When I found out we were moving to New Orleans, I’m not going to sugar coat it. I freaked out. A lot.
“You’re going to LOVE New Orleans” said nearly everyone, to which I responded “have y’all been there?!” Seriously, I had NO idea how anyone could look at me with a straight face and tell me that I was going to love it. I’d been there, I’d seen it with my own two eyes, I’d read the Uptown Messenger, I knew about the crime. I was sure those people were all delusional and had never been anywhere but the Zoo or the Whole Foods on Magazine Street. They had no idea what they were talking about.
Where would we live? What about school? What about friends? What about everything?! Moving also meant leaving our first home, the one our babies came home to from the hospital. It meant leaving some amazing friends and putting all of those things behind us.
Once the dust settled and a couple months had passed, I put my big girl panties on and took this bull by its proverbial horns. We were moving to New Orleans and were going to have a fabulous year, darn it!
I started by scanning my 1500 Facebook friends for those I knew had New Orleans roots, and I reached out to every one of them. In doing so, I found us a phenomenal Uptown rental home (the Mayor is our next door neighbor, no biggie), and I got our 3 year old enrolled in Nursery School and summer camp. BOOM! I was on a roll. Once those 2 were checked off my list, I could breathe much easier.
We moved to New Orleans in June 2013. It was hot. Really, REALLY hot. Soooo, I joined the pool. The Uptown JCC has an enormous pool, as well as a fantastic covered baby/toddler pool. The staff is lovely, the gym facilities and classes are great, and it’s just down the street. Yay! In our first few weeks in town, I transferred my Junior League Membership, joined the Parenting Center, the New Orleans Public Library, The Children’s Museum and got our family Audubon membership. Go big or go home, right?
Since last summer, we became regulars at Hansen’s Sno Bliz, “sucked da’ heads and pinched da’ tails,” became huge Saints fans, shopped and ate our way up and down Freret and Magazine Streets and spent weekends exploring in and around the French Market. We ate powdered sugar and the beignets that came with it, conquered the big slide at Storyland, became soccer parents spending our Fall Saturday mornings at “The Fly,” drank Abita and Sazeracs in go cups, taught our kids to say “Who Dat,” trick or treated on Octavia, met Mr. Bingle, went to Gator, Seafood and Po’boy Festivals, ate Popeyes, decorated a Mardi Gras ladder, sampled more than a dozen kinds of king cake, went to 25 Mardi Gras parades, danced in the streets, shouted “throw me something mister!” and now have more beads than we know what to do with.
The best part is that we meet new friends everywhere we go. I met one of my first New Orleans friends at the baby pool on our very first day there. My daughter and I have a standing “date” with friends at The Parenting Center on Mondays for music class and playtime. We haven’t been to Danneel Park in months without running into at least two friends.
As Mardi Gras came to an end last week, I felt a little melancholy. My family and I had SO much fun. More fun than I had ever dreamed we would have in New Orleans in a year, let alone in a week’s time. That’s when it hit me. I have fallen in love with this city. I love everything from the uniquely mispronounced French to the potholes, glittered shoes and never ending Uptown road construction.
Our year here in New Orleans may be coming to an end in just a few short months, but we will be back. Like a few other wise New Orleans moms have taught me, we will always, ALWAYS come home.
5 tips on how to “jump right in” once you’ve moved to New Orleans:
- Be a card carrying member of EVERYTHING! The Audubon Institute, Children’s Museum, library, City Park, The Parenting Center and JCC. You will use these memberships A LOT!
- Explore, explore, explore! Get out and see all of the great parks, playgrounds and neighborhoods in and around the city.
- Sign your kids up for activities like soccer, t-ball or swimming lessons.
- If it ends in the word “festival,” you should go. It WILL be a good time, I promise.
- Sign up for New Orleams Moms Blog’s Mom’s Night Out events and enjoy some time without kids in the company of other New Orleans moms. And no, they did not tell me to say that!
Feel free to check out pictures of our year thus far on Instagram by searching for hashtag “#ournolayear” under the username @JDRodwell.
Jessie is a stay at home mom to her 2 children, son Carter (3.5 years) and daughter Hadley (18 months). She and her family moved to New Orleans in June of 2013 for her husband to complete his medical training with a surgical Fellowship. When she’s not chasing after her dynamic toddling duo, you can likely find Jessie monogramming something. She loves needlepoint, horses, shopping for kids clothes and everything pink and green. Jessie is a graduate of Hollins University.