Thursday, July 17, 2014


A few weeks ago Jeff and I took a fabulous, amazing, exciting, delicious, child free trip to New York City. After multiple passes I have finally narrowed down my top 50 pictures. That's probably still too many for one blog post so this one will have to come in multiple installments.

This trip really began back in January, when Jeff gifted me a trip to NYC for my 30th birthday. Due to scheduling and weather restrictions, we finally took the trip 6 months later. Conveniently, the delay put the trip pretty close to our 10 year anniversary next month, so we had no shortage of things to celebrate. Our trip officially started when our good friends and traveling buddies, the Maynes, met us at the airport in Newark. We took the ferry from New Jersey to New York and caught our first sight of the New York skyline from the deck. It was a bit windy up there, as you can tell.

Jeff realized during our layover that he had forgotten his sunglasses. I convinced him to buy these sweet shades at an airport kiosk. Thanks to a few Facebook posts during our trip and some comments from the peanut gallery, he will never live down the florescent yellow sunglasses. I think they are awesome.

From the ferry we hauled our luggage over to the subway and rode to Grand Central Station. We started to head out towards our hotel, but I made everyone wait while I oogled over the amazing architecture and transit beauty of Grand Central.

I spent weeks prior to this trip planning every detail of our itinerary. I read tons of reviews and got lots of recommendations. For the most part, my meticulous planning paid off and we managed to fit a TON into a few days. Although we didn't check into our hotel until early evening, we still managed to have a fun filled evening at Bloomingdales (where they were having some sort of special event with random models, food samples, and live music), FAO Schwartz (a little Heart and Soul, anyone?), some pizza and pasta at Patsy's Pizza, Dylan's Candy Bar, and dessert at Serendipity.

The next morning we headed out to Times Square to pick up some rush tickets to Newsies. We showed up just as the box office opened, and after a short wait walked away with our $30 "obstructed view" tickets. From there we headed to breakfast at Sarabeth's, where despite the long line, we sat right down. Gotta love OpenTable and their easy reservation service! I can't remember what everyone else ordered, but I got the lemon ricotta pancakes and they were amazing.

After breakfast we went to the Rockefeller center to catch the views from the top. I loved the fabulous view of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock. We also had some killer Central Park views. We could see the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and just about everything in between.

My original plan had been to go spend the rest of the afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but I'd found out during my pre-trip research that the museum would be free that evening from 4-8. So instead we had a few hours to kill. We started to walk towards Central Park but were intercepted by a guy on a taxi bike. We bartered for a bit before taking him up on his offer. He and his buddy took us all around Central Park on their bikes, telling us about the history of the park and pointing out where countless movies had been filmed. They were a riot and we had a good time talking to them, especially once Jon revealed he spoke Russian (they were from Moldova).

The trade off for going to the MoMA during a free night was wading through the crowds. It took us forever to check our backpacks just to get into the museum! Once we were in, we went straight to the floor with artists names we recognized. None of us consider ourselves art connoisseurs, but it seemed wrong to pass up the opportunity to see original Monets and Van Goghs. Although I know nothing about art and cannot comprehend the time and talent it took to produce these masterpieces, it was still pretty amazing to see them in person and appreciate their beauty as much as our non-artist minds could.

I can't remember who did these dot paintings but they were incredible. On one of them, even the frame was painted! I can't imagine how someone could paint individual tiny dots and somehow produce a recognizable picture from a distance.

That night we went to our most highly anticipated restaurant: Don's Bogum, a Korean barbecue. None of us had ever eaten Korean barbecue before, so we had no idea what to do, but we ordered what had been recommended to us and watched as the waiter brought dozens of dishes with mysterious condiments and fired up a grill right in the middle of the table. He began grilling up meat there in front of us, and when it was done, we would take it right off the grill and eat it. Every bite was piping hot and OH SO GOOD. Our favorite was the short ribs, but every meat we had was pretty darn amazing. My only regret is it was over too soon, but at $75 a couple, we couldn't afford another round.

After dinner we made our way to Broadway to see Newsies. Our rush seats put us on the very edge of a row, so it was a little difficult to see things happening on the side of the stage closest to us, but for the most part we didn't mind where we sat at all. I was a little disappointed by some of the main characters, but the ensemble was extremely talented with several contestants from So You Think You Can Dance. Their stunts and dancing were the highlight of the show, for sure. I also enjoyed the places where the show strayed from the movie. It was nice to have a surprise here and there and a few new songs, too.

Thus ended our first full day in New York. Days 2 and 3 coming soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Schools out!

We finally made it to the end of the school year! I am never sure how I'm going to feel when school lets out, but this year I was as excited as I was as a kid. Our schedule during the school year is so jam packed that I was really looking forward to some slow, lazy days.

Logan started second grade with a gappy smile and sweet baby face. Looking at these pictures, I think he must have grown a foot! His teeth finally grew in (braces, anyone?) and although still sweet, his face definitely looks older to me. Logan mastered 3 digit arithmetic this year and is making great progress on his reading. He tends to read too fast and skips a lot of words, so we have been working as a family to read aloud so he can't get away with it. :)

3rd grade, here he comes!

Savannah was the only one NOT excited for summer. She was so sad when she got off the bus for the last time. She loves her teacher and her friends. Luckily we have a lot of fun things planned in the upcoming weeks, including a big birthday for this cute girl. This summer her goal is to read chapter books, and she already has her first one under her belt.

With a little coercion, I managed to weasel a little excitement out of her.

My big first grader.

Hooray for summertime!

Lost Valley Trail

After the success of our Devil's Den hike, we decided to try another hike that had been recommended to us. We were a little fuzzy on the specifics, but decided just to drive to the general area and figure it out when we got there. That's kind of how we roll. The kids were not as enthusiastic as we were after driving for an hour and a half.

We had originally thought we might go to a set of waterfalls that was just off the road. But after arriving at the visitor's center, we found out we were still 45 minutes away from those falls. The very helpful lady suggested we backtrack a mile or two and try the Lost Valley trail. When we got to the parking lot, it was pouring rain. We knew it would let up soon, so we hung out for a bit in the car until it had nearly stopped.

I don't know that we could have planned a better hiking experience if we'd tried. Sometimes being spontaneous pays off! We never saw another storm cloud that afternoon, and the temperatures were pretty much perfect. The rain ensured that all waterfalls were running, and the trail was stunning with bright green foliage everywhere. The kids LOVED it, as did I.

The trail has been really well maintained. Although dirt, the first half mile was so smooth we could have pushed a stroller. After that it was up and down, but anytime it got steep there were stairs to help us out.

Sawyer did great in the front pack. He is getting a little big for it, though. It is probably time to invest in a second hiking backpack.

Eden Falls. Such a beautiful and peaceful place. This waterfall originates from a cave that you can climb through to find an indoor waterfall, but we were not daring enough with all our little guys to try it out. Next time, for sure.

We thought we'd seen our share of waterfalls on this trail, but on the way back we took a little detour and found another one! This was probably my favorite of the day. It was small, but so pretty. It reminds me of something a landscaper would try to imitate.

After our hike, we drove to a viewing point to try and see some elk. We caught a quick glimpse of one right as we drove up, but after 20 minutes decided to give up and head home. We'd been on the road maybe five minutes when we drove right past an entire herd! Jeff pulled over and I hopped out to get some pictures. There were probably 20 or so elk grazing 15-20 feet from the side of the road. So neat!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pack meeting

Logan had his first pack meeting last week. This whole scouting thing is pretty new to both of us, but I have vague memories of attending pack meetings as a kid. Logan has a great den leader, Sister Dragovich. She is organized and extremely helpful when it comes to helping new moms like me get on their feet!

Logan earned his Bobcat, a preliminary step to any other ranks. Now he can start working on his Wolf requirements. I had forgotten that moms get an award, too. I guess it's only appropriate since moms earn most merit badges along with their sons! I was flattered to be pinned by such a cute boy.

The boys did a short skit about Indians. I didn't really catch the plot, but it was something involving getting the audience to say, "Oh what a goose I am!"

We finished off the evening with water balloon games. Logan was very sweet and let Savannah be his partner for the water balloon toss.

This has nothing to do with the pack meeting but how gorgeous was the lighting that evening? I'm loving these later sunsets.