The big move!

We are thrilled to finally be home!  The house is everything we thought it'd be, but the neighborhood has been even better than we could've hoped.  We have felt like part of the family.We’re finally in the house!  After 8 months of watching this thing go up, it’s amazing to be walking the halls, sleeping in the bedrooms, etc.  Of all the things we knew to expect, the one thing we could not have anticipated is the way we were welcomed to the street.  In 3 weeks of living here, we’ve met more of our neighbors and felt more a part of the neighborhood than we did in 2 years of living out east.  There are plenty of challenges – our street is home to 8-10 abandoned properties (depending on how you define ‘abandoned’) where it’s not uncommon to see boarded up doors/windows pried open.  We’ve affectionately nicknamed Carpenter St the home stretch of the ‘Binghampton 500’ because of the wild drivers who speed up and down the street – and yes, our street IS home to the neighborhood elementary school.  Luckily, due to lots of petitions and phone calls from neighborhood leaders and neighbors on our street, speedbumps are scheduled to be installed next month!

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Uncle Trey came to visit us the weekend after we moved in!  Trey Jackson, founder of Out of the Shed Designs is a really good friend of ours – we worked together when I first started traveling to Memphis for Booster 3 years ago.  Trey is one of the few people I’ve met who is able to study something for a time and completely master it.  His most recent mastery is in the carpentry/woodworking department.  A few months back, Elizabeth noticed a kitchen table on Trey’s Instagram feed – she showed me and asked “Did Trey make this?”  “There’s no way” I replied (what a great friend I am).  Turns out he did.  We asked if he’d be able to make one for us and he kindly obliged…and killed it.  Trey brought pieces up saturday afternoon and he and I put it together.  Finished product is above, and it looks even better in person than it looks in the picture.  If you want Trey to make a table for you, click the link to out of the shed above and get more information…plus a portion of each kitchen table sale goes to support our work in The Hamp here.BDC10yearparty

One of the highlights of our year was the BDC 10th year anniversary celebration in Howze Park (across the street from the house).  The BDC has been doing economic, social and spiritual development in Binghampton for 10 years now.  They’ve helped raise and reinvest $8 million back into the neighborhood aiming primarily at providing affordable, clean, well-made places to live.  In recent years, they’ve expanded to take on opportunities like my position as well as the Job Training Crew (who built our house) among many other people-oriented initiatives.  The night was full of food, a parade, great music by neighborhood musicians (shout out to Terence June Gray!) and capped off by a fireworks show.  There were around 500 people there at it’s peak, a great family night!

Update! MTRCamp and some new house pictures!

One of the kids' favorite characters in camp is the "FitNut"

The Fit Nut – a crowd favorite at camp.

We’re off and running with MTRCamp!  I previewed this in our last post, but MTRCamp is an academic enrichment camp being held at Cornerstone Prep and put on by The Memphis Teacher Residency.  23 college/high school staff from all over the country have moved into the neighborhood for the summer with the goal of helping students grow in their love for learning and generally just have an awesome last month of summer.  My role specifically is managing all aspects of the character education and entertainment (DJ’ing).

Students rotate through Math, Reading and Character classes each day - the goal is for students to grow one grade level in math and reading by the end of camp.

Students rotate through Math, Reading and Character classes each day – the goal is for students to grow one grade level in math and reading by the end of camp.

What has been incredible to watch at camp is the college and high school students (who had one week of training) teaching difficult concepts in a fun way.  This sounds like a simple thing to do, but it is incredible difficult to keep a room of 6 year olds engaged for 40 minutes of math…in the summer.  Not only are our students having fun, but they’re learning AND retaining a lot of information!  Our character material was adapted from curriculum called “Integrity Time.”  We’re not teaching “Christian lessons” each day, but we are teaching truths rooted in Biblical principles that we hope are catching on in our kiddos.  It has been fun talking with parents this week, hearing them rave about how much fun their kids are having as well as what they’re learning.

After lunch each day students rotate through 3 stations of recreation - today's cafeteria rotation was parachute!

After lunch each day students rotate through 3 stations of recreation – today’s cafeteria rotation was parachute!

Another awesome facet of the program is the rec time each afternoon developed by Cornerstone’s PE Teacher, Coach T.  It’s fitness-oriented, so every afternoon kids are getting 2 hours of exercise, but having lots of fun doing it.  They do everything from circuit training to basketball to Tae-Kwon-Do.  It’s great.

Flooring is done at the house, appliances set to be moved in soon and we will be moving in next Friday!

Flooring is done at the house, appliances set to be moved in soon and we will be moving in next Friday!

Here’s a picture of the finished flooring in the kitchen of the house! We could not be more excited about the move.  The house has seemingly “all of the sudden” come together.  More than anything else, I cannot speak highly enough of the craftsmanship of the house.  Chris and his crew have blown us away.

The crew has been killing it at the house - here's a shot from the kitchen when flooring was going in.

The crew has been killing it at the house – here’s a shot from the kitchen when flooring was going in.

The house is 9 days away from being done!

The house is 9 days away from being done!