Christmas in the City

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Next week we will be jetting back to the island to enjoy the Christmas season with family and friends back home.  However, before that happens we have been taking full advantage of Christmas in our new home.  The holidays in the city have a little extra sparkle and a dash more whimsy than anything I have previously experienced.  The lights begin being hung around mid November and by the time Thanksgiving comes around almost every street is adorned with silky red bows and fragrant evergreen wreaths.  It is beautiful, and even the grinch-iest of grinch would have a hard time not warming to the Christmas spirit this city emits.

Currently I am in the midst of finals insanity in a way only grad school can muster.  However, Jay and I have been taking study breaks to explore the festive undercurrents of New York City.  Below I have chronicled some of our top holiday highlights.  Warning this list is long and only scratches the surface of holiday offerings this city provides.  There just may need to be a Christmas in the city 2.0 post to follow.

Continue reading “Christmas in the City”

Our Neighborhood

This is a great little video that highlights elements of Columbia, but I like it best because it showcases our neighborhood so exceptionally well. So take a look at where we live, work and go to school.

Teaching Moments: Leaf Wreaths and a Fall Walk Through Morningside Heights

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Check out those colors on the trees on our street!  I have so enjoyed fall in the city, being from the west coast I am used to everything staying lush and green for the most part throughout each season.  So watching the colors alter and fade as the months wear on has been wonderful to experience.  They have also served as a bit of teachable inspiration.

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On Saturday afternoons I help teach an autism education program in Chinatown with a group of some of the most exceptional teachers on the east coast, to an equally special group of students. I have been working hard to choreograph and rehearse three dances for them to preform at a fundraiser this coming February.  It has been a challenge, but one that I am enjoying undertaking.  After we tire them out with solid minutes of jiving and grooving we do a little art followed by some down time with games and centers.

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Before Thanksgiving we tackled a fall art project that my friend Ryan found for us to do (This guy is going to be one stellar teacher. Anyone who can should hire him immediately).  I am so used to using natural materials in my classroom for everything from art to science to math, but what I forgot when selecting this particular project was that I no longer live in a densely forested, organically lush corner of the world.  Nonetheless Jay and I scoured the parks near our apartment to collect leaves for our tree Tree themed art project and had a whole lot of fun doing it.

20131205-201348.jpgBelow I have included a description of our project.  However, I forgot to snap a photo of the sample (which I sent home with a student) or any of the student’s finished products.  This idea is in no way an original by us, so as such I  borrowed a photo from another location to give you an example of what a completed wreath. The URL is on the image as to give credit where credit is due.

Continue reading “Teaching Moments: Leaf Wreaths and a Fall Walk Through Morningside Heights”

Cathedral of St John the Devine

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 I am loving fall in the city.  The colours, the crisp, cool air and the festive decorations of each autumn holiday.  We spent the weekend laying low and regrouping after a busy week full of sight seeing, socializing and merry making.  We took the opportunity Sunday to stick close to home an attend Cathedral of St. John the Devine which is around the block from our apartment. Whenever I run by I am always slowed by lines of busses parked out front, and hoards of tourists snapping photos.  So I am glad we finally got to experience what all the fuss is about.  The architecture is stunning, with the soaring ceilings, stained class and ornate stone work.  It it the the largest cathedral in the world, which in Manhattan where space comes at a premium is even more impressive.  The service was reflective of the architecture.  St. John the Devine is of the Anglican tradition and their 11 am choral eucharist was breathtaking.  What we have loved most about being in the city is that we have been able to experience so many different denominations and approaches to church, from the very intellectual, to a church in a bar to a gospel church to now a traditional Anglican service. After church, we grabbed coffee from the Hungarian Pastry Shop, which never disappoints and explored the cathedral gardens for awhile.

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Dating (my husband) in NYC

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I think I have mentioned it before but one of the best, most exciting parts of being in New York has been falling in love with Jay on a new, deeper level.  When we first settled in here I felt worlds away from the support network I have carefully knit with my truly remarkable friends and large, close family, and the distance from them made me feel as if the floor had fallen out beneath me.  If I am honest, there are moments when I still feel this way.  However, I have come to realize that the core things I need are found in Jay.  This is no way diminishes the support I receive from others, because it is equally vital (and hasn’t changed at all).  I have simply begun to realize what an unstoppable, dynamite team him and I are.  He is the pinnacle of support, as he graciously talks to death all the big and small thoughts, aspirations and concerns that stir inside me daily.  Through his hard work and passion he is constantly bolstering all the dreams we both have for our little family.  This is nothing new, he has always been this way.  The only difference is that I have begun to appreciate these attributes in ways I could never have done without stepping outside my comfort zone and taking these risks.  So although we are slowly building a vibrant network of friends here in NYC, I have really enjoyed the us time as Jay and I explore this city and each other in a whole new way.

Now we are not the type of couple to schedule date nights, and in all actuality we are really, really terrible at the romance thing.  We would not be the winners of any cutest couple award that is for sure.  Although we do spend an unnatural amount of time together, I still tend to describe us as one of the least couply-couples.  A friend from back home who now shares the city with us told me she loved being with us because we don’t make people feel like third wheels.  This was one of the best compliments I have ever received.  At the heart of what defines us is that Jay and I are best friends and that is how we approach life and our relationships with others. So with that in mind most of our dates are happenstance and are the result of the friends we invited being busy, not the careful orchestration of romance.  Nonetheless here is a detailing of some of our favorite City dates thus far. Continue reading “Dating (my husband) in NYC”

My Second Contribution to the Columbia University Admissions Blog

My Second Contribution to the Columbia University Admissions Blog

Click the photo to be linked to my latest installment on the Columbia University Admissions blog.

This month I was asked to write about how I manage to get connected to the NYC community while being a graduate student. The piece showcases a few of the activities Jay and I have checked off our bucket list, as well as key information on how to find free things to do in this big, (and expensive) place. Enjoy!

Get Out of Town: The ‘Burbs

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Okay, I am going to dwindle down what little coolness points I may have accrued with my next statement.  I truly, and deeply love the suburbs.  Now, hold on just a moment before you judge me.  When I speak of suburbs I don’t mean cookie-cutter developments with a uniform colour scheme, or large mega malls with their box stores clustered together.  I mean the small, quaint town-type of suburb, like the one I grew up in in Victoria, B.C.  The type of community that has retained it’s heritage charm, that has an interconnected feel and sanctions miles of park land for public use.  That is the type of suburb that I love. So yes, give me open streets, single family homes with freshly cut lawns and grocery stories with aisles big enough that I am not crawling over my fellow patrons to snag a cantaloupe.  I will take them, uncoolness and all.

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Now don’t get me wrong, this is no way a testament to my distaste for our current urban lifestyle because I love the city for exactly the opposite reasons I stated above.  I guess my little indecisive heart would like to just have it all.  So that is why yesterday when Jay was done work early but still had a car we decided to get out of town and explore the colours, charm and fresh air that can be found in Scardsdale, just 30 minutes north of the city.  Scarsdale is picturesque, with ivy covered bridges, prewar homes, large lakes and a brick and mortar style main strip that is filled with local and artisan shops.  These small town attributes reminded me so much of our hometown.  Our first venture in the ‘burbs was a stop at a real grocery store.   Upon which I lept from the vehicle and spun in a circle declaring “Look at me, I’m not touching a single person”, which doubled Jay over in laughter and warranted me a few sideways glances.  However, after nearly 3 months in the city it was nice to have some space to stretch out, as we appreciated a different setting for a few hours.  On whole we loved the town, and with it being so close to the city I would suggest that is worth the visit if you have the time during your exploration of New York City.  If it captures your heart as much as ours, and you like it enough to call it home, you would wind up with David Letterman living near by but you would also need an extra $20,000 to spend in property taxes per year. Ouch.

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Humans of New York

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A new friend passed along this blog to me. I love it.  One of the things that Jay and I have found so inspirational, so invigorating, so undeniably awesome about New York is the people.  Another new friend in the city characterized most New Yorkers as having the same die hard, passionate, hunger no matter what industry they worked in or dream they were chasing.  It is true, and upon stepping into the city you can feel the frenzied energy the emanates from collection of colourful personalities that construct this patchwork of a city.  Right now, I can honestly say there is no place on earth I would rather be, than chasing my dreams along side all the beautiful humans of New York.

Church Hunting NYC: Seeking Him

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Most of you who know us personally have probably come to notice that we Jordan’s seem to really like Jesus. Like really, really.  We don’t often (or try not to at least) proclaim it bombastically, because we both would never consider ourselves good enough exemplars of Christ like living, but yet our heart for the church is ceaseless and undeniable.  We both grew up in church -mine small and personal and Jay’s a little bigger, and a little louder.  Our friendship took root in our small school, Pacific Christian and our dating relationship was strengthened through commitments to youth group, sunday school and community ministries.  Throughout we have imperfectly striven to consider God in all that we do, decide and act in, and also to plant roots in a community that bolsters us to walk out this mindset.

[A brief explanatory anecdotal aside] My first realization of Jay’s intentions was at church. We both attended a Pentecostal United youth group service at his home church Glad Tidings. After the service, like all good high school students, I unwound at McDonalds with friends, and who should stride through the door feigning hunger but Jay.  He had driven thrifty five minutes past a handful of McDonalds’, multiple alternative eateries and his own house to wind up at the same location as I was. We laugh about it now because he claims he was already all in, while I wasn’t even playing the same game.  I can’t recall but knowing high school me I was probably interested in someone else at the time, but I do remember being struck by just how different this boy was and that for him this was more than a friendship. His small, boyish act had made me feel special in a way no other man ever had or has since. Don’t get too excited though, I still made him wait another four years before I conceded to a date.  Obviously, I had to make sure he was in for the long haul.

Okay, back to the topic at hand -church hunting. Throughout our marriage we have been in a constant search for a church that fulfills both our needs -and upon arriving in New York this search continues on a much grander scale because the options here are limitless (albeit at times overwhelming to wade through).  Both of us are striving to find a place that is God focused, but beyond that is where Jay and I begin to differ in need.

I am constantly searching for community, and fervently feel that people and relationship are the pulse of the church. My childhood congregation was one that does fellowship so, so well. The Church of Christ has such a heart for it’s members that love oozes from each congregant in the form of unparalleled encouragement, warm hugs and baked goods during any trial or transiton.  It is something you have to experience to truly understand. In my adolescence my best friend, Sarah (miss you), wrangled me onto a city bus and brought me to her youth group.  As youth we spent Friday nights there, followed by a sleepover at my house that bled late into Saturday afternoons, and as university students did the same just as leaders rather than youth.  Through sharing life with the amazing young adults in that church, and as we truly invested in one another with a whole heart I developed friendships that neither time, distance nor hardship have been able to weaken. So for me that is what I crave in a church -people.

For Jay, he craves the intellectual. He wants a sermon to challenge and grow him.  At Church of Christ we had pastor Martin, who did just that.  Jay still craves listening to his podcasts and when he left to return to his family in the Southern states Jay felt something vital had left with him.  He yearns for that theological complexity that forces you to retreat from the service with a buzzing mind that is striving for something better.  Also, being a drummer the whole music component is a pretty strong consideration for him.  So that leaves us searching for a church that excels in community, breath of preaching and powerful worship. Below encapsulates our exploration of the houses of God in this great city so far -all of which are very large, and very on fire. Continue reading “Church Hunting NYC: Seeking Him”

Playing Tourist: Things to do in New York

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We were incredibly blessed to be invaded by family the past week and a half straight.  Our first visitor, my beautiful mom, came for a week which wasn’t nearly long enough.  In the span of days we fit what could easily have filled weeks, and afterward we (with watery eyes) tucked her into her cab with sore feet and a full heart.  It did both her and I good to explore mine and Jay’s new home together as we ventured into the heart of the city in hunt of exquisite shopping, good food and new running trails. I could not ask for a better excuse to be a tourist than her.

Then the evening after we waved good bye to mom, my dad, Peter, arrived.  His entrance into the city was eventful with a less than ideal foray into the Bronx, complete with unhelpful misdirections from locals amidst the bombarding, cacophony of rush hour traffic. However, after his unwanted adventure we at last laid eyes on him and settled him into our apartment, turning him into our second excuse to explore the city a little further.

I should have been studying for midterms, and I should have been completing my literature review but instead I paused and tried my best to balance my demands with soaking in family and our city.  In the midst of it all my little heart was filled to overflowing as both my parents assured me just how wholly proud of me they are and how excited they were for what waits us in the coming year as we plant roots in this crazy, overwhelmingly wonderful city.  Below are some of our highlights, and suggestions for must do NYC tourist activities that make every study break that much more invigorating. Continue reading “Playing Tourist: Things to do in New York”