Tuesday, August 4, 2015

NYC/DC Part 2

We're on day 4 now of our tour de DC/NYC. Day 1,2&3 are here.

We woke up the morning of day 4 and hit a fine local breakfast spot called Dunkin Doughnuts. That's right my friends, I went outside of my comfort zone, Starbucks, for the inferior DD. My sister kept pointing out cutesy, local breakfast eateries and I'm all like, "Do they have pink sprinkle doughnuts?" Like I said... not a diet conscious trip. We took our breakfast pastries and sugar water coffee to go and ate them underground in the subway tunnel. Clearly, one of my finer mom moments.
Killin' that blueberry muffin
Pink sprinkle doughnut.... a boy after my own heart
While riding the subway, Parker wanted to try holding onto a pole instead of sitting. I reminded him not to let his head whack the pole so he rode like this:
We fit right in. No one could tell we were tourist.
We rode the subway back to Central Park where it was our quest to find the Belvedere Castle and carousel... which not a single person who works in Central Park seems to know of it's existence. The walk to the castle was beautiful! Shakespeare's garden surrounds it which makes for pretty pictures (even if they choose some strange posses)!
The castle itself is tiny but the views are breathtaking! I high recommend the quick walk up the narrow stairwells for the views of the amphitheater, duck ponds, ball fields and NYC skyline!
Before we went to NYC, I asked each kid what they wanted to do. Parker wanted to see Iron Man and Spiderman which we checked off on day 3. Avery wanted to ride the carousel so that was today's mission. After a few mile walk and being misdirected like 5 times, we found it... and Avery cried because the horses are all boy horses (red, green & blue) but dammit, we were riding the carousel. It's OLD and beautiful and plays the quirkiest carousel music. We soaked up the quaintness of the experience despite a little toddler drama. It turned out to be one of the funniest parts of the trip. We've all experienced the built up of a dream only for reality to not meet our expectations....this was the 4 year old girl version of that! #toddlerproblems   I didn't even take a picture because in the moment I was all like "YOU WILL LIKE THIS! GET ON THE HORSE AND SMILE!"

After the carousel, we went potty, along with every other woman in the park. 45 minutes later, we had all relieved our bladders and acquired some new body art. SMART entrepreneurs had set up face painting stations by the potty line and they were making BANK entertaining potty dancing kids.
Iron man.... shocking, I know.
Happy Unicorn
We played in the playground for a while before heading to Starbucks for some fuel! We weaved our way around the Puerto Rican pride parade to Rockafella Center. The LEGO store was a big hit! I always enjoy seeing the news stations. What up Hoda and KLG?
At this point, the city was becoming overwhelming and the Puerto Ricans were being super super loud in their adoration of their nation so we retreated to Brooklyn for some downtime. On the way there, a passerby gave Avery a "selfie reflector," as in, a small reflective disk to reflect good lighting to your face for a selfie. Who knew there was such a product?! Well, she thought it was a frisbee and tossed it in the middle of a busy intersection. When Kelly and I refused to retrieve her selfie reflector we ended up with a sad unicorn. 
Unicorn Tears
That night, Kelly made us dinner...
... and then we called for Thai food take out. The kids were WIPED. We packed a bunch of NYC into 2 1/2 days!

Using Avery's face as a pillow
Once again, I was too verbose in my recap so now there will be a part 3 to recap our mini tour of DC and NYC with little kids tips. My kids still talk about this trip daily! We read our "NYC/DC road trip" Shutterfly book almost every night before bed. I'm so thankful to have had these precious memories with the kids and my sister!

As for "what I'm listening to"... my kids are obsessed with the website worship house kids. I think it's meant for churches to buy the videos and songs for kid's ministry but you can view them all from this website for free. Their favorites are "Super Wonderful" and "My God is Number One." They've been on repeat lately. There isn't a sweeter sound than hearing your children worship!
The videos are animated on the worship house kids website but here's the best I could find on YouTube. If you like the popular song "Oceans" by Hillsong, Yancy did a kid's version! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

NYC/DC Part 1

As promised... back today with a fun summer update. 

Daniel had to spend 10 days in Germany for work so the kids and I loaded up in the swagger wagon and headed north. Our 1st stop was a quick layover in Washington DC to see Beth and break up the drive. Beth is a good friend from college who just moved into the CUTEST apartment in Alexandria, VA. The kids thought it was fabulous. Beth was a saint to sleep on the couch while the 3 of us took over her bed... and bathroom thanks to a stomach bug Avery couldn't seem to shake. Let's just say Avery reverted to pull ups for this trip since public NYC bathrooms are few and far between. 

Strollin' Alexandra, VA in the stroller I purchased specifically for this trip! PSA- Don't sell your stroller until you're really really sure you'll never use it again! That said, this Baby Jogger City Mini Double was awesome and super easy to use in NYC! I couldn't have done this trip without it!.
We loved walking around Alexandria but my favorite part (other than Beth's company) was dinner at Austin Grill where I consumed a burrito the size of a small child along with beefy cheese dip and one of the world's best margaritas.  Obviously, I was very diet conscious this trip. 

The next morning, we continued our journey to NYC. We got a bit of a later start than I intended so that put us in the middle of Manhattan at 4pm on a Friday. Driving a minivan through Manhattan at 4pm on a Friday could be a blog post in and of itself but let's just say it took an hour to drive what my GPS said would take 12 minutes and ended with wine when I arrived. I have to say, I was really proud of myself (and the kids!) for making the trip. I'd do it again but I think next time I'm going to try the DC to NYC train! 
After Kelly (my sister) got home and my hands regained feeling and blood flow, we walked to dinner at an authentic NYC pizza shop. It was a hit!

That night, we needed to run some wiggles out so we met Kelly's "special friend" Zack for ice cream and a stroll to a park in Brooklyn. The kids loved seeing the city from Kelly's rooftop at sunset. Parker was on the look out for superheroes and bad guys the entire 4 days we were in NYC.

The next morning, we were up and out by 9am. The kids insisted that I pack their costumes so they could fight bad guys. Their basis of knowledge of NYC comes from Spiderman and Avenger books so understandably so, they expected to need to fight some crime. Much to their dismay, everyone we met was wonderfully nice except for the 40+ ladies in the line for the bathroom in Central Park. I could have really used a superhero then! 
One of the things they were MOST excited to do was ride the subway. It was a hit! The kids loved the whole subway experience, homeless people, jazz musicians, turnstiles and all.  I did NOT share their enthusiasm for the stinky crowds and lack of windows/natural light but I definitely enjoyed watching them have fun!
The best part about this picture is that no one cared that my kids were in costume. Most people didn't look twice. Gotta love New Yorkers. Not much phases them.
 We went to FAO Schwartz before it closed in July. This was so cool for me because it's always fun making memories with your own kids that your parents made with you. Once the temp hit in the 90's, I took the kids superhero costumes off and promised them if I saw a super villain, I'd put them back on.
This lady photo bombed EVERY ONE of my FAO Schwartz pictures with the iconic Toy Soldiers.
Avery loved the "BIG" piano!
Parker's dreams came true when he got to meet Iron Man. $28 later, we are the proud owners of these photos. At this point, I was unaware you can take pictures with every character under the sun at Times Square for a $3 donation.

We left FAO Schwartz with a $28 photo, $5 kitty in a purse and Kelly on the verge of an anxiety attack. Central Park was our next stop. We enjoyed the Central Park Zoo, lunch on Shepard's Field, hours at the play grounds, consuming street hot dogs and riding the carousel. 

The kids loved these tall, steep, metal slides. Screw safety.... these were a blast once you got past the initial rump roast.
Playground Fun
Petting Zoo in Central Park
Avery took petting a little far and began hugging the animals.
They both loved this "spider web" in the Central Park Zoo
 After spending hours of fun in Central Park, we made a Starbucks stop then headed to Times Square. Parker immediately knew where he was based on Spiderman books! Avery napped on the stroller ride from Central Park to Times Square and woke up just in time for a photo op with Olaf!
Parker was SO SO excited to see all the superheroes in one place. He kept running to me asking for $3 to give (insert superhero). He's already requested I frame these photos for his room. They've become a prized possession.
Iron Man Mark 42
Iron Man and Iron Patriot
Times Square!

After Times Square, we grabbed a street pretzel before walking the streets and soaking in the city. Eventually, we hopped on the subway and headed back to Brooklyn for a quick rest before heading back out to walk the East River area. Brooklyn also has some beautiful parks and riverfront views! If you visit NYC, make sure to pop over the river!
I obviously struggle to select only a few photos so I'm going to stop here and do a part 2 tomorrow (hopefully! No promises!). 

This trip was so successful because we did mostly kid friendly activities which was still a blast for my sister and I. Traveling to NYC was a wonderful experience and I absolutely recommend taking your kids! In my next post, I'll add a few tips for doing NYC with little ones.
I've decided to end {most} post with a "what I'm listening to" video since 2 of you messaged me that you loved the last song I posted. That's about 50% of my readers, so I figured I'd keep it up.

Today I've got "Holy Spirit" performed by Kim Walker (Jesus Culture) at the Passion Conference on repeat. I love this song of invitation to the Lord.

Enjoy your Sunday evening, friends!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Desert

Hello again! It has been a summer for the record books. I need to sit down and recap the major events for the kids and for my own fleeting memory! We've taken 6 or so road trips, sold our investment property, swam almost daily, went to 2 VBS's and built a house... all while living with my parents. WHEW. We've been building this house since November so we're excited to be in the home stretch. Our March close date came and went but God's timing is never wrong. There are times I didn't see the BIG picture when looking at each obstacle but God put each puzzle piece together just perfectly in HIS timing (certainly not my own!) and man... God has been so faithful.

There are days I've felt "in the desert" so to speak. (You should know I typed dessert by accident which is also true. I've been in the desert and in the dessert... Klondike Bars anyone?) My parents house is over an hour away from where we do life. That means my husband leaves for work an hour before I even consider getting out of bed and comes home an hour later. Friendships I've cultivated over the last 4 years have been strained and are in desperate need of mending. We've had to put a dog to sleep, I've lost a grandmother and the selling of our rental house went anything but smoothly. We've had our fair share of hurdles lately but God guided each of those, 1st by changing my perspective.

You see, if we'd moved into the new house in March like we were supposed it, we would have floated 2 mortgages while we sold the rental house (our "rent to own" renters gave us notice they were moving out 30 days before they were supposed to close on the house!). God protected our finances. The loss of a grandmother has been tough but living with my parents has given my dad the ability to be in Atlanta with his dad while I take care of the house/dog. God gave us this time as a family to heal together. While I miss my core group of friends, being back where I grew up has allowed me to rekindle a few childhood friendships. God has reminded me of the importance of good friendships and encouraged me to be a better one. His timing is always perfect. 

I've really enjoyed being back at the church I grew up in. The kids love Sunday school and we all had the BEST time at Vacation Bible School! If I believed in coincidences, I'd say the current series on "the wilderness" would be one.  God blessed the Children of Israel abundantly and yet, they spent 40 years grumbling and doing things their way.  Had they obeyed God with gracious hearts, they would have entered the Promise Land years before. What an eye opener for my own attitude! I'm not saying our new house is "The Promise Land" but I took this picture one day when I felt God had put peace in my heart that if we were patient, we would eventually move here. It's an indescribable feeling to be 16 days from that promise. 

The only pictures I have of our house and the rainbow over it has a street sign in it so for internet privacy, here's the same rainbow over some other houses in the neighborhood. ;)
It's easy to get bogged down in your current circumstances. Hello... 8 weeks living with my parents has turned into 5 1/2 months. I love my parents but no one wants to move their family into their parent's house for 5 months an hour away from their home-base. That said, now that I'm at the tail end of this journey, it's clear to see God's hand shifting the pieces of our future together in ways my humanity didn't allow me to understand. I can also see times where my grumbling and complaining kept me from fulling receiving God's blessings. 

I know a few of my friends are in their own form of a desert.  I want to encourage you that you aren't alone and if you take a step back, ask for wisdom, understanding and guidance, you may see God moving in ways bigger than you imaged. Your attitude and perspective in the wilderness will open your heart to see the blessings in the horizon and the faithfulness of the Lord.

I feel like I should leave this mini blog sermon with a benediction.  haha

I tend to find a song that speaks to whatever season of life I'm in and play it on repeat. This week I'm wearing out "Great are you Lord" by Sons & Daughters

Enjoy! I promise to be back soon with updates from our NYC/DC trip, Hilton Head family vacay and updates on the housing front!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Taylor Wise according to Google

It's moving week in the Wise household... which means I'm putting off packing boxes in favor of  watching last Friday's episode of The Blacklist and writing a blog post. I work better under pressure... which sounds better than "I'm procrastinating." 

This morning, I was trolling facebook while trying to convince myself to get out of bed which isn't possible when you've already packed your keurig. There is no motivation to wake up once the coffee is gone. I'm not grocery shopping this week since we're moving out in T minus 4 days. I fed my children cheese its and blueberries for breakfast and I ate last night's jambalaya. I've convinced myself we will make it until Saturday without going to the store but my 8:00am heartburn may win that battle. Lesson learned... never eat kielbasa for breakfast. Anyways, I was playing around on facebook and saw a few people had shared their "What's on your Wikipedia page?" I didn't click on it because I think Daniel will divorce me if I ask him to rebuild my computer for a 13th time due to it's affection for viruses but it did spark my interest.

What would Google say about Taylor Wise? I realize on the vanity scale of Jesus being a 1 and Kim Kardashian being a 10, this falls somewhere in the 8 range but I figured I should know what the internet says about me.

The answer is... Taylor Swift. No matter how I Google myself, the internet says "Did you mean Taylor Swift?"

When I finally got Google to give me non-Taylor Swift photos, here's what the internet had to say about me:

My facebook profile, my blog, where I went to high school and then straight to things that aren't relevant to myself. Nothing too overly exciting, although it did make me ponder what am I (or more like am I not) contributing to society?! Apparently just a measly (occasional) blog of 80 followers and the knowledge that I did, in fact, graduate high school. I'd like to think I'm storing my treasures in heaven because they certainly aren't on Google.

The BEST part of Googling myself were the pages and pages of images... of not me. 
Google got #6 ALMOST right... that is at least Daniel and Parker. Let's talk about Silence of the Lambs and Hoop Mix Tape?! haha I can't even begin to think how those relate to me. My ONLY connection with Britney Spears was when I dressed up as crazy Britney Halloween of 2007. Is Google THAT smart?
 Here are my favorite images of "Taylor Carr Wise" just from page 1 of Google images:
This is the 1 picture on "images of Taylor Carr Wise" that actually IS me!
Don't judge... I obviously was a little heavy handed with the Doritos that month...plus we all know my affinity for overalls.
I sideline as a black man nicknamed "Pit Bull"
I don't always handle my wine with as much class as Olivia Pope. Never let me mix red and white again, please.
When I hopped out of the shower this morning, this is exactly what I saw in the mirror.
Obviously my sister and I engaged in a friendly after dinner wrestling match. Sometimes Kelly doesn't shave her legs for weeks.
I took this one at one of those old timey photo shops in Myrtle Beach.
Sometimes I like to dye my hair pink and go on crime sprees.
This is how I look before I've had my coffee.
So there you have it... Taylor Carr Wise according to Google. I'm certainly feeling super awesome about myself and my contributions to society.

Your turn. Google yourself and post your favorite image of you that's not you in the comments section on facebook. This could be fun!