Hello.

Ah, where to begin? It has been so long.

At the end of the summer, I put the blog on the shelf for a little while. For a lot of reasons. Some obvious reasons, like how busy we are and how time flies by before I have a chance to write about our days or my thoughts. Other more complicated reasons, like thinking about how my blogging needs to change as the kids grow older, and how or whether I should share these moments in our lives in an online space.

I still don’t have answers for a lot of my questions. I don’t want the blog to end, but I also feel like it needs to shift, as we do each year as the kids grow. I also haven’t found a miracle pocket of time to write, but the blog is important to me — it always has been — and this holiday season, I decided to kick it back into gear (perhaps a slightly different gear) so I could look back on these memories as I do all the previous ones.

As a parent, it goes without saying that the holidays become more magical as your kids grow into the magic.  This is really the first year that both kids are old enough to truly get into the spirit of the holidays, and we are having such a wonderful time with it.  It has already been a season of firsts.

First time on the Polar Express (on the B&O railroad)

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First time the kids got really engaged in the hunt to find the perfect Christmas tree (at the uncles’ farm)

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(I’d like to say the first time the kids decorated the Christmas tree all by themselves, but nope, they definitely lost interest about two ornaments in.)

Not our first trip to NYC…

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…but our first time enjoying breakfast with Santa at Rockefeller Center, which was such a wonderful treat from K. All you could eat breakfast with hot chocolate, mimosas, a chocolate fountain (we spent a lot of time there), gingerbread cookies, Santa and his elves, and even Christmas carolers!  All at a table looking out at the ice rink.

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After breakfast, we had VIP passes to skate at Rockefeller — our first time not at Bryant Park.  The rink is a little smaller, a lot more crowded, and way more hazardous as there is less skating than there is selfie-taking, but it was absolutely a bucket list experience!  Nell is a pro these days, but it was Guy’s first time on ice skates!

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This is also the first holiday season I am doing an Advent calendar of good deeds for Nell. I filled her calendar with slips of paper full of good deeds and nice things she could do for others.  For her good deeds while we were in NYC, I filled her purse with coins, which she put in Salvation Army buckets across the city as she found them. She even got to ring the bells at each stop!

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We’ve got more adventures planned for the holiday season, and I look forward to sharing them here.  (I am hoping one of those adventures is getting four elegantly-dressed people — ideally our family members, but as my holiday card deadline approaches, I am flexible in that regard — to smile at a camera at the same time in front of a festive, holiday background.  Is that too much to ask?)

 

NYC at Christmas Time!

This weekend we took our annual holiday trip to NYC to visit K and see the Christmas sights around the city.  Everything was festive and beautiful, and we crammed as much as possible into our quick weekend trip.

On Saturday, we got into the city early to catch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  K got the kids twirling Rockettes and Santa Claus toys, and we enjoyed kick lines, Santa Claus, choo choo trains, and camels parading across the stage.  It was awesome.  And the light show around the walls and ceiling was really impressive.

20151205_082725 (1) 20151205_082725 20151205_082747 20151205_082926After the show, we went to Times Square and visited Toys R Us for the last time before that location closes.  Nell wanted cotton candy, so we went to the Candyland portion of the store, and Guy chose a single lollipop.  He was thrilled.

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(What you’re not seeing in this post is all of the amazing food and drink we had across our trip. Like the restaurant we went to after Toys R Us, where we enjoyed pear and black currant champagne cocktails, and absolutely amazing brunch food.  Unfortunately, I was too excited about all the meals to remember to take pictures!)

On Sunday morning, we were up early again to get to Bryant Park and ice skate.  We discovered on our last trip that the trick is to get there when the free skate opens on Sunday morning, and the timing worked out well again.  K, Nell, and I skated for the entire morning session until they closed the rink to resurface the ice, and Nell had such a wonderful time!  She has been talking about ice skating since our trip last December, and this was definitely the highlight for her!

20151206_083115_resized 20151206_083116_resized download_20151206_130746 download_20151206_181909 download_20151206_181927 download_20151206_130806 download_20151206_130802After ice skating, we went to Lord and Taylor to see the store windows and then on to Herald Square to see Santaland.  (We did not wait two hours to see Santa, but we definitely enjoyed seeing all the beautiful decorations around the store!)  Guy and Nell adored the store windows — they were whimsical bakery-themed with cupcakes and gingerbread men and more. The kids were enamored with the show behind the glass.

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Guy loved walking around the city in general — or rather, running in his own funny little way.  Luckily most people in NY wear black, so he was easy to keep an eye on in his bright red sweater “running” along the sidewalk. (Pic next to K. He was not alone, lol.)

20151206_100439After visiting the department stores, we returned to Bryant Park just in time for the carousel opening, which we went on until at least two of us were dizzy.  One little Guybug sobbed when it was time to finally get off.  He loved it so much.

download_20151206_130817 20151206_110738(0)_resized 20151206_110003_resizedWe rounded out our holiday NYC traditions on Sunday with lunch at Bryant Park Grill under the tented Christmas patio for lobster rolls, crab and shrimp cocktail, and red wine.  The kids ate mac n cheese from the gourmet mac n cheese vendor in the Christmas market (of course there is one), which they loved.  And then we were on our way — back to K’s ,and then on the road home a few hours later.

We’ve had our share of bumps this holiday season with germs and winter ailments — in fact, G was way under the weather for the trip, and I’m down for the count since we got back — but this trip was (as it always is) such a highlight of the season and so much fun.  Each year gets better, and maybe next year the kids will understand how to use “indoor NYC” voices in places with shared walls…

 

 

NYC and CT

We got back home last night a little after 1am, carried the kids to bed, and dreamed of all the fun we had on our whirlwind adventure to New York and Connecticut.

Here are some of my very favorite pictures.

Of trying on earmuffs at the store…

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Riding the carousel (even if she did insist on the black horse and stick me with the creepy hare)…IMG_5544 (Medium)

Putting on the tiniest ice skates at Bryant Park for endless loops around the rink…IMG_5548 (Medium) IMG_5549 (Medium) IMG_5554 (Medium) IMG_5569 (Medium) IMG_5574 (Medium)Riding the ferris wheel in the Times Square Toys R Us (and getting the My Little Pony car)…
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And trying on her Tinkerbell costume with light-up wings that K bought her at the Disney store…
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On Sunday morning, we said goodbyes to K and got on the road early to head to Connecticut for a day visit with Aunt Liz, Mikhail, and Oscar.  The cousins got Connecticut pizza, exchanged presents, and played all day together.

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that Santa Claus is coming to town!

 

 

 

New York, New York!

Another back post!  AND DID YOU SEE?!  The blog is coming back to life!

After a very full and fun weekend in Connecticut, G had to haul back to DC to avoid a snowstorm that was plowing toward the I-95 corridor.  He dropped the kids and me off in Brooklyn along the way, so we could spend the rest of the week enjoying NYC at holiday time with K.

Our visit was full of snow, giant Christmas trees, and toy stores.  And for one magical hour, Nellie napped in the stroller, Guy napped in his carrier, and K and I sat in the decorated winter room of the Bryant Park Grill with a lobster roll, mini lamb tacos, and a couple glasses of wine and just relaxed and enjoyed the time together.  It was wonderful.

K and I didn’t take too many pictures — I left the good camera with G since I was already loaded down with kid stuff, and we didn’t take hers out much because of the crazy weather.  However, here are a few of the shots we got from our phones during the visit.

As soon as we got to K’s apartment, Nell went through her nail polish, chose her colors, and begged for KK to do her nails.

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New awesome jammies that K bought Guy while we were out and about. They have little suede shoulder pads and a star on the butt.  They are amazing.IMG1373

Nellie passed out in the baby seat portion of the stroller.  Whatever works, people.

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Contemplating Thursday Night Football.

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Nellie didn’t take off the above sparkly dress for three days. K bought it for her while we were walking around the city, and by the time we left on Friday, it probably could have walked itself home from Brooklyn.

It’s hard to tell in this picture, but for our final Starbucks goodbye to Brooklyn, Nellie was still wearing the sparkly dress.  Thank goodness for gold glitter.

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Zoo Baby

Nellie and I took a little trip over the weekend.  I picked her up early from daycare Friday, took her to the airport, and we hopped on a plane to NY to see Aunt K!

We had some delays Friday evening due to snow in NY, but once we were wheels down, we were roaring to go–which was good because we had a 5 mile walk from the gate we flew into through the terminal to exit JFK.  Little legs, slow walk.

On Saturday, we took Nellie to the Bronx Zoo.  None of us had ever been before, and it was Nellie’s first trip to a full-fledged zoo.  There are pros and cons to visiting a zoo in the off-season.  On one hand, we didn’t get to see a ton of animals (most of them were sleeping somewhere warm, I guess?), but on the other hand, we felt a lot of the exhibits were already pretty hard to get in front of, and we barely got a table at lunch.  I seriously cannot imagine that place with full capacity crowds.  Either way, it was a fun outing, and Nellie had a blast.  Here is a photo dump from our day!

Nellie wasn’t really into pictures during the zoo trip.  Mostly she ignored me or glared at me.

Saying hi to a monkey:

There’s a cute orange baby in the next picture if you look closely. The group argued over it the entire time we were there.  We think that overprotective one that won out was likely the aunt.

Giraffes were probably Nellie’s favorite:

More interested in eating her jacket than checking out flamingos.  To be fair, it was lunchtime.

Furtive jacket licks:

Sweatshirts (including new ones from the zoo!) are equally delicious.

The zoo wasn’t our only outing of the trip, but I didn’t have my camera out for our other adventures around Brooklyn.  I did manage to catch just two more shots of the crazy kid before we left, however: stuffing her face at the airport before our flight left JFK.

You’re probably wondering where G was during all this animal craziness.  He was at home, being awesome like he ALWAYS is, and crashing on the bathroom remodel.  Nellie and I returned Sunday night to two beautiful, spa-like bathrooms that I cannot wait to share with you.  They just have a few last details to finish before they can be photographed in all their glory.

Thanks Aunt K!  We had so much fun that we might just return soon.  (Like really soon.  Kitchen remodel time soon.)