Las Vegas {30 Birthday Trip} – Part 2

See Part 1 here.

Our first full day in Vegas was spent eating lots of food, walking miles upon miles down the Strip and around The Venetian, and see the Backstreet Boys in concert. All in all, great day!

Our second, and last full day, was spent doing pretty much the same thing, except we ate at different places and saw a different show.

The Forum Shops: Shopping + Eats

After our massive breakfast at Hash House a gogo, we decided nothing could top that so we grabbed some pastries and coffee at a spot in our hotel and ate near the pool. It was July so it was H O T, but the no humidity thing was nice, and weird.


After we ate, we walked down the Strip to Caesar’s Palace to browse the massive Forum Shops. We walked around literally all day, and even though we didn’t buy anything, it was fun to experience all of the shops we don’t have near us. We stopped for lunch at Cheescake Factory because, well, we don’t have one near us and we love it. We decided on salads and to share one piece of cheesecake. It was nice to sit and relax.



After we ate, we stopped and watched this animatronics show inside the Forum Shops. We could barely hear what was being said — something about a fight over who was going to rule Atlantis and then Atlantis being buried under water — but it was cool. And there was FIRE. IMG_5251


After we ate, we walked around the shops some more and then headed back to The Venetian to rest up before our show that night. Dinner @ Trattoria Reggiano in the Venetian We didn’t have a dinner reservation that night, so we decided to try out this Italian place located in The Venetian called Trattoria Reggiano. It was delicious, but not quite as amazing as Yardbird.


I ordered bolognese, and David got margherita pizza. Yummy.

IMG_5265 Show: Michael Jackson One by Cirque Du Soleil @ Mandalay Bay After dinner, it was time to head to Mandalay Bay for a Cirque Du Soleil show. David got us tickets for Michael Jackson One.



Just one word for this: AMAZING.

I love Cirque Du Soleil but this one was probably my favorite of all of the shows I’ve seen by them. The dancing, the acrobatics, the entertainment value… incredible.

Note: Thankfully we were not in Vegas during the tragic shooting that occured at Mandalay Bay. Our hearts go out to the victims.

Breakfast at Canonita @ The Venetian

The Venetian

We had just one last morning in Vegas. We decided to try out Canonita, a yummy smelling Mexican restaurant inside The Venetian, for our last breakfast. The food was good, and the view was nice.

Last breakfast @ The Venetian

Last breakfast @ The Venetian IMG_5275

We spent the rest of our time walking around The Venetian before heading to the airport for home.

All in all, a great surprise birthday trip!

See more photos from our Las Vegas trip here


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Las Vegas {30th Birthday Trip} ~ Part 1

So yes, this is the year I turned 30. It’s still weird answering “30” when asked for my age. But, anyway…

My dear husband planned something big to celebrate this big milestone birthday. And I didn’t even know about it until we were at the airport ready to get on a plane. Yes, he’s that sneaky.

I thought I was accompanying David on a work trip. He has to take Continuing Legal Education classes for his license, and he told me he had to go to Bonita Springs for a conference. And I believed him — everything from the hotel we were staying at, to his office booking my airplane ticket, and all of the things in between. By the way, it was months – MONTHS – of me thinking I was going somewhere in south Florida for one of these conferences.

So, we get to the airport, and David says, “I have a confession. We’re not going to Bonita Springs.” Ummm… what? He proceeds to show me the tickets to Los Vegas, and the reason we are going … to see the BACKSTREET BOYS in concert. AHHHH. I looked like a fool crying and jumping up and down in the middle of the airport.

Needless to say, this was an epic surprise he pulled off. It was the first time going to Vegas for both us (an David’s first time traveling west of the Mississippi for David). And it was awesome!

Hotel: The Venetian

We stayed at the Venetian, and we could have spent all of our time in that one hotel. It was beautiful and full of shopping, eating, and swimming pools.

IMG_5149 IMG_5152


The Food

We don’t gamble, so we spent our time eating, shopping and seeing fantastically entertaining shows. But mostly eating.

Brunch at Hash House A Go Go

The first morning in Vegas, we went to Hash House a go go for brunch, which is in The Linq. It was packed, so we waited 20 or so minutes. But as people were coming out, they said, “it’s worth the wait.” And yes it was!

This restaurant was featured on Man vs. Food, and David ended up ordering the dish that was on the TV show: The Sage Fried Chicken

IMG_5169 I ordered a “house hash” with roasted Chicken, garlic, onions, asparagus and rosemar. It came with crispy potatoes & topped w/ 2 eggs, served with fruit and biscuit. IMG_5172

We didn’t need lunch that day. 🙂

Dinner at YardBird

IMG_5188 David did his homework and had a lot of things planned for us while we were in Vegas, including a reservation for Dinner at YardBird which is one of the restaurants in The Venetian. Apparently, in Vegas all of the food is enormous. We feasted on fried chicken, mac & cheese, cornbread and salad (not pictured). IMG_5196

This one was my favorite. The food was great, the design was cool, and the service was great.

Show: Backstreet Boys Larger Than Life

That night we had tickets to see the Backstreet Boys “Larger than Life” show, held at The Axis at Planet Hollywood.


It was a packed house as it was the last night of their residency. And the show was AMAZING. Even David said the production value was great. It was loud, there were tons of lights, lots of great dancing, and of course, many throwbacks to our favorite BSB songs and moments. They even shows some photos of the boys from back in the day, and how they progressed through the years.

All in all, a super fun show.


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{TWO Fabulous} Minnie Mouse 2nd Birthday Party

In the blink of an eye… Claire is TWO!

Claire loves Minnie Mouse, so we celebrated her second birthday with a small Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party at our house.

Can I eat one now?

Last year, for her fabulous flamingo first birthday party, we made most of the decorations. This year, I ordered the main things off of Etsy! It was so much less overwhelming, and came out super cute!

The “Happy Birthday” banner came from Etsy, although apparently the store I got it from no longer exists. I love that it has the Disney font, and the colors were perfect.


I also got Claire’s super cute, personalized shirt from Etsy. It came from a different store but matched perfectly with her banner and the cups (I didn’t get a good picture of those) that I ordered.

This party was so much fun to plan. Since we had it at our house (and Claire is only 2…) we wanted to keep it small and invited family and a couple of friends. But that didn’t stop me from having fun with the food!

Pinterest has a ton of great ideas for kids’ birthday parties (like I needed another reason to devote all my time to scrolling through pins), so I found a bunch of ideas and saved them to a Minnie Mouse birthday party board. The food was pretty simple, but it was a hit! {I got the designs for the food place cards off Etsy too!}

Donald's Donut Holes

Donald’s Donut Holes were devoured. I got up at 6:00 that Saturday morning to go to a local donut shop for those.

Goofy's Goldfish

Goofy’s Goldfish were almost all gone. Claire loves gold fish. I got the multi-colored version to make it extra special.

Daisy's Garden Veggies

Daisy’s Garden Veggies were delicious … it was just some carrots, celery, broccoli and cucumbers that I got fresh from Publix. With ranch dressing of course!

Figaro's Fancy Fruit

And Figaro’s Fancy Fruit added some more healthy bites to the spread.

Clubhouse Chicken Nuggets

Clubhouse Chicken Nuggets were clearly craved, as not one was left! The chicken nuggets and fruit came from Chick-fil-a (duh).

Mickey's Mac & Cheese

And, of course, we had to have Mickey’s Mac & Cheese, as that is Claire’s favorite food.

Tickle Me Pink Lemonade

We washed it all down with Tickle Me Pink punch. This was raspberry lemonade from Publix.

Oreos - aka Minnie ears

For those of us with a sweet tooth, we had some oreos. But the star of the show was…

Minnie's Amazing Cupcakes

Minnie’s Amazing Cupcakes! Baked by moi, but decorated with the help of a talented friend.

Claire and everyone had a great time swimming in the pool, eating the yummy food … and opening presents, of course!


Then, it was time to eat cupcakes!

This is fun!

All in all, a great birthday party for a great little girl.


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Claire’s Flamingo First Birthday Party

This year, Claire’s birthday fell on a Saturday, so we were able to have her party on her actual birthday. And since her birthday is in the middle of summer, we had a pool party!

I had a blast planning and hosting Claire’s Flamingo First Birthday Party. Yes, first birthday parties are more for the parents than the child, but I think she enjoyed herself, too. 🙂

Even though I had about anything related to babies when we had Claire, I knew that I wanted the theme of her first birthday party to be flamingo related. That’s because flamingos were my mom’s favorite things (she had SO.MANY. flamingo things) – and pink is a good color for a girl’s birthday party.


I spent many (too many?) hours on Pinterest searching for flamingo-related and first birthday-related ideas. You can see my first birthday board here.


I didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money, but I did want to have fun with it. All of the decorations were DIY, with the much-appreciated help of one of my very talented friends. We shopped at Hobby Lobby, Target and online for supplies, with a tropical pink and green color scheme.

This is when you first walk into our house. You can see the pink and green paper pom pons.


Here’s the mirror in our sitting room. I used a piece of string, some clothes pins with the numbers 1-2 and pictures to make this banner of Claire’s growth from when she was 1 month to 12 months.

12 months of Claire photos

This was our dining room table that served as the presents table.


And here’s a close up of the decorations…
pom poms and pinwheels We had a “c” banner for Claire! DSC_0672

Here’s a look at our pool area. I found the flamingo lights at Michael’s, and the piñata is from Hobby Lobby.

DSC_0673 We, of course, had to have a high chair tutu! high chair tutu

But here’s the show stopper! The kitchen table and nook that had the centerpiece of the decorations: The flamingo pull-apart cupcakes, smash cake and “fun to be one” banner!

it's fun to be one! Here’s a close-up of the flamingo pull-apart cupcakes. These were handmade and hand decorated. I even colored the frosting! Again, so thankful for my friend who helped me!

flamingo cupcake cake

And the giant cupcake “smash cake” that was also handmade and hand decorated.
giant cupcake for the little one


Originally, I wanted to make everything myself. But then I decided, a couple of days before the party, that I was going to order Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets. And boy was it worth it! I ordered a medium tray and they were GONE. I did make spinach artichoke dip, and mac and cheese cups. We also had fresh fruit and veggies. And pink lemonade served in pink polka dot cups with flamingo straws! How cute are those. DSC_0526

The Party Experience

The party was in the afternoon, and it began with food, mingling and swimming! Claire wasn’t so sure about all of the people at first, and she had to be held the entire time we were in the pool, but that’s OK!

Then, we got dressed and it was time to open presents! Claire got tired of waiting for us, so she “announced” herself by walking into the kitchen.
she's ready for presents!

She had fun playing with all of her toys. And her grandpa said we are “in trouble” because her reaction to her new dresses was VERY positive. She is a girly girl!


After presents, it was time for CAKE!


First, everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” and Claire just looked around at everyone — and seemed to enjoy the attention being on her.

singing "happy birthday"

She wasn’t sure what to do at first…

But once I put the frosting on her lips, she was in love! The girl has a serious sweet tooth. DSC_0604

Here she is going for it…


She had to break for some water… DSC_0618

Then she was ready for more!

DSC_0622 DSC_0649

The funny thing was, she never really got messy! She wasn’t a fan of having the frosting on her hands. She enjoyed the cake and licking the frosting.

After the cake, it was time for the party to end.


We had a great time, and I’m looking forward to planning more parties for Claire!

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12 Months!

Claire is officially one.year.old!

Sneak peak of Claire’s Flamingo First Birthday!


  • 21 pounds
  • 28 inches long
  • 4 teeth (two top and two bottom)
  • Words: mama, dada, baa (bath), daa (dog)

What an amazing, chaotic, stressful, joyful, love-filled, trying, quick and fantastic year it has been. Claire has added such joy and so much love in our lives. It so great to watch her grow and learn new things. And, she gets more beautiful by the day! 🙂

Fresh and clean


I mean, wow! Her hair has gotten a lot lighter. It was very dark when she was born, and now it looks reddish/blondish when the light hits it. It really is incredible how much babies grow + learn in their first year of life!

Claire + Charlie: Best Friends

Claire LOVES Charlie. She hasn’t quite learned how to pet him yet, but she loves to touch him and chase him. She laughs so much at him these days.

She has to be around him. She’s tried to crawl into his bed, and one of her favorite “toys” is his kennel. DSC_0477

One of Claire’s favorite things is to feed Charlie. Not his food; her food! It’s adorable.

More Faves

Claires loves to pull up and “cruise” on/around everything.
She enjoys playing with her spoons. Plastic spoons are life savers when we’re eating out. IMG_1911

And my purse – how she loves to go through my purse!
She still enjoys the pool, and being held in general 🙂 IMG_1918

OK, you wouldn’t know it from this picture, but she does love ice cream. This was the first time she had a bite of ice cream. It was at Chick-fil-a (of course!) and she resisted at first, and she didn’t love the cold bite. But when David finally got her to try some, she LOVED it. She is her mother’s daughter.

First vacation without Claire
David and I took our first vacation since Claire was born this past month, and we didn’t take her with us! We escaped for a 3-day Bahamas cruise, and David’s parents kept Claire. We’re so thankful for their willingness to help and their love for Claire!

One of the photos we received while we were on vacation. Happy + playing! 

We all survived, but we did check in frequently (when we had Internet/cellular data access).

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11 Months!

Wow! Claire is already 11 months old. That means the countdown to 1 is one!
11 months!


This month has been significant in terms of Claire’s development. I don’t know how much she weights or how long she is, but boy has she become fun and even more mobile!

Claire loves music, and her toys that play music. She started “dancing” which is adorable. She’ll wave her arms, and also bounce up and down when she’s standing.

She also learned how to say “no.” No idea where that came from, but it’s one of her favorite things!

OH. And she decided she’s ready to PUSH her walker! Of course, she pushes her walker into the wall or a piece of furniture.


Claire continues to eat 5 oz bottles 4 times per day. She also eats a smaller 2-3oz bottle before bed.

We’ve been giving her more pureed food — different brands and combinations. She does not like textured food. Any kind of chunkiness gets spit out. It’s hilarious! But she’s starting to enjoy foods other than fruit — veggies, pureed meats, etc.

She also started to feed herself food other than bottles. She used to do everything BUT put a piece of food in her mouth, but now she is slowly but surely starting to feed herself solids and chew and mash. By the way, baby cookies are GROSS.


Claire has been in the pool a couple more times. At times, she acts a little unsure about it, but as long as we are close (and she’s had a good nap), she enjoys the water.

We also went to a couple of David’s kickball games. She enjoyed being outside, although she didn’t really venture off of her blanket into the grass. But she loved going through my purse!

I went on a work trip for a few days right when she turned 10 months, but she did fine. She stayed with my grandma during the day and David took care of her at night.

OH. And she got to go on stage for the first time!
Recital 2016 - 11 months
Brite Starz had their 2016 recital on June 11, and she came out onto the stage with me at the end when they introduced the teachers. It was so much fun!


Next up: Claire’s 1st Birthday!

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10 months!

Bath night is the best!

Baby Claire is already 10 months old! Less than two months until she is one. And wow, is she moving and learning so fast nowadays.

I had to leave on a business trip on the day she turned 10 months, but thankfully I had a late-morning flight so I was able to spend the morning with her.

As you can see by the picture above (which David kindly sent to me while I was out in LA — so I got to show her off to my colleagues!!!), Claire LOVES her baths.

This past month we also decided that she also loves the pool! We put her in our pool for the first time, and she loved splashing around and kicking her legs.

pool baby

Speaking of kicking her legs, she also started riding in the grocery cart seat. And she (usually) really enjoys it — kicking her legs real fast and looking around as we stroll down the aisles.

first time in the grocery cart

Her legs are getting really strong — she’s able to stand up for a good amount of time now…


standing up

…and she’s even started to couch surf! Watch out world.

couch surfin'

We’re frequently greeted with her happy, smiling face as she stands up in her crib when we go in her room to get her up in the mornings.

Good morning!

Other things she enjoys doing these days include crawling over to her box of books and pulling all of them out and “reading” them…

little bookworm

…Playing with Charlie, including chasing him around the house, petting him and laughing at him…

a dog and his baby

Crawling into my office and pulling the picture of me and my grandfather off of my book shelf, and getting the phone and playing with it — pushing buttons and playing with the cord…

loves playing with the phone

She went to her first kickball game a couple of weeks ago. David is in a social kickball league so we got to enjoy the game (they lost but the weather was nice).

first kickball game

Claire got to meet some other babies and kids of David’s coworkers, and play in the grass on her blanket. But that’s when she discovered … mom’s purse!

lovin' mama's purse

The biggest thing from the past month, though, is that we celebrated our first Mother’s Day together! She “made” this for me at “school” the week of Mother’s Day, and I LOVED getting it. Her first “art” project!

Mother's Day Project

And we enjoyed church, dinner and spending time with David’s family.

first mother's day!

Now, let the planning for Claire’s first birthday party begin!

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