Life Lately: Easing into Fall

The first days of Fall are hard to beat. The air feels crisp but it's warm in the sun and everything smells so fresh, especially up north. Summer in Lake Geneva will always be the time when I feel most alive but there's a sense of calm when the leaves start to change and you can smell the wood burning of a neighbor's fire. Our recent Family weekend at the lake was the perfect kick off to the new season...

We ordered breakfast from the tiny convenience store down the street and ate it outside on the patio in sweatshirts and blankets. We walked around the neighborhood under the most amazing blue sky with not a single cloud. My parents hosted our first ever "Fall Fest," (in place of our usual 4th of July event), complete with cherry & apple brats, Oktoberfest beers, golf cart rides and pumpkin decorating. We put on our pajamas at 6 o'clock one night and snacked on leftovers and poured champagne. Ro and I spent a warm afternoon at the park followed by a snack at my favorite coffee shop. Mike and I checked out an open house down the street and fell in love, as we do almost every time we look. FYI - we're not actually hoping to move, it's just something we've come to love doing on weekends - It's great for gathering ideas and it's fun to imagine different scenarios that could play out in the future. We ate until our pants no longer fit...everything from my Mom's DIY nacho bar to the taffy apple salad was quintessential Fall and we didn't want to miss any part of it. 


If we're being totally honest, I spent most of this weekend in sweatshirts, overalls and leggings but I did manage to spend one day looking like a real human by putting on a swipe of bright lipstick and taking this new denim skirt for a ride, which btw, I now want to wear on a daily basis. I usually have trouble finding skirts that are just the right length - Either they're too short for going out in public or too long for being 31 years old but this one is high-rise and still fits just right. It's got frayed edges and I love pairing it with long sleeves or sweaters & booties so I will be doing that as much as possible in the next few weeks while I can still get away with bare legs. On another note, I'm not into all of the Fall trends (not too keen on the wide leg denim just yet), but I AM happy that belt bags (aka, fanny packs!) are having a moment because they're actually so much fun. I love this leather one from J. Jill - like, it might be the cutest one I've seen but I own the iPhone 8+ which is massive and unfortunately, doesn't fit in the bag so if I'm wearing this, I usually stick my phone in my back pocket or the diaper bag. 

Since my style was this weekend was mostly cozy chic, I reached for this open front cardi quite a bit. It's textured and runs fairly long so it's awesome for pairing with leggings on cold mornings and I've been wearing it daily for early walks with Ro and the dog but it was also a nice addition to this skirt/blouse combo.

We have so many fun things coming up, I can't wait to recap it all including a mini trip to San Fran (baby free!), the pumpkin farm, dinner with good friends and planning Ro's first trick or treat outing!

How are you enjoying the first week(s) of Fall? 


A Coloradical Weekend

We recently got home from a long weekend in Colorado and to say we’re still thinking about it often would be an understatement. We may or may not be over here researching home prices on Zillow (far fetched, but fun nevertheless) and reminiscing about our favorite parts via our shared photo albums. The reason for the trip revolved around my cousin getting married in Golden but CO has always been on our visit list so we were excited to extend the trip a bit, especially since my immediate (and extended) Family was coming with. 

My Family (8 of us) stayed in an adorable Air B&B which was one of the MOST fun parts of the trip. The house was a perfect setup because we all had our own rooms and there were multiple common areas where we would gather throughout the day including a sitting area with a fireplace, the kitchen island, downstairs game area and outdoor patio, which was my personal favorite. The white lights turned on at dusk so we would make a frozen pizza and enjoy a late night snack while discussing/recapping the days. 

It was the first time we left Ro for any extended length of time and because of this, the months leading up to our trip definitely stressed me out. I changed my mind 100x about this, debating whether he should come with or not but as hard was it was to leave him, there were so many reasons why it was better for him to stay home in the loving care of his Grandparents, because there were so many parts of this trip that weren't toddler friendly. I missed him terribly but I MUST admit, after the first FaceTime where I got to see how much fun he was having, I was able to relax a little and from there, the rest of our responsibility-free time felt very rewarding. It was a great reminder of how important it is have time together, not spent discussing sleep schedules or diaper changes and just acting like ships passing in the night. For a few days, we weren’t Mom and Dad...just best friends on an adventure, hiking in the mountains and dancing at the wedding and it felt felt deserved.

Speaking of those mountains, our Friday spent at Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the best days we have ever spent together and just happens to be #1 on the list of my favorite things we did on our trip...

  1. Hiking the Rocky Mountains
bear lake

My husband did a lot of research and narrowed down the best things to see in the limited amount of time we had. He planned a down-to-the minute- itinerary for the weekend and first on the list was hiking Rocky Mountain National Park, which was one of our bucket list items. Since we were staying in Golden, I was a little discouraged by the fact that we would be in the car for a total of 3 hours this day (getting there and back) but there wasn't going to be another opportunity to do this for a while so even though we were tired from getting in late the night before, we woke early, made pb sandwiches for the car and hit the road.

The drive from Golden to Estes Park was beautiful, making the distance seem so short. We parked at the visitors center and from there, took a shuttle to the trail head at the park, at which time you have multiple different options for trails, depending on what you're hoping to see. We were debating between Emerald Lake and Mills like, seeming like we couldn't go wrong with either one, but we were running on a time clock due to evening activities so we chose the shorter path to Emerald Lake. But don't let that fool you - shorter does NOT mean it feels short because so much of it was up and down, nor does it seem less difficult because even though we consider ourselves to be semi-in shape, it was a challenge and required multiple granola/water/sit breaks. The altitude was hard to adjust to but stopping along the way helped us catch our breath. One of the best parts of this path is that on the way to your final destination, you get to pass three other GORGEOUS alpine lakes including Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, all which offer great views of the rocky peaks including Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak and Glacier Gorge.

nymph lake

I am not exaggerating when I say that about approx. 7 minutes into our hike, my husband turned to me and said, "I think this is one the best things I've ever done." We were both completely taken aback by the unspoiled beauty surrounding us, each step and view being better than the last. I couldn't get over how wonderful the trees looked, stacked to the sky in the mountains, making for a gorgeous green and blue backdrop. The air smelled and FELT so clean and there were few clouds in the sky.

emerald lake

emerald lake

Emerald was absolutely breathtaking and worth every step it took to get there - Once we arrived, we climbed to the highest point of the mountain and sat down for a while in silence, trying to let it sink in. It was a surreal experience, the kind that makes you appreciate everything you have. Though this was an amazing moment, my husband and I both agree that Dream Lake (the one prior to reaching Emerald) was our favorite. We crossed a wooden bridge to reach its clearing and once we came upon it, our mouths were hanging open. I have never seen trees like this - Again with the trees, I know! But I was truly stunned and so happy in this moment.

Not to mention, it felt so good to spend this time alone with Mike. As parents of a one year old, our time together is dedicated to him 95% of our awake hours, so to be this secluded, in a quiet, serene place with just each other to talk to, was a break we were both in need of...We were able to feel like our pre-baby selves for a bit.

We can't wait to come back the this park. We actually tried to devise a plan to hike it again on the last day we were in Colorado but there just wasn't enough time, so until we meet again...

dream lake

2. Seeing a Concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater

Other than the wedding, this is the Family activity we were all looking most forward to. Luckily there was a fun show happening on the day we were in town (1964 - a Beatles Tribute) which was something we could all enjoy so we bought tickets pretty far in advance. I think I speak for all of us when I say it was even better than we imagined. As soon as Mike and I walked in the door from hiking Friday, it was time to leave for the Amphitheater so we changed faster than I ever have before in my life, I did my makeup in the car and we grabbed sausages and drinks at the venue (both of which were actually pretty good!).

We wanted to be there a few hours before the show started so we could watch the sun go down, because while the music is a bonus, the best part is the gorgeous red rock formations that line each side, complete with mountain views in the distance. The place gets prettier as the night goes on because the uplighting highlights the rocks and makes the entire space feel like it's glowing. The whole evening was just wonderful - The band sounded SO good and I like that it's not just another tribute band - They actually perform AS the Beatles, offering the experience you would have gotten when the real band performed more than 50 years ago. *Fun fact - The Red Rocks Theater is one of just TWO places left standing in the US where the real Beatles actually performed. Cool, right?

Side note: Prior to even planning our trip here, I had read about Red Rocks Yoga and thought, could there possibly be ANY better place to practice? Downward dog on the rocks during sun up? This is a must for future trips and now that I've been there, it has moved even higher up in the ranks so I look forward to crossing that one off someday.

red rocks theater

3. Spending the Day in Breckenridge

Our (very well-thought-out and color coded 😂) itinerary had a few different options for our last day in Colorado and waking up still tired from the AMAZING wedding the night before, we were unsure of what route we wanted to go. Everyone had different things they wanted to see so we decided to split up and half of the Family went to Golden State Park for a Hike (see some of Lisa's pictures here, so beautiful!) while the rest of us made the drive to Breckenridge, per the recommendation from some of our Family who lives in the state. I am SO glad we went because it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. Though the town is known for its ski resort and alpine activities, we had such a fun time exploring Main Street, looking at all of the colorfully painted buildings from the 1880's, checking out the shops and eating our way through town. By the way, our drive TO Breckenridge was awesome in and of itself! It is amazing views the entire way from Golden and it made me think how much more I would appreciate road trips if all of them at home were this good. 

drive to breckenridge

It was 90 degrees when we left Golden that morning so we all arrived in tank tops and shorts. As soon as we pulled into town, we noticed everyone in long pants, hoodies and some even in winter coats. We had driven about 50 minutes and in that time, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees! We didn't really think about this possibility ahead of time (Guess we forgot where we were!) but this was the perfect excuse to buy our trip souvenirs, "Breck" hoodies! By the way, that's actually how everyone refers to the town - At first, we thought it was more of a joke, mocking it in many of our conversations but the more places we went, the more realized that it's a real thing and it made us laugh. 

Breckenridge is about 10,000 feet above sea level and I would say this is the part of the weekend where I noticed the altitude change the most. All 4 of us experienced difficulties at point or another on this day, even just walking down the street. You don't realize how much it can affect you but it's quite a change of pace from us coming from flat Illinois so we just took sit breaks whenever we needed to. Sit and eat breaks I should say... we had lunch on the patio at the Kenosha Steakhouse which was delicious. It was sunny when we sat down but actually rained multiple times during our lunch, which was a frequent occurrence in general throughout the weekend. It's funny how we were questioning running inside while everyone else just continued eating their meals and having  their conversation...they are used to it, no doubt. 

We all enjoyed being able to try local craft beers everywhere we went (there are SO many choices) and one of my favorite parts about the town was how many coffee shops there were...MY PERSONAL HEAVEN! Every 5 feet or so, there was another opportunity for a coffee, pastry, ice cream or lunch. Yes, I can definitely see myself here ;) 

Other Details:
  • My cousin's wedding was held at Mount Vernon Canyon Club in Golden which was one of the coolest venues I've ever seen. The ceremony was held on the outdoor terrace which was covered in white lights and overlooked the mountains, so when it was time for the sun to go down, it felt pretty magical. Mike and I made sure to steal a few beers (and kisses!) out there during the night. They served Voodoo Donuts which are some of the best we've ever tasted and kept the party going all night thanks to the guests and wedding party members who traveled all the way from Germany - Those guys know how to rage for sure. Congrats again Amy & Tobi! 💓

voodoo donuts
  • Mike, my Dad and I ventured to Boulder on Saturday morning for lunch and a little exploring. We checked out Chautauqua Park first which seemed like the ideal way to start a weekend morning - There were so many young 20 and 30-somethings (many presumably hailing from CU Boulder) getting ready to hike with their friends/dogs which I would do every Saturday if I lived there. Imagine that and then heading into the downtown area where there is literally an opportunity to drink, eat and shop at the cutest places every 2 feet - That is everything I live for in a weekend. We grabbed lunch here and sampled some of the delicious local brews, walked up and down the promenade area and grabbed iced lattes for the road home.
 our coffee stop!

chautauqua park trails

  • And just ONE last shoutout to our house because I think I miss that the most. I'm sure any house would have provided us with great memories, it was just being able to wake up and have breakfast together, go on our adventures and meet up in the evening to tell stories until it got late and we realized we had to get up and do it all over again the next day. Doesn't get better than that!

Thank you for checking out my recap!
We are counting the days until we can return.

Have you been to Colorado? What were your favorite spots to visit? 
I will add them to our list for next time!


6 Products from Our Baby Registry We Still Use Every Day

It's kind of amazing how much stuff such a small human requires. When Ro was a newborn, we had 3 different contraptions for him to sleep in (travel bassinet, pack n play, rock n play - oh, and don't forget his crib) because we didn't have any idea what we were doing and we wanted to be prepared. Now that we're 12+ months in, we feel a little more knowledgable when it comes to buying for baby and what has long lasting quality/purpose and there are a few items I consider to be CRUCIAL because we have used them almost on a daily basis since he was born. 

Here are 6 of my favorite baby products with everlasting life:

Hushh Noise Machine

I am not exaggerating when I say this tiny noise machine our number one favorite item from our registry that still gets as much use today, as it did 12 months ago. I remember the day we got it – Ro had been in the world just a few days and my aunt came over to meet him slash give us a welcome home gift. We unwrapped the noise machine and thanked her, not knowing it would become as important in our daily routine as our hair brush or house keys. That afternoon, we put Ro on his Boppy Lounger for a nap (another early favorite of ours) and  urned the white noise on. He slept so soundly and we loved that it blocked out the rest of the sound in the house, some of which we can’t always control (aka Fitz barking at the neighbor’s dog). Since that day over a year ago, Ro has not taken a single nap or nighttime sleep without this glorious machine which actually has 3 different sounds but we routinely use the standard white noise function. 

Fun fact: I think we actually own 3 of them at this point because we broke a few in the early days of stumbling around in the middle of the night and then decided we always wanted to have a backup in the house - This is serious stuff, guys. We rarely leave the house without it and have a charger in our car so we can use it for Ro’s naps on the way to Wisconsin. Now...You can say what you want about creating bad sleep habits and you may be right – Maybe he will always have to sleep with some sort of noise (like his Mother – I bring a travel fan on trips with me!), but I consider that to be small potatoes in the world of getting your kid to sleep well through the night. Earlier this week we had crazy storms including hail that pelted our windows and guess who slept through it? RO. Thank you, Hushh 😉

Graco FastAction Fold Jogger

I knew I wanted a jogging stroller before I had a baby – Before I got pregnant, actually or was even in the realm of being Mom ready. When I would be out running in my early 20’s, I always saw young Mom’s running behind a stroller with 3 wheels, pushing their baby, voluminous ponytail bouncing along and I thought they made it look so easy. Maybe it WAS possible to have a baby and still keep my workout routine in tact. Turns out, it IS possible, though I’d like to go back in time to girl(s) with said ponytail and tell them I’m sorry for thinking anything about Motherhood was easy 😉 But this stroller DOES help I researched a lot of them before adding this to my registry and ultimately decided on this one because of its consistent rave reviews and because I knew and trusted the Graco brand. 

There are a LOT of fancy strollers these days, some of them closely resembling the bat mobile and some of them being more fashion than function for the leggings-north face-Starbucks tribe (not that I’m too far from that level of basic), but this one has proven to be a perfect choice for us. It is SO smooth, both in terms of pushing for me and the ride for Ro, whether we’re walking or running. There’s a ton of storage space underneath, plenty of cup holders/space for my phone and even though it’s large, it folds up with one pull of a handle so we can store it in a tiny space in our garage. Before we had Ro, I was so worried about where everything would go, especially the strollers because we own 2 but it becomes super compact which makes our lives much easier. 

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother

I am NOT lying when I say this crib soother was KEY in Ro learning how to self-soothe. During the infant months, there were many phases where he would wake up crying and we would run in there to rock him back to sleep. Out of desperation, we had tried so many different sleep aids including several different types and brands of sleep blankets and swaddles, hoping one of them would provide the answer (btw, the Magic Merlin was the only one that actually worked and provided a great transition from the Rock N Play to the crib).

But then, around 4-5 months, we installed this adorable fish tank in his crib and it instantly became one of his favorite things. We would lay him in there during the day just for short breaks and he would watch it with a smile on his face, kicking his legs and making giggling sounds. Now, if he wakes up during the night, he will stand up and turn on the tank, watches the floating sea creatures (we have it set on low with music and movement) and a few minutes later, he usually lays back down and goes to sleep. This is AMAZING and such a change of pace from waking up and screaming because he's afraid or unable to get back to sleep on his own. He also turns it on EVERY single morning when he first wakes up. We will hear him through the monitor hit the on button and that's how we know he's up and he will stay content in there just watching the fish for at least a half hour which gives us a little time to get up and moving. We LOVE this product and recommend it to all parents when they're ready to put baby in the crib!

Moonlight & Melodies Elephant

This item was on our registry but we actually didn't start using it until about 6 months ago. A) I kind of forgot we had it and B) I didn't think we needed to add another thing to Ro's sleep routine but my Mom showed me a soothing hippo she used for his naps that played music and a projection on the ceiling and he seemed to like it which made me remember our SkipHop Elephant. Since that day I brought it out, it has been a staple and one of his favorite things in his room. I actually only turn this on before his nighttime sleep (not at nap time) because I like how calming it is and I think it's the perfect thing to signal to him that sleep is near. I give him a bath (every single night - I know, slightly crazy), read him a few of his favorite books, give him his bottle, turn off the lights and turn on the elephant. 

It has a star projection for his ceiling and lots of different songs/calming noises to choose from but we usually use the rainforest sounds for bedtime. It has 3 different time settings which is awesome so I just set it to 15 minutes and it typically turns off by the time he's sleeping. It has also saved us on his hardest nights, like the ones where has threw up all over his crib, followed by 2 hours of inconsolable crying. In order to get him to finally calm down and go back to sleep, I would turn on the elephant softly, rock him in my arms and then put him back in his crib, letting the elephant continue to play while he dozes off. It's calming, comforting and all of the things a baby should experience when they're falling asleep. 

Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib

Our crib was one of the only things I didn't waiver on when it came time to register because I loved it's mid-century modern style and clean aesthetic from the moment I saw it. It's made with eco-friendly, non-toxic materials (which is comforting since Ro went through a heavy rail chewing phase!) and when we're ready, it will easily transition into a toddler bed and daybed so it can grow along with him for years. It comes in grey, white and a few two-tone options so there are a lot of choices depending on the style of your nursery. It was very easy to lower the mattress once Ro was mobile and we feel good knowing how comfortable and safe he is in there every night.

Dr. Browns Bottles

Though we are working on transitioning off of bottles soon, these were our go-to brand by far and we tried a lot of different kinds in the beginning. I breastfed Ro for 10+ months and early on, I was very concerned about finding a bottle that wouldn't deter him from that because I wanted to continue for as long as I could. I knew my Mom was going to be watching him a few days when I went back to work, so I didn't have a choice when it came to introducing a bottle and luckily, these worked out perfectly, allowing him to seamlessly switch from breast to bottle with no issues. 

The Natural Flow bottles use a patented 2-piece internal vent system which creates positive-pressure flow for vacuum-free feeding that is similar to breastfeeding. The breast milk or formula flows freely without nipple collapse and as the baby feeds, air is channeled from the nipple collar through the vent system to the back of the bottle. Air never mixes with the breast milk or formula so oxidation is prevented, thereby maintaining essential vitamins such as C, A and E. The vent system eliminates air bubbles in the formula or milk, which helps to reduce feeding problems like colic, spit-up, burping and gas. Dr. Brown's bottles are completely BPA, PVC, lead and phthalate free for baby's safety. 

Mama's, what registry/newborn items are you still using a year later? 
 Let me know your favorites!

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