Seattle With Three Littles β€” Day One

Happy Memorial Day, friends!

We’re back from our long-awaited trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park, and I can confirm … if you’ve had Seattle on your bucket list for a while, BOOK THAT TRIP NOW!

We had the absolute best time on our little 3-day stay. We planned to fly in late on Wednesday, after the girls got out of what was supposed to be their last day of school before the summer. The school ended up closing two days earlier, though, for renovations. We tried switching to an earlier flight but they were booked out. So we didn’t end up getting in until around 9 pm (on what was NOT our best flight), but luckily the Airbnb where we stayed was only about 20 minutes from the airport.

The Details:

Accommodation: We stayed at this Airbnb, which had very many amenities. It was right on the water, and was walking distance to literally everything a tourist could want. There was a 24-hour doorman, garage parking, a pack and play and highchair and childproof locks on the doors. There was a small balcony facing the waterfront, a shared hot tub and a rooftop. All the things you could possibly want for an awesome stay.
Price: $1990 for four nights

Airport transfer: We set up a car service from Starline Town Car & Limo Service to pick us up at the airport and drop us back off, and it was totally and absolutely worth it. With the five of us, three carseats, a double stroller and all our bags, it was a lot less stressful knowing that we’d have door-to-door service in a car that would definitely fit all of our things, and that we would definitely have a ride for our 5:30 a.m. pick-up to head back home.
Price: Approximately $300 (this included tip, taxes and other fees.)

Car rental: We rented a car on Friday to drive into Olympic National Park. We had to get a big one, obviously, so that’s always a bit more pricey.
Price: $260

Food: We spent about $500 for food, most of which was coffee. (Not really, but we did do a bit of a “coffee crawl” around the city, which I would highly recommend.)

Coffee from La Panier in Pikes Place.
Fresh ingredients Chris picked up from Pike Place Market to make ….
This insanely delicious meal!

Entertainment: We spent about $150 on entertainment, including ferry rides, Olympic National Park and a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel.

Olympic National Park was a 30-minute ferry ride (with your car!) to Bainbridge Island, and then about 90 minutes from there … and worth every second!
One of our favorite activities was the ferris wheel!

In other words, it wasn’t the cheapest trip for three days, but we were prepped for that going in and had saved up. We knew we didn’t want to scrimp, since neither of us had been before, and knowing that ahead of time helped us not feel guilty spending while we were there.

It was also the first time the girls traveled with their own money from their allowance. This was clutch when Lotte would point to a $20 useless trinket and I could say, “Sorry, you don’t have enough money for that!”

Day One:

You know who doesn’t sleep in after a late travel night? ALL THE CHILDREN!

We knew we’d all be dragging a bit on our first full day, so we decided to take the morning slow and walk around the neighborhood, including seeing the waterfront and Pikes Place Market.

Seeing the original Starbucks is like a celebrity sighting πŸ˜‰
There is a lot of construction happening around the waterfront right now. We definitely want to head back in a few years to see how it all turns out!

After a short rest (and Chris shopping at the market for fresh ingredients for our dinner), we grabbed a ferry to walk to Alki Beach.

We took a bit of a detour on our walk back to the ferry from the beach, but we did get to head down this gorgeous road, so bonus?!
Emilia discovered her love of ferries on this trip <3

After our afternoon walk/beach trip, it was back to the Airbnb, where Chris cooked up his delightful pasta dish for dinner and the girls hit the hot tub with Chris. Friday morning we would be heading out to Olympic National Park … can’t wait to share that adventure with you tomorrow!

Bis bald, friends!

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 β€” Granby Ranch β€” 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 πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ˜‰
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!

The Covid Christmas We Should Have Seen Coming

Christmas Day was surprisingly joyful, considering what came before and after …

As the final days of 2021 wind down, I’m hoping that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Our trip to New York for the holidays got disrupted by an outbreak of Covid within our family (extended family, at least, so far the five of us are still Covid-free), so we ended up cutting it short by a week. Still, we managed to pack in a lot of celebrating before things turned ugly.

While I’m grateful for the positive things that came this year β€” vaccines, three healthy daughters who turned five, four and one, a husband who loves me and takes care of us in this roller coaster of a life, a career that I really love, and so much more β€” I also won’t be sad to see it go.

Here’s hoping there’s even more to look forward to in 2022. Bis bald, friends … and happy New Year!

The “Calm” Before the Storm

The week heading into our trip was crazy for us, as well, with my stepdad flying in for a visit, Grace turning four and Emilia turning one. We managed to get in a lot of partying before we even boarded the plane.

My sweet, sassy middle daughter. I hope you never, ever change <3
She insisted on having her dinosaurs with her in this picture. Just one of the many reasons I love her so.
My last baby. Emilia turning one has been bittersweet for me. It’s the most fun to watch her grow, and also the saddest to leave the baby phase behind.
Never. Not. Happy.
We took the family to see the holiday lights at Chatfield Farms before we flew out to New York, which ended with freezing cold kids and lots of tears … but it was pretty while it lasted!
Early Christmas at home before we left meant another excuse to wear our matching Christmas pajamas … not that I ever need an excuse.
Thank you, Denver Airport, for having all the fun holiday entertainment! Emilia hadn’t met Santa yet, so this helped me tick that item off my bucket list πŸ˜‰
As a surprise to no one, Emilia is a champion traveler.
At Grandpa’s …. pre-Covid confirmations :/

New York City for a Day

We had always planned to head into the city for a day during this trip, but we got spooked by Covid numbers the morning we were meant to catch the train. So we ditched the public transport idea and decided to rent a car, instead. I’m so glad we did, because it ended up being a highlight of the trip. It was the first visit for Emilia, and seeing the city we love all decked out for the holiday … well, there’s really nothing quite like it.

We stuck to the touristy parts of midtown β€” Grand Central, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays β€” and seeing these things through the kids’ eyes, for the first time, was so much fun.

Ah, the allure of a mini-van. I won’t lie … it was definitely nice having this extra room! We love our Highlander, but a mini-van … let’s just say I get it now.
There is nothing like that skyline.
This is the building where it all started for me. My first real job in magazines β€” an internship at More and then a full-time gig at Parents β€” was right here, and I must have walked these streets hundreds of times. To be back there, taking a photo with my girls, really meant a lot to me <3
Of all the places in the city to visit on a holiday trip, Bryant Park is my absolute favorite.
And of course no NYC trip is complete without a big ole’ street vendor pretzel!
Times Square was freezing! But the ball was up, and the girls thought the craziness was so much fun!
Grace was very excited by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree πŸ˜‰
We spent a lot of time in front of these window displays, and Lotte would have stayed even longer! She was so thoroughly entranced by them, and it was the cutest thing in the world to see.
We ended our visit with a trip to Grand Central, where Chris showed the girls the parabolic curve (where you can talk to people on opposite sides!) and the pretty main hall.
And the Grand Central Market for treats, of course!
Love ya, NYC. Until next time …

Christmas and the Days Before It

We learned the day after we got back from the city that my stepdad had Covid, so we hightailed it out of his house and went over to my sister’s (after we all got negatives on our rapid tests, of course). This ended up being futile, since our Christmas morning tests were negative again, and by the next day my brother-in-law and then sister had it, as well. Still, for those couple of days, we continued on, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Chris and I had already decided that we would be leaving early, and we had already cancelled our Airbnb trip to a lake house in PA (THANK YOU AIRBNB FOR ISSUING A REFUND!) and had moved our flights up by a week to return home (THANK YOU SOUTHWEST FOR ALLOWING US TO DO THIS FOR ONLY THE COST OF THE FLIGHT CHANGE, A MEASLY $150!). We figured if we’re going to get sick, we’d want to be at home when that happened.

Plus, we had nowhere to stay. We officially had Covid cases in both of the family homes where we could go.

I know a lot of people had their holidays ruined or changed due to Covid this year, and I can only hope that by next year, we’ll be in a better place. Who knows, really, but for now, like I said, I’m counting my blessings …

At least there was snow on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve gifts from elves, courtesy of my sister <3
At-home manicures were a big hit!
The cutest.
Also the cutest!
Christmas morning cuties!
Grace’s face pretty much says it all … does it not?!

And that was our trip in a (shortened) nutshell, friends. We made it back home in one piece, which is pretty much all that I can ask for at this point, and we’ll be ringing in the New Year together as a family of five <3

See you all in 2022 … and BIS BALD!

Keep the drinks coming!

Sunflowers, Friends & Family, Farm Animals and Unbeatable Views in New York

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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.

Phew! And we aren’t even halfway through!

Continue reading “Sunflowers, Friends & Family, Farm Animals and Unbeatable Views in New York”

Making Memories on Memorial Day in Upstate New York

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If you are looking at that above picture and thinking, “Stop it. Just ding dang stop it right now,” then you know how I feel about my new adorable niece.

Before I get any further, let me start this post by stating that I have a fabulous husband. As a surprise birthday treat, he booked a little New York getaway just for me β€” sans children! β€” for this past Memorial Day weekend. I flew in on Friday and got to spend a glorious three and 1/2 days with Steph and Ro and Brian (and a whole cast of other amazing people, as well), before flying back (and landing at 3 a.m. – thank you hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms and hail … oh my) on Tuesday.

Continue reading “Making Memories on Memorial Day in Upstate New York”

Cousins Are for Life

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Is there anything in the world quite like holding your baby sister’s first baby in your arms? I’ll go ahead and answer that for you β€” no. No, there is not.

I just got back this past weekend after nine days out in New York, the purpose of which was to do just that β€” hold my baby sister’s first baby in my arms.

And, you know, help out, however I could.

Continue reading “Cousins Are for Life”

An Epic Holiday Trip to Australia

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Man, oh man β€” do those look like happy faces, or what?!

I can hardly believe I’m about to write these words, but our epic holiday trip to Australia is over.

Sad face times one million, for real.

But, if the above picture (and all the 5,000 that are about to follow) are any indication, you better believe that an amazing, fantastic, wonderful, memorable time was had by all.

I’ll break our trip down into a couple different posts to cover some of the best parts, but I wanted to start off with a little intro post to cover some of the major points that I learned about traveling with two littles all the way across the world:

  1. Prep is great (and important!), but at the end of the day, you can never really know how your travel will go down. For example, I spent a small fortune on snacks and gadgets and toys for the kids, and while yes, we did use some of them, we didn’t end up using probably half of what we brought (clothing included). Still, I say it’s better to be prepared than to be without, and while the girls both ended up being pretty awesome on the incredibly long and taxing flights, I do think that having everything we had helped me relax a bit, since I knew we did all we could to make them comfortable. (P.S. When it comes to products, this Fly Tot inflatable cushion was pretty clutch when it came to Lotte’s comfort, since she is too big for a bassinet and too small to be comfortable just pushing her seat down to sleep. We were able to inflate it and put it between her seat and the back of the seat in front of her so she could put her feet up on it. It also worked well as a spot to hold extra toys.Β  The LapBaby was also good for G, since we could strap her to our waist and she and we could both have our hands free. Other suggestions I found useful (even if not necessarily for us) were to bring along sugar-free jelly beans for little ones’ ears for take off and landing, as well as Pedialyte powder packs β€” which, turns out, Lotte doesn’t like much β€” to keep them drinking and hydrated.) One other thing we found useful with prep was toΒ really hype the airplane aspect up ahead of time. We made sure that Lotte knew we would be getting on an airplane and flying really long and far to see Nan and Poppa, and that we would be eating and sleeping and playing and watching tv … all on an airplane! And I think that helped, because for both flights Lotte kept saying things like, “I’m eating dinner on an airplane!” “I’m taking a nap on an airplane!” I mean, how often in parenting do we get to call something a flat-out win? Like, never, right? So I’ll take this one!
  2. Packing cubes rule the most.Β Especially if you’ll be traveling with a family, get some multi-colored packing cubes to throw everyone’s stuff in β€” they willΒ change your life!Β You can keep everyone’s stuff organized by color cube, and you’ll be able to keep everything organized both in and out of the suitcase, as well.
  3. Do some healthcare research ahead of time. Lotte actually did get sick on this trip β€” a chest infection that included a fever, which was her first β€” but we were lucky enough to be with family who knew where to go and we were in a country where we spoke the same language. If we had been in a foreign area or a place where we didn’t speak the language, the situation would have been much more difficult. A quick trip to urgent care (or Australia’s version of urgent care, anyway) and a prescription of antibiotics later, and Lotte was back to her bouncy self in about a day. I’m grateful we were able to get her feeling better so quickly. My advice would be to check out where the closest hospitals and urgent care (or equivalent services) will be where you are traveling, and to be sure you can get across the important information in the language you’ll need to know to make things right. Find out the best way to cover emergencies overseas, as well, since your American healthcare plan likely won’t help you much, there.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No … seriously.Β At the end of the day, even the frustrating or silly or insane things that happen to you while traveling (within reason, of course) will be the funny stories you tell when you’re back home, or even more likely, they’ll be the things you completely forget. I know for a fact there were stressful times on this trip β€” how could there not be with a 2.5 and 1-year-old β€” but right now, I couldn’t really tell you what they were. Keep that in mind when you’re actually going through it, and remember to breath.
  5. No, there is no such thing as too many pictures.Β Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time documenting our travels through photos rather than sitting with them in the moment. I’ve come to the conclusion that no, there is no such thing as taking too many pictures.

What’s that you say β€” you’d like some proof? Oh, okay, twist my arm why don’t you?! Here are some shots from our first two days. Yes,Β these are just from our first two days.Β Many, many more photos and memories to come, my friends πŸ˜‰

‘Til tomorrow … bis bald! And happy 2019!
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^^ Pure bliss with Auntie Kate,Β who will be here in five days and is staying with us for two months!Β However did we get so lucky?!

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^^ Did I deflate this ‘Welcome to Australia’ balloon and bring it back with us so that I could frame it for the girls as a keepsake of their first trip to Australia? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll never know. (Except that yeah, I definitely did.)

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^^ That Auntie Sarah is some kind of special β€” she always,Β always got the smiles out of our girls <3

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^^ Introducing the girls to Chris’ grandma was most definitely a major highlight of this trip <3

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^^ There were lots of other family members eager and excited to meet our littles, as well.

img_3496 (1)img_3494^^ On the second day, we threw Lotte in the car and headed off to a place referred to as ‘the tip,’ which is essentially a big ole’ garbage heap where the kangaroos hang out. Gross? Maybe. Amazingly fun and exciting, especially when you watch your 2.5-year-old see her first live kangaroos? Most definitely.

More on our adventures tomorrow, friends!

2018: A Year in Review

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Well friends, somehow β€” and I’m really not sure how β€” this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.

So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….

Continue reading “2018: A Year in Review”

A Trip Back East & Little Grace’s First Flight

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Happy Wednesday, friends! Lotte, Grace, Chris & I are back from a quick trip to Pennsylvania and New York, and we had the best time visiting with friends & family there. This was Grace’s first plane ride, and she did so great! Lotte was slightly antsy for about the last half hour of both rides there and back, but I guess that’s to be expected from an almost-two-year old, right? All-in-all I’d say they both did amazingly well.

We mostly flew back so that we could attend the second annual MS fundraiser that my sister and I threw in honor of our mom, which was a yoga session we held at Stone Wave Yoga in Gardner, NY. That event was amazingβ€”with about $1,500 raised and counting!β€”but we also tacked on visits with my dad and stepmom, Jen & Kev and the boys, my grandma and aunt and uncle and cousins. It was a lot of driving back and forth for the girls, but they are true travel champs, and I honestly think they had the best time. I know I did.

Here are some of the highlights from our five-day, quick trip back east.

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^^ This was Lotte’s 7th flight (14th, if you count back and forth!). Quite the little traveler for only almost-two πŸ˜‰

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^^ We picked up some kids’ pieces from the Love Taza Luggage Collection at Target for the trip, and while Lotte wasn’t sure about the headphones prior to the trip, she really seemed to enjoy them on the actual flight. The activity set was clutch, too!

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^^Mommom & Papa’s house hasΒ allllll the toys, so Lotte was one happy girl once we got there!

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^^ Saturday morning we had breakfast at my parents, then we packed up their car and headed to New York to stay at Steph and Brian’s for Saturday and Sunday.

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^^ This was the first time Grace met my Grandmother (along with most of my other extended family!), and it really was such a special day for me.

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^^ My grandmother with my children. I mean … it doesn’t get much more special than that <3

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^^ My grandmother with all three of her great-grandchildren!

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^^ Lotte is pretty obsessed with dogs lately, so getting to meet and hang out with Linus, my sister’s pup, was pretty fun for her, too.

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^^ A friend of mine from college brought her son, Jacob, to the fundraiser on Sunday, and he was born exactly one month after Grace. How cute are these two together?!

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^^ My girls, all dressed up for their grandma’s fundraiser.

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^^ We had such a beautiful day for our event on Sunday, and Stone Wave Yoga provided such an amazing backdrop.

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^^ Back at Mommom & Papa’s on Monday, we got to hang with Jen & Kev and the boys for dinner and a mini birthday celebration for me <3

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^^ These two! Jude was born about two months before Lotte, and he was the first baby Lotte met when Jen flew out to Colorado when Lotte was first born. I hope they are always bonded.

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