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!^^

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.^^

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.

DSC00948

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.

DSC00958

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.

DSC00960

IMG_3194

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.

DSC00917

//

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.

DSC00825

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!

DSC00813

DSC00817

DSC00811

DSC00818

//

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.

DSC00923

DSC00939

//

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.

DSC01083

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!

DSC01089

DSC01087

DSC01086

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.

DSC01104

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!).

//

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!)

DSC00847

DSC00846

DSC00857

//

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.

DSC00986

DSC00964

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!

DSC01143

DSC01159

//

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.

IMG_3235

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.

//

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.

DSC00756

Salud, amigos!

mexico :: what we packed

When it comes to packing for recent trips, I've felt like a fish trying to swim upstream. I try so hard to pack minimally, but still we end up taking what feels like WAYYYYY too much stuff. Usually, I blame carseats. When we were planning a family vacation for 2016, our first thought was to do a trip entirely without carseats. We thought through a lot of itineraries, but couldn't come up with one that made sense for us. When we decided to go to Tulum, we pondered whether or not we could make the trip work without a car, but in the end we opted for a rental car. It was the right choice.

But still, even with the carseats, packing light had to happen. How much do you really need for a beach vacation anyway? I was thankful I could reference what we'd taken to Costa Rica a couple years back, and I tried to pack even a bit less since this trip was shorter and we had to use the same size suitcase for one extra human. So anyway, here's what we brought (minus Dan's clothes, but he packed about the same as I did, perhaps a tad less).  This list is mostly for my reference in the future, but maybe someone out there will find it useful, too?

willa's clothes
2 pair leggings
1 pair shorts
2 tank tops
2 t-shirts
2 dresses
1 beach cover-up
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 swim shirt
3 bathing suits
1 pair sandals
1 pair moccasins
2 pair socks
1 sunhat
1 pair sunglasses

cameron's clothes
1 pair pants
2 pair shorts
1 full-piece pjs
1 long-sleeved onesie
1 long-sleeved shirt
2 t-shirts
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 tank top
2 swim diapers
1 swim shirt
1 pair sandals
1 pair moccasins
1 pair socks
1 sunhat

toys + other kid items
Cheer Bear
3 books folder of coloring/art materials
2 matchbox cars
2 stacking cups
2 small plastic spoons (for sand play)
1 small ball
AquaDoodle
1 book of puzzles
1 BrainQuest
1 pair earphones
kids' camera
Ergo
Solly Baby Wrap
2 life jackets
2 carseats
1 travel crib

my clothes
2 short dresses
1 pair lightweight pants ("vacation pants!")
1 pair cropped legging
2 pairs shorts
2 t-shirts
1 lightweight cardigan
1 long-sleeved shirt
3 tank tops
1 beach cover-up
3 bikinis
1 swim shirt
1 sports bra
1 regular bra
2 pairs socks
1 pair running shoes
1 pair flip flops
1 sunhat
1 pair sunglasses

non-clothing items
2 bags of toiletries (lots of sunscreen; minimal make-up)
laundry soap
travel knife
12 Lärabars
fruit leather
canvas bag
4 water bottles
2 snack containers (plus a few we used as sand toys and then recycled there)
Steripen to purify water
2 books
2 magazines
2 iPhones + 1 charger
iPad + 1 charger
1 camera
2 headlamps

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.^^

IMG_2537

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.^^

IMG_2555

IMG_2558

IMG_2581

DSC00679

DSC00676

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

doughnuts! donuts! in los angeles!

To start, apologies for the grammatical situation in this post's title. When it comes to two acceptable spellings of a word, you're supposed to pick one and stick to it. But I have trouble doing that with the word "donuts." Because, you see, even if I pick one, then I'm going to go eat donuts at a place like Sidecar Doughnuts (or Johnny Doughnuts!) and there I've gone and contradicted myself. Just one of my many donut problems. That's not really the point, though. What I want to tell you about is: Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica. We went while we were in Los Angeles in January, and it was phenomenal. So good!

Before our trip, I'd researched donut places in Los Angeles, and didn't come up with much. (It's highly likely that I was interrupted by one of our smaller family members and then didn't get a chance to resume my search.) I'd heard about a place in Koreatown, but as soon as I saw a picture of a donut with Fruit Loops on it, I was out. When our plane touched down at LAX, I didn't have a donut shop on our agenda.

But. Driving from the airport to my brother-in-law's place in Santa Monica, we happened past Sidecar Doughnuts. It looked legit. A quick internet search returned promising results. A few mornings later, we found ourselves there at 7am. (They open at 6:30. Plus one for them. Early opening time is high on my extensive list of donut-shop criteria.)

DSC00531
DSC00531
DSC00550
DSC00550
DSC00532
DSC00532

I probably should create my own donut-rating system, but let's save that for another day. For now I'll just say these are solid donuts. Lots of options of both the cake and yeasted varieties. Their flavors bordered on what I'd deem too dessert-like, but stayed mostly in safe territory. Their "daily" options were a good bet, while the monthly specialities seemed to get a bit fancier (sweeter). The Saigon Cinnamon Crumb and the Huckleberry were my favorites.

DSC00540
DSC00540
DSC00541
DSC00541

They have two locations in Los Angeles, so if you're ever there, check them out! Also, Stumptown Roasters coffee. Nuff said.

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!^^

DSC00581
DSC00581

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

burmatown, california

Last month, I went on a trip ALL BY MYSELF to California. I was there for some work stuff, but also as a mini vacation and a chance to spend time with family.  And I was so lucky: they really made sure I had a fun and restful stay. On my first night there, they took me to Burmatown in Corte Madera.

dsc09745.jpg

Obviously, I love an Asian restaurant! And San Francisco boasts numerous exceptional ones. During a previous visit, we went to Burma Superstar in the city, but I dare say Burmatown was better. It was sensational. From the ambiance to the food, everything was divine. The service was exceptional too. And the tea leaf salad! Who doesn't love tea leaf salad? Well if you haven't had one, you probably don't know you love it...But you should try it. Preferable this one. (Although I imagine one in Burma would probably be pretty darn good too...)

Anyway! Everything about Burmatown was delightful. Perhaps I was influenced by the profound enjoyment of dining without little kids to wrangle. But, it doesn't really matter. A fantastic eating experienced is colored by several factors, and the stars all aligned that night. Thanks so much R + B for such a wonderful dinner and visit!

a cape cod wedding!

After our fun time in Boston, we made our way out to Cape Cod for MY SISTER'S WEDDING. They'd decided to get married in Truro, Massachusetts. (Side note: why is Massachusetts so hard to spell? Seriously. It is so hard.) We were delighted to stay in a big house my parents rented in Truro. It was so fun to all be together in an old Cape Cod house. The house was a bit quirky, but delightful and roomy. The kids each had their own room, as did the adults. And it had an outdoor shower! And a beautiful view of the water. What more could one want?

The wedding was on Saturday, but the days prior to that there we lots of festivities. Family dinners, a bachelor party, a bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, etc. etc. SO MUCH FUN.

I am so happy for my sister, and so grateful for the chance we had to make so many family memories. It was truly a trip to remember.

^^en route from boston we stopped in plymouth to eat some bahn mi sandwiches and to take in some american history. it was difficult to get this shot because so many people were waiting to pose in front of the mayflower II!^^

^^as soon as we arrived in truro, we checked out the wedding venue. gorgeous. also, i like overexposed photos!^^

^^the first night in town we had a dinner with the bride and groom's families. it was also my dad's birthday. cam was a bit of handful but then he won over the crowd with his coy smiles. that boy!^^

^^love.^^

^^cape code beaches. sand dune hiking. family time.^^

^^rehearsal. willa was on it.^^

^^rehearsal dinner! willa ate a ton of fried clams. dan ate two lobsters. we all had fun.^^

^^woo hoo! wedding day!^^

Alison and Jakob have tons of beautiful pictures from their special day, but those are theirs to share, not mine. It was such a special day. Everything was perfect. They were so happy; and we were so happy for them. I feel so lucky to have been a part of their day, and we are so happy to welcome Jakob into our family. And on top of all that, they live in Denver! Down the street! How did we get so lucky? Life is good.

urban adventures in boston

Oh my goodness I have been so terrible at blogging lately. Where have I been? What have I been doing? I'm not sure. Or, I kind of know, but I best go through my pictures and get it DOCUMENTED so I can remember. Thus the need for my blogging. So let's start with the highlight of the fall: late last month, we flew east for my sister's wedding! The festivities were on Cape Cod, but we added on some time in Boston to visit friends and to have a little family vacay.

^^for our first few days, we stayed with our friends rachel and rob in southie. we wasted no time inside, and hit the streets our first morning there. first notable sight: this oddly skinny building.^^

^^it was late september, but boston was bringin' it with the heat. luckily in these photos you mainly take in the blue sky. it was quite pretty. i'm always a sucker for art installations amid skyscrapers. and WATER! living in denver makes me appreciate water so much more than i ever did when it was near.^^

^^LOOK! my children are sleeping! in a restaurant! that had NEVER happened before. yet it always seems to happen to the moms who live in cities whose blogs i read. so, apparently, when you hoof it around the city all day, your children are apt to fall asleep. and they stayed asleep as we found our table at the barking crab and started in on a beer. cheers to that!^^

^^did i mention water!? after our day walking around the city, we headed down to the beach for grilling and dinner al fresco. willa loved checking out the beach, and rachel and rob made some delicious chuar!

^^i have whined in the past about my kids being challenging while traveling. but i also try to toot their horns when they've been great. this trip, they were TROOPERS. they dealt with the different places and schedules and people and lack of routine like champs. i was so proud of them! and proud of our parenting too.^^

^^we arrived in boston on a thursday. on saturday, my sister got to town FOR HER WEDDING. but up first on her agenda? babysitting for us so we could go to oysterfest! she is the best. and oysterfest was a fun event! i was definitely satiated and then some. the hama hama oysters were the best hands down if i do say so myself. and the duck khao soi dish from jamie bissonnette was my favorite dish we sampled. obvi.^^

^^next day, we made our way to the north end to get in touch with dan's roots. i mean, to get some italian sandwiches. we went to monica's mercato & salumeria, which did not disappoint. we did, however, learn that it's a good idea to order ahead! they clearly take sandwich making very seriously, which i appreciate, but that takes time.^^

^^we were lucky enough to spend a few nights staying smack dab in the center of the city, and had fun exploring boston commons, newbury street, and more. there was, of course, a lot of eating. you can never go wrong with a georgetown cupcake.^^

^^GIRLS' NIGHT! fancy drinks at townsman followed by some lovely generic international lager with hot pot!^^

^^since we've been home, willa's been talking a lot about wanting to go back to the east coast so she can ride the subway. and she wants to know why denver doesn't have a subway (me, too, sista!). so clearly the day we took the T to cambridge made a big impression on her. i had fun too. i saw MIT for the first time which was really impressive! such a different vibe than harvard.^^

^^we are going to round out the memories of our urban fun in boston with this series. let's call it "willa happily devours a talenti ice cream bar in broad daylight. while wearing socks and sandals."^^

SUCH A FUN WEEK! THANKS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT SO GREAT!

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.^^