Please Excuse the Hiatus, Blame the Moving!

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Well, we did it! We moved to California! And in the craziest way possible… We tend to like to do moves as quickly and cheaply as possible. And when I say quick, I mean Jd accepted the job on a Friday, and we had movers come the following Friday!!! Not only that, but we moved out here without a place to live, and parked the moving van in the hotel parking lot while we found an apartment. But that’s how we do it, yo.

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Three days after arriving, we had ourselves an apartment. And let me tell you, its pretty great… It’s a third floor walk-up, but we actually volunteered to live on the third floor. We thought about it a lot and realized that one of the main complaints about apartment living is the noisy upstairs neighbors. So we decided to mitigate this by actually being the noisy upstairs neighbors. It has a great layout too, nice and open. And coming in at 1052 sqft of space, we are actually living pretty large! We definitely downsized from the house we had in Colorado, but it was refreshing to get rid of all of that stuff!

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(How we eat breakfast on move-in day!)

We gave away multiple carloads of random stuff before we ever left Colorado, and even got rid of a decent amount of furniture, namely our couch (which was huge and would have dominated any apartment livingroom). That’s how to do a move for sure, purge purge purge. And we still have some stuff to get rid of here… Most of what we gave up in moving to a smaller space is storage, so I’m having to get pretty creative with where everything is going. I didn’t want to move across the country to an “itty bitty living space” (bonus points if you can name that movie!) just to fill our new apartment with loads of stuff and be cluttered from day one!

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One of the saddest things we had to get rid of was Jd’s charcoal grill. I gave it to him for a wedding/Christmas gift right after we got married, but CA doesn’t allow charcoal grills at apartment complexes. So that got tossed on move-in day. :(

After moving in (with the help of movers) the first order of business was couch shopping! And I love what we came home with. I had done lots of prior research knowing that we would be getting rid of our couch and saw lots of great reviews of the Ikea Karlstad couch. My favorite bloggers over at YHL brought home “Karl” a few years ago, and it has held up quite nicely to a munchkin and a chihuahua so we thought we would give it a try.

that just might be amazing… Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share all the details!

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After some debate, we decided to go with the Karlstad in Isunda Gray. It is a very light gray color, that almost looks like a pale denim. But it looks fantastic in our new place! I love how light it feels instead of being dark and heavy. Now to decorate the rest of the room… I have visions of a large navy all-natural fiber rug with some type of geometric pattern. And for the curtains, I have an idea that would be super awesome…. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share all of the details! Your clue is: stencils.

Tuesday Grace Letters: Dear Aunt Mary Ann

The incredible Kara Tippets, from Mundane Faithfulness, is hosting her weekly Tuesday Grace Letters. This week our assignment is to write a letter to someone who has made a difference in our story. Someone who has changed our tomorrows, loved us well and taught us about life. I am very blessed to be able to say that I have many of these people in my life. I have said this before, and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last time. I have been given several “mommies” in my life. In each season of my life, God has provided someone to be there for me and to be my “mommy”. This has meant more to me than I can ever say. Ladies, thank you. I sincerely hope you know who you are. But there is one very special and dear lady that stands out.

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My dearest Aunt Mary Ann,

Over the past several years, you have taught me so much. You have loved me so very well. I cannot possibly begin to say how much it has meant to me. You have given me the gift of a godly example for motherhood. Entering into motherhood is a challenge under any normal circumstance. It is just hard. And in the midst of that hard, you have supported me, challenged me, and shown me how to give grace to myself and my family.

When I was a senior in college, we had a professor talk to us about our futures and where our lives were heading. She told us about this nurse she had admired when she was younger and that woman directed the path she decided to take in life. She then instructed us to think of someone we admired, who inspired us. Someone we wanted to aspire to be like.

My first thought was you, Aunt Mary Ann. I didn’t think of a nurse, professor, professional, athlete, doctor or any other “inspiring” professional. I thought of you. Married young (like me), nurse (like me), and mother of seven. Seven!!! You gave up your nursing careeer early in life to be a mother to your children and wife to your husband. To be one of the most loving and selfless women and mothers I have ever met. This is what I wanted for my life. I was a senior, supposed to be focused on my amazing nursing career I would have, the 20 years in the workforce taking care of others and being a nurse for the rest of my life.

And all I could think of was you. The way you cared for your family. The mother you are. The way you love your husband well. The godly woman you are. The example of stability you provide. And that is what I want for myself. For my husband. For my children. To be able to love my children as you have. To be able to learn more from you in the years to come. To call you and cry to you when I’m hurting and don’t know where God is taking our lives. And to hear once again how God is providing for my family, how much He loves us, and that I can do this.

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You have supported me and loved me well through so much hard. Motherhood has made me face some of my deepest insecurites. I think that is the real challenge of motherhood. It’s not the sleepless nights, or the crying babies. It’s not the time management (or lack thereof) or the cooking and cleaning. It’s not the diapers and the laundry. It’s facing the insecurities you thought were locked deep inside but have suddenly come to light.

One of my deepest insecurities was wrapped up in the name “mama”. As you know, my relationship with my own mom is pretty broken right now. I truly pray that God will one day restore this, but for now it is broken. And for a long time the words “mom”, “mama” and especiallly “mother” put a bad taste in my mouth.

For Christmas right after Eden was born (she was only two months old) my sweet sister-in-law gave Eden and I beautiful, matching engraved jewelry boxes. Hers was inscribed with “Eden” on the top, and mine “mamma”. And I didn’t like mine. (Whitney, if you are reading this, don’t stop yet!!) This is hard, even now, to write and admit. But I didn’t like that mine said “mamma”. Because I had this bad taste in my mouth. Aunt Mary Ann, I remember crying to you at some point about how I just couldn’t handle being called “mama”. I liked “mommy” because it was endearing and sweet. But not “mama”. It is a remarkably difficult thing to be faced with something like this. Babies can’t pronounce “mommy” very early. They start with “mama” because it is easier to say. And I cried about that very idea and not wanting my precious baby to call me that.

And then a few things happened over a little bit of time. I heard your girls, my cousins, just calling you “mama”. It wasn’t negative or anything like that. It just was. And then I heard my hubby calling his mom “mother” (in my mind, the worst). But it wasn’t bad or insulting. He said it endearingly. And this helped to soften my heart. Soften me towards my own mom as well as myself. The first time I heard Eden utter the word “mama” I was elated! I now love to hear her call to “mama”!! And the jewelry box makes me smile at what a sweet gift it is. I love being Mama. What a relief! What a gift of grace and love!

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Mary Ann, you have also taught me how to show myself grace and my family love in my home. The whole reason I started this blog was to journal my misadventures in mommyhood. To share my struggle with cleaning and maintaining a home with others. And you have held my hand, hugged me, and cried with me as I have struggled with this. Just the other day I found myself asking you how you fold laundry! Haha, such a basic skill in life but I need pointers! And you graciously invited me to your home for a laundry lesson. (Seriously, let’s schedule that…)

You have helped me to understand how to better take care of and love Jd. How to pray for him and support him. How to be a godly wife and mother. How to raise my children to think and focus on Christ. How to keep my focus on God when I’m stressed about the dishes in the sink and the pile(s) of laundry on my floor. And you have taught me that I honor God by loving my family well. By providing them with a stable and (relatively) organized home. You have shown me what it means to even have stability in a home. That isn’t something I ever really understood, and never would have understood without my mommies.

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So thank you. Thank you for loving me so well. For loving my family so well. For teaching me what it means to be a woman after God’s own heart. For teaching me how to shepherd my family. For teaching me to respect and love my husband well. For showing me grace and teaching me how to give myself grace when I fall flat on my face.

I love you more than I can ever say. I thank God for the relationship we have built. And I can’t wait for my laundry lesson!

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Mundane Faithfulness

Baby Wearing Mama, Pt. 2 The Bjorn

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 (Just check out all of this baby wearing awesomeness!!)

Everyone seemed to really enjoy my last post about baby wearing and trying out the Ergo, so I thought I would write a post about another carrier we have used and loved.

Carrier #2: Baby Bjorn Active

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As you saw in my last post, we started off baby wearing with the baby Bjorn. Most of you have probably heard of this carrier, as it is rather popular. We decided to get the active version because of the great back support and ventilated mesh. One thing we love about the Bjorn, anyone can use it! Once you figure out how to put it on (it’s not too difficult) anyone can wear it by adjusting the straps to fit their body. My hubby has used this carrier plenty of times, and even one of my good (not a mommy) friends has tried it out! This thing has seen TONS of use.

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 (My dear friend, Gayle, trying out the Bjorn!)

One of its best uses has proven to be for plane trips. Moms and babies can avoid body scanners at most airports by going through security baby wearing. Also, it keeps your hands free for suitcases and diaper bags while navigating the airport. Once on the plane, baby is securely strapped to your chest. Although, airlines do require them to be free during take off and landing, but with the Bjorn this is amazingly easy. Even with a sleeping baby, all that was required was unhooking the top strap at the shoulders and letting the bjorn fall open. Eden got to continue sleeping on my chest, and I just re-fastened her once we were in the air. Easy Peasy. Granted it is not the most pleasant thing to have your baby spit up down your shirt while in the Bjorn and confined to an airplane… Cleaning that up was a little tricky! And on several occasions, we were able to ditch toting the stroller with us through the airport, because I could just wear her.

We have also absolutely loved this for hiking. Jd wore her many times, especially when she was smaller, for family outings. And one of our favorite things about the Bjorn when she was this age, was being able to face her out. She loved getting to look out at the scenery and giggle at our dogs while going on hikes. This is definitely a huge bonus for this carrier, and as I mentioned in my last post, one of the main deciding factors for getting this carrier to begin with.

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Another plus to this carrier, you can breastfeed your baby hands-free! It does take some maneuvering and loosening of straps, but once you have it figured out it is fantastic to be able to nurse while, say, walking around the zoo! I’ve done this many times and loved how easy it was to nurse my baby without having to get her out, find a place to sit down, and nurse her instead of being able to continue on with our friends during a zoo playdate. And this also came in handy on some of those plane trips! And with a nursing cover over us, no one is any the wiser :) Happy baby, happy mom.

And these carriers fit pretty much everybody, from dads to moms to friends. A great all around carrier.

My only complaint about the Bjorn (and I was well aware of this when we bought it) is that it can’t be worn on your back. I find that there are pretty much two categories to carriers. Those that can be worn with baby facing in or out, and those that can be worn on your front or back. As I mentioned in my last post, there are a few carriers that have overcome this and can be worn in all configurations (the new bjorn, as well as the Beco gemini). And because the Bjorn can’t be worn on your back, it limits how long you are able to use this with your baby. Once they start getting a bit bigger, it just doesn’t work as well. Its definitely still doable, but personally I prefer this carrier for younger babies.

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 (Loving the outward facing and getting to pet the doggies!)

Rating: B+

This carrier is amazing for small babies. But once they start getting a bit bigger and heavier, I find myself wanting something a bit more substantial.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried and loved the Bjorn? Or didn’t like it from the get go?

P.S. See if you can spot the Bjorn featured in my post about Making Baby Food!

Disclaimer: All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not paid or endorsed in any way to write this review, I just love the product!

Baby Wearing Mama

I know, I know. You are just shocked that I love baby wearing! Now, I’m not quite as religious about it as some people are, but I do love a good baby carrier. And I have quite a few kinds too (more on those later!) But today, I’m going to tell you about my new carrier love.

Carrier #1: Ergo Baby Carrier.

I had a hard time initally picking out a baby carrier. Even when I was pregnant (well if I’m honest, before I ever got pregnant) I knew I would want some type of baby carrier. I just didn’t know what kind. So during my pregnancy, the search began. At the time I really wanted a carrier where baby could face away from your body. I’m not entirely sure why this was such a priority, but it was my main one. And of course, I wanted good back support. So we went with the Baby Bjorn. Specifically, the Baby Bjorn Active.

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(Eden, 6 days old, being worn around the neighborhood at Halloween)

And we loved it. It served us very well for quite a long time. And with Eden being as tiny as she was, weighing in at only 5lb 11oz, it fit her really well also. But the downside to this particular carrier, is that it can only be worn with baby in front, not on your back. Although, Baby Bjorn does apparently have a new carrier that allows baby to be worn front or back, inward or outward facing (but this one is pretty new). So now that she is 15 months old and about 18lb, I found myself wanting to be able to carry her on my back.

We made do with the bjorn, baby slings, and a Moby Wrap for a nice long time, all of which I absolutely loved but for different reasons (more on that later!)

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 (Sick days with mama, loving the Moby wrap)

But recently I have really been searching for a little more…

So I went to my favorite cloth diaper store, Baby Cotton Bottoms, to try on various carriers. They pointed me to the Beco Soleil Carrier which felt amazing on. This carrier boasts a 7-45lb weight range and nice padded straps with a few other amenities. But for me personally, it had a fairly major drawback. I’m a petite woman, and it just didn’t fit my frame. The waist strap fit fine, but the shoulder straps couldn’t be adjusted to fit my small torso, a problem BCB has been noticing with smaller women. Beco does have another carrier that would have fit me better, but the weight range only went up to 35lb, and I wanted something that worked well for a bigger baby.

Shanda, at BCB, helped me try on the Beco Soleil and then the Ergo, telling me about how much they love both of these for older and bigger babies. Well, after trying on both of them I was convinced, but still not a huge fan of the $130 price tag. Fortunately, I’m not afraid to buy things a little used to get a great deal! I looked around on Craigslist, Varagesale, and a mommy group on facebook before finding one I really liked. Ultimately, I went with a Petunia Pickle Bottom print Ergo carrier. And I love it!!! I have already used it several times just around the house when Eden was feeling fussy. She is so comfortable back there, and I love being able to have her on my back. It is just so much more comfortable for me, and especially for my back (which is currently healing from carrying her wrong for 12mo… oops).

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 (Testing out the Ergo)

Also, I should mention one of the downsides to the Ergo. When they are infants, you do have to have the infant insert since they are so tiny. They recommend using the infant insert for babies from 7-9lb, and under 4 months. But at $25 that isn’t too bad.

Rating: A-

My main drawback really is that baby can’t face outwards. And Eden really loves being able to look out at the world! Also, the necessity of the infant insert isn’t my favorite thing. But I’m sure whenever we have baby #2, I will be headed straight to the store to pick one up!

And just for fun, lets take a look at how adorable these two are going skiing together! (This is a carrier we borrowed so Jd could take her down the slopes at Loveland, thanks Whit!) And can you believe it?! They went blue runs the whole way! Had she actually had a nap that day and not been exhausted, I think she would have loved it. As it was, she seemed pretty content :) The most nerve wracking part was being on the lift….

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 (Skiing with dad!!!)

Disclaimer: All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not paid or endorsed in any way to write this review, I just love the product!

I hate New Years Resolutions. And Here’s My Alternative.

So I recently read a blog post about not having New Years Resolutions, but rather having a word to describe your upcoming year. I like this idea immensely. I really hate New Years Resolutions, mainly because for me they are always an epic failure. I’m just plain terrible at actually following through on something like this. So I have come up with my word for 2014.

Intentional – done by intention or design (per merriam-webster.com).

I am definitely not always the best at being intentional about things. Things that matter. Like taking care of my house, or going to exercise. But this is my goal, or if I may, my intention for this year. I want to be more focused and present. Some of the synonyms definitely get at my goal here: conscious, deliberate, purposeful, intended. I think this speaks to the number one way I want to improve myself.

I want, no, I need to be more intentional in my life. So here goes. To 2014, and being intentional.

Cheers.

 

P.S. Lets not think about the fact that I have been “intending” on writing this post for oh, about 13 days now. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Eden’s First Birthday Party!!!

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So we are all aware that the first birthday party, while a big deal, is really all for the mom. I decided to just embrace this fact. Keep in mind, that after this, Eden will actually have some opinions in the matter. This one is the only birthday party that I really get to hijack and make all my own. And it was amazing.

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As many of you know, I am a huge Phantom of the Opera fan. My dad took me to see it for the first time when I was 11, and I have been in love ever since. In fact, Music of the Night was the first song Eden ever heard. I played it for her in utero and even had the album playing in the delivery room (after I got the epidural and just wanted some rest). I also play it for her sometimes to help her go to sleep (especially during the really terrible reflux nights…) So it was only fitting that she have a Phantom of the Opera themed First Birthday Party. Complete with candles everywhere.

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And since we are already embracing the fact that this party is really for me, I decided it should be a Masquerade Ball. Yep. Completely over the top, and wholeheartedly unnecessary. I accept this.

My inspiration for the colors and decor came from the Masquerade scene from the musical, and decided to go with black, silver, gold and pale pink for the colors.

One of my favorite party things ever is a photo booth (clearly very popular right now) and since it was a Masquerade Ball, it was only fitting that everyone get to make their own mask at the party. Mine clearly had to be outstanding, so I made mine a week or so before the party. Ornate and over the top, coming right up! I went on Pinterest to find a few ideas for centerpieces and masks.

The centerpiece for the table I made using a wine bottle, gold spray paint, pink tulle and lots of frilly things. Jd made all of the food for a French theme with beef wellington bites, spinach artichoke dip, and some delicious cupcakes for dessert! He also put together a pitcher full of our favorite drink, the Gin Gin Mule. So tasty… I had great fun arranging all of the champagne glasses with little pink tulle bows on them :)

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For the guest masks, I kept it simple. Just a handful of assorted colored basic masks. To decorate, guests had the option of using metallic sharpies, feathers, sequins, and glitter.

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The photo booth was a huge hit and so simple. We hung a big black table cloth as a backdrop, and added a frame that my friend gave me and I spray painted gold. Add a few feather boas and personalized masks, and you have a photo booth!

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Eden adored her frilly gold dress! She just loved prancing around in it and playing with the skirt.

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And she loved having all of her little friends there to play with. They were just adorable!

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You can’t have a first birthday party without a cupcake smash…

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 And here are a few more pictures from the evening for you to enjoy!

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Moms Can Climb Mountains Too…

So, I am quite the delinquent and owe you a post on my baby free adventures! For my first night away from Miss Eden, I decided to go climb a fourteener. In the snow. Yup.

I had the idea a little while back that just because I couldn’t go backpacking with Jd, didn’t mean I coudn’t go. I just couldn’t take him and the baby. So I thought to myself, “Self? Who likes to hike and camp and stuff? Caitlin. Caitlin absolutely likes these things.” So Caitlin and I decided to take a girls only camping trip.

We chose Mt. Beirstadt because we had heard good things about this mountain and its gorgeous climb. And it randomly turned out that some friends of hers from college had been wanting to do a girls trip too. So we got our little gang together, Caitlin and her friends Rachel, Jacquie and Meghan, me and my friend Alice and headed towards the mountain.

As we are driving out there, the wind is picking up, the temperatures are dropping, and its starting to snow. Now I am thinking to myself, “Self. This was a terrible idea.” We get to the campsite after dark, and have a few beers and some delicious smores. Now time to set up the tents. Rachel and Jacquie had already been there since the afternoon (they met us coming from Denver) so they already had their tent all set up. As Alice and I are setting up our tent, I had a super awesome realization. I forgot the tent poles. Fail. Fortunately, we were car camping not backpacking, and Jacquie and Rachel had plenty of room in their tent. Alice and Megan bunked together, me in the other tent, and Caitlin in her truck camper shell with her furry companion, Bonzo.

The next morning, we all got up for some breakfast and lukewarm coffee and then headed to conquer the mountain.

Mt. Bierstadt herself.
(Photo crediit goes to Caitlin)

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Be sure to note this little lake, you will see it again later…

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The climb was just gorgeous. Bonzo was a great help to a few of the girls, helping pull them up the mountain :)

Now, if you get a group of girls together for an overnight camping trip, awkward moments are most certainly going to happen. Especially if you bring along a breastfeeding mother. So, if this is TMI for you, just go ahead and skip to the bottom ;) Since climbing the mountain took pretty much all day, I ended up needing to pump on the side of the mountain. In freezing weather. With plenty of other people also climbing the same mountain. So, I did the best I could, and went to hide beside a boulder. Fortunately, I had a hand pump and had brought along an army chick, who provided me with this lovely camo blanket to hide behind. Caitlin didn’t really help much, yelling up to me and drawing plenty of attention from fellow hikers to the awkwardness that was that mom moment. It was so amazingly awkward, I insisted on a photo. The things I do for my daughter :) I may or may not be a bit proud of this dedication to breastfeeding…

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For the record, it was bitterly cold.

But, after several hours of climbing, we made it to the top! And the views were spectacular.

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Totally worth all the hard work put into getting there. So here are a few shots for you from the summit, look closely for that little lake! Just beyond that is the parking lot where we started!

Photos courtesy of Caitlin, my phone coudn’t handle the cold lol

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And now, for the long road down. Personally, I think the downhill can actually be harder. It is far more demanding on the joints of your body… Everyone’s knees were pretty much dying by the time we got back to our cars. And because we all love picutres, here are a few shots of our little group from the hike… Again, these are from Caitlin…

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It was pretty much an amazing trip. Great group of girls, and gorgeous scenery. How can you go wrong?!

Baby-free Adventures

So today I am leaving Eden for the first night ever! I am going on a girls only camping trip this evening, and we will be hiking the 14er Mt. Bierstadt in the morning. And I am so excited!!

I have left Eden on the very capable hands of her amazing daddy. And I can honestly say, that as of this moment, I’m not nervous at all. Just excited. I know they will have a great time together, and I get to have some much needed me time.

I’m hoping for some snores and beer tonight, since we will be more car camping than backpacking. And stopping at Tommy Knockers Brewery on the way home! I love that place…

When was the first time you left your little one for the night? Were you nervous or mainly excited?

I’ll update you on the trip and how everything goes when I get back! Until then, happy trails!

Family Hikes

So lately, our little family has taken to going on a weekly hike. It has been so much fun! We load up our dogs and baby in the jeep, and go find somewhere to explore. Our recent favorite has been to Stratton Open Space near Cheyenne Mountain. This has been such an easy access hike, and it has a reservoir we hike up to. The reservoir is great fun because the dogs can get in and swim around.

Well, I say swim… really our dogs are terrible at swimming. It is hilarious, actually. Cooper is more brave, so he gets in fairly deep to go retrieve whatever stick Jd has thrown for him, but he doesn’t like swimming, so he tries to stand on his back legs in the water. Eden laughs hysterically at him haha

And then Willow is sneaky. So she waits until Cooper is close to the shore, and tired, so she can take the stick from him! We are undecided as to whether it is her trying to be a team player or take credit for retrieving the stick even though Cooper did the work. The latter, I think…

This past Monday, we found a new hike up by Upper Gold Camp road. It wound back closer to the mountain, and along a creek. It was so much fun to get back in the woods and explore! Eden just loves going on our hikes. She thinks it is great fun to watch the dogs run around like crazy (we try to go where we can let them off leash) and the dogs get to work off their energy. I must say, since we have been getting the dogs out for weekly hikes and runs, they have been so much better behaved! There is a clear difference between a happy, tired Cooper and Willow, and a bored and destructive Cooper and Willow….

And Eden is happy as a lark in the baby bjorn, just talking away! I hope to upgrade to a carrier backpack soon, I’ll keep you updated on that purchase!

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