Friday, March 29, 2013

Updates from the Last Year (or So)

Changes big (giant!) and small filled the 14 months since my last update post.

Here are a few of the things I've written about since January 2012 and where they stand now:

May 2012: When we replaced our 1998 Saturn with a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta the previous month, I was happy, but Paul was thrilled. He had wanted a new car for a while, but the positive pregnancy test earlier in the year spurred him to do the research and make the purchase. Paul was a little more worried after we installed the car seat in the back and he had to move the driver's seat waaaaaay up. But he's gotten used to it and all is good. And surprisingly we've used the seat warmers much, much, much more than the sunroof.

August 2012: I had strong suspicions about what would be the most difficult parts about raising a baby in New York City, and I was largely correct. The number of stairs to our apartment is annoying, and not having an in-unit washer and dryer is even more so. Taking Edith outdoors with me alone requires me to descend three floors with the stroller, set it up, and then go back upstairs to get Edith. And I dream of the day I can just pop a load in the washer instead of waiting for Paul to get home before one of us can take the swing that Edith just pooped all over down to the laundromat.

November 2012: The New York City Marathon was cancelled last year due to Hurricane Sandy, but Paul is officially a runner in the 2013 race!

November 2012: Need I say it? Edith was born.

February 2013: Just as I had given up on Paul shaving off his beard, he did it! Paul's beard began the day Edith was born and lasted almost four months. The mustache lasted about 10 minutes longer than the beard before that, too, was shaved away.

February 2013: Gently remind Paul to get moving on the presidential biographies so we can restart our Presidents by the Book project! I have already renewed the biography on William Howard Taft exactly 47 times.

Present: We still own our home in Galloway, Ohio, and yet again we have a new renter after some issues with the last tenants. Here's hoping this one works out.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Expanding Baby Vocabulary

A baby's vocabulary is limited, but mine has done nothing but expand since the moment Edith entered the world -- and before.

Of course, some of those words were already a part of my vocabulary; I just use them much more, and in more creative ways. For example: poop. I've never used that word as much as I have in the last four months. And not only poop, but innumerable variations. I know I've said poopy and poopster, and Miss Poops-a-lot sounds like something I've said, too.

Where my vocabulary has expanded the most is in the abbreviations department. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I started lurking around some online pregnancy boards. (For "30 Rock" fans: the scenes in one of the last episodes when Liz visits some baby boards aren't too far off the mark.) Abbreviations sometimes seem to take up half the posts, and I'm not just talking about your typical lol's and tmi's.

Here's a mini dictionary:
  • bf: breastfeeding 
  • bm: breast milk (but usually much funnier if you accidentally replace it in your head with bowel movement)
  • cio: cry it out, always a hot topic
  • dd: dear daughter
  • dh: dear husband, only sometimes used sarcastically
  • ds: dear son
  • ebf: exclusively breastfeeding
  • ftm: first-time mom
  • lo: little one
  • mil, fil, sil, bil: mother-, father-, sister-, brother-in-law
  • pp: postpartum
  • sahm: stay-at-home mom
  • so: significant other
  • sttn: sleeping through the night
  • tia: thanks in advance
While the last on the list certainly isn't exclusively related to babies, it's the one that took me the longest to figure out. As I saw more and more posts ending with TIA, I thought it was uncanny that so many women on the site were named Tia. Whoops.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunrise in Defiance, Ohio

I've been seeing more than my fair share of sunrises the last few months. Although I wish I could say I've seen more -- usually Edith gets me up long before the sun makes its way up.

But back to the point -- I've seen a few New York City sunrises, and they don't compare to the ones back home in Ohio. Of course, if you're in the right spot in New York -- on top of a skyscraper, in a park across the river from Manhattan, even along some of the borough's streets when they line up with the sun -- I'm sure those sunrises can be spectacular.

But I wouldn't know for sure. When the sun rises, I'm at tree level. We actually do see quite a bit of sky from our apartment -- by New York standards anyway -- and we get good sunshine. But we don't really see the sun.

So when I was in Defiance waiting for Edith to wake up, witnessing a bright pink sunrise from the comfort of home was something of a treat. Although sleep would also be a treat nowadays.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Manhattan for the Middle Class

One of the most memorable articles I've read in the New York Times appeared when Paul and I honeymooned here almost 10 years ago. As I recall, it was about people (kids?) who lived in the outer boroughs -- Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island -- but had never been to Manhattan. I think at least some of them could even see part of the Manhattan skyline from their homes or neighborhoods.

That article from long ago was again at the front of my mind when I read a more recent story in the New York Times. The article, "What Is Middle Class in Manhattan?" is a fascinating look at what it takes to live in Manhattan. Just because you've set foot in the borough doesn't mean you've "made it." Surprise, surprise: The assets you need to live a middle class life here would make you rich elsewhere in the country.

From the article:
"By one measure, in cities like Houston or Phoenix — places considered by statisticians to be more typical of average United States incomes than New York — a solidly middle-class life can be had for wages that fall between $33,000 and $100,000 a year.

"By the same formula — measuring by who sits in the middle of the income spectrum — Manhattan’s middle class exists somewhere between $45,000 and $134,000.

"But if you are defining middle class by lifestyle, to accommodate the cost of living in Manhattan, that salary would have to fall between $80,000 and $235,000. This means someone making $70,000 a year in other parts of the country would need to make $166,000 in Manhattan to enjoy the same purchasing power.

"Using the rule of thumb that buyers should expect to spend two and a half times their annual salary on a home purchase, the properties in Manhattan that could be said to be middle class would run between $200,000 and $588,000."
A family of four with a yearly income of $68,700 even qualifies for public housing, I was surprised to learn a little later in the article.

Yes, there is a Manhattan for the rich and a Manhattan for the poor. The city has places to get gourmet pizzas and dollar slices, places to get a hot dog for a couple of bucks or order a tasting menu for a couple of hundred dollars.

Of course, there are options for those who are priced out of Manhattan: those same outer boroughs I mentioned earlier. In fact, some neighborhoods in Brooklyn are just as popular as others across the river -- so much so that now families are getting priced out of some Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.

And so former and would-be city dwellers keep moving further out. Now there's even talk of Bay Ridge becoming a hipster enclave, with its new Brooklyn Industries store and the upcoming opening of a new beer garden.

It'll be a while before Bay Ridge becomes the new Williamsburg (which itself is already the Brooklyn version of Manhattan's Village). But people won't stop flocking to New York; they'll just find alternatives to Manhattan that are less expensive and less convenient. And they'll make those neighborhoods their own. And one or two of them will become the next big thing. And the circle of life in New York will continue.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Changing Diapers: NOT Women's Work

Thanks for the onesie, Aunt Katie!

Few things make me angrier nowadays than a men's restroom without a baby changing table. What is this, 1960? Maybe they even had changing tables in men's rooms back then. But one thing's for sure: every men's room should have them now.

Unfortunately Paul and I have found at least two places without them. Fortunately, neither are places we very often frequent.

The first was the Knights of Columbus hall in my hometown. We went to a fish fry while we were home earlier this year. Paul took Edith to change her diaper and brought her back to me way too soon. No changing table.

The second was at a Burger King in Pennsylvania. We stopped there for lunch on our drive from Ohio to Pennsylvania. This time Paul was proactive. When he returned from the restroom, he told me I was on diaper-changing duty. No changing table.

Does anyone alive still think that changing diapers is women's work? And even if they are alive, are they really willing to say it out loud? Because if you don't put a changing table in a men's restroom, that's exactly what you're saying.

Paul, of course, doesn't mind all that much. It's not like he looks forward to changing diapers -- who does? But I find it insulting when it's assumed that the woman will always change the diapers. I filled out Burger King's online complaint form, but I have yet to get a response.

Even before Edith was born, Paul and I purchased a gray messenger bag to use as a diaper bag -- unisex, so that Paul would also feel comfortable carrying it about. But until businesses realize we've entered the 21st century, I guess I'll have to assume that the diaper bag will hang over my shoulder whenever Edith needs changed.

And thank you to my Philadelphia friend, Sarah!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Awaiting Spring in New York

Me in Central Park, 2009

The calendar says spring begins Wednesday, but Mother Nature disagrees. Nevertheless, my daydreams feature sunny skies, fluffy white clouds and nary a scarf in sight.

And I believe those days are coming because I've seen them before. Spring in New York is lovely -- when it's not raining. But even when spring brings showers, you still have the promise of many months of skirts and sandals.

Today I'm featuring some of my favorite New York spring photos:

Bay Ridge, 2009

Columbus Circle, 2009

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2010

Upper East Side, East River and Roosevelt Island, 2011

Empire State Building, from the High Line, 2011

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mike's Donuts: Best of Bay Ridge?

I don't know what it is with me and doughnuts lately.

Mmmmm, doughnuts.

I've always liked doughnuts, but lately I've been seriously craving them. And no, I'm not pregnant again.

Sounds silly, but I think I had almost forgotten how much I really do love doughnuts. But then Paul's sister shared some from her favorite local doughnut shop when we were visiting Ohio in January. And then Fat Tuesday was a few weeks later, and you have to have a doughnut on Fat Tuesday. Who am I to say no to tradition?

Dunkin' Donuts just doesn't cut it, but luckily Bay Ridge has at least one other option. And it consistently gets raves both in and outside of the neighborhood: Mike's Donuts. And it's only about a half mile from here! How I had not yet sampled a doughnut from Mike's is beyond my understanding.

So Edith and I celebrated Fat Tuesday by walking to Mike's and getting two cinnamon cake doughnuts. Edith will have to wait a while for her first bite, but Paul and I sure enjoyed them. Excellent consistency, excellent taste. A solid doughnut I could definitely have twice. And by that, I mean I wish I would have purchased a second for me. Since they're only 75 cents apiece, I should have.

Mike's Donuts was good, obviously, but it did not eliminate my now all-consuming need for doughnuts. When my friend Sarah visited in February, I immediately suggested a trip to the Doughnut Plant (blog post forthcoming!). And when I was at my parents' house earlier this month, I think I had a chocolate-covered Entenmann's doughnut every morning. It was like eating a candy bar for breakfast.

My quest isn't over. I may not find New York's best doughnut, but I'll do my best to gain a few pounds trying.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Time Change with a Baby

Get this kid to Disney World stat!

I had heard bad things about how time changes affect babies. So when the time sprung ahead on Sunday, I was expecting the worst and hoping for the best.

I basically got the latter.

Edith's normal bedtime usually ranges somewhere between 8:30 and 9:45 p.m., with a few bad nights of even later bedtimes sprinkled here and there. Sunday night she was asleep by 9:30 -- later than I'd prefer, but not bad since she felt like it was only 8:30. It's a good point from which to start.

Speaking of sleep, earlier this month I briefly thought my dreams had come true. And by that I mean that I could sleep long enough to have real dreams. Edith slept through the night FIVE NIGHTS IN A ROW. It was very exciting.

However, those five nights were the exact five nights we were in Defiance. As soon as we returned to New York, she was back to waking up in the middle of the night. I've been wracking my brain trying to recreate the Ohio conditions, but no luck so far. Perhaps she's not as good with nighttime New York noises as we thought and simply does prefer the rural peace and quiet.

Obviously the only solution is to visit home more often! It might be the only way I get a full night's sleep for a while.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Return to the World

Our brunch party wasn't the only reason I was excited a few weekends ago. I was also thrilled to be getting out of the apartment.

That's because my friend and college roommate Sarah traveled from Philadelphia that Saturday to attend the brunch the following day. That left Saturday evening wide open, and I was ready to go!

Paul was left with Edith, a bottle of breast milk and a pact that he would have her bathed, fed and in bed by the time I returned. It was dark, cold and windy when Sarah and I left, but I hardly felt it. I was free!

Don't get me wrong. Of course I love my daughter. But staying home all of the time is stifling, especially when the weather isn't conducive to taking an infant for a stroller ride. And while I'm happy to be breastfeeding, it does mean that leaving the house sans baby takes some planning. But that's a whole other story. Suffice it to say that I had never been so glad to see the subway.

Sarah readily agreed to my suggestions: Dinner in Gramercy at East Japanese for conveyor-belt sushi, followed by dessert at the Doughnut Plant in Chelsea (look for a blog post on this soon!). While the food was good, the highlight was certainly catching up with Sarah and having a conversation that didn't include the word "poopy." Score!

While I'm anxious for the weather to warm up so I can explore with Edith, I also know that it's important for me to get out and about without a baby in tow. Luckily Paul understands that, too. And, by the way, Edith really was bathed, fed and in bed by the time Sarah and I returned.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Meeting Wyatt


Paul and I hadn't planned on visiting Ohio again until sometime this spring, but we quickly decided to return when we learned that my sister's mother-in-law had passed away last week. We drove to Defiance on Thursday and returned on Tuesday. The entire time was spent with family.

That includes the newest member of the family: Wyatt, the first child of my sister, Katie, and her husband, Jay. He wasn't even a week old when I first met him last Friday.

When I held Wyatt, I could barely believe that Edith was ever this small -- and not such a long time ago either! He's a cutie, much like his cousin.

Wyatt, 1 week old

Of course we all took lots of pictures, but some of the best were taken by my cousin Emily when she visited Defiance with my aunt and uncle last weekend. Below are just a few of my favorite photos that she snapped. (I also recommend taking a look at some of her excellent photos from her visit to New York a couple of years ago!) The first two are of Wyatt; the rest are of Edith.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last-Minute Visit to Ohio

Paul and I just returned last night from a last-minute, whirlwind trip to Ohio after the death of my sister's mother-in-law, so this post will be short.

We found out last Tuesday morning and were on the road less than 48 hours later. Although the occasion that spurred the trip was sad -- especially since it happened just three days after the birth of my sister and her husband's first child -- it was certainly nice to see the newest newborn in the family. I will be posting photos of Wyatt soon.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Burger King Delivers. Yes, DELIVERS.

That's right: When I'm too lazy to stand in line for a Whopper, I can have Burger King deliver it right to my door.

I had heard that some New York City Burger Kings were going to offer this option, but I didn't realize how ridiculous that sounded until I got a delivery menu not long ago. The full BK menu isn't available, but the favorites are there.

A sampling:
  • Whopper combo: $6.99
  • Five-piece chicken strip combo: $8.99
  • Large fries or large onion rings: $2.49
  • 16 oz. tropical mango smoothie: $3.49 
  • My personal favorite: fresh apple slices for $1.99. I don't even know how many apples I could buy at the bodega across the street for that price.
Turns out delivery is an option (or will be soon) at 13 Burger Kings in New York -- including the one closest to our apartment -- as well as at select Burger Kings in the Houston, Miami and Washington, DC, areas.

When I received the menu, I thought about ordering delivery just so I could write a blog post about it. I banished that from my mind in about two seconds.

I'll admit that Burger King is one of my favorite fast-food restaurants (My usual order: a Whopper Jr. and mozzarella sticks. The sticks aren't on the menu, but they still have them if you ask!), but it doesn't even come close to the Chinese, Thai, Polish and Middle Eastern restaurants I can order from in the neighborhood. And those are just the ones I can think of offhand.

And even though I enjoy a Hershey's sundae pie every now and again, I'd much rather spend an extra few bucks and order a slice of Brooklyn Blackout cake from Little Cupcake. Delivery or not, you're going to have to try harder to tempt me, Burger King.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Brunch Success

Our fourth annual February get-together was necessarily different. Edith made sure of that.

Nevertheless, the party went off without a hitch. I only wish we would have had more leftovers: Paul's cooking was as fantastic as usual.

The menu was a combination of old favorites from parties past, and some new dishes he made specifically for Sunday. The spread included salmon, sausage souffle, sweet potato-turkey hash, watercress soup, candied bacon, Caesar salad, sauteed mushrooms, fruit salad, and homemade bread with a salmon cream cheese spread or garlic butter.

The desserts, as usual, were my responsibility. chocolate chip mini muffins, Swedish apple pie and coffee cake. We started off with a selection of beer and wine, as well as all the fixin's for mimosas and bloody marys. The stash was quickly multiplied by the 16 guests who arrived in the early afternoon.

Edith couldn't have been better. It's like she knew we would need an extra-good girl! First of all, she only awoke once the night before, affording me some extra sleep. And she slept in Sunday morning, allowing me to get a little baking done before she awoke.

She started the party with a nap, letting us finish up the food and eat. Even when she was awake, she barely fussed. It couldn't have gone any more smoothly.

So of course we're glad we decided to hold our annual party. It wasn't quite the same as having it on Saturday night, but as one guest told me: no one minds Sunday afternoon drinks. Even if, in my case, those drinks were sparkling juices -- and not a bottle of the Mother's Milk beer someone brought specifically for the occasion!


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