What is it exactly that you feel when your firstborn child turns five? Is it wonder at the amazing little person she is becoming? Is it sadness for missing the baby that was so sweet… More
I should start by saying that the ride out to the farm was less than optimal. (Think lots of things going wrong, including traffic and car sickness … it wasn’t our best ride …) So by the time we arrived, we had all about had it. The farm itself was very sweet, with lots of rescued animals for the girls to fawn over and fall in love with. I, however, was ready for a delightfully decadent shower, or perhaps even a lovely bath.
That wasn’t going to happen here.
Staying on the farm is a unique (and ultimately worthwhile) experience, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. I’d liken this stay to “glamping,” since there was a roof over our heads and running water, but it wasn’t fancy by any means (nor is it advertised as such … that’s just what I was hoping for at that particular moment in my life.)
Once we started to get over the effects of our gross ride, things got better. It was actually very sweet to see the girls react to the animals, to eat a picnic dinner on the table by the lake, to watch the fireflies outside next to a campfire and to fall asleep to the sound of bullfrogs, and all the other nature surrounding us.
In all honesty, we decided to stop off in Pennsylvania — and in this area in particular — because my sister and I are considering getting a lake house together and we’re scouting spots. We love the idea of getting a place together where our kids can grow up and visit throughout the year. Living far away from family is hard, but if we had a place like that — and a trip like that — to look forward to every year, it might be just a little bit easier.
After our one-night stay in the cabins, we decided to check out Hawley, PA and the cute zoo — Claws “N” Paws Wild Animal Park — in the area. We only got to spend a couple hours in Hawley, but I can tell it’s a very cute area, so we definitely plan to be back!
After the zoo, we were finally on our way to upstate New York, where we would be spending the rest of our trip. That included a stay at Grandpa Robert’s in Newburgh, one night at my sister’s in Middletown and one night at my aunt and uncle’s in Goshen. My aunt and uncle were kind enough to watch the girls for us while we attended a wedding, and we were forever grateful!
I’ll post separately about the wedding — because the beauty of it deserves a post all its own — but for now, here’s a bit of what we got up to in New York …
We always have the best time when we head back to New York, but it’s usually really hard to fit in seeing everyone who we want to see. Even though this was a quick trip, we got lucky and were able to cram a whole heck of a lot of visiting in. I am so grateful for all the memories we made with so many people we love. This was one amazing trip that we won’t soon forget.
Most of this portion of our trip included stays with family, but we did visit a few noteworthy places:
- We stayed at one Airbnb that was part of Billy’s New Hope Barn
- We visited the Claws “N” Paws Wild Animal Sanctuary in the Poconos, and got coffee and breakfast at Cocoon Coffee House & Bakery in Hawley, PA.
- The Hawley Silk Mill is a cute little indoor shopping area that’s right next to Cocoon. After many iterations as a textile factory, silk factory and antique center, the factory has been repurposed into the shopping center that it is today.
- Equilibrium Brewery is a fun place to check out if you’re in the Middletown, NY area (and if you like meat, which I don’t, but everyone says theirs is great!).
I’ll be back tomorrow with one of the most beautiful weddings we’ve been to. Until then … bis bald, friends!
Do you know that amazing feeling you get after you’ve accomplished something that you’ve been planning for a long, long time? And on top of accomplishing it, it actually went well?!
Well that was me and Chris the Friday we arrived in Brigantine!
After our monster road trip across the U.S., we were ready to relax on the beach, eat some good seafood and, more importantly, reunite with some family members that we hadn’t seen since early 2020. It was an emotional trip, to be sure, but I was prepared, and seeing my sister, brother-in-law and niece in person for the first time in 1.5 years was everything I thought it would be and more.
Besides the awesomeness of seeing family, this was also our first family trip to the beach since we were in Australia, and Em’s first trip to the beach in general. The two older girls loved it so much, I have a feeling we might need to make regular beach trips a thing in our future, as well.
This was the Airbnb where we stayed which, like I mentioned, was about two blocks from the beach. It had two rooms, and the girls loved staying in bunk beds together. There wasn’t a pack and play, so we did have to bring our own. That was fine, since we were planning on doing that anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are traveling with your own little ones.
Some food spots I would recommend include:
— Brigantine Bagels: A MUST for bagels and coffee, if you want my opinion
— Laguna Grill & Rum Bar: Steph and I ate here for lunch when we escaped, and it was just the delightful beach scene we were looking for. There were places to eat both inside and outside, live music and lots of delicious seafood to pick from.
— Crab Shack Seafood: We picked up the seafood for our seafood night from here — lobster rolls, crab legs, muscles, clams, corn and Caesar salad — and it was all so good!
— Aunt B’s: Stop here for ice cream at some point in your trip … it’s delish!
The last time I was in Brigantine I was in high school, and while it was a great trip then, this visit really topped the charts. We stayed until Tuesday, so for three full days, and it was the perfect way to start our whirlwind trip. It was so nice to have some time with just Steph and her family, and to start off with a relaxing (is anything relaxing with kids?) first leg.
And that was our beach trip, friends! Until next time … bis bald!
Happy Friday, friends! The photo above was taken the morning after we arrived in Brigantine, which was around 2 in the morning. Despite that early morning entry, someone (aka Lotte) was up and at ’em on Saturday morning, ready to start her vacay! I was totally here for that, so we hopped in the car and headed to get some Brigantine Bagels for the family while we waited for everyone else to wake up and for Steph & Brian & Rosalie to arrive … but I digress.
First …. we drove across eight states to get there!
We really wanted the girls to get one more day of summer camp in, and for Chris to work one more day, before we left for our trip. So we decided to leave right after picking them up on Thursday, around 1 pm MT. They were so excited when we got them, and totally ready (although possibly completely unaware of what it would really entail!) for the ride! We decided to head out via Nebraska, so we could add that state to our list, and to head back the same way we came when we drove out back in 2015 when we first moved here.
Driving overnight was a conscious decision we made to get to our destination more quickly (and to save on hotels), but we knew we’d be exhausted driving home, so we planned to break the trip up into three nights on the way back. Now, having completed the trip, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Driving through the night was hard at times, but the adrenaline really kicked in (for me, at least, the Red Bull kicked in for Chris), and it wasn’t as bad as you might imagine.
We were super excited for the girls to tick a bunch of states off their list as well, but unfortunately most of the state line signs were directly on highways, where it wasn’t safe to stop. We did get this doozy of a photo as we entered Nebraska, though ….
We also stopped in Nebraska for an extended period, since we found an amazing park that had multiple playgrounds, wild animals, a train museum, some amusement parks and fountains and so much more. If you ever find yourself on a cross-country trip with kids that includes Nebraska, I can’t recommend Cody Park in North Platte enough!
Although it was a restless night for the older girls, they did manage to sleep most of the night (thank you, Benadryl, I have no shame in my game!), which I was forever grateful for. Emilia actually slept through the entire night for the first time ever! Maybe I should have her sleep in the car every night?
After Cody Park, it was a straight drive — with stops for gas — throughout the night, until we reached Chicago around 6 in the morning. We weren’t going to stop at first because it was raining, but we thought the girls could use a stretch, and I’m so glad we did! Visiting The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park was one of my favorite memories from the trip. Plus, because we were so early, we were one of only a handful of people there.
The last time I was in Chicago — for Chris to run the marathon — I didn’t get a chance to visit Millennium Park or The Bean, so it felt super special to go back with our kids.
After Chicago we pretty much bolted to Brigantine, with a couple of stops in between for gas and to get some wiggles out. It was an epic trip, and I only would have wanted to make it with these amazing people.
A couple things I learned along the way:
- Dramamine only works when you administer it correctly … poor Grace!
- The Office Ladies podcast is amazing to listen to on a forever road trip.
- Keep an extra trash bag or two around, you will definitely need it!
- Be up for anything and game for plan changes if you do this kind of trip with kids … it’s the only way to get out alive 😉
And that’s it, friends! I’ll be back next week with the first leg of our actual vacation … Brigantine Beach with family we’ve missed oh-so-much! Bis bald, friends!
We’re back, friends! It will take me a few days to get back on track here, to catch up with some work stuff and to get all the photos I want to include uploaded and edited and what-have-you, but a few highlights to look forward to in the coming days include ….
- We saw SO MANY family members we’ve missed over the past 1.5 years!
- Our kids were ROCKSTARS! I mean, don’t get me wrong, we all had moments! Like, lots of moments! But honestly, we had a great time on this huge car trip, and we’re pretty sure the kids did, too!
- I feel like a superhero for having done this (and Chris feels the same!), so now we’re all … hmmm, what else can we do that’s crazy and fun?!
- I will share all the financials of this trip which, despite being flight-free, probably ended up being more expensive than had we actually decided to fly! (Gas is expensive right now, peeps!)
I hope you guys all had great Fourth of July holidays, and I can’t wait to hop back on here soon with all the updates! For now … bis bald!
Our bags our packed! The itinerary is planned! The kids (the older ones, at least) are excited! The checklist is … checked!
Today’s the day! We are hitting the road for our partial cross-country trip from Colorado back to the East Coast in just a couple of hours! Stops include Brigantine Beach in New Jersey first, my sister’s in Pennsylvania second, then on to New York to see all our East coast family that we have missed so much over the past 16 months of this pandemic.
We originally had flights and a car rental booked for this trip, but considering that the kids can’t get vaccinated yet — and with all the lovely news about the craziness that’s happening on flights these days — we decided a few weeks ago to throw in the towel on flying and hit the open road, instead!
When we started planning, we got lucky and found a pretty awesome general itinerary for a similar trip on Trippy. So we took that template and made some modifications to end up with the trip that we’ll be taking. We plan to stop every four hours so Chris and I can switch driving and get gas, and the girls will get out and run around on a few of those stops. Here’s hoping they sleep well overnight, and that the snacks and entertainment hold out! Em is, of course, a bit of a wildcard when it comes to sitting in a car seat for 30+ hours, but we’re as prepared as we possibly could be. Wish us luck!
Happy day after Father’s Day to all you dads out there! I hope you were thoroughly spoiled and had just the best time with your loved ones. We’re in full-on packing/planning mode for our trip over here, but we did manage to get out to celebrate Chris for a bit, which was lovely. It was bagels and presents in the morning, followed by a short hike/walk to New Terrain Brewing Company, then a movie and dinner ordered in.
Anyway, wish us luck as we continue to prep for our cross-country adventure! Any advice for long car trips with littles? Send ’em my way!
Bis bald, friends!
Welcome to Friday, friends! This week felt … long! As I mentioned in this post about returning to normal, the more things we tack on to our calendar, the more time just flies by. Seriously. End of June, where did you come from? Summer? What happened to Spring?! But I digress.
The biggest thing we have coming up — other than Father’s Day this weekend … happy early Dad’s Day to all your wonder fathers and father-figures out there! — is our road trip out east, which commences next Thursday. I will be using this weekend to do all. the. things. That includes making approximately 1,000 lists and ticking each and every thing off methodically as I go along. Any other list-makers out there? It’s the only way I can seem to get everything done these days! (This Smarter Travel packing list is a good place to start …) I’ll head back over here soon to list out our actual plan for the trip — kid-friendly (hopefully!) stops we’ll be making on the way out and back, what we actually packed, etc. — but for now I wanted to hop on and say happy Friday/happy weekend/happy Father’s Day/happy Summer/and happy Juneteenth! However and whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope you make it a great one.
Bis bald, friends!
Happy almost summer, friends! This year we have … plans?! For things to do?! And how crazy does that feel after the year and a half we’ve all just had? I mean honestly, a friend of mine mentioned that after she got her first shot she expected balloons to fall from the ceiling and a marching band to play. Obviously that didn’t happen, but what did happen was that we’ve started, slowly, to return to what our life looked like pre-Covid.
It definitely took me a while to get into the swing of things, but I’ve now gotten my hair done, we’ve had dinner at an indoor restaurant and guests and playdates at our home. We’ve started to open our lives back up, and while that’s awesome and amazing and wonderful, there’s a small part of me that still longs for the quiet days. The older girls are in summer camp from now until school starts in the fall, Lotte has started track and we have a monster road trip planned from Colorado out to New York (and back!) to see family we haven’t seen in more than a year, to head to the beach for a couple of days and to attend a wedding.
All of this feels … almost too good to be true. And while I’m grateful to be able to do these things — see our family, most importantly — I’m also staring at our (overfilled) calendar and remembering the days when there was nothing on it but to hang.
So I propose a challenge, dear friends, to bring back the things that give you joy in your life when you feel comfortable doing so, but to also say NO to more things that don’t. That’s a tough thing to do — especially when it involves keeping your littles from doing things — but for me, at least, I think that’s the only way I’ll stay sane as we dip our toes back into life.
Bis bald, friends … and stay safe out there!
Oh hi there, friends … remember me?! If you don’t, I am not offended. My last post on this website was September 1, 2020, but even then, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to report. Sure, the past year has been pretty busy — we had a baby, Chris started a new job and became a U.S. citizen (he has dual Australia/U.S. citizenship now … wahoo!), we both tried to hold on to some semblance of our careers while watching two children from home full-time. However, because of the pandemic, there was also a heck of a lot of nothing that happened. My trip back to New York with Lotte in February of 2020 was my last flight, and Chris’s trip back to Australia in February was his. Those were the last times that we saw our family, as well. If only we could have known what was coming … am I right?
Anyway, it’s been a rough 12+ months for everyone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my friends. Although Chris and I haven’t been able to get vaccinated yet, just knowing it’s right around the corner — and seeing the numbers drop from the people who have been vaccinated already — is such a joy. So, with all of that in mind, Chris and I decided to pack up the car with our brand new family of five, and to head out on a vacation that was as safe as it could possibly be. Rather than taking a super-long car ride, we opted to head into the mountains, to one of the spots that we’ve loved in the past: Granby Ranch. We stayed at a little Airbnb in the Blue Sky Trail area, which was the perfect location for skiing (the older two girls got their first lessons!), as well as quickly getting to a beautiful hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and checking out the most adorable Grand Lake area, which had the cutest little town and, as you might have guessed, a very grand lake 😉 The lake was frozen, so we were able to walk out on it, which I think the girls found to be pretty fun.
Before I get into the fun parts of the trip, and the amazing pictures (because, Colorado), let me just say … Chris and I were pretty surprised at the level of difficulty this trip reached. We’ve traveled with a 3-year-old before, but every 3-year-old is different and, if I can just say, our current 3-year-old can be quite sassy, to put it delicately. When we were out and about exploring, everything was pretty great for the most part, but when we were back in the cabin, things tended to get a bit hairy. To be fair, thanks to the pandemic, Grace probably doesn’t even remember the trips that she has been on in the past, so she’s not used to being on an extended adventure. I was looking back at pictures of her last trip, and wow she was so little! Chris and I kept reminding ourselves that this, right now, with a 4.5 and 3-year-old and a six-month-old, will likely be the hardest it’ll be for us in terms of traveling. At the end of the day, the minute you get home, the stressful moments tend to either fade away or become funny memories, so it’s almost always worth it, or at least it has been so far, in our experience.
What about you guys? Any other readers out there traveling with littles? Care to share any tips and tricks to make it magically easier?!
While I wait for that advice to roll in, here’s a look at our trip in pictures ….