This time next week, I’ll have a new baby. What a strange, incredible concept! One day, no baby. Next day, baby. I sound dumb, right? I am dumb. Even though I’ve been through this before, I can’t seem remember anything. And how will this new arrival impact living in my two bedroom apartment? I know people all over the city do this all the time, but it seems like a game of Jenga to me. Initially it’s easy, since for the first couple of months he’ll sleep in a bassinet in our bedroom. Then what? I have no idea. I mean, I guess he’ll room with Eve. Hopefully she’ll be excited about that and not dangle spit loogies on his head while he sleeps. But how to set it all up? The truth is that I don’t think about it, but Courtney cares and she’s 17 months pregnant, so I need to find a way to speak her language on this. I need to care. Who better to help me solve this logistical conundrum but the Internet? I started looking online to see how apartments can be reconfigured with two kids in a room and I stumbled across Project Nursery. Cool site, lots of splashy photos, good ideas to steal. So, when Courtney emails a couple of links asking which bedspread I like the best, the truth is that I don’t really know. It’s not that I don’t care, but…I don’t. So she gets a lame answer, “I like them equal amounts, honey.” Come on, even I know how ridiculous I sound when this amazing woman is looking for some sort of real engagement while trying to get her mind off the eight-pound basketball in her belly. So, on Project Nursery, I can search for rooms that have cool shit in them. Instead of telling Courtney that I would prefer to ‘dude’ it up a little while keeping Eve’s girly stuff in the mix, I can show her some stuff. Seems we can get Angelina Ballerina on one side, Iron Man on the other. Compromise! Because I know there’s no way I’m ever going to have the room decorated with x-wings and TIE fighters. Sigh.
Eve really enjoys the Children’s Museum of Art in Manhattan (so does Lulu), so I thought we’d give the Brooklyn Children’s Museum a whirl recently. The CMA is a winner because there’s tons of art projects to do, things to build and songs to sing…but I’d maintain that the BCM rocks because it’s all about running around. Just turn ‘em loose!The exhibits are fully kid-immersive, with areas to learn about the properties of water (lotsa splashing), sound (lotsa crashing), natural habitats (lotsa…handling), and so on. We got wet, dirty, and a little sweaty and it was great. There’s a section where they created a shrunken Epcot Center-style Brooklyn neighborhood– kids can go from mini storefront to mini-storefront buying rubber produce, tossing cloth pizzas, and making sock burritos. You know, all the things us Brooklyners do every single day. And of course, no city role-playing would be complete without boarding the model Brooklyn city bus and “driving” it. Witnessing Eve drive is proof positive that maintaining a legal driving age is sound policy.In city terms, it’s a pretty enormous facility so for a little kid it probably seems like an endless amount of territory to explore. It certainly passed the fun test for my household, given that Eve passed out in the car on the way home. Success.
I grew up on Long Island and as an 80′s era pre-teen, a cool thing to do was go to the roller rink on the weekend. It was called “Laces,” and I spent many a Saturday with my buddies there. In those halcyon days, skates had four wheels, chicks wore Jordache unironically and the cool kids always huddled in the middle of the rink. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys low hanging fruit, go ahead and make your wisecracks, but dammit, it was ridiculously fun. If you’ve ever known the joys of speeding through the glittering sequined lights around dark rounded corners to the amplified sounds of Rick James, only pausing to rest for a spirited round of Galaga… then I have some great news for your weekend.This Saturday at the Brooklyn Lyceum you can relive all your childhood roller-disco memories, because they are hosting a Roller Skate and Disco Dance party. If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Lyceum, the backstory is that it originally opened in 1910 as an indoor bathing facility, but today is an arts and cultural center on the edge of Gowanus playing host to a range of theatre, music, dance, markets and community activities. And apparently, roller disco parties. Bring your own skates and the kids to roll from noon til six, and then from six to midnight it’s just for the adults to get their rollerfreak on. I can only assume/hope there will be this song, and this song, and maybe this song, and that there will be bland square pizza and Dr. Peppers to go around.
Now that the weather is officially gray and frigid, what does one do to avoid going stir crazy? Sure, booze is always a fun way to pass the afternoon but there’s only so many times you can bring your two year old to the bar before Social Services comes knocking. With that in mind, every Friday On the Real will help you find stuff to do indoors. And so today, we bring you…puppets?Yes, puppets. And of all the creatures in the puppet Kingdom, I personally find marionettes inherently creepy. Maybe it’s because they are so herky-jerky. Maybe seeing them manipulated by strings inspires a certain Machiavellian dread. Or maybe it’s because of Chucky. Was Chucky a marionette? How about King Friday? Because I didn’t like him either. No matter. They’re freaky and so it was entirely an antsy-kid-in-cold-weather decision that made us head over to Park Slope to check out long-time marionette mainstay, Puppetworks. Set up as a black-box theater in the ground floor of a brownstone, it is actually sort of funky and charming.The puppeteers (marionetters?) come out before the show and explain to the kids the mechanics of how the puppets work, and they’re enthusiastic and silly and all the kids (including mine) ate the schtick up. The actual show itself was great — the kids yell and clap and point and are completely engaged, and despite my marionette aversion I’ll actually admit to being entertained as well. And I was struck by the notion that it’s totally wholesome, innocent and old-timey fun for a little kid and there isn’t tons of that fun around anymore. So this Saturday when the thermometer reads 19 degrees and your kids are drawing on the walls with Sharpies– remember the puppets.
Buying gifts for kids is tough, especially when they are not yours. For the little ones up to a couple of years old, hit Giggle. They have an amazing selection of toys, clothes, carriers, cribs, feeding/washing apparatuses and just about everything else you can think of for the zero to two’s.If you’re into the tactile shopping experience and in NYC, they have stores in Soho, Upper East and Upper West Sides. If you’re out of the city, there are 10 more locations dotting the country or you can just keep it super easy and shop online.
What we have not given is a well deserved shout out to Annie Moor, who is one of the teaching artistsand the ONLY solution for music time at CMA. This fine lady from Texas is a rock star to these kids! The level of enthusiasm and talent is unreal and we are so happy to know this amazing teacher and friend. Lu cannot wait to see her every single time we go. Hellos and good-byes are always in the form of big giant hugs. So fun!
After our medley of tunes and messy fingers, we headed over to Hundred Acres on MacDougal Street for some seriously good Jesus’ Meatballs topped with creamy grits and ricotta. Great service, great food, and a great conversation with this little mouth full of meatball whose company I was privileged to enjoy.
Ever been to Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo? An incredible new addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park, it is a vintage Carousel from 1922 positioned right on the waterfront and has jaw-dropping views like this of Manhattan and the bridges…
I like the story behind it, because it is one of persistence. An artist named Jane Walentas (wife of David Walentas, the real estate developer who created Dumbo as you know it today) spent more than 25 years bringing this Carousel to life.
It was a true passion project, and took an insane amount of work because when Jane and David purchased it at auction in 1984, the Carousel was a total wreck. They made hundreds of necessary carpentry repairs, and began the time-consuming process of hand-scraping away 62 years of “Park Paint” with a razor blade to reveal the original 1922 carvings, color palette, and designs. The horses were rendered in faithful detail based on historical photographs.
Missing embellishments such as faceted jewels, small beveled mirrors on the bridles, and delicate pinstriping were restored. Blackened varnish was removed from original paintings to reveal their true colors. Mechanical systems were updated with new gears, motor and an electronic controller. Totally rewired, the Carousel now dazzles visitors with 1200 brilliant lights. When finished in 2011, it was finally housed in an appropriately gorgeous glass and steel pavilion designed by the incredible Jean Nouveau.
And not surprisingly, the finished product is pretty damn amazing. Eve went completely bananas over it… Go, you won’t be disappointed!