Gratitude – Happy Thanksgiving!


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New York City Stepniowski Vacation 2014

DAY 1  – We woke up at 5am to get ready, in the dark!

=====THE PLANE TRIP=====

The plane trip was nice, with no smelly people and the seats were comfy. It was my first plane trip, and we got to sit in the pilot seat for a quick pic! I used my iPod Touch to keep entertained, mostly playing Jet Pack Joyride. When we got to NYC two hours later, we had a crazy taxi driver that was scratching himself and going top speed down the road. And to think we payed him $40 dollars! When we used our credit card, he yelled at us to give him cash. NYC did kind of smell like poop, and it’s really noisy with horn honking and sirens.

=====NEW YORK CITY=====

The first thing we did was go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there, we saw medieval armor and swords going back to B.C! We saw the roman and greek gods in statue form that were kind of inappropriate knowing the romans and greeks… lots of private parts! We went back to the time of kings in France and saw lots of luxury items. My favorite exhibit was the medieval exhibit because of the swords and armory. We had a snack at the café and saw the Egyptian exhibit. Mom liked the modern art, but I didn’t get it. Dad said he remembers going there a lot as a kid.  He loves it!

I noticed there are a lot of street vendors selling food.  We had hot dogs and stale pretzels for lunch.

Afterwards, we went to claim our hotel room at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton in Time.s Square. Very nice, but I did find a roach in the bathroom as soon we got there. Mom hates bugs! We went to dinner at Amarone in Hell’s Kitchen that had terrible overpriced food. I would not recommend it. My mom’s pasta is much better!

That night, we walked around Times Square. There were a lot of ads and people everywhere. We checked out a few stores, but nothing was interesting.

DAY 2 – Woke up to insane bacon fest breakast at the hotel!


My dad and I got dizzy, so we had to go. We did look through the binoculars first and saw the whole city. My mom was right to say NYC is a concrete jungle!


We walked to Grand Central Station.  It had a cool ceiling and lots of stores.  There was even an Apple store! We were going to ride the subway somewhere, but bailed.

=====THE LION KING====

Yes we did! We saw the Lion King on Broadway, and it was amazing! There were lots of effects that made the story come alive! The people put a lot of work into making that show! I would give it a 9 ½ on the scale! My mom loves Broadway.  My dad used to take her to see shows for her birthday.  I saw her tear up a few times! Skye was even good! When we left, there was a naked cowboy strumming his guitar.  My mom said you call that “street performance”.

We ate at John’s Pizzeria that night and thought the food was great! It wasn’t better than my favorite pizza in Tampa, but it was close. It looked like an old church. We think it might even be one!

DAY 3 – Last day and another bacon fest breakfast!


The final morning, we took a trip to Central Park. The park had lots of rocks to climb. We played on the playground and had a ton of fun. We went to FAO Schwarz to look around. We got candy for days!!!!!!! 😀 They even had bacon candy. Mom had to check out the 5th Avenue Apple store next door.

The airport in NYC had broken air conditioning, but I did like the charging stations and tablets they had.  The plane was delayed, but we eventually got home.

NYC was awesome, but there’s no place like home!

Summer is here!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a photographer capture our family… In fact, the last time we had any kind of professional photos taken was when Aidan was two.  Fast forward eight years, and a former student, photographer and good friend of mine offered to capture our “essence” at the USF Botanical Gardens.  I like the botanical garden idea because of the connection with our wedding and bricks in the Buttery Garden that still represent some happy times at Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.

The photos turned out great, and I sincerely think Sha Sha Photo for providing us with memories that will last a lifetime!

Based on how hot it was during this “photo shoot,” I can say summer has arrived.  The kids are out of school once again and savoring all that sleeping in and unrestricted video game time has to offer.  Of course, they are in camps as well.  Sadly, this will be our last few months at Bright Horizons as Skye finishes up her time there before kindergarten starts in August.  For one precious year, both kids will be attending the same school that just happens to be awesome and right around the corner.  I’m expecting good things…  Of course, I will sincerely miss the people at Bright Horizons Hunter’s Green, as they have been a positive part of my daily routine for almost eight years now.

Aidan’s returning to MOSI this summer for some STEM related camps and a canoe camp at Lettuce Lake Park too!  He’s into robotics, gaming design, etc. and of course there’s plenty of Minecraft in there too.  He’s not so happy about it, but I did ask him to set some goals for Code Academy for the summer so I can keep him learning.  Skye is taking swim classes and loves to work on craft projects, writing and coloring.  She’s our little “pop star,” as she so duly noted during her recent VPK graduation ceremony.

The highlight of the summer will have to be the New York trip I finally sold Luke on.  Some of my fondest memories include us flying up there in summer to catch a Broadway show for my birthday.  This year, we’ll celebrate mine and Aidan’s birthdays with a few days in the Big Apple catching The Lion King and visiting The Met.  It will be the kids’ first ride on an airplane, and it makes us feel much less guilty planning a ski trip without them in early 2015.

All in all, life is good… Really good.


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Spring Break Awesomeness

Although we didn’t go into Spring Break this year with too much planned, I’m going to go ahead and say it was one of the best yet.

We kicked things off with a little road trip to Kennedy Space Center… The kids enjoyed it more than I thought, and I’ll go ahead and sell Luke out by saying I busted him getting all teary eyed during more than one attraction.  I’ll admit that I did too, but seeing all of that human achievement and the possibilities of what may be are just overwhelming. It’s an amazing place to visit!

Aidan spent the week at a MOSI camp and had a blast!  They played Manhunt and Capture the Flag in the woods and even had time for Minecraft. He was genuinely having a great time.  Skye was at Bright Horizons, but took a break from the regular VPK schedule and had some fun coloring Frozen pages with her friends all week and dancing to the soundtrack. 🙂

There was a pizza party, a day trip to Ybor for lunch at Columbia and some ticket craziness at Game Stop… There was even a movie or two in there as well. The week was pretty action packed!

The pièce de résistance was certainly the spontaneous idea that Luke came up with. He suggested we load up the Forester with as much stuff as we could fit and head to Ft. Desoto for a night of camping on the beach.  Off we went… From my tent, I slept with Skye cuddled up next to me as I listened to the rustling ocean breeze off the mangroves and enjoyed a front row seat to the full moon.  It was kind of magical.  Raccoons stole our food and stuff too… So, there was no lack of adventure either.

Oh, and I did get a full day off with Luke that included lunch at my new favorite spot for fare, Edison.  How unfortunate that we forgot the gift certificate we meant to use.  Now we’ll have to go back.

Spring Break 2014… Memories were made!

photo (2)

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Shame on us… Season’s Greetings & Happy New Year!

I just realized that my last post was in November… No holiday greeting or Happy New Year salutation… How shameful?!

Honestly, life is just busy.  But, it doesn’t mean we don’t love our friends and family that check out the site to see what we’re up to.  In fact, it’s true that you make time for what’s important.  So, regardless how crazy schedules are, we do still keep in touch.

Although it’s a little late, Season’s Greetings & Happy New Year!  If you think about Chinese New Year, it’s even less belated.

What are we up to? Same stuff… Aidan is pretty much a smaller version of Luke, and he’s getting just so tall these days! He’s doing great in school and lives for stuff like Minecraft and Scratch.  I still “encourage” him to do chess and run club, but his passion is definitely somewhere in a computer or in building stuff.  We’re in the second round of the FLL LEGO League after suffering a loss at the first event. But, even I learned a little something about good sportsmanship I like to think… LEGO Masterz FTW in 2014!

Skye is quite the doppelganger of myself, which poses its own challenges but also never fails to make me smile.  She’s in love with VPK and starts kindergarten in a few months.  She lives for time with her friends and really does make you feel all warm and fuzzy when she cuddles with you, if you’re so lucky.  Her favorite movie is Frozen, which we sing the songs to daily and watch often.  It reminds me of Cars with Aidan, although Skye has much, much more flair.

Luke and I… Same jobs and such… Living the dream, but I say that and mean it with every core of my being.  Life is good!

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Thanksgiving 2013

The Stepniowski family has enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled Thanksgiving holiday this year as both Luke and Aidan were off for the week.  We traveled far and wide over to Pinellas county where we walked along the beach, had a picnic and explored Fort Desoto.  We had some culinary adventure as we journeyed over to the other side of Tampa for California Tacos… Totally worth it! The kids even got to sleepover with the grandparents twice, which is fun for all!

For Thanksgiving, we hosted a delicious meal that everyone enjoyed.  From the stuffing and pierogies I love so much, to the juicy turkey Luke hooked up, it was a great day!

This weekend, we’re committed to getting a Christmas tree setup and then it’s back to the daily grind for a few weeks until the next holiday! <3


From left: Grandma Barbara, Papa, Grandma Greta, Garry, Me and in the front is Luke, Aidan & Skye

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Spooky Time

This Halloween, Aidan decided to be a ninja and participated in the Pride Prowl at school.  Skye chose to be a Barbie skeleton (complete with matching Barbie).  At Bright Horizons, Skye’s VPK class performed Spooky Time…

Presenting Skye as “the ghost”:


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Road Trip 2013 – Smoky Mountains

The last week of summer is among us, and we’ve just returned from our semi-annual trek to the Smoky Mountains.  

Instead of making a pit-stop in Atlanta again, we decided to bust it straight through to Wears Valley, TN where we rented a cabin. We like Wears Valley because it avoids all of the touristy stuff indicative of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  Also, it has incredibly convenient access to the National Park.  We usually spend most of our time there.  Just driving through, hearing the sounds and smelling the fresh mountain air is enough for a mental reboot.

The kids were immediately excited when we arrived and they saw the cabin.  Aidan was especially excited because of the game room and theater in the basement, although the area didn’t get as much use as I thought.

Throughout the week, we had an opportunity to picnic, grill-out, hike and swim.  We even ventured over to Forbidden Caverns for a cheesy, but very cool (both literally and aesthetically) tour underground.

Luke also discovered a roller coaster on the side of the mountain and decided it was a must-do activity.  It turns out the Alpine Coaster had only been open three days… Needless to say, Aidan was persuaded by a monetary contribution and Skye did it a few days later for a t-shirt and grape soda.  They all highly recommend it and did it four times overall.

We were especially surprised by Skye’s ability to withstand hiking.  She made it 2.6 miles to see Laurel Falls, hiked some of the Appalachian Trail in the rain and even climbed to the highest peak at Clingman’s Dome.  I barely made that one!

One of our favorite things to do in the park is the auto tour through Cades Cove.  This eleven mile loop is our opportunity for wildlife spotting, usually allocating one point per mammal spotted to the first person to call it.  No one ever keeps track of the points and Skye is always trying to subjectively revise the values, but it’s still a hoot. This time, we spotted several deer and a bear asleep in the tree.  We actually saw a momma bear and three cubs on the hike to Laurel Falls too.  I won’t even include the gigantic spider that almost ate me alive in the river.

The kids both enjoyed swimming, so much so that we did that twice.  The water was too cold for Luke and me, but it didn’t stop Aidan and Skye.

We posted the photos here.  Good times… Always.

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