Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Are You Really Telling Your Kids

I've never used a blog post to link to someone else's article before, but part of my immersion in this new way of thinking about food is that I'm now watching quite a few "foodie" sorts of blogs by Christians. One of them (Frugal Granola, what a name, right?) had this article that I just had to share because it so captures where I want to be with my kids.

Lydia begins:

How I live my life speaks volumes to my children. The more I stumble along this path of choosing joy and gratitude, the more I see how the opposite can negatively affect the small people in my life. If I choose to live each day as a nuisance and a burden, I am raising them to do the same. I am stealing their joy.

I know that words have power, to build up or tear down. I know that the words I choose to tell myself can make or break my attitude toward life. But what about those words that just float out there for anyone to hear…and what of these children who listen to what I say all day long?

When I am cleaning up around the house and muttering about the mess, a natural byproduct of a house full of kids. When I “vent” on the phone to a friend about how my kids are driving me crazy. When I heap on sarcasm out of irritability and impatience.

While at home, I can feel that I should be able to “let down my guard” and let emotions rule. I forget that someone is always watching and taking notes.

I leave it to you to read the rest of the article.

I want to be clear that I am so far from being able to "choose joy and gratitude" in my dealings with my kids that I can barely taste it. I much more resemble the italicized part up there, the muttering, venting, and sarcastic irritability/impatience. In quiet moments, I know that I am teaching my children much more by my actions than I do by any words I say.

God forgive me and have mercy on my children through me, a sinner!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime at SVS

No blog about a family's stint at SVS would be complete without a description of summertime here. As much as we may complain (God forgive us) about how busy seminary life keeps us during the school year, I'm beginning to wonder if that busy-ness is the only thing that keeps me sane. I say that because now, with all the 3rd years moved out or about to be, the new students not yet arrived, and many of those in between gone on vacations or internships, this place feels like a ghost-town. For example, we're the only family left on our floor, and the floor below us has one family left (with two kids, both younger than my older two). I'm not used to being able to get out and about much because we just can't during the school year, so I find myself puttering around the apartment somewhat aimlessly. I have a lot of things I'd like to get accomplished here at home, but I find it difficult to do them because of all the constant interruptions from my kids, especially the baby, who is almost never content.

One thing I'm almost always turning over in my head as I putter about is how to stay on budget for groceries. As I believe I mentioned on here, we were so sick for so long this past winter. I decided at the end of that time that I had to get us, especially K., healthier. One thing led to another and the end result is that we've really tried to change the way that we eat. We're still not where I'd like to be, but we're moving there. We're avoiding things that can be detrimental to our health and trying to incorporate things that boost our immune systems and digestive systems. Sometimes I feel like giving up because I can't do everything I'd like. Sometimes I feel like giving up because it's more expensive to eat healthily than to stock up on processed foods. Sometimes I feel like giving up because I want to eat something not so healthy for me or because my kids do. But I keep going because it's hard to go intentionally backwards on something you're convinced will help you be healthier in the long run.

Husband is working the same job he had last year, for which we are so thankful. He has also been able to borrow a vehicle to use for three out of the 5 days a week he works, so the girls and I can have the van if we need it. This is a huge relief to me, as Yonkers is not a very walkable place at all. Last year I found it very difficult to settle us into our new apartment/nest without being able to go places to buy the items we needed (or even groceries). I did get some much-needed exercise walking with the kids to the library, though!

We're going to try to get the older two into swimming lessons (another thing that's turned out to be more complicated here than it was in TX) and also try to do a little "adventuring" on D's one weekday off per week.

So that's summer for our family at SVS.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For Future Seminarians

Once again, I'm going to use this blog to host some information that I hope will be useful to future seminarians and their families. This is a packet that a few of us have edited this year, and is based on a packet we were given when we arrived here two years ago. It was so helpful at the time; I know at least my family couldn't have done without it. We hope the work that we have done on it will help it to continue in relevance and helpfulness to the new incoming students.

(If at some future time, the file gets deleted from its host, please leave me a comment below so I can fix it.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

SVS Area Attractions

Sorry it's been so long since I posted. We were on the road for three weeks, visiting family and friends in Kentucky and Texas. It's good to be back!

Today, I'm going to post a list of places for "adventuring," as one friend calls it, in the area around Yonkers. Although our family rarely gets out and so has done almost none of this, it gives you a good idea of what's available around here. I'm hoping this list can help prevent future seminary families from having to re-discover all of these great places.

The List:

Mystic Seaport - Check out Mystic Seaport. Hands down the best thing you can do while here. Would make a great overnight.

Stone Barns Center for Agriculture – A favorite more local place is Stone Barns Center - best cup of coffee and cutest baby piglets and best free range eggs in all of Westchester. Best gift shop, too. On the way there is a church with stained glass windows by Chagall.

Dobb’s Ferry - Dobb's ferry has some good ethnic restaurants and a go greenberry yogurt, and down by the Hudson there is a ship-shaped playground. They have a bike shop and a kids' consignment store. Check it out when you are going to the Hastings-on-Hudson farmer's market.

Farmer’s Markets - When you are going to the Larchmont or Mamaroneck Farmer's market (Mamaroneck has a favorite – Orwasher’s Bread!) don't miss playing at Harbor Island Park. They have playground equipment I've never seen before, a (dirtyish) little beach, and fountains for the kids to play in for a small admission. Boats galore!

Bronxville is right next door. Go to Il Bacio for Gelato, the little movie house for a movie, and there is a Starbucks with a Clover machine. Have the El Salvador. Lovely

Beaches: Jones beach, Fire Island (Robert Moses State Park)-- great day trips: advice, go during the week early in the morning- best way to avoid the crowds....about an hour....if you make it to fire island there is a lovely light house you can visit...bring your kites!

Camp in MA (north of Boston) & then spend some time in cape cod ...about 5 hours away & cape cod has PERFECT beaches for young children....SUPER gentle waves & worth the trip----the long island beaches are great but the waves are dangerous even for adults at times- not that relaxing if you have "runners" for children:)

One of the best investments you can make is children's museum pass @ Stepping Stones in Norwalk- you can use it to get in free to CMOM in Manhattan, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Staten Island Children's, & Long Island's....not to mention pretty much any children's museum anywhere in the states....very convenient!

Cold Spring- favorite favorite favorite village in the Hudson Highlands- an hour north, the drive is along the Hudson w/ beautiful views.... You can get on the train in Dobbs Ferry and take a GORGEOUS ride down the Hudson, then get off at Cold Spring and walk everywhere. Lots of hiking in the area if you are up for a hike (Appalacian trail, to name one), adorable main street, restaurant "the Depot" next to the train station, & a park in the middle of town with a FENCE & TONS of toys residents leave out for community use...(imagine Lakeside or the ND playground..... Kids have a BLAST there & you get to sit & sip coffee & have some time to talk:)... There’s also a great French restaurant, LE BOUCHON, with French Bistro fare. Best steak frites around and 8 kinds of moules! Also, Coldspring is not too far from Wappingers Falls if you want to make the trip on a Sunday & go to church there...(we LOVED the parish there when we visited)

Greenburgh Nature Center. Very close, nice hiking. If you pay to go into the manor house kids get to pet Chinchillas & hedgehogs & snakes with the naturalist....otherwise free

Central Park. Enough said! Spray parks EVERYWHERE in the city- go in for a day, pack your picnic & your suits & have fun! Riverside park is also lovely & a favorite spot for us! (where You've Got Mail was filmed, if you remember it!)

Stamford Nature Center- about 45 minutes from SVS- they have a working farm that the kids love as well as a GREAT "nature" themed playground complete with a giant log you walk through to get inside...

Multiple pick-your-own farms upstate- Fishkill farms is a good experience, but there are lots!

Muscoot Farm- another working farm, also about 45 minutes north

Rainbow Ridge-- yet another farm

Kenisco Dam- 15-20 minutes up the BRP; very nice playground & HUGE paved walking circle that is flat-hard to find around here!!

Wave Hill A spectacular 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades in the Bronx, Wave Hill's vibrant landscape is one of the most beautiful spots in New York City. The gardens change with the seasons and their CafĂ© is a great place for a cup of tea or coffee with a baked good, soup or salad. Free Entrance all day Tuesdays during off-peak months (November–April, July & August), 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Tuesdays during peak months (May, June, September, October), and on Saturdays free 9am to noon year-round.Free Parking is down the hill on the right. They have free shuttle service. 675 West 252nd Street; Bronx, NY 10471-2840 (718) 549-3200

Pack a lunch and go to the New York Hall of Science in Queens. This place is amazing with lots of indoor and outdoor stuff to do for the kids and adults will find it interesting as well:

Spend a morning in the city--see the NYPD police museum, grab a piece of pizza on a corner (lots of little cheap eateries around this downtown landmark)!

Take the Staten Island Ferry-free and fun for the kids to ride a big boat.

The Zoos here are amazing. You can get a zoo membership for the whole family, and that gets you admission to the Bronx Zoo (huge and full of the most unusual and usual animals), Prospect Park Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

Edited 7/9/11 to omit Scarsdale Library museum pass - apparently only valid for Scarsdale residents; also edited to change name of town from Coldspring to Cold Spring. Coldspring, NY is in the western part of the state and isn't the one referred to here. Oops!