Happy Monday, friends! We spent the weekend in the Albany area for my cousin’s wedding, and it was, without a doubt, the most gorgeous wedding I have ever attended. The M&D Farm describes itself as a rustic chic farm for barn and garden weddings, and every one of those words describes the exact atmosphere of Alyssa’s stunning day. Although it poured right before the ceremony and they had to move that part inside, the rain stopped just in time for cocktail hour and for the rest of the night, so we could wander around and check out the grounds. We also rented a house in a town near the ceremony that had a pool and lake and lots of land for the girls to run around on, so all-in-all it was a pretty successful and fun weekend.
^^ My cousin also invited us to the rehearsal dinner Friday night, which was at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Albany. My scallops were so tasty and, as an added bonus, it was nice to be out without the girls for a night (and then a second night on Saturday for the wedding) 😉
^^ Look at this gorgeous couple <3
^^ We stopped at the cutest little diner for breakfast on the way out of town on Sunday.
And that was our wedding weekend in a nutshell, friends. I have to throw in some photos of the little outing my sister put together for Lotte last Thursday to celebrate her birthday — we did Build-a-Bear (how cute is it there?!) and then went bowling for the first time with the girls. G was upset she couldn’t pick up every single heavy ball she saw, but Lotte really had a ton of fun, including all the fried food and ice cream that came with it 😉
And that brings us to the end of our trip, friends. As you read this, we are probably on our flight back to Denver. We have been in New York for 13 days, and to be honest, I’m ready to get back to my own bed and our normal routine and all that jazz. I’m so glad we were able to make this trip happen, though, and I will have these memories — so many memories — to tide me over for a long time to come.
That and the fact that my sister and brother-in-law and niece baby will be out to see us in a couple weeks, too 😉
Happy Thursday, friends! Our New York adventures continued yesterday with a trip into the Big Apple. Lotte had been once before when she was about four months old, but this was Grace’s first time, and I think we packed in just about as much fun as a 3-year-old and 19-month-old can handle for a day 😉 My stepdad drove in with us, which was lovely, and we met Chris in the UES, since he was coming back from a work trip in San Francisco on the red eye.
I ditched the family for a little bit to grab coffee with an old magazine editor of mine near the park, but Lotte and G continued their adventures with Dad and Grandpa, checking out and riding the Central Park Carousel, seeing the Bethesda Fountain and the John Lennon Imagine memorial, as well as taking in all of the performers (they were particular enthralled by a bubble artist!).
After a full morning we headed over to the Central Park Zoo. I had been to the zoo a couple times before, but this was my first time checking out the adjacent Tisch Children’s Zoo, which was so adorable. There were a ton of animals the kids could feed and touch, as well as a bunch of mazes and climbing structures for them to get their wiggles out.
Even after all of that, perhaps my favorite part of the day was bringing the girls to check out our actual old neighborhood. We stopped by our old stoop to take a family photo, and even grabbed lunch at our old neighborhood pizza joint, the best there is, Zesty’s. As if my heart hadn’t had enough for the day, the guys who work behind the counter even remembered us from back in the day.
Le sigh. Oh, New York. You will always have a piece of my heart.
And that was our jam-packed city day, friends! I hope you’re all braving this weather (it was stinkin’ hot in the city yesterday!) and having the best summers. We’re off to Albany tomorrow for my cousin’s wedding, and I can’t wait. The farmhouse we rented has a pool and a lake and tons of space for the girls to run around and play – it should be a good time.
Happy Tuesday, friends! We’re still here in New York, where we’ve been since last Wednesday, and we have done all. of. the. things.
We flew in. Rented our car. Drove to Liberty State Park. Spent one night at my sister’s before driving to stay with my friend at her place in Woodstock. Threw Lotte a third birthday party. Drove back to my sister’s. Visited my grandmother in the hospital. Took family photos at an amazing sunflower farm near my sister’s house and, today, I babysat all three babes while my sister, Brian and Chris worked.
And we aren’t even halfway through! Tomorrow we’re off to New York City with the girls, then Thursday is a birthday extravaganza for Lotte that my sister has planned, and then Friday we’re off to Albany for my cousin’s wedding festivities. The girls are having just about the best time they could possibly have and I, while exhausted, am, too 😉
Bis bald, friends! Please enjoy our vacation so far, courtesy of the 7,000 photos I’ve taken 😉
^^ Liberty State Park is our new favorite tradition. This was the second time we’ve stopped there on our way from Newark to my sister’s place, and both times it’s been just the most glorious. The girls can run around and get their kicks out, and the views cannot be beat.
^^ Selfies with tired children who haven’t napped all day and only want to play on the amazing playground that’s so close!
^^ My niece … aka the real reason we come 😉
^^ Lotte slept every nap and every night in the tent in my friend’s basement in her Woodstock home, and I think it will forever be her favorite memory.
^^ Glorious views from Carla’s backyard.
^^ MY BABY IS THREE!!! I am still in denial, but in the meantime, we threw her a space-themed shindig, complete with a dad-created rocketship cake (which Lotte said was her favorite part of the whole party), tons of friends and family, a space tent, a ball pit, a splash pad and a blow-up slide/pool, plus Dippin’ Dots, my friends! Who even knew you could order Dippin’ Dots?! I do now 😉 They were the hit of the party, for sure.
Happy Thursday, friends! So my research for a fun new client continued today with a visit by myself and the girls to Lair o’ the Bear Park. We had actually tried to do this hike a couple months back, but by the time we got there, the parking lot was completely full and there were tons of cars waiting, and with two antsy little girls in the back seat, it didn’t make sense to wait it out.
Today, I had a plan.
Besides the fact that it was a Thursday morning and not a weekend, I also had lunches done and the car packed before the girls even finished breakfast, so that we could be out the door in no time. We actually made it to the parking lot at about 8:45 a.m., and it was only about half full. Besides getting a parking spot (under a shaded tree, no less), today tapped out at 97 degrees (seriously, it felt gross just typing that), so I wanted to make sure our hike was done well before the real heat started.
Anyway, the hike — it is beyond amazing. I had the double stroller with me and although there were a couple spots where I struggled over bumps, for the most part it was easy. It was totally flat, and mostly along a babbling creek, which was so serene. Plus, at certain points, Lotte could go down into the creek and dip her feet in. There was a big tree to climb, a “tunnel” that was actually an old water well building that the girls were obsessed with, tons of spots to eat outside (which of course we did), and lots of additional activity to take in, like mountain bikers and fly fishers. It was just such a great day, topped off with ice cream from The Cow Eatery in Morrison on our way back home.
I mean, is there anything better than a picnic by the lake after playing in a new park … like, at all?!
I’m doing some research for some stories I’m working on and it’s just been the most fun, because it’s been bringing me all around to new places the girls and I haven’t been. I do feel a little worried when Lotte wakes up in the morning and is like, “Where are we going today?!” I love that she’s excited, but also … like, it’s okay to hang at home sometimes, too 😉
Anyway, I guess we’ll leave the hanging at home for bad-weather and winter days. For now, there’s much to explore. Yesterday it just happened to be Washington Park (which somehow I had managed to never visit in my 4.5 years of living here). We tested out their playground and sandpit (amazing) and had lunch by the lake.
It was a glorious Monday, friends, and I wish they all could be like this.
Bis bald, friends — I hope you are all having amazing summers, as well!
As part of my continued effort to keep these kids of mine occupied and busy during this summer (and, in all honesty, to keep myself from going bonkers as well), we hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens — and more specifically the adorable and amazing Mordecai Children’s Garden — yesterday. There were plants galore — that they could actually touch and smell — and a sand box and a bubbling brook and multiple ecosystems. The girls had a blast getting as dirty and wet as possible, and I had a blast watching them. I had packed us a lunch as well, which we ate over in the “adult” side of the gardens, which I will from now on be referring to the main gardens as.
If you happen to be in the Denver area over the summer and you’re looking for some outdoor fun to be had with your kids, you really should check out the Mordecai Children’s Garden. Kids under three are free, too, which means I’ll be taking Lotte there again at least one more time in the next few weeks so we can get her in for free at least one final time.
Here’s what we got up to at the gardens …
Following the flowers is never a bad idea, in my opinion, friends 😉
I have a secret to share, friends … I’ve never really been a huge fan of summer.
There, I said it. Anyone who actually knows me is rolling their eyes right now and thinking, “Duh, who doesn’t know that?” but to others, this might come as a surprise. As a curly headed woman who didn’t grow up near water but did grow up in a home without air conditioning for the longest time, the only things I had to look forward to when the weather got warmer was frizzy hair (okay, I admit, that was a year-round problem) and just the most awful humidity. These days, though, I’m making a concerted effort to change my ways … for the girls.
You see, kids love summer. And what’s NOT to love about summer when you’re a kid? All they know is that they get to be outside all the dang time and they couldn’t care less about sweat. Or frizzy hair. Or sticky bodies. Or anything else that adults (just me?) care about. The interesting thing, though, is that in trying to shift my mindset, a funny thing has happened … I’ve shifted my mindset! I mean … summer can be GREAT! If you forget about all those things I already mentioned (and insects, and bees, and thunderstorms, and … okay, I’m running away with it again ….) then summer really is great!
So here’s to making the most of things for those you love, even if they aren’t really and truly your favorite things to begin with. Here are a few ways we’ve been really trying to get into the spirit of the season…
^^ The Ralston Central Park and Splash Pad are an absolute must when the temps soar. Get there as soon as they turn on (around 10 a.m. most days) so you can beat the crowds (sort of) and avoid the hottest part of the day.
^^ The Denver Children’s Museum has tons of stuff to see and do inside, but their outside area — including this sand pit — is a big draw for my girls, as well.
^^ I have to give a major shout-out to Chris, who has put so much effort and love and care into our own backyard, that most days the girls don’t even want to leave the house (which is always, always fine by me!).
^^ We are just the luckiest to have Standley Lake Regional Park basically in our backyard. The lake is gorgeous to check out even if that’s all you do, and the prairie dogs will keep the kids entertained for hours. There’s also the bald eagle sanctuary, tipi rentals for camping and canoes and kayaks that you can rent by the hour.
^^ We took the little ladies for a canoe ride over July 4th weekend, and it was glorious. It was Lotte’s third time, but G’s first, and she actually held in there for longer than I expected!
^^ Breweries in the area offer plenty for kids to do these days as well, like run in laps (Oh, that’s just my children? Okay, then.), check out the dogs, and lots of them even have games. The one in the photo above is New Terrain Brewing Company, but really, they’re all pretty kid friendly.
^^ Lotte takes swim lessons on Saturday mornings at the Apex Center, and this past weekend G and I joined in for a swim in their amazing indoor water park area. They have an outdoor splash pad area, as well.
^^ We’re members and regulars at the Denver Children’s Museum, but up until this summer I never felt like we’d get a lot out of a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Lotte’s latest obsession with planets and space and space travel, however, meant that a visit to the museum’s space section (and corresponding planetarium Sesame Street show) was a big hit!
^^ Lotte in her “spacesuit,” (aka my tea towel), which she insisted on bringing to the museum. I cannot get enough of this age.
^^ After the museum, we had a picnic at Denver’s City Park and let the kids run around. This is such an amazing area because the museum, a splash pad, the zoo, a bunch of playgrounds and the lake (where you can rent pedal boats) are all right there.
^^ I swear there is nothing this kid loves more than eating outside 😉
And those have been my brazen attempts at embracing this season so far, my friends. I know summer technically just began at the end of June, but really, once July is over, isn’t everyone already looking forward to fall?
Oh, that’s just me, too? Okay, then.
Well, for now I’ll keep plugging along, making the most of this sweltering season, as long as it makes my littles happy <3 Bis bald, friends — I hope you all had amazing July 4th holidays!
I mean … G is barely even in this photo, but you get the gist — Colorado is amazing in the summer, and summer is right around the corner! I mean, it’s pretty amazing all of the time, but the summer is a great time to check out the mountains, lakes, hikes, breweries … and everything in between.
To help you out if you happen to be in the hood, here are a few of our fave hangouts when the weather gets warmer:
Ice cream at Little Man: Getting your first ice cream of the summer at Little Man is almost more about the experience itself than the ice cream … although the ice cream is pretty darn fantastic, as well. Lotte had her first taste of ice cream here, and it was one of the first spots we visited when we were testing the area out to see if we actually wanted to move here. If you can rent a bike and stop here on your way to touring other spots of Denver, you’ll make the whole experience even more quintessentially Denver-esque.
Every single thing Golden related: Check out the quaint old Main Street, grab a beer at Golden City Brewery, tour Coors Brewery, drive up the scenic overlook pass and take a peek at Buffalo Bill’s grave … all in gorgeous Golden.
Check out a 14er: Okay, okay, to be fair I’ve only actually done one 14er, and it was a drive-up one, but still, it was glorious and I would highly recommend it! The mountain was Pikes Peak, and it was well worth the altitude.
Head to a National Park: The National Parks in Colorado are not to be missed, even if they may be a bit off the beaten path. Be sure to check out Rocky Mountain National Park (which is easily combined with a trip to Boulder), and if you have time/happen to be in the area, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a place you won’t want to miss.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Find the rock formations: By which, of course, I mean visit Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks, two must-not-be-missed spots in this great state called Colorado. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a concert at Red Rocks and/or get to take a morning yoga class. Both are pure magic.
Besides those big-ticket items, there are unlimited places to find great brews and get great food. Living in Colorado has been such an adventure, and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing things we’ve been able to see and do. So, without further adieu ‚ bis bald, friends — and I hope you all have a fantastic summer ahead!
Happy Tuesday, friends — and a very happy belated Dad’s day to all the amazing dads, grandfathers, brothers, and male caregivers out there in the world, doing what they do best.
This man above — my husband — has given me the two ultimate joys in my life, my babies. I’m grateful every day for his passion, compassion, sincerity, sensitivity and contagious love of life. These girls are lucky to call him dad.
Happy new week, friends! I just returned from a wonderful press trip to Massanutten Resort in Virginia, which is about a 20 minute drive from where I went to college at James Madison. This trip was so much fun, not only because the resort itself is full of any and every activity you could ever want (more on that later), but also because I got to meet up with my dearest girlie bestie for it, and we were able to take a pit stop at JMU on the way to Massanutten, as well. Top on our list of places to hit for our quick college reunion were our old Mexican food fave, El Charro, as well as ice cream at Kline’s and a quick walk by the quad to visit the James Madison statue and the offices of our old college paper, The Breeze. Lisa and I could not stop talking about how our love for journalism began in those tiny Breeze offices … as well as our love for each other 😉
^^ This campus sure is glorious. I’m just sayin’, if either of my girls wanted to go to school here, I wouldn’t be too sad …
After our JMU visit it was on to Massanutten, where we were lucky enough to be put up in a Regal Vistas townhome for our three-night stay. The homes were so quaint and cozy, with electric garages, porches, full kitchens, fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs (you know I was all up in that), and a private pool and fitness center just for Regal Vistas guests.
We had quite the packed itinerary for this trip that included all the adventure you could want, topped off with a Signature Massage at their spa on Saturday before heading back to the airport.
I’ll get more into the amazing food and activities in a sec, but first I want to say a little something about Massanutten in general. I live in Colorado where the mountains are a plenty, right? But here’s thing thing — Colorado is an arid, desert climate, and the mountains, while glorious, sure, are rarely green.
Massanutten, however …. well it doesn’t get more gloriously green than those Massanutten mountains. Plus they aren’t as high as Colorado, so altitude wasn’t really an issue for me, either. The whole week just felt like the perfect mix of outdoor adventure and nature coupled with challenging activities, as well as the opportunity for relaxing respites and catch-ups with Lisa.
What I’m essentially saying is, I’m so sad I never knew this little oasis was only 20 minutes away when I went to school at JMU. They’ve actually added a lot on since I graduated, though, and the resort staff should be super proud of what they bring to the area, which includes:
^^ Amazing meals. During our stay we ate at Campfire Grill and Virginia BBQ & Pizza Co., as well as had a barbecue prepared for us by the chef and staff and had a private dinner with wine/beer/liquor pairings on our final night. The ceviche on our final night was probably my favorite seafood dish I’ve had in a long time, but really, everything was stellar.
^^ All the adventure. Our Thursday started with a trip to the Family Adventure Park right down the road, where we went summer tubing down the mountain, climbed rock walls and took a chance on the Mega Zip line. It was the. most. fun.
Our afternoon on Thursday consisted of a tour of some of the newly renovated facilities in other parts of the resort, as well as a trip up the mountain to see the views and mine and Lisa’s first ever experience with an escape room and virtual reality games (again … so. much. fun!) at Real Escapes, followed by ice cream at Fun Factory next door.
To be honest, Lisa and I didn’t really know we would be mountain biking when we went in for the activity. We were originally mean to be trying out their new e-bikes, but when one got a flat tire we were happy to use regular bikes. It didn’t occur to us that the regular bikes were mountain bikes and that we would be mountain biking up and down a hill.
But you know what … we ROCKED that mountain biking! It was definitely a little scary at first, but I gotta say, once you get the hang of it, I could totally see how that activity would be addicting.