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 …
Bis bald, friends — I hope you’re all hangin’ in there this summer and finding yourselves some happiness 😉
Life continues to be heavy, friends, and I know we’re all feeling it. Around the world it seems like we’re going about our daily lives — sending kids to school, getting dinner on the table, meeting work deadlines (or trying to) — while emotionally, we’re all dying a little bit inside.
The stories and photos out of Ukraine are heartbreaking, and what the kids are going through … it will be with them their entire lives. It feels wrong that this is happening, while I’m over here typing up a blog post, including photos of how we’ve spent our “carefree” time over the past few months since the holiday. It doesn’t just feel wrong, it is wrong.
And yet … here we are. In 2022, we live in a world where one insane leader has enough power (and money) to force an entire country of people into an unwarranted war, while we sit idly by and watch. All the donations in the world can’t stop us from feeling lost, but it’s all we have. Today I donated to World Central Kitchen (and TripAdvisor is matching my donation). This organization is currently working at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland and has expanded to provide meals to refugees as they flee to the neighboring countries of Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia. If you can, consider donating here, or at any number of organizations doing amazing work.
I can’t stop reading and thinking about and praying for the people for Ukraine, even as I try to keep a normal face for my kids. We’re so incredibly lucky to live where we live — despite the issues we put up with — and I hope we never, ever forget that.
Bis bald, friends — I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to lately.
And that’s about it, my friends. Hug those loved ones tight, be grateful for the good things … and help out where you can. It’s the least we can do.
Chris and his friend from New York have made it a tradition to climb 14ers in Colorado together, and while the pandemic derailed any plans for that tradition last year, they were back at it in full force this year! Below, Chris shares all the deets!
While 2021 is far from fantastic, thank goodness there are some freedoms restored from 2020. One of my best friends from New York traveled out to Colorado in early September and joined me for two days of hiking 14ers in the Sawatch Mountain Range. We had our eye on three 14ers, specifically:
*Mt. Elbert, which we tackled on Friday with some fellow running club teammates
Here’s our itinerary, in case it helps anyone else interested in doing something similar:
I picked Gavin up when he flew in on Wednesday and we drove straight to Buena Vista, a little town that’s about 2.5 hours west of Denver. Buena Vista is a great central location that gives you access to a wonderful mountainous playground.It was fun to spend the time in the car catching up and making up for lost time. We stayed at this great one-bedroom Airbnb (I crashed on the couch), and we checked out the Eddy Line Restaurant, a local brewpub I had remembered from a birthday lunch years ago. We prepped for the hike on Thursday by getting our food, drinks and gear ready and went to bed early. The AirBnB actually didn’t have a smart TV (the horror!) but they did have one of the best DVD collections I have come across, and we were able to rewatch some classics like Snatch, Fight Club and Dogma.
We woke up at 4:30 am and left to hike at 5:00 am. The trailhead for Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford is just a 33 minute drive from Buena Vista. The road to the trailhead is a pretty intense dirt road, but the All Trails directions got us directly there. We were hiking by about 5:45 am, which is way darker than I remembered. Still, a lucky flashlight in the car made it less intimidating (bringing a headlamp or flashlight is a must).
This hike was IMMEDIATELY hard. Usually, there is a gradual climb or a chill portion, but this hike was pretty hard the entire way. It also didn’t help that we somehow got off the trail and ended up semi-rock climbing up a waterfall and steep, rocky surface of a mountain. It was hectic, to say the least. Finally, we were able to find the trail, and almost kissed the ground when we did.
The rest of the summit was a slog made up of steep switchbacks, as it goes with 14ers, and we reached the top … only to see a thick, heavy cloud cover and some light sleet.
Feeling a little defeated by what we dubbed “the situation,” and seeing the sleet/cloud cover, we decided to bail on Mt. Oxford, the second peak we had planned to hike. Luckily, there was a truly mellow trail off the back of the mountain that was a Godsend. There was even a pretty magnificent rainbow that showed up around 13,000 ft.
The rest of the way down did feel never-ending, but it was very rewarding when we got back to the car.
Details: All told, we hiked 9.5 miles. This was the hardest 14er we have hiked to date (and it is only a Class 2). I would also do this later in July or early August to help avoid any cloud cover. We have unfinished business with Belford and Oxford, so we will be back!
We packed up and left the apartment at 4:30 am and made it to the Mt. Elbert parking lot by 5:20 am Friday … and it was already packed! We were lucky to snag the last parking spot (!) and began hoofing it with our running team friends, Joe and Zach.
Mt. Elbert was two miles longer than Mt. Belford, but the trail is better marked, and is very easy to follow, some hikers refer to it as the ‘gentle giant’. The weather was also incredible on the way up, chilly but sunny. We hit the summit by 8:50 am and took the obligatory pics, though there was some cloud cover that had rolled in.
After that we booked it back down, and we made it back to the lot by 10:50 am. From there we drove to Idaho Springs and stopped at Westbound and Down Brewing for some delicious (and well-deserved!) sandwiches and beer.
Details: All told, we hiked 11 miles and it was well worth it. It is certainly long, but the effort is paid off by the achievement.
After our hikes, Gavin hung out for some fun adventures in our hood including a pool and barber visit, a tap house, and a canoe ride. Overall, these hikes were hands down the hardest we have done to date (we’ve now done TK), but it was terrific to spend some time in nature and catch up on life after 2020.
Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a little nuts around here lately, so when our realtor recommended that we go away for the weekend while she had our open houses to sell our home (yes … we’re selling our first-ever family home … and that’s all I have to say about that for now), I really balked at the idea. We’ve been so busy, and the girls have been sick, and all I really wanted to do was lay in my own bed all weekend (obviously not an option anyway) with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.
But we decided to go away, since leaving the house on the spur of the moment for hours a time for showings didn’t sound like much fun either … and at the end of the day, I’m glad we did. It was nice to get a little breather away from the house (which has been the center of a lot of our stress, to be honest) and to spend some time in the mountains in fall. We ended up booking this place in Colorado Springs, which was actually part of a larger home in a gorgeous neighborhood, but we had our own entrance and it was completely cut off from the rest of the house, so it ended up being really nice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
^^ Grace’s face in this picture cracks me up!
^^ Christmas morning with Auntie Sarah — is there anything better?
^^ I may or may not have purchased these Christmas outfits about four months in advance for way too much money. Totally worth it.
^^ Grace & Jasmine = all the cuteness you can possibly handle
^^ Lotte was a straight-up celebrity on this trip, and you just know she ate up every second of it!
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 ….
Somehow, and don’t ask me how, our daughter is one.
This little light has been with us for a full year now, and there is no way that I can even imagine or remember what life was like without her. She is tenacious and spunky and funny and silly and smart and rambunctious and curious … and just totally amazing.
G’s birthday on Sunday rounded out a week of celebrations, starting with Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms on Thursday, my dad and stepmom coming into town Friday and hitting up the Denver Zoo Lights, then celebrating G’s birthday on Saturday with my dad and Judy before the left early on Sunday, as well as alllllll day Sunday with presents and cake and general merriment.
^^ I was fully unsure of how meeting Santa would go down for G, since she is not a fan at all of Santa when she seems him on Lotte’s cartoon, but we ended up getting this sort of fascinated reaction, which was beyond adorable. Lotte, on the other hand, was giddy with excitement while we waited in line, then got very shy when it came time to actually chat with him. Both reactions were priceless.
^^ We had never been to the Chatfield Farms branch fo the Botanic Gardens, but the 40 minute drive was totally worth it, because the whole event was spectacular. From lights and Santa to reindeer and hot chocolate and cookies and carolers – it was a great way to celebrate the holiday season!
My dad and Judy arrived early Friday and the girls was so excited to spend some time with them. We planned to hit up the Denver Zoo Lights Friday night, and I was a little worried because it can get crazy packed and be very cold, but here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on that we have discovered about events like this — pick the earliest time slot available, especially on a weeknight, if possible, and go then. We went at 5:30, which was the first time available, and we got an amazing parking spot and it wasn’t crowded at all. Plus, the weather was fairly mild, so it all worked out well!
Chris was very busy Saturday cooking all day for his Baby G. We had a pancake party in the morning, a quiche for lunch, and for dinner he made spaghetti and meatballs (G’s first time trying them both), as well as an adorable giraffe cake for dessert.
^^ I mean … how cute is this cake?!
^^ Walks by the lake are pretty much mandatory when people come to visit us, as well 😉
^^ These naked babes sure did love their spaghetti and meatball dinner … and especially the cake!
^^ Setting up G’s presents (and also Lotte & G’s Christmas presents, to be fair) for her to come down to in the morning was so much fun. We did this for Lotte for her first birthday as well, and it’s absolutely become one of my favorite traditions.
^^ The girls work up late Sunday and so my dad and Judy didn’t get to see them open their presents. They held a photo of the girls over the presents to prove they were at least here in spirit.
^^ You sure are loved, Baby G.
^^ I hope this spunky little lady of ours never loses her amazing energy and zest for life. You’re one of a kind, G, and we wouldn’t have it any other way <3
So Thursday it’s off to Australia! I’m hoping to get a post together before we head out about all the stuff we’re bringing with us that we hope will help with the littles on the plane. If I don’t get to it before we leave, though, I’ll definitely put one up after, including whether or not the things we hoped would work actually did work. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!
I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with that amazing view, right? Yesterday the girls and I said farewell to Chris as he headed off to Chicago to run the marathon on Sunday. He’s already run the Chicago Marathon before, but this will be his first marathon where I won’t be in attendance. Wah wahhh. In all honesty, I tried to find a flight that would get me (and probably G) in for the day to surprise him and to watch, but nothing got me there early enough because, if you didn’t already know, my man is fast 😉 Anyway, I’m sure he’ll have a nice weekend away with running buddies while the girls and I bond and hold down the fort back at home.
Before Chris left, though, we hit up our favorite pumpkin picking spot, Rock Creek Farm. It was Grace’s first pumpkin picking experience, but this was Lotte’s third visit, the first of which took place when her Nannan and Papa were here from Australia and she was not yet three months old. We really do love this little family tradition we’ve created. Here are some photos from our pumpkin adventures …
^^ You can’t win ’em all, right?! Seriously though, this photo cracks me up! Particularly G, who is looking like she’s very much over the tantrum her sister is throwing.
^^ Ugh with these two cuties … it’s too much!
^^ And of course, the aftermath back at home 😉 Plus some additional little pumpkins and gourds we let Lotte pick up that we placed inside. Oh fall, I love you so.
Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone has fun weekend plans!
Fall is in the air, my friends, and we are absolutely THRILLED. I’m about to admit something that many know about me, but some might find offensive … I am no lover of summer. The heat. The humidity. The bugs. Blech. No thank you!
But fall? Fall, my friends, I can get on board with. And fall in the mountains? Well that’s just plain magic.
So this past Sunday we packed up the babes and hit the road to head to Rocky Mountain National Park. Chris and I had been once before, but never with the kids. We purchased an annual national park pass on our trip to Sequoia and Yosemite last year, and this was our last chance to use it. Unfortunately the parking lot to the hike we wanted to do was full, so they were turning people away, but we managed to find another glorious walk and a nice little spot for our lunch.
We also stopped off at Estes Park —which is about 20 minutes away from RMNP— on the way, in an effort to avoid an upchuck from our carsick-prone toddler :/ Luckily, it worked! Lotte has been carsick twice now, and while it’s sometimes hard to tell if she’s actually not feeling well or is just sick of sitting in her car seat, we figure it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Here are some beauties from our Sunday adventures. Happy fall, ya’ll!
^^ Lake Estes Marina was the perfect pit stop to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
^^ This delightful human being just loves finding things on the ground to show us. Rocks. Leaves. Animal poop. Everything is fair game.
^^ We finally made it into Rocky Mountain National Park! Worth the wait …
^^ Any excuse to snuggle with my babe <3
^^ We tried to keep Lotte distracted on the car ride by telling her how much fun we were going to have in the mountains. Like, “We’re going to the mountains!!” It worked, because she kept pointing all around on our hike and saying, “It’s a mountain!” I love two-year-olds, and in particular, this one.
^^ These horses actually live on the street next to ours. Chris thought it was funny that I was so obsessed with them, but I just thought the whole scene was so beautiful and I couldn’t help but think where do we live?!
And that was it, my friends. It was a really fun Sunday with our little fam of four. October is a very busy month for us with Chris running the Chicago marathon next weekend and his birthday trip near the end of the month. Festive fall fun all around!
Happy Monday/Easter/April/My Birthday, friends! Wowza it was a busy weekend, huh? On top of all of that, today, my birthday, is my last day of maternity leave.
I don’t want to talk about that, though :/
To celebrate, Chris & the girls and I packed up the car and headed about six hours southwest to Telluride, CO. It’s a place Chris and I have been wanting to check out since we moved here (you’ll see why in the photos below), and we figured what better way to celebrate all of the above (not to mention Grace’s first big trip!) with a tick off our bucket list?
So that’s what we did! We all loaded into the car and left the house around 9 a.m. on Thursday, on the way to our destination – this amazing little apartment in downtown Telluride. A note about our place: it was really awesome. The price was unbelievable for the location, and even though it was a railroad setup (meaning we had to walk through our bedroom and what turned out to be Grace’s bedroom to get to the living room/kitchen), it worked well for us. Plus the amazing window seat looking out onto the river made for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities (not to mention heart palpitations, since the windows opened all the way up and there were no screens), and you know I love me a good photo opportunity 😉
Anyway, on this trip we took some amazing walks, rode the gondola to Mountain Village, checked out the library (which is a must-visit for anyone who has kids, in my opinion), had a picnic, helped Lotte participate in an Easter egg hunt on the mountain (sort of. we were late and the eggs were all scooped up by the time we got there, but two awesome people who worked there hid some for her anyway), and just soaked up all the family time we possibly could. Lotte was teething something fierce on this trip, and she had a cold and we think maybe the altitude was bothering her, but she took it all in stride. (Other than waking up around 4 a.m. every. single. night. See one of my photos below for a favorite memory of mine from the trip, all thanks to Lotte’s inability to sleep.)
Here’s some of what we got up to!
^^ These two never cease to amaze me. Like I mentioned before, it was more than six hours to our destination, and despite the long ride, they were both pretty amazing throughout the majority of it.
^^ See what I mean about the window? How amazing is that view?! It was definitely Lotte’s favorite spot in the whole place.
^^ Oh gorgeous Telluride – you really were spectacular.
^^ Picnicing amongst the mountains … is there anything better? (Besides picnicing with cookies amongst the mountains, that is!)
^^ As I mentioned, the library in Telluride is beyond amazing for kids. The kids’ section is humongous, with tons of toys and activities, and I think Lotte would have been happy to hang there all day.
^^ Tuckered out from her first day in Telluride 😉
^^ And here is the moment I mentioned earlier — my favorite memory of the trip. After struggling through the night with teeth that ached and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, my little boo woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday and was, obviously, exhausted and frustrated and in pain. It took a bit of coaxing, but eventually I got her to lay down next to me on the window seat, where we promptly both fell asleep for about an hour and Chris snapped a shot. Oh man, how I love these kids. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mom.
^^ On Saturday we hit up the gondola (G’s first gondola ride!) to check out Mountain Village, where we had lunch and took in the spectacular views. Bringing this easy-fold mini-stroller and the Beast was a stroke of genius courtesy of my husband. The Beast was essential for most of our mountain/trail walking, but on the paved paths in Mountain Village (and for riding on the gondola), this tiny, compact stroller (coupled with the Ergo for G) was definitely the way to go.
^^ Lunch at Tomboy Tavern was well deserved for this guy, who spent the majority of the day carrying G and the baby book bag and pushing Lotte in the stroller. Lucky me <3