My parents came to visit us in early November- it was a gift from my dad to my Mom for her birthday- how awesome is that?!? We had a lot of fun and spent most of our time outside because the weather and the Fall foliage was amazing here. They flew in Wednesday night and we stayed up chatting for a while about the recent election results. Then, we put them up in our very fancy bunk beds (Kate and Taylor kindly vacated their bedroom for grandma and grandpa)- I'll bet they haven't slept in bunk beds since they were little kids! Mom and Dad went for walks in Central Park every day that they were here and we tried to join them as much as possible. Its proving to be harder than I want to juggle our own family schedules on top of hosting guests and wanting to spend every single moment with them.
Its currently freezing (snow on the ground included!) in NYC, so I'm looking at these pictures from November with a little bit of jacketless envy. :)
We had to show my parents the view from our rooftop, which we love...we even enjoyed some banana pudding up here on my mom's birthday, which is becoming a tradition in our family!
We didn't get a picture (mostly because our resident photographer, Brian, had to work and couldn't come) of most of what we did. But, we did a lot! I love how active and ambitious travelers my parents are! We wanted to get cronuts at Dominique Ansel, but we thought it best to eat a proper meal first, so we found a highly-rated deli nearby and devoured our HUGE sandwiches outside on a bench in a little charming park in West Village. Then we walked to the bakery and ate some of the yummiest things of my life. The cronut was amazing and the chocolate cookie was probably one of the best I've ever had. After grabbing my kids at school, we all headed downtown to Times Square to try and get discount tickets to a show. We decided on Matilda because I knew they'd love it and it was on offer that night. We bought tickets and then walked to a restaurant for dinner, where we ran into the Sedgwicks! It was a surprise for my Mom's birthday- we were all in on it, but she was floored when she saw them nonchalantly walking around right by where we were planning on eating. It was so fun!
We ate a yummy Italian dinner and then I raced home to get their baby Jane and my kids settled and then raced back to meet my parents, Dave and Jess and Hannah for our show. We all loved the show, even though there was a last-act replacement of Matilda herself due to the main character falling ill. Afterwards, we crossed the street and got some famous cheesecake at Junior's. The Sedgwicks went back to their hotel and we all went back to our apartment.
I'm so glad the Sedgwicks were in town because we had some important doctor appointments and other things going on that we couldn't miss, so they took over hosting duties and showed my mom around the city on her birthday and made her feel extra special, I'm sure. We met up later and took the Staten Island Ferry so we could get a great view of the Statue of Liberty- and it was amazing! We passed Lady Liberty right at sunset and then looked behind us to the lit skyline of Lower Manhattan. Gorgeous. Afterwards, I had to race back for church but they all went to the Sea Glass Carousel and then dinner at Chelsea Market. The Sedgwicks headed home to Maryland that night.
The next day we went to Bryant Park to walk through the Christmas markets there. We grabbed some lunch and then walked through the gorgeous New York Public Library, where there was a great exhibition on Alexander Hamilton that we all enjoyed. Later that evening, we even made it to the temple down the street for a beautiful session altogether. The Manhattan temple is really gorgeous and its even better when you're there with family.
I just think the inside of the library is so stunning. I love the white marble and the grand architecture.
We rode the subway a lot too- I really feel like the best way to get to know a city is to use their public transportation and its so true here in NYC.
On Sunday we had our ward's primary program, which was so fantastic. All of the kids were included and had something to speak or sing about. I loved the message and watching my own sweet kiddos sing their beautiful music. And, I love that my parents got to see it! It was also Kate's first program that she got to watch from the pews, as she turned 12 in June.
That night, we hosted a dinner group from our ward here in our apartment. We had 17 people over and it was definitely a tight fit- but nothing that the native New Yorkers present weren't used to! I'm sure we were more flustered about everyone having a seat than they were. We had such a good time getting to know the two families better and eating a yummy dinner together. My dad had to leave mid-meal to rush off to the airport to catch his flight. My mom stayed for one more day and we squeezed in a really touching visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I really, really loved it and could have spent many more hours there than what we had. We met Brian for a quick lunch (he works close to the museum) and then we headed home and got my mom ready to go for her flight later that day.
I loved having my parents here and celebrating my mom's birthday with her!
This was the coolest night! We didn't have much invested in the election as far as who won- mostly because we got disconnected from American politics while we lived in London. But, we decided last-minute (as in 10:30 PM) to head down to Times Square on November 9 to soak in all of the energy from that lively place. When we got to Times Square, the mood was lively and upbeat as it appeared that Clinton had a lead and would maintain it. We watched the ABC news anchors reporting through the glass walls and the running poll results being posted all over the surrounding buildings. The energy really was electric. We wandered through all of the major broadcasting stations that night and NBC at Rockefeller Center was next. While there were a lot of people around, you couldn't see much there, but the building itself was very patriotically lit for the occasion. I love how close everything is to Times Square- we didn't spend much time walking, but were able to see a TON of the action that night.
From NBC, we walked over to Fox News, where the mood and people were entirely different. I loved watching the famous broadcasters through the glass here on this historic night and trying to see what stations were calling what and seeing the different people all over the city. It was crazy cool!
We walked to the Hilton, where Trump had set up camp and by now it was clear that he had won the race. We wanted to be there when he declared the results, so we hung out for a long time right in front of the hotel. We were told to leave around 12:30 AM, so we went back to Times Square and ABC news, where the mood was decidedly different than it had been earlier that night. There was a somber acceptance of what was pretty clear by now. It was eerily quiet. By 1 AM, when we were told that Clinton had gone to bed (or whatever- I can't remember why there was such a huge delay in conceding), we decided to head home ourselves. We were so tired, but also so grateful that we decided to go out and witness this night.
Lots of interesting signs and people all over the city that night.
I don't think I ever remember a Fall being so beautiful. The colors on the trees in Central Park were really something else- every bright red, bright orange and bright yellow (my favorite!) shade were everywhere. I loved my morning runs when everything was blanketed in a layer of fog and you could just make out the buildings amongst the colorful trees. Gorgeous. Brian took the girls to Central Park one Saturday morning while I was busy. They had the best time playing soccer, running around and building fairy homes.
The bridges here are my favorite. I love how they bow up and are so ornate. Plus, the trees on either side!
The girls made these cute fairy salads...tomatoes and lettuce in an acorn bowl!
We love living so close to Central Park and just heading over when we need some fresh air and space to run around. It seriously is so stunning in the Fall- you could spend all day walking around and taking it all in. I love to go to the reservoir for the awesome view of downtown.
There is a market on 65th and Columbus (by our church) every weekend. They sell all kinds of baked goods, farm fresh produce and our favorite apple cider donuts. So yummy! We love where we live- so close to everything we need like school, the grocery store, and our church. We hardly ever have to use the subways because most things are really convenient to get to (or can be had with the click of a button online!). But, we love getting out and exploring new parts and seeing things in our neighborhood that we haven't discovered yet. There's always something new to find in New York City and Fall is our favorite season so far!
Our first Halloween in NYC was pretty awesome. We had some really cold weather for a day or two and then it warmed up again right around the 31st. It was perfect to walk around outside in. 69th Street is kind of famous for its Halloween decorations, so we walked up and down, weaving in and out of huge crowds and seeing tons of people from church. It made our side of town feel like a really small neighborhood- I loved it. The brownstones were unbelievably decorated- so much so, that they take donations to help offset the cost of it!
My two littler super heroes...love them so much.
Halloween is sort of becoming a week-long holiday with parties to go to well in advance of the actual day. With my affinity for chocolate, I am not complaining. Tessa had the cutest Halloween party at our church with her little friends where they played games and ate lots of yummy food. Then, we had our ward's trunk or treat in our building a couple of nights later. Seeing as almost no one in our ward actually owns cars, we used the different rooms in the building as our "homes". Brian and I signed up to man one of the doors and we pulled together some last-minute decorations. It ended up looking really cute (and spooky!). I wish we would've snapped a pic. I think the kids went around at least 6 times each and then gave up because we had tons of candy left over. Again, not complaining. ;)
Below are the pictures from 69th street, which had been blocked off for the night. It was so fun to people/costume watch!
After exploring 69th, we went to a friend's building with a few families and went trick-or-treating inside. This was a new experience for us because it was all indoors. Families who would like to have trick-or-treaters sign up ahead of time and post a note on their door so you know exactly who has candy and who doesn't. It makes it pretty easy and definitely safer! The kids had a ton of fun running around with their friends up and down floors collecting candy. What a fun first NYC Halloween!
We were pretty excited to get to NYC after living in limbo for about a month (even though that limbo was pretty awesome). However, I had NO idea how much work was ahead of us trying to get settled here and most days I'd give just about anything to go back to limbo mode. ;) But, here we are...and things are definitely starting to calm down a bit after a few weeks of non-stop work.
We flew into LaGuardia and because we had secured a one-week rental in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, we drove straight there. Almost forgot! On our flight in, the pilot must have at least twice circled downtown Manhattan on our descent when it was all lit up at night, and it was pretty magical. I sat by Lauren and her eyes were as wide as saucers and her mouth had the hugest smile. It was the best "welcome to New York" moment because you could see and recognize all of the iconic buildings and the city literally stretched out as far as our eyes could see.
Our rental was really tiny and totally eclectic and in the cutest area of Brooklyn. Because we had signed (sight unseen!) on a permanent rental on the Upper West Side right before moving to New York, we only ended up staying in Brooklyn for a couple of nights. We hauled a portion of our luggage on the subway and Brian and Tessa took an uber with the rest up to our place on the day we officially moved in. We also rented some furniture so we could live in our apartment before our stuff from London would arrive. However, our shipment got here so fast and we only needed the rental furniture for less than a week. It was crazy fast, especially compared to the 3 months that it took to get from Dallas to London!
When the packers brought our stuff in, there was the initial excitement of sorting, organizing and moving in (I know I'm weird, but I really enjoy unpacking and organizing). That didn't last long because it seemed like the incoming boxes were never going to stop and we were literally running out of room with boxes stacked up to the ceiling in almost every room! We moved into a smaller place than we were in in London and obviously couldn't leave anything there, so we had to bring it all here, despite the fact that we knew it wouldn't fit. Our couches wouldn't even fit through our front door, so we had to hire a separate company to take them apart, bring them inside, and re-assemble them in our living room. To be honest, I was having major anxiety about everything- so much that I literally had a nightmare about the movers bringing in more boxes in the middle of the night and even woke up with a migraine. Moving is no joke. In order to pare down our belongings, we donated boxes and boxes and boxes of everything that we didn't absolutely "need"- which ended up being a good exercise in understanding that there really aren't many things that you really, absolutely "need" when you really think about it. Most of our furniture was too big to work, so we ended up selling some, donating some and then buying some new things that would fit in our space. Ikea to the rescue (and subsequent Task Rabbit)!
After a few days of this moving madness, our good friends, the Davis's came to the rescue! They invited us on a NYC outing that included a visit to the New York Historical Society Museum, lunch at Sugar and Pimm's, and perfectly finished off with the most delicious ice cream at Emack and Bolio's. It was just what the doctor ordered. And, really, is there anything better than seeing a familiar face in a new city? The museum had the coolest movie on the history of New York City- which is something everyone that lives here should definitely see. We also saw a fantastic exhibit on the artwork of children's author, Mo Willems. Then, we ended in a really cool hands-on exhibit in the basement, where the kids could interact with items, videos and pictures from the earliest days of NYC. We then left to grab some lunch down the street and right after we crossed the street, we realized to our horror that Tessa was not with us. I almost had a heart attack...we've all had those moments when we think we've lost a kid and its enough to do a momma's heart in. I ran down the street screaming her name and asked people if they'd seen a little girl. I ran back into the museum to ask if they'd seen Tessa...nothing. Brian had been taking pictures of the day and I asked him if the picture he took as we were leaving the basement exhibit had Tessa in it. It didn't. I ran back into the museum and JT, along with the museum's security guard, were walking towards me with Tessa in hand. I almost burst into tears. I haven't been that scared in a really long time. So happy to have that sweet girl back in my arms.
Outside of our afternoon with the Davis family, our first few weekends were filled with checking things off of our mile-long to-do list. So, when we had finally whittled that list down to a manageable size, we decided to put it aside and finally get out, especially while the weather is still so nice! We went on the Big Bus Tour in the perfect Fall weather and were able to explore most of downtown all the way to South Street Seaport. But first, check out this gorgeous building above. Isn't that detail amazing?! One of the biggest differences between London and New York is the architecture. But, occasionally you get buildings like this here and they remind me of the gorgeous, old places we used to live by. I love it.
We've spent a lot of time in Central Park. Its less than 2 blocks from our apartment and has the best playgrounds plus running paths. Oh, and the most beautiful bridges and scenery! My favorite place to see the famous NYC skyline is from the Central Park Reservoir. Definitely a view unlike any other. Our sweet girls have adjusted to living here so fast and SO well. Its makes my momma heart so proud to see them starting a new school, making new friends, joining new soccer and gymnastics teams and not really missing a beat. They seem to really, really like it here and right now, there's not much more I could ask for than that. I haven't been the most patient person lately and they have just been as easygoing as they could be. I know I'll look back on this time as something really special and I'll definitely have them to thank for that.
Tessa munching on some snacks during our bus tour. Kate was away on a temple trip with all of the youth in our stake. She was able to go to the Hartford, CT temple open house...lucky girl.
The further downtown you get, the older the buildings get. I seriously loooove old buildings, so it made me happy to see so many altogether as we got closer and closer to the bottom of Manhattan. We hopped off the bus near Brian's office so he could give us a quick tour. Brian works in a gorgeous building really close to Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried. We then got back on the bus tour and continued on to Battery Park, where the much-anticipated Statue of Liberty is. Lauren has been begging to see her ever since we landed here and definitely we made her wait long enough! :)
After seeing Lady Liberty we walked around for a bit and ended up at the famous and stunning Seaglass Carousel, pictured above. Its kind of hard to describe how magical this carousel is. The fish wind around and up and down during the ride and the most beautiful music is playing- I'm pretty sure we could have watched and been mesmerized by it for a good long time. Pure magic in the middle of a huge, busy, crazy city. The carousel is in a glass-encased building, so you can see the massive skylines as you float around. Like I said, pure magic.
We rode the bus back uptown for a bit and then got out again at Chelsea Market so we could grab some yummy dinner. Afterwards, we walked around and then took the subway back home. It was such a perfect day and great introduction (and re-introduction for Brian and I) to this amazing city. Now we just have to figure out a way to make days like this happen more often!
Between the time we load our belongings on a boat to travel back to America and when it would actually arrive is usually about 6 weeks (although it took THREE long months to get from Dallas to London!), so we had some time to kill before we could plan on really moving in somewhere. Brian and I both really missed our Utah summers that we both grew up loving, so we decided to head to one of our favorite places for 3 weeks before we permanently move to the big city again. We hoped to spend time with friends, family and the mountains. And, happy to report, we did plenty of all three! Brian and I upgraded to Business class on the flight from Heathrow to DFW- which Brian earned by traveling a TON in the last year, and I feel I earned a little bit of too since I was husbandless for the better part of the last year. ;) The kids survived splendidly back in economy sitting by each other and loaded with food, games and movies. I don't even know if they came up for air. ;) We went back and checked on them a lot and our trusty Kate was holding down the fort quite well. We didn't watch much TV or movies in London, so they were definitely making up for lost time. Once landing in Dallas, Brian's awesome dad showed up with a big car and an even bigger trailer so we could haul all of our bags from the airport to their home. I then said goodbye to Brian and the kids and they headed off to their Nana and Papa's house while I boarded a flight to Utah to meet my sisters and mom for BYU Education Week. However, my flight kept getting delayed and by the time I finally made it to Utah at near to midnight, I had been awake for over 24 hours straight and was quite delirious (and emotional....sorry, Rebecca!). My twin sister, Rebecca, picked me up from the airport and we made it safely back to her house and I crashed...for a solid 4 hours. I woke up at 4:30 am wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, as they say, due to the time difference. Not a noise in the house and pitch-black outside, I got up and exercised in their basement to get my blood pumping for the fun day ahead. We got Rebecca's cute kiddos off to school and then drove down to BYU to meet my sisters for a full day of classes and eating, as we do at Education week. It was, as always, SO FUN to see my sisters and mom- most of whom I hadn't seen in over a year. We ate well and were taught even better and I left with some good sugar in my belly, some great lessons learned and some quality time with my hilarious sisters.
On Saturday morning, we all got up early (me at 5:30 am...progress!) and went on a long walk all around near my parent's cabin at gorgeous Sundance resort. We then saddled up for a yummy breakfast at Foundry Grill (if you ever get a chance to eat their biscuits and gravy, do NOT pass it up) and then we got ready for the day and headed up to a park in Salt Lake for a lunch reunion for my dad's side of the family. It's always fun to see aunts, uncles and cousins that you haven't seen in forever and catch up! Afterwards, Jenn and and Claire headed off to the airport and their homes while the rest of us went back to the cabin and stayed up way too late again talking. The next morning I went to church with Rebecca and her family, which is always fun because it totally throws people off that there are literally two people that look that much alike! Its kind of nuts. Brian and the kids flew in the next day and we all checked into our corporate housing apartment in Lehi- our home for the next little bit.
One day, we drove up to Alta Ski Resort to do the hike to Cecret Lake (pictured above and below). It was a gorgeous day for hiking and a beautiful drive up Cottonwood Canyon. The hike was really nice, and we packed a lunch along so we could picnic up there. I know I've said it before, but we just really love the mountains. And we've been pretty spoiled this year with all of the amazing mountains we've been able to see and literally walk on. This one was no exception.
While Brian and the kids were in Dallas, we had planned a little party for all of our kids' friends there. It was a highly anticipated event (at least on my kids' part) and they were beyond excited to see everyone after a year of being apart. Not quite as excited, though, as seeing their beloved grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins that still live in Texas. They are the family we have literally spent the most time with, and we have missed them so much. I know they had a ton of fun at the party and staying with their Nana and Papa for a few, very special days. We are so grateful that Brian's parents let this big crowd take over their pool and home for a few hours one night. It was definitely something my kids won't forget. They swam until they couldn't swim anymore and left with a lot of mosquito bites, but even more love! They even got to eat their favorite, Chick-fil-a, while they were there. They sure did miss that food!
Our first week in Utah, we packed with outdoor fun. We drove up to Bridal Veil Falls and walked down the gorgeous Provo River Trail. The fall colors were starting to pop a little and the canyon was incredible.
My mom and her sisters were in town and staying at the cabin, so we went up to see them one afternoon before they all left. We got to go on a walk with my mom and look for turkeys. That night, we all met in Park City for a yummy pizza dinner, where we also met up with Josh, Dagmar and their kids. The next few days were spent at our community pool swimming and spending time at the Boyle's and Bell's homes with cousins...a lot of time spent outside getting nice and dirty! We also took the kids to BYU a couple of times so they could see the campus that we love so much. We snuck in three BYU women's soccer games while we were there over the 3 weeks too.
The Bells fed us all a lot of good food and let us really take over their home at a moment's notice a ton during our time in Utah. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. ;) Our kids played so cute together and Rebecca is one of the best cooks around, plus has, as Lauren says, "the cutest baby ever", so we were never bored and never hungry. A good combo. We went to Seven Peaks together and we also went to the movies with Julie's kids one night. We even hit up the Museum of Natural Curiosity one day, which was so fun for the kids- I had to pull them out of there after almost 5 hours! We also all met up at Liberty Park in Salt Lake to let the kids run around altogether and then we had a picnic, followed by delicious Banbury Cross donuts. We even snuck a sleepover in on one or two nights. I'm telling you, these cousins spent a lot of quality time together. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Christian made us his famous kook-burgers one night, with all of the fixings, and they were amazing!! We all devoured them and would have eaten more, but we had to leave room for some s'mores, which we cooked in their fire pit after the sun went down.
Brian left for a week to go to Berlin for some work there. While he was gone, we got out a lot and took advantage of all there is to do around Salt Lake. One day, I took the girls all around Temple Square. We toured the conference center, the temple, the church history museum and City Creek mall. It was a really nice day. I love taking my kids to the temples, and this one is our very favorite. Afterwards, we met the Bells at their very fancy church ward party. They had bounce house slides and we even got to ride in a real-life hot air balloon. So fun.
One night, we met up with our good friends, the Poultons. Ally and John lived by us in Texas, but have since moved to Utah. I played soccer with Ally (who used to play for Utah State and is amazing!) and we served together in our church callings. I love her- she's one of those people that totally makes you want to be a better person. We met them up at Mueller Park, where we barbecued hot dogs and s'mores...so good!! We could have spent hours catching up after having not seen each other for so long. They are some of the best people I know.
One day, we headed up to Park City to do the alpine slides there, which is a must (an expensive one, albeit). It was a school day and the place was EMPTY, so we got to have the mountain pretty much to ourselves. We only had time for a couple of rides before they closed. It was such a beautiful day out...I probably enjoyed the lift up just as much, if not more, than the actual slide. These aspen trees that cover the mountains in Utah are so incredible.
We also got to spend a couple of days at my parent's cabin in Sundance. My dad, having just flown in from Palo Alto where he was helping Beau and Amy at their house, was able to meet and stay with us there too! It was really nice to have him around. We cooked hot dogs and s'mores in the fire pit out front on our first night and it was perfection. Kate was staying with Sofia and Lilian for one night at their home in Heber so she could go to school with them (which she loved!!), so I picked her up, hit up the grocery store for everything we needed, and we made it just as the fire was ready to start cooking. Ah, it was seriously so nice. The next day, we rode the lift up to the top of the mountains there and then hiked up to the summit and then rode back down. It was stunning. Brian's phone actually fell out on the lift somewhere without him knowing it, and we got a call the next day from a guy who had spotted it while riding 40 feet above, he hiked down, and called us so we could meet him and get it back. How nice (and lucky for Brian) was that?!
We took the Mandan Summit trail to the Mandan Short loop and hopped back on the chair lift down. These mountains are some of my favorites. And when the leaves are starting to turn gold and orange...so beautiful!
We went to church with the Bells every Sunday and hung out at their home for hours afterwards while the kids played and the adults talked. The prophet is in their ward, so we were able to figure out a way to meet him one afternoon as he was leaving. He let us give him high-5's and my girls loved it...something they certainly won't forget.
Taylor is totally convinced that she will one day play for the BYU Women's soccer team. She soaked up every second of their games and was so excited to high-5 them after the last game we saw versus Brian's alma mater, SMU. BYU smoked them 5-2, and it was really fun to be there- especially to see this girl's face light up here at the end.
Hot dogs and smore's were kind of a theme this trip. We had to American-ize ourselves again, right? ;) This was from our weenie roast at Sundance with my dad. We loved this night.
Our final day at Sundance, we drove the Alpine Loop to Cascade Springs, where we got out and explored. Once again, we had the place to ourselves because of school. It was so beautiful out. That night, we met up again with my dad and our cousins for a pizza dinner altogether before my dad had to leave town.
Our last night with the Bells at their house. I don't think my kids have ever been so baby hungry in their lives- even though Caroline looks upset here, I'm pretty convinced her self-esteem has never or will never be higher as it was during the time we spent there. She had her own personal 5-girl fan club and her feet never hit the ground. Eloise and Tessa were like two peas in a pod too. This was right before we had to say goodbye. Man, we had some really good times with the Bells over the last few weeks. We love this family so, so, so dang much. Wish we lived closer...one day we will.
It's been such a whirlwind these past couple of months; ending our time in London, transitioning back to the States, and now getting ready for our move to the Big Apple. It's still weeks before we'll be settled, but for now we're excited with our decision and look forward to our new adventure in another big city.
We leave for NYC tomorrow. We've found a really cool place in the Upper West Side of Manhattan- our new space will be small, but the area is one of our very favorites. We are a couple blocks from school, church, Levain, and Trader Joes :) - and Central Park is just down the street too. We've found a school for Lauren and Tessa, and our first item of business on Tuesday is finding a place for Kate. Everything has moved so fast, and we are really grateful for how most of the logistics have really just fallen into place. Even though we were heartbroken to leave London, we really feel like this is where we are supposed to be for now.
Brian is excited to start his new job, working at a startup near Wall St. Ever since serving his mission in NYC, its always been a dream of Brian's to live in this amazing place with his family, and now he's getting the chance.
Love this city ... so excited to call it home!