workspace wednesday | staying sane while being a work at home mama.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Staying Sane While Being a Work at Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

Being a mom is hard work. It’s incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be incredibly draining as well. Add working from home on top of caring for a baby and whoa, things just got a little trickier. Here are some tips for staying sane that I’ve learned over the past seven + a half months:

Ask for help. For so long, I resisted asking for help from others. I had this terribly backwards mindset that if I asked for help, it meant that I was admitting weakness. Ha! Well, the joke was on me. Ever since we moved closer to family and friends, I’ve been taking others up on their offers to watch Briar and in turn, have not only felt better about my workload, but about my mental state as well. I also think the stimulation Briar gets from other people and other environments is good for her! After all, I’m sure she’s tired of seeing my face 24/7. I’m not ashamed to admit that I need my tribe.

Combine efforts (but not too much). There’s a certain glorification to being able to do ten things at once…and I don’t buy into it. That being said, there are certain ways to “combine efforts” (if you will) in order to make myself and Briar happy at the same time. For example, I’ve learned to answer emails while pumping. Listen to inspiring podcasts while taking the baby for a walk. Wear Briar in the Ergo or the Boba wrap while shooting photos. And when necessary, nap when the baby naps (and eat when the baby eats, and do laundry when the baby does laundry ;)).

Capitalize on nap time. From about five and a half months on, Briar has been taking consistent daily naps. Each day is a little different; sometimes she takes one nap, sometimes she takes three. But no matter the quantity, the girl is finally napping for at least an hour every single day. After so many months of infrequent power naps and no semblance of a schedule, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself when she started napping everyday! Initially, I kept anticipating that she would wake up after twenty minutes and we would be back at square one (feeding, entertaining, not getting work done). But now I’m beginning to really capitalize on that time to myself and use it for good.

Work out. Whether I make it to the gym or I simply take Briar for a brisk walk around the neighborhood, being active is still one of my favorite ways to burn off stress and get refocused. It’s all too easy to put off exercise when there are e-mails to be written, dishes to be washed, and toys to be picked up. But to me, exercise is a non-negotiable. I need that release or else…bad news bears (just ask my husband).

Let it go. There are many things I will not accomplish at this stage of life. I may never fully tackle my inbox. I may forget about projects and deadlines. I may go a week without blogging. I may make stupid mistakes that I wouldn’t have made pre-baby. I may not be making as much money as I possibly could. I may never strike a balance between working and raising a baby at the same time. I’m slowly learning to give myself grace and accept the fact that I am doing the best than I can do at this stage of life.

Whether you work from home or you leave the house everyday, how do you stay sane?

briar at seven months.

Posted on: Monday, March 23, 2015

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

I realize I am beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record here, but seriously, seven months is where it’s at.

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

When I was newly pregnant and begging and pleading with the universe to pretty please provide me with a girl, I had a vision of what my daughter would be like. Well, I’m happy to report that Briar has far exceeded all of those expectations. She’s just…my dream girl. She’s smart. She’s happy. She’s fearless. She’s beautiful. And she’s making my job as her mom so incredibly easy and fulfilling that I can’t help but wonder what I did to deserve such a wonderful little girl.

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Despite the fact that she still wakes up one to two times a night, she has turned into an excellent napper…a far cry from the first month or two when she was awake all day, everyday! Being able to count on her sleeping for at least an hour during the day (and sometimes up to three hours!) has done wonders for my work flow. She also now goes to bed around 10pm, which is a nice departure from those late, late nights-turned-early-mornings back in the beginning. I will admit that although I was hesitant to move her into her own room, it was the best thing I did for her and for me and John. Two months in and we all sleep better being in our own spaces.

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar had her first taste of solid foods at four months, and ever since then, she has tried all kinds of fruits + veggies! She is particularly fond of blueberries, but really, she has enjoyed everything (despite her facial expressions telling a very different story! Ha!). She’s also still nursing regularly throughout the day (and night), which works great for the both of us. My goal is to nurse her to one year, but of course, I’m willing to go shorter or (a little bit) longer, depending upon what she wants to do. If there’s one piece of wisdom I’ve learned over the past seven months, it’s to let Briar lead. She knows what she needs and it’s my job to follow her down that path.

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar is officially a girl on the go. She seldom stays in a single spot for too long, thanks to her never-ending rolling and army crawling. Watching her discover her world is such a thrill for me…I had no idea that the smallest things could be so rewarding! Of course, this means that I can’t take my eyes off of her for too long as she is an expert at turning seemingly innocuous situations into high danger! Ha! She is also the proud owner of two bottom teeth, a full head of curly blonde hair, and chubby little limbs. I mean, I can’t even handle the cuteness.

Briar at Seven Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Whenever I feel pangs for my tiny little newborn Briar, I can’t help but think that whatever current stage we are in is so much more fulfilling than those first few weeks that we spent getting acquainted. She’s a real person now, with skills and opinions and preferences all her own.

I couldn’t be more in love with my seven month old sunshine girl.

chia seed bowl.

Posted on: Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chia Seed Bowl | Ann-Marie Loves

As a major breakfast food aficionado, I am always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to start my day. Thanks to this video via Instyle, I recently discovered the magic of chia seed bowls! Not only are they insanely nutritious, but they take less than five minutes to put together…win-win! I also love that I can prepare a bowl the night before so my hectic mornings are simplified. Here’s how I make mine:

Chia Seed Bowl | Ann-Marie Loves

Gather chia seeds (I get mine at Trader Joe’s), milk (any kind), pomegranate seeds, almonds, raisins, hemp seeds, and banana slices.

Chia Seed Bowl | Ann-Marie Loves

Combine one part chia seeds (I usually do 1/3 cup) with two parts milk and stir until evenly mixed.

Chia Seed Bowl | Ann-Marie Loves

Leave the bowl in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours until the milk has been absorbed and the consistency is thick. (The seeds will end up looking gray if you use cow’s milk.)

Chia Seed Bowl | Ann-Marie Loves

Once the chia seeds + milk are ready to pull out of the fridge, add in the toppings and enjoy!

P.S. My oatmeal routine and my daily coffee!

first time for everything.

Posted on: Monday, March 16, 2015

First Time for Everything | Ann-Marie Loves
First Time for Everything | Ann-Marie Loves
First Time for Everything | Ann-Marie Loves
First Time for Everything | Ann-Marie Loves

There are the big milestones in every baby’s life…first time rolling over, first tooth, first word…and then there are the smaller but equally as exciting milestones. This past weekend Briar was able to experience the latter: she encountered sand at the beach for the first time! And in true carefree Briar fashion, she totally loved it (the loud crashing waves, however? not so much ;)). Seeing the world through her eyes is so rewarding! Everyday is a cause for celebration around here.

why i love babywearing.

Posted on: Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Love Babywearing | Ann-Marie Loves

Babywearing has been a total joy for me and Briar. I think I always knew it would be a handy, but I didn’t realize just how much I would love it.

When Briar was a tiny thing, I used my Boba wrap to keep her securely snuggled next to me. Not only did the wrap make it easy for me to get things done while holding her, it also facilitated plenty of skin-to-skin time…so amazing! Then, as she got a little bigger and gained better head and neck control (around 3 months), I found the Ergo to be the appropriate carrier since I could put it on and take it off much faster than the wrap.

Why I Love Babywearing | Ann-Marie Loves

There are so many perks to wearing Briar versus buckling her into the stroller or carrying her in my arms. For one, it’s a million times easier to get through a crowded place (Trader Joe’s, I’m looking at you) sans bulky stroller. Then there’s the whole germ aspect. When she’s snuggled against me, I can limit her exposure to other people and their germs (this was especially helpful during the recent measles outbreak!). And then, of course, there are many times when she’s fussy or I just want her near me, so I’ll put her in the Ergo and we’re both happy. It’s amazing how mutually beneficial the experience is!

Why I Love Babywearing | Ann-Marie Loves

Lately, as we near Briar’s bedtime and she needs that extra bit of help to fall asleep, I’ll buckle her into the Ergo as I clean up the house, brush my teeth, and get us both ready for bed. Usually that’s all it takes to put her fast asleep. Those ten to fifteen minutes of quiet time are some of the best moments of my day.

There are so many simple pleasures that I’ve discovered since becoming a mom and babywearing is certainly at the top of the list!

as of late | march edition.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

As of Late | March Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Living vicariously through Briar as she lays under the disco ball in her cozy new teepee. I want one of my own!

Working on taxes. Which really means, finding any and every excuse under the sun to put them off for another five minutes…

Smiling as I listen to Briar hum herself to sleep. So precious.

Listening to a few new-to-me podcasts, including Hope*ologie, Sarah R Bagley, and Raise Your Hand Say Yes. (What are you listening to?)

Craving a latte from Lavender + Honey. If you’re ever in Pasadena, you HAVE to go there!

Applauding Emily Henderson’s new advice column on lessons she has learned the hard way. I looooove people that can keep it real and talk about their mistakes. Let’s learn from each other!

Thinking Briar needs this shirt. Heart and Soleil!

Agreeing with this post. Wholeheartedly.

Missing Pasadena, but loving being close to family. Briar and I ran into my mom at Target the other day and it reassured me that I made the right choice.

Loving Oh Joy’s final video in her “Dress the Bump” series. Clothing a post-baby bod is no joke…! (Also, I am so pumped about her forthcoming book!)

Finding so many great Instagram accounts to follow these days! (Who are your favorite ‘grammers?)

Looking forward to introducing Briar to swimming! Partly because I know she will love it, but mainly because I can’t wait to see her cute little self in tiny swimsuits!

Needing a massage. Dead lifting babies all day isn’t doing my back any favors.

Compiling a list of blog post topics! I’ve been a little MIA lately, but now that my schedule is clearing a bit, I’m looking forward to diving back into it! xo

bedside basket for baby.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bedside Basket for Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

Before I had Briar, I made a huge checklist of all things I needed to purchase and pull together prior to her arrival. There was a crib to assemble. A closet to organize. A car seat to install. A diaper bag to pack. These were all necessities, of course, but the most useful things came as a result of living with a nocturnal, ever-hungry, spit-up baby.

Case in point: the bedside basket.

Bedside Basket for Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

When Briar was a newborn and I had to wake her every 2-3 hours for a feeding, I was a bit of a zombie. I savored any amount of sleep I could get, which often meant we kept weird hours in bed (think late nights and early afternoons…!). As a result, the only way I was able to get up for 3 am feedings was knowing that I had a tasty snack waiting for me…Lara bars and apples were a mainstay. I quickly realized that not only was it handy to have these nearby for late night energy, but they were great to have by my bed for a breakfast snack in the morning (er, early afternoon). I also stashed a handful of burp rags, a few diapers, an extra swaddle blanket, and 5 million pacifiers in the basket as well.

Bedside Basket for Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

Now that she’s six months old and sleeps in her own room (but comes in our room for feedings), the basket contents have slightly changed. These days I keep a video monitor, a couple of quiet(ish) books and toys for entertaining her while I try to sneak in a little extra sleep in the morning, a burp rag or two, a few diapers, a nose bulb, and of course, a small stash of pacifiers. It’s so great having all the essentials corralled nicely within arm’s reach.

Bedside Basket for Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

Getting out of bed is overrated.

clearly kelly projects.

Posted on: Monday, March 2, 2015

A few months ago, Kelly Purkey asked me if I would be interested in creating a few projects with her impeccably designed line with Hero Arts. Uhh, heck yeah. No need to ask me twice!

Ann-Marie Espinoza | Layouts Using Clearly Kelly

For this 8 x 8″ page (fun size, btw!), I used the Daily Life stamp set, the best black ink pad ever, and a photo from my wedding (the gift that keeps on giving!).

Ann-Marie Espinoza | Layouts Using Clearly Kelly

I also added a little extra texture by lightly spraying the background with pink mist. Oh, and then I totally dropped the black ink pad onto the layout (insert expletives here), but alas, I’ll survive ;)

Ann-Marie Espinoza | Layouts Using Clearly Kelly

For the second project, I created a two page spread using the Take Note stamp set, Capture page protectors, and some of my favorite papers from the Spice Market and Second City collections.

Ann-Marie Espinoza | Layouts Using Clearly Kelly

Yay for crafting! I need more of that in my life.

workspace wednesday | sharing + boundaries.

Posted on: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ann-Marie Loves

Last week Elise and I discussed establishing boundaries. Boundaries between work life + personal life. Boundaries between what to share publicly vs. what to keep to ourselves. Boundaries between listening to outside opinions vs. going with our gut. It’s the kind of topic that we could easily have discussed for hours on end! As I re-listened to the episode (and p.s., is there anything more cringeworthy than hearing your own voice?!), all I could think was, no matter how much or how little each person on this planet wants to share, I love that we have the ability to share our stories. I love that we have the ability to determine our own personal boundaries. And I love that as we evolve and grow, we can always change where the boundary line is drawn.

The past year or so has made my head spin and I’ve had one heck of a time getting focused. There have been countless days where I’ve felt completely lost and overwhelmed by all that I’ve taken on and all that I still have ahead of me. It’s exhausting being your own worst enemy, isn’t it? Luckily, just when I think I’m the last person in the world who doesn’t have her shit together, I am reminded that I am not the only one. Far from it, actually. Thanks to people who are willing to share their stories, be it through podcasts, blogs, or books, I find comfort and camaraderie amongst strangers. There is tremendous peace to be found in others’ perspectives.

Right now I’m reading an amazing book called Breathing Room and I find myself taking a screenshot of nearly every single page (Kindle app on my iPhone for the win!). There are so many passages from the book that are like permission slips for me to feel the way that I feel. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“Letting others in is a better way to live, even though it requires bringing down our defenses and allowing for the possibility that being seen and being known might be more meaningful than being in control.” – Leeana Tankersley

Sharing is caring, y’all. Thank you for letting me share slivers of my story with you. xo


doing just fine.

Posted on: Friday, February 20, 2015

Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie Loves
Ann-Marie Loves

As I uploaded a bunch of recent images onto my computer last night, I was overcome with joy. I am so grateful to have these simple moments — the ones that are so fleeting yet so powerful — captured forever.

I often wonder if John and I are doing enough as Briar’s parents. Are we setting a good example? Are we showing her enough love? Are we giving her all the tools she needs to flourish and thrive? And worst of all, are we looking at our phones too much?! I’m constantly evaluating and reevaluating all the ways the two of us can better our parenting skills.

But then I see these images and I know we’re doing just fine. I see the joy and wonder on Briar’s face. I see the unconditional love in my eyes. I see how John would move heaven and earth for the sake of his daughter. These photos reaffirm everything for me. We are doing just fine.

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