workspace wednesday | work at home mama.

Posted on: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m not the first person to admit this and I certainly won’t be the last, but here goes: working from home while caring for a baby is tough.

It’s not so much that caring for a baby is hard, per se. I mean, if you break down all the components that going into parenting an infant, they’re pretty simple, albeit tedious. Trying to do long division in my head is hard. Trying to push a baby out of my body is hard. Trying to get from one side of Los Angeles to the other during rush hour is, well, that’s just impossible. What’s been the most challenging part of  working at home with an infant is that I just can’t seem to see a single task all they way to completion. My life has become one long string of half-finished (sometimes three quarter-finished, if I’m lucky!) tasks. And it drives me b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

Whether you work at home or away from home, you just can’t win. I freelance from home which is an amazing gift in so many ways, but I also feel like I’m never “done.” I’m forever battling with a nagging feeling that there’s always more that I could be doing, more opportunities that I could be pursuing, more money that I could be making, etc. It’s a guilt-inducing feeling that I just can’t seem to shake. On the other hand, I can’t even wrap my brain around how difficult it would be to have to go to an office everyday and leave Briar with someone else. My heart shatters into a million tiny pieces just thinking about it. (Hats off to all you mamas who do this! You’re stronger than I’ll ever be!).

Workspace Wednesday | Work At Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

So needless to say, it’s a daily struggle. In the (almost) three months that I’ve been a parent, I’ve learned a TON. Every single day I learn something new about my roles as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, freelancer, blogger, housekeeper, social media user, bill payer, etc, and I’m positive that I still have so much more to learn.

Here are a few things that have helped me balance work + baby:

“Out of Office” response. Right after I had Briar, I put the “out of office” (or in my case, maternity leave) auto reply setting on my Gmail account and it helped to ease my guilt over not responding to e-mails in a timely manner. I contemplated leaving it up until Briar went to kindergarten (or maybe college?), but I caved and turned it off the other day. I’m nowhere near caught up on e-mails yet, but maybe one day…

Make lists. Before Briar was born, I could easily keep dates, appointments, and assignments neatly filed in my memory. These days, I can barely remember if I washed my hair or not while I’m still in the shower. Yeesh. I’ve realized that writing down what needs to get done is the only way anything will actually get done.

Ask for help. We spend most of our weekends back home with our parents these days and I can’t even tell you how wonderful that has been. There’s no shortage of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and friends who generously give their time + energy to our sweet girl, which frees me up to get a few things done, catch up on sleep, or better yet, do nothing at all! I’m not usually one that feels comfortable asking for help, but in this case, I will take alllllll the assistance I can get.

Forgive + forget. There are many days as of late that I feel less than stellar about myself. Between the unfinished tasks, the number of e-mails that begin with “my apologies for the late response!,” the fact that I still can’t wear half of my closet, the fear that I’m not paying enough attention to Briar (thereby ruining her life), and the unconventional hours I keep…gah. I just want to wake up and be GOOD at life. I mean, is that even possible? Until that day comes, I’m trying to focus on what I AM doing right and let the guilt fall by the wayside. #easiersaidthandone

Keep your eyes on the prize. Being a mom is the best thing ever. Despite all the stressing and worrying, I derive so much joy from my wild-haired little one that I can’t help but want to work hard so I can give her the best life possible. When she goes to college one day, I won’t remember all the e-mails that went unanswered. I won’t remember the dishes that were left in the sink overnight. I won’t remember all the minutia that momentarily consumed me. So keep your eyes on the prize, Ann-Marie. Eyes on the prize.

Moms, how do balance working with parenting?

 

one year.

Posted on: Monday, October 27, 2014

Ann-Marie + John | Photo by Katie Pritchard Photography

Photo by Katie Pritchard.

John’s and my first year of marriage will forever go down as the year we packed as many major life events into 365 days as possible. We got married. We went on an amazing honeymoon. We moved to Pasadena. I got pregnant. We bought a new car. We had a baby. Life was / is C R A Z Y. I’ll admit that packing so many things into a single year was stressful. Draining. Overwhelming. And yet, so incredibly rewarding.

Yesterday marked our first anniversary as a married couple. One year down, one hundred more to go…

how to sleep when you have a newborn (and a giveaway!).

Posted on: Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn | Ann-Marie Loves

My biggest fear about having a baby (aside from, ummm, how the heck is she going to come out?!) was that I would never sleep again.

You see, I come from a family that fiercely guards their sleep. And when I say fiercely, I mean fiercely. On weekend mornings, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Morris family will be sleeping in as long as possible. There’s no way we willingly forgo an extra second of our precious sleep for anything less than a life or death situation. (Kidding!) (Kind of.). So needless to say, I was a little worried about what would become of my tried-and-true sleep habits.

The first few nights after Briar was born, there understandably was not a lot of rest going on. Between a hungry baby and a sore mama, those two nights in the hospital were the exact opposite of restful. Then we got home and that first night was utterly exhausting. I was having one heck of a time getting comfortable with nursing and being that Briar was underweight, I needed to feed her every two hours. It seemed like as soon as I fed her and climbed back in bed, it was already time to get back up and repeat the cycle again. I began to worry that this phase of life was going to be the death of me.

But ironically, the struggle with nursing totally saved me. Since I needed to plump up an underweight baby and I really wanted to let my body heal a little bit, I pumped exclusively for two days straight. It was a lot of work, but man, it gave me a sense of freedom knowing that John could give Briar a bottle and I could get a little extra sleep. We alternated middle-of-the-night feedings so that we both could be semi-rested and present for our new baby. We fell into a great routine that kept my sanity intact (and my eyeballs open).

When John had to go back to work a week after Briar arrived, we came up with a nice little feeding schedule: I would handle the middle-of-the-night feedings and he would give Briar a bottle before heading to the office. Since I work from home, it didn’t matter how long Briar and I slept in in the morning. I soon realized that it was easier for me to stay up late (2 to 3 am) and then sleep straight through until 10 or 11 am than it was to wake up every couple of hours in the middle of the night and feel groggy. So that’s how we do it: stay up late + sleep in.

The main reason I do it this way (aside from the fact that I’m naturally a night owl) is because John feeds her between 6-7 am everyday. If I were to go to bed earlier, it would defeat the whole point of having my husband take a feeding. I’ll admit that there are days when Briar and I don’t get out of bed until noon, but maui wowee, I’m a much better mom + wife when I have a nice chunk of sleep under my belt.

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn | Ann-Marie Loves

Here are the keys to my personal sleeping success:

Let someone else feed the baby. Pumping has been a LIFESAVER for me. Not only did it help me to plump my tiny little newborn back to a healthy weight, but it allows me to get a longer stretch of sleep than most new moms probably get. Pumping a bottle every single day takes a little extra effort, but being able to sleep 6-7 straight hours? WORTH IT.

Learn to nurse while laying down. Oh man. Once I realized that I didn’t actually have to sit up to feed Briar, I felt like I had a new lease on life. After John leaves for work in the morning, he lays Briar next to me in our bed and I sleep until she wakes me up for another feeding. Given the convenience of already having her in bed, that morning feeding is a breeze! Of course, I still have to get up to change the inevitable diaper, but it’s much easier to go right back to sleep afterwards.

Find good TV shows to watch. The secret to being able to stay awake until 3 am? Jimmy Fallon. Parenthood. Gilmore Girls.

Have breakfast ready to go. When I get out of bed in the morning, Briar is usually hungry again, so I’m left with only one free hand to make breakfast. (Have you ever tried to make oatmeal + coffee with one hand while nursing a 10 pound baby in the other? Not so seamless.) Thankfully, I just discovered the wonderful world of crock pots, so I’ve been finding all kinds of awesome breakfast recipes that I can put together the night before and eat as soon as I get up. The same thing goes for my coffee. A little prep work goes a loooooong way.

Keep a bedside basket of necessities. I keep a small basket on my nightstand that contains burp rags, extra pacifiers, and snack foods, so I don’t have to get out of bed to grab these items.

Go with the flow. While I would love to have a more conventional sleep schedule, I know that these odd hours won’t last forever. So I’m doing what works best for myself + my daughter, right here, right now. I feel incredibly lucky that Briar is an easygoing babe (for the most part ;)) and that John is a hands-on dad and that my work schedule is super flexible. The combination of those three things makes my life so much easier.

How to Sleep When You Have a Newborn + a Breast Pump Giveaway! | Ann-Marie Loves

In the spirit of getting some shut eye, one lucky reader will win an Ameda Purely Yours double electric breast pump! Even if you’re not currently nursing, this would be a great gift to a new mom who could use an extra pair of hands to feed her babe. To win, simply leave a comment below letting me know what kind of baby-related posts you’d love to see here in the future. The winner will be announced next Friday (October 31st). Good luck!

briar’s name.

Posted on: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Briar Soleil | Ann-Marie Loves | Photos by LaRousse Photo

John and I have been together for almost ten years. TEN YEARS. That decade includes high school, college, post-college, marriage, and now parenthood. In that time, we’ve had maaaaaany a disagreement, but the one thing we both wholeheartedly agreed on? Our baby’s name.

Briar Soleil | Ann-Marie Loves | Photos by LaRousse Photo

Given the fact that naming a human is, uh, a big freaking deal, we had to set some ground rules early on. Any name that we chose had to meet the following criteria:

- phonetic spelling
- absolutely no symbols or punctuation marks (trust me, the struggle is real!)
- had to pass the coffee order test (would a barista be able to understand this name instantly?)
- had to be somewhat unique

Briar Soleil | Ann-Marie Loves | Photos by LaRousse Photo

My favorite girl’s name over the past couple of years has been Soleil. I love the sound of it, I love the spelling of it, I love the meaning of it. But after running it by my friends and realizing not everyone immediately knew how to pronounce it, I decided it would be far better suited as a middle name. Luckily, John’s favorite name, Briar, complemented Soleil perfectly. The name Briar was unique; it felt modern and classic at the same time. It was unlike anything we had ever heard before, but not so outlandish that it would haunt her forever. We were both in agreement: if we were lucky enough to have a daughter one day, her name was going to be Briar Soleil.

Briar Soleil | Ann-Marie Loves | Photos by LaRousse Photo

So when I found out I was pregnant last November, I not-so-secretly hoped for a girl. “Please please please let it be a Briar Soleil” was all I could think (aside from “OHMYGODWHATAMIDOING?!”). We had our girl’s name on lock.

Briar Soleil | Ann-Marie Loves | Photos by LaRousse Photo

Ever since the night that we knew the baby was a girl, we referred to her as Briar. We spent countless hours throughout my pregnancy dreaming out loud about what she would look like, what she would sound like, what she would be like. She was such a mystery to us and all we could do was hope that her name would fit her well.

On August 8th, after going two weeks past my due date and feeling like we would never meet her, we finally locked eyes with our daughter for the first time and we knew: she was our Briar Soleil.

Photos by the amazing La Rousse Photo

this girl.

Posted on: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ann-Marie Espinoza | BasicGrey Second City Line
Ann-Marie Espinoza | BasicGrey Second City Line

She’s my new favorite subject. But I think you already knew that ;)

 

Supplies: Second City 12 x 12 Patterned Paper // Second City Die-Cuts + Transparencies // Fiskars Large Circle Punch // Fiskars XL Circle Punch // Dimensional Adhesive

glassware hutch makeover.

Posted on: Monday, October 13, 2014

Glassware Hutch Makeover | Ann-Marie Loves

Good news, guys: the nesting instinct is still live and kicking! (Insert a million “thumbs up” emojis here). My free time may be more limited these days, but I am still very much obsessed with making this house a home for my little family.

The other day, I decided to take advantage of one of Briar’s midday naps and paint the back wall of our dining room hutch. It was a simple project that took maybe an hour and only required a single bottle of Martha Stewart craft paint + a paintbrush. As a new mom, I’ve learned that any kind of task that can be started + finished in a single stretch is a major victory!

Glassware Hutch Makeover | Ann-Marie Loves

How it looked before painting the back wall.

The back story behind this hutch: 

A few weeks after moving to Pasadena, I spotted it abandoned on the curb and instantly knew it had to be mine. I had SO MANY pieces of glassware from our wedding just sitting in boxes…needless to say, the timing could not have been better! Sure, the hutch wasn’t perfect and the brown paint job was, well, not exactly my favorite. But the price point! (Or lack thereof.) It was truly meant to be. So I convinced John to help me lug it in the house and it’s been sitting in our dining space ever since.

Glassware Hutch Makeover | Ann-Marie Loves

I still have grand plans of painting the whole thing white + then wallpapering the back wall, but in the meantime, the bright pop of aqua is totally filling that void. I love the color that it brings to our dining room and I am so thrilled with the way it showcases my glassware!

Glassware Hutch Makeover | Ann-Marie Loves

Nesting instinct, feel free to stay forever.

diaper bag essentials | infant edition.

Posted on: Friday, October 10, 2014

Diaper Bag Essentials | Infant Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Before I had Briar, I imagined that packing a diaper bag for a Trader Joe’s run would mean packing her entire closet and a whole case of diapers. You know, just in case. Fast forward to the first time I left the house with her in tow and I instantly realized I really only needed a handful of essential items. This is part of the reason I switched from using an oversized bag like this to a striped canvas purse that I’ve had for years (shown above). Not only is this bag smaller and easier to throw items into, but it also fits nicely in the compartment under the stroller or hanging from a Mommy Hook. GAME CHANGER.

Briar’s diaper bag is always packed and ready to go with these essential items:

Diaper Bag Essentials | Infant Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Diapers. Obvious choice, yes. I still don’t have a particular brand that I buy from consistently, but these adorable Honest diapers get the job done pretty well. I always keep at least three on hand for short trips.

Wipes. When we’re at home, we use soft paper towels and a small water bottle to clean Briar during changings, but for on-the-go purposes, we use travel-size packs of Honest wipes. The resealable packaging makes it perfect for diaper changes on the fly.

Portable Changing Pad. Since we’re not always near a restroom, I pack a portable changing pad for clean-ups in her stroller, on the ground, in the trunk, or anywhere else, and then throw it in the laundry when we get home. (P.S. plastic bags are perfect for storing these kinds of soiled items in the diaper bag until you get home!)

Hand sanitizer. I think hand sanitizers are pretty self-explanatory but such a crucial part of the diaper bag experience ;) This travel-size option from Babyganics is my favorite.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. I am POSITIVE that one can never have enough of these swaddle blankets! We use them for everything from swaddling to draping over the car seat to protect Briar’s eyes from the sun to covering up while nursing to keeping her warm when we go out on evening walks. The versatility factor is top notch.

Squeaky toys. Typically Briar is NOT a fan of diaper changes, unless we can distract her with a noisy toy, such as this adorable squeaky elephant or anything with a chime inside of it. Distractions are KEY.

Cloth rags. Given the fact that I have a spit-up baby on my hands, I could really use a lifetime supply of these cloth rags. I have them stashed all around the house and keep at least two in the diaper bag at all times.

Pacifiers. This is the one item we don’t DARE leave home without. Against the advice of our baby class nurses and everything we read about newborns, we introduced these NUK pacifiers on day two and haven’t looked back since. They calm Briar down in an instant which makes for one happy family ;)

Change of clothes. My poor summer baby still has yet to experience cold weather, but for chilly nights + overly air conditioned public places, a light sweater is important to have on hand. This particular sweater was a Baby Gap find and I will most likely cry the day that she outgrows it…that’s how much I love it! I also have two onesies in my bag because this girl is the queen of multiple daily wardrobe changes!

What are your favorite items for your little one(s)?

as of late | october edition.

Posted on: Wednesday, October 8, 2014

As of Late | October Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Dying: to make my own pompom rug. P.S. I totally love Liz’s blog!

Adding: more craft supply grab bags to the shop. I have waaaaay too much stuff! More stuff than I will ever use. Take it off my hands and put it to good use, would ya? :)

Putting: Briar in this ridiculously cute onesie from Baby Gap (shown above), even though it’ll be months before she really fits into it.

Watching: Jimmy Fallon every night.

Feeling: more scatterbrained than ever before. Note to self: write things down.

Spending: weekends with family, where there’s no shortage of people who want to hold the baby. Thank goodness for them!

Loving: every single page of this book. The styling, the crafts, the colors…spot on.

Seeing: more of my friends now than I ever did while pregnant! So much fun. Getting out of the house takes forever and a day with a baby in tow, but it’s totally doable (and totally necessary).

Thinking: that Emily Henderson + Target = the best collaboration EVER. I love the first video in her styling series!

Using: my Boba Wrap nonstop so the dishes can be cleaned while the baby can be snuggled and the mama can feel good about her life.

Rejoicing: in the return of daily walks. Even though it’s still way too hot here, walks are the answer to early evening fussiness for Briar and stir craziness for me. Plus, having a stroller to haul all my stuff (water, keys, iPhone, baby) has taken my walking game to a whole new level.

Pulling: the trigger on this lens as soon as I finish this post! It’s been in my cart for weeks, but something about this moment feels like the right time to go for it. Just in time for Briar’s first trip to the pumpkin patch!

Becoming: adept at nursing while walking around the house, while making breakfast, while answering e-mails, while packing orders, while eating meals, while cleaning up, while doing just about everything. It’s crazy for me to think back to the first few days when breastfeeding was SO HARD and involved approximately 36 pillows to get just the right position. I’m beyond grateful for how it all worked out.

Trying: to wrap my brain around the fact that in just a few weeks, John and I will have been married for a whole year. W H A T ?! Excuse me while I replay our wedding video four million times…

Watching: Jimmy Fallon every night.

Taking: steps towards a new career path. It’s been a dream of mine for years, but something I haven’t had the guts to really go for…until now. Eeek!

Collecting: recipes for my new crock pot! Any suggestions?

Trying: to decide what Briar should be for Halloween! Gah! The pressure is on!

Moving: in slow motion (or so it feels), but enjoying the change of pace. October, I love you.

october stamps!

Posted on: Thursday, October 2, 2014

October stamps are now in the shop!

There’s a mix of everything, from Halloween (guys, what should Briar’s costume be?!) to my favorite phrase to general sentiments that are perfect for all kinds of paper projects! Here they are:
October Limited Edition Rubber Stamps | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

01. Happy Halloween | 02. Trick or Treat | 03. XOXO | 04.You’re Amazing | 05. Hi, Hello, How Are You? | 06. October | 07. Good Vibes Only

Grab Bag

During the great “I’m going to be pregnant forever so I might as well organize this house” situation in early August, I put together fifteen grab bags stuffed with paper craft supplies. Now that I’ve finally figured out how to balance a baby in my arms while I work (literally!), these bags are now in my shop! I hope they bring you many a happy crafternoon :)

Stamps + grab bags here!

artful blogging.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ann-Marie Espinoza in Artful Blogging Magazine

Whenever I’m asked to package my blog into a neat little description, I always struggle a bit. I mean, really, what is this blog about? I talk about everything from wedding planning to productivity to crafting to having babies. There’s no single topic that drives my blog; it evolves as my life evolves.

 

Ann-Marie Espinoza in Artful Blogging Magazine

Blogging is like exercising: the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Coming up with things to blog about is definitely the hardest part of the process, but also the most rewarding. I can’t tell you how good it feels to finish a post that I am proud of and then wake up excited to go look at it again the next morning. 2014 has been a good year for me, blogging-wise. With the exception of an informal “maternity leave,” 2014 has been the year that I committed to posting on a daily basis. It has been the year that I’ve found my blogging stride + style. It’s the year that I’ve pushed myself as a creative, both through photography + writing.

Even though I have been blogging in various capacities since I was in college, I feel like I am just now getting started.

Ann-Marie Espinoza in Artful Blogging Magazine

You can read more about my thoughts on blogging in the Autumn issue of Artful Blogging magazine :)

August 2014 Stamps | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

P.S. Today is OFFICIALLY the last day to stock up on my August limited edition stamps. Yes, I realize I totally skipped over the month of September (whoops!), but a certain little someone was stealing my attention away. Plus, I wanted to give you extra time to snag my most favorite stamp I’ve ever designed ;)

 

Follow on Feedly

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie