Exploring Zurich with Kids

Zurich is often known as the business center of Switzerland and often overlooked when visiting the country with kids. However, despite only being in the city for less than 48 hours, exploring Zurich with kids is absolutely possible and enjoyable {just beware of the strong local cheese with your little one!}.

Zurich with Kids

Exploring Zurich with Kids
The city of Zurich is absolutely pristine, I was challenging myself to find roadside trash, homeless people, or anything remotely dirty and I found nothing. Zurich is typically European with it’s sidewalk cafes, espresso, and breathtaking architecture. We did a ton of walking and stroller pushing, which was exhausting but thankfully the tram service was available at most street corners to rescue us. The tram is handicap and stroller accessible, very easy to navigate, and most stops have ticket kiosks.

Zurich with Kids

Aside from our city gazing and occasional stop at a cafe, we visited Kunsthaus Zurich, the modern art museum. The museum features a ton of famous works, including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Cezanne and a number of popular Swiss painters and sculptors. The museum also has a cafe in the lobby for grabbing a meal or beverage on the go. While the museum was very cool, it was unusually quiet and required a lot of “shhhh-ing”… if you’re at all concerned about your little one’s behavior, this might not be the place for you.

Zurich with Kids

A visit to Zurich with kids wouldn’t be complete without a walk along Lake Zurich. The beautiful lakeside promenade has cafes, green parks, lake entry points {yes, kids were swimming in the water}, swans and ducks, gelato carts, and stunning views of the hillside mountains. The promenade is the perfect spot to picnic and enjoy a break from a day of sightseeing.

Zurich with Kids

Relaxing along the Lake Zurich promenade

Aside from the toy museum {we skipped it}, I found several delightful toy shops, including Pastorini Spielzeug Ag {Weinplatz 3}, Franz Carl Weber {Bahnhofstrasse 62}, and Meinrad’s. Pastorini sells beautiful wooden toys, Franz Carl Weber is located on Zurich’s famous shopping street {think 5th Avenue} and Meinrad’s is filled with so many teddy bears the tiny shop might burst!

Zurich with Kids

Pastorini Spielzeug Ag

A Few {Parental} Observations
A guide is never complete without a few points to note:

  • Swiss cheese is REALLY pungent and unfortunately my daughter hated it. Grab a tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich {found at any local cafe} and the mild flavored cheese should be much more appealing.
  • The consistency and flavor of yogurt is different from the US, don’t be surprised if your little one isn’t a fan. Try to find a plain or vanilla flavored yogurt for a compromise.
  • Swiss chocolate fixes EVERYTHING {gelato works as well}.
  • Catching an early dinner to accommodate the baby is no problem in Zurich {it is Europe after all} and the lakeside restaurants boast beautiful views.
  • The Zurich International Airport has an amazing Family Services Lounge located in departure areas A and E. The immaculately clean lounge has toys, changing tables, a crib, child sized utensils and so much more {it’s a parent’s dream, really}.
  • We didn’t make it, but check out the Zurich Zoo, it looks great!

Zurich with Kids

 

Next up, Lucerne!

xx
Anna

 

 

 

Summer Vacation in Europe

Hello from Switzerland! I am in full-on vacation mode right now, enjoying every second of our family trip to Switzerland and Sweden {still to come}. I wrote a post a few weeks back entitled 9 Reasons to Travel with a Toddler and I’m happy to report my reasonings have proven true thus far. As expected, the flight was a bit of a challenge, but we were all able to sleep {at one point} and I actually watched a movie, wow! I will have SO much to share when I return, but in the meantime I wanted to post a few pics and give you a little glimpse into our travels!

Zurich, SwitzerlandIt was a bit cloudy and rainy in Zurich, but the city is pristine and beautiful.

Zurich, Switzerland A taste of a Swiss classic, Fondu {it was as delicious as it looks}.

Lucerne, SwitzerlandThe view from our room on Lake Lucerne, it is truly breathtaking.

Lucerne, SwitzerlandTouring the old city in Lucerne, with a blue balloon.

Lucerne, SwitzerlandA birds eye view.

xx
Anna

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

I had the opportunity recently to sample a week’s worth of Blue Apron meals and what I found was a practical mealtime solution and inspired cooking all rolled into one box. As a busy Mom, finding the brain space to think of meals is a challenge, never mind the grocery shopping and meal preparation. I am always thinking of ways to spend more time with my family and less time in the grocery aisles and Blue Apron offers a way to do just that.

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Heirloom Tomato & Fontina Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Dijon Green Beans

About Blue Apron
Blue Apron delivers local and artisan ingredients right to your door, which means you can skip the grocery store all together and spend more time where it matters. Opening a box is reminiscent of Christmas morning and finding all the ingredients perfectly portioned brings the celebration to a different level, like new-pink-bike-level. Also inside each box are recipe cards with a list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions and accompanying pictures, Blue Apron is essentially a cook-by-numbers service {a.k.a very hard to screw up}. If you’re a Blue Apron subscriber you get to specify your meal preferences {i.e. vegetarian} and enjoy different meals from week to week.

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Meals
The chef-designed meals are inspired, creative, easy to follow, and downright delicious. The three meals I created were Cod and Pattypan Squash En Papillote, Hatcho Miso Soba Noodles, and Heirloom Tomato and Fontina Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, yum. On average, preparing a Blue Apron meal takes approximately 40 minutes and costs $9.99 per person/meal. The detailed instructions are extremely easy to follow for a non-master chef like myself and what I loved about the particular meals I sampled were the diversity of the ingredients, who knew Pattypan Squash even existed? Not me! I stepped out of my comfort zone by cooking with new ingredients and techniques to produce some really awesome meals; win-win for everyone, especially my husband who ate like a king, but later did all the dishes {thank you}.

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For MomBlue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Is Blue Apron For You?
Obviously my perspective is that of a busy, work-from-home Mom and the reasons I loved my taste of Blue Apron was because of the convenience: door to door service {the food is sent in a refrigerated box to maintain freshness}, no trip to the grocery store with my 17-month-old-daughter, the portioned ingredients {eliminates waste} and the opportunity to impress my husband with some stellar meals. If you are a Mom looking for the same conveniences or looking to spruce up a date night in, Blue Apron is certainly worth a look.

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Cod & Pattypan Squash En Papillote with Garlic Butter & Fresh Herb Salad

Blue Apron Offers Mealtime Solutions For Mom

Hatcho Miso Soba Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes & Candied Cashews

If you’re interested in trying Blue Apron because you are new to cooking, love to cook, are in a recipe rut, or because the sky is blue today, I have an awesome savings to pass onto my first 50 readers, 30% off your first Blue Apron order, redeemable here. Who doesn’t love to save time and money?

Happy cooking, everyone!

Thank you to Blue Apron for sample meals. As always, opinions expressed are my own. 

 

Learning to Let Dad Parent

I have been inspired lately by the role of Dad, I wrote about this a few months back and have seen similar minded pieces {Scary Mommy} popping up all over the place, including this post entitled Letting Daddy In {Well Rounded NY}. From my perspective of a work-from-home-mom, I am front and center as the primary caregiver. In order to maintain my sanity however and avoid a true 24 hours a day, 7 days a week position, I am learning to let Dad parent {albeit a little slowly}.

I am Learning to Let Dad Parent

Relinquishing Control
I am learning to let my husband aka Dad parent, but it isn’t always easy. Throughout the week when I am home solo with my daughter we have a system, a schedule and a certain way of doing things. What we eat for breakfast, where we eat it, lunchtime, naptime, and everything in between. My daughter is older now, but for a long time she would only be put to sleep by me, not Dad. Certain adjustments can be made with age, but the sooner Dad is a part of the equation, the sooner you will start to feel comfortable and begin to relinquish control. Involve Dad is your daily routines {when he’s home or on the weekends}, show him how you prepare, serve and cleanup after a meal, let him read the bedtime story or be the first to greet your little one in the morning; the small, seemingly insignificant tasks will begin to add up.

Give yourself a break
As a Mom I often struggle with the notion of striving to do everything when it comes to raising my daughter, but there comes a point when you just need a break. Several months ago, I told my husband that every weekend {when it was feasible} I needed to leave the apartment at least once by myself, whether it was to meet up with a friend, go for a pedicure or even grocery shop. I needed an opportunity to miss my daughter, even if it was for 20 minutes at a time. In my experience, my husband was more than happy to take the reins and enjoy some alone time with her, especially without me telling him what to do the entire time.

I am Learning to Let Dad Parent

Watch Dad flourish
In my opinion, the absolute best part about learning to let Dad parent is actually watching him parent! I truthfully feel no greater joy than watching my daughter run to the door every night and greet my husband when he comes home from work. The love she has for him is just amazing and I’m so happy I’ve learned to step aside a bit to allow their relationship to flourish. Whether it’s designated daily tasks or on random occasions, give your husband the opportunity to parent in his own way, meaning without a laundry list of do’s and don’t. Let Dad pick out the kid’s clothes {eek}, make a meal or take a solo trip to the park. As difficult as it may be, allowing Dad a seat at the ‘parenting table’ will prove to be beneficial for the entire family!

Do you allow Dad to truly parent?

xx
Anna

 

 

 

 

9 Reasons To Travel With A Toddler

When I title a blog post, 9 Reasons To Travel With A Toddler, you know I’ve just about lost my mind. Day to day life with a toddler can be a challenge, never mind throwing a trip into the mix to really shake things up. I might be the smartest or least intelligent person on the planet, but I’m leaving soon for a trip to Switzerland and Sweden with my 17-month-old-daughter. Yup, we are going for it. I am really looking forward to the trip and I’ll share with you my reasons to travel with a toddler, the reasons that lead my husband and I to take the plunge (not marriage, just the idea of boarding a plane with a toddler using our own free will).

9 Reasons To Travel With A Toddler

1. Toddlers Can Be A lot of Fun
My daughter giggles harder and smiles brighter than most people I know, including myself. In moments of traveling chaos, toddlers provide the perfect dose of comic relief and always find a way to lighten the mood, even if they are responsible for causing the chaos in the first place.

2. Toddlers Go To Bed Early
A little tidbit about myself, I’m not much of a party animal these days; I really enjoy a glass of wine and a peaceful night in. Trendy nightlife spots are all I came across when researching our vacation and honestly, I’m thrilled my daughter goes to bed early and provides me with a valid excuse for skipping out. :) 

3. Toddlers Rise Early
Carpe Diem, everyone! My human alarm clock of a daughter never lets me skip a beat in the morning and thankfully I’ve learned to appreciate the idea of hitting the streets before most people have even woken up.

4. Toddlers Appreciate The Little Things
While adults look at the 7,000 pound elephant, a toddler points out the colony of ants marching at his feet. It’s the little things that make all the difference in the eyes of a child and I’m happy for the reminder every once and a while.

5. Toddlers Are Small
The simple fact that toddlers are small make them wonderful travel companions. Toddlers can share beds, sit on laps, fit in strollers, be held when times get tough, and best of all, their clothes are tiny and don’t take up much room in a suitcase.

6. Toddlers Sleep In Cars
If any leg of a trip includes traveling by car, I know I’m usually in for a peaceful ride with my daughter; turn on the ignition and she’s half asleep already.

7. Toddlers Can Get You Upgraded With Their Cuteness
I can’t personally attest to this, but I’ve heard of first class plane seats being offered up because either the child is SO incredibly cute or someone just feels really bad for Mom or Dad. Here’s to hoping someone feels really bad for me next week! :)

8. Toddlers Eat For Less
Restaurants these days serve up quite the impressive kid’s menu, so much so that I often want to order a meal for myself: belgium waffles, homestyle mac and cheese, and fish tacos are a few I’ve come across lately. Despite the “adult-like” offerings, many times the meals are a fraction of the cost; cheers to more wine for Mom!

9. Viewing The World Through The Eyes Of A Toddler…Is Priceless 
As a parent, there is nothing more exciting, rewarding, and sweet than seeing your child discover something new for the first time. Traveling brings together family (for better or worse), promotes the exploration of different cultures, and creates memories to last a lifetime.

Don’t be afraid to travel with a toddler, whether you plan a trip within driving distance or 5,000 miles away. While it’s true that young children can be difficult at times, you might be pleasantly surprised with their resiliency and sense of exploration. Becoming a parent doesn’t mean you need to give up exploring, it just requires changing the way you travel; seize the years of toddlerhood and take the opportunity to see the world through their eyes, you just might enjoy yourself. :)

xx
Anna

Exploring Governors Island with Kids

Governors Island, located in New York Harbor and only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, is a former military base that was redeveloped and opened to the public in 2005. Since it’s opening, the island has undergone a number of additional developments to reinvent the space, the most recent finishing up prior to the start of the 2014 season. Exploring Governors Island with kids is the perfect NYC summertime activity, with acres of open green lawns, mini-golf, food stands, and historic buildings stemming from the late 1700′s.

Governors Island with Kids

Explore The History of Governors Island 
Governors Island has served many uses over the years, but primarily as a US military base for roughly 200 years before it was turned over to the Coast Guard in 1966. If you visit the island today, you will still find Castle WilliamsFort Jay, and Colonels Row, all part of the former military base.

When I visited the island recently with my parents, husband and daughter, we particularly enjoyed walking around Fort Jay and the former military barracks; they have a very cool air of desertion and spookiness. If your kids are old enough, Governors Island serves as the perfect destination for an impromptu summer history lesson, a win for everyone. :)

Governors Island with (young) Kids
At 16-months, my daughter was a bit young to appreciate the historic structures, but she certainly enjoyed running on the green lawns, the make-shift library (a mother’s dream) and the stellar views of the Manhattan and Jersey skylines. Ok, maybe it was me who enjoyed the views…

Governors Island with Kids

View of Manhattan from Governors Island

The picture above was taken from the island’s waterfront promenade and ‘WOW’ was all I could say, it was beautiful. The promenade is a great spot to sit and city gaze or ride a bike. In fact, the entire island is very bike-friendly and you can even rent a wide selection of bikes, including multiple-seaters.

For entertainment purposes, the mini-golf, playhouse, green lawn (there are many) and installation structures are all located on the island’s Parade Grounds and a small library can be found adjacent to Castle Williams

Governors Island with Kids

Governors Island with Kids

Governors Island with Kids

The island is also home to a number of food trucks and stands, and a cool new area called Hammock Grove that features swingings hammocks for visitors of all ages to enjoy. We treated ourselves to a delicious Blue Marble ice cream cone, perfect on a hot summer day!

Governors Island with Kids

All in, I think Governors Island is a great place to visit with kids for the following reasons:

  • Location, location, location – it’s SO close to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey
  • The ferries run every 30 minutes, check the schedule for week vs. weekend times
  • The island is small enough to walk, run, bike, skip or hop your way around
  • The delicious food choices are aplenty
  • The island has a mini library for kids (yay)
  • Explore the historic buildings and churches scattered throughout the island
  • Governors Island hosts special events, check the calendar ahead of your trip
  • The open fields, mini-golf, clubhouse, and swingings hammocks are perfect for kids of all ages

Hi Manhattan, see you in a few minutes.

Governors Island with Kids

xx
Anna

 

 

 

 

 

Tom’s Of Maine Toddler Toothpaste

As a first time mom, I’ve experienced an awakening of sorts when it comes to the products I consume and purchase for my family, especially my 16-month-old-daughter. Prior to becoming a mother, I chose natural products and some organic foods when I could, but now I am trying to further educate myself and learn how to incorporate more of the good stuff into my family’s life. Speaking of the good stuff, I had the privilege to visit with Tom’s of Maine in New York City last month and learn about their line of natural toothpaste.

Tom’s of Maine Toddler Toothpaste was the star of the show and the product that peaked my interest the most. My daughter doesn’t quite understand the whole notion of brushing her 5 teeth, nor does she necessarily like when I try to help. She is happy (as a toddler should be) to take matters into her own hands when it comes to her dental hygiene..

Tom's Of Maine Toddler Toothpaste I  brush her teeth twice a day with Tom’s of Maine Toddler Toothpaste, and while the sessions aren’t always a success, I do manage to sneak some cleaning in when she lets me. The best part about using a product derived of natural ingredients is that I don’t need to think twice about what she’s putting in her mouth and possibly ingesting.

Tom's Of Maine Toddler ToothpasteTom’s of Maine Toddler Toothpaste is a natural, fluoride-free paste with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, which means the product is safe if swallowed. The toddler toothpaste is recommended for infants ages 3 to 24 months and has a mild fruity flavor (it is very mild, I tasted it!). What I love most about Tom’s of Maine is the company’s transparency about the ingredients, you can visit their website to find a breakdown for all their products.

The best part about finding a brand that offers natural and safe products for my entire family, I can finally stop looking for toothpaste! :)

Tom's Of Maine Toddler Toothpaste PS: I was born and raised in Rhode Island, which means I’m an automatic fan of New England based companies, but you need to check out Tom’s philanthropic endeavors, WOW, I feel lazy!

Thank you to Tom’s of Maine for providing samples. As always, the opinions provided are my own.

xx
Anna

The First Time Mom Learning Curve

The first time mom learning curve is always changing, at times I find it to be unsurmountable and so steep, and others, just a small blimp on the radar. I still vividly remember the first days home with my daughter and the simple daily tasks of breastfeeding, changing diapers and first baths were so foreign and unfamiliar; the learning curve felt like a straight hike up a very tall mountain. Now at other times, once my daughter hit the three month mark for example and could hold her head up, the curve started to level out a bit. I would never say I had the privilege of coasting as a new parent, but there were definitely easier times.

The First Time Mom Learning Curve

Toddlerhood
Over the past few months I’ve felt pretty confident and thankfully avoided any steep inclines on the learning curve. Well, the joy ride is over. I am currently on an epic hike up Mount Everest folks, quite possibility the steepest learning curve I’ve encountered thus far. Yes, even steeper than bringing home a newborn for the first time. Welcome to toddlerhood, Anna.

Toddlers, or I should say my toddler is kind of like an erratic, adorable, irrational, sweet, sassy, and scarily intelligent boss who doesn’t speak the local language. Rules, what rules? Climbing up stone steps, climbing down stone steps, spitting milk, throwing food from the highchair, all in a days work.

All joking aside, I am finding toddlerhood to be especially challenging because I’m dealing with a real person, she’s no longer an infant and I have the responsibility to parent her. There is a huge difference between caring for a baby and teaching a young child right from wrong; both are challenging, just very different. What to discipline her over and how to do it are daily challenges in my house; the lack of verbal communication being the most difficult factor to overcome.

Hanging Tough
Right now I’m in the thick of the hike, climbing up, knowing I will eventually make my way back down. Some days as I chase my daughter through the park and see older children sitting peacefully with a book, I can’t help but long for easier days ahead. But then, as I watch her climb the park steps for the first time and she looks back at me with the biggest smile on her face, I am thankful to be right where I am along this journey. In my assessment, motherhood is about hanging tough when the curve steeps upward and knowing everything, even the most challenging moments are fleeting.

xx
Anna

 

 

 

 

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Over the past several months I’ve featured a lot of my travels around New York City on the blog. I love living in NYC, especially in the spring and summertime, and have really enjoyed exploring the city all over again with my daughter. New York City is a big place and with so much left to explore, I figured I would compile a list of my favorite summertime activities to enjoy in NYC with kids, making it easier to find everything in one place; you’re welcome :)

Summertime Activities in NYC with Kids

Rockefeller Park Playground 

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Highlights: Rockefeller Park Playground, located in downtown Manhattan, is an awesome New York City destination for children of all ages, with multiple sand boxes, swing sets, jungle gyms, and sprouting water fountains in the summer; you can’t beat this spot. The beautiful park lawn is the ideal location for a picnic, to kick a soccer ball or watch the sail boats on the Hudson River. Visit Le Pain Quotidien or newly opened Hudson Eats for breakfast, lunch or dinner nearby.
Lowlights: Rockefeller Park can be very crowded, windy and has limited shade. Be prepared for all three if you plan to spend the afternoon.

A Trek Over The Brooklyn Bridge

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Highlights: The Brooklyn Bridge touts AMAZING views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s Carousel, and Smorgasburg for a full day of summertime activities in Brooklyn.
Lowlights: Shade is very hard to come by on the bridge, come prepared with sunscreen, hats, and lots of water!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden 

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Highlights: Depending on the season and what’s in bloom, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful spots in all of New York City. The vast grounds are the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll, a run around the green lawns, or lunch in the outdoor cafe.
Lowlights: Outside food and picnicking is discouraged; packing a lunch for small kiddos should be ok, but you might be restricted to the cafe area while eating or drinking. To preserve the main lawns, blanket use and chairs are restricted and/or prohibited.

Pier 25 Play Area 

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Highlights: In the summer, Pier 25 morphs into a kid’s dream; giant tipping water cans, sprouting fountains, and sprinklers turn this playground into a full fledged water park. Aside from the isolated water area, Pier 25 also features sand boxes, a jungle gym, swings, a mini golf course, a soccer field, volleyball court and a skateboard park. Check out seasonably-open Blue Marble ice cream for a sweet treat (located next to the skate park).
Lowlights: On a hot day, Pier 25 is swarming with kids of all ages. Go early in the morning with small children to avoid getting run over by the older crowd.

Union Square Greenmarket & Evelyn’s Playground 

Summertime Activities in NYC With Kids

Highlights: Shopping for a healthy and fresh meal has never been easier than with a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket. Involve the kids in picking out produce, talking to local farmers, and as a treat, visit neighboring Evelyn’s Playground to blow off some steam.
Lowlights: The farmers market can be very crowded on the weekend, visit during the week or early in the morning to avoid the throngs of locals and tourists.

With so many activities to choose from, visiting NYC with kids can be a bit overwhelming. If you happen to visit during the summertime, the above activities, destinations, and eateries are perfect for families with children of all ages. Enjoy!

xx
Anna

 

Why Are Toys So Hard To Open?

I sat down to write this post following an epic battle with one of my daughter’s new toys; please SOMEONE, why are toys SO hard to open?

Why Are Toys So Hard To Open?

The plastic is nearly impenetrable and the twisty-ties are fixed SO tightly that I usually end up tearing the entire box apart just to remove the toy. Are manufacturers afraid the elephants, teddy bears, and baby dolls might otherwise escape; I am utterly perplexed over the Fort Knox type security for kids toys.

I’ve made the rookie parenting mistake several times recently by opening a toy in front of my 16-month-old-daughter, BIG mistake. She screeches and paces around the box trying to get a status update on what will be her favorite toy for at least 15 minutes. We fight over the scissors (I always win, don’t worry), the insanely hazardous plastic pieces, and any tools needed to assemble the damn toy. OH, that’s right, I still need to put it together once I’ve battled with a hunk of plastic for 45 minutes. Poor kid probably assumes the box and wrapping is the toy..

Why Are Toys So Hard To Open?

Who would have thought this innocent, adorable elephant would make me want to pull my hair out? Thankfully Alexa loved it, as her screeching turned into delightful squeals, making all the frustration worth it, well at least most of it.

To all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone else who knows a child, why are toys so hard to open? Forget water boarding, hand over 50 toys and see how quickly someone caves…

Share your epic toy battle in the comments below!

Anna