a drive to see the aspens :: gunella pass

Checking out the Aspen trees in the fall is a thing people do in Colorado. A thing we had not yet done, officially, since moving here. Sure, we'd been outdoors in the fall, and seen a bit of Aspen foliage, but we'd never made a point to plan a trip with Aspen-peeping as the main motivation. Until this year.

The first weekend of October, we left bright and early Sunday morning and drove through Gunella Pass. We took interstate 70 west to Georgetown, and then after checking out the sleepy town, proceeded through the pass. The route is about three hours of driving time. Give or take.

We stopped a few places along the way to stretch our legs and take pictures. However, it seemed a lot of the most majestic views were places that stopping and getting two kids out of their carseats would have been quite dangerous, so the views just had to be appreciated in the moment. That's a good thing to do, right? 

Nevertheless, we did get some pictures at the places we stopped! Proof we went, of course.

^^so often it's hard to take pictures in quaint, historic towns because the parked cars get in the way. it was beautiful to be in georgetown early on a sunday morning when there was not much to distract from the old buildings.^^

^^the top of the pass. not many aspens to be seen, but absolutely breathtaking.^^

^^for years i've been wanting willa to get out into nature and just get dirty. she had a slow start, but i think the's finally there. she was delighted at all the little treasures she found when we stopped at a trailhead.^^

^^it was a beautiful day of fall + family!^^

meeting my newest seattle friend

I made a quick trip to Seattle last month to see my dear friend Megan and meet her 5-week old baby boy. As cheesy as it sounds, Seattle clings tight to a piece of my heart. As soon as the plane landed on the tarmac, surrounded by clouds and drizzle, tears came to my eyes. I was there less than 48 hours, but we packed a lot in. Most importantly, I spent a lot of quality time with Megan, her husband Sean, and the cute newcomer to their family.

^^after touching down at seatac, i took the light rail (for just $2.75!) downtown, and then walked up to capitol hill. i had to hit up my favorite coffee shop, victrola, before uber-ing to megan's 'hood: madison park.^^

^^baby william! so happy to meet him! what expressions he has at such a young age. no surprise, though, given how cool and animated his parents are.^^

^^baby william, his parents, our friend shannon, and i all went to anchovies & olives for a delicious dinner, and then ended the night with dessert, conversation, and baby bouncing at cupcake royale.^^

^^gorgeous saturday morning light in madison park.^^

^^beautiful new mama rocking the best baby carrier eva.^^

^^obviously, going to mighty-o donuts was a must. conveniently, they've open a new shop in ballard, which was another spot i wanted to visit. we spent saturday afternoon walking around and checking out new and old spots, happily full of donuts.^^

^^had to stop at golden gardens for a quick walk along the beach. // as the sun set, we went back to madison park and cooked salmon and vegetables for dinner. we talked parenting and baby carriers and life. we reminisced about the fun we had as twenty-somethings in fremont and capitol hill. we were too busy talking to take any pictures. it was just lovely.^^

^^a quick shot after a great breakfast at geraldine's before i headed back to the airport. thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful weekend, megan!^^

summer in denver :: highlights

The weather recently has still been too hot for my liking, but there are sure signs of fall all around. Leaves are changing, and the mornings are full of crisp air. I did a terrible job blogging about our summer adventures...I probably have one more post to do about our trip to Vermont, but until I can get around to doing that, I wanted to post some miscellaneous pictures from the summer months.

^^homemade ice cream; delicious.^^

^^many of our summer days looked like this.^^

^^bocce and pizza in the park!^^

^^summer haircut + pizza afterwards.^^

^^denver chalk art festival.^^

^^few things are more fun than the fountains at union station.^^

^^willa's 4th birthday!^^

^^bbqs at my sister's house are always fun + yay for a rare family photo!^^

^^willa asked for a kite for her birthday. windy days aren't frequent, but we've gotten it up in the air a few times!^^

^^fun with nana!^^

^^we hit the pools pretty hard this summer.^^

^^summer nights.^^

^^friends. thank goodness for friends. and park picnic playdates.^^

^^the color run. super fun.^^

^^the day we biked to cherry creek to buy a deep fryer.^^

^^the donuts we made with the fryer.^^

^^and just like that, summer was over. back to school!^^

memorial day in kansas city

How is it August already? Didn't summer just begin? What is it about summer that makes us all so busy? The nice weather and conceptualized "break" from the routine of the "school year" seems to be engrained in me, even though it's been a long time since the academic year dictated my life. Although, Willa is now wedded to the school calendar, so summer has brought a lot of freedom with her schedule. A lot of bonding time for us. As soon as school finished, we hit the road as a family and headed due East. Some tornado warnings slowed our initial progress, but once the skies cleared we made good time and were delighted to spend a weekend with Dan's mom and other extended family. There was lots of pool time, good food, and a baseball game. Most importantly, there was family bonding and the road trip was totally tolerable. The kids rocked it.

Photo highlights:

^^shortly after we arrived, we went to check out the pool. the kids couldn't contain their excitement and started to climb in, clothes and all (and helmet!).^^

^^memorial day weekend marked willa's discovery of her love of the pool! she had been really timid up until that time, but she realized how well her floaties would hold her up, and she then spent hours swimming around the deep end. it was the beginning of a summer of swimming willa!^^

^^frozen treats at grandma's house!^^

^^humidity = green!^^

^^cousins!^^

^^yay family and yay KC royals.^^

while i was snapping...

I've been given a hard time lately for a dearth of Instagram photos. I used to post at least once a day, but in recent months I've waned. Mostly, my aging phone has been to blame. Every picture I took was blurry and not Instagram-able. But, also, I must admit, Snapchat has been dominating my social media time. I really like Snapchat. It's fun. And quick. However, Snaps do indeed disappear unless manually saved, so I best post some pictures on this here blog lest we forget everything we've been up to lately. Here's a roundup of pictures from the past month or so!

IMG_3352^^spring has been coming and going, but i think the nice weather is finally here to stay!^^

IMG_2775^^biker cam! we've been biking a lot more, but the two kids are pretty heavy in the trailer, so when the whole family bikes, we put one of them on the back of dan's bike.^^

IMG_3405^^one of those bad shots i referenced from a roller-skating birthday party!^^

IMG_2825^^flowers on our cherry tree!^^

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IMG_3439^^that montage is called: "eating out with kids is fun..."^^

DSC01173^^so much magna tile fun with grandpa!^^

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IMG_2848^^yay for backyard time!^^IMG_2891^^celebrating A&J's birthday!^^

DSC01238-001^^girls' spa day in boulder for our dear friend sara's baby sprinkle!^^

IMG_2896^^mother's day lunch at taste of thailand. SOOOOO GOOD!^^

IMG_2899^^her "celebration of learning" at school. she was so excited to show us what they'd been working on but mostly she was thrilled to "be in charge" all night. ;)^^

IMG_3520^^pizza delivery race at her school's field day!^^

tulum, mexico :: places we went

Just one more post about Tulum. We gotta talk a few deets: Places to go! Things to see! It was our first visit, and we were only there a week, so we are obviously the farthest people from experts on the area. Nevertheless, there were several places we really enjoyed during our trip, and I want to share them. Some are places I found before our trip through online research, while others we stumbled upon while there.

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PLAYA MAMBO ECO CABAÑAS There are lots of hotels in Tulum, and all of them are small and locally-owned. No big resorts. But there are lots of choices. We wanted to be right on the beach, and somewhere that was more rustic, so Playa Mambo sounded like a good choice from what I'd read online. It was.

We reserved through booking.com and rented a bungalow with ocean view. There are two of these available. Both have the beach and ocean as their front yard. They are also a bit bigger than "cottage" options because they have a sleeping loft. I thought this would be a good option for the kids. It was a small loft with a window, accessible by ladder. It worked out well for Cameron; he slept up there in his travel crib and it was good for naps because we could go in and out of the cabana without disturbing him. Willa was freaked out. She slept on a mattress by our bed.

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Pros:

  • Location. Playa Mambo's beach was beautiful. They had a small number of beach chairs/beds with umbrellas. There were several good restaurants nearby, as well as a mini-mart just outside the gate for cheaper beers and other snacks.
  • The hotel provided breakfast to guests. Coffee, fruit, and pastries. Eggs and such were available at an additional cost.
  • The staff were efficient and friendly. Our room was cleaned daily. The staff offered the kids beach toys on our first day.
  • Overall, Playa Mambo had a great vibe. It was laid back and casual while still being stylish and well kept. It seemed to attract friendly people; we enjoyed interacting with many of the other guests staying there at the same time.

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Cons:

  • No fridge. No cold drinks. No way to store perishable food.
  • Breakfast. We wanted to enjoy it because it was part what we were paying for, but it wasn't quite enough. It was our first breakfast and then we'd go find a second breakfast.
  • Cash only. I alluded to this in a previous post. It is absurd that a place that charges what Playa Mambo does per night would not take a credit card. Or at least PayPal or some other electronic option. This was really to their detriment though; we would have bought many more piña coladas if we could have paid with plastic.
  • Value. While we really enjoyed our stay at Playa Mambo, it didn't feel like a great deal. It was "eco-chic" which, in some ways, just meant "budget." There was no air conditioning. The shower was a trickle. We only got new towels every few days. All of this was totally fine for us, but I'm not sure it matched the price point.

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//

RINCÓN POBLANO I didn't want to spend a week in Tulum and only be at the beach. (However, the beach was really nice!) We ventured into town one of our first days to check things out. The town definitely had a less tourist-focused vibe.

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My favorite thing to do when I travel is to do everyday activities like locals would, so it was nice to just walk into this random restaurant off the main street and have lunch. It ended up being a great choice. It was relatively empty; just us and one Mexican family eating lunch. The man working was quite friendly and the food was delicious. We ordered taquitos and a mole. And beers. And a smoothie. Willa got quite into smoothies on vacation!

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//

LA OÑDA A few doors down from Playa Mambo, this place advertised "Best Pizza on Earth." Now, I'd have to disagree with that bold statement, but the pizza really was quite good. The service was friendly and the beers were cold.

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//

BOLAS DE POSTRE (Balls of Dessert) Being on vacation was no different than real life; the words "if you X, you can have ice cream" somehow at some point were uttered by some parent. That was much easier said than done however. On Tulum's beach road, everything is run by generator, so freezers are few and far between. Willa was a good sport about it, but we did feel compelled to find ice cream at least once during the week.

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We'd seen an ice cream cart when we were driving to and from town, so on one of our last afternoons, we finally decided to walk down the road to find it. It was a bit of a walk; Willa was asleep in the stroller by the time we arrived, but it was so worth it!

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They called it "superfood ice cream" and all the flavors we tasted were divine. The Vegan Papaya Almond Bliss was my favorite, but the Cacao was also good and the Tamarind Jamaica was really delightful and refreshing. Willa initially said "yucky" when the chocolate came out (3 year olds!) but I think she was just thrown off by the nuts and other textures. She ended up devouring it. As did Cam.

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There were no real cons about this place for us, but my only somewhat negative thought was that all the soymilk they were using might not fly in a trendy American city, but that was no problem for me (tofu foreva!).

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ZAMAS The New York Times told me to go to Zamas in the morning for the view and the huevos rancheros. So that's what we did. And, unsurprisingly, NYT was right. The service was great, the food delicious, and the location on the beach was fantastic. This breakfast is a really happy memory for me; I'm so glad we went. (Notably, Cam cried through most of the meal. See, another vote for traveling with kids! Even when they cry it's still a happy memory!)

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//

LA EUFEMIA While Tulum was overall a great travel destination, and we really enjoyed our time there, there's no getting around the fact it's quite touristy. Perhaps it was once off the beaten path, but beach road is now the path. It's full of folks from Brooklyn or London (or Denver), looking for some tasty tacos. Luckily, just a few places down from our hotel, was La Eufemia. It ticked all the boxes for me: casual, fun, delicious food, good drinks, reasonable prices, and an authentic vibe. It was the only place we went twice. It was also the only place we spotted the young, hip staff from our hotel eating after they clocked out.

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They had a 2x1 drink special the first night we were there, and we didn't really think it through before Dan ordered a piña colada and I ordered a mojito. So when 4 drinks came to the table, we were like, "hey, I guess we're having a big night!" The second time we went, we were ready and just ordered one piña colada. Although I don't judge anyone who enjoys multiple. They were good!

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//

LAGUANA KAAN LUUM The morning I did my paddle boarding + yoga outing, they took us to this public lagoon. SUP Tulum has their own private lagoon, but it was quite windy that day, and Kaan Luum was smaller therefore less wind.

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It was beautiful. When we arrived at 9:45am we were the first ones there. By the time our class was over, around 11:30, there were probably 20-30 locals there swimming. The sandy bottom of the lagoon was pretty squishy, which took some getting used to, but the water was gorgeous and a perfect temperature.

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SOL Not a place, but I feel compelled to note that while on the beach, the refreshing taste of Sol made it my preferred cerveza.

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Salud, amigos!

reflections on our week in tulum, mexico

We're just back from a trip to Tulum, Mexico. As Denverites, we feel a to need to get ourselves to a large body of water from time to time, and all the better if it's in a tropical locale. We somewhat spontaneously booked this trip a few months ago, and were so excited to take the whole family south for a week.

Traveling with the kids is challenging for sure, but I think it's only by getting out of your comfort zone that you learn and grow. That goes for both the little ones and the adults. The challenges are part of what make it fun and memorable. (They're also what can make it momentarily miserable, but you do your best to just move forward, right?!) Making memories and having experiences together as a family always outweighs the inherent difficulties of embarking on an adventure with little ones in tow. (If it sounds like I'm giving myself a pep talk here, that might be somewhat the case.)

When Willa was 20 months old, we traveled to Costa Rica. After that trip, I wrote a "things we learned" post. Looking back at it now, all those things are still true, and definitely applied to our trip to Tulum. But with this trip fresh in my mind, here are a few reflections I want to remember:

Just because you travel well with kids doesn't mean your kids travel well. That might be a bit harsher than I really mean, because, actually, I think our kids do travel pretty well. But what I sometimes need to remind myself is that I can't control my kids or their feelings. It is possible that they won't like traveling. They might not like sand (Cameron). They might miss Denver way more than I do (Willa). I can't make them have fun. I can give them the opportunity and guide and teach them to the best of my abilities, but that's it.

Do you really want to eat out for every meal?Some people like to. I don't. Even before kids, I don't enjoy eating all my meals in a restaurant environment. Most days we ate the continental breakfast at the hotel and went out to dinner. We went to the grocery store and bought fresh fruit and snacks to eat throughout the day. However, our cabana didn't have a fridge, so our options were limited. (This also resulted in some beers consumed earlier and faster than necessary after purchase since we lacked refrigeration.) We know we like having a kitchen, but there were a few reasons it didn't work out this trip. We need to make sure it works out next time.

Strollers can be great. I've been known to be a bit anti-stroller. For a long time, I didn't travel with one. But, now that we have two kids and Willa is older but not a solid long-distance walker, it's often really helpful to have a stroller. We used it in the airport on our travel days, for exploring Mayan ruins, and for walks down the main roads in Tulum. Willa enjoyed a nap or two in it, and Cam occasionally took a turn rolling.

Baby carriers are the best. At the last minute, I packed my beloved Solly Baby Wrap. (Actually, I put it on as a scarf on our way to the airport.) It was so nice to have a lightweight wrap to wear Cam in the heat, and we were happy to have two carriers so we could walk along the beach with both kids. Perhaps we're doing a disservice to them by not mandating marching, but we enjoyed covering some ground with the sand between our toes and the waves crashing against our legs.

Research how you'll pay for things at your destination. Duh, right? Tulum was totally "cash only." I knew many of the smaller restaurants would be, but we were surprised how many places, including our hotel, wouldn't take credit cards. Even the large gas stations on the highway back to the Cancun airport were cash only (or so the attendants said!?). We failed to plan ahead for this as much as we should have, and it caused a few wrinkles in our trip. Lesson learned.

Plan some adventures. But not too many. Before we left for the trip, I booked myself a morning outing to stand up paddle board. I knew if I didn't have it scheduled, I'd probably not end up going. It was a great decision; SUPing was fantastic and easily doable during our week-long stay. Likewise, Dan spent a morning golfing. As a family, we took a day trip to the Mayan ruins at Coba.  But otherwise, we mostly stayed at the beach. I often feel compelled to do a bunch of side trips and outings when we're in a place where there's "so much to do" but then I remind myself that staying in a hotel right on the beach is an outing in and of itself. It's always important to balance relaxation with activities, and that balance likely shifts on each trip for a variety of factors. But for us, it's been important to just "be" on vacation.

skiing and sledding in steamboat springs

A few weeks ago, Dan's mom and brother flew into town and we all made our way up to Steamboat Spring for a weekend of wintery fun. We rented a house on the shuttle line, and thanks to Grandma's babysitting, we were able to get on the slopes for a full day of runs! We also drove out to Saddleback Ranch, which was even more fun than I'd anticipated; us "big kids" had a blast tubing while Grandma kindly watched the littles! Cameron worked hard to walk in the snow while his sister contemplated tubing for a moment but opted to climb a snow "mountain" instead.

In between outings, we enjoyed laughs, the hot tub, wine, cinnamon rolls, card games, enchiladas, beer, walks... It's always nice to "get out to the mountains." My, how Coloradan we've become.

DSC00681^^beautiful view from our hot tub, where we enjoyed many a soak over the three days.^^

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IMG_2543^^we were all quite happy to be on the mountain. blues all day!^^

DSC00655^^this little lady loves fire hydrants and she was especially excited to see how tall they were in steamboat to clear the snow pack.^^

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DSC00677^^snow + blue sky. and tubing. a good combo!^^

hello, L.A.!

We headed to L.A. last month to visit Dan's brother for a long long weekend. We had a delightful weekend packed with several fun activities. Both kids were terrified of the ocean's waves, but they loved the beach, so we enjoyed our fair share of sand in our hair and between our toes. We hiked in Malibu, and I hit up a Dailey Method class in Venice. Combine all that with family bonding, and it was an all-around great trip. Thanks so much for hosting us, M&S!

^^first trip with her very own suitcase. she was so excited.^^

^^post-flight beach walk: getting our wiggles out + thrilled to see the ocean.^^

^^afternoon at santa monica beach followed by piggyback snoozes and smoothies.^^

^^tree pictures: can't stop. won't stop.^^

^^venice, i like you. after taking class at the dailey method there, a teacher recommended i try the bulletproof coffee at another kind of sunrise. it did not disappoint.^^

^^ICYMI: homemade fries are AMAZING. look at cam salivating.^^

^^in this moment, at venice beach, we learned that willa can write her name!^^

^^i was so excited to check out salt & straw since it's kinda a big deal on the national artisanal ice cream stage (that's a thing, right?) and i'd never made it to the portland location. venice to the rescue. i ordered a kids' size, per usual, but it was a legit small portion, so i had to indulge and order a second flavor. totally worth it.^^

^^dan and i snuck out for a late night dinner at cassia in santa monica. it calls itself a southeast asian brasserie. i love the things restaurants come up with! (seriously, i do.) to me, it had a definite LA vibe. luckily i'd packed one fancy outfit, ha! the food was really good and the martini i had was fantastic ("gin, imbue vermouth, blanc vermouth, lemongrass tincture, orange bitters, smoked quail egg" - the quail egg scared me at first, but it was just on a toothpick like an olive would be, and it was delicious!). the whole grilled sea bass was the best thing we ordered. fresh herbs!^^

^^there is an awesome playground at tongva park in santa monica. when we walked by it the first time, the kids were asleep, but we knew we had to go back. indeed, they loved playing there. there was also a water feature for hotter days. wish we had more of those in denver!^^

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^^beautiful, BEAUTIFUL hike in malibu to round out our trip.^^

crested butte craziness

You know what traveling with kids is not like? Traveling without kids.

Shocking revelation, I know. But really, as simple as that sounds, it's a fundamental concept that one is forced to come to terms with when embarking on adventures with little ones. And I think it's something that many of us struggle with in the years after we first have kids. Your "pre-kid" life wasn't that long ago, and it's hard to shake the memories of when traveling (or doing anything, really) was, well, quite different.

A few weeks ago, great friends of ours flew in from Texas and we all trekked out to Crested Butte for the better part of a week. We'd had the trip planned for several months, and our friends were excited to have a Colorado mountain experience.

Crested Butte is sensational. It's truly an idyllic mountain town. We'd been twice before, but this was our first time going in the summer. The town was as quaint as ever and we were blown away by the breathtaking views. We tried our best to maximize the hiking trails and other outdoor adventures the area has to offer.

It was challenging though, to be sure. We were tired. Cameron didn't sleep that well. Willa had the ups and downs that seem to be par for her course at age 3. I got frustrated. At one point I cried and declared we should just drive back to Denver.

I didn't really mean it. And we didn't. I'm glad we didn't. The week was special. It was memorable. We got closer as a family. We reconnected with our friends. We got to know their kids.

There are numerous quotations about how things are hard but you should do them anyway. How it's the hard that makes them great. I'm not saying I wouldn't take a relaxed vacation sans kid drama...I would. (Gosh, I would!) But different is okay. Different has its own charms.

Some highlights:

^^Secret Stash Pizzeria. So good.^^

^^Meridian Lake. We hiked the steep route which was a lot of bang for your buck. Great views and refreshing swim.^^

^^Henderson Park aka "the mini park." According to Willa, this was the highlight of the trip. I'll bet you've never seen a smaller park.^^

^^Our VRBO on Elk Avenue. It was close to town and also to several hiking trails. It had a bit of an odd bedroom set-up (a really large master suite with a sitting area, a tiny bedroom by the kitchen with a full-sized bed, and two bedrooms upstairs with twin beds) but it worked out just fine! Great outdoor space.^^

To round out this story, it must be said that friends who can parent together are true friends. The challenges of this trip were eased by the extra eyes, hands, ears, and hugs throughout the days and the camaraderie around the campfire at night. We love you guys!

you can always go home again

Last month, I embarked on my first big trip with both kids. Just me, and the two littles. We flew to New York state to visit my parents in my hometown, Canton. Perhaps it doesn't sound like a big trip. From Denver you can fly almost anywhere in the continental U.S. in 2-4 hours. Right? Right. Problem is, my parents live 2.5 hours from the nearest American airport. And that airport only works if you take a red-eye east from Denver. A red-eye with my energetic 3-year old? No thanks. So the airport we flew to is 4 hours from my hometown. That mere fact made the trip more of an adventure for everyone involved. Including my parents who are all kinds of awesome for driving us to and from the airport! It was a wonderful visit. It was exhausting. But it was joyful. We made memories that I'll cherish forever, and I hope that Willa might remember a couple of things too. There's really nothing like going home.

^^on the drive home from the airport, first there was screaming. then there was napping. then there was a stop at the most beautiful adirondack lake. i have been seriously missing east coast lakes, and this moment was just glorious. willa immediately took off her clothes and started splashing around, and the sun was setting over the mountains. it was the best start to our visit.^^

^^the green! everything is so green. i missed it. and the country roads.^^

^^the bagelry! getting bagels was a staple of my childhood. this place has seriously upped its game in recent years, bringing a hip city vibe to our small town. it's amazing how the no one can do bagels like east coasters.^^

^^hitting up the school playground and the town square's fountain. not pictured: a trip to the ice cream stand that resulted in a massive meltdown, both literal and figurative. ice cream melts quite fast when it's 90 degrees. (duh.) but also! soft serve! why is that just an east coast thing? love a vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles.^^

^^it was definitely summer weather while we were visiting. hot and humid. but my mom knew a secret swimming spot and we had such a nice evening relaxing by the river. willa was a bit tentative about the water, and cameron mostly hung out on shore devouring a plum, but i certainly enjoyed swimming!^^

^^beet hummus! my mom makes the best food. and since we're still doing the whole "baby-led weaning" gig, my dad liked to say throughout the week that cameron was "taking his leadership responsibilities very seriously." ha! he was right though. that little dude can go after some food.^^

^^i had grand plans of the week being screen-free. i imagined willa running wild and free around my parents' large yard for hours on end. things didn't pan out to be exactly that idyllic, but we truly did enjoy a lot of time outside. willa loved the huge yard, and definitely got her feet nice and dirty every single day. one morning it poured rain, and we both had a ton of fun running up and down the driveway.^^

^^we hit up the wild center in tupper lake one day, and it was definitely worth the drive. what a cool place! it was a hot day, and quite crowded, but we still enjoyed seeing some of the indoor displays and checking out the wild walk.^^

^^more swimming! we went to the town beach one day, and expected to only stay for a short bit, but willa enjoyed it so much that we were there for over 3 hours! she's still wasn't much into swimming, but she loved playing with the water and sand, and also made friends with some of the other kids there. it's funny how having kids gives you a whole new perspective on places. i've been home so many times in the past 10 years but never thought of going to the beach until this trip!^^

^^thank you, mom and dad, for hosting us for such a wonderful week! it was crazy and chaotic, but also incredibly meaningful and memorable. we love you.^^

fathers' days

It's been a busy month. A festive month. A really good month. My mom was here on her birthday. Then came Willa's birthday! And then, last weekend, thanks to a variety of forces coming together, my family was all in town for Father's Day. We did it up on Saturday and Sunday with a baseball game, a brewery trip, dinner at our favorite Malaysian restaurant, and lots of laughs.

When you don't live in the same place as family, the time they take to come visit is so special. It can sometimes be overwhelming to pack a lot in to a short time, but the memories we make are something I truly cherish. As Willa's getting older and understanding more, I hope she, too, forms her own memories that she can hang on to. I know she will. (It seems unlikely this blog will be around for her to look back on...but who knows where the future internet will go?) She has such a wonderful time with the family and friends who come to visit, but she's just now starting to to comprehend that they have to leave. It's hard when good times come to an end. Life lessons, I suppose?

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^^parents!^^

^^future uncle jakob is an amazing child/toddler/baby holder (jackpot!). here he is showing willa the baseball stadium.^^

^^ball parks offer overpriced beverages for everyone.^^

^^love this shot.^^

^^willa's working on her photography skillz.^^

^^waiting on the bus. <3^^

^^beer drinking is a good thing to do on father's day, no?^^

^^me and my men.^^

^^lots of fun street art near renegade.^^

^^since there wasn't a food truck at the brewery, we decided to head to one of our all-time favorite eateries: makan malaysian cafe. it's an awesome place to be any day of the week, but on sundays they have "family dinner" options that give you a sampling of several dishes. i'm always a fan of sharing, but it's also definitely the way to go for people unfamiliar with malaysian food.^^

^^willa loved the family-style dining as well. she tried more than usual, including a fish ball. this was supposed to be a fist bump to celebrate, but it turned into some kind of fist bumb cheers combo.^^

^^we rounded out the weekend by waiting in the long line at little man for way too much ice cream. always a good choice. winning! (but seriously, their "single" is about 6 scoops of ice cream. they should revisit their size names.)^^

Huge thanks to everyone involved for such a fun weekend. xo!

choose your own adventure

You know what's great about not having a "regular" job? The flexibility. You know what's super overwhelming? Flexibility.

Pretty much every day I have a long stretch of time without any plans. Hours that can be filled however I want. There are things that need doing: grocery shopping, work, meals, dishes, emails, diaper changes, exercise, laundry... But most of those things don't need to happen at a specific time. I can work out in the morning or in the afternoon. We can go to the park whenever. Willa can nap at noon or 1:30. The grocery store is open all day.

This whole stay-at-home/work part-time thing has been tough for me to master. It's a work in progress. Before Cameron, I felt like I sort of had things down. We'd go out and do something in the morning, and then come home for lunch and naptime. Even if we didn't get out the door first thing, we still had time to do something. But now, Cameron naps mid-morning and so it sometimes feels like I'm being held hostage in the house with my almost-three year old. Good times. Notsomuch.

This summer, I need to figure out a bit more of a schedule. I need to be the driver of our time. It is wonderful to be able to design our days just how we want them, but it's not without challenges. Sometimes it feels like the day slips away from me. I'm totally okay with staying home and not doing much, but I want it to be an intentional choice.

Here some reminders for myself as I work to achieve a more scheduled life that balances work and play. Maybe you have some pointers too?

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Have a plan. So simple. So obvious. Yet hard to execute. The days we have a plan and somewhere to be at a certain time, we get ourselves there. The days that are open-ended are when we sometimes get a bit cranky. Even when I don't have an obligation or scheduled meet-up with a friend, it helps immensely if I make my own schedule ahead of time. I'm working on a "bucket list" for the summer to make sure we get to all the things I want to do.

Make use of small blocks of time. Don't underestimate the short or simple outing. Everyone's mood gets so much better with a little fresh air and stimulation from the outside world. But, I tend to overestimate how much time it takes to do things, so often I don't go somewhere because I don't think there's enough time. It's good to remember that a quick outing can be quite restorative, so squeeze something in between naps or whenever you can!

Ditch the schedule. But only sometimes. My kids like to nap in their beds. I'm not sure if it's their nature or something we've fostered, but they don't sleep very well in strollers, carseats, etc. As a result, I have a love-hate relationship with naptime. I love the break it gives me but I sometimes hate having to be home for it to happen. It's good to throw naptime to the wind occasionally. This lets you have the whole day to do whatever you want. Sometimes this totally backfires and you've got meltdown madness on your hands. But usually everyone adjusts. It's important for everyone to learn/remember to be flexible.

Do things you enjoy doing. Since becoming a mom, particularly a mom who is primarily at home, I've felt a lot of pressure to do certain activities. "Kid-friendly" things. Many of those things are a lot of fun. But some of them aren't. At least not for me. But what I want to do is constantly changing. There are things that sound fun today that last year I swore I'd never do. I try to remind myself that there are many ways to raise kids, and children can benefit from a wide range of experiences, so it's okay to just do what you want to do.

Be gentle with yourself. I'm working on this one. I try not to stress too much if I forget something or am a bit late to meet someone. I do the best I can, but things are hard enough without beating myself up. Yes, I try to remember the sunscreen. But if I forget it, we'll find some shade and everyone will be okay.

Use television strategically and sparingly. I don't have a real issue with kids watching TV, and I certainly make full use of our Netflix subscribtion. However, I've noticed that the more shows Willa watches, the grumpier she is afterwards. With summer coming, I need to remember that playing outside is much better for everyone. I want to try to limit our "screen time" (mine too!). I hope to reserve shows and movies for times we can cozy up on the couch together to enjoy the experience.

Slow down. As much as I enjoy doing things, it can be equally important and beneficial to stay at home or to just walk around the block aimlessly. I can be nice to just let the day unfold as it will. Some of the best memories can be made when you aren't trying too hard.

four days in florida

Cam and I went to Florida last week! We took a red-eye! We survived! We went to the beach! We ate key lime pie! It was fantastic. The trip that is. But the pie was, too.

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^^photo credit: alli^^

My dearest friend Alli had a baby in February, so I'd been planning to make a trip to Minneapolis to meet lil Charlie, but she and her parents were kind enough to invite me to their place in Fort Myers instead. I love Minneapolis, but who could say no to some Florida sunshine? Frontier is kind enough to have a direct flight from DIA to Southwest Florida International Airport at the worst times imaginable, and I'll do anything for Alli and also not to have a connection, so I signed us up. It was fun to travel with just Cameron, and I must admit I was much less nervous for this first flight of his than I was when I took Willa on hers at around the same age! Of course I missed the other half of our family, but I was happy to have a few days of just girls + babies.

^^11:55pm at DIA. i put him to bed at 7pm so he could sleep until we left for the airport at 9:30. he then took another snooze in my arms at the gate around 10:30, but woke up excited to hear we had a 30 minute delay. as he smiled and squirmed around on the floor at our gate, several people looked on. i decided to tell myself that they were marveling at his cuteness rather than judging me for putting my baby on the dirty floor. but when you have 4 hours ahead of you on a plane with a lap infant, you gotta rest your arms while you can!^^

^^arrived! happy to meet his new best bud charlie.^^

^^on our first morning, we hit up a farmers' market. florida style: in a parking lot at a mall. i did, however, get a smoothie that hit the spot like nothing else. what is it about fruit juice in hot weather? so good.^^

^^aquatic facilities + cam's first swim!^^

^^dudes in hanna andersson pjs enjoying some back time with orange toys.^^

^^indoor/outdoor living is the best.^^

^^even bigger aquatic facilities + another dip.^^

^^we made a trip to barefoot beach. i was in heaven. cam was unsure about the water. but he did enjoy a long nap to the sound of the waves.^^

^^i can never get enough of tropical vegetation. or rodes key lime pie. we bought it on my last night there, so i of course ate 4 pieces.^^

^^cam figured he should test out the carpet at southwest florida airport too. you can see on his face that he was a bit bummed about going home though. or maybe that's because it was 6am. i was happily drinking a $6 starbucks latte to energize myself for the flight home.^^