Amy Shearn - NYC Writer
Amy writes about babies, books and Brooklyn on her blog Household Words. She's also the author of the novel How Far is the Ocean From Here, and is currently working on a second book. More of her writing can be found at amyshearn.com.
More About Amy
What's your favorite spot to hang out with kids in NYC?
I love to go to Brooklyn’s Central Library and stock up on new books. My daughter loves sitting on the little chairs in the children’s section. Then we walk home through Prospect Park and stop at a playground. Perfect day.
What do you do when you are kid-free?
I don’t understand the question.
Where do you live?
Where do you wish you lived?
In Park Slope, but in a beautiful brownstone with a yard. And a maid. Just kidding about the maid. Sort of.
What's the best job you ever had?
My first job out of grad school was ghost-writing a humor book. I worked out of the author's brownstone in the West Village, where we sat around eating take-out and trying to think of funny things all day. It was excellent.
What's your best or worst parenting moment?
When Harper held her baby brother's hand and told him, "Baby Alton, we are going to be best friends."
What's your least favorite thing about raising kids in NYC?
Freaking out about public schools.
Latest posts by Amy S.
A few years ago, I never imagined I'd become the kind of person who plans an entire day around my exercise class. I thought only old ladies and fitness nuts did that.
Not anymore. These days, I'm all over my Thursday morning Mommy & Me class. It's a great workout and a lot of fun for me and my son. It really jump starts our day.
We've written about Mommy & Me swim classes and stroller workouts before, but there are other ways you can get back in shape while bonding with your baby. Local YMCAs, gyms and other outlets also offer parent and baby yoga classes, Pilates and, my class of choice, aerobics.
Not all Mommy & Me classes are the same, though. We've got the scoop on the differences, as well as a roundup of other parent and baby exercise options in NYC.
My daughter had just turned two, and naturally we wanted to do something special to celebrate. But when I started to research venues to rent, I realized that we were looking at $300-plus for a few hours of toddlers smashing frosting into things--and that was just to rent the space! I couldn't justify the expense, especially her young age.
But how could we have a party at home in our teeny, tiny 1.5 bedroom apartment? Well, we found out and we've lived to tell the very successful tale. Here are 10 simple rules to follow when you want to host a budget birthday in a small space.
Since his Knuffle Bunny series of children's books are clearly set in Brooklyn, we'll always think of Mo Willems as a New Yorker—even if technically he doesn't live here anymore. But many of his most beloved book series, including Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, and Knuffle, were originally created when he lived in NYC, so he's definitely a local celeb in our book.
For his work as an author and illustrator, Willems has received three Caldecott Honors and two Theodore Seuss Geisel Medals, and he won six Emmys during his stint as a writer on Sesame Street (another iconic NYC work of art). But really, his most impressive credentials are how much kids (and parents) love and relate to his work.
These days, Willems is busier than ever. This weekend, his book Knuffle Bunny comes alive as a stage musical at the Skirball Center. Meanwhile his sassy Pigeon character is starring in his own app: Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App! Despite his insane schedule (remember he's a dad, too), Willems graciously agreed to answer our questions about his work, his family and his favorite things to do in NYC. Turns out he's as sassy as his famous Pigeon.
Puppetonia is now called Puppetsburg. Read all about its new incarnation and schedule here.
Pop quiz: How do you please a roomful of toddlers?
b. Singing and dancing
d. Parachute play
e. All of the above
The answer is, of course, e., and Puppetonia at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg cheerfully delivers all of that fun and more. This puppet show-playtime hybrid is one of those rare events that worked for both my baby and toddler.
When we entered, we were greeted with stickers (always appreciated by the preschool set) and given name tags. After a few minutes of free play with assorted toys, our hosts Sarah and Liz invited the kids to sing and dance to a couple of toddler standards ("Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and the like). Then the puppet stars made their way to the spotlight.
As an avid reader and writer, I'm very excited that my two-year-old is finally big enough to enjoy some of the free offerings at the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. I've gone every year since it debuted in 2005 to see my favorite authors read, and to buy way too many books from the vendors that set up shop. I even read there when my own novel came out, which was quite a dream come true.
Although the Brooklyn Book Festival isn't aimed at kids, there are events and activities for bookworms (and aspiring readers) of all ages. In fact, there are two specific areas specifically for kids: the Target Children's Area, a cute tent featuring craft projects and excellent readings by top kid-lit authors, and the more mature Youth Stoop with lots of workshops and readings for tweens and teens,
While there are random "bookend" events taking place around the borough during the days leading up to the festival, the main event happens on Sunday, September 18 around Brooklyn Borough Hall. There's so much going on, it really pays to plan. We've highlighted the family-friendly events we're most looking forward to (including a reading by Mo Willems), and we've got tips on how to make the most of your day at the Brooklyn Book Festival.
[UPDATED: July 18, 2012]
When I was researching music classes for my two-year-old, a friend of mine recommended I try City Stomp. She said it was as a more interesting and affordable alternative to the ubiquitous Music Together programs.
I was intrigued by the fact that City Stomp was created specifically for New York City kids. Plus, I loved that the class could accommodate my toddler and my newborn. So all three of us hopped aboard the City Stomp train, and boy were we glad we did. This parent-child music class is great fun for little kids (up to about age five), so it really works for sibling pairs!
Sleep-training books are all well and good, but sometimes a sleep-deprived parent needs an actual person to swoop in and save the day. Natalie Nevares, founder of the of family-coaching service Mommywise, did that for my family.
When I initially called Natalie, I was planning on writing a post rounding up multiple sleep-training specialists in New York City. However, Natalie alleviated my family's sleeping issues so easily and quickly, I didn't feel right recommending anyone else. Plus, she travels, so no matter where you are in the five boroughs, she'll bring her skills to you.
As a novelist myself, I’m all for people supporting authors by purchasing brand-new copies of their books. However, as a budget conscious mom who has watched her two small children spill/drool/color all over expensive picture books, I know that sometimes buying used titles makes a lot more sense.
While there are lots of ways to snag second-hand kid-lit online—I see tons of kids' stuff up for grabs on sites like freecycle.org and paperbackswap.com—I really enjoy browsing used books in person. I always end up finding wonderful, weird vintage tomes, and I don't have to wade through all of the branded characters stocked by big box bookstores.
Here are my top shops in New York City to find used children's books.