December Festive Family To-do List

Today is the last day of November which for us was a month packed with travel and celebration. I think I basically checked off all my festive to-do items for the month:

  • We loved traveling to New York! We walked and walked around the city and of course never ran out of things to see.
  • We celebrated Cecy’s birthday in New York and with more family when we got back home to Kansas City.  We wanted to keep it simple, but we sure spread out the fun and she loved opening presents, looking at her cards and decorations, and eating cake.

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  • We went to Springfield, MO which is my husband’s home town and where we both went to college.  The day before Thanksgiving (Wild Turkey Wednesday) we went out with friends to Missouri Spirits which is a ‘spirit house’ with handcrafted drinks using fresh local ingredients.
  • I made a cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I found the recipe from William Sonoma, but changed it a little bit:
Ingredients:
half an orange
granny smith apple
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
In sauce pan add the apples after you peel and dice them. Next add juice from your orange and zest from the orange peel. Add cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes. This will make your kitchen smell amazing!
  • #OptOutside Black Friday – we had to postpone our outside fun for a day because we are dealing with icy rain, but on Saturday evening we bundled up and went to the Overland Park Arboretum’s Holiday Luminary Walk. We enjoyed walking through candlelit paths, listening to Christmas carols, and drinking Louisburg Cider. This  event is also taking place on December 4-5!
In December my festive family to-do list includes:
  • Baking holiday cookies
  • Making a homemade gingerbread house
  • Enjoying Christmas lights
  • Snuggling by the fireplace
  • Focusing on giving

 

Walking in a Windy Winter Wonderland

This weekend we headed to Estes Park, Colorado for a quick getaway before the holiday season officially begins.

We bundled up and went on a walk around Lily Lake (one of our favorite kid friendly spots). IMG_3409

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The temperature wasn’t too cold, but we were immediately blasted by strong, frigid winds.  For the first five minutes I wanted to quit, but I’m glad we toughed it out! Soon we were shielded from the wind by trees and Cecy took a nap on her Daddy’s back. We added (less than half a mile) by hiking the Lily Ridge trail for views of the frozen lake with Estes Cone and Longs Peak as the stunning backdrop.

We also took Cecy on her first sledding adventure with a trip to Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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The valley used to be a winter ski destination, but now families use the slopes for sledding. It’s pretty steep for a 1 year old, so we took turns sledding with her down the hill. We also took a couple of turns for ourselves. I forgot how much fun sledding is!

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We bought our sled at the Warming House, an outdoor adventure store in Estes Park.

New York “City Hiking”

This weekend we went to New York to visit my sister-in-law. We were kind of nervous to bring Cecy to such a big city, but she did great!

Her favorite part was playing in Sheep Meadow in Central Park.

Central Park in New York
Central Park in New York

I think she also liked helping her Dad eat a gigantic slice of pizza!

New York Pizza
New York Pizza

And somehow she fell asleep right in the middle of Times Square, which is probably the loudest and most crowded place I’ve ever been to.

Times Square sleeping
Times Square sleeping

We kept walking and walking while she napped. We passed the biggest Macy’s ever, Madison Square Garden, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, West Village and more. Cecy woke up and we all enjoyed a nice break at a pub called Walkers in Tribeca (fitting name for our day of walking!)  We continued our walking tour by the bull on Wall Street and the One World Trade Center all the way to our inexpensive ferry ride which took us to Liberty State Park with views of the evening NY skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

View of NY from Liberty State Park
View of NY from Liberty State Park

What a great first visit to New York!

Festive Family November To-do List

Wow! The month of October was packed full of fun and memorable events.  Not only did we get to cheer on our boys in blue to their first championship in 30 years by going to the longest ever game 1 of the World Series,  I think we completed nearly every item on my ‘festive family to-do list’:

  • We celebrated our German heritage by going to Oktoberfest in Hermann, MO with a great group of friends. Hermann is a beautiful, quaint town by the Missouri River. We appreciated having a baby sitter so we could enjoy the wineries.
  • There are so many great pumpkin patches in the Kansas City area, it was hard to decide which to go to. We finally chose a fundraiser pumpkin patch at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Overland Park, KS. Cecy loved riding in the red wagon with our pumpkins and we loved that our money went to a good cause.
  • I made a pumpkin pie
  • We hosted a Halloween brunch for Cecy’s first birthday which is coming up in November. We invited a few of my best friends who also have little girls. The girls ate pumpkin pancakes, danced to Monster Mash and looked adorable in their Halloween costumes. I think we might make this an annual tradition!
First time trick or treating
First time trick or treating
  • We enjoyed autumn leaves while hiking in Colorado. Cecy also enjoyed stomping on the leaves (she is walking now!) at Leawood City Park in Leawood, KS. We were excited to find this park because the playground was built for toddlers.
  • We missed the parade but enjoyed the festive atmosphere at BearFest Village for Missouri State University’s homecoming.
  • We made a family photo book and I love how it turned out. I bought the personalized book from Lakeshore Learning.
Enjoying October Outdoors
Enjoying October Outdoors

I don’t see how we can beat the fun we had in October, buy we will try. My festive family to-do list this month includes:

  • Visiting Central Park in New York
  • Celebrating Cecy’s first birthday
  • Partaking in Wild Turkey Wednesday
  • Baking something with cranberries
  • Focus on gratitude
  • #OptOutside Black Friday

Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby

The longer I’m a Mom, the more I appreciate back up plans!

We arrived to Rocky Mountain National Park on a popular summer weekend so we couldn’t find a parking spot near the Fern Lake trailhead. The park had a great backup option. We were able to park at the Fern Lake Park & Ride lot (added a .7 mile walk each way on narrow, gravel road).

The hike begins on pretty flat terrain and follows the Big Thompson River. The area is lush with several access points to fish or picnic.

Big Thompson River
Big Thompson River

Cecy didn’t sleep well the night before our hike, so she started out pretty fussy. If she didn’t settle down and fall asleep in her carrier, our backup plan was to cut the hike a little shorter by stopping at either Arch Rocks or The Pool.  Arch Rocks are 40ft vertical boulders that lean towards one another. They are huge!

Arch Rocks
Arch Rocks

The final mile from The Pool to Fern Falls felt pretty steep, so I was relieved to see the waterfall and start our journey back.

Fern Falls
Fern Falls
Back by Arch Rocks - almost done!
Back by Arch Rocks – almost done!