No Jacket Required – Pookie Moment of the Week

On Wednesday, Pookie got to play outside for hours without a jacket on. Yes, that’s right. On February 21st, 2018, the temperature got up to 75 degrees in Brooklyn, and this was without a doubt Pookie’s moment of the week. Just look how happy he was.

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It’s a good thing he enjoyed it to the fullest though since it was very short-lived. In fact, poor baby has been cooped up for the last two days because winter has returned with a vengeance.

A Swing-Set with a View – Pookie Moment of the Week

On Wednesday, I needed to go to the West Elm store in DUMBO, so Pookie and I boarded the East River Ferry (or as Pookie calls it, the “boatie”) headed downtown. I think this was the first time he associated the “boaties” that he sees from our window with the ones that we ride in since he was really able to see the boat approach before we got on it.

After 10 minutes, we got off the boat and arrived at West Elm. Who knew that a furniture store could be so toddler-friendly? After I checked out some sleeper sofas, I let Pookie run around (with me right behind him of course), and wow, did he ever run! He absolutely loves couches and beds, so this place was Pookie heaven. This was the most he had ever walked without falling, and he just had a blast.

I had noticed that this West Elm had a Brooklyn Roasting Company in it, so I thought I’d check it out. It wasn’t too cold this day, so I thought the Maple Shay, basically just an iced latte with maple syrup in it, would be right up my alley, and it was! Actually, the Maple Shay made it onto City Guide NYC’s list of best seasonal coffees, and I can see why!

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Then Pookie and I headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park to hit up the swings. I put him in one of those baby buckets (as RR calls them), and started pushing him while facing him as I always do. Then all of a sudden, Pookie started screaming “boatie” and pointing, and I realized how jaded I am. I had my back turned to the most incredible view. This swing-set sits right next to the East River and has a view of all of Lower Manhattan. You can see the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and all of the many “boaties” going up and down the river. So, I thought today I would stand behind him while I push him in his baby bucket.

Thank you, Pookie, for reminding me what an incredible city we live in.

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A New York Mardi Gras Love Story

It has always felt a bit strange to be in New York during Mardi Gras. There’s no build-up to the big day like there is in New Orleans, where 63 parades roll BEFORE Mardi Gras day. So, all of a sudden, you’re going about your life, and you’re like “Woah, it’s Mardi Gras day.” And for a second, you’re like “Yay! Let’s do something!” And then you’re like, “Never mind.”

It’s true that you can find Mardi Gras-themed events in New York, but they’re usually ultra cheesy and offer something like unlimited jambalaya (so cliché!) and diabetes-inducing hurricanes for $50 a person at best. No thank you. (That said, I’ve found a few options that seem worth your time this Mardi Gras in New York, and you can check them out here and here.)

Basically, Mardi Gras in New York is kinda sad because it barely registers on people’s radar, and you walk around like “don’t you know it’s Mardi Gras,” “Where’s your Big Ass Beer,” and “Why are you wearing clothes?” Ok just kidding about that. I’d really prefer that most people remain clothed. Basically, it’s just completely impossible to recreate the vibe of Mardi Gras in New York, so it just ends up being lame.

However (and this is a huge however), one year Mardi Gras in New York was magical. Check it out.

Twelve years ago, Jenéesaisquoi asked me if I wanted to go to a Mardi Gras party at a bar in the West Village. For some reason (well, perhaps for all the reasons stated above), I didn’t feel like it, but I wanted to hang with my girl, so I threw on a “The best girls are southern” t-shirt and indulged her.

The party, if you can call it that, was at the Town Tavern (a frat boy-type bar that no longer exists), and it basically consisted of people drinking beer while wearing Mardi Gras beads. We were with another Louisiana friend, who had brought a king cake, so at least there was that. The same friend won $300 that night for having the most Mardi Gras beads, so there was that too.

But suddenly, the party became a party when I spotted this tall drink of water in the back of the bar and promptly recruited Jenéesaisquoi to help me flirt with him. I had never picked up a guy in a bar before, but I was not messing around and just went for it. Well, me going for it consisted of me going up to him with my wing-woman and offering him a piece of king cake. Of course he had to ask “what’s king cake?” So we explained that it’s a cake that is only available during Mardi Gras that has a plastic baby Jesus inside of it. I’m pretty sure we had RR at “plastic baby Jesus.” I mean, what’s not sexy about that? Twelve years later here we are preparing to move our butts (and our baby’s butt) down to New Orleans for this next stage of our lives.

I love that the only time I tried to pick up a guy in a bar the guy became my husband and baby daddy. I also really love that we met on Mardi Gras day. And I think that it means we were meant to end up in NOLA.

The moral of the story is… Just because Mardi Gras in New York sucks doesn’t mean you should knock it because you never know when a lame ass Mardi Gras party could become your New York Mardi Gras Love Story.

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Va-LENT-ine’s Day Schmalentine’s Day

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I just realized that Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year! What to do? Haha! Just kidding!

I mean, if you really do observe Lent, then I guess you can try any of Simcha Fisher’s hilarious suggestions as to how to “keep the Lent in VaLENTine’s Day” (carob truffles, anyone?), and I guess you could go to some romantic vegetarian restaurant and drink club soda with two straws. Maybe you can even add some apple juice to that sparkling water! Dang!

Well, RR and I plan to share a big ole steak, drink champagne AND wine and finish it all off with a heart-shaped chocolate cake!

What are your plans for Va-LENT-ine’s Day?

Photo credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash.com

New Yorkers Are Lovely – No, Really!

You may remember my post about my frustrating experience of having to re-park the car with Pookie. Well, today could have turned out even more exasperating than that day, but it didn’t thanks to the kindness of New Yorkers.

We have had some issues with our 1998 Chrysler lately. Actually, I need to give the car a little more credit. The problems surprisingly have little to do with the age of the car and everything to do with the fact that we left a light on in the car, which drained the battery. Because we have put off actually taking the car to the shop, every time we have to move the car (roughly twice a week), we have to count on the kindness of strangers to jumpstart our car – because the meter maids (I know – not PC at all) don’t care if your car is on fire. They will still ticket you. Or will they…?

So, today I had to move the car at 8am, and I had no babysitter, so Pookie came along. I packed up his breakfast, and we headed to the car. I thought maybe the car will miraculously start. But that was wishful thinking. I parked Pookie on the sidewalk, got out the jumper cables, opened the hood and put on my most desperate expression. After five minutes, here is what happened.

I saw a meter maid, actually a meter dude, placing tickets on the windshields of cars that no one had moved yet. He clearly had figured out my situation and did not give me a ticket, which is normal since they don’t ticket you if you are present. But then I thought why not ask him for advice. Given that he had already passed, perhaps I wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of getting the car jumped and moving it after all. He had a great idea. He said he would put a fake ticket on my windshield so that no other parking enforcement officer (I found the proper PC title for these folks) would give me a ticket.

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This ticket made our day!

Just as I was thanking him profusely, a car pulled up next to mine. Voilà, more ultra friendly and helpful New Yorkers. They told me that they had seen me standing there with a baby and jumper cables and had driven around the block to come back and help us out with a jump. I thanked them profusely as well and told them that I fortunately didn’t have to move the car after all thanks to the loveliest parking enforcement officer ever.

So, instead of having to get the car jumped, move the car and have breakfast in the backseat until we could get out of the car, I got to head to Starbucks (Shhh… don’t tell anyone) with an already cranky Pookie, and we had breakfast there. Not only was it much more pleasant for both of us (I got to have an Iced Reserve Hazelnut Bianco Latte!), but I also got the warm and fuzzies thinking about just how nice New Yorkers really are.

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Muji – Great for gifts and killing time

My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥/ 5

The other day, Pookie had woken up a bit early from his nap and turned into a cranky mess by 4pm. I needed to find a way to survive the next few hours before bedtime. I also needed to get a birthday gift for “Igor,” so we (I) decided to hit up Muji.

I managed to get Pookie’s jacket and shoes on and stuff him into his 7am Enfant Blanket 212 Evolution and, because the new Muji store opened up two blocks from our apartment, we arrived in no time! The walk over there chilled him out a bit, and by the time we entered, Pookie was a new baby.

I LOVE Muji! And so does Pookie! So, what is it? The name Muji is short for Mujirushi Ryōhin, which means no-brand quality goods in Japanese. They carry everything from skincare products, clothing and snacks to furniture, dishes and stationery. They set themselves apart with their excellent, but simple designs, high quality and reasonable prices.

Did I mention that they carry stationery?? Woah. Among so many other cute and useful office supplies, they have notebooks of all sizes, materials and varieties and pens in all colors of course, but also every tip size you can imagine so that you can find the best one for your handwriting. And you can test them all out on scratch paper, which means you can easily spend all day there!

Pookie and I had only been there for five minutes when “Ellie,” a friend of ours, walked in with her three-year-old. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had decided to spend the witching hour there. Her kiddo (obviously) loves the stationery section and had a blast testing out pens and markers.

I knew I would find Igor the perfect gift in the stationery section. Not only is she one of the most organized people I know, but she also appreciates cute crap as much as I do, so I thought she would enjoy a selection of Muji office supplies. First I picked out a couple pens (one in black and one in sky blue). Then I had to get her a clear tip double ended highlighter in pink because seriously I’ve never seen such a cool highlighter tip. I also chose some fun cat sticky notes, some to-do list sticky notes in two different sizes, and a pad of weekly schedule sticky notes.

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Then Ellie gave me the best tip ever. She pointed out that you can purchase a notebook and decorate it at their stamping station. I obviously had to personalize a notebook for Igor.

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So, I’m not completely happy with the finished result. I got a little nervous because the pressure was on to not mess it up, and meanwhile cranky mess had returned. Pookie wanted to keep ALL of the stamps, which made the process a bit frustrating. At least he never figured out how to open the stamps! Even if it’s not perfect, I think Igor will appreciate the effort!

This place gets 5 hearts for so many reasons: their beautiful and clever products, their use of little or no packaging, their low prices, their stamping station (!!) and their kid-friendliness. Pookie enjoyed the hour spent at Muji, and I feel that in a year or so he will enjoy it even more.

Norman – This Place Wins in All Categories!

My rating: ♥♥♥♥/5

On this holiday Monday, (It’s MLK day!) we had planned to go to a museum, but they were all closed! So we decided to follow a neighbor’s advice and hit up Norman, a Scandinavian restaurant and all-day café in Greenpoint. She had suggested it not only as a great place for food or just a coffee, but also as a huge indoor space for a toddler to run around in on a frigid winter’s day.

I know I say in the title that “this place wins in all categories,” but we haven’t exactly eaten there yet. We plan to do so though, and when we do, I will most certainly update my review. So, for now, this review only speaks to Norman’s coffee and kid friendliness.

We survived the 10-minute walk from our apartment and arrived at Norman. When you live in an 813 square foot (even that is a lie! I swear they count the spaces behind the walls!) apartment with a toddler, a place like this is a breath of fresh air. It is HUGE! And yet just about every seat contained a hipster glued to a Macbook. But that was ok since we were only there to hang out, have a coffee and let Pookie run wild.

The second we arrived and unbundled Pookie, we noticed this funny round bench with a huge cone-like structure in the middle of it. Three little girls were having a blast on this thing, and Pookie said to himself, “I wanna do that too!” So we let him attempt to climb the cone, and while we had mini heart attacks out of fear that he would roll right off of it, he had a great time. He attempted to make friends with the little girls, but they were like, “Go away, Baby!” Poor Pookie!

I stood in line to order coffees for myself and RR and contemplated getting a pastry, which they make in-house. They have your standard croissants and pains au chocolat as well as some fun Scandinavian (I’m assuming) delights such as the Kanelsnurre and the Spandauer with preserves and smoked cream cheese. I ended up just getting RR a latte and myself a mocha. RR loved his latte, which looked lovely in its grey ceramic mug, and while my mocha looked similarly lovely, it wasn’t the best. But I’m a sweet drink-loving snob/ dork, so maybe someone else would have loved it.

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Then we let Pookie explore the place. We took out his Vtech walker (it goes wherever we go these days), and he was off! Let me tell you the hipsters loved that. I love that reluctant smile hipsters give you when they see your (adorable) baby struggle to push his “B-I-N-G-O”-playing walker over their Macbook charging cable.

Despite the so-so mocha and the annoyed hipsters, an extremely fun time was had by all. We can’t wait to go back to try the delicious and beautiful-looking food with or without Pookie. Speaking of which, when I learned that they not only have high chairs, but also a changing table in one of the restrooms, I was sold on this place being as kid-friendly as you can get!

I only subtracted a heart for the mocha, but I’m pretty sure that once we try the food, it will overwhelmingly compensate (it looks SO good!) for the less-than-perfect coffee, and I’ll likely give Norman a perfect score.

Getting Organized: My Resolution for 2018

While I would of course like to eat better and work out more, my main New Years resolution for 2018 is to get organized. Actually, I’m finding that getting organized is already helping me to achieve those other goals as well!

I have a bad habit of getting organized and then rapidly letting things fall apart into chaos. I never can find a way to stay organized. But I’m telling you, this year will be different!

I decided that, while I really enjoy using Google Calendar on my phone and computer, especially for getting on the same page as RR in terms of our schedule, I think I personally need to write things down on good old-fashioned paper as well. First, I created and ordered a physical iPhoto calendar and put it up on our magnetic front door. It looks great (probably due to all of the cute pics of Pookie in it!) and I’m really enjoying putting all of our family obligations and events in there.

But what I’m most excited about is my beautiful new agenda/ planner/ organizer, whatever you want to call it. I must’ve spent a good hour researching planners and finally deciding on which one to get. I thought I would follow Holly’s (from the Work-at-Home Woman) recommendation to get an Erin Condren Life Planner, but I became overwhelmed when I started trying to customize it. It’s also pretty expensive (around $60), so I looked and looked on Amazon until I found my perfect planner. I got the Calendar Year Hard Cover Vision Planner by Bloom, and I am obsessed!!

My main requirement was that there be a weekly spread with columns for each day instead of rows. That way, I can more easily plan my days out from beginning to end. But it has so much more! Each weekly spread also has a “Weekly Goals and Notes” section, a “Weekly Focus” box, an inspirational quote, and a section for “meals, exercise, inspiration, notes, memories, ideas and gratitude.” Also, ahead of each month, there is a vision board and a “Making It Happen” page where you can set the mood for the month and set weekly goals for each coming month, helping you to see the bigger picture.

I rounded out my organization arsenal with a nice set of colored pens, some great agenda stickers by Carpe Diem and some sticky notes with tabs and lines for extra-detailed to-do lists/ notes.

After sitting down for a few minutes to write some goals down, or, better yet, to check them off, I feel amazing. Wow, the satisfaction of being organized is incredible. Let’s keep it going!

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

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.