Traditions We Keep

Christmas was a follows:

The participants.

The parents/ hosts. Steve and Linda.

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The married children- Antony and LaTasha

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The dating children. LaTasha’s sister Nyesha and her boyfriend/our cousin- Brad

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Me and Vanessa

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Troy

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And Briana.  At 17 she’s the closest thing our family has to ‘children’ right now.

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The events:

Some traditions have changed now that we are older.  But some things stay the same.  In this case- it’s Christmas brunch.  Served by my mother.  We almost always feel bad watching her run around the kitchen.  But she says- this is her gift to us.  And we don’t really complain.

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Then we wash dishes.  (Once we have consumed the adequate amount of good food of course.) (Also. The dudes mostly nap or something during this time. Seems like this is a tradition that is probably not unique to us.)

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Then we slowly make our way over to the living room for presents.  By ‘slowly’ I mean ‘distractedly.’  We take plenty of time to stop for stories, pictures, and a quick huddle around a phone. ImageImage

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Then- because this is Christmas- we have a long talk about what Christmas is and means.

And then we open presents.

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And then.  Well.  Because the best way to celebrate Christmas is with family- we just hang out.  Mostly by playing games and chatting and chatting.

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And I realize.  At the end of it all. That there is a reason everyone wants to be home for Christmas.  And all my reasons- are right here at home.

Home for Christmas

I know. You were dying to know how my last week of school went. and how I felt about being home.  And then I went and posted a day late. Mercyme!

Just kidding. You probably didn’t even realize that I post every Sunday.  But I do. And missing a day of posting, even if I have nothing to say, makes me feel… incomplete. Like my to-do list isn’t done?  Idk. We could psychoanalyze this if we want (I often wonder to myself why I have a blog anyways.  Talk about TMI to the world.) But.  That’s not what this post is about.

MOOVING ON.

This post is about (as previously stated) my last week in NYC for the year and my first few days home.

Part 1?

My last week at school was much what I expected it to be.  I thought I would be sadder- but I was too happy about going home for break. And being done w/ the drama that is my school some days.  But hugging all my friends and kids goodbye is a rather sad thing.  My friends, of course, I will see again.  But it’s my kids I’m not sure about.  I have a new placement in the spring.  And I hope I get to see them again.  But I’m not so good at telling the future.

But they were adorable last week. We had parties in speech group.  I made them cookies and they liked them. We played games and had fun. They sang a “we will miss you so much” song and asked if I will work there when I graduate.  I had conversations about my favorite colors and was screamed at with the words “I LOVE YOU!” I got kids jumping out from under tables and homemade cards.  I got “visit us” and “keep in touch.”  And I realized, again, what a special thing it is to teach.

I mean.  I’m not a regular teacher.  I know very little about a lot of things.  But I know a lot about speech and language and social skills.  Which, interestingly enough, you need in order to access and express everything you learn and know.  And so.  I get to teach after all.  I teach very specific things.  But sometimes.  What I teach is life changing.   I think teaching, regardless of what you teach, is about empowering kids to be and do their best.  And I’ve decided I like it.

Part 2?

So.  When the sad, sappy of the week was over I packed my bags and boarded a plane to the midwest.  On this trip I tried my very best to fly to South Bend, as it is much closer than Chicago and saves my airport pick up team some time.  Well.  Apparently, in South Bend it was too foggy to land airplanes.  Now.  Being the independent adult that I am, I was perfectly able to locate my luggage, make a decision, and ride a bus (rather than a plane) to South Bend.  Which I did quiet successfully I might add.  Even with my phone dying.  But to be honest.  There were a few moments when I thought to myself “I JUST WANT TO BE HOME. WAHHHHH!!!”

On the plus side.  I had an incredibly interesting and challenging conversation with the lady next to me on the bus.  About spiritual things of course.  And I realized that riding buses instead of planes wasn’t so bad after all.

The next day was not without it’s drama either.  I only called 3 airlines to make sure my return flights would not be canceled.  And discovered lotion had exploded in my suitcase.  And my debt card was part of the Target security breach catastrophe and I needed to go to the bank to get a new one.

So. It was a rough start to arriving at home.  Not the end of the world.  But not a party either.

Part 3?

Which leads me here. To the realization that it all doesn’t really matter.  I’m home.  And I’m happy about that.  I don’t have homework.  I don’t have lesson planning or studying or even cooking to do.  Instead I have friends and family and Christmas to prepare for. And when you have time, inconvenient things aren’t so inconvenient anymore.  It’s all about perspective.

p.s. Merry Christmas friends!

(Yes. That is a link ^ ).

The End?

the christmas season

best served with rhyme

tells of mary and joseph

and finals time

the happiest among us

have time to go shopping

but students we are

and to bed we are flopping

but today i am

among the happiest of all

only 1 week and no tests

before i’m home for the long haul

my projects are donish

and my finals were canceled

it’s my last week at placement

and I’m sure to be trampled

by mixed feelings of sorrow

and joy yet too

to be leaving my kiddos

oh what can I do?

on one hand they are

much to crazy to love

and on the other

they’re something I’m never sick of

I wish I could share

All the things I have learned

But to sum it all up

Love is easy to earn

so in this semester

I have one last shebang

One last week to remember

One last week at xxx (for privacy reasons and due to lack of creativity this poem has been cut short and the name of my school omitted)

A little bit how I’m feeling about leaving my placement this week.  (Basically. I’m the saddest looking happy bear around.)

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The Crazy that is My Life

At one point this week I took a moment to look around.  On my right sat a child swinging his arms and legs in the most peculiar fashion.  It appeared as if he was involved in some dramatic racing game in his mind and his extremities wanted to participate.  On my left sat another child, snaking and slithering his arms through his shirt, pulling the sleeves over the ends of his hands to chew on them.  We were playing a game of Chomp.  He told me “1. 2. 3. Flip your card over. Okay. You win. Pick up all the cards.  Flip them upside down on the bottom on your deck.” Every round. Even though we had all played the game before.  And as I waited for this dear child to count us off again I took a look around and thought, “Where am I?”

On Tuesday one child bit three different teachers in the span of 15 minutes.  Another slapped a teacher, kicked a hole in the wall, and got a visit from four police officers.

On Wednesday one child sat, feverishly making tallies and squiggles on his clipboard.  We later learned that this was his system for tracking the ”good” and “bad” behaviors of his classmates.  However, he would periodically stand up, run around the room, scream, and fall down.  I looked at him oddly and thought, “Maybe he’s possessed?”   Meanwhile. Other children in his class also stood up and fell down, crumbling at the knees.  One child spun in circles on her hands and knees.  And the teacher said, “How am I supposed to teach science like this?”

On Thursday I went to pick up my first child for his session.  Oh.  They got a last minute invite to the White House for Hanukkah.  This is the child who has also missed sessions for 1. Halloween in the Hamptons. 2. A week trip to Paris.

And, after a particularly tough kiddo at the end of the day on Thursday my supervisor asked me, “How do you do it?”

I said. I know this is kinda weird or whatever, but I believe the good in me is only from God.  And it’s my relationship with Him that makes me sane through this whole thing.

She said. You tap into that right here? motioning to the therapy table.

Sometimes yes, I pray on the spot when I’m working with a kid.  But sometimes I pray beforehand, and God gives me the grace to deal.

And I was reminded again how wonderful it is to have God in my life.  Something that I can tap into right there.  I’d say that’s really one of my top 5 reasons I’m a Christian.  Because Christ in my life makes my life manageable.  Especially when I don’t think I can manage.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Also this week.

Filming occurred on campus

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I had Chipotle for lunch

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And, per request- took pictures of our living room. To give proper credit to my dad. And. Because people asked for them so. Here they are. (yes. we know. we need to put stuff on our walls. just give us a chance.)

View from the entry way

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View of the other side

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View of the entry way (on the left) and my bedroom and my roomie’s bedroom (on the right. yes. they are connected. my room is pretty much a hallway) (also. of note. the hallway- the actual one on the left- is now purple!)

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Blessed Beyond Measure

When it’s Thanksgiving and I have a weekend like this I remember that I really do have so much to be thankful for.

This weekend I was privileged to experience the following 3 sentiments simultaneously:

1. Christmastime in the city.

2. Home for the holidays.

3. Making our house a home.

This was made possible by family coming to visit me for a festive change.

My holiday began on Wednesday and was full of errands, including picking up my cousin Emily from the bus stop.

Thursday my family (excluding the eldest brother and wife) arrived at 4:15 am.  We left at 5:30 to make our way to the Macy’s Parade.

Since I’ve never watched it on TV and I do like parades, it was (as a whole) a very fun experience.  I would recommend it at least once for everyone. (I think).  However, the cold weather and tired, standing feet do put a damper on the event.  But I think what I like about it all is the 1. artistry that goes into the floats 2. the sense of community.  There is something endearing about an event that pulls together 3 million people for a morning of smiles, applauds, and confetti.

That said, here are my pictures from the very fun event:

Sunrise over Central Park as we wait for the parade to start.

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These are my sisters. I like having them here.

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Some of us are distracted by the starting parade.Image

The parade brave souls (excluding the camera person- mom).  Notice.  My father is not among the parade brave people.  He stayed home and slept and prepared our catered lunch (sure is nice to have a bakery in the family at times).

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After waiting hours we see the start of the parade in the distance.  And experiencing life through electronic screens begins.

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Tom the turkey.

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Snoopy and Woodstock.

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Classic. iphone interference.  That lady waving at everyone in the parade.

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Famous person.

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Sesame Street! And Jimmy Fallon!!

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Because of the wind the balloons had to be floated low to the ground.

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Goldfish crackers and Fifth Harmony.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Too wimpy to even stand up in the wind.

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More famous people and cool floats. Image

Sea world.  They had pretty great jelly fish costumes.

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Duck Dynasty.  (Living in NYC I’ve missed out on much of the frenzy regarding this group of people that largely centers in the midwest.  However, I do know enough to know that someone is going to want to see this picture.)

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The confetti is collecting at our feet. Image

Cirque du Soleil! ❤ People doing live acrobatics in a parade is ALWAYS an awesome idea.

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Famous football stars.  The lady in front of me said she didn’t know the one guy was still alive. Yup. I didn’t even know who he is.

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This was the point where I realized that I’ve been standing in a very small space for 3 hours and wondered how much longer this would last.

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But I’m a big Gru fan.

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Oh. The clowns.  Did I mention?- There were SOOO many clowns. 600 actually.

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The end is in sight my friends.

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Santa even made a visit.

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The end. of the parade

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But then. There’s the getting home part.

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Friday

A new day. A new adventure.  Painting my living room, running errands, and a quick adventure in the city with Briana and Emily. We found a holiday market in Union Square.

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The expression on this man’s face beyond cracks me up.  I just wanted to document the finding of an adorable holiday market sir. Nothing personal.

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We went to Times Square.  Because we are crazy? Desperate? Bored? I’d like to think- brave. It only took us 30 minutes to walk 1 block.  We literally stood in an inching mob making it’s way down the sidewalk. Ridiculous.  And yet.  Hilarious.

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On our ride home I made this discovery that my sister and my cousin have the same profile.  I was highly amused.  Now THAT is a profile picture. (bahaha so punny).

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Just to document. The people who participated in my living room make over were: me (trimming), mom (trimming), dad (basically everything).  I know. It sounds cruel to trap him in the house for 2 days painting.  I would feel bad if I didn’t know that he loved it.

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But on Saturday evening we did make it out of the painting house for pizza and Christmas window looking.

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5th avenue has it’s share of artistic store-front designers.

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Yes. This is upside down on purpose.  Every window depicted a holiday at this store.  This window was for April Fool’s Day.

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Also. Aside from hanging out with my family, seeing all the Christmasness going on in the city, and redoing our livingroom- we also hosted people.  Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner.  Friday for cards and risk.  Saturday for risk and quelf.  They stayed late and talked loud and had the best of times.

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My bedroom.  Holding everything to keep the living room open to paint and host. That includes piling air mattresses on my bed and stuffing paint alongside boots and bags.  Somehow we had 8 people living in this 3 bedroom apartment this weekend.  Amazing.  But I washed all the dishes in our cupboards 3 times. Image

And now.  We are back to normal. Just the 3 people who usually live here.  In our beautiful ‘new’ living quarters.  We’ve got the Christmas decorations up and we are going to bed early because all this fun having makes us tired.  But the good kind of tired.  The kind that reminds you that you don’t have to think very hard to come up with something to be thankful for this season.

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And here’s a ‘before’ picture because I know you were dying to know.

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It’s been one of those weeks. No. not THOSE weeks. Just this kind of week that leaves me with lots to think about and little to post.  It’s weeks like these I turn to the ‘gallery’ in my phone to see what I’ve been up to.

Here are the pictures on my phone from the past week:

And here are the post office chutes at the school I work at.  Seeing the pictures brings back the scent of the hallway to me.  It is very specific and undefinable.  But it is the smell of my building.  Specifically- the 3rd floor.   Image

We went to the supermarket on Saturday morning.  At 8:00 am.  It was just empty enough to park our little cart in an aisle but just full enough that we couldn’t take that cart through the produce section.  I must say, Italian supermarkets are much cozier and funner than the franchises.

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I wore boots one day and I was still cold.  But I was brave enough to stand over a grate to take this picture. (yes. I have a subconscious fear of falling into grates.  If we are walking together in the city I will probably walk into you on accident.  I really think it’s just my brain looking out for me b/c my feet steer me away before I even realize what’s happening.)

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From my morning Italian market adventures, I brought home gnocchi.  Then I looked up a recipe and made it.  With the roomie’s help to make the sauce.  One of my goals this year is to learn how to cook.  (You know.  Your 20somethings are when you figure out how to be a grownup.  And I’d like to be a grownup who can at least cook.  We’ll see how this goes.)  Regardless.  The meal was yum.  I think we shall have it again.

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And today (yes. today) I had to go to Southern Brooklyn to do a group project.  It took 35 minutes but the commute was 3 hours round trip.  My friend was surprised I could meet.  She thought maybe I kept the Sabbath.  I think she had a good point.  Although I did get my Sunday afternoon nap on the train.  (In addition to hearing my share of drama and fashion analysis. Oh New York.)

{Just another subway stop}

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And finally, a subway advertisement.  Apparently if I would win the lottery I would have time for silly conversations like this.  I’m not quite sure why I haven’t started playing- I do love lame jokes.

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K.  That’s all.

p.s. Thursday is Thanksgiving.  I’m so looking forward to it!  I already know I’m not doing homework 5 days this week.  Just another thing to be thankful for.

25 Things

There’s this thing going around facebook where people are posting a random number of pieces of information about themselves that their facebook friends probably don’t know.  Well.  Since my life is basically an open book, it’s kinda silly for me to be participating. And I think it’s kinda breaking the rules to give yourself a number instead of getting it from a friend?  But I just turned 25 so I’m giving myself the number 25. Are you ready?

1. This week I turned 25. Which you already knew.  What you didn’t know is that I celebrated it in the East Village by picking up a bagel at Russ & Daughters (a place I’ve been wanting to try),

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2. getting Italian at Lil Frankie’s with my school friends,

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3. and going to see STOMP (also with my friends).  If you don’t know who STOMP is- they are a percussion group that uses everyday objects (like trashcans and plastic bags and lighters and brooms and hands and feet and really whatever they want) to create music.  Which, in itself is pretty cool.  What was also nice was that they didn’t speak at all and instead relied on gestures to create physical comedy. I never knew that a percussion show could be so funny.  We laughed our heads off and we loved it.

4. Also on my birthday- I did therapy.  I went to my school and threw a party for myself with my kiddos.  They were so excited.  Except one child was indignant that we didn’t have cake.  He didn’t think it counted as a real birthday since we didn’t have cake.  He refused to sing to me.

5. Otherwise, I was incredibly popular.

6. I got a card made and signed by the class. And a some drawings. One was the alphabet in food (pictures included: apple, banana, corn, etc.)

7. For my birthday weekend (is that a thing?) I went to the International Center of Photography (it’s a museum) (and I got in free with my TC ID).

8. We ate dinner in Times Square at Olive Garden.

9. (yes. I like Italian.).

10. I found a piece of paper in my dinner after I was done eating.  I calmly told the manager and got an entire free meal to go.  Plus my first meal taken off the bill. That was nice I think.

11. Also this week, I’ve been doing homework.  I’ve decided that school is pretty much like a full time job.  And I basically do it all the time.  It’s not overwhelming.  Just constant.  And yes I’m getting tired of it.

12. Only 185 days till I graduate!

13. Also right now. I’m unofficially starting to plan a trip next summer. To Southeast Asia.  If you have been- I would love to talk to you about it.  Or, more specifically, you should talk to me, since I have no way of knowing ‘who’ you are until you tell me. But basically.  The whole thing looks quite overwhelming to plan

14. (and I love planning- so I think that’s saying a lot).

15. It’s amazing how far I’ve gotten on this list without revealing anything juicy.

16. That said. I played the flute for 7 years in school. From 5th grade through 11th grade.  Yes.  I dropped out my senior year. Drama drama. But in high school I was part of the marching band.  Yup.  I was THAT level of cool.  and really, I loved it.

17. In 5th grade I flossed my teeth everyday.  Even though I had braces.  Today I flossed my teeth and now I can’t chew.

18.  That said, I’m pretty much all or nothing.

19. And I have this thing. Where I get a mild case of anxiety when I have too many tabs or windows open on my screen.  I am constantly closing things just to open them the next day.  But somehow it brings me peace.

20. I like to name things. My car is Delilah. My computer is Beasley.  My camera is Gatsby.  My ipad is Max.  My ipod is Beverly.  Really I just like names.

21. That said.  I think using people’s names is powerful.  It builds connection.  Like a sense of knowing someone.  I think the easiest way to befriend someone is to remember something important about them.  I think it’s good to start with their name.  and then use it.  Just so they know you remember.  It works for me.

22. Also.  I think that the fastest way to make a friend is to act like you already are friends.  And talk.  (I’m all about communication.) Hence.  I tend to overshare my life.  Mostly b/c I seem to think that if I tell you something about me then you will feel safe telling me something about you.  And then we will be friends.  In my experience, you can’t be very fragile to do this.  But you do have to be honest. (Just be yourself.  It works every time.)

23. I like words. Especially words that tell me something about you.  Sociolinguistics (the study of language use in culture).  I love it.  I think it says something to me of God’s creativity.

24. And I’m definitely a Christian.  I’ve thought about it.  And there really is no other way.

25. Also recently.  I’ve decided I like giraffes.  Maybe not in real life.  But they are incredibly photogenic.  Plus.  They have the same number of vertebrae in their neck as we do (7).

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wow. you made it. Like I said. I overshare my life. But doesn’t that make you like me just a little bit more?

(you don’t have to answer that).