Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let it snow.................but enough is enough

The blizzard was amazing! It started slowly and then by the next day what we woke up to could only be described as unbelievable. I open the curtains and all I could see was snow. The cars were totally covered and the street, well where was the street? Hugo decided to try and get to work which on his own was ok. I decide that maybe I would go and do washing as the Laundromat was across the street. How hard could that be? So I grabbed our washing and the 2 girls. What was I thinking? The simple task of crossing the road was impossible. The snow was about 2 feet deep which would mean Annika would be up to her waist in snow. We went to the corner and carefully climbed the pile of snow on the corner that was there from the snow they had shovelled from the footpath. You see these piles on every corner at the moment. Let’s just say doing the washing on this day was not a good idea with 2 kids.
The days have gone by and bit by bit the city is trying to get to some normality. These New Yorker’s are tough and they just seem to get things done! The Mayor Bloomberg has been heavily criticised as there are boroughs like Queens and Staten Island that have not seen one ploughed yet. The City resembles some sort of natural disaster as the simple tasks like going to the store or heading out to work have now become very challenging and dangerous. I have been trying to do the best I can I am lucky as both girls are on a break from school. Today Annika need to get her blood test and we had to get down to 58th street. So walking to the subway we had to follow the streets that had the least amount of puddles to walk through. It’s very challenging but we are all doing what we have to. We then decided to go to the Children’s Museum which they love and it seems that the streets heading towards there are a lot worse. Isabel and I had to just walk through puddles that were one foot deep but luckily our boots are waterproof!
I feel sorry for the many stuck at the airports and anyone trying to get out or in to New York.
The snow was cute but I want things to get back to normal, especially for all those that have been really badly affected.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Storm Warning

All week they have been talking about this storm that was due to hit New York City on the Saturday 26th of December. I have to say they seem to be very accurate with the weather predictions which is something I am not used to. I know back home they seem to get it right fifty percent of the time. I have found the accuracy here to be almost perfect so I knew they did mean business when they were making all these blizzard predictions. I sit her at almost 9.00pm local time and I think there is at least one foot of snow outside. It has not stopped since midday but I have to say its been amazing to watch. The wind has been so strong and visibility so bad they they have also warned people to stay off the roads. Even Annika has been coming to our bedroom window to look at it. She keeps saying "snow" and pointing. Its a sight my little Maroubra beach babe has never seen.

Since last night they put in place these contingency plans where they have called back from holidays thousands of sanitation workers to work at clearing up the snow. Its just so impressive how efficient and how well organized this city is. I suppose with a population of over eight million people they need to be. They have also been placing salt everywhere so that walking is some what a bit safer even though its pretty dangerous as I had a fall myself today.
Airlines started calling people yesterday to re book and from about 2.00pm this afternoon all airports are closed. In fact Philadelphia and Boston are closed too.
Tomorrow the Mayor of New York has declared its  a "sled day" at all the major parks in all five boroughs. They are going  to provide free hot chocolate from 10.00am to 3.00pm for everyone as they expect all the kids to hit the park and play in the winter wonderland that has been created by mother nature.The children here are on their one week holiday so its actually great otherwise trying to wheel Annika in a stroller to get to school would be a nightmare.
Lets see what Manhattan look like when we get up.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Was the night before Christmas...........

Christmas eve and just waiting to talk to both my and Hugo's family. Spoke to some friends that called me today and it was so lovely to speak to them. I kept forgetting I was in New York except as I spoke to Peta I kept looking outside and yes I was actually living in New York. I was so excited to tell them how happy I am here. In fact I think we all are and its just brought us all so close as a family.
We all went to the gym this morning as they have an amazing playroom for the kids. I bumped into a German friend I have made from Annika's Pre school and I also spoke to the lovely receptionist I met the other day. It occurred to me that I have started to make friends here which is very exciting. I have to say I have never found it hard to make friends but you start to feel that sense of belonging. I have also made some lovely friends with some of the "Mom's" at Isabel school. They are so friendly and always go out of their way to make me feel welcome and their kids do the same for Isabel. Also play-dates are very much the thing to do here with kids. I am taking two of Isabel's schools friends to the movies on Sunday as you tend to do things out as the apartments are so small. I think that is the thing I love about Manhattan , your always out!
I also have asked around for baby sitters as now that we have settled in Hugo and I want to start to enjoy ourselves with some of the wonderful restaurants and bars around us. We also want to get to some of these Broadway productions. Its just amazing!! For example at the moment there is a production of "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino!!!!!! I am beside myself that I could sit in a theater and watch this academy winning actor and one of my favorite actors ever!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas and this magical city

New York is just breathtaking at the moment. The city streets are just covered with lights.The stores are just full of people doing their last minute shopping. There is this magic in the air that I have never felt before? I would say its the fact that now all the images of Christmas that we grow up with actually feel right? Growing up in Australia is far from a winter wonderland. Isabel keeps commenting on how this feels like a "real Christmas" which is so funny.
Have received baskets of goodies and cookies from both my brother and sister which makes me feel sad that I am not with them as we always have Christmas together however I am hoping next year they will come over here.
My sister and her family are over in Los Angeles as they booked this holiday before we had decided to move over here.Just spoke to her and it seems so strange to be so close yet so far.

Can't wait till Christmas morning as my girls are going to be over the moon. They are really getting spoilt.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Back to the Gym

Joined and started today so really feeling like our lives here are now coming together. I have joined the New York Sports Club and its 2 streets up from our place. It has a playroom for kids which Annika loved today. I feel like a new person after having my first workout in about three months. Also they suggested when the weather gets a bit better that I can actually do my running in Central Park (right next to the gym) and then come back to do weights and collect Annika.
I am amazed that  here they offer childcare at the gym over the weekend too! So really there is no excuse which is great. Also with this weather being so cold its perfect for the kids to have a play while the parents get fit.

Everyone here in New York is into fitness which is great as Hugo and I are so into it also. Also I notice very few overweight people too! I suppose the fact you walk a lot would contribute to that. So now to regain my fitness and work my way to my other goal and that is to one day take part in the New York Marathon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Applying for an EAD

Well I have decided to apply for my EAD which will allow me to work here in the US. I have not decided if I will or not however the opportunity is there and then I will also be able to get a social security card too. Currently myself and the girls don't have one. I am so suprised how much work there is available to do from home. It may be a great option as Annika is in Pre school between the hours of 9am-2pm and that makes it very tricky for jobs.

Anyway will submit my forms and see what happens. Will keep you all posted on that one :)

Manhattan is full of Celebrities

I have to say and people that also know me will agree I love celebrities and especially when I see them out and about. Back home and living in the Eastern Suburbs you do see a few of our Australian ones but it’s very unlikely that I or anyone I know would bump into anyone that is of an International caliber except for course for Miss Peta who works at Qantas and deals with all the VIP’s.
The other day after I had woken a very cranky Annika from her nap to collect her sister from school. I offered her some cake to somehow cheer her up. It’s just unfortunate that when Annika wants to sleep I have to collect Isabel from school so its a constant battle we have which usually results in me trying to bribe her with something. We walked to Isabel school where it’s just chaos in the afternoons. There would have to be hundreds of parents all scrambling to get their kids and to either get into cars or take of down one of the streets to try and get out of the playground which is just crazy. I collected Isabel as per every other day and she was excited as we were going to the starbucks just on the corner. We lined up as per normal and although I didn’t look properly I saw a man with a child behind us. I didn’t think twice as there were lots of kids with their parents except when I looked at this man he seemed so familiar. I looked closer and thought to myself he really looks like Jerry Seinfeld. I kept looking at him and his son and he looked over to me and smiled. He looked at Annika in her new very warm foot muff that she now loves and I think he just thought she was very cute. I heard him speak to a man who had offered his seat so his son could sit with him and that voice was just so distinctive.........yes it was Jerry Seinfeld. I was so excited!! I think I have watched thousands of his episodes. I keep refereeing to his show even now especially when things happen here that can only happen living in New York. So I now officially feel my life is an episode of “Seinfeld”.

The next day I went to collect Isabel from school again and I did look into that infamous  starbucks but of course he was not there. I was standing in the playground to collect Isabel when I noticed a woman who again looked very familiar to me. I looked closely and I will add at the moment with the cold everyone is wearing coats; scarfs etc so it’s hard to actually see what people really look like. I looked closely and yes it was Cynthia Nixon better known as “Miranda” from “Sex and The City”. I honestly think I started to hyperventilate! It would have to be one of my favourite shows as I feel over the years of watching it I could relate to so many of the characters and their issues. She has a son and that obviously attends Isabel’s school so I am assuming I will be seeing her again.

We went to the Central Park zoo on the weekend with Hugo’s Friend Chris and his son whom we have got very friendly with. Chris and his wife Susan are Australian and have been living here for two years. They have been wonderful with all the information and help they have been able to offer. In my conversation with Chris he asked if I was interested to see “Prince” tonight. I was so excited and so was Hugo. We helped him out with tickets he had bought and didn’t need any more. He even offered to look after the girls which was then a “done deal”.It was so nice to be able to go out with Hugo alone like a date again after so many months. We were both very excited to see Prince and to go to the Famous Madison Square Gardens. 
The concert was amazing and so was Prince and I might add he looks and dances the same! Prince got to the end of his concert and he was about to do his last song when he called up onto the stage a few of his “friends’ that were in the Audience. These were people like Whoopi Goldberg, Naomi Campbell, Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx, Spike Lee, Nene (Housewife of Atlanta) and many more that I didn’t know but apparently are well known US sports people. I realised that only in New York could you have that many celebrities present on one given night. Obviously in  New York it’s so normal. It will never be normal to me and I will continue to get excited and get on my  Facebook  page and write on it. I love New York!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our first official Snow Fall

This morning we woke up to snow covered cars and our street had a thin layer of snow also. Hugo and I were so excited to see the look on Isabel’s face when she woke up to see it. We had a flurry the other day (light snow fall) and she was excited but an actual snow dump is what she has been dying to see. Her face was priceless as she opened the curtain. It seems that all the kids here in the Upper West Side were just as excited as Isabel was. We got to school and the kids were all rugged up and playing with the snow and let me add it was -6 degrees all day. As I walked through the streets today and I was just in awe of this magical place called Manhattan. I actually laughed to myself to think that were I come from we would be walking around in flip-flops (thongs) and probably heading down towards the beach. I love being here for this and I especially love the fact that we are well on our way to a white Christmas.
Today was also Annika’s first day at preschool. I felt the usual anxiety you do when you are about to offload such precious cargo. I don’t know if it’s just me but my mind has the most awful ideas when I am about to start a new thing with any child of mine. I get these visions of the most awful scenarios that just make me feel even more anxious. I know that it’s the old mother guilt setting in but I know both of us need the time out. Well in a nutshell all went well and she loved it. I was going to only leave her one hour but I left her two. I actually stopped in a star bucks and had a coffee which felt so strange. Normally I am always walking around these streets trying to steer the stroller one handed and with the other one sipping my double tall non fat latte.
All that know me also know I love my exercise especially my running. After having Isabel I really got into it and thanks to my trainer Mandi who helped me maintain my fitness for so many years. I am very proud to say I trained all through the pregnancy with Annika and actually ran till I was 32 weeks. I even trained the day beforenI gave birth and was back into it 8 weeks after having Annika. I also know that having suffered with post natal depression that exercise is beneficial not only physically but mentally for me. To me it’s a drug and I have been having severe withdrawals due to this move and not being able to do anything as I had the girls 24/7. I went to inspect a gym today because it’s the only way its going to work with Annika. I would much rather train outdoor like I do back in Sydney however with a child and with this cold weather its impossible so a gym it must be. They have great childcare and its looks amazing. I am going to check out a few more and my aim is to be fit and fabulous here in New York! I was going to train and attempt the marathon next year but it seems you need to qualify and do a certain amount of fun runs which I don’t know I will make let alone be fit enough for. However if not in 2011 I will definitely then try for 2012.

I am so looking forward to Annika totally settling in to Pre-school then I can start doing all the museums. My dream has always been to visit the Guggenheim and I cannot believe I live in New York.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Isabel and her social life (better than mine)

Well Isabel has not even been to school for 2 days and she has been invited to two parties!! Yes I had a note in her bag from one Mom (Mum) and then an email from another. Seems she is very much “The New Kid in Town” and she loves it. I was not sure if all the attention was going to freak her out but to the contrary she loves it!!
I love, love, love that everyone one here is so much into emails, internet etc. I am a technological junkie and find that communicating via email is the best form of contact most of the time. I find that having kids and so much going on that you can only really focus on things when the time is right. With email you can choose that time. I can even email her teacher!! Rather than trying to juggle a toddler having a melt down while I try and discuss things. I can email Alanna (Isabel’s teacher) when it suits me and she can respond accordingly.

Isabel went to Hannah’s party on Saturday which was a movie then back to her apartment for Pizza and cake (staples here for their parties). I went to pick her up and she was so excited to tell me they had taken her in a cab (another first). We caught the subway home and again the excitement of the modes of transport here in NYC for my beautiful daughter.
On Sunday she had Aliza's gymnastic party at the Chelsea piers. It was an amazing place with all the state of the art equipment. It was great to mix with all the Mom’s and Dad’s. So funny as they had wine and the real Aussie in me came out I think? I was the only one that had more than one glass as a matter of fact it was 4. The parents I met where such a mixing pot of nationalities which is so typical on NYC. I just love it!!! I think this is such a wonderful experience for all of us especially the girls.

Schools, Pre schools and Nannies in Manhattan

Its 4 weeks today since I arrived and even thought it has gone so fast I cannot believe what we have accomplished also. As I type this I now have Isabel attending school and Annika due to start a preschool tomorrow.
Isabel started school on Wednesday and I am still trying to get my head around the size of the school. Isabel attended St Aidans at Maroubra which was a lovely catholic school back home with a total of about 300 students. She is now attending PS87 which has well over one thousand kids!!!
In her year alone there is six grade two’s. We were zoned for this school and its approximately ½ a mile from our home. The zoning rules are pretty much the same except here the areas are much smaller as the population is a lot larger. The big difference here is the problem with overcrowding.  We knew this before we came over so when we looked for apartments we made sure we were in the “right” areas. Isabel loves the school and we all have been treated like VIP’s. I just find the Americans so welcoming and it’s just been amazing having parents both email and come up to me to welcome and offer any assistance.
Unfortunately the preschool situation is not so easy they range from $7000-$14000 a year for just two days a week. There is a lot of pressure amongst parents here in the Upper west side to get the right start for your child as ultimately it will determine everything?? These preschool also help the chances of the children to get into the right private schools and that is a major concern to parents as there is just not enought spaces.. I have read some stories about interviews and the selection process and the stress the parents and children go to. I  knew that was not for me as I would hate to put Annika through that. I have been to see a few and I have decided to go with a little Nursery school which to us Aussie’s is more like a family day care. Janet is lovely and she is based from her lovely apartment just next to Central Park. As space is an issue here proximity to a playground is a big selling point as they can then get the kids out for a play. Although we are in winter now they still get them out as long as it’s over say 5 degrees otherwise they go to one of the many museums catering for kids here in this city. I have booked Annika in for two days a week from 9.00am till 2.00pm so finally I will get a chance to do some of the things I have been dying to do.