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.

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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!

Gratitude: Can we teach our kids to be grateful?

So, yesterday was Thanksgiving and it was freezing in the city so we skipped the parade (a family tradition which I haven’t fully carried out), and headed up to the county house. Instead, I started my morning with a Gratitude Yoga class at a local studio up here (loved), and we all went to Oma’s  house in the afternoon.

gratitude thanksgivingAria loved the turkey & Opa’s famous stuffing, and although she realized it was a holiday, and was cute with her well-rehersed “gobble, gobble,” I’m not quite sure she fully grasps the concept of gratitude. There are often times when I talk to her about how lucky she is, how lucky we both our– for our life and all the good people and stuff it’s filled with.  I can see the little wheels turning in her head when I talk about it all, but I’m not sure she fully grasps gratitude (yet).

So, the big question is, “Can we teach our kids to be grateful?”

And, I know the answer is yes. Of course, in part that comes with good parenting, and the choices we make for our kids. I know for myself I have to stop giving her so much sometimes (of the material sort that is)– for too many “favorite” stuffed animals and toys have already fallen to the bottom of the toy basket, never to be heard from again. But ultimately, I also know the biggest way  that I can teach gratitude is not by saying or doing anything, but by being grateful myself.

Gratitude is something that I’ve been trying to put at the forefront more and more. Day to day, I try to consciously live in a place where I appreciate all that I have, and not worry about what I don’t– to trust that I am exactly where I need to be at this moment and be thankful for that place and everything in it.

Now, for me this is sometimes tough.  My perfectionist, success-driven nature often combats gratitude by always wanting better and more. But as much as I want Aria to see her mom as strong and driven, I want more for her to see me as happy and grateful. Because in the end, I know that living in gratitude brings happiness, and, ultimately, isn’t being happy what we all really want most?  I know for me it is, and (more importantly) it’s what I want most in life for Aria.

So today, I say Happy Thanksgiving (again).  Here’s to being grateful, every day.

All Peanut Butters Are Not Equal

peanut-butterSo, peanut butter is a staple in our house. A big staple, and Aria’s daily request. However, I’ve realized (as of late especially) that all peanut butters are not equal. We’ve always been an all-natural kinda family, but after a little investigation I learned that there may be a better route to go than our standard Smucker’s All Natural (good, but not best) peanut butter choice. In fact, peanut butter is a bit of a sticky topic when it comes to which is best. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Standard: Standard peanut butters are the majority of what you see on the shelf. Big brands like Jif and Peter Pan, etc often contain added sugar, oils, etc. So incredibly unnecessary. Choosy moms do not choose Jif.

All Natural: (like Smuckers, etc) are better. All natural versions should be just peanuts and sometimes added salt. They are often not-organic unless stated. Be careful though because some brands make a “natural” peanut butter (um…Jif) but they still are only 90% peanuts and the rest salt, palm oil, sugar, etc. Not much better than the standard.

Organic: Our go-to these days. It’s worth choosing an organic because peanuts are harvested from the ground and have a porous shell which means pesticides can seep into the nut themselves.  Lately, we’ve been eating Trader Joe’s Unsalted Organic, which is just blended peanuts.  Again read your labels carefully. We were recently on the west coast and I bought an organic brand called Simply Truth, and was shocked when I got home and realized that it had added organic cane sugar, organic palm oil and salt. Note to self: Read labels carefully!

The peanut butter debate gets a bit trickier and stickier because of Aflatoxin, a fungicide sprayed on all different types of peanuts (because they are prone to mold).  To avoid it, you need to buy peanut butter that is sourced from peanuts from New Mexico (Valencia) or another region where they don’t spray it. If your child is a peanut butter addict like Aria, you may also want to think about substituting in another nut spread once in a while (safflower or almond nut butter are good alternatives).

There are a bunch of good articles with more details. It’s like everything else I reading these days, where what you thought of as “good for you” may not be the best.

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.

City Find: Yoga At A Deep Discount

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So, Oma came in the other day and gave me a break from the little one.  Since no yoga studios seem to offer child care, the first thing I do when I am baby free is try and get in a class. My go-to is PURE, but seeing as I only had a limited time I decided to stay downtown (much to my chagrin PURE has yet to venture down to the best part of NY city).  I had also purchased the Yoga Pass Book (one of the best deals in the city) and still had a slew of studios to check out before it expires at the end of the year.

Aria and I had spent the morning on the playground in Washington Square Park (btw– Aria seems to have graduated from the little toddler playground there to the big kids one — but I love that there are two options),  so when my mom met us, I decided to head over to Yoga Vida, which is just a few blocks away.  Because the timing worked, I ended up going to a “50/50 Community Class” which is “pay as you wish” (awesome), and also has the studio contributing 50% of the class proceeds to charity (even more awesome). That being said, I ended up not even using the Yoga Pass Book pass and just paid my way.  (Side-note: bring your mat or a few extra dollars because they rent their mats– kinda weird but OK)

The class itself is taught by a teacher who is in or has just graduated from their teacher training, which I am all about having gone through it myself.  I found the flow good and the studio space is great (spacious with lots of light and great floors). The only drawback is they are right on Broadway, so you do hear the occasion truck horn or subway rumbling down. Once the music was on it was all good, and the whole thing was totally worthwhile.

So next time your looking for a low cost yoga session and a way to give back, check out Yoga Vida. They have two locations downtown (one on University and one on Broadway), and offer an array of classes (community classes typically are at 2pm). For more info head to www.yogavida.com. OM on!

yoga vida

Dentists, Doctors and Big Purple Dinosaurs

Aria went for her first dentist appointment a few weeks back. She was not a fan.  We were actually about a year late since they say you should take them at age one. Aria had no teeth at one—or maybe one or two—so I decided to spare her. Here’s what the dentist told us after her first visit (at almost two).

  1. We should be brushing her teeth. We had let her do it herself which seemed to be working just fine, but apparently even though she still waiting for quite a few molars to come in, we should be getting back there for her.  Also, toddler toothpaste only (it has no fluoride and is safe to swallow). So far, so good. She’s cooperating on these.
  2.  She needs to give up the bottle and the pacifier. Granted, her teeth are perfect now but apparently if we don’t want them to get completely misaligned (and other issues), two of her favorite things have gotta go. So far, neither has been easy. I’m following up this post with a product that has helped, but going cold turkey on either just isn’t an option. Not yet at least.
  3. She’s due back in 6 months (really, a toddler needs to go to the dentist every 6 months??)

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Next, comes her 2 year old doctor appointment, which neither of us is looking forward to.  At her 18 month appointment she seemed to have put together that the doctor was not fun, and I felt like she was traumatized when they had to take blood for a lead test (for which I had to hold her down. Talk about mom-guilt, she cried and said “no more mommy…all done…all done,” over and over. Completely heart wrenching.)

I am not looking forward to shots this go-around. I am hoping that she’s a little bit more prepared for it this time, since a big purple dinosaur has been chatting her up about the doctor.  She’s a sucker for Barney and her go-to on Netflix lately has been  “Barney Goes To The Doctor” (over and over and over again.)  I’m hoping that the big purple guy has given her better understanding into it all.  Somehow she seems to think he is the king of all the universe and she’s a loyal follower. We’ll see.

Weekend Delight: Whole Wheat Pancakes (that actually taste good!)

It’s was rainy Sunday morning at the lake house, so breakfast got more attention than usual. I discovered this amazing whole wheat pancake recipe a while back, and ever since I made the first batch Aria’s been asking for more. She now also wants to “help”, which usually includes a spill and added cleanup, but is still super cute . I spruce up the recipe by throwing sliced bananas in the mix  (as well as on top of the finished product along with fresh strawberries).

Oh, don’t get scared off by the fact that the recipe has you adding apple cider vinegar to milk to essentially curdle it (ew). These are so light, fluffy and really delicious.  A great way to sweeten up a rainy day.

AMAZING WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES 
Serves 2-3

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What you’ll need:

1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp of sugar (I even skipped this and they were still great)
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of melted butter (and a bit for melting on griddle)
1 egg
1 banana (optional)
3-4 fresh strawberries (optional)

Directions:
Combine the milk and vinegar and let the mixture curdle and then mix together the other ingredients while it does.

In a big bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and the curdled milk, until it looks fairly homogenous and smooth.

Then, whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir the two together until just barely mixed. Make sure any visible loose flour to be stirred in, but leave the lumps. If you stir out the lumps, the pancakes will likely be tough.

Gently stir in 1/2 a banana sliced (optional)

Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees F and grease the surface with butter.  On my stovetop I just put the flame a little above mid-way.

Add small scoops of pancake batter w large spoon.  Cook for a few minutes, until you start to see bubbling on the surface. Flip the pancakes and cook for a few minutes on the other side, Both sides should be golden.

Garnish with rest of banana sliced and some sliced strawberries.

Enjoy!

Additional HealthyStyle Note:
You can skip the syrup to kick up the nutrition factor. I use a little Agave on mine, and Aria is still happy enough with them as is (I’m all about keeping the sweet stuff away from the littles until it’s impossible to hide it from them!) Real Maple Syrup is also a much better option than a lot of the store bought stuff.

Downward Dog….everywhere

Toddler yoga national yoga month nyc

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.

A Play Day: No Devices Required

What was supposed to be a beach day for us, is starting out as a rainy morning. So, Aria and I are exploring play time. I’m encouraging INDEPENDENT play, which results in Aria seeing how many animals she can pile up on the play Ikea couch or simply sitting on it herself for a laugh (better than pulling all my credit cards out of my wallet- her usual game of choice).play day

I was chatting with a mom the other day who sends her kids to a Waldorf School which does not allow any student to watch TV (ever) in order to foster imagination, creativity and play. Since the first words out of Aria’s mouth each morning are “Barney” (we’re working on “good morning”), I’m not so sure this will work for us.

It is an issue worth exploring though. In the age of youtube, ipads and kindles with endless apps for little ones and the programming that goes far beyond sesame street, are we are actually taking away from our kids by exposing them to so much?

Aria’s dad sent me this article a while back. It’s worth reading.

Clouds are breaking… time for the beach, or at very least River Tots.

I Pick Up Moms On The Playground

Seriously, I do. Or at Starbucks, or at the park, or on the street corner.  Gone are the days of scoping out the hot guy across the room at Soho House, I’m now passing off my number to new moms. It’s just something about that baby carriage that can’t keep me away.

So, yes, I am naturally social, but as a new mom you need to be— for your sanity. My biggest piece of advice for those new to the club (including Carol who I chatted up this morning over my Blond Roast) is find other new moms who get what you’re going through (your single friends will not– believe me.)

My mom-group kinda saved me those first few months. I had gotten hooked in because a fellow mom blogger (Arielle) and I chatted each other up on the corner of 7th & Bleeker, exchanged info and planned a (play) date. She had already met a fab group of new moms through the neighborhood Parent’s Association (check those out too), and our weekly play dates, lunches, swim lessons, library runs, etc kept me sane.

So next time a mom on the playground catches your eye, go over and say hello. You never know where it could go.