5 Things I Am Loving

In the past, I have done a post occasionally called “5 Things I Am Loving This Week.” ¬†I love reading this post when other bloggers do it, so I was inspired to do it again myself. And honestly, as I shared last week, with things being so hard here lately for me, it is really good for me to focus on just what I am thankful for (and for the record, I am doing okay and this week is going much better – Ed said my last post sounded a little extreme and like I was nosediving ūüôā )

1 – Our Pediatric Dentist Here in NYC –

Ya’ll, it’s no secret that Kinsley is drama…she knows it, we know it, everyone knows it. When you mention the dentist to her, the waterworks start. She hasn’t had a horrible experience cleaning her teeth, but the last few times the dentist has tried to get x-rays from her (and specifically put the bite piece in the back of the mouth), our drama queen with bad gagging reflex has freaked out. ¬†So needless to say, any mention of the dentist brings huge waterworks.

We switched to a dentist here in Forest Hills (actually in the basement of a neighboring building which means it is super close and even better!) who we had heard amazing things about. When we got to the appointment, the tears had already begun and she literally tried to bolt out the door 3 times. But, this dentist was AMAZING and showed her everything she would use on her teeth on her hand first so she would know it wouldn’t hurt, and when it came time for xrays, they have updated technology that just needs her to bite down on something in the front and then it scans her whole head. ¬†No more biting a piece in the back. ¬†She left the dentist so elated and saying she loved the dentist, asking when she was coming back, and saying she never wanted to leave NYC because of this dentist.

And even more fun, she has a loose tooth (which she has been patiently waiting for months for after seeing classmates lose them) and the xray showed which teeth were coming in next and will be loose. We have to wiggle her loose tooth at least 50 times a day (and I am totally not exaggerating – can you see where she gets her drama from?!?).

2 – Motivated Moms Chore Planner

I know I have raved about this chore planner in the past as I have been using it many years, but I seriously LOVE this thing still. ¬†I heard about it through MoneySavingMom.Com, downloaded the printable, and use it every day. ¬†Why do I love it? I can check off what I have done that day and feel like I accomplishing something, my whole house gets clean throughout the week without me spending 3-4 hours in a row each week doing it (time I don’t have), someone could pop into my house to see us unexpectedly and I feel like my house is in good enough condition to let them enter, it reminds me to do things that I always forget like dust my light in the dining room or hallway, I remember to do things that should be done regularly but always seem to be forgotten about for weeks at a time (like changing the hand towels), and the list could go on and on and on.

Seriously, if you are struggling to stay on top of cleaning your house or looking for an easy chore planner, get this thing!

3 – Aldi and Amazon

I am such a mom in NYC. ¬†While I still love me some Target and Michaels, these stores have become lifesavers for me in NYC. ¬†Aldi is only a subway stop away and while I loved Aldi before, when I see that their prices are comparable to North Carolina prices instead of the ridiculous NYC grocery store prices, I love it even more. ¬†Seriously, they were out of cornstarch at Aldi for 1.09 so I paid $3.99 for it at our neighborhood market. ¬†Aldi has allowed us to save SO much on our grocery prices and I think the food tastes comparable to name brand stuff (some things taste different but you just have to figure out what you like and don’t like). ¬†Aldi questions? ¬†Ask me – I love this place!

And Amazon – oh, dear, sweet Amazon. ¬†I LOVE Prime with two day shipping because it often means I can get things way quicker and with way less effort than anywhere else – and the prices at Amazon are pretty comparable to other stores. ¬†Seriously, I can get groceries, house supplies, birthday gifts, and all other kinds of random things in one shopping trip from my living room. ¬†And I love that they are quick and their return policy is up to par. ¬†Just last week, we ordered a PH test for our fish tank and when we got it, it didn’t have the color card inside for us to know what is high and what is low. ¬†We called them, and instead of paying to ship it back, they just said keep it and sent us another one. We bought a jacket for Blake that was supposed to be size 2T and when we received it, the tag said 2T but the jacket inside said 3T and was way too big. ¬†We contacted Amazon, they contacted the seller/manufacturer, and once we sent proof that the tag and jacket said different things, they refunded our money and told us to keep the jacket. ¬†Seriously, such great customer service. ¬†Only problem, things are way too easy to order from there…I can get in some major trouble ūüôā

4.  Worshipping with different Cultures

In our search for a body of believers to worship and serve with, we have seen quite a few different kinds of churches. ¬†While most churches in Queens have diversity, New Life Fellowship, where we have been attending more regularly, has MAJOR diversity. ¬†As we worshipped there this past Sunday, I was brought to tears looking at the multiethnic and diverse choir and church body and singing a song worshipping the name of Jesus. ¬†I looked over at Ed with tears in my eyes and said “This is what heaven will be like.” All nations, peoples, tribes, languages in front of Jesus singing praises to Him alone. ¬†While there are definitely challenges to living in a place that is so diverse, this is not one of them. I wish I had taken a picture or video just to show you a little taste of heaven here on earth.

5.  NYC Picture

Last week, our leadership team from the Northeast traveled down from Boston to meet with the NYC staff.  They did some equipping, some strategic planning, and mostly just encouraged us.  It was really, really encouraging for us to have someone care for us well and to tell us that not only is transitioning to the city hard, but ministry and life in NYC are hard, and while they are trusting the Lord to use us to make an impact, there is so much grace and if we just survive and move toward thriving in our first year here, we are doing well.

They also brought us yummy treats and gave us this special treasure of a picture.

It is a framed picture of an old map of NYC and Long Island.  We have it now hanging in our living room and I love this reminder of what we are trusting the Lord for Рthat the Lord will use us and our team here to make His name known throughout this whole area, and that as that is done, our nation and the world will be changed for His glory.  I seriously love this sweet, sweet gift.  Thank you LD team and our national directors!

That is the end of my 5 things! But, I mentioned last week that Blue Bloods would be filming in our neighborhood and being that I am a resident but seeing celebrities hasn’t become commonplace to me yet, I went to check it out. ¬†They were filming in a house about 20-30 walk from us (and with the kids and me being extra pregnant and it raining – I didn’t want to do the walking work) but they were changing and leaving from the site that was about a block from us. ¬†We did manage to see a few celebrities traveling to the shoot – Danny Reagan’s son, Jack, Danny Reagan himself (better known as Donny Whalberg), and Danny’s wife in the show. ¬†I think the house they were filming at is their family house in the show. ¬†Here are a few pictures just so you know I am telling the truth ūüėČ

So fun and so crazy! ¬†This afternoon, I am headed to the hospital to get my bloodwork and check-in stuff done for the hospital for baby girl’s arrival. ¬†Crazy she will be here in 12 days, if not earlier (and probably not earlier because all my babies are too comfortable in this womb of mine and lets be honest, I wouldn’t come out if I heard all the crazy happening out here with our family either)!

Choosing Thankfulness

I never want this blog to be a place where you see the pretty pictures or hear about all the things we are doing and think “Man, there life is going great and is so perfect.” So, can I be honest? ¬†The last few weeks have been hard. ¬†Like really hard. ¬†There are lots of things that have made it this way – being 9 months pregnant being the biggest part of it. ¬†I have been so tired and have longed to just get in my car and drive around (especially when it is snowing or raining) instead of exerting all the effort of walking. ¬†I long to just send the kids outside instead of exerting all the effort of getting them ready and walking them to the park. ¬†I long to be able to go out for coffee or dinner with a few girlfriends or experience deep fellowship with believers that aren’t on our staff team. ¬†I long to walk into our church and feel greeted by and known by so many people who care about me and really push each other to love Christ and others more.

Granted, we knew from just going overseas on missions tripss that we would hit this point. At first, you love everything about your new location and culture. Then, you hate it and long so deeply to be back home. ¬†And then, after a while, it becomes your new normal and you love it in such a deeper way. ¬†The last few weeks have been spent in the middle part for me. ¬†While I don’t feel like I have been complaining outwardly, I have caught myself many times thinking “Why are we doing this? ¬†This is miserable and I just want to go home.”

Ministry has going great, but with the lull of school being out for Christmas and not starting until a few weeks in January (Ed had winter conference with the students after Christmas but I stayed behind because of how far along I was in pregnancy), we have been having lots of meetings, doing a lot of work planning for the summer project that Ed will be helping to lead here, doing lots of administrative tasks, and having lots of planning for this semester. ¬†All of these are good things and greatly needed, but we so long for students to return and to interact with them. ¬†We long for structure and routine, things that we aren’t promised and shouldn’t put our hope in. ¬†We long to make deep relationships with those in our neighborhoods and our kids schools, though winter makes it hard to do this because everyone stays cooped up or just goes to and fro without chatting or interacting. We so desire to be used by the Lord to make a difference here where the need is SO in your face.

But God. God has been so faithful to encourage us – through our team, through a few friends we have here, and through numerous texts and emails we have received from friends, family, and ministry partners just letting us know God put us on their heart to pray for and asking how we are doing. ¬†So. Stinkin’. Encouraging. ¬†God also gave us some clarity that we have been desperately praying for about where we should go to church (this isn’t 100% decided but we feel more settled in where we are leaning). ¬†God has allowed us to develop relationships with a few new believers, as well as a few people in our apartment complex, with the hope of getting to know them and having significant spiritual conversations with them. ¬†Every time I question why we are here, God allows me to really see those around us and be reminded of the great need here, to be reminded of how influential this city is in this country and the world, and find things to be thankful for.

And this weekend. ¬†This weekend was such a gift for our family as Ed was finally home and done with traveling and we got to just enjoy the city and each other in a way that we haven’t in a while, even with the cold. ¬†So here are a few pictures to show you our weekend and a few things that I am thankful for/love about the city.

We love our “high-rise” apartment that looks out to many different directions. ¬†We get to see so much and it satisfies my curiosity gene. ¬†This day, there was a 4 car accident that had traffic WAY backed up, so what do we do? ¬†Get the binoculars and watch the action, of course! ¬†This makes being cooped in your apartment way more fun.

This little man. He has so much personality but he is so sweet. He is constantly making our family laugh and this day was no exception.

Watching our kids actually get along and enjoy each other.  These days, there has been lots of fighting between the girls and even Blake at times, so this rare moment of seeing them laying down together to watch a movie was a God send.  Thankful for all 3 of these sweet kiddos.

At church this past Sunday, Blake’s class learned about Jesus making the deaf man hear. So they made these ear headbands as their craft. Too cute. We are thankful to have found a church (At least we think we have!) that our kids love going to and where they are learning about Jesus and doing fun things to cement those lessons in their mind. ¬†There are only a handful of churches in Queens and most are 45 minutes away. ¬†So, after visiting quite a few of them and not finding a perfect fit (is there such a thing?!?), we were really discouraged. ¬†We spent lots of time in prayer, evaluating what we were looking for and valued, and are hopeful that we have landed somewhere that we can grow and serve.

So thankful for this man and the great father He is. When he is home, he is super helpful, not only with the kids but also with me. He loves to serve others and he does it so well with our family.  Glad to be on this adventure with him.

Before Brynn arrives, we took the girls ice skating in Manhattan, something they have been begging to do. ¬†Technically, Ed took them, since I am way too pregnant to be doing that mess, but I chased after Blake and took pictures, which was almost as strenuous. ūüôā ¬†The girls LOVED it and are now asking when they can go back. ¬†We were thankful that the rink wasn’t too busy as the city has virtually cleared out since Christmas and New Years are over (they say these 6 weeks are the most dead in NYC and the best time to visit). Ice skating is not something we got to do a lot in the South (actually I don’t know if ever unless we were in the mountains), so we love that this is a perk of living here. ¬†Then, we walked to Chick-fil-a and enjoyed a “southern” meal while watching the people outside. Both girls said (as we sat next to each other in front of the window because this Chick-fil-A is tiny and doesn’t have actual tables) that they love the city, which makes my homesick heart happy. ¬†I had to agree that while I do have my moments, I do love this city and ALL the people in it.

As overwhelmed as I feel about adding a 4th child, I am excited to meet her and love that the girls are so excited about her arrival.  Kinsley is counting down the days and we even made a paper link tonight to use to count down.  So thankful for the joy that Brynn has already brought to our family.

And lastly, this sign in our neighborhood today made me happy.  We only live a few blocks from where this was hanging and we walk by this spot everyday taking Emerson to and from school.  We also love Blue Bloods, so I was thrilled to see what show they were filming.  Another reason I love NYC Рyou never know what will happen in your neighborhood.

While things are still hard and I am still feeling homesick and alone in a strange new world, I am so grateful to God for helping me find things to be thankful for. ¬†This is no little thing and I am reminded of what a huge difference it makes to take my eyes off of myself and lift them to heaven. ¬†Thank you Lord for NYC, for calling us to a place where people and students so desperately need to hear YOUR name, and for allowing us to trust you in a whole new way as we realize that we don’t need comforts, pleasures, friends, or ease….we only need You!

 

Our Week in Pictures

For once, I actually took lots of pictures this week. ¬†So, instead of writing this long, lengthy blog post….I thought I would show you pictures instead and just narrate.

 

We had our first big snow of the season!! ¬†It was the same snowstorm that moved across the south, and at first we were only supposed to get 1 inch. ¬†Then, they moved it to 2-4 inches and in the end, we got way more than that. ¬†I am not sure how much accumulated but it was a lot! ¬†And, it was soft, powdery snow…no ice!

Ed was out of town doing training for leading the summer project here in NYC this summer, so he missed it, which was sad. ¬†I really don’t like snow and much prefer to let him take the kids out since he loves it, but being that option wasn’t available, I took one for the team, got everyone ready, and we made memories in the snow. ¬†First picture shows the three kids in our building getting ready to head out…notice our oldest (who is just like her mommy) didn’t want to play in it and just wanted to watch from inside) doesn’t have snow gear on. ¬†After a few minutes watching her siblings play, she changed her tune and decided she wanted to brave it. ¬†So, we all went upstairs, got her gear on, put the gear back on from the kids who had undressed while she was dressing, and headed back out again. ¬†The kids had a blast and I literally had to carry Blake back inside because he wanted to stay out. ¬†Shew, its a lot of work!

The bottom picture is from our kitchen window looking out into our neighborhood and shows how much snow we had gotten (and it kept snowing after this!). ¬†Craziest part, nothing shuts down! ¬†Food is still delivered, stores are still open, subways and trains still run, cars still drive, people still walk…..totally different from the South ūüôā

We got fish! ¬†I don’t know why we feel this desire to get a new pet before we have a new baby (we got Bruno a few months before Blake was born), but we have been promising the girls we would get them fish when we got to NYC because we had to give Bruno away before we moved. ¬†So, in true Kinsley form, she hadn’t forgotten, and we finally owned up to our part of the bargain. ¬†Ya’ll, fish is a whole new world for me. ¬†Ed had fish growing up, but I didn’t, and I had no idea all that it cost or all that goes into it. ¬†Since this photo was taken, we have lost three fish – one angelfish who fins were all torn up, one guppie whose tail was basically missing, and one dalmation molly who was chasing the angelfish and we are pretty sure tore up the fins of the first two. ¬†As if we don’t have enough drama and craziness in our household, now we are testing water quality and buying more fish in hopes they don’t die or attack each other too. ¬†Sigh.

Now that potty training is complete, we moved little man to his toddler bed to free up the crib for Brynn. ¬†Yes, she won’t be in it for a little while, but in true April fashion, why wait for a transition when it is looming in the future and you can do it now? ¬†He has done great in his big boy bed and is so proud of himself every single time he wakes up from it. ¬†I am loving Brynn’s bedding, and it matches Blake’s since he has blue and grey elephants.

This little guy turned 2 yesterday!! ¬†So, so crazy to think he is in the terrible two’s (though the three’s are more terrible in my opinion)! ¬†Though he still has the VSD hole in his heart, it is crazy to think about the wild pregnancy and the maze of complications he has had even since being born (RSV In hospital, breathing issues, hole in his heart, etc.) and to think he is a happy, healthy, thriving 2 year old. ¬†We had fun celebrating his birthday with a very small and low-key celebration of cake, ice cream, and presents with a few close friends. ¬†He picked out his cake, which was similar to last year’s, but the boy LOVES cars of all kinds – race cars, ambulances, fire trucks, big trucks, etc., so no surprise he would want that on a cake.

He knew exactly what to do to blow out the candles (even though his sweet little blow didn’t even get close to blowing out the fire) and wanted no help opening his gifts. He got all kinds of fun boy things from capes to a fireman outfit to action figures to puzzles that make sounds to train racers. ¬†He even got a little step stool that will enable him to see out the window and find the sirens without killing himself climbing up in the process. ¬†Boy, the sirens never get old to him.

He is so very sweet and loves to give hugs and kisses. ¬†He is a ham and loves to make people laugh and his laugh is still infectious. ¬†He is busy, rough, tough, and tumble and loves balls, cars, trains, planes, boats, lawn mowers, etc. ¬†He loves his sisters dearly and can’t wait to pick them up for school, play with them, or say good night and good morning to them. He definitely makes my heart melt with his sweet personality and his big cheeks – in fact, as we have had to start disciplining, I have struggled a little. ūüôĀ ¬†I pray that he continues to be sweet, loving, but yet also full of personality and tough. ¬†I also pray he grows up to love the Lord and others well, serving Him for the rest of his life. ¬†I also pray that you grow up to be a man of integrity who leads your family and others well. ¬†Our lives wouldn’t be the same without you little man!

Less than 4 weeks and our lives will be changing in another big way!  So crazy it is getting so close!