School’s Out for Summer!

It’s official. Kelsey is on her way to first grade and I’m left wondering where the time goes. We were holding hands today and I kept thinking back to the first time I put her little fingers in the palm of my hand. Back to the first time I touched her cheek. The first time I combed her hair. And now look at her!

And Colton … wasn’t he just born? Now he’s less than a head shorter than Kelsey and has more personality than all three of my kids combined. His smile lights up the room, and my heart. Then there’s our little nugget, Nolan. Seven teeth and counting and only eight months young. I was rocking him to sleep tonight and I told him to stay small for just a short while longer. I’m really not ready to let these kids grow up. Mostly because it feels like with each passing year they get more and more independent from me. And while I know that’s life, and that’s what they are supposed to do, a HUGE part of my heart wants to keep them in my arms forever.

Well, we’ve been doing so much in the first few days of summer. I took Friday off of work to take Kelsey and her best friend, Colin to an indoor amusement park. We did bumper cars, mini bowling and arcade games. And then I went into the laser tag arena and came out with a migraine. Seriously. The lights! And then Saturday we took the kids to Encanto Park. I’ve been living in Phoenix forever and never knew this park existed. We were there to take family photos of one of my friends’ kids – and decided to hang out until sundown at the amusement park, Enchanted Island (located inside the park).

I’d say the first few days of summer have been good to us. Here’s to another season of more memories with these three.

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Lazy weekend mornings with my boys, and Nolan’s thighs.

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Almost as delicious as Nolan’s legs are these In-n-Out burgers.

family mom blog

Kelsey and her buddy, Colin. I think he’s trying to eat her face. You know … kids.

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Who do you think is the dominate one in the relationship?

phoenix mom blogger

Bumper cars with my little lady.

many hats of a mom blog

At the park, Kelsey had met Scarlet just five minutes prior and yet they were inseparable. Can we just take a moment to talk about their hair for a second. I mean … is this real life?

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

The two cuties on the left are twins. And who doesn’t love Colton’s little Alfalfa hairstyle in this picture. See it?

many hats of a mom blog

Summer nights are the best. And yes, I realize it’s not officially summer but we’re in Phoenix and we’re hitting triple digits already, so to us … it’s summah.

The Palace Hotel and Some Sights in San Francisco

travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog
After three-nights in Napa Valley, Ryan had to attend some business meetings in the city so we stayed one night in San Francisco before heading back home. The sights, sounds and buzz of the city wasn’t exactly what I had in mind after a few days of pure serenity, but it was fun to see The Palace Hotel and experience this luxury downtown San Francisco staple.

While Ryan was in meetings, I got to know the hotel a bit better. I worked out, dinned in the Garden Court surrounded by a gazillion chandeliers, did some window shopping at Chanel and Tory Burch and waited patiently for Ryan’s meetings to end. Even though I’m a full-time working mom, it was fun to pretend that I wasn’t. Just for a day.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

*Even the mustard was fancy.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

the palace san francisco travel blogger

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The city was in full bloom. Outside and inside of the hotel. The Palace was built in 1875 and recently came out of a restoration. It was gorgeous inside. Every corner was opulent and you could feel the rich history in all of the details, while still feeling like you were in 2016.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

the palace san francisco travel blogger

The feeling of enjoying a warm cup of coffee without three little kids screaming in your ear. Ahhh … take me back to this moment.

the palace san francisco travel blogger

*My view of the pool from the fitness center.

Before dinner, I wanted to go see the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square. You know, the “Full House” houses. Also known as Postcard Row, this cute little street was in the heart of downtown. I think everyone had the same idea as us because there were a ton of people hanging out on the hilltop directly across from the houses. We sat there too and watched as the sun’s golden rays painted the tops of city buildings.

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

I wonder what’s it’s like for the people who live in these houses. Literally, thousands of people come and sit and stare at your house. Must be strange.

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

san francisco travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

Just before sundown we walked up the grass hill in Alamo Square and stumbled upon a dog park. It was the cutest thing. Seeing these little city dogs reminded us of home. We FaceTime’d the kids before jumping into an Uber and hurrying off to dinner. I love days like this one … when you least expect it, great moments just seem to find you.

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

*The last picture I have of Ryan before he shaved his hair. Awe.

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

san francisco travel blogger

alamo square painted ladies travel blogger

many hats of a mom travel blog

After the park, we went for sushi at Pabu – it was amazing! If you like sushi, I would totally recommend this place. I’m a self-proclaimed sushi snob so my expectations were high and Pabu did not disappoint. It’s located in the financial district so you’ll see a lot of corporate folks, but the vibe was exactly what I wanted. The sushi … delicious and super innovative how they put it all together! So much so that I actually put the camera away and just indulged. I did snap this one picture of our table before we sat down.

pabu sushi in san francisco

pabu sushi in san francisco

Less than 24 hours after we arrived in San Francisco, we had to wake up and run off to the airport. Thanks to the Palace Hotel, this truly was a picture-perfect way to cap off our anniversary-kids-free-weekend. You can see more about our weekend in Napa Valley here, here and here. Thank you for following along and letting me relive these special moments through photos. I can’t wait to see where travel and adventure takes us next.

travel blogger - many hats of a mom blog

Pre-Summer Fun at Wet n’ Wild Phoenix

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

There’s something about a water park that takes you back to your childhood. I have countless memories playing in wave pools and going down water slides as a child. The smell of sunscreen, the sounds of kids laughing and the awesome feeling of anticipation you got as you dragged your tube up flights of stairs to the biggest slide they had.

Imagine my surprise when Wet n Wild reached out inviting us to experience Wet n Wild Phoenix. As the perfect way to cool off in the Phoenix heat I was super excited to go. Albeit, a bit hesitant because my kids are young – 6 years, 3 years and 8 months. I didn’t know if there were many rides they could do.

To my surprise, they have Wet n Wild Junior! It’s this spot inside the water park created just for young kids and families. The slides were the perfect height for Colton, my 3-year-old (he’s 42″). Nolan (our 8 month old) loved running through the splash pads in his dads arms.

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

 

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

We arrived at 11am (right when they opened) and snagged lounge chairs in the Junior section. Not only was there plenty of shade (a Phoenix must) but the splash pads let out a cool mist that filled the entire lounge area. I constantly felt like I was getting misted by cool water at every turn. It made the 100 degree heat bearable for once. And can we just pause for a second and look at how cute Nolan is in that hat? I mean. Those cheeks!

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

Colton went on a few slides and then started to pout because … well, because he’s three but also because he was scared of the heights and the sounds. He got this trait from me. I’m a big chicken. When I was in eighth grade, I lied to my friends and told them that my dad wouldn’t allow me to ride roller coasters just so I could avoid the internal panic that I would feel if I boarded one. So, I totally get Colton.

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

https://www.wetnwildphoenix.com/

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

The wave pool was the highlight for the kids. Ryan took them out into the deep end (which terrified me) and they jumped over waves for what seemed like ever. Nolan and I kicked it in the back and just people watched. I have to say, I felt so safe at Wet n’ Wild. There were so many attentive lifeguards that I wasn’t worried one bit about the kids. And take it from me (the worry wart) this was a great feeling. They really did a fantastic job at this water park to put my mommy mind at ease.

wet n wild phoenix mom blogger

*She’s faking it.

All in all, it was a great experience at this water park Right before we left, Ryan and Kelsey ran off to do one of the “really big slides” as she put it. I think Ryan was more excited than our six-year-old. In fact, if we were to go again I would probably dedicate more time for Ryan to take her around. My little dare-devil couldn’t get enough of this place. Oh, and for those of you wondering, ALL THREE kids passed out in the car before we even left the parking lot. Success!

Thank you to Wet n’ Wild Phoenix for hosting us today. We will be back.

Mother’s Day Morning

“WHY CAN’T IT BE KIDS DAY?” was the first thing Kelsey asked me this morning, in her most whiny voice. And then I responded in the EXACT same way my mom did years before. I said, “Every day is kids day.” And there it was. I am my mother.

Which isn’t really a bad thing. My mom is probably the most patient, loving, hilarious and beautiful woman there is. When my dad met her for the first time he said there was “a spotlight on her.” It’s true. There’s just something so special about my mom. Kelsey has that quality too. Everywhere she goes, the room lights up.

Together with my favorite boys, we celebrated Mother’s Day at church this morning. That’s my favorite place to spend a Sunday. I feel God’s presence in my heart and in the room and I am transformed.

scottsdale mom blogger

While Kelsey & Colton were in Sunday school, Nolan slept on my lap. The Pastor asked all the moms to stand up so we could give thanks and acknowledge the role a mom plays in our lives. I was the only person standing with a baby in her arms. When we were asked what we were thankful for all I had to do was tilt my head down at the little baby laying across my chest to see the amazing work God does in this world. It was a blessed morning.

After church we went to my in-laws house for Swedish pancakes, momosas, and some Bouchon Bakery muffins & scones. You see, my mother in law is one of the best cooks around so when we gifted her the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, she decided to spoil us by making some pastries. One bite of these and I was instantly transformed back to Napa Valley. 

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog - Bouchon Bakery Muffins

many hats of a mom blog - Bouchon Bakery Muffins

many hats of a mom blog

We never get clouds in Phoenix so seeing these white fluffy things in front of a clear, blue sky made for a great backdrop to our day. I was trying to teach the kids to look at the clouds and see the shapes, but they were more interested in climbing backwards out of the playhouse and tackling each other to the ground.

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog
many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

Anyone else thing we should get a monthly Mother’s Day? Me too.

Weekend Brunch at Elephant Bar

Last weekend, we took our family to brunch at the Elephant Bar. You may know the restaurant best for its happy hour and dinner menu, but brunch is a new concept they just started and we were excited to try it out.

elephant bar brunch phoenix  mom blogger

elephant bar brunch mom blogger
My husband I just got back from Napa so trading in the kids’ gymnastic classes and a bunch of errands for brunch with our family sounded like a great idea. We arrived at 10am and were greeted by a giant elephant to our right (the most amazing thing to a child). Once we settled into our table, the server brought over the menu, “We just launched brunch today!” she excitedly told us. The menu was great! My eyes quickly jumped to the Mimosa and Handcrafted Bloody Marys, but that’s besides the point.

The kids ordered the french toast with buttercake and whipped cream (a real treat for them) and we got the omelette and raspberry pancakes. The pancakes came with strawberry butter and a great raspberry sauce that Colton kept calling “ketchup” and dipping his spoon into. The strawberry butter was so good that I’m still thinking about it; I’ve got to hunt down the recipe.

elephant bar brunch mom blogger

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I had a little sugar buzz after brunch, but I think that’s because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, everything on the menu looked so great! Kelsey tried hard to sneak in a sip of coffee (yikes!) but I caught her mid sip.

elephant bar with kids

It was Nolan’s first time in a restaurant high chair! He did great. He tried to eat the menu, and the forks, and his napkin … but other than that, I’d say he loved it.

elephant bar brunch phoenix  mom blogger

elephant bar brunch phoenix  mom blogger

If you’re in the area, stop by Elephant Bar to try out their new brunch. They feature brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. When you go … get the mimosa and indulge in the pancakes! Also, bring the kids! They will love searching for animals throughout the restaurant (a game we made up to keep them occupied while we waited for the food to arrive).

elephant bar brunch phoenix  mom blogger

elephant bar

elephant bar brunch phoenix  mom blogger

*This post is sponsored by Elephant Bar, but the opinions are my own.

Napa Valley Blues, Greens and Merlots

silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley bloggersilver oak napa valley blogger

You may recognize this water tower from the Silver Oak logo – it’s not a functioning tower any more, but it sure looks nice! We visited Silver Oak Vineyards on day two. One of my sorority sisters gave me a bottle of Silver Oak Merlot for my bridal shower (over 8 years ago!) and we drank it on our first wedding anniversary. Silver Oak has been a special wine of ours ever since.

silver oak napa valley blogger
silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak napa valley blogger

Can you believe their wine was $6 per bottle when it first debuted in the ’70’s … and that was considered expensive! Most wine was being sold under a dollar. I loved this bit of history during our winery tour. For $30 per person, you can do a signature tasting & tour – they also throw in complimentary wine glasses.

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silver oak napa valley blogger

silver oak

silver oak napa valley blogger
silver oak napa valley blogger
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After Silver Oak we didn’t have any plans until late afternoon. Sometimes that’s the best part of vacation, right? Throwing out any form of a schedule and just ‘going’. That’s so hard of me to do since I’m such a Type A personality, but I’m so glad we did it because we found the most amazing restaurant, Farmstead. We heard it was one of only a few REAL farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S. Either way, we are certain they are to blame for our 6lb weight gain this trip.

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger
I mean … just look at Ryan’s Pulled Pork sandwich! This is the kind of stuff you order here. You don’t come to Farmstead to get a salad. Although, I’m sure that’s good too.

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger

Like my purple lipstick? That’s called Cabernet and it was all over my teeth too. Who cares. We’re in Napa!

farmstead napa valley travel blogger

Farmstead Napa Valley Travel Blogger
farmstead napa valley restaurants
If I could do it again, I would come back at sunset – I can only imagine how romantic it is at night with all of the lights and live music outdoors. The Farmstead property and on-site market was so charming! So much so that I turned to Ryan and told him, “THIS is what I want our home to feel like.” Yep. I have been officially inspired to re-do our house and our backyard to feel like the Farmstead. You know, minor details.

farmstead napa valley restaurants

farmstead napa valley restaurants

napa valley travel mom blogger

napa valley travel mom blogger

napa valley travel mom blogger
napa valley travel mom blogger

A little game of horseshoes, some local caramel and we were on our way to our next stop, Caymus Vineyards. 

caymus napa valley

caymus vineyards

By this time the heels had come off, the flats were on and the purple/ Merlot stained smile was in full effect. Our next stop was Frog’s Leap Vineyards. The wine wasn’t our favorite, but the view, the vibe, the people … their dog, Abbie, all of those other factors made this one of the best places we visited! They gave us a complimentary Sauvignon blanc and some apple butter from their garden for our Anniversary. The best way to end a day of tasting!

frogs leap vineyards

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa mom blogger
Forget for a moment that this is the cutest vineyard ever, with the most relaxing vibe, but then throw in Abbie – the owners dog. She is the cutest, raggiest thing and I may have been following her around yelling her name more than once. I mean … look at her. When she finally sat down and curled up at my feet, I almost lost it with excitement.

frogs leap vineyards in napa valley blog

frogs leap napa valley

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap

frogs leap napa mom blogger

frogs leap napa valley
And then – this is every husband’s dream – I made Ryan wear their vineyard hats. These hats are reserved for people on tours to shade them from the sun … but, I really think they’re reserved for moments when you’ve had a little too much to drink and you want to look amazing while walking around. Right, Ryan? He. Looks. Ridiculous. I was literally crying, I was laughing so hard.

frogs leap napa valley

frogs leap chickens

frogs leap napa mom blogger

Now, who wants to watch all three of our kids so we can make this an annual thing. :) Seriously, one of the best vacations I have had (have I said that enough?). If you haven’t been to Napa, you should make the trip. It’s remarkable how beautiful nature can be.

Our first day in Napa Valley!

If you get the opportunity to date your husband, I highly recommend it. I had THE best time with Ryan celebrating our anniversary. The grandparents (thank the Lord for them!) watched all three of our kids while we lived it up … together. Everything we did was amazing – it was the wine, the food, but mostly the great company. I laughed more than I have in a long time. I actually forgot how funny my husband is. I really can’t stress this enough: Date your spouse! Here are a few stories from our first day in Napa.

We started the day at Bouchon Bakery. It’s Thomas Keller’s bakery and it did not disappoint. We were only stopping in for coffee, but when we saw all of the pastries lined up we couldn’t resist. You know when you wake up on day two and say, “Let’s go back!” that it’s a great bakery. Worth the visit if you’re in the area.

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery

If you’re wondering, the coffee (aka the reason we came) was great too! Next stop: Duckhorn Vineyards. It was our first winery and it was the best start to the day. We showed up at 10am on a Monday and had the place to ourselves for the first hour. We were greeted with a private table on their porch (it felt like we were being invited into someone’s house) and indulged in great wine, good music and amazing views.

The vineyard cat, Kitter, was a highlight for us. She followed us around as we explored the vineyard and then perched herself onto the chair next to us. Our host for the day (James) was so welcoming. We spent about 2 hours here, just sipping wine, enjoying the breeze, chatting, laughing, and walking around the vineyard.

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Napa Valley Vineyards 2

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Did you read the sign? We parked right next to this tree. As we were walking back to the car we read that this is the tree they make wine cork from. It was super “spongey” and cool to see up close.

Napa Valley Vineyards

After Duckhorn, we visited Dean and DeLuca to grab sandwiches and snacks for lunch. This place was awesome! You can pick up meats, cheeses and crackers for a day of tasting – along with cute gifts for friends back home.

Dean and Deluca Napa Valley

Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa

Dean and Deluca Napa
Dean and Deluca Napa

You’re not supposed to do this (so .. shhhh!) but we took our lunch across the street to V. Sattui and had a picnic lunch on their lawn. Someone told me this place wasn’t worth the trip, but I disagree. The grounds were beautiful and they had so many picnic tables, making it the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. You just aren’t supposed to bring outside food in because they have their own grocery shop inside (we didn’t know that until we got there). I fell in love with the rose bushes here – take a look at how beautiful they were.

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

napa valley mom blogger

Now, for the best views of the day! After lunch, we went to Joseph Phelps for another wine tasting. As we drove up the long windy, road we knew we were in for something great. We stepped into their winery and the huge oak barrels, cozy interior design and sophisticated ambiance made for a totally different experience than Duckhorn.

We learned a lot about their wine and even got to taste Backus – a super rare wine typically reserved for wine club members only due to its very limited supply. Insignia was one of my favorite wines and one that I may have to find back in Arizona. Except it’s about $200 per bottle. That’s okay, right honey? I could hear him gulp after I told him, “Wow! I really love this one.”

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Joseph phelps 3

Joseph Phelps

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Joseph Phelps 2

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joseph phelps

How handsome is he? I’m super lucky.

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joseph phelps mom blogger
Can you believe these views? We stayed here for about two hours and the only reason we left was to get some downtime back at the hotel before dinner. I highly recommend this winery (although it’s $75 for a tasting, per person) it was worth it. Speaking of dinner, GO TO BOTTEGA. Seriously. Go. It was the best Italian food we have had in a long time. Not to mention, half way through dinner Ryan slipped me a new Tiffany necklace for our anniversary. I’m telling you … this vacation was magic!

After dinner, we walked to the local market because I forgot to pack my toothbrush (I ALWAYS forget to pack my toothbrush) and on our way back we stopped at Bistro Jeanty – super small, French bistro in the town of Yountville. We sat on this little table outside, as we waited for our Uber, listening to the most amazing music. It felt like we were in Paris.

bottega in napa valley - mom blogger

bottega in napa valley - mom blogger

This one elderly couple walked out of the restaurant as we were sitting outside. The wife took one look us – I imagine we looked weird holding a brown paper sack (my toothbrush) – and raised her hands in the air and shouted, “This is why I love this town!!!” I’m not really sure what that meant, or how many cocktails she had, but I would like to think it was because this city evokes love and joy in everyone.

Napa Valley: The Westin and Oxbow Market

My husband and I just got back from three days in Napa Valley for our anniversary! If you are looking for a new vacation spot and want some place full of beautiful scenery, amazing food, great wine (and lots of it!) then Napa Valley is for you. We saw so much and are still relishing in excitement from the trip.

Napa Valley Westin Hotel

Westin Napa Resorts

 

We stayed at the Westin Verasa Napa resort. They were so good to us; they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite upon arrival (that never happens!) and had complimentary tapas and wine every night. The resort is located within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley and the Oxbow Market, and sits along the Napa River.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the Market for dinner. We ate at Kitchen Door (the pizza is fabulous) and indulged in an old-school double scoop of ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream. We explored the many different vendors in the Market and then enjoyed a super relaxing walk back to the hotel. It was the perfect start to a vacation we’ll never forget.

Here are some photos of us exploring the Oxbow Market, and of our view walking back to the resort.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 4

 

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 3

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 2

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 1

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

I was putting the lens cap back on my camera when I accidentally snapped this picture and yet, it’s my favorite photo from the night. See my camera strap in the way? Me either. I’m just focusing on the moment too. :)