Sunday, October 31, 2010

President George W. Bush throws the first pitch!

 

40bab8e6e5e19f6e8c07be26c4988026Ben loves baseball.  I don’t…I’m learning.  I do hope the Rangers win the World Series.  They are partially owned by Nolan Ryan.  He was also their star pitcher for many years.  According to Ben, Nolan Ryan was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  President George W. Bush used to be a co-owner.  This is the Rangers’ first appearance in the World Series.  One of their star players has a great name…Hamilton!

Tonight, to open game 4 of the series, President Bush was asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch.  He was accompanied onto the field by his dad, President George H.W. Bush.  His wife and mother were in the stands.  And behind the plate, to catch the first pitch?  Nolan Ryan! 

Here is a video if you care to watch.  I really like President Bush – I think he is a good man.  I enjoy it every time I see him in the news – he seems so humble and “normal”.  I can’t embed the video because it is copyrighted, so here is a link.

RealClearPolitics - Video - Former President Bush Throws Out First Pitch At World Series

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I had a wonderful day…

***UPDATED*** – pictures added 10/31/10!

So on Monday night Ben told me that he had a surprise for our anniversary on Tuesday.  He had babysitters arranged for Elaine, he had taken the day off work, and we were spending the day together! 

He is really sneaky, you know!  Two weeks ago he arranged the day off with his boss.  Then he casually asked me what my “perfect day” would consist of.  I was totally unsuspecting when I replied, “sleep in, go shopping at 86th Street, and eat dinner out.”  Well – Ben made it happen!  And Elaine even got the “sleep in” memo, because she didn’t wake up until 8:00 a.m.

Ben did get up to go to his staff prayer meeting at 5:30 a.m.  Then he came back…with bagels for breakfast!  We enjoyed a leisurely morning.  Then we did some romantic things, like go to the DMV for our New York license plates!  After dropping Elaine off at the sitter, we spent the rest of the day alone.  We are so thankful that Mrs. Bickel was willing to watch Elaine! Everything we did was more of an “errand” that had been on my list for a while.  The Christmas shopping.  A trip to the Michael’s Craft Store (yes – there is one of those in Manhattan!). 

A Cool Building in ManhattanA cool building in Manhattan

Rather than taking the train, Ben drove us to Manhattan.  He knows the roads pretty well over there from all the deliveries he makes for work.  I had never been on the West Side highway.  We stopped at a couple of places on the Upper West Side.  I thoroughly enjoyed it – it was like something straight out of “You’ve Got Mail!”  But since parking was 50 cents for 12 minutes at the meter, we decided to move on.

Our 3rd AnniversaryRiverside Drive – one of the main streets in “You’ve Got Mail”

We found free parking on the west side of Central Park.  From there we took the train to Times Square for fun.  I was treated to french fries at McDonalds, and a smoothie (compliments of the Monopoly instant win coupons!).  I LOVE McDonald’s french fries!

Our 3rd AnniversaryThere was a whole string of taxis on the west side of Central Park.  The drivers were all having lunch together.  Funny to see!

We had planned to eat at a restaurant in our neighborhood called Omonia’s since it came highly recommended.  When we pulled up we were sad to discover that they are closed for renovations.  So we went to Gino’s, a nice Italian restaurant near our house.  The food was excellent!

I had a fabulous, wonderful day.  I don’t have any pictures of us together to share with you because we didn’t take any.  We didn’t really do anything picture worthy.  We just enjoyed a pleasant day together.  By the way, the weather was perfect – 70 degrees and sunny!

Thanks to everyone for the anniversary wishes.  We received a nice card from Evan and Kenny & Becky today.  I guess those ones mean a little more because they come from the guys (and guys in general don’t remember these special days so well).  Although Kenny did comment that it was Becky who was keeping him on track.  I think I’m going to like having her in the family!

The political side of me…

My mom sent me this video.  I have been a little more out of the political loop than normal since we moved to New York City.  I haven’t had a political blog post in a long time.  So…here it is!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Three years ago…

[Hamilton]0098…my life changed forever.  I put on this dress, and I walked down an aisle on my Daddy’s arm.  He gave me over to someone else who would care for me and provide for me.  I made a vow before God and a church full of witnesses that I would keep the marriage covenant with my husband, [Hamilton]0189Benjamin Hamilton.

That day was the best day of my life!  I remember how pretty I felt in my gorgeous gown.  I remember the anticipation as I waited for the ceremony to begin. “Is it time yet?”  I remember seeing Ben waiting at the end of the aisle for me, as everyone in the audience rose to their feet when I entered the room.  I remember exiting in the getaway car (an old Model A!) and walking into the hotel lobby in my wedding dress with Ben in his top hat.  It was special!

[Hamilton]0224

[Hamilton]0268

[Hamilton]0310

It feels like I’ve been Ben’s forever, but it’s only been three years!  When we were on our honeymoon the World Series was taking place.  My home team, the Colorado Rockies, played Ben’s home team, the Boston Red Sox.  Ben loves this time of year because it is the climax in baseball! But, he is always good to remember our anniversary!

Some things that we have enjoyed together over the last three years…Moving three times, living at the Beach (glad to be done with that one!), traveling to North Carolina, Maine, and New Jersey for friends’ weddings, seeing Israel with Ben’s family, spending two snowy Christmases in Colorado, building a crib for our baby, the birth of our daughter Elaine, finishing school (for now), and realizing our dream of living & ministering in New York City.  It’s been a wonderful journey so far!

 PICT0110

PICT0342

So…

Happy Anniversary to me, and especially Happy Anniversary to my Ben! 

I’m looking forward to many more…

***UPDATE***
Ben surprised me by taking the day off work, arranging for a baby sitter, and we are spending the day shopping in Manhattan!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun at the park

Elaine and I hitched a ride on the train last Friday to go to Sunset Park and meet a new friend.  Someone had contacted me via my cloth diaper website, and was very excited to find another cloth diapering mommy in Brooklyn.  She lives in Sunset Park, the neighborhood next to ours.  Melissa is new to Brooklyn, has a two month old daughter, and is new to cloth diapering.  We decided to meet at the park and chat.

Elaine and I arrived early and took advantage of the playground.  It was a nice sunny autumn day, but it was also blustery because of the wind.  Elaine really enjoyed the slide for the first time!  She also loved chasing her ball around the courtyard.  It was funny to watch because she could barely move in her too-long overalls, and all bundled up in her jacket! This park had regular swings in addition to the baby swings, so we got to have some swing time together!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Ready…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Set…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Slide!!!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
“That was fun.  I want to go again!” 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Throwing the ball

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh the things that she does!


Elaine is quite a character.  Always busy, always chattering, always out to discover something new, always making a mess!  Here are a few of her latest antics:

:: Elaine loves ink pens.  She knows just how to get the lids off.  Yesterday she scribbled all over Bunny before Daddy realized what was happening!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

:: Elaine walks around the house saying what sounds like “uh-oh” in a sing-song voice.  It’s very cute!

:: In the nursery, Elaine’s paci fell off it’s strap.  The nursery workers told me that when she grabbed the strap and realized the paci was gone, she burst into tears.  Good thing it wasn’t lost forever!

::  Elaine is always trying to carry something or pick up something.  She has even hoisted a 2-liter full of Coke!  She loves to get into the cupboard where I store the oil and bring me the bottle!

::  Elaine doesn’t like anything on her head.  Keeping a hat on her this winter is going to be a challenge!  Here is a miracle…she left the hat on long enough to snap a picture!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

::  Elaine has a love for Cheerios.  She even knows just where the box is stored.  She will go to the cupboard and hand you the box if she wants a snack.  Or, more recently, she will just help herself!

::  Elaine likes anything wet.  The laundry that I am hanging up.  The washcloth from the bathtub.  The wipes from the changing table.   She walks around sucking on them.  Yuck!  (We do try to prevent this!)

::  Elaine is fascinated with the toilet.  She likes to flush it.  I forgot to close the lid last week, and walked in to discover Elaine dipping a washcloth in and out of the toilet.  She thought it was great fun!

::  Recently Elaine has been taking a new approach to playtime.  Instead of reaching into her toy box, she just climbs right in and sits in the middle of all the toys!  One time she slipped, and ended up in the toy box with her legs waving in the air!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I even caught her sitting in drawer that I left open!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

::  Elaine’s greatest struggle with obedience is regarding cords.  She wants to unplug the lamp, unplug the printer from the computer, and walk around with the iPod cord.  I definitely have to stay on my toes!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drops from My Cup


My friend Leah has a blog called “Drops from My Cup.”  That phrase has been stuck in my head regarding God’s provision for our family.  God has done so much, and provided in so many different ways, that I often feel as if my “cup” is running over.  However, the things that I am able to share here with you are only drops from that cup.  There is no way to adequately describe everything that God is doing for us here in New York City.

On Tuesday I shared a drop from my cup.  Can I share another one with you?  Elaine has been needing a few things for winter.  She has enough to get by, but I feel like I am washing her clothes more frequently.  I have looked at stuff in the store.  Tried to bargain hunt and thrift shop.  I have asked Ben if I could make a few purchases.  He always said, “God will provide.”  I thought it would be through Elaine’s birthday (coming up in two weeks!).  I forwarded a list to the grandparents.

Then yesterday I got a message from a family at church asking if Elaine needed anything for the winter.  Last night at church they gave us two shopping bags full of pajamas, dresses, shirts, overalls, shoes, hats, sweaters, and more.  I think I practically squealed with glee as I pulled each item out of the bag.  Elaine’s drawers are now stuffed and overflowing, just like my “cup.”

Ben asked me last night, “Why are you so surprised that God did this for us?”  I don’t know.  He has done so many things, and worked in mighty ways, but I am always surprised when He goes to work again on our behalf.  As we used to say in Brother Spencer’s classes at Ambassador Baptist College: “God is good…all the time.  All the time…God is good.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wacky Wednesday Extravaganza


I decided to suspend Wordless Wednesday for today in order to bring you Elaine, in her own personality and words, on video enjoying a crisp autumn day!

 

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8

I need to give credit and glory to the Lord for His goodness to us this last week.  I have started a journal tracking all of the ways that God has provided for our family since we moved to New York City.  There are just too many to share here.  But last week was a monumental week for us, and me in particular.

Doable Diapers ButtonYou probably know that we recently started a business selling cloth diapers online.  We took our meager savings and purchased a small inventory.  The goal, hope, or dream was that it would grow into something that could allow Ben to work less when we start planting a church in a few years.  We realized we didn’t have a lot of up-front money to start out big, and we expected the business to grow slowly.  Even though I knew all of this, I was pretty discouraged when I didn’t get any orders.

I used to check the email every time I walked past the computer, just hoping desperately that someone had decided to order a diaper from my shop.  I prayed that the Lord would grow and prosper our business, if it was His will, and only in His time.  But I was still impatient!

Last week we received an order every single day.  And these were not small orders of just one or two diapers.  These were people purchasing everything I had in stock, and more.  I have two different package deals on my website to help people get all of the accessories they need for cloth diapering.  I sold two of those packages this week.  I sold diapers to a deaf man that I spoke with through an operator over the phone.  I was contacted by people in Manhattan who wanted to take diapers over to their family in Israel.  (Unfortunately I didn’t have the stock to fulfill this order in time, but I believe they will be back).  I sold diapers to another retailer, at full retail value, because she was desperate to fulfill one of her client’s orders.  I sold diapers and products to friends (thanks Alethea!), and complete strangers.

I never imagined that things would take off like that.  I know that it was just one good week, and it doesn’t mean that business will stay at that level, but it was encouraging to me and my family.  And if God can do that last week, then I know He can do it again in the future.  It was exciting to see God answer prayer “…exceeding abundantly above all that we [could] ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20).  I just wanted you to know what God has done for us.  And I want to say thank you to those who are praying for us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What does it mean to be “green?”

recycle-atlantaI have been thinking on this for a little while.  What exactly does it mean to be green?  I am not an environmentalist, and I never would have described myself as “green.”  But…I do have several “green” habits in my lifestyle.  They are mostly reusable products, but I have found that I really enjoy being “green” in these aspects:

  • The biggest green thing I do is use cloth diapers.  While I started using cloth to save green, it is still a green choice.  I don’t have disposable diapers to throw away, and they are better for my baby.FB-perfectsize-grape120
  • Recycling. This is something we didn’t do before moving to NYC, and we mostly do it here because it’s a law – we have to do it.  And yet, as I gather up my recycling on Sunday nights I can’t help but notice how much stuff I would have been adding to the trash.  If those items can be reused and recycled, then I am glad to help.  But just to be clear – I would probably not be a recycler if I the collection service was not free.
  • Cloth napkins.  My mom used cloth napkins for special occasions when I was growing up.  Once I remember that she made a bunch of homemade napkins and we only used those for a while, but then she gave up.  I bought a stack of cloth napkins at a yard sale, and I got a few more included with placemats.  I have found that I really like using the cloth napkins, and it also saves on the cost of paper napkins.
  • Ziplocs.  I wash and reuse my Ziploc bags…except for the ones that had raw meat in them.
  • Paper towel.  I don’t buy paper towel anymore.  I hated the cost and how fast we used it up.  This used to drive Ben nuts, until I came up with an alternative.  I cut a bunch of t-shirt rags into paper towel-sized portions, and I store them inside the kitchen cupboard.  We use them in place of paper towels.  I wash them with Ben’s work clothes.  If a mess is particularly bad, it doesn’t break my heart to toss them in the trash.
  • Cleaning products.  I use a bucket and rag to mop my floor.  No Swiffer Wet Jet which requires more disposable pads for me!  (But if I ever see a good sale, I might pick one up.  I read a great post on making reusable Swiffer pads from prefold diapers.  I happen to have a lot of those around, and I can make homemade solution to put in the sprayer).  I reuse the hand soap dispensers to make my own foamy soap.
  • Shopping bags.  I save and reuse plastic shopping bags.  I try very hard to remember to take my reusable canvas shopping totes, but I must admit this is one of my biggest downfalls.  I just forget most of the time.
  • Shipping boxes.  When someone send us something, I save and reuse the box rather than tossing it in the trash.  It’s a little thing, but it saves me money and effort when I need to ship!

So there is my list.  I don’t know if that really makes me green.  Most of it is pretty insignificant.  But that’s what we do, and I suppose it helps a little.  While I am not an environmentalist, I do believe that we should be good stewards of what God has given us, including the planet where we live.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Baseball is his game

Ben’s game, that is.  He loves baseball.  He thinks I ask too many questions.  The same questions, every game.  I really don’t understand a lot about baseball.  (But if you wanna talk football…that’s a different story!)

The Texas Rangers are playing the New York Yankees for the league imageschampionship.  Tonight is game one in the series.  Right now the game is tied.  We were supposed to watch a movie…but Ben is biting his nails waiting for the outcome.

Yes, you guessed it.  We are cheering for the Rangers!  (Did I get you?   You expected me to say Yankees, didn’t you?)  There are a couple of reasons we like the Rangers, and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are having a good season.  First, Nolan Ryan is one of Ben’s favorite baseball players ever (right after Cal Ripkin Jr.).  Nolan not only played for the Rangers, but he is now a partial owner in the team.  Another owner?  George W. Bush.   As a bonus, the star player is named Hamilton.

There is a lot riding on this series.  Not only will the winner go to the World Series, but the winner may determine the name of our first son.  Okay, now I need to clarify: I am NOT pregnant!  But…as we throw around names that we like for a boy, should we ever be blessed with a son, Nolan is one of the favorites.  There are actually three names that we really like.  We keep changing our mind as to which one is the first choice.  One of them would have been Elaine’s name if she had been a boy (and my parents really dislike the name).  It’s still on the list, but maybe not at the top.

What does this have to do with the current baseball series?  I told Ben that if the Rangers win this series, we will name the first boy Nolan (middle name to be a surprise).  It’s kind of a joke, but it may end up being serious! 

So…who are you cheering for?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homemade Applesauce

When I found out we were going apple picking last week, I started making preparations for canning applesauce.  I ordered my canning lids, secured a recipe, and got excited.  The price was a little too much at the apple orchard, so I decided to wait.  Then I found apples…almost on their last leg, but perfect for canning…at the local fruit stand.  The price?  Only 49 cents per pound!  I picked 15 apples and decided to test the recipe before going gung-ho.

My recipe came from my friend Alethea.  Mom had mentioned that Alethea just made applesauce in the crockpot, so I asked for the recipe.  It is definitely a keeper, so I want to share it with you!

  • Apples – peeled, cored, and quartered.  (I bought 15 apples – they were large, but I had to cut out some bad spots.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • I added 2 cinnamon sticks. 

It didn’t take me too long to prepare the apples, but I did have a helper!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA(The pasta fork was just to keep her happy!)

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or until apples are soft enough to mash. 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Mash with potato masher.  If you want a puree, you can process the apples through a blender or food processor.  I wanted chunky applesauce. 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I canned my applesauce, so I placed it into warm jars with lids, and water-bathed for 20 minutes to seal the lids.  I got 6 pints.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I have done canning before, but never without a dishwasher to prep my jars.  I was glad that Mom suggested steaming them over the waterbath canner.  After I washed them in hot, soapy water, I placed them upside down over the steam.  It worked like a charm!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I removed a jar, filled it with applesauce, added the lid, and replaced it in the same spot (right side up, of course!)

Things were a little tight on my tiny stove, but we got it all worked out!  Even Ben approved, and he doesn’t usually like anything chunky!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

You can’t really tell from this picture, but the tea kettle was practically falling off the edge because the waterbath is so big!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Day in the Country

Well…I never thought of New Jersey as “The Country” before, but after living in Brooklyn for over four months, it was nice to see some trees and open spaces!  On Saturday Elaine and I went apple picking with a group from our church, Bethel Baptist Fellowship.  We went to Hillview Farms, and in addition to apples they had a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.  I was hoping for a pumpkin and enough apples for canning applesauce.  The apples were a little overpriced at $1.99 per pound, but we enjoyed the experience and picked enough for a pie.  The pumpkins were the same price as in the City, so I opted to wait for a better sale.  This made me even more jealous of my cousin Cassi’s garden pumpkins! 

We rode the tractor to the orchard.  From there we could select the type of apple we wanted to pick and walk to the pumpkin patch.  The weather was perfect – a lovely fall day which was neither too hot nor too cold.  I have too many pictures from the day, and I can’t decide which ones to leave out, so here they are!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
These girls spoiled Elaine and all wanted to hold her.  In the end, it was Abby that was her favorite!
(Christine, Hannah, Cassidy, Elaine, Samantha, Abby)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
The ladies in our group: Amethyst, Agnes, Darlene, Maria, Debbie, Mimi, and me!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
She looks like she’s been caught touching something that was off-limits.  In reality, she had a runny nose and thought it tasted good!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
I let Elaine move around in the pumpkin patch…in her bare feet…and she loved it!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Elaine is always trying to carry something or lift something.  She is very strong, but not strong enough to heft this pumpkin!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Apples…mmmmmm!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Someone found an Elaine-sized apple.  She loved it!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Elaine went…shoe picking!  The story is: these new shoes are a tad big, and one of them kept falling off.  So we chucked in the bushel basket with the apples!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
I picked an Elaine!  After I took this picture I looked down and she was fast asleep – in that position!

me & elaine picking apples
Me & my girl.  A fun day in the country!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Video Blooper

Here’s what happened the first time I tried to get Elaine walking for the video camera…

Ooops!

An Afternoon in Sunset Park

An afternoon in Sunset ParkMy friend Agnes at church took me to Sunset Park two weeks ago.  She grew up in Sunset Park (a neighborhood in Brooklyn).  We hit some fun thrift stores, had lunch at a great pizza parlour, and then walked up to Sunset Park.  The park is on a hill and provides a spectacular view of Manhattan.  It was a cloudy day, so the pictures seem a bit overcast but the clouds are great!

An Afternoon in Sunset ParkElaine, Me, & Agnes

An afternoon in Sunset Park
See the Empire State Building?

An afternoon in Sunset Park
Elaine doesn’t have much experience with grass, so she had a great time at the park!

An afternoon in Sunset Park  An afternoon in Sunset Park

An afternoon in Sunset ParkGotta love the fluffy bum!

An afternoon in Sunset Park