Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Believe It or Not

I used to love that show, Ripley's Believe It or Not. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up when the theme song began to play. Remember the episode about fairies? Scared the crap out of me. I never looked at fireflies the same way again.

But I digress. I've whined a lot about real estate lately, so I feel an apology is in order. This is, after all, a parenting blog, right? What about the child you parent, you may ask. Have you no stories to relate about that adorable creature?

Of course I do. I guess I've just let the joy of motherhood be eclipsed by the frustration of our current living situation. One should never do that. (Can you see my finger wagging?)

So, why not share some amazing moments I've had with my daughter lately?

I grew bored of being in her room yesterday, so I asked her if she wanted to chase a kitty cat with me. She looked at me funny and crawled over to her books. I figured she just didn't feel like torturing the cats (for a change), but when I walked over to her, I found that she had pulled out three books about cats and laid them out for me.

Stella hates a soiled diaper -- always has. She also suffers from terrible diaper rash. So, on a whim, I decided to get a potty and give it a whirl. I certainly had no intentions of "potty training" at 14 months, as I believe we American parents are too obsessed with training our offspring in general. Well, Stella LOVES her potty. She's pooped on it three times, and even crawled up to it one day and pointed at it before she had a BM. Ah...only a mother feels proud of excrement, I suppose.

Stella's all-time favorite part of our week is story time at the library. We are so fortunate to have three FREE story times at nearby branch, and we go to each one. (This may not last, though, due to budget cuts, so I urge you to go to http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/ and donate!) Additionally, we go to two sing-alongs at a nearby cafe, so our week is booked with the kind of events that make young, childless hipsters regurgitate their Americanos. Stella is the belle of the ball each and every time. She gets to into every song, raising the roof with her hands, squealing, bouncing, and looking around at any lethargic toddlers/parents as if there's something wrong with them. Today, she crawled off my lap while the woman was reading a book, found her own book, and began "reading" it very loudly, a sweet sing-songy lilt to her voice. I guess like most Hollywood starlets, she's decided it's time to direct.

In general, I think I've come to the conclusion that my daughter is incredibly bright. I know, most moms don't think such things, but it's just a gut feeling I have. In fact, the things that make her an independent, sensitive, observant and gregarious toddler were probably the same things that made her an highly touchy infant with 1,001 sleep issues. So, moms of "difficult" babies, take heart! By the time your little one is 14 months old, she may have you (and anyone in a 1-mile radius) in stitches the entire day.

Not to say there aren't difficulties. Being the trailblazer she is, Stella is constantly tempted by open doorways, and never wants to stay in a room for more than ten minutes. This is frustrating when I'm visiting with someone and I can't have a conversation for following my kid around to make sure she isn't sticking her tongue in power outlets.

And, although sleep is MUCH better, it can still be an issue. She still fights her naps, still wants to nurse to sleep, and still wakes up at least once at night. But the trend, as the Brooklyn Baby Daddy in all his financial wisdom would say, is on the upswing. It just ain't perfect, yet.

And finally, when this kid is teething, she's not shy about letting you know. I recently read about a mom who had no clue her kid was teething, save for some extra saliva. Yeah. Not so much here. Stella is short-tempered and cranky, throwing tantrums every time anything doesn't go her way and biting on everything she can find (but her preference is always for nipples).


OK. That was a pretty good Stella update. But as part of my "Believe It or Not" theme, I want to leave you with a game I play called The Real Estate Cha Cha. (Those loyal readers who've read my blog for a long time, all two of you, might recall this game. Forgive me.)

This is a game most frustrated New Yorkers play, especially if we've lived here over a decade and come from a place with a much lower cost of living.

There are two ways to play. The first way is to think about how much you can spend on real estate in New York City. For Dave and me, it's around $300,000.

Here's what we can afford in Brooklyn (I'm sticking with safe neighborhoods, because there's lots of stuff available in scary places, but I've paid my dues in that department):
Two bedrooms in Bay Ridge (a nice, working-class neighborhood a REALLY far ride from the city on the subway), 900 square feet, no dishwasher, no parking, no outdoor space. The pictures look fine. Small but fine. $299K. That's actually a really good deal for NYC.

Same money in Louisville, KY (near where the BBM grew up):
Three bedroom home in the heart of Louisville, 3,443 square feet, a yard, and so many amenities that I'm just going to cut and paste from the Century 21 website: "Two car gar is on the main level & is a real plus for a walk-out. Great rm flows into the formal dining rm creating a perfect entertaining possibility. Just wait until you see the brand new just installed granite kit counter tops! These counter tops add that 1 touch of WOW you are looking for. Custom window treatments in the MBR & kit + 1 « wood blinds, fully equipped kit, berber carpeting, some hdwd flooring, whirlpool type tub & the list goes on. The formal great rm fireplace is gas. The lower level fireplace has a gas starter & still burns real logs. The amenities of this property make it easy to want to call it home. There is a deck, wired for surround sound, subtle exterior lighting & a fin lower level. Theater area, wet bar, space for game table& area for pool table plus a ballet room w/mirrors, wood flooring & double bars. Location, design & more give you every reason to see this. Be sure to stop at the club house for a look at the tennis courts and Olympic sized pool." As my friend Sara O'Bryan (who lives quite happily in Louisville) would say, le sigh.

Now, I know what you New Yorkers are saying. You wouldn't make enough money after cost-of-living adjustments to afford that there! That might be true. So then we play game number two. Where we plug in our Kentucky numbers! I think a safe amount for Kentucky might be $150,000, half of our New York budget. What do we get?

New York:
A studio apartment again in Bay Ridge, but this section is much further from the subway. It looks modern, which is nice, but it's literally one room with no amenities -- parking, dishwasher or otherwise. Listed at $149,000. Again, a steal in NYC.

A four bedroom home in a slightly less cool neighborhood of Louisville (still safe and near everything, though). 2,350 square feet, yard, parking, fire place, etc. $149,900.

So, you get the point.

And before my New York friends pull the whole, "Yeah, but you'd be in KENTUCKY" nonsense, I urge you to check out other cities in other states before you assume that New York is the only place where things happen. I thought that, too, at one point. Until I realized that I keep having to move further and further away from the things I want to do here, in crappier and crappier apartments, so what's the point? I'd rather live in a smaller city where I can actually be in the thick of things in a nice place. And as I've mentioned before, so many cool people have had to move out of NYC due to the outrageous cost of living that other cities only benefit from the influx of our refugees.

As the songs says, If I can make it here, I'll make it anywhere. I made it here. Now I want to test that theory.

But, again, I digress. I promise the next entry will be real estate free! I can't make the same guarantee about baby poop, though.


nbg said...

First, Stella is a gem! She will do great things and I can't wait to witness all these amazingly adorable things she's in to!

Second, I was astounded by the "Real Estate Game". And, you already know my opinion on the matter. :))))))))

Holly said...

Congrats on all of Stella's accomplishments!

The real estate game is indeed quite depressing when you're playing in New York. Sounds like Louisville might not be a bad option. What about job prospects there?

Kimberly said...

It sounds as though a move is in your future...

otherone said...

ruv you.

Anne Stesney said...

Ah...only a mother feels proud of excrement, I suppose."

So very, very true! And only another mother of a toddler would be both interested and impressed by Stella's potty accomplishments. The books I've read said the number one sign that a kid is ready is when she wants to be clean, and it sounds like Stella's there.

Walt is absolutely no where near ready. He can sit in a soiled diaper forever if we let him.
It's gonna be a while before we buy a potty!