Saturday, November 30, 2013


Maine, 2013

Today we went on a little excursion to Rockport for lunch at Salt Water Farm at Union Hall. The sea salt chocolate chip cookies were pretty insane (since we definitely needed more food this week) and the design of the market and cafe is gorgeous. They have a little cooking school I'd love to try some day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Part Two

Maine, 2013

To settle a score, we made two turkeys this year; one roasted, one fried. In the interest of marital harmony, I won't say which one was better, but all in all it was a good day.

Thanksgiving Prep

Maine, 2013

It was a little harder to get Axel to pose with the turkey this year than it was last year! See you on the other side.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Snow

Maine, 2013

We woke up to a bit more than an inch of snow this morning and went out for a walk to the farm stand to get pies for the holiday. Glad we made the drive before the mad rush!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bklyn to Maine


Yesterday was an action packed day, beginning with one of Axel's little friend's 2nd birthday party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (how incredible is that invite and igloo? Axel was in heaven...), a baby shower near the South Street Seaport, and a long, snowy, icy drive to Maine for the holidays.

We're excited to be in the countryside for a week, even though it's something like 15 degrees out there. Trying to come up with indoor activities for a certain wildly energetic 15 month old.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hello There

Williamsburg, 2013

Awhile back, I walked in the door to Sealface, posing. He's a big thug of a cat, but he's been so patient with all the tail pulling and fur grabbing of late. Poor guy.

Things have been pretty quiet around these parts since our weekend visitors. We are gearing up for a trip to Maine for the holidays and for a big renovation project at home that means Axel's nursery will be freed up for more playtime (and a baby brother) and that we can finally take our books, photos, and more delicate objects our of boxes.

As of now, we have barricaded all the fragile, non-babyproofed things behind our sofa, and Axel has been gradually taking over the living room, so I am looking forward to having a more adult domain again soon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brooklyn for Babies 101

Axel, 2013

When you're 30, er, 30-something, and live in a city with children, you spend a lot of time wondering if you are crazy and thinking / talking / debating the merits of raising a family in an urban setting versus "out there" (a.k.a the suburbs or some hypothetical smaller city.)

It comes up in conversation constantly, and every so often a friend or acquaintance departs for some distant place where they will have multiple living spaces and grown up things like stairs, gutters, and lawns to rake, making you question your loyalties for a moment.

Needless to say, I am a big booster for bringing up babies in Brooklyn, and while I won't say we'll never leave, I often feel that way. So here's why I think the city, and Williamsburg in particular, is an amazing place for little ones and their parents. Yes, real estate and childcare are expensive. I'll probably always fantasize about having just one extra room in our apartment. But all things told, Brooklyn has been pretty great to us so far.

1) Will's 17 minute commute. 
I picked a nearby suburb in Westchester (one of those places where people brag "The train to Grand Central only takes 30 minutes, if you get an express!" and calculated that his commute would take an hour and 11 minutes, not accounting for traffic or train delays. Living where we live means Will gets to spend an extra 108 minutes a day with us, at the gym, seeing friends, working, take your pick. That's 540 extra minutes a week, or 9 hours. If we lived "out there", he'd spend around 45 hours a month commuting. And given that we already feel there are too few hours in the day, I think that just might stretch us beyond our limits.

2) The community of local parents. 
When I was pregnant with Axel, I joined the Brooklyn Baby Hui, an online message board for local parents. Last time I checked, there were 4933 members, the majority of them living in the immediate area. My sub-group, for babies born in the spring and summer of 2013, has 159 members. That's 159 potential little friends for Axel, and 159 sets of parents who we have a good amount in common with, living nearby. Before having a baby, I read a lot about mothers who feel isolated with a newborn, but in the early months with Axel, my days were busy with low key meetups just a few blocks from home. Every day, my inbox is full of local parents trading tips, planning events, or offering useful baby gear for sale, and when I wander around the neighborhood, I can barely walk a block without running into parents we know.

3) Walkability. 
Though we have a car in the city, I am not much of a fan of driving. And I love how Williamsburg feels like a little village, with just about everything we could need from groceries, to good coffee, to books, to wine, to playgrounds, to clothing shops, within a few steps from home. When you live in the city, you live in a smaller space, so you spend much of your days outside. This means Axel is really used to his stroller, and an outing doesn't seem like much of a production (thanks to stroller naps, it also doesn't mess with his sleep.) The fact that everything is so close to home means that outings are also pretty low stakes. If I forget to re-stock his diapers, I'm 5 minutes from home; if he's having a meltdown, we can always turn around and try again in a half an hour. Because we don't have to bundle him into the car, get to wherever it is we're going, find parking and so on, getting out and about never feels like a challenge.

4) There's plenty to keep the adults entertained. 
Yes, your lifestyle and your priorities change when you have children. But in some ways, our life isn't all that different than it was before, because there are plenty of cool places nearby where Axel is welcome, and that make us feel like we're still somewhat plugged into city life. Whether it's lazy afternoons at Spritzenhaus, breakfasts at Egg, or drinks at a sidewalk cafe on a summer afternoon, it's pretty easy to incorporate children into your adult life here. And most everywhere has a high chair. I think the result of this is that city kids get used to being in adult spaces, and kind of learn to adapt and behave accordingly. Sure, we go to the playground a ton too, but there aren't many places in Brooklyn that are no go zones for kids. There's even a little play kitchen and children's area at the local organic wine shop (go figure.) We get to go out with Axel and feel like human beings, without hearing "It's a Small World" on loop.

5) There are tons of lovely independent children's shops. 
When we need to buy an umbrella stroller, or upgrade to a double stroller, or stock up on bibs or bottles, we head to Wee Babe, a small store where the people are really knowledgable and helpful. They keep your warranties on record, will happily order something for you if it's not in stock, and you get to escape the angst that comes with navigating a big box store. And there are tons of other great children's shops in the area, like Caribou Baby, Allegria, Wonderwolf, Mini Jake, Willy's Toy Box, Smoochie Baby, Sweet William, and Flying Squirrel. Of course, we can always rely on Amazon Prime, but I like supporting local businesses and knowing that if I lose some key piece of baby equipment, it's no big deal to run out and replace it.

6) There are children's classes aplenty. 
It's almost mind-boggling how many organized activities for children there are locally. If you want to be a soccer mom, you can take your kids to Super Soccer Stars at Bushwick Inlet Park. There are dozens of music classes, art classes, movement classes, and things like Sesame Street screenings at Videology. So far our favorite has been Aqua Beba, for swimming, but Axel loves his free (or very inexpensive) drop in classes at places like the Knitting Factory, the local libraries, and the McCarren Park Playcenter, which mean there are last minute things to do even if you are loathe to commit to a class series or spend money on esoteric enrichment activities.

7) Etc. 
Bodegas are open 24-hours a day, so if you ever run out of milk, formula, or diapers, you're in luck. * There are cool things like chocolate factories, farmer's markets, and musicians playing on street corners, so a stroller ride around the block can easily become a family adventure. * It's a diverse community; Axel has friends whose parents are successful artists, designers, financiers, filmmakers, gallerists, restaurant owners, diplomats, and more. I love thinking that when he grows up, he'll know that the sky's the limit. * The East River Ferry, which is an incredibly kid friendly way to get around. * The backdrop of one of our favorite playgrounds is the Manhattan skyline. * There are tons of pre-natal resources, from yoga classes to childbirth classes (not to mention all the incredible local doulas.) * Delivery! When you're too exhausted to cook, you can order from some really excellent spots, like Qi for Thai, Best Pizza, or pretty much any time of food you could be craving.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Loveliness

New York, 2013

It was such a gorgeous, warm fall day today and the perfect weather to see the changing colors on the Highline and in East River State Park.

Even the cranky old geese were in a good mood.


Williamsburg, 2013

Will's sister and brother in law have been visiting from London so we had an action packed weekend, with trips to the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Streb, and Motorino...

More to come later!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

I know it's technically still fall, but when the temperature is 38 degrees out, I call it winter.

I'll admit I have nerves about a winter pregnancy, because I tend to struggle a bit with the shorter, darker days and with feeling cooped up at home. I love the run up to the holidays, and all of the cooking and planning that that entails, but on a day to day basis, all the layers and logistics of going outside make me rather grumpy.

My spring and summer pregnancy with Axel was pretty great. We had a really mild winter that year, and I took little jaunts to Nevis and to the Virgin Islands, and then spent much of the summer in sundresses and flip flops, eating watermelon slices. There were a few unbearably hot days here and there, but I was generally blissed out from all of the Vitamin D and didn't really mind.

Alas, today I finally put all of my summer-ish clothes into a box under the bed, and it was a funny experience. I am not much of a clothes horse, but even so, a lot of our identity is wrapped up in why we wear what we wear. And it made me laugh to see that all of my warm weather clothes are suited more to traipsing around Vietnam or Morocco or India (in fact, a lot of them were purchased there) than they are to life in Brooklyn.

Of course, a few years ago, I was doing a ton of traipsing, for professional reasons and for the plain old adventure. But looking at all the floaty skirts and beaded tops (many of them, sadly, a little worse for wear) made me realize that that it feels like that phase of my life is indefinitely on hold. It's not that we aren't going to travel; it's just not going to be the freewheeling kind of stuff it once was, at least for a while.

When you are in the thick of the baby years, clothes get complicated. It was funny to see this shopworn pile of colorful things from what feels like a past life. In becoming a parent, so many of us are determined not to lose our identities. But those identities change. I could toss everything out, beginning again after this baby. But even the notion of that simple act sets my mind spinning...'Well, I should really wait until I am done with pregnancies and those early, messy baby years to really make any big changes...' I'm not quite ready to get rid of the improbable, impractical skirt.

It's no secret that Will and I would like a tribe, if nature agrees with our plans. We are set on three children, but in casual conversation with friends Will will slip in 'or four'...and hahahahahahaha. We'll see. So the idea of this post-infant phase, when my body is again my own and I am not likely to have banana wiped on my pants and will once again wander through markets in India? It's seeming like it's a long way away.

 I know, I know, one thing at a time. It's just that I am a planner. And so a simple errand goes from zero to 'How the hell are we going to raise four kids in the city' in about 30 seconds.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

I wasn't working full time when Axel was born, but when an editor I'd worked with several times before reached out to me when he was around two weeks old and asked if I could commit to a project that began a few months later, I said yes without much hesitation.

It's not that I feared being at home alone with a baby. It was complicated. I had been out of (solid) work for most of my pregnancy, and we had just purchased a new home. So the idea of contributing financially made a lot of sense to me, and it seemed like all around me people had plans to go back to work once their 12 weeks leave was up.

The project I signed on for soon dovetailed into other projects and it turned out that I worked full time, in an office, for a year. I learned a lot from working as a parent. Like that 11 weeks is waaaay too early to go back to work.

I'm ultimately glad I said yes, and took the challenge, because it gave me a great deal of insight into the trade offs that come with working when you have a small baby at home. And we got incredibly lucky with our nanny, and with Axel, who is an outgoing, happy guy, who has never had much in the way of separation anxiety. Some days I loved it. I think having more than just Will and I in his life has helped shape Axel into the sunny, flexible little person he has become. I dutifully read Lean In.

But the first few months were harder than anything I'd done before. Harder than labor, than waking up with a newborn, than all of the psychological ups and downs that come with pregnancy. I felt totally disorganized on the homefront, most days. I could get to work, and get home again, and give Axel some time, but after that, there was nothing left.

Now that I'm back at home, I miss work, but I'm also aware that if I were to start almost anything before my due date, I'd be lucky to get 2 or 4 or 6 weeks off, let alone 12 (you only qualify for FMLA if you have been in a job for a year and the company has more than a certain number of employees.) To me, having been through all of that once before, that just seems untenable.

So, this time, in the interest of having at least six months off with baby #2, my plan is to take whatever assignments may come my way, of course, but not to look for work in earnest until early to mid-summer, with the hopes of beginning something next fall.

Until February, that means I'm sort of in limbo, but I'm trying to make the most of it. I just wish that it didn't feel like the choice had been made for me.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Williamsburg, 2013

Well hello there. We had a pretty low key Saturday and Sunday around Williamsburg...went to Spritzenhaus and saw Captain Phillips in the movie theatre, which was very good. Saw some friends. It's sort of the fall calm before the holiday storm around here, with lots of turkeys, visitors, and parties around the corner. At least, that's my justification for being very unambitious on the weekends.

This last photo is of Axel, relaxing on his reading pillow (when he's not being a whirling dervish, he loves to relax!) He's a really cute age at the moment. I know, I know, they're all cute ages. But lately he's just particularly funny as he careens around the living room, climbing everything, getting into his toy baskets, and saying Hi and Uh Oh on repeat.
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