This Beautiful, Magical Place They Call Yosemite …

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Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see — Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods — were closed because of the ongoing fire.

Guess that just means we’ll have to come back 😉

The views:

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^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.

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^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.

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^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo — that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job — she even sang to us at one point — and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
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^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.

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^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get 😉

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^^ Ergo napping baby!

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^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!

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^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves 😉 We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.

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^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!

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Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.

Bis bald, friends!

Amongst the Towering Sequoia Trees

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Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.

Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?

Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!

So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!

Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.

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^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉

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^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!

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^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …

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And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.

On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!

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!

Final Summer Weekends in the Mountains

IMG_5804Hi friends,

I know, I know – there are still weeks left in summer, but to me, everything is already changing. The kids are back in school here. It’s chilly in the mornings. There’s lots of talk of snowboarding and skiing. I don’t know – it’s been a good summer, but I’m actually ready for the fall.

Late summer/early fall is one of my favorite times to visit the mountains, and we spent a lovely couple of days this past weekend in Beaver Creek and Frisco. We got a great deal to stay at the amazing Beaver Creek Lodge on Travelzoo, so we packed up the car and headed out. Even though we didn’t arrive until around 11 on Saturday, we packed it in. We checked out and had lunch (and gelato, of course) in the village, took a hike, Lotte & Chris swam in the pool (which they had all to themselves and Lotte was obsessed with!) and we went out to dinner. It was a really great day.

On Sunday we stopped at the Frisco Marina Park on our way home, took a little walk and grabbed lunch in town at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe. All-in-all it was a great way to spend a weekend. Hope you guys had a good one, too, and are gearing up for some fun Labor Day plans! We’ll be getting ready for our trip to California next week (San Francisco, Sequoia and Yosemite! We’re so excited!), so it’ll be all packing and cleaning for us here. (Although we may try to at least take in the local parade.)

Have a great week, friends!

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^^ My sister got Lotte this onesie before she was even born, and it’s by far the outfit she’s worn the most in her life!

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^^ The ice skating rink behind this statue was closed during the day, but they actually opened it up at night when we came back for dinner. If I weren’t almost six month preggers I would have been all over that!

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^^ Gelato — yum! We had sandwiches and dessert at Rimini Chocolate and Gelato in the town square, which were all delicious, if not very overpriced!

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^^ While I’m sure Chris would have enjoyed a hike with more oomph, the 5 Senses Trail was just perfect for me in my current state 😉 It was also really cute for kids, with signs along the way about our five senses and how they relate to the wilderness.

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^^ Always trying to get a good family shot with the self timer …

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^^ And always failing!

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^^ It’s mountain bike season, can you tell?!

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^^ There were at least two weddings going on this weekend that we saw. Can you imagine a prettier backdrop?

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^^ My little fam ❤

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^^ The pool!!!!! This was actually Lotte’s first pool experience, and since she loves, loves, loves bath time, we assumed she’d love the pool, too. We. Were. Right! She was obsessed! She kept kicking her legs and moving all around – it was the cutest thing. Swim lessons, here we come!

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^^ All gussied up for dinner at Dusty Boot. (My shrimp tacos were seriously delicious, and we even ordered Lotte her own little salmon from the kids’ menu. Sigh. She’s getting so big.)

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^^ Frisco Marina Park!

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^^ And finishing up our trip with lunch (breakfast, actually) at Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe in the cute little town.

We sure do love you, mountains. Luckily my friend Lisa is coming to visit the first week in October and we’ve booked a quick night away in Vail, just the two of us, so I’ll back!

Bis bald, friends! And happy last week of August!

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 in New York

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Happy Tuesday, friends!

Lotte and I just flew back yesterday from our quick trip to New York, and as much as we missed dad (sorry Chris!), we had so much fun. Lotte had a ton of firsts (first trip to the beach! first first birthday party!), we celebrated my Uncle’s retirement, we met my sister and bro-in-law’s new puppy, and just pretty much rocked out on our trip together.

Don’t get me wrong … traveling alone with a little one is super hard. The flight? Hard. Doing everything yourself for five days straight? Hard. Ummm … major shout-out to all the single parents out there who do that every. single. day. I honestly am in awe of you.

On that note, I want to publicly thank the staff at Delta for being amazing on our flight out to New York. When the woman giving me bag tags for Lotte’s car seat and stroller saw that I was booked in a middle seat, she moved us so we had a full aisle all to ourselves.

What luxury!

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On the flight, the flight attendants were so super helpful and sweet. They held Lotte for me while I went to the bathroom, gave me free food from the menu you’re supposed to pay for, and were so supportive when I walked her up and down the aisle for about 20 minutes until she fell asleep (for about 40 minutes :/). All-in-all, it was the best flight I’ve had with her so far, and this was Lotte’s fifth time flying. Thanks again, Delta!

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s what we got up to!

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^^ Lotte loved Linus, my sister and Brian’s new pup. He was pretty good with her, too, even though you could tell they both were a little confused about who (and what) exactly the other was 😉

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^^ On Friday my sister took off from work (thanks sis!) and we headed to Rye Beach, which was Lotte’s first beach experience. I would definitely recommend this beach, especially to people with kids. It was clean and had plenty of bathrooms, the water was super calm and it’s near an amusement park as well, if that’s your thing. It does cost a bit to go ($15 to park and $10/person for admittance), but if you stay long enough it’s definitely worth it. At first Lotte wasn’t so sure about the water and kept holding her feet up when I tried to put them in, but she got the hang of it and really loved hanging out under the umbrella. Carla and Fiona met us there and we actually got a good couple of hours out of the babes. I was pretty impressed!

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^^ Saturday was my Uncle’s retirement party, which was a really fun time. They had it at Limoncello’s Restaurant, which always has good food, and we danced and ate cupcakes and had a merry, jolly good time!

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^^ Every single time my grandmother and Lotte get to see each other it’s pretty much my favorite time ever.

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^^ On Sunday Steph and Brian hosted a first birthday bash for little Lotte at their house! We had about 15 people and got lots of delicious food, and my sister ordered the most adorable cakes you’ve ever seen in your entire life. We had a swing and a little pool for the kiddies, and Lotte got some amazing presents. She’s one lucky gal, my daughter is!

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^^ I ordered the sandwiches from Hannaford’s, and we were pleasantly surprised with how tasty and sizable they were. Would definitely recommend!

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^^ My sister’s hydrangea bush is insane, so she brought some inside to decorate. How pretty are these?!

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^^ Lotte sure does love a good splash around!

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^^ These three ❤

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^^ Look at this cake! This was Lotte’s “smash” cake, which she was meant to just smash her hands into. At first she wasn’t so sure what to do with it, but once I gave her a taste of frosting with my finger, it was all I could do to stop her from eating the whole thing.

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^^ And these bunnies, which are actually made of cupcakes, were the cutest! Our theme was “Some Bunny Is One,” and Steph smashed is out of the park with her surprise birthday cakes. Love you little sis!

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^^ Facetiming Dad (who couldn’t take time off work for this particular trip) while we sang happy birthday!

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^^ Success!

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^^ Loves everything about it.

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^^ Gift opening wasn’t necessarily Lotte’s favorite part of the party, but it was (one of) mine! Look at this adorable doll my sis and Brian picked up for Steph while they were on their honeymoon in Italy! The. Stinkin’. Cutest. Now I just have to hide it from her so she can’t actually play with it.

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^^ The greatest family who made Lotte’s first first birthday party oh-so-special. I can’t thank you guys enough!

Lotte’s actual birthday is this Thursday, so my dad and stepmom are arriving tonight and my stepdad tomorrow, and we’re basically just going to have a week of Lotte fun time. Because you only turn one once, right?

Bis bald!