New Years Day!

We got breakfast burritos for the kids and took all of their bikes to the park. Sounds normal, but it was an important day because Kelsey started riding her new bike WITHOUT training wheels! Hallelujah! All it took was a bigger bike and a bit of confidence and she was sailing.

many hats of a mom

I was a nervous wreck (does that feeling ever go away?) trying to stay within feet of her so I could catch her when she fell. She didn’t need me or Ryan though, this girl was cruising. Colton is starting on his “strider” starter bike. We love it! Have you seen this thing? No pedals to help them glide and learn how to balance. I wish we got one for Kelsey when she was learning to ride.

These little monkeys bring so much joy (and stress, let’s be clear, there is a lot of stress!) to our lives, but the pure love that radiates around us when we are all together is magic. It’s going to be a great year, I can’t wait to discover what’s in store for us.

Happy 2017, friends!

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many hats of a mom blogger phoenix

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Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

paleo pumpkin chocolate chip holiday cookies

paleo pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with holiday cookie exchanges. Mostly because since joining Whole 30 back in June, I’ve lost 30lbs and never intend to go back up in the scale. However, my weakness is SUGAR and anything sweet. Seriously, it’s a problem. I would forgo chips, cheese and dairy any day of the week but put a chocolate piece of cake in my face and it’s game over.

That said, I have to make six dozen cookies for an upcoming holiday cookie exchange so I researched a “healthier” alternative to the typical sugar cookie. I ended up finding an amazing recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies that are gluten and dairy free. Surprisingly this was super easy to make. I know people who bake say that all the time, but I don’t bake … in fact, I’m pretty horrible at it, so if I was able to master this, then you can give it a shot.

Tip: Before flattening the cookie dough at the end, I added a chocolate chip or two on top just to ensure you see the chocolate chips when its done baking. I think it looks prettier this way.

Original recipe source 

PALEO PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes: 2 dozen
Best part: Paleo, Gluten free, Dairy free

INGREDIENTS
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, almond butter, pumpkin puree, coconut sugar and vanilla. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the blanched almond flour, sea salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda.
  3. Once the dry mixture is well combined, slowly mix it into the wet ingredients until fully absorbed and a cookie dough forms. Lastly, stir in the dark chocolate chips.
  4. The dough will be sticky – I recommend chilling it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes at this point.
  5. Once the dough is chilled, roll into 24 balls and place evenly on both cookie sheets. With a separate piece of parchment paper, flatten each ball into a cookie shape of about ½ inch thickness.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until just set. Remove from oven and allow to sit for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Senior Graduation Photos

I had the pleasure of photographing Samantha’s senior college photos. She’s graduating from North Arizona University this month and will embark on her career as a teacher! We had so much fun together trying to find the perfect ways to capture the magic of this special moment in her life. Congrats, Sam! Success looks great on you.

senior photos phoenix mom blog photographer

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senior photos phoenix mom blog photographer

senior photos phoenix mom blog photographer

senior photos phoenix mom blog photographer

All Aboard the Polar Express Train!

We kicked off the holidays (and celebrated Colton’s 4th birthday) in Williams, Arizona. We drove 2.5 hours north to embark on The Polar Express train ride that takes you to the North Pole and back. It was truly THE MOST magical experience for Ryan and I and incredibly memorable for the kids. Beside that, we saw snow! The minute we spotted snow on the ground, Colton excitedly asked, “Mom is that really snow?” At that moment I realized he hasn’t seen snow since he was one years old so of course this was a huge deal for him. Nolan on the other hand was more interested in the rocks on the ground than the snow, but he’s still figuring things out.

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polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

We arrived on Saturday afternoon at The Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel where we booked their hotel package that includes free breakfast, dinner and train tickets. It was the cutest little hotel in the heart of a really charming town. We got checked in and immediately let the kids loose to run around and throw snowballs at each other.

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polar express Arizona

We then grabbed appetizers at the hotel Pub (and took a few glasses of  wine back to our room) so we could snack and gear up for the evening. We dressed kids in matching holiday pajamas from Hannah Andersson (our favorite!) and watched as they ran around the hotel room giddy in anticipation for what’s to come.

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polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

It was 28 degrees so we had to bundle up which unfortunately hid their cute jammies under big jackets but that’s the price you pay to avoid freezing your face off. Nearly every family was dressed in either matching outfits or pajamas (my kind of event!). It was really darling to see so many loved ones grouped together.

One family had grouped a few tables together at the hotel’s restaurant and had a game of Monopoly going. I thought to myself, that’s a huge commitment as no-one can finish that game in under two hours, but nevertheless they had the right idea. Grab some hot chocolate, snuggle up by the fire and indulge in game night with your family. Moments like this one where happening everywhere you looked.

As for us, we left our hotel room at 5:10 to get into the train line by 5:15 (it was that close of a walk). The kids had their train tickets in hand as we approached the station. “Don’t lose your ticket, Colton”  Kelsey would remind him. “That’s what happened to the kid in the movie and we don’t want that.” She was right. We were in train car J so we made our way through a crowd of excited families to find a conductor waiting to welcome us aboard.

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polar-express-arizona-mom-blog

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many hats of a mom blogger

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You get reserved seats when you buy tickets (just indicate if you’re doing two separate reservations that you’d like to sit together). We were so excited to find that our two rows were located in the back of the train car, making the ride feel a bit private and cozy. The train cars flip around (thank you to the kind lady who pointed this out) so we were able to face each other during the train ride and better contain our wiggly and always-in-motion toddler.

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As the train took off from the station I caught a glimpse of Colton starring out the window. He was stiff as a board and perfectly poised during the initial moments of the train. You could tell he was a little nervous and excited for what was to come. The team did a REMARKABLE job of bringing the Polar Express movie to life through the talent and decor aboard the train. I was incredibly impressed.

Less than five minutes into the train ride they started handing out hot chocolate and huge chocolate chip cookies. The hot chocolate was served at the perfect temperature for our kids little taste buds and must have been made with chocolate heaven because Ryan and I “got ours to share” but I really devoured most of it.

They played Christmas tunes as we entered a “magic tunnel” – the tunnel helped us jump into time so we could get to the North Pole much faster. They read the Polar Express book so bring your own if you want to follow along. As we approached the North Pole, Colton and Kelsey ran to the other side of the train and glued their faces to the window to get a peek at Santa and his reindeer.

We saw little itty bitty elf houses and some other scenic buildings from Santa’s hometown. As we slowed down and started going back to Arizona, we were told Santa boarded the train! This was super exhilarating for the kids. As we waited our turn for Santa to join our train car, they gave us song books and we sang Christmas carols. I’m telling you … does it get better than this?

It does because Nolan started getting sleepy and curled up into my lap as Santa arrived and greeted the kids, giving them ‘jingle bells’ just like in the movie. Colton got an extra special birthday bell and off Santa went. Ryan and I couldn’t have asked for a better evening with our family.

We highly recommend it if you get the opportunity. Next year we plan on visiting the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff, Arizona. Please let me know if you’ve been and if you have any tips!

Newborn Photos with Baby Clementine

scottsdale newborn photographer
This is the only photo I’ll post because I want Teri to be the first to post them all, but I had to share one of my favorite moments from Clementine’s newborn baby photoshoot last weekend.

She’s 4 weeks old (and born a preemie) so we wanted to wait to take her photos until she was a bit stronger. She’s already 7lbs and simply perfect. She let Teri and Danny cuddle her, change her, wrap her head in bows … whatever, she was so chill.

Nothing like my baby girl, I’ll tell you that. Seeing your friend in her zone was truly the best part of my day. Welcome to the world, baby Clementine.

Nothing but LOVE around here

We took the kids over to the Scottsdale Civic Center to explore. I was looking for new family photo locations and the kids needed to get out of the house (you have weekends like that, right?). We explored the park, tried to pet the ducks (that’s all Colton) and played around on the LOVE sign. Everything about nights like these remind me to stop and thank God for the blessings in my life.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful holiday season. xo

scottsdale family photographer

scottsdale family photographer

scottsdale family photographer

scottsdale family photographer

scottsdale family photographer
I bought Ryan this shirt for Halloween and apparently it made a second appearance tonight. Ha!

scottsdale family photographer

Good thing this isn’t a video or you would have heard me yell, “Stop attacking your little brother!” These two are starting to wrestle all the time, something this mom is not ready for.

Halloween Kid Parties!

It’s the weekend before Halloween which means our children have once again dominated our social calendar. It’s filled with school events and kid costume parties. We are so grateful for this though. It is truly what we live for these days. Tonight, our friends invited us over for wine in skeleton glasses (they so get us) and a pre-party before the kids school event. Every year I say this, and every year I mean this, there is nothing more adorable than kids in costume.

Here are a few photos from our first Halloween party of 2016!

mom blog halloween costumes

BTW, Colton has no clue (or doesn’t care) that this dog is about to lick his ear. Ha!

mom blog halloween costumes

They are the best of friends. They have been in the SAME class since they were one-years-old.

mom blog halloween costumes

mom blog halloween costumes

mom blog halloween costumes

mom blog halloween costumes

mom blog halloween costumes

mom blog halloween costumes

I bought Ryan this “Iron Man” shirt only to be told that it’s actually “Flash” – whoever that is. I’ve got to work on my Superhero knowledge. Disney Princesses are more my thing.

mom blog halloween costumes

What a great start to the weekend!

Falling in love with Pinetop, Arizona

Pinetop, Arizona does not disappoint! Especially in the fall. Last weekend we took our kids to Pinetop to enjoy cooler temps, the golden leaves and to get a little R&R. The kids loved touring the Pinetop-Lakeside Fire Station, riding their bikes around the neighborhood and roasting s’mores by the fire. We are so lucky that we can drive 3 hours east of Phoenix and find fall!

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Phoenix-mommy-blogger

Believe it or not, it was Nolan’s first time seeing golden leaves all over the ground. Every time Kelsey would throw leaves into the air, Nolan would gasp, “Ahhhhhh!” as they came crashing to the ground. He was in awe and I can’t say that I blame him. It was beautiful.

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Notice anything? She’s missing her third bottom tooth! She’s only lost the bottom row of teeth so far, which I love because I get so emotional when those things come out. I know, I know … it’s a mom thing.

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Nolan is twinning with his dad. Morning walks called for jackets and we were more than willing to comply .

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phoenix-mom-blogger

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Morning walks around our cabin lead to moments like this where I just stop, stare and thank my lucky stars for kids like this.

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Touring the fire station and getting to crawl into the firetruck was the highlight of the trip for the kids. A huge thank you to the Pinetop-Lakeside Fire Department for all they do for the community and for opening their ‘home’ to our kids. They provided hot dogs, burgers, snacks, fire prevention educational tips, a bounce house and lots of goodies for the kids. We had a blast!

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phoenix-mom-blogger

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Phoenix-mommy-blogger

How is it that she can sit on a curb, eat Cheetos and appear so much cooler than I will ever be. Sigh.

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many-hats-of-a-mommy-blog

When the boys were napping, Kelsey and I walked around the neighborhood collecting leafs for a bouquet. As soon as she walked into the cabin she threw them across the counter and forgot all about them, but it was a fun game while it lasted.

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many-hats-of-a-mommy-blog

phoenix mom blogger

many-hats-of-a-mommy-blog

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I set up my camera on a timer and wanted one family photo. However, Colton is holding a hair brush. No one brushed Nolan’s hair. Kelsey is posing behind dad and I’m barely standing  after sprinting back into position after setting the camera’s timer. I love every bit of this photo though because it’s real life.

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I caught a glimpse of Nolan throwing rocks into the lake with Ryan at sunset. It’s really cool to see Nolan hanging out with the big boys. He is walking everywhere and trying his hardest to keep up with his dad and brother.

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The last night we were in Pinetop, we walked over to the golf course and let the kids roll down the hills. You’re probably not allowed to do this so let’s keep that between us.

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Look at that determination in Nolan’s face to get up the hill! Meanwhile, his brother comes rolling down at record speed. He was so confused. ha.

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I’m framing this. He was trying to tell me that his pockets were “dirty” which then proceeded with a little giggle attack.

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many-hats-of-a-mommy-blog

phoenix mom blogger

Now, let’s go back!