Family Fun at DisneyWorld

You guys. I just found this post I had drafted from 2015. I can’t believe this post has been hiding out and never got published. It put such a smile on my face to go through the stories I wrote and the photos I captured during the holidays at Disneyworld. This was before Nolan was born, Colton had just turned two (while we were there) and Kelsey was only four.

If you don’t mind … let’s take a trip down memory lane and go through some of my favorite family photos from our trip. However, a warning is in order: I really didn’t condense down the number of photos I wanted to post. Photo overload! Sorry in advance.

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disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

disneyworld holidays

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In December, along with my family, we spent one week at the Disneyworld Parks. We went to Epcot, Disneyworld, MGM Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We experienced the character breakfast the first morning at the Disneyworld Grand Floridian Hotel (totally reminded me of the Hotel Del). And the best part? The parks were decorated for the holidays! My faaaaaaaaaaaavorite time of year.

There was Starbucks in the park. Autographs by the characters. Larger than life Christmas trees. Nighttime parades. Fireworks. A few tantrums (from the kids and from me). Great Disney desserts. A few lost park passes (mom!) and so many smiles from ear to ear from our two little kids. Colton turned 2 during our trip, so it’s a bit of a blast from the past to see him looking so little in these pictures.

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

We went to Epcot for dinner on the first night. No one told me that you had to get reservations 6 months in advance. I booked our reservations 3 months out and thought I was getting a head start. Luckily, we got great reservations at the San Angel Inn Restaurante and it was a great first night out.

It reminded me a lot of the Blue Bayuo restaurant in Disneyland. It was a themed Mexican restaurant with a huge Mayan temple inside. It was just loud enough to where the kids were able to enjoy themselves (and me!) and the drinks and food were great. There is a ride inside and a gift shop (good luck getting past that without buying something) and it truly felt like an authentic Mexican experience.

Epcot family vacation
Epcot family vacation
epcot family vacation
Epcot family vacation
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We were back at Epcot the next morning. We had just gotten Starbucks when Colton saw this huge fountain. He immediately ran to it and watched the water “jump around.” Then, he decided to squat down and refused to move. Literally. He wouldn’t budge. I think he was like this for a good 5 minutes before we bribed him with, “Nanni’s over there! Let’s go find her!”

Nanni was quickly replaced though when we spotted our first characters at Epcot: Chip & Dale. Get your autograph books out! This was a real treat and one of Kelsey’s first times really getting the concept of getting their autograph. It was so precious to watch them anxiously wait in line for this moment.

Epcot Family Vacation
Epcot Family Vacation
Epcot family vacation

He actually did good in the long lines. Some moments were better than others, but what can you expect from an almost-two-year-old. He was a perfect gentleman, most of the time. Kelsey was on point, as always. I was just happy I wore my running shoes. Do you know how much walking you do at Disneyworld? We must have taken a gazillion steps each day.

finding nemo coral reef restaurant disneyworld

epcot family vacation
epcot family vacation
Those curls! And that smile. I remember his face looking like this like it was yesterday. The humidity only made those curls more magical.
epcot family vacation

epcot family vacation

We met up with Nanni and the crew for lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant. I highly recommend reservations there if you have kids. It’s inside this huge aquarium and every seat as a great view of the sharks and fish swimming by. Colton loved it! After you exit, you can go on the Finding Nemo ride and see all the fish once more. Cute little place.

disneyworld first visit pin

Disneyworld Holidays
We went back to the main Disneyworld park that evening. It was like planes, trains and automobiles to get to into the park. You drive from your hotel to the park. Park your car. Grab the strollers. Stroll to the shuttle. Take the shuttle to your choice of the ferry or the monorail. Then stand in line to get into the gates.

Looking back though, I think getting to the park was one of the best parts for the kids. The ferry was so relaxing and cool to cruise over water as the park gets closer and closer. And the monorail was “so fast!” that Kelsey kept staring out the window in awe. Disney does that too you, doesn’t it? As parents you spend more time looking into your child’s eyes than you do experiencing the park yourself.

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Disneyworld Holidays with Kids

disneyworld during the holidays

Once you enter the Magic Kingdom and see all of the Christmas lights take over, it’s pretty remarkable. You smell the sweet scent of popcorn and hot chocolate, along with hearing Christmas carols and kids laughing for miles.

We window shopped as we walked down Maine Street, peeking inside and seeing little Disney music boxes sing and ornaments glow on little Christmas trees. Then, we made our way to the castle – the most magical thing in the place.

disneyworld during the holidays
disneyworld during the holidays

disneyworld holidays with kids
disneyworld holidays kids

disneyworld holidays kids

Disneyworld with Kids

disneyworld with kids during the holidays

We were back at it again the next morning! At this point, I thought for sure I would have lost 10lbs with all of the walking that we did, but then I remembered … the Mickey Mouse popsicles, chocolate covered bananas, churros and all of that other amazingly horrible food for you that you just have to indulge in while at Disneyworld. It’s like a right of passage.

disneyworld main street usa

disneyworld
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

Before a storm rolled in that left us SOAKED she was able to convince Grandpa to ride the merry-go-round with her. Carousels, tea cups, and this mom do not mix. So, I was happy to sit this one out. Thanks, Grandpa.

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog

disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
disneyworld mom blogger
disneyworld | many hats of a mom blog
Disneyworld has some of the best people watching. Am I right? Like this guy with the selfie stick. I can’t tell you how many selfie sticks we saw at the park. A sign of the times, don’t you think?

disney family vacation mom blogger

By the time we got to MGM Studios for their nighttime holiday shows, I was so incredibly tired. Tired of walking. Strolling. Bribing the kids to behave. All of it. I may have thrown a little adult tantrum right when we walked in. After a few minutes, my husband was able to snap me out of my terrible mood so we could enjoy the night. He’s kind of perfect like that. We saw some remarkable Christmas light displays and then wandered into a Fantasmic! Firework show.

mgm disney vacation mom blogger

disney holidays

mgm disney holidays

Then it was off to Disney’s Animal Kindgom to celebrate Colton’s second birthday! It did not feel like December, it felt like summer, and the crowds were a bit out of control, but when you look back – you never really remember all of that. You just remember these moments that make you smile from ear to ear.

disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom 2
disney animal kingdom mom bloggers
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
animal kingdom
Animal Kingdom 3
Animal Kingdom
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The next night, Ryan and I snuck off for an aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing dinner at Victoria & Albert’s. It’s this fancy pants restaurant located at one of the Disneyworld resorts. My brother and his wife gave us a $400 gift card to dine here + they babysit the kids for us. I mean, how could we not be smiling from ear to ear after this evening?

victoria and alberts orlando

victoria and alberts orlando restaurant

Then it was back to parenthood and another few days in Orlando. What an amazing vacation this was! Memories to last a lifetime, that is for sure. Tantrums and all.

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Update: We are looking to take a Disneyland trip in the Fall with all three kids (are we crazy?) and I look forward to any and all of your recommendations.

See more of my posts from past Disney family trips here, here and here,

Mimosas + a Million Dollar Listing

We attended our first client event today! Real estate agent, Lauren Emig was having her first Broker Open House and asked us if we would like to attend. My marketing agency SEE IT SIDEWAYS created a website to help Lauren sell this Silverleaf home and created a social media campaign around the Broker Open House so we ran at the opportunity to come see this house in the flesh.

This house is unreal. Even the garage was nice! The owner furnished the home just for the sale (can you imagine?) and my little nosey self-peeked in the backyard to find Restoration Hardware boxes near the trash so you know this home is styled inside and out to the nines. Check out the 3D tour here (it’s a really cool tour, not one of those cheesy ones).  

Silverleaf Real Estate Marketing See it Sideways

Silverleaf Scottsale Real Estate Marketing - SEE IT SIDEWAYS

Silverleaf Scottsale Real Estate Marketing - SEE IT SIDEWAYS

Excuse me while I pretend I work here for a second. Could you imagine if this was your home office? I would never leave work.

Silverleaf Scottsale Real Estate Marketing - SEE IT SIDEWAYS

So far, this owning-your-own-business gig is off to a wonderful start.

What Day One (at your own company) Feels Like

Day one of anything is a bit scary. It’s like walking up to the high dive when you’re little and knowing that you have to jump off the diving board otherwise you’ll be the silly girl who climbs down backwards off the ladder until she’s in a safe place. Been there. Getting outside of your comfort zone is no easy task. But, we’re ready! My business partners and I have been hustling the past few days and working harder than ever.

One of our newest clients is J and J Design Group – they are amazing interior designers, HGTV collaborators and fellow women entrepreneurs that kick butt at what they do. We are so excited to be working with fellow creatives and have already begun to pick which items in their shop we MUST have for our children’s rooms. If you haven’t already seen their work – check out their designed rooms here – and – oh my gosh, do check out their Modern Kids Rooms.

interiordesignkidrooms

interiordesignkidrooms

interiordesignkidrooms

interiordesigners_kitchen

interiordesigners_livingroom

All photos from JandJDesignGroup.com.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: SEE IT SIDEWAYS

As a mother, I have an obligation to steer my kids on the right path. This is especially true in business. As my daughter Kelsey grows into adulthood, she is going to be faced with challenges, triumph, and adversity. She’s going to have to make big decisions, take chances and follow her dreams. I can only hope that my work experiences help mold her into the successful business woman that she will become.

I say this next thing with mixed emotions.

Today is the day that I take my own motherly advice. Today is the day that I take a chance on following my dreams. After eight years working for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, I have decided to leave my job and open my own digital marketing agency, SEE IT SIDEWAYS, with two other VERY talented marketers from Starwood. I have spent the past few years commuting across town and across country and today I embark on a new chapter.

The story of how this decision came to be is a page-turner. Best told over a few cocktails. In fact, when we told someone how SEE IT SIDEWAYS came to be, their response was, “Well, now you’ve got a story! Every successful person has a story. And now you three have one heck of a story to tell.”

If you believe that everything happens for a reason, and if you really believe that hustle and heart will set you apart from anyone and anything that stands in your way, then you believe what we believe: faith, hard work and true talent is the recipe for success.

You can follow our journey through the SEE IT SIDEWAYS instagram page, through this blog or you can connect with me directly. For those who know me personally, thank you for the support and for your friendship. For those whom I just met through this blog … welcome to my life as a working mom. Hang on tight because it’s about to get real good.

seeitsideways_marketing

First Day of First Grade

Mom-Blog-School-DaysYou know the phrase, “In the blink of an eye?” I think that phrase was invented by a parent. I cannot comprehend the feeling that I was just bringing Kelsey home from the hospital, and now we are seeing her off on her first day of first grade.

As I was filling her new backpack with school supplies and packing her lunch for her first day (and yes, it includes a handwritten note telling her how proud her dad and I are of her), I started to cry. And not a pretty cry … I had a full-blown adult tantrum, hysterically crying over how big all my kids are getting.

Kelsey came up to me and gave me the biggest, tightest hug. I reassured her I wasn’t crazy and rather, I was just so proud and filled with such joy at how big she’s getting. She’s incredibly smart, nice, helpful and so kind. I know she is going to make a huge impact this year and I am so happy for her. But, she’s my little girl. My first-born baby that I cherish so much.

After I dried my tears and got it together, Kelsey and I spent 30 minutes going through old photos and blog posts of when she was little. She smiled. I cried some more. And we had some great laughs going down memory lane. She’s truly my best buddy and I am so incredibly proud of the girl she’s becoming. Here’s to another year and more school memories ahead.

I just love these two photos of her, you can really see how much she’s changed. I especially love seeing how her handwriting has evolved. See the ‘Y’ in both pictures? Last year’s was backwards and this years comes with a swirl. I love it.

Summer in Sedona with our Kids

Sedona with kids - phoenix mom bloggers

What a great weekend! We visited Sedona for the very first time and had such a great experience. Ryan and I took our oldest kids (baby Nolan stayed home with the grandparents) to see this scenic place. It was my first time visiting Sedona (I know. I know!) and Ryan went when he was little, so we’ll call this his first time too.

As we approached the city, we started to see some of the most gorgeous red rocks. They were all around! The kids thought Sedona looked like Disney’s Cars Land and we were blown away by the beauty of it all. For some reason we had envisioned a few rocks here and there, but nothing like what we saw. We felt like we were living inside of a postcard.

orchards inn sedona hotels

We were fortunate enough to be invited up by Orchards Inn, a super quaint 70-room Inn located in the middle of Uptown Sedona. Right when Colton walked into the lobby he immediately ran to the patio and said, “Whoa! Mom, come look at this!” He was staring at “Snoopy Rock” and it was truly a sight to be seen.

orchards inn family friendly sedona hotels

The view from Orchards Inn had to be one of the best views from any Sedona hotel. I can’t imagine a better one.

sedona many hats of a mom blog

Just look at the Red Rocks reflecting off of our patio window! I think Ryan could have sat in those chairs every morning and evening just taking it all in. These huge patios made our room feel so spacious.

orchards inn family friendly sedona hotels

orhcards inn family friendly sedona hotel

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

Every morning these two would overlook the pool and people watch. At night, we took blankets over to the hotel’s wedding lawn and watched the stars in the sky. The kids played with this constellation app on our iPhones and had so much fun pointing out Scorpio, Leo, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Ryan loved explaining what everything was. He’s such a science junkie. Mom on the other hand knew where the moon was and that’s about it.

orchards inn sedona hotels

I don’t know how she does it, but she manages to pose on the fly. “Kelsey, smile” somehow turns into a pointed toe, arms up in the air and a throw back of her head. I love her so much.

This picture was snapped on our way to dinner on Friday night. Directly across the street from our hotel is 89Agave – a super cute Mexican restaurant with – you guessed it – amazing views of the red rocks.

Agave89 Sedona Restaurants

I’m on the Whole 30 diet for the next 14 days so I got to watch as the kids devoured amazing cheesy dishes at this great Sedona restaurant and envied Ryan’s orange cinnamon margarita. The best part about the restaurant, for the kids, was this oversized chalkboard wall where Kelsey wrote her name and Colton drew a circle. Ha!

89agave sedona dining

89agave sedona restaurants for kids
89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids

89agave sedona restaurants for kids
After dinner we walked up and down the main street looking at all of the shops and touristy things. We listened to street music, grabbed ice cream at Black Cow Cafe and counted how many Pink Jeeps we could find.

phoenix mom blog sedona with kids

uptown sedona mom blog

sedona with kids mom blogger

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

 

 

Sedona Many Hats of a Mom Blog

Day 2 we woke up and went to West Fork Hiking Trail. It’s $10 to park (cash only!) and we recommend arriving early – as the parking lot was full when we left. West Fork hiking trail is 3.3 miles (one way) and if you hike the entire trail, you’ll cross the river 13 times. We made it across 5 times before the kids wanted to head back. Mostly because mom left the snacks sitting on our hotel room bed. Mom fail!

About three steps into our hike back to the car, the kids requested piggy back rides. We really didn’t mind because this trail was shaded, pretty tame and super scenic. If you’re in Sedona with kids, I would recommend this hike. Maybe not with a toddler on your back, but nonetheless, it was a fantastic hike for our little ones.

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

Do you see Colton down there? He was yelling, “Echo! Echo!” at this little sparrow that was sitting on a rock. I told him he could hear is echo so apparently he kept saying “Echo” so he could hear it. Makes sense.

west fork sedona hiking trail with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

west fork sedona hiking trail with kids

west fork sedona hike with kids

After the hike, we were starving! We randomly stopped at Indian Gardens because there was a sign on the front that said, “Deli”. To our surprise, this place was super charming and filled with healthy breakfast and lunch items. It reminds me of a restaurant back in Phoenix. There is indoor and outdoor seating and these amazing cupcakes that I just stared out while ordering my boring black coffee and egg whites.

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

sedona restaurants mom blogger

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

many hats of a mom blog | sedona with kids

sedona restaurants mom blogger

After our hike, we took the kids swimming back at Orchards Inn and then Ryan, Kelsey and Colton took … ready for this … a three-hour nap! I couldn’t believe it. Apparently hiking + sun + chlorine is a recipe for a very peaceful afternoon for mom.

On Saturday night, we decided to celebrate Father’s Day a day early at the Orchard Inn’s sister hotel, L’Auberge de Sedona. We ate at Etch Kitchen & Wine Bar which was located along the creek. Besides the ‘tude I got from Kelsey on the walk down to the hotel (see below), it was a great way to cap off an already amazing weekend. I know I’m saying a lot of adjectives that sound the same in this blog post but I can’t stress enough how great this weekend was.

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids mom blogger

Thanks Kelsey for snapping this picture of us. She even said, “Wait” and climbed up a few stairs so she would be tall enough to shoot the camera directly at us. Well done, sister.sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

Celebrating one of the best dad’s there is!

sedona family vacation mom blogger

sedona family vacation mom blogger

After dinner, our GPS took us to “Chapel Cross Trail” which we thought would make for a great evening hike. Turns out, it’s actually a chapel and dead ends you into a residential neighborhood. As we were getting out of the car to watch the sunset, Colton stepped on a cactus. In true Stephanie fashion, I left the first-aid kit (which I literally packed for every type of situation) in the hotel room. This was starting to be a theme on this trip.

Ryan quickly pulled out the cactus and wrapped my jacket around his leg to stop the bleeding. He was so brave and said, “It’s okay mom. I feel so much better now.” We promised him any kind of ice cream he wanted for being so brave – to which he picked mint chocolate chip. We ended the night at Baskin Robins with a bloody jacket and super happy kids. Truly a Father’s Day for the books!

 

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

sedona red rocks - phoenix mom blogger

Ryan shot this photo from our car window! I love it because it really sums up the weekend. On the car ride back, we stopped by the famous Rock Springs Cafe and picked up a few slices of pie (courtesy of our hotel) and two pies for Father’s day. If you’re making the drive to Sedona, this is a great pit stop along the way.

sedona with kids - many hats of a mom blog

Thank you to Orchads Inn and 89Agave for hosting us for two nights and one lovely dinner! It’s a summer family vacation we’ll treasure forever.

Delivering a Massage to my Doorstep

While my kids run around like lunatics, I can grab my phone and book a much-needed massage. And then when the licensed massage therapists knocks on my door, I can hand the kids off to my husband and enjoy 60 minutes of me-time … all without having to leave the house!

I was recently introduced to Zeel Massage, which is an in-home on-demand message service. Through the Zeel app (think: Uber) you can book a licensed massage therapist to come to your house, set up a shop and give you a deep tissue, swedish, sports, or just-because massage!

zeel massage mom blogger

This would also make a great gift for Father’s Day. What man wouldn’t love a massage? Use promo code DAD25 to get $25 off a gift card of massage for him. Offer expires on 6/20/16. Check out more at Zeel.com.

*This is a sponsored post but that’s really me booking and anxiously awaiting my massage.

July Book Club: What we’re reading

I recently joined a Book Club with a few mommy friends of mine. It’s basically our excuse to leave the kids with our husbands for a few hours and indulge in cocktails and some much-needed girl time. We meet once a month and take turns hosting a discussion. It’s so much fun and I encourage you to follow along. I’m hosting July’s book club and this is what I picked: The Vacationers by Emma Straub.

July-Book-Club-Discussion-The-Vacationers

I’m about half way through the book and it’s just want I needed for summer: a light, easy to read, engaging book that allows you to escape reality and enthrall yourself in another family’s drama. It’s a great story to read poolside or on your own vacation. Enjoy!

Photo by Fruetcake