hyatt ziva cancún!

By Emily.

Oh, Mexico! Are you singing James Taylor yet? Last week (if you follow us on Instagram – @smallfryblog – you know I was the lucky Fry that got to attend the Grand Opening for Hyatt’s newest family-friendly all-inclusive resort in Cancún, Mexico! Hyatt Ziva CancúnIt opened just in November and the Hyatt Ziva Cancún stole our hearts in a major way. It was in the perfect mid-eighties, partly cloudy (not too hot!) and gorgeous. IMG_4187Here’s some of the highlights of our stay! Lots of pics, so catch them all, the wardrobe links and more, after the jump! Hyatt Ziva Cancún

 

If you’re looking for one amazing family get-away at one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hyatt Ziva Cancun is it. We will definitely be back and we’ll be bringing family and friends next time, too. Such a perfect spot for a reunion. They’re offering 50% off +5th night free deal when you book before January 31st! Check it out here! Read more

Star Wars Partay!

By Jenna:

Okay so I am *technically* retired from throwing birthday parties but this year with Quinn & Lolly’s 7th and 1st Birthday falling within days of each other I could not resist throwing them a joint party. It ended up being more of a shindig for Quinn any how since all you need for a 1 year old birthday is cake right?? So I worked on making Quinn’s request of a Star Wars party something that wasn’t obnoxious.Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 10.45.54 AM(Sorry about the quality I only took iPhone pics that day #toomanykids)717q6REV2LL._SL1500_

Quinn woke up to this set up and it thrilled him! I think we think we have to do all.the.star.wars.things. But simple really is more beautiful in my opinion! I did a Star Wars quote on our Letterfolk Board, gold elements (Happy Birthday banner is Meri Meri, while I bought it at a boutique, you can buy letters individually and make your own online here!) and of course a Darth Vader balloon for drama. He was thrilled. Also most of this stuff I already owned. I love finding new ways to incorporate decor I already have — placing pictures of him on a mantle and the initials from his room made him feel extra special. Not rocket science – just rearranging of items.cake

Probably my favorite thing about his special day was his cake. I had a friend make him a Chocolate Mousse cake with Black/Grey Ombre frosting and then another good friend make his cake topper! She has a 3D print store that does cake toppers and they’re incredible. Look at Lolly’s cake, too! I died.

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A couple other things I LOVE to use when throwing a party that make my life so much easier is Caravan Shoppe and Seedling. Caravan offers printables for so cheap that you can print out at a local print shop. This color your own place mat along with these darling Pirate Peg Dolls had nothing to do with Star Wars but are festive all the same! Also they kept kids busy while I was setting up food and other activities.

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Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 11.01.00 AMOne of my favorite parts of the night (and I didn’t get many pics, ugh) was when we hit a Darth Vader Piñata with a Light Saber! 71CrkU39GVL._SL1500_The one we got was super sturdy and withstood the piñata smacking and is still working to this day! The kids LOVED this and obviously made a gigantic mess 😉Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 11.01.13 AMThe point is you can throw a themed party and not have it be super tacky. I mean I know I wrote down some where at some point in my life that I would NEVER throw a themed party or let my kids wear themed clothes, but here I am!!

What’s fun is there are a lot of stores doing super great Star Wars stuff I don’t mind my kids using or wearing. I’ve rounded up some of our favorites below!!!  And of course, may the Force be with you 😉starwars

Star Wars Glow in the Dark Shirt // Darth Vader Backpack // Boys Vader Stance Socks // Patterned Twill Pants // Printed Hood Sweatshirt // Star Wars Cap // Storm Trooper Shirt // Darth Vader Water Bottle // Star Wars Cookies

Taking it With Me: Jenna

Next up on our mini 2015 recap Fryday series is Jenna! Things acquired and learned in 2015 that she’ll be taking into this new year.jfry

For my face: Okay the secret’s out and here is what changed my skin this year. It’s two fold 1. Rodan and Fields and 2. Hydrofacials from Spa Trouve. Okay wait third thing, Microdermabrasion. Contact my girl Kylie inspiredbyky@gmail.com and tell her I sent you – she can help hook you up with the same schedule I use. Also, call Spa Trouve if you’re a Utah local and get a hydro facial…IT’S LIFE CHANGING!

For my health: This year was a year of changes for me as we welcomed our third baby in to the family. Until you’ve had three kids I don’t know that you quite understand the adjustment it can be – at least I didn’t. So while I haven’t had the time I’d like to work out, eating well is still a huge priority for me. Additionally the he best thing I’ve ever done for my health is of course essential oils. I’ve taken these from year to year and there isn’t any stopping me now – they are truly life changing for our family.
For my body: Dry Brushing! I know it sounds wack a doodle but I’ve LOVED it. Here is the one I use. When you dry brush it drains the lymphatic system and is so good for skin health and kidneys!
For my  home:  I’ve loved finding new ways to make our rental home cozy. It may be “temporary” but doesn’t feel that way at all. We’ve been here over a year and I love that it feels like home. My new rug, bedpicnic table and Letter Folk board are some of my favorite purchases this year.
For my well-being: This has been a year of discovering how I can have mental well-being, silence and joy all in the amidst of a chaotic life. It may sound silly but an evening bath has been so much a part of the serenity I’ve found. I’m obsessed with the Zoe Organics Bath Soak and this waterproof speaker. I hook up podcasts from Brene Brown, my church leaders and Ted Talks and soak. I meditate, I pray and I have a minute to myself. It really has been an enriching thing to do for myself every day if I can.
For my kids: My kids have been SO in to this weather we have here in Southern California. It’s been so fun to be able to scoot and bike ride any time of the year.
Lesson Learned: 2015 was a year of independence and growth for me. I learned how TRULY capable and strong I am. With no family close by we did it all on our own and met friends a long the way who loved us and supported us. I learned that my critics don’t count and that I am brave enough to do anything. In 2016 I hope to better hone the craft of saying no. To set boundaries for myself and keep them, without feeling guilty.
Letting go of: Saying Sorry. I’m sorry about everything. I’m sorry I didn’t shower, I’m sorry I was late, I’m sorry I’m sorry. ALWAYS SORRY. Saving my sorries for the stuff that matters and giving myself grace to stop apologizing all the time.

Moms You Should Meet: Oryana

This post is in partnership with Uber. Sign up here to become their newest driver, where you can earn extra money driving, on your schedule.

By Emily.

I talked with Chicago-based Oryana on the phone and within minutes the purpose of this post changed. I was inspired, I got the chills, and I even teared up at one point, not at all what I expected when we were planning this post. So much of Oryana’s story resonated with us, whether it be Nicole making it work as a single mom, or Jenna being far away from her family, or myself. If I listed how many different jobs I’ve tried or number of times I switched my major, you’d see we all (and maybe you as well!) have a little Oryana in us.c21WebOriginally, we wanted to share with you readers how working for Uber has become an amazing flexible income for so many mothers just like us, just like Oryana. We get asked all the time how to work for yourself and make a good living. But that purpose instantly became secondary once we started talking to Oryana. Here’s some backstory…Hayley Anderson PhotographyOryana is an analytical thinker. On top of that when she makes up her mind to do something, then that is that. At 17 years old she had decided after seeing others experience it, that getting pregnant was no reason to marry someone. If she herself were to find herself in that situation, other alternatives just didn’t work for her. She would be a single mother. So when this simple session of daydreaming  became a reality 12 years later, she didn’t have much thinking to do. She knew and that was that.Amelia Lyon

In between the ages 17 and 29 Oryana went to college in Chicago and studied theater. She acted on stage and onscreen and worked hard as a waitress to make ends meet. She went to hair school and worked as a stylist. She moved to New York, she always worked hard. Then, Amelia.

When Amelia was born of course everything changed. With her family spread out around the country, her friends were everything. But as so many of us know when you have a child, interacting with people who don’t “get it” becomes tricky. As Oryana said, from the very start until the day I spoke to her, that it’s just been the two of them.Natalie NortonThen, Oryana decided to finish her degree in theater. With only three semesters left she didn’t see why not, and thought that having a degree as a single parent would help her get better employment. 10+ years older than every other graduate she was also the only one who sobbed as she crossed the stage to receive her diploma. She never knew how much it meant to her until she had it in her hands.Hayley Anderson Phtoography // Sand DunesWith a degree in hand, and small child in her care, employment didn’t come any easier for her. She struggled to make ends meet. Her next venture would be into the world of realty. She got her license and started working with a brokerage firm. She was getting around from showing to showing solely on public transportation. That was when she knew she needed a car. Enter Uber. At that time they were financing their employees car lease and purchases and it was truly the only way she could make it happen. She began driving for Uber and still does. She logs in when she has a couple hours to spare. If she needs to take her daughter to guitar lessons (which is where they were headed when our call began) she logs off. She makes her own hours, doesn’t have to ask anyone for time off or vacation. She doesn’t have to make excuses or feel guilty when Amelia is sick and needs her or if she has a busy day showing apartments. She loves driving for Uber Eat because it’s a condensed and busy couple hours during lunch or dinner.Amelia LyonOryana said during our call that she decided from the beginning that she would never miss out on an opportunity sent her way because her mom was a single parent. Oryana has the drive and motivation, Uber gave her the freedom and mobility to pursue whatever dream she might have.Natalie NortonSo you see now why this experience caught me off guard! Oryana could’ve focused on the struggle, because the struggle is certainly real and her life has never been easy, but she never did. This hard-working, single parent, funny, strong, ambitious, woman is Oryana, and she’s definitely a mom you should meet.

If driving for Uber sounds up your alley you can check out more here!

Note: We certainly wish we could’ve met with Oryana over lunch in Chicago and gotten some pictures of her there, but hopefully some of our latest family photos will due as eye candy for this essay. Thanks again, Oryana, we’re huge fans!! Nicole’s photos by Natalie Norton // Emily’s by Hayley Kaze // Jenna’s by Amelia Lyon

candy free valentine’s cards

Since we always find ourselves scrambling for a Valentine’s day card for our kids, we’re getting ahead of the game this year! We’ll be sharing our own DIYs throughout the rest of the month, but we had to share these amazing printables from around the web! Our kids love getting trinkets and toys as much if not more than the candy so here’s a head start with ideas we love! Even better, nearly all include a free printable to make your life extra simple!

Candy Free Valentine's

  1. We love this DIY idea for cards and decor! Tape on a festive trinket of your choice and call it good. Clean, simple and modern never hurt anyone! Via Style Me PrettyValentine's Ideas
  2. Another graphic option, just add a dollar store plastic animal! Via Sara M Style
  3. Dandee Designs kills it in this genre. Who hasn’t seen her darling love bug printable all over Pinterest? We also love this Magnifying glass printable.Valentine's Ideas
  4. You know how we love our Mer Mag. Another awesome just-add-a-toy option, if you can find candy cute enough to deserve such a card. Valentine's Ideas
  5. What kid doesn’t love glow sticks? Via Delia Creates
  6. Oh Happy Day has a whole series of this genre, each is darling!Valetine's Day Ideas
  7. Another Dandee homerun! Awesome option for a boy. Astronaut printable here.
  8. We love this idea and could easily be swapped out for regular sunglasses for a boy. Dollar store here we come! (Hey hey Studio DIY!)
  9. You know your kid’s teacher will be cursing you for this one, but you also know your kid’s Valentine will be the hit of the school! Via Paging Supermom

A few more we can’t get enough of from Merrythought: First this Tic Tac Toe XO game. Send your kid into the yard to collect some rocks or grab a bag at a craft store.Valentine's Day Ideaand this Mini Bow and ArrowMini Bow and Arrow

Catch all our Valentine’s Archives here!