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Monday 27 January 2020

A Look Back at 2019

2019... It was a year of big changes and adventures for our family. 

We took a few trips across the country and across the world, we took part in uplifting events, we went to so many cool exhibitions, we had fun parties, we celebrated holidays, we experienced so many new things... Oh, and we moved to a new state and bought a house!  

Some of these things I've shared here on Little Hiccups, others I've shared on Instagram and others I never got around to sharing anywhere. So let's take a look back at the past year and everything we got up to. Don't forget to click the bold and underlined links for a dedicated post on each event/trip/part/holiday etc. 

This is a long post, so grab a drink, something to snack on and get comfy. You'll be here a while!

2019 started out in the same place it ended: Colorado! Although in January we were here on vacation, rather than living here. It feels a little surreal to think that we started and ended the year in the same place even though we moved in between!  Much of our Colorado trip was actually in 2018 so I won't be sharing it all here, but you can see the whole trip at this post.

We started the year off with a day of sledding in Denver before heading to Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains. The main purpose of our stay in Estes Park was to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, however due to the government shut down at the time the park was closed (with no staff available to plow roads it was not safe to enter). Luckily we found plenty to keep ourselves busy in Estes Park. We played with ice along the lake, "skated" along the frozen creek, went horse riding, visited the Stanley Hotel and went on a pika treasure hunt through town.

A few days into the new year we were back in California and the kids were back at school. Our first event for the year was the annual De Youngsters Art Party at the De Young Museum. This fun party for families is a fund raiser for the museum and is a great way to get kids involved in art. We made fun photo booth flip books, created animated pictures with butterflies the kids colored, danced in a silent disco, had our faces painted, and ate lots of goodies dipped into the chocolate fountain - all while taking in the art on display in the museum.

Our second event of the month was the annual Women's March in San Francisco, which was such an inspiring event. The girls made their own signs and we marched down Market Street toward the Embarcadero with thousands of other people. One of my favorite things about the kids growing up in the Bay Area was that they got to see grassroots events like this and have the opportunity to take part. 

We ended January by playing tourist in San Francisco. I love playing tourist in our own backyard, but this time it was extra fun as we took a tuk tuk tour around the city with Dylan's Tours. Seriously, it was so much fun! We zoomed around the city in the back of the tuk tuk taking in all the sights. Most places in San Francisco we're already pretty familiar with, but we visited a few "new to us" spots including the Yoda statue at Lucasfilm. 

February saw our first month of celebrations for the year with Ava's birthday, Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day all falling within the first few weeks.

We celebrated Ava's birthday with a Minecraft themed party. I never got around to sharing this one on the blog as tweens aren't quite as willing to be in photos, but I should probably share a few DIYs one day - maybe not for that horrendous cake though! Decorating a cake neatly with lots of little fondant squares seemed easy in my mind, but not so easy in execution! The TNT pinata was fun though as were the mini TNT streamer crackers.

Just over a week after Ava's birthday party we were celebrating Valentine's Day. Well, Lola and Mathilde were. With Ava now in middle school handing out Valentine's to the entire class became a thing of the past. I think she was a little bummed about that. For Lola and Mathilde's classmates we made strawberry flavored meringue hearts with candy eyes. They were a huge hit and Lola is keen to make them again for her class this year. I didn't get any decent photos, but I'll have a DIY coming soon when we make them for this year.

Next up was Lunar New Year. To celebrate we headed to the annual festival at Berkeley's 4th Street Shops. We watched lion dances and a martial arts performance before heading into the stores to wish the staff "Gung Hay Fat Choy" - and collect candy! We also followed the procession of lion dance performers and musicians as they made their way from store to store to make blessings. It's always such a fun event and I love that we got to celebrate such diverse holidays in Berkeley.

We also celebrated by watching the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco. This is the biggest parade outside of Asia and is always a site to see. The parade ends quite late, but the trip into the city is worth it - even just for the amazing dragons alone.

Later in the month we spent an afternoon at an immersive exhibition called LMNL at San Francisco's One Dome gallery space. This exhibition was amazing with rooms filled with optical illusions, glowing lights, hands on exhibits, waterfalls and lightening that moved across surfaces as we controlled them, and so much more.

The first half of March was pretty quiet with just our regular activities: school, preschool, swim team, swim classes, karate, speech therapy... The second half of the month saw a lot of activity with the girls doing a karate belt test, a visit to California Academy of Sciences for a preview of their new Dino Days exhibition, a day in San Francisco for the St Patrick's day parade, and me taking a week long trip to Palm Springs for Alt Summit,

A while back Mathilde joined Ava and Lola as the littlest member of their karate class, and in March all three of my karate kids took part in a belt test. I'm happy to say that they all passed. Ava and Lola moved up to a blue belt and Mathilde earned her white belt with two stripes. Mathilde looks a little confused in the picture below, but that's because she was trying to keep up with blue belt kata, which was a little beyond her skill level. We miss our Berkeley karate family and training in the park.

Up next was the annual St Patrick's Day parade in San Francisco. Basically, the day when half of the city becomes Irish and uses it as an excuse to get drunk. Or something like that! For the kids, it's an excuse to collect a lot of candy, stickers and bead necklaces. It's a fun event but we always leave after the parade and don't attend any of the other festivities as that's when the getting drunk part tends to get a little out of hand.

Dino Days was a fun event. California Academy of Sciences is one of my all time favorite museums (maybe even my actual favorite) so any chance we get to there we jump at. Seeing the new dinosaur themed exhibit before it opened to the public was pretty cool. The kids enjoyed the lifelike animatronic dinosaurs, the yummy snacks on offer, and checking out all their favorite exhibits in the museum.

My week at Alt Summit was amazing. As a blogger I spend most of my time working alone, so getting the chance to hang out with so many talented and inspiring women was just what I needed. I caught up with old friends and made many new ones. I learned a lot, made some great connections and I got to model in a fashion show! I definitely did not expect that one! My room mates were the best! I traveled to Palm Springs with my friend Arlene and we shared a room at the Ace Hotel with two super talented new friends Sareka and Jamila.

While in Palm Springs I took a trip to Moorten Botanic Gardens with my friend Jessica (who snapped this pic for me). The gardens are full of stunning and otherworldly desert natives. The greenhouse below is a super popular spot for Instagram snaps, so you know I couldn't resist! I'll be sharing a post about my visit soon.

April is always a crazy busy month for us. I swear half the festivals in San Francisco are on in April - or at least that's how it feels!

When I returned from Palm Springs it was time for Spring Break. In hindsight, I really should have planned for Kim and the girls to come join me for a week in the desert after Alt Summit, but I didn't think of it until it was too late. Oh well. We had a pretty quiet Spring Break and stayed local instead. Mathilde's preschool Spring Break didn't line up with Ava and Lola's break so it was a little tricky to go anywhere too far anyway.

One day during Spring Break we headed into San Francisco for the annual Macy's Spring Flower Show. This is always one of my favorite shows of the year with so many beautiful displays. Fun fact: did you know I trained to be a florist? I've never actually worked as one though apart from doing the flower displays and bouquets for a few weddings (including ours).

Cal Day, UC Berkeley's annual open day, was up next. As always we spent some time watching the cheerleaders, dance troupe, Oski Bear, and the Cal marching band performing. This is always a highlight and feels straight out of an American college movie to me. The kids also played in campus police vehicles, waved giant flags, tried their hand at scientific experiments, touched real human brains, met sea creatures, and hung out with Kiwibots, their favorite delivery robots.

Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco's Japantwon is always a favorite event, but this year we missed it due to a busy schedule. Instead we decided to go see cherry blossoms blooming in a Japanese Tea Garden. We headed to Hakone in Saratoga in the South Bay for an afternoon of cherry blossoms, bamboo, koi ponds and tasty Japanese snacks. Unfortunately, half the Bay Area headed there at the same time! Well, not quite, but the staff member I spoke to mentioned that it was one of the busiest days they'd ever had. I'm yet to share a post about our visit so this is a good reminder to myself to get on top of that!

The following weekend saw us visiting yet another garden down south. Well, this time it was actually one of California's historical missions, but there was a beautiful garden. I'd been keen to check out more of California's missions so we spent an afternoon at Mission San Juan Bautista. It's a beautiful place filled with history, and the aforementioned gardens. We happened to visit on Palm Sunday so there were services being held when we arrived and many parishioners with elaborate crosses fashioned out of palm leaves. Once again, I'm yet to share a post about our visit so I'll get onto that.

And then it was Easter!

The girls were treated to lots of chocolates and yummy treats from the Easter Bunny along with rainbow play silks, bath bombs and sparkly hair clips from us. We ate the few hot cross buns I managed to track down, decorated eggs, and had an egg hunt out in the courtyard. Easter never feels quite like the celebration that it is back home in Australia, what with there being no four day weekend, but it was still a fun day. 

Wondering about that Kiwibot that I mentioned above? If you've been following along on Instagram for a while you would've likely seen them there. Or if you live in Berkeley you would've seen them yourself. These cute little robots zoom all around Downtown Berkeley and the Cal campus delivering food. Isn't that cool? Mathilde is obsessed with them and with her birthday coming up all she wanted was a Kiwibot of her very own. Luckily a plush Kiwibot was available and to make it even more fun, it was delivered to Mathilde inside a real Kiwibot. She was so excited. As I was going to be away for her actual birthday I arranged for it to be delivered a little early.

Why was I away for Mathilde's birthday? I was a Mom 2.0 another blogging conference. Unlike Alt Summit which stays in the same location, Mom 2.0 moves to a new city each year. The previous year I'd attended in Pasadena, California and this time around it was in Austin, Texas. We'd never been to Texas before, so I arranged for Kim and the girls to join me there at the end of the conference and we had a long weekend eating queso, frito pies, barbecue, and lots of tacos. I'm so behind with my posts that I'm also yet to write about our Texas trip but I'll have posts coming soon. I swear! During our time in Austin we visited the Texas Capitol Building, went kayaking on the Colorado River, watched bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge, visited a nearby cave system, and posed for a gazillion photos with murals. Austin is a fantastic city for street art. The very first photo at the top of this post was my favorite mural in Austin - and probably the biggest!

On the very last day of April, Kim flew from Austin to Denver to start his new job with Google in Boulder. The girls and I hung around in Austin for an extra day, flying back to the Bay Area that evening.

May was another busy month with more celebrations and events.

We started the month out with Mathilde's Super Mario themed birthday party. As we had been away in Austin the weekend closest to her birthday we held it a week later. Unfortunately this meant that Kim was not able to be there, but I guess I missed her actual birthday so it all evens out. It was such a fun party with all sorts of Super Mario themed activities. The kids hit a mystery block pinata (that was fittingly filled with chocolate coins), we played pass the parcel, made piranha plants that popped out of "pipes",  wore Mario mustaches, and ate a mushroom shaped cake.

Up next Ava and Lola took part in the Berkeley Kids' Triathlon, but apparently I didn't take any photos - which is weird, because I could've sworn that I did. Neither of the girls placed this year although Lola did come fourth in her age group. Just a little faster and she would've scored the bronze medal.

My favorite festival of all, Maker Faire, was up next. Kim had flown back to the Bay Area for a week (he worked three weeks in Boulder then one in San Francisco for a couple of months) so we all headed down to San Mateo for Maker Faire. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so good so we found ourselves spending a lot more time inside than usual. Due to the rain there weren't quite as many crazy vehicles and things shooting flames as there would usually be. It was still a fun event as always though.

The following weekend it was birthday and with very few weekends left in the Bay Area before our upcoming move we decided to visit a few places we'd been yet to visit. The first was actually a place we'd been plenty of times: the East Bay Bridge. However, usually we'd be driving across it and this time we decided to go for a walk on the (relatively) new pedestrian path. We planned to start in Oakland, walk across to Yerba Buena Island, and take the shuttle bus back. Google Maps had other plans and we couldn't find where to park for the starting point of the walk, so instead we parked on the island and took a short walk to the middle of the bridge and back. Close enough!

The following day we headed to Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. I;d been wanting to check out this museum for quite some time so I was glad we were able to fit in a visit before our move. Actually, we ended up fitting in two visits with another one for an evening event in June.
I'll be sharing a post about Chabot soon - you know, after I write those other posts I've promised above!

What a month!

With the end of the school year and the start of Summer break, June is always a crazy month. This year everything was stepped up a notch. Not only was it the end of the school year, but it was the end of Mathilde's time at preschool, the end of our school years in Berkeley and we finished the month off in Australia.

First up was Mathilde's preschool graduation. All three girls went to the same preschool in Berkeley so this really was the end of an era. It really doesn't seem that long ago that we had just arrived in the US and Ava was starting out at preschool here. Preschool was our first real sense of community in the US so it has always had a special place in my heart over the years.

Just a week after Mathilde graduated from preschool Ava and Lola finished up at school. It was so sad knowing that they wouldn't be going back in the Fall. Just like our preschool, our schools, especially our elementary school, were our community. We all made so many good friends from our time there.  Of course, the kids were more excited about the fact that they were on Summer vacation!

With only a few more weekends left in the Bay Area we were keen to get out and explore some of our favorite places one last time. The girls and I took the ferry across the Bay from Oakland and made our way to Japantown, which the kids always love because they're kind of obsessed with all things Japanese. We ate Dragon's Breath for the for time, which was a huge novelty and something the kids had been wanting to try for a long time. If you're wondering what Dragon's Breath is, it like cereal frozen in liquid nitrogen. When you bite into it you breath out a vapor that looks like smoke. It's pretty crazy!

With school finished and our trip to Australia fast approaching we squeezed in one week of junior lifeguard camp at Lake Anza in Berkeley for Ava. Ava has been going to this Summer camp for years and always loves it. We'll have to try and find something similar here in Colorado.

Another day in June, another end of an era. We celebrated our last karate class with a party with our karate family. We miss them so much. The farewell party wasn't just for us as two other families, including some of our closest friends, were moving away from the Bay Area too.

And then we were on a plane headed to Australia!

We spent two weeks in Australia catching up with friends and family in Adelaide. It was great to spend some time with everyone, visit some of our favorite places, and eat our favorite South Australian food - and we came home with a suitcase full of it! During our time in Adelaide we took a day trip to Victor Harbor with my parents and rode the classic horse drawn tram across to Granite Island, the kids did a ropes course at TreeClimb in the city, we visited Cleland Wildlife park to see the kangaroos, wallabies, emus and koalas with my best friend Kylie, and we had a party at my parents' house to catch up with everyone.

Our time in Australia extended into July so here's a bit more of our visit. We spent the first week staying with my parents and then the second week staying with Kim's parents by the beach. We did all sorts of fun beach activities - like ice skating! Ha! Ok, so that's not a particularly beachy activity, but as it was Winter we did actually go ice skating on the beach - just inside in a pop up skating rink. We also took a couple of visits to Port Adelaide and spent an afternoon at St Kilda Playground which I hadn't visited since I was a teenager. The kids loved the playground with its ziplines, giant slides and pirate ship over the water. There were also trips into the city, lots of climbing on the pig statues in Rundle Mall, and lots of tasty Balfours frog cakes. Mmm... my favorite!

Our trip to Australia flew by, and before we knew it we were flying back to California.

When we arrived back home we had one last week to get everything prepared before our move to Colorado. Ava and Lola took part in Camp Galileo while I worked on all the last minute organization. Ava spent her week at camp baking delicious treats while Lola made science and art projects based on the theme of exploring Mount Everest.

Our last full day in Berkeley we said goodbye to friends with a picnic in Cordonices Park. It was so great to catch up with some of the people that made our time in Berkeley special.

We said one last goodbye to our empty apartment and hit the road.

Rather than flying to Denver, we decided to make a road trip out of our move and spent five days driving from California to Colorado. Our first stop was South Lake Tahoe. We'd only ever visited Lake Tahoe once before and that was in the winter for some snow fun. This time around we got to experience the area in Summer. it was so beautiful. We hung out at the lake, ate lots of ice cream to cool down in the heat, took the Heavenly Gondola up the mountain for hiking and stunning views, and made s'mores at our hotel. We had such a wonderful time at Lake Tahoe that we ended up staying an extra night and wondered why we'd never been before. 

From Lake Tahoe we headed on to Salt Lake City in Utah with a stop at Bonneville Salt Flats for a run around on the salt.. Just like Lake Tahoe, we had been to Salt Lake City before but only in Winter, so while everything was familiar it was also rather different. It was so much hotter than we had anticipated. In fact, the heat made it tricky to do much, but we did still get out and about to explore Antelope Island some more. We had visited Antelope Island on our previous visit but had not been able to see the lake itself as it was shrouded in fog.

From Salt Lake City we headed on to Moab where we spent an afternoon visiting Arches National Park. We had though about giving Arches a miss given the extreme heat, but I knew that we'd regret it if we didn't stop seeing as we were so close. So we visited Arches but admittedly spent much of our time taking in the sights from the car. Even at 6pm it was still over 106F and much too hot to spend any length of time outside let alone hiking. We did take a few short walks though and the kids completed their Junior Ranger booklets earning themselves another badge. They have quite the collection now.

From Moab we drove on through the mountains and popped out the other side at our new home in Colorado. The girls were pretty excited to explore our new house, choose their bedrooms and meet the neighbors. The rest of July was spent getting our new house set up. Moving from a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment to a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom apartment with a finished basement meant that we needed to buy quite a lot of extra furniture, so I felt like I spent at least a month unpacking boxes and assembling furniture.

The first half of August was spent just like the end of July: setting up our new house. The kids and I also spent out rime exploring our new neighborhood and hanging out in the Rec Center pool.

By late August it was time for the girls to start at their new schools. We had a staggered start with Lola starting 3rd grade first, Ava starting 7th grade a day later and then Mathilde starting kindergarten the following week. Both Ava's middle school and Lola and Mathilde's elementary school are located about a 20 minute walk from home so they're pretty easy to get to. Lola, Mathilde and I usually ride our scooters while Ava either walks or rides her bike. Our schools start a little earlier than what we were used to in California so that has definitely been an adjustment. In Berkeley our elementary school started at 9:10am and we lived just a 10 minute walk away so Lola often slept in until 8:30am. Our new elementary school starts at 8am so our mornings start much, much earlier.

A few weeks after school went back we decided to take a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just a short drive away. You may remember that we had tried to visit over Winter break the previous year and had no luck due to the government shut down. Well, we were out of luck this time too. As it was a long weekend half of Colorado tried to visit Rocky Mountain too and the parking lots both in the national park and nearby Estes Park (which has a shuttle bus) were full. We were keen for some mountain exploration so we headed to the nearby aerial tramway in Estes Park and took a ride up a mountain. The views at the top were stunning, but the kids were more interested in feeding the resident chipmunks. Usually feeding wildlife is a no-no, but here it was encouraged so we bought bags of peanuts from the gift store and set off to find chipmunks. 

From exploring nature one weekend to exploring the immersive art exhibition Natura Obscura the next!

While temperatures were still pretty high here in late September, everything was starting to look like Fall. To celebrate we headed to nearby Anderson Farms for a Fall festival with Kim's work. The kids had a blast picking pumpkins, taking tractor rides, running through the corn maze, and blasting zombies with paint guns!

October soon arrived and so did our first snow of the year. As Australians who've spent the past 8 years living in California snow is a huge novelty to us. Walking to school in the steadily falling snow was a totally new experience. At this point the girls didn't have bus passes for the school bus and I was yet to get a local driver's licence, so walking to school in the snow it was. To be honest, I think we would've walked just for the experience of it even if I could drive!

After school the girls were excited to play in the snow in our yard and check out all of the icicles hanging from our Halloween decorations. 

A week later the snow was gone and we were back to warm weather - just in time for Lola's 9th  birthday party. Lola has been known to request a quirky party theme in the past (ahem, metal detector and penny finding party) and this year she went for possibly her quirkiest choice yet: a potato party! We celebrated with a fancy potato pinata, pin the top hat on the potato, potato shaped candies, potato latkes, a potato themed cake (not made from potatoes), and potato squishies as party favors. 

My favorite thing about October, apart from the fact that it's Lola's birth month, is Halloween. I can't get enough of all the spooky fun. The first Halloween themed event of the season was the Glow at the Gardens event at Denver Botanic Gardens. We had been to the Blossoms of Light event over Winter break the year before and it was stunning, so I just knew that I had to check out their Halloween event. Sculptures made of pumpkins and lights (like the dinosaur below), spooky room set ups, eerie lights projected onto buildings, jack-o'lantern heads floating in jars, pumpkin carving displays, and so many stunning lights.

And then it was the big day... Halloween!

The kids celebrated at school with costume parades and parties before we went out trick or treating in the evening. Ava dressed as Link from Legend of Zelda, Lola as a Minecraft panda, and Mathilde as Bendy from the computer game Bendy and the Ink Machine. I dressed as Pikachu (borrowing costume parts that Mathilde had worn to her school party) but as it was rather chilly Kim gave his usual nerd costume a miss and went without a costume. It had snowed again the week before Halloween (quite heavily this time) so we got to experience trick or treating in the snow. Another first for us!

As it had been quite snowy, I was able to organize bus passes for Lola and Mathilde so they can take the bus to school instead of walking on chilly days. The last bus stop before the school is actually on our street, but because we live just a little closer to the school the girls had not been eligible. This was a bummer when they had to walk to school in the snow and see the bus drive straight past us. Luckily the school district was able to make an exception for them and in late October the girls caught the school bus for the first time. We didn't have school buses growing up in Australia and we lived close to school in Berkeley and couldn't use it there, so this was a completely new experience for all of us. Mathilde made the mistake of hopping on the wrong bus on the way home and went for a little adventure, but she didn't seem phased by it - and I made sure to write their bus number in big writing on their passes!

Oh, and speaking of transport, I finally got myself a driver's license in October! No photos of that though! I loved not needing to drive when we lived in Berkeley and tried as hard as I could to stick with it when we moved to Colorado, but unfortunately everything is so much more spread out here making walking everywhere a little tricky. We still walk as much as we can though (eg. to school on non-snowy days).

November is always a pretty quiet month for us with not a whole lot happening. It's a nice break between the craziness of Halloween and the extreme craziness of Christmas. This year the Christmas festivities started in November with a visit to the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver for their annual Champagne Cascade event. I went along with my friend Hannah who also came along with me to the Glow in the Gardens event in October.

Next up the girls had a week off school for Thanksgiving. We had thought about going away on a trip but decided to stay local and do a little exploring close by instead. We started the break off with a visit to a fun breakfast cafe in nearby Arvada called Cereal Box. The kids got to chose their cereal, flavored milk to go on top, and as many toppings as they'd like. It was pretty fun and the cafe has a huge range of cereals that we'd never seen before.

Later that same day there was a snow storm warning so we made sure to be prepared with plenty of food at home and hunkered down for the snow. We were in for a surprise in the morning! Within not many hours we had close to 2 feet of snow fall! Check out what our yard looked like! Once the snow stopped falling as heavily the kids headed outside to shovel the walkways - which was a monumental task, but still quite the novelty as it was completely new to us. It took weeks before most of the snow was gone, and months later we still have a little ice left in the more shaded parts of our backyard. There are plenty of houses around that still have snow filled yard because of the direction they face.

Thanks to the heavy snow we pretty much spent the rest of the week at home as the roads were rather icy and very bumpy. The one time I went out (to buy Thanksgiving lunch supplies) the drive took twice as long as it usually would and it was hard to tell where the lanes were. 


In early December, before all of the Christmas madness set in, we decided to take a road trip to the town of Fairplay, otherwise known as South Park. Yes, that South Park. While the weather was pretty clear we didn't end up making it all the way to Fairplay due to isolated winds (or snow dump - not sure what) about half an hour outside of town. So close, but still so far. Instead of posing with cheesy cut outs of Cartman and Stan we made our way to nearby Wellington Lake where we took a short walk along the shore of the frozen lake. the kids had a blast playing with ice along the shore and apparently I freaked everyone out when I posted photos of it on Instagram. Trust me, the water was only a few inches deep under the thick ice.

And then it was time for non-stop Christmas events!

I've shared all of our Christmas fun in a round up post, which you can see here, but here are some of our favorite moments. One weekend we headed to Golden for the Olde Golden Christmas Festival. The highlight for sure was the dog rides! Ok, so we didn't actually ride on dogs, but the kids did get to go for rides in wagons pulled by giant Newfoundland dogs. 

Dog rides one weekend, pony rides the next! The following weekend we attended the Pony Holiday Festival at nearby Flatirons Equestrian. The girls rode ponies, patted animals, made s'mores and posed for photos with this little cutie below.

My favorite holiday event was our Christmas Eve visit to Camp Christmas, an immersive pop up event that featured a ton of Christmas trees, twinkling lights, festive beverages, and an overload of kitsch. I love me some kitsch! This was such a fun event and I really hope it comes back again this year.

If that wasn't enough twinkling lights for you, that evening we headed into Downtown Denver to visit the Mile High Tree. This 110ft tall "tree" is made up of thousands of twinkling lights that sparkle and change color in time to music. It's a sight to behold for sure, but even better, you can go inside of it and watch the lights dance from underneath. If you're in Denver and haven't seen the Mile High Tree yet, make sure to head to Sculpture Park by the Denver Performing Arts Complex as it's on display for just a few more days (until the end of January).

And then it was Christmas day!

The girls were excited to see that Santa visited overnight bringing them just what they'd asked for. We had a quiet day at home playing with new toys and games, eating Christmas goodies and hoping for snow. We got a handful of snowflakes mixed among some slight drizzle after lunch, but that was it. No white Christmas this year. We did get snow a few days later though and were able to go sledding in a park around the corner from our house.

Our Christmas break was pretty quiet and we spent much of the time at home, but we did have one last adventure before the year was out.

On New Year's Eve we headed into the mountains to visit the Ice Castles at Dillon. We'd been the year before and absolutely loved them so we couldn't wait to go back. This time around we went earlier in the day so we had beautiful blue skies and lots of sun. Our previous visit we'd gone later in the day so we could experience the colorful lights on the ice, and while they were beautiful, the natural ice color was more stunning in my opinion. The kids had a blast riding the ice slides, crawling through ice tunnels, and taking in the sights of the structures grown from ice crystals. If you haven't been to Ice Castles, make sure to add them to your bucket list now!

And now here we are in 2020!

If you it all the way to the end thanks for reading. You deserve an award!

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