Archive for December 26, 2009

Swimming Lessons for Baby

Sad NYC Discovery: Anything baby-related costs a flippin’ fortune. I won’t even go into child care. $25K per year. Double that and you’ve got an Ivy League education! Insane. Baby classes aren’t much better. The Little Gym. Gymboree. Music Together. All good (I went to trial classes and loved the Little Gym of Harlem) – but oh, our grad-student-budget isn’t sure it can handle it. One thing I am willing to pay for, though: swimming lessons. Because I’ve been imagining my baby’s first swim since long before I had a baby. I’ve done a bit of research and this is what I’ve discovered near our Morninside Heights ‘hood.

SwimJim: They just opened a new location at my favorite within-walking-distance block: Columbus Square at West 100th and Columbus (site of TJ Maxx, Whole Foods, and Michael’s). The pool is in the new apartment building and, according to SwimJim, will be kept well-heated since they can control the temp themselves. Registration for January has begun, and we’re signing up. Looks like it’s under $30 per class. NOTE: As of Jan. 11, 2010, the classes are on hold because of a ceiling leak. We may opt for Teacher’s College instead (see next listing).

Teacher’s College: Their 130 year old pool is the oldest in the city. The pool itself is quite pretty, once you get in there after taking a stroll through the school’s slightly less than charming basement. But a friend says that 1) some teachers are good, some are not, and 2) sometimes that old pool just doesn’t get heated. $25 per class.

Barnard: The water is apparently cold and that doesn’t sound like fun for anyone.

December 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

A Bag Company Everyone Should Know About

The same clever woman who told me about Amazon Kindle for the iPhone is one of the masterminds behind MY Oilcloth. Her name is Yvette and she is one of the most creative, practically-minded people I know. Our entire town is in awe of her ability to organize…anything. Her closets are the stuff of fairytales. And these bags are, first of all, super cool-looking. But they’re also waterproof. And easy to carry. And are thought-through in a way few things are. You sort of know they’re designed by a mom who knows how to keep things simple and convenient to keep from going mad. My MY Oilcloth has a pocket inside for keeping your water bottle upright. I’ve never seen that on any other bag.

Just this week, we flew to Denmark from New York and after about 15 minutes of  travel, I realized what a moron I was for taking 5 bags of stuff. I couldn’t find anything, there was no system – and I looked like a crazy bag lady to boot. I needed a duffle-type bag, but I don’t really like the gym-looking ones. While writing this post, I just discovered that MY’s designed one called The Weekender that’s, well, perfect, really. And on sale. Pretty cool.

December 26, 2009 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

Staying Literary with Baby in Tow

When Oliver was born, I’m pretty sure I spent upwards of 80% of the day feeding him. The rest of the time, I held him while he slept. And I tried to record every feeding/diaper change/nap, too. And occasionally ate myself. And carried around much-needed water. And was sleep-deprived.

Needless to say, there was no way to carry a book around, too. Even if I had one, often it was just too dark to read and I’d have gone crazy trying to remember where I put my book light the night before. But oh, how I needed some entertainment while I fed and fed and fed! And how I needed to feel a bit intellectually stimulated and like my old self.

I’d already used my iPhone for recording contractions (carrying just one device you always need anyway instead of a pen and paper was brilliant!). And then found another awesome app for recording all baby-related events (feeding, diapers, naps, my own Ibuprofen intake). Life was almost simple!

And then a very clever woman told me about Amazon Kindle for the iPhone, and all was well with the world again. Because now I could combine two of my favorite pastimes – being with Oliver and reading – with no extra effort. All I ever had to have with me was my son, my phone – and, occasionally, water.

Since then, I’ve read The Help, The Invisible Man, Juliet, Naked – and have sampled a whole load of other books for free. You can read in the dark (a major plus with a baby). You can read on the train. You can read any time you’re with your baby and he’s asleep and you don’t want to disturb him – or let go.

I just saw an ad for Barnes & Nobles new reading gadget and it seems like total nonsense – at least for moms. That thing is so expensive – you could buy an iPhone and about a hundred books, I’m pretty sure. And the whole point is to minimize the amount of stuff we carry. Who needs another electronic doo-dad to worry about?

December 26, 2009 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

Beach Vacation with Baby, Anyone?

When the snow reached nearly a foot (we’re spending Christmas in Denmark), we decided it was time to start researching our next beach holiday. It’ll be in March, Spring Break week. And though we’ve both been to all-inclusives in the Caribbean (Aruba, Jamaica, DR) – choosing a place to go with baby isn’t so easy, it turns out. We’ve contemplated cruises but have no idea what to expect. The prospect of visiting 7 different islands is exciting, but being on a boat – no idea what that’s like. And someone just told me you apparently have to share tables?! Ehhh. I’m a fairly social person, I think, but like the options of being a bit of a hermit with just my family on vacation.

One thing that seems certain: looking for a baby-friendly place is a priority. I can’t imagine spending a week at a place where everyone looks at you with a mixture of anxiety and annoyance when you stroll in with your adorable 9-month-old.

Here are some interesting/useful resources we came across in my research:

  • For cruises, Carnival comes up as a top choice for families.
  • Parents’ Magazine has a list of Top 10 Caribbean resorts for families.
  • The New York Times recently had an interesting article – On a Caribbean Vacation, Baby Makes Three – about St.Martin, where the author and his family rented a villa for the unthinkably low price of $650/week. Check it out.
  • I also know that Beaches is the family-friendly sister of Sandals, but we did Sandals on our honeymoon (Jamaica) and were less than impressed. It was so ridiculously commercial, all about selling more and more and more even though it was theoretically an all-inclusive.
  • ClubMed gets great reviews but is a bit pricey for our student budget.
  • Our family friends with two small girls (2 and 4) just came back from the all-inclusive Tamarijn in Aruba. They loved it. I went there 14 years ago with my family and we loved it. No other all-inclusive I’ve been to (DR, Jamaica) has come close – and it seems it’s still top-notch and was recently renovated. I’ve got great memories of a Jeep safari around the island – and of the excellent food and great entertainment at the resort. The fact that so many of the properties (if not all) are literally right on the beach, so you walk out and step onto the sand – is pretty amazing, too. Sometimes you can find good deals for this (and other resorts) at CheapCaribbean.com.

After loads of research (done by my husband) and several spreadsheets (how we love’em – no major decision in our house is made without one), we decided to try out Curacao and stay at the Hilton. The kiddie pool was a big selling point for me. The property is beautiful, there are two beaches, Hilton breakfasts are usually great, and you can apparently walk to quite a few restaurants. Plus, it got a very high recommend rate at TripAdvisor.com. I’ll post a review in March.

December 26, 2009 at 10:52 am Leave a comment


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