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

Elephant-Bar-Brunch-Phoenix-Mom-Blog

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: 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. 🙂

The Scottsdale Train Park

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

It was the perfect day for a perfect day. 2016 is looking like it will be a great one. Yesterday, we took the kids to the McCormick-Stillman Train Park and finally used the leftover tickets we had from our last visit, over a year ago!

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

scottsdale train park mom blog

Nolan was super chill, per usual. I swear, this boy is always happy. He must know that it makes our lives so much easier. Or, this is just a glimpse into how his personality will be. Either way, we love his little attitude so much. I can’t even imagine life without him.

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

Ryan took one for the team and squeezed his little booty into one of these train cars. Last time we were here, Colton had the biggest tantrum and wouldn’t get on the train. This year he was all about it. They change so much in one year, don’t they?

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

scottsdale train park mom blog

scottsdale train park - mom blogger

At the train park, they have a historic train car set up like a museum that you can walk through. The kids loved this! Kelsey got a kick out of how old the sleeping and dining rooms looked and how “little” the hallways were. When we signed the visitor guest book I asked her what she wanted to say. Let’s say, “We loved this train because it is so old” – and so we did.

scottsdale train park mom blog

Merry Everything

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

When I started this blog in 2010, I had one goal in mind: Keep track of (most) everything we did. Take pictures. Write stories. Capture memories so that one day our daughter can grow up and read about her childhood. Since then our family (and my heart) has exploded with love. We have two more children and couldn’t be more thankful for the blessings we have been given.

Through this blog, I have found a love for photography and storytelling. Sometimes I look back at old photos and think, ‘Yikes!’ – did I really edit a photo like that? But that’s the whole point of this blog … to see how far we’ve come through the years. To grow. To explore. And yes, to edit photos in horrible Sepia tones until you finally get it right.

Another goal of mine was to document my children’s milestones so I could reference it later. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself, “When do kids get their teeth? At what age did we potty train Kelsey? What did we do for Easter last year?” When that happens, I can go into my blog archives and find the answer. How cool is that.

This little corner of cyber space as been an online journal of sorts. Albeit, I have vowed to be real but never allow this blog to be a place for venting. I have my husband, girlfriends and a good glass of wine to cure my need to vent. Besides, isn’t the world negative enough without me complaining and sweating the small stuff?

I also don’t use profanity on this blog. The worst word you’ll find on here is “shoot” because – like I said – little miss grown up Kelsey will be reading this one day. That’s something that means a lot to me.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ll be continuing to blog in 2016. I’m excited to see where my love for blogging takes me next year, and I’m excited to document the things we do, the places we go and the way in which these kids grow up. 2015 was incredibly good to us – we welcomed Nolan into our family and lived our lives in a way that would make God proud. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

It’s been a treasure and a treat to talk to you through this computer screen. And for that future big girl who is reading this, momma loves you more than you know. Even when you’re throwing sass my way.

See you guys in 2016.

Hanna Andersson Scottsdale Store Opening

The Hanna Andersson store is now open at Kierland Commons! We were fortunate enough to be invited to their pre-opening event last night. I wasn’t familiar with Hanna Andersson kid clothes prior to this event (just their pajamas) but apparently I’m the only mom who was in the dark because this private event was packed!. People go ga-ga over this clothing line … and now I can see why.

The quality of their clothing is top notch. The cotton is super soft (and thick too, if that makes sense). Very high quality clothes for kids. If you’re a local, visit the Hanna Andersson store at Kierland Commons on Friday – Sunday (11/6 – 11/8)  for exclusive offers. You’ll receive 30% off regular prices, except the sleepwear. But that’s only because all sleepwear is buy one, get one free!

We ended up buying 6 pairs of pajamas and a bunch of other things that we didn’t need (thank you, Kelsey) like earmuffs (Hellooooo … we live in Arizona!) and a gold kitty cat purse.

Here are a few pictures from our night.

Hanna Anderson scottsdale store

Kelsey and her cousin, Lexi, in Hanna Anderson dresses and boots (boots on Lexi) awaiting the opening of the new store.

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hanna andersson - arizona mom blogger

hanna andersson scottsdale store opening

And that’s the crowd!

hanna andersson scottsdale store

hanna andersson scottsdale store opening

hanna andersson scottsdale store opening

DSC01103 small

I loved this! Use hashtag #ilovemyhannas for a chance to – not only be featured in their social media channels – but printed, hanging up in one of their store window displays!

hanna andersson

Hanna Andersson
A few of my girlfriends also attended the event. Here is Heather with her adorable daughter, Ava. Heather and I were trying to catch up but ended up chasing two little girls around the store instead.

hanna andersson

scottsdale mom blogger
This is her, “But, mom, I reeeeally need these earmuffs and this Jellycat stuffed animal” face. It worked. Dang it.

hanna andersson

hanna andersson promotion

Yes, please! Any excuse to wear Christmas pajamas in November and I am in. Maybe a little holiday music to set the mood? Too early?

hanna andersson scottsdale store opening

Thank you for the invitation, Hanna Andersson and for sponsoring this post. We wish you the best of luck and tons of store success in Scottsdale!

48 Hour Scare

nolan mom blogger

We had a little drama this week. On Monday evening, we noticed that Nolan wasn’t eating as much – he usually nurses for about 20 minutes or drinks 4 ounces, and since he was eating about half of this amount each feeding, we knew something was up. By 2am we noticed a low-grade fever. By 8am, I was standing in line at the pediatrician’s office waiting to be seen by our doctor. By 8:45am his fever was 98.6 so we were told to go home and carefully monitor him.

By noon, I could tell his fever was back.  His forehead felt really warm. Ryan came home from work and bought us an old school thermometer because doc’s orders were, “You have to take his temperature in the rectum to get the best results.” I groaned, “Aren’t the forehead thermometers just as accurate.” It was a $60 thermometer, after all. Turns out the answer is, “At his age, you have to take it in the rectum.” Insert panic on my part here. I made Ryan do it. I just can’t stick that thing up there, it doesn’t seem right.

Sure enough, his temperature had spiked to 100.7. By 1pm, I was standing in line at the Cardon Children’s Hospital with Nolan in my arms, waiting to be seen. By 2pm, Nolan had been admitted to the hospital and received a spinal tap, blood work, IV and catheter to help determine if this was just a nasty virus or a bacteria infection.

By 3pm, I was told that Nolan had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours until all test results were back. I wasn’t going anywhere so I looked at Nolan, kissed his sweet face and – through some tears of my own – said, “Alright, buddy. You ready for a 2 day sleepover?” It was about this time that I realized I had not showered that day and had no overnight belongings. Lovely.

By 4pm on Tuesday, we were settled into our hospital room and that is where we stayed until noon on Thursday. I am so grateful we were in such great care, because on Tuesday night his fever spiked to 103. Talk about panic on my end. However the nurses were as calm as could be. They had it all taken care of. In fact, they were always two steps ahead of me.

Baby Nolan was given antibiotics, fluids and he was nursing – he was also stuck cradled in my arms (I was not about to let go for one second!) so to say he was in great, loving care, was an understatement. Turns out, the fever broke on Wednesday at 10:30am and we were allowed to go home 24 hours later. All of the test results searching for an infection came back negative. Praise Jesus.

I thanked God for taking care of him. I cried. I did a little dance. We were able to go home! Now, Nolan is healthy, happy and has returned to his normal self. It was just some horrible virus that he had to kick. I learned a lot over these past few days. I learned how great nurses are. How wonderful my husband and family is. And how strong a bond is between a mother and child.

Now … where were we. Ah yes, that shower. Let’s go get to it.

mom blog

Magformers Discount + a Giveaway!

Magformers Giveaway

Now that Kelsey is in kindergarten, Ryan and I have gotten more snooty when it comes to her education. We want to make sure she’s getting the best education that she can – and with that comes the responsibility to make learning fun.

Kelsey loves playing with toys that allow her to build, construct and make things happen. Add that to the fact that my husband is pro “we need more women engineers in this world” and I introduce to you Magformers.

To me, Magformers is like a blend between building blocks, magnets and Legos, and they are designed to help kids with brain development. What a cool concept! Apparently, parents already know about these toys and I’m the last to the party because when I talked to some mom friends of mine they said, “My kids love those things!”

With that affirmation, Kelsey and I just had to try them out.

Magforners Kids Smart Toy small

Magformers Engineer Kids Toys

We were given the Magformers 100 piece Inspire set (with LED lights) for review. My daughter is a bit picky so I was hesitant at first, but this set is available in pretty pastel colors – colors that attract girls to them. You know, attracts, like magnets. Bad pun?

In all seriousness, I picked up Kelsey from school the other day and I had this box of Magformers waiting for her in the car. She immediately picked up the box, pointed to the front cover and shouted, “Wow! Mom, this looks like Elsa’s castle!”

When we started digging in, we realized 100 pieces is just the right amount. Some for Kelsey to play with and some to set aside for her two-year old brother to keep busy while she builds.

Magformers Kids Toys - Girls Inspire Set 100 piece

Magformers Engineer Kids Toys for Girls

This particular set comes with two LED lights too so you can attach them to what you build and watch your construction light up (trust me, this is a really cool kid feature). The package comes with a easy-to-read idea booklet with cool things to build – from castles, to a hot air balloon, to Cinderella’s slipper! That one is my favorite.

Don’t worry if you have boys though – Magformers come in a rainbow-colored set that I’m sure has different building options inside that are more gender neutral. In fact, we’re giving away one of these rainbow sets to a lucky reader. More on that as you scroll down.

Magformers Kids Toys

Kids Toys
She was building the hot air balloon. Super cool because you attach the LED light to the “basket” at the bottom and watch it rotate between red, blue, green, purple and white colors. I think the light is the best part. She is so serious when she is thinking hard.

Magformers Kids Toys we love

They tell me this toy is good for ages 6 and up, but my daughter is 5 and loved it! When she started playing with Magformers she immediately said, “Mom. I’m going to do this every day.” I giggled. If only … Below are some perks just for following along. Please enjoy this promotion code when you shop on the Magformers website and a little product giveaway, all courtesy of Magformers.

20% discount, just for you!

I would 100% recommend this toy for others. In fact, I’m super pleased to share that Magformers is giving you 20% off whichever set you like! You just have to purchase by 9/3 and use BLOG20 discount code at checkout. Here’s a link to shop on their website. Discount code expires 9/3/15 and is only valid on the Magformers.com website.

Giveaway! Enter to win a 62 piece Rainbow Set ($99 value)

 

Magformers Rainbow Set

This is what the 62 piece rainbow set looks like and retails for $99. Simply follow the instructions below and you’ll be entered to win the Rainbow Magformers. Enter with your email address or Facebook log in (this is only required so I can contact you if you win). Get bonus entry points for commenting on this blog post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Update 9/1: Thank you to everyone who participated! The winner, who was chosen randomly in partnership with Rafflecopter is TABITHA!! A huge shout out to Magformers for sponsoring this post and product giveaway. 

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