Monday, May 18, 2009

Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

Kaden & Keith playing putt putt at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
My Dad waits for Kaden to come down the water slide at the main pool at the Arizona Biltmore.

My Mom, Keith, Kaden and Kendall at Tortilla Factory in Scottsdale.

Myself w/ Kaden and Kendall on the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

Kaden in the Sculpture Garden at the Phx Art Museum.

My parents get a good laugh from the balloon artist at Rustler's Roose.

Kaden comes down the tin slide at Rustler's Roose.

Kaden looks at the giraffes during our trip to Phx Zoo.

Myself with Kaden and Kendall at one of the lake areas at the Phx Zoo.

We returned last night from our latest trip. We visited Scottsdale and Phoenix, Az. If I could sum it up in one word it would be HOT! It was literally 105 degrees the whole time we were there. If you are planning a vacation to this area and want to know the best time to visit I would say Oct. through Apr. It is mid May and just about unbearable...I can only imagine what July and August are like...that is b/c I never plan to visit the desert in those months ever! Keith had business so the kids and I set out on the town. We had a great time and visited a lot of different places.
455 North Galvin Pkwy.
I liked the very natural setting (watch out for the numerous cactus' within finger tips reach) and the fact that there were lots of hands on areas for the kids. Probably the best exhibit at the Phoenix zoo is StingRay Bay featuring stingrays, sharks and horseshoe crabs in a pool that you can dip your hands into for that chance encounter. However, don't make the same mistake I did. Kaden was so excited to pet the stingrays (that was his favorite part of Seaworld when we visited) so I mentioned the exhibit to him before we got to the zoo only to find out it is only open from Oct.-April. Its even too hot for them in the summer!!! Second runner up is Monkey Village with no barriers b/w you and the monkeys...just don't touch the ropes. Apparently the monkeys like to soil them.
Biggest tips: Go early. It is too hot otherwise. If you are visiting during a weekday in the summer the zoo closes at 2pm anyways.
Don't forget your sunblock. You will pay $10+ for a small tube otherwise.
Bring swim diapers, towel and swimsuit. There are two water areas to cool off. Our favorite was Yakulla Caverns. It had a tropical type cave w/ two slides, shooting water and a little stream of water. We were so hot by the time we got to this refreshing paradise that Kendall and I actually just sat in the stream of water! We were all soaked by the time we left.
We didn't ride the Safari Train, which I would suggest is probably the best way to see the whole zoo. Also, they have the option of 'zoo croozin' where you can rent a 4 person bike or pedal boats on the main lake.

When planning your trip to the zoo allow time to visit the Desert Botanical Garden located at 1201 North Galvin Pkwy. so just down the street from the zoo. We were so exhausted by the time we left the zoo that we just couldn't do it and it is my biggest regret from this trip as we missed two special exhibits including the butterfly garden. It opens at 8am and closes at 8pm so there is plenty of time to do before or after.
1625 North Central Ave.
Favorite exhibit was by far "You who are getting obliterated in the dancing swarm of fireflies" by Yayoi Kusama. It is a mixed media installation w/ LED lights and it is like being in outer space. Kaden could not get enough of it. We must have walked through it 15 times; although I didn't bring Kendall into it as I thought it would scare her.
Feel free to let your little ones blow off some steam by running through the sculpture garden.
Plan to eat lunch inside the museum at Arcadia Farms. Try the turkey club or strawberry chicken salad. One tip: there was only one highchair during our visit so you may want to set a reservation and request ahead of time. Also, the only changing table is in the main bathroom. Beware that there are some pieces of art that have more of an R-rating than PG so you may want to beeline it when you see these coming if you have an inquisitive little one with you!

721 N. Central Ave. Located at the corner of Central and McKinney
Make sure to put this on your itinerary for either Wednesday evening from 4-8pm or Saturday morning 8am-noon. Come hungry! Kaden and I got a wonderful assortment of pastries for breakfast. I had a blueberry scone that was all natural and perfectly delicious. We also filled up on coffee and lemonade. My mom bought some beautiful pillowcases for her living room and hand made jewelry. The market is not very large so it won't be overwhelming for the kids in tow. They do have plenty of variety: arts and crafts, jewelry, flowers, food, beverages, fresh herbs and more. Kaden and Kendall enjoyed the live music and the fans w/ water mists throughout. I have discovered that my daughter is a dancing queen. She starts to rock and flair her hands every time she hears music! Hopefully she has a little more rhythm than her Mommy :)

Of course a vacation isn't a vacation if you don't indulge! These are my recommendations for places to eat:

Rustler's Roose located at 7777 S. Pointe Pkwy in Phoenix at the Arizona Grand Resort. This place has a ton of character! Valet parking where you are greeted by a live bull is just the beginning. When escorted to your seat you can go down the steps to the dining hall or go down the tin slide, which Keith and Kaden did. There is also a live country band and a dance floor where Kaden and I spent our evening. My parents enjoyed the balloon artist more than the kids did! Get the appetizer sampler and then choose from one of the numerous steaks. Pitcher of beer is also fitting here. Not much room for dessert! The view is awesome too.

Tortilla Factory located at 6910 East Main Street in Scottsdale. Great tortillas as the name suggests and patio seating w/ fountains and lights to keep the kids entertained so you can try out the Millionaire's Margarita! If the weather permits I would do lunch here and then check out the galleries up and down Main Street and Fifth Ave.

District American Kitchen and Wine Bar located at 320 N. 3rd Street in the Sheraton downtown. This place does have an uppity downtown vibe but the food is kind of down home w/ flare! Cool off after a day of sight seeing with an Apple Mojito. The shrimp poboy sliders are not to miss. The smaller meal will allow room for a very fitting banana split. Live Music near the bar. It does have a good kids menu. My son loved his grilled cheese and pizza soup (tomato soup that is)! Reservations may be a good idea; we waited about 30 mins for a table.

We tried out two locations for our stay here. First, the Hilton Suites located at 10 East Thomas. We liked the larger rooms with separate living and sleeping areas and the bathroom had extra shelving and drawers for all the kids stuff. A nice to indoor pool. The breakfast was also good w/ made to order crepes and omelets...sit near the koi pond. We didn't like the lack of staff. I made the mistake of paying for valet parking only to have to go to the front desk to have one of them go get my car each time. Has more of an Embassy Suites feel than that of a full service Hilton.
Once Keith finished his convention we checked into the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa for a couple of days of R&R before returning home. Located at 2400 E. Missouri Ave. only 15 mins straight up 24th Street from the airport. Good location b/w Phoenix and Scottsdale. The hotel is infamous and has been in business for 80 years. We liked the 8 different pools; although we spent most our time at the main pool as it offered the water slide. The gardens are beautiful. Views are speechless. Covered Playground. Golf (including a putting course), Tennis, Day Spa, etc. There are a couple of good boutiques on site including the Pink Saguaro, which carries more Lilly Pulitzer than I have ever seen before. I found myself and Kaden the cutest bathing suits and got Kendall an adorable sun dress. Rooms are on the pricey side; we had a suite, which offered more space and a great corner balcony w/ views of the pool, resort and mountains. We didn't like the parking charges...$27 a day to valet or $12 to self park. Constant extras, as with many resorts you are always having to tip someone. The wing we stayed in could use some updating as far as the furniture and carpeting. A bad storm came through on Monday evening and the glass doors to the balcony were shaking! The main lobby is not as impressive as I had expected, but all in all the place is a landmark and worth checking out. If nothing else plan to go for High Tea and a mani/pedi with the girls while the boys play golf.

Kaden Graduates :)

Kaden Michael graduated from 3 year old pre-k last Thursday. Watching him from my seat I had to hold back tears as he truly brings joy to my heart. His personality shines! He sang every song...of course always louder than the kid next to him as he is so competitive, and he was also the only one to stand up and tell a joke as part of the graduation ceremony. I knew it was coming and we had practiced his line over and over again, but there is always that fear of what if he forgets or freezes. Well, not Kaden, he adores the attention and limelight :)

He had a great year. Learned a ton and made lots of new friends. His teacher was amazing.

This summer he will go to vacation bible school, golf camp and swim lessons. Next year pre-K....where did the time go!

Monday, May 11, 2009 and the Swine Flu

New favorite You have got to check out the video clip on this site about swine flu. It is somewhat informative, but mostly hilarious! Seriously though, to anyone that has a toddler, how do you keep their hands out of their nose or for that matter their butt, and then more importantly from then putting those disgusting germ filled fingers, aka bugers, in their mouth???? I will need to wash my 4 year old son's hands every five minutes...practical, possible, probable-no! So my dilema continues: do I put my children on an airplane this week to travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona (closer to the epidemic of swine flu) or sit at home and not go w/ my family on vacation?
At our mother's day brunch yesterday my parents friend, who literally travels the world on a yearly basis, gave us a nasal passage blocker called Zicam. She informed us that you just swab it into your nasal passages and it blocks the germs from entering through your nostrils. Too good to be true...probably, but I think I will give it a whirl anyways after I ok it with their pediatrician.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Weekend 2009

I'm one lucky momma....I have two beautiful children and a husband, despite his moodiness, that is truly thoughtful, generous, and HELPFUL! The weekend kicked off on Friday morning w/ a mother's day breakfast hosted by Kaden, his classmates, and his awesome teacher Ms. Paige. The kids sang us songs, gave lots of hugs, served us pastries and fruit, and even made us gifts. After school Keith and I took Kaden, Kendall and Saige (my niece) fishing at my friend Tara's parents lake where Kaden caught his very first fish! It was a super cool moment according to Kaden. We then headed off to Kaden's soccer game where he had a huge fan base as my nieces Kylee and Saige and my nephew Ethan joined us w/ their Pops (my dad). It was off to dinner w/ the whole crew including our soccer pals Angela and Olivia and our friends Kim and Brandon and their two girls. Saturday was hectic w/ a birthday party to bring the kids to, shopping and tackling our lawn as part of Keith's mother's day present to me was to finish mulching the kids play yard and to plant lots and lots and lots of flowers. However, my big surprise came when he set up a dining set and chaise chair for me on our back deck. We have since enjoyed two dinners, one breakfast and a very nice mother's day brunch outside. Today was wonderful w/ a relaxing morning w/the kids and Keith and then my Mom and Dad and their friend Michelle, who is visiting from out of town, came over for a joint effort lunch/brunch. Even Kendall's Godmother, Shay Shay came over for a visit.

With the weekend coming to a close I realize that I'm not only appreciative to have today to get noticed and pampered and appreciated, but to sit and look at the loves of my life and realize that there is absolutely no where else in the world I would rather be.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Family Photos Slideshow

We took family photos last week w/ our rockstar photographer and good friend, Brandelyn Shirley. Who knew that my friend from high school and college would turn into this bigshot, awesome photographer :) Lucky us! Anyways, I was actually weeping at the latest photos. Kaden has grown so much and Kendall is too stinking cute in her tutu. I love the ones of me and Kaden in the field and there is one of Kendall laying her head on Keith's shoulder that is to die for! Check out makesure to click on the link for the slideshow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Welcome Weekend

After non-stop traveling and a couple of weekends filled w/ showers, parties, and events it is a nice welcome to have nothing going on this weekend. The kids and I were able to just take it easy. We had dinner and visited w/ friends and even had my nephew Ethan over last night for a slumber party. Kaden and Kendall have enjoyed snuggling and have started a new morning ritual of drinking their juice/milk on the couch together while watching toonies. Keith is out of town at work and will play in a golf tournament all day tomorrow so it will be a nice welcome to have him back home on Tuesday. We will start to plan for our upcomming trips to Phoenix, AZ and Charleston, SC.

Kendall turns 9 months

Kendall turned 9 months old this past Thursday. She went to the doctor for her check up and weighed in at 18lbs 8oz. (50%) and was 29" (75%). She is now on the move...scooting, crawling and pulling up and has cut her third tooth and the fourth is right behind that one. Such a sweet baby girl and she gets complements wherever she goes as she truly looks like a living baby doll. She has started to say more, bubba, and no in addition to mama and dada. She also gives kisses, especially to her brother bear.

Annual Steeplechase

My girlfriends and I attended the Kingston Downs Steeplechase again this year. It is an annual event that kicks off the spring. The weather was perfectly hot this year and it was a great time. We all got dressed up and put on our big floppy hats. It is fun to see so many people...its kind of like a big reunion. This year we started the festivities at Jay and Veronica Frazier's w/ breakfast and mimosas and after the races were over we headed back to their house for a cookout where Keith joined me. In the picture: Veronica, Kim, Shay, Michele, Brittany, Jessica, Amy, Suzanne, myself, and Chivonne.

Kaden's 1st Soccer Game

Kaden has started his second He plays for 45 minutes on Friday evenings. It is with the Clash Crashers. It is mainly learning the basics with other 3 and 4 year olds so not too competitive yet. Although, Kaden thinks everything is a competition. His friend, Olivia, from school is also on the team and her mom Angela and I get some good laughs just watching them run around.