eating out with littles!

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one of the things we love about living in new york city is the food! it’s all just so good, even when it’s terrible. ;)   we tend to cook at home more often these days with our little ones, but we still enjoy eating out together! (you can find some of our favorite spots in my NYC GUIDES, ps.)

it’s fun to head to different neighborhoods and try new foods with our kids in tow, and despite what some might think, i believe new york is incredibly accommodating for families dining out (which is nice for a mama who struggles with consistent grocery lists and cooking routines, much to my mother and mother-in-law’s dismay. but yeah, new york is definitely a win-win for me regarding this situation.

while eating our food together can be an adventure in and of itself, for me, it’s also about the experience of going somewhere together, and having a good time with each other while we wait for our food to arrive, or as we choose which things to order.  whether it’s our favorite spot to grab pizza or hummus, or a new restaurant we’re all trying for the first time, i sometimes think these experiences have helped our kids be more adventurous eaters, often trying new things we don’t make at home.

i thought i’d share a few tips and tricks we have picked up over the past four and half years when taking our little ones to a restaurant. we definitely are always learning as we go, so would love to hear how you make it work for your family as well in the comments below!

5 TIPS AND TRICKS FOR EATING OUT WITH KIDS!

1. TIMING (FOR EXAMPLE, GO BEFORE THE CROWDS!)
if we’re heading to brunch on a saturday morning or dinner on a weekday night, we’ll try to go earlier than typical peak times. this way, we avoid long lines or crowds and somehow the kids feel more manageable as well! and we are always conscientious of nap times and bedtimes.

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2. VERBAL GAMES, CONVERSATION, ENGAGEMENT
we try really hard to keep our meals, whether at our home or out, entirely about spending time talking and engaging with each other through conversations that include everyone or with verbal games.  that’s not to say we haven’t experienced the kind of chaos while we’re out where we end up handing over an iPhone with a game on it to one of the littles to distract them or keep them in their seat, but that is the exception and has rarely happened. we try really hard to keep our meals completely about spending that time totally together, and not about toys or iPads.

i’ve mentioned this before, but we love to ask each other questions. and it’s become second nature for eleanor and samson now to ask these sorts of things right when they sit down at the table! “how has your day been today, mama?” “what did you do today?” “what did your dream about last night?” we go around and make sure everyone gets a turn to answer if they’d like. and from there, more questions or conversations begin. josh and i also try to make sure if we’re chatting about anything to each other while we’re at the table with our kids, to be careful what we’re talking about in front of them.  these little ones are the best listeners and can pick up on our tone really well, too.  that’s a whole other post though, because i have a lot of thoughts about what we should be saying, and not saying in front of our kiddos.

but anyway, right now, we love playing the word association game at the table! eleanor grasps it really well and samson is catching on! it’s where i say “red” and then the next person says the first word that comes to their mind that “red” reminds them of, like “cherries” and then the following person says the first word that “cherries” reminds them of, such as “fruit.” and so on and so on. it’s so fun to see where it takes us! we’ll start with something completely innocent like “soda” and several rounds later end up on something totally crazy like “dragons!” naturally. (ps. it’s amazing how toddlers can work in “dragons” or “castle” to any kind of conversation, actually.)

we play a lot of “i spy with my little eye…” too.  we try to not have toys at the table (a little bit of a struggle right now since conrad really needs a few things to hold onto and put in his mouth since he’s so little), but for the older two, i believe they are old enough to sit with us, and eat with us.

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(ps. sometimes, i have to remind myself to still let my kids be kids at the table though! eating rice with chopsticks is frustrating, i get it! sometimes you just gotta get into it with your hands!)

3. WIPE DOWN THE HIGHCHAIR
i feel like my kids have some of the best immune systems out there thanks to all the germs they encounter on a daily basis in this city (oh bless you subway pole that samson straight up licked last winter when i was taking him to art class in tribeca! HOW we didn’t get sick from that adventure i still haven’t a clue. but it’s a miracle.) even though we have been spared for now, i feel like highchairs in public spaces can be some of the stickiest and grimiest surfaces.  so i like to try to wipe it down a bit before placing conrad inside it. and since he likes to put things in his mouth right now, i try to wipe down the table edge near him and anything else within his reach.  (if i’m really together i’ll bring fancy all purpose surface wipes with me, but more often than not, i just use regular baby wipes. they might not even really pick up much dirt, but it gives me peace of mind. ;)

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4. ASK FOR A BOOTH OR CORNER SEAT
on this particular day while we were out, we ate outside since the weather was amazing and there was an open table, but sometimes requesting an available booth or a table in the back corner can help wiggly littles ones who have a tendency to want to run around stay in their seats a little bit better! in the kindest way possible, it almost traps them in! haha!

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5. ORDER RIGHT WHEN YOU SIT DOWN, AND ASK FOR THE CHECK WHEN YOUR FOOD ARRIVES, TOO
it’s nice to get the food on the table quickly.  that’s not to say we don’t enjoy taking our time sitting together and eating our meal slowly, we do! but sometimes, it’s nice to get the order in just in case something happens and it takes longer than expected to get your waiter’s attention or the kitchen is really busy.  (if we haven’t had a chance to look over the menu before sitting down, we like to ask for some bread for the table so there is something handy for the kids if needed.) we also like to ask for the check once the food arrives as well, just so it’s out of the way and we can hop out of the restaurant at a moments notice if necessary.  it wasn’t always this way, but now with 3 little ones, sometimes it’s nice to just be ready! last but not least, tip generously. haha! i know it’s a lot to serve such a crazy bunch and i so appreciate those that wait on our table in such a friendly and kind way. i know it isn’t easy for them when we bring three kids along to a restaurant, so i think it’s important.

so those are pretty much our 5 biggest tricks we have discovered.  timing of our meal, games and conversations we can all participate in, wiping down the space for baby, asking for a corner seat or back booth, and ordering right when we sit down (and asking for the check when our food arrives, too.)

oh wait! i just thought of another. josh and i sometimes eat in shifts.  so the food comes, and we switch off who is helping the kids, focusing on their needs entirely or holding conrad too for 10 minutes or so, while the other one eats, and then we switch.  that’s a minor one, and sometimes a bit of a struggle if we both ordered something hot! but it works really nicely for us.

anything i’ve left off this list that is key for your family?

my dinner in DC!

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while conrad and i were in DC earlier this week, i had the best time hosting a fun dinner for google and the google express team in at the jefferson hotel!  one of my favorite things is meeting like-minded mothers who are passionate about raising their little ones as well as pursuing other incredible outlets and gifts and i always leave their presence feeling inspired and encouraged.  i was able to meet 30 remarkable women at this dinner and i’m still talking about them! josh is probably so tired of me weaving in yet another story about one of the ladies into our conversations. haha!

it was also so great getting the chance to share my love for google express with these ladies over dinner, because it’s been a game changer for us in terms of making city life easier this past year. if you aren’t familiar with their services, you can order things from specific stores in your area (like costco, your local grocery store, target in a few zip codes including new york!, walgreens, etc,) and even when you’re ordering 1 item from this store, and 4 items from another store, it’ll all be under one order, and delivered same day to your door! i have the app on my phone, so i can do all my shopping through the app while i’m nursing conrad and nothing makes me feel more productive than multitasking. ;) also, cheers to anything that helps you have one less errand and a few less things on your big old to-do list!

anyway, there’s a promo code at the bottom of this post for anyone who might like to try google express out for the first time! and you can click here to see if it’s in your area, since they are expanding and planning to serve more zip codes throughout the year.

a few photos from dinner!….

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the jefferson hotel lobby is so beautiful!

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oh hey, that’s me. standing in front of a backdrop the google express team made out of real flowers! it was so pretty.
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i had never tried red beet gnocchi before, but i need to find more! have you ever tried it? delicious.

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group photo!

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also, how great is this crate of little gifts google express put together for our guests! a few of my favorite things in there including a SELFIE STICK because you all know i haven’t shut up about mine the last few days since i got one. ;)
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so my friend (and josh’s cousin!) came in from virginia to watch baby conrad in my hotel room during the event. towards the very end of the dinner while we were having dessert, he woke up for her and was screaming and wouldn’t take the bottle from her as she tried to soothe him.  when i got her text i ran up to try to help for a few minutes because i just can’t deal when my little ones aren’t okay. after nursing him, he was fast asleep in my arms so i brought him downstairs with me for the last 15 or 20 minutes of the event while my friend took a break (lol! screaming babies! it’s a lot to handle, especially when they aren’t yours!). meredith, you are THE BEST! it was so fun having her come in too, because once the event was over we were able to just hang out and talk until after midnight in my hotel room (since conrad was back down for the night!) and i really needed that.

thanks again to google and the google express team for having me and to all the ladies who came! if you want to give google express a try, use the promo code EXPRESSDC for $25 off your first order for new costumers through august 5th! photos from the dinner via the google express team. 

a few days in DC!

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i spent the last few days in DC with conrad! i went down to host a dinner (which i’ll share more about later!) and brought conrad along since he’s still breastfeeding and little and thought it’d be fun to do something with just the two of us. we took the train down and had the best time wandering around my favorite old blocks and neighborhoods and of course eating all my favorite food while we were at it.  a few photos from my iphone…

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my big boy on the train heading down! he’s a great little travel buddy, i’m so proud of him. and since my hotel had a TV, i watched the men tell all episode of the bachelorette live, which is a show i’m kind of obsessed with this season, so it was fun to get to watch it in real time (i usually catch up on it online during the week here and there while i’m working on other things.) i’m almost embarrassed at how invested i feel in this season. like, i think and worry about the show way more than i should.  what is happening to me!?

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the night my train got in, conrad and i dropped our bags off at the hotel and marched ourselves straight over to capitol hill.  because, probably my favorite neighborhood ever, and i miss living there more than you know! it was ridiculously hot outside and we were pouring with sweat, but i couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

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also, speaking of what is happening to me!… i bought a selfie stick. WHAT! seriously, what is happening to me.  i am loving it! but i have to say, people that use these things have skills you guys because there is a seriously learning curve i am still trying to figure out. i ended up attaching it to my stroller (which was easier than holding the stick and conrad) to get this picture. haha! it’s a process.

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most of my selfie stick pictures looked something like this. still figuring this whole thing out. but just wait, cause i have no shame. i’ll get this. the best moment of the trip had to be when i was awkwardly holding it out in georgetown trying to snap a photo and these two girls walked by and were all, “um. do you want us to take a picture for you?” ha!

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even with the scaffolding, the capitol is so pretty. and so is that good lookin’ burger and shake from good stuff. IT FELT LIKE THE OLDEN DAYS.

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and now, onto the important stuff. 2amy’s…. what i really came to DC for. (just kidding. but after the hosting dinner thing that brought me down to DC in the first place, this was definitely second on my list of important matters.)

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the morning after my dinner, we stopped by the sculpture garden to explore and see friends!

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deb27bfbf just a little baked and wired love!
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and a little carousel on the national mall love, too.  can you believe after all those years living there and visiting since we’ve moved, it was my first time on that carousel? wish there would have been more time to see and do everything, but hope to be back soon! thanks for being so good to us, DC. i love you!

family bike rides in the city!

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one of our favorite things to do together is ride our bikes, and we love how new york has so many bike lanes and bike paths to make the experiences more fun and safe. we’ve biked with eleanor and samson from the minute we got the go ahead from their pediatricians, so now that conrad can join us, we took the bikes out on saturday for a short little ride to grab lunch together.  josh carried eleanor and samson in the bucket bike, while conrad and i did our own little thing. we had a great time. a few photos below….

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*and i just wanted to put a small disclaimer up about biking with little ones. i know the age varies a lot online about when little ones can or should begin to bike with you, so it’s always just best to consult with your pediatricians as they know your child best and if he or she is strong enough, able enough to ride along with you. i’m not an expert on anything around this topic. these are just a few photos from our little adventure on saturday!

**updated disclaimer– we weren’t aware that the law in new york doesn’t allow children under the age of 1 to be transported by a bicycle and that there may be health concerns for those babies who aren’t strong enough. thank you to those who brought this to our attention!

sundays.

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i love sundays.  they start out incredibly hectic and chaotic over here, as we try to get everyone dressed and fed and out the door for early morning church. despite our best efforts each week, getting there on time is such a novelty. (face palm.)

and then church. i think church is always a good idea. although with a new baby, i will admit i struggle getting anything out of it. i spent pretty much the entire three hours of church yesterday nursing conrad in the mother’s lounge while he slept. he’s been teething hard lately so his sleeping pattern is off and he’s up most nights fussier than usual because he’s uncomfortable.  while i don’t mind the extra snuggles and cuddles, it’s rough to watch him so unsettled and even harder when he only wants me 24/7 and doesn’t want to be put down or held by someone else.  i know it’s a short phase and we’re almost through it, but it’s an awful one for sure. and when he’s having a three hour epic nap at a place like church, i’m like “why aren’t we home so i can be napping too!?” (oh man i just read that paragraph back….do i sound super lazy and whiny right now?)

now that eleanor is old enough for sunday school (she is in the sunbeam class at church), i love hearing all about what she learned on our way home.  today, she learned about courage, and hearing her share her interpretations of the songs and lessons she is learning, it always brings everything back to square one.  THIS is why i’m going to church with a teething baby and spending the entire three hour block of time in either the hallway or mother’s lounge while getting absolutely nothing spiritual or uplifting out of it myself…. i go to set an example for my little ones, and because they are getting everything out of it that they should be. and it just helps soften the blow of “hallway church” when i hear all about having courage from my four year old on the way home.

anyway, once we get home, our sunday afternoons tend to be really easy going and laid back over here.  that’s not to say our kids are more easy going and laid back on sunday afternoons (lol. it’s like the opposite sometimes i swear), but we try to eat a good meal together at home, facetime with our families and focus on each other. josh and i snapped a couple of photos yesterday afternoon of a few moments together…
sunday8435^^^reading to the bigger kids while conrad turned the pages for us. more like tried to destroy the pages, but you know. sounds better. ;)^^^

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^^^putting the chalk board wall to good use this weekend where eleanor and samson can earn a star for helping do a chore or by being extra kind. five stars equals a scoop of ice cream because yep, i’m not above bribing my children.  don’t judge me until you’re a parent. and if you are a parent and haven’t ever bribed your child, HOW?! but also, WOW! i prefer to just call it a reward, not a bribe. because i reward myself with treats like scoops of ice cream when i do something big or hard or challenging. anyway. the chalk board wall and this star system. it works for us like you wouldn’t believe!^^^

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^^^and ever since our day on balboa island, we’ve been obsessed with frozen bananas. we make our own plain ones by sticking popsicle sticks into peeled bananas and then freezing them for a few hours. they are tasty!^^^

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^^^we went on our first bike ride with conrad on saturday which was so much fun! it’s always a big deal when one of our little ones is officially old enough to join our biking family. we took a few pictures on the bikes so i’ll share them soon! (by the way, nutcase is making baby sized helmets now that come in xxs size. we found one on amazon and it fits great!)^^^

sunday95675 sunday85656^^^and his solids game is going strong! yesterday he ate little bits of chicken, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pita, a ton of broccoli and a bit of steak right off our plates! those new teeth are coming in handy!^^^

have a wonderful monday, friends!