Archive for February, 2010

Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Brooklyn coasters from Fishs Eddy

Brooklyn coasters, set of 10 from Fishs Eddy, $4

I’m way too over the snow to post a snowy Brooklyn pic today, thus the Fishs Eddy coasters which, by the way, we have. And they are very cute. So anyway….

Freda Rosenfeld, Brooklyn’s breastfeeding guru. — NY Times (via Brokelyn)

Company coming? Best B&Bs for $150 or less. — Brokelyn

Cute J. Crew finds + more for spring. — Fabulous in Park Slope

Pre-K applications begin March 1 (uh-huh.) — NYC Department of Education

The Park Slope Parents Guide to a Successful Nanny SharePark Slope Parents

12th Annual BAM Kids Film Festival, on this weekend. — BAM

Make a plan to get outta the ‘hood with Maple Sugar Weekend Day Trips. — Mommy Poppins

Can I take my new baby outside? — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

A Park Slope Family Rec Room (major sigh….) — Brownstoner

The Secret Life of the Whole Foods Lot. — Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

A week of free yoga in Fort Greene. — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

For staying in, Honey Butternut Squash Soup.Not Eating Out in New York

Or, if you get cabin fever…. Treat yourself to lunch-to-go this weekend — a sauteed greens + ricotta sandwich for you, house-made almond butter + strawberry jam for the you-know-who’s. Plus an amazing array of gourmet provisions. — Bklyn Larder

Stay warm out there, mamas!

I Love My Franco Sarto Crossbody Bag!

Franco Sarto Journey Crossbody Bag

Franco Sarto Journey Crossbody Bag, $58, from zappos

All moms know the right bag is essential. We’re past the diaper bag stage, but I still need a bag that’s uber-functional, and it had to fill several specific requirements. Here’s what I was looking for in the perfect urban mom bag.

  • It had to be a crossbody bag — hands-free is a non-negotiable. Fashion can be priority number one at another time in my life. For now, as a Stay-at-Home mom, practicality rules.
  • It couldn’t look like a messenger bag — not my look. And this one is tricky, because many crossbody styles are some version of a messenger bag.
  • It had to be a bright, fun color — no black or brown.
  • It had to be big enough to hold all of my things — iPhone, wallet, sunglasses for me and the kids, random gloves, snacks, and tissues — but not so big that it looked bulky on my hip. (I have big hips — extra bulk-age in that area is not a good thing.) It needed somehow to be roomy and have plenty of compartments, but also to be trim.

I looked endlessly, and flirted with many Fossil bags. They’re leather, have that European look I was after, and are well-made. But closer inspection in person left me cold — styles were either too small, too bulky, or not in a color I was loving.

In the end, I found this Franco Sarto Journey Crossbody bag online. It met all of my requirements and also came with a foldable tote that I thought might prove useful for neighborhood errand runs, and I’m happy to report that it has.

Last, it was way more affordable than all of the leather bags I’d been eying — a point I appreciated more when Magnolia spilled an entire glass of milk on it approximately two weeks after I’d gotten it. (FYI, the nylon canvas held up to that very well.)

More things we love:

Expedit Bookcase from Ikea

“All out of” Shopping List and “What to Eat” Planner from Anthropologie

Health and First Aid Essentials

Review: Children’s Museum of the Arts

Children's Museum of the Arts in SoHo

Get the arty started at the Children's Museum of the Arts.

Winter break is over — hallelujah! We barely made it out alive. By the end of the week, I was looking for new ground to cover, so we headed off someplace we hadn’t been before — the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo. Here’s what we found.

What it is:

CMA is a place for your child to get creative in all sorts of ways. Explore and have fun through classes, exhibitions, open art and guided workshops, Wee-Arts (for toddlers), performing arts, a media lab, spring and summer arts programs, and more.

We went for the Open Art Studio and Guided Workshops — check the calendar for a daily update on what projects you might encounter. There are stations set up throughout the large space and your kid can move from table to table as he wishes — some projects are guided by an artist on hand and some are more free-form.

At one table, we made magic wands (a big hit) and at others we built a bridge, did self-portraits and dot art, and worked with watercolors and clay. You get to bring all projects home, of course, and they even had a roomy bag for me to transport them in (next time, I’ll remember to bring my own.)

Have your kids wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty because, naturally, everything is super hands on — they’ll be diving into paint, glue, and goo of all kinds before you know it.

Children's Museum of the Arts

Children's Museum of the Arts

The art stations are only half of the picture — head downstairs for the Ball Pond and a mini-theater area where kids can dress up and see themselves on TV. The Ball Pond, you won’t be surprised to hear, was wild fun — Jasper, 5, loved it and got some good, exhausting physical play in; Magnolia, 3, was a little overwhelmed and eventually decamped to the theater.

Children's Museum of the Arts

Wildness in the Ball Pond.

What it costs:

Admission is $10 a person, so for a family of three, we paid $30, which includes all art project materials. (Pay what you wish on Thursdays from 4 – 6.)

Where it is:

CMA is in Soho at 182 Lafayette Street between Broome and Grand Streets. Here are their hours.

What we thought of the place:

We had an awesome time and are definitely going back! In fact, Jasper asked if we could go back the next day (the Ball Pond made a big impression.) It was two solid hours of entertainment and arty fun.

Another crafty destination:

Moomah Cafe in Tribeca

Should We Expect More from Our Caregivers than from Ourselves?

mad mom

I am losing it! (image from Retrographix)

I had lunch the other day with a mom friend who was looking to hire a very part-time nanny for her son — to share with another family for a couple of hours one day a week. She had already offered the position to the woman when she happened to overhear the nanny with her other full-time charge. It was time to leave preschool and the kid wasn’t cooperating — she told him he was acting like a baby and she threatened to leave without him.

That was it for my friend — she decided not to hire the lady and said she would absolutely take issue with the nanny condescending to her son that way. Unacceptable.

I kind of hoped we could just change the subject but when she went on for a bit and made it clear she was mildly outraged by what the nanny had said, I copped to the fact that I’ve probably said the same thing. I couldn’t give you a date and time or anything, but I’m sure at some point, when someone was tantrum-ing out, lying on the ground, crying, and refusing to leave someplace, I probably said something along the lines of “come on now, you’re acting like a baby” and “OK, I’m leeeaving now….” As in, stop that — get up, please, and let’s go.

After I admitted my sin, my friend said, OK, she had probably said the same thing at some point, too. But she expects more — better, more controlled behavior — from someone she pays. She expects more from a caregiver than from herself.

Hhmmm. I’m not sure what I think about that. Full-time kid-wrangling is a tough job and sometimes frustrating — whether you’re the mom or the caregiver. I’m not always 100 percent happy with the choices I make during any given day and I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect a nanny to be above reproach either.

What do you think? Should we expect better behavior from a caregiver than we expect from ourselves? Does paying someone mean they shouldn’t make the same “mistakes” moms sometimes make?

Four Health and First-Aid Essentials for Kids

It’s a good thing our kids have hard heads. I can’t count the number of times they have fallen. Typical story: just a few weeks ago, Magnolia and one of her friends began running down the street (“Simon Says Run!”), and immediately ran into each other, both hitting the pavement hard. Thonk! went Nola’s head. Boing! beat my heart out of my chest.

These health and first-aid essentials take some of the stress out of these mean streets.

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer, $49.99 at Babies R Us

A forehead thermometer takes the guesswork out of fevers. Hold down the blue button and run this along your child’s crown, from temple to center of the forehead. Release the button and voilà! the temperature is revealed. While I noticed Consumer Reports does not recommend these kinds of thermometers for children under 3, we have used ours since Nola was a baby and been quite happy.

Bruise creme, $6.99 on

When Magnolia was a new walker, she took a big spill that left her with an ugly scrape around her eye. It happened on our first day of vacation in France, and we were pretty upset. The bruise creme our host offered took the black and blue out of the injury overnight. Poor Nola still had an ugly scab, but no black eye. We’ve continued to use it frequently at home with good results.

Gel packs are a staple of the fridge wherever we go. Ours is so beloved that it has a name: Mr. Boo Boo.  We  trot it out whenever anyone has a bump or a bruise. These are inexpensive, and sold everywhere, from grocery stores to high-end kids’ places. Sure, you can use a bag of frozen peas (sometimes more helpful for a bigger injury), but these packs are easier for the little ones to take because they’re not quite so cold.

Gel pack, $12.00 @ Amazon

Dry skin? Chapped skin? Small scrape? Aquaphor to the rescue! It’s an all-season fix-it for numerous skin issues. I don’t leave home without it.

14 oz, $13.60 on

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Children’s Tylenol, Neosporin with pain relief or without, and flexible fabric band-aids that stay on through hours in the water. We should have bought stock in those workhorses (and AA batteries, too).

Other favorites:

A Few of My Favorite Things: Great Gifts for Baby Showers

I Love My “All Out of” Shopping List and “What to Eat” Planners

I Love My Expedit

A Peek at Spring

spring flowers at Eagle Provisions

Hello, happy hyacinths!

First daffodils and hyacinths at Eagle Provisions. Can spring be far behind? (Please, spring, don’t be far behind.)

Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Brooklyn brownstones

Yo, Brooklyn moms — more ideas for keepin’ it local.

Indoor Play Spaces in Brooklyn — Mommy Poppins

Coming in from the Cold! at Lefferts Historic House Museum — TimeOut New York Kids

Handmade Everything (and an in-house silhouette artist) at the Brooklyn Women’s ExchangeA Child Grows in Brooklyn (see this week’s Family Flat for Sale post on ACGIB, too. still digging it.)

Brooklyn Food & Drink Round-UpBrownstoner

Moonlight Chocolate CakeA Cake Bakes in Brooklyn

Is Coney Island Coming Back This Summer? — The Brooklyn Paper

Snow Day Redux

And it’s only 10 in the morning.

Valentine’s Day: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Crayon-a-Thon Coloring Marathon — The fabulous Mommy Poppins

Love Is in the Air aerial circus benefit performance for SLAM Kids in Control program — again, Mommy Poppins

A Quickie Plan for Valentine’s Day with Your Honey (though I take issue with the Sofia Coppola hatred — I like her!) — ad hoc MOM

I’m liking this new real estate feature from ACGIB — Family Flat: Park Slope 2 BR + Nursery and Roof Deck FSBO — A Child Grows in Brooklyn

Williamsburg’s New CupcakelandBrooklyn Paper

Robin Hood: Prince of… MONSTERS!” at the Brooklyn Lyceum & Haiti Relief Sale by the MOMS Club of Park Slope — Brownstoner

The Snow Queen” & “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” now playing  — Puppetworks

Family Mornings at Baco Cafe in DUMBO — TimeOut New York Kids

A Modern-Looking Co-SleeperSwissMiss

Orange Double-Chocolate Chunk Cookies (mmm…) — chowmama

And — New Blue Marble opening Sunday in Cobble Hill, 192 Court Street at Wyckoff, first 50 scoops FREE, starting at noon! (Might be a mob scene, but even if it is, worth sticking around for scoops you have to pay for. Seriously good ice cream.) — @BBDeals

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Great Gifts for Baby Showers

It seems there are A LOT of babies being born right now. We’ve bought four baby gifts in the last month alone.

It’s fun to think back to the infant age and the gifts that just KEPT ON GIVING! You know the ones! Here is a short list that includes a few of our favorites that are affordable enough to give to office colleagues and wonderful enough to include as part of a gift to a good friend. Drumroll, please:

Sophie the Giraffe, $15.80 on Amazon

Sophie the Giraffe: given to Jasper by the fabulous Kim M., good friend and connection to all things French. We’ve had three Sophie’s in our house, and every one of them has been gnawed on with love for a long, long time. Short story: a French teether for babies, kind of seems like a squeak toy for dogs (yes, she does squeak). Her long neck makes it easy for babies to hold, and, well, they love her. I mean really love her.

Nightlight: you need one of these in the nursery, and yet, I don’t remember seeing it on any nursery must-have list when we were expecting Jasper. We wised up when Magnolia was on the way and received these fab mod Oxo Candela lights from our friend Helene. They have proven perfect for transitioning to toddler and child days. And for infants? Great for those middle of the night wake-up calls; they give off a soft light, just enough that you can see your baby…and your way back to your bed.

Oxo Candela Rechargeable Lights, $37 on Amazon

Books! I think books are the perfect gift for new parents. One of our favorites, recommended by our friend Karen, is Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. This book came with a ringing endorsement: even at five years, Karen’s son still sometimes asked for it at bedtime. Where’s Spot? THERE’S SPOT!

$7.99 at

And for the sleep-deprived parent: The Three-Martini Playdate by Christie Mellor. Essential. Reading. I felt a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole when I had a new baby. This is a hilarious look at the business of capital P “parenting,” and a nice reality check to the modern demands on mothers and fathers.


Another sure bet: soft, kimono-style cotton onesies. The key with these is that you can take them on and off a baby without necessarily waking her, because nothing has to be pulled over her head. Saks Fifth Avenue has a very soft house brand that we love. And Petit Bateau is always a fave:

Petit Bateau Kimono onesie, $19 for one @ Saks Fifth Avenue

And finally, something I only give very good friends: the Miracle Blanket. Seriously takes the guess work out of making a baby burrito, a key element to good sleep (for parents and babies). The Swaddle Me? Both of our kids could bust out of that thing anytime they felt like it. The Miracle Blanket turned them into an ice cream cone: blanket on the bottom (nice and snug), and sweet baby head on the top (eyes closed). The “miracle” is both the ease of using this and that the baby then falls asleep. Ahhh.

$29.95 at

So there you have it.  Baby shower success (and without breaking the bank).

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