Whew, what a Christmas! In many ways, it was more relaxing than others, but in other ways, it was more exhausting. Call it pregnancy brain, but I don’t remember everything we did, so bear with me while I recount what I do remember.
Our weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with checking out NYC at Christmas time (Rockefeller Tree, windows on 5th Avenue, our staff team Christmas party, visiting Santa at Macys, school Christmas parties, and making Christmas cookies). I am sure there is more that I have forgotten 🙂 And we also had a really nasty course of the norovirus for Ed and I…talk about intense pain and a horrible virus! Our cookies turned out great considering they were made by little ones and as usual, we made way too much!
I will have to say, I am a little creeped out by this Elsa and Olaf. They look very similar to the creepy ones you find in Times Square (they actually probably are)…am I the only one creeped out by them?
A sweet, sweet friend of ours here in the city made these awesome mermaid blankets for the girls. They literally freaked out and were so excited that they haven’t stopped wearing them, including sleeping in them.
Christmas Eve, we rested around the apartment, got food ready for the evening, and then we attempted to go to the New Years Eve service at a church we have been visiting. The combo of our kids being excited for Christmas, not listening and being quiet when they needed to in the service, and things not being handled properly by a lady usher in the service, we ended up leaving early and feeling very bummed and frustrated. I won’t go into all of it, but just know it was a hard evening with lots of discipline. Such is life with young kids… We also attempted to make homemade cinnamon rolls, and after two failed attempts at them rising, we threw in the towel and made coffee cake instead. Sharon Mehaffie, you are my hero for getting them to turn out every time.
Christmas morning, our kids actually did a decent job of sleeping later, but when they woke up, it was on. They had a great time reading the Christmas story, opening gifts and enjoying our time as a family.
My parents flew in Christmas day about lunch time and the girls have had a blast playing with them, showing them their favorite things in the city, and loving having family around. We all (Ed’s parents, my parents, and us) pitched in to send the girls to the Broadway show, Aladdin, the day after Christmas and they LOVED it!! Other than Emerson being sick, its been a great trip so far and we are still getting to enjoy them while Ed is at Baltimore Winter Conference with college students from our region.
Could you pray for us as we enter January and anticipate Brynn’s arrival in the next 5 weeks? That everyone would stay healthy, that we would enjoy great family time, that we would make friends and find a solid church, and that I would have energy to care for everyone as I am feeling really exhausted and ready to have this baby? Thanks for your prayers!
Whew…it has been a whole 10 days since I last posted. My goal has always been to try to blog once a week, so forgive me that I haven’t been that consistent…I will try to do better! What a crazy 10 days it has been! We have been busy with learning a new school routine (which includes the bus picking Kinsley up at 6:45 am!), a birthday party with our friends, sickness, a Christmas party with our staff team, doctor’s appointments, and potty training Blake. Here are a few random pictures that give you a glimpse into our life lately.
1. This is our NYC Metro Staff Team (includes Bridges (international students), Campus, Epic (Asian American students), and Operations. This picture is SUCH an answer to prayer as more and more staff have felt called to and moved to NYC. Seriously, at least (and I could totally be wrong) 9 or more of these staff have just joined us in the last few months. Continue praying that God will raise up laborers to reach the 8.4 million college students in the NYC area!
2. I am thankful to have found a doctor here that I like for me as well as one that I really like for the kids. My doctor wanted me to have another ultrasound so I trekked out to the hospital I am going to deliver at for the ultrasound. Here is a profile picture of our sweet, healthy baby girl at 30 weeks and a picture of her foot. We are getting excited about meeting here and will be focusing soon (after Christmas!) on getting together and buying all that we still need for her. You would think we have everything with already having 3 kids, but when we downsized and moved to NYC, we got rid of A LOT!
3. We have definitely been adjusting to city life and learning so much about the area, cultures, campuses, ministry, and so much more. We have visited a few churches and are excited that there are a few options we may find as a fit for us (this is HUGE after being disappointed quite a few times and feeling like we would never find a church close to us). Couple of things we are learning – everything takes SO much longer in the city. Getting somewhere on the subway – there is almost always a train delay or something that will take longer. Going to the grocery store – add in the walk there, buying groceries, waiting in line, and you have used a whole morning. Case in point – I took the kids to get a urine analysis done for Emerson and then to fax something at the mail store – it took me 2.5 hours – granted, there were hiccups in there that weren’t their faults, but most of that was legit time waiting in line. Even something as small as going to the post office could take 1.5 hours.
And another thing – we found out that tipping people for services at Christmas time in the city isn’t really an optional thing, from nannys to hair stylists to building workmen. For instance, in our building, there are 17 people who work here, from the super to the doormen to the handymen. Now, there are no hard and fast guidelines about how much or even if you tip all of them, but you are expected to at least tip the super and the doormen. And, I have even heard they sometimes keep lists of who gives what and their service for you is determined based on that. When I gave the first card and tip to a doorman in our building we didn’t know well, he asked me as I was walking away “What apartment are you?” Guess we are on his good list 🙂
And schools and all the craziness and competitiveness that is here, thats a whole ‘nother blog post 🙂
Now, that may make it all seem bad, and believe me its not by any means and we are really thankful to be here, are motivated by why the Lord has us here, and are really adjusting well, but man, are things different!
4. We have a potty-trained little boy!! I hesitate to write this, because I can’t believe it happened so quickly and easily, but he is officially trained!
We noticed that he was showing signs of wanting to potty train like sitting on the little and big potties, telling us when he went, wanting to wear underwear, etc, and we didn’t want to miss the window of opportunity. We potty trained the girls at 20 and 22 months, so we knew it could be done. We were really motivated to not have 2 in diapers full-time come February. And, we wanted to do it far enough away from Brynn’s birth that he would hopefully not regress.
That being said, I was having a hard time getting motivated, mostly because I am so pregnant and getting up and down with him to train him isn’t easy, AND because city life doesn’t make it easy. For instance, what do you do when you have to ride the subway for 45 minutes, without a bathroom? And what do I do when I have to go pick up the girls for school and don’t pass one place with a public restroom (public restrooms are few and far between in the city and for some places, you have to purchase something to use them)? And do I really want to be stuck in the house cleaning up bodily fluids for 4-5 days straight (how long it took the girls to get it)? And yes, I had some friends say their boys were easier to train than girls, but overall the opinion was that girls were easier.
But, we found a few days that would work for us and we dove in (the picture below shows his attire at one point on Day 1). Honestly, I wasn’t motivated at all the first day and even griped a little to Ed about it. But, when Blake started to catch on, it was motivating and helped me have hope. He only had 2 accidents the first day (both were early in the morning as he was learning), and he was even going to the potty and sitting in between the timer going off. I would ask if he had to go and he would say no (and he wouldn’t go) or yes and go straight to the potty and use it. Day 2 was today and he did awesome! Two small accidents in the morning, but I set no timers and by the end of the day, he was coming up to me and telling me he had to potty, even if I was in a different room.
I seriously looked at Ed tonight and said “Was it that easy? Is he seriously trained?” Granted, there are a few things we have to work on, like him getting his underwear up and down by himself, and him going on the big potty and not just the small potty, but overall, he is trained and doing it all by himself. Go Blake Go! Thank you Lord for helping him to catch on – this tired momma and momma to be really needed that!
We pray you are enjoying the Christmas season and really getting to relax and rest in the true meaning of Christmas.
Warning and disclaimer…this post could be controversial, but please know that is not my heart and I support however people choose to do things for their family.
I was talking with a friend this weekend that has 3 kids – their oldest being 4. They are digging hard into the process of trying to decide whether to tell their kids about Santa or not, as in whether Santa is real or whether Santa isn’t real and just to focus on Jesus. It brought back so many memories for me, as just a few years ago Ed and I were in their boat and were praying, reading, talking, and thinking long and hard about what path we were going to choose to follow for our kids and family.
If you don’t have kids, or if you just did Santa without giving it much thought, let me just tell you: it is a real big deal in the Christian world and while we were processing this, most Christian families we knew were as well. Basically, it boiled down to this for us and many others we knew – Would telling our kids about Santa undermine the meaning of Christmas being about Jesus? Would our kids, once they found out Santa isn’t real, then begin to question whether Jesus wasn’t real, too and feel like we were lying to them? Would doing Santa cause us to parent focused on behavior and “being good” which is bribing instead of focusing on their hearts and first time obedience? Would our kids miss out on the magic of Christmas if we decided not to do it and would they tell their friends who do believe in Santa? I am sure there are WAY more, but these were the gist.
Again, there are lots of GREAT articles out there, lots of opinions from Christian parents who have gone before us in raising kids, lots of ways of doing or not doing Santa, but here is what we came to for our family. We loved Santa growing up and have so many great memories of Santa and neither of us felt our parents were lying to us, were devastated, or questioned the existence of Jesus when we found out Santa wasn’t real. I know this isn’t true for everyone but it was for us. We also felt that we could do Santa but yet not make him the focal point for Christmas, instead focusing on Christ. We also felt we could do Santa without focusing on the good/bad behavior and instead just have fun with him. And, my parents love Santa so we didn’t want to take that away from them. So, thats what we do.
We do The Advent Event as a family every year, which focuses on Christ and going through the Bible telling about Christ’s coming birth, we read a book often called “Why God Gave Us Christmas” which talks about Jesus AND Santa, but that Jesus is the reason for the season, not Santa, and we make sure to read the Christmas story many times throughout the season, including Christmas eve or Christmas morning, as well as attending a church service one of those times to focus on Christ. We do good things for others like baking cookies for our neighbors and Operation Christmas Child shoebox and we talk about why we love others, because Christ loved us and some people aren’t as fortunate as us. We let the kids play with the Little People nativity set and we talk through all the different characters. We do go see Santa, we do the Elf on the Shelf (which for us is more about a game of finding him rather than focusing on whether we have been good or bad and what he is telling Santa), we set out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas eve, we give our kids 1 or 2 gifts from Santa every year, we watch movies about Santa, and we wear Santa PJs. I am sure there are lots more, but these are what come to mind. For us, we didn’t feel it had to be an either/or, but it could be a both/and. And after spending lots of time processing with the Lord, we are okay in our decision and able to withstand any criticism people give us for not doing things the “right way” according to them.
But honestly, I get parents that come from both sides and we respect and value however parents choose to do Santa or not do Santa. My only suggestion: Do what you and your husband feel is right, after processing with the Lord, and not just what one side or the other tells you is right or wrong.
Because we do Santa, we decided to take the kids to Macys on 34th avenue for them to meet the “real” Santa and tell him what they wanted. We had heard that to go through Santa Land would be a massive wait, like 2 to 3 hours, but we felt like with it being the first year here, and with adding one more for next year, this was the year to do it (next year we may opt for the fast pass which takes WAY less time but bypasses Santa Land. While the wait was about 2.5 hours, the kids did awesome and it didn’t feel like that long. And afterwards, Kinsley said – “Mom, that was awesome and definitely worth the wait.” Wait to make my mommy heart faint, little one.
And, this Santa looks SOOO real! Blake even loved him and had to pulled away from him. We didn’t get a great picture of the 3 of them with Santa, but hey, it was more about the experience than the picture. And, I had a problem? Where do you put the 3rd kid when Santa only has two legs and both are being taken? I guess I need to figure that out before we add a 4th! Sweet Kinsley couldn’t stop telling him what she wanted – I guess that is what she had been doing during that long wait – rehearsing! Thanks Gammy for the cute, cute outfits!
After seeing Santa, we went to Rockefeller Center to see the big tree. It was so massive and fun to see in person, but ya’ll, NYC at Christmas time isn’t for the faint of heart – SO. MANY. PEOPLE. So, by the time, we finished here, we hit up Starbucks for a sweet treat and decided to call it a night.
We also had a chance to have breakfast with some Queens College leaders to do some reflecting from this semester and planning for next year and Ed helped throw the NYC Metro Christmas Party for students from all over NYC. They had a packed house at the party and tons of students got to clearly hear the Gospel. Here is a picture of the party:
Please pray for us as we finish out this semester – that we would finish well, still be able to connect with students, plan well for next semester, and students would sign up for our Winter Conference which is being held Dec 28-Jan 1. Also, please pray that the Lord would help us find the right church for us here in Queens and provide some Christian community outside of our team. Thanks for your prayers!