A visit from the Baneks

In June, we had a lovely visit from Ben’s Uncle Walter, Aunt Nelda and cousin Alexander from Texas. They were here for 4 days and we got a really good amount of sight-seeing done with them, balanced by a nice lot of calmly visiting at home.

We took them to our favourite touristy spot near our house where you can get a fantastic view of Manhattan from across the river.

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The girls enjoyed rolling down the little grassy bank there.

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There is a war memorial near the look-out and it tickled my funny bone that it had been yarn-bombed, quite likely for Memorial Day or the 4th of July (we were sort of in-between both).

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We took the Baneks to see a few NYC sights, and of course the Brooklyn Bridge featured on the list!

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Lunch at Le Pain Quotidien was delightful, followed by a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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From there Ben and Uncle Walter took the kids home and Aunt Nelda, Alexander and I went to see St Bartholomew’s Church where there were stained glass windows she wanted to see.

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Then it was on to Times Square and to see Once on Broadway!

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Thanks for making us one of the stops on your roadtrip, Baneks! We really enjoyed our time with you.

Posted in Being tourists, Family, NYC | 3 Comments

Marica’s recital at Steinway Hall

Marica and Esther started piano lessons the week after our piano arrived, and have both been enjoying it a lot, no doubt because of their excellent teacher (who also happens to be our friend!), Shannon Murphy.

For the end of year recital (end of the academic year) Marica performed two of her pieces that she’d learned. It was pretty soon after starting, given the fact that we got our piano in April and the academic year ends in June, but she did really well! And get this — they had the recital at Steinway Hall! Wow. It’s pretty cool to say you’ve performed at Steinway Hall!

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Marica really enjoys learning piano, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t practice or tinker around playing things by ear. She’s figured out how to play plenty of songs just by having heard them.

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Well done, Marica! We’re proud of you!

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I got a cute photo of the three sisters on a pretty seat in front of the recital room beforehand.

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Posted in Culture, Kids, NYC | 2 Comments

A bonus Laurelin feature

This post is specially for grandparents, aunties and other such doting people who would be interested in these videos of our little Lorax.

Marica loves to play rough and tumble with Laurelin, but she’s very careful not to be too rough. Laurelin loves Marica!

One afternoon we had a special afternoon tea of chocolate milk and s’mores. Hilarity ensued.

And, saving the best for last: Laurelin is now officially a toddler, preferring walking over crawling. Please pass me the tissues!


Posted in Funny things, Kids, Updates | 4 Comments


Reaga is a mix between reading and yoga. Marica has invented it without even knowing!

The other day I was sitting at the computer doing stuff when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that didn’t look quite right. There she was, quite casually just lying there in that position reading her book. She was like that for quite a while too!



Posted in Funny things, Kids | 5 Comments

Pretty little gift

Where we live now, we have no garden, which is a bit of a shame. The other day, though, we were outside and the girls were riding their bikes on the sidewalk when Esther brought these little flowers to me. Yes, they’re weeds, but they are beautiful.

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Posted in Kids, Nature | 2 Comments

A morning in Montclair

A few Saturdays ago, we headed about 20 minutes west to Montclair for a bit of a greenery and suburban fix. We just had a little picnic morning tea in a park, the girls ran around, and we admired the big mansions surrounding the park.

Walking down the road looking at some of the little shops, we spotted this cool mosaic:

An impromptu lunch at a Mexican restaurant topped it all off!

Posted in Jaunts out of NYC | 2 Comments

Reflecting on a year

Laurelin Grace, our youngest, turned one recently. The first year of her life has been an eventful one for our family. She was born 3 weeks early, induced in a bit of a rush. For the first 5 weeks of her life, she nursed every 2 hours or less and developed strong lungs from all her colic-induced crying. Somehow, through all her struggles, my wildly fluctuating (high) blood pressure recovering from pre-eclampsia which took 4 months, and two older children who needed mummy (and school pick-ups, and dinner, and owies kissed, and stories read…) we survived. Probably only because of the generous help of many friends and family members, and the flexibility Ben had working from home.

A few months after her birth there was talk that Oyster would be selling to TripAdvisor, but it was all secret, so we couldn’t talk about it. But we knew that the prospect of moving back to the States if Ben was offered a job with them was a real one. Ben was super excited. I encouraged him, not knowing how I’d manage a move. Again. With a baby. Long term.

I think perhaps I was too tired to think too hard about it all, and just dealt with one day at a time, doing the tasks set before me. Organize furniture removal company. Fill out immigration forms. Try to get the household back on its feet with me doing the work instead of helpers. Just doing the next thing. We packed up, we moved back to the States, found a rental apartment, moved in; and we’re slowly finding friends, getting into extra-curricular activities and learning where to shop, all over again.

And somehow, day after day, God’s grace sustained us. I’ve learnt a few things this past year. I’ve learnt that whatever strength I have, is His. My health is a gift. I have been blessed with so much. So many lavish gifts… and it’s all grace. I had to have a little chuckle looking at the drafts folder here on the blog of things I thought about writing 2 years ago, when I felt a bit more like I had things under control in the whole motherhood zone. I am now much more aware of my weaknesses, and am learning to be a little less hard on myself. And on other mothers! And, more importantly, less hard on my kids, especially Marica who was starting to feel like she was never good enough. I realized that if my daugther was feeling that way at 7, I’m doing something majorly wrong.

So we’ve been lowering the standard a bit around here. I’ve been working on showing more gentleness and grace. How can I lavishly receive God’s grace and not in turn show it to my children? It’s been bearing some good fruit, for the most part. Seeing them as people with their own ideas, hopes and emotions instead of robots who only need to be trained to obey helps too. Obvious if you think about it, but somehow hard to implement.

This past year has been tough in many ways. Many days still are — raising kids, practicing contentment, missing friends and family, etc — but it’s been a good year. A year of growing in grace.

Posted in Just life, Parenting | 4 Comments