Splash Park (Alga Norte)

I've been looking for a safe, clean, and fun place to take Jo swimming. He loves the water and as much as I would love to hop in the pool and swim with him, Addie would never last. So if I do go to the pool or the beach I have to bring the hubby with to make sure he can swim with Jo while I splash with Addie on the sidelines. After looking around a bit, I found a few pools or parks that offer kiddie water areas, but this one is by far my favorite. It's called Alga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad. 

It boasts four water areas, a recreational pool for all ages, a lap pool, a hot tub for adults, and the splash park. We go for the splash park and it occupies and wears Jo out easily. I, on the other hand, can sit nearby in a shaded area with Addie and watch him run and play. There is a lot of room to set up for the day or just for a few hours and you can bring your own lunch and even chairs, but the center offers pool loungers, lunch tables, and plenty of shaded areas. They even have a concession stand if you don't feel like packing your lunch. Life vest are offered but if your child is
more comfortable in their own floatation device, it will be permitted as long as it is USCG approved. There is an admission fee, (for most accurate pricing click here), but it is no more than $5 for an adult. They also have spectator prices for adults who aren't swimming. I usually get in for the spectator price at $2 and Jo gets in for $3, Addie is of course, free. So for our family, we can go to a mini water park for about $10! It's an awesome way to get out of the house, get some sun, wear the kids out, and not break the bank- that's got my name written all over it! When the day is done and you're ready to get out of your wet clothes, they have a locker room for each sex where you can shower off and change. It's a great amenity. If  you are in the SoCal area or just looking for something fun to do for the day but don't feel like spending and arm and a leg, I would definitely suggest coming here. It is so much fun and its hassle free. 

The Aquatic Center is a part of the Alga Norte Community Park which boasts 32 Acres of sports fields, skate parks, picnic areas, dog park, and so much more. These parts of the park are free and are just as clean and safe. For more info on the park, click here

If I had known about this place sooner, I probably would have planned Jo's birthday here. It's about 30mins from my home in Oceanside, and a lot of our friends are coming from the area we used to live in, San Clemente/Dana Point, and it would be about an hour and half from them, so we opted for something closer. We did look into the birthday party packages and they are incredible! They have party packages for all ages and reasonable rates. All the packages include a covered/ shaded area with tables, chairs, and your choice of color coordinated table cloths and balloons. Each party also gets a personal POC for the day so you have someone at your beck and call. It's pretty awesome. I can't remember all of the different packages but some include inflatable bounce "houses" and slides, pool of balls, and then the splash park. We were looking into the splash park package and it was the cheapest package starting at $100 for 75mins of play and the aforemetioned details. 

Overall, it's an awesome place! We took our friend's kids there when were babysitting and they loved it as well! My favorite part? Every time I leave, the kids fall asleep as soon as I pull out of the parking lot. Summer and Motherhood just got a ton easier because of this place. Woo-Hoo!!! 

Biggest tip when coming here... bring your camera. The kids faces lighting up when playing in the water is priceless. Hope you enjoy the pics! Let me know if you're headed over there, we will meet ya! 

The water in all the pools and water features is heated. It's not super warm, but its not freezing cold.

Because there are so many places to swim and play here, it's never really too crowded. Plus, when you are at the splash park, the kids don't usually last more than two hours, so there is always people coming and going. 

The first day I came I packed my own lunch, but when we brought my friend's kids we bought from the concession stand and it was 'bleh.'  The food isn't anything grand, it's kid/ amusement park food- nachos, hotdogs, pizza, etc. I did pack my own healthy snacks and drinks though, so our food bill that day was only $25 for hotdogs and fries. The kids obviously loved it, but I cringe at the thought of feeding them junk. From now on, I think I'll just pack my own food to save money and our arteries.

Ok you get it, we had fun. So get off the computer and GO HERE! I'll say it again... clean, fun, and CHEAP! 

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies

In an attempt to rid my house of sugary and junk foods, I purposely didn't buy any cookies or treats on my last trip to the grocery store. This totally backfired one night when I NEEDED chocolate. I scavenged through the pantry and fridge only to come up empty handed. The struggle was so real that I resorted to the spice cabinet and found cinnamon and cocoa powder, and with the desperation to feed the beast within, I found myself on Pinterest, which led me to this...

These soft, chewy, warm, sweet (but not too sweet), and ever so satisfying Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies. Needless to say, these hit the spot! The fat girl inside me was so pleased that she ate three before offering any to her children or husband- she can be a greedy little devil, that girl. The recipe is not mine, and with further investigating I found it to be a Hershey's recipe. I didn't have Hershey's brand cocoa powder, I just used an off-brand, and my cookies still turned out amazing. Here are the deets:

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies


  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened 
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons plus 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. 
  2. Beat butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar; beat until blended. Add egg, baking soda, corn syrup and vanilla; beat well. 
  3. Stir together flour and cocoa; beat into butter mixture. If batter becomes too stiff, use wooden spoon to stir in remaining flour. Cover; refrigerate about 30 minutes, if necessary, until batter is firm enough to shape. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon; roll balls in mixture. Place balls 2-inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. 
  4. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set and tops are cracked. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack or slide parchment paper and cookies to wire rack. Cool completely; peel cookies from paper. Makes 40 cookies.

*Special thanks to my neighbor who picked me up some corn syrup while she was at the store! I didn't have any and without asking she snagged me a bottle. Without you the fat girl inside would still be wailing. 

Happy Fourth of July! (Plus OOTD)

Happy 4th of July!!! Even if the Continental Congress and Framers are rolling in their graves. Here's to what's left of capitalism and freedom, but mostly cheers and thanks to the men and women who fought and fight for it! Land of the free, because of the brave! I've always known our country needs prayer, but after working in politics I realized we need it now more than ever. There has been a lot of unorthodox and questionable action, and even inaction, from Congress and the Executive lately. Arguably speaking, they have compromised or infringed upon the very liberties they swore to uphold.  Proverbs 11:14 says, "where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." So, today I pray extra fervently that our nations leader will seek guidance from the ultimate counselor- God when governing our nation. Today I hope you can also take a moment and really contemplate freedom- what it means to you, what we've had to sacrifice for it, and how blessed we are because of it. Happy Independence Day y'all, be safe, have fun and be free!

We spent the day at a friends house for a laid back BBQ and pool day. Our friends are ones that we've made through the Marine Corps and they have a tiny little boy who I adore. He is about 3 months younger than Addie and his mom and I already pinning their wedding. He is pictured below, one look at him and you'll fall in love too. Shannon took Jo to see fireworks later on in the night and I stayed back with Addie and my future son-in-law and his mom. Overall it was just a chill day which is exactly what we needed. I somehow managed to not get any pictures of Jo, probably because he was running around everywhere.
This is one of Addie's outfits for the day. Nana Pat sent it all the way from Chicago. I believe it is all from Target. I absolutely adore the sandals! She kicked them off soon after I put them on her, but they are just too cute. The bow was custom made by a friend of mine. She makes all sorts of bows and they are to die for! They are reasonably priced and can be as extravagant or subdued as you'd like.  Stay tuned for a review on all the bows Addie has gotten from her, but until then you can check our her site at Bowtastic Bows
I did the best I could with my red, white, and blue attire, but I was just too hot and so unmotivated this year. I blame my lack of enthusiasm to dress myself on all my efforts being focused on the children's outfits. I managed to pull something together though: 
  • BOTTOM: Old floral shorts from Forever 21 (circa 2012), sorry I've had them so long I don't think they sell these exact ones anymore, but I have found similar ones for under $20 there 
  • TOP: Flowy crop top from Target it was only $12.99 
  • BRACELETS: Alex and Ani each bangle ranges from $25.00 and, my Ashley Bridget bracelet in Journey $48.00 . 
  • SLING: Sakura Bloom in Marine $88.00, my partial review for this can be found on my 'Summer 2014' post. 

Here is that little boy I was telling you about! Is he not the most squeezable, kissable, huggable, pinchable, little stud you've ever seen. He is almost 3 months and smiling like crazy! I like to look at the picture above and think he was pretending to sleep for the camera because no one can look this pensive sleeping!

Addie's last OOTD was a tankini from Target sent by Nana Pat in Chicago as well. It fit her perfect and although she didn't swim, she looked adorable next to her betrothed lounging by the pool. It was a gift, but to give you deets, the suit is $12.00 and ranges from sizes 6mo-4T, again sold at Target. Thank you again Nana Pat! You always send the cutest stuff. 

All in all it was a great day. Shannon did have some studying he had to do, which was a bummer, but that wasn't enough to damper all the blessings throughout our day. Thank you so much to our friends for hosting us and allowing my son to drool, spill, and who knows what else around your house. I really hope everyone else's holiday was just as great! 

Change of Command/ Hail and Farewell

Today was Shannon's Change of Command ceremony and our last Hail and Farewell Dinner with Delta Company. He will be moving on to a different unit at Camp Pendleton and the hugs and laughs shared tonight were definitely bittersweet. For the past three years our family has made friends with so many others at the School of Infantry and we will take those memories and friendships wherever the Marine Corps sends us. After two moves, two babies, and a lot of lessons learned, we are excited to start a new chapter and are so blessed that God is allowing us to stay local for this page turning. 

We are so proud of you Shannon! You work so hard to provide for our family. We know the Marines of Delta are losing a great Commander, but they have gained so much by being able to work with you. Hearing their praises of you tonight is no surprise to me. I know the man you are and I am so blessed to call you mine. 

Shrimp & Sausage with Vodka Sauce

Photo: Nailed it Shrimp and sausage pasta with vodka cream sauce. Recipe will be on blog soon. Link in profile. #wifegame
When all else fails, make pasta! Shrimp & Sausage pasta with Vodka Sauce tonight was a hit! Ok, ok, so I take a hit for not making the sauce from scratch, but I was desperate for a helping hand tonight. Regardless, it was awesome, here are the deets: 


  • 4 Uncooked Italian Sausages
  • 1/2 lb. Shrimp, de-shelled, tails on or off (I used 26-30/lb Market Pantry/ Target brand) 
  • Fettuccine Noodles
  • Fresh Basil (about 1/3cup)
  • 1 Jar Simply Balanced Organic Vodka Sauce (found at Target)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic 
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Make it happen: 

  1. In a large sauce pan, pour in the vodka sauce and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat to a low. 
  2. Over medium-high heat, warm some olive oil, in a separate pan. Cut sausages into 1 inch pieces, and brown them. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Once onion is clear, add contents of the pan into the vodka sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. Set pan aside for later use, don't wash it! Once the sauce has simmered for 10 mins, turn on low to let the sausage and sauce merry while cooking pasta and shrimp.
  3. Boil water and prepare fettuccine noodles according to directions on the packet. Don't forget to add Tsp of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked halfway through, take browning pan used earlier and add heat Tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Season your shrimp with salt and pepper and add to pan. Once pink, remove shrimp from heat immediately. 
  5. After shrimp is cooked, chop basil and reserve 1/4 of it to garnish on top.  
  6. Build your dish by mixing the fettuccine noodles, shrimp, sauce/sausage, and basil into a large serving bowl. 
  7. Mix well so that shrimp are covered in sauce and basil is incorporated. Garnish with more basil on top and eat your heart away. 
Serve with favorite wine or VODKA! :) 


Nothing is better than a yummy cupcake, expect a baby wearing a cupcake dress! Addie got this adorable outfit from some friends of ours and I just had to share. Our little cupcake is quite the looker! I could just eat her up! Her dad is quite the looker as well! We got a good looking bunch over here!

No Ice Cream, No Groceries- But We are Whole

Photo: We are whole! ❤️
We are whole. Big Sis is finally in town for Summer break. Our home becomes so much more lively with her around. Even the most frustrating situations become an afterthought when she is here... I loaded up all three kids into a hot car with a promise of ice cream upon good behavior at the grocery store and after countless efforts to start my car we headed back inside, defeated.

As soon as we get in the house Tatum has the idea to just pray really hard and God wills start the car. Oh how I love her so much. I hope her Philippians 4:13 mentality never fades. There are times when I wonder if I fail her as a mom because we are blended family and I miss so much when she is not here, but moments like today make me realize I am doing just fine.

Thank you God for a daughter who loves you, trust you and loves learning about you. I pray that she grows to be everything you want her to be. At this age I don't know if she truly understands everything you are, but after what she said today, I realize perhaps it is I who does not truly know you like she does.

Addison is 5 Months Old!

She's 5 Months Old! I can't say anymore because the water works will flow- just too big, too fast! A lot of people asked me about the outfit she is wearing, it was a hand-me-down from a friend, and the tags are unreadable at this point, so I don't have the deets on where to find it.  The bow? That's all me! I found the band part from a local dollar store and the flowers are from Michael's!

I love this age! She is filling out a lot and the clothes we have for her are really starting to fit well. Every time I am in Target or a clothing store, I can't help but gush over all the adorable baby girl clothes.  It's my husband's worse nightmare... not just one Mrs. Ashley shopping, but a Mrs. and a Miss Ashley shopping together! Dressing a little girl is way more fun the dressing a little boy. I definitely suggest finding you a little girl to dress up if you don't have one,  and if you can't find one, you can always borrow mine- granted we keep the clothes! :)

Blah- this was supposed to be about Addie being 5 Months! Give me a chance to talk about shopping and a tangent will ensue! The past 5 months have been the most tiring, and patience testing times in my life. Two littles under the age of two is crazy, but good crazy. At least I think it's good crazy, but that might be the crazy talking. Regardless, crazy or not, I love it and I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

Happy Father's Day

Photo: Happy Father's Day Shannon! You definitely did not pass your good looks on to our children because you still have them!!! We are so blessed to have your love, kindness, intelligence and humor. No one takes out the trash, pumps the gas, and eats the big piece of chicken like you. You are such a hard worker and we could never thank you enough for what you do. Today we will all walk around the house with no pants so you don't feel left out. Happy Father's Day!!!!
Happy Father's Day Shannon! You definitely did not pass your good looks on to our children because you still have them!!! We are so blessed to have your love, kindness, intelligence and humor. No one takes out the trash, pumps the gas, and eats the big piece of chicken like you. You are such a hard worker and we could never thank you enough for what you do. Today we will all walk around the house with no pants so you don't feel left out. Happy Father's Day!!!!

Bikini Business

So I got a few questions about the bikinis I wore from my last post. So here's the scoop:

This one is a Juicy Couture suit and I love it because the bottoms actually cover! As much as I would love to fit into an itsy bitsy bikini, I don't think I could, nor would it be appropriate, especially on base at the beach. I found this suit to give me the most coverage on the bottom without looking grandma-ish. They are made to fit like a booty/ boy short, and the rope lacing on the back gives it some fun detail. They are so comfortable! The top is just a typical triangle top but the laces are also the rope detail and an anchor hangs in the front to top off the nautical look. I got this suit at Marshall's and it was definitely a rare find. If you are bottom heavy or just want a little more coverage on the tush, I suggest going with a boy short look. 
Like the last bikini, I got this one from Marshall's. (I love me a deal!) This on is Kenneth Cole Reaction and I love this one for the top. This halter top offers some more coverage with the  ruffles and tie front. Again I need the coverage but don't want to look like an old lady. The bottoms are just a regular bikini bottom but the waist is fold down so it offers a thicker band for some extra coverage too. I like this one better than the Juicy Couture one because of the top coverage. I'm always afraid of falling out of my top and this one seemed to give me the most support out of the two. Plus the color makes me look tanner than the other one! :) 

All in all, they are both great bikinis, because I bought them at Marshall's I don't have product information but I'll do at little more digging and see if I can find it. Until then I would suggest browsing like stores, for bathing suits. They have some great finds for a fraction of the price! 

Summer 2014

Ok I finally have a minute to actually sit down and post pictures from Grammy's visit and some thing we've been up to. Summer is officially in full swing here in California and we've kicked it off with lots of time in the sand and sun. 
My friend introduced me to this sling called the Sakura Bloom and I am infatuated! It's a simple idea and its so comfortable. I have been through every sling and baby carrier out there, and so far, this one is my favorite for everyday use. It is made out of linen, so it is sturdy yet breathable. Addie loves that she can sit close to mommy but can still move her head to look around at what's going on. You can get the Sakura Bloom here. I highly recommend it if you are looking for an easy, lightweight baby carrier. 

One of my favorite things about Summer are the warm nights. Bonfires surrounded by great friends and family are the perfect way to end a Socal Summer night. Addie was mesmerized by the blazes. 

During the day it was all about fun in the sun. Jo loves digging and I love soaking up the rays. So happy Shannon was able to snag up a beach cottage on base for his mom again. Although he was working during the days, he was still able to come home at a decent hour to have dinner and enjoy the sunset over the water. 

Jo loved following Uncle Jared around. We are sure going to miss his company when he leaves. 


I really hope the whole Summer last like this. This is definitely a great way to kick it off. I can't wait to make more memories with my littles at the beach. We are so fortunate to be able to live so close to the ocean and I don't take them enough.