Stuff that Saturdays are made of...

Cherry-red pedicures. Polka-dotted summer shoes. Sticky honey drizzled over fresh berries from the farmer's market. That is what Saturdays are made of. Hope your Saturday is swell, sweet readers!

{Photo courtesy of Flickr}



Where the Wild Things Are

We plan on taking a walk on the wide side here at the Stanley house this weekend. The weather is supposed to be divine! And with many of our weekends thru June soaked with plans, I am determined to make use of this spare bit of time.

When many people think of New York City, or most cities for that matter, they think of buildings tall enough to stir the clouds and stretches of unforgiving concrete. Most don't come to the city to experience nature. Alright, in all fairness, a couple of months ago, a wild coyote wandering through the streets of Manhattan was a primary news story. So, yeah, I get it. But there are plenty of outdoorsy things to do, aside from the well-traveled paths of Central Park. You just have to know where the wild things are! {So, yes, mom, Connor will know what a blade of grass looks like! Wink, wink!}

Here is what we are contemplating:

1. Every night as darkness slithers over the city, we watch the green lights of the Verrazano Bridge off in the distance begin to glow like a set of mint-hued pearls stretching across the water. Connor is a boy's boy, in love with planes, trains, cars, trucks, buses and boats, so I'd love to take him over to the paths that wind underneath the shadows of the massive bridge, where the Hudson river meets the Atlantic ocean. We could count the ships hustling about the bay and bid them adieu as they float out to sea. Tiny tenacious tugboats, delicate swirls of sailboats and bumbling barges. Life-sized ships in a bottle. There is something incredibly pure and peaceful bellying up to such a big, body of water.

2. Surprise, surprise, there are beaches all around New York City! Some as close as 20 minutes. Last summer, Connor got his first experience of tucking his tootsies in the sand in the Hamptons! How very New York of him! And last weekend we wandered around Coney Island, skipping shells along the shore and melting cotton candy on our tongues along the boardwalk. Connor loved it and an early-morning stroll on the beach really appeals to me.

3. I'm not really a huge fan of bike riding. I usually prefer an evening stroll, where the slower pace allows me to fully take in my surroundings. But saddling up to a vintage-blue bike, a wire basket hanging over the handlebars, filled with sandwiches wrapped in red-checkered cloth and herb-coated pretzels wrapped in brown paper bags, sounds sweet and special. There are trails that twist and turn, dodging up the west side of Manhattan along the Hudson. We could end our trip with a picnic at another NYC secret - the little red lighthouse - that dangles off the northern edge of the island, making it even more tempting to throw on our helmets and go!

4. But if we do decide on a walk, I love trotting along the Chelsea High Line, a park built on old train tracks, rising above the streets of NYC. The path winds past ruddy-colored brick buildings, housing art galleries and designer studios, and boosts beautiful views of the Empire State Building.  It smells like maple and pine and roses. Scents I rarely encounter in the city. Bonus: Our journey could end at the Chelsea Market, yum, where we could snag the perfect warm-weather treat: a rhubarb and strawberry flavored ice pop from People's Pops!

Decisions, decisions. What do you think lovelies? What should we do this weekend? Hmmm...maybe them all? I hope the weather is equally as wonderful where you are! What plans do you have in your neck of the woods? Merry weekend, darling readers!

{Photos courtesy of Flickr and Stranger With A Camera}


The Early Bird Gets the (Book) Worm

I don't know about where you are beloved readers, but the weather in NYC has been a bit persnickety lately. One minute we are having warm breezes, blue skies and temperatures in the 80s, but before we even have a chance to pull out our mojito glasses, we are pummeled with wild winds, foggy mornings, chilly raindrops and depressed, grey skies.

With the forecast showing a fluctuation in possible weather scenarios today, Connor and I aren't taking any chances having our playground plans fizzled out by a rainy spell or a spurt of cold weather. Instead, we plan on becoming bookworms for the day, like this adorable darling. Melt!

It is a win-win situation. If the weather is bright and shiny, we'll head to Central Park and plant ourselves under a tree with our stash of books. Otherwise, we'll plop on the floor in Connor's bedroom, listen to the raindrops tickling their way down the windows and delve into our reading list for the day.

Lately, we've become huge fans of books that talk about places right in our backyard in NYC, so rounding out our picks for tomorrow are: Miroslav Sasek's "This is New York," which we absolutely adore. I'm not sure who becomes more entranced by the whimsical drawings of New York's famed spots and fun facts, me or Connor. We'll also be packing along a new notch in our NYC book collection, Mo Willems' "Knuffle Bunny." I find the black and white photos of Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood infused with fun illustrations to be completely charming. Bonus about these books: We can read about the Chrysler Building, while I point it out to Connor, or talk about Chinatown as we drink bubble tea in the downtown neighborhood. Cool!

If the weather cooperates, we plan on taking a stroll to the local bookstore to add some new NYC tales to our collection, including "Good Night New York City," by Adam Gamble, "You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum," by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and "My Subway Ride," by Paul DuBois Jacobs.

{Photos courtesy of Flickr.}

Happy reading, loves! And tell me, what are some of your favorite childhood books? {I adore Jack Prelutsky & Shel Silverstein.} Or what books do you like to read to your kids {or, ahem, yourself}?


A city for...three?

It has taken me 428 days to master the art of living amongst the skyscrapers, fast-paced foot commuters, blaring taxis, crowded subways and teeny weeny restaurants with a toddler. Confession: I am still learning. Sometimes the culture of the city can be overwhelmingly tough and gruff on somebody so terribly small, and equally brutal on us parents that have to push strollers, dodging busy Wall Street bankers, overzealous Madison Avenue shoppers and clueless tourists.

But, nonetheless, we are a family of three, here in this city.

Just as this cosmopolitan enclave has managed to stretch, shrink and mold to fit us, there is one question that threatens to topple everything: "When is Connor going to get a sibling?" Family, friends, and even our building's cleaning lady, offers up the million dollar question incessantly. Soon I feel like in between asking me if I want an extra shot of espresso, my barista is going to start asking me about the status of baby number two. The pressure is on!

Between work, hubby, Connor, and a city this big, I find myself wondering if there is any room left in my life? Do I have any more of myself to give?

In the battle of baby versus city, right now, city definitely has the edge.

I am in agreement, life with a sibling is always better. No argument here. And there is something incredibly warm and fuzzy about a large, robust family. But the worries of being "mommy tracked" at work, wondering if I can squeeze any extra space out of our two-bedroom apartment and my hope to keep my overall sanity in tact have me questioning life as a family of four, or yikes, even more!

I have been reading Rebecca Walker's book, "One Big Happy Family," and have found comfort knowing that each family looks differently, thinks differently and operates differently. I find that quite lovely. And refreshing. For now, we will remain one big, small happy family. Check out these other nifty families!

 Some families are wonderfully large, with people both old, young, short and tall.

While others are pint-sized, yet lovingly small.

Some families grow to the size of a hockey team.

Others are more humble in number, but bursting with love at the seam.

Some families giggle and laugh when they find their perfect size.

While other families are just beginning to grow right before our eyes.

I want to hear about your families. What is your magic number? Are you a family of three, happy as can be? Or a family of four, six, eight or even more? What factors in to the decision of how many kids you will have, if any? Money? Location to family? Job? And if there are any city parents reading with more than one child, pretell, how do you darlings do it?

{All photos courtesy of Flickr.}


life of an ex-suburbanite

Welcome darling readers to my lovely new Internet home, Stories from the Stoop.

A little over a year ago I was a card-carrying, suburban-Stepford wife. That membership has long expired. I have since said goodbye to white picket fences, homeowners associations and that one particular neighbor who was always competing with me for Yard of the Year. My husband, Greg, my itty bitty city tot, Connor (who is now almost 20 months) and I, packed up and headed for greener pastures, well, okay, maybe not 'greener' pastures, literally. We traded in our backyard in the suburbs for a stoop in the city. Views of perfectly primped hedges for views of the Statue of Liberty.

When we pulled into Flat 521 as suburban refugees, our life stuffed in boxes in a U-Haul, and a fragile baby, still gummy, squishy and new in tow, I had no idea if we would make it.

We did.

Our trip down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City over this past year has not always been easy. I had meltdowns in the subway trying to maneuver through a sea of black suits with a stroller. I had worries about trading in home ownership of our little blue bungalow, to rent a shoe box-sized apartment in the city. I spent sleepless nights wondering if a city this big, would swallow up a child so small. I also had moments of pure bliss when Connor and I ventured out for nightly strolls to see what color the Empire State Building was and when he made his first French girlfriend at the fountain at Washington Square Park. I smiled as I teetered in tall heels past the skyscrapers of the city, tackling the world of New York City publishing from a cubicle in Times Square. I swooned with delight as I celebrated the first year of my son's life in Central Park, a symbol of our new life. In the end, not only did we make it, I have never felt so alive.

People come to the big city with big dreams, and I was no exception. The first year here was spent working, working and working. I assisted on photo shoots with A-list celebrities, worked from sun up until sun down and then sun up again, dined at five-star restaurants and ogled at shoes in the windows of Fifth Avenue stores. That first year, all I saw were the glitzy bulbs of New York City, blinding me to the realities of actually settling in here.

That year has passed.

This is year two. Now it is time to make this city home, to plant roots. It is time to make the big decisions. Is this the final stop for us? If so, where are we going to buy and adjust to life as city dwellers - Tribeca versus the Upper East Side, Park Slope versus Brooklyn Heights? Will I snag that dream brownstone I have so admiringly conjured up in my mind? How am I going to secure a spot for Connor in a top-notch school? Or the bigger question, how am I going to afford it? I know this city is big, but does it have the space for my family to grow? Am I going to continue pounding the pavement as a working mom or let my free spirit reign and settle into life as a full-time freelancer?

Onward we go to Year Two. Stay tuned...

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