There’s a saying that you don’t live in New York for the weather. The five months of this year so far have certainly proved this to be true, with a long, cold winter, snow and a ridiculous amount of rain.
So what’s a parent of a little kid to do, when it’s too wet, too cold (and now that the summer months are upon us—too hot) to play outside?
The answer? Catch the G (or L!) train to Williamsburg and check out the play space there, Twinkle.
Twinkle is a true family business, owned by sisters Vanessa Yee-Chan and Mieka John, and their father Victor John. The family has been part of the Williamsburg community for over 30 years, and decided, after noticing a lack of play spaces in their area for families to go to, to create the amazing world that is Twinkle.
Walking into Twinkle was literally like walking into a wonderland. Here is a breakdown of the many, many different areas of the playspace: Red Hot Fire House (a giant fire truck where kids can make the lights and siren flash), Stardust Tree Fort (a life-sized tree with a fort in its branches), How to Feed your Dragon (four 15-foot dragons that suck up scarves into their pipes and shoot them out the top), Pretty in Pink (a beauty parlour with crazy wigs), Brooklyn General Store (the most amazing kids store we’ve ever seen, stocked with play groceries and carts, and a moving conveyor belt on which to “buy” items after shopping), the Graffiti Studio (a dance room filled with balls and balloons), Gently Down the Stream (a water play station), The Hard Hat Zone (a sandpit with construction toys), Young MacDonald’s Barnyard (adorable pretend farm animals for kids 18 months and younger), and Twinkle Lounge (a place for parents to sit and relax, overlooking the playspace).
My toddler is 21 months old, and the perfect age to enjoy a lot of what Twinkle has to offer. The playspace is suitable for kids under the age of six, so they have a range of activities that children can enjoy depending on their age. My daughter in particular enjoyed the grocery store, the fire truck, the sand pit and the water play station. I enjoyed seeing her deliriously happy.
Twinkle is a membership-based play space, with a $25 first-time trial drop-in rate, which is exactly what we did to test drive the amazing space. You can also buy a six-visit pass for $130 if, like us, you’re not a local to the play space, but think you’ll be back a few times over a two-month period. The six visit pass is perfect for summer and winter in particular, if, also like us, you spend all of your time during these seasons trying to escape the excessive heat/cold.
It can seem like a big undertaking to take little ones to the MoMA. With its small rooms and quiet atmosphere, it can feel like a daunting prospect. However, the MoMA loves kids — just keep strollers and toddlers several feet from the art works and you’ll be fine. Use our guide below to enjoy showing your tiny tot or older child the beautiful of modern art.
This is your best bet with a baby or toddler. Stroll them around the exhibits you want to see (I’d suggest choosing only one exhibit per visit), then release them in the sculpture garden to play.
Bonus tip: The sculpture garden is free to visit on its own every morning from 9-10:30am. After that time you’ll need to buy a ticket, so get in early if you want to do a test run with just a little bit of culture before taking on the entire museum.
The MoMA offers programs for children ages 4 – 14 and their parents and caregivers. All programs are free.
Pick up a free art card or printed guide (you can download the guide here in advance) with activities, questions and ideas for looking at art in the MoMA.
MoMA Audio for Kids
The MoMA has special kid-friendly audio guides.
Kids ages 4 – 14 learn about ideas and techniques in modern and contemporary art in these free workshops.
The MoMA hosts free screenings of family films every month. They tend to show unusual films you might otherwise never see (no Disney here!)
MoMA Art Labs
Adults and kids can experiment, play, and create art in this interactive space. Explore tools, techniques and ideas about art in a family-friendly environment.
MoMA Art Lab App
Live too far from the MoMA to make a visit in person? Download the MoMA Art Lab app (suitable for ages seven and up) and your kids can enjoy creating artworks such as a shape poem, sound composition or group drawing.
Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St. btwn 5th & 6th Ave.
Three years ago, I flew to New York alone, and four months pregnant. Meeting Alec at the airport I was apprehensive, scared, extremely nauseous, and not sure that we’d made the right decision. The years that followed were the hardest, most challenging, most frustrating years of my life thus far – compounded a million by having a baby in a country far from our family.
But in the middle of these difficult years, something extraordinary happened. We created a tiny New Yorker and made a home in this big crazy city. We explored. We dreamed big. We discovered what we were truly capable of when faced with adversity. New York is a hard place to live. It’s fast, it’s dirty, it’s expensive. It’s also aggressive, strong and fierce. Each day can be like a battlefield – just taking a subway ride solo with a small child requires serious commitment and resolve.
I learned a lot about myself thanks to this tough city. That I, too, can be tough, resilient and resourceful. That I’m capable of starting over in a new country, of making so many wonderful friends.
Living in this city plus motherhood broke me down, and built me back up again into a person who is more confident, more certain of her own worth, and who is happier with who she is than ever before. Thank you New York for toughening up this soft girl from Sydney suburbia.
Saying goodbye is something I don’t want to be doing. It feels too soon, too unfinished. But things don’t always go to plan, and our priorities have changed. Alec, Cheese and I will be returning for a time to Sydney to be closer to our families. We feel that it’s the right thing for us to do at this time in all of our lives, and we are embracing this decision while walking away from a life we also love passionately. Something I’m finding really hard to do. We are beyond lucky that we have such a wonderful life to return to back in Australia. Family and friends whom we love, and a country where it’s truly great to live.
So goodbye (for now) to the piles of garbage on the sidewalk. To the smell of dog pee and sticky pavements in summer. To rats, lunatics and rappers in the subway, polar vortexes and hurricanes. So long to loving friends who embraced us into their lives. To Cheese’s playmates since birth. To tulips and daffodils in the spring, and fields of orange and red leaves in the fall. To carousels and whoopie pies, Broadway and world-class ballet. Goodbye to a life we loved, and hello to a brand new chapter for us all.
New York, we love you, and we will see you again soon.
As transplants to this glorious city, we’re constantly seeking out fun new ways to experience everything NYC has to offer. We try to balance obvious kid-centric activities with things that we, as adults, are interested in. I also hope that exposing Missy E to art and culture will inspire in her an interest when she is older too.
I’ve always loved art galleries in particular, and never get sick of visiting the grande dame of museums and art galleries, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA the Met). We used to take E fairly frequently to the Met when she was a baby and young toddler, when she was easily amused by large paintings with bright colors. We hadn’t taken her in a long time, especially since she hit the destructive toddler stage, out of fear of an extremely large bill at the end of our visit.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that we decided it was finally time to revisit the Met, especially because we wanted to check out the new Roof Garden Commission, an installation by Dan Graham with Günther Vogt. Major plus: Gardens are generally not breakable or easily ruined by grimy toddler fingerprints.
Since it was a special occasion, we dressed E in a super cute outfit, highlighted by her brand new shoes that she’s been dying to wear — a sparkly silver pair called the Alexis Silver by Pediped. E was so delighted with her fancy shoes that she showed them to literally every single person we encountered on our trip up there (“My shoes!! They’re sparkly!!”).
First things first however: getting to the Met. It’s a long train ride for us to the 86th St Station, so by the time we reached our stop, we all needed a snack. We dropped by Dean and Deluca (1150 Madison Ave at 85th St) to load up on coffee and croissants. Note: be sure to finish your food and coffee before entering the Met, or try to stow the food away until you get to the rooftop garden.
As soon as we reached the staircase leading to the museum, E and her fancy feet took off at a fast gallop. Let the races begin!
The key to enjoying an art gallery with a small child is to pick one thing you really want to see and to not try for anything more than that. Since the rooftop garden was our aim, we made our way to the rooftop elevator straight away, rather than browsing around the large halls.
We did however choose the path to the elevator that seemed to most intrigue Missy E — the Greek and Roman hall filled with sculptures. While we were a bit terrified of her crash tackling priceless art and smashing things, she was remarkably well behaved and surprisingly docile. We pointed out things we thought she might be interested in, like animals or statues of people, and she was particularly concerned about the statues that were missing limbs or heads.
The fountain was also a particular favorite. She was fascinated by the money in there, so we gave her spare change and taught her how to throw in coins and make wishes. “What do you wish for?” “The playground!”. Of course. “Anything else?” “Lions. And giraffes!”. Er, sorry Miss E. Wrong spot for those. But we will keep it in mind when we next visit the zoo!
Next stop, the rooftop garden. There is a special elevator that takes you up to the roof — ask for directions as you enter or you’ll be walking around in circles trying to find it. The garden is open seasonally, and offers spectacular views of Central Park and the surrounding buildings. It’s also a space where kids can run around a bit, particular with the current extremely kid-friendly exhibition. The Roof Garden Commission is kind of like a garden maze, with two-way mirrored glass set between ivy hedgerows, and is especially fun for toddlers. Missy E really enjoyed the maze aspect of it, playing hide and seek with us, and also got a thrill out of seeing her reflection in the glass.
All the while, the bright sunshine caught the sparkles on E’s shoes, making her fast-moving feet appear to actually be silver. With full sparkle from tip to toe, they are every girly-girl’s dream come true, as well as having all the features that matter to adults: a flexible rubber sole with grip on it for climbing, sparkles that are part of the material rather than glued on (so there is no loose glitter floating around the apartment), and an adjustable strap to keep the shoes on her feet when she’s running around like a crazy person.
These Pediped shoes also feature Memory Foam Technology (MFT). This means that the shoes include a memory foam insole that shapes perfectly to the child’s foot, thus acting like a custom insole and supporting the foot in all the right places. As a result, the shoes are an excellent fit and are super comfy. MFT also prevents kids’ little feet from slipping in the shoe by providing a secure fit. What I love most about these shoes is how they dress up any outfit, but still provide the support and fit that growing (and busy) feet need.
After the museum, we made E’s wish come true by taking her to the Hecksher Playground next door. Lucky her shoes were made for climbing!
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Hours: Daily, Sun-Thur 10am-5:30pm, Fri & Sat 10-9pm.
The Roof Garden Commission is on display April 29–November 2, 2014
The Alexis Silver Pediped shoes retail for $59 and are available on the Pediped website.
Brunch With My Baby was provided with a sample for reviewing purposes. All opinions, as always, are our own.
Is there anyone left who ISN’T worried about plastic, PBAs and other nasty things leaching into our food and water, particularly with young kids? After reading a particularly disturbing report on all the nasties that can be absorbed by children from their plastic bottles, dishes and containers, I’ve spent a lot of time researching what I can use with my daughter that will be safe for her. I came up with zoë b organic (I also love stainless steel water bottles, plates, cups and dishes).
What makes the zoë b organic range different from other plastics out there? The focus for this company is on being as green as possible, which means making their sand toys and dish sets from a bioplastic derived from corn sugar grown in the USA. They contain absolutely no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. Their toys and dishes are manufactured in Pennsylvania USA, so you’re supporting the local economy when you shop with zoë b.
The bioplastic used is also a renewable resource. While ordinary plastic comes from oil and natural gas — fossil fuels that are not renewable —zoë b organic’s bioplastic fully biodegrades in 2 to 3 years when buried in soil, immersed in water, home composted, or composted in industrial facilities (ordinary plastic takes up to 500 years to degrade).
Zoë b toys are durable and designed to hold up to playing just like ordinary beach toys. They’re designed to withstand extreme heat (hello New York summer heatwave!) and endless sunlight, and are dishwasher-safe. The toys and dishes only biodegrade when exposed to microbial activity, such as in soil, home compost, industrial compost, or marine environments. When your kids outgrow the toys and dishes, if they’re not suitable to be handed down to another family, you can simply put them in your compost or bury them in your backyard.
We received a set of the dishes, containing a cup, dish and bowl, and a set of the sandpit toys, both in pink/orange. When they arrived, Missy E literally shrieked with joy and insisted on her dinner being served on the dishes (“and milk in my milk cup!”) and taking the sand pit toys into the bath with her. So tick off “instant hit with the kid”. I personally love the designs for different reasons. The cup is the perfect size for small hands to hold, and slightly sloped on the side to make it easy to drink from without excess spilling over the edge. The bowl is big enough for a big serving of cereal, and the plate is the perfect size for a large toddler dinner.
The sandpit toys are designed with function and fun in mind. While most sand toys come in a bucket and fall out everywhere, this innovative set comes as a box with a lid and toys inside, giving you an all-in-one toy kit where the container is also part of the toy. The lid is a fun sand sifter with different shapes like a star, diamond, triangle and circle for the sand to fall through, and the bottom of the box acts as the bucket. Inside are two small cups and a shovel — again, the perfect size for small hands, and also the perfect amount of equipment to either play with on ones own, or to share with a friend or two.
One of my absolutely favourite things to do is to just walk the streets of DUMBO. I did it a lot during winter with the Cheese to get her to nap, which wasn’t ideal, but it was still an amazing experience (even in the snow and sleet). DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and is a little old industrial neighborhood full of cobblestones, soaring bridges and, of course, stunning water views.
DUMBO was originally a manufacturing district, home to warehouses and factories that made machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads. Interestingly, the cardboard box was invented in the Robert Gair building on Washington Street, which is now the home of Etsy.
Happy 40th birthday my dearest love! We celebrated in style with a festival of NYC events:
Lunch at ABC Kitchen. Cheese slept well the night before, so we all had a lovely lunch – especially when the little one slept through most of lunch so we were able to enjoy a leisurely lunch and then share dessert with her when she woke.
Alec had crab. I had ravioli, and we shared really good citrus desserts. ABC Kitchen was really kid-friendly too, which was nice, even though Cheese was asleep the whole time! When she woke up, they set her a special place at the table.
A party with friends at the KBH, Brooklyn. Nothing like beer, cake and pie with good friends. Pie and cake from Betty Bakery, Brooklyn. Alec wanted a pie rather than cake, so we had both to feed the masses.
Candles on the birthday pie. Happy birthday boy.
Awesome seats at a Net’s game at the Barclays Center – the Brooklyn Nets vs Atlanta. My first basketball game! It was so much fun, both being so close to really see the players and the action, and the atmosphere. The view was amazing! Special seats for the birthday boy. The only celeb we saw was Katie Couric, but plenty of other fun things to watch, like the half-time entertainment and dancers. I also loved that our tickets included unlimited food.
Last stop on the birthday train …
Dinner at Per Se. The most amazing dining experience of our lives.
Located in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, Per Se has been on our bucket list since we moved to New York. It was an experience worth waiting for, and one that we will remember forever. From the moment we arrived, the staff made us feel special and welcome. They knew our names, they knew I was a vegetarian, they knew it was Alec’s birthday. They printed special menus with “Happy Birthday Alec” on them. Every tiny detail was perfect.
And of course the food was exquisite. Every course was a tiny delight. In addition to the courses listed on the menu were various others including amuse bouches, bread, hand-churned butter from a small dairy of 14 cows, extra desserts, a cardamon affogato, macarons, hand-made chocolate truffles and, of course, the famous donuts. All up I think there were about 12 courses.
We were so full we had to take home the macarons and chocolates. As we left we were handed our especially printed menus in a folder, our boxed up desserts, and sweet little tins filled with the most amazing hazelnut cookies for later.
The best meal of our lives, and the most amazing evening.
Alec looks eternally youthful to me, with the exception of some tired bags under the eyes thanks to the bad-sleeping Cheese monster.
My love, I hope your 40th was wonderful, and here’s to celebrating every day between this and the next birthday. It’s an honor to walk through life with you by my side. You’re a wonderful father and husband. Both the Cheese and I are lucky to have you making up our little family of three.
Finally gorgeous weather after seven months of freezing cold. What better way to spend the day with my loves than in the gorgeous New York Botanical Garden? The gardens are way up in the Bronx, so makes it a good day trip for us. They are extremely relaxed at the gardens, happy for visitors to lounge anywhere and really enjoy the gardens (in contrast to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where they won’t let you sit on the lawn!), so we always pack a blanket and picnic food so we can hopefully spread out under a tree at some stage and enjoy the serenity.
The gardens are so easy to get to by train. The B, D or 4 are all nearby, and it’s a short walk from the station to the garden. The gardens are MASSIVE. There is a tram to get around, but we always walk and haven’t found it too large for strolling between each area. Mother’s Day weekend is the perfect time to visit the garden – the tulips and daffodils were just past peak bloom, but the cherry blossom trees and azaleas were in full bloom and absolutely stunning.
The gardens put on a special Mother’s Day garden party, with a live jazz band, old school lawn games like croquet, kites, and arts for the kids like making cards, baskets for (pretend) bird eggs, and water colour paintings. We grabbed lunch from a food truck (grilled cheese!) and set up under a perfectly flowering cherry blossom tree. Cheese quickly found toddlers nearby to play with, and merrily entertained herself with a little boy the same age collecting and building a house out of sticks.
We stopped to listen to the band – Cheese wanted to dance, and so we did! Nothing like dancing to a real vintage jazz band among the gorgeous trees and flowers.
A stroll around the gardens after lunch for the Cheese to nap brought us to the exact same spot we paused for a picnic two years ago when we first visited the garden. After the little lady woke up and saw our picnic spread, she proclaimed it “the best picnic ever!” (from Peppa Pig perhaps?). It was the perfect Mother’s Day with my dearest loves, in one of my absolute favourite places in the city I also love.
The only thing that could have made the way better was to be celebrating my own mother in person as well. I miss spending time with my parents, particularly on special days like today. Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mum, and all the wonderful mums in my life and in yours!
It’s always a lovely surprise to receive books in the mail. I love reading to E and hope she will end up loving literature as much as I do. The particular book we are checking out today is Mother, What is the Moon? by David Griswold, and illustrated by Eliza Reisfeld. The book is perfect for preschoolers, so if you have a kid aged 2 – 5, read on.
Mother, What is the Moon? is full of gentle poetry and beautiful art, presented in an engaging way for little ones. The book tells the story of a young boy, asking his mother what the moon is. Her answer is both wise and whimsical. The moon is a nighttime adventure through snow, fields and streams. It’s connected to the cycle of life and nature, and is a thing of dreams, magic and science, all rolled together.
My 2.5 year old is currently obsessed with the moon. Every night, it’s the same. “Where is the moon?” “I can’t see it!” “It’s hiding!” This sweet book gives me a story to tell my toddler that answers the question “what is the moon?” when the moon, like us, is always changing.
Mother, What is the Moon? has become a new nighttime favourite in our home, among both the adults and our toddler. If you’re going to read a book a hundred times a week, make sure it’s one you’re all going to enjoy!
Mother, What is the Moon? is currently raising funds for its publishing run on Kickstarter. Back it to receive a first edition copy.
Brunch With My Baby was not compensated for this post. We just love awesome kids’ books.
At around two, little girls discover baby dolls. Their new friends and loves, they let their imaginations run free with games caring for their new “babies.”
So it’s not surprising that these little girls adore carrying around their baby dolls in their Ergo Doll Carriers. These carriers are perfect for little kids to tote their beloved dolls around town, and make a great gift in particular for a new big sister or brother, so they can be just like Mommy and Daddy.
The Doll Carrier can be worn in the front or back position, just like the classic Ergo.
100% Cotton Canvas body construction
Padded shoulder straps
Padded waist strap
May be worn in front and back positions
National Molding buckles
Machine wash and dry, gentle cycles
The Ergo Doll Carrier is available on the Ergo website for $25.