Thanksgiving – NYC Style

Happy late Thanksgiving!!  I pray you had a great day celebrating with family and friends. I haven’t done a post in a while, so I have lots to share and because our last post had no pictures, I am making up for it in this one.  Lets dive in!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we went to our annual staff retreat with the Northeast region (we used to be with the MidSouth region before we moved) in the Adirondack mountains. This was a whole new conference for us in a whole new region and while most everyone and everything was new, our life has been all about the new lately, so it really wasn’t that difficult.  What was difficult was the weather.  We knew the weather was calling for snow but the day we arrived, they kept increasing the totals of what they thought we would get.  While I am not sure how much we actually got, it did accumulate, it did snow most of the weekend, and it was super cold. I looked at some of our NYC teammates and said “If this is what winter is like in NYC, I don’t think I am going to make it.” Pray for me, lol.

It was a great weekend and we loved getting to meet the NYC team from Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as other teams around the Northeast.  We got to learn more about the Lord and reflect on our lives, hear more about how the Lord was moving around the world, connect with national leadership, the kids had a great time in childcare, and the best part was HALL MONITORING.  Most conferences, when it is time for the kids to go to bed, the parents have to come back, tuck them in bed, and sit in the hall or in the room while they sleep for the rest of the night.  Yes, it is a chance for moms to talk and get some down time, but you miss everything in the main sessions for the evenings.  Geniuses at this conference decided to have one of the childcare workers in the hallways and once you sign your contact information on a sheet and leave your baby monitors with the kids peacefully sleeping, you are free to go back to the main session.  Seriously, MidSouth region, you have got to do this – transforming! Here is little man styling in his dad’s NYC hat.

The day after we got back from staff conference, Emerson had culture day at her school.  Parents were asked to come in, bring a food or dress or artifact, and tell more about your culture. We decided to bring southern style grits and sausage, which is a favorite in our house and definitely tells about our southern culture.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very interested learning about the kids in her class.  I knew it was diverse here, but man!  Most of the kids were born here, but the parents that came were from Bangladesh, Poland, Israel, Japan, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Thailand, and more. It was neat tasting all the different foods (and I am highly surprised that I liked most of them!), hearing the neat accents, learning about their cultures, and getting to take home an origami crane.

Thanksgiving eve, we decided to trek into Manhattan and go see the blown up balloons that were waiting for the Thanksgiving parade the next day.  While I would love to see the parade, I have heard that you have to be there super early to get a spot (like between 4 and 6 that am!), you can’t really leave your spot, and it is super crowded – not good ingredients when you throw in three kids 6 and under as well as a pregnant mama.  So we decided to do the next best thing and see the balloons.  We stopped at Chickfila before heading there to get some dinner and while the sweet tea wasn’t up to par, it was SWEET TEA.

Thankfully, we had read up on the what all the balloon sightings was about, so we weren’t surprised for the wait or how many people were there.  Like, an hour and half wait, and so many people you could barely push a stroller.  It was also insane getting a subway there as they were packed to the max (like one of the only times I have seen it where someone actually couldn’t squeeze in a subway car and had to wait for the next one).  But, I have to say, it was ALL worth it!!  I kept looking at Ed going “Are we really getting to do this? This is so cool!”. And our kids loved it too!  Family favorites were Hello Kitty and Thomas the Train and Paddington Bear.  It was also neat seeing those same balloons in the parade (from our living room, mind you) the next morning and saying “We really saw that in person!”

Thanksgiving day was very relaxing, even though we did really miss being with family.  We skyped with family, did some online shopping, watched the parade, played with the kids, and had a big dinner with our teammates/friends here in Queens.  I was kind of sad to not go Black Friday shopping this year, but with being able to get deals online, stores being spread out, and having to carry things back or get a taxi, it wasn’t the same.

The day after Thanksgiving, we traveled to Long Island City to take pictures for our Christmas cards and to let the kids play at the playground by the water.  We love the view from Long Island City and were excited to show it to the kids.  If you are going to get our Christmas cards, I am sorry to say you will see this picture twice.  We were pleasantly surprised with how they turned out since we just took them with our camera on the tripod.

And the girls, after much fighting on Thanksgiving, showed us they do really love each other by barely taking their hands away from each other during the whole photo shoot. I love this pic of them holding hands.

We attempted to visit Target for a few Black Friday and need to have deals, but learned never to do that again – it was a madhouse!  So was Best Buy – in fact, Ed didn’t even get inside because of the massive line just to get in.  We are used to Black Friday crowds, but ya’ll, this was something else.  Things were so disorganized, people were everywhere, nothing was marked, and checkout took forever even despite having every lane opened. I guess when you only have a few stores for millions of people, that is what happens.We also decorated for Christmas, which was actually fun this year as everyone really got into it and could help (like really help, not try to help but cause more mess).

And let me show you my latest creation: our Christmas people.  A lady in Raleigh was selling these and instead of buying it, I thought “I can make that!” We bought, cut, and painted the wood in Greenville while we had tools, I bought the fabric in Greenville but made them here, and I just finished printing the names and family name. It turned out cute, but it was way more labor intensive than I thought it would be…and, it is HUGE!  She was selling them for like 4 family members, so when you add 2 more, it gets a lot bigger.

And to top off Thanksgiving break, most of our family got sick with nasty colds and Blake had to make a visit to the Pediatric Urgent Care.  He had been struggling with a cold for a day or so, but we noticed that right after bath time last night, he started breathing really fast, pulling hard, and was really fussy.  Having seen this the last time he was in the hospital, we knew that we need to get help, so Ed took him to urgent care (my sweet husband who had been taking care of sickies all day and then traveled to urgent care) and they said he was pulling really hard, but they were going to do everything they could to keep us from going to the hospital.  After two breathing treatments and a steroid, he started to breathe easier and they sent us home with a breathing machine and albuterol.  We are so thankful they were able to help him without us going to the hospital AND that they gave us a breathing treatment to use in the future since this seems to be an issue with him that keeps happening.  We had to give him one treatment this morning, but so far, he is doing better.  Now if the rest of us could get there….

Until our next (and hopefully not as eventful) post….


The Big Differences So Far

We are a few weeks into our move to NYC and quite frankly, it has been a rollercoaster. Granted, this isn’t our first move, so I have been prepared for how hard it is to move and transition. I quite vividly remember how miserable I was when we first moved to NC, so none of this has taken me by surprise. And while we love NYC and absolutely know this is where the Lord has us for now, it has been great some days and hard others.

Confession – I don’t have a lot of pictures, mostly because life has been about getting unpacked, going to the park, the grocery store, the library, getting new licenses, starting Kinsley in school, and all the other things that come with moving.

Moving to NYC has been a lot like moving to a completely different country, so just to give you a glimpse, I am going to share the biggest differences we have seen so far.

1 – School has way more security and is a lot more diverse than in the South – some of this is a given, like the diversity, but it really hit home when I had to select what language we wanted communication from the school to come to us in.  And, when we went to register her, we couldn’t bring in strollers and had to give a photo ID to the officer at the front desk. Also, pick up is in the courtyard outside if the weather allows…versus car pool lines in NYC.

2 – Whoa, the walking.  Without having a car, and even if we did have a car, people walk everywhere because parking is so hard around here.  It took us about a week to get our “city legs” and we quickly learned that Emerson is a fantastic walker and can keep up with us.  Kinsley, not so much, bless her sweet heart.  When we have to walk a mile to get to a store, that isn’t so bad to us, compared to saying “NO WAY!” in NC and hoping in the car. This is great in that we get lots of exercise and I am pretty sure I haven’t put on any baby weight since being here.  Not so great – everything takes forever to do because not only do you have to get everyone out the door and bundled up, but it takes kids longer to walk places.

3 – We order everything!  We haven’t branched out into the world of ordering food yet, mostly because we have an Aldi about a mile away and a grocery store on the next block, but we have found ourselves ordering everything else.  Last night? I ordered salt and pepper shakers.  Yes, I could have gotten them at a few different stores around here, but why would I do that when I can just order them.  And another great part about ordering things?  We have a doorman who collects our boxes for us and then we get a handy little email or call saying we have a package – who doesn’t love getting packages?

4 – You realize quickly that you are not in control.  We knew this, right?  But living here reinforces it every single day.  If you are riding the subway and expect to be somewhere at such and such time, just be prepared that it could take way longer to get there because of subway delays such as train traffic or because they may decide on that day to do subway work and skip stops or not to go to a certain stop.  Granted, we don’t have to take the subway everyday, yet, but you also never know when lines will be really long at the grocery store, laundromat, or anywhere else you go (gone are the days of just throwing in a load of laundry before you leave the house and switching it to the dryer when you return).  Flexibility is key, and again, planning for things to take way longer than they actually do.

5 – There is so much to do!  After recovering from a nasty stomach bug that went through every one of our family members, we decided we wanted to get out of the house, but the possibilities of where to go and what to do were endless.  We ended up trekking into Manhattan to this really cool playground at Central Park, getting cupcakes at one of our favorite cupcake shops, and taking a trip to Best Buy.  We have learned to LOVE the playground and have enjoyed meeting other families there (when the parents are actually there instead of the nannies, which it seems like everyone has around here).  We also are loving spending more time with our kids because there aren’t endless things to do around our apartment.  We heard this was going to be great about NYC and we have to say, we agree wholeheartedly.

6 – We are surrounded by SO many cultures!  We can’t leave our apartment complex without hearing multiple languages being spoken, it isn’t common for us to see “white people” like us, and you really learn to value the differences in people.  This can be challenging as you aren’t just going overseas and learning one culture, but are constantly meshing with many different cultures.  But, it has been exciting for us to be able to worship with the nations at church, value the differences in the way the Lord has made us, and force ourselves to interact with people who aren’t like us.

I am sure there are many, many more that I haven’t mentioned, and more that we will learn.  Some days we absolutely love it here and some days it is really hard and I am ready to go “home”.  It is so great to remember how the Lord provided for us to get here, called us here, and that this is exactly where He wants us.  Will you pray that we will be bold with those around us and seek to really meet people and connect with them rather than just saying hey in passing?  It can be easy to get bogged down in the darkness of this city and to want to retreat to our apartment, but God has called us to be light to all those around us, even when the darkness is prevalent. Thanks for your prayers!

Moving to the Big Apple

We are officially residents of NYC!!  How crazy and exciting is that?  Here’s a little of our journey the last week….

Last Tuesday, Ed drove a Budget truck (though our POD was in NYC, we needed to take a lot of stuff that we had with us to NYC, as well as pick up a HUGE Ikea order so we could furnish our apartment) to NYC.  After a long 12.5 hour ride to Brooklyn, he made it to Ikea and picked up our large order (which he learned never to do again by himself as it was way too much for him to handle).  Then, he traveled to Garden City to stay with some ministry partners before driving into Queens and moving into the apartment the next morning.

Meanwhile, I was in Greenville with Ed’s parents and meeting the guy who was going to buy our van.  Like I said in the last post, God did a crazy-cool thing and provided Chad, the lead singer for the Christian band Unspoken (though you may not know their name, you absolutely know their songs), to buy our van, so he drove down from Nashville, sold his car to CarMax, and then paid me for our van.  Not only was it awesome to meet Him, it was neat to see how the Lord provided a perfect van for his family at just the right time and he was able to support a missionary family at the same time.

Wednesday, Ed arrived at our apartment bright and early to move in all our gear, along with some Cru staff members and professional movers.  It also meant finding parking for the Budget truck in crazy NYC traffic and navigating getting everything up through a small elevator shaft.  But, it all made it!

Ed spent the next few days getting things put together, moved around, and buying things we needed.  Friday, he flew back to Charlotte, NC to meet up with us (his parents graciously drove us and provided a hotel for us to stay in that night) and then Saturday morning, we headed out bright and early to NYC.  The kids were so excited to ride on the airplane, especially Blake who kept yelling plane at the top of his lungs at EVERY.SINGLE.PLANE he saw at the busy Charlotte airport.

Cool God moment – we took a shuttle from our hotel to the airport (like a 10 minute ride) Saturday morning and after checking our luggage, we realized that we had left my book bag on the shuttle bus.  After frantically trying to call the hotel and get in touch with the shuttle for them to bring it back, and lots of crazy praying to God for us to find it quickly, Ed “happened” to look up and see the shuttle bus driving by on the way to drop off more people.  He sprinted to catch up with them and was able to catch him, and get our book bag.  Praise the Lord for perfect timing!

After a short (but Oh So Long) flight to LaGuardia and cab ride, we arrived at our apartment.  We have spent the last few days getting unpacked, ordering LOTS of things from Amazon, and getting used to life in the city.  Did I mention that we have had lots of help getting unpacked, just like this?

We took a break to take the kids trick or treating, and man, was it an experience.  Like, whoa.  People here go ALL OUT for Halloween.  I have never in my life seen people celebrate it in full force like they did here.  If you were not dressed up, whether an adult or a child, you were out of place.  People travel from all over Queens to trick or treat in Forest Hills (where we live – especially on one street in particular) so they literally shut down the whole street, decorate the houses, and give out candy all night.  The businesses even give out candy.

We have spent lots and lots of time the last few weeks praying and trying to decide whether to keep homeschooling the kids or send them to preschool and 1st grade in public school.  We decided this week to put them in school and Kinsley was not happy about our decision, which was really hard to push through knowing she wasn’t feeling it. So, we prayed, checked out the schools, and decided we would go with it and if it didn’t work, pull her out and homeschool her.  So, we went to her school where she is zoned for, and found out they didn’t have any spots.  So, they sent us to another school nearby to register her and we were excited to learn that this school is one of the best in our area.  Such a cool answer to prayer to get a spot at a really great school.  The administration was so helpful, Kinsley got to meet her teacher and see her classroom, and by the end, she was so excited about going back to school – what a huge answer to prayer!  And, the best part, they just requested and got approved to add a bus stop for this school literally outside our apartment complex, so we won’t have to walk her there or walk her far to get on the bus.  Yah!!

Then, the school administration got us so much info about getting Emerson enrolled in free pre-K (something NYC offers to 4 year olds called universal Pre-K where they can enroll and attend 5 days a week to get ready for kindergarten) and helped us tremendously. After many calls to multiple Pre-K centers and the Department of Education, and getting lots of different answers, we found out that we had missed the enrollment deadline and couldn’t register at a center even though there were spots available.  We were bummed, BUT then, one of the centers called back and said that the Department of Education said she could enroll a kid if another kid got discharged.  And guess what is happening November 18?  Yep, she has a kid getting discharged, which means Emerson can take that spot.  Basically, that means that Emerson can go to pre-K at an approved center for free, instead of us paying hundreds of dollars each month.  And the center is close to us and will work with Kinsley’s school schedule.  Praise God for how He is working out every single, teeny, tiny detail, from helping us find our missing bag so we didn’t miss our plane to finding a great spot for both of our kids at schools that are close by.

More to come from this great adventure ]the Lord has us on….