A Happy Family Giveaway

Happy Family Snacks - Giveaway

My kids loved Happy Family snacks when they were babies and they still love it now, so you can imagine my excitement when the brand and I decided to partner up on a little giveaway. Happy Family gifted us their Snack Happy pack for our Labor Day family vacation. We went to our family cabin and took this snack pack along for the ride.

I swear having these snacks within arms reach saved us from so many would-be tantrums. We were actually riding in the car when Colton started screaming (it’s his new thing to do). I grabbed the yogurt bites for him, some organic chocolate cookies for her and within a few seconds everything was nice and silent once more. I might have snuck in a cookie for myself too. What? They’re good!

{The kids drinking their shakes and doing a ‘cheers!’}

happy family snack mom blog giveaway

Happy Family Snack  -  Many Hats of Mom

{The kids digging into the Chocolate Pumpkin cookies.}

Happy Family Snacks - Chocolate Pumpkin

happy family snacks - colton 2

happy family snacks - colton

Now for the best part … Happy Family is giving you the exact same thing they gave me. A Snack Happy pack valued at $50 and FILLED with yogurt bites, breakfast and dessert squeezies, cookies, nutritional shakes, vegetable and dried fruit snacks, a family tote and more!

happy family snack kit

I snapped this photo of the Snack Happy pack that you’ll receive. Notice the ripped green yogurt bites in the background? My kids dug into this snack pack faster than I could take a picture of it. But, you get the picture.

How to Enter

Simply follow the instructions below and you’ll be entered to win these organic snacks. Enter with your email address or Facebook log in (this only required so I can contact you if you win). Get bonus entry points for liking Happy Family brands on Facebook or commenting on this blog post.

This giveaway closes at 12am EST on September 18, 2014. One winner will be notified by email and their snack pack will be mailed within 72 hours. Only one submission per valid email address. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ice, Ice, Baby!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2014 Inner Circle Experience (ICE) at the St. Regis Bal Harbour. This was an inaugural event created by Sade Awe, the founder of The Bridal Circle. She invited about 50 of the most influential wedding planners, event designers, florists, Catering Managers, stationary companies and motivational speakers to attend a luxury marketing conference in Florida.

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

I scored an invite because I manage the wedding marketing initiatives for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and because Sade Awe and I have become great partners this past year marketing select St. Regis properties. Before I go any further, if you are an event planner … props to you! You are truly some of the most creative people that I have worked with. I really enjoyed meeting each and every one of you.

Our event started with a welcome reception and meet and greet with Alexis Maybank, founder of Gilt. Then, a welcome lunch at J&G Grill at the St. Regis resort. I sat with Kellie from The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Amy from Amy Mancuso Weddings and Anna with the Cove Atlantis. The brainchild behind the florals, the centerpiece and the event décor was Jose Graterol Designs.

Inner Circle Experience

Inner Circle Experience

Inner Circle Experience

Inner Circle Experience

Inner Circle Experience

After lunch we listed to presentations from Alexis with Gilt; Beth Hayden, author of PinfluenceCindy Novotny, and more. Instead of chairs (I mean … by this point everything was over the top and the day had just started) we were made comfortable with white suede couches, colorful pillows, St. Regis Butler service and plenty of delicious treats.

After a day full of meetings, we were welcomed to a sunset reception at the resort. There was music, drinks, great food and lots of networking going on. There was also a full moon and not a cloud in the sky.

Meanwhile, my husband was dealing with the largest rainstorm in Arizona history. No, really. The streets were flooded. I tried reeeeally hard not to socially share any photos from this evening as I felt horrible that I was enjoying a great night while he was stuck indoors with two crazy toddlers.

the inner circle experience - wedding planners weddings and events

Amy Mancuso and I really hit it off. We were the only two girls representing Arizona so we had to stick together. Amy is such a wild and crazy, talented and fun woman who made this experience that much more enjoyable for me.

weddings and events weddings and events weddings and events weddings and events
Let’s talk about this food for a second. Amazing! This guy is a culinary genius, I know I told you all about his book in this post, but seriously you guys … this food was like a slice of heaven (and it was pretty fun to photograph too).

the inner circle experience - wedding planners

the inner circle experience - wedding planners

the inner circle experience - wedding planners

the inner circle experience - wedding planners

weddings and events
The next morning the Inner Circle Experience continued with more presentations from top executives and luxury companies. The room was transformed again into a beautiful and botanical space, with succulents and lots of glam (look at the ceiling!). We heard from companies like Starwood (hurray!), Jo Malone London, Fabergé (you know … the infamous Easter egg), and motivational speaker, Simon T. Bailey.

weddings and events

weddings and events

Lunch was another WOW factor … perfectly designed and great food. I sat with Simon Bailey, Beth Hayden, Amy Mancuso and Marley Majcher, celebrity event planner and founder of The Party Goddess … we both have little girls so we had fun swapping stories of our diva daughters.

the inner circle experience - wedding planners

the inner circle experience - wedding planners
After lunch we broke into roundtables, where I got to ask and receive professional advice from Simon in an intimate setting. He was remarkable … everything you would expect in a motivational leader. We had fun making a video for my boss (who loves his work), which I’ll share with her when she gets back from her fancy vacation in Rome, Paris and Italy (me = jealous).

After another day full of meetings, we got all dolled up for an evening to remember. A formal gala. There was a cocktail reception followed by a plated meal, dinner, dancing and lots of great music by Rock with U Entertainment. I would 100% recommend these guys for any event. They were incredibly talented and got us on the dance floor, even before dinner was served!

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

This is the St. Regis Bal Harbour crew - from the Catering and Sales Managers to the Director of Sales & Marketing – they make up a great group of women and we are lucky to have them working with St. Regis.

weddings and event designThis is Sade Awe, founder of The Bridal Circle and our hostess for the week. She truly is remarkable and has fostered some deep relationships with many key influencers. What a star!

weddings and event design

weddings and event design

Ceci Johnson (Ceci New York) - Stephanie Cross (St. Regis)
I loved meeting up with Ceci Johnson with Ceci New York, you know her work. I know you do. Just click here and see some of the couture wedding invitations that she puts together. Follow her on instagram too – you’ll get a peek into some of the custom watercolor prints she makes and you’ll feel a bit more inspired with her every post.

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design
And that’s a wrap! Sade said at the beginning of the conference, “How do I wow people who do wow for a living?” Well, my friend. You just nailed it. Until next year …

stephanie cross - many hats of a mom - wedding events and design

Ever Since I got Home …

I know it’s just a phase, and Ryan keeps telling me not to take it personal, but Kelsey hasn’t been the same around me lately. When I raise my voice at her (only because I’ve asked her to do something 10 times and she is ignoring me) she barks back that, “I’m a bully,” and she says things like, “I love you mom, but you are so mean.”

Heartbreak.

Like, it literally tears my heart to shreds that she thinks I’m a bully. Is she acting like this because I was out of town working for 3 days? Or because she is four going on fourteen? Or because she is mad at me about something? I haven’t been able to figure it out. I hope it ends soon because it’s not fun. Ryan thinks she’s just in a daddy-phase. I sure hope so because I don’t like being the bad cop.

Right before dinner, I asked her if I could take her picture. “Smile, Kelsey,” I said, to which I always get some sort of smirk. And tonight? Well, this is what I got. What gives?

kelsey

 

Photo Tour of The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

Miami

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St Regis Bal Harbour Miami Resort
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Miami

Miami
Miami

Miami

Miami

Miami

Miami

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

Work took me to The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort for the past few days for a luxury marketing conference. I was visiting the resort for the first time, but I had high hopes, as it is known in our company for being one of the best properties in the Starwood portfolio. Well, the resort did not disappoint (it reminded me a lot of The St. Regis Mexico City - seen here). From the moment you walk in you are captivated by the mirrors and the interior design. It’s sophisticated, sleek and oh-so Bal Harbour.

You can feel, touch and smell opulent luxury around every corner. Purposefully, there is not a lobby. Instead there is a reception desk and a St. Regis bar & lounge for gathering. The resort was designed to give everyone an ocean view room and a patio (thank you, architects!). The rooms are spacious and full of thoughtful amenities (meaning, you don’t even need to open your own drapes, there is a button for that).

J&G Grill makes the best breakfast and they are also open for dinner. I recommend their soda – they make their own – and their truffle pizza, it was delicious. By the way, what is with J&G restaurants and their pizza? Remember this from J&G Grill in Mexico City. Speaking of great food, the pastry chef at the resort is Antonio Bachour. He is renowned for his pastries as being a work of art – and rightfully so, he is truly a master at his craft. You can sneak a peek at his work in his new book – here.

Every night a colleague and I would walk down to the ocean and stick our feet into the water. It was a full moon every night we were there (lucky us) and made for memorable views. If you are in the Miami area, make sure you visit the St. Regis. If you don’t end up staying here, come and enjoy a Bloody Mary in the bar, dinner at J&G, browse their on site art gallery (perhaps a pre-dinner massage at Remède Spa?) and then end the night Oceanside with your toes in the Atlantic.

*Make sure you say hi to Hilda. She is truly the most (and I mean this out of the bottom of my heart) hard working, special women they have on their wait staff. She catered to our every need and was always three steps ahead of us. I can’t say enough great things about Hilda and the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

A Scenic Hike for 5

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

My father-in-law convinced us all to take a scenic hike through the White Mountains while on vacation last weekend. I’m so glad that he did! It was gorgeous. I was able to chat with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, her boyfriend and my husband without interruption. The only interruption came when Lauren and I thought there was a snake around every turn, “It’s just a cricket Ryan would tell us.” Riiiiiight. Crickets hiss and rattle, eh? (don’t tell him, but he was probably right, and we were probably just paranoid.)

hiking

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

You know a hike is legit when you sport a fanny pack for your water. Notice the hats? The minute he puts a ASU hat on, I have to cancel him out by wearing a UofA hat, naturally.  Hey, they say opposites attract.

PInetop Arizona HikePinetop Arizona Day Hike

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There was this dog named, Billy, who was hiking with his owners. It was the cutest thing to watch him jump into the creek and then run up the hill to catch up with the rest of us. Billy made me miss our pooch, Logan. He would have loved it up here.

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Rob knew everything about this area. We joked that we had our own personal tour guide along for the ride. We were sure lucky to have him too … because I’m pretty sure without his guidance we would have taken a few wrong turns and ended up in the woods with snakes … ahem, lots of crickets around.

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

many hats of a mom

And that is my husband frolicking in the forest. In this moment, my husband was dancing around when he came upon an empty water bottle that some other hiker left behind. It was empty. It was crushed. And it was a bit gross. Ryan immediately picked it up and said, “It’s a good thing I found this. We need to keep the forest clean,” and then stuffed that nasty water bottle into his little fanny pack and kept on hiking. Yep, just call him Park Ranger Cross.

hikinghiking

pinetop

pinetop

pinetop

And then … my father-in-law says “Anyone want to go to Green’s Peak?” It’s just a quick 30 minute drive and its beautiful, I am told. Sure. No big deal, right? Well, he failed to mention that we would be taking a giant incline up the steepest mountain ever in our Jeep. Did I mention I am terrified of heights?

I nearly peed my pants on the drive up, but we made it. And it was beautiful. There were cows along the way, lots of pretty clouds and great views to take it. Oh, and on the way back to the cabin, Rob treated us to funnel cake from a local Indian stand near the casino. The day was perfect, in my opinion.

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greens peak

greens peak

greens peak

funnel cake

Finding your happy place

quotes
I have no idea where your happy place is, but I’m sure it’s somewhere fabulous. Maybe it’s your parents house during the holidays, or a beachside hammock in Hawaii, or simply at the bottom of a great glass of Merlot and a good book … wherever your happy place is, I hope you go there often. For me, it’s our family cabin in the mountains. It takes us about 4 hours and two screaming kids to get there, but once we are there … every moment turns into a happy one. We just returned from the cabin, here are some photos of our trip.

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This bubble maker is a cabin staple item. It’s supposed to be Colton’s favorite thing (and my last resort when I can’t get him to stop throwing a tantrum). Whenever Colton sees this bubble maker he starts freaking out in excitement, “Bubbles. Bubbles. My bubbles. Bubbles!” Then, of course, when I brought him up to the bubble maker, he just stood there frozen with his eyes wide open.

b

c

G-ma bought Kelsey this cool game of Hello Kitty. It’s basically these suction cup kittens that stick to each page, creating a new scene. She would empty her water bottle ever so carefully onto each Hello Kitty piece to create the perfect suction, and then place it ever so gently on the page. Such a meticulous one, this child is. She gets that patience and keen attention to detail from her father.

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kids

Who knew the doorbell would be such a hit. Colton would run outside and say, “Button!” and then run around the cabin to the front door. He can finally reach the doorbell now (all 37 1/2 inches of him!) and then he would knock on the door and continuously ring the doorbell until his sister answered. This was a fun game that drove everyone inside mad.

family vacation

family vacation

family vacation
We were on the swings a lot. Colton isn’t super excited in this moment because he wanted his dad to push him and not me (I’ve been demoted to someone who can only watch). And then little Kelsey Jean would only go slow (she haaaaates a fast swing ride, always has) so I was forced into taking their photos. Ha. Jokes on them.

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Ryan bought me a new camera lens, so he was being a good sport while I practiced taking close ups of him. This is also one of the last pictures you’ll see with his beard. He shaved it last night. I think he looks handsome both ways, but I was kind of excited he shaved it. I like seeing his entire face. And that thing poked my nose every time I went in for a smooch.

pinetop kelsey

My sister-in-law and her boyfriend also joined us for the weekend (which was amazing to get to know him better and see her, since she lives in California). We went on a great hike while G-Ma hung out with the kiddos. I’m telling you, when you can build babysitting into your vacation, then you’ve got it made. More photos on that hike coming soon.

Date Night Part I: RA Sushi Bar

sushi date night
Ryan and I were challenged by our church to go on a date once per week for the next four weeks. It’s part of our newest series on relationships. At first we both thought the same thing, This is kind of hard to do when you have little kids and you both work full-time, and then we turned to each other and realized that this was probably the point. Find the time. So, we put down the laptops, the iPhones and our in-laws watched the kids so we could embark on a Tuesday date night out.

sushi date night

We ran to our favorite sushi bar for a little wine and dining. We were done a lot faster than we anticipated (apparently no one goes to eat out at 5pm anymore? Anyone?) – so we ran home and watched one episode of The Killing before picking up the kids. We’ll be doing one formal date per week through the month of September. I could sure get used to this.