Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Oscar Goes To...

Axel, 2013

Is there anything better than a blurry, semi-naked baby, sitting without (much) help and ogling his brand new ball?

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Cracks

Williamsburg, 2013

Man, I love the blog world.

Occasionally, you get mired in looking around on Pinterest and at family or lifestyle blogs and it seems like everyone is making DIY confetti throwers or crafts in Kenya or filling their living room with balloons or eating plates of figs or being very pregnant in a bikini. And I am as guilty as the rest of them of presenting a curated, edited look at my life online. I am, after all, an editor. Plus I love it when the little every day moments of life are elevated, and treated as special, and when people don't moan about how hard it is to have a family all the time. Because I chose this and wanted it and do really feel the privilege in every moment.

But that doesn't mean I don't relish, I mean really relish the blog posts that are honest about what it takes to make a certain kind of life work. Like this one, today, from Girls Gone Child. It's just so on point. It also hit a nerve because I was just writing and thinking about how much time Axel spends with his nanny, and how weird it feels to say that, how I almost downplay it, even if I think (or know) it's the best possible arrangement for us right now.

Since the post is just so good, I'm printing an extract here:

"I was recently with a group of very well established work-from-home women who have nannies that help while they work. I had no idea that any of them had help because nobody ever said anything. Nobody felt comfortable saying anything.

Nobody talks about hiring help because nobody is supposed to. Because it insinuates privilege. Because it suggests weakness. Because it's strange for women to be at home with children, and also working jobs. Because it's strange for women to be at home working jobs that don't seem very job-like.

And it is strange.

Why does your house always look so clean?

How do you have time to work?

How do you do it all?

I have help, that's how. I have an incredible woman who works here from 7am to 2pm five days a week. And she helps me with my kids and she helps me with the house and she helps she helps she helps. And I pay her a large part of my salary to do that. So that I can work. So that I can write things that may or not go anywhere. So that I can write this post that may or may not matter. So that I can do what I love and feel sane and happy and myself.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

"There's nothing wrong with that," I say to myself.

So why has "nanny" become such a loaded word? Why are we, as women, so reluctant to talk about the people we hire to help us so that we can do what we do? What are we afraid of? People thinking we CAN'T do it all?

Well, duh.

We fucking can't.

So what's this big secret we're trying to keep and who do we think we're fooling?

And what is it doing to people who read our blogs and books and pin our how-tos and think that all of these projects are being finished while children sit quietly on the sidelines with their hands in their laps.

What is it doing to you?

We write disclosure copy on posts that are sponsored, giveaways that are donated. We are contractually obligated to label and link but where is the disclosure copy stating how we work from home with small children? How we shoot videos and meet deadlines and go to meetings and travel around the country attending conventions and conferences.

We have help, that's how!

We have INCREDIBLE and much beloved (worshipped, actually) help!"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Social Creature

Axel, 2013

Every day when I am at work, our nanny sends me a picture of some of Axel's daily shenanigans. As much as I sometimes miss being there with him at the library or playgroup or on the walk with him, it's also nice to see him navigating his own social world and relishing new experiences.

Would I have the patience to go to baby sing-a-longs day in and day out? I'm not sure. As it is, I get a kick out of doing those things when we are together, but I do appreciate having a grown up realm outside of babyland as well.

So far, at six and a half months, we haven't had many hints of separation anxiety. He loves new people and is as happy as can be when he is out of the house and in a new environment. Maybe it's around the corner? Maybe it's a temperament thing? Either way, it's nice to see how amused he is when someone chats to him in a coffee shop or when he sees another baby.

Part of my motivation to be working is seeing how much he gets out of having another caregiver, being exposed to another language, and having someone with fresh energy take over when I am trying to juggle this and that on my laptop or take care of life admin.

Because we have a nanny I feel like he gets 100% more often than he would if I were permanently at home. I also feel like I ave more stamina in the mornings, say, when we play from 7 'til 9:30, knowing that at some point I will hop in the shower and head out the door. He gives me a big grin when he sees me at night, but I'm really not sure he misses me much while we are apart.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

11211 Love

Tiny Empire via MilkWithOneSugar

My poor sad camera is at the repair shop this week, hence the spotty posting...

I am seriously hard on cameras (like throw-them-on-the-ground-by-accident-at-regular-three-month-intervals hard) but I've been putting off taking it in since I feel naked without it. While I wait for it to return to me I figure it's a good time to check in on some recent Williamsburg happenings.

First up, Tiny Empire, my latest obsession. It's a ridiculously twee and amazing juice shop that sells ridiculously twee and delicious $10 cold pressed juices (think kale and pear or beet and carrot.) It's just the kind of non-decadent decadent thing to do after a weekend of epic Brooklyn brunches.

Sweet Chick via Thrillist

Then there's Sweet Chick, which opened a stone's throw from our apartment today. This place is dedicated to its namesake dish, fried chicken and waffles (talk about mixed messages Williamsburg.) It's the sort of place that serves artisan-made soda water and fancy cocktails along with its pseudo-ironic hearty fare, but when I walked past it tonight it looked cozy and well lit.

Aska via Bon Appetit

Frankly, we've missed out on a lot of the Williamsburg openings lately. I suppose with a new (okay, new-ish) baby we tend to stick to what's tried and true (spots like Fada, Walter Foods, and Spritzenhaus.) But it seems like every day somewhere new is opening its doors, selling oysters and absinthe or organic doughnuts or exotic sausages. There's even a Scandinavian restaurant with a very esoteric tasting menu that includes ingredients like lichen.

When I moved here nearly ten years ago, there were very cool things going on here, but you had to seek them out. Have an address in your back pocket.

Today, there are moments when I find myself in a boutique like Brooklyn Fox, eyeballing a $400 top and wondering where the heck I am. It's fairly disorienting to see so much slickness proliferating and to see hip young tourists wandering Bedford Avenue with maps in hand. I sometimes feel like I'm having an out of body experience, unsure whether I've been teleported to Tribeca or L.A. The Ides? It definitely feels like a Manhattanized version of a neighborhood I used to know really well.

Bamonte's via Saveur

I can hardly complain (after all, I actually bought that kale juice.)

But I'm still glad that the old school joints like Bamonte's are still going strong. Hopefully Axel will someday be able to remember living in a quirky place called Brooklyn, before Williamsburg was big in Sweden or lampooned on the cover of the New Yorker.

The New Yorker

Monday, February 18, 2013


Axel, 2013

It's sunny but freezing in New York these days, which means weekends often begin with grand plans for exploring the city. After a chilled-to-the-bone walk around the neighborhood, we often end up cutting our losses.

Fortunately, there's always brunch. Axel immensely enjoys the feeling of being at the table, beaming at new and familiar faces with equal gusto. Yesterday, he sat on one of our laps for a four hour brunch and was evidently thrilled to be a part of the action. Way more entertaining than his crinkly cow book.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This Guy

Axel, 2013

So appreciative of a 3 day weekend with this guy. Especially after sleeping in 'til ten (thanks to Will, who took Axel out to buy coffee beans and fresh bread at 6 a.m.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Wrap

Williamsburg, 2013

And, that's a wrap.

I survived working for ten days straight and am home today! I had almost forgotten what it feels like to wake up without having to immediately hand the baby to Will and race out the door.

We also had great news regarding the results from Axel's MRI (and no nasty surprises.)

From my 16 week scan, doctors were concerned that Axel could have an encephalocele, which would mean that there was a pinhole-sized opening in his skull and that his cyst would thus require more complicated brain surgery. It's something we knew was a possibility early on, but it made my pregnancy somewhat stressful as I had to have extra scans and was constantly faced with the worry the baby could be facing a major operation.

Once Axel was born, it seemed hard to believe that his cyst could be affecting his brain (since his development has been so on track), but of course I am not a doctor and there was always a lingering worry. There were plenty of times I fell down the "Web MD" rabbit hole, reading up on all of the things it might be and what that could mean. The worry was compounded by the fact that it was recommended that we wait until Axel was 6 months old to get an MRI with sedation. I am sure if they felt it was urgent, it could have happened sooner, but not really having any answers when people expressed concern was tough.

Instead, our MRI confirmed that it's a dermoid cyst (something the pediatric neurosurgeon said was a possibility), which is basically a fluid filled sac that is superficial, and can be removed very easily. It's still surgery, but all in all it's less frightening. We have a follow up to go over the results in about a week and will most likely schedule surgery for March.

So! A happy week around these parts, and I am spending Valentine's Day around the neighborhood, recuperating. I even have a massage booked!

Monday, February 11, 2013

MRI Update

Axel, 2013

We woke up at 5:45 this morning so we could take Axel to get his MRI.

I am so relieved to report that it went really well. They got the images they needed, and he didn't have to have full general anaesthetic after all. They were instead able to give him an oral medication that conked him out for the 45 minutes or so, so no IV, and a lot less anxiety for me and Will.

It's been quite the process getting this test. Our doctor first ordered that it be attempted without sedation, when Axel was about 3 months old, but he startled in the machine and we had to reschedule (they suggested we do so when he was 6 months old, since babies that age tolerate sedation better.)

Late last month, we had to cancel that second appointment because Axel had a cold; our doctor's office told us the next available appointment was in March. But earlier this week, after some pressing on our part, they found today's slot for us.

The appointment was easier than I had expected it to be. Axel played with one of the hospital toys while we were admitted, then drank a syringe full of a nasty tasting liquid, cried a bit, and fell asleep in my arms. When we were allowed to come back and see him in recovery, he was wide awake (with sheet marks on his face from where they bundled him into the machine, looking rumpled but completely like himself.) We stayed there until they had checked him out and he had taken a bottle, and then we all bundled ourselves back into the car.

The next step is surgery (we needed the MRI to get a proper diagnosis and to schedule it), but somehow, this limbo has been the worst of it. It's nice to feel that we're making forward progress and I felt like a weight was off of my shoulders today.

Axel, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 7

Axel, 2013

I am heading into day 8 of straight, 12+ hour work days, and I am very much missing this guy.

Only 3 days to go under the florescent lights before I get a little break to regroup and press reset on my schedule.  He's obviously been in very good hands with his papa and his nanny, as well as various godparents, but it's been a weird phase for me and waaaaay too much time in slushy Midtown for my liking.

I love the creative challenge of putting a magazine together, I really do, but the process itself can be somewhat painful.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Blizzard of 2010

Williamsburg, 2010

A look back at the last major snow storm to hit the city! That's our little Prius, buried up to its gills.


The Daily, 2013

Posts have been scant because I'm somewhere in midtown, trapped under a blizzard of fashion copy.

It's been a crazy few 12-hour work days. Did I mention that my lovely husband is off on a ski trip, galavanting in the snow somewhere in Vermont? In any case, thanks to the nanny, Axel's godparents, and many, many lattes, it's been okay. This morning I was feeding the baby with one hand, and packaging reporting from last night's Amfar gala with the other. How very surreal!

Tomorrow, we are also expecting a major snow storm (things truly do always come in threes.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Half Birthday

Axel, 2013

Happy Half-Birthday, sweet fellow! Today Axel is 6 months old, changing by the minute, and so much fun.

He spends the morning cackling away in his chair, and just looks so generally amused by life, by new people, by the steam coming out of the chimneys of Brooklyn rowhouses and casting weird shadows across our living room. He is also fixated by the roll of paper towels we keep by the changing table.

For a while, he seemed stuck mid-roll, but now he's on the move 24-7. His little blanket on the floor can barely contain him; he's ready for wild explorations (especially if they involve grabbing beards, eyeglasses, or the cat.)

The other day, when I was in that bleary-half-awake-is-it-really before-7? state, I heard him babbling away to himself on the monitor, and the sound of it just made me so happy. It's a funny thing that, the sound of your child in another room. Even when you would typically do a lot of bargaining for another hour of sleep, that noise gets you out of bed, and puts the rest of the noise in your life in perspective.

It's not the stuff of traditional Christmas mornings you imagine will make a profound memory. It's the every day, stop-you-in-your-tracks sense of 'I can't believe he is here.' And it changes you, profoundly, to see the way a baby greets the world every day, with a grin, like 'What have you got for me?'

I know the phase of my life when there's a baby squeaking next door will be a short one. Six months have raced past.

Perhaps he's due for a candle in his pureed rutabaga today?

Axel at Six Months Old, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

My cover feature on Jim Sturgess is out (in the March issue of Nylon Guys.) It was fun stumbling upon the magazine in the drug store this weekend, especially since it seems like minutes ago that I was in London doing the interview. Jim was really a cool guy. During our chat, at a pub in Camden, I kept forgetting he is someone on the cusp of big celebrity. Often actors are so media trained that doing a story on them requires a lot of heavy lifting. But I genuinely liked Jim and hope that came through in the piece.

Also found this family of graffiti critters on our meanderings on Sunday.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

11211 Love

Williamsburg, 2013

So Farm to Baby has kindly offered friends of Williamsburg Baby $25 of their first order through February 28th. Just go to the online order area and enter the code WBURGBABY.

For Axel's review, go here!

A Peek

by Diana Yen, The Jewels of New York

I've been tinkering away on a few magazine and web projects of late.

Here's a sneak peek at one of the collaborations, which blends writing and food.

It's always amazing to work with people you admire (in this case, the very talented Diana Yen from the Jewels of New York.) Diana and her team catered our engagement party a few years ago, and we worked together on this story. So it's nice to circle back and pair up again for something entirely different.

I will most definitely reveal more when the time is right!

Farm to Baby

Williamsburg, 2013

I was lucky enough to have coffee with the lovely Lauren Utvich of Farm to Baby this week.

Farm to Baby is a local service that delivers fresh baby food in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Lauren, who is a serious foodie, sources vegetables from local farms in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and Long Island, and makes seasonal baby fare with them. The menu changes each week and purees arrive by bike messengers in lovely little glass jars inside a cool, insulated pack. The service picks up the jars when you are finished so there's no waste in the process.

This week's offerings included carrots, sweet potato, turnip, and rutabaga and Lauren was nice enough to bring some samples for Axel to try (a roaring success.)

Our transition to solids has been mostly seamless, and I've been gamely making my own purees using whatever vegetables we have on hand and my immersion blender. The only hitch is that it's sometimes a messy process, and I'm not always able to get to a farmer's market or find an interesting range of things to blend. I haven't enjoyed the switch up as much as I might have, since I feel like I'm now worried about leaving breast milk and food for him during the week.

I first read about Farm to Baby when I was pregnant and thought: "Genius." As we've started to introduce Axel to food, I've instinctively avoided store bought options. Even the many organic options out there are often high in sugar content (since they use things like pears to mask the taste of things like spinach.)

So when I'm feeling overwhelmed by work or a particularly manic week, I love the idea of knowing that Axel's food is being prepared as I'd like to do it (in an ideal world.)

On our pediatrician's recommendation, we've avoided using baby cereals (on the basis that babies don't really need "white" food and benefit from early exposure to lots of flavors.) So Farm to Baby is a great way of keeping his taste buds on their toes. If taste buds have toes, that is.

Anything to keep me sane!

Friday, February 1, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

On Fridays, I am sans childcare, which is usually something I look forward to the whole week. It's a little more complicated when I am on deadline for approximately 357 different stories, and Axel is fighting his naps. So I will most likely be playing a lot of catch up this weekend. What was that I was saying about enjoying this craziness?
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