Four weeks In: Sleepily savoring every moment…

WOW! Have four weeks really passed since this little one arrived? It’s already flown by, but looking back been filled with excitement, anxiety, plenty of love and adoration, and, of course, SLEEP DEPRIVATION (definitely now set in).

Amazingly, this go around, I’m not nearly as agonized by the lack of my most favorite commodity (yes, I’m the girl who needs 8 hours a night, and struggled through years of working in morning news). Somehow with this little one, the love seems to surpass the drudgery of being tired all the time.

I recently went back and forth with a fellow blogger on Instagram, who had similar sentiment. We both marveled in how these little demanding people can have us completely exhausted, and yet still so in love (cries, cluster feeds, gassy bellies and all!)  I can only conclude that God gives us all these feel good hormones and this overwhelming love to help us deal with the trial of the first weeks of newborn life.

I must admit too, that the second time around seems SO much sweeter. I did not have this positive outlook with Aria. Perhaps it was because my body was in shock. Back then, what I was actually thinking was ,”Yikes, life as I know it is over. What the heck have we done?!”

Yet, this go around, I’m savoring every second.  It’s in part that I now know how temporary the tough time is, and also how fast the sweet parts go. That scrunched up little body laying on my chest, those funny little milk drunk faces….ahh. The fact that this baby is most likely my last also has me holding on to every little mushy, gassy, crying, funny faced, sweet, lovely newborn moment.  I also am now well aware of just how much love and happiness these little people bring, and how as they grow, that love and happiness does too.

 

 

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In the day and age of Disney Princesses (and NY Fashion Weeks)…

nyfw

New York Fashion Week came and went. There was a time I was caught up in the buzz, checking out all the shows (and parties!) and reveling in the glamour of NYFW. These days, I’m more content to be home and chilled out, Aria at my side (and this baby in my belly.) My life is so dramatically different since becoming a parent, and I’m constantly reminded of the value of the real and the meaningful.

While fashion, glamour and beauty have their place, I’m always trying to reiterate what real beauty is to Miss Aria. At the age where Disney princesses rule, it’s so evident that she is so super impressionable, already dazzled by the external side of being “beautiful.” She’s a pro in her princess heels, begs for makeup and nail polish (which I barely wear!?!?!), and certainly can’t get enough of ANYthing that sparkles.

While all the frivolity has it’s place and time, I also find the need to remind her of what is truly beautiful, and where true beauty lies and grows. This quote reminded me of that. Pretty heart, pretty mind and pretty soul. Indeed the fairest of them all. May she always hold onto these more tightly than any tiara out there.

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.

turtle cove golf

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

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!)

City Lifesaver: Boomerang NYC

icon_roundedThere are many things I love about NYC, but the combination of being pregnant and living in a 6 floor walk up is NOT one of them. Laundry also doesn’t top my list of favorites seeing that our apartment washing machine is minuscule, and the idea of lugging laundry and dry cleaning down (and more importantly back UP) the stairs ranks right up there with having my teeth cleaned.

boomerang cleaningFortunately, I just discovered a dry cleaning and laundry life-saver in Boomerang NYC. The new on-demand service will come to your doorstep (yes, up all those stairs), take away your dirties and deliver them back all with the press of a button on their amazingly easy app. They truly are on-demand, needing only a half hour lead time on pick up and drop offs (how that is even possible I don’t know), and, to top it all off, their delivery people are super nice (yes, smiles despite 90 degree stairwells), the dry cleaning is delivered in custom boomerang hanging bags, their prices are ridiculously competitive and they give back to charity!! Boom!

Incase you need a little more incentive to give them a try (and because they really are super cool), they’re extending a special discount to all my peeps.

Get $20 off your first order by entering the promo code
BOOM20

Just download the app here to get started, and check one more thing off your laundry list.

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).

childrens museum art nyc

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.

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.