travel

Family Apple Picking // 2015

September 28, 2015

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Over the weekend, we celebrated the Harvest Moon and went apple picking. It’s one of our favorite family traditions and a perfect way to kick off autumn. Although there are lots of orchards nearby, I spent awhile searching for an organic one. It turns out that there are only four organic orchards in all of New York State, so we were grateful when we found one just 35-minutes away.

We went to Slate Hill Orchard and had the most amazing day. The orchard is on the smaller side, but we went on a Friday afternoon so we practically had the whole place to ourselves. The orchard is on the sweetest little farm. There are pretty fields, a beautiful pond, and wildflowers growing everywhere. It was so peaceful. There was no noise except for the tractor passing by and the occasional chirping of birds.

Roman had a blast picking apples from the trees. He ate five while we were out there! After picking, we made our way back to the market where we picked up a feast for lunch. Homemade quiche, lobster bisque, organic juices, and cookies & apple cider donuts for dessert. We ate beneath an umbrella in the outdoor seating area.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Perfect weather, well-behaved babies, and delicious food. Several times that day, I said that I felt like the luckiest Mama in the world. And I truly am.

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

Organic Apple Picking // livelovesimple.com

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NY Renaissance Faire // 2015

September 21, 2015

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

Over the weekend, I made my annual trip to the NY Renaissance Faire. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve been going with my best friend since we were little girls. It’s pretty incredible to be attending with my own little babies now. ♥ It was Roman’s second trip and Marina’s first.

We had a beautiful day full of sweet memories, delicious food, friendship, and fun. Roman got his face painted for the first time, too. I had no idea how he would behave for it, but he sat like a champ & he was in love with his “dragon face” when he saw it in the mirror.

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

NY Renaissance Faire // livelovesimple.com

Just for fun, here’s a look back at past Renaissance Faires: 2014 // 2013 // 2012 // 2011.

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Happy Monday, friends. Have a beautiful week! xo

Family Camping // Labor Day Weekend 2015

September 9, 2015

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We spent Labor Day weekend camping with my sister and her family. This is our second year camping at this campground. (You can see last year’s trip here and my tips for camping with toddlers here.) Last year’s trip was amazing — one of our best family getaways to date. This year’s trip was equally amazing, at times. It was also fraught with a lot of stress and some heartache.

Camping with one toddler is a lot different than camping with one toddler and one high-needs baby. We spent three nights there, and I actually ended up taking Marina home for nights two and three. Two hours of sleep just wasn’t going to cut it for this mama with our busy camp life schedule. Gratefully, the campground is just about a 15-minute drive from our house, so ducking out at dusk and returning just after sunrise was no trouble. It allowed me to come home and sleep with my girl without missing out on too much camping fun.

I only took a fraction of the photographs that I would have liked to because most of my time was spent with my girl in my arms or pushing the stroller around the lake. Still, there’s something indescribably magical & wonderful about camping and we all had an amazing time. Campfires, s’mores, camp food — burgers, dogs, pasta salads, miniature golf, boating, fishing, swimming in the lake. All of my favorite things. We made some beautiful memories.

I mentioned it in last year’s post, but the camp that we go to is the Girl Scout camp that my sister and I attended during our childhoods. Returning there with my own babies fills my heart with so much joy. It also reminds me of how excited I am to be Marina’s troop leader one day!

I’m pretty sure that Roman had the best time of his little life playing & exploring all day with his cousins. Seeing the excitement in his eyes during all of their little adventures was just everything to me. Matthew & I stopped, almost hourly, to pause and give thanks for this blessed life that we live.

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family camping // livelovesimple.com
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family camping // livelovesimple.com

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This trip filled & stretched my heart. I learned a lot, but my greatest lessons were about letting go.

Firstly, about letting go of expectations. Having a high-needs baby means that no matter how hard you try or how well you plan, certain things will not go the way that you were hoping — and that’s okay.

Secondly, I had to let go of control in a way that I was completely unprepared for when I made the decision to leave Roman & M. overnight. That was beyond terrifying & heartbreaking for me. I cried, resisted, and basically had a tantrum. But ultimately, I let go and put my faith in Matthew, my sister, and God to take care of my baby boy while I was away. It was hard, but it was good and I am so grateful that I found the strength to let go. Returning in the morning and hearing his stories about the campfire & sleeping in the tent with his Papa made it all worthwhile. ♥

The Sunflower Maze

August 31, 2015

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

Over the weekend, we took a trip to one of the sunflower farms in our area. A lot of people don’t realize just what a beautiful state New Jersey is. There is so much to see & do here, especially in Northern New Jersey where we live. There are so many beautiful farms nearby and late summer into autumn is my favorite time to visit them. We’ve got lots of plans for the coming months including apple picking, pumpkin picking, and farm & farmer’s market visits.

Visiting the sunflower maze was the first check off of our “Autumn To-Do List.” We met up with our friends and had the most beautiful morning exploring the sunflower maze. Roman had a lot of fun on the hay ride, too. He has his own little John Deere tractor at home, so seeing the real, big ones in-person is always a treat for him.

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sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

sunflower maze // livelovesimple.com

After the farm, we headed to The Chatterbox for lunch. It’s a family-owned fifties style “drive-in” restaurant that has received lots of awards & has been featured on The Food Network. It was our first time there and it really lived up to the hype. The food was delicious & the decor was spot on. I didn’t take any pictures because lunch out with our dynamic duo is really a feat in itself, but we had a fantastic time. (It was also our first time ever taking Marina out to eat and she did great!)

I hope that you had a fantastic weekend, friends. Here’s to the beautiful week before us.

By the Seashore

July 28, 2015

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

Six months ago, when I booked this vacation, I knew that planning a trip with a two-year-old and a four-month-old in tow was a risky endeavor. In the end, it proved to be every bit as difficult as I’d anticipated… and then some. Gratefully there were lots of beautiful memories tucked in there that made it all worth it in the end.

Roman had a blast heading out to the boardwalk and riding the amusement rides. It was the first time that he was tall enough to ride. I simply can’t express the joy that I felt watching the smile on his face as he whizzed around in the warm July sunshine. He also went on his very first roller coaster ride with his Papa. I laughed so hard watching them that my stomach actually hurt. The people around me surely thought that I was a mad woman.

He played arcade & boardwalk games for the first time, too. The water guns were a favorite, as well as a “Play-’til-You-Win” crane game that gave out rubber duckies. We came home with five new, colorful rubber duckies that he is still loving at the moment.

One day, Matthew took Marina for a couple of hours while I took Roman to the water park. They have a fantastic toddler area. Roman had a ball running around, going down the slides, and splashing in the fountains. He is such a cautious boy. He gets that from me. I am constantly telling him to watch his step — and for good reason, he’s so clumsy. It was fascinating to watch him among so many other toddlers. They are all very different in their mannerisms, bravery, & maturity levels. After awhile, I took Roman over to the “Lazy River” where I placed him on my lap as we floated around the river, under bridges & waterfalls, beneath hanging wooden fish, and so on. It was the highlight of the trip for me. It was so special to have those hours of uninterrupted time with my little guy. Those moments are few & far between these days. I cherished it dearly and my heart was bursting with gratitude by the end of it.

My mom wheeled the kids around the boardwalk for a couple of evenings so that M. and I could have two childless dates — such a treat. We had our first dinner at the Mexican restaurant that is home to my favorite shrimp & lobster quesadillas. I had a massive & delicious raspberry margarita to go with my meal. We sat outside on the deck with a gorgeous view looking out over the beach. It was heavenly really.

It wasn’t all sunshine and smiles, though. Marina was a handful, as ever. And Roman had a lot of tantrums and grumpiness fueled by lack of quality sleep. All of that was to be expected. However, there was one epic disaster of a day that I could have never imagined in my wildest nightmares. It was the worst day that I have ever experienced as a mother and one of the worst days of my life as a whole.

Most days, we took the kids over to the pool at the motel where my aunt was staying. It was easier than trekking out to the beach every day. On the day that we finally decided to head to the beach it was extremely overcast and humid. We thought that would be a great thing — less sun and a good opportunity to cool down in the sea.

What we didn’t realize, however, was that it was also the perfect weather for biting beach flies. When we got to the beach, we quickly unpacked our things and set up our umbrella so that we had shade for Marina. I blew up Roman’s little pool and then started making trips with his play buckets to and from the ocean to fill it up. When I was about halfway through filling, the flies started biting. By the time I was finished, they were attacking. We knew that we had to do something, so I left Roman with M. and walked back up to the boardwalk to hunt for some bug spray. Typically we only use organic bug sprays, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we were desperate. When I got back to our spot on the beach, we all got a spray down with bug spray (except the baby). We tried to go about our business, but the flies were relentless. It was like the bug spray did nothing at all.

Within minutes after my return, the flies were literally swarming. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Roman was covered. I saw that he was bleeding where they were biting him and that’s when I’d had enough. I screamed to M. that I had to get the babies off the beach. I picked up Marina and took Roman by the hand and we started running toward the boardwalk. The sand was so hot and Roman said his feet were burning, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t physically carry both babies. We had to keep going. The flies were still attacking us.

We finally made it up to the boardwalk. There was a girl selling beach passes. I frantically asked her to take the baby so that I could put Roman’s shoes on. She said that she’d never held a baby. The flies were still attacking! I yelled, please just take her and handed her off. As I was putting his sandals on, she explained that she and her colleagues were getting bitten too. I got Roman’s shoes on, took the baby back, and we took off toward our house. When we were halfway there, Roman fell in the middle of a parking lot and scraped open his arm. I was holding his hand but we were just moving too fast as the flies were still biting. When we finally got back to our beach house, I realized that we were locked out. There was nothing we could do except sit there and wait in the blistering heat, flies still biting, Roman’s arm bleeding.

I had just trekked to the beach, setup and filled a baby pool, trekked to the boardwalk for bug spray, trekked back off the beach, and finally made it home — all in the blistering heat. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted. I don’t know how much time passed before M. showed up carrying all of our things and the key to the house. When we finally got inside, I broke down. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I didn’t care at all about my pain, I was gutted by the fact that Roman had gotten bitten and I was helpless to save him.

That afternoon, I laid down for a nap with Marina. When I woke up, I felt horribly ill. Within hours, I was shivering violently and I had a full body ache. It felt like I had a horrible flu that came on very quickly. It was scary and we came very close to heading to an urgent care center. I still don’t know exactly what it was but I imagine it was my body going into some sort of shock as a result of the trauma of the day. Gratefully, I was able to sleep and felt much better in the morning. Roman was mostly unfazed. He had no marks from the bites and we fixed up his scrape with ointment and a band-aid. Marina didn’t get bitten, thank God!

It was an awful experience that put a damper on an already stressful trip. But, what can you do. Life happens. We braved the beach again a couple of days later (when it wasn’t overcast!) and we had a beautiful time. Overall, the trip was stressful, but we had fun and made a bunch of beautiful memories. I am sure that one day we will look back on “the terror of the flies” and laugh — that day, however, is a long time away from now!

I’m glad to report that I got lots of photos of the happy moments, so that’s what I want to focus on. Enjoy!

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

Just for fun, here is Roman’s first trip to the shore and his second trip to the shore. My goodness, how these years are flying. I’ll take a vacation from my “vacation” now, please. 😉 xo

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