Friday, May 31, 2013

New York, New York

Note:  I irrevocably messed up my ancient blog template, so I'm being forced to update my design a bit.  (We'll see if the 2008 picture slideshow ever goes...)  I'm experimenting with a larger picture size and am interested in your frank opinions.  I only changed a few photos to give the idea.  Love it?  Hate it?  Too narcisstic?  Does the wider template width make the text more difficult to read?  Does it load more slowly?  Does it display okay on mobile devices?  Any feedback you have would be much appreciated.  :)

Theoretically, time is immutable--constant and unchanging as it marches steadily onward. In application, time reminds me more of a river--a tiny trickle during some seasons; a great, rushing torrent in others.

Over the past few weeks, time has been swallowed up by a deluge of change. In the course of a single week, we squeezed in everything from kindergarten graduation to clearing out our entire home to make room for our summer house sitters. The grand finale, of course, was Jason's trip home from New York. After some flight delays, he arrived at 3 am Saturday, only to turn around and start making the drive back to Nebraska at 5 pm that very same day.

Needless to say, it was a long and tedious journey. Thanks to everyone for their prayers--truly. We did our very best to drive safely, changing drivers often to avoid drowsy driving, as well as stopping off to sleep multiple times. Even so, we were reminded that there are only so many things one can control. I was driving along I-70 at about 10:30 pm on Saturday night when I became puzzled by some headlights that seemed like they were traveling straight towards me. With horror, I finally processed the unthinkable; a car was indeed headed the wrong direction on the interstate. As I laid on the horn, Jason grabbed the wheel and pulled our minivan onto the shoulder just as this drunken maniac swerved into our lane.

Ever the clear thinker, Jason called 911 in the surreal moments that followed. As for myself, I only managed to hyperventilate. The other possible outcomes were so unimaginable--my babies were in our car! (I include my sweet hubby in that number.) In that moment, I felt the enormous weight and responsibility of geting them home safely more keenly than ever before. Tears filled my eyes as I was overcome with gratitude to all who had been praying for our safety and protection.

On the positive side, Annika handled the trip really well. We were a little nervous since her trip home from New York was a little, um, not so great. That's *definitely* not so great when you are sharing an airplane with a hundred other passengers. But no need to relive that--our wonderful week in New York was worth every turbulent mile.
If you had to summarize Annie Mae's New York experience in a single picture, this would probably it. She got toted around in this sling everywhere. She outgrew her last one, so I had to make another--Eli picked out the fabric.

We flew into Islip on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend on Long Island. Here's Annika with my Uncle Jay, just home from a hunting expedition.

And here's Jay (John) with his baby girl, Jeanette. Can she really be starting high school in the fall?

It took a little coaxing, but we soon pawned Annika off on her cousin. (Okay, technically they're first cousins once removed, but I never liked "technically" anyway.)

In honor of our anniversary, Janet and Jay treated us to a hilarious matinee performance of "Boeing Being" at the Northport theater. After the show, it was off to Centerport to dine with the LaFroscia family. Here's Annika with my Aunt Alison...

And here she is once more with my Uncle Bob. She certainly loved all the attention!

My cousin Alex had his Eagle Scout Court of Honor the night before we arrived, so we shot a few photographs of him in full uniform. Congratulations, Alex!

Upstaged by the kitty.

While Jason hurried off to work Monday morning, Annika and I enjoyed a leisurely day on Long Island before joining him in the evening. First stop? The Shake Shack. Then it was time for a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Small wonder my NY travel guide lists the Brooklyn Bridge as one of the top ten romantic spots in the city.

Next destination: the Staten Island ferry--another NY romantic top ten. Even the harshest city critic has to admit that NY is dazzling when lit up at night, particularly when seen from a distance.

Time for bed! But where to put Annie? Nothing like a makeshift suitcase turned bassinet.

In the morning, I had a chance to fully appreciate Jason's living accommodations. Due to a small (okay, large) miracle, he is staying in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Brooklyn for practically nothing. The name of his apartment building? The Breukelen.

I can't say enough positive about Brooklyn Heights. The neighborhood is clean, full of charm, and steeped in history (not to mention old trees.) This is the view from the Promenade, located less than a block from Jason's residence.

Signs of spring in Brooklyn Heights. I was tickled pink, literally, to sample Jason's city life. We weren't sure if Jason would still be in the apartment when Annika and I came since he will have to move as soon as the unit sells. Fortunately for us, it looks like he may get to hang around a while longer.

The location couldn't be more perfect--just a subway stop away from Jason's work. Yet another remarkable tender mercy...

Jason's Enterprise office is on the very tip of Manhattan near Battery Park, on the eleventh floor of 1 Whitehall Street to be precise. Personally I found it pretty exhilerating to pass the tourists mauling the bull on Wall Street on the way to grab lunch with my hubby.

Some days it was just street eats from the vendor on the corner.

Anybody want a knish?

Other days found us dining on Stone Street in the financial district, a fascinating cobblestone nook of neo-colonial buildings nestled among the skyscrapers.

On our actual anniversary, Jason took Annika and I out to the Rockaways with him. This long peninsula in Queens was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Seven months after the storm, it still took us two hours to reach the area on public transportation because the railways were so damaged. Jason is in charge of organizing a design competition to bring sustainable, waterfront design to this area. Be sure to check out the website--it's amazing:

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Rockaways used to be a popular summer beach retreat.  This mural was located in one of the train stations.

So while Jason slaved away at his meetings, Annika and I strolled the boardwalk (or at least the section still left standing after the storms.) I guess I got to spend my tenth anniversary lounging on the beach after all. :)

For those of us comfortably situated far away, it's easy to view Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters as emergencies that dissipate once the initial crisis has passed. Being in New York altered my perspective. Even though the actual hurricane may have blown through months ago, New Yorkers still speak of Sandy as very much present. Their lives are still altered and affected by Sandy--for some, quite immensely. Homes are still vacant, stripped down to their studs. Many families do not know when they will be able to return, if ever. So as hard as it is to have Jason absent from our home, it's helped to explain to the children that the work their Daddy is doing is very significant.

During the day while Jason worked, Annika and I played the tourist, visiting significant sites such as the 9/11 Memorial. Enormous waterfalls mark the footprints of the Twin Towers, settling into massive reflecting pools that empty into a void.

The names of those killed in the attacks are engraven along the exterior. I'll always feel attached to the Pentagon since I was in D.C. on 9/11 and saw the Pentagon while still in flames.

I wish I had a photo log of all the places I nursed Annika Mae while in the city. This one might be a favorite--St. Paul's Chapel. I appreciate the history of George Washington worshipping here on his Inauguration Day. If only all in our nation would plead for divine guidance today...
I don't have a photo of Annie and I on the High Line, but here we are admiring some mighty high masts at the South Street Seaport.

As soon as work let out, Jason joined us in our play. Equipped with a jogging stroller and a snowsuit to keep Annie Mae warm, we did everything from run around Central Park to attend an orchestra concert at the City College.

My favorite evening was the one spent at the Cloisters in Washington Heights.

Fort Tryon Park is absolutely gorgeous...

Almost as beautiful as our baby girl. :)

On our way back to the subway station, we walked right past Jason's old missionary apartment. How much has changed since then!

Before we knew it, the weekend had arrived once more and it was time to head back to Long Island. The Wells crew generously welcomed us once more, despite the fact that Annika was rather crabby after being hauled around the city all week. This time Gregory was home from college so he got to meet the newest Wheeler addition. Of course, he had to share with Katelyn.

Out of all the wonderful experiences we had in New York, my very favorite was getting to share Mother's Day with the Wells family. These fantastic kids pampered their mother (and me) with breakfast, flowers, dinner, cards, poetry, artwork, and song. As much as I missed my own munchkins, this special day helped me look forward to the years to come, especially since three girls and a boy must be a magical combination. ;) It's pretty late and I ought to get to bed, so I'll just let the photos speak for themselves.

Thanks for letting us share the moment! You guys make mothers everywhere proud. :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Kara,
Your "blog makeover" is fine. The photos load as quickly as before on my desktop, and I can easily view the text and photos without a problem on my iPhone.

Although I prefer the earlier style and color scheme, it is likely merely my preference tied to the past. So long as you don't lose content, and keep the wonderful photos and explanations coming, I'll be happy. I also realize this blog is no small effort for you to maintain. Particularly with all the other demands you have on your time. I think you went to bed about 1:45 a.m. this morning. Stay healthy and keep smiling!

Jason said...

The blog is truly a treasure - Life passes so quickly, and we think we will remember all of the little moments; however, going back and being reminded of past events that had completely slipped my mind is a clear testament that if you don't write it down, you'll likely forget it! I often cannot even remember what I did last week, let alone what I had for breakfast!

Love you beautiful. Thanks for all your sacrifices for our family.

Julie L said...

Great photo journey of your week in NYC. It's definitely sobering to realize the impact something like Sandy has on so many lives. Same thing with the tornadoes in Oklahoma and every disaster that hits. I am also so grateful for your protection on your trip. Hooray for Jason's quick thinking and what a miracle in a frightening moment!

I love the large photo format. Of course, you know that because I almost use it exclusively myself. Photos are meant to be enjoyed, and it seems the larger the easier it is to take a step into the scene with you.

Have a wonderful summer. What a perfect time to vacate St. George for cooler climes.

Susie said...

It was fun to read of your week in NYC since we didn't have much time to hear about all of it when you returned. So glad you were able to go!

Erin said...

I much prefer the new look and bigger photos. Can a blog really be narcissistic? I mean, this is family history!

Your drunken driver on the interstate story is scary. I'm glad you weren't alone on that road!