Up Yonda Farms

On our way back from camping, I knew we had to stop somewhere to sightsee. The drive is, like, four hours! Soon after we left Rogers Rock and had lunch at Bolton Landing, we decided to explore and stumbled upon this beautiful outdoor conservancy. It was called a farm but it was mostly a few close and easy hikes with an indoor butterfly garden. I was mostly excited about the butterfly garden because I wanted Petra to see these Monarch beauties up close. They did not disappoint. Even though I believe Spring is the time butterflies are abundant, on this summer day, we had a fun with a few gorgeous butterflies. Łukasz managed to catch one on his hands and after Petra saw how it was done, she had to grab one for herself too! We held her back though and taught her hold to gently hold them so as not to squash these delicate creatures. Petra learns so quickly by watching us. It's constantly reminding me to watch what I say and do to set the right example for her. Kids really do learn by example!

The hikes in the surrounding areas provides some of the most beautiful views of the lake that I had ever seen. While I got Petra ready to go hiking by slathering her with sunscreen, Łukasz checked in and found out that the property belonged to a rich family who donated it sometime around the 1920's and they turned it into a conservancy to help preserve the natural forest that surrounds it. It's gorgeous! So many lovely wildflowers. I will admit, I wasn't properly dressed for this and I showed up wearing Saltwater Sandals but luckily the forest floors weren't too thick and the hike didn't require any crazy climbing. Petra loved the view as she was strapped to Łukasz' back. It got a little hot so we let her walk around a little at the top of the hill but she was more than content walking on grass and playing with her water bottle.

Such a beautiful day! I'm really glad we got to stop by this space. We had come to Rogers's Rock so much, who knew that this beautiful space was only a few miles away! Adventuring with these two is my favorite!

Xo,
Karen

Petra Goes Camping

Around the time Petra was thee months old, we wanted to take her camping. Three months! The trip didn't end up happening because it rain and rain plus breastfeeding seemed like I would be confined to a tent the whole time. Well, I'm glad we waited a year because a few weeks ago, we finally took Petra on her first camping trip to Lake George in Upstate New York. Camping had always been one of our favorite pastimes before our little lady was born so we were really excited to see how Petra would like it. Knowing her exploratory nature at 14 months, it was like she had been living in the woods the entire time. She even went to bed in the tent easier and faster than she normally would at home. Isn't it amazing? Sometimes it seems like we're all innately animals who just need to escape to our natural habitat of living in the woods from time to time.

We spent two nights, which is literally NOTHING, to Lukasz' disappointment but we had a great time playing on the lake. Petra was all about the beach and the water at our campsite. We bought her this swimsuit filled with floaties. I'm pretty sure she hated it but it was better to be safe than sorry! It has decent reviews on Amazon. Food happened to be my main concern especially when we have such a picky eater with a few little teeth but it ended up being pretty simple. We had purchased a camping stove a year ago for the trip that never happened and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to quickly sautée some chicken or salmon, both of which Petra loves. I cooked up some veggies as well but she wasn't as keen on those as I was. When traveling with a little one, I would highly recommend a camping stove. It's not exactly "roughing it" but it really took the guesswork out of meal times. For snacks, we packed plenty of fresh fruit and clif bars.

For bedtime, we brought along a few thermal sleeping pads to put outside of the sleeping bags but we also wrapped Petra up in a vintage LL Bean onesie that really kept her incredibly warm throughout the night. Especially with Petra, who loves to toss and turn in her sleep, I was very concerned that eventually she would wiggle out of our sleeping bag but she actually slept quite soundly. It was actually me who probably woke up every hour to make sure she was completely covered and warm but isn't that every mom's story? I really underestimate how chilly the ground can get even if you're going camping when it's 90 degrees throughout the day. The temperature changes so quickly, it always catches my by surprise.

On a side note, Pierrot, our fur ball was all about being outdoors. This guy would probably spend his life camping in the woods if we allowed it but he also needs someone there to feed him and give him clean water or else he will starve. He's quite the mix of outdoorsy high maintenance. He's generally a good calm dog at home in Brooklyn (some would say a CatDog… me, I call him that) but he's actually the best when he's able to run free off leash. He never wanders far and all he really expects is that maybe we toss him a ball every now and again.

And so, I leave you with this cute picture of Petra drinking out of her camping mug and look at her tiny Keens! Overall, it was great miniature vacation with the family. Babies love camping! And we definitely plan to do a lot more camping as Petra grows older. I love that we can really introduce her to a love for the outdoors. It only makes me excited to see her grow up wanting to hopefully do things like be outside kayaking than playing with a smartphone. What a sweet little babe ❀

Xo,
Karen

Family BBQ

Our first weekend in California happened to coincide with Petra’s 9 months so a celebration was definitely in order.  When I was younger, my house was the party house and when I say party, I mean BBQ and that usually meant some kind of tacos.  So naturally, I expected no less than that and my parents delivered.  Saturday was a huge celebration for our baby girl where some of my side of the family would meet her for the first time.  My parents even got a taco guy because when in Southern California, if you’re not eating tacos then you’re doing it wrong. Petra and I wore matching shoes.  I picked out a sweater for Lukasz.  My family is basically adorable.

But let’s talk about the little lady of the hour…  Petra is actually 10 months old now so I’m really late on this but I feel like I still needed to post this and talk about it so I never forget how tiny Petra once was and every little milestone that happened and how much I love her right now, right this minute.  Petra is officially nine months old.  A week before turning nine months, she got her first bottom tooth.  It was a couple of bad teething days where all she wanted was just to be held by me at all times and maybe chew on something cold a few times. She would get her second bottom tooth a couple of weeks later.  Little P has the best appetite.  She eats three actual meals a day with a few purses mixed in as a snack.  She is literally game to try anything, I love it so much.  She used to hate sweet foods but now her favorite foods are probably blueberries and oranges (carefully peeled, of course).  She smiles and laughs while she eats, its too cute to handle. She smiles and shows me her teeth right before she stuffs food into her mouth.  She LOVES her papa.  SO. MUCH.  Those two melt my heart, the way they play, the way he speaks Polish to her all day, everyday.  Lukasz once texted me and told me that Petra answered him back in Polish by saying “tak”.  He was so excited!  Petra is also becoming good friends with Pierrot.  She loves chasing him even though he’s always faster because shes crawling. Sometimes when Pierrot gets into his silly moods and begins chasing his tail, she stares at him and starts cracking up.  It’s the sweetest thing.  In addition to crawling, she stands herself to standing position and cruises the furniture which means she cant be left alone, not even for a minute.  She’s always on the go!  Petra loves being outside more than anything, but that’s the beauty of New York.  The whole city is a playground for us and I love being outside with her.  It’s been a bit of a rough winter but I see Spring and summer on the horizon and time spent on the swings for Little P.

As you can see, there was much to celebrate in California… ❀

The picture below is one of my favorites of Petra and her grandpa!  This was also Petra’s first time playing with balloons and she loved every second of it!  I’m already in the process of brainstorming for her first birthday and balloons are definitely on the list.  They make her so happy!

Gosh, what a pretty family!

Xo,

Karen

Venice Beach

On our first week, we also visited Venice Beach close to Los Angeles County.  For some reason, I always get super nostalgic for Venice Beach when I’m in New York. I watch Californication and begin to idealize what California and LA are to me even though, it’s really nothing like that. It also reminds me of the Doors because, Jim Morrison and all of that fun stuff.  It really just takes me back to my teenage years when I fell in love with Classic Rock and thought I would be a hippie forever, haha.

Things definitely didn’t turn out the way I thought they would, they turned out better! We happened to make our way to Venice on one of the few gloomy days that happened during our trip.  It was also a random suggestion in the middle of the day but when someone says they want to go, we gotta go. Lukasz had only visited Venice once about a year before we met.  It was one of the few places in California he happened to make a pit stop and one of the few places he found actually interesting during his travels out West. Venice is like a mini New York in that people just aren’t afraid to be themselves. It was really nice to get to come here with our daughter (although the weather could have been better). It did make for some interestingly gloomy pictures, despite our high spirits.

On our way back to the car, as the real rain began, we stopped at this little Peruvian restaurant that was as literally a hole on the wall.  I can be a little picky about Peruvian food.  My parents always seem to know the spots when we’re in California and I get my fair share of it when we go visit.  I’m always wary of trying new Peruvian restaurants in New York because they always make the food so kitschy. The true mark of a good semi-authentic place is always the portion of their ceviche. It has to be a nice hearty bowl of fish. Otherwise, what’s the point?  This place in Venice, whose name escapes me, really hit the spot. It was all weirdly served in “to-go” containers despite us eating in but everything was great from the ceviche to the Lomo Saltado. 

It was one of those days that left you tired at the end, with all the driving, Petra fell asleep in the car after eating so many French fries. My favorite thing ever is showing her these new places and getting even more excited to come back when she’s older as well.  It’s so amazing to show everything to a new little human being.  I feel like, with Petra and Lukasz, I have travel partners for life.

Xo,

Karen

California: Another Day of Sun!

We’ve been back from California for a couple of weeks now but I just finished sorting through all of our photos!  I think I got shutter-happy because I ended up with over 1000 pictures.  The camera never left my side but I felt like I never wanted to miss a moment of Petra and Lukasz and I soaking in the California sunshine.

This mini vacation was definitely long overdue for us.  It’s so great to live in a city like New York but I think it’s so necessary to take a break from the hustle and bustle every once in a while.  Having the plane land in California was like literally a breath of fresh air. Even the plane ride TO California was calm and collected, with Petra sleeping a decent amount of time but not being overly rowdy when she was awake.  We flew JetBlue and the staff was super supportive and accommodating of us having a little one.

Though the weather during our stay was up in the air, we lucked out and it was sunny during a majority of our time there with a couple of rainy days thrown in.  It was different from our past trips to California, we usually make this trip in February and be weather is usually super sunny and high 70’s. After all, isn’t that what California is known for? 

Petra got a chance to meet all of our California family and friends, including Eric, one of my best friends since middle school. These are the moments I looked forward to the most, introducing everyone to my little family. So much love going around, I felt so lucky.

We took it easy the first couple of days but went to the park and a few local hikes in the Irvine Park area. Petra rode a swing for the first time! Oh my goodness, the happiness on her face has me looking forward to Spring and Summer so we can go out to the park and have so much fun.  Her happy face makes me melt! It almost makes me feel anxious thinking that these moments are fleeting, I just love her so much! Stay little forever, baby girl!

If anyone plans on going in a hike with littles anytime soon, I highly recommend getting a Tula carrier.  It’s amazing and it let us be hands free.  Lukasz loves baby wearing and Petra loves being worn by her papa. She even fell asleep on our little hike, she was so comfy! We got our as a hand me down from Lukasz’ sister who previously used hers for her two little ones. They’re really durable! I love it. 

I have a few more posts for California coming up, I just really love the pictures and had to post for my own excitement if not for your reading pleasure.  Thanks for following along!

Xo,

Karen

Sandomierz

Way before our little family touched down in Poland, Lukasz had told me his sister has been planning a sort of family reunion for Lukasz’ visit.  Lukasz had tried to play it off as something small but when Lukasz, Petra and I officially arrived at the restaurant, Bistro Podwale, we literally walked into a crowded room, full of applause and cheer.  It was so so wonderful to feel the love in that room and it was even more amazing to finally be able to visit Lukasz’ hometown and meet his family. 

From the moment we walked in, Petra was greeted by everyone!  She was adored, kissed and cuddled.  If only she could remember this moment and how loved she is by her whole family!  I’m so glad we were able to capture so much of it on camera, including this photo below of Petra and her great grandfather who is 95 years old!  It is literally one of my most favorite photographs ever. 

I’ll be honest and say that for the second half of our stay in Sandomierz, I got sick with some kind of a stomach bug.  I had no desire to eat anything and I was extremely nauseated.  But I was able to step out a couple of times and do some sight seeing with Lukasz and a couple of his friends.  We visited his high school, which is one of the oldest secondary schools in Poland.  We visited some churches, which Poland has in abundance.  And we visited the town square which was really adorable. It’s such a stark contrast to think about me growing up in California with modern buildings and miles and miles of freeways, all the while Lukasz living in this small and adorable town with so much history.  The whole thing is so mind blowing.  It’s also one of the things that makes me love Lukasz even more. 

I wish we had more pictures or touristy stories to tell but this trip just really came down to family.  I look forward to the next time we come visit and maybe Petra will be a little older and we can do some additional things on our wishlist like going camping in the mountains and hills near Sandomierz.  After this trip, I really feel like there’s so much more to explore with this little tribe of mine. I feel like this is only the beginning.

Xo,

Karen

Warsaw

After the plane landed in Warsaw, we were picked up by Lukasz’ sister who lives there with her husband and her two kids.  It was really awesome to be able to meet her and have Petra meet her aunt for the first time.  It was also awesome to have Lukasz see his family for the first time in about three years.  It was a very emotional experience, to say the least but it was also amazing to be able to discover this part of Europe for the first time with my adorable tiny family.  Of course, when I was finally able to get a decent amount of sleep, we went out into Warsaw and walked for the entire day.  We went to the old part of town that Lukasz hung around the most when he was younger and going to school.  It’s so beautiful, the kind of old European town I have only seen in pictures. 




We stopped at an adorable little restaurant, Kompania Piwna, in the old town that Lukasz used to frequent when he was younger and had some pierogi because when in Poland, do as the Polish do. ;). I will admit, it was really chilly the whole time we were there and it rained almost every day in Warsaw which really limited our time outdoors. But we were more than glad to go from spot to spot to seek shelter and Petra loves being outdoors so she had no problem being outside either (although it’s getting a little harder to wrestle her into her winter clothes as she grows older… she’s definitely going to love summers in New York where clothing can be kept to a minimum.)

We did a few touristy things like visited the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and visited the University of Warsaw.  On one of our nights, we even visited a vegan restaurant. (Who knew Warsaw had such a growing vegan population?). But really, this trip came down to visiting friends and family and I was more than excited to do that.  These are people I had only heard stories about but, more importantly, people that had left such an imprint in Lukasz’ life. It was also oh-my-gosh amazing that Petra was able to meet her cousins for the first time.  While Bianka and Tadeusz are years older, their bond was instant and adorable.  My heart melts thinking about it and hoping the day when we see them again isn’t too far off. 

Visiting Warsaw was really one for the books, so many firsts for all of us. I, sincerely hope that in the future, there’s more good times to be spent here.  We soon had to leave Warsaw and head to our next stop, Lukas’ hometown, Sandomierz.

Xo,

Karen

Flying at Five Months

It’s been a while since we’ve been back from Poland but I needed the past weeks to gather my thoughts and pictures and I figured I would kick off my Poland posts with a post about flying with a baby.  More specifically, a 5 month old baby.  Even more specific, a five month old baby named Petra.

The plane ride there was utter perfection, and I’m not even being sarcastic.  We planned our flight to be around 9pm and Petra is usually in bed by 8pm so we knew that she was gonna crash AT SOME POINT.  We got to the airport early and even had time to hit up Shake Shack (So much “yes” to Shake Shack for being at the airport) before boarding.  As we ate, Petra played both in her stroller and even on the floor because we were tired and we needed her to be tired. And then we boarded.

We had called ahead of time to make sure that we got a baby bassinet for Petra to sleep in, which actually allowed us to have the seats on the plane with extra legroom at no charge.  As we were taking off, I breastfed Petra to make sure that her ears felt no discomfort but, to be honest, Petra hardly fussed.  I am going to admit here that I was a total anxious mess.  I didn’t know if she would sleep and every little cry she made sent me on a downward mental spiral: “Oh no, its gonna be like this for SEVEN HOURS”. Also unfortunate, Lukasz took most of the hit on that one, trying to be helpful and comforting while I was literally angry at everything.  BUT, once Petra ate and we were steady in the air, I laid her in the bassinet, she yawned fussed for 3 seconds and turned her head…closed her eyes… and she was out for the ENTIRE TRIP. I, on the other hand, woke up every hour to make sure she was okay.  I was super tired when we landed.

So, okay, the way back however… In retrospect, it wasn’t TOO bad. So we booked our flight for 9AM, which meant that we would definitely have her awake for the most part on the plane.  The only thing that was silly is me assuming she would take a nap at some point.  She absolutely did not.  It was probably the longest seven hours ever.  We’re in a small space with so many strangers, we don’t have a stroller to push her around in, she refused to breastfeed and she had the attention span of a goldfish when we waved new toys in front of her.  It could have been better.  I could have not been so nervous the whole time. We could have booked a later flight.




But thats the thing about babies. Sometimes they cry and fuss and all I can say about it is a big thanks to the people on the plane with us who will never read this.  Sometimes they would smile at our daughter while she played gleefully for two seconds and other times they would ignore her cries by pretending to watch TV with earphones in.  But they never complained.  I also want to say that, as a first time mom, I’m getting more comfortable in letting my daughter just “be”.  I used to be the kind of person filled with anxiety the moment she let out a peep while I was walking down the aisles of the grocery store and I would try to quiet her down like I was ashamed that her cried would be disruptive.  She’s just such a good baby… and sometimes she’s going to cry, maybe because her diaper is dirty or she’s hungry or she’s stuck on a tiny plane with a bunch of people and nowhere to go.  So I try not to stress about it.  And actually, when we landed in Warsaw, our neighbor turned to us and told us that we were great parents.  Well gosh, I had never been more proud. πŸ™‚

Xo,

Karen

 

We’re going to Poland!

  

There’s some news we’ve been sitting on for a while that I’m excited to talk about! We’re traveling to Poland in two weeks!

I could not be more excited for this opportunity our little family has stumbled upon.  It will be mine and Petras first trip to Europe and it’s also going to be the first time we meet Lukasz’s side of the family. 

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but it’s definitely an adventure to raise a baby with two different cultures.  I knew that it would be so important to me for Petra to understand her Peruvian heritage and I know it’s even more important to Lukasz for Petra to really understand what Poland is all about.  For me, having been born and raised in the US, the idea of my culture is a little bit ambiguous but for Lukasz, having been born and raised in Poland, the things that are important to him, culturally, are more defined.

Some close friends know but we’re also trying to raise Petra to speak English and Polish as a priority. I speak to Petra in English and Lukasz speaks to Petra in Polish.  It’s an experiement but we hope it’s one we can succeed in.  The idea of our daughter communicating with her fathers side of the family is so important to us. 

So in the next two weeks, we’re trying to get everything ready and I’m so nervous at the idea of traveling on a plane for a long time with an infant.  Our flight to Poland is at night and Petra has been amazing sleeping through the night, only waking once, sometimes twice. I’ll also be keeping breastfeeding as my secret weapon to pacify her.  I’m hoping the flight will be a comfortable one for her. Any tips and suggestions are very VERY welcome. 

Xo,

Karen

Lukasz’s Birthday

Last Thursday, my babe, Lukasz, turned 27.  To celebrate, we decided to leave the city and head up to New Paltz.  It’s the cutest little college town.  It has the small town feel that makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Gilmore Girls! 

Unfortunately, we passed the stop to get to New Paltz and ended up an hour away in Woodstock, NY! Never one to shy away from exploring, we drove around to see what fun stuff we could do.  We found a water reservoir hidden along the road and stopped to explore the forest and do a little photo op with the baby.

I really love how Petra has grown so much in these last few months.  Before, my idea of venturing out with a little munchkin would have me filled with anxiety. Is it safe? Is the bugs? Are there ticks? Will I be able to breastfeed?  Now, she’s just as curious as we are to head out into some unknown, safe in her dads arms.  I love it so much and it makes me excited for the days I can spend with these two, camping and hiking when she’s a little older. 

On our way back, Lukasz stopped at an orchard and grabbed a quick bag of apples and cider.  I forgot how much I love fall here.  The air gets chilly, the leaves change into beautiful warm colors.  It truly is my favorite season.

We also stopped by Lukasz’s family’s house in Jersey. They’re such nice and warm people.  There’s also a lot of polish being spoken which I love exposing Petra to.  They greeted us with delicious dinner and an ice cream cake for Lukasz.  It was a good day.  

I love this handsome and amazing man. Happy birthday, my love. ❀️

Xo, 

Karen