My Own Affair to Remember (No, Not Like That...)

Hope everyone enjoyed a long, lazy Thanksgiving holiday weekend filled with yummy food & lots of gratitude. And maybe a few discounts that were too good to pass up, too.

Ours started on a bit of a romantic note (!), as this year marks another 5 years since Husband proposed on Thanksgiving Eve on top of the Empire State Building. Call it cheesy, I don't care. As many already know, I grew up wanting to move to New York City, & a lot of that has to do with the glitz & glam I embraced while watching movies like Singing in The Rain, Easter Parade & Affair to Remember as a little girl. And don't even get me started on long-time favorite, Sleepless in Seattle.

Why yes, I will marry you!

The Empire State Building was one of the first places I visited after moving here a few months post-college, & it remains one of my favorite symbols for the crazy // exhilarating // frustrating // dynamic place we call home. Knowing this about me, Husband picked the perfect place to pop the question.

5 years & 1 baby later...
Somewhere along the way, we thought it might be fun to mark the occasion, so decided we should head back every 5 years for a visit. In short, a lot cheaper than renewing our wedding vows with a stunning view to boot.

10 years & 2 lovable & rambunctious children later...
It was unseasonably mild on Wednesday, & the lines to go up were practically nonexistent. We marked another 5 years with ease & a quick kiss while we blew the runny noses of our children & yelled at them to stop running into people. Needless to say, a lot has changed in 10 years...

Luckily, I wouldn't change a thing.


Improv for Kids with The Story Pirates (& a giveaway!)

Hey NYC! A Story Pirates show is the perfect outlet for little ones with big imaginations. Founded in 2003, this nationwide program celebrates the words & ideas of young people by creating a musical sketch comedy show featuring stories written by kids.

We got a chance to check them out on Saturday, & it was such a fun show! Millie's really gotten into creating little stories & "writing books," so she was particularly enthusiastic. Each of the kids who'd submitted a story for the show was in the audience, so it was great fun seeing their reaction to their own stories coming to life in front of them -- each one zanier than the next. Then, the second half of the show featured an emcee who asked certain questions of the audience, & the improv actors came up with the skit as the answers were called out. I have the greatest respect for this art form... quick thinkers actors are so entertaining to watch!

I love that The Story Pirates are about education as well as entertainment. This creative launch pad for kids has received more than 28,000 stories from kids since it first began, & visiting schools is an important part of their outreach to children. Their curriculum focuses on vocabulary development, story structure, revision & confident self-expression. To find out how to bring The Story Pirates to your school, see here.

With all that said, want to see The Story Pirates? They are performing 3 more shows this season here in NYC & I have a family 4 pack of tickets to give away! Remaining show dates are December 5th at the Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th Street), December 12th & December 19th at the Davenport Theater (354 West 45th Street). As these dates are fast approaching, I'll run this contest for a week, picking a winner next Tuesday, December 1st. And if you don't win, no worries. If you choose a December 12th or 19th performance, use code BABYMEETSCITY for $10 off your ticket purchase. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Getting Holiday Ready with Cottonelle

This post is sponsored by Cottonelle. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City!

How is it that every year the holiday season seems to take me by surprise? Call me a slow learner or just plain stubborn, I almost never feel ready for the holidays until they're practically over. And don't even get me started on the colder temps outside...

This year, however, I've pledged to do things differently. I'm shopping for gifts earlier, getting our Christmas tree up over Thanksgiving weekend & preparing for guests in advance. That last part can be a wee bit challenging if you live in a small apartment in New York City, but we find a way & love hosting family & friends. And it's all the more festive during the holiday season!

Okay, so without further ado, here are some fun tips for being a hostess with the mostess (& staying as organized as possible during the visit):

Welcome basket: I love the idea of creating a small welcome basket for guests when they arrive. No need to overdo it, but include a few essentials they might not have thought to bring with them (headache medicine, lotion, toilettes, facial cleanser, band-aids -- you never know! -- floss... that sort of thing).

Fresh flowers: Head to your local farmer's market & pick up fresh flowers before your guests arrive. This is basically the cure for anything, actually.

Closet space: Make room in your closet for their hang up clothes, including a few extra hangers. If you get this out of the way before they arrive, you won't be scrambling as they stand there with their coat in their hands.

Bathroom surprise: Okay, maybe this is slightly over the top, but I like to make toilet paper origami when I'm expecting guests. What can I say, who doesn't like a little fun surprise in the least surprising of places. Not a terrible sail boat, eh? Cottonelle's Mega Rolls are key, because as the name suggests,  it's doubtful you'll have to replace the roll while guests are in town. As you can see from the sheer size, this toilet paper lasts a while!

Length of visit: Mmmm... so this might be the most important one of all. I'm not sure if you've heard the phrase comparing house guests with fish, but sufficed to say, confirming a number of days before your guests arrive is very important. In our "cozy" apartment, three nights is really the perfect amount before we all start tripping over each other.

As we gear up for the holiday season, it's important for us to take a moment & give thanks for family & friends that we've had the honor of having in our home over the years. We're both from different parts of the country, so staying connected can have its challenges, even with the wonders of technology & social media. And at the end of the day, there's nothing like catching up with a good friend on your COUCH instead of the computer. Here's to many more hosting days ahead!

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post with Cottonelle. All opinions herein are my own.


An Afternoon of Yoga at Equinox

A couple weeks ago, Monica of Marino Bambinos & I hosted an afternoon of yoga at Equinox Sports Club for some of our favorite blogging friends. So much fun!

Now, full confession here: I haven't done much yoga (not to mention exercise) since the summer. I seem to always find an excuse to avoid working out, which is totally lame, I know. Especially because I feel so much better afterwards, particularly with yoga. For every downward dog, my back thanks me.

And speaking of giving thanks, enter: Equinox. I began working with them over the summer, as they have a dynamic program for children called For Kids Only in two of their club locations here in the city: on the Upper West Side & Upper East Side (where our yoga class took place). While the little gals took tennis lessons with Gotham Tennis Academy this summer, I got to work out & attend classes. Talk about a win win!

Currently the Equinox calendar (for the Upper West Side location, as an example) encompasses movement/dance, basketball, soccer, family yoga & "living stories" classes, along with the basic Kids Club drop off child care program while parent is working out (for ages 3 months to 7 years). In addition to their Pre-K alternative programming, of course.

That's right... your child can go to preschool at the gym! Seems kinda crazy but totally true, my friends. With Stepping Stone 2's (2-3 years), children are introduced to cooperative play with a focus on routines, individual & cooperative learning skills. Activities include circle time games, music, reading, alphabet & number recognition, etc. In Next Steps 3's (3-4 years), they are introduced to a more formalized learning structure. Activities include basic math games, vocabulary building, music, crafts, sing-a-longs & more.

But back to our afternoon event... while we were getting our ommmm on, our kids were hosted at the Kids Club, and clearly none of them enjoyed disco ball or freeze yoga.

I think I can speak for the group (mostly mothers) who really enjoyed that hour of relaxation and time to truly focus on ourselves, while knowing our little cherubs were a few rooms over having a blast. It is that kind of attention to detail, convenience and satisfaction that moms really need and deserve, and Equinox supplied just that.

Now, with any truly great event, a fab gift bag must follow! Thanks to our generous sponsors:

Crispy Green: an all natural, 100% pure fruit snack. Perfect for snacking!
Rodan + Fields: created by dermatologists, if you haven't joined the R+F band wagon... now's the time! I'm hoping my skin will thank me later.
Herban Essentials: 100% pure essential oil towelettes. So refreshing! Made in the USA & never tested on animals.
Zobha: Puts my work out clothes to shame. Their active wear is SO cool & they graciously supplied everyone with a yoga mat to take home.

We're excited to keep sharing the Equinox love in the year ahead. Follow along at #EQXMoms!


Saturday at The Farmers Market

My parents were just in town for a visit, and it was so nice to see them, especially when all hell is breaking loose in the world. As I try to make sense out of the senseless, I will treasure that which makes life most beautiful -- every day moments with family & friends. We ventured over to the Inwood Farmers Market on Saturday, & Husband took some photos that were too pretty not to share. Every day radishes never looked so good.

My mom rocking an on-trend J. Jill poncho. Go Mom! 
Cheesy or not... quality time is the best time.

Sometimes a walk in the woods is just what the doctor ordered.
My parents have visited enough times by this point that we can bypass most touristy activities, although we did see The Radio City Christmas Spectacular on Friday night. That show NEVER disappoints! Otherwise, we just enjoyed being together & hanging out around the neighborhood. While it's a challenge to shake this uneasy feeling when there is so much chaos in the world, I'm trying my best.

Peace, friends.


Making Memories with Real Times

This post is sponsored by RealTimes. Thanks for supporting Baby Meets City.

It seems like there are a million photo apps available these days, and I've found it overwhelming to find the best option for sharing memories with friends & family -- especially one that includes a video component. In short, I want my ideal app to be easy to use, full of features but not overwhelming, & have the ability to make the final product look amazing & professional. That's not asking for too much, right?! :) And with a husband who happens to be a television editor, the bar is set pretty high.

I was recently introduced to RealTimes, & I like what I'm seeing thus far. Have you heard of it? The Real Time Video Collage Maker is available on iTunes & Google Play, & combines all of my qualifications listed above. It even makes videos automatically as I take photos & videos on my phone! But I'm getting ahead of myself...

After downloading the RealTimes app, I got acquainted with its features. Once I'd given it access to my photos, you can easily select which "scene" (photo) you'd like to include in your "story" (mini film). Easy enough. You can re-order photos by dragging them with your finger, and there are all sorts of cool Instagram-like effects you can use, not to mention adding titles, stickers, frames, etc. Combining photo & video really takes your story to the next level, too, along with music that you can pick off the site, your own music or you can even record voice narration. Fun!

I made our first official RealTimes video of a fun day with friends in our neighborhood. First, we went to a Columbia University (vs. Harvard) football game, & then we hung out in our local park. Husband has been working a ton lately, so it was great that he got to have a special day with his daughters, which is what I chose to highlight in the video. Interspersed with photos of the game there's video of him throwing leaves with the girls, swinging them at the park, and a field goal at the game.

See below... so FUN (& easy)!


To see another video, I love the example used on the RealTimes YouTube page, which lays out what a simple program this is with such memorable results.

Also wanted to highlight the RealTimes Family Plan features, which offers a lot of bang for your buck:

  • 4 RealTimes accounts for the prices of one unlimited subscription plan ($9.99/month)
    • With the Family Acount, one person will receive the billing and is able to invite up to 3 sub-accounts
  • The Family Account is a great value for families. You are getting 4 unlimited RealTimes accounts to share with your loved ones for the price of one.
  • Family will not only get unlimited storage space, but also have all the other great features that the unlimited account offers:
    • Unlimited lengths on RealTimes Stories
    • All music tracks
    • All filters/effects for videos

Now that I'm all set up, I look forward to making more videos for friends & family!

Disclosure: I was compensated as part of this campaign. All opinions expressed are my own.


Big Apple Books: A Modern Day Take on NYC's Most Famous 6 Year Old

Everyone knows Eloise. She is as much a part of the fabric of New York City as yellow taxis, hot dog vendors & Tiffany's (list could go on for days, but surprisingly, those were the first three things that came to mind).

But, have you heard about ELLA? This fresh new take on Eloise, a modern day adaptation written with love by Mallory Kasdan, is such fun. Mallory has taken everything that we find affectionately irritating about Eloise & transformed her into Ella, a similarly wise-cracking six year old who lives at a hip hotel in Brooklyn (inspired by Williamsburg's Wythe Hotel). She is the same precocious child, though this time she rides a scooter, has a "manny," and video chats with her absentee mother, a little hint of sadness & complexity still present. This cheeky parody (with vibrant illustration by Marcos Chin), had me chuckling throughout while entertaining the girls at the same time. Hipster, man-bun wearing "artists" sitting on reclaimed wood chairs, it's all in good fun, I promise.

I got a chance to meet up with Mallory recently at Brooklyn Roasters in DUMBO, and had a great time learning how ELLA was brought to life. A visit to the Wythe Hotel for her 40th birthday started the wheels turning, and Mallory, herself a busy mother of two, is excited to bring ELLA to a whole new generation of readers.

If you're interested in living like Ella for a day, check out some of her favorite Brooklyn haunts:

Jane's Carousel (only if a unicorn is available)
Farmacy (what's old is new again, friends)
Ample Hills (simply a MUST. period.)
Streb (trapeze! squeeeee!)
Smorgasburg (without the lines)
Creatively Wild Art Studio (the ideal spot to embrace one's inner artiste)

Big Apple Books continues to be one of my favorite things about maintaining this site, especially when it means I get to connect with local authors like Mallory. I can't wait to see what new projects she develops in the future! In the meantime, visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy of ELLA.

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