2021: A Year in Review

They can’t all be good photos, right?!

Welp, friends … there goes another year. As the photo above indicates, we’ve had our highs and lows. I think the year didn’t quite pan out the way most of us were hoping it would, but still, there were bright spots to be found.

Here’s hoping 2022 brings you and your family all the happiness and cheer that you deserve! And here’s what we were able to get up to in 2021 …

April

We dusted off our travel boots for the first time in more than a year (!) this past April for a trip to the mountains. We headed to one of our favorite low-key spots — Granby Ranch — and the older girls even tried their hand at skiing for the first time.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lotte, Grace & Emilia cuddled up on our couch in the cabin.
Chris and the big girls posing on frozen Grand Lake.
They look a little weathered here because this was after their lessons … but I HAD to get a pic of the two of them with their adorable little set of skis!
We wrangled the kids to take a quick selfie when we got out on the lake in Grand Lake.

June

By the time June rolled around, Chris and I were fully vaccinated, and we were able to start hosting some of our favorite people at our house again. We also went on a fun mountain/lake hike, Lotte continued her adventures in skiing and started running (well, that was pre-June, but I blogged about it in June!) and we continued to find adventures everywhere we could in the great Colorado outdoors. We also spent Father’s Day in one of Chris’ favorite places.

Grandpa came for his first visit in more than a year!
Lotte started track!
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Me and my JMU girls 😉
We sure do love a good splash pad!
Just a dad and his trio of ladies.

July

The end of June and beginning of July was a busy time for us, as we packed up the car and hit the road for our trip out East! We started in Colorado and made out way out to New Jersey and New York and then back, stopping in a number of states along the way. (You can find all the gritty details here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Cody Park, Nebraska
Cody Park, Nebraska
The Bean in Chicago!
Brigantine Beach, NJ
These cutie cousins <3
With Atlantic City in the background
Staying at a real, working farm in Pennsylvania was … interesting!
One of the best stops on our trip home!
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
entering Colorado on the way home
Colorado State Line

Then, at the end of July, our firstborn turned FIVE!

August

We hosted more of our besties in August, Lotte started kindergarten, Grace returned to preschool and we managed to make it to Frisco for one final summer mountain visit.

Frisco, Colorado
Frisco, Colorado
Em’s first Frisco visit!

September

We hosted one of Chris’ good friends in September, and they hiked a 14er (a tradition they started years ago). We also spent Labor Day at Standley Lake with friends.

Kayaking on Standley Lake
Kayaking on Standley Lake
Standley Lake, Arvada
Standley Lake, Arvada

October

We spent October in our traditionally favorite way … with all the fall activities!

December

As the holidays rolled around, we were really looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with family back in New York. Unfortunately, Covid had different plans for us. Perhaps we’ll have better luck next year. Still, we managed to get a day in Manhattan, and we did get to spend actual Christmas Day with family, which was an upgrade from last year, so we’ll call it a win.

Times Square is never not entertaining!
Grace was very taken with the Rockefeller tree 😉
Snow on Christmas Eve was a perk!
Christmas Day cuties
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

And that’s 2021, my friends. We’re looking forward to a quiet New Years Eve (and wedding anniversary, for myself and Chris <3) and planning for (hopefully) some fun travels to come in the New Year.

But until then … bis bald, friends!

The Covid Christmas We Should Have Seen Coming

Christmas Day was surprisingly joyful, considering what came before and after …

As the final days of 2021 wind down, I’m hoping that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Our trip to New York for the holidays got disrupted by an outbreak of Covid within our family (extended family, at least, so far the five of us are still Covid-free), so we ended up cutting it short by a week. Still, we managed to pack in a lot of celebrating before things turned ugly.

While I’m grateful for the positive things that came this year — vaccines, three healthy daughters who turned five, four and one, a husband who loves me and takes care of us in this roller coaster of a life, a career that I really love, and so much more — I also won’t be sad to see it go.

Here’s hoping there’s even more to look forward to in 2022. Bis bald, friends … and happy New Year!

The “Calm” Before the Storm

The week heading into our trip was crazy for us, as well, with my stepdad flying in for a visit, Grace turning four and Emilia turning one. We managed to get in a lot of partying before we even boarded the plane.

My sweet, sassy middle daughter. I hope you never, ever change <3
She insisted on having her dinosaurs with her in this picture. Just one of the many reasons I love her so.
My last baby. Emilia turning one has been bittersweet for me. It’s the most fun to watch her grow, and also the saddest to leave the baby phase behind.
Never. Not. Happy.
We took the family to see the holiday lights at Chatfield Farms before we flew out to New York, which ended with freezing cold kids and lots of tears … but it was pretty while it lasted!
Early Christmas at home before we left meant another excuse to wear our matching Christmas pajamas … not that I ever need an excuse.
Thank you, Denver Airport, for having all the fun holiday entertainment! Emilia hadn’t met Santa yet, so this helped me tick that item off my bucket list 😉
As a surprise to no one, Emilia is a champion traveler.
At Grandpa’s …. pre-Covid confirmations :/

New York City for a Day

We had always planned to head into the city for a day during this trip, but we got spooked by Covid numbers the morning we were meant to catch the train. So we ditched the public transport idea and decided to rent a car, instead. I’m so glad we did, because it ended up being a highlight of the trip. It was the first visit for Emilia, and seeing the city we love all decked out for the holiday … well, there’s really nothing quite like it.

We stuck to the touristy parts of midtown — Grand Central, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays — and seeing these things through the kids’ eyes, for the first time, was so much fun.

Ah, the allure of a mini-van. I won’t lie … it was definitely nice having this extra room! We love our Highlander, but a mini-van … let’s just say I get it now.
There is nothing like that skyline.
This is the building where it all started for me. My first real job in magazines — an internship at More and then a full-time gig at Parents — was right here, and I must have walked these streets hundreds of times. To be back there, taking a photo with my girls, really meant a lot to me <3
Of all the places in the city to visit on a holiday trip, Bryant Park is my absolute favorite.
And of course no NYC trip is complete without a big ole’ street vendor pretzel!
Times Square was freezing! But the ball was up, and the girls thought the craziness was so much fun!
Grace was very excited by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree 😉
We spent a lot of time in front of these window displays, and Lotte would have stayed even longer! She was so thoroughly entranced by them, and it was the cutest thing in the world to see.
We ended our visit with a trip to Grand Central, where Chris showed the girls the parabolic curve (where you can talk to people on opposite sides!) and the pretty main hall.
And the Grand Central Market for treats, of course!
Love ya, NYC. Until next time …

Christmas and the Days Before It

We learned the day after we got back from the city that my stepdad had Covid, so we hightailed it out of his house and went over to my sister’s (after we all got negatives on our rapid tests, of course). This ended up being futile, since our Christmas morning tests were negative again, and by the next day my brother-in-law and then sister had it, as well. Still, for those couple of days, we continued on, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Chris and I had already decided that we would be leaving early, and we had already cancelled our Airbnb trip to a lake house in PA (THANK YOU AIRBNB FOR ISSUING A REFUND!) and had moved our flights up by a week to return home (THANK YOU SOUTHWEST FOR ALLOWING US TO DO THIS FOR ONLY THE COST OF THE FLIGHT CHANGE, A MEASLY $150!). We figured if we’re going to get sick, we’d want to be at home when that happened.

Plus, we had nowhere to stay. We officially had Covid cases in both of the family homes where we could go.

I know a lot of people had their holidays ruined or changed due to Covid this year, and I can only hope that by next year, we’ll be in a better place. Who knows, really, but for now, like I said, I’m counting my blessings …

At least there was snow on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve gifts from elves, courtesy of my sister <3
At-home manicures were a big hit!
The cutest.
Also the cutest!
Christmas morning cuties!
Grace’s face pretty much says it all … does it not?!

And that was our trip in a (shortened) nutshell, friends. We made it back home in one piece, which is pretty much all that I can ask for at this point, and we’ll be ringing in the New Year together as a family of five <3

See you all in 2022 … and BIS BALD!

Keep the drinks coming!

Central Park and the Upper East Side With Littles in Tow

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Happy Thursday, friends! Our New York adventures continued yesterday with a trip into the Big Apple. Lotte had been once before when she was about four months old, but this was Grace’s first time, and I think we packed in just about as much fun as a 3-year-old and 19-month-old can handle for a day 😉 My stepdad drove in with us, which was lovely, and we met Chris in the UES, since he was coming back from a work trip in San Francisco on the red eye.

The adventure started with a walk down Fifth Ave., checking out the Metropolitan Museum of Art (from the outside — checking out the inside will come when the girls are a tad older), and grabbing bagels from our old bagel joint in our old neighborhood to have near the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Conservatory Water.

Continue reading “Central Park and the Upper East Side With Littles in Tow”

Pennsylvania, Brooklyn & NYC — A Tale of a 5-day Trip

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^^ Gussied up in our fanciest for a very pretty (if somewhat cold!) Central Park wedding.

Hi friends,

Well we just returned from a super quick and very fun trip over to the east coast. We headed out last Friday, arriving in Pennsylvania around 10:30 p.m. for a second Christmas with my dad and stepmom, sisters and their husbands and Rory and Jude. Nan and Aussie Poppa came, too, which made the trip a super lot more fun.

Second Chrissy was only one of our objectives with this trip — we also rented a car and drove to Brooklyn on Monday, where we stayed with a friend of mine in her gorgeous brownstone and attended a wedding in Central Park on Tuesday and the reception at the Wythe Hotel.

This was Lotte’s second trip out to the east coast — a trip that followed quickly behind her trip out the mountains at the end of last year — and she was nothing but a wonderful pumpkin full of smiles the whole time.

Something tells me we got super lucky with this kid of ours.

Anyway, here’s what we got up to, in photos 😉

01_flyingout^^ Super pumped for her second trip out east!

02_flyingout03_flyingout04_christmasday
^^ These two together … it seriously always warms my heart.

01_drinkinggame
^^ My family has a little tradition of doing a taste-testing competition for one holiday (usually it’s Thanksgiving), and although we’d already done wine in the past, we decided why not do it again 😉 After what was meant to be a tie-breaker using beer between the three wine-tasting winners (my dad and both my brothers-in-law), both of my brothers-in-law won the beer round. This was not in the least surprising 😉

02_drinkinggame03_jennjude04_christmas05_christmas06_christmas07_christmas08_christmas
^^ Steph and I chipped in to get Rory an actual excavator toy that he can ride, and I think it’s safe to say he liked it. (Thanks Uncle Brian for setting it up!)

09_dinner
^^ The chef — aka my brother-in-law — hard at work.

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^^ My delicious dinner plate. These shrimp with Kev’s homemade barbecue sauce were to die for.

05_pub
^^ At the sports bar the next day with the fam!

06_pub07_pub09_pub08_pub10_car11_jennkevs
^^ A poopy diaper explosion meant Lotte was taking photos with her cousins in pjs instead of her super cute daytime outfit. Oh well, still cute, though!

13_tired
^^ Yup. Parenting is tiring.

12_car
^^ Sleeping on the ride from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn.

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^^ The gorgeous setting for Tuesday’s wedding in Central Park.

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^^ Almost four years ago, exactly, Chris and I stood under those very same arches and sat on those very same steps, taking photos of our own after we had just been married 😉

20_carla
^^ Meanwhile, my friend Carla manned the fort back in Brooklyn with both of our babies … and her dog Simon helped.

22_wyath
^^ After a short hiatus, the reception took place at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, which was nice because I had never been before. The views of Manhattan were spectacular, and the food was super delish. All-in-all, it was a very fun wedding.

19_carla
^^ At one point during the night Carla sent me this picture, which I seriously adore. She even said Lotte went down super easy that night, which may have been because of …

21_magicsuit
^^ This amazing sleepsuit! Have you heard of this?! Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is, as promised, magic! Lotte simply loves it, and although I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to be using it anymore since she can roll over, for now I’m just grateful it’s helped get her to sleep after the disruption of her routine over the past couple weeks. Thanks Carla, for letting Lotte borrow Fiona’s!

23_withfiona
^^ Fiona and Lotte the morning before we left to fly back to Denver. It is my sincere hope that these two become good, lifelong friends. At least I know Carla and I will do everything in our power to help make that happen.

24_homeagain
^^ Home. There’s no place like it.

And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends. We’ve got a pretty busy couple first months coming up, with trips planned and visitors coming out. But busy is how we like to be 😉

Until next time – bis bald!

Back in the Borough: Hot Child in the City

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^^ Oh NYC, how I’ve missed you.

Well friends, two amazing things happened on the very first day of our trip out east — Lotte met my grandmother and she visited NYC.

Lots of love for those two things right there.

For starters, I have to give props to our little four-month old for being quite the flying champ. Sure she had her moments, but for the most part she was pretty great. She was totally fascinated in the airport and held her own all the way until the very end when she got a little sleepy, but once we boarded (a half hour late, mind you) and I could breastfeed her, she settled right down.

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^^ Look at that face! Like, ” what in the heck is going on around me?!”

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^^ Since we had a small delay we stopped at Root Down to grab some food. Lotte was just a little bit popular there, as you might have guessed 😉

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^^ Landed!

cryinglotte
^^ Lest you think my child is always happy, here’s a bit of a meltdown pic for ya, as well.

After landing around 11 p.m. and getting back to Newburgh around 1 a.m., we had a super early wake-up call to try to leave the house by 8 a.m. the next day to head into the city.

Our departure time ended up being closer to 8:30, which I still say is pretty awesome, all things considered.

We were only in the city for a couple of hours total, but we sure did make the most of it. Chris renewed his passport. Steph and Lotte and I met up with my friend Carla and her 9-month-old Fiona for brunch at The Wheeltapper Pub inside the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel. We even took the babes through a bit of a Grand Central tour and on to Bryant Park so that Steph could take some potential Christmas card photos for us.

Here’s our time in the city in photos.

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^^ Fiona was fascinated with Lotte’s hair for some reason, which made for some pretty funny photos. Love these two ladies, and I’m so thrilled Carla and I get to raise our babies together, even if we do live half-way across the country from each other.

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^^ Some Aunt Stephie cuddles. (Aunt Stephie also dresses Lotte every single time she’s with her, in case you were wondering … )

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^^ The Grand Central detour.

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^^ Hubbub all around them, and yet these two babes remained as calm as ever. True city babies, if you ask me 😉

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^^ Bryant Park at the holidays — my absolute favorite place on earth. I cannot believe I got to actually share it with my own daughter this year.

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img_9314^^ Behind the scenes of our baby photo shoot 😉 Don’t worry – Chris was holding on very tight!

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^^ My child has perfected her side eye.

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^^ Ah the stroller and steps — thanks hubs, for always taking care of the transport!

img_9390^^ Back to the car, completely unfazed. Like I said – a little city lady.

And that, my dear friends, was our fast and furious introduction of Lotte to the city we love so dearly. Of course there are 10,001 other things I want to do in the city with her, but I have no doubt we’ll be back plenty. In fact, we’re planning another potential trip in January with Chris’s parents while they’re in the states for Christmas, so I’ll start dreaming of that for now.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the rest of our trip. For now … bis bald, friends.

Life Lately: The Fall in Upstate New York Edition

Hi friends,

As much as fall has been a whirlwind, I was predicting that to be the case, and therefore I’ve been able to (as much as humanly possible!) stop and — to paraphrase — smell the changing leaves 😉

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the past couple (crazy/insane/amazing) weeks …

01_Snooze^^ Snooze with some Aussie visitors before I left for my east coast adventure.

02_DenverCapital^^ Checking out the Colorado State Capitol as part of an expert (not) tour while our friends were in town.

03_PeekskillBrewery^^ Hitting up the Peekskill Brewery for dinner the first night I was home.

04_IthacaLakehouse^^ We rented a lake house in Ithaca for my sister’s bachelorette a few weekends ago, and it was the definition of heavenly.

05_IthacaLakehouse^^ Getting the party started!

06_IthacaLakehouse^^ Cayuga Lake in all its glory.

07_CiderTasting^^ Stopping at the Finger Lakes Cider House on our winery tour.

08_CiderTasting^^ These ladies.

09_IthacaBars^^ I bought these little party hats for our gang to wear out the night of Steph’s bachelorette, and I cannot lie, I kind of love them. What else can I wear this for?!

10_Gorges^^ Checking out the gorges in Ithaca before heading out Sunday. Oh fall — you just get me.

11_Ranger^^ This pup is soooo happy to have me home 😉

12_BKWAterfront^^ I headed into the city for a couple days last week for a press event and to visit some friends. This pic was taken during  a walk along the river in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

12_BrooklynWaterfront

13_StatueOfLiberty^^ There’s our Lady Liberty, standing all tall and proud!

14_BKNeighborhood^^ It doesn’t get more quaint Brooklyn wonderfulness than my friend’s adorable neighborhood.

15_FayeAndMe^^ Blurry  photo fun down in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

17_BryantPark^^ One of my all-time most favorite places in the entire world — Bryant Park. This little slice of heaven lives amidst all the crazy hustle and bustle of Manhattan, and it really is something special. I appreciate it even more now that I don’t live in NYC anymore …

18_BryanParkWork

19_230Fifth^^ My press event last Thursday took place on the rooftop bar of 230 Fifth.  This place is pricey, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it for this view …

19_EmpireState^^ I mean …

20_FlatironBuilding^^ I had some time to kill before the event on Thursday, so I hung out in Madison Square Park for a bit and snapped this pic of the Flatiron Building on my way out.

21_BKPumpkins^^ Pumpkins in Brooklyn.

22_ProspectPark^^ A friend and I walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday before I headed home. Coming back to visit this city — and all the people I love who still live here — is bittersweet now. Still, this was the first time back since we’ve moved away that I thought, “I’m actually okay that I don’t live here.” As much as I adore New York — and I do! — this place can also be exhausting and stressful. Who knows where my life will bring me in the future, but it was a good feeling this trip back to be able to say that for now, I think we made the right decision leaving. Leaving the people there, of course, is a whole other thing …

23_AussieCousin^^ This Aussie cousin of ours is amazing. When he found out a trip he had already planned to New York was happening just days after my sister’s wedding, he rescheduled to be able to attend. Then he found out about our other cousin’s wedding that took place this past Saturday, and he rescheduled again! What a trooper.

24_Wedding^^ A glorious wedding venue.

25_Wedding^^ These two cuties are next!

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27_NewPaltzFall^^ Sunday was frustrating to me, with an unscheduled, unplanned and thoroughly annoying last-minute trip to an Urgent Care Center. The drive out there, however, was splendid in all its fall loveliness, so I rewarded myself with a stop directly in the middle of the road to take this photo.

IMG_8891^^ And this, from a walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Le sigh.

IMG_8574^^ Chris and I haven’t been together all of October, since I’ve been east coasting it — so sometimes we just have to cheers each other virtually, ya know?!

IMG_6118^^ Oh, and he sends me these, too, to melt my heart a little bit 😉

And that’s been it so far, my friends! I’m off to the Poconos with a friend this Thursday, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to share with you in the coming weeks – so stay tuned.

Bis bald!

The Year 2014: A Review

Well, friends, it’s been quite the year! When I’m old and grey and looking back on my travels, this will certainly be one of my favorite years to reference. Here’s how our adventure-filled 365 days played out:

Continue reading “The Year 2014: A Review”

A Break In the Regularly Scheduled Programming For …

Christmas in New York City, ya’ll!

Yesterday I caught an early train from upstate into the city for the day to do a little Christmas shopping, catch up with friends and — you know I had to — go ice skating at Bryant Park.

Oh New York, I’ll miss you most of all at this time of year.

Skating_1^^ Love, love, love everything about the holidays in NYC — especially the ice skating 😉

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Lord_Taylor^^ Pardon the horrible reflection in this photo, but I caught the Lord and Taylor holiday window displays on Park during my walk from Bryant Park to Union Square, and how cute are they?!

Manequin_Room^^ I stopped into Club Monaco on my walk to check out their selection of Strand books, and this door to their mannequin closet was open, so I had to snap a pic. It’s all legs and arms, yo.

Grand_Central^^ If I’m being completely honest, it felt a little weird going into the city, knowing I couldn’t go home to my apartment whenever I wanted, and knowing I’d be catching a train back upstate later that night to go home. It truly is the end of an era, my friends, and it felt just like that.

Inside_Central^^ Until next time, Grand Central.

Bis bald, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with our Galapagos adventures!

Back in the Borough: The As, Bs, Cs and So On of New York City Transportation

Earlier this year when Chris and I were coming home from STOMP, I randomly stopped to snap a shot of the Astor Place subway sign.

When I downloaded the photo onto my computer back in January, it got me thinking about how my current work stop was Bleecker. And how I used to get off at Grand Central. And how you can transfer at Grand Central to the Shuttle or the 7 to Times Square …. all of which led me to concoct this post — The A’s, B’s, C’s and So On of New York City Transportation.

I sat at my desk, and it only took me about 20 minutes to come up with a subway stop, train line or mode of NYC transportation representing every letter of the alphabet.

Of course it took me months to actually find the time to make it to each of these stops to photograph them, and unfortunately I ran out of time in this, the last full week of us actually living in Manhattan, so I have to admit that some of these are a bit of a cheat. Most of them, however, are not, so without further adieu, here, my friends, is the outcome of my brilliant plan … an alphabetic representation of Manhattan transportation [for what it’s worth ;)]

Astor_Place^^ Astor Place: Shot on 1/11/14
Connect to the 6 train

Bleecker_Stop^^ Bleecker Street: Shot on 1/20/14;  Also home to the Broadway-Lafayette St. stop
Connect to the 6,4 Uptown, B, D, F, and M trains

Christopher_Street^^Christopher Street (w/real-life Christopher!): Shot on 5/31/14
Connect to the PATH, 1 and 2 trains

Dyckman_Stop^^ Dyckman Street: Shot on 9/7/14
Connect to the 1 train

E_Train^^ E Line: Shot on 9/27/14
The E line is the 8th Avenue Local — traveling from Jamaica Center to the World Trade Center/Church Street

Fulton_Stop^^ Fulton Street: Shot on 5/31/14
Connect to the A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains

Grand_Central^^Grand Central: Shot on 6/1/14
Connect to the 4, 5, 6, 7, Shuttle and Metro North

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 2.05.41 PM^^Hunter College (68th St.): Shot on 10/23/14
Connected to the 6

Inwood_Stop^^Inwood (207th St.): Shot on 10/19/14 at the Spring Street subway station
Connect to the A

Jamaica_Center^^ Jamaica (169th St.): Shot on 10/19/14 at the Spring Street subway station
Connect to the F

Kew_Gardens^^ Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike: Shot on 10/19/14 at the Spring Street subway station
Connect to the E and F

L_Line^^L Line: Shot on 7/5/14
The L is the 14th Street – Canarsie Local, traveling from Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway to 8 Ave/14 St.

Metro_North^^Metro North (in Grand Central): Shot on 6/1/14
Connect to trains to bring you upstate

N_Line^^ N line: Shot on 6/1/14
The N is the Broadway Local, traveling from Astoria-Ditmars in Queens to Coney Island in Brooklyn

One_Train^^ One train: Shot on 10/23/14
The One (1) is the Broadway-7 Avenue Local, traveling from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to South Ferry Station

Port_Authority^^ Port Authority (on 8th and 42nd): Shot on 9/27/14
Connect to buses in New York and New Jersey

Q_Line^^ Q line: Shot on 6/1/14
The Q is the Broadway Express following the same line as the N, but with fewer stops

R_Line