Meredith Craig de Pietro

Articles by

Meredith Craig de Pietro

Meredith is an ex-television producer who has worked for Style Network, E! Networks, and “America’s Next Top Model.” Currently, she spends her days exploring Brooklyn as a freelance writer, and has published in The Classical, Vice and XOJane. You can usually find her visiting museums, cleansing her chakra, throwing extravagant dinner parties or at a playground with her husband and son. Follow her on Twitter @meredithcraigde

02/21/17 10:33am
Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Photo: Brooklyn Scouts

Let me introduce you to the 5th Brooklyn Scouts, where their motto is “traditional scouting for everyone.”

Don’t be fooled by the word “traditional.” Part of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA), an all-inclusive scouting organization that has been in existence worldwide since 1907, the 5th Brooklyn Scouts is not the gender-segregated experience that you remember from being a Cub Scout or a Brownie, and does not have the same history of discrimination against gay and transgender children and leaders. (Last month, The Boy Scouts of America finally announced that they would allow transgender boys to join.)

Just as importantly, Brooklyn Scouts seamlessly blends the joys of forest school, the community service of a social justice club, and outdoors-focused field trips, all for $180 for the entire year. Children spend a lot of time outside, and learn real skills.

The Brooklyn chapter speaks openly about their challenge to diversify in their Park Slope enclave, which is a focus for their organization this year, as well as a historical value of the organization. “Scouting has even transcended and risen above racial divisions and prejudices in the movement’s past,” says scoutmaster Jillian Tate. “Our founder, Lord Robert Baden Powell, refused to allow racial segregation in scouting until his death in 1941–even in countries like South Africa and India where the ruling colonists attempted to create all-white organizations.” (more…)

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02/03/17 10:56am
This book dispenses common sense money advice for parents to pass along to their kids. Photo: Simon & Schuster

This book dispenses common sense money advice (like “don’t raid their piggy banks!”) for parents to pass along to their kids. Photo: Simon & Schuster

Last year when I was complaining about the cost of getting my car towed, my young son said, “Don’t worry! I can pay for it. I’ve got a cash register full of money!” I quizzically watched as he pulled out his Learning Resources toy register hidden under a pile of stuffed animals and old Lego pieces. Although we bought that toy for him in hopes of teaching him about the value of money and learning about interest through imaginary play, he had actually just assumed this was real money collecting dust in his bedroom. Epic fail.

Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), a new book by Beth Kobliner (author of New York Times Bestseller Get A Financial Life) is here to hold parents hands as they wade into uncharted conversations about cash with their kids. Beyond just receiving early entry to Stern Business School, financial talks can prevent spoiled behavior, build charitable leanings and set kids up for secure futures. Kobliner divides the book into chapters ranging from “Insurance”, “Giving Back” and “Saving for College” and further divides her chapters into age ranges. Talking to your preschooler about investing will look different than with your teenager, but from the start you can build some pretty strong scaffolding for the importance of financial security. (more…)

02/01/17 11:46am

February is historically the month of love. So, even if there are government acts to stand against, executive orders to roar about, racists to take down, and protests to march your weary legs in, make time this month for self-care. Hug your little ones close and remember to find time for art and humanity. Look for the heroes. Join a community of activists. Reach for tolerance. And whenever you need to, escape for a while into a museum or film to recharge your heart. Remember, love will always trump hate.

Show kids that making a statement doesn't have to be done on paper. 1) Charles Eisenmann (1855–1927). Nora Hildebrandt, ca. 1880. Albumen photograph mounted on cardboard. Collection of Adam Woodward. 2) Samuel O’Reilly (1854–1909). Eagle and shield, ca. 1875–1905. Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. Courtesy of Lift Trucks Project

Show kids that making a statement doesn’t have to be done on paper.
1) Charles Eisenmann (1855–1927). Nora Hildebrandt, ca. 1880. Albumen photograph mounted on cardboard. Collection of Adam Woodward. 2) Samuel O’Reilly (1854–1909). Eagle and shield, ca. 1875–1905. Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. Courtesy of Lift Trucks Project

GO: If your kids are already interested in getting some tats (or at least interested in looking at yours), let them find out more at Tattooed New York at the New York Historical Society. Highlights of the exhibit will include Thomas Edison’s electric pen and early tattoo machine, sideshow banners and lots of modern and historical tattoo art. This isn’t an interactive exhibit geared toward children, but you can easily find parts that your kids will enjoy. Bring a pocketful of temporary tattoos for your kids to choose from sothey can get in on the fun (in a less permanent way). Feb. 2 through April 29 Tattooed New York- NY Historical Society  170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday – 10am-6pm, Friday – 10am-8pm, Sunday – 11am-5pm, Monday – CLOSED; adults: $20, students: $12, kids (5-13 years old) $6, kids 4 and under: free. (more…)

01/25/17 11:05am

A utopian world where parenting is a communal activity sounds great, but what's the catch?

As I sit here writing this, my son is home with strep throat. I haven’t left the house in two days, and I’m inundated with having to care for, entertain and feed my little one, while also meeting work deadlines. What I wouldn’t give for another set of hands? Or how about 20 extra sets of hands?

This is the premise of Kevin Wilson’s new novel, Perfect Little World, the story of an utopian experiment that promises its participants a return on the “it takes a village” philosophy. This is not Wilson’s first foray into unusually structured kinship groups–his 2011 novel The Family Fang, which became a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman, chronicled two adult children visiting the eccentric parents who had turned their childhood into performance art. 

Perfect Little World stars, Izzy Poole, a pregnant teenager who is offered a spot in The Infinite Family Project, an experiment of child and family development. Her newborn son will join nine other babies of the same age to live for 10 years in the ultimate environment. All their needs will be attended to, housing, food, and clothing will all be provided. The children are promised the best of everything: educational toys, healthy meals and enriching environments. The adults won’t be forgotten either. Scholarships for college or job training will be granted, and any hobby or interest will be funded. All expenses to be taken care of by an elderly eccentric billionaire who has a vested interest in studying and redefining the family. (more…)

01/10/17 11:57am
Photo: Catbat

Photo: Catbat

And so, late one evening, the Catbat became stuck in time. Once mythical–both lynx and bat, philosopher and shapeshifter–now ashes of a gnostic tarot card.

Written for Catbat Shop by Kelley Deane McKinney

A mix between a blazer and a blanket, the Catbat cape could very well be a talisman for our uncertain times. Kat Shuford, the designer behind Catbat Shop, believes that “people of all genders and sizes should feel magical every day,” and that a gorgeous wool, mohair or cashmere cape, sustainably sourced from reclaimed and recylced fabrics, and locally made in Greenpoint, has the power to conjure a charmed existence.

Less than two years ago, Shuford, an artist and website designer came up with the idea for a line of capes, and with basic sewing skills and a DIY attitude, she cobbled together a pattern and searched out a family-run fabric business based in New York. “I didn’t know how to begin,” she says. “But it was just, sit down and do it anyway.” Her web experience allowed her to wear many hats, designing her own site and maintaining her online store. With a little luck and a lot of drive, Shuford found other people to help her along the way and came up with the prototype–one pattern that fits every body type regardless of height or gender. “I kind of did this on a self challenge,” she admits. (more…)

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01/05/17 12:11pm

New Year’s resolutions are full of rules and regulations that no one wants to do. It might be nice to lose 15 pounds, but who really wants to run with the jogging stroller every morning? These sorts of resolutions don’t even last until February. What if our resolutions skewed towards what we (and our children) really want to do? Here are 10 easy-to-stick-to resolutions for January that your kids will love you for.

Photo: Invisible Dog Art Center

Photo: Invisible Dog Art Center

Resolution 1: Let your kids smash something

Worktable by Brussels-based artist Kate McIntosh is a live interactive installation at Invisible Dog Art Center. Visitors are given tools and safety goggles and are instructed to select something to destruct and put back together. Finally a place where your kids can see what happens if they smash a ceramic sculpture or cut apart a shoe! Although there is no age limit specified, it is probably better for older children or with strict adult supervision. Visitors can stay as long as they want rebuilding their items, which will then be on display at the gallery. January 5-12th, The Invisible Dog Art Center, 51 Bergen St., Cobble Hill. $20. (more…)

12/13/16 9:48am

Although it is tempting to just make donations to the ACLU on behalf of all your friends and family this year, sometimes you really need a physical gift. This year, let Brooklyn Based take the planning out of the equation, so you can spend more time signing up for boycotts and protesting to save our planet. From ultra-serious Brooklyn dads to work spouses, and all the other special snowflakes in  your life, your holiday shopping is covered with our 2016 gift guide.

What to get the woman in your life who rocks her Future Is Female t-shirt, is still checked in to Standing Rock, and consistently gives her rent money to Planned Parenthood.

Photo: Slow Factory

Slow Factory’s NASA Scarf ($140)

Celebrate the future by honoring the past with Slow Factory’s NASA Scarves. Each one features a high-resolution digital image of NASA’s first female scientists. Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, pictured above, “made fundamental contributions to the U.S. aeronautics and space program with the early application of digital electronic computers.” Beyond being a braniac and feminist go-to item, these scarves are also printed on high quality Italian silk from a supply chain that is 100% clean and fair trade. Complement this gift with a copy of the wonderful book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky ($16.99).


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12/08/16 8:48am
Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim is highbrow children's theater at its best. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim is highbrow children’s theater at its best. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Part of living in NYC means navigating the holidays precariously toeing the line between time honored traditions and tourist traps. You won’t find many true New Yorkers braving the cold and the crowds at the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. March up Fifth Avenue on a weekend looking for New Yorkers, and you will never find one. (They know to wait for the out-of-towners to go to sleep before they make the pilgrimage.) Any New Yorkers lining up for The Christmas Spectacular? Nope. Tea with Eloise at the Plaza? No way. Where are they all? Over the weekend, my 7-year-old son and I found them…they’re watching Peter & the Wolf at the Guggenheim.

Isaac Mizrahi is a National Treasure. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Isaac Mizrahi is a national treasure. Photo: Works & Process at the Guggenheim

For the past 10 years, Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer, TV presenter, Project Runway judge, author and a master of quips has been narrating and (since 2013) directing, a production of the beloved fable. The Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim is an intimate setting of light and ivory, like being encased in an oyster shell. Instead of the polished pearl of a show you might expect on Broadway, this has a bit more edge. The musicians stroll in slowly, and start warming up their instruments seemingly haphazardly while the audience finds their seats. We sat next to the string section behind the conductor. As new instruments started playing, my son and I swerved our heads around the room for an aural version of “I Spy.” On stage, a giant garbage can, chainlink fence, enormous tree and NYC skyline represented Central Park. An actress playing the bird perched in the tree, and then the wolf took a seat on the park bench to read the newspaper before the show started. (more…)

12/01/16 8:53am
Let the Holiday madness begin. Here's 12 way to keep sane and enjoy the month. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Let the holiday madness begin. Here are 12 way to keep sane and enjoy the month. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

December is finally here. The days of breathtaking performances, dazzling snowfalls, and holiday cheer fill the month with magic. Here are 12 ways to enjoy the winter wonderland of NYC with your family, before the deep freeze of January forces you to hibernate in your home with just the TV remote to warm you. From free events to expensive new holiday traditions, there’s holiday cheer for everyone on this kids calendar.

Receive the ultimate gift from BAX: a free kids theater class. Photo: BAX

Receive the ultimate gift from BAX: a free kids theater class. Photo: BAX

1. Learn: Enjoy the gift of a free class. Many children in the audience of the Nutcracker or Miracle on 34th Street wish they were the ones onstage. Capitalizing on that allure are theater classes, ballet tutors and singing sessions. But if your child is 8 or older, they can attend Youthworks at BAX, a FREE program for kids interested in developing their own play, dance or original song or poetry performance. A mandatory orientation is taking place Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3-4:30pm at BAX. Then there is a six week Sunday rehearsal schedule resulting in a fully staged production with lighting, sound design, costumes and props at the end of January. BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange 421 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope. For children 8 + up. FREE.


Start a new holiday tradition with live theater. Photo: Works & Process/ Guggenheim

 

2. Go: Start a new holiday tradition. There are so many holiday events in NYC that come with a cost: Long lines to visit Santa, crowds at Rockefeller Center, and sold out Lincoln Center matinees. Luckily, there are experiences that are every bit as special that don’t come with as many tourists. Starting Dec. 3, bring the kids to see Peter & The Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi at The Guggenheim. Although you can check back for our longer review on Dec. 5, it’s a safe bet to buy the tickets now. The schedule is as follows: Dec. 3, 4, 10, and 11 at 2:30pm and 4pm, and Dec. 9 at 5pm and 6:30pm.  Peter B. Lewis Theater, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York For ages 5 and up. $40, $35 Guggenheim members. For the littler ones who may not be able to sit through a long performance, The Swedish Marionette Theater in Central Park has the perfect solution. The Three Bears Holiday Bash is a wonderful experience without the headache of a high-priced ticket. We’ve reviewed their shows before, but this holiday-themed fairy tale performance incorporates stories of Hanukkah, The Night Before Christmas, and Kwanzaa, making it a perfect for all your festivities. Swedish Marionette Theater, Central Park, W. 79th and West Drive. Through Dec. 30. Tickets are $7/children and $10/adults.   (more…)

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11/21/16 7:27pm
Learn to make your own medicine at home, the natural way. Photo: Remedies Herb Shop

Learn to make home remedies. Photo: Remedies Herb Shop

This time of year germs run wild, sailing from cubicle to classroom, plaguing even the strongest among us. Add airborne viruses, existential and political dread, and short days, and you’ve got a recipe for everything from the winter blues to the superflu. It’s enough to send a person back under the covers with a bottle of whiskey and bag of Ricolas. Go ahead, call in sick. We all need a day of rest and comfort, where we can wallow in our emotions, rage with fever dreams, and start the healing process. Here’s how to feel better all winter long.

Take a class

If you want to preemptively find a way to boost your immune system and recover from sicknesses more quickly, sign head to Remedies Herb Shop for an immune-boosting tonic. Or, sign up for a class on aromatherapy, soapmaking, meditation, or an introduction to medicinal herbs. If affordable health care goes away, you’ll be still be covered. Remedies Herb Shop, 453 Court St., Brooklyn. (more…)

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