{ Dorothy & Chris in the Big City }

After being in New York for a little over a year, Zach’s mom and stepdad, Dorothy and Chris, finally made there way to New York City! We were so excited to finally be able to show them our home and our favorite places in the city.

Dorothy and Chris were looking forward to doing some historical tours and seeing some of the popular sights so we organized their week-long trip according to neighborhood and activity. The days were jam-packed but it was non-stop fun!

FiDi & One World Trade Observatory Deck. Zach and I split up our work days so we could each have a day off with them separately as well as days off together. I spent the first day with them in the Financial District, the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower. It was a perfect spring day in the city, bright skies and light winds so it was so nice to walk around and show off the sites. We hit up the Wall Street Bull and the new Fearless Girl on our way from FiDi to the 9/11 Memorial. The Fearless Girl is SO incredible and was installed around the same time as the Women’s March.

One of the strangest things about the Bull is you are supposed to touch its balls for good luck. There are crowds of people waiting for their turn to touch them. It’s so weird! When my Dad came to visit last June he took a different approach, which Chris was also happy to do in the spirit of my Dad… #goofballs #twopeasinapod

The view at the top of the Freedom Tower, the Observatory Deck, was absolutely stunning. You could take 1,000 pictures but you could never do the view justice. They have a little cafe with wine and beer so you can have your lunch with a view, too!

Anniversary & Birthday Date Night. This year Chris & Dorothy celebrated 25 years of marriage and Dorothy’s birthday was the week before their visit. We knew we wanted to celebrate them in a special way so we surprised them with one of our favorite activities, the Classic Harbor Line Cruise. The cruise is a perfect way to see the Manhattan skyline and be on the Hudson River. We did the Architectural Design tour which had a member of AIA narrate the tour discussing the various historic buildings and new builds on the island. Cocktails, good company, and a gorgeous sunset made for a perfect evening.

The Millers & the Jacobsons. The next day we spent with friends and family who live in New York. We met our friends, Andy and Parvaneh, at their apartment for a visit before we all walked the Brooklyn Bridge to have lunch at our favorite pizza place, Grimaldi’s.

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Later, we headed to Washington Square Park to visit Chris’ niece and nephew, Juliet and Leif, and their spouses Alex and Jamie. Jamie and Leif have the most darling little boy Cyrus who stole the show that evening. Juliet and Alex cooked an amazing dinner and we all enjoyed the nice night in.

By Monday morning I had to go back to work and Zach got a full day of exploring with his parents. They went to the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations for a tour of their building and visitors center. So much art and facts about the world’s history with military defense and working towards peace.

There were so many other awesome moments we had throughout the week, but for the sake of not making this blog post 10 pages I will simply recap! We walked the High Line and visited Chelsea Market, we hosted happy hour and dinner at our apartment, we spent Easter Sunday in Central Park, and one of the best nights was when we saw Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. If you live in the city or are planning a visit this is show is a MUST. So unique and authentically different than any show I’ve seen in awhile. And seeing Josh Groban sing live wasn’t too bad either!

Dorothy & Chris. Having this uninterrupted time with you was so precious and we’re so grateful you were finally able to get yourselves out of Seattle to see our home. Your generosity in all that you shared with us during your stay is something we never take for granted. We only wish you’d let us do it for YOU more often! One day you’ll let us 😉 Thank you for experiencing our New York and all of our favorite places. We’re so happy you got to do almost everything you wanted to do. So looking forward to the next visit! We love you around the world and back!

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{ From Eastern WA to East Manhattan }

The first quarter of the new year has proven to be so fast and furious that I have already failed on my new year’s resolution of updating this blog once a week! Welp, it’s never too late to redeem yourself so let me start from one of our first wonderful weeks of the new year.

Ryan & Tiffany have been dear friends of ours since the moment Zach & I met. Ryan was with Zach when he first came to San Diego and Ryan witnessed the inception of our relationship. Though Tiff was not with him on that trip, he had just proposed to her a month prior. 2011 was the start of so many beautiful beginnings to our respective relationships and to still be close friends in 2017 is a treasure. In those years, we each had our weddings, Ryan and Tiff have had a little baby girl, Eva, and obviously Z and I have moved our life to New York. Ryan and Tiff live in Eastern Washington and had one heck of a commute to get to us, not unlike Devin and his trip to visit a few months earlier. It was Ryan’s first time in New York and I think we showed it up right!

The Lion King & Top of the Rock. One of Ryan’s Christmas gifts to Tiff was tickets to a broadway show of her choosing. She had a long standing dream to see the The Lion King so it was a no brainer when it came to choosing the show. Zach, Ryan, and I had seen the show when we were very young so we were all excited to see it again, as the memories were great and we knew it would not disappoint!

After the show we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. We walked from Times Square to Rockefeller Center to have drinks at Top of the Rock, a bar on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center that overlooks the entire city. It was the first time for all of us, with the exception of Z who had been there for a work event. It. Is. Spectacular. There is an outdoor viewing deck that takes your breath away, and despite the freezing cold temps and wind, we stood out there for quite awhile. Ryan and Z met a guy who had an app on his phone that controlled the lights and color of the spire on top of the H&M tower. He literally pulled out his phone, asked the guys their favorite color, and then hit a button on his phone, and then they all watched the top of the tower change color. Whaaaat?! Tiff and I missed it while we were getting drinks inside at the bar, but still to this day Z regrets not asking that guy how/what/why/”can i get that app?!” of the color changing super powers.

9/11 Memorial & Museum. One of the activities that is unanimously at the top of all our visitors’ list is to see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. While Z has done both already, I have never been to the museum. He mentioned that it is a several hour event as the museum is pretty massive with many exhibits we will want to spend a lot of time in. So we made a day of it! Our friends, Parv and Andy, who also went to college with Ryan, Tiff, and Z, had brunch at their house, and our friend Cort was in town from D.C. who joined us for the day as well.

Brunch was a perfect time to reminisce and catch up before the somber afternoon at the museum. It is so well put together. It’s full of incredible and astounding information about that day, the events leading up to it, and the aftermath. Honestly, you could go back for days and still not absorb everything. They offer an audio book via free app with Robert DeNiro as your guide narrating the exhibits within the museum. As a group, we all split up and walked the museum individually and met up several hours later at the end. It is brutal at times but so worth the visit. If ever you are in the city it should not be missed.

Anybody Hungry? One of my favorite things about this city is all the incredible food and drink that inhabit every neighborhood. There is a reason it is a pretigious culinary achievement to have a successful restaurant or bar in New York. Rent is high and there is great food everywhere. Choices are limitless and the expectations are high. Over the last year, Z and I have really honed in on some of our favorites which have become staples for us to take our visitors to. Uva, Fat Cat, and Gallo Nero, to name a few!

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One of our favorite culinary excursions was Serendipity. Ryan and Tiff had given us a gift certificate to the famous restaurant as a wedding gift (along with a DVD of the movie!) and Z and I still hadn’t used it. The sentimentalist in me was secretly saving it with the hope that Ryan and Tiff would visit and we’d get to use it altogether. I loved that it actually came together the way I imagined. It was a perfect way to end the trip on their last night in town.

Besides being a romantic and darling place, the menu is massive as are the portions of food. With the certificate covering most of the meal, we decided to go big!

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The frozen hot chocolate IS as good as it looks! It takes a team to drink it but thankfully I had a good partner-in-crime.

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Tiff & Ryan. I love that our friendship knows no span of time from when we see each other and that we always pick up as if we saw each other a few days ago. I love that our conversations can go from big belly laughs to serious discussions on life and love and back to playful banter. The hours fly by as there is never a dull moment. The cameos from Eva on FaceTime were the best and made us ache for her and miss her more! We are so grateful for your friendship and your commitment to seeing us in our new home. THANK YOU. It means so much especially when you’re far away from our comfort zone. No sooner you asked us about dates to visit, a flight itinerary was in our inbox days later. We miss you often and can’t wait for our next adventure! We love you, babes!

{ 2017: Bury & Carry List }

Happy 2017! I can’t believe we are already halfway through the first month of the new year. I was recently inspired after reading this article by Maria Shriver about what she wants to “carry” and “bury” in 2017. I have found the idea of resolutions to be daunting especially because it diminishes what you learned and maybe even mastered the previous year. It begs “what more can you do?” instead of also validating your successes. Furthermore it challenged me to really consider what I am proud of from 2016, what I want to continue through 2017, and what I can truly leave behind.

What I Want to Bury:

  • Self-Doubt. There is nothing that handicapped me more in 2016 than self-doubt. When I began the year I was a successful Business Development Director at the height of my career, newly married, and about to move to New York. I arrived with confidence that I would find a sparkly new job and conquer wifehood with ease. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at all how I planned. Months flew by, what felt like hundreds of job applications had been submitted, and I was alone a lot during the day until Z got home from work. The loneliness was a perfect incubus to cultivate a cloud of fear and doubt that I was not good enough. Who was I without a successful career? Why would a man as wonderful as my husband, meanwhile blossoming and thriving in his career, want a pathetic woman such as myself who couldn’t find her way in New York? Self-doubt consumed my every day. Eventually I realized it was me who was holding me back. I had complete control of realizing my happiness and as soon as I worked on what it was that made me truly happy, outside of a career woman and being Z’s wife, I was set free from my doubt. I was a lot more than just those two things. It was finding ways to energize and inspire me. I am not perfect and battling self-doubt will always be a dynamic of life but for the purpose of this list, I am committed to continuing to pursue my happy and diminish the doubt.
  • Us vs. Them. While I don’t really want to get into the political arena on this blog, I have to acknowledge my approach to interacting with friends, family, and strangers whose political opinions are different than my own. This past year was a tumultuous and distressing time for everyone regardless of the candidate you supported. As the President-Elect is being sworn into office as I type this I am a gamut of emotions. For the purpose of this bury list, I want to work on diminishing this idea of Us vs. Them. This mentality is what got us here, divided. It’s not the first time in our nation’s history but for those living it for the first time it is painful, a state of disbelief. I look back on 2016 and interactions with some of my friends and family who I considered to be them. They supported the candidate I did not. As frustrated as that made me, I am certain my support of the other candidate made them equally so. My regret is that I didn’t engage in an adult, open-minded conversation with them. Instead I steered clear, avoided it, and judged them. Us vs. Them. I could have listened, shared passions, seek understanding in a constructive way. We are never going to be a united nation until both sides really examine the other side. It will continue to be two teams. Of course I am not naive to believe I could have actually changed those friends or families’ minds but maybe we would have understood each other better and learned something. I also know there will always be two teams but I don’t believe it has to be as harshly divided and vicious as it stands right now. As I avoid my television today I am not doing so to perpetuate the #NotMyPresident or anything like it. I’m not happy about it, not by any means. But instead of opening my social media and perpetuating the drama, today I choose to establish how I will carry into the new year, this new regime, and how I can control my piece of the world and influence positivity. How can I help to bridge this large gap that I helped build along with the other millions of us? I will continue to be authentic and steadfast in my beliefs but will not use it to shut out the other side.
  • Living in Future Tense. Planning is a way of life in the Harris household. Neither one of us are fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people and we are always looking ahead. That’s not to say making plans and being intentional about life are a bad thing but in our current circumstance it has hindered us. Our life in New York has always been temporary with the plan to move back to our West Coast home. At some point, however, it felt as if we were biding our time. And when I say we I mean mostly me. Anxiously planning and awaiting the opportunity to start planning our move home. Z has been a great reminder for me as I have had a harder time settling into our life. He reminds me and recommits that we want to make a life here. If we’re just watching the months tick by and counting the days until we get to go back to the West Coast we won’t really be giving our opportunity here a chance. We took a lot of trips back west last year, Seattle in particular, and we got used to seeing those friends and family every couple of months. It meant a whole year went by without an official honeymoon like we had originally planned. We sacrificed vacation days we could have used to travel the East Coast as we intended. While those trips were mostly for weddings and well worth the time and money spent we cannot do the same this year. We need to invest in our life in New York just as we set out to do. I want to miss this place when we leave it, not relish in the joy that we finally get to leave. I want to bury this living in the future and pump the breaks to live presently. Grounded in our New York life and cherishing this once in a lifetime experience. It will be gone before we know it.

What I Want to Carry:

  • Gratitude. We post about it on social media, we talk about its importance, but how often are we actually putting this into practice? I have learned and posed questions about ‘marriage’ this year and what does and doesn’t work for our marriage. One of the biggest things that we practiced this year which has become an integral part of our day to day is the act of being grateful. A simple ‘thank you’ goes such a long way. When Z has worked a long day and he comes home to a clean house, he acknowledges the work and says thank you. On date nights when we’ve just enjoyed an evening out, I share with Z how much I appreciate all his hard work to provide the ability to live in this amazing city and indulge in these experiences. Even something as simple as watching Sunday football together, he will thank me for creating our home and taking care of the things that make our life full. I may be overloading you with anecdotes but the point is I think we grossly underestimate how much our partners need to be appreciated and thanked. Out loud. Not carry it with us as an assumption that they “just know.” How good does it feel to hear that acknowledgment and gratefulness? Whether it’s a simple act or a grand gesture we all need and deserve affirmations for who we are and how we show up for each other.
  • Spin & Yoga. One of the best roses that came from the garden of thorns of being unemployed was discovering an active lifestyle. I tried countless fitness studios and different workouts until I found the classes and teachers that felt like home. Nothing clears my mind and makes me feel as good as leaving a class sweaty and strong. SoulCycle & mang’Oh yoga have changed me in mind, body, and spirit and I can’t imagine my day to day life without them.
  • The Lust to Wander. One of the most exciting parts of living on the East Coast is traveling to new places. It is remarkable how close these states are to one another and in a three-hour train ride you can cross over five states. Just thirty minutes north of Manhattan are forests and rivers that provide great relief from the concrete jungle. We dipped our toes into a few new places in 2016 and we’ve committed to seeing a handful of more cities and areas of New York this year. I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful coast.
  • Team Harris. I don’t particularly agree with people who say things don’t change all that much from being engaged to married. Maybe it’s because Z and I made such a drastic change to our life with a cross-country move. I still believe that the stakes are higher once you call someone your husband, not just your boyfriend. My life is no longer about just my wants and needs. I have to consider Z’s needs sometimes even before my own. What I’ve come to learn over the past year, a big lesson taught by my husband, is that when one of us is making decision they are ultimately our decisions. Z is better at change than I am. That’s just a fact in our marriage. He is level-headed and makes choices with carefully thought out logic (excel spreadsheets!) and I wear my heart on my sleeve and make choices with my gut based on the way something makes me feel. Whenever he presents a new idea, like moving apartments for example, he knows I am going to be resistant. “The market has changed, we can save money, we will experience a new neighborhood, etc.” It’s not my idea of a good time. I love our home in Murray Hill. I immediately classify it as his idea. He is doing this to me. Pushing me into this idea. But after I let the dust settle on my reaction, I always realize the same thing. It is the best decision for us. Z has seamlessly been able to change his thinking about what he wants into what’s best for us. True, it is his idea but my husband to date has never proposed something that has only been for his benefit or because he wants to do it. I am always a large factor in his consideration. We are always at the forefront of his decision making. It’s not easy to admit when you’re partner is right, especially when you want to be right. But I am happy to carry this ideology that Z seems to have adapted to so well and patiently waits for me to realize. It’s not about what I want or what he wants. It’s about what we want and what’s best for our life together. It doesn’t mean we will always agree or see the other person’s side but it’s about remembering that neither of us are ever selfishly making decisions. I want to carry this faith of partnership with me into this year and all the years ahead of us. Thanks for the lesson, babe. Even as much as I detest some of your new ideas, I am proud to be on Team Harris.

What do you want to carry and bury into this year?

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Top of the Rock – 1.12.17

{ December in the City }

The last month of 2016 was a busy one for the Harris household. With my new job at lululemon athletica we were limited to our travels and were not able to head to the West Coast for any of the holidays this year. Instead of focusing on what we’d be missing out on,  especially time with our families, we pursued a LOT of items on our NYC and East Coast bucket list to really dig deep into our life here.

Instead of writing a bunch of different blog posts I thought I would include all our adventures into a picture story of what life has looked like for the past month. Although, Thanksgiving was technically in November I’m including it here for good measure. It marks the beginning of our holiday season which ended the same way it started; new traditions with just us two.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Thanksgiving Dinner. 

 

Museum Day: The Guggenheim & The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Empire State Building Observation Deck.

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First Christmas Tree Purchase* in the City. 

*There was a great debate on how this whole Christmas tree purchase thing would work in the city. This city girl, who formerly purchased her Christmas trees from a lot at her local Target in Southern California, said they would probably have similar lots in the city. The country boy, who formerly went to chop his own tree down in Eastern Washington, thought we’d have to go to upstate to tree farms to pick it out and chop it down. Clearly, we can see I was more or less sort of right haha.

The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.

Evening Ice Skating in Central Park.

Day Trip to New Canaan & Stamford CT.

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Our First Christmas in New York. 

New Year’s Eve at Cipriani. 

 

Whew! It was a jam-packed end to 2016 and we are SO ready for 2017!

{ Autumn in New York }

As the seasons fly by in this new city of ours we learn more about the traditions and “must do’s” of the present season. Amongst coworkers and friends we learned that heading upstate to visit apple orchards and pumpkin patches is amongst the things you must do in the fall. A coworker of mine told me about Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm which not only has pumpkin patches and apple and peach orchards but it also has a wine tasting room and state famous bakery with apple cider donuts. Umm did you say wine tasting room?

After a few convincing conversations to persuade Zach into this plan, we picked a Sunday in October to make the trip. One hour long train ride from Grand Central and a fifteen minute cab ride later we arrived at the farm. It is a family owned estate where the family home actually resides on the property, and boy was it bustling with people!

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We made our way to the tasting room first which was FULL of twenty-somethings and parents who were gettin’ their drink on while the grandparents played with the kids elsewhere on the grounds.

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Alright, I’ll confess. I am not a huge fan of New York or Northeast wine. I’m not actually sure how to explain it in words but it lacks something rich and full-bodied in flavor like Washington and California wines. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we drank the wine (c’mon, it’s me we’re talking about!) but we definitely skipped purchasing a bottle to bring home like the original plan.

One of the hooks to Zach agreeing to come to the farm was learning that they had a corn maze. After wine tasting we made our way over to the corn maze to see how long it would take us to get through it. A few steps into the maze and Z was quickly disappointed to learn it was a very easy maze to get through. Thus began the Harris off roading game through the untamed areas of the maze to create our own way out.  It was actually pretty fun despite my hesitation and bizarre fear of really getting into the corn maze. I’m used to mazes being around Halloween with scary dressed up monsters inside! But this was playful and silly and it ended up being a very fun part of the day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the grounds through the pumpkin patch, Christmas tree fields, and farm gift shop. I’ll use the work pumpkin patch loosely. The “patch” was more an area where pumpkins were set up after they were taken from their actual patch so people could shop more easily. While we intended on bringing a pumpkin home we realized we didn’t want to carry a giant pumpkin back on the train for an hour and then during the walk back to the apartment. Oh well! The farm was gorgeous to walk around and it certainly put us into the autumn spirit. It was so NICE to be out of the city and just absorb the quiet and calm of the country. It just reminds us how important it is to get out of the city every once in awhile to ground and calm yourself in the great outdoors.

Oh and those famous apple cider donuts? Well the line at the bakery was constantly 20 people deep outside the shop so we gave up before we even jumped in line. It turned out to be a very cold and windy afternoon so we headed back into the city for dinner. We both agreed it really was such a fun outing despite the hiccups in the day (no wine, no pumpkin, no donuts) and we loved being in the country for the day. It might just be a seasonal Harris tradition!

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Mr. Harris. I am grateful that you are willing to humor me when I come up with some of these more Joey-centric adventure ideas that may not always be your cup-of-tea. Your playful nature and silliness throughout the day gave me belly aches from laughing all day and your attitude about embracing the day is so appreciated. My partner in crime always, I love exploring this vast state with you and learning more about this new lifestyle we’ve entered into. It makes me happy that your open mind led you to being glad we did it. I’m making a mental note for next time we embark on a Zach-centric adventure!

And thanks for sacrificing your normal Sunday on the couch with the NFL. That doesn’t go unnoticed. I know that’s a pretty big deal 😉

{ From Connell to Manhattan }

Fall is serious business in the Harris household, particularly with Mr. Harris. Fall means football. In fact, we’ve discussed that perhaps the word “fall” is just short hand for “football.” The East Coast has presented challenges with its time zone as sometimes Z is staying up from 10:30pm -2:30am to watch his college team, the WSU Cougars, play on the West Coast. The NFL games don’t start until 1pm on Sunday which means at least he gets to sleep in and recover after his late night college football viewings.

Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Weekends at our house are dominated by football.

One of our favorite weekends this fall was when Zach’s best friend, Devin, flew from the very small town of Connell, WA to NYC for a live-action football weekend. Devin is a third generation Notre Dame football fan and when the schedule came out last spring and he saw that the Irish were playing Syracuse in New York he jumped at the chance to visit. Later, we discovered that the Seahawks would be in town the same weekend to play the Jets and thus our back-to-back football weekend at MetLife Stadium was born.

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse. Since MetLife Stadium is in East Rutherford, NJ it was quite an ordeal trying to figure out how to get there with public transit that wouldn’t take over an hour and where we wouldn’t have to take several bus transfers. Z figured out that on game days there is a bus that leaves from Port Authority (first come, first serve) that drops you in the parking lot of the stadium. And even better, it only took 20 minutes! Once we arrived we attempted to join a tailgate but there weren’t as many friendly fans as we predicted. Luckily MetLife has a few bars in the stadium and we found an Irish pub that worked perfectly.

 

It was without a doubt one of the strangest and high-scoring college games any of us have ever been too. There were at least three touchdowns within the first 2 minutes of the game! Notre Dame fans were everywhere and although Devin was skeptical based on their record the Irish pulled out the W! We had an absolute ball!

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Seahawks vs. Jets. It felt like Groundhog’s Day when we woke up for Sunday’s game but we were even more excited to repeat the day all over to see our Seahawks in our new city! I had never been to an away game before but let me tell you, the Hawks fan base rolls DEEP. The terminal at Port Authority had almost triple the amount of fans to the Jets fans which made the bus ride over so much fun. No surprise, however, that once we arrived to the stadium we were out numbered by Jets fans. The Jets fans are known for being a very passionate and loyal fan base so we were a bit timid to let the smack talk roll as freely as it did at the Notre Dame game. But that didn’t stop me from wearing my Richard Sherman jersey and hollering one “You Mad Bro?!” on the way into the stadium. I couldn’t help myself!

The game was close to begin with and then around the 2nd quarter the Hawks began to make the magic happen and pull ahead. A few interceptions, long passes to Doug Baldwin, and a few “3rd and Jimmy’s” later we secured the win. It was a blast to be joined by our friends, Andy and Parv Miller (who coordinated the tickets and game day – thank you!), Andy’s sister and her husband, Courtney and Bryan, and the boys’ friend, Shaun. We were a motley crew in the middle of the Jets fans but we were thankful that the very full Hawks fan area was only a section away.

Devin – Thank you for making the incredibly long journey for a short but very sweet visit to our new home! I know the Irish in NYC was the cherry on top of the visit but it meant the world to us to have you be one of the first visitors in our inaugural year in NYC. You and Zach are like brothers and it is SO much fun to be a part of your dynamic. You are such a good friend to both of us and we can’t wait for our next adventure together! We love you!

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{ The Novaks Take NYC! }

This summer has come and gone and I have so much catching up to do on the incredible summer we’ve had!

July kicked off in the BEST way with some of our very closest friends, Kyle and Kelsey Novak, visiting us for the Fourth of July! We did so many things while they were here from brunches to dinner dates, to playing in Central Park and Broadway shows, we did New York and we did it up right.

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Bocce Ball in Central Park. One of our favorite wedding gifts from our friends Jeff and Cathy was a bocce ball set from Crate & Barrel. We had yet to christen it and with the Novaks in town it was the perfect time to break it in.

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We split up the couples and played Z and Kels versus Kyle and Jojo. Despite that Z and Kels are cheaters strategic players and that Kyle and I did our best, the uneven ground of Central Park created a whole new level of challenge to the game. Z and Kels took the ‘W’ and we had an absolute blast! So many onlookers were trying to figure out what game we were playing, it was slightly entertaining. We kept thinking “do they not have bocce ball on the East Coast?”

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Sunset Cruise. When my parents were in town we took them on a boat cruise of the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of the island. It truly is the perfect way to see Manhattan from the water so we knew it was a ‘must’ when the Novaks were in town. We decided to change it up and do the sunset cruise which could not have been more perfect. The July sunset proved to be the ultimate part of the cruise, reflecting on the city and Lady Liberty to the point where it took your breath away. Kelsey took some incredible snapshots that I’ve posted below. It was definitely one of everyone’s favorite parts of the trip. We hit the Brass Monkey afterwards for some rooftop cocktails to end the night!

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Fourth of July: Coney Island & The Beach Boys. We all checked off a major bucket list item with our holiday plans. We had found out months earlier that Coney Island has a summer concert series at the Ford Amphitheater on their boardwalk and that The Beach Boys would be playing on Fourth of July. It was a unanimous decision to go to the show. I mean, does it get more American than that?!

We decided to get to Coney Island a few hours earlier to jump on some of the rides and grab some dinner. Kelsey was a total sport despite her fear of some of the roller coasters (way to go, girl!) and we got to make it on two rides before the show.

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We played our Spotify and Pandora Beach Boys playlists leading up to the concert and we were shocked at how many of the songs we actually knew the words to. We were rocking out, dancing in the aisles, FaceTiming parents to sing along, and singing our hearts out all night long. It was hands down one of the best shows we’ve been to. If you ever have the chance to see them DO IT. Feel good, happy music, a crowd of all ages, and no shame in the dancing game amongst any concert-goers. The night was capped off with fireworks on the boardwalk. God bless America!

I should also mention that John Stamos was the guest drummer, guitarist, back-up singer and bass player. I mean Uncle Jesse is lookin’ pretty good. It’s like the man hasn’t aged. He only added to the epic-ness of the entire evening!

School of Rock Musical. Our last night came way too soon but we weren’t slowing down. Despite how tired we were from our day at Coney Island we decided to put on our date night finest and head to the Theater District to see School of Rock: The Musical. We picked it after seeing a performance from the Tony Awards and it also fell within our last minute ticket purchase budget. We went in with minimal expectations and we left blown away. The cast includes a number of pre-teens that are required to play musical instruments and they actually do! The talent and the energy was palpable and the theater nerd in me was especially excited to hear Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music composition in rock form. For those who don’t know he wrote the music for The Phantom of the Opera. We had such a ball and were so happy we decided to see it! Four sets of two thumbs up!

Kyle & Kelsey, thank you for being our first friends to make the cross-country trek to see us in our new home! You will always hold a special place in our hearts and this visit meant so much to us. If there’s one thing I can say about you two, is that you know it’s never going to be a bad time hangin’ with the Novaks. Thank you for sharing your energy and adventurous spirit with us and helping us check off some of our own NYC bucket list items off the list! We love you! Can’t wait for the next adventure!

{ Dana & CJ’s Visit }

It is embarrassing how long it has been since I have updated the blog. Gah! But we are back in action and I won’t leave ya hangin’ anymore! Pinky promise. In the past month we’ve had two sets of visitors, a trip to Southern California, and I’ve started a new job and career venture. Woohoo! I’ll post about each thing separately, but for now, I’m going to take you back to early June.

My dad and mom, Dana & CJ, were our first official family visitors to NYC! Ten full days of sharing our 700 square feet apartment, touring the city, walking an average of 11K steps a day (thank you iPhone Health app), and spending uninterrupted, quality time together. And boy, did we have an AWESOME time.

My parents made an incredible collage/list of each day in detail but I think to spare this blog post from being ten pages long, I will tell the story of their visit through photos with highlights of my favorite parts.

Central Park. Early in the trip we walked through Central Park and I showed them all my favorite places and spaces in the park. We eventually made it one of my favorite restaurants on the Upper West Side, Jacob’s Pickles, where we dined and dad found a new fav cocktail, the Bees Knees.

Wall Street Bull.  The infamous statue in the heart of Wall Street attracts many tourists. I’ve written about it in a previous blog but to remind you, oh dear reader, that people often take pictures holding the bulls (ahem) balls which is actually quite dumb to watch people do over and over. My dad’s response to this was to take a different pose with the bull…

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Yes. You’re welcome for that. Dana is never one to shy away from an “opportunity” to add a little shock and hilarity to a situation. The reactions on people’s faces in the background is my favorite!

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. To say my mom is obsessed with Stephen Colbert would be an understatement. She is in LOVE with Colbert. If my parents had a hall pass list Colbert would easily be in the top three. One of our family friends, Cami Thacher, works for Colbert as a copy writer and was able to get us four VIP tickets to a live taping. The guests were Laura Linney and John Leguizamo who were both wonderful. Stephen comes out to speak to the audience before the live taping to meet & greet as well as answer questions from the audience. Mom had prepared a question ahead of time but as soon as Stephen opened the floor for questions she got school girl crush nervous and couldn’t bring herself to even raise her hand. It was both precious and hilarious. We had a blast and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Thank you, Cami!

Mom’s Birthday. For the first time in many years I got to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her. It was by far one of the best days of the trip. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge and had pizza at the infamous Grimaldi’s, and then headed to the Brooklyn Brewery. Mom loves a good brewery and a dark stout! Later in the evening, Z and I treated my parents to dinner at The Flatiron Room, known for their live jazz and vast library of whiskeys. We ended the night at Don’t Tell Mama, one of my top spots in the city, a piano bar where the servers and bartenders are aspiring broadway performers and sing all night long. Per my dad’s request they played my parents’ wedding song (Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”) and of course, a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long from the entire bar. It was a top night!

There are so many other precious moments and memories made throughout the 10-day visit. It was an emotional departure when they left for LA but I am so incredibly grateful the intimate, uninterrupted time with my parents. Being roommates again ended up being a very good time! Life is so short and I miss being away from them but by choosing to be present in each moment of every day we were really able to cherish our time together, as opposed to dreading the impending goodbye which is something I typically do.

Mama & Dad – I feel so blessed to be your kid. You fill my soul with calm and confidence in this crazy new city I live in and my heart is full that you were able to come visit so soon after our move. You inspire me and love me unconditionally. Most of all, you are the BEST people to share a good laugh with. And I love that we laugh A LOT in our family.

I’ll leave you with more photos from other adventures in our trip. Can’t wait for the next visit!

 

 

{ America’s Cup }

Sunday Funday! This past weekend NYC hosted the America’s Cup on the Hudson River for the first time in 120 years. There were a ton of New Yorkers gathered at Brookfield Place to see the final races of the weekend. We found some standing real estate where the crowds were fewer and the views were bigger for the first few races.

wide shot

all boats

The Millers met up with us to catch the last half of the races where we braved the crowds at the main area where you could hear the announcers call out the race.

The front of Brookfield Place houses a marina where we GIANT sailboats and yachts can park. The passengers/owners of the two sailboats in the photo above were on their boats and likely had the best seat in the house. I also love that other photo of the crowds and their cell phones to capture a shot of the USA sailboat!

After the events wrapped up we headed to a local beer hall, Clinton Hall, which has a great outdoor patio with all sorts of games to play while you enjoy your brew. It is dog-friendly too so Homer Miller was able to hang and play. One of the games was a mismatched Jenga set with all different shapes and sizes of pieces. It made the game a lot more interesting…

I swear my husband can smell a ping pong table from a mile away and without pause he and Andy played round after round with a furry fan watching their entire game, who actually just wanted to be the ball boy…

Parv and I had our own lil tourney of GIANT Connect Four while Homer was the local celebrity of the patio. Every adult, child, and waiter wanted to meet him, pet him, and take him home with them. Can’t say I blame them!

On our way home we walked through Wall Street to see the infamous Bull. I didn’t realize one of the “things to do” when you see the Bull is to touch his (ahem) balls for good luck….hmmmm maybe next time? We thought taking a picture in front would suffice! (Lucky balls not pictured below)

bull

It was a full day in the sun and we enjoyed every minute! So lucky to have the Millers here who are up for just about anything. Glad to check this off the bucket list with you guys!

brooklyn bridge

And one last shot of the Brooklyn Bridge before we called it a day!

{ 9/11 Memorial Walk 5K }

Sunday was another bright day in the city which made for a perfect backdrop for our first community event. The Millers invited Z and I to join their team for the annual 9/11 Memorial Walk 5K, benefitting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Before living here, I had not visited NYC since July 2004. Back then, the area where the Twin Towers used to stand looked more like a construction zone, a somber site of what it used to be. Now the Memorial has incredible twin reflecting pools each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools.

memorial names

It is without a doubt one of the top tourist attractions in the city but I’ll admit it feels strange to take photos and observe the other tourists who lean up against it or have their kids sitting on the edge with their parents. It feels a bit inappropriate given the reason for the structures but at least people feel it’s important to visit the site and remember all that was lost and what has since been rebuilt. The long term plan is to eventually have 7 towers, all of unique architectural structure (see Wings structure below).

My favorite part of the Memorial is the “Survivor Tree.” The Callery pear tree is the only tree to survive the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. It doesn’t look like any of the other trees which makes it presence so much more powerful. Pretty cool, eh?

Anyhoo, the 5K had hundreds of people for an 8:00am start full of runners and walkers alike. It felt amazing to be a part of our first community event to make us feel even more like a part of the city. It was an honor to be a part of and a great way to give back.

At the end of the race there was an array of food trucks, kids’ games and face-painting, booths from local sponsors, and a live band comprised of Army soldiers, by far one of the best parts of the day.

Thank you Parv and Andy for inviting us to join you! Looking forward to making it an annual event!

tower with trees

Editor’s note: Although a very serious cause and event, we did have a bit of fun during the walk. One of Zach’s best friends had done a Spartan race in Seattle the day before (it’s one of those 9-mile intense, mud-run, obstacle course type races) so Z felt the need to show him that he was equally “challenged” on his 3.2 miles of walking. Sorry dear, had to share!

zach collage