Adventure, baby!


Halloween in New York 2013

This year was the first year that Cheese was old enough to kind of “get” Halloween. She didn’t understand dressing up as someone or something, so I was still able to choose her outfit (yay!). A friend knew that Cheese was into Mickey and Minnie Mouse and passed on a Minnie Mouse dress that they didn’t need for their toddler.

It fit Cheese PERFECTLY. I definitely wouldn’t have thought of it as a costume idea myself (I’m more into a bit of a DIY/thrown-together-kinda-thing), so it was great for Cheese to try something really new. She’s not a “girlie” girl and happiest when unencumbered to run and climb, so it was so my great surprise that she LOVED the frilly Minnie Mouse dress.

She wore it for three days straight (with me washing it in between because she got it filthy every time she wore it), and every time she put the dress on she turned into a different kid. One who twirled and fluffed out her taffeta skirt. It. was. adorable. And, she’s been asking to wear dresses ever since.

It’s always tough to decide what to do for Halloween in Brooklyn as there are so many options. I decided on the DUMBO Under The Archway event because it looked to be a bit less crazy than some of the other options considering I was taking a little toddler. We stroller on down to DUMBO, stopping to collect candy from the stores on the way (kinda of a lazy-ass version of trick-or-treating …) and ended up under the Archway to join the festivities.

My personal fave was the Boothify photo booth. Cheese enjoyed running through it, photobombing everyone else. They also had music playing and a little fake Brooklyn bridge set up that the toddlers enjoyed dancing and running all over, and a free art station with Creatively Wild. We ran into some friends and Alec came home early to join us, making it a super fun afternoon for the toddlers AND for us.

Cheese had the best afternoon possibly of her life, without even eating any candy (oh, alright, she did get in a few licks of a lollypop). Can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Kiwi Crate Holiday Boxes + Giveaway

While this year isn’t the first holiday season for the toddlers, it is the first year that they are starting to understand what’s going on. This makes me super excited, because I LOVE holidays. I really love getting arty and crafty with Cheese, so trying out the holiday Kiwi Crate holiday boxes were the perfect way to get her involved in preparing for the biggest holiday in our year, Christmas. For our friends celebrating Hannukah, we asked our friends with a crafty toddler to test drive Kiwi Crate’s Handmade Hannukah.

Kiwi Crate boxes are so great for parents like us – people who like the IDEA of being crafty, but whose craft boxes contain little more than crayons, markers and stickers. If we want to make something special, we don’t have any of the right bits and pieces, and, to be honest, I would have no idea where to get things like a few pom poms and ribbon bits that each project requires. Kiwi Crates contain everything you need for the entire project – including things like glue and paint brushes. I LOVE the assumption that we have nothing to being with because, to be honest, we don’t! We have a TINY apartment and have no room for keeping bits and pieces of things in case we need them for crafting in the future.

All Kiwi Crate boxes are also generously stocked with supplies. More than you’ll need for each project, so you have spare materials to customise projects to your child’s preferences, plus have left over materials to make something else with next time.

The Kiwi Crate model is based on subscriptions, where you sign up for a new craft box to be delivered to you every month. They also offer single crates ($19.95 each), each one filled with enough materials for 2 – 3 projects, holiday crates and stocking stuffers.

Kiwi Crate Box One: Crafty Christmas Box, by Christine Knight


The box I was testing out was the Crafty Christmas box ($19.95). It includes materials to make three Swirly Ornaments (for hanging on the Christmas tree), a Gingerbread House and Paper Candies to decorate the house. The kit comes with a user guide for parents or older children, with very detailed instructions.

Gingerbread House

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

The Gingerbread House instructions had multiple options for house decorating ideas. Now, remember Cheese is only TWO. I had to give her a hand with a lot of the projects, like assembling the house and gingerbread man pieces. It was still a lot of fun for her, even though she couldn’t complete the projects on her own.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

She was very interested in certain tasks, like sticking stickers on the roof of the gingerbread house, and especially pouring the paint into the ornaments. She wasn’t interested in anything that took too long, so I had to assemble everything in advance so it was ready for her to add her part or she’d wander off to play with something else. It was a really fun way for us to spend time together, and for me to explain to her what everything was and what it meant.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

It was also great to let Cheese experiment with different materials that she wouldn’t usually play around with. She loved pasting the pom pom balls to the Gingerbread House and placing the sticker tiles on the roof.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

Swirly Ornaments

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

The ornament kit was much easier to do with a two-year-old. I prepped the area and pieces and gave the ornament bases to Cheese to squeeze paint into. She really loved that she could squirt the squeezing the paint into the ornaments by herself, and enjoyed turning them to see the colors swirl together. This project was a bit messier (paint!), but also a lot easier for a smaller toddler to work on as there were a lot less steps involved.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

After the paint squeezing and swirling, the project was pretty much finished. The ornaments were left to drain excess paint and then dry over night, and Mommy was needed to cork and tie them up, ready for hanging.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

Both Cheese and I really enjoyed the craft projects. I’m not a super creative person when it comes to thinking up craft ideas, so I loved being given the framework and materials, and the freedom to decorate however Cheese saw fit. We will absolutely be ordering more of these boxes as Cheese gets older and can tell us what crafts she wants to do.

#Kiwi Crate #Christmas Box - via

Kiwi Crate Box Two: Handmade Hannukah, by Dayna Brandoff of

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via

My daughter Tess (2 and 1/2 years old) and I made the menorah from the Handmade Hannukah box ($19.95) this morning. The box comes with candle holders (that look like slanted cups), tissue paper, paint and glue, plus a dreidel.

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via

The project got off to a great start. I showed her how to do one of the cups — thin layer of glue, then tissue paper, then more glue. She did every step pretty much on her own for the next cup. The next three cups, however, she really only wanted to be the glue painter — which was fine — that was two out of the three steps (although I definitely helped with the second round of glue-painting to make sure the tissue paper would really stick). I will say that the project was not able to hold her attention for nine cups worth of time, so decorating the last four was mainly Mommy’s job. We both had a ton of fun peeling the dried glitter glue off our hands afterward. And Tess was definitely proud of the finished product — and loves the special little battery operated candles. But convincing her to save the batteries until Chanukah? That’s sure to be a challenge.

#Kiwi Crate #Holiday Boxes + #Giveaway, via

I also really liked that there’s plenty of tissue paper and mod podge left over to do a similar project on recycled jar . . . .I think we will probably make “vases” for the grandmothers for the holidays using the same technique!


The generous folks at Kiwi Crate have offered Brunch With My Baby readers the opportunity to win a crate of their choosing. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition is open Wed November 6, 2013 EST to 11:59pm Tues Nov 12, 2013, EST.

Entry open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brunch With My Baby were sent product samples for reviewing purposes. All opinions are our own.


I’m Not The Fun Parent

I’m pretty fun, right? I mean, I like to have fun, and do fun things. And I’m funny! Well, in my own head, anyway.

Before having my toddler, I imagined how much FUN we would have together. I pictured it as a second childhood – playing with dolls, stickers, drawing, art projects, dance parties in the living room.

What’s become apparent of late is that I am not, in fact, a fun playmate for a toddler. I’m not silly, or goofy, and don’t think of playing monster games like mu husband does. My husband, it turns out, is the fun parent. He’s goofy and silly, he plays catch and chase, and roars like a bear, sending Cheese into fits of giggles. He is, in fact, not dissimilar to a toddler.

I’ve learned that I like to watch my child in play. I love seeing her eyes light up, her cheeky smile, her little head that is always a split second behind the rest of her body as she gallops along like a pony.

I enjoy watching her long eyelashes darken, her limbs lengthen, her hair grow into tight corkscrew curls.

I’m the parent who observes, documents, photographs. The one who makes sure she’s at school on time. That she has her hair tied out of her eyes, and is wearing weather-appropriate clothes. I’m the one who plans her meals, who gets her feet measured and takes her to the dentist. But I’m not the fun one.

I’m also the one who notices scrapes and bruises, who has Hello Kitty bandaids at the ready, who comforts and soothes and knows how to bring down a fever. I’m the one who finds new books that will teach about sharing and table manners, who finds puzzles at the right level to challenge her at each age, who can’t resist splurging on the cutest pair of tights for a hipster Brooklyn toddler. I’m the parent behind the scenes, but equal in the amount I love my child.

I cede any hopes of being “fun” to my husband for the time being. I hope that as she grows into a little girl with interests of her own that I can share in her world and enjoy the things she enjoys. I hope she’ll find me, if not “fun”, then loving, understanding and interesting. I hope I can teach her about the world, introduce her to new and amazing things, like how to take a great photograph, and help her navigate life as she grows and grows and grows.

Taste Buds Kitchen Cupcake Kids Class

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

Cheese is really into “helping” me in the kitchen these days. She likes to “help” spread Vegemite on toast, “cut” vegetables and “crack” eggs in a bowl. She’s been so interested in food preparation lately that I thought I would give a Cupcake Kids class at Taste Buds Kitchen a go.

The class theme for this week was Pinkalicious (the theme changes every week), based on the bestselling kid’s book series of the same name. A cute table is set up for 10 kids and their parents, ages two to six, with all the ingredients laid out, ready for mixing. Cheese was the youngest kid in the class that day by a fair amount (she turned two in August). The kids were on average, ages four to six.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

The above photo pretty much encapsulates how the class went. Cheese was thoroughly enjoying trying all the ingredients. She followed the simple directions, like which ingredient to put in the bowl, but mixing was a bit hard for her to really get right (time to step in, Mama!).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

I’ve always loved baking, since I was a kid too, actually. I’ve been wondering how to introduce baking to Cheese, so this class was not just fun for her, it was also educational for me to see how I can teach my toddler how to bake. I have to admit, I thought the class was just cupcake decorating. If I’d known it was baking from scratch I might not have been so game to bring her, as it’s definitely not something I would have thought she’d be into and for which she would be able to sit through a class.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

After mixing through the ingredients, it was time to spoon the mixture into cupcake pans and have them placed in the oven to cook. Notice how they’re all pink?

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

While the cupcakes were baking, Chef Maggie read Pinkalicious (which I’d never read before, so it was fun for me too, ha!), while the kids listened and colored in a special Pinkalicious-themed coloring sheet.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

Cheese was really into the book. A few months ago, this would have been a disaster (Read: toddler running ALL OVER THE ROOM) but since she started preschool last month, her concentration has definitely improved. She was up and down a few times to wash her hands again and get some food to eat, but over all she was really into the activity.

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

After the story came the frosting. The cupcakes hadn’t quite finished baking, so we frosted some previously prepared cupcakes while the others were still baking. After a quick lesson in the right way to frost, it was over to the kids, or in my case toddler, to let them do their stickiest. Cheese was in heaven. Didn’t want me to help (of course), so her cupcake looked kind of . . .  like a toddler decorated it 🙂 She really enjoyed picking up hearts and pink sugar and sprinkling them on top (and tasting a few).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

We were given a sweet little container to place one of our decorated cupcakes in to take home, while we enjoyed eating the other cupcake right then and there (of course).

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

Taste Buds Kitchen: #Cupcake Making Class For #Kids via

Cheese really enjoyed the class (she was going on about the “cake cakes” all the way home), and it was a fun activity for us to do together. I think she was a little young for the class, but not by much. I would definitely take her again when she’s a little older — probably in winter when I’m desperate for ways to entertain us both. As with a lot of things that I get stressed over (for nothing), Cheese proved me wrong in her ability to handle her first baking experience. Even though her attention span did wane at times, the class was a success for the both of us.

Taste Buds Kitchen
109 W 27th St
Cupcake Kids is held every Saturday morning at 9am. Classes cost $45 per child.

Brunch With My Baby attended as a guest of Taste Buds Kitchen. All opinions are our own. We happen to love, love, love cupcakes.

STOKKE Scoot Review and GIVEAWAY

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

I’ve been known to own a few strollers (four — not all at once — to be exact). But the hunt for the perfect stroller is eternal, especially as one’s needs change with the different ages and stages of a child’s (and your) life. When I bought my main stroller, before Cheese was born, I really didn’t consider my living situation well. Third-floor walk-up, with nowhere at the bottom of the stairs to store a stroller. I bought a stroller that was super heavy  (too heave for me to carry down stairs) and that needed the bassinet or seat removed before the bottom part was folded. Really, this stroller was suited to someone living in an elevator building, and so I didn’t actually use the stroller much after a few aborted attempts where I kicked my shin on the bottom bar, until we finally did move into an elevator building a year later.

We are huge fans of STOKKE in our home, with Cheese’s nursery filled with the Sleepi bed and Care: Change Table, and the Tripp Trapp highchair in the living room. STOKKE is known for their innovative designs and well-made pieces, so I was excited to check out the STOKKE Scoot. It has all the features that make is suitable for urban parents like myself. Check out my husband’s and my road test of the STOKKE Scoot around our home ‘hood in Brooklyn.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

#Stokke #scoot review and #giveaway burunchwithmybaby.comThe Fold
The STOKKE Scoot comes all in one piece, so you don’t need to remove anything to fold it (except anything you may have stored in the basket underneath). It’s a bit tricky to master at first, as you have to follow a few steps before you can fold it: first, retract the handlebar. Then, fold it by doing the following: lift the bottom portion of the seat, push the seat backwards, then push the button on the wheel axle and pull it up to collapse the stroller into one slim piece. I know it sounds complicated (then again, try to express in words how to fold any stroller on the market these days and you’ll have a similar list), but once you get the hang of it, it’s fast and easy. Remove the cup holder from the handlebar and it balances on its side for easy storage in a small NYC apartment like mine.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Collapses In One Piece
One of the biggest things that I love about this stroller is that it collapses into a sleek and thin silhouette — in just one piece. Living in NYC, this is an essential for making life easier for parents. It means being able to call a car to get home if you find yourself in torrential rain (been there!!) and easily throw the whole stroller in the back without having to first remove the seat of the stroller and then having to fold the body of the stroller. It also means you can go out to any restaurant without needing to check if you need to bring an umbrella stroller or carrier instead of the SUV-stroller, because when folded up, the Stokke takes up little real estate. Since we love to eat out, this feature alone was like hitting the holy stroller grail.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Storage Space
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can never have enough storage space in your stroller basket (or anywhere, for that matter). There is a huge basket underneath the STOKKE Scoot, with plenty of room for groceries, or a huge diaper bag and sand pit toys. The stroller sits quite high, so there is a lot of vertical space as well, and it’s all easily accessible from every side. The only improvement I’d like is for the back of the basket to sit a bit higher so it keeps items in even better. When you tilt the stroller to go over things like steps or curbs, items can fall out if not well-secured.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

It’s a hefty stroller, weighing in at 26 pounds. It can accommodate kids from birth (with the STOKKE Scoot Softbag) to 50 pounds — making it a great long-term investment. It’s also a very sturdy, well-made stroller, but doesn’t feel heavy to push. It’s also tall rather than wide, giving it less of a footprint (which is valuable when you need to take it on the subway or park it in a small corridor or apartment).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Ride 
The Scoot features four-wheel suspension, so it’s a smooth ride for Baby, even over Brooklyn cobblestones. The handlebar is adjustable, which is great for changing the height when my husband (who is 6′) takes over the driving from me (I’m 5’7). It’s comfortable to push around for a long period of time, and is easy to steer, even with one hand (not that I’m texting while driving, or anything).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Scoot features a full recline, that you engage by unclipping a clip on each side of the back of the canopy. It features four recline-to-upright positions: facing you, upright or reclined, and facing away from you, upright or reclined. There is only reclining position — all the way back. It would also be great if there was one button or clip you could use to recline the stroller so it could be done smoothly with one hand, but I didn’t find it as awkward as I expected it to be when I used it, and Cheese had a really good nap in her little cocoon.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

It has a decent canopy, with a cute little visor that flips out (and zips off if needed), which, when tilted downwards, provides that extra bit of sun protection for your kid’s legs. There is a zippered section in the canopy that, when open, lets air circulate better on a hot day, and lets you take a peek at what your kid is doing in there (or, in my case, making sure important apps aren’t being deleted off my iPhone).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Adjustable Footrest
I love that I can adjust the footrest to my toddler’s feet so they’re not dangling down. And SHE loves that she can climb up and into it all by herself. What a fun, new game!

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Scoot comes with a rain cover, mosquito net and cup holder. You can order car seat adaptors ($79.95) for Maxi Cosi and Peg Perego car seats. There is no bassinet with this stroller – but, to be honest, since I never used the bassinet for my toddler when she was a baby, I wouldn’t let this deter me from buying. You could absolutely use it from newborn age by clipping in the car seat for the first few months.

The STOKKE Scoot retails for $599.99 and comes in a range of colors (brown, red, dark navy, purple, beige and black melange).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!


The very kind people at STOKKE are giving Brunch With My Baby readers the chance to win one STOKKE Scoot in the color of her choice. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

The competition opens Wed, Oct 2 to 11:59pm Tue Oct 8, 2013.

Entry open US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent a product sample to aid us with this review. All opinions are our own.

Eloise Starts School

Starting school - photography tradition


Today was my little Cheese’s first day of “school”. And by school, I mean her 2s programs, which are nursery schools (she’s doing two programs – each one two days a week for a few hours at a time).

I wasn’t sure how she’d go at her first class today – I was pretty confident she would be fine, but you never know till it’s time to let go. The first of her two programs is where she has attended other classes with me since she was six months old, so she knew the space and teachers already.

At the gate, she was a bit confused as to what was happening, with so many adults and kids all stampeding in – I put her down, pointed out the teachers she knew, and off she went, without looking back. My big girl.

I was able to spy on her during one period of the session (we were asked to stay onsite for their first session), and it was a joy to see Cheese running and playing and interacting with the teachers and kids, happy and at ease. At the end of class she came running to me with her artwork, telling me about her day (“Moooo” – there was a cow puppet –  and “YYYYY” – the letter she learned).

Even though her 2s programs aren’t “real” school, it feels like a big step we’ve taken today – from here on in, little Cheese is going to be in school. I feel so proud of her for how outgoing she was today. Myself, I am feeling super emotional about this big first step my little girl has taken towards developing her own, beautiful life.

Brunch Survival Guide: Rockaway Beach Day Trip

Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Being from the land of beaches, I’ve found myself desperately missing white sand and blue waves – yet I feel trapped at home because of the timing of Cheese’s naps. Today, however, we decided to throw caution (and naps!) to the wind and catch the A train to Rockaway for a day at the beach.

Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Getting there by train was a lot easier than I’d expected. We caught the A to Broad Channel, then switched to the S (Shuttle) to 90th St. The whole trip took 50 minutes from our apartment in Brooklyn. After getting off the train, it was a 10 minute walk to the beach.

The Rockaways were hit extremely hard during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. You can still see the extensive damage as you walk to the beach – the houses with ground floor construction still being done, the buildings missing shingles on their walls, parts of the boardwalk still being rebuilt. The beach has undergone a massive reconstruction since the hurricane and it is pretty amazing that the beaches were able to reopen again this summer.  The boardwalk is still in the process of being re-constructed, and sections of the beach are closed off, but don’t let that stop you. There are still 14 miles of white beach for you and your kids to enjoy.

The beach in Rockaway is particularly kid-friendly. The water is calm and shallow at the shoreline, and several newly-reopened playgrounds line the boardwalk.

Rockaway Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via
Rockaway Taco
First stop is breakfast, after surviving the train trip intact. Everyone we asked recommended Rockaway Tacos, a tiny little taco stand tucked away on 96th street. Breakfast is served 9am-10:45am, then the regular menu from 11am onwards. You won’t be the only taco-seeker, so be prepared for a long wait. Their side garden features benches to sit on in the shade, and cool murals to point out to the older kids. Grab a coffee or smoothie from the coffee and juice stand, Veggie Island, next door, then come back for your tacos. Tacos start from $3.50 each. Go for the fried fish taco – it’s a lightly fried piece of white fish, topped with cabbage and crema in true Mexican style. They also do a nice Elote (corn on the cob smothered in mayo and spices, $3.50).

Rockaways Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaways Taco: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaway Taco
95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard

Rockaway Beach, NY
Phone: (347) 213-7466)
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-8pm, Thur-Sun 9am-8pm

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Veggie Island
Next door to the famous tacos sits the aforementioned Veggie Island – home of great coffee, smoothies and snacks like the peach muffin ($3) I sampled. You can also grab some brightly-colored fresh fruit and veggies. I also picked up a Strawberry and Banana Smoothie ($6). It was more like a slushie than a smoothie (blended with ice rather than yoghurt or milk), which was great for the hot day.

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Veggie Island: kid-friendly cafes, Rockaways Day Trip Guide, via

Indoor seating is limited to bar stools, so take your smoothie and coffee to go.

Veggie Island
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd (on 95th St.)
Far Rockaway, NY 11693
Phone:(347) 277-2268
Prices: $$

Rippers: Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rippers is currently the only concession stand open on the boardwalk. You’ll find breakfast burritos, hamburgers and fries – good, solid beach food. They also have a large, shaded seating area and phone charging station, and are located next to the brand new bathrooms installed on the boardwalk.

Ripper': Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Rockaway Boardwalk
Beach 86th Street
Far Rockaway, NY 11693

Roberta's concession stand, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

Walking along the street to get Cheese to nap in the stroller, I spotted this sign (above), which made my heart jump. Yes, it was the pizzeria I never venture to because I hate, hate waiting.

Roberta's concession stand, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

The Roberta’s pop-up stand features a wood-fire oven on wheels (genius!), delivering some seriously tasty pies. Each pizza is a single serve, with a basic Margarita costing $6. The pizza took over half an hour to arrive (at least that was better than waiting in line for a seat at a restaurant), but it was absolutely worth it (and better than waiting for over an hour on a line alone). Crispy base, with a soft crusty edge, the perfect savoury tomato sauce and daubs of mozzarella cheese on top. O.M.G. My only regret was not ordering two as Cheese ate a big chunk of mine.

Roberta's pizza, Rockaways Day Trip Guide via

There are a few tables and benches near Roberta’s, but no shade. One option is to take it to the nearby toddler playground to eat on a bench there while your kids run in the sprinklers.

Beach 69th Street
Rockaway Beach, NY 11693
Prices $$
Hours: Fri 12:30pm-6:30pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-6:30pm

What you need to know before you go

  • Swimming is permitted only when life guards are on duty, which is from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, daily from 10-6 p.m.
  • Avoid areas with red flags or “beach closed” signs. Temporary “islands” have been built at sections where the boardwalk is still damaged.
  • If you need chairs & umbrellas, there are stores at 116 Beach Street (near the subway) that sell them relatively inexpensively (there are no places to rent them).
  • LABOR DAY UPDATE: The stretch from Beach 110th Street to Beach 130th Street, and Beach 88th Street to Beach 93rd Street, will be closed over the long weekend for dredging.

Getting there

  • Take the A train to Far Rockaway, change at Broad Channel to the S train to 90th st. Travel time from Manhattan is about an hour and 15 minutes.
  • Rockabus has weekend buses from Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.
  • A weekend ferry runs between Pier 11 on Wall Street and Jacob Riis Park.

Eloise’s 2nd Birthday Party

Since Missy Eloise is such a lover of climbing and running, we decided to throw an easy party at a playground close to us. For the theme I decided on a pink and green safari, since she loves jungle animals so much. Photos by the awesomely talented Kristy May Photography.

Eloise had such a blast at her party! All her friends came and jumped around in the sprinklers, then stuffed their faces with cupcakes by Georgetown.

Invitations, sign, banners and thank you cards all from Eclectic Note Cards.

Fondant safari animals from the Cupcake Stylist.

Balloons, gift bags, plates, cutlery, table cloth from Party City.

Happy birthday darling girl! We’re so glad you enjoyed your second birthday. We love you, crazy little lady!

In Which The Very Tricksy Cheese Turns 2

Today was Missy Eloise’s second birthday. We started the day reminiscing about the day she was born – what we were doing that morning, how labour had started the night before. It then dawned on me that I’ve completely forgotten the majority of that day. I have highlights that burst into my brain when I think back (not appropriate for this blog post however), but when I think back on the day really hard, I can’t remember much about the c-section, after the operation, and the following 5 days when I was in hospital. In my head, it seems like it was only a day. Where did those memories go? Is it PTSD?

Me: “Alec, I only remember that I vomited on the anaesthetist during the cesarean.”

Alec: “It’s probably good that you don’t remember the arc of blood that spurted over the screen and hit you in the face.”


I digress.

Alec and I often joke that Eloise knows it’s a special day and does her best to … I wouldn’t say ruin it, but she certainly doesn’t make it easy to relax and celebrate anything. For her own birthday, she didn’t nap. Instead she stood in her crib shrieking like a banshee for about two hours. While I was desperately trying to prepare for her party that afternoon, Alec took her out in the stroller to try for a stroller nap. After half an hour of wailing, he was blessed with a half hour nap. Not exactly a win.

So with a pretty manic and irritable toddler, we kicked off the party celebrations with Eloise’s dearest little friends. Her buddies, thankfully, were all in fabulous moods. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by our loving friends – both big and small. Eloise’s mood was turned around by all her little friends too – she definitely enjoyed her party and playing with her friends. I loved watching her agilely climb play equipment and throw herself down slides, and then splash in the sprinklers with all her buddies. The sweetest moment was seeing most of the kids all jumping in the puddles together, dancing and running and laughing. Pure toddler bliss. Beautiful.

Age age two, Eloise is showing a lot of signs of the person she is growing into. Physically she is so fast and agile, it’s astounding. Considering her gene pool of sprinters and sportsmen, it’s not very surprising. We will be putting her in some sporting environments over winter, like soccer, to see if she enjoys it.

She’s also really smart. Her problem solving skills have suddenly exploded. She can count items up to four, sings songs (she loves “Wheels on the Bus” and “1,2,3,4”), loves puzzles and books.

Verbally, Eloise is pretty entertaining. While her vocabulary is huge (I’d say she knows over a hundred words, minimum), she only says the first syllable of most words. Sometimes we need a translator. She can name a huge amount of objects and animals, including the sound they make. She really enjoys doing things like standing inside the fridge doors and naming everything in the fridge, pointing to the things she doesn’t know the name of. She often asks what something is, or where someone or something is.

What I’ve enjoyed the most during this past year is the development of Eloise’s personality. She’s fun and funny, and just enjoys life so much. She loves exploring everything in her world, from pebbles to flowers and the rain. She gives us spontaneous hugs and kisses when she’s happy, and oh, don’t we know it, when she’s not (NO SHOOESSSSSS!)! She loves “cooking” in her kitchen (“chop chop!), “pat pat”-ing dogs (and naming their body parts – watch out for the eyes!), and kicking a soccer ball. She adores her friends, even if she doesn’t quite understand how to play with them yet, and she’s showing empathy – wanting to know why someone is “sad” (read: baby crying hysterically).

Our little lady is a non-stop ball of energy. Go, go, go from she wakes till she crashes asleep. So many things to explore and learn about. So many dogs to pat, pictures to draw, ladders to climb. Her enthusiasm is amazing (and exhausting to follow!).

Happy second birthday to our darling girl. We love you, we love you, we love you, you crazy, impossible, adorable kid.


Children's Museum of Manhattan + Cafe Lalo: Kid-Friendly Activities, UWS, NY

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via

On a stupidly hot day, we were dying for an indoor space with super strong air-conditioning, where Cheese could also run around. We caught the A/C train straight up to 81st street to check out the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via

The CMOM is a five-story paradise for kids. Each floor contains either permanent or special exhibits, which are highly interactive, and suitable for children of all ages— from birth on up. Cheese, at 22 months, particularly loved the “PlayWorks” exhibit, featuring a fire truck, MTA bus and a giant talking dragon who “eats” letters.

Children's Museum of Manhattan - via
Riding atop the letter-eating dragon.

Other exhibits of note included an outdoor water play area in summer, a mural wall for kids to play on, a sand pit, a soft play area for babies and a Dora The Explorer rainforest world (with a jungle canopy and play exotic animal exhibits for kids to discover).

We went on the 4th of July holiday and it was not overly busy, which you’d expect on a public holiday (maybe everyone was out barbecuing?).  You’ll need to check your stroller at the entrance, so bring a carrier for kids who aren’t strong walkers. Also, there are  easy-to-access bathrooms with change tables available.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via

After working up an appetite we ducked into Cafe Lalo across the street (which is worth a visit on its own any day!) for a snack.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via
“Lalo’s Special”: frozen yogurt with fresh berries and an apple turnover.

Since it was so hot, we each ordered the “Lalo’s Special” ($11.50). It’s a bowl of frozen yogurt with your choice of berries, fruit or nuts, and a fresh-baked breakfast pastry of your choice. We both ordered ours with the berries and went with an apple danish and cranberry scone since they were only two remaining pastries. As always, the yogurt was perfect, with the fresh mixed berries giving sweet zings of flavour to the tart yogurt. While the pastries weren’t our first choices (I’d usually go for a pain au chocolat, and Alec a plain crossant), they were delicious. The apple danish was flaky with big chunks of apple, and the cranberry scone was densely packed with sweet bursts of cranberry.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via

We let Cheese share our dishes—she loved the yogurt and berries most of all.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via

Cafe Lalo is actually known for two things—desserts (they have over 100 whole cakes, pies and tarts available), and for a famous scene in the movie “You’ve Got Mail“, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. As such, it’s always packed, either with lovers of sweets like myself, or busloads of tourists—who showed up at just the same time we did that day. The tourists mostly stayed in the front of the cafe to order a dessert to go, so it wasn’t as obtrusive as you’d expect.

Cafe Lalo - kid-friendly cafes, NY, via
Parisian interior.

The interior—with its walls covered in Toulouse Lautrec-esque prints—is charmingly Parisian. If you block out the decidedly non-European voices around you, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a cafe in Paris.

Taking children to Cafe Lalo is a mixed bag. They’re not especially set up for kids, so come prepared for your visit —you’ll need to leave the stroller outside, and be sure to speak up and ask for anything you need for your child.

Last bite: Drop by for a snack or dessert for a touch of Paris on the UWS. Kids are welcome—order them a pastry or share a “Lalo’s Special” for a fun afternoon (or morning) treat.

Stroller storage: You can’t bring your stroller inside, but they’ll store it for you somewhere mysterious under the restaurant.
Easy access: No. Quite a few steps.
Change tables: No. The bathrooms are pretty small.
Kids’ menu: No, but there’s so much to choose from, from bagels and muffins to steamed eggs or homemade waffles.

Cafe Lalo
201 West 83rd St. (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 496-6031
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Thur 8am-2am; Fri 8am-4am; Sat 9am-4am Sun 9am-2am. Holidays until 4am.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St (between Amsterdam Ave. & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 721-1234
Hours: Sun-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-7pm. Closed Mondays.