Friday, July 28, 2006

New York City: The World's Largest College Campus

When we left New York this last time, Steve said it reminded him of his first few weeks of college: Many people in a small geographic area, all of them needing to be 25 different places to do 50 different things with only 25% of them really knowing where to go and how to do it. And over it all hovers a sense of potential and possibility--the pulse of the city. Steve was sensing the transient nature of the city, I think. Simply hearing the plethora of languages spoken in any given subway car will convince you that most New Yorkers were not born there, but rather, they have arrived there on some leg or another of their own personal journey. That, and we spent much of our time in the tourist attractions, where indeed most people had no clue where they were going.

Then I came across a quote from some famous playwright (So sorry, sir, I don't remember your name). "New York is where you go to become who you're going to be." Again, that sense of growth, of potential, that fits those transitional years of college.

So it makes sense to me that I've been thinking of college frequently. I've even been listening to a lot of the music that I did then--Indigo Girls, 10,000 Maniacs, Dave Matthews Band. Along with the New York possibility and potential that is so delicious, I'm feeling the same sort of imbalance and impermanence that I did in school. Only this time it's tempered with a dash of maturity (I hope), a loving husband, 2 great kids, and an absolute assurance that God is on this journey with me. So in the end, I can dwell in the possibility and potential.

I can't wait to see who we're going to become in New York City.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chloe's Caught the Blogging Bug

And she feels strongly that her creation be featured here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back Off

So I threw my back out yesterday. I'd love to say that my injury was the result of some heroic moving effort, say, like trying to carry a 50 lb. box down the stairs or moving some heavy piece of furniture. But no, this happened as result of reaching for a pen. Yes, you heard me right. I was reaching for a pen across the computer desk when I felt a sudden, excruciating ZING!, and I started to pass out from the pain. I know I'm not the world's most stoic woman, but when my hearing left me and my vision became blurry, I knew I was in for the worst.

This morning Steve basically carried me to the couch (how's his back now, I wonder?) and I stayed there all day. I went to the doc this afternoon and he gave me some Vicodin, which is why I'm able to sit here at the computer for a while.

What horrible timing. I could get really ticked off about this all, but what good would it do, really? I've been thinking about how I can remain productive in this state, but there are times when productivity just isn't going to happen. Didn't I just blog about our value coming not from how much we do, but from how much Christ loves us? Physician, heal thyself.

And take care of my back, while you're at it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Ladies, you're beautiful. I know it's rare to have friendships that have lasted for as long as ours has, and never think for a moment that I take that forgranted. You have supported this journey from day 1, and I thank you for it. Plus, you gave me an iPod. What more could a girl ask for?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chloe's School Interview, or What I Learned in the Big Apple

While we were in NYC last week, Chloe was able to interview for a great Christian school in Manhattan. It is unfortunate that this school would not accept her until they were able to interview both her and us, and by the time we got out to the city there were no openings in kindergarten. It's not a lost cause, I don't think, but for now I'm going to plan on homeschooling her this year. Homeschooling is something I've always kicked around, anyway. (Is it "homeschooling" or "home schooling" or "home-schooling?" I'd better figure it out if I'm going to do it.)

Some of you, like I was, may be wondering, "What on earth does a school ask when they interview a 5-year-old?" Keep in mind that schools in Manhattan (private schools, anyway) are uber- competitive and ambitious. It's not unheard of to have parents of a pre-schooler sit down with a headmaster and say, "Guarantee me that my child will be accepted into Harvard if they attend this school." Remember the school across the street from our apartment? The one that costs almost $10,000 a month? That's not really all that expensive, relatively. As a low key Midwesterner, I find it all a bit out of hand. But to the point--the school didn't ask Chloe all that many questions. Mostly they were concerned with ascertaining that Steve and I had a good understanding of the school and what we could expect from it (no, they won't guarantee acceptance into an Ivy League school, that sort of thing). Here's an approximation of how things went when they did ask Chloe questions (my thoughts are in italics).

  • Hi, Chloe. How are you?
  • Ok, honey, how about "I'm fine, thank you. How are you today, Sir?" Seriously, when have I ever taught her to say that? Has she ever called anybody Sir in her life?
  • Good. (smiles down at her lap)
  • Are you liking New York City?
  • "I'm finding it quite exhilarating and challenging, and I look forward to learning here." Wait, don't pick at that scab on your face. Don't pick!
  • Yes.
  • What's your favorite subject in school, Chloe?
  • Ok, Kiddo, anything is fine here. Just don't say recess or gym, and we'll be all set.
  • Crafts.
  • Crafts? Is that a subject? What about math? How about MATH?

You get the gist. You see, I fell into the trap so easily and quickly...the race of misprioritized ambition and competition. Of course we want Chloe to get a good education and have good opportunities in life, but I took it too far. Steve and I are going to the city to share the beauty and freedom of knowing that your value, your true value, comes not from what you do but from the love that Christ has for you. In that instant, I learned that it will be a great challenge for me to stay focused on the reason we're going to the Big Apple, to keep from getting swept up in the culture of Getting More, Doing More.

At the risk of making an understatement, I'm going to say that this journey will create just as much spiritual growth in me as it will in the people with which we work.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Kingdom Comes

Sara Groves could write the soundtrack of my life, no problem. Her insightful lyrics and flowing melodies mixed with an occasional kiss of country twang get me every time.

Kingdom Comes
by Sara Groves
When anger fills your heart
When in your pain and hurt
Your find the strength to stop
You bless instead of curse
When doubting floods your soul
When all things feel unjust
You open up your heart
You find a way to trust

That's a little stone, that's a little mortar
That's a little seed, that's a little water
In the hearts of our sons and daughters
This kingdom's coming

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home
When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the Name

That's a little stone, that's a little mortar
That's a little seed, that's a little water
In the hearts of our sons and daughters
This kingdom's coming
In the mundane tasks of living
In the pouring out and giving
In the waking up and trying
In the laying down and dying

That's a little stone, that's a little mortar
That's a little seed, that's a little water
In the hearts of our sons and daughters
This kingdom's coming

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Welcome to the Apartment

  1. The building
  2. The park, 1 block away
  3. The kitchen(ette), which is the first thing you see when you walk in the door
  4. The view of the kitchen from the living area
  5. One of the lofts in the bedroom
  6. The view of the living area from the kitchen

Friday, July 14, 2006

What Chloe Learned in The Big Apple

We took an early flight back to GR this morning and are glad to be home (although we now look at this house with different eyes--it all seems bigger than it had before we left).

About an hour after we arrived, Chloe plopped down in front of me with a cup and her recorder. "Mom, I'll play my flute and if you like what I play, you'll put money in my cup. If you really like what I play, you'll put a lot of money in my cup."

What does this say about her future occupation? What does it say about me, that I only put a quarter in that cup and Steve had already laid down a good dollar's worth of change? Hmm.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If Only I Could Figure Out how to Get My Pictures on this Computer

I did take a million pictures when we closed on the apartment last night, but I can't figure out how to get them on this computer without my EasyShare software. So the visuals will have to wait.
More details:
It's on the first floor of a 9 story building
There are lofts in the bedrooms so that all the floor area can be used for living space (think a step-up from college dorms. This is a very good thing, as the rooms are 10x11)
The building actually has a doorman, and all guests are "announced" (My cost efficient self wanted to ask if we could have a rent discount if our guests were unannounced, but I withheld).
There is a rooftop sundeck which all residents can use. They keep nice little grills up there along with patio furniture.
The bathroom door is about 18 inches wide. Going in sideways may be an option.
The kitchen is hideously small. I mean it. It's tiny. But it's got all the necessary items.

All in all, I can picture us at home there. It's a good thing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

We Found It.

Yep. We found a perfect apartment this morning and put in our application. We'll find out on Monday if we're approved. It's a "cozy" (that's NYC realtor talk) 2 bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (92nd and West End Ave, if you have a map). We had to pay a little bit more than we were hoping, but after seeing some super scary places yesterday, we decided it was worth it. The part I'm most excited about is that it is near a most excellent playground for the kids. I met a guy with two children of his own who already lives in the building. He sang the praises of the neighborhood, the building management, and the school across the street, which costs $10,000 a month to attend. I'll pass on that, I think.

"Thank you, God" keeps running through my head.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

We leave for New York bright and early tomorrow morning. We'll be there for a week, looking for an apartment. Chloe is also going to interview at a school, Geneva Academy of Manhattan.

Please pray for us while we're there. Pray that:

  • Chloe's interview will go well and that we'll have a clear picture of what the school situation will be in the fall.
  • We find a trustworthy realtor who is willing to help us find an apartment on a limited budget.
  • We find an apartment that will become a comfortable and secure home for our family.
  • The kids' first experience with the city is a positive one.
  • The city inspires us, reminds us of this vision God has given us.

Thanks all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Paul Simon and General Revelation

My good friend Karyl recently loaned me Paul Simon's newest CD, Surprise. I've had a thing for Paul for a long time, probably since the first time I heard Cecelia in junior high. I own a good few of his albums. After listening to this CD a few times, I told Steve that it was ok, but that I didn't understand the lyrics. Steve cocked his eyebrow and asked who ever understands Paul Simon's lyrics? Not me. Not since Cecelia.


Paul Simon is searching for something, that much is evident in Surprise. In the midst of some crazy analogies and obscure references, he throws in phrases like, "Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone? God will. Like he waters the flowers on your window sill," and "My children are laughing, not a whisper of care. My love is brushing her long chestnut hair. I don't believe a heart can be filled to the brim then vanish like mist as though life were a whim." My favorite is Everything About it is a Love Song. In this tune, Paul brushes over scenes of nature, and he ends with,

"The Earth is blue. And everything about it is a love song, everything about it is a love song."

Yes, it is a love song, Paul. To a Creator God who sings love songs to you, in return.

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. Psalm 19:1,2

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Power of Positive Thinking

Here are the good things I can think of when it comes to living in a tiny apartment many flights up.

  • We'll have less to clean
  • We won't have to worry about our cardiovascular health
  • We'll discover what things are really necessary
  • I'll have an excuse for not cooking in a tiny kitchen
  • Help me, here...


We leave next week to find an apartment, and I'm doing my best to be prepared to present an excellent application when we do indeed locate the elusive perfect Manhattan apartment (Steve called it "obsessive" today...Semantics, really). I'm discovering that you need much, much paperwork in order to rent in NYC; I believe that landlords can have high standards for tenants because the demand for apartments is so very high.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing the requirements from one average real estate management company:

1st step- Applying:
1) The most important step is to get your completed application to us ASAP. All roommates and guarantors must fill out and sign a separate application. The application must be brought directly to our office or sent via facsimile. The application can be downloaded from our website, picked up at our office, or requested via fax.
2) A $50 application fee per applicant must be delivered to our office before we process your application. The fee must be paid in the form of certified check, money order or cash and is non-refundable. This approval process can take 15-30 minutes after all applications and fees are received.
2nd step- Signing a lease:
1) After you are approved, you should make an appointment to sign the lease ASAP. Due to the quick rental market, the only way to secure an apartment is to sign the lease and put down a $500 minimum deposit. If you are quick to act, leases can usually be signed the same day you apply.
2) We accept several applications on an apartment until a lease is signed. Our policy is that the first person to sign the lease is the person who will get the apartment, regardless who had their applications in first.
3) At the lease signing we only accept Good Money such as certified check, bank check, postal check, money order and/ or cash. After you become our tenant, personal checks are accepted as rent payment.
3rd step- Verification & Completion:
A) We must receive full money for the apartment within two business days of the lease signing.
B) Here is a full list of the required items that must be faxed or dropped off at our office with in two business days of signing the lease:
1) A valid photo ID (driver's license, passport or other US Government issued ID).
2) A copy of the first two pages of last year's tax return or W2 form.
3) A copy of your last two pay stubs.
4) A copy of your last two bank statements.
5) A letter from your employer stating your salary, position and length of employment. (If you are seeking employment, you must provide an updated copy of your resume.)
6) A copy of your school registration, dated student ID, or a bursar's receipt if you are a student, or were a student last year.
7) A copy of your real estate tax or water/ sewer bill if you are a homeowner.
C) We verify all the information on your application such as your employment and tenant history, so please make sure we have proper contact numbers. We must receive all the required paper work, contact phone numbers (with adequate time to verify), and full funds before you are given keys to your new apartment.

And all that, assuming they even have an apartment you want in the first place. We have set our budget for an apartment at $2500/month, and we've been told for that amount we should expect around 700 square feet on the 3rd or 4th floor of a walkup building. One New Yorker told me that I shouldn't even expect much help from real estate brokers (who charge 15% of the annual rent as commission), because "your budget is SO LOW, they won't make much off of you."

See a need, fill a need, right?