I’ll just say it now.  Winter is my LEAST favorite season. I don’t even have to shovel sidewalks or scrape my car and I still feel this way.  Mostly because it’s too cold and the snow gets too sloshy and I hate the constant reapplication of tights.  Layers really aren’t my thing.

That said. There have been many bright moments in this blight that is ‘winter.’

  1. This winter in New York has actually been mild.  Perhaps my favorite.  I didn’t even wear a coat to the airport on Christmas Eve!  And we got our first snow yesterday.  The very first real snow.  It ended up being 26 inches or something. Which was just enough to keep me trapped in my house in PJs for 2 days.  Actually not a bad way to handle snow I think.  Also.  Horray for 2 less months of snow than I’m accustomed to.
  2. Life has a way of filling up with good things.  Like random selfies with this favorite of mine.
  3. I finally got to visit the NY transit museum. It’s in an old train station- how cool is that??
  4. My kiddos told funny stories, drew funny pictures, and actually listened for the first week after break.  So fantastic.  Now, here’s a picture of a car: 
  5. And then my life took an unplanned detour- with a spontaneous trip to Indiana to catch a ride to Iowa to attend my great grandfather’s funeral. I got a seat to myself.Was greeted by RVs in the airport.  (So… unique.) Went old school waiting on trains.Caught up with cousins and planned exciting trips.  (Obviously- I’m the most excited of us all.) And then it was Iowa.  I haven’t been in 5 years.  Since this one got married. That also means it’s been 5 years since I’ve been all together with this clan.  (The last time I saw some of these people, they were kids!)And then there was the part where I had to say goodbye to my last great grandparent.  My grandpa actually asked me to speak at the funeral because “you’re a writer.”  Well, I’m glad HE thinks so but I wasn’t so sure.  I mean.  How could I be the one to speak for everyone there?!?  So I decided not to speak for them and instead, speak for me.  And in that process, I realized that I am really going to miss this older man we called grandpa.  I have so many sweet and savored memories surrounding my memories of him.  Mostly of trips to Iowa as children.  Not to mention the resounding impact he made in the person I am just from simply living his life humbly and raising his daughter, who raised her daughter, who raised me.  Now here’s a picture of said great grandpa, on a bike.  Too cool. 

And that has been my winter thus far.

Apricity: (n) The warmth of the sun in winter.

Alarm Clock Conditioning

It’s been three years since I started this blog.  But it’s been almost two months since I posted.  Do those months count toward my blog total if I didn’t use them?

Yes.  It was summer.  It was home with my family and out with friends.  It was zoos and parks and ice cream and pie making.  It was one of my favorite summers and here are some pictures to ‘tell’ you all about it.

{A little friend came to visit and help in the cafe.  I made her a baby hat just 4 years ago!}


{I spent a lot of time with this one.  Much ice cream was involved.  How nice it is to actually live near your life-long friends!}


{I drank an excellent mocha. True story.}


{I went to the fair with some friends. (Maybe it’s just me- but we all look the same here- menno girls with brown hair and blueish eyes.  How do people even tell us apart?!? 🙂 )}


{Got more coffee with those same silly friends.}


{Walked around the fair with this one.  She even posed as a superhero for me!}



{That week, when I wasn’t at the fair- I was making pies for the fair. Livin’ that bakery life.}


{Also, I have officially decided that llamas are my favorite fair animal to visit.  They are just down right hilarious!}


{We didn’t go to the fair.  Instead we got fro-yo.  And when we sat down she made this pose- and deja vu smacked me in the face.  I’m pretty sure every time we sit down for fro-yo she sits exactly like this.  Who knows.  But it felt so happily familiar I made her freeze for a photo. 🙂 }


{Some randomly beautiful gardens we waltzed about.}


{Oh yeah, I also ate my share of chief ice cream.}


{Saw some beautifully billowy sunsets.}


{Walked this trail.}


{Birds at the zoo make excellent leaves on trees.}


{Only part of our 13 person (mostly adult) passel of people traipsing around the zoo.  All-in-all, a very successful summer family day I would say.}


{jelly fish}


{Shark petting.  Ain’t no thang.}


{A photobomb in the butterfly gardens.}


{seesters.  (no. we aren’t twins. no. I am older.)}IMG_20150823_161547723a

{Lunch with this one on my last Indiana day.  How have I never been in the restaurant?  It’s downtown- my town!}


{But it does taste like elementary school cafeteria food.  Maybe that’s why we never come?}


{Sunrise coming home.}


and now I’m home.  On my last week of vacation before school begins again.  Running errands and conditioning my body to arise early with alarm clocks (I have a fear of missing work the first week of school since I am used to sleeping till 9, so, I’ve been practicing getting up a little earlier each day.)

And that, was my bare bones summer summary.  It also included a lot of reflection in the form of reminiscing (going home always does that to me) and reevaluating.  This summer some things kind of hit me in the face – causing me to realize that New York has changed me.  Living away from home.  Making my own life.  Navigating a new culture and taking on some of it’s norms.  It makes going home a different kind of challenge.  Not only of pausing my life here, but of navigating it there.  But I wouldn’t change it for — anything? even a free trip to Hawaii– because I know it’s so much of where I come from and who I am.

So, here’s to another year of New York living.  I love New York differently than when I came and am keenly aware that I probably won’t be here forever.  So, as with all the things I’m learning in life right now, I am savoring it.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 #Faith: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 #Faith

Learning to Live Now

Life is one of those things that we measure by the way it fills.  I once had a supervisor who told me, “Everyone knows what YOU should be doing next.  Family. House. Babies. And they will tell you.  No matter what stage you are in, they will tell you what the next one is. Ignore them.”

This advise has been echoing in my ears for 2 years now and has become resoundingly strong as I live in this summer of Indiana sunshine.

When I booked my flight to come home I gave a little whine about my trip being so long. We’re talking 8 long weeks away from the city I love and the life that I know!  My biggest complaint about coming home is always the paradigm between 1. I’m on vacation and want to hang out with people and enjoy my time off and 2. My life isn’t going forward because I’m not doing anything ‘productive.’  I’m sure this stems from years of viewing life from a deadline/means to ends perspective with a bit of the unsettledness that is the stage of life I’m in.

These whines were cut short by my family.  I was reminded that no one wants to hear me whine on vacation (valid point).  And that my whining takes away from the joy of being home.

And I was struck with the reality of these truths.  So.  I thought about this summer.  What it was and could be and what I wanted it to be.  And I decided to choose joy.  To measure my days not by how they fill my life- but- by how they are filled.

So. I don’t always know what I’m going to do when I wake up.  But I’ve gotten really good at loving this ‘now’ living.  I think it’s called ‘grace.’  (Grace- the power to do what you know is right.)   And there is a certain peace that comes from living in the grace of gratefulness and patience.  I know this is a lesson I’ll probably learn a thousand times.  But, the first baby step of success in it has been fun.

Plus.  Along the way I’ve discovered some things that I like about Indiana!

Things that I like about Indiana:
1. If I don’t have any plans for my day when I wake up, my day still fills up with good things.  And I don’t even have time to be bored in-between.  I might have time for a nap.  Or a long talk with my sister. But not to be bored.  Just the perfect balance I’d say.

2. Everyone has air conditioning.  I spend more time being cold than hot.  That’s a lot to say when it’s 90 degrees outside and you are currently experiencing the medical phenomenon of heat induced hives.

3. Mennos abound.  Yes.  ‘Mennos’ is slang for ‘Mennonite.’  And here we have them in every strip and (almost every) color. Now. I don’t ALWAYS like to drown in a sea of mennos (ba dum- shhh) but- since I see so few of them in my ‘regular’ life- it has been a real pleasure.  Partially because children in little homemade dresses are adorable (and yes, I do stare and smile as I drive by their homes) and partially because as much as I self identify as this urban, educated snob- I am also Mennonite.  It is my first culture.  My fundamental world view.  And connects me in real ways to a community of family and strangers.

4. The food. Specifically- the food at “The Baker’s Nook Bakery and Cafe.” More specifically, my mom’s food.  It’s probably for the best I don’t live here anymore as I am a weakling compared to baked sugars and carbs.  That said, I’m lovin’ these homemade breads, cinnamon rolls, cakes and cookies.  (Not to say I haven’t lodged a formal complaint regarding our lack of green leafy vegetables in the home.)

5. Memory lane.  I always say that Indiana is a great place to be from.  And, when I’m here I get to hang out with my best friends from first grade and youth group and camp and we reminisce and realize that some friendships are lucky enough to last a life time. I also like that these friends know all my people, my stories, my dreams, and remember to ask me about them.  It’s fantastic.

6. Family time.  Living so far from my family usually means that my family time is a little wedge in a Venn diagram.  I have family and I have time, but they rarely overlap.  Well.  This summer they overlap nearly every day.  Sometimes for 5 minutes when we’re doing our hair in the bathroom or when I’m nagging for someone to help dust before our guests arrive.  But sometimes it’s spontaneous dinners at local hot spots and 3 mile walks around ponds.  And I like this the most.

So. Here’s to living Now.

That Family Time

This summer I have the inexplicable privilege of spending several weeks with my family.  At first I wasn’t so sure about this all. I mean, I’m not very good a living in the moment and ‘without a purpose’ (aka- too much free time- if there is such a thing).  So, I made a (functional) nerdy choice and decided to make my goal for the summer to live in the moment and spend time with people I love.  Reverse psychology.  But it’s mostly working.

It helps that I really do love spending time with my family.  And, Indiana is actually beautiful right now (due to the extra green plant life following some intense rains we’ve been having) which makes it easier to love this big sky place.

Also. I’ve been going on walks.  With my sisters.  win win win

Here are some pictures!

(Excuse me for posting so many animal pictures.  But, when we walked by, they just came charging up to the road to greet us.  So.  It really couldn’t be helped.)

IMG_20150707_210642590_HDR IMG_20150709_184412670a IMG_20150709_184553806a IMG_20150713_191403840a IMG_20150713_191449439a IMG_20150713_193411551a IMG_20150713_193615343_HDR IMG_20150713_195258010_HDR IMG_20150713_195305341a

Aside from all the walking, I’ve worked just a little bit for my mother.  It’s been very amusing to see what my brain remembers going back to my old job (like, where to find the twist-ties for example).  And, I’ve been hanging out with other people and doing a wee bit of speech therapy on the side.  Just for one kiddo.  Just enough for me to love it without feeling like I’m actually working over summer break.

Also.  A week ago I missed a step on a dark staircase and fell and scrapped my knee.  This story has some other pathetic details but it has proven to be an excellent conversation piece for me – telling the story, acting out the story, talking about my residual injuries.  I will say, this is the longest I’ve ever had a mostly open wound.  And since it’s this dull pain all the time… I bring it up, like, every 30 minutes.  Like I said, excellent conversation piece.

My sisters try to tell me that no one cares.  That this little knee scrape is of no consequence to others.  But, when you are on break mode like me and the nerves in your knee are telling you brain every 3 seconds about the pain therein- there is no completing information in my brain to mute these nerve announcements.  So, instead of talking about funny things my kids said today or obnoxious people on the train… I just say, “Do you think I should put more salve on my knee Vanessa?”  What can I say, older sisters have a very important job- to pick on their younger sisters.  And well.  For once, I have the time and energy to do just that!

So.. here’s to more walks on country roads and conversations about my knee cap. #summerhappy #happysummer

gratitude changes everything ~ drak gray linen free printable

May Dayz

May is spring and testing days in school and weather that makes us all smile.  This May also meant a trip home for a wedding and a trip to the city to watch the sunset.  Photos to follow.


So. I have this friend Stephanie.  Who married this friend David.  And I got to go to their wedding.  And run the photo-booth camera. So much winning.  Not to mention – this was my first trip home since Christmas.

The journey started with an all night drive with my roomie.  It actually worked out well since I have the power to stay up late and she has the superpower of getting up early.  With that mix, we made it home in 13 hours.  But not without a traffic hold up in the city.



It was decided that IF you are going to get stopped for an hour in traffic, SOHO, Manhattan is the place to do it.  So much great people watching to do.  (not to mention a street truck selling JUST socks.  not tacos.  or ice cream.  just socks.)


So.  Like I said.  I went to this wedding.  David and Stephanie.

Well.  Stephanie and I?  We go way back.  But I actually met David first.  And once upon a time we all worked together in my mother’s cafe.  Life has changed much since then, but it was fun to be at their wedding after knowing them through the whole journey.  The wedding was incredibly sweet as they included a lot of personal touches that traditional ‘menno’ weddings don’t have- like writing their own vows and singing songs for each other. 🙂  Plus, they were both so happy.  Which makes everyone else happy too, of course.

{The Mr. and Mrs.}


{At the reception.}


{Stephanie and I aren’t used to taking selfies with David.  Sorry for squishing you out man.}


{Some photo booth fun}


{This is, oddly enough, not the first time I’ve posed with mustaches with Stephanie.}  DSCF7078a

{4 years ago.  See?  (why yes, we believe in being totally proactive in planning roadtrip entertainment.  Don’t judge.)}


{my parents!}


{My seesters and me}


{my mom and me (yes, it was very nice to have people I know walking through my photo booth line)}


My trip home ended with, two days back to back with my Esther, lots of family time, and another loong drive back to my city, with no traffic delays on the George Washington Bridge- a miracle!


DSC_4107_edited-1     DSC_4177_edited-1     IMG_20150525_174852393_edited-1

The Sunset

This weekend was ‘Manhattanhedge.’  Manhattanhedge is the name for when the sun lines up perfectly with the east-west streets of Manhattan as it sets.  Malinda and I went to Long Island City to watch.  It was gorgeous until the clouds got in the way.  But we liked it anyways.

IMG_20150530_193316932_HDR_edited-1DSC_4233_edited-1 DSC_4237_edited-1 DSC_4242_edited-1 DSC_4244_edited-1 DSC_4265_edited-1 DSC_4289_edited-1 DSC_4341_edited-1

And that was May.  Now it’s June.  Only 25 days to my last day of school and this face says it all (can you believe it? I’ve almost survived my first year of teaching!)



What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Writing Voice:

1. Fake it.

Happy New Year!  Oh. End of January, you say?  Sorry I’m not sorry I haven’t posted anything all year yet.  Life is what it is – which has become incredibly routine in the most pleasant of ways, and I just haven’t gotten around to posting.  And, well, I just don’t think I need to apologize for that.

2. Make random comments about your life you think readers may be interested in.

As mentioned, I have reached a predictable stage in life.  One with routines and such pleasantries as well as my share of totally normal days.  A year ago… just a year ago… THIS was my normal vista.  And it did not include many currently enjoyed things like- playing my ukulele, working out, hanging out, not feeling insane.IMG_20140213_111355_332

3. Get very wordy and analytical- Experiment with turning your blog into an open diary of sorts…

Just yesterday, while waltzing along through Williamsburg with a friend (and by waltzing- I mean- winter speed walking with hands in pockets and all coat entrances sealed off from the wind) I came to the realization that I have changed again.

Perceptively, it has occurred to me that this whole concept of ‘place’ and finding a ‘place’ for yourself in the world, is a very fluid event.  I moved to New York nearly two and a half years ago.  And just this winter, while visiting home (Indiana), I realized that I don’t live there anymore.  Surprise.


4. Realize this diary entry is getting very wordy and summarize entire paragraphs with math equations.

In summary

Normal = Indiana < New York.

(In math words- this means- Indiana is now less ‘normal’ than New York.)

5. Consider writing a post about how your perceptions of New York have changed while living here.

Possibilities to include sarcasm, photos, and comedy are eliminated as you come to the realization that this change can be summarized with the statement, “New York is much less exciting now than it was when I arrived.” (Insert clause, “but I still like it.”)

6. Review your ramblings.

Make edits.  Incorporate a list to add comedy.  Lists are always funny- right?

7. Change the topic entirely.  You have some New Years Eve pictures that must be inserted at some point. (Must being a rather subjective term).  Explain.

This is what I did for New Years Eve.  I went with some of my favorite people to the big city of Chicago.  We froze.  We laughed.  We saw a Broadway.

Getting ready to freeze:


Laugh worthy warmth remedy:


The Broadway.  (My third time seeing Cinderella in 2014.  It’s, like, not my favorite anymore.  But still fun to see with people.)

IMG_20141231_184502738  IMG_20141231_185623235

8. End with honesty.

In all sincerity,  I haven’t written because sometimes the words don’t come.  And when life feels too normal and personal to take pictures to splash on the world wide web, I am truly out of blogging material.  I don’t know what this means for my blog.  But I do know that writing is too personal for me to 1. produce it on command or 2. quit writing altogether.  So.  I’m sure it will still be here.  In whatever mysterious form it appears.

9.  Thanks for reading, friends.

10. 🙂


December in One Fell Swoop

December!  Aka- the end of 2014?? already???

well. My computer (Beasley) has reached the point where hospice care was needed and she has officially tagged off her responsibilities to our new friend Ramona.  Yes, I name all my stuff.  But the point of that sentence was to state my excuse for not blogging for the whole month- which was b/c my computer was quite unpredictable and grouchy.

What you missed.

Many a train ride.  There is something almost poetic to me about empty train cars in the middle of the day.  Here’s two common views in my life these days.


On a not- so empty train ride- a small family of accordion and tambourine carols.  IMG_20141212_163532774

Mocha art and peppermint gifts in Tribeca before a friend moves.


All blurry and beautiful.  Reminding me again that I still have a crush on this city. IMG_20141222_184748244

wrrrr. Fast forward to finalizing my first semester of teaching, flying home, Christmas morning, and family.

DSC_3057a DSC_3058a DSC_3062a DSC_3063a DSC_3064a DSC_3065a

Yes. This picture was taken Christmas day.  The classic green Indiana Christmas? I’ll take it!DSC_3174a

Selfie revenge- put in on a blog. 🙂 you’re welcome Bri. 🙂


These days I enjoy the time warp that is ‘home for the holidays.’  It includes things like helping my mom put in a quilt, bowling my first over 100 score, and family family family.  I don’t mind one bit.DSC_3187aIMG_20141226_230759168

To end this post and this year- I will use some internet memes/pins to express myself.

1. my thoughts towards break:

Pooh understands

2. How I feel about being home:


3. How I feel about the end of a year:


So here it is, my formal, in writing, farewell.  To the year that brought me family East Coast trips, printed diplomas and moments of joy so loud my heart jumped outside my body.  It brought me elephant rides, waterfall climbs, and ginger on chicken.  It was the miracle of landing my first job the Friday before school started and learning to handle kids who can’t use words to tell me they are sad, bored, hurt, happy, or insecure.  And, most of all, it was growing and learning and becoming- from trying and studying and waiting and praying.  The memories make the year- the lessons make my life.

Goodbye and farewell 2014.  You have been all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And I’m beyond blessed to have shared it with each of you.  See you on the flip side dears.

Collect beautiful moments

A Thanksgiving as Planned

Although it feels like centuries gone by, I did go home for Thanksgiving last week.

I had my time quite scheduled weeks in advanced and it went much as planned.

As planned, I flew home Wednesday after work.  Ate a proper Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, then to the sisterhood black Friday shopping (which has become a tradition of ours), Thanksgiving brunch on Friday with my mom’s family (no turkey included), a surprise 50th party (more like a gathering…), a Saturday full of more brunches and Friendsgiving, Sunday to church, another Thanksgiving feast with my dad’s side of the family (which this time included deviled eggs), a mario cart party- party, which finally lead to my final Indiana brunch with my friend of 20 years driving me to the airport to catch a bus to another airport to fly home so I could end the longest run on sentence since learning about the concept of punctuation.

All in all- my Thanksgiving weekend in Indiana= 3 Thanksgiving meals + 3 brunches + 2 birthday parties + 1 late night shopping trip.  And I really didn’t even get any pictures.  See?…


The iceman.  De-icing our plane.

Me and my sister.  Waiting for our 4th Thanksgiving meal of the year.

Now.  To start my journey, I did forget my phone in my apartment and discovered it while waiting for my flight.  This was not planned.  Fortunately (something I almost never say) my flight was delayed.  So after some creative communication experiments, which included 2 attempted payphone calls (turns out payphones are best for ease dropping as the person answering cannot hear you speak), asking a stranger to use their phone (and getting turned down b/c it was a long distance call.?? How is that a thing?!?), and eventually paying for internet, I was able to contact my blessed roomie and she brought my phone to me.

And well.  That was my Thanksgiving. It feels like forever ago.  Probably because it’s a world away.

And.  I’ll be honest.  Transitioning to adulthood out of college has not been a can of peaches.  And definitely has not gone as planned.  But, for one weekend, life did.  And, appropriately enough, I was thankful for that.

Belated Matrimony Update

Aha! Gotcha. That matrimony word caught your eye- didn’t it? 🙂

Well.  Yes.  I went to a wedding.  Three weeks ago.  Which is what makes this update so belated.  It was the wedding of my sister-in-law’s sister (Daria) to my cousin (Bradley).  One by one, we convert the Goodwans to Zimmermans. Well.  That’s the joke anyways.

The happy couple- Brad and Daria- who somehow, miraculously, coordinated a wedding that accommodated guests of great diversity and world views.  We were all impressed at the grace in which Daria pulled this off.  It was a beautiful day, which I believe could be described as classy and sweet, just as weddings should be. DSC_3049a

My job at the wedding was simple, take pictures of all the guests for the guestbook.  So, when I arrived I took some trial shots to test the lighting and captured this gem of the mother-of-the-groom with his older sister.


But, as you can see, the location of the photo booth had to be moved due to the chin shadows it produced.  So, this dear bridesmaid posed in front of the mailboxes for me to test out the lighting.  We liked it much better. DSC_2987a

The matron of honor and her man (my brother! 🙂 )DSC_3006a

Family. LaTasha’s sister, cousin, and aunt.  Such spunky people.  We love them dearly. 🙂

My conversation with Akayla (the little one in the middle) went as follows:
me: wow, you’re getting so big.

Akayla: yeah, I’m 8 now you know!


And, my sister with her cousin, holding out cupcake jar souvenirs favors.


The reception hall as ‘clean-up’ commenced.DSC_3043a

And the bride and I.  So blessed to now be officially related to her. DSC_3047a

Congratulations Brad and Daria!  We wish you allll the very, very best.  I’m so glad I got to celebrate your special day with you!

Visiting Home

I’ve been “home.” And now I’m back.

I had a conversation with my grandmother. It went something like this:

“How do you like Indiana?”

“It’s green…. It’s nice to visit.”

“To visit?!?”

Yes, to visit.

And visit I did. My sister graduated high school.  That makes the 3rd graduate this year for my parents. They are appropriately proud.


Life takes a funny shift when home is where you visit and not live.  So, the rest of my time I spent catching up.  Oh, so many people I have to catch up with. Friends from church. Friends from school. Friends from elementary school! (Yes, I am a faithful friend.) We had grad parties, games, ice cream, and plenty of chatting.  That’s what I love about home.  When I’m home my time is highly concentrated with people who share a mutual love with me.  As a whole, it’s a rather nice experience. But (unfortunately) by the time I leave I am usually ready for ‘real life’ again.  There are only some many ways I can answer, “What have you been up to?” when I’ve only been “up to” eating out every night.

So I came back to New York.

Also of late, I have been remembering what I love about New York.  (Absence makes the heart grow fonder… right?) Well.  I’ve been gone for a while.  And upon returning I remembered that I love people.  Playing subway poles like stringed cellos.  Fighting for friendships with curses and hugs. I know, so few people in the countryside agree, but I’d argue that people are among the most beautiful things in the world.  Needless to say, it’s nice to be home.  Although Indiana is an exceptionally good place to visit.