Preschool In The City: The Interview.

pre school interview nurserySo, Aria had her first “interview” at Barrow Street Nursery recently. Essentially (and thankfully) it was only observed play in a classroom, and pretty painless. She and four other kids rotated at different play stations– a little kitchen with tea pots and dolls, a table with puzzles and toys, and another covered with paper and  marker paints. One parent of each child (me in this case) was allowed to sit in but were asked to not get too involved. I  must admit, a time or two I had to hold my tongue when my natural reaction was to interject or direct her (or praise her and call attention to something she was doing that was particularly impressive:).

What exactly NYC preschools are looking for during these interviews, I’m not sure. I’d say she did well, but she definitely didn’t follow every direction and certainly didn’t pull out all her charisma and charm (I guess that’s reserved for audiences in her own living room). She played well and didn’t cling to me as one of her other little co-interviewees did his mom. She was herself (although perhaps a toned down version)–  showing her nurturing side with mothering dollies, unabashedly expressing her will when another little boy tried to pry the tea pot our of her hands, and asserting her independence when she decided to rearrange the little chairs instead of sitting down on the rug for story time (free thinker? artistic expression? Surely thing was a good thing??).

Anyway, regardless, I’d say it was a success. If nothing else it’s planted the idea in her head that school is fun. She did not want to leave when it was time, and has brought up going back repeatedly since.  As mentioned before on this blog, I didn’t apply to any other schools, so we’ll see where she ends up. The mom next to me applied to 11, but Barrow was the only one they made through the lottery and got an interview.  I guess I should feel good since essentially we’re 1 for 1.

Chatter on the playground: Where did you apply?
Top choices amongst West Village mom’s seem to be:

Barrow Street Nursery
Mandell
West Village Nursery 
City and Country School
Downing Street Playgoup Co-op 

What I wish I knew then:
I wish I had applied to the two  co-ops. Subsequently (and unfortunately post-deadline) I have heard great things about both. Parents take a larger role and are more involved in co-ops and (because of this) they are considerably less expensive.

I also wish I had read this article which tells you a little bit about what to expect and gives a few tips. Luckily, I did  keep my mouth shut, and her independent streak  and will may very well have been a looked at as a positive in the end.

Good thing because ends up preschool is the best job training program out there. Or at least according to this article. 

Need help navigating the preschool madness ? A great listing of NYC preschools (listed by neighborhood) can be seen on MommyPoppins.

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Quinoa Veggie Meatballs for my little meatball.

I recently came across this whole foods recipe for quinoa and beef meatballs and knew I had to try them. First of all, I love quinoa and all it’s healthy benefits, and secondly, Aria seems to be addicted to pasta and meatballs, so any way that I can make them healthier helps. These contain chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots and onion) which sneakily kick up the nutrition even more.  They turned out delicious, and it’s a recipe I will definitely go back to.

quinoa beef meatballs

Ingredients
1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use frozen 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa, or cook it from scratch*)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup (I didn’t have any so just threw in a few tablespoons of crushed tomato)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (some people substitute amino acids instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method: 
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Shape into 16 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.

(*Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe, and reserve the remaining for another use.)

Nutritional Info: 
PER SERVING:150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein
Special Diets:
Dairy Free
Sugar Conscious

Top Photo: Whole Foods

Slightly Obsessed: Layer Eight Cold Weather Leggings

Ok, so it is FREEZING here in NYC and the thing that has saved me the last week are my Layer 8 Leggings.  Any one who knows me knows my wardrobe of choice usually consists of yoga-wear (leggings especially) and last week I happened to pick these up not even realizing they would be SO good for these cold days.

layer8 layer8tjx

Technically, they’re running leggings, and have this nice soft fleece-like lining  to keep you extra toasty (no matter if you’re running or not).  Not only are they warm, but they’re well constructed, nice and long (good for tall girls like me), and even have a handy little zip pocket just below the waistband in the back . Not to mention, they were super cheap.  I picked them up for under $20 at TJ Maxx, and even the retail price on their tag was under $40. I couldn’t find a Layer 8 website (anyone?), but you can pick them up here. Definitely worth it. STAY WARM!

Holidays Here & Gone (and here, there and everywhere)

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The holidays flew by for us. Actually, I guess you could say we flew by (or so it seemed) since this holiday season we traveled half way around the world, and back.  Yes, Aria already has more stamps in her passport than most kids get their whole childhood. Our main destination was her Uncle Hayden’s wedding in Dubai, but we had a few stops between here and there (both going and coming).  Here are a few pictures from our holiday adventures.

First stop was visiting a few friends in Switzerland (a night in Zurich and then off to the beautiful Alps). We stayed in their house in the charming little village of Samedan (just next door to St. Moritz). Aria and little Sammy were in love at first sight, and it was incredibly sweet to see how they interacted.

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Next, was the main event in Dubai. A beach wedding and time to relax and enjoy a little sightseeing and warm weather. Not to mention, some well needed family time with Mimi & Dada (who came all the way from New Zealand) and, of course, Uncle Hayde & his beautiful new bride, Glaucia.

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Finally, just to round it all out, we stopped in Milan on the way back. In actuality, we made what could have been a painful 7 hour layover into a mini-milanes vk.  A quick train ride to the Duomo and Galleria to check out some highlights and history, and then a long and delicious afternoon, eating and drinking (as it should be when in Italy).

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All in all we racked up a whole lot of miles, and even more good memories.
Here’s to an equally adventurous 2014…