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!

Christmas Down Under

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So much amazing Aussie family goodness in that photo above, am I right?

Our Aussie Christmas Eve and Christmas were filled with good company, good food, and for the first time ever, no rain on my Aussie Christmas day! Seriously, though, this was my third time in Australia for Christmas, and it was the first time it didn’t rain 😉

Rain or no rain, we would have had a great couple of days celebrating Christmas with our family, anyway, We splashed around in the pool (well, Lotte & Chris did, while G and I spectated), cracked open some Christmas Bon Bons, and ate some delicious food.

Christmas was also the first day that Lotte & G got to meet all five of their cousins, which was only the most fun ever. Sophie was born three months before Lotte, and Jasmine was born only one hour after Grace! It sure was great finally getting all seven of these little ones together.

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^^ Grace’s face in this picture cracks me up!

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^^ Christmas morning with Auntie Sarah — is there anything better?

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^^ I may or may not have purchased these Christmas outfits about four months in advance for way too much money. Totally worth it.

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^^ Grace & Jasmine = all the cuteness you can possibly handle

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^^ Lotte was a straight-up celebrity on this trip, and you just know she ate up every second of it!

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An Epic Holiday Trip to Australia

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Man, oh man — do those look like happy faces, or what?!

I can hardly believe I’m about to write these words, but our epic holiday trip to Australia is over.

Sad face times one million, for real.

But, if the above picture (and all the 5,000 that are about to follow) are any indication, you better believe that an amazing, fantastic, wonderful, memorable time was had by all.

I’ll break our trip down into a couple different posts to cover some of the best parts, but I wanted to start off with a little intro post to cover some of the major points that I learned about traveling with two littles all the way across the world:

  1. Prep is great (and important!), but at the end of the day, you can never really know how your travel will go down. For example, I spent a small fortune on snacks and gadgets and toys for the kids, and while yes, we did use some of them, we didn’t end up using probably half of what we brought (clothing included). Still, I say it’s better to be prepared than to be without, and while the girls both ended up being pretty awesome on the incredibly long and taxing flights, I do think that having everything we had helped me relax a bit, since I knew we did all we could to make them comfortable. (P.S. When it comes to products, this Fly Tot inflatable cushion was pretty clutch when it came to Lotte’s comfort, since she is too big for a bassinet and too small to be comfortable just pushing her seat down to sleep. We were able to inflate it and put it between her seat and the back of the seat in front of her so she could put her feet up on it. It also worked well as a spot to hold extra toys.  The LapBaby was also good for G, since we could strap her to our waist and she and we could both have our hands free. Other suggestions I found useful (even if not necessarily for us) were to bring along sugar-free jelly beans for little ones’ ears for take off and landing, as well as Pedialyte powder packs — which, turns out, Lotte doesn’t like much — to keep them drinking and hydrated.) One other thing we found useful with prep was to really hype the airplane aspect up ahead of time. We made sure that Lotte knew we would be getting on an airplane and flying really long and far to see Nan and Poppa, and that we would be eating and sleeping and playing and watching tv … all on an airplane! And I think that helped, because for both flights Lotte kept saying things like, “I’m eating dinner on an airplane!” “I’m taking a nap on an airplane!” I mean, how often in parenting do we get to call something a flat-out win? Like, never, right? So I’ll take this one!
  2. Packing cubes rule the most. Especially if you’ll be traveling with a family, get some multi-colored packing cubes to throw everyone’s stuff in — they will change your life! You can keep everyone’s stuff organized by color cube, and you’ll be able to keep everything organized both in and out of the suitcase, as well.
  3. Do some healthcare research ahead of time. Lotte actually did get sick on this trip — a chest infection that included a fever, which was her first — but we were lucky enough to be with family who knew where to go and we were in a country where we spoke the same language. If we had been in a foreign area or a place where we didn’t speak the language, the situation would have been much more difficult. A quick trip to urgent care (or Australia’s version of urgent care, anyway) and a prescription of antibiotics later, and Lotte was back to her bouncy self in about a day. I’m grateful we were able to get her feeling better so quickly. My advice would be to check out where the closest hospitals and urgent care (or equivalent services) will be where you are traveling, and to be sure you can get across the important information in the language you’ll need to know to make things right. Find out the best way to cover emergencies overseas, as well, since your American healthcare plan likely won’t help you much, there.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No … seriously. At the end of the day, even the frustrating or silly or insane things that happen to you while traveling (within reason, of course) will be the funny stories you tell when you’re back home, or even more likely, they’ll be the things you completely forget. I know for a fact there were stressful times on this trip — how could there not be with a 2.5 and 1-year-old — but right now, I couldn’t really tell you what they were. Keep that in mind when you’re actually going through it, and remember to breath.
  5. No, there is no such thing as too many pictures. Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time documenting our travels through photos rather than sitting with them in the moment. I’ve come to the conclusion that no, there is no such thing as taking too many pictures.

What’s that you say — you’d like some proof? Oh, okay, twist my arm why don’t you?! Here are some shots from our first two days. Yes, these are just from our first two days. Many, many more photos and memories to come, my friends 😉

‘Til tomorrow … bis bald! And happy 2019!
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^^ Pure bliss with Auntie Kate, who will be here in five days and is staying with us for two months! However did we get so lucky?!

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^^ Did I deflate this ‘Welcome to Australia’ balloon and bring it back with us so that I could frame it for the girls as a keepsake of their first trip to Australia? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll never know. (Except that yeah, I definitely did.)

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^^ That Auntie Sarah is some kind of special — she always, always got the smiles out of our girls ❤

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^^ Introducing the girls to Chris’ grandma was most definitely a major highlight of this trip ❤

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^^ There were lots of other family members eager and excited to meet our littles, as well.

img_3496 (1)img_3494^^ On the second day, we threw Lotte in the car and headed off to a place referred to as ‘the tip,’ which is essentially a big ole’ garbage heap where the kangaroos hang out. Gross? Maybe. Amazingly fun and exciting, especially when you watch your 2.5-year-old see her first live kangaroos? Most definitely.

More on our adventures tomorrow, friends!

2018: A Year in Review

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Well friends, somehow — and I’m really not sure how — this photo was taken on New Years Eve ONE YEAR AGO. 2018 is coming to a close, and since we leave for Australia the day after tomorrow, I figured I should put together my Year In Review post before we head out, and then just add Epic Australia, as I will from now on be calling it, once we’re back.

So without further adieu, here is a bit of what we got up to in the year that started with us expanding our little family ….

January
January started out with us getting used to being a family of four, which was made easier by the fact that Chris’ parents were still here helping out, and then my Dad & stepmom, sister and brother-in-law, and a whole slew of friends, all came out to help, as well.

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February
I continued on with my maternity leave in February and celebrated Grace’s first Valentine’s Day with a visit from my bestie.

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March
We finished up our maternity leave visitors in March with a visit from my stepdad, and we checked out the aquarium for the first time.

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Downtown Denver Aquarium

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Arvada, March 2018

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April
April was a big month for us. It was my birthday and the end of my maternity leave, our first big road trip as a family of four (we visited Telluride for the first time!), and Grace’s first plane ride where we went back to New York.

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Telluride, CO

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Telluride, CO
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Telluride, CO

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June & July
June and July continued to be months full of visitors, and we had a blast! First was Auntie Kate, who came to stay with us for about three weeks, followed by Chris’ aunt and uncle and their three kids, and then my stepdad again at the end of the month to help us ring in Lotte’s 2nd birthday with a trip to the Denver Zoo and a Pancake Brunch Birthday Party!

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August
In August we were back out to New York to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday, and along the way we checked out the Statue of Liberty views from Liberty State Park, spent lots of time with family, walked my Mom’s Memorial Trail in Chadwick Lake Park and spent a couple days at a friend’s summer cabin the woods.

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Liberty State Park, New Jersey

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Liberty State Park, New Jersey

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Weeds Orchard, New York

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Chadwick Lake Park, New York

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October
In October we used up the last day of our annual National Park pass with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, we went pumpkin picking at our favorite place amongst the mountains, and we celebrated Chris’ birthday with a trip to Alamosa, Colorado and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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Estes Park, CO

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Estes Park, CO

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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December
And that brings us to December, friends! While our biggest family adventure to date is set to take place this Thursday when we fly to Australia, we’ve been celebrating the holiday season so far with visits from my stepdad and then my dad and stepmom, holiday light viewings at the Denver Zoo and the Botanic Gardens and Chatfield Farms, attending holiday parties, seeing Santa and checking out his village at the Thornton Winterfest. Oh and you know, no big deal, but we also celebrated G’s first birthday … because my baby is officially one.

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And that, as they say, is that, my friends. I’ll see you back here on the flip side of 2018 and the flip side of Australia, but for now, have the very best holiday season filled with all the love and joy.

December Update: We’re back from Australia, and it was every bit as epic as we imagined it would be! I blogged about it here, here, here, here and here.

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Mudgee, Australia
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Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Australia

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Koala Park Sanctuary, Sydney, Australia

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

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Manly Beach, Australia

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Coogee Beach, Australia
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Coogee Beach, Australia

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Bis bald, friends! And cheers to an amazing 2019!

When Grandpa Comes to Visit

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Well friends, amidst all the craziness of finishing up work for the year, prepping for our trip to Australia next week, and our BABY DAUGHTER TURNING ONE ON SUNDAY …. my stepdad made a quick trip out to see us over the weekend, and it was so much fun.

The girls always have the best time with him, and he really does adore them, so it’s very cute to see. We hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light Festival — Lotte has been every year since she’s been born — as well as the Thornton WinterFest — which was new to us but is sure to become a tradition because of how fun it was — attended a neighbor’s holiday party, opened presents, walked to the lake, watched some football, ate some delicious food … and just basically had an all around awesome time.

We hope you guys are really getting into the holiday swing of things, as well!

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^^ This standing lady is ONE on Sunday, and I just cannot believe it!

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I have a big ole’ Aussie prep post coming later this week, because I have spent — ahem — a lot on stuff for the plane so far in order to try and keep our two little ladies happy. We’ll mostly just have to cross our fingers and see how it goes, though, right?

Bis bald, friends! And happy holiday season!

Waiting for Baby

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Merry, happy, holly everything, friends! Well, it’s December 12th, and we’re all about waiting for Baby and making the most of our holiday time as a family of three while we still can over here! It’s been a whirlwind finishing up work and having visitors like my dad and stepdad in town, plus getting our house set up for the holidays, getting all our presents purchased … oh, and getting prepped for our baby, of course.

We’ve been using the past couple weeks to set up the nursery and do as many holiday things with Lotte as possible. We got our tree a couple weekends ago and decorated the house, and my stepdad was here this past weekend to help finish off the nursery and hang with us a bit. It’s been a really great (and somewhat wistful, at least for me!) time, but I feel ready for the next chapter of our lives. I’m so excited to meet Baby No. 2 and to introduce Lotte to her new best friend. Chris’ parents arrive on Wednesday, and we’ll be ready and raring to go!

I hope you guys are all having a great start to the holiday season, as well!

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^^ My discerning little Christmas tree shopper (and my big ole’ belly!).

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^^ Despite the fact that we had to start the ornaments halfway up the tree to keep them away from little hands, I think she looks mighty pretty.

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^^ We love when Grandpa visits!

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^^ At 38 weeks pregnant, I somehow managed to dress up and head out of the house past 7 at night for Chris’ office holiday party. It was nice to get out for a bit, but also very exhausting! We hit up another holiday on Saturday at our friends’ house, too … how fancy are we?!

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^^ I can’t necessarily say I had as much of a vision for Baby Connor No. 2’s nursery as I did for Lotte’s, since a bunch of the furniture in here is recycled and the room was already painted, but in the end I think it all came together nicely and I’m actually super excited for her to be in it!

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^^ Lunch at School House Kitchen in Old Town Arvada. It was our first time here and I was really impressed. The theme is super cute, and the food was great!

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^^ She is not a barrette lover, which pains me to my core!

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^^ Wearing our matching Kate Spade for Keds sneakers out and about on the town! Don’t worry – I got a pair for Baby 2, as well 😉

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^^ Waiting in line to meet Santa … for the second time!

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^^ This time we didn’t even bother trying to have Lotte sit on Santa’s lap by herself (it was way too close to the other weekend when she flipped out when we tried it in Colorado Springs!), so we all sat with Santa as a family. It sort of worked 😉 I look so pregnant here, and Lotte is unimpressed, but hey, what can you do?

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^^ Grandpa couldn’t leave without spoiling both Lotte and Baby 2 for Christmas. He loaded them up with the sweetest clothes and books, as well as gift certificates for flights for all of us back to New York to visit, which of course made me cry. Thank you, Grandpa, your gifts were so thoughtful!

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^^ On Monday night we hit up the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light show as part of a holiday party thrown by our realtor, whom we love. We went last year when Chris’ family was in town and Lotte was only about five months old, and we loved it then, as well. It’s so pretty and festive – the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!

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^^ My loves ❤ No one I enjoy holiday outting with more 😉

Okay, so now the wait for Baby is really on! Wish us luck, and I probably won’t be back until I have a new little cherub faced-photo to share with you all here! Until then … bis bald!

Thanksgiving 2017, and the Start of the Christmas Season

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Welp friends, somehow it has happened — Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are moving on to Christmas and the end of the year … and for this family, we’re gearing up for a brand new baby, as well!

Our Thanksgiving break started out great. My dad came out for a couple days to spend some time with us, we celebrated Thanksgiving over at my cousin’s house with her family, and then we spent the whole weekend (well, until Sunday), doing fun holiday things Lotte, since I’m obsessed with the fact that this will be her last three weeks (!) as an only child. Then, on Sunday, I unfortunately came down with the flu. My dad wasn’t feeling well when he left, and when he got home he found out he had the flu, which I promptly was diagnosed with the next day. Oh boy. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed over here that this goes quickly and that Lotte and Chris don’t get it as well. Please pray with us, friends, because we do not have a lot of time to spare before Baby C No. 2 arrives, and we have a lot to get done before then!

Anyway, let’s go back to remembering the fun times before the sickness descended. Here’s a couple of pics from our Thanksgiving, the Denver Zoo Lights we took Lotte to on Friday, and the gingerbread house we ate in at Wolf Creek Lodge in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

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^^ Lotte, my dad and I took a walk to the lake on Thanksgiving morning while Chris finished off his dishes to bring to my cousin’s for dinner. (Seriously gotta love a man who cooks!) It was in the 70s here on Thanksgiving day … can you believe that?!

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^^ I’ll be honest – this isn’t my favorite picture of me. But Lotte’s little had on my chest and her smile ?? I cannot.

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^^ Lotte fell in love with this art easel over at my cousin’s house. Guess we know what a good gift idea for the near future will be 😉

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^^ We didn’t have all the letters we needed for our message, but we made out pretty well with what we had 😉

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^^ Happy Thanksgiving, from our little family to yours!

My dad left early Friday, and Friday night we bundled up (though not too much, because it was in the upper 50s!) and headed over to the Denver Zoo Lights, which was a lot of fun. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect because technically the exhibit isn’t even open yet — this was just a preview — but it was packed! Still, the lights were so pretty, and we saw a lot of animals, too. Lotte enjoyed it, but I think she’ll especially love it next year when she’s a bit older.

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^^ Chris dressed Lotte like a candy cane to celebrate our first holiday event of the season 😉

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^^ My blurry loves ❤

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^^ Lotte fell in love with the giraffes hard core, and it was kind of adorable. 

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The fun continued on Saturday when we checked out Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs. We played games in the arcade, ate dinner in a life-size gingerbread house (the proceeds of which go to the Ronald McDonald House charities), attended a dance party in the lobby with other kiddos and met (and hated!) Santa Claus. It was so much fun! I guess it’s just lucky that I didn’t start to get really sick until we got home, because I would have been super bummed to have missed any other part of our weekend plans.

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^^ How cute is this life-sized gingerbread house?! You need to make individual reservations to eat inside, and while we definitely felt a little like we were on display (you know, since it was in the middle of the hotel and little kids kept walking in to ask us questions about it!), it still was super fun. You could pick to eat off the menu from one of the hotel restaurants or just do the buffet, and we went with the buffet, which was a lot easier with a little one in tow. 

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^^ Poor Lotte … and poor Santa! He was a good sport, though! I could tell this encounter wasn’t going to be great as I started to hand Lotte over and she gripped onto me like she never has before. Oh well … maybe next year she’ll love him!

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And that was our Thanksgiving holiday bonanza in a nutshell, friends. Now I’m laid up in bed trying desperately to stay on top of work while Chris does the same as we juggle watching Lotte and trying to keep her from getting sick, all while getting ready for second baby to arrive in a few weeks. Life is crazy sometimes friends, am I right?

Bis bald, ya’ll!