A dog’s life

If you know me, it’s no secret I love our corgi, Bruce. I’ve written about when we got Bruce in Virginia, our favorite dog products and ways to keep your living space clean with a dog. Since we got Bruce when he was just 6 weeks old, it was a lot of work house training, crate training, training not to chew, not to go in certain areas, etc but it’s definitely worth it and great preparation for kids, ha, ha! corgi bruce WISP broomcorgi bruce WISP broom

Bruce’s life consists of eating, sleeping a ton, hoping for us to throw his toys or give him bones, going on an evening walk and his favorite thing, ‘guarding’ the house – ha, ha! Corgi’s are small with a big bark and like to protect their home and family.

My favorite thing is how loyal dogs are and always want to cheer their owners up. Whenever we come home, it always makes us happy to be greeted by Bruce who is beyond excited to see us! Who wouldn’t want to come home and 100% of the time there is a cute dog eagerly waiting for them!?

Having a dog is also a great way to get in some exercise and move more! Dogs love to play and go on walks and we’ve loved our evening walks and occasional hikes with Bruce. They are great for our health and his health! I also love at night after the kids go to bed, Bruce will jump up on my lap while we relax for the night, usually by reading or catching up on our DVR or Netflix. He’s not only a great lap warmer in the winter but also very snuggly which I love! corgi bruce WISP broom

corgi bruce WISP broom

As I’ve mentioned before, corgis shed quite a bit, basically all year around! We love the FURminator deShedding Brush and now we have another awesome product that helps immensely with keeping our floors clean.. Like everyone, we’ve had a basic broom that does a mediocre job collecting crumbs, dirt, dust, pet hair, etc. Now enter the WISP broom. The broom head is angled and designed to collect and gather instead of sweep. It is great for cleaning under tables, cabinets, edges, etc. The bristles act more like a squeegee to trap the dust and debris. They are still soft and don’t scratch wood or tile floors.

Another thing I love is that the dustpan is designed to be used with your foot, which makes it much easier to put the debris into the dustpan. The dustpan also has ridges where you can scrape the bristles to remove any particles stuck in the bristles. It doesn’t take out 100% of the debris but definitely pulls out a lot and makes it easier to clean the broom bristles. Traditional broom bristles are much harder to clean unless you manually pull out the debris and hairs. With a dog and 2 little kids, the WISP broom is an awesome tool that doesn’t cost a hand and a leg (like the robotic vacuums I’ve previously posted about!) The classic WISP broom cost $29.95.

wisp broom pet hair

wisp broom pet hair

wisp broom brush pet hair

This post brought to you by WISP – thanks for helping us maintain a clean home! All opinions on this product review are obviously my own 🙂

Road Trip

This last week we took a long, long road trip up the 15 to Idaho Falls to visit my sister, Emily, for her daughter’s baptism. While I’ve driven the stretch between Utah and San Diego countless times, there was something new to see: the Seven Magic Mountains! It’s a temporary (free!) public art exhibit between Jean, Nevada and Las Vegas. I love rocks and these brightly colored rock stacks in the middle of nowhere were gorgeous!

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

We spent two days in Salt Lake City catching up with friends, Dave’s family, seeing Melinda’s adorable baby for the first time, and eating a ton of food at places we loved when we lived in Utah (like Royal India, Moochies, Originial House of Pancakes, Park Cafe). We stayed in an AirBnB in Holladay that was a good experience. I sometimes prefer an AirBnB over a hotel because you have more kitchen amenities and often more space. This trip we stayed in a fully furnished basement apartment and when we moved to Texas we ‘rented’ out a townhouse for 2 weeks while waiting to close on our house.

It was fun to be with my entire family for the weekend! Now that we’re kind of all spread out, it’s rare that we’re all together. I loved seeing Brent and Tessa play with their little cousins and the opportunity we had to tour the Idaho Falls temple which was recently renovated.

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

We felt like we were on the road driving most of the time and the kids were pretty good considering the 4 days of travel and Tessa missed her nap almost everyday. We drove to Salt Lake, stayed for 2 days, then drove to Idaho. On the way back, we drove from Idaho Falls to St. George and spend the night before finishing the last stretch of the drive back to Chino Hills. This was Tessa on the drive, ha, ha:

We tried to pack new snacks for the kids, like treats they usually don’t get. We also planned a few ‘surprises’ to give them during the trip, new small toys and boogie boards (LCD e-writers) that were a hit with them!

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

St. George temple grounds ^

 

Vintage American Fashion

This dress is a true vintage piece, it was my mom’s dress when she was younger! I loved that she saved it so I could wear it. It’s polyester and a unique color for my wardrobe. I tend to gravitate towards black, white and grays. I like the fit and rust color of this dress.

Tessa’s dress is also second hand and I loved the navy and rust color combination we happened to be wearing this past Sunday, It reminded me on an old American flag 😉

vintage american fashion rust dress jen holtkamp

vintage american fashion rust dress jen holtkamp

vintage american fashion rust dress jen holtkamp

vintage american fashion rust dress jen holtkamp

What to pack: favorite beach products

Since Brent isn’t in kindergarten yet and most kids are still in school, Wednesdays have become our beach days. We’re lucky to be able to take advantage of this time before the beaches get more crowded. Newport Beach is the easiest beach to get to from our house and the kids and I have been loving playing in the sand, wading and running in the waves and finding seashells.

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

We usually try to get there a little before 11 to beat most of the crowd and find close parking. We pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, snacks and water bottles in this insulated lunch tote and bring our towels and sand toys in mesh beach bags which are perfect for collecting all the sandy toys and quickly dunking the entire bag in the water to rinse off. Mesh bags are also nice since they don’t hold sand and are easy to clean.

One of my most favorite items is our over-sized beach blanket that comes with stakes and fold up into a pocket sized pouch. This blanket is awesome because it’s easy to clean, folds up super small, lightweight, is huge so we can all sit on it and is also soft so you still feel like you’re laying on the sand. It comes with 6 plastic stakes to hold it down from the wind. It’s quite perfect!  best beach blanket compact with stakes lightweight zomakebest beach blanket compact with stakes lightweight zomake

I also always carry a cell phone waterproof pouch. This is the same pouch I took on our river tubing trip in Texas and found out it’s really waterproof!

We usually only stay about 2-3 hours and feel very lucky to live within an hour of the beach.

My swimsuits and coverups are from DownEast Outfitters and Target, my flip flops are super old rainbows (my long time favorite brand), the kids’ suits and flip flops from Ross and Old Navy. Sand toys from Target or the dollar store. And of course, we always wear and pack sunscreen (lotion and spray)!

what to pack to the beachwhat to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach for families and kids

Take me out to the ballgame

Some of my favorite childhood memories came at the ballpark. Growing up a Padres fan wasn’t anything glorious since they’re not a super wealthy or winning team ha, ha but it was always very fun to go as a family, eat a hot dog, learn about the game, and watch talented players come (and go).

Since then, Dave and I have loved going to baseball games together. We made a goal to see a game at every MLB ballpark. So far we’ve been to 19 out of 30 ballparks! Luckily we were able to see a lot when we drove to the east coast in 2009 and again in 2010. When we lived in DC in 2009, we adopted the Washington Nationals as our team together. They were a fairly new team to the area (having moved and re-branded from Montreal in 2005). This was before they had many big name players so tickets were pretty cheap and we were able to see a lot of games.

We haven’t been to a new ballpark basically since that time but we have plans to go to Seattle and see a Mariners’ game this summer for our 11th anniversary!

Dave found the website where I got this shirt (below) and I love it because it’s soft cotton, has Bryce Harper on it, and isn’t super girly. I kind of hate sports team apparel that is pink or glittery just because it’s marketed towards women. Many times I’d much rather have the same design as a men’s store just in a women’s size and fit!

take me out to the ballgame outfit

take me out to the ballgame outfit

shirt from Level500 / Old Navy flannel / Converse a million years old 😉

 

Current thoughts on being a mother

Every phase of Brent and Tessa’s lives have been so fun. When they were newborns, they were cuddly, adorable, growing and just so cute even if we were all sleep deprived the first few months. I loved the newborn baby stage. I loved seeing them learn to communicate, crawl, walk, laugh, explore the world, show interest in certain things, etc.

I love their closeness in age (a few days short of 2 years), when they talk and play together and that they get to do new things together. I know I’ll miss these days when they’re not in school full time and we get to spend most all day together.

Brent started preschool when we lived in Texas and it was fun watching him make friends, learn his letters etc. His current preschool is more of a Pre-K and his learning has really skyrocketed in this last few months. He’s doing so great with letters, sounds, numbers, writing, spelling, sounding out words, and basic addition.

Both the kids are at the age when they’re starting sports. As sports lovers, this has been so awesome for me and Dave to watch them learn the basics of various sports and play! They are currently participating in pee wee sports ‘camps’ through the city of Chino Hills. Brent did soccer last session and just started basketball and Tessa just started soccer. The camp is just 6 Saturdays but it’s one of the highlights of my week to watch them learn new skills.

^ gorgeous backdrop for basketball ^ one thing I really love about Chino Hills are, the hills! There are lots of hiking trails and open areas left undeveloped. The park (also the same park I play soccer at) is at the top of a hill and it’s hard to beat the view!

What’s in my bag?

What I carry outside the house has change significantly since having kids. When the kids were newborns, I felt like I carried a ton of stuff (so many diapers, bottles, blankets, snacks, toys, etc). Now that the kids are more kids/toddlers versus babies, I carry less items but still love a backpack style bag to have 2 available hands. I used to use a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag I got from their outlet and currently use this Freebird Collection backpack.

What's in my bag toddlers

Here’s what I currently carry:

  • First aid kit (similar to this)
  • Snacks!
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer (travel size)
  • Advil (travel size)
  • Lip product (usually a Clinique chubby lip crayon)
  • Tissues
  • Wallet (with coins for parking meters!)
  • Hair ties
  • Flashlight (mini size)
  • Feminine products
  • Hydro Flask water bottle

With toddlers I’ve learned never to be without snacks! With newborns and babies, we always needed diapers, formula, burp cloths and extra onesies. Now, if the kids are tired or getting impatient, a snack is what they need! They like fruit snacks, mostly because they don’t get to eat them at home so it’s more of a special ‘treat’. I received this applesauce pouch sample and Tessa loved it. It’s a great on the go snack that isn’t messy and is easy to eat.

motts applesauce pouch review

motts applesauce pouch review

The Perfect Weekend

One of my earlier memories is when I was probably 3 or 4, around Tessa’s age, and we were at the beach with my family. I was collecting seashells all afternoon and had a full bag. Right before we were about to go home, we noticed one shell was actually a little hermit crab. It was gross to me and I remember being so sad (and probably cried) that I had to dump out the entire bag. This memory may not be 100% accurate because why we didn’t just take the crab out of the bag we’ll never know, ha, ha! Anyway, even though we don’t live super close to the beach we are excited to be living a lot closer than before!

newport beach

CA newport beach

This weekend Brent didn’t have any Saturday sports (the pee wee sports he’s been doing through the city rec center) so we decided to check out Newport Beach (which only took us about 40 minutes). It was a little chilly at first which was actually perfect because the beach seemed less crowded and we found a front row parking spot. I underestimated how much the kids would want to play in the cold water so we didn’t dress them in their swimsuits but we still had fun wading in the water, watching surfers, and building sand castles. Neither of the kids had any interest in collecting shells but were very into the waves. The weather turned out to be perfect and it was fun to see the kids’ excitement since the last time we were at a beach was when Tessa was 6 months old.

newport beach

newport beach

CA newport beach

After the beach, we went to Hop Doddy, which is a gourmet burger place that we had tried in Austin. If I had to compare it, it would be similar to Shake Shack in price and restaurant vibe but like 10x better than Shake Shack. I like Hop Doddy’s quality of meat, variety of burgers, the basic fries are very flavorful and they also have shakes which I’ve heard are delicious. Luckily for us, there are a few locations outside of Texas including  Southern California (the one we went to was in Tustin).

hop doddy classic burger

Because of all the rain this winter, the wildflowers are in full bloom and everything is more vibrant and lush than normal. It is gorgeous in Chino Hills with all the rolling hills and the highways lined with yellow and purple wildflowers. We wish every Saturday could be like this!

CA wildflower bloom

 

Favorite family activity: flashlight walks

One of our favorite things to do as a family is nightly walks. It’s great exercise and we’ve found a way that makes it enjoyable for the kids too.  When we first got married we would go on an evening walk usually on Sundays since it’s a more relaxing day and a nice way to start the week, talk and enjoy nature. When we lived in Virginia and I was pregnant with Brent we walked a ton since it was supposed to help induce healthy labor. Plus we also had Bruce and it was good exercise for him, and us. When Tessa was a newborn we continued to do our daily walks even though it was winter in Utah. It was fun to bundle up and get out of the house (we would push Tessa in her stroller that had a zipped winter cover).

When we lived in Texas, we still wanted to do our walk and since it was so hot, we usually wouldn’t go until the sun went down and we had the kids bring their mini flashlights which they absolutely love! It makes it fun for them especially if we’re going for a long walk and they’re in the stroller. We’ve still been doing our favorite family activity with the flashlights and it’s still great to stretch your legs at the end of the day, relax, breathe fresh air and talk together. If you’re looking for a way to walk more, get more exercise and feel refreshed, adopt our evening walk tradition! 🙂

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

favorite family activity evening flashlight walks

[mini flashlights from the dollar store, we love our BOB Sport Utility Duallie double jogging Stroller from my parents and I always wear my nerdy runner’s vest similar to this one with a blinking bike light in the safety vest pocket]

Bruce’s Best Pet Products (corgi edition)

Bruce has been part of out family now for 6 years! I still remember picking him up as a 6 week old puppy down on the farm in Virginia where his breeder lived. He was small enough to fit in a messenger bag. Dave grew up with a little dog and I always wanted one so Dave got Bruce as my birthday surprise!  I feel that owning a puppy and going through all the steps to train it is great preparation for becoming parents.  You learn to work together with your partner, house training, crate training, how to deal with different pet personalities, differences in ‘parenting’ styles, how to take care of an animal, scheduling (feeding, walking, etc) and the versatility you need as a parent when issues arrive with your pet like illness, chewing, social issues, etc. You go through a lot of trial and error with training pets, much of what happens when you are parents. Over the last six years, we’ve discovered some awesome dog products that are pretty essential to keeping the house clean and blatantly obvious that we have a dog.

bruces-best-pet-products welsh corgi

 

  1. FURminator – far and away my top pet item! This brush is designed to comb both the over and under coat of a dog. It’s pricier than regular brushes but 100 times more effective! Corgis shed quite a bit, especially during seasonal changes like winter to summer, and the furminator has been invaluable in reducing the amount of hairs that get shed in the house. It’s easy to use and doesn’t hurt the pet or cut the hairs. The metal brush pulls the hairs from both coats. We furminate Bruce maybe once a month depending on the season but corgis have so much fur, I feel like he could be furminated everyday sometimes! These brushes are sold for dogs and cats and different brushes depending on the size of your pet.
  2. Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover Spray – when house training a pet you’ll have accidents. This spray is great for eliminating odors and stains from carpet. We’ve found it to be very effective and have never had any stains on our carpets. It’s easy to use as well. After an accident (urine), soak up with a paper towel as much as you can, spray the Nature’s Miracle into the carpet and let it absorb. The carpet should be wet. Let the spray sit and absorb for approximately 20 minutes the blot it with a paper towel. The carpet won’t be completely dry and you can just let it air dry (no need for fans, etc).
  3. Lint Rollers in bulk (Scotch-Brite) – Lint rollers are pretty essential if you have a dog or cat breed that sheds. In addition to furminating Bruce and general cleaning the house, these lint rollers are great for couches, clothes, cars, blankets, etc. We like this brand because it does a good job  picking up stray hairs, is sold in bulk packages and the sheets are easy to tear.
  4. Harness Leash – for years we had a retractable leash because it was easy to use, hold and what we were used to since Bruce has a lot of energy when we go on walks. Our friend in Salt Lake, also a corgi owner, who used to dog sit Bruce suggested we get a harness leash so he doesn’t pull as much. Our current leash obviously isn’t as long as a retractable leash but he doesn’t pull at all when we leave the house to go on a walk.
  5. Food storage container – dog food can be pretty stinky and we love this container that we have to store his food. It has a lid that locks so prevent spilling if it ever tips and looks nice. The one we have isn’t specifically made for dog food (it’s basically a trash can with a locking lid).

corgi