Pros and Cons: New York vs. New Orleans

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Photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña on Unsplash

On top of attempting to make this blog one giant New York vs. New Orleans pros and cons list, I wanted to sum up the pros and cons in one place. This won’t be easy though since I’m attempting to compare two things that I don’t really know. Here is why. If we stay in New York, we will most likely move to the suburbs since we have a Pookie and may eventually have a Pookie sister or brother. But we have never lived in the New York suburbs, so we don’t know the pros and cons from experience, just from what we’ve gathered from New Yorkers who have already made the leap. Also, although I am from New Orleans, I haven’t lived there in 14 years, so things have changed a bit. Ya think?!

Pros of New York Suburban Life

  1. Great public school systems
  2. RR’s great job with awesome benefits is in NYC
  3. Low crime
  4. Easy to travel anywhere from New York
  5. RR loves New York and feels at home there
  6. We have many friends in NYC (although not in the suburbs)
  7. We have aunts, uncles and cousins here whom we love dearly
  8. Close proximity to Long Island, the Catskills, the Poconos for great weekend trips

Cons of New York Suburban Life

  1. No immediate family members nearby
  2. Cold weather, shoveling snow
  3. Very expensive childcare
  4. Real estate is expensive
  5. I personally might feel isolated in the New York suburbs
  6. Fear of terrorist attacks (assuming RR continues to work in Manhattan)
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Photo by Lou Levit on Unsplash

Pros of New Orleans Living

  1. Kitkat, Mimi, Papoo, the Dartez family
  2. Very good friends Alysia and Ileana in the city and Michelle nearby
  3. Warm weather almost year-round
  4. Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras
  5. More affordable childcare
  6. Incredible food
  7. Unique culture
  8. Dana loves it and feels at home there

Cons of New Orleans Living

  1. Most likely fewer and inferior job prospects
  2. Crime, some level of fear when going out at night
  3. Bad public school systems (except for a couple), might have to pay private school tuition
  4. Fear of hurricanes
  5. Having to drive everywhere
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Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash

Hand Foot and Mouth What?

RR, Pookie and I were really looking forward to getting down to New Orleans for some relaxing family time, some free babysitting in the form of KitKat (Pookie’s grandmother) and some fun. For the first time in a long time, we were going to spend Thanksgiving with my cousin, her husband and their three kiddos, and we were extremely excited about this. Unfortunately disaster struck the moment we arrived, and nothing worked out the way we had hoped it would.

The first horrible thing that happened was that the day we arrived, we were just settling in, when my grandparents (Mimi and Papoo) came over. I heard the front door opening and ran to greet them. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the door soon enough because as I’m making my way to the front door, I see Papoo and a pot of soup flying through the air. He had tripped on the rug (damn that rug!!) at the entrance and fallen on top of Mimi. Believe it or not, the soup was saved. Only a little spilled out of the pot, but Mimi’s ankle wasn’t so lucky. RR insisted that she go to urgent care and took her there. Hours later, we learn that, fortunately, nothing was broken but that she did have a sprained ankle! What a great (not!) way to start the Thanksgiving holiday. But it gets better, and by better I mean worse! 🙂

The day after we arrived, Pookie had become quite fussy, and at first we attributed it to the change in routine. Then we started to see some pink spots on his chest. We hoped it was just his sensitive skin acting up, but by the next day, it was clear that he had a virus as he was covered from head to toe with pink and red spots, and he had a fever. We rushed him to the doctor, who fortunately could squeeze him into her lineup of 14 sick kiddos, and she diagnosed Mr Fuss Pants with a severe case of hand foot and mouth disease. Great!

 

Believe it or not, it gets even better, and by even better I of course mean even worse! The nurse had swabbed the inside of Pookie’s nose in order to test for the flu, and it turned out, as we only learned the next day, that he also had the flu. Like, for real? So, the doctor put Pookie on a regimen of Motrin and Tamiflu, and, fortunately, in very little time, he seemed to be feeling better. But frustratingly, we had no choice but to cancel Thanksgiving plans with my cousin and co. because Pookie could still be contagious, and she couldn’t risk any of her kiddos getting either one of Pookie’s nasty bugs. So they had to come up with a last minute Thanksgiving plan, and we had an extremely intimate (albeit lovely) Thanksgiving just the six of us.

One last ridiculous thing happened that made our Thanksgiving holiday officially the worst one ever. RR’s throat started hurting horribly, and no throat spray or over-the-counter medicine would give him any relief. Then his hands and feet started burning and developing red spots. Yep you guessed it! After another trip to the doctor, it became clear that he had caught hand foot and mouth disease from Pookie.

What could go wrong clearly did go wrong on this trip, and before we knew it, it was time for RR to head back to New York without having had a single bit of fun or relaxation. We hope that when RR comes back for Christmas that things will run a bit more smoothly.

Dear Dad – Letter Three

Dear Dad,

We visited you today, and Pookie caressed the star of David on your headstone. It’s hard to describe the heartbreak I feel knowing that you won’t get to know your grandson. The only times you saw him at all were first on Facetime when we were still in New York and then when you were at the hospital. We were taking a risk by bringing him in the hospital at all since he was so little then, but we did it knowing it could be the only time you saw him at all.

It was so cute how you described him (over and over) as “stout.” The hospital stay and the drugs had made you a bit out of it at that point so you would ask “what was that word again?” and we would have to remind you of the word “stout.” You loved that he was “stout” and said that no one would ever mess with him.

Dad, I hope so much that somehow you can still see him. He’s 14 months old now and is truly Mr. Personality. He’s so cute, so sweet and so expressive. I know I’m biased, but I swear he’s something special. People call him a comedian, and it’s so true, and I like to think he gets his sense of humor from you.

Throughout my life, you always cracked me up, but now I’m learning about so many hilarious stories from your younger years. I’ll be sharing some of those stories as well as my own in these letters to you. I know it sounds cliché, but I feel like if I preserve these stories and memories that it will keep you alive somehow. I just want to remember as much as I can, and, most importantly, I want Pookie to eventually get to know you through these stories.

Love,

Tiny

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How (and How Not) to Fly with a 14-Month-Old

Having had good experiences flying with Pookie at 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 11 months, we still could not be sure that flying with a 14 month-old would go smoothly, but I must say, it was not bad at all.

TIMING We could not have timed it any better. Our flight left at 10am – right when Pookie would be ready for his first nap. When I say ready, I mean very ready, but of course not too ready. So, as soon as the plane took off, we put him on his nursing pillow (I still use one even though I am no longer nursing) and gave him his bottle. He went right to sleep and slept for roughly an hour. The nursing pillow (specifically the My Brest Friend) was key because it gave him a comfortable place to stretch out on and helped him get to sleep and stay asleep. It’s more comfortable for me as well. Let’s put it this way: it’s an absolute necessity.

FOOD When he woke up, we gave him his lunch of dry whole wheat elbow pasta (I almost put sauce on it, but then promptly decided against it), cut-up buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes and berries. The pasta worked perfectly because by giving him one noodle at a time, it took a long time for him to eat, which is a great thing when all you’re trying to do is kill time and prevent him from realizing that he is done with this whole plane business.

ENTERTAINMENT We made an incredibly stupid rookie mistake and did not bring any toys with us. When I realized that, I panicked and bought a small book at the airport. He ended up really not being interested in it, which was no problem in the end since the flight from NYC to New Orleans only takes 3 hours or less. He was entertained by things like sitting like a big boy in our seats, crawling up and down the aisle and meeting the other passengers. For a longer flight though, whatever you do, DO NOT forget to bring some favorite toys.

EAR PAIN We made another dumb mistake and forgot to bring a second bottle, which we really needed to give him during landing. I’m sure you’ve heard that if a baby breastfeeds or sucks on a bottle during take-off and landing, it helps prevent the pain of pressure in babies’ ears. Towards the end of the flight, he started becoming fussy and we weren’t sure why. Then I realized my ears were killing me, so he must also have pressure in his ears. We desperately asked the flight attendant for some milk to put in his bottle, and, um, THEY DID NOT HAVE ANY! WHAT???? We tried giving him his sippy cup with water in it, but that didn’t do the trick since he wouldn’t sip on it for long. We finally found a solution. We put his water in his bottle and he sucked on that for the remainder of the flight, and that seemed to unplug his ears. Phew! So, learn from our mistake, and always bring at least two bottles!

Overall, the flight went well, and we feel confident that the next one will go more smoothly.

Breakfast in the backseat

One thing that’s pretty hard to come by in a city like New York is a parking spot. And after driving around and around and AROUND and finally finding that beautiful spot, why would you ever actually use the car again because the anxiety of coming back from your errand and having to re-park the car just overwhelms you. In a perfect world, you would just leave your car in the same spot for eternity. However, leaving it in that beautiful spot isn’t an option anyway because of the ultra convenient alternate-side parking rules.

In a city where a parking spot is not exactly a dime a dozen, entire blocks have to be emptied of cars on one side of the street for an hour and a half twice a week (in my hood) so that the most idiotic-looking vehicle can spew some disgusting liquid all over the streets and passersby in the most sorry effort to “clean” the streets. If you don’t move your car, the street sweeper just angrily goes around your car, but of course then the meter maids come through and ticket you, boot you or even have you towed! This hellish situation at times can lead to some interesting scenes because people will do just about anything to avoid having to drive around and around and AROUND at 8am looking for a parking spot. As the amazing short film “Don’t Even Think About Parking Here” demonstrates, many people avoid this by double parking on the other side of the street and waiting 1.5 hours for the street sweeper to come through and the no parking window to end. You can find these people all over the city sitting in their car doing a crossword puzzle, talking on the phone, reading the newspaper or even studying for finals. I have come up with a different solution.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m the one tasked with “moving the car,” as it is called. You may have gathered that this is much easier said than done. Now add a baby into the equation, and voilà! you end up with the ridiculous scenario that Pookie and I experienced today.

I had to move the Zaydemobil (as our friend has so accurately named our 1998 champagne- colored Chrysler hand-me-down from RR’s grandparents) at 8am this morning. How can the street sweeper be so rude as to require me to move the car exactly when Pookie should be sitting down to have his breakfast?! Don’t they know that Buddhababy has to eat?! Anyway, in an attempt to avoid the “Alternate side parking dance.” I decided we would kill some time at Whole Foods. We would park in their (wait, what?) PARKING GARAGE, make some purchases (I mean, come on, we always need something from Whole Foods) in order to get validated parking, re-park the car in roughly the same spot, and have breakfast in the car as we wait for the no parking window to end.

In my opinion, this was just the most absurd way to spend our morning. I must say, however, that as annoying as it all was, Pookie didn’t seem to mind. He enjoyed getting into the shopping cart at Whole Foods and “accidentally” smashing a banana (which I left in some corner of the store – oops!). As for breakfast in the car, he really didn’t seem bothered by that either.

All in all though, it would be nice to not have to deal with this. If we lived in New Orleans or some other small city, as you know I’m pushing for, we would have a driveway or even a garage, and it would be lovely to never have to concern ourselves with the alternate side parking ordeal. We could spend all of our mornings having breakfast in the highchair. Just sayin’.

Read another fun parking story here.

 

Dear Dad – Letter Two

Dear Dad,

For the past 10 months, I have been listening to Elton John almost constantly. I even stumbled upon an album of “Lullaby Renditions of Elton John” and had to buy it for Pookie. When I listen to Elton John, especially “Your Song,” “Levon,” “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “High Flying Bird,” I’m of course filled with thoughts of you. Some of my clearest memories as a child are of us driving around in Kenner, Louisiana singing along to “Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume 1.” Back then I remember really liking the bouncy beat of “Honky Cat,” and I’m pretty sure that my made-up lyrics to “Bennie and the Jets” date back to that time. Of course it’s “Your Song” that really gets me, which is why I chose it for our father-daughter dance at our wedding. Even though, with all of your injuries, you hardly moved at all, everyone said how touching our “dance” was. We looked into each other’s eyes as we sang along, knowing every word, every note, every sound of this perfect love song like the backs of our hands. It was such a beautiful moment that I cherish and so wish we could relive.

“Your Song” was also yours and my mom’s song at your wedding, which of course made me think twice before choosing it. Recycling it felt kind of strange and wrong, like I was stealing it from my parents. And because your marriage was not exactly the most successful of marriages, I wondered, in your superstitious fashion, if this would doom my marriage. But somehow I just couldn’t get around it. Plus, RR and I had our own song, “When You’re Smilin’,'” and our story would of course be different. Dad, I need my family’s story to be different.

Regardless, I’m hoping to foster a love of Elton John (and of course Bob Dylan) in my little munchkin. I know that I feel close to you when I listen to Elton, so I feel like if Pookie gets into Elton, he’ll have some kind of a connection to you.

By the way, I’m missing you so very much right now.

Love,

Tiny

Two more days…

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In two days, we will be in New Orleans! Pookie seems like he’s ready, hanging out in his bath seat in the suitcase! Where else?

Pookie has already been to New Orleans 3 times: when he was 2 months old, when he was 3 months old and when he was 4 months old. We hadn’t intended on him traveling quite so young and quite so much, but with my dad entering the hospital on November 7th, 2017, we decided to spend Thanksgiving there as well as Christmas. Then in January, when it had become clear that my dad was likely never getting out of the hospital, we went back to stay for a while. We didn’t expect my dad to die the day after we got there, but that’s what happened. More about that elsewhere.

Basically, even though Pookie was so young, the second and third times he was in New Orleans, he looked around and seemed to remember and like my Dad’s house, which is where we stay every time we go to New Orleans. He looked around as if to say, “Damn, it’s so nice and spacious.” I swear that’s what he was thinking. So, I’m very curious to see how he reacts when we arrive in New Orleans on Saturday.

Pookie and I will be in New Orleans until just before New Years, and Papa will go back to Brooklyn between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Three and a half weeks without Papa will be tough, but I’m excited to be in NOLA for that long. Pookie’s grandmother and great-grandparents absolutely can’t wait to see him.

Dear Dad – Letter One

Dear Dad,

It has been 10 months since you passed away before my eyes. My first child was four months old almost to the day when you passed. I can’t say I have mastered the art of grieving while caring for a newborn. My grief had to take a backseat. But it’s not just about grief. Our relationship was complicated, and your death has left me with the need to understand it. Before you died, I tended to focus on the negative aspects of our relationship, and then afterwards, I only wanted to focus on the positive. In these letters, I won’t leave anything out. I will include the good, the bad and everything in between.

Love,

Tiny

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A New Sing-Along

 

Pookie and I tried a new sing-along today, and overall, it was a great experience. It was at Flying Squirrel, this great Greenpoint kids store with new and used clothes and toys. We’ve been to several sing-alongs by now, and I think this one by Teacher Eric has been the best so far. Pookie has been overwhelmed by sing-alongs in the past, whether the space was too small and too crowded or the program was too fast-paced. Teacher Eric speaks slowly, doesn’t rush from song to song and actually introduces each song before he sings it. He sings songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “You Are My Sunshine”, as well as some of his own compositions. The babies were captivated! And while Pookie usually faceplants into my lap during frenetic sing-alongs, at this one, he was relaxed and making friends. Then all hell broke loose when he saw Teacher Eric’s phone, had to have it, wasn’t allowed to have it and started flipping out.