Friday, December 12, 2008

We're faking it this year

After 33 years of picking the perfect fresh Christmas tree, we broke down and bought an artificial tree. This, inspite of the fact, that on every street corner in New York there are Christmas tree vendors. We just weren't sure a fresh tree would live more than seven or eight minutes under the hot air vent in the living room.
We don't have that smell of fresh pine, but I think the tree looks pretty authentic.
Our next challenge will be to find a place to store this beauty. Perhaps in our rooftop garden?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The not so impossible dream

I have dreamed of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in person most of my life and this year, Paul made that dream come true. He secured VIP passes for us and we watched the parade from start to finish. The Spongebob balloon was a little bit scary, but I knew Mere would like this photo. Pat and Mer and Kendall, Berkeley and Emery were able to join us for Thanksgiving week and helped make our first Thanksgiving in New York extra special.

Friday, November 7, 2008


October was an amazing month of travel and fun houseguests. We started the month out in Utah, came home to a week long visit from Paige, Tyson, Avery, Megan, Blake and Mere with a hint of Brent (he was only here a couple of days) We had lots of fun discovering all the kid parks in the neighborhood,riding the carousel in Central Park, playing in the playroom, going to the Bronx Zoo,and more! Then we had a couple of days to wash towels and sheets before Randy shared his vacation with us. I believe that Randy and I broke the one day record for distance walking while we took in the sights of the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Time Square, Rockerfeller Center, but we made time for a hot dog in Madison Square Park. We also had a wonderful morning in the MET and with Randy's help, I have finally found a huge interest in Egyptian Art. With reluctance we sent Randy on his way, but boarded the plane for a trip to Montreal to see Joel and Genean. We were treated to a trip to Quebec City where we participated in Zone Training for the missionaries. This is always so much fun. Then we spent a night in the historic Hotel Frontenac with the only disappointment being that the Beaver Tail was closed for the season. Apparently this is a pastry place worthy of a future visit. We also got a glimpse of the 20 miles of underground shopping in Montreal. A visit with Joel and Genean always makes us appreciate the huge amount of work it takes to serve as a Mission President and Mission President's wife. We came home exhausted and yet Joel and Genean were anxious to get back into their routine of travel, training, speaking, counseling, cooking, cleaning, etc. etc. The fun doesn't stop there. We arrived home with a few hours to spare before Karen, Jana and Dallin arrived for the Halloween weekend. Once again, I donned my walking shoes and showed them the sights of the city. They managed to see a ballet, Hairspray, Mary Poppins, and the MET. That's not to mention a temple session, a visit to a jazz club, the Halloween parade in the Village, walks through Central Park,and of course, the stop at the Shake Shack for the world's best hamburger.
Thanks for the October memories.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hedging your bets

The economy has everyone scared. Lots of people are taking on second jobs if they can find them. Case in point, check out our new neighborhood pretzel vendor. He gave me extra mustard because I knew his name.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The J Quarter Circle finds a home

With this in our doorway in Austin we were often asked "What does the J stand for?" Some thought it was for Jan and many thought it stood for Jesus. I wonder what our New York friends will think it represents? The Jets! The Jiants! or maybe The Jankees!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Home Sweet Home, finally...

Paul and I celebrated Saturday night by actually sitting on our sofa for the first time in four weeks. All of our furniture has been covered during the painting and crown moulding project in the condo. The last of the painting was completed Saturday night and now we can begin cleaning up and unpacking. The construction dust is everywhere so it will take a good week to get that cleaned up, but at least we are walking on wood floors and not drop cloths, sitting in chairs and not on our bed, and the best part, I don't have to go down to the gym to go to the bathroom during the day.
We did have a problem finding window treatments, but came up with the best solution and they look great. Let's just say that if the stock in Velcro went up last week, we can take credit for that. Finding the right furniture is our next challenge, but we are up for it. Once we hang up the J Quarter Circle brand, you'll know we have finally made it our home.

North Carolina on my mind

Paul and I spent Labor Day Weekend with Pat, Mer, Kendall, Berkeley and Emery Jane. Emery was given a beautiful blessing on Sunday by her dad and then we just a great time with everyone. We went to a local parade,visited the library which has books AND dress-ups, bonded with Emery, sent Kendall to her first week of kindergarten, read books, played games, made cookies, visited Berkeley's pre-school, and basically had a great time. Paul helped Patrick with a few out door projects and now rain gutters are flowing freely and dead bushes have been taken away by the trash guys. Thanks for letting us share some wonderful days with you.

I didn't even cry

Paul and I went to get our new driver's licenses today and to register our car in NY. Paul's admin was joking about notifying our next of kin when we didn't return for two weeks and our doorman asked if I had a sleeping bag and can of bean with me when I told him where I was headed. Well, let me tell you, we were finished with everything in 45 minutes! We stepped up and they said, need your application. Got it. Need your original social security card. Got it. Need your old driver's license. Got it. Need your passport. Got it. And this is where they thought they had us. Need a letter from Texas with your driving record. Got it!!! I also had taken our birth certificates and our citizenship grades from elementary school. Appreciated, but not necessary. Look at us being New Yorkers!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Utter chaos

For those of you imagining that we are living in the lap of luxury, let me just put that myth to bed. Yes, we did move into the condo and had a few short days of peace and quiet. Then the carpenters and painters moved in. Their two week project has turned into four weeks, but we knew that would happen. Turns out working eight hour days is just too strenuous for these guys. However, when they are finished, we will have crown moulding, casings around all the doors and painted walls. I know, you probably thought like we did that this should be included in a newly constructed condo. Wrong!!! So we are living with the construction mess and while I am trying to be a good sport, I have had my moments of despair. The photos tell the story and I am only showing you the rooms that look the best! Soon, maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon we will have a place for you to stay.

I'm so glad when Meredith comes home, glad as I can be

Meredith came home for her break between semesters and we had the best time together. We explored the thrift shops in the East Village, checked out the craft and accessories shops in the fashion district, visited the Frick Museum and the Guggenheim Museum, sat in Central Park, shopped, and ate food from the street vendors. It was all great. We worked on a couple of projects and spent time in the media room of our building avoiding the painters and carpenters. We loved having her at home.
Paul was able to take a couple of days off while she was here and we had even more adventures. We rode the carousel in Central Park, watched the Dark Knight (very dark, I might add), and rode the train to Coney Island. We didn't have a hot dog eating contest, but we did visit the site of the annual 4th of July event and of course we had to have a hot dog. What is it about hot dogs that makes them taste so good? We also knew that we couldn't leave Coney Island without riding the Cyclone. This is one of the oldest roller coasters in the country and according to Meredith one of the scariest rides she has ever been on. Perhaps a ride that discourages you from riding if you are pregnant, have heart trouble, have ever had back or neck trouble, and don't like being thrown around like a rag doll, should be avoided. We chose to ride. And while it was scary and we did get thrown around and were stiff and sore for several days after, we loved it! And we loved having Meredith at home for a few weeks. Thanks for a great time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New York State of Mind

In the last month we have had eight visits from friends and family and we feel grateful that some of those fit into both categories. You decide where you fit. Each set of visitors has inspired us with their enthusiasm for sightseeing and making the most of their time in NYC. Paul's sister Susan and her family had just two days in the city but managed to take in the Staten Island ferry tour, walk through Chinatown and Little Italy, catch the lights at Time Square, with time to spare for swimming at the hotel. The next day they arrived to say "hello," park their car and hop on the train to get to Yankee Stadium for a tour of the ballpark and ball game. They were gracious enough to delay their five hour drive home to have dinner with us so we could all catch up and it gave me a good excuse to buy cupcakes from the Buttercup Bake Shop. Other visitors have taken in Broadway shows, walks through museums, more baseball games, and tours of the city, etc. This past weekend Sam and Jolene Bodily introduced us to a new way to see Manhattan. They rented bicycles and rode from our home at 70th down to Ground Zero, to the Brooklyn Bridge, through some of the sights in Brooklyn, back across the Manhattan Bridge, up to the United Nations and across Central Park back to our place. That was just the first day! The second day, they biked from here up into Harlem and back. It must be mentioned that they also took time out to go to church with us, visit several museums along the bicycle route, take us out to dinner a couple of times , have lunch with other friends, and we still had time for some nice, long visits while we stared out the windows watching the boats float by on the river. They were kind enough to leave all their maps and rental information behind for future visitors who are so inclined. I have only known New York as a tourist so on the days when I have to clean or do laundry, I have to remind myself that I am not on vacation anymore. I LIVE HERE! Wow, it still amazes me. (Photos include the Gates Family--Richard, Susan, Sam, Will, Emily & Rachel Sam and Jolene Bodily-in front of the Dakota where John Lennon was shot. Not their most exciting adventure in the city, I might add)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Attitude of gratitude

I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't take a moment to share a few words of gratitude for the all the help we have received in making this transition to New York City. We have certainly felt the Lord's guiding hand and are so grateful for His influence in our lives. We had many wonderful friends who helped us pack up a storage pod that was left behind in Austin (Thanks to Palmers, Hazens and Soelbergs), the Hazens babysat our car until we found a place to keep it here, the family who bought our home couldn't have been nicer about helping us get our tv shipped out here, and our new friends in New York have been very gracious to welome us to the city. A special shout out to Paige and Brent who helped with those last minute moving details, always the hardest part of the move. And thank you to all of our kids and our family members who offered so many prayers on our behalf. And there was evidence that our parents were looking down from the heavens watching us and wondering what in the heck we were doing, but we also felt of their strength and confidence in us. There were some discouraging days in this process, but one day I was reminded of my ancestors who left homes far away and traveled to this city, landing on Ellis Island. They didn't have jobs, homes, some had left family behind and some didn't even speak English. But they came because they wanted to join their fellow Saints. They didn't stay long in New York, but were resourceful and found ways to travel across the country in wagons and handcarts experiencing difficulties beyond my imagination. Our arrival in NYC was very different---we had a job, a place to live, we spoke the language (with a touch of a southern drawl), but we had one thing in common with our ancestors. We arrived with great faith and a desire to find fellow Saints. This is going to be a great adventure and there is none better to do it with than Paul.

Up, up in the sky, where the little birds fly

We made, we really did it, we are in our new home! It hasn't been without its ups and downs, but now we are up, up on the 29th floor. Our closing had been postponed three times, but Friday I got a call saying "we are 80% certain it will happen, but don't get the certified check yet." So I wait and wait and then get a call at 1:00 saying, "we're going to do it!" I email my banker who is on email speed dial, he gets the check ready, I literally run to the bank which is 7 minutes away, grab the check, hop in a cab, and ask the cabbie if he knows how to get to the address? He can't understand me, I can't understand him and we are 20 minutes before the closing is to start and getting no where. Finally I explained where I thought we should go and he turned around and said, "will you trust me?" What was I to do? So I said "yes" and he turned around and went 14 blocks in the opposite direction. We hopped on the FDR, zipped down the east side of the island, past the Brooklyn Bridge, hopped off the FDR, went down some crazy side streets and at 1:59 he stopped and said, "there's your building." Wow, we'd done it! I dashed into the attorney's office and found not just our closing, but six others going on at the same time. We were each in a little cube with two attorneys and the title company representative and the paper signing began. It was like one big assembly line, and six of us walked out two hours later hoping we had made the right decision. I met Paul at our new home, we picked up the keys, he carried me over the threshhold (that would be a virtual carry) and we did a dance in the living room. Saturday the movers delivered all of our things from a storage facility in New Jersey and at 4:00 we bid them a fond farewell and began the process of moving in.
We are officially New Yorkers, but always and forever Red Sox Fans.
We would love to have you come and see us and share our lovely views of the Hudson River, Central Park and the NYC skyline.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We need a "guy"

We mentioned to our banker that we were going to buy suits for Paul and his immediate comment was "I have a guy." Then we mentioned to someone else that we needed a carpenter and he said, "I have a guy." Everybody seems to have "a guy." And let me tell you right now we need "a guy." Our closing on the condo has been postponed twice because the city can't seem to find time to issue the occupancy permit. We need a "guy" who can get this done. We are now scheduled to close on July 25 and really, really hope it happens. Our investment adviser called the other day to ask if we wanted to have him make some calls on our behalf to see if he could make this happen. He's not sure he has a "guy", but he is going to see what he can do. Anybody out there have a "guy?"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pumped up

Today I timed my work-out in Central Park to coincide with the first annual "High heel-a-thon" sponsored by Regis and Kelly to benefit the March of Dimes. Over 600 women (and 11 men)lined up in 3 inch or higher heels and ran 150 yards to compete for a prize of $25,000.00. And when I say "ran" I mean it. It was amazing to see the four or five women in the lead tearing down the street in their heels. I didn't take any photos, but I'll bet YouTube or the Regis and Kelly website would have the race if you wanted to watch it. And yes, I did get within handshaking distance of Regis and Kelly.
Even the Goodyear Blimp was on hand to monitor the event. I guess you could say, watching events like this is another reason we are "soled" on New York. (I had to do it)

Do you speak English?

Four simple words you should always ask your hair stylist. A picture's worth a thousand words.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Make new friends, but hang on to the old ones!

We had a happy 4th of July weekend and celebrated with the best kind of friends---old friends. Paul's missionary companion, Bruce (Sporto) Nelson and his son Spencer joined us for the weekend and were gracious enough to join us in our wanderings around the city. The night of the 4th Paul and I walked just a couple of blocks to watch the fireworks from FDR Drive and we were not disappointed. Lots of good explosions lit up the night sky. Saturday we visited the Upper West Side and showed off our new digs then made it back in time to catch the subway to Yankee Stadium where we watched the Red Sox lose is a very close game. Andy and Karen Esparza from Austin had invited us to join them in the luxury box they had purchased in honor of Andy's 50th birthday celebration and it was great fun watching the game with them and their friends and family. A weekend of friends, what could be better!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Put on your rally caps!

In a couple of weeks, NYC will host the baseball All-Star game in Yankee Stadium. For those of you who don't follow baseball, this is the last year games will be played in the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Apparently this is rather significant for Yankee fans (of which we are not) and many people are coming to New York this summer for one last chance to see the Yankees play in their old stadium. Every Sunday for the past few weeks we have had visitors who have come for just this purpose. Paul makes it a point to make these families feel welcome and when he finds out they have come just to see the Yankees play, he looks at the kids and says, "you know what Yankees spelled backwards is?" Paul hesitates and then answers, "Satan." You can see the kids furiously working this out in their little heads until they realize that Paul is joking. It's a joke that always works. This week, Paul's former missionary companion, Bruce Nelson and his son will be here for the weekend to watch two games. Paul and I are going to the game on Saturday with friends, Andy and Karen Esparza from Austin. Ordinarily we wouldn't be so excited to see the Yankees play, but they are playing the Red Sox. Should be an exciting time. In celebration of the All-Star Game, Lady Liberty has gotten on board. See photos. We are still searching for the Red Sox Lady Liberty, but suspect she must be under heavy guard or already demolished by Yankee fans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Killing me softly.....

We spent our Saturday exploring Central Park and came upon a group of kids playing guitars and singing. Upon closer inspection, we discovered it was the "graduation" of the kids from the Roberta Flack School of Music. And guess who was in the house? That's right Roberta and me!!
She agreed to have a photo with me just after we sang our duet of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." I'm not sure she knew we were singing a duet, but let me just say, it was good. You just never know who you are going to meet in the Park.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Seattle's Best

Megan and Matt have so many entertainment options right out their front door. The Seattle Art Museum is across the street and this fine movie theater is right next door.

Visiting the International District doesn't even require a passport. In the days before we were so politically correct, I believe we may have referred to this area as China Town.

Blake and I had a good time at the children's library, but it was hard for him to understand that we were limited to just one hour on the computer per visit.

Megs, Blake and I took the water ferry to West Seattle and not only discovered a fun beach, but a very fun bakery. Unfortunately the photo does not do justice to the cinnamon rolls. Just imagine that each one of these is the size of your head and then you get the picture. Yes, we did indulge and I would highly recommend taking them up on the offer to heat it up before you eat it.

Pike's Market was an adventure. Flying fish, flowers of all varieties, fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm and grandma's riding pigs were all part of the fun. I suppose you could say, I went hog wild in Seattle. Thanks to Matt, Megan and Blake, truly Seattle's Best, for making it such a wonderful week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Laughter is the "breast" medicine

It has been fun getting acquainted with the different neighborhoods in the city. For example, if you live by the Flatiron building, you are in the Flatiron District. If you are east of Central Park, you would say that you live on the upper east side. Right now Paul and I are living south of the park, but east of it so we are on the east side. Our new condo will be on the Upper West Side. Other neighborhoods are Battery Park, Lower East Side, Downtown, Harlem, Chelsea, Union Square, Times Square, Hell's Kitchen, etc. I had a meeting on the Upper West Side today and decided that while I was there I would explore a little bit and see what businesses and shops would be in our new neighborhood. I was delighted to find that one business had a particularly good sense of humor. I walked past and had to back up and read the sign again because it was an imaging center and it was called Upper Breast Side Imaging Center. It somehow seemed a bit awkward to stick my head in and ask if I could take a photo so I didn't. But as I was walking along I began to wonder if for those of us with a few years on us and a few more years with gravity doing its trick if we would have to go to the Lower Breast Side Imaging Center.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It was "frick'n" good

Today I visited the Frick Museum which is housed in the mansion of Henry Clay Frick who made his fortunes in the steel industry. It is a wonderful collection of several artists and just the right size so you can enjoy it without feeling overwhelmed. A few years ago I saw a painting by Whistler and was blown away by it. Lucky for me he had several paintings in the Frick Museum and I was similarly impressed.
When your feet are weary and you need a little break, you can walk across the street to Central Park. As you can see, several people had the same idea. Paul and I have spent many hours in parks around the world and we both agree that Central Park is one of the prettiest urban parks we have found. We run in the park every morning. Okay, I lied. Paul runs in the park every morning and I walk in the park. We try and get at least four miles in each morning and on the long runs which take us around the reservoir, we clock about five miles or a little better. Every day I discover a new path to take and it leads me to a different child's playground or another statue or like last Friday, to the front door of a castle. I love it. Every day a new adventure.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Building Bridges


There are lots of bridges, i. e. the London Bridge, Bridge Over the River Kwai, grandpa's bridge, bridge over troubled water, but only the Brooklyn Bridge was celebrating its 125th birthday this week. In honor of this great achievement, Paul and I walked the bridge on Memorial Day. At the time it was built, the tallest building in NYC was six stories high. You can imagine the delight, the fear, and the amazement of the people in NYC and Brooklyn when they crossed the East River on this massive bridge and stood much higher than they had ever stood before. We were similarly amazed. From the bridge you can see Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, Fulton Fish Market, a spectacular view of Manhattan, the busy East River. Certainly a great adventure and one I would recommend when you come to visit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The other "man" in my life.....

Mr. Softee. I love these trucks. They are everywhere on the streets in NYC and the people standing in line for the treats are as varied as the delicious items on the menu. You have Wallstreet bankers, school children, homeless people, moms & babies, doormen, and policemen. When Mr. Softee calls with his alluring music, he is very hard to resist.

These are a few of my favorite things....

Patrick, Meredith, Kendall and Berkeley were our first out of town visitors and we had so much fun showing them around the neighborhood. While they were here we visited our new condo, went to the Today Show (and made it on TV), went to the Top of the Rock, walked and played in Central Park, went to the zoo, rode the carousel, visited Paul at work, and even had time to see the movie Horton Hears a Who and Pat and Mer were able to see Wicked. Whew! All that in just four days. Sitting at the dining room table and doing puzzles with Kendall and Berkeley was one of my favorite things. Hearing the word "grandma" was another favorite thing. Sharing the adventure of living in NYC with those we love is probably my favorite thing.