My First Solo Flight With the Little

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Well friends, Lotte and I were meant to leave today for our little east coast adventure, but because of the snow they got I decided to change our flight to Friday to avoid any potential delays or other issues. The main reason I did that was because this is my first flight solo with my babe, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous! I just hope all goes well – and if anyone has any tips on traveling with littles (even though I’ve written my fair share of articles on the topic, I feel like you can never have enough advice!), please do feel free to share in the comments.

For now though, I’m allowing myself to bask in the extra two days of packing, which perhaps is a bad thing! (See below.) We have quite the itinerary for this trip — Lotte and I — including cousin Rory’s 4th birthday party in Pennsylvania, a trip to D.C. (Lotte’s first!) to visit Lisa, and a fundraiser for my mom next Saturday that my sister and I are hosting, among other things.

So I guess all of this is to say … pray it goes well for me, friends!

Bis bald!

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Welcome to the Winter of 2016

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Well friends – winter has arrived in Colorado. And this winter is special, since it’s Lotte’s first one. Of course at the first sign of flakes yesterday I grabbed my camera and my child, shoved her in a snowsuit that is still way too big for her, and rushed outside to snap some shots.

This holiday season will be filled with mixed feelings for me – my first baby’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas … my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my mom. How do you even deal with those conflicting things?

For now, I’ll deal by spending as much time in the winter wonderland with Lotte as I can. Next week we’re off to New York (baby’s first flight!) to spend Thanksgiving with the family, and then only a couple weeks after that Chris’s parents and sisters, as well as my sister, brother-in-law and stepdad, will be heading out way to spend Christmas with us. I’m looking forward to hosting our first holidays in our brand new house.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

1lottefirstsnow^^ Snowflakes in front of my face … love it!

2lottefirstsnow^^ Oh you know, just sittin’ on a bench in the snow. No big deal 😉

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8lottefirstsnow^^ I’m sorry Chris didn’t make it home from work before it got dark (at like 4:30 p.m., mind you!), because we couldn’t take pictures with him in them. Something tells me we’ll have plenty more opportunity, though!

Touristing Around Tokyo: Billboards, Shrines and Dancing Robots

thumb__DSC3005_1024Hi friends,

So last Monday after the marathon was really the first day that we had a chance to actually tour a bit around Tokyo, and we really made the most of it. Our time in Tokyo would be ending on Wednesday, when we took a bullet train to Kyoto for the rest of the trip, so we really wanted to pack as much in on Monday and Tuesday as possible.

We decided to start the day at the Senso-ji shrine, but even just getting to the shrine proved to be difficult for us, since we kept getting districted by everything else we were passing along the way. Tokyo is a riot of colors, excitement and impeccably dressed men and women (oh my gosh these women are so well dressed!), and we really just couldn’t get enough …

thumb__DSC2912_1024^^^ We took the subway to the Akihabara area and got off to walk around a bit. This vicinity is famous for its electronic shops (They sell toilet seats! Oh the toilet seats … how have I not talked about these yet!? They are INSANE. As in insanely amazing. They’re heated. They close and open on their own. They flush on their own or you wave your hand in front of a sensor and it flushes. Some have ocean sounds that come on when you sit … I mean?! It’s like visiting a spa every time you pee!), and in recent years has become well-known for its collection of anime and manga paraphernalia, as well. It’s so funky and fun, totally worth a walk through.

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We also found ourselves meandering through the streets leading up to the Senso-ji temple, which was much more traditional Japan, as I had imagined it …

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thumb__DSC2967_1024^^^ This guy … too funny!

thumb__DSC2969_1024^^^ This was our first view coming up on the temple. You can just tell right away that it’s going to be pretty amazing, and the surrounding area — referred to as Nakamise-dori — has streets filled with shopping for anything your little heart might desire, from food and trinkets to clothing and so much more.

thumb__DSC2971_1024^^^ Senso-ji, in all her splendor.

thumb__DSC2976_1024^^^ Senso-ji is known to be Tokyo’s oldest temple, and its referred by to locals as the temple of the Asakusa Kannon. Even though the temple receives 30 million visitors every year, it is still an important center of worship. There’s a great history of the temple and surrounding area here.

thumb__DSC2978_1024thumb__DSC2982_1024thumb__DSC2989_1024^^^ 100 yen (placed in an honour box) will get you an omikuji, or a fortune written on a small piece of paper. If your fortune is bad, tradition would have you tie the paper on a nearby string so the wind can disperse the bad luck. Above is the incense burner, which you’ll find in the temple forecourt. People come here to fan the smoke from the incense over themselves, believing it to have healing powers.

thumb__DSC3009_1024thumb__DSC3015_1024^^^ The area immediately surrounding the temple includes manicured gardens, Buddhist and other statues to pray at, and some other, smaller temple structures. The whole area is so alluring and you’ll feel like you never want to leave.

Of course leave you must, if you want to take in the rest of Tokyo! So after spending a couple hours at the temple and wandering around the surrounding streets, we decided to head off to check out the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo, with its Tokyo City View, Mori Art Museum and Mohri Garden. Unfortunately by the time we got there the weather had turned rainy and cloudy, so the Tokyo City View didn’t seem like such a smart idea, and the Mohri Garden — which I had been pretty excited about based on information I’d read in my guide book — turned out to be pretty lame, as well. (Maybe it’s better in the spring when everything is blooming? Probably, I assume.) There are a ton of shops in this area, though, and it’s definitely one of the more affluent, contemporary sections of Tokyo, so it’s worth checking out. So we decided to grab a coffee (hot chocolate for me!) and rest our legs, and to come back the next day when the weather promised to be better to do the city view and the art museum.

In the evening we had plans to meet up with a friend of my sister’s who just recently moved to Japan with her husband who is in the Navy. Our original plan to see another temple didn’t seem like such a good one anymore because of the weather, so she recommended checking out Robot Restaurant, a restaurant in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo that she admitted she had never been to before, but that everyone had been recommending. Not quite sure what to expect (Vicky said “it’s mostly about the entertainment, it’s not really a restaurant!”), we were game for everything, so we hopped online, bought our tickets (they’re a bit pricey at about $50 per ticket — with a discount! — so I would definitely do your research before buying them to make sure this is the type of entertainment you’d be into) and were off!

So let me tell you about Robot Restaurant — it is quite a spectacle! There were little kids in our audience, so I would have been interested to gauge their reaction afterwards, but the basic gist of it is that this is not a restaurant (they serve popcorn, beer and some other goodies for an additional fee), and it’s really just a bright, loud, crazy, kitschy show of shorts, put on by both elaborately dressed actors and, ahem, robots. I think there was a plot line (good vs. evil, big scary robot wants to destroy pretty, blossoming world, people who live in pretty world fight back and win? Maybe?), but really, it’s not about the plot line, either. It’s all about the theatrics, the costumes … and the robots, of course! It actually turned out to be a lot of fun, but it’s probably not for everyone, so like I said, I’d do a little research before buying those tickets!

If you do buy the tickets, though, here’s a bit of what you can expect …

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thumb__DSC3068_1024thumb__DSC3072_1024^^^ That about sums it up!

thumb__DSC3082_1024thumb__DSC3096_1024thumb__DSC3106_1024^^^ Of course you don’t have to try on one of the costume heads when the show is over … unless you’re my husband 😉

thumb__DSC3112_1024^^^ Thank you, Robot Restaurant, for showing us a crazy, wild side of Tokyo that we probably would never have otherwise seen!

After the show were all starving (because again, it’s not a restaurant!), so Chris hopped on, you guessed it!, Foursquare, and found an awesome little tempura place nearby that he wanted to try. Again, the name is in Japanese, which isn’t much help for you, but I did take a picture of the front of the restaurant, if that helps!

thumb__DSC3116_1024^^^ If you’re a tempura fan, this is a great place to try out. They have traditional seating, too (on the floor, legs crossed), if you want, and if you sit up at the bar area, like we did, you can watch the chefs cook your dinner right in front of you. So cool!

And that was our Monday, friends! It was jam packed, but as it turned out Tuesday would be even more full. We started our morning on Tuesday at 3 a.m. (!!!) in order to make it to a viewing of the famous tuna auction at the Tsukiji Market, so stay tuned for more on that tomorrow!

For now … bis bald, friends!

A Holiday Getaway In the Mountains

IMG_0109^^ A blurry view of the snowy trees whizzing by on our way up to the mountains on Christmas Eve.

Hi friends,
As I mentioned yesterday, Chris and I headed up into the mountains for the holiday where we stayed at The Pines Condominiums in Keystone. The condo was splendid, with a fireplace, gorgeous mountain views from every window and a full kitchen with everything we needed to make a delicious Christmas dinner. I thought I’d share some pictures from our stay here.

_DSC2710^^Our dining room looking into what we came to affectionately refer to as our “Christmas nook”.

_DSC2711^^The kitchen

_DSC2716^^ Our Christmas nook, pre decorations.

_DSC2720^^ Chris spent most of his time stoking the lovely wood fire.

_DSC2725^^ Our Christmas nook, all decorated and lovely.

IMG_0132^^ Christmas Eve dinner was at the Black Bear Grill.

IMG_0139^^ Christmas eve entertainment was a roaring fire and some Christmas classics.

_DSC2731^^ Christmas morning Christmas nook views.

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_DSC2741^^ I thought this photo was artsy, with the Christmas lights in the foreground, but Chris just said it was confusing.

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And that was our lovely, snow-filled Christmas holiday, friends! I hope you all had a relaxing, fun time filled with friends, family and lots of delicious foods … now on to New Years!

A Quick Trip to South Dakota to Visit Mount Rushmore

01_SouthDakota^^ Holy cow does it look cold or what?! Well it was!

Well friends, unfortunately it’s been about two weeks since we actually made the trek out to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, but I’m only now getting the chance to post some photos from our little adventure. After arriving back into Denver late Monday night with Chris’s parents from New York after my sister’s wedding, we hopped in the car early Tuesday and headed off to add a new state to our list of visits this year — South Dakota. We booked a hotel in Rapid City called Adoba, which was awesome for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and also for the fact that it had a bar right across the street that afforded us the chance to watch the Mets game while we chowed down on some grub after a long day of checking out the sights …

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03_OregonTrail^^ Passing by markers for the Oregon Trail during our drive brought me right back to my American history days!

04_CrazyHorseMemorial^^ Our first stop in South Dakota was the Crazy Horse Memorial. Can you kind of see the face carved into the side of that mountain on the right? This landmark has kind of a crazy story in that it’s pretty much being entirely built by one family who refuses to take contributions from the government. You can read more about the monument here, but essentially the memorial is meant to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend checking it out, if only for the museum and the awesome amount of information you can find there.

05_MountainGoat^^ Yes, these are mountain goats, my friends, and guess who was super excited to add this animal to our list of animals we’ve seen this year …

06_MountainGoat^^ My husband was … that’s who 😉

07_MountRushmore^^ Entering the Mount Rushmore area was a sort of out-of-body experience for me at first. I mean you spend your whole life growing up, knowing that this place exists, seeing photos of it in history books and reading about what it represents, and then you see it in person … and you’re just blown away.

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11_HotelSunrise^^ The sunrise view from our hotel Wednesday morning certainly wasn’t too shabby.

12_TrailView^^Wednesday morning we drove through Custer State Park and took the Wildlife Loop Road, which was amazing.

13_TrailView^^ We saw bison — hey bison!

14_TrailView^^ A vulture …

15_TrailView^^ You can’t really see it too well in this picture, but there’s a coyote a little right of center in this photo …

16_TrailView^^ There he goes, off to the right and into the woods!

17_TrailView^^ Prairie dogs!

18_TrailView^^ And more bison, super up close and personal.

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21_TrailView^^ Look at these little cuties! We sure do miss them when we’re not with them.

22_TheNeedles^^ We also got to quickly check out Needles Highway on our way back to Mount Rushmore on Wednesday (we didn’t have much time to check out the museum the day before), which was pretty stunning.

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30_MountRushmore^^ And then it was back to Mount Rushmore one more time to finish up with the museum and check out the monument again before heading back to Denver.

It was a super quick little two-day trip, but totally worth it. We were hoping to hit up the Badlands as well, but we definitely didn’t have time for that. Oh well, it’s on the list, still!

And we’re off to New Orleans tomorrow, friends! I cannot wait to check out this city that I’ve heard so much about. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily updates, and I’ll be back next week to post an update on the blog.

Until then, bis bald, my friends!

My Sister’s Wedding

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^^ Check out the amazing cabins that my parents rented for the weekend of my sister’s wedding. [They were in Fishkill, New York, by the way, and they’re called Willow Lake Vacation Rentals, if you’re looking for an amazing fall getaway in the Hudson Valley for next year ;)] We stayed there Friday night, got ready for the wedding Saturday and had a big family breakfast there Sunday before everyone headed out. The following couple of photos are all from the weekend of my sister’s wedding, including a tour of West Point that my dad was kind enough to give Chris’s parents on Sunday after everyone had left.
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12Cabin^^ This was a ladybug on Brian’s jacket, which we all determined was very good luck 😉

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Life Lately: The Fall in Upstate New York Edition

Hi friends,

As much as fall has been a whirlwind, I was predicting that to be the case, and therefore I’ve been able to (as much as humanly possible!) stop and — to paraphrase — smell the changing leaves 😉

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the past couple (crazy/insane/amazing) weeks …

01_Snooze^^ Snooze with some Aussie visitors before I left for my east coast adventure.

02_DenverCapital^^ Checking out the Colorado State Capitol as part of an expert (not) tour while our friends were in town.

03_PeekskillBrewery^^ Hitting up the Peekskill Brewery for dinner the first night I was home.

04_IthacaLakehouse^^ We rented a lake house in Ithaca for my sister’s bachelorette a few weekends ago, and it was the definition of heavenly.

05_IthacaLakehouse^^ Getting the party started!

06_IthacaLakehouse^^ Cayuga Lake in all its glory.

07_CiderTasting^^ Stopping at the Finger Lakes Cider House on our winery tour.

08_CiderTasting^^ These ladies.

09_IthacaBars^^ I bought these little party hats for our gang to wear out the night of Steph’s bachelorette, and I cannot lie, I kind of love them. What else can I wear this for?!

10_Gorges^^ Checking out the gorges in Ithaca before heading out Sunday. Oh fall — you just get me.

11_Ranger^^ This pup is soooo happy to have me home 😉

12_BKWAterfront^^ I headed into the city for a couple days last week for a press event and to visit some friends. This pic was taken during  a walk along the river in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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13_StatueOfLiberty^^ There’s our Lady Liberty, standing all tall and proud!

14_BKNeighborhood^^ It doesn’t get more quaint Brooklyn wonderfulness than my friend’s adorable neighborhood.

15_FayeAndMe^^ Blurry  photo fun down in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

17_BryantPark^^ One of my all-time most favorite places in the entire world — Bryant Park. This little slice of heaven lives amidst all the crazy hustle and bustle of Manhattan, and it really is something special. I appreciate it even more now that I don’t live in NYC anymore …

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19_230Fifth^^ My press event last Thursday took place on the rooftop bar of 230 Fifth.  This place is pricey, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it for this view …

19_EmpireState^^ I mean …

20_FlatironBuilding^^ I had some time to kill before the event on Thursday, so I hung out in Madison Square Park for a bit and snapped this pic of the Flatiron Building on my way out.

21_BKPumpkins^^ Pumpkins in Brooklyn.

22_ProspectPark^^ A friend and I walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday before I headed home. Coming back to visit this city — and all the people I love who still live here — is bittersweet now. Still, this was the first time back since we’ve moved away that I thought, “I’m actually okay that I don’t live here.” As much as I adore New York — and I do! — this place can also be exhausting and stressful. Who knows where my life will bring me in the future, but it was a good feeling this trip back to be able to say that for now, I think we made the right decision leaving. Leaving the people there, of course, is a whole other thing …

23_AussieCousin^^ This Aussie cousin of ours is amazing. When he found out a trip he had already planned to New York was happening just days after my sister’s wedding, he rescheduled to be able to attend. Then he found out about our other cousin’s wedding that took place this past Saturday, and he rescheduled again! What a trooper.

24_Wedding^^ A glorious wedding venue.

25_Wedding^^ These two cuties are next!

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27_NewPaltzFall^^ Sunday was frustrating to me, with an unscheduled, unplanned and thoroughly annoying last-minute trip to an Urgent Care Center. The drive out there, however, was splendid in all its fall loveliness, so I rewarded myself with a stop directly in the middle of the road to take this photo.

IMG_8891^^ And this, from a walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Le sigh.

IMG_8574^^ Chris and I haven’t been together all of October, since I’ve been east coasting it — so sometimes we just have to cheers each other virtually, ya know?!

IMG_6118^^ Oh, and he sends me these, too, to melt my heart a little bit 😉

And that’s been it so far, my friends! I’m off to the Poconos with a friend this Thursday, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to share with you in the coming weeks – so stay tuned.

Bis bald!