Last-minute Fall Getaways in Colorado Springs

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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

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^^ 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!

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^^ 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 …

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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.

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^^ Views from the backyard.

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

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

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^^ 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.

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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!

A Very Special Surprise Visit From Aussie Nan & Poppa

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Happy October, friends! Oh my goodness — sometimes life just requires that you take a break from blogging … am I right? This is, without a doubt, one of the busiest seasons so far in my life. We’ve got the two babes and work and some big changes coming in the next few weeks … but despite all the madness, we always, always, always have room for a little fun. Enter … Nan & Poppa. These amazing, wonderful, generous in-laws of mine decided that they missed their grandkids, they found a decent flight, and they hopped on it and flew around the world to see them.

Sometimes, my friends, it’s as simple as that.

So for the past week and 1/2, we’ve been livin’ the high life with Aussie Nan & Poppa (and putting them to work, for sure, because of those forthcoming changes I mentioned earlier). Between the work, though, we went to three pumpkin festivals. We visited the Denver Zoo and the Butterfly Pavilion (both firsts for them), took G to a dance party at the library, dropped off and picked up Lotte from preschool, crafted, read books, watched favorite shows … and just oh-so-much more. There was also lots of snuggling since, of course, Lotte got strep throat for the last few days of their visit. Le sigh. Kids man. School man. Winter man. I’m not ready for it!

Here’s the thing about grandparents, though: The best ones can make the world a brighter, better place. Nan & Poppa do that for our kids, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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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.

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

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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.

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The Top 3 Reasons We Love Living in Colorado With Kids

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Garden of the Gods, Colorado

There is a lot to love about living in Colorado, but to be honest, it took me a while to realize that. When we first moved here from New York City, I couldn’t help but compare Denver to Manhattan, and it just wasn’t the same. In our first few months in Colorado I missed the hustle and bustle of the city. I missed living three blocks from Central Park and walking down 3rd Ave. to my magazine job every morning. I missed the museums and the culture, the electricity and the craziness. And although I grew to like Denver as time went on, it wasn’t really until we moved to Arvada — and especially when we had Lotte, and then Grace — that my love of this place really flourished.

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Hiking a Colorado 14er: Quandary Peak

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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:

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The Rustic Wedding of Every Instagram Account’s Dream

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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.

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Central Park and the Upper East Side With Littles in Tow

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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.

The adventure started with a walk down Fifth Ave., checking out the Metropolitan Museum of Art (from the outside — checking out the inside will come when the girls are a tad older), and grabbing bagels from our old bagel joint in our old neighborhood to have near the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Conservatory Water.

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

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Happy Tuesday, friends! We’re still here in New York, where we’ve been since last Wednesday, and we have done all. of. the. things.

We flew in. Rented our car. Drove to Liberty State Park. Spent one night at my sister’s before driving to stay with my friend at her place in Woodstock. Threw Lotte a third birthday party. Drove back to my sister’s. Visited my grandmother in the hospital. Took family photos at an amazing sunflower farm near my sister’s house and, today, I babysat all three babes while my sister, Brian and Chris worked.

Phew! And we aren’t even halfway through!

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Fields of Lavender and a Festival Not to Be Missed at Chatfield Farms

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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.

And let me tell you – it’s glorious, friends.

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Lair o’ the Bear on a Glorious Thursday Morning

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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.

Today, I had a plan.

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Mondays Like These

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I mean, is there anything better than a picnic by the lake after playing in a new park … like, at all?!

I’m doing some research for some stories I’m working on and it’s just been the most fun, because it’s been bringing me all around to new places the girls and I haven’t been. I do feel a little worried when Lotte wakes up in the morning and is like, “Where are we going today?!” I love that she’s excited, but also … like, it’s okay to hang at home sometimes, too 😉

Anyway, I guess we’ll leave the hanging at home for bad-weather and winter days. For now, there’s much to explore. Yesterday it just happened to be Washington Park (which somehow I had managed to never visit in my 4.5 years of living here). We tested out their playground and sandpit (amazing) and had lunch by the lake.

It was a glorious Monday, friends, and I wish they all could be like this.

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One With the Flowers

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As part of my continued effort to keep these kids of mine occupied and busy during this summer (and, in all honesty, to keep myself from going bonkers as well), we hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens — and more specifically the adorable and amazing Mordecai Children’s Garden — yesterday. There were plants galore — that they could actually touch and smell — and a sand box and a bubbling brook and multiple ecosystems. The girls had a blast getting as dirty and wet as possible, and I had a blast watching them. I had packed us a lunch as well, which we ate over in the “adult” side of the gardens, which I will from now on be referring to the main gardens as.

If you happen to be in the Denver area over the summer and you’re looking for some outdoor fun to be had with your kids, you really should check out the Mordecai Children’s Garden. Kids under three are free, too, which means I’ll be taking Lotte there again at least one more time in the next few weeks so we can get her in for free at least one final time.

Here’s what we got up to at the gardens …

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Savoring that Sweet Summer Feeling

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I have a secret to share, friends … I’ve never really been a huge fan of summer.

There, I said it. Anyone who actually knows me is rolling their eyes right now and thinking, “Duh, who doesn’t know that?” but to others, this might come as a surprise. As a curly headed woman who didn’t grow up near water but did grow up in a home without air conditioning for the longest time, the only things I had to look forward to when the weather got warmer was frizzy hair (okay, I admit, that was a year-round problem) and just the most awful humidity. These days, though, I’m making a concerted effort to change my ways … for the girls.

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Your 2019 Colorado Summer Bucket List

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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:

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Father’s Day, Colorado Style

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Happy Tuesday, friends — and a very happy belated Dad’s day to all the amazing dads, grandfathers, brothers, and male caregivers out there in the world, doing what they do best.

This man above — my husband — has given me the two ultimate joys in my life, my babies. I’m grateful every day for his passion, compassion, sincerity, sensitivity and contagious love of life. These girls are lucky to call him dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Chris!

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The Perfect Mountain Retreat in Massanutten

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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 😉

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Driving to the Top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak

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Welp, friends, this past weekend consisted of ticking things off the bucket list from left to right and every way sidewise. It was our annual birthday trip getaway for my birthday (if you’ll recall, we’ve made something of a tradition of heading out of town for both my and Chris’ birthdays. Last year was Great Sand Dunes National Park for Chris and Telluride for me), and we headed into the mountains — to Woodland Park, to be exact.

Woodland Park is charming in its own right, but really, the main attraction for people coming to this particular area is the drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s (in)famous “14ers,” meaning a mountain whose summit is higher than 14,000 feet. This particular mountain reaches 14,115 feet … and I had no particular interest in heading there.

Until, of course, Chris mentioned it as a potential spot for my birthday weekend getaway.

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Life Recently: A Sad Farewell to Auntie Kate

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Well friends, yesterday we said good-bye to Auntie Kate. That’s right. We packed her up, had a final day filled with fun, and sent her on her way back to Australia.

We always knew this day would come, but man oh man did it come fast! While we are incredibly sad to say good-bye, we’re also super excited to see what fun and adventures await Kate when she gets back to Australia.

Plus, our basement is always open to more visits 😉

So, here’s to sisters-in-law that are more like sisters, and aunties that are more like second Moms. Our two little ladies sure will miss you, Kate — and so will we <3

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Day Dates in Evergreen

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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.

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A Glorious Sunday Hike at South Table Mountain

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Sometimes in life, friends, your youngest daughter will voice (loudly) her disdain at the idea of being carried up a mountain by you, and so your husband will take one (or two, actually) for the team.

That’s a long way of saying that Grace basically refused to let me carry her on our hike up South Table Mountain yesterday, so Chris had to carry both girls — one in front, one in back — the entire time. Rock star, he is.

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The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch

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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!

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Welcome February!

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Well friends, it’s officially February, and as is always the case, the year is already flying by. I’ve been seeing so many posts on social media about how January lasts forever, but for us, this month has absolutely disappeared. Between us being in Australia for the first week, welcoming Aunt Kate to our home for her almost-three-month visit (!), and my trip with G back to New York for 10 days, I have no idea where the 31 days of January have gone.

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Our Final Days in Australia

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And so here we are, friends … we’ve arrived at our final two days in Australia. Le sigh.

Our last two days were filled with all the classic Australian activities, including checking out Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then heading out on the Manly Ferry to check out Manly Beach with some family and old friends. Lotte had the best time splashing around in the water with our friends’ son, who is one year older, and we’ve discovered G’s love of fish and chips, as was demonstrated by her eating all of Chris’ aunt’s fish after she woke from a delightful nap by the beach.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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^^ 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.

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

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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!