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!

Cousins Are for Life

IMG_8951

Is there anything in the world quite like holding your baby sister’s first baby in your arms? I’ll go ahead and answer that for you — no. No, there is not.

I just got back this past weekend after nine days out in New York, the purpose of which was to do just that — hold my baby sister’s first baby in my arms.

And, you know, help out, however I could.

Continue reading “Cousins Are for Life”

Back in the Borough: Hot Child in the City

img_9303
^^ 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.

img_9145
^^ Look at that face! Like, ” what in the heck is going on around me?!”

img_9173
^^ 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 😉

img_9206
^^ 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.

img_9257img_9266
^^ 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.

img_9445
^^ Some Aunt Stephie cuddles. (Aunt Stephie also dresses Lotte every single time she’s with her, in case you were wondering … )

img_9274
^^ The Grand Central detour.

img_9287
^^ Hubbub all around them, and yet these two babes remained as calm as ever. True city babies, if you ask me 😉

bryantparkentrance
^^ 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.

img_9309img_9311img_9323

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

img_9313img_9335
^^ My child has perfected her side eye.

img_9355img_9367img_9357img_9352img_9375img_9381
^^ 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.

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 😉

Skating_2

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: Do in NYC

NYCBackground_Do

Welcome to the third installment of my Things to Do in NYC series. This time I’m comin’ at ya with a list of some of my favorite activities in NYC. You don’t have to be a tourist to love these things — Chris and I partake in most of them on the regular, even though we live here.

There’s really no limit to the number of things you can do in this city, and this list is maybe a bit unconventional. I didn’t include things like taking in a Broadway show (always worth it) or visiting the Empire State Building (an ancient tradition). Some of these things might take some planning, and a couple of them are seasonal, but to accomplish some or most of the things here will, I promise, make you one very happy person.

What to Do in NYC

  1. Bike in Central Park: Whether you rent your bikes from one of the many stores available near the bottom entrance of the park, or just pick up a couple of Citi Bikes, biking through the park will still allow you access to some of the most beautiful areas of CP (although be cognoscente of the areas where you are supposed to walk your bike, and not ride it),  and it might just save you a little bit of time in the process. Be warned, though — biking around the outer loop of Central Park is not all fun and games. There are some pretty tough hills to tackle, my friends, especially in the northernmost  section of the park (otherwise known as the Harlem hills). Don’t be embarrassed if you have to get off your bike and walk it up in this area … I certainly did.
  2. Walk The High Line: The High Line will always hold a special place in my heart, since Chris and I stayed at The Standard Hotel overlooking The High Line the first night that we were married. But even without a sentimental reason to visit, The High Line is still pretty amazing. This public park is actually built on a set of old freight rail lines elevated above the city on the West side. It’s free to enter, and there are tons of snack and drink vendors along the walk. There’s also a fun seated section with a huge window overlooking the street where you can sit and watch the cars drive by as if from right underneath you.  After you’ve walked The High Line, stop off at the The Standard Biergarten for some drinks and pretzels [my fave!]. Another warning for you: this place gets packed, so if at all possible, I would make your High Line walk as early as possible, so that your visit to the Beer Garden is on the earlier side, as well. [Check their hours to see what suits your schedule.]
  3. Watch Shakespeare in the Park:  So this activity definitely takes some planning, but if done correctly, it can really be a spectacular day. The hardest part about this suggestion will be actually getting the tickets for admission. There is an online ticket lottery, but the chances of actually getting tickets this way are slim-to-none. In my opinion, your best bet is to camp out for them — and camping out is half the fun! As you may recall, I did this one day last summer with a friend [and I’m hoping to do it again this summer], so I won’t go into a ton more detail here.  You have to get there super early  [I’m talkin’ 4:30 a.m. early] to even have a shot at getting the tickets, but you can camp out and read, and local restaurants send out delivery men to take food and drink orders, and park performers stop by and serenade you while you wait — it’s all part of the experience. Tickets are handed out at noon [they’re free!], and the performances start around 6, so after you get your tickets you have the whole afternoon free before you have to come back for the performance. [Perhaps a nap will be in the cards?!]
  4. Visit DUMBO: Brooklyn has its own set of fun adventures to partake in, so I’m only going to include this one thing here, since visiting the DUMBO [which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass] section of Brooklyn provides you with the most amazing view of Manhattan, as well as access to a ton of other activities, like pop-up pools in the summer, Jane’s Carousel for the kids, lots of shops and restaurants and ice cream, etc. Check out more about DUMBO in this post that I wrote about my visit there last year.
  5. Ice skate in Bryant Park: If you know me at all, you’ll know that ice skating in Bryant Park is absolutely one of my favorite pasttimes. [So much so that my husband’s first ever Christmas gift to me was a pair of skates and a lock specifically to use for the lockers at Bryant Park.] Anyway, it’s not just the skating rink at Bryant Park that makes it so special, it’s the entire Winter Village. The pop-up shops surrounding the rink provide the most festive ambiance for a late-night skate, and they play old-timey music and you can stop by Celcius afterwards for a hot toddy. The rink usually opens in November and closes around February (although the shops close right after the holidays), so that’s plenty of opportunity to dust off the old skates and go for a twirl! Skating is free here if you bring your own ice skates and lock.
  6. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I mean … enough said, right?
  7. Dying to Try: A Visit to The Cloisters: A visit here is definitely on our NY to-do list. The Cloisters are technically a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although they’re actually located in Fort Tyron Park (check out directions here). I’ve heard that the grounds are beautiful, and the extension is used to exhibit the museum’s collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe. Pretty cool.

So those should keep you busy for a while! Up next: Bee-boppin’ around NYC. [AKA, the best places to listen to some music!]

Bis bald, friends!

Life Recently: Early June Edition

Hi friends,

So … it’s June? How the heck did that happen?! We’ve been having a lot of fun at baseball games, with friends and family visiting, etc., etc. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately, courtesy of my iPhone.

photo 1

photo 2^^ Some of the prettiest things in Grand Central are only visible when you look up.

photo 3^^ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Bryant Park is my favorite.

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6

photo 7^^ These adorable little kids were competing against each other in chess. Can you say smarties?

photo 8^^ Sections of Times Square are now closed off to traffic for the summer.
It’s only slightly more bearable this way.

photo 9^^ FIrst iced coffee of the season for Sheral.
[That’s not how you spell my name ;)]


photo 10^^ NYC: The only place in the world where you’ll see
a cab, a car and a horse-drawn buggy lined up like they’re about to race.

photo 11^^ Poor horses — you make my heart hurt.

photo 12^^ Ahh! It’s a Christmas lights murder!

photo 13^^ I simply love this brownstone-lined street right next to ours. Swoon.

Bis bald, friends! Here’s to summer right around the corner!

 

One Final Note on Christmas … and Happy New Year!

Happy 2014 friends! I cannot believe I am typing up a post for 2014 right now. I feel like Christmas was about a million years ago, but we were so busy running around I didn’t get the chance to blog about something we managed to squeeze in right before we headed out of town for the holidays. It’s been an item on my Manhattan Bucket List for a while now, and we finally made it happen — Celcius, at Bryant Park.

photo 1

As we all know, I have a slight obsession with Bryant Park during Christmas (I’m not ashamed to admit it), so Celcius provides me with an outlet to be as gluttonous with this obsession as possible. The bar/restaurant provides a completely open view of the skating rink, shopping village, Christmas tree and even the Empire State Building from a certain angle. The drinks were tasty, the atmosphere was festive and the snow was falling — it was basically the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve Eve. [–> not a typo, we went the night before Christmas Eve ;)]

photo 2^^ You can kind of, sort of, maybe see the Empire State Building peeking out at the top of this photo.
In real life she was spectacular.

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6

photo 7^^ Bryant Park in the falling snow. There’s nothing more beautiful.

For New Years Eve (AKA our one year wedding anniversary! And our 7-year anniversary in total!), my husband surprised me with brunch at Landmarc in Tribeca (they also have a location in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle), and we saw these crazy kids play again at Terminal 5. (Which is where we met. And got engaged. So you know … it’s sentimental for us to say the least …)

photo 8

photo 9

Bis bald, friends! And cheers to a fabulous and fun-filled 2014!

Life Lately …

Here’s a bit of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks. (There’s a whole boatload of fall amazingness happening over here, people!)

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

^^ Even the leaves right outside our bedroom window are putting on a show.
^^ Even the trees right outside our bedroom window are putting on a show.

photo 6

^^ My dad is heading to Saudi Arabia for work for five months. So obviously we had to send him off in style with some fabulous gifts.
^^ My dad is heading to Saudi Arabia for work for five months. So obviously we had to send him off in style with some fabulous gifts.

photo 8

photo 9

photo 10

photo 12
^^ Halloween may be behind us, but awesome decorations like these are still out in full force.

photo 13

photo 14

photo 15

photo 16

photo 17

photo 18

photo 19

^^ The marathon was last weekend, but Central Park is still celebrating.
^^ The marathon was last weekend, but Central Park is still celebrating.

photo 21

photo

In the News: Feeling Stunned

Sad news from The New York Times today about a shooting at one of my absolute favorite spots in the city — the Bryant Park ice skating rink.

If you’ll recall, actually, I was just there this past Thursday

photo

 

^^ I love the atmosphere here this time of year. And the music! Love the old-timey music.

The reason for the shooting? A jacket. A jacket that some idiot teenager wanted. And wasn’t given. And therefore felt the need to shoot and potentially kill for.

What do you do when one of your favorite places to go suddenly becomes a place you fear. A place where something horrible and sad and scary happened. Ice skating rinks. High school parties. Airports. Schools. Movie theaters.

Where can we go in America without worrying? The list is getting smaller and smaller …

My dad and I actually got into a discussion about this over the weekend (before I even knew anything had happened at Bryant Park). I argued that with the way America has become recently, I’m more than happy to have some of my personal freedoms stripped away if it’s going to help keep me (and my family and friends) safe. My dad (the retired Army Lieutenant Colonel) argued that these policies (stop and frisk, for example, and airport pat downs) are un-American, un-democratic and go against everything America stands for.

I understand that argument — I really do. But what do you do, I wonder, when you start to worry that at any moment, any place where you are, someone could pull out a gun and just start shooting? Because they’re angry. Because they’re mentally ill. Because someone offended them.

Because they want your jacket.

All I know is I want my ice skating rink back. And now, a small part of it will never be the same.

 

Back in the Borough: A Day With Myself (Sort of) in NYC

Fall/Christmas in New York City is my absolute favorite time of year, and yesterday I took some time to do something I haven’t done for a while — walk around by myself. I walked from our Upper East Side apartment to meet a friend for lunch in the 60s (We ate at the Eat Here Now diner. It’s really tiny and packed, but the atmosphere was fun, the food was great and the big front windows allow you to people watch on Lexington ave right outside while you hang.), picked up some craft supplies at Sam Flax and spent a couple hours browsing the Christmas shops (yup, the Christmas shops!) and the ice skaters at Bryant Park.

^^ Ahhh, my favorite time of year at Bryant Park -- and in the city, for that matter -- has arrived! You will find me at the skating rink in my very own ice skates very soon, my friends!

^^ Ahhh, my favorite time of year at Bryant Park — and in the city, for that matter — has arrived! You will find me at the skating rink in my very own ice skates very soon, my friends!

^^ Not a bad backdrop for ice skating, if you ask me.

^^ Not a bad backdrop for ice skating, if you ask me.

^^ Beautiful blue NYC skies.

^^ Beautiful blue NYC skies.

^^ I love the atmosphere here this time of year. And the music! Love the old-timey music.

^^ I love the atmosphere here this time of year. And the music! Love the old-timey music.

Afterwards I met up with more friends at the Haru Sushi near Union Square for a couple happy hour martinis and sushi rolls.

As a freelancer, I sometimes forget that I’m allowed to take a break every now and then. I often keep myself chained to my computer during business hours, and continue to check and respond to emails well into the night. But the whole point of taking this time to freelance was to have a little bit of flexibility. Yesterday just reminded me of how nice that can be.

Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone is making the most of fall while it lasts!