Archive for Feb 2016

February 17, 2016 Air Bnb in New York City

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we stayed at our first Air BnB on this trip to New York City. I have spent hours looking through AirBnB for our last few trips – but it never worked out for us as either they were all booked (darn my procrastination habit!) or they had a minimum night stay that was more than what we needed. [When we were in Maui last month, we stayed at a VRBO which is "Vacation Rentals by Owner" - similar... but not quite as cool. icon smile Air Bnb in New York City ] I was so excited the stars finally aligned and we could try out an Air BnB on this trip! If you aren’t familiar with Air BnB – you should look around on the site! Their definition is “Rent unique accommodations from local hosts in 190+ countries. Feel at home anywhere you go in the world with Airbnb.” You can find the coolest places to stay from treehouses to castles, yurts to luxury homes! And often for less than a traditional hotel would cost! If you want to get sucked in to losing hours to scrolling through “some day” vacation spots – check out this link HERE.

We were fortunate as it’s not the most popular time of year to go to New York – and when we finally remembered to actually book something a week before we left, we found somewhere with availability still!

We have found that on Staten Island you can get more space for your dollar – and it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The (free!) ferry ride between Staten Island and Manhattan is fun for the kids (ok – and us too) with great views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty too. And did I mention it’s free?! Staten Island isn’t the ideal place to stay if you like to come back to your room during the day – but if you’re like us and want to spend the day in the city and then relax at your accommodations for the evening, it’s great! If you’ve never stayed in NYC before – you pay a lot for hotels – and they’re small! I remember one time Mark and I had a room where we had to be pressed right up against the bed to walk around it to get to the washroom or door. But it was walking distance to Central Park. So you need to weigh out your pros and cons. I just find when travelling with kids – we like a little more space. (Space = sanity).

Okay – so we found his great house. The reviews were great too! ALWAYS read reviews is my biggest piece of advice! You learn to weed out the good and the dumb – if someone rates it 2 stars because they didn’t like the paint colour or the towels were crooked – that goes straight into the dumb category and is not taken into consideration on the basis of being purely stupid. Anyhow, I digress… the reviews for this place were great. There were a few quirks people mentioned – but Mark and I have lived in old homes and know choosing character and age means having to let somethings go. Creaky floors. I’ll take a gorgeous original wood floor that creaks – over a boring new flooring option any day.

Before we went, Eden and I looked it up on Google Maps. It was hard to tell from the Google Maps photo what it really looked like. And even when we pulled up – it could be cool… or it could be a dud. Was really hard to tell. There were some other beautiful character homes in the neighbourhood so we hoped it landed in the cool category. It did. Oh – and did you catch when I said we “pulled up” – another beautiful part of Staten Island. Actual parking without paying through the nose! We found a parking spot on the street immediately in front of the house. This makes me happy – especially when it feels like -100 outside.

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We walked in and a huge sigh of relief. The details – bannisters, light fixtures, and more – had me at hello.

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As soon as you walk in you see this gorgeous staircase – and on your right this incredible living room that went through to the dining room. The Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen are shared with the other guests – and we shared a washroom with one other room/guest. But – except for a quick “hello” in passing in the hall, never saw anyone else. What a treat to stay in this gorgeous home!

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We stayed on the third floor in the “Famous Artist Loft”. Our only complaint about this whole place was the heat. Now – we’ve lived in big old houses and completely get it that you can’t really regulate heat like you can in a new (boring) home. The difficulty was, because there were others in the house – it felt awkward to leave our door open to help balance heat. Our room was like a sauna – the hall was quite cool. So we left the door open as much as we could to help balance it. A fan could have made a world of difference. But at least it was warm – we were concerned it’d be freezing – it’s hard to heat these old places!

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Two big super duper comfy beds – and it was nice to have Netflix installed on the TV in the room! As Canadians – American Netflix is an extra special treat as there’s shows on there we don’t get. Nice to relax at the end of the day!

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All in all a great place to stay! If you’re a light sleeper I’d suggest the third floor rooms as the floors are creaky (as to be expected) so would be noisy if you had neighbours above you. We drove to the ferry terminal – about 5 minutes away – and it was Sunday and parking was free! Normally parking is $8 for the day. We were going to take the bus to the terminal – which you can catch super close to the house – but realized for four of us was cheaper to pay for parking than four bus tickets! Really convenient location though.

I’ll end the post with a few of the fun details from around the house!

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Totally recommend it – and did I mention it was way cheaper than a hotel? We had a winter rate – I’d expect it to be higher in summer – but it came to roughly $100Canadian a night! Although ALissa, the owner, isn’t on site – I texted her with a question and she responded with a couple minutes! If you’re interested here’s the link!

February 16, 2016 Freezing in New York City

For Christmas over the last few years, we try to give the kids a gift of a memory rather than “stuff”. For this year’s Christmas, we said we’d do a weekend in New York City. The girls hadn’t been in a number of years and were eager to visit again. We went this past weekend – you know, the coldest weekend in the history of humanity. I’m still thawing out! The cold changed some plans – there was no way we’d be walking over the Brooklyn Bridge for example – which had been a favourite spot on the last family trip there. The cold did not stop us from having fun and enjoying NYC though!

We love car trips – audio books, reading, good music, dumb games and the likes! NYC is a short drive from our house – 8 hours – but we decided to split it up and drive halfway after work/school on Friday and get there at a decent time on Saturday then.

Our black car after driving down. Yikes!

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As we were getting into Manhattan – we realized we had no plan! So we went to Central Park – we always love it there and see something different each time. There was suppose to be an ice sculpture festival there – but it was cancelled because it was too cold! Too cold for ice!

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I had read about a granite slide at one of the playgrounds in Central Park – and although busy in summer – we were the only ones crazy enough to be there this time of year! We all enjoyed the slide over and over and the small, quaint playground with it’s stone bridge and little oasis in the heart of the city. It also was pretty protected from the bitter wind – another bonus!

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Another favourite was reading the park bench plaques outside the zoo area. Some were funny – others inspiring. We all loved reading them and imagining what we’d have on our own park bench!

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A bench for book lovers… girls had to sit and enjoy it!!

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We then wandered down 5th avenue and admired the crazy window displays!

One thing that was so sad – last time we were in NYC with the girls we didn’t get around to Fao Schwarz. We said “next time”. Well – it’s closed!! (and so we said we’d take them the next day to Toys R Us at Times Square as we loved it last time – also closed down! What?!?!). We went in the Apple Store to warm up – I think everyone in Manhattan also came in. It’s crowded – but so fun to ride the glass elevator down and see the latest technology!

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One thing I love about NYC – every corner has some hidden surprise. We turned the corner and found these trees lit up like this – so beautiful!

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We went out to eat at a hole in the wall place recommended for their burgers (great!) and had a rousing game of x’s and o’s. One thing I love about traveling with the girls is it doesn’t take much to entertain them! We made a board out of napkins and pieces out of sugar packets – all set to play!

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We stayed at an AirBnb on Staten Island – but I’ll write about that tomorrow! Here’s a sneak peek though! It was nice to get to our place at a decent time and have some time to relax and hang out. I’m use to when I travel I go, go, go from dawn until late as I don’t want to miss anything! Traveling with the family forces me to slow down and enjoy time “off” too – which was great!

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The next morning we took the Staten Island ferry over to Manhattan. If you ever go to NYC – can’t recommend this enough. It’s totally free – gives you great views of the city and the statue of liberty – and is just fun! We also love the aquariums in the ferry terminal!

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It was a ridiculously cold day – so the river was steaming! Crazy to see!

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The girls have both learned about 9/11 in school since we last visited – and so we really wanted to take time out to remember those who lost their lives. Eden said it was somber while Madi said it was surreal. Agreed with both sentiments! To see all those names – putting a name to a tragedy makes it so much more real than just statistics and numbers of lives lost.

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ANother day of lots of walking in the frigid cold!

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On a side note – it was Fashion Week in NYC while we were there. Which was ironic as it was so cold we could not even think about fashion only how to stay warm! But, one day we came across a building where there were swarms of paparazzi – a model came out and we were able to see first hand the hunt for the photo. It was disturbing and seemed so wrong on so many levels to hunt this poor girl as she exited the building and all down the street. I love People magazine as much as the next – but I think this taste of the paparazzi in real life makes me value photos that an individual has agreed to – rather than the ones they were hunted down for – all the more! Needless to say I have no photos of her even though we walked down the sidewalk with her (and the photographers).


I was excited to hear the Chinese Lunar New Year parade was happening while we were there! So much colour and energy!

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And then it was down to the subway – nice break from the cold! And fun for the kids who rarely get to ride one!

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We took some time to enjoy Grand Central Station – including the Whispering Gallery I’d read about. In this noisy bustling corridor – you can speak into one corner – and it comes out clearly as a whisper across on the other side! It was so noisy around us so wasn’t sure it would work – but it did! There’s no signs – just go outside the Oyster Bar and give it a try!

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Eden loves astronomy – and so loved the ceiling. Did you know it’s actually backwards? Theirs conflicting theories on if that was intentional or not!

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We then took our book lovers to the beautiful New York Public Library. It’s gorgeous, amazing – a beautiful (FREE!) place to explore… but we did not see one book! The girls were very confused by that! Lots of places to study and a beautiful art gallery (the exhibit this time was of female print makers) but no books perhaps because the main reading room is closed for repairs.

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In between all our stops, we popped into stores and quaint shops to warm up. It sure was cold! And we ended the day with freezing at Times Square!

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It was then back on the ferry to Staten Island!

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Good night Lady Liberty!

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And into warm PJ’s, cup of hot chocolate and a good book to end the day!

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And I’ll end with a goofy video of Eden entertaining us while we grocery shopped for supper that night. icon smile Freezing in New York City A great weekend getaway!

Celebrating life and love


February 11, 2016 Baby Juliette’s Arrival

The Stones are one of my favourite families to document. Ever. They are such an amazing family that values love, relationships, life over things. They are so incredibly generous and talented in so many ways – I always leave inspired to live life fuller. Some of my past sessions with them were their maternity session for Isabella, newborn with Isabella, baby session with Isabella, maternity session for Desmond, Desmond’s home birth, family session, Penelope’s home birth, family session on the farm and the newest maternity/family session!

Sarah’s babies have always waited for me – and this one was no different! I was away on vacation, and had a small window before I left for a tradeshow – so I was so happy that the baby made it’s appearance during my availability. icon smile Baby Juliettes Arrival

When I arrived Sarah was in labour, and Kris was being his usual awesome support!

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Lots of hands on deck! The midwives, second assistant, doula, Sarah’s mom and me! Here is the midwife checking in with Sarah and giving her an update.

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Kris was going on an hour sleep after working nights, and was sneaking bites of food in between Sarah’s contractions. He is such an incredible support to Sarah. Love these two together.

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Lots of different techniques to keep Sarah comfortable and get the labour going!

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Love how this photo shows Kris and Sarah in the background in a photo from their first maternity session in the same pose!

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As the evening went along, Sarah’s mom brought their kids home to go to bed. Sarah was so excited to see them!

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Things started to progress and this baby was starting to want out soon!

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It was around this time that Sarah started professing her love to each person present – telling them how much she loved and appreciated each one of us. Throughout the labour Sarah was reciting Bible verses and praying – Sarah giving birth is one of the best experiences of my life. Such a strong, beautiful woman! And Kris – can not say enough good about him as he was there for every contraction to be held – tight! – or to wipe Sarah’s forehead or to make her laugh. But back to baby…

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And suddenly Juliette Grace was here! After hours of labouring always seems so sudden when the baby finally arrives!

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Bella was promised she’d be woken up to come meet the baby and to be the one who got to announce if it was a boy or girl. Such a proud big sister!

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The umbilical cord was cut by Kris – and the baby was born with an actual knot in the umbilical cord that you can see here. So much thanks given for prayers answered for a healthy baby!

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The moment Sarah has been waiting 9 months for…

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Cuddles and notifying people of her arrival!

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Juliette telling the midwife about her journey out…

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Celebrating life and love,


February 1, 2016 Stone Family

I waited to post these photos, as some of them were used for their Christmas card so didn’t want to share too early!

Always love when it’s time to photograph the Stone family again! Some of my past sessions with them were their maternity session for Isabella, newborn with Isabella, baby session with Isabella, maternity session for Desmond, Desmond’s home birth, family session, Penelope’s home birth, family session on the farm and now this newest maternity/family session!

So exciting to welcome baby # 4 with the Stones!

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Celebrating life and love,