2. Corrado Bread and Pastry35 Christopher St.
We bought homemade lemonade and Ella got a yogurt. Nothing fancy, but it's next to the letterpress store and had nice people inside. I'm sure there is a fabulous bakery nearby with better food, but this one suited our needs for a quick snack. 
3. Last we played with the adorable dogs at Le Petit Puppy NYC. 18 Christopher St.
Ella found a French Bulldog that she called her best friend (below, left). Then named it Penny. She kept saying, "Jump! Penny, jump! Roll over! Penny! Roll over!" She said it would be the perfect dog for our family and it would make Dad so happy. Ha. It was the craziest dog in the store and over $2,000. Obviously, we didn't take it home. It's still there and probably still jumping.

Then we went home and I took Ella to the party. What a fun day. Try it!  

5/19/11

Pictures of Identical Twins

Usually the first question strangers ask me is, "Twins? Are the identical?". My answer is yes and yes.  It makes me feel like such an idiot when people then say, "They arrrrrrre? Are you sure? They don't look it." I don't care if they are or aren't, but it's annoying to argue something that they asked in the first place. I always have to explain that there was one placenta and one sack (chorion) with a thin membrane dividing the two babes. And while this is the most common type of identical twins, I suppose there is a small chance that the placenta fused and blah blah blah. In short: The only way to know for sure is to take a DNA test.
I'm sort of tempted to get one. Or perhaps a photoshopped official looking DNA Identical Twin certificate will do. Shrunken down to fit in my wallet. And laminated! That would save me $160 dollars and give me the last word every time. "Look here, it's an official DNA test certificate! Proof!" Nope, that won't work. I feel like an idiot for even thinking of that idea.
Here's the pictures I took today. I wanted to put them side by side for comparison. They do look different, I know. But I promise they're identical. If Owen would stop scowling for one second, I could prove it. Maybe I should just say fraternal and be done with it. But, secretly, I think it's cooler if they are identical. Maybe I do care. Someone draft up a certificate stat!
What about you? Do you have twins? Are people always arguing what type they are?

5/18/11

Love/Hate relationship with the Children's Museum of Manhattan

OHhhh boy. The mind numbing second floor of the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).  The theme: The Adventures of Dora and Diego!  No benches or chairs for the parents to sit, which encourages the helicopter moms/nannies to force suggest my kids to take turns or worse: SHARE. I don't know who this mom is sitting with the yellow shoes (above), but I relate to her. Bulky unfashionable backpack. Fist of Fury. The Not Again - Where's My Kid Now? neck turn.  I always praise myself for taking my kids here. Something easy and classic like: I'm the best mom in the world for sitting next to a painting of Benny the Bull. And so is she. And her. And her. 
As much as I would like to make fun of CMOM, I go all the time. Twice this week!  Read on to see my tips for making the most out of CMOM.
1. Go in with low expectations. Don't compare it to any children's museum you've ever visited. The three I've been to (Brooklyn, San Jose, and Bay Area), are at least triple the size. Like most things in Manhattan, I get the sense that they are squeezing in as much as the can with the small space they have. 
2. A lot of the kids who go to this museum are around 18 months old. That means it's super packed from 10am-12:30. The slowest times are from 12:30-2:30 because lunch/nap time sends the littles home. Go then!
3. That being said, I think most of the best exhibits are geared for kids under the age of 6. This museum is especially exciting for 3-4 year olds.  
4. The best restrooms are on the Lower Level floor. Not the 3rd floor, too busy. 
5. I adore the Lower Level for more than it's bathroom. It has a huge room with boxes filled with not so traditional building blocks. The shape is described as being long and thin, like a plank. I tried to find the blocks online, but learned they are specially designed for CMOM.  The activity is simple, quiet, and fun for me and the kids. I could stay down there all day but once the boys start chanting, "I want to go see Dora, Mom! DOra! DORA!", I give up on building my dream block city. 
6. The 4th floor is the same way. Quiet, a few things are broken, and more simple exhibits. 
7. No food is aloud anywhere in the museum. I recommend Artie's Deli for a meal or Cafe Deux Mergot for a small snack.
Despite it's setbacks, the boys love everything about CMOM. I love that it's walking distance from my house, and that it's a great place to spend three hours when the weather is horrible. It's displayed the same exhibits since I moved here, so I'm excited to check out the new Curious George exhibit on the first floor. It will open on June 11th.  Let the new chant begin: "I want to see Curious George, Mom! George! GEORGE!" Oh, all right. Fine. Let me knock over my block city first.  
So how did I do? Do the pictures capture the feelings of the Dora floor at CMOM? Do you have a children's museum in your town? Love it or Hate it? 

5/17/11

wall hooks

 I need a rain jacket. I'm currently using an $8 poncho from CVS. And it has a hole in it! Classy. The kids need rain coats too. Ella wore a fireman jacket she found in the dress up box to school today. I would say use it, but it needs a hood. I've been so unlucky with umbrellas, so hooded rain jackets seem the best bet. With all these jackets coming into our house, we needed some more coat racks. We fell in love with the classic Eames Hang-It-All ($199) but bought this knock-off for well over half the price ($46).  Rob installed last week at kid height with high hopes that they would actually use it. Still waiting for that to happen. The most use it's gotten from the kids is when Owen tested it's strength by hanging onto it while he walked his feet up the wall. Thanks Owen! We know it's secure now.

Rainy Days in NYC

Rain is in the forecast until Saturday. Boo. Pushing a double stroller uphill while holding an umbrella is the worst. So to get me and my friends through this week, I've put together a list of three classic things to do at home. Including a playlist! With Links! This post was inspired by Micheal Jackson's radio station on Pandora. It all started out with Beat It! The perfect song for a pillow fight. No one wants to be defeated. Especially Oscar.
Here's five more pillow fighting songs for your playlist:
Whip It by Devo
Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas and Vivian Hawke
Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar
Stand by R.E.M
Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J (the clean version? No?! Still too much for 3 year olds?) 
After the pillow fighting, Toilet Paper Mummies are a good way to make a mess that you'll be cleaning up for days! Again, Michael Jackson starts things off with Thriller.
From there add:
Ghostbusters Theme Song (of course, no playlist is complete with out this classic!)
Scooby Doo Theme Song
And finally, end with flying lessons. Micheal Jackson's song about flying is lame so here's what I came up with:
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles
Fly by Nick Drake (humor me, I adore this song. The kids won't like it at all.)
Superman Theme Song (it's over 4 minutes long ha!)
Let's Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins
Fly by Nick Drake (Again! That'll show em who's boss around here.)
There it is. That should give you around 45 minutes of something to do this week. An hour if you repeat the Superman Theme Song a few times. But I'm not suggesting that as an option to my boys. They would be all over that. What songs did I miss? What do you on rainy days? Help!

5/13/11

Slate Boards and High School Crushes

When I was in high school, my journals were mostly filled up with entries about my crushes. In order by year: Bo (freshman), Eric (sophomore), Chase (junior), Billy (senior). Countless others I've forgotten and if I had my yearbook handy, they probably would all come flooding back. Nothing ever came out of my crushes. I never even held hands with the guys listed above (haha!), but they made for good writing material.  The typical high school stories of unrequited love.  I didn't know what else to write about, but I liked writing, so I went on and on, page after page. Why doesn't he like me? He's so funny. Maybe we'll get married!! I'm so confused.
Same thing is happening now, except my topic is constantly my kids.  I dabble with my mother's death and sometimes Rob, sometimes myself. But really, I basically just write about my kids. These last two days I've been trying to write a post about the slate boards I saw used in a lot of restaurants in Paris, like the one I went to with Jordan (see above).  I wrote how I started using mine since I've been back. I took pictures of dinner last night (see below). I even had links ready: here and here. But my pictures looked lame compared to the ones I take of my kids. The post felt stale. Then blogger started working against me when it shut down for 20 hours. I gave up.
This scares me. Because this September, all my kids will be in school full time. Something I've been looking forward to since they were born. But now that it's a few months away, I'm nervous. My time as a stay-at-home mom as I know it, will be ending.  What will I want to write about?
I probably could have started the boys in some sort of preschool classes by now to make this transition smoother, but I like the flexibility of waking up and deciding what we want to do. Depending on the weather and how much laundry is done. And how overdue the library books are.
Since I had all my kids by the age of 25, they have consumed my adult life. I'm a mom. I keep expecting to know what I'll do when they start school.  First, I'll take a big sigh of relief. This will continue for about week. Then what? A job! Will the transformation into a working mom be as abrupt as the day my daughter Ella was handed to me at the hospital? I don't know. But I hope it inspires me half as much as my children do. For old times sake, I'll end with my classic conclusion: I'm so confused!


5/11/11

Natural History Museum

I've always been annoyed by parents who think everything their kids do is exceptional.  That being said: I think Oscar's dinosaur impression is legitimately funny. Did I just become that mom?  And I was also impressed by Owen's Telescope DIY. He insisted on viewing the museum through it. Again: Brilliant kid or psycho proud parent? Am I my own worst nightmare?  Give it to me straight. Anonymous comments are welcome!

All pictures by me at the Museum of Natural History
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