Wednesday, March 30, 2011

::New York: Day 2::

So sore! I knew I would be. I walked all 59 streets of New York with a heavy purse biting into my shoulder. My purses. My constant, and painful, companions. While I am so glad I opted to put aside my cute shoes and wear my sneakers, I came to regret having chosen to lug around purses with narrow shoulder straps, rather that a good hefty knapsack. How do these New York women do it? They haul around the same silly purses, but also don spiked heels! Then again, no one really walks too far here. The subway eats the miles for them, and gives their heels a rest.

Aidan and I hit the Subway at 8:30 or so. He showed me the lobby of his conference, where I took the opportunity to use the hotel washroom. (There is somewhere to pee in New York City!!!) And then I was adrift--alone in New York. And five minutes in I wanted to run crying back to Ottawa. I stopped in a at the first Starbucks I found and made a very big mistake: I ordered a "short" coffee. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. In Ottawa, when I ask for the size-that-dare-not-be-mentioned I am met with a sigh, as the coffee-person bends down to retrieve a "short" cup from the hidden stack, relegated to a dark cave in the shop. You see, the greedy Starbucks folk have been phasing out their "small" size. It is not advertised anymore. But I know it's there. So, when I ordered it in New York city-- a city that hands off it's leftover trend-tatters to Ottawa, I was outright gaped at. The girl pretended she understood me, then turned to her coworker with a wicked grin. "This lady wants a "SHORT" coffee." And then she snickered. The second coffee girl stopped in her tracks and hollered "a WHAT?!" And they both bent double with laughter. In time, I was handed a huge coffee. The girl passed it off to me with a look that suggested she thought I might be fragile-minded, or a creature to be pitied. Laughter follow me out the door. Hello, New York City! What else have you got to give me?!

I didn't dare enter another building for over an hour. I walked head down, into the wind, just waiting to be mocked or belittled. (And my coffee was cold comfort-- it was bitter.) I went from 34th street all the way up to 59th: Central Park. I spotted the trees from a few streets back. On any other day, a stroll in the Park might have been much more appealing. But it was very cold, and the park was very empty. Images of Home Alone II flashed into my mind: pigeon ladies emerging grim-faced from behind rock outcrops and the words; "no one goes into Central Park at night." Here I was, lone bumpkin, with an unwieldy red back stuffed with an expensive camera. Pass.
I opted to make my way in just past the entrance, to a lovely gazebo. I stood inside and made myself stay put for a few minutes, earning the right to say I visited the park. But then I scurried back down the path to walk the pavement again.

Walking towards me in jeans and tan loafers was Robert Downy Junior. Because of a vow I had made myself years ago-- never to gush, pander or display any symptoms of star-struck(ness?), I simply watched him walk away. Pat on the back for me. Minutes later, I spotted a bird perched on some ornate gold stonework and struggled to extricate my camera from my purse. I gave up, once the bird flew away, but I noticed the 'P' engraved into the stone. I looked up and realized it was the Plaza Hotel. Movies are not to be trusted, did you know? Nothing looks the way it ought to to in real life.

The shops around the Plaza were not for me. I walked past their shiny windows, but didn't even pause to check my reflection-- which I am in the habit of doing. I did find myself in Rockefeller square, and was taken by the vibrant artwork on the buildings. I suffered another minor humiliation when I went to take a piece of metalwork. My lens is fixed, so I had to back up to fit the art in my frame. Whoa! Toppled backwards into some bushes.
Interesting tidbit. I spotted a golden impression of two swords and a plow in the side of one building: Isaiah 2:4. Back home, I did a bit of digging into the meaning of the art in Rockefeller square. The term 'Illuminati' came up a lot-- an elite secret society, bent on world domination. Apparently that art around the square was meant to represent man's dominion over God. (?)


I spotted a store that I had heard a lot about: ::Anthropology:: I was immediately gripped with envy. The store was a piece of art. Every wall was covered in beautiful panoramics. All the products were stunning, and arranged artistically. I wanted to wear everything. I stumbled about a girl working on the display windows. There was fishing wire strung up to look like ship rigging. This girl was attaching thousands of cork along the wire. She had a hammer, a knife and a huge box of cork. I grilled her. "It's for Earth Day," she said. "And don't worry, we recycle the cork." Guess what? There exists an alliance for cork. ::Cork Forest Conservation Alliance::

I eventually asked a girl where I should go. "You know, if you just walked straight down Broadway, you would see the best of New York." And so I did. I made my way from 59th street right on down to 4th, and found myself in Greenwich Village. I have since awarded this cozy burrow "top spot."
Greenwich Village is a humble neighbourhood, stuffed with little shops and really yummy places to eat. I meandered from street to street until I saw a place that beckoned: Cafe Angelique. Black trim, fuchsia walls, vibrant flower paintings, punched tin ceilings, burnt orange cafe tables, a heavenly smell. I parked myself at a table, thinking of my last experience with new York retailers, and hoped this one would be different. It was.

The waitress was one of those people you want to hug and ask to be your best friend. She called me "bebe" and "sweetie," and told me to just settle in and take my time. Over the next two hours, I ate mozzarella, roasted red peppers and pesto spread on mini ciabatta and sipped on a coffee. Then, with a high-five from the waitress, I ordered a chocolate souffle with fresh-whipped cream and gelato, along with the prettiest latte I have ever seen-- or tasted. My friendly waitress's enthusiasm was explained when she lifted up her shirt and showed me her tummy flab; "New York is such a delicious city, and I can't resist it." Book open, I nibbled and read, and read, and read. Bliss.

It was time to go and find Aidan. I walked back up from 4th towards 34th again. along the way I found a very moving display of hand-painted tiles tied to a long stretch of rusty fence. The community had decided to come together and make something that would last after September 11th. A few chips here and there. But the tiles have remained there for ten years.

Upon reaching 34th street I came face to face with a part of me I can't seem to defeat. The part that is unable to focus on important specifics like, for example, the name of a hotel, or it's exact whereabouts. Aidan was waiting in the lobby of a hotel somewhere in the vicinity of 34th street, and I had no idea which one. There are a lot of hotels in one New York block! But then I was saved by the part of me that has so often saved me. The part that never forgets something my eyes have seen. I found myself walking into the entrance of a hotel that just looked right and waiting in a lobby that just looked right on chairs that just looked right and spotted a man who looked just right.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

::New York: Day 1::

Our drive to New York redefined road trips for me. It was quiet. There was room for my feet. The car air was not tainted with the scent of diaper. I had packed our favourite picnic foods: Havarti, chorizo, olives, baguette. . . And the quiet offered us an opportunity to get lost in an audio book. At the border, I felt that familiar knot of nerves in my stomach. But the guard asked me what I did for a living. "Mother of five," I said. "Well," he laughed, and ushered us through to our vacation.

We arrived at 6:30, or so, and were met by Micah and Ellie at the door. Susanna said she had told them they could stay up until we arrived. Those kids are irresistible. Ellie wasted no time in scampering into our laps. She was especially taken with Aidan-- even with his dark beard. It was very easy to settle right in.

My first day was a Brooklyn day. A rainy, chilly Brooklyn day. Susanna and I wandered up 7th with the two girls. We popped into an art store. Then a linen store. And her favourite coffee place. I was very impressed with the relationships she has established with the local shop owners. She knows lots of them by name, and takes a genuine interest in their lives. That's how community is built.

That evening we were gifted with a night on Broadway. Sus and I had decided to see Phantom of the Opera. Without having ever known what the story was about, I have always shied away from it because I suspected it had a dark plot line. It did, indeed. But I was moved deeply by it.

The Majestic theater was heaving with huge touring groups when we arrived. We were swept up in a tide and squeezed into the front lobby. May I just say, all of my veteran-usher sensibilities were affronted by the rudeness of the "ushers" of The Majestic. First, we were rampaged by a frizzy blond woman who seemed angry that we were there at all. "Wait for me!" she growled, even though we hadn't moved an inch. Then she pushed us back out into the main lobby, (even though our seats were about five rows from where we stood,) making fun of Susanna as she went.And just as we were piecing together our dignity, we were met by another usher who was bristling with irritation and directing patronizing comments towards a pair of Asian girls who were having a hard time finding their seats.

Thank goodness music transports.
All was immediately forgotten when the performance began. Truly, it was deeply moving, and I couldn't reign in a few shivers. I could have been lost in the depth of the darkness of the story, but my mind kept being held in check by the truth of the human experience-- that without God, the mind is a prison without comfort or direction. So many people in this world are trapped in isolation and loneliness. I found myself praying over the audience and the City: Be free!

We wandered into Times Square on the way home. I was blasted by neon. An important lesson I filed away for future days of New York travels: There is nowhere to pee in New York City! I was told 'no' again and again. I made a mental note to drink less coffee for the rest of my stay, or I might find myself in an awkward situation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

::New York City::

Aidan and I are off to New York for short under a week. We have distributed the kids among our friends and family. I am loaded up with books. And, most importantly, I said 'no' to the cute shoes and packed my walking shoes. (I have come a long way since high school.) You can count on many, many, many pictures.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

::Bare Bums & Paper Creations::

My peripheral vision barely catches the caravan of boys going around and around and around-- one bare bum exposed for potty training purposes-- But my ears do catch the shrieks and hollers of boys chasing boys. Such a loud pastime. School is out. My house is crazy. Yesterday I cleaned up honeyed oats four times! The littlest ones seem to enjoy pecking at it, and when my back it turned they heave open the pantry and fling the stuff far and wide. I have also been following a mysterious trail of yellow Lego blocks. Elijah must have prepared a game of Find-the-Lego-bits, then abandoned it. In the shower. In his sister's sock drawer. Propped on the railing. May my bare feet not encounter one in the dark.

The week has yielded some interesting craftiness. Elijah disappeared into the art room for an hour and came out with a model keyboard and a replica of our kitchen island, complete with fruit bowl, decorative twigs & one pound of tape. What a kid!

Aidan and I are going to New York on Tuesday! He has a conference, and asked if I wanted to come along. Yes! The kids are all cared for-- bless you, my loving family and friends! Where should I go? What should a wear? And most importantly, where should we eat?

If any of you have kids who are nearing the age of examination for the Lord's Supper, take a peek at the worksheets I have been preparing for Caelah. They are very intensive, but the purpose it to teach deeply.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

::From the mouths of children::

Gabriel: ". . . No, they are not human like us. They are French. . ."

Gabriel: "Boys can have babies."
Caelah: "No. They can't"
Gabriel: "Sometimes they can."
Caelah: "No, they can't have babies. They just get fat sometimes."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

::Nesting Place::

I have been feeling conflicted about posting my teaching lessons on my family blog from the beginning. Yet, I have been reluctant to share my teaching blog with everyone because it's not a wrapped package. It never will be. I will constantly be editing it, because I will be adding things I learn along the way. Also, I only have half a year's supply of material available. That in mind, please feel free to head on over. I just opened it up.

You need to keep in mind:

1. Nesting Place is VERY sparse. It is something that will build with time. If you click on a link and end up nowhere, or somewhere very confusing and unpolished, that's because I haven't taught the subject yet.

2. All teachers make mistakes. I am sure there are erroneous "facts" all throughout my lessons. Please have grace. But, also, feel free to point them out to me. A few clicks with my mouse is all it would take to set it right.

3. Please don't subscribe to this blog in an RSS Feed. It is not a typical "log," but a resource database. I will be that I am constantly editing each post. A Feed would send you this post over and over and over again. So, rather than subscribing, just check back when you feel like it and explore it directly.

4. There are lots of links to Worksheets that I haven't made available yet. I will soon.

5. I need input. If any of you know of links, books are other resources that would help fill in blanks. Please pass them along.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

::Birthdays & Icecream Sandwiches::

We have had two little boys grow into slightly older little boys this month. Gabriel turned 5, and Isaiah turned 3. My state of mind has been--frazzled of late. I normally combine the two birthdays for everyone's sake. This year, I completely forgot. So we had one party, closely followed by another. Now, when I say "party" I do not mean copious amounts of balloons, or bulging loot bags--fun as those might be. Our parties are really just gatherings-- the people we love most in one location, eating great food. When the inspiration takes hold, and the energy is available, I organize a treasure hunt, or an outing to a sledding hill. But the pressure is off. No need to compete with the $1000 parties out there. We just celebrate with all our hearts.

Isaiah's party was icecreamy & car mat zig-zaggy.
Sticky-fingered Simplicity.