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Four years ago we largely stopped buying Christmas gifts for our teenage boys. Instead we book a trip every year over February break and we get them outside of their comfort zone and out into the world. Bob and I passionately believe that travel is the greatest gift we can give our children, especially over fancy electronics or gaming systems that outdate quickly and end up being worthless for all the money they cost. (Been there, done that.) Today I’m sharing a few photos from our recent Vermont vacation where we stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb and spent a cozy few days playing board games and exploring.

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With a toddler in the house who now goes to pre-school every day, we had the fun opportunity to take a little extra family time over the long Columbus Day weekend and visit The Strong National Museum of Play in nearby Rochester. I lived in Rochester during my first couple of years out of graduate school and it’s probably my favorite city in Upstate New York because it is bustling with culture, food, music and art. At nearly three years old, Em was the perfect age for her first visit to The Strong where I can promise you we’ll be returning many times over!

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We’re pretty crazy about where we live in New York. I’ve visited well over 30 states and a couple dozen countries, and I will confidently tell you that New York is one of the most stunning places in the world. We have rolling hills, the most incredible sunsets, huge apple orchards, majestic maple trees, and countless jewel-like lakes sprinkled throughout the state like confetti. We’re the home of two Great Lakes, the Adirondack mountains and the keeper of the Thousand Islands, one of the most astonishingly beautiful places you’ll find the world over.

Read More about A Visit to Burrville Cider Mill + Our Favorite Fall Things in the 1000 Islands

A few weeks ago marked Em’s inaugural plane flight when we flew to Florida to visit her baby cousin Marley. I was a little worried about the trip because our girl (who is now a few months over two years old) is a mover and a shaker. She’s not a big fan of sitting still for any real length of time and she’s known to be a little feisty. (I’m mean, there’s a reason why her nickname is Felicia. Yes, that’s a real thing.) I wasn’t so much worried about the flights themselves as I was about the down time in airports, but the flight time was obviously a concern, too. To prepare for our trip I sent out a blast on my personal Facebook page asking all of my toddler parent friends to serve me up their best tips for traveling with toddlers. Luckily, they delivered en masse. We put a bunch of their tips to the test and overall (despite some serious travel delays), we survived the trip relatively unscathed and feel mostly prepared for our next trip whenever it may be. When we knew we were having a baby, we adopted a “have baby, will travel” policy. Sure, it can be easier said than done, but it’s really important to us that our little sidekick join us on lots of adventures, near and far, so the timing now is perfect to get us all in the swing of things, especially since many of her cousins live out of state. Here are some of the best tips that were shared by friends and what worked for us, including links to some of the best toddler travel gear ever made! (A resounding endorsement if ever there was one.)

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In my ten years of blogging (yes, ten) so much has changed. To be more precise, everything has changed. (I wrote about it last year at greater length if you missed it!) The thing that has stayed consistent though, despite evolving over the years, is the unbelievable sense of community. It’s that community that made me fall in love with reading blogs to begin with and ultimately inspired me to write my first of many thousands of blog posts now a full decade ago. (A decade. Let me catch my breath on that one!) Throughout the years I’ve had the humbling opportunity to be surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world. People I call colleagues, people I, most gratefully, call friends. Last year we made good on our dream of whisking away for a weekend to compare notes, drink wine, cry, complain, joke, eat to excess, take copious Instagram photos and just generally get some face time with one another. Now that we are officially planning our second annual retreat weekend, it dawned on me that maybe it was high past time that I share some of the gorgeous photos of our getaway in Round Top, Texas last summer. It was my first trip to Texas! It was really really hot! Most notably, it was absolutely gorgeous and the little town of Round Top is like no other place I’ve ever visited. Thanks to Jared of Sugar & Cloth for the amazing photos – click through for loads more!

Read More about Our Blogger Retreat in Round Top, Texas

For nearly 10 years now I’ve been obsessed with going to Banff National Park. It’s a dream that both Bob and I share. In fact, we have the ultimate bucket list goal of visiting all of the U.S. National Parks in our lifetime. We’ve visited some individually, but we need to revisit those so that we can hit them all together. (So, why not start by visiting a Canadian National Park, right?!) We skipped a honeymoon when we were married back in October, with the full intentions of doing a belated honeymoon/first anniversary/Bob’s 40th birthday trip this year. Banff it is. (I previously mentioned this trip when sharing my goals for 2018!) This is our total, ultimate bucket list trip. Of all the places we want to experience across the world, Banff has been calling to us for so long. Game on. It’s time. We’re leaving the kids behind and we’re heading off to Banff! We’re still in the planning stages of our trip, which is why I thought it would be fun to share how we’re planning our trip and what we’re taking into consideration as we get ready to book flights and accommodations. Banff is one of those places that people go crazy talking about when it comes up in conversations. If you’ve seen photos of Banff or any of the surrounding lakes, chances are it’s on your bucket list too, so I am going to share our planning process and, of course, loads of photos while we’re there and recapping our trip once we’re home. So, let’s go to Banff!

Read More about Planning Our Bucket List Trip to Banff