Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

So it hasn't been all baby all the time around here.

I've been working like a whirling dervish and am really enjoying the mayhem now. I wouldn't say I've cracked the work life balance thing (by any stretch), but I do think any wistfulness I might have had about being a stay at home mother seems to have passed. Ha, I wonder whether the ladies above were secretly hankering to "work in media."

Work is completely unglamorous at the moment (probably the antithesis of what I imagined when I pictured myself at a magazine, a potted orchid on my desk.)

I always seem to find myself working in manic start up mode (a glutton for punishment?) But even so I am gratified by problem solving and being professionally curious. I like to think I will have some funny stories to tell Axel when he is a bit older.

I am also hugely grateful to have found such a brilliant nanny. Especially now that Axel is beginning to show his first signs of separation anxiety (reaching out for me when I put him in his crib, lip trembling like 'Don't leave me here!') Our nanny has been with us since he was six weeks old, so thankfully he feels bonded with her as well. When I leave, he's thrilled to see her, so the transition is pretty seamless.

When my work life is so peripatetic, it's good to know that his routine isn't being messed with. So now I just have to do whatever it takes to keep her 'til he's 18!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

They See Me Rollin'

Axel, 2013

So we have a roller on our hands. I pretty much have this song stuck in my head at all times. The weekend before last it was one little flip, and now it's a part of his daily (and nightly) regimen.

He's very pleased with his newfound mobility and keeps looking at us and saying the words "BaBaBaBa" rather meaningfully. A cry of "FREEDOM!", perhaps?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Axel's Room

Williamsburg, 2013

I spent a bit of time today tidying Axel's room, which has come along a bit since I took these photos.

Next up, since he's spending a ton of time on the floor at the moment and is about to get mobile, we need a rug. I am considering this one or this one from Land of Nod, and this option (in frost) from Flor.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Snow Day Antics

Axel, 2013

We caught up with Axel's godfather today with brunch and drinks at the Brooklyn Winery. Axel conspired to drool on all of his white and beige furniture and gave lots of gummy smiles as he practiced standing and sitting.

Good friends, good lighting.

Fresh Tracks

Williamsburg, 2013

Yesterday Will worked at home as well so we had the kitchen table set up as our little office. But we did make it out to Spritzenhaus in the early evening.

While we were there, the snow started falling fast. I think this really counts as Axel's first snow (look at those wheel tracks!!!) He'll be skiing in no time, I'm sure.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gear: Three to Six Months

Axel, 2013

In the last few months, and especially the last few weeks, it seems like Axel is suddenly in need of a lot of stuff. The newborn things have been put into boxes and he's slowly staking new, expanded claims on our space.

It's been a bit of a conundrum because I am very resistant to having an apartment filled with plastic baby junk. Part of it is aesthetic snobbery, and part of it is a genuine feeling that kids are just so overstimulated nowadays and that all these plastic machines that blink and make noise stress them out as much as they stress us out.

With that said, at around four months Axel became so much more aware of his environment and genuinely thrilled by his toys (and I'm not cruel enough to totally deprive him.) So I thought it might be helpful to do a round up of the gear that saw us through this newborn-to-half-year-old transition, some for play, some for more practical purposes. The necessities that saw us from birth to three months are listed here.

1) Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter Balance
I ordered this from Miniluu before Axel was born, but I'd say he really took to it at around 3 months. It doesn't vibrate or make noise, and it's not 563 colors at once. But it's provided hours of entertainment, especially with the attached rail of wooden toys, which our boy spins incessantly.

2) Ikea Antilop High Chair
Axel first showed interest in high chairs around Thanksgiving, when he was a few weeks shy of four months. He had to be propped up with swaddle blankets, but he loved being up higher and following the adult happenings around the kitchen. I spent hours researching chairs hoping to find something un-hideous. Ultimately, I was nearly swayed by this one from Baby Home. Then I saw him use the Ikea one at his grandparents' house in London and I was won over. It's simple, it has clean lines, there's no fabric, and it's $24.99.

3) Plan Toys Activity Baby Gym
After looking around at some of the baby play mats online, I registered for this wooden baby gym at Miniluu (all in all a great site for non-garish baby stuff.) You just use it with any old blanket (no googly eyed frogs required.) Axel has spent brobaby hundreds of hours gazing up at it and batting at the wooden bugs.

4) Baby Dee Dee Sleep Nest
Once we retired the swaddles, at around 8 weeks, I bought one of these sleep sacks from Wee Babe. I love the khaki and neon scheme and the fact that it unsnaps over the shoulders, so you don't have to wrestle a sleepy baby's arms into tiny arm holes. We are just about to size out of the small, and I'll happily order a couple in the next size up.

5) Green Toys Twist Teether
This is hands down Axel's favorite toy. I bought it at Mini Jake, and he never seems to tire of it. Sophie and this Moulin Roty rabbit are close seconds.

6) J.J. Cole Polar Bundle Me
It's been around 10 degrees out this week so this stroller cocoon has been a life saver. I bought it when Axel was about five months old, but I really should have just leapt on it as soon as the weather turned, since it beats trying to stuff a squirming babe into a snow suit, and means his hands are free to play while we stroll.

Learning Curve

Williamsburg, 2013

Last night I did one of those things you read about on lifestyle blogs, but are rarely organized enough to execute. After dinner (penne with sausage from the Meat Hook, broccoli, and pepper flakes) was made and consumed, I made an enormous pot of chili for another dinner. The kitchen was already messy so it felt pretty painless.

Lately, you see, I've been struggling a bit with the freelance life (plus baby.) Yes it brings with it a lot of flexibility. I can make it to Axel's doctor's appointments and occasionally take breaks to play on the floor on the days when I am not in the office or at meetings. But there are also very few boundaries on work. It kind of seeps in at the edges of things and you try to cram in an hour in the early morning or late at night when the baby is sleeping.

What usually falls through the cracks is household order, which is a shame, because I love nothing more than a proper dinner and crisp sheets and a tidy living room. Add to that the new challenges of Axel's food. I am dead set on making his food from scratch, so in between everything else there are a lot of dishes full of rejected mashed veggies strewn about.

I posted about feeding families with newborns, but let's just say we are still figuring it out at the six month mark.

There are of course a million delivery options in Williamsburg (okay, 297), but eat Queen of Siam basil chicken too many times and you can't help but crave real, simple fare. Lately I've been exploring other options, and have been happy to see that there are services like Sip Soups. Last week I ordered some of their soup, which was fantastic but is a little pricy on a long term basis.

As much as I love to be spontaneous (and as much as Will loves to get creative and ambitious in the kitchen), I think sometimes we need to be a little 1950s about it, as in " Friday is chili night." End of story.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Freeze

Axel, 2013

My Facebook feed and the local news are full of words like "Arctic", "sub-zero"," and "brutal," just to name a few.

And yes, it's pretty nasty out. I have been wearing Will's dad's giant shearling coat from the '70s, which is essentially like draping a live sheep over your body like Bear Grylls might do on Man v. Wild. There are giant steam clouds coming up from the subways and everyone is making lots of awkward small talk about the weather. "It's cold out there, huh?"

Axel has been cozy and inside, so doesn't seem to get what all the fuss is about. His high chair arrived this week and so our mornings go something like this: stockpile toys on the tray, throw them one by one on the floor so mama can pick them up again, repeat. And repeat.

Williamsburg, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Like a Weed

Axel, 2013

We had a doctor's visit today and Axel is clocking in at 16 pounds, 14 oz. and 26 inches long.

Even his clothes are starting to look a little less like baby clothes and a little more like boy clothes. Meanwhile, he's a big fan of looking out of the window on drives ("Oooh, how gritty and urban, mom!"), parsnip and apple mash, and doing little spins in his crib. I often come in and find him with his head down at the bottom, where his feet were the night before.

It's true that four months felt like a huge milestone, but as we approach six he feels like he's left behind that newborn phase for good. I can definitely see glimmers of a kid.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Babies

Williamsburg, 2013

Today, for the second time this month, we visited friends with newborn twins. The last twins we met were in London, and each family now has three kids under 3.

My proverbial hat goes off to these mamas (okay, and the dads too.) Toddlers are terrifying...add two more brand new humans to the mix and, well, there are some serious logistics to grapple with.

It's no secret that we would eventually like a brood, but I'm still in awe when I actually see our friends or family pulling it off so gracefully.

Needless to say, we did not arrive empty handed. This morning we popped into The Blue Stove in Greenpoint for some provisions. It's an all-pie bakery (genius!) that makes lovely organic chicken pot pies (as well as the usual sweet ones.) We also made a pit stop at Dough, because, well, donuts are awesome. To anyone wondering what to bring friends with new babies, I have one word: Food! We survived the first ten days at home with Axel thanks to some lovely hand delivered meals. Without them I'm pretty sure we would have subsisted on toast for weeks.

Compared to the week old babies, Axel looked huge!!! We all watched the inauguration while running interference with the four kids.

Our fellow was apparently exhausted by all the patriotic fervor.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Long Weekend

Williamsburg, 2013

Will and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty at Nighthawk last night, then walked home through the neighborhood. Apparently people in Brooklyn still start their nights at midnight. Funny, that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five (and a Half!) Months Old

Axel, 2013

Or 23 weeks and 4 days, which amounts to a staggering 166 days, if you prefer!

On Fridays, Axel and are at home solo, which I really look forward to. In the mornings, he sits in his Inglesina chair (a.k.a. his "office") while I check email and try to stay on top of some of my freelance projects. I'm I am not careful, he tries to grab my toast.

His hobbies include dropping his toys on the floor, eating his books, and watching us go about our business in the kitchen. Turning on the faucet is a particular hit.

I'd like to write more about our foray into solids, but so far food is also a big hit with this kiddo, and he's having maybe one small "meal" a day on top of his breast milk and formula.

I've been pureeing small quantities of the food we eat, like our spinach, leek, and potato soup, or a ratatouille we made with eggplant, tomatoes, lots of garlic and onions. Yesterday, he also enjoyed a mix of white beans, carrots, and kale. Bananas and pears are still well received, but he seems unsure of avocado (so far, that's the only thing he tries to spit out...maybe it's a texture thing?) On the advice of our pediatrician, we've skipped baby cereals (the reasoning being that you want to introduce a wide range of flavors and not get the kiddo hooked on simple starches they may well prefer later anyway.)

His favorite noise these days is a piercing pterodactyl shriek and he's easily fitting into his 6-9 month clothes. This week, we even graduated to the size 3 diapers. Sniff.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Maternity Leave

Williamsburg, 2013

Now that we're nearing Axel's half year birthday (hard to fathom), I'm certainly feeling more agile as a new parent. Before he was born, I trawled blogs and devoured books, eager for any concrete shred of information about caring for a baby. I hadn't spent much time around babies, so it didn't seem like it would be intuitive.

It was, and it wasn't. I remember sometime, maybe one week in, when I wondered if I would ever eat dinner again. Axel was on his own clock, and all newborns need a lot of holding, and a lot of feeding. I was half delirious from being up every 2 hours at night, and even though there's a deli on our corner, navigating the logistics of getting milk seemed like a big task.

We muddled through, and by week 8 or so, I was feeling really content and happy in our new rhythm. Tired, but happy. Axel was sleeping in his crib, we had a community of other new mothers nearby. It started to seem really natural.

Just when I was feeling confident, I went back to work. As a freelancer, I didn't have to go back at any certain time. But I also didn't get any kind of paid maternity leave, so I looked around at all of the women I knew returning when their babies were 12 weeks old and though, "I must be able to do this too." Taking 6 months, say, seemed kind of decadent.

Now, after, Christmas, when Axel is 5 1/2 months old, I feel really comfortable leaving him with his nanny, who he loves. I am also fortunate to be able to keep a flexible schedule these days.

But no matter what, 12 weeks was way too early. A former colleague who just had a baby wrote this piece about fixing maternity leave in America. I do feel like a year may be too much. But definitely, there's a huge difference between a baby (and his parent) at 3 months and at 6 months.

Now I know that Axel really enjoys socializing with other people, and my brain is slowly beginning to work properly as well. So, yeah, if we can't be Sweden or Norway, at least give mothers a little more breathing room, like, say, 4-6 months off. I think that's far more humane.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Club

Axel, 2013

We have a book eater on our hands. A new meaning to the expression "media diet?"

I've also been busy updating my blog roll. There are some Williamsburg blogs I've recently discovered, like Motherburg and WillyB Mum, as well as the wonderful Almost Fearless, about a family (of three, soon to be four) who've spent the last 2 years traveling around the globe, visiting some 38 countries along the way. They are now semi-settled in Mexico, and it makes for some good escapism on this white-skied January day. I've also been checking out Writing Chapter Three, a really frank take on being a stay at home mother.

I find myself reading a good deal about babies and parenting, because that's my default mode these days, but I'm also working on my New Years' resolution to read more in general. Like this New Yorker article about re-wilding Europe.

Also on my list? Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and NW by Zadie Smith. I may even finish them by 2013.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Standing Ovation

Axel, 2013

Not the best photos I've ever taken (you should see the state of my poor, abused camera these days), but  over the weekend we did a lot of this.

Axel loves to stand. With his hands on a piece of furniture he can even do it without much assistance. He loves it when he can grasp onto your fingers and you pull him up on his toes.

I'm thinking it's time to get one of these jumpers for him, since he gets grumpy quickly if I try to put him on his back.

We also ordered a high chair for him because he so likes to be part of the adult world rather than on the ground like a turtle (he's still working on rolling, but seems like he kind of wants to skip that stage completely and sit instead.)

I know everyone says to relish the time we have where he can't move independently, but it's so fun to see him so keen to explore the world.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Axel, 2013

It hasn't been that cold lately but yesterday I caved and got Axel a Polar Bundle Me for his stroller at Wee Babe. In his little snow suit he can't get to his hands readily and so tends to squawk when he's put in his stroller.

This thing zips up like a very cozy sleeping bag, and means he can keep noshing on whatever it is he's noshing on without being dragged down by the inconvenience of outerwear. It also grows with him, so it will last until he's 4-ish.

It's pretty funny thinking back to this nekkid baby on a 90+ degree August day:

Axel, 2012

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

I may have sounded a bit moan-y about the challenges of traveling with a baby for nearly a month when obviously it's wonderful to have that transatlantic experience.

Really it was just a feeling of being out of my comfort zone, with new logistical hurdles that made me appreciate the simplicity of urban parenting.

To me, living in Brooklyn makes having a baby so much easier. Take last night: Will was a block away having drinks with a friend after work. In less than 5 minutes door to door, Axel and I could join them on a whim, head to another friend's apartment, where Axel had milk and passed out in his stroller at his usual bed time, and then go out for Thai food at a new place called Qi. When we got home, we transferred the babe back to his crib, and he seemed totally unperturbed by the whole experience. This all went down in maybe a 4 block radius, so if he'd woken up, or if we'd forgotten some critical piece of baby gear, we could have been home in minutes.

While we were away, going out often involved a car (and the car seat to stroller to car seat transition usually resulted in an awake, cranky baby.) London is certainly a city, but its residential neighborhoods are often quite distant from commercial areas with any kind of urban atmosphere, so going out for a bit of people watching or a simple coffee requires a larger effort. Often, when you balance up the pros and cons of an excursion, the cons win, and you decide to stay home (feeling cooped up and frustrated.)

It's no secret that I love living in Williamsburg. But while neighborhoods like Cobble Hill and Park Slope are often considered to be more family friendly, I think we're gaining an edge. I feel like I can take Axel just about anywhere here, and if he gets out of sorts, we'll be home in a matter of moments. We rarely have to get on the subway because we live in a little village within the city that has just about everything I could dream up.

I know that in New York we trade living space for this kind of spontaneity, but I think getting out without a lot of fuss makes me more sane and definitely more relaxed as a parent. There's a lot for the baby to see, and he seems just as taken with the local flavor as we are.

Incidentally, there are some great Brooklyn photos here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Grind

Williamsburg, 2013

It's been an intense week of meetings, interviews, crashing stories together for work. It's part thrill, part panic, trying to juggle all my deadlines, with all of my projects seeming to dovetail in the most challenging way possible.

It always seems to be like this in January, and so it's nice to dial back our social expectations and come home to simple meals and watch a movie. Will made this Irish soda bread from scratch the other night and it was delicious. I'm occasionally on the fence about homemade bread because our oven doesn't always crisp things up as much as I'd like, but this was insanely good. Especially with a chunky leak, spinach, and potato soup.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Busy Morning

Axel, 2013

Lots of chomping and checking out the scenery chez Williamsburg Baby this morning. Axel has become such a solid, sturdy little person in the last month. When placed on his tummy he used to last for a few minutes before face planting with exhaustion. Now he seems totally at ease and I am beginning to be able to imagine him as a mobile unit. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

Last night, I think I was asleep by 10. Will and I always joke about "Joyless January," when we often give up booze, dessert, and basically anything delicious, trying not to overbook ourselves with dinners and brunches and parties.

I've definitely been looking forward to that clean slate feeling of a new year. My mood is so linked to how I feel physically, and I know that lately I've been dragging. Am hoping to finally use the gym in my Axel gets closer to being half a year old, I'm feeling like my "But I just had a baby" excuse is ringing a little empty. I have visions of a return to yoga as well.

Recovering from having a baby has been a slow process, and I think it was really waylaid by going back to work so soon. Just as I was getting the hang of caring for a newborn, there was this new element thrown into the mix, and looking after myself came last. Then the unglamorous parts of the postpartum experience hit me like a truck (losing giant clumps of hair does wonders for your self-esteem, I tell you.)

It's funny because I now find myself romanticizing my pregnancy as the last time I felt fabulous, which is odd, isn't it?

Onwards and upwards, I guess?

This Guy

Williamsburg, 2012

Sealface is one needy cat after our sojourn. At night, he has been attempting to squeeze his rather robust body into the 6 or 8 inch space between our heads. When he's not trying to climb into our brains, he's underfoot or climbing up onto the table trying to shred the mail. I guess he missed us?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Blue Skies

Axel, Williamsburg, 2013

We woke up at around 6:15, just before the sun was up, and soon the light was streaming through the windows. I think this might be the first blue sky I've seen in, oh, a month. I love watching the seagulls careen around over the Brooklyn rooftops...reminds me of how very close we are to the water. Sometimes you even catch a sea plane coming in to land.

Axel was reunited with his nanny, who was very happy to see him after so long. And I set off to work, glad to know that he was back in his groove and would be able to catch up on some sleep.

Tonight we're working on some of our New Year's resolutions (like, say, eating more vegetables) with a pot of homemade leek and potato soup bubbling away on the stove. Am hoping it helps me to finally kick this sore throat.

Am also concentrating on getting back to breastfeeding more and using less formula, something I found hard to do over such a social, peripatetic holiday.

I've had such an up and down relationship with pumping since I went back to work (technical difficulties, subway mishaps), and there were moments where I just felt so panicked about not being able to exclusively breastfeed and work a 50-or-so hour week.

It wasn't a great feeling, counting ounces and feeling like a failure if the numbers didn't add up. I ultimately had to begin supplementing because I just couldn't leave enough milk for the next day. And I came around to it, because I realized I had been unreasonably hard on myself and it was making working all but impossible.

Going away, and relying on more formula while I was sick and in transit, definitely threw me for a loop, and I felt guilty that I wasn't breastfeeding more.

It didn't help that my second pump's adapter broke because it wasn't synched with British voltage. In order to avoid an all out meltdown over that, I decided to just give myself a bit of a break, since I didn't feel 100% comfortable exposing myself in busy family situations. I breastfed at night and maybe once during the day when it was appropriate to slip away, but the rest of the time Axel (happily) had a bottle or tested out some new solids.

But, yeah, the guilt was nagging and that made it frustrating to be away from my home turf.

Complications aside, I definitely know I am not ready to give up breastfeeding, so back to the pump it is. Trying to drink tons and tons of water and get some more sleep so it's not a struggle.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Water Baby

Axel, 2013

The light was very low in the pool today so these pictures of Axel's first swimming class are a little bit...arty. It was fun to watch him enjoying the water with his papa, who is also part fish.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...