Great Sand Dunes National Park For an Epic Birthday Celebration

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Chris & the girls & I got back yesterday from a weekend away in Alamosa, where we stayed at the adorable 40 Winks Inn and visited Great Sand Dunes National Park. We only found out about the Great Sand Dunes over the summer when a cousin of mine was visiting Denver with her family and they went to see them. Chris really wanted to plan a visit for his birthday, and I’m so glad we did. They are the tallest dunes in North America and are surrounded by grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. It’s honestly, truly magnificent. And although Lotte originally referred to them as a “big pile of dirt,” I think she honestly had the most amazing time sandboarding with Chris and just playing in the sand in general. We had the most glorious weather, packed a picnic, and even did a little off-roading afterwards.

Colorado, you are one beautiful state, and you never cease to amaze us.

So, are you ready for lots of photos of sand? Well good, then you won’t be disappointed!

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^^ These ladies were the most amazing travel buddies on the four-hour ride. We were a little nervous about Lotte and the whole potty situation, but she only had one accident, and honestly it was our fault because we should have been paying closer attention. Overall, we were so impressed with these little travel warriors.

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^^ We stopped in Bueno Vista and had sandwiches at Biggies Sub Shop, which turned out to be way delicious and the perfect little half-way pit stop.

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^^ Colorado road trip roadside views = pretty epic.

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^^ Someone was less excited about the views 😉

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^^ How cute was our Airbnb, 40 Winks? And how cute is little Lotte, making herself right at home on her potty! There were two bedrooms in the space, but there was also a Queen bed in the living room around the corner, so it was perfect because Chris and I just slept there and gave each of the girls their own room. It was a great little spot, and only two blocks from Main Street which, while very small, had some nice restaurants and breweries.

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^^ Our Airbnb was made for Insty 😉

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^^ Our first stop after rolling in on Saturday was Square Peg Brewerks on Main Street, where Lotte made the cutest little friend, fell in love with a dog and had the best time playing cornhole.

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I didn’t take any photos there, but we also visited San Luis Valley Brewing afterwards for drinks and dinner, which was super tasty.

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^^ Sunday was the big day. After renting a sandboard and a sandsled from Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, we headed to the Dunes, which was about a half hour from Alamosa. Our first stop was the visitor center, which small enough to not feel totally intimidating but had all the info you could possibly want about how the Dunes form (the Medano Creek brings the sand down, and the wind blows it back up … in a nutshell).

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^^ This studmuffin carried the sandboard, sandsled and our 2-year-old in her hiking backpack up the mountain of sand. I had G strapped to me and I was huffing and puffing. We only went to the closest dune before plunking down and having Chris take Lotte on some sled rides, but still, it was enough for me to know that anything further would have been really, really hard to do. One note about the sandboarding – Chris didn’t love it. I guess he was hoping it would be somewhat similar to snowboarding … but it’s not. Oh well, lesson learned, and at least he tried.

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^^ Epic and amazing.

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^^ G slept during most of our Dunes adventure, but she did wake up in just enough time for some adorable pictures.

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^^ We weren’t exactly sure how Lotte would take to sand sledding (she doesn’t necessarily love getting dirty) … but she loved it! Every time they got to the bottom she’d squeal, “More, again!” And even though she had dirt flying into her face, eyes and mouth the entire ride, she always enjoyed it. I was actually quite proud of my gal.

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^^ Sand babies ❤

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^^ The dirt on Lotte’s face in this pic gets me every time!

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^^ It didn’t hurt that it was the height of fall for our trip, meaning the trees had all turned glorious shades of yellow.

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After a full day at the Sand Dunes, we headed back to our place and chilled for the rest of the night, made dinner and let the girls rest. It was really the perfect first day at the Dunes, and I hope we get back some time soon.

Monday was Chris’s actual birthday, but we had to pack up and head back to Arvada … but not before stopping in Buena Vista again, but this time at Eddyline Restaurant on South Maine, which turned out to be so adorable and picturesque.

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^^ These two ❤

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^^ More roadside Colorado craziness. Chris actually took this picture from the car while I was driving, which I’d say is pretty impressive.

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^^ Heading into Eddyline … how cute is this little neighborhood?!

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^^ Not a bad lunch view.

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^^ This one, too ❤

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And that was our trip, friends! For a place that we never knew existed before a few months ago, it was pretty amazing how beautiful it was and how much fun we had. Plus, you just know we love ticking National Parks off our bucket list! This was Lotte’s fourth National Park (Yosemite, Sequoia and Rocky Mountain being the other three), and G’s second, so we hope to keep up the tradition with them and tick some more off the ole’ list soon.

And also, how are we almost in November already?! In other travel news, we booked our trip to Australia for Christmas last weekend, and we even have a couple hours of a layover in Vancouver on our way out, which Chris is very excited about. I’m a little nervous about the flight, I can’t lie, but here’s hoping everything goes smoothly … or as smoothly as it possible can with a 2.5 and 1-year-old … right?!

Bis bald, friends!

Pumpkin Picking Is Better In the Mountains

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I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with that amazing view, right? Yesterday the girls and I said farewell to Chris as he headed off to Chicago to run the marathon on Sunday. He’s already run the Chicago Marathon before, but this will be his first marathon where I won’t be in attendance. Wah wahhh. In all honesty, I tried to find a flight that would get me (and probably G) in for the day to surprise him and to watch, but nothing got me there early enough because, if you didn’t already know, my man is fast 😉 Anyway, I’m sure he’ll have a nice weekend away with running buddies while the girls and I bond and hold down the fort back at home.

Before Chris left, though, we hit up our favorite pumpkin picking spot, Rock Creek Farm. It was Grace’s first pumpkin picking experience, but this was Lotte’s third visit, the first of which took place when her Nannan and Papa were here from Australia and she was not yet three months old. We really do love this little family tradition we’ve created.  Here are some photos from our pumpkin adventures …
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^^ You can’t win ’em all, right?! Seriously though, this photo cracks me up! Particularly G, who is looking like she’s very much over the tantrum her sister is throwing.

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^^ Ugh with these two cuties … it’s too much!

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^^ And of course, the aftermath back at home 😉 Plus some additional little pumpkins and gourds we let Lotte pick up that we placed inside. Oh fall, I love you so.

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Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone has fun weekend plans!

Fall Sundays in the Mountains

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Fall is in the air, my friends, and we are absolutely THRILLED. I’m about to admit something that many know about me, but some might find offensive … I am no lover of summer. The heat. The humidity. The bugs. Blech. No thank you!

But fall? Fall, my friends, I can get on board with. And fall in the mountains? Well that’s just plain magic.

So this past Sunday we packed up the babes and hit the road to head to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Chris and I had been once before, but never with the kids. We purchased an annual national park pass on our trip to Sequoia and Yosemite last year, and this was our last chance to use it. Unfortunately the parking lot to the hike we wanted to do was full, so they were turning people away, but we managed to find another glorious walk and a nice little spot for our lunch.

We also stopped off at Estes Park —which is about 20 minutes away from RMNP— on the way, in an effort to avoid an upchuck from our carsick-prone toddler :/ Luckily, it worked! Lotte has been carsick twice now, and while it’s sometimes hard to tell if she’s actually not feeling well or is just sick of sitting in her car seat, we figure it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Here are some beauties from our Sunday adventures. Happy fall, ya’ll!

IMG_8963^^ Lake Estes Marina was the perfect pit stop to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

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^^ This delightful human being just loves finding things on the ground to show us. Rocks. Leaves. Animal poop. Everything is fair game.

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^^ We finally made it into Rocky Mountain National Park! Worth the wait …

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^^ Any excuse to snuggle with my babe ❤

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^^ We tried to keep Lotte distracted on the car ride by telling her how much fun we were going to have in the mountains. Like, “We’re going to the mountains!!” It worked, because she kept pointing all around on our hike and saying, “It’s a mountain!” I love two-year-olds, and in particular, this one.

IMG_9044IMG_9045IMG_9046IMG_9047IMG_9048IMG_9049IMG_9050IMG_9051IMG_9062IMG_9071^^ These horses actually live on the street next to ours. Chris thought it was funny that I was so obsessed with them, but I just thought the whole scene was so beautiful and I couldn’t help but think where do we live?!

And that was it, my friends. It was a really fun Sunday with our little fam of four. October is a very busy month for us with Chris running the Chicago marathon next weekend and his birthday trip near the end of the month. Festive fall fun all around!

Bis bald, friends!

Ticking Things Off Little Lotte’s Bucket List

Happy Tuesday, friends! The above video is of my little Weary Wanderer, about to explore her world. We just got back from a trip East for a whole bunch of fun reasons. We celebrated my sister’s 30th birthday (only a month early, no big deal), visited with my Grandma, saw all the cousins, and of course, ticked one big thing off Lotte’s bucket list – seeing the Statue of Liberty in person. 

I don’t know how it started, really, other than the fact that Lotte has about five New York City books, but she has really become obsessed with the Statue of Liberty, and it’s the most adorable thing ever. So, when we flew into Newark, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. It was a really fun time for us, and Lotte was so in awe. It’s definitely something Chris and I will never forget.

The rest of the weekend was amazing, as well. We spent two days at a mountain house that a friend of ours was renting near Woodstock, and Lotte had an amazing time playing in the pool and running around with my friend’s daughter, and Grace had the best time playing with her son, who is one month younger. We also visited a whole bunch of new locations (like Weeds Orchard and Brown Barn Farms) and on Sunday, we met up with Robert for breakfast at Chadwick Lake Park before hiking a trail near the lake that was built and dedicated to my Mom by an Eagle Scout neighbor of hers. They had been close and he was so upset when she passed, that this was something he wanted to do for her. The trail was beautiful, and being there with the girls meant so much to me. I’m glad this place will be there to be able to take the girls for years to come.

Here’s a bit of what our trip looked like …

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^^ Lots of photos even before we left airport, because that’s what a one-hour delay will do to you.

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^^ And there she is, in all her glory! Lotte literally whispered “Statue of Liberty!” when she first saw her … she was so blown away. We spent about two hours at the park, which is so amazing, and let the girls run around and get some energy out before heading on over to my sister’s.

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After spending the night at Steph’s on Wednesday, we headed to Woodstock to hang with Carla and her daughter and son at their summer house. It was so much fun to spend time with them, playing in the pool, barbecuing, drinking and chatting.

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^^ This moment where we spotted a frog in the grass and let Lotte hold it was pretty special to me, too. The extent of her knowledge about frogs up to that point had been seeing them in books and knowing that they say, “ribbit, ribbit.” To watch her see and touch one in real life was a super fun moment.

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^^ This crew ❤

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^^ Linus and Grace were having a little love affair with each other all weekend long, and it was kind of the cutest.

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^^ Brown Barn Farms was the cutest little spot! The drinks were good, the view was glorious, and the food truck served up some tasty dinner, too.

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^^ Heading out to Aunt Stephie’s early birthday party at Weeds Orchard with the fam.

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^^ On Sunday morning we met Robert at Chadwick Lake Park to have a quick breakfast and then head over to the trail that was built in my Mom’s memory. It was a great day.

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^^ This is such a crazy picture for me. So this tree is a part of a larger tree that used to live near my old elementary school, Balmville School, and this was the Balmville Tree. It was the oldest tree in the U.S., and when it started to rot, they decided to preserve parts of it and put it in Chadwick Lake Park as a memorial. I hadn’t seen it in this spot before, though, and to see my daughter standing in a tree that is so synonymous with my childhood, it was a little surreal.

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^^ Love, love, love this crew ❤

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^^ And later in the day it was back to my sister’s to meet up with my Grandma and have a little barbecue before we headed out super early on Monday morning.

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And that was our trip in a nutshell. It went by super fast and was jam packed, but the girls had a really great time, I think, and I loved spending that quality time with all the people we were able to see. Trips back east are always busy, but they’re also always amazing, and being able to bring my girls along for the ride … it really means so much to me.

The plane ride back home was not our best, since both girls were entirely exhausted and yet not interested in sleeping (Grace napped for about 20 minutes and Lotte not at all), but we pulled out the big guns with all the toys and books and snacks and “TV School Bus” (aka videos), and we made it through.

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And just like that, we were back in good ole’ Denver. And also just like that, it’s almost September?! How in the how did that happen? I do love Fall, though, and we have our big Australia trip to look forward to, so big, good, fun things ahead, my friends.

I hope you all have had wonderful summers, and until the next time … bis bald!

Two.

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Well my friends, Chris and I officially have a 2 year old, and my mind is officially blown. How that happened, I have no idea. But Lotte is 2, and she’s wonderful. We spent the entire weekend celebrating with ‘Grandpoppa’ Robert, who flew in for basically 48 hours so he could be with Lotte. We went to the zoo, had lots and lots and lots of sweets, Lotte had her first swim lesson, and we threw a Happy Bee-Day Pancake Brunch Birthday Party on Sunday, which was super sweet and very fun.

There is so much that I could say about this sweet, smart, funny, charming, amazing daughter of mine, but what I really think sums it up is that every day with her is better and more amazing than the last, which I never think is possible. We love you more than anything, Lotte — three cheers to you ❤

Here’s a photo dump of our birthday celebrations! Bis bald, friends!

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Dinosaurs, Kayaks, Baseball, Glaciers … and all the Aussie Guests!

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Happy July, friends! Our summer of insanity is still in full swing over here! We’ve had guests upon guests upon guests … and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Over the July 4th holiday we welcomed Chris’ aunt and uncle and their three kids from Australia, while the fabulous Auntie Kate was still on the tail end of her trip out, as well. We did all the things while this troop was here, which has been a lot of fun. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately …

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^^ We checked out Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison on what turned out to be a very, very hot day. It’s a bit of an uphill trek to reach the dinosaur footprints, but once you get there it’s actually really, really cool. There are tons of geological stops along the way, too.

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^^ I’m sorry, but Colorado backdrops are hard to beat.

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^^ We rented some kayaks on Lake Standley behind our house the second day after the family arrived. We did this last year with Lotte, too, and even though she still wasn’t too sure about the life jacket situation, this year she seemed to enjoy the overall activity much more!

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^^ We even took in a baseball game with the Aussie clan, and while the kids seemed to enjoy the game, it was mostly the junk food that kept them in the seats, I’d say 😉

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^^ Nothing more American than baseball and Coors Light!

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^^The day before July 4th we drove into the mountains to do the hike up to St. Mary’s Glacier. I was skeptical how the kids would handle it—especially 6-year-old Lucy—but they were all champs, which was great because this view is truly spectacular.

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^^ Our family selfie game needs improvement 😉

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^^ Ugh Auntie Kate, why did you leave us?!

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^^  By July 4th we were all pretty tuckered out. So we dressed up … and hung out! We played games, ate delicious food (including my homemade American Flag brownie, see below!), listened/watched the fireworks, and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.

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^^ American Flag brownie, courtesy of one of my favorite food bloggers 😉

We still have one of Chris’ friends in town until tomorrow, and then we’re done with visitors for a little while, which always makes me a bit sad. We do have Lotte’s 2nd birthday at the end of July to look forward to (which also makes me sad!), our trip to New York in August, Chicago in October and the grand finale of the year … Australia in December/January! Chris and I are still contemplating a separate mini-trip, just the two of us, to New Zealand while we’re in Australia. That extra adventure is TBD, but for now, there’s a lot more to look forward to, even though we’re halfway through the year already!

Hope you guys are having a great summer, as well! Until next time … bis bald!

Welcome Summer! (And a Whole Slew of Photos)

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Happy Tuesday, friends! It’s been a hot sec since I’ve blogged, mostly because we’ve been super busy (in the best possible way) with a visit from Chris’ sister. Yes friends, Auntie Kate is here from Australia, and our girls could. not. be. happier. Our summer so far has consisted of birthday parties, breweries, new adventures (like yoga at Red Rocks!), and a brand spankin’ new deck. Kate is here through July 5, and Chris’ aunt, uncle, and their three kids are joining us for the week of July 4, as well. It’s just about the best way to kick off the summer that I can think of.

Hope everyone else is living their best life, as well 😉

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^^ Aussie treats from Aunt Kate included all the Snakes Alive treats that were in Australia ❤ Girl knows the way to my heart!

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^^ We attended a joint birthday party for our little neighbors the first Saturday Kate was here. It was at The Craftsman & Apprentice in Denver, which meant the kids got to run around and create all kinds of arts and crafts.

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^^ Grace participated, too!

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^^ Grace’s first Father’s Day ❤

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^^ Celebrating Dad’s Day with some drinks at Westminster Brewing Co.

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^^ This little one has fallen head over heels in love with her Auntie Kate. I don’t know how we’re going to let her leave …

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^^ Not only did Auntie Kate come with all the Aussie treats, but she also came with all the Aussie clothes. Here, Grace & Lotte are modeling their new Bonds pjs by rolling around on the ground together.

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^^ We took Auntie Kate to the Denver Children’s Museum last Friday and Lotte had so much fun showing her all her favorite things – including this bubble room, which is always the biggest hit.

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^^ Kate treated me to a session of Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks. I was nervous since the extent of my yoga experience was the class Steph’s friend taught for our Mom’s fundraiser back in April, but this was so much fun!

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^^ Auntie Kate joined us for Lotte’s gym class last Saturday, too. She’s pretty much the best sport ever.

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^^ We’re testing out some books for Parents magazine like we did last year, and this year is so much fun because Lotte is actually into books now. This picture has got to be one of my faves ever.

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^^ And this one …

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^^ And this one!

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^^ This past Sunday would have been my mom’s birthday, so Kate & Chris took the girls to Chautauqua Park in Boulder so I could have some time to myself. They only got a short way into the hike before it started raining, unfortunately, but it still seems like they had a lot of fun.

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^^ This past Sunday we christened our brand new deck with our first barbecue with my cousin and her husband and kids. It’s always fun hanging with that crew, but to host our first guests on our brand new back deck made it even more special.

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And that has been our summer in a nutshell so far, my friends! We have the rest of our guests to look forward to in July (as well as Lotte’s 2nd birthday, which I can’t talk about …), and another trip back east in August. Other than that, you’ll find us on the back deck if you need us ❤

Bis bald, friends!