Life

A 7th Birthday + Backyard BBQ

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Last weekend we celebrated the baby of our bunch’s birthday. She turned “7”! Yes, 7!! We can’t even believe it. I know I feel like I say that every year, or every time one of my children gets older.. but it’s really how I feel. Time just moves so dang fast. But also kind of not at the same time. While I’m extremely grateful for it, I always linger with a bit of sadness every year this one gets older.

If you’ve followed along for a bit you may already know this, but we don’t do big birthday parties for our children every year. You can read more about how we celebrate birthdays here. But we do try to make the best of everyones birthdays by celebrating THEM by letting the birthday person make most of the choices for dinners, family time and everything in-between for about a week, we call them birthday weeks!

Liliana was lucky this year that her birthday fell on a very long weekend where most of us were off from work and school. We celebrated her right in the middle of it with close friends and family with a casual backyard BBQ and swim party, complete with my grandma’s homemade chocolate cake (made by her brother Aden) “just plain without any frosting on it” just as she requested. It was relaxing, really simple and nothing special. But a perfect way to celebrate our favorite little girl.

Also, could she be any more of a Daddy’s girl…and I think I know who might be his favorite as well 😉

 

Thanks for the photos Samantha Broderick

Our Disneyland Surprise Vacation

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We pulled off our surprise Disneyland trip and couldn’t have done it without all of the help we received from Get Away Today. And it only seemed fitting that I finally blog our Disneyland trip from the spring on the return of our summer visit! Will and I decided to make our little ones first visit to the most magical place on earth a complete surprise. We had told them that Dad had a very, very long business trip (hence him taking 3 suitcases for himself) and since he was going to be gone for so long we were going to have grandma take him to the airport so we could all see him off and then hang out in SLC for a fun play day. Well..our big fib was well played and they never second guessed us. Just watch this video capturing it all.

See! They truly couldn’t believe it or us! Liliana kept thinking her dad was still going on that business trip all the way until she boarded the plane. And Liam just kept saying over and over “Wait. Are we really going to Disneyland? Like right now?” Once we landed though and quickly checked in to our hotel it all became very real for the both of them! And we hit the ground running immediately and headed straight into the park.

We were all so excited on our first day that I hardly grabbed any photos! But thankfully Will captured this photo of Liliana on the very first ride we took, Dumbo!

Our first day at Disneyland park was well spent. We stayed until just about close and hit all the rides that we could. Tip – stay late if possible. All of the lines ie: Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had no waits whatsoever! I think we rode Splash Mountain 3 time in a row back to back! It was so much fun!

For dinner on our first night at the park we ate at the Carnation Cafe. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we were sat outside and dined at the perfect time to get front row views for the electric light parade. We ordered all of their known faves – the fried pickles with dipping sauce, the baked potato soup and the homemade meatloaf. Not a single one disappointed. I still dream about those fried pickles if I’m being completely honest 😉

We woke up on day 2 and were completely exhausted, but so excited to head back for more. But first breakfast. We headed to our full complimentary breakfast buffet that the Residence Inn Anaheim Convention Resort offers all of it’s guests. Serious perks and something we always look for when traveling as a family. And then a quick peek at the rooftop pool area and splash pad before we headed off for our day.

We decided we’d spend the first half of our day at California Adventure and the second half back at Disneyland Park since Liliana had a full on princess makeover scheduled at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique later in the day.



After a fun morning at California Adventure we stopped in for lunch at the Storyteller’s Cafe. It was fun to see it hadn’t changed too much since we brought our 4 big kids there over 12 years ago. Will and I spent so much time reminiscing about that trip and talking with our two youngest all about it. Oh! Another quick tip! We feel like to get the best out of your trip you absolutely must download the official Disneyland App. It is so helpful when trying to navigate the park, check line wait times, as well as reserving dining at all of the Disneyland restaurants. Truthfully I don’t know how anyone does Disney without it!

Soon it was time to head to Cinderella’s Castle for Liliana’s appt at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. When we were planning this surprise trip in one of my Disneyland searches I found that your little girl could be turned into a real live princess. I had no idea that Disneyland offered anything like it! After chatting with Will we decided that we would surprise Liliana with an appt. We chose the Castle Package because after having so many children and watching how fast they grow up we know one thing for sure. And that is, that they’re only little once… and for such short time. So if you think you’ll do it later, chances are you won’t. Or maybe you will, but the time where it was pure magic may already be lost. So when we realized that this may be our only chance for Liliana to really enjoy the magic of all of this we jumped! Are we were so glad we did. She more than loved it.

Since our hotel was so conveniently located within walking distance to Disneyland it allowed for us to head back for an afternoon break. Liam + Liliana couldn’t get the visions of the pool from the morning out of their heads and both Will and I felt like a dip in the pool (and possibly a nap) sounded great since it was so hot!

After a good few hours we headed back to Disneyland for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen. Which we all loved! It was super fun and interactive with songs and dance all while you are dining. Also, if you’ve never experienced Goofy’s macaroni and cheese pizza you haven’t fully experienced life! We all seriously couldn’t get enough of it!

When dinner was over we strolled through downtown Disney where we stopped into a store where Liam constructed and built his very own remote control car! It was such a fun experience for him. We always try to do something special for each of our kids that they will remember. And since Liliana was able to enjoy being made into a princess it seemed that Liam making his own car was a perfect fit for him. We headed back to our room fairly early to get a good nights rest as we knew that the next morning was our early entry day and we were all going to need some serious sleep.

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Our third and final day at Disneyland was our early entry day! We got up at what seemed like the butt crack of dawn and rushed to the park to try to get in all the fun rides we could and that usually have the longest wait times. It was so fun to be in the park when there are hardly any others in there. It was kind of like we had the place to ourselves. While Will ran and took the kids on Hyper Space Mountain, I ran to Indiana Jones and staked our place in the front of the line. It worked out perfectly so they were able to ride both rides within the first half hour of us entering the park. If you have the chance to add early-entry to your park tickets for one of your days we highly suggest it!

We bounced back and forth between both California Adventure and Disneyland for the rest of the day. Enjoyed lunch at Ariels Grotto where we got to dine and meet four of the Disney Princesses. Snacked on some cotton candy and had the best corn dog of our lives from the Corn Dog Castle located on Paradise Pier in California Adventure. I truly haven’t had a corndog in probably over 20 years….but you bet your bottom I ate one and it was incredible! And of course we can’t forget the delectable and famous Dole Whip. Perfect for any hot day at Disneyland!

After a full 3 days, we said goodbye to Disneyland and hello to the beach (blog post coming up). We truly loved every bit of our experience at the most magical place on earth and can’t wait to head back again soon! I never thought I’d, or we would be any sort of crazy Disneyland loving family…but never say never. The magic is real and we all felt it and love it so much that I’m seriously considering season passes! We are only a short 10 hour drive 😉 and again, maybe I’m crazy, but I want to soak up all of the fun magic moments with our little ones before they get too big and it’s lost.

Thanks again to GetAway Today and Disneyland for making our trip the most magical and memorable ever. We can not recommend them enough for help with planning your vacation!

 

Also, thanks to Yanira Calise Photography for coming to Disneyland and capturing some fun photos for us.

 

This post is in partnership with Get Away Today and Disneyland. 

Love Your Hair, Love Her Hair with Dove

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As a mother I believe that it’s not only my job, but my obligation and duty to instill confidence and self love into my daughter. All the way from her sweet hair on her little head down to her cute little toes. Inside and out and all around. There is a narrow depiction of what “beautiful hair” is traditionally thought to look like and earlier this year, Dove Hair found that 8 in 10 women feel pressure to wear their hair a certain way. For many, these pressures began at an early age.

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Although I grew up without a mother I was fortunate to have a Father who instilled confidence in me and not shame. I’ve never felt pressure to wear my hair a certain way or wished that it looked differently. I’m grateful that my Father taught me to love myself for who I am and what I was given, and hope to instill the in my daughter.

In todays society, where young girls and women face all kinds of societal norms, I want my daughter to feel strong and confident in not only who she is but also how she looks. I want my daughter to love her hair, to know just how unique & beautiful it is and that it can be a source of confidence and not anxiety for her.

Dove Hair believes a positive role model can greatly impact a girls confidence and is empowering mothers to be a leader in their daughter’s hair confidence by teaching them how to love their hair. In fact, a recent Dove study found that 82% of girls learn to care about themselves from their mother. That means it’s mostly up to us Mother’s to speak positively about ourselves in every way so our daughters will too.

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Join myself and Dove in celebrating the beauty of your daughter’s hair today–so she loves her hair tomorrow.

You can tell her why you love her hair and inspire her to do the same by sharing your #LoveYourHair photo on Instagram and tagging @Dove. To add some extra love, visit LoveYourHair.Dove.com to create your own custom animated message and share with your friends & family.

 

This post was sponsored by Dove. All opinions are my own. 

 

Photos by Samantha Broderick Photography

 

A backyard birthday tea party + how we manage birthday parties in our family

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Last month in early September our baby girl turned “6”. SIX you guys. I’m only kind of dying inside every time I acknowledge that she’s completely out of the toddler years and fully into little girl mode. We celebrated her with the party she’d been dreaming of having for this past year. And I’m only a month late, which for me is like technically early. But, here’s a peek (actually way more than a peek) of Liliana’s backyard birthday tea party + pony ride.

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Thank goodness for friends (particularly ones who own florist shops and others who are photographers, and know how to set up a party), a husband who is super handy (he built these low tables the morning of the party) and willing to do anything for his baby girl (really any of us) at any time, for family who always step in when I need it and IKEA. Seriously, between a quick ikea stop and the target clearance section I was able to find basically everything I needed to make my vision of L’s backyard Tea party come to life.

Liam had a football game the day of L’s party and it really only left me with less than two hours to prep, set-up and make sure everything was ready before her little friends started to arrive. And without all the help from my village this party would not have been ready on time. And thankfully I was able to whip up a quick crown for my girl just minutes before her party started.

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Soon “tea” was getting passed around by the girls and little plates were getting filled with tiny sandwiches, fresh fruit, madeleines and the sweetest most perfect little tea party desserts one could ever dream of from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. It all looked so good that L’s big brother Aden couldn’t help himself and joined in for the tea party along with our kitten, Milo and our pup, Bella. Who are both never far away from Liliana and could quite possibly be the best little pets that any little girl could have.

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Watching Liliana and all of her little friends just simply enjoy themselves around a table snacking, giggling and toasting their tea made me realize again just why we make such a special effort to celebrate our children’s births like this. If you follow me on instagram you may have already heard me touch on our birthday party theory. Being a large family, we only have a few select parties for our children growing up. With 6 kids, it was just completely unrealistic for us to have a birthday party for each of our children every year. So shortly after we came together as a family we realized really quick that we would need to set a precedence with birthday parties, or we’d go broke. And ultimately, I feel like doing fewer parties with more meaning just makes them all the more special.

**If you’d like to hear what’s worked for us as far as birthday party balance is concerned read on to the next paragraph. If not, keep scrolling down to the very last paragraph here before more party pictures.** 


We generally only have a handful of actual parties for our children as they grow up. And I like to start them at an age where they can retain the memories from it for forever. For us that’s usually been around age 5 or 6. The next ones really don’t follow any schedule or pattern, but usually theres another one around age 8-10, followed by one that I think is such a poignant time is children’s lives. Ages 12-13. Our go to for a party for that age has been a fun overnight hotel stay with a manageable amount of friends (around 8).

I think it’s so important for your children to know just how much they mean to you at that crucial junior high age. That can be a rough spot for them. (i mean, do you remember junior high? it was kind of the worst stage of growing up for me) The awkwardness of trying to figure out who you are while you try to not get food stuck in your braces as you’re sitting next to a cute kid at the lunch table, but then you get so nervous because they are actually talking to you that you freak out (out of fear or pure excitement. you can never be sure how to tell what emotion means what, because one minute you’re fine and the next you’re having a full blown melt down because your mom looked at you wrong that morning. you know, that side-eye look where you don’t know if you’re in trouble, or if she just found out that you got the part in the school play. but really she’s just looking at you in pure confusion because she can’t figure out how or why you cry when you can’t find your pants that are hanging out in the pile on the floor in your bedroom that could grow it’s own colony of super funky bacteria or why you get so pissed when you can’t find your band shoes that are literally sitting 5 feet in front of you, but you just can’t seem to find them so you run around blaming everyone else but yourself because you just know that your little brother touched them and did something with them when in all reality you set them right where they are eventually found by that side-eyeing mom who really just wants to tell you that she loves you, but doesn’t really want her head bit off or a cry fest to happen so she just gives you a slight smile and walks away. phew…) and bolt, tripping over your backpack on the way and spill your lunch tray all over them. Yeah, that’ why I think it’s good to do a party at that age 😉

The next age we celebrate is usually 16, and then it’s followed up by the last one of them all while still being your child but straight turning into a full blown legal adult…18. These are just years that seem to work for us and our children. And not all of them have had big parties on all of those birthdays, sometimes we have just celebrated them a bit bigger than we normally would have ;). On years where we don’t have a birthday party we celebrate as a family with a meal & dessert chosen by whoever’s birthday it is. It simple, quiet, and usually just what is needed for them at the time.


From nearly the very first time Liliana saw our backyard at our new home she’s begged to have a horse. Her reasoning is completely valid, as our excuse before was that we didn’t have a yard big enough. So, to make this party more special for Liliana we decided to grant her ultimate wish of having a real live pony in her yard. I mean, I’m pretty sure that was my dream as a little girl too at some point, and since this age seemed best suited for a live pony at her party, her backyard tea party included a pony ride as well.

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After all the girls had their share of pony rides around the yard, Liliana opened her gifts from her cute friends and then they all ran into the pool house for a swim. And of course these little girls can never not end their swimming time without getting in the hot tub which was the perfect way to end any party.

Again, I can not express again how grateful I am for our family and friends. It was so nice to know that while I was sitting & watching all the girls swim, others were tidying up plates, food, etc. When my big kids were younger I used to feel like I had to do it all when it came to their birthday parties. You know, make the food, cake, cupcakes, decorate, and then run around trying to snap pictures too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that delegating out things like having someone else cater food, or make the dessert is such huge help. I’m so thankful that The Sweet Tooth Fairy was there to make all of the darling sweets and cake for Liliana’s party. It truly took such a load off of my shoulders knowing that it was not all up to me. Also I can not express how amazing it was to have a photographer at Liliana’s party. It made it so easy for me to just be there and take in everything and not have to worry about capturing the magic that was happening because I knew my girl Sam from Samantha Broderick Photography was capturing it all and more.

Before we knew it is was starting to get dusk and while all of Liliana’s little friends had gone home her family and friends were still here and ready to sing happy birthday to this darling baby girl of ours on her day. She smiled and she blew out her candles and still hasn’t told me what she wished for.

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Happiest 6th birthday sweet Liliana. We hope you had the party you dreamed of and know just how much your mama and daddy love you. xx

 

Sources: The amazing desserts were all made by Megan from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. L’s dress can be found here. The tables were made from two of these table tops. We then added 4×4 in posts cut to 14 inches and attached with L brackets. Most of the party supplies (like everything on & around the tables) are from here. The cutest and paperless party invitations can be found at Paperless Post invitations. And last but not least all of these beautiful photo’s are by Samantha Broderick Photography.

A Father’s Day Shave with Gillette Mach3 SE

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This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint, P&G and Gillette. All opinions are my own.

I’m not really sure when it happened, all I do know is that it IS happening, and it’s happening right now before my eyes…my baby boys are straight becoming men. They’re like man children these days and I guess a part of becoming a full blown man child is learning how to shave all those new hairs that are springing up all over their little baby faces. (insert severe mama crying here).

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So, this Father’s Day, the kids and I decided that it was due time that we get the Dad of our home a new razor. I mean, he’s been super kind to share his razor with his boys (and me) thus far, but I’m pretty sure he deserves his very own at this point. 😉

And thank goodness my one stop shop and favorite store ***COSTCO*** always has my back. We were able to pick up the Gillette Mac 3 Signature Edition Razors, which are only available at Costco, for my husband on one of our 19 trips we make their weekly…okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But for real we frequent our local Costco nearly 4-5 days a week, no joke. We also picked up some Gillette Fusion ProGlide 2-in-1 Shave Gel while we were there too. My son Mathew pointed out that it was perfect that the shaving gel comes in a pack of 3, which meant that the boys could each have their own as well as give one to their Dad.

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As usual with this selfless Dad of ours, the new razor was used as a teaching lesson for our son Aden. Watching my oldest son and husband show Aden all the ropes of shaving the proper way about made my heart burst right there on the spot. And when Aden decided he wasn’t quite ready yet to put the razor to his face, his big brother did instead with Aden watching every move and their dad coaching along the way. When Mathew was finished they all checked out the final result. There was truly NO redness, because with Gillette Mach3 Signature Edition Razors, you can declare victory over redness with a smooth shave that’s up to 100% redness-free (it’s possible with Mach3®).

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These moments right here are the ones that I never want to forget. Ones that are simple, but also so special. I am so grateful that my children have such a wonderful man to look up to as a Father. One who will drop anything for any of us at any given moment, and even share his razor with all of us too. xo

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