Family Day Fun with Gifts.com

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger
gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

gifts.com - may hats of a mom blogger

Last night we ditched our plans and had a wonderful family picnic outside. In celebration of Family Day today, it was important to step away from the homework, iPhones, TV shows, laundry, swim/gym/soccer practice and just be still, together.  We were excited to partner with Gifts.com to celebrate this initiative. They sent us this amazing farmer’s market gift basket by Cherry Farms Foods.

Colton immediately gravitated toward the candies and Nolan instinctively took all of the fruit and hoarded it like baseballs. Kelsey ate all of the sea salt caramel cookies (can you blame her?) and Ryan and I just indulged in this amazing Phoenix weather. We hope you too take time out of your busy schedules to celebrate Family Day today. Do a board game. Go for a walk. Whatever floats your boat as long as you’re doing it together.

*Thank you to Gifts.com for providing great family gifts (here) to inspire families to reconnect.

Oh, and I got half of a braid in her hair! That was a huge win. She never lets me braid her hair. Half is better than nothing, so it appears we are making some progress over here.

toddler hair - phoenix mom blog

Family Breakfast at The Henry

the henry september

My brothers and sister-in-law are in town from Austin, TX. Within hours of them landing, we were at The Henry for breakfast. The kids couldn’t wait another minute without seeing them. And Colton? Yep, just as we were about to take a picture he ran into a sign and had a fit. He was totally fine. He’s just a bit dramatic. Ha! We hope you’re having a wonderful three-day weekend, too!

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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disney

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,

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.

mom blog

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.

mom blogger

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.

Nolan’s First St. Patrick’s Day

When you’re the baby of the family, not a moment goes by where someone isn’t poking, tickling, cuddling, squeezing or loving on you. Tonight was no exception. It was Nolan’s first St. Patrick’s Day and while I was snapping a photo of the crew, the kids did this.

phoenix mom blogger

I don’t know what it is about Nolan, but he is just so cuddly. Maybe it’s because he’s my baby and I just can’t get enough. When I was pregnant with him, I would sneak away from parties & events and have quiet moments with him. Usually, I would sneak out onto a porch and just sit, rub my belly, and talk to him without distraction. Now that he is born I am keeping this tradition alive. I call it our little “sneak aways.” During dinner tonight, we had a “sneak away” and Ryan caught us having a special moment.

phoenix mom blogger

phoenix mom blogger

Before she lost her first tooth

She attended her first dance! Her date was pretty awesome. It was a daddy/ daughter dance and everything about this night made me smile. Especially the part where I told Ryan to wear a suit and tie. “A suit? To an elementary school dance? No way. I’ll wear a button down,” he said. Suit yourself (no pun intended) I told him.

Let’s fast-forward about 20 minutes to when I heard the garage door opening and Ryan running upstairs. “You were right. Every dad was in a suit and tie except me. I’m going to change real fast.” I couldn’t help myself. “Told you so” just blurted out.

kelsey and ryan

The Spring Carnival

We try to go to our local carnival every year (here is 2012 and 2014). It’s pretty much the fastest way to spend $60, but it’s truly a lot of fun. This was our first year going as a family of five. It’s a pretty surreal feeling when I look back at those two blog posts and see how young everyone was (including us!).

Tonight was pretty awesome though. Besides the fact that Ryan took F O R E V E R in the ticket line trying to decide if a $30 (each) unlimited ride pass was a better value than the 40 tickets for $20. He kept looking at his phone to see “how much time we have left in the day to finish these rides.” Oh, Ryan. I can’t take this CPA anywhere.

In fact, today was monumental. Not only did we make it through the carnival with all of the kids in tact, but (are you ready for this?) we made it through with ZERO tantrums! That’s right. Not a single one. I’m speaking to you, Colton! Our spunky three-year-old was the product of perfection tonight. Ahhh … what a feeling!

mom blogger in phoenix

Here are some more pictures of our fun Sunday at a spring carnival.

mom blogger phoenix events 2

mom blogger phoenix events

mom blogger phoenix

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
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

many hats of a mom blog

family

Our Blog Worthy Lunch

There’s really nothing “blog worthy” about lunch with my family – except for the fact that it’s lunch with my family. Isn’t that enough? Oh, and the fact that I totally pulled an “instagram husbands” cliche with this shot.

mom blog phoenix

I was annoyed that Ryan took a bite out of his sandwich before I got a photo. And then we both had a good laugh at the fact that I even take detailed shots like this. I’m such a dork. It’s a sandwich, Stephanie. But a really good one at that. Thanks Wildflower Bread Company!

mom blogger in phoenix

Ryan did her hair. I bet you couldn’t even tell. We’ll call this a “messy pony tail” with a clip hanging onto her bangs for dear life. And that little baby boy of mine. Can you believe he’s almost four months old?

mom blogger in phoenix

At first glance, it looks like I’m hugging Colton all cute-like, but really I’m tackling him and trying to pin him down because he kept crawling under the table, jumping up and down and trying to climb over the booth. That’s what’s really going down in this photo.

mom blog phoenix

So, I guess lunch with my family was blog-worthy after all. In fact, it’s days like this when I am reminded how kids can truly make ordinary things feels so extraordinary.