Discovering New York City at Christmastime with our Boys!

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I wanted to post this before it became absolutely irrelevant (you could argue that it's irrelevant now), but I wanted to share my NYC pictures from our family Christmas trip! So many of the things that we did are still on display until mid-January, so if you get the chance to visit NYC between now and then, DO IT! Our 8-day trip was 3 weeks ago, and since then a LOT has happened. I don't know how, but the holidays seem to absolutely devour the time. I am always astounded at how fast these few precious weeks pass by in December, but goodness gracious, they do. However, this trip was honestly magical. Maybe I just have rose-colored glasses when it comes to my favorite city (Stevie says I do), but being able to share my favorite place with my favorite people at the best time of year was just the most ecstatic thing for me.

Stevie's been working incessantly the past few months, and he's been in NYC almost every week. When he mentioned that he was going to work in NYC right before Christmas, my heart almost burst. Forget that, I decided to load up my billions of pounds of baby gear and take the boys up there with him! I made an insanely long list of Christmas-y things to do with the boys everyday, and I'm happy to say that we did most of those things! I wanted to share them in case you want to save this post for when you either visit with your kids, visit during the winter, or visit at Christmastime!

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1. Grand Central Station Holiday Train Show!
My pictures of this one are terrible because it was crazy crowded and there was bad lighting. But the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Station was AMAZING, especially for little boys who adore trains. Basically they built a train track that goes through a miniature NYC and the train choo choos through the set up and it's just really really cool. Go to there.

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Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before ( here  and  here  and a little bit  here ), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's  shared this photo on Instagram , which just made the proudest parent.

Okay, this isn't Christmas-specific, but I've got to talk a little bit about the pizza at Juliana's. I've  talked about this famous pizza joint many times before (here and here and a little bit here), but I can't get over how amazing it is. Even Daxton knew that what he was eating was extra special. And Juliana's shared this photo on Instagram, which just made the proudest parent.

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2. Christmas Tree Crawl.
Every big building, store and apartment complex goes all out and decorates an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby. It's so fun to walk through the different buildings and get inspiration for your own Christmas tree. Or just gawk. They're beautiful. My absolute favorite this season was at The American Museum of Natural History - it was a tree entirely made of origami animals!

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3. The Tree at Rockefeller Center.
The tree at the Rockefeller Center is an American icon, which is why it gets its own bullet point here. It's insanely busy and crowded and I'll admit that I was kind of on a vigilant mom watch for terrorists while we visited this tree, but it is so beautiful. I'm so impressed with how many lights they manage to get all the way to the top. (Is it just me, or do the lights on your own Christmas tree seem to taper off up at the top?) Also, if you have older kids, you can take them down to the plaza below and go ice skating! I've never done it because this area makes me kind of claustrophobic, but if crowds this dense don't make your neck hot, you should totally give it a try!

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4. See the Christmas Displays on 5th Avenue.
The window displays in the big department stores along 5th Avenue are always spectacular. This year, Saks 5th Avenue did a series display showcasing elaborate scenes from the movie Snow White! It was completely gorgeous and so creative. But all the big stores do extra special displays - Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co. were also some of my favorites this year :)

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5. Visit Santa everywhere!
I made free appointment to meet Santa downtown at Macy's in their Santaland! It was a great experience and the boys' pictures are hilarious. Although, they were supposed to email me some digital copies and I have yet to receive them soooo.... I need to follow up! But Santa is ubiquitous across the city and there is an opportunity in every major section of the city. We also met the Santa at the Plaza (informally - we were just there to grab pizza in the basement) and he was super charming. However I've heard the best Santa is at ABC Carpet downtown. So I still have something for next year's bucket list!

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I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

I have a similar picture like this with Everett when he was a baby. And he was in my bathrobe with his little head peeking out just like this one!

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The origami Christmas tree I was talking about! It's so impressive.

The boys stayed so warm in their  JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets . I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

The boys stayed so warm in their JJ Cole Bundleme stroller blankets. I seriously wanted to climb in with them, they were so sunggly even when the weather was scary.

6. Central Park in the SNOW!
This parkkkkkkk. You guys it's perfect in every season of the year - it's absolutely magic. MAGIC! Even in the freezing temperatures, this park is glorious, and when it's snow-covered, it makes me cry. It's so beautiful and dreamy to waltz, I mean walk through.

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of  Seamless  meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this  foldable travel high chair  like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

I had to throw this photo in the mix because we did a lot of Seamless meal delivery to our hotel room and this little guy ate in this foldable travel high chair like a champ! I was so proud of how easily my little men adapted on this trip ;)

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

We spent a lot of time at the park. He's a man after my own park heart.

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These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

These two. Couldn't love them any more. Anthony and Jess, I miss living on the same block as you guys!!! And sitting on the floor of your living room week in and week out, eating your snacks and talking about Jesus. And getting escorted around the city by you, receiving an education in NYC foodie culture. You're just the very best.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

We ate at Old Rose, located in the Jane Hotel downtown. Made us feel like trendy folk, for the bit of time we were there and child-free.

Note  The Plaza Hotel  in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

Note The Plaza Hotel in the background (the white building with the green roof) - it's such a beauty!

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7. Visit the Holiday Markets!
There are these splendid holiday markets that set up all over the city around Christmastime. The big ones are at Columbus Circle and Bryant Park and they have hundreds of vendors selling everything you've ever heard of (plus a lot of things you've never heard of). It's the perfect place to shop for gifts that no one else will have!

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

We stopped by the Columbus Circle market a lot because it's at the corner of the park. Plus there was a spot where I could charge my phone and eat lots of snacks. This was the day when we discovered the Nutella churros - EPIC.

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Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

Can't tell you how many people asked if they were twins.

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Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

Our old block!! I miss the Upper West Side. So much.

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9. See a Christmas show at The Swedish Marionette Theater!
I walked the boys up through the park one day and we saw the Christmas puppet show at the Marionette Theater. It was the sweetest, most fun thing and I will always treasure that memory with my two sweethearts. Truly. If you have littles, make sure to check the schedule and catch a show! It's so special!

Things that are still on my NYC Christmas Bucket List:
- See the Rockettes Radio City Spectacular! I saw so many people in line for the show while we were in town because Radio City was right around the corner from our hotel, so I was having major jealousy. But I don't think my two wiggle worms would have been able to sit through that show. Next time!
- Ice Skate! There are so many outdoor rinks that look magical! Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park have ice skating and I would love to do this sometime in the future!
- Seeing The Nutcracker performed by The American Ballet Company at The Lincoln Center. It's my dream dream dream to see this show - I wish Stevie would just get on board! He's not a fan of ballet.
- Seeing Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim Museum - it's supposed to be an awesome show for kids but still a bit too mature for my boys' ages. But just gives me another reason to bring them back!


There you have it! Let me know if you have bucket list must-haves that I should add to this list! Christmas in NYC is so remarkable and MUST be experienced., if you like city sparkle. I hope this is helpful! xx

Things To Do In New York City With A Baby.

Those wild grasses of New York City.

Those wild grasses of New York City.

I know I sound like a broken record, but guys, we had SO MUCH FUN on our family trip to New York last week!

It was a work trip for him, and a play trip for me, so I was the one spending most of the time shuffling around the city with my darling, almost 1-year old son. And even though I have lived in NYC before, and visited a million bajillion times, there is always something new to be discovered in this fetching, enticing, frantic city. And exploring it with my kiddo? Well, this opportunity was no exception. My eyes were opened to a whole new slew of opportunities and places to be discovered with a baby/toddler in tow. I wanted to share a few of my finds for all you adventuring mamas (and papas!) who want to tote their babes along while exploring the big city.

That happy boy.

That happy boy.

Making friends.

Making friends.

We packed a few balls to pull out and be played with at a moment's notice.

We packed a few balls to pull out and be played with at a moment's notice.

Babies love fountains. They just LOVE THEM.

Babies love fountains. They just LOVE THEM.

Everett roamed with daddy in his stroller, he crawled around Books of Wonder (don't judge, the kid REALLY needed to get out of his seat and it was an obvious play area for babies), and there he is on the subway, where he actually threw his ball in that woman's face. I practically melted into a puddle of sweat on the floor, I was so embarrassed.

Everett roamed with daddy in his stroller, he crawled around Books of Wonder (don't judge, the kid REALLY needed to get out of his seat and it was an obvious play area for babies), and there he is on the subway, where he actually threw his ball in that woman's face. I practically melted into a puddle of sweat on the floor, I was so embarrassed.

These two little dreamers.

These two little dreamers.

Baby and Kid-Friendly places in NYC:

Washington Square Park- For the gorgeous fountains, epic live music, and frolicking in the grasses. We might have eaten some stray dandelions, too.

Books of Wonder - Best bookstore ever! He was free to crawl on the carpet and play play play to his heart's content. This is a very special book store, and reminds you of the Shop Around the Corner from You've Got Mail. So sweet.

Picnic in Central Park - Because when you have an adventurous kiddo, picnics are the new way to lunch. We did this on several occasions, grabbing meals from Whole Foods and Shake Shack and enjoying them in the park. There are so many open field areas to lounge on the grass, too. It was a great place to pull out all the balls that Stevie made me pack for Everett, and we rolled them back and forth to each other. That child is getting pretty good at playing ball. It's really cute, but its even funnier how proud Stevie gets when Everett rolls the ball towards him. Oh boys.

FAO Schwartz - Talk about making a kid dream. My baby's eyes practically popped out of his head at all the wondrous toys, displays, animals, and joyful atmosphere. You don't have to be a big kid to enjoy - this place is even for babies! Heck, even for adults, we really love it there, too! I always want to over shop and Stevie is always like, "We can find it on Amazon later", and of course, we never do. Because this place is special and the toys in it are just rare, rare finds.

Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place in Battery City Park - Such an awesome place for a baby, because there are TONS of places to eat and you can sit inside or outside and stare at the ocean, the boats, Lady Liberty and Jersey City. Needless to say, my child was pretty quiet while we were all eating, because he had so much to look at and take in. Score.

Raining? It's no problem. There are so many places that you can stroll around with your baby that are so enjoyable and entertaining:

Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle - It's like a really nice mall. With really nice restaurants and bathrooms and coffee and pastries. These are mom necessities, right? Also, while you're there, make sure to check out Landmarc, which is known in the city for being an upscale, kid-friendly joint. Everett ate my entire grilled cheese there. Along with his own lunch.

The MoMa - This is New York's Museum of Modern Art and it is amazing. Luckily, it was located right around the corner from our hotel. I headed that way, then the rain stopped, so we didn't actually visit this time around. But any of the museums are really great for kids, including The Children's Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Met!

Have something to add to this list? We seems to find ourselves there at least 1-2 times a year and I would love to know of some more kid-friendly places! Because, you know, I plan on bringing this little one with me everywhere :) If you have more to share, please do! I'm sure other mamas would want to know, too!

Traveling With a Baby.

Traveling With a Baby.

Two weeks ago we took our almost 4-month-old baby to New York City for 5 days. We are new parents, so we weren't sure all the best ways to travel with him. I asked a lot of questions to those who had done it before, and I've compiled all the info that worked best for us. This entire post is about how to avoid excessive hassle (and germs!) while traveling with a baby.

For the Airport:

Check, check, check. 

It's a new era in your life, if you're traveling with children. The old habit of carrying everything on in order to avoid baggage fees just isn't feasible anymore. Make your life easier and just check everything you won't need for the plane ride. Seriously, this will save you so much hassle. I carried on my diaper bag, stocked specifically for the plane ride, and nothing else. And I mean, my baby, but then nothing else.

Check your stroller with your other luggage. 

I know some people recommend gate-checking the stroller (if you choose to travel with one), but I don't really see the reason to bring it all the way through the airport. It's just more stuff to lug. We purchased a travel bag for our stroller (which provides insurance in case the airline damages it during our travels), so we went ahead and packed it and checked it along with everything else. It was wonderful. And thankfully, the bag completely protected the stroller and there was zero damage to it during the entire trip. Money well-spent, in my opinion.

Wear your baby through the airport.

I wore my almost-4-month old in the Ergo Baby Carrier through the airport, and it was the best. It kept him calm and warm, and most of all, away from strangers. I am a bit wary of germs (I hate when people you don't know come up and touch your baby's hands and face. Like, what are they THINKING?! I don't know where their grimy hands have been! And then of course my child immediately puts his hands in his mouth... ugh so gross.)

Note:

You don't have to take the baby out of the carrier when you go through security, but sometimes they will still make you take your shoes off. I would recommend wearing something you can easily slip in and out of, like Keds.

We scored three seats on the plane. Everett didn't complain once.

For the Plane:

Ask for a Better Seat Rearrangement.

You never know until you ask, that's what I've learned from my husband. In our case, on both flights, the gate agents moved us so that we could have a row of three seats for the three of us, even though we only paid for two seats! I sat by the window, Stevie sat on the aisle, and we had more room to spread out a blanket on the seat between us with some toys and stuffed animals. We found that our little man loved stretching out on the middle seat & kicking up a storm (obviously, our hands were on him the whole time, making sure he didn't roll - incidentally, this is where I also decided to discreetly make some diaper changes, as well. More room!) Once you reach your gate, you can ask the gate agent if there is anything they can do to upgrade or rearrange your seat assignments so that you can be more comfy.  We found that Delta was extremely accommodating to our family - thank you!

Wait to Board.

Most airlines allow people flying with infants to board the plane first, so that you can settle in and avoid the crowds. However, why would you want to sit on that plane for 45 minutes while everyone else boards? It's just extra time in a tiny, cramped space. No thank you! My baby is a mover, and loathes sitting still, so I knew that wouldn't be a good option for us. Since we didn't carry anything on, we didn't need to board first to make sure our luggage would fit. So we waited until the final boarding call to make our way on the plane, and then 5 minutes later we were taking off.

Note:

If you are traveling with a partner who has some carry-on luggage, have them go ahead and board at the regular time so they can get their bag on board. But hold out and wait to board with that baby until the very last minute! You will be reeeeeeeally glad about this choice.

Feed during Takeoff/Landing.

Nurse the baby or give them a bottle during the takeoff/landing portions of the flight. Their little ears are really sensitive to all the altitude changes, so the constant swallowing helps ease that discomfort. A pacifier also works beautifully, if your child will take one.

Dressing the Part.

Dress your baby in a long-sleeved onesie, if you can. It makes for easy diaper changes, keeps them warm on the flight, and allows for a simple wardrobe swap in the case that things get messy. Make sure you have all kinds of back up onesies - I think I brought on three changes of clothes! Of course, when you're actually that prepared, you never need all of those. I also made sure to keep him in a hat, socks and shoes, and a coat, just because it was November and we were heading to NYC. Didn't want him to get too cold en route!

Stock that Bag:

Along with the many extra changes of clothes, I made sure to have my diaper bag wondrously stocked. I packed my nursing cover, a few muslin blankets, a burp cloth, a zillion diapers and wipes, pacifiers, diaper rash cream, hand sanitizer and a few comforting teethers/toys (Everett is really loving the Jellycat collection :)

My baby and his baby, Oscar.

For the Hotel:

Find A Killer Location.

It was really important to us to stay in a centrally located hotel while we were in NYC. I didn't want to stay in Times Square, because I was concerned about trying to get the baby to go to sleep amidst the lights and noise (also, who wants to stay in Times Square?) However, staying in midtown, just south of Central Park, was pretty perfect.

The Warwick New York Hotel was extremely accommodating to all our baby needs, and made our first trip as a family of three extremely comfortable. It was also a super-cool boutique-y vintage-y spot with a glamorous history, so it made us feel hip (even though we're really not.) Yes, it was a super busy area, but the location made it really easy to go back to the hotel throughout the day if we needed to do a major clothing change or an impromptu nap. In years past, Stevie and I would have stayed somewhere far less posh and further away to save a few bucks, but in this new age of babies, it's worth paying a little bit more to stay centrally. That way, when you do have to head back to the hotel for the baby's 2-hour nap, at least you can still look out your window and enjoy the city a bit.

Sleeping Situation.

You can opt for a suite if you're concerned about the baby waking you up at all hours of the night. We didn't want to shell out the extra cash for a suite, but in hindsight, it probably would have made a big difference in terms of (at least Stevie!) getting better sleep, especially since this was a work trip for him. But if you are going to sleep in the same room as your baby, make sure you pack their sleep essentials. We made sure to bring Everett's white noise machine, his sleep sack and a few extra blankets to drape around the crib, just so that he didn't get distracted by the TV, etc.

Note the blankets draped around the sides. He slept like a baby.

Reserve a Crib.

Make sure to contact your hotel ahead of time and vibe them out about the baby gear. Most hotels have cribs that you can reserve in advanced, but not all hotel cribs are created equal. Some are old and rickety and not up to code. Make sure you really check out the crib when you get to the hotel, check for cracks in the wood and loose screws. I brought our own crib sheet from home, so that Everett would at least smell the comfy "home smell" in a foreign crib.

Snacks & Drinks.

Buy a big pack of bottled waters and leave them in the room. Then you can grab one to go each time you head out. This way you can stay hydrated and cut down on out and about costs. The same goes for healthy snacks. Eating out while traveling can really deplete your energy and make you feel sluggish, especially when you know you aren't making the best healthy choices. I stopped by the Fresh Market before our trip and stocked up on Kind Bars, energizing trail mix and whole grain crackers. When we arrived in NYC I found a deli and stopped by each day to purchase a fresh-cut container of organic fruit. That way I was snacking really healthy and eating lighter, cleaner meals. It made those Magnolia Bakery treats just that - a treat. Not a necessity for fuel.

We are in a honeymoon stage with our stroller. WE LOVE IT.

For Getting Out & About:

Carrier.

I really love babywearing. Not only was this completely essential for the airport, this was definitely the most seamless way to go places with the baby when I was by myself. I just strapped him in the Ergobaby Carrier and away we went! But keep in mind, with all that walking, you will probably get tired easily. Wear supportive shoes, especially if you will be walking the entire time.

Stroller.

We brought our big mamma-jamma stroller, in addition to the baby carrier, and I am so glad we did. Walking around for hours and hours can get a little bit tolling on your back, even though the Ergo is incredibly supportive. For a city like New York, where walking is my favorite mode of transport, it was really helpful to have my stroller and load it down with the essentials. I could strap Everett in (all bundled up in his JJ Cole Bundleme), hang my diaper bag on the hooks and have plenty of room in the basket underneath for whatever else I wanted to bring along. At one point, I was carrying shopping bags, a few gifts to bring to friends, his Ergobaby carrier (just in case), my coat, a picnic lunch, my SLR camera and a book (ha, as if I was going to read on this trip) all in the stroller basket. It made going to the park really fun, because we had enough gear to get out and stay out for hours and hours. And like I said, we purchased our stroller's travel bag, which provides insurance in case anything is damaged while we travel. Which made it a no-brainer to have along with us.

Pace Yourself.

Plan less activities for your day. And make flexible plans. I wish I could say that having this baby hasn't slowed us down in the least. I wish I could say that we are still livin' la vida loca, that this baby can easily go along with our schedule, that nothing can alter the vigorous way we like to travel and explore. But I would be lying. Having this baby has slowed me down more than anyone else I know that has a baby. We do everything slower. We do fewer things. And those slow, few activities really wear us out, so then we have to nap a lot (when I say "we", I am mostly referring to me and Stevie. I have already established that my child would prefer to never sleep and always play.) Don't plan on leaving your hotel at 8 in the morning to sightsee, meet friends for lunch, shop in the afternoon and then meet more friends for dinner. Because you will spend the majority of your trip (like I did) apologizing by text to everyone you have to cancel on. I'm working on not being too hard on myself about it, this is just part of traveling with a baby. Be flexible. Pace your schedule.

Lessons Learned + What I Wish I had Known.

I wish I would have known about the post-travel crash. I realized that Everett & I could run on adrenaline throughout the trip, but coming home and getting back into a routine was kind of a nightmare. He experienced what some people call the 4-month sleep regression, but it was even more than that. He stopped taking a bottle for a few days. He was mega fussy. He had some whack diapers. He was literally up every hour of ever night for 7 days straight. And it was super un-fun. It's taken a full 10 days to get back into a normal sleep routine, which has helped with his eating and the fussiness. I wish I had better answers for why this happens and what to do about it, but nothing really helped us get through it, other than time. It just took time, attempting to get back to normal. Best thing you can do? Pray. Pray and sleep the very best and most you can. Especially during the daytime, when your baby goes down for a nap. There is tons of info out there about how to cope with baby jet lag, but nothing worked for us. Nothing but prayer and sleep.

Seems like a lot of stuff, huh? It is. But we had such a blast on this trip. I feel much better prepared for the next time we travel. The bottom line is that having this baby is the greatest gift I've ever received, so if he slows me down for a few years, so be it. Traveling with him was an absolute wonder and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Happy holiday travels to all of you this week!

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?

I really have tried to resist over-sharing baby pictures. Yet somehow I have turned into that monsterous baby-crazed lady, snapping 100+ photos a day of my child laying, playing, sleeping, screaming. I love them all. ALL. And yet I do feel sort of coo-coo for being that way. How did this happen? TO ME. I kind of can't believe it. I was never even a baby person. Not until Everett.

And oh my, Everett. He is full of personality. Has the strongest will. He is so funny and expressive. He gets bored way too easily. He doesn't just cry, he knows how to WAIL. He wants China to hear him. He really doesn't do anything half-heartedly. He is 100% present in all his feelings. And he has a lot of feelings. Like just now. He is feeling super annoyed that I put him down in his pack n' play to write this post. He's all like, "Lady, you think this mobile is entertaining? WHO DO YOU THINK I AM." And now he's crying. Translated from baby talk, that means he's hollering at me. Confession: I always hated it when other people's children would cry. It just sounded so irritating and distracting. And like, loud. However, when my baby cries, I just feel super bad for him. I find myself asking him over and over again, "What do you need? What can I do for you?!" - as if he will open his mouth and respond. Well, I guess he does respond. We just aren't speaking the same language quite yet. Although... we are getting there!

So I had to share a few of these wonderfully sweet photos of my babe-man from the past month. He cracks me up. It's okay if he doesn't crack you up, that's understandable. But you can humor me. BECAUSE I MADE HIM.

I'M BORED MOM.

// He likes to keep a little extra in his neck roll. For later. //

// I mean... seriously? Middle left?! BOTTOM RIGHT!! My uterus just skipped like 6 beats. //

In other news, we are heading back to NYC for a quick trip in a few weeks. Any tips on how to fly with a baby, get around a big city with a baby in tow, and any special products to pack would be suuuuper appreciated! I'll admit that I am a little nervous to fly with him because he just isn't the kind of child who will sit quietly in the corner. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER. (Sorry, couldn't leave that one unsaid.) But seriously, he is not a docile, sleep-everywhere-all-the-time kind of kid. So... yeah. Help please.

Are you ready for Halloween? I am trying so hard to convince Stevie to do a family-themed costume for the 3 of us. So far he is putting up all kinds of "NO" to my ideas. But we will see if that lasts :)