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.

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many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

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many hats of a mom blog

many hats of a mom blog

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many hats of a mom blog

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.

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*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.

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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.

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*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.

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Travel Inspiration for your Wednesday

My friend has a serious case of Wanderlust. She loves to travel, explore, embark on new adventures and invest in new experiences. Recently, she convinced her husband to pack up their life and travel through Southeast Asia for six months. Here’s a peek at their travel route. They covered so much ground!

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Even though she is now in Central America on another adventure, she took time to write an article for me on spgweekends.com, a site that inspires travel. The article (click here to read it) is about her six months trip. It includes the most commonly asked questions she was asked – How did you afford this? Why did you do it? Did you quit your job? It’s a must-read if you’re looking for a little travel inspiration (or if you have a case of Wanderlust yourself).

Enjoy!

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.

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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

A Gazillion Ducks + a Playground

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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.

Party in the USA!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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!

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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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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.

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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.

 

A Scenic Hike for 5

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

My father-in-law convinced us all to take a scenic hike through the White Mountains while on vacation last weekend. I’m so glad that he did! It was gorgeous. I was able to chat with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, her boyfriend and my husband without interruption. The only interruption came when Lauren and I thought there was a snake around every turn, “It’s just a cricket Ryan would tell us.” Riiiiiight. Crickets hiss and rattle, eh? (don’t tell him, but he was probably right, and we were probably just paranoid.)

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Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

You know a hike is legit when you sport a fanny pack for your water. Notice the hats? The minute he puts a ASU hat on, I have to cancel him out by wearing a UofA hat, naturally.  Hey, they say opposites attract.

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There was this dog named, Billy, who was hiking with his owners. It was the cutest thing to watch him jump into the creek and then run up the hill to catch up with the rest of us. Billy made me miss our pooch, Logan. He would have loved it up here.

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Rob knew everything about this area. We joked that we had our own personal tour guide along for the ride. We were sure lucky to have him too … because I’m pretty sure without his guidance we would have taken a few wrong turns and ended up in the woods with snakes … ahem, lots of crickets around.

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

Pinetop Arizona Day Hike

many hats of a mom

And that is my husband frolicking in the forest. In this moment, my husband was dancing around when he came upon an empty water bottle that some other hiker left behind. It was empty. It was crushed. And it was a bit gross. Ryan immediately picked it up and said, “It’s a good thing I found this. We need to keep the forest clean,” and then stuffed that nasty water bottle into his little fanny pack and kept on hiking. Yep, just call him Park Ranger Cross.

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pinetop

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And then … my father-in-law says “Anyone want to go to Green’s Peak?” It’s just a quick 30 minute drive and its beautiful, I am told. Sure. No big deal, right? Well, he failed to mention that we would be taking a giant incline up the steepest mountain ever in our Jeep. Did I mention I am terrified of heights?

I nearly peed my pants on the drive up, but we made it. And it was beautiful. There were cows along the way, lots of pretty clouds and great views to take it. Oh, and on the way back to the cabin, Rob treated us to funnel cake from a local Indian stand near the casino. The day was perfect, in my opinion.

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