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NYC Taught Me: A Magical Place to Raise a Family

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h1 NYC has taught me everything can be delivered to my apartment, from Christmas trees to weeks worth of dinner to Gatorade.

Sharon Beesley, NYC Taught Me

Have you ever wondered what your city teaches you? Sharon Beesley moved from San Francisco to Manhattan with her husband, daughter and twin boys, and now she chronicles their adventures in the city, as they learn to flag cabs and fold their pizzas. Her site is NYC Taught Me, and it's a refreshingly down-to-earth site about raising kids in the Big City—from bathroom accidents on the bus to cranky subway riders who hate double strollers. As a recent transplant, she also reminds New Yorkers about why it's okay to feel like a tourist sometimes, the surprises of Chinatown, great field trips outside the city, and how to get kissed at the top on the Empire State Building.

Sharon is also one of the newest additions to the Say 100 parenting channel. We caught up with her via email to find out why she thinks NYC is a great place to raise kids, her favorite spots the Big City as a former San Franciscan, and what post put her site on the map in the mommysphere.

In a nutshell, what are some of the big things NYC has taught you so far? NYC has taught me it’s a great place to raise a family. Walking my kids to school, then later taking them best parks, museums, shows or restaurants is a thrill. There’s always something new for us to see. NYC taught me about community, especially within my apartment building. My favorite are the random friendships made with others moms while tackling laundry together in the basement or while chatting in the elevator and hallways. Since we live so close to each other, it would be hard not form a sense of community. It’s unavoidable! NYC has taught me everything can be delivered to my apartment, from Christmas trees to a weeks worth of dinners to Gatorade. My neighbors joke that I win the award for receiving the most packages outside my door. If there’s the option to buy it online and get it delivered, I take it. I don’t see why not!

What are your most popular posts – and what do you think that says about your readers? My readers respond well to posts where I contrast beautiful photos with the stark realities of parenthood. Portrait of a Mother, Dancing Makes It Better, and Naming Your Children are examples of these types of posts. My readers have a good sense of humor and their positive comments encourage to write more self-deprecating posts.

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Was there a breakout post that put your site on the map? Yes, my breakout post happened on May 5th, 2011. A business man thought I was taking up too much room on the subway with my double stroller. He was so nasty to me, I loudly declared triplets on him. Jordan Ferney [of Oh Happy Day] linked to my post in this interview. From then on, I’ve been gaining a steady readership. I can’t help but be grateful for the experience even though, at the time, it left me in tears.

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As someone from San Francisco, what are your favorite spots in NYC? I love the Upper West Side. It’s my home and playground. A perfect day includes meeting up with friends in the Discovery Room at the American Museum of Natural History and then having lunch at Hampton Chutney. After saying goodbye to our friends, we might stop into our favorite toy store West Side Kids to buy pinwheels before heading over to Riverside Park to test them out. The day would end by eating dinner from the Super Taco Truck on the corner of 96th and Broadway.

Do you look at the world differently when you know that things you're doing around the city are also things you'll write about?I’m certainly more aware of the world, my kids, and myself on days when I’m seeking blog material. It gives me something to do and think about when I’m the only adult around. I find it’s embarrassing and distracting to take photos and observe my kids when I’m with friends or even my husband. I would rather socialize with adults while the kids entertain themselves! When it’s just me and the kids, I might dress them a little cuter and pack my camera just in case I sense a post coming up. I did this when we went to the Children’s Museum of Art a few weeks ago. I ended up writing this post about my son Owen’s undeniable individuality. Did I plan to write about this topic ahead of time? No, but as soon as he climbed up on his stool, and proclaimed confidently, “I’m an artist”, I got out my camera. I knew something was brewing. I observed and took a few pictures as he proudly put together his sculpture. I knew as he was adding the fifth eyeball to his bizarre creature, I had my story. It’s one of my recent favorites.

You're also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube … as a writer, how do you decide where to invest your time? I pick the ones I like the best. Out of the ones you mentioned, I have the most fun with Instagram and Pinterest. I’m super impressed when I see bloggers spreading themselves across all the different social media outlets. The only way I could get all that done is if I hired someone to help, especially with Twitter and Facebook. It’s always something sponsors want to know about, and I could use a boost. I just have no desire to do it myself!

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Your day job is writing for Elizabeth Street Where does your own site fit in? Good question! Some of my readers were concerned I was going to abandon my blog when I starting working at Elizabeth Street. I had to assure them that wasn’t the case. I want both to succeed! I just started three months ago, so I’m still trying to figure out how my site fits into theirs.

What other mom and style sites are your soulmates in style? Who else is doing it right? Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo is definitely doing it right. She does the perfect balance of editorial style mixed with personal essay. Whether in her blog or in real life, I love when she asks opinions on stuff, she’s genuinely interested in the response. Love her. While vastly different from my blog, I always credit Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day for inspiring me to pursue a more creative life. Read about it here.Her beautiful photos, clean layout, and overall style influence me daily. She's great. Samantha Hahn of Maquette writes a blog that’s different than mine, but I can’t help but be influenced by it. Samantha is a mother and artist living in NYC. Her blog is a collection of the things that influence her and updates readers on her latest projects. I love learning about mothers who are pursuing and succeeding in their creative endeavors! Guilty pleasure: Goop. I love it. People say the tone of the website is condescending and out of touch, but I don't think it is. I look forward to Gwyneth Paltrow's tips regardless of what people say. It's got some good info! Magazine's like Kid-In and Papier Mache are my favorite places to go to for kid style. I adore the way these magazines capture childhood: realistic, yet magical.

Come to think of it, that's a great way to describe NYC Taught Me too. Follow Sharon on Twitter @sharonbeesley.

[Top photo credit: Britney Ericksen]

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