Sunday, October 27, 2013


Axel, 2013

Saturday was a bit of a confounding day, just in that naps were missed and we planned too much. We also didn't quite accomplish the one thing we had set out to do, which was go to the Greenpoint Halloween parade. By the time we got back from an outing to New Jersey, we didn't have the time to get it together.

We did get Axel dressed up in his owl costume and walk around the neighborhood, which wasn't quite a parade but was...something! So far, my trick for Halloween costumes has been to pair a set of animal pjs from Serena and Lily with a hat on Etsy. We did the same last year for his giraffe costume, and it meant I didn't feel we were wasting resources on something he'd wear just once. I figure those days will inevitably come when he wants to be Thor or Batman or whatever it is for Halloween, so why not do something simple for now? In the end, the owl costume was a little cold, so we had to break out the new winter coat. Hoping to take him out in costume on Halloween itself, but we'll see.

Today we spent several hours on the playground and met up with a friend whose son is a bit older than Axel and taking classes with Super Soccer Stars. Axel's a little young for such a structured class, but they do offer something for toddlers called Kick & Play that we might look into for the spring.

Fall is definitely upon us here, so I'm trying to take advantage of as much outdoor time as we possibly can.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

Before I had Axel, I had a few notions about parenting. Some of them turned out to be pretty spot on, but some of them kind of make me laugh now. Here's what I thought, pre-baby, and here's how it turned out.

- I can't believe that family is letting their toddler run wild/make that terrible noise/throw food everywhere. Can't they control him? 

Ha! When Axel was first born, we'd occasionally go to brunch with family friends who had children who were 2 or 3, and who were throwing their pancakes all over the place and running around the tables. Or I'd take him to our baby boot camp classes in the park, and there would be runny-nosed 14-month olds toddling about, trying to poke him in his stroller, or drink from his bottle. Generally, I saw toddlers running around restaurants or making those insane screeching noises they make and think, "Really? Can't the parents do something?" Sure. They can not bring them to brunch. But if they do want to venture out in public, well, toddlers are kind of loose canons, and before they are verbal, there's only so much you can do without physically restraining them, or picking them up and moving them from place to place. And you are tired, and just want to drink your latte, you know? Axel now weighs as much as a large kettlebell, so it's a physical endeavor. Obviously, behavior, manners, and all the rest of it are all important, but to a certain extent, newly mobile, pre-verbal toddlers have such a drive to explore that you can't (and don't want to) tamp it down completely. So you pick and choose your battles and have to decide, on a case by case basis, whether you'd rather go out for a quick bagel than a sit down brunch, which may well challenge all of you and probably irk most of your fellow restaurant patrons. When we were in Palo Alto and in France, we generally had to take Axel out to restaurants morning, noon, and night. Sometimes he did okay, but there were plenty of times when it was a squirmy, frustrating experience for all of us. You do what you can. P.S. Toddlers are terrifying. Including my own.

- You don't need to change your lifestyle completely because of a baby. Hey, French people don't!

I'd say this is kind of true, at least in Brooklyn. There are obviously a few caveats. Among a lot of urban types we know, who tend to have children later in life, there's definitely a sense of pressure to keep up with your old lifestyle, plus baby. We were almost militantly determined to keep up with our friends and maintain our sense of spontaneity after Axel was born. We took him straight from the hospital to Enid's for brunch and, when he was under about 6 months old, we took him out to dinner a lot. We quickly figured out where we'd be welcome with a stroller, and where we'd get dirty looks. Fortunately, there were more of the former, and they had nice wine lists and good lighting too. We had dinner parties, we brought him to house parties with our pack 'n play, we got him his passport and took him to across country to Seattle when he was 11 weeks old and to a black tie wedding in Scotland and to London when he was four months old. We also went out, just the two of us, as much as we could. But sometime around Christmas, burnout started setting in, at least for me. I was also working full time, and I was so, so tired. Yes, you can do it all. You are just going to be pretty worn out. Obviously this pregnancy has forced us to slow down considerably, and it's given me the freedom to say no when I need to, and to dial back on the social occasions. Can we take Axel pretty much anywhere? Could I go out five nights a week? Yes. But as Axel has become more aware and his little personality shines through, I'm more and more conscious that what makes him happy, makes me happy. So a child-centric morning spent watching him on the playground doesn't feel like a sacrifice. I could tote him to museums and stores, but I know he'd be happier with freedom to play. And everyone fares a lot better when I'm in bed by 10:30. Every decision you make has consequences, even if it just means you're cranky and not at your best the next day.

- When people say they won't travel with small children, they are just being wimps.

True and False. Part of the reason I've felt that I should be able to travel with Axel is that Will's sisters, who each have three children and live in Singapore, have made the 24-hour trek to the U.S. every year, with their children at every stage of the game, from 3 months old to 9-years-old. If traveling without children can be arduous, traveling with them is obviously more so. There's just so much stuff. Still, it can be done. Flying with Axel at 11 weeks was actually very easy, and he slept on the tray table. Though I do remember my despair anytime his pacifier or whatever it was would fall on the airport floor because I had visions of him getting cholera or somesuch. At 14 months, he did pretty well, but it was more stressful for us, wondering if he'd freak out and want to run up and down the aisles. And everywhere we go, we seem to have forgotten or lost something along the way, whether it's a sunhat, or a bottle, or some other integral piece of gear. Once we're there, wherever there is, I'd say it's worth it, but obviously very different from the travels we did when we were younger. And with two, it will be logistically harder. I remember trying to disembark the TGV in Lyon this summer, holding Axel amidst a big crush of people, while Will carried like 5 bags, and thinking, "What happens with two kids?" I think the answer is that it becomes more expensive. Will's parents, who had four children and have lived all over the world, always joke that the family had to take two taxis, use porters for luggage, and it was a pretty chaotic scene. They did it anyway. Still, I'm relieved my pregnancy means we'll be in New York this Christmas.

- Babies don't have to be expensive. After all, they don't need 90% of the stuff you see on baby registries. Our budget won't change all that much, at least not until we are really in the kid phase.

This was true-ish while I was breastfeeding, in the very early days. We had a baby shower and received a ton of hand me downs. Once we switched to formula and eventually solid food, things started getting more and more expensive. This kid eats a lot. Those little organic fruit pouches are like $2.50 each around here, and half the time they eat a third of them before you accidentally leave them in the bottom of the stroller overnight and have to throw them out. Formula is crazy expensive. As is whole organic milk, at least in New York. Now Axel will practically only eat rasberries, at like $5 a tub. We were well equipped for a newborn, but then came the next stage, where we needed convertible car seats, stroller covers for winter, and he started growing like a weed. And we seem to lose a lot of things that need replacing (stray socks, bibs, etc. Where do you all go?) Plus there are all the things that you want for your child, like swimming classes or artful picture books or cute winter hats from little baby boutiques. I mean, yes, you don't have to buy all of this stuff, but it's dangerously tempting and when you are feeling guilty, say, about being away from your child because of work, buying them this or that feels like a salve. Then there's child care. In a big city, no matter which route you go, this is like paying another mortgage. I used to think I'd be able to freelance with a baby at home ("during naps"), but while this may have been kind of true with a three month old, with Axel now I'd be lucky to get an hour of work done a day, which is essentially fruitless. And don't get me started on nursery school. My conclusion is now that babies are frightfully expensive. Pretty much all of our disposable income goes to Axel.

- I don't think I am naturally inclined towards attachment parenting. Babies should sleep in their own beds and you won't find me nursing an 18-month old.

Yup. Attachment parenting was not for us, as suspected. I once heard someone joke that people basically read whatever baby rearing book affirms the philosophy they already hold. I read Bringing Up Bebe, and the like. I did go out and buy a pretty Sakura sling, but I think I used it exactly three times. The carrier was useful when we went into the city, but I found it pretty claustrophobic otherwise. Plus, a stroller can carry a week's worth of groceries! Axel slept in his crib, in his room, from six weeks old, and we all slept a lot better that way. I stopped breastfeeding at around six and a half months, mainly because pumping at work had become untenable and my supply had diminished dramatically. I do wish I had kept up a morning or evening feeding for at least another two months, but when I hear about people breastfeeding babies Axel's age...I don't judge, but I certainly don't feel wistful or wish that were us. The good news? Axel is incredibly happy, good natured, and seemingly securely "attached", whatever that means.

I'm sure I'll think of more as we get closer and closer to baby number two...


Axel, 2013

For about a month now, we've been in the throes of some major teething drama. Axel was a toothless wonder until about 3 weeks after his first birthday, and since then he's gotten four giant teeth in rapid succession (he takes after his papa in the giant teeth department); plus there's two more on the top that are peeking through.

During the day, you wouldn't especially notice anything is amiss, but at night, a few times a week, our usually sound sleeper often wakes up around 1 a.m. moaning and can be up for hours. It's not his 'I'm upset' cry, it's something that sounds much more like discomfort, and it can be really tough to console him. We use infant Tylenol from time to time, and let him snuggle in our bed with milk and a few episodes of Peppa Pig on Youtube, but last night nothing seemed to make him comfortable.

I've read all sorts of things about chilled washcloths and frozen fruit and the like, but in the middle of the night the last thing he wants is something shoved into his mouth. He doesn't even seem especially "teeth-y" in terms of wanting to chew things, at least, not any more than usual.

We eventually get him back to bed and he wakes up at the usual time perfectly cheerful and ready to go, while we feel completely run ragged, with pounding headaches from all the sleep disruption. Somehow, the unpredictability of it all makes this stage feel harder than the newborn phase, when it was usually a simple case of feeding him back to bed. Only 16 more to go...?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

This is exactly the kind of article that makes me fret from time to time, worried that I should be chasing Axel around the room saying "Is that your green ball?", "See the gray kitty. Isn't she soft!", or "Show me your ears!" ad nauseum, instead of letting him pound at the fridge door with his plastic hammer. Of course we talk to him, a lot, but there are times when I overthink it, and it seems forced.

There are moments like today, in his French playgroup (overkill?) when the pressure to provide constant enrichment can seem a little absurd. Okay, yes, I confess: I enrolled my 14 month old in a French playgroup when his English words seem to consist of "Meow," "Ball," and "More." Foreign language exposure is supposed to be a good thing, right? But then Axel just wants to spend the class hunting for a ball he sees under the sofa or trying to eat another kid's apple. He's a newly toddling baby, and he just wants to move and explore.

Although I've never wanted to overschedule my children, I think in cities you tend to hunt around for activities because containing your little one in a 1200 square foot apartment can be daunting. Plus, everyone else seems to be signing up for music groups and tumbling classes and educational puppet shows. The list goes on. The opportunities are there, and somehow you feel if you are not taking advantage of them, your baby might be missing out.

A few weeks back, I went on a school tour, as we've been scoping out nursery programs that would begin next fall. As a group of parents stood in a semi-circle in a classroom for toddlers, one parent said something to the tune of "I see a lot of art projects and things, but what's the most challenging thing the children do academically in the 2s program?" Insane yes, but I kind of got where he was coming from. In New York, where nursery school can cost as much as $40,000 a year, it's a little hard to swallow the notion that you are paying for your child to finger paint. But I almost laughed out loud when the teacher responded, "They learn to be human beings." Right.

I'm all for giving Axel every advantage I can, but I feel like we're pretty verbal around here, and it seems a little strained to try to turn every little interaction into an educational opportunity. I want him to go to a great school, and I want him to learn to love books, but at this stage, he's so on the move that even trying to read an 8-page board book before bed is kind of...a challenge. He has one book he's entranced by, which consists entirely of pictures of cats. I think its main appeal is a little rubber ball that squeaks when you press it.

Here's to hoping that our early literary struggles won't resign him to a life of crime and economic struggle.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Antics

Williamsburg, 2013

As if there was any doubt, yesterday's Fall Harvest festival in East River State Park was evidence that Williamsburg is undergoing a major baby boom. There must have been at least 150 strollers there. Axel galloped around chasing pumpkins and checked out the performance by Puppetsburg, which he watched very intently.

Other than that, we've been doing the usual circuit of coffee-playground-coffee, bumping into friends at every stop. Somehow, there were moments in the baby phase when I didn't feel especially like a parent. It was all so new and surreal, I guess. But when you're on the playground (a.k.a. The Wild West), suddenly you feel very parentish.

I really love seeing how independent and fearless Axel is. He's obsessed with big kids with balls, with razor scooters of every shape and size, and rarely seems to run out of steam. Increasingly, I get to observe him with other children, and I see how incredibly active he is. Other kids are sitting tidily in their parents' laps watching the puppet show, while Axel wants to stand in the middle of the action and get a better view of the performers. He definitely has his own ideas.

Friday, October 18, 2013


New York, 2013

Had our second anatomy scan this morning and all is well with baby boy number two, who is weighing in at 13 oz. and a few days ahead of schedule (well, I've had two due dates for much of my pregnancy, so I don't really know what to make of them except that he is measuring ahead, so that's good...)

Afterwards, we walked down to Madison Square Park, and I picked up delicious things for dinner at Eataly and then wandered through the greenmarket in Union Square.

We have very few plans for the weekend, which I'm thrilled about.

And what else?

Well, I got a little teary over this birth story this morning (a second baby boy as well.)

I've been following this blogger, whose daughter recently had brain surgery and is doing well. Not the same procedure Axel had, but it's still crazy to me what we went through last spring. Science, how amazing you are!

I laughed when I read this article, about raising kids in New York.

And I'm getting excited about Axel's Halloween costume, care of Etsy, naturally. How cute was he last year as a giraffe?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

11211 Love

Williamsburg, 2013

Every time I come back to New York after some time away, I find myself thinking something to the tune of 'How could I ever live anywhere else?'

It's odd, because I spend much of my travels browsing in real estate windows and imagining myself transplanted there, wherever there is, if only for novelty's sake. It's also odd because there are many objectively more beautiful places to live than Brooklyn, places that are less expensive than the city, that boast lots of things (like trees, yards, good schools) that people generally feel make for a better quality of life, especially with kids.

And yet the thing about living anywhere for 12 years (eek!) is that you become a part of the community. Today, when I walked Axel to his playgroup, I passed several buildings I'd lived in, and countless stores and restaurants where we've made memories. There are stories for every street corner.

Just the fact that we press a button in the elevator and are out on the stroller-friendly city streets in minutes makes me wonder how we'd cope elsewhere.

Maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome?

Monday, October 14, 2013


Brooklyn, 2013

This was a fun little piece on design in the area immediately surrounding our place in Brooklyn. There's a slideshow as well as short pieces on some local lore. Of course, if you read through the comments, you'll see the usual love-hate that Williamsburg seems to attract.


Axel, 2013

Home again after a jaunt to the Eastern Shore to catch up with several of Will's friends from high school and their families.

It was lovely to get together, though I was pretty beat after two days of chasing Axel around in new territory...home is relatively Axel-proofed, but when we are in other environments, he's at an age where he's just very busy and into pretty much everything. Which means lots of walking around behind him, redirecting, picking him up and trying to keep his attention away from breakables.

Thankfully all of our friends were pretty much in the same boat, wrangling their little ones. We've all gotten together over the year at our respective weddings, and it was amazing to see the group begin to multiply before our eyes.

We did have a babysitter one evening and so were able to head out to dinner at Ava's in the very sweet little town of St. Michael's, Maryland. And last night we drove home...kind of nice to be on our own turf and without any big weekend plans for quite some time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


City Select Double Stroller

One of the advantages to having another little boy on the way is that there's very little that we need. My list has been pretty short. Double stroller...and that's pretty much it, though our stockpile of boys' clothing may thin out a bit as another close family member is expecting a few weeks after we are. Still, I feel like we have more than enough this go round.

Anyway, I bought the double stroller early, as we have started doing a part time nanny share, with one of Axel's little friends joining him two mornings a week. It's the City Select Double in black, purchased from Wee Babe, and it's pretty snazzy.

Our poor Uppa Baby Cruz was great, and I loved its sunny color and the way it looked, but by now it's been through the wars. I was chatting to the lady in the store about how we probably walk a minimum of around 3 miles a day with it, which means that it's seen, oh, at least 1000 miles. So far, we've replaced the tires three times.

I don't think it's any defect in the product, but I do think Brooklyn living is pretty hard on these things. We're constantly maneuvering over cobbles, uneven sidewalks, potholes, you name it, and we're often out nearly all day, every day, whatever the weather. Here's hoping that this new ride is a little more robust.

A Few More...

California, 2013

A few more pictures from our weekend in Palo Alto. The East Coaster in me is still amazed to have seen so much gorgeous greenery, lemon and mango trees, and consistently amazing light everywhere. It was brief trip, but lots of fun, and Axel was an angel on the flight home. In large part, I think that was because we had a free seat between us and he was able to sleep off all the excitement of our travels.

We are now back home, unfurling our bags before repacking them for a trip to the Eastern Shore. What was it I said about staying put for a while?

Monday, October 7, 2013


California, 2013

We have been doing a host of wholesome California things, like hiking the Stanford Dish Trail before 9 a.m. on a Sunday while talking about techy things and narrowly avoiding mountain lions (note to my mother: there were no mountain lions, I am kidding!, though I do love the tip 'Pick up small children.')

We drove into San Francisco yesterday to visit an old friend and her very new, very gorgeous baby and had some delicious Mexican food at a place called Nopalito, checked out the sailboats down by the bay, and met more friends in the Marina for an early dinner.

The weather is indeed gorgeous, and people seem to be exceptionally friendly out here. So much so that the New Yorker in me practically jumps an inch when they greet us, like 'Who are you and what do you want from me?!' Back to Brooklyn in the morning, but it's been a wonderful trip and an interesting eye into a part of Will's work world I hadn't yet experienced.

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