Wednesday, January 4, 2017

City Mouse, Country Mouse

We did it! After several years of deliberating, debating, stressing, worrying, researching and discussion followed by a sudden decision and then six months of very intense planning, we managed an out-of-state move. It's no small feat to uproot an entire family based on the hunch that you might be making things very, very good for one person in your family and man does it feel good to realize that the move worked for all four of you. 

While I was working on a list of the most noticeable things that have changed in my life in the past six months (and three days) since we moved, I dug a few paragraphs out of a draft email I'd written to myself a couple years ago when we were trying to figure out whether we wanted to move at all. At the time, I'd thought maybe I'd turn it into a blog but ultimately we got stuck in indecision for several years. Then we made up our minds very quickly It was a very long and painful process that I am so glad is behind us, and it was interesting enough to reread my words from back then (because so much of it has been realized) that I thought I'd post them here.


Since around the time Bee was an infant, which is also right around the time Johnny and I bought an apartment in the Harlem section of Manhattan, we have been talking about moving out of the city.

I am a native of a (back then) pretty tough part of Queens. I grew up in the city and was obsessed with spending every minute I could in Manhattan. I started commuting by subway to the Upper East Side for school by the time I was 11; transferring off the 7 train at Queensboro Plaza to catch the R train (before it became the N train) going over the 59th Street bridge was a thrill every single day until I graduated high school. As a teenager, I would have sold my soul to live in New York, NY. My high school boyfriend and I spent hours and hours riding the subway and getting off at a random station, walking around and riding all the way back. Because I lived in Queens, I got made fun of by my more sophisticated friends from Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side. They teased me, asking repeatedly if there were cows where I was from. I didn't think it was funny. Instead I vowed to become sophisticated like them: dye my hair black, go to CBGB at night, learn to smoke cigarettes and find a way to go to cast parties hosted by kids whose parents were away in the Hamptons, sketchy clubs that didn't check the IDs of clearly underage girls and, the ultimate at the time, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

By the time I was seventeen I had left home and was living on East 25th Street. For me, nothing was more exciting than hanging out downtown, especially the Lower East Side and anywhere there was a club night.  During the day I loved waiting on line at the bagel store on early weekend mornings, wandering around the busy streets, walking and walking for miles; meeting friends for dinner or drinks at a restaurant, bar or club as night fell. I loved pretending I was a tourist in my own city when friends visited and even more than that I loved walking down any street any time of night or day like I owned it. Unsurprisingly, then, 4 am on any given night might find me in the meat packing district (which was a very scary place back then), Chelsea, the East Village.

And now I want to be a hippie. To be clear, I don't mean that I want to start wearing long, flowy skirts and patchouli oil. I don't even mean that I want to be a goth version of hippie. Ren Faires and poet shirts are not my thing. I might mean that I want to grow my armpit hair and stop dyeing my hair black -- someday. I am very aware that I get sucked into trends and that I feel pressure to conform in some ways and when I'm outside of a major metropolitan area that all goes away. I don't quite mean that I want to wear any old thing or stop all personal grooming, but I do mean that while most of me knows I don't need that Lululemon outfit to go running, I sometimes buy it anyway. I want to remove myself from the pressure I often feel to spend crazy amounts of money on myself on crap I definitely do not need or could get for less. I definitely mean that I want to stop throwing money in the garbage. Periodically there are articles that make their way around social media that talk about how New York City is the most expensive place to live in the whole country. We are a single income family whose single-income-r works in a non-profit, so it seems outright stupid of us to spend another second here. I want to focus more on our impact on the environment. I want to compost, grow some of my own food, recycle more. Have (rescue) chickens! I want to have a lawn or a yard (or both) and a tree to sit under. A hammock. A little more space. Shop at and work in a co-op. Send my kids to public school. Walk, run and bike in greenery. Hike on my own property. Get involved in the town governance. Not be able to hear neighbors, especially while sitting in our own living room. Not get whistled at, harassed, talked to and otherwise bothered with every single step I take. I want a deck so we can sit outside with dinner, a drink or a book. I want to be able to open windows and have cross ventilation. I want to not have to choose between Teeny's walker and Bee's scooter because our 750-square-foot apartment doesn't have room for both. I want more than one bathroom for the four of us and our two cats. I want an attached garage so we don't have to bundle the kids to walk ten feet.

I know that many of these things can happen right here in the city. No one is twisting my arm to overspend on clothing. I shop at some thrift stores already. I could compost using a worm bin; I know several people who do. There are community gardens we could have a plot in. There are two food co-ops (far from us, but they're there). Of course we re-use and recycle, but frequently I find myself forgetting my travel mug and then getting a giant plastic cup of iced coffee and just tossing it when it's done instead of bringing it home to recycle it properly. It's easy to get complacent here. 

We were recently in Vermont for a long and beautiful weekend. It's a long drive but it's totally worth it. And the 300 miles each way gave Johnny and me lots of opportunity to talk about this, our favorite topic. It's been a topic for a long time because while the list of things I want and don't want keeps growing, there are no easy answers. We are as deadlocked on this as we were when we discussed it four years ago. Back then we said we probably had about ten years in our apartment before we would truly outgrow it and the girls would need their own rooms. We have tried to accelerate the process time and time again, but something always gets in our way and puts us back on that ten year plan. 

There are four big things that are keeping us here:

1) Work. My job is based in New York. While I'm told that I could eventually work remotely part of the time, I do need to be in the city or near enough to the city to get there at least some of the time. This would not be an issue if we could afford to buy a second home and I used our current apartment as a pied-a-terre a couple nights a week, but I don't think we can afford that. I am too old for couch surfing and I can't think of anyone who would want me to bunk with them that often. I love my job and I don't want to leave it, so it plays a very big role in this decision making process.

2) Education. Teeny's needs are currently best met here in the city. As readers of this blog know, we just committed to two years at a fantastic preschool that is equipped to do all that we need it to and more. She is in good hands there. The school is in Manhattan, and more importantly if we left our school district we would lose our CPSE administrator, and we don't want to do that. So that's two years at least before we could make any major changes and even then it's not clear to me that her needs will be pet in some small town's public education system. Also, now that we have Teeny in a school for two years, our attention turns to Bee, who is about to start her last year of preschool herself. This year we will go through the process of getting her tested for G&T and the specialized public schools like Hunter - where I went - and Anderson, and of course we will go through the very hair-raisingly competitive application process for private schools. Presumably we will either find ourselves in an amazing public school we can't afford to leave or in an amazing private school whose generous (and necessary) financial aid package makes it difficult for us to pass up, and she'll be set for at least eight more years. During which time it will be Teeny's turn again, at which point we will have to decide based on her abilities then whether she needs to stay in the city or if she will do well elsewhere.
3) Fear. We are both New York City natives (have I said that enough?) who always thought we would live here forever. Johnny and I have lived here or in other big American or European cities all our lives, and we are aware that moving away means loss of convenience, loss of easy access to restaurants, movies, theater, museums, nightlife. We rarely if ever avail ourselves of any of this and when we do it's with a great deal of planning to arrange childcare, finances, other people's schedules, etc., so we don't believe this would really cramp our style, but we are aware that it will be a really big change regardless.

4) More fear. While we are co-op owners, we have never owned our own house. We pay an exorbitant amount of money in monthly maintenance fees but in exchange we have a super, a porter, three doormen, a co-op board and a building management company all there to address our needs and take care of issues (usually) in a timely way. To say we are not handy is an understatement. We can barely hang a painting ourselves. Luckily for us we have family members who are homeowners and other family members who are not only handy but have made lifelong careers from working with their hands, so we can lean on them to ask questions. But last year we backed out of a purchase because I got cold feet after the home inspection. I felt like I couldn't handle the financial and emotional burden of having to learn how to assess repairs, find contractors and set aside the money to replace, say, a boiler or a roof at a moment's notice. 

There are four things we think we know we do/don't want that will influence our decision:
1) Town. We don't want suburbs. Originally I thought we did. At first, it made sense to buy a house in a bedroom community of New York City. We ruled Long Island and New Jersey out just because they are Long Island and New Jersey (with loving apologies to my LI and NJ friends and family) and looked in Westchester. Ultimately we decided against that too, leaning more in favor of something more small-town-ish and less of an extension of New York City.  The suburbs we visited felt very white, very conformist and very upper class. I don't claim to know everything about what's out there; I know we are making generalizations. Still after 40+ years of being the weird kid even here, I want to be somewhere I will not feel judged looking the way I do, with my tattoos and somewhat unconventional style and so on. I want to be comfortable being vegan (and be able to get something to eat when I'm in town if I get hungry). We want there to be at least somewhat diverse population with an LGBTQ community and unconventional families familiar with special needs, stay-at-home dads, adoption and the like. So, progressive. A focus on the arts and the earth. Small-ish population but not too small as we think rural would be too different and too isolating for us. And near-ish to a city like New York or Boston or even Providence, if possible.

2) Northeast. Nearly all of our family is in the northeast so we aren't prepared to move out of this general area. We want to be able to get back on short notice if it's ever necessary and when it's not we still want to be within a day's drive of grandparents, great-aunts and -uncles, cousins and family friends. And we love New England. Our last five or more vacations have been in Massachusetts and we keep finding ourselves there for weekends, family visits and so on. We love the Cape, we love the Boston area and we love Western Mass. We even spent a week in Central Mass last winter just because it was close to everything else! I grew up spending a lot of time in the Berkshires and love it there so so so much, and as a student and young professional I lived in the Cambridge area for six years, which I also love. We also feel totally at home in Vermont and have been there quite a few times, but think Massachusetts (or possibly southern Vermont) might be a better choice if only because it's closer to New York City.
3) aaaaand that's as far as I got.

But here we are, six months and three days into living in the country. Everyone keeps saying "What a big change!" when I tell them we moved from New York City. In some ways it feels that way and in some ways it doesn't. In some ways it's like we've always been here. And it's all good.

Our Miss Teeny is now five. Her birthday worried me because it was just a few weeks after the start of school and she didn't know anyone, but it was better than I ever could have hoped. We chose not to have a big party for a bunch of kids we didn't know. Instead we just had a big playdate. We invited her new pals and their families who have embraced us like old friends. Everyone came. We did an art project, ate cake, and had a little parade up and down our street with her in her new little electric car. I imagined her like Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth, reading the road signs, depositing her coins into the cup, squinting at a map and embarking on a wild and fantastic adventure. And she's really done exactly that. 

Milo had no idea what he would find in Dictionopolis. He hadn't even really intended to go there. He just closed his eyes, poked a finger at his map and then went wherever it told him. While our move involved a ton of research, the truth was that we had little better sense than Milo did of what we would find when we moved out of New York City.

Six months in, so far, so good.  A friend of mine with a special needs child who two years before us also relocated to another state in pursuit of many of the same things we wanted reached out to me and said hey, doesn't it feel good? You uprooted the lives of four people in the hopes that you would be making a better life for your daughter. You did it! And doesn't that feel good? Yep. It sure does.

In some ways it feels like we have always been here. Apart from a few friends, I don't miss New York City at all. I love the quiet. The clean air. The trees. The fall foliage! The wintery landscape. The snow and ice. I love sitting on the deck or hanging out with our chickens. I love putting work into the house and I even love daydreaming about putting work into the house. Even though right now we can't afford the big projects we know we want someday, even the little ones are fun. 

The girls are settled. It's almost like they've always been here. Teeny's first IEP meeting came and went and I am very pleased with her services. She is already adored by her new school as much as she was by her old school. She has PT, aquatherapy, music, hippotherapy, adaptive dance and OT all outside of school and we are working on getting her additional speech as well. She's a busy kid. Bee loves school. She takes music and art outside of school, and once a week she and the 12 year old boy from next door work on Lego projects or play the Pokémon card game or do drawings together. She gets me up every morning that I am home so we can walk or bike or walk or read or just talk before everyone else gets up. And every Saturday morning she comes with me into Boston to Teeny's adaptive dance class. We drop her off, walk to the Starbucks a few blocks away, she drinks as much as she can of a decadent tall soy decaf mochaccino with only half the sweetener and she reads me a chapter of her book. She, too, is a busy kid. She has more or less stopped mentioning her friends from her old school (except, "everyone eats meat here. How come there are no vegetarians or vegans like there were in New York?" and instead asks for play dates with her new schoolmates.

Sunday night is movie night for us and that means we gather in the basement with hoodies and blankets and beanbag chairs and frozen vegan pizzas and we watch something as a family. We instituted this at the start of the school year and so far we've watched a variety of movies including Mary Poppins, the Addams Family, and every single movie or short movie featuring the Minions.

Johnny is settled. He has his routines, which are kicked up into high gear when I am on the road. He has little time to himself during the day because there are always errands to be run, chicken shit to clean, wood to chop, service providers to call or let into the house, kids to run to classes and therapies. He loves the local library's enormous collection of books and movies. His new favorite person is the guy who runs the local beer and wine shop. This guy calls him when one of his favorite IPAs are in, and one of his recent runs to grab a four-pack of 90 minute Dogfish or Ballast Point Sculpin or some other beer with some incredibly ironic name and label (my favorite is Raging Bitch), he also worked up the courage to go into the Italian restaurant next door and ask if they would make vegan pizzas if we provided the vegan cheese. And they said yes! Tiny victory to you perhaps, but this is huge for us. My spouse rocks. And me? I just wish I were home more. 

Six months ago, whenever I was in the airport I would Face Time Teeny and she'd ask me to flip the camera around so she could see all the people. She would ask me to walk over to a window so she could watch the planes pull away from their gates and slowly make their ways to the runway. She would ask to see the people again, the moving walkways, the shops, the signs, the tarmac. She would ask me to show her my seat, the windows, the lights. She was fascinated. 

Today as I boarded my flight home, I Face Timed her. She was deep into dramatic play mode, busy at her kitchen set, making imaginary mac and cheese. Johnny propped the phone up on her ty kitchen counter. Hi Mama! she said. Are you on the plane yet? No baby, I'm-- and she held up a hand. Wait, she said. I have a call in five minutes. I have to go. She turned away from me and picked up a pretend phone. Hello?! Oh yes. She pretended to listen. Yes. Okay. She turned back to me. I can't. I have to go. But wait, baby girl, I protested. Can you tell her you'll call her back soon? No, she shook her head gravely. I can't. What else could I do? Okay, baby girl, I said. I love you. Goodnight! I'll see you in the morning. 

How depressing. 

Earlier today I was on the phone with a friend who asked me about how my family was adjusting. Great! I said brightly. I told her how my underlying goal is to minimize the impact of my travel on my kids. How I work hard to plan their activities for the week before I leave, how Johnny and I review who has to be where when. How Bee and I sometimes Face Time when she gets up early and she reads a chapter to me then, flipping the camera around to show me the pictures, and of course the words she stumbles on. I told her how lucky they are to have a parent who is always home and to have friends and neighbors and family in their lives consistently even when I am not. How I have been trying hard to be home on the weekends so I can take both girls on our Saturday morning outings while Johnny sleeps in, how I've never yet missed a movie night. 

And yet, there it is. No, I have a call. I have to go to work. I'm sorry, I can't right now. I'm leaving for the airport. I'm off to New York. How many times have they heard that? 

It weighs on me. But it is what it is. This is what I signed up for. It's what I knew I was getting into. I love my job and I love my family and I love being home and I love being on the road and I love being with my spouse and my girls and I love being with my colleagues and I love doing all the things I do. And I get to do them imperfectly and wonderfully. Adjusting is a long process and we are still at it. It's all positive and every day we say over and over how grateful we are that we moved, and yet it's still challenging at times. 

Some of the biggest changes for us are the obvious ones, while others have been things that might seem small to someone else. I've been making some notes here and there that I've cobbled together in the list below:

1) Cost

I was afraid that moving would be too expensive, that on our one-person income we could never afford a house in a town we loved in a school district we felt could serve both our children, with enough space for the four of us and with enough of our nice-to-haves. But you know what? In NYC we owned 750 square feet of space. For that we paid a monthly mortgage and since it was a co-op we also paid maintenance. We paid for our parking space in an indoor garage because a) parking in New York City is impossible even with a handicapped parking permit and b) with a kid who can't walk, you just can't park five blocks away and carry her plus groceries plus whatever and c) we wanted our car to not be stolen. We paid a fortune to insure that car even though it was garaged indoors and not used for commuting. We also had to pay for a storage space since nothing fit in our apartment. Which was stupid because if you put a bunch of stuff in storage you forget it's there so you may as well have thrown it away because you end up buying another one or saying "we have one that's in storage, we can go get it," and looking at each other and groaning and then not getting it and then what's the point of having that bike or that easel or that box of awesome cookbooks or whatever. Then we bought a house. And now, we pay for the house. And that's it. We park the cars in the driveway and we store stuff in the closets and the basement and the cabinets and the shed and the wherever. And the cost to insure two cars is less than what we paid in NYC to insure one.

1) Outside

Our apartment in New York was so small that we had a rule that we HAD to leave at least once every single day. It wasn't even that we needed the air or the exercise, although of course we did. It was that the apartment was so small that by the time we cleared the breakfast table we were already all on each other's nerves, so in order not to want to kill one another, we had to invent things to do outside. But getting outside with a family is such a production in New York City. Everyone has to get dressed and ready to go out, even if it's just to the mailbox, because you can't just go outside and leave a child inside the apartment alone.  And since you all have to go, you may as well make it worthwhile, so you pack as though you might go to the moon. A bag full of wipes, toys, a mama book just in case I get to read, a kid book just in case they want to read, two phones, water, coffee, snacks, a stroller, blanket, hoodies, diapers, change of clothes, whatever. My bag is so heavy that I can barely carry it, and that is before wearing or preparing to carry the child who cannot walk independently when she invariably tires from using her walker. And then there's what a friend of mine calls the New York City kid tax: we have to have a destination, which invariably costs money. Even if it's "oh let's head over to Children's Museum" or the less inspired "We can always grab coffee," or "Let's go pick out a book for the girls at Barnes & Noble," between admission, food, shopping, coffee, whatever, it always turns into a $100+ day long excursion. Always. 

Here, we walk out the door. The front door or any of our four deck doors. The end. Sometimes the kids are not even dressed and sometimes we forget to put on shoes. Bee can open the door herself and the girls can be outside, hanging out with the chickens without us. She is now the one who runs out to the mailbox. Johnny can grab something from the car or the shed without having to suit up the entire family (not to mention having to tip the garage attendant). Also, when they are in bed, we can be outside on the deck or the lawn looking up at the stars (and there are thousands! None of your puny handful of stars that struggle to peek through New York City skyscraper light pollution). Some citronella candles for the summer mosquitoes, a grown up beverage or two, and a hoodie; it's as good as a date night.

The down side: the cats want to get outside too. Ours are wimpy city indoor cats who think they are badass but aren't. They are completely entranced by the 24-hour cat TV playing right on the other side of the screen doors. Our chickens! Chipmunks! Birds! Bunnies! (And, uh, fox! Coyotes? Who knows what lives in those trees behind our house!) They are always on high alert, just waiting for the moment one of us fails to close a door all the way. It doesn't help that they refuse to wear collars.

2) Fashion

I spent a fortune on clothes in New York. Work clothes. Going out clothes. Workout clothes. And so many shoes that I never wore because they hurt my feet. So many.

Everything here is way more casual. Nice-casual, of course, but still casual. And now that I work from home some of the time, I live in comfy cotton and I have enough work clothing to last me for business trips to New York, LA and wherever else for the rest of my life and for ten more lives. I may never need to shop again as long as I don't succumb to the challenges of working from home (my fully stocked kitchen is ten feet away from my office) and the challenges of traveling 50% or more of the time (restaurants 3x per day) and need a new wardrobe because I've gained 500 pounds. 

The down side: my spouse actually likes me in my work clothes. Sorry sweetie! Shorts or jeans and a nice t-shirt or are way more comfortable. I feel sad when I take off my Fit Flops (in summer) or my Sorels (in every other season so far) and have to put on real shoes. As it's gotten colder I am wearing my work boots, jeans and a quilted vest. The all-black version of the LL Bean catalog. Oh well. At least I still shower every day. :-)

3) Appliances and services

In New York we had the luxury of having a washer dryer in our apartment, but they were small and the dryer was ventless. Ventless dryers suck no matter how much you spend (and they are pricey!) and it takes hours for a load of clothing to dry. Here the appliances are bigger and cheaper and way more efficient. In New York the apartment was so small and the air was so bad that we ran the air conditioners (all three of them) at full blast anytime the temperature crept above 70. Here we have high ceilings with ceiling fans and lots of cross ventilation and we don't need the AC at all except on very hot days when the temperature was well into the 90s. In the winter, we use the heat in the early mornings and then in the late evenings but during the day and while we're sleeping we find we don't need it. For regular mail we don't have to find a mailbox or go to the post office, we just stick it in our mailbox and put up the little red flag, a service I find adorably quaint.

The down side: In New York we paid so much per month in maintenance that we almost never had to pay for anything or worry about anything at all for general apartment upkeep. We separated trash from recyclables but it all went into the same trash room in the building and it went whenever we wanted. I never saw a bug in the apartment but we could sign up for exterminator services that were covered by the building. Mail and packages were received by the doorman. Here we have to pay for trash collection services *and* we have to pay per trash can or per bag that is collected. We have to have our property treated for ticks and mosquitoes. We have to worry about landscaping and we have to manage all our own repairs. Part of the reason we even noticed that we could live so easily without AC and heat around the clock is that I panicked thinking about the cost of heating and cooling an entire house. We pay for electric and gas, and here we also pay for water and for the cleaning and maintenance of the septic system. We have a shed for tools and appliances we will have to learn how to use (like a lawnmower!). Johnny got himself an ax and a hatchet for the wood we needed for the two wood burning stoves and we got a hell of a lesson when the first cord of wood we bought was dumped in a big messy pile on our lawn and he had to stack it himself. It took him days. 

4) Customer service

In New York, businesses like the bank, the post office and the supermarket are always overcrowded. The lines are long and people are cranky and impatient and they are staffed by people who don't want to be there. I used to say not even half-kidding that the post office near my apartment should be the tenth circle of Hell from Dante's Inferno. Here, running errands has been nothing short of a delight. People are polite and friendly and helpful. And all establishments make you bring your own bags or give you paper for a ten cent fee. 

Goodbye to exchanges like this:

Me: I have a bag
Employee (ignoring me and bagging my stuff): ...
Me: I have a bag
Employee: Taking my stuff out of their flimsy double or triple plastic bags and then throwing them away even though I didn't use them (!)
Me: Grrrrr.

And hello to:

Employee: Hi there! How are you today? I haven't seen you in a while. How can I help you? 
Me: I'd like this and this please. And I have my own bag. 
Employee: Sure thing! Here you go, have a wonderful day! Hope to see you again soon!

The down side: You have to drive everywhere and think about where parking is. 

5) Space

Our house is more than three times the size of our old apartment and we now have TWO bathrooms and are thinking about putting in a third. This is so exciting I can't even tell you. That two of us can pee at the same time now is earth shattering. It's amazing to have space! In New York every single inch was filled and we worked so hard to keep things organized that half the time we didn't even bother to take out a toy or a game or a project just because it would make a mess and it seemed too difficult to deal with. It seemed easier to just throw stuff out than try to find a place to put it. Here we have a table that we have designated just for jigsaw puzzles, which we love but required too much effort in New York because they took up prime real estate on our dining room table that also served as the girls' home base for homework and project and my home office and if they stayed out unfinished, the cats or the kids invariably ended up losing pieces and they'd end up in the trash. 

The (not very) down side: I sometimes have house envy. Having moved to a town where the houses are mostly bigger and newer and fancier than the one we just moved into, part of me is already thinking this upgrade isn't good enough. We have sunk every penny into getting here -- the renovations we would like to do that the house really needs are going to have to wait. So my eyes move silently over the other houses in our neighborhood. They have garages! This one is having new windows put in, that one has a mother-in-law apartment at the end of their lawn, that one is the size of a cruise ship. Wow, look at how beautiful that one is! I look at the current listings to torture myself with what's coming on the market now. Other people have three bathrooms! Other people have guest rooms! Other people have family rooms and living rooms. Other people have this or that. Look at how this one redid their kitchen, look at how big that one's master suite is. Then I remember what we came from and remember how wonderful all this new space is to my kids and how if our house was that big we would just fill it with crap and then I would have to clean it.

6) Education and related services

This is ultimately why we moved out of NYC and why we picked this town in particular. Bee was going to a wonderful but very expensive private school and the Herculean effort involved in applying for financial aid available was more than I felt I could sustain for the next thirteen years of her education, especially when coupled with everything else that involved getting her there (like leaving the house at 6:45 am to get her to the bus stop, or taking her on the train at 7:45 instead because 6:45 was just too cruel, like paying extra money for after school activities that all the kids did but that made her day 9 - 10 hours long excluding her commute and having to leave work early to pick her up ANYWAY, like worrying about what to do with her over the summer because summer camp in New York City costs around a thousand dollars a week). Then the other kid. Even if it were easy to navigate the special needs system, even if the zone schools were not terrible, even if we could afford the exorbitant prices for all the ancillary services that help children like Teeny, just getting her to and from everything was killing us. Even with one stay at home parent we could not get her everywhere she needed to be -- therapies, doctors, specialists, etc., and still manage Bee's schedule and mine. J spent his life in the car as many parents do but that was just for her and in the last year of schooling our kids went on three play dates. Three. That's all we could manage.

The down side:
I haven't found one yet. Teeny's services in school are somewhat reduced, but MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, covers additional services that her New York State Medicaid never did. There just aren't enough hours in the day to fit all the services that are available to her. It took us four years to amass her team and her services in New York City. In four months, we got her involved in everything she had going on in NYC and more. It's amazing. Teeny is happy. Bee is happy. They are making friends and they are growing and changing and flourishing. If nothing else in the whole world was good about this move, the schools and the services made it totally worth it a million time over and over and over.

And there's more to discover every day. 


  1. I've ALWAYS enjoyed reading your blog, Aimme!!! And I thoroughly enjoy keeping up with you on FB!
    I always knew NYC and all of its drawbacks, made it rough for you and your family. I'm SO HAPPY to see that you moved out of NYC and into a real home! Congratulations!


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