Entries Tagged as 'adventures'

landon’s birth story.

Posted on: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

The day before I was induced with Landon, I had a regular doctor appointment at which my blood pressure was a little too high for the doctor’s liking. He calmly reassured me that he didn’t think the baby or I were in any immediate danger but he wanted to rule out the possibility of preeclampsia. So, I was admitted to the hospital for testing. I definitely started panicking…I was nowhere near ready! I didn’t have a bag packed, our house was a freaking disaster, and I worried that Briar would think I had abandoned her. As soon as I got settled in the triage room, my blood pressure returned to a normal level (of course) and stayed that way for a few hours so I was sent home. The next day I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and yet again, my blood pressure was high. This time I was much better prepared for what was in store. My bags were packed, the house was in better condition, and I had given Briar extra love and attention that morning. My doctor asked me how I felt about an induction now that I was 2 for 2 in terms of high blood pressure and I was totally game. He called the hospital to confirm the details and within a few hours, I was hooked up to pitocin and feeling eager to start the process!

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

My labor was a dream (seriously!) I made sure to get the epidural before they broke my water and it was smooth sailing nearly the entire thirteen hours. I felt a lot of pressure in my back but nothing too painful until the very end. Just the week before, I had an ultrasound that showed that Landon was sunny side up (head down, facing my stomach) and I was pretty sure he was still in that position based on the location of the pressure. About two hours before the pushing phase, the epidural had mostly worn off and I could really feel the contractions rolling in. While it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of the experience, I remained in control of my mental state and trusted that my body was doing what it was designed to do. I did my best to relax my body (softening my jaw, letting my limbs fall limp) and envisioned the contractions not as painful but rather as “sensations” that would pass just as quickly as they came. I knew I had to get through at least an hour of constant contractions before my doctor would be there and this mindset totally worked. Finally, it was time to push! The delivery was challenging but very relaxed and calm. After 45 minutes, the doctor handed him to me and I was instantly in love. He was perfect! All those days of worrying about what it meant to be having a boy instantly disappeared. I was completely and utterly smitten.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

Sadly, the delivery was much harder on Landon than anyone could have guessed. He came out at an awkward angle, thus creating a large hematoma on the right side of his head which eventually lead to jaundice. He was also in respiratory distress and needed to be on a CPAP immediately (hence the NICU admittance). John and I had no idea what was going on. It was very disorienting as we watched the delivery room immediately fill with nurses and doctors and then saw our baby being whisked away.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

The hardest part of the process was not knowing what to expect. Despite nearly every nurse telling us that he would be going home soon, no doctor was willing to sign off on him being discharged. In the grand scheme of it all, we were the lucky ones. As I looked around the room of incubators filled with babies much too young to be in the outside world, I knew Landon was just fine. At 9 pounds, he certainly was the biggest — and only full term — baby there. But still. It was hard to go back to our rooms without a baby nestled between us. It was hard to hold him while he was tethered to wires. It was hard to leave the hospital without a baby in my arms. It was hard to be away from Briar for so long since she was too young to come visit him in the NICU. It was hard to reconcile with my vision of how the first few days would look. I felt so guilty about the delivery: what could I have done differently to avoid this situation altogether? This was all my fault! I was a mess, to say the least.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

The recovery process is uncomfortable at best. Sitting down, walking, and — god forbid — sneezing are suddenly big productions. If there was a bright side to having Landon in the NICU, it was the fact that I had to get up and walk quite a bit starting on day one. There was no time to focus on my own discomfort. I was much more concerned about my baby’s well being and doing everything in my power to bring him home.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

There were also many other were bright spots amidst the stress of the situation. We were given the best care possible by the kindest nurses and doctors who treated us with the utmost respect and sympathy. After Landon was born and taken to the NICU, one of my nurses and my doctor made sure to find out was happening so they could come back to the delivery room and hold my hand and reassure me that everything was going to be okay. They didn’t have to do that but it meant so much to me. There were moments where John made me laugh until I cried. We were able to get a lot more rest than we would have if Landon had been in the recovery room with us. We learned a ton about babies and I had a wonderful meeting with a lactation consultant whom, despite my nineteen months of breastfeeding Briar, still opened my eyes to different ways of overcoming nursing struggles.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

Nursing has been a breeze, THANKFULLY, in spite of the obstacles it took to get him home. I wasn’t allowed to nurse him on the first day and that was one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the whole situation. I feared that he wouldn’t be receptive to breastfeeding after being on bottles from birth but I was happily mistaken. Landon took right to nursing and I savored every opportunity I was given while he was in the NICU.

Landon's Birth Story | Ann-Marie Loves

When he was finally discharged on day four, we excitedly headed to my parents’ house to introduce Briar to her new brother. I had planned out both babies’ outfits, I had the camera charged, and I couldn’t wait to capture the big introduction. But by the time we got there, the sun had gone down and as luck would have it, the power had gone out on their street! So yet again, I had to laugh at the irony of the situation and embrace the fact that Briar and Landon were meeting for the first time by the light of iPhone flashlights. Ha! Life, you guys. That’s what I get for making plans!

P.S. As soon as we left the hospital, I had that crazy feeling of “I can’t wait to do this again!” that I had after Briar’s birth. I mean, it’s the craziest, most painful, most emotionally-charged experience on the planet but there is NOTHING like it. When I told John, he looked at me in horror. Ha! Don’t worry guys. If there’s a baby number three (which I think there will be), he or she won’t be here for a few more years ;)

he’s here!

Posted on: Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Landon Phoenix is Here! | Ann-Marie Loves

He’s here!

Landon Phoenix arrived two weeks ago today at 7:07 AM and life has been a whirlwind (the best kind, of course!) ever since! My labor and delivery were relaxed and wonderful but my poor baby ended up in the NICU for four days, beginning just a few minutes after his arrival. It was certainly not how I envisioned things going, but thankfully those four days flew by and now we are making up for lost time by showering him with nonstop kisses and snuggles. I am also happy to report that any doubts and reservations I had about having a son disappeared the second I laid eyes on him; I fell madly in love with my little Landon instantly!

P.S. I’ll be sharing more about his arrival and how we are settling in to life with two kids very soon! xo!

settling in.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend we moved to a new place and I’ve been feeling all the emotions (as you do when you’re about to pop out another human being). It’s SO EXCITING to have a cute little place to call our own. I am so eager to get everything unpacked and make it feel like home, I just wish my giant pregnant body could move a little faster!

Ann-Marie Loves

John and I have been agonizing over where we wanted to start this next chapter of our lives for months. We both work in Los Angeles but our families live in the suburbs just outside of the city limits so we were torn over what we should do. Was it worth it to have a shorter commute but pay more in rent and daycare (LA is expensive!)? Or was it worth it to be closer to grandparents and pay a little less but spend more time fighting traffic everyday? Trust me, it was a huge debate that I thought would never end. Finally, after a hormonally-fueled meltdown, I decided that we needed to stay close to family at this stage in our lives. John agreed. Once we made our decision, we found a place almost instantly and the two of us breathed a collective sigh of relief. Plus, we have a washer / dryer AND a dishwasher!! Basically, I’m high on rental life right now.

Ann-Marie Loves

I’m already so grateful that we prioritized staying close to grandparents because I want to ensure that Briar maintains the slightest shred of normalcy as we throw curveballs her way over the next few weeks. She has a new home with a new bed and will have a new brother in a matter of days. It’s a lot for me (an almost thirty year old) to wrap my brain around; I can only imagine how overwhelming it is for a toddler! But like every significant change before, I know she will roll with the punches better than her dad or myself! I envy that kind of blind faith that comes with childhood.

Ann-Marie Loves

I’m also kicking myself a little bit for spending so much of this summer feeling stressed about the future and how things would (if ever!) come together. It’s times like these when I wish I had the foresight to trust in the universe and just enjoy each stage (not matter how “imperfect”). Worrying is such an epic waste of precious energy.

Note to self: GO WITH THE FLOW.

backyard camping + kohl’s giveaway.

Posted on: Friday, July 22, 2016

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

I grew up camping fairly often, both with my family and with Girl Scouts, and I have incredible memories of sitting around campfires, sleeping in tents, and waking up to fresh air. There’s nothing quite like spending time in the great outdoors, yet for some reason I’ve become that person that values warm showers and air conditioning over tasty s’mores and sleeping under the stars. However! I am determined to give camping another go simply because I know Briar will absolutely LOVE it. That girl has never met a pile of dirt that she didn’t love and I owe it to her to give her as many outdoor experiences as possible.

So while I warm up to the idea of spending a few nights in nature, I’ve decided we can tackle the next best thing: backyard camping! In partnership with Kohl’s, we pulled together our camping essentials and “roughed” it in the backyard for a fun-filled adventure.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

First things first: coffee!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Using the impossibly cool blue enamelware percolator + mugs from Stansport, I was able to enjoy a fresh batch of coffee while Briar enjoyed a cold mug of milk.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Things were off to a very good start.

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We put together a little dining area and enjoyed popcorn made with Stanley’s 13-piece prep and cook mess set. Briar was all about the popcorn situation. She loved sneaking in bites and scooping spoonfuls back and forth between the bowls using the big ladle (which she quickly adopted as her own).

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Cheers to dining al fresco!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

The ciao! baby portable high chair proved to be super helpful when it came to feeding this little gal. The cup holder kept her water bottle close at hand and the easy-to-clean surface was perfect for quick clean-up after polishing off a whole bowl of popcorn!

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

In addition to acting as the perfect makeshift table, the Stanley 30-quart cooler kept our beverages nice and cool during a blazing hot summer day.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Okay, how awesome is this tent?! I love the retro feel and was pleasantly surprised with how roomy it was inside! It felt very Moonrise Kingdom. Briar was also a big fan of turning the LED lantern on and off, on and off…

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

We quickly made ourselves right at home and read Briar’s favorite stories by the light of the lantern. It was such a relaxing evening and I loved having that cuddle time with my girl outside while a cool breeze blew through our tent.

Ann-Marie Loves x Kohl's Camping Collaboration

Our first camping experience was a success! I’m feeling a little more confident now about taking our adventures on the road to a more remote destination. Three cheers for the great outdoors!

 

Now it’s your turn to stock up on camping goods! Click HERE be entered to win a $50 Kohl’s gift card! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 8/1/16 at 11:59:59 p.m. PT. Open to legal residents of the US/DC who are 18+ yrs of age. For full details see Official Rules. Good luck! Winners will be contacted on or about August 8th.

Thank you to Kohl’s for collaboration on this post. I was compensated and received products from Kohl’s Camping department for my review, but all opinions and experiences are solely my own.

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santa barbara museum of natural history.

Posted on: Monday, July 18, 2016

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

This past weekend was one for the books! On Friday, my mom and Briar and I took our third trip to Disneyland for the week (had to maximize my annual pass until it expired!). Then on Saturday we went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (more about that below!). And finally, on Sunday my mom and I saw the final showing of Beautiful at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Whew!

Now onto the museum. First of all, I have no idea what it is, but the lighting in Santa Barbara is always incredible. Every time we’re there, I can’t help but stage a photo shoot. My mom and brother came with, so it was extra nice to pass the camera to them and sneak in a few family photos. Here are some of my favorite captures from the day:

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

I was more than happy to let John chase the toddler around while I took photos ;)

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Not too shabby for a 29 week bump photo backdrop, eh?

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar was not so sure about the real-life dioramas – haha!

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History | Ann-Marie Loves

The highlight of Briar’s day was definitely exploring the “Museum Backyard” where she was able to play with dirt, rocks, and water to her heart’s content. I loved watching her get down and dirty in her dress and I really enjoyed this sentiment that was tied to a tree:

The Backyard is a space for children to learn. Expect trial and error. Give your child a chance to meet challenges and assess risk. This is how kids develop self confidence. Let them figure things out for themselves. Problem solving is good for kids. It’s another way to develop self-confidence. Your choice of words can make a big difference. Instead of “be careful” which expresses your fears, tell your kids to “be smart” or “be aware.” Cuts, bumps, and bruises are a normal part of childhood. If your child has an accident, don’t panic. Children read you! When the child is calm, ask “what did you learn?” They will tell you. Expect children to learn from their mistakes. Don’t pass your fears on to your kids. Nature is amazing and kids are naturally curious. Allow them the experience without your judgment. Relax and let your kids decide what they want to do. Kids that experience non-structured play in natural settings are smarter, happier, and healthier.

YES. YES. YES.

summer in the pool.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

With summer in full-swing here in Southern California, we are spending our days underwater. If you’re a long-time reader, then you already know that summer is, well…not exactly my favorite season. It’s especially tricky to get through those endless heatwaves while pregnant and constantly sweating. Speaking of sweating, I have a theory (and please chime in and let me know your thoughts!): people that DON’T sweat tend to love summer while people that DO sweat tend to despise the summer. I mean, it makes sense right?

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

But I digress!

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

All of this is to say, Briar and I are living in the pool. We wake up, have breakfast, and then immediately throw on our swimsuits and sunscreen and head outside for a dip. I am not usually a huge fan of hanging out in the pool all day (I always feel like I could be doing something more productive), but Briar’s infectious love of swimming and my need to cool down + let my pregnant body feel weightless for a bit is really turning me into a regular pool-goer! We did mommy + me swim lessons in May and while I wouldn’t say she is a proficient swimmer just yet, her skills continue to grow and impress me everyday! It’s so awesome to watch these tiny little people morph into capable humans.

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Summer in the Pool | Ann-Marie Loves

Plus, the very best part of all is that the time spent in the sun + the water almost always leads to Briar taking a looooong nap in the afternoon (sometimes she will sleep as long as 3.5 hours…!). And that, my friends, is the REAL gift that keeps on giving.

Briar’s Swimsuit // Briar’s Sunglasses // My Sunglasses

nana + briar bake chocolate chip cookies.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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We’ve been staying with my parents while we figure out our next move and while it’s not always ideal, there are definitely some perks. Case in point: Nana’s famous chocolate chip cookies! Last week while I was at work, my mom sent me photos of Briar helping her bake cookies (while wearing her new apron, of course). First of all, I couldn’t get over how cute Briar looked, but secondly, it totally opened my eyes to all the new things we can do together now that she is almost two years old! (I need to remember to include her in more activities!) So yesterday, Briar got back in the kitchen to help Nana with another batch of chocolate chip cookies and this time I was there to capture the process:

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I was so impressed with how serious and focused she was! I am not a huge fan of baking (I am a huge fan of eating baked goods, however), so here’s hoping she takes after my mom and carries on the chocolate chip cookie legacy!

travel town.

Posted on: Monday, July 4, 2016

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

After talking about taking a trip to Travel Town for months, John and I finally took Briar yesterday and had so much fun! It’s a free open air museum situated in Griffith Park with lots of old trains and plenty of land to explore. Briar was beyond thrilled to be out of the stroller and able to run herself silly and I was more than happy to capture every moment with my camera!

Like I mentioned before, John and I are trying to squeeze in as many adventures with Briar as our only babe before the next one arrives in a few short months. She has thankfully turned out to be an amazing little travel companion (knock on wood that the second one is just as laidback!) who is at the perfect age for really appreciating new experiences. Of course we will continue to go on fun day trips when the little guy makes his appearance (mama bear needs to get out of the house!) but we know it will never be the same as it is right now.

We had the best time at Travel Town and can’t wait to go back when the weather cools down a bit! Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip:

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

Travel Town | Ann-Marie Loves

weekend trip to san luis obispo.

Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

There’s nothing quite like a physical change of scenery to boost my mood and give me a fresh perspective. This past weekend, John and I spent a night up in San Luis Obispo and we had the best time. We’re both big fans of the central coast and SLO is the perfect mix of relaxing and stimulating.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

On the way up the coast, we stopped off in Santa Barbara for a quick coffee break at The French Press. I love having a running list of coffee shops to visit everywhere I travel! (What’s your favorite coffee shop? I want to add it to my list!)

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Scout Coffee is a must if you’re anywhere near San Luis Obispo. It’s nestled in the perfect spot downtown and has the cutest decor and some of the best lattes I’ve tasted! I kind of want to move in.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Apple cider at the Apple Farm…it tasted just as good as it smelled! It was a pretty chilly weekend up in SLO so a warm drink hit the spot.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

John and I have been on a major pot pie kick lately so it was a no-brainer that I would order one at the Apple Farm. Oh man, it was good. 

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

So happy to travel through life with this guy. We were reminiscing about different memories throughout our relationship and we came to the (startling!) realization that this year will mark twelve years together. TWELVE! I have no idea where the time has gone but it’s been an amazing adventure.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Spring in SLO is gorgeous. Everything is in bloom and it’s not too hot yet and it makes me want to move up there ASAP! We saw a young family of four going for a bike ride around town (mom was towing the baby and the dad was sharing a cool tandem bike with the little girl) and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I suddenly had serious aspirations to BE them one day soon! Now I just have to convince John to move with me to a cute small town where we can live out my bike riding dreams…

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

We stumbled upon Avila Valley Barn while driving around and it was such a good find! I stocked up on fresh peaches, John picked up a chipotle ketchup, and we ordered an olallieberry-flavored lemonade to share (so good!). I always feel like spontaneous detours make for the best memories.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

slo-Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Feeling large and in charge these days. This striped maternity dress from Target is getting lots of mileage! And of course, I can’t seem to take off my denim jacket either. Basically, I wear some version of this outfit every single day.

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

Weekend Getaway to San Luis Obispo | Ann-Marie Loves

One night away from Briar is the perfect amount of time to reconnect with my husband and make us miss that little bub! Thank goodness for willing babysitters (aka Nana + Papa) who take such good care of Briar so we can enjoy our trip worry-free :)

thank you!

Posted on: Friday, April 1, 2016

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Happy Friday! Thank you so much for your sweet comments on my last post…I loved reading each and every one of them. I’m now in the second trimester and feeling pretty darn good. My energy is returning, my creativity is making a comeback, and exciting things are on the horizon. Today Briar and I are headed to Disneyland and are looking forward to a fun day at our favorite place! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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