Early bird gets the best beach spot!

pacific beach - san diego with kids

Friday morning we woke up super early – let me rephrase that – the kids woke up super early, so we packed up and headed out to breakfast. My dad’s favorite breakfast spot in San Diego is called World Famous in Pacific Beach. It’s right on the water and has great breakfast. So, with a reservation for 12 people at 8am, we found ourselves oceanside with our crew.

world famous san diego

How did we manage to get my two brothers up this early for breakfast? They were still on Austin time (2 hours ahead). My sister-in-law though … she drove down from Los Angeles at 5am. I’m telling you … our family is either pretty dedicated and amazing or we all just share a love for food. Either way, the gang’s all here!

san diego breakfast - world famous restaurant

san diego beach breakfast

san diego beach breakfast

pacific beach san diego

After the kids were done eating, my mother-in-law took them to run up and down the boardwalk so Ryan and I could eat our breakfast (God bless her). A few mimosas later (for Spencer) we headed out to the beach all together to play in sand and get the kiddos all tuckered out so they would take naps (isn’t that the daily goal of a parent?).

It was Colton’s very first time seeing the water! That was priceless. On the way over, Kelsey said to him, “Colton, the sand in your toes feels really good when the water runs over it. It kind of feels like kinetic sand.” This girl, I swear.

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Our beach boys setting up camp. Shaun, Spencer, Matt, Ryan and a giant diaper bag. Ugh. The diaper bag. I swear, I feel like I’m never going to be able to get rid of that thing.

mom blogger - traveling with kids

Colton loved the beach! He stared at it at first, but once he saw his half-mermaid sister jump right in, he did the same. He would run out to the water, let the waves crash into his feet, and then he would run back to me. I could have watched him do this for hours. It was only a matter of time before he took his shirt off and really dove in.

san diego with kids mom blog

san diego with kids mom blog

Ryan was the best with Kelsey. He got into the waves with her as they searched for seaweed, jumped over waves and – most importantly – kept me calm. I swear, I think I said, “Oooh, watch out! That’s too far. Come back. Be careful. Need me?” like a thousand times. I’m super annoying around open water.

pacific beach with kids

pacific beach with kids

mom blog

pacific beach with kids

San Diego with Kids

san diego with kids mom blogger

mom blogger beach

See the bump? That’s baby Nolan. It was his first time at the beach too! It’s surreal to think that this is our last vacation before we become a family of five. Five! Yes, we are insane. You can say it.

san diego beach with kids

pacifc beach mom blogger

This is probably one of my favorite photos of our entire vacation. Colton was so tuckered out and yet - he really wanted dad to hold him. Even though Ryan was knee-deep in the waves with Kelsey, he carried Colton the entire time so he didn’t feel left out of the party. This husband of mine is everything. I couldn’t do life, parenting or even survive without him.

Thanks for the memories, Pacific Beach. It was a day I’ll never forget.

Dinner with an (Ocean) View

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

I made so many new memories with my family and in-laws this weekend. I’m not sure how to express my emotions through this blog, but I will try.

There were so many times throughout this weekend where I had to stop and ask myself: Am I really this lucky? Do I really have this remarkable group of people around me? Are my kids really this amazing is that handsome husband over there really all mine? Sure, there were tantrums and hard moments – as you can imagine when you travel with two small children – but the memories we made cancelled all the hard times out. Travel does that to you, doesn’t it. It gives you a renewed perspective on everything.

On night one, we went to Anthony’s Fish Grotto for seafood by the ocean. We really wanted a touristy experience and someplace the kids could see the ocean (and get a little loud without anyone noticing). This was the perfect place. Dinner service was a bit slow – and with kids, you know every minute counts – but other than that, it was great.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

Kelsey requested that she sit “next to Uncle Shaun” at dinner so I didn’t stand in her way. In fact, the entire weekend, all she wanted to do was be with him. I think she has a crush on her uncles.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

At the beginning of dinner, Colton was being a little stinker. He literally tried to take his shirt off at dinner (why? because I told him not to) and kept giving me this evil stare. That is … until I found his weakness: lemons!

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

Yes, lemons! It was the only way to pull him out of his tantrum state of mind. He loves how tart they are. Want a tip when dining out with kids? Order their food first. Trust me, this way you can get them fed first, then get your food (you can actually eat this way) then go back to finding things to entertain and distract them. More lemons? We actually switched to limes after his dinner to mix things up.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

I tried to steer clear of the camera all weekend. At 8 months pregnant who really wants a snapshot of themselves. But, my mother-in-law looked so great that I couldn’t help myself.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

After dinner, we watched the sunset while walking to the car. Kelsey immediately grabbed Shaun’s hand (I was clearly chopped liver at this point) and I was able to snap a few images before the kids got too rowdy and I got too paranoid that they were going to fall into the water.

san diego vacation - mom blog san diego vacation - mom blog

San Diego Sunset - Mom Blogger

san diego vacation - mom blog

After dinner, we went over to the lounge at Grant Grill to listen to live music, enjoy some cocktails (them, not me … boo) and eat desert (that was all me!). It was truly a great kick-start to a memorable wedding weekend in San Diego

We Arrived in San Diego!

THE US GRANT San Diego Hotel

After a quick airplane ride on Thursday, we landed in sunny San Diego for my brother’s wedding. As we were waiting to check into The US GRANT Hotel, we met up with my brother and his fiancé in the hotel lobby. We were the first wedding guests to arrive so we were able to have these two love birds all to ourselves for a few hours. I soaked in every moment of that!

celestial ballroom at THE US GRANT HOTEL

Before heading out to grab lunch with these two, we took a quick sneak peek at the Crystal Ballroom where they were going to be getting married a few days later, and the black/white bridal room where the wedding party would hang out in between pictures. My pictures do not do this room justice – its gorgeous and “so Shaun” as my friends & family would say.

Crystal Ballroom at THE US GRANT Hotel - San Diego Wedding

THE US GRANT Hotel San Diego - Details

Just look at those chandeliers! They were on the ceiling, hanging from the walls, everywhere. It made for such a dramatic effect. During the ceremony, they placed a gorgeous white runner down the aisle with rose pedals. The room illuminated “love” and was truly perfect. Let’s make that PERFECT (all caps!).

The bride, Sabrina, just glowed. First off, her hair was perfect (and it’s real!) and she looked like she was shining from the inside out. You could tell she was ready to marry this man. Kelsey & Colton were so excited to see their Uncle Shaun and I was really excited to have made it to San Diego without having a baby on the plane. <insert sigh of relief>

More photos to come.

Getting ready for a wedding

san diego wedding

little boy tuxedo

Not just any wedding, my little brother’s wedding!!! I can’t handle my excitement. I feel like it was just yesterday that they got engaged, but nope – it’s been about one year and we are all ready to see these two walk down the aisle.

Kelsey is a flower girl and Colton will following right behind in a tuxedo!!! We took Colton to go buy his tuxedo last week and I honestly wasn’t sure how he would react. My assumption was that he would hate it. But it was just the opposite!

He put it on like a champ and then walked out – rather ran out – of the dressing room to show his big sister his new outfit. It was actually good insight before the wedding because he treated this like a costume; once it was on, he turned super hyper running around like a super hero. Yikes. We’ll have to tone that down before the Big Day. But … back to Colton and this little tuxedo. My heart is going to explode.

I also found my great-grandma’s white beaded evening purse that Kelsey will wear (pictured, above). How special is that? Between her looking like an angel, Colton and this bow tie, my husband in a suit, and my family all surrounded around my brother and his fiancé - it’s going to be the perfect day. I just know it! Let’s just hope I don’t go into labor. Ha. Joking. Kind of.

Austin engagement photos

A Gazillion Ducks + a Playground

pinetop lakeside

pinetop playground

pinetop lakeside

pinetop lakeside

pinetop lakeside

pinetop lakeside

pinetop lakeside

There’s this public park near our cabin in Pinetop that we love to visit – we bring a bread basket to feed the ducks and hang out by the lake. This time though, we got down to the lake and we were surrounded by BEES! You guys, bees are the one insect that I can’t stand. Like, I’m terrified of them. They were everywhere.

We ended up moving to the dock to feed the ducks, but they followed us (it’s like they knew I hated them). We ended up feeding these ducks faster than you could say, “beeeeees, run!” and then spent the remainder of this lazy, hazy day on the playground.

It’s over 100 degrees in Phoenix so as I sit here and look at all our photos from our weekend up north, I’m making myself jealous. If only a 33 week pregnant girl could squeeeeze back into a car for the 3.5 hour road trip, I would be there every single weekend.

Kindergarten Supplies + a Printable

school supplies

Eek!!! Kelsey starts school soon! We are getting ready around here. I just downloaded the school supply list, ordered her backpack + lunchbox and started getting super excited for this big milestone in her life.

Ryan thinks $100 is ridiculous to spend on a backpack, lunchbox and water bottle but if he had it his way she would bring a paper sack to school (“What?” he’d say, “It’s cheaper.”) Kelsey and I had fun shopping for her backpack. We looked at over 15 styles and in the end, she decided on this horse backpack, water bottle and matching lunchbox.

school supplies

I found the chalkboard first day of school printable on Etsy that I’m excited to use to snap a pic of Kelsey on her first day. I see parents doing that all the time and I think that’s such a wonderful keepsake to have – a photo of her on her first day and her last of kindergarten. I wonder if I’ll do this for all of my kids, or if this is just a first-time-mom thing. The print is here if you want it – only $7 for the digital download.

Party in the USA!

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fourh of july pinetop

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fourh of july pinetop

fourh of july pinetop

fourh of july pinetop

fourh of july pinetop

Where do I even start? We had the best Fourth of July in Pinetop surrounded by family & friends. My in-laws hosted a party in the pines with live music, barbecue, too-much dessert, fire pits and all the drinks you could want. My parents and best friends were in town as well, so together, we gathered around and enjoyed this remarkable holiday as one big family.

pinetop fourth of july

pinetop fourth of july

4th of july

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Pinetop collage

4th of july

fourth of july party

It was all fun and games until Colton woke up from nap and realized everyone was at his cabin. It took him about 45 minutes to be okay with the notion that these people were here to stay. Once he warmed up, and let go of my leg, we were all happy campers again.

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I can’t put my finger on it, but I love this photo so much. Thank you, Teri, for snapping it! My husband is pushing two kids on a swing and entertaining two others. And if you look reeeeally closely on the tree (front and center) you’ll see a squirrel wearing a helmet.

Thank you to my father-in-law for hosting such a memorable weekend and 4th of July party at the cabin. A lot of work goes into these things (especially when it rains and you have to move everything into the garage last-minute) and I am truly grateful!

We hope you had a wonderful time celebrating America’s birthday too!


Memorable Mornings in Pinetop

pinetop arizona

The mornings in Pinetop are some of my favorite times. We get to wake up to the sound of Aspen leaves swaying, watch the sunrise peek through the forest and smell fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen.

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We spent last weekend in Pinetop, Arizona to celebrate America’s birthday. Together with my niece and nephews, we woke up early each morning and searched for four-leaf clovers, picked wildflower bouquets, made flower crowns, wore boots with pajamas (Colton!) and swung on a swing held up between two trees.

five leaf clover

PInetop Kids small

famliy cabin

Even though getting up at the crack of dawn while on vacation doesn’t sound like a treat (and sometimes it’s not), you really get to sit back and enjoy every moment from sun up to sun down. In this photo, Colton picked up the flower and said, “Mom, this one smells like chocolate!” Perhaps it did. Who knows.

pinetop arizona


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After an amazing breakfast of pancakes piled up to the sky, we put our flowers in “vases” and headed to the lake to skip rocks. You can tell by the amount of flowers in each cup that the girls were a bit more excited about picking flowers than the boys.

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We arrived to the lake at 9:30am and didn’t leave until 11! The kids had such a great time and I really enjoyed the silence. The kids were so focused on their upcoming throw that they weren’t fighting, screaming, yelling or pushing one another. Ahhh …

pinetop lake

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They started with a few small rocks and then the kids had to find bigger and bigger ones. At one point, I turned around and Kelsey was in someone’s yard trying to roll a boulder to the edge of the lake. Sheesh!

pinetop family vacation

Did I mention we brought Elton John with us? Those glasses. I saw them at Gap and I just couldn’t resist. She loved them because it “made the world yellow.” And then about 10 minutes later, I was the one in charge of holding them and carrying them around for her.

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pinetop arizona lakes

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Mister too-cool-for-pictures these days and way too cool for kisses from mom when he’s trying to throw his 75th rock into this lake.

the lake small

Colton and his fascination with dogs! Every time we saw one he would do this:

Colton: Can I pet your dog?
Stranger: Sure
C: What’s his name?
S: Scarlet
C: Oh, Scarlet. That’s beautiful
S: Thank you
C: (pets some more. walks away)

I have to try to capture this on video. He does it the same way every time he sees an animal and this weekend was no exception. I hope he remains as sweet as he is today for the rest of his life. These kids are truly made from heaven and I’m so blessed I get mornings like this one to treasure, always.