Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part III: C Lazy U Ranch

Ever since we moved to Colorado I have wanted to drive through one of these ranch gates, which are located throughout the state. The second weekend in August was my time to make that dream a reality πŸ˜‰

Welcome back to press trip summer, friends! I already talked about Breckenridge and Beaver Creek, and today’s post is about our third and final trip out to C Lazy U Ranch.

Believe it or not, a trip out here is not about being lazy. (As I learned on our ranger ride tour, a “lazy” U is a U that’s turned on its side). Being at C Lazy U Ranch actually means doing all the things. The girls attended camps in the mornings and afternoons where they made friends, played on the playground, did crafts and rode ponies (G) and horses (Lotte). We had Emilia with us, of course, but for parents with kids over three (the age when they can join the camps), being here means attending summer camps with your kids. Sending them off for large chunks of the day (plus dinner!) to have the time of their lives while you do the same, and reconvening for an evening activity (plus breakfast and lunch). It’s really the best of both worlds.

Here’s a bit of what we got up to in our Thursday to Saturday visit.

For the girls, dressing the part was half the fun!
Anywhere that Lotte can practice the monkey bars is amazing in her book.
On our very first night there the girls had dinner with complete strangers (who they became great friends with) and performed “Let It Go”, again in front of complete strangers, to much amusement and obsession. It’s safe to say that we have never had a more fun first night on a trip.
Friday was our first full day, and we started off wit a short tractor ride up the mountain where we were met with fresh homemade donuts, coffee and a full breakfast with the most amazing view.
Enjoying her view with a side of hot chocolate.
Too stinkin.
We had the most glorious morning for it, too.
The best.
After breakfast Chris had to work, but the girls and I got a ranger ride β€” which is basically a ride in a humongous and very powerful four-wheeler β€” all around the ranch. Grace even found this horseshoe! (Lotte was not thrilled to have not found one, hah.)
There were just gorgeous views everywhere we looked!
A little bird watching.
Emilia was too young for the camps β€” they start at three β€” but we had the best time anyway!
The driver let Grace and Lotte sit in the front on the last 10 minutes of the ride, so we obliged Emilia with a quick tour of the front seat, as well <3
The girls really fell in love with horses on this trip (and have since asked to get one), and to be honest, so did I.
I EVEN went on my first ride! Look at me up there, all calm, cool and collected!
That night Chris escorted the girls to a Barn Dance, where they listened to live music, ate ice cream, rode a mechanical bull and just generally had a blast.
Emilia had a grand time at the morning Cowboy coffee <3
On Saturday morning the girls set off for their morning camp session …
And it was Chris’ turn to ride!
Grace rode a pony that she and her campmates decorated to look like a unicorn!
Can you even? She had the best time! Emilia and I were on the playground nearby so I happened to catch her ride, and she kept calling out, “Hi Emilia! See me riding a pony, Emilia!”
And Lotte rode a horse ALL BY HERSELF! I was so proud of her!
In the afternoon, the “Showdeo” allowed the kids to show off the skills they learned all week. For Grace’s group, that was how to hone their cuteness.
Lotte was in a horse/cherry eating race, and she came in 2nd and had a blast!
Maximum cuteness.

And that was that, my friends. I would HIGLY recommend this place to anyone who has kids over the age of three (and a lot of money. It was … quite pricey!)

Anyway, I’m so incredibly grateful for having had all these adventures with my family this summer, and for my editor who continues to have faith in my travel testing abilities πŸ˜‰ Keep ’em coming, Karen … I think we can handle them πŸ˜‰

Until next time … bis bald, friends!

Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part II: Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek is the sweetest little mountain town you ever will see.

Happy Thursday, friends! As I already mentioned, we were so lucky this summer because we got to go on THREE press trips that took us to awesome places in the mountains.

I blogged about our first trip here.

Our second was to the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. We had only been to Beaver Creek once before (when Lotte was itty bitty and I was pregnant with Grace!), but we had loved it so much that time, we were more than happy to get back.

There’s plenty to love about Beaver Creek β€” its quaint, safe feel, gorgeous views and friendly people, to name a few β€” but the Hyatt offered its own set of amenities to treasure.

Views from every window!
The cutest kiddie toys in the suites!
The best location! The middle of the town is right outside the door, with tons of restaurants and shops, an ice skating rink in the winter and this huge play area in the summer.
And holy moly the food. So. Much. Good. Food.
So many tasty drinks!
That includes 24-hour-a-day room service.
Nutella pancakes for the win πŸ˜‰
You can also grab a s’mores kit from the front desk and make your own at their outdoor fire pits, surrounded by the glorious mountains.

You can catch the gondola or ski lift right outside the door and take it to the top of the mountain. There you’ll find a lodge with lots of fun games, tons of hiking trails, or plenty of spaces to just sit and sip and relax, if that’s your preferred mountain activity.

We love a gondola ride!
Views from the top.
Look at these cuties <3
Our hike was cut short when Grace fell and skinned her knee, but until then it was glorious!
Rides back down!

The town itself has tons of restaurants and shops, like I mentioned, plus a cute creek and, if you walk a short distance, a playground.

This cutie loved the creek!
Hiking around town.

And obviously no trip of ours is complete without trying out the pool & hot tub situation. Both options at this hotel scored a 10/10 on our scale.

Pool ready!
What better way to wake up the guests than with squeals of delight from the pool down below?!

And that was it in a nutshell, my friends. We love you Beaver Creek! My only wish is that this place is slightly closer (it’s two hours in good traffic). If it were, we’d be there much more often, I can promise you that πŸ˜‰

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with our third and final press trip of the summer β€” C Lazy U Ranch!

Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part I: Grand Colorado on Peak 8

Happy fall, friends! Back in July of this past summer, we were lucky enough to check out Grand Colorado on Peak 8 in Breckenridge for a press trip. I couldn’t share our adventures until the story came out, and now that it has, I’m so excited to drop some mountain love here, as well.

We stayed at the resort from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. And even though we hit some gnarly traffic on the ride home, it was definitely worth it. Other than a small accident that put Emilia in urgent care on Saturday night, we all had a blast.

Friday Night

We arrived to our suite late afternoon on Friday, and holy hell was it impressive! Our living room had amazing views of the mountain, the Adventure Park activities and the pool area down below. In general, the hotel was very well suited for families, and the girls had the best time exploring.

Kid-sized games galore!
So much people watching!
Dinner at Robbie’s Tavern, located in the resort, was so yum. As were the drinks πŸ˜‰

Saturday

On Saturday we explored the resort a bit more (pools, kids’ crafts & cafe), and drove into town to check out the Breckenridge Alpine Garden.

Is there anything better than a blue-sky mountain day??
The Alpine Garden was the perfect substitute when we discovered that the hike we wanted to take was closed, and the other had no parking. Small enough to enjoy at a kids’ pace, and the kids love being in nature.
Downtown Breck is such a delight <3
The girls and I caught the free gondola from town back to the resort!
More fun games with a breathtaking backdrop.
After a morning spent exploring, we picked up some crafts to paint back in our room while we had some lunch.
Chris & I switched off on having amazing massages in the afternoon while the girls rested, then we hit up the pool. We had evening plans to head back into town, but after Emilia’s accident and urgent care visit, we decided to lay low back in the room and let her rest. Rest assured she was totally fine and back to her adorable, rambunctious self in no time πŸ˜‰

Sunday

Sunday begin with pancakes in our suite and a trip to the second indoor/outdoor pool.
We were given passes for the Epic Discovery Adventure Park, which the girls made great use of, starting with this amazing bungee jump trampoline!
Look at that pure joy!
We also opted to ride the ski lift, which was so beautiful and only about 75% terrifying with littles!
Emilia was unphased by Mom’s anxiety, particularly after her head trauma the day before!
After checking out we headed back into town for lunch at Breckenridge Tap House and ice cream at Higgles.
The girls got to ride the Gondola with Chris this time <3
Mint chocolate chip all around!
After filling up on treats, it was off to find the Breckenridge Troll! (Please know that you can easily park in the huge parking lot near the troll and walk about 400 feet. We started off trying to hike there from the downtown area, and this was so. much. easier!)
Troll spotted!
The hike to and from the parking lot is short but beautiful. My favorite kind πŸ˜‰

And that was it, friends! 10/10 recommend this place for adventurous, outdoor-loving families looking for a fun getaway! Until my next press trip post (we had THREE!) … bis bald, friends!

Life Lately: The Rest of October, 2023

It was the surprise of the century when Chris’ siblings showed up from Australia for his 40th birthday!

Happy end of October, friends! I just finished pulling off a MASSIVE surprise that I’ve known about since we were in Australia in December. All four of Chris’ siblings flew out to surprise him for his 40th bday bash, and it was epic and wonderful and all the things.

After our trip out to Disneyland earlier in October, these two big events made for a super fun month. I hope you’ve all been making the most of fall and gearing up to head into a holiday season filled with love and festive activities.

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately <3

Nan & Poppa were the first of our Aussie fam to arrive, and the girls were so excited to show them around a day-in-their life!
They came to gymnastics and swim lessons, school drop-offs and bus stop pick-ups. No rest for the weary!
We were so lucky with the weather the whole time the Connors were here! It was fall in all her splendid glory!
The grandparents arrived on Tuesday while Chris was out of town for work (which was so super helpful for me!), and the girls had off for fall break on Thursday and Friday, so that worked well! Obviously the Denver Zoo was on our must-visit list πŸ˜‰
It was all decked out for Halloween, which was an added delight.
This bond. Just goes to show that distance doesn’t matter, if you put your heart into it.
We had a picnic in Majestic View Park and took Nan & Poppa for a visit at the Majestic View Nature Center!
We took advantage of the scenery to have a little photo shoot, of course.
Surprise! The rest of the Connor clan arrived the Friday before Chris’ birthday party/birthday, and he had no idea. It was so wonderful <3
The girls also had no idea, which was even MORE fun!
I love, love, LOVE these people …
I mean … they couldn’t be any cuter if they tried <3
Grandpa flew in as a surprise for the party, as well!
The girls don’t get much one-on-one time with their Aussie aunties and uncles, so that was a super special element of the trip, as well.
Saturday was party time! We threw Chris’ 40th bday bash at the upstairs tiki bar at The Arvada Tavern in Olde Town Arvada. It was so. much. fun!
People really leaned into the Hawaiian theme, which was amazing.
We had food and drinks and 80s music … what’s not to love?!
Sunday was Chris’ actual birthday, and he requested steak, of course πŸ˜‰ So we all headed over to The Fort Steakhouse in Morrison. I had never been before, but Chris was there for a work dinner a few years ago. It was so much fun!
There’s a ton of history associated with the place, and the food is top-notch. 10/10 would recommend!
Love this crew <3
Grace was sick for a few days while the Connors were here (a bummer, for sure, but she bounced back!), but Lotte managed to head into downtown Denver with the crew on afternoon after school. They visited the Mile-High step and grabbed pizza and checked out a bit of the city.
Exactly one mile above sea level! (Allegedly πŸ˜‰
We headed into Fort Collins one day while the big girls were in school and, despite the weather being SUPER foggy, we took on the Horsetooth Reservoir hike. Uncle Ben even did it with Emilia on his back!
I think they both enjoyed it <3
Despite the fog, it was so, so pretty!
Uncle Paul was desperate to try In-N-Out Burger, so we did that on the way home. Emilia thoroughly enjoyed it, as well!
Our last meal with the fam before they flew home was at Jack’s, naturally.

And that was it in a nutshell, my loves. We’re so sad it’s over, but so happy we got to be a part of it at all. Life sure does move fast, friends. The only saving grace after saying goodbye to our loves was our first snow of the season.

The snow certainly was a nice distraction!

Bis bald, friends! And Happy Halloween!

The Summer of Yes

It’s Red Rocks concert season, ya’ll!

Happy August, friends! Man, oh man, did that summer fly by! I mean, I know it’s technically still summer, and for most of the country, kids are still out of school. Here in Colorado, though, we’re gearing up for the return of the school season (TOMORROW!), and all the insanity that comes with it.

Traditionally speaking, summer has never been my favorite season. I obviously loved having the time off from school when I was a kid, but as an adult, the heat and humidity, long, lazy days … it’s just not really my thing. So, after returning from New York at the start of the girls’ summer vacation, I vowed to make this year different. I vowed to say yes. Yes to more concerts and more shows. Yes to more swimming and more adventures. Yes to being out in the (hot!) world more. The older girls would be in summer camp for the majority of the break, but I also wanted Emilia to have a stellar time. I enrolled her in swim lessons and a couple half days of camp. I made an Emilia Summer Bucket List and slowly ticked things off as the weeks went by. We took more walks, went to story times at the library and got her a scooter.

All of this is to say … this summer, I changed my own personal narrative. Don’t get me wrong. I was still very tired and had moments of absolute stress. We had illnesses and bumps and bruises and fought boredom (and each other), for sure. But overall, this was a summer for the books, and we didn’t even travel until the last few weeks of it. We made fun in our own backyard, as it were, and I’m here for the results, experiences and memories.

I hope you’re all making the most of any breaks that have come your way, as well!

Library Story Time!

The first-ever toddler story time visit for Emilia was a huge hit! We made it back a few more times throughout the summer and she walked in like she owned the place. I can’t with this little one. I simply. Can. Not.

The Denver Zoo

I took Emilia to the zoo by herself for the first time, and the way that she loved setting our agenda was a delight. Highlights included picking up dirt, eating snacks and watching construction vehicles πŸ˜‰

We went back to the zoo for Lotte’s birthday because Chris’ parents got us the Feed the Giraffes Experience, and it was EPIC! So much fun!

Look at those magnificent animals!
Look at those tongues!

Taste of Fort Collins

We made a trip out to Fort Collins in early June to celebrate my bestie’s Big Birthday! We went to the Taste of Fort Collins all together, and I returned later that night with Moe to watch The All-American Rejects perform.
We also made our own pizzas in Moe’s sister’s outdoor pizza oven, and now we can never go back to boxed!

Red Rocks, Red Rocks & More Red Rocks!

I hadn’t been to Red Rocks as much in my eight years of living in Colorado combined as I have this season … including one more to come in September that I’m SO EXCITED FOR!

Chris and I saw the Barenaked Ladies perform at Red Rocks (with openers Del Amitri and Semisonic) and it was SO WONDERFUL! They were awesome performers, and it was really fun to relive my high school days with Chris <3
I went to Yoga on the Rocks (which is exactly as it sounds … performing a yoga class on the stairs at Red Rocks!) with some friends in July. I had been once before with Chris’ sister a few years ago and O.M.G. it is a delight. Red Rocks is always wonderful, but to be doing something so calming and meditative while you’re out in this gorgeous venue in nature … it’s really something else.
My baby is growing up. I took Lotte to her first Red Rocks concert this summer. We tailgated with PB & J in the parking lot and hung out until 9:30 listening to Tori Amos under the stars. It was a magical night.
Red Rocks at night with my big girl <3

Swim Lessons For Em

Emilia started swim lessons and she has been loving it. As she’s gotten further into them it’s gotten harder for mom (lots more going under the water … yikes!), but I have so loved having this experience with her while I’m still an active part of her lesson. We didn’t start the big girls in lessons until they were old enough to go in themselves. This feels so special.

Junkyard Social Club

We visited the Junkyard Social Club in Boulder, a very cool cafe/play area that takes junk from around Boulder and turns it into fun play structures for kids!

Playdates, Playdates & More Playdates

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … we got SO LUCKY with our neighborhood.

Father’s Day Delights

For Father’s Day we took the girls to their first movie β€” Elemental β€” at The Alamo Drafthouse. The movie was super cute, but more than that the experience β€” sitting in an amazing theater ordering food and drink DELIVERED TO YOU β€” was so much fun! That was definitely NOT how I went to the movies with my parents as a kid … but then again, nothing is the same from when I was a kid…
We had Father’s Day dinner at Freedom Street Social, a cool food hall that opened in Arvada with lots of different restaurant options in one spot. Look at these cuties that I get to call my own … <3

Camp, Camp & More Camps!

The girls have mostly gone to camps at the YMCA, but they took a break from the Y for a week to attend two different camps β€” drama and art β€” with friends at the Arvada Center and they loved it!
Here’s Grace in front of some of her artwork on display at the end of the week. My little love.

Ralston Central Park & Splash Pad

I finally took Emilia to the Ralston Central Park & Splash Pad! It was PACKED with camp kids (as were most of the places we visited this summer), but she had so much fun.
I’ve so loved our adventures this summer, little one. Please stop growing up.

Touristing With Visitors

Chris had a cousin come visit near the beginning of July, and so the girls got to do some adventuring with Matt, as well.
We sure do love our visitors!
When Grandpa came to visit we checked out Immersive Disney, which was so cool!
The girls had the best time running around and listening to some of their favorite Disney songs. (So did the adults, to be honest!)
The girls even got to check out a Rockies game β€” on Stars Wars night, so less β€” with Grandpa!

Birthday Parties!

We’ve had a couple of summer birthday parties to attend, including this one which took place at Clear Creek Valley Park, a new-to-us spot that is definitely a place we’ll be revisiting. It was so cool!

Camp for Emilia, Too πŸ˜‰

Emilia’s first camp! She went for four morning sessions at My Gym and had a great time! It was the first time I ever dropped her off somewhere and left and it was … hard. But I made it through πŸ˜‰

The Book of Mormon

Chris and I saw The Book of Mormon at the Denver Center for Performing Arts and it was SO GOOD!
Parents gone wild.

Children’s Museum of Denver

Emilia and I visited the Children’s Museum of Denver on a rainy day in the summer. Translation: IT WAS PACKED! Adventures were still had.
More like amazin’ Emilia <3

Milestones & Makin’ Memories <3

This has nothing to do with saying yes to adventure, but it’s worth noting that Grace and Lotte lost a collective FOUR TEETH (two each) this summer! They kept the tooth fairy busy.
Chris’ version of a “yes” summer was trying out lots of new recipes. His family was happy to oblige him in his efforts. This was the lobster roll and homemade coconut oil chips he made for July 4th. Yes and yes, please!
Grace read ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ before bed one night and asked for tacos the next day. Dad made it happen πŸ˜‰
Don’t worry. We made sure to have plenty of down time for snuggle sessions, as well.
I took the girls out for dinner and ice cream to celebrate the last full day of camp. We love The Golden Mill for its multiple restaurants and live music and festive atmosphere. It was the perfect way to celebrate a camp-filled fun summer!

Urban Air

Dad took the big girls on a trip to Urban Air, which is always a big hit.

Our Neighborhood Block Party

Our neighborhood had one of its twice-annual block parties the night before July 4th. It’s always so much fun to see everyone, especially ….
All the cute kiddos <3 This is like a third of them!

The Indigo Girls in Fort Collins!

I saw so much amazing live music this summer, including the Indigo Girls at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins with Moe and her sister. I was truly reliving those glory days of high school this summer!

Mordecai Children’s Garden (the Denver Botanic Gardens)

I took all three girlies to visit the Mordecai Children’s Garden β€” a separate section of the Denver Botanic Gardens β€” when the big girls were off of camp during the week of July 4th. We hadn’t been in years (and Emilia had never been!) and they had the best time!

Big Soda Lake in Bear Creek Lake Park

Emilia and I finally got to tick Big Soda Lake in Bear Creek Lake Park off our to-checkout list! Park entrance is $10 for a daily pass (that usually gets you in and out, unless it’s a particularly crowded day), and the lake area is so cute! The beach part is on the small side, so I’d suggest going early, but there is a great sectioned-off area for little people, a playground, free life jackets to borrow and a snack stand. Plus, you can get really adventurous and rent (or bring your own) canoe to paddle out into the lake on.
So pretty … you can even see Red Rocks in the background on the other side.

Yard Sale Sunday!

We had a yard sale! Made a couple bucks, sold some of our fave things to some cute families, taught the girls some solid lessons and donated a LOT of stuff to Goodwill. It was a solid way to spend a Sunday πŸ˜‰

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Emilia and I visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on a delightfully quiet Thursday. She (and I) had a ball.

Press Trips x 3!

We were lucky enough to be able to go on not one, not two, but THREE press trips this summer. I can’t write a lot about them just yet, but once the story is out, I’ll post more details. For now I’ll just share the where ….

The first was Grand Colorado on Peak 8, which was a pure delight.
We got to visit the Breckenridge Troll on this trip, too!
Our second stop was the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek! We’ve only been to Beaver Creek once before but we LOVED it, and this hotel was STUNNING. So. Much. Fun!
Mountainside s’mores by the fire pit. Like I said … Too. Much. Fun!
Our third and ALL TIME FAVORITE was C Lazy U Ranch outside of Granby. The extent to which we loved this place β€” and the extent to which it was incredibly difficult to only include a few photos here β€” was a whole heck of a lot <3
Breakfast Friday morning was a real highlight …
And we all (except for Emilia) got to ride horses!
Am I a little bit proud of us? Why yes, yes I am.

Tiny Town

When my stepdad was in town for Lotte’s birthday, we took Emilia to check out Tiny Town, a cute little kids’ play area in the mountains that has a bunch of small, kid-sized buildings that make up a “town” they can play in, plus a playground and a train. So cute <3

Such teeny tiny cuteness!
These two <3 They sure are cute together!

Lair o’ the Bear Park

Taking Emilia to visit Lair o’ the Bear Park was the final tick I needed to complete her Summer of Fun Bucket List. It was even better that the girls had the week before school started off and the four of us got to visit together <3

These cuties had a blast exploring on a beautiful Monday morning.
Dipping our toes in the creek was a highlight!
I love, love, LOVE adventuring with my little ladies.

PHEW! And now, the girls start school tomorrow. We’ve bought backpacks and new clothes, gotten haircuts and had our doc check-ups. I don’t know what to say about the fact that time keeps on flying. Except that I’m sure glad I said yes to this summer, and that we’ve all had these experiences. Starting the summer in New York with our loves was the absolute best, and we did our best to keep the party going all season long. It’s been a summer I won’t forget.

Bis bald, friends … until next time!

“Spring” Break in Grand Lake, the 2023 Edition

Happy Thursday, my friends! The above photo perfectly encapsulates what you should expect when heading to the Colorado mountains for a spring break that takes place during the third week of March.

Lots and lots (and lots and lots) of snow!

I’ll start by saying this: I wasn’t into this trip. I mean, I planned this trip, don’t get me wrong. When I knew the girls had some time coming up for break, but that Chris wouldn’t be able to take time off from work, I knew that getting out of our house, even for just a couple of days, would be a necessity.

What I didn’t count on was a massive storm heading in for the two days we would be in Grand Lake, and the absolute FOMO I would have from watching our friends head off to sunny and fabulous locales, like Hawaii and Colombia.

I mean … how do you compete with Hawaii? Or Colombia?

I decided you don’t. Instead, you lean into the snowy Xanadu, buy all the hot chocolate, wine and comfort food you can get your hands on, and decide to make the most of it.

Or at least, I tried. We stayed in this tiny cabin which, while appealing, is a bit close quarters for a family of five, during a snow storm, while one parent is still trying to get some work done.

Cabin was cute, with beautiful views, but still … small is small, people!

Still, we absolutely made the most of it. At the end of the day, I’m so glad we got up to the mountains and spent a couple days in the fresh air. Here’s what we got up to!

Day 1: Our Arrival

We arrived after dark on Monday after making a pit stop in Winter Park for dinner at Hernando’s. Even in the dark, you could tell from the outside that the cabin would be charming. (And that this trip would be … ahem … an adventure!)

After my anxiety driving over Berthoud Pass and one carsick-induced puke (poor Emilia), it was really nice to stop off in Winter Park for dinner and a breather.
See? So cute and charming!
At least the girls are getting way better at sharing a bedroom! Bunkbeds are always preferred, but this worked, too πŸ˜‰
Emilia made herself right at home, testing out all the furniture and climbing over everything possible.
These little muffins sure are the cutest adventurers <3

Day 2: Grand Lake Adventures

Our first full day in Grand Lake called for snow, but we lucked out and got only a few flurries, combined with a mostly gloriously sunny day!
So we took advantage of our nice-weather luck and headed over to Grand Lake. If you’ve been here a while you’ll recall that we made a similar trek last spring break β€” with Nan and Poppa! β€” and it was just as much a hit this year as it was last!
This mom will interrupt the fun for selfies. Always. #sorrynotsorry
Just a coupla cuties, having a snowy blast!
I’ll never get over the fact that we were walking on a lake. Although this time parts of the lake were definitely more thawed than I would have liked, which was terrifying ….
Snowmen and snow angels were a must.
So full of love for these ladies.
Chris had to work while we were away, but the girls and I made the most of our lady time <3<3<3
This little one definitely doesn’t remember her trip out here last year, but she just might have a few glimmers from this one πŸ˜‰
The rest of our day was filled with equally as essential snow day necessities, including lunch at The Hub
Couch snuggles …
Family reading ….
And (very competitive!) family games!

Oh, and we also had to get our car towed out of our driveway when it got stuck on ice.

Never a dull moment, friends.

Day 3: Rocky Mountain National Park … and SNOW!

We woke up Wednesday morning to alllllllll theeeeeeeeee snowwwwwwwwww!
So up we suited and out we went … again! We spent the morning in our front yard before heading out to Rocky Mountain National Park, where our first stop was the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
Snow, snow, and ….
MORE SNOW!
Made for some cute pics, like this one (don’t mind Emilia … she had just stuck her hands in the snow without gloves on …)
And this one πŸ˜‰

After our early morning snowcapades, we loaded up the car and headed to Rocky Mountain National Park and the visitor center.

At first we thought the visitor center was closed because of how absolutely deserted the area was, but luckily it was open (guess we were the only intrepid blizzard travelers), and it provided us with about 45 minutes of activity, which was priceless. (Insert exasperated/exhausted face here.)

We wanted to try for a short hike after the visitor center, but it had started snowing pretty heavily again by then, so we scrapped that idea and opted for lunch in the town, instead.

But not without stopping for a RMNP sign photo first, of course!
If you don’t take a selfie … were you really there?!

Lunch was at Sagebrush BBQ & Grill, which was delightful, and I would highly recommend (as would Emilia)!

Back at home, the girls spent our final afternoon riding sleds and climbing up to the roofs of the cabins because THAT’S HOW TALL THE SNOW WENT.

My little adventurer. (This was obviously a Chris activity. I would have been WAY to nervous to let her do that!)

After one final night in our tiny cabin we were up and at ’em at 5 so we could get home in time for Chris to start his work day. Grand Lake, you ended up being a gem, despite my initial hesitation πŸ˜‰ I’m so glad we went.

The gorgeous (and at times terrifying!) road home.

And that was our trip, friends! Next weekend if my birthday (!), and we’re off again, this time to tick off a bucket list adventure that I’ve had since an 8th grade report. Any guesses?!

Until then … bis bald!

Old Friends, New Experiences, Loads of Memories

Happy Monday, friends! We celebrated the holiday weekend with a visit from one of my oldest friends and her husband and kids. Another one of my high school friends moved to the area recently, and this little mini-reunion between the three of us β€” along with my kids getting to hang out with Faye’s kids β€” was everything my soul needed.

Highlights included sledding in Majestic View Park, a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion, checking out Meow Wolf Denver, lunch at Avanti in Denver … and of course all the extra special bonding time. It’s sappy but true β€” old friends make the best friends.

It snowed quite a bit the day our NY friends arrived, so hanging in our back yard and having snowball fights was a highlight, as well.
The cuteness between these two is off the charts <3
Love this girl.
And this whole gang!

Here’s a bit more of what we got into β€” hope you all are having a happy weekend, as well!

Majestic View Park Sledding

Sledding down slick hills is THE BEST!
Snow cuties.
<3 <3 <3

The Butterfly Pavilion

My friend Moe is not a fan of butterflies, but she faced her fears for the sake of the kiddos πŸ˜‰
Lotte held a tarantula ….
Grace gave her a “high five”!
This place is so interactive and hands-on, it’s amazing for kids.
Butterflies!
This particular butterfly was in love with us and kept coming back …
Such a friendly butterfly!

A Day in Denver

On Saturday we headed into the city to check out the interactive Meow Wolf experience (AMAZING, if not somewhat overwhelming!) and have lunch.
There were four floors (I think, it was honestly hard to keep track!) and SO MANY interactive, amazing things to check out!
The exhibits all bled into each other so you spend the entire time in these realistic “worlds”.
I can definitely see how it would be overwhelming for some, but our kiddos all loved it!
This was OBVIOUSLY my favorite room … BOOKS!
We had a big group and we got separated for most of the visit, but we all met up for the lunch after and agreed that it was well worth the trip!
I told them to make faces like aliens were coming to get them.
My loves <3
Lunch after was at Avanti, and the weather was so wonderful we were able to sit on the roof with views of the city.

It was a fun visit with some very sweet moments that we’ll always treasure.

I can’t even <3
We had a birthday celebration for Faye’s husband after our Denver day, and the mini cowboy hats were a big hit.
So were the moustaches.
Come back real soon, friends <3

Bis bald!

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 complete 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

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.