In Our Home :: These Days

Feb 18, 2012

I'll be honest... I think I post these posts simply for my own pleasure. Isn't that what mommy-blogging is really about anyway?

There's just something about the simple (and in some cases mundane) moments of family life. I'm so very thankful that I'm able to capture them in photos as I know I'll be looking at them 20 years from now and wishing back these days. :)

In Our Home :: These Days ....
We're not huge Valentine's Day people but because I love me a good party I figured I'd throw a little play date party for some of our friends.

1) I printed out this little sign that I found thanks to Pinterest! (aw... gotta love Pinterest) Print your own sign here.
2) Nothing says "I Love You" better than a fresh donut from Rainbow Donuts!
3) I made it a point to take pics of all of the mommies and their kids at our Valentine's Day play date. I very rarely get a picture with both of the girls and am so thankful to have this one from this past Feb 14th.
4) Like I said in this post - I was a little late in planning for a "gift" for the girls to give Alan this Valentine's Day. In a last ditch effort I designed this "I Love Daddy" card up really quick for all of the kids to color at our party.

1) Go Cyclones! This is just a random Saturday when the girls were cheering on ISU from afar!
2) & 3) We are LOVING this warm weather and spend lots of time at our local parks. Thank you Arizona!
4) Some friends and I co-hosted a Sip & See for my sweet friend Brittany a couple weeks back. This is my new favorite way of celebrating Baby #2 in a casual party setting. Wine, Dessert and Baby - Love it!

1) & 2) I can't say it enough... I LOVE my Mommy Planning Mornings.
3) & 4) Nora has been very excited about the possibility of flying a kite these days. So much so that every morning she upon going outside she'll ask if it's windy so we can fly a kite :)

These are a couple pics from Family Kite Flying Take 1. We were too lazy to walk to the park and ended up flying the kite in the street (probably not a good idea... just so you know). Thankfully we had a super windy day just yesterday and took the kite to the park for Family Kite Flying Take 2. It was a huge hit with Nora (and a pretty decent workout for Alan actually). Definitely worth the $10!

...till next time....


@AlanandSteph on Twitter

Feb 17, 2012

I'm actually on Twitter.... can you believe it??? :)

Now this isn't my "maiden voyage" on the Twitter scene. You see I actually tweet from 4 accounts now. Yes... that's right....four! @Family_Matters, @CityMomsBlog, @ScottsdaleMoms
and now @AlanandSteph. I guess that's what happens when you work in social media!

If you're on Twitter , follow @AlanandSteph pretty please!


Potty Training 101 | Top 5 Potty Training Tips

Feb 13, 2012

As I mentioned in the most recent In Our Home post, we embarked on our version of "Adventures in Potty Training" in mid-January.

Did I really want to potty train Nora? NO! Honestly, I secretly wish potty training was an optional parenting activity.

Unfortunately as we all know, it's not. So potty train is what we did!

Before getting started I did some research into various potty training techniques and decided on using the 3 Day Potty Training ebook guidelines (thanks Sarah for the recommendation).

Of course, like with so many things in parenting, not everything was covered in the book. I wish it worked that way but unfortunately it just doesn't.

So in an effort to "give-back" to the online mommy community, I thought I'd add a few of my Mommy Potty Training Tips to help encourage those of you who will be potty training in the near (or not so near) future.


Steph's Top 5 Potty Training Tips ::

1) Find another "Mommy SOS Friend" who has recently potty trained a child.

I had NO idea how important it was going to be for me to be able to text and/or call a friend who has "been-there-done-that."

Thankfully I had a couple of friends who immediately texted me back when we were 2 hours into the potty training experience and I was ready to throw in the towel.

Find someone who has potty trained a child within the last few years that can encourage you in the very tiring process of potty training. It will be a huge blessing to you... I promise.

2) 25-30 pairs of underwear is not a joke.

Upon reading that I'd need 25-30 pairs of panties/underwear for our 3-day potty training adventure, I literally laughed. In my mind I figured that I do laundry at least once a week so even if she went through 2 pairs/day I wouldn't need more than 14 for the week.

Let's just say Nora wet all 14 pairs of underwear in the first 2 hours on day 1.

Lesson learned. You'll need 25-30 pairs. Really.

3) Potty Training can be VERY discouraging (especially the first 2 days).

This is something I wasn't aware of, but I learned quite quickly. Rather than have unrealistic expectations, I figure I'd rather you know the truth.

Alan and I literally went to bed after Day 1 and asked one another "Why are we doing this?!"

Rather than get discouraged, and worse yet - to show your discouragement to your child in the middle of potty training - always remember that your job as a mommy during these days is to be as encouraging as possible.

Yes - that means a potty dance. Yes - that means a potty song. You'll be the official potty training cheerleader of the family for weeks (which makes tip #5 all that more important)

Just know that you'll more than likely be discouraged at first, but your child will get it... eventually.

4) Plan on getting take-out (or making pre-made freezer meals).

Although this is covered in the ebook, it was a suggestion (much like the 25-30 pairs of panties) that I thought was a little extreme.

Not so much.

In an effort to minimize the distractions during the first 3 days of potty training, it is suggested that you plan on getting take-out or that you have something in the freezer that you can make that takes little to no effort on your part.

Let's just say we had more take-out than we've ever had in our 7 years of marriage during those 3 potty training days. It was a necessity.

5) Awake before your children and allow enough time to shower and have a cup of coffee.

I'm a huge advocate of rising before your children (as I posted about in more detail in the post Mommy Planning Mornings). But take it from the mommy who happened to forget to set her alarm on Day 1 of Potty Training - you're going to need to at least feel like you've beat everyone to the punch when potty training.

A shower and a hot cup of coffee will do wonders on these days.

Bonus Tip :: Get yourself a Boon Potty.

This suggestion is mostly because I just like the Boon Potty so much.

And today could very well be your lucky day! Scottsdale Moms Blog is giving away a Boon Potty to one lucky reader. And you don't even have to live in Scottsdale to win!


Post-Potty Training Update ::

Thankfully Nora did great those first 3 days and we're currently almost 100% potty trained. She does very well when we're home but it's when we're out that she has a harder time.

My guess is that the accidents when we're out can be attributed to a combination of her high energy personality mixed with her desire to be with people (and not miss out on anything).

It was a long road but we made it (and are making it). And you can to!

Is there anything I'm forgetting? Comment below with any additional tips you might have that will help any readers who are looking for potty training advice.


DIY Valentine's for Daddy

Ah.....Valentine's Day.

We're not into doing a ton for Valentine's Day but I do try and make it a little special at least. Unfortunately my mommy brain has been in full throttle lately (aka:: I can't seem to remember much of anything) which means that today I woke up in a slight panic because I had yet to put together anything for the girls to give their daddy. (Oops!)

Thankfully I quickly designed these "I love Daddy" Valentine's Day cards this morning and thought I'd share the love! :) Just in case any of you are in the same boat.

I printed them out and attached them to card stock and plan on having Nora color hers this afternoon at a little Valentine's Day party I'm hosting for a couple of her little friends.

Pin it. Print it. Love it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

{Oh and yes - for those of you who saw this Definition of Love that I designed last week for the Family Matters Blog - I'm a bit in love with chevron print right now - I apologize if you're not so in love with it.)


Top 5 Tips for Taking Small Children to Disneyland

Feb 11, 2012

As you may or may not have seen, we took Nora and Elsie to Disneyland back in December as our Christmas gift to them. You can read more about our trip in our post-Disney highlight post.

Now some of you "I-remember-everything-type people" probably recall that in that post I mentioned that I'd be writing a Top 5 Tips for Taking Small Children to Disneyland post. Well I'm proud (and ashamed all at the same time) to say that I'm FINALLY getting around to posting my tips.

Better late than never, right?! ;)

So let's get to it.
Steph's Top 5 Tips for Taking {Small} Children to Disneyland ::

1) Be Flexible. The ability to be flexible in life is HUGE - especially when you have children in tote.

In preparation for our trip I read a number of Disneyland blog posts (I even read most of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland - thanks mom and dad) and spoke with all of my friends and family who have been to Disneyland in the past. I had a plan in place and everyone was going to Typical Type A, first born kind of stuff.

Well - as I'm sure many of you who are snickering behind your computer screens have guessed - trips like these NEVER go as planned.

When planning your trip to Disneyland (with small children that is) be sure to keep in mind that flexibility is going to be your best friend. Not only that but it is going to make your trip 10x more enjoyable.

Just to give you a taste of what flexibility at Disneyland are just a few things to consider...
  • Your kids may or may not take a nap. So what!
  • One of your kiddo's may or may not have a meltdown in the Toy Story Mania ride line while 100's of people watch it all unfold (yes - 100s).
  • You may end up riding the Tea Cups and the Carousel 10+ times when you (personally) would rather try something new.
  • You may need to cave and let your kids eat more junk food than normal. Lollipops will come in extremely handy when waiting in a long line with a tired toddler.
2) Pack lots (and lots) of food. Unless you're able to drop a couple hundred dollars for food at the park you'll want to pack lots of food and drink options.

Although park officials do check your bags and purses before entering the park, we never once had any problems with the food and beverages we brought in. Stick to non glass items and you should be good to go.

3) If possible, reserve a hotel suite. Upon booking our hotel room at the Embassy Suites, we had no idea how brilliant of an idea it was to book a suite until we were actually staying there.

Now I'm sure a regular hotel room would have been just fine, but because we were in a suite, we were able to use the living room area during the times when the girls were sleeping to read, watch TV and/or chat with one another. It was a great blessing.

Not only did we love the actual room but specifically the Embassy Suites offers a hot made-to-order breakfast every morning. Thankfully this saved us a decent amount of money as we all had a large yummy breakfast each morning before heading out to the park.

4) Take full advantage of the Baby Swap and Fast Pass options.
Rather than describe these to you in this post, I'll give you a few links that will help explain these two services that will be a great treat for you as you navigate Disneyland with little ones.

5) Label your Children. Upon reading this suggestion on a number of other websites I was at first skeptical but after thinking about it more, I realized how genius of an idea it was.

Essentially it's suggested that you write your child's name along with your name and cell phone number on a piece of tape that you attach to the inside of your child's shirt. That way if your child does get lost, a Disney Cast Member is able to quickly get in touch with the child's caregiver.

Brilliant, right?! At the very least it helped give this mommy a piece of mind.

**Bonus Tip** ::
Bring a few adult beverages for drinking during nap-time and after bed-time. You're going to need them! :)

Is there anything I'm forgetting? Comment below with any additional tips you might have that will help any readers who are planning their own Disneyland trips.


Steph's Pick | Stetson Salad

Feb 10, 2012

I realize to most of you reading, it may very well be soup season still. Although I love a yummy soup, I'm thankful that Arizona is a salad-season-year-round kind of state.

With temps in the mid-70's who wouldn't be thinking about salad over soup?!

When thinking of salads, I always immediately think of my very favorite salad-the Stetson Salad (inspired from a menu item at Cowboy Ciao)

There are a number of things I love about this salad. First, it's beautiful! I always line up the ingredients before serving it (as opposed to mixing everything together first). Secondly, the combination of different textures in the salad is pleasantly delightful. And thirdly - it's not your standard romaine salad (which is a good thing in my book... I like variety).

Without further ado.... enjoy...

Stetson Salad


Diced Tomatoes

Israeli Cous Cous

Dried Corn

Diced Grilled Chicken

Feta Cheese

Dried Cranberries

Chopped Arugula

Creamy Cilantro Dressing (Fresh & Easy)


Assemble salad by lining up ingredients on a plate. Drizzle dressing as needed and enjoy


Mommy Planning Mornings

Feb 2, 2012

I too often find myself desperately pleading for more hours in the day to handle my (part-time) careers, the home and the family.

Then there is time with God. What?! Can that even exist (other than bedtime prayers while tucking our children in for the night) as a mommy of little ones? The days when I could spend hours doing a Beth Moore study are long gone.

And we haven't even addressed the weariness part of the equation. Sometimes, wait, OFTENTIMES I'm just too dang tired to do any more than what is required!

Each day blurs into the next and before I know it, weeks start to blur together too.

Thankfully about two years ago I started what I call a weekly "Mommy Planning Morning."

All I can say is that this has been transformational in helping me manage our lives (and my heart) on a weekly basis.

Here's how we've decided to implement Mommy Planning Mornings....

My goal is to shower and be out of the house before either of the girls wake up.

Before heading out the door this is what I bring with me ::
I head out to my favorite coffee shop where I spend 2-2.5 hrs doing the following items ::
  • Order a cup of coffee (can't forget that!)
  • Read the Bible & Devotional Book (**Note: This is often the only time in a week that I'm able to spend a decent amount of time studying the Word so I always start with this and never short change it because it's such water for my weary soul)
  • Meal Plan & Make Grocery List
  • Write Out Weekly Plan for the Family
  • Make to-do list for the week
  • Order Birthday or Special Occasions presents as needed
  • Update Calendars
  • Manage Work Email accounts
  • Manage Personal Email
This has become a win-win situation for everyone in our home. The girls get some one-on-one time with daddy and I return by 9:30 am feeling like I can conquer the world - at least for one more week!

Now I realize a Mommy Planning Morning may not work for everyone's schedules, nor may it look the exact same (we do this on Saturdays - another day of the week might work better for you), but for us, this has been a total sanity saver.

Try it out... even for just one week. Then come back and let me know what you thought!

Happy Planning!

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