Celebrating Roald Dahl's 100th Birthday at Wave Hill

We spent the first weekend of fall at Wave Hill, celebrating what would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday. Since we just finished reading James and The Giant Peach with the girls recently, heading to the Bronx for James-themed activities (including a special arts-n-crafts project, storytelling and bug demonstration) seemed like a perfect fit. And what a fun day it was!

This was our first visit to one of NYC's treasured gems, and I have no doubt we'll be returning soon. As you can see from these pics, the grounds and gardens bordering the Hudson River are just GORGEOUS. After we finished the kids' programming, we got a snack at the cafe and spent the rest of our time exploring... don't you want to come for a visit, too?

The girls' cute outfits (Millie's shirt & pants & Vivian's dress & shoes) are from Garnet Hill. Love their stylish duds for kids!

Insider tip: If you arrive between 9am-12pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Wave Hill is FREE (though you still have to pay for parking, which is $8). If you're coming via mass transit, see here.


Big Apple Books: Who Pooped in Central Park?

Truth be told, I am not crazy about the title of this book (it should come as no surprise that I don't really love Everybody Poops, either). But, I'm willing to get over it, as Who Pooped in Central Park? Scat and Track for Kids, by Gary Robson, is a great way to learn about all the living creatures that inhabit Central Park. Hint: there are a TON!

Readers will follow along with a group of kids as they make their way from the Central Park Zoo to Farmer's Gate, discovering all sorts of poop (and the animal who deposited it there) along the way. With the help of park rangers, the kids discover everything from Monarch butterflies and Red-Winged Blackbirds to a Diamondback Terrapin and Big Brown Bat (eek!). My girls discovered a lot of cool facts about animals in this book, and it's one that they go back to again and again, learning something new each time.

A great book for animal lovers and anyone who questions the validity of New York City's "animal kingdom"!


5 Observations Now that My Children are Back to School

Here's an old post that I think deserves a reboot... 

A handful of things have become apparent now that my children are back to school again. Keep in mind this applies to my current state-of-being, AKA the work-from-home mom life. Let's get right to it, shall we?

TIME. There's a sentimental expression in reference to raising children that says, "the days are long and the years are short." Um, you know what's really short? The time your kids are in school. One minute it's 8:30am and you're actually enjoying your coffee and getting down to business and the next it's 2:15 and you're scrambling to get to school for pick up. Now, if only time could have moved so fast when I was stuck behind a desk in a cold office all day, but I digress... 

SPEED. I honestly forgot that I can walk fast. Yes, when not responsible for young children where the typical rate of motion is akin to paint drying, I can pass for a New Yorker again. As much as I adore constantly stopping, turning around, bending down to pull pebbles out of sandals, passing out snacks and water and walking three feet and 2 steps back, moving at the normal speed of most human beings is a refreshing change of pace.

FOOD. Today I'm eating something for lunch that wouldn't be commonly referred to as "scraps." Granted, it happens to be leftovers... but still! Having children in school means a welcome break from crusty bread edges and half-eaten string cheese.

SOUND. This I'll admit. The quiet is deafening. I'm able to complete whole emails without being interrupted to dress a baby doll, watch a magic trick or break up a precious screaming match between sisters (which is AMAZING), but it's a little too quiet at the moment. Think I'll go turn on some Dora & Friends... be right back.

SCHEDULE. As much as I love those carefree days of summer (and I really do... our summer break was blissfully schedule-free for the most part), I am sort of glad to get back into some sort of routine again. I suddenly feel as if with my new found "free" time I should be moving mountains and running for president, but I think I'll settle for blogging more regularly and aggressively looking for new freelance gigs. If nothing else, it helps knowing I have this specific time frame to myself.

Happy back-to-school, friends. Use your time wisely.


Big Apple Books: Matilda, The Algonquin Cat

You've heard about little NYC girls that live in hotels, of course. But what about cats? My latest Big Apple Book addition is Matilda, The Algonquin Cat, which captures the tale of the furriest resident of one of NYC's most famous hotels. This charming story is made even more delightful because it's based on a real cat who does in fact live at The Algonquin. Only in NYC, right?

As the story goes, in 1932, a stray cat wandered into the lobby of The Algonquin, just days after the death of Billy, the hotel owner's cat. It was as if he just took over where Billy left off! Since then, the hotel has always had a resident cat. Male cats are called "Hamlet" and females, "Matilda." The current Matilda is the 11th Algonquin cat and the 3rd Matilda, and she unsurprisingly rules the roost.

The girls loved the story of Matilda and are anxious for a visit to The Algonquin's lobby to see her for themselves. What about you?


Back to School with Garnet Hill

As summer winds down & the first day of school approaches (many kids around the country have already STARTED school!), I wanted to spread a quick deal happening from one of my favorite brands, Garnet Hill. From now until August 31st, when you purchase one of their backpacks, they'll include a matching lunchbox for FREE. Hurrah! Here's to one less thing to think about.

With their durable, ergonomic design, Garnet Hill backpacks are a great value at $34.95-$44.95. I also love that they come in 2 different sizes depending on the height/age of your child, the shoulders are soft and padded, and there are plenty of pockets with enough room inside to carry all those school essentials.

The girls particularly love the fact that you can attach the lunch box to the back of the backpack without having to put it inside, and also the clip that goes across the shoulder straps "so it doesn't fall off," according to Millie. And how cute are these designs?

If you've been procrastinating on back-to-school shopping, I hear you, believe me. But this deal is too good to pass up, so I had to share the love!

Disclosure: I was provided with product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions herein are my own.


Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?

Thomas Wolfe, that's who. And while I understand his sentiment, I have to say it was really good for me to go home this summer. First and foremost, the girls and I were able to reconnect with my family (and extended family), whom I don't see often enough. But a week spent at the beach was particularly perfect, and here's why -- I've been gone a long time. And while I didn't feel like I needed to relive any "youthful memories," as Wolfe wrote, I hoped I would remember what it was (if anything) that still connected me to my birthplace.

The South often gets a bad rap (and there are plenty of valid reasons, which I don't need to get into). I felt strongly about leaving and moving to New York City since I was old enough to understand it was a place filled with bright lights and excitement. A place where people from all over the world descended and blended together. Simply put, it was somewhere different, where I couldn't see my life perfectly planned out ahead of me, and that was exciting. As hard as it was to move away from family and friends after college (and boy did I cry at the airport), I always knew that I was making the right decision.

Our week at Edisto Beach (very close to where I grew up; my parents now live in GA) brought me full circle. So much of the "good stuff" came back: the smell of the salt air from the screened-in porch, the feel of the sand between my toes (not so much the jellyfish that stung my niece), the food -- oh, the food! -- seafood casserole, flounder sandwiches, potato salad, etc. Just ask my waistline. The laughter of my parents' friends, gathered around the table. The same friends who carted me to basketball games and chaperoned those awful middle school dances. The mystery of Spanish Moss (is there something romantic about it or is it just plain strange?). Old friends who I know I'll know and love for a lifetime, even if our lives aren't so intertwined as they once were. The sunsets, no filter needed.

Memories/accents/tastes/smells kept rolling in each day, as reliable as the afternoon tide in front of our house. And while I'm not sure relief at my renewed sense of place is the correct phrase, I do feel content. You CAN go home again. And I would encourage anyone to find out what it is that binds you to a place, whether it's where you were raised, where you live now or somewhere you visited once that you've never quite been able to shake. Because while NYC fits me like an old (yet shiny) glove, there will always be a little piece of me that belongs to where my journey first began.

Enjoy these last few days of summer, friends!


Making Summer Reading Fun with Zenni Optical

I loved reading as a child (and still do, when I can find 5 minutes...), so it makes me really happy that Millie, as a blossoming young reader, seems to enjoy it as much as I do. Her reading comprehension came a long way this past year, and I'm excited to see those skills continue to develop as she begins 2nd grade. How do I have a 2nd grader, anyway?! Agh. But I digress... 

With just a month left of summer vacation, and many busy days behind and ahead of us, I do realize it can sometimes be a challenge to squeeze in time for reading. The key? Finding ways to make it fun, engaging and "thematic." Zenni Optical, which provides on-trend eyewear for the whole family (their kids' styles are really cute!) sponsored this post, and they wholeheartedly agree and support our earliest readers for a lifetime of reading.

Here are a few of the things we love to read and have done to help make the process "come alive," while still enjoying that important time of reading to our children, too (Vivi at 4 will be our next reader!) --

Step outside the box and check out what children's magazines are available and appropriate for your child. I recently discovered Kazoo Magazine (specifically for girls ages 5-10), and Millie has not been able to put it down. We love that the magazine celebrates how awesome girls are, and features, amongst other cool topics, stories about remarkable women in history. Plus, it's just fun to have something arrive in the mail with your name on it, right?

While the girls have specific series that they like (I'll get to that in a minute), I also think it's good to keep themed books around according to the season, upcoming holidays, etc. For example, here are a few of our favorite summer/beach reads over the years:

Harry by the Sea (by Gene Zion)
Time of Wonder (by Robert McCloskey)
The Summer Visitors (by Karel Hayes)
The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma's (by Stan Berenstain)

As with many little girls, I have two major Fancy Nancy fans in my home. Ooh la la! We're visiting my parents right now, and one of the first things we did when we arrived was visit their local library. And right on top of the pile of books we brought home was, of course, Fancy Nancy: Fancy Day in Room 1-A.

The girls decided to play dress up like the characters in the book, which turned out to be a lot of fun when you're staying at Grandma's house. What a fun way to bring the story alive, and I highly recommend it!

I hope some of these tips and photos will serve as inspiration to make summer reading an engaging experience and not something your child dreads. Fostering a love of reading early on will only serve to enhance your child's life as they grow. In the meantime, I can't wait to introduce Millie to some of my childhood favorites, like Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie.

Until then, readers!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored on behalf of Zenni Optical via One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blogging tips