Loving this city where I’m raising my kids.

Ok, so last month I wrote about some of the challenges of raising kids in this city I love. Lest you get too bad of an impression – here is the flip side. We really do love this city where we are raising our kids. In the movies NYC is all Culture! Museums! Broadway every day! Restaurants! – well the restaurant one is pretty true. But the rest, those things are here, but in many ways living here is like living anywhere else. We go to work and school and are exhausted and kids are hard. But…

Yesterday, for instance, we went in to the city to the Bryant Park Holiday Market. (It’s just easier to go early if we know what we are buying and avoid the crowded-est of crowds.) We bought our stuff and ate some donuts and skipped the carousel and started walking to Grand Central to see their holiday train exhibit, which we visit weekly until it goes away, and have to pass the New York Public Library. Simon asked if this is the Ghostbuster’s Library. It is! And the Rose Reading Room has just been reopened after years of cleaning, so we can VISIT THE ROOM from the movie. On the way in we see a big exhibit room opened – it turns out it was International Games Day. There are tables upon tables of board games, but also video games on a huge projector and a virtual reality station. So we went, and played. And then there were free snacks. After that fun, we went to the reading room looked around and then to Grand Central. We love how we just stumble upon these kinds of things when walking around. There are so many cool things I would never even think to look for. Like the Bastille Day street fair.

In more planned events, we do plan and make use of all the city has to offer, like going to the Empire State Building at 8am. Or the Hall of Science often. And the Met, and Central Park. We just go to the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Macy’s Santa each year, like, no big deal.

I love the freedom and street smarts that my kids have that I never did. I trust them to stop at the corners – yes Mom, I know this is terrifying to watch. They can navigate their common environments, and know which subway stops are home. And which trains or busses take us to our favorite places.

I love that we can walk to school and that most of Simon’s friends are within walking distance. This isn’t a huge deal now, but once he’s big enough to be out on his own, they can go to the park and home and it will be great. I love that I live in a neighborhood where I know people. In the last post I talked about the difficulties of getting places that take a lot of time. But the flip side is my grocery store, my church, my knitting group, my babywearing group are all walk able within 10 minutes. This city is vast and tiny at the same time.

We get the choice, do we want the small neighborhood or the city as our playground. And I’ve been enjoying so much, I’m not taking so many pictures these days – oops.

For more NYC look at the adventures tag or Around Town category.

Halloween 2016

In true Sunnyside fashion we had another great Halloween. The boys wanted to be Ghostbusters. (Again) This year the twist was they were the Ghostbusters – so I made a new suit for Simon and Rob made a new Pack for Caleb. Rob was the Marshmallow man. Fun Fact: The fleece hat was made from Caleb’s costume two years ago, that wasn’t intentional really, just the only white fleece I had on hand. I was a slimer monster with a slime hat from the Drugstore and reuse of my favorite dress from the childhood dress up box. I took no pictures (!!!) I know, who am I? But Rob got some great video. So enjoy!

We made it three streets this year. Caleb got tired and just sat in the middle of the sidewalk to eat his candy. Simon decided he was ok waiting in the line (instead of hitting up more houses) for a scary balloon skeleton at the end of the night. Because my neighborhood is awesome and there is a family who hires balloon artists or does some other over the top awesome every year.

See all of our Halloween costumes here: 2010, 2011 (Marshmallow Man), 2012 (Tardis), 2013 (Ninja Turtle), 2014 (Ghostbusters), 2015 (Mario Bros.)

Raising kids in this city I love

last week at the Met
last week at the Met

Last week I took Simon and a friend to the Met on one of the days they were out of school. A comment on Instagram was how thinking about trips to cool places in the city makes her want to move here stat! I’m all for more of my friends moving close to ME! While I feel we do take advantage of what the city has to offer – there are some challenges to living here that are unique to city living. Not harder necessarily, but different.

Simon's first trip to the Met - 3 weeks old.
Simon’s first trip to the Met – 3 weeks old.

Because of the dissertation and my data collection in Indiana I’ve spent more cumulative time there this year since I moved to NYC in 2005. In various combinations of myself alone and with one or both kids I’ve spent six weeks this year in the state of my birth. Then my mom, sister and niece (who is about to turn one) spent a week here in the spring and one at the end of the summer.

On the roof before getting a pass to cut the McQueen line.
On the roof before getting a pass to cut the McQueen line.

I asked my sister, and her list was pretty similar to mine. These are things I have dealt with on a daily basis since becoming a parent, so I don’t really think about it all that much. But the time in the mid-west brought it into more focus. So here is the short version.

  • It’s hard not having a car because a) you have to carry everything you might need in a day and b) kids touch/lick things and public transit leaves a lot of questionable surfaces in reach of tiny fingers (and tongues; oh your kids don’t lick everything? you’re lucky)
  • It’s loud.
  • Not a lot of space/no yard to lock them outside in.

The longer version with details and specific scenarios if you want to read another 900 words on the topic:

We don’t have a car. We don’t want a car either and the public transit here is great. But for the last several months we have had a weekly appointment in the city that usually involves me taking both kids on the train after school (when they are fried) to the appointment and then home again during rush hour. The appointment is about 8 miles away. It’s a 40-minute trip. Those aspects I can deal with, but add tired cranky kids and a bazillion people and sometimes it would be so easy to throw the kids in the car and drive somewhere.

-We don’t have a car. This means that if we are going somewhere everything we take with us needs to fit in a bag to carry or in the stroller. In the neighborhood this isn’t a big deal usually. We are usually going to the park so can load up the stroller, or to a restaurant that is close enough to home that a spare diaper in my bag and a baby carrier are fine. But then there are those trips into the city for an appointment or errand (I shop online A LOT) and the bigger trips where if we are going in it’s to make a day of it. We can’t just throw things in the trunk of the car and it’s in the parking lot.

Questions I ask myself almost every time I leave the apartment:

How many diapers? Do I really need that change of clothes? (did I ever blog about that time Simon had a blowout at the Natural History Museum and there was basically no where to buy an outfit anywhere nearby for less than $75 so we walked seemingly FOREVER to get to a Gap…) Can they share a water bottle or does everybody need there own? Is it worth the fight to make them share? What about snacks, bring or buy? One or two toys MAX and if you lose it too bad so don’t bring special things. Will this all fit in my purse or is it a backpack day?

It’s a delicate balance. Do we need the stroller? If we take the big one are we going to be near a subway stop with an elevator? Will the small one be worth the extra thing – sometimes it’s nice just to hold stuff if we are shopping. If we need to take a bus the big stroller is out because if doesn’t fold easily. Is having to unpack and fold the umbrella worth it, or just pack less? How tired are the kids going to get, I’ll take one carrier always but does Rob need one too? If it’s a backpack day do I plan to put kid on front or kid on back and backpack on front?

Now that the boys are bigger I mostly bring one carrier, a water bottle, and sometimes a change of underwear and pants for Caleb if I remember. I wear a kid and carry a kid a lot. We spend a lot of time sitting on sidewalks next to buildings “resting” also known as waiting out the kid on a walking strike. Some of these things come up with all kids no matter where you are, but some days man, it would be nice to be able to pick them up and get to a car instead of knowing I have an hour more of this.

-We could take a Cab or an Uber or whatnot. But then there is the car seat issue. I’m not taking the seats with me. It is legal to ride in a cab without a carseat, but then there is a risk benefit analysis of how far/what roads/how fast/how emergent is this. Sometimes the answer is yes. Most times it is not.

– We walk. A lot. Kids get tired. Parents get tired. The problem with walking somewhere is you then have to walk back. If there is a stroller that can’t be folded and only a bus, then walking still has to happen.

– Everything is an hour away. Even things that are geographically close. It’s nearly impossible to go home between things if you have two things in one day unless one or both are local.

– Even if you have a car you have to plan on circling for parking. And finding parking. And moving your car for alternate side parking. People I know who have a car and make it work mostly have one parent who stays home and thus drives a lot. Note* driving the car means you may spend a lot of time sitting in your car after a kid falls asleep because you aren’t necessarily parked close to where you live.

We have a pretty small living space. Everything we own fits into our 710 square feet. My sister’s house in Indiana isn’t all that much bigger 800ish I think. But. We don’t have a yard or a deck, or attic or garage or shed storage. This makes holding onto kid stuff challenging. We use our second bathtub (how great is it that we have a 2 bath) as storage. There is a game here called “store my stuff at other people’s homes”. For example, when Simon outgrew his Jumperoo I then passed it around to friends who could use it until I needed it again. My maternity wardrobe went through seven pregnancies before I let it all go (Caleb was 7). So while we all have too much stuff, it’s really obvious in a small space and my kids don’t really have large scale toys, we get/keep things that can come apart to store in a box.

-We don’t have a yard. I can’t send them outside alone. If we need to go outside, I have to go with them to a park. We have a fabulous park, but it does mean there is no leaving laundry going or putting something in the oven like I could do if we were in our yard.

-It’s loud. There are sirens, and trains, and honking, and people, and noise. My kids are used to it and luckily if they are going to sleep will sleep through most any noise. But a kid who is used to quiet – it’s tough.

Despite all of this, I don’t want to leave. So I guess this means a blog post about all of the awesomeness about raising kids in this city I love is due too.

#MicroblogMondays: When pets die

Microblog_MondaysIt’s been a week now. Last Monday, Mr. Theodore Monkey left this world.

We told Simon the bunny was sick on Saturday and  that he would die soon. There were tears and some ugly cries. We talked about what it meant to die and how the bunny was very old (almost 11) and he was hurt.

Monday morning Rob took him in to the vet and bunny had a fractured back, which is why he’d stopped moving his legs. After school Simon asked if the Vet gave the bunny the shot to make him better or the one to put him to sleep. I told him it was the shot to make him sleep so that when he died it didn’t hurt. (So many things around sleep and shots, but I think we’ve talked about it enough that Simon isn’t going to be scared or sleep or shots – or not more than the usual). There was more crying and over the past week he’s talked about it less.

Through this I realized a few things. 1) We totally didn’t think through the somewhat offhand way we told Simon his pet way DYING. 2) A year of Sunday school means Simon has talked about death and heaven and has the terms we can use with him. 3) Kids talk about death a lot so while this was sad because it was HIS PET, it wasn’t the most out there concept and probably the best way to first experience this kind of grief.

Mr. Theodore Monkey 2006-2016

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too. And this weeks HERE.

First week jitters, second week fun.

Kindergarten. It started. School starts comparatively late here so today is day 8 of Kindergarten including the first half-day. Over the past month or so my facebook and instagram feeds have been full of pictures of smiling children with a chalkboard or sign stating “first day of X grade xx-xx-2016”. In our house the first day of Kindergarten looked something like this:

img_6749Simon was NOT excited. He wasn’t scared really, but this year he is at a new school with new kids. His best friend is at a different school (we live in opposite directions from the old daycare/pre-K) and has been missing his Pre-K teacher all summer. When I asked him to look up he did then asked “was that a sad picuture of me?” “Good, I want you to send that to Miss C (pre-K teacher) so she can know I miss her.” Ok then.

img_6750The first day was a half day. Rob worked from home so we could drop off and pick up together. WE were excited for the first day. Simon was…tired. He didn’t even want celebratory ice cream, although we did get it (and he ate it). As soon as we got home Rob said “let’s lay down for a few minutes” and five minutes later a nap was happening.

img_6751We had an appointment in the afternoon and I even got a nap transfer in for another 30 minutes or so.

img_6752So sad for me was that Simon had no interest in shopping for school supplies. I loved shopping for school supplies. But really this is ok because the school lists don’t go home until the first day of school so it’s a mad house – we had to go to THREE stores to get a 24 pack of crayons because everywhere was sold out.

What we’ve learned so far is that Kindergarten is exhausting! He only wanted to lay on me and then I was afraid to move for awhile. Caleb was having and unsupervised ball – lots of crashing. Mostly he was playing with his castle and figures…and crashing cars down the stairs.

img_6790Also, Kindergarten homework is no joke. Simon is in the TAG program (talented & gifted) which is kind of a big deal in the city. They start with first grade math on day one. I’m amazed at how fast he is learning his math facts. Every night he has a math worksheet, sight word practice, and reading log (with parents 🙂 ). Then some nights there is writing (this is probably going to become daily). And then special class homework sometimes – like the art page to color Mona Lisa over the week and bring back next class. Once we get through the argument that “Yes, you do have to do this. And yes, it will be every night,” is goes pretty fast, maybe 20 minutes if no whining. Last night he did the whole math page with no help other than me telling him which problems to do. #proud

img_6800 img_6801We are in week two now and the jitters are gone. I’ve been waiting to share until we were smooth sailing. Now he runs in and stands in his class line all smiles and blowing kisses.

simon_blurAnd we are moving in to learning the more important things, like “You CAN have a chocolate milk with your lunch from home, but YOU DO have to ASK to go through the line.” Poor Simon every day has come home saying he wants school lunch because you only get chocolate milk if you go through the line – but he doesn’t want to eat school lunch. Today we got that figured out.

*Note we did actually get some cute pictures on the good camera, but when I will get those downloaded and edited is anyone’s guess. Phone pictures to the rescue.