Behind Bars

Friends, I have so much to share in this post. But, first things first. Can you tell from my title what I am going to tell you?

YES, they caught the guy and the girl who stole my wallet!! A miracle, right? Two Wednesdays ago, I got an email in the middle of my mom’s group from the Queens County DA titled Order of Protection. At first, I wondered if it was a scam, but after reading, it was apparent that it was an order of protection protecting me from a guy named on the paper. I quickly forwarded to Ed, former police officer, and he said it seemed to him that it was indeed real and he thought they had arrested the guy who stole my wallet. I tried calling the detective to find out “Is this a normal thing or does this guy have a rap sheet and I need to be careful?” but he wasn’t supposed to be in until the weekend. Ed was on campus that night and I have to admit, I was a little jumpy. But, thankfully, I got a call from the detective the next day confirming that they had arrested a guy and a girl. He had an warrant out for his arrest from violating parole, had also stolen another lady’s wallet, and was at Rykers and would be going away for a long time. She posted bail and doesn’t have any priors. I am sooo impressed with the NYPD and I can’t believe they really arrested someone. So grateful they won’t be doing it to someone else.

We also had our first snow storm…in November!!!! Ahhh!  I hope its not an indication of the kind of winter it will be. The kids had a blast playing in the snow (they called for some flurries and it ended up being 3-5 inches!) and building a snowman with Ed when he came home from St. John’s.

I love our girls’ school for lots of reasons but one of them is what they do in November. Instead of a class party, they give the classes a choice of 4 charities and they let the class choose a charity that they will adopt. This year, they could choose between Ellie’s Hats (collecting hats to benefit kids that have cancer), Socks in the Box (collecting socks to benefit kids and adults living in homeless shelters), Adopt PS 446 (this is a school in Brooklyn that has over 25% of the kids bussed in from shelters all over the city – we collect coats, toiletries, food items, etc. for them), and Coalition for the Homeless (collecting toiletry items for the homeless).

Kinsley’s class chose to adopt PS 446 so we read a book about homelessness, wrote cards for the kids at the school, and are collecting items to send to them. Emerson’s class chose Ellie’s Hats, so we read a book about a tree being sick, losing his leaves, and needing medicine to make him better, wrote cards to the kids, and are collecting hats to send to them. I love that they focus on giving to others who need help or don’t have as much. Here is a picture of the card Emerson made.

One of our favorite things to do in the city in the winter is to go ice skating at Bryant Park. If you have your own skates (which we buy cheaply online), you can go for free!!  Here is a pic of our family at the rink the first time. Blake LOVES that he can actually skate this year. Brynn stood at the entrance to the rink the whole time, wishing she could join them.

Check out my pretty Thanksgiving nails I put on to celebrate courtesy of Color Street nails. I love them and we even had enough in one pack for me to do each of the girls.

Thanksgiving was very restful at our house and we had a great time eating with our friends and teammates. I think I literally watched the parade in my pajamas until 12. We debated about going to see the balloons the night before like we do every year and we even thought about going ice skating in Bryant Park during the parade so we could see the balloons floating by, but it was the second coldest Thanksgiving parade in NYC and we didn’t want to take Brynn out in that. So, we stayed in, stayed warm, and enjoyed it from our couch.

While I enjoyed the restful pace and the company of our friends, not being with a whole hoard of family is still hard for me. Growing up in a small town surrounded by lots of family, holidays ALWAYS remind me of big family gatherings and lots of fun. Yes, we could have driven or flown, but for various reasons, it just wasn’t in the cards for us this year. Thank goodness for FaceTime to make it a little easier, even if it doesn’t completely fill the void.

Black Friday in my book is normally known for shopping, but with online deals starting earlier, and being able to get most things online, and with NYC not being the easiest place to navigate with shopping, Black Friday became “put up Christmas” day in our family. Before we began decorating, I envisioned putting up decor together, smiles, goofing around, singing Christmas songs, and lots of fun. Let me just tell you…sometimes what we envision IS NOT reality.

Instead, it was lots of “don’t hang 3 ornaments on the same branch” or “Brynn, don’t touch that one…its very breakable” or “Ah man, who dropped the surfing Santa on the rug where dad stepped on him and broke him?” and lots of “Calm down and quit acting crazy”. Needless to say, our house is decorated, all our kids survived (and only a few ornament casualties and one that was saved by hot glue), and we all celebrated by watching our first Christmas movie of the season “The Polar Express”.

Tomorrow, Ed and I are speaking on a panel at our church and I am super, duper nervous. I am fighting all kinds of “I am not qualified” and “I have nothing to say thats worth hearing” thoughts tonight, so will you pray for us?  And thank you to Gina for bringing our kids home so we can stay for the other services…it takes a village and we are so grateful for our village!

Times Square, Karoake, and Lasagna!

I know, I know..Times Square, Karoake, and Lasagna have nothing to do with each other. But, they do describe different parts of our last few weeks. I wanted to share a few highlights through pictures, since pictures speak a thousand words.

Our students at St. John’s planned and executed an outreach on campus completely on their own!  Ya’ll, this is HUGE!! We dream that we can equip each of our movements and train the leaders to where they will plan, lead, and reach out on their campus all by themselves, leaving us to go and launch at new campuses. So, the fact that not only do we have students at St. John’s, but that they are planning and doing an outreach, nonetheless, on their own, is monumental. They packed up about 90 bags of candy and handed it out in exchange for students filling out a survey. For many of our students, this was the first time they were initiating conversation with strangers. I was so proud of the boldness and willingness to trust God to do something with this. We now have tons of new contacts to follow up with and hopefully share the Gospel with!

Then, this past week, all of NYC joined together at NYU for a night of fellowship, worship, and prayer – for their own lives, for this great city, and for the world. It was an hour trek from our students from Queens so we weren’t sure how many would come but 11 made the trek down together!  They prayed together, worshipped together, sat together, and then went to eat at Chick-fil-a together afterwards.

Then, on Monday after Veteran’s Day, the students didn’t have school, so they traveled down to our house and had fun playing games and hanging out. It also helped that we provided a delicious lasagna dinner…college students are always down for some home-cooked food!  Our kids also loved hanging out with them and we love that our kids get exposed to college students who love the Lord!

We traveled into Hells Kitchen for dinner with some friends and ministry partners that were in town. Because of it getting dark early, our kiddos asked if we could go see Times Square at night. Locals to NY (and I consider us this now!) HATE Times Square – like, I think all of them literally. But, they asked nicely and we like our kids to be reminded of this fun city we live in, so we ventured into the madness. And then, they asked nicely to go to the Disney Store, which we agreed to. So, this is our kids loving the Star Wars part of the Disney Store.

In the South, when you go for karoake, you go to a restaurant and you sing on a stage in front of tons of people. So, when I went to do karoake with some friends from my mom’s small group, I was so shocked that we had our own room and could sing at the top of our lungs and no one knew we were off key except those in our small room. It was so much fun!!  We also ate dinner at a Korean-style BBQ restaurant, which was so, so yummy and quite an experience. I am so grateful that there were women with us who spoke Korean and knew exactly what to order – it definitely made the experience much more enjoyable. I will be doing this again soon….so good!

I have some new developments in the case of my stolen wallet, but I am waiting to hear from the detective so I will share more soon!

Clean Bill of Health

This has been a full and fun past few weeks!  I will share some more pictures to tell you more about our last week, BUT before I do, I want to share about the clean bill of health we received.

As some of you know, Blake had a lot of problems in utero but then when he was born, they diagnosed him with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). which is essentially a hole in his heart. It wasn’t big enough to cause problems or require him to take medicine, but it did require an annual cardiologist appointment to make sure it wasn’t getting bigger. They were hopeful that it would eventually close on it’s own, but some kids live with these holes forever. Last year, at his appointment, they thought that maybe it was closed but they still heard vibrations and he wouldn’t sit still enough for the echo to tell for sure.

This year, he sat SO still and let them do a very thorough echo on his heart. Then, the doctor came back with the good news – the hole is officially closed!!  He still has an innocent heart murmur which is what the vibration is, but we are done with cardiology appointments!  Praise God for how he has continued to see Blake through all the medical stuff and that Blake is a healthy, happy little boy – he has come so far given all his medical issues! And we couldn’t imagine our family without him!

The rest of this pictures are a smorgasbord from Emerson’s birthday, Halloween, and fun times around the city while my mom was in town. Enjoy the MANY pictures (I am so impressed I have actually taken some)!!

This sassy, smart, friendly, overdramatic, excitement about everything in life little girl turned 6!  She wanted an oreo chocolate cake with Star Wars on top, so that is what she got!  She talked about her birthday for weeks before. We also took cupcakes to celebrate her in class.

For Halloween, we celebrated with pumpkin carving, Halloween parties in both girl’s classes, and trick-or-treating.

Ed carved the ghost and I carved Sleeping Beauty (I think thats who she is? I am out of practice with my princesses). Confession: This is my first time actually carving a pumpkin. Ed usually does them as one of us is usually doing the pumpkins and one of us is coraling the kids. This year, the kids helped us and played together so we could both do them. Ed was a little skeptical that I could do the princess since she was more intricate but look at that – she turned out pretty dang good. Go me!

I never got an actual picture on Halloween of the kid’s outfits but here are some separate ones we took the night before when they were trying on their outfits. Imagine the girl’s hair up like their characters and shoes on 🙂 . Another confession:  I have never even watched Star Wars and barely know the characters. Ed has introduced the kids to them, though, and they love all the movies and characters. They ask me questions about the movies and I just say “Ask your dad.” I guess one of these days I need to get on board?

On Halloween, the teachers at the school always dress together in one theme. One year it was the Minions from Despicable Me, last year it was Toy Story, and this year they were all bees. The head principal was the queen bee (she is missing her big blow-up butt she had on that morning) and the assistant principal was a beekeeper. So cute!

It was so fun that my mom was here this year to experience Halloween in Forest Hills, It is so insane and I can’t describe to people how much this is true. Adults dress up as much as kids, adults give out big goody bags to trick-or-treaters, houses decorate more than they do for Christmas, and lines on Burns Street to get candy are so long. People come from all over the city to go trick-or-treating on Burns Street – this year, even Neil Patrick Harris and his kids were there. Here is a picture of a house that was decorated on Burns Street.

We took my mom to the NY Hall of Science for the “free hours” and had a great time. Here are some pictures of the kids enjoying it!  My favorite part are the magic mirrors that make you tall, short, skinny, fat, etc. I took a picture of the skinny mirror for motivation in weight-loss 😉

Then, over the weekend, we traveled to Brooklyn to let my mom see the amazing view in Dumbo and near Brooklyn Bridge park, to let the kids play at Pirate park, to take our Christmas picture, and to let the kids ride the carousel. They had a great time playing, but their favorite part was visiting Jacques Torres. They like to watch “Nailed It” on Netflix, and Jacques Torres is one of the judges on the show. They loved getting to see his bakery and enjoy HUGE, WARM chocolate chip cookies. I tried the “famous” hot chocolate and I couldn’t drink very much, because it tasted like drinking straight dark chocolate. The cookies, however, were delicious.

She is all about squinting when we say to smile. Hoping its a phase 🙂

My mom flew home yesterday and while family leaving is usually really hard for the kids, it helped them to know that she will be back for Christmas and that isn’t far away. Isn’t that crazy?!?!? My favorite part of the year is right now…why, you may ask?  BLACK FRIDAY ADS!!  Thats another post for another day….