Things We Learned — NY Day 8

Today we left New York. Barely over the NJ/PA state line, we got stuck in traffic due to a bad semi accident. We moved maybe four miles in about an hour and a half, which really set us back. To entertain ourselves, we collectively made a list of things we learned on this trip.

All elevator buttons belong to Sofia. If you push one without her, you may get hit.

Nothing in NYC is free. If someone says it is, it’s a scam. Michael learned this the hard way.

Emma gets “boatsick”. Emma learned this the hard way.

Canadian border guards are not as friendly as other Canadians. Don’t ask. Literally. Just don’t ask anything.

Canadian rest stops are extremely quiet. Like eerily quiet.

Bluie is smaller than an average-sized subway rat. Now I didn’t actually see this rat, but I’ve been guaranteed this veracity by half of my family at this point.

The Flory family likes lists. Obviously.

We aren’t big city vacation kind of people. We’re all just too laid back for big city life.

And finally, we learned that 11 hours in a car together is all we can tolerate. We got about three hours from home and called it quits because tempers we’re starting to flare (mine was, at least). Tomorrow we finish our journey.

Competition Day!!! — NY Day 7

Today is it!!! This is the entire reason we came to New York City: for the World Dance Championship. The Fort Wayne newspaper wrote an article about them:

Our morning was laid back. We wanted Emma to just eat and preserve energy when possible. Some light swimming, lunch at Panera, that kind of thing.

The girls gathered early afternoon to shuttle to the convention center together, and we drove over later. I could t get Emma to tell me if she was nervous or not.

The competition was huge. We must have watched 25-30 groups perform before our girls, and that was several hours in.

The girls managed to get interviewed after they performed.

The girls didn’t make the final five or win any awards, but they felt good about how they performed. Emma said she was just happy they had been chosen to go at all.

We had dinner as a group of about 40 with the other dancers and their families. It was loud but fun, and a great way to end the competition season.

Of Pigeons and Busses — NY Day 6

Sofia is probably one of the only people looking for the beauty of pigeons in New York City. She loves all animals, and the doesn’t know that most city dwellers consider pigeons only slightly higher than rats. Sofia, however, looks at them and sees the color variations. They aren’t all grey; some have lots of white and even brown on them. I’m not sure I would have noticed if Sofia hadn’t. It’s been an on-going thing with her. That, and pointing out every dog she sees.

Today was our last trip into the city. We bought tickets for one of the hop-on-hop-off busses and it was worth it. The bus picked us up in Times Square and we rode around downtown all day, hopping off and back on again as the inclination struck.

Sofia wanted to go shopping, so we hopped off at Macy’s. It was enormous! 8 levels of clothing and shoes. Sofia was so happy, which is weird because she doesn’t normally like shopping that much. I think it was the setting.

Next we hopped off at the 9/11 Memorial. We opted to not go into the actual museum, instead just spending a few minutes at the reflecting pool. It was beautiful.

While off, we also ate lunch and shopped for souvenirs. It helped break up the bus ride.

The bus took us through lots of the city, providing narration as we went. I didn’t really listen. I made it up as I went.

We’d thought about going up one of the skyscrapers in Rockefeller Plaza, but the girls were too hot and tired to find it interesting. I don’t blame them.

Instead we hopped off for the M&M Store, which the girls were VERY interested in. We bought some hazelnut M&Ms and sampled a few others. Sofia even found a cup with her name and proper spelling on it, which just about made her year!

We went back to the hotel for air conditioning, pool time, and happy hour…all in separate locations, obviously.

We ordered pizza for dinner and watched tv, and we all went to bed at a reasonable hour. Dance instructor’s orders.

Day of Rest — NY Day 5

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest, so that is what we did. Michael and I have traveled in big cities a lot, and we know what kind of pace we can handle. The girls are a different story. They are used to being driven everywhere, so the constant walking and public transport is more stressful on them.

Michael learned from a travel book that Thomas Edison lives not far from our hotel, so that was our only travel destination today. We drove to West Orange to the Thomas Edison National Historic Place and spent a lot more time there than we thought we would. You could view his amazing library and the warehouse where many of his inventions were dreamed up and created.

The girls played dress up and took pictures with a cardboard cutout of the inventor.

Michael was excited for the chemistry lab.

We had tickets to see his house at 1:00, but our lunch ran long and we missed the tour. It’s okay; the guilt-laden slice of carrot cake was worth it.

Sofia’s main objective for the day was to spend a nice long time in the pool, and the three of them definitely accomplished that.

Post-swimming, everyone relaxed for a while. I did homework, but took a break to go to the fitness room with Sofia.

The day ended games and vacation cake (yes, we have one!).

Conquered — NY Day 4

Despite our late end to Day 3 and the many times we got sidetracked, we still felt like we conquered the City. Today, though, the City fought back.

Our day started late by design so people could sleep in. We left the hotel around 10:30 with the hope of getting into NYC faster than the night before. We made it to Times Square station quickly, but then it hit us: three of the four reusable metro cards we’d bought the previous night were back at the hotel. My bad.

The plan was to hang out near Central Park all day, starting at the Natural History Museum. When we arrived, the line for tickets quickly convinced us that we didn’t want to go in as badly as we thought. Michael and I were bummed, but sometimes plans change.

Instead we walked west-east across Central Park, stopping at Belvedere Castle for a few minutes.

When we got across the park, we stopped for smoothies and rock-hard pretzels. Not the most satisfying lunch we’ve had this trip.

Next stop was the Met. Emma was as excited and Sofia was unenthusiastic. Sofia just doesn’t to art museums. There was a cool exhibit about clothing fads through the last five decades, and that found her actually smile a time or two.

Emma particularly wanted to see the modern and contemporary art.

I really liked the clouds and lighting in this painting:

We let the girls splash a little in the fountains outside of the Met before hitting the pavement again.

Our finally destination for the day was the Central Park Zoo. We saw a sea lion show, some penguins, grizzly bears, snow leopards, and red pandas before succumbing to the heat.

The metro and bus rides back to the hotel were hot and quiet. At least one girl had swimming on the mind, so was very disappointed to find that the hotel pool was closed for cleaning. We got tacos at a place behind the hotel, then just hung out for the evening. It was an exhausting day.

Sidetracked — NY Day 3 (late)

Sometimes the best laid plans get sidetracked like a New York train. Like how I meant to write the Day 3 post last night while waiting to see Stomp. Then I meant to write it on the bus ride back to the hotel. Then I meant to write it this morning on the way in to the city. But I was captivated by sights and sounds and sleepiness, so none of them happened. Sidetracked.

Friday was Day 3 of our trip, which found us feeling patriotic at Ellis Island and then the Statue of Liberty. Well, I felt patriotic. Sofia was mostly bored.

Still, we spent about three hours between the two places. We started at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, then caught one ferry to Ellis Island, and second to Ms Liberty, and a third back to the state park. We learned that Emma, unfortunately, inherited my tendency toward seasickness.

We had a late lunch at the Panera near our hotel, then rested for about an hour before getting ready for our evening in the city. We had tickets for Stomp, so the plan was the take a bus into the city and then a subway to the theater, catching dinner before the show. That kind of worked. Traffic made what should have been a half hour bus ride take well more than an hour, and then figuring out the subway system took more time than we thought it would. What was supposed to be a sit-down dinner turned into a slice of pizza and two cups of Ben and Jerry’s to go. It was still delicious, just not what we’d planned on. Sidetracked.

Stomp was amazing. Each of the artists was so talented, and they performed together with brilliant precision. A couple of the performers served as comic relief as well, and those were Sofia’s favorites.

Getting back to the hotel was easier than getting into the city, and least that trip. The bus was pretty full, and the guy sitting right next to me popped open a can of beer and proceeded to drink it like it was no big deal. Maybe it’s okay to drink alcohol on the bus? I don’t know. Soon enough we were back at the hotel and slumbering soundly.

Auto Bingo — NY Day 2

Last year when we went to Gatlinburg, I told you that we have a few traditions when we travel, like journaling and vacation cake. Well, auto bingo is another!

Michael and I have been playing auto bingo on road trips for years. We inherited one of the cards that I grew up with, and then we bought more. We’re pretty competitive about it: you have to fill the entire card in order to win. Sometimes the girls play with us, but never for very long.

Today was another travel day. We had breakfast and checked out of the hotel in the morning. After a few shenanigans to let off energy, we were on our way.

We drove through New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. For the girls, it felt interminable. At one point, they got mad that we wouldn’t let them watch another movie yet so they staged a rebellion from the backseat. They hung up a blanket as a divider. It was short-lived.

After sitting in construction traffic a few times, we finally arrived in East Rutherford, NJ. The girls are quite impressed with our hotel, which includes a full kitchen in our room. We can see the skyline from our room.

Tomorrow we’ll go into the city. Stay tuned!

Florys on the Go — NY Day 1

We’re on vacation again???

That’s right. Emma belongs to a dance team that earned a spot in a major dance competition in NY in a few days. So summer vacation this year is somewhere I never thought we would go: New York City.

Today we drove north through Ohio, up into Michigan, and over into Ontario, Canada. We knew we wanted to see Niagara Falls, which is nowhere near NYC, and we wanted to come at it through Canada so the girls could add another country to their list.

It took six and a half hours, but we made it to Niagara, NY with plenty of daylight to burn. We walked from our hotel to the Niagara Falls State Park, and then over into an area called Goat Island. There were no goats, but lots of water.

We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, mostly because it was right next to our hotel. After dinner, the girls swam for a bit while I supervised and Michael napped.

As night fell, we left the hotel again to walk across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada to see the Falls lit up. It was worth the extra walk.

Two Years

Today marks our two year home-iversary in Fort Wayne.

This is now the third-longest we have lived in any one dwelling in our 16 years of marriage — Belbrook in Tucson was three years, and Inverness in Frankfort was 5 years. It is also the third-longest we have lived in any state during our marriage, passing the 18 months we lived in Virginia.

It was definitely a better second year here in Fort Wayne than the first. Most of the adjustment and growing pains were over, so we got to just continue learning about and appreciating our new home.

Emma and Sofia were in the same school building this year, with classes ironically right next to each other. That was a blessing in so many ways. It was a single year of blessing, though, as Emma moves on to junior high in less than a month.

Michael and I grew in our work. Michael is in the middle of a promotion of sorts, and I’m extremely proud of him. He’ll be on what they are calling the Dean’s committee, which shows that they recognize his leadership qualities even after a year.

I’ve gained a ton of confidence in my work both at the college and at the hospital. I’ve also gained many new friends at the hospital, which I really hadn’t foreseen a year ago. Working there continues to be a blessing in my life.

Do we ever still miss Kentucky? Of course. We miss our house, our friends, our church, and Frankfort in general. We had a great life there. But we are maki g a great life here as well.

I asked the girls if it feels like it has been two years since we moved here. Emma said no, and Sofia said she guessed. I know they each have different reasons for their answers, and I appreciate that. But I also know they feel at home here, which is what matters.

Three years since India

I have a love-hate relationship with the Memories feature on Facebook.

Some days, it gives me memories I cherish. Other days it reminds me of things I would as soon forget. Like today. Today Facebook reminded me that we were leaving India three years ago. I said it was an amazing adventure but I was ready to go home. Today, that post stands as a painful memory.

For those of you who didn’t know me or my family three years ago, we were in the middle of training to be missionaries. Michael and I felt very strongly that God was leading us to a life abroad working for Him. We had signed on with a sensing agency that was doing its best to place us and train us. That was why we were in India for 17 days, for training with other missionaries.

Less than a year later, everything had fallen apart. Michael’s company has reneged on their offer to keep him on part time after we moved abroad. We’d been to where it was suggested we move, and we could tell it wasn’t going to work out. We’d sold our beloved house and felt homeless. Emotionally, we felt lost.

See why I don’t cherish this memory?

All this time later, it still hurts. I still have questions that will never be answered. I have hypotheses, though.

I think God indeed called us. I think we did what we were supposed to do at the time. But I think what God was actually leading us to was Fort Wayne, not Europe. I think he called us to something big so that we would later say yes to something smaller. If four years ago God had told us to go to Fort Wayne instead of Europe, would we have said yes? Absolutely not. But the way things worked out, we were emotionally and physically ready for Fort Wayne when God opened that door. We had no reason to say no, so we didn’t.

And things have worked out well in Fort Wayne. I don’t regret being here. We have a good life. I’m involved in a ministry I never imagined. We are settled and content.

Tonight I’ll wear to work my colorful bus skirt that I bought in India. It will be my personal reminder for the night that sometimes Facebook reminds us of unpleasant memories that turned out okay in the end.