My Favorite Things

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that I occasionally do posts titled “My Favorite Things” sharing 5 things I am loving right now. In the past, I have raved about the book “Present Over Perfect”, Dateboxes with Ed, puzzles, Black Friday ads, having a laundry room in our basement (which we don’t have anymore and I miss 🙁 ), Halo Top ice cream, Motivated Mom’s Chore Planner, Kanki Japanese Restaurant, and so much more. The last time I did a post like this was almost a year ago, so I decided it was time to take it back to the old school. So, without further ado, here is my list….

1. the Babbel language app – I took Spanish classes in high school, college, and tried the website Duo Lingo, but even with all of this, I am far from fluent. So, my goal this year, is to become fluent in Spanish (which I mentioned in my goals post a few weeks ago). A money saving website I follow raved about this app and the best part? They were having a great 6-month sale. Well, after doing it for about 6 months, I am still loving it and I am learning so much. I definitely wouldn’t say I am fluent and I for sure need more in person practice, but I am getting so much closer than I have been before. They do all kinds of languages, so if you love learning languages, I highly recommend!! Like I said, I have seen them run sales twice now, so I think you could wait for that and get 6 months for $31…which is great for a paid language app!

2. Mercari – This is another app that I have found myself using a ton. After moving to NYC, I quickly discovered how hard it is to sell and buy second-hand and used items here. For one, getting to places to pick things up is more complicated and is often not worth the discount you get versus ordering full price and delivering to your door. Second, for me, if I am going to travel 30-45 minutes to pick up something, I want to know it is in great shape, and unfortunately, a lot of the things I have bought second-hand here aren’t, which discourages me from continuing to do that. Third, consignment shops are almost non-existent here. Fourth, people do Craigs List for big items, but for buying small items, it isn’t worth listing.

So, I found this app that someone had recommended which works similar to Craigs List and sells small things (and big things) from all around the country. You can make an offer on items, ask questions, get more pictures, and after you buy, you have to confirm that the item is in good shape before you are stuck with a final sale. So, if something isn’t in great shape, you can return it free of charge to the seller. Plus, you always have to rate the buyer (and the seller) after purchases, so you know how trustworthy the people are you are buying from. I have bought lots of kids shoes and clothes from the website and have never had a problem – most things are good as new!

3. Ramen – Sure, I had ramen noodles as a pour college student, but until moving to NYC, I had never had real, authentic Japanese ramen. Let me just tell you, it is soooo good!  There is a restaurant in NYC named Ippudo that has the best ramen I have ever tried. If you haven’t tried real ramen, you are missing out!

4. Plan to Eat menu planning service – Again, another app (well, its a website too) – whoa, I usually am not all about apps, but it is working out that way this time. A friend told me about this at our Baltimore Winter Conference – actually, while we were waiting for students to start coming in to register them for housing, she jumped online, planned her whole menu for the week when they returned, and had a whole shopping list made for the store. I was so impressed.

So, I began thinking, how great would it be if most of my menus were online, I could list out our menu plan for the whole week no matter where I was (even if I didn’t have my recipe book), Ed could log in to see recipes and the menu plan too, and I had a whole shopping list being automatically made as I listed out what recipe I wanted for each night. And, if I sent him to the store for some last minute things, he could just pull up the shopping list to see what we needed. I have been doing it for 3-4 weeks now and I LOVE it! I love that I can be anywhere and pull up to see what I am having that night. I love that I have forgotten way less things from the grocery store for menus because they automatically list everything. I love that I can even separate my shopping list into different stores so I know what I need from each store. I love that I can pull up the recipes with a click of my finger and if I needed to change and add a recipe while I was out and didn’t have the actual recipe, I could pull it up on Plan to Eat and buy what I needed. I love that as I find recipes I like online, I can just import then and then add to my week without having to retype everything or pull up the website. It is fabulous!  And while it does cost, again, I got a great deal on it which made it reasonable enough for me. Thanks Kiley for recommending it!!

5. Pediatric Urgent Care in NYC – Emerson is going to make all of my brown hairs turn grey. Seriously, this kid just now turned six and has already had a broken foot, broken arm, stitches in her toe, and now, add to that, stitches in her eye. Whew!

In NC, when our kids would have needed stitches, we had to go to an adult urgent care or go the children’s hospital. Here, we have an amazing pediatric urgent care that is open 12 pm-12 am (which is amazing considering most things happen with kids after the doctor’s office closes). They are great with the kids, they are quick, and they know what they are doing. I seriously think every one of our kids has been at least once.

So, when Emerson had a ugly encounter with our TV stand this past week, the pediatric urgent care came to our rescue! Here was her nasty cut before 3 stitches.

This kid. She is totally following the whole second-child stereotype. I don’t know if I am going to make it..haha.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite things right now. I would LOVE to hear about those things that you are loving, that are making your life easier or more efficient (outside of Marie Kundo), or that I should absolutely try or include in my life. Leave suggestions!!

Small World in a Big City

Ed and I have been married for over 13 years, have been involved in ministry for 11 years, and have been a part of about 5 different churches (basically one in each city we have lived in). We have been involved in various small groups throughout the years and have loved them all for different reasons. However, moving to NYC, people kept telling us how hard it was to find true authentic community here: “people are too busy”, “people stick to themselves”, “people don’t have much space in their homes to host people”. While we have found some of that be true, we have been so very blessed to be involved in the best small group we have ever had to this point. And considering we have been a part of some great ones, this is saying a lot.

We aren’t afraid to disagree, we push each other to grow and evolve and trust Jesus, we help each other with practical needs, we are involved in each other’s lives throughout the week and not just once a week, we show up for one another, we enjoy hanging out and spending time together, we desire to reach others in our sphere of influence for Jesus and we push each other towards that…what we have is rare and special. While there are lots of reasons I won’t name here about why I think our small group is doing well even in NYC, let’s just say that God has been truly gracious to all of us and we recognize that He has brought us all together and has His hand in all of it.

Over the past few months, we have seen seen 3 members of our group get baptized and Ed had the privilege of personally baptizing two of them. It has been so fun to walk them through the baptism process, see them make a public declaration of their faith, and then to celebrate the decision with them!  Here are a few photos of the baptism and our small group fun.

This is just part of our group – if everyone is there, we have 14 in all!!

Blake and Fady in matching sweaters. Fady and his wife Stephanie (shown below) were the first two people in our group and we met faithfully every week praying for God to add to our neighbor, and he did just that!

Our babies holding our small group babies. Love getting to watch these two being born and grow up!

In between campuses starting back and the girls’ schoolwork, we have been able to do some fun things around the house – notice I said around the house since it has been FREEZING! here lately. We have practiced violin, built a tent city, spent a few hours playing with play dough, and made these coasters for the kids to keep their cups throughout the day so they aren’t using each other’s cups or using 5 cups per person per day. And we can’t forget eating edamame…Brynn, Emerson, and I LOVE them – which is funny since neither Ed or I had tried it before moving to NYC.

Turning the Big 4!

Blake man is now 4 years old!  I seriously can’t believe how fast time has flown and that he is now 4. This kid, our miracle baby, who had so many issues in the womb, when he was being born, after he was born, and yet has survived it all. This kid, who melts hearts everywhere he goes and causes people to just gravitate towards him. This kid, who for all the drama his sisters bring, just goes with the flow and is so even keeled. This kid, who has such a sweet, soft heart that anytime he does something ugly towards you is quick to apologize and say how sorry he is. This kid, who talks and talks and talks just like he is 8 years old, and is so smart that he makes doing school with him a breeze. This kid, who is a spitting image of his dad and couldn’t be denied if he tried. I am so sad that he starts 4 year old preschool next year and that I will lose him being with me all day. I pray that his heart is captivated by the One who created him with this sweet and magnetic personality and that God uses that magnetic personality to turn people to Jesus. I can’t wait to see what God does in his life – it is such a joy being his mom!

For his birthday, he chose to go to a bouncy house and eat Shake Shack for dinner and have a chocolate cake with red icing topped with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. So that is what we did. Enjoy the onslaught of pictures 🙂

Here is a video of him doing the zipline at the bounce place. He is a super cautious kid so I am a little surprised he even did it, so its not shocking that his face looked like this. Funny too!

And here is one of Brynn doing it – she even held on until the end. She is adventurous just like Emerson and Ed!

Blake had a blast celebrating his birthday (and the other kids did too!). Because Ed was out of town taking a seminary class in Boston on his actual birthday (Wednesday), he got to celebrate a little on Wednesday and then have his big celebration on Saturday, so his birthday lasted even longer!  On to the next one in February – Brynn’s birthday!

New Years Resolutions

2019 came in with a bang…literally. As we lay in bed at our hotel in Baltimore after an exhausting day staffing a conference for around 1000 college students, we heard the fireworks going off over the Baltimore harbor. We got out of bed, looked out the window for a few minutes, gawked at the people watching from balconies, kissed the obligatory “welcome to 2019 kiss”, and went back to bed. I still love watching fireworks and celebrating the new year, but I also love my sleep, which due to 6 people sleeping in one room at a hotel, wasn’t hitting a home run in previous nights. Here are the kids having fun in Baltimore and in the conference rooms at the hotel.

Here is a photo of some of our students (and 1 of our staff) who attended the conference from Queens. Kseniya (far left) is from Belarus and Sam (third from left who lives in NYC now) is originally from Jamaica. I met them at Queens College last semester during a meeting and have enjoyed getting to know them better.

But back to the whole New Years and resolutions. Do you set resolutions? I am not one who normally does. However, I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram, an Achiever on the Strength Finders, a S and J on the Meyer Briggs – and basically, all that leads to this – I love setting goals and achieving them and I have no lack of anything in my brain at any given time that can’t tell you something in my life that I could do better at or want to grow in. So, I set goals and tackle them with ferocity.

Here are some things I have been working on or what to achieve/grow in this year:

1 – Continue learning Spanish and maybe, just maybe, become fluent. I learnt a little Spanish in high school, a little in college, can read a little, speak a little, and hear a little, but it is hard to imagine me being able to just rattle it off and converse with someone well. Well, friends, that is my goal. Any Spanish speakers are welcome to take me on as their challenge 🙂

2 – I want to learn how to do lettering. My mom is phenomenal in calligraphy, I have friends who make beautiful notes and signs, and I want to know how to do all the things and make all the things pretty.

3 – I want to become a better mother. Yes, yes, I know most people strive for this and I know there isn’t a standard to get to because everyone is imperfect, and so on, and so forth. But, I do want to trust Jesus to help me be more patient, kind, even tempered, compassionate, and trust Him more in my parenting instead of trusting in myself or my own feelings or instincts. I want to stop yelling. I want to speak kinder to them. I want to talk about Jesus more with them through the everyday struggles and successes. I have been through a journey this year where God has shown me how great my sin is and how weak in my parenting I really am, but how through His strength, I CAN do better…its not about trying harder myself or reading all the books or having all the self-care time, but its about trusting Him and walking with Him as he uses me to disciple my littles.

4 – I want to lose this stuck-on-like-glue baby weight that never went away from Babies 1-4. Again, another area that Jesus is revealing just how weak I really am and how much I desperately need His help. I think I still want a quick fix, a diet pill, a no-pain workout, but really, I have to hunker down and do what I know I need to do and settle in for the long haul. Ugh.

5 – I think of Kysenia above, of Sam above, of other girls I know on campus, of women in my small group, of moms in my neighborhood, and I know there are so many women that God could use me to disciple and pour into. But heres the thing….my time is so very limited…and in an effort to use that time well, I have done a whole lot of praying about who to invest in and not a whole lot of investing. So, this year, I want that to change. As my kids get a little bigger and life becomes not so overwhelming in NYC, I want to actually begin to pour into girls/women.

6 – My heart since we moved here was to find women who don’t know Jesus and become regulars in their lives and trust Jesus to use me to show them that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Again, another area that I know my time was limited and kept praying about who to invest in, and never actually invested (other than surface relationships). Jesus, use me to actually make more of an impact here and show me How you are working and I can be a part of it.

I am sure there are more (like I said, no shortage of things to shoot for), but these are the things weighing heavy on my heart and mind going into 2019. What are your goals for 2019 (goals and not resolutions because resolutions is a thing you promise to do and drop after January)?