Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Our Fourth House-iversary

We've now been in our sweet little home for four whole years! It's crazy to think of all of the joy, laughter, and memories that we've shared within its walls. Our third year in our house really focused on lightening up our rustic, oak-trim home- especially in our dining room and farmhouse front room. Year four was mainly about getting a nursery ready for our sweet baby. I've also taken a look around and set my sights on a few projects that we're getting ready to tackle. Here's what we've been up to this year!

Eli's Gender Neutral Nursery

Our biggest project of the year was one we completed in mid-February, which ended up being just days before little Eli joined the world. We didn't find out if our baby was going to be a boy or a girl (best surprise EVER), and so we went with a gender neutral nursery theme.

 Aaron and I love traveling and going on adventures together, and we just knew our sweet little one would too. This inspired my travel + adventure theme. My very favorite pieces in the room are ones that people made for us, like the awesome wooden map of the world Aaron made, the hand-crafted mobile that my brother and his fiancée stitched, and the "You are Our Greatest Adventure" sign that a YoungLife girl painted for us.

Eli has already gone along on several adventures, and he seems to be a big fan. If you'd like to see more of the details on his room, check out this post. You can also check out my inspiration for his room.

Sweet, Slow Moments

To be honest, a lot of the other projects and things I hoped to accomplish this year just didn't happen. And you know what? I'm okay with it. We spent March and April just snuggling our baby boy and getting used to being parents. And when May, June, and July came around, we focused on traveling and making new fun memories together. And spending lots of time outdoors, of course. We're still due for a little deck update, which may be a fall or next spring project.

Next on the List: Our Bedroom! 

It has been a LONG time coming folks, but we are finally going to revamp our bedroom. I pushed it to the end of our room updates because I feel like no one really sees it except for us. We have all hand me down furniture in there right now, and a cheap bedspread that I got on clearance. Oh, and a cheap queen bed that we bought when we first got married that Aaron has hated since day one. All that to say, the walls are beige, the bedspread is brown, the bed is old, and the furniture is orangey. It's time for a little change!

I've got a white king-size comforter packed away and waiting, I've picked out paint colors, and Aaron is starting to design our furniture (which he is going to build). Now we just have to make it happen with a six-month old in tow! I'm thinking it could be a good fall/winter project when I can't be outside as much. Anyways, check out my Pinterest board for some of my inspiration, and stay tuned for after photos once we finish!

Our house feels like even more of a home now that our little family has grown to three. We may not have made a ton of visual changes or progress this year, but our hearts are full and our photo albums are growing. This is the home where Eli came home from the hospital, where he slept through the night for the first time, rolled over, and tried food. It's where I cradled him in my arms and wondered how I was going to get through it all. It's where he'll take his first steps and say his first words. And those are priceless memories that no amount of decorating could ever top. Love to you all!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fun Things to Do in Long Beach, California

If you're like me, you're always looking for a fun new place to travel. Traveling is the best, and I love it for a variety of reasons. Now that we have sweet Eli along for the adventure, even places we have visited in the past are worth revisiting, especially because everything is different with a baby! California is one such destination...somewhere we've been before, but are always looking to visit again for new experiences. Today's destination of choice is a fun one: Long Beach. Located south of Los Angeles but north of Huntington Beach, Long Beach doesn't always get the attention it deserves. In fact, it can be a great place to find affordable hotel options in pricey Southern California. Here are some fun things to do in Long Beach, California!

Hop on a Boat 

In any city with the word "beach" in the name, you can usually count on finding water nearby. Long Beach does not disappoint in this area. In fact, getting out on the water in a boat is one really awesome thing to do in this city. The Catalina Express is one especially fun option: an hour-long boat ride takes you to Catalina Island for the day. Another option is to explore the historic WWII style cruise ship "The Queen Mary".

Enjoy Nature

Of course you'll want to enjoy the sandy beach areas of Long Beach, but did you know that there are also other areas of nature worth visiting in Southern California? The El Dorado Nature Center is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Consisting of 105 acres, the center offers trails, a lake, educational displays, an art gallery, and more.

Take a Tour 

Whether you're into helicopters, Segways, bikes, boats, or food, there are a plethora of tours for you to choose from in Long Beach. Tours are such a great way to explore the city and find out a bit more about what you're seeing or experiencing. One awesome tour option is the Downtown Long Beach Walking Tour, which includes sips, tasting, and bites.

Source: Luisa Azevado

Visit a Museum

Long Beach offers some diverse museums for you to explore on your visit. From Latin American Art to history museums and more, culture definitely abounds in Long Beach. And although it may not technically be a museum, the Aquarium of the Pacific is an incredible attraction that is definitely worth a visit.

Take a Day Trip

One of the best things about Long Beach is that it is so centrally located and close to so many attractions. In fact, it is a great place to plant your roots and be able to see a variety of places without having to check in and out of hotels each night. Long Beach is an hour or less from Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, and more. Go play!

Long Beach is definitely a hidden gem in Southern California. Hopefully we'll make it there soon!


Friday, September 1, 2017

August Recap

And just when I thought life couldn't go any faster, I think maybe August just did?! Anyone else feel me on that one? August was a whirlwind of a month, mainly because it involved school starting back up and all of the crazy that comes along with that. We may have been tackling a new routine, and I may not have written much, but this month was still a sweet one filled with new fun with our sweet Baby E and visits with dear friends. Here's our August recap!

Eli's Six Month Update 

Holy smokes, Eli is half a year old!! I can't believe how fast the time has gone- it truly does go just as fast as everyone tells you. Since we had a six month doctor's appointment, I actually have solid numbers this month. Eli is weighing in at 16 pounds and 2 ounces, which puts him at the 21st percentile in weight. He is 26.5 inches long, which is the 38th percentile in length. Rounding out his numbers is his big ole 17 inch noggin, which puts him in the 40th percentile for head circumference. He is growing healthy, big, and strong, and we couldn't be more blessed. And those eyes!!

This month, Eli spent lots of time splashing in the pool and playing in his exersaucer. He started daycare, where he goes to an amazing in-home three days a week, and then plays with his Grandma Elaina at our house the other two days. He's doing great with it, and seems to love being around other kids, while also enjoying taking two two-hour naps a day. He made it solely breastfeeding for six months, and usually eats every four hours before he goes to bed around 8:30. We are just starting to try solids, and are still working on sitting up.

E also visited Columbia for the first time this month for a baby shower (go Tigers). He actually got to visit Mock Recruitment and see Aunt Angie and the Theta house! He's still rocking 3-6 month clothes, and is about to outgrow size 2 diapers. He loves clapping his hands and watching Mama and Daddy play basketball at church. He's still a snuggler, which Mama loves! We love you so much Eli, no matter what, and we always will!

Back to School 

The biggest change for us this month was going back to school, which meant going back to work (for me) after almost six months off with our baby boy. To be honest, I was totally not excited to go back and leave Eli behind. I basically cried myself to sleep a couple nights before just thinking about it. But once I got into my routine (which includes getting up an HOUR earlier than I did pre-baby), I was actually surprised at how normal and easy it felt to be back. I am blessed with thoughtful co-workers and friends who have supported me and made the transition much easier. Nearly all of them are working moms, so they get it! It definitely helps to know that he's in good hands during the day too. Pumping multiple times a day is a pain and has to be structured when it fits into the school schedule, but I am thankful I can continue to feed my baby. I truly do enjoy my job and I teach a lot of fabulous kiddos who make the day go quickly, but when that bell rings I'm out and ready for my favorite kiddo of all! Every afternoon when I come home, I really cherish my time with Eli, and you better believe I love all of the snuggles, baths, books, and laughs. I think I'll like snow days this year :)

A Weekend in Des Moines 

Last weekend, we were able to squeeze in a quick Des Moines trip to see our very dear friends and their sweet, almost two-year old daughter. She really enjoyed playing with Eli, and kept yelling "Baby! Baby!" It was pretty fun to see the two of them together, and Eli saw Iowa for the first time! A weekend filled with laughter, cheese plates, Rook games, and some parents-only trip planning is always a good one. I even managed to fit in my six mile long run for my half-marathon training. The weekend went too fast, as they always seem to do!

Showers and Fun 

Another fun part of August was getting to attend a baby shower and a bridal shower for some awesome ladies. Marriage and being a mom are two of the best things I'll ever do, and it's so fun and exciting to help cheer and usher my friends into these new chapters of their lives. Eli attended both showers with me, and he did awesome! He napped through both of them (without crying and fighting me), and he was a champ in the backseat by himself for the two hour drive to and from Columbia- all in one day!

In Case You Missed Them:

I Carried You
My Travel Bucket List
Visiting Baltimore with Kids

August was a big month for us. I stepped into the world of the working mom, watched my sweet son grow and become even more fun, and got to celebrate and hang out with some fabulous friends. We are so blessed. I am excited for the fall, and I look forward to all that we are sure to enjoy in the coming months. Love to you all!!


Monday, August 21, 2017

I Carried You

As you rest here in my arms, the soft movement of your breath making your entire body rise and fall, I am overwhelmed with love. Every night as you fall asleep within the security of my grasp, I can't quite believe you are mine to love. And though you won't remember it, I always will. After all, I carried you.

Through nine months of pregnancy, through the morning sickness, the desperately-needed first trimester naps, through the growing and the stretching and the change- I carried you. It was an amazing time of anticipation, of worry, and of joy for all that was to come. And through it all, I carried you inside me, your tiny body growing from the size of a mustard seed to a watermelon. I carried you.

Through labor pains, hours in the bathtub and on the couch, through my fears of needles and the unknown, through the ultrasounds and all of the check ups- I carried you. And once you were here, though I could barely pull my body out of the hospital bed and though I could barely keep my eyes open, holding you was perfect. The scent of your new soft skin, your beautiful eyes, your perfect fingers and toes. Joyfully, I carried you around our home, showing you all of the places where you'd make wonderful memories that fill my heart with delight.

Through those first hard six weeks full of sleepless nights and wondering what I'd gotten myself into, through the first baths and the new routines and the simple joys of having a baby- I carried you. To doctor's appointments and relatives' arms and to meet co-workers and your church family and more, you were in my arms for it all. My heart recognized the desire to love you and protect you with all that I have. To hold you just to hold you and to know that a piece of my heart was no longer with me but with you, always.

And even now, after months of having you in our lives, I still carry you. Your sweet eyes close for naps and for evening sleep, and I carry you up the stairs, slowly and carefully. There is nothing like watching you rest peacefully, not a care in the world that can steal your serenity. And me, trying to stop time and remember you as you are, sixteen pounds of sweetness and curiosity- the best thing I've ever done. Our greatest adventure. You won't remember, but I carried you.

But some day, things won't be so simple. You'll have struggles and heartache and hard things to overcome. I wish with all of my heart that I could carry your burdens for you. That I could shelter your storms and make it all better with one soft kiss on the top of your head. But I can't. I am unable to be everything you'll ever need, and though I hope you'll let me carry you for several years more, I will never be able to carry the things that will weigh you down in this world. There is only one person who can do that, and I hope that you will trust and love Him with all that you have. He, and He alone, can rescue and save and walk with you through the darkness that will seem to surround you. He will carry you.

And so, my sweet baby, just as I have carried you through pregnancy, birth, and the sweet dreams that greet you every evening, it is my prayer that one day you will look back through the storms of your life and see that, through it all, you were carried by the Lord. That you would never feel alone or overwhelmed because there is someone who knows every hair on your head and every desire of your heart. That you would be not only mine, but His. That he would carry you.


Monday, August 14, 2017

My Travel Bucket List

It's hard to believe, but when Aaron and I got married a little over four years ago, neither one of us had ever been out of the country. Now we've explored not only the vast majority of the US, but we've also been to Cancun, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. It's safe to say that seeing the world outside of our small piece of it has opened our eyes to so much, but we aren't done yet! Here are some places that are still on my travel bucket list, both in the U.S. and beyond.


With a last name like Kleinmeyer, it's really a shame we haven't explored our German roots yet. When we went on our 16-day adventure throughout Europe, we just didn't have the time to add Germany on to our seven-city itinerary. We are hoping to make a tour of Germany within the next five years.


On that same note, we didn't have time to fit Spain into our whirlwind European adventure either. The friends that we met up with in Italy were heading on to Spain afterwards, and I remember being so jealous. I'm especially hoping to visit Barcelona and Madrid, and maybe take the train in between.

Cinque Terre

Ever since I first saw the gorgeous photos of it, I have been dying to go to Cinque Terre. Is there anything better than Italian fishing villages on the sea? I'd say no. We are considering doing this next summer with Eli, and just keeping it a pretty calm trip to Europe. I'm still not sure, though. Either way, I've got to make it here someday!

French Riviera

As a part of our future visit to Cinque Terre, I would really like to hit the French Riviera as well. Nice isn't too far away from Italy. My dream would be to hit both in one trip, simply enjoying the slower-paced life of these cities for multiple days instead of hustling from place to place and checking in and out of hotels every night.


If I had to choose one place in the entire world to be at the top of my ultimate bucket list, it would be Australia. I'm not sure why, but the beautiful water, awesome accents, and incredible sights just draw me to visit this country. I know it's a crazy long flight and really expensive, and I wouldn't want to go unless we had at least a couple of weeks to spend there. But Australia is seriously my dream destination.


Speaking of long flights, I would really like to visit Asia at some point. I don't know exactly where in Asia I'd most like to go, but I've heard awesome things about Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Taiwan. I've also heard that it's really reasonable to eat and stay there once you arrive, but that it's super crowded. Regardless, I would really love to make it there once in my life.


When it comes to the U.S, I'm still hoping to visit Hawaii. It's at the top of my list as a possible travel destination for next summer. I think Eli would have a blast on the beach, and it would be a relaxing trip without sightseeing in places where I'd have to try to keep him quiet. Hawaii is obviously a longer flight and a bit more expensive, but I'm thinking that if we are going to take Eli, we need to do it before he 2 and we have to pay for him. We could go without, but I'd want to be able to stay for a while!


Another place I've always wanted to visit, but haven't quite made it to yet is Phoenix, Arizona. Aaron and I have been to Arizona before to see the Grand Canyon, but we did it as a part of a Southwest trip. We didn't have time to add in a drive to Phoenix. I'm thinking a great time to visit would be in the middle of the winter when it's freezing cold here in KC. In December, sunshine, sitting poolside, and hitting some other highlights from this guide to the Valley of the Sun sounds pretty nice!


We just hit Seattle this July, but we were only there for a few days, so we didn't have time to drive south and visit Oregon at all. I was blown away by how perfect the temperature and weather were in the Pacific Northwest during July, so I know that Oregon would probably be just as awesome. The outdoors are also breathtaking in this area.


In that same vein, Montana is another gorgeous, slow-moving destination that I've only admired in pictures so far. The mountain views are breathtaking, and I can see myself relaxing outdoors with the cooler temperatures in the middle of summer. Although I've been to nearly every other state in the continental U.S. at some point in my life, I haven't made it to Montana yet. It sounds like an awesome place to visit.


At some point, I think it would be awesome to do an Alaskan cruise and explore the highlights of the state. This is also a little farther out and harder to get to, even from the Midwest. It may be something that we do in 10 years or so for an anniversary trip where we leave our kids behind.

The Bahamas 

We've been to a few awesome all-inclusive resorts in various tropical destinations, but one place that we haven't made it yet is the Bahamas. I've seen lots of amazing photos from gorgeous beaches in the area, and I just have to make it here at some point. I think the best way for us to visit would be going on a cruise and hitting multiple islands within one trip.

I look at this list and I get so excited about all of the adventures to come for us. Traveling is one of my favorite activities, and I would much rather go on trips and make memories than spend money on things that fill our home. Are any of these destinations on your travel bucket list? Do you have any other destinations that I've missed? Have fun exploring!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Visiting Baltimore with Kids

Now that we have a baby, I've already started to think about what traveling will look like with kids. Eli has already taken four flights and done a 10-hour road trip, but I would argue that traveling with a baby is actually easier than traveling with bigger kids. He just goes wherever we go and does whatever we do, or sleeps through it. He also flies for free right now, but eventually we'll have to be a little more strategic about entertaining older children. What better place to do that than Baltimore?

A couple of our very near and dear friends just moved to Baltimore, and we visited the city briefly on our Northeast Road Trip in the spring of 2016. It's a great, walkable, kid-friendly city with an awesome Inner Harbor area, which is a perfect place to find great hotels for your stay. Here are some places you should visit in Baltimore with kids.

Fort McHenry National Monument

Known as the birthplace of the National Anthem, Fort McHenry is a place you can't miss in the Baltimore area. Give your kids a little piece of history and let them enjoy exploring the cannons and fort area. This national park also offers great reenactments and special ranger talks!

An Orioles Game at Camden Yard 

What better way to spend an evening than partaking in America's favorite pastime, a baseball game? Camden Yard is a beautiful park and the Orioles really make it a fun evening for the entire family, especially sports lovers. The park's location in downtown Baltimore is also convenient and easy to reach.

The Maryland Science Center

This center includes fun exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theatre. There are several special programs designed to stretch kids' minds, too. If you have a science lover, don't miss this stop.

American Visionary Art Museum 

Visionary art comes from self-taught individuals. What better place to inspire your kids than the American Visionary Art Museum? Exhibits deal with fun topics like the history of food. Kids under 6 are free, and tickets for those a little older only cost $9.95. Check out the museum's website for more info.

Port Discovery Children's Museum 

This Children's Museum offers great ways to keep kids entertained indoors. They can climb from floor to floor while engaging both their brains and their bodies in fun, educational and sports activities and exhibits. This museum is sure to please young children.

A Fun Baltimore Festival

There are lots of great, family-friendly festivals to check out in Baltimore. A couple of the best options are the Chocolate Festival and the Fells Point Fun Festival, which both happen in October. For the full list, check out this website.

Baltimore is a beautiful, kid-friendly city that adults can also enjoy. These recommendations provide just a small glimpse into all it has to offer. We are definitely going to make a trip out soon to visit our friends and hopefully catch a baseball game this fall. Enjoy your trip!


Monday, July 31, 2017

July Recap

For as long as I've known, I've dreaded July 31st. Why? Because it signified the start of August and what it brought along with it: the end of summer and the start of school. Summer has always been my absolute favorite: pool days, sunshine, travel, and time off from work- what's not to like? It has been extra sweet this year with our little man in tow. I'm sad to see July come to a close, especially because it's been such a fun month of adventures. Here's what we've been up to!

Seattle Vacation

We kicked off July with a visit to Seattle. We'd never been to the Pacific Northwest, and I was really excited about seeing it for the first time. Eli did great on the almost four hour flight, and we took the LINK light rail directly into downtown. This trip we only checked one bag for all three of us, and then had a diaper bag, backpack, and umbrella stroller. (No car seat, because no car rides!) We also stayed at one hotel, the Grand Hyatt, all three nights so we didn't have to check in and out of hotels, and Eli slept in a hotel crib so we didn't bring our pack and play. It was a lot easier and a lot less stuff than all we had when we went to the Keys.

We had to do touristy things like visit the famous Pike Place Market and the gum wall. We didn't plan our trip around this, but the Royals were actually playing in Seattle when we were there so we went to the game. Being on Western time meant that Eli was up wayyyy past his bedtime and he wasn't too happy about it when we were leaving after the Royals won in extra innings, but it was still so great. We were able to get seats right by the visitor dugout for very little money, and we actually ended up meeting both Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain and getting their autographs! Eli won't remember, but he'll have a great story some day!

The next day we slept in a bit and then took the ferry across to Bainbridge Island. It was a really pretty ride over, and we enjoyed some restaurants and wine tasting. Eli loved his first ferry ride! He's such a great traveler. 

On our last day, we went to the Space Needle. It was great, but you had to park your stroller before getting in line, so we had to switch off holding a sleeping Eli. Totally would've brought my carrier if I'd known! We also visited the University of Washington Campus and went into the Fremont area where we enjoyed my favorite restaurant of the entire trip, the Stoneway Cafe. Of course we had to take a picture with the troll, and we also grabbed some yummy chocolate at the Theo Factory. We'll definitely come back again, but we had a perfect amount of time to see all the main touristy sights while enjoying the beautiful weather! It was the perfect last summer trip for me and Eli.

Ten Days without Daddy

You'll notice I said for me and Eli, because Aaron still had another big trip left for the summer: an EF Tour with middle school students to Italy. This trip was "sold" almost two years ago, and I was originally going to go as a chaperone as well. But when we decided to try to start our family, we knew that there was a possibility I wouldn't be going to Italy. And then I got pregnant the first month.

All that to say, I stayed home with Baby E while Daddy was away in Italy for ten days. It was hard. Aaron and I have been apart before, but only for five days and he was just a few hours away and in the States. The seven hour time difference meant that we usually Facetimed around 3 pm Central time. It was so fun watching Eli see and hear Aaron on the phone, and it was a time I was very thankful for technology.

We spent lots of time hanging out with my friends (including another Royals game) and enjoying time with family to help the time pass by, but I was definitely very grateful for Aaron to be back home! 

Eli's Five Month Update

This month Eli is weighing in right around 15 pounds. He sleeps in his sleepsack every night, and does a great job sleeping in his crib, pack and play, on the swing, in the car, or pretty much anywhere. Sometimes he even plays so hard on his activity mat that he falls asleep. He slept through fireworks on his first 4th of July, started taking hour long+ naps, and learned how to cradle Mama's face in his hands. He went to his first three Royals games, kept Mommy company while Daddy was gone, and started growing out of his 3 month outfits. 

Eli loves fake standing, dancing to "Wobble", laughing at Bandit, and shaking his head from side to side. He self-plays like a champ, and is filling out his size two diapers a little better. He's so snuggly and cuddly, especially when he's tired and after he eats. He is also babbling like crazy, and sits fairly well with assistance. Eli just keeps getting better and better, and each month is my new favorite. 

My Golden Birthday

Just a few days ago I also celebrated my golden birthday: 28 on the 28th! I enjoyed a wonderful day full of thoughtful cards and gifts, pool time, Starbucks, and a delicious dinner at Lidia's with my hubby. The next night, the celebration continued with a Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse Dinner with these lovely ladies and my boys, followed by hanging out at our home where others joined us before enjoyed a little dancing out with the girls!

I wrote a little birthday reflection about this year and my thoughts on aging, and you can read it here.

In Case You Missed Them: 

Our Summer Family Photos
Taking Care of Mama: The Oxygen Mask Mentality
The Best of Brooklyn
Goodbye 27: A Birthday Reflection

July was the best month. I'd do it all over again if I could. But instead, I'm going back to work. Sad day. Please be praying for me in this new chapter as a working mom! Any tips are welcome. August, here we go.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Goodbye 27: A Birthday Reflection

Oh 27, you'll always go down as one for the books. It's only been a year, but it almost feels like a lifetime ago that I was riding the streetcar to dinner, hiding the secret of a tiny baby growing deep within me. Back when I got ready to go out without having to pack a bottle and diapers or worry about childcare. Last year on this day,  I was a little scared and unsure about being a mom, but beyond elated and excited for all that was to come. And while this year has had its challenges and lessons, it's truly been the sweetest yet. 

This year I've learned just how selfish I was before having a baby, and what it means to love someone before you've even met them. I've learned the importance of "mama breaks", freezer meals, and iced coffee. I've grown to appreciate the joys of eating dinner with both hands, sleeping past 6 AM, and feeling a little piece of your heart walk around outside of you. I've learned to see the world anew as I witness it through the eyes of my precious son. I have survived pregnancy, childbirth, sleepless nights, and another year of teaching. 

I'll never forget the feeling of meeting our son for the first time and feeling his warmth on my chest as we locked eyes, or the feeling of those first little kicks deep inside me. I'll never forget the memories of our baby moons: of getting snowed in an extra day in Chicago, watching the Bears game in the snow in a trash bag, and of catching a free country concert on the streets of Nashville. I'll remember coaching softball while pregnant and counting down every day until March 5. I'll never forget the weekly bump pictures in my striped maxi dress, the excitement of showers, or the anticipation of meeting our little one and finding out whether Baby K was a boy or a girl. I will never forget watching my husband love our son and feeling as though my heart could burst. 

27, you taught me what it means to rely on other people, to be honest and vulnerable with them in a way that truly shows just how much they matter and how much I need them. You taught me what it's like to give up my own freedom, yet never regret it because watching our son grow and change is so worth it. You reminded me again and again what a blessing family and friends can be. This year has grown me and stretched me and led me to emotions I never knew I could have. I have cried more tears and worried more worries and ultimately been drawn back to the Lord in ways that I never have before. And in the end, I've come out stronger and wiser and feeling more blessed than ever.

So goodbye to you, 27. I'd like to thank you for the wonderful memories. Becoming a mom, welcoming our son into this world, celebrating our fourth year of marriage, finding my first gray hair: those will be hard moments to top. And as I march closer and closer to 30, I remember what a privilege it is to age, one that some people never get to experience. I am so blessed. Bring it on, 28. You've got big shoes to fill.

In celebration of CWS' Blogiversary, I've teamed up with some great bloggers to bring to you a giveaway for a $200 Target Gift Card!

To enter, complete as many tasks as you can in the Rafflecopter form. Enter fairly. All entries will be verified before a winner is chosen. US only. No giveaway accounts allowed - they're automatically disqualified. Again, enter honestly and have FUN! 

This giveaway is not sponsored by Target and it runs from 7/27 - 8/3. The winner will be chosen and contacted by 8/4. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Best of Brooklyn

If you're planning to visit New York City, one area you've got to take the time to visit is Brooklyn. This is the most populous borough out of the five that compose NYC, and it offers a variety of neighborhoods and experiences that are sure to delight visitors of all kinds. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or even just some solo exploring, check out this guide for ideas on what to see, where to eat, and where to stay! 

What to See

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg 

Smorgasburg is a culinary experience with 100+ vendors. This is actually the nation's largest open-air market, and it's open every weekend. It takes place on the Williamsburg waterfront on Saturdays and in Prospect Park on Sundays. For more information, check out the Smorgasburg website!  

East River Ferry 

For $5.50, you can ride along the Brooklyn waterfront and see the neighborhood, no matter the weather. For the map of the ferry route that includes all NYC ferries, click here

Coney Island and Boardwalk

Source: Unsplash
The beach and boardwalk of this popular area are open year round, but the rides are open Easter weekend through Labor Day. This is a great place to enjoy a NYC hot dog or even catch a Coney Island Cyclones Minor League Baseball game. Be sure to ride the historic wooden coaster, the Cyclone.  

The Nighthawk Cinema

This fun cinema shows 1980s movies, has cheap tickets, and also offers dinner and cocktail options. It's another local favorite in Williamsburg! 

Brooklyn Bridge

Source: Unsplash
The Brooklyn Bridge is the gateway from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, and it's one of the most iconic landmarks in all of New York City. You can walk, bike, or drive over the bridge for free. It does get pretty crowded, so go either early in the morning or late at night. 

Where to Eat 

Brooklyn is known to have some of the very best pizza in New York City. Some local favorites include Juliana's, Pauli Gee's, Lucali, and Di Far. A restaurant literally named Diner is also another fun and different option for a meal. If you're looking for brunch, visit Buttermilk Channel, and try Sweetwater Grill for an awesome burger. Save room for dessert at either Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain or Ample Hills Creamery. Check out this guide to Brooklyn neighborhoods for more ideas. 

Where to Stay 

There are a variety of fabulous Brooklyn neighborhoods with wonderful hotels for you to enjoy during your stay. Williamsburg is one of the most popular neighborhoods within Brooklyn, and it's known as the area's hipster hub. Bay Ridge is located on the south side of Brooklyn, and offers great shopping and biking. Coney Island is a must visit for families, and Bushwick is quickly growing in popularity as an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood and destination. 

No matter where you decide to stay, Brooklyn offers you many choices for fabulous meals, fun memories, and unique experiences that you can't find elsewhere. Have an amazing time!