New Spots Category

For that little hole-in-the-wall we discover!

Downton Abbey in Midtown

Downton Abbey in Midtown

I’m not even a little bit ashamed to say I love Downton Abbey. I watched every episode and lived for each chance I got to see into the lives of these characters I came to love. So when I saw that there was a Downton Abbey exhibit opening up LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM MY APARTMENT, I could not wait to go! Unfortunately, life has been in the way for quite some time, but with family here who are also fans, we finally made it happen.

And since I know I am not the only fan…here are some shots of the exhibit…just like you were there!!

The exhibit starts out with you appropriately downstairs in the servants quarters….

oh hi daisy!!!…

I’m pretty sure my grandmother had this exact one..ha

 

and the chasm by which the worlds were seperated…

 

so we headed upstairs

to Mary’s bedroom.

 

The costumes in this show were so beautiful.

 

I found the one 1920’s gown that fits my hips…:)

 

We had so much fun. This exhibit is open on 57th and 7th. If you’re in midtown… it’s a beautiful exhibit.

 

Thanks for checkin in guys! love ya’ll!

love,

the grizzards

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Grand Central Station to Westchester!

Grand Central Station to Westchester!

We had such a fun day! When we visited the city with the kids, of all the amazing things to do here, Jozlyn just wanted to ride the subway. You would’ve thought that we took her to Disney World as we stood on an elevated platform in Queens. She had a blast, but today was even better. Today we took a train out of Grand Central Station.

 

Jordan and I had a poster of Grand Central Station in our first apartment. It was a tiny studio that we shared with a tiny dog, but the poster was as large as one of the walls. I can say, the real thing is way better. 🙂 And it was a surreal experience getting to take our first train from this historic, iconic landmark. It was a special day.

 

 

We were taking the train out to a friends house for a barbecue! Luckily, this friend was also a professional chef who was making a seafood spread! Now Jordan is normally a vegan, but he was more than willing to use a cheat day for this! We had so much fun and the girls had a blast running around a yard again!

Now, you should know that I don’t eat seafood, so this was not appealing at all to me, however, everyone else was absolutely freaking out at the look of this grill! It was impressive.

 

 

and look what my little princess found and just couldn’t wait to show mommy……

this is how hugs alway start….

and this is how they end…

with one of my children getting choked by love! haha

 

It was getting late, so back to the train we went. She started off all smiles.

 

but it didn’t take long….

 

We had a great time!

Thanks for checking in guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

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How to NOT irritate New Yorkers!

I’ve been in New York for 3 months now. I am not what anyone would call “adjusted” yet. I am learning new things every day and with each new day comes some stupid mistake I made that made it perfectly obvious that “I ain’t from ’round these parts”. Please, no one read this as me telling everyone reading that I fit in as a New Yorker with all of my 60 days of experience! ha But I can tell you there are some golden rules here that are fairly obvious if you spend more than a week on these streets. So scan these over before your next trip to the Big Apple and see if you don’t get yelled at less!

 

  1. Download Citymapper

There is nothing more frustrating than rushing to get somewhere, finally making it out of the train station only to be stopped by someone blocking the exit while they figure out where they need to go next!

We all know the subway system can be frustrating and daunting! I believe I told you about the time that I took Jozzy to Brooklyn and got on the wrong train! I know many people that visit here and they are trying to have a go at navigating by using google maps or something ridiculous! Trust me, you’ll be looking to visit the Statue of Liberty and end up in Washington Heights or somewhere.

The City Mapper app makes New York so much easier! Download it as soon as you book your flight for a visit! It has absolutely saved me. I would never feel confident about taking the girls out on my own without it.

 

I’ve created  a route for you on the app so you can see how it works:

city mapper app

 

When you first pull up the app, tap on the “Get Me Somewhere” button. (If you input your hotel as “home”, it will speed up the process when you’re out)

Type in the location of where you want to go. If you know the address or corner, that’s the best, but if the spot is well known, it will be able to pull it up. I used the Statue of Liberty as our make believe destination for this trip!

 

 

city mapper ap

 

Once, you’ve chosen the destination, it will take you to this screen. The top shows you your options for how to get there and how long each option will take. Then the “suggested” section gives you the most popular routes. So this page suggests you take the “1” train and it will take you approximately 50 minutes to get there. I know what you are thinking… “hold up! doesn’t the Uber icon up there say 15 minutes? That’s what I’m doing!” And you may want to choose that, but if you click on that Uber icon, it will show you the prices for Uber pool or sole rider. For this ride, it was between $21-$29. A subway ride is $2.75, so for all of you trying to do New York on the cheap…keep all those cab and uber rides in mind.

Note that option 2 is significantly shorter on the “2” train, but you will have to transfer to a bus, meaning you will have to exit the station, purchase another fair for the bus and wait for it to arrive. If you have a family, I’d opt for just getting on the train and jumping off when you get there.

city mapper app

Let’s say we chose option 1 on the “1” train. Click on that and it brings up this page.

It will tell you what direction to walk (and if you click on the “walk” it will show a gps tracker with directions to make sure you’re walking the right direction), what corner the station is on and WHAT DIRECTION TRAIN TO TAKE. This is what got me in trouble in Brooklyn. I got on the right train but the wrong direction! It will even tell you what section to get on so you are closest to your exit.

It tells you how many stops you will have before leaving and even which exit to take, so you can cross the street as few times as possible.

This app has been amazing and it will keep you from lining the sidewalks, staring at the sun, trying to figure out which way is which and where Broadway intersects and such.

DOWNLOAD IT!

 

2) Don’t hog the pole on the train!

I learned this when a friend of mine looked at me and chuckled as I casually and coolly walked onto the train and draped my arm around the pole so I could check my phone before I lost signal. He said, ” you’ll learn not to hog the pole.” I didn’t know this was a thing… oh it’s a thing. You’ll see people give the stank eye if they walk on and you are leaning on, wrapped around or monopolizing the pole. It doesn’t even have to be that crowded. Common courtesy is to leave room for multiple people around the pole. Of course, Jozlyn thinks the pole is there simply for her dancing skills ( if you remember the end of the Coney Crazy video… it happens all the time!)

So when you step on the train, if you can’t find a seat and end up standing with the pole…unless it is just super empty, try to be conscious of how much space you take up around the pole.

 

3) Don’t walk slowly in the middle of the sidewalk.

 

This is similar to the problem we talked about with the subway and some of this may be resolved with CityMapper, but sometimes, walking in the city all day is just tough! I get it… I pretty much fall into bed after lugging my two littles around all day. Keep in mind, New Yorkers are always going somewhere, and it’s not that they are usually late, it’s just that they are contending with schedules and unknowns constantly. They know that the train they need comes in two minutes and they are exactly two minutes from the station. If you need to rest or need to slow the pace a bit… DO IT! Just make sure that you’re not taking up the main sidewalk or you will probably get trampled. Walk along the building and take your time.

 

 

 

 

4) Don’t take up the whole escalator.

So you know how there is that unwritten rule about the escalator or moving sidewalk in the airport… or the highway that all the bad drivers ignore?? Ya know, the one that says the left lane is for passing? Well, New Yorkers honor this fairly religiously on the escalator.

If you are holding onto the handrail with your left hand, you will get pushed to the right side by some executive who can’t be late or something. Notice…everyone moving is on the left, everyone planted is on the right.

 

5) Don’t stand in the middle of the corner on the sidewalk.

New Yorkers tend to have a sixth sense about when it is safe to cross an intersection, right? I still find myself peering a good distance down the road to see how fast I can sprint with my youngest in her stroller and my oldest on a scooter, but everyone else seems pretty nonchalant about this gift. I know when I first got here, I pretty much would wait until I saw the little white guy on the sign lit up that meant I could walk. The problem was I was standing on the sidewalk on the corner. That’s where I’m supposed to be right?? Well, not really. You see, if you have a “stop” signal, that means the people headed toward your corner from the other angle have a walk signal, and if you are standing right on the corner, then you are about to get trampled. Ideally, if you can, stay right up on the curb, or, if you’re not in a hurry, stay behind their path to cross the sidewalk, so they can pass quickly and you can avoid any major collisions.

 

There are so many things…little things, but basically, be aware. Be considerate of what’s happening around you. Life moves very fast here. If it’s too fast for you, that’s fine, just be considerate of those who are trying to live their lives normally amidst your vacation.

This place loves tourists. It depends on tourists. But New Yorkers live here every day and these little “helps” will keep you from getting trampled or cursed at. 🙂

Love you guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

 

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A day in Dumbo, Brooklyn

A day in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Well, fall is officially here! Which means, we are in full coat, hat, and gloves full time now. I had a scare for a minute because I could not remember if I had a winter coat at all. Everyone around me kept telling me that it was freezing outside, so I scoured my closet and all of our remaining boxes to find something warm. I could’ve sworn I bought one last year, but could not find one. BUT we promised the girls this day in Brooklyn with friends, so I layered up, threw on my warmest leather bomber and headed out the door with the family.

We hopped on the F train to Dumbo for our fun afternoon! The girls were so excited! We were going to meet our friends, Laura Beth and Blake with their three kids (including their brand new baby girl that I was dying to hold) and as an added bonus, Laura Beth’s parents were going to be there. I understand that sentence may sound strange that I would be excited to see my friend’s parents at our playdate…let me explain… Laura Beth’s parents, “Miss Cathy and Mr. Jeff” have known me since the day I was born. It was a blessing to get to see them again. They are, by far, some of the kindest people on Earth and have been an encouragement to my whole family for 30 years…so yes… excited.

We have a few rituals on the train to keep the girls occupied on our commutes. One of them is Rock, Paper, Scissors and Jozlyn is the absolute Champ! Basically, undefeated. A gentleman on the train saw us playing and asked if he could see if he could beat her.

When I say, that this girl is outgoing… I ain’t playing! ha… and she won.

Once we got out, we walked along the East River until we saw the Carousel pop up over the trees. The kids went crazy!

 

Hi, Miss Cathy!!!

We took several trips on the Carousel and then headed to a nearby playground to let some kids get the last of their energy out. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, and I made it through the day just fine…sans winter coat….which I found hanging in my closet when I got home. Ha.

I think it’s fair to say we tuckered them out just fine. 

Next time you’re in New York, don’t overlook a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to this beautiful park. I recently wrote about my first trek and it is not to be missed! It’s one of the best views of the city you’ll find. Thanks for checking in!

Love,

the Grizzards

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Rainbow Room!

Rainbow Room!

 

New York has some pretty amazing experiences to offer! And we have been blessed to do some incredible things so far… however, something that has definitely been one of the coolest experiences IN MY LIFE is singing at the legendary Rainbow Room on top of Rockefeller Plaza. I could not believe that Jordan and I were not only going to sit in the room of this extravagant venue, but sing! What is my life right now?

Now, before it seems I am making this something bigger (for us) than it was… our good friend Quentin (and Broadway star of CATS and the upcoming ONCE ON THIS ISLAND) was invited to sing for an event here and asked us to sing a trio with him. It was his gig for sure…but who cares?? I got to sing in the Rainbow Room….with a Broadway star…. as a princess! We sang the trio from SHREK, so since I was singing Fiona, I think I can claim my tiara now. Although, technically, she was an ogre with an oversize bangle on her head, but WHATEVER! I was singing Sutton Foster. 🙂

This was such an amazing experience! If you get the chance, the Rainbow Room is open to the public, so go check it out when you’re in the city!

Now, people have been yelling that I haven’t posted video (and by “people” I mean my mother). There was no video taken at the venue as it was not allowed. Here is a clip of our rehearsal sans Quentin as SHREK. Thank you so much for your prayers!

 

We love you guys!

Love,

the Grizzards

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Prayers for my babies!

Prayers for my babies!

Guys, my babies are growing up. I cannot begin to tell you how hard that is. Of course, every mommy in the world knows the horror of this feeling. No one needs to try and explain to another mom the pain of seeing your babies developing into children/kids/middleschoolers/teenagers/ adults. Of course, there are perks to be sure. I feel like I’m going to look into all the faces of the moms on Jozlyn’s first day of school… yes, my daughter is going to school for the first time this year, and see an expression of equal parts heartbreak and elation; an inward struggle for a dominant emotion. I am thrilled to have some time to do adult things. I am excited to hopefully have conversations with “big people” who challenge my thinking and help me grow. But I am equally unnerved at the thought of my daughter being away from me for 8 hours a day. I mean, for the next 13 years of her life AT LEAST, someone else will have more time with her than I will. I will no longer be the one who has the best opportunity to develop her character, responses, intellect, and grace. That is a sobering thought.

When considering moving to NYC, of course, we THOUGHT about the day when Jozzy would go to school. We talked about the school systems and some options. We felt very strongly about putting our kids in public school. We want them to be a good influence in the community and thought it would be a great way to meet people outside the church. I still believe that. As much as I love Christian education, and believe me, I DO, I have definitely seen the effects of not allowing kids to develop a Christian worldview outside of the confines of the safe church. When we don’t expose our kids to things outside the church until we throw them out into the college world, we are begging for overwhelmed, blindsided and often times, ineffective Christians on college campuses…many of whom, leave the church once they’ve experienced this “new world”. This, of course, is not the case for everybody but is a large number. We didn’t want that for our babies.

However, when you’re in New York, that safety bubble is effectively burst! There is no “church world”. They are exposed to everything you can be exposed to simply by existing in this place, so we decided Christian school would be a great option. This is the only reason that I’m not having a nervous breakdown right now.

Jozlyn is so ready to be in school. She’s excited to go and I know she will thrive. I know every momma thinks their babies are brilliant…but mine really is…:). Maybe not “brilliant”, but she’s a very capable, smart little girl and I am excited what school will do for her. I’m excited for her to be able to be social and structured. I’m excited for her to experience new things. I’m excited to see who she will become. And I’m excited to get some one-on-one time with my little one.

The kids have coped by clinging to one another and I think the separation will help them gain some needed independence. I’m so glad they love each other, but right now, they tend to fall apart a bit when separated.

  • Pray that they will grow in comfort and confidence while here.

We are so excited about Jozzy’s school. I really want to tell you what school it is, but I’ve been on the internet too much and don’t want to say where they are going! ha. I’m that mom. But I will tell you it is an amazing place with fantastic leadership. They have shown love for our family and made us feel like our girls would be special to them, which I’m sure they do to each family, but I love them for it.

  • Pray for me as I send my big girl off for the first time.
  • Pray for logistics as we navigate how to try and get one kid to school in a completely different direction, on a completely different train than Jordan goes/takes to work and we still have one little one at home.
  • Pray that the Lord will open up opportunities for me to work.

You guys are the best! Thank you for lifting us up. We love you.

Love,

the Grizzards

How to Make an Anastasia Costume- DIY!

Last week, I wrote about taking Jozzy to the theater in an Anastasia costume. Since Halloween is coming, here is a quick DIY if you want to make your own princess dress for your little princess.

 

I scoured the internet for a toddler sized costume for the Russian princess and found NOTHING! I decided I was going to have to jimmy rig something. But when I did research I found that the Broadway costume is totally different than the finale film dress. I knew Jozlyn would request the film dress, but would be so ecstatic to see the dress she was wearing on stage. So I showed her pictures of Anya’s Broadway dress and she agreed that it would be better to go with her red dress…whew.

 

So, for any other Broadway lovers out there…. here are the steps to making this dress…

 

Here is the original Broadway dress…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the dress I purchased for about $20… 

The first thing I did is CUT THAT FLOWER OFF!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get some gold trimming and red jewels from your

local fabric/craft store or online…

 

 

This ran me another $20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dress ended up being a bit big on top (she’s tiny), so I just tried it on her and tightened the side seam and straps.

 

 

 

Lay out a pattern for your appliques, and decide what you like. Play with things to get the right scale. Luckily, this Russian-inspired gown called for opulence… the more the better!

 

 

 

 

 

I was not excited that the dress has rhinestones on it when I first got the dress, but it ended up adding a bit I think. I layered on one applique at the bust and a simple small one to lengthen the center to her waist.

 

I then went to town pinning all of my appliques in place..making tweaks as I went. Once I was happy with the placement, I thought I would glue them down… but, I decided to bite the bullet and hand sew them (you can just sew them down). I know some of you are thinking “Why didn’t she just use her machine!?” Well, I tried and broke 2 needs on the embedded sequence… ouch. I had the time, so I just took out my needle and thread and did it myself. It actually took a lot less time than I expected.

Once the appliques were secure, I could get to the fun part…. JEWELS! I bought way too many jewels, but they were pretty and I knew I wanted to make it obnoxiously gawdy! ha. I simply Gorilla Glued the gems in place and tried my best to edit my desires to bedazzle the entire gown. I think it turned out just right.

At this point, my plan was complete… but it never is with me.

 

One of my favorite aspects of the gown is its silhouette. It is very similar to an Audrey Hepburn gown… a classic 50’s line where there are two skirts:  a slim fitting column skirt seen through the front slit of a voluminous top skirt. It is one of my favorite designs in all of fashion and I hated that it wasn’t a part of this mini copy.

I had to at least reference it, so I slit the top layer of the dress right down the middle and tacked it back to reveal the silk under skirt. In the original dress the bottom skirt is almost a baroque pattern. I was not going to spend any more money as I was already at my budget, so I took some leftover trim and cut out some pieces to form a pattern down the center of the underskirt I had revealed. It was not exact but at least it was a nod to the beauty of the Broadway design.

After adding a few more gems to the new pattern and the tiara, I stepped back and felt pretty good about what had been done. Jozzy was going to love it.

If you tackle this (or others), leave a picture in the comments! Good luck!

 

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Jozzy makes her Broadway debut!

Jozzy makes her Broadway debut!

It is no secret that one of the best parts about living in New York, in my humble opinion, is the access to the most incredible theater in the world! I have always loved theater. My grandmother sat me down in front of the tv to watch musicals since I was born. My babysitter from that time said I had SOUND OF MUSIC memorized at 6… in its entirety… including choreo…:) That started a love affair for musicals that grew to a love of theater. I loved the music, the dance, and the clothes!! Vera Ellen’s dresses that swirled around her as she turned across the floor, Julie Andrews turning curtains into day clothes for a litter of children, Marilyn Monroes beautifully ornate gowns. Period pieces, contemporary works of art… I just love the clothes that litter the stages and screens of the theater. I’ve been obsessed my whole life.

One of my favorite pictures I own is one of Jozlyn before she turned 1. She had a bad ear infection and would scream everytime I laid her flat. The only thing that would help quiet her for a few minutes at a time was when I put on SINGIN IN THE RAIN on my laptop. She would crook her little neck to watch Gene Kelly dance gracefully across the screen. I knew I had my theater buddy! I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.

I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.

She was so excited! When Anastasia came out on stage in this dress, Jozlyn freaked out! I love making my baby girl happy!

 

 

 

Here are some of our favorite shots of the day.

I know I’ll be doing this with a much more significant dress one day, but this was fun.

 

pretty in the back
not a horse drawn carriage but still classy!
She says daddy is her Prince Charming!

 

He played Vlad…
Gleb…such an incredible voice.

 

Dmitry!

 

ANASTASIA!!! She came up to Jozzy and said, “Oh you look like such a beautiful princess in your dre….. wait a minute!! That’s my dress!! Oh my gosh you’re me!!!! Aaawww, you look so beautiful!” haha it was so sweet!

 

She was wide awake when we were headed home… at nearly midnight! haha

 

 

Thanks for checkin in!

Love,

the Grizzards

 

 

 

 

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Last day at the Beach!

Last day at the Beach!

Summer was quickly coming to a close and Jozlyn would not stop asking for another day at the beach. The funny thing is that I grew up in a home that was no longer than 15 minutes from a beautiful Florida beach… and I think I made my way to the sand a total of 6 times in 10 years. My little girl, however, is completely enamored with the sight of the waves and the feeling of sand between her toes. So we made plans to go with our good friends just before school started.

I guess she had fun 😉

 

 

the tide was ridiculously strong!

So blessed to have sweet friends that love on my kids and are a god send to me! Thanks for checking in!

 

Love,

the Grizzards

 

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1st Day at a 1st School!

This is not happening. I feel like this cannot be happening, but it is! I am sending my daughter off to school. Not mother’s day out. Not a two day a week day care….SCHOOL! What is happening!?

 

We found a great, Christian school in Queens and were blessed enough to find a way to get her in at the last minute! She was so excited that “going to school” became the go-to bribe for the whole week before she went. I would say, “Now Joz, you need to obey Mommy like a big girl. Big girls get to go to school, but babies stay home with Mommy all day.” Like I was actually going to consider not taking her to school! lol.

 

She picked out her outfit and I bought her a new jacket. Kenny was even unwittingly excited…not realizing she was going to be without her best friend during the day now. My big girl smiled the whole morning even though we had to wake her up earlier than practically she’d ever been woken. New York is amazing, but since we moved here during the summer, it’s been hard to for her to find friends. And Jozzy is a social girl, so no kids around is a bit of a problem for her. I knew school would solve a lot of her loneliness and have been so excited to see her little eyes light up like this!

I am so going to miss having her infectious energy with me all day, but am so excited to see how she blossoms in this new environment! I just hope the teacher can contain her! lol

 

Just can’t believe it how big she is getting!

 

No minivan to school for us! School is just a few stops away!

 

Day one was a family event! So proud of our big girl!

 

I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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