Five Favorites Vol..

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Well the Starbuck house is full this week! While my parents take Marisa to college (Ave Maria University), the rest of my siblings are staying with us. We went from three kids to seven in a matter of hours! Peter and James love having their aunts and uncles at their house. We are so excited for Marisa and this wonderful adventure she is beginning but we are still going to miss her A LOT. Yesterday morning when I came to pick the kids up I brought over donuts. That’s how we deal with our feelings. We eat them.

While we are doing our best to stay busy, I thought I’d put together some of my favorites for this week.

1. Emily Ley


I discovered Emily Ley about a year ago. I absolutely love her products. So fresh, clean and simple. She designs them with the busy mom in mind which is perfect for me. The pages of her home base binder do everything from finances to meal planning. I’m really looking forward to her Simplified Life Planner (daily) which will be available soon! I also really like her evening journal, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” It is a great way to reflect on my day and basically do a giant brain dump. I sleep so much better if I’ve illegibly poured my heart and soul onto a piece of paper before bed.


About a month before we knew what we were having, my mom bought a few little girl things at a boutique in Scottsdale. It was a risk for sure but I felt really confident that it was girl. Now that we know, it’s just so fun seeing cute girl things and knowing that I can actually get them. Last pink tutu on the rack? 6-9 months? $6? Done. I was picking up bigger shorts for James when it dawned on me that I could actually venture to the “girl side” of the store. Aria totally scored a “Little Sister” onesie that day.

3. The Object Enthusiast SONY DSC SONY DSC

One day as I went down the rabbit hole of bloggers on Instagram, I found this little shop on Etsy called “The Object Enthusiast”. I was immediately drawn to all her work. The details were incredible and I couldn’t get enough of the gold. I ordered one ring plate as a gift and I needed it by a certain date. She assured me it would get there in time. Then a few days before the event, I noticed it still hadn’t shipped. I soon received a very apologetic message from the shop owner telling me she was overnighting it and that she was including a little something extra to make up for the delay. She included a second plate! So so sweet.

4. Arrow and Bark


Shocker. More headbands. I found Arrow and Bark a couple weeks back and was super excited about their pretty selection and great prices. These headbands are soft, snug and fit my big head. I can wear them with my hair down, up, in braid etc. I can’t seem to stress enough how amazing headbands (especially these nice wide ones) are on the “didn’t get to shower days”. So you can add this to my ever growing list of headband love.

5. Bridal Showersphoto 1 photo 2 photo 3

My sweet friend Danielle is getting married in just a few months! Over the weekend I attended her bridal shower (styled by Brianna Rose Photography). It was so lovely! The colors and decorations were just perfect. If ever there was a party to capture who Danielle is…this was it.

Ok. The noise level in my house has now tripled. Time for more coffee.

Dear Aria – ..




Dear Aria,

You must be getting so big because I have been so hungry! Things that I’ve realized you like….spicy food (specifically Cholula sauce) and peanut butter. Not together of course! But those are things that we must have constantly stocked in the house. 

We had another doctors appointment last week and everything is looking good! My baby bump is measuring right on target and your heart beat is strong. Next appointment is the glucose test. Yuck. But for you? I would do anything.

The mornings have started to cool down a bit. You love going for morning walks with your brothers. They just sit content in the stroller with their apple sauce and sippy cups  The walking always puts you to sleep. At the beginning you are moving like crazy but by the end I think you’ve settled down for a little nap. 

I also love how much you are moving now! Sometimes when I think I haven’t felt you in a little while, I will stop what I’m doing and just sit. You force me to slow down, enjoy the moment, play or read with your brothers, and just be still. I love that about you. 

Your brothers still have no idea what’s going on. I tell them that they are going to have a baby sister and they just smile and nod. I’m pretty sure Peter thinks I’ve named by belly button Aria. While James continues to use you as a drum, Peter has started “practicing” taking care of his baby doll. It’s really sweet.

We love you so much baby Aria. 



What I Wore Sunday: Dress//LuLaRoe, Scarf//Forever 21, Shoes//Gianni Bini


Dressing The Bump



Before I hit the ” I hate all my clothes nothing fits might as well just wear a trash bag” phase of pregnancy, I wanted to make sure I got in some bump style posts. Maternity clothes have come a very very long way and for that I am grateful. You no longer have to wear clothing big enough to double as a circus tent. You also no longer have to make your own (but if you do major props) and you don’t “have to” pay an arm and a leg for a dress. I mean you still can if you want. I’m just saying that there are lots of ways to get maternity clothes that fit your budget. You can also find clothes that are non maternity and make them work. Things that are high waisted and flowy are perfect maternity pieces. This pregnancy I’ve really tried to utilize my “regular” clothes for as long as possible. However, I am now to a point where it usually has to be a combination of the two. I anticipate that within the next month I will transition over to about 80% of my maternity clothes. Because you know. Babies grow and stuff.


Right now I am loving the nautical striped shirt w/ solid skirt trend. I would say something about how I’m squeezing in a few more summer outfits before fall hits but that would be a lie. In Arizona you can dress like summer through October, all the while pining away for cooler temps. Example? At the UofA campus you will find a plethora of young ladies in tiny summer dresses (um excuse me, did you buy that at Baby Gap?) and Ugg boots. This is a phenomenon I will never understand. So while I keep my tiny sundresses in my closet (fun fact, I actually don’t own any), I wear stuff like this.


I love draping my baby bump in a long maxi skirt. This should pretty much hold true through out my pregnancy, it just depends on the type of maxi.


Comfy v-neck, maxi skirt, red lips and a statement necklace. A pregnancy favorite for sure.

SONY DSC*T-shirt//Old Navy, Skirt//Brickyard Buffalo, Statement Necklace//Gift (similar), Lipstick//Bobbi Brown (Old Hollywood)

*Old Navy is having a sale on maternity tees!

5 Bobbi Brown Tips..




My makeup routine has alway been pretty minimal. I wasn’t even wearing mascara until college. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or had anything against it, I just didn’t feel like it was necessary. I was also convinced that I’d poke my eye out or something. As the years have gone by, I’ve gotten a little braver in my makeup selections but not by much. That’s why I was so excited to get my face all done up by a Bobbi Brown makeup artist!

A couple weekends ago, I went with my mom and sisters to our favorite makeup store Blue Mercury. They will occasionally have fun *free* events going on during the weekends. We stopped by because they had Bobbi Brown makeup artists giving tips for fall and personal consultation. The staff there is super friendly and they did their best to make you feel comfortable. They offered us water and mimosa’s. I pretty much made my mom take a mimosa “for me”. I mean if I couldn’t have one, someone had to!


My sisters were up first and then when they were done my mom and I hopped up on the chairs.



As I chatted with the makeup artist, these are the tips she gave for fall 2014.


1) Check your foundation! Especially as you come out of summer you need to make sure you have the right shade. As your natural summer glow begins to fade, you need to check and see if your foundation is a little too dark for your face. I hadn’t had my foundation checked since college when I’d stopped swimming. Turns out I was wearing two shades darker than I should be. No wonder I was so paranoid about having that “line” around my face…because I actually had one!

2) Blush and bronzer is not an “either or” situation. For this fall you want a warm cheek. So before applying your blush, lay down a little bit of bronzer, and then add your blush. Depending on your shade of pink, you may want to use a blending brush to get the two combined. I tried adding another tiny bit of bronzer on top of the blush and I was really happy with the result.

3) If you have crazy long eyelashes, curling them before applying mascara will help them from pointing in all directions. Now, I don’t have this problem but my sister Gabi has three layers of long lashes. She has stayed away from mascara because it always made them clump and point in weird directions. Now she curls them and the difference is amazing!

4) While the smoky eye is still in style, for this fall, a more subtle smokey is appropriate. My makeup artist pulled three eyeshadow colors, a light light pink, a dark (cognac) brown, and a champagne. She covered my entire lid with the super light pink, then used the dark drown on my crease, and finished up with the champagne color at the top. She said that this color combo is doable for everyday wear. Sometimes the smoky eye can be a little intimidating and intense. So for something a little softer but still with the warmth of fall, this is the way to go.

5) Finally, my favorite part…Lips! For this fall, she explained that a warm pink is the color. Last fall we saw a lot of red. This fall it will be cozy boots, soft scarves and a warm pink ( i.e. Tea Rose). Or if you live in Arizona… it will be flip flops, tee shirts, and a warm pink.


These are just “tips”. The fun thing with makeup is that there are really are no rules (like with fashion IMO). Wear what makes you feel good!

The final product and of course some baby bump pics.


Hope you find these tips and tricks helpful!

The. Chocolate. Sa..


Yes, you read correctly.

The chocolate sandwich.

While this is a product of my pregnancy brain (and stomach) I would eat this pregnant or not. One of my favorite pastries is the chocolate croissant. It is impossible for me to go to a bakery and not get one. Some have been mind blowing and some have been less than stellar but as long as it has chocolate, it’s very hard to complain. The other day I was craving one around 3:00 in the afternoon. I then realized I had a perfect opportunity to ruin my dinner with some experimenting in the kitchen. So while the boys were passed out for their nap, I tip toed around the kitchen gathering my ingredients.


Basically I made a grilled cheese sandwich but without the cheese… Instead of a slice of dairy goodness, I placed a layer of chocolate chips between two pieces of honey wheat bread. Then I cooked it just like I would a grilled cheese! I made another sandwich with chocolate AND strawberries. Then I realized that the combinations for this type of sandwich, errrr dessert are endless! You could do chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallow paste, nutella and fruit etc. Seriously so many ideas.

Peter woke up while I was working (he heard me open a bag of chocolate chips) but he opted out of trying my creation.


The finished product was not disappointing.


Both desserts (yeah let’s go with that) were delicious and I throughly ruined my appetite for dinner. While it was not a chocolate croissant, the buttery chocolatey goodness did the trick. If you decided to give this random concoction a try, let me know! I’d love to see what you use in yours!

Hopefully this helps with the Monday blues!

Five Favorites Vol..

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It’s a cloudy day, the boys are napping, I’ve got a cup of tea, and I’m snuggled under some extremely thin blankets (because it’s still like 100+ degrees outside). Hoping for a nice monsoon storm this afternoon but we shall see!

Before I jump into my Five Favorites I just wanted to thank everyone for their support of yesterday’s post. Motherhood is hard enough as it is and I don’t need negative attitudes in my life to make it even harder. So the positivity and sweetness many of you showed makes me very happy.

Ok so some quick Five Favorites!

1) Fresh Cosmetics

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Tried out Fresh’s tinted lip treatments and I have no regrets! It’s like the best chapstick in the world with a little bit of color. Plus it has spf 15 which is super helpful here in the desert. When I bought these two tubes of delightfulness, the lady threw in a sample of their under eye cream (thanks lady, I can take a hint) and I am loving it! It goes on so smooth and I actually thinks it helps with my dark circles.

2) Macaron’s

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Our local AJ’s bakery has started selling macrons! Not to be confused with “macaroons“. I made the mistake and now I understand the difference. I WISH I liked the super colorful ones but they’re fruity and I’m just a vanilla and chocolate girl. Pictured above is, chocolate, vanilla, rose with vanilla, and peanut butter and jelly. Oh yes.

3) Kate Spade

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So a Kate Spade store just opened up in Tucson. I’d say that it means “trouble” but I’d be lying. I can’t afford 99% of that stuff. However that 1% is this gorgeous little pencil case inspired by Jane Austen’s “Emma”. As a self proclaimed Austenite (as in I love Jane Austen, not the gamma phase iron), I had to have it.

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4) Eric Carle

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While wondering Anthropologie (picking out a present for my friend’s bridal shower) I found these amazing Eric Carle number flash cards. He was one of my favorite authors growing up and already Peter and James enjoy his books a lot. I mean James practically is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. As soon as we were home Peter wanted to open the box. So we did and then we laid out all the cards and looked at the different animals and the numbers. It was so wonderful to see Peter really absorbing what was on each card.

5) 26 Letters To Heaven

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For the past month I’ve been researching preschool curriculums to start with Peter. I’ve already found some amazing resources! Both Camp Patton and House Unseen had great things to say about 26 Letters to Heaven. So I went ahead and ordered it and I’m so excited to use it! Granted, there are many things in the book that Peter isn’t quite ready for but it is a great starting place for learning all his letters and their sounds. While I still have some materials in route, I’ve begun to draw up some VERY loose and relaxed lesson plans for Peter using this book. We will see how it goes! As soon as I start the school year with Peter I’ll make sure to keep you updated with what works and what doesn’t (for us at least)!

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Have a great rest of your day everyone!

You Don’t Ha..


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I remember shopping for an Easter dress with my mom when I was five years old. It was getting dark and the store was getting ready to close and my mom was getting frazzled. Add my (hyperactive) little brother, Thomas to the mix and you’ve got a party. The three of us crowded into a small dressing room and while my Mom wrestled my brother into a mini vest and bow tie, I was trying on flowery dresses. They were all really nice. I liked them all. But I didn’t love any one of them. My brother’s outfit was a “go” and my Mom gave me 10 seconds to pick a dress. I settled on a lavender dress with green trim and tried to convince myself that it was the perfect dress for me. As we rushed to the checkout counter. I saw it. There it was. A beautiful white dress with watercolor flowers on the skirt. It was puffy, sparkly and perfect. And there was only one. I stopped. My Mom stopped. Thomas didn’t stop. But that’s not the point of this story. I begged my Mom to let me try it on. She snatched it up and dragged us back into the changing room. The dress fit, Mom bought it and I couldn’t have been happier.

We got home exhausted (except for Thomas) but felt accomplished. My Mom took my beautiful new dress out of the bag and then we saw it. They had forgotten to take the security tag off of my dress. Easter was one day away and I had a lovely exploding ink packet attached to my dress. I started crying, my mom started crying, and Thomas started doing ninja moves on top of the couch. It wasn’t the end of the world but I wanted my perfect dress to be perfect and I’m sure my Mom was crying because that store was the last place she wanted to return to.

It all worked out in the end. I wore my pretty dress on Easter Sunday and I spent the day twirling until I threw up all of my Easter candy. Just kidding. I didn’t puke but I did spend a lot of time spinning and fluffing my dress every chance I got.

It meant the world to me.

The bottom line…The moral of the story…The point to the rambling…

I’ve always loved pretty things. Everything I blog about, I can trace back to my childhood. When I was four my Mom and Dad would find me in my room playing with markers, water, and sprinkles (DIY color water, duh). When I was seven one of my Christmas presents was a box of empty journals and I filled them all up within the next few years. For my First Communion I didn’t want a veil, I wanted a flower crown (which I had). Going to the grocery store with my Mom meant I got to add to my Smacker collection , because BIG surprise, I loved chap stick. I used to use my gel pens to draw various fashion designs. They were hideous but I LOVED doing it. I would cut out pictures of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and put them in my notebooks. I would stay up late watching old movies and dreaming of a time long before mine. Lisa Frank was my JAM and her vibrant school supplies were my favorite part of starting a new school year.

I don’t pull my blog content out of thin air. I chose to start a lifestyle/mommy blog because I wanted to write and share things regarding those topics. So even though I receive some nice emails concerning this blog, I’ll occasionally get a negative reader. I’ve been accused of being ignorant to what’s “really important in life” and that I’m “exploiting my family” just to gain readership.

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First of all, I know exactly what’s going on in our world. The news is rotten and makes me sick to my stomach but I read it anyway because I feel that I should know what’s going on. Yes, world hunger is important, the ebola virus is scary, and MANY innocent people are being slaughtered by ISIS. This is all true and I am very aware. My husband and I often stay up late discussing these things and praying for those who are so helpless. So just because I didn’t choose to start a blog in which I tackle tough world issues, does not mean that I don’t care, that I don’t understand, or that I’m ignorant to the issues. I have plenty of blogs in my blog roll that do cover intense topics.

I enjoy hosting parties, doing projects, dressing nicely and taking pictures. I’m not going to apologize for that. I love capturing these things in a photograph. I enjoy editing photos and adding filters when uploading to Instagram. It’s so much fun to stylize pictures as well. Do I usually have a baby on my hip and a toddler attached to my leg while I take those stylized pictures? You bet. Am I scrambling to push the mess out of the way? Oh yeah. Are my cropping skills amazing? Heck yes. Anyone who sees my photos will know that a mother of irish twins and one on the way is not lounging in a sparkly, clean home. You are smart enough to know that I have a mountain of laundry calling my name and a stack of dishes in my sink. But that’s why I take the photos I do and blog about what I blog about. Among the messiness that is motherhood and the chaos that is life, there is beauty. There is just something about having a pretty coffee mug in your hand instead of a sippy cup that is good for the mommy-soul. Even if it’s 11 a.m. and I’m still in my pajamas, at least I have that pretty headband that’s hiding my greasy hair. And even though the last thing I want to do is go to the grocery store, at least it gives me an excuse to try out my new shade of lipstick.

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I really enjoy blogging. However, I’m not going to be offended if you decide that this isn’t the blog for you. I promise I won’t be hurt. I’m going to keep blogging about similar topics and taking pretty pictures. If you are someone who likes to frequently read my blog then I thank you for your readership and support.

It means the world to me.

Dear Aria – ..


I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Here is another letter to my sweet Aria as well as a link up with Fine Linen and Purple. You can see last weeks letter here.


Dear Aria,

Lately your brothers have decided that my belly is a great place to practice the drums. Sorry about that. I try to explain that you’re in there and that they need to be gentle. Pretty sure they don’t believe me. But I tell them anyway. I tell them that around Christmas time they are going to get a baby sister! I tell them that you love them so much already and that you are so excited to play with them. They just give me a sweet little smile and continue to use the both of us like a drum.

Daddy is also very excited for you to get here. He can’t wait to have a little baby girl waiting for him when he comes home. I bought you some little headbands and he didn’t even mind. Mommy likes to spend Daddy’s money….

Sometimes when we are all together as a family, I will feel like someone is missing and I know that someone is you. Even though you are “with us” my mind is already listening for your cry and looking for you to come crawling around the corner.

You aren’t quite as active in the womb as your brothers but I’m sure that has time to change haha. I do love it when I feel your little kicks. I don’t even mind (for now) when you move up towards my ribs and decide to do some flip turns. Your little flutters are the highlight of my day.

I love you little baby. I can’t wait to see your rosy lips and your beautiful little eyes. I can’t wait to nurse you and catch your sweet little yawns next to my face. I can’t wait for you in my arms. 

~Love Mommy


WIWS: Dress//ModCloth, Shoes//Brickyard Buffalo, Sweater//Kohl’s (old)

Pregnancy Fitness


I remember during the weeks leading up to my wedding I thought I was gaining weight. I was convinced that my swimmer physique was quickly becoming depleted. Then the other day I was looking at wedding pictures and other pictures from that time and I burst out laughing. I was so skinny! What the heck was I thinking?! I couldn’t believe how warped my views were of my body. Then I realized something else…

Nothing has changed. I still see myself as “not good enough” and just downright fat. My body has been through so much within the past few years and I can’t even cut myself some slack. My body has made two little miracles (and is currently working on number three)! That’s amazing! My main focus is no longer training and racing in the pool. My new focus is my vocation and my children and it’s OK if I don’t look like I did in college.

With that said, now that my children are a top priority, I still want to be “in shape” to take care of them. I mean there is a certain amount of fitness that just naturally comes with being a mom, it’s just about finding the balance. I’m at peace with the fact that I will never be “wedding skinny” again but I also want to be healthy for my kids and look good for my husband.

With Peter and James I made some mistakes in my pregnancy. It was really hard to not fall into the whole “eating for two” mentality. Getting “cravings” is really exciting and you’re just like “What the heck, I’m pregnant! I’ll eat this large chocolate sundae, no big deal!” I gained a lot of weight with both pregnancies. It made for a longer/slower recovery and losing the weight was a battle. So this time around I didn’t want that. Realizing that I’ll have three under three was a bit of a wake-up call. I’ll need to be back on top of my game pretty quickly after baby Aria is born. I want this to be my healthiest pregnancy yet!

So the day after I found out I was pregnant I came up with a fitness plan.


I committed to working out every other day. Now knowing that “life happens” and sometimes the workout doesn’t happen. A lot of times “being pregnant” happens and I honestly don’t have the energy. But I told myself that if  I had the time and I was up for it, I’d do at least 20-30 minutes of exercise. So what have I been doing?

-Swimming as often as I can. If I could swim everyday I would but finding someone to watch the boys while I go can be tough. Swimming will always be my go to method of working out whether I’m pregnant or not (Helms is my maiden name).


-Walks! I love taking walks with the boys. My grandmother very generously bought us a double stroller and it is my favorite for long walks. Unfortunately, walks outside are on hold until the weather cools down a little. When it’s already 80 degrees at 7:00 a.m. that can be a bit discouraging.

-Workout DVD’s! I totally blew these off my first two pregnancies, however they have been HUGE for me this time around. I can do them while the boys or napping or even while they play. The Kathy Smith workout is from the early 90′s and it was the one my mom did for most of her pregnancies! She got it for me as a joke but I seriously love the aerobic section of this video. The Summer Sanders video is fantastic because she used to be a swimmer too! So the whole workout wakes up muscle groups I haven’t used in a while. I also love what Summer says in the video “This workout isn’t for weight loss. This is for a healthy baby and a healthy momma!” Amen sister! You can find both DVD’s on Amazon.


Now for a plot twist! If you read my Five Favorites on Wednesday then you read that I’ve been put on “pelvic rest”. The only exercise I’m allowed to do is walking and swimming. I was in mourning for like two days. I didn’t do any kind of exercise. Part of me wanted to just throw my hands in the air and just say WHATEVER I just won’t workout anymore. But then after two days of feeling totally disgusting I decided that I just couldn’t do that. I’ll go swim when I can and I’ll do my best to find cool places to get walks in.

Which brings me to yesterday. In the morning I loaded up the boys in the car and we headed to the Tucson Mall to get a walk in. First things first, we got to the mall and grabbed coffee and cake pops. I had to make sure Peter had something to occupy himself other than sticking his fingers in James’ nose and ears.

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Aria wanted one too.

Then we headed up the elevator to the second floor to walk some laps.

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Now we go to the second floor to avoid all the “cart” people. You KNOW who I’m talking about. “Excuse me would you like to try this lotion made with the tears of unicorns?” No. No, thank you. One time when I was pregnant with Peter someone tried to stop me and I told them my water just broke. The look on that guy’s face was priceless.

After 30 minutes of fast walking and funny looks, we headed back down to the play area so the kids could stretch their legs.

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I fondly like to call the mall play area “germ city” and I find it completely ironic that the things they get to climb on are stuff you find at the doctors. BUT anyway…. They boys totally deserved to stretch their legs and use up some energy after being strapped into the stroller for so long.

So my fitness routine as had to change a little bit but that’s OK. I’ve worked too hard to make sure this is a healthy pregnancy to just throw in the towel now.