Getting a medical degree

I heard a quote from someone yesterday, “My mom jokes about having a medical degree just from being a mom.” I am beginning to feel exactly the same way. Besides all the medical mess and drama that has happened before now, just since January we have been to the Urgent Care or doctor’s office 7 times (just the kids!).

First, there was this:

Emerson hit it on the TV stand when she was climbing to sit into our reclining chair. It required 3 stitches and two of those doctor appointments. Emerson has been having jaw pain that we weren’t sure was an ear infection or jaw issues but turned out to be her 6-year-old wisdom teeth coming down that haven’t even broken through yet. That was 2 visits.

Blake had a well appointment, which was drama free. And then this week, all 4 of our kids have come down with the flu. It has spread like wildfire through our house even with Lysol and washing hands and keeping kids away from each other. The doctors thought it may be a stomach bug because they were vomiting, but because I knew we have had flu with vomiting before, and I knew that how lethargic they were pointed to the flu, I insisted they do a flu test. It was positive for Type A. I also insisted against their advice that they give Tamiflu, even thought they say it doesn’t really help. It has ALWAYS helped my kids get over it quicker in the past, so I made a point to insist that we wanted it. Now Ed and I are also on Tamiflu as a preventive measure. Ugh. We have Disney in 4 days so we HAVE to get better.

It is interesting, when the kids start with some kind of something, I am becoming pretty good at diagnosing them. Or I ask another mom or my mom and then we can diagnose. Here is to hoping we all recover quickly and no more doctor visits are required!!

To counteract the bad, we had something very fun happen in our house this past week – Brynn turned 2!!  Our little true New Yorker who is sassy, full of fun, independent but still loves to snuggle, smart, adventure-loving girl turned the big 2!

We let her pick out her cupcake flavor and icing, and because she LOVES Jack-Jack from the Incredibles, we watched the Incredibles as a family to celebrate. She had a blast opening her presents and even today, she got another one (thanks Aunt Barbara and Uncle Larry) – one of the best things about her turning 2 is she has no idea that presents are late, early, or any of that! Here is her blowing out her candles, opening her presents (including a pretty soft unicorn from our good friends here), and just being cute. In some ways, it is so hard to believe our youngest is now 2, but in other ways, it is hard to remember what life was like without her.

We also got to participate in “Orange Sunday” at our church – a whole Sunday dedicated to sharing about why our church invests so much into our next generation. Blake and the girls go to sing on stage and they loved getting to dress up for the photo booth afterwards. And who am I kidding? The doughnut wall and snack stations were probably their all-time favorites. We are so thankful for our church, our kids’ small group leaders, and how our kids are being raised to love church and learning about Jesus. So thankful for how they partner with us as parents and pour into the next generation!

Blown away by the facts

This week, I heard a bunch of facts about NYC that absolutely blew me away. I have heard some of them before, but some of them were brand new. We we first moved to NYC, our transition was hard. It wasn’t just going from two cars to no cars, or going from suburban/rural living to city life, or adjusting to public transportation, or transitioning from polite in your face but talk behind your back Southern culture to I-say-it-all-to-your-face NYC culture, but mostly I think it was we felt like we had literally moved overseas to a different world where it felt like hardly anyone was like us. Granted, not all parts of NYC feel like this, but Queens for sure does.

Part of this was exciting. We knew that God was calling us to move here to impact this city that we felt impacted our country and the world, and even realizing that the world is literally here in Queens was exciting. But learning about so many different cultures and languages and people groups was (and still can be) absolutely exhausting. So before I continue, let me share the facts I learned via this website:

  • With a July 2015 population of 8,550,405, New York is the most populous city in the United States, more than twice the size of the second largest city, Los Angeles.
  • About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.
  • New York has the highest population density of any major city in the United States, with over 27,000 people per square mile.
  • Over 3 million of New York City’s residents are foreign-born; over one-quarter arrived in 2000 or later.
  • Nearly 2 million New Yorkers are under the age of 18.
  • New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 U.S. states.
  • New York City comprises over two-fifths of New York State’s entire population.
  • New York City has grown by over 1 million people since 1990.
  • There are nearly 400,000 more women than men in New York.
  • There is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes.
  • There is a death in New York City every 9.1 minutes.
  • The borough of Brooklyn on its own would be the 4th largest city in the United States; Queens would also rank 4th nationally.
  • Approximately two-thirds of dwelling units in New York are renter-occupied, over twice the national average.
  • New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia.
  • More persons of West Indian ancestry live in New York City than any city outside of the West Indies.
  • New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world.
  • More Dominicans live in New York than any other city in the world, barring Santo Domingo.
  • Over 2.4 million Hispanics reside in New York City, more than any other city in the United States.
  • The Black nonhispanic population of New York City numbered 1.89 million in 2014, more than double the count in any other U.S. city.
  • Half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home.
  • Over 200 languages are spoken in New York City.
  • Queens has over 2.3 million residents and more than one million of them are immigrants.

Were you shocked by any of these? When we say that the world literally lives here, we aren’t kidding. Two nights ago, we had dinner with a couple who are Puerto Rican but they are actually part of a group called Nuyorican, which are people of Puerto Rican descent who are born in NYC. Even when they go back to Puerto Rico, their dialect sets them apart and Puerto Ricans automatically know they are Nuyoricans. Tonight, we have friends coming over for the Super Bowl from China and Korea.

With all these great things, there are other hard things. Becoming aware of just how much we have white privilege. Empathizing with those who are very much being affected by our country’s immigration policies. Hearing the stories of how Christians have treated people in the past (and sometimes the present) and have even ignored their plights. Waking up to facts that weren’t taught in history classes in school, like American banned Chinese immigration for 80 years with the Chinese Exclusion Act and horrific acts occurred during this time. Learning what it means to use your privilege for others. There is so, so much more.

Despite the hard learning we are doing, I absolutely love the diversity in NYC and learning about so many different cultures and languages. Kinsley just shared this morning that she knows how to say hello in 3 other languages besides English because of learning from people in those ethnic groups. I think it is a blessing that my children will grow up beside and learn from people who look so different from them and have so many different cultural traditions. I think its so inspiring to think that if so many of these people come to know Jesus, they can go back to their country (which most usually travel back to once or twice a year) and spread the name of Jesus all over the world. While it can be so exhausting to continually cross cultures, it is such a God-given blessing to be able to see the beauty He has created in all people groups.

 

 

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)?

 

 

Missing in Action

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t done a blog post since December 9. For me, this is a big deal and I usually never go that long between posts…my goal is to write once every week or week and a half. So what happened?

Christmas chaos, sickness of all kinds for just about every member of our family at some point (including a nasty upper respiratory infection and cough that I am still battling), and if I am honest, lack of inspiration about what to write about. A friend once wisely told me that if I didn’t feel inspired to write a post and didn’t have anything to say, that I just shouldn’t say it. And so I haven’t. Not that we haven’t had lots of fun things going on and not that I haven’t had lots of soap box moments that I could have shouted about on here. But I have always felt the need to cut some things out in the midst of focusing on Christ this season and battling not feeling well, and blogging has been the thing I have had to say no to so I could say yes to other things. But, the good news? I AM BACK.

I have had our website pulled up on my screen for the last week wanting to find the time to write a post. Its not a super spiritual post about Christmas. Its not a ministry update for the semester (though that would be a fun one to share soon as I was super encouraged by all God is doing as we recapped the semester with our team). I honestly just wanted to do a life update and highlight some things we have been doing the last few weeks. So as I sit here in our hotel room in Baltimore (we are here for our annual winter conference we staff and put on for the college students in our region) watching my 4 little kiddos sleep, I am going to just lay out the pictures that describe our December. If you want a ministry update or super spiritual post, come back next week 🙂

We attended winter concerts and campus parties and class parties and church small group parties and birthday parties. So many parties. This is a picture of one of the girls’ winter concerts. The lady pictured is a dear friend that I met when we lived in the same apartment building and had kids riding the bus together to the same school. She is from Indonesia, her husband works at the UN, and though we don’t talk as much as we used to since we moved, I have loved getting to know her better. I even got the opportunity to share with her about having a relationship with Jesus and what that means to us. She moves back in June :(. The last pic is a Christmas party with our St. John’s Cru students (missing quite a few!).

We got to love on sweet Esme so her parents (friends that are in our small group) could go on a date. She was so good and sweet and I got my baby fix. I also learned that while she was adorable and all and we handled it great because Ed was home to help, I for sure couldn’t handle 5 kiddos by myself. 🙂

We loved having Ed’s parents visit and then later, opening presents from Grandpa and Nona (Ed’s parents). The kids are thrilled about their new Kindle tablets and Brynn finally has her own dress up dress!

Going to see Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights has been on our bucket list since moving to NYC. It required a car as it is pretty hard and time consuming to get to by the train, so we had to wait to rent a car or until we got our own. It was well worth the wait! We went on a weekday night which was awesome since the crowds were way down. They say some of these people spend up to $10,000 in light bills in December and after seeing it, I believe it!

We have done lots and lots of baking!

My parents and brother, sister-n-law, and my niece and nephew traveled to NYC to spend Christmas with us. We had a great time touring the city with them and spending time with them. There was lots of noise, lots of laughter, lots of tears, and lots of memories made. Here are a few pics of our travels with them – and yes, when you see the sea of people outside Rockefeller and Times Square, the pictures don’t even describe the chaos it was. Seriously insane madness. NYC is beautiful at Christmas time but apparently everyone else thinks so too and wants to see it.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the Candlelight Service at our church. This is always such a highlight for me and the kids have grown to love it as well. Here are the pictures of the night as well as our friend Fady that is in our small group as he read part of the story of the birth of Jesus in Arabic.

Now, we are at a conference in Baltimore with around 1,000 college students from our city and neighboring states. It is going to be a busy week with lots of meetings and late nights and balancing the kids and work demands…but, we are excited to see our students and to meet so many others and to pray that this conference changes them the way one changed Ed’s life many, many years ago! Here is the picture from our hotel room – nice view and I am loving the skating rink on the top of the building next to us:)

 

Christmas Traditions

What are your Christmas traditions? This was the question a mom asked at our mom’s group this past Wednesday. Growing up, I can very vividly remember our Christmas traditions – getting together with my dad’s side of the family on Christmas eve which meant a big meal, opening presents, and seeing family that I often didn’t get to see (and sometimes a visit from the big man himself which usually meant my dad is costume). Christmas day was spent eating a big special breakfast consisting of a breakfast casserole and monkey bread followed by opening presents at our house and then visits from or around to different family’s houses to see what they got and to see them. I am sure there are more but its funny what sticks.

When Ed and I got married, we took turns visiting our families at Christmas and fit in to their traditions. When we started having kids, and especially as they got older, we started evaluating what our traditions would be for our family – we came up with a few new ideas and a few ideas from our families. We have change it a little over the years and I am sure we will continue doing that, but here is the jist of our traditions:

  • The weekend after Thanksgiving, we decorate the tree and house together.

  • Before Christmas, we surprise the kids later one evening by having them change into their PJs, having them find a golden ticket that grants them admission into the car, and telling them to get into the car. We give them popcorn and hot chocolate and then we ride around to look at Christmas lights on our own “polar express.” We haven’t been able to do this tradition the past two years since moving to NYC and having no car, but we are hoping to pick back up on it this year.
  • We always take one trip to visit Santa somewhere – the first year in NYC, it was Macy’s. The second year was Bloomingdales, and this year, we went back to Macys.
  • On Christmas eve, we attend a Christmas Eve Service where we remember what the season is all about, and then we head home to eat appetizer foods (chips, dip, wings, meatballs, other dips), and the kids get to open their gifts from each other.
  • On Christmas morning, we start the morning by eating a big “special” breakfast (usually homemade cinnamon rolls, crock pot grits, and/or monkey bread) and then reading the Christmas story in the Bible. We love doing this and slowing the kids down to think about Jesus instead of just rushing into the gifts.

What are some Christmas traditions you have with your family? We have heard of everyone getting new Christmas matching PJs, Christmas caroling together, and the Christmas pickle. We are always open to adjusting ours so I can’t wait to hear!

 

 

And the answer is…..

Well, I survived…I made it through the panel. All in all, I thought it was very good and I loved hearing everyone talk and learning from them and getting to know them. If you are interested in listening for yourself, check out this link:

http://newlife.nyc/sermon-archive/?enmse=1&enmse_am=1&enmse_mid=87

I learned some very important lessons through this experience:

1 – Our church has three services on Sunday mornings and I learned that I have major respect for all those who stand up and do this every Sunday – the worship team, the choir, the speaker, the people sharing announcements, and so on. It is absolutely exhausting to do it three times and by the end of the day, I was worn out. God sustained us while we were doing it but whew….

2 – Wearing a skirt while sitting on a stool on a stage is not a good combo. If I ever do anything like this again (beyond just standing on stage and sharing at a church), I will think harder about my outfit selection. I thought for sure I was going to flash everyone there.

3 – If I ever have extra to give to the church, I will make sure it is designated for better chairs for panel members to sit on. I told Ed at one point “These chairs aren’t made for people with big butts” to which he replied “These chairs aren’t made for anyone at all.”

4 – If God calls you to do it, he will provide the words, courage, strength, etc. to do it. I felt so very unqualified to be up there, but I trusted our leadership and that God had something he wanted to share through me.

In other news, remember me sharing about the girls’ school collecting items for the community to help others for November? They shared today that they were able to deliver to PS 446 (the school with a large number of kids in shelters) a total of 13 bins with coats, clothes, winter wear, and toiletries, collected 400+ hats for Ellie’s Hats,  5 boxes of toiletries for Coalition for the Homeless, and 800 socks for Socks in the Box. Isn’t this awesome?  Major props to the parents and children at PS101 – they showed up to give to others in a big way!

Also, since this post is full of random things anyways, let me say this: I love Christmas in NYC. People are genuinely more happy, beautiful decorations are everywhere, and there are so many fun things to do this time of year.

Today, we took the kids to Macy’s Santaland. Two years ago, we went and ended up waiting for hours to see Santa. They started a new reservation system last year where you have to register for a time so it will cut down on wait times. The kids wanted to go see Santa so we decided to give it another try. We took the Long Island RailRoad into the city, which the kids have never ridden before, and they loved seeing the conductor punch people’s tickets just like they do in the Polar Express. Then, we only had to wait about 20-25 minutes to see Santa which was not bad at all. The kids were so excited to see Santa, and Brynn did great until we actually reached Santa and then she wasn’t having it.

Then, we traveled to Grand Central Station to see the train exhibit in the Transit Museum. It was crowded but the little kids LOVED it. I think they could have stood there and watched the trains for hours.

Then, we traveled home and got to enjoy a visit from my brother and Tim. We enjoyed some good Chipotle and Martha’s Bakery and fun conversation. It has been a while since we have seen them so it was so good!  I don’t think I have shared on here that I have a brother who lives in Manhattan and works as a kitchen designer with Lowes. He moved here about 10 months before we did so while he works crazy hours, it is really fun to see him when we can.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend like we are enjoying ours!

 

 

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!