Story hour at Atticus

I just found out about their weekly story hour for kids (3 and up): Saturdays at 11am. This weekend's line-up includes Saint George and the Dragon (Margaret Hodges), George Shrinks (William Joyce) and Sheila Ray the Brave(Kevin Henkes).

This Sunday (10/30, 11am) there is also a special Halloween Story Time: Trick or Treat (Bill Martin), Cinderhazel(Deborah Norse Lattimore), and There's a Nightmare in my Closet(Mercer Mayer0.

Atticus is located right across from the Yale Art Gallery, on that strip of Chapel where I always feel underdressed . The children's books there are really well selected: from our favorite Bill Martin and Eric Carle to Curious George to a latin translation of the Cat in the Hat (Cattus Petasasus).

Twice this week, we have ridden a loop around downtown on the trolley with a stop there to share a bowl of black bean soup (which comes with a generous portion of their famous ciabatta bread), and I just now realized that I have yet to post my Atticus review on the eat page, so here it is:

Atticus has take-out service at the counter, or table service inside. There is one high-chair, but there is also enough space to pull up a stroller by some of the tables. The unisex bathroom has a changing table (which, incidentally, seems to be mounted higher on the wall than most. I guess it would be nice for a tall newhavenbaby's daddy?).
Stroller-rating: easy enough if you go in the middle door. Avoid the door by the coffee counter, unless you are only getting coffee / take-out. The tables on that side of the restaurant are pretty close, and it does get crowded. The children's section and the contemporary fiction are at street level.

Atticus is located at 1082 Chapel St. Phone number is (203) 776-4040.


Oh Moka, how I crave thee...

Newhavenbaby and I stopped by Moka recently to get our afternoon chocolate fix. We had been planning (and dreaming of chocolate) for months, but that downtown construction on Orange St. makes me a little crazy. That said, we finally chose a day with some extra time to drive around the block a few times. And, oh, the chocolate...

We shared a Portlander crepe for lunch, and we (yes, we) sipped on an iced Azteca chocolate. The Portlander was fabulous, the service was good, and the Azteca chocolate was an interesting surprise. I imagined a mexican-named chocolate drink described as spicy to have that scrumptious cinnamony, dark-chocolaty flavor and ended up with red pepper swirling around in my cup. Not the best choice for sharing sips with newhavenbaby in my opinion, but he loved it just the same.

The scoop: order at the counter, and a server brings your order to you when it is ready. Baby-friendly service seems to be a high priority, and the server cheerfully brought an extra plate (and lots o'napkins) for newhavenbaby to share my lunch. There is a high-chair stashed behind the counter, just ask if it is not offered to you. There are also several comfy couches to sink into. We chose a table by the window, and newhavenbaby played with his matchbox cars while he watched the real cars whiz by. Stroller-rating is an A+, and the unisex bathroom is easily accessible.

I also heard a very reliable rumor that it is a nice toddler-friendly place to hang-out in the quiet afternoons after the lunch rush. Make sure to get on the email list for weekly "333" specials (3 hours starting at 3 o'clock: a special drink and a ‘treat’ for $3.00 with a copy of the email from that week). Email mokanewhaven@yahoo.com, and tell Duncan that newhavenbaby sent you.

Moka is located at 144 Orange St (on the one-way between Elm and Chapel), New Haven, CT 06510. Phone is 203-752-0052.

Halloween starts tomorrow...

On Thursday (10/27), the city of New Haven celebrates with the mayor's Halloween Parade. Newhavenkids will be dressing up as their favorite literary characters to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the New Haven Book Bowl, a reading incentive program. We missed the parade last year, but saw all the buses parked downtown and the costumed newhavenkids climbing back in.
What a cool idea to have everyone dress as literary characters. That's a party I wouldn't mind having an invitation to...

The parade starts at 10:30am on "marching from the corner of Temple and
Chapel Streets, up Chapel to High Street to Elm Street and back
to Temple. There will also be ten school bands joining in to keep
the beat."
More info? 946-7821 or infonewhaven.com


Thinking about preschool?

It's hard to believe that there's more to finding a preschool than just taking newhavenbaby to the door and signing him up.
In the first installment of our new feature, contributing editor Betsy Branch gives parents of newhavenbabies hot tips for selecting the perfect pre-school for their budding scholars.


Ceratopsian Countdown

Our kids are going to be the only dinosaur fans in America who look at one of those hulking herbivores with horns and bony frill and chirp “Torosaurus!” instead of “Triceratops!” They are, in fact, related but different creatures, and if your kid winds up going through a dinosaur stage, the fine distinctions of frill size and configuration will become meaningful. In the meantime, I’m just glad that soon the anguished anticipation of certain young personnel will be sated… the gorgeous new Torosaurus sculpture at the Peabody is scheduled to be officially unveiled on Saturday at 11:00. Free activities (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) on just the right scale for the tot set are promised: digging in sand, tossing beanbags, and so forth. When your little one asks, “But how did they make it?”, forget the confusing poster on the way to the Discovery Room and head straight for the website, where sculptor Michael Anderson talks about the process and a totally cool series of photos shows how it came about.

We may head down Sachem, after we’ve satisfied our Torosaurus yearnings, and cross the street over toward the School of Management, in front of which grow several horse chestnut trees. The little guy and I already had one satisfying little horse-chestnut-hunting expedition in the rain last week; we washed the mud off them at home and spread them on a towel to dry. There’s not really anything constructive to do with them, as far as I can determine (unless you’re interested in promoting a revival of the fading British pastime of conkers), but I still find them irresistible.


Farewell, Xanadu

Anyone who has whiled away a rainy day in the cozy comfort of Xanadu Family Center in Hamden, trailing little ones from one room full of toys to the next while chatting with mom (or dad) friends, will be as sad as I was to learn that Xanadu has closed its doors for good. I was planning a visit there to check out the new site on Hartford Turnpike when I heard the news from a friend. The Xanadu answering machine message now says, "It's unfortunate that we have had to close due to financial reasons and will not be reopening."

After the big move to the new location this summer, the center had shifted its focus somewhat, downplaying the drop-in lounge aspect and concentrating on upgraded class offerings, child care, and its new preschool component. Before my little guy started preschool, we spent a lot of time at the old site, and made some great mom-and-kid friends there. I liked the flexibility of being able to come once in a while or take a class every week, and the babysitting option was very handy. Xanadu filled a real need... I guess the problem was figuring out how to make it pay. We're sorry to see you go, guys.


Jerry-san's Sushi Bar ---YUM!

So we may have a new favorite restaurant...

We decided that we have had good luck in West Haven lately, why not try sushi there too. Driving up to Jerry-san's we were a little apprehensive, as it seemed to be smack dab in the middle of an Infiniti car lot. However, our apprehension was short lived as we were welcomed inside by the super-friendly staff. The restaurant was relatively empty at 5:45 when we got there (but full with a wait at 7 when we left), and they seated us at table in a nice baby-friendly corner. Newhavenbaby ordered for himself ("Rice, please.") We also ordered a new treat for him, cucumber rolls, and he amused himself by taking bites out of each little roll, one at a time. The waiters brought him a pretty cup with a stirrer/straw and went out of there way to talk to him, give him extra ice, and make sure he was happy.
The restaurant seemed to be a nice mix of families and couples, and we saw a big bowl of kid-rigged chopsticks at the server station. The atmosphere was warm, casual, and comfortable. We really had a nice dinner.

Jerry-san's Sushi Bar / Daiko Japanese Restaurant is located at 400 Derby St. in West Haven. (203) 392-3626. It is a little ways down past the Yale Bowl, coming from New Haven. My deluxe sushi dinner (10 pieces + tuna roll) was $18.50, hot saki $3, newhavenbaby's cucumber roll was $3.50 and his daddy's red and white sushi was $16.


Rain,rain, go AWAY

...because we have been cooped up in this house way too long.

Supposing it may stop raining tomorrow, East Rock Park is having a fall festival from 11am-3pm with crafts for kids. It is geared toward school-aged kids; I would guess that activities could be toddler friendly with parent supervision. It sounds like a lot of it may be indoors, but make sure to call ahead before you set out tomorrow.

"The East Rock Fall Festival consists of arts and crafts activities at College Woods (at the pavilion and the ranger station) - including pumpkin painting, button making, and beading projects. New Haven's portable climbing wall will be here in College Woods as well. There was also supposed to be a Canoe New Haven component in the Mill River, but due to the heavy rain and the river at flood stage, the canoeing has been cancelled. I believe there is a tractor drawn hayride scheduled for the summit, and the Trowbridge Center will be open for visitors."

The Trowbridge Nature Center is open most Thursdays and Fridays. Newhavenbaby had a great time decorating a fall leaf for the wall decoration last week. There were hawks on display, as well as live fish, turtles and a snake (or two?) to look at. Newhavenbaby's favorite activity, however, was getting little cups of water from the water cooler.

Contact info:
Tom Parlapiano, Naturalist
Trowbridge Environmental Center
East Rock Park


Mothers & More of Greater New Haven

Rosanne recently contacted me about a new Greater New Haven chapter of Mothers & More, a national not-for-profit support group for mothers, and she was nice enough to answer a few of our questions:

Rosanne, how did you get started with Mothers & More?
I used to be a member of Mothers & More in Utah, I recently moved to CT and there wasn't a chapter in this area so I decided to start one.

What kind of activities do you do together?
Playgroups, Moms & Tots activities, Coffee Club, Mom's Night Out, Book Club, and montlhy meetings.

When and where are your meetings?
Our meetings are generally held the 2nd Tuesday of month at the Arden House in Hamden, 850 Mix Avenue, 7:30 pm. Our first meeting is on October 18th.

What is your favorite part of the group?
Meeting other moms, offering support to eachother, getting a night away from mom duties once in a while, and getting the kids together to make new friends!

Where can newhavenmamas who are interested get more information?
Email me at mothersandmoregnh@hotmail.com, or visit our website at http://mothersandmoregnh.tripod.com/


A short ride to the Shore Line Trolley

It's hard to believe that Newhavenbaby turned 2 (!!) this weekend. We had hoped to repeat our birthday apple-picking trip from last year, but this icky weather forced us inside. Serendipitously, we ended up at the Shore Line Trolley Museum, near the Tweed airport in East Haven. Newhavenbaby has a new fascination with trains, and a search for train activities at ParentsFirst site led us to the museum. Newhavenbaby has not stopped asking to go back since we got back in the car at the museum to go home. He has been harassing his daddy to take him on the "green trolley" (aka the downtown New Haven electric trolley) since he recognized it yesterday from his carseat view.

The scoop:
The people who worked at the museum were very friendly. There is a small exhibit inside to look at while you wait for the trolley to arrive. The trolley ride is 3 miles long and winds through some beautiful marshlands to Short Beach and back. The trolley makes a stop at what we called "the Roundhouse" where you can climb around in beautifully restored trolley cars. The conductor/tourguide was interesting in a Steve Buscemi kind of way. We had our lunch inside on the trolley station benches. I didn't ask if food was allowed, but no one stopped us either.

Stroller-rating: leave it in the trunk! The museum is small enough to carry or chase your newhavenbaby, and you won't need a stroller on the trolley. Newhavenbaby got a little heavy at "the Roundhouse" until we abandonded the tour group and let him and little c climb the trolleys with wild abandon. I don't think you'd have much luck with a stroller there anyway---the ground is gravel and you cross lots of tracks. One of the buildings has stairs (and a box of rusty saws at toddler level!), and the passageway in one of the other buildings is very narrow.

The trolley museum is about 5 minutes down I-95 to exit 51. There aren't clear signs along the way, so make sure to copy the directions from the Web site. Check hours too; the museum is usually open on the weekends. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 2 and up, and free for children under 2.


"Elimination Communication"

According to the Times, parents a few years from now will no longer be using diapers. They will learn to toilet-train their children when they are a few months old. The article goes on to say, "Most important, they say, is an increased emotional bond with the baby, forged by the need for the parent to pick up on subtle signs and act on them quickly. Proponents of the practice use the phrase 'elimination communication.'"

There has been some talk in the press that American Moms are too child-centric, ignoring their careers, leisure time, etc in favor of the progeny. My advice to stem the tide of insanity is the following,


Duck soup? I'll trust you on this one.

At a baby-centric cocktail party recently, L. shared a find in Hamden to add to our list: Duck Soup Cafe . She liked the little low counter with crayons and toys where kids could sit and eat and play.

My plan was to try to get there before I posted about it, as it is on the way to Sleeping Giant State Park and Brooksvale Park in Hamden--both places I have been planning on taking newhavenbaby this fall. Since L.'s little boy is very frequently sporting the same shoes as newhavenbaby, I know she has good taste, and I'm posting it now in hopes that we will get there soon.

Duck Soup is located at 3584 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT.