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!

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.

A Girls’ Week Bonanza

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Chris has been in Australia this past week for his brother’s wedding, so to keep us company (and help me out!), my darling friend Lisa flew in from D.C. to have a girls’ week with myself and Lotte.

We. Had. So. Much. Fun.

Not only did she help me immensely by being here, but she also surprised me with an early birthday celebration — complete with strawberry shortcake, carrot cake cupcakes, presents and adorable decorations (she made a shirt for Lotte!) — since we were together.

One of my highest hopes in life for Lotte is that she finds friends like Lisa. They are invaluable.

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^^ Among the many reasons that I love when Lisa comes to visit are the millions of photos that she takes of Lotte and of Lotte & me. Since I am usually the one behind the camera in our everyday life, it’s nice to have these memories.

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

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^^ Lisa did most of the cooking while she was here (because again, she’s a doll), but I did make this homemade hummus dip for us, which is something I used to make back when we lived in NYC. Sigh. Memories.

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

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

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

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

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^^ We checked out Majestic View Park (which also has a nature center) while Lisa was here, which is something I’ve been meaning to do. I’m so glad we did, because although it was the windiest day ever, it was still beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back.

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^^ We also took a walk over near the eagle habitat side of Standley Lake which, if you’ll recall, I had visited last year when my stepdad was in town and I was still pregnant.

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^^ After Lisa left on Saturday I took Lotte to the Arvada Library for Family Time, and we were the only ones there! We stayed for Baby Time, too, and there was only one other baby. (He didn’t enjoy Baby Time as much as Lotte did, I don’t think :/) Anyway, it was only so-so. There is a library much closer that has the same types of activities, but we’ve always missed them because of Lotte’s naps. I’m hoping we’ll be able to try out a Baby or Family Time at the Standley Lake Library some day soon.

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^^ All alone … and loving it!

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^^ Lisa sent me this compilation of Lotte photos after she left. Seriously. She’s the best ever. I can’t say it enough.

And that was our little girls’ week in a nutshell, friends. The week after this one Lotte and I are jetting off to the east coast (my first flight solo with the babe … yikes!) for some events. I’m looking forward to it, but it’ll be nice to have Chris home and to have our little family together for a couple days, as well.

Bis bald, friends!

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!