Big Birthday Surprises & Bringing in the Holiday Back in NYC

My sis & I have been keeping a secret …

Hello, friends … welcome to December! With the holiday and the end of the year right around the corner, things are insane! Which is why we were so lucky to get the chance to shoot back to New York one last time to see all our loves.

(Mind you we’ve visited our favorite state quite a bit this year, documented here and here and here and more!).

To start, my sister & I planned a surprise 60th birthday bash for our stepdad, and it was so much fun! He was so surprised!

This motley crew is my absolute fave πŸ˜‰
These little cuties were so excited to surprise grandpa!
We had 40+ friends and fam waiting for him β€” he thought he was just having lunch with us, his immediate family. Quite the reception πŸ˜‰
I love how much time we’ve been able to spend with family this year. It truly means the world.
These cousins will grow up with such a special bond, despite our geographic distance.
The girls got to spend time with family they haven’t seen in so long!
We capped off Gpa’s surprise party day with a big cousin sleepover. So. Much. Fun!
We sure do love our gpa <3

After our day upstate celebrating Grandpa, we spent a quick few hours in NYC on Sunday before flying back that night. We met up with our forever besties, took in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City, and walked the Bryant Park holiday shops in the glorious rain.

It was the girls’ first Rockettes experience, and it did not disappoint! Even Emilia stayed entertained πŸ™‚
I kept looking over at all three girls throughout the show to see their expressions. Absolutely priceless.
My girls are all getting so big, so celebrating these special milestones (and seeing your first Christmas Spectacular in NYC IS a milestone!) with them means so much to me.
Carla and Ryan and Fiona and Jake joined us! We got a amazing view of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree on the way out!
She sure is a beaute!
Pure joy, even in the rain.
Faye & Miles & Stella met up with us at The Perfect Pint after the show!
These two could not be cuter.
Then we walked to Bryant Park in the rain. It was still wonderful.
Bryant Park is one of my all-time favorite places in the city, and especially during the holidays.
Gloomy & gorge.
Thanks for trudging through the rain with me, guys!
The skaters were literally skating through puddles. That’s what I call dedication.
Max Brenner hot chocolate for all!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

And that was our trip, friends. It’s always too short β€” even when we stay for weeks! β€” but always very sweet. Until next time, NY …

Now it’s on to our next adventure … Europe for Christmas in JUST. TWO. WEEKS! We’re meeting Chris’ parents for a winter adventure in Germany, Switzerland and, hopefully, Iceland (if a certain volcano can make up its mind). We are very excited, but also ready to relax for the two weeks until then.

Until those updates … bis bald, friends, and happy holidays!

Labor Day Weekend in Upstate New York

Happy September friends! I hope you all had amazing, restful Labor Day weekends. We spent ours back East with our beloved NY fam for my sister’s twins’ baptism, of which Chris & I had the honor of being anointed their grandparents at.

Tell me there is something cuter than these babes. I’ll wait.
Any time we can all get together like this feels pretty dang special. And lucky. And all of the feelings.
The priest let whoever wanted to come up to the pulpit to watch while the baptism happened, which was pretty special, especially for the littles.
After the baptism, Steph & Bri threw a party back at Brian’s parents’ place, which was so much fun.
Nothin’ but smiles <3

The baptism and afterparty were the main events of the weekend, but we snuck in some quality hang time at Grandpa’s, some quality pool time at my brother-in-law’s parents’ house, and some quality drinking/relaxing time at Angry Orchard, as well.

Mojo the dog is definitely a main event at Grandpa’s <3 He’s good value, as Chris would say.
Grandpa’s Epic Breakfasts are a main event, as well! You better come hungry …
I cannot. Cannot. Cannot. <3
Water babes.
Em snuck in some quality Uncle Brian time.

Steph had never been to Angry Orchard β€” an orchard that distills hard apple cider β€” but it’s well-known throughout New York so it was fun to go and check out where the magic happens.

They know how to get those instagram posts.
These orchards had me dreaming sweet fall dreams…
Have I mentioned how much I <3 my sister?
I am obsessed when our babies get together <3
Thanks for a fun time, Angry Orchard!
And thanks for hosting this stone-cold group of crazies, Gpa!
We DO <3 you NY, and we’ll be back real soon!

Well I, specifically, will be back at the end of September for my cousin’s wedding, which made this goodbye sad, but not as sad as it would have been had I not had that to look forward to.

Because plans are what keep me going, friends! So until then … bis bald, my loves!

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

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!

Short & Sweet Trip Back East (the Mommy/One Daughter Version)

Fresh off an awesome visit to see our lovies!

Happy Friday, friends! Lotte & I just got back from the sweetest little trip back east where we got to do so many fun things! Some of these fun things included visiting Lake Wallenpaupack, pool lounging with family and meeting more family out for dinner … Steph & I even snuck into the city where we met up with some of my friends for brunch before seeing Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite.

It’s been a rough couple of …. years?! Honestly. With our last trip back to New York being the roaring success that it was (ahem…it was not), it was nice to head back this time, even with just the two of us, to see our beloved friends and fam.

Ignoring the news for a few days provided a much-needed reprieve, as well.

Anyway, friends, here’s some of what we got up to …

Me and my oldest, ready for adventure!
Cutest cousins <3
We met up with my friends at Valerie, which was the perfect location for seeing Plaza Suite after, and very tasty, too.
Just a couple of tourists.
The play was so cute! The tickets are pricey (we sat at the very tippitty top!), but even just to see those two act together was totally worth it!
It rained Monday morning, so we headed to Billy Beez (similar to our Urban Air) to let the girls get their jiggles out πŸ˜‰
Tuesday was gorgeous, so we hit up the pool at my bro-in-law’s parents’ house … the girls had a blast!
Couldn’t let the girls have all the fun …
Dinner Tuesday night was with family we didn’t get to see over Christmas because of Covid, so this was pure delight.
Wednesday was also gorgeous, so we headed to Lake Wallenpaupack in the town where Steph & I hope to find a family lake house we can buy together. Until then, frequenting the area to get to know it better is lots of fun!
Because my sis is the cutest, she even planned an early surprise birthday celebration for Lotte, who of course was floored.
And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends! I’m so glad I got to spend this time with my little love, who ….
… is the best dang travel companion around <3

Bis bald, friends β€” I hope you’re all hangin’ in there this summer and finding yourselves some happiness πŸ˜‰

2021: A Year in Review

They can’t all be good photos, right?!

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 …

April

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 β€” Granby Ranch β€” and the older girls even tried their hand at skiing for the first time.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lotte, Grace & Emilia cuddled up on our couch in the cabin.
Chris and the big girls posing on frozen Grand Lake.
They look a little weathered here because this was after their lessons … but I HAD to get a pic of the two of them with their adorable little set of skis!
We wrangled the kids to take a quick selfie when we got out on the lake in Grand Lake.

June

By the time June rolled around, Chris and I were fully vaccinated, and we were able to start hosting some of our favorite people at our house again. We also went on a fun mountain/lake hike, Lotte continued her adventures in skiing and started running (well, that was pre-June, but I blogged about it in June!) and we continued to find adventures everywhere we could in the great Colorado outdoors. We also spent Father’s Day in one of Chris’ favorite places.

Grandpa came for his first visit in more than a year!
Lotte started track!
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Me and my JMU girls πŸ˜‰
We sure do love a good splash pad!
Just a dad and his trio of ladies.

July

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.)

Cody Park, Nebraska
Cody Park, Nebraska
The Bean in Chicago!
Brigantine Beach, NJ
These cutie cousins <3
With Atlantic City in the background
Staying at a real, working farm in Pennsylvania was … interesting!
One of the best stops on our trip home!
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
entering Colorado on the way home
Colorado State Line

Then, at the end of July, our firstborn turned FIVE!

August

We hosted more of our besties in August, Lotte started kindergarten, Grace returned to preschool and we managed to make it to Frisco for one final summer mountain visit.

Frisco, Colorado
Frisco, Colorado
Em’s first Frisco visit!

September

We hosted one of Chris’ good friends in September, and they hiked a 14er (a tradition they started years ago). We also spent Labor Day at Standley Lake with friends.

Kayaking on Standley Lake
Kayaking on Standley Lake
Standley Lake, Arvada
Standley Lake, Arvada

October

We spent October in our traditionally favorite way … with all the fall activities!

December

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.

Times Square is never not entertaining!
Grace was very taken with the Rockefeller tree πŸ˜‰
Snow on Christmas Eve was a perk!
Christmas Day cuties
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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.

But until then … bis bald, friends!

The Drive Back: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado

On the road again!

After a glorious farm wedding on July 3rd, we were back in the car on the 4th to start our trip home!

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.

It was Em’s first Fourth of July, and she spent it in the car! She didn’t seem to mind πŸ˜‰

The Long Road Home

Rather than driving straight through β€” like we did on the way out β€” we planned for three stops on the way back home. We stopped at a Comfort Suites in DuBois, PA, an Airbnb in Vandalia, Ohio and a Sleep Inn in Oakley, Kansas. We would also be making some touristy stops throughout, to break the trip up even more.

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.

One of my favorite photos from the trip was taken at a gas station on our way to a hotel … go figure.
This random pic at another quick rest stop was another gem <3
We love hotels! (And are also very excited to be out of the car!)
I mean, look at this awesome pool!
So fun!
Naturally, I enjoyed from afar πŸ˜‰
Fun with luggage trolleys.

After pool time and breakfast in PA, we loaded up the car again and headed to our next stop β€” a playground/picnic and then a splash pad, both in Ohio.

This playground in Ohio was so cute, and totally empty!
We only stayed here for a quick run-around and to have a picnic, but Emilia approved.
We drove about an hour from the playground to this random splash pad in Ohio. It was on the smaller side, but on a 90+-degree day, it definitely got the job done!
Splash pads and playgrounds really take it out of ya!
And we were off … again!
Thanks Ohio … we’ll see ya later!

World’s Biggest Things β€” The Stop We Never Knew We Needed

The rest of the trip β€” about four hours β€” to our Airbnb in Vandalia β€” 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?!

Who knew big things could be so much fun?!
It was late, and starting to get dark, so we couldn’t see everything, but what we did see was so. much. fun!
World’s biggest rocking chair! (Allegedly …)
This is the world’s biggest wind chime!
Next was the world’s biggest golf tee!
Then onto the world’s biggest mouse trap?! I don’t know, but we loved it all!
What would it be like to write with the world’s biggest pencil?
I don’t think this was part of the actual attractions, but at this point in our trip I sure didn’t mind seeing my kids contained somewhere I wasn’t πŸ˜‰
Checking out the world’s biggest mailbox!
There was a fountain behind the mailbox where you could throw in coins and make wishes. Bet you could guess what my wish was! (Hint: Getting to our next destination quietly was involved …)
Such an adorable town, and definitely worth a stop on your way by it!

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 β€” 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.

This cutest little drive-through coffee shop β€” Shimoji Coffee β€” on the way out of Vandalia was so lovely!
The Kaskaskia Dragon is easy to visit on your way out of Vandalia! You can grab some coins at the store across the street to make him actually breathe fire!
About an hour later, we were at The Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Chris and I visited the Arch on our drive out to Denver from New York when we moved here, but it has since gotten an upgrade to National Park status. The museum is amazing now, and the grounds have even gotten an upgrade. It’s definitely worth revisiting if you haven’t been back in a while!
The museum is so much fun!
There are a lot of fun things for kids to do and see, too.

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

One of each, please!
After Ozarkland it was on to Topeka, Kansas, where we stopped for dinner at The Pennant. This restaurant was perfect, because it had games and bowling and plenty of run-around space for the girls. Plus, it was right downtown, which was fun to check out!

Downtown Topeka, Kansas fun!

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.

Grace, exhibiting perfectly how we all felt waking up early on Wednesday to head home after our whirlwind trip.

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!

The Details

Here’s a quick look at all the places we stayed, visited and ate at during this leg of our trip:

The Finances

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:

  • Hotels: $1581
  • Gas/Tolls/Parking: $770
  • Food/Groceries/Entertainment: $1112
  • Miscellaneous: $250

The grand total on this trip was almost $4,000 which, of course, is a lot of cash. Considering everything we did, though β€” including places stayed, food ate, things visited β€” 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 β€” who has made it this far in this post! β€” has something equally as adventurous and amazing planned for the summer. Until next time, friends … bis bald!

The Sweetest Farm Wedding in Upstate New York

This was the gorgeous view from the hilltop at the wedding we attending on July 3rd.

The night before we started our trip home, we attended my brother-in-law’s sister’s wedding at her fiancee’s family farm.

Wright’s Farm is the sweetest little family run farm in Gardiner, New York. They don’t typically hold weddings there, but they do have a brewery, apple and pumpkin picking and a farmer’s market. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Cute as it is normally, attending a wedding there is next level! Unfortunately they don’t normally do events, but fortunately for us, we were able to attend this one because the bride just happened to be my brother-in-law’s sister. Lucky us!

The cocktail hour started at the bottom of the farm in the brewery, which is run by the groom (and his now-bride!). They had live music throughout the day, which was very on-brand πŸ˜‰
After the cocktail hour, guests were sent up the hill to the tent for the ceremony. Although the forecast for the day was dreary, the afternoon/evening ended up being gorgeous, with no rain and, maybe even better, no beating sun. It was a perfectly lovely, overcast evening for a perfectly lovely wedding.
Wrights Farm wedding view
There’s nothing like a beautiful wedding with some of my favorite people.
Every last detail of this wedding was so pretty, from the location and music on down to the table settings and the food.
I love a good tractor picture!
My younger sister was in the wedding, and my older one attended as a guest, as well.
Grandpa Robert was there, too!
We loved the venue, what can I say?!
Andddddd … we like to party!
The perfect ending to a wedding that takes place the night before the Fourth of July? Fireworks, naturally!

That, my friends, was the farm wedding in a nutshell. There were so many more amazing details I could have captured, if I weren’t too busy having fun πŸ˜‰

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with this road trip finale … our 3-day car ride back home!

Our Road Trip Continued: The Pennsylvania and Upstate New York Edition

Paddle boats on the lake behind our Airbnb in Pennsylvania were definitely a perk.

Welcome back, friends! After our delightful stay in Brigantine, we were ready to hit up our next destination β€” an Airbnb attached to Billy’s New Hope Barn in Honesdale, PA.

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.

The farm is right next to the cabins on the property, so we walked over pretty much as soon as we arrived.
After this trip Grace won’t stop asking for a cat, while Lotte has her heart set on a dog. Either way, I’m not ready for a new pet, so here’s hoping they forget soon!
I do love a cute barn scene.
There are a ton of animals on the farm that are being rehabilitated from less-than-optimal settings. The girls loved being able to feed and pet them all.
Too cute.
This was the view right outside our cabin, and the girls couldn’t wait to get out on the water with Chris the next day!
That quiet life.
Taking it all in.
I made Chris stay near the cabin on his run that night (hah!), but this view wasn’t too shabby!
Like I said, the girls were ready to go the next morning!

In all honesty, we decided to stop off in Pennsylvania β€” and in this area in particular β€” 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 β€” and a trip like that β€” 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 β€” Claws “N” Paws Wild Animal Park β€” 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!

Livin’ her best life, always!
Lotte was thrilled they had lions, as they are her favorite animal πŸ˜‰
These cuties <3
So much to explore!

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 β€” because the beauty of it deserves a post all its own β€” but for now, here’s a bit of what we got up to in New York …

No visit to New York is complete without a stop in Equilibrium, Chris’s favorite brewery.
Our stay with Grandpa Robert was delightfully chill, filled with barbecues and walks with Ranger.
It was love at first sight for Emilia … not so much for Ranger!
Me and my girl <3
Grace and Ranger, on the other hand, had a love affair going on!
Our last morning before leaving Grandpa’s.
The girls had THE BEST time at my Aunt and Uncle’s!
It was so sweet seeing them together, especially with Em, who they were meeting for the first time!
Seeing Em with my sister for the first time on this trip was pretty special, too <3
Cousin love.
These photos were actually taken on the night Chris and I went to the wedding and my aunt and uncle watched the girls. I mean … look at that face!
My aunt and uncle planned such a fun night for the girls β€” including cooking and campouts! β€” and we were so grateful.
Taking fabulous care of our kids AND making homemade scones for us the next day? I mean … why did we ever leave?!

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.

The Details

Most of this portion of our trip included stays with family, but we did visit a few noteworthy places:

I’ll be back tomorrow with one of the most beautiful weddings we’ve been to. Until then … bis bald, friends!

Solo Mother-Daughter Dates Back to New York

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Welcome to mid-February, friends! This year, as expected, is already breezing by. And this year, as expected, has already been filled with its fair share of ups and downs, highs and lows. Sadness and happiness. This is life, am I right?

On one of the happier notes, Lotte and I just returned from a solo mom/daughter trip back east to celebrate my niece Rosalie’s first birthday. I can’t believe how quickly that year flew by, so I can only imagine how her parents must feel. This trip was super quick β€” just Thursday night through Sunday β€” but it was so amazing. We got to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the fam, I got to visit my grandmother, we celebrated Ro at her first birthday party and saw so many friends and family<3 Going back east is always a whirlwind, but it’s never not worth it. And this solo trip with Lotte β€” our first since Grace was born, our third in total β€” was so much fun. At 3.5, Lotte is at, I believe, the perfect travel age. Despite the fact that she’s traveled quite a bit, flying on an airplane is still magical to her (as it should be!), and she has the best time eating snacks, watching shows, coloring, reading … basically all of her every day activities are made that much more fun when they’re done mid-air.

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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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Making Memories on Memorial Day in Upstate New York

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If you are looking at that above picture and thinking, “Stop it. Just ding dang stop it right now,” then you know how I feel about my new adorable niece.

Before I get any further, let me start this post by stating that I have a fabulous husband. As a surprise birthday treat, he booked a little New York getaway just for me β€” sans children! β€” for this past Memorial Day weekend. I flew in on Friday and got to spend a glorious three and 1/2 days with Steph and Ro and Brian (and a whole cast of other amazing people, as well), before flying back (and landing at 3 a.m. – thank you hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms and hail … oh my) on Tuesday.

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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 ohΒ 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 πŸ˜‰

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 β€” and so will we <3

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Cousins Are for Life

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Is there anything in the world quite like holding your baby sister’s first baby in your arms? I’ll go ahead and answer that for you β€” no. No, there is not.

I just got back this past weekend after nine days out in New York, the purpose of which was to do just that β€” hold my baby sister’s first baby in my arms.

And, you know, help out, however I could.

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2018: A Year in Review

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Well friends, somehow β€” and I’m really not sure how β€” this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.

So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….

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Ticking Things Off Little Lotte’s Bucket List

Happy Tuesday, friends! The above video is of my little Weary Wanderer, about to explore her world. We just got back from a trip East for a whole bunch of fun reasons. We celebrated my sister’s 30th birthday (only a month early, no big deal), visited with my Grandma, saw all the cousins, and of course, ticked one big thing off Lotte’s bucket list – seeing the Statue of LibertyΒ in person.Β 

I don’t know how it started, really, other than the fact that Lotte has about five New York City books, but she has really become obsessed with the Statue of Liberty, and it’s the most adorable thing ever. So, when we flew into Newark, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. It was a really fun time for us, and Lotte was so in awe. It’s definitely something Chris and I will never forget.

The rest of the weekend was amazing, as well. We spent two days at a mountain house that a friend of ours was renting near Woodstock, and Lotte had an amazing time playing in the pool and running around with my friend’s daughter, and Grace had the best time playing with her son, who is one month younger. We also visited a whole bunch of new locations (like Weeds Orchard and Brown Barn Farms) and on Sunday, we met up with Robert for breakfast at Chadwick Lake Park before hiking a trail near the lake that was built and dedicated to my Mom by an Eagle Scout neighbor of hers. They had been close and he was so upset when she passed, that this was something he wanted to do for her. The trail was beautiful, and being there with the girls meant so much to me. I’m glad this place will be there to be able to take the girls for years to come.

Here’s a bit of what our trip looked like …

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^^ Lots of photos even before we left airport, because that’s what a one-hour delay will do to you.

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^^ And there she is, in all her glory! Lotte literally whispered “Statue of Liberty!” when she first saw her … she was so blown away. We spent about two hours at the park, which is so amazing, and let the girls run around and get some energy out before heading on over to my sister’s.

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After spending the night at Steph’s on Wednesday, we headed to Woodstock to hang with Carla and her daughter and son at their summer house. It was so much fun to spend time with them, playing in the pool, barbecuing, drinking and chatting.

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^^ This moment where we spotted a frog in the grass and let Lotte hold it was pretty special to me, too. The extent of her knowledge about frogs up to that point had been seeing them in books and knowing that they say, “ribbit, ribbit.” To watch her see and touch one in real life was a super fun moment.

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^^ This crew <3

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^^ Linus and Grace were having a little love affair with each other all weekend long, and it was kind of the cutest.

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^^ Brown Barn Farms was the cutest little spot! The drinks were good, the view was glorious, and the food truck served up some tasty dinner, too.

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^^ Heading out to Aunt Stephie’s early birthday party at Weeds Orchard with the fam.

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^^ On Sunday morning we met Robert at Chadwick Lake Park to have a quick breakfast and then head over to the trail that was built in my Mom’s memory. It was a great day.

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^^ This is such a crazy picture for me. So this tree is a part of a larger tree that used to live near my old elementary school, Balmville School, and this was the Balmville Tree. It was the oldest tree in the U.S., and when it started to rot, they decided to preserve parts of it and put it in Chadwick Lake Park as a memorial. I hadn’t seen it in this spot before, though, and to see my daughter standing in a tree that is so synonymous with my childhood, it was a little surreal.

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^^ Love, love, love this crew <3

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^^ And later in the day it was back to my sister’s to meet up with my Grandma and have a little barbecue before we headed out super early on Monday morning.

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And that was our trip in a nutshell. It went by super fast and was jam packed, but the girls had a really great time, I think, and I loved spending that quality time with all the people we were able to see. Trips back east are always busy, but they’re also always amazing, and being able to bring my girls along for the ride … it really means so much to me.

The plane ride back home was not our best, since both girls were entirely exhausted and yet not interested in sleeping (Grace napped for about 20 minutes and Lotte not at all), but we pulled out the big guns with all the toys and books and snacks and “TV School Bus” (aka videos), and we made it through.

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And just like that, we were back in good ole’ Denver. And also just like that, it’s almost September?! How in the how did that happen? I do love Fall, though, and we have our big Australia trip to look forward to, so big, good, fun things ahead, my friends.

I hope you all have had wonderful summers, and until the next time … bis bald!

A Trip Back East & Little Grace’s First Flight

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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 amazingβ€”with about $1,500 raised and counting!β€”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.

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^^ This was Lotte’s 7th flight (14th, if you count back and forth!). Quite the little traveler for only almost-two πŸ˜‰

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^^ 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!

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^^Mommom & Papa’s house hasΒ allllll the toys, so Lotte was one happy girl once we got there!

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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.

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^^ My grandmother with my children. I mean … it doesn’t get much more special than that <3

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^^ My grandmother with all three of her great-grandchildren!

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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?!

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^^ My girls, all dressed up for their grandma’s fundraiser.

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^^ We had such a beautiful day for our event on Sunday, and Stone Wave Yoga provided such an amazing backdrop.

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^^ 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

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^^ 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.

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^^ Can you even with these four?!

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