Monthly Archives: September 2015

Swimming Must Haves- For Kids

Our family loves to be in the water for the majority of the year!  Out here in the desert we can safely swim for about ten months out of the year.  After four years in the water with kids I am sharing what works for our family and a GIVEAWAY for two of our newest favorites!

Swimming Must-Haves for Kids

End of the Season Clearance

Every year at the end of the season I grab water socks(water shoes), sun hats, and cover-ups for the next year.  The temperatures are still in the 100s when Fall and Winter products hit the shelf here so we grab deeply discounted products easily that we can use right away.  I size-up and grab 1-2 sizes bigger for both kids and save a lot of money with just a little bit of preparation.

Invest in Quality Products

Find products that meet your needs for UVA & UVB Protection!  This is critical as we reside in the Valley of the Sun!  Our little ones get slathered with sunscreen every day.  A big help to us this year has been these StingRay Swimsuits.  The swimsuits offer 100% protection from both UVA & UVB rays- that means A LOT to this mom!  That makes it much easier to re-apply when we are at the water park, splashpad, and swimming pool!  MOM WIN.


StingRay Swimsuit

Aqua Sphere StingRay Swimsuits also kept my desert babies warm.  Our two kids would last an hour at the pool before starting to shake and turn a little blue. YES- even in 95-105 degree weather.  The wind and wet swimsuits made them colder than their little bodies could handle and we would end up leaving way earlier than we needed to.  Which as any mom trying to make your kids leave somewhere they were clearly not ready to leave knows-is not a fun experience.

Seal Kid 2 Goggles


The insulating StingRay is made with a neoprene and spandex combination that kept my kids warm for more than three hours outside in the water!  No tears when we were leaving- only satisfied kids with the biggest smiles on their faces.



One Happy Preschooler

When Raymond started another round of swim lessons a month ago we had a hard time with him adjusting to being with just the Swim Instructor.  Not having mom or dad by his side was a tad unnerving and coupled with the fact that he was really learning how to swim with his head in the water we had many nights of discussing WHY he was in fact learning how to swim.

The chemicals in the pool were a bit much for all of the kids and one by one each of them had goggles.  Raymond was head over heels in love with these Seal Kid 2 Goggles as they offered a much larger field of vision compared to my old goggles.  Suddenly the water wasn’t so scary as he could clearly see all around him.


No, there are no sharks in the pool.  No, there are no sharks in the pool.   Well, seeing is better than believing folks.  Aquasphere-StingRay-Kids-Shorty-Pink-Toddler-Approved-giveaway

Aqua Sphere GIVEAWAY

Enter to WIN one Seal Kid 2 Goggles & one StingRay Swimsuit of your choice!  Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter to win! Good luck!


Seal Kid 2 Goggles -The original swim mask for children, the Seal Kid delivers a leak-free fit for children as young as 3 years old. The Seal Kid utilizes Aqua Sphere’s patented curved lenses for a wide field of vision, making children more confident in the water. The easy-adjust side buckles are simple for kids or parents to adjust – even while wearing!


StingRay Swimsuit –Featuring 100% UVA and UVB protection and a hybrid construction of neoprene and spandex, the Stingray core warmer will keep kids warm, protect them from the sun and allow the freedom of movement they need while playing in and out of the water.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


What is ONE of your must-haves for swimming? Would love to hear from you!

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Thank you to Aqua Sphere for sponsoring this post.  As always all thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own.

Phoenix-Area Family Photography

So I am finally taking the plunge into officially shooting local families, kids, babies, man’s best friend!  For the past four years I have fallen in love with being behind the lens.  SO much so that I actually am working on getting myself back into the picture.


I would love nothing more than to be able to capture sweet moments with my camera.  I already shoot for friends and family and am happy to take this LEAP into the realm of Professional Photography.

If you or someone you know would love to work with me please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.


OR you can go find out about what sessions I am offering for families and sign-up to receive more information.

Thank you so much for the support as I start off on making this dream a reality!

FIVE Fall Family Photo Shoot Ideas

Fall is coming! Check out our FIVE Fall Family Photo Shoot Ideas that helped us grab a picture to send out as our holiday card!  Easy, DIY on props, outfits, and locations!


fall family photo shoot-ideas

1. Shoot Location

The last few years of taking our family’s photos I’ve learned A LOT about what works for us.  For shooting I like to take our pictures outside as the sun is setting or on a fairly overcast day.  Direct sunlight is never a good look unless you are at the beach.

One of our favorite places for Fall shoots is at our local farm.  I love capturing pure moments in time and running through leaves and splashing in puddles are memories I will forever want to keep.  For those that don’t want to get dirty(understandable) you could head to your local park!  Some of my favorite shots are of my two munchkins holding hands and walking in the grass at the park. Plus-our backyard may be tiny… but that doesn’t prevent us from making the most of our backyard space.


Our Local Farm


Butterfly Wonderland

2. Family Outfit Coordination

When thinking about Fall Family Photos and ALL of us being in the photo I wanted something that worked with what we currently owned AND melted together kindly in a color pallet.  I chose a soft blue(reminiscent of our Summer Family Photo Shoot) and started mixing away.  I grabbed all of the sweaters and jeans out of everyone’s closets-plopped them on our bed-and started figuring out what worked for us.

I tend to be MUCH more daring when I photograph the kids together in their outfit choices.  Thankfully at the age of two and three they do not care what they wear, as long as it is comfy.


Fall Family Photo Shoot


3. Props

Goodness do I LOVE a good prop. The prop usually helps keep little ones preoccupied which ensures less chances for meltdowns.  Plus, both of my babies did much better when they were holding something.  A rock, a truck– you name it and we used it.  Fortunately, with some planning you can figure out what will work best for your Fall Photo Shoot.  I love making sure that there are lots of leaves to throw, stomp on, and crush.  Perfect for little movers and shakers-PLUS it works for the season.  Two years ago I used a bunch of pumpkins and there were some pretty good picture outtakes from that shoot.  The toddler wanted to know what would happen to a pumpkin if you dropped it from a ladder.  Picture Perfect.


 Loads of Leaves

4. Professional Photos

Our Fall Family Photo Shoot this year took place at Portrait Innovations!  I got to get out from behind the camera and let someone else direct the show.  Loved that we just had to show up and smile.

5. Holiday Cards

 I work on getting our holiday cards out the day after Thanksgiving.  Our holiday cards are usually double-sided with plenty of pictures of our two little ones.  I am tremendously happy that we will be able to add a few of the ENTIRE family to the card this year.  There are choices people.  I really need to let go of my control factor and go into the studio more often.
There are only so many places you can go with a tripod.  And frankly the angles?  Well, let’s say that I am not there yet.  My tripod photos leave a lot to be desired.  Work-in-progress.
Let’s just say, take a bunch of pictures, in a variety of places/outfits/indoor/outdoor shots and choose your favorites!  Or if you were lucky enough to take a wonderful vacation with your family-add a family photo of you on location so you can talk about it in the letter you send with your cards.
Best Friends at the Park
Toddler in a Basket via Backyard Shoot
 Ahem, do people still send letters with their Holiday Cards?  Or is that a dying tradition…
Would love to hear your tips for Fall Family Photos!  
What do you do for Holiday Cards? Card? Letter? Both?
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Thank you to Portrait Innovations for sponsoring this post.  As always all thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own.

Effortless Meal: Healthy Burrito Bowls

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessMeals #CollectiveBias

First year with a kid in school and this mom is looking for ways to feed my hungry family of four! Today I am sharing how using the rotisserie chicken, my favorite Diet Coke(Coke for my husband), and macaroni salad makes my life easier! Homemade burrito bowls in a pinch! Mom Win!


Effortless Meal: Homemade Burrito Bowls

Preparing the veggies and sides ahead of time and then picking up a fresh roasted rotisserie chicken saves this mom from the bewitching hours. The hours when everyone gets home from school, work, and then immediately demand(albeit nicely) to be fed a family-approved meal.


RECIPE: Homemade Burrito Bowl

-Prep Veggies: I do this the night before while cleaning up the kitchen.  I simply cut up vegetables and place them in tupperware.  Our family favorites currently are bell peppers and celery!

-Grate Cheese: I grate a large batch of cheese and place it in tupperware.  This step can be easily skipped by grabbing a bag of Grated Cheese(but it’s cheaper to use blocks-so I grate away).

-Pantry Raid: Ensure you have a can(or two) of your family’s favorite beans and corn.  Black beans are the best for burrito bowls!

-Quick Stop: On your way home from picking up kids/work/running errands grab the Rotisserie Chicken Meal: a fresh roasted rotisserie chicken, 2L of Diet Coke(my love runs deep), and 2 lbs of macaroni salad.

-Shred: Shred the chicken.  Easily accomplished in under two minutes with your bare hands!

-Bowl Up- Place all of the ingredients in bowls so your family can serve themselves.  Everyone gets to “help” make their favorite bowl from carefully selected ingredients.


With a little prep the night before our meal after school took less than five minutes to put together.  Not one person had time to complain about when dinner would be ready as all of their mouths were full of a healthy, seriously effortless, family approved meal.

After school and swim lessons last week I grabbed the Rotisserie Chicken Meal: Marketside rotisserie chicken, 2L of Diet Coke, 2lb of Macaroni Salad from our local Walmart and headed home.  Loved how easy it was to find the meal(less time in the store is a win) with all of the helpful Effortless Meals signs. Raymond helped me pick out the macaroni salad and carried the groceries to the car.  How in the world is he big enough to do that?


I love that he truly helps around the house.  Hoping with all hope that it continues… mothers of older tikes please refrain from bursting this ignorant- little, happy bubble.  Either way we were all famished.  School and swim lessons really take it out of you!  Effortless-Meals-Burrito-Bowls-Walmart

As we stumbled into the house and set down loads of bags full of swim suits, towels, precious preschool artwork, and groceries I counted myself lucky that I took the time the night before to do a little prep.  Ten minutes of prep the night before is a serious life-saver and headache-stopper for this on-the-go family!

The kids change into new clothes… with a tad less chlorine on them and wash their hands before dinner.  While I simply grab out some bowls, spoons, and shred the chicken.  Emma Marie fell asleep before dinner… being two is rough these days with back molars coming in. BUT Raymond, my husband and I devoured large helpings of our favorite burrito bowls.


Effortless Meal: Homemade Burrito Bowls

The Winning Combo

Place Macaroni Salad on the bottom, Layer Cheese, Black Beans, Chicken, and Veggies.

The great thing about Burrito Bowl Night is that we usually have enough leftovers for a fabulous lunch the next day! Winning at it’s finest.  As we work on figuring out this whole back-to-school schedule it is nice to know that I can still serve healthy and fresh meals that my family will gobble up!



Healthy Burrito Bowls

Plus our goal is to always eat one meal a day as a family.  I love that I am no longer a short-order cook and actually get to sit down and eat while the food is still hot!  Talking about our days and sharing the highlights just became easier.  Tomorrow we are grilling up a Marketside Pizza– delicious and EASY.

Be sure to check out more delicious effortless meal inspiration.

How would you pair Marketside products with Coca-Cola?  

What works for your family during the back-to-school rush?


Would LOVE to hear from you!

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Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. You must be 21+ years old to try Poise Impressa Bladder Supports.

#LifeAfterLeaks #CollectiveBias


Being present in my kid’s lives is incredibly important to me.  I refuse to sit on the sidelines.  I coached high school soccer before being called, “Mom,”.  I miss being out on the field coaching, but know that in time I will be able to.  They are only little once and I want to coach, play, and create side aches full of laughter with my children.

 Nothing is going to prevent me from playing.


Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

For the longest time, after having two sweet kids I’ve not been able to run.  I mean REALLY run.  As a former athlete that is incredibly depressing and as a mother I didn’t want to worry about if sprinting after my kids would cause a problem.  Sure, there are ways to disguise the problem and prevent spots from showing up on clothes.  But frankly I am just not ready for that to be my last resort.


Working out those muscles has helped prevent leaks from occurring… although it must be said that when one of my family member’s scares me(on purpose) that no amount of muscle control can help.  Reminds me of when I was pregnant and would sneeze.  The Snizzle, as I liked to call it.  Just enough to be uncomfortable.  Well, here I am with a two and three year old and The Snizzle still gets me(perhaps we should call it the Scardy-izzle-Scardy-Cats Unite!).  And no, I am not pregnant.


Good times.  Chalk that up to another fabulous list of things no one tells you about before you have kids.

Well, now with my youngest just celebrating her second birthday I have come to the realization that yes, my muscles are MUCH stronger-so no sneezes get me.  BUT the elusive sprint is much harder to conquer.  I will get there.  I know I will.  But I can not comfortably run(fast) without a small, annoying problem.


Soccer Practice

When I first saw that Poise Impressa was supposed to help you through those moments-I thought it was a brilliant marketing ploy.  Well, friends-it works.  I can run, nay, I can SPRINT for long periods of time and not have a single problem.  I literally JUMPED FOR JOY at the thought that a liner(what always felt like a diaper) would never be necessary for me.  And yes, I can JUMP all I want without a single problem.

Chalk it up to someone finally getting at the root of a problem.  One that we girl’s don’t necessarily like talking about. Frankly, who does?


Little Soccer Star

But here I am shouting from the ROOFTOPS that this works.  I wore white shorts and played soccer for over an hour without any sort of “extra padding” to test this theory out.  I was disgustingly sweaty after-but not one single incident.  This is a life-changer.

An embarrassing problem that I have been made fun of for(not kidding) is now in my control.  Please know that if this didn’t work that I would’ve passed on this opportunity.  I actually tried this before this opportunity presented itself and low and behold it works.


I will not sit on the sidelines.  I will start playing in adult soccer leagues.  I will coach my own kids.

I will have no fear of leaks.


Words to the Wise

The size is not about how much you leak or how much you weigh. It’s about the best fit for you. Everyone is different. Poise Impressa is inserted like a tampon. Start with Size 1, and if you still leak, move to size 2, and then on if necessary.  I am grateful that the sizing kit was so easy to use– I grabbed it while picking up a prescription at my local CVS. I’ve now ordered my correct size from the comfort of my home from the CVS website.


Grab this coupon for $1 OFF- HERE for the Poise Impressa Starter Kit at CVS. (Available until all are claimed)


Don’t sit on the sidelines.  Be present in life.

I can coach and chase my kids and play competitive soccer with confidence thanks to Poise Impressa!

What would you do? 


Please send this information to those that could benefit.

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