Ain’t No Mountain High Enough …

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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:

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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.

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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!

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^^ 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.

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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!

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

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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.

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

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^^ AND THIS!

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^^ AND THIS!!

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

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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 :/

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^^ 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:

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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.

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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.

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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 ❤

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!

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 oh 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 😉

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 — and so will we ❤

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Bis bald, friends — and welcome Spring … and new beginnings!

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 — 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 — hold my baby sister’s first baby in my arms.

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

Chris and Kate and the girls joined me for the first few days, but they left on Monday and I stayed through the week. Just me, my sis on maternity leave, and Rosalie. My brand new, amazing baby niece. It felt so nice to be able to help, and while I of course missed my family immensely, I realized something with them gone … I sure do have a lot of brain space when they aren’t around! I mean, the week was full of a lot more work than I was hoping it would be, but somehow, without the girls around, I managed to write nine stories with relatively little trouble, three of which got jubilant praise from my editors.

So I have to wonder — am I smarter without my girls?

I mean, obviously I cannot even begin to imagine my life without them, and I want one million more little Lotte & G’s in my life, but still … ? This weekend did get me to wondering just what I could be accomplishing if I didn’t have kids. Would I have written the next Great American Novel by now? Would I have completed my children’s book series and be auctioning it off to the highest bidder for movie rights?

The fact that I hadn’t accomplished any of that before my kids but that I obviously still have at least some mental capacity for career-oriented things leads me to believe that not only am I right where I’m supposed to be (which I have no doubt I am), but that I still have plenty of time to accomplish anything else I want to in life, as well.

Anyway, on to the travel gadget that’s revolutionized our adventures 😉 We knew we had to bring Lotte’s card seat on this trip, so we were looking into all those products on the market that have wheels that you can attached to the car seat, but they were all so expensive. So instead, Chris did a little research and found this car seat travel belt:

 

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And my review is this: For $15, this genius travel gadget is … well … genius! Not only did Lotte feel like a rock star traveling through the airport that way, but I even got a, “wow, you’re a bad ass!” from a man passing by when I was pushing G in her stroller in front and pulling Lotte in her transformed wheelie car seat behind and waiting for Chris to come meet us after parking the car.

It was seriously easy for Chris to assemble, too. My only caveat would be to never pull it when it’s caught on something. We had no trouble pulling Lotte through the airplane to get to our seats while she was still in it, but on the way off the plane it got stuck in some seats and Chris kept pulling anyway and, well, our suitcase handle broke right off. I wouldn’t blame the product for that, though — I would definitely call it human error 😉

 

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^^ Is that not the face of one happy traveler?!

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^^ We arrived into Newark to pick up our rental car, and seeing the city all lit up at night was so glorious.

By the time we collected our car and drove to my sister’s it was about 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning, so we didn’t actually get to meet baby Rosalie until everyone woke up. When we all finally did, though, it was everything I could have hoped for and more — the whole trip was, actually. At 2.5, Lotte is old enough to understand babies, and to know that she has to be gentle around them and that it’s exciting to see them. It really was just such a special time.

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^^ I. Can. Not. ❤

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^^ We met up with some family at a brewery one of the days that we were there and they had a live band. One of Lotte’s favorite things in life is dancing, so that was pretty much her dream come true.

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^^ Aunt Kate is actually leaving us next week, which we simply cannot believe and cannot talk about. So it was extra special that she got to join us on this trip to New York, as well!

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^^ It was my nephew Rory’s birthday last Sunday, so you know the girls had to turn on the charm and send him a special birthday picture.

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^^ Lotte was even lucky enough to get to watch Uncle Brian play in a basketball game for his team!

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I spent most of the week with my sister, helping her out and doing laundry and cleaning and cooking, but on Friday I had a chance to head in Manhattan to meet up with a friend. I hadn’t been into the city in so long, and it’s been even longer since I took the train from Beacon into the city. As I sat on the train on the way in, I wondered how many hours I’ve actually spent riding those rails. It’s probably a couple days’ worth by now, with all the times I would ride it back and forth to visit my Mom and Robert when I lived in the city. I got to thinking about so many memories from my time in the city, too. I wonder how many memories I’ve already forgotten, and which ones I’ll be able to hold on to forever. That time I spent in Manhattan was so fleeting, and yet so amazing. I feel so special that I even got to do that at all.

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^^ A view that never, ever gets old.

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And that was our trip in a nutshell, my friends. Why, oh why, oh why does life have to move so quickly? It feels like yesterday that Steph told us she was pregnant. Like yesterday that we flew out for her 30th birthday when she told everyone else in the family. Like yesterday that Grace and I took our first-ever Mom-daughter solo trip to New York for Steph’s baby shower’s, and like yesterday that we planned our trip out to meet baby Rosalie when she was born. Slow. Down. Time. Please.

Until our next trip — bis bald, friends!

Day Dates in Evergreen

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Happy Monday, friends! This past Sunday, my sister-in-law and I decided to try our hand at a day date in the tiny mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado. Evergreen is about 40 minutes away from us, and we pass the exit every time we head to the mountains. I’ve been wanting to check the area out pretty much ever since we moved here, and Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Kate and I started the day by hiking in Elk Meadow, which was really beautiful and just the right level of difficulty (which is to say not much) that we were looking for. There are a few different loops that make up this hike, so if you’re doing it, it’s best to figure out the trail you want to follow ahead of time. We did not do this, of course, but we did run into some very nice fellow hikers along the way, who were more than happy to let us know we were on the right path back to the parking lot. All-in-all we hiked about three miles and got some glorious views of the meadow in all its snowy glory.

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After the hike we headed into the tiny and adorable town to have lunch (and humongous margaritas because hey, we earned it!) at Maya’s Cantina & Grill. Fish tacos and veggie fajitas were just the thing we needed before heading off to our final activity of the day — ice skating (one of my all-time favorites!) at the Evergreen Lake House.

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^^ Chris bought me these ice skates about nine years ago when my obsession with ice skating at Bryant Park was an all-time high. It’s been a while since I’ve used them, but it sure was nice to dust ’em off and take ’em for a spin!

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And that was our girlfriends’ day date in Evergreen in a nutshell, my friends. It was exactly the break I needed, and I’m so glad we got the chance to make it happen!

Next week we’re off to New York to MEET MY SISTER’S NEW BABY! I’m excited, in case you can’t tell. Then another friend and I are heading to Nashville for a little Momma’s getaway (who am I, anyway?!) at the end of April. So far 2019 has been filled with lots of fun and family and travel and festivities, and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon.

For that, I am incredibly grateful.

Bis bald, friends!

A Glorious Sunday Hike at South Table Mountain

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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.

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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!

The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch

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Well, friends, it was a mountain kind of weekend, and we fell in love with a brand new one. Granby Ranch is less than two hours from us, but it’s a tiny little mountain town that, to be honest, we had never heard of before. We were looking for a mountain adventure to go on with Kate, though, and a quick search on Travelzoo found some pretty cheap lift tickets ($65 for the day! That’s unheard here in Colorado … ), so we thought we’d jump on it and explore a new place.

And I can’t overstate this enough: We loved it!

Granby is about 20 minutes from Winter Park, which provides you with a much larger mountain, but for us, Granby was just perfect. Look, if I’m being honest, even after living in Colorado for four years now (which I still cannot believe and is a blog post for another time), I still feel wobbly on the snowboard at times. That’s why Granby was so great, though. The greens were super fun to ride, which is always good, but more importantly (for me at least), there was no one there!  I mean I’m sure that it gets busier at other times of year, but since it’s such a small town, I can’t really see it ever getting as busy as a Breckenridge or Keystone. And honestly, that’s all I want out of life — a mountain all to myself 😉

Chris even loved it, even though he prefers harder trails. Plus, the condo we stayed in — Sasquatch’s Kicking Horse Lodge — had a lift right outside our window that we could ski to, which made everything even easier. Of course having Kate there was amazing, too. Chris and I even got out for not one but two drinks, without the kids. I mean … that hasn’t happened since we’ve had kids.

So all-in-all, it was a pretty fantastic weekend, one in which we found our brand new favorite mountain. The other great thing is that this is a great mountain to teach kids on, so you just know we’ll be heading back next season to get little Lotte out on those skis!

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^^ This little one didn’t wake up until 9 a.m. on Saturday! She really knows how to vacation it up 😉

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^^ One of her favorite spots for the weekend was sitting at this window with her milk and some blueberries, watching people get on the lift right outside.

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^^ I mean, she’s a natural, right?

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^^ Sticking your kid in the snow to get the good picture — that’s always a good idea, right?!

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^^ Chris & Kate skied/snowboarded all day on Saturday, and then on Sunday, Kate watched the girls in the morning so Chris & I could snowboard, which was amazing. I haven’t been out in two years (hello, having babies), but it felt so good … once I got the hang of it again 😉

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^^ We did a couple runs on the hill right outside our condo so the girls could watch, and they were riveted! They especially loved watching Chris jump over a hill. They’re daredevils, I tell ya.

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^^ I turned around at one point and Lotte was bending her knees and sticking her arms out like she trying to snowboard. I can’t. My heart just bursts with these girls.

IMG_7616IMG_7617IMG_7618IMG_7619IMG_7620IMG_7621IMG_7622^^ Happy faces after a happy weekend.

I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back, Granby Ranch. (I kinda feel like I say that a lot … but I always mean it!)

Bis bald, friends! And three cheers to empty mountains!

 

Welcome February!

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Well friends, it’s officially February, and as is always the case, the year is already flying by. I’ve been seeing so many posts on social media about how January lasts forever, but for us, this month has absolutely disappeared. Between us being in Australia for the first week, welcoming Aunt Kate to our home for her almost-three-month visit (!), and my trip with G back to New York for 10 days, I have no idea where the 31 days of January have gone.

These photos were taken while G and I were in New York, but we’re traveling to Granby, CO next weekend for a little ski/snowboard getaway, so I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the wonderfulness of snow.

Bis bald, friends — and here’s to cherishing every single month of the year, no matter how long they seem to last!

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