Friday, April 27, 2007

Space and Convenience in the Suburbs: What's it worth?

In response to Christine's comments about the value of space and convenience in the suburbs...


If you go from a 3800 sq. ft hom in the burbs to a 688 sq. ft. 1 bedroom apartment in the city with a child, you can appreciate living space. But here are a few possible reasons you may not value the extra square footage:

1) You are OCD about cleaning but tragically hate to clean (surely we can think of 1001 other things you'd rather do when your child is napping). How are you going to keep a 4 bedroom/2.5 bath home dust free for your toddler? (Obvious answer: Housekeeper. We finally found one after 3 months of searching.)

2) You are not a homebody and prefer being outside rather than being home - oops, nothing to really do outside the home in the burbs and now all that square footage going to waste...

3) You hate bugs - all bugs. But now you have a yard full of bugs. Did I mention the bees in the suburbs are 5 in. long and look demonic???? And ants...they infest every house, apt and condo. Theere are no escaping them!

4) You are up to the challenge of making the most out of space. I'm especially inspired by apartment therapy's smallest nursery contest - a 36 sq. ft nursery in a 550 sq ft apartment?? City dwellers have SO much imagination and creativity.

I confess we do enjoy the 1300 sq footage we have now, compared to the walk-in closet in NYC. k has a playroom (which she rarely uses) and our "home office" is situated in our dining room with space to spare. And I'm giddy about being able to cook without using the stove top and sink as extra counter space. But I would gladly give up the extra room for the chance to step outside my door to grab a cup of coffe or walk to the park. Which leads me to the issue of convenience...


Swimming/golf/tennis - ok, the burbs has all of these in abundance, but not within blocks of each other. More like within tens of miles of each other with a child in the back seat that does not take kindly to being chaufferred around. Theoretically, there is a starbucks on the way to gymboree class, but since stopping for coffee in the burbs entails parking, taking k out of the car seat, waiting in lines that move incredulously slow (apparently no one is in a hurry here), balancing coffee in one hand and k in the other arm (far too lazy to lug the stroller out of the trunk), and belting k back in her car seat, the coffee never happens.

I believe the city wins on the point of convience - in NYC, we were blessed to have trader joes, whole foods, garden of eden, food emporium and a farmer's market within 4 blocks of each other. And walking home from grocery shopping, I could get a pedicure, pick up a new cookbook, upgrade my wireless phone service, buy another yoga mat, get new sandals to showcase my pedicured feet and grab a croissant and cappucino good enough for the pope himself. Granted you could do some of these things at a mall, but then you have to deal with teenagers (yikes).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Urban vs. Suburban living: the most important decision. Ever.

This blog entry is inspired by my friend Christine, who started her own pro/con list on the subject, which you can find here: (hope you don't mind Christine for the shout out). And yes, her baby boy really is that heartbreakingly adorable (and well-heeled) in person!!

The urban vs. suburban dilemna is one that I'm struggling with myself. In the past 12 months, I moved from NYC to NJ (in a moment of fleeting insanity), only to move back to NYC (with relish), and then to move down to MD (hubby got a new job). And in that time, I've decided, heck, every fiber of my being is convicted, that the city > suburbs. Actually, more like:

NYC >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Suburbs

but I think understatement is more compelling.

Ok, so be forewarned, this pro/con list is entirely NYC-centric and I'm handicapped by a slight bias. Hope you enjoy all the same! I've organized by things that may be of importance if you have a child.


  • madison square park: 2 words - Shake Shack. where else can you chow on the best burger this side of the Mississippi and drown it down with a half bottle of [good] wine (for you) and creamy vanilla custard (for the baby)? YUM-O.
  • central park. free shakespeare plays and symphony/opera in the park? enough said.
  • union square park. where else will you run into a mommy/former CEO of a fortune 100 company, the next young martin scorcese working on his first screenplay, a group of homeless men playing chess who could make kasparov cry and a dog whose designer collar cost more than your spring wardrobe?

No weirdos in the park, from what i've noticed. Lots of families. Breathably clean air. People even come to fish! Note: everyone fishes in the suburbs.

Is there anything to say in defense of the burbs here? Anything at all?? Compared to the microcosm of epicurean delight that is NYC, I'd be quick to say NO.

To be fair, the burbs does have its share of non-chain eating establishments that are run by mom and pop types whose recipes date back 10 generations, use high quality ingredients and take great pride in every dish they set before you. But these are true diamonds in the rough - and there's a lot of rough in the suburbs. In other words, if you like your pasta al dente and don't care for buffets, the burbs are not for you.

On the other hand, the burbs force you into eating relatively healthy and saving tons of $$ by cooking nearly every night of the week. Unfortunately, if you haven't yet learned to cook, cooking classes aren't quite the caliber that they are in NYC so if you want to make anything other than tuna casserole, you may be out of luck.

In sum, if you like your pasta al dente and don't care for buffets, the burbs are not for you.

If you share my love affair with Target, than let's give the suburbs a point or two. Most items also cost much less at the mall than at boutiques. In fact, today I went shopping for Pedipeds for k and found that Nordstrom actually sells them for less than the price posted on the Pediped website! NYC boutiques are rich in the diversity of their products but the markups are ridiculous ($32 for Robeez at Ibza Kidz?? Criminal.).

NYC really has the kindest mommies. Sure after the first hello and asking how old your kid is she will turn up her nose at your non-european stroller and ask you whether the stuffed pig your baby is clutching is made of organic soy fiber (knowing full well it is not). But she will also generously pour you a glass of wine and share her secrets on how to lose that last 10 lbs of post-partum weight. J/k! I don't know any moms like this in NYC. The NYC moms I've been fortunate enough to meet are incredibly colorful, sophisticated, sweet women who are so taletned and wise. Not that suburban mom aren't the same - however I feel that urban moms have a particular infectious energy to them (perhaps due to the Starbucks on every corner?).

I think this just means I have to get out and meet more suburban moms and do away with my quick judgments. But for some disheartening reason, I have yet to secure a single playdate and my church is full of mommies! Perhaps I reek of desperation. Perhaps I reek of alcohol. But this is just confirming my belief that NYC moms are friendlier (the martini before noon probably helps the socialization along). In all seriousness, I think it's because most NYC moms realize that it's not ALL ABOUT THE BABY ALL THE TIME (will have to save this subject matter for a later post).

Ok , this will have to be a post-in-progess as it's very late and k will be rising with the sun. But before I go, perhaps it doesn't matter whether babies are raised in the city or the burbs, as only one thing really makes them happy: KA KA (crackers).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hungry Toddler, she is not

This is k's first taste of solids. at 6 months. Echhhhhhh. Poor girl - would YOU enjoy being force fed rice cereal mixed with boob milk? I'm convicted that it's because of this first ick experience that k has since eschewed solids in every shape, color, smell and consistency. My first mistake in feeding her tasteless blah rice cereal was compounded by my second ever-more grave mistake: feeding her jarred baby food. If you've ever tasted jarred baby food, you may have shared my reaction, which amounted to: yelling "what the BLEEP???" and hurling the jar with all its inconsumable contents across the room. On the spectrum of things I never want my taste buds to experience, jarred baby food falls somwhere between 3-week old elephant manure and cat piss on a bush (I don't know why a bush - I just have this image in my head).

I've been blindly and desperately perusing baby recipes, talking to other moms and spending all our disposable income at Whole Foods to get nourish k - all to no avail. K will not eat! Except cheerios and slices of american cheese, that is. She obviously (and justifiably) still harbors deep distrust and resentment over the rice cereal incident.

So this eating strike (not really a strike I guess b/c she never ate to begin with) has me losing sleep and really highlights my Type A personality because I read somewhere that the greatest nutritional deficiency in toddlers is iron. Iron deficiency is dangerous because it leads to slower brain development as iron helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the brain. Insufficient levels of iron in children has even been linked to ADHD. Apparently millions of children are deficient in iron and the parents don't have a clue because the symptons are not always apparent.

Not that I need to give you another thing to worry least this means we should be indulging in more steak dinners.

The precious moments where k really throws it down and makes Hungry Momma proud.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pop Quiz

How often do you wonder what type of mother you are/will be? This seemingly complex and tremendously important matter can easily be resolved by contemplating the following scenario:

Your nearly 13 month old toddler refuses to take her regular afternoon nap (which affords you time to eat/nap/email/do windsor pilates). You do which one of the following in response:

a) Lovingly hold and coddle her for as long as it takes for her to nap.
b) Let her skip the afternoon nap and go about your daily routine, which includes playing peek-a-boo 10 times 10 to the power of infinity.
c) Plunk her down in front of the Wiggles and make yourself a double scotch, straight up.

Yup, K missed her afternoon nap today, which in a SAHM's world is the equivalent of having a bad hair day on the morning of your senior prom, after your dream date calls to say he's in the emergency room with food poisoning. And there is a meteor-sized zit in that space betwen your eyes.
Needless to say, we all survived this episode of missed-nap (there wasn't a drop of scotch to be found in the house but I did scrounge up some dark chocolate). It is my firm belief that toddlers come closest to their angelic origins when they are fast asleep, as the evidence clearly shows...

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Easter dress

Yesterday was K's second Easter, but as she was 3 weeks old for her first Easter and those days were a complete blur, we celebrated her "first" Easter this past Sunday. We know Easter is not about toxic egg dyes and grown men in bunny suits at the mall. It's not even about having your eyes assaulted with too much pastel color. It's about one thing and one thing only: the Easter dress.*

Those pigtails stayed in a record 59 minutes. It was a special day indeed.

*Ha, just kidding. I'm not a heathen, really.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Another cold!

K has another cold. This makes it her 3rd in 12.5 months (children normally average 8-10 per year but of course k was quarantined from germ-ridden society most of her newborn life). And what does k get to do when she's sniffling and sneezing? Dang near anything she pleases. Which means...we play the fabulous spoon-the-cheerios game!

K is, as of late, fascinated with spoons and the concept of spooning. And what's more fun to spoon than a godzilla-sized jar of cheerios?
When does all the wild and zany fun end, you ask? Of course when the inevitable happens...

For anyone who's wondering, that's k's "you know you had it comin, mama" look.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Does she walk yet?

This the most popular inquiry these days by strangers and friends, now that she is hovering around the 12-month mark. And I normally reply, with a sigh of relief: "Nope!" Relieved because a walking toddler doesn't fit well into my generally lazy parenting scheme. Imagine having to shadow k everywhere at every waking moment! But as you can see from pics, the time is soon at hand...