Summer’s sweet end… holiday weekends in NYC… and beyond.

Despite it being well over 90 degrees (as I write this the sweat is pooling under me), I’m told summer is unofficially over. Aria begins pre-k tomorrow, and I’m trying to wrap my head around that, and the fact that the lazy days of summer are virtually behind us (not to mention that I’ll be a mother of 2 next month!).

We spent a good part of the Labor Day weekend in the city, taking full advantage of it being a bit emptier and the weather being absolutely beautiful– a perfect combination of warm sunshine and cool breezes. Aria had her dad chauffeuring her all over Manhattan via bike– with trips up and down the west side highway bike path (the Hudson River Park has so many amazing kid-friendly spots).

Saturday stops included the carousel just north of Chelsea Piers, and plenty of time at her go-to neighborhood playground. We even made a last minute run up to Turtle Cove Golf Range in the bronx, for some extra daddy-daughter time. It was so sweet to get to see them have so much time together– and both enjoy it so.

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Sunday the biking twosome even journeyed around the tip of southern Manhattan, catching the ferry across to Governor’s Island. They romped around, hitting the playgrounds, eating lunch in the shadows of the old fort, and capped it all off with ice cream cones and silly selfies. She was spoiled, and so was I since I got  a few hours of time to just to relax my increasingly limited pregnant-girl body.

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We all dined out, trying places we’ve long been meaning to– like The Clam on Hudson (scoring a sidewalk seat with no reservation). We didn’t do quite as well when we attempted to drop in at Grand Banks (a cool schooner turned oyster bar) at sunset. Apparently, there were enough Manhattanites left in the city to leave the line winding longer than our limit with a toddler in tow. It was a gorgeous time on Pier 25, the sun setting low casting a warm glow over all,  so no hard feelings. And obviously (pic below), Aria was sleeping off her fun hangerover, so perhaps it was best.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 2.34.58 PMOn Monday, we got the treat of being invited out to a friend’s beautiful golf club, where the guys got in a round, and a good girlfriend and I had the chance to catch up over a leisurely lunch, followed by a cart-ride along the back nine to join the boys. (She also took the beautiful shots of my girl below — thank you Ana Photo!)

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Of course Aria had a blast– taking every opportunity to run through the greens’ sprinklers when they popped on (ah- to be a kid) and, of course, soaking in her dad’s golf skills (we’re hoping it all rubs off and she’s the future of the LPGA).
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She also insisted on “driving” the cart on my lap, which resulted in a few near misses, and far too many pushes of my hands off the wheel. She was adamant she could do it herself.  Little Miss Know It All is not quite the master driver…yet. hamilton farm golf feast

We capped it all off with an amazing seafood feast overlooking the course, and watched the sun (and summer) fade away over the greens.

Adieu summer. You will be missed.

See more of our weekend pics (and my lounging belly!) on my Instagram page @vanessaalfanotv

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Hidden Gem: MAP Program At Greenwich Music House (the perfect pre-school option)

greenwhich music house MAPThe school days are almost upon us! NYC Public schools start next week, and while Aria is super excited about going to school, she also insists she wants to go back to her old school “with Miss. Lyra and Emy”.

Last year Aria attended the MAP (Music, Art & Play) at Greenwich Music house in the West Village. We had done the whole Nursery School application routine (alright, only really one place), but in the end decided on Greenwich Music House. In retrospect, I think it was one of the best things we could have done for her, and the program is definitely a hidden gem for west village parents.

Greenwich Music house offers a variety of programs for all ages, but the MAP program is perfect for 3 year olds, providing just what they need at that age. Art, music and play suits their age perfectly, stimulating their senses and creativity, but not overwhelming them (and it’s FUN — social skills develop too!).

We got a great variety of daily art projects sent home, seeing Aria’s creativity bloom (and I’m convinced today she’s such a good drawer in part because of this). We also saw our little one grasp onto music, finding confidence in her voice and embracing all different kinds of instruments and her own musicality.

The building is a charming brownstone, a warm loving environment that is safe and contained, and also boasts a sweet outdoor garden for them to play. Many a day, Aria did not want to leave after wrapping up with the daily, “It’s time to go now,” Goodbye Song.

MAP program greenwich music house nyc pre kLearning also extended beyond the brick and mortar of the school. The kids had a variety of field trips and outings, serving the community with a holiday sing-along at a local senior center, and taking advantage of the cultural playground that is NYC (see photo from a Very Young People’s concert at Merkin Hall).

Finally, and most importantly, the teachers are WONDERFUL. I can’t say enough good things about their care, which definitely eases an anxious parent who may be leaving their child in another’s care for the first time. Both Ms. Lyra and Ms. Emy are extremely capable, loving and caring, and very communicative with parents– providing email newsletters on what the little ones are up to, and always being open and welcoming to all.

The program is offered half days (mornings) for up to 5 days a week. We loved the flexibility of it, not having to commit to 5 days, but setting up times that worked with our lifestyle and our child. That being said, if you’re a NYC mom or dad of a toddler who’s looking for a GREAT nursery option this fall, check out Greenwich Music House. I promise you won’t be disappointed (except when it’s time to go!)

Lions & Tigers and… Snow Days.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 7.09.43 PMSo the snow has been in abundance as of late, and despite reminiscing longingly about our warm days in Florida, we’ve been managing to make the best of it.

In the city, I’ve definitely found plenty of go-to indoor activities for us.  Last week, we ventured out to the Museum of Natural History which was a wonder-filled day for Miss A. And, seeing it again through her eyes reminded me how amazing it all is, and perhaps a bit frightening (her first encounter with the bears lead to more than a few “yes, I’m sure they’re not alive!” reassurances).

Aside from all the lions, and tiger and bears, the museum also offers a weekly story hour.

discovery-room-overview_imagelargeOn Monday mornings, children 2 ½ to 5 years of age are invited to join for a story hour. Space is limited and tickets are distributed at the Discovery Room on a first come, first served basis for sessions at 10:15 and 11:15.

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.

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Great NYC Classes & Programs For Toddlers (that won’t break the bank)

So, it’s FREEZING here in NYC again, and that means no braving it on the playground (although we’ve been known to do it when no other kids would dare!) Having the temps drop, means having to figure out indoor spots to entertain the littles. Here are a few of my neighborhood favorites (& ways to save when visiting).

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CMA– The Children’s Museum of Art offers classes and activities for children of all ages. Toddlers can paint, color, play in their bouncy ball gym and enjoy creative art exhibits.  Thursday afternoons are “pay as you wish” and a perfect opportunity to visit and check out the offerings.

Karma Kids Yoga: I LOVE my yoga and Karma Kids has the most offerings for the little ones. With two studios centrally located not far from Union Square, they offer kids yoga and dance classes, mommy & me and pre-natal classes, and fun events and themed classes  like Shark Yoga  and Pajama Glow-In-The-Dark Yoga.  They also have a great FREE story time twice a week and discounted community classes. 

Integral Yoga: Another great yoga class for kids. Instructor Lakshmi Pidel takes toddlers (and moms) through simple poses using singing, music and props to enliven the experience. Classes are 45 minutes and just under $20. You can also try it out for FREE (first timers only), and the studio is included in my favorite yogi money saving resource, the Yoga Passbook, so you can access two more classes using that.

NY Public Library: The NYPL offers a variety of toddler and baby classes and story times. The Hudson Park branch used to be our go-to (they had a great big play area with lots of toys), but they  are closed for renovations until spring (hmgh) so we’ve been heading over to Jefferson Market for story time which is a fun hour of stories and crafts. Libraries throughout the city are a great FREE resource and programs are offered throughout the year.

YMCA: I wish I had known all the great stuff the Y offers sooner! They have programs for kids– from swim to dance to pre-school prep classes, all at a very competitive price– in fact cheaper than anywhere else around the city. You can sign up for classes alone (most require commitment for a term), or join as a member and take advantage of the gym, pool and other amenities. My local Y is super nice with state of the art work out equipment, group fitness classes and (most importantly) Child Watch services that allow parents to drop off their little ones to be watched while they work out…for free.

Halloween: Cats don’t eat candy…

So, yesterday was Aria’s first celebration of Halloween. She was the cat’s meow in her sweet little leopard print sweat suit, and of course I had to get in on the fun. We hit up the kid’s party in Washington Square Park first (joined by a few more cool cats), and then did the rounds collecting candy through the West Village.

halloween healthy catswashington square park halloween paradepopcorn halloween!

Fortunately, this halloween I was able to get a little tricky and keep her toddler hands off the candy. She still has not idea what it really is, and this morning when she started asking for her “treats,” I was able hand off a banana a women in the building randomly gave her when we were walking up the stairs just back from trick or treating (thank you).  I told her dad I will have to pick up some fun colorful kid’s packs of raisins, etc to hand off to her when she started asking again.

I know as a kid we all turned our noses up at those who gave out raisins and pretzels, but as a parent of a toddler I was wishing for it.  I was super grateful to discover these in the goody bag from the park (Aria couldn’t get enough of the lemon broccoli ones– yes, lemon broccoli).  I was also indebted to out neighbors on the next block over who handed out fresh popcorn with the candy (yes, I broke all the rules and let her eat a non-packaged item from a “stranger.”) Aria was quite happy with her cup of corn and parked herself on their stoop for a good 20 minutes.  After that she scored in Marc Jacob’s makeup store on Bleeker when she walked out with samples instead of candy. They couldn’t resist her cute little face, and (full disclosure) I kinda knew that would be the case when I sent her in despite knowing they weren’t giving out candy. Trick & treat!

Best costume catch of the night: Brooke Shields walking down Bleeker as a City Bike.  Wish I would have snapped a shot.

Downward Dog….everywhere

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Yep, you’ll see us out there. Out on the grass on the Hudson River Park Pier, in downward dog or feet straight up attempting headstands. Aria usually somersaulting over and laughing like crazy or climbing all over me when I get into a plank pose (or another asana where she can gain access.) It’s my favorite time of the day…late afternoon sunset yoga (kinda)… just the two of us.

In honor of National Yoga Month, Aria has been doing yoga everywhere. Even retail. Check out the quick video below.  And if you’re interested in getting your own OM on, now is a great time. Learn about free yoga classes and events around the city HERE.

ps– Could someone please start a yoga studio with child care? Or better yet, maybe a studio where we could drop our little ones in a yoga play class while we do our own yoga in another studio? If some yoga studio out there wants to do it, I’ll even teach it (how bout it karma kids?). Much to my chagrin, I’ve yet to even find any NYC yoga studio with child care (boo). I’ve even debated joining Equinox again or the Y on 14th who both have a playroom/child care for kids (the Y is even free.) For now, Aria and I will continue to get our OM on all around town… and, of course, here.