Spring Breakers in New York City

central parkThis year for Spring Break, Andrew and I took separate vacations. He has been dying to do an alpine touring trip through France and Switzerland with his brother for years, so I got over my fear of him going to Europe without me and gave him the go ahead. But with one caveat, I was not going to stay at home alone with my girls during spring break. We decided that we would take our airline miles and see the Big Apple. Nadia has been enamored by the city because all the shows she watches on Disney are set in NYC, so why not. My sister, who lives in Virginia was able to take time off from work and take the train up with her daughter. We also got to hang out with other friends visiting the city too. It was great seeing familiar faces in the big city, it could have been a long, tiring trip without some other adult support.

We got in to town on a Sunday evening, instead of a hotel room, my sister and I decided we would be more comfortable with our daughters in an apartment (not to mention the prices of hotels are ridiculous and they would not take more than 4 people). We rented an adorable apartment on the Upper West Side through AirBnB. It was perfect, plenty of space for all of us to spread out, bathroom and laundry and a kitchen so we could have tea and breakfast in the morning before heading out. Most mornings our first stop was the Juice Press across the street, where we filled up on smoothies to get us started on our day.

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Cake Boss Cafe

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Fire Station at Ground Zero

On our first full day we did an awesome Hop On/Hop off Bus tour through the city. Our first stop we got off at was the 9/11 memorial. We did not go into the Memorial because it was packed and we didn’t have passes. Also, the large sign before heading in reminds visitors to be quiet and respectful. This seemed like it would be challenging for our group of 8 (3 adults, 5 kids). It was still a very surreal experience. Seeing how many people were down there, and going by the fire stations that were most likely the first responders was very intense. I was not ready to go in with my kids and try and process everything that happen, while also trying to tell a 7 year old why a plane would fly into a building. From here we toured around Battery Park and got our tickets to see Lady Liberty for the next day. After Battery Park we got back on the bus and headed uptown, we went by the United Nations, and saw were tons of celebrities lived and where tons of movies and TV shows were filmed. It was fun seeing all these cool places in real life! We finally got off the bus at Rockefeller Center and spent some time in the amazing Lego Store. After our shopping, we decided to have an early dinner so we could make our Night Time Tour of the City and Brooklyn. We ate a quiet little restaurant called Nino’s 46. I imagine it was quiet because most New Yorkers don’t eat dinner at 5:30, but it worked perfect for our crew. We were even able to stop by the Cake Boss Café after dinner for some cupcakes to bring on our tour.

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NYC Skyline from Brooklyn

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Empire State Building at night

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NYC Library

The night tour was awesome despite the wind and my amateur photography skills, it is pretty hard taking photos at night on a moving bus, but I tried and got a couple good ones.

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Lady Liberty

The next day we took our bus tour back downtown and visited the Statue of Liberty. The boat trip and touring the grounds were beautiful. There is so much history here it is truly amazing. I was sad we didn’t make reservations to get into the pedestal or to do Ellis Island, we will have to do that on our next trip. But just seeing the outside of the statue and taking the audio tour, you learn a lot about what went in to erecting the statue and how powerful of a symbol it is and was to people coming to the United States for the first time. We heard this poem on the audio tour, it’s called “The New Colossus” and was written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in New York City. The poem lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

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Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – second designer of the internal structural elements of the Statue of Liberty

After our visit to the Statue of Liberty we had to get back quickly to our apartment so that we could change and get ready for our night on Broadway. Before the show we had dinner at Sardi’s, which has been the toast of Broadway for 90 years. The dinner was excellent and the service was great, we were in and out with plenty of time to get to our show (without feeling rushed). We ended up seeing Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater. The show was awesome, we had great seats so it was perfect for the girls. Plus it was funny and the music was great. Side note: the guy that played Jafar also did the voice for Jafar in the Disney animated movie, so that was exciting! That night it also snowed! Lots of crazy weather for our week. Sun, rain and snow – all in the first 3 days. The next day the girls, my sister and I, had an impromptu “spa treatment”. This was not our favorite part of the trip, but we are dealing with it. This might be a topic of an upcoming blog, once we are completely over it. I won’t go into the details. After we were done at the spa, the girls got rewarded for being such troopers, so by their request, our next stops were M&M World and American Girl Doll.

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Horse Drawn Carriage in the park

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Friends Fountain

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Promenade in the park

After this crazy day we headed back to our apartment and chilled out for a bit and ended up eating at little place that was around the corner called Pomodoro Rosso and were in bed early. For our last day in the city we decided we were done shopping and fighting the crowds so we spent the day in Central Park. We took a horse drawn carriage tour around the park and saw more sights of movies and shows like, Sex in the City, Elf, Home Alone, Enchanted and Ghost Busters. This was a fun way to see the park and it was a beautiful day too. After lunch, we had to say goodbye to my sister and niece since they had to get to Penn Station to catch their train to DC. We thought we might check out the Museum of Natural History since it was just around the corner from our apartment, great idea – except, everyone else on spring break had that idea and once we walked in apparently all the ticket terminals went down. There was a huge line of people waiting and we were not 100% certain we would get in if we waited in the line. Instead of waiting in line we decided to make our way to the other side of the park to check out the Central Park Zoo. Although it wasn’t exactly like the zoo in Madagascar (high expectations) we did have fun checking out the cool birds, snow leopards and seals. After the zoo we made our way back to our apartment, by way of a super cool playground (one of the 21 playgrounds in Central Park) and Strawberry Fields, where we visited the John Lennon Memorial. We had our last meal in the city at little sushi place called Raku – It’s Japanese 2! (that really is the actual name) and went to bed early to get ready for our 6am car that would take us to the airport.

Strawberry Fields - John Lennon Memorial

Strawberry Fields – John Lennon Memorial

Overall it was great trip! We had a lot of fun seeing the sites, shopping and fighting the crowds. We ate some great food and the girls loved eating giant pretzels and hot dogs from the street vendors (one of Daddy’s favorites from the city too!). It really was comical how many people were packed into the city. But on the flip side, when we hung out in Central Park or in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side, it didn’t feel too crowded. I think it will be a few more years before we go back, maybe when the girls are a little older and can appreciate the museums a bit more and their taste in shopping becomes a little more in line with mine.

Until Next Time, thank for reading.

What A Week – Dealing with Tragedy & Loss

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Mission Ridge Ski Area

I wrote an article for BlogHer today as a way to release some of the stress I have been feeling about the recent tragic events happening in our area. Starting last week with the KOMO 4 helicopter, then the tragic death of a local man at Mission Ridge and the ongoing tragedy of the landslide in Oso. Here is a link to the full article and how I remind myself that I need to be forever grateful for what I have and not live in the What If’s.

Cannon Beach Yoga Festival: My Take Away

cannon beachThis past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival. The festival was an intimate festival/retreat with amazing yoga teachers from all over. I practiced yoga and meditation with Annie Carpenter, Sarahjoy Marsh, Cyndi Lee and Kelly Ponzi. All amazing teachers who I learned so very much from. My main take away from this weekend was really about connecting with myself and what is around me. What I learned in each class, in different ways, was that our breath is really the most important tool we have. By focusing on our breath in any situation, whether its a difficult yoga position, a conflict with someone, driving in traffic, before you eat, any new situation, positive or negative, when you focus on your breath you are able to be mindful and intentional in what you are doing. And then, after you have taken your breath, the goal is to Be With What Is. No matter what comes up, the good, the bad or the ugly, we need to just accept where we are, because for whatever reason, that is what the universe has brought for you.

Why Oh Why…

Why oh why am I so obsessed with my weight? This is an interesting question that I lovingkindness_color1-1024x779struggle with every single day. Maybe I have too much time on my hands or maybe I am letting my hormones get the best of me. Either way, I am obsessed. I am obsessed about what I eat, and when to eat and what I am going to do for my work out, etc, etc, etc. I know that I should not be obsessed. My logical brain tells me that I am healthy, I look pretty good, my husband loves me and doesn’t want me to change a thing, but still, I am way too concerned about how I look, the way my butt looks in my pants and why I can’t make my thighs smaller. I have been trying to be good for a long time now (really for as long as I can remember), I use online trackers, I have talked to nutritionists, tracking my eating in a book, didn’t weigh myself for A WHOLE month (per the nutritionist’s recommendation) and yet the number on the scale did not change. Seriously. I really thought I was doing good, I really thought I was making progress. But yet, no progress, no change. I know I probably am not as good as I could be, really my problem is self control. I know what I should and should not eat, yet I still eat chips when we are skiing, I drink alcohol when I go out for a night, eat out way more than I should, and so on, it is an endless cycle. And really all I want is to feel good, happy and healthy in my own skin. I really just want to love my body and all my curves. Really what I want most in the world is for my two daughters NEVER to feel bad about their bodies, better yet, ALWAYS feel good about themselves! I also know that I need to model that behavior for them to learn it.

I have been reading a lot of articles this week, today I read this article and part of me thinks, wow what strength this lady has, first for not eating any food all day and then second for writing the article. I also enjoyed this video from the Today Show talking about how to Love your Selfie! It is so true. Why can’t we just come to terms and love the self we are in? Why is it so difficult? Maybe it comes from years and years of trying to be the best or achieve what someone else has. There are so many outside influences telling us what we should look like, how to lose weight fast, how to look like this girl and so on. As this is National Eating Disorder Week I decided I would just put this out there. I don’t have an eating disorder, my issue is really a self-image disorder. I love food too much not to eat it, I just need to figure out what the healthy balance for myself is and to come to terms with the body I have. I may never lose those extra 10-15 pounds, they may just be here with me and what I really need to do is remember some powerful lessons and words I have learned in my yoga classes: the first is Maitri (or Metta) which means Loving Kindness. Something that I strive to have for others and need to learn to have for myself. The second is Santosha which means Contentment or Satisfaction with what you have. Two very big lessons that will possibly take a lifetime to learn and make a daily habit. But as I write this (and post it) I am making the commitment to try and keep THESE lessons at the top of my head, instead of the number on the scale or how my butt looks.

Winter Weekends

A short little poem about our winter camping weekends…

20140203-142042.jpgWe come to the snow to get away from the busy city. We relax in our cozy cabin on wheels. Love is all around, it is peaceful, serene and fun, all at the same time.

20140203-142153.jpgSki lessons, tailgate lunch, skiing down the mountain, learning to skin up the mountain, spaghetti feed, meeting new friends and chatting on a chilly evening. We come to the mountain, to the snow, to winter, to really be part of the world we are in.

Aloha & Mahalo

Amazing view of the coast of Maui

Amazing view of the coast of Maui

It’s been awhile since I have written for my blog, maybe that’s because we haven’t been traveling as much. Our last trip to Fort Worden was back in October and since then we have stayed put for the most part, our Fall tends to be very busy with holidays and birthdays scattered throughout most of November and December. But this year for Christmas we were blessed with an AMAZING family trip! I have written about  the wonderful family vacations with my side of the family, this year we got to go on vacation with Andrew’s side of the family. We all boarded Hawaiian Airlines after Christmas and spent the second week of Winter Break in Maui. It was a wonderful way to finish off the year and decompress from all the holiday craziness.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

We stayed in a lovely, private home in Kaanapali that we rented through Hawaiian Beach Rentals, our house was Hawaiian Dreams and it was just that, a dream! The 5 bedroom house was big enough for our group of 10, we had a pool and a view overlooking the water. This was both Andrew and my first trip to Hawaii in over 20 years so we were ready to see the island.

The Gorohoff  helicopter crew with our pilot.

The Gorohoff helicopter crew with our pilot.

The first full day in Maui we took the girls and Andrew’s parents on a helicopter trip to see the entire island with Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours. Even though it was bit cloudy we still got some amazing views and photos. I was a little nervous, but our pilot was calm and cool, as were our girls. It makes it hard to be nervous and paranoid when your 10 year old and 7 year old are the ones telling YOU that everything will be okay. Although we didn’t get to see Oprah’s private ranch, we did see the road she built (or had built) for herself, we saw some humpback whales and babies, and tons

Humpback whales. One male, an escort male and a baby.

Humpback whales. One male, an escort male and a baby.

of waterfalls and rainbows. And this was just our first day!

During the trip we also took a surf lesson, our instructor from Zack Howard Surf, was great!  Although we have all surfed before it was nice to have an instructor to give us some tips for surfing in Hawaii, like staying off the bottom of the ocean. There are tons of

Gorohoff surfers and our instructor.

Gorohoff surfers and our instructor.

coral and sea urchin, so unlike some of the beaches in Washington, we had to paddle all the way out to the big waves. He was also super helpful with our girls, helping them get up on the boards (although Nadia had no trouble with that) and teaching them how to paddle out and get out to the waves.

Nadia riding the wave!

Nadia riding the wave!

The highlight of the entire surfing experience was NO WET SUIT!! The water was so warm, it was hard to get out. Our lesson was only an hour and a half, and we had other things to do that day, but if I had been on my own, I think I might have surfed the entire trip!

One thing we made sure to do everyday (a few times each day) was eat! We ate some great food. The fresh fish and fruit in Hawaii is amazing! We ate at all the different restaurants in Whalers Village, since that was just a short walk from our house, plus it was a good place to start, then head to the beach. We also hired an amazing chef to cook for us a couple nights so no one had to deal with groceries, dinner or clean up! Ann-Marie from Maui Fresh Chef was wonderful! We had lovely appetizers, main courses and desserts with plenty for leftovers to enjoy the next day. This was especially a treat for New Year’s Eve since finding a reservation for 10 on NYE is always tricky, but with 3 kids, its not as relaxing as it could be. Eating at our own home, shoes off, with our beautiful view was a perfect way to ring in the New Year.

Sunrise on Haleakala

Sunrise on Haleakala

We barely made it to the Seattle New Year since Andrew, Anna and I started our day at 3am to take sunrise photos at the top of Haleakala, The House of the Sun. We started early to beat the crowds and get some star photos. This was a great plan, and lots of other people agreed, we didn’t really beat any crowds, but luckily there was enough sunrise to go around! And the stars were amazing from up on top of the mountain. Although I didn’t get any great star photos, Anna and Andrew did. *Note to new camera owners: When you get a camera for Christmas, figure out the settings before you are standing in the dark on the top of the mountain. Overall, it was well worth the 3am wake up call.

And as you need to do in Hawaii, we carved out some quality down time. We made sure to have a few days of just relaxing on the beach or next to the pool. We snorkeled at Black Rock which was super fun. The girls enjoyed jumping off the rocks and watching the other crazy people jump from even higher.

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

We also took a crazy day trip and drive on The Road to Hana (which Andrew really enjoyed driving) to another part of Haleakala National Park. We hiked on the Pipiwai Trail & to the Waimoku Falls. We didn’t make it to the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) because after our 4 mile hike and swim in the falls we were all pretty pooped.

The girls and daddy playing in the waterfall (before the boulder fell)

The girls and daddy playing in the waterfall (before the boulder fell)

The falls were amazing and we realized their power when a giant boulder came crashing off the rock wall, falling near a man that was posing for a photo under the falls (just steps away from where we were playing earlier – note to anyone heading there, read the signs and follow the rules, they are there for a reason). After that heart pounding experience, we were ready to get back on the windy Road to Hana and head into Lahaina for our dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate – a quick change of clothes on the side of the road and we were ready to go!

The last night of our trip was my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with a luau at the Old Lahaina Luau. Everything about the Luau was wonderful, we walked in and were greeted with mai tais and fruity drinks. There was plenty of entertainment, games, photographers and pig digging up to enjoy before dinner started. Dinner was traditional Hawaiian food like Poi (which I was not a fan of), Ahi Poke, Kalua Puaʻa, Laulau and much more. After the main course, Ken got his own birthday platter of treats and a birthday song. Then we enjoyed the dancing and music of the luau. It was a perfect way to end a perfect trip.

Old Lahaina Luau

Old Lahaina Luau

Hang Loose!

Hang Loose!

Hawaii is an amazing place with beautiful areas to explore. Eighty degree weather every day, beach and surf all around you, I completely understand why people want to call it home. I will definitely be back and hopefully sooner than another 20 years, there is much more exploring, surfing and relaxing to do there! Until next time Hawaii, Aloha & Mahalo for the great trip!

Fort Worden State Park – Go if you can!

image (15)If you are into camping, biking, hiking, the beach, history and the great outdoors, you should check out Fort Worden State Park. It is just a short drive and ferry trip away from Seattle and worth a visit! This was our destination for our very first camper trip and we had such a great time we went back almost exactly one year later. Fort Worden has tons of trails for biking and hiking, there are houses and cabins for those that don’t want to camp and lots of community rooms and activities, they even have a yoga studio on the grounds.

We have some great friends that live in Port Townsend, so when we are there we get to visit them too, which makes the trip even more fun. This past weekend, we were able to host dinner one night at our camper and the second night we got to go indoors for dinner at their house.

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Saturday was a full day, while my friend and I popped into a yoga class in Port Townsend, Andrew and the girls biked down to the beach. Then we all made a visit to an awesome pumpkin patch in Sequim, we got some great pumpkins, ate some yummy kettle corn and the kids got to get lost in the corn maze. Sunday morning we took our time heading out and took another long bike ride to see all the forts on the hill and then back down to the beach again. Lots of fun, enjoying the rare October sun and the beautiful outdoors, before we had to head back to reality.

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image (14)Everyone always asks if we ever stay home? My answer: Not if we can help it! Too much responsibility all week long, the weekends are for fun and we are on a mission to find it where ever we can!

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Oh Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson…We are so bummed to have missed you!

View of the theater from our camp site

View of the theater from our camp site

Way back in the spring my husband and I were listening to the radio and heard an ad for Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson coming to The Gorge Amphitheater in September. The girls love their music, we figured it would be a fun, family concert and The Gorge is an awesome venue to see any show. We knew in late September it might be a little cold but it will be okay. We planned to go over in the camper, spend the weekend and have a great time rockin’ out.

Well, the weather had other plans for us.

We headed to Eastern Washington on Friday night after school, the weather was fine as we drove over, even nice enough for us to have a glass of wine outside before going to bed Friday night. When we woke up on Saturday morning, the crowds were coming in for the show, the Terrace Camping area was filling up and people were getting excited. Our family passed the time by playing cards, frisbee, a little volleyball and walking around checking out the area.

Hanging out before we head to the show.

Hanging out before we head to the show.

By 5pm, the concert doors were getting ready to open and we were ready for the show. At this time it was pretty windy, in fact the wind was pretty strong all afternoon, blowing people’s tents and canopies all over the place. We had an early dinner and packed up all our blankets, extra hats, gloves, tarps, etc. Making sure we were prepared for whatever weather we encountered, we were going to make it through that concert!

But the weather and the show producers had other ideas. After the opening band, Rozzi Crane performed, there was a bit of slow down in action. People kept moving back and forth on the stage moving equipment, for what we thought was for the next act. But in reality it was being taken down. We started to see crowds of people leave the amphitheater, as we huddled under our blue tarp, staying dry from the rain that was now blowing sideways, I would not leave until I heard that the show was officially cancelled. And then, our friend Adam Levine came out and told the crowd “This sucks guys!” … yes it does Adam! And then running in from off stage is Kelly Clarkson, “I had to run over here from my bus, sorry guys we have to cancel”. LAME! That is what we all said. We get it the wind was blowing sideways, there was huge metal scaffolding on the stage that these performers were going to have to spend the next few hours under in the wind and rain. If anything fell, they would be dead. We get it, Safety First.

Pop-star Nadia waiting for the show to start

Pop-star Nadia waiting for the show to start

But I must say we were a little more than disappointed. Poor Nadia, who desperately wants to be a pop-star when she grows up, really wanted to get some pointers from KC on stage. I will give props to Ticketmaster, they are refunding everyone’s tickets and even our camping. And I didn’t have to make one phone call, we got an email and it will be back on our credit card. In the end, we basically got a free weekend of camping. I was secretly hoping that Maroon 5 was going to pop over to the Terrace Camping for some coffee and donuts on Sunday morning and do a few acoustic songs… no such luck… a girl can dream!  So, until next time, we will remember maybe no concerts at The Gorge after Labor Day and we will have to wait and see Maroon 5 indoors next time they come to town.

Huddled together, still having fun, even without a show

Huddled together, still having fun, even without a show

mice…ugh

I am really not a fan of mice. ***WARNING: This might get graphic, it was not a fun time and if you are squeamish you may not want to read on.*** I actually put myself a little bit in the squeamish category which is why I have to write about it, so I can stop thinking about it. But they might come back that’s the problem. Ugh.

So here’s the story, once the girls started back at school I started hearing weird sounds around the house, scuffling, scratching, what I thought might be the ghost of Lola. I knew it probably was not Lola and more likely mice or rats, so I called a pest control company I used to use while I was working in property management – Willard’s Pest Control. They really have been great and helpful. They crawled under the house and into the attic to check for critters, blocked off all the entry points on the exterior of the house and laid out traps all around the house. Which is great, but guess what, the mice don’t come around when people are around, they wait until you leave.

Now we have a new ritual when we come home from any outing, we check the traps. The first mouse we caught was with the snap trap under our sink, the little guy was killed on the spot. The girls and I found him after the first Willard’s visit. We all screamed like little girls, then I stepped up and just swept him into the trash. It was not easy and I nearly threw up and cried a bit. I imagine some people might be wondering where was Andrew for all this fun? Well, all this happened during the work day, and apparently this is one of the lovely tasks that you get when you work from home. And really the first one to see it, is the one to deal with it, because you can’t let it sit there and wait for the husband or the exterminator to take it away. At least I could not do that and the girls would not leave it alone.

Yesterday was really the worst. We knew that the little guys were around the house because on Friday we found our peaches with mouse sized bites out of them.

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Luckily, Willard’s was scheduled for a follow up visit on Monday, so I showed him the picture and told him about the turds we found in Siena’s room. He said that mice are sneakier than rats, so we needed to set more traps all around the house (not just under the sink). This time he set out sticky traps because the snap trap obviously didn’t get the one eating the peach. But the problem is the sticky trap doesn’t kill them right away. Mice get stuck alive and eventually bury their face in the glue, then suffocate to death – so horrible. So, he put the traps out, we left the house for a few hours and when we came home from Parkour (distraction link, getting to the worst part) we found the peach eater (or one of his friends) right out on my kitchen floor, stuck in the trap eating peanuts. I had to get rid of it, the girls both saw it, we all screamed, cried, I called my neighbor (not sure what I was hoping she could do) but it bought me some time. I sent Andrew a text: FUCK. I hate mice. He was on his bike so he didn’t see it until it was too late. As he biked up the driveway, he asked me why I was crushing the garbage with the cinder block? He obviously had not read my text.

So there you have it, I have killed 2 mice and it feels horrible. I really need them to get out of my house, this is not something I can live with.