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.

Estes Park, Colorado — The Place Where Birthday Dreams Come True

I will provide you with fair warning my friends — I’m about to overload you with baby and beautiful scenery photos. If that happens to be the kind of thing you enjoy (ahem, who doesn’t?!), then please keep reading.

As I mentioned yesterday, this past weekend was my birthday, and Chris planned a weekend getaway to Estes Park for our little fam. We stayed at this Airbnb, which was two blocks from the Lake Estes walking path, about a four-minute drive from our hike at Gem Lake on Saturday and an easy walk into town, too. There was a cute little kitchenette which was perfect for our beer-stocking, baby food-making needs, and they had games and puzzles and the perfect Wi-Fi password. (It had something to do with going outside, but Chris says I shouldn’t give the actual password … fair enough.)

We had take-out from Thai Kitchen  on Friday night (delish), made a lunch to bring with us on our hike Saturday and had Mexican for dinner Saturday night at Ed’s Cantina & Grill.  The food was fantastic, and the town — which we walked through on Saturday evening after our hike — was really cute, but really what you come to Estes Park for are the awe-inspiring views. We had planned to do two hikes on Saturday, but the Gem Lake trail ended up taking us about four hours total, because we took the long way back and it had snowed the day before, so it was a bit icy in patches, which meant we went super slow with the little one in tow. Chris was carrying her in the Ergo, so I was really glad that he rented spikes for our shoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop, which we had never used before but which I thoroughly believe I’ll be using for every hike from here on out … they are so helpful!

Anyway, the Gem Lake hike was definitely difficult in parts (check out the All Trails info on it here), but it was absolutely worth it.

Here’s a bit from our weekend getaway ….

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^^ A bit blurry, but OMG I love this pic 😉

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^^ A fridge full of Michelob Ultra … that’s my kind of birthday celebration!

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^^ Lotte was very excited to help dad set out the puzzle pieces for a puzzle that we never actually did. Turns out when your 8-month-old goes to bed at 7 p.m. and you’re sharing the same room, there’s not much you can do but watch Parks & Rec repeats on your iPad in the dark, which, as anyone who knows me at all will know, was totally fine by me.

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^^ This is definitely a photo of some of my favorite things, but I actually took a picture of it because last year I was pregnant with Lotte and couldn’t have beer or soft cheeses. My how things change in 12 months.

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^^ Traveling with a baby is, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of fun, but there is something to be said about having to be on baby’s schedule. It actually turned out that it was better we had to wait for Lotte to wake up from her morning nap before heading out, because it warmed up nicely before we hit the trail.

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^^ Chris is frequently annoyed with my trail mix eating habits, which include picking out all of the M&Ms and leaving pretty much everything else behind. This time he decided to hedge his bets and set up a make-your-own-trail-mix bar, that way I could put in as many M&Ms (and as few peanuts, yuck!) as I wanted!

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^^ Hiking shoe spikes! So dorky … and so worth it!

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^^ And so the trail begins! It was about 3.3 miles round-trip, but we took the Twin Owls loop back, which added an extra 1/2 mile or so.

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^^ These two 😉 My loves.

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^^ Rocky Mountain National Park usually costs $20 for a day pass to enter, but this trail technically takes you through sections of the park … for free!

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^^ We seriously could not get enough of these views!

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^^ The higher we got, the snowier it got. Thank goodness we had our hiking shoe spikes! That was $16 well spent.

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^^ Just before you hit Gem Lake you’re blessed with this gorgeous view. I would have been happy with just this alone, but then …

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^^ You get to the lake, and it’s simply spectacular.

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^^ These icicles are gorgeous, but I really love the blurry Chris & Lotte in the background.

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^^ We hiked around a bit and ate our sandwiches on the other side of the lake, then started to make our way down. I swear it had been a bit cloudy and chilly on our hike up, but as soon as we reached the lake the clouds cleared and the sun was shining. It was stunning.

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^^ This little muffin even fell asleep on the way back down – why not, all comfy, cozy snuggled on dad!?

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^^ Checking out the Twin Owls View Trail on the way back was definitely worth the extra .5 miles!

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After our hike we took a brief rest back at our Airbnb before heading out on the walk into town. The River Walk is super cute, and you pass by a bunch of fun shops and restaurants to browse.

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^^ This sign on our walk had me cracking up. I mean I guess aggressive elk isn’t something to laugh about, but it certainly seemed funny to me!

_DSC7606On Sunday — my actual birthday 😉 — we planned to get up and get breakfast in town, then check out the downtown area a bit more, but Lotte had other ideas. Namely, she was super grumpy and just wanted to go home, which was fair enough because we’ve kept her pretty busy over these past couple weeks. We did manage to stop by the Estes Park sign on our way out and snap a photo though:

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Thanks for an amazing time, Estes Park, and thank you for being so close to our home. We will definitely be back.

Bis bald, friends!

Birthday Celebrations in the Mountains

Hi friends,

Well we certainly got lucky with the weather this weekend. I turned 34 yesterday (Yikes? Or not? I haven’t really decided yet … ), and we spent the weekend in Estes Park to celebrate. Despite the fact that it’s only a little over an hour away, we had yet to really explore Estes Park and everything it has to offer, but now that we have I’m sure we’ll be back. The hikes are glorious, the town is adorable, and it’s right next to Rocky Mountain National Park, as well, so there’s no end to the number of outdoor things you can do. I’ll need a day or two to download my photos and write up a post, but I wanted to share the above pic we took yesterday on our way home. This was my first birthday as a mom, and my first birthday without my own mom. So many feelings. But having my own little family with me to celebrate was certainly lovely, and Chris did such a good job making me feel special. I’m very lucky, that I know.

Happy April, friends – I hope your spring started with some sunshine.

From New York to Philly to Virginia & Back — a Trip East With My Little

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^^ The most amazing turnout — with the most amazing group of women — for the MS fundraiser in honor of my Mom.

Heya friends,

So we’re back from our monster trip east, and Lotte & I had an amazing time. We saw so much family and so many friends, we covered miles & miles & miles in the car together (one of these days I’ll have to actually sit down and see how many miles we really drove), Lotte saw her first monuments in D.C., she spent tons of quality time with her Philly cousins, she was the hit of the MS fundraiser my sister & I held in honor of Mom at Wine & Design in Warwick, she attended her great-grandma and great-aunt’s 95th birthday party … and oh-so-many more important and amazing things.

Before we actually had Lotte, we weren’t exactly sure how much traveling we’d do with her. Traveling with kids is hard and at times very stressful, and let’s be honest, it’s not like she’s making lasting memories here. But you know what … we are. And I’ve come to realize as Lotte grows and goes through babyhood that that is just as important. These trips we take with her are some of my fondest memories, and I will never forget them. (Neither, luckily, will she, since I take extensive notes to put in her baby travel diary — complete with pictures! — and of course she’ll always have this blog to refer to, as well.)

The point is – yes, traveling with kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but so far, I am never sorry for the trips we’ve done with Lotte, and I only hope that continues.

Here’s a look at what we got up to over the past 10 days in photos. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another BIG shout-out to my husband for flying out and surprising us last Friday to be there for my Mom’s fundraiser, my Grandma’s 95th birthday party and, of course, to help on the flight back home with Lotte. Funny how four hands are so much better than two when it comes to flying with Littles 😉

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^^ All prepped and ready for our first solo flight as Mom & baby! In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky Chris & I got with Lotte. She’s a pretty solid, amazing little traveler, so things might be a tad different is she were more difficult …

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^^ We don’t have a dog at home, so Lotte’s only real interaction with them so far has been at my stepdad’s house with Ranger. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Ranger would react to Lotte at first — he can be a bit of a loose cannon — but especially in his older age, he tolerates her quite nicely, which is nice, because she is obsessed!

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^^ Quick pit stop at Aunt Steph’s & Uncle Brian’s on Saturday to pick them up on our way into Pennsylvania for Rory’s 4th birthday party.

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^^ These two together = major cuteness! Peyton, on the right, is actually three months younger than Lotte, but she’s almost the same size. It’s really only when she gets with other babies that I’m reminded of what a tiny nugget Lotte is!

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^^ Dad’s fancy omelette bar on Sunday morning.

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^^ Jude!

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^^ Rory seriously loves Lotte, and it’s pretty much the sweetest.

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^^ Cuddles with my babe on our first day in Arlington, Virginia, to visit Lisa. I think I honestly was just so relieved the car ride from Pennsylvania went well!

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^^ This bear was pretty amazing to use as a backdrop in many-a-Lotte photo!

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^^ Driving into D.C. to take in the sites — don’t let this innocent face fool you, she screamed the entire way in and the entire way out! Those two car rides — which must have amounted to about 20 minutes total — and the one back to Newark airport to head home were the only ones she fussed (or should I say threw a tantrum) for. I guess that was … lucky?!

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^^ Patriotic Baby.

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^^ In front of the Reflecting Pool … not impressed!

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^^ At the World War II Memorial … not impressed!

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^^ Heading to the Lincoln Memorial … not impressed!

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^^ At the Washington Monument … not impressed!

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^^ Visiting good ole’ Abe … not impressed!

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^^ I mean … you get it. Lotte was not impressed! But it was a gorgeous day, and I hadn’t been back to these places myself in many, many years, so overall it was a pretty fun day!

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^^ Tuckered out from all her touristing. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby??

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^^ We were back in the car on Wednesday and back with Rory and Jude in no time (well, in about three hours, to be exact).

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^^ I particularly love this photo from our trip. I took this after I opened up the back door of the car after our ride from PA back to New York (our FOURTH long car ride, mind you), and Lotte was just chillin’ in her car seat, giving me the BIGGEST smile when she saw me. Oh Lotte … how I love you.

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^^ Deep conversations back at Aunt Stephie’s house.

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^^ When your husband surprises you and flies to New York for the weekend and you can breathe because you finally have full-time help again. Single parents … I have never had more respect for you than I do after this trip! Oh and Lisa also got into town this day, too, so it was almost more than my little heart could handle, all my lovies surrounding me 😉

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^^ Delicious crinkle cookies Lisa made for the MS fundraiser.

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^^ Making sangria for the party!

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^^ I seriously love this photo of Lisa, after we picked up balloons for the party.

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^^ Lotte was a tad grumps during the fundraiser — girlfriend deserved to be! — even when seeing her future boyfriend Miles again.

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^^ Between the paint & sip fundraiser and online donations, we raised more than $2,000 for MS research. Speechless. And oh-so thankful.

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^^ After the fundraiser it was on to my Grandma and Great-Aunt Vicki’s 95th birthday party, which my aunt did a fabulous job setting up.

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^^ Ugh these two cuties!!!! Can you imagine knowing — and liking! — someone for 95 years?!

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^^ Lotte frequently gets this look on her face when she’s around her Great-Grams. I can’t help but feel like she honestly understands what this woman means to our family, and to her.

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^^ Kisses after a little speech I made. I love my Aunt Vicki wasting no time before she downs her Prosecco!

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^^ Not pictured: Aunt Stephie cracking Lotte up by blowing into a party noisemaker. It. Was. Amazing.

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^^ As if that weren’t enough partying for you, everyone surprised me with an early birthday cake back at Steph’s house that night. Sigh. The love.

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^^ Headed to the airport on Sunday.

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^^ These two.

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^^ So many toys to keep her occupied, and all she wanted to do was play with the free airplane cracker packet. 

IMG_8113IMG_8122^^ Home. That makes six plane rides for this little 8-month-old.

And those were the highlights, my friends. Usually trips like these tend to feel like a whirlwind (I feel like I use that word a lot when describing my trips!), but this one actually didn’t. Sure it was busy and hectic and hard at times, but overall I felt really good about everything we did, and so happy about everyone we got to see. It was a trip I’d repeat over and over again, with my Little by my side.

Bis bald, friends! Till next time …

We’re Home From Our Trip Back East!

 

Well friends, Lotte & I are home from our epic trip back east, and while it will likely take me at least a couple of days to go through all my photos, here’s just the slightest of tastes of what we got up to:

1. Lotte attended her first birthday party — it was for my nephew Rory’s 4th.
2. We traveled in the car a lot! Trips included from NY to PA, from PA to VA, back from VA to PA and finally from PA back to NY … not to mention to and from Newark Airport ;).
3. Lotte took her first trip into D.C.! We visited quite a few sites with Lisa (see above photo), but I’ll have more on that later.
4. CHRIS SURPRISED ME AND FLEW BACK TO NEW YORK ON FRIDAY TO HELP ME OUT WITH LOTTE & ATTEND THE BELOW EVENTS!!! If that’s not an awesome husband, I just don’t know what is.
5. My sister and I hosted an MS fundraiser this past Saturday in honor of our Mom, and it was awesome. We raised over $2,000 in total, and I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time and our Mom would have been (is) proud.
6. After the MS fundraiser we went to celebrate my Grandma and her twin’s 95th birthday … how utterly amazing is that?!

I’m sure there is more I’m forgetting, but hopefully going through all my photos will jog my memory. For now, check out my one photo from the sad cherry blossoms in D.C. (a recent frost killed them all!), and a pic of Lotte checking out our landing back in Denver. That girl loves herself an airplane landing ❤

Bis bald friends! And happy Spring!

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