Thursday, October 30, 2014

It’s a City Thing – Pedestrian Life

Though we have always had a vehicle since we moved to NYC, there are certain aspects of city life that are easier as a pedestrian. Our life right now is not quite as pedestrian as it was when we first moved to the city. Most of that has to do with the ages (and number!) of our children. Little legs can’t travel as far or as fast as Mommy & Daddy!

First Twin Family Park Outing
This is how we got around when our twins were first born – it took two strollers for an outing!

With so many small, mom-and-pop type shops, and so little parking, it’s easier to just walk to many destinations. I usually save up our errands in a particular section of the neighborhood, and then drive there and park. We then walk from the parking spot to complete all of our errands, and then drive home.  If it’s a hard-to-park-in type of neighborhood, we just walk.  And take a long nap when we get home!

When we first moved to NYC we were near a main avenue. All of the shopping, laundry, library, banking, park, and post office that I needed were within walking distance. Though we could easily walk to these stores, there is only so much that you can carry home. I would go to the meat market and fruit market on one day, the library on the next day, and to buy milk or mail a letter the following day. All of my shopping and errands were done in small pieces, rather than a large, stock-up type shopping trip.  I could only purchase what I could carry home or shove in the stroller! I really liked doing my shopping like this, and I even lost 20 pounds from all the exercise!

Brooklyn New York  Elaine 11 months asleep in stroller
L: It didn’t take us long to discover that the family pram wasn’t practical in the City!
R: Sometimes pedestrian life just makes you sleepy!  We carried her up three flights of steps like this to let her continue her nap in the stroller!

Elaine pushing the dolly stroller outside
Life as a pedestrian can get exciting, especially when the “littles” want to be just like Mommy!

Now that we have four small children, it’s harder to walk those long distances to get everything done. We have a large shopping basket under the stroller to facilitate small shopping trips, and I make those trips on nice days. We usually stop at the park on the way home to let the kids run off the rest of their energy.

Many stores do not have parking lots, and some neighborhoods are particularly bad when it comes to parking. Sometimes I spend the extra time and gas money to drive to a store that has a parking spot, just for the convenience. Many times I pay for a parking meter on the street and rush to do all errands within walking distance of that spot. Laundry cannot be done on foot anymore – there are too many bags of clothes to be washed!

Some of you may not be able to imagine life without the mobility that a vehicle offers. I struggled to go from being a two car family to a one car family when we moved to NYC. But when you live here, you learn that sometimes the vehicle just gets in the way. Its hard to park, it costs money, and traffic is slow. Often it is faster, cheaper, or easier to just take the train or get some exercise on a nice long walk. My kids have frequently walked 20 blocks to go a bigger park in the summer. How many suburban kids can do that at 2 and 3 years of age?!?

Living in the city has a big pedestrian side to it. We do find times when having a car is beneficial – bringing people to church, doing laundry only once a week (8 loads on average), and making a big shopping trip. But I love the pedestrian lifestyle and the good exercise it provides!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Missionary Moments

We have just returned from one of our “bigger” or “extended” deputation trips thus far.  We were in three different conferences back to back, taking us from October 8th to October 19th.  I think the Lord is giving me “little” trips like this to practice packing, presenting, and parenting on the road so I know better how to do it when we leave in January for 4-5 months. 

There were some funny moments, hard-to-deal-with moments, and exhausting moments (like putting 4,000 miles on our van since October 1st, including round trip from MA to WI in three days).  But all of these make up some very Missionary Moments.  I thought you might want to laugh and experience them along with me.

Missionary moments jpg

In Palmer, MA I gave my testimony for the first time without crying!  That’s a definite improvement! 

I learned that our new van is easier to move around in, but it also takes the bumps a bit harder.  I hit a Brooklyn pothole on the way out of town, and everything in the back in jumped up about 4 inches…including the clothes bar.  No – it did not land back in the same place.  It fell, along with all of the neatly hung dress clothes!

We stayed with a family in MA that had seven grown children.  We had told the kids that they had seven children.  We were sitting at breakfast with Mr. & Mrs. Begley, and one of their sons walked into the room.  Nolan immediately asked “Why does she have two husbands?”  Thankfully, the Begley's were not offended!

At the same conference, I opened Elaine’s Bible as Ben began to preach, and handed it to her.  She pushed it away, whispering, “That’s okay Mommy.  I don’t need it.  Daddy’s done this one before.”  Yes, he certainly has!

IMG_2459Learning to nap in the car

In WI we were supposed to stay with a family that came down with shingles and chicken pox.  Gratefully, we were moved to the home of a faculty member of Maranatha Baptist University (the host for the annual meeting of BWM, our mission board).  Since there were a lot of breakable things in this new host home, we opted to spend a lot of time on campus of the college.  Because four kids under four and breakable treasures is NOT a good idea!

This meant naps…in the student center.  Imagine being a college student and coming up to play carpet ball with a friend, only to discover two toddlers napping in the carpet ball thingey, and two pack n plays close at hand with sleeping babies.  Yup, I’d turn around and head back to the dorm too!

First Happy Meals

Last weekend we were in CT.  We were staying in the basement.  Ben was showering on Sunday morning when the tub drain or something went wrong.  The end of the story is that the bathroom was flooded, it seeped under the wall, and I went to church on Sunday without a shower.  Aren’t you glad you weren’t sitting next to me? 

This morning, I woke up in my own bed, completely confused.  I had to ask Ben where I was! I know that Nehemiah deals with this a lot – nearly every trip he wakes up crying in the night, probably utterly confused!

We are also learning to depend on the Lord in new ways.  For strength to drive and to stay awake.  For gas in the van.  For provision of our needs when we’re not at home.  Like being given postage stamps, and quarters for the laundry mat.  The Lord has been good to us, and I’m sure there are many harder deputation days ahead.

My mommy-heart was thrilled last night with a declaration from Nolan.  As we came into the City last night, he woke up and immediately was excited.  “Look Mommy!  That’s OUR city!  New York!”  It is so exciting to see my kids call this place home, and I can’t wait to make things a little more permanent in the Bronx.

OUR City

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baptist World Mission Friends

We have just left Wisconsin where we attended the Annual Meeting of Baptist World Mission.  This marks one year that our family has been with BWM!  Last year the meeting was in Alabama, and there we were approved by the board as missionaries serving with BWM.
This year we knew several of the missionaries we would see, and so we were looking forward to being with our mission board family again.  Elaine was particularly excited.  Here is why:

Last week in school we had to write a letter to a missionary.  That's a little challenging when you are the missionaries!  So we chose to write our letter to Gabrielle McKinley.  This began the excitement that in a couple of weeks we would get to meet Gabrielle in person.  The McKinley's are on deputation to go to Ireland.
All day on Monday Elaine asked constantly, "Where is Gabrielle?"  Finally, at dinner, we met up with the McKinley's.  Though Gabrielle is three years older, the girls formed a fast friendship, and a little "club."  We will likely not be together again until next October, but now Elaine has a face to put with a name for whom she has been praying.
Nolan also enjoying meeting Joel, and discovering that they both have cowboy boots.
It was nice for me (Andrea) to get to chat with Brandie again, too.  We laughed as we let our daughters (ages 4 and 7), take these pictures while the boys clamored to be included!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quabbin Reservoir and Faith Baptist Church

We have enjoyed being at the missions conference at Faith Baptist Church in Palmer, MA.  On Thursday we had a gorgeous day for a missionary outing - a picnic at Quabbin Reservoir.  The reservoir was formed back in the 1930s when four towns were moved out of the valley, two dams built, and the valley flooded. Quabbin Reservoir supplies drinking water for 2.4 million people - mostly the Boston area.

There were a few New England colors yet to be seen!

We hiked up to the tower to get a view of all sides, including Connecticut and New Hampshire.  We also got to walk across one of the dams, which is no longer open to vehicles.  The kids LOVED this!

Though it took some convincing, they finally decided to enjoy each other and hold hands!

We laughed at one sign that explained the Gull Interruption procedures.  The DCR stirs up the gulls each evening to prevent them from landing and brooding on the water all night, thus contaminating the drinking water.  I would love to see that in person!
At the end we visited a fishery and the kids got to feed rainbow trout.  No pictures of that activity - I was too busy trying to keep the twins from taking a swim!
There was another special treat from this conference - getting to meet some "virtual" friends in real life!  I (Andrea) have been friends with Rosa Balzamo on blogs and Pinterest for several years.  The Balzamo's are now on deputation to plant a church in Norwich, CT.  Last October they came to present at our home church, and they stayed in our apartment - while we were out of town!  We were in Alabama getting approved by BWM to begin our own deputation.  We have followed the Balzamo's around several New England churches, and it was so nice to finally meet up in person!

I was in college with two of Rosa's siblings, and I have been blessed by the testimony of her whole family.

Ben and Tom Balzamo