New York, New York.

Well, dear readers, it’s been a spell. Not much has changed since my last post, minus one significant alteration: I now work in the Big Apple.

Commuting to “the city” from Northern New Jersey is not for the weak. I don’t live in a town with Midtown Direct train service, so it’s more of a journey:

  1. Drive 12 minutes to commuter lot two towns over. Park and walk 1/4 mile to train station.
  2. Take train to terminus at Hoboken.
  3. Take PATH to World Trade Center.
  4. Walk 3/4 mile to office.

In total, it’s 90-plus-minutes door-to-door. I find it surreal to be in suburbia one minute, and two hours later I’m in New York City, somewhere I’ve never worked before.

Needless to say, it’s been quite a change, both financially and personally.

Financially because of the cost of commuting and the lunches I tend to buy there rather than schlepping 2-3 meals a day with me (depending on my shift). I buy a monthly train ticket, have the discounted PATH SmartLink card and mostly walk from WTC to the office. Occasionally I take the subway the rest of the way (inclement weather, mostly), but for just two stops and $2.75, it’s not something I do often.

Alternately, there are nights I work later and find it faster to take a NY Waterway ferry trip home. This is a faster option, but costly at $8 a ride.

Personally, because after four months, our two young daughters still haven’t gotten used to Mommy working “so far away” and not making it home for bedtime two or three nights a week.

I’m trying to bring as many meals in from home as possible to avoid that cost, but I’m still stunned by having any kind of food I want within walking distance. Hopefully the novelty will soon wear off.

If anyone has tips for keeping costs down, leave a comment!

How I Save on Tolls

Ever drive out of your way to avoid tolls? I’ve been doing it for the better part of a decade.

I can get to work in about 25 minutes if I drive straight up the Parkway, but I hit two tolls: the entry toll plaza is 75 cents, and another toll of $1.50 at the exit toll closes to my workplace. The grand total: $2.25.

But there’s a work-around for that $1.50 toll — I can take another exit (with no toll) and avoid it by driving an extra 4 miles. It tacks on an additional 5 minutes to my commute, but if I’m not running late, it works well.

I have an alternate route, too: I can take the Turnpike, where the toll totals $1.15. And this doubles as the shortest commute to work, distance-wise, by a few miles.

Coming back home, there’s no $1.50 toll on the Parkway, so it’s my best route home — the Turnpike would be another $1.15 to get home, so I’m saving 40 cents.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever driven out of your way to save a buck?

Am I Back? Perhaps.

:::tap tap tap:::

Is this thing on?

Obviously, I’ve been neglecting this blog since baby number two was born, but here I am, in the flesh — er, keyboard. Heavens knows the last time I logged in. And forget about posting…

Perhaps I’ll start blogging again, although I haven’t been feeling very frugal lately. A family of four plus a mortgage in New Jersey is NOT CHEAP.

I’m working on cleaning things up, particularly that spam ad that seems to be deeply, DEEPLY embedded in my coding, but it may be beyond my expertise.

Christmas Gifts on the Brain

Mid-October may be the earliest I’ve ever bought a Christmas gift. Last night, I was surfing on the Toys R Us website and happened across this neat art desk from Step 2.

Step2ArtDesk

We saw it at a friend’s house over the summer, and I really liked it — so did Emily, who kept wandering away from the party to try to play with all the art stuff they had on it. (“Accessories not included,” naturally. But of course we have all the markers, paints and crayons needed to make a mess… uh, I mean, make art.)

I wasn’t really looking to start my Christmas shopping. While I’m not a last-minute Linda, I will get a good jump on gifts sometime in mid-November, and then get caught up in the holiday madness that descends upon my professional and personal life this time of year, and forget to complete my shopping list. An unfortunate side effect of the “early” gift-buying is that I tend to forget one or two of my stashed presents. Good thing I have time to find the lost gift and re-purpose it for Emily’s birthday 6 weeks later…

This year, we’ll be celebrating Christmas with our newest addition, Jenna. As she’ll only be 5 months when the holiday rolls around, we won’t be doing a ton of shopping for her. She’ll be barely able to sit up by then, forget about being able to play with most toys.

Emily, on the other hand, has reached the age where she wants everything she sees — on TV or in the multitude of toy catalogs that have hit the mailbox in the past week. I’ve had to hide those suckers to preserve my sanity. Not that it’s stopped her from asking where they are — the kid has a memory like an elephant.

All in all, it will be a fairly lean Christmas since I’ve been on maternity leave since July (and returning to work mid-November), but I’m pretty sure the kids won’t even notice. Unless I manage to lose even more gifts this year.

First Day of Pre-K

Today is Emily’s first day of pre-K at a local nursery school. I woke her up, got her to eat breakfast with minimal prodding (a rarity!) and dressed her in a cute fall outfit. She was great about taking pictures and ran inside the school without so much as a glance backward at me. I’m glad she’s a social butterfly and not a clingy little thing — she’s affectionate as can be, but she’s an independent spirit.

EmilySchool

 

She came out excited about her morning, but was a little light on the details. I’m sure she’ll tell me more as the days go on — she’ll be going five mornings a week. Right now, I’m enjoying every minute with her while I’m home on maternity leave.

She’s Here!

Well, she wasn’t as early as our first Baby Frugalista (who was five weeks premature), but our second little miss arrived at 37.5 weeks in the same exact manner — my water broke, and off to the hospital we went. My labor had to be induced again, as my body seems not to know how to start contractions on its own, but the experience was relatively positive. Miss Jenna Rose arrived on July 15 weighing 6 pounds and measuring 18 inches long, another little peanut! I delivered at a different area hospital this time, getting a lovely private suite and room-service meals. The baby was born completely healthy and two days later, we were home and a family of four.

 

DSC03457

 

She’s 7 weeks old now. Our 3.5-year-old, Emily, has been trying to adjust to her new baby sister as best she can. We’ve had some hiccups with regressions in the area of toileting, but she’s back on track now. It’s tough to lose 100% of your parents’ attention, so we’re trying to make sure she feels as included as possible — she gets her own Mommy or Daddy & Me time.

I’m on maternity leave until November, and like last time, I’m torn between enjoying my time at home with my children and missing work. We’ve arranged daycare for Jenna when I go back to work, and Emily will be in preschool. Thankfully, my father-in-law has retired and will be able to help with pickup and aftercare until Mr. NSF gets home from work (I work later than he does). Hopefully all will go smoothly!

What Do You Need for Baby No. 2?

When I was pregnant with our first child, we needed everything — crib, bottles, car seat, burp clothes, high chair, you name it. We received clothing and a number of beautiful gifts.

Now that Baby No. 2 is on her way (another girl!), I’ve had to take stock of what we have, make sure it’s clean and in good working order, and decide what we’ll need to buy new.

Turns out, we don’t need much of anything.

We can reuse our infant car seat, because it’s only a few years old and has never been in an accident. I still have bottles, so I’m only replacing the nipples. Clothes in all sizes, check. Bathtub and baby towels, check. Swing, check. High chair, check. Burp cloths and swaddling blankets, check. I have a pack of newborn diapers, a case of baby wipes, and leftover size 1 and size 2 diapers to get us started.

A good friend is giving me a mini crib, which we’ll use in our bedroom until we’re sure the baby is old enough to share a room with our 3-year-old daughter. We have a three-bedroom house, but only two of the bedrooms are upstairs (ours and Emily’s), and I’m not putting a young child or a baby in the third bedroom downstairs. Since we’ll have two girls and a very large bedroom upstairs, it’s a no-brainer that these two girls will share a room until they can either no longer stand it or we’re comfortable having one bunk in the downstairs bedroom.

We’re so very excited to meet our newest addition — but the poor thing still needs a name!