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

The fastest weekend in Mobile, Alabama!

We spent the quickest, most refreshing weekend in Mobile, Alabama! My bff Natalie and her husband Darin operate a Chick-fil-A there (if you live in Mobile, go see them! 3244 Dauphin Street!), and I really wanted to visit and see her life there. We have grown up together and remained close since we were 12 years old. She's one of my oldest friends and the dearest kind of soul - she listens so well and keeps an incredibly open mind about things, which is something that is a rare treasure in a friend. She always gives a balanced opinion and sound advice, and has been a steadfast friend through the ups and downs that the years have brought. Over the past year, I think I had more surprise Amazon deliveries from her than I ordered for my own family - because she knows that gifts are my love language. What a thoughtful, generous, loyal gem of friend she is. And I'm not an idiot; if you have a friend this good, you hold onto her for dear life! I am grateful grateful grateful for her sweet self.

Everett fell head over heels for Miss Natalie when he was a baby. He always looked at her with these big puppy eyes and would actually stop crying when she was near him (which is more than I can say about myself - oh, the years of crying Everett...) So he was super amped to visit her. He loved her cats.

We had grand plans to explore Mobile over the course of the weekend, perhaps even trekking over to the blessed town of Fairhope (a southern treasure, and most certainly worth the drive if you ever get the chance!), but it ended up pouring rain the whole weekend. Which you know what? Was kind of wonderful. Her home is on the water and is the kind of place that has that dreamy, lived-in, warm southern charm. A brick archway, woven rugs, distressed furniture and carefully chosen antiques - her home should be photographed! It's truly a wonder. I loved curling up on her soft couch and clutching my coffee cup and listening to the rain fall while catching up on everything going on in her heart. Our husbands wrangled my children (and a few cats) while they played ping pong and talked dude things.

I am usually a hard-core traveler, eager to see (and eat) as much as possible that is local and charming. But this was a different trip, a time to revel in the goodness of a well-worn friendship and feel at home with the heart of my dear girl.

I will say that when the sun came out for a few hours, we had the chance to wander through the famed Charles Phillips Antiques, a local dealer that imports his goods from all over Europe. It was mesmerizing, being taken back in time and surrounded by thousands of flourished french doors and heavy steamer trunks, cases of glass bottles and stacks of letters from World War II. Every item is steeped in history, emanating stories from a past age. It was rather intimate, rifling through someone else's jewelry boxes, torn recipes, tool bins and office supplies. I was overwhelmed by the experience, and found myself tearing up as we walked to our car to leave. I couldn't even buy anything, I didn't know how to choose. It's definitely the kind of place that you want to visit if you're furnishing a house. But bring a trailer on the back of your car, this stuff is amazing.

I'm feeling more and more like myself everyday. My postpartum experience this time around has really challenged me, and I am grateful that people like Natalie have been patient with me as I've come back to myself. Spending such a rich time with this girl who is truly family to me made my heart happy. It's a rare thing, to have a friend this good. If you're reading this and one of your dear girlfriends comes to mind today, send her a text or a quick letter in the mail! Who doesn't love hearing from their dear old friend, just for the heck of it? Lots of love to all of you today, friends! xox

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Unfortunately my romper is sold out and my kimono is past season, but I linked to a few similar styles :)


Weekend in Ellijay, Georgia.

We spent Memorial Day weekend on an unexpected trip! I got a wonderfully welcome phone call on Friday evening at 5pm from a dear friend, Dana, letting me know that her mountain cabin was available for the weekend, and she invited us to take advantage of it for the holiday! Best call ever. Stevie and I eagerly packed up Everett and a car load of groceries and headed a few hours north of Atlanta for a weekend in the foothills of the Cohutta Wilderness. And I have to say, it was the best thing we could have done with our weekend. We needed a little family getaway together, to regroup and reflect on the year so far. It's been a busy and surprising one for us, so it was nice to slow down, drink it the gorgeous mountain views and spend time together.

Ellijay is a cozy mountain town with quaint shops and country eats surrounded by apple-laden farms. We enjoyed barbecue at Bigun's BBQ (get the pork plate and the mac and cheese!), fried muscadine and peach pies at Panorama Orchards (I should have doubled my order because WOW), pizza at Bunk's on the Boardwalk (where we ate outside and Everett learned how to play corn hole), and we hiked up to Amicalola Falls, which I will share about in a separate post.

These few pictures are so dear to me, because the moments are far and few between these days that my busy son will actually slow down long enough to snuggle with me. Yeah, maybe I had to play an Elmo game on my phone with him to keep him interested in lounging with me, but I still got to kiss his sweet hair and hold him tight in my arms for more than a few seconds and it felt SO GOOD. This little boy is just my sweetheart. I'm so lucky to be his mom.

Also, the Elmo phase lives on in this house. It's happening in a big way over here :)

One of my favorite parts about the weekend were the lazy mornings we spent on the porch, overlooking the southern swells of the Appalachians. Stevie and I rocked in the chairs, sipped on English Breakfast tea and watched the sun bend around the skyline, which had a quick way of warming the day for us. Everett jumped, hopped, threw sticks and was the picture of boyhood, bored to death with our morning routine and begging to "go outside" (which we technically were) or go in "the white car" (which is his favorite). We finally gave in when the humidity arrived, and got on with the day. But those almost-silent moments one the porch are still sealed in my memory.

We found this crazy perfect wall in downtown Ellijay. It was so intricately patterned with patina and aged layers of paint that it was almost too perfect (if there is such a thing), but we had fun frolicking around because we were on a pizza high. Or maybe it was the mountain air.

There are zero pictures of us as a family from the weekend because either me or Stevie were taking the pictures, and we didn't ask another person to take a group pic for us (what were we thinking?) But oh well. That's just real life, right? I look forward to the day when my little man is big enough to snap a photo for me. Oh the wonder that will be. But Ellijay, goodness, thank you for sharing your mountain top of peace with us - we could have stayed much much longer :) And thank you to Dirk and Dana for sharing your marvelous abode with us! We loved it!

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was wonderful, spent with your loves, remembering those who have served our country and celebrating the start to summer. It's going to be a good one, friends.

Happening Lately.

Happening Lately.

After a month of almost non-stop travel, we are finally back home! My little family has experienced a lot of adventures since the end of April, and we have had SO MUCH FUN, but we are seriously ready to get back to normal. Babies thrive on routines. Heck, I thrive on a routine. It's back to grocery lists and scheduled naps and, oh yeah, this thing happened while we were gone - SUMMER!!!

I am still in the process of compiling all the photos from our trips to St. Simons Island and Rome (I found a few more Madrid photos and added them to the previous post, in case you're interested in seeing a few more) and I will have those up for you over the next week or so. One trip that I have almost zero photos from is the one from this past week - I was in Florida with my husband's family, where we basically go back in time and pretend that technology doesn't exist. Which was fitting because, this year, none of our technology worked anyway! The service on the beach that we love seemed to be worse than ever, so it wasn't hard to forget about owning a phone or computer. We just relaxed by the ocean and watched our babies eat sand while we ate grapes and sandwiches. I actually read a book. Well, part of a book. Okay, I read two chapters of a book and it was spectacular. I forgot how desperately much I love to read. It's been a long year of very little reading, but now that my baby is getting older, I feel like some of those pastimes will make a comeback in my world. Fingers crossed. Anyway, all that to say that I actually have very few pictures of the family beach trip (except for the few snippets above), because I needed to take a break and check out from my usual over-photographing, and that is quite alright. I got the memories!

I hope you all have some wonderful summer plans on the horizon. Since we stacked all our summer travel at the beginning of the season, come July and August I will probably be itching for another trip! But that's okay. I will just live vicariously through all of your vacation photos :) In the mean time, I hope you have a marvelous Monday and soak in some of this warmth!

6 Tips for Road Tripping With a Baby

Tips for Road Tripping With a Baby.

We took a family road trip this week down to St. Simons Island, Georgia. Stevie has a work conference, so Everett and I decided to tag along and enjoy a mini vacation somewhere that we've never been before. We are never ones to turn down a new adventure, especially when there is a beach involved. I'll post more about the trip next week, but I did want to go ahead and share a few things that have worked for road tripping with this little guy. He's only 9 months old, but he is developing into a lovely road trip companion. I'm sure there will come a day where he just won't tolerate sitting in his car seat for so long, but right now, we are able to convince him to ride along with us as we hit some drive-able destinations. I'm not saying he is perfect during the entire trip, but we have found some helpful hacks for coercing him to be a pleasant ride-along car buddy. In light of summertime and everyone's upcoming travels, I thought I would share what has worked for us.

1. Leave at the Crack of Dawn.

I learned this one the hard way. I left at 10am for a 7-hour road trip, and my little babe was awake for most of it. Which meant he was bored, which meant he was LOUD, which meant everyone in the car was exercising their patience. For the next road trip, I decided to leave at 5am, in hopes that he would sleep for a good portion of the trip. And that is indeed what happened. Hallelujah. Here's how the 7-hour trip broke down: I woke up at 4:30am and got myself dressed and ready. The car was already packed the night before. I gently woke him up, changed his diaper, kept him in his pjs and placed him in his car seat. I did all of this in the dark. I was on the road at 5am, and he slept for the first three hours of the drive. At 8am we stopped at a Starbucks, fed Everett in the parking lot, then grabbed a coffee and breakfast sandwich to go. He fell back asleep until about 10:30am or so, and I started handing him toys in the back. One by one. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Pack Toys. A Lot of Toys.

Pack more than you could ever imagine you would need. An obnoxious amount. Once the novelty of riding along in the car gets old, those toys are your lifeline. I purchased this set of toys specifically for roadtripping and it has proven to be a worthy investment. The other thing is, everything can be a toy! A plastic water bottle, toilet paper rolls, Styrofoam cup, plastic sunglasses, you name it! I've started passing the strangest things back there to him, and it amuses him for a bit. My kiddo is a curious soul. Why wouldn't he want to stare soulfully into my hat? Sure.

Gotta stop to feed and change. But these stops are actually kinda fun! LOOK AT MY BABYYYY.

3. Pack Travel Food.

I make Everett's baby food for whenever we eat at home (which is most of the time), but when we travel it's a different story. I admire those ladies who lug around their canisters of homemade blended baby purees - but I just cannot do it. I've tried and it's just too much mess to pack up and take home, to then clean up again later. No thanks. Not for me. I stock up on easy travel food when we hit the road, and Everett LOVES it. I think he feels like it's a special treat :) Our favorites are these by Earth's Bestthese by Happy Baby and these by Plum Organics. He is also really loving his appetizers by Happy Baby :) (I've been reading that French parenting book that recommends feeding children in courses, so Everett gets fancy these days with his appetizers).

4. Pack More Clothes/Diapers/Wipes Than You Think You Will Need.

Some weird things have happened on our road trips. Some weird, weird things. Blowouts, showering urine, gassyness that leads to... solidness. I'll leave it at that. But I always pack Everett THREE changes of clothes when we go anywhere. Three. Yes. Three.

5. Budget Extra Travel Time.

The days of blazing down the road, NO STOPS, is over. Man, me and Stevie used to tear up some mileage on road trips. I reminisced about my favorite all-time road trip with him the other day, when we used to drive from before the sun was up until late in the night. Those days. Are over. In the new era, with a baby and gear and breastfeeding breaks and diaper change breaks and YOU NAME IT breaks, we stop often. There's just no way around it. So budgeting extra travel time is a must, especially if you're super type-A and you like to "race" your Googlemaps estimate. Not like my husband does that or anything. Needless to say, we've had to make some expectation adjustments.

Sleeping baby. Makes for a very happy mommy.

6. Enjoy it!

This is so important. I'm continuously learning about how much life has changed with Everett's arrival in my world, and everything is truly, infinitely better with him. It is. Everything is also really truly different. Vacations look different, my idea of rest looks different, and certainly the way I roadtrip is so so different. But he is also so much fun, and I find myself staring at him wondering what I was doing with my life before he came along. Like, why did I wait so long to have him?? Well, actually, I know the answer to that. But still! My baby is the best. So grateful that I can take him along for journeys and adventures!

And bonus tip - Coldplay does wonders for putting a baby to sleep in the car. THAT CHRIS MARTIN. Okay, there it is, folks. All my road trip tricks in a nutshell. For all of you planning to road trip and travel this summer, I hope this helps!