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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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.

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.

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, 2016, 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.

My favorite Metairie tradition

My favorite Metairie tradition

Every time I go home to New Orleans, we have to make at least one stop at Morning Call for beignets and café au lait. It’s a family tradition! By the way, are my grandparents cute or what? While tourists usually hit up Café du Monde in the French Quarter, Morning Call is in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans (and my hometown). Metairie is known for its strip malls, chain stores and baffling accent. But Morning Call is one of the few cool, authentic spots in the ‘burb. It beats Café du Monde any time.

Now that Morning Call has opened up a location in City Park though, we tend to go there more often, especially if we have a little more time on our hands. It’s located right next to the amazing Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden and NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), and you can sit outside with your perfect café au lait and pillowy beignets and soak up the gorgeosity (one of my dad’s made-up words) of the surrounding oak trees with their Spanish moss and picturesque ponds filled with ducks, swans and egrets.

In fact, we love this place so much that RR and I had our post-wedding brunch here before it opened up to the public. With mimosas, live music, and obviously beignets and café au lait, it most certainly was a hit!12118649_10156096245195153_5380651101535379835_n