Wednesday, June 7, 2017

10 Lessons from a New York Newbie

Hello my faithful blog follower. I know, it has been awhile. I have completely let you down and for that I am sorry. I have been so busy the past few months redesigning my Etsy store and designing like crazy. It has completely consumed my entire childless downtime, and the thing about it is I LOVE IT! I need just a moment of your time to brag about my store. If it helps you understand any better on why I have been so busy my sales are up 193% since last year, I now offer printing services, and have partnered up with a couple of businesses! The redesign has completely changed my business and I am so excited to see what the future holds for NOLA Lou Lou. If you haven't followed me before NOLA Lou Lou is my Etsy shop where I design and sell Invitations, Announcements, Photo Cards, and the list goes on and on. Be sure to check it out if you have a moment or two! 

Since I have been away I obviously have a lot to update you on. My update is going to be through 10 Lessons we have learned thus far as New York Newbie's and I would definitely still consider us Newbie's! 

1.) Always move your car on Street Cleaning Day

Many of you may wonder if we have a car? We decided when we moved here to keep one car just so that if we wanted to escape the city, aka go to Kentucky we would be able to. We don't use it a lot but we do use it to go the grocery store (there is an Aldi about 3 miles from us which equals a 20 to 30 minute drive). Occasionally I just need a Suburb minute (mall, target (without paying to park), Chick-Fli-a) so in about 30 minutes I can be in New Jersey to experience all the luxuries the suburbs have to offer. So where do we park the car that we occasionally use? The street! Luckily we don't live in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and lots of Brooklyners own cars because most of them have families. We usually don't have trouble finding a spot close to our apartment building either. The most critical thing though to street parking is making sure we move the car for Street Cleaning Day.

Our street is cleaned on Thursday (left side) and Friday (right side) between the hours of 11:30-1:00. Not that long and since I am home its my responsibility to move the car. Occasionally though I am known to have what I call "mom brain." However, in February I experience "mom brain" that I hope to never endure again. Hence lesson one: Always move your car on Street Cleaning Day. 

At exactly 11:30 on Thursday morning I remembered that it was street cleaning day and the car was parked on the Thursday side. I quickly gathered up Elin and Baylor and ran out to the car. Now luckily it was one of the random days in February when the weather was some what warm, but it just happened to be SUPER windy (if you know Elin than you know she hates the wind because she is slightly a diva). I am in such a hurry to move the car that I don't even pay attention to anything but getting the kids in and the car moved. So I didn't even noticed that the street cleaning man had already passed my car. I jumped in and started to pull away but noticed that the car felt funny. I quickly pulled over (blocking 1/4 of an older man's driveway) and discovered that my front left tire had been sliced, and the tire was flat (see picture).

My super happen to pull up behind me and proceed to tell me that the street cleaning man had hit my tire (hence why his machine was sitting on the side of the road). Of course now I have to get the kids out of the car and go talk to this man all while Elin is screaming that it is to windy outside. Yes, the street cleaning man's broom fell off the machine and hit my tire. Of course the Mr. was in a meeting and my dad didn't pick up the phone so thank goodness my State Farm Agent coming to my rescue! Apparently the city is suppose to pay for the tire but it could be years before we see that money! I guess could have received a ticket and they could have not offered to pay for the tire so there is a positive side to the story

2.) Are you really lucky if the Subway Station has and elevator? 

Lessons learned from the city are mainly around the subway, because public transit is a new concept to this southern girl! If you have ever visited NY you may find yourself wondering how I possible get around the city with two kiddos. To be honest I have no idea, I just man up and do it, and pray it all works out for the best. I also really just hope that there is an elevator at the station I am getting off at, other wise I look like a struggle bus for sure. However, do I really consider myself lucky if I happen to get off at a station with an elevator, or do I? 

After investing in 3 different double stroller we finally went with the Uppa Baby G-Link, it weighs 23 pounds so I can carry it and Baylor down the stairs while Elin walks on her own. I understand now why every mom with two kids owns this stroller here it is well worth the money. 

I have quickly learned that taking the subway up to one of those so called station with an elevator usually means I am living on a prayer. I find myself saying oh I'll go up one more stop and walk a few blocks because there is an elevator only to find out that the elevator is not working at that station. 

The worst though is when you get to the elevator, it works, you want to jump for joy and then you get on only to find that someone has probably spent the night in the elevator and it smells like a urinal. Yep, this is the most common occurrence and well now Elin gets on and shouts "Someone peed in here," making the ride up awkward for me and the strangers riding up with us (I should apologize to my own mom now for all the awkward moments in life I may have caused her when I was a child, sorry mom I love you). 

The subway stations are actually cleaned so while it does always have a smell it is nice to know that they pressure wash them and they usually smell good for a couple of days!

So lesson learned elevators in the city are awesome for a momma with  a stroller just trying to get to play date but pack an oxygen mask if your kids don't require a bag full of snacks (side note I would never have enough room for an oxygen mask because my kids literally require a bag full of snacks, thank goodness for the years on the swim team I can hold my breath for quite sometime). 

Our building has an elevator, and it always works and doesn't smell like urine! Baylor has officially learned to walk on and off the elevator and thinks he is big stuff. 

3.) Avoid the Empty Subway Car

Yes, occasionally you come across a Subway Car that is completely empty. You find yourself wondering why that subway car is empty, well trust me there is a reason for this. Chances are it is one of the following:
- No AC
- Fowl smell
- Rat on the pole 
- Just something or someone funky inside

You take a chance if you enter and empty subway car, may the odds be ever in your favor. 

The odds happened to be in my favor that day! 

4.) Departures, Not Arrivals for Pick Up 

So you are coming to visit? Well first off let me say we love visitors and I am pretty sure I am destined to be NYC tour guide. However, I will say that if you ask me to pick you up from the airport I will gladly do so but I will cuss you all the way there, especially if you are flying into LaGuardia (just kidding I don't mind if you follow my one simple rule).

Loved having our cousins visit and explore our city with us!

LaGuardia is currently undergoing major construction. One being that hopefully in the near future the subway will have a stop there (this would be AWESOME). Plus LaGuardia is just old and outdated so it truly needs a face lift. However, there is no parking and navigating around can be horrific. 

Just playing tourist with my brother!

The one and only time I have cried real tears because of the stress of driving in NY was at the airport. The lesson I have learned is that until LaGuardia is completely finished with construction it is best for me to pick you up at Departures, not Arrivals. Also note to anyone visiting if you aren't taking a taxi (which there is a taxi stand in Arrivals) and wanting to use Uber or Lyft have your driver pick you up in Departures they will thank you later. 

Grandparents Take on the City
 We love L and B
We love Ebbie and ZZ

5.) Dress in Your Winter Finest 

We haven't quiet figured out the reason behind the way New Yorkers dress. I guess they really love their heat. Heat is free here, the homes are heated by the steam from the subway system (interesting fact). It is definitely nice to have heat but my goodness it can get hot if your neighbors have their's on full blast. This winter we never had to even turn on our radiators. I think because New Yorkers are use to the heat they have no idea how to dress when they go outside and the weather is actually nice (to a southern) it is still cold to a New Yorker. Literally it was 82 degrees a couple of weeks ago and the kids and I were at the park. I counted 18 people that had winter attire on (coat, wool hat, scarf, etc.). I am over there with my kids in shorts and a t-shirt and these people look like a snow storm is due at any time. Not to mention the number of kids I still see in their stroller muff (basically a sleeping bag for the end of the stroller). The Mr. and I are constantly laughing because these are the same people who refuse to take off their excessive layers in the subway and are just pouring down sweat. 

Lesson learned if you want to live like a true New Yorker you never store your winter clothes, you rock those bad boys all year (clearly we aren't living like true New Yorkers over at the Logan Household). 

6.) It's Hot Don 

So I just mentioned that heat was free here, but I forgot to mention that most of NY does not have central air. These building were built in the 1800s long before the existence of central air. Windows units are a must so some times when you are walking the streets of NY and you feel a drop of water and no rain in site just note everyone has a window unit running to survive the heat (ours runs year round).

We have only had few really hot days thus far, and on those days it is HOT! If you riding on the subway the heat is trapped underground so you want to make sure you time your arrival just perfect. Also lesson learned the best place to get AC in a subway car is in the middle. If you stand on the ends there isn't much air flow and you will be miserable. The buildings also trap heat so while it may only be 80 degrees outside it could feel a lot warmer just because there is no where for the heat to go. 

So this summer while you are enjoying your nice central air be sure to pray for the New Yorkers who are relying on window units or no AC at all. 

You will find us at the Splash Pad all summer, it is literally steps away from our house!

7.) Everything Takes Time

Literally we live in a city where we have access to everything. However, it takes time to get to those things. We ride the subway pretty much everywhere but the subway has a lot of stops to make. For example, Mid-town (Time Square) is only 8 miles from our doorstep but it takes us 45 minutes or more (depending on how the train is running) to get there. At first this took some getting use to but I feel like we are getting more confident with subway so now it seems to go quicker but in reality we may just be developing a little more patience.

I drive here occasionally and again this takes time too. Elin had a play date last week and it was raining and I really just didn't feel like riding the subway with the two kids. I decided to drive. Her little friend lives 3 miles away and it took me 30 minutes, it was probably quicker to ride the subway by the time I drove over there and parked.

What happens when we drive just 3 miles? 

The major lesson learned from this is always have an endless supply of snacks and water! 

8.) Tinder for Moms and NY Babysitter

If you have ever moved away from all you have ever known than you can relate to me when I say making friends is HARD. It is seriously hard to make friends especially in our current stage of life. Our kids are young and not really involved in a lot of activities (which  the few that they are involved in is where we have made a couple of friends). We have kids and getting a baby sitter is basically like paying for two nights out in one, and they can't always come at a moments notice. Hanging out with people who don't have kids is just not something we can do easily (which most of the people our age here don't have kids and maybe single or just getting married, we are definitely abnormal).  Childless people tend to plan on a moments notice or want to do things that kids can't partake in (which if fine and we need sometimes). Luckily some genius technology person created and App specifically for parents called Peanut. Seriously for those of you out there that are familiar with Tinder it is just like it. It is basically a dating app for moms. Other moms log on and input their info (three favorite things to do, number of kids, age of kids, gender of kids) and then it connects you to moms in your area based on similarities. You can then wave at them (swipe up) or not (swipe down). You can chat and schedule play dates. We have already had some and while I don't feel like I have made a life long friend these people have introduced me to some activities in the area that I did not know about, which is a win in my book. 

The Buttons come and sing on Friday at a local coffee shop with play space. A Peanut associate introduced us to this great space and the kids love listening to Music on Fridays now!

Both kids started swim lessons!

Elin started soccer and finishes up her first season next week! 

Luckily soccer brought us a new friend that we are spending lots of time with these days! 

On the same note as making friends it is was crucial for us to find a babysitter when we moved to NY. I knew I joined a sorority for a purpose back in 2004. Not only did I make life long friends, have an amazing college experience, but now that same sorority that I joined is still a part of my life. When we moved here I wasn't keen on the baby sitter apps that other moms use here, for whatever reason I just felt uncomfortable with that whole concept. I remember when I was a Pi Phi we use to get emails from alumni asking for girls who would be interested in babysitting as way to earn some extra money. Asking a few of my sorority sister if they thought this would be creepy I decided why not take a shot what is the worst that could happen. I reached out the NYU Chapter president and she responded almost immediately with a list of girls. I started at the top and the first one to respond was going to be our girl! 

The Mr. graduated with the lead star in Paramour so thank goodness for Emily because we were able to see her perform before she took her final bow. We even were able to do a backstage tour which was awesome!

We met Emily back in January and she has been wonderful. She usually only comes in the evening when the kids are either in bed or getting ready for bed so it is the perfect job for a college student. She is originally from Michigan and home for the summer so we are really missing her and counting down the days until August. She has definitely given the Mr. and I some flexibility and some nights to be childless for a few hours! Lesson here use your resources! Once a Pi Phi always a Pi Phi! 

Concert at Madison Square=Checking off a NY must do item! Thanks again Emily!

Sometimes you just want to go to Serendipity and not have to share with your kids. I have no shame on admitting that!

9.) Honk Your Horn or don't drive here!

Literally the one thing that drives me the craziest about driving here is the number of times I get honked at. In KY honking is almost like someone using a cuss word at you while driving, its definitely rude. Here, I am pretty sure they use it for everything sometimes just to be friendly sometimes to be rude, who knows its 24/7! When you live here you have to learn to honk your horn and accept being honked at. I am not even joking the light can turn green and someone is instantly blowing their horn. I think the one that drives me the craziest though is that when I go to parallel park (which is every time I go to park) someone rides up on my bummer ands starts honking (seriously almost every time I go to park). Now if I were a true New Yorker I would just take my time and park my car, however, I am from the south and the honk of the horn makes me feel like I am doing something wrong, or making someone mad so I just put my car in drive and start aimlessly searching for the next parking spot. 

Lesson learned I am going to have to man up and just honk my horn!

10. ) Rude, Unfriendly New Yorker=Misconception 

I want to end on probably the most valuable lesson we have learned so far as NY Newbie. Moving away from everything you have known (even for just a little while) gives you such a huge opportunity to open your mind and see the world around you. Most people think that New Yorkers are rude, and unfriendly. This is a HUGE misconception. Our experience thus far has been just the opposite, New Yorkers maybe more friendly than southerners. I kid you not if you ever visit just pause for a moment and look around you, you will notice the constant random acts of kindness occurring in this hustle and bustle city. Yes people are in a hurry, yes they think about themselves a lot, and yes it is busy but there hasn't been a single time that I have left my apartment that I haven't seen kindness occurring all around me. I am not scared to walk around in my neighborhood, people I don't know wave at me and the kids, our neighborhood pharmacist knows my name when I walk in (and we have only been there like 3 times), our local produce stand owner new we were new to the neighborhood, the list goes on and on. I think the biggest thing for me though has been when I am out with the kids. For the past six month when I have ridden on the subway someone has a.) helped me carry the stroller down the subway stairs either by picking up the whole stroller and carrying it down or lifting up the back of it (I only have had to carry it the first few times I went because I was stubborn and refused the help, now I just go with it. They aren't going to steal my stroller or ask for money, there are just truly kind people in the world). If I don't have the stroller and get on the subway literally people fly off their seats for me to sit down with kids. The few times I have been alone I have noticed people doing this for any parent with kids, elderly person, pregnant momma, or anyone that simple just looks like they need to rest. People give up their seats willing to help a neighbor. The Mr. says the same thing, he constantly sees people giving up their seats, carrying items up the stairs for others (this includes those people traveling with luggage or heavy items), and just being kind and considerate of those around. 

My eyes have seriously been open and while I am not naive and do know that there are bad people and things out there I do appreciate the kindness that I see around me. Imagine what kind of world we would live in if everyone turned off the news and paid attention to what was actually going on around them. I fully believe that what we see on the news is only 10% of what is going on in the world the other 90% is actually good! I tell you kindness spreads like wildfire amongst people. 

So by far the biggest lesson I have learned and hope to instill in my kids is don't judge a book by its cover. Explore and discover, open your eyes and look around for the good because it is happening all around us!