Celebrating a Birthday With a Short Fort Collins Retreat

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Happy Monday, friends! Yesterday was Chris’ (ahem) 34th birthday … happy birthday, love! So in one of our favorite long-standing traditions, we went out of town for the weekend. While we were originally thinking of Telluride, driving that far meant Chris and I would both have to take a couple days off work, and at almost 8 months preggs, I can barely go 20 minutes without needing to pee, so something closer felt more realistic and do-able. We finally settled on Fort Collins, which is only about an hour away, but still felt like a nice getaway all the same.

(As you might recall, Chris’ birthday trip last year was our first trip to Steamboat Springs—now one of our fave places — as well as our first trip as a family of three. How fitting that this year’s birthday trip for Chris was likely our last trip as a family of three, since Brand New Baby C will be gracing us with her presence in mid-December!)

Anyway, back to Fort Collins. My good friend’s sister lives there, so I hit her up for recommendations, and she definitely came through for us. On Friday night we checked into our hotel (note: There are so many cute Airbnb places to stay on Fort Collins, but unfortunately I booked too late and they were either all sold out or ridiculously expensive, so we ended up just staying at a Best Western. It was fine for location and the free brekkie, but next time we’ll hope to plan ahead and stay at an Airbnb.) and then headed over to the Jessup Farm Artisan Village.  It’s a super cute little outdoor area with a bunch of shops and restaurants and a brewery. We checked out the Jessup Farm Barrel House for drinks (for Chris, not me) before dinner, then had dinner at The Farmhouse. The Barrel House was a lot of fun and had a festive atmosphere with games to play outside, and dinner at The Farmhouse was tasty, but the inside was all booked out with reservations and a big party, so we had to eat outside which was slightly chilly. Note to self: next time you want to eat here, make reservations ahead of time!

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^^ This pretzel was every bit as delicious as it looks here. The one thing I’ll also note here is how friendly everyone in Fort Collins was. Twice we sat down at a table and had people join, and they were so lovely and nice and easy to talk to.

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^^ She kept this hat on for all of two seconds, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying to get her to keep it on all throughout dinner!

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On Saturday we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and jumped in the car for the 20 minute ride out to the Shoreline Trail to Horsetooth Reservoir. (It’s worth noting that there is a $7 fee to get into the park.) Colleen had noted that she did the hike earlier in the year with another pregnant friend (since I mentioned we were looking for something super easy, since I’m super slow these days!), and she was right that it was fairly flat, with only a modest incline for a short amount of the hike. Plus, the overall trail is less than 1.5 miles long, anyway, and it’s so scenic and beautiful, especially on a lovely fall day like we had.

It’s also worth noting that the drive out there took us along the Reservoir Ridge Trail as well, which was another hike Colleen had recommended and which was pretty even to drive along.

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After the hike I was craving cupcakes (yes, even after a 1.4-mile hike, so sue me!) so we headed into the downtown area to walk around and stop in at The Little Bird Bakeshop, where I actually didn’t end up getting cupcakes at all but did get a hot chocolate and a pumpkin whoppie pie and chocolate chip/macadamia nut bread to share.

After our little downtown break we hit up some breweries for Chris. First up was his new favorite haunt, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, which was super low-key and relaxing. (Well maybe not relaxing, per se. Is anything relaxing when you’re doing it with a toddler?!) Anyway, we loved it there so much we went back on Sunday. After H&D we met some of Chris’ friends over at New Belgium brewery, which was a whole crazy experience and like a world all by itself. A lot of people like New Belgium these days, and the popularity showed at the brewery, because it. was. bumpin’! Seriously – so crazy busy and crowded, and definitely not what we’re used to when it comes to breweries. Still, it was fun to see it and say we went, even if we never end up going back 😉

After that Lotte was getting a tad antsy, so we headed back to the hotel and ended up having take-out dinner from the steak restaurant right next to the hotel, Charco Broiler. Chris ordered his traditional birthday steak dinner, but by this point I was pretty full from all my snacking throughout the day, so I went with a veggie cobb salad. Lotte had spaghetti and proceeded to make as much of a mess as you properly can in a hotel room.

Oops 😉

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^^ Chillin’ with dad after a full day of fun!

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On Sunday (Chris’ birthday!) we tried to have breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Cafe, but judging from the line out the door it would have taken forever to get seated. So we headed back into town and to the Silver Grill Cafe, which still had a bit of a wait but was totally worth it for their legendary cinnamon buns, which do not disappoint!

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^^ Blood Mary’s for the birthday boy, of course!

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^^ See what I mean? Ah-mazing.

After breakfast we decided to check out the trails at the Environmental Learning Center which, while serene and idyllic, were not exactly stroller friendly :/ Oh well, lesson learned! Lotte had fallen asleep in the car on the ride over, so it wasn’t worth waking her up and the birthday boy has muscles of steel anyway, so he could handle it 😉

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^^ And yes, we did head back to Horse & Dragon after our walk to try to recreate the family photo we took at a brewery on Chris’ birthday last year and to grab one last beer for the birthday boy.

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^^ Family selfie success!

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^^ And one of just this face, because … come on ❤

And that was it. Happy, happy birthday to the man who makes the most amazing father, husband and friend that a gal could ask for. We sure do love you, Chris ❤

Bis bald, friends!

One Day in San Francisco

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Happy Thursday, friends! Chris and Lotte and I are back from our trip to California, and can I just say that we really do have the most amazing little traveler ever. Lotte was so chill on this trip, which included staying in multiple different places overnight and driving for hours between destinations. She barely complained at all … except for the flight home. Luckily that was only two hours, and by then she more than deserved to complain.

Anyway, our kid is totally awesome, but back to the trip 😉 We flew into San Francisco around 8 p.m. on Thursday of last week and stayed with one of my oldest friends in her sweet apartment in Nob Hill. Seriously though, we couldn’t have asked for a better location to stay for our two night, one day visit, because we were within walking distance to pretty much everything, and the cable car (which I do believe was Lotte’s favorite part of the entire trip) runs right past her place.

With only one full day to see everything we wanted to see, we couldn’t waste a ton of time, but even with our jam packed schedule I didn’t feel like we did too much or pushed Lotte too hard. Needless to say, however, we would love to go back and see more!

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^^ Chris got fancy on this trip and rented us a Jaguar to drive around California. I actually didn’t drive it at all — because Chris was nice enough to take on that burden for the entirety of  the trip — but it sure was fun to ride shotgun in!

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^^ Look at these two — could they be any cuter?! This is right outside of Mina’s apartment before we started our day on Friday. I snapped this shot before Lotte became fascinated with the cable car going by, a fascination that lasted through the trip.

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^^ Our first stop was a walk to Lombard Street (which we returned to later with the Jag to drive down!), which was so beautiful. There’s a great view of the water and Alcatraz from here, and the blooms all the way up the road are gorgeous.

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^^ From Lombard Street we walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 to check out the sea lions.

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^^ After lunch at The Buena Vista Cafe (well-known for their Irish coffees, which of course I couldn’t have, but Chris and Mina did) we bought tickets for a ride on the cable car which, as I mentioned earlier, was definitely Lotte’s favorite part of our entire trip. We sat in a seat looking out onto the street and she just smiled and kicked her legs and squealed the whole time. It was absolutely the cutest thing.

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^^ Look at this happy little cable car rider!

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^^ After a short rest and change back at Mina’s place, we headed back out to check out the Golden Gate Bridge (or so we thought) and to grab dinner. (We ended up at the newly opened MAC’D, where you build your own macaroni and cheese dinner by picking from different menu options. I put shrimp on mine, and Lotte was a big fan.)  On the way we passed by the Palace of Fine Arts and hopped out for a quick photo, because how gorgeous is it here?

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^^ Sadly, Karl the Fog was in full force Friday night when we stopped down by the bridge, so we couldn’t get a complete view. Still, what we did get to see was pretty!

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After a full day of touring we headed back to Mina’s to get ready to leave early the next morning for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. While I was looking forward to seeing the sequoias (more on exactly why in my next post), I was really sad to leave Mina. We had a great time visiting San Francisco, even for the short time we were there, and it was even better to have had Mina there to be our tour guide. I can’t wait to get back and do some more exploring (and maybe, just maybe, get a better shot of that bridge?!).

And that was our San Francisco trip in a nutshell, friends. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with Sequoia!

Bis bald!

South Park, Fairplay & Twin Lakes … Oh My!

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Happy Monday, friends, and happy almost July 4th! Chris & Lotte & I spent this past weekend in Fairplay, Colorado, so that we could hike the Interlaken trail around the Twin Lakes Reservoir (all of which is located along part of The Colorado Trail). We stayed at A Riverside Inn, which was about an hour away from the trail, but the hotel was located in the cute little town of Fairplay, which also happens to be part of the larger area known as South Park. South Park is an old mining town that has been wonderfully preserved, and although we didn’t get to go into the South Park City Museum (which is the coolest open air museum that you can glance at from the outside), we did walk around the town a bit on Sunday before we left.

This trip was full of good food, beautiful views and a baby who stole everyone’s hearts. (You know I had to sneak that in there.) Seriously though, Lotte was great, even if it was just a little difficult to get her to fall asleep in the hotel room both Friday and Saturday nights. (Sorry, nearby room guests :/)

Anyway, here’s a bit of what we saw …

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^^ We rolled into town around 4 p.m. on Friday and stopped off at Prather’s Market to pick up some goodies for our hike the following day, then had dinner at South Park Brewing, both of which were within walking distance of our hotel. The brewery was really nice — pretty large inside and definitely catering to family and kids, as you can tell from this table of toys that Lotte was quite taken with! The menu was Mexican, which you know I could get on board with (my tofu burrito was delish!), and although the prices were maybe a tad on the high side, we had a really good time here.

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^^ See what I mean … yum!

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^^ The next day we packed up and hit the road. I ended up picking Fairplay as our home base for a couple different reasons. For starters, it was only about an hour from our home, so essentially halfway between our house and the hike. I also thought Fairplay/South Park looked interesting to check out, the price was on the cheaper side of what was available in the area and they offered breakfast, a plus since we were trying to leave early Saturday for the hike. To get from Fairplay to the hike (located in Leadville) we drove through Buena Vista, which was another really cute looking town that was only about 20 minutes from the hike. This is probably a place we’ll check out at some point, but for the purposes of this trip, I still say Fairplay was the right place to stay.

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^^ Gettin’ hike ready!

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^^ So here’s the part where I admit that we tacked on an additional two miles (grrrr) to our already 5-mile long hike when we started off in the wrong direction :/ It was so frustrating, because we had even specifically asked another woman who was starting off the hike at the same time as us. She said yes, this was the Twin Lakes Trail, but failed to mention that you needed to veer off to the right at a small stake in the ground in order to get on it. Otherwise you would be stuck on an alternate, albeit beautiful, trail that was mostly traversed by mountain bikers. Oh friends … you live and you learn, right.

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^^ Heading off on the wrong trail.

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^^ Still the wrong trail.

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^^ Wrong way guys, turn back!

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^^ Oooohh … pretty. But still, the wrong trail. We got here when Chris (thankfully!) checked the map and saw we were headed the wrong way. I was NOT a happy camper, to put it lightly.

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^^ THIS SIGN! We failed to see THIS SIGN! Look for it, friends!

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^^ Once we were finally on the right trail, though, it made all the difference.

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^^ As you near the old 1800s Interlaken Hotel (which is approximately 2.5 miles into the hike and where we would be turning back around), you pass through a gorgeous aspen grove and the hike gets thick with lush trees and a small river. It’s really lovely.

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^^ Unfortunately my photos of the resort came out blurry (bright sun made it very hard to see what I was actually taking pictures of this day), but you can read all about it here. There are about a dozen old buildings on the property, most with signs to explain what they are. We sat on the porch of one of the buildings and had our lunch, taking in the view of the lake (and Mt. Elbert — the highest peak in Colorado!) in the background.

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^^ So dark, but otherwise I love this photo!

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^^ See, I was on the trip, too!

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^^ Thank you to the lovely couple who offered to take our photo for us. And see that first peak pretty much directly above my head. That’s Mt. Elbert 😉

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^^ You could climb to the top of a small observatory in one of the old buildings, which was somewhat claustrophobic, but still fun!

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^^ Heading back Lotte fell asleep for a bit in Chris’ arms. Simply the best ❤

And so I come to the end of my hiking photos, friends. All Trails calls this hike moderate, and while there were some ups and downs and it certainly is on the longer side, when compared with the easy (All Trails called it easy … I do NOT!) St. Mary’s Glacier hike we did on Thursday, this was a piece of cake! (Even considering the extra two miles we tacked on!) So put it on your bucket list, friends, because it’s a Colorado site worth seeing!

Anyway, we ended up back in Fairplay probably around 3:30ish, and we all took short naps and showered, then headed back out for dinner. We decided to check out Mason’s High Country BBQ this time (I had checked ahead of time and they did have a veggie sandwich option), and we were not disappointed! This tiny little hole in the wall was so fun and the food was so tasty, it was a highlight in Fairplay, for sure.

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^^ My veggie sandwich, which was onion, tomato, pepper and cole slaw, with a side of potato salad. Yum!

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^^ And Chris’ double-meat concoction, which he says was also delish. 

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^^ As I mentioned earlier, the next morning we got to check out South Park a little bit. The town can be walked in about 15 minutes, but the shops are so cute and eclectic (although most were closed early Sunday when we took our stroll), so it’s definitely worth checking out.

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^^ Breakfast on Sunday was at the Java Moose, where the breakfast sandwiches and Lattes were divine.

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^^ The South Park City sign is the entrance to the open air South Park Museum I mentioned earlier. It didn’t open until 10 a.m. and was $20 per person, so we didn’t actually go in (although I read rave reviews), but even seeing it from the outside was cool.

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^^ Chris and I were debating whether or not the people who actually live in South Park love or hate the fact that a crass tv show has the same name. (Of course the portrayal of South Park in the show is nothing like the actual South Park in real life.) I think the answer is a little bit of both. And of course it’s only natural to try to capitalize on the fame somewhat … why not?!

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^^ I sure do love this happy traveler.

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And that was the end of our trip, my friends. I hope you guys are all having a great holiday so far and have fun things planned for the 4th. Until next time … bis bald!

 

Thursdays at St. Mary’s Glacier

IMG_2846Happy holiday weekend Friday, friends! I hope everyone is either already enjoying the long weekend, or has super fun plans to start doing so immediately.

Over in our neck of the woods, Chris is starting a new job next week, so he has a couple of days off and we have lots of fun stuff planned, starting with the hike we took to St. Mary’s Glacier yesterday. Mind you, the trail is only 1.4 miles (that’s to the lake and back, but you can continue the hike past the lake, which we did for a bit), and it’s labeled as easy on All Trails … but I call shenanigans! Listen, I’m no ninny when it comes to hikes, and we’ve done our fair share since we’ve moved to Colorado, but this was not easy. The altitude (you’re at 10,848 feet at the base of the glacier) probably has something to do with it, but the steady incline and slippery rocks don’t help, either. Now is it worth it? Spectacularly yes! The views are amazing and if your breath isn’t already taken away by your hike to reach it (which it likely will be), the lake and glacier will certainly do the trick. We had thrown Lotte in the Ergo and brought her with us, of course, but there were definitely times, especially on the descent, when I questioned how safe the whole thing actually was with a baby.

Chris, of course, felt perfectly safe the entire time. What can I say, it’s my momness kicking in.

Anyway, if you can push on through the altitude and rocky climb (if I can, you can!), here’s some of what you’ll be blessed with:

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^^ She looks so excited for another adventure, doesn’t she 😉

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^^ I mean look at that sky?! Have you ever seen anything so blue and clear?

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^^ After about 10 minutes of trying for a family photo with the self timer on my actual camera, we gave up and settled for this one with my iPhone. Not a bad runner up!

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^^ Lotte’s hat in this picture … it makes me so happy!

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^^ Dangerous indeed. In fact, the whole time we were taking a short rest and snack break at the lake before heading back, a team of about five or six rescue workers were trying to figure out how to get a snowboarder down who had injured himself up on the glacier. Yes, snowboarding is allowed on the glacier, but of course it’s entirely dangerous. Hence the injury.

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^^ So excited to get out of the Ergo, onto the ground and into some snacks!

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^^ See those two tiny little snowboarder flecks in the white snow and ice? Crazy!

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^^ After the hike — which probably took us about two hours all told, including our break — we stopped off in Idaho Springs on the way back for lunch at Tommyknocker Brewery. By this time Lotte had only taken about 30 minutes of a nap all day, and she had barely had anything to eat (snack was much less exciting than staring at everything going on around her at the lake … between that and trying to eat dirt, who had time for snack?!). Still, you couldn’t tell from her sweet little ‘tude. She’s simply the best.

And that was our Thursday, friends. Our Fourth of July weekend is off to a smashing start. We’re off tomorrow to stay in Fairplay Colorado so we’ll be close to our hike at Twin Lakes on Saturday. I hope my legs feel rested by then!

Until then … bis bald, friends!

Spontaneous Trips Back North Are the Best

This past weekend was so. much. fun. My stepdad — in all his loveliness — decided last-minute to treat my little family of three to a trip back to New York for my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday bash at Warwick Winery. It was really great because my dad and Judy and Jen and all her fam were also there, along with my aunt and uncle and cousin Nicole, plus a ton of Brian’s family. The weather was gorgeous and the kids had a blast. It really was the loveliest. Then on Sunday we surprised my grandma at dinner at my aunt’s. She didn’t know we were coming into town, so that was pretty much the best 😉 Watching her with my daughter … I mean there’s pretty much nothing I love more.

Here’s some of our weekend in photos. Thanks again for the awesome gifted trip, Robert!

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^^ Weather over LaGuardia kept us in the air for an extra hour on our flight into New York, but at least we got these views of the city …

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^^ This ladybug neck pillow was a gift to Lotte from Grandpa, but Mom & Dad like using it, too 😉

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^^ This little lady never falls asleep on me anymore, but on both flights she fell asleep on us because she was just too exhausted to do anything else. It’s pretty much the best.

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^^ Hesitantly curious about Ranger the first night home.

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^^ Bedtime book routine!

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^^ Happy birthday Uncle Bri!

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^^ There’s a huge private house up the hill from the winery, and apparently the owners have a private helicopter, because it was parked outside their property and Rory was fascinated by it!

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^^ And thus begins a photo series of my daughter wearing a backwards baseball hat.

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^^ Gah! Sometimes (most times) we seriously cannot with her.

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^^ The gang’s all here!

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^^ Dressed to the nines to surprise GiGi at Sunday dinner.

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^^ These two ❤

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^^ By the time dinner rolled around Sunday night, Lotte was pretty sure she and Ranger were besties.

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^^ Final morning with Grandpa before heading back to Colorado :/

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^^ Ready to fly!

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^^ Not gonna lie, it took a lot to get to this photo. This was by far the hardest flight we’ve had with Lotte. She’s older now, so she’s not as interested in sleeping/breastfeeding/hanging out on our knee. Despite tons of snacks and toys and books, there just isn’t enough to distract a 10-month-old in four hours of flying. She had a seriously major freak-out when she reached her peak tiredness and didn’t know what to do with herself, but as soon as the seatbelt sign went out Chris was able to walk around with her and she passed out in his arms. Thank goodness! Then of course he passed out 😉 Two sleeping babes.

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^^ Blurry, but we were home and happy! Wahoo!

Thanks again for the trip, Grandpa — it meant so much to us to be able to come and be with everyone.

Till next time, bis bald!

President’s Day Weekend in Steamboat Springs, CO

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Even the ride to Steamboat Springs is amazing, friends.

This past weekend Chris, Lotte and I packed up the car and headed over the mountains to meet family in this beautiful mountain town, which will always hold a special place in my heart because it was, if you’ll recall, Lotte’s first-ever trip as an almost-3-month-old. It was also our first trip together as a family of three. (Blogged about here.)

Sigh. Time flies.

Anyway, we had a really amazing time, and Lotte got to meet family she’s never met before and the weather was gorgeous and it was all just really, really lovely.

Here’s some of our weekend, in photos.

But actually … before I get to that … can I do a shout out, yet again, to our amazing daughter, who continues to be the best little travel companion ever. Seriously, we could not have asked for a more chill baby. She’s simply the best.

Okay, now here are some photos 😉

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^^ The cutest kids on the slopes, bar none.

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^^ This little snow bunny and her absolute enthusiasm for everything. Some days I cannot even stand her (in a good way!).

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^^ Lotte’s first gondola ride!

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^^ We ate in both nights we were there, which was nice, but before heading home on Sunday we stopped off at T Bar for a drink, which was the cutest little dive bar on the side of the slope.

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And that was our President’s Day weekend Steamboat adventure, friends – hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Bis bald!

A Weekend Getaway in Breckenridge With Friends

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Hey friends,

Happy Monday! Things are in full swing over at the Connor house today! Our new nanny who was supposed to start today never showed up (grrr), but our basement remodel has begun (I’m so excited!) and it’s my grandmother and her twin’s 95th birthday, so we’ll be facetiming with them later to send some love.

Meanwhile, we spent the weekend in Breckenridge with my old college roommate, her husband and their one year old, plus my friend’s mom, who was a little angel and watched the babes for us while we snowboarded/skied on Sunday. How lovely is that?

And what a gorgeous day we had! It honestly was the perfect weather for a day out on the slopes. Here’s our weekend in photos, friends.

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^^ We stopped at Breckenridge Brewery on our way into town for lunch and Lotte was, as usual, perfect 😉

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^^ My friend found the place we stayed at, so I can’t take any credit for that, but it was perfect — right on Main St. and about a 10 min walk to a gear rental place/one of the lifts. I would highly recommend The Loft at Ruby Jane for a group of friends wanting a weekend in Breck.

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^^ These two together are just too cute for words.

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^^ See what I mean?!

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^^ I didn’t have the best day snowboarding (aka I fell A LOT), but it was still super fun and so nice to be outside in such beautiful weather. And I did more runs than I’ve ever done in my life so, you know, go me 😉

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^^ I love this picture. I wanted a photo of all four of us at the top of the mountain so badly, but I could not stand backwards on my board if someone paid me to, so I ended up holding on to Ryan for dear life, while Chris could barely get himself in the shot. Oh well, we tried!

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^^ And this one of Ryan and Carla would have been so gorgeous … if Chris weren’t sitting right smack in the middle of it, totally oblivious 😉 I guess the lesson is, snowboard on the mountain — don’t try to take perfect pictures.

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^^ Of course I kept trying anyway.

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^^ Our loft was right above this store right on the adorable Main Street in town.

We’re off to Steamboat next weekend to hang with some family that’s in town, too. I’m glad we’re making it to the mountains a bit this season, even with our little baby. It’s super fun bringing her places, and she really is a good traveler. Shout out to you, little Lotte, for being so totally awesome.

Bis bald, friends!