Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flying back to LA today

Here are some pics from NY's JFK airport.

We made it home safe and sound.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Homemade baby doll (compliments of mommy)

Astrid's doll accidentally got left behind in LA, and so this whole trip she has looked longingly at dolls being held by other girls. She'd point and ask to play with their doll, but most of the girls wouldn't share their doll with her.

Then this evening at the playground, another little girl let her play with her baby doll and toy bottle, which was nice for awhile, until the girl wanted them back. If I hadn't been there to supervise Astrid would have taken the bootie and run. I made her give the items back and thank the girl for letting her play with them. Astrid said "thank you" in between sobs. It was such a sad sight to see, Astrid being so broken hearted over not having her own doll.

I remembered there was a boutique baby store close to where we were staying, so I took Astrid's hand and we ran over there. The lady was just closing the shop as I knocked on the door. I explained the situation about how we left her doll in LA and were staying in NY for a week, and she was so broken hearted about it, I wanted to get her a new doll. The heartless woman said, "I don't think we carry any dolls." I looked around and saw several stuffed animals and toys that would do the trick, but the lady just acted like she wanted to go home, instead of making an instant sale.

So determined was I (never underestimate the power of a mom's creativity in situations like these) I decided to go back to our apartment and make Astrid a doll. I thought about what I had, and what materials I could use. What I ended up doing was taking Astrid's small stuffed animal monkey, wrapping Astrid's pajama top around the bottom to make a bigger body, taking a cut out of a baby's face from Parenting magazine and placing it over the face, and wrapped my shirt around the head, to keep the face in place.

Here's the end result. Not bad for having limited materials.I thought Astrid might not take to it, because it looked strange, but just the opposite happened. She smiled and said, "Baby" and cradled it in her arms right away. Then she asked for a bottle. So I took some paper, rolled it up, and made a makeshift bottle out of it.It wasn't a problem finding the mouth (with those big lips).It was sweet to see her so intent on feeding it and cuddling with it. All smiles saying, "Mommy did it. Mommy did it. Baby!" The strangest doll she's ever held, but she still loved it.When U. got home from his business dinner, he wondered what the cut out baby faces were doing on the kitchen counter. (I experimented with a few.) I was asleep and so he had to wait until the morning for an explanation, and to actually see the doll that Astrid went to bed with.I decided to change the face to this one with big blue eyes (which looked less like a burn victim). Astrid thought it was funny.

Astrid was happy and content and so was I. I wasn't able to buy her a doll in a pinch, but we made do with what we had, and with a little imagination, she had her own baby doll.

Restaurant fire averted

Astrid is fascinated by candles. When she sees them she immediately starts singing "Happy Birthday."

During the course of dinner, I reached across the table to wipe Astrid's mouth and the napkin caught on fire. Nothing a good ole stomping couldn't put out, but it was still quite embarrassing. "Woman from LA sets NY restaurant on fire." Yikes.

Dancing in the Streets

I used my small hair clips to create this new, punk rock chic hairstyle on Astrid.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chef Ramsey's Restaurant (New York)

Being in NY was the perfect opportunity to try Chef Ramsey's restaurant.Astrid looking at our table arrangement - a floating rose. (The only flower Astrid know is rose, and she also knows it's mama's name.) It was funny to see her sniff the rose.Decor is rather cold (which I wouldn't have expected from Chef Ramsey) with lots of mirrors and glass on the far side wall. It's not a place you want to hang out in for hours. It's an obviously sophisticated restaurant where you go just for the food and wine despite the cold decor.

The revolving panels however are a nice touch. Lunch has one side of the panel with a soft green, and the other side of the panel has a dark design for dinner service.

The food was excellent. All courses had small but delicious dishes. The food makes me want to come back for dinner.

The service was good, they clear plates away quickly and the food was prompt, but we had to ask them to refill our water glasses.

Be forewarned about the champagne. They bring out a rolling champagne cart in case you're interested in trying the champagne. The vintage champagne I had was $46...a glass...gulp (literally).Gourmet cheese cart.

While eating, I couldn't help replaying Hell's Kitchen episodes in my head.
Here Astrid and I are standing outside the restaurant.

(I later read that the restaurant picked up another Michelin star for 2 stars.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dressed for dinner (New York)

We've developed a routine which includes showering each evening, and getting dressed for dinner. Astrid's like a New York socialite. =)

Back to Sara D. Roosevelt Park (New York)

This time when we went back to Sara D. Roosevelt Park there were lots of kids to play with. Astrid introduced herself to the other kids by announcing, "My name is Astrid. Aaaastrid."

ABC Playground (New York)

We first saw this playground on the way to the East River, and Astrid was excited to play there with all the other children. We tried to enter it, but found out the local elementary school was using it for their recess, and it was closed to the public until 1:30. That was so disappointing.

So when we came back down Houston towards Soho, we passed by it again, and this time were allowed to enter the playground.It had a handful of small children there, and some High School kids hanging out, but was not nearly as busy as when we passed by it earlier in the day.Having fun on the larger slides.Playing in the toddler section, on the small slide.Astrid met this little boy who was the same age and she struck up a friendship with him. Not knowing that he was Autistic she held his hand. The boy's special education tutor who was there him said that was the first time she'd seen him hold another child's hand.Playing on the elephant.

With the long walk and adventure today (plus we have one more playground we will pass on the way home) I ruled out the daily nap. Once we get home we'll have just enough time to get ready for dinner, and then Astrid should be exhausted from the day's activities, and ready for a long night's sleep.

East River Park (New York)

This walk was longer than I expected it to be, and turned into quite an adventure, especially since I was on the journey with my 2 year old daughter. Luckily we had plenty of water and had our walking shoes on.

Getting to the East River was pretty easy. Long, but it was a straight shot over, and then across one street/bridge and we were there. The difficult part was that we had to go through the lower east side; not that we felt in danger, but there was no place to eat. I take that back. We came across a few places that looked so disgusting from the outside that I didn't want to step one foot inside. So what did we do? We kept walking.

We passed by numerous hospitals, project type housing, and people who looked like they lived a hard life. At this point I have no idea where we were. I'm sure we passed a number of ex cons during the course of our walk as well.

And then we were in China Town. Don't ask me how we got there in a round about way, but I was just so relieved. Food, glorious food, and a place to sit down inside with air conditioning and a cold drink. We stopped inside a large Chinese bakery with all sorts of goodies. The bread with baked Taro inside was so delicious that Astrid and I had two.Then we headed back to the East River Park, which we had originally passed on our quest for a place to stop for lunch.Standing in front of the East River.
Running down to check out the boats.
I can't believe after all that walking, she still has energy to walk and run. The lunch break did give us a second wind though.
This part of the park was pretty run down, but after walking in a concrete jungle for the past few hours, I let Astrid run around on the grass and play.What's more fun than chasing pigeons? Chasing squirrels of course.
This one ran up a tree when Astrid got too close.
The squirrel's up there Mommy!We stumbled onto this outdoor amphitheatre. Again, rundown but it could be a very cool venue. A concert by the river. Astrid enjoyed running up and down the steps.Taking a breather. You can see how red her face is from all the walking, as well as the hot day. My face was red too.
I made her wear her hat the entire time, except when we got back to the park. She no longer wanted to wear her hat and seeing as there was shade, I acquiesced and put the hat away.A large field made of AstroTurf, with a view of the bridge.There was no one there, so it felt like it we shouldn't be there. Hence the look of guilty pleasure on Astrid's face as she runs back to me.This was the best part of the entire park (for us anyway) - an adorable fountain with seal (or sea lion?) sculptures.The water would spout at different intervals and places. Here Astrid got wet and is running away from the spray. Sitting on top of one of the sculptures.Had enough sitting. Now she's going to run back into the fountain again.You can see the pools of water, where the water shoots up, and then stops for awhile, only to start up again later.On such a hot day, the water play was fun and refreshing.Astrid found a couple of abandoned softballs to play with.
Getting even more wet.This was a gem of a find. I could sit back and relax (and take pictures) while Astrid ran around and played in the fountain spray.There was another little girl there with a baby doll and baby stroller. We didn't take the baby stroller with us, and we forgot the baby doll in our car, so she was begging me to play with them. The girl didn't want to share unfortunately, but then Astrid found these balls to play with and that distracted her from the baby toys for a bit.

After a change of clothes, we headed back to Soho. Astrid continued to want to walk (rather than sitting her stroller). Round trip we walked probably 8 miles in total, and Astrid walked the entire way (refusing to sit in the stroller). Unbelievable!