the city that never sleeps

September 12th, 2015

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The stars aligned this month for a quick trip to NYC for me — a quiet week at work coincided with an invitation to two events that I didn’t want to miss in the city, so before I could second-guess the decision, I booked a flight. 

{Side note: I’m still trying to figure out when my idea of a “Can’t Miss” event became a fundraising dinner with the dean of my law school…  When did I become such a grown-up?!}

But I was overdue for a trip and this was a great excuse, so I kissed Bear and Chad good-bye for a couple of days and hopped on a plane. 

And oh my gosh, you guys.  New York.  Sometimes I still miss it so much

Every time I go back, it takes me a little bit of time to adjust.  For the first day or so, you have to get used to all the buildings, all the people, all the rushing and hustling and nonstop motion of the city.  It’s a little overwhelming.  It’s also completely amazing.

A while back, I wrote about our decision to leave New York — it was a really hard one for me, because I knew that I wanted the life that we could only have outside the city, but I wasn’t sure I wanted it just yet.  I kept wanting “one ore year” of our life the way it was, our cozy one-bedroom in Greenwich Village where I could walk to my favorite gelato shop or all the way to my office in midtown on a sunny day.  I loved the diversity and the culture and the food and all the amazing things that only emerge when you pack about a million people into a few square miles. 

Yes, it was expensive and exhausting and challenging every day.  No, I didn’t mind one bit. 

But if there’s one thing that’s almost as good as living in New York, it’s this: visiting New York as a former New Yorker. 

It’s amazing because you can experience the city any way you want.  You can see friends and visit favorite spots and remember exactly what your life was like.  You can walk by your old apartment door or the place you met your husband (ahem, ahem).  New York changes every day, but no matter how long you’re gone, there’s always somewhere to come home to.

But on the flip side, you can also do something else.  You can experience it as a tourist.  And in the four years since we left, that’s the part I’d been missing.  I’ve gone back frequently, but I’ve always had an insane schedule that left me running around from morning till night. 

This time?  I had a whole afternoon off.  A very rare luxury for me, so I wanted to make the most of it.

So I experienced New York as a visitor.  I shopped at Saks and spent too much on sunglasses.  I went to a museum, just to look around.  And then I took myself out for dessert at the Rainbow Room, which is a bar on the top of Rockefeller Center that’s been around since the 30’s.  It probably the most touristy, vacation-er, guidebook-hyped spot in the entire city. 

No native New Yorker would ever show their face there. 

But, you know what?  Although sometimes it makes me a little sad to admit it, I’m not a New Yorker anymore.  And as a visitor, sometimes those tourist-y, guidebook-hyped spots are exactly what you’re craving. 

Sometimes you just want to sit back, and enjoy the view. 

And so I did.

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bear’s favorite books: one year update

September 10th, 2015

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When I wrote about Bear’s favorite books when he was six months old, I mostly focused on some classic books that I loved to read with him.  Our little guy loves curling up with a book in mama’s lap (and I love it too!) but at six months, I’m not sure it was really possible to distinguish between “his” favorite books and mine.

Fast forward eight or so months, though, and it’s a totally different story! He points at pictures and can pick out a specific book that he loves from a stack, and reading has become one of his favorite things to do. It’s less reading to him, now, and feels more like reading with him, which makes it even more special for both of us.

So I thought I’d write about a few more that we’ve enjoyed! We’re still primarily reading board books (the thick cardboard-stock pages that a baby can’t fold or rip), but we’ve just started introducing paper books in the last month or two. It’s still a challenge to make sure he’s gentle with them, and most of our copies have a tear or two already, but he’s learning!

This time around, I wanted to focus on a few more under-the-radar authors.  Here are some of Bear’s favorites!

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Kadir Nelson: Chad picked up our copy of Baby Bear when he was on a work trip for very obvious reasons — how was he supposed to resist a book called Baby Bear? But when we read it for the first time, it was completely clear to me that he’d stumbled onto a treasure. The book is about a bear lost in the forest trying to find his way home, and the story is so beautiful that it’s more like reading an illustrated poem than a children’s book. And Bear loves it — when he was a baby, it was one of the first books that he had a “favorite page”! There’s a page where Baby Bear meets a salmon, and Bear would always grab the book and kiss the salmon! It was so adorable, and one of my favorite memories of reading to him so far.

Nelson’s second book, If You Plant A Seed, is maybe even better. It’s about a rabbit and a mouse that plant a garden, and what happens when they’re approached by some birds and have to decide whether to share. The illustrations are breathtaking, and I say that without a whisper of exaggeration. Bear calls this the “Grow! Grow! Grow!” book and it’s the first book he ever referred to by name. Of all the books in our nursery, this one is my personal favorite right now.

Giraffes Can’t Dance: Oh my gosh, you guys, this book is so cute. It’s about a giraffe who’s too self-conscious to participate in the Jungle Dance, and it’s darling. This book is exactly what’s great about books for kids — it has sweet characters, a lot of vocabulary words, fun illustrations that Bear can point to, and a sweet, meaningful message. We have the board book and have probably read it a hundred times.

Little Blue Truck: This is another really sweet story, and one of the first books that made us realize that Bear was really absorbing the stories we were reading to him! We read this book every day for weeks, and suddenly, out of the blue, he started pointing at the birds on every page. It was like a light flipped in his brain, and he could point to the birdies! And then, a few weeks later, he knew most of the farm animals on each page.  It’s crazy to watch them learn right in front of your eyes!

One Yellow Lion: This is Bear’s most recent favorite. He loves the fold-out pages and all the animals, and it’s great for teaching counting, colors, and vocabulary. Some of the learning-oriented books aren’t as fun for parents as they are for kids (yes, kiddo, it’s amazing, but I already knew that alligators are green), but he loves them. I couldn’t write this list without including it!

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic: This is an old book of mine that Bear has fallen in love with. (Want to know how old? It comes with a record of Bing Crosby singing the song that it’s based on.) It’s a really sweet story that Chad and I sing to him as we read it, which he loves. If you don’t know the tune, you can hear it on YouTube! Technology is crazy.

Finally, I have to round out this list with some classics! Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear, and Pat The Bunny are a few other well-loved favorites that you guys already know about, but that Bear has been really into at this age!

Whew! That’s a much longer list than his six-month update. I was a big reader as a kid, and I’m really happy that Bear seems to have inherited that from me. If you guys have any others that I should try, please let me know. I usually order a few books a month for him so he always has new stories to explore, so I’d love to hear your favorites!

Photo Credit: Kate Robinson

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to baby bear, at sixteen months

August 31st, 2015

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Sixteen months.

That’s how old you are today. 

When our friends mention your name, they call you “Baby Bear,” and then smile sheepishly, because you’re not really a baby anymore.  Or you are, but only to me.  (And you’ll never get big enough to outgrow that!)

Because suddenly, in the last few months, our little baby became a kid!  It’s the craziest thing — it feels like a moment ago that you couldn’t even hold your head up by yourself, and now you’re running, dancing, throwing a basketball (I kid you not.  A full size basketball!) and asking for bubbles and Rambo by name. 

What!  How did that happen so fast?

Parenting a toddler is totally different than parenting a baby, and I have to say — I think it’s a lot more fun.  Sure, newborn snuggles were wonderful (I miss them sometimes when you won’t sit still in my lap anymore!) but it’s so much more exciting to watch your personality grow and take form.  To actually communicate with you, even if your vocabulary is still limited.  (‘Yes’ and ‘No’ were life-changing developments!) To make faces and watch you laugh, or see you bop your head to the songs that we sing. 

There are a million little things I’d like to remember about the last month, but my favorites, by far, were these…

… how you call both me and Chad “Mama.”  Sure, this breaks my heart a little bit (I’m your one and only Mama, kid!) but it’s also so darling.  We’ve started explaining to you that I’m the Mama-Mama and Chad is the Dad-Mama.  And we also regularly explain to our families and babysitters that Bear thinks he has two mamas.  Funny kiddo!

… dancing with you to Let It Go!  Ok, ok, sometimes you get cranky at the end of the day.  But one day, after dinner, when we were playing in the kitchen, Let It Go came on my phone and I decided to teach you some goofy ballerina moves.  For the next three minutes, we twirled and leaped around the kitchen together, and you thought it was hilarious to mimic every move I showed you.  If only I’d caught it on video — this would be excellent blackmail material for your teenage years!

… Hi Mama!  Every morning these days, you greet me standing up in your crib with an excited “Hi!”  I love it!  I’m not a morning person and your 7 a.m. wake-ups are pretty tough for me, but opening the door and hearing a big “Hi!” and a smile makes it all worth it.  (Sort of.  It would also be worth it at 8 a.m., just in case you were wondering…)

… Banana.  Ok, so, this one was my bad.  Again, at the end of the day last week, we were done with dinner and playing in the kitchen.  And I took out a banana and told you what it was, and you repeated back to me “ba-nweh” or whatever toddler approximation sounded a tiny bit like the word I’d just said. 

And I freaked out.  I was so excited (a three-syllable word! you’re heading straight to Harvard!) that I kept repeating it to you, over and over: “Banana!  Banana!  Banana!”

And then I realized that you had a banana graphic on your shirt.  Yes — on your little tee shirt was a picture of a banana.  So I picked you up and we ran over to a mirror, and I pointed at your shirt and tried to show you the banana picture, which was basically me just pointing at your chest and saying “Banana!” again and again. 

And then we went back to the original banana and I decided it would be funny to pretend the banana was a phone, so I picked it up and held it to my ear and said, “hello?”

And then you took the banana and did the same thing, held it up to your ear like it was a telephone… and then looked at me with a very perplexed expression. 

And suddenly I realized that I had just confused you beyond any possible understanding of what the word “banana” actually meant.

First, it was pretty clear.  This is a banana. 

And then I grabbed you and pointed at your chest in the mirror and basically said “You’re a banana.”

And then we got back down on the ground and I told you that we use them as telephones

This is a banana.  You’re a banana.  And we have conversations, using bananas. 

Yes, our son calls his dad ‘Mama.’

And he will probably call just about everything else he lays eyes on: ‘Banana.’ 

Happy Sixteen Months, Baby Bear.  I love you so.

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→ CommentsTags: baby · life




chicken soup for toddler-super-germs

August 9th, 2015

Usually I use a fancy camera for my Sugarlaws shots, but this photo was taken with my iPhone. 

Do you want to know why?

It’s because last weekend, Chad and I were taken down by the most epic stomach bug I’ve ever encountered. 

I mean: knocked us out, flat on our backs, for 24 hours.  I literally couldn’t sit up

I’ll avoid the gruesome details (you‘re welcome), since this is a food post and all, but I’ll tell you without a moment’s hesitation… this stomach bug was pure misery in its most visceral form. 

At around eight p.m., Bear fell asleep and Chad and I went into our bedroom and just lay there in bed, too exhausted to do anything else. 

And suddenly Chad says to me, “this was kind of a fun day.”

Obviously, I looked at him, like, um, did you have some different day than the one I had?  Because mine involved puking into a container next to the bed for about five hours straight.  (Sorry, I told you that I’d avoid the details, but there they are.  Hey, internet.  Here’s a story about me vomiting.  And a recipe.  Because that’s not gross or anything.)

So, anyways.  “Fun” isn’t exactly how I’d describe our day.  But Chad persevered, and explained that the stomach bug itself was terrible, but that we’d spent the day working together, taking care of our son and taking care of each other.  When one of us was capable of walking, we’d get the other Gatorade from the fridge.  Chad took Bear in the morning, and I put him to bed.  Between the two of us, we had a day that was physically horrific, but we’d gotten through it, together.  And that night, at a whopping 8 p.m. on the dot, we celebrated getting through it, together. 

And then we turned out the lights and went to sleep.

And the next morning, I realized the funniest thing.  Without having any idea that we were about to get sick, I’d stocked up on all the ingredients for chicken noodle soup.  I’d specifically bought fresh celery and carrots and chicken and egg noodles and all the stuff we’d need to make this recipe with exactly zero effort. 

So?  I made it. 

And then, having expended the full amount of energy I had available that day, I couldn’t bring myself to drag out my SLR camera just to snap a shot.  I took one with my iPhone, called it a day, and went back to bed.

Chicken Noodle Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups vegetable broth
1 pound chicken breast
2 cups egg noodles
2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
Sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot, saute onions in butter until soft and translucent.  Add broth, celery, chicken breast, carrots, and spices, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while.  Fifteen minutes before the soup is finished, add egg noodles and cook to al dente.  Serve warm.

→ CommentsTags: food · soups




life, in pictures

July 13th, 2015

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Here’s a parenting side effect that no one talks about: the photos.

Oh my gosh, you guys.  The photos. 

Let’s not discuss that I have an entire cloud storage account devoted to the 10,000 or so pictures that I took of Bear’s first year alone. 

Let’s not discuss the 400 videos I took of his first year. 

Let’s not even begin to discuss all the times my phone has run out of storage and the countless hours I’ve spent deleting shots of my shoes or my lunch or whatever it takes to make room for his goofy little smile or videos of him toddling shakily around our house. 

Instead, let’s talk about what gets lost in the minute-by-minute photo-documentation of life that we’re all guilty of.  You know what gets lost?  The highlights.

Those special moments get drowned into the hundreds of photos on Instagram, the thousands in “the cloud” that never get looked at again. 

When I was growing up, my mom painstakingly saved every snapshot, organized into boxes that lined our closets.  She labeled the back of each one with “Katy Birthday 1989” or “Emily Halloween October 1992” so she always knew where to find them.  Things are a little easier these days — I can hit “Ctrl+F” and find all my photos from November 2014, or log in to Facebook to see what I’ve saved.  But sometimes I get jealous of the limits that came with storing physical photos — you couldn’t take 10,000 shots, because where would they go?  Now they go nowhere, and so we take them all. 

But sometimes, you want a moment that’s a little more special.  The incredibly talented Kate shot these of me and Bear a few weeks ago, and it was a great reminder that sometimes it’s better to pick quality over quantity.  I’ve been insanely busy lately, and sometimes I worry that a week or two has gone by undocumented (gasp!) and I get concerned that I’ve missed some special moment without capturing it in digital form.  But then I look at photos like this and I try to remember: sometimes one beautiful moment, perfectly captured, is better than 10,000 shots that I’ll never look at again.  In an ideal world, I’d do both.  But when the days are too short, I try to remind myself that it’s ok to just live my life instead of documenting it. 

Even if, at the end of the day, what gets saved are a few snapshots and a lot of memories.

Loren Hope necklace, Maggy London dress, GiGi New York clutch, Jimmy Choo heels.

Photo Credit: Kate Robinson Photography
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