Adventure, Baby, Family Travel, Motherhood, Travel

Doing New York City – The Baby Way

When I first moved to New York City I got lost at least a dozen times. . . in my first three days! I would walk off the subway, confidently walking in the direction I was sure was correct, only to end up calling my husband to come find me on his way home from work. Once I at least got my sense of direction I then had to navigate my timing of when I would leave for things, how much time it would take (always give yourself an extra 30 minutes at least), and of course, my husband’s favorite, pre-walking to the ideal spot on the subway for the quickest exit.

After a year I felt pretty confident in Manhattan. I even knew my way better than my husband who always knows where he is going ;). And then I had a baby and everything I had learned, had taught myself, was gone. Now almost another year has gone by and I feel like some of that confidence has come back. With that confidence I would like to share the best I have learned, as it can be just slightly overwhelming to figure out what you are doing, how to get there and what to take with you when you have miniature people traveling alongside you (yes, for those of you who are Manhattanites, you have your ways down I’m sure, but for those coming for a visit, it may help).

  1. Subway No-Go Hours: the subway is a wonderful, easy way to get around the city. However, traveling this way during peak rush hour is very ill advised. Traveling at this time is almost certain to induce nausea, anxiety and overall unhappiness. Not to mention that if you are traveling with a stroller (more on that decision in a moment) you will be looked down upon and few, if any, will offer you help. So between the hours of 9-10:30AM and 5:30-7PM be warned.
Subway baby

Roo has her subway riding skills down.

2. Stroller Travel: I have been pleasantly surprised with the ease of which this city can be navigated with a stroller as well as how accommodating almost everywhere is with them. Almost anywhere you go will have either a parking spot for them or will just let them be, no fuss. And while having a stroller with you is a great thing, there are definitely times when you do not want one if you have a carrier to use instead

  • The Subway: Really, it is so much easier to travel the subway with a carrier. Think about your trip – if you can get around with a carrier, use it!
  • Chelsea Market: Unless you are in the city at a more slow paced time of year, this place is a mad house and is much better off just walking though, navigating with just your body, baby attached and all. But I highly recommend this place, I love going there and then adventuring along the Highline for a bit!
Stroller Chill

We make this stroller travel look good!

Carrier baby

Mom, can we go for a walk now!?

  • Museums: Ok, so this one is a bit of a toss up but I have found, after doing some museums both ways, that the carrier is much easier. For example, the Museum of Natural History has A LOT of stairs. Sure, it has elevators, but those things take forever (really, I waited for 10minutes at one). It is also much easier to navigate around some of the displays with just yourself and not a stroller.

3.  Breastfeeding: This one is easy. Anywhere you need to. Nobody cares or bats an eye. Besides, there are plenty of other crazy things to look at besides a woman taking care of her child 🙂

4.  Other Food: There are markets everywhere, Whole Foods, Food Emporium, D’Agostino, etc. There is also a Duane Reade on every single corner, maybe even two of them! For those who are not from the East Coast these are Wallgreens/Rite Aide. They have those fantastic food packets for kiddos of all solid food ages. So if you realize you forgot to pack your mini’s food, pop into one of these and hangry crises is averted!

Soccer baby

Taking a little food break down in Battery Park

Some other things I have learned from other moms that I think are great are just general rules. Being such a large place, the thought of being separated is probably very real (my child is 10-months-old so I fortunately don’t have this fear yet). Moms tell me that establishing meeting places is key. For the subway, tell your child that in the off chance you get separated, they are to either stay at the station right where they are (if you get on and they don’t) or get off at the next stop (if they get on and you don’t) and wait right there. If a cop is nearby at the station, point them out and tell them to go hang out with them until you return. A police officer is always a good person to go to if separated. While walking around, introduce your kids to them for an official NYPD picture! Hold hands always walking across the streets, but let them hail a cab for you, or run loose (by like 10 feet haha) in Central Park.

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My husband and nephew being too cool for school.

This city really is great for children and moms and dads and families of all sizes. There is so much to see and explore, and it is all so accessible.

These are my little tidbits from what I have gained thus far. I have no doubt that I will learn 1,000,000x more things in this next year as my daughter goes from 10-months to 2-years as this city shows me more and more with every day. If you happen to be traveling this way and there are other questions you have, please don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

For a mountain town who keeps hoping for a mountain baby, she does well with the city (much better than her mountain mama) and makes this city even more of an adventure than it already has been!

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Baby, Life Changes, Love, Mom, Motherhood, NYC, SAHM

The Start of the SAHM Life

I have been meaning to write this for almost 8-months now, but every day I say I’m going to do it, the day ends and merely the thought of writing is all that has happened. Such is the life of a newly inducted SAHM (that’s Stay At Home Mom for those of you who don’t know).

I didn’t always think I would be a SAHM right off the bat. I mean, I wanted to be one eventually, after I had all the kids I would have, but right away – meh. Then my Little Roo was born. Really it was even before that moment that I knew I would be beyond 100% satisfied with my life if I stayed home. And did I know it would be hard? Yeah. I had no doubt that when people told me it was one of the hardest jobs they have ever done that they were telling the truth. But to actually experience that personally took that belief to a whole other level.

 

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I’ll be honest – I already don’t remember what my job entailed those first couple months. I was a complete zombie who apparently kept a very happy demeanor (according to my husband, who didn’t tell me that until after, just in case a comment like that made me explode, haha). Once my husband went back to work I was sure I would be able to keep up with my old schedule. I mean, the baby just sleeps 90% of the time, right? Well, all I could ever answer when he would come home asking what I did for the day was. . . “I don’t know”. As along as it wasn’t too negative temperature-wise outside I knew we went for a walk, but the rest of it – well my memory decided to go the way of Dory.

Fortunately for my sanity (that was probably on the brink with the lack of sleep, even if I wasn’t aware of it), we were blessed with a good sleeper who was sleeping through the night by 8-10 weeks. That was at least one really hard part out of the way, but that by no means made the list of hard things smaller. I tried making a schedule, writing down exactly what I wanted to accomplish (I’m a total list person). I pinned everything on fun things I could do with my Roo, and yet I still felt like I was being inadequate as a mother. My job was to stay home, enriching her life but also make the home clean and comfortable for us all – why was this so overwhelming!?

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Almost 8-months have gone by now, and while there are still days I feel completely overwhelmed, desiring to do nothing more than to crawl into my bed and sleep everything away, I wouldn’t trade any of these last months for anything. Being a SAHM is the dream job I didn’t fully realize I wanted but it’s a job I can’t imagine not having and not giving my absolute everything.

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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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NYC, NYC Dining, Uncategorized

Bites with Budda(kan)

When you go out to eat you are not only looking for good food. Sure, that may be the first thing you think about, but location, atmosphere, energy, etc can truly become what makes the experience complete (unless the food is horrible, then all these other things are negated).

Think about your most memorable dining experiences (the positive ones). Close your eyes and open your senses. What do you see? What do you smell? How do you feel?

The Jailer escorts you to your table. As he opens the cell you slide on to your cold, metal seat. Soon the sweet aroma of BBQ ribs wafts by and you remember you’re hungry. After you fill yourself to the brim you search for your server, hoping they haven’t left you to rot (eventually, after a lot of digestion) behind bars. But hey, I guess if you can’t afford your meal they have an easy way of keeping you there! This was the Old Salt Lake City Jail restaurant in Salt Lake City. Even though I went when I was 10 or 11-years-old, it is still to this day one of the greatest dining experiences I have ever had.

Now I live in New York City. I live in a place known for having every food you can every think of (all all the others you could have never imagined). Some are simple holes in the wall that just have food so superb the order line runs down the street. Some provide views of the entire city with delectable dining above it all. New York restaurants are featured in late night shows, TV shows and movies. Needless to say, when dining in New York City, you have very high expectations.

Buddakan is one such place. However, it is deceiving in the beginning. While the entry/bar area is decorated very tastefully, it’s nothing to make you truly excited for your evening ahead. With your first round of drinks down the hatch, the host comes to take you to your table and you stop in your tracks as you approach the staircase.

Buddakan

The picture just doesn’t do it justice

You finally hustle down the stairs as you realize the rest of your party is already at the bottom of the stairs and you will definitely get lost if you aren’t with them. Walking past the grand table with its chandeliers emitting the perfect soft glow, you imagine a feast with royalty seated around (or the cast of Sex and the City apparently as well). Walking through an archway you see tapestries draping some walls, scenes of angels taking you back to the 14th century, while another wall features many faces and colors of Buddha. You smile, you’re completely at peace and your stomach hasn’t even been satisfied yet!

I would proceed to post a picture of the food and discuss how delectable it is (and it truly is), but we ate it all to quickly for me to capture it. Instead, I’ll skip to dessert and just tell you that you NEED to eat here. If simply for the jaw-dropping view at the top of the stairs, it is a must experience while in New York City. It’s an amazing experience that stimulates and satisfies every sense, leaving the diner with nothing more to desire (rather than maybe just to stay and admire the scenery a little more while you try to finish that last bite of of your sweet dessert that has capped off everything so perfectly.

Buddakan dessert

I almost couldn’t eat it it looked so cool (almost that is)

So close your eyes, open your senses, and find yourself at Buddakan where the vision can never leave you, and if you’re afraid it is, you’ll just want to come back again for a refresher.

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NYC, NYC Subway, Uncategorized

The Subway Symphony

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes.”A magic beyond all we do here.” Albus Dumbledore

 

Music has been in my life since I can remember. From my mother’s lullabies, to 7+ years of playing in band and a lot in between, music has been something my whole body yearns to have on a daily basis. It doesn’t just settle the buzzing noise between my ears, music calms me body and soul.

New York City has every type of music available for every type of person. There are symphonies and operas; jazz clubs and discos. New York City is the home to The Juilliard School (a place I used to dream about what it would be like to go there), Broadway, Central Park concerts, and The Carnegie Club featuring Frankie and the gang on Saturday nights (oh I could sit and listen and sing and dance forever here). Ellen’s Stardust Diner is known for its server’s singing performances, as they are all aspiring Broadway stars (and I would venture to bet this is the same with 75% of the rest of the servers/hosts in the city, that or aspiring actors). Yes, music has permeated every part of this city you can think of and more. But one of my favorite places I have found music in this city is in subways.

When I first moved here I was going through the subway station at Times Square when I saw a children’s Mennonite choir singing hymns. I’ve seen the saw violin, the one-man band, an astounding opera singer, and a blues group that could almost take you straight to the Delta if you let your eyes stay closed long enough. While some of these are people simply looking for a way to get by, many (like more than 350) are a part of the MUNY or Music Under New York presented by the MTA Arts for Transit. This amazing program, started in 1985 shows so many talented, amazing people. But it’s sad, while these professionals sit and play for hours, hardly anyone takes the time to stop and notice them. Remember when this happened in D.C.?

This concert violinist was almost completely ignored, simply because we are too busy with our day to stop and listen to the music. I admit I get like this far more often than I care to admit, but the other day I really stopped and listened and discovered someone amazing. Erik Heger was 5-years-old when he happened upon 10 harps hiding in his grandfather’s attic. Being a badass soldier in WWII (as Heger put it), he looked up to his grandfather as his hero. When he discovered this other talent of his grandfathers outside of shooting down the bad guys, he decided it must be really really cool and the rest is history. Heger can play anything you can think of. From Katy Perry to Jazz and Blues, classical beauties and compositions of his own. And if you saw him on the street, you would not pin him as a harpist (at least I wouldn’t, coming from Utah, most harpists are pretty little blonde girls). I sat and listened and chatted with him for over 45minutes, and I could have stayed longer if I didn’t have to get home to make my husband dinner – Heger was simply amazing. Here he is playing Mad World from Donnie Darko:

Stop and listen to the music every once in awhile, even if it’s just for five minutes. That five minutes may be just the thing your mind, body and soul needed.

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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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