Friday, November 10, 2017

Public Transportation Connects Communities: Bring Back the B71 Bus!

Led by Council Member Brad Lander, Brooklyn residents are coming together to say "Bring Back the B71 Bus!"  I signed the petition, which states what many of my Brooklyn neighbors already know, which is that reinstating the route would connect students, seniors, families, NYCHA residents, and people with disabilities to schools, businesses and cultural institutions: nine schools, three senior centers, multiple public housing developments, and some of Brooklyn’s best cultural centers.  The bus will bring better access and increased mobility to the students, aging communities and families of booming neighborhoods Red Hook, Columbia Waterfront, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights.

As Council Member Lander stated, "When the MTA made system-wide budget cuts in 2010, Brooklynites were hit hard. Ten Brooklyn bus lines were eliminated (more than any other borough), including the B71, which was a lifeline for seniors, students, and families along the Union Street corridor. Despite the economic recovery, the line was never restored, leaving riders stranded despite significant population growth along the route."

To illustrate one family's B71 story, I want to share one reason I would like the B71 bus back.  No, neither my livelihood nor my health will be improved if this bus route comes back, but the bus would help my Park Slope family take advantage of some of the wonderful cultural institutions that Brooklyn has to offer and help expand our community to neighborhoods that aren't as accessible without the B71 bus.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Go as a Superhero: How to Dress up as the Neighborhood Icee Lady

Throwing it back to Halloween 2016 when my daughter dressed up as one of her heroes, the neighborhood Icee Lady.  People in our Brooklyn neighborhood unexpectedly were crazy-happy to see this costume.

How did we make the cart?  My husband zip tied a cardboard box around a doll stroller and made the top of the box flap open.  Inside, we set in another cardboard box to make an inner containter for the pretend Icees.  Details are everything!

We used Rapid Resizer to create the stencil pattern.  After printing, I exacto'd out the letters.

 We used stamp pads to tap the color onto the Icee Cart.

We printed out a copy of the Marino's Italian Ices sign and taped on a box of ice cream cones.

We test drove the Icee cart around the apartment.

Educational, STEM-based Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

We often host small birthday parties for our young kids at home or in the park, but when things are really busy in our lives, it's a nice option to host a drop off event at a birthday party venue.  It's been a crazy year, so we got help and I'm glad we did.  The venues we used were both fantastic and I like when parties are educational workshops disguised as fun!

This year we hosted small parties at Brooklyn Robot Foundry on Atlantic Avenue and The Tiny Scientist in Windsor Terrace.  I'd recommend both locations because they both really know and cater to kids, they both have a lot of experience hosting birthday parties and they both offer STEM/STEAM learning experiences as part of their party packages.

Here's a photo review of both parties.  First up is my daughter's 4th birthday party at Brooklyn Robot Foundry and the theme was, of course, robots.

Robot made of birthday presents
Committed to the theme: robots!

Friday, August 11, 2017

What Is a Farm Stay and What Do You Do If You're There on Chicken Slaughter Day?

About 90% of board books and kids songs seem to be farm-related, right?  This New York City family drove 3.5 hours towards the Catskill Mountains in East Meredith, NY, to stay at Stone & Thistle Farm and investigate this alluring world that children's books are obsessed with.  We were surprised to learn that barnyard animals do NOT actually wear sunglasses or dance around in pajamas, but there is a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there.

Actually, it wasn't our first visit to a farm, so we knew that.  We visited Stone and Thistle Farm in 2014 and left thinking that it would be a great to return regularly to the farm we have been buying meat from at a greenmarket in Brooklyn.  Staying for a couple of nights is a mind/body/soul experience for us.  Yes, one can visit a farm for a couple of hours, but I think you have to stay longer to feel the rhythm of a farm and understand what a contrast a diversified family farm is to the world of factory farms and monoculture. My husband and I tell our kids to respect the earth, animals and each other, but you really see how it all connects when you stay at this farm.  It's something you can't learn from books.


So, for the 4th of July, we rented a car and did a two-night farm stay at Stone & Thistle. 

 We were reminded that eggs don't come from the refrigerator of a grocery store. 

A lot of hard work that starts at 5 am goes into running a farm.

When you stay at Stone & Thistle, you literally stay in the middle of a working farm.  There are animals all around, there, everywhere.  My kids loved visiting with the chickens in the morning when they were let out of their coops, later to visit the hens and collect eggs, and then circle back in the evening to put chickens back in their coops.

We took some time to explore outside the farm and find some ponds to swim in, but we enjoyed roaming around the farm and doing farm chores the most.

Farm life is the opposite of city life...

But, if you find yourself missing the city, there's a touch of NYC graffiti if you look for it.

 You do get used to the squawking.  (Lotta birds.)

We happened to be at the farm on Thursday, which is chicken slaughter day.  We had to decide whether we were going to let our children witness, from afar, how chickens become food.  Would it be brutal?  When I saw a nine-year-old girl participating in the slaughter process (her "job" was to cut the chicken feet off), I realized that to many people, turning animals into food is just part of life, not something that requires censoring.  This is where our food comes from.  It suddenly seemed more dishonest to me to hide that step of the process from our kids.  They can see every other stage, but not that?  It definitely got us thinking.  We chose to let our kids see the process from a distance and they got it.  As Farmer Tom said, kids usually take from the experience what their parents end up telling them about the experience.  

If you want to stay at and experience a working farm, I highly recommend Stone & Thistle upstate for an educational  and worthwhile experience.  If you would like to buy meat from a wonderful family farm, Stone & Thistle sells its meat at greenmarkets in Brooklyn and elsewhere.

New York City Family thanks the Warren Family for raising happy, healthy animals. 

Stone & Thistle Farm