a night in vail!

Last Saturday, Dan and I headed west on I-70. Destination: Vail. My parents kindly offered to watch Willa for a night, and after contemplating camping or some other more adventurous outing, we decided to just book a night in a hotel in Vail, and spend time relaxing and exploring the village. Let’s be honest; I needed some rest.


When we arrived in Vail, we first headed out on a hike along the Gore Creek Trail. The hike takes you to Gore Lake after about 4 miles, but we knew we wouldn’t make it that far. Still, it was a beautiful hike along the creek and it was kind of liberating to be hiking with no dog or toddler in tow.


After the hike we made our way into town to the Tivoli Lodge, which we’d booked without much research, but it ended up being just perfect. Our room was quite and peaceful with a nice balcony and mountain views.


We went out for the most fantastic dinner. A quick search on Vail restaurants led me to the relatively-new Mountain Standard. When I saw the menu and the partitioned pig graphic on the website, I knew it was a good fit for us. They didn’t have any reservations available, so I wasn’t sure if we’d get in, but we easily got a table at around 6pm.


Every single dish we ordered was superb. We hesitated before ordering the $7 “coal-roasted” olives, but figured, “hey, we’re on a mini vacation!” And boy did we make the right choice. I’ve never had olives so good. They were piping hot, and served with toasted pine nuts and golden raisins. I honestly had no idea olives could be so delicious.


Our other appetizers were shrimp and grits and a stone fruit salad. Both were fantastic; one in a hearty, rich, and spicy sort of way while the other was light, fresh, and sweet. We had Rocky Mountain trout for an entrée, as well as a rotisserie chicken salad. The salad was perhaps the lowlight of the night, but by no means bad, just lacking that something special. The trout, on the other hand, was splendid. For some reason it’s hard to find local-ish trout in Denver restaurants, so it was a nice treat.


We hesitated about ordering dessert. We were pretty satiated and thought about just walking around town and finding some ice cream, but the peanut butter pie sounded pretty good, and we definitely made the right call. It was the perfect end to a perfect meal.


On Sunday morning we slept in a bit, and then hit up the Vail Farmers’ Market. We scored some goat cheese curds to eat with a fresh bagel on the way home…quite good, but I think I’ll stick to cow’s milk ones. Goat cheese is too soft! But I of course still had no problem eating them.


We got home Sunday just in time to deal with transitioning Willa to a toddler bed. Of course she would decide to start climbing out of her crib the night we’re trying take some time off. Parenthood!


willa’s birthday

We decided not to have a big birthday party for Willa this year. I always love a good party, but we just felt like taking this year off since we’d had lots of other festivities and such going on lately.

Her party last year was such fun, but she of course really didn’t “get” what was going on. This year, she totally understood that it was a special day. So much so that at moments I thought she looked like her head might explode. We spent her birthday just the three of us; Dan had the morning off which was so nice. We made blueberry pancakes for breakfast and went to Larkburger for lunch. After a much-needed afternoon rest, we had leftovers and birthday cake for dinner (which ended up being perfect because the power went out for several hours!). Willa spent a lot of the day playing with the kitchen Dan and I gave her as her birthday gift. We thought it’d be a toy she’d like, you never know with toys!

Over the weekend, my parents came down to celebrate more, and she was showered with even more fun gifts: a wading pool, pool toys, clothes, and kitchen accessories. More cake was eaten and it was delightful to have family around. Part of me felt badly we didn’t “do more,” but Willa couldn’t have cared less. A good lesson for us all, really: love (and cake!) are pretty much all you need for a wonderful birthday celebration!

DSC03600^^helping daddy make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. aka eating all the frozen blueberries.^^

DSC03648^^a beautiful june day!^^

DSC03637^^milkshake mustache!^^

DSC03652^^i called this a “rustic” berry cake. the absurd frosting is partly due to not having regular sugar and being too lazy to go to the store, and also because willa helped me frost the cake. it was a real challenge keeping her from eating all the frosting. “i need a little bit,” she kept saying!^^

DSC03666^^yep, there she is eating all the frosting off her piece.^^

DSC03701^^day two of celebrations: excited and overwhelemed by all the awesome stuff for her new toy kitchen.^^

DSC03708DSC03710^^taking her new scooter for a walk / trying it out at the park.^^

DSC_4912DSC03720^^pizza making / cheese & flour eating^^


“two olds”


Today is Willa’s 2nd birthday. When you ask her how old she is, she replies “two olds!” I don’t even want to correct her because it’s so darn cute.

As is always the case with time, it’s hard to believe it’s been two years, but it simultaneously feels as though so many things have happened since she was born on a cloudy June morning in Seattle. We’ve all grown so much together. That is really the point of this all, isn’t it?

There are so many things about Willa at this age that I want to remember. Some days I wish I could walk around and just record everything she says.

We’ve been working on potty training for the past while (seriously for a few weeks, casually for a couple months before that) and when we ask her if she needs to go (which I know you’re not “supposed to” ask), she replies with a smile “I okay” or “I good.”

For a month or two now, everything is an emphatic “do it self!” She’s pretty pleased with herself that she can take off all forms of clothing. I personally can’t wait until she can put them all on herself!

She is very thoughtful. She gets extremely concerned when something falls off a table or she sees a piece of trash where it doesn’t belong. We’re constantly taking things to a recycling bin or trash can when we’re out and about. Lots of hand sanitizer necessary.

Despite my best efforts to hide my own fear from her, she’s very concerned by thunder. Her face wrinkles up as she says “it’s thundering.” She’s also scared of bees. She thinks flies are bees, and given how much she plays in the backyard, flies are always getting in the house, so we’re constantly working on the difference between flies and bees.

Her interest in food has waned recently, and she’s much more interested in getting down to play than in sitting at the table with us. Her favorite snack by far is “fig bar” which we buy at Costco. Whenever we run out of a food, she quickly tells us to “buy more! grocery store!”

She’s starting to have a better sense of time. She’ll tell me if something happened “yesterday” or will happen “later.” Her counting is coming along, but she often skips “five” and “six.” Her memory amazes us. Out of the blue she’ll start talking about something that happened months ago. Her favorite memory to recount is about when she met the Easter Bunny at the park. He “waved at Willa.”

I didn’t start telling her about her birthday until a few days ago, but she got the concept quite quickly. She would exclaim, “mine!” when you’d ask her who had a birthday coming up. She gleefully ripped into her presents this morning and is delighted with all of them.

Needless to say, we love her so much. What a wonderful two years it’s been.

lair o’ the bear

A few weekends ago, we headed up to Morrison, Colorado for a morning hike at Lair o’ the Bear Park. It’s always so nice to get out of the city and enjoy the fresh, mountain-y air.


The hike was prefect for Willa, who likes to walk a bit and then be carried for a bit. The first mile or two is a flat path with only slight elevation gain as it runs along the river. Once it ends, you can continue on a more challenging trail that climbs upwards. We didn’t see any turtles as Willa hoped we would, but it was still a beautiful day.


When we lived in Seattle, we always felt like we should be doing more outdoorsy things, even though we did do a good amount. In places like Denver and Seattle, the culture is such that people are always “going out to the mountains” and doing some type of activity. We love being outside, but sometimes life seems to get in the way. There are always so many things that need doing on the weekends, right? For us, the key is planning ahead. If we pick out where we’re going to go the night before, and decide on an approximate departure time, we are usually all set.


I read recently that the average American spends 95% of their time indoors. Yikes. I’ve been holding that in the back of my mind. It’s always a great idea to spend time outdoors.