Monthly Archives: August 2015

Second Birthday














Dear Emma Marie,


You are now two years old and already a little lady.  You bring a purse with you, wherever you go.  It is full of fun treats and those fake credit cards(that come from offers in the mail).  You love explaining everything you have in there.  Every piece has a purpose.

You take your time eating and are meticulous with manners.  You say excuse me for everything you should. You are adamant that you are just as big as your brother and that we should treat you as such.

Thus the potty training.  You are one proud little girl.  We are very proud of you too!  You tell us and run to the bathroom yourself.  And you always wash your hands, “All by myself mom,” after.

You clearly have an interest in what you wear and will demand certain clothing items.  You are obsessed with pockets of which it is hard to find little girl’s clothes that actually contain real ones-not the sew on fabricated ones.

You prefer your hair down but will relent to a braid or ponytail if properly enticed.  You can brush your own hair and get on(mostly) your own clothes.

You LOVE to sing songs.  You continuously surprise me with singing renditions of songs we have not heard in weeks.

You still really enjoy your naps!  1-2 hours perhaps three if you are teething.  You turn on all the fans, use the restroom, and then curl up in my lap.  You pass out in my arms within minutes all the while twirling your hair and sucking your thumb.  I lay you down in your crib with your favorite puppies and slip out of your room.

Favorite Food? Chipotle bowls, chicken kabobs with onion, and milkshakes.  Goodness do you LOVE a good milkshake.

You have a love for all animals, but that little sparkle in your eye gets bright when you are lucky enough to be in the presence of a puppy.  Goodness gracious do you love dogs.


Barring anything truly traumatic happening in the next couple of months we hope to get a dog of our own.  I know that you will take pleasure in helping with the dog and that you will in turn have a lifelong friend.

You are kind to people that you meet.  But speak up if someone is hurting your brother.  You are a fiery pistol that will not let him get hurt.  Incredibly brave for you to be so steadfast with your feelings.  Once or twice at the park you put yourself in-between Raymond and the Mean One and told them to, “Go away, leave us alone!” and pointed for them to return from whence they came from.

Don’t worry.  He will never forget that you are there for him.  He gladly takes your hand whenever something makes you nervous and gives you a hug saying, “It’s okay Em.  You are going to be okay.”

The greatest gift we could ever give you was each other.

You love building, drawing, blowing bubbles, but your favorite is acting like a DINOSAUR.  Whenever we make believe(wherever we are) you proudly announce that you are a dinosaur and RAWR- stomp-and snarl.

Well my little dinosaur, we are so utterly proud of the little lady you are becoming.

With all our love,


Pure Barre: Hurts So Good

Pure Barre just opened up a new location in East Gilbert!  Check out what I love about the workout and enter to win an incredible giveaway!  My body is definitely feeling the burn today and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Pure Barre East Gilbert Staff

Pure Barre Owner & Instructors at East Gilbert

Pure Barre East Gilbert opens this Monday- August 31st!  Check out the classes & sign-up for the best deal I’ve ever seen for Barre.  Five weeks of unlimited classes at the East Gilbert location for $100?!? Crazy talk!  Guess who just signed up? Yep. This girl!

So yes, this post is sponsored in part by the lovely owner of Pure Barre East Gilbert-but after one class I am hooked and used my own money(complete transparency) to buy this deal.  Oh, and I did take “before” pictures.

Can not wait to see the results after a couple weeks of classes.
IMG_0317 (2)

Pure Barre Studio

As you walk in to the bright studio entrance you are welcomed and told to sign-in.  Loved the wall of windows and natural light.  Plus it helped that Pure Barre Owner Christine Pacheco welcomed me and calmed my first class jitters.  I definitely was excited and researched what to wear to the class ahead of time, but was intrigued by their Sticky Socks.  I grabbed a pair and was beyond grateful when the shakes got me while doing the last part of the class.

Off to my first #PureBarre class! Excited & nervous! 📷:Three Year Old #momlife #purebarrelife @purebarre_eastgilbert

A photo posted by Holly Marie (@ascuteasabugsear) on

Pure Barre Workout Clothes Old(almost four years old) Luluemon Wunder Unders & Old Navy Active Tank The picture was taken by my three year old of which my husband thought that I took a picture of a picture from my Nikon(definitely would’ve used a tad better angle) and after seeing the thirty outtakes my husband was impressed with his camera skills.  Of course Em then needed to, “Take pictures of mom,” so after another two-three minutes my phone was FULL of pictures of my feet.  But both photographers were thanked and I was on my way to class. Thinking I may need to grab another pair of wunder unders this holiday season.  In black-because frankly, SO MUCH SWEAT.  

 Pure Barre East Gilbert Studio Pure Barre Studio

The lighting in the studio is heavenly.  Just enough light to check your form-but not enough to see the sweat streaming down your back.  Mom Win. I also LOVED the music.  The instructors control the music and tempo-plus it was great to keep time with…  The instructor floated around and made sure we were in correct form, said fabulous positive affirmations(LOVE that they are positive-no time for negativity when working out) and brought the shake. Pure Barre Ball Workout

Pure Barre Workout Ball

  I was warned about the shake.  Oh and will you SHAKE.  Some people prefer at home workouts and to tell you the truth as a mom sometimes that is the easiest option.  But I know for a fact that half-way through I would have quit.  Being surrounded by other people(in all states of fitness) shaking and working hard on their own goals felt empowering.  I walked away knowing that with the help of this fitness class I would gain some quality alone time and get my body back.  I miss being toned and goodness just by how sore I am from last nights class I KNOW that with time my body will get stronger and leaner. PERFECT.  Exactly what I want.

Pure Barre Gear

Pure Barre Gear

 As you grab your belongings from your cubby and make your way out you walk right by an assortment of witty and fabulous gear.  I already have TWO tanks on my wishlist for my birthday/holidays.
My FAVORITE: EAT, SLEEP, SHAKE, REPEAT – yep, that is a necessity.
Now onto the GIVEAWAY!

PURE-BARRE-GIVEAWAY Pure Barre East Gilbert Giveaway

Giveaway Package:

One winner will win- 5 Classes, Pure Barre T-shirt, Water Bottle, and a towel!

*This giveaway package is only available for redemption at the East Gilbert Pure Barre Location.

Check out the Raffelcopter below for your chance to win.

 Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep updated on deals and classes by following Pure Barre East Gilbert on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Grand Opening August 31st!

Website: Pure Barre East Gilbert  Phone number: (480) 213-6748

East Gilbert Location:
Dana Park Village Square
1854 South Val Vista Drive #108
Mesa, AZ 85204
Have you tried Pure Barre?  Would love to hear what you thought!
Sponsored by Pure Barre. As always all opinions are always 100% my own.

Potty Training Tips & Tricks

After successfully potty training one child, and well on the way to two, I am sharing what Potty Training-Tips & Tricks worked for our family!  Our top FIVE tips are listed below.  Would love to hear your ideas!parent-potty-training-tips-and-tricks

1. Pull-Ups

I talked up the “Big Girl Underwear” for weeks leading up to starting.  Whenever we were at the store I would show her the boxes of Pull-Ups and she would smile and talk about how excited she was to be a Big Girl!  When it came down to choosing which box of Pull-Ups we made sure that she had the choice each time about which characters she chose and even between the Pink and Blue options. I loved that these Pull-Ups mimic real underwear and were easy for her to Pull-Up after using the restroom.

2. Step Stool

I tried using one of those portable small potties- BUT the cleaning? NO, THANK YOU!  We have a small plastic no-slip step stool downstairs and this wood stool in the kid’s bathroom upstairs.  She immediately took to using the bathroom ten times easier with the help of the stool.  She felt so grown up!  We also tried one of those toilet attachments to make the hole smaller so that they don’t fall in.  Once again there were way too many mistakes and she felt like she was doing it wrong.  No negativity in my potty training method!  The lid got the boot. 


There are so many studies out there shouting from the rooftops how big of an impact positive reinforcement has in a child’s life.  I am a BIG proponent on verbal positive reinforcement.  After every successful flush we do a potty dance- clad with a makeshift song- a jig- and high fives.  Emma Marie loves the extra attention and it is really easy to take “the show on the road” when we are out on our daily adventures.  It is easy to do the potty dance at the zoo or even the store.  Don’t mind me- I’m the parent doing a little break dance with my two year old-Nothing to see here folks.

4. Routine

My little ones THRIVE on a routine.  Bed time routine? Check.  Nap time routine? Check.  Potty routine? You better believe it!  Right when we get up, it is potty time.  Then we wash our hands-brush our teeth-and wash our face.  Before we go anywhere there is a potty break.  Upon arriving at said destination? There is a potty break.  Before leaving said destination?  You guessed it- Potty break.  Routine Matters.

5. Sticker Chart
 I am all for intrinsic motivation, but when we started out with potty training the sticker chart is what tipped the scales with our successful flushes.  I simply taped a chart to the wall and we had 2-3 options of stickers each successful flush.  Emma Marie? Ate that right up. Whatever works!


Pull-Ups® products are all about getting kids interested in potty training. Pull-Ups training pants have unique patterns that fade when wet to help your child learn to stay dry. The easy-open sides make it easy to check for potty breaks, plus they’re stretchy to help kids learn how to put them on and take them off like a Big Kid.

New Disney designs feature Doc McStuffins, Ariel, Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Lightning McQueen.

I grabbed a bunch while shopping at Family Dollar Store last week!


Starting on August 28th you can: Text CARE to 28767 to get Pull-Ups® Training Pants for $8.50 for a limited time only!


Do you have a tip that helped in your potty training journey? 
What works for your family?
Let me know if you have any questions!


Minnie Mouse Clubhouse Party Favors

For our Minnie Mouse Inspired Second Birthday we chose simple items to include in our Party Favors.  I definitely try to know who is coming to our parties and keep it age-range related so that everyone goes home with something they love.oh-toodles-party-favors-for-mickey-mouse-minnie-mouse-birthday-party-clubhouse

Minnie Mouse Clubhouse Party Favors

I loved putting together a little bag FULL of goodies that everyone could take home.  Our family and friends were able to grab a little something on the way out thanks to Toodles!



Thanks For Stopping By!

Party Favor List:

Pack of Sidewalk Chalk

Two Glow in the Dark Bracelets

Two Sets of Stickers

Special Rice Crispy Treat

oh-toodles-party-favors-for-mickey-mouse-minnie-mouse-birthday-partyAfter the party I did some crowd-sourcing thanks to my lovely readers on my Facebook Page and found some incredibly thoughtful ideas for next time!

Party Favor Ideas:


Play Doh

Matchbox Cars




Small Art Kits

Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, couldn’t help myself.

For the Avengers Superhero Party we included the DIY Captain America Shield as the party favor.

For the Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar Party we included the DIY Lightsabers as the party favor.

What are your favorite things to include as a Party Favor?


10 Tips- For a Successful Summer Family Photo Session

As a parent I know all too well how easy it is to hide behind the lens.  The cell phone camera and I are quite good friends as I tend to grab my two little ones cute moments each day.  Today I am sharing 10 tips for a successful summer family photo session.  Just as important as catching your little one’s firsts-is getting into the picture yourself. Thankfully we were able to make that happen at Portrait Innovations last weekend and I am THRILLED to finally have a family photo up on the wall.  Being present in my kid’s memories, as well as the photos is important to me.


10 Tips for a Successful Photo Shoot

1. Be the “HYPE” man-woman-parent.  That’s right!  The photo shoot is going to be the BEST thing since slip n’slides and you need to sell it.  The kids were all set for getting their pictures done by the sweetest mom in the world.  That’s what we used.  And for the most part it works.  If all else fails, see below: Bribing.

2. Color Scheme. Figure out the shades of colors you are going for.  I loved how our shades of blue theme turned out for our summer family photo shoot.  When I was thinking about what we would all wear I wanted something that constitutes as being “just enough” matchy-matchy, but not in your face matching outfits.  Turns out that the shades of subtle blues was exactly the look I was going for.  So I emptied out everyone’s closet with everything white, gray, and blue.  Loaded a big laundry basket up and threw them on our bed.

Plus it helped that we could use all of the items we already owned.  I’m ALL about having a good excuse to go shopping, but tend to be on the thriftier side-see shopping a “season” ahead from the sales racks and guessing what size the kids will be… YES.  I am that mom in the Target sale section.  But it works for us and that’s all that matters.

Family Beach Photo


Favorite NEW Family Photo

3. Do a test run.  Have the kids put on their adorable outfits and practice.  Plus it helps to find out that perhaps those pair of shorts you had your eye on that would be the perfect compliment to the family shot are just a tad too small.  Ahem.  Mom’s guess was a little off.  Plus I always make sure that they are comfortable in what they are wearing.

Why on earth are toddler clothes so scratchy sometimes?  Want to know why your kid won’t put on that adorable dress?  It feels like sandpaper. Just a little FYI.  Along with all girl’s Halloween costumes-why?  Em picked out a Scooby Doo outfit made of soft fleece. Winning. End Rant.

4.  Bring examples of photos you would like.  Did you see the CUTEST family photo on a blog(on Pinterest-go bloggers!).  Don’t assume your photographer can understand what you are trying to describe-a picture is worth a thousand words? YES. Plus you don’t want the added delay of playing artistic creator with little munchkins running around.

5. Bring extras.  Of everything.  I kid you not.  I mean clearly you always need to be prepared… who knows when a water bottle or worse(?!?!) will explode all over one of your kids.  Come prepared with one or two backups.  But be mindful that kids do not typically like wardrobe changes.



Props are a MUST

6. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.  Is your ultimate goal tons of family photos?  Or would you LOVE a shot of just the two of you(parents)?  Say it or forever hold your peace.  The hubby and I asked for several pictures of just us and come to think of it I literally can not think of a time we had pictures done professionally of us, ever.

I definitely enjoyed being able to just take a couple of brother and sister shots.  The dynamic duo are best friends and the last real picture I have of the pair together is from the last Fourth of July(shuddering with guilt).


7.  Food for thought.  Don’t bring food-or snacks.  Make sure the family is FULL of food so no one gets hangry-it’s a thing.  We all ate a large breakfast and then brought snacks to eat in the car that would not stain or ruin their clothes. Plus kid’s are a ticking time bomb and delaying the inevitable will only make things worse… unless you are dealing with a baby.  Then by ALL means feed the baby when the baby gets hungry.



Looking WAY too Old

8.  Time of day matters.  Are your kids crazy in the morning?  Or do they thrive after their nap time?  Think about the average time they truly have a love for life and that is your window of opportunity.  We chose morning and it was the best decision for our family.

9.  Bribes.  We typically try not to bribe the kids…but life happens.  There may or may not have been talk of a veggie tray with multiple double-dippings allowed on ranch.  Whatever works.

10.  Enjoy yourself.  You will get shots of your family.  They may not be perfect, ahem toddler pouting ahem, BUT they will be ALL yours.  Those memories are priceless.

Summer Family Photo Shoot

Summer Family Photo Session

Summer Family Photo Shoot Success

The complementing shades of blue worked wonders with Portrait Innovations NEW summer backdrop.  Turned out to be the perfect way to capture our growing family.  I finally was able to step out from the shadows and be present in our family’s photo memories.

 I am beyond grateful for immediately being able to put up new pictures in the house.  Our old ones(cough, from last year, cough) are now stored away.  Goodness do I need to visit Portrait Innovations more often!
When was the last time you did a family photo shoot?  
What is ONE tip that you would love to share?
Would love to hear from you!
 Thank you to Portrait Innovations for sponsoring this post.  As always all thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own.
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