A Very Manhattan Christmas

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Living in Manhattan makes for an interesting Christmas to say the least.

While I could spend this entire post talking about the magic and wonder that is the Holiday Season in New York City, and I could describe to you in great detail the intricate beauty of the store front windows at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue (like the actual Saks store that’s on Fifth Avenue!), or the glow of the Rockefeller tree shining down on the ice skaters below… there’s no need to! You have an abundance of movies and television shows that can portray the very same thing!

I could tell you all about how my husband and I ‘bumped into’ Mariah Carey singing Christmas carols one night, or how after the city’s first snow, we spent the weekend sledding in Central Park… but that’s nothing you couldn’t see on my Instagram.

I know my readers, and you want the dirt!

And as always, I can deliver!

Manhattan is much like the friend you have, that is always fancy and dressed to the nines. And although you may not see it, there is a whole other side that they don’t go flaunting to the world (a side which includes sweat pants, retainers, and zit-cream, I would presume). And just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

Manhattan is much of the same way. A life well-balanced in glitz, glamour, and TRASH! Bright lights, high society, and CAMPING. And for the record, I have never been one to camp!

Sex and the City could very well be the culprit, by portraying the streets of NYC as endless flowing cosmopolitan’s, and high-end fashion! But those of us who live in Manhattan know that between the months of December and March, we forego all glamour to embrace the likes of rain boots and down jackets that reach past our ankles.

So forget what Sex and the City taught you… in the winter, bears hibernate, birds migrate, and New Yorker’s take on the look of an Eskimo.

Case in point.

Case in point.

… And for good reason! Although the 254 million cars out there successfully serve to limit the effects of the raging wind to nothing more than a light jostle for it’s passengers; we “walker-type” feel the pierce of the arctic gusts deep within our limbs, and see each new burst as a threat to losing our footing and breaking every bone in our bodies (the bones we will so desperately need to carry our Christmas tree on our backs, 10 blocks back to our apartment!)

That very same snow that others drive through effortlessly – thanks to 4 wheel drive and the comfort of having the heat blasting on high – we have the privilege of trudging though, wearing innumerable layers and bad attitudes, in order to get to the corner store to replenish our beloved ranch dressing.

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Emphasis on the ‘bad attitude’ part

We also loathe the Post Office, but not for the same reasons you might! Standing in long lines is the least of our worries… too often, we are more worried for our safety! We aren’t sure exactly why, but there is always yelling involved, and it’s entirely likely that the sweet 90-year-old man standing with us in line – who, just minutes before, was offering your daughter a sucker – is now calling another man something that rhymes with ‘sucker’, and is threatening to cut his body in a million pieces and hide his remains in the crawl space of his Lexington Avenue apartment.

Merry Christmas!

And although New Yorker’s have A LOT they could ask from Santa this year (like finally getting an apartment bigger than a walk in closet, and the miracle it would be to have an absence of rodents IN that apartment!) I think it’s safe to say, if it takes sitting on an old man’s lap from New York City, than we will gladly settle for coal. I don’t care how cute and jolly that Santa looked in the Macy’s parade, I know better than to trust a New Yorker. Even on Christmas!

You also know you are living in Manhattan if – in your attempt to outsmart the crowds, the need for Santa, and the Post Office nazis – you have purchased every gift from your Amazon Prime account (which no doubt, every New Yorker has!) But then like me, find that once they are delivered, you have no recollection of what the contents are of each package, and who they are for!

Not to mention that your Christmas tree (and more specifically, the gifts under it) look a little less merry than would probably be desired…

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And if I were honest, there is only about a 23% chance (at BEST!) that I will get around to wrapping all these

All around the world, ‘Tis the season for baking cookies, caroling, and spreading Christmas cheer… And in Manhattan, for judging people by the (unnecessarily large) size of their umbrellas, taking in the scent of pine wafting through the streets (as opposed to the usual fragrance of urine), and the over abundance of weirdos rocking Santa hats!

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And yet interestingly enough, we love it.

Some of us couldn’t imagine spending the holidays anywhere else! While others of us travel out of the city with high hopes of normalcy and family, but in time, will be itching to get back to the madness…  And that will always surprise us!

It might even cause us to secretly wonder to ourselves, if the city has made us unfit to live anywhere else, ever again…. And in a way, we will be proud of that.

Because no matter how much peace and quiet our souls are so desperately longing for, one thing is certain, the city will always call us back and welcome us home with bustling streets and honking that will go on into the night… Which upon returning, will make us smile.

And when it does, no matter how volatile the weather (or our fellow New Yorker), no matter how overwhelming the masses of tourists, or how long the lines are sure to be at the grocery store… the pharmacy… the veterinarian… and anywhere else we need to go for that matter! We will know with complete certainty, that there is no where else we would rather be in 2014…

Than living in New York City, baby!

From Manhattan,

I want to wish you all a very VERY Merry Christmas!

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You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea

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My latest pet peeve is THIS.

Every time someone living outside the city attempts to ‘minimize’ what it’s like living in New York City, something dies in my soul!

“Oh, it’s not thaaaaat expensive…”

“it can’t be thaaaaat busy…”

It’s the emotional rage equivalent of telling a person who works out hours every single day, and limiting it to the fact that they must just have really good genes! When they go on to explain how hard they work – the laziness they push past, the determination they have to possess, the self control that it demands – the response again is, “nah, that cant be it… you must just have good genes!”

For the record, I don’t have good genes. And living in the city DOES NOT come natural to me.

And I can’t help but think, that when I am searching the city over, and aggravated to the point that I am yelling in pig-latin in the bulk spice aisle of the grocery store because I can’t find nutmeg for under $6.99, or the cheapest loaf of white bread I can find is on sale for $4 and went bad YESTERDAY! That you are right…  I must just be making this ISH up! $$$$$$$$$

crowded-subwayThat when I pack into a subway car that has you crammed like sardines, and I find myself apologizing to my daughter for all the miscellaneous crotches in her face, or stand in the check out line at Trader Joes that literally wraps around the store, TWICE! That it’s true, its not thaaaaat busy… compared to Black Friday!

So for all those, whose opinions are flooding me like a southern downpour, the truth of the matter is, you think you know, but you have no idea!

Is it just me, or have I gotten feistier over the course of the last 8 months? 🙂

You see, living in Manhattan is hard to describe…

At the exact same place outside your apartment that you saw Tom Selleck 30 minutes prior, now lies a man passed out drunk infront of your building, making it so you can’t leave your apartment until a ‘Good Samaritan’ walking along the street literally picks him up by his coat, and tosses him to the side so you can get through the door.

Our children’s pediatrician is on Park Avenue, we take morning strolls through central park, with each step, listening to the Kings of Leon rehearse their songs for a benefit concert somewhere in the park, and have seen both the President and the Rockafeller christmas tree being police excorted outside our apartment building (one being more exciting than the other depending on your political stance!)

And yet, we take public transportation to go trick or treating, have bruises up and down our left leg thanks to carrying our kid in their stroller down the subway steps, and are forced to store our summer clothes under our beds during the winter due to lack of space. Seriously, if I only had ONE more closet…

We get yelled at every time we put out basket of groceries on the conveyor belt at the store (for reasons we aren’t quite sure), and are tainted enough to believe that the only plausible explanation for someone being nice to you is that they have every intention of mugging you.

We live and breathe by the saying “You are only in trouble, if you get caught”, rarely make eye contact, and know the homeless people in our area more than our neighbors (and if you are like my family, you nickname them!)

There’s ‘The Spitter’ who for whatever reason spits sporadically  (you can hear her before you see her), “Two-face” who sweetly asks for spare change- puppy dog eyes and all – but then curses your existence as you walk by, calling you the likes of ‘ungrateful’, and ‘selfish’ with a few f -bombs tossed in there for emphasis.

Then there is the man that sits on the corner of the street outside our apartment – rain or shine – in a wheelchair and NEVER asks for money. Who we later came to find out isn’t homeless at all! He actually works for the paparazzi, and like clock work, sits outside the restaurant below our apartment, watching for celebrities going in and out. Who, now that I think about it, probably doesn’t even really need a wheelchair! 

New Yorkers also eat out a TON – 58% of them eat out AT LEAST once a day! (And it’s likely that we know lots more random statistics just like that!) We also have lofty ‘food goals’, like to try a cronut (the croissant- doughnut hybrid that has taken the city by storm!) or to ‘taste’ every country in South America, just because we can!

And given the dire situation that you ever find yourself needing to impress a New Yorker, it’s as simple as making something- ANYTHING – homemade! Seriously, it BLOWS. THEIR. MIND. every time!

Our bible studies have people skyping in from around the country (one even in Afghanistan!), our playdates go down at playgrounds not in homes, and interestingly enough, I’m in a car so little, that I actually get car sick every time I am in a taxi.

531966_520585242644_227592518_nAnd sure, I could trade my NYC life, for granite countertops, and a walk-in closet elsewhere. I could have impeccable customer service, and cheaper produce at my fingertips… but even then, the cost would be far too great!

Because I’d be trading my new-found courageousness for comfort, and my city experiences for mere suburban luxuries.

So I have decided…

Suburbia, you can keep your fancy cars, your garbage disposals, and the expectation to have an even number of kids,

because although living in the city is mind-boggling expensive, swamped with people, and stretching me thin to the point I am nearly translucent,

Even still, I want to be a New Yorker!

For today, at least 🙂

Krista Signature

#NoWords

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It isn’t often that I am rendered speechless.

But after the week I just had…

THERE.

ARE.

NO.

WORDS.

It started months back when, while groggy and disoriented and drinking my morning coffee, that I’d SWEAR I saw something dart across the floor…

“It couldn’t be…” 

it was! And after weeks it was apparent; we had a MOUSE!

In the beginning there were tears, and other times there was just an overabundance of curse words! 

I bought traps, and deep cleaned every surface…

photo-5I even went as far to adamantly deny my daughter’s request for anything Mickey Mouse, and prohibit the story of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” from every being read in our household!

I even placed my daughter’s stuffed dog to ‘guard’ the living room in a (failed) attempt at intimidating the mice into staying away while we slept…photo-8

A failed attempt, because when I woke up one morning I found two holes punctured through the top of the plastic wrap that I had placed over brownies the night before! The entire top layer EATEN!

Needless to say, we spent that entire next weekend tearing a part our apartment and searching out even the tiniest of holes! We laid out poison and countless traps, we even called an exterminator!

Even still, the mouse would return! … Over and over… FOR 3 MONTHS!!!

Which brings me to this week: Where the better half of the first night was spent balancing our body weight on strategically placed chairs and prodding the mouse to come out from behind the refrigerator with a swiffer!

The next night, we sat down to smell the rotting carcass of another mouse that decided to croak under our couch! And at that point – because I had already tried everything else – the only thing I could do was to take an exceedingly long shower, and spray enough Febreeze to intoxicate me into forgetting that this is my life!

But that was only a temporary fix! Because little did we know what was in store for us the NEXT night…

It all began when I turned on the oven and was startled when a mouse grazed the top of my foot as it scurried out from underneath in a frenzy! In that moment, I did what any logical human being would have done.. I turned the oven back off, maintained composure just long enough to phone my husband, and went on to tell him I wouldn’t be cooking like, EVER AGAIN!!! And I meant it.

I would then make a decision that would change our fate forever: I would put a sticky trap directly underneath the oven right where I had seen the mouse run from!

Interestingly enough, my husband got home unusually fast that night – probably sensing my already fragile state was now borderline skitzo – and sweetly suggested we take a nice long walk together, But there wouldn’t be a walk long enough to prepare us for what was awaiting us back home!

Upon returning, I watched my husband slowly make his way up the steps, unlock the door and stand motionless in the doorway for an uneasy amount of time. “…We caught one!” is all he had to say to get my heart racing, and have me hurrying up the stairs behind him!

Not even 2 seconds after walking into the apartment, the high-pitched screams of a mouse filled the air! 

Now for those of you who’ve never heard a mouse scream, I have heard it best described this way…

It’s kind of like those ‘ocean wave cd’s’ with the sounds of the ocean on it-

except there’s no ocean wave sounds!

It’s just a mouse, SCREAMING FOR IT’S FRICKIN’ LIFE!!!

-Taylor Williamson

To which, I concur…

And not only was it SCREAMING, but it was staring back at us and scrambling to get loose! It’s back legs stuck in goo, but it’s front half attempting to crawl along the floor with the trap still attached to it!

Upon taking a closer look we realized that not only was there one mouse – there were TWO!!!!! Even worse, they were eating their limbs in an attempt to set themselves free!

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Seriously though,

WHAT.

WERE.

WE.

GOING.

TO.

DO!!!!!

My frantic, late-night google searches came flooding back; stories of mice eating through the plastic bags they were placed in and crawling up the pipes, back to the apartment they came from WITH A VENGEANCE!

I cringed, and decided to use a lifeline and phone a friend. Just as she picked up, I could hear my husband’s panic-stricken voice in the background, “… THERE’S 3 OF THEM!!!”

I gagged while quickly getting my friend up to speed on the science-project-gone-horribly-wrong that was going down in my kitchen!

“… I don’t know, If I were you, I would put the mice in a bag and then go outside and hit it against the brick wall until they all die!” she said strangely calm.

It was apparent at that point that if THIS was the best advice I could get, then only one thing was certain: It was going to be a VERY loooooong night in which NO amount of febreeze would suffice!

 I took a deep breath as I hung up the phone, and braced myself for the unthinkable.

First, we decided to cover each mouse so as to not have their beady eyes staring up at us! (And somewhere along the way, it’s quite possible that my husband took it upon himself to step on them –though that’s still up for debate!)

All I know for sure, is that once we got to mouse #3 we realized we had a very BIG problem! 

Mouse #3 was barely on the trap and was literally hanging on for dear life to the bottom of my stove!!! Every time we tried to pick up the trap, he would get a little more loose… and a little more loose…

I paced back and forth, hyperventilating at the thought of the third one getting away and telling all his mouse friends about the bullies in Apt 2N that needed to be “taught a lesson!”

We couldn’t have that happen…

We were desperate!

And it was just a matter of time before they escaped!

(Enter: The Meat Mallet)

In the end, what we did with that meat mallet would no doubt have Bobby Flay’s skin crawling! However, we DID get mouse #3 to let go!

… And once the screaming mice had been silenced- and somewhere between mopping the blood off the floor, and bickering back and forth about whether the meat mallet was still usable! – a victory dance ensued right there next to the dishwasher and the box of Honey Bunches of Oats. #ThereAreNoWords

… So class, what did we learn?

We learned that unlike the literary classic claims, its not ‘Giving A Mouse A Cookie’ that’s the problem, its giving him a damn BROWNIE that will have you dishing out more than you bargained for!

And seriously, you absolutely MUST get yourself a meat mallet. Like, pronto! #JustInCase

Krista Signature

Goodnight kittens,

Goodnight mittens,

Goodnight clocks,

Goodnight socks,

Goodnight house,

and… GOODNIGHT MOUSE!

-Goodnight Moon, with special emphasis

A Day in the Life

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I hear it all the time-

“Before I read your blog, I always thought Manhattan was so glamorous!” 

The truth is, Manhattan IS so glamorous!

… And then it isn’t.

It’s true, we walk the same streets as the rich and famous – or are lucky enough to see Tom Selleck outside our apartment window!!! <—- It happened. And for the record, I may never be the same!

We have our weekly bible studies in places like Whole Foods where you can literally watch celebrities buying their weekly granola and almond milk (Only if you are watching though -which of course you are NOT because you are wholly immersed in the Word Of God! 😉 )

We also picnic in Central Park, and kick back on our friends rooftop decks drinking sparkling water as the sun sets over the city.  Ok, that’s a total over-exaggeration, but it sounded cool! 

Even still, there is an entirely different, MUCH less glamorous – yet, completely intriguing – side to living in this city! One, some of my ‘fancier’ Manhattan friends might not want you to know about!

Like the fact that I nearly broke our tv remote last night when I chucked it at a mouse in my living room!

A mouse, that is nothing compared to the size of the RATS that I see in the subway Every. Single. Day!!

Or that I once saw a homeless man peeing into a soda can as I exited the train one morning!

Not my proudest collection of moments, that’s for sure….

But all that to say, I’ve decided to create an ongoing blog topic called “A Day In The Life” where from time to time,  I will attempt to capture the nitty gritty of what real life looks like in Manhattan, and even the abnormal way us city folk do some of the most normal things! All the things I can assure you, that us Manhattanites aren’t posting on our Facebook’s for the world to see!

This week I will show you how we do Costco!

And if you thought the method for shopping at Costco was pretty universal, well than Blimey! Tis’ wrong you’d be my dear!

Sorry, I have been watching waaaay too many Downton Abby reruns this week!

In Manhattan- the young, fabulous, and car-less, have to be a whole lot more creative when it comes to taking part in the surplus of underpriced bulk goodness that is Costco!

And while it’s not necessarily as easy as it once was, it is nevertheless, just as worth it!

So let the journey begin!

Once the hubby gets home from work, we walk a block with the little one in one hand, and our Costco reusable bags in the other!

image … and then another block and a half!
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Then we wait at the bus stop, and I sneak a couple quick pics of this sweet little girl, who by the looks of it is the only person excited to ride the bus tonight! (What’s not pictured however, is that I look like a mule; carrying all the snacks, diapers, and toys needed to KEEP that smile on her face!)image

Then we ride the bus;  and I whisper promises of gooey turkey provolone sandwiches and hot dogs the size of newborn babies to my daughter and husband, to keep them both sitting nice and acting well-behaved during our 20 minute ride!
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Once we get off the bus, it’s another 2 blocks…

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Until we finally reach our destination!!!

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Then we shop just as you would.

But when we come across Double Stuf Oreos, a moment like that in Manhattan, literally demands you stop everything you are doing and break out in an interpretive dance to symbolize your gratitude to the Nabisco Gods for all the double chocalety goodness that they have so graciously bestowed upon you!

Because in Manhattan, those cookies – which my husband would argue are essential to living a happy and fulfilling life – are quite the luxury around here at nearly $6 a package at our local grocery store!

So after living a tragic six months without even a single Double Stuf Oreo, this is one extremely happy man!

What I refuse to tell you though, is how many boxes we bought…

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And you know it’s been a job well done, when your cart is filled to the top, nearly $300 has been spent, and that cute little toddler from yester-year has turned into unrecognizable arm flailing, head spinning demon in the laundry detergent aisle!

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And after you’ve checked out, this is where those handy dandy reusable bags come in!

Because while living in NYC means you have nearly everything at your fingertips, I have learned that customer service isn’t one of them- so pack up yo’ own bags Busta’!

And if you want some of those shipment boxes that Costco is so known for packing your purchases in, then its your responsibility to sift through a mountain of leftover boxes that are in the corner waiting to be recycled, and do it yourself!

Oh suburbia, how I miss thee….
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Upon leaving Costco, there are cars lined up outside waiting to take us ‘city peeps’ back to our apartment! They help you load up the car, and drive you home for a flat rate.  Awesomeness!

As for my husband, this is about the time he started not being super enthusiastic about me following him around with a camera.  Like he has a new-found street cred to uphold or something? Whatev’s…

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Then we head home!

And yes, my daughter is sitting in the car without a carseat! GASP!

I know my mother is probably having a heart attack right now, but know matter how truly alarming it is, this is how we do it in Manhattan!

On an entirely different note, how cute is that finger sucking action?

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And while your method for bringing home groceries probably consists of that handy little devil that allows you to – at the push of a button – open up your garage (aka the HOUSE you have for your CAR that is equivalent to the size of my entire apartment for a family of 3!!!)

If I sound jealous, it’s because I am…

Our method however is a little different; my husband unloads the car on the street and pays the driver, while my job is to unlock the two doors leading into our building and use the heavier items to keep the doors open so that he can bring the rest of the stuff in.

…. All while pleading with my 2 year old in an attempt to prevent her from breaking every bone in her body while trying to climb “The Stairs of Death”….
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(Case in Point: The Stairs of Death)

Once everything is in the building, it’s the hubby’s job to bring each each item up [The Stairs of Death!] and into our apartment.

And – as you can see in this picture – to question why we bought so much stuff in the first place!

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The final step is to find a home for all these lovely little treasures, which in 650 sq ft can pose as quite a challenge! A challenge I am always up for! Because these groceries would cost $200 more if we bought the exact same items at the grocery store down the street!

That my friends, is an Urban Hallelujah!
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Now quick!  Grab your keys and take a drive to Costco!

And when you catch a glimpse of Double stuf oreos, think of us-
better yet, pray for us- because like I said, we still have mice!

And as you tuck your kiddos into bed and close your eyes to recite heartfelt prayers thanking The Lord for Great Aunt Bertha, and cousin Jimmy…

Make a quick addition and thank God also for your car, garage, pantry, Costco employees who smile as they box up your banana nut muffins…

and for the absence of the stairs of death in your life!

And once you’ve settle in for the night and turn the tv on to watch the latest ‘America’s Got Talent’ LIVE at Radio City Music Hall, observe how the opening shot sweeps over the city capturing the bright lights and glamour of Manhattan

and smile to yourself-

because you know the truth! 😉

Krista Signature

The Only Thing Better Than Leaving, Is Coming Back!

My family and I just recently returned from our first vacation since moving to New York City!

We were able to spend the week in beautiful Rhode Island -and let me tell you friends, it was pure bliss!

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And here is why…

For one, we had a car!!!!!

And while I’m sure that doesn’t sound like a big deal to most of you reading, maybe it’s time you get a fresh perspective on why that hunk of metal you drive aimlessly from errand to errand, is a god-send that should have you on your knees daily thanking the Lord God Almighty for all the blessings he has bestowed upon you!

Because although I am honored ( ha! ) to ride public transportation every day (via the subway, train, and bus) it’s not that much different than taking your child on an airplane – only minus security!

Those same prayers you say to yourself as you enter the aircraft with your little one, are the exact same ones we manhattan mommy’s pray every. single. day. as we cram into an overpacked subway with some of America’s most over-worked and moody individuals!

(And I can assure you that even the most intimidating woman from Texas sitting next to you on the plane, – who rolls her eyes when your child makes even the most miniscule of sounds -has got NOTHING on nearly anyone you are going to sit by in NYC!)

That being said, the beauty of having a car while on vacation is that, not only can you let your child scream their head off without getting even the slightest look from someone else  – except for the one you and your husband will give each other when out of the corner of your eyes, and without words, you will communicate, “who’s idea was it to pro-create?”

But having a car, also means your child will be perfectly confined to their car seat, all while being entertained as they look out the window until they peacefully doze off into oblivion!

On the contrary, in the city- if it keeps your child safe, keeps them entertained , and puts them to sleep, than its probably a nanny!

When on vacation, I thought I was in Heaven when I remembered that cars also hold your luggage for you, your coffee, even your sunglasses! And thanks to the AC and heat, I never had to worry about not being the perfect temperature at any given time!

In Manhattan the only equivalent would require a salary and would be called your personal Assistant!

Bet that hunk of metal is lookin’ a little better to yah now, isn’t it?

Another thing I loved about our stay in Rhode Island, was that although we  were warned by locals how busy and hectic it would be, we found it be pleasant and slow paced compared to the intensity of NYC!

Only when Buddy from Cake Boss was in the local park giving away 10,0000 free cakes, did it look even remotely familiar to our life in the city!

During our stay,  I also came to appreciate even the smallest of things:

  • like not having to sleep with my head smashed in between two pillows- thanks to the trucks fighting it out in a honking war outside my window at 3 in the morning!
  • And not having to turn every light on when I get up in the middle of the night- for fear that a mouse is going to jump out in front of me!

(Yes, you heard right! We have mice in our apartment!

Mice. as in plural!

And for the record, I do think God is punishing me!)

  • I also enjoyed dining at half- empty restaurants with no wait
  • and leisurely walking down streets where you don’t have to dodge people with your stroller
  • I loved how people greeted each other kindly as they walked passed one another
  • and how EVERYTHING was So. Dang. Cheap!
  • I loved hearing the birds chirping, the waves crashing, and – secretly enjoyed even more – the sound of my husband calling out to my daughter in an attempt to get her to cooperate!Told yah! Sucker…

In the end though, Rhode Island proved to be nothing less than a peaceful getaway in which our family could reconnect.

I truly enjoyed our vacation! But if I’m honest, maybe too much!

Comparing my ‘real life’ to that of our vacation had me at one point, in tears in an empty parking garage, and filled with frustration! ( all of which helped me write last weeks post! )

Wishing my life in the city was easier…

slower….

more ‘normal’

Wishing to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures, like being able to roll down the windows of the car on a nice day,

Missing the convenience of putting items in the trunk of the car, and not have to lug them around myself- along with my feisty toddler!

Reminiscing back on the times where I was able to walk the aisles of Target, thumbing through the clearance rack, scoping out my next shade of nail polish. Oh, how I miss Target…

But most of all,  I missed the amount of time that I used to spend with my husband!

There were so many things about Rhode Island that made me miss some of the most mundane things that my old – more simplistic – life back in the Northwest offered!

I realized my attitude needed a check, when one night, we met a group of the darn cutest old ladies -straight out of the YaYa Sisterhood – who were out on the town and had offered to take our family’s picture in front of the river.

When they asked us where we were from, they were completely taken aback when we said New York City!

“But you guys don’t live IN the city, right?” the leader of the clan said eeying my daughter in her stroller – and probably questioning the sanity of anyone who would choose to raise a family in such madness!

“Yep!” My husband said delighted that they asked, We live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan!”

I probably rolled my eyes.

“Oh! How terribly exciting!!!!” one of the women squealed

Then turning to me, tightly gripping my arm, another one asked, Do you absolutely LOVE your life there?”

“It’s different…” I would say, as if to dismiss her intrigue.

I doubt that’s the response she was looking to get out of me, but that truly is so often how I feel!

My tune desperately needed to change! And luckily it began to,over the course of the next few days….

Like when we decided to walk the half mile, it would take to get to a localdiner for breakfast one morning!

Why not walk right? I mean we do it ALL the time!

But something was different this time… it felt like the blocks never ended! And that we’d been walking for what seemed like forever and a half!

Later, we realized we were unable to recall nearly anything that we passed along the way!

We laughed to ourselves, as we passed the syrup and attempted to name off as many places that – were not only within just half a mile of us – but were both, connected  and within a block of our apartment back home!

  • A Jewish Deli
  • Hungarian Bakery
  • Piano Bar
  • Bridal shoppe
  • Animal Hospital
  • An Italian Restaraunt
  • A paint store
  • A Mexican Bbq Restaurant
  • Laundrymat
  • Parking garage
  • A Tailor
  • Chipotle
  • McDonald’s
  • And a French restaurant

Only then did we realize how awesome it was to be surrounded by so much in NYC! Not to mention, so much variety!

I thought to myself how much more fun it is to walk in Manhattan than anywhere else!

And seriously… I have a frickin’ McDonald’s attached to my apartment! Is it even possible for life to get more uh-mazing than that?

I think not.

Rhode Island: 9       NYC: 1

Then the quietness and slow pace of Rhode Island  – which was at first so refreshing and peaceful – then began to ‘irk’ us!

We started complaining that there was less energy on a Friday night than when it’s 5 in the morning in the city! Which surprisingly, wasn’t as big of an exaggeration as it sounds!

There were also no amusing people to watch; only normal civilians and homeless people! – Which in NYC, its the people in between that are most fascinating!

Rhode Island 9      NYC:3

And then the night before we were to head back to the city, while laying in bed and scrolling through my friend’s pictures on Facebook.

I noticed my friends back in suburbia posting pictures of things like:

  • the ginormous loot of produce they brought back from the farmer’s market that day
  • the homemade butter they made
  • Their kale, blackberry, and coconut oil smoothie

My friends in the city however posted these pictures:

Awesome...

Awesome…

A ghostbuster waiting for the subway!

A ghostbuster waiting for the subway!

The parking job she watched with her own eyes!

The ‘Austin powers style’ parking job they watched with their own eyes!

Doggie fro-yo in the park

Doggie fro-yo in the park

I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud at the complete difference!

And to the farmers market phenom- please take no offense! I love the farmers market just as much as the next person!

And I am happy for you really! I mean seriously… you got 62 tomatoes, 4 watermelons, 43 peaches, and a onion for less than I could get a toothbrush in the city!

But what I realized that night, was that maybe I fit in better in the city than I sometimes give myself credit for!

That maybe I relate better to randomness, than to ‘pinterestish-ness’!

NYC: 4

And the next afternoon after we had said our farewells to Rhode Island and headed back home, It was when we neared Manhattan and were able to see the city skyline peaking out of the fog up ahead, that I was surprised to find myself getting butterflies!

Partly I am sure, because deep down I still question whether I can make it in this unruly city, but also because something undeniably inside me truly missed it!

I thought back to the fun loving old ladies and about their remark about living In the city,  and smiled to myself  knowing how truly honored I should feel –  not only to live near, or on the outskirts – but IN arguably one of the greatest cities in our country!

And upon returning to my apartment -and after double checking to make sure the mice hadn’t made babies in my couch while I was away- I indeed did feel like this was my home!

That night in honor of our homecoming, my husband and I planned a night on the town -in true NYC fashion- to go see Jay Z and Justin Timberlake in concert at Yankee Stadium.

And I attempted once again, to embrace this crazy city that God has led me to!

image

And the moment the beat to Jay Z’s  “Empire State of Mind” filled the air, I sang along with the other 20,000 voices

Because I get it now..

The only thing better than leaving the city, is coming back to it!

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

There’s nothing you can’t do

Now that you’re in New York!

these streets will make you feel brand new

Big lights will inspire you!

-Jay Z, Empire State of Mind

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Never Less than ‘Fascinated’ in Manhattan

I use the term ‘fascinated’ very lightly and a little – if not completely – sarcastically.

You have heard me say that I often feel like I am living in a foreign country, and that would be because everything from the way people in Manhattan park their cars, to the languages they speak, even the water they drink is different!

I often find myself thinking,

What.
The.
Heck.

Like for example, when you come across a sign like this.
curb your dog

Coming from Suburbia you might stare at this sign with complete and utter confusion like I did at first. But in time, a man walking his dog will come by and flawlessly illustrate for you what “curb your dog” actually means.

Because in fact, what the sign is really doing is telling you what not to do -which is not to allow your dog to pee on the grass, flowers, or god forbid, the trees!

Conveniently that narrows it down to only allowing your dog “to do their thang” on nothing more than the sidewalk directly in front of the people walking behind you!

And if you are even luckier to be one of those people traveling up hill – or even at the slightest incline – you may even get to dodge pee streaming down the street from the dog doing his business up ahead!

I like to think of it as a more raw, “urban version” of the Subway Surfer game- merging the stroller quickly in and out of groups of people on the streets of New York City, and receiving double points for successfully dodging the golden stream of urine flowing down towards both me and my offspring!

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the streets of Manhattan often smell like on a hot day…

Like I said, “what -the- heck?!

Or the fact that in this city, it is a rarity to ever find a high chair -And changing tables, almost don’t exist entirely!

I remember the first time I had this realization while having lunch with my family at Mcdonald’s one day, and the full blown meltdown that ensued soon after – not from my toddler – but from me!

It happened.
And I have no doubt that this moment of pure regret of ever having moved here, will make it’s way into one of my husband’s sermon illustrations someday.

But don’t worry, I have since come to embrace the lack of those suburban conveniences in my life, and yet, I have no doubt that one of the better questions to ask a Manhattan Mommy might just be, “where’s the most random place you’ve ever had to change your child’s diaper?”

The answers would be endlessly amusing, I’m sure!

I also find it fascinating that it isn’t unlikely to find a man in his 90’s with more attitude than a 16 year old!

I had a run in with one of these lil’ fellas at the Post Office this last week! And was forced to make the decision to leave package-less when his cursing rants and raves towards another man in line went a little too far -even for my 2 year old, who if I am completely honest, was listening to the unedited version of the Black Eyed Peas while still in the womb!

downloadI also remember the first time I saw ( not to mention, smelled ) Manhattan’s system of taking the trash out each night –>

And the moment I became fully aware that the average mom with a child the same age as mine is going to be 10-15 years older than me! ( you would probably wait that long too if you knew there wasnt going to be any high chairs and changing tables! )

Or the moment I first realized my grocery store was both underground and had an elevator!

Even more “fascinating” was while shopping, seeing items like parsley for $3.00! A single frozen Digiorno pizza for $8.00! And a package of double stuffed Oreos for $6.00!!!

No really… What-in the-Heeeeeeezy is a stay-at-home mom supposed to do without a package of double stuffed Oreo’s hidden away in her pantry like a well guarded treasure?!? You know, just in case. And no doubt, only to be savored come nap time, so help me Lord Jesus!

photo <– Or how about the first time I saw cars parked like this!

Or the moment I walked onto the playground and found myself a midst a sea of nannies!!!

And deciding the only logical thing you can do is to play a light-hearted game of “Where’s Waldo?” like me and Rachel so often do – but instead of looking for Waldo, we look for a ‘Real Mom’!

I wish I could tell you that I was kidding…

Or that it wasn’t as much fun as it is!

Even funnier though was the time, my husband was questioning how I was “soooo sure” that the young blonde wearing sweatpants and pushing a stroller with a black haired child that looked nothing like her was a nanny…

Only to notice in that exact same moment,  that my young, blonde haired self,  was both wearing sweatpants and toting my daughter around -who indeed looks not even the slightest like me!

awwwwwkward.

But For the record, I still stand by my assumption regardless! She had N –to the– ANNY written all over her!

But unfortunately, there is no denying, that indeed so do I!

Now for just a moment, close your eyes and think back to my now infamously tiny apartment, and the kitchen that looks like it was plucked straight from the glory of the 1980’s! ( or if you were lucky enough to forget, click here and take a quick trip down memory lane! )

Now, did you know that the average MINIMUM price for a one-bedroom NYC apartment is $500,000?

Half a mill, baby!!!!!

And MY little gem of an apartment, would actually be worth even more!!

(You know you want to say it…) WHAT. THE. HECK?!?

Did you also know, that in NYC there are over 200 languages spoken?

Which means it’s not unlikely that while in an elevator you could hear 3 different languages all being spoken at the same time! And if you are like me, you will sometimes find yourself having no idea what languages they are!

Even more fascinating, according to http://www.nyc.gov, about 1 in every 39 people living in the United States reside in New York City!

That means, that here in NYC there are more people than 39 out of the 50 states!

I love those last two facts because while complaining to your husband, “why eeeeeveryone in the world has to be in line at Trader Joes at the exact same time!”, you are actually exaggerating much less than he will say you are…

Boom. Roasted.

Now before I go, I feel it is my duty to inform the masses of the “fascinating” epidemic that is sweeping the city…

Patterned pants and sparkling water!

My silly, suburban self unknowingly seemed to believe that things like water in it’s original state, and that pants – minus the vivacious floral print – could still fully serve it’s purpose…

But apparently, I am sadly mistaken!

Yet, one thing is for sure…

I Will
Never
Be
Less Than
Fascinated
In Manhattan.

image

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Fear Not

Late last Saturday after everyone else was fast asleep I found myself wide awake, tears streaming down my face, and consumed by a fear that I had never experienced in my life…

Earlier that day my family and I were exploring the Union Square area of NYC. One of the places we went to was the Grace Episcopal Church.

We stopped in our tracks right when we laid our eyes on it – the soaring steeple peaks painted across blue skies, the chime of church bells echoing down Broadway Avenue, the Gothic design & architecture that draws you into a state of reverence…It was one of the most stunning cathedrals I had ever seen!

And when we spotted a sign welcoming people in to pray, we decided to go in and check it out – even if we had little, or no, intention of actually praying! We just wanted to take a look and maybe get some good pictures!

(Gasp!) I know, we are hoodlums. But it’s probably best you know that about us right off the bat anyway! 😉

image

When we walked inside, we were both awestruck by the captivating beauty of it’s architecture.

It’s splendor almost demanded that you pray! And believe me, when a church with ceilings that tall demands you pray, you do what you are told!

imageWe walked down the aisle nearing the front, there stood an easel with an old prayer book open to a page where many others had written out their prayers before us.

I wrote,

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that you use us in New York City

We are willing…

Might seem like a simple prayer to you, but for me it was an offering of complete surrender – one that I had made years before when we first began our ministry back in Washington.

5 years later, I can remember the exact moment the plane lifted off and soared over the sun setting on the Columbia River as our flight left Washington and we headed for our new lives (and ministry awaiting us) in NYC. I recall looking down at all the lights twinkling below and remembering each relationship we were leaving behind, and reminiscing each moment that my husband and I were able to see God work in miraculous ways during the years we served there.

I remember rubbing my tired eyes in an attempt to disguise the tears grazing my cheeks, but truthfully there was no denying the emptiness my husband and I both felt.

It was as if our hearts were left back on the runway…

We had given everything we had to the community we lived in – walking people through their lingering questions about the Lord, supporting couples as they struggled through conflicts within their marriages, unexpectedly visiting families in the hospital, or making home visits to those who had suddenly lost a loved one. We even did the best we could to walk alongside our church last summer as we, together, faced an unimaginable tragedy.

We would have had it no other way – leaving our hearts back in Washington – but as our plane lifted higher into the air I questioned whether I had anything left to offer the people of New York.

Having spent my life in the “ministry business” as both a pastor’s kid and then a pastor’s wife, I was all too familiar with the fact that serving the Lord in full time ministry – no matter where the location – required nothing less than what Jesus so graciously gave until his very last breath. Everything.

Ultimately, I knew that God could use us in New York City just as he had in Washington.

We just had to be willing.

644108_358190154263995_579495783_nIt was about an hour or two after our visit to the Grace Episcopal Church, that we met up with Rachel and David for the remainder of our day. And while the guys were in a nearby store, Rachel and I stood outside on the street, our little girls giggling and eating snacks in their strollers, as we caught up on each other’s new lives on the east coast.

At some point during our conversation a young man approached us casually asking for 25 cents to help him go buy some liquor in the store next door.

We apologetically told him we didn’t have anything and casually dismissed his request while joking among ourselves that at least he was honest.

He disappeared for a few minutes and then returned suddenly once again only to ask again, this time a little more desperately, and for $1.00. Although we could both sense something wasn’t right, we politely denied his request and told him once again that we had nothing to give him.

We went on with our conversation, only to have him come back once again!

This time coming a little closer, a little more aggressively, and now asking for $2.00! Rachel could see him eyeing my purse…

(What happened next would shock anyone that knows me really well…)

Although I’m known for being deathly afraid of confrontation, I very calmly but boldly called the man out!

“Excuse me, you have asked us 3 times for money! We don’t have anything, so you need to leave us alone now.”

He argued with me, so again I respond, this time more sternly, “You need to walk away right now!”

I remember him saying something along the lines of how he didn’t like the tone of my voice.

“Would you like me to go get my husband? ” I snapped, as I motioned to the store he was in.

It was obvious that the request infuriated him but I continued, “If you don’t walk away RIGHT NOW I am going to go inside and go get my husband!”

His yelling became louder but he indeed started to walk away…

And then luck would have it that at that exact moment, both of our husbands popped up right behind us as they were exiting the store they had been shopping in.

The smiles on their faces and their light conversation were interrupted by Rachel’s attempt to quickly fill them in about what had unfolded, all while the persistent man stood a good 15 feet behind us, still watching every move we made.

The man then quickly ran up behind the guys, and started yelling and cursing at them – specifically at David, and directly in his face! I can remember clearly the look of terror on Rachel’s face as we attempted to walk in the opposite direction only to have him follow us and make physical threats that could only be made out of pure rage and insanity!

All this while pushing our precious baby girls in their strollers!

The man let up at some point…How long it took?? I don’t know.

And I will admit, I was the first to dismiss it humorously apologizing for all of the “loonies” in NYC and reassuring them – and quite honestly myself – that moments like these don’t happen often around here.

But once the night had come to an end and I crawled into bed with what should have been a heart filled with the joy after sharing an amazing day with my closest friends, I was instead consumed with an immense fear that I couldn’t shake. I felt almost haunted by the clear image of the man’s face.

I could hear the intensity in his voice rising, the tension increasing…

Coming closer…and closer as he spoke.

I could see his eyes on my purse…

And I found myself left with one lingering question ”Did I do the right thing confronting him?

And then thinking of my purse, or even worse, our baby girls – I pondered the even scarier question, “What if I hadn’t?

The fear within me swelled to the point that the tears flowed freely down my face.

In the darkness of our room, I felt my husbands arms wrap around me. He held his hand to my cheek, sadly confirming the tears that he sensed, and he began a prayer of thankfulness to the Lord for keeping us safe and then requested protection over my dreams that night.

I savored the solace that his touch and the comfort of his words brought – but only for a moment.

Then I could feel an almost sinister thought remind me that the constant strength I found in my husband, the same undeniable faith that I had in my “back up plan” when I motioned to the store and threatened to go get him had that man refused to leave us alone, is the exact person – the same protection – that I would be without tomorrow.

My heart began racing as I thought back to countless other times in the last few months that fear began to make its way into my heart…

I remember watching the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, and the security measures that were instantly put in place in New York City because of it, only serving as a reminder that my new home is so often the “bull’s-eye” on the target for those looking to create a catastrophic attack against our nation.

imagesI also remember the day after the bombings, before it was revealed that there was a planned attack on New York City, my husband arrived to his office a little over a block away from Times Square where he saw swarms of police officers wearing tactical gear and holding machine guns.

Throughout the day I recall praying to the point of tears for my husband’s safety.

Staten-Island-Ferry-EscortEven last weekend, while taking the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, take in the scenic views, and snapping family pictures in front of the city skyline we were eerily escorted back to Manhattan by the US Coast Guard boat wielding a machine gun due to “heightened security”.

I didn’t realize it, but over the past 3 months my fear had been surmounting!

If I’m to be honest, in that moment curled up in my bed, my heart did not portray the same willingness I had offered up to the Lord just hours before.

Basking in the Cathedral’s grandeur, the sunlight reflecting down through the faceted stain glass and the stillness that seemed to offer the perfect environment to embrace the Lord’s divine presence, it made it almost simple to offer Him all that I knew He deserved from me.

But in a quick moment of complete chaos, when the glamour and bright lights had faded, and the city has reared it’s ugly face, it became difficult for me to stand by my words and continue to be wholly surrendered to the city that the Lord had so clearly called me and my family to.

While restlessly tossing and turning that night, John 10:10 came to mind,

 [Satans] purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  [The Lord’s] purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Without a doubt, I know that the Lords purpose for us is to live a rich and satisfying life – a life ‘worthy of a story‘ like we had talked about previously – but what I failed to grasp was that there are forces oftentimes working equally as hard to destroy the same plans the Lord has so intricately and amazingly designed for our lives.

Those plans are perfectly outlined in Jeremiah 29:11 when the Lord says He has “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future.”

As I meditated on these verses, I realized that the same fear that had suddenly taken a hold of me was also threatening to steal, kill, and destroy ‘the good story’ the Lord was rooting for me to live!

I love the way Joyce Meyer’s defines fear: “Feeling fear is simply the temptation to run away from what we should face and confront. I learned that I had to stop running and stand still long enough to see what God would do for me if I let my faith in Him be larger than my fears”

No matter how great or how small the fears you are currently facing in your life right now – whether it’s fear for your safety or for the safety of the ones around you, fear that the Lord wont be able to provide for your every need, even the fear that you aren’t smart enough, beautiful enough, or successful enough – whatever it is, I pray that instead of believing the lies of the enemy and cowering down in fear by running from our insecurities, that together, we would have the courage to seek out the rich and satisfying life that only the Lord can offer!

God desires to use us in miraculous ways,

We only have to be willing…

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do -to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst- is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you, that is more wonderful still.

The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed, secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Beth Moore

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