Babies (Times Two!) in New York!

Happy Saturday, friends! Emilia and I just flew back from our first-ever solo Mom/Daughter trip πŸ˜‰ We headed to New York to visit our brand new TWIN COUSINS and they COULD NOT have been cuter!

The trip didn’t go exactly as expected (thank you, Covid, for continuing to ruin plans THREE YEARS LATER), but we definitely got to do what we went to do … get. twin. baby. cuddles.

Additional highlights included one-on-one time with my own baby, plus visits with my aunt and uncle and Grandpa Robert.

Hope you guys are having a delightful start to the year … and staying healthy!

Travel with a 2-year-old is never breezy … but I’m ALWAYS happy to have done it.
Grandpa!
Tried my hand at double-feeding. It is … not as easy as it looks!
Pure baby heaven times two.
I’m in awe of my sister and brother-in-law’s strength <3
But I mean … can you even???
Being back in the snuggle bunny phase was pretty delightful for me.
Emilia wasn’t quite sure what to think at first ….
But she was quickly obsessed!
Em also got to spend some one-on-one time with my aunt and uncle β€” who essentially helped raise me β€” so that was very special, too.
Then, all too quickly, we were headed back to the airport :/
In the first month of 2023, this little one has been in Australia, California, Colorado, and New York. And she has been, for the most part (!) an angel.
We’ll be back, babies. You can count on that.

Bis bald, friends … until next time <3

Holidays In Australia Part 1: A 24-Hour Layover In San Francisco

Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone had a fabulous and fantastic holiday season filled with all the fun things.

We sure did.

We arrived back LAST NIGHT from our holiday trip. It included Christmas in Australia, our anniversary and New Years Eve in New Zealand, and a visit to the beach that Chris visited every year growing up! We saw friends and family that we haven’t seen since before the pandemic (I blogged about our first trip out with Lotte & Grace in 2019, including here), and friends and family got to meet Emilia for the very first time. Emotions were high (in both the best and saddest of ways … traveling, and especially traveling with children, is never not fraught), but while I sit here typing this up, I honestly can’t believe it’s over. So very much planning and buying and packing (and stressing, if I’m being completely honest! I was SO SURE someone would get sick! Spoiler alert: WE DID NOT!) went into this trip, and it was definitely one for the books, friends.

But first, we had to get there.

Things started optimistically enough! We knew that weird weather was rolling into Denver, and our flight out to San Francisco was scheduled for early evening, with a layover of only about an hour to make our connecting flight to Sydney.

Needless to say, that didn’t end up happening.

We sat for about 2.5 hours on the tarmac before finally taking off and landing in San Francisco around 1 a.m. United Airlines, to their credit, gave us two hotel rooms for two nights, since the next flight out they could get us on didn’t leave until 10:45 p.m.

Instead of looking at it as a lost day in Australia, we decided to find the silver lining and consider it a free (Kind of. Well, the hotel rooms were free, at least) and unexpected day in San Francisco.

Here’s what we got up to.

In a nutshell we:

  1. Took the Caltrain into the city
  2. Walked to get lunch at the Ferry Building Marketplace
  3. Ate lunch at Gott’s Roadside
  4. Took a water taxi to Pier 39
  5. Checked out the sea lions
  6. Caught the metro back to the Caltrain
  7. Ordered in pizza to our hotel room/showered/repacked
  8. Headed back to the airport around 8 p.m.

You know what’s great about catching a 14.5-hour flight at 10:45 at night after spending the day running your kids ragged around San Francisco?

They. Are. Zonked.

Seriously, the flight from San Francisco to Sydney was probably one of the best we’ve ever had, courtesy of exhausted children who slept seven to eight hours and then watched tv/snacked/did crafts the whole rest of the time. I was BEYOND impressed with my kids’ travel abilities and their willingness to go with the flow and find adventure in every little thing (even the snags) … but more on that later.

For now … bis bald, friends! See ya when we’re in Sydney!

YMCA of the Rockies β€” The Estes Park Version

Edit Note: I wrote this post on the Monday after Thanksgiving, as we had just spent the weekend at the second YMCA of the Rockies location. Since the trip was a sponsored press trip, I waited to post this until the story for the publication that sponsored me went live. You can find the completeΒ Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Rewards story here!

Happy Monday after Thanksgiving, loves! Our little family was lucky enough to try out the second YMCA of the Rockies location β€” this time in Estes Park β€” the weekend after the holiday. (You can find information on our stay at the Granby Ranch location here.)

While similar in many ways, and with many of the same amenities as Granby, the Estes Park location did feel slightly different. There is less property at this location, which means the cabins and activities are closer together. This is nice if you’d like to opportunity to walk around more easily, but the vastness of the Granby location also had its perks. Whichever you visit, you honestly can’t go wrong. Grace spent the entire first-day-back-preschool-morning-check-in walking up to her little friends and her teacher and saying, “I went to the YMCA of the Rockies!”

It obviously had a lasting impact. Here’s a little bit why …

Even the check-in area was charming!
We had a real fireplace at this cabin, which you just KNOW Chris loved!
Games were another big part of our stay.
So glad we got to check out the pool on this trip!
The most fun!
Who doesn’t love a good air throw?
Just like in Granby, the cafeteria was a big hit.
Me and my cute little crew πŸ˜‰
We took a cute, short guided nature walk that involved hugging trees!
Borrowed some clubs for some mini-golf!
The library β€” and more specifically the story time at the library β€” is a MUST if you come here!
Grace did some rock climbing on the scrambling wall, while Lotte …
… gave the big wall a go!
Nature Center cuties
We made ice cream!
We explored some trails!
We made art!
We made a mess πŸ˜‰
We tried out the playgrounds!
We got cozy and colored by the fireplace in the lobby!
We made smores in our jammies back in our cabin!
And on Sunday morning, we woke up to gorgeous, snow-dusted vistas.

And that was our action-packed, amazing trip in a nutshell, my friends! Check out the YMCA of the Rockies in the Good Housekeeping travel awards here.

Bis bald, friends!

YMCA of the Rockies β€” The Snow Mountain Ranch Version

Edit Note: I wrote this post the Monday after we made our actual visit, but had to wait until the story was actually live. You can find the complete Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Rewards story here!

Happy Thanksgiving week, my friends! We have been battling all the illnesses over here lately (just like literally everyone else in the world, I know), but we did manage to pull it together this past weekend for a quick press trip out to YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, CO.

As you’ll recall, we are already big fans of Granby, but the YMCA property took that love to a whole other level. I won’t go into a ton of detail here (because all of that is covered in the actual story that the press trip was for, which you can find here), but I’ll just say, this is the best, most upgraded camp experience you could ever have, dropped right in the middle of the most majestic mountain setting.

Some of our activities included:

  • Meeting the sled dog team and going on a little ride
  • Checking out the Kiva/Rec Center
  • Making crafts in the Craft Center
  • Smoresing and bonfireing
  • Building a float for a mini Thanksgiving Day parade
  • Enjoying our SPECTACULAR mountain views

We feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this iconic spot.

We stopped off in Idaho Springs on our way home, as well, and had lunch at Beau Jo’s <3

I hope you guys are staying healthy and have some relaxing and fun holiday plans ahead. Until next time … bis bald!

Colorado Springs Bday Bash Part Two: Garden of the Gods and Cave of the Winds

Dads work on their birthday weekend trips, don’t get it twisted πŸ˜‰

Happy Monday, friends! Back to yesterday, when we were spending the second part of Chris’ birthday getaway at Garden of the Gods and on a cave tour at Cave of the Winds.

We’ve been to Garden of the Gods a number of times (like here, with my bestie), but yesterday was magnificent. The weather β€” while windy β€” was remarkable in all her fall glory, and we got there basically as the park opened to avoid the (always) crowds.

The girls basically love anywhere they can run unencumbered.
Happiness is …
Fall foliage AND these spectacular rocks <3
YOU try getting a photo of an almost-two-year who is NOT in motion!
Cuties.
Lotte’s new favorite thing is asking me to take specific photos β€” often with specific poses β€” and it is just delightful.
Emilia was over it by this point, but here’s a photo of me and 2/3 of my ladies.

After Garden of the Gods, we hopped back in the car and drove 10 minutes to our Cave of the Winds cave tour. It was about 45 minutes long and the girls were so great during it! I definitely think there were moments that were scary/hard for Grace (like when they turned the lights completely off and we were plunged into darkness β€” to show us what the cave used to be like before they added electricity β€” or some spots that were slick to walk in), but she was such a champ, and I was so proud. They both asked awesome questions (Lotte about stalagmites and G about bats) and, I think, had a really fun time.

It’s hard to take a ton of photos in a dark cave, as you can imagine, but here’s what I did get:

So pretty! Do NOT take this tour if you’re claustrophobic!
Cute little cave dwellers!
Emilia was great throughout, as well!
More formations whose names I forget but that still look beautiful.

And that was that, my friends! A successful birthday trip all around, made all the more fun by the tons of leftover birthday treats we had to bring home πŸ˜‰

Happy fall, everyone … and bis bald!

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

Some NYC Action, a Surprise Sprinkle, And So Much More

This weekend we celebrated my baby sis and her TWINS, arriving this December!

Happy fall, ya’ll! With the arrival of cooler weather and all things pumpkin related, my mood is uplifted. The fall signals new beginnings, in my mind, so I was thrilled to be able to add “throw baby sister a baby sprinkle” to my fall to-do list!

To that end, I have been in New York for the past NINE DAYS while Chris held down the fort with the kiddos at home. (Kuddos to you, my love!) I spent five blissful days in the city, visiting with friends and old co-workers and just generally traipsing around and eating all the things.

Prospect Park
I stayed at my friend’s Brooklyn townhome while I was in the city, and spent no small amount of time in these comfy chairs, with this adorable dog, reading my book and people watching the passers-by on the street below.
Dinner at Chela on Saturday night included a lot of laughs and a lot of margaritas πŸ˜‰
The delight of walking around the city, listening to music and in your own little world, is pretty unmatched for me.
Got to meet up with these cuties β€” my friend’s kids β€” at J.J. Byrne Playground in BK, which is a must-know spot if you have kids in the area.
Took the subway in Manhattan on Monday and spent some time wandering around my old fave haunts, including, obviously, Bryant Park.
She is SUCH a delight.
From there I walked over to the High Line, which I hadn’t visited in years! It was such a pretty day for it!
My walk from the High Line to meet a friend for lunch took me through the flower district, which was so fun at this time of year.
A delight of flowers in the middle of the concrete jungle.
Lunch was pizza at Posto near Union Square. Could you not just reach in and eat this picture??

I spent Friday through Tuesday in the city, and then grabbed the train from Grand Central Tuesday morning to head upstate for the second half of my trip, including surprising my sister with my visit and, on Saturday, her baby sprinkle πŸ˜‰

These statues outside of GC are new … and delightful.
It doesn’t matter how many times I have been here. (Chris and I even took wedding photos here!) Grand Central is always magic.
The views along the Hudson Line are spectacular, too.

I got off in Beacon for a night with my stepdad who is absolutely rocking his recent heart surgery!

We got breakfast at Beacon Bread Company in Beacon, and were lucky enough to spot a glute-free cafe, Kitchen & Coffee, down the road to pick up THE MOST DELICIOUS gluten-free treats for my sister’s shower! (The theme was ‘Twin Buns in the Oven’ and we had all the sweets and treats you could possibly want!)

After spending the night in Newburgh, I hopped in my stepdad’s Mini Cooper and drove to Middletown to surprise my sister. Even though she says she had an inkling of the sprinkle to come after I showed up, it was still so. much. fun. keeping things a surprise! I even got to go to an ultrasound my sister had scheduled for Friday and see my newest little niece and nephew πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

Greeting committee for my arrival.
Surprises β€” and sisters β€” are the best <3
After the ultrasound on Friday, Steph & I stopped at Hudson Taco in Newburgh for lunch. I had never been, but it did NOT disappoint!
More margaritas! (For me, obviously not for the preggs …)

Saturday was the day of the sprinkle, and when I tell you that I was stressed out trying to find a venue, believe that to be true. Luckily, a little deep dive Googling came in handy, because I was able to find the cutest little venue β€” a vintage barn with the sweetest owner you’ve ever met β€” in Wallkill. It’s called R&W Farms, and it was exactly the set-up I would have wanted for my sister’s sprinkle. We brought in treats from The Bakery in New Paltz and decorated the Thursday ahead of time (while my sister was at work!), and it turned out so beautifully.

And that, as they say, was that, my friends. It was the sweetest of trips with the best of people and I had a grand time, but really ….

There’s no place like home πŸ˜‰

Bis bald friends β€” AND HAPPY FALL!

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!