A Glorious Sunday Hike at South Table Mountain

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Sometimes in life, friends, your youngest daughter will voice (loudly) her disdain at the idea of being carried up a mountain by you, and so your husband will take one (or two, actually) for the team.

That’s a long way of saying that Grace basically refused to let me carry her on our hike up South Table Mountain yesterday, so Chris had to carry both girls — one in front, one in back — the entire time. Rock star, he is.

So this hike is only about 20 minutes from our house, in Golden, but we had never been on it before. It’s about .6 miles up and pretty steep (even though it’s called an “easy” trail on AllTrails, don’t believe them!), but the views are glorious.

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The elevation was only a little over 400 feet, which is steep to climb, but isn’t so bad if you’re worried about altitude. All-in-all it was a great hike, and since it’s in Golden there are tons of restaurants and shops and breweries to hang out in after.

So that’s how we spent our Sunday, friends, and today is a holiday Monday, and it doesn’t get better than that. Bis bald, friends!

The Weekend We Fell in Love with Granby Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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^^ I mean, she’s a natural, right?

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

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

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

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

IMG_7616IMG_7617IMG_7618IMG_7619IMG_7620IMG_7621IMG_7622^^ Happy faces after a happy weekend.

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

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

 

Welcome February!

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

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

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

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A Solo Mom-Daughter Trip to New York With Grace

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Grace and I returned yesterday from our first-ever solo mom-daughter trip, and we had a blast! I’ve taken Lotte out to New York by myself twice in the past, and although it’s always a ton of work (major shout-out to all the single parents out there … oh my gosh is it exhausting!), I always have the best time bonding one-on-one with the girls individually.

This time Grace and I flew out to New York so that we could attend my sister’s two baby showers, one of which was actually in Pennsylvania. We got to hang with so much family, and Grace got to be the sole recipient of so many cuddles and kisses … plus she didn’t have to share her toys with anyone, which was a huge plus in her book! My sister had Monday off last week anyway, but then she ended up having snow days on both Tuesday and Thursday and she got out early on Wednesday, so all-in-all it was a great week to be visiting.

As much fun as I had with G — and I did! — it was definitely hard to be away from Lotte for that long (10 full days!). I knew she was going to have a blast back home with Chris and Auntie Kate, and I had written her notes for each night I was gone, and left stickers, and we facetimed a whole bunch, but really, there’s no substitute for being in person. Honestly, coming home and seeing how excited she was to see both myself and Grace was just the best ending to an awesome trip that I possibly could have hoped for.

Here are some photos from my first-ever solo trip with Grace! I hope I always get to have solo adventures with my girls … it’s just the best way to bond!

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^^ We scored a seat for G on the flight out to New York, which honestly is a game changer! On the way home we weren’t quite so lucky, and she had to sit on my lap the entire time, but we made it through and that’s all that matters!

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^^ My baby sister is having a baby! I honestly still can’t believe it! We can’t wait to meet you in late Feb/early March, baby Rosalie!

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^^ I always love when my girls get to hang with their PA cousins. Little Molly is 7 months old, so it was adorable to see how she and G interacted with each other.

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^^ Baby Shower No. 1 in PA was a success!

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^^ Steph’s baby will be cousin No. 6 for this side of the family, and we honestly cannot wait!

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^^ Cutest couple ever alert 😉

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^^ Back at Aunt Stephie’s, G had the best time ever with Linus Puppy, as we have affectionately named him.

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^^ Plus we got to see Moe, one of my oldest and dearest besties!

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^^ My brother-in-law’s family had a dinner for us last Wednesday so that his mom, sister and I could go over the final details for our own shower, and Grace soaked up every last bit of her solo baby time there!

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^^ G also obliged Aunt Stephie by trying out all her new nursery things ❤

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^^ The Lakeview House in Newburgh was the prettiest winter setting for Baby Shower No. 2!

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^^ Grace got to hang out with the guys at The Golden Rail in Newburgh — one of Chris’ favorite places — before coming over to the shower. They said she was amazing and had the best time with them, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

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^^ On the Sunday before we flew out, we went to visit my grandma — so Grace & Lotte’s great-grandma — at her assisted living place. These times that my daughters get to spend with my grandma mean so much to me ❤ My grandma (and her twin!) will be 97 in a couple weeks. Can you even believe that?! They are pretty special ladies.

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^^ Heart strings BURSTING when we returned home and were our own little family again! Thank you Auntie Kate for documenting this moment!

img_7220img_7221img_7222img_7223^^ There is absolutely nothing better …

And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends! It’s been a whirlwind of a January, with our first week spent in Australia and the past 10 days with me and G in New York. If this past month has been any indicator, I think 2019 will be a year for the books, and I look forward to everything it will be bringing.

Bis bald, friends!

Our Final Days in Australia

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And so here we are, friends … we’ve arrived at our final two days in Australia. Le sigh.

Our last two days were filled with all the classic Australian activities, including checking out Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then heading out on the Manly Ferry to check out Manly Beach with some family and old friends. Lotte had the best time splashing around in the water with our friends’ son, who is one year older, and we’ve discovered G’s love of fish and chips, as was demonstrated by her eating all of Chris’ aunt’s fish after she woke from a delightful nap by the beach.

The waves at Manly were pretty insane the day we were there, but we headed over to a calm area of water on the other side of the beach before taking on the actual beach itself, so Lotte was able to get all her water adventures in in quieter waters.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
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Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia

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^^ This was the first time the girls were on a ferry, and as you can tell from G’s face, she thoroughly enjoyed it. Lotte had the best time too, and insisted on walking all around the ferry, checking out all the corners and exploring every last inch.

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^^ This photo of Lotte and our friends’ son, Ben, is just the sweetest.

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^^ That. Water!

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^^ Beach babe!

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^^ Sonja and her husband went to college with Chris in Australia, and we always catch up with them when we’re back in town. They even got to visit us here in Denver when they were traveling last year. Old friends are the absolute best.

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Manly Beach, Australia
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Manly Beach, Australia

^^ Fish and chips on the beach in Manly. Does not get better.

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Manly Beach, Australia

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The day after Manly Beach we decided to check out Coogee with the girls. A whole bunch of family and Sonja and Paz and Ben joined us again, and we had the best day, splashing in the water, eating lunch, making sand castles and just generally enjoying the sunshine.

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Coogee Beach, Australia

^^ Is this not the happiest face?!

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^^ Auntie Sarah and Lotte really bonded this day, and they had the best time playing together in the sand and the water.

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Coogee Beach, Australia

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^^ Chris’ grandma came, as well, which made the day extra special ❤

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^^ After the beach we had a little farewell pizza party back at Chris’s aunt’s and uncle’s place where we were staying. There were nine kids there, which was pretty much Lotte’s dream come true … especially when Chris took both she and G on the trampoline with the big kids 😉

img_6343^^ Oh man, this family of ours.

And that brings us to the end of our first Australian journey with the girls. It was so beyond what we could have hoped for. Besides Lotte getting sick — which honestly could have been much worse — there were so many amazing moments and memories that we’ll cherish from this time. I know that the girls are probably too young to remember most (all?) of it, but it’s always my hope that the photos I take and these blog posts can help jog whatever part of their memory exists from these journeys. Traveling with kids is hard and stressful and, honestly, usually very expensive. But it’s also amazing and wonderful and eye opening … and I never want to stop. Ever since we got back, Chris and I have been marveling over how much the girls seem to have grown over our time in Australia. Lotte is basically talking in paragraphs, and G is standing and taking steps with her walker. I really and truly believe that travel changes people — even little people — for the better.

And that’s really what it’s all about.

I hope you all had amazing holidays as well, and that you’re off to a great start in the new year.

Bis bald, friends! Cheers to new adventures in 2019!

Kangaroos, Koalas, Cricket & Fish & Chips — aka Our First Two Days in Sydney

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^^ Look at this cute group of family who appeased us by coming to the Koala Park Sanctuary!

Are you keeping up with our Australia adventure so far, friends?! After spending Christmas and New Years Eve in Bathurst, gathering everyone together for some amazing family photos, taking a two-day date sojourn to Mudgee for some wine tasting, lapping the Mount Panorama racecourse, seeing kangaroos in the wild and meeting oh-so-many glorious family members, we were back in the car last Thursday to head to Sydney for our last few days in Australia. Our plans included staying at Chris’s aunt and uncles place (with their three amazing kids, all of whom had, coincidentally, visited us this past summer), and then moving on to his other aunt and uncle’s house, which was a bit closer to the airport and the beaches.

After the three hour drive on Friday from Bathurst to Sydney, we were happy to relax for the remainder of the day and swim in the fam’s amazing pool, while later in the evening Chris & I left the girls with Nan and Chris’s aunt and cousin so a couple of us could go see a cricket match – my first! I also got to see the Olympic Stadium, which was pretty cool, and eat fish and chips, which I am always on board for 😉

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^^ The Australian Olympic Stadium, which was pretty impressive in real life!

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^^ Just about the best, most fun ladies ever to hang with.

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^^ Cricket! Chris’s family spent pretty much the entire game explaining to me how everything works, and by the end I almost understood! (Although don’t quiz me, because I will definitely fail!) Either way, it was really fun to watch the game with everyone, and it was a close game, too, which made it even better.

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^^ And then there were fish and chips 😉 And beer. All the beer. (Actually I had cider, but still, you get the point.)

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The next day it was on to one of my absolutely favorite places in Australia — the Koala Park Sanctuary. Chris and I visited this place with his parents on my first trip to Australia, and I will never, ever forget the feeling of being able to actually touch a koala and feed a kangaroo! Now to be honest, in the nine years since that first visit, the park has gotten a little run down. Everyone was so nice to come with us on our little koala park adventure to see Lotte and Grace with the kangaroos and koalas, but honestly, this is definitely not a spot you’ll find the locals. Still, I say, it’s totally worth it. Of course G was far too young to understand anything, but the look on Lotte’s face was priceless, and I’d like to believe that somewhere in the back of her brain, she’ll remember. Actually, she had a lot of fun feeding the emus with Nan and Poppa, as well, so that was also fun! I had forgotten how many additional animals were at this place (because, koalas! and kangaroos!), so we ended up staying about two hours there.

Time well spent, I’d say.

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^^ The kangaroos weren’t all that interested in being fed the day we showed up, but seeing them this close up was cool enough on its own.

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^^ Feeding the emus with Nan! What did I tell you — look at that face!

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^^ And, of course, the reason we’re all here … to pat the koalas! I think Lotte was somewhere between amused and confused, but whatever it was she was thinking, it was pure adorable to watch.

img_5392img_5393img_5394img_5399 2img_5398 2^^ Absolutely love, love, love this crew, and everything they did for us to make everything on our stay so special.

Not even two full days into our stay in Sydney and we had accomplished quite a bit, including the Koala Park and the cricket game and swimming and playing and oh-so-much fun on top of fun on top of fun. My final post about our epic Aussie trip will be tomorrow, and I’ll share our beach visits and all the final things we did with the fam.

Starting to round up these blog posts is making me actually realize that the trip is over … and how exactly did that happen?! For all the planning and stressing and prepping we do for our vacations, suddenly, just like that, they are over.

Unless, like me, you blog about every last detail and share way too many photos so that you can relive them over and over and over and over again.

Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

Anyway, until next time — bis bald, friends!

A Day for Family Photos, a Sneaky Get Away in Mudgee & Our Final Days in Bathurst

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I mean, could this family be any cuter? The answer is no. No, they could not.

The day after Boxing Day, the Connor Clan headed over to a park in Bathurst to take some professional family photos. Of course waiting for professional photos to arrive really isn’t my thing, so you know I had to snap a couple of my own.

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^^ All these cute Connor grandkids together makes my heart pretty happy ❤

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While there were a bunch of things that Chris and I were excited for when it came to this trip, one of them definitely was taking a night away, just the two of us. Believe it or not, Chris and I had not been away together just the two of us since we had kids, and I have only ever been away from Lotte for one night, and never from Grace.

In other words, some time away was definitely overdo.

So after our family photo day, Chris and I packed up and headed over to Mudgee, which was about two hours from Chris’ parents house. We stayed at the Parklands Resort & Conference Centre and took a wine tour with Country Escape Tours, where we visited three wineries, one distillery and a cheese making company. The town of Mudgee was so cute, and the wine tour was really intimate and fun. Unfortunately we did return to a pretty sick Lotte (the next day after we got back was when we brought her to Urgent Care), but sickness aside, it was really nice to take the time away.

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^^ It’s not so hard leaving your kids when you know they’re in great hands.

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^^ We headed out to Mudgee Brewing Co for dinner the night we were in town. They had live music and we ate outside in their pretty garden and I had a delicious shrimp salad. It was pretty great, friends.

After we returned and took a couple days to get Lotte checked out and feeling better, we spent our last couple of days in Bathurst ringing in the New Year with Chris’s parents and brother and his wife, taking laps around Mount Panorama with the girls and having a picnic in the lovely Cook Park in Orange with Chris’s grandma.

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^^ This is potentially my favorite shot of the entire trip ❤

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And that takes us pretty much through what I think of as the first part of our trip. After Christmas and New Years in Bathurst and Mudgee, we packed up the car and headed back to Sydney to spend our final couple of days in Australia staying at Chris’s aunt’s place, and then his uncle’s, and touring around all the best parts of Sydney, according to us seasoned pros. I’ll take you through our final couple days in two more posts, but until then, bis bald!