Oh, Christmas Tree …

img_0036^^ Our first Christmas tree in our new home. 

Well friends, we had to miss a holiday party this past Thursday at the Denver Botanic Gardens (which is currently displaying their awesome holiday lights … at least we’ve heard it’s awesome, we haven’t been yet) because Lotte was pretty stuffed up and sick after we got home from our Thanksgiving travels.

The things you do when you’re parents😉

Anyway, she was somewhat better on Saturday, and the weather was gorgeous (although as you’ll see from these photos, we still dressed our child like it was a snowstorm outside. Oops.), so we hopped in the car and headed off to the Christmas tree lot to find ourselves our first ever Christmas tree for our new home — and Lotte’s first Christmas tree ever.

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^^ Still a bit grumpy and snotty, as you can see:/

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Our home is definitely starting to feel festive for the holidays, friends. How early do you all get your holiday decorations up? It seems like everyone in our neighborhood had their trees up and the front of their houses decorated when we came home from Thanksgiving. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have minded doing that either, had we been home, but still, for some reason I was surprised.

Now I just have to wait for allllllll the decorations to come in that I ordered this past weekend, then we’ll be done. Man, I love the holidays.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Thanksgiving 2016 – Part II

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^^ These little cuties all together … it’s almost too much to handle.

Last Friday after Thanksgiving we packed up the car and headed to Pennsylvania to spend the weekend with my dad and stepmom, sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews. We had another Thanksgiving and my parents threw a little party for family to meet Lotte, so it was hectic, but a whole lot of fun.

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^^ Starting second Thanksgiving morning with donuts and coffee is pretty amazing in my books.

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^^ These two had a bit of a love affair going on, and it made my heart so, so happy!

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^^ Watching football with Papa. Hey it was a holiday, why not😉

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^^ This cute little family …

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^^ Both Jude and Lotte’s faces crack me up in this picture!

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^^ Party food!

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^^ Back at my mom and stepdad’s on Sunday night we had a couple people over to meet Lotte, as well. One of my best friends from junior high just had her first baby, too — baby Miles — so Lotte got to meet him. That’s auntie Moe in the middle. I’ve known these ladies for oh-so-many years, and I’m just really grateful for their friendship.

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^^ Miles is only about 2-months-old, so I love that Lotte is his older, wiser friend😉

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^^ This picture cracks me up! Look at my little Lotte makin’ moves on Miles!

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^^ Fell asleep in Aunt Stephie’s arms on Sunday night. She was totally exhausted after all her meet and greets, but it was just about the best time ever.

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^^ Grandpa Robert sure knows how to multi-task😉

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^^ And suddenly, before we knew it, we were back at Newark for our flight home. Amazing how fast time flies when you’re having fun.

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^^ This little angel mostly slept and ate on the way back home, which was so nice!

And that was it — our incredibly hectic, fun and full-of-love Thanksgiving break. I hope you guys had just as much fun.

Now … on to December!

Bis bald, friends!

Thanksgiving 2016 — Part 1

02_roseandgirls^^ The meeting between Lotte and my grandmother was one of the biggest highlights of this trip. I’ll never, ever forget it.

Well friends, last Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while I can hardly believe it’s over, and that we’re on to December and Christmas now, I can say without a doubt that we had a really good one. As our first Thanksgiving without my mom, I’ll admit I was a little worried about how it might go. But having a baby and being constantly on the move kept me from dwelling too much on the sad part of the holiday and helped me to focus on how much I do have in my life, and how much Lotte is so loved by all these friends and family of ours.

The day before Thanksgiving we stopped by the assisted living place where my Grandmother lives to surprise her with a visit. It was my sister’s idea to do that, and I’m so, so glad she thought of it.

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^^ Did I tell you about this child and her side eye?! I have tons of nice photos from my Grams and my daughter’s first meeting, but this one just makes me laugh every single time I look at it. Both of these ladies are too, too much.

03_roseandgirls04_funnyrose^^ Chris just kept taking shots while we were moving around the room, and this totally candid and ridiculous one has got to be one of my favorites, too.

We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house the night before Thanksgiving, which is only about 15 minutes from my aunt and uncle’s, where we would be spending the holiday. It was nice to have a little down time in the morning and to not have to rush too much to drive somewhere far away.

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^^ #parenting😉

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^^ Aunt Stephie and Lotte, in the outfit (shoes included) that Aunt Stephie bought for her for the holiday. Too. Stinkin’. Cute. Too bad a poop explosion caused her to only wear it for about two hours on the actual day. Oh well – at least we got a couple photos!

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^^ Meeting the extended fam.

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^^ My Grams and her two great-granddaughters – priceless.

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^^ The meltdown post diaper blowout and pre-outfit change.

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^^ You know a holiday was great when it ends like this😉

It was really so great spending time with our family for Thanksgiving, and the following day we loaded up the car and headed to Pennsylvania to do it all over again with my Dad’s gang. Can’t complain about two Thanksgivings, that’s for sure!

I’ll be back tomorrow with photos from our final couple days back east. Until then – bis bald!

Back in the Borough: Hot Child in the City

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^^ Oh NYC, how I’ve missed you.

Well friends, two amazing things happened on the very first day of our trip out east — Lotte met my grandmother and she visited NYC.

Lots of love for those two things right there.

For starters, I have to give props to our little four-month old for being quite the flying champ. Sure she had her moments, but for the most part she was pretty great. She was totally fascinated in the airport and held her own all the way until the very end when she got a little sleepy, but once we boarded (a half hour late, mind you) and I could breastfeed her, she settled right down.

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^^ Look at that face! Like, ” what in the heck is going on around me?!”

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^^ Since we had a small delay we stopped at Root Down to grab some food. Lotte was just a little bit popular there, as you might have guessed😉

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^^ Landed!

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^^ Lest you think my child is always happy, here’s a bit of a meltdown pic for ya, as well.

After landing around 11 p.m. and getting back to Newburgh around 1 a.m., we had a super early wake-up call to try to leave the house by 8 a.m. the next day to head into the city.

Our departure time ended up being closer to 8:30, which I still say is pretty awesome, all things considered.

We were only in the city for a couple of hours total, but we sure did make the most of it. Chris renewed his passport. Steph and Lotte and I met up with my friend Carla and her 9-month-old Fiona for brunch at The Wheeltapper Pub inside the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel. We even took the babes through a bit of a Grand Central tour and on to Bryant Park so that Steph could take some potential Christmas card photos for us.

Here’s our time in the city in photos.

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^^ Fiona was fascinated with Lotte’s hair for some reason, which made for some pretty funny photos. Love these two ladies, and I’m so thrilled Carla and I get to raise our babies together, even if we do live half-way across the country from each other.

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^^ Some Aunt Stephie cuddles. (Aunt Stephie also dresses Lotte every single time she’s with her, in case you were wondering … )

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^^ The Grand Central detour.

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^^ Hubbub all around them, and yet these two babes remained as calm as ever. True city babies, if you ask me😉

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^^ Bryant Park at the holidays — my absolute favorite place on earth. I cannot believe I got to actually share it with my own daughter this year.

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img_9314^^ Behind the scenes of our baby photo shoot😉 Don’t worry – Chris was holding on very tight!

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^^ My child has perfected her side eye.

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^^ Ah the stroller and steps — thanks hubs, for always taking care of the transport!

img_9390^^ Back to the car, completely unfazed. Like I said – a little city lady.

And that, my dear friends, was our fast and furious introduction of Lotte to the city we love so dearly. Of course there are 10,001 other things I want to do in the city with her, but I have no doubt we’ll be back plenty. In fact, we’re planning another potential trip in January with Chris’s parents while they’re in the states for Christmas, so I’ll start dreaming of that for now.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the rest of our trip. For now … bis bald, friends.

A First Plane Ride in the Books

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Well friends, someone had her first plane ride last Tuesday (and her second one back home to Denver yesterday), and I’m happy to report she did very well! It’s going to take me a couple days at least to go through all my photos of our trip, but for now I wanted to share this pic of Lotte looking out the window as we touched down back home in Denver yesterday. Whether you were old enough when you took your first flight to remember it or not, there’s just something so magical about it.

Bis bald, friends – I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

Welcome to the Winter of 2016

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Well friends – winter has arrived in Colorado. And this winter is special, since it’s Lotte’s first one. Of course at the first sign of flakes yesterday I grabbed my camera and my child, shoved her in a snowsuit that is still way too big for her, and rushed outside to snap some shots.

This holiday season will be filled with mixed feelings for me – my first baby’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas … my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my mom. How do you even deal with those conflicting things?

For now, I’ll deal by spending as much time in the winter wonderland with Lotte as I can. Next week we’re off to New York (baby’s first flight!) to spend Thanksgiving with the family, and then only a couple weeks after that Chris’s parents and sisters, as well as my sister, brother-in-law and stepdad, will be heading out way to spend Christmas with us. I’m looking forward to hosting our first holidays in our brand new house.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1lottefirstsnow^^ Snowflakes in front of my face … love it!

2lottefirstsnow^^ Oh you know, just sittin’ on a bench in the snow. No big deal😉

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8lottefirstsnow^^ I’m sorry Chris didn’t make it home from work before it got dark (at like 4:30 p.m., mind you!), because we couldn’t take pictures with him in them. Something tells me we’ll have plenty more opportunity, though!

About Last Night’s Election …

thumb__dsc6400_1024I woke up in a different America this morning than the one I went to sleep in last night.

A little before midnight Mountain Time on November 8th, I decided to go to bed after Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman told the eager (if somewhat deflated) crowd at the Javits Center in Manhattan that they should all go home, because there were still a handful of states left to be counted in the 2016 election for president, and many votes left to include.

This election, he said, wouldn’t be over until every last voice had been heard.

I went to sleep last night hopeful, and still very optimistic that the America I live in is not one that would elect a man like Donald Trump to the highest office of the land.

This morning, however, I woke up in one that did.

I won’t resort to name calling because, as the ever-so-eloquent Michelle Obama says, “when they go low, we go high.” Plus, there has been enough mudslinging over the past few months to last me a lifetime.

I did, however, feel the need to say something, somewhere, and since this is my blog, where I’m allowed my feelings and have been keeping track of my own adventures since 2008, I thought this was a good place. I didn’t take to Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram because, again, I’m not interested in the mudslinging.

Last night the media was talking about how it was possible that everyone — every. single. member. of. the.media. — could have so drastically missed the boat on what was happening. It’s a point well worth taking. “We’ve missed the groundswell of what’s going on in middle America,” one anchor said. “We sit here in our offices in big cities and conduct our polls with the people around us, and we’ve totally ignored what’s being said in rural America.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)

Rural America, it seems, had a lot to say, and they made their point very clear at the polls last night. Trump supporting women (women!) who were interviewed said things like, “Who doesn’t like being groped!” and “I’ve heard women say far more worse things about men,” and “That was so long ago, why should it matter?”

To them, mostly, I am speechless. I understand there are people in this world who still believe all Mexican or Muslim people are evil. (I didn’t say I believed that, I said I understand these people exist.) I can understand (again, not agree with) how Donald Trump’s specific brand of hate breathes new fire into those beliefs.

I can understand there are men in this world who still look at women as objects — playthings with which they can do whatever they want. To me, though, the fact that there are women out there who potentially believe this as well … that’s a real tragedy.

I’m not here to say that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to Americans — I’m not that naive. No one died here, or was sent into battle. This is simply an embarrassment of monumental proportions, a blistering wake-up call about our calamitous divisions as a country, and one that we all, as a country, need to come to terms with. What I am going to say, though, is that Donald Trump is not now, nor will he ever be, my president. He does not represent my ideals or beliefs, and he in fact represents the complete opposite of what I believe America stands for.

For the record, I still love America. I love living here, and I love being American. I do believe that we can find our way back to the ideals that this country was originally founded on. After all, we’re all immigrants here. We’re all “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” … at least our ancestors were, and it’s in our blood.

So what am I going to do about an election with which I so deeply disagree with the results? I don’t know about tomorrow, or the day after or the day after that, but for today, what I’m going to do is hug my daughter a little tighter.

I’m going to repeat over and over to her that despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards bigotry, racism and name-calling, she, however, will never embody those characteristics, and she, however, is just like everyone else in this country, and around the world. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly (at least at first).

And despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards sexism, she will never put up with that type of behavior from any man. She is WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS ANY MAN, and she is special, and unique and smart. No man, despite what he might say about her, or women in general, in the future, can take those things away.

Today I will take a deep breath. I will realize that despite what happened in the early hours of this morning, the sun still came up, and Americans still enjoy oh-so-many more freedoms than do so many other people around the world (in fact, last night might just be a perfect example of that), and for that I am eternally grateful and humbled.

Today I will realize that while the feelings we’re all feeling are justified — whether that’s elation, complete confusion or downright depression — there is still a tomorrow.

And there is also another election in just four short years. Let’s make that one count.

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^^ Clearly we’ve still got a lot of work to do … let’s fix this, for our kids.

Scenic Sunday Drives in Golden

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Happy Monday, friends!

Upfront I want to say that this is not an advertisement for Subaru, although we did pick up our new Forester on Friday and take it for a drive around Golden on Sunday, and it was just a little bit of fabulousness!

We decided to take the wheels for an introductory spin up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway and stop by Buffalo Bill’s Grave. We also hit up Golden City Brewery on the way back home. (I’ve blogged about these places, as well as a few other Golden hot spots, here, if you’re interested.) If you’re ever in the Denver/Golden area, I would highly recommend checking out these spots, even if only for the amazing views you’ll get …

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fullsizerender-100^^ I let the hubs do the heavy stroller lifting these days😉

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fullsizerender8^^ That’s Denver there in the distance … oh hey, Denvy!

fullsizerender9^^ A pixelated up-close view!

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Is it just me, or does having a great Sunday make heading back to work on Monday just a little bit easier?

I hope you guys had a great weekend, too!

Bis bald!

Another Birthday Celebration in the Books, This Time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

thumb__dsc5111_1024^^ Have you ever seen a happier dog? Can you blame him — look at that view!

Well my friends, we made it back from our first road trip with the Little, and we’re all in tact and, what’s more, we all had an amazing time. Chris’s birthday was this past Saturday, so we decided to check out a new place — Steamboat Springs. At only a little over three hours away, it was the perfect place to get our feet wet when it comes to traveling with a baby, and Lotte obliged us by being pretty much amazing the entire time.

What can I say — she has travel in her blood😉

For starters, we stayed at Nordic Lodge which, while totally bare essentials when it comes to amenities, was the perfect location, especially when you have a baby who needs feeding  and/or a good nap every couple hours and you prefer to do that at a home base. They had a Pack ‘n Play that we were able to use for our trip, which meant we could skip taking up room in the car with ours, and they were willing to upgrade us for free to a larger room to accommodate the Pack ‘n Play, although we opted to pay an extra $50 for the weekend and actually upgrade to a suite with a separate bedroom, that way Lotte could nap in peace and we didn’t have to tiptoe around her and whisper the whole time.

I gotta say — for newbies, I think we did well!

Here’s what we three got up to …

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^^ You know my child would have a onesie specifically dedicated to traveling, although I can’t take credit for buying this — it was all my sister!

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^^ Our first night in town we walked to Mahogany Ridge Brewery for dinner which, while a brewery, was in my opinion probably a little bit fancier than you should bring a baby (and a huge stroller!) to. So we really have to give props to Lotte for sleeping through our entire meal! Great job, kid! That certainly made us feel more comfortable taking you out for more restaurant visits throughout the weekend.

03fullsizerender^^ Chris’s traditional birthday steak dinner … just one night early😉

04fullsizerender_1^^ What you see here are parents who are ecstatic that their child slept through their meal!

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^^ The cute little town, all lit up at night.

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^^ Saturday started out with this adorable face … and some birthday present opening😉

02_dsc5002^^ After presents we made our way to Fish Creek Falls, a pretty little hike that was short enough to do with our 3-month-old strapped to Chris’s chest and long enough to make us feel like we actually did something — plus it was so pretty! (Bring $5 for parking! I had read that this place gets really packed, but during the off-peak season at like 7:30 in the morning, it was pretty much us alone on the trails — we only ran into two other (very small) groups of people the whole time.)

03thumb__dsc5066_102404thumb__dsc5060_102405thumb__dsc5033_1024^^ The falls!

06thumb__dsc5064_102407thumb__dsc5082_1024^^ The rising sun was not my photography friend on this hike, but the falls are there, if you look hard enough!

08fullsizerender_7^^ Again, slept like a champ throughout the whole thing! We made sure to rug her up so she was nice and warm, all cozy-like against dad’s chest for the hike.

09fullsizerender_10^^ After the hike we had a seriously delicious breakfast at Creekside Cafe & Grill, which just happens to literally be almost in the parking lot of the hotel where we stayed. Score! The back porch was closed for the season, but it was such a glorious day we could easily have eaten outside and been happy. Oh well — next time! 

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11fullsizerender_12^^ Bloody Mary’s all around!

12fullsizerender_13^^ Under the table and dreaming😉

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15fullsizerender_16^^ See? How cute is this back patio?!

16fullsizerender_8^^ After breakfast we went for a little walk in town to do some shopping and check out the fall colors. Although some things were unfortunately closed for the season (like back patios, for example, and the gondola), I would highly recommend traveling during this time. It was really quiet, which was nice, and the views were spectacular.

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^^ If you’re looking for a quintessential Western shop with cowboy boots, hats and the like, check out F.M. Light & Sons. It’s sort of an institution in town.

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21fullsizerender_20^^ Cowboy boots for days!

22fullsizerender_21^^ They had ’em for kids, too!

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24fullsizerender_23^^ See what I mean about the fall colors? Glorious!

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28fullsizerender_27^^ Elevated Oil is a fun place to check out if you’re an olive oil connoisseur. You can even taste test the oils, which I thought would be totally gross but actually turned out to be delicious! 

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30fullsizerender_29^^ After shopping we hopped in the car for a (super) short ride to Storm Peak brewery, which was a really fun little brewery with tons of delicious beers on tap. Plus the weather was so nice they opened the garage doors, making it even more fun to hang.

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32fullsizerender_31^^ Again, ecstatic parents that their child is cooperating …

33fullsizerender_32^^ Lotte did wake up from a short nap here, which allowed us to take some silly pictures. Always a plus in my book.

34img_7208^^ Silly pic No. 1 …

35fullsizerender_34^^ And 2 …

36img_7202^^ And 3 …

37img_7207^^ And 4 … and trust me, there were many more, but I’ll spare you. You get the picture.

38img_7116^^ We tried to hang at Butcherknife Brewing after Storm Peak, but Lotte had had enough, which was fair enough — you did well little one! So we headed back to the hotel so she could nap properly, and Chris and I ordered take-out from Rex’s American Grill & Bar. In all honesty, we only ordered from this place because I thought it delivered (it does not, I had to go pick our food up), but it turned out to be delicious, so it was a win!

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02img_7254^^ On Sunday morning we had to get rugged up again (which someone was not happy about at first), because we took a walk down by the Yampa River.

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07thumb__dsc5106_1024^^ On the way back to the lodge to grab the car we stopped in Off the Beaten Path, an amazing local bookstore that I highly recommend, if you’re into that kind of thing😉

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09thumb__dsc5120_1024^^ We definitely wanted to check out the area near the mountain while we were there as well. It’s really cute with lots of little shops and restaurants, and while you can tell it would probably be crazy packed in winter, again, at this perfect time of year, it was pretty empty, which is always amazing for a ski town.

10thumb__dsc5109_1024^^ Improvising when no ramp is available.

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14thumb__dsc5128_1024^^ We grabbed lunch at Slopeside Grill before heading out and ate on their deck. Chris was a bit upset they didn’t have more local beers on tap, but their veggie burger was pretty awesome (although Mahogany’s was better, if you’re keeping score) and the views were unparalleled. 

15img_7264^^ Multitasking at its best.

16img_7267^^ Views on the drive home.

And that was it, my friends — our first road trip with Lotte is officially in the books, and it was a great one. Her next big trip will be in November when we head back east for Thanksgiving, and that one involves a plane. Yikes. Wish us luck!

Bis bald, friends!

Life Recently: The Early Fall 2016 Edition

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Fall has been fast and furious for us so far, with lots of fun trips, a visit from Aussie Nan and Poppa and our first pumpkin carving experience with Lotte.

Here’s a look at some of what’s been going on … prepare for picture overload!

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^^ Someone was unimpressed with how rugged up her parents made her get for her first official fall walk.

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^^ So incredibly grateful to live a stones throw from this gorgeous view.

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^^ Yay! Aussie Nan and Poppa were here!

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^^ What’s not to smile about when you’re this fawned over😉

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^^ This face … and the Nan and Poppa who love her.

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^^ Outtakes from a family photo shoot on our front porch.

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^^ Someone remained unimpressed pretty much the entire time. Oh well, what can ya do?!

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^^ This photo with Penny creeping in the background … I just can’t.

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^^ Date night made possible by Nan and Poppa … thank you!

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^^ An up-close look at how awkward our baby handoffs still are. This parenting thing … what can I say? It’s a work in progress😉

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^^ We got all dolled up for a Facetime date with American Papa for his 60th birthday. Of course we didn’t look this angelic the whole time. Most of the time, we looked like this …

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^^ Yeahhhhh. This is definitely more accurate.

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^^ Also, when your child falls asleep on you after a screaming fit, it’s best to let her lie … wherever that may be.

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^^ Monkeying around at the Carousel of Happiness — get it😉

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^^ Chris’s parents were generous enough to get us a fire pit for our backyard as our housewarming gift. Delicious smores under the fall night sky, here we come!

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^^ I’ve started a tradition of grabbing a coffee and driving around town with Lotte for a bit in the afternoons. It’s pretty amazing some of the views you can catch around here …

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^^ Facetiming with family. It’s the only cure for this ‘living far away’ thing.

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^^ I may have overdone it with the cover-up job for this particular walk.

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^^ Snow on the mountains … welcome to October!

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^^ We took a long walk with Lotte to the local coffee shop this weekend, and she was great! She only screamed for about the last five minutes of it, which I’ll count as a win.

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^^ Carving pumpkins with our little pumpkin. (We simply couldn’t resist this photo opportunity!)

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Happy fall, friends! Hope yours is off to a roaring start, as well!

Finding Our Inner Child at the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland

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This past Monday we packed up our Matrix and drove about 45 minutes to Nederland, Colorado, to ride the Carousel of Happiness.

What’s so special about a carousel, and why would anyone drive 45 minutes to ride one? (Besides the fact that we are so obviously insane?) This carousel happens to be extra special, as it’s made up of 61 hand-carved animals (including 36 animals to ride and 25 smaller ones to keep those company, all of which were hand-carved by the same person!), which turns to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ.

The ride seriously does transport you to another time and place. You can read more about its origination, and what makes it so special, here. I have to say, for Lotte’s first-ever carousel ride, this wasn’t a bad one to visit.

_dsc4853_dsc4856_dsc4860_dsc4867_dsc4876^^ Look at these awesomely accommodating grandparents! Honestly, though, they loved the ride, so that was a good thing!

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^^ I love this photo — look at that little face, just taking in the world around her …

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^^ You can go upstairs from the gift shop and check out the carousel from the top, which I highly recommend doing. There are actually some cute little animals hidden on top of the carousel, as well.

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^^ This little kid’s face says it all, does it not?!

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^^ Mr. Fox keeps watch on the carousel animals from above.

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After our ride (which costs $1, by the way!), we wandered across the street to grab some coffee. We would have stayed and explored the cute town a bit longer, but a fire had started in the campgrounds near the town and we were worried the road home might get blocked off. Something tells me we’ll be back, though.

fullsizerender-90fullsizerender-91fullsizerender-92fullsizerender-93img_5804^^ Tuckered our from her full day of carousel fun!

Bis bald, friends!

Making Memories at Rock Creek Farm

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Fall has always been my favorite season, and now that I have a little one to share it with, it’s even more fun to really take advantage of everything the insanely wonderful weather has to offer. Along with long walks and fall decorations, one other thing I couldn’t wait to do with Lotte was to go pumpkin picking. So, at the ripe ole’ age of 10 weeks, we took Lotte on her first pumpkin picking (and corn maze wandering!) adventure at Rock Creek Farm outside of Boulder.

The experience did not disappoint, although I highly doubt Lotte will actually remember it😉 Still, I do believe a tradition has been formed …

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chris_jump^^ Going anywhere with a child these days requires lots and lots of mechanisms to keep said child happy, like jumping up and down in a pumpkin field. (P.S. Note the face … still not happy!)

4_family_selfie^^ Our family selfie game could use some work …

5_familyselfie2^^ Hmmm … better?? Lotte seems to think not.

6-fieldfamily^^ Much better when someone else takes the photo — thanks MIL!

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cornmaze^^ While the rest of the group may have been happy to take on one of the longer corn maze options, I, however, refused to. So it was the short loop for us, friends, and that was just fine by me!

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^^ The kids’ play section sure seems like something Lotte will love in the future!

And that, my friends, was about the sum of our first pumpkin picking trip with our daughter. Rock Creek Farm was amazing, but I’m pretty happy we went on a Friday, because one of the workers we spoke to said they get thousands of people on the weekends. Just something to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit of your own.

Bis bald, friends!

A Date Night in Olde Town Arvada

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While my in-laws were in town Chris and I had a chance to have a date night out in Olde Town Arvada, which I’ve been meaning to get to since we moved here in May.

We’ve been busy, to say the least.

Anyway, I did a little research and found Arvada Tavern, which, according to TripAdvisor, is the second best place in Arvada to eat. After checking it out for ourselves I have to say I was really impressed. The cocktails were spectacular — especially the seasonal pumpkin flavored one I tried — and the food was even better. Check it out when you’re in town.

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And of course after dinner we had to stop off at Scrumptious for some ice cream dessert. The best part about date night these days, though, is coming home to this …

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^^ I mean …

We actually got to do quite a bit while the in-laws were here. Lotte went to Boulder again, we got to visit a pumpkin patch and we even took the little one on her first carousel ride. I’ll have more on all that later, for now — bis bald, friends!

Please Welcome the Newest Member of Our Weary Wanderer Team …

04-IMG-4.jpg^^^The (incredibly amazing) reason I’ve been MIA …

Hey friends! Sorry for the radio silence lately, but that precious little bub up above is the reason I’ve been so busy. Welcome Charlotte (aka Lotte) Marie Connor, our beautiful little baby girl who was born on July 27 at 2:30 in the morning.

Now I promise you that I’ll try to refrain from outright gushing, or from posting too many baby pics in the future, because at its heart, this is still my travel blog, and that means I’ll do my best to cover only travel related things. But for just this once, please allow me to divulge just a bit in baby pictures … because you only have your first kid once😉

Also, these pictures make me sad, because Lotte isn’t even two months yet and how is it possible she’s grown and changed so much already? Parenthood. It’s crazy, am I right?

Welcome to the world, baby Lotte. Your dad and I promise to do our best to show you all the amazing things this world has to offer. That is, we promise to make you a Weary Wanderer, as well …

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^^^ Our very first trip out of the house after heading home from the hospital was back to the hospital for my one-week check-up (thank you emergency c-section!). I think I look much more put together in this picture than I actually was, although my screwed up purse tells the real story😉

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^^^ Our first walk, which lasted about 10 minutes. Again, Lotte looks perfectly happy here, which isn’t the whole story😉

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^^^ Not the best shot of the onesie, but I couldn’t resist her little (almost) smiley face! “Made in America, With Australian Parts” … a big shout out to my sis for this amazing outfit!

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^^^ The first time you put your child in her crib for a nap and you spend the entire time watching the monitor …

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^^^ Our first ever trip out of the house that was not doctor related was to Boulder with my uncle and step-dad. We’ve had so many visitors and helpers these past few weeks, our family and friends have all been real life savers.

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^^^ Lotte has also been to Denver, Red Rocks (pictured here) and Golden. Not all of these trips have been roaring successes, but I’m determined to keep at it! Hey – practice makes perfect, right?!

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^^^ Baby cuddles = my new favorite thing in the world.

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^^^ Someone is smitten with dad …
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^^^ See what I mean?! How is Lotte so big already?! The first picture is from the day we brought her home from the hospital, compared with one on her one-month birthday. Same Pack ‘n Play, entirely bigger baby.

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^^^ This hubs of mine now travels with a Ergobaby, and it’s kind of amazing.

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It’s not smiles over here 24/7 people, to be sure, but I’d say more often than not we’re on Cloud 9, and we’re definitely starting to get into more of a routine (or at least as much as you can two months into parenting). I can’t wait for our first travels with this little one – in fact, we’re taking her to New York in November for Thanksgiving, which will be her first plane ride at the ripe ole’ age of four months, and we hope to get away for a weekend on a road trip somewhere in October before my maternity leave is over.

Traveling with a kid …. I think things are about to be a whole lot different for us😉 We look forward to the challenge, and I look forward to getting back on here to update more frequently.

Until then, bis bald, friends!

Our First Fourth of July in Arvada

MountainGoat^^^Mr. Mountain Goat says ‘Hi!’

Happy July, friends. I can’t believe that July is here, and even more so I can’t believe that with July comes the fact that my baby is due next month. I can barely even say that without getting my heart racing.

But for now, friends, Baby is safe and sound still where she still belongs, and we had a visitor over the Fourth of July weekend in the form of my stepdad, who tacked on a couple extra days out to Colorado to a business trip in Arizona. We did a lot while he was here — to include a pretty rockin’ backyard revival, which was totally unexpected but awesome — so it was nice having him visit for a couple of days.

One place I knew I had to take him was the Eagle Sanctuary at Standley Lake, because in college my stepdad actually used to raise baby Bald Eagles, so obviously I knew this was something he would enjoy.

And, luckily, he did😉

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^^^How completely adorable are these tipis which, by the way, you can rent to camp out in!?

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^^^ It seriously took my stepdad maybe about 7 minutes to spot an eagle. Then another. Then another. Of the four Bald Eagles that live at Standley Lake, we saw three … not too shabby!
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^^^ The cattle dog coming down the pathway should have tipped us off to what was ahead, but we were still caught off guard by this heap of goats in the field by the lake. So fun to listen to them chat to each other😉

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^^^ These geese, however … not so much fun! We tried sitting at this picnic bench by the water for a hot second after eagle spotting, but clearly the geese had other ideas. If we didn’t have any food for them, they made it pretty clear that we weren’t welcome!

9_BaldEagle^^^ I love that we also found where you can rent kayaks, paddle boards and the like at the lake … that seems like it would be so much fun!

On Friday night we ventured out into Denver to eat dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant. While I’m not a meat-eater, I can still appreciate a fun steakhouse when I see one and this, my friends, was about as fun as it gets.

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^^^ Cheers’ing with my iced tea … always a good time!
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^^^ Not my meal, obviously (although the salmon I had seriously melted in your mouth, it was that delicious), but the boys really seemed to enjoy their meat which, I guess, is the most important thing at a steakhouse, right?!
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^^^ Grainy photo, but they had a live singer upstairs who was just about the cutest old man you ever could see.
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^^^ Again, not the best photo, but how funny is this sign outside the restaurant?

The boys left bright and early Saturday morning to check out Mount Evans, the highest paved road in North America at over 14,000 feet. When we went to the mountains a couple weeks back I found the altitude really affected me during pregnancy, so I decided to beg off on this adventure, but after seeing the photos, I definitely plan on making it out myself at some point.

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Despite all the hubbub, we did also manage to have Robert help us out with our backyard …

1_MannieFlowers^^^ All of these flowers are now officially in our garden!

… and we took a couple pretty nice walks around the lake, to include a sunset one the night before Robert left

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Robert will be back in August with some other family to meet our little baby girl, but until then, it was great having you, my dear!

Bis bald, my friends – I hope you all had lovely and safe July 4th weekends, as well!

A Final Weekend in June

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Hi friends,

Long time no write:/ Sorry about that. To be honest, 2016 has been a bit challenging so far, to say the least. Despite some of the biggest “ups” of my life [preparing for our first baby, for example], there have also been some of the lowest of the lows, like losing my mom. I haven’t felt much like writing here over the past three months, really, since that happened, but I’m trying to come out of my funk a bit, and this blog has always meant so much so me, so I figured I’d give writing here a shot and see how it goes … at least for now.

In other big news, Chris and I moved out of our downtown Denver apartment and into our first home in Arvada near Standley Lake, which is about 15-20 minutes from downtown Denver. So far, we’re really liking it out here in the ‘burbs, which is something that has come as quite a surprise to both of us [and our friends and family, too!]. Having the lake so close by certainly helps — Chris runs there multiple nights a week and it’s about all I can manage to drag my pregnant self on about a 10-20 minute walk most days, but whenever I do get out there, it’s simply gorgeous.

Like Saturday morning. We grabbed some coffees [decaf for me, of course ;)] and walked the five minutes to the lake entrance, then walked about 1.5 miles around the lake and back. It was the perfect length for me, and I really needed the change of scenery …

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^^ This photo is blurry because I zoomed in, but just look at those Flatirons! Gorgeous.

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We’ve definitely lived in some cities with some pretty spectacular views before, but I have to say, it doesn’t matter how many times we walk around this lake … it always stuns me with its beauty.

For Christmas my sister got me a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and on Saturday we were finally able to get out there for a visit, which was really quite lovely.

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GardenGoddess04BotanicGardens05BotanicGardens06BotanicGardens^^ Just the three of us, out for a day at the gardens😉

On Sunday I met up with my cousin at Sassafras back in Denver for brunch, where I had the most delicious beignets and shrimp & grits that I’ve had since New Orleans!

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So friends, those outings — coupled with lots of outdoor porch time — made for a pretty nice weekend. I hope yours was as lovely … or that you’re at least finding some way to stay cool in the heat! My stepdad will be here for a visit starting Wednesday, so we’re really looking forward to that.

Until next time, friends … bis bald😉

My Birthday Weekend Getaway in Crested Butte

01 Road Trip^^ Country road views on the way from Denver to Crested Butte

This past weekend just happened to be my birthday [;)], and my husband decided to whisk me away for a couple days to the adorable little mountain town of Crested Butte, which is about 4.5 hours away if you don’t get lost (aka we did on the way there, no biggie!). We stayed at the Elevation Hotel & Spa, which is the perfect spot for either snowboarding (because it’s super close to the gondola) or snowboard watching (because it’s right at the bottom of the hill everyone comes down). It was also the closing weekend of the mountain, which meant lots of costumed skiers and snowboarders, as well as some shenanigans that were fun to watch and not have to worry about even pretending to take part in (thanks pregnant belly!).

Chris also treated me to my first ever pre-natal massage while we were away (thanks hubby!), which was truly a little bit of bliss.

Ah, Crested Butte .. thanks for a relaxing getaway. Now it’s back to the real world …

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^^^ We stopped for lunch in the cute little town of Salida on the way to Crested Butte. The Fritz had all kinds of tasty treats on their menu (and Shirley Temples were even listed on the menu!), plus they’re right across the street from the river, so it’s the perfect spot to stop for a while. 

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^^^ Crested Butte views

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^^^ We stopped by The Dogwood before dinner at Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle our first night. The Dogwood is a craft cocktail bar, which is fun even when you aren’t drinking, because you can really push the bartenders out of their comfort zone by asking them to create a special non-alcoholic concoction for you, such as … 

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^^^ This fizzy blueberry cream deliciousness that our awesome bartender made for me. I couldn’t finish it all, but it was sure fun trying …

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^^^ Chris’  spicy jalapeno drink. Not my ideal, but he seemed to like it.

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^^^ Just to prove that I was there too, since most of my photos end up being of Chris since I’m behind the camera😉

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^^^ Early morning mountain views on our way to grab coffee and bagels from Camp 4 Coffee.

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^^^ We squatted here for a while in the morning to drink our coffee, eat our bagels and take in the scenery. I like snowboarding and all, but this is seriously my favorite part of visiting the mountains. People watching!

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^^^ After my pre-natal massage, we headed up to the rooftop restaurant next to our hotel to watch the skiers and snowboarders come down the hill in their crazy outfits. And we did see some crazy outfits — in fact, can you spot the hot dog in this picture😉

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^^^ Our little family of (almost!) three (can you believe that belly?!)

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Bye bye, Crested Butte! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again…

Our Final Day in Kyoto: Bikes, Bamboo Trees & Beautiful Walks

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Hi friends,

So two Saturdays ago was our last full day in Kyoto before heading back to the states. Chris’ parents had gone back to Tokyo the night before to catch their super early flight on Saturday morning, and we had the whole day stretched ahead of us to finish up some final things we really wanted to see and do.

Then … that all got sidetracked for a couple of hours while we spent some time on the phone with American Airlines trying to figure out what to do about the fact that Chris had left his green card back in Denver. This is such an important topic for those of you with green cards, that Chris has said he’ll write his own little post on it and share here, which means I won’t go into a ton of detail on this post, other than to say … don’t do it!

Anyway, after (sort of) sorting that out, we headed out into beautiful Kyoto for our first stop — the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. I had been dying to do this ever since I started researching Kyoto about a month before our trip, and I’m so, so glad we made it there, because the experience really is incredible. Luckily for us we happened upon a bike shop on our way from the subway to the grove, though, because without the bike rental, I think it would have been pretty difficult for my preggers legs to do all the walking we would have done that day. So — that’s just something to keep in mind for anyone who maybe isn’t so into walking miles and miles. Even if you don’t mind the walking, though, renting a bike is a great (and super fun) way to take in the grove! It does get pretty busy, though, so there were times when maneuvering a bike through the crowds was tough. Still, overall, I’d say we were super happy to have had the bikes. Plus, riding bikes or taking bike tours on our trips (or even where we live) has become something of a traditional with us. We’ve done it in New York and Denver, Munich, Iceland, Berlin, New Orleans, London and now in Japan. It’s high on our list of recommendations for things to do when traveling.

Anyway, here’s a bit of what you’ll see at the Bamboo Groves. We spent a good two or three hours here, with a trip into the beautiful garden and temple area that’s right around the grove and a quick stop for a picnic lunch (meaning pastries!) that we had brought, as well.

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After the bamboo, we got back on the subway and headed back to the Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) that we had missed the day before with Chris’ parents. This place is gorgeous and serene, with its manicured rock gardens, temples, streams and foliage. There’s also a tiny hill you can walk up and get a pretty nice view of the city skyline.

It doesn’t take very long to see the whole park (if you don’t want it to, or you could spend an hour or so meandering around, it’s perfect like that), and afterwards there is a gorgeous little 1.7 mile walk called the Philosopher’s Walk nearby that I would suggest doing as well. The end of the walk will bring you pretty much right out to a bus stop that can bring you right back to the center of town.

thumb__DSC4021_1024^^^ The Silver Pavilion inside Ginkaku-ji

thumb__DSC4040_1024thumb__DSC4077_1024^^^ An artist making the most of Philosopher’s Walk

And that was pretty much our Saturday, friends. Dinner was out at a noodle restaurant, and then it was back to the hotel to attempt to pack up for our bullet train back to Tokyo to catch our flight back to the U.S. the next day.

Japan, you were everything I imagined you would be, and also so much more. Thanks for showing us such an amazing time. We hope to make it back here again to do even more!

Bis bald, friends!

One Day in Kyoto With the In-Laws

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Hi kids, I’m back!

So a couple Fridays ago, it was our last day in Kyoto with Chris’s parents before they flew back that night to Sydney, and we definitely wanted to make the most of it. Attending a traditional tea service in Japan was high on my mom-in-law’s list of things to do, but after breakfast we started our day out with a visit to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, a sprawling Shinto shrine with thousands of vermillion torri (gates) lining paths that crisscross into a mountain. It was unbelievably gorgeous, and definitely a must-see if you’re in Kyoto …

thumb__DSC3692_1024thumb__DSC3704_1024thumb__DSC3720_1024thumb__DSC3721_1024^^^ These torri … so mesmerizing!

thumb__DSC3724_1024thumb__DSC3733_1024^^^ The whole gang’s here!

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After spending an hour or so at the shrine, we hopped back on the subway and headed to the Kiyomizudera Temple area of Kyoto, which was this adorable, historical section of town, where we attended a traditional tea service — and learned how to make traditional Japanese tea! — at Camellia’s Japanese Tea Ceremony. Camellia (that was the woman’s actual name, my MIL asked!) was lovely and she explained to us the whole tradition behind the tea service in Japan and demonstrated herself first how to make the tea, before passing off the ingredients to us to make our own.

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After the service — which lasts about an hour, depending on how many questions you ask (we asked a lot!) — we finished walking around the Kiyomizudera area and grabbed a quick bite to eat (because preggers is always starved!).

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Kyoto_Snack^^^ Chris’s fried octopus hushpuppies, which he says were delicious. I’ll just take his word for it.

Then we tried to catch a train to Ginkakuji (aka the Silver Pavilion), but  unfortunately it closed at 5 and we were just a couple minutes too late to see it. Chris and I would actually head back there the next day — our last day in Kyoto — but alas my in-laws had run out of time. So it was back to the hotel we went for them to pack up and head out.

Thanks so much for spending the most amazing couple days with us in Tokyo and Kyoto, Connors! It’s been a real treat traipsing around the world as spectators together to watch Chris complete these World Marathons. Let’s hope something new and equally as amazing ushers itself into our lives so that we can continue to go on these adventures😉

After the Connors left Chris and I were starving, so we headed over to a sushi train restaurant in Kyoto Station, which turned out to be Chris’s favorite meal of the whole trip. I was pretty happy with it, too, since there was tons for me to eat and everything was clearly labeled. (Avocado, cucumber and cooked shrimp sushi … yum!)

FullSizeRender (23)^^^ Pure bliss! (And yes, that stack of plates next to Chris was all ours … and we weren’t even close to being done yet … )

FullSizeRender (24)FullSizeRender (25)FullSizeRender (26)FullSizeRender (27)^^^ The restaurant, should you feel so inclined to try to find it😉

And I will leave you with one final thought for this post, my friends, which is the below pic of me rubbing the head of a Buddha statue for good luck and prosperity.

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Is there anything more calming than that?

I’ll be back soon with our final day in Kyoto, friends. Until then, bis bald!

Countryside Trips to Kyoto

thumb__DSC3346_1024^^^ Here we are, all ready to hop our Japanese Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto — yehaw!!

Hi friends,

Last Wednesday we were making the trek from Tokyo to Kyoto for the rest of our trip, but we were making it in style by riding the bullet train😉 We had booked our JR Pass before we even left the states, and we decided to go ahead and upgrade to first class which, as I mentioned previously, turned out to be quite nice. I only caught a glimpse briefly of what the regular seats would have been like as the train whizzed into the station, and while I’m sure they would have been perfectly fine, for someone who had just run a marathon and another someone who was pregnant, we certainly weren’t going to complain about the extra legroom, foot rest and spacious seats.

One word of advice here — even when you book first class tickets ahead of time, you still need to go into a Rail Pass station and book in tickets for your exact seat and train time. I’m not sure what would happen if you showed up to a train where you hadn’t booked ahead of time, but luckily for us my father-in-law figured out before that happened that we needed to book, so we did so for our trip to Kyoto from Tokyo, to Hiroshima from Kyoto and then back from Kyoto to Tokyo to catch our flight on Sunday.

The ride was pretty glorious, friends. Lots of beautiful countryside to take in, and small towns along the way to peruse. I know I’ve shared this photo on Instagram already, but it’s just too good not to post here, too:

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^^^ See? Ooooohhhhhh … pretty😉

Anyway, the 452 kilometer ride (aka 5 1/2 hr car ride) from Tokyo to Kyoto only took about 140 minutes on the bullet train, and it was far more comfy then any car ride would have been. In Kyoto the train arrives into Kyoto Station, which is such an amazing place I’d recommend checking it out even if you’re not catching a train. There are tons of restaurants (good restaurants!), bakeries and shops — there’s a lot to do there. The hotel we stayed at was the New Miyako Hotel,  which was literally right outside the train station and super convenient for exhausted, weary travelers who just want to drop their bags off in their room and take a quick rest before heading back out. (Not to mention how great it is to only travel a short distance when you need to hop the train to get back to Tokyo!)

Anyway, after resting up for a bit, it was pretty late, but we decided to hop on a city bus (again, thank you Chris Connor for showing us how to get around!), and went to check out the Gion District, which is Kyoto’s famous geisha district and is filled with shops and restaurants (and while we were unfortunately a tad early, I can tell you this area would be gorgeous with cherry blossoms probably right about now, too!). The Yasaka Shrine is also right next door to the Gion District, so you can easily knock both things off your list in one trip.

thumb__DSC3356_1024^^^ Entrance to the Yasaka Shrine. We thought the shrine closed to visitors at 5, and most of the stalls and things were closed, but you can still walk into the actual shrine area past 5, so seeing it at night (and then again later during the day) was special.

thumb__DSC3384_1024^^^ We were starving and decided to get sushi (no raw fish for me!) at a little place we happened upon in the Gion district. They had vegetarian noodles, so I started with those, and then gorged myself on veggie sushi, as well. Yum!

The next day we decided to hop back on the bullet train and head to Hiroshima and neighboring island Miyajima. I have to admit that I was hesitate to partake in the Hiroshima part of the trip. I knew it would be an emotional thing to see, and we only had a limited number of days in Kyoto and I just wasn’t sure how I felt about all of it, but after going, I’m so glad I did. Yes, the Hiroshima sites and museum are incredibly heartbreaking, but the area is so beautiful and there’s just so much history there, to go, you really feel like you’re a part of something, for better or for worse.

thumb__DSC3417_1024^^^ We caught the ferry from Hiroshima over to Miyajima Island first.

thumb__DSC3425_1024^^^ Chris & his dad about to chow down on some fried oyster donuts. Chris said this was one of his favorite things he ate the entire trip.

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^^^ The wild deer are indigenous to this island, and while they’re cute and friendly, they will try to eat any paper you have hanging around, if you let them!

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^^^ That’s the Itsukushima shrine on the island. It’s pretty incredible to see.

thumb__DSC3455_1024thumb__DSC3485_1024thumb__DSC3489_1024^^^ We also took the Miyajima cable car up into the mountains for the most incredible view of the area, including Hiroshima in the background. There’s also a beautiful walk that you can take back from the cable car area down into the village, which I would recommend. It’s a steep climb up, so we took the bus to the entrance of the cable car, but to walk down isn’t so bad, so that’s how I’d recommend doing it.

thumb__DSC3529_1024thumb__DSC3598_1024^^^ Back down on the island …

thumb__DSC3648_1024thumb__DSC3656_1024^^^ After Miyajima Island it was on to Hiroshima, where our first stop was this structure, now known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. As one of the only standing reminders of the atomic bomb, you can obviously guess why it would have been a controversial decision to keep it standing all these years later, but after much back and forth, the building was finally designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site and today is protected. There’s a really good explanation of this building and how it remained standing after the blast right here.

thumb__DSC3678_1024^^^ The city as it stands today. Incredible. While it’s obviously been a while since the attack, it’s still pretty amazing to see how the city has built itself up around the ashes.

Anyway friends, I didn’t take too many photos in and around Hiroshima, and I didn’t take any inside the museum, but I’d say if you are in the area (or in Kyoto), it’s worth a visit. Just brace yourself, because it’s as upsetting as you might imagine it would be.

After a pretty full day of touristing around, it’s safe to say we were pretty tired. So we headed back to the station, bought some food to eat on the ride home, and caught the bullet train back to Kyoto. The next day would be Chris’s parents last with us before they headed back to Australia, so you just know we had to jam pack that day full of goodies, too😉 I’ll have more on that tomorrow, my dears. Until then, bis bald!

A Final Day & Night In Tokyo

thumb__DSC3119_1024^^^ Hello! Do we look super excited to be up and out the door by 3:30 a.m. for a tuna auction? Good … because we were!

Hi friends,

So as I mentioned the other day, Tuesday was a pretty busy day for us, and it started before the sun was even awake when we all got up and were out the door by 3:30 a.m. in order to catch an Uber over to the Tsukiji Fish Market in time to watch the famous tuna auction.

The fish market itself is supposed to be the world’s biggest, moving about 1800 tons of seafood every single day. And the tuna auction — where prized maguro (bluefin tuna) gets auctioned off to the highest bidder — starts at 5 a.m. The line to register for the auction starts forming way before 5, though, and we were told to get there by 4 a.m. if we wanted in. Even arriving at 4, though, we were already in the second of only two groups allowed in, and there were only a handful of people allowed in after us — so this is one hot ticket, my friends!

And after going, I can see why. It’s so exciting! I mean it doesn’t last very long — they usher you out pretty quickly — but some of the best chefs in Japan come here to purchase their tuna, and one tuna can go for up to $10,000 each, so there’s definitely no funny business happening here — they take it very seriously. I have to admit, I’d never even been to an auction of any kind before, so to watch that whole thing go down was pretty fun. The auctioneer (is that the right word?!) closest to us must have been chosen specifically to be closest to the tourists who view the show, because he was some kind of fun to watch!

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thumb__DSC3143_1024^^^ Our auctioneer … so much fun!

After the auction — which probably lasts about 15-20 minutes for the viewing — we walked around the fish market for a while and took in those crazy sights. You can seriously find any and all kind of seafood here, from tasty looking to downright “Who would ever eat that?!” There was talk of potentially doing a sushi breakfast, but it was decided that, for as much adventure as we were down for, sushi breakfast after a big tempura dinner the night before just wasn’t going to be one of those adventures.

thumb__DSC3163_1024thumb__DSC3168_1024thumb__DSC3169_1024thumb__DSC3174_1024thumb__DSC3179_1024^^^ Pssst. Be aware taking photos at the market — some of the vendors did not take too kindly to it:/ This is actually true in quite a few places around Japan. Try to pay attention to any signs that might be posted asking people to not take pics … I was burned a few times, and I hate thinking of myself as one of those kinds of tourists …

After the auction we headed back to our apartment to rest for a bit and shower and get ready (attending a tuna auction at 5 in the morning means no one was quite prepared for the rest of the day). A little before noon we were back out the door and headed towards the Meiji-jingu shrine, which happened to be in Yoyogi Koen park, which was about a five to seven minute walk from our apartment. (Score!)

The Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was completed in 1920 and destroyed during World War II, but it was rebuilt soon after. According to my guide book, the torii (or gates) at the entrance mark the beginning of the shrine’s sacred space. It supposedly gets pretty busy here during the day, but I think we were lucky and caught it during a not-so-hectic time.

thumb__DSC3180_1024thumb__DSC3195_1024^^^ Right after you pass through the torii you’ll find this water well. (Once we saw this one, we started spotting them all over Japan). Visitors are meant to spoon cupfuls of water into their left hand, then their right hand, then cup their hands and gather water in to put in their mouth and then spit into the well. Please don’t quote me on any of that, because it’s simply what another tourist told us we were meant to do. So we did it. I hope it was right!

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thumb__DSC3243_1024^^^ These decorative saki barrels were all gifts to the shrine, and really beautiful.

After the shrine we meandered into lunch at a little noodle shop we found along the way [which, thankfully, catered to tourists and had an English menu and specific vegetarian options. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry ;)]. After lunch we made our way over to Shibuya Crossing, which is meant to be one of the busiest intersections in the world. All of Shibuya in general, actually, is awash with vibrant colors, large ads and hustling, bustling streets. Essentially it’s the Times Square of Tokyo … something definitely not to be missed.

thumb__DSC3251_1024^^^ See us there in the middle, walkin’ across the street all normal like😉

After Shibuya (and some fabulous sunglass finds for both myself and Chris’s mom!), it was a quick subway ride back over to Roppongi Hills (remember, we tried that area the day before, but the weather turned to crap?) for the Tokyo City View and the Mohri Art Museum. Although we started at the Tokyo City View around 4 or so and planned to check it out for a minute, then do the art museum and head back for sunset, there were so many other exhibits to see up there, and such an expansive view to take in, that we ended up staying up there the entire time right through sunset.

And the views were absolutely stunning.

thumb__DSC3261_1024thumb__DSC3277_1024thumb__DSC3284_1024thumb__DSC3296_1024^^^ That helicopter in the right-hand corner of the picture provided a lot of entertainment for us as it hovered in the sky before landing quite close to the building we were in.

thumb__DSC3298_1024thumb__DSC3311_1024thumb__DSC3320_1024^^^ Goodnight, Tokyo!

You can actually get out onto the roof for a view as well, which we didn’t know until after the sun had gone down, which meant it was frigid and our time spent up there was short and sweet. Still worth it, though!

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Back inside we tried getting into the art exhibit we wanted to see, only to find out we had purchased the wrong tickets. As luck would have it, the exhibit we wanted to see was closed already, but the exhibit we had bought tickets for was still open, so we took a quick walk through that one, instead.

It was right about halfway through this art exhibit that it hit me, friends — I was exhausted. Like more exhausted than maybe I’ve ever been in my life, and my wee tired little legs were simply about to give out. Apparently this preggers lady needed to make more of a habit of taking breaks throughout the day, since that was something that up until that point I had not been paying close attention to. Anyway, the tiredness was all-consuming, and there was no point in trying to avoid it. Luckily we were all somewhat bushed — seeing as how we had started our day at 3 a.m. — so no one seemed all too annoyed to pack ourselves into a cab (one of the few we took during the whole trip, but the situation called for it!) and call it a night. I didn’t even eat dinner, folks, that’s how tired I was. Basically as soon as I got back to the apartment, the pajamas were on and I was in bed. Done. Lights out. Goodnight.

And that was Tuesday, friends! Long, exhausting, amazing, adventurous. It had it all!

The next day, Wednesday, we would be heading out on the bullet train to Kyoto, which is an experience all by itself. But more on that to come next time, friends. For now … bis bald!

Touristing Around Tokyo: Billboards, Shrines and Dancing Robots

thumb__DSC3005_1024Hi friends,

So last Monday after the marathon was really the first day that we had a chance to actually tour a bit around Tokyo, and we really made the most of it. Our time in Tokyo would be ending on Wednesday, when we took a bullet train to Kyoto for the rest of the trip, so we really wanted to pack as much in on Monday and Tuesday as possible.

We decided to start the day at the Senso-ji shrine, but even just getting to the shrine proved to be difficult for us, since we kept getting districted by everything else we were passing along the way. Tokyo is a riot of colors, excitement and impeccably dressed men and women (oh my gosh these women are so well dressed!), and we really just couldn’t get enough …

thumb__DSC2912_1024^^^ We took the subway to the Akihabara area and got off to walk around a bit. This vicinity is famous for its electronic shops (They sell toilet seats! Oh the toilet seats … how have I not talked about these yet!? They are INSANE. As in insanely amazing. They’re heated. They close and open on their own. They flush on their own or you wave your hand in front of a sensor and it flushes. Some have ocean sounds that come on when you sit … I mean?! It’s like visiting a spa every time you pee!), and in recent years has become well-known for its collection of anime and manga paraphernalia, as well. It’s so funky and fun, totally worth a walk through.

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We also found ourselves meandering through the streets leading up to the Senso-ji temple, which was much more traditional Japan, as I had imagined it …

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thumb__DSC2967_1024^^^ This guy … too funny!

thumb__DSC2969_1024^^^ This was our first view coming up on the temple. You can just tell right away that it’s going to be pretty amazing, and the surrounding area — referred to as Nakamise-dori — has streets filled with shopping for anything your little heart might desire, from food and trinkets to clothing and so much more.

thumb__DSC2971_1024^^^ Senso-ji, in all her splendor.

thumb__DSC2976_1024^^^ Senso-ji is known to be Tokyo’s oldest temple, and its referred by to locals as the temple of the Asakusa Kannon. Even though the temple receives 30 million visitors every year, it is still an important center of worship. There’s a great history of the temple and surrounding area here.

thumb__DSC2978_1024thumb__DSC2982_1024thumb__DSC2989_1024^^^ 100 yen (placed in an honour box) will get you an omikuji, or a fortune written on a small piece of paper. If your fortune is bad, tradition would have you tie the paper on a nearby string so the wind can disperse the bad luck. Above is the incense burner, which you’ll find in the temple forecourt. People come here to fan the smoke from the incense over themselves, believing it to have healing powers.

thumb__DSC3009_1024thumb__DSC3015_1024^^^ The area immediately surrounding the temple includes manicured gardens, Buddhist and other statues to pray at, and some other, smaller temple structures. The whole area is so alluring and you’ll feel like you never want to leave.

Of course leave you must, if you want to take in the rest of Tokyo! So after spending a couple hours at the temple and wandering around the surrounding streets, we decided to head off to check out the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo, with its Tokyo City View, Mori Art Museum and Mohri Garden. Unfortunately by the time we got there the weather had turned rainy and cloudy, so the Tokyo City View didn’t seem like such a smart idea, and the Mohri Garden — which I had been pretty excited about based on information I’d read in my guide book — turned out to be pretty lame, as well. (Maybe it’s better in the spring when everything is blooming? Probably, I assume.) There are a ton of shops in this area, though, and it’s definitely one of the more affluent, contemporary sections of Tokyo, so it’s worth checking out. So we decided to grab a coffee (hot chocolate for me!) and rest our legs, and to come back the next day when the weather promised to be better to do the city view and the art museum.

In the evening we had plans to meet up with a friend of my sister’s who just recently moved to Japan with her husband who is in the Navy. Our original plan to see another temple didn’t seem like such a good one anymore because of the weather, so she recommended checking out Robot Restaurant, a restaurant in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo that she admitted she had never been to before, but that everyone had been recommending. Not quite sure what to expect (Vicky said “it’s mostly about the entertainment, it’s not really a restaurant!”), we were game for everything, so we hopped online, bought our tickets (they’re a bit pricey at about $50 per ticket — with a discount! — so I would definitely do your research before buying them to make sure this is the type of entertainment you’d be into) and were off!

So let me tell you about Robot Restaurant — it is quite a spectacle! There were little kids in our audience, so I would have been interested to gauge their reaction afterwards, but the basic gist of it is that this is not a restaurant (they serve popcorn, beer and some other goodies for an additional fee), and it’s really just a bright, loud, crazy, kitschy show of shorts, put on by both elaborately dressed actors and, ahem, robots. I think there was a plot line (good vs. evil, big scary robot wants to destroy pretty, blossoming world, people who live in pretty world fight back and win? Maybe?), but really, it’s not about the plot line, either. It’s all about the theatrics, the costumes … and the robots, of course! It actually turned out to be a lot of fun, but it’s probably not for everyone, so like I said, I’d do a little research before buying those tickets!

If you do buy the tickets, though, here’s a bit of what you can expect …

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thumb__DSC3068_1024thumb__DSC3072_1024^^^ That about sums it up!

thumb__DSC3082_1024thumb__DSC3096_1024thumb__DSC3106_1024^^^ Of course you don’t have to try on one of the costume heads when the show is over … unless you’re my husband😉

thumb__DSC3112_1024^^^ Thank you, Robot Restaurant, for showing us a crazy, wild side of Tokyo that we probably would never have otherwise seen!

After the show were all starving (because again, it’s not a restaurant!), so Chris hopped on, you guessed it!, Foursquare, and found an awesome little tempura place nearby that he wanted to try. Again, the name is in Japanese, which isn’t much help for you, but I did take a picture of the front of the restaurant, if that helps!

thumb__DSC3116_1024^^^ If you’re a tempura fan, this is a great place to try out. They have traditional seating, too (on the floor, legs crossed), if you want, and if you sit up at the bar area, like we did, you can watch the chefs cook your dinner right in front of you. So cool!

And that was our Monday, friends! It was jam packed, but as it turned out Tuesday would be even more full. We started our morning on Tuesday at 3 a.m. (!!!) in order to make it to a viewing of the famous tuna auction at the Tsukiji Market, so stay tuned for more on that tomorrow!

For now … bis bald, friends!

To Tokyo, With Love

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Hi friends,

So last Thursday we left for Japan, knowing full well that we would have quite the journey ahead of us. With Chris running a marathon on Sunday that he was not prepared for (an injury caused him to cease training almost as soon as he began), and with me and my preggers self, the 13-hour flight alone could have been problematic.

Luckily for us, it turned out to be okay. With my trusty pair of compression socks and tons of snacks packed away in our bags, we were ready! That’s not to say that the flight time just flew by, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as my worst-case scenario mind was imagining it to be. I will take a hot sec to complain about one thing regarding the flight, though, which was American Airlines’ inability to get me a vegetarian meal. Chris had signed me up for that option when we first booked our flight, and heading out to Tokyo they didn’t have any set aside for me (luckily for the first meal there was an extra laying around, but for the second there wasn’t, which meant I went without dinner, and preggers me does not like going without meals!), and for the flight home we called to double check about that and were told we had to sign up for it within a 24-hour timeframe of the flight leaving? What kind of craziness is that? So I didn’t have the veggie meal heading home, either. Major bummer.

Anyway, once we arrived (around 5 p.m. Tokyo time), we set off to find the apartment where we would staying with Chris’s parents, which was this cute little place in Shibuya, which really turned out to be a great location not only for the race (Chris said it was a short warm-up jog to the start line), but also for our general touristing later in the week, since it was close to two major subway lines.

About the subway. Chris had purchased our PASMO cards (for the subway) and our Japan Rail Pass tickets (for the bullet train to and from Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as between Kyoto and Hiroshima) ahead of time, so we had those in the mail to bring with us to Japan, and it was amazing having them. We even opted to upgrade to first class for the JRAIL Passes, and I’m so glad we did. The bullet trains travel at about 200 MPH, but we were still on the train from Tokyo to Kyoto for about 2 hours and 40 minutes and for 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kyoto to Hiroshima, so it was nice to have that extra leg room, a foot rest, and a nice quiet ride. Another note about transportation in and around Japan — subway is definitely the way to go. We took cabs a few times (and they are super fancy cabs, at that! The doors even open automatically for you!), but they are expensive, so it’s not really economically feasible to use them for all your transportation if you’re in town for a while, like we were.

Anyway, moving on! It was late when we arrived at our apartment on Friday, but we ventured out with the Connors for our first (of many!) noodle dinners in the cute little surrounding neighborhood. A town that loves noodles? I can get behind that😉

Saturday and Sunday of our trip were marathon-themed, as we went to the Expo Saturday for Chris to register and get his race bib, and Sunday was the actual race.

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^^^ Vending machines are everywhere in Japan, and they dispense mostly (if not all) drinks, even HOT coffee and hot chocolate! They’re pretty amazing.

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^^^ At the expo, gettin’ geared up!

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^^^ Signing his name into history on the Abbott World Marathon Majors sign. As we would come to find out later, Chris is one of only about 600 or so runners to have completed all six world marathons in the World Marathon Series so far. Ummmm … you’re pretty impressive, my dear.

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^^^ Honestly, all credit for getting around during our trip goes to this guy. The Connors and I were all too happy to give up transportation control to Chris, and we were well taken care of in his hands.

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^^^ Our little family of three was ready on race day!

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^^^ Chris will tell you this wasn’t his best race (because it wasn’t a PR, and it was a struggle to finish since he wasn’t able to train at all), but he finished in 3 hours and 36 minutes, which for any normal person would still be an insanely fast time. He’s now a six-time World Marathon Series Marathon F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R! Way to go, Chris Connor!

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^^^ Unfortunately a lot of the restaurants we ended up eating at had Japanese names (obviously), so I don’t envision that my posts will be a lot of help in the food department. However, I think it’s pretty hard to go wrong with food in Japan, and we ended up using Foursquare a lot to find places to eat, which is fast becoming my food app of choice when traveling. It has yet to let us down! So for dinner after the marathon, we found this adorable hole-in-wall (thanks Foursquare!) noodle shop that sits about 15 people max and had the most insanely delicious noodles I probably ate the entire trip. We waited about 40 minutes to get seated, but they take your order while you wait, so pretty much as soon as you sit down the food was at the table. Pretty genius, if you ask me!

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^^^ One of the things I loved most about restaurants in Japan was that at pretty much all of them the chefs making the food — and particularly the fresh noodles — were on display to watch. So. Much. Fun!

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^^^ And … the delicious meal. Yum!

And that was our 2-day marathon experience in a nutshell, folks! It was perhaps the final time that the Connors and I will be marathon spectators for Chris (another reason the trip was emotional for me!) — although I would never say never with that one!

I’ll be back tomorrow to start chatting about Monday and beyond, when we got really down and dirty with the touristy part of our trip😉

‘Til then – bis bald, friends!

Returning From Tokyo

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Well friends — we’re home. In the blink of an eye, our 10-day trip to Japan is over. This trip was so many things, and to be honest, it was sort of emotional. This was my first (and last) international trip while pregnant, and our last international trip as a couple before becoming parents.

This was Chris’s final trip to complete the six marathons in the World Marathon Majors series (have I mentioned how proud I am?!). It was the first and last time (probably) that I’ll have seen my in-laws while pregnant. This trip was amazing and eye-opening and exhausting and yes, at times, stressful (that can happen when you’re pregnant and vegetarian and traveling in a country where you don’t speak the language!), but all-in-all, I’d have to say it was every bit the life-changing experience I thought it would be.

It will probably take me a while to download and edit all the photos from my camera (as I try to fit that in with getting back into the swing of things with work … don’t you just hate that part of coming back from a trip?), but I’ve been trying to stay pretty up-to-date on my Instagram page, and in the meantime, here are a few additional photos from my iPhone to tide you over😉

So for now, bis bald, friends! I hope March is treating you well …

Hello From the Other Side …

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Hey there friends! Remember me? Your friendly Weary Wanderer? If not, I don’t blame you, since it has been a while since I’ve posted. I’m sorry for that. I’ve been taking some time to reenvision what I see happening for this blog in the future (more on that later), to work on some other professional goals (I finally attended this amazing children’s book writing conference in NYC the other weekend — I cannot say enough how much I loved it and how I want to go to every single conference they offer!), and perhaps the most important reason I’ve been busy is because — drum roll, please — Chris and I are expecting our first little baby!! Hence the above photo, which my husband so lovingly took after schlepping into the backcountry mountains at both Keystone and Breckenridge to find the perfect spot for the photo opp — good job, love😉

Anyway, besides all of the above, we have an amazing trip coming up to Japan, where Chris will be completing his sixth and final World Marathon series race in Tokyo THIS SUNDAY! We leave tomorrow, and I could not be more excited! (Except, you know, for the 17 or so hour long flight to get there:/ Normally I wouldn’t mind as much, but as a preggers, well this could be interesting. Stay tuned for a post on the things I (hopefully!) did to make it go smoothly.)

We’ll be back the second week in March, and I’ll be here to blog about everything we saw, but in the meantime, here’s a bit from this year, which has been both amazingly relaxing and crazy busy, all at the same time.

IMG_0253^^ Homemade cinnamon buns from my stepmom. Best. Gift. Ever! (And yes, they were every bit as delicious as they look … )

IMG_0327^^ So exciting getting this in the mail!

IMG_0358^^ Chris and I found out a few weeks ago the gender of our baby. We took the paper with the gender on it to our local bakery and had these cupcakes made up with pink or blue frosting inside to let us know. It was just the two of us, but it was really fun to find out this way, and I’m so glad we did. [I’ll keep it a secret on here for now … some things are more fun when you wait for them ;)]

FullSizeRender (1)^^ The most delicious (and addicting!) ginger cookies from Trader Joe’s, sent as part of a ‘first trimester in pregnancy’ package from a best friend and her (three-times-a-momma!) sister.

FullSizeRender^^ I mean … could these fortune cookies be more accurate?!

FullSizeRender (2)^^ A snowy day in downtown Denver.

IMG_0416^^ Chris and I planned to fly into Newark on our last trip back to New York because it was easier for my stepdad to pick us up there. Unfortunately that meant we had to have a layover at the Cincinnati airport, and when we landed we were given the unfortunate news that all flights into New York had been canceled because of weather. So that meant we spent the night at a hotel near the airport, which at first we were super bummed about, until my stepdad pointed out that the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky, not Ohio (go figure!), and neither one of us had ever been to Kentucky before, so hello that totally counted and we can add it to our list of states visited! Of course we were so exhausted from the day (and our flight out to New York was at 6 a.m. the following morning), so we ended up doing nothing but relaxing, watching television and ordering in (which was delicious, by the way, see above). Still, we were in Kentucky for a night and a meal, so that counts!

IMG_0417^^ Not exactly the best picture, but flying into New York will always send my heart a flutter😉

IMG_0429^^ Celebrating my grandmother and her twin sister on their 94th birthday. Could there be anything cuter than these two?!

IMG_0433^^ Still in love, after 94 years together. That’s some soul mate action, for ya.

FullSizeRender (3)^^ Although I spent the majority of my time in New York with family upstate, I did get to meet a friend in the city for a couple days (we stayed at The Paul Hotel, which offered these incredible views and was close to the Empire State Building, as well, which was a lot of fun for us as former-NYC-residents-turned-tourists). It was so much fun to eat good food, roam around the city (although it was frigid that weekend!) and to just catch up in person. Sometimes I forget how much I miss my friends until I actually get to see them.

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IMG_0457^^ Catching up with another preggers friend of mine was definitely a highlight, but it got even better when she had her baby on the Friday before I spent all weekend long at the writing conference, which meant I actually got to meet little baby Fiona, which was beyond amazing!
IMG_0463^^ Lisa likes to jazz up photos we take when we’re together, and I like to look at ’em😉

IMG_0461^^ Ahhhhh, registering for baby shower stuff. Can we all admit that this is fun for about an hour or two, and then by hour three and four all you want to do is sit down and eat cake?

IMG_0526^^ Chris was only with me on this trip for the first weekend (for my grandmother and her twin’s birthday party), and not for my jaunt out into the city and for the writer’s conference, so when he picked me up at the airport when I flew back, he was waiting with these amazing flowers. What a hubby, am I right?!

And now we’re on to Japan, friends! We’re spending about six days in Tokyo and then four days in Kyoto, which I’m beyond excited for. Can’t wait to be back here with an update, and, oh, by the way, it’ll be March when I do! Crazy. How fast is this year going?!

Bis bald, friends!