Through my dreamy job I was able to travel to many amazing places this fall, recruiting prospective law students. For those of you keeping count I traveled to twelve cities in seven states (including one Canadian province) in the past twenty-eight days. To say I'm happy to be home for good and out of suitcases is an understatement.
For as long as I can remember I've wanted to go to New York City. Food, culture, and live theater; what's not to love? When we traveled to some amazing European cities while Josh studied abroad last fall semester I felt like I was cheating on New York. What kind of American stands atop (that preposition's for you Nate) the Eiffel Tower before the Empire State building? It just seemed out of order somehow. A few weeks ago my life was put back on track when I finally visited New York City! Josh took a few days off work and accompanied me.
Despite United's best efforts to prevent it, we arrived just in time to see our first Broadway musical, Once. It was superb. We were zonked from a 3:30 wake up to make our flight and a long day at O'Hare, but there was no falling asleep through the Irish rhythms and phenomenal voices in the performance.
Levy (Ava's nickname for Levin, for pronunciation help just sing "Bye bye, Miss American Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry")kicked and danced throughout the musical. Since then we've purchased the soundtrack and he still reacts the same way. When Ava was tiny and fussy she could always be calmed by The Sound of Music soundtrack. I'm thinking we may have found Levin's chill out album, although I'll have to brush up on my Czech to sing along with some of the songs.
We had a few NYC bucket list items that we were able to fit in around my work schedule. Josh was so patient to help me find Mood, the fabric store frequented by the contestants on Project Runway.
For my fellow PR fans, we saw Swatch in the store and out for a walk. So fun!
Pretending to be a frantic fashion designer, obviously.
For you Hannah
The Empire State Building was impressive, though not quite Eiffel-Tower-at-night-twinkling-magical.
Ever since I saw this piece on the Martha Stewart show two years ago I've been dreaming of visiting Eataly in New York City. (Take a minute and watch the video, it's unbelievable.) For those of you who are too busy to watch the video, Eataly is an amazing all-Italian supermarket.
Even the butcher area was gorgeous and artistic
Watching them make fresh mozzarella
And roll out fresh pasta
There are several restaurants throughout the market, so of course we had to stop for lunch.
We split the most delectable minestrone.
Josh ordered Gnocchi alla Romana and I had Cannelloni - one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten. Allow me to toot my own horn a bit: I studied the tastes, flavors, and textures during my meal and have been able to recreate the cannelloni at home. Even Josh agrees it's almost identical to what we ate that day. Best souvenir ever and it was free!
Of course we had to visit the original Macy's.
It was charming. My favorite part: wooden escalators.
Mimi and Coach were so kind to spend time with Ava in Norman while we were in New York. They picnicked, watched the OU band practice, ate yummy food, decorated the house for Halloween, and went to the children's museum. Ava found the fetal development display and had to have a picture holding a baby about the size of Levin at that time. Precious, huh?
Meanwhile back in New York, Josh and I were at FAO Schwarz. Here's Josh with the Lego Statue of Liberty.
Of course I had to pick up a few things for our newly discovered son. I definitely had a pregnancy meltdown at the sight of these tiny boy clothes. Josh's response at my burst of tears, "I guess we're buying these?" Um yes, exactly.
We made it to Battery Park just in time to see the dark Statue of Liberty at sunset. Not the greatest picture, but a perfect memory.
We had to pop our heads into Grand Central Station while we were in that part of town.
A shot from outside
After a few failed attempts to score Book of Mormon tickets via lottery, we weren't very hopeful about our chances of rush tickets to Grace.
Boardwalk Empire and Revolutionary Road
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Elf, and Up
Cider House Rules, Romeo + Juliet, and Mike from Friends
Even though smoked salmon is technically a no-no when pregnant, I could not go to NYC and not try bagels and lox. It was so worth it, delicious. And we're all healthy and doing just fine.
What work on the road looks like:
We also had to try Black & White cookies from Greenberg's. Don't worry, we bought a third one to take home to Ava James.
We strolled through Central Park on our way back from the bakery, stopping along the way for pictures and a cookie break.
Early the next morning Josh and I parted ways at La Guardia as he headed home to Norman and I flew to Denver to continue recruiting (another United nightmare ensued for Josh, bless his heart. Moral of my fall: DON'T FLY UNITED!).
The Rockies were just as beautiful as I remembered from our last visit.
I was thrilled to spend a few minutes with Nathan, now living in Denver, at the airport. He was returning from a visit to Texas and happened to land about an hour before my flight from Denver to Salt Lake. I love my little brother!
After being on Eastern time for five days and then flying to Mountain time for four more, this site was even more beautiful than the mountains.
I arrived in Utah at night, so I was awestruck by this sunrise out my hotel window the next morning.
Utah absolutely took my breath away.
Recruiting among the turning Aspens
The best thing about being on the road with law school admissions folk is that we're all friends. It doesn't matter if your schools are similar, if you're in the region, or if you're new to the scene; we all look out for one another. A group of us went together to tour the temple grounds in Salt Lake City.
We watched a storm roll in across the mountains from the top of the conference center. We all had a good laugh because in our little group of recruiters touring we had one Mormon, two Baptists, one Catholic, and one Jew - we were the opening line of a joke just waiting on a punchline.
Does it get more beautiful than this?
The next day we drove to Provo to recruit at BYU. Did you know they have their own creamery? Levy did a happy dance at first taste of their chocolate milk.
From campus looking up to the mountains
A few of us who didn't have to fly out until the next morning took a scenic drive up into Park City. We oohed and ahhed over the views on the way there and then soaked up the cute of the quaint shops. Mountain air and shopping, it does a body good.
Was I ever happy to get home to these baby blues!
A couple of days back at work before I hit the road again. On one of the afternoons they were painting in the office so my fellow preggo and I worked from a local coffee shop instead.
People have started gifting things for Levin! I just sit and stare at the sweet little reminders of our boy on the way.
My gifted Coach diaper bag!
The other night I had a horrible nightmare (that Josh had enlisted and was being deployed but didn't tell me until the second he was leaving, and Ava was in the bathtub and I was trying to dry her off and he just left - I know, pregnancy hormones gone wild, but it seemed SO real) and it kickstarted a very emotional day for me. Even before I brushed my teeth that morning I just wanted chips and salsa and to cry. Well, the crying wasn't difficult to accomplish but I was busy and the chips and salsa didn't happen. Levin was super still all day, which just added to my stress level. I was sitting on the couch sniffling, trying to make do with some stale tortilla chips and makeshift salsa when Josh walked in the door with my favorite chips and salsa in town. Tears slowly subsided, craving was met, and guess who started moving all around? I should have listened to Levin and had chips and salsa for breakfast.
The night before my last recruiting trip OWC hosted its annual Fall Festival. It was a chili-filled, delicious dessert, pumpkin carving, trunk or treat delight. Always one of my favorite nights of the year.
Early morning flights are no fun except for the sunrises
My last recruit event was in Tornto, Ontario. My hotel was great, and my room had a wonderful view.
I had to crack up laughing when I rounded a corner on my afternoon exploring and saw this:
I wish I'd had more time and family with me on my trip to Toronto. I found some great food, no thanks to Levin who wanted hamburgers and root beer the whole trip. The city sits right on Lake Ontario and is about an hour from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Hopefully we'll go back someday and have more time to explore. I was ecstatic to find a Swiss-themed market complete with chocolate-filled croissants!
My familiar view this fall, one last time:
When I returned Ava was excited to spend some time with me and with Levin. She put her cold little hand on my bare belly and he kicked her really hard. She squealed and immediately starting talking to him like he was sitting next to her on the couch. These two already have such a sweet bond. Whenever I pick her up from school and she starts talking and singing about her day he goes absolutely crazy. I can't wait to watch their relationship continue to develop outside the womb.
For weeks Ava has been talking about wanting a "snow hat with a poof on top" for this winter. While I was in Canada I found this adorable one and had to bring it home to her. She insisted on wearing it to a chilly Monday morning at kindergarten. I'm so happy to be home to my sweet girl for good.
I am thankful to so many people for making this busy fall possible. Josh has been an amazing single dad, grandparents have come to stay and encouraged by phone, friends have helped pickup and juggle schedules, and Ava's teachers have texted me pictures of happenings in her classroom.
Last night I was thinking about my two journeys into brand new jobs and how I've had a sweet little one to keep me company during both. I found out I was expecting Ava the summer before my first year of teaching. As daunting as that first year was, feeling her wiggling about and hiccuping throughout my days really helped put the job into perspective. I was never totally alone. I found out I was expecting Levin a couple of months before my big travel season. I'm so lucky to have had these two kiddos to keep me company in nervous new places. I hope I can always be the positive, anchoring presence in their lives that they've been to me. I love my babies.