“If I Could Do It All Over” Baby Registry Part 1

When you’re expecting your first little one, it’s exciting to create your baby registry, but it’s also frustrating. You’ve never done it before, so how would you know which stroller will fit your lifestyle best or which nursing pillow makes life easiest? I will go over the best of the best in each category and tell you what you can leave off your list as well! I hope this helps you create your perfect baby registry!

First comes first: where to register? I registered at BuyBuyBaby and Amazon, which was fine, but looking back, I think the winning combination is… drum roll… Amazon and Target. I had no issues with BuyBuyBaby, but I definitely got a bit jelly when I checked out a couple of my friends’ Target registries. A good barometer is the fact that these two stores continue to provide me with everything I need for Pookie, so it makes sense that they would’ve been a great place to start! Start your registry at Amazon and Target today!

In-store consultation- useful or a waste of time?

I had an in-store consultation at BuyBuyBaby, which I found a bit fun, but frustrating. I definitely felt pressured into registering for things I didn’t need and ended up indeed not needing. So, if you do go for this kind of thing, do it just for fun, and don’t let them pressure you into registering for silly crap!

Part 1: Mobility and Bedding

This sounds like a strange combo, right? Well, you’ll see why it makes sense!

Stroller

One of our favorite and most used registry items has to be our //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01MY06RYU&asins=B01MY06RYU&linkId=ed2f2ca4638b1a561b6418ae5cce2f1f&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>UPPAbaby Vista stroller, which comes with a bassinet for the first six or so months (when baby should lay flat) and a toddler seat (for when baby has more neck control). It also comes with a rain shield and bug net. As a stroller, I think it’s perfect. It’s got incredible wheels for handling whack sidewalks. You can even jog with this stroller, and you never have to inflate the wheels! It takes the cake when it comes to storage space, which is key if you live in a walkable city and plan to do a lot of shopping on foot with baby. But here’s the kicker…

It doubles as an actual bassinet! Pookie was so cozy in the bassinet that we used it as his bed. You can get the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00NF9HH4U&asins=B00NF9HH4U&linkId=5547972180b8d01e501430554c9e7fde&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>UPPAbaby bassinet stand for it, and voilà, it’s a bed! In my opinion, there is no real need to get a separate bassinet when you have this stroller, especially if you live in a shoebox!

Oh, and for those fun pee, puke or worse accidents, get an extra //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00NF9HIUI&asins=B00NF9HIUI&linkId=1a622f07cd5cbf534fc15d2c08a6f9c2&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>mattress cover for the bassinet mattress! That came in handy many times for us!

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Here is Pookie snoozing away in the UPPAbaby bassinet. Here we didn’t even bother putting it on the stand.

Co-Sleepers, if you insist

Ok, let’s face it. For the first few months of your baby’s life, your main obsession is how can we all get some sleep, so if you have the space, you might also want the following items: the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00JXN54DI&asins=B00JXN54DI&linkId=7c0978c94ca513dd99ac9e6106139339&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper and the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B06XGYJ9NL&asins=B06XGYJ9NL&linkId=5ad5d734c1a5c9bbca5ad17fe337f8e0&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>DockATot. The HALO sleeper is perfect for those middle of the night feedings because baby is right next to you without being IN bed with you. You can (duh!) swivel her so that she practically is in bed with you, but not. And then there’s the DockATot! Even if you insist that baby will never be in bed with you, chances are it’ll happen in the middle of the occasional desperate, sleepless night, and when it does, you’ll be happy to have the DockATot! I mean, wouldn’t you love to sleep in that thing? It’s basically a super cozy little docking station for your baby to sleep more safely in bed with you or to feel cozy and happy when being transitioned into the crib. My friends who have this are obsessed!

Crib

Here’s an important tip. Don’t even think about getting a mini crib!! We got one, thinking… actually, I don’t know what we were thinking. It was a total waste! Pookie became too big for it in no time, and we had to get a regular crib, which we had to get either way. Take my advice, when it comes to cribs, just go for the full sized crib. If you want a sleek (small-ish footprint) crib, go for the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00MHMEP3W&asins=B00MHMEP3W&linkId=5fab2cb3701e7dcffdefd2606cfa1a9d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Bloom Alma Papa Crib. We love ours!

Mattress and other bedding necessities

I had a super difficult time selecting a mattress. Of course, we wanted the best, most hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, organic mattress possible without having to spend a fortune, and, after hours of research, we went with the Colgate Eco Classica III Dual Firmness Eco Friendlier Crib //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B004O6M4M8&asins=B004O6M4M8&linkId=2f4d5013e344632c012dd676b7d03b16&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Mattress with Organic Cotton Cover. What a mouthful! Don’t forget sheets (any will do, but //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01LYKY8SM&asins=B01LYKY8SM&linkId=02d25af37b2b40d4a6f4b712850c52f8&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>these by Burt’s Bees look so nice, and they’re organic!) and an organic mattress protector like //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00POWK7TI&asins=B00POWK7TI&linkId=bfb1c96d89e7888c6bac2e491eb26e0a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>this.

So, I know a lot of sites say not to get bumpers, but I disagree! Pookie kept bumping his head on the bars of his crib and getting a foot or hand stuck between them. Before we got our bumper, out of desperation, we wound a towel between the bars because we didn’t want him to hurt himself, but then said “this is stupid. Let’s get a bumper.” Good decision. We got the BreathableBaby Breathable Mesh //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01DJLG3GG&asins=B01DJLG3GG&linkId=792c61dd72d900b7d7e1b30b19525da6&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Crib Liner, which I guess is called a “crib liner” because the word “bumper” has become so taboo, but it’s essentially a lightweight bumper that baby can breathe through if indeed she buries her entire face in it, which she likely won’t do anyway. We love it, and, since we got the safari print, we have fun every morning talking to Pookie about the “mommy monkey and baby monkey,” etc.

Car seat

As you know, you need an infant car seat in order to leave the hospital. We borrowed the UPPAbaby Mesa //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01NBMKNHV&asins=B01NBMKNHV&linkId=6b7a7c25be7fad7e332a14f976b2702a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>car seat from a friend and found it convenient. It connects to the UPPAbaby stroller without an adapter, so for quick shopping trips or if baby falls asleep in the car and you don’t want to transfer him into the stroller, just pop the car seat onto the stroller base, and you’re good to go!

Once Pookie grew out of the Mesa, we got a //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01JSC00NW&asins=B01JSC00NW&linkId=95397aff53c0da1115e5fea98d2df790&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat and are very happy with it. Pookie approves too.

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This was back when the Pookster still fit in the UPPAbaby infant car seat. Look at those cheeks!

Second Stroller

Most people can’t get away with just one stroller. We wanted to get a light-weight stroller for traveling, for taking Pookie on the subway and for quick errands. We got the Maclaren Mark II, and while it is ultra light and does the job, if we could have a do-over, we’d get something else. I would go with the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01BJ900KA&asins=B01BJ900KA&linkId=f4c01514b026b52ac286356e1168ff0a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Babyzen 2017 Yoyo Stroller. I like it because it folds up super compact and light, but it is also sturdy and easy to push. Maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to the slightest bump, I’m just not sure how to get the Maclaren over it, or up stairs for that matter! It’s pricey, but it’s worth it since you’ll actually use it! We don’t use our Maclaren, and it was also expensive!

Extras

For the UPPAbaby Vista, you’ll want to get the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00NF9HH2M&asins=B00NF9HH2M&linkId=3579392ed9e6062321b7b77a9ada78bf&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>snack tray! It’s great for meals or snacks on the go. And of course you need a parent organizer/ cup holder like //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00KLO5F78&asins=B00KLO5F78&linkId=a8567fa97d36ee9252b423ae8eca37ad&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>this one.

And you of course need a mobile for your baby’s crib. We have a giraffe theme going on in our family, so we got a giraffe one, and Pookie loves it.

For frigid winters, you absolutely must get a //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B014UX2W3A&asins=B014UX2W3A&linkId=2b5fecb9706296f00baa77ed75eb3902&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>7am Enfant 212 Evolution Blanket with matching //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B014UX3DTW&asins=B014UX3DTW&linkId=4831b111bff46a20621c966221e7da70&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Warmmuffs to keep your hands toasty. These are necessities! With the blanket, which is really a bunting, you don’t have to bundle up your baby with crazy layers only to have to take them all off each time you enter a joint. And, most babies hate snowsuits! Well, at least Pookie does! And the Warmmuffs are truly the best invention since sliced bread!

Lastly, you’ll also want a bunting for your infant car seat. The //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=jemappelletin-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000G7YO5E&asins=B000G7YO5E&linkId=e390d1bb0adcd1917de625f48543fe18&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>JJ Cole Bundleme works great!

Let me know if I’ve left out any bedding and mobility registry must-haves and if you agree or disagree with my recommendation! Stay tuned for Part 2 of “If I Could Do It All Over” Baby Registry!

 

Dear Dad – Letter 6

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It’s blurry, but I just love your expression in this pic. We were at Lakeside Camera taking the last couple of pictures on the roll of film before we dropped it off to get it developed.

Dear Dad,

This is just a quick note to tell you about last night’s dream. It was a short and simple dream, but it made me feel good.

RR and I were in my bedroom with the door closed, getting dressed for the day I suppose. All of a sudden, I heard your voice. You called to me from downstairslike you have done so many times before. You said, “Tiny (that’s my alias)! Open the door so that I can see you!” I turned to RR and asked “Did you hear that?” RR had heard it too. I flung the door open, thinking for some reason that you would be standing there. You weren’t there.

That’s it for the dream. It was short and sweet. It may sound sad, but it wasn’t. I woke up feeling so happy that I had heard your voice after not hearing it for so long, and I just wanted to tell you about it.

I miss your voice.

Love,

Tiny

New Yorkers Are Lovely – No, Really!

You may remember my post about my frustrating experience of having to re-park the car with Pookie. Well, today could have turned out even more exasperating than that day, but it didn’t thanks to the kindness of New Yorkers.

We have had some issues with our 1998 Chrysler lately. Actually, I need to give the car a little more credit. The problems surprisingly have little to do with the age of the car and everything to do with the fact that we left a light on in the car, which drained the battery. Because we have put off actually taking the car to the shop, every time we have to move the car (roughly twice a week), we have to count on the kindness of strangers to jumpstart our car – because the meter maids (I know – not PC at all) don’t care if your car is on fire. They will still ticket you. Or will they…?

So, today I had to move the car at 8am, and I had no babysitter, so Pookie came along. I packed up his breakfast, and we headed to the car. I thought maybe the car will miraculously start. But that was wishful thinking. I parked Pookie on the sidewalk, got out the jumper cables, opened the hood and put on my most desperate expression. After five minutes, here is what happened.

I saw a meter maid, actually a meter dude, placing tickets on the windshields of cars that no one had moved yet. He clearly had figured out my situation and did not give me a ticket, which is normal since they don’t ticket you if you are present. But then I thought why not ask him for advice. Given that he had already passed, perhaps I wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of getting the car jumped and moving it after all. He had a great idea. He said he would put a fake ticket on my windshield so that no other parking enforcement officer (I found the proper PC title for these folks) would give me a ticket.

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This ticket made our day!

Just as I was thanking him profusely, a car pulled up next to mine. Voilà, more ultra friendly and helpful New Yorkers. They told me that they had seen me standing there with a baby and jumper cables and had driven around the block to come back and help us out with a jump. I thanked them profusely as well and told them that I fortunately didn’t have to move the car after all thanks to the loveliest parking enforcement officer ever.

So, instead of having to get the car jumped, move the car and have breakfast in the backseat until we could get out of the car, I got to head to Starbucks (Shhh… don’t tell anyone) with an already cranky Pookie, and we had breakfast there. Not only was it much more pleasant for both of us (I got to have an Iced Reserve Hazelnut Bianco Latte!), but I also got the warm and fuzzies thinking about just how nice New Yorkers really are.

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Muji – Great for gifts and killing time

My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥/ 5

The other day, Pookie had woken up a bit early from his nap and turned into a cranky mess by 4pm. I needed to find a way to survive the next few hours before bedtime. I also needed to get a birthday gift for “Igor,” so we (I) decided to hit up Muji.

I managed to get Pookie’s jacket and shoes on and stuff him into his 7am Enfant Blanket 212 Evolution and, because the new Muji store opened up two blocks from our apartment, we arrived in no time! The walk over there chilled him out a bit, and by the time we entered, Pookie was a new baby.

I LOVE Muji! And so does Pookie! So, what is it? The name Muji is short for Mujirushi Ryōhin, which means no-brand quality goods in Japanese. They carry everything from skincare products, clothing and snacks to furniture, dishes and stationery. They set themselves apart with their excellent, but simple designs, high quality and reasonable prices.

Did I mention that they carry stationery?? Woah. Among so many other cute and useful office supplies, they have notebooks of all sizes, materials and varieties and pens in all colors of course, but also every tip size you can imagine so that you can find the best one for your handwriting. And you can test them all out on scratch paper, which means you can easily spend all day there!

Pookie and I had only been there for five minutes when “Ellie,” a friend of ours, walked in with her three-year-old. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had decided to spend the witching hour there. Her kiddo (obviously) loves the stationery section and had a blast testing out pens and markers.

I knew I would find Igor the perfect gift in the stationery section. Not only is she one of the most organized people I know, but she also appreciates cute crap as much as I do, so I thought she would enjoy a selection of Muji office supplies. First I picked out a couple pens (one in black and one in sky blue). Then I had to get her a clear tip double ended highlighter in pink because seriously I’ve never seen such a cool highlighter tip. I also chose some fun cat sticky notes, some to-do list sticky notes in two different sizes, and a pad of weekly schedule sticky notes.

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Then Ellie gave me the best tip ever. She pointed out that you can purchase a notebook and decorate it at their stamping station. I obviously had to personalize a notebook for Igor.

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So, I’m not completely happy with the finished result. I got a little nervous because the pressure was on to not mess it up, and meanwhile cranky mess had returned. Pookie wanted to keep ALL of the stamps, which made the process a bit frustrating. At least he never figured out how to open the stamps! Even if it’s not perfect, I think Igor will appreciate the effort!

This place gets 5 hearts for so many reasons: their beautiful and clever products, their use of little or no packaging, their low prices, their stamping station (!!) and their kid-friendliness. Pookie enjoyed the hour spent at Muji, and I feel that in a year or so he will enjoy it even more.

Suffolk Arms – It’s all right

My rating: ♥♥♥/ 5

When you and your husband only get to have date night once every 2-3 weeks, the pressure is on to make it the best night ever! I mean, when you’re paying the babysitter $20/ hr, it’d better be worth it! Am I right, or am I right? Well, RR and I had our bi-weekly date night on Friday, and, I must say, it didn’t quite live up to my (RR was cool with it) expectations.

RR had a prior engagement in the city (in Manhattan), so he had suggested we pick a place in the Lower East Side. In Manhattan? Whut? We normally NEVER go out in Manhattan, but LES is for sure one of the cooler neighborhoods in Manhattan, and it’s close to Williamsburg, where we live. So, I thought why not!

While on a previous date night, we had gone the fancy route at Leuca in the William Vale, on this night, I thought we’d go the bar-hopping fun route. And by bar-hopping, I mean, dinner in one place and then one more drink at another place. I know – we’re wild.

I’m so out of the loop though and thus had no idea where to go. Of course, I turned to Yelp and somehow landed on Suffolk Arms. According to the website, it’s a “cocktail pub,” and I think that sums it up perfectly. It has an extensive cocktail list and a short menu of mostly greasy bar food.

Since being pregnant, having Pookie and then breast-feeding for 13 months, I basically have lost interest in cocktails, so I got (woah Nelly!) a glass of prosecco, but RR went with a cocktail. He chose “Ready Fire Aim,” and they were not kidding about the “Fire” part. At first, it tasted delicious, but then after a couple sips, he decided he couldn’t drink it. I thought he was just being a wuss, so I said I’d drink it, but then after a couple sips, my lips were burning and actually really hurting, so we had to admit to the server that we couldn’t handle it. If you love spicy drinks, go for it because it tasted so good, but maybe ask the bartender to chill out on the hot sauce.

 

The food menu consists of burgers and the like, but also a few New York-themed items, which we enjoyed. I’m not a fan of matzo ball soup, but RR loves it so we got a bowl of that. Unfortunately, it was beyond bland, and even RR didn’t like it. We also got tater tots and the chopped cheese, which were both amazing. But, what is a chopped cheese, you might ask.

 

The chopped cheese is an iconic sandwich of Harlem and the Bronx that you could historically only find in bodegas (that’s an NYC convenience/ food store). It’s made of ground beef, onions and bell peppers that are grilled with melted cheese and dressed on a hero roll. The fact that RR and I had it in a restaurant in the LES probably has at least something to do with the recent “discovery” of the sandwich by white foodies. For example, you can see Anthony Bourdain chowing down on one in an episode of “Parts Unknown” and Sarah offering her thoughts on the sandwich in an INSIDER food video. But if you really want to understand the chopped cheese, watch writer and YouTuber Jeffrey Almonte’s hilarious video in which he slams INSIDER food for having “Columbus Syndrome” and claiming to “discover” this sandwich that “nobody knows about.” You could also check out First We Feast’s excellent documentary about it.

While I do feel bad that we have now (unwittingly) supported the “Columbusing” of the chopped cheese, we did find out that the chef at Suffolk Arms features the chopped cheese on the menu because he actually hails from the Bronx. He even stays true to the sandwich by not inflating the price. You can get it there for $5, and it tastes quite delicious.

So, Suffolk Arms lost a heart because of the horrible matzo ball soup and another one because of the atmosphere. We had expected warm and cozy pub, and instead got loud, bad music-playing, bright light-shining, cold-air-coming-through-the-taped-up-windows, whatever bar. This would work for guys night out perhaps, but not for date night.

For afterwards, I had made a reservation at “speakeasy” Garfunkel’s for a drink, but after 10 minutes of waiting while the bouncer spoke into his headset, we felt so damn old and annoyed that we said never mind and went home.

Hopefully next date night doesn’t suck ass as much as this one did. Or perhaps I need to lower my expectations and stop hyping date night so much? I’ll work on that, but we will for sure stay in Brooklyn from now on. What were we thinking?!

 

What to Do When Your Toddler Becomes Obsessed with Your Smartphone

Let’s face it. Our little ones want to be just like us, so they copy what we do and have a strong desire to explore the things we use on a daily basis, be it the pots and pans, our make-up bag, the remote control and, above all else, our smartphones. The fact that most of us are addicted to our smartphones can make our toddlers downright obsessed.

You’ve likely read about the negative effects of screen time on children, and you thus try your best to keep it to a minimum. You are right to do so, for the latest research shows that smartphone use can impair children’s development, can lead to behavior problems and can even be as addictive as a gram of cocaine in older children. What?!

Well-meaning articles tell you that if you don’t want your child staring at a screen, then you need to put down your devices as well. While this is excellent advice, we all know that it isn’t always possible. Perhaps there is an important phone call that we cannot ignore or an email that we absolutely must send out, and so on and so on. Here I will give you tips that work, but that are also reasonable in 2018.  

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I know I said that my tips would be reasonable, but I had to start by saying that the less your toddler sees your smartphone, tablet or laptop, the less opportunity they have to use it.

My best advice here is to try your best to keep your smartphone accessible to you but out of sight for your kiddo. Keep it in your pocket or your bra or inside of your purse or diaper bag, behind a pillow or under a book, etc. Get creative with your hiding spots.

When possible, try to schedule calls and check email during nap time or after bedtime. I don’t know about you, but I can focus much better when I don’t have a Pookie pointing at my phone and screaming his head off. If you must answer a phone call during waking hours, try using speakerphone, headphones or better yet, wireless headphones so that you can take the call without having that sexy phone attached to your ear. When emailing or texting, voice recognition software can also prove quite helpful.

Distraction

We’ve all been there. You tried my first set of tips, but I promised to be realistic, and I know that those don’t always work. So, despite your best efforts at hiding the coveted devices, your little dude or dudette has spotted the phone or tablet and may even have it in hand. What to do now.

Your go-to first option should be distraction. Take the device away, put it out of sight and offer another tantalizing toy. Is there such a thing? Hopefully. Try a kids toy smartphone, for example. This one has worked well for us. Keep it hidden until you suddenly need it. The best case scenario: your child falls for it! But if that doesn’t work (for me, this does not always work!), try some other distractions. Tickle her, play “flying baby,” say the word “smoosh” over and over (Pookie loves this for some reason). Do that thing that always gets her to laugh. Develop your arsenal of distractions.

If none of these work, offer her something a bit more exciting. Perhaps it’s time to get outside. If possible, head to a playground or just step outside for a walk.  I hope for you and your kid’s sake that the playground trumps the iPhone. 

Replacement

It isn’t always possible to drop everything and go to a playground. Maybe it’s raining or freezing outside. When all else fails, you may find it helpful to give them extremely limited “use” of an old smartphone. I have an old iPhone 5 lying around, and I occasionally turn to it for help when I’ve tried all of my other tricks (and if I’m feeling lazy). I keep the wi-fi turned off and lower the brightness of the screen and allow him to play with it for no more than 5 minutes. This way, he gets to use that bright and shiny object but quickly realizes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be without FaceTime or videos. He most often abandons it before his 5 minutes have passed.

Tough Love

Perhaps you’re worried about research that recommends strictly forbidding screen time for children under 2, and you would rather not give her even those 5 minutes. Then it may be time to practice some good old tough love. Take the device away if she has gotten ahold of it. She may cry, but just hold her and explain to her why it is not allowed, tell her you love her and move on.

As our lives become increasingly intertwined with our smartphones, it will become even more difficult to limit screen time. Stay strong, and help your fellow parents by sharing your own tips in the comments below!

 

Dear Dad – Letter Five

Dear Dad,

So, this morning I gave Pookie my old iPhone to play with (I know- I shouldn’t do it all the time, but he was having a rough morning and really REALLY wanted it), and we started to listen to some of my iTunes. First, we listened to some Vampire Weekend (you wouldn’t like them), then (yes, it’s true) “Ice Ice Baby” over and over (if you even remember that song, you definitely wouldn’t approve, but Pookie loved it), but then I set iTunes to play all of my songs on random, which is always fun. Some good stuff came on – Angel Olsen, Stromae, Damien Jurado and The National. It’s amazing what this all did for my mood. Lately, I’ve been so depressed that I stopped even enjoying music at all. But today was different.

Suddenly, a song from Les Misérables (the original London cast of course) came on. I’m pretty sure it was “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” and, suddenly, I was consumed with thoughts of you. Pookie and I listened to the whole soundtrack. He really seemed to love all of Eponine’s songs – those were always my favorite! – and was doing his cute little dance to them. As always, I was extremely moved by the incredible beauty of every single one of the tracks, and I was thinking about how lucky I am that you got me into Les Mis.

I must have been 10 or 11. We still lived in the big house in Chateau Estates. I would play the soundtrack in the den and sing along while dancing around the pool table. You had gone to London with Charlie and seen it there. Then the big day came when you took me to see the musical. I’m not sure how much I understood, but it blew my mind. Now I’ve seen it a total of three times and counting.

But back to this morning. As I’m enjoying the music with my son and concentrating all of my thoughts on you and how I have you to thank for my appreciation for music like this and in general, I had a realization. I looked at my watch and realized that today is the first anniversary of your death. I knew it was coming up, but I had forgotten until that moment.

Dad, I just can’t believe that it was accidental that the morning went the way it did. I believe that you were right there with us. I miss you so much it’s insane. It wasn’t easy to get through this year. But this morning gave me a hint of good things to come. I know you would want me and my little family to be happy, and I’m going to try hard to make that happen.

I’m also going to pass on my love of music to Pookie. That’ll be one of your many gifts to him.

Love,

Tiny

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Norman – This Place Wins in All Categories!

My rating: ♥♥♥♥/5

On this holiday Monday, (It’s MLK day!) we had planned to go to a museum, but they were all closed! So we decided to follow a neighbor’s advice and hit up Norman, a Scandinavian restaurant and all-day café in Greenpoint. She had suggested it not only as a great place for food or just a coffee, but also as a huge indoor space for a toddler to run around in on a frigid winter’s day.

I know I say in the title that “this place wins in all categories,” but we haven’t exactly eaten there yet. We plan to do so though, and when we do, I will most certainly update my review. So, for now, this review only speaks to Norman’s coffee and kid friendliness.

We survived the 10-minute walk from our apartment and arrived at Norman. When you live in an 813 square foot (even that is a lie! I swear they count the spaces behind the walls!) apartment with a toddler, a place like this is a breath of fresh air. It is HUGE! And yet just about every seat contained a hipster glued to a Macbook. But that was ok since we were only there to hang out, have a coffee and let Pookie run wild.

The second we arrived and unbundled Pookie, we noticed this funny round bench with a huge cone-like structure in the middle of it. Three little girls were having a blast on this thing, and Pookie said to himself, “I wanna do that too!” So we let him attempt to climb the cone, and while we had mini heart attacks out of fear that he would roll right off of it, he had a great time. He attempted to make friends with the little girls, but they were like, “Go away, Baby!” Poor Pookie!

I stood in line to order coffees for myself and RR and contemplated getting a pastry, which they make in-house. They have your standard croissants and pains au chocolat as well as some fun Scandinavian (I’m assuming) delights such as the Kanelsnurre and the Spandauer with preserves and smoked cream cheese. I ended up just getting RR a latte and myself a mocha. RR loved his latte, which looked lovely in its grey ceramic mug, and while my mocha looked similarly lovely, it wasn’t the best. But I’m a sweet drink-loving snob/ dork, so maybe someone else would have loved it.

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Then we let Pookie explore the place. We took out his Vtech walker (it goes wherever we go these days), and he was off! Let me tell you the hipsters loved that. I love that reluctant smile hipsters give you when they see your (adorable) baby struggle to push his “B-I-N-G-O”-playing walker over their Macbook charging cable.

Despite the so-so mocha and the annoyed hipsters, an extremely fun time was had by all. We can’t wait to go back to try the delicious and beautiful-looking food with or without Pookie. Speaking of which, when I learned that they not only have high chairs, but also a changing table in one of the restrooms, I was sold on this place being as kid-friendly as you can get!

I only subtracted a heart for the mocha, but I’m pretty sure that once we try the food, it will overwhelmingly compensate (it looks SO good!) for the less-than-perfect coffee, and I’ll likely give Norman a perfect score.

Getting Organized: My Resolution for 2018

While I would of course like to eat better and work out more, my main New Years resolution for 2018 is to get organized. Actually, I’m finding that getting organized is already helping me to achieve those other goals as well!

I have a bad habit of getting organized and then rapidly letting things fall apart into chaos. I never can find a way to stay organized. But I’m telling you, this year will be different!

I decided that, while I really enjoy using Google Calendar on my phone and computer, especially for getting on the same page as RR in terms of our schedule, I think I personally need to write things down on good old-fashioned paper as well. First, I created and ordered a physical iPhoto calendar and put it up on our magnetic front door. It looks great (probably due to all of the cute pics of Pookie in it!) and I’m really enjoying putting all of our family obligations and events in there.

But what I’m most excited about is my beautiful new agenda/ planner/ organizer, whatever you want to call it. I must’ve spent a good hour researching planners and finally deciding on which one to get. I thought I would follow Holly’s (from the Work-at-Home Woman) recommendation to get an Erin Condren Life Planner, but I became overwhelmed when I started trying to customize it. It’s also pretty expensive (around $60), so I looked and looked on Amazon until I found my perfect planner. I got the Calendar Year Hard Cover Vision Planner by Bloom, and I am obsessed!!

My main requirement was that there be a weekly spread with columns for each day instead of rows. That way, I can more easily plan my days out from beginning to end. But it has so much more! Each weekly spread also has a “Weekly Goals and Notes” section, a “Weekly Focus” box, an inspirational quote, and a section for “meals, exercise, inspiration, notes, memories, ideas and gratitude.” Also, ahead of each month, there is a vision board and a “Making It Happen” page where you can set the mood for the month and set weekly goals for each coming month, helping you to see the bigger picture.

I rounded out my organization arsenal with a nice set of colored pens, some great agenda stickers by Carpe Diem and some sticky notes with tabs to use for extra-detailed to-do lists/ notes.

After sitting down for a few minutes to write some goals down, or, better yet, to check them off, I feel amazing. Wow, the satisfaction of being organized is incredible. Let’s keep it going!

Dear Dad – Letter Four

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Dear Dad,

We had your unveiling on Wednesday. The lovely cantor from Gates of Prayer spoke so beautifully about mourning and remembering. I also spoke (perhaps you overheard?), and here’s what I said:

“It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since you passed away. Things obviously feel different today than they did in January. The shock has worn off a bit. It’s easier to get through the day and even the week without crying. This is of course not to say that I don’t still miss you terribly. In fact, I miss you more now than I did then because now it’s actually been almost a year since I’ve seen you. But something else that is different today is that I can already feel my memory of you fading just a tad. All this year, I could hear your voice and your laugh, even the way you would always clear your throat. I could see your funny expressions and the way your eyes would light up. This was all so incredibly vivid, but it’s becoming less so. I don’t want to forget you, and of course I know I won’t. But that is why I have started to record my memories of you. You were such a special person and such a character, not one to be easily forgotten, but I don’t want to risk it.”

Afterwards, I asked everyone to help me remember by sharing their stories about you over lunch. We had a great time laughing and reminiscing. I will soon start to share their stories in these letters.

Your headstone looks beautiful by the way. I think you would like it, what with the Bob Dylan quote and everything. I had a hard time choosing a quote, but I thought you’d like “It’s life and life only” from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” I’ve thought long and hard about that quote and how it applies to you. For me, it captures the idea that life is everything and nothing at the same time. You certainly would have agreed with that concept, but unfortunately you couldn’t live by it. You spent most of your time stressing out in the “life is everything” part of the spectrum. I wish you could have sometimes let things go, relaxed and enjoyed life. Remember that amazing scene (I know you do) in Risky Business when Tom Cruise says “What the fuck?” I wish you could’ve sometimes said “What the fuck” and enjoyed yourself for a change.

Charlie pointed out to me that you used to have so much fun. I loved hearing about just how eccentric you were, bringing your two afghans into class with you in college. It’s fun to try to picture that, but it’s difficult. I wish I could’ve known you then. The you I did know was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I wish you could’ve let a few things roll off your back every now and then. You could absolutely never do that, and our relationship suffered as a result.

We could’ve been so much closer if I could’ve spoken more freely with you. I stopped talking to you about anything serious because I knew that if I didn’t watch what I said so carefully, I could easily set you off. With something as small as a word, a nuance or a half smile, I would inadvertently worry you, stress you out or even anger you, so I started watering down our conversations, until there was nothing left. I was so tired of fighting. It felt good to end the fighting, but it cost me our relationship. I’m so incredibly sorry, Dad.

Writing these letters to you makes me feel quite a bit better, but I wish I could go back and tell you everything. I just hope you’re somehow able to hear me now.

Love,

Tiny