Big Birthday Surprises & Bringing in the Holiday Back in NYC

My sis & I have been keeping a secret …

Hello, friends … welcome to December! With the holiday and the end of the year right around the corner, things are insane! Which is why we were so lucky to get the chance to shoot back to New York one last time to see all our loves.

(Mind you we’ve visited our favorite state quite a bit this year, documented here and here and here and more!).

To start, my sister & I planned a surprise 60th birthday bash for our stepdad, and it was so much fun! He was so surprised!

This motley crew is my absolute fave πŸ˜‰
These little cuties were so excited to surprise grandpa!
We had 40+ friends and fam waiting for him β€” he thought he was just having lunch with us, his immediate family. Quite the reception πŸ˜‰
I love how much time we’ve been able to spend with family this year. It truly means the world.
These cousins will grow up with such a special bond, despite our geographic distance.
The girls got to spend time with family they haven’t seen in so long!
We capped off Gpa’s surprise party day with a big cousin sleepover. So. Much. Fun!
We sure do love our gpa <3

After our day upstate celebrating Grandpa, we spent a quick few hours in NYC on Sunday before flying back that night. We met up with our forever besties, took in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City, and walked the Bryant Park holiday shops in the glorious rain.

It was the girls’ first Rockettes experience, and it did not disappoint! Even Emilia stayed entertained πŸ™‚
I kept looking over at all three girls throughout the show to see their expressions. Absolutely priceless.
My girls are all getting so big, so celebrating these special milestones (and seeing your first Christmas Spectacular in NYC IS a milestone!) with them means so much to me.
Carla and Ryan and Fiona and Jake joined us! We got a amazing view of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree on the way out!
She sure is a beaute!
Pure joy, even in the rain.
Faye & Miles & Stella met up with us at The Perfect Pint after the show!
These two could not be cuter.
Then we walked to Bryant Park in the rain. It was still wonderful.
Bryant Park is one of my all-time favorite places in the city, and especially during the holidays.
Gloomy & gorge.
Thanks for trudging through the rain with me, guys!
The skaters were literally skating through puddles. That’s what I call dedication.
Max Brenner hot chocolate for all!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

And that was our trip, friends. It’s always too short β€” even when we stay for weeks! β€” but always very sweet. Until next time, NY …

Now it’s on to our next adventure … Europe for Christmas in JUST. TWO. WEEKS! We’re meeting Chris’ parents for a winter adventure in Germany, Switzerland and, hopefully, Iceland (if a certain volcano can make up its mind). We are very excited, but also ready to relax for the two weeks until then.

Until those updates … bis bald, friends, and happy holidays!

Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part II: Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek is the sweetest little mountain town you ever will see.

Happy Thursday, friends! As I already mentioned, we were so lucky this summer because we got to go on THREE press trips that took us to awesome places in the mountains.

I blogged about our first trip here.

Our second was to the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. We had only been to Beaver Creek once before (when Lotte was itty bitty and I was pregnant with Grace!), but we had loved it so much that time, we were more than happy to get back.

There’s plenty to love about Beaver Creek β€” its quaint, safe feel, gorgeous views and friendly people, to name a few β€” but the Hyatt offered its own set of amenities to treasure.

Views from every window!
The cutest kiddie toys in the suites!
The best location! The middle of the town is right outside the door, with tons of restaurants and shops, an ice skating rink in the winter and this huge play area in the summer.
And holy moly the food. So. Much. Good. Food.
So many tasty drinks!
That includes 24-hour-a-day room service.
Nutella pancakes for the win πŸ˜‰
You can also grab a s’mores kit from the front desk and make your own at their outdoor fire pits, surrounded by the glorious mountains.

You can catch the gondola or ski lift right outside the door and take it to the top of the mountain. There you’ll find a lodge with lots of fun games, tons of hiking trails, or plenty of spaces to just sit and sip and relax, if that’s your preferred mountain activity.

We love a gondola ride!
Views from the top.
Look at these cuties <3
Our hike was cut short when Grace fell and skinned her knee, but until then it was glorious!
Rides back down!

The town itself has tons of restaurants and shops, like I mentioned, plus a cute creek and, if you walk a short distance, a playground.

This cutie loved the creek!
Hiking around town.

And obviously no trip of ours is complete without trying out the pool & hot tub situation. Both options at this hotel scored a 10/10 on our scale.

Pool ready!
What better way to wake up the guests than with squeals of delight from the pool down below?!

And that was it in a nutshell, my friends. We love you Beaver Creek! My only wish is that this place is slightly closer (it’s two hours in good traffic). If it were, we’d be there much more often, I can promise you that πŸ˜‰

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with our third and final press trip of the summer β€” C Lazy U Ranch!

Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part I: Grand Colorado on Peak 8

Happy fall, friends! Back in July of this past summer, we were lucky enough to check out Grand Colorado on Peak 8 in Breckenridge for a press trip. I couldn’t share our adventures until the story came out, and now that it has, I’m so excited to drop some mountain love here, as well.

We stayed at the resort from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. And even though we hit some gnarly traffic on the ride home, it was definitely worth it. Other than a small accident that put Emilia in urgent care on Saturday night, we all had a blast.

Friday Night

We arrived to our suite late afternoon on Friday, and holy hell was it impressive! Our living room had amazing views of the mountain, the Adventure Park activities and the pool area down below. In general, the hotel was very well suited for families, and the girls had the best time exploring.

Kid-sized games galore!
So much people watching!
Dinner at Robbie’s Tavern, located in the resort, was so yum. As were the drinks πŸ˜‰

Saturday

On Saturday we explored the resort a bit more (pools, kids’ crafts & cafe), and drove into town to check out the Breckenridge Alpine Garden.

Is there anything better than a blue-sky mountain day??
The Alpine Garden was the perfect substitute when we discovered that the hike we wanted to take was closed, and the other had no parking. Small enough to enjoy at a kids’ pace, and the kids love being in nature.
Downtown Breck is such a delight <3
The girls and I caught the free gondola from town back to the resort!
More fun games with a breathtaking backdrop.
After a morning spent exploring, we picked up some crafts to paint back in our room while we had some lunch.
Chris & I switched off on having amazing massages in the afternoon while the girls rested, then we hit up the pool. We had evening plans to head back into town, but after Emilia’s accident and urgent care visit, we decided to lay low back in the room and let her rest. Rest assured she was totally fine and back to her adorable, rambunctious self in no time πŸ˜‰

Sunday

Sunday begin with pancakes in our suite and a trip to the second indoor/outdoor pool.
We were given passes for the Epic Discovery Adventure Park, which the girls made great use of, starting with this amazing bungee jump trampoline!
Look at that pure joy!
We also opted to ride the ski lift, which was so beautiful and only about 75% terrifying with littles!
Emilia was unphased by Mom’s anxiety, particularly after her head trauma the day before!
After checking out we headed back into town for lunch at Breckenridge Tap House and ice cream at Higgles.
The girls got to ride the Gondola with Chris this time <3
Mint chocolate chip all around!
After filling up on treats, it was off to find the Breckenridge Troll! (Please know that you can easily park in the huge parking lot near the troll and walk about 400 feet. We started off trying to hike there from the downtown area, and this was so. much. easier!)
Troll spotted!
The hike to and from the parking lot is short but beautiful. My favorite kind πŸ˜‰

And that was it, friends! 10/10 recommend this place for adventurous, outdoor-loving families looking for a fun getaway! Until my next press trip post (we had THREE!) … bis bald, friends!

Life Lately: The Rest of October, 2023

It was the surprise of the century when Chris’ siblings showed up from Australia for his 40th birthday!

Happy end of October, friends! I just finished pulling off a MASSIVE surprise that I’ve known about since we were in Australia in December. All four of Chris’ siblings flew out to surprise him for his 40th bday bash, and it was epic and wonderful and all the things.

After our trip out to Disneyland earlier in October, these two big events made for a super fun month. I hope you’ve all been making the most of fall and gearing up to head into a holiday season filled with love and festive activities.

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately <3

Nan & Poppa were the first of our Aussie fam to arrive, and the girls were so excited to show them around a day-in-their life!
They came to gymnastics and swim lessons, school drop-offs and bus stop pick-ups. No rest for the weary!
We were so lucky with the weather the whole time the Connors were here! It was fall in all her splendid glory!
The grandparents arrived on Tuesday while Chris was out of town for work (which was so super helpful for me!), and the girls had off for fall break on Thursday and Friday, so that worked well! Obviously the Denver Zoo was on our must-visit list πŸ˜‰
It was all decked out for Halloween, which was an added delight.
This bond. Just goes to show that distance doesn’t matter, if you put your heart into it.
We had a picnic in Majestic View Park and took Nan & Poppa for a visit at the Majestic View Nature Center!
We took advantage of the scenery to have a little photo shoot, of course.
Surprise! The rest of the Connor clan arrived the Friday before Chris’ birthday party/birthday, and he had no idea. It was so wonderful <3
The girls also had no idea, which was even MORE fun!
I love, love, LOVE these people …
I mean … they couldn’t be any cuter if they tried <3
Grandpa flew in as a surprise for the party, as well!
The girls don’t get much one-on-one time with their Aussie aunties and uncles, so that was a super special element of the trip, as well.
Saturday was party time! We threw Chris’ 40th bday bash at the upstairs tiki bar at The Arvada Tavern in Olde Town Arvada. It was so. much. fun!
People really leaned into the Hawaiian theme, which was amazing.
We had food and drinks and 80s music … what’s not to love?!
Sunday was Chris’ actual birthday, and he requested steak, of course πŸ˜‰ So we all headed over to The Fort Steakhouse in Morrison. I had never been before, but Chris was there for a work dinner a few years ago. It was so much fun!
There’s a ton of history associated with the place, and the food is top-notch. 10/10 would recommend!
Love this crew <3
Grace was sick for a few days while the Connors were here (a bummer, for sure, but she bounced back!), but Lotte managed to head into downtown Denver with the crew on afternoon after school. They visited the Mile-High step and grabbed pizza and checked out a bit of the city.
Exactly one mile above sea level! (Allegedly πŸ˜‰
We headed into Fort Collins one day while the big girls were in school and, despite the weather being SUPER foggy, we took on the Horsetooth Reservoir hike. Uncle Ben even did it with Emilia on his back!
I think they both enjoyed it <3
Despite the fog, it was so, so pretty!
Uncle Paul was desperate to try In-N-Out Burger, so we did that on the way home. Emilia thoroughly enjoyed it, as well!
Our last meal with the fam before they flew home was at Jack’s, naturally.

And that was it in a nutshell, my loves. We’re so sad it’s over, but so happy we got to be a part of it at all. Life sure does move fast, friends. The only saving grace after saying goodbye to our loves was our first snow of the season.

The snow certainly was a nice distraction!

Bis bald, friends! And Happy Halloween!

Labor Day Weekend in Upstate New York

Happy September friends! I hope you all had amazing, restful Labor Day weekends. We spent ours back East with our beloved NY fam for my sister’s twins’ baptism, of which Chris & I had the honor of being anointed their grandparents at.

Tell me there is something cuter than these babes. I’ll wait.
Any time we can all get together like this feels pretty dang special. And lucky. And all of the feelings.
The priest let whoever wanted to come up to the pulpit to watch while the baptism happened, which was pretty special, especially for the littles.
After the baptism, Steph & Bri threw a party back at Brian’s parents’ place, which was so much fun.
Nothin’ but smiles <3

The baptism and afterparty were the main events of the weekend, but we snuck in some quality hang time at Grandpa’s, some quality pool time at my brother-in-law’s parents’ house, and some quality drinking/relaxing time at Angry Orchard, as well.

Mojo the dog is definitely a main event at Grandpa’s <3 He’s good value, as Chris would say.
Grandpa’s Epic Breakfasts are a main event, as well! You better come hungry …
I cannot. Cannot. Cannot. <3
Water babes.
Em snuck in some quality Uncle Brian time.

Steph had never been to Angry Orchard β€” an orchard that distills hard apple cider β€” but it’s well-known throughout New York so it was fun to go and check out where the magic happens.

They know how to get those instagram posts.
These orchards had me dreaming sweet fall dreams…
Have I mentioned how much I <3 my sister?
I am obsessed when our babies get together <3
Thanks for a fun time, Angry Orchard!
And thanks for hosting this stone-cold group of crazies, Gpa!
We DO <3 you NY, and we’ll be back real soon!

Well I, specifically, will be back at the end of September for my cousin’s wedding, which made this goodbye sad, but not as sad as it would have been had I not had that to look forward to.

Because plans are what keep me going, friends! So until then … bis bald, my loves!

Celebrating Birthdays and Friendship in Savannah, Georgia

Happy Tuesday, friends! I just arrived back from the best trip down South β€” to Savannah, Georgia, to be exact β€” with three of my closet friends that I’ve known since our 2nd grade Balmville Elementary School Days in Newburgh, New York. 2023 marks 40 years on earth for all of us, meaning 30-plus years of friendship.

If that’s not something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

We stayed at this Airbnb, which was the perfect location for us. We were walking distance to so many restaurants, bars and shops, not to mention the water and the Savannah and ghost tours, both of which we took full advantage.

Since I knew I’d be mostly catching up with my friends, I didn’t spend too much time researching what I might want to do while in town. Seeing my friends, checking out some gorgeous trees and eating delicious food was about all I had on my list. Luckily, my friend Laura did do her research, and she guided us through the most magical and perfect couple of days in (holy crap it was hot!) Savannah. Some of our highlights included:

  • Vic’s River Grill for dinner on the Friday we arrived.
  • Visiting the Love Lock Bridge.
  • Treylor Park Restaurant for breakfast on both Saturday and Monday … that’s how good it was!
  • Our tour of the city was hop-on/hop-off, and we hopped off at Forsyth Park to take in some of the gorgeous Spanish Moss (neither Spanish nor moss, mind you) trees.
  • Lunch in the beer garden at Moon River Brewing Company.
  • Dinner at The Olde Pink House. This place was SO. STINKIN. COOL! It’s actually an old house that turned naturally pink when the sun baked through the white paint to expose the brick underneath. You can check out the entire house β€” which is gorgeous β€” after you eat and, of course, they say it’s haunted.
  • On Sunday we drove out to Tybee Island, which was about 20 minutes and totally worth the drive. It was the cutest little beach town.
  • Chamacos Tacos and Surf for lunch on the way back was so fun, especially when combined with Rita’s Ice after.
  • Dinner at Huey’s On the River before our ghost tour was so tasty.
  • Arco Lounge had the yummiest (and prettiest!) craft cocktails.
  • The breakfast at Little Duck Diner was so good (even if the service was so incredibly slow).

Besides all the eating, drinking and site seeing β€” which was an integral part of the trip, don’t get me wrong β€” it was so amazing to catch up with these lovelies. We live in Colorado, upstate New York, Florida and Arizona, respectively, so as you can imagine we don’t get together that frequently. Upon leaving this trip we made a pact to do this every five years.

I surely hope we can keep that promise.

Here’s a bit of what we saw, friends!

Even the Savannah airport was adorable! Look at these cute rocking chairs outside!
Love Lock Bridge was something else <3
Savannah, you sure are cute.
So many treats! Such amazing pralines! This place is a gold mine for candy/sweets lovers.
Look at this Treylor Park breakfast insanity! I ate more grits on this trip than I did probably the entire time I was in college in Virginia. And I’m not in the least bit sad about it.
Touring around Forsyth Park.
Look at these trees!!! (Don’t touch ’em, though! Tiny little bugs called chiggers live in them. They used to be used to make pillows, though, which is where the phrase “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” comes from!)
Look at this gorgeous room at the Olde Pink House!
And this creepy cellar that was actually incredibly cool.
Tybee Island was such a tucked away gem of a spot!
I hadn’t been in the ocean since we were in Australia, so this day was long overdue.
And to be there with these besties was even better.
A little Chamacos humor πŸ˜‰
Dinner at Huey’s.
Drinks at Arco.
And a super cute ghost tour to round out our last night.

I sure do love these muffins. Best friends are hard to come by. People who stick by you through thick and thin are hard to come by. Finding people who have been with you from the beginning is a nearly impossible feat. My luck to have been found these friends is off the charts.

Bis bald, my friends. I hope you’re soaking in the last days of summer, too!

The Summer of Yes

It’s Red Rocks concert season, ya’ll!

Happy August, friends! Man, oh man, did that summer fly by! I mean, I know it’s technically still summer, and for most of the country, kids are still out of school. Here in Colorado, though, we’re gearing up for the return of the school season (TOMORROW!), and all the insanity that comes with it.

Traditionally speaking, summer has never been my favorite season. I obviously loved having the time off from school when I was a kid, but as an adult, the heat and humidity, long, lazy days … it’s just not really my thing. So, after returning from New York at the start of the girls’ summer vacation, I vowed to make this year different. I vowed to say yes. Yes to more concerts and more shows. Yes to more swimming and more adventures. Yes to being out in the (hot!) world more. The older girls would be in summer camp for the majority of the break, but I also wanted Emilia to have a stellar time. I enrolled her in swim lessons and a couple half days of camp. I made an Emilia Summer Bucket List and slowly ticked things off as the weeks went by. We took more walks, went to story times at the library and got her a scooter.

All of this is to say … this summer, I changed my own personal narrative. Don’t get me wrong. I was still very tired and had moments of absolute stress. We had illnesses and bumps and bruises and fought boredom (and each other), for sure. But overall, this was a summer for the books, and we didn’t even travel until the last few weeks of it. We made fun in our own backyard, as it were, and I’m here for the results, experiences and memories.

I hope you’re all making the most of any breaks that have come your way, as well!

Library Story Time!

The first-ever toddler story time visit for Emilia was a huge hit! We made it back a few more times throughout the summer and she walked in like she owned the place. I can’t with this little one. I simply. Can. Not.

The Denver Zoo

I took Emilia to the zoo by herself for the first time, and the way that she loved setting our agenda was a delight. Highlights included picking up dirt, eating snacks and watching construction vehicles πŸ˜‰

We went back to the zoo for Lotte’s birthday because Chris’ parents got us the Feed the Giraffes Experience, and it was EPIC! So much fun!

Look at those magnificent animals!
Look at those tongues!

Taste of Fort Collins

We made a trip out to Fort Collins in early June to celebrate my bestie’s Big Birthday! We went to the Taste of Fort Collins all together, and I returned later that night with Moe to watch The All-American Rejects perform.
We also made our own pizzas in Moe’s sister’s outdoor pizza oven, and now we can never go back to boxed!

Red Rocks, Red Rocks & More Red Rocks!

I hadn’t been to Red Rocks as much in my eight years of living in Colorado combined as I have this season … including one more to come in September that I’m SO EXCITED FOR!

Chris and I saw the Barenaked Ladies perform at Red Rocks (with openers Del Amitri and Semisonic) and it was SO WONDERFUL! They were awesome performers, and it was really fun to relive my high school days with Chris <3
I went to Yoga on the Rocks (which is exactly as it sounds … performing a yoga class on the stairs at Red Rocks!) with some friends in July. I had been once before with Chris’ sister a few years ago and O.M.G. it is a delight. Red Rocks is always wonderful, but to be doing something so calming and meditative while you’re out in this gorgeous venue in nature … it’s really something else.
My baby is growing up. I took Lotte to her first Red Rocks concert this summer. We tailgated with PB & J in the parking lot and hung out until 9:30 listening to Tori Amos under the stars. It was a magical night.
Red Rocks at night with my big girl <3

Swim Lessons For Em

Emilia started swim lessons and she has been loving it. As she’s gotten further into them it’s gotten harder for mom (lots more going under the water … yikes!), but I have so loved having this experience with her while I’m still an active part of her lesson. We didn’t start the big girls in lessons until they were old enough to go in themselves. This feels so special.

Junkyard Social Club

We visited the Junkyard Social Club in Boulder, a very cool cafe/play area that takes junk from around Boulder and turns it into fun play structures for kids!

Playdates, Playdates & More Playdates

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … we got SO LUCKY with our neighborhood.

Father’s Day Delights

For Father’s Day we took the girls to their first movie β€” Elemental β€” at The Alamo Drafthouse. The movie was super cute, but more than that the experience β€” sitting in an amazing theater ordering food and drink DELIVERED TO YOU β€” was so much fun! That was definitely NOT how I went to the movies with my parents as a kid … but then again, nothing is the same from when I was a kid…
We had Father’s Day dinner at Freedom Street Social, a cool food hall that opened in Arvada with lots of different restaurant options in one spot. Look at these cuties that I get to call my own … <3

Camp, Camp & More Camps!

The girls have mostly gone to camps at the YMCA, but they took a break from the Y for a week to attend two different camps β€” drama and art β€” with friends at the Arvada Center and they loved it!
Here’s Grace in front of some of her artwork on display at the end of the week. My little love.

Ralston Central Park & Splash Pad

I finally took Emilia to the Ralston Central Park & Splash Pad! It was PACKED with camp kids (as were most of the places we visited this summer), but she had so much fun.
I’ve so loved our adventures this summer, little one. Please stop growing up.

Touristing With Visitors

Chris had a cousin come visit near the beginning of July, and so the girls got to do some adventuring with Matt, as well.
We sure do love our visitors!
When Grandpa came to visit we checked out Immersive Disney, which was so cool!
The girls had the best time running around and listening to some of their favorite Disney songs. (So did the adults, to be honest!)
The girls even got to check out a Rockies game β€” on Stars Wars night, so less β€” with Grandpa!

Birthday Parties!

We’ve had a couple of summer birthday parties to attend, including this one which took place at Clear Creek Valley Park, a new-to-us spot that is definitely a place we’ll be revisiting. It was so cool!

Camp for Emilia, Too πŸ˜‰

Emilia’s first camp! She went for four morning sessions at My Gym and had a great time! It was the first time I ever dropped her off somewhere and left and it was … hard. But I made it through πŸ˜‰

The Book of Mormon

Chris and I saw The Book of Mormon at the Denver Center for Performing Arts and it was SO GOOD!
Parents gone wild.

Children’s Museum of Denver

Emilia and I visited the Children’s Museum of Denver on a rainy day in the summer. Translation: IT WAS PACKED! Adventures were still had.
More like amazin’ Emilia <3

Milestones & Makin’ Memories <3

This has nothing to do with saying yes to adventure, but it’s worth noting that Grace and Lotte lost a collective FOUR TEETH (two each) this summer! They kept the tooth fairy busy.
Chris’ version of a “yes” summer was trying out lots of new recipes. His family was happy to oblige him in his efforts. This was the lobster roll and homemade coconut oil chips he made for July 4th. Yes and yes, please!
Grace read ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ before bed one night and asked for tacos the next day. Dad made it happen πŸ˜‰
Don’t worry. We made sure to have plenty of down time for snuggle sessions, as well.
I took the girls out for dinner and ice cream to celebrate the last full day of camp. We love The Golden Mill for its multiple restaurants and live music and festive atmosphere. It was the perfect way to celebrate a camp-filled fun summer!

Urban Air

Dad took the big girls on a trip to Urban Air, which is always a big hit.

Our Neighborhood Block Party

Our neighborhood had one of its twice-annual block parties the night before July 4th. It’s always so much fun to see everyone, especially ….
All the cute kiddos <3 This is like a third of them!

The Indigo Girls in Fort Collins!

I saw so much amazing live music this summer, including the Indigo Girls at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins with Moe and her sister. I was truly reliving those glory days of high school this summer!

Mordecai Children’s Garden (the Denver Botanic Gardens)

I took all three girlies to visit the Mordecai Children’s Garden β€” a separate section of the Denver Botanic Gardens β€” when the big girls were off of camp during the week of July 4th. We hadn’t been in years (and Emilia had never been!) and they had the best time!

Big Soda Lake in Bear Creek Lake Park

Emilia and I finally got to tick Big Soda Lake in Bear Creek Lake Park off our to-checkout list! Park entrance is $10 for a daily pass (that usually gets you in and out, unless it’s a particularly crowded day), and the lake area is so cute! The beach part is on the small side, so I’d suggest going early, but there is a great sectioned-off area for little people, a playground, free life jackets to borrow and a snack stand. Plus, you can get really adventurous and rent (or bring your own) canoe to paddle out into the lake on.
So pretty … you can even see Red Rocks in the background on the other side.

Yard Sale Sunday!

We had a yard sale! Made a couple bucks, sold some of our fave things to some cute families, taught the girls some solid lessons and donated a LOT of stuff to Goodwill. It was a solid way to spend a Sunday πŸ˜‰

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Emilia and I visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on a delightfully quiet Thursday. She (and I) had a ball.

Press Trips x 3!

We were lucky enough to be able to go on not one, not two, but THREE press trips this summer. I can’t write a lot about them just yet, but once the story is out, I’ll post more details. For now I’ll just share the where ….

The first was Grand Colorado on Peak 8, which was a pure delight.
We got to visit the Breckenridge Troll on this trip, too!
Our second stop was the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek! We’ve only been to Beaver Creek once before but we LOVED it, and this hotel was STUNNING. So. Much. Fun!
Mountainside s’mores by the fire pit. Like I said … Too. Much. Fun!
Our third and ALL TIME FAVORITE was C Lazy U Ranch outside of Granby. The extent to which we loved this place β€” and the extent to which it was incredibly difficult to only include a few photos here β€” was a whole heck of a lot <3
Breakfast Friday morning was a real highlight …
And we all (except for Emilia) got to ride horses!
Am I a little bit proud of us? Why yes, yes I am.

Tiny Town

When my stepdad was in town for Lotte’s birthday, we took Emilia to check out Tiny Town, a cute little kids’ play area in the mountains that has a bunch of small, kid-sized buildings that make up a “town” they can play in, plus a playground and a train. So cute <3

Such teeny tiny cuteness!
These two <3 They sure are cute together!

Lair o’ the Bear Park

Taking Emilia to visit Lair o’ the Bear Park was the final tick I needed to complete her Summer of Fun Bucket List. It was even better that the girls had the week before school started off and the four of us got to visit together <3

These cuties had a blast exploring on a beautiful Monday morning.
Dipping our toes in the creek was a highlight!
I love, love, LOVE adventuring with my little ladies.

PHEW! And now, the girls start school tomorrow. We’ve bought backpacks and new clothes, gotten haircuts and had our doc check-ups. I don’t know what to say about the fact that time keeps on flying. Except that I’m sure glad I said yes to this summer, and that we’ve all had these experiences. Starting the summer in New York with our loves was the absolute best, and we did our best to keep the party going all season long. It’s been a summer I won’t forget.

Bis bald, friends … until next time!

Kicking Off the Summer in NYC: Part II

Welcome back, friends! After our first day of welcoming summer by galavanting around New York City, we really kicked it up a notch for Memorial Day. Adventures included:

It was the sweetest of days with some of our besties <3

American Museum of Natural History

With so many amazing museums in NYC it can be hard to pick just one for kiddos, but I’m sure glad we went with this one. We only had time for our two extra experiences, the dinosaur exhibit and the Room With the Whale, but gosh was it worth it.
This Invisible Worlds exhibit was giving Meow Wolf vibes, but with a much better story and on a much more tame scale.
How small do your problems seem in an exhibit like this, though. I mean, really.
The girls LOVED it!
Dinosaurs were a huge hit too, obviously.
Rawwwwwring like dinosaurs!
Even Em was intrigued <3
I wasn’t sure how the 30-minute planetarium show would go over, but the girls loved it! And Carla, Fiona & Jake were able to join us, too.
The whale room never disappoints.
Cuties.

Alice’s Tea Cup

After the museum we walked over to Alice’s which, while thoroughly expensive (it was a full tea service that, let’s be honest, mostly got thrown out) was a true NY experience, as well. I’m really glad we did it!

“What’s this stuff?!”
The whole gang. And how gorgeous is this room?!

Central Park

We left Alice’s around 2:30 and had reservations at 4 for Top of the Rock, so we took our time wandering through Central Park to get there.

Good ole’ Uncle Brizz.
Enjoying live music at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Top of the Rock

This is one of Chris’ favorite spots in the city, so it was fun to take the girls there to experience the city the way that birds do <3

Walking through the Rockefeller Center area is always a joy, too.
Chris had some extra help pulling the baggage.
Gotta love a girl who only loves her snacks, no matter where she may be!
More cuteness <3
So much love for this girl of mine <3
And this one <3
And all of them!
Plus this one. Carla. My freshman year roommate at JMU, whom I’ve known for 22 years (yikes!). We’ve been to Germany & Salzburg & Nashville together, survived college and our first years as babies living in NYC. She’s a doll and I love her immensely <3

After a very long day, it was back on the subway to head to our home away from home.

Seeing the sites is one thing, but catching up with your loves … that’s everything.

Until next time, friends … bis bald!

40th Birthday Bucket List Trips

Glacier National Park, in all her beautiful glory … plus my little bubs <3

I feel like I should start this post by writing: β€œAnd just like that, I was 40.”

It’s what almost everyone says about turning 40, but it doesn’t actually feel that way. On the one hand yes, I feel like I turned 21 just yesterday. But on the other hand … holy hell a lot of work has gone into reaching this decade!

Between 30 and 40 I became a whole new person. I entered into my first year of marriage, started my business and moved across the country. I added countries and states and continents to my travels, bought a house, sold a house, bought another one. I had two miscarriages and three babies. I lost and gained friends. I lost my Mom.

It’s been a ride, friends!

Anyway, all of this is to say, entering my 40s does feel like a milestone, but not in a “oh my God I’m so old!” way. More in a, “Wow, that was a whirlwind. I wonder what’s next?!” kind of way.

So to kick off this new and exciting decade, I thought it would be nice to celebrate in a place that’s been on my Bucket List since I wrote a geography report about it in 8th grade: Glacier National Park.

And I was right β€” she did not disappoint.

Although traveling at the end of March/early April meant that most things (restaurants, hotels, sections of the main road) would be either closed or covered in snow, it also meant that we literally had the entire place to ourselves. It was magical, friends. When I tell you the park was our playground, what I mean is that we probably saw about a dozen people the entire time we were there, and the majority of those were on the final day when we visited one of the most popular lakes in the entire park.

We’ve already made plans to go back when the weather is nicer, now that we got to have our initial trip all to ourselves.

Here’s a little bit of what we got up to on my 40th birthday trip.

Day 1: Arrival

We didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon on our first day, which was a nice way to ease into the trip.

These little muffins are becoming quite the travelers πŸ˜‰
Bluey for the win!
When we landed we had time to kill before we could check in, so we headed to The Montana Club in Kalispell (about 20 minutes from the airport) for lunch. It was the perfect Montana introduction.
And the perfect way to toast an introduction to my birthday weekend!
At 4, we checked into our tiny cabin. While this place was fine, there ended up being a few quirks (spider! broken fireplace! hot water that doesn’t last for very long!) that would make me not recommend it for big families like ours. Still, it was a fantastic location β€” at about 15 minutes to the West entrance of Glacier β€” AND had one of our favorite features ….
A hot tub!
Em couldn’t go in for long, but she did get a dip, which she was VERY happy about πŸ˜‰

We knew we wanted to get up early on Friday to start the exploring, so after dinner we hit the hay (the girls did enjoy their loft beds in this Airbnb, that’s for sure!) and called it a night!

Day 2: East Glacier

On our first full day in the park, we hit the road! We were staying near the West Glacier entrance, but we wanted to head over to the East side to check out Two Medicine Grill for breakfast on our way to St. Mary Lake.

Hard not to take picture of EVERYTHING you see in Montana.
Driving over the continental divide!
Only one child was awake for the event.
Breakfast at Two Medicine Grill was everything we could have ever hoped for in a diner.
See what I mean πŸ˜‰
Chris took this photo of me from the car, because ….
I will always stop on the side of the road for horse photos. Always.
The park entrance photo of my dreams, on the way into the St. Mary Lake area!
It was definitely chilly on Friday, so we didn’t actually do any hiking. But driving around and stopping for photo opps was just as good, in my mind.
See what I mean πŸ˜‰
There were a lot of road closure on this trip, but we definitely got the gist, and definitely plan to come back when we can see the whole thing!
All told, we drove about four or five hours on Friday around the park, and the girls were ROCK STARS. I love my little crew…
We stopped at the Glacier Distilling Company on the way home, which happened to be about five minutes from our Airbnb and AMAZING.
Delightful tasting flight!
Delightful cocktails!
Then it was back to our Airbnb for more HOT TUB TIME!

Day 3: Polebridge Mercantile

On our second day in the park we traveled over dirt roads and through rivers (basically) for … HUCKLEBERRY BEAR CLAWS!

The Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery is a Glacier institution, and we were so lucky that it just happened to open for the season on April 1st!

Chris didn’t let on how nervous he was driving to Polebridge until we got home β€” but he did an awesome job and we arrived in one piece!
While Chris fretted the drive, I took photos πŸ˜‰
About an hour later, we arrived!
I mean … HOW CUTE IS THIS PLACE?!
AND THEY HAD PUPPIES!!!!! (that were actually for bear control …. yikes!)
And so many treats! And a coffee that I loved so much I got two of. PLUS …
Don’t ask me how many Huckleberry Bear Claws we purchased …
How adorable is this Lego version of the store?!
Running from a family of Sasquatches. Naturally.
We tried to drive into the park from the store, but our car got stuck in a trench of water. So, we nixed that idea in favor of ….
More hot tub time!
Hot tubbin’ in the cold and snow really can’t be beat <3
It was the PERFECT last day of my 30s, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way <3

Day 4: WELCOME TO 40!

And then there was the One Where I Turned 40 …

Yikes!

It was honestly a good day, friends, filled with Facetimes and family and fun and Huckleberry things. I felt very loved and special on this day, and there wasn’t anything else I could have possibly wanted.

Starting your birthday off with waffles covered in Huckleberry jam and ice cream is ALWAYS a good idea!
For my birthday, we decided to head over to the famous Lake McDonald, which afforded us some glorious views along the way.
Plus this picture-perfect park entrance sign <3
It was a cloudy morning, but look at this splendor …
So incredibly gorgeous.
AND WE BASICALLY HAD THE PLACE TO OURSELVES!
It was a special moment.
How Mom throws …
How Dad throws.
Gorgeous.
Serene.
For dinner that night we headed into Whitefish (about 30 minutes away) and ate at The Firebrand Hotel, which was magnificent.
After dinner the skies had cleared and it was nearing sunset, and Chris had the idea to head back to Lake McDonald. I’m so incredibly glad we did …
Because these views …
Are breathtaking.
We have no fun πŸ˜‰
Thank you, Glacier, for putting on a show.
Birthday pie that night was … you guessed it! … HUCKLEBERRY!
Plus one more hot tub/star gazing soak.

Oh, Montana, you stole my heart. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so happy I got to spend it with my crew.

On Monday it was …

One final hot tub soak and …
One final Huckleberry cocktail, then home.

That was my 40th birthday adventure in a nutshell, friends. I hope you enjoyed following along.

I can’t wait to see where my 40s take me in this crazy beautiful world, and I can’t wait to bring you along.

Bis bald, loves!

Old Friends, New Experiences, Loads of Memories

Happy Monday, friends! We celebrated the holiday weekend with a visit from one of my oldest friends and her husband and kids. Another one of my high school friends moved to the area recently, and this little mini-reunion between the three of us β€” along with my kids getting to hang out with Faye’s kids β€” was everything my soul needed.

Highlights included sledding in Majestic View Park, a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion, checking out Meow Wolf Denver, lunch at Avanti in Denver … and of course all the extra special bonding time. It’s sappy but true β€” old friends make the best friends.

It snowed quite a bit the day our NY friends arrived, so hanging in our back yard and having snowball fights was a highlight, as well.
The cuteness between these two is off the charts <3
Love this girl.
And this whole gang!

Here’s a bit more of what we got into β€” hope you all are having a happy weekend, as well!

Majestic View Park Sledding

Sledding down slick hills is THE BEST!
Snow cuties.
<3 <3 <3

The Butterfly Pavilion

My friend Moe is not a fan of butterflies, but she faced her fears for the sake of the kiddos πŸ˜‰
Lotte held a tarantula ….
Grace gave her a “high five”!
This place is so interactive and hands-on, it’s amazing for kids.
Butterflies!
This particular butterfly was in love with us and kept coming back …
Such a friendly butterfly!

A Day in Denver

On Saturday we headed into the city to check out the interactive Meow Wolf experience (AMAZING, if not somewhat overwhelming!) and have lunch.
There were four floors (I think, it was honestly hard to keep track!) and SO MANY interactive, amazing things to check out!
The exhibits all bled into each other so you spend the entire time in these realistic “worlds”.
I can definitely see how it would be overwhelming for some, but our kiddos all loved it!
This was OBVIOUSLY my favorite room … BOOKS!
We had a big group and we got separated for most of the visit, but we all met up for the lunch after and agreed that it was well worth the trip!
I told them to make faces like aliens were coming to get them.
My loves <3
Lunch after was at Avanti, and the weather was so wonderful we were able to sit on the roof with views of the city.

It was a fun visit with some very sweet moments that we’ll always treasure.

I can’t even <3
We had a birthday celebration for Faye’s husband after our Denver day, and the mini cowboy hats were a big hit.
So were the moustaches.
Come back real soon, friends <3

Bis bald!

Holidays In Australia Part 3: New Zealand

The excitement began before we even got off the plane, friends … look at that view!

After spending Christmas and the next few days at Chris’ parents’ house in Bathurst, we loaded up the car and headed off to Sydney, where the girls would be staying with their grandparents and some aunts, uncles and cousins, while Chris and I headed off to New Zealand β€” BY OURSELVES β€” to celebrate our 15-year meet-a-versary, our 10-year anniversary of being married, New Years Eve (which just happens to be the anniversary of both of those aforementioned things) and the upcoming year of our 40th bdays.

But really, you don’t understand. We never leave our kids, and we especially don’t leave them overnight. In fact, we’ve only left Lotte & Grace overnight once, and that was the last time we were in Australia.

In other words, this was long overdue!

Despite knowing how much we’d enjoy the trip, we definitely waffled. Leaving three kids with any number of adults is bound to be a lot, and flights and accommodation during the holidays are astronomical. After going back and forth on it, we finally decided to JUST GO FOR IT, and we settled on spending our three-night getaway in Queenstown.

I’m so glad we did.

The Details

With so much to celebrate on this trip, we decided to just really go for it. All of that is to say β€” we splurged in a way we don’t normally … and I don’t feel badly about it one little bit πŸ˜‰

The largest expenses by far were the flights ($2,515) and the lodging ($2,243).

Even the airport had stunning views!
QT Queenstown lobby views.

We stayed at the QT Queenstown and would highly recommend it! Besides the fact that they treated us royally (with the sweetest welcome/happy anniversary package of champagne, chocolate, bath bombs and free drink tickets at their hotel bar), the (absolutely spectacular) breakfast was complimentary and in a gorgeous dining room, the location was perfect, and the views were out of this world.

We also went all-out with our meals (besides breakfast, which was always free and always at our amazing hotel). Because hey, you only have a 10-year-anniversary and you only turn 40 once!

Day One: Arriving

Here’s a little pro tip from me to you β€” when you’re an American traveling from Australia to New Zealand (ie. me), you do need a travel Visa, and it’s best to get this sorted before you head to the airport. Also, Quantas and Jetstar both have weight limits for carry-ons (not sure about other airlines, but these are the two that we traveled). Both of these are fun things we learned the hard way.

After our initial hiccups, we landed in gorgeous Queenstown, checked into our hotel, then set out to take in the town at twilight and have dinner at The Bunker, a romantic hidden gem offering a prefix menu and wine pairing situation that we were all too happy to enjoy.

Also delightful was the fact that Queenstown was still all dolled up for the holidays.
This place is a must if you’re looking for a romantic and low-key dining experience!
I mean … yum.