Let It Snow!

I love Christmastime for so many reasons. Celebrating Jesus’ birth, focusing on Advent and Jesus’ past coming, present coming, and future coming. Picking out presents for people and blessing them during this time of year. The excitement of the weather getting colder. Christmas lights. Christmas traditions. I could go on and on. This week, there were a lot of reasons why I love Christmas time.

1-Special Parties and Concerts –

We had our staff Christmas party which capped off our team planning during which we planned for next semester on campus. We had a great time eating at a nice restaurant, playing games, and exchanging gifts. It was full of fun and laughs! We absolutely love our Queens Cru Staff Team. We have been on teams before with bad staff teams, so we absolutely know what a huge blessing this is.

We also had dinner out as a Christmas party with our church small group. We love this group of friends (missing the guys below) and are loving learning about the Bible, praying for each other, and getting to know each other. The food at the restaurant was so good (Queens Bully), and we were selected by the manager as her table of the night to provide free dessert for. We were full, but when you get offered free dessert, yes please.

Both of the girls had winter concerts at their schools. It is different from us to be in a place that has so many other religions and cultural groups and one of the different things is that they don’t talk about Christmas, Jesus, or Santa in school or around the neighborhood. So, instead of a Christmas concert with spiritual songs and Santa songs (like in the South), they sang Hanukkah songs and songs about snowmen.

2. Celebrating and focusing on Jesus’ birth – We do “The Advent Event” with our kiddos and it is so fun to see them walking through the Bible and learning about the storyline of the Bible leading up to Jesus’ birth. Our church throws this huge party for the kids every Christmas called a birthday party for Jesus. The kids love singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, jumping in inflatables, and enjoying extra special birthday treats.

3 – Enjoying our first snow of the season – We love that we actually get cold weather here and that we get to enjoy snow. Turns out, most of our family LOVES the white stuff and enjoys playing in it, running errands in it, and watching it come down. Usually, in NYC, the snow doesn’t start until the end of December/January, so we were shocked when it snowed three times this past week – accumulating multiple inches each time. One of those times we were out running errands in it, one of those times we were walking to school in it, and a few of those times we didn’t even know it was going to happen.

This picture is from an area in Forest Hills (this isn’t our area as we live near a bunch of tall buildings and no houses) on the way to the girls’ school called Forest Hills Gardens. It has these beautiful multi-million dollar houses. While we could never afford living there, we love looking at them, especially during the snowfall.

4 – Visiting Santa and going ice skating with a Christmas tree in the background – This weekend, we ran into the city to go ice skating and to visit Santa. It was fun watching the Ed and the girls skate with a big Christmas tree in the background.

Last year, we visited Santa at Macy’s and while it was fun, it was a multiple-hour process. This year, we took some friend’s advice and went to see Santa at Bloomingdales. It was fabulous!!  It was so quick (in and out in 15 minutes), Santa looked so real, they let you take your own picture, and not only did he ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas, he also took the time to sing Jingle Bells with them. Thankfully, none of our kids were scared and Blake couldn’t get enough of him. It was so sweet.  Kinsley doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, but its funny – I think she is having more fun pretending for the little kids. 

5 – Watching Christmas movies – Ed and I love Christmas movies and we love getting to share them with our kids. Our kids favorites right now are Home Alone and The Polar Express. This weekend, we let them eat dinner on the floor while they watched a Christmas movie. They will miss them when Christmas is over!

I pray you are enjoying this Christmas season as much as we are!


Our Week in Pictures

This week has been super fun, super full, and super LONG. I thought the best way to share would be to show you in pictures. Here goes (and stay tuned to the end for the ultimate incident to top it all off)!

The week started out pretty slow – normal school stuff, the last few days on campus, and so forth. Then, we had our Queens student Christmas party at our apartment…it was fun to have the students and one of our faculty advisors over to fellowship with and to say thank you. Rich, one of our students at Queens College, picked up Brynn and we were shocked when she didn’t cry (she is dealing with major stranger anxiety right now) and even liked him!

This little one turned 10 months old this week!  She is crawling, pulling up, cruising, eating everything she can get her hands on (food and non-food), and loves to follow me around and hang on to me. You know that comment about eating everything? One evening, she got into the fridge while I was fixing dinner. I was happy that she wasn’t hanging on to me and was distracted, so I just let her be. When I came around the corner, this is what I found. She pulled out the cheese, dumped it out, and started chowing down. I guess this is what has to happen when you are the fourth kid 🙂

She has also taken a few steps and now she is doing this – CLIMBING. She has climbed up on the stool quite a few times and tried to reach things. If she survives without killing herself, it will be a miracle.

On Thursday nights, we lead a small group at our house with others from our church. We are loving our group and loving having community with others from our church. This past week, Ed had sound practice so I had to tackle the kids by myself and get them to bed during small group. So, I let them watch a little TV. I love sweet moments when I see them doing this.

Friday night, Ed and I went on a date night thanks to our super sweet friend, Marie, who offered to love on our kiddos for the weekend. Not only were we so grateful to get a break and get to catch up on life, but she didn’t disown our family when Kinsley threw a major tantrum because she was exhausted and wasn’t getting her way. Bless Marie’s sweet heart.

What did we do for our date? A carriage ride through Central Park (courtesy of the women in my family who graciously gave us money for a date night when they were here back in May), shopping at the Columbus Circle Christmas market, dessert at Schmakerys, and dinner at Five Napkin burger. The carriage ride was a bucket list item for me and it did not disappoint. We decided to wait until the winter when we could wear winter hats, curl up under the blanket, and enjoy the Christmas lights. We learned that over 1000 movies have been filmed in Central Park – I learn new things about how influential and important this city is every.single.day. We bought Christmas cookie mixes for teachers’ gifts (because even on dates we can’t stop being parents 🙂 ), and had some delicious food.

Saturday, we spent the day enjoying our first snow of the season – including walking back almost a mile back from the grocery store in the snow! The kids LOVED getting to sled and make snow angels and, in Blake’s case, eat the snow. While we loved watching the snow, walking to church today and trying not to slip on the ice was not so fun.

This picture was taken after it just started snowing, but pretty isn’t it?

This picture was taken near our grocery store. They were doing pictures with Santa, complete with Mrs. Claus making balloon animals, an elf on roller skates, and an elf on stilts. You just never know what you will see here. Just sayin’.

And the big drama this week is brought to you by Emerson. Ed was running the sound today at our church which means he is gone from about 7:30 until 3:30 (our church has three services). I took the kids to the first service and after arriving home, we played for a while before I went to fix lunch. While fixing lunch, Emerson hops into the kitchen screaming that her toe was hurt and that it was bleeding. Man, it was bleeding!!  After getting the bleeding to calm down a little, I saw that is was pretty deeply cut in between two of her toes.

While I am not a medical professional, I had a feeling it was deep enough that it would need stitches, especially being in between her toes where it would keep splitting open. So, I called out an SOS to Ed and asked if he could come home early. I knew that Emerson couldn’t walk to Urgent Care and that there is no way I could take all the kids during lunch time and nap time to Urgent Care to sit while she got stitches. Long story short, while Ed didn’t think he would be able to come home early, he was able to and she ended up having to get 3 stitches.

I was pretty sad that she had to get stitches but pretty proud of the fact that of the 3 times I have ever called an SOS to Ed to leave what he was doing for an emergency, it has turned out to be a true emergency – Kinsley ended up in the hospital for breathing, Emerson broke her arm, and Emerson had to get stitches. Yes, hubby, I do know what emergency means 🙂

Can you pray for her? It was hurting her pretty bad tonight and not only does she have to go and walk around school on it tomorrow, but she will have to walk/ride on the train to get to a dermatologist appointment tomorrow for them to look at this spot on her head that needs treatment? I tell ya, don’t ever say we don’t add variety in our lives 🙂


Highs and Lows

One popular icebreaker that we like to do with our college students is something called “Highs and Lows”. Every week, or even just once, we like for them to share “What was a high thing (or something that was fun or made you happy this week” and “What was a low thing (or something that was sad or made you upset this week”.  We love that it gives a glimpse into their week and also what makes them happy and/or sad. So, this week, I am going to share my highs and lows. Lets start with the highs…

HIGH – Really good time with family and friends

As I was thinking back through this week, I realized how much good quality time I have had with good friends and our little family. Last Tuesday, a dear friend of mine and her mom came and picked me up in their CAR (as in, they drove out of their way, brought an extra car seat, helped me get Brynn’s car seat in, and away we went) and we drove out to Long Island to go to Ikea and Chick-fil-a. Not only was it fun to get out of the city for half a day, but I also got to buy the train set we have been eyeing for Blake’s birthday. We weren’t sure how we were going to get it since Ikea is either a 1.5 hour trek on the train or a rent car/pay $50 for an Uber one-way kind of trip. So, this was a huge blessing and not to mention, we had a great time and I love her company. And Blake loved being able to run around Ikea with a boy friend his age!

Then, I had a fun play date with a new mom. We have been trying to arrange it for months, and it finally worked out for us to get together. We met at the park and even though it was technically our first time getting together, conversation flowed smoothly and it was really fun.

Then, we had great family time this weekend (even though it was filled with lots of fighting amongst siblings) watching a Christmas movie, starting our Advent Event Christmas activity, playing at the park, and just staying around Forest Hills.

Saturday during the day, we had a birthday party for our friend and faculty advisor at St. John’s. Her son was turning 2 and we visited their apartment for the first time to celebrate with them. It was a little crazy with so many kids in an apartment, but it was super fun to see the kids have a great time and to meet some of her other friends, one of which also has 4 kids which is abnormal for this city.

Saturday night, I got to go and celebrate the birthday of one of my friends and teammates. It was super fun to meet some of her friends from Texas who were in town, to try out a well-known pizza place in Little Italy, and to just have fun “with the girls” with no kiddos around.

Then, Sunday night, one of my really good friends came over to hang out with our family, eat dinner with us, and to help Ed and I wrap gifts. Because we are wrapping gifts from both sets of grandparents and us, it was a lot! We had a great time watching a Christmas movie, talking about life and fun things, and wrapping as fast as our hands could go. And, I think I am only 3 gifts away from being done with Christmas shopping – REJOICE!

This week is just such a fun and gracious reminder to me from the Lord that even though I sometimes feel I am lonely here and even though I am far from family, I am so richly blessed with great friendships, especially considering we have only been here a year. So thankful for great friendships where i live.

HIGH – Kinsley lost another tooth!  Ya’ll, this tooth has been loose for 5 months and she has refused to wiggle it and get it out because she is so scared of it hurting, even despite losing 2 already and having survived those. I thought that we would have less drama with each tooth we are losing, but the opposite has actually happened. She finally decided to get it out when I promised her that she could get this book and pen she wanted from her school’s Scholastic book order – see, sometimes bribing isn’t bad parenting 😉 Her other front top tooth is loose – who wants to make a bet for how it will take for that one to come out?

LOW – Getting off track with Weight Watchers and working out

Ya’ll, I had been doing so, so good. I had been sticking to my eating plan, working out regularly, back to running, and had lost a little over 12 pounds and pretty much moved down a size in pants.

Then, Thanksgiving. I had planned that I would give myself freedom that day not to track what I ate and to basically do whatever I wanted. The problem? I didn’t stop there. It continued the next day, and into the weekend, and then we had to finish the cake and pie, and then it was something else. And now, a week and half after Thanksgiving, I am struggling to get it together. I am seriously so, so weak. I lack greatly in self-control in so many areas – going to bed at a decent time, eating well, working out, spending time with Jesus – ugh. But I am determined that this week is going to be better – AND, I am going to turn to Jesus for help instead of trying to do it all in my own power.

My friend texted me this morning and knowing she has been struggling too, encouraged me to join with her today to get it together. And thats what I am going to do, with the Lord’s help. Will you pray that for me? Feel free to check up on it with me and if you see me, to knock the bad foods out of my hand or tell me to quit texting or messaging you late at night. Please and thank you. 🙂