Strawberry Festival

Growing up, my gymnastics team marched in the Strawberry Festival parade every June, in which we did sweet tricks in our red body suits and white shorts that our moms bought at Jamesway and tried to make sure we didn’t land in horse crap. This, and sunburns and burning my hands on hot tumbling mats, are my childhood memories of the Strawberry Festival.

This year was Henry’s first Strawberry Festival. He did not wear a red body suit or white shorts. 

We ate strawberries:

  

And watched the parade:

  
There were fire trucks and white people and fried food.

  
And the big kids helped the little kids get the candy out of the street before they got run over by a fire truck or a white person eating fried food. 

  
Then we dropped Henry off at the church tent and went and tasted lots of wine in another tent. 

  
(He was with his Gangy, and it was a Methodist church, so, totally fine.)

Then we stopped at my aunt’s house to use the bathroom, but she was not home, so Tim and I may have peed in her backyard. Successful day all around. 

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24 hours in Fire Island

This is another backdated post. You’ll be OK.

This past weekend we ventured out to Fire Island Pines and stayed with some friends who have a summer house there. After Henry’s friend Penny’s birthday party in Queens, we took a bus to a subway to a Long Island Railroad train to a ferry

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to a waiting, tipsy Omar on the Fire Island Pines Marina dock (no pictures of that).

Tranport tally: bus, subway, train, boat. It was like it was HENRY’s birthday. And Mommy and Daddy got to have a beer on the boat because of course the Fire Island Pines Ferry dock has a bar. Fire Island starts at the ferry. With this view:

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Then it was a quick stop at the one grocery store where we were the weirdos not wearing bathing suits and on to the lovely house where our friends very, very graciously let us stay, and let Henry wear their shoes. He loved the shoes.

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Then, it was beach time.

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With all the sand around Henry was not interested in the ocean.

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While the boys went to tea dance, Tim and I watched the sunset on the ocean and drank white wine while Henry tried not to fall asleep on Tim’s lap. Then it was back to the house, where the kiddo slept and Tim and I were regaled with Fire Island Pines stories into the night.

Because two-year-olds get up with the sun and adult friends on the weekend don’t, we were out of the house very early and took a walk. Tim described Fire Island as a mix of camp and the beach. No cars are allowed on Fire Island (thus the ferry) except for an emergency vehicle, so all of the “roads” are wood walkways. There’s really no reason to not wear your bathing suit at all times and shoes at no times.

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Then some beach time, followed by brunch, followed by more beach time. This time, because all the boys were going in the water, Henry wanted to too.

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Then it was back to the ferry, then the train, then the subway, none on which Henry fell asleep. Even though it was only for 24 hours, it felt longer, and the trip, even with a toddler, was relaxing.

Now, here is your reward for making it to the end of the post.

(Video courtesy Omar.)


Good decision: Zoo membership

In July we decided to become zoo members, more specifically a Conservation Supporter Member of the Wildlife Conservation Society. We’d recently received half off our tuition for a week of day care as a twice-a-year vacation option, so we decided becoming zoo members was an outstanding way to spend our “extra money.” Henry and I had taken my sister and father to the Central Park Zoo earlier in the summer, and Henry, after a short time of rightly wondering what the heck was happening to him, caught on that there were new creatures to watch do things. He especially liked the sea lion feeding. And spending time with his Pop Pop and auntie, who knew exactly where the birds were in the bird sanctuary.

Zoo

So we felt the zoo membership would at least be a valid experiment. Now, we can come and go as we please at the Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium (plus some other perks). We’ve already visited the Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, and we will get the others before it snows, or at least before it should snow. We’ve done a Members Evening at the Bronx Zoo and a Morning at the Zoo in Central Park, and this alone made the (partly tax-deductible) expenditure worth it. Let me tell you about it.

Central Park Zoo

On a sunshine-filled summer Sunday morning in the most visited park in one of the most visited cities in the world we enjoyed peace, quiet, peace, quiet and doughnuts and coffee and learning about snow monkeys in a peaceful, quiet zoo. Henry could walk freely around without worrying about a triple-wide stroller running him over or getting edged out by a pushy adult in the penguin house. Ahh. Sundays are the busiest days at the zoo, so finding ourselves alone at the red panda exhibit on a summer Sunday felt like Vanilla Sky, but not as creepy.

Henry listened to the zookeeper and watched the monkeys for a little while,

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then he went to look for the polar bear (who recently passed away – rest in peace, Gus).

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then cawed at the parrots.

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The red panda was like, “Hey guys.”

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And we got front row in the penguin house (where it’s hard for amateur photographers to get photos of penguins).

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And at the puffin house.

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And then we went to Belvedere Castle, which is kind of like a people zoo.

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Bronx Zoo

This was a members evening, meaning the evening started just a little before bedtime. We knew the risks. Blueberries cure everything temporarily, even if the stain lasts forever.

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We only managed a few photos on this outing, because bedtime. After parking the stroller and getting our hands and face sufficiently dirty, we were read to go.

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The monkeys were a little worrisome

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But he loved the tapirs. Yup, tapirs.

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Then we called it a night. We saw all of the Wild Asia exhibit, including no line at the monorail because of our sweet members-only night.

We went to the Bronx Zoo one or two more times and the Central Park Zoo many times over the summer, even if it was just to pop into the Penguin House on the hot days we spent all day in Central Park. The membership has made itself worth it just for that. I’m looking forward to see Henry’s reactions and questions as he gets older, because we will be renewing.


Outing report: The beach

Last Saturday the Measured in Weeks family decided to go to the beach. In New York City we have many beach options accessible by public transportation. We chose Long Beach, about an hour and half total travel time: a subway ride then a Long Island Railroad ride. We saved money by buying an LIRR beach getaway, which included round trip tickets and beach passes as well as discounts at local stores.

New York City also has free ocean-beach options like Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Rockaway, but we were hoping a little bit out of the city would mean quieter beaches.

The beach was quiet.

On Friday afternoon the weather forecast for Saturday was 81 and sunny. By late Friday night it was changed to early morning rain ending at 10 a.m.

“Should we move beach day to next Saturday?” I asked Tim.

“No; let’s go,” he replied. I agreed.

We got to the beach around 11 a.m. The rain had not and was not stopping. Between Penn Station and Long Beach the end-of-rain prediction had been pushed back to noon.

“No big whoop,” I said at the Long Beach station. “We’re renting an umbrella.”

It turns out we weren’t renting an umbrella. I’m not sure if this is a regular Long Beach nonfeature or if it was the weather or remnants of Sandy recovery, but no enterprising beach umbrella rental facility could be found. So we picked a spot, set down our bags, and I, since I was carrying a napping Henry, walked back several blocks to the main road, found a dollar store, bought a beach umbrella, returned to a towel-covered Tim and officially set up camp on the empty beach.

Long Beach has a boardwalk, but no stores on the boardwalk, at least not anywhere near our beach. My umbrella journey took at least 30 minutes. Tim sat unprotected in a cool mist while I cursed Long Beach for not being more touristy. I still have a blister on my toe as well as an umbrella we had to carry home and then store (thus our plan to rent).

But beach day proceeded. Henry spent time in the water,

Beach by water

and played with his “shovels,”

Beach rain sand

but after another hour of chilly rain we were pretty bummed out.

Beach sad

We sat back down under our umbrella and forced a shivering Henry to snuggle, despite his loud desire to be back in the water. Luckily no one was there to judge the parents who brought their crying kid to the beach in the rain and gave him spoons to play with.  (Except the lifeguards, who were taking turns playing paddle ball.)

We had a decision to make: Call it a day, or wait for the sun, which was finally starting a short and annoying game of peek-a-boo. Henry needed a nap. Tim was cold. But I was not ready to go home. I saw the sun. We were going to have a BEACH DAY. So I decided we’d take turns carrying Henry in his carrier while he warmed up and slept. It worked. 

The sun came out!

Beach sun

Tim and I took turns carrying Henry and walking along the water for his nap. He slept. The rain stopped. We got a chance to read words on the electronic devices we brought but had to keep in a plastic bag in another bag. We got to walk on the beach in the warm sun. It was lovely.

Henry put on his sunblock.

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Other people came to the beach and even went in the water.

Beach swimmers

Henry went back in the water.

By water 1

By water 2

By water 3

Then really went in the water.

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Then we took him out of the water to cover his leg in sand.

Beach cry

Then we took his life jacket off and gave him some sand-free food, and all was right again.

Beach chair

We didn’t leave until 5:00.

And we managed to pack everything we needed into a backpack, beach bag and cooler. Tim carried backpack and bag, I carried baby and cooler.

Beach travel

We rinsed off at a boardwalk shower, let Henry walk on the boardwalk and wave goodbye to everyone, and caught the 6:25 train home on which we ate rosemary crackers and blueberries and did not go to sleep.

We will do it again.


Introducing the leash

Since Henry is now for real walking, quickly, wherever he wants, without regard for others’ personal space or his own well-being, we thought, “Hey! I bet Henry will love to run around on a leash while we drink mimosas and eat eggs!” We were wrong.

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That is a monkey on our son’s back.

My mother-in-law bought us this monkey backpack leash mere weeks after we were married. It sat in my sweater drawer for six years. It was worth giving it a try.

Luckily, the perfect cure for leash fatigue is blueberry pancakes. And Lido has blueberry pancakes on the menu. And when you schedule brunch during nap time, this may happen:

brunch nap

Then the patient and attentive staff at Lido will continue to fill your bottomless mimosas. Then you leave a good tip.


Father’s Day: Put on your helmet

In my ongoing effort to not be too adequate a wife and partner, I can’t tell you what we did for Tim’s first Father’s Day. I think it was on a Sunday in June.

So I decided to make this Father’s Day an actual thing. Starting with sticky buns from our favorite local bakery Dunkin Donuts because the bakery with sticky buns didn’t open until hours after our day began. It started with Dunkin Donuts and this:

Father's Day swing

Henry likes to wake up at 5:30 so he can go to the park in his pajamas. But Henry and I did let Tim sleep in until 7:00 since it was such a special day.

Then we visited a local bike shop to rent bikes and helmets and go for a ride in Central Park. Henry was excited.

Father's Day selfie

And ready to go.

bike ride

But it was nap time.

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We managed to make it around the six mile loop just about twice. It was my first time experiencing Central Park as a bike rider. I was a little worried about crosswalk ignorers (but thank you for visiting and spending money in my city) in the south end of the park and the very serious bike riders, but their existence affected me no more as a bike rider than as a runner or walker. I liked riding in the park so much that I’ll likely soon ditch my husband and child and ride all by myself.

Note: I will ride in the park. This does not translate into me becoming a person who rides her bike often on a street that allows cars on it. The one time I rode a bike in New York City I got hit by a van. It was the van’s side mirror, and it tapped me on the shoulder as we both slowed down for a red light on a small street, and it was three years ago, but I got hit by a van. New York is becoming more biker friendly, it seems, which may mean more friendly bikers, but until the bike to car ratio more resembles Amsterdam, I’ll walk or run or ride our cheap and readily available public transit.

After our sweet bike ride we ate some cheese and fruit. And yogurt.

Yogurt

And we decided a Father’s Day tradition had begun.


Henry turns 1

In May Henry became 1 year old. We threw him two parties. With a theme, a theme that may or may not have been a last-minute decision based on guilt that I was using my son’s birthday as an excuse to day drink.

Party 1: Gangy and Pop Pop’s backyard

I took a few pictures … of the table I decorated. I wanted my son to know I loved him enough to decorate a table.

Upstate table

And commit to a theme.

Upstate fruit

We couldn’t feature ALL of the food the Very Hungry Caterpillar eats, because then I would win all of Pinterest.

I did manage to take one photo of my son at his very first birthday party. Probably another idea I stole from Pinterest.

Fly

People brought gifts even though I said not to, mostly because I didn’t want to have to open them in front of everyone, which I did. (Thank you, friends and family, for your very kind disregard.)

Party 2: New York City’s backyard (or, Central Park)

Or, the one where I actually remembered to give my child cake at his birthday (and take pictures of him). Or, the one where we learned that an entire birthday party can be transferred half a mile and up a hill with a jogging stroller and a laundry cart. Or, the one where we learned that one of the best decisions we’ve made so far as parents was to set up the party next to a big tree.

We used the same theme. Henry didn’t care.

Table
Food

And Henry ate way more strawberries than the caterpillar (and everyone else at the party).

But this is what he really did all day:

Push

Benjie

We did convince him to stop pushing the cart around for a few minutes to join in the day drinking.

Bubbly

Then it started raining, a weather event predicted by NO ONE. So we moved the table under the aforementioned tree, where we stayed perfectly dry. Thank you, Central Park.

Party guests

But not before Henry had his cake.

Cake

Followed by a well-documented second piece of cake, as documented by our friend Jay.

Paparazzi

And this happened:

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This kid is the best.