Christmas Soiree 2013

Dec 13, 2013

After having read the book Bread and Wine, my passion and perspective for my time in the kitchen and around my table has been renewed.  I now appreciate, even more, the value that is found when we dedicate our time and energy to the feeding of bodies (and souls).  So many of life's memories are truly made around the table.

The message of this book was brewing in the back of my mind in November when I was contacted by Fresh & Easy and asked to host a sponsored Christmas party. I'd already been thinking about starting a tradition of doing a small intimate Christmas dinner party for friends (as our gift to them) and so this offer was truly an answer to prayer. God knew exactly what this party thrower's "wish" was this Christmas - 1 awesome party!

Now before we get into all of the (fabulous) details, it's important to note that planning this type of party is quite possibly the most amazing thing I might ever do.  I live for a party.  I live to plan a party.  I live for the next party.  I simply love parties.  Correction - I LOVE parties. So hosting a party of this scale scent me to cloud nine and back again.
Once the date was set, I started planning.  I put together a fantastic team of friends to help (delegation is key for large events like this) and we started pin, pin, pinning all of our ideas for the event.  Food. Decor. Beverages. Invitations. Anything and every idea for the party was being thought of.  

We arranged rentals, we created a detailed food budget, we (and by "we" I actually mean my sweet friend Jennifer) poured over a food timeline, we mapped out the backyard and started ordering all of the decor for the event - we were busy little party-planning bees for the weeks leading up to the party. 

By party time, we were as ready as we were going to be.  Keep in mind, we are amateur party planners and were mostly just crossing our fingers (and toes) that everything would turn out ok.

Now I think I'll just let the photos do the talking...
Thanks to all of you who were able to join us for such a fabulous evening.   

Thanks also to the wonderful folks at Fresh and Easy who made this event possible.  

And a huge thank you to the ladies who helped with all of the details for this event - to Ashley & Tim for opening up their home (and hearts), to Jennifer & Carlene for helping with all of the food prep (it was delicious), to Lexa for making the amazing cheesecake, to Lindsey for helping with decor vision and execution, to Laura for the amazing chalkboard art and lastly to Kourtney for her help with the odds and ends.  

Happy Christmas!


All above photos are from our event photographers, Session Nine Photography.

{To see more photos from the event, search #christmassoiree and/or #fandeholidays on Twitter & Instagram}


– Food & Beverages: Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market
– Design & Coordination: Lindsey w/ Junk in the Trunk Markets
– Photography: Session Nine Photography
– Flowers: Costco
– Rentals: A to Z Equipment Rentals
– Linens: Munkeboe Linens


Our Kindness Adventure {#kindnessadventure}

Aug 16, 2013

Why hello there lil' blog!  It's been too long.

If I were to tell you about the past two months (yes... it's been that long), I would tell you about how Alan and I celebrated our 30th birthdays, how I'm in LOVE with our newly painted beverage cart, how we dedicated Audrey at our church and Nora stole the show with her River Dancing moves, how much I love my Better Life Laptop Bag and how Alan is the best daddy in the whole wide world.

I would also tell you about Nora's Mani, Pedis and Sweets 4th Birthday party and about how we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary in June.  I would even tell you about how much I'm obsessed with the book, Bread and Wine (this book speaks to my joke) and how I found a meatloaf recipe that I actually like.

I'd also tell you about how part of the City Moms Blog Network team was interviewed for Chris Wiegands documentary, American Blogger (woot woot!) and how I went to Chicago for BlogHer '13 with Sara and Krystal. And I'd for sure tell you about how much fun we had with our family and friends in Iowa.  We'd reminisce about all of the time we spent outdoors (b/c it wasn't wicked hot like it is here in AZ) and about how wonderful it was to be able to actually hug our family members and dear friends in person. really has been a wonderful summer so far!
However, instead of spending the entire blog post talking about what we've been up to lately, I want to end this post by encouraging you with a little God story today.  

Our Kindness Adventure

This morning I was spending some time with God and came across this thought..."Ordinary is often the disguise of the divine...Having your spiritual radar up in consistent anticipation of His presence - even in the midst of the joyful chaos and regular rhythms of your every day life - is paramount to hearing God."  (my current study, Gideon :: by Priscilla Shirer).

We had no plans this morning (mostly due to the fact that we seem to keep passing the dreaded case of pink eye back and forth) and I sensed a serious case of "ME-itis" around our home.  I quickly realized this attitude was more than likely becoming a trend due to my lack of looking to other people's needs above my own. The demands of my business have been very intense these past few months and I know that my family has carried a lot of emotional stress due to my recent time commitments.

Because "ME-itis" is not something we want to encourage in our home, I knew I wanted to teach the girls a practical lesson in kindness (aka considering other people's needs above your own). So I decided it was time for our 1st ever "Kindness Adventure."  
We quickly put together a few hand written cards and gifts and off we went on our very first kindness adventure.  

Our first stop - Starbucks.  Ah... just thinking about bringing someone an unplanned Starbucks drink makes me smile!  We picked up the favorite drinks of some of our friends and headed out with drinks , cake pops and a "Welcome Home" gift in hand.  
We made three total stops.  At each kindness stop we were greeted with warm embraces and huge smiles as we told our friends that we were on a kindness adventure - a mission to bring kindness to some of the people we love the most.  The girls even got a kindness gift from mommy (see above pic of Elsie) because we can be kind to our family too.

It really wasn't anything terribly special to be honest.  It took us all of one hour to make the rounds (and $20ish) but my prayer, as always, is that the truth of the quote "More is caught than taught" rings true for our girls today. I pray that my girls will grow to value the fruit of the spirit of kindness and that one day, they too will be taking their children on kindness adventures.

I truly believe that our intentionality in teaching this next generation the importance of kindness will  influence generations to come.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

Want to participate in you own Kindness Adventure?!  Plan your own Kindness Adventure and post your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #kindnessadventure.  Let's together let kindness and love win.  



my top 5 deal websites | Scottsdale Moms Blog

Jun 13, 2013

I'm sharing my very favorite deal websites over on Scottsdale Moms Blog today.

You gotta check it out.

It will save your life.  Ok... maybe not your life.  But it will help save you some serious cash.

Read my post HERE and be sure to comment with your favorites. 


Elsie is TWO! (and a Birthday Park Playdate)

May 29, 2013

Elsie Grace,
Why hello there sweet little girl?!  I truly cannot believe that it was TWO YEARS ago that you came into this world and forever changed our lives. 
Elsie, you truly have been adding sweetness to our days since you're birth. Our prayer is that you continue to do this very thing every day of your life. {Because everyone could use a little more sweetness in their life?!}

This past year has been full of kisses, dirty diapers, smiles, cheese (yes... cheese is your favorite food), dress up, tantrums and tears, memories, play dates, time impressing your future boyfriend/hubby, Jackson, wars and hugs with your sister, dance parties and most of all, incredible amounts of JOY and GRACE.
We absolutely love watching you grow and standing on the sidelines as God works His way in you. Your spirit is oh so very sweet and we're convinced that you'll be the one daughter who won't ever move too far away from her mommy.  :) (Can we guarantee that now?!)

For your birthday this year, we spent your actual birthday celebrating with our little family.  You opened your gifts (with lots of help from your big sister) and indulged in a red velvet cupcake.  The following day we spent the morning celebrating with friends at a nearby park where we played and enjoyed a little birthday cake (all while wearing a pink tutu, because every birthday girl gets to wear a tutu to the park on her special day!). 

All in all, it was a great celebration of your life!
Elsie - our prayer this year is that you would "grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).

Just as we know that God delights in you, we too delight in you day in and day out.

mommy and daddy


The Best Kind of Full

May 12, 2013

These days whenever I go out with all three girls it seems almost a foregone conclusion that someone will tell me "It looks like you've got your hands full?!"  In the grocery store. While shopping at Target. During playtime at the park. And even when walking into our church each Sunday.  I'm not over exaggerating when I say that this phrase is uttered at least once a day to our little family.  

Now thankfully I'm not one to take offense when someone says this to me.  I really don't think the people who utter these words to us have ill-intent.  They are just stating a fact.  We do have our hands full.  

The best kind of full.  

Our hands are full of little hands wanting to be held as we cross the street because they know they are safest when they are close to mommy and daddy. 

Our hands are full of groceries waiting to be put into our fridge and thankfully this marks the goodness of God's provision for our family. 

Our hands are full of three little laps wanting to be read to because we value the art of literature and are blessed to be able to read. 

Our hands are full of Apple products because honestly, how would we get through the day without the genius work of Steve Jobs helping teach our littles their letters via the iPad or taking photos with our iPhones.

Our hands are full of a cup of coffee (and sometimes a glass of wine) as it really is one of the secrets to surviving these years with little ones under our wings. 

Our hands are full of little hands joining us as we pray to our Heavenly Father each night before bedtime. 

Our hands are full of little piggie toes wanting to be painted the exact same color as mommy's. 

Our hands are full of "water wrinkles" (we say our hands look like prunes) because bath time serves two purposes - it is an opportunity to clean our little babes and it provides an hour of entertainment during some of the hardest minutes of the day.  

Our hands are full of countless toys needing to be picked up after the kids have gone down for the night and rather than begrudge the task of putting them away, we choose to thank God that we're fortunate to have children to play with them.  

And last (but most importantly), our hands are full of God's Word, because there really is nothing else we can turn to that can guide us in this parenting journey the way that God offers to teach through the Bible.

It's true.  Our hands (and hearts) are very full!  

The Best Kind of Full. 

~Happy Mother's Day~


Tips for Surviving Life with 3 Kids, 3 and under

Apr 24, 2013

I get asked a lot how the transition to 3 children (3 and under) has been for our family.  And my honest answer is - we're surviving!

Thankfully with each passing day it gets easier and easier.  Not easy... but easier.

Some days are great.  Some days are not so great. But at the end of the day, when all of the girls are sleeping, Alan and I take a collective sigh of relief in the fact that we've accomplished our main daily objective - everyone survived.

Over the past 7 weeks, since Audrey's birth, I've found a few tips to be especially helpful for our family and think they could help you too.

Whether you are adding your 3rd baby (as we did) to your family, or even if you're adding baby 1, 2 or 4+, these tips are for any family to consider when adding a new little one to their hearts and homes.

Tips for Surviving Life with New Baby

  1. Meals from Friends and Family. I'm honestly not sure what we would have done had we not had such wonderful friends and family who brought us meals those first few weeks.  It was such a huge blessing to not have to even think about getting the groceries necessary to make food for our family, let alone find time to actually make the food. Don't pass up this incredible blessing, not only for your family, but for the people who are able to serve and bless you! If you have a friend who would be willing to arrange meals for you, I'd highly suggest using the website Food Tidings to organize and manage the sign up.  
  2. Amazon Prime. I'm a bit embarrassed that I'm just now jumping on the Amazon Prime bandwagon.  After lots of FB encouragement (via my Mommy Questions of the Night), we decided to finally subscribe to Amazon Prime.  We share the account with 4 other people and so our total is $16/year.  You can't beat that.  For free 2-day shipping it honestly is the best purchase we've made in the past 2 months.  So far I've ordered bottles (which I would have normally had to take all 3 kids to Target to buy), books and makeup.  Let's just say - I LOVE AMAZON PRIME!
  3. Paper Plates. I'm so thankful for two sweet friends who strongly encouraged me to start using paper plates post-Audrey.  I hadn't even considered it and so when one of them dropped by a large stack of paper plates the following day, I figured I'd give it a try.  And I'm so glad I did!  Such a huge time saver.  Since then I've heard that once you have 3+ kids you enter into the "Paper Plate Season."  
  4. Fresh Flowers. I don't know what it is, but whenever I have fresh flowers in our home, it helps make each day even more brighter. And for those of you who are wondering - yes - I do buy myself flowers.  You can't always wait on the hubby to bring them home :)
  5. Hire help when/if needed.  4 of my sweet friends gifted us a house cleaner after Audrey was born and it was the best thing in the world!  I've also arranged to have a sitter come every other Friday to watch the girls so I can run errands.  These two things combined have taken such a great weight off of my shoulders.  I/We can't do it all - so hire help when/if needed ladies!
  6. Good Nite Lite. Right about the time Audrey was born, both of my girls started waking up at 6 am (rather than the usual 7 am).  This was just not going to work for me.  Thankfully I remember a post on Scottsdale Moms Blog : The Early Bird Stays in His Room, where Sarah suggested the Good Nite Lite to help encourage kids to stay in their bed until a pre-set time.  Now the Good Nite Lite is only sold via Amazon and is often out of stock (boo), so it wasn't the easiest product to get our hands on.  But thankfully I spent a couple weeks watching their FB Page for the announcement of more product in stock and we snatched up two!  At $44/each, they are the most expensive night lights we will ever purchase, but in my opinion, it is well worth it!     
  7. Wake Up before your kids. I know I talk about this a lot, but I really do believe that waking up before your children gives you, as the mom, a HUGE advantage.  I find that if my kids are my alarm clock, I feel like I just can't catch up throughout the day.  Now yes, this does mean that for some of you, your alarm clock will go off at 5:30 (like mine); however, the opportunity to get a shower, have breakfast and get things ready for the day are well worth the early wake up.  I especially value having 10-15 "me minutes" outside where I can read my bible and devotional with a cup of coffee.  
  8. Friendship and Family Help. I don't know how I would have gotten through the past 2 months without some incredible family/friends who were always willing to encourage me via text, drop by with a cup of coffee, love on me via gifts (which is my primarily love language) and simply be available.  These relationships have truly made the transition so much easier.  
  9. Plan Ahead. Before Audrey's arrival I took some time to consider what was on our schedule for the month following her birth.  So for us, because she was born on Feb 27th, I looked at our March calendar and bought all March cards/birthday/anniversary gifts ahead of time.  I didn't want to have to be running around with the girls to pick up these things after Audrey's birth.  This has been a huge time and sanity saver for me. 
  10. Grace, Grace and more Grace. And lastly, but most importantly, be prepared to give yourself (and the people around you) bucket loads of grace.  It is always a transition when you bring a new baby home so make sure to lower your expectations and be willing to extend grace to everyone in your home. 


An Audrey Update | 7 weeks

Apr 20, 2013

I think it's about time for an Audrey update.  What do you think?!  
  • Audrey Mae is our sweet little "angel baby" (so far at least). 
  • One Month Stats : 8 lb and 13 ounces.  
  • She spends her waking time smiling at her mommy and paying close attention to her sisters who love to give her all kinds of snuggles.  
  • Audrey's cry is a bit ridiculous.  Some babies are born with a good set of lungs, where Audrey's cry almost makes us chuckle.  We can already tell that Ms. Audrey may be a little soft spoken.  Only time will tell though...
  • She's super temperature sensitive.  A room can be 80 degrees but if she's remotely within the air circulation of the ceiling fan her little lips will be quivering.  So as a result she spends a lot of her days in footie PJs to stay nice and warm. :) 
  • Audrey's been in her crib since 4 weeks and loves being swaddled in the Miracle Blanket.  
  • The girls are adjusting as well as you can expect two toddlers to adjust to another new little one taking more of their mommy's attention.  Nora specifically loves being mommy's helper in the car and makes sure Audrey has her paci in at all times. The girl will spend upwards of 5-10 minutes just working to get her to take the paci.  When I would have thrown in the towel long ago, I can hear Nora in her sweet little voice saying "Here you go Aud.  You want your paci?  You'll like your paci."
  • Elsie on the other hand is a little varied in her love of Audrey.  One moment she'll be giving her all sorts of kisses and the next minute she'll be so very sad/mad that her mommy can't pick her up b/c baby sister is in her arms.  
  • Interested in how we chose the name Audrey?  We'll save that for another post. Stay tuned...
And lastly, just for fun, here is a comparison pic of Audrey and Elsie both at one month.  What do you think?  Do they look alike?  


In Our Home :: March Edition

Apr 2, 2013

Woo-hoo - we made it through March!!  

As anyone who has ever had a newborn can attest - that first month is hard stuff, right?!!! And in our case that first month with baby #3 is especially hard!  

As a new month starts, we are celebrating that we made it through the month of March alive (albeit largely bc of the help from family and friends).  

Here's a quick recap::
1) Mop and Papa Triggs came into town the Sunday after Audrey was born. And we couldn't have been more excited to have them!  The girls loved getting all of the extra attention and we loved having the extra help around the house.  Ok - we maybe loved the extra attention too ;) Papa stayed for a week and Mop for over two weeks.  I'm pretty sure we may not have survived the month without them.  Thanks mom and dad!  

2) Audrey's future BFF was born just 10 days after her.  Here they are meeting for the first time.   Brighton's parents, Laura and Phil, are some of our very favorite people in the whole wide world.  Brighton and Audrey are destined to share secrets about their crazy families for many years to come!  I'm sure of it!

3) & 4) To help celebrate Audrey's birth, some of my dear friends threw Audrey a Sip & See.  Everything about this party was perfect.  From the Audrey Hepburn (part of the reason why we named Audrey her name) themed decorations to all of my favorite appetizers... it truly was such a wonderful way to celebrate Ms. Audrey.  Thanks again Laurie, Carlene, Jess, Rebecca and Jennifer!  xoxo

Each one of these pictures illustrates what our days look like.  We spend lots of time snuggling, kissing Audrey and playing outdoors. 
Some of my family was in town for spring break last week and the girls were lucky to spend one morning at the zoo with Aunt Jane, Uncle Mike and Cousins Mel and Matt.  They LOVED it!
Our sweet little Audrey turned 1 month on the 27th of March!  We celebrated with lots of snuggles :) She weighed in at 8 lb 13 oz and 21 inches in length.  She's growing great and is healthy so we couldn't be more thankful.   

So many of you have asked how these two are adjusting and the answer is... well... it depends on the day :)  

Both of the girls just adore Audrey and are constantly wanting to hold her hand, read to her, give her kisses and help with getting her paci/blanket/burp cloth/diaper.  However, as we expected, they have also had days where the new changes, our divided attention namely, is just plain hard.  

But thankfully they are cute, right?!  It makes even the hard(er) days sweet. 

Here the girls are on Easter Sunday.  Alan and I caught a nasty case of the flu the 3 days leading up to Easter and so our Easter plans changed in an attempt to contain our germs as much as possible.  

We spent the day celebrating the Resurrection of Christ with just our little family.  And because cooking anything in the kitchen was just not going to happen, our Easter breakfast was sponsored by Krispy Kreme (thank you lordy for drive-thru donut places just a mile away!).  

Audrey's first Easter. 

And that's it!  A wonderful (but hard and exhausting) month!  

Here's to one month down and many more to go!!  

xoxo - us 


Audrey's Birth Story

Mar 5, 2013

Announcing the birth of our sweet baby girl, 

Audrey Mae Flies

February 27th, 2013
3:55 am
7 lb 5.5 ounces  |  19.5 inches

There is something so special about each baby's birth story.  I love that although all three of our birth stories are very similar, each is still a miracle and is unique in and of itself.   

:: Audrey's Birth Story ::

For about a week leading up to Audrey's birth I was convinced that she was going to come two weeks early (38 weeks).  Maybe I was more hopeful than convinced but let's just say I was ready.  I'd completed everything on my to-do list and literally had spent the nights leading up to her delivery sitting on the couch complaining to Alan about how I had nothing to do.  (Relax much?!).

Last Tuesday I had my regularly scheduled OB appointment where Dr. Deka checked the baby's progress and said I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. (Insert happy dance!) She was able to strip my membranes and we were hopeful that would encourage labor along.  I went home after my appointment anxious for contractions to get started.  

I went to bed that evening at 8:30 a little discouraged that nothing was happening (in my opinion) and hopeful that I would be awoken by contractions in the middle of the night. 

Which is exactly what happened.

At 10 pm I woke up after a fairly strong contraction. After 15 minutes of consistent contractions, I decided to download a Contraction Timer app (thank you Steve Jobs) and start timing.  Much to my surprise the contractions were ranging anywhere from 3-5 minutes a part right from the beginning.  We decided to call our friends, Phil and Laura, who were on call to come and watch the girls when we went to the hospital, and told them that they better come over as soon as possible.  

Before Phil and Laura arrived I was sure to go into both Nora and Elsie's rooms and give some extra hugs and kisses knowing that after Audrey's birth, our family would never again be the same.  Things would change for the better of course, but they'd change nonetheless.  I wanted to be sure to soak in the last few moments as a family of four. 

Around 11:30 pm we were off to Scottsdale Shea Hospital excited to meet our sweet Audrey.  By midnight we were checked-in and found to still only be 3 cm dilated (what?!) and told to walk the halls for an hour to help labor along.  (Sidenote: For those who are familiar with either of our birth stories, you may recall that this is EXACTLY what happened in both of my other labors.)

Thankfully after an hour of walking the halls, I had progressed to 4 cm and was officially admitted and given an epidural (Praise the good Lordy!).  

The next couple hours were a bit of a blur as the nurses worked to find the right dose of pain meds that I needed (the initial dose wasn't relieving any of the pain) and monitor baby Audrey.  Because my contractions were so close together, the baby was in a bit of distress until they could figure out the right dose of meds for my epidural.  

By the time we had everything stabilized, the nurses checked on my progress and I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push.  Dr. Deka was called and upon her arrival we were ready to meet baby girl.  

After a few pushes, Audrey was here... 3:55 am...and we were in love with all 7 lb 5.5 ounces of her.  

Audrey captured our hearts from the moment we laid eyes on her.  She is the perfect addition to our family and the girls just adore her.  

For those who aren't on Instagram, here are some pictures capturing our time at the hospital.  
1) This belly pic was taken the morning before Audrey's birthday while at the park with the girls.  
2) Yes... I did wear my Uggs and awesomely cute hospital gown while walking the halls.  Don't hate! 
3) Sweet baby Audrey
4) Mommy and baby snuggles
1) My push present courtesy of the best hubby in the whole world
2) Audrey getting her hearing checked out
3) Audrey snuggled up to the teddy bear the girls brought to the hospital for her.  
4) A little something sweet to say thank you to all of our hospital visitors.  

And then finally, here are some pictures we snapped of when the girls met Audrey for the first time.  

If you're interested in reading our other two birth stories, feel free to keep reading. Elsie's Birth Story or Nora's Birth Story

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