Holidays In Australia Part 4: Forster Beach

What’s a trip to Australia without a proper visit to the beach?!

The final leg of our Australian holiday journey was a trip to Forster, the beach where Chris almost every post-Christmas holiday with his family and two groups of family friends growing up.

But before we headed to the beach, we flew from New Zealand to Sydney and hopped right quick on a train to catch up with the kids in Circular Quay and take some necessary touristy shots of the quintessential Aussie sites:

The cutest twins!
We have a similar photo of these two from our trip back in 2019. Time. Sigh.
Emilia obviously had no idea what she was seeing, but I wanted her to see it, nonetheless.
Just a couple of cuties 😉
Also cute <3
The girls did surprisingly well with all the photo taking, considering ….
Train rides are fun.

I also forgot to mention that while Chris and I were livin’ that kid-free life in New Zealand, the girls did some pretty fun things with their fam back in Sydney, including a visit to the Simbio Wildlife Park where they got to SEE KOALAS AND PET KANGAROOS!

So incredibly grateful to this crew for watching our own little zoo for a couple days, allowing us a very much appreciated solo getaway!
While getting away by ourselves was the main objective of our New Zealand trip, obviously, Chris and I were both so incredibly grateful that the girls got to spend some one-on-one time with this delightful family of theirs that they don’t get to see very much.
They unsurprisingly had a blast, plus …
FED KANGAROOS! An experience that at least Lotte and Grace will, I’m sure, always remember <3

We were also finally able to catch up with Chris’ grandmother — and all of his other family members on his mom’s side — after missing them on Christmas when Nannan got Covid. Thankfully she was doing much better, and getting everyone together before heading off to the beach was absolutely the best.

Absolutely priceless.
The best there is.
The (absolutely incredible) gang <3

We decided to head straight from dinner to Forster to make the most out of our few days left. That meant a three hour drive, but the girls did incredibly well, and Chris and Vince volunteered to take ALL THREE with them so that Cath and I could drive and chat in silence.

I mean, how sweet is that?

We arrived after dark, obviously, but once the morning hit, it wasn’t hard to see why Forster has meant so much Chris and his family. Here’s what we got up to during our few short days there.

Our cute little condo is the same place Chris’ family has been staying for years!
Vacation necessities.
Our girls would have slept in the water if we left them. Other than a few terrifying moments where we lost Grace (which, bright side, afforded us the opportunity to discuss what to do when you get lost!), we had THE BEST TIME at the beach!
Lives here now, thanks.
Beach treasures.
Lotte & Nan <3
They had a blast together in the water!
<3
Chris’ best friend even drove hours from his home to stay at the beach with his own family while we were there. That was so special and sweet!
This was the first time these two had ever had their families together, so that was a lot of fun for us <3
His daughter became fast and adorable friends with Lotte and Grace <3
Too. Stinkin.
We had a cookout on the beach the second night we were there, which is another one of Chris’ families’ traditions.
Another mediocre dining view 😉
Having family around was the. best. Chris’ mom took Lotte and Grace for a walk on our second morning, which gave me and Chris a chance to take a walk with just Grace. It was so delightful.
Walks with Nan.
Morning beach walks for the win!
My cutie.
This little beach “pool” was so great. It was a sectioned-off area of water separate from the actual ocean, which meant there were no waves/riptides contend with. The girls did have fun splashing around in the actual ocean for a bit, but we spent most of our time here, which was a nervous parents dream come true!
Fearless.
So much fun with all these adorable people!
Fun and more fun.
Cute and more cute.
See? Adorable!
That beach life.
Emilia wasn’t totally convinced on this trip that she loves water … but I have faith that she’ll get there!
We ordered fish & chips for dinner and went out for ice cream on our last night, which is also a Connor Clan tradition!
Our last day before heading back to Sydney was cloudy and rainy, but that didn’t stop the girls from a beach trip!
Breakfast at a restaurant on the beach was also a highlight!
Some members from one of the other families that used to vacation with Chris while he was growing up also stopped by for lunch and a beach hang, which was yet another amazing highlight of this trip.
Lots and lots of cousin time was the other major perk. (I have no idea what this is, by the way, but I am HERE FOR IT!)

And that was Forster, friends. It was the most amazing beach time, and I’m so glad we were able to make it work.

Then we were back in the car headed to our final night in Sydney before flying out the following morning.

It’s absolutely impossible to sum up what this trip and all of its parts has meant to us. I have 12,000 photos to relive the memories, of course, but I’m hoping to hold on to the feeling for as long as I possibly can.

All the feels.
The best aunties.
Can you even?
The best Nan & Poppa.

Until next time friends … BIS BALD!

2021: A Year in Review

They can’t all be good photos, right?!

Welp, friends … there goes another year. As the photo above indicates, we’ve had our highs and lows. I think the year didn’t quite pan out the way most of us were hoping it would, but still, there were bright spots to be found.

Here’s hoping 2022 brings you and your family all the happiness and cheer that you deserve! And here’s what we were able to get up to in 2021 …

April

We dusted off our travel boots for the first time in more than a year (!) this past April for a trip to the mountains. We headed to one of our favorite low-key spots — Granby Ranch — and the older girls even tried their hand at skiing for the first time.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lotte, Grace & Emilia cuddled up on our couch in the cabin.
Chris and the big girls posing on frozen Grand Lake.
They look a little weathered here because this was after their lessons … but I HAD to get a pic of the two of them with their adorable little set of skis!
We wrangled the kids to take a quick selfie when we got out on the lake in Grand Lake.

June

By the time June rolled around, Chris and I were fully vaccinated, and we were able to start hosting some of our favorite people at our house again. We also went on a fun mountain/lake hike, Lotte continued her adventures in skiing and started running (well, that was pre-June, but I blogged about it in June!) and we continued to find adventures everywhere we could in the great Colorado outdoors. We also spent Father’s Day in one of Chris’ favorite places.

Grandpa came for his first visit in more than a year!
Lotte started track!
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Me and my JMU girls 😉
We sure do love a good splash pad!
Just a dad and his trio of ladies.

July

The end of June and beginning of July was a busy time for us, as we packed up the car and hit the road for our trip out East! We started in Colorado and made out way out to New Jersey and New York and then back, stopping in a number of states along the way. (You can find all the gritty details here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Cody Park, Nebraska
Cody Park, Nebraska
The Bean in Chicago!
Brigantine Beach, NJ
These cutie cousins <3
With Atlantic City in the background
Staying at a real, working farm in Pennsylvania was … interesting!
One of the best stops on our trip home!
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
entering Colorado on the way home
Colorado State Line

Then, at the end of July, our firstborn turned FIVE!

August

We hosted more of our besties in August, Lotte started kindergarten, Grace returned to preschool and we managed to make it to Frisco for one final summer mountain visit.

Frisco, Colorado
Frisco, Colorado
Em’s first Frisco visit!

September

We hosted one of Chris’ good friends in September, and they hiked a 14er (a tradition they started years ago). We also spent Labor Day at Standley Lake with friends.

Kayaking on Standley Lake
Kayaking on Standley Lake
Standley Lake, Arvada
Standley Lake, Arvada

October

We spent October in our traditionally favorite way … with all the fall activities!

December

As the holidays rolled around, we were really looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with family back in New York. Unfortunately, Covid had different plans for us. Perhaps we’ll have better luck next year. Still, we managed to get a day in Manhattan, and we did get to spend actual Christmas Day with family, which was an upgrade from last year, so we’ll call it a win.

Times Square is never not entertaining!
Grace was very taken with the Rockefeller tree 😉
Snow on Christmas Eve was a perk!
Christmas Day cuties
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

And that’s 2021, my friends. We’re looking forward to a quiet New Years Eve (and wedding anniversary, for myself and Chris <3) and planning for (hopefully) some fun travels to come in the New Year.

But until then … bis bald, friends!

Brigantine Beach and a Big Reunion

A kind stranger offered to take this photo of our whole family after she saw me snapping away, and it’s one of the cutest photos from our trip!

Do you know that amazing feeling you get after you’ve accomplished something that you’ve been planning for a long, long time? And on top of accomplishing it, it actually went well?!

Well that was me and Chris the Friday we arrived in Brigantine!

The beach was about two blocks from our Airbnb in Brigantine, which was amazing since we were eager and tired after our travels!

After our monster road trip across the U.S., we were ready to relax on the beach, eat some good seafood and, more importantly, reunite with some family members that we hadn’t seen since early 2020. It was an emotional trip, to be sure, but I was prepared, and seeing my sister, brother-in-law and niece in person for the first time in 1.5 years was everything I thought it would be and more.

SISTER! YOU’RE ACTUALLY HERE!
Sweetest beach kiddos!
This collapsable Radio Flyer has been amazing ever since we bought, even on the beach. Would highly recommend!
Em was clearly very excited to meet her Aunt Stephie for the first time 😉
Our cute crew. Yes, it took forever for us to all get out the door, but it was very worth it when we finally did.
Steph’s house was close to a beach that had more relaxed waves, and a glorious view of Atlantic City right across the water.
Two men and three ladies.
Grandpa came to visit one day, too!
So naturally we dressed all four girls in matching outfits for a photo opp <3
Cutest cousins!
We had a big ole’ seafood night for dinner the day grandpa came to visit, and it was everything I had dreamed of and more. (Em was thrilled by it, as well !)
Delight!
Rosalie’s love for Em was too much for my heart to handle.
Of course it went by way too quickly, but we managed to make the BEST memories.
Beachcombers … in theory.
Rosalie was just turning one the last time I saw her, and now she is a tiny human, running and talking. Seeing her this way, after so long, was just the best.
We sure do love Aunt Stephie <3
Ladies in yellow.
Don’t ask how long it took to get this picture!
The bunk beds are our Airbnb were a big hit!
These two snuck away one night for some gambling in Atlantic City which, we didn’t realize, was only a few minutes away from Brigantine. They really played up the part, wouldn’t ya say?
Ro and Grace have a dueling Boss Baby thing going on, but at the end of the day, they sure do love each other.
Family <3

Besides the awesomeness of seeing family, this was also our first family trip to the beach since we were in Australia, and Em’s first trip to the beach in general. The two older girls loved it so much, I have a feeling we might need to make regular beach trips a thing in our future, as well.

Always leading the way on adventures.
But really, what’s not to love about the beach?
This one slept most of the time, but when she was awake, she loved to take it all in.
Many-a-shell made it back home with us.
In his element.
Our traditional in-the-air photo with Lotte, the beach version.
Sand castles for the win.
Everything about this one is 100%.
Em wasn’t quite sure how she felt about the actual water, but she was happy to partake from the shore.
My sister and I even managed to get away for a solo lunch, just the two of us. This was my first of many lobster rolls, and it was everything I want in life.
Food just tastes better at the beach, am I right?
Especially ice cream!
And watermelon!
Sweetest little ray of light.

The Details

This was the Airbnb where we stayed which, like I mentioned, was about two blocks from the beach. It had two rooms, and the girls loved staying in bunk beds together. There wasn’t a pack and play, so we did have to bring our own. That was fine, since we were planning on doing that anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are traveling with your own little ones.

Some food spots I would recommend include:

Brigantine Bagels: A MUST for bagels and coffee, if you want my opinion

Laguna Grill & Rum Bar: Steph and I ate here for lunch when we escaped, and it was just the delightful beach scene we were looking for. There were places to eat both inside and outside, live music and lots of delicious seafood to pick from.

Crab Shack Seafood: We picked up the seafood for our seafood night from here — lobster rolls, crab legs, muscles, clams, corn and Caesar salad — and it was all so good!

Aunt B’s: Stop here for ice cream at some point in your trip … it’s delish!

The last time I was in Brigantine I was in high school, and while it was a great trip then, this visit really topped the charts. We stayed until Tuesday, so for three full days, and it was the perfect way to start our whirlwind trip. It was so nice to have some time with just Steph and her family, and to start off with a relaxing (is anything relaxing with kids?) first leg.

And that was our beach trip, friends! Until next time … bis bald!

Our Final Days in Australia

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And so here we are, friends … we’ve arrived at our final two days in Australia. Le sigh.

Our last two days were filled with all the classic Australian activities, including checking out Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then heading out on the Manly Ferry to check out Manly Beach with some family and old friends. Lotte had the best time splashing around in the water with our friends’ son, who is one year older, and we’ve discovered G’s love of fish and chips, as was demonstrated by her eating all of Chris’ aunt’s fish after she woke from a delightful nap by the beach.

Continue reading “Our Final Days in Australia”

A Week of Firsts in New York

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Happy Tuesday, friends!

Lotte and I just flew back yesterday from our quick trip to New York, and as much as we missed dad (sorry Chris!), we had so much fun. Lotte had a ton of firsts (first trip to the beach! first first birthday party!), we celebrated my Uncle’s retirement, we met my sister and bro-in-law’s new puppy, and just pretty much rocked out on our trip together.

Don’t get me wrong … traveling alone with a little one is super hard. The flight? Hard. Doing everything yourself for five days straight? Hard. Ummm … major shout-out to all the single parents out there who do that every. single. day. I honestly am in awe of you.

On that note, I want to publicly thank the staff at Delta for being amazing on our flight out to New York. When the woman giving me bag tags for Lotte’s car seat and stroller saw that I was booked in a middle seat, she moved us so we had a full aisle all to ourselves.

What luxury!

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On the flight, the flight attendants were so super helpful and sweet. They held Lotte for me while I went to the bathroom, gave me free food from the menu you’re supposed to pay for, and were so supportive when I walked her up and down the aisle for about 20 minutes until she fell asleep (for about 40 minutes :/). All-in-all, it was the best flight I’ve had with her so far, and this was Lotte’s fifth time flying. Thanks again, Delta!

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s what we got up to!

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^^ Lotte loved Linus, my sister and Brian’s new pup. He was pretty good with her, too, even though you could tell they both were a little confused about who (and what) exactly the other was 😉

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^^ On Friday my sister took off from work (thanks sis!) and we headed to Rye Beach, which was Lotte’s first beach experience. I would definitely recommend this beach, especially to people with kids. It was clean and had plenty of bathrooms, the water was super calm and it’s near an amusement park as well, if that’s your thing. It does cost a bit to go ($15 to park and $10/person for admittance), but if you stay long enough it’s definitely worth it. At first Lotte wasn’t so sure about the water and kept holding her feet up when I tried to put them in, but she got the hang of it and really loved hanging out under the umbrella. Carla and Fiona met us there and we actually got a good couple of hours out of the babes. I was pretty impressed!

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^^ Saturday was my Uncle’s retirement party, which was a really fun time. They had it at Limoncello’s Restaurant, which always has good food, and we danced and ate cupcakes and had a merry, jolly good time!

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^^ Every single time my grandmother and Lotte get to see each other it’s pretty much my favorite time ever.

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^^ On Sunday Steph and Brian hosted a first birthday bash for little Lotte at their house! We had about 15 people and got lots of delicious food, and my sister ordered the most adorable cakes you’ve ever seen in your entire life. We had a swing and a little pool for the kiddies, and Lotte got some amazing presents. She’s one lucky gal, my daughter is!

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^^ I ordered the sandwiches from Hannaford’s, and we were pleasantly surprised with how tasty and sizable they were. Would definitely recommend!

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^^ My sister’s hydrangea bush is insane, so she brought some inside to decorate. How pretty are these?!

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^^ Lotte sure does love a good splash around!

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^^ These three <3

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^^ Look at this cake! This was Lotte’s “smash” cake, which she was meant to just smash her hands into. At first she wasn’t so sure what to do with it, but once I gave her a taste of frosting with my finger, it was all I could do to stop her from eating the whole thing.

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^^ And these bunnies, which are actually made of cupcakes, were the cutest! Our theme was “Some Bunny Is One,” and Steph smashed is out of the park with her surprise birthday cakes. Love you little sis!

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^^ Facetiming Dad (who couldn’t take time off work for this particular trip) while we sang happy birthday!

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^^ Success!

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^^ Loves everything about it.

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^^ Gift opening wasn’t necessarily Lotte’s favorite part of the party, but it was (one of) mine! Look at this adorable doll my sis and Brian picked up for Steph while they were on their honeymoon in Italy! The. Stinkin’. Cutest. Now I just have to hide it from her so she can’t actually play with it.

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^^ The greatest family who made Lotte’s first first birthday party oh-so-special. I can’t thank you guys enough!

Lotte’s actual birthday is this Thursday, so my dad and stepmom are arriving tonight and my stepdad tomorrow, and we’re basically just going to have a week of Lotte fun time. Because you only turn one once, right?

Bis bald!

Wistful Nostalgia …

Can there be such a thing?

Well guys — Chris and I have been in Denver for about 3 1/2 weeks now, and while I’m not necessarily homesick, I would say I’m feeling a certain wistful nostalgia for all the plans we made last year and all the traveling we did. From South America to Australia to traveling cross-country — along with all the time we spent with my family at home in between — I loved every last second of it, and as Chris and I were just saying: we wouldn’t have changed one damn thing.

So I guess it’s a good thing that I haven’t had time to upload the photos from my camera since right after South America, then, because it afforded me the opportunity to relive November, December and the beginning of January all over again.

And I thought I’d share some of that here … you know, in case you wanted to partake in my wistful nostalgia.

Robert_Birthday^^ A big ole’ plate of ribs for Robert’s birthday. (I refrained, obviously, but I’m told they were delicious.)

_DSC0444^^ This. Face.

_DSC0456^^ This boy loves his trains.

_DSC0463^^ It’s Dad’s job to carve the turkey every year, and he only eats about half of it while he’s doing so 😉

Bryant_Park^^ Chris and I managed to make it back to the city in between hanging with fam, too. We even made to my favorite place in the entire world to ice skate — Bryant Park.

Grand_Central^^ A blurry but still beautiful Grand Central.

Gingerbread_Cookie^^ Mom and I made some gingerbread cookies that, much to my surprise, turned out pretty fabulous!

Connor_Boys^^ These Connor boys … too cute!

_DSC0469^^ Beautiful Sydney in the background.

_DSC0474^^ So grateful for these Sydney friends of ours! (And so excited to meet their little baby, coming in just a few months now!)

_DSC0486^^ Watson’s Bay waves.