Entries Tagged as 'California'

it never rains in california.

Posted on: Thursday, January 14, 2016

Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves

Last week we were lucky enough to enjoy a handful of storms that brought some much-needed water to our dry state of California. Given the fact that we rarely see rain in LA, I knew I had to seize the moment and let Briar experience a little weather in her life! So after breakfast, I put her coat and her shoes on over her PJs (no time to waste!) and we headed out back to find some puddles. And find puddles she did! Girl ran straight into the heart of the downpour, giggling and tilting her head back to catch rain drops in her mouth (I swear I didn’t teach her this!). Then she found some lemons and watched as the rain quickly washed the dirt off of them.

Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m so proud of her curious, adventure-loving nature. Her fearlessness may make me nervous from time to time, but it really is such a treat to watch her explore her world with such abandon. I wish I was as bold as Briar!
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar in the Rain | Ann-Marie Loves

We played outside for about ten minutes before I brought her in and gave her a nice warm bath. I’ve always thought that rainy days were special, but now that I have a water-loving daughter, they’re downright magical. Bring it on, El Niño!

P.S. We ordered rain boots for the next downpour, should we ever see rain again ;)

birthday weekend in santa barbara.

Posted on: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Birthday Weekend In Santa Barbara | Ann-Marie Loves

For my birthday, I only wanted one thing: a trip away with my husband sans baby. As much as I love Briar, I hadn’t spent a night apart from her since she was born so the thought of being baby-free was, well, all too appealing. And guess what? It was wonderful! Actually, it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. Just me, my husband, and one of the prettiest cities in  the world. Briar spent the weekend with my parents and while John and I missed her terribly, it was exactly what we needed to reconnect as a couple.

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Some of the highlights include: coffee at The French Press, hot chocolate at Handlebar Coffee Roasters, seafood enchiladas and margaritas at Cava, shopping on State Street, brunch at Scarlett Begonia, and sunsets over the Pacific. If this weekend was any indication of what 29 will be like, then I am READY.

pumpkin patch at underwood farms.

Posted on: Monday, October 19, 2015

Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

This past weekend we ventured out to Moorpark and visited the amazing pumpkin patch at Underwood Farms. I had a feeling that Briar would enjoy it a lot more this year at the age of fourteen months than she did last year at two months (obvious statement?), but I had no idea how much more I would enjoy it, too! Since the farm is humongous, there were plenty of things to do and it was a blast seeing it all through Briar’s eyes! She and her cousin Luna were especially fond of grabbing fistfuls of hay, which they passed back and forth to each other (ha!). My favorite part was definitely the tractor ride around the farm at dusk. Not only was the sunset lighting PERFECT, but the sweater-worthy weather and the cool breeze made it feel like our first real taste of fall this season…exactly how I like my pumpkin patch experiences.

Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

Her little baby chambray shoes paired with those chubby legs. I can’t even.

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Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
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Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
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Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
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Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

Here’s a little pumpkin patch #tbt for you: Briar and Luna at fourteen and thirteen months, respectively (above), and Briar and Luna at two months and one month, respectively (below). HOLY MOLY, TIME IS FLYING.

Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

P.S. Our visit to Underwood this past summer!

santa barbara zoo.

Posted on: Monday, August 17, 2015

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Last week marked Briar’s third trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo, and this particular time was easily the best one yet. Twelve months is a really fun age for taking her places. She’s generally agreeable (assuming there’s an endless supply of snacks on hand), she’s super easy to entertain (hello, car keys!), and allowing her to explore her world on foot (she’s a walking gal!) is such a treat to watch. There’s also the whole not-having-to-nurse-her-every-other-hour thing that makes the whole trip so much more enjoyable than it was during her first trip at three months old.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

While I always feel a tinge of guilt to see caged animals, there’s nothing quite like being face to face with a wild creature whom I otherwise would never see. This gorilla was AMAZING.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

My mom and I packed a lunch at home so that we could enjoy a picnic on the huge grassy hill overlooking the ocean. (I mean, life is really hard.) It was the ideal place to let Briar roam free and test out her sweet new walking skills. She was also really into eating all of my food, opening and closing the cooler, and climbing her stroller. Toddlerhood is a contact sport!

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves
Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Did you know that flamingoes get their pinkish hue from the brine shrimp that they eat? I thought that was a fascinating tidbit! Also, they’re from South America, which I was also (embarrassingly) unaware of until last week. Everyday is a new lesson!

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

Since the zoo is not only a great place to see animals, but a GORGEOUS place to hang out, my camera gets plenty of action while we’re here.

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

For Briar’s first birthday, my parents gifted us with a year-long membership to the zoo, so I have no doubt that there will be plenty of fun adventures in our near future! (P.S. Thanks Nana + Papa!)

Santa Barbara Zoo | Ann-Marie Loves

And just for the heck of it, here’s a photo of Briar and me from her first trip to the zoo, way back in November. Can you say TINY BABY? Oh. Em. Gee.

adventures at underwood farms.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Having grown up in Ventura County, I’ve been on many a trip to Underwood Farms in Moorpark. However, it had been years since my last visit and Briar had never been before, so John and I (along with Jamie, Kareem, and Luna!) decided it was high time to revisit the farm. We had an awesome time (despite the heat) exploring the grounds, visiting the animals (how amazing is that horse!), and digging in the fields for ripe strawberries and olallieberries. Sadly, Briar was developing a double ear infection that day (unbeknownst to us at the time), so she wasn’t her normal cheery self. But that’s okay…we’ll be back for Halloween festivities come October!

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

Adventures at Underwood Farms | Ann-Marie Loves

happy place | pasadena.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

I’m pretty sure the secret to happiness is this: waking up and deciding on a whim that your day must include a spontaneous adventure. Then, pursuing such spontaneous adventures. That’s exactly what Briar and I did yesterday, after realizing that it had been far too long since we last visited Pasadena. So I buckled her into her car seat and off we went!

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

Spontaneous Adventures | Pasadena | Ann-Marie Loves

We hit up some of our favorite spots: a latte and toast at Lavender + Honey, a little shopping at Tiny Universe, and a walk through some of the most charming neighborhoods in town. There’s something about getting out of the house and being in a beautiful place that energizes me and puts me in a fresh frame of mind. I need to do this more often…

how to do disneyland with an infant | part two.

Posted on: Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yesterday I shared my best tips for bringing an infant to Disneyland and today I’m sharing the details of what I pack for my seven month old.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

Food + Supplies. Like I mentioned before, Briar is now at the age where we can alternate nursing with feeding her solid foods. The combination of the two makes for a pretty smooth Disneyland day. For a seven month old, I pack a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag of Cheerios, a banana, and a small bowl and spoon. The Cheerios are great for keeping her entertained while the adults eat or we wait in line. The banana is great for multiple meals throughout the day (I only cut off a small portion each time, mix it up in her bowl with a little water, and feed it to her with a spoon). I chose a banana over other fruits and vegetables because it comes in it’s own container, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and can be easily mashed up. I also pack a small sippy cup that I fill with a little bit of water so she has something to drink when eating solids. And then of course, I bring two bibs, because it’s easier than changing her outfit fourteen times a day.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

Toiletries + “Just In Case” Supplies. The thing about babies is, you never really know what they’re going to do while at Disneyland. Will they have gas? Will they soil their clothes within the first five minutes? Will they (god forbid) get sick? Since I’m never sure what’s coming down the pike, I like to come prepared. For a full day at Disneyland, I bring a minimum of ten diapers and a travel-size pack of wipes. I keep these necessities (as well as a waterproof changing matsunscreen, and a million pacifiers) in a small zip bag that I throw in my backpack since I’m usually the one that takes Briar to the restroom.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

In addition to the immediate necessities, I pack a nose bulb, Boogie Wipes, gas drops, and Tylenol. Since I hope not to use these things but still like to have them on hand, I put them in a Ziploc bag and keep it in John’s backpack (where all of our non-immediate items hang out). I should also mention that I always have a bottle of Babyganics hand sanitizer in the pocket of our stroller caddy, because, well, GERMS.

P.S. In case you forget any of these items of simply don’t want to bring them, you can always purchase them through the Baby Care Center on Main Street.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

Clothes. So here’s the part of the packing where I inevitably lose track of time…baby clothes are just too cute! For a warm day at Disneyland, I bring two extra onesies, two pairs of leggings, a sweater or sweatshirt, extra socks, pajamas, a floppy hat, and sunglasses. I like to keep Briar’s outfits as fuss-free as possible, so I avoid anything with too many snaps or buttons. If I’m really on my game, I’ll change Briar into her pajamas before we head home so the transition from car seat to crib is as seamless as possible. I should also mention that I always pack at least two plastic bags (shopping or Ziploc) in case any items of clothing get wet…or worse (EEK).

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

Carrier. I have a Boba wrap (shown above) and an Ergo and I honestly love them both equally. The Boba would be great if you want to pack light and plan on wearing your baby most of the day, so you don’t have to tie / untie the several yards of fabric over and over again. That’s what I used when Briar was two months old and just a tiny little thing. On the other hand, the Ergo is perfect if you plan on keeping your baby in the stroller during the majority of your trip since it can be easily taken on / off and stashed in the stroller storage compartment when not in use. I also find that it’s much easier to nurse in an Ergo than a wrap because I can loosen the straps quickly and snap the hood in place for extra privacy. No matter which carrier you prefer, this is one of the most important items you can bring to ensure a successful day at Disneyland.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | What to Pack | Ann-Marie Loves

Toys. Disneyland is bright! And colorful! And stimulating! But sometimes it’s nice to have some familiarity on hand to keep your baby from completely losing her mind. I always bring Briar a handful of her favorite toys, but the clincher is, they have to be able to hook on to her stroller by way of this wonderful teething necklace. Not only do the toys remain in her stroller (and not on the ground), but she can also chew on the beads and soothe those poor little gums.

With a little planning and prep work, taking an infant to Disneyland is completely doable! I cannot recommend it enough!

how to do disneyland with an infant | part one.

Posted on: Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

I know, I know. The thought of taking an infant to an overpriced, overcrowded, overstimulating environment makes some people break out in hives. I totally get it. But I can also confirm that despite all of those things, it is 100% WORTH it. I’m a big believer in taking Briar (almost) everywhere I go, and as a result, she’s become my laid back, highly adaptable co-pilot.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about taking an infant to Disneyland:

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Plan meals ahead of time. Briar is now at a perfect stage where I can alternate nursing with solid foods, which makes the whole day so much easier than when I had to stop and nurse her every two hours. For a half day with a seven month old, I packed one banana (along with a small bowl and a baby spoon) and a Ziploc bag of Cheerios. Both of those foods lasted quite some time and kept Briar thoroughly entertained and satiated. I also packed a sippy cup that I would fill with water so she could take a few sips (slash pour the rest all over the place) whenever she had a solid food meal or snack.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Bring the stroller AND the carrier (and grandma). When it comes to getting around and keeping your baby happy, you need options. Now that Briar is old enough to sit up and face forward in her stroller, it’s like a whole new world for her (and me!). We have a Britax B-Agile which I absolutely love because it’s lightweight, folds up easily, the seat can be adjusted upright or laid down with a simple pull, and the shade is huge (meaning my pale baby is safe from the sun / given privacy during naps). The stroller does the bulk of the work throughout the day, but when it comes to taking Briar on rides, nursing her on the go (it can be done!), or calming her when she’s fussy, that’s when the carrier comes in handy. I usually bring the Ergo, but I also love the Boba wrap as well. However, if I’m being honest, the best transportation of all is in the arms of Nana…always bring Nana ;)

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Skip the tram and walk. If ever given the choice to walk or ride, I always walk, because, well, I just like walking. However, this is particularly handy when you have a stroller in tow. The walk from the parking structure to the park gates is approximately 10-15 minutes and is much easier (in my opinion) than waiting in line for the front seats of the tram and having to fold / unfold your stroller. Consider it your warm-up for the walking marathon you are about to embark upon.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Take advantage of the Baby Care Center. This place is amazing. There’s a private nursing area with comfy chairs, there’s a diaper changing station, there are high chairs, there’s a place to store your pump…Disney has thoroughly thought out the baby situation. I think my favorite part about it is being able to sit in a quiet, air-conditioned space with my little one, free from any distractions. Other great (semi-private) places to nurse: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the train, the back corner of Hungry Bear Restaurant, the Haunted Mansion, or any ride that you can wear your baby in a carrier.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Bring comfort items. Since Disneyland can be incredibly stimulating, it’s nice to have comfort items at the ready for when your little one needs a reprieve. I always make sure that we have several pacifiers on hand (at least half of them end up on the ground), small toys that can be attached to the stroller, and a few lightweight blankets for nap time. Whenever Briar has had enough, I’ll take her to the Baby Care Center for a little peace and quiet or I’ll lay her in her stroller and pull the shades down so some of the noise and lights are blocked.

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Ride those rides! There are SO many rides you can actually take babies on. I have had an annual pass for years and I had no idea how many rides babies could board! I’m not just talking about Fantasyland rides, I’m talking about the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and any others that do not have a height restriction. The other great feature Disneyland offers for parents of babies is a Rider Switch Pass. Let’s say you and your significant other want to ride Space Mountain: you simply request a Rider Switch Pass when you get in line and then both of you can alternate riding with watching the baby. Win win, right?

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Pack lightly. Babies require a lot of stuff; the packing list alone can be intimidating! But it’s important to keep in mind that if you bring too much into the park, you’ll spend the whole day schlepping big bags in and out of crowds and lines and tight spaces, and really, that’s a huge buzz kill. After a handful of trips to Disneyland with Briar, I think I’ve finally figured out what works best for John and me: I bring my everyday bag (similar to this) to carry all the immediate essentials (diapers, wipes, pacifiers) and John brings a bigger backpack to carry the less immediate essentials (spare clothes, the camera, a bowl + spoon for Briar). We also utilize the storage underneath the stroller for bulky items, like the Ergo or our sweatshirts. Whenever we need to park the stroller to get in a ride line, we don’t worry about leaving anything behind because we keep almost everything on our person already. If you want to carry even less, you can always rent a locker or store extras in your car for later. (Tomorrow I’ll share all the details of what I pack!)

How to Do Disneyland with an Infant | Ann-Marie Loves

Roll with it. I’ve decided that you can look at bringing babies along to Disneyland in one of two ways: you can either look at it as a major hassle OR you can choose see it as a wonderful adventure for the whole family! I choose to view it through the latter perspective. There’s a lot of prep work that goes on, but it’s always worth it in the end! (Plus, babies are free until they’re three!)

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.

pasadena.

Posted on: Monday, January 26, 2015

Moving On | Ann-Marie Loves

A few weeks ago, I posted about my dilemma over staying put in Pasadena or moving closer to family.

Even though we’ve only lived in Pas for a little over a year, I feel like so much of my identity is tied up in being a resident. Not only have I wanted to live here for years, but this is the first place that John and I lived together as a married couple. This is the town in which I was pregnant and had a baby. This is the only home Briar has ever known. Needless to say, the sentimental value of this city had me in a freaking headlock.

But. The thing about Pasadena is that it’s juuuust far enough away from family + friends that I can’t utilize their help with Briar. And man oh man, do I need help. Don’t get me wrong…Briar is an easy baby (relatively speaking). She loves people, she can take formula just as well as breast milk, she’s an excellent traveler, and most importantly, she’s a happy + healthy little girl. But at this stage in the game (oh, hi hospital bills), John and I both need to be working. And that means I need to pass the baby off for awhile each week so I can do my part to contribute.

So, we have moved.

And as sad as I was (am!) about leaving, I’ve already had a taste of what the next few months have in store: me time. I’ve been treating myself to solo coffee dates. I’ve listened to several podcasts back to back without having to stop. I’ve been catching up on work + e-mails. I had my neglected hair trimmed and styled. And best of all, I’ve been able to hear my own thoughts and and get some mental clarity! For the first time since Briar was born, I’ve been able to breathe easier knowing that it’s not all on me to keep things going. And it feels good.

Whenever I feel down about that chapter closing, John reminds me that we can always move back one day. Preferably to a house on El Molino ;)

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