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

Shop The Post:


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


A Weekend in St. Augustine.

That view. With all its softness and familiarity and yet -  it's never the same. The cerulean blue sky whispering to the teasing peach, melting into an ombre ocean. The steady mercury tide, measuring predictably in and out like the beat of my heart.

There is something about seeing the ocean after such a long time of not seeing the ocean. That view somehow washes me with calm, a reassurance that everything is just as it should be. There is no second-guessing by the sea. Only acceptance and an overwhelming sense of love.

The salted air and the birds of paradise and the glossy foliage - they just do my heart a whole lot of good. I find that a visit to the ocean costs a lot less than a counseling session (well, that's probably debatable if you're asking Stevie), but the outcome is often the same for me. It untangles all the wiry emotions that have bent their way around my brain, creating confusion and chaos and anxiety. But at the very first sighting of the sea, my lungs fill with deeper breath and something I've been holding on to for far too long is released, and I am always freed of it's tangles.

It's a very good thing we have, me and the ocean.

I come from a long line of ladies who love the ocean and consider a visit the same as therapy. My mom, my sisters - we all have a love for the tide, the shells, the humid breeze, even the messy matted hair. Chances are if you're reading this, at least half of you can relate. Nothing I've shared is profound or new or novel - it's simply true. God created wonders on this earth for us to seek out and enjoy exploring. Proverbs 22:5 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and it is the glory of kings to search out a matter." I like that verse so much. I love this place endlessly.

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We visited my sister and her amazing family a few weeks ago in St. Augustine. This little city holds so many special memories for me and Stevie because we honeymooned here (almost ten years ago!) We came down here once when we were dating early on, with a group of people, and it's where I realized I really loved him. Something about this place always makes me feel so much peace about where I'm at in life - I always get reassurance that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

We did all the things on this trip - walked the downtown (favorite shops are Red Pineapple and Sea Glass), ate the best popsicles (the Hyppo Pop!) and did what most parents of a oodles of children do - eat at home. There are sooo many awesome restaurants in St. Augustine, but in this stage of life, we didn't dare try to take ours out to dinner with us :) My bro-in-law Brad took us out on his boat to a deserted island, where we had a lunch of barbeque sandwiches and mac n cheese. I'll be honest - I felt like quite the fish out of water. I've been on boats a lot before, but it made me realize that we aren't native boating types - the first moment Brad started driving the boat, both of my boys started howling and Everett literally threw his body on the ground of the boat shrieking. Me and Stevie just looked at each other like, "Ummm this is bad." Thankfully we got both of them to calm down, but it just made me feel like our family is so suburban. Haha oh well. We are.

We even had an overlap evening where my younger sister Rachel and her husband Chuck came in town, so all of my siblings and spouses were together. It was the first meal the six of us had together without my parents also being present and it was wonderful! We all felt so hilariously adult, having our adult chit chat about our lives.

Stevie and I escaped to the beach and played around with Everett at sunset. Daxton didn't love the March wind that was in all its glory, so we had to make our oceanside visits brief. But we savored every moment and of course I'm already making plans for a return visit. Is it just me, or do you always need just one more day when you go to the beach?

Thanks Kara and Brad, for letting us invade your space and sleep in your children's rooms and fill your house with our clutter and noise and snacks aplenty. Love you to the sea and back.

P.S. - Similar orange kimono here, jeans here, essential oil diffusing bracelets here, essential oil diffusing necklace here, sandals here.

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!

Everett Takes Manhattan.

Everett Takes Manhattan.

There it is. My tiny, bubble window frames that triumphant, iconic skyline. It never fails to give me a thrill in my gut, a rush to the head. This vast metropolis is comprised of anonymous multitudes who dream to be known, discovered and found. So much hope and promise pulsing through the subways, rising up the dizzying elevators, and reaching higher than Freedom Tower. I've admired this place from afar, lived in it up close, and today, for the first time in quite a while, am just a visitor. This time, though, everything is different. My arms are carrying the 15 most important pounds of my life and he has no idea what he is in for.

He stares up at me, almost reading my anticipation, feeling the sense of the plane landing. Can he tell what I'm thinking yet? I have no idea if a 3, almost 4-month old can intuit that profoundly. But if any of them could, it would be him. Ha. Thought every parent ever.

I brought my baby to Manhattan. And here is how it went.

We Came.

Last week we took our first family trip to New York City. I'll admit it. My excitement and anxiety for this trip were equally yoked in the days leading up to our departure. I mean, take a baby on a plane? With recirculated air? During FLU SEASON?! Ew. Ah. Oh.

We Conquered.

(Not Without Casualties.)

I'll just go ahead and get to the punchline: the trip was sublime. My child did as well as a spirited 4-month-old can. Was he a perfect traveler? Oh no. HE'S A BABY. There were two screaming restaurant incidents that I'd like to pretend never happened. But for the most part, he behaved wonderfully and went with the flow so, so well. It was almost odd, because, as I've shared before, he's not the lowest-maintenance baby. But his plane rides were so good, they were almost uneventful. And our time navigating the city together was actually super sweet and special. It was a delight sharing it with him, watching his eyes widen in awe at the enormity and grandeur and shimmer and grit.

// The foliage was perfect. Gosh I love New York. //

// Top Left: Everett putting on his fight face as we trolled the town, Top Right: Family Selfie waiting while waiting for the elevator, Bottom Left: Us with the iconic Love statue (right next to our hotel!), Bottom Right: Post-screaming lunch with the baby, where an Uber cab ride and a trendy coffee comforted my soul. //

// Central Park was as perfect as I remember //

// I got free balloons! It was really fun to walk around with... until it wasn't anymore. I might have tied them off somewhere in the city... //

// His puffer coat was like a magical cloak of sleeping properties. He yelled every time I put it on him... and then he did that ^. //

// Narnia. //

// Breastfeeding in the park (lets normalize it, people), some cute guy snapping photos, and me with my Everett bus loaded down with practically everything we own. //

How We Played.

What did we do while we were there? Mostly, we just enjoyed the park and visited some dear friends. Ate some rad sandwiches from the deli around the corner (several times :)) Took Everett to FAO Schwartz to pick out a Christmas toy (we ended up with a book.) Had some random girls give us balloons while we meandered through the park (I know - what??) Had a few too many treats from Magnolia Bakery (thanks, Jess!) Did a bit of Christmas shopping on 5th Ave., although this time I found myself wandering through the baby sections and chatting it up with the other moms in the store. It was kind of a surreal weird moment (like, am I old enough to even have a baby??) Watched the Veterans Day parade. Drank coffee and dreamed of what it would have been like if we were still living in our little 1-bedroom on the Upper West Side. As much as I love this crazy mess of a town, I am so glad we aren't living there now.

Sound too harsh? I'll give you an example. Each time I came back to the hotel after spending a few hours outside, I had to wipe a layer of grime off of Everett's face. He literally had a gritty pacifier mark from just, I don't know, the outside air? It grossed me out. When I walked with him in the stroller, I desperately wanted to shield him from the everything-ness of walking down 6th Avenue, where our hotel was located. Just so many people shoving by, jaywalking, cursing, smoking, yelling, cabs honking, exhaust fumes and wayward bikers every which way. It was just a lot. A whole lot. Everett took it in stride, but he definitely had his moments where he was DONE.

Moments That Surprised Me.

I definitely found myself holding my breath as we rode in elevators, anticipating him screaming in an airless, lightless space, squished awkwardly between strangers, but that moment never came. He was calm. I kept him out a little bit late one evening to meet my friend Deb for dinner, and he let her hold him for a loooooong time, so happy and content. I mean, it was like 9pm! And he was just chilling, completely content to be surrounded by the ardent aroma of pasta and pizza. That's my little Italian. And walking around the park with him was honestly dreamy. The leaves were raining down on us with every cool shimmy of the breeze, and in one bend of the path there was a saxophonist crooning, "Autumn Leaves", while we were surrounded by the mesmerizing autumn leaves, and ... well, it was truly a moment I will never forget. Like one of those moments that isn't significant for any obvious reason, but stands out so strongly, you almost lose your breath when you remember it. It was just a tiny slice of our time, merely a fraction of the day's experiences, but I will never forget that bend in the path, with that jazz saxophone, and looking down at Everett's eyes, knowing he was taking it all in.

We stayed in Midtown, which was perhaps a nutty choice (since its the busiest area of town), but I'm grateful that we had such a central location and could go back to the hotel throughout the day when we needed a break. My child, who typically doesn't nap well, took two two-hour naps each day - that's how stimulated he was! (Unfortunately, he was just preparing to turn the tables on me, since we have been sleep challenged ever since we returned home from our trip. No one told me that coming home from a trip is actually the hardest part of traveling!)

Thankfully, we had a lot of friends who came to the hotel to see us - thank you all so much for making those visits so easy! It was so much fun sharing him with all the wonderful souls who were so invested in him all last year, long before he was even born. These are the beautiful friends who celebrated his gender reveal, showered me and Stevie with so much love and affection, and kindly lied to me when I kept asking if I was really as gigantic as I felt. Everett was a lot more relaxed and able to interact with everyone in the hotel room than in a crowded restaurant.

Even though he was slammed with work almost the entire time, Stevie and I had bits of time to enjoy some of the New York splendor, too. We scoured the lower east corner of the park, an area we hadn't discovered much together. We ate really really excellent takeout when Everett was too fussy to go out, but even the takeout in New York is spectacular. We got to see what it feels like to be parents, traveling with a baby, which... let me tell you what, it is DIFFERENT than being all fun and fancy free on your own. Remember these times? It's safe to say those days are over. At least for a while. But it's more than okay, we are embracing this season with with big thankfulness.

// Everett and all his friends :) //

When We Were DONE.

By the last day, Everett had taken Manhattan - and decided he'd had enough. He pretty much lost his mind in a restaurant in the Flatiron area (sorry, Jenna & Tara, for all the stares for all the wrong reasons), so I was happy to take my screaming, wriggling, huffing and puffing child into a cab and call it a day. Overall, I feel proud that we managed to make our way in the city without too many meltdowns.

I'll share more details about traveling with an infant next week. So many of you shared your tips and tricks with me, many of which worked beautifully. With the holidays coming up (and Thanksgiving right around the corner!), I know tons of you will be traveling with your kiddos, and I am excited to share about what worked and what didn't.

Thank You!

Also, many thanks to all of you who offered up such helpful advice about the 4-month sleep regression/transition that we experienced coming back from this trip. We are still in the throws of it, but thankfully the waking up every hour of the night has stopped. Living on a prayer, baby. And coffee. Lots and lots of it.