Summer In The City…

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Having fun at Pier 25 Sprinkler Playground

A full list of Hudson River Play areas here.

We also still love to do this at the river.

 

 

 

 

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Scooting all over town on Mini Micro Scooter

 

 

 

 

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Girlfriends and bubble parties in the courtyard.

And when it’s REALLY hot… these work too.

Mini Oat Banana Bread Loafs (& muffins)

After Aria devoured the Simple Banana Oat cookies (recipe to come) I baked over the weekend, I went to make more and realized I didn’t have enough oats. I had plenty of ripe bananas though so I went for a simple banana bread recipe. I combined a few I found online– my main goal was keeping down the sugar (no need for it as ripe bananas are super sweet and the last thing kids need is more sugar). I did however throw a few semi-sweet chocolate chips in some of the batch as a special treat for her since I chucked the chocolate chip cookie the enamored diner waiter gave her yesterday.

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INGREDIENTS
3 RIPE mashed banana
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular, soy, coconut, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or better yet whole wheat pastry flour
1/2a rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl combine mashed banana, applesauce, honey, egg, almond milk, vanilla and oil/butter (if you choose to use). I used a smidge of melted butter and a teaspoon or so of coconut oil just to ensure moistness. Combine all until wet ingredients until creamy.

In separate medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t overmix).

Pour into loaf pan, mini-loaf pans, muffin tins. Sprinkle oats over top (if desired), and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Time for baking in a standard loaf pan is 60m but I had no time for that and found my mini-muffins and mini-loafs were good to go in about 15-20m.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread/muffins tightly wrapped to maintain moisture. They will last a few days and likely be sweeter on the second day!

Waterfalls & Wonder

Magic days of summer. Winding trails and hidden gems. Deep forest discoveries. Waterfalls and a secret swimming hole. Simple pleasures and child-like wonder all around.
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This was our day today after faint recollection lead us on a little treasure hunt. To a secret  place tucked away but oh so close (who knew this was only a few miles from the house we go to every weekend?). We felt like we were worlds away from everything.

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5 Essential Potty Training Tips (And why NOW is the perfect time to start).

So, Aria is now over 2 1/2 and has been potty trained for quite some time. I hear girls are easier to train than boys, but while most of her little girlfriends are still running around in pull-ups, she has been diaper free for over 6 months. Here are the things that I found got her using the toilet in no-time.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 4.52.54 PM1) Get that Potty:  As soon as Aria showed interest (following me into the bathroom and looking up with curious eyes) we bought her her own potty. She was just over a year old, and while for months and months she just sat on it (even with her clothes on) and did nothing, the seed was still planted. So, find a fun potty that they love and make it another special thing for your little one.

2) Talk it up: Talk, read, show & tell, heck, even sing about using the potty if you have to! We used all the methods. Explaining why we use the potty, reading about how Elmo goes to the potty, and even watching the Daniel Tiger Episode about using the potty (over and over), and of course singing Daniel Tiger’s song “if you have to go potty STOP and go right away!…” (Aria still sings it to us) all helped tremendously.

3) Put them on & Be Patient: Most toddlers don’t know when they have to go to the bathroom (at least not initially). Remind them that they have to use the potty– and moreover put them on it regularly. Patience is going to be a big virtue during this time because you’re going to have to wait over and over again.

4) Celebrate big: When your little one has a go at it and makes it to the potty, celebrate big! We had a lot of clapping and celebratory “pee pee dances.”  Some parents do sticker books or reward charts to track progress.

5) GO Diaperless: This is the big one!! Yes, even before your child is trained, pulling them out of the pull-ups is a great way to help them get prompted to use the potty. Let them pee on themselves (and unfortunately possibly your floor or chair or any innocent bystander) because only then will they really realize what not using the potty results in. SUMMER IS THE PERFECT TIME because at least there is a much higher chance of that “accident” being outside. Aria had two pees on the deck and one on the floor and quickly started telling me when she had to use the potty. She did not like being covered in pee (that’s my girl!) Diapers only prolong the process.

Stay tuned, next post is about the one potty ALL moms should buy. It will make your potty training life SO much easier.

 

Arizona Dreaming….

ImageSince spring is taking it’s time to be steady in NYC, I still find my self reminiscing about our latest vacation. I’m all about the luxury resort (always have been), but now that Aria is usually in tow, I also have my eye out for “family-friendly” spots. Our latest find was the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale, which is totally kid-friendly without feeling kid-friendly (yes, that’s a compliment)!

The expansive resort combines lots of great amenities for all ages, and still feels like a luxury resort. They have 5 pools on site, two of which are great for the whole family. We spent most of our days lounging at the zero entry pool, where we could keep a close eye on the little one but still enjoy pool service, palm trees, and amazingly (for a kid’s pool) a good degree of peace & quiet. The same pool area also boasts a water slide on the back end, playground on the far end and a great covered sandbox for the littles to enjoy. Aria LOVED them all and also made a few little friends that made her time (and ours) more enjoyable.

ImageThe Fairmont also offers an amazing kids camp. Aria was still too young for that, but The Trailblazers Kids Club is another way kids get to enjoy and mom and dad get some free time to enjoy the adult amenities– which incidentally include 2 Championship Golf Courses and the AMAZING Well & Being At Willow Stream Spa (a must visit!).  We also loved that all the restaurants on site (including the high end ones) offered kid’s menus, and the resort’s VIP lounge made grabbing a drink or snack at any time of day easy (another necessity with little A).

All in all, we so enjoyed our time there. The Fairmont Scottsdale is the best of luxury & family friendly, without any pretense and with plenty of relaxation. So, until we can return (or until the sun & warm temps return here), we’ll all be Arizona dreaming…

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Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Muffin

Aria is by far a muffin queen– requesting one each and ever time we walk into a coffee shop or out to lunch. I’ve told her one can’t exist on muffins alone but she doesn’t quite seem to understand. Often we grab a Chia Muffin from Le Pan Quotidien which I feel is better than most, but unfortunately, most muffins out there are filled with sugar and fat (and have very little nutritional value).  I recently decided to bake some myself modifying a typical blueberry muffin recipe with whole wheat flour and a few other healthier alternatives. These are still moist and delicious and make me feel a whole lot better about passing them into her little muffin grabbing hands. They also freeze very well!

Very Berry Whole Wheat  Muffins

Ingredients
very berry healthy muffins wheat 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup of light brown sugar (optional)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or 6 oz of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 pint (total) of fresh raspberries, blackberries & blueberries (frozen organic mixed berries from Trader Joe’s work great also!)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Whisk vegetable oil, egg, milk, and applesauce together in a separate bowl until smooth, and stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until moistened. Lightly stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full.

Bake muffins in the preheated oven until they rise and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.

 

Product Review: Dubble Trubble Organic Bath Products

We’ve graduated from using solely baby shampoos, and now bubbles and fun scents are in demand when Aria’s in the tub. I recently received a line of bath products called Dubble Trubble that contains certified organic ingredients and comes in fun fruity scents (like bananaberry and cool cucumber). It also creates bubbly suds in the tub (a must these days!).

dubble trubble line

Dubble Trubble is put out by Galvin & Galvin London Kids, a company founded by UK hair stylist (and dad) Daniel Galvin Jr.  Galvin started focusing on the little ones after he had a son of his own, and wanted a shampoo for him that didn’t have harsh chemicals. Following that Dubble Trubble was born– a line that is completely free of harsh chemicals, parabens, SLS and mineral oils. There are still a few preservatives in there (some long words in the list of ingredients!), but fortunately the line highlights natural organic ingredients and botanical extracts.

What I really love about the line is they are extremely eco-friendly and also give a percentage of sales to charity (The Prince Of Wales Foundation). Also, it’s very affordable (retailing at just $4.99 at Target) and comes in super cute packaging. Galvin & Galvin London Kids also makes a hair de-tangler that I can’t wait to try (yes, we’re at that stage!). For more info go to DubbleTubble.com. 

 

Core Fusion Mommy & Me At Exhale Spa

mommy & me core fusionFor those of you who read this blog regularly, you know one of my complaints is the lack of really good workout options that provide childcare here in NYC (it still blows my mind that more don’t exist). Unless you want to join select Equinox clubs or another big box gym with a child care center (usually at an additional cost), you’re likely to be looking at hiring a sitter to hit up your favorite yoga, spin or barre class.  However, ExhaleSpa is one spot that has answered my mommy prayers and offers a Mommy & Me Core Fusion class– combining a kick-butt workout and a pretty great childcare solution.

Unlike most mommy & me exercise classes (yawn), Exhale’s Core Fusion Mommy & Me focuses more on giving mom a great workout while letting our little ones  join in, socialize or just entertain themselves (and each other). It’s a typical challenging barre class, except you might see a toddler (Aria!) pulling down all the balls off the bars, or another group of littles stacking yoga blocks in the middle of the room. Oh, and of course there’s always a few pre-walkers hanging out laying on mats or snoozing in a stroller.

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Rachel Nicks is an amazing instructor and provides a tough workout, but also goes above and beyond by being extra attentive to mom & baby alike. She’s clearly an incredible multi-tasker, calling out (and doing) sequences but never skipping a beat when walking over to wipe a runny nose or pick up a disgruntled toddler. The workout itself is one of the best I can find. Barre classes have always gotten the best of me, and I’ll admit that there are time I use Aria as an excuse when it starts to really burn (…”what’s that love, you want me to get your sippy cup?”)

For now, Mommy-and- Me Core Fusion is offered only at the ExhaleSpa in the meatpacking district on select Monday mornings. Make sure to check their online schedule and get your little one ready to play while you suffer… I mean kill it! 

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Ban Bossy Is A Campaign, Not Necessarily A Good Idea

ban bossySo Sheryl Sanberg’s latest campaign to ban the word bossy in order to promote leadership among young girls has gotten quite a bit of attention as of late. Twitter been flooded with #banbossy comments, and even mainstream media has lit up, giving Sandberg, and her partnership with The Girl Scouts, ample TV time on national networks. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that big names like Beyonce, Jennifer Garner and Condoleezza Rice have lent their faces to the campaign, but it’s also the controversy that these two little words have brought on that has gotten the press (and everyone) going.

As a media expert, I can say kudos to them for playing the controversy game and putting out a clever hook out to grab attention. It’s brought on attention to an issue that clearly needs to be talked about. As a mom though, I can’t believe that they’ve chosen to make the idea of banning a word the centerpiece of a campaign that deals with a serious issue, to which it is not at all a worthwhile solution.

The idea that banning a word (especially one as pedestrian as “bossy”) as the solution to girls not stepping up into leadership roles, is irresponsible (at best) and dangerous (at worst). Are we really going to start banning words to protect our little girl’s feelings? This is the solution that someone as brilliant as Sandberg has come up with? This is how we will prepare our future leaders to go out into a country where the freedom of speech is a founding principle? This is how we’re going to build them into better leaders and prepare them for the unforgiving place that the world can often be? By banning a word to protect their feelings? C’mon.

Yes, I’ve listened to the interviews and I’ve perused the Ban Bossy website. I’ve read the stats about girls being less likely to volunteer because they want to be liked (and not perceived as bossy), and all the other nonsense about how this one word is limiting our girls. However, the problem with our girls being called bossy and shutting down does not come from the calling of the word. When are we going to stop focusing on the surface problems and start focusing on the root causes? It’s not the external component (i.e. the word “bossy”) that we need to be concerned about at all. It’s the internal that needs to be addressed.

You see, we will never get anywhere if we keep worrying about all the miscellaneous stuff happening that we can’t control (like other people’s actions). We’ll never be able to ban enough words, or restrict enough behaviors to ensure all our kids have a clear path to success. The key to making our girls (and boys) better leaders, better citizens, and, most of all, better human beings, comes from focusing on the stuff on the inside. We need to stop reacting and start to refocus on investing our efforts in that which is truly worthwhile– those things that build confidence, integrity and help them develop a real sense of self– so that none of the rocks in life that are thrown their way (whether being called “bossy” or “fat” or “ugly” or the countless other criticisms and rejections they all inevitably will face) can penetrate them, muchness trip them up.

So instead of offering up limitation and restriction as a solution, why not focus on edification and inclusion? How about we give our kids great opportunities, teach them how to be their best and encourage them to become better through adversity? How about we instill in them the tools needed to deal with the hardships of life–packing them up with self esteem and confidence to the level that allows them to excel and leave behind the inevitable nay sayers? How about we bring on more positive opportunities like mentoring programs, yoga in school, and perhaps even think about teaching them emotional intelligence? How about we start addressing the real issues affecting our kids and stop focusing on silly short sighted solutions?

No, Ban Bossy is not  the answer. We will never see any significant resolution by only looking at things at face value. Let’s go a little deeper for once. Let’s invest in our girls in a meaningful way, one that truly builds character in them and sets them up for real success in life. The Girl Scouts is a wonderful organization, already doing amazing things. I just wish they didn’t get caught up in the ridiculous notion that Ban Bossy should be the centerpiece of their latest push.  It’s a clever media strategy, but not a real solution, and certainly not the message we should be sending to our little girls.