Welcome to Friday, friends! This week felt … long! As I mentioned in this post about returning to normal, the more things we tack on to our calendar, the more time just flies by. Seriously. End of June, where did you come from? Summer? What happened to Spring?! But I digress.
The biggest thing we have coming up — other than Father’s Day this weekend … happy early Dad’s Day to all your wonder fathers and father-figures out there! — is our road trip out east, which commences next Thursday. I will be using this weekend to do all. the. things. That includes making approximately 1,000 lists and ticking each and every thing off methodically as I go along. Any other list-makers out there? It’s the only way I can seem to get everything done these days! (This Smarter Travel packing list is a good place to start …) I’ll head back over here soon to list out our actual plan for the trip — kid-friendly (hopefully!) stops we’ll be making on the way out and back, what we actually packed, etc. — but for now I wanted to hop on and say happy Friday/happy weekend/happy Father’s Day/happy Summer/and happy Juneteenth! However and whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope you make it a great one.
Happy almost summer, friends! This year we have … plans?! For things to do?! And how crazy does that feel after the year and a half we’ve all just had? I mean honestly, a friend of mine mentioned that after she got her first shot she expected balloons to fall from the ceiling and a marching band to play. Obviously that didn’t happen, but what did happen was that we’ve started, slowly, to return to what our life looked like pre-Covid.
It definitely took me a while to get into the swing of things, but I’ve now gotten my hair done, we’ve had dinner at an indoor restaurant and guests and playdates at our home. We’ve started to open our lives back up, and while that’s awesome and amazing and wonderful, there’s a small part of me that still longs for the quiet days. The older girls are in summer camp from now until school starts in the fall, Lotte has started track and we have a monster road trip planned from Colorado out to New York (and back!) to see family we haven’t seen in more than a year, to head to the beach for a couple of days and to attend a wedding.
All of this feels … almost too good to be true. And while I’m grateful to be able to do these things — see our family, most importantly — I’m also staring at our (overfilled) calendar and remembering the days when there was nothing on it but to hang.
So I propose a challenge, dear friends, to bring back the things that give you joy in your life when you feel comfortable doing so, but to also say NO to more things that don’t. That’s a tough thing to do — especially when it involves keeping your littles from doing things — but for me, at least, I think that’s the only way I’ll stay sane as we dip our toes back into life.
Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a little nuts around here lately, so when our realtor recommended that we go away for the weekend while she had our open houses to sell our home (yes … we’re selling our first-ever family home … and that’s all I have to say about that for now), I really balked at the idea. We’ve been so busy, and the girls have been sick, and all I really wanted to do was lay in my own bed all weekend (obviously not an option anyway) with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.
But we decided to go away, since leaving the house on the spur of the moment for hours a time for showings didn’t sound like much fun either … and at the end of the day, I’m glad we did. It was nice to get a little breather away from the house (which has been the center of a lot of our stress, to be honest) and to spend some time in the mountains in fall. We ended up booking this place in Colorado Springs, which was actually part of a larger home in a gorgeous neighborhood, but we had our own entrance and it was completely cut off from the rest of the house, so it ended up being really nice.
Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a happy (and hopefully relaxing) holiday weekend. Chris & I took our lot to the mountains for a little getaway in Frisco, Colorado. We had only been there once before when we stopped for breakfast on our way back from Beaver Creek two summers ago, and I made a mental note back then that we would have to come back and stay for longer. Plus, spending one of the final summer weekends in the mountains seemed like a good way to top off a summer of adventures.
My husband and his friend from New York have started a tradition of hiking 14ers, or mountains that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation, and this past weekend they took on the task of hiking Quandry Peak. Colorado has a lot of 14ers, and there are usually multiple ways you can get to the top, including hiking, mountain biking and, sometimes, even driving. (We did this for my birthday back in April when we visited Pikes Peak.) Needless to say, hiking a 14er isn’t on my Colorado Bucket List, so I’m glad that Chris has found a companion in Gavin to tackle these adventures.
I asked Chris to do a little write-up about the trip. Here’s what he had to say:
Happy Monday, friends! This past weekend I was hosted by The Source Hotel + Market Hall, where I got to stay in a King suite (and soak in the glorious tub), shop at Market Hall, eat at their different restaurants and attend Bacchanal, a New Orleans-style wine, food and music festival that was held in the parking lot of The Source. Besides the fact that having a full weekend in a hotel all by myself was glorious (love you Chris & kids!), it was also a great opportunity to see all the ways that this particular Denver neighborhood — called RiNo — is really developing.
Happy Monday, friends! We spent the weekend in the Albany area for my cousin’s wedding, and it was, without a doubt, the most gorgeous wedding I have ever attended. The M&D Farm describes itself as a rustic chic farm for barn and garden weddings, and every one of those words describes the exact atmosphere of Alyssa’s stunning day. Although it poured right before the ceremony and they had to move that part inside, the rain stopped just in time for cocktail hour and for the rest of the night, so we could wander around and check out the grounds. We also rented a house in a town near the ceremony that had a pool and lake and lots of land for the girls to run around on, so all-in-all it was a pretty successful and fun weekend.
Happy Thursday, friends! Our New York adventures continued yesterday with a trip into the Big Apple. Lotte had been once before when she was about four months old, but this was Grace’s first time, and I think we packed in just about as much fun as a 3-year-old and 19-month-old can handle for a day 😉 My stepdad drove in with us, which was lovely, and we met Chris in the UES, since he was coming back from a work trip in San Francisco on the red eye.
Happy Monday, friends — I hope you all had fabulous weekends! The fam and I made a new tradition on Saturday by hitting up the Lavender Festival at the Chatfield Farms branch of the Denver Botanic Gardens. We had been here once before (for their Christmas celebration last year), and we were super impressed then, but that event was a night so we didn’t get to fully partake in the glory that is Chatfield Farms.
Happy Thursday, friends! So my research for a fun new client continued today with a visit by myself and the girls to Lair o’ the Bear Park. We had actually tried to do this hike a couple months back, but by the time we got there, the parking lot was completely full and there were tons of cars waiting, and with two antsy little girls in the back seat, it didn’t make sense to wait it out.
I mean … G is barely even in this photo, but you get the gist — Colorado is amazing in the summer, and summer is right around the corner! I mean, it’s pretty amazing all of the time, but the summer is a great time to check out the mountains, lakes, hikes, breweries … and everything in between.
To help you out if you happen to be in the hood, here are a few of our fave hangouts when the weather gets warmer:
Happy new week, friends! I just returned from a wonderful press trip to Massanutten Resort in Virginia, which is about a 20 minute drive from where I went to college at James Madison. This trip was so much fun, not only because the resort itself is full of any and every activity you could ever want (more on that later), but also because I got to meet up with my dearest girlie bestie for it, and we were able to take a pit stop at JMU on the way to Massanutten, as well. Top on our list of places to hit for our quick college reunion were our old Mexican food fave, El Charro, as well as ice cream at Kline’s and a quick walk by the quad to visit the James Madison statue and the offices of our old college paper, The Breeze. Lisa and I could not stop talking about how our love for journalism began in those tiny Breeze offices … as well as our love for each other 😉
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 — sans children! — 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.
That right there is most certainly the picture of two very happy mamas. Why? Well because, as I’ve come to discover, finding the time to hang with your girlfriends — just you and your girlfriends — is just as important after you have babies (maybe even more so?) as it was before.
I say this as someone who waited almost three full years after becoming a mom to do so.
Carla and I began planning for this past weekend’s trip to Nashville in February, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. Besides the fact that Nashville itself is adorable (which pretty much everyone knows by now, but I had never been before), I got to remember what it was like to travel on my own (no screaming babies!), to sleep through the night, to have an uninterrupted conversations, to dress up and do my hair and stay out past 7 p.m.
Happy Monday, friends! This past Sunday, my sister-in-law and I decided to try our hand at a day date in the tiny mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado. Evergreen is about 40 minutes away from us, and we pass the exit every time we head to the mountains. I’ve been wanting to check the area out pretty much ever since we moved here, and Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Happy Tuesday, friends! Grace and I returned yesterday from our first-ever solo mom-daughter trip, and we had a blast! I’ve taken Lotte out to New York by myself twice in the past, and although it’s always a ton of work (major shout-out to all the single parents out there … oh my gosh is it exhausting!), I always have the best time bonding one-on-one with the girls individually.
This time Grace and I flew out to New York so that we could attend my sister’s two baby showers, one of which was actually in Pennsylvania. We got to hang with so much family, and Grace got to be the sole recipient of so many cuddles and kisses … plus she didn’t have to share her toys with anyone, which was a huge plus in her book! My sister had Monday off last week anyway, but then she ended up having snow days on both Tuesday and Thursday and she got out early on Wednesday, so all-in-all it was a great week to be visiting.
After the three hour drive on Friday from Bathurst to Sydney, we were happy to relax for the remainder of the day and swim in the fam’s amazing pool, while later in the evening Chris & I left the girls with Nan and Chris’s aunt and cousin so a couple of us could go see a cricket match – my first! I also got to see the Olympic Stadium, which was pretty cool, and eat fish and chips, which I am always on board for 😉
^^ The Australian Olympic Stadium, which was pretty impressive in real life!
^^ Just about the best, most fun ladies ever to hang with.
^^ Cricket! Chris’s family spent pretty much the entire game explaining to me how everything works, and by the end I almost understood! (Although don’t quiz me, because I will definitely fail!) Either way, it was really fun to watch the game with everyone, and it was a close game, too, which made it even better.
^^ And then there were fish and chips 😉 And beer. All the beer. (Actually I had cider, but still, you get the point.)
The next day it was on to one of my absolutely favorite places in Australia — the Koala Park Sanctuary. Chris and I visited this place with his parents on my first trip to Australia, and I will never, ever forget the feeling of being able to actually touch a koala and feed a kangaroo! Now to be honest, in the nine years since that first visit, the park has gotten a little run down. Everyone was so nice to come with us on our little koala park adventure to see Lotte and Grace with the kangaroos and koalas, but honestly, this is definitely not a spot you’ll find the locals. Still, I say, it’s totally worth it. Of course G was far too young to understand anything, but the look on Lotte’s face was priceless, and I’d like to believe that somewhere in the back of her brain, she’ll remember. Actually, she had a lot of fun feeding the emus with Nan and Poppa, as well, so that was also fun! I had forgotten how many additional animals were at this place (because, koalas! and kangaroos!), so we ended up staying about two hours there.
Time well spent, I’d say.
^^ The kangaroos weren’t all that interested in being fed the day we showed up, but seeing them this close up was cool enough on its own.
^^ Feeding the emus with Nan! What did I tell you — look at that face!
^^ And, of course, the reason we’re all here … to pat the koalas! I think Lotte was somewhere between amused and confused, but whatever it was she was thinking, it was pure adorable to watch.
^^ Absolutely love, love, love this crew, and everything they did for us to make everything on our stay so special.
Not even two full days into our stay in Sydney and we had accomplished quite a bit, including the Koala Park and the cricket game and swimming and playing and oh-so-much fun on top of fun on top of fun. My final post about our epic Aussie trip will be tomorrow, and I’ll share our beach visits and all the final things we did with the fam.
Starting to round up these blog posts is making me actually realize that the trip is over … and how exactly did that happen?! For all the planning and stressing and prepping we do for our vacations, suddenly, just like that, they are over.
Unless, like me, you blog about every last detail and share way too many photos so that you can relive them over and over and over and over again.
I mean, could this family be any cuter? The answer is no. No, they could not.
The day after Boxing Day, the Connor Clan headed over to a park in Bathurst to take some professional family photos. Of course waiting for professional photos to arrive really isn’t my thing, so you know I had to snap a couple of my own.
^^ All these cute Connor grandkids together makes my heart pretty happy <3
While there were a bunch of things that Chris and I were excited for when it came to this trip, one of them definitely was taking a night away, just the two of us. Believe it or not, Chris and I had not been away together just the two of us since we had kids, and I have only ever been away from Lotte for one night, and never from Grace.
In other words, some time away was definitely overdo.
So after our family photo day, Chris and I packed up and headed over to Mudgee, which was about two hours from Chris’ parents house. We stayed at the Parklands Resort & Conference Centre and took a wine tour with Country Escape Tours, where we visited three wineries, one distillery and a cheese making company. The town of Mudgee was so cute, and the wine tour was really intimate and fun. Unfortunately we did return to a pretty sick Lotte (the next day after we got back was when we brought her to Urgent Care), but sickness aside, it was really nice to take the time away.
^^ It’s not so hard leaving your kids when you know they’re in great hands.
^^ We headed out to Mudgee Brewing Co for dinner the night we were in town. They had live music and we ate outside in their pretty garden and I had a delicious shrimp salad. It was pretty great, friends.
After we returned and took a couple days to get Lotte checked out and feeling better, we spent our last couple of days in Bathurst ringing in the New Year with Chris’s parents and brother and his wife, taking laps around Mount Panorama with the girls and having a picnic in the lovely Cook Park in Orange with Chris’s grandma.
^^ This is potentially my favorite shot of the entire trip <3
And that takes us pretty much through what I think of as the first part of our trip. After Christmas and New Years in Bathurst and Mudgee, we packed up the car and headed back to Sydney to spend our final couple of days in Australia staying at Chris’s aunt’s place, and then his uncle’s, and touring around all the best parts of Sydney, according to us seasoned pros. I’ll take you through our final couple days in two more posts, but until then, bis bald!
Well friends, somehow — and I’m really not sure how — 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 ….
Happy Tuesday, friends! Chris & the girls & I got back yesterday from a weekend away in Alamosa, where we stayed at the adorable 40 Winks Inn and visited Great Sand Dunes National Park. We only found out about the Great Sand Dunes over the summer when a cousin of mine was visiting Denver with her family and they went to see them. Chris really wanted to plan a visit for his birthday, and I’m so glad we did. They are the tallest dunes in North America and are surrounded by grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. It’s honestly, truly magnificent. And although Lotte originally referred to them as a “big pile of dirt,” I think she honestly had the most amazing time sandboarding with Chris and just playing in the sand in general. We had the most glorious weather, packed a picnic, and even did a little off-roading afterwards.
Colorado, you are one beautiful state, and you never cease to amaze us.
So, are you ready for lots of photos of sand? Well good, then you won’t be disappointed!
^^ These ladies were the most amazing travel buddies on the four-hour ride. We were a little nervous about Lotte and the whole potty situation, but she only had one accident, and honestly it was our fault because we should have been paying closer attention. Overall, we were so impressed with these little travel warriors.
^^ We stopped in Bueno Vista and had sandwiches at Biggies Sub Shop, which turned out to be way delicious and the perfect little half-way pit stop.
^^ How cute was our Airbnb, 40 Winks? And how cute is little Lotte, making herself right at home on her potty! There were two bedrooms in the space, but there was also a Queen bed in the living room around the corner, so it was perfect because Chris and I just slept there and gave each of the girls their own room. It was a great little spot, and only two blocks from Main Street which, while very small, had some nice restaurants and breweries.
^^ Our Airbnb was made for Insty 😉
^^ Our first stop after rolling in on Saturday was Square Peg Brewerks on Main Street, where Lotte made the cutest little friend, fell in love with a dog and had the best time playing cornhole.
I didn’t take any photos there, but we also visited San Luis Valley Brewing afterwards for drinks and dinner, which was super tasty.
^^ Sunday was the big day. After renting a sandboard and a sandsled from Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, we headed to the Dunes, which was about a half hour from Alamosa. Our first stop was the visitor center, which small enough to not feel totally intimidating but had all the info you could possibly want about how the Dunes form (the Medano Creek brings the sand down, and the wind blows it back up … in a nutshell).
^^ This studmuffin carried the sandboard, sandsled and our 2-year-old in her hiking backpack up the mountain of sand. I had G strapped to me and I was huffing and puffing. We only went to the closest dune before plunking down and having Chris take Lotte on some sled rides, but still, it was enough for me to know that anything further would have been really, really hard to do. One note about the sandboarding – Chris didn’t love it. I guess he was hoping it would be somewhat similar to snowboarding … but it’s not. Oh well, lesson learned, and at least he tried.
^^ Epic and amazing.
^^ G slept during most of our Dunes adventure, but she did wake up in just enough time for some adorable pictures.
^^ We weren’t exactly sure how Lotte would take to sand sledding (she doesn’t necessarily love getting dirty) … but she loved it! Every time they got to the bottom she’d squeal, “More, again!” And even though she had dirt flying into her face, eyes and mouth the entire ride, she always enjoyed it. I was actually quite proud of my gal.
^^ Sand babies <3
^^ The dirt on Lotte’s face in this pic gets me every time!
^^ It didn’t hurt that it was the height of fall for our trip, meaning the trees had all turned glorious shades of yellow.
After a full day at the Sand Dunes, we headed back to our place and chilled for the rest of the night, made dinner and let the girls rest. It was really the perfect first day at the Dunes, and I hope we get back some time soon.
Monday was Chris’s actual birthday, but we had to pack up and head back to Arvada … but not before stopping in Buena Vista again, but this time at Eddyline Restaurant on South Maine, which turned out to be so adorable and picturesque.
^^ These two <3
^^ More roadside Colorado craziness. Chris actually took this picture from the car while I was driving, which I’d say is pretty impressive.
^^ Heading into Eddyline … how cute is this little neighborhood?!
^^ Not a bad lunch view.
^^ This one, too <3
And that was our trip, friends! For a place that we never knew existed before a few months ago, it was pretty amazing how beautiful it was and how much fun we had. Plus, you just know we love ticking National Parks off our bucket list! This was Lotte’s fourth National Park (Yosemite, Sequoia and Rocky Mountain being the other three), and G’s second, so we hope to keep up the tradition with them and tick some more off the ole’ list soon.
And also, how are we almost in November already?! In other travel news, we booked our trip to Australia for Christmas last weekend, and we even have a couple hours of a layover in Vancouver on our way out, which Chris is very excited about. I’m a little nervous about the flight, I can’t lie, but here’s hoping everything goes smoothly … or as smoothly as it possible can with a 2.5 and 1-year-old … right?!
Happy Tuesday, friends! The above video is of my little Weary Wanderer, about to explore her world. We just got back from a trip East for a whole bunch of fun reasons. We celebrated my sister’s 30th birthday (only a month early, no big deal), visited with my Grandma, saw all the cousins, and of course, ticked one big thing off Lotte’s bucket list – seeing the Statue of Liberty in person.
I don’t know how it started, really, other than the fact that Lotte has about five New York City books, but she has really become obsessed with the Statue of Liberty, and it’s the most adorable thing ever. So, when we flew into Newark, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. It was a really fun time for us, and Lotte was so in awe. It’s definitely something Chris and I will never forget.
The rest of the weekend was amazing, as well. We spent two days at a mountain house that a friend of ours was renting near Woodstock, and Lotte had an amazing time playing in the pool and running around with my friend’s daughter, and Grace had the best time playing with her son, who is one month younger. We also visited a whole bunch of new locations (like Weeds Orchard and Brown Barn Farms) and on Sunday, we met up with Robert for breakfast at Chadwick Lake Park before hiking a trail near the lake that was built and dedicated to my Mom by an Eagle Scout neighbor of hers. They had been close and he was so upset when she passed, that this was something he wanted to do for her. The trail was beautiful, and being there with the girls meant so much to me. I’m glad this place will be there to be able to take the girls for years to come.
Here’s a bit of what our trip looked like …
^^ Lots of photos even before we left airport, because that’s what a one-hour delay will do to you.
^^ And there she is, in all her glory! Lotte literally whispered “Statue of Liberty!” when she first saw her … she was so blown away. We spent about two hours at the park, which is so amazing, and let the girls run around and get some energy out before heading on over to my sister’s.
After spending the night at Steph’s on Wednesday, we headed to Woodstock to hang with Carla and her daughter and son at their summer house. It was so much fun to spend time with them, playing in the pool, barbecuing, drinking and chatting.
^^ This moment where we spotted a frog in the grass and let Lotte hold it was pretty special to me, too. The extent of her knowledge about frogs up to that point had been seeing them in books and knowing that they say, “ribbit, ribbit.” To watch her see and touch one in real life was a super fun moment.
^^ This crew <3
^^ Linus and Grace were having a little love affair with each other all weekend long, and it was kind of the cutest.
^^ Brown Barn Farms was the cutest little spot! The drinks were good, the view was glorious, and the food truck served up some tasty dinner, too.
^^ Heading out to Aunt Stephie’s early birthday party at Weeds Orchard with the fam.
^^ On Sunday morning we met Robert at Chadwick Lake Park to have a quick breakfast and then head over to the trail that was built in my Mom’s memory. It was a great day.
^^ This is such a crazy picture for me. So this tree is a part of a larger tree that used to live near my old elementary school, Balmville School, and this was the Balmville Tree. It was the oldest tree in the U.S., and when it started to rot, they decided to preserve parts of it and put it in Chadwick Lake Park as a memorial. I hadn’t seen it in this spot before, though, and to see my daughter standing in a tree that is so synonymous with my childhood, it was a little surreal.
^^ Love, love, love this crew <3
^^ And later in the day it was back to my sister’s to meet up with my Grandma and have a little barbecue before we headed out super early on Monday morning.
And that was our trip in a nutshell. It went by super fast and was jam packed, but the girls had a really great time, I think, and I loved spending that quality time with all the people we were able to see. Trips back east are always busy, but they’re also always amazing, and being able to bring my girls along for the ride … it really means so much to me.
The plane ride back home was not our best, since both girls were entirely exhausted and yet not interested in sleeping (Grace napped for about 20 minutes and Lotte not at all), but we pulled out the big guns with all the toys and books and snacks and “TV School Bus” (aka videos), and we made it through.
And just like that, we were back in good ole’ Denver. And also just like that, it’s almost September?! How in the how did that happen? I do love Fall, though, and we have our big Australia trip to look forward to, so big, good, fun things ahead, my friends.
I hope you all have had wonderful summers, and until the next time … bis bald!
Happy July, friends! Our summer of insanity is still in full swing over here! We’ve had guests upon guests upon guests … and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Over the July 4th holiday we welcomed Chris’ aunt and uncle and their three kids from Australia, while the fabulous Auntie Kate was still on the tail end of her trip out, as well. We did all the things while this troop was here, which has been a lot of fun. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately …
^^ We checked out Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison on what turned out to be a very, very hot day. It’s a bit of an uphill trek to reach the dinosaur footprints, but once you get there it’s actually really, really cool. There are tons of geological stops along the way, too.
^^ I’m sorry, but Colorado backdrops are hard to beat.
^^ We rented some kayaks on Lake Standley behind our house the second day after the family arrived. We did this last year with Lotte, too, and even though she still wasn’t too sure about the life jacket situation, this year she seemed to enjoy the overall activity much more!
^^ We even took in a baseball game with the Aussie clan, and while the kids seemed to enjoy the game, it was mostly the junk food that kept them in the seats, I’d say 😉
^^ Nothing more American than baseball and Coors Light!