Saturday, March 30, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

Brunch at Beco (outside!), a walk to the Graham stop, and some DIY at home...Axel has learned to pull himself to a seated position and looks so pleased with himself when he does it. I have yet to be able to capture it in a picture but hopefully tomorrow...

Easter Weekend

New York, 2013

I was joking with a colleague the other day that all the Easter craftiness I'm seeing on Pinterest and "the blogs" is giving me a complex. Whatever happened to Paas?

I am usually the first person to get a bit overwrought with my plans for the holidays, but sometimes it's a bit much, what with the explosion of mood boards and genuinely lovely cool "Oh, this, I just decoupaged it..." mom blogs online and all the Etsy-ness around us in Brooklyn.

The thing that's slightly disingenuous about all of this is that so many of the blogs and pinboards you see are actually created by prop stylists, graphic designers, lifestyle photographers, or people who work in similarly creative fields. There's nothing wrong with dreamy images, but it kind of creates a notion that the rest of us should have a day job, take care of our kids, and then hand calligraphy eggs all weekend.

Pretty pictures are fantastic, but there's such a proliferation of aspirational sites out there that sometimes it seems to feel a little artificial. Like, oh, I guess I should be taking hipster-ish photos of Axel in soft-focus holding organic carrots and his very first heritage breed baby chick?

Wait, should I?

But it's kind of funny isn't it, how we're always taking the plastic out of photos we post on Facebook, or cropping out anything "ordinary" in an image? It's becoming a pennant-flag filled jungle out there (my search for "baby and pennant flags" yielded 1,390,000 results.) And in the process, it all starts to feel a little staged and over-styled, no?

I mean, it used to be that Martha Stewart kind of had a monopoly on all of this, but at least we all acknowledged that she was creating these scenes with a team of professional lifestyle experts. Now that lifestyle content has migrated to blogs, it seems more attainable and yet I think people often forget that many of these blogs are essentially online magazines and really professional endeavors as well.

Yes, file this among first world problems! But seriously, Ack!!!!! I'm thinking of leading a backlash. Perhaps that's why this site made me laugh so hard. Even if I am guilty of a frame cluster or two myself.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Round Here

Williamsburg, 2013

It's been quite a week but all is well around these parts. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 57 degrees out, so I am predicting the streets (and beer halls) of Williamsburg will be packed. I remember when it was quiet here - ha!

We are doing a simple brunch at ours on Sunday but other than that have no big plans, thank goodness. I am kind of curious to check out this place with the bambino. We'll see.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marching On

Paris, 2010

It's so beautiful out. I mean, it's not exactly dinner al fresco weather, but it's close, and that's something. I am even walking around in a dress with bare legs.

I get irrationally excited about the change in the season. Buds! Walks! Picnics! The farmer's market! (I get just as deliriously excited for soup season.) And how fun to have a newly mobile baby to experience all of this with us. We've all been a little cooped up this winter and even though we take Axel out nearly every day, rain or shine, the thought of spreading out a blanket in the park is so appealing right now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Else?

Williamsburg, 2013

Since it's spring, we're in the midst of some projects around the flat. Like this built in bookcase in our bedroom (the top image is an "after," the bottom is "before.") I like lying in bed and seeing photos and books and having a place to stach magazines and the like. I don't do minimalism all that well.

Our apartment is lovely, but it still feels a little temporary due to the timing of our move, the fogginess of the newborn months, and our general state of "house poor"-ness.

It feels good to be back at work and to start pressing go on some plans to make it feel more like a home. On the wish list? We are getting our closets done on Monday, thank goodness (will be great to bid adieu to the piles of clothes populating our bedroom), and then I am turning my attention to our outdoor spaces. It's still brisk in New York but I can feel the weather turning and can't wait to hang out on our terraces.

Check Up

Axel, 2013

This is Axel mid-cackle (not grimace) at his pediatrician's office this afternoon. His stitches are doing fine, though they look rather menacing, and he is in high spirits today.

We have one more follow up with his surgeon in about a week and then I am really hoping that we can close this chapter in his medical history (onto his 9 month well baby visit and more routine first year concerns.)

It's gorgeous weather out and though I'm still absorbing the craziness of the last several days (and weeks and months, I suppose), I feel somehow unburdened. It's tough seeing your baby with a major scar, but less so when he is so joyful in spite of it all.

I also feel like I can think ahead again. Easter parties, summer plans, and the rest of it.

Back Home

Axel, 2013

Axel had a great day and night, and is back to sleeping and eating as he usually does. He is pretty thrilled to be out of his baby cage and bandages. This morning we are dosed up on coffee and Will is practicing his rendition of this song while the boy squeaks along in the background.

I think we are going to have a lot of days like this, where we alternate between being amazed by how tough Axel is and how lucky we feel.

Both of us have kind of been holding our breath for a while, knowing Axel had this surgery ahead of him, and it's just a tremendous sense of relief to see him doing so well. It's also still sinking in that he actually had a hole in his skull.

On the scale of things our surgeon does every day, this is actually fairly minor (hard to believe.) But it's been a long road from the first moment we had an inkling that something might be wrong.

Every time someone asked about his bump, it stopped me in my tracks. Not because I was self-conscious about it, but because the casual question exposed how much we didn't know. I'd usually say: "It's fine, it's entirely superficial and a very minor procedure," but at the same time I'd be going through hundreds of thoughts and what ifs.

The mundane details of day-to-day parenting are enough to manage, so sometimes I'd all but forget about it. And then we'd do something like take him to a swimming class and you'd sense people had questions the weren't asking...or I'd go down the rabbit hole and find myself up late at night googling "encephalocele." It's a lot, even if Axel was never aware of it and was busy being a happy baby.

Feeling very relieved today as for a while I couldn't really see past surgery day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Fellow

This is the mood Axel was in when he woke up this morning (after having his skull tampered with.) Gotta love this kid's attitude.

I've heard people describe babies as the perfect Zen in the moment, for one, and so delighted by the small stuff. I think the analogy works pretty darn well for me.

Note all the adhesive on his chest....poor guy! Hospitals are clearly pretty depressing places, but to Axel it was a jungle of cords, lights, new faces, and shiny objects. We may as well have taken the little guy to Disney World, such was his enthusiasm today.

In any case, he slept on the car ride home and has been in good spirits ever since. I will spare the squeamish among you a shot of his rather impressive scar (for now), but all things considered it's wonderful to see how himself he really is at the moment.

When Will and I debated the pros and cons of doing this surgery before Axel turned one or two, one of the points the doctor made was that his recovery would be faster now, he wouldn't be scared by the experience, and he'd be laughing and playing the very next day. He was right! Dr. Greenfield is clearly no slouch.

On the Mend

This Morning

Yesterday was a long day, and Axel looked quite pitiful until around 6 p.m., when he started cracking smiles and acting like his usual self.

He had a good night's sleep, though he didn't fall asleep 'til around 10:30 because nurses kept coming in to check on him and poking and prodding him with various devices. In the first picture, taken yesterday afternoon, he had a bit of a fever, but it never went above 100 and he is now back to normal.

He woke up babbling and laughing and crawling around his crib trying to pull / eat / tangle all his various wires. Once the doctor comes by to check his stitches we are going home. The poor guy is covered in sticky stuff and practically coated in Baby Tylenol, but he's very happy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Surgery Update

Axel, 2013

The Bump, 2013
As much as we tried to distract ourselves with a very ordinary, family weekend, it's been an anxious few days around here. Last night my heart was racing and Will and I could barely talk about what we knew was around the corner this morning.

Today we got up before sunrise and took Axel to New York Presbyterian for his long-anticipated surgery.

I am thrilled to report it went as planned, and Axel is now resting comfortably in the PICU, where we'll stay overnight.

We first had a glimmer that Axel had some sort of mass at his 16 week anatomy scan (the medical term on his charts is "occipital mass.") The first concern was that he might have an encephalocele, a diagnosis that does not always come with great prognoses.

The other possibility was that it was a dermoid cyst, and something that was completely superficial and cosmetic in nature. Because of the ambiguity (which remained even after Axel had his MRI), his surgery was done by a pediatric neurosurgeon.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. The doctor found a golf ball-sized dermoid cyst, surrounded by CSF (spinal fluid) as well as a dime sized hole in Axel's skull, so he removed the cyst and repaired the hole with bone cement. All in all it took about an hour and half. The doctor doesn't know if the presence of the dermoid cyst so early on in his development caused the defect in the skull bone, or if he had a very minor encephalocele plus a dermoid cyst.

Either way, he doesn't think there are any long term concerns for our fellow.

We do know that we are going to be dealing with one cranky baby over the next several days, but also that we are very lucky.

He is sleeping just a few feet away from me as I type, his head wrapped in gauze with a sort of Mexican wrestler's mesh helmet over it. It's quite a sorry sight, but I am feeling very grateful for good surgeons and fot the fact that he will be back to his busy self in no time.

I will post more on his recovery soon, but for now just wanted to say all is well.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


New York, 2013

Not a bad way to pass the day. We took the ferry from Williamsburg to Wall Street, had brunch at Super Linda and hot chocolate at the Duane Park Patisserie, caught up with some old friends, and braved the wind tunnels of downtown Manhattan.

Axel is now banging away with his wooden blocks and army crawling with major determination around the apartment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Catch Up

Williamsburg, 2013

We are kicking off the new season with a very boring and virtuous 3-day juice cleanse. I know the merits of all-juice diets are dubious, but every once in a while it's a good way for me to mentally press reset and remind myself that bagels and wine shouldn't be staples. The only challenge with being on a juice fast is that it's all you can talk about. I will try not to dwell on my rumbling tummy and play catch up on everything else that's been going on around here.

- I read this article in New York on the "Retro (Hipster) Wife." While most of the ensuing furor went to the tune of 'one privileged woman does not a trend make,' a few of the references resonated with me. Like the fact that there are all these blogs out there that glamorize staying at home (intentionally or not), and simultaneously make both stay at home and working mothers feel bad for not crafting Pinterest-worthy pinatas for their baby's half-birthday celebrations. Heck, I love some dreamy lifestyle inspiration as much as the next girl, but it does make me wonder occasionally. Like baked goods for St. Patrick's Day? Is that even a thing? Clearly that is not happening chez Williamsburg Baby.

- Somehow, I seem to have emerged from the fog of Axel's months 4-6 with my sanity (mostly) intact. But it's also made me realize how very run down I was over this winter, and how I have just begun to relearn how to be a functional adult (plus baby.) Even with an 'easy baby', there's a sense that you're in survival mode. Now that Axel sleeps through the night and is more predictable, I'm still playing catch up and clawing my way back to being able to buy milk + brush hair + make a phone call. It's taken a while...and I no longer have the 'I just had a baby' excuse.

- I'm getting a kick out of this Slate column, How Babies Work. Love the weird science behind babies.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Farewell Winter

Axel, 2013

I get that there will be no immediate 'Voila, bring on the daffodils!' gratification tomorrow, but I'm still pretty excited for spring.

It's been grey, sleety, and bone-chillingly cold in the city for waaaaay too long. Axel doesn't seem to mind being bundled up, but I am definitely ready for a bit more sunshine. I feel like I take the shortest routes from here to there because there's not much pleasure in the weather lately.

Meanwhile, I leave you with more sleeping baby goodness. It's hard to capture him when he's awake since he's so mobile now. I wouldn't say there's been a 'Boom, he's crawling' moment, but he can definitely get from A to B, dragging himself around, inch-worm style. I've been trying to capture it on video but he then gets fascinated by the camera and stays completely still, looking at me like, 'Huh?'

Axel, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Axel, 2013

I think Axel's days of being able to sleep anywhere at night may be numbered. At seven and a half months, it's been a good run.

The last 2 or 3 times we've taken him out in the evening, hoping he'd conk out in his stroller as he usually does....well, it hasn't gone so well. He's great at napping in his stroller, but in the evenings when we mess with his routine he winds up staying up 'til 9 or later and getting very cranky. It's hard not to feel guilty, especially since his schedule the next day gets pretty out of whack.

I guess it's time to up the babysitting budget or host more dinner parties?

Friday, March 15, 2013


Axel, 2013

So last night we went out to dinner and may or may not have been those people showing the couple at the next table pictures of our baby.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In a Twist

Williamsburg, 2013

I suppose I should actually read this Sheryl Sandberg book. The only hitch is that, as the working parent of a 7 month old, I haven't read a book since before he was born.

That said, I have read about 400 articles about Lean In in the last month, and so of course I have thoughts on the matter. And then there's the whole Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! thing, where she says everyone (including a slew of work-at-home mothers) has to report to the office, but has the clout to build a nursery next to her office. I guess something's in the ether?

It is hard to get past the nut graf of the articles on these women without feeling annoyed. Does Sheryl Sandberg really think I'm not ambitious enough? I would gladly stay later at the office if Axel were three feet away from me at all times. Do I have to want to be a Sandberg or a Mayer?

In many ways, in the years before Axel was born, I did exactly what Sandberg says not to do. I arranged my work life in anticipation of having children, reasoning that it would be wonderful to be a freelancer with a flexible schedule when I was raising bambinos. I was one of those women who would have driven Mayer nuts. I worked on projects and part time gigs and stories from coffee shops and it was all rather ad hoc and non-linear.

And yet. It was just that ad-hocness that meant I could travel spontaneously. Do I wish I had spent more time in the office in the past several years instead of in Laos, Vietnam, India, and Paris? Um, no. I got to do a lot of travel writing, which was a blast, and which would have been a lot harder to launch myself into later on, with a kiddo in tow. I also worked for a number of magazines and became pretty versatile, experimenting with tone, and form, and juggling deadlines.

Funnily enough, now that I do have a baby, I see the merits of a more stable working life. It's kind of exhausting to reinvent the wheel with a new project every month and it's nice to have longer term goals.  I do get more done at the office, and it's nice to have a work zone and a life zone that are somewhat separate. It's completely surprised me...who knew I'd actually like this arrangement? For now, that means working four days a week in an office. I am still grasping onto my fifth day at home like a life line.

But in the end, however my work life balance shakes out in the coming years, I'm still glad I leaned out when I did.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Axel, 2013

After a two week long cold, Axel finally seems to be back in stride. He's as busy as ever. I'm not sure if this is what all babies are like at 7-ish months, but Axel plays furiously. He doesn't have much time for cuddling unless he is nearly asleep. Otherwise, it's all about exploring, all the time.

I fear we're in for a few months of bruises and bumps.

His latest trick is pivoting around on his belly and occasionally scooting from here to there until he's stopped in his tracks by a chair leg or the like.

This week he's tried blueberries, chicken, and plenty of parsnips. He's also starting to give Will and I even bigger grins when we get home from work, like "Hey! Oh, I like you guys!" It's not that he didn't react before, it's just that now it seems more...personal?

What a little nut.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wish Granted

Williamsburg, 2013

Exactly what I needed: Will home, a sunny day, the clocks changing this weekend.

We had a brunch get-together at ours (I just can't bring myself to use the word playdate) with 4 other babies and their parents. Axel conked out for about an hour of it but it was a fun way to kick off the weekend; then it was off to explore in the warmish weather.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Is it Spring Yet?

New York, 2013

Thanks for the vote of confidence, subway ad! You can't quite see it in the picture, but I woke up to a view of rooftops blanketed in white. Our apartment feels like a snow globe on mornings like this. Very pretty, but really, I am getting seriously grumpy about coat weather.

I am quite ready for sundresses, minty cocktails, and sandals thank you very much.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

11211 Love

Williamsburg, 2013

Axel and I headed out this morning to the deli for some milk and I stopped by a nearby cafe for a coffee. This is a spot that's usually packed with neighborhood old-timers, folks who've lived here for generations as well as artists who moved here in the '70s. It's a great place to get gossip.

There's one woman, in particular, who is always loudly lamenting the new developments in Williamsburg to anyone who will listen. I feel guilty, because even though I've lived here for a decade and it feels like home, I know I'm one of the newcomers she finds so alarming. The stroller, the fancy latte, the new condo. And yet I completely understand where she's coming from. Even I sometimes find myself standing on Kent Avenue, near the old loft building that was my first Brooklyn apartment, and wondering where the heck I am.

Today this lady's gripes were all about the proposal for the new developments around the Domino Sugar Factory. There's been quite a lot of talk about gentrification around these parts lately...the film Gut Renovation, for instance, as well as the news that Anthropologie is opening up on Bedford Avenue.

I happen to think that there's a lot of potential in the Domino plans...but would love it if they also opened an arts institution like the Tate Modern in the old factory site. Swanky new buildings and tech companies are fine, but I agree with my fellow coffee shop patron; you do need to leave some room for culture in all the commerce.

Am I even allowed to say that given that I am now part of the new, young, stroller brigade?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Seven Months Old

Axel, 2013

Hard to capture this guy in a moment of stillness lately (hence the slightly askew image.) So what's going on around here?

Total capitulation as Axel and Axel's things take over our living room / whole apartment.

So we borrowed one of these giant playthings from a friend. Yes, it's a monster. Axel has played in a few of them at other babies' houses, and he looked so darn thrilled with it that I felt like I couldn't say no based purely on aesthetic principles. He's so into playing lately, that something that keeps him so busy and so entertained has earned some cred in my eyes. Ahhhh, resignation!

He's such a funny, happy little fellow, that to be honest, I am a lot more tolerant of all the "stuff" than I thought I'd be. When I see a crinkly book or stuffed pig or rattle on the floor, instead of seeing clutter I see something he loves. There's something kind of lovely about finding a mini baby sock under a magazine or discovering a plastic egg in your bath.

I do try to resist buying everything that catches my eye, and I think borrowing toys is a great solution. In a few months, he'll no doubt be bored of the jumperoo and we don't have the luxury of a basement or garage where giant plastic things can go to gather dust.

In any case, though moving at 8 1/2 months pregnant was kind of insane, now that Axel's mobile and has so many things, I'm really glad we did it when we did.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


France, 2013

So this summer, we are invited to a christening and belated wedding party in the south of France. The guests will be staying here! Not a terrible proposition if you ask moi...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Uncool is the New Cool

Williamsburg, 2013

I've lived in Williamsburg for nearly a decade. And I've walked past this place, Peter's, for years, and never really given it a second thought. When there are so many great restaurants around, I'd think, what's the point of a place with so-so atmosphere that sells somewhat pedestrian takeout (think meatloaf with yellow rice and spinach, 1/2 a roast chicken with mashed potatoes, that kind of thing.)

But now that there's a baby in the picture, I've done a 180. Peter's! Genius! Add it to the list of not terribly cool local places that might just welcome us with a baby.

On a Saturday night, when Will and I want to go out, stroller in tow, I often find myself thinking, 'What's the least cool place in the neighborhood right now?' Not because I am worried about loud music or even a wait at the bar, but because I get sick of hostesses wincing when they see us (and stroller) coming through the door.

This weekend, we wandered into a completely empty Antica Pesa, and were turned away. Then we proceeded to pop our heads into 4 or 5 local restaurants where the staff clearly didn't want to accomodate a stroller. Yes, I get that a screaming baby isn't great for atmosphere, but I swear I am not glossing things over when I say that after 7, no matter how noisy it is, Axel will sleep through dinner and not make so much as a peep. Basically he is like a small pice of luggage at that point in the evening.

After getting rejected at a few somewhat-of-the-moment spots (even though it was barely 7 p.m.) I wound up feeling like a terrible parent, schlepping Axel around past his bedtime, as a dusting of snow fell. We settled on drinks at Betto and dinner at D.O.C. Both totally fine, but it was nonetheless a kind of discouraging experience.

Does it matter? I guess not. We still go out at night, we still eat well. But I am finding it a little surprising how baby unfriendly so many neighborhood places are past 6 p.m. (the witching hour?)

Which leads me to wonder if I am going nuts and if it is, in fact, totally inappropriate to bring Axel out to dinner with us. While I figure out the answer, you'll find us at that brand new place...from 2003.


Axel, 2013

We bought Axel a new play mat this weekend at Mini Jake (since the cork number we had wasn't nearly enough space to contain the little fellow.) How long this one will do the job remains to be seen...

Today he also had his belated six month well visit, and is clocking in at 17 lbs, 9 oz. and 27.5 inches.  Note the mismatched socks: it's pretty darn hard to keep him still for long enough to do wardrobe changes at the moment, so we manage as well as we can.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Axel, 2013

Axel, very pleased with his first trip to the McCarren Park baby swings.


Axel, 2013

Will heads off to California for work tomorrow so today I am doing my best to play catch up on all the things that are going to be a little more difficult to accomplish solo.

Axel is on the move these days. He is able to cover a lot of ground by rolling across the living room floor and I think full on crawling is only a few weeks away. He props himself up on his arms with ease and winds his legs up as if he gets the concept, but just can't quite get any traction.

Either way, gone are the days when I could leave him on his blanket and unload the dishwasher or go into the other room to fold laundry for a few minutes. Now, I turn my back for 45 seconds, and he's moved five feet and is trying to gnaw on a chair leg, eat the carpet fringe, or ingest the tasteful cork tiles I bought for him to play on (goodbye tasteful cork tiles.)

I know this is only the very beginning of real mobility, but it's definitely making day-to-day household tasks a bit trickier. We lowered the crib by a few settings since it seems like it's only a matter of time before he pulls up on his own.

I can contain him in his high chair or Baby Bjorn balance seat for a while, but he eventually starts to arch his back in protest (as if he thinks he can slingshot his way out of either contraption.)

It's amazing to see the huge developmental strides that happened between about five and a half months and now...he seems so determined and aware and busy now. His memory is also a lot better. When I try to approach him with the nose sucker or saline spray he is definitely on to me, and when he sees me preparing a bottle across the room, he starts to squeak frantically in anticipation.

So how soon before he starts trying to eat the cat food?

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Axel, 2013

So glad to have my camera back in working order (even though it meant I had to go to Best Buy yesterday, which makes me crazy and always reminds me of this.)

My mom is visiting this week and since Axel has been coughing at night, we moved him into our room in the pack and play. We've been taking it fairly easy during her visit...trips to the Meatball Shop, delivery from Qi, beef stew at home and plenty of lattes around the neighborhood. Today we have our sights set on Dumbo for the afternoon.

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