How to Survive NYC With a Toddler: Part 1

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a great traveler. I love to travel, don’t get me wrong. One of our favorite things to do as a couple is dream of all the places we want to go. But when it comes down to it, I suck at traveling. It stresses me out. Leading up to it I’m excited. I research places to go, I pack way in advance, I get all the travel size everything. But then the day comes and I am a ball of stress. I worry about how we’re going to get from place to place. I worry about where we’re going to eat with multiple food restrictions. I worry about safety in such a big, unknown place. I worry about pissing people off on the airplane with a noisy toddler. I am not a go-with-the-flow kind of person. It helps me if I plan and feel prepared. Here are some tips I learned from this trip:

It’s All About the Gear

The first thing you need when you’re traveling to NYC with a baby or toddler or even an older child is a great stroller that is easy to fold down. We found our stroller second hand (which is, in my opinion, the best way to get strollers) and it is amazing. It’s not as skinny or as fancy as some of the others we saw people using in NYC but it served our purposes and it weighs next to nothing. It also has storage on the bottom which is a MUST for diaper bags and what not.

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Listen, I know people have different ideas about the “leash” for kids. I know I did. Until I thought about my incredibly high energy toddler dashing in between an insane amount of people because kid is FAST. I decided to try it and it was super helpful at the zoo. It kept him close but still allowed him to move.

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What to Wear

I have never walked more in my life. IN. MY. LIFE! Luckily we walk a lot at home so I was able to keep up and didn’t feel like I was dying. But the right pair of shoes are necessary. I learned from people watching that in NYC, there are very few people who are wearing heels or cute sandals. Most people we wearing cute tennis shoes. I brought my Sanuk sandals and through four whole days of walking almost all day, my feet didn’t hurt once. They’re amazing. Honest.

Layering is your best friend. I brought a light sweater (long cardigan style) for me and a zip up sweatshirt for Wyatt and we were comfortable when it was a little chilly.

Keeping Baby Happy

SNACKS FOR DAYS! When you think you’ve packed enough snacks- you’re wrong. Throw some more in there. We lucked out in that our hotel was blocks away from a Whole Foods so we were able to restock. Snacks got us through a lot of waiting, a long subway ride, too much time in a stroller, the list goes on. SNACKS. I can’t say it enough.

A paci holder (does it have a better name?) is a MUST. If your toddler is anything like ours, we lose pacis like I lose hair ties. They vanish! I think they live with the missing socks. We got this super cute one from a friend when we were pregnant. It’s monogrammed with his initials but really ANY paci holder will do. But it is necessary.

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Lightweight blanket. I packed my Turkish towel that was given to me by a friend and is my best travel buddy. It’s super lightweight and great for warm weather. The mornings there were chilly so I was able to cover Wyatt with it and then also use it to shield him from the sun when he fell asleep.

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For the Airport

Cover for your carseat and stroller. Per a tip from some friends on Facebook, I ordered a cover for our carseat and stroller and am so glad I did. Those things get thrown around. These covers kept our gear clean and in good shape. You can find them in the carseat aisle at Target too but they are cheaper on Amazon.

A great carrier. You can wear baby through security which is very helpful. We have the Tula and it is very comfortable. I wore him at the end of our trip to the Bronx Zoo so he could take a nap and he slept in it for the entire trip back to Manhattan on the subway and I wasn’t in pain. They are pricy, but worth it. Shout out to my sister who got us ours!

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Stay tuned soon for a post about everything we did that was child friendly and the things we did that, well, weren’t.

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Hello from Washington!

 

Hey everyone! I made it to Washington state and I am ALIVE! Boy oh boy did we have a long trip. Most of you know that I am a photographer on the side and I took a LOT of pictures on our cross country road trip. However, my iMac is in storage somewhere so I’ll be posting cell phone pictures throughout this post.

The day before I left, I had dinner and drinks with my best friends and we all cried our little hearts out. I did NOT want to leave. Michael would tell you that I pretty much did nothing as far as helping with the move, because I was in denial. It was so hard and still is.

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The drive felt like forever. And ever. And ever.

When we left Fort Drum, we headed to Niagara Falls. Michael and I had already been but we wanted to take the girls onto the Maid of the Mist. Savanna was NOT having it but Madison enjoyed it. Michael GoPro-ed the whole thing so I’m excited to see his video when he is done. We all looked pretty fly in the blue rain ponchos they gave us. Savanna was just terrified going onto the boat and pretty much wanted to hold on tight like the ship was sinking. I’m over here like “Calm down, Rose.” She didn’t understand.

 

When we left Niagara, we visited my OG BEST FRIEND (still is, don’t worry Jess), in Toledo, Ohio. We stayed the night there and I got a little tipsy with my girl! Our kids got to play together for the first time in forever. Enjoyed the Roadhouse that night with her and then Chick-fil-A the next day with our families. Catching up with her is my favorite. We literally could talk all night about everything. It just comes natural after being apart for so long. I’m counting the days until I get to see her again.

 

Day two was CHICAGO! We checked into our overpriced hotel and headed to the Navy Pier. On the way there, we stopped by a little beach and the girls got to play in the sand for a minute. Fun fact: I didn’t know that Chicago had a beach. Wanna know why? Because I didn’t know it was along one of the Great Lakes. Just me? Yep. Anyways, Savanna got to ride the carasoul on the pier and Madison attempted the ferris wheel. We ended up going back to the hotel and Madison and Michael went to the pool while I stayed with Savanna. After that, we headed back to the pier to watch fireworks and Madison made it ten minutes before passing out on me so I took her back to the hotel. The next day, we explored downtown Chicago and all of its little monuments. I learned that walking up hills will never get easier and Savanna totally agreed with me on that. We went to the “Shameless house” and got our pictures taken outside. The cast didn’t realize I’d be coming that day so they didn’t buy plane tickets. Rude. Just a tip: if anyone visits that house, do not bring children. The outside of it was not in the best area and you could just smell all of the drugs.

 

After we went to the house, we drove to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. And seriously, everyone should plan a trip there before they get old and wrinkly. This was our favorite part of the trip. Our hotel was only $100 and it included passes to Kalahari (dry) and Noah’s Ark, which is America’s largest water park, and a ton of coupons to use at every single place there. WD is only like two miles total but it’s just so amazing. The things to do there are endless. We wanted to extend our trip by a day so badly but knew that we couldn’t. Our family cannot wait to go back!! We had never even heard of it until our movers came and told us to stop there.

 

The next day, after the waterpark, we drove to Sioux Falls and stayed the night before heading to the Badlands! It was filled with endless valleys, canyons, and more hills. It was a sight to see, that’s for sure! The girls were yelling at Michael every time he got near a cliff. It was so cute! After that, we drove to Mount Rushmore! Madison was on cloud 9! She lives her presidents. It was so much smaller than what I expected it to be. Michael and I were so excited that our girls got to see this and have pictures to look back on when they are older. We ended up staying the night near there before heading to the Devil’s Tower. We didn’t stay long because, well, there really wasn’t much to do other than look at it. After that, we headed to Little Bighorn where it was scorching hot. Scorching. Savanna and I witnessed an Indian prayer circle so that was kind of cool! After that, we headed to stay the night in Billings, Montana.

 

The next day was the worst. Absolutely terrible. Most of my closest friends know that I hate driving on mountains. It’s absolutely terrifying to me and I guess I just don’t see whyyyyyy they can’t make a road that goes around the mountains. Just saying. Anyways, Michael wanted to take a scenic route to Yellowstone, which was whatever, it would be a piece of cake. No extreme mountains, just a scenic route to look at farmlands and cows, right?

WRONG.

In his defense, he wasn’t expecting what was coming our way, at all. Beartooth Highway. Beartooth freaking Highway, I hope to never ever see you again. Talk about scary. One of the worst experiences of my life. We drove separate cars and I tend to drive faster than him, and because I thought this was gonna be some sort of flat land Highway, I ended up way ahead of him without a care in the world. We had a meeting spot so I wasn’t concerned. All cell phone reception was gone, barely any rails along the hills and turns of the steep mountains, no oxygen, and I could go on and on. A couple of anxiety attacks later, Madison and I were ready to just die. We were so over it. We finally reached a little town after the highway and we stopped into one of the gift shops and there was a shirt that said “I survived the Beartooth Highway” and I snatched it right up. It was that bad, so bad that I am proud that I did it. Cut to, miles ahead, we made it to Yellowstone and waited for Michael and Savanna to reach our meeting spot (30 minutes later). We explored a little bit of Yellowstone and got caught in walking-bison-on-the-roads traffic jams. There were so many people there that we didn’t get to see some of the things that Michael wanted to see but, it was what it was. I’m excited NOT to go back.

 

After that, we stayed in a small city in the western part of Montana before driving all the way to Fort Lewis, Washington! We have already been here 13 days and explored a little bit of Seattle and Olympia. We bought year long passes to the Hands On Children’s Museum, went to every mall around, parks, saw the very first Starbucks (insert little dance), etc.. We are still in a hotel but we do get to move into our house TOMORROW. Madison started school last Wednesday (cue the tears) and Savanna started today (even more TEARS). We are so eager to get out of this hotel and let our girls do cartwheels without getting a noise complaint (eye rolling over here).

 

Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to post much better pictures of our trip! I’ll be sure to update on our journey here, as well!

Mighty Nest Review

I’m not one to normally sign up for monthly subscriptions. I tried Stitchfix which was less commital (you don’t have to have a delivery each month) and was less than thrilled with the clothes they would send me. But in my search to try to live a cleaner life, I was curious about Mighty Fix.

The deal: For $10 a month Mighty Nest will send you a product guaranteed to help you make small changes towards a cleaner lifestyle. The cool thing is that you can cancel at any point. You’re not going to be stuck with a package that you don’t like. If you like the products you can commit to a full year and get a discount.

Their pledge:

“We make it easier for families to create a healthy home. Each of our products has been thoroughly researched to be free of concerning chemicals and hand-picked for its quality and design.

No BPA, No Phthalates, No Lead, Real Materials, Time Tested, Durable, Safe Alternatives that Work”

I could commit to $10 a month- that seemed doable. And I have been super happy so far. Here are some of the items we have received that I love:

Duralex Lys glass food storage bowls

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This month we received two storage bowls. They’re both small, but perfect for lunch boxes. In fact, I like them more because they are so small. They fit a cut up sandwich for Wyatt or a small snack and don’t take up a bunch of room. The other day Wyatt didn’t finish his lunch so I was able to throw this into my purse for him to finish later when we went out. We only use glass food containers and so far I’m a fan of these. We normally use the Pyrex containers but the lids are always breaking! The edges of these containers are much more durable that Pyrex lids.

Wool Dryer Balls

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Dryer sheets aren’t terribly expensive but they are full of nasty chemicals. The product description says they reduce drying time. I’m not 100% sure about that, but they do reduce the chemicals in our laundry so I’m cool with just that. They also sell a package of the wool balls and essential oils to give your clothes a fresh scent. Note: these do not really help with static in blankets.

Suds Up Dish Brush

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I normally don’t like these dishsoap dispensing dish brushes because I feel like they never work, but this one actually does! We received this about a month ago and I don’t use it for all dishes, just when I need an extra scrub. Mostly I use the reusable dish cloths they sent me a few months ago. I also love that you stand it up when you’re done so you don’t get soap residue all over your sink or countertop. Plus, it’s super cute.

Reusable Shopping Bag

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These are my FAVORITE product so far. I know, it seems so silly that a reusable shopping bag would be my favorite product, but these bags are so so great. Not only do they fold up into this tiny little ball which makes it super convenient to throw into your purse or diaper bag, but they are comfortable to carry even when they are heavy. When we lived in a third floor apartment, these made carrying groceries up so much easier. The strap at the top is felt which makes it a little more comfy on your shoulder.

24-7bag3Because these are made of nylon, they are also perfect for the beach or pool. I have kept one in our pool bag this summer to throw wet clothes into. Since it’s machine washable you can just throw everything into the wash when you get home or let it air dry. I received two in my shipment but would easily order more.

 

There is SO MUCH more on the Mighty Nest website for you to purchase but we love getting our shipment each month to see what we’re going to get next. Sometimes it’s things I’ve actually wanted to try and sometimes it’s something I never really thought about. We’ve been using the service for about a year now and have used or are still using every single product they have sent. Win!

 

*all photos are from the Mighty Nest website

It’s Been A Pleasure

This is it. Our time at Fort Drum has come to an end. If you had asked me five years ago if I would be okay with leaving, it would be an immediate yes. But this place has shaped me. I’m not the 20 year old girl who lived to see an argument on the Army Wives Facebook page. I’m not the girl who didn’t know how to use a crock pot or even make sweet tea on her own. I’m not the girl who didn’t understand how to raise two little girls with her husband deployed (still don’t know how to do that right).

I have blossomed. I KNOW what kind of person I want to be. This place has gotten to see me at the start of a significant change. I’m dreadfully in my upper twenties now and can say that this military life has changed me for the better. I know what I want. I am aware of what my goals are instead of just going with the flow.

I’m so blessed to have called this place my home these past 5 years and some change. I’ve met some of the BEST people. More importantly, my children’s most important years were spent here. Savanna was just a three month old baby when we moved here. This is all that she knows. This is home to her. Her first steps were made on the ridiculous carpet tiles of Middle Lewis Avenue. Her first words were said in Clark Hall. Her first drink out of a straw was made at the Olive Garden in Watertown. She has done three seasons of gymnastics, one summer of soccer, one summer of ballet, and finally found her niche of cheer leading. She was on a cheer team that she LOVED and was so good at. She started school here. The girls had the same Pre-K teacher. As I’m typing this, I’m laying next to her at the same hotel that we stayed at when we got her so many years ago. The worst part about leaving is that she still doesn’t understand that she won’t be seeing these people again.

Madison, my force to be reckoned with child, is so excited about our trip across the country. She keeps talking about how she wants to decorate her room and the different places she wants to see along the way. She has made so many friends here that it’s weird to see her so ready to move. Madison has been in gymnastics for three seasons, dance, t-ball, tennis, before finding her niche in soccer.  She is a soccer star for sure. She keeps talking about being on a new soccer team in Washington and just lights up when she talks about it. Ever since the movers came and packed our house and moved everything out, she has been such a different child. She has had the worst time dealing with the change.

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We went through the terrible twos and even more terrible threes, twice here. We went through hardships that we overcame in our marriage, here. We bought a couple new vehicles here. We made marriage goals and life goals, here. Even typing this now, I still haven’t let myself get too deep in my thoughts about leaving because quite frankly, I’m going to Kim K cry. Hugging my best friend goodbye in two days, is going to literally kill me. I refuse to let myself become sad now, because I need to treasure these last few days while I can and not be all in the feels.

As for now, these next couple of days are going to be filled with friends and last minute bucket list restaurants that I haven’t been to. My last day at my job is tomorrow and I’ve been there for over three years. I’ve had countless customers bring in cards for me and it’s so humbling. I’m so honored to have grown relationships with people from here that will last a lifetime.

Fort Drum, and your stupid weather, it’s been so real. Thank you for being the setting of my little family’s growth.

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Our Historic Home Renovation- Update!

It has been a very long month. As it goes with a foreclosure, closing was delayed and delayed which put us in even more of a time crunch then we started with. Dealing with a renovation with a toddler is basically impossible. And when I say basically I mean absolutely. Wyatt and I ventured to Richmond for 12 days where we stayed with some amazing friends who welcomed us with open arms. But being away from Charlie was hard and getting Wyatt used to sleeping in a new place in a pack ‘n play was a challenge. There were many sleepless nights and many tears (from us both). In the time we were away Charlie was in charge of the renovation. We’ve learned some hard truths during this renovation so far. We’ve learned that with old homes, nothing is easy.

Nothing is quick.

Nothing is simple.

Replacing a door knob isn’t as simple as just replacing it. You have to find the exact size door knob that will replace that one door. Every door frame is a different size. No wall is straight and no corner is 90 degrees. Even now as I type this Charlie is headed BACK to Lowe’s (I’ve already been twice today) because a simple task has now turned into a very complicated one.

Renovate a 100 year old home, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

We have made a ton of progress, but there is still much to do. At this point, it’s mostly little stuff other than the basement reno, but all of those little things add up. My husband worked his tail off and still is to get everything done. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as hard working as him, especially considering how many people have disappointed us throughout this process.

Here are some before and now photos of the outside so you can see our progress. This weekend the outside is getting a huge makeover- painting! We’re so excited to not be the ugly house on the block anymore.

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Before

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During

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Now

Charlie worked super hard clearing out the backyard. There are still trees to be trimmed and mulch to be spread and bugs to get rid of. We had a visitor from a groundhog yesterday so clearly our backyard is still home to some critters. But we are so excited for water play and gardening and backyard cookouts. Also in the next few weeks our deck will be built so we can truly enjoy our outdoor space.

There has not been many fun parts of this renovation quite yet. Living in the middle of chaos is exhausting and is wearing us all thin. Wyatt has been a rockstar throughout the entire process. Through teething and so many changes, he is even more lovable and silly and brings much needed sunshine to our cloudy days.

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More to come!

 

Shit My Kids Say Pt. 2

I’ve had the same tennis shoes for like three years now. I wear them every single day to work. So needless to say, I needed a new pair. Madison also wanted a pair of Nike sliders so we went to Dicks at the mall. What was supposed to be a smooth little stroll inside of that store, quickly went south when she yells out, “Mommy! Did you know Dicks has a bad word in it?! Can I tell you in your ear?!”

“Uh, sure”

(whispers softly, “dick”)

“WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD?! DONT EVER SAY THAT AGAIN.”

“I heard it when Daddy was watching Family Guy”

My face was like…

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Welcome to Shit my Kids Say Part 2.

We were at Texas Roadhouse a few weeks ago with my friend and her son and out of nowhere, Madison says, “Mommy, you need to stop drinking iced chai tea lattes because you have a lot of squishy squishy.”

Rude.

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Today in the car, Madison asked me the dreaded question of how babies get inside of mommies’ bellies. I told her that God puts them there. She replied “So he goes and finds bones all over the world and makes them into a person inside of your belly?” Yes, yes he does.

Can’t forget about the time she made fun of my paleness…

“Mommy, your legs look like the white crayon”

Insert eye roll emoji…

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I guess she has a point…

We were at Mountainfest a couple of weeks ago and we were waiting in like to look inside of a helicopter and she said she had to say something in my ear so I bend down and she says, “There is a bad word in ‘helicopter”.

“What’s that?”

“Hell”.

Oh. Okay.

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“Let me take a picture of myself!”

I work in Alexandria Bay a few nights a week and with that, I get a 50% discount on food if I take my family. So I took the girls one day and my friend was waiting on us and Madison looked at her dead in the eye and called her “puffy face.” I know she didn’t mean it but this girl is just gonna kill me one day, y’all!!!

I love writing posts like this one because it’s such great documentation to show them when they are older! Until next time, folks!

 

 

Our Historic Home Renovation

So, we did a thing. But first, a little back story:

We moved to Roanoke, VA almost 1 year ago and went on the frustrating journey of house hunting for about six months. The thing about Roanoke is that while it is full of history and beautiful historic homes, the amount of neighborhoods are actually kind of small. For us, finding a home was contingent on the right neighborhood. We wanted to live in a family friendly area, close to downtown where Charlie works, with sidewalks, and a flat yard. This is actually much more difficult to find than we thought. But it was important to us to be in a walkable neighborhood, to have an outdoor space where Wyatt could play and explore without rolling down a hill. And we really wanted to stay close to Charlie’s work so his limited time outside of work wasn’t taken up with a commute. We also love when he can come home for lunch when he has a chance. We cherish the time we have together so having a twenty minute commute wasn’t an option.

After a while we found the perfect house! It was a 100 year old home with plenty of square footage and a HUGE backyard. It was in a fantastic neighborhood too. It needed a lot of work but that didn’t scare us- for us it was a chance to create something that was just ours from a piece of history. Well, turns out, that house was not meant for us. Our contract fell through so we were back to the beginning.

While we were searching and scouring Zillow and Realtor all day every day we saw this house post but kind of blew it off. It was too small and honestly, looked a little scary! But when our contract fell through we decided to just check it out. Why not? What does it hurt to look? When we walked through we were surprised by how much we liked it. And so we decided to take a chance. And this week we close on this little gem. It was built as a house for railroad workers in 1905 so it has that history that we want and it’s in a neighborhood we love. Now, brace yourself for these photos- this house is in rough shape. But it has great bones and so much potential. Throughout the next few weeks I will give you updates on our renovation and decorating so stay tuned!

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Is there a house behind all of that foliage? Sadly, this is an improvement as Charlie has already snuck over and pulled some weeds up.

IMG_1599IMG_1601I told you it was scary! The door is padlocked and the porch is a mess! But how gorgeous is that window?

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This is a very classic staircase in these old homes. I love the details!

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Dining room that opens into the living room. All the way to the left is a window that faces the back yard. We will be opening that to create a door onto a back deck.

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This kitchen is by far the biggest we’ve seen. These old homes have TINY kitchens. They just didn’t need a lot of kitchen space back then, I guess. We are so excited about the potential this kitchen has. And big windows!

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Looks sketchy, huh? Bonus is there is an updated shower in there too.

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Well hey there scary basement! We are finishing the basement to create a playroom, office for Charlie, and laundry room.

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You GUYS! They PAINTED the wood floors. That’s right, they PAINTED ORIGINAL HARDWOOD FLOORS! Who does that?!

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Original clawfoot tub=beautiful.

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And that is why we fell in love with this house. This only shows half of the size of the yard. Beyond those trees is even MORE yard. I was going to get pictures but I saw something moving and didn’t want to get into a raccoon fight. Despite many delays and lots of hiccups, we are excited to get this renovation under way.

Learn more about our awesome neighborhood Old Southwest.