A Wonderful Week in Winter Park With Our Aussie Family … and Then Some

Our Aussie family has finally been able to visit!

But HOW is it the last week of March, I ask you?!

I know — we all end up saying the same thing every year. The time flies, and suddenly your kids are so old you can’t believe it. It always amazes me.

Anyway, I digress. The REAL news to report this week is that WE FINALLY GOT TO SEE OUR AUSSIE NAN AND POPPA! After far too many years of Covid-induced distance, Chris’ parents were at last able to hop on a plane and fly back to see us. Lotte & Grace had not seen their grandparents since October of 2019, and Emilia had never met them. So to say that this was a monumental event for everyone is an understatement.

The Connor’s trip coincided with the girls’ spring break, which was lovely because we were able to spend a week in Winter Park together, as well as have them experience taking the girls to and picking them up from school.

They’ve attended ballet class.
We’ve visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
We had a nostalgia-filled dinner at one of our favorite restaurants from when we first moved to Arvada.
We’ve played dress-up and walked to Majestic View Park and played games and watched movies.

In other words, we’ve simply had the most amazing time and I refuse to believe that it will be ending soon. Our plan is to head out to Australia for Christmas this year to catch up with all of our Connor family, so we’re all very busy keeping our fingers and toes crossed that that can still happen.

In the meantime, we have no less than 20,000 photos to keep on loop from our time over the past two weeks.

All the happy faces <3
This little one has thoroughly fallen for her grandparents
Chris and his dad cooked a yummy traditional Australian bread for dinner one night
Nan & Poppa bought us ice creams in the park BEFORE dinner one night — doesn’t get better than that 😉
Lotte had two ski lessons while her grandparents were here, one of which they attended and cheered her on throughout
Pizza tasting at Crosscut in Nederland before skiing in Eldora was a highlight, as well

Besides having Nan & Poppa here to just live our lives with us for the past two weeks, the trip out to Winter Park was so much much. We stayed at this Airbnb, which was the perfect location for viewing the best times to visit the hot tub and swimming pool (a favorite activity amongst our group), and it was a short walk to the sweetest little sledding hill with community sleds to share. The girls also had an absolute blast hanging out in the bunk beds together.

Our itinerary included a visit to Grand Lake, as well, which was one of our stops on our first-ever vacation as a family of five last year. Chris cooked delicious food, we played games, explored a new-to-us ski town, and generally had a delightful little getaway.

Grand Lake is so much fun in the winter!
Chris and I snuck away for lunch and margaritas at The Ditch, which was SO TASTY

You might imagine that two visitors from Australia would be exhausted after all of the above, but that’s just not how my in-laws roll. They are up for absolutely any and everything, and they are happy to do as many activities as possible when visiting their grandkids. So, we thought taking them to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science would be a fun activity for the girls’ last day of spring break. This place is so fantastic for kids, since it’s created for them to be able to run around and touch whatever they’d like. We had the best day, followed by a lovely dinner at Jack’s, one of our favorite neighorhood joints.

Dinners out with three kids is SO MUCH BETTER with grandparents 😉

And now we’re staring down the final few days of our visit with these lovely people which, to be honest, we’re all a bit in denial about. Seeing family is always the best thing in the world. Saying goodbye … not so much. To have something to look forward to — like our trip in December — does help soften the blow, I’ve found.

I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your spring season. Until next time … bis bald!



Where I’m Donating to Support Ukraine, and a Little Bit of Life Lately

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.

Grace and Chris have gone skiing most weekends since we got back from Christmas, and it’s the definition of adorable. He brings them to Eldora, which is the perfect little mountain for kids.
She’s getting so good at it, too!
Meanwhile, Lotte started ski lessons this past weekend as well, and she is, as you can see, too cool for school 😉
I cannot wait for us all to get on the mountain together <3
Besides skiing, the girls have also been in swim classes at the YMCA, which has been so much fun.
Sledding at the girls’ school for the first time was an experience. (Hint: Everyone goes really fast!)
Chris ran a race a few weeks back to raise money for the victims of the Boulder fire. As usual he was very impressive, coming in 8th out of more than 800 people!
Tiny supporter <3
This one keeps us on our toes and smiling!
Meeting up with Lotte’s kindergarten class at Urban Air Adventure was a highlight for both Lotte & Grace.
The coolest!
Drinks with a friend at the new Mexican restaurant Lady Nomada in Olde Town Arvada was quite restoring.
Lotte seems to have a birthday party every other weekend to attend, and I’m not mad that after 2+ years of hibernating, she’s finally able to socialize the way kids should. It’s the most fun to watch her flourish.
We made a REAL thing out of Valentine’s Day this year because we’ve decided that there’s just not enough to celebrate in life anymore, so why not celebrate where we can <3
There were a lot of hearts in our day <3
And smiles <3
Coffee and treats at Kneaders after school and before Lotte had ballet was a highlight.
We’ve had lots of awesome-weather days during these past few months, and when that happens we always try to take advantage.
Majestic View Park is never not one of my favorite spots.
<3
<3<3
The Denver Zoo is another of our fave nice-weather activities.
Especially when it involves merry-go-round rides!

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.

Life Recently: Returning to “Normal”

Living that post-vaccine life … or getting there, at least!

Happy almost summer, friends! This year we have … plans?! For things to do?! And how crazy does that feel after the year and a half we’ve all just had? I mean honestly, a friend of mine mentioned that after she got her first shot she expected balloons to fall from the ceiling and a marching band to play. Obviously that didn’t happen, but what did happen was that we’ve started, slowly, to return to what our life looked like pre-Covid.

Lunch at an outdoor restaurant in Golden when my stepdad came to visit a few weeks ago. It was the first time we had physically been to a restaurant in more than a year, and man oh MAN did it feel good!

It definitely took me a while to get into the swing of things, but I’ve now gotten my hair done, we’ve had dinner at an indoor restaurant and guests and playdates at our home. We’ve started to open our lives back up, and while that’s awesome and amazing and wonderful, there’s a small part of me that still longs for the quiet days. The older girls are in summer camp from now until school starts in the fall, Lotte has started track and we have a monster road trip planned from Colorado out to New York (and back!) to see family we haven’t seen in more than a year, to head to the beach for a couple of days and to attend a wedding.

All of this feels … almost too good to be true. And while I’m grateful to be able to do these things — see our family, most importantly — I’m also staring at our (overfilled) calendar and remembering the days when there was nothing on it but to hang.

So I propose a challenge, dear friends, to bring back the things that give you joy in your life when you feel comfortable doing so, but to also say NO to more things that don’t. That’s a tough thing to do — especially when it involves keeping your littles from doing things — but for me, at least, I think that’s the only way I’ll stay sane as we dip our toes back into life.

Bis bald, friends … and stay safe out there!

My birthday celebration back in April … I felt the same way the girls did about the cake, I just hid it better than they did 😉
Real Simple helped me with our Easter table this year, and I could not have been more pleased. Was it just me, or has anyone else out there become obsessed with home goods during lockdown, as well?
Two of my three Easter bunnies <3
Outdoor parks and playgrounds continue to be our preferred places to hang, but we’re slowly opening up to indoor playdates and dinner parties, too, which feels oh-so-lovely.
Lotte went spring skiing with her dad again at A-Basin, and we even got her a season pass for next year. I love that she’s loving this sport, and I can’t wait until we can all go together as a family!
We honored my Mom on the 5th anniversary of her death with a family Zoom and, of course, making her (in)famous cinnamon buns.
The girls continue to find happiness in everything they do, which is truly the most inspiring.
This crew has become very good at finding new playgrounds to enjoy … and Em is just along for the ride.
My stepdad came to visit! We surprised the girls and they were SO EXCITED! It was truly adorable. Not to mention that Grandpa was the first grandparent that Em got to meet. It was a happy, happy time.
We headed to Golden with Grandpa, which is one of our favorite spots to bring guests. It truly never disappoints.
And we ate at a RESTAURANT! The Golden Mill just opened up along the creek, and it was so lovely to be out and about in a way that we hadn’t in so long.
That outdoor beer life <3
Emilia, taking in those mountain views.
These girls are picnic pros at this point!
Our little preschool graduate! Lotte is off to kindergarten in the fall, and honestly, I cannot talk about it …
Lotte has also started track! Which of course makes Chris endlessly proud …
Track star.
Chris & I dressed the girls in their best purple for a little “hike” around Evergreen Lake this past weekend as part of an event that my alma mater — JMU — was sponsoring. It was so nice getting outside with them and sporting those JMU colors!
Evergreen Lake views are pretty magnificent.
Ever-the-rebel.
The majestic mountain/water combo.
Evergreen Lake
The perfect day for a lake walk.
We also got family photos taken recently to celebrate adding little Em to our family, and I am SO HAPPY with how they all came out!
Big & Middle, always being monkeys <3
And our newest angel, who is truly just the sweetest child in all the world.
Our trio <3 <3 <3
Bis bald, friends! Hope your summer(ish) season is off to a great start!

A Girls’ Week Bonanza

majestic_view5

Chris has been in Australia this past week for his brother’s wedding, so to keep us company (and help me out!), my darling friend Lisa flew in from D.C. to have a girls’ week with myself and Lotte.

We. Had. So. Much. Fun.

Not only did she help me immensely by being here, but she also surprised me with an early birthday celebration — complete with strawberry shortcake, carrot cake cupcakes, presents and adorable decorations (she made a shirt for Lotte!) — since we were together.

One of my highest hopes in life for Lotte is that she finds friends like Lisa. They are invaluable.

img_6019
^^ Among the many reasons that I love when Lisa comes to visit are the millions of photos that she takes of Lotte and of Lotte & me. Since I am usually the one behind the camera in our everyday life, it’s nice to have these memories.

img_6052img_6080
^^ I am so glad Lisa was here to watch the Oscars with me, wine glass in hand.

img_6081img_6169
^^ Lisa did most of the cooking while she was here (because again, she’s a doll), but I did make this homemade hummus dip for us, which is something I used to make back when we lived in NYC. Sigh. Memories.

img_6172img_6221
^^ Shirt 1 of 2 Lisa made for Lotte. I cannot. And she even made a big-girl version for me.

img_6222img_6257img_6264
^^ Who doesn’t LOVE an early birthday celebration?! No one decorates or celebrates like Lisa. No one.

img_6267img_6277img_6311img_6329
^^ This shirt. Look for it again on my actual birthday, because I cannot WAIT for Lotte to wear it then!

img_6354
^^ Lisa made this Penne Alla Betsy dish from Ree Drummond as part of my birthday celebration. I highly recommend trying it. 

lottemagestic_view3majestic_view
^^ We checked out Majestic View Park (which also has a nature center) while Lisa was here, which is something I’ve been meaning to do. I’m so glad we did, because although it was the windiest day ever, it was still beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back.

majestic_view2majetic_view4majestic_view5img_6410lotte_2
^^ We also took a walk over near the eagle habitat side of Standley Lake which, if you’ll recall, I had visited last year when my stepdad was in town and I was still pregnant.

img_6433img_6477
^^ After Lisa left on Saturday I took Lotte to the Arvada Library for Family Time, and we were the only ones there! We stayed for Baby Time, too, and there was only one other baby. (He didn’t enjoy Baby Time as much as Lotte did, I don’t think :/) Anyway, it was only so-so. There is a library much closer that has the same types of activities, but we’ve always missed them because of Lotte’s naps. I’m hoping we’ll be able to try out a Baby or Family Time at the Standley Lake Library some day soon.

img_6480
^^ All alone … and loving it!

img_6513
^^ Lisa sent me this compilation of Lotte photos after she left. Seriously. She’s the best ever. I can’t say it enough.

And that was our little girls’ week in a nutshell, friends. The week after this one Lotte and I are jetting off to the east coast (my first flight solo with the babe … yikes!) for some events. I’m looking forward to it, but it’ll be nice to have Chris home and to have our little family together for a couple days, as well.

Bis bald, friends!