July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Nick and I said “I do!” at NYC’s City Hall 5 years ago today. That’s half a decade of marriage, people!
I feel very fortunate to have found the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with. In the past five years, I have experienced Nick’s generosity and love and his remarkable problem solving skills whenever we encounter a challenge, which happens often now that we are parents! Although we rarely argue, we have perfected the Art of the Argue in a way that always comes to some kind of solution or understanding. While we love being able to travel and do things together, we also both enjoy a good chunk of time spent on the couch, him watching baseball while I read, or just talking. We both have our own interests, as well as shared ones, but respect each other’s hobbies and passions. We can lean on each other when the other needs support, and I think that so far, we are kicking ass at parenthood! ;)
Here’s a look back at our first five years of marriage, if you’d like to see.
I love you more than you’ll ever know, Nick. Here’s to the next five years!
July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’ve been dreaming of a simpler time – last summer when all Henry could do at the playground was swing.
These days, he’s big, mobile, and curious enough to do pretty much everything, though never while unsupervised. I can’t say the same for some of the parents of kids around here though. Every day at any number of the playgrounds we frequent (and we have three within a 10 minute walk) it’s a lesson in sharing, patience, and that some kids are adorable and wonderful and others… less so.
Since private outdoor space is rare around here, everyone heads to the playground. And now that school’s out, all of our spots are swarming with kids. This is great because Henry gets to see so many other kids every day. We’ve been fortunate to meet some kids around his age who are very sweet and pretty much in the same boat as Henry when it comes to sharing and playing together, meaning they’ll come up to Henry who is playing with a toy and want it, then I’ll offer them the spare toy I always bring for this situation and they’ll play alongside each other. But then there’s the unsupervised 3 and 4 year olds who will actually stalk around us until they get a chance to grab Henry’s toy when he’s not looking or it’s slightly out of reach and run away with it. There’s also the older kids who declare a portion of the playground “theirs” and that Henry can’t play with them or go up onto their structure. And then there’s the kids who zoom around the park on their scooters, knocking toddlers over with parents nowhere to be seen and then talking back to the parents of said toddlers.
I however, am always around and will always be in Henry’s corner to make sure he’s safe and happy (no matter how exhausting it all is).
I am curious – is this a common scenario where you live? How do you handle these situations with your kids? Do you let your little guys do their own thing or do you stick close by them too? How do you control your reflexes to grab 6 year olds on scooters when they’re headed straight towards your 20 month old? (I have yelled.) Any opinions welcome!
June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
After a very wintry winter, it’s finally a summery spring and the visitors have been coming in droves! Every day, I see what I assume are parents of Brooklynites being led around Greenpoint and taken out to cute restaurants for brunch.
This past weekend, Nick and I enjoyed an evening with one of our favourite couples/fellow parents, Kate and Bryan. We ate a ton of Indian food and had a few drinks afterwards at Habitat, so that Bryan could watch the hockey game while the ladies caught up.
The next morning, my parents arrived!
Despite having not seen his grandparents since Christmas, Henry jumped right in to giving them hugs, kisses, and playing with them. He’s usually a very cautious boy who takes a minute to warm up to any visitor. Maybe it’s the Pinhole Press family picture book we made for him or maybe he can just tell they’re important people – or maybe he just remembers them! Either way, he knew they were special enough to bypass all the usual courting he requires.
We all went out to lunch at our favourite neighborhood sandwich spot, Eagle Trading Company, then went to the playground so Henry could show Grandma and Grandpa how good he is at playing in the splash pad.
Henry usually NEVER wants to hold hands, by the way.
My Mom is an amazing Grandma – she got Henry to lie still with her on the couch for quite a while by rubbing his back while he held his school bus. It was very sweet.
On Sunday we had lunch at Brooklyn Label before they had to head to the airport. Henry enjoyed both his grandparents’ company and the ceiling fan overhead.
Although Sunday’s storm gave them some serious delays (and cancellations), I’m so glad they came to visit. Next time we see them will be in August, when we will take our first road trip with Henry to drive to their cottage!
May 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
Unplanned photo shoots – aren’t they always the best ones?
I love the photos my DSLR takes with its 50mm lens, but since Henry became mobile, it’s been more challenging to shoot manually. Then the other night after dinner, I found a school bus I’d hidden in my dresser because Henry was trying to eat the wheels off it. Now that he’s a bit older (and less likely to eat a choking hazard), he was completely enchanted with the bus, driving it around the windowsill of his bedroom.
Then… Dad came home!
Nick had his usual after work snack: Henry’s belly.
And then things got sweet.
This horseplay is a wonderful nightly occurrence, but it looks even better on camera :)
May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
My second Mother’s Day was fantastic! (Much better than my first.)
Nick got home from his week-long trip to London on Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day with Henry and I. He also brought me peonies and British chocolate. Anything else that would happen would just be icing on the cake at this point!
Early Saturday afternoon, Nick filled in on bass for two songs with his friend’s band down the street, so I attempted to bring Henry in the Ergo, with his noise blocking baby headphone things. We hung at Saint Vitus for a bit, but unfortunately, his first show was not his dad playing. That’s okay. After Nick was done, we all went to the park as a family.
Today was a jam-packed, but perfect day of yoga, a quick morning visit from our friend Will, then Nick, Henry, and I took the East River Ferry to DUMBO.
Henry hadn’t ridden the boat since early last Fall, way before his new boat obsession, so he had a great time. He even got to stand out back with dad on the way there!
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we saw a POLICE BOAT!!! (Please excuse Hank’s sunscreen-filled, sweaty, Harry from Dumb & Dumber hair ;)
When we got to DUMBO, we took Henry to the cool pirate ship-themed playground to let out some energy. I realized I’d never been to this area of Brooklyn on a summer weekend before — it was so packed with people, mostly families, that it was like the Disney World of NYC! The name DUMBO had never been more appropriate.
After Henry got to watch trucks and the subway drive over the bridges, I got a Jacques Torres ice cream sandwich, and we saw enough people to make us want to hide in our apartment, we caught the ferry for a ride back home.
Thanks to Nick and Henry for a wonderful Mother’s Day. I’m so fortunate to be Henry’s mom and Nick’s wife!
May 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
As of this weekend, our little dude is officially a year and a half!
Since trucks are pretty much Henry’s favourite thing in the world, we celebrated by taking him on a subway ride to Touch A Truck in Prospect Park on Saturday.
There was a fire truck, tow truck, police car, ambulance, garbage truck, school bus, and more of Henry’s favourites. There was also a ton of kids so we only spent about an hour there before heading to a nearby park for a snack, then riding the subway back home (where Henry smiled at ladies during his journey).
Our 18 month old is a very funny, fun, and sweet ball of cuteness. He’s recently started to regularly give Nick and I kisses and hugs. There’s nothing better.
Since Spring arrived in Brooklyn, Henry’s been going on long walks daily using his feet, not his stroller. It has made a huge difference in his sleep and appetite. It’s also a ton of fun to watch him take in the world around him now that he can experience it more closely.
He has this adorable noise he makes when he thinks an animal is cute which he pairs with lifting one shoulder to his ear, as if he’s imagining hugging it. He’s working his way up to petting dogs with friendly owners who stop to say hi on the street and is perplexed by cats who want to hide behind fences rather than play with him.
Henry’s favourite foods at the moment are apples, raspberries, grapes, oranges, Cheerios, chicken nuggets, fish, crackers, and lentil soup from our local Eagle Trading Co., where we have started taking him out to lunch on the weekends. He’s pretty amazing at using forks and spoons. The best way to get him to eat a container of yogurt, apple sauce, or bowl of cereal and milk is to just give him the spoon and let him go for it!
I am still nursing, but just (finally) successfully eliminated one session. He now gets “a cuddle” first thing in the morning, before his nap, and before bed.
Henry has great taste in music. We still listen to The Beatles every morning at breakfast and I’ll turn on songs for him to dance to in the evening. His favourites are off a Wes Anderson soundtrack collection I found on Spotify (including songs from Fantastic Mr. Fox, Darjeeling Limited, and Royal Tennenbaums – he makes me so proud!) and really shakes his booty to the Dirtbombs. Above is a picture of him trying to turn up the volume all the way during lunch.
Henry’s not really talking yet, but is very expressive. He’s started miming and making noises to communicate including going “mmmmmmmm!” when he wants to eat, or grabbing his shoes and hoodie and sometimes even my shoes when he wants to go outside. He shakes his head yes and no. He makes a ton of different noises and has said things like “moo” for a cow, “mom” and “dadad”. No rush, Henry, I’m sure you’ll speak soon enough!
That’s our update for now. See you on Instagram for your daily dose of #dailyhank!
April 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
After four months of rough times – teething, leaping, frustration, whining, and most of all, exhaustion – we’re finally over the very slow, uphill ride and are coming down the other side, smiling.
It’s so important to remember that when dealing with small kids, nothing lasts forever. All things must pass. It’s just that some challenging times last much longer than others. I’m happy to report Henry is sleeping through the night again, sometimes as late as 6:45 am**! Nick has a show tonight, but I am not completely exhausted from watching Henry and planning on a 9pm bedtime, as I was likely to do a month ago. I’m currently enjoying Indian food, wine, and High Fidelity after a lovely warm day where Henry got to run around in a park and we didn’t have to wear winter coats.
Thanks to everyone for their helpful encouragement over the past few weeks and here’s to the winter woes finally ending!
**Parents will understand that this is a decent sleep at this point in our lives.
March 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
There’s no point in sugar-coating it: March has been a challenging month. And some of February. And let’s face it, most of winter. Winter sucks. It’s soul sucking. Add having a restless toddler to the mix of cold, wind, and snow, and you’ve got yourself a less than desirable situation. I’ve been dreaming of those warm days that consisted of 3 stroller walks in 12 hours, and chatting with other parents at the playground while you pushed your smiling son on the swings and sipped an iced latte. Sigh… it’ll be back soon enough, but really can it ever be “soon enough”?
Winter complicates things. It makes toddler teething and bad sleep worse. I don’t do well with sleep deprivation (who does though?) and when it goes on for too long, I end up in a feeling-sorry-for-myself mess. I’m not too proud to admit the past couple weeks have included many feelings of jealousy. I’ve been jealous of those who live close to their families and have grandparents and siblings around to help pick up the pieces when parenting gets tough. I’ve been jealous of my husband who has out of town best friends that he gets to see every couple months. I’ve also been jealous of people who are in the position to have a second child. Even though Nick and I still occasionally doubt that we’ll do it, we both know that in the long run, we want at least two kids, but it seems so complicated when you live in a 2-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, with no car (or license! Oh, me), a husband who has a job that requires travel, and have no family support for miles.
Then I read an interesting article today that totally changed my perspective. While I attribute the feelings above to uncertainty, maybe the envy I feel is actually some sort of drive. In any case, I’m happy to see the light and am consciously making the effort to pull my head out of the cloudiness I sometimes get stuck in when going through a rough patch with Henry. This isn’t forever, but family is and what we are ultimately doing is building a family. Whether we are a family of 3 or 6 (haha – yeah right!), these are little things that will pass in time. Also, how lucky am I to have this amazing kid AND to spend these years in New York City???
And how is YOUR day going?
March 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a few months in between Henry updates, so after taking the first DSLR photos I’ve been able to snap of him since he started walking, I thought this would be a good time for one!
Little Hank here is about 16.5 months old. His baby days are long gone! It’s amazing to see his skills and interests constantly evolving. He’s traded in his former favourite toy – the plastic bottle – for megablocks and little wooden animals.
He has quite a few wooden puzzles of animals, dinosaurs, and various vehicles that he can now put in their proper spots. He can stack and nest cups, play with his megablocks, and use a fork very well!
We now let him watch a little TV each day, because when it’s an ungodly hour in the morning, you need to watch Thomas & Friends and cuddle. He’s also started watching some Baby First TV right before dinner and his waving, clapping, pointing, and other skills have actually improved.
We are currently in an exhausted limbo, waiting for his final fourth teeth, the incisors, to come in. Early mornings and midnight wakings are our current state. The photo above shows his “Muppet face” which lets us know his teeth are really driving him crazy.
Henry may be deep into toddlerhood by asserting his opinions and letting you know when he is NOT happy, but he really is such a joy. After a toddler meltdown, he’ll eventually calm and look you in the eyes and smile (maybe even do a little butt wiggling dance) and all is forgiven :)
February 25, 2015 § 1 Comment
New York is losing a wonderful collection of people to Nashville today – my good friends Kate and Bryan and their “menagerie”.
Kate and I met in person in 2007 during my first visit to New York. We both worked for The Agency Group and I wanted to check out their office while I was in town. We began to see each other at shows, festivals, and bars when I was in town, and once I moved here, she was one of just two friends I had (not counting Nick, of course).
As twenty-somethings, we would plan nights of dining at tacky-but-tasty Indian food restaurants then tour the bars of the East Village for PBR and Jager specials. That morphed into trying to find Manhattan’s hidden speakeasies and sipping fancy cocktails.
We started to become actual “adults”. We saw each other get married – they even asked me to be their wedding photographer!
Then we were fortunate enough to be pregnant together, Kate just a few months ahead of me, and discovered that trading drinks for dessert was the way to go. (One evening at Eataly, we had gelato after dinner and both wondered out loud “What have we been doing? This is much cheaper and more delicious!”)
The past two years have been a mix of family get togethers and one on one visits. The 5pm Sunday dinner at Brooklyn Label with 4 adults and 3 young children became our new favourite tradition.
No matter what the activity (or stage of pregnancy), Kate was always fun. Always positive, rational, kind, outgoing, and welcoming. Kate and Bryan have been parenting role models to Nick and I – we have been lucky to have them 5 months ahead of us in child rearing and love to hear how they handled the sticky situations we currently face.
Rocco and Royce (and Ponch, Gucci, and Gambino) are fortunate to have such great parents, who care so much about them that they wanted to leave this remarkable city to bring them up in a proper house with a yard, two cars, and less pollution. New York will miss them all, but the city understands it presents some serious challenges for families (who aren’t millionaires ;)
Good luck to the Vastanos – I’m sure we will head south to visit you sooner than later!