Thursday, December 18, 2008

Too busy to blog

It has been a while since we've posted, but I don't feel like we have too much to update. Our lives are quite repetitive, but extremely busy these days...

5:15 am - Jon's up preparing for school, showering
5:55 am - I wake up to make breakfast and pack lunches
6:20 am - we're out the door - Jonathan goes to the subway, I go to the gym
8:30 am - I leave for work
7:30 pm - we usually are home by now
8:00 pm - dinner
8:30 pm - snuggle up on the couch, Jonathan finishes schoolwork (this teacher thing is an all-the-time job)
10:00pm - bedtime (long day...)
5:15 am - wake up and start all over again

We did enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving in Columbus, OH with the Curtis family. Our holiday included bowling, swimming, a visit to Kirtland, dance recitals, late night board games (we're hopeless...I should say I'm hopeless at Settler's of Catan), a good Thanksgiving dinner, a session at the Columbus Temple, volleyball, and family that we love! Pictures to come!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our New Happy Valley

We've been on a quest. Finding an Indian restaurant in New York City is about as easy as finding a Yankee fan--they are everywhere. Over the past couple of months, we have hit several of them, building up our palates before each visit, only to be sincerely disappointed (and in one case, utterly disgusted (Tip: if a waiter makes any sort of bodily noise as you walk through the door, immediately turn around--most likely they will serve up minute rice with a California Medley Blend of vegetables--really--never, ever, ever eat at Bengal Cafe--they pull you in with their cheaper prices, but trust us: it is not worth it)). It seemed that each visit was worse than the one before.

Tonight, our taste buds were more giddy than a bunch of BYU students at a ward slip-and-slide.

We found the real happy valley: Indus Valley. Two weeks ago, an SUV slammed through their outdoor seating area, but they used their curry power to rebuild the corner and continue business. And business is booming, attracting some of the local notables--like us!

When you come to visit us, and if you like good Indian food, I promise we will go here. Absolutely incredible...we strongly recommend:
  • Kashmiri Roganjosh: "Tender pieces of Lamb cubes simmered in an exotic sauce of Green and Black Cardamoms, Kashmiri Chillies, Cloves, Cinnamon leaves, Mace, Coriander, Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Yogurt and Fennel."
  • Malai Kofta: "Dumplings made with an array of vegetables and Cottage Cheese and cooked with a delicate gravy made with fresh Tomato puree, Onions, garlic, Red Chili Powder, Coriander, Ginger, Turmeric, Cloves and Cinnamon."
  • Vegetable Biryani: "Biryani is an Exotic preparation of marinated meat or vegetables mixed with the Basmati Rice ans slow cooked in a closed thick bottomed utensil. This method of cooking is popularly known as “Dum” cooking by which all the flavors, nutrients and aromas are retained. Lavish use of spices, herbs & saffron makes this a very delicious Rice preparation."
  • Mango Lassi: "Delicious King of the fruit-Alphonso or Kesar Mango Pulp churned with homemade Yogurt."
  • Nan/Garlic Nan

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

South Street Seaport

Not last weekend, but the weekend before Jonathan and I finally went to visit a part of the city we had really been wanting to see: South Street Seaport (try saying that one 10 times fast...it's a tongue twister). The Seaport is one of New York's many historic areas featuring some of the oldest architecture on the island - mostly restored early 19th century commercial buildings that are now home to renovated original mercantile buildings, renovated sailing ships, the former Fulton Fish Market, and nice shops and restaurants (Pizzeria Uno - a Bond family favorite from when lived in California) . We both found the Seaport reminiscent of Pier 39 in San Francisco - old buildings, smell of fish, dock overlooking the water, old buildings - with a New York twist.

South Street Seaport.
Pizzeria Uno - yum...it's really too bad NYC lists the calorie content for their restaurants. Now I know exactly how many calories I consumed in just one slice of pizza.
You know you're in New York when you see a water taxi that looks like this.
Aren't we adorable?
View of the Brooklyn Bridge.
What a handsome man.
Jonathan's favorite (he made me type that).
Jonathan snapped this right as we were leaving. I love the lines, angles colors and photographer. People often forget to look above eye level when capturing images through a lens. Not here.
Some of the typical buildings on Fulton Street, close to the Pier.
More bars in more places. AT&T should pay us for this one.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween

I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween. In fact, I really don't care for the holiday. I think my trick-or-treating experiences as a little girl are what ruined it for me. Scary things happened like guys jumping from their roof and running around the house spraying silly string at Marie and I, haunted houses, etc. I don't like scary movies or scary costumes even still to this day - they just scare me. Every year I dressed up I had to be something pretty like a bride, a princess, a witch (a pretty one), or a cheerleader. The closest I got to scary was Cruella DeVille, but even then I was semi-pretty.

Although I don't love Halloween, there are some traditions I like to keep up. One of my favorites is decorating sugar cookies. It has become even more fun with Jonathan - he has quite the imagination and never decorates the same cookie twice. Another tradition that we are doing tomorrow night for Family Home Evening is dinner in a pumpkin. It probably sounds a little strange, but it's another one of those things that just makes it feel like Halloween (in a happy, good sort of way).

My typical pumpkin decoration.

Barack Obama and John McCain.

Our lovely assortment of cookies. Can you tell which ones are Jonathan's?

Jack & Marie's Visit!

Every week Delta sends me an email listing cheap last-minute flights. Normally I don't even glance at these emails - I automatically hit delete and go on reading more important messages. When Jon and I were married he linked our email accounts together on his computer. He usually just glances at my inbox, but for some random reason he decided to open last week's message from Delta and discovered a $99 flight from Salt Lake City to NYC. We immediately passed the message on to our families and were able to persuade Jack (my uncle who is one year younger than me...he's more like a brother) and Marie (my little sister) to come for a quick 3 day visit!!

Here's a brief rundown of their visit: Saturday we wandered through Central Park, stopped by the Pumpkin Festival, hit all of the "touristy" spots, and ate at Patsy's (one of our favorite Italian Restaurants). On Sunday we went to church, strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge, and made crepes. Unfortunately Jonathan and I had to go to work on Monday, but Marie and Jack made the trek to Canal Street, Wall Street, and everywhere in between. I was honestly quite impressed with how well they navigated the city on their own! Monday evening we saw Phantom of the Opera (mine and Marie's favorite!) and ate Junior's Cheescake.

We had so much fun with Jack and Marie!! They were such a breath of fresh air and a blast to have as visitors! Lesson learned - check Delta's emails!!

Marie & Jack in Central Park. Jack is showing off his model shot, and Marie is giving us the peace sign.

Three amigos in Times Square.

Pumpkin Festival in Central Park!

Such a cute group. Three of my favorite people!

The Rockefeller Center. Jack loves to be funny, and we love being his laughing audience.

Jonathan's model shot. Love it.

Jonathan and I in Central Park.

The Brooklyn Bridge.

Brainwashed kids in NYC. I guess we're in Obama land.

Standing on the pier.

Beautiful city view from the bridge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Delicious

How lucky am I to have a husband that not only is an amazing man, but also a fabulous cook? Most of the time I cook or we cook together, but when it comes to anything Italian I let him do his thing. I stick to grating parmeseano reggiano, making a salad, setting the table, and plating the food (fail-proof tasks). Last night Jonathan made pumpkin tortellini with browned butter, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and pears with balsamic and parm. Simple yet incredibly delicious. My minor contribution was homemade peasant bread from the Favorites Ivory Family Cookbook (very yummy, highly recommended). This was one delicious meal, thanks to Jonathan!!

The lighting in my apartment isn't the greatest, but you get the idea:



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Playing Teacher at Parent-Teacher Conferences

I have become very good at faking it. Besides classroom management and basic content knowledge, much of teaching is learning to role play. By "role play" I mean acting in the way you think a teacher should act. This includes a gambit of gestures and phrases that I have harvested over the years by being a student. Such tricks include: pausing mid sentence to invoke a controlling silence, pinching the skin between your eyes and sighing to demonstrate disappointment/frustration, and counting out loud to expedite readiness ("Don't count, Eunice, I hate it when you count!"). The more time I spend in the classroom, the more expert I become in these teacher tricks.

But this week I was faced with the big beast, which sucked out all of the authentic teacherness I could generate: Parent-Teacher conferences. Let's face it, high school kids are easily manipulated. Right now, many of them think that I am an albino Jewish male from the Dominican Republic who speaks passable Spanish and knows Usher. Only one of those things is true, of course, my friendship with hip-hop star Usher (though you could make a case for me the albino thing). Parents, however, are more discerning their their students, so convincing them that I was a real-life, know-what-I'm-doing, I--have-appliqué-sweatshirts-that-celebrate-my-authentic-teacherness-complete-with-felt-apples-and-funny-buttons teacher would be difficult to do.

So I put up science posters in the room, placed a bag of mini snickers in a petri dish, and wore a professorial blazer (minus the elbow patches). A slow, but steady stream of single moms and older siblings came into the classroom, and my attention began to change from my own feelings of inexperience, to a more complete view of my students and their lives.

I have always known that my students had it rough--that is mostly why I applied to Teach For America--but it didn't really come together until I sat down with some of my students' parents. Parents struggle to raise good kids no matter where they are, but in the Bronx it is even tougher. Gang members aren't some invisible group of black sheep--they are everyday students in your classroom. They want protection from empty troubled homes, and loneliness. Violence is not a video game warning--it is evidence worn on puffy faces as marks of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Many of my students are failing, but most of them are coming to class, and even if all they get is a little refuge from the outside by half-listening to some white guy talk about cell division, than something good is happening.

But, really, something much greater is happening. In talking to students and their parents, I realized that all of them are trying to make it. Parents want their children to do well and to behave, and most students don't want to disapoint, but something gets lost-they become distracted or discouraged. Most parents are struggling to make it on their own--they were mostly single moms working multiple jobs and raising teenagers who are only half their age. Multiple times I found myself saying, "These parents are so unlike my parents!" But they ARE like my parents. They love their children and are doing everything they know how to make a tough life a little more livable.

I want so much for their children to make it--to really make it, not just to pass my class. It is so challenging to try to be a fragment of positive inertia for developing students, and yet so sweet to try! They need positive, yet honest encouragement. And that, you can't fake. I'm learning to do that, and I am learning to love it.

Don't you just love New York in the fall?

"You've Got Mail" is one of my favorite movies of all time. We live in the heart of the Upper West Side, where the movie takes place, and every time I watch the movie now I feel like I'm living the life of Kathleen Kelly (minus the love story via email, owning a children's bookstore, etc). Take a stroll around our neighborhood and you'll see Cafe Lalo, Riverside Park, Central Park, Broadway, and all of the scenes from the movie. I love it.

One of my newest favorite lines is, "Don't you just love New York in the fall?" With fall creeping in I can truly say I do love New York in the fall, and I couldn't agree more! The city is filled with crisp air, beautiful trees, and all things fall. Not to mention, it's also the time to switch out the wardrobe and pull out sweaters, boots, scarves, gloves, and hats. It might be my imagination, but I feel like people are happier in the fall, especially on the subway. I no longer find people shoving me out of the way to get on the air conditioned train and get out of the nasty heat underground. Now the warmth is welcomed, and the battle to be the first one on the train is less intense.

For the past few Saturdays Jonathan and I spent the majority of our day in Central Park soaking up the lovely fall weather and watching the leaves begin to change. We are beginning to understand why people spend so much time here...it's New York's backyard, an escape from the craziness of city life. We are truly embracing that idea after weeks filled with late nights at work, running around, and always being on the go. Here are a few shots from our visit to the park a couple weeks ago. Enjoy!








Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm spoiled

Jonathan spoils me! He promised he would replace our camera, but he didn't say he would go above and beyond to get a camera I really, really wanted. I was so excited to come home from work today and find a couple boxes on our front door. Guess what I found inside? A Canon Rebel xsi!!! YAY! I wonder what we'll be doing this weekend...

Monday, October 6, 2008

September rolled, October gold

I can understand why New Yorkers wouldn’t mind having a perpetual fall season here—somehow the crisp, autumn air is a perfect match for the bustling city. Whether walking from the subway to school in the Bronx, running through Central Park, or stepping out for a night on Broadway, autumn not only brought sweaters out of the closets, but a hominess that imbeds thick layers of memories each moment. The green is blotching into scarlet and amber patches, and stretched shadows are accompanied by a tired, golden haze. Autumn in New York is the sweet, yet somber finale before a dreary silence.


But, change comes, and change stirs the heart. As Jamie and I have started our respective jobs, we have found the change is heavily blanketed by challenges. This month, Jamie moved from working with the sales team for Redken, to being placed with the Global Marketing team for Redken. She delivered a flawless presentation that caused the entire executive board at L’Oreal to stand agape for ten, stunning minutes. Jamie has become the poster child for L’ Oreal, and, while juggling work responsibilities, has been part of their recruiting team at NYU. I think they make her wear a shirt that says, “More than a pretty face…I make beauty fashionable” OK, maybe it doesn’t say that exactly, but it could. Besides working on the ever-posh 5th Avenue, Jamie is also an avid church-goer (Mormon), yoga-doer, and smile-bearer. She is constantly helping someone out—mostly me.

Me. Well, I am a teacher in the Bronx. Last month I told you a little bit about my first impressions as a teacher, and why I think there is good evidence as to why they live 30 years shorter than the average person. The past month has been full of trials and triumphs. As part of my school’s curriculum, I was responsible for taking 15 ninth graders for a 3-day backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail. None of these kids had been in the woods, and I wouldn’t have minded if they never would have returned. It was rough from the get go—all day long I was the receptacle for high-pitched whining and circular complaints. The first night was full of me getting up and telling people not to urinate on other people’s tents and to retrieve another student’s socks from a high tree branch. The second day was full of the same groans and complaints. I was beginning to catch on that actually liking the camping experience was not cool, and hence I was very not cool by trying to help the kids enjoy it. I am OK, not being cool, but not being followed, is no bueno.

The second night, something magical happened, not long after dinner. We had just finished cleaning up a batch of dirty rice and beans (with real dirt), and putting the food in bear bags, when a large, ravenous deer bounded into camp. The students, who had never seen a cute, brown-eyed doe before became hysterical, screaming bloody murder. Several were in tears calling for mommy. After some time, I was able to tell them that deer eat grass and are about as harmless as caterpillars (this analogy failed because the students are likewise terrified of caterpillars).


Camp became quiet, and then the best thing that has ever happened to me while at Bronx Lab appeared: a large Black Bear trampled through the brush 20 feet from camp. The Bambi screams of ten minutes previous returned to their unhealthy Decibels, and the bear, initially stunned by the warm greeting froze, and then sauntered back around. The students were in tears, begging to go home. And me, the uncool, white teacher, was grinning from ear to ear. Not to sound blasphemous, but I had a God-like experience where I came to understand a bit why he likes to see us humbled. And these kids were humbled and obedient….for about 10 minutes.
From the trip, the students came united in their feeling of how uncool I am, and the uber traumatic event of seeing deer and a berry-eating bear within 20 minutes of each other.


Hence, I have latched on to this anti-coolness appeal, and have become the chess coach at my school: a science teacher, chess coach, scrawny white kids from the West…it doesn’t get much uncooler than that, and that is what makes me a great teacher. As one of my ninth grade advisory students put it today, “Mistah, do I have to like you? I hope not, ‘cause I don’t!” For a moment I was stunned, just like that black bear. And then I smiled at this rare compliment. Quickly, I turned away and began pumping my fist in a celebration of my uncoolness.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We Lost our Camera

I intended to update our blog several times in the last little while, but never ended up following through because I was waiting to upload pictures from my camera onto my computer. Sadly my procrastination just got the best of me. Those pictures will never make it to our blog...our camera is lost. For good. I think.

Random, but just in case you wanted to know: in high school I loved photography. My love hasn't changed, I'm just no longer equipped with the amazing camera that I used to have. I used my mother's lovely Canon Rebel SLR (not digital), developed my own film, and processed pictures in the dark room. So fun! Surprisingly a couple of my photographs even made it to the Springville Art Show (bet you never knew!). Since high school, however, I now have (had I guess you could say) a smaller point-and-shoot digital camera that was perfect for our needs. It's hard to lug around a big camera - especially when you're in the city trying to minimize all of the things you carry around anyway. The smaller and ligther the better.

Anyway, back to my story. Jonathan went backpacking last week with his 9th grade advisory class on the Appalachian Trail. He spent 3 entire days with 15-year-old kids who had never been outside of the city (most rarely even leave their ten-block neighborhood radius). Hopefully he will update our blog with his stories. They are really funny! I wouldn't do them justice. On his bus ride home he switched seats and forgot to grab the camera. Unfortunately he didn't know that he even left the camera on the seat until he was back at the school and the buses had left. One week later we're still waiting on our friends at the bus terminal to let us know if they have retrieved our camera. No news yet, but we're still hoping.

Gone are the pictures that fully document my dear husband is now 26. Included were your typical birthday photos: opening presents, blowing out candles, and eating cake. Also gone are the pictures he took on his crazy "mountain" adventure with kids from the Bronx. All gone. Maybe my mom will send my favorite camera of hers! Now all I need is a dark room, some chemicals, and photo paper...hm.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ceviche is Delicious

Just as I was getting ready to make dinner on Tuesday night Stanton called and asked, "What are you doing tonight?" Before I could respond he quickly said, "You and Jon are coming over for dinner. Rubi's making ceviche." I had no idea what ceviche was, but boy oh boy can I tell you it was amazing!! Who knew that mayonaise, seafood salad, ketchup, and avacado would go so well on top of a tostada? We devoured it! To top off the night we also had incredible key lime muffins (Rubi is quite the cook), two fun rounds of UNO, and yummy coconut popsicles provided by Zack and Linda. We love having these friends close to us in the city! And thanks to Rubi we haven't lost all contact with real, authentic, scrumptious Mexican food.

First Day at School

It's tradition, right? My mom made me pose for a picture every year on the first day of school, so I had to do the same thing for Jonathan (poor guy). I'll let him give an update on how his first week went...I just had to post the picture!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The US Open

Jonathan's oldest brother Tom was in Connecticut last week for business meetings and was kind enough to make the trek into the city and stay for a short visit. Can I just tell you how fun it is to see family and friends in a place where you don't see too many familiar faces...so fun!

Among the plethora of gifts Tom brought with him were tickets to the US Open!! Getting those tickets, however, proved to be quite an adventure. After searching online through Stub Hub and Ticketmaster on Friday night, we finally found a nice man named Dave on Craig's List who was selling 3 tickets for a much better deal. Thrilled to beat the inflated prices of the online venues, arrangements were made to meet Dave 15 minutes before the matches started the next morning.

The morning was filled with excitement as we ate "New York's best bagels ever" from Absolute Bagels and made our excursion towards the US Open, arriving in ample to meet Dave. We wandered around the outside gates getting even more excited to get in and watch some world class tennis. As the clocked ticked closer to 11, though, Dave had not responded to phone calls or texts. People around us must have seen our distraught faces because they kept coming by asking if we wanted tickets. Within a few minutes we found a cheery old man selling 3 tickets at face value that his country club gave him (the benefits of belonging to a country club I suppose...). We texted Dave, "we found cheaper tickets...sorry you were late" and anxiously made our way inside (beneifts of being punctual)!


Once inside we saw Sam Querry, Andy Murray, Jurgen Melzer, Amelie Mauresom, Lindsay Davenport, and women's and men's doubles and singles by other amazing players. At a few of the field court matches we sat on the very front row and even rubbed shoulders with a few of the players after their matches (we didn't get too close, though...they were pretty sweaty). Even our seats for the more popular players were incredible! There's really something about watching tennis pros in real life. Thanks to Tom we had a wonderful time!!!

Sam Querry vs Ivo Karlovic

Andy Murray vs Jurgen Melzer

Stilts and tennis anyone?

Jonathan Curtis and fans after he beat Andy Roddick!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Apartment

So we wanted to give you a virtual tour of our apartment - hopefully to entice you to come visit. As you will see the space is a little small, but our arms are wide open for visitors!


video video video video video video video video video

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Greenwich Village


In a recent conversation, Jamie and I decided that if we were going to continue to invite our friends and family to New York, and if they were to continue to accept our invitations, we had better become more familiar with what the city has to offer. So we determined that we would try to explore a different neighborhood each weekend, or as often as we can given our loaded schedules. Last week I was taking classes at New York University in Greenwich Village (often shortened to "the Village") and was taken by the spattering of boutiques and eclectic restaurants pigeonholed in old row-houses on tree-lined streets. Wandering through these alleys, I knew Jamie would take a liking to the place and so we decided to make this our first neighborhood tour. Greenwich puts the hip in hip-hop, it may not contain the the Prime Meridian, but sure is prime. The Village....well you get the point: Greenwich is uber-trendy among those who are concerned with what is uber-trendy.

Greenwich Village has a rich history situated in the South West side of Manhattan. It is called the village because it was away from the city...now the two places run together, connected by rich, young professionals and liberal students. I won't dwell on the history, but suffice it to say that George Washington, Edgar Allen Poe, and Woody Allen all helped make the Village what it is today: an amoral, avant-garde patchwork stitched by threads of daring drama and lifestyles, all on a Revolutionary background of Georgian, red-brock houses and lush, green parks.






Here are some things of interst we discovered in
Greenwich Village:

The Village is a very happy place. There are many happy people in the Village. Happy people like rainbows.


Falafel is very good and very cheap
Did I mention that falafel is cheap?


I have potential as a street-baller.



It looks like Jamie's "leaning".