Birthday Bashin’ for Chris in Colorado Springs – Part One

Say cheese, it’s almost your birthday!

Happy Monday, friends! We just got back from spending Chris’ birthday weekend in Colorado Springs, where we stayed at this Airbnb in Old Colorado City, to be exact.

Even though we’ve been to Colorado Springs a number of times (like this special trip, for example), we had never stayed in this part of town, or done the activities that we came to do this past weekend.

Let me start by saying, our Airbnb was magnificent. The place itself was very nice, newly remodeled, etc., but really, it’s the location that sets this place apart. It’s right across the street from a great park (which just happened to be the main stage of the town’s adorable fall fest on Saturday afternoon with live music, face painting, plant potting and more), and is right on the main street, making it walking distance to tons of restaurants, bars and activities. The places that we visited on our stay included:

This is a long list for having only been there for two nights and one full day, but even so, there were so many other fun places we wanted to try! (And hopefully will, sans kids, one day.)

Grace is me when it comes time to pick treats … GIVE ME THEM ALL, PLEASE!
Even Emilia got a vegan chocolate treat to devour πŸ˜‰
Air throws are all the rage these days <3
We grabbed breakfast early on Saturday and took a quick walk in town before heading for the main attraction of the day. These sweetest little farm owners were setting up their stand for the fall festival later in the day and gave the girls each a free pumpkin β€” what a fun way to start the day!
My favorite pictures are the ones that girls request, like Lotte, with this one πŸ˜‰

The main reason we picked this particular Airbnb, though β€” even though all the other perks were top-notch once we arrived β€” was its proximity (about seven minutes) to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. These ancestral Puebloan Ruins date back 800 to 1000 years, and they’re so well preserved that you can walk and explore in them which, naturally, the girls were obsessed with. It was so fascinating learning about their way of life, and it really makes you realize how smart they were, especially given the fact that their habitats are still standing today despite having so little to work with.

I mean … incredible.
These cuties LOVED exploring! (Chris, too .. hah.)
Hi!
Never goes anywhere without her tiger these days <3
The surrounding area is so picturesque, too.
These two.
The museum did a great job explaining more about the daily lives these people led. Not entirely sure Lotte should have put her tiger inside the fake fire pit, but sometimes ya gotta pick your battles.
Emilia loved it, too!
Love a good stranger pic!

After spending a few hours at the cliff dwellings, we headed back to our Airbnb and spent some time on our front porch listening to the live music of the fall festival before heading over to partake in the festivities.

It was Emilia’s first “concert,” and she was HERE. FOR. IT!

After a couple hours at the festival, some down time, some snackin’, and a partial viewing of The Addams Family (for me and Chris, not the girls, although I do think they would actually find it hilarious), we hit the streets again to check out The Michael Garman museum, which turned out to be even more fun than I imagined. Michael Garman was a sculptor who created Magic Town, a square-foot miniaturized neighborhood with hand-made buildings and sidewalk scenes, which became The Michael Garman Gallery and Magic Town Museum with more than 500 of his sculptures.

Emilia was fascinated!
The older girls were enraptured.
Chris and I were pretty impressed, too!

After the museum we hit up Westside Cantina for Chris’ birthday dinner, complete with multiple tacos and multiple margh’s …

One of everything please …
Emilia also approved πŸ˜‰

And that was the gist of our Saturday, the day of Chris’ birth. It was so much fun, and the girls had a blast. Sunday was another adventure, but I’ll get into more on that tomorrow. For now … bis bald, friends! I hope the fall is treating you well <3

Royal Gorge and CaΓ±on City, Colorado With Kiddos

The secret to smiling faces? Skittle bribes, all dang day long.

Happy August, friends! The month started out on not such a great foot for us, so we weren’t in our normal headspace when heading out on this quick getaway. (Well okay, I wasn’t!) At the end of the day I’m so glad we did go. It’s always a good idea to take some time to get out of your own head, recognize what’s so special about your life, bond with your kids, show them new things and, as one friend put it, nature is always healing πŸ˜‰

The Details

Lodging (Price: $692 for 3 nights)

We stayed at this Airbnb in CaΓ±on City, which was a sweet little three-bedroom place with a large dining area and kitchen. It might have been a tad overpriced for the location (it was about 20 minutes from the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, which was our main point of interest for this trip), but we still had a blast. It was all one floor (no scary stairs for littles!), and the layout actually allowed us to put Emilia in her Pack and Play at the back of the house so Lotte and Grace could have separate rooms if they needed them (which one night they did).

The backyard was cute, too, with a grill and little table area under a covered patio, where we grilled out and had dinner on our final night.

Entertainment

The kids have a book called Good Night Colorado, and the Royal Gorge Bridge makes an appearance as one of the MUST SEE places in Colorado. When we were planning a final farewell to summer trip (the girls start school on August 16th!), we knew we didn’t want to go any farther than 2.5 hours (exactly how far Royal Gorge is from us), but that we wanted adventure on a low-key, kid-friendly level which, despite the RIDICULOUS photos, the Royal Gorge offers.

This is an amazing place for families … as long as no one is afraid of heights! Travel tip: Most of the attractions, the playground and the visitors center, etc., open at 10 a.m., but the bridge itself is open at 8 a.m., and tickets are cheaper then. (We paid $83 for the four of us over 2 years of age.)

There was also no one there early in the morning, which was delightful, and the weather was so lovely. By the time we ended up leaving around 10:30, it was getting pretty busy and incredibly hot. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been the amazing experience it was if we waited until 10 a.m. to get there.

As it was, we had the best time.

Grace and her insects πŸ˜‰ She was besides herself to find two HUGE butterflies on the way in!
Despite our children’s faces here, we all had fun <3
Makin’ herself right at home <3
Man, oh man.
This girl was spottin’ tiny green frogs in the grass and slithery lizards running in the opposite direction. She’s a gem at this age, and so easy to please!
Feeding the fish.
They have every kind of adventure activity you could imagine here β€” zip lining across the gorge, climbing the gorge, white water rafting in the gorge, riding a train through it, etc. We didn’t do any of those with the kiddos, but the Gondola is included in your entry ticket price, so we did take that, and it was thrilling!

We give Royal Gorge Bridge a big ole’ thumbs up! They have a campground, “glamping” cabins, a dinosaur museum … honestly, we could have spent a week here and not been done exploring. We definitely hope to get back!

Our Friday afternoon was spent hitting up Centennial Park, which had a fantastic splash pad and playground and access to the Arkansas River and was about a mile from our Airbnb. Then it was ice cream at You Scream Treat Emporium.

On Saturday we hit up Skyline Drive β€” a very narrow 2.6-mile drive with the most amazing views and … wait for it … DINOSAUR PRINTS! β€” and then did a short hike β€” the Royal Gorge Overlook Loop β€” to take in the Royal Gorge bridge from a distance.

Nothing to see here, just a mom trying REAL hard not to drive off a cliff!
More skittles bribery in action.
Dinosaur prints! (And yes, Lotte does have dinosaurs on her outfit and she is also holding a stuffed dinosaur, so you can imagine the happiness this activity brought!)
Chris ran up a steep, short trail to snap this pic. (Insert Wow emoji here.)
We accidentally ended up taking the road for drivers for our hike (the hiking trail runs right next to it), but it turned out for the best because there was no way our double stroller would have fit on the other trail.
This girl lives for a Dada snuggle <3
This gorgeous view. So humbling.
Back at the parking lot we had a quick picnic β€” with this ridonc view β€” before packing up and heading home.
My crew. They super cute.

We stopped for coffee at The Bean Pedaler in the cute little downtown area before heading home. All-in-all it was a very successful β€” and beautiful β€” trip, and I’m so glad we did it. It’s a good reminder that it’s often worth doing something to get yourself out of your head. And travel memories are, for the most part, never a bad idea.

And now it’s back-to-school mode over here! This is the girls’ final week before heading back, and I’m so grateful for our summer trips to Seattle and New York, plus this one. I’m grateful the girls had fun experiences with camps and playdates with friends and neighbors and lots of unstructured playtime at home.

We also celebrated a 6th birthday.

The birthday girl requested a trip to the Denver Aquarium on her special day.

It was one for the books. Hope you guys are having an awesome summer, as well <3

BIS BALD, FRIENDS!

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!

The Goat, the Farmhouse, the Paint Mines & the Birthday

Welp, friends, No. 39 is in the books.

This past weekend was my birthday, and Chris really stepped up the celebrating. We’ve had a visit to the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in El Paso County on our bucket list for a few years now, so we used my birthday as an excuse to finally make it happen. After all the fun we had over the past two weeks with the Connors visiting, I wasn’t sure we had it in us to keep up the celebrating, but boy was I wrong πŸ˜‰

The Farmhouse Airbnb

We started the festivities on Friday by staying at this farmhouse Airbnb which included, much to the girls’ delight, a bunch of farm animals (Starling the Goat was a family fave), a hot tub, a pool table and a swing set. It was the perfect spot for cupcakes and revelery.

Starling the Goat was so happy to greet us.
The girls discovered a love of hot tubs when we stayed at the Airbnb in Winter Park, so it sure was lucky this place had one, too.
Happy birthday to me! Love these cute faces the most.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Saturday was my actual birthday, and we were up early to have breakfast, take the hot tub for a spin, pack up and get on the road for the Paint Mines, which was about a 30 minute drive from where we were staying.

We didn’t really know what to expect with this visit, but it turned out to be even better than we could have imagined. There are multiple loops to pick from, and even though I wouldn’t call the trails stroller “friendly,” per se, Chris was able to use our beloved Strolley (aka the off-road Radio Flyer) throughout, which was especially helpful since Grace isn’t necessarily into 2.5-mile walks these days πŸ˜‰ I carried Emilia in the Ergo, and we had tons of snacks and sunscreen and water at the ready. We got there around 10:30 in the morning and ended up leaving around 1, which seemed to be when the park was really starting to get busier. Admission is free, so I can imagine it would be quite the destination. My advice would be to get there early if you plan to go.

Here’s a bit of what we saw …

Always up for adventure, this crew of mine.
Just the most gorgeous, open-air, expansive views!
I was all too happy to snuggle up with this one for a couple of hours <3
Lotte’s poses are all some version of dances from her ballet class, which I thoroughly enjoy.
Grace wasn’t quite about the posing for most of the day, but Lotte was all too happy to oblige her mother on her birthday.
Despite her sassiness during our visit, Grace said that the Paint Mines was her favorite part of our trip. Oh, preschoolers β€” try to figure ’em out, I dare ya!
According to the website, “The Paint Mines are named for their colorful clays that were collected by American Indians to make paint. Brightly colored bands, caused by oxidized iron compounds, are found in varying amounts throughout the many different layers of clay.”
The next photos are part of a series I like to call: “Me and my Emilia” <3
Chris really took his role as picture-taker very seriously for this trip, and I’m not mad about it!

You guys, if you think this was too many photos … well I really did my best to edit down what I posted, which was HARD! If you’re in the area and have the time, a visit to the Paint Mines is well worth a stop. It’s free and beautiful and can take as long or as short and you’d like. It’s kid-friendly (enough!), and will provide with you the backdrop necessary for 12,000 awesome photos. Go, I say, and be prepared to leave in awe.

And that was my birthday weekend, my friends. I’m sad the past two weeks are coming to end, because they have just been so much fun. Luckily, we have a trip to Seattle coming up at the end of May that we’re very much looking forward to.

Until then … bis bald, friends!

A Wonderful Week in Winter Park With Our Aussie Family … and Then Some

Our Aussie family has finally been able to visit!

But HOW is it the last week of March, I ask you?!

I know β€” we all end up saying the same thing every year. The time flies, and suddenly your kids are so old you can’t believe it. It always amazes me.

Anyway, I digress. The REAL news to report this week is that WE FINALLY GOT TO SEE OUR AUSSIE NAN AND POPPA! After far too many years of Covid-induced distance, Chris’ parents were at last able to hop on a plane and fly back to see us. Lotte & Grace had not seen their grandparents since October of 2019, and Emilia had never met them. So to say that this was a monumental event for everyone is an understatement.

The Connor’s trip coincided with the girls’ spring break, which was lovely because we were able to spend a week in Winter Park together, as well as have them experience taking the girls to and picking them up from school.

They’ve attended ballet class.
We’ve visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
We had a nostalgia-filled dinner at one of our favorite restaurants from when we first moved to Arvada.
We’ve played dress-up and walked to Majestic View Park and played games and watched movies.

In other words, we’ve simply had the most amazing time and I refuse to believe that it will be ending soon. Our plan is to head out to Australia for Christmas this year to catch up with all of our Connor family, so we’re all very busy keeping our fingers and toes crossed that that can still happen.

In the meantime, we have no less than 20,000 photos to keep on loop from our time over the past two weeks.

All the happy faces <3
This little one has thoroughly fallen for her grandparents
Chris and his dad cooked a yummy traditional Australian bread for dinner one night
Nan & Poppa bought us ice creams in the park BEFORE dinner one night β€” doesn’t get better than that πŸ˜‰
Lotte had two ski lessons while her grandparents were here, one of which they attended and cheered her on throughout
Pizza tasting at Crosscut in Nederland before skiing in Eldora was a highlight, as well

Besides having Nan & Poppa here to just live our lives with us for the past two weeks, the trip out to Winter Park was so much much. We stayed at this Airbnb, which was the perfect location for viewing the best times to visit the hot tub and swimming pool (a favorite activity amongst our group), and it was a short walk to the sweetest little sledding hill with community sleds to share. The girls also had an absolute blast hanging out in the bunk beds together.

Our itinerary included a visit to Grand Lake, as well, which was one of our stops on our first-ever vacation as a family of five last year. Chris cooked delicious food, we played games, explored a new-to-us ski town, and generally had a delightful little getaway.

Grand Lake is so much fun in the winter!