Resolutions for the New Year

Kelly and I hope that you all got the chance to spend time with family and friends over the holidays. We certainly did by traveling back to Wisconsin for about 10 days to see her family and then hosting my family here in Breckenridge the week after Christmas.

It was a busy few weeks, but as we look forward into 2016 we are excited (and a bit anxious) about what the future will hold. You see Kelly and I are planners – always looking forward and charting out our next moves.

The problem is we don’t know what life will look like a few months from now. It all hinges on our ability to find work in the Breckenridge area (either within the community or a work remote situation) that will allow us to live in a fairly expensive market.

Zoe’s 6th Birthday Spa Party

But, before we worry about that, we want to ensure we take full advantage of our remaining Pink Days. Here are the top items we need to focus on – call them resolutions or just the remaining goals we have for ourselves before Project Pink Day is over…

  • Soak up the time with the kids – Zoe just turned 6 last month. Alex will be 4 in February. They are getting so big and maturing way too fast. Teaching them to ski and ice skate, introducing them to Star Wars, reading, and just continuing to be present with them is a top priority before we get back to work.
  • Give back – Kelly has started volunteering one day per week at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) office. It is a great organization that helps people with any disability get out and ski. Travis has just signed up to be a volunteer at  Mountain Mentors and will be doing 1 to 1 mentoring with a local kid.
  • Complete 100 days of skiing for me and 50 for Kelly – as of today I have skied 34 days and another 8 days with the
    Lara, Dustin, Travis & Kelly top of Peak 8 in Breck

    kids (not counting them against my 100 as I don’t ski much with them).  Kelly has 17 days in.  Let it snow!!!

  • Gotta get fit! – This is a popular one with most people and is on our list as well. I want to continue with my skiing and more backcountry adventures. Kelly is getting back into yoga and other fitness classes when not on the mountain.  She’s trying to do one active thing per day and plans to pick up cross country skiing and try snow shoeing.
  • What should we be when we grow up? – To be honest we haven’t done as much soul searching as we thought we’d do to this point. Will I go back to IT or corporate life? Should I try a startup environment? Will Kelly get another masters degree – this time in counseling psychology to be a therapist? Stay home with the kids? We need to make time to figure this all out – otherwise, it won’t happen.
  • Get organized – We want to organize our digital pictures, do another round of minimizing stuff (incredible how fast more stuff came into our lives), and tighten up our budgets.
  • Read more – This one is more for Kelly and Zoe.  Kelly has gotten into checking out books on her I-Pad Kindle app and wants to knock out a few more books.  Zoe is just learning to read and we need to help encourage her more!
  • Win the lottery – Yep, we don’t really want to go back to work, so if anyone knows the winning numbers and could pass them along… that’d be great. Haha.

So, that’s it – with a few months left before we have to start getting back to reality we need to focus on what’s important. We wish you all a wonderful New Year in 2016!

Know what we DON’T miss?

Our family has been through a lot of change during this adventure. We wondered what we would miss about our previous life’s setup. We’ve missed family and friends, but nobody wants to read about sappy crap like that!

So, here are some of the top things we DO NOT miss…

  • Working – We mean not at all. Not once have we thought – gee… I sure do miss putting a Powerpoint presentation
    together. Or, we wish we could dial into a conference call right now – at 4 AM.IMG_8781
  • Shaving – Ok, this one is for me (Travis). I took advantage of “No Shave November” and grew a beard for the first time in my life. I always had to put my best corporate face forward – now I haven’t shaved in about 6 weeks. Why bother!?!
  • Our “Stuff” – It has been 8 months since we moved out of our home in Highland Park and left most of our stuff behind. And, we just don’t miss it… not one bit. The only piece of furniture we own now is a couch we bought off of Craigslist. Now ski gear… that’s a different story… lots of that!
  • Malls – We have to admit, we have done a good amount of shopping, but it’s mostly online. Partly because we’ve lived on an island and in a mountain town this whole time. Going to the mall used to be a weekly occurance. Sometimes to shop, other times to let the kids play at the “treehouse” – it was awful and we don’t miss it.
  • Traffic – We aren’t even talking about downtown Chicago traffic – we purposely lived close to the office to avoid such a IMG_3726thing. We’ve both realized that living in a small town that life is less congested and that’s how we like it.
  • Homeownership – Now we will eventually get our own place to call home again, but the break from being responsible for the maintenance and up-keep that come along with homeownership has been nice.
  • Dressing Up – Truth be told, I interviewed for a job about a month ago (just to polish up my skills). The worst part wasn’t the interview questions. It was putting on dress pants and a button down shirt. We now live our days in comfortable, casual clothes and it just feels right! It’s called “Colorado casual”!
  • Bad Weather – When we first moved here we were outside almost everyday hiking and exploring our new town in glorious sunshine – with no humidity.  Now, it may be cold and snowy right now, but it is almost always sunny when the snow isn’t coming down.  And, of course, we have lots of snowy activities right outside our door.
  • Mosquitoes – The unofficial “bird” of the midwest doesn’t live here and we couldn’t be happier about it!


Ski season has begun!

On Thursday, October 29th our ski season officially began! It is a race every year to see which Colorado ski resort can open its lifts first. The race is typically between two resorts – Loveland and Arapahoe Basin.IMG_3513

It was lucky for us that both opened on the same day, lucky that A-Basin is part of our Epic season pass, lucky that both kids were in school and lucky it’s only 30 minutes away!

After dropping the kids off at school we loaded up our trusty “White Shadow” with the gear and headed for A-Basin. The excitement was high as we took the mountain roads between Breck and A-Basin. The views were incredible.

Now, of course, the snow conditions aren’t perfect. Only one lift and one ski run were open. This made for long lift lines and lots of people on the run, which is why they call it the “white ribbon of death”. It was more about being the first people out there this season. Oh, and also about A-Basin’s famous bacon Bloody Mary’s!

I went back to A-Basin again this past Wednesday and Thursday (Kelly wasn’t feeling well).  Both were great days with fresh snow.  The lines weren’t quite as bad during the week (something we hope continues to be the case as the season goes on).IMG_3643IMG_3633

On Friday it was opening day at another resort – Keystone.  This is the resort that I would always go to as a kid when visiting my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Veryl in the winters.  Kelly and I set up a playdate for Alex and headed over in the middle of a snow storm.  That just means fresh snow, right?

Once we got to the lifts we were pleasantly surprised how short it was.  The ski runs were much longer than at A-Basin and snow conditions were absolutely perfect.  That means I have 4 ski days in the books and have 96 (at least) to go.  My goal is to join the Century Club – a ski bum badge of honor.

Kelly and I weren’t the only ones who started skiing.  I took the kids to the sledding hill a couple blocks away at Carter Park.  We did some sledding at first, but then we broke out the skis.  Both of them did great keeping the skis straight and sliding down the hill about 100 feet.  They were giddy with excitement and, of course, so was I!  Check out the videos of the Zoe and Alex below.

The ski season marks the next phase of Project Pink Day.  Pray for snow!


The Visitors (and Fun) Haven’t Stopped

It happened again! We’ve been so busy with visitors that we’ve been neglecting the blog posts.

During the summer while we were living in Ft Myers Beach, we knew we’d attract a lot of visitors. After all, it was summer, we lived on the beach, had a pool, etc. As we said in our Visitor Extravaganza post, two-thirds of our time in Florida was spent with family or friends.

We also thought once we got to Breckenridge, we wouldn’t get as many visitors – especially when there wasn’t any snow on the ground. Well, we were wrong. Dead wrong.

Our First Visitors

Kelly’s cousin Kim and her husband Mike live in Denver. Kim’s parents Uncle Ken and Aunt Mary Beth came to visit them duringIMG_8556 Labor Day weekend. They made a trip up to Breck too and spent an afternoon with Kelly and Alex doing some hiking on our favorite trail, Fairy House Trail.

That night we all headed to a rental house that Kim and Mike had lined up. We watched football, grilled brats and enjoyed the gorgeous views. The clear, starry night was amazing. Guess that ‘s what happens at 11,000 feet with no big cities for miles.


As soon as we got settled into the house after our first few weeks in Breck, we had houseguests. The occasion was Oktoberfest the IMG_7993weekend of September 11th and Breck knows how to throw one heck of a party. We hosted our friends Helen and Mark, Steph and her boyfriend Ryan.

The plan was for our friends to arrive Friday afternoon and lay low until Saturday when we had planned for a babysitter. Guess that’s famous last words as we ended up getting a “bonus” day of Oktoberfest with lots of drinks and fun. Alex was with us during the day and Zoe joined after school in her dirndl.

On Saturday morning, Steph and Ryan headed back to Denver, but Helen, Mark and the rest of us took the gondola up to the base of Peak 8 and hiked the Fairy House trail down to Sawmill. It was a nice relaxing time and the kids loved throwing rocks into the river.IMG_8001

Saturday afternoon we donned the traditional Oktoberfest lederhosen and dirndls and off we went to the party. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We spent the day on Main Street people watching, drinking and catching up. We will hold memories from this weekend dear to our hearts.


Grammy visit

My mom (aka Grammy) arrived to my brother Dustin’s place in Denver on Friday, September 18th and they drove up to Breck that night. It was another great visit and the kids always love doing projects with her.IMG_3041

The week was spent showing Grammy around Breck (her first visit). She got to take Zoe and Alex to their schools, play at the parks and, of course, do some shopping on Main Street.

We also did a couple of hikes with the kids. We did the Fairy House trail, as it’s our favorite. Also, we hiked the Iowa Hill trail where they still have a lot of artifacts on display from the mining days.

On Tuesday, we got out to the ice rink so Grammy could see Zoe and Alex in their ice skating lessons. They both did a great job showing off their new skills for Grammy.

On Thursday we all went back down to Denver for my brother’s 30th birthday. My dad flew in for the occasion too. We tried to surprise Dustin, but with a couple of slip-ups by my mom and myself, it wasn’t much of a surprise in the end.IMG_3057

We went out to dinner and when Dustin showed up Grammy had pictures of him put onto Popsicle sticks to harass the newly 30 year old. The kids loved it!

My Uncle Veryl and Aunt Debbie also joined the party. It was the first time they had met Zoe and Alex so lots of hugs for them both and, of course, harassment from Uncle Veryl was in order.

It was great having the whole family together in Colorado.

Mema & Bumpa visit

Kelly’s parents (aka Mema and Bumpa) arrived as my parents were leaving on Saturday, September 26th. We drove them up after an afternoon of drinking water and getting ready to acclimate to the altitude.IMG_5247

Sunday morning we went for Daylight Donuts, our new favorite breakfast spot in town. We then burned off some of those calories by hiking the Fairy House and Sawmill Creek trails with the kids. It was the first hike of what would later be the called “Boot Camp” week.

We grabbed lunch at The Crown on the back patio and looked at the HUGE trout by the Dredge. They were jumping out of the water and caused a frenzy when we fed them.

We ended an action packed Sunday with a night hike at Old Dillon Dam trail to view the lunar eclipse (“blood moon”). At first it was cloudy but then it cleared just in time for us to see the orange colored moon. The kids thought it was pretty cool walking down the trail with flashlights. The adults cracked some beers on the trail to celebrate.

On Monday we relaxed and decided to drive the Boreas Pass. The views up there are amazing and it was the tail end of the peak season for leaves changing.

Tuesday both kids were in school so it called for some more “boot camp” hiking. We headed up to Hoosier Pass and hiked 3 miles with expansive views down 10-mile range and Baldy Mountain. We grabbed lunch at Canteen out on the patio and enjoyed the ski area views.IMG_3215

That night we all took the kids to their ice skating class. They did really well and loved having us all there. Afterward we went to Zoe’s school so Kelly and I could get fingerprinted for volunteering. It was a great chance for Zoe to show Mema and Bumpa her school and classroom. Zoe was very proud.

Both kids have full days of school on Wednesday so we hit up a tough 5-mile hike in Frisco at North Ten Mile trail. It was a nice mix of wooded trails, beaver dams and some views of area ranges. We treated ourselves to chicken wings and potato skins at Backcountry Brewery, followed by Hefeweisen beer at Broken Compass Brewery in Breck and finished up with a tour and tastings at Breckenridge Distillery.

Boot Camp continued on Thursday with two different hikes. First was the Old Dillon Dam trail by Lake Dillon – the same one we’d done a bit of during the lunar eclipse, but now in the daytime. We then did the Iowa Hill trail in Breck. We continued our normal reward system by grabbing beers at the oldest bar this side of the Mississippi -The Gold Pan Saloon. We even met the owners as they were setting up a party for a departing employee.IMG_3205

On Friday we had Alex with us so the boot camp had to let up a bit. Mema and Bumpa played with Alex out in the yard during the morning. We then went to get Alex his Epic Pass and skis during the day while we were out for a walk. (We got Zoe hers right after school.)

We ended the amazing week with a great dinner at Blue River Bistro. We all got the steak and enjoyed a day WITHOUT hiking!

Saturday morning we got up early and drove Mema and Bumpa back down to the Denver airport. It was a great visit and we can’t wait for the next one!

Tim visits

One of my best friends, Tim, was in Colorado for a work conference and was able to break away on Saturday for a visit. We met at IMG_3360the Raven Golf Club in Silverthorne on a beautiful afternoon. We got paired up with a couple of locals that provided some good entertainment too.

After Tim had a great round of golf (typical) and I stunk it up (also typical), we headed back to Breck. Kelly got a babysitter so the three of us had a chance to go to a nice dinner and catch-up. Afterward we met my brother and his girlfriend Lara at Ollie’s to watch some college football.

We ended the night by watching “Ski School” and having drinks at our place. He took off in the morning to get back to work (bummer). It was great having Tim visit. Maybe next time with his family or the other Delt boys.


McMorrows Visit

After almost a 2-week break of visitors – a rare thing since we started Project Pink Day – our good friends Ryan and Sara McMorrow made the trip without their kids. It happened to be the same day that we got our first big snowfall, so we had some concern about getting them from the airport, but roads cleared by the afternoon.IMG_0937

After getting them at the airport early evening, we took them to Vine Street Brew Pub by my brother’s place. The plan was to stay the night there as Dustin and Lara were at a friends wedding out of town.

That night we got the kids to bed and stayed up way too late drinking, laughing and catching up. It was a really fun night of playing music from the 90’s and NOT playing any of Sara’s suggestions. Sorry Sara! The next morning we all (mostly Ryan) definitely paid for our good times!

On Friday morning we grabbed breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company. After some good food and lots of coffee we were ready for the drive up the mountain. We had to stop at a brewery called Pug Ryan’s – since Ryan owns a Pug. After a couple of beers and a light lunch, we finally got to our place in Breck.

That night we ‘d arranged a babysitter and we headed out for some bar hopping. There was a Poker Run setup that night for one of the festivals. The idea was to try out different bars with different mixed drinks and they’d give you a playing card to try to win with the best hand. We never did win, but had lots of fun.IMG_3475

On Saturday we all walked and shopped around on Main Street. Ryan even got the kids looking for “treasure” by introducing them to geocaching. They loved it and I’m sure we’ll be doing it a lot more in the future!

We hit up Breckenridge Brewery for lunch and afterward Ryan and I tried out Broken Compass. That night we were all tired and decided to stay in, make some lasagna with the kids and once they were in bed played some Cards Against Humanity – Clams!

Sunday morning I drove them down to the airport. It is always great seeing the McMorrows and is a good reminder that no matter where we live, we have some pretty great friends that we will always share good times with.

Schnurrs Visit

Andy and Melissa made the long, boring drive across Nebraska and arrived this past Friday night. Andy and I are good friends IMG_3596
from our Delt house days at Iowa State. That night was low key as we caught up, had a few drinks (including some great Ankeny brews) and watched some classics, like Better Off Dead.

Saturday was Halloween so the kids dressed up in their costumes and we all headed down to Main Street for some trick or treating at the shops. We went to our new favorite, Mi Casa, for lunch. That night Andy and Melissa headed to Ollie’s to watch the ISU vs. Texas game, while we got ready for Halloween with the kiddos.

We invited Kerry, Colum, baby Seamus and Alex’s best friend Méabh over to join us. They blocked off the roads around us, so we trick or treated in our neighborhood. Zoe’s friend Courtney and her family met up with us too. It was great weather and was so nice to have many friends around for the kids and us. There was even a free Haunted House that everyone (except me of course) went into.IMG_3564

Sunday morning we all headed down to Dustin’s for the REAL reason Andy and Melissa were here – the Broncos / Packers Sunday Night Football game – both teams were undefeated. We had lunch at Vine Street before dropping off the kids with Dustin and Lara.

While tailgating in one of the overflow parking lots, we saw some guys drinking a strange concoction. Turns out it was cava from Fiji. We took a shot not knowing how we’d react, but it all ended up fine (except for a numb tongue). We took a quick rickshaw ride to the stadium before game time.

It was a perfect evening for a night game – especially on November 1st! After soaking in the atmosphere and taking a few pictures outside, we headed into Mile High stadium. Since we didn’t have seats together we said our goodbyes then. It was a short but great visit with the Schnurrs. In the end Broncos win! Kelly wasn’t happy but the whole stadium was rocking and Broncos remained undefeated.

Can’t wait for more family and friends to come visit. Let the good times roll!

Our October “Pink” Tribute

Pink RibbonWhen Travis and I first announced “Project Pink Day” – we were met with some interesting questions. One of these was, “why the color pink – is everything ok?” Some thought that maybe there was a connection to cancer given that October is famously connected to the color pink and Breast Cancer Awareness.

We’d reassure the person asking the question – that we are fine and that the reason for the name Project Pink Day is because our daughter, Zoe, associated the pink Saturdays on the calendar with the days that mommy and daddy could stay home with her.

Now that we think about it, maybe there was a subconcsious connection being made to the color pink and what we are doing this year.   We’ve been told by friends, family, and even strangers that so many people think about taking time away from work, but they never actually know anyone who has done it. Years ago, Travis and I were in that boat too – we’d fantasize, write bucket lists, share our dreams – yet there were always too many other priorities that stood in our way of realizing the big dream.

Kelly and Al when they were 12

It wasn’t until we both lost one of my best friends in the world on October 5, 2011, Alison (Al) Foerster, to cancer, that we were smacked in the face with the reality that you may not have a tomorrow. She battled like hell for 10 months – with her courageous and loving family by her side; her husband Corey and daughters Elly and Hannah. Al never stopped fighting. We will never stop missing her – she was simply awesome. Al had the best sense of humor, the best hugs (she said she would never be the first to let go of a hug) and a cackle laugh that would make everyone laugh more.

Sadly, it was losing Al that put life into perspective for us and was a catalyst in making the decision to embark on Project Pink Day.

Another influence on our decision to take a year off was our good friends Helen and Mark. They retired early a couple years ago to travel and enjoy life together. They are so much fun and just visited us in Breck for Oktoberfest. They are also the ones we rented the condo from during our time in Ft. Myers Beach.

With Mark in Basel, Switzerland

We didn’t need another reminder that taking this year off to be with our kids and live our dreams was the right thing to do – but we got one anyway. In a tragic turn, Mark developed acute leukemia and passed away only a few days after his diagnosis on September 21, 2015. It has been difficult for us to comprehend how someone like Mark can be taken so quickly. Mark was an Ironman, triatholon and marathon athlete; a guy that made everyone feel important and loved; a guy who loved his wife, his life and prioritized experiences over stuff. Our kids adored him. We miss him and our hearts are with Helen these days.

Although we are honoring our friends Alison and Mark in this post, that is just the beginning. I think we can do more than write about them in a tribute, so Travis and I will think about how we can honor them by giving back in another way the second half of our pink day year. We’ll keep you posted on what we come up with.

Grandma Lola with Baby Zoe
Grandma Lola with Baby Zoe

We also feel it’s important to acknowledge our family members that have lost the battle to cancer as well in our October Pink tribute…


I lost my grandmother Lola to cancer. She was one of the kindest (and toughest) women I’ve ever known and beat cancer multiple times. But, finally at age 89 she could no longer fight. Her story is an encouraging one that you can live with cancer and even beat it.  Miss you Grandma!

One of my first memories of loss was when a babysitter of mine, Jane, lost her battle with cancer. Jane was like another grandmother to me and she was one of the most caring, loving people I’ve had in my life.  Zoe Jane was named after this incredible woman.  I think about her often and will always miss her.

Jane reading to Travis
Jane reading to Travis


My grandparents, Earl and Marian Puls passed away from cancer. They followed their dream after retirement and moved away from their hometown to their favorite place – their cottage in Eagle River, WI. My family now partially owns that cottage and vacations there – keeping the dream of “up north” life alive.



We know we have family and friends that have beat cancer (yeah!), are in the middle of the battle (stay strong!), and have also lost other loved ones to it. We dedicate this post to you too and send our love your way.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Well, 47 days have passed since our last Project Pink Day posting. Oops! To be honest it has been some of the craziest 47 days of our lives.IMG_2683

Last time we posted it was about our Visitor Extravaganza and leaving our beach home for fun with friends in Orlando.

Now I’m writing to you from our new home in Breckenridge, Colorado.  But, there is a lot that has gone on to get us to this point.

As I began recounting our journey it got quite long, so here’s the plan. THIS posting is the short(er) version of our adventures the last month and a half. If you want the long version of any story you can always click the links for more.

Fair warning: the Disney post could stand alone as its own guidebook!

Living it up at SeaWorld and Disney World

Our first stop after Ft Myers Beach was a week long vacation in the Orlando area. We hit up SeaWorld and Disney World with our good friends Richie, Katy and their two kids – Chloe and Ollie.IMG_0306

Day 1 was at SeaWorld – yes, we’ve seen Black Fish. The kids loved the shows – dolphins, sealions, killer whales – and the kiddie rides. The parents loved the rollercoasters, especially Manta!

We spent 3 days at Disney World – two at Magic Kingdom and one at Hollywood Studios. Thanks to Kelly’s summer long preparation, the week was filled with beating the system with Fast Passes to avoid long lines for the rides, character lunches for the kids to meet their favorite Disney stars, and parades to see dragons, hear great music, watch fireworks and see even more of their favorite characters. And, we didn’t die of heat exhaustion in 90 degree + 90% humidity thanks to a bit of rain (gotta love those ponchos!).  It also helped that we downed gallons of water and wore our “fancy” cooling shirts from Columbia.

It was an unbelievable experience for both families. We can honestly say we rocked SeaWorld and Disney World and we’ll be back – in like 5 years. If you want to know more about what we were able to do, you can click on the full blog post Living it up at SeaWorld and Disney World.

Back to the Beach

The second phase of our two weeks with Richie and Katy was at Madeira Beach near IMG_0481Tampa. Unfortunately, the beach “welcomed” us with rain, wind and 7 foot waves. After sticking it out on Sunday (during Kelly’s birthday), we decided to head south back to Ft Myers Beach where we knew the area and the forecast was much better.

Luckily we did! We were rewarded with two perfect, hot, sunny beach days and got to show our friends our old stomping grounds. For us it was a nice final goodbye to the place we’d called home for the summer. If you want more details, you can get it all at our Back to the Beach post.

On Saturday, August 8th we said goodbye to our friends and loaded up “White Shadow” (our SUV) for our road trip to Colorado. It was 3 months to the day since we arrived in Florida and it was time for our next pink day adventure!

Our Road Trip to Colorado – the long way

Now, the “short” way to drive from Madeira Beach to Denver would be 1,883 miles. However, we decided to visit friends in IMG_0023Austin, Texas along the way, which added a few hundred miles to what would already be a week long journey.

We planned to break up the long drive into a few chunks. In the end we went from Madeira Beach to Gulfport, Mississippi our first day. Not as far as we’d hoped, but monsoon-like rain in both Florida and Mississippi slowed us down.

The next day we made it to Austin to visit with our friends Tim, Andrea and their four kids – Claire, Oliver, Fiona and Alistair for a couple of days. We had a fun time watching the kids play together, enjoying delicious food, relaxing by their pool and catching up with each other.

Kelly and I decided to push it and drive direct from Austin, Texas all the way to my brother Dustin’s place in Denver in one day. The trip ended up taking a solid 14 hours, but we’d made it – we were in Colorado!

After a couple of days acclimating to the altitude and visiting with family, we headed up to Breckenridge. As we drove, we were looking forward to seeing the kids reaction to the big peaks, driving through long tunnels and seeing snow on tops of the mountains.

Well, we didn’t get any of that because they both fell asleep!!! We couldn’t blame them. It had been a long adventure up to this point. We were all tired, but as we pulled into Breckenridge – we were home.  For more on our road trip, check out the post Our Road Trip to Colorado – the long way.

First Few Weeks in Breck

What I’ve failed to mention thus far is that once we arrived in Breck, we really didn’t have a place to call home yet. Turns out the IMG_0002place we’d planned on renting was no longer an option and we found this out on our last day in Ft Myers Beach – AHHH! So during our travels from Ft Myers Beach until we arrived in Breck – we had no long-term rental finalized.

Luckily we found the perfect place just a couple blocks from our original location. The catch was we couldn’t move in until September 1st. So, we stayed in our original place short-term until that day would come.

That aside, we had a great intro to our new town. There was the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) going on with live bands, blue painted trees and artwork, of course. We also watched the bike race – USA Pro Challenge – roll through Main Street. We entered ducks in the Great Rubber Duck Race and cheered them on. Kelly and I even got to go to the Breckenridge Beer Fest with my brother Dustin – who let us stay longer than expected as he went back to watch kids… thanks Bro!

And that was just the events – we also did gondola rides, alpine slides, a few different hikes, met new friends on playdates with the kids, and more. If you want all the details you can read the full Our First Few Weeks in Breck blog post.

Well, there you have it – the (somewhat) short version of how we came to be residents of Breckenridge. Hopefully we’ll find more time to blog about our adventures and learnings along the way – and a bit more frequent than every 47 days!

Living it up at SeaWorld and Disney World

In our final weeks in Florida, we planned to go out on a high note. After packing up all of our belongings (which was harder than we thought!) into “White Shadow” during down pouring rain – we headed for Orlando.IMG_0016

We planned to do a day at SeaWorld, three days at Disney World during week 1 and then back to the beach (this time Madeira Beach) for the second week. We weren’t alone either… our good friends Richie and Katy made the trip from Zurich with their two kids, Chloe and Oliver. 


Homeless Again

After leaving our Ft Myers Beach condo, we were homeless again. Meaning all we owned was in the SUV or my brother’s basement. But, Kelly booked us into a large home in Kissimmee right next to all the theme parks we’d be going to.

The place was HUGE! Better yet, it had its own private pool and hot tub. When our friends arrived, we had the refrigerator stocked with food and adult beverages and were ready for a great week!


First stop… SeaWorld

I was in charge of the SeaWorld planning. I was a bit nervous as I planned it in a day, while Kelly worked on Disney for weeks. IMG_1557The plan worked perfectly and the kids had an amazing time. Insert my pat on the back here!

We started out early in the morning to be there when the park opened. We went straight for the Antartica: Empire of the Penguin ride and hit our first problem. The ride was closed temporarily for repair! We decided to keep the kids in line with the mommys to see how long it was going to be.

Richie and I took the opportunity to head for one of the big roller coasters. We picked Manta, which had a short line. It was one of the most incredible roller coasters either of us had been on. You laid flat and it felt like you were literally flying through the air. Best. Coaster. Ever.IMG_1573

After our ride we met up with Kelly, Katy and the kids. They were excited to share with us how cool (literally – it was freezing in there) the Penguin ride was and they got to see real penguins.

Up next was the Blue Horizons Dolphin Show. It was really cool with acrobatics, flying birds over our heads and, of course, dolphins jumping and doing tricks with the trainers. The kids eyes were glued to the pool and couldn’t get enough. Kelly was also screeching with excitement.

After the dolphins, Kelly and Katy got their chance to ride a roller coaster (The Kraken) while Richie and I took the kids to see Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High show. It was definitely a show for kids. The MC was pretty funny making fun of people as they came into the theater. The sea lions were fun to watch do their tricks throughout the skit.IMG_1598

Next it was lunchtime, so we all met up and went over to the Shark Underwater Grill. The food was amazing and was enhanced by large sharks in tanks all around us. We took our time to recharge and cool off in the restaurant before doing the shark walkway. The kids loved going through the tunnel while the sharks swam over our heads.

After lunch it was starting to rain a bit, so we headed straight for the main attraction – One Ocean at Shamu Stadium. After watching the Black Fish documentary we were excited, curious and a bit terrified to watch the killer whales (orcas) do their thing. But, it was an amazing show. The size of these animals was impressive and the tricks were fun to see. We sat in the Soak Zone, but didn’t get too wet. I have to say that I did cringe every time a trainer fed them a fish!IMG_1578

We spent a couple hours after the One Ocean show at Shamu’s Happy Harbor – aka kiddie rides. Zoe, Alex, Chloe and Ollie all had fun on train rides, jellies (like tea cups) and the Shamu roller coaster.

On the way out of the park we saw the baby dolphin nursery before stopping at Manta so Kelly and Katy could experience the awesomeness of this coaster. Once they were done, they told Richie and I to skip Kraken and do Manta again.

They didn’t have to tell us twice. We headed straight in and with a short line we got in the front row to have unobstructed view while flying through the air. It was even better than the first time. To get an idea check out this video – Manta Front POV.IMG_9927

Unfortunately, Kelly and Katy didn’t have quite as good of a time as 3 of 4 children had a complete meltdown while we were on the ride. It was the end of a long, hot day so we couldn’t blame them too much – so we went home to get rested up for Disney’s Magic Kingdom!


Disney World Rocks!

Kelly was nervous as we got up on Tuesday morning. She had spent weeks planning the perfect Disney experience with minimal IMG_0005ride waits, Fast Passes, and character lunches. The rest were excited to go to Disney for the first time. I was the only one who had been once before, but couldn’t wait to see the kids faces – and Kelly’s – as they saw it for the first time.

After dressing the kids while they were half asleep, we got them loaded into the car and we were off. Parking at Magic Kindom was efficient, but it is quite the process – parking lot to tram to ferry boat. Only to arrive to a bag check and ticket check lines. Then you’re in – phew!

We walked down Main Street of Magic Kingdom in awe of being there. THE Castle was cool to see and kids were giddy. We took a few pictures and headed straight for the Fantasyland area of the park. Our first stop was supposed to be the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but it was closed temporarily – second day and second road bump!IMG_1632

We just rolled with it and enjoyed the Winnie the Pooh attraction instead. The line was short and it had fun games for kids to play while we waited. Alex and I rode in a honey pot together and Kelly and Zoe in another. It was a bit trippy once Pooh drinks his elixer. Alex couldn’t stop yelling every time he saw Tigger!

Up next was the Under the Sea ride that featured all the best songs from The Little Mermaid. Alex had to cover his eyes when we went past the scary sea witch Ursula, but otherwise he loved it.IMG_1690

We then decided to try out Belle’s Enchanted Tales (of Beauty and the Beast). This was one of our favorite things we did. It starts by going into Belle’s father’s house where you wait in the living room before going into a workshop where a magical mirror transports you to the Beast’s castle.

We were greeted by Madame Wardrobe who informed us that we were to be characters in a play for when Belle arrived. Richie was picked first to be a knight. Zoe was Mrs. Potts and Alex was Chip the tea cup. In the end all kids got a part as a dancing spoon or talking picture frame.

We were then led into the next room where Lumière (the Candlestick) welcomed us to the play. Just then Belle herself walked in and energy from the kids and parents alike filled the room. The kids put on the play for Belle, took photos with her and got a souviner bookmark too. It was our first princess meeting and Zoe and Chloe couldn’t stop talking about it.

Afterward we went to the Barnstormer roller coaster. Zoe and Alex have become roller coaster junkies since we went to Busch IMG_1673Gardens and then SeaWorld, so that was a big hit. Next was the Dumbo ride and they really liked that you can control when you go up and down. We had another bump in the road when we had to recover a lost Ollie (he was only missing for 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes were scarier than any roller coaster of the trip!).

After that drama, we were off to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Cinderella’s Castle itself. We bought Zoe an Anna dress and Chloe wore the Elsa dress that my mom bought for Zoe. They were so excited to get dressed up as real princesses. Alex and Ollie weren’t left out though. They got their hair slicked back with some “Mickey Treausure” (glitter) sprinkled in with shields and swords as they were knighted.

They were all so cute and ready for our next stop – lunch at Cinderella’s castle. This is a MUST
DO when at Magic Kingdom – just make sure you book it 6 months in advance! As you walk in you meet Cinderella, take pictures and get her autograph. Then during a pretty tasty meal, a bunch of princesses come around to you. We saw Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) Ariel (Little Mermaid), Snow White, and Jasmine (Aladdin).IMG_1732

As we left we ran into the Sword and the Stone characters that were going to do their show. The kids got to walk with them all dressed up as princesses and knights, of course. They were very excited and tried to pull out the sword, but no luck.

At this point we decided to go back to the house and get some much needed rest. Once we got there everyone napped to recharge for the night shift. We made dinner at home and headed back to Magic Kingdom.

As we arrived the sun was going down and the Magic Kingdom was starting to light up and the Castle looked amazing. We headed back to Fantasyland to use our first Fast Pass for Peter Pan’s Flight ride. All four of us could ride on this one together and the kids loved it. It was like you were flying through the sky on a pirate ship over London and into Never Never Land. Alex would yell at Captain Hook every time he saw him!

As we left we noticed the wait time for It’s A Small World ride was short, so we headed over and basically walked right onto the ride. It wasn’t AS cheezy as I remembered it from my first trip and the kids really enjoyed it.IMG_1754

Next on the agenda was to watch the Electric Light Parade, but the rain came yet again – this time it was ruining our plans. Katy was nice enough to stay and watch the stuff and hold our spots during the 1 hour delay. Richie took Ollie to meet Mickey Mouse while Kelly and I took the kids over to the Mickey’s Philharmagic 3D show. It was was a lot of fun, especially watching the kids stand up and try to grab the 3D objects flying at them.

As we left the theater the rain stopped, so we walked over to the parade spot. Only a few minutes later the parade started. Tinkerbell lead the charge and all we could hear from the kids was “TINK! TINK! TINK!” until Tinkerbell finally waved our way. Next was Zoe screaming with excitement, “MINNIE!!!!!!”, as Minnie Mouse rode by on her float. The rest of the parade was filled with favorite Disney characters that we all enjoyed.

Our next Fast Pass was the one we’d waited for all day – Magic Kingdom’s new ride – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. Using our “rider switch trick” most of us were able to go on this coaster twice! The ride itself was a lot of fun. Kelly and Zoe got front row as we did some fast, fun and smooth turns on the coaster. It then slowed down as weIMG_1785
made our way through the mine where the dwarfs were “tinking” away at their jewels and singing “Hi Ho” as we whooshed away for some more coaster fun. At the very end you see the evil witch outside the cottage with the poisoned apple. Alex still talks about the “mean witch” and sings “Hi Ho”!

During the second ride on Mine Train by Richie & Chloe and Kelly and Zoe, we split up a bit. Alex and I did the Winnie the Pooh ride again. Katy and Ollie went to the Carousel to maximize the fun. We all met at the carousel and had a ride.

At this point it was 11 PM and the fireworks started (delayed an hour due to the rain). We were right behind the castle and sandwiched between the fireworks over the castle and the big, loud ones that are set off a bit behind. With our heads on a swivel we were overwhelmed with how much fun the day had been. Kelly shed a few happy tears.

But, it wasn’t over! We were right next to where the kids could meet Rapunzel and Cinderella. The wait was short so we went for IMG_1873it. The kids loved meeting them and getting more signatures in their books. As we exited, we noticed the wait was down to 30 minutes for Elsa and Anna (Frozen). Typically the line for these 2 princess exceeds 2 hours. It was midnight, but we went anyway. The kids were beside themselves with excitement to meet the real Elsa and Anna.

We ended the day with a walk out of the park and some pictures of the Castle. We all slept good that night with dreams of more Disney fun to come later in the week.


A much needed day off

After two days of fun at SeaWorld and Magic Kindom, we had a day off to relax. We spent the day at our rental house in the pool, hot tub and relaxing.

Well, almost a day off. Kelly booked us a dinner at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort. Dinner was buffet style with lots of good options for the kids and adults. The kids were excited as they knew they’d be meeting Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck!IMG_0053

After dinner it was straight home to bed to get some rest for our next day at Hollywood Studios.


Back to Disney – Hollywood Studios

On Thursday morning, we all got up early to be there by the time the park opened. We were pleasantly surprised that the parking lot was right next to the gates and only involved taking the tram. Much quicker and easier than Magic Kingdom!

As we entered the park, we walked directly to the Rock & Roll Rollercoaster. This was Travis’ favorite ride when he was there IMG_1964years ago. The line was already gettting long, but Kelly and Katy got through fairly quickly. They loved the indoor coaster ride!

Then it was time for Richie and I to go. We used our rider switch fast pass and got in right away. Just as we got into position to get into the coaster the lights turned on, maintenance showed up and the announcement came. The ride was having technical difficulties! Everyone in line had to exit through the emergency area, but we were handed fast passes to come back later. So close!

We met up with the rest of the group and we were off to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride with our Fast Passes at the ready. We cut the line and got into our shooters. I rode with Zoe and she had a blast shooting the bad guys and yelling out, “Look Buzz! Look Jessie!”.

Next was the Little Mermaid show. It was a combination of lasers, actors and stage props to recreate some of the best songs from the movie. To be honest it was a bit dated, but it was a hot day so the A/C was a welcomed change.

As we walked back to the strollers, we caught the end of the Frozen parade and the kids got to see Elsa waving to the crowd. It IMG_2007 (1)was a good segway to our next activity – Sing Along with Frozen show. The kids were excited to see the “real” Anna, Kristoff, and Elsa and belt out their favorite songs from the movie. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Olaf as he wasn’t part of the show.

Then it was time for another pre-booked character lunch – this time at The Vine. It was another buffet style meal where we were able to meet some of the Disney Junior characters. We met Handy Manny, Jake of the Neverland Pirates (favorites of Alex’s), Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins (favorites of Zoe’s). The kids even took part in singing and dancing all around the restaurant!

After lunch we lined up to watch the Frozen parade – this time from the beginning. Best part was at the end of the parade
Kristoff’s character was mic’d up and talking to the people in the crowd. When he saw Ollie and Alex he said, “Hey guys – us blondes need to stick together, right?” The boys didn’t respond and just stared back at him. After a long pause Kristoff said, “Alright, good talk boys, good talk!” Hilarious!IMG_2076

We then headed over to the back lot area of the park. We were able to jump right into the Muppets 3D movie without waiting so we went for it. It was entertaining and a bit nostalgic for the adults. Our favorite, of course, were the grumpy old men heckling Kermit and the other muppets.

As we exited the theater Alex caught a glimpse of Lightening McQueen and Mater from the Cars movie, so we got in line to get our pictures taken with them. As we walked around some more we got to see Sully and Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc., but the picture line was closed.

We went back home for our afternoon swim, nap and dinner and then back to Hollywood Studios. Richie and I went straight for the Rock and Roll Rollercoaster. Even with the fast pass it was a long line, but at least this time they didn’t close it on us. After
being blasted to over 60 mph and flipped around in the dark I was sure this was the best coaster at Disney!IMG_2025

The adults had Fast Passes for the Tower of Terror, but we also wanted good seats for the Fantasmic show. So, we decided to grab seats for the show first and then Richie and I headed out for the ride. Even with the Fast Pass it took a long time and the girls didn’t get a chance to use their pass or go on the ride.

On a positive note, we had great spots for the Fantasmic show and enjoyed seeing Mickey with his magic hat on, stunts, fireworks, boats with charaters floating by and the water spray that doubled as a movie screen. It was a great show and the kids kept jumping up and pointing out their favorite characters. Plus, they served beer.

On our way out of the park the fireworks show started and we stood by the entrance of the park to watch. It was another action packed, fun filled, and successful day at Disney!


One more time!

Friday was our last day for Disney – back to the Magic Kingdom! After the early wake up, parking fiasco and getting into the park, we made our first stop at Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell character meet and greets. The sign said only 15 and 5 minutes wait, but it was much longer. After the girls took 15 minutes to see Tink, the boys left the line and met up with the group.IMG_2084

We headed straight for Space Mountain to use our Fast Passes and maximized our “rider switch trick” to get some extras. Zoe and Chloe were both tall enough so Katy and I decided to take them with us. Now, I had ridden this ride years ago and didn’t think it was that “scary”.

First of all, I didn’t know it had individual seats – meaning Zoe would have to sit by herself and not next to me. As we entered a dark tunnel with blinking lights and for the couple minutes afterward we whooshed and whizzed around corners in pitch black of this roller coaster ride.  I kept my hands on Zoe’s shoulders and kept reassuring her how much fun it was.

Thankfully at the end both Zoe and Chloe seemed shocked, but no tears. We think they were being brave for each other. But, when Katy and I asked if they wanted to go again with Richie and Kelly we got a simultaneous, “NO!”

IMG_2115Meanwhile, Kelly and Richie took the boys on the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride. They had fun shooting the bad guys and helping out their favorite Toy Story buddy.

Richie and Kelly took their turn on Space Mountain. They had fun, but kept thinking the whole ride – our 5 and 6 year olds went on this!?! Yikes! Even Kelly screamed the whole way down.

Katy and I took all 4 of the kids back to the Buzz Lightyear ride. Zoe and Chloe got to go with each other and we each went with the boys. Alex loved shooting the bad guys and making the cart spin. Unfortunately the ride stopped halfway through and we were all stuck in a room with swirling stars that after 5 minutes got us very dizzy.

It was getting close to our lunch reservations at the Be Our Guest restaurant at the Beast’s castle, so we ventured that way. We saw that the wait for the Under the Sea ride was only 5 minutes so took the opportunity to ride that again before lunch. This time Alex said he wouldn’t cover his eyes when he saw the Sea Witch!

We then had lunch at the Be Our Guest restaurant. Food was ordered and then served to you in one of three areas – we chose the Grand Ballroom over the West Wing or Library. No Beast or Belle sightings though. Bummer.

After lunch we split up a bit to ride Dumbo and It’s A Small World before our Fast Pass for the Tomorrowland Speedway. Zoe went with Kelly and Alex with me in the real go-kart style cars. At first we tried to let the kids steer but after being bounced hard off the rails we decided they needed a bit more help. They loved driving for real!IMG_2134

Next we rode the Disney Train to the other side of Magic Kindgom. Timing worked well as it had started to rain a bit.

Once we got there we rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.   The ride is similar to Dumbo, but the kids loved when the camel statues spit water on us. We even saw Jasmine and Aladdin taking pictures, but we were able to convince them the line was too long.

We headed over to Thunder Mountain Railroad to use the Fast Pass/Rider Switch combo. The girls all went first while Richie and I took the boys over to the Country Bear Jamboree. The boys were not entertained much as Alex just kept asking for a snack.

After the show it was the guys’ turn to ride the Thunder Mountain with Zoe and Chloe. In the end we all got to ride that coaster a couple of times. The girls kept saying that it went upside down, but it didn’t. Just showed they thought it was pretty cool.

We then setup on the side of the road to watch the daytime parade. The kids remembered this one from YouTube and were excited to see the dragon from Sleeping Beauty because it breathed real fire!

After the parade we took the Disney Train back to the Dumbo ride area to try to find short lines so the kids could keep going on rides. We had a Fast Pass for 3 people so Katy took Ollie and Alex on Dumbo. Zoe and Chloe (being tired) started to cry that they wanted to go on it too. So, Kelly and I took the girls and waited in the normal line.IMG_2117

All was good until Alex got off Dumbo, saw that both of his parents were going on a ride without him! He screamed bloody murder and kept saying “I want my daddy!” Poor Richie had to walk him around the park with a kid yelling for his real daddy. Luckily Richie wasn’t questioned or arrested! Haha.

At this point the kids were very tired, so we decided to just walk them in the stollers to get them some rest. Then the unthinkable happened – all FOUR of them fell asleep for 2 hours! The parents took this opportunity to ride some rides, so we parked them in the shade and took turns.

Kelly watched them as Richie, Katy and I rode Space Mountain. Katy and I needed a do-over after consoling our daughters during the whole ride. It really is a fun, fast coaster. As we exited we heard an 8-year old boy yelling/crying to his mom, “That was too scary! I thought I was GOING TO DIE!!!” The three of us laughed harder than we had the whole trip, while we were secretly proud of our girls for being so brave!

Next Richie and Katy went into the Haunted Mansion and switched with us after. Even though the ride wasn’t very scary the visual effects were cool. It was also one of the few times Kelly and I got to go on a ride together. Bonus!IMG_2182

Around this time the kids started to wake up. We got them some water and snacks and walked over to the Jungle Cruise where we were able to score some additional Fast Passes. It is a boat ride through a fake jungle scene while the boat captain tells jokes so bad they are funny. Alex and Ollie were young enough to not realize the animals were fake.

Then we ate dinner at Pecos Bill Saloon. We all had a burger that was better than expected and took some time to relax and figure out what was next. Some friends had recommended the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show, so we walked back
across the park to Tomorrowland.

We timed the show pretty well and got some good seats. The show was interactive with the audience. You could even submit your own jokes to be read by one of the aliens during the show. Richie got caught on camera too. They showed the couple in front of him with wording that read “There’s a monster behind you” and they panned the camera up to show Richie. HeIMG_9947 was a natural star.

After the show we stopped to take some pictures by the castle, did some shopping on Main Street USA and breathed a sigh of relief as we had just conquered Disney with 4 kids under the age of 6 years old!

As we made our way out of Magic Kingdom for the last time we stated to feel amazed at all we were able to accomplish, how much fun the kids (and parents) had, and that we were still friends in the process. We’ll be back!

Back to the Beach

It was no mistake that we planned to do a week at SeaWorld and Disney World first and then relax at the beach for a week. So, on Saturday morning we packed everthing we owned back into “White Shadow”.IMG_0481

Since we had some time to kill between checking out of our place in Kissimmee and into Madeira Beach, we hit up the outlet mall. After shopping in the morning, we decided to try the food court for lunch. The lines were worse than Disney! So, we gave up and headed to BJ’s Brewpub instead. Good idea to avoid the lines. Great idea to avoid the torrential rain that came just as we arrived.

Unfortunately that rain continued all the way to Tampa and into Madeira Beach. When we arrived the waves were 7 feet tall crashing into the shoreline. The kids really wanted to try the pool so we went. We quickly gave up with very cold water and sand whipping our faces.

Sunday was Kelly’s birthday, so we woke up and made a nice big breakfast, gave her cards and gifts. Katy even got some flowers and balloons to brighten up another gray day. Katy and Kelly had a spa day that included wine, while RiIMG_2234chie and I stayed home and watched the kids who seemed content (most of the day) to play indoors.

While the girls were out, Richie and I may or may not have had a few beers. And, then proceeded to stack the empty beer cans to the ceiling that day. I mean we were on vacation that day too, right!?!

Richie and Katy watched the kids for us on Sunday night so Kelly and I could go celebrate her birthday with a nice dinner. We went to a great seafood place called Guppy’s. After another drink at another bar, we called it a night.

Sunday night the wind howled through the windows, rain beat against the panes and the forecast for Monday to Wednesday didn’t look much better. So, we called up our mutual friends Helen and Mark to see if we could head south to Ft Myers Beach again and rent their condo. Luckily it was available – so we drove 3 hours south to SUN!

The weather on Monday in FMB was great. We spent the afternoon at the beach and the pool and everything was right again.  Beach vacation was on! That night we hit up Pinchers Crab Shack for dinner. It really felt like going home!IMG_2293

Tuesday morning we woke up to a perfect beach day. We hauled our beach kit to our “usual” spot and spent the day searching for starfish, building sandcastles, lounging in the chairs and, of course, took out some jet skis!

That night we went into FMB downtown to get dinner at SOBs (Smokin’ Oyster Brewery) for our favorite grouper dinner. We did some touristy shopping, got an ice cream, watched the sunset from the pier and got the kids some balloon swords and animals. The perfect night!

On Wednesday morning Richie and Katy went on the jet ski dolphin tour and then we went back to Madeira Beach. We were greeted with warm weather and a beautiful sunset. The kids finally could play on the beach without the sand pecking them in the face!

On Thursday night Richie and Katy went out for a nice dinner to celebrate their anniversary! But, other than that the rest of the week was spent the way we intended –beach, sun, and good friends and a bit of Cards Against Humanity.IMG_2350

We said our goodbyes on Saturday morning before hiting the road for Colorado. It just reaffirmed that when you have great friends, like Richie and Katy, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by or how many miles apart we are – we’ll be friends for life.