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Monday, 19 May 2014

Army Week & the East Coast

Army Week is a 'week' (technically a few days) that involves the defence member travelling to Washington D.C to visit the Australian Embassy & personnel to hear all about what 'not to do' whilst on exchange here in the USA (ok...maybe a few 'what to do's' as well). It involved a fair few meet & greets & attending some info sessions for Hubby, as well as a morning tea for the partners to all meet one another & discuss how our travels have been going. The Embassy also puts on a compulsory cocktail function & a trip to the see the Battle Grounds of Gettysburg whilst you are there for anyone interested in attending. Seen as we were already flying for approx. 4hrs with a toddler we thought we'd make the most of being on the other side of the US & add in some leave for Hubby before the 'Army Week' commenced so we could see the sights!

First up on our trip was the flight from LAX to Newark, NYC. An interesting flight with a toddler...once again...& since I have baby brain right now I unfortunately can't remember what was so interesting about it!

~New York City~

Day One: We arrived & it was raining...but there's something about NYC which enables me to enjoy every season & form of weather. Rain was better with a  toddler than the blizzard that Hubby & I experienced on one of our previous trips there :)

We thought we would just do some wandering & relax after our flight. On the taxi ride to our hotel we drove past a store front that caught our eye! Macaroons! Yummmmmm! So we went for a walk & did some taste testing. Delicious!

We also wandered through Grand Central Station & took in the amazing architecture. If I were on a trip on my lonesome I could easily pass a day with some people watching in that place.  We stopped by Times Square to show Kayla the lights & got some great pics with the rainy weather.

Day Two:
Sunshine! A tasty breakfast & then back to bed until lunchtime. From memory we were all pretty exhausted & a little out of whack with time difference from the West Coast, even though it was only a few hours. So we slept while Kayla slept! Bliss!!!

Once we woke all refreshed we were ready to hit the town. Off to Central Park to explore!! I still can't believe how massive this park is & how long it takes to walk through the entire thing.  We took Kayla to Central Park Zoo & had a great time there watching all of the animals & feeding goats (I swear her love for goats is so funny). We even walked past BEN STILLER!!! Yep! Ben Stiller was at the park filming his new movie. I was surprised at how much shorter he looks in person...& much more grey hair :) 

We had some progress with Kayla adding a new word to her vocabulary while at the Zoo! Turtle! We even had another milestone moment where she climbed stairs on her own in Central Park!!! So special!!

After exploring Central Park a little more & taking in the sights we headed toward the FAO Schwartz Toy Store. This was more for me than for Kayla :) You can't walk past this place without wanting to go & do some sweet sliding along the HUGE floor piano from the Tom Hanks movie 'Big'. It was so much fun!!! 

Kayla loved the gigantic life sized stuffed animal toys! And we had to drag her away from the super cute doll nursery.

After the day of walking that we had we were ready to head back to the hotel. Via Magnolia Bakery of course :) And I must say...the cupcakes were a little bit of a disappointment. I've had better.  We went to the store that's near Times Square & I think the ones that I had on a previous trip in the original store were much tastier.

Day Three:
More rainy weather...or should I say sleeping weather! Slept in until 11am! When we woke up we ventured to the 911 Memorial by taxi. We were a little concerned about the number of uniformed & heavily armed police men surrounding the entrance. But once inside the memorial it was such an amazing experience. The city really has gone above & beyond with the memorial site. Two large waterfalls that fall into the footprints of where the buildings once were with the names of the people who lost their lives engraved around the outside. Just amazing!!! A must see if you ever get to go to New York City.

Another new word for Kayla today & I can't quite remember how it came about...but this one is Bubbles!! 

We took Kayla on her first NYC Subway ride from the Financial District to the Upper West Side. Just as we had arrived & were trying to find somewhere to eat lunch there came a crazy down pour!! We hurried into the nearest restaurant & got ourselves a table... It took a little while to realise we had ventured into a place that is probably not usually a family restaurant kinda place. I'm not sure what it was that gave it away...the fancy glasses, no change table in the bathrooms or the group of ladies in their 30s (dressed in clothing that I'm sure they paid a fortune for but looked terrible in) sitting opposite us. We over heard them swapping stories of their 'friends' with kids who take them to places that they shouldn't be...pretty sure it was aimed at us. Oh well! They entertained us with some more rude comments about the people passing by with ponchos on & how they can't believe that people would wear something like that in their neighbourhood! Wishing I had taken a photo of them now. 

The lunch was super delicious & extremely entertaining!! Kayla allowed Jase & I to have a quite moment while she napped beside her Daddy on the seat. Then she decided she was going to be a little devil child when she woke up & cause a scene which looked something similar to the exorcist!! The only difference being was that instead of spewing everywhere with her head spinning around, she squeezed her green baby food pack everywhere & had a pretty decent tantrum to go with it! I was sitting on the opposite side of the table thankfully...it was only her Daddy who seemed to get covered in the green goo. It was on his face, all over the white linen table cloth & all over Kayla :) I couldn't help but laugh!!!! What a great parenting moment. Oh, and if only I could have captured the look on the snobby NYC girls faces when this happened! So happy we lived up to their expectations! Haha!

Lunch was delicious though! I ordered the perfect meal which came out huge & Jase seemed to luck-out on his dwarf sized meal...yes you Americans, 'luck-out' in Australia is not a positive thing! :)

After lunch the rain had eased so we walked through Greenwich Village where we found the most delicious cupcakes ever!!!! Molly's Cupcakes. Highly recommend it. They even have little swings in the store. Oh and we found another macaroon place too....yes...a little obsessed with our treats in this family!

We headed over to Union Square to go to the outlet in the hopes I would find something to wear to the Army Cocktail Party that was coming up.  I found some great dresses, one of which was a Calvin Klien Dress for $20!!! I love USA shopping!!!!


Day Four: 
Happy 2nd Mother's Day to ME!!! Hubby & Kayla went out to get me my all time fave american breaky of Bagels with Cream Cheese & a coffee. Mother's Day presents doesn't seem to be a strong point for my dear husband... My card was a NYC Tourist Postcard & my gift was a set of NYC shot glasses... The most important thing though was that I had my little family with me & I just had an amazing couple of days in my most favourite city with them. Did I mention I went to bed & woke up each morning being able to see the Empire State Building!?? The best!

Time to hit the road & head off to explore more cities on the East Coast!

Next up:
~ Baltimore ~ Philadelphia ~ Washington D.C

xoxo T

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Local Attractions ~ Part 2

Continued from: Local Attractions ~ Part 1

Then there was ANZAC Day!

In preparation of ANZAC Day, Hubby & I made homemade meat pies & I had a first attempt at ANZAC Day cookies! Meat pies were delish! 
Cookies on the other hand...a little hard :)

We attended an ANZAC Day Memorial Service which was held aboard the USS Midway Muesum in San Diego.  It was a very nice service.  A little different to the usual Aussie Dawn Service that we attend each year as it didn't start until 10am, but it was nice to have a formal event to attend in honor of the fallen ANZAC's. 

We met a bunch of great Aussies & following the memorial service we attended a reception at Buster's Beach House Grill & Lounge.  It was a little crowded, but they put on some good food, free drinks & we had great company :)  We also saw the inside of a few different pubs (as you do on ANZAC Day) in San Diego's Gaslamp District. Although, this led to a new rule for our little family....no 'shots' when Kayla is around, unless it's a shot of water of course :) It was a fun drive home for me from San Diego with Hubby in the passenger seat...after a long day out...

If you follow me on Instagram you can check out the rest of the pics there, I'm just not sure I'm 'allowed' to post any of the guys in uniform. To get an idea of the memorial service though, here's a few snapshots (without the up close & personal pics).

Even though our baby girl doesn't have any idea what ANZAC Day is about just yet, she was very well behaved during the service & put smile on some of the oldies faces with her cuteness. 
Kayla playing games across the table with her Daddy.
Following ANZAC Day, we had another BIG DAY on our calendar! Kayla's first day at Daycare!!! Well, correction....first day at Daycare without her Mummy hiding in the background :) I had taken Kayla a couple of days in the weeks leading up to her 'big day' for a short period just to get used to the surroundings & her teachers.  An easy-ing in process...more for me to get used to the idea than her I think! Haha!

Onto her first day & we both went ok with the drop off. No tears from Kayla, & no tears from me :) I had a lovely 'child-free' day out.  I spent the morning doing a spot of shopping for new clothes for Kayla...oh my goodness! I forgot how quickly you can get things done when there's no toddler hanging off of you :) However, shopping was followed by a call to my fellow Marine Wives to meet me for coffee & to keep my mind off of not having Kayla with me... It was very strange not having to put my baby girl in & out of the car, or having to carry around a bag full of nappies, snacks, drink bottles, lunch, hat & all of the other items that usually take up my nice LV knock-off handbag! I am still amazed at how many items you have to lug around for such tiny people!!!

While sitting there at Dunkin Donuts waiting for my coffee buddies (& eyeing off the scrumptious donuts & bagels!) I was secretly missing my baby girl...& it had only been a few hours! However, seeing Kayla so involved with what the other 'littlies' were doing that morning when I dropped her off was so nice.  Even nicer, was seeing her teacher Miss Inka call her over with her arms outstretched for a diaper (nappy) change & Kayla just running towards her. Adorable! I must admit...I had my doubts about how she was going to go & it didn't help that there was a little boy who was walking around crying...I just wanted to give him a BIG cuddle!!! But our little Miss Independent baby girl LOVES her Kindy! So much so, that when we arrive in the carpark, Kayla's little legs start kicking with excitement & she can't wait to get out on the playground with her friends.

The teachers took pictures of Kayla on her first day to show us how much fun she was having. I am so thankful she has such a lovely group of people taking care of her every Wednesday!
Kayla's first EVER art project at 'school' :) Learning about Zebra stripes!
Onto other days at home, & we have had plenty of tasty breakfasts, lunches & dinners out & about as a family.  Kayla enjoyed her first real American PB & J sandwich, & gigantic kids breakfasts!! Bubble baths, Elvis bubble hair-do's, handbags & a walk past a movie location from Top Gun while checking out the Thrift Stores with my M-Wives were just a few more things we did to fill in our time here in So Cal.

This is a 'clean' pic of Kayla & her first PB & J...I should've taken one at the end.
Notice her Daddy's hand there making sure she's keeping somewhat clean...
I wish he was worried about mess around the house 

just as much as he is worried about his girl getting dirty :)
Seriously! This is a kids breakfast meal at Broken Yolk! Insane or what!! ? 
Next time I'm saving some cashola & sharing with Kayla! My Dad would be proud :)
Bubble-head Elvis!
The house that the lady instructor lived in from the movie Top Gun.
Loving her new handbag!
Other spare of the moment trips we did around California was a trip to Honda Centre to watch the Anaheim Ducks! Awesome game! Great stadium...although I was close to having a panic attack when we first got to our seats that were two rows from the top! When the seats in front of you are full it's a little less scary :) 

Kayla was a little scared of this HUGE blow up hockey player.
You can see her pointing to her Mum, as if to say "Take me over there Daddy!!"
The view from our seats!
Waiting for the game to start...& holding on tight to Kayla!!

I forgot how long Hockey Games go for...
so when Kayla started to get restless she made up her own game to keep herself occupied :) 

"Where's Kayla?" 
"There she is!" 
Hubby & I joke that this kid is like a bird! Cover her up when she's grumpy or noisy 
& she'll quieten down pretty quick!
We had a great family night out at the Mighty Ducks game!! 
We also had a great evening getting to know some of our new neighbours Christine & Michael.  We had a fun time across the road at our local enjoying some drinks & warmth around the fire pit while swapping stories about our 'home' countries, bands, surfing, scuba diving & our very close day spa that Christine & I are still yet to check out!!
Family pic at the local!
Kayla enjoying her mac & cheese while we wait for our neighbours to arrive :)

All of this time spent at home called for some time to start planning our next trip away!!! Coming up was our trip to the East Coast for hubby's Army Week in Washington DC. One thing we did learn from our previous trip to Las Vegas was that Kayla's monkey covered umbrella stroller that she loved so much was a pain in the ass to push along for extended periods of time! I ended up with bruised palms from not having padded handles & the cheap wheels kept getting caught.  So off to the baby store to purchase a replacement...who would've thought it would be so hard to decide!!!!?

Seriously...do we really need this many options to overwhelm us newbie parents on something as simple as a stroller?! Anyyyyhow...Just incase you were wondering, we decided on the Mac Claren! 
Our opinion so far... Awesome choice! 
That's it for now with the local attractions & what our little trio got up to after Las Vegas! Now for the super-duper fun times & off to the East Coast!!! NYC here I come!

xoxo T