Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Kid Licked the Subway Rail

Yep, you read that title correctly. I am not going to lie about it. Judge away my friends, judge away! We tried to stop her. We tried to tell her it was covered in germs. We tried to tell her it could make her sick. But at some point you just give up and realize that your child is as hard headed as they come (kids will be kids). So, yes the dictator licked the rail on the subway, and yes we are just as disgusted as you. We like to think she was just building up here immune system. 

Chances are she is telling me "No mom, don't say that!"

We are slowly (like snails pace) adjusting to our new life in the big city. I can't say that I have been very adventurous. The thought of taking the two kids alone on the subway has been a little terrifying but I thought I was due to give my faithful readers an update. Mainly I am just going to update you on our new mode of transportation, because lets face it everyone is curious as how you get around such a large city with two littles, even I am curious. 

Just waiting for the train, Mom's a horse!

Well for starters we live at a stop that only has two subways lines coming through (or as we commonly say in our house trains), so our little stop is not like the hustle and bustle you will get in Manhattan. Its a pretty quiet stop, usually just a handful of people waiting for the next train to roll through. 

Quiet little stop

Now we haven't been here long enough to call ourselves experts by any means. In fact I feel like even the people who have lived here their entire lives still get confused and have to use the map or app (note to all future NYC travelers you can pick up a map (its probably the best map) from an attendant, just note that not all stops have attendants working). We have quickly come to rely on the  Subway Map, the stop map inside the train, and a little app called CityMapper (its the best one we have found so far). So today, I wanted to share with you guys our current viewpoint about public transportation in NYC.   

Life on the Subway from the Logan Family Viewpoint 
(we are a really credible source)

1. The Subway is not always reliable. 

  • The train can and does occasionally change its route in the middle of a ride. The Mr. has had this happen a few times now. The F line changed to a C line, or a train stopped because someone got sick requiring all other trains to change their route. This can be and is very frustrating, especially when you aren't really sure where you are going to begin with! 
2. Construction is annoying.
  • We use the F line to basically get everywhere. Well since we arrived the F line has been under construction on the weekend. What does that mean? Well what should be a straight shot to wherever we are going now means we have to take the G line up 5 stops, transfer over to F (which is running the C line, but changes back to the F line at 4th and Washington, do you understand this? We get confused too)! Apparently construction was suppose to end last weekend , we will see how that plays out! I am pretty sure something is always under construction here.  
3. Rush Hour = Run, jump, say a quick prayer that you don't get caught in the door and just start pushing your way in, eventually it will clear out! 
  • Seriously, the Mr. says sometimes you can barely squeeze in but if you wait for the next one it is equally as crowded so you might as well pile on, everyone else is doing it!
4. People are actually friendly. 
  • Now don't get me wrong its still not the South, but people always offer me a sit when they see our struggle bus coming(mom, two little kids=struggle bus). They smile and wave at our kids (sometimes its creepy). Most of the time people are willing to hold the door for us as I push my double stroller through. They aren't rude or mean, just people! 
5. Occasionally there is Entertainment 
  • So far on the Subway I have heard a poet (yep, read poems he wrote about his life the entire ride), violinist, cellist, guitar player, and a group of acoustic singers. Sometimes these artist ride on the subway with you, sometimes they are just on the platform performing. I have yet to see a pole dancer (which I have heard is common, I'll keep you posted on that one)! 
6. If you enjoy people watching, just ride the Subway, or sit at the airport for a couple of hours.
  • Ok, seriously there is great people watching on the Subway. You really never know what you are going to see. I have to stop myself from staring, but my kids are a whole other story. They are not ones to shy away from getting all in someone else's business. Sometime it is hard to look away though, so I can't blame them. 
See, she is not in our conversation!

7. You can not depend on elevators or escalators at all Subway stops.
  • So momma in a city with two kids in tow. Of course you would think that the only way to get two and from would be a.)riding the subway b.) using the stroller. Well you are right, both are a necessity, however, the two go together like oil and water. There are not elevators or escalators at every stop (and if you do find one it is probably out of order) so you are likely to have to take both kids out of the stroller and carry the stroller up and down the stairs. This momma has just invested in a new stroller that supposedly weights 16 lbs. (my current one ways over 30 lbs. without the kids in it, hence why we haven't ventured out much alone). If the Mr. is with us I typically Ergo Baylor and Elin rides in a little umbrella stroller. However, Baylor's Ergo days are quickly coming to an end (he is heavy and pulls my hair the entire time). 
He maybe sleeping now but usually he is plucking my hair out one at a time.

8. Making sure you exit the subway at the right spot can be challenging. 
  • There are multiple exits when you get off the subway (NE corner, SE corner, etc.). This is probably the hardest part me. If I do happen to pick the right way to exit I often end up walking the wrong way when I come out. I am a work in progress when it comes to exiting the subway properly. 
9. The Subway is so much better than driving. 
  • So yes, I do drive around here, and yes I feel like a rockstar when I survive from driving around here, or just parking for that matter. The Mr. agrees commuting on the Subway is just nicer than battling the terrible drivers of the world. 
So far we have been here a month I have rode the subway just about every weekend with Mr. to go to our favorite place, Chick-Fli-a (hoping this weekend it is much smoother since the F line is suppose to be working). 

I have also rode the subway alone (kind of peaceful) to meet up with some Muhlenberg County friends. I can't thank these ladies enough for including me in their trip. It was so great to see familiar faces. 

You know life has come full circle when you have a mimosa with your Kindergarten/6th grade teacher/High School Counselor!

Now I did gain some courage and I have rode the subway one time alone with the kids. Let me just paint a picture for you. It was pouring down rain, winds 30 miles per hour, and I could not take my stroller because I am simply not strong enough to carry it down the stairs, so the dictator had to walk and old her umbrella (picture that struggle bus in your head and go ahead and laugh). Now normally I would have never gone out in those conditions, but if you remember me telling you all that we love visitors, well we had visitors. Some friends from KY were up on a quick "Babymoon" trip, and well I wasn't going to let rain stop us from seeing them. I have to give them props to because they came out in terrible conditions, and rode the Subway to Brooklyn to meet us. So like I have said before, we love visitors, we will come meet you, and I will ride the subway alone with my two littles to see familiar faces! 

1st of many rides alone, we survived!

Thanks Laura and Dave for battling the weather conditions just to see us!

Once this new stroller arrives and it warms up I am hoping the doors will open and I will feel braver about getting out and about with two littles in tow. I am sure in a few months I will feel like a pro! I'll leave you with some what we have been up to pictures! 

Rockefeller Christmas Tree, we were able to catch it before they took it down.

We went to visit/tour Etsy! If you visit and want to go just let us know, it is definitely something cool to see! 

We go to the park, A LOT! 

We found a doctor, I think! 

This is how we wear them out when its cold, snowing, or raining!

Prospect Park is basically our backyard! 

Our new stroller arrived TODAY! It fits through our doorway, weight 16 lbs., and has cup holders. I'll keep you posted on if we like it or not, fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year, New City

Happy New Year faithful blog readers. This is a pretty lengthy post all about our apartment hunting and move, so if you are curious read on, otherwise you can skip to the pictures, because lets face it that is what everyone really likes anyway. 

Its a New Year and the Logan's are in a new city, New York City to be exact. We said "goodbye to 2016, and goodbye to Connecticut". While Connecticut was a good transition for us we are not all that sad to say goodbye. The only major plus to living in Connecticut is that we were close to so many great places. We are really excited for our new adventure and seeing where God leads us here in New York. 

The adventure thus far has been pretty exhausting and exciting all at the same time. Back in October the Mr. accepted his job with Etsy and they wanted him to start November 28th. This meant we had to find an apartment and move, basically within 30 days. We had already planned to be in Kentucky for Thanksgiving, and the kids and I would be staying until the New Year. Needless to say I wanted to be moved before we packed our bags and head to KY for 6 weeks. Finding an apartment in NYC should've been easy right? 

We had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Initially we thought lets just hire a realtor. However, we were shocked about the NYC real estate market. Besides how little square footage you get for your dollar (which we knew) there is a notorious broker fee (which we didn't know). Brokers fee you ask? Well basically if you get a real estate agent to assist you in the apartment hunt you will likely pay a brokers fee of around 12 to 15 percent of year's rent, talk about an absurd amount of money. Even if you don't get a broker and find a hidden gem on your own it is likely listed by a broker and thus you will end up paying it anyway. We decided it would be best to giving it a shot at finding an apartment on our own, or in other words I would become the Mr. real estate agent. Talk about a TOUGH client! 

Luckily we sort of know someone who lives in NYC so I was able to reach out to her to get the scoop on where to look for an apartment. She suggested I use a site called "Street Easy" to do my search. This site enables you to see all the rental units out there, narrow it down by area, price, amenities (yep, a washer and dryer is luxury people), and NO FEE apartments (extremely important, remember that Broker's Fee). While the Mr. was going through the interview process at Etsy I had already begun my research (just incase) on areas to live in based on schools, and family friendliness. I had it narrowed down to one particular area that is consider the stroller meca of NYC (AKA Kid City) and a couple that could be contenders if the apartment and price were right. Our check list seemed like it should be doable (price, 2 beds 1 bath (2 would be great but not a priority), neighborhood, designated space for Baylor (a walk-in closet would have been fine, thats where he was in CT), close to transit, and a washer and dryer (remember its a luxury). 

I set out to search using Street Easy and Craigslist, making appointments for the weekend and quickly learning that the Mr. would like an excel spreadsheet with everything laid out for him 😒. We had planned to go to NYC two weekends during the month of October because we thought surely we would find something relatively quickly. I mean it was October we needed a lease to start in November. Let me just say upfront if there was a way for us to loose and apartment we did. 

We headed down to Brooklyn, kids in tow (be thankful those of you have help with your kids, apartment hunting with two little people makes things really fun). We were set to look at an apartment basically on the hour from 9:00 until 5:00 with an hour lunch break. Yes, we are crazy, we realize that. The morning started off looking at places that just weren't doable, third floor walk-ups, no elevator, just felt dirty, space wasn't designed well, etc., etc. After lunch we thought we had hit the jack pot when we found a 2 bedroom, 2 bath in our price range, with a yard (that wasn't even on the list). We decided to think about it and told the agent (boo to an agent) that we would get back to them by Sunday evening. On the way home that night we decided we should just go for it, it was perfect, met all of requirements and some. However, we still had another contender that we were going to look at on Sunday and we decided not to fill out the application immediately. 

Sunday morning we woke the kids up at 6:00 to head back to Brooklyn to look at one unit. I told y'all we are crazy. We loved that unit too but decided that the one from Saturday was perfect. We called the agent, filled out the application on the way home, and thought it was a done deal. Two days later we got a phone call, saying sorry you guys weren't picked because you didn't bring the deposit with you and we went with another couple that had money in hand. Of course we were devastated because we thought it was perfect.

Lesson 1 when apartment searching in NYC bring money in hand so you can secure the apartment immediately. 

Now remember I told you we drove down Sunday and looked at an apartment. It was really cute, a little Brownstone on a quiet street in the Garden unit (this is the bottom floor of a Brownstone). We decided we could make that unit work as well, it too had two bed, only one bath, no space for Baylor, but it did have a backyard and was in the perfect area, plus NO FEE (huge plus). We called the family back and told them we were interested. We filled out the application, SENT money, and thought it was ours (we even did FaceTime with owners wife because she couldn't meet us Sunday). They called the next day told us that they wanted to do a background check, all things pointing or ours right? Background check cleared, and they sent us the lease all we had to do was sign. We read over the lease and couple of things in the lease didn't match what we had been told so we didn't sign right away (naturally) and sent them email asking for some verification. 

Lesson 2 there maybe other applicants that have made it to the final round as well, either a.) ask if there are other people that may still be contenders or b.) sign the lease right away. 

Yep, we didn't sign the lease instantly and someone else beat us to it. I am not joking people, this is real life apartment hunting in NYC problems. 

Completely devastated we were back to square one. Which meant another week of apartment searching, scheduling appointments and dragging our kids back to Brooklyn to spend a day going in and out of apartments. They really love us! Going into the 2nd weekend of apartment hunting we had learned some valuable lesson. Me, carry and excel spread sheet. Us, be ready to sign and come with money! You don't get a chance to think about things in NYC. The Mr. and I both had two apartments in mind that we thought would be winners. The Mr.  choice was up first and lets just say Elin fell down the stairs of this sixth floor, tiny stair walk up. Yeah, definitely not going to work with two little people. My apartment choice had stairs in the unit, and they were super narrow, plus it smelled like Kitty litter, blah! The third place of the day was what we considered doable. We didn't love it, we didn't hate it but we could make it work. At this point the kids were well you can imagine, we were well you can imagine, so we decided to just cave because we could definitely make it work and it hit several items on our list. We told the agent right there on the spot that we would take it, filled out the application, gave her not only the application fee but a deposit as well, and verified that there were no other applicants. Basically all we had to do was meet her at her office (Broker Fee, boo) and sign the lease on Tuesday. We cancelled ALL of our appointments for the rest of the day because it should have been a done deal right? Oh you guys come on I told you if we could loose and apartment in every way we pretty much did. So this particular unit had a tenant that supposedly was going to break his lease. The real estate agent told us that he would be out November 1st, according to the landlords conversation with him. Well Monday evening the real estate agent called to tell us that the tenant had changed his mind and would not be breaking his lease. 😢😡 There are no words to describe the emotions we were feeling. We were extremely frustrated to say the least. 

So you already know what this meant for us. Another week searching, and another weekend dragging our kids to Brooklyn to look at apartments. This would be our last weekend that we would be able to go to Brooklyn for a couple of weeks, and basically if we didn't find something we would have no hope of being able to move in before we headed to KY for Thanksgiving. November 1st was quickly approaching, and we had learned that a lot of places only had two move in dates a month, the 1st and the 15th, we would be headed to KY on the 18th. We really needed that November 1st start date. This time we decided that we would literally keep all of our appointments even if we decided on one. I had 8 appointments that day. Our kids were like the most amazing troopers we have ever seen. We found an apartment that met all of our needs and some (right area, 3 beds 2 baths, washer and dryer, just gut renovated, right price, close to transit, good layout, elevator in the building, NO FEE) it seriously seemed to good to be true. It was hard to look at anything else that day because it was so perfect. We decided not to get our hopes up but filled out the application, gave them money, asked about other potential applicants, and basically were told all we had to do was drive down Friday and sign the lease. Still doubtful, I drove down in the middle of the week to look at one more place that I had found on Street Easy. I wanted a back up plan, even though that place would have never worked. Friday came, the Mr. drove down, papers were signed, keys were given, and by golly we had an apartment with a lease date starting November 1st! It was like God let all the other apartments fall through because he knew he had this perfect place waiting for us. 

So because everyone is curious as to what a NY apartment looks like, I'll let you into my house, because I would be curious too. Now please note it may appear straight but what you do not see is the Cheerios on the floor, the pile of laundry in the closets, the dust that needs dusting, and well it only looked clean for the picture otherwise its a mess, we do have two little people. 

Our Building is only 6 floors, we live on the 3rd!

When you come into the apartment you can go straight

 or turn left. 

If you turn left you will find Elin's room, or our guest room (visitors welcome anytime)! 

Elin's room has a bathroom off of it, shower only but still perfect for guest! 

Now had you chose to go straight there is a bathroom off of the hall, this one has a tub! 

Then it opens up into our kitchen, dining, living room, laundry room all in one area! 

Check out that washer and dryer! Take that NYC we were able to find an apartment with a washer and dryer!

Off of the living room is our room and Baylor's Room/Playroom!

Now that I have let you in my home I'll be including FAQ section in this blog. Since we have announced that we were moving these are the most common questions we have been asked. 

Frequently asked questions:

Do you have a car?
Yes, we sold one of our cars and kept the other in case we ever wanted to escape the city and head to KY.

Where do you park?
We have street parking, we have to move the car either Thursday or Friday due to street cleaning, so thats the only downside. 

How big is your apartment?
Its comparable to our CT apartment, accept it has one extra bedroom and no dining room. Our CT apartment was 1100 square feet so I would say its about the same size. 

What do you do for groceries? 
There is a little mom and pop fruit stand across the street, for when you need to grab something quick. There is an Aldi 20 minutes away in one direction, Whole Foods 20 minutes in another direction. Apparently there is a grocery store in walking distance, we just haven't been there yet. Plus you can use a service called Fresh Direct which delivers groceries to your door. Ask me this again in about a month and I will tell you what we are doing. We will probably do a combination of it all.

How long does it take the Mr. to get to work?
While we are only like 9 miles away from his office, it takes him about 20 to 30 minutes, which includes riding the subway and walking time to get there. Which in CT this was his drive time, he says its a lot better than driving. 

How long does it take to get to Manhattan?
Its about a 40 minute subway ride to Time Square, maybe longer depending on how the trains are running that day. Which remember you are just sitting and riding, and there are a lot of stops between here and there. 

What are you close to? 
The central park of Brooklyn, also know as Prospect Park is literally like 5 blocks away. Two or three stops up is basically any restaurant you want, and maybe five or six stops up is Target and lots of shopping. 

What's the weather like?
Its pretty comparable to home. Basically we are like a day behind. So if it is snowing there today its probably going to be snowing here tomorrow. It is warmer here than in CT and CT has snow on the ground like all the time. NYC may get snow in feet like CT but I have no idea at this point. All I know is that it was 45 degrees here yesterday and 32 in CT so to me its step in the right direction. 

Do you like living in NYC?
Um, I have no idea. We literally moved in and the kids and I left for KY for six weeks. We just got back on Sunday and so far Elin has just wanted to be at home, which I understand we have been away for 6 weeks. We went to the post office yesterday and stopped by a park to swing for a minute. Ask me this in a year, my view point on living in the city maybe slightly more informed then. 

Are you guys going to live there forever?
I have no idea! I wish I could see the future but I can't. I am just trusting God's plan for our lives and right now he has called us to Brooklyn. We do know we will be here for at least 18 months because that is how long our lease is for. 

Do you want visitors?
Um, yes please! The more the merry! 

If you have any other questions just post them in the Comments section of the blog, and I will get back to you! I'll leave you with this cute little picture of my two love bugs! 

Thank you to all my loyal readers. I hope you all have a very Happy New Year! The Logan's Do Life blog will strive to keep you updated on all of our adventures here in Brooklyn and in NYC in general. Stay tuned!