Friends Category

Stories of those who intersect our lives.

How to NOT irritate New Yorkers!

I’ve been in New York for 3 months now. I am not what anyone would call “adjusted” yet. I am learning new things every day and with each new day comes some stupid mistake I made that made it perfectly obvious that “I ain’t from ’round these parts”. Please, no one read this as me telling everyone reading that I fit in as a New Yorker with all of my 60 days of experience! ha But I can tell you there are some golden rules here that are fairly obvious if you spend more than a week on these streets. So scan these over before your next trip to the Big Apple and see if you don’t get yelled at less!


  1. Download Citymapper

There is nothing more frustrating than rushing to get somewhere, finally making it out of the train station only to be stopped by someone blocking the exit while they figure out where they need to go next!

We all know the subway system can be frustrating and daunting! I believe I told you about the time that I took Jozzy to Brooklyn and got on the wrong train! I know many people that visit here and they are trying to have a go at navigating by using google maps or something ridiculous! Trust me, you’ll be looking to visit the Statue of Liberty and end up in Washington Heights or somewhere.

The City Mapper app makes New York so much easier! Download it as soon as you book your flight for a visit! It has absolutely saved me. I would never feel confident about taking the girls out on my own without it.


I’ve created  a route for you on the app so you can see how it works:

city mapper app


When you first pull up the app, tap on the “Get Me Somewhere” button. (If you input your hotel as “home”, it will speed up the process when you’re out)

Type in the location of where you want to go. If you know the address or corner, that’s the best, but if the spot is well known, it will be able to pull it up. I used the Statue of Liberty as our make believe destination for this trip!



city mapper ap


Once, you’ve chosen the destination, it will take you to this screen. The top shows you your options for how to get there and how long each option will take. Then the “suggested” section gives you the most popular routes. So this page suggests you take the “1” train and it will take you approximately 50 minutes to get there. I know what you are thinking… “hold up! doesn’t the Uber icon up there say 15 minutes? That’s what I’m doing!” And you may want to choose that, but if you click on that Uber icon, it will show you the prices for Uber pool or sole rider. For this ride, it was between $21-$29. A subway ride is $2.75, so for all of you trying to do New York on the cheap…keep all those cab and uber rides in mind.

Note that option 2 is significantly shorter on the “2” train, but you will have to transfer to a bus, meaning you will have to exit the station, purchase another fair for the bus and wait for it to arrive. If you have a family, I’d opt for just getting on the train and jumping off when you get there.

city mapper app

Let’s say we chose option 1 on the “1” train. Click on that and it brings up this page.

It will tell you what direction to walk (and if you click on the “walk” it will show a gps tracker with directions to make sure you’re walking the right direction), what corner the station is on and WHAT DIRECTION TRAIN TO TAKE. This is what got me in trouble in Brooklyn. I got on the right train but the wrong direction! It will even tell you what section to get on so you are closest to your exit.

It tells you how many stops you will have before leaving and even which exit to take, so you can cross the street as few times as possible.

This app has been amazing and it will keep you from lining the sidewalks, staring at the sun, trying to figure out which way is which and where Broadway intersects and such.



2) Don’t hog the pole on the train!

I learned this when a friend of mine looked at me and chuckled as I casually and coolly walked onto the train and draped my arm around the pole so I could check my phone before I lost signal. He said, ” you’ll learn not to hog the pole.” I didn’t know this was a thing… oh it’s a thing. You’ll see people give the stank eye if they walk on and you are leaning on, wrapped around or monopolizing the pole. It doesn’t even have to be that crowded. Common courtesy is to leave room for multiple people around the pole. Of course, Jozlyn thinks the pole is there simply for her dancing skills ( if you remember the end of the Coney Crazy video… it happens all the time!)

So when you step on the train, if you can’t find a seat and end up standing with the pole…unless it is just super empty, try to be conscious of how much space you take up around the pole.


3) Don’t walk slowly in the middle of the sidewalk.


This is similar to the problem we talked about with the subway and some of this may be resolved with CityMapper, but sometimes, walking in the city all day is just tough! I get it… I pretty much fall into bed after lugging my two littles around all day. Keep in mind, New Yorkers are always going somewhere, and it’s not that they are usually late, it’s just that they are contending with schedules and unknowns constantly. They know that the train they need comes in two minutes and they are exactly two minutes from the station. If you need to rest or need to slow the pace a bit… DO IT! Just make sure that you’re not taking up the main sidewalk or you will probably get trampled. Walk along the building and take your time.





4) Don’t take up the whole escalator.

So you know how there is that unwritten rule about the escalator or moving sidewalk in the airport… or the highway that all the bad drivers ignore?? Ya know, the one that says the left lane is for passing? Well, New Yorkers honor this fairly religiously on the escalator.

If you are holding onto the handrail with your left hand, you will get pushed to the right side by some executive who can’t be late or something. Notice…everyone moving is on the left, everyone planted is on the right.


5) Don’t stand in the middle of the corner on the sidewalk.

New Yorkers tend to have a sixth sense about when it is safe to cross an intersection, right? I still find myself peering a good distance down the road to see how fast I can sprint with my youngest in her stroller and my oldest on a scooter, but everyone else seems pretty nonchalant about this gift. I know when I first got here, I pretty much would wait until I saw the little white guy on the sign lit up that meant I could walk. The problem was I was standing on the sidewalk on the corner. That’s where I’m supposed to be right?? Well, not really. You see, if you have a “stop” signal, that means the people headed toward your corner from the other angle have a walk signal, and if you are standing right on the corner, then you are about to get trampled. Ideally, if you can, stay right up on the curb, or, if you’re not in a hurry, stay behind their path to cross the sidewalk, so they can pass quickly and you can avoid any major collisions.


There are so many things…little things, but basically, be aware. Be considerate of what’s happening around you. Life moves very fast here. If it’s too fast for you, that’s fine, just be considerate of those who are trying to live their lives normally amidst your vacation.

This place loves tourists. It depends on tourists. But New Yorkers live here every day and these little “helps” will keep you from getting trampled or cursed at. 🙂

Love you guys!


the Grizzards




A day in Dumbo, Brooklyn

A day in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Well, fall is officially here! Which means, we are in full coat, hat, and gloves full time now. I had a scare for a minute because I could not remember if I had a winter coat at all. Everyone around me kept telling me that it was freezing outside, so I scoured my closet and all of our remaining boxes to find something warm. I could’ve sworn I bought one last year, but could not find one. BUT we promised the girls this day in Brooklyn with friends, so I layered up, threw on my warmest leather bomber and headed out the door with the family.

We hopped on the F train to Dumbo for our fun afternoon! The girls were so excited! We were going to meet our friends, Laura Beth and Blake with their three kids (including their brand new baby girl that I was dying to hold) and as an added bonus, Laura Beth’s parents were going to be there. I understand that sentence may sound strange that I would be excited to see my friend’s parents at our playdate…let me explain… Laura Beth’s parents, “Miss Cathy and Mr. Jeff” have known me since the day I was born. It was a blessing to get to see them again. They are, by far, some of the kindest people on Earth and have been an encouragement to my whole family for 30 years…so yes… excited.

We have a few rituals on the train to keep the girls occupied on our commutes. One of them is Rock, Paper, Scissors and Jozlyn is the absolute Champ! Basically, undefeated. A gentleman on the train saw us playing and asked if he could see if he could beat her.

When I say, that this girl is outgoing… I ain’t playing! ha… and she won.

Once we got out, we walked along the East River until we saw the Carousel pop up over the trees. The kids went crazy!


Hi, Miss Cathy!!!

We took several trips on the Carousel and then headed to a nearby playground to let some kids get the last of their energy out. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, and I made it through the day just fine…sans winter coat….which I found hanging in my closet when I got home. Ha.

I think it’s fair to say we tuckered them out just fine. 

Next time you’re in New York, don’t overlook a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to this beautiful park. I recently wrote about my first trek and it is not to be missed! It’s one of the best views of the city you’ll find. Thanks for checking in!


the Grizzards




Last day at the Beach!

Last day at the Beach!

Summer was quickly coming to a close and Jozlyn would not stop asking for another day at the beach. The funny thing is that I grew up in a home that was no longer than 15 minutes from a beautiful Florida beach… and I think I made my way to the sand a total of 6 times in 10 years. My little girl, however, is completely enamored with the sight of the waves and the feeling of sand between her toes. So we made plans to go with our good friends just before school started.

I guess she had fun 😉



the tide was ridiculously strong!

So blessed to have sweet friends that love on my kids and are a god send to me! Thanks for checking in!



the Grizzards



Finding Bethesda in Central Park

Finding Bethesda in Central Park

Confession: I have been to Central Park A LOT.  It is basically my fall back when I haven’t planned anything to do with my kids that day. They are always happy when we spend time there, but never moreso than when we meet some FRIENDS!


Today, we met my old friend, Jeff. Shout out to Jeff who has been such a source of encouragement and comfort in this transition! We went to college together and both majored in theater. It has been so good to have him here to reminisce and talk shop with. He watches a little boy here in the city right by our apartment, so we decided to meet up at the playground next to my place.


This playground literally is 1 block into the park and I am embarrassed to say that it is the farthest I have ventured into one of the most famous and beautiful parks in the world! ENTER JEFF! After playing on the swings for a bit, Jeff led us north through a path that took us through beautiful tree lined walk ways. On either side were painters, musicians, and sculptures… all of which my daughters were enamored with (almost as much as mom was). We saw volleyball courts, baseball fields and street performers before we came to this beautiful fountain, The Bethesda. We walked down the stairway that led to this elaborately painted tunnel. It looked like it was inspired by some lovely Morrocan works. It had beautiful arches and even better acoustics.


There was a “performer” standing against the wall, elevated on a ledge. I use the quotation simply because I’m not sure she was performing as much as posing and “presenting herself”?? She was wearing a 1920’s inspired garment and kept stroking her knee and smiling at people as they passed by… that makes her sound like a different kind of performer, which she was not. I just couldn’t figure out what she was doing! But she seemed very content to be doing it…whatever it was.

Once we made our way through the tunnel, we were enveloped in sunlight again. It seemed like an orchestra should’ve been playing the soundtrack to this part as Jozlyn drove her scooter into the sun and let out a gleeful squeel at the sight of the large sculpture in the middle of the large body of water!


I love that there are beautiful things to find at every turn and I love that fact that my girls seem so eager to find the adventure in everything that we do. The hard part is suppressing my laziness to give them the best chance to see as much of it as possible. I’ve heard it said, “you can make anything fun or anything miserable”. That’s my job… to help expose them to as much as I can and unleash the fun that is so accessible all around them.


Here are some of our shots from today! Thanks Jeff!



Thanks for checkin in!


the Grizzards


A New Park and New Friends

A New Park and New Friends

I feel like I could almost do a city-wide tour of the parks…or at least I will be able to in no more than a month at this pace. We checked out the Clinton Dewitt Playground over on 53rd and 11th today. It was more or less similar to others we had been to except that there was a mini-mountain that you know Jozlyn just HAD to conquer despite my mild heart attacks as I watched her climb all the way to the top. She kept saying ” Mom, I can do it! I’m using my imagination!” How am I supposed to keep her from doing that?

I met another sweet mom today, Brooke. Brooke is a friend of a good friend of mine from Dallas named Amy. Amy used to live up here with her two kids and was a source of encouragement as we were praying through the decision to move. Side note… Amy writes an amazing blog on discipleship! You really should check it out! You can find it here!) Brooke has lived here for 6 years I think, in 3 different areas with 2 kids. She was extremely helpful in “talking shop” about pros and cons to the neighborhoods in which she lived, school, what to do with the kids and church stuff. All of the areas we talked about were areas we are considering looking into; Washington Heights, Upper West, and Midtown, so her knowledge was invaluable.

Brooke, Finn and Ally


You may be interested to know that one thing she said that stuck out to me was that she was a huge advocate for raising kids in the city. For those that are nervous or concerned for us or have that instinct to purse your lips, tilt your head and shake it side to side upon hearing that we’re raising two kids in NYC (not judging…that’s my immediate reaction as well) just know, I have met so many amazing, Godly women who say it is an AWESOME place to raise kids… don’t worry, mom.

She has two adorable kids and Jozzy loved playing with her new friend! Here are some shots from our adventures today!




This playground is smack dab in the middle of Midtown…an area that I thought of as unattainable, not family friendly and really not an option… my options just flew WIDE OPEN again! ha. leave a comment and let me know where you think we should look!



the Grizzards



One of the best things about living in the city is that it is a hub for every body. We get people coming through all the time and it makes me so happy to see friends from everywhere. One of our sweet friends from Prestonwood came in town for work and called to meet up at a cool place she read about on another blog called mommypoppins. A blog I love to stalk as well.

She told us to meet her at a place called Cool Mess. It’s this adorable, almost “diner inspired” place. The food is good, but what is so great is that they let you make your own ice cream at the table.

Pick your base
pick your toppings
churn and chow!


So mad that we forgot to get a picture with Shelley and her family. It was so great being able to see them.

This spot is off of the Lexington and 59th St Station…which, by the way, has an escalator…. for all my stroller weilding mommas! It’s in a beautiful area.

Obviously, the kids approved of spot…

Jordan seemed to like it too….


In a time of crazy transition and uprooting of their “normal”… I love the moments when I can help make my kids faces look like this. We’re doing good guys. Thanks for checkin in!


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the Grizzards



A little while ago, I posted about the importance of choosing your friends. I know that there are people that will be in my life forever because they are the kind of people that I want to surround myself with. I learned how important this is from my parents.

My parents have been in ministry my entire life and some of those years were very hard. Those of you in ministry know that there are times when you can feel completely alone, betrayed, and judged. But in spite of those emotions, we have chosen to be vulnerable and real with people. It is not always easy…it’s actually most of the time very difficult. However, some people make it absolutely joyous! For my parents, it was the Neely’s and the Williams. These two couples were my parents “forever people”.

we look the exact same right?? ha

The Neely’s were a sweet family from my dad’s church in South Carolina. They were kind of like the cousins we didn’t see often but loved from afar. Well, times have changed! The Neely’s oldest daughter lives right up here in Brooklyn with her husband and two precious little ones! Isn’t God amazing like that?


Tonight Laura Beth’s little sister was in town, so we decided to have ourselves a little girl hang reunion on the Brooklyn Bridge!



If you make this trip, start out at New York City Hall…they just don’t make architecture like this anymore!

And then, grab some lunch and check out the park….

I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful this place is. I can’t believe I’ve been here so many times and never done this. I thought that when you walked the bridge (which did not sound like fun initially, but it was a girls night!) that you would be walking next to the cars under the cables and things… nope! You are elevated above the traffic so you always have a 360* view of the city. It is absolutely beautiful!

On top of the world.




After we made it across the bridge, which only took about 15 minutes, we made our way to dinner at Grimaldi’s. I feel like this place is kind of “touristy” even though there are chains of it in other cities… but I don’t care because
it is delicious and in a quaint, sophisticated little block directly under the bridge. Not to mention this building is a beautiful stark white that makes it stand out amongst all of the other architecture. I just couldn’t get over the windows, painted black from the inside….<sigh> love. When you come visit me, you should absolutely take the trek over here…skip Times Square and go to DUMBO.





And by the time you leave this NY staple, if you are like us, it will be pitch black because you will lose touch of time for all the great conversation you’re having. But it’s a good thing DUMBO has one of the best views of the city sky line in all of the city. And it is never more striking than when all the lights are lit up against a pitch black canvas.

Brooklyn Bridge
Manhattan Bridge









Just an incredible night with friends. Don’t miss this next time you’re in the city. And if you have kids, there is an adorable carousel here as well that they will LOVE!

Thanks for checking in! Don’t forget to subscribe to see new posts. Love ya’ll!


the Grizzards




Our trip to Houston with our “forever people”

Recently, it seems our life is consumed with seemingly sad things. I find it hard to make it through the day without counting down every “last”… the last night in our house, the last days at school, our last times leading worship with our team, the last birthday Jozzy will have in Texas, the last time I’ll drive my car my dad gave me in college. It feels impossible to keep my mind from wandering to the goodbyes I have to make to things that I love here. Of course, the hardest goodbyes are the people. It helps tremendously that we get to come back, but a sting of the finality of it all still lingers. The people are what make this move the hardest. We love the people in our lives.

Luckily, we know that so many of “our people” here are “forever people”. Now, I know we’ve all been through moves and said, “yeah but we’re gonna stay in touch. They’re going to be in my life forever” only to never share so much as a 5 minute FaceTime call again. Sad as it is, it is the reality we’ve all lived. However, sometimes God gives you “forever people”. They are a special blessing for sure.

This past weekend we got to see some of those people in our lives. Of course, one of those groups were my sister and her family, so that feels like cheating, but she is definitely a “forever people”, so she makes in the category regardless of blood loyalty!

We had not nearly as much time as we would’ve liked to have spent in Houston this weekend, but a quick trip would have to do. We spent one evening with my sister and her family including all four of her kids.. my nieces and only nephews (until baby boy Powell arrives!) were awesome as always! Its so cool to see them grow. Sis was preparing for two birthday parties this weekend as well, so we tried to be as non invasive as possible while basking in our late night conversations. My sister is going through quite the spiritual crucible right now, and man is it amazing to watch!

We had just enough time to grab lunch before we had to go. So, being the good christians we are, we were only allowed to go to one place. We loaded up the kids and headed to Chik-fil-a. Conversation was great and I had to say goodbye. I had my LAST meal with my sister while we were both Texans. We drove to Houston for the LAST time from Dallas. I made my LAST quick, fairly spontaneous, 4 hour trek to see them…. you see how pathetic I get?? Once, we gave hugs and said goodbye, it was time to get onto the next “last”.

We pulled into the driveway and Jozlyn barely got her seatbelt fully unbuckled

before jumping out of her seat to go ring the doorbell. The Hufty’s are “forever people”. They have been our solace for a few years now and this would be the LAST time we could just pop over to Houston to have our traditional game night.

When they lived in Dallas, we would put the girls to bed and play until 2 in the morning and then throw the kids back in the car and head home. Now, to “pop” over to see them requires suitcases, toothbrushes, ziplock baggies and my label maker (I label my kids outfits… am I the only one?). And that’s just to come to Houston! Now, in New York it requires plane tickets and the kids passports!


Sometimes it just HITS YOU…how much your life is going to change. How vastly different your whole world will look. How many “lasts” do I even have? We are getting seriously close to the day when we will hop on an elevator and open the door to a new home.

We are eternally grateful for all of the people here that have loved on us. And we are eternally grateful for our “forever people”.

the MET’s fashionistas!

the MET’s fashionistas!

I am loving seeing old friends here and meeting new ones, too. Today, we got to hang out with some very old friends. Laura Beth and I have known each other all my life. My dad pastored their church in South Carolina where I was born. Her family has always been one of the greatest encouragements to my dad during his ministry and now she lives in Brooklyn with her husband. They are church planters over there and she invited me to go to the Met with her! Her dad was even in town!

There was a fashion exhibit with elaborately designed dresses that we thought the girls may enjoy. Kendall seemed less interested in the dresses and more interested in touching everything she wasn’t supposed to so she remained confined to the stroller… only one meltdown… WIN.

we probably could’ve taken a train, but it was rainy and it just felt like a cab kind of day.
the kids first time at the MET.
they really were works of art… beautifully crafted.
Jozzy fit right in!
Mr. Jeff! It was so good to get to see him again.

Jozlyn with Laura Beth and her 2 kids, Jackson and Neely.


It ended with costumes that looked like they belonged in WICKED. People are so talented.

After the museum, we were planning on going to the park for playtime, but the weather was not working with us. We walked a few blocks to a NEW YORK STAPLE! haha. That’s right. I go to New York City and still Panera is one of my favorite lunch spots! I’m so classy.


We had so much fun hanging out with our new friends. Praise God for momma’s in the city who are a few years ahead of me in this thing.


Thanks for checkin on us, guys! Be sure to subscribe for more updates!

My friends are ridiculous!

My friends are ridiculous!

“Kayla, you need to be endearing.”

This is what I heard on a near daily basis from my mother growing up. I was one of those that prided myself on being “right” and not really caring if I was kind. So I had a tendency to be a self-righteous jerk very often. I have spent several conversations as an adult apologizing for that attribute to those that had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and, therefore, becoming the victims of my immaturity.  Because that’s what it is… absolute immaturity and selfishness.

I still have issues with this. Taming my tongue is a daily struggle, but I’m getting better. I find that the less I talk in general unless I’m prayed up, the better of a person I tend to be. It’s not even that what I’m thinking (and keeping myself from saying) is incredibly witty, or overly intelligent, but I find my mind very often wants to pounce on those moments when someone is incorrect and make sure they know that they are incorrect. I know! I’m horrible! How arrogant!!But you know what keeps you humble?

I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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