Entries Tagged as 'adventures'

staying present in motherhood.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

From the moment you find out a baby will soon be joining your life, it’s hard to keep yourself from constantly fantasizing about the future. What will my baby look like? What costume will she wear for Halloween? How are we going to pay for college?! In fact, most of last year, I made all of my decisions based off of the timeline of “Pre-Briar” and ‘Post-Briar.” Pre-Briar life meant attending loud concerts on a whim, spending a whole day of working without interruptions, and sleeping in on any given Saturday BECAUSE I COULD. Post-Briar life means lining up babysitters when I want to go out, squeezing in work during naptimes, and not sleeping in on any given Saturday BECAUSE I HAVE A BABY. I think it’s only natural for moms to be preoccupied with the future; after all, we’re the ones steering the ship!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

However, I am now on a mission to stay in the present moment as often as possible and enjoy each fleeting second exactly as it is. Sure, it’s not always how I envisioned it would look or feel, but that’s all part of the fun, especially as a mom of a young toddler. Briar is growing up SO FAST (so fast, you guys!) and I want to live every minute with her, instead of wishing for a more “perfect” scenario or mentally plotting out the distant future. This is why I am now bucking my to-do list for a short time everyday and really allowing the both of us to enjoy time together.

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend, we spent some time outside so I could work on her scrapbook and she could play with her toys. Even though we were only going out in the backyard, I found it was so handy to pack up my craft supplies in a Creative Options’ Two Tray Box and Briar’s toys + books in a fabric Craft Caddy.

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar’s caddy was filled with all of the essentials for briefly occupying a girl on the move: her favorite books, her BlaBla doll (whom we named Olivia), her gold Saltwater sandals (should she decide to venture off the mat) (which she immediately did), and plenty of Cheerios!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

My box was stocked with all the essentials for a crafty gal: neon pink ink, sharp scissors, wooden alpha stamps, colorful pens, and lots of washi!

Creative Options + Thoughts on Staying Present in Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Our joint playtime was certainly not perfect (as it turns out, mom’s “toys” are way more fun than Briar’s toys!), but it was a great way for the two of us to spend some structured quality time together. Plus, when it was time to go back inside, all I had to do was pick up our caddies and our mat…no extra clean-up necessary! Life is good, you guys. Let’s embrace it just as it is!

P.S. For more ideas on how to incorporate Creative Options’ products into your life, be sure to check out their Facebook page, Amy Tangerine’s blog, and this fun video!

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.

camera love.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Camera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend I got to play with this amazing workhorse of a camera and this fantastic zoom lens and I. WAS. OBSESSED. I took as many photos as I could (mostly of my favorite moving target) and decided that I need this camera in my life permanently.

Camera Love | Ann-Marie LovesCamera Love | Ann-Marie LovesCamera Love | Ann-Marie LovesCamera Love | Ann-Marie LovesCamera Love | Ann-Marie LovesCamera Love | Ann-Marie Loves

And speaking of my favorite moving target, she will be one on Saturday. ONE. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry?

want what you want.

Posted on: Thursday, July 30, 2015

Want What You Want | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday I took myself on a solo date to my favorite coffee shop in my favorite city (I’ll give you one guess where that is!), listened to inspiring podcast episodes (this one, this one, and this one), and really allowed myself to dig deep. In doing so, I came to the startling realization that IT IS OKAY to want what we want. In fact, if we don’t acknowledge our deepest desires, how in the world will they ever come true?! When I think back on my life, there have been a few key moments where I am positive that I manifested my dreams. For example!

- After I graduated college at the onset of the recession (when I couldn’t even get a seasonal part-time job at the mall!), I was hell-bent on working in the scrapbooking industry. I had absolutely no idea how it would happen or what I would even do or how I could possibly find work in a Utah-based industry when I was a California resident. But everyday I would go on walks while listening to The Secret on my iPod (2009, y’all) and imagine being paid to play with paper until I could literally feel it in my bones. Fast forward to July 2010 and I was living in Orem, Utah and working as an in-house scrapbooker / product designer at American Crafts.

- I have always dreamed and journaled and talked about living in two of my favorite cities: San Diego and Pasadena. Both of those dreams have come to fruition.

- And finally, at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I kept a post-it note on my shelf (where I would see it as I put on my makeup everyday) with the Christina Aguilera lyric: “day by day, I’m going to get my way.” Within a matter of weeks, I started dating John (now my husband!) and a few months later, I was accepted into my college of choice.

I know this all sounds hokey and woo-woo and quite possibly, huge coincidences, but I truly believe that our thoughts create our reality. I’ve spent way too many days over the past year caught up in a fog of fearfulness and uncertainty. There have been some particularly dark moments where I could barely get out of bed, I was so terrified of what was around the corner. Having a baby in my life has filled my heart with more joy and pride than I could have ever dreamed (seriously, I could burst at any moment), but it has also brought a lot of my inner demons to the surface. I’ve gotten lost in the mindset of “this is not how it’s supposed to be” or “I should be at x-place by now and I’m only at y-place.” While I still have lots of work to do, my focus is much clearer now. I’m finally allowing myself to want what I want and to be completely at peace with those desires, no matter what others may think of them.

 

This our life, you guys! We have to open ourselves up to the possibility that AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN if we work hard and trust that the universe has our back.

Have you ever manifested any of your dreams? I’d love to hear about it!

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

42 weeks in | 42 weeks out.

Posted on: Friday, May 29, 2015

42 Weeks In // 42 Weeks Out | Ann-Marie Loves

Today Briar is 42 weeks old, which means she has been out in the world as long as she was in my belly! CRAZY.

I loved being pregnant and honestly felt great right until the very end…including those extra two weeks. I never want to forget the mystery and the magic of the first baby. There’s nothing quite like it! While I do miss those long, leisurely weeks by myself spent dreaming about the little one kicking inside of me, I can hardly imagine life without Briar by my side. She is truly the brightest spot in all of my days.

finding clarity.

Posted on: Friday, May 1, 2015

Clarity about Being a Work at Home Mama | Ann-Marie Loves

Lavender + Honey // one of my favorite places to escape to.

The other day, as I was talking to my doctor about all sorts of things, namely postpartum anxiety (I’m struggling with this), how we’re balancing work with our respective new-ish babies (there’s absolutely no balance), where we really want to live (I’ll give you one guess what my answer is…), and whether or not he reads his stellar Yelp reviews (he does), I came to two conclusions: 1. I love my doctor, and 2. I need to get out of the house more…by myself.

These past several months of being a new mom have been some of the best but also some of the hardest. I love having a baby, and at the risk of sounding overconfident, I know that I’m pretty darn good at it. I can roll with the punches, be it the constant onslaught of bodily fluids, or the crying jags, or the fact that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since last summer. I can totally handle all the standard baby hurdles with no (okay, minimal) complaints. But there is more to Ann-Marie than just being Mom to Briar, 24/7. And that’s where I’ve fallen seriously short.

I’ve neglected my inbox. I’ve neglected my mailbox. I’ve neglected my work. I’ve neglected my blog. I’ve neglected my goals. I’ve been so consumed with anxiety over the unknown that I have gotten to a place where some days, I don’t even recognize myself. Anxiety is something I’ve never really dealt with before, so navigating my way through the wreckage has been a learning curve, for sure.

However, I’m beginning to realize that if I want to continue to be a good mom to my daughter, I need to be good to myself. And that means, spending time by myself. As a major introvert, alone time (or at least time that I’m not caring for an active eight month old) is PARAMOUNT to my happiness. It always has been, it always will be. I need that time to hear my own thoughts, to decompress, and to refuel my energy. I need that time to figure out where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.

So, I’ve been looking for more ways to leave the baby with John or a family member for a few hours. I’ve been hopping in the car, putting on a good podcast, and treating myself to coffee at my favorite coffee shop. I’ve been getting to the gym and losing myself in the music and the movement for an hour. I’ve been working outside the home at least one day a week (and am even considering picking up a part-time job!). These little pockets of solo time are slowly but surely helping to chip away at the emotional walls I’ve been building around myself for the past several months (or maybe even years!).

I am forever a work in progress, but I’m learning to be okay with that. Like Maya Angelou said, “when you know better, you do better.” AMEN.

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!)

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