Entries Tagged as 'adventures'

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!)

as of late | february edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

As of Late | February Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up after a big move and feeling inspired to part with half of our belongings. Insta-sale, anyone?

Loving my new wash-and-go haircut. Getting ready in the morning has never been easier!

Watching Briar sleep in her own bed in her own room (at last!), thanks to the magic of video monitors. Even though the night vision is a little (okay, a lot) creepy-looking, I sleep better knowing I can see her sleep better with the click of a button.

Thinking that this is the greatest gift a child could give their parent.

Enjoying this unseasonably warm (even for Southern California) winter. It always feels good to roll the windows down in the middle of January.

Already dreaming of the day I get to decorate a big girl room for Briar. How amazing is this room by Joni of Lay Baby Lay?

Looking forward to Valentine’s Day! Sure, it’s a made-up card holiday, but it’s a holiday nonetheless!

Feeling better and better now that I’ve rejoined the gym and can take my favorite Zumba classes again!

Wishing this insanely cute dress came in my size!

Wanting to try out this edamame guacamole dip.

Spending waaaaay too much time on my phone these days. I need to hide my iPhone from myself…

Mourning the end of my favorite TV show of all time, Parenthood. Anytime I want to feel all the feelings, I’ll re-watch the finale. Holy moly, what an ending.

Thinking that I will never tire of “Uptown Funk.” I said the same thing about “Treasure” and I could still listen to that song on repeat (number 20 would probably agree).

Putting my 2015 printable calendar and holiday stamp digital brushes on deep discount!


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 ;)

hello 2015.

Posted on: Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hello 2015 | Ann-Marie Loves

The more years I see, the more I realize that I can’t put a blanket statement on any particular year. Or anything, really. (Except cookie dough. I am ALWAYS down for cookie dough.) Each year is filled with it’s own share of victories and losses that help to mold you into your future self. But if I’m being honest, 2014 was a DOOZY. It was more powerful and life changing and terrifying than I ever could have predicted. I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed out in my life. Needless to say, I’m happy to put it in the past (insert peace sign emoji here).

My families rang in the new year in a beautiful home in Cambria overlooking the Pacific Ocean…all while the majority of the group battled various flu symptoms (I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere). Despite our rocky entrance into 2015, I’m already feeling a sense of lightness and peace for the new year. There are big life changes on the horizon, but my main focus for 2015 is to stop and  savor the little things that make life so wonderful. I spent way too much of last year in a state of panic over the unknown that I often lost sight of all the amazing things that were actually happening. This year, I have grand plans of enjoying craft coffee everyday, taking tons of Zumba classes, finding any and every excuse to meet up with friends, allowing others to help me, taking more photos, sleeping in if it feels good, working on more “just for fun” projects, and getting down on the floor and playing with my baby as often as possible. Ever since Christmas, Briar has been hitting milestones left and right (rolling all over, grabbing at everything, sitting up) and it’s been a huge wakeup call for me to enjoy each and every moment, not just of her life, but of mine as well.

It’s gonna be a good one. I can feel it.

briar at four months.

Posted on: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Briar at Four Months | Ann-Marie Loves

As it turns out, everything I’ve heard about parenting is true.

It’s messy. It’s blissful. It’s exhausting. It’s rewarding. It’s frustrating. It’s thrilling. It’s overwhelming. It’s love beyond measure.

But mostly, it’s the best thing that ever happened.

Briar at Four Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar at four months is officially my favorite version of Briar. She’s blossomed into a tiny human with very distinct opinions about everything.  There’s so much about her that catches John and me by surprise. As two painfully shy kids-turned-sometimes-still-shy adults, we were positive that Briar would be just like us. Ha! Not quite. She’s a social butterfly who will smile and laugh and cuddle with almost everyone. We also assumed that she would be a bit more on the, well, chubby? side of the baby spectrum. Again, not even close. She’s a peanut of a gal, weighing in at just under 13 pounds despite her voracious appetite. And then there’s the debate over who she resembles more. I see so much of John and he sees so much of me. But really, Briar is her own person with her own beautiful look and we could spend all of our days just marveling at her.

Briar at Four Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar is in perpetual motion. She’s a rolling, kicking, grabbing, gnawing machine who shows off her insane baby abs of steel in an attempt to sit herself up (seriously, how are babies so strong?!). She loves toys and books and pacifiers (which thankfully, she’s learned how to pop back into her mouth!). She is almost always smiling and babbling and John and I will do just about ANYTHING to get her to let out a belly laugh. Oh, how we live for those belly laughs.

Briar at Four Months | Ann-Marie Loves

Sleep continues to be a tricky subject. This past week, she began taking long mid-afternoon naps, so that’s been HUGE, but getting her to sleep through the night still feels like a distant dream (cheesy pun intended). Even though she fits in her bassinet, it’s becoming clear that she’s ready for her crib. The only problem is, I’m not ready for her to be in her crib. I love having her in our room and pulling her into bed when she wakes up in the middle of the night. But, I guess this is my first of many lessons in relinquishing control and letting Briar lead the way. Sigh.

Briar at Four Months | Ann-Marie Loves

These past four months have been the fastest, craziest, most fulfilling four months of my life. Briar is growing up so quickly, yet each stage is more fun than the last. And if I think four months is fun, I can only imagine how exciting five months and beyond will be!

That Briar. She’s my favorite.

estate sale tomorrow!

Posted on: Friday, November 21, 2014

Estate Sale This Weekend! | Ann-Marie Loves

My sister-in-law and I are holding an estate sale tomorrow in Ventura County and we will be selling ALL of our good stuff! Like, all of it, you guys. Glassware, linens, wedding decor + supplies (we were married in 2012 + 2013 so it’s all modern!), baby gear, afghans, wall hangings, home decor, women’s clothes + shoes, crafting supplies, and much more! If this sounds good to you, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send you the address. Have a great weekend!

100 days of briar.

Posted on: Monday, November 17, 2014

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday marked 100 days of life for my favorite sunshine girl! ONE HUNDRED DAYS. The baby that I thought I’d be pregnant with for-ev-er is already well into her third month of life. Whoa.

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

It’s been:

100 days of changing diapers.
100 days of snuggling her close.
100 days of fragmented sleep.
100 days of balancing work and motherhood.
100 days of sharing her with friends, family, and Instagram.
100 days of being a mom.
100 days of seeing John as a dad.
100 days of nursing.
100 days of wiping down spit-up messes.
100 days of keeping a pacifier (or five) on my person at all times.
100 days of admiring her tiny little features and big blue eyes.
100 days of trying to figure out which direction to comb her hair (the jury is still out on that one).
100 days of coming up with new nicknames.
100 days of swooning over her funny little noises.
100 days of doing load after load of baby laundry.
100 days of wanting to give her the best life possible.
100 days of attempting tummy time.
100 days of swaddling Briar into a tight little burrito.
100 days of watching a newborn turn into a smiling, laughing, always-active baby.
100 days of wondering about her future.
100 days of playing dress-up (except for that whole summer situation when all she wore was a diaper).
100 days of sending John hourly updates on Briar’s activities.
100 days of snapping photo after countless photo of my growing baby.
100 days of being a family of three.
100 days of laying in bed at night and going through all the iPhone photos I took that day.
100 days of feeling overwhelmed with an equal mix of worry and elation.

100 days of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

100 days of life with our Briar Soleil.


Posted on: Friday, November 14, 2014

28 | Ann-Marie Loves

Photo by La Rousse Photo

Twenty-seven was full of surprises, some of which were amazing and some of which were challenging. It was a year of tremendous growth on nearly every level imaginable. But mostly, it was the year of the BABY. Such a beautiful, crazy ride.

Here are my favorite moments from 27:

1. Briar Soleil. She singlehandedly made 27 a year that I will never, ever forget.
2. Celebrating one year of marriage and ten years of togetherness with my wonderful husband.
3. An impromptu trip to San Diego.
4. Meeting my beautiful niece Luna just an hour after she was born.
5. Blogging regularly for the first half of the year. (I’m determined to get back on track!)
6. Taking Briar to Disneyland for the first time.
7. Decorating a nursery.
8. My baby showers.
9. Daily walks around town.
10. Enjoying lattes from Float, Copa Vida, Jones Coffee Roasters, and Abricott, just to name a few. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE Pasadena?)
11. Feeling the baby kick. There’s nothing else quite like it.
12. Writing four different e-courses (Styling | Shooting | Sharing is still my fave!)
13. Contributing to Elise’s fantastic podcast a handful of times.
14. Finding out Briar was a girl…!
15. Weaving!
16. Sharing our big news with our families.
17. Reliving our wedding on Green Wedding Shoes.
18. Dying over Parenthood! How had I never seen this show before?! Also, Veep was pretty killer.
19. Having a whole new reason to thrift.
20. Trading in my VW Bug for a family-friendly Honda.
21. Downing watermelon like there was no tomorrow.
22. Reading Money, A Love Story and Great with Child; two books I know I’ll revisit time and time again.
23. Listening to this tiny voice all day, everyday. Music to my ears.
24. Reading about my blog in a magazine.
25. Designing holiday stamps while listening to Anthro’s holiday playlist in October. It’s never too early!
26. Making a tutu for my little bunny.
27. Watching my #briarsoleil hashtag on Instagram grow and grow!
28. Discovering my favorite role yet: motherhood.

I’m so excited to wake up tomorrow morning as a 28 year old with my daughter and my husband by my side. I have a good feeling about 28…

six weeks.

Posted on: Friday, September 19, 2014

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Today marks six weeks with Briar and everything has new meaning.

Our days are still punctuated with the standard newborn agenda (feedings, diaper changes, and lots of naps), but at this stage in the game, she’s much more receptive and vocal about these experiences. Despite any sleep deprivation I may have, I’m making a conscious effort to really be present and enjoy each moment + milestone while they’re here. When I went two weeks past my due date, those extra thirteen days felt like an eternity. But six weeks of having her here? LIGHTNING FAST.

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar’s personality is slowly starting to emerge and it’s such an amazing privilege to bear witness to her discovering the world. I try to remember that life is literally BRAND NEW to her. The other day the phone rang and as she looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, I realized she had never heard such a sound before! There’s so much that I take for granted that I’m suddenly revisiting with new eyes.

We’re still working on balancing sleep with feedings, but lately we’ve been staying up until 3 am. It may seem a little crazy, but I really do enjoy that time with her. We listen to the playlist I put together for her (“Isn’t She Lovely” and “St. Judy’s Comet” are in heavy rotation), we snuggle together, and every once in awhile, she let’s me get some work done! I know life won’t always be this way, so I’m rolling with it.

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

At six weeks old, she’s staying awake much longer and learning new “tricks” seemingly overnight. For instance, on Tuesday she could only hold her head up for a few seconds without falling back down. By Wednesday, she could sit upright for long stretches without any additional neck support from John or me! Proud parent moment right there.

Her brown hair is starting to fall out and is giving way to what appears to be blonde roots. It’s hard to tell which parent she looks more like, but with blue eyes, incoming blonde hair, and a fiery temper, I think she’s officially my daughter :)

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Six Weeks of Briar | Ann-Marie Loves

Babies, you guys. Such a wild and wonderful adventure.

how i imagined it to be.

Posted on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So much about these last few weeks did not go as I had envisioned.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that my baby would come early. At 41 weeks and 6 days, she certainly had other plans.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the doctor I had seen my entire pregnancy would be the one to deliver my baby. She was not (even doctors need to take family vacations). Instead it was the most amazing, encouraging doctor who totally went above and beyond to make sure I was taken care of. He’s truly the best (and definitely the person I want to deliver all my future babies!).

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that I would go into labor naturally and John would have to rush me to the hospital in the middle of the night. Instead, I was induced in the middle of the afternoon on a random Thursday. I had a doctor’s appointment at 11 am and by 2:45 pm, I was hooked up to pitocin and starting my 17 hour labor.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that labor would be blindingly painful from start to finish. While it was painful at times, the rest of it was amazingly peaceful and relaxing thanks to the dream drug known as the EPIDURAL. I was able to sleep and allow my body to do what it needed to do without my interfering. The craziest thing is, while I remember certain parts being excruciating, within hours of giving birth, I couldn’t even tell you what the pain felt like. The amnesia is REAL.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined I would burst into tears of joy upon meeting my baby for the first time. While there was certainly intense joy, I was primarily overcome with a different emotion: RELIEF. I remember seeing Briar as they placed her on my chest and saying “OMG! It’s a baby!” and feeling so relieved that she was finally out. It was a magical moment, tears or no tears.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that staying in a hospital would be scary. Instead it was completely mundane, if not boring. All of my nurses and doctors were incredible, but being stuck in a cramped little room for two days was enough to make John and me go stir crazy.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that John and I would have a black-haired baby. Ha! Not quite. Briar was born with light brown hair and a full head of blonde highlights. With each new day, her hair gets blonder and blonder. Look at my pale genes go!

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the recovery process would be brutal. Periodically it’s super uncomfortable and inconvenient, but for the most part, it’s completely manageable. P.S. I discovered that Boppy pillows aren’t just useful for nursing, they’re also the perfect shape and size for new mamas to sit on ;)

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that the exhaustion of caring for a newborn would render me useless in all other areas of life. Thanks in a VERY LARGE part to my doting husband, I’m tired but not entirely beat. By alternating nursing with pumping, I’m able to split the workload with John and get in 3-4 hour stretches of sleep at night. Whenever I find it particularly hard to get out of bed for another feeding, I remind myself that this phase is short-lived and eventually I will sleep again.

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that breast feeding would be painful. I was totally right…and wrong. The first few days were rough. I started to dread feeding time as I braced myself for the pain of the baby latching on. But after strictly pumping for a day or two and giving my poor chest a much-needed reprieve, I was ready to try traditional feeding again. And what do you know…it wasn’t painful anymore!

Thoughts on Having a Baby | Ann-Marie Loves

I always imagined that I wouldn’t enjoy the newborn phase very much. Instead, I love love love it. I want to keep my little one a tiny seven pound human as long as possible! ;)

P.S. Thank you so much for all of your well-wishes! John and I are having the best time being parents to our sweet little Briar!

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