Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Playdates

Today we had two fun playdates, one with my friend Gry and her son Luka:


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Gry has this smock/bib that she uses for Luka when he eats. I love this thing! I tried it out on Ari and he actually kept it on! I guess it's not like a traditional bib, it's more like a shirt. So, he was okay with wearing it.


I would love to copy her and purchase the smock bib for myself, but unfortunately, she bought it in Norway. Sad!

After Ari's nap, my friend Alli came over to my place with her son, Aaron. They spent the majority of their time pushing each other in the Cozy Coupe, while Alii and I talked about astrology.

And there was a Cozy Coupe collaboration....

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Ah Mondays....

Java Love...At 18 Months

My love affair with coffee began in May 2008 when my son was born. That steaming cup in the morning makes me feel more like a human being than a blob of incoherency. Recently, my son started to take notice of my dear friend, the coffee mug, and his curiosity got the best of him.


**Fortunately, the above is just a reenactment of what actually occurred. I placed an empty mug on the coffee table and he went for the mug. This was done to demonstrate how much he is interested in coffee.


One day, when I was in a morning haze, I placed my coffee mug on the coffee table distractedly. I look over and found my son had grabbed the mug and was in the process of taking a giant gulp of my prized beverage; I was horrified.

One would think after this experience it would be best to keep an eye on one's coffee mug more closely. But no, regretfully I report that the very next day he got to the coffee mug again.

Since these incidents, I no longer keep my coffee mug on the coffee table. It is hidden in an abstract corner of the room away from little hand's grasp.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brenda's New Bag: A Photo Story...









Garden Living


"When it's cold outside, I want the month of May..." I agree with The Temptations. I, too, would relish in May's whether right now. But alas, winter is here, despite global warming's attempts to thwart it's arrival.

So what do we do? We go to the garden. Not the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (which is an excellent option by the by) but the Fader Garden. My parents have a backyard that my mom has been cultivating since 1999. Recently, my son has grown to love this place.




He runs around, sometimes in his pajamas, sometimes in clothes, but don't worry Jewish mothers: he is warm enough!

He loves to stick his hands in the dirtiest possible things he can, the bird bath and its disgusting water etc. But his activities are not all gross. he also will eat the fresh fruits and vegetables that my mom grows, i.e. broccoli, raspberries, lettuce and more.

When we don't feel like braving the cold to get to the playground, we hit up the Fader Garden.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photo Shoot With Noe DeWitt

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend Mint, my son and I had the opportunity to have a photo shoot with professional photographer Noe DeWiit.

Here are some of the photos from the shoot. Unfortunately, my son was in a cranky mood that day, so he doesn't look pleased. But this bares no reflection on Noe's work. Mr. DeWitt is a fantastic artist, and does amazing child photography in particular.









Check out more of Noe Dewitt's work here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Interview With a 3 Year Old

Here is a funny interview with a three year old that I read in Time Out New York Kids!


Mom and Other Electronically Inspired Words!

I have waited 18 long months to hear this word, and the day has finally come. So here it is folks, my son said...."mom mom!"


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Though it is a little bit creepy, as it speaks in a strange robotic voice, this book did inspire my child to speak more. I remember months ago, My friend Gry and I were mocking it's weirdness and then....all of a sudden, my son blurted out: "Da da!" in response to a metallic: "Daddy, daddy plays with baby."


Oh, and as an added bonus, he also said:


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rode a Bike at Brooklyn New School and Learned to Recycle One Too!

Yesterday, I was present for a tremendous charitable event. The Netherlands Ministry of Transport donated 400 bicycles to Recycle-a-Bicycle, a non-for-profit organization that takes donated old bicycles and parts and fixes them up to sell in their retail stores.

This donation took place at The Brooklyn New School, a progressive public elementary school on the border of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, where I was subbing. The reason for the donation: to teach children (who don't know already) how to ride a bike through a community organization called "Learn to Ride."

Because of the Dutch government's generosity, I too was afforded the opportunity to ride one of the bikes, as were permanent teachers and the entire 5th grade class.

Thank you Netherlands!

According to Camiel Eurlings, Minister of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management in The Netherlands (who spoke at Brooklyn New School's event) bicycling is so popular in The Netherlands, that the amount of bicycles nearly out numbers the Dutch population.

The Learn to Ride effort began at The Brooklyn New School. It was great to see children who had never gotten on a bicycle before have the opportunity to do so.

I told the representative at Recycle-a-Bicycle that I hope to purchase my son's first bicycle from them someday.

For more information on Recycle-a-Bicycle click here. For information on The Brooklyn New School, click here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Pat The Bunny" : A Classic Book Lives On

"Pat the Bunny" has been in print for over 60 years. See info here. I have vivid memories of my mom reading it to me when I was a child. The "Pat the Bunny" tradition has continued as my brother and sister in-law gave me a copy for my 30th birthday present. The card attached read something like "For you to share with Ari."



What's funny is that my friend Josina and I were recently discussing this classic book. When her son, Nelson, was born she was bombarded with multiple copies of "Goodnight Moon." But no one bothered to throw in a "Pat the Bunny." I commiserated with her lack of "Pat the Bunny-dom." Until my brother and sister in-law filled the void.

Before receiving my own copy of "Pat the Bunny," I tried to request it at the library; but received a curious response. The children's librarian informed me that because "Pat the Bunny" is a touch and feel book with multiple textures, it is a liability. Apparently children could injure the book and it could potentially injure them if they were allergic to the particular textures in it. I found this all very bizarre.

Thankfully, I have my very own copy now. And my son loves it. See for yourself:


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Here is a link to purchase the original Pat The Bunny book on Amazon.com:

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Midnight Show

Before I had a child I could barely stay up past 11pm. I know, it's sort of pathetic; but, I was a "day person."

After I had my son, my inner clock was entirely re-wired and I was no longer a "day person." In fact, I don't know what I am anymore. I have grown used to be arisen at whatever hour is convenient for my son.

Which leads me to my latest obsession: the midnight movie.

Living in New York City, one has access to this late night treat, and now that my sleep schedule is all out of wack, I fully appreciate the midnight movie.

Some weeks ago, my boyfriend promised to take me to the see "New Moon" (the latest film adaptation of the Twilight book saga) upon it's release. We decided that we would take a nap, at 9pm, and when we woke up we would head out to the midnight show. He had already arranged for my mom to babysit; which required her sitting on the couch, drinking tea and watching TV since our boy was sound asleep.

Good things about the midnight show:
1. We found parking almost immediately. Since it is not a high traffic time, it was easy to secure street parking at a meter, which (by the way) we did not have to pay for since it was after 7pm!
2. There were available tickets since this is an odd hour to watch a film.
3. Since it was after dinner, we could just zip over to the movies and zip back. We didn't have to worry about waiting for food at a restaurant. **
4. The ride home took 5 minutes because there were virtually no cars out on the road.

I love the midnight movie. I think we may make this one a regular event.


**Generally, when I am at a restaurant table without my child, my attention span goes out the window and I sit there continuously thinking/worrying about my son. Please note, that I have the opportunity to go out to eat 0.00001 % of the time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged...The Sleep Issue

When you are a new parent, as I am, you often question what you're doing. When my son was an infant he had his days and nights reversed. He would stay up all night and sleep/nap all day. I heard talk that this was normal, so I bared with this process. Until he hit four months and he was still doing the same thing; staying up at night and sleeping all day.

I was going out of my mind. hysterically crying for lack of sleep, unable to function during the day because I was awake all night long walking him, singing to him, rocking him.

So I decided to try the sleep training method. When he would wake up at midnight and 3am, I would let him cry for 15-20 minutes and he would fall back asleep. It was excruciating. It was very hard to listen to my own son cry, but I knew that he needed to learn the difference between day and night. It is took 4-5 days, but eventually he learned to sleep at night.

I know that each parent has a different sleep philosophy. Sleep training isn't for every family. Some people choose to utilize the family bed, where everyone sleeps together. Others don't believe in letting a baby cry to fall asleep. I am just sharing what worked for me.

I will tell you this: I hear a lot of judgment out there with regard to how parents choose to let their children fall asleep.

The bottom line is, whatever works for you and your family is fine; but judging another person's choice in parenting is hurtful and unproductive. What works for you and yours may not work for someone else and theirs.

I say, however you get your child to sleep the best, stick with that method!

The Independent Party of The House

My son has shown a penchant for independence at a very young age. I am writing this post so that I can remember these funny behaviors when my memory ceases to exist at a later time in life.


Four Months: Gave up his pacifier without being coaxed to do so
Four Months: Slept through the night
Six Months: Gave up bottle with pumped Breast Milk. Would only nurse exclusively
14 Months: Refused to be fed. Insisted upon feeding himself, spoon and all...


16 Months: Refused to let anyone hold a book other than himself. He would also be responsible for turning the pages


18 Months: Refused to wear a bib
18 Months: Became the pickiest eater known to the human race

And the independent behavior continues. I am looking forward to seeing how he develops and what his new idiosyncrasies are.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Homemade Bread Crumbs + Chicken Breast Recipe

I enjoy cooking, but at the end of the day after caring for my toddler son, I am exhausted and I don't want to deal with multiple ingredients and complicated directions. So here's a recipe for those of you who have the same dread about turning on the oven. It even involves making your own breadcrumbs!

Ingredients:
--Boneless skinless chicken breast-- usually around three come in a package- The brand I used was Empire Kosher Organic.
--2 cloves of fresh peeled garlic
--2 slices of bread (I used whole wheat, but really any bread will do).
--Three large tablespoons of mayonnaise (I use Safflower Mayonasie because it tastes better and is slightly healthier than regular mayo)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven t0 300 degrees.

2. Take slices of bread and place them in oven for 15 minutes or until crispy. **note, do not raise the temperature from 300! Your bread will burn.

3. Remove slices of bread and place in two zip lock bags.
4. Take a rolling pin, use all the aggression and frustration you have (I don't know about you, but I have a bunch) and roll the crap out of those pieces of bread.

5. At this end of this cathartic process, you (theoretically) should have two zip lock bags full of fine breadcrumbs. Place them in a medium sized bowl and take out your handy dandy cheese grater.


5. The next two ingredients you will need are the mayonnaise and the garlic; Garlic first.
One by one take two cloves of garlic and shred them (using the cheese grater) into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Then mix the shredded garlic with your homemade breadcrumbs. You can add whatever spices you like, salt, pepper, basil, cumin etc.

**Note I could not take pictures of the next part of the process because my hands were covered in mayonnaise!

6. Take the chicken breast and place in the largest bowl you have. Spoon the mayonnaise onto the chicken and spread all over with your hands.

7. Then, dip the chicken into your bread crumb concoction one side and then the other. You're going to want to wash your hands after your brush with the mayonnaise...

8. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.

9. Pour some olive oil (or any oil you like) on a glass pan (I use my glass pyrex pans for this meal) and place chicken in pan.

10. Place in oven. Your breaded chicken should look like this:

**Note, I added some hot sauce which is why this chicken is tinged with a red hue.

11. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Set your timer!

12. After 30 minutes broil on high for 3-5 minutes to give the chicken a crispy effect.

13. Take chicken out of oven and enjoy! I know my son did...

The Ketchup Story

Let me tell you a story about ketchup:

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Ari. One Friday evening, Ari, his mom and his Aunt Mint went out for dinner at a restaurant called "Chat And Chew" in Union Square.

All was well at first. Ari's mom was munching away at her quintessential macaroni and cheese and sweet potato fries and Mint was enjoying her shrimp and her own plate of sweet potato fries.

Ari's mom set aside a portion of food for him on the sweet potato fry plate. Then something curious happened. Ari began to dip his fries in ketchup!


Ari had eaten french fries before, but had never been interested in ketchup.

Mint's eyes widened and she exclaimed:
"He's not eating the fries! He's just licking the ketchup off of them and putting back on the plate!"

Ari's eyes then began to widen. He grabbed a glass of water, screamed and poured it all over the table. Ari's mom covered her eyes. She could not bear to watch. He stood up in the restaurant high chair waving his arms and yelled:

"Aaa eh! Aaa eeh! Aaa eeh!" His face was covered in ketchup.

The restaurant patrons stared and gawked as Ari began to spin out of control.

"You know, ketchup is made almost entirely of sugar?" Mint asked Ari's mom.
"Well," replied Ari's mom "That explains it."

So Mint and Ari's mom cleaned up the restaurant table, apologized to the horrified waiter and went off into the night.

The moral of the story: keep your toddler away from ketchup.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Let's Go Bib-less Now, Everybody Bib-less Now, Come On Go Bib-less With Me!

My son hit 18 months and he decided that he no longer wants to wear a bib.


He is a big boy now; which means he has evolved past the bib. This makes for a huge mess after each meal he consumes.

But he doesn't care. Nothing or no one with make him don a bib. My mom even tried to put a dish cloth around his neck to prevent spillage; but he ripped it off of himself hastily and continued devouring his oatmeal.

The lack of bib bothers me. It means I have to do twice as much laundry and I end up having to rinse out his clothes after every meal. But he is content to have food all over himself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Love

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Strawberry Milk

On my quest to get my son to drink milk, I attempted an experiment. My best friend, Mint, suggested that I try making my own organic strawberry milk.

Here's how it works:

1. Take frozen organic strawberries. (Mine are already ripped open from use in this pic).


2. Organic Milk (Whole, Skim, 1%, 2% whatever you want, even soy or almond!)

3. Boil the frozen stawberries in a pot with water.
4. Mix strawberry water with milk and combine in a sippy cup or whatever drinking vessel you please.

5. Enjoy!



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Trouble With Chocolate Milk

As if it weren't enough to have a picky eater in the house, I have a picky eater who refuses to drink as well. My son does not want anything to do with milk.


Though he does find the container fascinating, he won't drink the stuff. When I offer him a cup of milk he looks at me like I must be joking. "Does she really think I'll drink that?"


I thought about a solution to this dilemma. My pediatrician told me that as long as he is eating tons of yogurt, he is getting the appropriate amount of calcium; and I give him a teaspoon of cod liver oil daily,which is full of vitamin D. Nevertheless, I still feel strongly that he should drink whole milk for its vitamin D calcium contents.

I took a moment, and I thought about my own childhood. I remembered my parents giving me chocolate milk. Apparently, my mom tells me, that my brother and I repeatedly asked for soda and she refused. She replied:

"You can have milk soda!" And promptly gave us chocolate milk made from a powder that was fortified with vitamins.

I was desperate to get my child to drink milk. I thought to myself, I might as well try chocolate milk on my boy. If it will get him to drink milk, why not? So I went out and bought the notorious chocolate powder.

Needless to say, he loved it. He goobled up the milk by the sippy cup. But then I noticed he started to act strangely aggressive and hyper. I had a funny feeling about my recent purchase. So I looked at the ingredients to my favorite childhood vitamin fortified chocolate powder. I was not suprised to find that it was full of articifical flavors, but I was curious about the dyes that were used in this product.

So I wrote the company:

"I was wondering about a few of the ingredients in this product. I was concerned with giving my 18 month old son products with artificial ingredients. I noticed that this product has yellow dye #6, blue dye number 1 and Red dye #40. How do these dyes affect the content of this product?"

And the company wrote back:

All food colors used in food production meet stringent FDA requirements and are safe for consumption. Current labeling regulations include listing food colors that gives consumers the option to evaluate the ingredients. The dyes in this product are necessary to maintain an appealing color when mixed with milk because of the high vitamin and mineral content.

And I wrote the company again:

Where do the dyes come from? What are they made of?

And they wrote back yet again:

The dyes you referenced are synthetic color additives certified by the Food & Drug Administration; their exact composition is proprietary by their vendor.

Still not satisfied, I googled "synthetic color additives" and found a very interesting article. Apparently, these particular dyes in question are associated with hyperactivity in children.

Take a look at the article here.

So the chocolate milk distribution has stopped in this house. However, I just ordered some organic vanilla beans online. I am planning to make my own vanilla milk! Stay tuned for more on the milk issue.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's Never Too Early to Lend a Helping Hand

As a child, I detested cleaning. I haven't changed much, I still hate cleaning. My son, on the other hand, has shown a vested interested in cleaning in many different forms. Here are just two examples of his tidy behavior. And he is only 18 months old!

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Where There is Yard, There Will Be Yard Sales

When you live in New York City, as I do, it is very rare that you find a genuine bargain. Sure, there are "Stoop Sales," whereby apartment dwellers shed their excess belongings to passerbys. Sometimes you can find great deals at these cement based sales. But it is hard to top what is known in the suburbs as the "Yard Sale."

The Yard Sale (or Garage Sale as some like to call it, as the seller is selling the virtually the entire contents of their garage) is a place to find childhood treasures and maybe a little something nice for yourself.

Check out my finds at these Texas suburb based Yard Sales:

1. Hungry Hungry Hippos
Price: $2.00
Reason for purchase: This is a 1980's childhood classic. I can't wait until my son is old enough to appreciate this fast-paced marble shooting game.

2. Eddie Bauer Diaper Bag
Price: $2.00
Reason For Purchase: I did not have a diaper bag and could not afford to purchase a new one. At $2.00 it was hard to say no!

3. Mother Goose Board Books
Price: 25 cents a piece- $1.00 for the set.
Reason For Purchase: I noticed a smaller sale that wasn't getting as much attention. The seller- little boy- looked disheartened about the lack of customer traffic coming his way. So I bought something to make him feel better.

4. Von Dutch Purse
Price: $8.00
Reason For Purchase: This bag had a retail stick on it for $70.00. I figure, I can treat myself....right?

Why pay full price at a retail store when you uncover treasures at a Yard Sale!