The Rustic Wedding of Every Instagram Account’s Dream

IMG_5866
Happy Monday, friends! We spent the weekend in the Albany area for my cousin’s wedding, and it was, without a doubt, the most gorgeous wedding I have ever attended. The M&D Farm describes itself as a rustic chic farm for barn and garden weddings, and every one of those words describes the exact atmosphere of Alyssa’s stunning day. Although it poured right before the ceremony and they had to move that part inside, the rain stopped just in time for cocktail hour and for the rest of the night, so we could wander around and check out the grounds. We also rented a house in a town near the ceremony that had a pool and lake and lots of land for the girls to run around on, so all-in-all it was a pretty successful and fun weekend.

IMG_5623IMG_5625IMG_5621IMG_5622IMG_5708IMG_5709IMG_5710IMG_5711IMG_5712IMG_5713IMG_5714IMG_5715IMG_5717IMG_5716IMG_5718IMG_5644
^^ My cousin also invited us to the rehearsal dinner Friday night, which was at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Albany. My scallops were so tasty and, as an added bonus, it was nice to be out without the girls for a night (and then a second night on Saturday for the wedding) 😉

IMG_5851IMG_5849
^^ Look at this gorgeous couple <3

IMG_5853IMG_5871
^^ We stopped at the cutest little diner for breakfast on the way out of town on Sunday.

IMG_5867IMG_5868IMG_5869IMG_5870

And that was our wedding weekend in a nutshell, friends. I have to throw in some photos of the little outing my sister put together for Lotte last Thursday to celebrate her birthday — we did Build-a-Bear (how cute is it there?!) and then went bowling for the first time with the girls. G was upset she couldn’t pick up every single heavy ball she saw, but Lotte really had a ton of fun, including all the fried food and ice cream that came with it 😉

IMG_5547IMG_5548IMG_5549IMG_5550

And that brings us to the end of our trip, friends. As you read this, we are probably on our flight back to Denver. We have been in New York for 13 days, and to be honest, I’m ready to get back to my own bed and our normal routine and all that jazz. I’m so glad we were able to make this trip happen, though, and I will have these memories — so many memories — to tide me over for a long time to come.

That and the fact that my sister and brother-in-law and niece baby will be out to see us in a couple weeks, too 😉

Bis bald, friends!

Central Park and the Upper East Side With Littles in Tow

IMG_5451
Happy Thursday, friends! Our New York adventures continued yesterday with a trip into the Big Apple. Lotte had been once before when she was about four months old, but this was Grace’s first time, and I think we packed in just about as much fun as a 3-year-old and 19-month-old can handle for a day 😉 My stepdad drove in with us, which was lovely, and we met Chris in the UES, since he was coming back from a work trip in San Francisco on the red eye.

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

IMG_5426IMG_5425IMG_5427IMG_5428IMG_5429IMG_5430IMG_5431IMG_5432IMG_5433IMG_5434
I ditched the family for a little bit to grab coffee with an old magazine editor of mine near the park, but Lotte and G continued their adventures with Dad and Grandpa, checking out and riding the Central Park Carousel, seeing the Bethesda Fountain and the John Lennon Imagine memorial, as well as taking in all of the performers (they were particular enthralled by a bubble artist!).

IMG_5445IMG_5446IMG_5447IMG_5444IMG_5448IMG_5449IMG_5450IMG_5457IMG_5458IMG_5460IMG_5459

After a full morning we headed over to the Central Park Zoo. I had been to the zoo a couple times before, but this was my first time checking out the adjacent Tisch Children’s Zoo, which was so adorable. There were a ton of animals the kids could feed and touch, as well as a bunch of mazes and climbing structures for them to get their wiggles out.

IMG_5435IMG_5436IMG_5437IMG_5438IMG_5439IMG_5440IMG_5441IMG_5442IMG_5443IMG_5462IMG_5461IMG_5452

Even after all of that, perhaps my favorite part of the day was bringing the girls to check out our actual old neighborhood. We stopped by our old stoop to take a family photo, and even grabbed lunch at our old neighborhood pizza joint, the best there is, Zesty’s.  As if my heart hadn’t had enough for the day, the guys who work behind the counter even remembered us from back in the day.

Le sigh. Oh, New York. You will always have a piece of my heart.

IMG_5455IMG_5453IMG_5454IMG_5456And that was our jam-packed city day, friends! I hope you’re all braving this weather (it was stinkin’ hot in the city yesterday!) and having the best summers. We’re off to Albany tomorrow for my cousin’s wedding, and I can’t wait. The farmhouse we rented has a pool and a lake and tons of space for the girls to run around and play – it should be a good time.

Bis bald, friends!

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

IMG_4395

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! Tomorrow we’re off to New York City with the girls, then Thursday is a birthday extravaganza for Lotte that my sister has planned, and then Friday we’re off to Albany for my cousin’s wedding festivities. The girls are having just about the best time they could possibly have and I, while exhausted, am, too 😉

Bis bald, friends! Please enjoy our vacation so far, courtesy of the 7,000 photos I’ve taken 😉

 

IMG_4396IMG_4397IMG_4398IMG_4399
^^ Liberty State Park is our new favorite tradition. This was the second time we’ve stopped there on our way from Newark to my sister’s place, and both times it’s been just the most glorious. The girls can run around and get their kicks out, and the views cannot be beat.

IMG_4400IMG_4401IMG_4402IMG_4403IMG_4404IMG_4405IMG_4406IMG_4407IMG_4408
^^ Selfies with tired children who haven’t napped all day and only want to play on the amazing playground that’s so close!

IMG_4438
^^ My niece … aka the real reason we come 😉

IMG_4439IMG_4441IMG_4442
^^ Lotte slept every nap and every night in the tent in my friend’s basement in her Woodstock home, and I think it will forever be her favorite memory.

IMG_4502IMG_4503IMG_4504IMG_4505
^^ Glorious views from Carla’s backyard.

IMG_4506IMG_4507IMG_4508IMG_4530IMG_4531IMG_4532IMG_4533IMG_4759
^^ MY BABY IS THREE!!! I am still in denial, but in the meantime, we threw her a space-themed shindig, complete with a dad-created rocketship cake (which Lotte said was her favorite part of the whole party), tons of friends and family, a space tent, a ball pit, a splash pad and a blow-up slide/pool, plus Dippin’ Dots, my friends! Who even knew you could order Dippin’ Dots?! I do now 😉 They were the hit of the party, for sure.

IMG_4760IMG_4761IMG_4762
^^ My gorgeous birthday girl <3

IMG_4763IMG_4764IMG_4765IMG_4766IMG_4767IMG_4768IMG_4769IMG_4770IMG_4771IMG_4772IMG_4773IMG_4774IMG_4775IMG_4776IMG_4777IMG_4778IMG_4779IMG_4780IMG_4781IMG_4782IMG_4784IMG_4785IMG_4872IMG_4873IMG_4876
^^ I cannot with these two <3

IMG_4881IMG_4883IMG_4884IMG_4885IMG_4894IMG_4915IMG_4916IMG_5043
^^ On Monday night we visited the Sunflower Valley Farm for family photos, and it was so spectacular.

IMG_5044
^^ They even had baby cows and goats, which of course we could not tear the girls away from.

IMG_5045IMG_5046IMG_5047IMG_5050IMG_5051IMG_5054IMG_5055IMG_5056IMG_5057IMG_5059IMG_5060IMG_5062IMG_5064

And that was six days in 70-something photos – not too shabby 😉

Happy summer, friends!

Savoring that Sweet Summer Feeling

IMG_2996
I have a secret to share, friends … I’ve never really been a huge fan of summer.

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

You see, kids love summer. And what’s NOT to love about summer when you’re a kid? All they know is that they get to be outside all the dang time and they couldn’t care less about sweat. Or frizzy hair. Or sticky bodies. Or anything else that adults (just me?) care about. The interesting thing, though, is that in trying to shift my mindset, a funny thing has happened … I’ve shifted my mindset! I mean … summer can be GREAT! If you forget about all those things I already mentioned (and insects, and bees, and thunderstorms, and … okay, I’m running away with it again ….) then summer really is great!

So here’s to making the most of things for those you love, even if they aren’t really and truly your favorite things to begin with. Here are a few ways we’ve been really trying to get into the spirit of the season…

IMG_2999
^^ The Ralston Central Park and Splash Pad are an absolute must when the temps soar. Get there as soon as they turn on (around 10 a.m. most days) so you can beat the crowds (sort of) and avoid the hottest part of the day.

IMG_3056
^^ The Denver Children’s Museum has tons of stuff to see and do inside, but their outside area — including this sand pit — is a big draw for my girls, as well.

IMG_3083
^^ I have to give a major shout-out to Chris, who has put so much effort and love and care into our own backyard, that most days the girls don’t even want to leave the house (which is always, always fine by me!).

IMG_3085IMG_3122IMG_3125IMG_3165IMG_3170IMG_3263
^^ We are just the luckiest to have Standley Lake Regional Park basically in our backyard. The lake is gorgeous to check out even if that’s all you do, and the prairie dogs will keep the kids entertained for hours. There’s also the bald eagle sanctuary, tipi rentals for camping and canoes and kayaks that you can rent by the hour.

IMG_3264IMG_3265IMG_3266
^^ We took the little ladies for a canoe ride over July 4th weekend, and it was glorious. It was Lotte’s third time, but G’s first, and she actually held in there for longer than I expected!

IMG_3267IMG_3268IMG_3271IMG_3274IMG_3276IMG_3277IMG_3278IMG_3279IMG_3280IMG_3281IMG_3282IMG_3284IMG_3300
^^ Breweries in the area offer plenty for kids to do these days as well, like run in laps (Oh, that’s just my children? Okay, then.), check out the dogs, and lots of them even have games. The one in the photo above is New Terrain Brewing Company, but really, they’re all pretty kid friendly.

IMG_3319
^^ Lotte takes swim lessons on Saturday mornings at the Apex Center, and this past weekend G and I joined in for a swim in their amazing indoor water park area. They have an outdoor splash pad area, as well.

IMG_3434
^^ We’re members and regulars at the Denver Children’s Museum, but up until this summer I never felt like we’d get a lot out of a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Lotte’s latest obsession with planets and space and space travel, however, meant that a visit to the museum’s space section (and corresponding planetarium Sesame Street show) was a big hit!

IMG_3436
^^ Lotte in her “spacesuit,” (aka my tea towel), which she insisted on bringing to the museum. I cannot get enough of this age.

IMG_3440IMG_3446
^^ After the museum, we had a picnic at Denver’s City Park and let the kids run around. This is such an amazing area because the museum, a splash pad, the zoo, a bunch of playgrounds and the lake (where you can rent pedal boats) are all right there.

IMG_3447
^^ I swear there is nothing this kid loves more than eating outside 😉

IMG_3448IMG_3449IMG_3450IMG_3451IMG_3452IMG_3453

And those have been my brazen attempts at embracing this season so far, my friends. I know summer technically just began at the end of June, but really, once July is over, isn’t everyone already looking forward to fall?

Oh, that’s just me, too? Okay, then.

Well, for now I’ll keep plugging along, making the most of this sweltering season, as long as it makes my littles happy <3 Bis bald, friends — I hope you all had amazing July 4th holidays!

Father’s Day, Colorado Style

IMG_2762

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

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

Happy Father’s Day, Chris!

IMG_2763IMG_2764
^^ Chris didn’t ask for much for Father’s Day, just a hike at Clear Creek Canyon Park and some brewskies at Golden City Brewery. It was such a glorious day, and such a wonderful view.

IMG_2765IMG_2766IMG_2767IMG_2768IMG_2769IMG_2770IMG_2771IMG_2772IMG_2773IMG_2774IMG_2775IMG_2776

Happy Father’s Day, all — and bis bald!

Making Memories on Memorial Day in Upstate New York

IMG_1872

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 — sans children! — 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.

Having those three full days was so nice because we really got to space out our activities and combine some chill time with some other fun things, as well. We got to visit my Grandmother on Saturday morning, and then Steph and I got drinks and appetizers at the most adorable little spot in New Hampton called Mason’s Marketplace. On Sunday we visited the Warwick Foot Spa & Tea Bar for a little relaxation and reflexology before heading over to the Gardiner Brewing Company, which is really and truly a fun little gem, and I’m not just saying that because Brian’s sister Meg was integral in setting it up and works there (even though, you know, seeing her cute face does help – hi Meg!). We met up with Brian’s parents there, as well, and a high school friend of mine, before heading over to my Aunt and Uncle’s place on Memorial Day Monday to hang with them and my cousins and my cousins daughter. Then my stepdad stopped by Steph’s place on Tuesday before I flew out.

Even though I got to pack in time with so many different people, because they were all spaced out it didn’t feel overwhelming like it sometimes can. Plus, with the girls not there, I got to actually focus on my conversations without any distractions.

Besides Rosalie, obviously. Her constant cuteness is always a distraction to me 😉

I did miss the girls, obviously, but honestly, sometimes it’s just so nice to have a little one-on-one time. You Moms get me.

I would be remiss if I ended this post without mentioning the amazing woman who sat in my aisle on my flight back. Apparently a hail storm in Denver two days earlier had grounded 29 Southwest planes with damage, so the airline has really been struggling to play catchup ever since. My flight was originally supposed to leave at 6:20 p.m NY time on Tuesday, and after being delayed two hours, being rerouted through Canada (which would have been an extra 1.5 hours of flying time) to avoid weather, then sitting on the tarmac for three hours, unloading back into the airport, then loading up again … we ended up finally leaving around 11 p.m. NY time. By the time I got my luggage, found the car (shout-out to Manny the Matrix for avoiding any hail damage in the airport parking lot!) and drove home, I wasn’t in bed until 3:30 a.m.

Tired doesn’t begin to cover it.

But anyway, about my seat-mate. She was about 75-years-old, has five grown children (one of whom is a pilot with Southwest), had lost her husband when her second child was just graduating high school, was a nurse, worked in Saudi Arabia and now spends her time traveling the globe. She was just coming back from Spain on Tuesday and was supposed to catch a connection in Denver to Phoenix, which obviously didn’t happen. When we departed at the airport at around 2:30 a.m, she was just waiting for her luggage so she could go find an open restaurant in the airport to eat something before heading to her next destination. With luggage in hand, she decided to skip Phoenix altogether and simply continue her adventure. She thought maybe Vegas sounded good.

I mean, she was basically my hero, wrapped in a tiny little 75-year-old woman’s body. Traveling the world by herself. Unfussed by the insanity that traveling can sometimes present. At one point when she was first explaining how she had just come from Spain and had been traveling all day I said, “Oh wow! I shouldn’t be complaining then!” to which she laughingly replied, “No, you shouldn’t!”

I love her, is all I can say.

Anyway, I hope you guys all had nice holiday weekends, as well!
IMG_1907IMG_1944IMG_1963IMG_1938IMG_1964IMG_1958IMG_1988IMG_2018

A Girls’ Weekend in Nashville

IMG_1166
That right there is most certainly the picture of two very happy mamas. Why? Well because, as I’ve come to discover, finding the time to hang with your girlfriends — just you and your girlfriends — is just as important after you have babies (maybe even more so?) as it was before.

I say this as someone who waited almost three full years after becoming a mom to do so.

Carla and I began planning for this past weekend’s trip to Nashville in February, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. Besides the fact that Nashville itself is adorable (which pretty much everyone knows by now, but I had never been before), I got to remember what it was like to travel on my own (no screaming babies!), to sleep through the night, to have an uninterrupted conversations, to dress up and do my hair and stay out past 7 p.m.

Listen — it’s not that you can’t do those things as a mom as well, it’s just that they are harder, oh so much harder. This trip was such a nice reminder that I can have my separate life as a friend and leave my babies for a couple days, then come back home and slide right back into our life and everything is totally okay.

Chris had a great time on his own with the girls, as well. So you know, it was basically a win-win!

Lucky for me, Carla is an amazing travel planner (we were roommates in college our freshman year, but we also traveled abroad to Germany and Salzburg together, so I already knew we were a good travel match), and she sent me an email about a week before we met up with a tentative itinerary, complete with reservations she had made and tickets for a show that she had already purchased. The thing is, she was also way flexible if I wanted to make any changes to her proposed plan, but why would I when I knew that whatever she suggested was bound to be great? Plus, it was super lucky that she had made reservations at the places she knew we might want to hit up since, low-and-behold, not only was it the Nashville Marathon on the same weekend, but the NFL draft, as well, which brought 200,000 people to downtown Nashville.

I was expecting this revelation — which I only found out about three days before leaving — to put a real damper on the trip, but honestly, it had little to no impact. Where we stayed (the Kimpton at first, then, after Carla left, the Hyatt House) wasn’t anywhere near the main drag where the draft was taking place, so we were never bothered.

Instead, we planned our days around food, pool hangs, drinks and live music … and it was a splendid experience.

IMG_1052
^^ Our first stop on Friday night was The Mockingbird, where we drank rum and punch in a bag, sat outside, watched allllll the bachelorette buses go by and caught up for a couple hours.

IMG_1054IMG_1055

We didn’t stay out too late Friday, since Saturday was a busy one, starting with coffee by the hotel pool and brunch at Husk, which included shrimp and grits (the JMU college girl inside of me was so happy they had that on the menu!), biscuits and bloody mary’s.

IMG_1136IMG_1137IMG_1138IMG_1139IMG_1140
After Husk we walked down the main drag where the draft was happening and the marathon was finishing up. It was early enough that it wasn’t too crowded yet, and it was actually fun to take part in something that so many people were so excited about. We walked around and soaked it all in, then did a little bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel.

IMG_1141
^^ How I refrained from buying these for Lotte, I’ll never know.

IMG_1142IMG_1143
After some more lounging by the pool (and an afternoon snack and coffee at Caviar & Bananas) we headed off to dinner at Rolf & Daughters. I knew I would love it there when the evening started with a drink menu theme of ‘things you would say after you won the lottery’. The drink I picked (you love me, you really love me) was good, but the food was even better.

IMG_1151IMG_1152IMG_1153
You might think that by this point I’d be getting full, but really, I’m pretty good at eating 😉 Especially when it comes to pasta, I can really dig in for quite a while before I need to slow down. It’s something to see.

After dinner we headed to The Listening Room Cafe  to watch three performers. The three guys sat on stage with their guitars and belted out everything from country to hip hop to rap to R&B. And they were really good, but at one point they brought a college girl up on the stage to perform just one song, and she just blew everyone away. Seriously, it was a standing ovation for this girl, which made me so happy for her.

IMG_1168

Carla left Nashville on Sunday, but not before breakfast at The Row Kitchen & Pub. Although it was too early for me to order a bloody mary (stupid laws), the beignets and breakfast were fantastic.

IMG_1176IMG_1177IMG_1178

After Carla left, I walked over to my new (cheaper!) hotel, had a little rest and then hit up 12South, a sweet little section of Nashville that has tons of restaurants and shops (including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James) and, of course, murals. All the murals.

I didn’t know much about the murals before going to Nashville, but it’s a thing. People will stand in line for an hour to take a selfie at the mural that Taylor Swift commissioned. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in any lines. People were taking photos of these murals, but they must not have been the really popular ones, because for the most part, I could walk right up and shoot.

IMG_1217IMG_1218IMG_1219IMG_1220IMG_1221IMG_1223IMG_1224IMG_1225IMG_1226IMG_1227
Lunch on Sunday was at Taqueria del Sol, where I ordered a marguerita, the trio of salsas, a fish taco and a veggie one, and sat outside on their deck watching all the people go by. The weather was gorgeous, and I so rarely get alone time these days, I didn’t even mind having lunch to myself which, I’ll admit, would normally make me feel somewhat self-conscious.

Back at the hotel, I called it an early night with a glass of wine and cable (which we don’t have). My flight left around 2 on Monday, but I had time to walk to Hillsboro Village and get breakfast and coffee at Fido first.

In the end, this trip had it all. Catching up with an old friend. Good food and drink and music. Down time. Pool time. Fantastic weather. And even some alone time tacked on at the end, too. I came home yesterday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to join back up with these amazing peeps of mine …

IMG_1229

The heart just melts, am I right? Because being away helps us realize all that we have right at home.

And for me, there’s a lot to be thankful for.

Bis bald, friends.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough …

IMG_0299

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

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

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

Let me back up and start by saying, Lotte has been getting car sick lately. It hasn’t happened every time we’re in the car, but four or five times is more than enough in my book, and the altitude and windy roads don’t seem to make it better. All of that is to say — planning a getaway that revolved entirely around driving up a long, high, and very windy road sounded nuts.

But still …

There was a small part of me that felt like taking on at least one 14er — especially one that you can drive rather than hike up — would be amazing, and to do it with my daughters would be even more so. So I started doing a little research on kids and car sickness and came across these Sea-Band wristbands for children:

C2C3AD8F-2CC8-4ECF-B68E-30DB4E6A8705

You can’t pick the color you get (which apparently made a lot of people angry in the Amazon reviews … ), but Lotte and I both are lovin’ the camo-colored ones she ended up with.

IMG_0129

I’ll save you the suspense and just say — these bands are amazing. I think that I put them on a little low in the picture above on our drive out to Woodland Park, which meant that they worked (aka no vomit), but Lotte did still complain a bit about not feeling well.

However, after much hemming and hawing, Chris and I decided to try our luck at driving up the 14er on Saturday with Lotte & G in tow (we had been doubting ourselves all Friday night and decided to make a game day decision), I am happy to report that Lotte not only did fantastic on the trip — both up and down, for a total of about 2 hours of driving, much of it across twisty-turny switchbacks and climbing about 7,000 feet — but she actually seemed to enjoy it!

G, on the other hand 🙁 Poor Grace — we think her ears must have bothered her with the pressure change, so if you do decide to take on this trip, that’s definitely something to keep in mind. We had crackers for both she and Lotte to chew on, and tons of water to drink, so I still feel like we did the best we could, but for older kids, gum would probably be a good idea, as well.

Here’s a bit of our stay in Woodland, amazing 14er included!

IMG_0130
^^ We stayed in this mountain cabin, which was wonderful for our little family. The girls sure do love exploring new places, and other than the huge fireplace (which we kept unttouched) there wasn’t a whole lot they could get into trouble with. The only bathroom was in the master bedroom, which would probably be a problem for friends splitting this cabin, but for families, it worked out fine.

IMG_0132IMG_0133IMG_0134IMG_0135IMG_0136

After a Friday filled with exploring, we hit the road around 10 a.m. for the 10-minute drive over to Pikes Peak. We had a car filled with snacks and water and hearts filled with anticipation … and hope that Lotte would be okay which, luckily, she was!

IMG_0284IMG_0283IMG_0285
^^ Our family selfie game leaves much to be desired these days 😉

IMG_0286IMG_0287IMG_0288IMG_0289
^^ The Big Foot sign relatively early in the trip is sure to pique your interest 😉 Check out more about the myth behind the big man and this big mountain right here.

IMG_0290IMG_0291IMG_0292IMG_0293
^^ After driving very slowly and stopping as much as possible — for both photos and for breaks for the girls — we arrived at the top! The view is amazingly well worth the drive which, to be honest, wasn’t even as difficult as some other mountain drives I’ve been on to simply get somewhere to snowboard. Here are some of the most important things you need to know about this drive, according to the Pikes Peak site: 1. You drive through four of Colorado’s six life zones. 2. You can actually stop and fish at 9,200 feet. 3. They serve hot donuts at the top! 4. On the clearest day, you can see five states including Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Kansas.

IMG_0294
^^ Oh, and you get to snap photos like thisssssss!

IMG_0295
^^ AND THIS!

IMG_0297IMG_0298
^^ AND THIS!!

IMG_0296IMG_0300IMG_0301
^^ Those are donut crumbs on Lotte’s face because, well, you just know we had to get some of those!

IMG_0302IMG_0303IMG_0304IMG_0306
^^ After a rough ride up and a rough beginning at the summit (poor thing!), baby G passed out in the visitor’s center at the top. The altitude (and all the crying :/) probably wore her out. I am happy to report that her ride down the mountain was much better. We fed them both lunch on the ride home, and while it may seem counterintuitive, for some reason it always seems to make Lotte (and G, I guess) feel better when eating in the car.

IMG_0305
^^ Blissfully uncaring of the fact that she just (accidentally) kicked my brand new cup of coffee off the stool and that it splattered all over the place :/

IMG_0307IMG_0324
^^ Doesn’t get much more glorious than this.

After taking our time at the top, we finally headed back to the cabin. Chris took a little walk with the girls, and he surprised me with these amazing shots at the end of it:

IMG_0322IMG_0323

Then we headed out to dinner and called it a night.

Sunday we decided to try for a hike in the morning, but about .25 miles in it got too snowy and we had to turn around. Still, it was nice to stretch our legs for even a little bit.

IMG_0458IMG_0455IMG_0456IMG_0457

Then, before heading home, we decided to take a drive through Garden of the Gods. It was G’s first visit, and while it was packed, we were able to pull over on the side of the road at one point and snap a couple awesome shots.

IMG_0459IMG_0460IMG_0461IMG_0467IMG_0468IMG_0469IMG_0466

And that, my friends, was my birthday weekend! It was a weekend full of fun, firsts and family, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way <3

I’ll leave you with some parting thoughts about the drive up to the Pikes Peak summit, in case you ever want to take it on yourself:

  1. I’d suggest getting acclimated to higher altitudes as much as possible before driving to the top. In other words — don’t fly into Denver from Florida and drive directly to the mountain. Even though we live in a higher altitude, I still felt dizzy at the top.
  2. Takes tons and tons and tons of water. We brought full bottles for the girls, a big, full bottle for ourselves and then bought an extra gallon to refill everyone’s stuff along the way.
  3. Bring snacks. Altitude makes you snackey.
  4. Have a good car, and know how to drive it. If you’re renting a car, be sure to request one that’s all-wheel drive, and then know how to work the gears. I have never shifted gears in our automatic car, and I’m just glad Chris was there to talk me through it, because burning your breaks on the way down is a very real possibility.
  5. Dress for multiple climates. Depending on the time of year you go, it could be sunny and warm on the bottom and pretty chilly up top.

Bis bald, friends — I hope you’re enjoying your adventures, wherever they bring you!

A Glorious Sunday Hike at South Table Mountain

IMG_8089

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

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

So this hike is only about 20 minutes from our house, in Golden, but we had never been on it before. It’s about .6 miles up and pretty steep (even though it’s called an “easy” trail on AllTrails, don’t believe them!), but the views are glorious.

IMG_8068IMG_8069IMG_8070IMG_8071IMG_8072IMG_8073IMG_8074IMG_8075IMG_8076IMG_8077IMG_8078IMG_8079IMG_8081IMG_8082IMG_8083IMG_8084IMG_8086IMG_8090IMG_8093IMG_8092

The elevation was only a little over 400 feet, which is steep to climb, but isn’t so bad if you’re worried about altitude. All-in-all it was a great hike, and since it’s in Golden there are tons of restaurants and shops and breweries to hang out in after.

So that’s how we spent our Sunday, friends, and today is a holiday Monday, and it doesn’t get better than that. Bis bald, friends!

Christmas Down Under

img_8792

So much amazing Aussie family goodness in that photo above, am I right?

Our Aussie Christmas Eve and Christmas were filled with good company, good food, and for the first time ever, no rain on my Aussie Christmas day! Seriously, though, this was my third time in Australia for Christmas, and it was the first time it didn’t rain 😉

Rain or no rain, we would have had a great couple of days celebrating Christmas with our family, anyway, We splashed around in the pool (well, Lotte & Chris did, while G and I spectated), cracked open some Christmas Bon Bons, and ate some delicious food.

Christmas was also the first day that Lotte & G got to meet all five of their cousins, which was only the most fun ever. Sophie was born three months before Lotte, and Jasmine was born only one hour after Grace! It sure was great finally getting all seven of these little ones together.

img_3693
^^ Grace’s face in this picture cracks me up!

img_3687img_3690img_3694img_3725
^^ Christmas morning with Auntie Sarah — is there anything better?

img_3724img_3728 (1)img_3949
^^ I may or may not have purchased these Christmas outfits about four months in advance for way too much money. Totally worth it.

img_3953
^^ Grace & Jasmine = all the cuteness you can possibly handle

img_3954
^^ Lotte was a straight-up celebrity on this trip, and you just know she ate up every second of it!

img_3955img_3956img_3961img_3962

 

2018: A Year in Review

IMG_1293

Well friends, somehow — and I’m really not sure how — 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 ….

January
January started out with us getting used to being a family of four, which was made easier by the fact that Chris’ parents were still here helping out, and then my Dad & stepmom, sister and brother-in-law, and a whole slew of friends, all came out to help, as well.

IMG_1943IMG_1938IMG_1939IMG_2043IMG_2045IMG_2473IMG_2133IMG_2139IMG_2239IMG_2245IMG_2250IMG_7631IMG_4586IMG_3805 (2)

February
I continued on with my maternity leave in February and celebrated Grace’s first Valentine’s Day with a visit from my bestie.

IMG_5352IMG_5267IMG_4931