Archive for category traveling

Back home and daydreaming

So, I’m back!  Actually, I’ve been back since Saturday, but I’ve been busy trying to organize my thoughts, catch up on emails and shake this exhaustion.  My time at BlogHer was great, but my experience deserves a slew of posts of their own.

IMG_3103Since I’ve been back, the boys and I have been busy trying to get back into the swing of things.  While I was away, I heard Jeff and Jack had a great time bonding together.  They got along famously without me—no surprise about that.  But on the second day that I was gone, Jeff said that after we spoke on the phone, Jack got upset.  As in, he threw a tantrum and then was sort of blah the rest of the day.  It was as if the first day without me was a novelty, and then the second day was like, “um, mommy’s gone and this sucks.”  As much as I loved the idea of the two of them growing even more inseparable in my absence, I thought, for sure, Jack would forget me when I got back.  So glad that wasn’t the case.

While I was in Chicago, I missed the start of our church’s annual feast.  I know I keep saying things like this, but since this is probably our last summer here as Hoboken residents, attending the St. Ann’s Feast was so crucial for me.  I missed the first few days, including our favorite NJ shore band.  But alas, Jeff and Jack went to the free Friday night concert, and well, danced their butts off.  So, while I sipped my vodka cocktails, my boy danced his little butt off to The Nerds.  I loved that I was able to witness the hilarity via cellphone.

As sad as I was to leave the conference a day early (since I only had tickets for one day,) I was truly ready to come home.  The boys met me at the airport with their arms (and the little one’s mouth) wide open.  What a homecoming!  I know it was only 2 days, but I’m so glad I don’t have to travel solo that much anymore.

Jack and Jeff at St. Ann's

The guys and I had dinner at the feast, i.e., we had street meat and listened to some fun tunes.  Once again, Jack had a blast dancing and putting on a show for anyone who would watch.  This one, he loves an audience and performing—not sure where he got that from (Jeff).

On a somewhat related note, you know how we always say our town is a bit crooked? Funny how it’s all over the news now, what with our ridiculous mayor, by the way who wasn’t even in office an entire month, getting arrested for an FBI sting. But I love how our priest makes a “cameo” in the Times. It kind of sucks that the place we’ve been calling home for our entire married life, is tainted by more negativity. And to think, we’ve worked so hard just to be able to pay our taxes and be able to afford to live here, while we have elected officials pocketing bribe money and contributing to the laundry list of corruption…awesome, no?

As if we didn’t already have our minds made up, now, it’s really time to get out.

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IMG_3115Considering we haven’t hung out with anyone for months, Sunday was a much needed excursion to see our friends at a BBQ.  In between chasing and wrangling the Energizer toddler, I had fun catching up with friends and enjoying the glorious food. YUM and thanks J & M! You guys are the best host and hostess!  And like we always do after visiting these friends, we’re daydreaming more than ever.  But this time, some plans are in motion.  Well, sort of.  If you know what that means, you know why we’re excited, but still not getting our hopes up.  Lots more change upon the horizon…

Anyway, it’s good to be back.  Now, it’s time to focus on the Hawaii trip and the events surrounding it!  It’s never a dull moment around here.

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I’m leeeeeeeaving on a jetplane

After a bittersweet trip to Pennsylvania to attend Jeff’s late great uncle’s funeral today, we had to reshift our focus and do the 4.5 hour drive back to NJ.  All of three of us were exhausted, quite solemn and anxious—for different reasons.  After the funeral service, it was hard to just say, “Ok, let’s go!”

Inevitably, we left “on time,” in hopes of making my flight which was scheduled for 8:30.  As MY luck would have it, we hit torrential downpours and a few nice stretches of traffic.  Problem was, we didn’t really leave a window for the STUPID traffic.

STRESS.

All I could think was, I’ve been anticipating this trip for years/months/weeks/days and I’m going to miss it.

But because Jeff is awesome, he made it happen.  We arrived at the airport an hour and a half before my flight was scheduled to take off.

BUT…

Of course, my flight was delayed.  (It still is, as I type this!) *wah. wah.*

Provided that there aren’t anymore delays, I should be landing in Chicago in 2.5 hours.  And after that, it’s on.

I’ll be in BlogHer mode with no hubs, no kid–for the first time EVAH!

Wish me luck because I’m already missing my boys like crazy.

*chanting to myself, this is good.  This trip will be awesome.  Every mama needs some alone time.*

On that note, it’s time to board!

I'll Be Geeking Out

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Smelling the flowers

This email greeted me in my inbox a few weeks ago, but life has been too crazy to blog about it until now. Things haven’t slowed down, but instead, I’m taking the time to get to get back to basics and make myself write my thoughts out—the whole reason why I started blogging in the first place.

My Toddler This Week

Hello, Jen!
Have an hour to kill? Ditch the stroller and let your toddler lead you on a walk around the block. You’ll be amazed at how many times your curious explorer will stop to check out small objects such as an interesting rock, a dead leaf, or a parade of ants. Your toddler isn’t trying to drive you crazy by dawdling. To him, the journey is as exciting as the destination, and the small details of the world are irresistible.

Still trying to juggle all of this, I caught myself forgetting my priorities, and sometimes losing my temper because I just couldn’t be “bothered.”

All I could think about this email was, how appropriate!

The kid’s journey and my journey?  It’s all the same.  The main difference, however, is that we’re just trying to grasp the unique details of our world on the way to our destination.

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NKT, and the opportunities that are coming about because of it, has me constantly on the go. When some people ask what I “do” and then I tell them that I’ve transitioned to a blogger and freelance writer, I always get THE look: the facial expression that dispels my/our choice to leave my old job (that, btw, negatively affected every fiber of my being for years.) It’s also the look that says, “Oh, so, really, you’re just a stay at home mom that has a website.”

Sure, if that’s what you want to call it.

I kind of think of it as, I’m a mom, who together with her hubs, decided that taking a risk to follow my passion was invaluable. (with many, many sacrifices involved)  But also, I’m a mom that writes because it’s what I “do.”

Just like Jack dances and dances then runs and then explores?  It’s what he does.

But we do it, because it’s what’s right, it’s what makes us happy and it’s what makes sense.

As I get all caught up in the moment with this conference, travel plans, writing, blogging, networking, it’s easy to lose focus.  It’s easy to forget that I’m a mom with a kid who needs her FIRST.

As a reminder for myself: when he begs to explore and I resist because I’m worried about the repercussions, it’s not because he’s being irrational, but instead, it’s because the journey is as exciting as the destination.

smelling the flowers

We’ll get there—eventually.  But (literally) taking time to smell the flowers and pick up rocks?  It’s the most important part of the whole experience.

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Weekend escape to Governor’s Island

The best kind of weekends are the kinds where plans just sort of fall together, usually with little effort at all.  And if you’re like us, free weekends—or close to it—are even better.

On Saturday, my friend invited us to join her family on Governor’s Island for a relaxing day and picnic.  With no plans set in stone, I agreed.  Why not?  We’re always up for something new.  If it involves exploring the City, I’m always game.  The laundry? Yeah, that stuff can totally wait; there’s still so much to see.

After living in this area for over eight years, Governor’s Island was one of the many NYC spots I’d yet to visit.

The problem with getting to Governor’s Island for us would have been logistics, but thank goodness for the Internets.  On Friday night, I Googled “Ferry from Hoboken to Governor’s Island.”  And just my luck, I came across this.  We packed our lunch, the stroller and headed to the ferry slip to make our way to Governor’s Island.

On the ferry

At just 800 yards away from lower Manhattan, Governor’s Island once served as an Army and Coast Guard Base.  In 1996, the island was mothbolled and went dark.  But like New Yorkers do, City Officials sought to maximize every square inch.

Aerial View of Governors Island

In 2003, the Government sold the 172 acre Island to New York for $1.00.    And they say you can’t buy anything for $1.00 anymore!

Ninety-two acres of the island, which is said to be about 22 city blocks tip to tip, is now devoted to public open spaces—picnics, car-free bike riding, historic tours and just like Saturday, festivals and cultural events.

Hanging at a hammock in the picnic areaadirondack chairs overlooking bridge
picnicviews of Lady Liberty
one of many bikesexploring

We picnicked and hung out with my friend and family for a few hours.  It was so nice to sit in the shade, let the breeze blow and listen to the kids play.  The picnic area was on the southern tip of the island, which overlooked the Statue of Liberty. But when it came time for the kid’s nap, we knew we had to intervene in order to preserve his happy state.  So, we strapped him in the stroller and set out to explore Governor’s Island.

map

Asleep within 2 minutes of our stroll, we walked the perimeter of the island and saw tons of people fishing, biking, laying out, picnicking and doing the exact same as us, relaxing with no real agenda.  We found our way back to the middle of the island, where we found the festival.

fish wishesIMG_2786kiddie art
Little Matissesculpting

The free ferry that was offered from Hoboken to Governor’s Island was a part of Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance second annual City of Water Day Festival.  As an eco-concious family, the City of Water Day Festival was just our speed.  The festival had various vendors and exhibits set up that celebrated the NY waterfront.  Whether it was sailing or composting, the festival likely had a stand set up discussing it.  There were tons of food vendors that were a mile long.  It turned out several of the food vendors were taking part in the annual Vendy awards.  No wonder people willingly waited in those lines!

IMG_2800compost, recycle, trash

When the kid finally woke up, we checked out the kid’s art tent, which was set up by the Children’s Museum of the Arts.  Jack “sculpted” and played kiddie Matisse, as evidenced by his t-shirt that left a bit more colorful than when we arrived.  We could’ve stayed at the art tent for hours, but alas, there was so much more to see!

IMG_2754old barracks and office buildings

We explored more of the festival and listened to music, but then found ourselves walking around the Island again and checking out all the placards explaining the former uses for the old buildings and even stopping for a moment to enjoy a much newer amenity the NY Water Taxi “beach.“  With such sweeping views of Manhattan, as well as the Hudson River, it was so hard to believe that the Island was left vacant for several years.  Jeff had a great time learning about the old history of the island, some of which dates back to the 1800s.  And I bet if you asked him about what he took in about the island, Jeff could rattle off random trivia, just like he would about anything else that interests him.

Such as this: Using rocks and dirt from the excavations for the Lexington Ave. Subway, the Army Corps of Engineers supervised the deposit of 4,787,000 cubic yards of fill on the south side of Governors Island, adding 103 acres of land by 1912, and bringing the total acreage of the Island to 172.


A picnic with friends, a break from the hustle and bustle, exploring in wide open spaces and a low-key day with the family, Governor’s Island was a perfect excursion for us.  We all got to do something that interested us, but the best part was enjoying another city day without any concept of time.

Lower Manhattan

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Taking one for the team

It’s hard to believe that this week is already over!  Well, just about…

Thank God.

Inundated with website stuff and other projects, I’ve been an overwhelmingly busy week.  It’s a good thing, but most of the work and late nights I’ve been pulling are favors.  Such is life.

Poor Jack has been bored since I’ve been way too busy to play/read in the mornings.  But hopefully, this weekend will make up for it.

This afternoon, after a planned trip to the Liberty Science Center, the three of us are yet again trekking down to Va. Beach.  The boys are very excited.  Me, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing our family, but all the timesharing of our visits usually becomes a major debacle.  Between everyone’s work schedules, family plans, weekend obligations, it never fails, there’s always someone we don’t get to see.

Oh, and seeing friends? haha.  Social hour with friends, it seems, is a distant memory.  The emails and phone calls don’t even come anymore…sadly, they know what we’ll be doing all weekend.

While we sit in traffic and dodge craziness, we’ll also be missing out on the amazing fireworks here in the NYC area.  This year, the fireworks return to the Hudson—just footsteps away from our doorstep.  And we’ll be missing out.  Not so surprisingly, Jeff is glad.

I don’t have a say anymore.

And so, I’ll pack our bags again, try to locate all the pieces to my projects that I’m working on, pray that we miss traffic, hope our little passenger doesn’t get carsick and make our way down the turnpike.  Again.

Even as I begrudgingly pack that car with a rowdy toddler ignoring my pleads to SIT STILL, in the end, hearing him laugh with his Lolo and watching him water the plants with Lola makes it worth all the effort and eye rolls.

Because, you see, it’s not about me anymore.

Maybe one long weekend, I’ll stay here by myself to relax.  Nah, that would involve me having fun.

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WW: Beach boys

Beach Boys

Literally growing up at the beach, I envision the kid sharing the same love both Jeff and I have for the surf and sand. Like some parents drop off their kids at the mall, our parents dropped us off at the beach—all summer long. Oh, the memories.

Even though it isn’t quite the same as back home, LBI is still breathtaking and relaxing, especially without all the tourists. I love the beach in the offseason–the uncrowded beaches, barren boardwalk, undisturbed sand and landscape, gentle waves, cool breezes and the gorgeous weather. Everything always seems so untouched and completely brand new, especially in the early morning daylight, just like in this picture.

Living so far away from family, it’s always nice of Jeff’s uncle and family to include us in special weekends like this. (a big, huge thank you as always, guys!) And though they may not agree right now, the good times our kids have together are absolutely priceless.

For a quick second, I’m rethinking this whole city living thing.  But then again, the beach is always nice to visit.

Ok, second’s over :)

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Easter fun and the crazy things we do

After a nice and relaxing week in good ol’ Virginia Beach, Jack, Jeff and I are back in the saddle—well, we’re trying at least.  Per usual, our bags still need to be unpacked and toys are strewn about, but I’ll get to them.  I’ve got more important things to do like launch a website :)   And by the way everyone, thanks again for your support on spreading the word, commenting, Facebooking and the general pimping.  The feedback has been incredible so far!  Thank you!

Aside from my reluctance to abandon our routine, last week ended up being a nice change of pace.  I hated being so immobilized without a car and having opposite schedules than all of my friends who are on spring break THIS week.  But it was nice to sit and work without any major interruptions, or having to dig food out of anyone’s nose, or scolding someone for climbing atop tables.  Jeff gets really unruly these days. haha. just kidding.  Jack is a handful, but he is also the sweetest, lovey boy.  Except when he breaks things.  Ooops!
eggs
Easter, itself, was such a beautiful and hectic day.  As usual, we were running late to church and arrived to a parking lot that was so packed, traffic had to be directed to control the chaos.  The actual church was standing room only.  We stood shoulder-to-shoulder for a good portion of the mass, that is, until Jack decided to let everyone know—quite loudly—that he was hot, hungry and over it.
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The rest of the day was spent Easter Egg hunting and chasing uncles and making grandparents laugh.  With us being so far away, I cherish the holidays because we all actually sit down to eat and talk and laugh.  I hope to continue fostering those special family traditions to balance out the crazy dysfunction.  We even took the time to enjoy “family” programming—Stepbrothers.  Because nothing says “family” more than laughing at a pair of manchilds when the storyline hits so close to home :)   There’s nothing like a full house, filled with laughter and delicious food.

Like most trips, the main caveat to all the family fun is always the havoc wreaked to our non-existent sleeping patterns.  Let’s see, of the entire week last week, Jack slept through the night only one night.  Every other night, if he wasn’t crying himself to sleep (my family is convinced he does this every night. I promise, it’s NOTHING like this here at home.) he was waking up boycotting sleep all together.  Awesome.

Last night was no exception.  Since we got home at about 1am, we had to wake Jack up to bring him inside.  Guess who was a bit upset by this?  You guessed it!  And since he was a screaming like a banshee, and Jeff needed to go to bed after a weekend full of driving, Jack and I retreated to our big blue chair.  It’s comfy, but not THAT comfy!  The sleeplessness never ends.

Oh and how about this picture?  After the crazy day at church, this is what I said to my family before they took Jack out in his white shirt to roll around in the mud and give him pots of water to play with,  “All I want is ONE decent picture in his Easter Sunday outfit.  Just one.”

THIS is what I get.
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And it rocks because it’s so Jack.

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90 reasons to celebrate

In the hustle and bustle that is life, gatherings with extended family inevitably, diminish as the years go by.  Undeniably, we all promise that we’ll visit, but never get around to it like we had hoped. We can hardly find the time to write a 3 sentence email and hit send, nevermind pick up the phone as often as we should. Text messages have replaced the long lost art of written correspondence as the chosen method of communication. In the age of social networking, not surprisingly, we find out about major milestones through Facebook wall postings. And, as they say, family only gets together for weddings and funerals.

This weekend, that wasn’t the case.

Jeff and Jack with the birthday boy

We had the chance to visit with Jeff’s dad’s side of the family. And this time it was neither a wedding or a funeral. In celebration of Jeff’s great uncle’s 90th birthday, we gladly set aside our social calendar, packed ourselves into the car and headed to Central Pennsylvania–in the middle of a hectic rainstorm with whipping winds, no less. In addition to the main celebration, Jack got to meet his namesake, among others. But for the most part, it was a day for extended family to celebrate, reminisce and catch up with one another on a high note, and for us to stand back and take part of something quite special—something that we can only hope to achieve.


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Pink strollers, Happy the Hibachi guy and cousin fun

As a result of inexplicable early morning wakings and the usual mischief, by the end, I could easily categorize last week as probably one of my most difficult weeks as a mom so far.  By Friday, I was so done—like, completely fried.  But, a quick trip to go see family in southern NJ couldn’t have been planned at a better time.

On Saturday, we went to visit cousins in Manahawkin.  Jack is right in the middle age-wise of Karen and Nick’s girls, Katarina (3) and Madeline (8m), so it was too cute to watch the 3 interact.  In between pushing the pink strollers, shopping cart, dragging and then feeding the baby dolls, Jack made sure to make their toybox explode, much like he does at home.  I’m assuming that because Katarina and Madeline’s toys were a bit different from what Jack is used to, he felt the need to play with every single doll, shopping cart and play food. (So sorry, guys!)  When he wasn’t darting off in every different direction, Jack made sure to get in some quality time with the fam.  Jack was snuggly with Karen and made himself comfortable in her lap.  He made sure to share kisses with sweet Madeline and sneak in a few hugs with Katarina when she least expected.  Besides my child terrorizing the calmness of their home, it was fun to watch the 3 kidlets play and laugh together, especially since they’re Jack’s only cousins in NJ!

The 3 kids playingJeff "selling" the ipod Touch to KarencousinsKaren, Jack and Madeline

While the kids played, the parents played with their own toys–the electronic gadget kind!  Jeff shared his love of his iPod with Nick and Karen!  We capped off the visit with a trip to a fun Hibachi restaurant.  Well, it started out fun until Jack crashed and burned before Happy the Hibachi guy could even cook up the fried rice!  Because Jack boycotted an afternoon nap to maximize his time to terrorize his cousins and all of their toys, I was foolish to think he could last until after dinner.  Hahaha. Who was I kidding!!?  On the bright side, since my whiny, uncooperative child needed to be excused from the table, he helped me refrain from shoving the entire heaping plate of food in my mouth!  When it was time to leave, we were barely out of the parking lot and Jack was practically asleep.

After a chaotic week at our house, family time is exactly what we all needed!  Jeff always tells me he hopes that Jack gets to experience the fondness and closeness of his cousins, just like he did with his PA cousins!  As soon as the kids get over that “he’s touching me” phase, I’m sure they’ll be heckling one another through whatever is the equivalent of Facebook when they get older–at least, one can hope!  :)

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Sneak peek of spring

Yesterday slidingwas a gorgeous day for us, and from what it sounds like, spring was in the air for many others as well. Jack and I left our big poofy jackets and gloves at home, unzipped the Bundle Me and spent several hours outside. We hit the park TWICE, had lunch and attempted to get some parking pass stuff fixed at the parking utility. Being outside in the sun and warmth made a big difference in our day; I felt much more productive, sociable and considerably happier—well, besides wanting to karate chop the lady at the parking utility. But, I digress…

Even though we officially have several more weeks left of winter, I’ll take one day of warmth and sunshine over none at all. I have a long list of places to go see once the weather is warmer. I can’t wait!

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I’m finishing up last minute details on the new website and have recently made more contacts with a few more companies. I really can’t wait to get things rolling, which will be very, very soon! Speaking of getting things rolling, we’re heading out to Va. again tomorrow for yet another whirlwind weekend. This time, we’ll be home for a shower that I’m helping “host.” ;)

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