Monthly Archives: April 2013

Miles Storm with his Ipad and the new Disney Storytime App

Story Time on an Ipad can be a great bonding experience and just as enjoyable as reading normal books

My family drives a lot as we live between 2 homes. During the week we live in Brooklyn NYC and during the weekends we live 90 miles North of NYC in the township of Rhinebeck Upstate NY. To break that down, on a good day, it is a 2 hour drive each way. But, when traffic is bad it has been known to take 5 hours for us to get from one to another.

Because of this, our Son has had his very own Ipad from a very young age – 7 months to be exact! As Miles has grown the apps on his Ipad have also changed. At first, we just used to put movies on for him to watch, but as he became older he wanted to interact more and play with games. Thankfully, there are so many learning applications on the Ipad with programs specifically designed for toddlers. As he is now hitting the 3 year mark, his choices are again changing, with him currently really being into stories.

One of the issues I have had with downloading stories on his Ipad is that, for the most part you can only download one story per each individual app which is really annoying. I have been looking for an app where you can have one with many stories inside it and this week I was super excited to find one from good old Walt Disney. The new Disney Storytime houses up to 20 stories on the one app – LOVE that! I downloaded 10 books straight off the bat for Miles Storm which is keeping him busy!

Here are a few reasons why I am a big fan of this app at the moment;

  •  I love that you can design your own avatar with your child’s photo in it (see my Son’s below, I think he looks cute as a cartoon character) with options including choices on hair color and shirt color
  • I love that you do not have to leave the app to add new books, you can do it all on-screen by adding credit and then Miles can choose the books he likes
  • I love that there are so many books to choose for, this app actually has the largest collection of Disney stories available, with Miles choosing – Always Time for A Laugh, Starry Night, Rapunzel’s Story, Puppy Trouble, A Tight Squeeze, Down to Earth, Super Annoying, A day without Pumbaa, Watch Dug and Radiator Springs Road Trip
  • I love that viewing options can be personalized to either “Read by Myself” and “Read to Me”
  • I love that you can record your own voice in place of the default reader which I actually did for Rapunzel’s Story, so now every time Miles listens to it he will hear his Mummy reading the story to him (cute)
  • I love that when a story is being read by the default voice each word is highlighted on the screen, meaning that Miles can start to associate words/letters with the sound when it is pronounced

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We LOVE Jack n’ Jill Non-Toxic toothpaste in our family home!

Jack n Jill toothpaste and NOW YOU KNOW!

My Son’s first tooth grew in around 1 year of age. The same time my first tooth popped up when I was a little girl. With this came the simple enough realization that my husband and I would have to start brushing his teeth. Another New Experience, yep welcome to having your first child!

I struggled on this journey with my Son because he HATED having his teeth brushed – he would keep his mouth closed shut like lockjaw, cry and would jump around making it difficult to brush all of his teeth, not to mention dangerous. I tried all kinds of things – playing games, singing songs and bribery but nothing seemed to work.

Eventually it dawned on me that maybe the taste of the toothpaste was not pleasant to him. Additionally, I wondered if there were harmful ingredients in his toothpaste we were using at that time. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? There are toxins everywhere; toys, shampoos, body lotions, food, drinks! You can’t get away from them.

After doing some research I found I was right about the toxins. Take a minute to look at the list of ingredients on your child’s toothpaste – do you know what most of them are, I didn’t. And, I want to mention here that the FDA does not even require studies or testing to ensure the safety of products (like toothpaste) before they are available to the public. To me, that is just crazy especially as our Little Ones bodies are new and still developing making them more sensitive to chemical onslaught.

Ingredients in Children’s toothpaste usually include Sodium Fluoride which is an ingredient in Rat Poison, Hydrated Silica which if you dried out becomes the little packets you see in some packaged foods saying “Do Not Eat”, Sorbitol and Glycerine which ironically are both forms of sugar alcohol, Sodium Saccharin an artificial sweetener, Cellulose Gum which is an artificial thickener and not forgetting Methylparaben which is a preservative linked to cancer, skin and eye damage and male fertility issues!

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Mills Mansion in the quaintness that is Staatsburgh

Mills Mansion Upstate NY Staatsburg

My family lives in between 2 places; during the week we live in bustling New York City in an apartment and during the weekends (and all holidays) we live upstate NY in the gorgeous historic township of Rhinebeck in a house. Rhinebeck is located a stones throw away from the Hudson River about a 2 hour drive North of NYC. My family has done this commute for 7 years now, and we love the contrast of being surrounded by trees and animals one minute and then surrounded by skyscraper buildings with barely a tree in site, the next!

Rhinebeck is one of the oldest settled areas in the United States dating back to the year 1686 – over 320 years ago!! And, with all those hundreds of settled years comes with it, old mansions and properties that are no longer lived in but have instead been donated back to the public to explore, enjoy and love. Which I am personally so very thankful for!

One of my husband and my favorite places to explore with our dogs, before our Son was born, was (and still is) Mills Mansion on top of a grassy hill in the neighboring town at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site. Mills Mansion itself is an Awesome renovated Beaux-Arts mansion which includes 65 rooms involving 14 bathrooms and 23 fireplaces!! Wowser, can you imagine living in such a place with all fires burning? So glorious!

Mills Mansion was extended circa 1895 (from when the original house was burned down in 1832 and rebuilt) and is situated on 1,600 acres of Hudson River footage of awe and pure beauty!! I can vouch for that. Mills Mansion is now the property of the State of New York and thankfully open to the public.

During winter months, local children and families sled down the snow-covered hills. During the warmer months couples are married on the scenic water front, while families hike/play/run/laugh to their heart’s content. It is truly a gorgeous part of upstate NY which is pristine and protected and will always be there for ANY OF US who want to take advantage.

Last week, we visited Mills Mansion with our 2.5 year old – Miles Storm – walking and able to hike with us (for the first time since he was born) and the dogs along the River on the tracks. HE LOVED It. He pointed out all kinds of things like lighthouses, boats, sand and birds. Children grow up SO fast don’t they? I literally feel like I was at Mills Mansion yesterday, where my Son was a few weeks of age and I was pushing him around in his pram with him unable to talk, and me just totally confused as to how I was a Mother all of a sudden!

Fast forward.. almost 3 years and here we all are enjoying the Great Outdoors and Loving Life!

If you are planning a trip upstate New York, I definitely suggest a stop at Mills Mansion. Bring a picnic blanket and some food and lay down with your loved ones and enjoy the surroundings!

**Mills Mansion is on Old Post Road, Staatsburg 12580 with the outdoor area open from dusk to dawn every day of the year. January through March there are guided tours of the Mansion 11AM – 3PM. There is no cost to enter the property and is quite a large car park. However, there is nowhere to buy food or drinks so do not forget to bring yourself. There are also portable potties scattered around the property.

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Oh how we love Mills Mansion

Daddy Time

Family shot – Mummy, Miles, Rockstarr and Mohawk

Brussel Sprouts baked with Capers and Miso

Brussel Sprouts

Far Out Brussel Sprout! Growing up as a child Brussel Sprouts were probably one of the WORST things that I could ever think to eat, and I feel like the feeling was mutual among other children my age. Fast forward 20 or so years and now it one of my favorite vegetables ever.

Brussel Sprouts are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, being a great source of Vitamins B6, K, C & A! I love you little green Brussel Sprouts!! Not to mention Folate (great for if you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant by the way), as well as Potassium, Iron, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Dietary Fiber and Manganese.

As most people know who read this Blog, I do not eat animals and along with my 2.5 year old Son we both eat an abundant supply of vegetables. Another thing we LOVE to do in my family is bake vegetables, usually with olive oil and garlic as a staple base. Today, however I felt like doing something different.

Voila – let’s Bake up some Brussel Sprouts baked with Capers and Miso Sauce.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Organic Brussel Sprouts (I used 2 small bags being about 80 pieces)
  • 15 organic garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Miso Paste (I use South River Miso Paste)
  • 6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Capers (I used around 25)
  • 4 teaspoons Caper Brine (taken from jar of capers)

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Miles Storm’s Christening in the small Australian Town of Bunyip

Christening – A religious sacrament marked by the symbolic application of water to the head or immersion of the body into water and resulting in admission.

I was brought up, in my home country of Australia as a Christian, specifically the Church of England faith. I went to Sunday School often, and I was Christened AKA Baptised before I was one year of age; which is tradition. Although, I now consider myself a Pagan, being of a nature inspired religion, I still hold on to a lot of the values I learned during my time within the Christian faith.

One thing, I was very adamant about when my Son was born, was that he would be Christened as soon as possible. However, my husband who is Jewish (not practicing) did not want Miles Storm to be Christened at all, his reasoning being that if neither of the parents were Christian what was the point? Hmmmm, so I had to ask him – what was the harm? Personally, I wanted to set a tradition in place and for my Son to be blessed by a Priest, as well as laying a foundation for him and his spiritual choices as he grows. As a result of my husband and my different opinions, we fought about it a bit, but eventually he backed off realizing how important it seemed to me and thus I was able to start planning the Christening.

On Saturday the 18th of March 2012, while I was visiting my Mum and Dad in the small small country town of Bunyip where I grew up, Miles Storm was Christened to the musical backdrop of kookaburras and magpies singing in surrounding trees. It was such a beautiful experience! He wore the same gown I wore, and my brother and sisters, when we were all Christened many many years ago; fitting into it perfectly! He was barefoot on a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze and the smells of eucalyptus in the air. I could not have imagined a better scenario.

The petit township of Bunyip is in Gippsland, being in the state of Victoria which is situated about an hour’s drive north of the major city of Melbourne. And, when I say small I mean tiny. Bunyip is literally the exact opposite to where I live now in New York City! To create an understanding, the road my parents live on is still a dirt track. It is a gorgeous untouched spot of the world, which I miss tremendously.

Miles was Christened at 109-year-old St Thomas’ Anglican Church which is a short stroll down the Street from my parents house. It is Bunyip’s oldest church, perched high on top of a hill. It is beautiful and quaint setting on a lovely property with gigantic eucalyptus trees blowing in the wind. Bishop Michael Hough, who performed the ceremony, was wonderful. What a lovely gentleman he is, stopping by our family home a few times to work out the details, as well as spending some time with Miles to get to know him. Love him!

The Christening was conducted during the regular Sunday service, and as a result the Church was full of both my extended family members and local Church goers (who all loved my Son).

And, as for Miles Storm, he loved it also. He was so very intrigued, and made himself at home walking around saying hello to everybody, without batting an eyelid. He had a great time full of laughter and memories.

What about you, did you do any specific religious ceremonies with you Little One?

Miles Storm being blessed with Holy Water by Bishop Michael Hough

Miles Storm taking it all in

Miles Storm, yay I have officially been Christened

Miles Storm enjoying his time in my home town, amongst the Gum Trees!

Miles Storm barefoot after his Christening, you know, mingling!

We Love Klub 4 Kidz!

Being a Stay-At-Home-Mum in New York City is not always easy, especially during the colder weather. It is definitely not like the environment where I grew up in Australia where my Mother told me and my brother and sisters to go outside and play every day; you just do not have that choice here as a parent.

Thankfully, there are options. The indoor play spaces are a rapidly growing trend which are a godsend to young city-based families. Not just because they are indoors, but also because they are safe and friendly venues specifically targeted towards our Little Ones.

Here in Williamsburg Brooklyn where I live, there are a few options, with one of my top preferences being Klub 4 Kidz, which is located off Bedford Avenue on North 4th Street.

On Halloween 2010 K4K was officially opened by mother herself, Tina Klideris, who had dreamed about opening something-of-the-like for over 10 years; see dreams really can come true!

For the older children, 2 years to 10 years of age, there is a 18 foot rock climbing wall, and 4 tier state-of-the-art playground which includes zip line, crawl tubes, mazes, and slides. Pretty amazing right!

THE NEW TODDLER ROOM

For the younger children, like Miles Storm, K4K recently introduced a “Toddler Room” which we had the opportunity to check out last week. My Son loved it, we were there for 2+ hours and he actually started crying when we had to leave. Now he constantly asks if he can go back to the “Kub 4 Kidz” -  really cute!

The Toddler Room is specifically for newborns to children 2 years of age, which is reassuring because it means Little Ones will not be scared or knocked-about by the bigger children in the playground. There is a soft mat on the floor with plenty of toys and books to explore.

Klub 4 Kidz also has a café which offers, wait for it, gluten-free and organic food choices, not to mention coffee! They offer a variety of Pop-In classes like my favorite Eco friendly Pop Art. There is also Pre-school Klub, Music Class, PeeWee Pop Art and a Science Class which are held on Tuesday and Thursday. You can find more information about that HERE.

Another awesome offering from K4K is $10 Tuesday, which is exactly as it says only $10 for unlimited Open Play ALL day. This definitely has to be one of the best deals in the local “Willy B” area, $10 is such a relief compared to some of the prices of other activities available! At the end of the week K4K holds Funtastic Friday which is from 3PM – 6PM and includes free rock wall and face painting. Additionally, the party room is open with board games and WII music and dancing. Woo Hoo!

If you are in “Willy B” I definitely suggest you stop by. And, if you are visiting Williamsburg Brooklyn feel free to check it out, I know your children will Love It, like my Little Boy does.

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Miles Storm enjoying the Toddler Room at Klub for Kidz