Wednesday, December 23, 2009

El Charrito Filmed By TLC Tues!

Cool! More TV coverage for Stamford! The taco truck on Richmond Hill (you know, in front of Beamers), will be filmed around noon Tuesday. From El Charrito's Facebook page:

I also wanted to let everyone know that El Charrito was chosen to be
on a tv show as the top 10 best street food vendors world wide. This
show is going to be aired on TLC channel. We will begin shooting the
show on Dec29th I believe.

That's awesome. I'll surely try to do a drive-by of the scene. If you can go and show support, especially if you have eaten there before, you really should, and please report back to me!

I've been once, last summer- actually, a year and a half ago- and it was delicious.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Show Me Some Snow!

I went to the grocery last night at 8pm and was surprised it wasn't packed. Was everyone at holiday parties, or is CT scoffing at the coming storm?

I'm pretty pumped for baby's first snowstorm. I do wish we had some clothing for him, but I've been in denial that winter is here. Maybe I can dress him warmly and wrap a trash bag around him to let him enjoy the snow? We shall see.

All I have left to do to prepare is gas up the car. You know, in case heat in the house dies and we're forced to live in our car for a day or two. Or whatever.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Photos of Stamford's Movie Sets for "Everybody's Fine"

Hee hee! This Advocate article features the owners of the home that was one of the 3 movie sets I stalked last spring. (The movie is "Everybody's Fine" with Robert DeNiro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore, out in theaters now.)

At the first set, up in North Stamford, I met the location manager and security guy. That was this big beautiful white house.

And here were the signs and trucks I followed to get there:













The article features the second set, in Shippan, where I befriended some policemen and said howdy again to the same security guy. It's just a regular house.










The third set, I ran into the location manager, then one of the same policemen, and got to watch DeNiro work. And actually, that third set I didn't stalk. I was picking my mom up at the train station and happened to glance up and see the location manager. He was horrified to see me but begrudgingly let me know where they were filming (bus area).

These aren't pics of DeNiro. I am WAY TOO SUBTLE for that. These are the policemen and the guy walking in the dark sweatshirt is the location manager, Paul. (Geez, I just remembered his name. I am GOOD with names.)










The Shippan set was totally boring. I stood in the road for two hours, talking to the policemen between "quiet on the set"s- except the set was inside the house, but we still had to be quiet. There were a lot of people wearing black shirts and striding around importantly. But this boring two hours were what got me to know enough people to get close enough to watch DeNiro the third time.


And actually, before all this, I saw them filming on Wash Blvd. There was a car on a flatbed being filmed as it rode. I didn't see who was in the car, and the photo I snapped managed to get the flatbed truck, but not the car! But that was when I got my taste of movie glamour, and there was no looking back.

See? There's the flatbed. To the right, out of the photo, would be the actual car I was trying to photograph and failed, because there's only so much photography you can do while driving PAST something.

Click here to read more.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stamford is NOT Drive-Thru Friendly...

Is that why we're all so damn thin?

The kid fell asleep in the car on the way home from the pediatrician. I was starving but knew we had no food in the house. GREAT! I'll have a little adventure and go thru the Burger King Drive Thru up on High Ridge! That seemed like a "Typical Stay at Home Mom" thing to do, so since I go back to work in January, I figured I'd have that SAHM experience with a nice helping of fries. I had no cash, so I hit the ATM for a twenty, then went to turn into the Burger King. I got a little nervous when it didn't say "Drive Thru" under "Burger King," but I figured EVERY fast food place has a drive thru, or else what's the point. I pulled in. NO DRIVE THRU.

This was very disappointing. I wracked my brain- where else could I get food without exiting my car?

I know there is a drive thru McD's off of exit 9 (right? That's a drive thru right, or isn't it? Now I'm doubting myself.) and I know there's a Drive Thru Dunkin Donuts (exit 6) and Donut Delite (exit 9/Glenbrook). However, I didn't feel like driving that far across town to that McD's, nor did I want donuts or bagels. I wanted fries. And ketchup. And, either a burger or chicken- I hadn't decided.

Instead, I drove home, where I made the risky move of removing the baby from the car. Fortunately he stayed asleep and gave me time to boil some soba noodles and put peanut butter on them. (Delicious.) He's still sleeping, so I'm getting time to blog. All in all this worked out for the best because I got blogging time AND healthier food, but I had gotten excited for junk food. I still wish I had that fast food option for times when the baby falls asleep in the car at an inopportune time.
Click here to read more.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bone Marrow Registry Sunday/Monday

The husband of a good friend and fellow Stamfordite is hosting a bone marrow registration drive over the next few days. One of their best friends has leukemia, so they are hoping for a match. The Monday registration site is on Harbor Drive in Stamford, so I hope some readers can take time out of their day to go and get a cheek swab! Thanks in advance for considering, and please pass the word on, especially if you know anyone who works down there.

Here is part of a note from my friend's husband:

Bone marrow transplants are used as therapy for a variety of serious conditions, including leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and other deficiencies of the blood and enzymes.

Although statistically, the chances that you will ultimately be asked to provide a transplant are low (about one in a thousand), if you are a match for somebody, you will almost certainly save their life.

The sample process is a simple cheek swab which takes seconds to complete. Indeed, it will take you longer to fill out the paperwork. If you are someday contacted to donate bone marrow, the donation process has never been easier. The vast majority of donors (about 80%) can use a PAINLESS non-surgical outpatient process similar to donating plasma.

The particulars of the two registry drives are as follows:

Sunday, December 6, 2009, 8:00am – 12:15pm
Norwalk, CT
Congregation Beth El
109 East Avenue, “Garden” Room
Norwalk, CT 06851

Monday, December 7, 2009, 11:30am – 5:00pm
Stamford, CT
CRT Capital Group LLC
262 Harbor Drive, Second Floor
Stamford, CT 06902
CONTACT: Duncan at dyin@hdam.com or (203) 856-8148
Directions can be found on company website crtllc.com Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tiger Woods Home Price vs. Stamford Prices

"Authorities were called to Tiger Woods' 2.4 million dollar home..."
"Tiger Woods pulled out of the driveway of his 2.4 million dollar home..."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard his home price quoted in the news reports. I guess they're thinking that's pricey, but I look at the mansion, and I think, "That's it?!?" That might seem like a crazy reaction to someone in a more isolated area, but I'm telling you, I can't find a decent 3 bedroom in Stamford for under 550,000, so a mansion at 5 times the price, on a lake in Florida, seems like a REALLY GOOD DEAL. Is he in a really crappy part of Florida or something?

Also, is anyone else surprised the 911 caller didn't scream at some point, "Oh my god, it's Tiger Woods!" I'm impressed by that person's discretion.

I tell ya, it's a weird story overall. I don't really buy his wife smashing out the back window of the Escalade to save him, because I don't even think the side of the car was blocked by the tree. Why would she haul him ALL THE WAY out the back, over the center row of seats, if she could just get him out a side window.

Whatever happened was pretty bad, whether Tiger and Elin had a fight, or he just hit the tree as he was running to CVS for Baby Tylenol at 2:30 am, or he was having one of those Ambien sleep-walking episodes... hitting your neighbor's tree stinks no matter who you are.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stamford Hates Leaves

I get it, leaf-collecting truck, you are backing up!!! And have been doing so for the last 10 minutes! But guess what! My baby is sleeping!!!

OK, there. I just had to get that out. (Oh, and now they are using a LEAF BLOWER to get what the BEEPING TRUCK missed. Right outside my baby's window.) I mean, I'm glad they are taking the leaves out of the road, because the leaves cause the cars speeding up and down my residential road to careen dangerously close me as they roar around the leaf piles.

Oh, it is quite a symphony of machines outside the window right now. Thank God for "Ocean Waves" on repeat on the baby's CD player.

Aaaaand now the leaf truck is speeding past my house with leaves in its plow.

Every year. Every year, this leaf craziness impresses me. Aaaaand now I hear the baby stirring. Beep, beep, beep. The war on leaves. Because leaves, I guess, are evil.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful For... Stamford Edition

I am thankful for...

--the lactation consultants at Stamford Hospital, and the mother's group they run on Wednesdays and Fridays
--the Stamford Police, who I think do a really good job, even if I mostly just see them directing traffic around annoying construction sites
--Vinny's Backyard BBQ, for being so baby-friendly, yet always having plenty of wine and thin crust pizza
--Stamford Museum and Nature Center for being free on Wednesdays, and for having such cool exhibits
--Bellini's awesome, if pricy, baby furniture
--the baby section of Bed Bath and Beyond
--Beldotti's Bakery and DiMare Pastry Shop, for making great cookies so easily available to me
--Mrs. Green's, for carrying kooky organic stuff, so I don't have to drive to Whole Foods Greenwich
--Tully Health Center Walk In Clinic
--new blog, Stamford 411, by the Advocate staff

What about you? What Stamford stuff are you thankful for? What did I forget?

I'll go back later and add more links, but for now, I hear the baby fussing!
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On Spam and Eggplant

Oh my god. The baby distracted me for a second, and rather than REJECT 28 spam comments, I PUBLISHED them. I hate myself, but this gives me a chance to share with you a really funny piece of spam I got a long time ago and saved because it was just too funny to trash. I blogged about eggplant parm, and someone left this comment:

ooo... i am an eggplant superfan! sigh. i want the spicy eggplant sooooo badly right now. with rice.
Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work. (address of product etc.)

I like the wistfulness of the opening line, and the love this spammer clearly feels for eggplant. I also like envisioning his busy work week, pining for eggplant until he has time to make it on the weekend, but not enough time to season it himself.

I am an eggplant superfan too, especially when it's in the spicy green curry from Little Buddha.
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not So Smart Car

Last night around 5:30, we passed through a quiet four way stop, and my husband said, "Whoa!" It was dark, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car passing behind us.
Me: "What, did that car almost hit us?"
Husband: "No, his lights weren't on!"
Ironically, it was a little blue Smart Car stupidly forgetting to turn on headlights, driving around Stamford almost invisible to other drivers.

You really do need to be on your toes around here. I can't tell you how many drivers seemed determined to sideswipe me as I drove around this weekend.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

High Ridge Starbucks Hideousness?

Did the High Ridge Starbucks purposefully change their design to this cold, open space, or were they just preparing for a square dance tonight? I don't know, because I haven't been there in a while. I'm hoping it's just temporary. You know, for the rave they're hosting tonight, so they had to move all the chairs out. Seriously what is going on with that place? The space seems very unwelcoming.

My husband reported that the staff was also very "enh." He waited a while for my pumpkin spice latte, then said, "Is there a pumpkin spice latte coming?" And the barista said, "Oh, I forgot it," in a very "whatever" tone. Not, "Oh, sorry 'bout that." I mean, at least pretend like you care.

Contrast that with the very friendly girls behind the counter at Beldotti's where we stopped after for some banana bread. That's what we had for our late lunch today, plus an AWESOME black and white cookie!

And then we had Layla's for dinner. It was a true day of laziness for the Stamford Talk household.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On Faces: Stamford Chimp Attack Victim

I'm scared to look at her face, I think because it's going to make me feel bad for her. Although, from what she says, she doesn't feel bad for herself, so I'm not sure why I'm being overdramatic about it. I think we've all felt pretty bad about the case from the start. What happened to Charla Nash was, obviously, terrible.

So, I appreciate the Stamford Advocate's headline:
Disturbing video: Stamford woman attacked by chimp reveals face on...

"Disturbing" is a subjective term, but I'm going to take their word for it. From what I can see in the still shot that starts the video, she simply does not have much of a face. And that's all I want to know. I feel guilty for saying that, but I have enough trouble sleeping as it is without having that image to think about as I lie awake trying to get back to sleep after the baby's nighttime wakings.

Pretty amazing recovery she's made, though. I recall they were worried about brain injury, and if Nash can go on Oprah and advocate for tougher exotic animal laws, she must be doing OK. I'm happy for her daughter, that even if her mother is physically disfigured, she can at least have an intact personality. Charla Nash seems like a pretty cool lady from what I've read about her.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby-Friendly Yoga for Moms!

I have found some amazing stuff in my months home with my baby.
1. Stamford Hospital Moms Group (every new mom should go to this- Fridays at 11- I made a bunch of awesome new friends plus I love the lactation consultants who run it!)
2. Baby Yoga (the babies do the yoga!) at Elements Yoga in Darien
3. Fairfield County Attachment Parenting Meetup Group
4. My latest thing, Baby-Friendly Yoga at Glow Yoga in Greenwich.

I used to work with Jenn, Glow's owner, and she happens to have a baby about the same age as mine. We wanted to do yoga together with other moms, but do it in a way that the babies could be there. I wasn't sure how our crawlers would allow the moms to do yoga, but we met up today for the first class and it went great.

Basically, the yoga studio is set up with places for the babies to play while the moms do yoga. The non-crawlers can chill on a blanket, and for the crawlers, well, we have an arsenal of containment and entertainment. Pack and play, exersaucer, walker, or just let them roam. In the picture above, you see Jenn containing a baby while a mom does a move. The other great thing about baby-friendly yoga is that there is no pressure for your kid to "be good" or "be quiet" during the class. If you have to get off your mat to feed your kid or change a diaper, no one finds that weird.

Please contact Jenn at jennifferahanson@gmail.com to sign up for the baby-friendly class, or for any of her other classes. She is a wonderful teacher, and in class today, she helped me modify moves because I have a) hip pain and b) elbow pain. (So, other moms should not be intimidated, because I am here to set low standards for you all.)

Please pass the word on to any new(ish) moms that you know!

Glow is just off exit 5 in Greenwich, so very convenient to Stamford.
Click here to read more.

It's That Time of Year Again: Summer--> Leaf Piles--> Dark Winter

This is the best time of fall.
The leaves are a beautiful color as they float to the ground.
Everyone's football team still has a chance.
It's sometimes warm in the afternoon.
We haven't set the clocks back yet, so it's still light at 5pm.
The stress of the impending holidays hasn't yet hit.
It's not unpleasantly cold.
Kids still feel OK about school.

In general, I don't yet feel the time crunch that starts to happen after Halloween, when we set the clocks back, and when the daytime is pinched by early darkness, and when it feels like there's just not enough time to get things done before it's pitch black out. Once the Christmas shopping starts, that's when the stress starts. Money and time go out the window. It takes a lot to not fall into that harried state.


Winter is coming.

The leaf piles are starting to build in the street... but not yet forcing me to walk fully in the road... with my baby, amid all the speeding, careless drivers who think that 3 feet is plenty of space for their SUV to give a stroller. Oh, I feel the rage building.

As the leaf piles grow, I do feel the time starting to close in, but I don't think it will feel bad until after Halloween, when it's- UGH!- November! I'm going to work hard to maintain my "everything is cool" feeling that I've had ever since the baby was born.

I'm looking forward to the holiday lights downtown... and... more afternoons at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center... What else does Stamford have to offer us this winter? I need something to hang on to!

Related posts:
-- October 21, 2008-- Leaf Piles: Fall, FC Style

--November 27, 2008-- Blue Holiday Lights Downtown: I Like 'Em

--November 19, 2008-- Let's Get Rid of These Leaves!
Click here to read more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Youth Football Follies

Local sports teams practice on a field near my house where I sometimes walk. Last week, the main sport seemed to be the coaches yelling at the kids. There was so much yelling that I started to think it really wasn't a football practice so much as the "mad coach show." Here are some (pretty much) direct quotes:

"It's week six! WEEK- SIX! And you STILL don't huddle right! You don't come OUT of the huddle right! You don't even line UP right! ...And could you NOT interject a comment after everything I say!"

I should really start bringing pen and paper on my walks, because there were some other funny lines I don't remember.

Here's what I've learned after 11 years of teaching: if you have to yell at kids about the same thing twice, the problem is YOU, not the kids. It's a management issue.

Here's what I suggest to these yelling coaches: Rather than berating, state the problem, the desired solution, and the consequence. (And probably a reward.)
For example: "I'm seeing you line up too slowly. When I say 'go,' you line up as fast as you can. If you don't do it in under 4 seconds, you are ALL running laps. If there's improvement by the end of practice, I'll let you run one less sprint than usual." They'll probably have to run laps twice, but then they'll get lined up faster for the rest of practice.
(Oh, and if anyone walks during laps, the whole team has to keep running until the slowest player finishes.)

I teach the age group of these kids, so I have a lot of sympathy for the coaches. Kids aren't easy to manage, especially middle school boys who are trying to look cool for each other.
But I also have sympathy for the kids who are having their time wasted getting yelled at. A teacher or coach who has a good management system will not have to yell. When you are new, though, you don't understand it's actually more important to have a good management system (and maybe get nothing done at first) rather than try to get stuff done with kids who sense you don't have a good structure to your discipline.

Kids, especially boys, love consequences. Once I had a very boy-heavy class, and I read up on what works best with boys (keep them active, lots of competition, strict rules). I ran my classroom like a football team. "OK, people! Here is what I wanna see! If I don't see it, here's what's gonna happen to you! I repeat: Do this, do not do that, and if I like what I see, I'll reduce your homework a bit. GO!" And when someone messed up, I punished them. They LOVED it. They ate it up. They loved when I threatened them and then followed through on it. They were almost ecstatic.

I'm not joking, they'd cheer for me when I punished someone who didn't follow the expected behavior. It was like we were in a gladiator arena. They would jump out of their chairs and roar their approval.
(And when I say punish, I mean, the person had to like, come after school to close my windows, or be the last to leave for lunch. But if you say it's a punishment, they interpret something little like that as undesirable. The kids were fabulous, so we had a good time with it all. And they did some great writing for me.)
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama Visits the West Side!

Maybe he's been reading Stamford Talk, because that is my old stomping grounds, which I blogged about in "Southfield Area: Diversity, Boats, Hoods" (includes description of my famous public rollerblading wipeout).

Obama swung by Eastern Land Management on Selleck St, between Southfield Ave and Exit 6. I feel kind of good that Obama saw a not fabulous part of town before hitting the swanky Hilton. I mean, the rest of Stamford is so boring-looking! (Except Cove- Cove area is interesting looking.)
A commenter on the previous post said that Eastern Land Management received some federal stimulus money. Wonder what for? From the ELM site, they are a landscaping company, nothing too complicated. I guess local small businesses received some stimulus money?

I'm watching News 12 but not seeing much Obama coverage.
Click here, though, for an Advocate photo of Marine One landing in Stamford!
Click here to read more.

WHAT Local Biz is Obama Gonna Visit Today?

I have no clue. What ONE local business is worthy of a stop by Obama? Guesses? Umm, Colony Pizza? Ummm, St. Luke's Lifeworks? UBS? RBS?

I need to get a good tip so the baby and I can make a sign that says "We Love Obama"- no- "Kick Butt Barack." Yeah, that's a good message. It expresses my support, rather than unabashed, unconditional love, and encourages him to keep his nose to the grindstone to solve our nation's problems.

If you don't believe I will make a sign, you don't know me at all.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flu Shot Has Flown the Coop, but Obama Will Be Landing in Stamford

I'm hating myself because Stamford Hospital ran out of regular flu vaccine before I could get my act together and get the shot.
However, if I get a glimpse of President Obama's helicopter tomorrow, I will feel better. I know he's arriving at the Hilton for a fundraiser, but does anyone know what time?
(And uh isn't this going to cause some traffic problems especially because the Hilton is right by 95? Mental note do NOT go near train station Friday night!)
Edit, Fri AM: Offfff course when I checked my google reader at 3 am, there are three articles in the Advocate about this! A Stamford Times article says the fundraising dinner starts at 5, and that before Obama goes there, he is making a stop at a local business. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THAT BUSINESS IS, PEOPLE. The baby and I really want to catch a glimpse of the O.

An Advocate article says, in what I can only assume is a joke, "Though President Obama's motorcade is expected to arrive at the Stamford Hilton during Friday evening rush hour, police do not expect significant traffic issues." That must be an attempt to be funny. Anyone who's spent any time on 95 knows that a spare tire on the side of the road can cause significant issues, much less Marine One swooping by.

If I didn't have this baby, and if the weather were going to be nice, I might go hang out near the train station. But it's cloudy and cool, and I'm not really sure if it's responsible mothering to drag your baby to the Stamford train station and hang out there for an hour or two just to see a helicopter. But if I could get a hint of what that local business is....
Click here to read more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Swine Flu Freaking Me Out

I am freaking out about swine flu.

I was already freaking out last week after a friend told me her friend's 5 year old was hospitalized in TX with kidney failure from H1N1. This was a previously healthy kid.
THEN I got an email from a friend in VA yesterday. Her coworker's kid went to a birthday party 2 weeks ago at an elementary school. Every kid at the party came down with the swine flu, and the birthday boy died. Again, a previously healthy kid. Correction: article says the boy had a pre-existing heart condition. Still.

My friend Meg of Fairfield County Child has a post up about where to get the swine flu vaccine (summary: good luck, places have it totally randomly, like the Darien Y has it today, I think the nose spray version). Some pediatricians have the nose spray available, I think, for ages 2-4. Mine doesn't, though. It's a crapshoot, pretty much.

I am definitely getting the swine flu shot or spray for myself. I am leaning toward getting it for my baby, too. I cannot imagine the effects of the vaccine could be worse than the actual swine flu and its accompanying complications. For goodness' sake, the kid ended up in the ER (twice) when we got the flu in CA, and I don't think that was even swine flu. Or maybe it was. But he never had a fever. But they say if you had flu this year, 95% chance it was swine. So maybe we did. That flu we got was certainly frighteningly contagious, which swine supposedly is.

I suppose if I were going to stay home with the baby all winter, and forego playdates and baby classes until flu season is over, I might feel OK about not getting him vaccinated. But one, I don't want to be a total hermit, and two, I'm going to be teaching in January, and he's going to be in daycare, so both he and I will be around a lot of germs. Sigh. I hate to submit my kid to untested vaccines, but this vaccine is made the same way all the other flu vaccines are.

My question is, why WOULDN'T I vaccinate him for swine flu? I'm getting him all the other standard vaccines, including regular flu, so why wouldn't I do one more? He's far more likely to come into contact with swine flu than polio or hepatitis B.

I do see how it seems crazy to give little kids so many vaccines, especially in the first year. I mean, it sucks either way, whether I do it or not.

Good luck to all of you, especially parents, in making your decisions.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Flu Vaccines: Regular Here, Swine Vacc a Comin

I think I'm gonna bite the bullet and get the swine flu vaccine.
1. I'm a teacher.
2. I have a baby. He already had flu/stomach bug in September, and the sight of your infant vomiting is not pleasant, even if it doesn't go on and on for five days like my baby's did. (For all I know, we already had swine flu.)

Now, Stamford is not yet offering swine flu vaccine to the regular population, so I can't get it yet, but I'm going to swing by Tully next week to get the regular flu shot. My baby already got his first of his two-dose regular flu shot (my pediatricians, like many others, have not yet taken a position on giving kids swine flu shots- I'll cross that bridge later). I do know that I'm going to get the swine flu vaccine, and I'll probably make my husband get it.

Check out this Conn Post article for info.

I'm no vaccine pusher, especially for tiny babies, but my baby's flu was really hard on him- I don't want that to happen again. We had to go to the ER and get IV fluids because of the repeated vomiting, and then after that, he stopped eating/drinking for a few days. It was not good, and he was really only better after a whole week of round the clock care on my part, which was also pretty hard on me.

I used to have a much more wary view of vaccines, but know that I've seen how hard a little old flu can be on a baby, I am knocking down my pediatrician's door to get whatever vacc they are offering (mostly an exaggeration, I'm just saying, I now feel way better about vaccines even though they are a little controversial).
Click here to read more.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Raising Awareness for Juvenile Myositis

As a Stamford blogger, I am fortunate to know most of the other local bloggers, including the wonderful Kevin McKeever of Always Home and Uncool. Kevin has asked our blog community to post the following essay to raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago.

*

Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002 -- the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.

Stamford Talk Note: Even if you don't donate, I think it's important to be aware of this disease in case your child or the child of someone you know ever shows symptoms like this.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cove Beach Marking: Driving Grown Men Insane

Well of course a 43 year old rollerblader attacked a man and his 4 year old son on a trike! Have YOU ever tried to decipher the markings of the track and path at Cove Beach?

From the Advocate: Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, Karamon was skating down the path when he allegedly shouted and cursed at the father that his four-year-old son on a tricycle was in a designated area for in-line skaters, Cooney said.
"Mr. Karamon's contention is that the four-year-old was on the wrong side of the path," Cooney said. "But the path is for use by everybody and we can't have Rollerbladers or anybody cursing out people."
A short while later Karamon was approaching the family again and collided with the father who shielded his four- and two-year-old sons, Cooney said.

Well then, what DO those signs on the round track mean when they show a bike and a skate on the inner loop? Doesn't that mean "this track is for fast people, slow traffic stay out of the way?" Although I won't attack your kid over it, I always thought that slow traffic was supposed to stay on the outside.

I blame the annoying signage for this incident. It really does give the impression that walkers and slow things should be in one lane to let fast bikers and bladers pass by in the other. The problem is that Cove gives the impression that it can be used by really fast people on wheels, when, evidently according to this article, there are NO safety measures to ensure that 4 year olds on trikes don't get run down by testosterone-raging middle aged male rollerbladers.

Stamford Parks and Rec, this is your fault!

(And, that guy obviously LOST HIS POOPIE.)

My baby's shrieking, gotta run! We both have a cold and are hating life right now.

Click here to read more.

Friday, September 25, 2009

DO NOT THROW ME AWAY!!!

That was the stern- and ironic!- message written on a cardboard box that my husband put out with the trash this week.

Husband: The guys didn't take that cardboard box.
Me, in "duh" voice: They don't TAKE cardboard, you have to tie it up with string for recycling.
Husband: Of course, it also probably didn't help that you'd written "Do not throw away" on the box.

At this point, I collapsed in laughter. I forgot that I'd written "Do not throw me away!" on that box to remind myself that it contained a cool, yet very lightweight, serving platter.

I wonder what the trash guys thought when they read the box. The really embarrassing part of the story is that another side of the box said, "Use me for a par-tay."

I obviously was NOT going to put the box outside like that. I was going to bundle it up with the other 1,000 boxes in our basement. My husband finds it hard to believe that they won't just take our boxes, so sometimes he brazenly leaves them out with the Toter trash bin.
I laugh whenever I think about the ridiculous message(s) on the box.
Click here to read more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Little Buddha: Curry of Champions

A friend came over with her baby to visit today, and we ordered curry from Little Buddha: she the red with chicken, I the green with beef. I scarfed mine down while my tired baby fussed in a bouncy seat, and she managed to eat hers while her son military crawled around my living room, eating my shoes, shredding my Shape magazine, and pulling over our fireplace wood on himself.

I don't think I'll ever order that red curry, because the green transports me to another world... a world of very spicy food unlike anything else in Stamford. All I needed today was a glass of white wine, or maybe a pale ale, to go with that... but maybe that would have transported me too far!

You can't go wrong with Little Buddha for delivery; our total was 19 bucks for lunch portions. We both would have liked more rice, but you know, us new moms are trying to fit back into our pants... so that's OK.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starbucks Really is Leaving Me

Today I was really, really tired. I got motivated to go to the grocery store with the idea that I could grab a latte at the Starbucks inside the Super Stop and Shop. After wrapping up in the dairy and frozen food, I headed back to the Starbucks near the produce and entrance. IT WAS GONE. The Starbucks was gone. The chairs and tables were there, but the coffee-making area was full of boxes. "I'm not going to freak out," I muttered to the baby. (It's a testament to my fatigue level that I didn't notice it when I was IN the produce area upon entering the store.)

I had heard that the Ridgeway Starbucks (on Summer St., right by LA Fitness and Old Navy) was closing, but the SSS closing was a shocker to me. On reflection, the SSS was much less busy that the Ridgeway one, so it makes sense. Still, that didn't help my tired and grumpy mood.

I guess we're left with High Ridge and Ferguson Library locations. Well, Starbucks, it was nice having you so close to me, but now that's over. First the Newfield, now this. We doubted that Stamford was a five Starbucks town, and we were right. There may be another Starbucks I'm forgetting, but the baby is fussing, so I gotta run!
Click here to read more.

I'd Hammer Out a Love- Between- My Brothers and My Sisters- Aaaaall Over this Laaaaand!

I'm sad to hear about Mary Travers' death. I met her once and she was really kind. Cheers to her for making such inspiring music- and for marching for Civil Rights, which I didn't know.
Mary, of Peter Paul and Mary, passed away at Danbury Hospital; she'd been fighting leukemia the past few years. My condolences to her family and friends. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To the West Coast and Back

Wow. Blogging again. Feels weird.

About my long absence: we took a trip to Seattle and California, and thought I'd have time to do some blogging there. Ha! On our second day in CA, both Baby Q (almost 6 months now!) and I got the flu. I got better in a day, but for Q, the next two weeks were composed of 4 doctor visits, 2 ER visits (with 2 bags of IV fluid), countless calls to doctors and lactation consultants, and a pound lost that we are still struggling to regain. We've been home for a few days and are lying low, trying to get back into our routine and make sure he is eating enough. This is the first morning I've had time to set him aside to play while I open my laptop!

On a positive note, Seattle was pretty darn cool, and so was CA (San Fran area). I got to to see my niece and nephews (2, 4 and 6) and they are each so special. My husband flew out after the second ER trip, and Q pretended like he was better, so we got to hit Napa briefly. Of course, the night my husband left, Q vomited 4 times. That was a week ago, and he's been fine since.

As usual, mad props to the lactation consultants at Stamford Hospital, specifically Ellen and Eva, who counseled me over the phone while I was away. They are such a valuable resource, and they are FREE, which is amazing. I highly recommend their Friday Mother's Group to all new moms, breastfeeding or not- I made such awesome friends through it and learned a lot.
Click here to read more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laundry Drama on Newfield

Stamfordites, please help my friend H. She came up from NYC to help me out today, and her hard-earned 20 dollar bill got eaten by a change machine at Newfield Green Laundromat. Here is her sob story; let me know if you can help her out!

I just moved into a new apartment in the city with no laundry facilities, and I had two baskets full of laundry. I thought, “Hey, while I hang out with friends, I’ll go drop some laundry in the washer and dryer at a local Laundromat in Stamford. No big deal. Drop it off, move it from washer to dryer, fold it- well, you get it.” So, I just ran to Newfield Green Laundromat at 575 Newfield Ave. I’ve never been there but it looks clean and fine.

I actually had a feeling as I was lugging my two baskets, soap and crisp $20.00 bill into the facility that I might lose my money in the change machine. This has happened to me once before in Riverside, CT where after calling the owners of the Laundromat, they came right over and gave me the 20 back without question.

Inside Newfield, I found a little nook, set my baskets down, and made my way to the machine to change my 20. There was woman before me getting money and it all looked good: 1.00 in, 4 quarters out. Up next. I choose the left side (should have chosen the right side that was obviously working). 20 dollars in…. nothing. Great.

There were several people around so kicking the machine seemed a bit juvenile. Oh well, I kicked it once anyway. Then I looked for a form to fill out to indicate that the left side of the machine wasn’t working. NO forms. Oh, there’s a basket for the forms and a place to put the form and a note to the company, but there’s no forms. So I look for a number for the management. It’s about 4:15, so I think, of course, someone should answer; it’s within business hours. No one answers. NOT EVEN A MACHINE. I know I’m in the 21st century. Weren’t answering machines invented a while ago?

Does anyone know the people at that laundry place? I’d love to get my friend H her money back.

H, to me as I’m editing this and getting it ready to post:
“BTW, you can also add that I almost cried, and that I’m about to get kicked out of my illegal sublet, so this is the icing on my cake.”
Click here to read more.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stamford Mall: Elevator Hell and Annoying Kiosk People

I realized I was going to have to blog about my visit to the Stamford Mall Friday when I overhead a young hipster saying to his mother or possibly grandmother, "...ended up in Hoboken in nothing but a cowboy hat." I saw them two hours later, and he was still talking her ear off- he was languidly going on and on, and I didn't see her speak a word or even make a facial expression. I wondered if she had hired him to entertain her with stories as she walked. Endless, unstopping stories.

I also wanted to publicly rage about a mother with a stroller- who has no other choice but to use the mall's slow, small elevators- having to WAIT while several elevators filled with teens go by. I had to wait a full couple of minutes when I got to the mall for an elevator to even stop and open. The other lady waiting with a stroller said three other full ones had already stopped and she had to let them pass. And they're not full of people with leg problems, or older people- it's thirteen year olds, and sometimes guys in their 20s. In the future, I'm going to develop something to say to these people. I'm going to jam my stroller in the door to hold it open, and say, "Does anyone in here, who has perfectly healthy legs, want to get out so I, who cannot use the stairs, can use this elevator?" And then I'll hold the door until I get some answers. (Actually, I wouldn't do this, because I wouldn't put my baby between myself and the people. I guess I'd use my foot, although the stroller would be more dramatic.)

The only other thing I want to complain about is that kiosk outside the Apple store, where the person selling that nail buffer calls out as you pass, "Can I ask you a question?" See, they get you with that, because people don't want to say, "No." I usually just say, "No thanks." Well, when I was at the mall Friday, I was pushing my baby in the stroller and talking to my boss, who I'd just run into. The lady calls out, "Can I ask you a question?" Her question was totally inappropriate, because I was in the middle of a conversation, so I stammered, "Uh, no, uh, busy." I'm not going to stop and let you file my nail while my boss and my baby wait. DUH.

Back to the elevators. Other issues with them:
1. The floors outside the elevator are not marked. So, you get into the elevator, then realize you have no idea what number floor you are trying to get because you have no idea which number floor you are leaving. Brilliant. Like I am supposed to assume I enter the mall on floor 3, which is the ground floor?
2. For all except the new elevators by H and M, the elevator door is so narrow that only a stroller can fit through. Therefore, if I need to get off, and there are people between me and the door, those people have to get completely OFF the elevator to let me off.
3. Then, the doors start to close before they are back in.
4. God forbid my stroller and I get in when there are already people in the elevator. Then, I'M blocking the doors, and I have to get off to let them off, then swivel the stroller around to quickly leap back in as the doors start to shut on me, or my stroller.
5. Macy's only has escalators. So, if I want to go up a floor in Macy's, I have to go back out to the elevator by the Apple store. (And pass the lady or man who yells, "Can I ask you a question?") Or, maybe Macy's does have elevators hidden somewhere. I'll have to try to figure that out next time I'm there.

So anyway, going to Stamford mall is now really annoying, because I have to use tiny elevators full of teenagers. I suppose I could wear my baby in my sling, but then I'll be wearing a 16 pound baby, plus carrying a diaper bag and whatever I buy (and climbing up and down stairs with all that, or hopping on and off escalators). No, you sorta need a stroller for the mall, but unfortunately, Stamford Mall's poorly thought out elevators can make stroller navigation really frustrating.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bad Drivers: City of Stamford's Fault!

AWESOME article in the Advocate about traffic. It starts: Stamford is a city of speeders, red-light runners, tailgaters, lane-changers, horn-honkers and ignorers of stop signs and double yellow lines. Mitch Mailman thinks he knows why. Too many traffic lights.

Essentially, we are being driven insane by traffic lights. Well, guess what. I have a solution. Instead of fuming as you are sitting at a light, open your smart phone and check your email. Problem solved. I don't think that's dangerous. Make the most of your time.

The article focuses a lot of Havemeyer Lane, the road b/w Greenwich and Stamford near Stillwater. I travel that road all the time on the way to work. From the article:
Besides all the stop-and-go, the signals create backups blocks away, prevent cars from moving when traffic is light, and fuel aggressive behavior, he said. Since the city replaced three stop signs with a traffic light at Palmer's Hill Road and Havemeyer Lane about six weeks ago, Mailman has heard two crashes... That's because the signs forced cars coming from all three directions to slow down then stop. But "with the signal, people accelerate into the intersection when it's green, and may even speed up when it's yellow," he said.

I was kind of pissed when they put in the light, because I saw NO NEED for it. For the most part, people completely respected those stop signs. Occasionally, maybe once a week, people would come to a rolling stop. I'd shake my fist at them, but then continue on my merry, unimpeded-by-a-stoplight way. POINTLESS. That's a POINTLESS light. It took away the ONE daily opportunity I had to cooperate with fellow drivers, waving on the person whose turn it was. For the most part, people behaved really well at those stoplights. Now, we're just jerks trying to fly through the intersection before the light changes. I'm guilty of that. When I'm coming from Greenwich via Palmer's Hill, and my baby is screaming in the backseat, and I see that green light, I go a little faster to make sure I make the light. If there were a stop sign, I'd be starting to slow, making it a safer intersection, and making less chance of me T-boning someone who tries to make a left in front of me onto Havemeyer.

The article also mentions the roundabout on Havemeyer: Drivers didn't like it, for example, when the city installed a landscaped roundabout on Havemeyer Lane instead of a light, Poola said. "We got a lot of complaints," he said.
Complaints about what? Having to slow down from 45 on that 25 mph road? Before that traffic circle, people flew- very dangerous on that residential road. Calm the freak down, people. Actually, a couple days ago I almost giggled out loud at that circle as I watched two motorists try to weave through the circle without slowing down. They looked like total idiots yanking the wheel and swerving, but I had to admire their ambitious, NASCAR-like moves.

Anyway, my point: the traffic light at Palmer's Hill/Havemeyer: STUPID.
The traffic circle: annoying but OK, because people exiting their neighborhoods need to be protected from speeding jerks. I don't speed on that road, but I do accelerate to make the light at Palmer's Hill.

I realize I sound a bit hypocritical because I admit I speed sometimes, but you can't deny the effect that lights have on driving. If a safe driver like me is encouraged to speed by a light, that's bad.

See, the city of Stamford IS making us bad drivers!
Click here to read more.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Marriott International Inc. Apology: Too Little Too Late

According to the Stamford Times: The owners of a Stamford hotel where a woman was raped at gunpoint in front of her children are now expressing "regret" and "sympathy" for the attack after hotel lawyers, in court documents, said she was careless and negligent.

Nice words, but they do not take away from the sting in the statement from the lawyers. Your lawyers said she "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities," which, obviously, is a bunch of BS since she was in your parking garage. If SHE should have known better than to park there, then YOU should have known better than to LET her, stupidheads. If your parking garage is so unsafe that she shouldn't have parked there, why did you not provide better security for your guests?

In the words of Jojo, teenybopper singer, your recent statement of kindness is Too Little, Too Late. Talk to your lawyers, Marriott, and have them revise THEIR statement.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thai Chi's Green Curry Rivals Little Buddha

Actually, I'd say it beats it in the spicy category. WOW!
TC is less sweet/creamy, so probably made with less coconut milk (or whatever, I'm no chef) than LB and its Darien sibling Little Thai Kitchen.
TC's meal contained a lot of perfectly cooked eggplant, allowing me to believe that I was eating healthy. It was a good night of delivery food.
I have a sweet tooth, so I you forced me to choose one, I'd have to go with Little Buddha's sweeter version. (And I'd ask them to make it as spicy as Thai Chi's!)
Oh- and I have to also point out- the non-creaminess of TC's green curry makes it go better with a beer, in my opinion.
PS this post is short because I'm on the iPhone.
Click here to read more.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stamford Marriott (Partially) Blames Rape Victim

Oh, Stamford Marriott. Get ready for the worst press you could possibly ask for. The bad press they're getting for essentially saying a rape victim should have known better than to park in their parking garage is going to be so much more damaging than the amount the victim was suing them for. You just don't say that kind of stuff, Marriott, even if you think it.
Says the Stamford Times, "A Stamford hotel where a woman was raped at gunpoint in front of her children says the victim was careless and negligent. The papers filed last month in Superior Court by the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa say the victim "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."
Um, was she in an abandoned parking lot at 2 am? No, she was in a parking garage that was supposed to be monitored, in broad daylight. So, I think she was being plenty sensible. Therefore, Stamford Marriott, you are a bunch greedy jerks. (For anyone who is interested, there is a Facebook page called "Boycott Marriott Hotels for not supporting sexual assault victims.")

The Marriott's insensitivity and total suckiness gets worse. The Stamford Advocate reports, "The victim's attorneys also argue the hotel has inadvertently identified her to acquaintances by asking them to testify. The hotel also subpoenaed several people involved with the family, including a Pilates instructor, friends, tennis partners and the children's baby sitter. The woman's attorneys argue the individuals subpoenaed do not know anything about the attack, that the subpoenas inadvertently identified her to those people and that it was merely an effort by the hotel's attorneys to intimidate her."

You bunch of bastards, excuse my language, have severely mismanaged the case. Seriously, you should drop it now in an attempt to save your image.

Seems to me the hotel had plenty of time to have prevented the rape. As the Advocate states, "The woman, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, claims in the suit that Fricker had been in the hotel and garage acting suspiciously days before the attack, as well as the afternoon of the attack, and the hotel failed to notice him, apprehend him or make him leave. During the attack, security personnel did not see or stop him, the suit claims. The hotel also claims as a special defense that the acts were unforeseen and beyond their control, that the woman and her children failed to properly "mitigate their damages," and that the hotel had not been notified about Fricker."

Please spread the word about the Stamford Marriott's total loserdom, or join the Facebook page and pass it on.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sugar Ray Photos by Dru Nadler

I love me some Dru Nadler. She's got a great slideshow up of the Sugar Ray Alive @ Five Show. I have to admit I'm completely biased, because she photographed my wedding. If you go through the 60 photos at the Advocate's site, I hope you'll see the humor in some of them. She really does have the ability to capture people being silly, foolish, and fabulous.

I totally love the photos Dru got at my wedding, so if you are looking for a photog for your wedding, I can't imagine a better person. She works for the Advocate but also has her own business (obviously, if she did my wedding). Here's her personal site. She don't mess around.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Green Curry at Stamford's Little Buddha: Flawless!

A few days ago, I lamented that I chose cashew chicken (boring!!!) as my first dish from the new Little Buddha. Yesterday my youngest sister was in town (she just took the NY bar exam- good job, K!). We wanted to go to Carter's to look at baby clothes, and Little Buddha was right across the street. I figured we could roll the stroller up for some outdoor seating, so we called my husband to come join us. Well, turns out there is no outdoor seating, so we left the stroller in the car, but there was just enough room inside for us to eat quite comfortably. There are 16 seats or so, and we sat right in the middle, taking turns holding the baby.
I was SO pleased with my green curry. I found myself wishing for a glass of white to go with it, but I didn't see a wine list anywhere. (Does anyone know if they have wine and beer?) That curry made me break a sweat, so you know it was good.
You must check out Little Buddha if you haven't done so already. Not every dish is spicy, so there will be something for everyone. AND THEY DELIVER!!! See menu here.

Little Buddha is very baby friendly. I'll repeat my pretty basic criteria for that:
1. Table are not so close that your baby is going to be in someone else's face
2. Staff does not act like you are an a-hole for wanting to eat with a kid.
In face, out waiter even made goo-goo faces at my baby. Now that's baby-friendly!

Two complaints about Little Buddha:
1. It was a little warm inside. Possibly because of the enormous window and the hot day, combined with the kitchen right near the eating area. It wasn't hot, it just wasn't cold, and on a hot day, a cold resto is nice.
2. The food took surprisingly long considering the resto only had 5-7 other people there. I assume it's because they were busy doing takeout orders? It wasn't a problem for me, but my husband was antsy to get back to work.

No bigs.

Click here to read more.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Baby-Friendly Rye, and Friendly People

I don't think I'm THAT appealing-looking that I deserved all the friendly attention I got in Rye, NY last week. Therefore, I declare Rye a friendly place. It's friendly to babies and to people who have babies. Let me explain.

Baby-friendly criteria:
1. Easy park and walk.
2. Restos with room for strolles.
3. Restos who don't act like you are crazy for wanting to bring your baby out to dinner.
4. Dessert place within walking distance of a dinner place.
Baby Q and I met up with a friend who was in town from Philly for business. We had a wonderful dinner at Rye Bar and Grill. There was plenty of room for the stroller, and no one looked perturbed when I had to stand up halfway through the meal to rock Q to sleep in his ERGObaby carrier. (Success!) The chopped Cobb salad was super easy to eat while wearing a baby, and darn if that pinot grigio wasn't nice and cold.
After dinner, friendly locals pointed us to Longford's ice cream. The place was pretty small, so my friend went in to get us cones while I sat down with Baby Q outside.

Here comes the friendly to adults part.

"Did you get to eat your dinner?"
"Did you get to eat your dinner?"
I realized the woman beside me was actually talking to me. A stranger- was talking- to me. In- a friendly- way. (Huh? I didn't think that happened up here.)
Me: "Oh, sorry! Yes!"
Woman: "We saw you at dinner!"
Me: "Oh, that's right, duh! Yeah, he finally fell asleep. After I dropped some arugula in his mouth by accident."
The woman, her friend and I had a chuckle, then they left with their band of older children.

"Do you love that stroller?" Now, a lady on the other side of the store's door is calling over to me.
Me: "Enh, it's OK." I realize she has the same stroller. "Oh- why do you love it?"
We then discuss the stroller, I ask how old her baby girl (turns out to be a boy) is, I compliment her excellent post-baby figure, she comes over to tell me how cute Q is, then she remarks how convenient breastfeeding is (I had gotten out my nursing cover), and after she walks away, I wish I lived in Rye so I could befriend her, because she seems really awesome.

Rye was the first town I lived in when I moved up here. I had a nice year, and near the end of the year, met my fabulous friends Wendy and Christopher, who now run a media empire in Fargo ND. A good friend from my birth class lives in Rye. I kind of want to live in Rye, although I bet housing prices are significantly higher than Stamford! But my, that is a walking-friendly, baby-friendly, friendly town.

I can't believe OTHER people were friendly to me. I have stopped being friendly to strangers, because this area has beaten that out of me. Maybe I need to consider changing my ways and become friendly to strangers again. I'll think about it.
Click here to read more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bloggers and Twitterers Unite!

As you may know, Stamford Talk is on twitter. I follow a bunch of local people who seem pretty cool, so we arranged to tweetup, meeting up at a local bar the same night as our monthly blogger meetup. (Many local bloggers also tweet.)
Monster B's is a great place for a meetup because it's spacious and usually not too crowded. We had a crew of 12 or so, including
babyslanguage, stationstops, On Stamford (mfamous), Fairfield After Dark, CT Mom, and Always Home and Uncool. (If I didn't mention you, sorry, it's mostly because you don't have a blog and I figure you might not want the publicity. :)

I personally could only focus about 20% of my brain power on the tweetup because I (as always) had my baby with me. About 60% of my brain power is usually on him, and another 20% is usually spent on my general distractibility and spaciness. The people who were able to (relatively) fully focus (and drink more than half of a beer) seemed to be having fun.

It's always nice to meet people in person with whom you correspond online. Almost always, those people end up being very cool, at least in the FC!
Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Little Buddha Open for Bisnass!

Little Buddha, the new Thai resto on Summer St., is a sibling of the very good Little Thai Kitchen of Darien. I was totally into LTK's excellent spicy green curry when I was trying to induce my own labor as my due date approached and passed in March. (Total fail, but it was delicious.)

We got delivery from Little Buddha last week, and I have to say, we completely screwed up the chance to try interesting food. I thought the cashew chicken might have a fun kick, but it was just ordinary Chinese food with slightly more spice. I should have gone for the curry or some other dramatic dish. The husband got a boring steak dish as usual. At 15 bucks each, the price was not worth the dull food. Next time I'm going to get more bang for my buck and just get the curry, which I know is amazing.

I haven't been inside Little Buddha, but a friend said it's pretty small and not stroller-friendly, so if you take your baby there, you should probably wear him or her! (I know, baby-wearing sounds weird, but it is super-convenient. I ate dinner out last night and the night before while wearing my baby in the fabulous ERGObaby carrier, available at our fab local Bed Bath and Beyond baby section.)
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stamford Restaurant Ratings: First Appear Useful, Then Useless, Then Useful Again!

As you know if you read the Stamford Advocate, the city is now posting its restaurant inspection results online.
Below 80 is one hat: poor compliance!
80-96 is two hats and acceptable compliance, and 90-100 is three hats, best compliance. The overlap from 90-96 has to do with the type of violation- click on graphic to right for more details, or see Advocate article.
Sounds like a great idea, but when I read further, here is the problem: the patron has no idea if the restaurant got a poor rating for something important, like food being stored improperly, or something smaller, like a back door being left open. See quote from article:
Sometimes the smallest circumstance can trigger a low score and poor compliance rating, managers said. A March inspection at Bennett's Steak and Fish on Spring Road left the establishment with a one-hat rating, denoting poor compliance. A ceiling tile was missing and the back door was open, manager Matt Salvatore said.
"It was such little things," Salvatore said. "But again, coming from someone living in Stamford, I like knowing when my family goes out to eat, every restaurant is being dealt with that way."

I mean, first of all, close your back door because flies can get in, but second, I agree with the dude. Something not so egregious can make your restaurant look like a total one-hat dump. Now, the ratings seem useless.
However, I do appreciate how motivating that one-hat possibility will be to make sure all details are squared away. Therefore, these at-a-second-glance useless ratings are, at a third glance, probably a great idea. As the article says, The site shows many local eateries that turned poor scores into excellent ones, such as Capriccio Cafe on Bedford Street, Amore Restaurant on Hope Street and Coromandel Cuisine of India on Broad Street.

Go, Stamford! There is nothing I like more than seeing people and places strong-armed into following rules that protect their patron's tummies.

The ratings are actually kinda complex- like, you can't read it once and fully understand and remember the system (especially if your baby is crabbing in his crib while you are blogging about it). Quote:
Stamford used the beaming face icon because the 100-point scale can be misleading, city health inspector Ronald Miller warned. Restaurants with a score below 80, or a single four-point violation automatically fail, so a restaurant with a score of 96 could have failed its inspection, he said.
On the 62-item inspection sheet, there are 10 possible four-point violations, such as food storage at improper temperature and inadequate sanitation practices. If unchecked, four-point violations can lead to food-borne illness.

I mean, geez, all those numbers. OK, must go take care of tired baby!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm Boycotting the Rogue Farmer's Market

I'm still pretty irritated that another farmer's market opened on the very same day as the Bartlett's, and that the new rogue market seems to have situated itself in such a place as to siphon customers from the Bartlett. I corresponded with someone from the Bartlett, who wrote: "We too, are very upset and bothered that a for profit business has taken business away from us a non-profit. The Arboretum does not make any money from the market, instead we opt to offer people a reason to visit our beautiful property and find out more about us and we believe that supporting local farmers compliments our mission of promoting sustainable practices. Our market is held on Wednesdays because we do not charge gate admission on that one day of the week."
I do understand that competition is a way of life, but it is still beyond me why the city did not choose a different day for the new market at the High Ridge shopping center by Borders.

Q and I have a baby class (followed by a long leisurely lunch for the Moms!) on Wednesdays, so we won't make it to the Bartlett market for another month and a half, but I'm going to try to make it up there near the end of August. The Bartlett is so beautiful, a great place for a FREE picnic on Wednesdays... can't wait to buy a pie there.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Holla to Baby-Friendly Barcelona Stamford

We hit Barcelona Stamford last night with the baby in the stroller and were very pleased with the service. When we walked in the door, the staff didn't act like we were huge pains in the asses for wanting to take baby out to dinner, stroller and all. Several people conferred over where we'd be best, and they gave us a prime outdoor seat. Much appreciated. My baby, of course, was an angel, and we had a great dinner. There was another baby outdoors, and a couple kids inside, and all were civilized as far as I could tell. This was around 6pm.

Among the tapas, I highly recommend the empanadas (get a couple of helpings- and ps they are delightfully spicy) and the smoky eggplant dip. And the free bread: delicious!

Other tapas:
The potato tortilla: not tantalizing.
Chorizo with figs: enh. Figs a bit dry.
Garlic bulb: I did not partake.
My sangria: could have been stronger...

but overall, this could be one of our eating-out-with-baby standbys, because I love the empanadas, and the staff and outdoor seating are quite pleasant. It's not cheap, but it's not crazy either- I think we spent about $23/person for a medium-small amount of food. The bread definitely made it a meal.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

On Leaving Babies in Cars (For a "Quick Errand")

I'm not talking about the accidental forgetting of children in cars (see terrifying Washington Post article). I'm talking about, if I am picking up food at Layla's Falafel that I know is ready, and the baby is asleep in his carseat, can I just leave him there for three minutes, rather than haul him out and me have to fend off people who are going to get all up in his face to try to get a peek?
I am so paranoid about my baby that I wouldn't leave him in the car, but I believe people do this quite commonly. A couple months ago on Greenwich Ave, a woman left her 4 week old in the car to do an errand at a bank. When she came out, someone had called 911 (which you HAVE to do, because you don't know if the person forgot their kid or not) and the cops were already there. She said she could see the car the whole time, but they arrested her.

When is it OK to leave a kid in the car for just a few minutes? I doubt the law says, "Parents may leave a child in a car as long as they can see it from the window of the store, and as long as their errand does not take longer than ten minutes."
My husband says, When the kid is old enough to let himself out in an emergency, it's OK. I don't agree. I think they need to be like, 11. Or as old as it takes for them to have common sense not to break something in the car, or let a stranger steal them, or to accidentally put the car in drive.
I suppose the situation falls under the area of neglect and endangerment, but that's pretty subjective. I want to know, can you leave your baby in the car or not? Or, like most things, is it OK as long as you don't get caught?

OK, I found the law:
"An act concerning the penalty for leaving a child unsupervised in a place of public accommodation or motor vehicle.
(a) Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in a place for a period of time that presents a vehicle for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child's health or safety, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor...
(c) Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in place of public accommodation or motor vehicle between the hours of eight o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m. for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child's health or safety, shall be guilty of a Class C felony."

See, it's subjective. Is three minutes alone in a cool, locked car a "substantial risk to the child's health or safety?" I say no. I think the woman on Greenwich Ave basically just left her kid alone for too long, long enough for people to notice and worry. So, she messed up, but you can see how she could easily think she had done no wrong.

I'd never leave my baby alone in the car, because here's how I think: "What if someone ran into my car with my baby in it, and he was trapped? I'd want to be trapped WITH him. Or, what if I fainted in the store, and no one knew I had a baby in the car? What if there is an explosion in the store and I'm knocked out? My baby could overheat in the car." I mean, weirder things have happened, right?

By the way, the Washington Post article is worth a read, but it's really, really depressing. Between 15 and 25 kids die each year when their caregivers accidentally leave them in the car. The biggest thing I got from the article was a) when you are tired and busy, your memory can short circuit and b) to avoid that, leave your purse in the backseat by the carseat so you won't forget your kid. A sleeping kid is a quiet kid, and a busy parent who is not used to taking the kid to daycare might forget he/she has the kid in the car and just go right to work. The article profiles a couple of these devastated people and describes how the scenario can easily happen to a tired, distracted person.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pops in the Park: Is Alcohol Allowed?

Since I went to college in Virginia (and beach week in South Carolina), lived in New York for a year, and have now lived in CT for almost 10 years, I can't quite keep track of alcohol laws. I know I can buy liquor in New York on Sundays, but can I bring a bottle of wine to the Pops in the Park concert tonight in downtown Stamford? I am not a huge public drinker, so I don't know public alcohol laws. Can I bring it as long as it's like, in a paper bag?
I'm not actually planning on bringing a bottle of wine- if you are toting around a baby, you need to be sober- but I just want to know, so I can encourage the people I'm with to have some fun.

And like, if I can bring wine to the Pops in the Park, why can't I bring it to Alive @ Five? Because they have beer/wine tents there? I don't think they have beer/wine tents at Pops. Really, all this alcohol stuff is confusing. It changes for every state and every event. I do know about the open container in cars law. You can't do that. (WHY would you do that, anyway? Driving and alcohol just aren't a good mix.)
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best Baby Store in Stamford: Bed Bath Beyond

I'm really psyched about Bed Bath and Beyond carrying so much quality baby gear- now I can get the super-safe Britax carseat I want at 20% off since I can use the ubiquitous BBB coupons- but boy would BBB have come in handy oh, about 6 months ago when we started shopping for baby gear!
It would have saved me
a) a couple hellish trips to White Plains/Hartsdale, where Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us are, and
b) 20% off of my babyseat and strollers. Yeah, I said strollers. You'll see when you have a baby. This wall, which looks really scary to you now, will look like a candy store when you were a child.

I hit the baby section at BBB yesterday and I was impressed. It takes up the entire back section of the store.

Here's a list of cool stuff they have that I have, love, and/or want: all the kickass strollers (city mini jogger, bugaboo cameleon, you name it they have it), Bebe au Lait nursing covers, the ERGObaby carrier (so much better than the Bjorn once the baby can hold his own head up), Swaddleme swaddles (don't get the fleece, too hot- get cotton), Halo sleep sacks, and hideously ugly but useful baby swings. They've got high chairs, pack and plays, medicine, bath stuff, baby-proofing safety stuff... everything except clothing, and there's not much in the way of crib sheets.*

I WILL say, although all this baby stuff is 20% off, it's still worth a trip to Giggle on Greenwich Ave because you cannot beat Giggle's customer service. With all the money you save at BBB, you can afford to splurge on some of Giggle's more unusual items (like a round bath tub baby can sit up in, fun sheets, and cool mobiles).

Here's a pic of the Bebe au Lait nursing covers; BBB has the best selection in the area! I own two because they are so awesome. Just be careful not to get the double fabric one (with eyelets) if you are going to be using it in the summer; it's hot enough under that cover even when you have the single layer!

*You should order crib sheets online from Babies R Us, or hit Giggle in Greenwich for some spectacular ones that cost twice as much but that I find worth it since it has such a prominent place in the nursery. My nursery was basically planned around some orange striped sheets from Giggle, much like the only thing I cared about for my wedding 2 years ago was that I had orange roses. Oh, and go next door to Carter's for adorable, comfortable, affordable baby clothes.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ANOTHER Bank Robbery? SERIOUSLY!

What the heck?!? I wrote a post last week that I didn't have time to perfect and post last week titled "Avoid Banks in Fairfield County." I wrote it because a Bank on High Ridge was robbed- one that had just been robbed 4 months ago! I stated that since I now tote a baby everywhere, there is no way in heinieho that I am ever going to a bank again.

Well, big shocker, on Monday there was another bank robbery on Summer St. I'm sorry, something is wrong with this town.

And do these banks not seem really easy to rob?

I have an $800 check I need to cash, but now I'm hesitant to go into a bank to cash it. BOTH of my Stamford banks (a credit union and a People's) were robbed a couple years ago, so I don't think I'm being that paranoid. And the guy who robbed my People's... TRIED to rob my credit union before he went to People's! Geez Louise.

Previous Stamford Talk bank posts:

--September 13, 2007-- My People's Bank Got Robbed!!!
--September 15, 2007-- Wrong Side of the Metro North Tracks? Bank Gossip
--October 5, 2007-- Bank Robbers- Not Just in Stamford!
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good News for Parents: Baby Gear at Bed Bath 'n Beyond

Sure, Target's got some decent stuff (my favorite of which I won't tell you, so I can be sure they'll always be in stock for me), but it's nice to have another option. From what my friend who went today reports, they have way more stuff than Target. For example, they have the excellent Kiddapotamus Swaddlemes. I forget what else she said they have- she was in a rush but saw more than the usual pacifiers, bottles, diaper bags, diapers, wipes. It sounded pretty comprehensive. In any case, it HAS to be better than the HORRIBLE baby section at the Toys 'R Us in Norwalk.

Speaking of babies, mine's crying. Gotta run. Let me know what cool stuff BBB has if you get a chance to go!
Click here to read more.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Alive @ Five: How Was It?!?

If you went, please let me know what you thought of Alive @ Five! I'm dying to hear reports of how it went. Initial info:
1. Advocate article says "hundreds" of people showed up... I expected thousands. Was it crowded, or did the cover charge decrease the crowds?
2. One of my twitter friends said the event was sketchier as the night got later, with lots of guys of the butt-grabbing variety. (So typical.)
3. Stamford Notes has a few photos up.
4. On a bad note, an Advocate article reports that cops somehow managed to mangle the face of the (female) owner of the Palms in a botched arrest (for driving her car without a license and then resisting arrest). That's a shame, first obviously for the woman, and second because it suggests Stamford Police are having trouble handling crowds at the event. We'll have to see what further articles report.

It's a weird story- evidently the cop asked her to move her car from the lot behind the Palms, because they wanted to close it because people were cutting through, the the same cop asked her for her license (who takes their purse with them just to move their car? NO ONE!) and then he tried to arrest her for driving without a license. She got angry, then witnesses say the cop punched her. The accompanying photo shows an enormous swollen spot on her face.

I hope the rest of the concert was not chaotic like that!
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Competing Farmers Markets on Wednesday? I Do Not Approve.

What the heck? I heard from a friend, and saw on Stamford 411, that there is a new farmer's market outdoors at the High Ridge shopping center on Wednesdays. Um, isn't that the same day the Bartlett Arboretum holds theirs? So essentially, this second farmer's market is cutting into the Bartlett's biz. Why would people drive the few miles to the Bartlett when they can just swing in, get a latte at Starbucks, browse some books at Border's, and buy some fruits and veggies, all in one stop? I am CONFUSED. Who is running this rogue farmer's market? (Addition 6/26: The city is! See this Advocate article. Even though High Ridge is way more convenient than the Bartlett, I still think the city is stealing the Bartlett's thunder!)

My friend said there were not many veggies at the Bartlett Market this week because the farmer who sold veggies there last year was banned because not enough of his food was grown in CT. But she said there were strawberries, and bread, and that the market is on the lawn at the Bartlett rather than in the parking lot. The Bartlett, a few miles north of the Merritt, is a beautiful setting. You may recall that hilarity ensued last year at the Bartlett's Farmers Market when a naughty dog ran off with a pie.

I'm wondering if this High Ridge market allows that farmer. If so, he must feel pretty happy about taking biz from the Bartlett. I could be totally wrong on this. We'll see. I'm just suspicious of this new market.

Check out some nice photos of the market on Stamford 411.

Posts about the Bartlett:
July 9, 2008-- Bartlett's Farmers' Market: Bumpy Start
And see my photos of the market, including the naughty dog, on flickr!
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Alive @ Five Starts Tonight... With Food Court!

Correction: the post I based this on was on my RSS reader but no longer on Napa's blog- whoopsie. I'll still leave this up, but Chris Preovolos of Lunch Break Chronicles tells me Napa's not doing the Alive @ Five food court. Ah well, you'll have to go to the actual resto!
Two things I gleaned from Napa and Co's blog:

1. There is now a food court (reeeeeeeally? but why? Don't they want people in the restos?) at Alive @ Five. I wonder how this is going to work out. Will lines be super long? Stamford Notes, the new Stamford blogger, will have to report, because she told me she'll be there. I don't have plans to go... yet.
Anyway, Napa is serving Chef Taibe's Grass Fed Beef Tacos and Jose's Chicken Legs at Alive @ Five. According to SDSSD's event calendar, food court will include fare from: BUtterfield 8, Carvel Ice Cream, EOS Greek Cuisine, Maui Wowi Hawaaian, napa & co., Rack ‘N’ Roll, Remo’s Brick Oven Pizza and Sundance CafĂ© & Bakery. Awesome!

2. Lower Summer St. (by Mary Ann's and the movie theatre) is CLOSED to traffic. That's new, right? I thought you used to be able to go right down Summer... maybe not, and I always got there early enough not to worry about it!

You should really be looking at the Napa and Co. blog once in a while. They have great info about their special events, and they are really doing a good job of keeping up with the blog so far.
Click here to read more.