it’s funny how often we get stopped by people so that they can ask about the kids and their bikes. i’m not sure if it is because the bikes seem different since they have no pedals or if they stop us because they are amazed at the crazy bike handling skills alexa and hayden have… it may be a combo of both.
the bikes are made by a company called strider bikes. they are balance bikes, meaning they have no pedals or training wheels. the purpose is to teach kids balance first… and let me tell you, they work brilliantly! hayden has better balance than any of us. he can take off on the bike and prop his heels up on the inside of the bike and just coast. it is pretty incredible! we can’t say enough about these bikes! hayden started riding his when he was just under 2 years old and alexa had just turned 3. if you are thinking about bikes as gifts for christmas, these come highly recommended from us! check them out!
i have always wanted to go to a christmas tree farm and chop down a tree… since our family was in town over the holidays it seemed like the perfect opportunity for this adventure. instead of shopping on black friday we all packed into a minivan and drove upstate to abel’s tree farm. my mom, my sister gaby and my brother john-henry came with us–the kids have loved having so much family around.
it was such a beautiful day, but it was absolutely freezing… snow on the ground freezing! my intention was to take family photos for our holiday cards, but it didn’t work out so well… we were still able to snag a bunch of cute pictures.
alexa finally moved on from her green patagonia jacket to a red one… i never knew a kid could love a certain kind of jacket so much. i guess hayden gets the green one now. (for those who have asked, she has worn a 3t from age 1.5-3.5 .. we just got her a 4t and it is a little big, but will probably fit for another year or two even.
the skirts: i’m sure you’ve noticed that alexa and i are wearing the same taffeta skirts… aren’t they so fun! my friend and super chic mama with a lovely blog, bel & beau, is the creator of these amazing skirts. i love the idea of these fancy skirts being designed to be dressed up or dressed down. i paired mine with a simple striped tee and booties from rag & bone. alexa has worn hers almost every day since she got it… i mean, it kind of is the perfect skirt for a little princess!
isn’t it funny that when you have so many options it is so difficult to make a decision… this is true in every kind of situation i guess. there were hills after hills of trees and there were so many options… each looking better than the last! also, it didn’t help that i tend to want the biggest tree possible and nate is constantly reasoning with me about how impractical that is for a new york apartment… blah blah blah eventually we compromised, made our choice and then nate got ready to chop down the tree.
the funny thing about going to the parade on thanksgiving day is that everyone thinks you are a tourist… i guess i can’t blame people since our new york friends think we are a little crazy for going to the parade too. the truth is, i ADORE the parade. it is one of those amazing memories i have as a kid… watching the parade every thanksgiving morning with the anticipation of santa arriving. i was so excited to bring the kids this year, but it was so cold and windy we were worried it would be too much… and as nate put it, it would have been more for us than for them. so, my brother, nate and i got up at 6am and made our way up to central park west to wait for the parade to start. as usual… it was magical.
after pumpkin picking this past saturday we stopped by for a visit at the alicia adams alpaca farm. alicia, her husband daniel and their children raise suri alpacas in stanfordville, new york. daniel met up with us in the afternoon to give us a tour of the farm and introduce us to the alpacas. walking up to a beautiful field of alpacas was magical, but seeing them up close was a bit surreal.
aren’t these animals just incredible? they felt so peaceful and almost as if they wanted to communicate with us. alexa and hayden weren’t scared in the least, even though the alpacas were quite larger than them. they peacefully roamed around and let the kids observe.
alicia and daniel raise suri alpacas. alpacas are a domesticated species from south america… they are smaller than llamas and unlike llamas, who are bread to work, alpacas are bred for their fiber. learn more about the alpaca fiber here.
after we toured the farm daniel took us to their studio where we were able to see the beautiful products that are made from the alpaca wool. it was all so beautiful, but i fell in love with the throws… they came in every color you could imagine… we bought a beautiful herringbone classic throw in oatmeal. i also purchased a beautiful baby blue herringbone blanket for ivanka trump’s newest little one as a gift from our team at work. for those of you that don’t know, i am working for her now as her vp of creative and she just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named joseph, visit ivanka’s tumblr to see pictures of her beautiful family!
i have a feeling i will be frequenting the alicia adams website when i start my holiday shopping–be sure to visit their site to see all of their beautiful products.
thank you to daniel and family for giving our family such a magical experience.
this weekend was seriously the absolute best. my mom and little sister came into town and we had a long list of activities planned. it started with celebrating my mom’s birthday on friday night (pictures on instagram!). saturday was an action packed day that started with a road trip to upstate new york to go pumpkin picking (courtesy of the lovely folks at lilla p!).
it is amazing how the landscape changes within an hours drive outside of new york city–rolling hills and leaves in every shade of autumn. we made our journey out to a pumpkin patch at rocky reef farm in stanfordville, new york. we learned a lesson a couple years back about these kind of “fall activities,” the further outside the city you go, the better! a couple years ago we went to one of those apple and pumpkin picking extravaganzas in a nearby town in new jersey and i think most of manhattan was there too! this farm was the opposite… it was quaint, uncrowded and positively perfect for toddlers to play (we did our fair share of playing as well).
another bonus to this day was the weather. i love the fall… there is nothing better than sweater weather… especially when it is the right balance of cozy, casual and chic like the one i am wearing from lilla p! it is also a good time to break out the moccasins and boots. happy to say goodbye to sandals and sundresses for a season or two.
stay tuned… i’ll post the next part of our weekend journey tomorrow. thanks lilla p for treating us to such a fantastic day!
one of our best investments for the kids, as far as activities are concerned, has been a membership to the new york wild conservation society–this includes access to all the zoos and the aquarium. amazingly there are 4 zoos to visit in the city–the bronx zoo, central park, prospect park and queens. the nice thing about a membership is that you don’t feel the pressure of making an entire day out of a visit… just going for a couple hours is perfect–it’s not necessary to see every living species in one day!
yesterday we decided to go to the bronx zoo. it was a fantastic day for a zoo visit–cool weather, sunny skies and no crowds! it’s about an hour via subway to get to the zoo–much of the trip was above ground and the kids love watching the city pass by.
alexa stole my new sunglasses, since i forget hers. not a bad look little lady… very brigitte bardot in her stripes!
my favorite part about the bronx zoo is how spacious it is. all the pathways are full of trees and there is room to run around and simply enjoy the open area… this is something we value greatly considering we live in new york city.
the kids were mesmerized by all the turtles and tortoises… and so were nate and i! i think i was as excited about seeing the animals as they were. it is a different experience to go to the zoo when you are looking at the animals through the eyes of a toddler.
among the many great exhibits, they also had live music and a pretty cool dinosaur parade! the month of october is called “boo at the zoo”–every weekend features hay mazes, costume parades, musical theater and magic shows. while i knew this, i didn’t realize how many kids would be at the zoo in costume this weekend. this was not a good thing for us since alexa saw many little girls in princess dresses. she was not happy about the fact that she did not have her princess dress as well. we aren’t really sure how we were able to make it through the day without a colossal melt down… i think if she hadn’t been so into the animals we would have been totally screwed. it isn’t like they were selling costumes in the gift shop!
today was a very full day. it started out early at the joffrey school for alexa’s first ballet class of the season (it was precious as always). then my little sister gaby–aka tia gaby–came to visit us from college and we all jumped on the f train and headed out to prospect park for nickelodeon’s worldwide day of play. our friend’s at strider bikes recommended that we go to the event and we are so glad we did. we couldn’t believe how many people came out, it was crazy. although there were tons of fun activities, the only thing that mattered to alexa was meeting the “characters.” from our point of view it seemed a little nuts to wait in a line of 30 people to meet adults dressed up in team umizoomi costumes, but i guess you have to think like a three year old.
the event had a pretty incredible stage with performances from ariana grande and big time rush… so, i had no idea who these teen bands were, but not going to lie, they have a seriously impressive twitter following (my little sis gaby was pretty psyched about ariana grande).
I love the water. It doesn’t matter if it’s the ocean or the pool. I have found, however, that i’m no longer a fan of direct sun for hours on end. So, as long as there is an umbrella or some natural shade that I can perch under, i’m good for hours. Having said that, I think we all can get a bit “burned” out with the water scene. Luckily for us, the Fairmont Mayakoba had just enough extra entertainment to keep our family occupied while we weren’t in our swim attire.
There was a pretty cool outdoor kids play area that we checked out. It’s located at the main pool area and was easy to spot. The big attraction was a rope ladder that linked the main play area to an upper deck. This upped deck allowed the kids to walk around the perimeter of the play area, giving them a great birds eye view. Alexa and Hayden were happy to pause in this “bucket” for a moment (photo above) while I grabbed my camera. After that, we spent a few minutes meeting some local monkeys and playing hopscotch.
The biggest hit (with all of us) was the boat tour of the property. They run it every hour on the half hour (just make a reservation first). Not only was it entertaining for the kids, but Marissa and I enjoyed it as well. In another example of the small world we live in, our captain had lived in Brooklyn while he studied English. He was very informative and super nice. We saw tons of fish, some cool reptiles, and even a small crocodile. There is also a stunning golf course that Greg Norman designed called the El Camaleon. The El Camaleon will even host a PGA tour this November!
Another thing we do well is just enjoying each others company. Whether we are hanging out at the lunch table or walking about, we try to keep it light and fun. It really helped that the staff were so nice and accommodating. The kids were welcome everywhere, and some folks even knew their names by the end of the trip. Thinking back, I think the staff around the pool area came to know us best. With an amazing bar facing the ocean and multiple pools, it was a spot made for us.
Ohh the golf carts. The golf carts really brought it all together. The grounds are massive, and the only way to get from the lobby to the pool to the beach and back is by golf cart. They run these carts 24/7 and they really make it easy to get to where you want to be. The kids enjoyed waiting and watching as the carts would come over a bridge or from around a blind corner. Alexa insisted that they were called go-carts. It was so cute.
When it was time to say goodbye to Mexico, the kids gave us little to no push back. We realized after day 3 that we may have pushed our trip a couple days too far. Alexa started to miss her toys and, more specifically, “Brooklyn”. If it weren’t for the pool and the beach friendly toys that Marissa had packed, we would have had a tough time with Alexa. Maybe Hayden is too young to care or just too chill to care, but you could tell he too was ready when we finally headed to the airport. I also have to give full credit to Marissa for packing for this trip. I can barely pack for myself, so the idea of packing for kids is daunting. Luckily, I married a great woman that can handle this. She loaded (and I mean loaded) us up with snacks and toys and coloring books. In the beginning it seemed like overkill, but we really used everything we brought…right down to the last snack.
For me, I take away from this trip a lot of great memories and the concept of “bring more than you think you will need”. If not for the latter, our trip would not have been nearly as relaxing. Remember…If your kids are relaxed, you are relaxed! — Nate
i can’t believe almost a week in mexico already came and went. it was amazing and just what the doctor ordered. after much contemplation (and hours of debating where we should go… where we should stay…) we decided to go to playa del carmen and stayed at the fairmont mayakoba, riviera maya–it was spectacular. we wanted to find a resort that was luxurious for us, but kid-friendly for the little ones and we definitely think we made the right decision.
i am going to have to break the recap up into a couple of posts because there are just too many good memories to document. the thing about beach vacations is that they are a little bit of the same every day… wake up, eat breakfast (which was incredible here, by the way), go to the beach, the pool, dinner and then bed. normally i don’t handle monotony well, which is why i normally insist on european vacations, but in this case i was ready to kind of turn off decision making and coast in auto-pilot for awhile.
the first day we hit the beach straight away. it took awhile for alexa and hayden to enjoy playing in the sand–and they were pretty much scared of the water for half the day–but, eventually they realized that making sand castles and throwing sand in daddy’s face was pretty entertaining.
i am so thankful that nate loves to be in the ocean. little known fact about me (or, well known amongst family and friends)–i am terrified of the ocean and have a general distaste for being in the water in general. i can handle the pool, as long as its not too cold, but i cannot handle the ocean. i love sitting by it, being on boats, etc, but i am absolutely paralyzed by the thought of fish, crabs, and maybe even seaweed. i don’t know where the fear came from, but i wish i could make it go away. regardless, i still love being near water–as long as i don’t really have to go in!!
one of my best decisions in pre-trip planning was to buy a new set of beach toys–they were a hit!
the funny thing about toddlers is how opinionated they can be… by this i mean that we only got in one day at the beach because they were insistent upon spending everyday in the pool. we normally don’t give into their every whim, but i happen to prefer laying out by the pool without all the sand to fuss with. that was also one great part about this resort, the pool was right by the beach so it was the best of both worlds. after an afternoon at the beach, it was time to hit the pool.
amongst my favorite purchases for the trip, these two swimming floats were so great. alexa actually ended up swimming all by herself for the first time in hers and hayden was safe and easy to spot in his neon green float!
that is a wrap for the first post. stay tuned for the next post… nate will share some more highlights from the fairmont hotel and share some shots with you about what we did at the resort when we weren’t in the water!
travel tuesdays is becoming one of my favorite columns… it is also adding a lot of vacation spots to my bucket list. a friend of mine recently went to turkey and i followed her journey on instagram and was completely enchanted. i told her she had to give me the inside scoop so that i could be sure to add it to my list of travel spots with the little ones. enjoy her photos and tips for traveling in turkey!
A NOTE FROM ASHLEY:
Simon, Annabel and I just returned from a trip to Turkey with good friends (who also have an almost 2 year old) which proved to be one of the most incredible and beautiful vacations of all time. We stayed at a picturesque villa perched on a hillside in Turkbuku overlooking the Aegean Sea on the Bodrum Peninsula. We spent our days at Macakizi sunning on the beautiful docks that jet over the azure waters, swimming and chasing our little ones. The 90 degree heat was hardly apparent with the constant refreshing breezes. The days quickly turned into perfect sun-drenched summer evenings sipping cocktails still in our bathing suits – hearing the call to prayer in the distant hills. It was certainly also an inspiring trip with the vibrant colors of the bougainvillea and sea and the rusty colors of the native pottery and striking ikats (see below). Stay tuned for the next collection! Check out some of my favorite shots from the trip. – Ashley Dodgen-McCormick
A little inside scoop about Ashley: Ashley is the owner of ASHA, a beautiful line of jewelry based here in New York. Her line of jewelry incorporates semiprecious stones, natural materials, and sterling silver dipped in 14K yellow and white gold. Her designs are influenced by her travels around the world… her designs are reflect architectural motifs and vintage pieces found throughout her travels. My favorite pieces from her collections are the zodiac charms. I have a pendant necklace with zodiac charms for me and the little ones–two cancers and one aries!