Sunday, December 31, 2006

Malicious, Opportunistic, Clever Little Stowaway

Before hitting the road toward Michigan last Friday, the kids and I attended a great little birthday bash for one of Chloe's classmates. During the party, the birthday girl's mother leaned over and said, "Uh, oh. I'm not feeling very well. I don't know if I'm going to make it through the rest of the party." I expressed my sympathy and offered to help serve the grub.

I believe that was when It snuck aboard.

The 12 hour nighttime ride to Michigan was uneventful. We arrived on Saturday, making sure to hug and kiss all the people we love and miss. Saturday night was a Big Family Christmas Party, with extended family hugs and kisses and more food than I should have eaten in a week, much less in one night.

The stowaway made its presence known Saturday night, and I spent 3 hours huddled in a cold bathroom, regretting every over-indulgent bite I had taken that evening.

I spent most of Sunday (Christmas Eve) fighting It, while Steve and the kids headed over to his parents to open gifts. I joined them in the late afternoon, only to discover that It had crept over to courageous Chloe. Chloe opened her gifts with all bravery and perseverance, pausing between gifts to run to the bathroom or lie prone amidst the discarded wrapping paper.

It visited Jonathan on Christmas Day,
Steve on Friday (tho he refuses to admit it),
My nephew on Saturday.
And in a brilliant maneuver, hopped aboard my brother-in-law to travel the seas with him on his holiday cruise.

Clever, clever, little flu bug. You sure know how to get around, no matter how much Lysol we use.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Beyond the First Verse of Christmas

I know the first verses of our Christmas carols so well, right? When it comes time to sing the first verses, I belt them out with all the Christmas spirit I can muster, and it is something to rival the angels.

Then comes the second verse. And the third. And the fourth. Which are sung with sneaked peaks at the song book and slightly less bravado. If I had to sing from memory, I'd average 1 correct word in 3. I simply never paid as much attention to the verses after the first.

Those poor neglected verses.

This year, however, I considered them closely.
And I found that those beautiful verses are the ones who give the meaning to the story of Christmas...

What happens after the baby is born in a stable and laid in a manger?

How am I changed by the story?

How is the world changed by the story?

The latter verses tell.

We're leaving for the homeland tonight, so I'll be taking a blogging sabbatical.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Of Course I'm Sure?

The kids and I were glad to meet up with a friend and her lovely children for an after school snack today. We decided to head to one of the local bagel shops on the Upper West Side. Like most, this shop is cozy, with an ambitious number of chairs and tables for its diminutive floor plan. It's a favorite place for retirees with newspapers and a hour or two to blow.

The kids had been in school for 7 hours and endured a 30 minute bus ride.
They are aged 5, 5, 3, and 1.
They like each other and seem to find one another hilarious to the extreme.
They were...not quiet.

It took us a few minutes to settle into the corner of the place, take off coats, tuck away scooters and strollers.
My friend went to the counter and placed her order while I stood guard. During this time, Jonathan was stricken which such laughter (brought on by his friend's snorting noises) that he fell off his chair. The one year old started to cry and Chloe asked, loudly and repeatedly, "Mom, can I have a cookie?"

My friend returned with her order, and I approached the counter. I told the nice man what I would like, and he said, "To stay or to go?"

"Oh, to stay, please," I said, with my best I'm-a-friendly-type-gal smile.

With a glance toward the moderate mayhem continuing to erupt in the corner, he snorted, "Are you sure?"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why We're Here

From Nancy Pearcey's book, Total Truth:

...Worldview is not an abstract, academic concept. Instead, the
term describes our search for answers to those intensely personal questions everyone must wrestle with--the cry of the human heart for purpose, meaning, and a truth big enough to live by. No one can live without a sense of purpose or
direction, a sense that his or her life has significance as part of a cosmic story. We may limp along for a while, extracting small installments of meaning from short-term goals like earning a degree, landing a job, getting married, establishing a family. But at some point, these temporal things fail to fulfill the deep hunger for eternity in the human spirit. For we were made for God, and every part of our personality is oriented toward relationship with Him. Our hearts are restless, Augustine said, until we find our rest in Him.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Battery Park City

Today we took advantage of the beautiful weather and explored the Battery Park City and Tribeca neighborhoods as possibilities for a church community.

(See them? Down toward the bottom)

Battery Park City was hit hard on 9/11. More than two thirds of the residents fled to escape the dust and debris of the fallen towers (Got that info from Wikipedia, so take it for what it's worth). Soon after, the gov't began offering insane tax incentives to spur redevelopment, and since that time high rise developments have sprouted like very tall, very expensive weeds.

Tribeca has seen some change in the last ten years as well. Many industrial buildings have been converted into residential lofts, and it's the trendy place to live. Tribeca has an subtle vibe of creativity and innovation running through it.

In the past couple of weeks, our eyes were continually drawn to these neighborhoods...people in these areas express a desire for a church that has family-like community mixed with strong, in-depth teaching and preaching.

Many of you are praying for us, and we are grateful for that. This week in your prayers, please ask that we are able to see clearly where God would have us do this work. It's coming down to the wire, and we need to make this decision.

Thank you...

Angela is 30 today.

(Give her a hard time.)
Wish her a Happy Birthday!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Good News


These are the languages in which I heard the Christmas story last week.

Ah, was the most beautiful thing I'd heard in many a month.

I couldn't understand the languages, but I understood the breadth and depth of the Love.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Daftly Drafty

One thing that attracted me to our apartment were the soaring windows that occupy an entire wall. Neglecting to consider that our apartment was located on the first floor of a 9 story building and surrounded by numerous other buildings, I actually thought those windows would bring in more light.

And what exactly do those windows bring in?

Not so much.

The windows usher in a brazen and malicious draft that chills the leather of the nearby sofa and encourages the curtains to dance and whisper.
A draft so antisocial it will chase away anyone ignorant or brave enough to sit within 10 feet of the windows.

A draft that relieves any potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

To counter the draft, I've taken to wandering around the apartment in a fleece blanket, wrapped thrice around in a muumuu/sarong/sari style. The blanket is a fire and electrocution hazard, it carries so much static. When I'm cocooned in my blanket the kids fear to come near me, lest the static reach out an aggressive finger and deliver one wallup of a shock. One night I spent some amount of time watching it crackle in the dark, my own miniature fireworks show.

But it keeps out the draft.

The lesser of two evils.

Have yourself a muumuu little Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dutch Bingo

Living in a strong Dutch community in West Michigan for the majority of my life, I became fairly adept at an activity called Dutch Bingo. Dutch Bingo is based on similar principles of the whole "Six Degrees of Separation" theory (where everyone in the world is linked to everyone else by no more than 6 people), or that Kevin Bacon movie game everyone played in college but I was never much good at.

I rocked Dutch Bingo, however.

An example:

Me: Hi, I'm Dana VanDutchwoman. Nice to meet you.
New Person: Yeah, nice to meet you. I'm Dutchie VanVanderMaasma.
Me: VanVanderMaasma...What high school did you go to?
New Person: Excellent High School. Graduated in '92.
Me: Right! Do you have an older brother named Hollander? My best friend dated him for a while.
New Person: Hollander is my cousin. How about you? Where did you grow up...

And so it went. By the end of the conversation, we could usually establish at least a couple points in common, and it was easy to build from there.

My Dutch Bingo talent is all but wasted here, really. This is the best I can do:

Me: Hi, my name is Dana NewNewYorker. Nice to meet you.
New Person: Hi, I'm Joe WestCoaster. Nice to meet you, too.
Me: So, um, do you breathe?
New Person: Yes...?
Me: Hey! Me too! Isn't that great, we've got that in common!

Slight exaggeration, perhaps. Still, the relationships that I've built here are based on no assumptions, which I've found to be an OK thing, because who's to say those assumptions would be true in the first place?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sorry, No Time to Blog...

...too busy negotiating their contract with Carnegie Hall.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Small Things I've Learned Since the Move

  • Over the door shoe organizers are useful for so much more than shoes.
  • It is possible to OD on Starbucks coffee. In fact,
  • I like Dunkin' Donuts coffee more than I do Starbucks. And it's cheaper.
  • You can't overestimate the value of a comfortable, durable pair of shoes.
  • Taking the bus doesn't necessarily save time; it only saves foot wear and tear. But alas,
  • Jonathan gets bus sick quite easily.
  • It's nigh impossible to catch a taxi at 92nd and Broadway at 9:00 am on a weekday.
  • I really, really like a Vietnamese dish called Bun Xao.
  • Any restaurant worth its weight will have the menu items numbered (to help overcome language barriers when ordering for takeout or delivery).
  • Bun Xao is number 78 on the menu at Saigon Grill.
  • I have a thing for bulleted lists on my blog.
  • It is wise to walk around lone wet spots on the sidewalk. Chances are it's dog pee.
  • I have accent envy. European accents in particular. Midwestern accents don't count.
  • Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong is worth a listen. (Nothing to do with NYC, but still.)
  • Our family membership to the Museum of Natural History was a great investment.
  • It takes about one minute to walk one north/south block. If walking with Jonathan, triple or quadruple that.
  • Keeping my feet shoulder width apart while riding the subway decreases the risk of falling into the person standing next to me.
  • My laundry budget is woefully insufficient. Speaking of laundry,
  • If I forget my laundry in the washer or dryer, I can expect to find my clothing (yes, unmentionables, too) scattered across the laundry room table for all to see.
  • Our doorman has an extra key to our apartment, especially handy when I close the door and then realize I don't have my purse.
  • I do love those bulleted lists.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I am an extrovert. And because I am an extrovert, I need to tell you about it.

I am also an optimist, a bit naive, and a tad idealistic. Bear with me.

I know these things not only from the multiple Myers Briggs personality tests that I've taken over the years (ENFP, in case you're wondering), but also from this fact: I am utterly energized by the people of this city.

There are times on the sidewalk when a wave of appreciation for the crowd streaming around me will stop me in my tracks.

Each person, loved by God.
Each person, uniquely created.

What is your joy? I wonder.
What is your pain?
What do you dream?
What stops you from dreaming?
What is your story?

At those times, I am thrilled that my story has crossed paths with the story of the people who shared the sidewalk with me, if only for a moment. I walk on, wondering whose story will intersect with mine in a more comprehensive way.

And I am simply happy that God has brought me to this place.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas is a grand time to be in NYC

We made the pilgrimage through 70 degree temps and spitting rain to Macy's Santa's Toyland last week.

Toyland was a wonderland.

Deliciously gaudy,

Delightfully tacky,

Every Christmas vision a child could have, made tangible.

Happy elves guided us down glimmering paths, each turn revealing another scene of lights and toys and Christmas cheer. And at the end of the path, a particularly elfish elf took the kids by the hand and coaxed them toward Santa's special room (turning their attention away from another elf who was taking another group of children by the hand, coaxing them into the other Santa's special room). Chloe and Jonathan surprised me by marching up to Santa (who had a real beard, I'm convinced) and telling him their heart's Christmas desire. The fact that Santa couldn't understand what they were saying did not pose a problem. He assured them that all would be well on Christmas morning and topped it off by looking at Steve and me and promising that there would be something for us under the tree on Christmas as well.

Afterward, we mulled over the window displays, which were interactive and had full volume sound effects.

Airline tickets to NYC are fairly cheap between now and Christmas week...