Friday, May 30, 2014

New York: Day One

Is three days enough time to really experience all that Manhattan has to offer?  Well, yes.  And no.

In three days, my mom and I saw Union Square Park, Washington Square Park, Magnolia Bakery, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the High Line, the Meatpacking District, the Flatiron District, Madison Square Park, the 9/11 memorial, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty (from a distance), the Financial District, Trinity Church, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Plaza Hotel, the Theater District, Wicked, Times Square (ish), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the view of the city from the top of Rockefeller Center.

And it was awesome.

But there are definitely things I'm going to have to go back for.  Like the Brooklyn Bridge.  And Serendipity.  And Phantom of the Opera.  And the South Street Seaport. And the Museum of Natural History.  I think Gracie and my mom and I will have to make another trip when Gracie is old enough to appreciate the magic of New York City.

But until then, I'll absolutely cherish the memories I made with my sweet momma and the hundreds of pictures that I took.  

Since we did so much, I figured breaking our trip up by day made the most sense.  And hopefully it'll helpful to any of you who are planning a trip to NYC anytime soon.  So... here we go.

{Day One:  Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the High Line}

I'm an optimistic idiot and booked a 6:00 a.m. flight out of DFW.  Which totally sucked when my alarm went off at 3:00 a.m.  But it was awesome when we got to the hotel well before noon (and were actually allowed to check in - booyah!).  

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(in the cab and SO excited!)

We stayed at the Hyatt Union Square, and I can't recommend this hotel enough.  It was phenomenal and in a fantastic location, in my opinion (very close to a central subway hub and lots of restaurants, etc. but not in the middle of the cluster-eff that is Times Square).  The rooms are small (like any other NYC hotel room) but stylish and comfortable and new.  We just loved it.  (The bathroom, in particular, was phenomenal.)

After we threw our stuff down in the room, we headed right back out to explore.  The first stop was lunch at a French cafe near our hotel (wish I could remember the name because it was delicious and so quaint), and then we walked a few blocks down to Washington Square Park.

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After lunch, we obviously needed cupcakes.  So we headed west to Magnolia Bakery for a treat.

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(I was boring and went with vanilla on vanilla, but mom's hummingbird cupcake looked to die for.)

The stroll through Greenwich Village was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip.  It's just the most adorable neighborhood, and for a little while, I felt like I really lived there.  I mean, minus the touristy cupcake and giant camera hanging from my neck.

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After our cupcakes, we headed to one of my other favorite spots in Manhattan.

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The High Line park.

This elevated park was built over an old railway, and it's seriously the neatest thing.  The lush green space is so calming, and the extra height lets you see the city from a really interesting perspective.

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We got on at what I think is the southernmost entrance to the park in the Meatpacking District (Gansevoort St., I believe) and walked all the way up to 23rd St.  If you're headed to NYC, you really shouldn't miss the High Line.

At 23rd Street, we headed back east to see the Flatiron building and Madison Square Park.

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Insane, right? I think the angle in the front is only, like, 25 degrees or something.  I'll have to ask my engineer husband how it doesn't get blown over. :)

When we saw the Shake Shack in the middle of Madison Square Park, I was regretting the fact that we'd already eaten, as the burgers there are apparently fairly epic.  Next time...

At this point, we were wiped out.  It doesn't sound like we covered much ground, but we walked for nearly 3.5 hours straight, and we both needed a rest.  So we headed back to the hotel for a nap.

Dinner that first night was at Max Brenner.  The food was okay (I had fancy mac and cheese, and Mom had something chicken-ish), but dessert.  Dessert was just... unbelievable.

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S'mores crepes.

I died a little.

Mom had a chocolate peanut butter sundae that was equally delicious.  If I go back to Max Brenner, I will almost certainly skip dinner entirely and just enjoy the chocolate.

We're both old ladies at heart, so after dinner, we were both ready to take it easy back at the hotel room (just a couple of blocks away) and call it a night.

Which was probably a good call considering how jam packed Day Two turned out to be...

{To be continued...}

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gracie's one year pictures...

I promise a New York post is coming your way soon!  I edited all of my pictures last night and can't wait to share all about our adventures.

But until then, I just had to share some of my favorite shots from our family session with my best friend Lauren a few weeks ago.  Gracie was not a very happy camper (poor girl had about four teeth trying to come through at the time), and Lauren had to work pretty darned hard to get these.  (I think she was literally doing cartwheels at one point!)  But they ended up so beautiful anyway, and now I've got to pick some to frame.  Help!

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(Look at that pitiful, little pouty face!)

And because this is real life around here...

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Thanks again, Lauren, for capturing my sweet, little family in a way that no one else could.  I will cherish these more than you could ever know.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Miss America...

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... wanted me to tell you all to have a wonderful Memorial Day!

May we all be reminded to be thankful for the men and women who have given their lives to protect the freedoms we so often take for granted.

(Oh! And we had an INCREDIBLE time in NYC and made it safely home on Sunday! I promise I'll be back soon with a full recap!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Here we come, NYC!


My mom and I leave for New York TOMORROW.

My excitement is off the charts, and I can practically taste the Magnolia cupcakes already.

I have had to really resist the urge to schedule out our activities by the minute.  I ended up feeling pressured to plan out our Paris trip that way, and I think we probably missed out on some of the magic of the city because of it.  

My last trip to New York with my college roommate and my trip to London were so magical partly because I sort of just explored both cities without an itinerary.  I want to try and recreate that magic for my mom because she has never been to New York before, and I remember how incredible I felt standing in the middle of Times Square for the first time, marveling at the lights and the people.  I want that for her.

But there are a few things we won't leave without doing.

First, we obviously have to stroll through Central Park since a repeat visit is on my 30 Before 30 list.

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We're also seeing Wicked because... well, it's Wicked.

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We're also definitely squeezing in, at some point, the 9/11 memorial and museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grand Central Station, tea at the Plaza, strolling down 5th (and through the financial district), Little Italy, the High Line, going to the top of Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Among (many) other things.

Just looking at our list of must-sees is making me tired, but we're going to have a blast.  And mostly I'm just excited to spend some much-needed quality time with my sweet mom.

As always, I'll be Instagramming our adventures.  You can follow along at @mrshargrave.

See you soon, Manhattan!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Thankful for:  an incredible second Mother's Day.

Micah made it "Mother's Weekend" and treated me to breakfast and a massage/facial on Saturday.  And then he made breakfast on Sunday, and we spent lunch and dinner with my mom and his.  Monday was Muffins for Moms at Grace's school, and it would have been excellent if...

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... Grace hadn't screamed her precious little head off two minutes after we snapped this cute picture when I went to drop her off.

She moved up classes last week, and we've still got a bit of adjusting to do. (#thatsanunderstatement)

Reading: The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy.

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If you asked me what my greatest wish for Grace was, I'd first tell you that I hope she comes to love the Lord at an early age.  But the very next words out of my mouth would be, "I hope she learns how to be happy."  Because all of the success and intelligence and money and fame in the world mean nothing if they don't make you happy.  So when I stumbled across this book, I couldn't not buy it.  I'm about halfway through and am seriously loving it so far.  I've been blessed with a fairly sunny disposition, and I get that much of that kind of thing is beyond a person's control, but I do think that for most people, happiness can be learned.  So I'll report back when I finish.

Anticipating:  NEW YORK! My mom and I leave next Thursday, and I'm getting more excited by the millisecond.  It's also sinking in that, in order to see New York again, I'll actually have to leave Texas.  Which requires leaving Micah and Grace.  Which sucks.  But it'll be worth it.  

We're also spending some time this weekend with some childhood friends (hi, Amber!) and church friends (hi, Christy!), which makes me happy.  Micah and I have been doing so much better about spending time with the people who are important to us.  Because, I mean, you can only watch so many re-runs of the Big Bang Theory together before life gets pretty dull. :)

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Contemplating:  you guys.  My sweet blog friends who feel like real-life friends.  When I'm out of touch for any period of time, I miss y'all.  And I worry about and pray for y'all.  Like sweet Anna, who is battling Hodgkins Lymphoma with a bravery I can't even comprehend.  I know I've said it before, but if you're the praying kind, would you lift her up today?  She has just been on my mind, and I know she would appreciate the support.

And that's all I've got for today.

(Today's post brought to you by me but inspired by Jessie's recent post - if you haven't gone to check out her beautiful writing, adorable boys, and gorgeous pictures, you're really missing out... Also, link up your Currently post with Anna Kate!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

A circle of love...

My momshe is beautiful.

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She is patient.

She is selfless.

She works hard.  (Really hard.)

She forgives.

She perseveres.

She is kind.

She believes in the good in others.

She adores her family.

She cooks with love.

She is strong.

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She has shown me how to be a mother.  The best kind of mother.  Because I watched her strive for years to show my brother and me how to be ourselves, reach for the stars (while keeping our feet on the ground), stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, dance to the beat of our own drums, and love with reckless abandon.  She worked full time, but she spent every bit of her free time being with us.  Cooking for us.  Reading to us.  Loving us.  

As we grew up, I watched her slowly and deliberately pull her hands away from the backs of our bicycles, letting us pedal our little feet as fast as we could, while always being there to pick us back up when we fell.  She stood back and watched us shine, giving us the freedom we needed to become who we are now.

It would have been so much easier for her if she had just stirred the chocolate chips in herself.  And sounded out every word for us.  And told us what decisions we should make and how to make them.  It must have taken a whole lot of restraint (and prayer) to let us try for ourselves so that we could learn what we are capable of.

Here I am now with a little girl of my own.  Learning what a difficult and incredible and beautiful thing it is to be a mother.  Learning how to let Grace discover what she is capable of.

And I hope I can become a fraction of the mother my mom is.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Big girl...

I'm basically a zombie today.  First, because it's raining. Second, because I'm wearing my glasses (and my eyes never seem to wake up on days where I don't wear my contacts).  Third, because I was up laaaate working to meet a Friday deadline.  This project has had me working my tail off for the last few weeks, and I am so ridiculously ready to be done with it.

But life, of course, continues on even when work is insane.  We took family pictures last weekend with Lauren, and she did an incredible job (as usual).  I can't wait to show you guys what we ended up with.  And let me just tell you... Lauren was a miracle worker. Gracie was ridiculously uncooperative.  She only wanted momma, and she wasn't in a very pose-y mood.  I'm so thankful we still ended up some beautiful images that I am so excited to print and frame!

We also bought Gracie's big girl car seat!  After polling my mommy friends on Facebook, we went with the Britax Marathon G4.

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They just came in yesterday, so we haven't installed them yet (we needed one for each of our cars), but I hope she loves sitting up like a big girl (still rear-facing, of course - we'll keep her backwards as long as we possibly can!).  I'm still in shock that we're already moving her out of the carrier, though.  I mean, wasn't this just yesterday?

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Oh, good gosh.  I can't even handle this picture today.

I'm also in the middle of planning for New York.  I've got our list of must-see places, and I'm creating a custom Google map of all of the recommended restaurants so that we'll have plenty of options wherever we go.  But beyond that, we're not going to have any itinerary.  Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself.  I want it to be a fun, spontaneous trip that allows us to explore the magic of the city and stumble on its hidden treasures without pressure to see it all.

Also, Gracie has been eating dirt at her leisure.

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So that's been fun. Ha. And she's walking EVERYWHERE.  She doesn't really crawl anymore.  Which is nearly as tear-inducing as that teddy bear picture.  Such a big, big girl.

So that's us lately.  What have you guys been up to?
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