Friday, August 19, 2016

Sidewalk Chalk and Somersaults

Somersault: an acrobatic movement in which a person turns head over heels in the air or on the ground (Google)

Basically, something my one year old should not be able to do. But try telling her that. She is pretty much the somersault queen these days. She loves to turn head over heels over and over and pop up clapping for herself. Definitely getting too big!

But it's not just the somersaults. It's the sudden desire to help mom with all the chores, especially dusting. It's the insistence on doing everything herself. It's the coloring. The talking. The desire to have book after book read to her and being able to sit through them all... sometimes for up to half an hour. It's the little smile when she knows she's done something well and the determined stare down when she knows she didn't get it quite right. In all, my baby is growing up.

Yesterday, we played with sidewalk chalk, and she didn't even try to eat it once. This is a big deal for us!



She will be 17 months old next week and I just can't believe it. I have really enjoyed this stage as she is more and more interested in the world around her. Even though nobody else would understand us, we really do have conversations. She tells me what she is thinking and how she is feeling and I usually follow (you know, aside from the scream fests that sometimes happen).




Though there are still days that I wish I could slow down the clock, I am really enjoying each and every day and the new discoveries they bring. It's amazing how quickly she is learning and growing and I feel so blessed to be able to be home with her and watch the magic happen!

Friday, August 12, 2016

To The Mother Of The Boy Who Helped Me To My Car

I wish I new your name. I wish I could thank you personally for the way your raised your son. I wish I could call you up and ask you how you did it. I wish we could sit down and really get to know each other.

But since I can't do any of that, I'll just have to thank you here. So thank you. Thank you for teaching your son to be aware of others and their needs. Thank you for teaching him to reach out and serve. Thank you for teaching him to care.

I would guess that your son is somewhere between 10 and 12 years old. He saw me in line at Home Depot last week. I had my hands full. We had just moved into a new home. My husband had to work. My baby wasn't sleeping well in the new house. The sun was streaming into her window and I needed a quick fix. I went to buy garage insulation, not realizing that it came in a huge strip. I was trying to balance the large sheet while simultaneously pushing my over tired baby in the cart. When her screams escalated, I was trying to carry her in my arms, balance the sheet of insulation, and push the cart at the same time. I was a little overwhelmed. Then I heard the sweetest voice from behind me: "Ma'am, I can help you with that." I turned to find a kind young man looking up at me. I gratefully passed off the insulation to him while I fished for my wallet to pay for my purchases. Even though the insulation was about five times his size, he offered to carry it to my car. I looked at you, and you nodded your approval. He had quite the time of it, getting that large sheet to my little car, but he didn't give up and he did it with a smile on his face. When we made it, he looked from the sheet of insulation to my little car and back. "We're going to need some help," he said, and off he went. He came back with an employee and made sure I was okay before heading back inside to meet you. The employee helped me squish the insulation in my car and tie the trunk down. As I was loading my baby in, I looked up at the sound of someone calling to me. Your son was leaning out the window of your car. You had driven him by to check on me one last time. "Everything okay now?" he asked. I assured him that it was and he told me to have a great day before driving off again.



And to me, this was a tender mercy. I had come to Home Depot, feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, and I left grateful to have met your son, and confident that all would be well.

You see, this experience left a great impression on me. I could tell that you taught your son by example. You must really care about others. You must look for and seek out opportunities to help. You must encourage your son to do the same.

I could tell that your son was genuine and sincere. He wasn't helping me to get anything in return. He was helping me because he sincerely cared. He saw a need and knew that he could meet it. He wanted to do good simply because it was the right thing to do.

This experience also helped me to see ways that I need to change. It helped me see how I want to raise my children.

I realized that I am seldom aware of the people around me while out and about. I have a purpose, get in, get what I need, and get out. Now I will be aware of those around me and notice needs that I can meet.

I want to teach my children to choose to help.

I want to teach them to see others and their needs, even when life gets busy. Maybe especially when life gets busy.

I want to live by example and do those things myself.

So thank you for raising such a wonderful young man. Thank you for letting him help an overwhelmed young mother. Thank you for showing him the way to be the difference in the world. I am lucky to have crossed his path.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grilled Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sadly, our summer in Arizona has officially come to a close. It's hard to see it end, but exciting to welcome the next phase of our life. We will be back in AZ full time in just one more year, so we have that to look forward to! I'm sorry for the lack of blog posts. Between moving, Brad taking the bar, and trying to fix a number of things in our new house (scorpions, leaking A/C, no car...) life has been a little crazy. I'm looking forward to getting things in order and getting back in a routine. Here's to hoping!

Our Arizona summer was fantastic! It was especially wonderful to spend so much time with out families. We miss them terribly already and are counting down the days to our next visit. We did so many fun things with the family and I'm excited to tell you all about them!

My brother came up with a pretty stellar idea one day after a BBQ. Grilled grilled cheese sandwiches. It's your typical grilled cheese, but cooked on a grill instead of on the stove. It was seriously so good!


So here's how you do it: 

Prepare your grill. The sandwiches come out a bit better if the grill is not super hot. So if you are using charcoal (like we did), you will want to wait for them to cool down a bit. If you're using gas, just keep the temperature down. 
Butter the outsides of your bread.
Fill your sandwich with cheese and other fillings. Ideas include avocado, ham, tomato, cooked bacon... the possibilities are endless! My favorite combo was 1 slice of cheddar jack, 1 slice of pepper jack, avocado, bacon, and tomato. So good!
Put sandwiches in a grill basket (sometimes called a fish basket)
Cook on the grill, turning and rotating often until bread is crunch and cheese is melted. 

Cooking the sandwiches this way made for a super fun family activity and the grilled cheese was extra delicious! This would also make for a great Stay-At-Home Date Night! So fire up the grill and let us know how they turn out!

What is your favorite kind of Grilled Cheese Sandwich?



Friday, July 22, 2016

10 Dates For Busy Weeks

Brad takes the bar on Tuesday and Wednesday (cue insane happy applause), and so things are a little crazy around here. Poor guy wakes up early, stays up late, and only takes small breaks for lunch and dinner. He's totally ready, and has been super dedicated with his studies all summer. It's just crunch time, and he (being the amazing student that he is) just wants to make sure that he hasn't missed anything important. I'm grateful that he's taking it so seriously, but we are sooooo ready for it to be over.

Date night these days is even more important than it has ever been. We need that time to slow down and reconnect after very little time together in the week. For us, we try to have a good long date night, regardless of how busy we are. But there are times that we don't have much of a choice and a short date night is necessary. Then other days, we need to sneak in an extra bonus date during the week to tie us over until the weekend. So if you're in one of those boats, these ideas are for you!



1. Go Out for Dessert
If you don't have time for a full dinner date, go out for just dessert! We like to share a slice of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. We would definitely recommend Adam's Peanut Butter cheesecake, Red Velvet cheesecake, or Salted Caramel. All so good. If you aren't into cheesecake, there are lots of places that you can go for dessert. Pizzookies at Oreganos, cupcakes from Sprinkles or The Sweet Tooth Fairy, pie at Village Inn... Can you tell that we looove dessert?

2. Get a Specialty Soda
There are all sorts of Soda Shops popping up in the Phoenix/Mesa area. We personally like Fizz, and have also heard great things about Sodalicious. This is a great "quick date" because the drinks are prepared in just minutes. Once they are ready, sit and visit while sipping your drink. And let me tell you, even if you aren't into soda (which I'm usually not), these drinks are so much fun!

3. Bake Cookies
Brad and I love to bake together! Cookies are a great option, because they usually bake in less than 10 minutes. Get creative and find a fun new recipe.

4. Go Grocery Shopping
If you have to do it anyways, you might as well do it together. Enjoy time walking the aisles and catching up after a busy week.

5. Go For A Drive
We love to go for drives and see new things. Right now, we are really into driving through different neighborhoods, contemplating buying a home in the next year or so. It's fun to look at the different houses and areas and see where we would like to be. Other days we like to drive a little farther and get out of the city to see something new.

6. Color and Chat
Coloring actually kind of stresses Brad out. But I find it super relaxing. He indulges me. We have a few adult coloring books and enjoy (read: I enjoy and Brad enjoys being with me) getting creative while we visit about the day.

7. Go Out for Bagels
Mix things up and try a breakfast date. If you don't have time to sit down and wait for an order to come, go grab bagels real fast. We like to go to Einsteins and spend some time before our day begins talking about our goals and plans for the day.

8. Make Dinner Together
You're going to eat anyways, so spend the time together. There is something special about sharing the kitchen.

9. Play a Card Game
You can find lots of ideas on Pinterest for a 2 player card game. We've found some that we enjoy and that give us a moment to reconnect during busy weeks.

10. Read a Book Together
Brad and I enjoy reading to each other. It's something you can do for 5 minutes or a whole hour. Before going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we reread some of the books together. We've done the same thing with other books. It's fun to read to your spouse and to be read to. It's a great quick date because it takes just as much time as you want to give it. Super fun.


What are some other quick and easy date nights that you enjoy?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

POGO: Your Pass to Free Summer Fun

[This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own and are completely honest. Thanks for supporting Two Best Friends in Love!]

With only about one month of summer left, we are desperately trying to catch as many fun things as possible. Between studying for the bar and getting ready to move into our new house (hooray, we found one!), things have been a little crazy. But even when things are crazy, we know how important it is to prioritize family time.

Summertime can end up being a pretty expensive time for families. Swimming lessons. Dance class. Sports camps. We only have a one year old, and I forked out $75 for swimming lessons. I don't regret it at all, but the point is this: summer can be expensive.

And here we are with only a month of summer left and the pocket books are perhaps a little stretched. But if you are still looking for some summer fun that can continue all year long, I have some great news for you. POGO Pass is offering 60% off to 2BF readers! Just go to this link, or input our discount code: 2BF60 at checkout.


Now what is POGO you ask? It is your pass to free fun in your area! Passes are regularly around $100 (varies by area) but with my 60% off code, you can get each pass for just $40! That might still seem a little high for large families, but let me break it down for you to show you just how much you get. And, passes are good for one year, so you have plenty of time to use them! You really can't beat $40 for a whole year of fun. Now, this is a breakdown for the Phoenix area, but if you are in Dallas, Austin, Tucson, or Las Vegas, the venues and values are similar. Find your location's breakdown HERE.

So in Phoenix, each pass gets you:

3 Arizona Rattlers Games: $10-20 per game. $30+ value.

1 Entry to Castles and Coasters: $25-$35 value

Multiple Entries to Arizona State sporting events: Prices vary

2 Arizona Diamondback games: approx $28 per game. $56 value.

2 visits to Makutu's Island: $6-$12 per visit. $12-$24 value.

1 Game/Week at Fat Cats Bowling: $3.50/game. $182 value.

1 Visit to Sunsplash: $22-$30 value.

2 Visits to the Phoenix Zoo: $14-$20 per visit. $28-$40 value.

3 Phoenix Mercury Games: $10-$20 per game. $30-$90 value.

4 Visits to Enchanted Island including All Day Ride Pass: $10-$17 per visit. $40-$68 value

2 Visits to Phoenix Rock Gym: $13 per visit. $26 value.

2 Visits to Stratum Laser Tag: $9 per game. $18 value.

2 Visits to Air Time Jump Center: $8-$13 per visit. $16-$26 value.

1 Visit/Month to Tempe Airsoft and Paintball: $23-$35 per visit. $276-$420 value.

2 Visits/Month to Skateland: $4-$5 per visit. $96-$120 value.

2 Visits to the Idea Museum: $8 per visit. $16 value.



Baby girl adored the idea museum!

But seriously. Can we please talk about what an amazing deal this is?? You could do one or two things on this list and still pay more than you would buying the POGO pass! And these aren't just random things that no one would want to do. They are really great places that all ages will enjoy. And if you aren't in the Phoenix area, there are great places in Las Vegas, Dallas, Tucson, and Austin as well.



So do yourself a favor. Head on over to the POGO website and get yourself some amazing family fun! And they are good for an entire year, so you will be able to spread out the summer fun through two summers! Use code 2BF60 at checkout to get an extra great deal!





Monday, July 11, 2016

Date Night Calendars

If you've been around these parts for awhile, you know that we love date night. It's basically my favorite time of the week. Sometimes we are pretty creative with our date nights and other times, not so much. But it always happens. We've learned that the key to a great date night is planning ahead a little. If it gets to be Friday morning and we are asking each other "what do you want to do for date night tonight?" we might revert to getting takeout and watching Netflix... Not terrible, but not the greatest of date nights. But with a little bit of planning, date night not only happens, it's a lot of fun.

So today, I'm sharing a few calendars with you all. There is something really satisfying about writing dates on a calendar. You know they are going to happen and they are going to be fun! I have a few different calendars for you based on your mood/personality. We really hope that they will help you to make date night happen and to come up with some new things that you have never tried before. If you need help getting the creative juices flowing, check out these posts HERE. 

{Date Night} Calendar
Use this calendar for a good reminder of your weekly date.



His Turn/Her Turn Date Night Calendar
Take turns planning date night with this fun calendar.



Blank Calendar
Use this if you don't want Date Night written across your Fridays. This one is more versatile, perhaps, but don't forget to plan date night into your week!



Colorful Blank Calendar
If you want some variety from month to month, try this one!





Now go on and plan some amazing dates! You don't have to go crazy and plan the whole year (unless that's your thing, then have at it), but try to plan at least a week in advance. I know you will see a big difference in not only the quantity but the quality of your dates!

Happy dating!





Wednesday, July 6, 2016

6 Tips for Taking A Baby to Universal Studios

Back in December when we went to Disneyland, I felt super prepared to experience it with a baby. I had read a billion blogs about how to rock your Disney trip with a baby. So when we were planning our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was certain that I would feel just as prepared. A few months before the trip, I took to Pinterest. I searched for tips for taking a baby to Universal Studios. Nothing. Seriously, nothing. So I turned to Google and searched there. A couple of discussion boards popped up, but they weren't very helpful. Mostly, everyone agreed that Universal is not a place for babies. Sigh. I was discouraged. I knew that I was taking Kymri regardless, so I just did everything I could to prepare and hoped for the best. And you know what? She did great!

So if you're like us and don't have much of an option on whether or not you're taking your baby to Universal Studios, or if you have older kids who would love it and just don't want to leave the baby behind when the rest of the family goes, these tips are for you!



1. Take Snacks
Universal is actually pretty picky about what food items they allow in the park. So sorry, a picnic lunch is not an option. But they do allow any and all baby food/snacks. We had fruit and veggie squeeze pouches, crackers, nutrigrain bars, milk, and juice. It's pretty amazing how food can distract a baby!

2. Bring a stroller that can easily fold.
The park is broken up between an upper lot and a lower lot. The two connect with a system of escalators. There is an elevator option for strollers or handicapped individuals, but then you have to wait quite awhile for a tram to come and take you the rest of the way. Save yourself the time and just fold up the stroller on the escalators. That's how we did it and we don't regret it. The escalators are a bit of an experience themselves anyways that you won't want to miss. The view is seriously gorgeous.


3. Take a break with the animal show.
I didn't plan on going to any shows. Babies aren't usually quiet in such situations. But after hearing about the animal show, we decided to choose some isle seats and risk it. So glad we did! Kymri loved watching the animals do different tricks and clap along with the crowd when they did something spectacular. It was nice to sit and rest for awhile and Kymri was able to enjoy something she had never seen before. There are a number of other shows in the park, but we knew that none of them would work for us. Just know your kid and what will work for you.


4. Take advantage of the most amazing rider swap ever.
I thought Disney had a good set up for rider swaps. If you're familiar with it, basically one parent waits with the baby and then gets a front of the line pass to return with one other person. At Universal, the basic idea is the same, but the set up is way better! Each ride has a rider swap area with toys or videos or something else for the kids to do while they wait. Kymri l.o.v.e.d it! It was so great to not just spend the 15 minutes pacing and trying desperately to keep my baby entertained. Each room was themed after the ride and had a different activity. It totally kept Kymri's attention the whole time. Kudos, Universal.

 Jurassic Park Rider Swap Waiting Room


Transformers Rider Swap Waiting Room

5. If you're nursing, be prepared for some discomfort. 
I was reeeeally glad that I had just weaned Kymri from nursing before we went to Universal. There would have been no.where. to nurse comfortably. Unlike Disney, there is not a baby station. The restrooms have changing tables, but that is just about all you will find. I read a blog post that told me there would be a baby's room, but that was apparently dated. When I asked a worker to point me in the direction of the baby's room so that I could change a messy diaper, I was told that they haven't had one of those for years. It wasn't the end of the world to change a diaper in the restroom. It just wasn't as nice. For nursing mothers, just be prepared to get a little creative.

6. Be willing to change your plans and skip some things (or take backup).
Let's be real. Kids are wonderful, but they don't exactly fit into a nice little mold all the time. We had to take things slow and follow Kymri's cues. She is a super easy going baby, so it wasn't so bad. But I saw others struggling with young children a bit more than we were. Our focus for the trip was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we did not feel like we had to miss anything at all. The rider swap was perfect and Kymri could do everything beyond the rides. She really enjoyed watching the street performers and going in to all of the shops. Now, having said that, the rest of the park is not quite as baby friendly. As much as Brad and I would have loved the backlot tour, it just wasn't a good idea for us. While there is technically no height restriction on the ride, I knew that it would get a little rough and Kymri wouldn't like it. I was also sure that the giant gorilla and dinosaurs would scare her quite a bit. And it's about a 45 min ride. So we didn't want to take turns and use up 2 hours of our day. So we skipped it. For us, that was totally fine. But some people go to Universal Studios specifically for the Studio Tour. If you're one of those people, consider going with someone who doesn't mind watching the baby for an hour. Maybe they can catch the animal show while you take the tour. In all, just be willing to be flexible.



Basically, don't be dissuaded from taking a baby to Universal Studios. While the park is definitely not geared towards babies and young children, it's not absolutely impossible to have a great time with kiddos in tow as some people might make you feel. Follow your gut, be as prepared as possible, and you really can have a great day at Universal Studios with your baby!

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