Last-minute Fall Getaways in Colorado Springs

IMG_9204
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. Here’s what we ended up spending:

The Money Rundown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

  1. Accommodation: We paid $302.95 for two nights, even though we only ended up heading over there on Saturday morning. We wanted to be sure we had an early spot to get to so the girls could nap and we could unwind a bit. We also paid an additional $50 to check out later on Sunday.
  2. Food: We spent $59 on brunch on the way into Colorado Springs, and then spent $72.03 on groceries when we got there. We also got Chipotle for dinner for ourselves on Saturday night, but we had a two-for-one entree card so that was only $8 — score 😉
  3. Transportation: One of the best things about going to a place where we’ve already been numerous times was the fact that we didn’t feel pressured to do too much. We had some plans to see some different things, but the place had its own little playground on our side of the house, and Sunday turned out to be a horrible windy and cold day, so we ended up just hanging around the house, playing in the backyard, and watching movies in front of the fire. Oh and also playing some of the fun vintage video games they had in the house, like Pac-Man.
  4. Entertainment: See above … we spent $0 on entertainment.

TOTAL: $483.98

IMG_9159
^^ On the way into Colorado Springs we stopped off in Parker for an early lunch. Lotte was actually born in Parker, and we passed by the hospital where I had her, which brought back oh-so-many memories 😉 We had never been to the downtown area of Parker, though, and it was adorable!

IMG_9160IMG_9152
^^ Brunch at La Petite Creperie was delightful and hilarious. We ordered a chocolate and banana crepe, a strawberries and creme one, a ham and gruyere and a salmon and cream cheese one. The girls barely touched the sweet ones, with Lotte opting for the ham one and Grace lovin’ up on the salmon one. Kids, man. Just when you think you have them figured out …

IMG_9153IMG_9156IMG_9158

IMG_9161^^ To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about this place when we first drove up. You park in the driveway of the owner’s home, and then the entrance to the cottage is around the back and to the side. We definitely did run into the owners twice, so if you’d prefer a spot with total privacy, this isn’t for you. If you don’t mind potentially running into the people who you’re renting from, however, then this place is wonderful.

IMG_9162
^^ Views from the backyard.

IMG_9163
^^ The private playground for the girls was definitely a perk!

IMG_9165
^^ As were the vintage games, like this Pac-Man!

IMG_9199IMG_9200IMG_9201IMG_9202IMG_9205IMG_9222
^^ Just down the road was a goat paddock, and you could walk right up to the fence where the goats were grazing. We went to check them out Sunday morning, but we only ended up staying a couple minutes because of the wind.

IMG_9223

And that was our quick little getaway in a nutshell, my friends. It was fairly relaxing (although hard to be too relaxed when you’re thinking about what’s going on back at your home!), and the place really was a lot of fun. I hope you’re all spending as much time outside during this fabulous fall as possible … and cheers to a brand new week!

Bis bald!

Frisco, Colorado for the Perfect Labor Day Weekend

Our family of four hiking near Frisco, Colorado

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.

Continue reading “Frisco, Colorado for the Perfect Labor Day Weekend”

Keeping National Parks Pristine, One Clean-Up Event at a Time

DSC_1055
Happy Thursday, friends, and happy almost holiday weekend! We’ll be heading to the mountains for a couple of days, but before we left I wanted to spread the word about an amazing initiative that was recently brought to my attention. The program — called Adventure Responsibly — is being spearheaded by Travelodge by Wyndham, and they hosted a cleanup event at Rocky Mountain National Park this past Tuesday. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the actual event (you know, kids and all), but I am here to make sure all you lovely readers know about future ones, in case there is one happening near you that you might be able to join.

Continue reading “Keeping National Parks Pristine, One Clean-Up Event at a Time”

The Source Hotel + Market Hall and a Bacchanal Celebration of All Things New Orleans

IMG_6030
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.

Continue reading “The Source Hotel + Market Hall and a Bacchanal Celebration of All Things New Orleans”

The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten

IMG_2463

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 BreezeLisa 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 😉

Continue reading “The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten”

A Girls’ Weekend in Nashville

IMG_1166
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.

Continue reading “A Girls’ Weekend in Nashville”

The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch

IMG_7623

Well, friends, it was a mountain kind of weekend, and we fell in love with a brand new one. Granby Ranch is less than two hours from us, but it’s a tiny little mountain town that, to be honest, we had never heard of before. We were looking for a mountain adventure to go on with Kate, though, and a quick search on Travelzoo found some pretty cheap lift tickets ($65 for the day! That’s unheard here in Colorado … ), so we thought we’d jump on it and explore a new place.

And I can’t overstate this enough: We loved it!

Continue reading “The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch”

A Day for Family Photos, a Sneaky Get Away in Mudgee & Our Final Days in Bathurst

img_4362

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.

img_4471
^^ All these cute Connor grandkids together makes my heart pretty happy <3

img_4361img_4425img_4426img_4427img_4451img_4459

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.

img_4508img_4529
^^ It’s not so hard leaving your kids when you know they’re in great hands.

img_4538img_4587img_4592img_4593img_4597img_4608img_4622img_4624img_4625
^^ 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.

img_4714 2img_4788
^^ This is potentially my favorite shot of the entire trip <3

img_4789img_4954img_4955img_4961img_4966img_5048

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!

2018: A Year in Review

IMG_1293

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 ….

Continue reading “2018: A Year in Review”

Great Sand Dunes National Park For an Epic Birthday Celebration

IMG_0369

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!

IMG_0020
^^ 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.

IMG_0021
^^ 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.

IMG_0022IMG_0023IMG_0024IMG_0025IMG_0027
^^ Colorado road trip roadside views = pretty epic.

IMG_0029IMG_0028
^^ Someone was less excited about the views 😉

IMG_0026
^^ 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.

IMG_0031IMG_0032
^^ Our Airbnb was made for Insty 😉

IMG_0034IMG_0068
^^ 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.

IMG_0080IMG_0081IMG_0082

I didn’t take any photos there, but we also visited San Luis Valley Brewing afterwards for drinks and dinner, which was super tasty.

IMG_0344
^^ 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).

IMG_0345IMG_0346IMG_0347
^^ 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.

IMG_0348IMG_0349IMG_0351
^^ Epic and amazing.

IMG_0352
^^ G slept during most of our Dunes adventure, but she did wake up in just enough time for some adorable pictures.

IMG_0353IMG_0354
^^ 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.

IMG_0356IMG_0357
^^ Sand babies <3

IMG_0358IMG_0359IMG_0365
^^ The dirt on Lotte’s face in this pic gets me every time!

IMG_0368IMG_0379IMG_0380IMG_0382IMG_0383IMG_0385IMG_0386IMG_0387IMG_0389IMG_0390
^^ It didn’t hurt that it was the height of fall for our trip, meaning the trees had all turned glorious shades of yellow.

IMG_0391IMG_0394

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.

IMG_0485IMG_0486
^^ These two <3

IMG_0487
^^ More roadside Colorado craziness. Chris actually took this picture from the car while I was driving, which I’d say is pretty impressive.

IMG_0492IMG_0494IMG_0495IMG_0496IMG_0497IMG_0498
^^ Heading into Eddyline … how cute is this little neighborhood?!

IMG_0499
^^ Not a bad lunch view.

IMG_0527
^^ This one, too <3

IMG_0529IMG_0528IMG_0530

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?!

Bis bald, friends!

A Birthday, Easter & End of Maternity Leave Celebration in Telluride

IMG_7949
Happy Monday/Easter/April/My Birthday, friends! Wowza it was a busy weekend, huh? On top of all of that, today, my birthday, is my last day of maternity leave.

I don’t want to talk about that, though :/

To celebrate, Chris & the girls and I packed up the car and headed about six hours southwest to Telluride, CO. It’s a place Chris and I have been wanting to check out since we moved here (you’ll see why in the photos below), and we figured what better way to celebrate all of the above (not to mention Grace’s first big trip!) with a tick off our bucket list?

So that’s what we did! We all loaded into the car and left the house around 9 a.m. on Thursday, on the way to our destination – this amazing little apartment in downtown Telluride. A note about our place: it was really awesome. The price was unbelievable for the location, and even though it was a railroad setup (meaning we had to walk through our bedroom and what turned out to be Grace’s bedroom to get to the living room/kitchen), it worked well for us. Plus the amazing window seat looking out onto the river made for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities (not to mention heart palpitations, since the windows opened all the way up and there were no screens), and you know I love me a good photo opportunity 😉

Anyway, on this trip we took some amazing walks, rode the gondola to Mountain Village, checked out the library (which is a must-visit for anyone who has kids, in my opinion), had a picnic, helped Lotte participate in an Easter egg hunt on the mountain (sort of. we were late and the eggs were all scooped up by the time we got there, but two awesome people who worked there hid some for her anyway), and just soaked up all the family time we possibly could. Lotte was teething something fierce on this trip, and she had a cold and we think maybe the altitude was bothering her, but she took it all in stride. (Other than waking up around 4 a.m. every. single. night. See one of my photos below for a favorite memory of mine from the trip, all thanks to Lotte’s inability to sleep.)

Here’s some of what we got up to!

IMG_7715
^^ These two never cease to amaze me. Like I mentioned before, it was more than six hours to our destination, and despite the long ride, they were both pretty amazing throughout the majority of it.

IMG_7770IMG_7832
^^ See what I mean about the window? How amazing is that view?! It was definitely Lotte’s favorite spot in the whole place.

IMG_7829IMG_7833IMG_7905
^^ Oh gorgeous Telluride – you really were spectacular.

IMG_7840IMG_7906IMG_7893IMG_7907IMG_7894IMG_7908IMG_7895IMG_7909IMG_7896IMG_7898IMG_7911IMG_7899IMG_7912IMG_7900IMG_7946IMG_7901IMG_7947IMG_7903IMG_7913
^^ Picnicing amongst the mountains … is there anything better? (Besides picnicing with cookies amongst the mountains, that is!)

IMG_7948IMG_7904IMG_7962
^^ As I mentioned, the library in Telluride is beyond amazing for kids. The kids’ section is humongous, with tons of toys and activities, and I think Lotte would have been happy to hang there all day.

IMG_7963

ORG__DSC9018

IMG_7964
^^ Tuckered out from her first day in Telluride 😉

IMG_7994

ORG__DSC9017.jpg
^^ And here is the moment I mentioned earlier — my favorite memory of the trip. After struggling through the night with teeth that ached and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, my little boo woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday and was, obviously, exhausted and frustrated and in pain. It took a bit of coaxing, but eventually I got her to lay down next to me on the window seat, where we promptly both fell asleep for about an hour and Chris snapped a shot. Oh man, how I love these kids. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mom.

IMG_8068IMG_8069IMG_7973IMG_8071
^^ On Saturday we hit up the gondola (G’s first gondola ride!) to check out Mountain Village, where we had lunch and took in the spectacular views. Bringing this easy-fold mini-stroller and the Beast was a stroke of genius courtesy of my husband. The Beast was essential for most of our mountain/trail walking, but on the paved paths in Mountain Village (and for riding on the gondola), this tiny, compact stroller (coupled with the Ergo for G) was definitely the way to go.

IMG_8072IMG_8073IMG_8077IMG_8139IMG_8082
^^ Lunch at Tomboy Tavern was well deserved for this guy, who spent the majority of the day carrying G and the baby book bag and pushing Lotte in the stroller. Lucky me <3

IMG_8142
^^ This face … turns me to mush every time. (Both of ’em.)

IMG_8143IMG_8144
^^ Lotte has ridden in a gondola before, but this was the first time she was old enough to actually notice what was going on. I think a small part of her was skeptical and maybe even a little scared, but she did eventually turn around to take it all in.

IMG_8075IMG_8146IMG_8237
^^ The Easter bunny made a stop by our little Telluride apartment!

IMG_8238IMG_8332IMG_8333IMG_8336
^^ Even though the egg hunt was meant to take place from 9-10, when we arrived at 9:30, most of the eggs had already been scooped up. Two super-sweet workers hid a couple extra eggs for Lotte to find, though, and another little girl even kindly offered to hide a few of her found eggs (sans the candy inside, of course), as well. Lotte didn’t quite understand the concept, but it was still really fun!

IMG_8335IMG_8337IMG_8338IMG_8340

And that was our trip in a nutshell, my friends! Of course there was way more that happened — like trying to eat out for dinner on Saturday night and being forced to do take-out instead due to a mini G freak-out. Overall, though, what I’ll take away from this trip, which encompassed a celebration of so many different things, is how amazingly close I felt to my little family afterwards. (More than 12 hours together in a cramped car will do that, I guess!) I’m lucky beyond belief to call these three my own, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures life brings our way.

Bis bald, friends! And happy April!

Thanksgiving 2017, and the Start of the Christmas Season

01Thanksgiving

Welp friends, somehow it has happened — Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are moving on to Christmas and the end of the year … and for this family, we’re gearing up for a brand new baby, as well!

Our Thanksgiving break started out great. My dad came out for a couple days to spend some time with us, we celebrated Thanksgiving over at my cousin’s house with her family, and then we spent the whole weekend (well, until Sunday), doing fun holiday things Lotte, since I’m obsessed with the fact that this will be her last three weeks (!) as an only child. Then, on Sunday, I unfortunately came down with the flu. My dad wasn’t feeling well when he left, and when he got home he found out he had the flu, which I promptly was diagnosed with the next day. Oh boy. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed over here that this goes quickly and that Lotte and Chris don’t get it as well. Please pray with us, friends, because we do not have a lot of time to spare before Baby C No. 2 arrives, and we have a lot to get done before then!

Anyway, let’s go back to remembering the fun times before the sickness descended. Here’s a couple of pics from our Thanksgiving, the Denver Zoo Lights we took Lotte to on Friday, and the gingerbread house we ate in at Wolf Creek Lodge in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

02Thanksgiving
^^ Lotte, my dad and I took a walk to the lake on Thanksgiving morning while Chris finished off his dishes to bring to my cousin’s for dinner. (Seriously gotta love a man who cooks!) It was in the 70s here on Thanksgiving day … can you believe that?!

03Thanksgiving04Thanksgiving05Thanksgiving06Thanksgiving
^^ I’ll be honest – this isn’t my favorite picture of me. But Lotte’s little had on my chest and her smile ?? I cannot.

07Thanksgiving08Thanksgiving09Thanksgiving
^^ Lotte fell in love with this art easel over at my cousin’s house. Guess we know what a good gift idea for the near future will be 😉

10Thanksgiving
^^ We didn’t have all the letters we needed for our message, but we made out pretty well with what we had 😉

11Thanksgiving
^^ Happy Thanksgiving, from our little family to yours!

My dad left early Friday, and Friday night we bundled up (though not too much, because it was in the upper 50s!) and headed over to the Denver Zoo Lights, which was a lot of fun. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect because technically the exhibit isn’t even open yet — this was just a preview — but it was packed! Still, the lights were so pretty, and we saw a lot of animals, too. Lotte enjoyed it, but I think she’ll especially love it next year when she’s a bit older.

IMG_9220
^^ Chris dressed Lotte like a candy cane to celebrate our first holiday event of the season 😉

IMG_9236IMG_9326IMG_9328IMG_9238IMG_9253IMG_9327IMG_9256
^^ My blurry loves <3

IMG_9329IMG_9330IMG_9331IMG_9332
^^ Lotte fell in love with the giraffes hard core, and it was kind of adorable. 

IMG_9334

The fun continued on Saturday when we checked out Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs. We played games in the arcade, ate dinner in a life-size gingerbread house (the proceeds of which go to the Ronald McDonald House charities), attended a dance party in the lobby with other kiddos and met (and hated!) Santa Claus. It was so much fun! I guess it’s just lucky that I didn’t start to get really sick until we got home, because I would have been super bummed to have missed any other part of our weekend plans.

IMG_9412IMG_9414IMG_9415
^^ How cute is this life-sized gingerbread house?! You need to make individual reservations to eat inside, and while we definitely felt a little like we were on display (you know, since it was in the middle of the hotel and little kids kept walking in to ask us questions about it!), it still was super fun. You could pick to eat off the menu from one of the hotel restaurants or just do the buffet, and we went with the buffet, which was a lot easier with a little one in tow. 

IMG_9416IMG_9427IMG_9445
^^ Poor Lotte … and poor Santa! He was a good sport, though! I could tell this encounter wasn’t going to be great as I started to hand Lotte over and she gripped onto me like she never has before. Oh well … maybe next year she’ll love him!

IMG_9446IMG_9447

And that was our Thanksgiving holiday bonanza in a nutshell, friends. Now I’m laid up in bed trying desperately to stay on top of work while Chris does the same as we juggle watching Lotte and trying to keep her from getting sick, all while getting ready for second baby to arrive in a few weeks. Life is crazy sometimes friends, am I right?

Bis bald, ya’ll!

Celebrating a Birthday With a Short Fort Collins Retreat

IMG_8283
Happy Monday, friends! Yesterday was Chris’ (ahem) 34th birthday … happy birthday, love! So in one of our favorite long-standing traditions, we went out of town for the weekend. While we were originally thinking of Telluride, driving that far meant Chris and I would both have to take a couple days off work, and at almost 8 months preggs, I can barely go 20 minutes without needing to pee, so something closer felt more realistic and do-able. We finally settled on Fort Collins, which is only about an hour away, but still felt like a nice getaway all the same.

(As you might recall, Chris’ birthday trip last year was our first trip to Steamboat Springs—now one of our fave places — as well as our first trip as a family of three. How fitting that this year’s birthday trip for Chris was likely our last trip as a family of three, since Brand New Baby C will be gracing us with her presence in mid-December!)

Anyway, back to Fort Collins. My good friend’s sister lives there, so I hit her up for recommendations, and she definitely came through for us. On Friday night we checked into our hotel (note: There are so many cute Airbnb places to stay on Fort Collins, but unfortunately I booked too late and they were either all sold out or ridiculously expensive, so we ended up just staying at a Best Western. It was fine for location and the free brekkie, but next time we’ll hope to plan ahead and stay at an Airbnb.) and then headed over to the Jessup Farm Artisan Village.  It’s a super cute little outdoor area with a bunch of shops and restaurants and a brewery. We checked out the Jessup Farm Barrel House for drinks (for Chris, not me) before dinner, then had dinner at The Farmhouse. The Barrel House was a lot of fun and had a festive atmosphere with games to play outside, and dinner at The Farmhouse was tasty, but the inside was all booked out with reservations and a big party, so we had to eat outside which was slightly chilly. Note to self: next time you want to eat here, make reservations ahead of time!

IMG_8177IMG_8175

IMG_8180
^^ This pretzel was every bit as delicious as it looks here. The one thing I’ll also note here is how friendly everyone in Fort Collins was. Twice we sat down at a table and had people join, and they were so lovely and nice and easy to talk to.

IMG_8178IMG_8176IMG_8195
^^ She kept this hat on for all of two seconds, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying to get her to keep it on all throughout dinner!

IMG_8179
On Saturday we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and jumped in the car for the 20 minute ride out to the Shoreline Trail to Horsetooth Reservoir. (It’s worth noting that there is a $7 fee to get into the park.) Colleen had noted that she did the hike earlier in the year with another pregnant friend (since I mentioned we were looking for something super easy, since I’m super slow these days!), and she was right that it was fairly flat, with only a modest incline for a short amount of the hike. Plus, the overall trail is less than 1.5 miles long, anyway, and it’s so scenic and beautiful, especially on a lovely fall day like we had.

It’s also worth noting that the drive out there took us along the Reservoir Ridge Trail as well, which was another hike Colleen had recommended and which was pretty even to drive along.

IMG_8193IMG_8278IMG_8282IMG_8293IMG_8280IMG_8281IMG_8284IMG_8285IMG_8286IMG_8288IMG_8287IMG_8291IMG_8289IMG_8290IMG_8292IMG_8294
After the hike I was craving cupcakes (yes, even after a 1.4-mile hike, so sue me!) so we headed into the downtown area to walk around and stop in at The Little Bird Bakeshop, where I actually didn’t end up getting cupcakes at all but did get a hot chocolate and a pumpkin whoppie pie and chocolate chip/macadamia nut bread to share.

After our little downtown break we hit up some breweries for Chris. First up was his new favorite haunt, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, which was super low-key and relaxing. (Well maybe not relaxing, per se. Is anything relaxing when you’re doing it with a toddler?!) Anyway, we loved it there so much we went back on Sunday. After H&D we met some of Chris’ friends over at New Belgium brewery, which was a whole crazy experience and like a world all by itself. A lot of people like New Belgium these days, and the popularity showed at the brewery, because it. was. bumpin’! Seriously – so crazy busy and crowded, and definitely not what we’re used to when it comes to breweries. Still, it was fun to see it and say we went, even if we never end up going back 😉

After that Lotte was getting a tad antsy, so we headed back to the hotel and ended up having take-out dinner from the steak restaurant right next to the hotel, Charco Broiler. Chris ordered his traditional birthday steak dinner, but by this point I was pretty full from all my snacking throughout the day, so I went with a veggie cobb salad. Lotte had spaghetti and proceeded to make as much of a mess as you properly can in a hotel room.

Oops 😉

IMG_8327IMG_8326IMG_8328IMG_8325IMG_8329IMG_8337
^^ Chillin’ with dad after a full day of fun!

IMG_8373

On Sunday (Chris’ birthday!) we tried to have breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Cafe, but judging from the line out the door it would have taken forever to get seated. So we headed back into town and to the Silver Grill Cafe, which still had a bit of a wait but was totally worth it for their legendary cinnamon buns, which do not disappoint!

IMG_8374IMG_8375
^^ Blood Mary’s for the birthday boy, of course!

IMG_8376
^^ See what I mean? Ah-mazing.

After breakfast we decided to check out the trails at the Environmental Learning Center which, while serene and idyllic, were not exactly stroller friendly :/ Oh well, lesson learned! Lotte had fallen asleep in the car on the ride over, so it wasn’t worth waking her up and the birthday boy has muscles of steel anyway, so he could handle it 😉

IMG_8405IMG_8406IMG_8411
^^ And yes, we did head back to Horse & Dragon after our walk to try to recreate the family photo we took at a brewery on Chris’ birthday last year and to grab one last beer for the birthday boy.

IMG_8412IMG_8432
^^ Family selfie success!

IMG_8433
^^ And one of just this face, because … come on <3

And that was it. Happy, happy birthday to the man who makes the most amazing father, husband and friend that a gal could ask for. We sure do love you, Chris <3

Bis bald, friends!

Quick Vail Visits With Best Friends

IMG_7341
Happy October, friends! My friend Lisa came for a visit last week and it was so splendid. We actually headed to Vail for a quick overnight getaway on Sunday, where we stayed at Antlers and ordered food and walked around the adorable town and chatted and basically had a blast. An early fall snowstorm coated the ground in snow, which made it all the more beautiful and festive, if not somewhat scary to drive home in :/  We made it, though, and the trip was definitely worth the trek!

IMG_7316 (1).JPG
^^ This photo is blurry, but I love it. Lisa & I have so much fun together, always. I seriously hope Lotte and new Baby C find friends like her in their own lives …

IMG_7342
^^ The view from our balcony. I would highly recommend Antlers – it’s close to a bunch of shops and restaurants and has a free shuttle to take you into the other section of town. We had a huge kitchen and living area with a fireplace, plus a balcony with a grill. We didn’t use the pool or hot tub area, but it looked glorious, as well.

IMG_7355IMG_7357IMG_7358IMG_7371IMG_7396
^^ Lisa took this shot on our porch – oh hello, third trimester! This pregnancy is seriously flying by, so I’m hoping to slow down a bit this season and savor the final few weeks of it (11, to be exact!) … as if that’s possible 😉

IMG_7529IMG_7530IMG_7531IMG_7532

IMG_7394
^^ While Lisa & I were livin’ it up in Vail, Lotte had a fun little day date with her dad on Monday. He took her to the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, which I think may have actually been more of a trip for Chris than for Lotte 😉 (Chris’ obsession with tarantulas borders on the insane … ) Look at this fun lunch he packed for Lotte for their little outing, though – how cute?!

We spent the rest of the week at home, taking walks, making trips to the playground, cooking delicious foods (well, Lisa cooked, I ate), and Chris & I even snuck out to the Red Rocks Thursday night for a date to see The Shins, which was amazing.

IMG_7402IMG_7439IMG_7436IMG_7443IMG_7445IMG_7482IMG_7519IMG_7533IMG_7534
^^ The Shins were amazing — such a good show! Thanks for letting us play hooky for a night, Lisa!

IMG_7535IMG_7520
^^ Three (ice cream) cheers to besties and the amazing times we have with them. Please come back soon, Loo, we miss you!

Amongst the Towering Sequoia Trees

01 SequoiaEntrance

Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.

Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?

Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!

So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!

Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.

02_Sequoia03_Sequoia04_Sequoia05_Sequoia06_Sequoia07_Sequoia08_Sequoia09_Sequoia10_GeneralSherman
^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉

11_GeneralSherman
^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!

12_GeneralSherman13_SequoiaNight14_SequoiaNight15_SecondDaySequoia16_CongressTrail18_CongressTrail19_CongressTrail20_CongressTrail21_CongressTrail22_CongressTrail23_GeneralSherman
^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …

24_Meadow25_Meadow26_CarTree

And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.

On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!

Final Summer Weekends in the Mountains

IMG_5804Hi friends,

I know, I know – there are still weeks left in summer, but to me, everything is already changing. The kids are back in school here. It’s chilly in the mornings. There’s lots of talk of snowboarding and skiing. I don’t know – it’s been a good summer, but I’m actually ready for the fall.

Late summer/early fall is one of my favorite times to visit the mountains, and we spent a lovely couple of days this past weekend in Beaver Creek and Frisco. We got a great deal to stay at the amazing Beaver Creek Lodge on Travelzoo, so we packed up the car and headed out. Even though we didn’t arrive until around 11 on Saturday, we packed it in. We checked out and had lunch (and gelato, of course) in the village, took a hike, Lotte & Chris swam in the pool (which they had all to themselves and Lotte was obsessed with!) and we went out to dinner. It was a really great day.

On Sunday we stopped at the Frisco Marina Park on our way home, took a little walk and grabbed lunch in town at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe. All-in-all it was a great way to spend a weekend. Hope you guys had a good one, too, and are gearing up for some fun Labor Day plans! We’ll be getting ready for our trip to California next week (San Francisco, Sequoia and Yosemite! We’re so excited!), so it’ll be all packing and cleaning for us here. (Although we may try to at least take in the local parade.)

Have a great week, friends!

IMG_5809
^^ My sister got Lotte this onesie before she was even born, and it’s by far the outfit she’s worn the most in her life!

01_Town02_Town_DSC8498_DSC8499
^^ The ice skating rink behind this statue was closed during the day, but they actually opened it up at night when we came back for dinner. If I weren’t almost six month preggers I would have been all over that!

_DSC8505_DSC8506_DSC8507_DSC8508_DSC8509_DSC8519_DSC852303_TownIMG_5833