Summer Sundays at the Lake

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Ever since we moved into this neighborhood more than a year ago, I’ve wanted to become “lake people”. We live about five minutes from the beautiful Standley Lake, and while you can’t swim in the lake, you can rent kayaks and canoes and paddleboards and boats and take them out. We love to visit the lake as often as we can — we even had Lotte’s first birthday cake there — but we had yet to rent anything and take it out.

Until yesterday.

It was glorious weather here on Sunday — not too hot, just windy enough and sunny — so we tested our luck and parked over near the dog park (it’s free there, otherwise you have to pay $7 to get your car all the way down to the lake area, which would be totally worth it if you were bringing your own gear) and walked through the eagle sanctuary area (we even saw a baby bald eagle!) down to the lake. We chatted with the rangers for a bit before deciding to try out a two-person kayak. Getting a life jacket that would fit Lotte was essential, and the infant one she ended up with was probably a bit small for her (hence the crying and screaming while she was wearing it :/), but it did the job.

We had the best time on the water! (Well, Chris and I did, at least. Lotte wasn’t so happy sitting on my lap, and I attribute it all to the life jacket, because otherwise being out there doing something new, seeing the water and trees and people and ducks, it was all something I think she would have loved!) Anyway, while we didn’t stay out for the full hour we had the kayak ($10 for one hour … what a bargain!), it was still fun to give it a try and I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back. Hey, the more Lotte is in that life jacket the more she’ll have to get used to it … right?!

Happy Monday, friends!

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^^ That’s a baby bald eagle in that tree on the right! We verified with a park ranger … how cool is that?!

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^^ Hahahah! Poor little Lotte :/ You can tell from this pic she wasn’t quite the happiest camper!

Splash Pads, Playgrounds, Ice Cream & Cake at the Lake for Our 1-Year-Old

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Well friends, just like that our little Lotte is one. Chris & I cannot believe it. Just yesterday we were bringing home our six-pound ball of love, and today she’s standing, taking steps, saying words and basically charming us (and amazing us) every single minute. To celebrate our Little’s birthday, my dad, stepmom and stepdad flew out, and we loaded on the activities. We visited the Red Rocks, tried out the Arvada Splash Pad (an A+, by the way!), had lunch in Olde Town and ice cream at Scrumptious, followed at birthday cake (called a Strawberry Charlotte from the La Patisserie Francaise bakery … how could we resist!) and opened lots and lots of presents. On Friday we checked out the Garden of the Gods, and then Saturday was the MS Hike at Keystone. Although it rained the entire event, we still had an amazing time honoring my mom.

The grandparents were all gone by late Sunday morning, but I’m hoping we made memories for everyone that will never fade. I think Lotte had a fabulous week of birthday celebrations (including her birthday shindig in New York last Sunday). I know for my part I’ve loved celebrating this little one and the amazing little girl she’s becoming. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

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^^ Lotte’s an old hat at touring people around Red Rocks. In fact, this was the first-ever place she visited (besides the doctor) after she was born!

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^^ One of Lotte’s favorite games while my Dad was here was pointing at him to get his attention, and it was kind of adorable.

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^^ The group of us squired Lotte around the block in her Radio Flyer, a birthday gift from my aunt and uncle. How fun is that?!

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^^ Facetiming with Aussie Nan & Papa (who couldn’t be here in person, for obvious reasons) on the morning of Lotte’s birthday to open her presents from them was also a highlight!

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^^ This. Smiling. Face!!! Oh, and by the way, it’s true – I am pregnant again 😉 New Baby Connor will be making his or her arrival in mid-December … wahoo!

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^^ Flying high as a one-year-old 😉

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^^ How adorable is the Arvada Splash Pad?! We will absolutely be back here.

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^^ As long as there is a television around to watch, Lotte is happy 😉

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^^ This car from Mommom & Papa was a big hit, as was the play kitchen my sisters and parents chipped in to get her. Everyone hit it out of the park with gifts for this girl!

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^^ My nickname for Lotte is pumpkin (“puntin,” actually, don’t ask me why!), and Chris calls her monkey, so we compromised for her birthday cake. Plus the candles (which we were never able to find a lighter to light … oops!) came all the way from Australia!

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^^ It’s always fun to play with birthday noise makers 😉

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^^ Lotte may have only had a few bites of her cake, but the adults couldn’t get enough. So good!

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Lotte’s birthday was Thursday, and Friday we checked out Garden of the Gods, then on Saturday we headed into the mountains to do the MS Hike at Keystone.

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^^ Lotte’s U.S. grandparents in full force 😉

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^^ This busy bee has had quite the couple of weeks, so she snoozed on the way to the hike to Keystone.

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^^ A little rain couldn’t keep us away!

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^^ This little face. Boy I sure do love her.

I can’t stop thinking about how many people made Lotte’s first birthday so special. From everyone who made last weekend’s party possible to my dad & stepmom & stepdad for coming out this week, it just felt like such a special time for us, and I know Lotte felt so loved.

To be one … it’s a pretty special thing, isn’t it?

Bis bald, friends!

 

A Week of Firsts

Happy Monday, friends. It’s been a bit crazy over here the past few days. We were so excited to have my sister and stepdad in town visiting, although the reason they were visiting — the one-year anniversary of my mom’s passing — was less than a happy one. Still, we managed to make the most of the day, and it was so good to be together (and to have Lotte as a distraction, obviously).

We even took Lotte on her first trip to the zoo while they were here. Lotte also celebrated her first Easter and we checked out a new walking trail, Van Bibber Park. So like I said, it’s been a full couple of days, and I’m coming down from all our visitors and activities, which always makes me a little sad. We have a visit from my other sister, her husband and two boys at the end of the month, though, so that is definitely something to look forward to.

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^^ At my sister’s suggestion, we made Mom’s traditional Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on the morning of her anniversary. I had forgotten how good they actually are 😉

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^^ We lit the fire pit in the backyard on the eve of her anniversary as well, and made smores, something else she also loved to do with us.

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^^ Ready for the zoo! You’ll notice halfway through the zoo pictures that Lotte’s adorable jumper is gone and in its place is a pair of pajamas. I realized once we got to the zoo how she was in the direct sunlight, and I started to freak out about her getting burned, so I changed her into something that would cover her arms and legs as well. Rookie mom mistake!

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^^ Kangaroos!

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^^ It was super fun checking out the zoo for the first time with my sis and stepdad!

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^^ In her Easter best! (How she managed to wear these ears for the couple of pics I got is beyond me, because she absolutely hated them!)

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^^ We walked to Jack’s Coffee shop on Saturday afternoon with this little one for a super early dinner, and she was amazing the entire time. Look at this face.

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^^ Van Bibber park on Sunday was lovely. There is a totally paved path you can follow that is 2.8 miles round-trip, or you can off-road it a bit on some rocky paths, which we did, but nothing is too difficult, and the scenery is really pretty. Plus you come across some really amazing homes, some of which had horses grazing in their backyard. It was just a really nice, easy hike for our Easter Sunday morning.

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^^ If you can’t tell by my 1,000 photos of them, I was kind of obsessed with these creepy-cool trees. Something about them intrigued me …

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Until next time, my friends – bis bald!

Sunday Hikes at Clear Creek Trail

Happy Monday, friends! Our weekend was filled with lots of house stuff (we haven’t been home together in four weekends … it’s amazing how things pile up), tons of Lotte time and a bit of finalizing stuff for our basement, which should, hopefully, be done by the time my sister and stepdad arrive on Tuesday – finally.

Amidst the mayhem, though, we managed to fit in a little hike at Clear Creek Trail near Golden. The Arvada hike entrance is only about 10 minutes from our home, and the loop that we took was totally flat and only about 2.5 miles roundtrip. (Although apparently this trail loops through many different towns and is more than 20 miles, all told.)

It was a really fun little trail to do on a Sunday afternoon, perfect for families. We passed tons of gorgeous lakes, two parks and a lot of picnic areas. Although we did see THREE snakes! If you’re not a snake person — which I am NOT — I might recommend sticking to the paved path above the river.

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^^ I told Chris that this meant the trail we were on was closed and that we needed to go up to the paved part (you could pick between the rocky area near the river, where we were, and a paved path that you would share with cyclers), but he swore it was for the area below.

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^^ As it turned out, I was right. Naturally 😉

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^^ This girl loves a good hike, all snuggled up against dad.

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I hope you guys all had a wonderful weekend. Bis bald!

Life Recently: The Gratitude Edition

Welcome to Friday, friends. My sister and stepdad will be coming into town for a few days next week because, unbelievably, it is already the anniversary of my Mom’s death. One whole year has absolutely flown by, and I can’t believe it. As I prepare myself for that day, I can’t help but realize how many amazing things I have in my life, in stark contrast to the sadness that thinking of this dreaded anniversary brings.

To honor my Mom — and to help cheer things up a bit, at least for the time being — I thought I’d dedicate this Life Recently post to being grateful for all the amazing things I have. There’s a lot I’m thankful for, friends, so sometimes it helps to take a second to remember that …

So without further adieu, I’m grateful for …

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^^ A sister and stepdad who love my daughter (and me, I guess ;)) unconditionally, and who basically will drop everything and fly out to Colorado because that’s where I think we need to be together on the anniversary of my Mom’s passing.

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^^ These two together, all day, every day.

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^^ All the trips we’ve been able to make with Lotte so far … may the ease of travel always remain the same!

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^^ Lotte’s hair in this picture!

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^^ This adorable decorative ladybug, gifted to me (and my sister and stepdad) by my best friend, who knows how ladybugs have come to symbolize my Mom and her continued presence in our lives.

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^^ The Colorado sky.

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^^ Speaking of signs, my Mom has been giving me plenty in these days leading up to my birthday and the anniversary of her passing. The biggest, I think, when when I accidentally clicked on the “credit” folder in my Gmail instead of the “coupons” one, and an email between myself and my Mom — a lovely one, too — showed up at the top. There was no reason for an email from my Mom to have been archived in “credit”, and clicking on it was completely accidental. It was just what I needed on the Friday heading into my birthday weekend. Later in the week the above ad showed up in my Instagram feed. The bottom left elephant journal was something my Mom was able to purchase for Lotte before she died, and I so treasure filling it out for Lotte now. Signs are not something I necessarily thought much about before, but I do have to say, they are everywhere.

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^^ This hat and baby sunglasses, which were both gifts and which Lotte hates, but which I continue to put her in because come on how adorable?!

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^^ This insanely gorgeous tree in our backyard. This is the first April we’ve been here, so we had never seen it in bloom before. It truly is magnificent.

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^^ All the other glorious trees Lotte and I come across on our daily walks.

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^^ And all their glorious details.

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^^ The prairie dogs at Standley Lake, which simply do not care about humans and will not run away from you!

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^^ And Standley Lake views, of course.

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^^ This hygge lamp, which I became obsessed with after reading “The Little Book of Hygge.” Chris bought it for me as a birthday present and installed it in our hallway. I love it … and him, of course.

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^^ A husband who continues to make the most fabulous, personalized birthday wrapping paper for me each and every year. This was only one version of this years’ …the other featured Lotte prominently, of course.

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^^ The beautiful birthday hike we went on to Gem Lake in Estes Park last weekend.

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^^ Old friends and new. After we got home from Estes Park last weekend we had a little barbecue back at our place with two other couples — all four of whom had gone to college with Chris — and their kids. I love Lotte’s cheeky face in this picture, as well as how many pictures we actually had to take to get one decent one.

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^^ Squint really hard and look at the top right of our deck. Can you see the two baby bunnies?! A couple months back Chris and I were pretty sure the main bunny in our yard had picked up a Mrs., and she appeared to be with child, as well. Now we know we were right! (Also repurposing the indoor/outdoor rug from our NYC apartment to use on our back deck … that makes me happy, too ;))

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^^ This awesome tree wallpaper in our basement bathroom — I love the way it looks!

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^^ Friends who buy Lotte the cutest clothes and hats!

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^^ All these goodies, which make it much easier for me to work. (Of course checking on Lotte frequently while she’s “napping” — which she clearly isn’t doing here! — is just good for my soul .. not necessarily my work.)

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^^ And lastly, this little girl, all by her lonesome, day in and day out. I could never have imagined what it would be like to be a mother, but it’s something special. She’s my heart and soul, that’s for sure … even when she’s screaming her head off 😉

Bis bald, friends. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

A Girls’ Week Bonanza

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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.

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^^ 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.

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

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^^ 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.

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

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

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

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

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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.

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^^ 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.

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^^ All alone … and loving it!

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^^ 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!

New Year’s Eve 2016

fullsizerender^^ 2017 is looking infinitely better than 2016 already 😉

Since my wonderful in-laws were still in town for New Year’s Eve (which just happens to also be the anniversary of when Chris and I met, got engaged and got married … it’s kind of a special day for us!), Chris and I took advantage of their babysitting abilities and had a couple mini dates. We headed back to the Arvada Tavern the night before New Year’s Eve (I blogged about our first date at the Arvada Tavern here) with Chris’s two sisters, who treated us to a delicious dinner and drinks. Then on New Year’s Eve we cashed in on my stepmom’s Christmas present to us from last year and took a sushi-making making at Sur La Table (amazingly fun!) and met up with Kate and Sarah for cocktails at Corridor 44 in Larimer Square in Denver.

Then, after trying to have dinner at the new restaurant — The Butchery — in Arvada and finding out the wait was going to be hours, we ended up at Olive Garden instead! And you know what … we certainly didn’t regret it.

Some photos from our New Year’s Eve Eve and New Year’s Eve itself. Hope you guys had an amazing time, as well!

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^^ Cocktails and live jazz music in the upstairs section of the Arvada Tavern before dinner.

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^^ Being an amazing husband, Chris got me some anniversary presents and I got him nothing. Sorry dear — I do love you, though!

img_1993img_1997img_1999-1img_2002-1img_2003img_2009img_2014img_2019img_2068^^ Celebrating a new year with this little bundle … and things are certainly looking peachy 😉