Category Archives: New Parents

8 FAVORITE PLAYGROUNDS IN AND AROUND PARK SLOPE!

jjbyrne

 

by Jen #supermom

When I became a first time parent I distinctly remember being so confused by all of the different playground names.  Mom friends would talk casually about Harmony,  JJ Byrne or Vanderbilt Playgrounds, and I had absolutely no idea where these places were, although had been living here in Park Slope over 4 years (without child)!   I had of course seen these playgrounds, walked by them countless times…but had never had any interest in them or what their names were until I had a baby.  Now with a 3.5 year old (and a 4 month old), I’ve become quite the “playground hopper”!  As weather is warming up, I thought it might be helpful to new parents or parents new to the neighborhood to share my favorite spots in Park Slope!

* JJ BYRNE:  Just renovated a few years ago, this park on 5th Ave between 3rd and 4th St is pretty fantastic.  I like the fact that it’s segmented into different play areas for different age groups, including a gated toddler area.  Slides and swings galore, standing farm animals for kids to climb on, and my daughter’s favorite – the spinning chairs that go way too fast.  Best feature of this park is surely the water play, from sprinklers and water pump to shoot and spray water cannons!  Definitely a popular spot on those hot summer days.  Downside: not crazy about the rock features in the middle of the park, be careful to watch your small child as they run on them (have seen some nasty spills)!

* VANDERBILT PLAYGROUND:  Located in Prospect Park (just down the hill when walking from the 15th St entrance) lies this gem of a playground.  Tunnels, a great twisty slide, lots of things for kids to spin on, water feature, bridges and ladders – this playground will not disappoint.  I love that it’s just across from the lake, so you can pair up a trip to say hello to  the swans and ducks with a visit to this play area.  Downside: no bathroom.

* ZUCKER NATIONAL EXPLORATION AREA:  Just down the hill in Prospect Park from Grand Army Plaza is Zucker Natural Exploration Area, truly my favorite of all of the playgrounds.  New York Magazine must agree, as they recently voted this as one of the best of NY!    Made by trees damaged by storms and other materials from within Prospect Park, this space encourages open, unstructured play. Uprooted trees for kids to climb on, a massive sand play area and a pump that pours water onto a log are some of the elements that make this space stand out.  I love getting here really early, when the park is hushed and the morning sun has just rose – it’s truly a beautiful spot. Downside: no bathroom.

* GARFIELD TOT LOT : Located just inside the Garfield Place entrance, this playground caters exclusively to toddlers. There’s a mini-jungle gym and slide, and the lot is lined with trees and benches (which come in handy for diaper changes, feeding and snack breaks).  A perfect place for the little ones, and typically a very quiet and relaxing spot.  Downside:  I would say no bathrooms, but most of the babies/toddlers I know under 2 aren’t potty trained, so this shouldn’t be an issue!

* HARMONY PLAYGROUND:   This music-themed playground located near the Bandshell at 11th St in Prospect Park is AWESOME.   Shaky bridge, wobbly bridge, tons of swings, slides (including a twisty slide), a toddler-friendly area, tunnels, large sandbox,  and my favorite water feature of all the parks, an upside-down “U” shape mister that gently sprays water towards the ground – just gentle enough that your child can get a little spray or can hang out underneath for a full soak!  Bathroom with changing table is a nice bonus as well!  Downside:  it’s rather large, so be prepared to do lots of chasing.

* THIRD STREET PLAYGROUND:  Almost a hidden gem, this playground is located off 3rd Street and Prospect Park West. Less chaotic than Harmony and offering more shade, this  bench-lined circle has several play structures, tire swings, a circle sandbox and water features.   This playground is a preferred spot for playdates, as parents can hang out on a bench and easily watch their children (while having adult conversation – imagine that)!   Kids can run through a huge red coil water feature to cool off, or chill out in the sandbox.  Bathrooms are nearby at the Picnic House.  Downside:  Not sure I can think of one!

* IMAGINATION PLAYGROUND:  This park is a bit further out, just over on the east side of Prospect Park (near Lefrak Center at Lakeside).  A bit more creative in design, this park is inspired by children’s literature, featuring statues of characters from Ezra Jack Keat’s books, a bronze dragon with water flowing down it’s back, and animal masks for kids to hide behind. Three playhouses and an open stage help stimulate children’s imaginations and creativity.  A nice break from the typical slides and swings!  Downside:  No bathrooms!

* SLOPE PARK:   For those of us South Slopers, this local playground is very convenient AND happens to be located across the street from a very decent coffee shop, Southside Coffee.  My favorite part of this park is the water feature, which includes a little wheel that kids can turn and subsequently water flows out.   There are different water spray elements – both horizontal and vertical for children to jump in.  It’s a bit more intimate than the larger parks, which is also a positive.  Downside:  stay away in afternoons when kids get out of school – this playground gets taken over by teenagers!   

 

I know I am personally always looking for new places to explore.  Hopefully there is a playground on this list that you haven’t had the chance to visit yet –  so cheers to doing something new and exciting for you and your little one!

 

OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER FAMILY EVENTS IN BROOKLYN!

pumpkins

written by Jen #supermom

What an exciting time of year it is for the little ones and for us parents, sharing the beauty of the colorful foliage and enjoying the refreshing cool air, so much Halloween fun… and pumpkin carving!   Any excuse to eat more apple pie and have another pumpkin spiced latte.  There’s so much going on here in Brooklyn over the next month, including many spooky and silly Halloween activities to enjoy with your family!

Mythic Meal (JJ Byrne Playground): A pancake breakfast fundraiser for JJ Byrne Playground.   Come as your favorite character, swap costumes, get your face painted and make banners for the Halloween parade!  They will also be doing a winter gear drive so bring any coats, boots, sweaters, etc to this great event!  $10 for adults, $5 for kids. Saturday October 17th, 10am-12pm.  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2336394?utm_source=+%40OSH%3A+Forage+Walk%3B+Pancake+Breakfast%3B+Permaculture+Fest!&utm_campaign=August+1&utm_medium=email

Harvest Festival (Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park): Come and celebrate the fall season with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy at Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park!  The 5th Annual Harvest Festival will have free fun activities for the whole family, including arts & crafts, storytelling, volleyball and musical performances.  Saturday, October 24th from 10:30am-1pm. http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/harvest-festival

Ghouls  & Gourds (Brooklyn Botanical Gardens):  Kids showcase their costumes along giant puppets in a parade with live music by Terry Dames Science Music Roadshow!  Kids under 12 are free, adults $15.  Saturday October 24th from 12-5:30pm. http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/ghouls_gourds_2015#schedule

Boo at the Zoo (Prospect Park Zoo):  Don’t miss this annual Halloween event.  Watch the baboons play with pumpkins, meet a Wildlife Witch, make a spider craft…and more!  Join in a Halloween parade at the end of each day, and snap a photo with the costumed creatures along the way.  Saturday and Sunday, October 24th and 25th. http://prospectparkzoo.com/events/71

Monster Mash (Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Crown Heights): Calling all ghosts and goblins, come dressed to impress as the museum celebrates Halloween!  Join up for a spooky good time, complete with a performance by Mariachi Tapatio de Alvaro Paulino and a ghoulish glowing dance party.  Saturday, October 31st from 10am-5pm.    http://www.brooklynkids.org/calendar/2015/10/31/monster-mash

6th Annual Coney Island Children’s Halloween Parade (1205 Surf Ave, Coney Island): You and your family are officially invited to the 6th Annual Coney Island Children’s Halloween Parade and Costume Contest. This year’s kid-friendly event promises to be better than ever with free entertainment, giveaways, and trick-or-treating!  Open to all children under 15 with great prizes for contest winners. Registration begins at 10am with the costume contest taking place at 12pm. Hand-made Coney Island themed costumes are encouraged.  Saturday, October 31st at 10am.  http://coneyislandfunguide.com/Events/6th-Annual-Coney-Island-Childrens-Halloween-Parade_10_24_2015-4200.htm

Halloween Party (Rollerskating Rink at Lefrak Center at Lakeside, Prospect Park):  Your halloween costume looks even better on skates!   Listen to Halloween music, play games and win prizes and enjoy a costume contest.  Saturday, October 31st from 12-6pm.  http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/events/halloween-party/

BAMboo! (Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM):  Put on your devilish dancing shoes and kick off trick-or-treating right at this free outdoor Halloween block party featuring family-friendly music and mischief.  Featuring Abby the DJ, candy giveaways, bouncy house, carnival games, costume contest and arts & crafts!  Free.  Saturday, October 31st from 2-5pm.  All ages!http://www.bam.org/kids/2015/bamboo

Park Slope Halloween Parade (14th St and 7th Ave):  If you’re marching, join for the line up on 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue.  The parade concludes at the Old Stone House in JJ Byrne Playground with a gathering and dancing with the parade bands!  Saturday, October 31st from 6:30-8:30pm.    Details forthcoming at:  http://parkslopeciviccouncil.org/event/halloween-parade-2/

Sol y Canto (Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM):  This pan-Latin musical ensemble, led by artist-educators Rosi and Brian Amador, presents bilingual concurs that are as instructive as they are engaging.  Geared towards families working to build kids’ Spanish proficiency as well as those that speak mostly Spanish at home, Sol y Canto’s interactive fiestas invite young audiences to dance, sing and learn to the beat!   Tickets are $10 each. Saturday, November 7th at 2pm.  Ages 2-5. http://www.bam.org/kids/2015/sol-y-canto

9th Annual Children’s Book Fair (Brooklyn Museum, 1st Floor):  Showcasing your favorite Brooklyn authors and illustrators, this free event features storybooks, picture books, graphic novels and art activities for all ages.  Saturday November 14th from 12-4pm.  For a detailed schedule of readings, go to:  https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/calendar/event/ninth_annual_childrens_book_fair/

Hope everyone enjoys a BOO-ti-fully safe and fun Halloween!!!

SEPTEMBER FAMILY EVENTS IN BROOKLYN!

kites

written by Jen #supermom

As summer comes to a close, our children return to school and we ease back into our “normal” routine, it’s time to think about fun family events for September.   This months events include book and kite festivals, the infamous Atlantic Antic street fair and different live music events to get your groove on!

* Hip Tot Family Day: Groove to the Tunes of the Trummytones (Lefrak at Lakeside, Prospect Park): On September 13th from 11am-2pm, come groove to the unique ska, zydeco and reggae sounds of The Trummytones.   Includes live musical performances, craft activities, giveaways and more!  For children up to 8 YO and their parents.  Free! http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/events/hip-tot-family-day-groove-to-the-tunes-of-the-trummytones/

* Warmth Presents Sunday Sessions (Redwood Studios, Gowanus):  On September 13th and 27th from 2-9pm, Sunday Sessions promises to be the perfect way to wind up the weekend.  Park your stroller, grab some grub and get your dance moves on!  With a festival-like environment, Sunday Sessions will have food and drink available for purchase and kid-friendly activities like bubbles, balloons and sidewalk chalk.  http://achildgrows.com/thecalendar/warmth-presents-sunday-sessions-at-redwood-studios-gowanus-2/2015-09-13/

* Kite Festival (Harbor View Lawn at Brooklyn Bridge Park):  On Saturday September 19th from 11am-3pm, come bring your favorite kite and watch it soar!!!  Kites will be available for purchase as well.  http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/kite-festival

* Brooklyn Book Festival (MetroTech Commons, Downtown Brooklyn):  From 10am-4pm on Saturday, September 19th, as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Book Festival there will be a Children’s Day!    Come enjoy authors and illustrators in readings, performances and workshops as they present new and beloved children’s books.  Will feature costume characters, puppetry, music performances and a children’s marketplace of booksellers.  Ages 2-11.  http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/2015/childrens-day

* Suzi Shelton Backyard Show at Norman & Jules Backyard (158 7th Ave, Park Slope):   Come celebrate back to school  at Norman & Jules backyard playspace with award-winning and local favorite, Suzi Shelton, as she returns to her favorite toy shop to perform a series of solo shows from her latest release “Smile in My Heart”.  From 11am-12pm on Sunday, September 20th, it is ideal for families with children 0-7 YO. $20 per child, adults are free.  http://achildgrows.com/thecalendar/suzi-shelton-backyard-show-at-norman-jules-backyard-park-slope/2015-09-20/

* Chile Pepper Festival (Brooklyn Botanical Gardens):  From 11am-6pm on Saturday, September 26th come enjoy one of the longest running festivals of its kind.  Features a full day of fiery live music, dance performances from international musicians,  unique culinary creations showcasing chile peppers, fire breathers, and of course the gardens.  Advanced tickets can be purchased online ($20 for adults, Children under 12 & Members are free):  http://www.bbg.org/visit/event/chile_pepper_festival_2015

* Dance with MMDG (Mark Morris Dance Center @ BAM):  Starting September 26th through December 5th, come learn excerpts from Mark Morris Dance Group’s The Hard Nut in this class, set to live piano accompaniment.  Open to all ages, families of all backgrounds and levels. Tickets are free but must RSVP:  http://www.bam.org/classes/2015/mark-morris-dance-group-all-ages

* The 41st Annual Atlantic Antic Festival (Atlantic Avenue from Hicks St to 4th Ave):  The largest street festival in NYC, this festival on Sunday, September 27th from 12-6pm will showcase food from around the world, musical performances, shopping from local and international vendors AND an entire block dedicated to kid-friendly activities: pony rides, storytelling and face painting!  In my opinion, hands down the best street fair in Brooklyn. http://atlanticave.org/atlantic-antic/about-the-antic/

* Tildon Krautz (Central Brooklyn Library, Dweck Center): On Saturday, October 3rd from 1pm-2pm listen to live sounds of Tildon Krautz, a songwriting string band that embodies the playful universe of an award-winning children’s book illustrator.  For all ages.  http://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/events-youth-families-til-central-library-dweck-cen-100315.

I’m not going to lie, I am totally bummed that summer is almost over.   I love the heat, I love an excuse to eat ice cream often,  I love watching my almost 3 year old laugh and splash in the water, I love flip-flops, I love the smell of suntan lotion and our trips to the beach!  BUT…what I seem to forget every year is that Brooklyn is a pretty special and beautiful place to be in the Fall, and these fun events are just another reason not to dread the cooler weather that is around the corner.

You Are Invited: Sat. July 18th 12PM-2PM

jaiejk

We are thrilled to invite You and Your Family to our ‘Luau @ Lakeside’ party on Saturday, July 18th from 12pm to 2pm.

Buy Tickets Here!
(FREE for children under 5)
All proceeds go to fund research to find a cure for the Sanfilippo Syndrome

We are celebrating our 3rd birthday and we are again raising money for my little friend Jonah. in collaboration with the Jonah’s Just Begun Foundation, we are throwing this must-attend summer event at Lefrak Prospect Park. This Hawaiian themed fundraiser is jammed packed with fun for the whole family and all for a great cause.
Kids will enjoy:

  • Face Painting
  • Hula Dancing (with professional hula dancers)
  • Rollerskating VIP Passes
  • Splash pad
    Parents can relax at our reserved tables, enjoy the full luncheon provided and peruse the must-have silent action items donated by Park Slopes finest businesses.

Some of the auction items include:

  • VIP Tickets to a Rachael Ray Show taping
  • Oakley Sunglasses
  • NY Kids Club: 10-pack of Pajama Parties
  • Restaurant Gift Certificates, and much, much more.

There is limited space available, so get tickets for the whole family now!

More info and tickets at: http://bit.ly/Luau4JJB

 

SUMMER FAMILY EVENTS IN BROOKLYN!

jaiejk

luauBy our very own Jen #supermom

The sprinklers have been turned on at the water parks (WOHOO)!  Watermelon has never tasted sweeter.  The school year is coming to a close.  SUMMER IS HERE!!!  We have several very special events going on in Brooklyn this season; here is a list of musical and fun-filled events we can enjoy as a family:

* JULY 18th at 12PM – Luau at Lakeside: A Fundraiser for Jonah’s Just Begun (Lefrak Center @ Lakeside, Prospect Park):  On July 18th from 12-2pm South Slope Pediatrics and Jonah’s Just Begun are hosting a very special event to raise much needed funds to support a cure for Sanfilippo Syndrome, a rare disease that our Park Slope friend and neighbor, Jonah, suffers from.   The event includes a full luncheon, rollerskating, hula dancing, face painting and a silent auction.  Tickets are $40 for adults and $35 for kids 5 and up (under 5 are free):    http://bit.ly/Luau4JJB

* Summer Kick-off Party with Hip Tot (Lefrak Center @ Lakeside, Prospect Park):  Every second Sunday from June – September (starting June 14th at 11am) there will be live music performances for kids, craft activities, giveaways and other special surprises.  On June 14th Grammy winner Father Goose and his dancehall boogie music will set the mood for a fun and exciting day!  http://hiptot.com/hip-events/

* Pete Sinjin’s “House of Song” Album Release Party (Greenwood Park – 7th Ave, between 19th and 20th St):  Presented by Hootenanny Art House, Pete Sinjin will be performing with his band on Saturday, June 20th at 10am, celebrating the release of his new album!  $10 tickets in advance (free for 9 months and under), includes all food.  There will also be door prizes and art activities.  http://www.petesinjin.com/

* SummerStage Family Day:  Laurie Berkner, Something Positive and Brooklyn Marching Band (Herbert Von King Park, Lafayette Ave and Tompkins Ave):  On Sunday June 21st come be entertained by these artists, including the super popular Laurie Berkner who is known to be the power behind the “kindie rock” movement!  Free.  4-7pm.  http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/event/summerstage-laurie-berkner-something-positive-brooklyn-united-marching-band/

* Puppetry Arts Festival of Brooklyn (Old Stone House Park, 4th St & 5th Ave):  On June 27th from 11am-3pm, there will be puppet crafts, snacks, bounce house, t-shirt designing, Star Wars characters and puppet shows all day!  Free admission.  http://www.puppetryarts.org/Festivals.html

* Orion and the Dark Storytime (Barnes and Noble, 267 7th Ave):  On June 27th at 11am, join Orion and the Dark on their mischievous fun nighttime adventure in this special storytime!  http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/4853248

* They Might be Giants Concert (Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th St):  Super child-friendly and silly, They Might Be Giants will put on a family show June 28th at 12:30pm for kids and adults of all ages (the venue even has stroller parking)!  Show lasts just under an hour.  Tickets are $25 in advance or a family 4-pack for $90:  http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/event/850657-they-might-be-giants-brooklyn

* Independence Day Events (Audobon Center, Lefferts House & Carousel in Prospect Park):   On July 4th there will be plenty of family friendly events taking place at Prospect Park.  From 12-5pm at the Audobon Center,  learn how the bald eagle became America’s symbol of independence (with fun activities and crafts)!  At Lefferts Historic House from 2-5pm, celebrate America’s birthday by making yourself a plumed hat and signing a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence!  And don’t forget to celebrate afterwards on the 1912 Carousel.  https://www.prospectpark.org/news-events/events/2015/7/4

* Seining the River Wild (Brooklyn Bridge Park, Empire Fulton Ferry):  On July 11th from 10:30am-12pm, learn about the remarkable creatures of the East River as scientists use a 20 foot seining net to humanely catch and release these unique critters. All ages:  http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/seining-1

Whether it’s learning about fish, jamming out to your favorite family music, learning about puppetry, celebrating the birth of America or attending a very important Luau Fundraiser, this next month is full of fun activities here in Brooklyn.  Enjoy!!!

Friday Organizations Tips: Help your kid’s closet grow with them

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‪#‎pediatrician‬ ‪#‎drcao‬

Kids grow fast and so do their ever-changing wardrobes. Here, Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design (and closet extraordinaire), tells us the must-have items that will help your kids stay organized from the start and help their closet grow with them.

1. Two (or three) levels of hanging rods.

“Kids are lucky enough to be shorter than adults,”says Adams. “This makes it possible for them to utilize their space more efficiently!” Instead of one row of hanging rods, like most adult closets, they can use two or three. Install multiple rows to give them access to their clothes and create more room.  Is the higher hanging rod out of reach? Utilize it for storing those items you may not want your child to have free access to.

Read Full Article at http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/a7158/10-things-every-kids-closet-must-have/

 

BROOKLYN MOMMY GROUPS!

a_mom_friends

written by Jen #supermom

 

You have your friends, you have a strong social network near and far.  Friends to go to brunch with, to shop with, to hang and watch movies with.  THEN…your world turns upside down in the most amazing way and you become a first time parent!  Those friends are still your friends of course, but you really want to talk to other new moms and dads about what you are going through.  Other parents that you can share advice with, that you can go to for support, and for laughs most importantly.  Ones that will find your poop and spit-up stories mildly interesting.  For the first time in your life you need “mom friends”!

Being a new mom and dad can cause a bit of anxiety, so it’s reassuring to talk to others that are going through the same things. Thankfully there are several mommy (and daddy) groups that help bring together a network of new parents of babies around the same age.  These are a few of the different options that we have available here in Brooklyn:

 

* Park Slope Parents:  By far the most popular among new moms in our area, this site can help you link up with other parents of a specific birth month, season (“Winter babies” for example),  or with a shared interest (they include stay at home moms, separated/divorced/single parents, LGBTQ, bilingual groups, etc). $35 to join.  http://www.parkslopeparents.com/Help-Joining-Groups/psp-baby-groups.html

* Moms Club: Stay-at-home parents meet up for playgroups, picnics, and all sorts of activities.  As a non-profit, this organization depends on contributions from the members, helping plan and facilitate the different events.  http://www.momsclubofparkslope.webs.com/

* Bococa Parents: Covering neighborhoods of Brooklyn, this parent group organizes events and activities for new parents and their families.  Must have a Yahoo account to sign in, but membership is free:  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/bococa_parents/info

* Families First Brooklyn:  For the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill communities, this non-profit offers both classes and support groups for parents.  More of a support group then casual PSP meet-up, these groups are run by a specialist and charge a fee.  http://www.familiesfirstbrooklyn.org/new-moms-support-group.html

* Mommybites.com: An online community for parents to sign up for online classes (preparing for a sibling or potty training 101 for example), they also help facilitate the connection of moms through support groups.  Not to mention it’s a great site to read up on parenting articles.  http://mommybites.com/

* NYC Dads Group:  Hey, what about something for all the new dads out there???!  NYC Dads Group helps support dads through group play dates, special events, dad’s night out and educational workshops.  http://www.citydadsgroup.com/meetups/

* And there is always meetup.com, which hosts all different kinds of meetups, including those for new moms and dads.  If you don’t find the right group for you, there’s always the option of starting your own!  http://www.meetup.com/

 

For a listing of parent groups throughout the different Brooklyn neighborhoods, check out:  http://pipandpea.com/2014/02/25/just-moved-to-brooklyn-heres-the-first-thing-you-need-to-do/

Another fantastic way to meet outside of a mommy meet-up group is in a class like  “Baby and Me Yoga”, taught at independent yoga centers or the YMCA. There are always opportunities to meet new friends in music classes like those taught at Music Together or Music for Aardvarks.  Or, through South Slope Pediatrics’ many classes or social events!  I always say meeting new moms/dads and making those connections can feel a bit like you’re dating again.  Sometimes you just hit it off immediately and other times it feels awkward and unnatural. Hang in there…you’ll eventually hit it off with other new parents and might even make new life-friends!  I know I surely have.