For a short but meaningful few months, I had the pleasure of being a part of the NYC branch of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

 New York City Mom's Blog is a collaborative group of women living or working in New York City.  They wrestle strollers down subway stairs and struggle with taxi cabs on every corner.  But whether they're parenting without backyards, extra storage space or carpools, or enjoying their recent escapes to the suburbs in spite of their horrific commutes, these moms are living proof that "the city never sleeps".

As of July 1, 2010 the NYC Moms Blog will no longer be active. I've collected the writings I posted there and placed them here. If you haven't already - enjoy!

MAY 28, 2010


IMG_1205 defines the word "baptize" in these three ways...


–verb (used with object)
1.  to immerse in water or sprinkle or pour water on in the Christian rite of baptism.
2.  to cleanse spiritually; initiate or dedicate by purifying.
3.  to give a name to at baptism; christen.
In a little less than a month, my partner and I will be "baptizing" our daughter.  We're not necessarily Christians in the purest sense of the word, but we do want to welcome our baby girl into this world surrounded by family and friends and a sense of ceremony. 

The thing is, we're writing our own baptism ceremony... and I'm not really sure how to do that without following the standard Catholic baptism rites I grew up hearing in church.  How exactly does one baptize a baby when the baby isn't being baptized into any specific faith?

In most Christian faiths, a baptism is required to become a member of the church - and some even believe that it is a necessary rite of salvation (that all babies are born with sin and need to be cleansed, claimed for Jesus, so that they can go to heaven - if, God forbid, they die before they're baptized, they end up in purgatory).  In the Jewish faith, there is a naming ceremony for girls similar to this idea of baptism called zeved habat - which is basically an announcement to the congregation that there is a new life in the community.  In the Hindu culture, there is a ceremony traditionally known as namakaram - also a cleansing, but in this case it's for both mother and child.  And I'm sure there are many others unfamiliar to me.

As her parents - and therefore the people she will (hopefully!) look to for an example of how to live in faith - it appeals to both me and my partner to make this ceremony something we truly believe in, something that is meaningful to us.  We have been working towards living our lives by The Four Agreements, a Toltec (ancient wisdom) way of life... and I say "working towards" because I don't think we'll ever be able to live these pillars to perfection.  We'd like to incorporate these simple four agreements into our daughter's ceremony, and - in a way - pledge to one another and to those witnessing the event that we will do our best to live these principles and to guide her in them as well. 

When I first agreed to have a baptism ceremony, it was with the understanding that it would not be "traditional" and would not necessarily follow the rules of the baptisms I grew up with... little did I know that forging our own path would be so challenging!

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her fiance Jon and their not-yet-baptized-daughter Grace, and also blogs at   

MAY 25, 2010


IMG_1160 In my fourth grade homeroom class, we had my favorite kind of desks:  the chair was attached to the desk and the top of the desk opened to reveal storage space underneath for your books, your pencils, your unauthorized magazine, (it was also a great place to open a note that was passed to you by your girlfriend without letting anyone else see the secrets you were reading).  And since the chair and desk were attached on the right side, (with a little armrest that was perfect for a comfortable writing position... unless you were left-handed!) we had to slide in from the left in order to sit down.  One morning, our teacher was talking about boundaries and our human need to have them (or make them) in order to feel safe and secure.  She used us as examples, telling all of us to look around at where the class, as a whole, had placed their own personal backpacks - and maybe there was one exception to the rule, but everyone else had put their bag on the left side of their desk, effectively "closing" the gap and "locking" ourselves into our desks.  Boundaries.  Security.  Comfort.  It was a lesson I'll remember long after I forget how to conjugate verbs or diagram a sentence.

And ever since then, I've been aware of our need, as humans, for boundaries.  Spacial security.  Comfortable structure.  I see it on the subway, in conversation, and even in the crib.

Whenever there is the choice between an open seat in the middle of the subway car bench and one that is on the end, it almost never fails that the person about to sit will choose the end seat.  When the train is crowded and a position in the corner opens up, it's like a battle to see who will be the first to quickly slip into that space and put their back up against those two walls. When I watch two people in conversation you can tell so much about what they're saying (or at least the subtext of their words) by watching their body language - the boundary of crossing one's legs, or folding one's arms versus the invitation of an open chest or a close leaning-in to one another.

And no matter how I put my daughter to bed, (always on her back!) or how many times in the middle of the night I sneak into her room and roll her back over to the middle of the bed, she always ends up in the same safe, secure position: on her stomach with her right side nestled closely against the crib bumper, and her left arm protecting her face.  Like she's creating her own little fortress of comfort.  A true example of an intrinsic human boundary need.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives within the boundaries of Astoria, NY with her fiance Jon and their daughter Grace, and also blogs at   

MAY 02, 2010


Ying Yang XP The other day I picked up a REDBOOK magazine for the first time... ever.  (The same hormones that told my breasts to produce milk must also be fostering my preference for parent magazines.)  And as I was reading The Whys Guy column by Aaron Traister, I started to giggle.  The title of the column was "Agreeing to Disagree" - I read it aloud to my beau, and he laughed along with me as we found ourselves relating to each humorous anecdote.

The first paragraph was a 15-line run on sentence, a litany of a mother's mind before she leaves dad with the kids: how to dress them if the go outside, who to call for a playdate, what to feed them, what not to feed them, what to pack in the diaper bag if they leave the house... And then the funny next thought by ever-attentive dad: "With that, my wife was out the door and I was left to wonder what she was saying to me before she left."

The article goes on to describe the several differences Traister and his wife have when it comes to how to "do" life - and parenting is, of course, one of those areas where there's a big difference.  I think I liked the article so much because I related to it so much.  As someone who spent most every weekend babysitting since the age of 13, I often feel an over-zealous need to instruct my partner (whose longest time ever holding a baby was the day our daughter was born) on how best to take care of our child. 

While I did have to instruct him on some basics - diaper changing, burping, not leaving her alone on the bed in case she rolls right off - his surprisingly spot-on instincts make me proud of him, make me fall a little more in love with him, and - I must admit - sometimes even make me a bit jealous, (our 3-month-old daughter animatedly babbles to her dad much more enthusiastically then she does with boring ol' mom).

And although we may have different styles when it comes to parenting - a little more reckless, a little more cautious - we always agree on one thing: we sure do love that little girl.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her parenting co-star Jon and their daughter Grace, and also blogs at   

APRIL 26, 2010


Stan hywet Mommy & Daddy sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the...

Oh, wait.  FIRST comes the baby.

My partner & I were blessed with our baby girl earlier than we expected (just one of the many reminders that life isn't always on our own schedule!).  Now our wedding is just 8 weeks away and as we're planning the ceremony I'm having trouble pinpointing just how our little one will be part of the ceremony.

She'll be 4-and-a-half months old by then - which is not exactly the age at which she can adorably toddle down the aisle on her own.  We've got cousins, nieces & nephews who could help her out - carrying her along with them in a sort of gaggle of little flower people... okay, so maybe that part is solved.  But then comes the inevitable question: which side of the family will she sit on while Mommy & Daddy are saying their vows?

Here are some of the options I can think of (and I'd welcome any others!):  1) she could sit with my parents, 2) she could sit with his parents, 3) she could sit with my aunt - to whom we want to give a VIP wedding role yet to be determined, 4) she could be swapped between sides halfway through the wedding, 5) she could be up there with us babbling her own "I dos". 

None of those seem exactly ideal to me, though number 4 comes closest. 

The good thing about it - the biggest blessing - is that our parents all get along so well... particularly our mothers.  They're like good friends from an alternate life who are just pleased as punch to have met up again in this one.  So at least we have the good fortune of not having to worry about our families getting along. 

Now, how to ensure that our little I-want-to-put-everything-in-my-mouth flower girl doesn't actually EAT the flowers... I'll welcome opinions on that one, too!

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her fiance Jon and their flower-girl-in-training Grace, and also blogs at  
MARCH 23, 2010

IMG_0757 Perhaps it’s too early to do sleep training at only 6 weeks, but my partner and I are overachievers in all parts of our life – so why should our parenting be any different? 

We're not "Ferber-izing" yet or trying out the latest "No Tears" method.  Our current baby bedtime routine is more about the routine and less about the outcome that routine actually provides (though with my return to work, a successful outcome is getting more and more important to me – especially if it could eventually lead to more than 3 hours of sleep!).  We bathe, change into our fuzzy, footed pajamas, have a feeding, maybe read a book or two, and then walk around the apartment doing what I like to call the “Goodnight Moon Redux”. 

Almost everyone is familiar with the absolutely classic Goodnight Moon.  Even our non-parent friends know it well - as proven by the multiple copies we received as baby gifts.  Well, as suggested in The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year, (a book geared toward fathers but one that I found to be better, more informative and more enjoyable than many of the other new parent books I’ve read) we take a stroll around our apartment at the end of the day with our baby girl and say “goodnight” to the things we see.   

It always makes me giggle, striking me as a less-poetic, modern-day version of that quintessential children’s book. Goodnight Moon boasts the simplicity of things:  “Goodnight light / And the red balloon / Goodnight bears / Goodnight chairs.”  While ours seems much more complicated:  Goodnight Diaper Genie / And the several loads of laundry / Goodnight calcium pills / Goodnight pile of bills.  

At this point, it’s more about the sounds of our lilting voices hopefully lulling her off into dreamland than it is about what we actually say goodnight to… our daughter couldn’t care less about that right now.  So it often becomes an entertaining evening ritual for us – as we remind ourselves about things or joke about projects left undone:  Goodnight dirty dishes / And thank you cards we still need to send / Goodnight mom’s half-finished scrapbook / Goodnight dad’s pants on the over-the-door hook.   

And goodnight to the snickering parents cracking themselves up.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her partner Jon (a true pro at this redux), their daughter Grace, and their several copies of Goodnight Moon; and also blogs at

MARCH 17, 2010


IMG_0751_2_2 I suppose I've always been a "multi-tasker".   Washing the dishes from lunch while dinner is cooking on the stove.  Or doing laundry while vacuuming between washer & dryer cycles.  And now, of course, some of the multi-tasks involve a baby.  Catching up on that breastfeeding book while breastfeeding.  Or making funny faces to get my little girl to smile while trying to snap her picture at the same time.

Eventually, it all catches up with me somehow... whether in disaster (like burning the meal because I was checking my email) or just in a friendly reminder to calm down (like a slow computer when I have too many programs running at once). Today, I actually had to stop myself when I sat down on the toilet sideways so I could fix the broken handle while peeing.  Too. Much. 

I recently read a definition of the word "multi-tasking" that gave me pause:  "the apparent simultaneous performance of two or more tasks at the same time."  The word that made me read the definition twice was apparent.  It infers that there is an illusion that the tasks are both being done, but perhaps in reality that's not exactly accurate.  I'm noticing that neither task gets done to my 100% satisfaction when I'm trying to do both at once.  The pasta is a little over cooked because I've been trying to scrub that pot clean.  I have to re-read the same paragraph three times because I'm paying more attention to the baby at my breast than the breastfeeding tips. 

I suppose I do it because I always feel like there's so much to get done.  But if every project is only getting 1/2 done, it's not really worth it - is it?  And since the picture I try to snap one-handed at the moment of her deliciously wide grin is never as good as the grin itself... I might as well put the camera down and just enjoy the smiles.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her partner Jon and their daughter Grace, and also blogs (apparently simultaneously) at  

FEBRUARY 28, 2010

0221101025a(2) With our baby girl now just 3 weeks old, we've finally raised the courage to start venturing outside the comfort zone of our 2-bedroom apartment and into "the real world". 

As a new mama, there are many things I underestimated about going out on the town:

* the size and weight of the necessary diaper bag (how do a few disposables weigh so much?)
* the complicated workings of the Snugli (we had to look up a video tutorial of how to wear it!)
* the difficulty of deciding how to dress our baby for the winter weather (layers, layers, layers)
* the challenge of what to do when you need to change a diaper and there's seemingly no where to do it
* the first real crying when she got hungry and mom didn't feel comfortable breastfeeding on the subway

And the most pressing thought of this new mother... "When it's cold outside and the Barnes & Noble isn't open yet and there are no seats in the Starbucks, what do we do for an hour on a Sunday morning in Greenwich Village while waiting for church to start?"

I suppose "cold outside" is a relative term when it comes to these late winter months.  On this particular Sunday morning the temperature was hovering around the mid-40's.  If it were just me out there with nothing to do, I'd wander the streets or sit on a bench and think nothing of it.  But with the almost 10 pound bundle snuggled against my chest, I hesitated... would the cold be too much for her if we just sat in the park for a bit?  What if we sat in the sun?  Could she get a sunburn in 40 degree weather?  Would she be warm enough?  Would other people look at me and wonder, "What kind of mother would force her child to brave the outdoors at such a young age?" 

As I didn't have the answer to any of these questions (or the dozen more racing through my mind), I simply decided to try a little experiment and let myself see what would happen.  So we walked over to Father Demo Square.  And we sat.  On a bench.  Me facing the bright sun & my daughter carefully protected by her pink corduroy hood and her mother's slightly worried hand.  And as I prepared for the cold winds or her shrill cries or the disapproving looks of strangers passing by, I was instead pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the day and the soft mumblings of my comfortable baby girl and the casual comings-and-goings of other parents with their kids, taking advantage of this spring-like Sunday morning.

So we sat there.  For the better part of an hour.  Watching a woman and her big dog run by.  Listening to the birds chirping sweetly in the trees. Laughing with the preschoolers riding their bikes around the fountain, relying heavily on their training wheels for the turns.  And generally ignoring the busy traffic that drove all around us, as we passed the time in the middle of our little island park.  With my fears calmed, and my trust in those "motherhood instincts" deepened, we enjoyed what turned out to be quite a lovely Sunday morning out on the town.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her partner Jon and their daughter Grace, and also blogs at 

FEBRUARY 22, 2010


Rachel When I was growing up, the oldest child of three in a nuclear family, the technology of the day was nothing near the ever-changing, constantly-improving technology of 2010.  Anything past the year 2000 seemed unimaginable… let alone the idea of cell phones that could also be mini-computers (heck – even cell phones themselves were just beginning to take shape!).  I remember the Christmas morning that Santa brought us a Nintendo game system.  It took my 8-year-old self and my brother, a few years younger, all of our combined strength to lift the giant box it came in… when Santa’s similar gaming gift today would likely come in a box no bigger than a check book – and it would have bells and whistles way beyond what that clunky Nintendo could’ve handled a few decades ago.  Our family videos were grainy VHS tapes with live-action captured by a bulky machine that weighed heavily on dad’s shoulder; and hopefully we could record all we wanted to before those two hours ran out.  Our family photos were taken with a 35-millimeter camera in on hand and a flash in the other, the bright light blinding our eyes and the heat of the flash bulbs felt by our small hands; and hopefully we didn't blink too much with each picture taken, but we wouldn't find out until days later when the film was developed and we had the glossy prints in hand.

My newborn daughter is growing up in an age of technology that is almost beyond my comprehension:  in the first seven days of her young life, we already acquired over 300 digital photos of her (and those are the good ones we didn’t automatically delete!) and around 50 short videos to capture her first “coos”.  She has her own website (created on the iMac by her gadget-loving father) and it boasts four mini-documentaries, like “My First Superbowl” (complete with NFL theme music and cool graphics), and the two short clips “My First Hiccups” and “Daddy’s First Poopie Diaper”.  All in just the first seven days... and there's surely more to come.  As new parents, it’s as if we’ve created the ultimate overindulgent wallet portfolio – so instead of going back to work and letting the multi-fold plastic photo album waterfall out of our pocket books, we can direct curious colleagues to her fully functional website so they can experience our daughter almost as intimately as if she were right in the same room.   

Oh sure, we'll still be creating the “old fashioned” baby announcement… sent via snail mail with a stamp and a return address label.  And although I’m sure it will be a nice keepsake, there’s part of me that looks at that flat sheet of paper with just her simple picture and date of birth and thinks, “Well, compared to everything else, this seems a bit boring!”  Thirty years ago that same kind of birth announcement was mailed out by my parents to anxious relatives who didn’t live nearby… because how else would they know what I looked like?  They didn’t have the instant gratification of video chatting.  They weren’t able to click a few buttons and have their daughter “meet” her uncle in another state, as I was able to do one morning with my daughter and my brother – from New York to Ohio in seconds flat. 

When I take a moment to think about it, it’s almost mind-blowing to realize how we are able to capture every nuance, every first noise, every blink with a digital or video camera no bigger than my palm.  And we’re able to review it instantly, deleting anything we don’t like or that isn’t flattering, and quickly replace it with something newer, cuter, better.  And then upload it to the web and share it across time and space with our loved ones who are far away.  We can – and probably will! – document everything.  The first crawl, the first teeth, the first few steps.  The adorably funny noise of exhaustion that she makes after sneezing a few times in a row.  The reaction she’ll have to her first taste of something other than breastmilk.  And the first words – oh, the hours of video footage that will be spent waiting for her to say anything!  

And while I’m glad to have the technology to do all of this, I also want to make sure that we’re not witnessing our daughter’s Amazing Firsts always and only through a lens.  I don’t want to be removed from those incredible moments by any gadget, no matter how small, no matter how instantaneous, no matter how cool.  As a first-time mother, I want to make sure I have my own memories that are exclusively shared with my loving partner and our beautiful baby… photos captured by my heart that will never become obsolete (like those old VHS tapes).   There is something precious and rare in those memories that fade with time, but always seem ripe in our minds.  Something that no iPhone or Flip Cam or URL code will ever be able to capture.  The feeling of her in our arms.  The slight smirk on her cheek.  The scent of her that I hope will never go away.  Even if Apple comes up with a fancy new widget that has Smell-O-Vision (and I somehow wouldn’t be surprised if they did), nothing – absolutely nothing – can compare with the real thing. 

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rachel E. Ayers lives in Astoria, NY with her partner Jon and their daughter Grace, and also blogs at