Adventure, Baby, Life Changes, Mom, NYC

Mommy In the City. . . ?

kanga roo2

The crib sat in a corner adorned with Great Grandma’s handmade quilt. The white wicker rocking chair, the same one that I had in my room as a baby, sat in another corner surrounded by some stuffed animals and a small basket of toys. The walls were a soft pastel and the large bookshelf was stocked with every book my Little Roo would need for years to come. It was my perfect nursery room just as I had always imagined it. . .

And then I moved to New York City

Like so many women, I had this vision of how my life would go up to mommy hood. I would leave my home state after college, live in a big city for a year or two, find my dream man somewhere, move to a nice house in the burbs (probably back in my home state), get married and have children. We would live in a beautiful little neighborhood with BBQs and a park nearby for morning walks/runs. Yeah, a little too idyllic, perhaps, but a girl can dream!

Of course I have gotten some of those things. I found my dream man (seriously still wondering how he picked me – so so lucky), and we had begun searching for our dream suburban home in the mountains of Park City, Utah. I hadn’t moved to a big city after college, but I had found my husband, so that was totally worth it. Then, just months before our marriage, his company informed us we would be moving to New York City. My weekends of teaching skiing, evening trail runs/mountain bike rides out our back door after a long work day – all of that and more was about to disappear.

Fast forward to ten months of ‘big city’ living, adjusting, shock and change – the biggest of which will come mid October when we welcome our Little Roo (gender TBD upon arrival) and that dream nursery room has now become a 7x7sq.ft. space in the hallway to our bedroom. There are no neighborhood BBQs, no non-crowded little (or big) parks nearby and no baby’s room akin to Father of the Bride II. And let’s be honest here, I’m terrified of being a Big City Mom.

Perhaps I’m overthinking this Big City Mom thing (ok, I know I am). I spent my life in the mountains, and while I enjoyed traveling to big cities, I have never been one of those people who have thought while there, ‘now this is where I could spend my life’. Spend a year and have that ‘big city’ adventure – definitely. But be the place where my family would start – not in my wildest (or even tamest) dreams! I was completely content being a small town girl and eventually a suburban mom. I would find my mommy neighbors, go play in the park, have a great, small school district for me to work in and my kids to go to and fall asleep every night to cool mountain air and the sweet silence only nature can provide.

The lack of mountains and outdoor space (which has also made me very aware of my complete lack in sense of direction) makes me more homesick than anything, but here is what I’m really afraid of:

In ten months my husband and I have yet to make friends (let alone really meet) with anyone in our building. I even recently met a man in our elevator carrying two chocolate shakes. I inquired as to why he had two in which he responded his wife wanted one so he figured he would get himself one. Asking if she was pregnant (his response yes) I said I was too, hoping to strike up a conversation and perhaps even start a new friendship. His response – ‘oh’. End of that conversation, start to an awkwardly long last couple floors. I didn’t want to be that pushy person forcing something that obviously wasn’t there so I just stayed quiet.

The lack of our ability to make acquaintances with anyone in our building within childbearing age isn’t the only thing that makes this mountain girl nervous for this Big City Mom life. While I have been impressed with the amount of parks New York has with seemingly such limited space, the idea of waiting in line to swing and then have an actual swing time limit is completely ridiculous. There is no backyard to have adventures in, no pond to play in or mountain trail to venture through. To find outdoor space requires packing up for the entire day and trekking across New York traffic (which I’m terrified of which means I’ll really going to be a mess with my child). Yes, moms do this here every day and can’t imagine doing it any other way. I even had one say she doesn’t understand how suburban moms do it –

“I mean I can’t imagine having to pack up your car every day just to go somewhere.”

As I listened, all I could think of was the convenience of a suburb with its proximity to open space and the stroll around the neighborhood that does not require you packing up your life (and yes, after living in New York City for a bit, I do admit there are some major convenience factors, I’m not crazy).

Now before you think I am just the biggest Negative Nancy of city life, let me tell you a few of the things I am definitely looking forward to with a baby in the city – at least for the first couple years (the city school fiasco is a whole other topic).

Culture. This is one thing I will openly admit Utah does not have a lot of that New York is overflowing with – and it’s AWESOME! Everywhere you turn there is someone different, someone new, something different, educational and fun to experience. This city has a parade or small festival for everything, and I mean everything.

Museums. An annual pass to the Museum of Natural History (my personal favorite) and the MET are definitely going to happen. Once the weather gets chilly we are going to need an indoor adventure spot. An apartment can only provide so much entertainment, and if there is no snow (I’m from Utah here, so I’m talking Real snow), at least there are amazing, visually enriching, fun and educational places for us to experience.

With so many things New York City has to offer I know I am going to have so much to offer this Little Roo of mine, I still can’t help but be terrified. I just don’t see the little Mountain Girl in me succeeding as a Big City Mom. Perhaps I just need some more time, some more solo adventures before the bundle arrives to get my bearings (at least a little bit, still directionally challenged in this place). I’m a Mountain Mom at heart – but perhaps we’ll just play make believe for a couple years – being a Big City Mom could be one of our best young adventures together.

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Dating, Moving, NYC, The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Test

I used to joke with some of my girlfriends that you had to date a guy through all four seasons before even considering marriage. How else are you going to know their different habits in the winter vs the summer, the things you can’t stand or even the things that make you that much more attracted to them? New York City and I have made it through four seasons. We have survived each other and have found numerous likes and dislikes, but I think we just might get along – for a little while at least.

FALL 2013 – Our first couple months were a whirlwind of moving, fun and fall. Living in the Financial District for our first month was entertaining and scary – I don’t think I was able to go home the same way once, it’s so confusing down there! But he did have fun running around the point of the island, experiencing Oyster Fest (our first weekend in New York, way to draw us in!), going to Governor’s Island and more. When the end of October came we were moving into our midtown east apartment, talking jogs through the millions of paths in Central Park and getting a small peek at an East Coast fall (I have since heard the real ‘East Coast Fall’ is really experienced by traveling upstate or up north a bit). As overwhelming as it all was, what with the millions of people everywhere, New York had given us a great introduction and we were quite excited to see what lay ahead.

WINTER 2013-2014 – We were excited about what lay ahead. . . until winter came. At first I was just laughing a bit quietly at others. When the first “storm” came in, the meteorologists predicted a snowfall of three inches. Psh, three inches. Well according to the completely empty shelves at the grocery store and the 1hr check-out line (that’s Not exaggerating!), three inches of snow may have well been the start of the next ice age. Really I was most sad that my backyard of mountains was gone, that skiing would not be available to me within 10minutes when I wanted (how spoiled, I know) – and then came the wind and wet. I have been cold before. I have stood in a full body spandex suit in -27 degree dry temperatures. That pales in comparison to the wet wind that whips through, around, over, under, really any and every direction possible, through the streets of Manhattan. I HATE New York City Winters. In the four seasons test this was truly a potential breaking point. I have let it pass this year because I had to be fair – I had to give New York City the full year to see where our relationship would end up.

SPRING 2014 – Thank God New York Winters are not as long as Utah winters. While I almost went crazy, I can handle (at least I think I can, ask me again at the end of this winter) 3.5months of gray-brown snow and bitter cold (compared to the Utah winter of 6months, which I actually Love!). I cannot begin to express my delight as the snow and cold turned to rain and milder temperatures. Birds began singing (in Central Park that is, I don’t hear birds elsewhere), buds began blooming – the city was coming to life again. I began braving running outside again (my outdoor running threshold completely changed here, I will completely admit I became a pansy and learned to almost like the treadmill). While I was dreading the summer coming (all I heard was how hot and humid it is), I was really thoroughly enjoying this East Coast spring. If I wasn’t going to get my spring skiing, I certainly could enjoy a true spring of flowers and green and things that Utah just sometimes seems to miss.

SUMMER 2014 – The months creeped away and suddenly it was summer time. I would look out the window of my apartment and take a guess at how quickly I would just sweat through all my clothing. . . but then it never really came. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was humid for me, but that’s not saying much. When it is 25% humidity in Utah I feel like i am going to melt whereas in New York City people say, “oh it’s only 65% humidity, it’s really rather dry” – HAHAHA, dry. Funny. But those 95 degree temperatures combined with the 98% humidity never came. I avoided the state completely for the month of August just to avoid this dreaded, ‘East Coast Summer’ but going to the mountains and all I missed was beautiful, perfect weather. And then the beginning of September came. . . if September is all I have to deal with for a New York Summer, I will easily and gladly survive. Yes I felt like melting a couple days, but they were nothing worse than what I would experience visiting my grandfather in Houston, Texas (you want humid, melting death – try a day down there!). Summer, you made me like New York quite a lot – this relationship, while taking awhile, is slowly getting stronger.

FALL 2014 – Here we are a year later. The ‘Four Seasons Test’ is complete – so where does our relationship stand? Well I’m not ready for a breakup yet. New York, while she took awhile, finally introduced me to some amazing new friends, given me mostly good, enjoyable weather, and above all has introduced me to an experience that I will be proud and enjoy sharing no matter where we end up down the road. However, even after a year has passed, I am not ready to say we are in a fully committed relationship, I’m not ready for those, ‘three big words’. I do know that we are in a long term relationship, and while I know it will not be forever for us, I still look forward to seeing how long of a commitment this City pulls me in for and if she will every pull those ‘three big words’ out of my mouth for her.

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9/11 Memorial, NYC, Uncategorized

My JFK Day

As I was about to turn off my radio to head to school the host starts laughing and says; “get this, some idiot ran their plane into the World Trade Center in New York City. Buddy, those are pretty big and hard to miss {chuckling with co-host}. . . . . . . oh wait, we just heard this is quite serious, we will keep you updated as we know more.” The time was 6:55AM in Utah (8:55AM in NYC).

Every T.V. in our cafeteria was on, every student was silent. They were replaying the second tower getting hit over and over. It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. The T.V. stayed on in my first period class for about 10min before my math teacher decided there was no reason to watch anymore. We argued then proceeded to ignore everything math related until a science teacher came by to tell us that the Pentagon was just hit and nobody was teaching.

My generation had just encountered it’s JFK day.

Sept 11 Mem

Walking down the stairs I feel a breeze rush past me. “Just get out and run”. Some pillars still stand, adorned with patches and pictures, memories and an unmistakable pain and burden. Videos are on, surrounding you, calling out all the details over and over. You want to move on but you can’t, but there is more so you do. Going deeper the blood starts flowing faster, harder. Whispers, echos, penetrating and yet emanating from everywhere. A quilt with words of encouragement from an elementary school in Colorado lines one wall. Behind, the whispers become louder. Closer, louder. A mother, a brother, a son, a sister. They all have something to say. A memory, a message. Every face, all 2,977 of them smile down on you. You want to smile back, but it hurts so much.

Deeper still, reaching past the heart and into the soul. But there is one corner that seems it should be reserved for Hades. It’s dark, it’s filled with doom. It is the worst thing you have ever witnessed. ‘Turn away, it’s not right to look’, you tell yourself out of respect, but you can’t. They stand outside windows, waving t-shirts of white, searching for a savior that will never come – and so they jump. They fall, they plummet, they know what’s coming. But it’s only their bodies going to meet Hades at Styx, because the moment they took that last step their soul ascended, free from the smoke and pain and fear.

The details are endless. You could go through 100 times and still see something new – and each time will not be easier, but harder. They tell you to give yourself 90minutes to go through. But how can you only give this 90 minutes of your time? It will take days. It will take reading every little detail, it will take telling everyone around you to go see it.

Eventually I will be bringing my own children here. They will probably come home from school one day, asking what I remember about that day. It will strike me how strange it is that they don’t know. How could they not know? Then, while I tell my children everything, I will pray that they never have to experience anything like this. Yet in my heart I think I know this isn’t true. For every generation seems to have their day in their history that shakes their world, so I will just hope that they can take it all in and remember it all like I have. We can build a memorial and a museum, make documentaries and docu-drama movies to be passed down through the generations, but it is up to the individual to hold those memories in their heart. To never forget but always remember without the aid of a memorial.

The true memorial should always reside in your heart.

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Dogs, NYC, NYC Subway

Walking Your Human in NYC

dog-taking-his-human-for-a-walk

I come from a very human-friendly town. I would say that about 90% of the local population owns a human and they can be seen everywhere around town. Park City even hosts a bark-o-ween parade and bash, just for dogs to show off their amazing taste in costume. Go trail running and you will see dogs and their humans. Go biking and you will see a human trying to keep up with their four legged friend – and dogs parks and lax leash laws are dotted everywhere. Park City seems to pale in comparison, however, to what I have seen in New York City.

With this ‘horrible’ winter we have had, booties have been a major necessity and they come in every hue and pattern you can think of (including fur lined). Sweaters, puffy vests and one piece suits are worn by almost everyone. They are fur lined, bejeweled and embroidered. They come from D&G, Juicy, Lord & Taylor and more. Most days our four legged fellows greatly out-style me!

Now it’s not the amount of dogs and their impeccable fashion sense that really amazes me. It’s the places I have seen them! Dogs take their humans to coffee shops, restaurants and banks. They take them on the subway, which is awfully brave of them (I did think about how terrified my old dog would have been riding in such a thing). But the places that have really surprised me are dogs taking their humans to retail and department stores. In Ann Taylor the other day, I saw a mid-sized dog walking around like it was nothing. Dogs take the humans to Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Uniqlo and Tiffany’s and everywhere in between. . And while I haven’t seen a Great Dane taking their human shopping yet, I don’t know that I will be surprised when I do.

Now do I think this is a little ridiculous to bring your human into all these places? Just a bit. But I understand. These NYC dogs have such impeccable taste, I understand they are probably needed for fashion advice among other things. But perhaps you could just bark in approval or growl in disgust over their choices once they get home?

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Grocery Shopping, NYC

From Farm to Table with the Click of the Mouse

FD

Growing up, if you needed groceries you went to the store and got them. The only people I ever heard of getting their groceries delivered for them were elderly people. Anyone else who sat on their computer and ordered groceries was just completely lazy. . . then I moved to New York City.

While on our search for a place to live this summer I tried taking all the little outside things into consideration. I wanted to know what kind of stores surrounded me so I knew how far I would have to travel for certain things – such as the closest grocery store. Imagine my delight when I discovered that we were not only close to a Whole Foods (and by close I mean three buildings down from us), but we also had a huge Food Emporium about three blocks away and a D’Agostino about the same distance in the opposite direction (because I definitely can’t buy all of our food at Whole Foods if I want money still in my bank at the end of the month!). I had this perfect little image in my mind of me taking my little grocery bags to the stores, getting what I needed for a couple days, then walking home (haha yes naive, I know).

While making this perfect little picture in my head while roaming the streets of our neighborhood I would see this truck that said ‘Fresh Direct‘ on the side. I was quite in awe when I learned that this company delivered people’s groceries to their front door. I mean, I know this is a big city, but with that comes some kind of little grocery store at every corner! My husband suggested  we try it out for our first load and I had to agree with him. I could just picture my first grocery run, asking the store if I could just keep returning for bags as I shuffled my way between our apartment and the store (what a non New Yorker thing to do). But I knew I would only do it that once. I didn’t need a website to get my food from!

FD Delivery

While I have only ordered from the website twice, I’ll admit that I’m completely converted. I probably spent a good hour and a half my first time ordering just looking at all the options I had. Then there was the local options. I could pick areas and farms, read about them and their methods – I knew exactly where my food could be coming from! I finally got my first order in and delivered and it still made me chuckle seeing them at my door. Thanksgiving came around and I knew there was only one place I was going to go for the essentials – Fresh Direct!

While I still enjoy going to the grocery store, Fresh Direct is definitely bookmarked and will be used frequently. And with so many local options (and yes, I know grocery stores are great at local as well), it’s helping make this big city a little bit smaller – just what this Mountain Girl needs!

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NYC

Living the High-rise Life

Now that our couch and dinner table have FINALLY been delivered I feel like I can quite literally sit back and share this moving experience.

When we first met I was temporarily in the Financial District. Knowing I was going to be on the East Side before coming to New York was a system-shocker enough, the Financial District was a whole other beast. Needless to say, I was quite relieved to be out of that confusion. . . until I realized what I had signed up for being the ‘home setter-upper’. This task included, but was certainly not limited to: painting (which turned out to be the entire place!), organizing, folding, buying miscellaneous items, organizing, folding. . . did I say organizing and folding?

Paint cans

A little color to brighten up the other white walls!   photo 2 (2)

My husband and I had felt pretty good about the amount of ‘stuff’ we were bringing with us to New York. While we both had some separation anxiety with items we left behind (or forced each other to get rid of), we headed east convinced that we really didn’t have that much. After move in day I decided I needed to meet a minimalist and have them impart their knowledge and organizational skills on me.

Our clothing pile kept growing with each day I put things away. It was like those fall days when you go out, breaking your back to rake up all the leaves you can, only to come out three hours later to discover that while your pile was still there, nice and neat, a pile twice the size had manifested itself in red, orange and yellow scattered angrily across your yard. Yes angrily, because really how else do you describe something that won’t go away, that even though it’s inanimate, you want to scream at it to get its act together – angrily.

The kitchen is something I really couldn’t quite understand, and I am convinced that my husband snuck in items that I had specifically said ‘no’ to. We had just gotten married! Thanks to our wonderful friends and family we had a whole new kitchen practically. That meant that all of our old college life dishes we had collected over the years could finally be passed on to the next generation of starving college students. Apparently my husband is a big nostalgic?

Bedroom                                  photo 3 (1)

People kept telling me that months would go by and there would still be things you discovered you needed to do or to get for our new place. I thought, “psh no way. We are organized and on top of this, we’ll have this down in two weeks max!” Oh so young and naive. Here I am, almost a month post move, and two other furniture pieces have just been delivered. We still have two more things coming (hopefully within the next week, fingers crossed). We have almost finished putting up the new blinds we bought – which, let me say here that if you ever buy blinds, paying the Home Depot guy the extra $180 will be money well spent – and at some point this week we will mount our TV on the wall (now that we have a couch we can properly get the height the TV should be at). So. . . yeah. . . did I say two weeks? I’m sure I meant two months.

As stressful and mind boggling as this whole situation has been, I must admit that I am finally starting to feel at home – at least while I am in my apartment. I can honestly say that I did not think that would happen, or at least not for quite awhile ( six months minimum), but this apartment is becoming my happy place in the city.

Now if it could only fit my piano. . . oh well, a simple place to truly call ‘home’ is a great start.

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NYC, NYC Subway

NYC Subways: The Ultimate People Watching

Constant. Always in a hurry to get somewhere- which is often to push past you to get to the platform and just stand there when you knew the train wasn’t coming – never in the mood to talk or even look up.

They say one of human’s number one fears is public speaking, but sitting in a subway in the morning makes me think tight public spaces are right up there. Of course, this awkwardness and seeming inability to even meep (although cursing with your face down seems easy enough) makes for fascinating people watching.
In my two weeks of living in New York, I have discovered there are two VERY DISTINCT groups of subway riders – morning riders and after 1pm riders (because I am amazed how many people seem to Start their day around noon!). The morning riders look like this:
crammed subway
Notice that this picture is by the subway door. Because like your massive college lectures, the thought of actually moving to the middle and being near another person you don’t know – nuh uh, forget it! Most are silent, for many that silence is broken very faintly by the constant texting they seem to be doing (or perhaps it’s email, but even so, how in the world do they have service!?). If you are crammed right next to these types, they look at you like, ‘um, excuse me, why are you touching me?’. Getting a smile out of people is almost impossible.
One of my favorite things to do in the morning is see who I can get to smile back at me. Ridiculous I know, but it’s quite amusing when you look around, taking in people’s mannerisms. Judging whether they actually got to shower this morning, or if it was a, ‘shoot I shouldn’t have had those five drinks after work’ kind of mornings. I would say 2.5 out of 10 actually smile back (the half being that half smile while quickly looking away’. Most people, however, avert their eyes so quickly as though they were a two-year-old told not to peek but they just couldn’t help it. By the time I get to work, the crowds have significantly thinned and only the texters and students remain with me – so still no conversations to be had.
The afternoon/evening crowd is quite different. Maybe that’s because their fifth coffee of the day has finally kicked in, or maybe they just realize they are actually going to survive this day. I am definitely 9 for 10 on return smiles, and even ‘hello’s and ‘how are you’s are shared often. But the best are when conversations start. Here is what I have learned so far from personal conversations or evesdropping:
“There is nothing for me to be unhappy or unsmiling about because I am here and that makes today great” (elderly man who sat right next to me – 40years in NYC from the ‘DR” (Dominican Republic) three kids and two grandkids later – life is grand)
Not everyone can read a map that’s right behind them (as I’m trying to explain where to get off for Times Square while pointing it out on the map behind the woman’s head. The next stop she got a little scared – we were still 6 stops away – thinking they had missed their stop, obviously paying attention to me)
There seems to ALWAYS be some trivial thing to complain about (thins usually has to do with work and gets old to me really fast so I tune out rather quickly).
Adults just have no idea how things actually work and some video game teaches you so much more than you’ll ever learn in school (honestly had to try so hard to not crack up at these high schoolers on their way home from school).
I’ve heard people ask for money because of hard times in their lives and had a man come serenade our car with beautiful spanish singing and guitar. And while this wasn’t on the subway, a Mennonite choir sung beautiful Psalms that echoed throughout every corridor (it was so beautiful I missed the nest two trains to stop and listen.
As I continue to ride the NYC subway I hope to strike up more conversations with as many people as possible and to improve my 25% morning smile return. Until then, I’ll continue in partaking in personal bubble breaking in the mornings and making new temporary friends in the evenings (or at least getting good, juicy gossip 😉 ).

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