What Real Life Looks Like

I’m so over all of the perfect family photo floating around Instagram. That. is. not. real. This is what real mom life looks like. You know, just trying to get a photo of my family but Nolan refuses to wear pants (I have to sneak into his room at night and put pajama pants on him so he won’t freeze) and Colton has so much energy that I wish I could bottle it up and use it for myself. Kelsey loves giving me attitude, rolling her eyes and making me feel like I am a mother to a teenager. But, at the end of the day, I love them so incredibly much and sometimes (just sometimes) they look at me and smile. Other times, it goes a little something like this.

mom-life-many-hats-mom-blog

mom-life-many-hats-mom-blog

mom-life-many-hats-mom-blog

mom-life-many-hats-mom-blog mom-life-many-hats-mom-blog

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.

polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

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.

family-at-polar-express

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.

polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

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.

polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

polar-express-arizona-mom-blog
polar-express-arizona-mom-blog

polar-express-many-hats-of-a-mom-blog

many hats of a mom blogger

polar-express-arizona-mom-blog

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.

polar-express-Arizona-mom-blogger

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!

A Weekend in the Woods with Nolan Ryan

A weekend in the mountains was just what I needed. While my husband took the older kids camping (photos to come), Nolan and I went to Pinetop, Arizona with my mother-in-law and Ryan’s aunt. It was the perfect retreat from the Phoenix heat and a great way to enjoy Nolan without any interruptions. I was also able to start and finish a book! Imagine that.

Here are a just a few photos from our quiet Memorial Day weekend in the woods.

DSC02428

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

DSC02407 smal3

DSC02346

DSC02432 small

DSC02539 small

DSC02478 small

phoenix mommy blogger

DSC02510

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

DSC02329

many hats of a mom blog

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.

Such a big sister!

This morning, Kelsey came to me and said, “Mom, if you get me a bottle, I can do it so you can get dressed.” It was the sweetest thing. She is such a big sister and loves her little brothers so much. I live for these moments. (Nolan is 7 weeks old today!)

many hats mom blog

Kelsey’s Family Portrait / Children’s Art

children's artwork - many hats of a mom blogger

childrens artwork - many hats of a mom blogger

A child’s artwork is so insightful, isn’t it? I don’t know about you but I always analyze my kids artwork when they come home. I guess I’m looking for clues that they are indeed happy. I’ve probably watched too many crime shows that always start with signs in kids art that they are miserable. Like, if she started drawing black clouds, skulls, fire-breathing monsters pointed at mom … that sort of thing. Is that insane of me to admit?

Anyway, no signs of anything crazy over here. Kelsey came home with this drawing of our family yesterday and I LOVE it. We are all standing in the rain, holding umbrellas, underneath a beautiful rainbow. I love how she always draws us in order by height and she always paints a scene around us.

The best part about this one is how she drew her baby brother, Nolan. She put him in my arms!! See it? I about rolled over in happy tears when she brought this one home. I love it because that is exactly how she sees our family. This picture deserves a frame, for sure.

What’s in a name

Ryan and I went through so many (so many!!) boy names before finding The One for our soon-to-be, second son. We analyzed everything. You can’t do Ross Cross, you can’t do Christian Cross (hi, religious), Ryan wanted two syllables since our last name has one and he was adamant that this name couldn’t also be a girl name (see: Peyton, Reagan, etc.). Ryan had so many requests that I’m amazed we finally picked one.

These were some close runner ups:

  • Hudson
  • Jameson
  • Carter (Although Carter Cross is a mouth full of r’s)
  • Noah
  • Spencer (My top pick! Only, it’s my brother’s name and Kelsey kept reminding us, “We already have a Spencer.”)

We finally found a name that we love. It’s a name that my father-in-law introduced us to. We heard it and were intrigued. The only issue was, we knew this boy’s middle name would be Ryan, after his dad. And together, there is already a very famous baseball player with this name. Can we do that? Can we give our son a name that someone famous already has? At first, we weren’t sure.

Then, we looked up what this name meant. The meaning behind this name is “champion” alternative meanings are “famous, noble renowned”. And that sealed the deal for us. Our little champion’s name is: Nolan Ryan Cross. I wrote it on my chalkboard in our kitchen so you know I’m serious.

Doesn’t naming your unborn child make things that much more real? I had a doctor’s appointment today and little man is transverse and kicking – rather marching around in my tummy. He’s super active already, so Lord only knows how he is going to interact with his brother, Colton. We’re going to have our hands full, that is for sure.

Some people (hi, Heidi) think I’m insane for having three kids (it’s not like I’m having 8!) but Ryan and I have always said someone is missing. And now, with baby Nolan on the way, we know our family is complete (complete … you can quote me on that). I can’t wait to meet, hold, snuggle and kiss you, Nolan! 19 more weeks!

Baby 3

We took over the mall for a few hours

shopping2

shopping4

Family night out

It was an indulge-in-a-vanilla-shake-from-IN-and-Out-Burger, mixed with shopping at the Disney store kind of night. We took the mall by storm. No really, we kind of did. Have you seen how fast Colton can run? And for whatever reason, if there is a lot of people nearby and many breakable things around, he runs even faster.

many-hats-of-a-mom-blog

many-hats-of-a-mom-blog

Taking a spin

Before we left for the store, Kelsey emptied her piggy bank and picked out all of the quarters. She stuffed them into her purse so she could pay for things at the mall. It was the sweetest thing. We rode this merry-go-round with her quarters. She even paid for her little brother to ride it twice. I don’t know who was more proud in that moment …me, or her.

shopping5

shopping6

shopping7

We found relief in Pottery Barn

Well, mostly I did. I love Pottery Barn so much and the fact that it’s all decked out in fall colors makes this mama one happy lady. While Ryan was trying to wrangle Colton from running into every shelf, corner and taking out every aisle, I was busy drooling over their new stuff. We made it through the entire store without any child knocking over anything and then I go and run right into a sign and nearly knock it over to the floor. Seriously, sometimes we worry so much about our kids and we are actually the clumsy ones.

many hats of a mom | Family night out

coltonMy people

There is nothing (nothing!) I love more than being around these people. It’s the silly things Kelsey will say, the crazy things Colton will do and the most special moments Ryan gives me just by allowing me into his heart every day. I don’t have enough lucky stars to thank for the blessings that I’ve been given. To know these three people has given me more fulfillment and joy than I could have ever asked for (I have God to thank for that).