Just a Walk in the Park & Another Cupcake

Last week was sort of a whirlwind because like I said before, we've been trying to do everything outside while the weather is still nice, and starting Nov 1st, life is about to get crazy! Zack is flying home to Utah the first weekend, I'm flying to Chicago the second weekend, my very oldest friends are coming up the third weekend, and Thanksgiving is the fourth weekend!! Then of course December is like the craziest month of the year as always! But, I've been missing family and friends so this craziness is definitely welcomed!

Zack decided we needed to get the unlimited metro card (to ride busses and subways as many times as we want), and I finally agreed. So, now that we've spent the money I feel like I need to put it to good use and use it everyday! We bought it last Wednesday, so Thursday I was going to go meet Zack for lunch after his morning class and then we were going to go to the Central Park Zoo. We have been dying to take Gunner to the zoo (I don't know why. He probably could care less about animals right now.) This was my first time traveling downtown all by myself so I was pretty nervous!

Usually we walk about a mile to the subway stop, but now that I have an unlimited metro card, why wouldn't I take the bus right from my apartment?!? The only problem with that is I have to collapse my stroller to take it on the bus (which we don't do on the subway). So I strapped Gunner to my chest in the baby bjorn and pushed my stroller down to the bus stop and then tried to collapse it and carry it on with all my other stuff. (I couldn't carry my real camera all pics are from our cell phones! :( ) I was quite a sight. Luckily, a very kind woman saw my struggle and carried my stroller for me. Once I got to the subway stop, I realized there were no Manhattan bound trains stopping at our station all week long because of construction. What the heck!?!? So I had to get on the North Bound train ride it all the way up passed the construction, then get on a Manhattan bound train. It was very confusing and too eventful for my first day traveling solo!

The hardest part about traveling alone is having to get my stroller up the stairs when a subway station doesn't have an elevator. I had put Gunner in his stroller for the subway ride, but was regretting it as I jerked the him up, one stair at a time! Another nice soul took pity on me and helped me carry the stroller up the stairs. (Who says New Yorkers are mean?!?) Hahaha I was a little embarrassed, but I'll get this all figured out one day!

Zack had invited a friend to lunch, so it ended up lasting a bit longer than expected, but it was fun to get to know one of Zack's school friends! We didn't get to central park until almost 4 and the zoo closed at 5 so we decided to try again another day. But, with the sun still up we had plenty more of the park to explore (after all the park doesn't close until 1 am).

We walked over towards the Bethesda fountain and terrace. This is probably one of the most recognizable places in the city! They say it's the most filmed part of Central Park. It's really beautiful, but they were setting up a haunted house while we were there so there was all sorts of junk in the way! But the fountain and terrace sit right on the edge of the lake where you can rent row boats and take gondola rides. We'll definitely be doing that in the spring time! 

As we walked through the park the fall leaves took my breath away! I'm sad we didn't get up north to see the New England country side, but Central Park will do! 

I was sort of obsessed with this tree!!!

On our walk back to the subway we decided to take a quick detour to Crumbs Bakery! They are super famous for their big giant yummy cupcakes! I got the pumpkin and Zack got the Thin Mint (omg!!!!) We devoured them! Those cupcakes didn't stand a chance. We found out the next day that Crumbs doesn't even bake their own cupcakes.... What a let down... But they sure were yummy! Do you remember the last time we got a cupcake and I was so excited to share it with Gunner... and he slept through it? Well this time he was wide awake, and he LOVED IT!!!

It ended up just being a laid back, stroll through the park, kind of day! But the pictures with the leaves and he fountain are priceless. We are not going to know what to do with ourselves once the winter hits! We spend 90% of our time outside when we're downtown. We need some good indoor ideas to add to our bucket list! 

I'm in heaven.


Best Friends, Bubble Tea, & Boats

Lately we've been trying to do everything fun outside before the weather gets too bitter! So I feel like I'm so behind on writing about our adventures!!! A few posts ago I mentioned that we went to brunch and spent an afternoon with my friend Ellen! It was the same day we went to the arsenal game in a pub!

Gunner and I had left during halftime to have brunch with one of my very best friends Ellen! Ellen and I have been best friends since 5th grade! She was even my maid of honor! We used to have a band together called 2cute and we wrote two songs ("We're 2Cute" and "I want you, I need you, I gotta gotta gotta Got 2 have you") and we could both sing you the lyrics right this second, but I'll spare you! It is so cool that we actually live in the same city now! I dont see her near as much as I'd like, but we live just about as far apart as possible within city limits and she's pretty busy with her fancy NYC life! Hahaha, but really it was a blast to spend a few hours with her and catch up on each other's lives and celebrate her Birthday!

We went to this awesome brunch place called The Smith! I had Vanilla Bean French Toast with Carmelized Bananas...YUM!!! She had this yummy something with potato waffles, poached eggs, and spinach sauce! I felt very fancy going to brunch! 

Zack met us just as we finished brunch and we decided to walk towards Chinatown! This was our first time in Chinatown, but apparently we were only like two blocks away when we were in little Italy! We also meandered through little Japan, which was very sentimental since that's where Ellen and I became friends! (Real Japan... not Little Japan!!)

Chinatown is awesome! Seriously, most signs are written in Chinese, 90% of the people were Chinese. I felt like little Italy was just a tribute to Italian food and culture, but Chinatown seriously felt like a pocket of China in the middle of America!

We stopped for some bubble tea (have you ever had this?!? If not, you must!!). Bubble tea is basically any kind of yummy drink, tea, juice, lemonade, milk, and they add these weird ooey gooey chewy tapioca pearls! It may not sound appealing, but it is! I had the honey lemonade which was probably my favorite thing I've ever had! This place soaked their bubbles in honey so they were extra sweet! It was delicious!

We also stopped at an Asian bakery called TaiPan Bakery! It was really cool and crazy cheap! Especially for New York! We got egg custards and vanilla cakes! The vanilla cakes were decorated like a panda! Classic! The cake was delicious! And the flakey crust of the egg custards were divine!

Gunner was getting a little antsy in his stroller so we headed toward the nearest park. Most of the little parks around manhattan look pretty much the same. But not this one! This park was packed with elderly Asian people! Ellen said it's where they do their excercise! I'm pretty bummed we missed seeing that. While we were there all of the tables were set up with people playing some sort of tile game! You could tell which games were most competitive because there were people surrounding tables cheering and gasping and laughing (and maybe some arguments)! What I wouldn't give to understand what was happening!

This is where we parted ways with Ellen, but not before taking some cute pics!

We found a grassy patch and let Gunner stretch his legs and crawl around which he loved! There were some guys playing soccer near us and Gunner was just mesmerized! Zack is sure it means he's meant to be a soccer player!

We didn't have specific plans after that so we figured we'd explore a few new parts of Central Park! We entered from the south and walked along the East side (stopped to grab a pretzel, spoiler: they taste like cardboard) which led us past the zoo and towards the conservatory water! The conservatory water is a small pool/pond where people rent remote control sailboats. Originally it was a natural water lily pond, but was later reshaped and modeled after the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris!  I think they have races there too, but maybe I just think that because of Stuart Little.

I thought for sure Gunner would be captivated by the boats..but not so much! He was more interested in trying to eat the crunchy leaves on the ground. But nonetheless, it was beautiful scenery and beautiful weather! What more could you ask for! 

The weather is getting cold so fast and I'm trying to figure out how to keep Gunner warm enough without overheating him! It feels like a delicate balance! Any tips are always appreciated! 



What 8 Months of Motherhood Taught Me

Gunner turned 8 months last week and its got me feeling sentimental! This little person that my world revolves around has only been in my life 8 months! It feels like he's so big and grown up and like he's been here forever, but 8 months sounds like such a short period of time. 2/3 of a year doesn't seem a sufficient amount of time to hold so many memories and so much joy!

Being a mother has been a defining time for me! I feel like no previous definitions of myself have ever been enough. I've always found joy in being a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, especially a wife! I've been a student, a chef, an athlete, an employee.  But now, I am a MOTHER! My purpose is so clear. THIS is what I was always meant to be! All those other things were just stepping stones, building blocks, teaching me how to do this! How to be a mom! 

When I look at Gunner, (usually when he's sleeping because its the only time he's sitting still long enough) I can't believe his perfect little soul has been entrusted to me! How did I get so lucky?? But I guess I'm not lucky. I'm blessed! I say all the time "I thank God everyday for this or that", but seriously I thank Him more than once a day for Gunner! Not only for who he is, but who he has made me! 

I remember when Gunner was first born, like a week old, I called my mom crying. I was so in love with every second of Gunner I didn't want him to change one bit! I told her, "Mom! He's changing so quickly! I'm so sad! I don't want him to ever leave this stage!! Please tell me the next stage is this sweet too!" And she said, "Sally! It's even sweeter! And the one after that, sweeter... And after that, sweeter! It gets better and better!" And guess what! As always... She was right! (I love having such a wise mother!) 

I've been reflecting on this conversation a lot recently because Gunner has now entered this new stage where he's really independent and wants to play and climb and chew and throw tantrums and I rarely get a moment of sweet, quiet snuggles (while awake)! All of the sudden he has his own agenda and opinion. It's been the first time since he was born that I've struggled with how to be his mom! It's the first stage that I've doubted my own mother's words! I miss the cuddles and everything, but more than that I'm scared.. More like terrified! I feel like I have to watch him every second  and chase after him and how do I encourage him to discover and try new things without allowing him to roll off of everything he climbs on! Am I subconsciously teaching him something that will scar him for life? Am I being too protective? Not protective enough? How am I supposed to know?!?

Up until this point I've just relished in an easy-going baby who was always either eating or sleeping. All I had to do was smile at him and he smiled right back! As long as he had a full belly he was happy. Easy peasy. But nowadays, he's so curious and needs adventure and to explore every nook, cranny, and ledge (which I realize is a good thing), but I'm exhausted by like 9 am! He wants to eat EVERYTHING I eat (well, mostly everything he sees) and does not want to be still long enough to get dressed, undressed, or his diaper changed! What I'm saying is, in this current stage, in the midst of the chasing, and falling, and wrestling it can be hard to see the sweet! I have to really work for my snuggles now! Which (here comes my mom's I-told-you-so) I have realized makes them even sweeter! 

There are days when Zack gets home, I hand over the baby and go sit on my bed for fifteen minutes to decompress and these are some of my favorite moments. I sit on the bed trying to relax, and I miss him! I can hear him and Zack playing and laughing and he's chatting and banging his blocks on the wall and I kid you not, I just want to go out there and scoop him up an squeeze him and kiss him and tell him how he's my favorite boy in the world. It only takes a few minutes away from him to snap out of it and recognize how blessed I am to be his mom! 

Seeing him roll out of my bed or face plant into the wall is just as painful for me (maybe more), but I'm realizing I can't prevent every bump and bruise! It's so hard to be constantly chasing him down and trying to catch him as he loses his balance, but without him getting a few booboos I would miss out on the times he tightens his arms around my neck and buries his face into my shoulder when I pick him up; I'd never see that in me he finds comfort and relief! Who knew I could contain the secret remedy to his entire spectrum of booboos!? I've never been able to heal anyone's pain the way I can heal his. I never saw that in myself. Becoming a mother brought that out in me! 

I have these overwhelming moments every night as I put him to sleep and he lays so quietly and sweetly in my arms! Maybe I'm an emotional mom, but sometimes I tear up because I can't believe how beautiful this little boy is. And he's mine! How did I get so blessed to be his mom?!? Sometimes I don't want to put him down. I just hold him for an hour or so because there is nothing more wonderful than a sleeping baby (its like holding a tiny piece of heaven) especially after a day full of bumps and bruises and tantrums and wrestling! You know how they say that once you hold your newborn baby you forget all about pregnancy and labor? Well that's how I feel at the end of everyday! Once he's asleep in my arms, I forget all about the low points of the day and I can't wait to do it all again in the morning!

Being a mother has taught me more than I could outline in a few paragraphs. Mostly it has just changed me profoundly. In motherhood I find divinity... and nobility! I feel empowered and fulfilled! Some people may see motherhood as an obligation, or even unnecessary! But for me, this has been the greatest privilege of my life! It's a messy and stressful and sometimes thankless job, but I'd NEVER trade it for anything! 

I'm grateful for a mother and sister's whose examples and wise words have brought me great peace and direction! I'm thankful to the many women in my life who have been examples to me! Whether mothers or not, I am constantly humbled and amazed by their love, hard work, and perseverance! My life is not always easy, or pretty, and its almost never glamorous. But I can say with complete honesty, I believe it is perfect. 

I hope that what ever you are doing with your life, I hope you find purpose in it! I believe everyone should feel important and absolutely necessary in the things they devote their lives to! Not to mention we should each immerse ourselves into things that bring us immeasurable joy! For me, that's motherhood! If you haven't found your niche, your purpose, I sincerely hope you do! 

Now here are some highlights of my first 8 months of motherhood! 

Happy 8 months to my sweet baby boy! I love you!


A 'Football' Match, a Sticky Floor, and a Blind Pig

For those of you who don't know much about my husband Zack, theres one thing you must know. He loves soccer! Or as he likes to call it, football. More specifically he LOVES the Arsenal Gunners (in London). You probably think, okay, yeah i get it he supports this team. But let me repeat...HE LOVES this team. As in: wakes up at 4 am to watch games, cries after a big loss, screams and dances after a good goal, names his first born child after them...that kind of love.

As you can imagine, he has always dreamed of going to see a match; however, thats not really in the cards for us... maybe EVER. But, when we moved to NYC I started looking for people who support the team and watch it together and found this group called the NYC Arsenal Supporters. Catchy right? Well, they all get together in this pub downtown and wear their jerseys and drink their morning beer and shout profanities at the TV (you know, just regular British stuff!). Seeing as we don't do most of those things, I don't know what made me think this would be a fun thing to do as a family (other than the fact that it would make Zack's week.. maybe month!)

So, we woke up early to get down to the pub by the 10 am kick off (luckily they were a late game this week!) We all dressed in our Arsenal garb and jumped on the subway towards The Blind Pig (I really don't get pub culture). On the subway ride down we were treated to both a Mariachi band a group of cranky old men gospel singers trying to make some extra cash. Subway rides are NEVER Dull!

We arrived a few minutes after the game started and to be honest I wasn't sure they were even going to let me in with my precious little child... but they did! They even rearranged some chairs and people to make room for my "pram." We strapped Gunner to Zack's chest and weaseled our way to the back of the pub where there was a little extra room. It was dark and hot and loud and crowded, everything Zack had imagined! Seeing as we don't drink, I never would have seen myself going to a pub... better yet, bringing my baby to a pub. The things we do for love! Haha!

The walls were lined with TVs and projectors, mostly showing the Arsenal game, but a few showing some other teams in the league. You could seriously cut the tension in this place with a knife! The glee that was on Zack's face the entire way to the pub quickly faded to a familiar, serious, tense, focussed, nervousness that matched all the other fans around us! The crowd Oohed and Aaahed and shouted "Rubbish" in unison! If I'm being completely honest, the gasps were contagious! The atmosphere was electric! The tension just kept building and building as everyone in the room was willing the team to score! Then.. the moment I had been dreading (for Gunner's sake) came in the 18th minute when Jack Wilshere scored a magnificent, brilliant, bloody beautiful goal and the pub exploded.. erupted with cheers and songs and excitement. Gunner was... TERRIFIED. hahahaha this poor kid was seriously disturbed. He calmed down quickly though, but I decided I'd better hold him so I could cover his ears every time the ball got close to the goal.  

Obviously there were no available chairs or tables, so I decided to sit down on the floor... I know! This was not one of my proudest moments. Sitting on the dirty sticky floor of a downtown pub, snuggling my infant son. Even one of the waitresses was grossed out and brought me a stool from the back. 

The converstaions I over heard were absolutely priceless. I heard two men discussing whether or not Mikel Arteta wears eyeliner becuase "nobody has eyelashes that thick!" You be the judge.. 

I do have to admit, I much prefer watching the game in my jammies snuggled up on my couch; but, I'm glad we went! It was a fun cultural experience and I know Zack loves to see other people who share his deep passionate love for The Arsenal! It probably was the only time I'll ever set foot in a pub, so it was an experience worth having! I wish Zack would have written about this because I'm sure for him it was this amazingly fun, life-changing experience, but for Gunner and me we were sort of counting down to our half time get away!  Gunner and I snuck out to go have brunch with my friend Ellen and I'll have to write about that later this week! It was so fun to see her and we explored some new parts of town! 

Okay for all my mom friends... well mostly all my friends with any sort of good judgment you're probably cringing at the thought of us taking Gunner into this bar! But, it really was more like a rowdy restaurant than a bar!  I promise it was a safe and smoke-free place! Once again, another slice of New York City that was brand new, unlike anything else we've experienced! I'm just waiting for a day when I'll go somewhere or experience something for a second time! Hahah! I am slowly and gradually getting used to the hustle and bustle, the public transportation, and the wild energy that seems present through the entire city! It may be a little early to say this, but I'm almost starting to feel like a real-life New Yorker!

Love you guys!!!


Bonjour Bebe!

Last year Zack's parents spent some time in Europe and while in Paris they picked out this amazing little outfit! They gave it to us months before Gunner was born and I have been counting down until the day it fit him!

Well folks, that day has finally come! I present to you oui oui bebe!!! 

I can't say Gunner was a huge fan of the beret but over all I was dying every second he was wearing it!! Now if only I could freeze time so he'd never grow out of it!!

Thanks Nana and Papa for one of the cutest outfits this boy has ever worn! 



A Nap in Central Park

Yesterday's weather was sort of unbelievable! It was like the most lovely sweater weather, the air was crispy and cool with a light breeze; the sky was blue and the sun was shining! We decided to bundle Gunner up becuase he's never experienced temperatures below 70 degrees!

We left the apartment after lunch for Zack to get to the temple with our ward from church!  While he was in the temple, Gunner and I were just going to wander around town until he was done! 

First we went shopping because... Well why not? We went into one of our very favorite stores called Century 21. It's basically a TJMaxx or Nordstrom Rack except they have fancy designer stuff as well as normal brands! I went because I'm looking for a winter coat for Gunner, which is proving difficult!! what? Do most people not take their infants out on the town in the snowy weather?!? Well I'm planning on doing it and I need a good coat for him! So after sifting through all the Dolce&Gabana and other discounted $200 baby coats I left the store with some socks, jammies, and 2 AMAZING pairs of blue jeans for the boy! I also got him this stuffed animal that he is CRAZY about. I've never seen him get so excited about a toy! So I didn't get what I was looking for... But I got some other great stuff! 

When we got back into the street the heavenly weather just spoke to me and I decided it was a perfect day to spread out a blanket in Central Park and people watch! We wandered in and walked down a few seperate paths until I found this spot of grass in the shade of some trees. It was right between a baseball field and a surprisingly competitive game of adult kickball...I'm not joking! There was a group of about 30 adults playing a rather exciting game of kickball! So we spread out the blanket, kicked off our shoes and sprawled out!
As we laid there I was just looking around and could just see peeks of the surrounding skyscrapers between the branches!  The afternoon was so relaxing that Gunner drifted off and took a sweet little nap!

It was one of those surreal moments! I was seriously overwhelmed by my own reality! I can't believe I'm living this life!! This is MY life?!? It's probably not the life that I would have chosen, but as with all the best things in my life it's exactly what I didn't realize I needed! It's exactly perfect for me at this time in my life! I'm so grateful for a God who knows me and understands me better than I know myself!

Here are a zillion pics from Gunner and my afternoon in the park!

Once Zack was done we decided to head down to Times Square! All I can say is what a contrast!! Maybe Times Square was so overwhelming because I had just come from this heavenly oasis of nature and peace in Central Park... But to be honest I just don't get the hype about Times Square! Although, Carly was telling me about why they love it and I think if I wasn't pushing my tiny little baby in a stroller through the crowds of people, over strangers toes and through peoples smoke clouds,maybe I would have enjoyed it too! They have the GIANT Disney store and Toys R Us and the M&M factory which I'm sure Gunner would love in a couple years! But since he's still too little to appreciate that and we were there on a Saturday evening we wanted to leave as soon as we got there!  (They also had an insane Forever 21 that took all of my will power not to enter) If you've been to Times Square you probably think I'm nuts for loving NYC, but seriously the rest of the city is like a suburb compared to Times Square! It reminds me a lot of the strip in Las Vegas except its smaller with more people (and less naked women)! 
^^Gunner was a bit skeptical of the whole experience^^

^^Times Square Family Photo^^

So once we'd walked the length of Times Square (which is only like 4 blocks) we just headed off on an unknown direction and explored! We saw where all the theaters for broadway plays are and all the hotels; we saw a ton of souvenir shops which may have tempted me a tiny bit...(everyone needs an I ❤ NY shirt)! It is an exciting and lively neighborhood! Definitely the most intense place we've been in the city so far! 

We decided to head towards Rockafeller center (since Top of the Rock is on our bucket list!) and grab some dinner on the way! We got classic NY hot dogs (which was a new addition to our bucket list), not the crappy imitators that we tried a few weeks ago. These were the real deal! They were pretty yummy but left us feeling hungry! Especially after the 30-40 blocks we had already walked!  

Once we got to Rockefeller Center we realized it costs $27 per person to ride the elevator up and look out the windows!!! Is it just me or is $27 a bit much? When you're living on the Ivy League Tuition budget, that's way out of your price range!!! Haha! So we'll have to put some money aside a maybe do it for a special occasion or something! Even though we didn't make it to the top, the trip was not a waste! We wandered around Rockafeller center for a while... I was just wishing and hoping to accidentally bump into Liz Lemon or Tracey Jordan... but it didn't happen! We did see some people with SNL staff shirts and saw some real live NBC pages!!  The ice skating rink is already icy (maybe it is all year round? Anyone know?) and they have some yummy looking (but pricey) restaurants!

After smelling all the rich delicious food we decided it was time for fourth meal! So we googled the area and came up with 6 zillion restaurants in the square mile and narrowed it down to a pizza place with 4 out of 5 stars (that's really good) and walked back through Times Square to this little hole in the wall pizza joint and spent a whopping 7$ on a delicious meal! This pizza place didn't have any seating so to avoid sitting on the curb we decide to get some dessert from the fancy French bakery next door in order to use their tables! So there we were sitting in this sweet little bake shop chowing down on a few slices of greasy pepperoni pizza and two dainty macarons. I  LOVE this about the city! We spent maybe 12$ total on the meal and got greasy yummy pizza and refined fancy dessert basically all in one. 

By the time we finished eating all three of us were ready to head home! We took the express bus home which is always my first choice! It's comfy like a tour bus and it drops us off at the front door of our apartment!! That is Priceless!! 

It was another fun and rich day full of contrasts and juxtapositions! From Central Park to Times Square, the pizza and the macarons! This city surprises me every single day I take to explore it! I am beyond grateful to be living here and to be on this insane journey with my two favorite boys! They are the best traveling companions a girl could ask for! I thank God everyday for those two!

Sending my love to everyone!!