School, The Truckster, Grand Central, and Black Panther

Routine! Finally! After being all out of sorts from the beginning of May (when we shipped our HHGS), we were so very ready for routine.

Our printer had not arrived by the time I needed to prep for school so Matt basically forced me to go to Staples to buy one. On one of the days we borrowed our neighbor’s car I found a perfectly acceptable printer for $69. I loathed the idea of buying something I already owned but I simply couldn’t prepare for our school year without it. As of this writing we’ve been in school for six weeks and it’s actually been quite convenient to have two printers: my good one upstairs (which arrived in tact a few weeks ago) and this one downstairs. No matter where I happen to be working with my students I have a printer handy.

Aug 17 – First day of school! My students:

Hayden – second year of college
Carson – 12th
Bailey – 11th
Parker – 5th
Anna – 4 year old preschool

I took a picture but it was one of those that the kids were less-than-thrilled to take, so I promised it’d be just for me. I need to schedule our family photos so I can have some updated pictures that everyone’s cool with me sharing. (It’s hard to get all five of them smiling at the same time!)

Fun little fact: I hired Hayden to Nanny for Anna so that I could do school with Carson, Bailey, and Parker. We had arts and crafts for the two of them to do and they loved their time together.

Aug 19 – We got the Truckster!! We shipped it on July 7th, two days before we flew and it arrived only six weeks later. We were content to take the train everywhere, but buying groceries is SO MUCH easier with our own car. We were blessed to borrow a friend’s car on Sundays to do our shopping, but there’s nothing like the independence of having our own here!

Aug 22 – Coney Island: again! We felt another beach day was in order so we decided to go to one less populated. As it turns out, that also meant less maintained. We’ll be sure to stick to the boardwalk beach on Coney Island next time! Even with the mess we had a blast and how cool that we could see our own house from the beach!

Our house is somewhere above that speed boat, to the left of the VA, the big white building.
It’s really hard to see in this picture but the skyline of Manhattan is above Bailey’s head… sticking out of the Kohl’s building.

Such a funny girl. I caught a natural smile and she immediately started posing… and I caught this silly crazy pose!

Aug 27 – Parker meets a new friend! My heart! This friend is a sweetheart and I can honestly tell you I’m praying so hard that these two boys hit it off and are able to become close friends. I took this picture because my heart swelled at the sight of Parker having a buddy. This duty station is not like our last, where we lived in the neighborhood designed for big families and kids were everywhere. Here, there are many households with no kids, and because of COVID, many are staying inside. So… making new friends has been quite a challenge.

As of this writing, these two boys have been friends for almost a month and it seems like they are going to be good buddies! This was their first time on the playground and I sent this picture to his mom.
We really like their family!

Aug 30 – Grand Central Station/Times Square – Carson hadn’t yet been to Times Square so we decided we’d take him, and hit Grand Central while we were at it.

Anna was beyond excited to move to “New York City in the United States” so she could see the “Statue of Liverty.” We spot her everywhere!

When Anna’s legs get tired, someone is always willing to carry her.

These green USPS mailboxes intrigued me so a quick google search informed me that they’re used for mail-carriers who have too much mail to carry around on their delivery. They will stash some mail in these, deliver mail, then come back to get more. Brilliant!

These green mail boxes are called Relay Mail Boxes.

At some point we split and I took Anna to the M&Ms store and the boys went somewhere else. I couldn’t help but notice this massive sign across the street… oh my word! As of this writing (Sept 24th) it’s open and I have yet to go there… but it won’t be long!

Krispy Kreme! YES, PLEASE!

We went into a comic store which was filled to the brim with fun stuff, but this is what caught my eye… and after checking to see that there weren’t signs forbidding photos I took one. It turned out better than I expected because when I got home and looked through my pictures, for a second I thought it was from a zoo or something, with all the greenery. I took this photo only two days after Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer. No matter what sentence I write to honor his life and his accomplishments, I feel that I have utterly failed to summarize his legacy so I won’t even try.

Posted in brothers/boys, family, friends, homeschooling, NYC/Brooklyn, parker | Leave a comment

Beaches, Bridges, Bikes, and Kites.

Real New Yorkers, I know you’re shaking your head at my excitement over every little thing. Give me some time and I’m sure the stars will fall from my eyes. (Probably not.) Either way, I have no intention of writing these blog posts to cover every single outing but we’re still so new to this adventure and so excited to be seeing all of these things for the first time as a family that I can’t help myself. So, feel free to say “she’s not from around here” and move on.

Aug 8 – Brooklyn Bridge * Fraunces Tavern * Krispy Kreme

We heard that Grimaldi’s was the best pizza place in NYC so we had to try it early on.

We were excited to be trying something famous and in our own borough. In non-pandemic times the wait can be up to two hours long and, had we waited that long for this pizza, we would have no-doubt sent it back. The entire bottoms of both pies were burnt. So burnt, in fact, that we couldn’t taste anything else. I’ll assume that this was an off-day for them because no one could like that flavor. Had I made them at home I would have tossed them and called it a cereal night. I won’t leave a formal review because I’ll assume that our experience was the anomaly but we have no desire to go try again.

The location, however, was pretty cool. We ate under the Brooklyn Bridge and could see people walking by above our heads.

After lunch we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.

This girl knows how to pose.
So cool that from the Brooklyn Bridge you can see “our bridge” – the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

This was a pretty long walk and Anna ended up in the Ergo partially across the bridge.

On the other side we stopped by Krispy Kreme. We are huge fans and yes, we carried a very large bag with several dozen donuts around Lower Manhattan and on the train back home. No shame.

We saw Fraunces Tavern where our Founding Fathers met to discuss business and hash things out, then we walked to the 9/11 Memorial and saw the pools before passing Trinity Church on our way home.


Aug 11 – We ran into the craziest weather! We wanted a beach-day before the start of school. We loaded up our rolling cart, took the train to Coney Island, and settled down for lunch at Nathan’s. While eating we saw some crazy looking clouds. At 3:26 I took a picture of all of us eating (that isn’t blog-post worthy or I’d show it). About that time the teens finished and decided to go to the boardwalk to check it out. I finished lunch with the littles and the bottom dropped out. We ran for the cover of the metro station and I took this picture at 3:34:

I watched the radar and it showed that the storm was supposed to be gone very soon so we waited it out. Sure enough, ten minutes later we were walking to the beach, passing throngs of people who had gotten caught in the storm while on the beach. Their fun was over for the day while ours was just getting started. In fact, at 4:12 we were already on the beach, unpacked, and in the water, when I took this picture:

Figuring out the “portrait” mode on my new camera with a fast-moving subject = some strangely blurred parts of the picture, but the joy on this sand-loving girl’s face is unmistakable.

Two things stand out about the following picture:
1. We can see that red thing from our back porch… it’s call the Parachute Jump and is an amusement ride on Coney Island.
2. That guy has a living, breathing, crawling, snake on his hair.


Aug 12 – This is a friend Hayden met over a mutual love of music and moving to NY has allowed him to meet her IRL! She’s a dear friend and we are looking forward to getting to know her while we live here. (Not a girlfriend, just a friend who’s a girl.)

Anna is convinced that any guest we have is here to see HER, so we have to keep her entertained! ๐Ÿ™‚

Aug 14 & 18th – We’ve been so impressed with Anna’s improvement in swimming this summer. She started out dangerous in the water (no fear, but no skill) and as she progressed she’s learned her limits and what to do when she’s exhausted (roll over and float). As a former lifeguard/swim instructor I know the most important skill to teach is how to overcome panic to the point where the person can get to a floating position. If you can teach that, the person can survive until help arrives (or until the pool’s jet system moves them to the edge where they can grasp the wall).

Once Anna had mastered floating I began to force her to “save herself” when she found herself scared or exhausted. Once floating I would rescue her. She’s not to the point where I’d let her go swimming with friends, but I am confident in letting her swim in both the deep and shallow ends without me in the water, as long as I’m there to coach her to float. Next summer I am sure she’ll be water-safe (though we can all agree that all water is dangerous to a degree).

It took a bit to get Anna to pose for the above picture. I wasn’t going for that kind of pose, really. Just wanted her to be still for a split second and when she finally got still, this is what she gave me. I could see that she was feeling silly so I pretended I was ready to take her picture and videoed instead:

At the end of our swimming that day she held her fingers up and said proudly, “My fingers are cherries!” (She meant prunes!)

๐Ÿ’ Cherry fingers ๐Ÿ’

Aug 15 – Flying Kites: A runaway kite got stuck on the tree outside our house so we posted it on our neighborhood Facebook page for a week, and then decided that we’d give it a fly! (If anyone claims it, we’ll happily give it back, but until then, we’re going to use it!)

Anna’s turn.
Parker’s turn.

We were gifted a bike for Anna when we moved here, but it was already a touch too small. When neighbors saw someone getting rid of one that was a better fit for Anna, they let me know! What a blessing! It’s PERFECT! (And we passed the small bike on to another family.)

August was a hot, but very fulfilling, month!

Posted in family, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | Leave a comment

First Guest in NYC!

It all started with a surprise for Carson… Grace flew in to visit for the weekend!

SO. MUCH. FUN! (And so hard to keep a secret!)

Saturday we hit the ground running, masks and all, but Friday night we stayed home and had pizza delivered to our door (still a novelty for this family).

I had to take Anna to get her wiggles out and to give the teens time to play a game without a 4-year-old’s participation. We ended the evening playing JackBox TV and then our neighbor came by to tell us that NYC was doing a trial run of the lights that were to be displayed on September 11th. I can’t believe we could see it from our front porch!

(In two of these pictures you can see the tip of “our bridge” – and later you’ll be able to see that bridge from another vantage point.)

We started the day together then Anna and I veered off to Manhattan to run some errands while the rest of the people went shopping in Brooklyn.

LET GIRL-DATE DAY COMMENCE!

I rarely have only one kid with me, and it’s almost never Anna. This was such a fun day of girl-stuff and we had a blast!

First, we went by Rockefeller Plaza to buy our Top of the Rock Observatory deck tickets. They were running a special: free kid ticket with the purchase of adult tickets… but the kicker was that we had to do that in person. So, while everyone else shopped in Brooklyn, Anna and I purchased our sunset tickets to the Top of the Rock.

Our tummies grumbled so we bought our first food-cart treats: Anna, wearing a Germany t-shirt, wanted a pretzel. I got a hotdog (not my first choice of treat but I was in NYC and figured I had to do it at least once). In one stop we got both a German and NYC treat!

This was Anna’s favorite part of the day! FAO Schwartz! I have to admit, it was fun experiencing it through her eyes. We spent over an hour there and bought absolutely nothing. With COVID-measures in place, there is one direction through the store. In the front, up the rear steps, through the other levels and then back down the front steps. We made this loop three times! Anna typically has four older brothers telling her to hurry or showing her all the things, so this was an opportunity for her to lead, both in where we went and in how long we stayed in each section.

Her eyes as she ran across the piano were so expressive! She had the run of the place.

Of course, we worked up an appetite for dessert, so we stopped next door at Magnolia Bakery, apparently a pretty famous bakery. (Not related to Waco’s Magnolia Farms – I googled it.)

The chocolate cupcake was heavenly!

We shared a glass of milk… and by shared, I mean that I drank the first half and gave her the second half.

I told Anna that we’d play in Central Park while we waited for our crew to catch up with us. We walked the short distance toward the trees (which we could see from where we were) and I couldn’t resist the coffee shop on the corner. I stopped in for a flat white and, because I was the last customer of the day, the barista said it was on the house! Well, then! I LOVE NY!

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the surroundings. Steps away from the entrance of Central Park and you might as well be in the middle of a forest.

Carson and Grace met up with us at Central Park and Carson went off to find bottled water for us. Grace and Anna played on the swings and slide and then we cooled off with water.

We met the rest of the group at Chipotle and ate by the water fountain as we waited for our time to go to the Top of the Rock.

The entire time we were on the Top we were in awe of the views. SO stunningly gorgeous. Before this visit I assumed it’d be something I do once while we live here, but I will go back! It was a highlight of our time here. (Okay, we’ve only been here just over two months, but I absolutely loved this experience!)

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

“Our bridge” is well lit at night – just to the left of the Red-White-and-Blue Empire State Building.

When you have a guest come to NYC you surround her with all the men! (We took good care of her! We promise!) โคต๏ธ

My new mask arrived the day we were in Manhattan the whole day. This one says, “History has its eyes on you…” a line from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.”

After online-church on Sunday we took the ferry from Brooklyn Army Terminal to Pier 11, then the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and to an outlet mall.

Before she left we had Grace sign beside, “Top of the Rock!” What fun!

And Anna signed by Coney Island since she’s been there a number of times.

Such a fun visit and so great to see a familiar face from our treasured time in Texas! No desire to return to that heat, but we do miss all the strong friendships we made there.

Posted in family, friends, military, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | 4 Comments

People keep asking the same question:

Facebook post from 8/30/2020 – In response to a few of the comments my FB post from 8/29/2020, I wrote the following:

What can we do about this?

Where to start?

1. Listen. (Read. Research.) You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Listen to the Black voices already speaking on this. They’re out there. Hundreds of them. Don’t like one? Listen to a different one. The vast majority are saying the same thing. I wrote a 21-part series giving a basic explanation of many facets of this conversation along with links to the authorities speaking on those topics. You can’t know what “defund the police” means if you just listen to what a one-sided news organization says it means. (Hint… there’s no one, single definition. FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS IN YOUR STATE! There are some really good suggestions built into many of the states’ plans that our officers will profoundly appreciate. Hint #2… it doesn’t mean “pay the officers less” nor does it mean, “get rid of all police officers.” If you post memes that indicate that this is your understanding of “defund the police” you are showing that you haven’t listened or read.

2. Join an organization that is already doing this work. I keep mentioning the two that I am most closely associated with: Be the Bridge has personal, intimate, multi-ethnic, in-church or in-home groups that center on this topic. I believe this is where real change starts. The And Campaign is a fantastic alternative to BLM as it stands for Biblical values AND (see that? AND) Social Justice. Wanting my Black friends (and daughter!!) to be safe during traffic stops and to experience fairness in hiring practices does NOT in any way contradict with Biblical Values.

I don’t know what else to say to people who want to know what to do… I’m not smart enough to solve the problems but I can link arms with organizations that are already doing the work.

I don’t need to solve the problems.
I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
I just need to LISTEN, LEARN, and my actions will be vastly impacted by what I’ve heard and learned.

My kids will be different than they would have been had I not listened and learned.
Their kids will be different than they would have been and I not listened and learned.

My actions aren’t always public… my conversations with my Black friends are never public. They are intimate but they have moved me to action in my own life (humbled me, grown me…) and that is part of my action; part of how I plan to help my amazing nation grow from where we are to where we want to be. {To where many white people want to think we already are.}

Here’s the first post in the series I wrote back in June – in response to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor… we have more names to add to the list now.

With this series I hoped to educate people who were honestly trying to learn. I have no intentions of sounding like I’m the authority on any of this… but what I’ve learned I can’t keep to myself. (That’s another way I, personally, can get involved… my “action”. I can write on my own blog and educate those who want to learn all the while pointing to the real authorities, those creating content directed at teaching me.)

As before… keep it civil or I’ll delete comments. This is my FB page (blog) and I’ll curate it the way I see fit.

Posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, About my faith, Racism/Race Issues | 1 Comment

Pet peeve (or three?)

Facebook post from 8/29/2020 – I wrote this post after reading so much junk on Facebook that my body physically felt ill. I emailed it to Matt to read before posting to make sure I was saying what I wanted to say and to make sure I wasn’t off base. It started a conversation that was mostly productive.

I wanted to post my thoughts here for easy reference later on, as it’s often hard to scroll back on Facebook to find something.

I’ve spent the past (almost) 5 years educating myself on the racial situation in America and I’ve become convinced that we have a problem.

(1) I don’t understand why so many white people refuse to believe this. Every single person who has denied the problem (or that white people have any part to play in being the problem) has done almost zero research or work on the topic.I’m speaking of people I know personally and know they haven’t done the work. They just know that they, themselves, don’t hate Black people and would never intentionally mistreat people… therefore they assume that there is not problem in America.{With that faulty logic I could say that since I don’t have cancer, then cancer isn’t a big deal so why make all the fuss?!?}

(2) When white people share stories and memes that show just how good things are in the Black/white dynamic. An example I saw today made my blood boil as both a mom to a Black daughter and as an adoptive mother. People have been using the photo of the little boy hugging a police officer for years to show that things aren’t so bad after all. Turns out that little boy, Devonte Hart and his four siblings were adopted by white parents, abused, used as pawns in a political game, then murdered by those parents in a suicide/murder. STOP USING THAT PHOTO… If you want to undermine the cause, fine… I can’t stop you, but don’t use Devonte Hart’s picture. Ever. Again.

So my blood is boiling because I’m tired of seeing white people share pictures and stories of how good things are so “they” must be making things up, exaggerating the problem, or (and this one fires me up…) too lazy to work hard to get ahead, because, as we all know, “Lebron James, Oprah, Ben Carson, and Morgan Freeman all managed to become wealthy and overcome the odds so why can’t all the other Black people do that, as well.” My son made this point this week… Bill Gates is a bajillionare, so why aren’t all white people? Some people manage to overcome all sorts of odds, and I’m glad Lebron, Oprah, Ben, and Morgan have succeeded in their lives… but their successes don’t erase the fact that Black people today have a harder path than white people.

(3) Another pet peeve… why in the world is it so hard for white people to admit this? Admitting that things are extra hard for Black Americans and committing to finding out ways to level things up does NOT mean you (white person) have had smooth sailing. It does NOT diminish the struggle you faced. It does NOT take away from the hard work you put into getting yourself where you are. So why must you deny the problems we have in America? The March on Washington yesterday was filled with people who have something to say and I don’t see the harm in hearing what that message is!

This isn’t hard, people. L.I.S.T.E.N. Decide what to “share and post” after you’ve listened to what they are saying. Don’t listen to another newscaster. Stop with the Fox/CNN/NBC crap. You know where I learned all I’ve learned? From reading books about the topic, talking to Black people and hearing their personal stories. From research that is unbiased… that sometimes set out to disprove racial issues only to find they really exist. Do the research for yourself.

For the LOVE… Don’t share memes that undermine what hundreds of thousands of people are trying to say. (And if you mention rioters one time, I’ll delete the comment. I think it’s safe to say that if you are a FB friend of mine you can assume I don’t support rioting, harming another individual, or breaking laws that are meant to protect life and liberty… if you can’t read my above post (rant?) without wanting to throw the rioting into the conversation, it is absolute proof that you haven’t listened to a word “they” are saying. Listen to their words. Listen to the messages their actions (the March, the kneeling, the boycotting of games) are saying. LISTEN. It’s. Not. That. Hard.)

Posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, About my faith, Racism/Race Issues | Leave a comment

From my point of view…

…there’s a reason there’s a difference in the outcry for Breonna Taylor and those like her and the outcry for Cannon Hinnant.

I am sharing my point of view on my blog for those who are actually trying to learn about how race impacts our American society. If you don’t like what I’ve written, please move on. You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine.

I’ll say again, I do not fully support the organization Black Lives Matter because I have a few issues with their stances, but I do fully support the idea that Black lives matter.

I am not speaking for an organization.
I am not speaking for my Black friends.
I am speaking for myself…

From my point of view… there was never any doubt that the criminal who killed sweet Cannon was going to be arrested, tried, and found guilty. No one questioned that. In fact, according to “this major media news outlet,” the criminal was arrested the day after he shot Cannon.

Why did I put “this major media news outlet” in quotation marks? Because I’ve seen dozens of posts stating that the media isn’t covering it and people are asserting that it’s because the kid was white, the criminal was black, and that doesn’t fit into “their narrative.”

I think the news has covered as much as they can cover… a black man killed a white kid, was arrested, and now awaits a trial. The outcry for justice has been met. And it was never in question. (When I typed his name into the search bar I saw that USAToday, ABC, FOX, NewsWeek and others had also covered his tragic death.)

Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician, was asleep in her bed FIVE MONTHS AGO when she was shot and killed by police who were at the wrong apartment. The outcry for her is that her killers are still free. No-one has been arrested as of today.

THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE!

Cannon’s life and Breonna’s life matter equally. Those I personally know who support Black Lives Matter (those like me who don’t approve of the whole organization and those who do) would never say that Breonna’s life matters more. The entire point that BLM is trying to get across is summed up in the fact that Cannon’s killer was caught and behind bars 24 hours later, while Breonna’s are still free.

Our nation must address the ways our criminal justice system is set up in a way that hurts Black lives.

We need to address policing tactics that keep our police safe as they do a job that few sign up to do. The vast majority of the men and women who sign up for that job should be seen as heroes and I want my kids to honor and respect them but I can no longer simply accept the idea that a few bad apples don’t ruin the entire batch. Yes. Yes they do.
(It’s actually a fact. It has to do with ethylene…)

If a hospital had a surgeon on staff that kept losing patients on the operating table, he or she would be delicensed, not allowed to continue operating on patients because “the rest of the surgeons are good.”

If there is word that a teacher at a school has molested a student, the principal shouldn’t say, “well, that one teacher doesn’t taint the entire staff and we’re going to ignore what that teacher is doing because we don’t want to do the work necessary to weed him or her out, because it would make the other teachers feel bad.” NO! All the good teachers want that bad apple out of the system and away from children!

We have to demand more of our police officers but that’s not all. We have to change the system that the police officers are trained in and work for. If you really want to do the work, research how our policing system started. If these are the seeds that were planted at the origins, wouldn’t it be possible that some of the fruit is still on those branches?

How the U.S. Got Its Police Force

Wikipedia on Police: (Scroll down to the United States)

If youโ€™re surprised by how the police are acting, you donโ€™t understand US history: interesting quote from within the article: “…the Texas Rangers are named after a group of white men of the same name who slaughtered Comanche Indians in 1841 to steal indigenous territory and expand the frontier westward. The Rangers are considered the first state police organization.”

Do White Evangelicals Love Police More Than Their Neighbors?

I have not read through all of the above links nor listened to the above podcast. I’m listing them above to direct you to research for yourself – to show you that there are thousands of articles and conversations going on about this topic. If you haven’t had a bad encounter with a police officer, that’s fantastic. The individuals I know in law enforcement are wonderful and part of me even hesitates to have this aspect of the conversation because I don’t want them to think my thoughts or concerns are about them, individually. But I can’t stay quiet about this. I have real concerns about the way many are framing the discussion.

The vast majority of my “Facebook friends” do not understand the concept of “defunding police” as evidenced by the cartoons, memes, and other inaccurate things I’ve seen floating around.’

Like the one that says, ‘9-11, what’s your emergency”…. “Let me route your call to the department of unicorns and rainbows… hold. please.” Really? Posting that just proves that you haven’t read a single article about what ‘defunding the police’ means.

Now, I will say here, there are probably some who would suggest more aggressive actions than what I’m suggesting here, but from what I’ve read, here’s the overall gist:
redirect some of the funds currently being sent to the police to other organizations that are better suited for the kinds of calls that police are currently responding to, but aren’t trained to do.

You could read 100 different articles and find 100 different definitions, so you must be actively involved in your own city’s politics to get an idea of what it means where you are, but here is one very oversimplified idea:

9-11 calls that aren’t about violent events shouldn’t be sent to police officers. They have more important things to do than remove the homeless guy sitting outside the Starbucks. There are people who went into Social Work because they want to HELP the homeless and if we spent some of our tax dollars funding Social Workers, training them, giving them ways to support the homeless, our police officers, who have been trained to deal with criminals, can do the work they were hired to do.

That’s one aspect of “defunding the police” that I can get behind. THAT ACTUALLY HELPS OUR POLICE OFFICERS DO THEIR JOB!
Before shooting down an idea, research it.

Finally regarding #SayHerName – That phrase is used to remind people that Breonna Taylor and others are still waiting for her killers to be arrested. Using that phrase for Cannon is not only inappropriate, it’s unnecessary. His killer has been arrested.

I will close by reminding you that this is my blog. I wrote this because I’m tired of seeing the misinformation floating around on the internet.

I will delete comments that are hateful. You have your space to share your opinions… this is mine.

Posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, Racism/Race Issues | Leave a comment

Moving is not always fun

The teens made some really great friends just before we left Germany, making leaving extra hard for them.

Parker was ready to get to a new adventure and meet some new friends.

Anna is along for any adventure!

The first two weeks were rough for the teens. Parker made a new friend and they’ve done a little hanging out, but for the most part, he sticks close to home. Many of the neighborhood kids are staying home and inside due to COVID.

Anna has met a number of kids but, again, due to COVID, we aren’t hosting, nor are we going to others’ homes. She does see the same group of kids at the pool on a daily basis, but about two weeks into being here homesickness hit her pretty hard.

She began asking me if we could go visit Adeline, a friend who lives on Kelley (back in Germany). I told her that someday we may be able to do that… then her questions began to reveal something going on… she asked, “When we go visit Adeline, can we just stay there forever?”

One afternoon, as I was putting her down for her nap, she started whimpering and said she never wanted to move to New York, just wanted to come and see everything. She wanted to go play at the mushroom park.

Oh, baby girl!

We had this conversation once or twice so when she fell on the way home from the pool one day and we had to stop to get a bandaid (I always have some in my wallet) I could tell that she was about to tell me this story again.

I recorded her tears and got a laugh out of a literal “SQUIRREL!” moment.

I hope you’ll listen to her little heart and say a prayer for her and all Mil-Kids who have to move whether they like it or not. And say a few extra prayers for those moving during a pandemic – it is hard enough to make new friends under normal circumstances. Trying to do so while navigating a global pandemic has been brutal.

(This is an audio I recorded using voice recorder… I knew that if I turned on the camera she’d notice and I wouldn’t catch her real thoughts.)

“Catching fireflies are my favorite. There were no fireflies in Germany so I promised to catch fireflies here.”

“…the mushroom park, of course… I wanted to play in sand!”

“SQUIRREL!!!!!”

Posted in family, friends, germany, military, moving, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | 2 Comments

Weeks 3 and 4 in NYC!

24th: The view of the bridge from just outside of our house. I walked by the front window and saw that everting looked pink-tinged. Stepped outside to this:

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25th: I got Anna’s room mostly done. Bed on the floor so she doesn’t jump back and forth from it to the trampoline.

26th: We ordered a garage door keypad. Makes living life on foot (bike) much easier. No need to go in the house and then open the garage, to park the bikes.

Carson took this picture of a gorgeous sunset that evening.

27th: One of the kids not going to the pool got an ear infection. Fortunately the Urgent Care just outside the gate is seeing patients!

Brand new facilities.

After the doctor’s office and pharmacy to pick up meds, Bailey, Parker, Anna, and I headed to the Central Park Splash Pad. (We picked up Chick-fil-a and ate it on a bench by the splash pad.) I had promised the kids we’d come back prepared to play in the water when we first visited Central Park on the 14th.

When the littles had had enough playing in the water we went to the Bronx to see the Joker Stairs.

30th: I took an 11 mile bike ride along the beltway and got some fun pictures of Manhattan as well as our bridge from both directions. They’ll be boring to most people but I thought you may get a kick out of this road sign just outside of our base.

31st: I finally received the second box of school books that I had mailed to myself and dug into school planning for the 2020-2021 school year.

Aug 1st: Most of the family went to Staten Island to get a free up-close view of the Statue of Liberty! (Bailey stayed home and worked on music stuff. He got a beat pad and can record stuff on Garage Band.)

2nd: Parker and Anna were watching Hey Jesse on Disney+ and saw the splash pad in Central Park we just went to! HOW COOL!!?!?!

3rd: And… after weeks of being with the entire family I needed some time alone, so I decided to combine that with exercise. I took a bus/train to Coney Island and walked/ran along the board walk.

NOT MY IMAGE! I got it from the NYC Parks and Rec website, but you can see the boardwalk and “our bridge” in the background! Cool shot!

5th: Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Isaias came through and left damage in its wake. Our house and yard were spared, but there were trees down all over post.

We are settling and starting to get our bearings. We like being here so far, but wish things were a little more normal. We can’t just meet neighbors and make friends… so there’s an added loneliness to being in a new place.

There are a few bright spots that I’ll share in a future post as well as a heart-break. A cliffhanger… the one struggling the most is probably not the one you’d expect…

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Second week in NYC!

The second week we did a little less sight-seeing as we were busy receiving our HHGs but I made it a point to take the kids to the pool every time it was open (and once, when it was not).

16th: The timing of our move turned out wonderfully. We landed on Friday, got our house on Tuesday, and our HHGs on Thursday (and Friday). The Fort Hamilton pool also happened to open for the first time on Thursday so we were there on day one. I knew that having a pool pass was going to pay for itself but I hadn’t anticipated just how well. As it turns out, Anna-girl sleeps really well after a couple of hours in the the pool!

17th: More receiving HHGs and another pool day. We had pizza and cheesesteaks delivered to our door (magical!) and so far, have only found one other pizza place we like better – Famous Rays on 49th and 7th, in Manhattan. Our dining room was still not in usable condition so we ate on the back deck. Please note the DUKES Mayo on the table! Thank you, Fort Hamilton DECA, for stocking the correct brand of mayonnaise.

18th: Unpacking, sorting, and putting things in place.

She may have been a little tired on the walk home from the pool… and didn’t want her picture taken. (Notice the playground in the middle-ground… more on that in a bit.)

19th : Matt and I had our first date in quite some time. We went to DUMBO, an area of Brooklyn that’s famous for its views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. DUMBO stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” On this date Matt and I ate at a restaurant on the water, still in disbelief that we are here, and that we live here. This assignment was a dream come true for him (it’s a job Matt’s excited about) and for me, as I’ve always wanted to live in NYC. It’s tempting to act like tourists and want to squish everything into the next few days, as one typically does when visiting New York, but we have to remind ourselves we have the luxury of time. We can afford to see a little at a time. (And yet we still go on an adventure a couple of times a week! – I’m writing this on Aug 13th and with school starting next week, that will change a bit.)

We had a number of purchases to make at IKEA but the biggest was lighting for our china cabinets and the cabinets in the kitchen. Love how they turned out! I need to get more pics and I’ll update later.

The line was atrocious, but we had taken trains/busses to get there and we weren’t leaving without our treasures.

Felt like locals taking a bus/train with items for our house. And we purchased the black rolling cart… absolute necessity for life on foot.

20th: Matt and I practiced a marriage enrichment activity and put together the beast… half of it, anyway. The only half that survived.

After another day of sorting and organizing, I took the kids to the pool again only to realize that it was closed. Apparently, it’s closed on Mondays! We decided to just hang out at “Gregory Park.” That is not the official name of the park. Anna and Parker gave it this name and so it is, forevermore, ‘Gregory Park.’

The view of the bridge is breathtaking from there.

Anna is amazing on the monkey bars and Parker has learned several new tricks on his skateboard.

21st: Anna is getting better at swimming. She’s never been afraid of water (which is dangerous for a non-swimmer). I knew I had to teach her to swim, which happens to be a skill I have. I was a life guard and swim instructor in high school and college! I took the puddle-jumper (float) for a week or so, but also really wanted to teach her to be water-safe. They won’t let her jump off the diving board with the float on but will allow me to be in the deep end with her, so once she had mastered swimming about 10 feet, I would have her jump off the diving board, swim to me, catch her breath, and then swim on to the ladder.

The next task was mastering floating, something her little body has to work hard to do with zero body fat!

To save time and energy I put the week’s swimming videos in a compilation. Comparing how well she swims now to this video is amazing! As of today (Aug 13th) she is diving for toys on the bottom of the shallow end.

Weeks 3 & 4 will be combined! Stay tuned!

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Our first week in NYC!

We hit the ground running. Our household goods were ready for us the day before we flew and the next available date for us to receive them was July 16th – exactly one week after we flew. That was perfect timing as we were going to receive the keys for our house on the 14th.

We filled the week with trips around Brooklyn and to Manhattan a couple of times. I also asked around for the best to place to buy bikes for the kids (as most places we’ve seen are sold out due to COVID) and someone on Fort Hamilton had three he was giving away. BRAND NEW!

So, here’s a fly-by of our first week here!

10th: We were given a walk-through of our new house. We explored the post and recovered from the flights.

11th: We walked to see the Statue of Liberty. She’s pretty small from where we are but you can see her and the tip of Manhattan.

I’m zoomed WAY in.


In the following slideshow you will see some pretty expensive real estate here in Bay Ridge – including FRANK REAGAN’S HOUSE from Blue Bloods!

“Our bridge” at dusk with a storm rolling in. Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

12th: We went to Manhattan for the first time. Matt and I have been there multiple times as tourists and the bigs were there when they were babies, but none of them remember it. Carson and Bailey were not feeling it so they stayed at the hotel.

HAMILTON!
Famous Rays Pizza (49th and 7th… so far it’s been the best pizza I’ve had… not sure if it’s really famous or if that’s just their name. ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Times Square nearly empty. My parents saw us on the Live Feed!
We went to the M&M’s and Disney stores and there were dozens of employees. They seemed so happy to be at work and there were at least three cleaning shelves, handles, buttons, walls… it seemed that they want to be visibly proactive so their guests feel comfortable shopping.
Oh, and the Naked Cowboy photobombing the strangest photoshoot I’ve ever seen… a dad and his kids dressed in pink feathers dancing in Times Square…

Rockefeller Center and a Street Artist.

This church is the one they use in Blue Bloods. We pass it every time we go to the R-train (which we take to get anywhere).

13th: We were invited to our friends’ house for dinner (so thoughtful of them!!) and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. It’s been a very long time since we were with people in their home, due to COVID, and it was really nice to be in a settled home for the first time since our stuff left on May 12th.

Anna had a blast catching lightening bugs and the boys went for a late-night game of basketball.

14th: WE GOT OUR HOUSE! But since we didn’t have our stuff, we accepted the keys and then went on an adventure.

Parker really wanted to see Central Park so we went back to Manhattan. Black Live Matter has been in the news and, while we don’t support the organization, we do believe that black lives matter, and feel strongly that people should be able to say those words without having their intentions questioned. The Mayor and others painted the words just outside of Trump Tower on July 9th and we wanted to see it.

We had Chick-fil-a for the first time! Had to eat it on the sidewalk because there is no indoor seating in NYC at the time.

Central Park has a splash pad which I promised the kids I’d bring them to! (I followed through on the 27th.) The rocks are fun to climb on!

The carousel is closed for now…

We found out that we don’t like the ice cream from the New York Ice Cream Truck…

Brooklyn Bridge from the train crossing the Manhattan Bridge:

Our bridge and our flag.

New bikes!

15th: I documented (took photos of) all the scratches, dents, broken things in the house so that we wouldn’t be held responsible for them when we move out. Not much going on other than our first trip to Target. You know you live in NYC when you have to take a train to Target! We also unashamedly ate CFA again! We ate just outside the Barclay’s Center. Anna fed the birds.

Stay tuned for week 2!

Posted in family, moving, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | 1 Comment