Welp, friends … there goes another year. As the photo above indicates, we’ve had our highs and lows. I think the year didn’t quite pan out the way most of us were hoping it would, but still, there were bright spots to be found.
Here’s hoping 2022 brings you and your family all the happiness and cheer that you deserve! And here’s what we were able to get up to in 2021 …
We dusted off our travel boots for the first time in more than a year (!) this past April for a trip to the mountains. We headed to one of our favorite low-key spots — Granby Ranch — and the older girls even tried their hand at skiing for the first time.
The end of June and beginning of July was a busy time for us, as we packed up the car and hit the road for our trip out East! We started in Colorado and made out way out to New Jersey and New York and then back, stopping in a number of states along the way. (You can find all the gritty details here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
As the holidays rolled around, we were really looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with family back in New York. Unfortunately, Covid had different plans for us. Perhaps we’ll have better luck next year. Still, we managed to get a day in Manhattan, and we did get to spend actual Christmas Day with family, which was an upgrade from last year, so we’ll call it a win.
And that’s 2021, my friends. We’re looking forward to a quiet New Years Eve (and wedding anniversary, for myself and Chris <3) and planning for (hopefully) some fun travels to come in the New Year.
As you can see from that first photo, most of us were unhappy about this …
Actually, Chris and I went back and forth quite a bit about extending our trip. We had booked refundable places to stay on the trip back, exactly for this reason. Ultimately, though, we decided to keep things as they were. We had jobs and summer camp and track practice and a home to get back to, as much as we would have liked to have stayed for longer.
After saying goodbye to our family (we hope to see you soon!), it was a “short” four-hour trip to our hotel in Pennsylvania. Even though we arrived late, a super-wired Grace caught some fireworks at the end of the night with Chris. The next day we took advantage of the awesome indoor pool and grabbed some breakfast before heading out.
After pool time and breakfast in PA, we loaded up the car again and headed to our next stop — a playground/picnic and then a splash pad, both in Ohio.
World’s Biggest Things — The Stop We Never Knew We Needed
The rest of the trip — about four hours — to our Airbnb in Vandalia — was a bit rough, if I’m being honest. We were all pretty over the car, somehow both tired and wired, at the same time. Luckily, about an hour outside of Vandalia, we saw a sign for some of the Big Things in the Small Town of Casey, Illinois, and made the split-second decision to pull over.
Man, oh man am I glad we did … because how much fun are these?!
Coffee, Dragons and Arches
After our pit stop in Casey, we still had a couple hours to our Airbnb in Vandalia, but luckily the stop did what it was meant to do — wear the kids out! They all fell asleep on the ride to Vandalia and, luckily, this Airbnb was glorious. Three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a fully stocked kitchen with drinks and snacks. It was exactly what we all needed after a full day of travel.
After our Arch pit stop, it was back in the car for a few hours, until we stopped for gas and went for a quick detour for treats at the Ozarkland General Store…
After dinner we had a couple hours to our hotel in Oakley. We picked that particular hotel because it was just a few hours from there to our home in Colorado, and we needed to leave early Wednesday to get back.
And that, as they say, was that, friends! After countless miles, five hotels/Airbnbs and 11 states, we were back where we started! Being home felt lovely and completely odd, all at once. We are so grateful that we were able to have this experience, to see our people and to check out so much of the U.S.
At the end of the day, we wouldn’t have done anything differently … except maybe pay more attention to the rules of Dramamine earlier on in the trip. Sorry, Grace!
Here’s a quick look at all the places we stayed, visited and ate at during this leg of our trip:
Now for the super fun part … the money! We likely would have spent less money on this trip had we flown, even factoring in the cost of the flights. Gas is incredibly expensive right now, which was one factor. We also decided ahead of time that we didn’t want to scrimp on this trip. After not traveling for more than a year, we wanted to stop where we wanted to stop, eat what we wanted to eat, and stay where we wanted to stay.
And it worked out because, like I said, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Here’s how our finances broke down. We spent:
The grand total on this trip was almost $4,000 which, of course, is a lot of cash. Considering everything we did, though — including places stayed, food ate, things visited — for five people, it really wasn’t all that bad.
Plus, as the kids say, YOLO, my friends … YOLO.
And that was our trip! I hope each and every one of you — who has made it this far in this post! — has something equally as adventurous and amazing planned for the summer. Until next time, friends … bis bald!
I should start by saying that the ride out to the farm was less than optimal. (Think lots of things going wrong, including traffic and car sickness … it wasn’t our best ride …) So by the time we arrived, we had all about had it. The farm itself was very sweet, with lots of rescued animals for the girls to fawn over and fall in love with. I, however, was ready for a delightfully decadent shower, or perhaps even a lovely bath.
That wasn’t going to happen here.
Staying on the farm is a unique (and ultimately worthwhile) experience, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. I’d liken this stay to “glamping,” since there was a roof over our heads and running water, but it wasn’t fancy by any means (nor is it advertised as such … that’s just what I was hoping for at that particular moment in my life.)
Once we started to get over the effects of our gross ride, things got better. It was actually very sweet to see the girls react to the animals, to eat a picnic dinner on the table by the lake, to watch the fireflies outside next to a campfire and to fall asleep to the sound of bullfrogs, and all the other nature surrounding us.
In all honesty, we decided to stop off in Pennsylvania — and in this area in particular — because my sister and I are considering getting a lake house together and we’re scouting spots. We love the idea of getting a place together where our kids can grow up and visit throughout the year. Living far away from family is hard, but if we had a place like that — and a trip like that — to look forward to every year, it might be just a little bit easier.
After our one-night stay in the cabins, we decided to check out Hawley, PA and the cute zoo — Claws “N” Paws Wild Animal Park — in the area. We only got to spend a couple hours in Hawley, but I can tell it’s a very cute area, so we definitely plan to be back!
After the zoo, we were finally on our way to upstate New York, where we would be spending the rest of our trip. That included a stay at Grandpa Robert’s in Newburgh, one night at my sister’s in Middletown and one night at my aunt and uncle’s in Goshen. My aunt and uncle were kind enough to watch the girls for us while we attended a wedding, and we were forever grateful!
I’ll post separately about the wedding — because the beauty of it deserves a post all its own — but for now, here’s a bit of what we got up to in New York …
We always have the best time when we head back to New York, but it’s usually really hard to fit in seeing everyone who we want to see. Even though this was a quick trip, we got lucky and were able to cram a whole heck of a lot of visiting in. I am so grateful for all the memories we made with so many people we love. This was one amazing trip that we won’t soon forget.
Most of this portion of our trip included stays with family, but we did visit a few noteworthy places:
The Hawley Silk Mill is a cute little indoor shopping area that’s right next to Cocoon. After many iterations as a textile factory, silk factory and antique center, the factory has been repurposed into the shopping center that it is today.
Equilibrium Brewery is a fun place to check out if you’re in the Middletown, NY area (and if you like meat, which I don’t, but everyone says theirs is great!).
I’ll be back tomorrow with one of the most beautiful weddings we’ve been to. Until then … bis bald, friends!
Happy Tuesday, friends! Grace and I returned yesterday from our first-ever solo mom-daughter trip, and we had a blast! I’ve taken Lotte out to New York by myself twice in the past, and although it’s always a ton of work (major shout-out to all the single parents out there … oh my gosh is it exhausting!), I always have the best time bonding one-on-one with the girls individually.
This time Grace and I flew out to New York so that we could attend my sister’s two baby showers, one of which was actually in Pennsylvania. We got to hang with so much family, and Grace got to be the sole recipient of so many cuddles and kisses … plus she didn’t have to share her toys with anyone, which was a huge plus in her book! My sister had Monday off last week anyway, but then she ended up having snow days on both Tuesday and Thursday and she got out early on Wednesday, so all-in-all it was a great week to be visiting.
Happy Wednesday, friends! Lotte, Grace, Chris & I are back from a quick trip to Pennsylvania and New York, and we had the best time visiting with friends & family there. This was Grace’s first plane ride, and she did so great! Lotte was slightly antsy for about the last half hour of both rides there and back, but I guess that’s to be expected from an almost-two-year old, right? All-in-all I’d say they both did amazingly well.
We mostly flew back so that we could attend the second annual MS fundraiser that my sister and I threw in honor of our mom, which was a yoga session we held at Stone Wave Yoga in Gardner, NY. That event was amazing—with about $1,500 raised and counting!—but we also tacked on visits with my dad and stepmom, Jen & Kev and the boys, my grandma and aunt and uncle and cousins. It was a lot of driving back and forth for the girls, but they are true travel champs, and I honestly think they had the best time. I know I did.
Here are some of the highlights from our five-day, quick trip back east.
^^ This was Lotte’s 7th flight (14th, if you count back and forth!). Quite the little traveler for only almost-two 😉
^^ We picked up some kids’ pieces from the Love Taza Luggage Collection at Target for the trip, and while Lotte wasn’t sure about the headphones prior to the trip, she really seemed to enjoy them on the actual flight. The activity set was clutch, too!
^^Mommom & Papa’s house has allllll the toys, so Lotte was one happy girl once we got there!
^^ Saturday morning we had breakfast at my parents, then we packed up their car and headed to New York to stay at Steph and Brian’s for Saturday and Sunday.
^^ This was the first time Grace met my Grandmother (along with most of my other extended family!), and it really was such a special day for me.
^^ My grandmother with my children. I mean … it doesn’t get much more special than that <3
^^ My grandmother with all three of her great-grandchildren!
^^ Lotte is pretty obsessed with dogs lately, so getting to meet and hang out with Linus, my sister’s pup, was pretty fun for her, too.
^^ A friend of mine from college brought her son, Jacob, to the fundraiser on Sunday, and he was born exactly one month after Grace. How cute are these two together?!
^^ My girls, all dressed up for their grandma’s fundraiser.
^^ We had such a beautiful day for our event on Sunday, and Stone Wave Yoga provided such an amazing backdrop.
^^ Back at Mommom & Papa’s on Monday, we got to hang with Jen & Kev and the boys for dinner and a mini birthday celebration for me <3
^^ These two! Jude was born about two months before Lotte, and he was the first baby Lotte met when Jen flew out to Colorado when Lotte was first born. I hope they are always bonded.
^^ Can you even with these four?!
^^ And just like that, we were back on the plane Tuesday morning heading back to Colorado. Lotte was not into turning away from the window for this family shot 😉
My little Weary Wanderers! Traveling with kids is never not an ordeal, with all the stuff you have to bring and (occasionally!) all the whining you have to endure, but to me, it’s also never not worth it. There hasn’t been one trip that I’ve been on with the family that I have regretted. I hope that even though the girls are too young to likely remember these trips, having these photos will mean the world to them as they get older.
And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends! I hope everyone else is having a great start to the spring season, as well <3 Bis bald!
^^ The most amazing turnout — with the most amazing group of women — for the MS fundraiser in honor of my Mom.
So we’re back from our monster trip east, and Lotte & I had an amazing time. We saw so much family and so many friends, we covered miles & miles & miles in the car together (one of these days I’ll have to actually sit down and see how many miles we really drove), Lotte saw her first monuments in D.C., she spent tons of quality time with her Philly cousins, she was the hit of the MS fundraiser my sister & I held in honor of Mom at Wine & Design in Warwick, she attended her great-grandma and great-aunt’s 95th birthday party … and oh-so-many more important and amazing things.
Before we actually had Lotte, we weren’t exactly sure how much traveling we’d do with her. Traveling with kids is hard and at times very stressful, and let’s be honest, it’s not like she’s making lasting memories here. But you know what … we are. And I’ve come to realize as Lotte grows and goes through babyhood that that is just as important. These trips we take with her are some of my fondest memories, and I will never forget them. (Neither, luckily, will she, since I take extensive notes to put in her baby travel diary — complete with pictures! — and of course she’ll always have this blog to refer to, as well.)
The point is – yes, traveling with kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but so far, I am never sorry for the trips we’ve done with Lotte, and I only hope that continues.
Here’s a look at what we got up to over the past 10 days in photos. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another BIG shout-out to my husband for flying out and surprising us last Friday to be there for my Mom’s fundraiser, my Grandma’s 95th birthday party and, of course, to help on the flight back home with Lotte. Funny how four hands are so much better than two when it comes to flying with Littles 😉
^^ All prepped and ready for our first solo flight as Mom & baby! In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky Chris & I got with Lotte. She’s a pretty solid, amazing little traveler, so things might be a tad different is she were more difficult …
^^ We don’t have a dog at home, so Lotte’s only real interaction with them so far has been at my stepdad’s house with Ranger. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Ranger would react to Lotte at first — he can be a bit of a loose cannon — but especially in his older age, he tolerates her quite nicely, which is nice, because she is obsessed!
^^ Quick pit stop at Aunt Steph’s & Uncle Brian’s on Saturday to pick them up on our way into Pennsylvania for Rory’s 4th birthday party.
^^ These two together = major cuteness! Peyton, on the right, is actually three months younger than Lotte, but she’s almost the same size. It’s really only when she gets with other babies that I’m reminded of what a tiny nugget Lotte is!
^^ Dad’s fancy omelette bar on Sunday morning.
^^ Rory seriously loves Lotte, and it’s pretty much the sweetest.
^^ Cuddles with my babe on our first day in Arlington, Virginia, to visit Lisa. I think I honestly was just so relieved the car ride from Pennsylvania went well!
^^ This bear was pretty amazing to use as a backdrop in many-a-Lotte photo!
^^ Driving into D.C. to take in the sites — don’t let this innocent face fool you, she screamed the entire way in and the entire way out! Those two car rides — which must have amounted to about 20 minutes total — and the one back to Newark airport to head home were the only ones she fussed (or should I say threw a tantrum) for. I guess that was … lucky?!
^^ Patriotic Baby.
^^ In front of the Reflecting Pool … not impressed!
^^ At the World War II Memorial … not impressed!
^^ Heading to the Lincoln Memorial … not impressed!
^^ At the Washington Monument … not impressed!
^^ Visiting good ole’ Abe … not impressed!
^^ I mean … you get it. Lotte was not impressed! But it was a gorgeous day, and I hadn’t been back to these places myself in many, many years, so overall it was a pretty fun day!
^^ Tuckered out from all her touristing. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby??
^^ We were back in the car on Wednesday and back with Rory and Jude in no time (well, in about three hours, to be exact).
^^ I particularly love this photo from our trip. I took this after I opened up the back door of the car after our ride from PA back to New York (our FOURTH long car ride, mind you), and Lotte was just chillin’ in her car seat, giving me the BIGGEST smile when she saw me. Oh Lotte … how I love you.
^^ Deep conversations back at Aunt Stephie’s house.
^^ When your husband surprises you and flies to New York for the weekend and you can breathe because you finally have full-time help again. Single parents … I have never had more respect for you than I do after this trip! Oh and Lisa also got into town this day, too, so it was almost more than my little heart could handle, all my lovies surrounding me 😉
^^ Delicious crinkle cookies Lisa made for the MS fundraiser.
^^ Making sangria for the party!
^^ I seriously love this photo of Lisa, after we picked up balloons for the party.
^^ Lotte was a tad grumps during the fundraiser — girlfriend deserved to be! — even when seeing her future boyfriend Miles again.
^^ Between the paint & sip fundraiser and online donations, we raised more than $2,000 for MS research. Speechless. And oh-so thankful.
^^ After the fundraiser it was on to my Grandma and Great-Aunt Vicki’s 95th birthday party, which my aunt did a fabulous job setting up.
^^ Ugh these two cuties!!!! Can you imagine knowing — and liking! — someone for 95 years?!
^^ Lotte frequently gets this look on her face when she’s around her Great-Grams. I can’t help but feel like she honestly understands what this woman means to our family, and to her.