Realizations from the Big Apple



Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

I just returned from five nights away from home, and am turning around in the morning for one more day and night away. While I’ve been away from Rylan for five nights once before, this is the first trip of this length where I have been, essentially, by myself. I tacked Saturday and Sunday onto a Monday – Wednesday work trip to New York City. It’s a city that has a piece of my heart even though I’ve never lived there. I spent two carefree weekend days wandering Manhattan with my cousin and it was blissful. Both moms, we reveled in not having any sort of a schedule. We shopped, ate and slept in for two uninterrupted mornings. Heaven. Then I checked into a hotel for two hectic but rewarding days for a client media event. I opted to skip the lure of the city both nights and trade busy bars for basic hotel cable and blackout shades.

Safe to say I didn’t realize just how exhausted and run down I was until this trip. Ironically, I slept more in New York City than anywhere else I’ve been in months, maybe years.

When I am away from home people love to ask how I do it, or comment how it must be so hard. Many ask, “is this your first trip away?” I love the varying reactions when I say “nope, I’ve actually been away for nights here and there since he was 7 weeks old.”

But every trip is different, and this one (since it somewhat continues through Friday…I have a company retreat in Vail tomorrow through Friday morning) feels especially long. It has made me realize a few things I have been taking for granted.

  • My husband is the best. Seriously, the best. He never batted an eye or made me feel guilty for one minute about extending my time in NYC, or when our company offsite got scheduled for the day after I returned from NYC. He planned a super fun weekend for Rylan while I was playing in NYC that included a hike, seeing friends and going to the pumpkin patch. Every time I talked to Rylan on the phone he sounded extremely happy and content
  • I’m pushing myself really hard, mentally and physically. The pressure I put on myself to workout Monday – Friday, eat healthy and work full time is tremendous. I am not saying anything is going to change, but I need to be careful. I was in shock how much sleep I needed to catch up on this trip.
  • I want us to be better savers so we can do more traveling with Rylan. I was enthralled with viewing NYC through my new “mom lens” and want to bring him back to explore the parks, museums and other kid-friendly Big Apple attractions. I know he will LOVE the subway trains, buses and seeing the water.
  • It’s more than possible to live small with kids. Like, really small. I am in awe of how my cousin makes their 1,000 square foot apartment gorgeous and totally livable. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I hope we can stay close to downtown Denver and make the most out of our urban-ish home, a mansion compared to how Manhattan families live. A BBQ is a luxury to most Manhattan dwellers and we have a ton more space to maximize if we simply learn to cut back where we can and make Ikea storage hacks a regular part of our vocabulary.
  • Mike is amazing. Yes, I had to reiterate this one more time. I am so damn grateful to have a true partner day after day.

NYC, I already miss you. But home sweet home (for 12 hours) feels quite incredible.

Camping with a Toddler


First Anderson family camping picture.

We did it. Camping with a toddler, check!

Albeit car camping without limits on what we could pack “just in case,” I am pretty proud of myself for rolling with it even though I was crazy nervous about the insane weather we’ve been having in Colorado. Let’s just say, thank goodness one of us (Mike) kept their head on straight in the days and hours leading up to the adventure.

I searched the Internet like a crazy person leading up to the trip to make sure I was packing all the right things. Again, we got to pack in a station wagon with a pod on top…for 2 nights. We looked a bit neurotic I’m sure.


Rylan, almost 23 months, was all grins for his first full day of camping.

If your summer plans include a toddler and a campground, here are my car camping suggestions. If (and that’s a big IF) we get brave enough to do a backpack trek with Rylan I may need a Xanax before trying to pack. Just sayin’…

Toddler Car Camping Checklist

  • Board the dog (if yours barks non stop and is scared of thunderstorms/would keep the entire tent awake)
  • Load up the pack n’ play – just do it and thank me later
  • Stash more diapers than you think you’ll need
  • Bring (but hide) a special treat to keep him/her quiet at 6:45 a.m. when everyone else you are camping with is still asleep (i.e., charged iPad with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I dare you to judge)
  • Tons of snacks
  • Hand sanitizers – yes, plural
  • A good natural bug spray or one you make at home. And of course, I had all of my essential oils with me, and mainly used Purification for a few bug bites, DiGize for post-s’mores stomach aches and Peace & Calming to help me fall asleep
  • Only a few toys – which will get ignored for sticks and rocks
  • Numerous blankets if there is any chance of it getting cold at night + a warm sleep sack if they still use one. We absolutely love the Baby Deedee Sleep Nest and bought it a size larger just so he could have it for this trip
  • Tight layers for under warm PJs, gloves, warm boots and a warm hat – unless you are confident it will not get cold at night
  • Wine – for mama
  • A modified schedule – nap was a must but we were flexible on timing. Same for bedtime – he stretched much later than normal but had such a blast watching the fire
  • Friends – but only if they have a sense of humor

Now, go forth a book a campground! Toddler squeals and grins (and yes, meltdowns) in the great outdoors await.

Travel Guilt – How Do You Deal?

I can’t tell you how many times I was asked in Rylan’s first year, “have you guys been able to get a night off?” In fact, I used to be the asker of this same question before becoming a mom myself. Pre-Rylan, I never realized how loaded of a question it could feel like for parents on the other side.

Rylan will be 14 months this week. Many moms and dads at this point simply have not had the opportunity to get away. Perhaps the little one has been sick or not sleeping through the night well making it tough for outside caregivers. Or maybe there is no family nearby and the cost of a sitter, especially overnight, is prohibitive. Other times, mom and dad have gotten away but never together. One might travel for work and another sneaks in a boys or girls trip while the other stays home.

Mike and I are very much the opposite. In 14 months we have had the chance to have several nights off, the first one being at about seven weeks when Mike’s sister gave us a night of sleep. But beyond just a night, together we have had a couple of weekend and extended weekends away as well. Chicago, Lake Tahoe, Aspen, Sonoma and upcoming, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Seriously, it is a bit over-the-top.

Maroon Bells

All of our weekends away start the same way for me. I have some guilt before we leave but it is bearable. I get excited about our couples-only adventure and know Rylan is in incredible hands with Mike’s family or my parents. Then when we are away, I miss him throughout the day but soak up sleeping in, having a glass of wine with lunch and not being beholden to a nap and bedtime schedule. Yet all of this contentment starts to wane the morning of our last day on the trip.

I wake up with a knot in my stomach about wanting to get home to Rylan. I ask myself, “why did we stay the extra night” and consider earlier flights or drives (and yes, I have changed flights). When we finally get home to Rylan I am twisted in knots again because nine times out of ten, we have work the next day and he’s back off to daycare.

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There are no “make up” days as a parent, especially when you work full time outside of the home. When you miss a weekend, it’s gone. Monday comes faster than you can imagine and it is back to squeezing in a few hours a day before and after 8+ hours at the office.

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I am not complaining. It isn’t lost on me for a second that we are incredibly fortunate to have grandparents, aunts and uncles who welcome Rylan into their homes with open arms. I also know, and am told by many, that our marriage and individual sanity will remain stronger thanks to our adults-only excursions this year.

But the guilt. Oh the guilt…

Please tell me it gets easier? Or if it doesn’t, can you please tell me how you make the guilt eat you up just a bit less?

San Diego Family Vacation


Fall is knocking on Colorado’s door, so what better time to revisit our “California Dreamin'” mindset and finally download pictures from our incredible San Diego August 2014 vacation. Mike, Rylan and I flew to San Diego to spend a week with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and their kiddos, Jackson and Olivia. It took a few trips to the beach for Rylan to understand the sand but he loved the water right away. He squealed and screamed when the waves washed up on his legs and was very brave with the cold water temps. I see a surfer boy in the making!


IMG_9215The first Anderson-Anzalone vacation was a huge success. Our house was steps from the beach and the grandparents took tons of kid shifts so we could go do things like paddle board yoga, surfing, regular yoga and of course, cocktailing. Mike and I lived in San Diego for five/six years respectively and it still has a huge place in my heart. We created countless memories there and met some of our most treasured friends. It was neat to play tourist and introduce Rylan to his first of many vacations in Southern California.




My heart was truly heavy when it was time to say goodbye. It was such a special vacation for us all. Rylan adored looking up to Jackson and Livy. It’s clear Jackson is a very good big brother and cousin. He was patient with Rylan, shared his toys and didn’t even mind when Rylan gave him a good head bonk while trying to play. Even though we live in different states I look forward to Jackson, Livy and Rylan being close as they grow up.




The Anderson-Anzalone vacation tradition will continue in 2016. Next year Mike, Rylan and I will travel to Florida with his family. I wish we had enough vacation days and money to travel with both of our families every year! We’re so lucky to be very close with both of our parents and siblings. Family is everything.



I think all of us will struggle in 2016 of whether to pick a new destination (Hawaii anyone??!!) or go back to the exact same location. There is something to be said for picking a special location to make years, even decades, of memories as the kids grow up. San Diego, you are amazing.

Crested Butte Babymoon

If my blogging cadence during the last few months of pregnancy is any indication of how often I’ll share details once Sprout arrives, I’m scared. Time. Is. Flying. I feel like I’ve been busy with work, reading, baby prep and lord knows what else every night after dinner…and the blog has suffered.

But I’ve been dying to share pictures from our Crested Butte babymoon at the beginning of June. We had an incredible time. Neither of us had visited Crested Butte before. We were mesmerized by the scenery and smitten with the quaint town. Every meal we had was better than the last and everyone was so nice and down to earth. We left wondering, “how do we get a second home here?”

Enjoy just a few of the 200+ shots we took on our hikes (yep, I was 32 weeks and still hiking!) and drives. I’m incredibly grateful that Mike and I were able to sneak away for three uninterrupted days of relaxation and “us time” before Sprout comes along.


Off to Washington D.C.

Mike and I are off to Virginia and Washington D.C. for a short vacation to visit his family and spend some time being total tourists. I am so excited!

In 8th grade I went to D.C. on a school trip but I barely remember it and know I’ll appreciate the museums and monuments even more now. Let’s face it, a lot of the trip in 8th grade was spent obsessing over our latest crushes, wondering if they noticed us at all.

Source: via Lauren on Pinterest


If you have any “must see” recommendations please send them my way!

Where in the World is Lex, again?

On Thursday I packed my bags and headed to San Jose, Calif., for a two day work trip to support our client the USA Swimming Foundation and the annual Make a Splash Tour. What does this mean? In my world it means hours of media calls and emails to ensure the critical message of water safety gets told through print, TV and online stories while I am here. It’s not always easy or glamorous, but when you see smiles like these from local kids…it’s all worth it.

San Jose Make a Splash Tour Stop, by USA Swimming Foundation and Phillips 66

Instead of flying back to Denver today I opted for a flight to Los Angeles to visit family and celebrate our niece Olivia’s first birthday on Sunday! I am looking forward to fresh seafood at dinner and a homemade brunch in the morning before it’s time to board yet another plane.

Next week I am home for the entire week! A small miracle. I am beyond excited to get back into my fitness, eating and relaxation routine. I miss my Colorado friends and family!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend…

Jackson Hole Quick Pics

I can’t wait to download and share the pictures we took in Teton National Park with our good camera. But for now, some Instagram pictures will have to do. We had an incredible weekend celebrating Abby & Walt and I cherished the time with my dear friends Jenn and Maria. We’re not sure when we’ll get to see one another again…likely not until  sometime in 2013. Also, cut me some slack on blogging this week. I am home for only two more days until I leave on a work trip to San Jose through the weekend. I told you September is insane for us!

On the Road Again…

                                                                  Source: via Cindy on Pinterest


Literally. Late-this afternoon we’ll be en route to Jackson Hole, Wyo., for a long weekend to celebrate the wedding of our friends Abby and Walt. It will also be a chance for me to spend lots of time with my two best friends Jenn and Maria, who are flying to Jackson from San Francisco and NYC.

This will be our first time to Jackson and we can’t wait. I’m hoping to fit in some hiking, maybe a river rafting adventure and plenty of relaxing. Daytime cocktails…yep, I’d like to have a few of those too.

I am also really looking forward to the drive time. Mike and I have both been so busy so it will be nice to have hours (and hours) to chat and catch up.

Wyoming or bust! I hope you all have an incredible Labor Day weekend, wherever it may take you.


Is Napa Heaven?

I think it might be, heaven that is. Rolling hills, vineyards for as far as the eye can see, unbelievable wine, and mouthwatering food. Napa is an adult Disneyland.

For my dear friend Katie’s bachelorette party I was also fortunate to “do Napa” in a way most will never experience. A limo whisked us from her parent’s home in Livermore to three wineries, all of which hosted us for very private tastings thanks to Katie and her father being in the industry.

For example, at Domaine Chandon we sat in a private area of the stunning outdoor patio where we sampled 12+ champagnes and wines. Each pour was better than the next and the truffle popcorn…well, I would have packed a separate carry-on with bags of it if that was an option. From Chandon we all left with a bottle of Pinot Meunier, a light red that pairs well with vegetables, hard cheeses and olives. The Blanc de Noirs was my favorite champagne so I’m glad to know what to buy the next time I need a good bottle from the liquor store.

Next we headed to Trinchero Family Vineyards for an exclusive lunch on a patio that is not open to the public. The food was spectacular and the views divine. I could have stayed there for the rest of the day. It was a truly unique and special experience. I also regret not purchasing their Sauvignon Blanc. It was light, crisp and extremely refreshing. I’ll have to go back!

We ended our Napa adventures at Louis Martini. The basement cellar evoked a feeling of The Godfather and the Petite Syrah was one of my favorite pours from the entire day. I will try to wait for our first fall night to open this bottle, as the blueberry and chocolate notes (yes, I learned a few things!) will taste delicious on a cooler night.

On the limo home from Napa we listened to Call Me Maybe about five times and enjoyed a Rose from Louis Martini. We had to keep the party going through dinner.

Yes, dinner. Somehow we found room to eat again and our experience at Underdog Wine Bar in Livermore was perfect. We spread out across two huge outdoor couches on the patio and took in the fabulous views of the valley mountains and vineyards. The weather was cooling off so I took advantage of the flight options to try a few more Petite Syrah pours. The Concannon Vineyard, Nina’s Cuvee varietal was wonderful. I was getting nervous about how to get multiple bottles home so I did not purchase it but I’ll be stalking it in wine stores until I find a bottle in Colorado. It’s rich and smooth — very memorable.

On Sunday, before our flights, we enjoyed brunch at Wente Vineyards where Katie will be married. The fact that I get to go back to wine country in just a few weeks blows my mind. Maybe we’ll have time for a meal at Underdog so I can buy the Concannon Petite Syrah…

I’m now forever spoiled on how to “do Napa.” But that’s okay, I like to aim high. And more importantly I had two days to reconnect with best friends who have been there for me since high school. Our friendships have seen and weathered so much. I am eternally grateful to have these girls in my life.

Have you been to Napa and if yes, what wineries do you love?

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