And Baby Makes 4!

Kelsey Turns 2! July 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 6:09 PM

Well…it happened.

My baby turned 2 on July 5. And she took it seriously. And now she’s all grown up – speaking in compound sentences. Telling me how much she “LOVES” this that or some other thing. Having completely articulate fake phone conversations with Pa-Pa David and Uncle Kevin. Just this afternoon, she picked up my phone and declared “Mommy, I’m checking my email!”



We celebrated in grand style. We watched the Macy’s fireworks from our side of the Hudson. Then, for the next week, Kelsey asked for fireworks before she went to sleep every night. I guess we forgot to tell her that we didn’t order up that show just for her birthday.


Panoramic of midtown Manhattan at sunset


Waiting for the show to start


Zoomed view of One World Trade Center (almost done!)

On Kelsey’s birthday, once it started to cool off in the evening, we headed for the NJ State Fair. Now, it is definitely not the world-class event most of us are used to (for my Texas and Oklahoma peeps), it only has a pretty small midway. But, the kids area is actually extremely large (bigger than the other areas of the fair). This year, not only was Kennedy tall enough to merit an unlimited ride bracelet, but Kelsey could also ride a few. At 32.5 inches, she’s a tall 2! Kelsey has been obsessed with ferris wheels since the trip to Houston (see the previous post). That was her Birthday Girl pick for the first thing to do at the fair. She called that one out when she saw it from the highway on the way there.


The birthday girl on the ferris wheel with MetLife stadium (where the NY Giants play) and the rest of North Jersey in the background.



Notice the swings in the background. We rode that one twice. Had to drag Kennedy away the second time. That little train off to the right was Kelsey’s favorite ride. Image

As always, my Dr. Doolittles had a great time at the petting zoo.


We rounded out the evening with a proper bar-b-cue dinner. The girls slept hard for the next two nights!

Happy birthday to my beautiful little baby girl!


Our Summer Vacation July 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 7:37 PM

I should warn you now, this is a long post because there are lots of pictures to share here. If I had realized before I got started with this post how many pictures there were, I would have broken it up into three. Go get a cool drink and then come back and dig in.

This year I finally had a chance to plan out a real summer vacation for us. It was a 3-part series and it was pretty epic (as far as budget vacations go).

We started out with a drive up to Toronto to see our very dear friends Serene and Kevin. It was the first time either girls had ever been in the car that long (9+ hours!). We weren’t sure how it would go, but we left early and we didn’t rush. We made it without anyone having any kind of meltdowns/breakdowns/cabinfever/car sickness. So, I think that means it was a success. Also, we did not get lost not once!

Crossing the border into Canada (near Niagara)

Crossing the border into Canada (near Niagara)

We started the trip with a visit to the African Wildlife Safari just outside Toronto. I highly recommend it. It was a pretty awesome adventure and we spent the entire day there. We left because the children were getting tired, but even after 4 hours, there were still plenty of things we did not get to do.

(Disclaimer-I have not used the zoom lense on any of these pictures. We were CLOSE to these animals!)

Gorillas in the mist

Gorillas in the mist

Adorable lemurs

Adorable lemurs

Hanging with daddy on the jungle cruise

Hanging with daddy on the jungle cruise

Chillin' with Auntie Serene and Uncle Kevin

Chillin’ with Auntie Serene and Uncle Kevin

Elephant bath time!

Elephant bath time!

Best seats in the house!

Best seats in the house!

Can't you just hear the Lion King soundtrack in the background?

Can’t you just hear the Lion King soundtrack in the background?

A monkey catching a ride

Monkeys catching a ride on the cars

Rhinoceroses are HUGE

Rhinoceroses are HUGE

Adorable giraffes

Adorable giraffes

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Of course she found a horse to ride

Of course she found a horse to ride

In their element

In their element


The second day, we headed into downtown Toronto to hang out and see the sights. We spent the day walking around weaving in and out of shops. We ended the day with some really great microbrews and some amazing Italian food.

Hanging out in downtown Toronto

Hanging out in downtown Toronto


"Serving potheads since ah...i forget"

“Serving potheads since ah…i forget”

A weird car that has been turned into a community garden

A weird car that has been turned into a community garden

Worn out!

Worn out!


Kelsey's showing off her swipe skills

Kelsey’s showing off her swipe skills

On the train to Toronto

On the train to Toronto

All too soon, it was time to head back. But, I think you can tell – very clearly – from these pictures who Kennedy and Kelsey’s new favorite two people are.

After a couple days layover back in Jersey City, we flew to OKC. I remember in the summers when our parents would take us to my great-grandparents house for a week or so at a time. We had so much fun! I want my kids to have the same thing. Our lifestyle here is so different from the way we live in OK. It was important to me that my kids got to take advantage of the benefits of a private backyard and a slightly slower pace so that they could spend time doing stuff like this:

Poking at bugs

Poking at bugs

Sprinkler fun at Cousin Locki's

Sprinkler fun at Cousin Locki’s

Who doesn't love a sprinkler park?

Who doesn’t love a sprinkler park?

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We either began or ended many days in the pool at Granny’s

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Feeling free!

Halfway through the trip, we drove down to Houston to visit Auntie Christy and wish our little cousin Jordan a (belated) happy 1st birthday. We spent the first day there at the Houston Aquarium which allowed Kennedy to check another state off of her list (that makes 6!). By now, the girls were “old pros” at car trips. We actually made this 7 hour trip in 8 hours, shaving one-hour off our previous long road trip restroom stop record!

Baby tigers are so BIG!

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And then this happened…


Having fun on the ferris wheel

Later The aquarium has a great outdoor area. With a few rides (we did all of them twice) and some games (we completely ignored these). We spent most of our time out here. IMG_1071


Jordan, Kelsey and Kennedy

Later that evening, we met up with my cousins for dinner. What a treat! I don’t usually get to see my family during the summer so I was ecstatic!


Hiding in the African village exhibit during a sudden downpour.

Made the required stop at Shipley’s donuts. A big hit with everyone!

We spent Day #2 at the zoo with Christy, Erica and Jordan. Believe it or not, I have never been inside the Houston Zoo.



Two of the cutest little faces ever!


Thankfully, there was a sprinkler park in the middle of the zoo!


Yes, it appears that my girls always manage to find some goats to pet, regardless of the excursion.

Back in OKC, we spent the last week soaking up some love from our friends and family.

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The girls with their great-grandparents

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Kennedy with her best friend, Auntie Kaye.

Kennedy made a new friend that had these awesome things in her backyard. BEST PLAY DATE EVER!

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Mom made good on a Christmas-time promise and took the girls to Chuck E. Cheese.

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Kelsey loved this rocking horse ride. She probably rode this thing 5 times.

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Kennedy won a turn in the ticket blaster. Hilarity ensued.

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Mrs. Reina took them horseback riding. The pictures can’t capture the absolutely euphoric look on both girls faces.

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Yes, that’s a toilet hooked up to a water hose and pipe in the middle of a pasture. What’s that all about?

We finally got a chance to go to the Science Museum.

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Finally, a table to match their appetites!

We ended our stay with a backyard party in honor of Kelsey’s impending 2nd birthday.

Granny got the girls some sparklers for their last night in OKC.

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As you can see, we had a really great trip. It took us about a week to recover once we got back, but I don’t regret a moment of it. We had the most fun and we were finally home long enough to do everything we wanted to do (without having to rush). I hope that we can make this an annual summer trip.


Princess Kennedy’s 4th Birthday June 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 10:07 AM

For her 4th birthday, Kennedy requested a princess party. We invited a few of her girl friends to our favorite cafe for afternoon tea and crumpets (read: juice boxes and scones). My good friend is a face painter, so she came and dolled the girls up. It was the cutest birthday party I’ve ever been to and the girls had a great time twirling around in their made-up faces with their poofy princess dresses on.

Kennedy – she keeps it classy!

Gift bags and goodies

Gift bags and goodies

Princess Kennedy (and no, one tiara is NOT enough).

Princess Kennedy (and no, one tiara is NOT enough).

Blowing out her birthday candle.

Blowing out her birthday candle.

Bon appetite!

Bon appetite!

The royal highnesses

The royal highnesses

Having some girl talk in the window

Having some girl talk in the window

Kennedy has really enjoyed being 4. I know this because she announces it to everyone she meets.   🙂




2013 Catch Up! (Easter) May 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 10:07 AM

Okay, okay, okay…

Been so busy, blah-de-blah…I’m sure you all understand.

But, now, I’m on SUMMER BREAK! So, I finally have time to get caught up!

Please consider these photos in the next few posts from January to present to suffice my lapse in posts.

Spring Break 2013

Usually spring break is devoted to Kennedy’s quest to see all of the state aquariums in the continental US (so far: Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been checked off the list). However, my spring break did not coincide with her spring break this year, so we stayed local.

My mom came to hang with Kennedy while I was teaching (thanks Mom!). Lucky for her, she was there for our annual neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. The girls had a blast!

Mom came to visit for Kennedy's Spring Break

Looking more and more alike each passing year…


Waiting on the hunt to begin

Waiting on the hunt to begin

Kennedy was terrified of getting stung by a bee (the "big kids" hunt wound through a flower garden)

Kennedy was terrified of getting stung by a bee (the “big kids” hunt wound through a flower garden)


But she soon saw her friends eating the candy out of their plastic eggs and was miraculously cured of her fears!


Kelsey was a natural (seen here with pal Jacob)

Next up…Kennedy turns 4!


Christmas! December 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 12:40 PM

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We took our annual trip to Macy’s Santaland to see The Big Man himself last weekend. This is one of my favorite traditions for our family.ImageImageImage

The girls waited patiently in line for 2 hours!  

Image  ImageBut, it was well worth it! ImageHere, Kennedy poses with the conductor of the North Pole Express – next stop North Pole, Santa’s workshop!

The closer we got to Santa’s workshop, the more excited Kennedy got! ImageKelsey wasn’t having any part of sitting on Santa’s lap and chose instead to stay in the safety of daddy’s arms, but Kennedy was more than happy to tell him her Christmas wish list and Kelsey’s wish list as well. ImageImageShe dropped a written copy of their wishlists off so Santa could have a hard copy. ImageIt was a good day! We hope your Christmas season is off to a festive start! We will see some of you very soon!


Halloween 2012 November 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 3:10 PM

Kennedy had her first ever Halloween party last year just after the snowstorm of the decade. Her second annual Halloween party was 2 days before Hurricane Sandy. Coincidence? I guess we’ll see next year if the third time is a charm for Halloween parties and storms.

Here are some pictures of my kids and their friends having a ball at our house.


Hurricane Sandy catch-up November 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karla @ 3:10 PM

Hello, all!

We would, first off, like to thank everyone for their phone calls, emails and texts and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers during Hurricane Sandy. We lost power about 10:30pm on the Monday Sandy arrived and did not get it back until late Thursday afternoon.

Luckily, we didn’t have any damage to our home. Anthony parked his car in The Heights (a part of Jersey City that sits up on a cliff of sorts) and parked my car on the fourth floor of a parking garage downtown. Lucky he picked the fourth floor, because the first floor of that parking garage was completely under water. Tuesday, after the waters had receded, I was able to drive out of the parking garage none worse for the storm.

We had plenty of food and retained clean, fresh running water in the days following the storm. We are blessed to have close friends in the neighborhood who got their power back days before us and allowed us to charge our cell phones and computers and let the girls run around in their well-heated homes.

Many of our neighbors suffered extreme flooding damage and some still don’t have running water or power because of extensive damage due to the wind, cold and flooding.

Although the news cameras have moved on, many here are still suffering. The final power outages have just been repaired this week. Today, Kennedy’s school hosted a potluck dinner for our neighborhood, which gave those who are displaced due to the damage in their home a chance to come back to the ‘hood and get access to the resources they need in a supported environment.

But, our city has banded together and we’re all doing everything we can to help each other get back to normal. That’s why we love Jersey City, because as big and urban as it is, it is still a very close-knit community.

Even though we were all without the conveniences that we’re used to (power, grocery stores, the ability to walk or drive down the street) it was great to connect with each other as we huddled around generators, fireplaces and radios.