Manhattan as Mumbai

I’ve been to Mumbai, India a few times, Ray’s birthplace. Although it’s fairly easy to picture the natural beauty Mumbai once was when Ray was growing up, it is so different now.

Mumbai is overcrowded with people, bikes and cars. The streets are chaotic with pedestrian overflow from the sidewalk and the occasional farm animal all cramming for space. The housing market is severely overpriced as there is no where to build but up. When you walk around the city you see the huge divide between rich and poor. There is essentially no middle class. You either have a car and driver or you sleep on the street. It’s not uncommon to see entire families living on a street corner with a multi-million dollar condo across the street.

Recently I’ve noticed Manhattan is becoming similar. No, I haven’t seen any farm animals walking down the sidewalk, but the divide between rich and poor is becoming more obvious. With Governor Cuomo declaring a state of emergency for the NYC subway system, people with means can find other ways to get around. Those who rely on the subway are stuck with no other options. As more people drive into Manhattan the traffic is snarled all the time. And more people are disobeying the traffic laws.

A few carrots are being thrown to at least attempt to address some of the housing issues in the city. Many new residential buildings set aside units for low-income families. But the chances of being able to purchase or rent a unit are slim. One building with 55 low-income units had 88,000 applicants.

Middle class people are leaving NYC because they don’t want to have to work so hard just to pay the rent.  Life is getting tougher in this city and people want to have a better quality of life.

Who will be left in Manhattan? The very rich and the very poor.

Noise Pollution

Usually I have to leave NYC to realize how loud it is here. But lately I’ve been sensitive to the noise. It’s not just the sirens that seem to go on endlessly, it’s the car alarms, mockingbirds that sing car alarm songs, cars honking, bicyclists whistle blowing, and construction noise.

I changed my running route slightly so I don’t have to pass a bottleneck of construction, cars and bicyclists. Instead, I run around a McDonald’s. My end goal is Prospect Park where it’s supposed to be calm and serene in nature. Lately its been noisy there too. Summer brings out a lot more bicyclists and joggers as well as many park landscaping trucks. And during the morning rush hour cars are allowed to drive through the west side of the park. But this is the best I’ve got right now.

We were recently in Montreal, a calm and clean city. I heard two sirens during the four days we were there. I didn’t notice other noise pollution. When we got back to Brooklyn it took me a day to tune out the non-stop sirens.

Country life is calling. At least for a little while.

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Freelancing

I’m working two contract jobs right now and I’ve also done some writing pro bono. I guess I could call myself a freelancer. It’s not a term that’s frequently used in my social work field. But that’s essentially what I’m doing. The pros and cons are fairly obvious. You can pretty much work the hours that are convenient for you, but you don’t have colleagues for support. You can take off days when the kids are home from school, but you have no guaranteed income each month.

But for me, one of the hardest parts of freelancing is the virtual part. I find it very hard to communicate with people who are trying to maintain a professional virtual relationship with me. I’ve worked several freelance jobs where the person I’m working for doesn’t respond to e-mails. I’ve asked questions numerous times and have received no replies. I’ve tried to set up phone calls to get answers and communicate expectations. I’ve given up on a few jobs after getting absolutely no support or direction from the boss.  At first I thought maybe it was the boss I was working with, someone who was likely very overwhelmed. And without seeing me every few days, I could easily be forgotten. But its happened several times now. Is it me? Does anyone else know what I’m talking about?

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Composting

A few weeks ago our neighborhood became part of an expanding compost pilot program here in NYC. At first I was wary. We have a disposal and put a lot of food in there. I didn’t think we were throwing out a ton. Plus I wasn’t sure where we’d keep the compost in between the weekly curbside collections.

But after the first week, I was pleasantly surprised about not only how easy its been to compost, but how little trash we have left. It felt especially good to compost watermelon rind instead of throwing it away.

I’ve always felt guilty about the amount of tissues I use. Turns out those tissues can be composted right along with dairy and meat. Who knew?

If you haven’t tried composting, I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t have the luxury of curbside pickup, it’s a good habit to get into.

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Parenting from the bench

JP is almost six. Really, in less than two months he will be six-years-old already. That means I’ve spent a lot of time on the playground over the past several years. Like everyone else, we started off with the baby swing when JP was around six months old. And gradually he moved from the little playground to the big one. Now we call him monkey as he flies across the rings and slides down the fire pole.

When JP was younger I stood by him at the playground, ready to break a fall or redirect him. These days I highly enjoy what I call “parenting from the bench.” I sit on the bench at the playground, preferably talking to my mom friends while JP and his friends expend their energy on the playground. This parenting style works very well for us. I’m not there anymore to break a fall. But that means JP learns how to navigate and problem solve on his own, without me hovering over him. I know this is the way most of us grew up playing.

Recently we were on Governor’s Island where JP was climbing on cool new playground equipment while Ray and I sat on a bench and watched him. At one point JP was hanging on a rope and deciding if he should let go or not. He decided to let go and when he hit the wood chips he fell on his behind. This was a very slow and low fall and he jumped up and got right back on the equipment. He didn’t even look my way. Then a bystander asked aloud “where is his mother?” That really irked me. She’s right here, parenting from the bench.

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The Mental Load

If you somehow missed this article that has been circling social media, you must read it NOW. After reading and laughing aloud, I realized why I always ask Ray to make dinner more often when we discuss ways he could do more at home (more on that in a bit).

To be fair, Ray would LOVE to be home more. While a friend from Cleveland was here visiting he told Ray that since he works from home he can easily pop into his son’s school or have lunch with him. Ray was envious and I know it’s because we can both easily picture Ray in this role.

I certainly carry the mental load and that’s why I’m stressed out even if I have nothing I really need to get done on a particular day. I know I multi-task, get things done quickly and have multiple projects going on at the same time. They all get done and then there is more. Meanwhile I’m basically running the household. It’s strange to think that Ray and I truly have a traditional marriage. But I know he appreciates what I do, he never asks for more and I like taking care of my family.

Back to making dinner. I like cooking. I like trying new recipes. I don’t mind going to the grocery store. So why do I always choose making dinner as a task I want to pass on to Ray? It’s because of the MENTAL LOAD. Think about it. In order to make dinner you need to figure out what to make (for me that involves browsing Pinterest for ideas), schedule time in your day to get the groceries, figure out when to start making dinner based on when everyone will be home to eat and LASTLY actually make the dinner. That’s why sometimes it seems like it can take all day just to make dinner. If you aim to cook at least five days a week like I do, then that’s a lot of mental prep.

Maybe sometime in the not so distant future Ray and I will reverse roles. Ray will work from home and I will work full time in an  office. I know things won’t be done at home the exact same way I do them now. But I’m ready to be more flexible so we can have a better work life balance. And maybe Ray can carry more of the mental load.

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This is June

If you’ve been hanging out with me lately you’ve heard me talk about this pattern. We don’t have spring here in NYC anymore. Last year I put my sweaters away Memorial Day weekend. Right now, almost one week into June and our heat is still on for the nights that go down into the low 50s.

We’ve had a very wet and cool spring. With the exception of three HOT days about two weeks ago, its mostly been raining and in the low 60s. I know summer is just a few weeks away and it WILL get warmer. It’s just not normal to go directly from heat to air conditioning. Remember when we used to open the windows in spring?

Luckily for my sisters, they are enjoying at least the third nice spring since I’ve been paying attention. They told me they haven’t had a major snowstorm during the past two winters either.

So next time you make fun of the terrible weather up north, remember that spring looks a whole lot nicer in Madison, Wisconsin than in New York City.

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The Momma Drama (sponsored)

THE MOMMA DRAMA …The popular MOMentous show from San Francisco is
making its New York City debut! Come join us in Brooklyn for a much needed
Mom’s Night Out. Think of it as a playdate for mommas…with no kids…and the only
sippy cups in sight are filled with wine! Mingle with other mommas in a gorgeous,
historic, artsy space in the hip momma hood of Fort Greene…where you will enter
“The Womb Room” and be treated to a showing of our wonderful play
~ STRETCHMARKS~ A hilarious and heartfelt piece, written by four moms,
about growing into motherhood, performed by 4 of our fabulous mommas.

The Deets: Saturday, July 22nd 7pm
South Oxford Space (The Great Room)
138 S. Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tickets are $20

 Mother Brooklyn will see you there!

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School Supplies (in May)

 

We still have more than a month left of school here in NYC. Still, some people are already thinking about next school year. I was excited to receive a letter in JP’s school bag not only with the school supply list for next year but with information on how to buy the supplies from ONE place.

I have fond memories of school supply shopping when I was a child. I loved the smell of the new crayon boxes and notebooks. I thought it would be especially fun this year to take both Inez and JP school supply shopping for the first time. JP was less than delighted. He has regularly declared his annoyance with going to any kind of store. And it seems to go without fail that when school supply shopping, you always end up leaving the store without a few items from your school supply list. So I was more than happy to pay online for a school supply kit with everything in it that JP needs for next year AND it will be delivered directly to his classroom. The prices are the same as if I bought the supplies in the store (it’s a Staples company that has this program). So it’s a double win.

Now that we are ready for school in September, we just have to figure out what to do for the month of August!

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Nellie’s Free Range Eggs (Sponsored)

This super cute chicken likely inspired JP to make me a homemade mother’s day breakfast all by himself.

I’ve bought Nellie’s brand eggs many times in the past. I like that the eggs are free range and the price point is affordable compared to other brands of free range eggs.

Easy to prepare, inexpensive and nutrient dense, eggs are one of the most versatile and nutritious meal or snack options around. Plus, they’re a great first food to get kids into the kitchen and interested in cooking at an early age.

JP has slept with the stuffed chicken in his bed for the past week. On Sunday morning we didn’t hear him wake up but he announced that he made me a soup for breakfast. Luckily, he didn’t turn on the stove, his “soup” consisted of two ingredients in a pot. Now that JP feels comfortable in the kitchen, we will be using our eggs to make something savory like an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

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