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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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!

Celebrating a First Birthday & Seeing All the Christmas Lights

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Somehow, and don’t ask me how, our daughter is one.

This little light has been with us for a full year now, and there is no way that I can even imagine or remember what life was like without her. She is tenacious and spunky and funny and silly and smart and rambunctious and curious … and just totally amazing.

G’s birthday on Sunday rounded out a week of celebrations, starting with Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms on Thursday, my dad and stepmom coming into town Friday and hitting up the Denver Zoo Lights, then celebrating G’s birthday on Saturday with my dad and Judy before the left early on Sunday, as well as alllllll day Sunday with presents and cake and general merriment.

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^^ I was fully unsure of how meeting Santa would go down for G, since she is not a fan at all of Santa when she seems him on Lotte’s cartoon, but we ended up getting this sort of fascinated reaction, which was beyond adorable. Lotte, on the other hand, was giddy with excitement while we waited in line, then got very shy when it came time to actually chat with him. Both reactions were priceless.

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^^ We had never been to the Chatfield Farms branch fo the Botanic Gardens, but the 40 minute drive was totally worth it, because the whole event was spectacular. From lights and Santa to reindeer and hot chocolate and cookies and carolers – it was a great way to celebrate the holiday season!

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My dad and Judy arrived early Friday and the girls was so excited to spend some time with them. We planned to hit up the Denver Zoo Lights Friday night, and I was a little worried because it can get crazy packed and be very cold, but here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on that we have discovered about events like this — pick the earliest time slot available, especially on a weeknight, if possible, and go then. We went at 5:30, which was the first time available, and we got an amazing parking spot and it wasn’t crowded at all. Plus, the weather was fairly mild, so it all worked out well!

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Chris was very busy Saturday cooking all day for his Baby G. We had a pancake party in the morning, a quiche for lunch, and for dinner he made spaghetti and meatballs (G’s first time trying them both), as well as an adorable giraffe cake for dessert.

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^^ I mean … how cute is this cake?!

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^^ Walks by the lake are pretty much mandatory when people come to visit us, as well 😉

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^^ These naked babes sure did love their spaghetti and meatball dinner … and especially the cake!

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^^ Setting up G’s presents (and also Lotte & G’s Christmas presents, to be fair) for her to come down to in the morning was so much fun. We did this for Lotte for her first birthday as well, and it’s absolutely become one of my favorite traditions.

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^^ The girls work up late Sunday and so my dad and Judy didn’t get to see them open their presents. They held a photo of the girls over the presents to prove they were at least here in spirit.

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^^ You sure are loved, Baby G.

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^^ I hope this spunky little lady of ours never loses her amazing energy and zest for life. You’re one of a kind, G, and we wouldn’t have it any other way ❤

So Thursday it’s off to Australia! I’m hoping to get a post together before we head out about all the stuff we’re bringing with us that we hope will help with the littles on the plane. If I don’t get to it before we leave, though, I’ll definitely put one up after, including whether or not the things we hoped would work actually did work. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Bis bald, friends!

Pumpkin Picking Is Better In the Mountains

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I mean, it’s pretty hard to argue with that amazing view, right? Yesterday the girls and I said farewell to Chris as he headed off to Chicago to run the marathon on Sunday. He’s already run the Chicago Marathon before, but this will be his first marathon where I won’t be in attendance. Wah wahhh. In all honesty, I tried to find a flight that would get me (and probably G) in for the day to surprise him and to watch, but nothing got me there early enough because, if you didn’t already know, my man is fast 😉 Anyway, I’m sure he’ll have a nice weekend away with running buddies while the girls and I bond and hold down the fort back at home.

Before Chris left, though, we hit up our favorite pumpkin picking spot, Rock Creek Farm. It was Grace’s first pumpkin picking experience, but this was Lotte’s third visit, the first of which took place when her Nannan and Papa were here from Australia and she was not yet three months old. We really do love this little family tradition we’ve created.  Here are some photos from our pumpkin adventures …
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^^ You can’t win ’em all, right?! Seriously though, this photo cracks me up! Particularly G, who is looking like she’s very much over the tantrum her sister is throwing.

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^^ Ugh with these two cuties … it’s too much!

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^^ And of course, the aftermath back at home 😉 Plus some additional little pumpkins and gourds we let Lotte pick up that we placed inside. Oh fall, I love you so.

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Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone has fun weekend plans!

Fall Sundays in the Mountains

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Fall is in the air, my friends, and we are absolutely THRILLED. I’m about to admit something that many know about me, but some might find offensive … I am no lover of summer. The heat. The humidity. The bugs. Blech. No thank you!

But fall? Fall, my friends, I can get on board with. And fall in the mountains? Well that’s just plain magic.

So this past Sunday we packed up the babes and hit the road to head to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Chris and I had been once before, but never with the kids. We purchased an annual national park pass on our trip to Sequoia and Yosemite last year, and this was our last chance to use it. Unfortunately the parking lot to the hike we wanted to do was full, so they were turning people away, but we managed to find another glorious walk and a nice little spot for our lunch.

We also stopped off at Estes Park —which is about 20 minutes away from RMNP— on the way, in an effort to avoid an upchuck from our carsick-prone toddler :/ Luckily, it worked! Lotte has been carsick twice now, and while it’s sometimes hard to tell if she’s actually not feeling well or is just sick of sitting in her car seat, we figure it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Here are some beauties from our Sunday adventures. Happy fall, ya’ll!

IMG_8963^^ Lake Estes Marina was the perfect pit stop to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

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^^ This delightful human being just loves finding things on the ground to show us. Rocks. Leaves. Animal poop. Everything is fair game.

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^^ We finally made it into Rocky Mountain National Park! Worth the wait …

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^^ Any excuse to snuggle with my babe ❤

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^^ We tried to keep Lotte distracted on the car ride by telling her how much fun we were going to have in the mountains. Like, “We’re going to the mountains!!” It worked, because she kept pointing all around on our hike and saying, “It’s a mountain!” I love two-year-olds, and in particular, this one.

IMG_9044IMG_9045IMG_9046IMG_9047IMG_9048IMG_9049IMG_9050IMG_9051IMG_9062IMG_9071^^ These horses actually live on the street next to ours. Chris thought it was funny that I was so obsessed with them, but I just thought the whole scene was so beautiful and I couldn’t help but think where do we live?!

And that was it, my friends. It was a really fun Sunday with our little fam of four. October is a very busy month for us with Chris running the Chicago marathon next weekend and his birthday trip near the end of the month. Festive fall fun all around!

Bis bald, friends!

A Birthday, Easter & End of Maternity Leave Celebration in Telluride

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Happy Monday/Easter/April/My Birthday, friends! Wowza it was a busy weekend, huh? On top of all of that, today, my birthday, is my last day of maternity leave.

I don’t want to talk about that, though :/

To celebrate, Chris & the girls and I packed up the car and headed about six hours southwest to Telluride, CO. It’s a place Chris and I have been wanting to check out since we moved here (you’ll see why in the photos below), and we figured what better way to celebrate all of the above (not to mention Grace’s first big trip!) with a tick off our bucket list?

So that’s what we did! We all loaded into the car and left the house around 9 a.m. on Thursday, on the way to our destination – this amazing little apartment in downtown Telluride. A note about our place: it was really awesome. The price was unbelievable for the location, and even though it was a railroad setup (meaning we had to walk through our bedroom and what turned out to be Grace’s bedroom to get to the living room/kitchen), it worked well for us. Plus the amazing window seat looking out onto the river made for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities (not to mention heart palpitations, since the windows opened all the way up and there were no screens), and you know I love me a good photo opportunity 😉

Anyway, on this trip we took some amazing walks, rode the gondola to Mountain Village, checked out the library (which is a must-visit for anyone who has kids, in my opinion), had a picnic, helped Lotte participate in an Easter egg hunt on the mountain (sort of. we were late and the eggs were all scooped up by the time we got there, but two awesome people who worked there hid some for her anyway), and just soaked up all the family time we possibly could. Lotte was teething something fierce on this trip, and she had a cold and we think maybe the altitude was bothering her, but she took it all in stride. (Other than waking up around 4 a.m. every. single. night. See one of my photos below for a favorite memory of mine from the trip, all thanks to Lotte’s inability to sleep.)

Here’s some of what we got up to!

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^^ These two never cease to amaze me. Like I mentioned before, it was more than six hours to our destination, and despite the long ride, they were both pretty amazing throughout the majority of it.

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^^ See what I mean about the window? How amazing is that view?! It was definitely Lotte’s favorite spot in the whole place.

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^^ Oh gorgeous Telluride – you really were spectacular.

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^^ Picnicing amongst the mountains … is there anything better? (Besides picnicing with cookies amongst the mountains, that is!)

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^^ As I mentioned, the library in Telluride is beyond amazing for kids. The kids’ section is humongous, with tons of toys and activities, and I think Lotte would have been happy to hang there all day.

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^^ Tuckered out from her first day in Telluride 😉

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^^ And here is the moment I mentioned earlier — my favorite memory of the trip. After struggling through the night with teeth that ached and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, my little boo woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday and was, obviously, exhausted and frustrated and in pain. It took a bit of coaxing, but eventually I got her to lay down next to me on the window seat, where we promptly both fell asleep for about an hour and Chris snapped a shot. Oh man, how I love these kids. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mom.

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^^ On Saturday we hit up the gondola (G’s first gondola ride!) to check out Mountain Village, where we had lunch and took in the spectacular views. Bringing this easy-fold mini-stroller and the Beast was a stroke of genius courtesy of my husband. The Beast was essential for most of our mountain/trail walking, but on the paved paths in Mountain Village (and for riding on the gondola), this tiny, compact stroller (coupled with the Ergo for G) was definitely the way to go.

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^^ Lunch at Tomboy Tavern was well deserved for this guy, who spent the majority of the day carrying G and the baby book bag and pushing Lotte in the stroller. Lucky me ❤

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^^ This face … turns me to mush every time. (Both of ’em.)

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^^ Lotte has ridden in a gondola before, but this was the first time she was old enough to actually notice what was going on. I think a small part of her was skeptical and maybe even a little scared, but she did eventually turn around to take it all in.

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^^ The Easter bunny made a stop by our little Telluride apartment!

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^^ Even though the egg hunt was meant to take place from 9-10, when we arrived at 9:30, most of the eggs had already been scooped up. Two super-sweet workers hid a couple extra eggs for Lotte to find, though, and another little girl even kindly offered to hide a few of her found eggs (sans the candy inside, of course), as well. Lotte didn’t quite understand the concept, but it was still really fun!

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And that was our trip in a nutshell, my friends! Of course there was way more that happened — like trying to eat out for dinner on Saturday night and being forced to do take-out instead due to a mini G freak-out. Overall, though, what I’ll take away from this trip, which encompassed a celebration of so many different things, is how amazingly close I felt to my little family afterwards. (More than 12 hours together in a cramped car will do that, I guess!) I’m lucky beyond belief to call these three my own, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures life brings our way.

Bis bald, friends! And happy April!

Celebrating a Birthday With a Short Fort Collins Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops 😉

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

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

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

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^^ See what I mean? Ah-mazing.

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

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

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^^ Family selfie success!

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

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

Bis bald, friends!