Friday, July 13, 2012

Stamford Downtown Horse Tour 2012

My friends and I spent two hours walking around the concrete and asphalt streets of Stamford yesterday... why?  To see the horse statues, of course!  A friend planned out a four-part tour for us, and yesterday we completed leg three. I blogged about it more extensively at my more parenting-focused (but still locally-slanted) blog, FC Mom, if you want to take a peek!  

The moms and babes of Horse Tour 2012, Leg Three
Thank you SDSSD (I'm so proud of myself for finally learning the acronym for Stamford Downtown Special Services District) for creating such a wonderful Art in Public Places 2012!  This webpage has links so you can print a guidebook and map, and Horsin' Around Stamford Downtown facebook page has pictures of all the horses with their names.  Beautiful!  
Click here to read more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scalzi Park for Summer

I love the new improvements at Scalzi: the walking path, the two new playgrounds, and the great splash pad pictured here. I only wish there was more seating at each of the two playgrounds. Each playground only has one bench that fits five adults. Definitely not enough! Still there's lots of shade between the two playgrounds for picnic blankets. I love Scalzi!

Click here to read more.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cove Beach: Free Rent

I am only slightly amused by the lifeguard's-view-blocking cabana some family has erected at Cove Island. Or maybe they live there? Looks about the same size as my college dorm room. I'm guessing this is NOT on the "stuff that's ok at Cove" list- essentially, putting up a small house on the beach to block everyone else's view. Ah well, anything goes at Cove.

As long as a grown man isn't attacking a child who gets in the way of his roller blading, I probably shouldn't complain. Maybe the lifeguard told them they could use it as long as they keep all the curtains open, and keep it an open structure. I suppose that's fair.

Click here to read more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Advocate Photo Blog Making News! Darien Girls' Lacrosse Coach Suspended

I am constantly talking about how awesome the Advocate's photoblog In Sight is.  I don't mean to be repetitive, but there's an interesting discussion happening right now about the photos that Bob Luckey posted of the Darien girls' lacrosse coach grabbing her goalie's helmet and appearing to shove her backwards. The discussion at In Sight gets into pressures of high school sports, parents' expectations... it's something anyone who's been through school, or who has kids, can relate to. Go take a look!  

I don't know anything about the coach or her team, but I do think:
- It's great to open a dialogue about how we expect our kids to be treated.  I think that's what Bob Luckey meant to do, and I commend him.  
- I would not want any adult to put their hands on my kid like that, even if they were on a high-pressure, high-performing team.  
- Adults who work with children have a responsibility to hold themselves, each day and each minute, to the highest behavior standards they can manage.
- Everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes vary in degrees of seriousness.  
- A pattern of mistakes is a problem.   

I just saw in the paper (how ironic that I'm calling it a "paper" and I read it online) that the coach is suspended for the rest of the season but can return in 2013.  Wow.  
Click here to read more.

Stamford Sinkhole... Impressive!

A reader (thanks BD!!!) sent me photos of a rather terrifying sinkhole on Fifth Street just east of Bedford. I have to assume someone's tire went into this, because how else would it get that deep before someone noticed it... This really freaks me out.

Click here to read more.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Birth Talk! Midwives, VBACs, Nancy Wainer in CT/NY

I went to a very enjoyable event last night: the opening of my birth educator's new studio! I have raved before about Cynthia Overgard's Hypnobirthing of CT- both she and her birth class are an invaluable source of information, inspiration and support.  Cynthia's new studio in Westport is spacious (and gorgeous) so she can more easily accomodate classes and events... AND it's across from the Whole Foods.  Does it get any better than that?

The keynote speaker at the event was Nancy Wainer, the midwife and author who coined the term "VBAC" and works passionately to prevent unnecessary c-sections.  Nancy had many kind words to say about Cynthia and her work with mothers who want to have the most peaceful births possible.  It was such a pleasure to hear an experienced midwife speak about the many misconceptions about birth, such as women being (disturbingly commonly) told that their pelvis is too narrow for their baby.  (Hello, the pelvis expands in labor! And the baby's head smushes because the skull bones aren't fused yet. What's more likely to slow labor is your baby being in the wrong position so their head can't smush and descend as effectively- a midwife can tell you simple things you can do to get your baby in the best position before labor starts.)  Can you tell I'm a fan of midwives?
Nancy Wainer is also speaking tonight at ICAN of Westchester.  ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) is dedicated to improving maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary c-sections, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting VBACS.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eating Stamford Uptown

I did not know about this! The deals end this Friday, so get out and enjoy!

Click here to read more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Local Company: Pure Play Kids

I finally placed an order with the locally-based and owned company Pure Play Kids. I'd been seeing the company's toys at my friends' houses and I was starting to get toy envy. We got these two felt playmats (Sea Life and Transportation, right) for an upcoming plane trip. Of course I'm bringing the iPad, since I'll be traveling with 2 kids by myself with a layover, but I'd like to last at least an hour- maybe two!!!- without technology.

The wooden animals from Pure Play Kids are beautiful- my friend has several and they are large and sturdy. (I put them on my wish list.) This bus is also a great piece.

Check out the very nice Facebook page with useful tips, links, and coupon codes!

From the Pure Play Kids website:

Pure Play Kids offers one of the largest selections of battery-free, TV-free, creative playthings in the USA. We have a sharp focus on creativity, safety and natural materials. So whether you seek wooden toys, cloth dolls, natural teethers, Waldorf toys or the perfect baby gift, Pure Play Kids has you covered. Additionally, Made in America toys are the bulk of our offering, and the remainder are fine European toys. Kid-powered is the term we use to describe our products. Let kids provide the motion, sounds, storyline and characters that drive the toys – not vice-versa – and witness a flourishing of imagination, confidence and skills.

I also love that many of the pics on the site are taken in Stamford, like this one of the garden/beach set at Cove Beach!
Click here to read more.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Last Dog Days at Tod's Point

I was marveling at the 20-30 dogs that stretched as far as the eye could see down the 300 yards of beach at Greenwich (also called Tod's) Point today. Then I remembered that after March 31 no dogs (or non-beach pass holders) are allowed. I have to say, all of the dogs, most of whom were off-leash, were incredibly well-behaved. It was enough to make even a dog-neutral person like me feel fondness toward them, sort of like how the Grinch's heart grows bigger at the end of the movie. One dog did bump my leg and get it a little wet, but that's nothing compared to that dog who put muddy paw prints on my butt at Mianus River Park. Or that other one who jumped all over me and got me dirty at Mianus later that same day. Anyway, what an incredible beach/park Tod's is. I'm sure it's going to be packed tomorrow, Saturday March 31!

Click here to read more.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Family Fire Safety Day

In response to the tragic fire in Shippan, a local online mothers' group that I'm a part of has organized a Family Fire Safety Day at numerous local fire stations. CT Moms is an incredible organization and this is one of the many things they do to help the community.

At 10 am, several local fire stations are opening their doors to the public for family-friendly demonstrations and info. In Stamford, the Belltown Fire Station is participating, in Darien, the Noroton Heights Station, and in Greenwich, the Glenville Station (they installed my carseats and they were SO nice to us). Fire stations in Trumbull, Fairfield, Norwalk and Stratford are also participating; click here to see the list.

It's wonderful of the fire stations to do this, and it's impressive what a group of dedicated mothers can do.
Click here to read more.

Cool Pics at In Sight Photoblog

You are really missing out if you don't read the Advocate photographers' In Sight blog. There are two great pics you shouldn't miss:

1. This awesome tiger statue creeping through the streets
2. This photo of Yale Divinity students giving out "Ashes to Go" at the Stamford train station on Ash Wednesday!

We are so lucky to have such great photographers in our area who are putting up cool stuff for us to see!
Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

EspressoNEAT Darien

I FINALLY made it to NEAT in Darien today! My sister and I needed a place for coffee after the haircut I got at Red Door Spa in Darien (with the gift certificate she got me for Christmas- thanks K!). I was picturing us sipping lattes in paper cups at Starbucks when I suddenly remembered espressoNEAT. We googlemapped it and were delighted to discover it was 27 seconds and 459 feet away.

We of course drove there (hey, it's winter, and we had the baby with us) and made ourselves comfortable with a vanilla latte (so much less sugary sweet than a Starbucks latte) and chai tea (same). We had delicious pastries- almond croissant, carrot cake muffin, brownie- from SoNo baking company. The place was spacious and cozy. I declare NEAT child-friendly because of the well-spaced tables and the one large table with bench seating (great for trapping your mobile child) and a basket of fancy magnetic blocks for kids to play with.

There is also a wall full of gifty-type stuff, which is always fun!

I swung by later in the day with the husband to get take out coffee. He declared his too cold and too expensive, but my (admittedly expensive at 5 bucks) vanilla latte was quite good! I'm still hoping to make Espresso NEAT a regular part of our weekend routine. Coffee and magnetic blocks, I think, accommodate both husband and child.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beach Weather!

Well, not really. But this warm weather has been a blessing. Yesterday we walked with friends at Tod's Point in Old Greenwich in the morning, and Cove Island in Stamford in the afternoon. Cove is superior for older kids because of the playground. My almost 3 year old often wants to walk, but for me to get any proper exercise, he's gotta be trapped in a stroller.
"I wanna get- OUT!"
"Just one more lap, sweetie, then we'll go to the PLAYGROUND! Do you want some Goldfish?"

(Check out my hot new ride- the BOB Duallie double jogging stroller! This better be my ticket to dropping 10 or 15 pounds. I'll settle for 5 at the rate things are going!)

Tod's Point is superior for adults who don't need a playground (that's the one thing Tod's is missing). I felt like I was in Nantucket with the beautiful vistas of the sound along long stretches of beach. There was even some postcard-looking driftwood yesterday, for goodness' sake. There is a bigger walking loop than Cove; part of it's wooded, and part is on the water, and I like that variety. March 31 is the last day for non-Greenwich residents to enjoy Tod's Point, so don't delay.
Both locations were remarkably cold because of the breeze off the water, so BRING LAYERS! SEVERAL!
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cove Island Beach Lost and Found

Not sure I've ever seen a more picturesque lost and found!

A friend and I took a walk on a very chilly day. That's why it was so strange to see a man jogging ONLY IN UNDIES. See below (click to read more) for a very far away photo of the man. OK, maybe they were just really thin running shorts.

You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it to have any hope of seeing the figure I'm referring to in the photo. He's to the left of the largest, closest tree.

I feel like I often see really odd people at Cove. It's one of the many reasons I love the place. You'd never see that at Tod's Point in Old Greenwich.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photos: New Canaan Nature Center’s Winter Farmer’s Market

The kids and I went to the New Canaan Nature Center’s Winter Farmer’s Market and I was really pleased with it.
1. It was indoors.
2. There were beautiful fruits and veggies.
4. All the vendors were nice. (I appreciated the oohing and aahing over my two month old by several of them. And another one even offered to take my photo with my two kiddos!)

Decent prices on the veggies, I thought!

The only bad things were that
1. My mouth was numb from dental work so I couldn’t enjoy the food today
2. My active, almost 3 year old kept my attention divided so I couldn’t leisurely browse.
3. I had already grocery shopped for the week. Next week I’ll try to leave more room in my food plan for Farmer’s Market stuff.

We are definitely going back next week. This is a pilot program for the month of February, every Tuesday from 12-3. Please come out and show your support if you’re interested so the NCNC will continue it into March!

The Farmer’s Market was kid-friendly overall. I mean, you do not want to take your eyes off your (hyper)active toddler/preschooler, because there are pots of soup, but it’s a contained area so you won’t lose your kid if you say, sample some iced coffee. There’s also a neat outdoor playground on the way out that has furniture made from tree stumps and big bronze turtles. Really nice day outing if the weather is good.

More photos after the jump.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Good Birth Resource: HypnoBirthing of CT

One of my favorite local birth resources is Cynthia Overgard’s HypnoBirthing of CT. I took Cynthia’s HypnoBirthing class just over 3 years ago. It’s great prep for childbirth because, in addition to providing thorough information on all your birthing rights and options, it's based on the fact that your brain is your most important birthing organ. The premise of HypnoBirthing is that fear and tension cause the labor pain experienced by so many women. With simple breathing and visualization techniques, women learn to remain relaxed, just as one would in an intense yoga pose, resulting in a quicker and more comfortable birth. (If I hadn't seen my sister have two births like that, I wouldn't have believed it was possible... but it is.) Although the goal is not natural childbirth, approximately 80 percent of Cynthia's clients birthed completely naturally last year.

Cynthia teaches the 12 hour course out of her spacious studio in Westport. It’s a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, thanks to Cynthia’s warm nature and obsession with feeding people. (There is a table full of delicious food at every class she teaches.) Before realizing her calling as a birth educator, Cynthia was a corporate executive and finance professor at UConn in Stamford. Her childbirth class reflects both her meticulous attention to detail and her passion for empowering couples to have a satisfying birth experience. The class is organized, engaging, and enjoyable.

I recently got back in touch with Cynthia while planning the birth of my second baby, and I’m more aware now of what an amazing resource she herself is. From her experience with hundreds of local pregnant couples and new parents, Cynthia knows an enormous amount about birth options and resources in the area. Cynthia counseled me on the various birthing options for birthing my second baby, and to have her calm guidance was, well, pretty priceless. I can say for certain that she helped guide me to have the birth I hoped for.

To get a sense of HypnoBirthing of CT and its impact on couples, take a look at the birth stories and photos on her website written by her students – there are more than a hundred, categorized based on where the couples gave birth. What’s also so valuable about those stories is that they prove that a good birth is possible. A great birth is possible. The birth you dream of is possible. The stories on Cynthia’s website helped inspire me to commit to the birth I knew in my heart that I really wanted. If women in Darien and Greenwich and Stamford were having the births they wanted, why shouldn’t I try for that, too? I had my second baby at home, with a homebirth midwife, supported the entire time by a doula (a woman who supports the laboring mother) that Cynthia put me in touch with. My birth would not have been as pleasant without my doula, and that’s one example of how Cynthia’s connections make her such an amazing resource to expecting couples even beyond what her class offers.

Cynthia really is all about connecting. She connects parents to the knowledge and the people that can help achieve the type of birth they want. She also connects mothers to mothers. One thing she does for her pregnant clients is host ‘birth story gatherings’. She invited me to one this fall, and it was so awesome. I met 17 other pregnant women over a lovely lunch Cynthia provided, before we gathered around to hear the birth stories of two women, one who gave birth in a hospital and one who gave birth at home. The birth story gathering gives women positive stories, no matter where they plan to give birth, as well as the chance to network and meet other mothers-to-be. Also, Cynthia invites mothers who refer a friend to a champagne brunch in a private room of an award-winning Westport restaurant, which is another opportunity to meet other new mothers. The friendship of other new moms is such a boost in the early weeks and months of parenthood.

All of this support and education add up to couples who have a better chance of having the birth experience they hope for. Last year, HypnoBirthing of CT served just over 100 couples. About 2/3 gave birth in hospitals, about a quarter at a birthing center, and 15% at home. Like I said in the first paragraph, about 80% of Cynthia’s couples birthed completely naturally. Fourteen out of the fifteen homebirth couples had their homebirth, and one was a non-emergency transfer after a VERY long labor, which also resulted in a non-surgical birth. What’s even more impressive are the VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) statistics. In this country, 1 in 3 first time mothers have caesareans; not surprisingly, thirteen of Cynthia’s couples came to prepare for a VBAC. VBACs used to be a big no-no, but evidence now shows that VBACs are significantly safer than repeat cesareans for most women. Listen to this: all 13 of Cynthia’s VBAC clients had natural births. Six were at home, and 2 of those 6 were HBA2C- home births after two caesareans.

One reason for those stunning numbers is that Cynthia’s class shows you your ability to birth. (We hear so many negative birth stories that it’s easy to think that a pleasant, humane birth is not possible.) Another reason is that Cynthia’s class makes you realize how important it is to have a caregiver who believes in your ability to give birth. Cynthia will help you figure all that out by guiding you to the resources you need.

HypnoBirthing of CT also offers breastfeeding workshops. Even though I already have a lot of breastfeeding knowledge, I attended a session this fall because (1) anything Cynthia does is gonna be good, and (2) it’s taught by Rhonda Trust, the Policy and Advocacy Chair of the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition. I am such a fan of breastfeeding that I wanted to make sure I’d met Rhonda and seen what she has to offer. Rhonda’s workshop was so positive, covering the hows, the whys, and the joys. The joy isn’t always a focus of a breastfeeding class, so I really liked that. Cynthia’s next breastfeeding workshop is on February 25, so please contact her if you are interested.

If you are pregnant and looking for an incredibly thorough birth class that will prepare you to have the best birth possible for you, check out HypnoBirthing of CT. I can’t recommend Cynthia Overgard highly enough and I feel so fortunate to have found her.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

SMNC Turtle Terror

I went to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center today with a new friend from the Stamford Hospital Moms Group (the source of all good things). Inexplicably, on this gorgeous warm day, we were the ONLY ones there except for one other family. At 10 am, the Animal Embassy (house with rescued snakes, birds, chinchillas, turtles, etc.) was empty save for the two caretakers and "Big Red," a turtle who was wandering around and scaring the crap out of my almost 3 year old. To me, it looked like the turtle was just poking around, but to my son, the turtle's slow movements were terrifyingly predatorial. (I have to admit it was a little stalkerish how the turtle kept creeping up on us, especially when it poked its head around from behind a table. Very cinematic.)

My new friend Hannah reassured Q, picking him up and then showing him how it was perfectly safe to pet the turtle. Hannah has a British accent, so everything she says sounds very sensible, and Q soon calmed down. She also called the turtle a "tortoise." I'm not sure if that's the British word for turtle, or if Hannah knows that the turtle is a tortoise and not a turtle. Are they the same thing? I have no idea. Anyway, this evening at dinner, I said, "Tell your dad about the turtle at the Nature Center!" Q paused and pronounced very seriously, "Hannah saved me."

It was also cool to see how the caretaker was chopping veggies to prepare breakfast for all the various animals! I'm not sure which one was gonna drink the coffee.

Game: guess which bowl below goes with which animal!

Except I don't have the answers.
Click here to read more.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mike Vivalo: Yankees Fan, Fan Cave Aspirant

A friend's brother is auditioning for the MLB Fan Cave, and I think his video is really cool. It's full of clever signs and celebrities! Mike is a Yankees fan, so many of you will enjoy his video. I only know a little about the Fan Cave competition (read the basics here), but the winner of the competition gets to "1) watch every single baseball game played, 2) interact and film video content with current and former players, celebrities and musicians, 3) discuss the hottest baseball and pop culture topics through blog posts and social media 4) compete in exciting challenges with other fans to remain in the MLB Fan Cave - and much more." The Fan Cave appears to be an actual place. I actively avoid baseball, but Mike's video is fun, and I LOVE his signs. Anyone who is good with words and ideas always impresses me. I think Mike would be great in the Fan Cave.

Good luck Mike!
Click here to read more.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Office Fridge: When Coworkers Lose It

One of my favorite new hobbies is photographing mean signs coworkers make for each other. You know, those signs about messy fridges and bathrooms? I cannot reveal where these signs are from, but I'll just tell you they are from the refrigerator in a local workplace. I especially love the literary touch that this anonymous sign-maker uses by including full newspaper columns to communicate just how disgusted they are by their coworkers' slovenliness.

Two more signs after the jump.

Coming up: signs I've found in bathrooms.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Canaan Nature Center Winter Farmer's Market

One of my favorite cooking blogs, the locally-run Full Plate Blog, posted on her Facebook page that the New Canaan Nature Center will be having a Winter Farmer's Market on Tuesdays from 12-3. The first one is February 7, and I totally have it on my calendar!

From the New Canaan Nature Center website:

Beginning Tuesday, February 7 the New Canaan Nature Center will host a winter farmer's market on Tuesdays from Noon to 3:00pm. The market is open to the public and will feature winter produce, dairy, meat, baked goods and other sundries from a number of Connecticut based vendors. Expected vendors include Riverbank Farm, Gazy Bros Farm, Goatboy Soaps, Butterfield Farm, Smyth's Trinity Farm, Mamacat's Tea, Raus Coffee, Whistle Stop Bakery and Connecticutly Grown Hot Sauce. Come for lunch - homemade soup and sandwiches from Walter Stewart's Market!

The Winter Farmer's Market, a joint partnership between the Nature Center and New Canaan Farmer's Market, will be held as a pilot program for the month of February and will possibly be extended throughout the spring and to Saturday mornings.
Click here to read more.