Arizona Shopping Update and Photos

Earlier this month, my family and I visited Arizona.  I wanted to show some of the items we bought and our family photos.

In Sedona we shopped at Tlaquepaque Arts and Craft Village.  While there we bought three pieces of Jewelry for me and my son received his monkey stuffed animal.  He was so cute picking out the toy he was going to get. The toy shop was called Tlaquepaque Toy Town and I forgot the jewelry stores name but it was on the other side of the toy store.  The toy store is upstairs and so is the jewelry store, just across on the other side.  At the jewelry store, we bought two pairs of earrings.  One is a hoop made from turquoise and one is small posts made from coral. We also bought a bear pendant necklace made from Buffalo turquoise.


Earrings and necklace


Sons Monkey from Sedona with his Jack Rabbit and book from the Grand Canyon.

My husband also bought two shirts in Sedona. He bought a singlet from the Sedona Running Co. and a North Face shirt from Hike House.

At the Grand Canyon, we bought our son a board book of animals at the Grand Canyon.  The book is so cute and the pictures are great.  My son loves it.  He also picked out a jack rabbit stuffed animal as we wanted him to get a toy from an animal you can find there. He goes to bed with both of these stuffed animals and gives them daily hugs.

We also each bought a shirt from the Grand Canyon Brewing Company.  I mean we as in my husband and I. I do not have a picture of these shirts as they are in the dirty laundry pile.

Lastly, our family photos came out great.  Even though our son was extremely fussy that day, she was still able to get some great photos.  The picture below is one of my favorites from that day.


Family Photo in Sedona.  Photographer: Photography by Janise. 



Steak and Pepper Tacos

This week I saw this recipe called Steak and Pepper Tacos.  I thought it would be perfect for my husband.

Husbands rating: 2.5/5. The peppers did not hold well being reheated and he said the meat was a little tough.

Ease: 5/5. Cut and cook.  Pretty easy.

Changes: We did not use oregano. My husband also added hot sauce to his taco.

Recipe: You can find it here.

We did not get a picture of this.

My Imperfect Son Part 2

My sons weird rash that he had in June disappeared after a few days.  He has not had any weird skin conditions as of late.  However, he is still imperfect.

So about two weeks ago he went in for his 15 month checkup.  Things started out great: height, weight, and head size were all normal compared to his past visits.  His heart and lungs sounded great.  His throat, ears and eyes looked great too.  He was alert and would look at his doctor when he was supposed to.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

I mentioned that I think he is allergic to peanuts and described what happened when I gave him a little dab of peanut butter on a cracker (projectile vomit all over his dad and a rash).  She said she does not recommend any nut product for kids under 3 just because their immune system is weird.  However, she wants him to see an allergist just to make sure so that we and his school know for the future.  That was fine.

We were about done with the exam when she checked his diaper area.  His hips were fine but she noticed a little bump.  So she examined him and said he seems to have a hernia. Now I am not a doctor in any way, so I looked at her confused. She understood and said baby hernias are not the same as adult hernias.  I was thinking “My son does not lift weights…yet.”  Baby hernias start in the womb.  Basically what happens is when the genitalia get in place, it creates a passageway.  The passageway is supposed to close but sometimes does not.So fluid can get stuck or sometimes even the intestines.  She wanted me to go take him to the Urologist.

So he has had the appointment and we have a check-up in a few months. He asked if it changes size and I said I have not noticed. If it does change size, he needs surgery now. He thinks it is liquid which is not a hernia but it followed before the passageway closed up. He said there is a small chance it might clear up on its own, if not he needs out-patient surgery.

I really do not want him to have surgery but I also want the best for him.  We can do the surgery now and not wait but I want to wait to see if there is a chance he will not need the surgery.

Anyone else experience something similar?

Pulled Chicken Sandwich with Creamy Ranch

This week I found three recipes and gave my husband options.  This is the one he was feeling. Now, I didn’t read all the recipe before we went grocery shopping so I changed things quite a bit.

Husbands Rating: 4.5/5.  He said next time put some hot sauce in the crock pot to give it some heat.

Ease: 5/5. Just put the chicken in a crock pot and shred it.  The end.

Changes: My husband bought pretzel rolls instead of the recommended ciabatta. Now, I didn’t look at her recipe for slow cooking the chicken, I assumed it was on this recipe.  It was not.  So I cooked on high for about 4 hours with some ranch dressing and paprika.  I did not use measurements, just added what I felt.  I also did not make my own ranch dressing, I just did store-bought.

Recipe: You can find it here.


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He had not melted the cheese yet in this picture.  I think he wanted to get the chicken showing.

Crispy Bacon Pasta Salad

My husband likes a good pasta salad but he can be picky with it.  The first time I ever made him pasta salad was right at the beginning of my cooking experiences.  The recipe called for 2-3 cloves of garlic.  I read that as 2-3 whole things of garlic.  Let’s just say that pasta salad was thrown in the trash once I realized what a clove was.  So this brings us to this pasta salad recipe.  My husband wasn’t sure how it would turn out since he has never had corn in his pasta salad before.

Husbands rating: 5/5.  He loved it.

Ease: 4/5.  I started with cooking the bacon by cutting it first.  When the bacon was cooking, I cooked the pasta and chopped all the veggies.

Changes: Did not use any herbs or tomatoes. Herbs because I was too lazy to look for them and I know we do not have rosemary and didn’t want to buy it.  Tomatoes because my husband is not a huge fan.

Recipe: You can find it here.


July Stitch Fix

It is time for another Stitch Fix post.  I received my box on Saturday and I really wish I would have planned it better to at least give me a week between the box and my vacation. I requested a stylists that I had in March and a black pencil skirt for work since mine is getting old.

Here is how Stitch Fix works if you are new to it:

1. Fill out your Style Profile. This gives detail on your style, sizes, budget and anything else like a link to your pinterest board.

2. Once you have “ordered” your box, they will send you 5 items from a personal stylists.  It is a $20 styling fee which is applied as a credit toward anything you keep.

3. Try everything on. They send you Style Cards with recommendations on how to wear your outfit.  You have three days to decide what you do and do not want.

4. Buy what you like and return the rest. If you keep all 5 items, you get 25% off your entire purchase.  Don’t like something, they send you a pre-paid mailing bag to drop in the mailbox.  It is free shipping.

Here is what I got:


Stylists card with the stylists I requested

First up is the Loveappella Rori Button Detail Knit Top $48


I loved it.  It is so soft and comfy.  Plus I can wear to work or out.  It is a keeper.

Next is the Loveappella Domenique Lace Detail Crossback Knit Top $48


Cute top and I love the color.  However, I feel like I would be pulling at the shirt all night thinking my shirt was riding up.  Since I do not like to be annoyed while wearing clothes, I sent it back.

Next is the Marlyn Schiff Clarita Floral Filigree Earrings $34


I love silver jewelry but couldn’t see myself wearing them too much so I sent them back.

Last is the Market &Spruce Benni Crossfront Knit Top $48 with the Lysse Evita Pencil Skirt $88


My husband loved the top but the back was pretty sheer.  I hate layering because it is so hot here that I sent the top back.  The skirt has a black on black floral print.  One of the blacks is more faded so the flowers really stand out.  Hard to tell from the picture though.  This skirt has a liner and an elastic waist.  It was very comfy but it was so hot!!  I would be sweating in this at school as my room has unpredictable temperatures.  I also sent the skirt back.

So I only kept one item but I was very happy with this fix because there was nothing I just hated.  I have already requested my stylists again for September. You can sign up for your own fix here.

You can check out more Stitch Fix posts here.

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Northern Arizona Trip

I love to travel.  My husband does not love to travel but we are slowly changing that.  I traveled a good amount as a child and I wanted that for my children.  My plan is to take a family vacation every year.  To me a vacation is to go someplace and explore.  It does not mean visiting family.  This year we decided Northern Arizona mainly because I had a conference there and was already going to be in Arizona.  My husband and son did not go to the conference so I picked them up at the airport a few days later.  I’ll break up our trip day by day and include traveling with little one tips.  This was my sons 6th flight so we should be pros but we are not since every age group brings different problems. I also need help in deciding on where we go next year.

Also, everything I mention, I paid for.


My flight was early in the morning so my husband and son dropped me off because my son’s school was not open yet (it was his last day there until middle of August).  My conference was in Phoenix and we were staying at the Arizona Biltmore.  This is an awesome hotel. Highly recommend it. My first meeting wasn’t until the afternoon so I had some time to lay by the pool.  They have like 8 pools on the property and one of them is pretty big with a slide. The rest of the day I was in meetings.


Biltmore room


Private Pool


Right outside of the Biltmore’s property is a canal trail system that goes over 20 miles.  It crossed some busy streets but nothing terrible at 6 am.  The trail was mostly crushed granite but there was some cement where I ran.  You could see mountains in the background. I started the day by doing a 3 miler.  I am use to running in hot humid weather and now I was running in hot dry weather.  I was so thirsty my entire run.  Luckily, the Biltmore gave me a little water bottle before I left the property and another when I got back on.


Canal Trail Views

I had to shower and get ready because I had more meetings all day.  I did carve sometime for more pool time.

I will say something  really nice about the hot weather is that I could watch my running clothes in the shower and they would dry in no time outside.


I went back out the trail and ran about 4 miles.  I walked by the property’s little shops and they looked really cute. I had meetings the rest of the day but again carved out some pool time and went to the lobby to enjoy some popsicles. Our conference had The Spazmatics play that night so I danced the night away.  The Spazmatics are an 80s cover band.


My conference held a 5K that went throughout the Biltmore’s property. It was nice to see parts I hadn’t explored yet. We only had meetings in the morning due to we were leaving at around noon.  I rode with everyone to the airport and then picked up our rental car.  I also had to stop at Target to buy diapers and snacks.

We only pack enough diapers for the day of travel.  We would rather buy once we get there to save some room in our suitcases. I was nervous because it was my husbands first time flying with our son by himself. My son did what he always does, had some milk and went to sleep.

My husband flew Southwest as that is our airline of choice with traveling with a little one.  We love them because they are family-friendly, offer family boarding and you can check bags for free.  My husband only had to check his bag as we never bring a car seat and we left the pack n play home too.

We always rent a car seat for the rental car place and have never had issues with them. They have always been super clean and in great shape. We only stayed at hotels that offered free crib service (this was new for us). We try to bring as little as possible to make traveling a little easier.  We always bring a stroller though because you can gate check that.

They had an uneventful flight so we took our 2 hour drive to Sedona.  We ate a little local cafe called Blue Moon Cafe because it was the first one we saw open. They gave my son some army men to play with while we enjoyed our meal.

We stayed at the Arabella.  I choose this hotel because of the free crib service and free breakfast (a must). Their breakfast was continental. Our room was a pretty good size but a pretty small bathroom. We did have a balcony which had a nice view of the red rocks. Our room also had a little fridge which was perfect for milk.


Arabella Room


View from our room at the Arabella


My husband went trail running on a trail that starts right by our hotel room.  We also were taking family photos that morning at Courthouse Butte which was gorgeous.  One of our family traditions is we take family photos on our vacation just to get new views.  We did it last summer in Taos and now in Sedona.  To find a photographer, I do a google search and then e-mail all the photographers to see who is available, what they offer, etc. I have not seen our photos yet but our photographer was great.  Our son was not having it that day but she was nice and calm.  Very patient. Her company is Photography by Janise.

After our photos and my sons nap, we ate at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill.  We both really enjoyed the food and beer. We also shopped in the shopping center that our restaurant was in. We went to the cutest toy shop that only sells toys made in the US.  My son picked out a monkey stuffed animal as he went around and hugged every animal. We also went to a jewelry store and bought a few pieces made by locals or Native Americans in the area.

For dinner we ate at Javalina Cantina and we didn’t really enjoy the food or drinks. The only thing we both liked was the view and the fried ice cream.


Red Rocks in Sedona


We checked out of the hotel and drove to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Rookie mistake: I did not do much research on the canyon.  It was packed!  However, it was gorgeous.  I recommend parking in Lot 4 as it is actually closer to the Visitor Center. We spent a couple of hours there taking pictures and exploring.  My son has a National Parks Passport book that we bought in the Outer Banks, NC. Every time you visit a National Park, you stamp your book. The Grand Canyon has multiple stamping locations so we were not able to collect all of them. We decided we have to go again when my son is older but stay at one of the hotels in the park.  We heard you have to book a year in advance. The pictures make the Grand Canyon look amazing but it does not compare to actually seeing it in person. We even saw some wild Mule Deer on our way out.


Grand Canyon


Grand Canyon


Sidenote on the Passport Book: It is pretty awesome.  Our goal is to get our son to as many of these parks as possible.  So far we have a couple from the Grand Canyon, 4 from the Outer Banks and one of the Ulysses S. Grant house in St. Louis.

On our way to the freeway to take us back to Phoenix, we stopped at the cutest town off of Route 66 called Williams.  We ate and drink at the Grand Canyon Brewing Co.  Great food and drinks.

In Phoenix we stayed at a very modern boutique hotel downtown called The Clarendon. This hotel was made for single young professionals but the staff was amazing.  They offer free snacks at check-in too.  For dinner we ate at NYPD Pizza which was really nice.


The Clarendon


Flew home.  My son fell asleep probably one hour into the flight.  We bring plenty of snacks with us but we cut it close this time and couldn’t buy an extra milk. A little warning: my son eats those fruit/veggie pouches, like the Plum Organics which are 4 oz.  They will make you open them which means you have 24 hours to use it before it goes bad. We bring toys for the flight as well but we try to tire him out as much as possible before the flight like letting him walk around the boarding area.  Since we can walk, he had to go through the metal detector by himself.

We got home, went to our car and unpacked.  We also had to get the dogs back from the kennel.


Northern Arizona is amazing and I wish we had more time to stay there. So now begs the question: where do we go next?

June Updates

June saw the end of the school year for me and I was lucky enough to get all my extra training done in June as well.  However, my son continued to go to school until July 1st because I had at least one training per week which is too much for my husband to take off work.  My husband usually works half days on Fridays so we would get together for lunch or go see a movie.

My son never went to school on Thursdays because I had enrolled him in The Little Gym classes.  He loves it!  We now also go to their open gym times.  My son was 14 months in June and the activities they do include balance beam, swinging on the bar, forward rolls, etc.  He has so much fun when he is there and he loves all the teachers.  I only enrolled him for the summer as an activity for us to do during the day but I think I might have to enroll him in the Fall too.  However, they do not offer many night classes. You can tell he loved climbing the rock wall.


Rock climbing

He is also still in swim class which he was promoted to the next level which means he has more teacher-time, less parent holding time.  They also do more submerges. He loves pool time and gets very excited for class.

One disappoint this month was a trail race I signed up for was rescheduled.  The park was closed for two weeks due to flooding so they rescheduled until August.  No big deal since I still get to run but I had been looking forward to that race.

On Father’s Day Weekend, we all ran the No Label Brewing 1st Street 5K.  The race is 3 years old and we have ran it every year. We love the race company that puts it on and have done a few of their races.  It is a stroller friendly race and the brewery is also extremely kid friendly. The run this race on a Saturday and then you get a couple of beers in a pint glass that you get to keep.  It was very hot.  I should expect that because it is June in Texas but this year seemed especially bad. At least to course takes you through some shade and it has a lot of turns so you are never on the same road for too long.  This year a family who lives on the course had out lemonade for the runners.  If I was just walking the race, I would have taken it.  The race passes them twice but by the time we saw them again, I was so close to the finish that I just wanted to get there as fast as possible.  I ran a 28:38 which is a 9:13 min/mile pace.  My husband finished in 28:40 (he had the stroller).  He started a little way behind me and said his first mile was over 10 minutes as he was getting around people so his second and third mile were in the 8 minute range.


Yes I pixelated the other people out of the photo. We had a lot of fun after the race with some of our running friends.

We spent Father’s Day itself at a brewery with a hiking with kids club.

Speaking of which, this summer we have done a lot of Hike it Baby events especially me in the daytime.  I highly recommend seeing if there is one in your town.  You can look here.  It is a group for parents who want to do outdoors activities with their kids.  It is also free.  I like it because it gets us outside and something to do.

Socially, we have gone to one wedding in June which was a really nice wedding.  It was at this old firehouse that they have turned into an event hall.  We have also attended two little birthday parties for our niece and one for my sons friend from school.

So far our summer has been nice but a little too fast.

Books and Movies in June

I will have some big updates in the next coming days as I want to discuss the family vacation I just took.  I just have to get all the pictures in order.  I will also have a June recap too in the next couple of days.  We just got home yesterday so I need to get things in order here first.


The best book I read in June was The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. As a teacher, I read a lot of YA books for my classroom library.  This is one my students had recommended for me.  I love dystopia type books. So in this series, which I have only read the first book, there are two types of citizens: red bloods (commoners) and silvers (like royalty). The Silvers also have some sort of power depending on their family line.  The main character, Mare, is a Red blood but she is thrown in the Silver world because she for some reason has some power.  The story focuses on her and living in the Silver world.  I really enjoyed it but it did take me awhile to get into the book.  I would give it a 4/5.


One of the best movies I saw in June was  Me Before You. Last month I reviewed the book and I just loved the movie too.  I thought the movie followed the book pretty well.  They did take things out of the movie because of time constraints but they were not major developments either. By taking them out, it did not ruin the movie.

I also finally saw Inside Out. I rented this for the last days of schools to show my students.  This movie is so cute. For those who have not seen it, Riley is a pre-teen girl who just moved.  The main characters though are her emotions Joy and Sadness.  They have to fix somethings to get Riley emotionally back.  Very cute movie and pretty funny.