Estes Park, Colorado — The Place Where Birthday Dreams Come True

I will provide you with fair warning my friends — I’m about to overload you with baby and beautiful scenery photos. If that happens to be the kind of thing you enjoy (ahem, who doesn’t?!), then please keep reading.

As I mentioned yesterday, this past weekend was my birthday, and Chris planned a weekend getaway to Estes Park for our little fam. We stayed at this Airbnb, which was two blocks from the Lake Estes walking path, about a four-minute drive from our hike at Gem Lake on Saturday and an easy walk into town, too. There was a cute little kitchenette which was perfect for our beer-stocking, baby food-making needs, and they had games and puzzles and the perfect Wi-Fi password. (It had something to do with going outside, but Chris says I shouldn’t give the actual password … fair enough.)

We had take-out from Thai Kitchen  on Friday night (delish), made a lunch to bring with us on our hike Saturday and had Mexican for dinner Saturday night at Ed’s Cantina & Grill.  The food was fantastic, and the town — which we walked through on Saturday evening after our hike — was really cute, but really what you come to Estes Park for are the awe-inspiring views. We had planned to do two hikes on Saturday, but the Gem Lake trail ended up taking us about four hours total, because we took the long way back and it had snowed the day before, so it was a bit icy in patches, which meant we went super slow with the little one in tow. Chris was carrying her in the Ergo, so I was really glad that he rented spikes for our shoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop, which we had never used before but which I thoroughly believe I’ll be using for every hike from here on out … they are so helpful!

Anyway, the Gem Lake hike was definitely difficult in parts (check out the All Trails info on it here), but it was absolutely worth it.

Here’s a bit from our weekend getaway ….

_DSC7398_DSC7401
^^ A bit blurry, but OMG I love this pic 😉

_DSC7402_DSC7406
^^ A fridge full of Michelob Ultra … that’s my kind of birthday celebration!

_DSC7415
^^ Lotte was very excited to help dad set out the puzzle pieces for a puzzle that we never actually did. Turns out when your 8-month-old goes to bed at 7 p.m. and you’re sharing the same room, there’s not much you can do but watch Parks & Rec repeats on your iPad in the dark, which, as anyone who knows me at all will know, was totally fine by me.

_DSC7417_DSC7422_DSC7450
^^ This is definitely a photo of some of my favorite things, but I actually took a picture of it because last year I was pregnant with Lotte and couldn’t have beer or soft cheeses. My how things change in 12 months.

_DSC7451_DSC7452
^^ Traveling with a baby is, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of fun, but there is something to be said about having to be on baby’s schedule. It actually turned out that it was better we had to wait for Lotte to wake up from her morning nap before heading out, because it warmed up nicely before we hit the trail.

_DSC7453
^^ Chris is frequently annoyed with my trail mix eating habits, which include picking out all of the M&Ms and leaving pretty much everything else behind. This time he decided to hedge his bets and set up a make-your-own-trail-mix bar, that way I could put in as many M&Ms (and as few peanuts, yuck!) as I wanted!

FullSizeRender
^^ Hiking shoe spikes! So dorky … and so worth it!

_DSC7457
^^ And so the trail begins! It was about 3.3 miles round-trip, but we took the Twin Owls loop back, which added an extra 1/2 mile or so.

IMG_8469

_DSC7461
^^ These two 😉 My loves.

_DSC7463_DSC7466

IMG_8439_DSC7467
^^ Rocky Mountain National Park usually costs $20 for a day pass to enter, but this trail technically takes you through sections of the park … for free!

_DSC7477_DSC7483_DSC7486
^^ We seriously could not get enough of these views!

_DSC7496

IMG_8449

_DSC7502_DSC7503
^^ The higher we got, the snowier it got. Thank goodness we had our hiking shoe spikes! That was $16 well spent.

_DSC7507

IMG_8530_DSC7508_DSC7510_DSC7512_DSC7522
^^ Just before you hit Gem Lake you’re blessed with this gorgeous view. I would have been happy with just this alone, but then …

_DSC7523
^^ You get to the lake, and it’s simply spectacular.

IMG_8453

_DSC7524_DSC7525
^^ These icicles are gorgeous, but I really love the blurry Chris & Lotte in the background.

IMG_8454

_DSC7526_DSC7527_DSC7528_DSC7529_DSC7534_DSC7535_DSC7536_DSC7538_DSC7540_DSC7542_DSC7543_DSC7545_DSC7546_DSC7547
^^ We hiked around a bit and ate our sandwiches on the other side of the lake, then started to make our way down. I swear it had been a bit cloudy and chilly on our hike up, but as soon as we reached the lake the clouds cleared and the sun was shining. It was stunning.

_DSC7552_DSC7553_DSC7555_DSC7559_DSC7567
^^ This little muffin even fell asleep on the way back down – why not, all comfy, cozy snuggled on dad!?

_DSC7569
^^ Checking out the Twin Owls View Trail on the way back was definitely worth the extra .5 miles!

_DSC7575_DSC7582_DSC7586_DSC7588_DSC7590_DSC7599

After our hike we took a brief rest back at our Airbnb before heading out on the walk into town. The River Walk is super cute, and you pass by a bunch of fun shops and restaurants to browse.

_DSC7605
^^ This sign on our walk had me cracking up. I mean I guess aggressive elk isn’t something to laugh about, but it certainly seemed funny to me!

_DSC7606On Sunday — my actual birthday 😉 — we planned to get up and get breakfast in town, then check out the downtown area a bit more, but Lotte had other ideas. Namely, she was super grumpy and just wanted to go home, which was fair enough because we’ve kept her pretty busy over these past couple weeks. We did manage to stop by the Estes Park sign on our way out and snap a photo though:

IMG_8637

Thanks for an amazing time, Estes Park, and thank you for being so close to our home. We will definitely be back.

Bis bald, friends!

Birthday Celebrations in the Mountains

Hi friends,

Well we certainly got lucky with the weather this weekend. I turned 34 yesterday (Yikes? Or not? I haven’t really decided yet … ), and we spent the weekend in Estes Park to celebrate. Despite the fact that it’s only a little over an hour away, we had yet to really explore Estes Park and everything it has to offer, but now that we have I’m sure we’ll be back. The hikes are glorious, the town is adorable, and it’s right next to Rocky Mountain National Park, as well, so there’s no end to the number of outdoor things you can do. I’ll need a day or two to download my photos and write up a post, but I wanted to share the above pic we took yesterday on our way home. This was my first birthday as a mom, and my first birthday without my own mom. So many feelings. But having my own little family with me to celebrate was certainly lovely, and Chris did such a good job making me feel special. I’m very lucky, that I know.

Happy April, friends – I hope your spring started with some sunshine.

From New York to Philly to Virginia & Back — a Trip East With My Little

_DSC7276
^^ The most amazing turnout — with the most amazing group of women — for the MS fundraiser in honor of my Mom.

Heya friends,

So we’re back from our monster trip east, and Lotte & I had an amazing time. We saw so much family and so many friends, we covered miles & miles & miles in the car together (one of these days I’ll have to actually sit down and see how many miles we really drove), Lotte saw her first monuments in D.C., she spent tons of quality time with her Philly cousins, she was the hit of the MS fundraiser my sister & I held in honor of Mom at Wine & Design in Warwick, she attended her great-grandma and great-aunt’s 95th birthday party … and oh-so-many more important and amazing things.

Before we actually had Lotte, we weren’t exactly sure how much traveling we’d do with her. Traveling with kids is hard and at times very stressful, and let’s be honest, it’s not like she’s making lasting memories here. But you know what … we are. And I’ve come to realize as Lotte grows and goes through babyhood that that is just as important. These trips we take with her are some of my fondest memories, and I will never forget them. (Neither, luckily, will she, since I take extensive notes to put in her baby travel diary — complete with pictures! — and of course she’ll always have this blog to refer to, as well.)

The point is – yes, traveling with kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but so far, I am never sorry for the trips we’ve done with Lotte, and I only hope that continues.

Here’s a look at what we got up to over the past 10 days in photos. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another BIG shout-out to my husband for flying out and surprising us last Friday to be there for my Mom’s fundraiser, my Grandma’s 95th birthday party and, of course, to help on the flight back home with Lotte. Funny how four hands are so much better than two when it comes to flying with Littles 😉

IMG_7213
^^ All prepped and ready for our first solo flight as Mom & baby! In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky Chris & I got with Lotte. She’s a pretty solid, amazing little traveler, so things might be a tad different is she were more difficult …

IMG_7274
^^ We don’t have a dog at home, so Lotte’s only real interaction with them so far has been at my stepdad’s house with Ranger. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Ranger would react to Lotte at first — he can be a bit of a loose cannon — but especially in his older age, he tolerates her quite nicely, which is nice, because she is obsessed!

IMG_7275IMG_7322
^^ Quick pit stop at Aunt Steph’s & Uncle Brian’s on Saturday to pick them up on our way into Pennsylvania for Rory’s 4th birthday party.

IMG_7324
^^ These two together = major cuteness! Peyton, on the right, is actually three months younger than Lotte, but she’s almost the same size. It’s really only when she gets with other babies that I’m reminded of what a tiny nugget Lotte is!

IMG_7325IMG_7330
^^ Dad’s fancy omelette bar on Sunday morning.

IMG_7356IMG_7361
^^ Jude!

IMG_7367IMG_7422
^^ Rory seriously loves Lotte, and it’s pretty much the sweetest.

IMG_7520IMG_7521FullSizeRender

IMG_7626
^^ Cuddles with my babe on our first day in Arlington, Virginia, to visit Lisa. I think I honestly was just so relieved the car ride from Pennsylvania went well!

IMG_7630IMG_7638IMG_7660
^^ This bear was pretty amazing to use as a backdrop in many-a-Lotte photo!

IMG_7667
^^ Driving into D.C. to take in the sites — don’t let this innocent face fool you, she screamed the entire way in and the entire way out! Those two car rides — which must have amounted to about 20 minutes total — and the one back to Newark airport to head home were the only ones she fussed (or should I say threw a tantrum) for. I guess that was … lucky?!

_DSC7147
^^ Patriotic Baby.

_DSC7166
IMG_7770
^^ In front of the Reflecting Pool … not impressed!

IMG_7771
^^ At the World War II Memorial … not impressed!

IMG_7772
^^ Heading to the Lincoln Memorial … not impressed!

IMG_7776
^^ At the Washington Monument … not impressed!

IMG_7777
^^ Visiting good ole’ Abe … not impressed!

_DSC7196

IMG_7778IMG_7780
^^ I mean … you get it. Lotte was not impressed! But it was a gorgeous day, and I hadn’t been back to these places myself in many, many years, so overall it was a pretty fun day!

IMG_7781IMG_7783IMG_7765
^^ Tuckered out from all her touristing. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby??

IMG_7849
^^ We were back in the car on Wednesday and back with Rory and Jude in no time (well, in about three hours, to be exact).

IMG_7860IMG_7890IMG_7932
^^ I particularly love this photo from our trip. I took this after I opened up the back door of the car after our ride from PA back to New York (our FOURTH long car ride, mind you), and Lotte was just chillin’ in her car seat, giving me the BIGGEST smile when she saw me. Oh Lotte … how I love you.

IMG_7935IMG_7937IMG_7954
^^ Deep conversations back at Aunt Stephie’s house.

IMG_8007IMG_8020

IMG_8044
^^ When your husband surprises you and flies to New York for the weekend and you can breathe because you finally have full-time help again. Single parents … I have never had more respect for you than I do after this trip! Oh and Lisa also got into town this day, too, so it was almost more than my little heart could handle, all my lovies surrounding me 😉

IMG_8042
^^ Delicious crinkle cookies Lisa made for the MS fundraiser.

IMG_8043
^^ Making sangria for the party!

IMG_8046
^^ I seriously love this photo of Lisa, after we picked up balloons for the party.

_DSC7199_DSC7200_DSC7203_DSC7211_DSC7228_DSC7246
^^ Lotte was a tad grumps during the fundraiser — girlfriend deserved to be! — even when seeing her future boyfriend Miles again.

_DSC7249_DSC7257_DSC7267_DSC7270_DSC7276

IMG_8075
^^ Between the paint & sip fundraiser and online donations, we raised more than $2,000 for MS research. Speechless. And oh-so thankful.

_DSC7278
^^ After the fundraiser it was on to my Grandma and Great-Aunt Vicki’s 95th birthday party, which my aunt did a fabulous job setting up.

_DSC7279_DSC7290
^^ Ugh these two cuties!!!! Can you imagine knowing — and liking! — someone for 95 years?!

_DSC7296_DSC7308_DSC7311_DSC7313
^^ Lotte frequently gets this look on her face when she’s around her Great-Grams. I can’t help but feel like she honestly understands what this woman means to our family, and to her.

_DSC7329_DSC7367
^^ Kisses after a little speech I made. I love my Aunt Vicki wasting no time before she downs her Prosecco!

_DSC7372_DSC7382_DSC7388_DSC7391
^^ Not pictured: Aunt Stephie cracking Lotte up by blowing into a party noisemaker. It. Was. Amazing.

_DSC7394

IMG_8083
^^ As if that weren’t enough partying for you, everyone surprised me with an early birthday cake back at Steph’s house that night. Sigh. The love.

IMG_8090
^^ Headed to the airport on Sunday.

IMG_8091
^^ These two.

IMG_8108
^^ So many toys to keep her occupied, and all she wanted to do was play with the free airplane cracker packet. 

IMG_8113IMG_8122^^ Home. That makes six plane rides for this little 8-month-old.

And those were the highlights, my friends. Usually trips like these tend to feel like a whirlwind (I feel like I use that word a lot when describing my trips!), but this one actually didn’t. Sure it was busy and hectic and hard at times, but overall I felt really good about everything we did, and so happy about everyone we got to see. It was a trip I’d repeat over and over again, with my Little by my side.

Bis bald, friends! Till next time …

We’re Home From Our Trip Back East!

 

Well friends, Lotte & I are home from our epic trip back east, and while it will likely take me at least a couple of days to go through all my photos, here’s just the slightest of tastes of what we got up to:

1. Lotte attended her first birthday party — it was for my nephew Rory’s 4th.
2. We traveled in the car a lot! Trips included from NY to PA, from PA to VA, back from VA to PA and finally from PA back to NY … not to mention to and from Newark Airport ;).
3. Lotte took her first trip into D.C.! We visited quite a few sites with Lisa (see above photo), but I’ll have more on that later.
4. CHRIS SURPRISED ME AND FLEW BACK TO NEW YORK ON FRIDAY TO HELP ME OUT WITH LOTTE & ATTEND THE BELOW EVENTS!!! If that’s not an awesome husband, I just don’t know what is.
5. My sister and I hosted an MS fundraiser this past Saturday in honor of our Mom, and it was awesome. We raised over $2,000 in total, and I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time and our Mom would have been (is) proud.
6. After the MS fundraiser we went to celebrate my Grandma and her twin’s 95th birthday … how utterly amazing is that?!

I’m sure there is more I’m forgetting, but hopefully going through all my photos will jog my memory. For now, check out my one photo from the sad cherry blossoms in D.C. (a recent frost killed them all!), and a pic of Lotte checking out our landing back in Denver. That girl loves herself an airplane landing ❤

Bis bald friends! And happy Spring!

IMG_7782IMG_8122

A Little Travel Splurge

IMG_7066

So I’m not normally one to splurge on … well … anything, really (except travel!) — but when I came across this Mark & Graham linen jewelry roll that you can personalize, I had to have it. I’ve been trying to come up with a DIY way to travel with my jewelry for years now (I’ve used Ziploc bags, a hard-cased jewelry holder, shoved things in zippers in my regular toiletry kit, etc.), and basically I end up usually not traveling with any jewelry other than what I’m wearing, which is no fun, either.

This will be my first trip using my fancy new jewelry roll, but I’m already super happy with it. I’m bringing some pretty important-to-me jewelry on this trip — like a necklace that belonged to my Mom — so it had better do its job and keep everything safe 😉

IMG_7067IMG_7068IMG_7069IMG_7070

My First Solo Flight With the Little

 

Well friends, Lotte and I were meant to leave today for our little east coast adventure, but because of the snow they got I decided to change our flight to Friday to avoid any potential delays or other issues. The main reason I did that was because this is my first flight solo with my babe, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous! I just hope all goes well – and if anyone has any tips on traveling with littles (even though I’ve written my fair share of articles on the topic, I feel like you can never have enough advice!), please do feel free to share in the comments.

For now though, I’m allowing myself to bask in the extra two days of packing, which perhaps is a bad thing! (See below.) We have quite the itinerary for this trip — Lotte and I — including cousin Rory’s 4th birthday party in Pennsylvania, a trip to D.C. (Lotte’s first!) to visit Lisa, and a fundraiser for my mom next Saturday that my sister and I are hosting, among other things.

So I guess all of this is to say … pray it goes well for me, friends!

Bis bald!

IMG_7041

A Girls’ Week Bonanza

majestic_view5

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

We. Had. So. Much. Fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_6480
^^ All alone … and loving it!

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

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

Bis bald, friends!