Monday, June 25, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 6: the shore

So, when we originally found out that Jon had this bonus week-long vacation in June, we thought "oooo, let's go to Puerto Rico again!" We went 2 years ago just for the weekend and had an amazing time. It was by far one of the best vacations we ever had. But then reality kicked in and as much as we thought we "deserved it" after actually surviving this year, we just couldn't justify spending the money.

The alternative, you ask? Belmar, NJ!

I was definitely itching for the beach (sorry, "the shore" as we call it here!) So, I did some research and found the lovely little town of Belmar. It was just an hour away from the city and since we went on a weekday there wasn't much traffic and it wasn't too crowded. There was a great little stretch of sand and playgrounds on the beach every few blocks. It was so perfect.

Noah had a great time. I was so shocked that he wasn't trying to eat the sand. He was loving the sea breeze and the sand between his toes. We just drove down during his morning nap, hung out for about 4 hours, and then headed back and he slept on the way home.

Jon and I have a track record with these kinds of adventures also -- they usually are a complete bust! But this worked out perfectly! I couldn't have been more pleased (well, maybe I could've -- if we were in Puerto Rico!) But that's beside the point!

Anyway, here are some pics of our lovely day:

hanging out with dad

catching up on some reading

sporting the sun hat

enjoying the sea breeze

cooling off

getting dry

and of course, the playground!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 5: Belvedere Castle & Central Park

Every time we go to the Great Lawn in Central Park, we see Belvedere Castle in the distance and we always say, "we should really go up there sometime," but we never plan to try to figure out how to get there. Today we headed down to the park for a picnic and some playground action and I was determined to figure out how to get up there. We entered at West 79th street and started wandering East. The various paths seemed to suddenly multiply and I wasn't sure where to go, so I wanted to give up (a usual pattern in most of our adventures!) But Jon was determined to find the entrance, so he took the lead. I was SO skeptical of the path we started to take and was positive that we were going to end up lost in "The Ramble." But he perservered and wouldn't let me turn back. And somehow (I'm still not sure how) we made it to the castle! Needless to say, Jon was very pleased with himself and asked how I could ever doubt him (he has quite the track record for being terrible with directions and getting us lost!).

so proud of himself!

Anyway, we made it to the castle basked in the fabulous view that was there. As we were leaving, we saw a different way to exit and soon found that the entrance was WAY easier to get to than we thought! Oh well, now we know!

We picnicked on the Great Lawn and then headed to check out a new playground. The "Mariner's playground" at the W 86th street entrance is another good one to put on my list. It had a great toddler playground and water feature!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 4: the spa and the village

Today, I was able to finally cash in on my Christmas present from Jon... (I know, it took me long enough!) He gave me the gift of "spaaahhh!" I got a gift certificate for a 75 minute massage at Bliss in SoHo. It was fabulous!

Then Jon and Noah met me down in the village where we wandered through some cool playgrounds, ate lunch at Burritoville (the most kid-friendly place we could find), and then hung out at Washington Square park. Jon was itching for some Magnolia cupcakes, so we stopped there on our way home, but the line was way too long to wait (darn tourists!). So, we settled for some delicious gelato instead :)

The toddler playground at Washington Square park was impressive. A bit too crowded but it's definitely on my top 5 list currently.

sea lion baby

crazy yellow dinosaur

toddler playground @ WSP

(note how the slide goes right to the ground -- perfect for the pre-walkers!)

3 cheers for family fun!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 3: Botanical Gardens

So, today we decided to direct our adventures north and we did some discovering of the Bronx! The NY Botanical Gardens was first on our list.

It wasn't too bad getting there by public transportation -- the stroller complicated things as usual, but it was doable. I couldn't believe how big the gardens were... the whole place was huge! We just started wandering around and then by the time we decided to leave, we couldn't believe how long it took us to walk back to the entrance... especially since we kept getting lost!

We had fun checking out the rose garden, the family garden, and finding a nice spot of clean grass for Noah to wander through.

uh, how do we get outta here?

stopping to smell the flowers!

family fun!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 2: CPZ

The weather was a bit unpredictable today, so we weren't quite sure what we were going to do. We had planned on going to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx because there is free admission on Wednesdays, but it rained all morning and we figured the grounds would be too wet to enjoy.

So, as soon as Noah woke up from his morning nap we decided to head down to the Central Park Zoo (or CPZ as the regulars call it!). Noah and I had been 2 times before, but Jon has never been with us, so it was really fun to have him there too.

We got to see the sea lion and penguin feedings which are both very exciting. Noah was particularly fascinated with the sea lions. He kept pointing and grunting everytime they swam past. We also got a good peek at the polar bear, the red panda, and the monkeys. Then we headed over to the children's zoo for a closer look at the pigs, the sheep, the cow, and the llamas. Noah practiced all of his animals sounds while we were there. He's doing so well with them now. His current sounds are: monkey (sounds like oooaaa without a separation - very funny), sheep, cow, rooster (more like cock-cock-doo), tiger, and goat. It was fun to see him interact with the live animals.

Noah fell asleep on our walk back through the park to go home, so we decided to join him and crashed for awhile on the lawn.

here are some pics:

the sea lions

the polar bear

the red panda

the monkeys

the turtle

Noah the rabbit


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vacation Adventures, part 1: Picnic in Central Park

Today was the first day of Jon's vacation and we decided to go to the "end-of-the-year" picnic that the medicine and psych interns were having in Central Park. We discovered a new part of the park that I had never been to before. It's called "The Great Hill". It has really nice clean grass (something I look for in good parks -- no cigarette butts or beer bottle caps in sight) and good shade. The only down side is the huge set of stairs that leads up to it -- not very stroller friendly. But I think there may be another route sans-stairs that we didn't know about.

It was fun to finally meet some of Jon's co-workers and show off Noah a bit. They were all quite entertained by him. It was also funny to watch them actually relax for the first time all year. This was the first weekday they had off for a long time and many of them didn't even know what to do with themselves!

Noah had a blast watching daddy play football and kick the soccer ball around.

All in all... a good day and start to the vac-a.

The Great Hill

The fam

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

I can't believe this day has finally come... and we actually survived! Jon's intern year is officially over. And what a year it's been.

He now has a week of vacation -- hallelujah -- and then he starts his 8am-5pm/no weekends/doing-what-he-actually-went-to-med-school-to-do job.

I definitely consider this week off as us making up for all of the Saturdays he had to work this year, even though it probably won't even come close!

Here are some the adventures I've already started to plan for the week:

picnics in Central Park and Ft. Tryon Park, a trip to the Botanical Gardens, a day at the Central Park Zoo, and maybe even a trip to the beach!

Jon even came home at 1:00pm today and met us in the park... hooray!

let the adventures begin!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the playground search

So, now that Noah has perfected his crawling abilities considerably and enjoys the playground much more these days, I have been on the hunt for the best toddler playground in the city.
These are the requirements that I've come up with for this stage of Noah's development:

A playground with:

1. a small set of stairs
2. a small slide
3. the space between the stairs and slide needs to be protected by bars most of the way.
4. a small water feature
5. baby swings
6. set in a shaded area
7. relatively low to the ground
8. set on a padded surface

We've visited a lot of playgrounds so far, and have found that some of the best ones are right here in our neighborhood. But I'm always on the hunt for a better one!

Currently #1 on my list:

162nd & Riverside


J. Hood Wright Park

173rd & Ft. Washington Ave.


The Ancient Playground

East 86th & 5th Ave.

This website has been pretty helpful in my search so far.

I've heard the "Hippo Playground" on 91st and Riverside is the best in the city... That's next on our list to visit. We'll just have to see if it meets my requirements!

(and I'm sure the "requirements" will quickly change as soon as Noah starts walking!)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Naptime and Painted Nails

This morning Noah took a 2 1/2 hour nap. I was so excited when the 2 hour marked creeped by and I still didn't hear a peep from his room. After getting my usual nap-time tasks done (reading scriptures, writing in my journal, answering emails, and searching various online clothing stores for things I can't afford, etc.) I tip-toed into the living room to relax until he woke up. I was even able make some headway on my current cross-stitch project (which I usually don't get around to until after his bed-time and I usually fall asleep then anyway!) And I did something I haven't done in over a year (basically since Noah was born...) I actually painted my nails -- fingers and toes! I don't know why, but it felt SO good! I started to put my usual boring light-pink color on, but then decided to spice it up a bit with a dark maroon color. Watch out! I was even able to straighten the apartment, pack his diaper bag, and get his bottle ready, so as soon as he woke up so we could just walk out the door. It was fabulous.

After going to the playground and running our usual errands, we came home for some lunch and a little extra playtime. I figured he probably wouldn't go down at his usual time because he slept longer this morning. So, I held him off for about a 1/2 hour. And after our usual song, story, "sleep-tight" routine, I put him down for nap #2. It's now 1 hour later and he's still awake. I can hear him babbling, singing, and rocking his crib back and forth. He must be standing up and holding onto the bar dancing back and forth. Yikes!

I was hoping the 1-nap transition would hold off for a few more months, at least through the end of the summer. But it looks like the "change in sleep habits" that I keep reading about in my parenting books has come to haunt us.

What can you do?

I guess I'll just stare admiringly at my nails in the meantime.