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New York + (New) Family


While we were out, Scott and I spent the world’s fastest few days in New York – first in a suburb of the city, then a handful of nights in Manhattan. As it always seems to go, our time there was way, way too short, but it was long enough to give us that much needed break from front-porch-planning, laptops, work talk and baseboards (oh, I cringe!).

My mom lives in a small town about an hour and a half from the city, and for the very first time in my life, I met my 17-year-old half brother – who, by the way, is a pretty amazing kid! The days leading up to our trip, I remember feeling nervous and slightly anxious; I’m going to meet a sibling! I haven’t seen my mom in almost 6 years! Where’s the wine? I need my chill pill. (Ha!)

My parents divorced when I was very young (too young to remember), and I grew up with my dad, step mom (who I called “mom” – she raised me, went to every one of my hockey tournaments and has always been there), and half siblings (who I never viewed as “halves,” so to speak; I changed their diapers and drove them to sports practice!). My birth mom always lived far away – at least a long plane ride – and aside from a few phone calls every year and one visit when I was 10, I never knew her as an adult. To be quite honest, I never gave it much thought until I was in college, a result of my friends questions and curiosity. Growing up, it was something that didn’t cross my mind much; that’s the (weird) truth (I already had a happy family I’d known almost my entire life), but 6 years ago, we reconnected after more than 15 years (!).

It’s funny that until that meeting, I didn’t realize that I really, really missed her being a part of my life. We never discussed the gap in time, and at this point, it doesn’t even matter. (Better late than never, as they say!) I know it might seem strange, but she held and coddled our cats in the same way I do, she ordered the same ice cream that I crave on hot summer days, and she would say a sentence – verbatim – at the exact moment that I did. (Jinx!) She’s an incredibly talented artist, and she walked around our entire condo and commented on each photo, framed print and paint color choice; she loved it all.


Since that visit, we talk on the phone much more, we send cards, and after 6 years of not having seen her, we booked our tickets to a tiny airport in Newburgh, New York, and we met her husband for the first time. We met her son (and my half sibling) for the first time! We slept in, watched movies, barbecued and ate coconut cake. We fell in love with their teeny poodle Biscuit, and I considered stuffing him in my suitcase. (Do you think they’ll notice?, I asked Scott.) As an adult, I finally feel like I know my mom. And for as many things that we have in common, she’ll surprise me with the silly things she says, and the things that worry her. I’ve learned the cadence in her voice, noticed the way she walks, and we filled our bellies on her homemade Korean food.


At the end of our visit, she dropped us off at the bus that would take us into the city. After such a wild range of emotions, it felt a little surreal to say good bye, and she cutely tried to prolong the visit by insisting we stop at the market for fruit and snacks. When I promised her that we would eat lunch after we checked into our hotel, she waited with us until the bus came (we both got teary eyed, of course!), and we were on to the next leg of our trip!

The ride into NYC was nice, since it gave us a little time to decompress, chat about the whirlwind family “meeting” – and what’ll be the first thing we do after dropping our bags? Scott and I have both been to the city previously, but it’s been well over 10 years for each of us (and ironically, we realized that we were both there during the same month, same year – before we knew each other!). We were only in the city for two and a half days, and these walking legs were sore by the time we boarded the plane back home! The sign of a successful vacation, we think.


We walked The High Line, dined off of your feedback and found ourselves in the middle of a dance-party-slash-BBQ-fest. An evening with an old friend had us discovering dinner at the end of an alley, cocktails in a speakeasy and ending the night with big, floppy slices of pizza. The weather was just as temperamental as Chicago, giving us beautiful sun one day and rain and fog the next – it didn’t matter; we soaked in every minute!

And a message to New York and (new) family: we won’t be long.

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  • Stefani6.16.14 - 8:59 AM

    I’ve always loved your photos, Kim, and it’s even more astonishing to me to see my own city through your eyes/lens!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia]6.16.14 - 9:20 AM

    Such a heart-warming post. Are you guys taking another anniversary trip this year?? I always look forward to hearing where you’ll explore (and photograph!) next.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.16.14 - 9:27 AM

      We are! Well, kind of! Our good friends are getting married in San Francisco this fall, so we’re making our annual vacation out of it. Already counting down the days… (And we are REALLY excited about some ideas we have for the 2015 trip!)ReplyCancel

  • What a fantastic trip! Your story about your mom had me a little teary. I’m so happy for you both :)ReplyCancel

  • Renee Gooch6.16.14 - 4:18 PM

    Nice post!ReplyCancel

  • jannike6.16.14 - 5:15 PM

    Great NYC photos. I think I recognized every photo from my NYC days. I see you were hanging in my old hood :)ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci6.16.14 - 5:23 PM

    What a sweet peek into your [non DIY] life. I love when bloggers feel comfortable posting something so personal. Your photos are incredible as always!ReplyCancel

  • Kim6.16.14 - 5:29 PM

    Thank you, ladies!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design6.16.14 - 5:49 PM

    I loved following along what places you ate at in NYC because I also just live an hour and a half from NYC but in the other direction of your mom’s. What an amazing story. I’m so glad you have a relationship with her now and the photos were too cute. Of course I love the poodle.
    When we visited NYC with the kids a while back we went to a Korean place for lunch and it was amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly6.16.14 - 6:15 PM

    Did you guys get the chance to go to the Loving Day celebration while in NYC?!?!?!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.16.14 - 6:24 PM

      No, but that would have been awesome! (We weren’t there this past weekend.)ReplyCancel

  • Tina Slocum6.16.14 - 10:51 PM

    You really do have the best blog in the blogosphere. You are so real. It’s like being there. So happy for your reconnection with your Mother. I met my birthMother after 33 years. One if my birth half sibs and I say the same things etc and our lives have be a mirror of each other. Genetics is wild.

    • Kim6.17.14 - 8:35 AM

      Wow, that’s amazing. You’re not kidding – WILD.ReplyCancel

  • Life on Hill Street6.17.14 - 7:20 AM

    As usual you have stunning pictures, I love the way you capture the vastness of NYC. I’m glad you had a great trip!ReplyCancel

  • Marie6.17.14 - 8:40 AM

    Love your pictures and your personal story, I was really moved reading your post. Thank you for sharing this important part of your life.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn6.17.14 - 9:24 PM

    I love that you were the “K” in the No Parking sign! :)
    Glad you guys had a good time!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi6.18.14 - 8:15 AM

    yes! come back soon so we can hang!ReplyCancel

  • Steph9.14.14 - 4:29 PM

    Great photos! What kind of camera / lens / film did you use?ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.18.14 - 12:35 AM

      Thanks, Steph! I have a super old Nikon D200 that I shoot with, and a lot of these shots were taken with my 50 mm/1.8. I hope to actually upgrade everything soon!ReplyCancel

  • Christina9.30.14 - 11:17 AM

    Wow.. let me just say it is a very small world we live in! I recently discovered your blog and have been playing catch up and reading up like crazy! I love it! So I am just coming across this post… I grew up in Newburgh!! I then moved further upstate to Albany(after college) and now live in Charleston, SC! When you first mentioned that your mom lived in a ‘small town an hour and a half from NYC’ – I was all ‘I wonder if it’s Newburgh??’ It’s just so funny to be reading a blog about a couple who live in Chicago and then bam! Newburgh, NY! Crazy world! Anyway… now that I’ve babbled… I love your blog and I’m so happy to have stumbled upon it! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.30.14 - 11:59 AM

      Aw, thanks, Christina! Small world indeed.ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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