Archive for the 'summer' Category

Weekly Menu, August 21-27 (Paris Parens)

Well, we really are back. Almost three weeks now, and still everyday, I miss our carefree lives overseas. I’ve been reluctant to post again, not wanting to break the spell of our magical month away. Keep it sacred. And yet, here we are in the City, back to reality. More on that later.

Our last two days in Paris we didn’t write about. Probably because we were too conflicted about our departure.

Paris was beautiful. Just as it was when we arrived, but hotter at the change of July to August. We cabbed it to Appartement Blanc on a Sunday, dropped our things, and went out in search of fun. We found it in the Tuileries, at the trampolines. Ten individual trampolines. Two Euro for five minutes of jumping. I would have paid more. The kids loved it. Brilliant, brilliant idea. I may quit my job and bring it to New York.

Jumping, jumping, jumping

Next stop, the amusement park in the Tuileries, where the kids honed their bumper car skills, among other thing. And then home, for dinner out on the square.

The next day, we woke up early(ish) and headed to our local cafe for pain au chocolat, fresh squeezed o.j., cafe creme and espresso. Our last day! Melisa and I wanted to take the kids to the pyramid at the Louvre. And we wanted to walk.

This plan was met with some resistance from the train fetishist, but walk we did, through the Right Bank, and to the Louvre.

Waiting for the metro, in the Marais

On the way discovering some gorgeous streets, shops, passages, like this one:

Here’s the obligatory picture of the kids in front of another monument.

At the pyramid

There was down time.

Time for everyone to get in something they need.

Including our budding photographer Magnolia (or was this Jasper?).

Time for more monuments. Here’s one of my favorites: Notre Dame.

And the resolution of the gelato v. glace smackdown: we declare a tie.

It's all good.

We had a great day!

And then we were off the next morning, too early, too soon. We had just arrived; how could we be going home?

Back at Charles de Gaulle

I took some comfort last week in the words of someone new I met. Try to make a little of every day a vacation. Why wait for those precious weeks every year?

Weekly Menu:

Sunday: Great day on the beach! Chasing it with our version of Diana Kennedy’s Shrimp in Adobo sauce, with rice, avocado, and scallions.

Monday: Pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan, side salad with CSA lettuce

Tuesday: Skirt Steak marinated and grilled with summer squash

Wednesday: Date night for Melisa and I! The kids will have burgers on the grill.

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas with grilled onions, mushrooms, fresh salsa and guacamole

Friday: Grilled whole fish stuffed with scallions and herbs and tomato/cucumber salad

Saturday: Might be time again for pizza on the grill! Melisa and I are partial to a white pizza and the kids like margaritas

May your week be filled with starry nights, sunny days, and melon and olives!


I Love My…. Bensimon Sneakers: A Little Bit of France at Home in Brooklyn

Bensimon sneakers

From France, with love.

It’s no secret that Bensimon sneakers are a popular accessory — but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the French tennis shoes anyway. I adored my purpley-taupe slip-ons last summer, but I walk a ton with the kids and they wore out quickly.

So when we were in France in July, I was happy to see that this year’s version has a much sturdier sole. (And they were less expensive than they are at home. Score!)

I picked up the dark-plum pair of canvas lace-ups above. Wearing them in the sunshine this morning, I felt a teeny bit better about being back home. (But just a teeny bit.)

They come in every color under the sun, including many neutrals, but the brights are really grabbing me. You can buy them online from Bensimon USA ($55) or snag a pair locally at Eric Shoes on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope.

Bensimon Collection

photo via Style Society

(photo via Style Society, which, by the way, has a fun post on color blocking the Parisian way.)


Europe with Kids — France: One Thing I Loved Today

Palm Ray Plage

Palm Ray Plage in Carnon, France.

The “premiere ligne” at the Palm Ray on the beach in Carnon, France.

Leave it to the French to make beach-going more civilized.

Today we booked lounge chairs and a big umbrella on the “first line” — aka the front, closest to the water — at the beach in Carnon, on the Mediterranean. For a few Euros, we got our prime spots, plus lunch and a glass of wine delivered to our chairs — with access to bathrooms, a seaside library (!), and a waiter serving cocktails, San Pellegrino, and desserts — right next to the kids while they played in the sand and surf.

Heaven! (And all thanks to our fabulous hostess, Kim, who KNOWS about all of these wonderful things. Everyone should be so lucky as to have her at their side in the South of France.)

Glass of rosé and, in a while, a mojito? Don’t mind if I do, to both.

Does this exist in the U.S.? We gotta find out.

Palm Ray Plage

Life's a beach. Cheers!

Europe with Kids: Our Big Fat French/Italian Vacation

I should introduce this series of posts by saying that we are a Brooklyn based two-mom family of four, embarking on a month-long European holiday.

The players:

  • Chrissy: mom taking a month off of work. Overstressed, overtired, ready to relax.
  • Melisa: SAHM looking forward to a month-long change of scene. Loves travel more than almost anything.
  • Jasper: About-to-be-seven-year-old, rising second-grader. This is his third trip to Europe, but the first he might remember.
  • Magnolia (Nola): About-to-be-five-year-old, rising kindergartener. Second trip to Europe, but again, first she will remember.

Our itinerary:

  • July 2-3: Paris!
  • July 4-7: Montpellier, France- a beautiful University town in the South of France where we have friends.
  • July 8: Italian Riviera, driving the coast on the way to Tuscany
  • July 9-22: Chianti, Tuscany
  • July 23-30: Back to Montpellier
  • July 31-August 1: Paris again
  • August 2: Back to NYC

This particular post, I wrote on the plane. It may, in fact, be of interest only to our family; you be the judge. More to come on Paris.

Illustration by Kevin Dart via

July 1, 2011:

And we begin! Fits and starts- it’s late afternoon the Friday of Fourth of July weekend. The car service calls early to say that traffic is already a bear and they will be there shortly. Do we want to take the bridge instead of the Tunnel? Yes, we do. We make it in record time; probably about 35 minutes to Newark. Supervisors trawl the baggage check line shouting “London 7:20?” and “Madrid 7:35?” We are Paris 9:20, so stand mostly patiently in the line, letting Nola entertain our fellow travelers with a magic trick: close your eyes and she’ll make her baggage handle “disappear,” shouting “voila!” with a flourish. The strangers seem amused.

On to security. Jasper and Magnolia are pros, taking their shoes off, grabbing bins for their backpacks. The grumpy single woman I let in front of us seems a bit abashed as she struggles with her laptop, sandals and bags while we wait.

Still about 2 hours to kill, and we do it with food. And a glass of Pinot Grigio to take the edge off for Melisa and I. Though our edges are pretty soft now that we’ve extracted ourselves successfully from life at home.

We wait for a recalcitrant plane going to Santo Domingo to leave our gate. Finally, even the airline folks realize it’s not happening and move our flight to a gate down the hall. The kids have been pretty good, but at this point we have been to the bathroom several times and exhausted the newsstand. Time to pull out the iPad, loaded for this purpose with HOURS of movies and TV. At last, they call us. And we’re off!

Couple of things about this flight: first, no one EVER stops talking. Not our kids, not the flight crew. We are well-informed. In English AND French. And there are, of course, lots of questions and commentary from the kiddos. There’s not really any point in trying to have an introspective moment about this month-long getaway but I try to sneak a couple in anyway.

Second: what happened to free wine on international flights? Did it go away so first class could have BEDS to sleep on? Seriously, those commercials are for real, there are beds up there. Seven dollars for a glass of red, but Melisa has her card out, and it seems wrong not to have wine on your way to France. Even if it’s 11:30 pm and you’ve been up since 3 am. Which is another story.

Third: a note about food. Second dinner is served at 11:15. I’m not hungry. But I get it anyway. My years as a business traveler made me leery of passing up food on planes. I feel the same way about subway seats. You never know in either place how long you are going to be traveling, so take the seat and when food presents itself on a plane, eat it (or at least some of it). I once got on a plane going to California and had to sit on a runway for 5 hours with nothing but mints to eat. That wasn’t good. And how many times have I circled for hours over Newark? I’m so concerned we’ll be hungry that I overcompensate with snacks from home. Tonight we have enough to share. Anybody want some almonds? Or apple slices?

As an aside, I miss first class. The truth is that it’s pretty wonderful. That time when I was sitting on a runway at Newark for 5 hours eating my weight in altoids? A rare flight where I didn’t get upgraded. And you know what? They served dinner in first class while we starved in coach. Oh yes, the fresh-baked cookies, the cushy seats, the champagne, the cleaner bathroom. Another time, another life.

At midnight, Magnolia has curled into a ball and gone to a fitful sleep. Jasper has finished watching his movie, and now I will coax him to sleep. Melisa just put down her magazine. And I am going to put down the IPad and try to catch some winks.

July 2- we arrive

We are a mere 20 minutes from touching down in Paris! I think I probably slept about an hour last night, but the adrenaline rush from almost being in Paris is giving me a boost. Except I just noticed the iPad clock says 4:38 (that’s a.m.). Feeling tired again.

8 Things I’m Excited to Do with the Kids in Paris

eiffeltower by esharkdesign

photo via esharkdesign


No time to post, really, but here’s a quickie…. As you might have noticed, we’re GOING AWAY. To France and Italy. To see good friends, to explore on our own, to enjoy good food and wine, to relax big-time en famille.

We’re kicking things off this weekend in ParisMagnolia keeps saying she’s so excited because we’re going to Pareeee! (she insists on saying it in French, which makes me happier than I can actually convey in this post.) Jasper is excited, too — here’s what I’m looking forward to doing with them in the City of Light.

Jumping on trampolines in the Tuileries Garden — This seems like an excellent post-flight kid activity for the afternoon of our arrival, doesn’t it? The kids will have been cooped up on the plane for hours and will be jet-lagged out of their minds — so go bounce your brains out! May it exhaust you even more completely.

Riding the rides — you can take a steam train from Porte Maillot to get there! — and seeing the animals at Le Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Letting them run wild in the Gardens at The Champs de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Fingers crossed for good photo opps.

Visiting the play area and carousel — and ponies! and boats in the fountains! — in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Eating ice cream at Berthillon and gobbling up Nutella crepes on the street.

Taking the Metro — Jasper will be in heaven! And so will I. All of the many, many times I hopped on and off the Metro in Paris when I lived there in my 20s (my 20s!), and later when I visited the city but still before kids, I never could have imagined I’d one day be getting on and off with my happily train-obsessed son.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night. Because seeing the Eiffel Tower at night is one of those things that makes you happy to be ALIVE.

If there’s time, the playground at the Parc de la Villette, not far from where I used to live.

That ought to keep us busy for the couple of days we’ll be there. Then, we’re heading south!

Paris-with-kids ideas and inspiration via Ciao Bambino, Pret a Voyager, and our friend Kim (a bientot!)


Family-Friendly Apartments to Rent in Paris

T Is for Travel: 16 Family Travel Tips


NYC Public Pools Open for the 2011 Season Tomorrow, June 29!

Red Hook swimming pool

One more reason to love Red Hook: the biggest damn swimming pool you've ever seen.

Everybody in the pool!

Today was the last day of NYC public school — which means Pre-K and First Grade are officially history at our house. (Sniff, sniff. Those moving-up ceremonies are some serious kind of emotional business, aren’t they?)

The next few days will be a wild flail of packing for a month for four people, ad hoc meal prep, last-minute errand-running, and, oh yeah — dealing with the kids, who are no longer conveniently deposited at P.S. 295 from the hours of 8:30 am – 3:15 pm. Which means….

There’s a good chance you can spot us at the Red Hook or Douglass and DeGraw pools before we head out of town — NYC public pools open for the season tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29.

Here’s more on the best swimming pools in New York City, public and otherwise — plus the lowdown on the rules (don’t forget your lock for the locker room, etc.) FYI, outdoor pool hours are 11 am – 7pm, with a break for cleaning from 3 to 4 pm.

And, besides pools, here are 15 of the best places for kids to get wet in NYC. On the list: Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6.

No more school — keep it real and stay cool, peeps! Happy summer!


Friday Blog Crush: Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom

Design Mom

gabrielle blair

photo via: Gabrielle Blair / Design Mom -- Isn't she cute?

Loving Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom this week and wanted to introduce you to her on the off-chance that you’re not already a reader.

Here’s why I’m crushing:

* Who she is as a blogger is perfectly clear, and I find that inspiring. She says of herself that she is a designer and mother of six, and she posts on “where design and motherhood intersect.” Brilliant.

* She’s a mother of six — !!!!!! (That’s six exclamation points, one for each kid.) Wow. Talk about “I don’t know how she does it.”

* Her site introduces me to new and beautiful things and ideas all the time. Like these tiny, adorable owl-shaped crayons.

* She has an awesome, accessible voice — I feel like we’re having a friendly conversation when I’m reading.

* Last — and this one is a biggie — she and her family have moved to France for a year! I’m experiencing big-time envy. They were featured on House Hunters International (which I love), and we happened to catch the episode this week. Fun! They had three amazing homes to choose from — here’s the fabulous house that they settled on, in Normandy:

La Cressonniere

La Cressonniere, photo via Design Mom

Feeling like you might want to make a move abroad, too? I know I am. Here’s more on the house the Blair family is living in, as well as some great links to sites where you can find furnished, long-term rentals.

And here’s a great post Gabrielle wrote on financing a move abroad.

Check out Design Mom! See the 10 posts to get you started on her home page — including this cute porch makeover that she did on her own home before moving to France. (We have the same, exact red mailbox hanging in front of our house!)


And now, for some unrelated weekend goodness:

Take the kids to the NEW part of the Highline — it’s open! And it features Rainbow City, an inflatable sculpture garden that kids can explore, via Mommy Poppins.

Bought one of Diana Kane’s open circle pendant necklaces for myself this week (thanks, mom!) and am loving it, too. Maybe it’s time for you to drop in and see what catches your eye for the summer?

Last…. Mother’s Day is a bit of a stress and a flail in our house — who takes care of mom? — but the pressure’s off for Father’s Day! Happy Dad’s Day, though, if you’ve got one to fete in your house.

Have fun celebrating family!

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