Thursday, March 29, 2007

I simply can't imagine where she got that idea.

Today while baking Easter cutout cookies, Chloe turned to me and said,
"Really, the main point of baking is so you can lick the dough."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Looking for New Tunes?

Have I told you about Pandora? It's a great free music website that is one of my current favorite things.

This is how Pandora works: Say you happen to like Jack Johnson (and my, what great taste you have). You enter Jack into Pandora's little box, and the folks at the Music Genome Project identify the characteristics of Jack's music that other musicians may share with him. They then create a special "radio station" just for you, streaming Jack Johnson tunes along with other similar great songs you may like. As the music plays, you can continue to customize the playlist by selecting thumbs up or thumbs down on the songs.

Have a hankering for a little Beyonce? Create a new station or simply add her to Jack's station (although the juxtaposition would be harsh. Whatever. It's your station. Do want you want).

It's a lovely thing when you have loads of work to do on the computer or simply need some background music. Just lovely.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Princess Marie Curie

On the bus today:

"Look, Chloe, I brought us books to look at on the bus!" Jonathan pulls his imaginary books out of his thin air backpack.
"Thanks," says Chloe, as she begins to turn the invisible pages.
"What is your book about?" I ask Jonathan.
"Dinosaurs in space."
"And what is Chloe's about?"
"Princesses," he answers.

They each take a moment to read.

"Look, Boona," Chloe demands. "This book is not about princesses. It's about science. With very important experiments. For me to do."
"Oh," he says. "Sorry." And he returns to his perusal of dinosaurs in space.

Yes, sorry indeed. We stand corrected, Marie Curie in-the-making, diva and scientist extraordinaire.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Toddlers in the City

It's true--families are choosing to stay in Manhattan rather than shimmying to the suburbs. White, wealthy families, that is.

Check it out.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Broken In

Think of your favorite pair of shoes and the time when they were brand new. Did they give you just a little thrill the first few times you stepped into them? Did you think about how they felt on your feet as you walked? Did they give you blisters or rub the wrong way? Did you cast an admiring glance at them as you crossed your legs, noticing the little details of the shoes?
Were you aware of them as you wore them?
Are you still aware of them, or are they broken in so well that you hardly notice that they're on your feet?

I was walking down Amsterdam the other day, and my steps seemed to be sure, and solid, and...forgettable. It struck me that the city feels broken in to me now. It is (relatively) comfortable and familiar. The new-ness, the strangeness of it doesn't burn like it used to. I don't notice little details; it doesn't thrill or blister like it did for the first while we lived here.

I'm grateful for the comfort that comes at this broken in stage, thankful for my ability to adapt to a new environment and culture. But it saddens me a bit that I am beginning to fail to notice the city and the people in it. Failing to appreciate its beautiful complexity in detail, as I did before.

Anne Lamott has written a book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, in which I remembered her saying, "There is ecstasy in paying attention. " But it takes a conscious effort to do that, right? It's hard work. And to not only notice, but to process--to think, "How does that relate to what I know, what I have experienced, seen, read, feel?"

To me, the payoff of the hard work is witnessing the wonder of God's hand, moving among the details, revealing himself to us. Sometimes I'll notice something, something tiny and seemingly insignificant that maybe only I saw, and I will think, "God arranged that. And I was part of it."

And his presence melts me.

Chloe is 6

Fully enjoying a birthday cupcake at Homer's Malt Shop

Why do the kids love Homer's? Large screen TV's tuned to Nick Jr. and Boomerang

City essentials: One sleek scooter with helmet

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Winter's Last Hurrah

Monday: Sledding in Central Park

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Picture This (Huh. Part II)

Winter has not given up, and Steve decides he'd like to warm himself with a steaming hot cup of coffee. He veers out of the stream of people trundling down the sidewalk and enters the front door of the local bakery and cafe. After ordering a medium cup of coffee, black, Steve grabs a java jacket for his cup, pays, and is on his way. He steps outside, anticipating the warmth that will counter the cold the blast of air.

He raises his cup to his lips,
ready to take the first sip,
and stops mid-air when he spies this on his cup:

Interesting product placement, is it not?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hey Bloggers

Look what Steph did with her blog archives...fantastic resource if you're trying to find a way to publish your blog.

This City is My Jungle Gym

Jungle Gym
(Jack Johnson feat. G. Love)

The city is my jungle gym
Look at this big great world that we're living in
There's lots of fun to be had on these streets
We can take a ride just you and me
It's a jungle gym
It's a jungle gym

cars and buses too
All the big kids going to school
I'm going to get a treat from the ice cream man
Catch me catch me if you can
It's a jungle gym

The city's nitty gritty
but it's so much fun

We can take a ride go tell everyone
It's a jungle gym
Sha la la la la la la la la la

These streets have got a rhythm
It's a funky beat
The more I learn inside the city
The more I learn in me

It's a jungle gym
It's a jungle gym

Movie theatres and museums
Fishing in the pond
ABC's 123's bring your friends along
Flying kites way up high into the blue sky
We can take a ride
Just you and I

It's a jungle gym

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It Tastes Like Spring

Sure, the crocuses (crocii?) are blooming, the temps are rising, the grass is greening. People are walking (a little) slower, Uggs are stashed away (amen to that!), and the little corner markets are selling bunches of daffodils and tulips.

But the real sign of spring in NYC is the re-emergence of two foodstuffs: Iced coffee and Mr. Softee. Certainly, New Yorkers can not be expected to give up their java simply because the temps are a little higher. No, just add a little ice, milk, and sugar, and you've got your caffeine and your cold drink in one. I enjoy iced coffee--it's replaced my white hot chocolate, btw--but I can't figure out why it's more expensive than a regular coffee. Answers, anyone?

The kids and I spotted the first Mr. Softee cone last week, and I actually stopped a 10 year old girl on the sidewalk to ask where the truck was parked. The kitschy little truck was waiting right where she told (across the street from the elementary school), and we indulged in small vanilla cones with sprinkles. Now that's what spring tastes like.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Jonathan and I were minding our own business, waiting on the corner for Chloe's bus.
I looked up to see two men walking toward me from a cab, pulling badges out of their shirts as they walked.
"Ma'am, did you call the cops?"
I shook my head. Mute.
They tucked their badges into their plainclothes shirts, turned around, and walked back to the cab, where they were still waiting when I ambled away 10 minutes later.

Monday, March 12, 2007


We played in the backyard today--the area around the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Riverside Park.

Then we rested.

What Amounts to a Hill of Beans

Was it you? Were you the one who grew tired of my complaints about the cold and kicked the weather machine as I had requested?

Well, thank you.

This weekend the weather took a turn for the very much better, with the temps rising 30 degrees almost overnight and the sun shining full blast. On Saturday, with Chloe at a playdate and Jonathan and Steve at the playground, I did something that I've imagined doing since we moved here. I bought a big cup of coffee, grabbed a good book, and sat on a sunshine-drenched park bench for an hour and a half. Part of the time I read, and the other part I people-watched and prayed. It was wonderfully renewing, and my love for this city and the people in it flooded over me yet again.


I'm still learning how to cook with the ingredients that are available in the neighborhood grocery (really, I'm still learning to cook, period. Please pretend with me, and we'll blame it on lack of ingredients). This weekend I had a yen for White Chicken Chili, which is made with great northern beans and other goodness. In the past when I've made this recipe, I've used a big jar of beans--beans that are already nice and softened and in the perfect amount. Two local stores did not have the jars of beans, so I went out on a limb and bought dried beans. Problem was, I didn't know exactly what volume a pound of dried beans would be after soaking and cooking them. For future reference, it's A LOT. I had to keep adding chicken broth and additional ingredients, and now I have a pot of chili the size of our refrigerator waiting for someone to eat it. Want to come over for lunch?


Last night Steve preached at Cedar Hill Christian Reformed Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. It was an interesting adventure to get there, as the guy who offered to pick us up and take us to the church was a bit delayed by traffic, and we all walked into the sanctuary 30 seconds before the sermon was supposed to start.

Steve recovered quickly and delivered a touching and powerful sermon (I know I'm biased, but really, he was good).

He spoke about John 14.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life..." it's so easy for people to see that as an exclusionary statement
...but in reality, it's the greatest invitation anyone has ever extended, with a guest list that includes every single person in this world...

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for YOU."
...a place made for each of us uniquely, because of our complete and total significance to God.
...Jesus invites us to come with him to this place, to know that we are loved and valued.

A quote from C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain):

Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him [God]; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.
The mold in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock.
Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.
For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but youyour eyes shall behold Him [God] and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you let God have his good way, to utter satisfaction….
Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Smile on a Saturday Morning

Lorraine posted this clip a few days ago, and I thought it was a perfect Saturday morning indulgence.

The guy can't dance, but he sure does love his life.

Love how he sometimes has to cut the dancing short because the animals get a little too interested.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quote of the Week

"This show would be really good if it weren't for all the singing."
-said by Steve, with all sincerity, while watching American Idol

Somebody Give That Thing a Good Kick

The weather machine here seems too be stuck on the Extraordinarily Cold and Windy setting. Average temps for this time of year are the high 40's; we've been having wind chills that are below zero. Does anyone have the number for a good repairman?

I realized earlier this week that I am feeling actual hostility toward the weather, as if it were a real live adversary. I scowled and muttered at it as I rounded the corner and was socked by the wind. I talked about it behind its back, and I schemed ways to avoid running into it on the way to the grocery store.

People who learn we're from Michigan will often say something like, "Well, this weather must not bother you. You're used to winter!" Yes, we're used to winter...we're used to driving in snow and ice, we're used to snowplows and shovels, and we're used to never-ending gray skies. We're also used to pushing the remote start button for our cars, which are waiting in the attached garage. After a sufficient time, we take two steps into the toasty warm vehicle, drive to our location and park in the convenient parking lot. We then take 5 steps (maybe 10, if the lot is busy) to the toasty warm store and we're all good. I never even invested in a hat or scarf.

The difference here is that we are walking for blocks in the cold, we're waiting for the bus in the cold, we're taking the kids to the park in the cold. It's a bit ironic that we are more in tune with the weather now, in the city, than we ever were when we lived in the "country" (I use that term loosely).

Maybe it's just the chronic case of hat-head that is wearing on me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

K-i-s-s-i-n-g: Kindergarten Angst

A few days ago, I walked in the bathroom to check on the kids in the bathtub. Upon rounding the corner, I discovered Chloe had wrapped the shower curtain around herself and created a veritable cocoon of white plastic.

"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I need some time alone," said she. This is the size of our apartment, that one must wrap themselves in a shower curtain to find some personal space. But that is a whole 'nother blog.
"Why do you need some time alone?"
"Because something happened at school today that I need to think about," Chloe said.
"A bad thing?"
"Someone said something to me and I didn't like it."
"Who said something to you? What did they say?" I asked, doing my best to stay my Mama Bear instincts and calmly, collectedly investigate the situation.
"I don't want to tell you, I just want to think about it."
"Ok, honey, that's fine. When you're ready to talk about it, just let me know. We're on the same team, right?" This is what I said. What I thought was, "Tell me now. Tell me right now! Whose mother do I need to call?"

Over the course of the next hour, Chloe processed the situation and then dropped facts for me to pick up and put together, Nancy Drew style.
"It was about me and Max and Jimmy." (names changed to protect the innocent)
"Someone said the same thing to Claire and she didn't like it either."
"I don't think Max and Jimmy really cared about it. I think I was the only one who didn't like it."

And then, the breakthrough.
"Remember when Max and Jimmy both said they wanted to marry me?"

Yes indeed, I remembered. Chloe's teacher told me about it. Max and Jimmy had said, in front of the entire kindergarten class, that they both wanted to marry Chloe. They demanded that she decide which one of them was for her. And my precociously political girl told them that it was silly to decide now, that she would decide when they were all in high school, if they even still knew each other then. I thought it was a cute story. But cute stories are not without consequences in kindergartens.

So I asked Chloe, "Was what the person said to you--was it about that?"
"Oh, Kiddo," I said, "as you get older, boys and girls will like each other and sometimes they'll both like each other at the same time and sometimes they won't...and it seems like kids will always tease other kids about it all. When I was little, we used to sing this song, Fred and Mary, sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g."

At this, Chloe's eyes grew wide, her relief evident that I knew of such things. "That's it! That's the song that they said to me. And I figured out what k-i-s-s-i-n-g spelled. Kissing!" Here she made a sour, boys-have-cooties face.

"I think almost everyone has had this song sung about them at some time or another, honey. If you don't like it, ask them to stop singing it, or just ignore them when they sing it, ok?"
"Ok," she said. "I think they were just being silly, anyway. It doesn't really matter."

Right on, kid. Self-differentiation is a good thing.

But growing up is hard, you know?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, Michelles!

Swing over to Michelle's blog and Michelle's blog and wish them a happy birthday!

I've known Michelle since birth
...we hung out in the church nursery together
...she always seemed to have a very avant garde short haircut
...we learned how to navigate the intricacies of Commodore 64's together

And Michelle, I met in the 5th grade one point she had kickin' Guess jeans (I can picture us in Calvinettes, you with your jeans)
...she was hopelessly in love with a fellow Sunday Schooler (do you know whom I'm talking about, Michelle? Of course you do).
...she would, and still will, sing the Indigo Girls with me

Happy Birthday to you, Ladies.