Friday, August 7, 2015

Around Here

New York City is an amazing place. There are so many things to do; it seems impossible to fit it all in as a resident, nevermind a visitor. Because of this, we made a list with the kids of everything we want to do in NYC. We plan to do at least one thing every weekend. Last weekend we started with a trip to Bay Ridge.

Mason really loves Owl's Head park and the pier in Bay Ridge. So, we went and had a picnic, and walked the pier (which has some really nice views of lower Manhattan and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge).

We aren't sure what's in store yet for this weekend, but we'll definitely be going over the list tomorrow for some ideas!

View of the Verrazano Narrows bridge from the 69th street pier in Bay Ridge,
Lower Manhattan

In other news, it's crazy how much gear we got rid of in the move (like a second car),but had to get once we got here and actually started living day-to-day life. For instance, back in Danbury we got rid of Ethan's strollers. We drove everywhere and walked very rarely, so they just weren't needed. We attempted to live without them here, but quickly realized it wasn't going to happen; we walk a lot. And sometimes pretty far. It's hard on those little 4 year old legs, so we caved and bought not one but two strollers: one larger jogging stroller for long walks or jogs, and a smaller umbrella stroller for the subways and small stores.

Another buy was rain gear. We never needed it before--maybe just an umbrella would do the trick. Now, after actually walking in the rain, it was realized we really needed some rain boots, jackets, and a decent umbrella.

I bought myself a backpack for the first time in about 20 years. Now I know why so many people seemed to have them on when it was obvious they weren't going to class--it's because it basically acts as your car trunk and you can cram everything in it and be hands-free.

Our most recent purchase was scooters. Mason and Hannah noticed everywhere we went, every kid seemed to have a scooter. They started to feel left out, especially when some of their new friends would meet us at the park riding one. I used to see all the kids on them here when we visited, but never thought much of it other than it was something fun to ride. Now I realize it's actually a necessity if you want to get somewhere quickly or have your kids not complain about how tired they are. They have been riding them today for the first time and have been pretty good with them.

It's definitely been an adjustment for all of us. From our place of residence down to rain gear, everything has changed. It's all so different, yet it fits like a glove. And I'm so proud of the kids. This was a tough move. Danbury was all they knew. Connecticut was their home that they loved. They still miss their old house and backyard (I miss the backyard too, but mostly for my sanity). But here they are and they are diving right in and adjusting to this new urban life.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our new life

I remember before we made this move, I used to think about how different our life might be. I thought we'd definitely have more fun, feel closer together, feel less bored, get healthier, be happier, and on and on and on. I was so sure of it too. But then as we got closer to the move and it became more real, I'd start to tell myself maybe life wouldn't be all that different. Maybe we wouldn't do all those things or feel all those things.Maybe I was having the grass is greener mentality.

Well, now we have made the move. It's almost been a whole month and it is now just starting to feel like home. We still have a ways to go but that feeling is starting to grow. We're getting more comfortable and settling into a routine, which helps. And, life has changed a whole hell of a lot -- in very good ways and in all of the ways I had hoped for.

We are out and about more often
I swear, there is a buzz in the air with this city. I've never been more motivated to get out and do things. We get out way more often than we ever did in Danbury (or anywhere, actually). This might have something to do with the lack of a backyard too. We go to farmers markets, concerts, and do all the touristy stuff. We practically live at Prospect Park and the playgrounds. We have picnics and haunt the splash pads. We walk everywhere and are so busy that Ethan has even started to nap again!

We're more social
We've barely been here a month and have made a few friends already. I posted a message in the local listserv looking for other stay-at-home-parents that would like to get together and make some new connections. Meet-ups were set and that was that. Now as a shy and introverted person this was pretty easy. It was so hard finding friends back in Danbury. We would never see the same people twice at the parks, and there were no real local groups that were busy enough and even then people would think I was a weirdo creeper for wanting to meet new people. Here it seemed normal. We've even met others who have moved from the suburbs with their families, so it's nice to have that to relate to.

We're healthier
It's a no-brainer, really. We walk everywhere; to the dentist, the pediatrician, the grocery store, or just to get out of the apartment. I've already lost a lot of that annoying weight that just hung around for a while. I'm not doing anything but walking. It's really nice to just walk out of the front door and go. To finally be able to do it after all these years is just awesome.

We have more time
Before the move I'd dream about having more free time because of not having a yard to tend to or a house to maintain. And now, we really do. After 7 years of seemingly endless mowing, pruning, raking, and home repairs, we have nothing to do and it feels AMAZING. I don't have to worry about the outside of our apartment or even any repairs inside for that matter. What a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders (and our bank account). We have more time to have fun and relax. You can't beat that.

We're happier
Of course, we still have our shitty days and what not, but overall we are all much happier here. I think it may have a lot to do with how Jason and I have changed. Kids sense stressed-out unhappy parents, and we were very unhappy in our home back in Danbury. After the move it has really dawned on me just how miserable we were there. What a waste of years. This move has pushed a reset button on our family and we're closer together and just happier. Finally, all of this feels normal.

I still can't believe it's been a month. It seems a lifetime ago and yesterday all at once. I'm so happy to be raising our kids here. They don't know how lucky they are, really. Everything is in their backyard; at their fingertips. It's all here. We're here!

City kids! They're definitely getting more comfortable here.

At the park--or our backyard.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The new normal

Yesterday, after our visit to Greenwood Cemetery, I was lounging in the bedroom with the window open. Then I smelled the unmistakable deliciousness of beef on the grill. Someone nearby was probably having a little barbecue in their backyard. Out of nowhere I was taken back to all the barbecues in our old backyard, and I got really sad.

I cried, actually. Just a bit of homesickness started to creep in. I actually felt I was there for a minute; the kids jumping like mad in their bounce house and Jason and I relaxing on the patio waiting to stuff our faces. The familiar sounds and smells of that house... that backyard... they hit me sometimes. I do miss it--only because it was home. Home is where you feel safe, secure, and comfortable. I don't feel that here yet. I know it will come. I'm anxiously awaiting it.

Mason tells me he loves it here now--even better than our old house. Hannah is still 50/50. But she'll get there. We're all getting there.

I'm feeling much better today, and a lot of the reason is Jason is back to work. Vacation is officially over and it's back to normal life now. I think we all needed it. We were starting to get on each others' nerves and feel out of sorts because we had no routine. Now that some normalcy is upon us we can kind of pick up where we left off before the move. This is what we need to have this place start to feel like home.

This morning Jason actually saw us and had time for breakfast and coffee before he left for work. It was really nice. The kids didn't know what to make of it for a second! Then he was out the door and the kids watched him until he disappeared around the corner for the subway. After some catch-up with some cleaning I took the kids to the park, came home for lunch, and put Ethan down for his nap. Just a normal day. This is exactly what we had hoped for before we made this move, this is how we envisioned it. So far, so (very) good.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Settling in

We've been in Brooklyn for 11 days now, and we're actually starting to settle into a routine. The kids know where we are when we're walking around the neighborhood: they know the local grocery store and pharmacy, our favorite pizza place (The Sicilian), our favorite playground in the park, and how to get home. Here are some photos of our new place after we finally unpacked everything:

Dining area

Living room

Formal living room

Master bedroom

Ethan and Mason's room

Hannah's room

The other day Hannah and I went for a walk in the rain. No particular reason; Hannah suggested it after dinner because she thought it would be fun. So we did. Just me and her. It was so fun, yet so simple. This just sums up why I love living here and this kind of lifestyle. We can stop and smell the roses. We can explore and bond. Yes--there is a difference between walking around as a family and driving. The change is incredible. I never want to go back to the driving lifestyle ever again.

Our walk in the rain

She loved it (and so did I)!

I love living here so much. It feels great to be a part of a real neighborhood again. I love falling asleep to the distant hum of the highway and waking up to the sounds of the city. The kids are starting to see the positives too. Every day they wake up and ask "where can we go today?" Wherever you want kids! Because it's all right here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We're Here!

We've been in Brooklyn since Saturday night. We closed on our house on Monday and it is strange to think that it's not ours anymore. These past few days have been a blur--actually the past couple of months have been. I still feel like I'm living in a dream; still can't believe we are here.

Unpacking is a huge pain in the ass. Here is what the living room looked like on Sunday morning:

And here is what it looked like yesterday. Obviously still lots to do but I will post some before and after photos when we're done.

I am completely in love with the apartment. I love the pre-war architecture with 9 foot ceilings and massive windows. I love the hardwood floors too. We get a ton of natural light. We have plenty of space, too, which is something I wasn't expecting.

The kids are already registered for school (and it was so easy! Even with an IEP!), pediatrician lined-up, all the typical stuff that comes with moving. The kids seem to be doing well. Ethan is totally oblivious--it's like he doesn't even realize we've moved. Hannah is pretty okay with everything too, but Mason is having a little more difficulty. We are always communicating with him about it so he knows he can always come to us with anything he's feeling or having difficulty with. All we can do is give him lots of love and time.

Our routine was totally obliterated, so we are all pretty out of whack and trying to find a normal here. We get up earlier (ugh) and go to bed later. We're tired but on a high. I do miss home sometimes. It's really something to understand we will never go back there again. There's definitely some sadness there. What's strange is sometimes I still find myself thinking we're back in our old home when I'm sitting on the sofa in the living room, since it's set up pretty much the same way, and then I have to do a double take and I say "Oh wow. We're really here!?

It's weird, life is still pretty much the same even though we live a totally different lifestyle now. We walk more (I think I've already lost some weight), eat better food, sleep better at night (all the walking?) but that's about it. It's still pretty much life as usual, but in the city.

What a crazy whirlwind of ups and downs these past few months, I am so glad it's over. It was a difficult, stressful time full of uncertainty and questioning our decision. But, we made it. We were scared, but we did it. Now, time to get back to normal life again. Finally.

Skinny scoping out his new home

Our walk home from the park.

Love this neighborhood!

On Prospect Park Southwest

Prospect t Park. Our new backyard

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Saying goodbye is never easy, and this week has been full of them. First, to our beloved pediatrician who has seen our children for 7 years; she has known us since we only had one kid and Mason was just a little one-year old. Then our favorite dentist, and just yesterday I had to let the school know that our kids would not be attending next year.

That was weird. And then they brought home their summer reading packets for next year: entering grades 1 and 3 they said. Yeah, but not here.

It makes it more real, and I felt a tinge of sadness seeing those folders. I guess more for them than me. Hannah doesn't have any close friends yet, but Mason--who is just starting the world of peers-are-cooler-than-your-parents--definitely has them. He says he will miss them and is sad to leave them. They're sad he's leaving too. So, we are setting up one last playdate with them next week. And then it's goodbye too.

 It's goodbye to our neighbors (especially our realtor/babysitter/family friend Mary), our street, the lake, our weekly grocery store, our favorite beach, and favorite hiking spot. The list seems endless. And though I'm so happy, excited, and hopeful about this move and our future, I'm also sad to say goodbye and give it to someone else.

And then it's the other goodbyes like our trusty garbage guys and the oil company we've gotten comfortable with. Our super polite mailman and UPS guy.

I forgot how much moving sucks. I hate goodbyes, but I love and crave change. I loathe shattered routines but adore adventure. I guess you can't have everything. I hate leaving "home", but I know over time this won't be home anymore. I tell the kids the same, but all that will help is actually getting there, and the passage of time. Learning every curve and turn of the streets, every crack in the sidewalk, the corner bodega guy,our neighbors, the way the light falls through the windows at certain times of the day and year--all these things help. We'll have the new pediatrician and dentist, and we'll learn to trust them. But this all takes time.

Though all these goodbyes suck, we're going to be saying a lot of hellos in the near future, too. And who knows who they'll be to. What new friends will we make? What will be our new favorite haunts? Again, only time can answer this. But it's definitely worth the wait.

Monday, June 1, 2015

21 more days

A lot has happened in the almost two weeks since I last posted. The new buyer bought the inspections from the old buyer, and he didn't even ask us for any fixes. We already had the appraisal too, so now it's full steam ahead to closing, which is scheduled for June 22nd. We also sold my car. I'm surprised how much I don't miss it.

One huge loose end that needed to be tied was securing an apartment, which we finally did on Saturday! I can't even go into all the detail involved with apartment hunting in NYC--especially in hot areas of Brooklyn. I think it was actually worse than selling this house (so far, anyway). I think I aged myself two years during this process. We didn't get the apartment across from the park, or one we really loved on 1st street in Park Slope. All thanks to "multiple applications" being submitted, and then the landlord gets to pick the cream of the crop (and probably the tenant without 3 kids and 2 cats). So, that was frustrating. We then lost out on another one due to hesitating--something we now know to never, ever do.

But, we do have an apartment now, and we love it. It's a huge, beautiful 3 bedroom in the neighborhood we fell in love with--Windsor Terrace. It's located on the 2nd floor of a private house. The zoned school is awesome. The neighborhood is just gorgeous. It's the first true three bedroom we looked at, and what's funny is that we came to NYC and got more space; it's bigger than our house. The only downside is there is no on-site laundry, so we are joining a laundry service. They come and pick up your laundry and drop it off--all neatly folded. Yeah, I might really like this.

One of my sister's and her fiance is helping us move, which is great. I called around and moving companies would cost us about $2000 and then some. Instead, we booked a rental truck. I'm so thankful for their help! Moving day is June 20th.

I still can't believe we are really doing this now. I do get little twinges of total and utter panic now and then, thrown in with a sort of grieving for this house--our home--of 7 years. It's really something to go from homeowner back to renting again. There is a feeling of security in homeownership and that brings a sense of comfort. With renting the future seems more uncertain, But, that can be a great thing too. Sometimes it's good to not know what will be around the next corner.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The roller coaster hell of selling your home

This whole selling process has been nothing but an emotional roller coaster. It's good news, then bad news, good news, more bad news. I just want it to end at this point. Part of me actually looks forward to Mondays now so more developments will happen, which in turn means the closer to ending this nightmare people call selling their home.

Some of the biggest bad news we received was after an inspection, it was discovered we have an abandoned oil tank buried under our front lawn. We were shocked. We had no idea it was there, nor had I ever heard of underground oil tanks up until that point. Apparently it was very common for people who were heating their homes with oil to have the tanks underground instead of in the basement like today. People who decided to upgrade to above ground oil tanks literally just left the old ones under the ground--some even still full of oil. We were freaking out learning all of this because if that underground oil tank in our front lawn was still full of oil, it could very possibly be leaking. Of course I then googled horror stories where EPA was then involved and costs went up to $100,000 to even $300,000 to clean up everything. We immediately called a environmental company who came over last week to assess and give us a quote. Luckily, the tank is full of sand--which is what is supposed to be done if the owner decides to leave it in the ground instead of excavating it. That was a huge relief, but we are still getting it pulled out this week to the tune of $2000. That's if it hadn't leaked though. If it leaked (and the guy said we'd be able to tell right away after it's pulled out just by looking at the soil) then we are going to have to pay a lot more. Fingers crossed it's fine.

Now, some good news. Soon after I wrote my last post, we got another--better--offer. More solid and with better financing. Of course, we went with the second offer. This guy wants a quick closing, and so do we. Hopefully this sale goes through, and soon, because I want off of this roller coaster.

Now for some hopeful news, we have an apartment we're really interested in that's available June 15th, which would be perfect for us. Jason has an appointment to see it on Thursday after work. I want this apartment so bad; two large bedrooms, two bathrooms (great for 5 people!), a washer and dryer(!!), it's right across the street from Prospect Park and with views from the windows, it's zoned for a good school, and with all this it's well below our budget. I'm trying to not get my hopes up, but yeah, I suck at that.

One good thing that has come from selling our house is that it is making it easier for me to want to leave it. I thought I'd have a really hard time with the whole nostalgia/memories thing, but all this headache is making me realize how much I want to leave this house behind and move on. It already doesn't feel like home to me anymore, and I think that has to do with all of these unexpected issues that came up (oil tank being one of them) and having to get kicked out of our house all of the time and it being picked apart. It doesn't feel like a safe place to me now. The kids have also started expressing excitement about moving--even Mason. In fact, this past weekend they all wanted to take a drive to the city. Mason brings up wanting to visit more often; he used to never want to go. So, that's a relief.

I have a feeling that by the end of this week we will have a lot accomplished and will have a more clear picture on what's going on with everything (closing date, apartment, etc.). At least I hope. All of these unknowns we're juggling up in the air is driving me crazy.  This has to end someday, right?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An Offer

Lately I feel I'm living in a dream state. Things are going so fast. So many showings. So much cleaning. Our lives have been in a constant state of upheaval. So many dinners out since we can't go home with strangers touring it. Lots of time spent in the car. All of it feels so... strange. And again, as if I'm living in a dream.

What makes it even more unreal, is that our little house of 7 years was on the market for just 11 days when we got an offer. We were hoping, or course, that the house would sell quick, but really didn't think it would happen so fast. And for close to asking price. We will actually break even if this sale goes though--which is more than we though would happen just a few short months ago.

The offer came in on Thursday, at almost $20,000 below asking. Too low. We countered with $5000 below asking. They countered with just $4000 above what they originally offered. We said no way, still much too low. The came back with just $10,000 below asking price. We let them sweat it out a bit as we went over the numbers. It was just a few hours and I guess the prospective buyers were getting very worried--they really want this house. Their realtor asked ours if she had heard from us yet. She told them no. Somehow in the conversation the fact that we had a few showings lined-up for the weekend was brought up and suddenly the buyers came up to our original counter offer.

We actually have an offer. And so soon. I still can't believe it. We are supposed to sign the paperwork today, and our lawyers are rounded up tomorrow (funny enough, we are using the same lawyer that we had when we closed on this very house). Inspection and appraisal should be next week (I'm already stressing about those things), and fingers crossed their financials are in order and we can seal this deal and move to the city by July 1st.

So, there's where we are now. Just sitting and waiting for this deal to go through, and hoping it does.

Friday, May 1, 2015

This is really happening

These past few days have been a whirlwind. The house was put on the market on Monday, but there were no calls for any showings that night, or Tuesday, or Wednesday... but on Thursday we finally got our first showing at 7 PM.

Now it's like the dam broke, because the calls started coming in. We had a showing scheduled earlier today that cancelled, but there is one tonight at 7, tomorrow, and another on Sunday. It is a total pain in the ass keeping this place show-ready with three kids and dealing with entitled buyers and realtors, but I just throw myself into it and think about why we're doing this.

It feels so surreal. I still can't believe our home of 7 years is really, finally, officially on the market. Wow. This is real. It's happening. I'm excited, nervous, you name it.

Fingers crossed that someone will make an offer soon--maybe even this weekend. Fingers crossed that it will be at full ask or close to it.
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