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Monday, November 29, 2010

Yummy Mondays-Mini Munchers (Guest Post)

I'm more than excited about today's Guest Blogger, Carla, the Mommy Muncher of Mini Munchers a fab resource for parents visiting or traveling throughout NYC with little ones. Finding a restaurant that is kid friendly AND tasty in the city can be hard, Mini Munchers is the ideal site to help weed through the millions choices throughout the boroughs and find just the right place.
Eating out in NYC can be an exciting prospect – but when you add a kid (or two or three) it can be QUITE an adventure. MiniMunchers has scoured the City, and discovered some great places to go (that have children’s menus), that both Minis and Adults will enjoy!

1. Smorgas Chef - Get ready to be pleasantly surprised at Smorgas Chef!

This cafe, located in the Scandinavian House in Murray Hill, is simply a wonderful find. Stroller-friendly, with highchairs, this upscale spot challenges children to try some unique Scandinavian dishes (i.e. Swedish Meatballs & Smoked Salmon), but don't worry old faithfuls’ such as chicken fingers and a kid's burger are on their $9 menu. 

Each children's meal comes with a drink and vanilla waffle for dessert & my kids were enthralled by the LIVE tree in the center of the restaurant. The restroom is large, with a changing table, but you do have to take an elevator to the basement to get there. 

The BONUS of Smorgas Chef is that on Saturday's the Scandinavian House opens their Children's Learning Space to the public (for only $5 per child, ALL DAY!) 

2. Brother Jimmy’s BBQ –Ok, Brother Jimmy’s is a bar (but it really does a GREAT lunch business) and who knew that Kids eat FREE, YES FREE with an adult’s entrée – AND the food is good. The menu is also a fun diversion – instead of spelling out the entrée selections – there are pictures for Munchers to guess – like a “chicken” and a “hand” for Chicken Fingers.
3. Ruby FoosWhen headed to a show or to check out the scene in Times Square, do not get sucked into a touristy restaurant with sub-par food and over-the-top prices. Ruby Foos is a great restaurant to visit with children, yes they have grilled cheese and hot dogs but more adventurous eaters might want to try the spare ribs or the steamin’ shrimp dumplings (they even have a gluten-free menu!). Kids will also get a kick out of the free Oragami lessons every Sunday from 11:30-4pm, and my son’s roboto loved the “Dirt `n Worms” dessert, a chocolate pudding topped with Oreo cookies and gummy worms inside.

4. Moomah - It really doesn’t get any better then this! Moomah is a great spot to bring your tot in TriBeCa. Not only is the extensive menu local, seasonal AND organic (with dairy-free and gluten-free choices) but kids are encouraged to play while they eat with incredibly beautiful and engrossing (yeah) art projects! The owners have thought of everything, from a changing table with diapers and wipes in the bathroom to a tv “monitor” to watch your child when they play in the “Funky Forest” back room!

5. Blue Smoke – Tots love digging into the RIBS at this Murray Hill joint – and the Wikki sticks and cool communal bathroom sink are fun kid features. A great bonus – the server brings your child a cookie to decorate, which is then baked during your meal – and presented in a “to go” bag with the check. You will be hard-pressed to find a table without a tot on the weekends!

Want to check out these restaurants children’s menus or see reviews on these and many more NYC kid-friendly spots? Visit Mini Munchers. Happy Munching!
Mommy Muncher

I already have my noted places to try when Chunks and I are on the go? Have you found any go to spots to stop in when out with your little one?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Different Kind of Holiday

In my household, we never did anything without our Jamaican roots playing a part and the holidays were always the time that these roots took center stage. With my own family I've carried on this tradition and took it a bit further, because I can't just be a copy-cat lol, and created new and fun (I think) traditions around this time of year. One of the first things I changed about the holidays was to put more of an emphasis on Thanksgiving and the meal. In Jamaican culture Christmas is our big deal but being married to a true Southern boy and a lover of all foods Southern, I couldn't ignore this holiday I couldn't just have a plain old fashioned turkey, I had to spice it up a bit and alas it hit me...JERK IT!!! Yes, we have Jerk Turkey and all fab fixings and drinks on the table and after the spices have died down UP goes the Christmas tree!
This is when my true holiday excitement sets in! Well yesterday, I learned that my mother isn't doing Thanksgiving and my brother and father are NOT too thrilled about it, so this year will be my 1st time hosting Thanksgiving dinner and the of course at the last minute, smh lol. So today I begin putting together the pieces of my menu, trying some new things but sticking to my tried and true, and while the Mr always laughs that I'm jerking a bird he's always bragging that we're having it too! I've started reading books to Chunks about Thanksgiving, the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians and he's loving those right now. The lights are up here in NYC and the store-fronts are all decorated, the bird is marinating in the fridge and the sweet potatoes are ready and waiting so some things are the same but around here it's a different kind of Holiday!

What are some things you do differently with your family 
around the Holidays?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trying Something New

Lately I've been asked to attend events and review products to include on the blog and while I am excited and humbled by and about almost all of the inquiries, I answer the requests somewhat reluctantly because I didn't want to become one of those mom blogs that became mostly about products and less and less about motherhood. I've challenged myself to find more time to blog and I don't want this to be filled with ads and the such and so I decided to try something new!

My grandmother is a hilarious character and is always coming up with random sayings in the  most unrelated and in-opportune times and one thing she's known to say when we can't make up our minds (in a British/Jamaican accent of course lol) "Take a bunch and then you can Pick Choose and Refuse" and so I came up with The New York State of Mom's Pick Choose and Review blog. There you will find more in-depth reviews of PR events and product reviews Chunks and I experience because some are really great and I wouldn't want you to miss out on a thing! I will still post about some of our adventures here on the home blog as I re-learn and teach Chunks and the Mr all about NYC.

Blogging has become a great hobby and I look forward to doing more with it in the future and I hope you all come along with me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Someone Crash This Pity Party!


Let me first start this post with a quick recap of what's happening in the Jones household: I've gotten a promotion at work which requires more of me on a 8pm-4:30am basis and somehow I've managed to decide to go back to Grad school! I thank God for the opportunity to grow in my field I just pray for an extra boost of energy during the day.The Mr is finishing his paralegal studies and getting used to life in NYC little by little. Chunks...well Chunks has become a tantrum throwing, ear-drum piercing crier that I don't recognize.

At first I couldn't understand what was going on with him because he was once the coolest and most laid back happy baby ever and now the smallest reprimand and he's on the floor in hysterics! I blamed it on him being a Leo and just over-dramatic until I noticed that he was suddenly becoming...A DADDY'S BOY! 

WHAT!??!? When did this happen??

When we're alone he's fine, the minute the Mr shows up here comes the drama and the "Mom is Bad" attitude. But it doesn't stop there, I noticed that I had now become the "other parent", I was now the third wheel on the boys team and if I chose to parent I was the one being reprimanded by Chunks AND the Mr! Case in point: Chunks climbs on the table, I say "Get down",he hits the floor in tears (not hurt or anything) and wailing at the top of his lungs, I say "Knock it off, nothing's wrong with you", wailing gets louder, in comes Super Dad and tells me I'm upsetting him, SD proceeds to pick up whining child and rocks him to a giggle. Mom goes to her corner.

What kinda burns me up is, a few weeks ago I had a talk with the Mr about him showing affection to Chunks more because he took this ridiculous macho role with showing affection and would often times say "I don't give hugs, I'm not into that" and push Chunks my way and it was PISS ME OFF!! So I explained to him how silly this parenting method was and also how this does not a strong man make and he vowed to change and actually has. Now it seems that he's gone OVER BOARD with the affection, even giving hugs for bad behavior even before any correction has been made. My feelings are hurt, my mom-mind is confused, and I'm annoyed with both of these over dramatic Leos! The Mr thinks that because of my new schedule we're missing out on our one on one time and since he's with him during the day they've formed a little bond that wasn't there before. But why do I have to lose my position as snuggle buddy and giggle pal?? He doesn't even reach for me when he's hurt, he wants his Dad! UGH! I know I should be grateful that they have such a good relationship, but right now my feelings won't let me...

Can I really be the only one? Does your LO have a fav parent? If it's NOT
you, how do you deal?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The 4th Annual Brooklyn Children's Book Fair

After a pretty tantrum filled morning (I'll post on this later) we decided to update Chunk's library collection at the Brooklyn Children's Book Fair at the Brooklyn Museum. It was a beautiful day here in Brooklyn, mother nature can't quite make up her mind what season we're in yet smh, so a nice walk found us taking in the water show in front of the museum's steps before actually going in to the fair. I haven't been to exhibit since the reconstruction was completed (embarrassed to say) but I love it! It wasn't as busy I thought it would've been but we did get there toward the end of the event.

Events at the Brooklyn Museum are always fun and family friendly and today 30 children's authors and illustrators got together to show New Yorkers to newest children's books written and designed by the best of Brooklyn. As the literary capital of the city, Brooklyn has some real talent and I was so excited to see what we could find for Chunks to get interested. Right now he is a lover of books (Goodnight Moon and Caps for Sale are the fav at the moment) and "Book" is the new word of choice lol.

While we seemed to have gotten there after the bigger events of the day, families still hung around and the authors and illustrators were engaging and really friendly with the kids. At the end of our adventures we walked out with 3 pretty interesting books we'll try out at Story Time this week. Of course if you're in the area, you either have to head over to the Library or the Playground and today, the playground won!

Hope you guys are enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Good Sign

A little while back I was asked to read an article that got my attention right away as it concerned higher education and ways to get Chunks thinking and interacting more at his early developmental stage. One of the authors, Emily Patterson, was so kind to reach out about her study in Developmental Sign Language.
Before I had Chunks, a few of my mommy friends were considering teaching their children sign language and at the time I thought naturally children would show you what it was that they needed from you just based on a cry or scream. And then I became a Mom. Then I learned that while some cries mean hungry or tired, there are times when a frustrated scream can only tell you that they're frustrated not necessarily what to do to fix the problem. Without even thinking about it I would gester to things to get Chunks's attention so that I could pinpoint exactly what was bothering him and eventually he started responding and even mimicking my actions, and that was how our "sign language" began.

When I began junior high one of the main things they stressed in our curriculum was that ALL students had to take a foreign language because we were moving into an age where being able to communicate in multiple languages would prove beneficial in our competitiveness to get a job and move up in corporate America. We had the choice between what was becoming popular in the US at the time: Spanish, German, Chinese, and Latin and while I didn't quite understand it then I so get it now. Today, learning sign language, as pointed out in Ms. Patterson's article, and being able to sign with those hearing impaired would be one in an advantage point to reach a wider range of people, thus becoming indespensible= EMPLOYMENT! My grandfather told me, whenever I whined about school, "If they will give you a few more zeros behind your name because you have that piece of paper and you can get it-GO GET IT!" While my grandfather wanted the best for me and wanted me to become a well rounded woman, he knew that being able to always have a job was the key to surviving.

A study done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development showed that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older.
Parents of autistic children benefit from being able to have some level of comunication without the frustration of being able to get the words out right by the child. I've even noticed in Chunks, who is now rattling off 7 distinct words constantly, that signing is a route he uses when he can't quite get the linguistics of a word right. Rather than give up, he uses our other language to get his point accross and tantrums are avoided. I also love that he knows that when he can't get the words out, he can look to me and get what he needs. Now we're not doing the exact ASL (American Sign Language), but I'm learning and I've found that most of my made up gestures are quite similar to some of the standard language.

What about you guys? Have any of you tried or interested in
teaching your little one sign language?
Do you have your own SPECIAL language?

Emily Patterson is a Coordinator for the network of Texas Child Care of the Primrose Schools.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let's Make a Day of It!

I've been strugglin yall! With this night shift schedule I've been feeling like the worst mother in the world because a little while after I get home and in the bed in the mornings, Chunks wakes up, but I'm already sleeping! Then by the time I wake up, a little play time, his nap, dinner, bath, then it's time for me to run right back out to work and in this routine, I'm exhausted! Where's the quality time in that? So lately, I've been trying to develop some type of routine for he and I to have together where we can get our Mommy-Son time and today we actually did it, and with NO tantrums, crying, outbursts, or whining out of either of us!!!

After breakfast, we got dressed and headed out to my childhood favorite museum The American Museum of Natural History. I just knew that he would be in love with all the skeletons and animal displays, and I was right! He Ohh'd! and Whoa'd! then entire walk through each exhibit. When we got up to the mammals area and he  met Mr. Alligator and Mr. Croc he was a little nervous but we worked through it and I'm glad to say little man got over that fear pretty well and quickly.

So off we went to see more bones and before I knew it he was walking up to huge displays with amazement and wonder in his eyes and I just felt so happy that he was loving something that I loved to do as a child and still enjoy. The only thing, I forgot the museum was closed on Mondays so most class trips are scheduled for Tuesdays, I was told Thursdays and Sundays are pretty light for them.

By the end of our trip, he was EXHAUSTED for his second nap.I had planned to stop by the Shake Shack since he loves the one in Madison Park but that place was crowded but by the time he woke up, we had pizza waiting and ready like typical New Yorkers (pizza is a MUST! anyway).
All in all we had a great day together and I was able to get home, take a nap, and make it to work not so tired. Maybe we'll end our days a little early so I can get dinner and a longer nap in but I think this will work for us and I'm more than excited about it! Now I'm off to see what else we can uncover in this city during Mommy & Me time with Chunks.

The museum is also having a great exhibit opening soon that will be great for the kids to check out and interact and learn all about The Brain, we'll def be back for that on a Thursday or Saturday.

What are some Mommy & Me rituals you've come up with? 

Shutterfly and My Time of Year!

I AM A HOLIDAY FANATIC! Besides the cold, I love everything about this time of year. People are a little nicer, there's a different energy throughout NY, and everything has a bit of excitement to it. Rockerfeller Center is THE most gorgeous place this time of year, and although I avoid Macy's at all cost during this time I love the hustle and bustle of 34th St. I love making a big dinner for my family, believe me when it was just DH and I, I would still make a huge spread, big ol turkey or ham, sides, WITH dessert! lol yea I'm fat. The music, the movies ::It's a Wonderful Life:: I love being around family and getting to see cousins, aunts, and uncles I don't get to during the rest of the year. Even those that are in Jamaica and England and Canada are still with us in a way through beautiful cards and e-mails.

Since we got married, I've had the most excitement picking and sending out our Christmas Cards: Love The Joneses!::giggle:: and when Chunks made his arrival it was even bigger. So now that we only have 7 weeks!!! YIKES! til the big day I'm in the process of choosing our cards for this season and I think this year I'm going with Shutterfly.

This year, they have a wide range of Holiday cards to choose from that are right up our alley and so easy to order. Since I love getting Chunks's picture taken as often as I can, their photo cards really stand out this year.

Simple and Classic.
More fun and Family Festive!
I love the colour scheme of this one!

I've never sent Thanksgiving cards but these sure make me want to start a new family tradition.
Right now, Shutterfly is doing a GREAT promotion and are offering 20% off all their holiday cards. But if you want your chance to get 50 FREE holiday cards, click here to find out how.

What kinds of holiday cards do you and your family send out around this time of year? Have you used Shutterfly for any of your invites or announcements?

This post is a series sponsored by Shutterfly.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yummy Mondays-Panera Bread

When I got the invite from Mom Bloggers for their latest event featuring the head baker of Panera Bread,  Tom Gumpel I just knew that I would have to make it, sleep or no sleep. When I went away to school Panera Bread quickly became one of my go to spots for comfort food ::love their Asiago Focaccia Bread!!::.

Tom was engaging and truly knows his bread history and facts. He kept us excited about getting into the kitchen and boy when we did!! The smell alone was enough to keep us wanting more, even if we weren't into the science of yeast and water and temperature. Many of us tweeted our excitement and couldn't wait to test taste the goodies Tom was coming out with.
When I heard we were trying their bread pudding I was ready to take notes because the Mr loves it but I haven't found a delish southern recipe yet, but to my surprise it wasn't the sweet, gooey goodness but a VERY tempting layering of bread and shredded asiago cheese. SO CREAMY AND DELISH!! This would make the ideal starter to any party or even as part of light meal.

Tom and I in our Top Chef pose!
It's always great to get around other great and hilarious bloggers and learn about a great event. This was Panera's trial run in NYC as they are currently searching for a space in the city big enough for everything needed in a Panera kitchen that makes sense for the company,slated for the end of the year. Also, look out for contest hosted by Panera in November where the grand prize would be a full tuition prize to The Culinary Institute! 

ASIAGO STRATA (Cheesy Bread Pudding)
Serves: 6-8 people

2 tablespoons sweetened/salted butter (soft)
1-1/2 cup milk
1 cup cream
3 whole eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of cracked black pepper
1 loaf (18 ounces) Asiago bread
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Brush the sides and bottom of 8” baking dish with butter.

Custard: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, salt and pepper and set aside.

Slice the bread in thin, even slices, approximately ¼" thick. Start assembly of the pudding (strata) by placing bread slices on the bottom of the dish until bottom is completely covered. Sprinkle shredded Asiago cheese on the bread slices to cover completely. Cover with another layer of bread slices and sprinkle cheese on top, again covering bread slices completely.

Continue to build the strata for as many layers as dish allows, then pour custard mixture over top of strata. Cover the strata and refrigerate for 15 minutes, allowing the bread slices to soak in custard mixture.

Place the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any dripping of the custard. Bake for approximately 35- 45 minutes. The custard should gain a rich dark color and rise slightly from the pan (it will settle after removal from the oven). Carefully remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes before unmolding.

Carefully invert the strata onto a plate and serve hot or warm as an starter dish, as I mentioned before, or as an accompaniment with meat and vegetables to fill out the meal.
(Recipe courtesy of Panera Bread)


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