Entries Tagged as 'life happens'

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.

briar’s first birthday!

Posted on: Monday, August 10, 2015

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

On Saturday, we celebrated Briar’s first birthday in my parents’ backyard. I have to say, as excited as I was to throw Briar a party, I was dreading the fact that my little baby was officially making the jump from infant to toddler. I may or may not have cried my eyes out the night before as I was putting her to bed, but by Saturday morning, I felt like a new person with a renewed excitement for all the good things still to come. Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

We had a loose “summer fun” theme for the party, so I made wooden cacti, a paper watermelon banner, colorful tissue paper tassels, and a few other handmade details. I also busted out the cotton canvas teepee, my favorite colorful rug (a Rose Bowl find!), a thrifted rattan horse rocker, and various inflatable toys.

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar has never met a baked good that she didn’t like, so to have a whole cupcake to herself? Best day ever. She dove right in and didn’t stop until she was completely covered in frosting.

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

My favorite part of the party decor was definitely the wall of Briar photos from her first year of life. I had such a great time going through thousands of photos on my computer, having my favorites printed, and then taping them up on the wall. Being able to see a whole entire year’s worth of memories in one place is pretty incredible. I definitely want to do this every year!

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves
Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

However, the real hit of the party was most certainly the water table! Every time I looked over, there were babies screaming and splashing and living it up over at that table. (I seriously think it’s one of our best investments in baby gear thus far!)

Briar's First Birthday | Ann-Marie Loves

Briar skipped her nap, ate a whole chocolate cupcake, and got to celebrate her birthday with her favorite people…it was a good day, indeed! But I think the best part of all was that she slept through the night (the whole night!) following the party! I don’t want to jinx anything, but I sure hope this habit sticks!

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has come and gone, but I’m so grateful that we made it this far. John and I can’t remember life before we had our sweet girl!

the first year of motherhood.

Posted on: Friday, August 7, 2015

The First Year of Motherhood | Ann-Marie Loves

Tomorrow my baby will be ONE.

I know everyone says the first year flies by in the blink of an eye, but I really had no clue just how right they were until I lived it myself. I still distinctly remember the way it felt to be pregnant with her. I remember the nervous / excited energy I felt as I was admitted to the hospital on that Thursday afternoon. I remember seeing her face for the first time and trying to comprehend that she was mine. I remember bringing her home and feeling the reality of motherhood quickly sink in. It’s been a really good year. The hardest year of my life, hands down, but also a really good year.

Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a first-time mom over the past 365 days:

Trust that you will rise to the occasion. The logistics of giving birth (ouch), and learning to breastfeed (ouch again), and not sleeping through the night for an entire year (super ouch) are majorly daunting. There were many times that I could hardly wrap my brain around the tasks at hand, but somehow, some way, I rose to the occasion and continued to do so day after day, night after night. Trust that your body and your instincts will not steer you in the wrong direction.

It’s harder and easier than you could ever imagine. I swear that I am constantly reflecting on this simple statement. I honestly thought that working from home while watching a small baby would be fairly simple (“I’ll just work when the baby sleeps!”), but it turned out to be way trickier than I could have predicted. Briar has never been a consistent sleeper for naps or at night, so finding a good balance between work and motherhood has been my biggest challenge thus far. On the other hand, I thought that it would be a huge production every time I had to leave the house with the baby in tow, but it’s actually pretty easy! She’s a great little traveler and I enjoy having her as my sidekick wherever we go. Needless to say, motherhood is full of surprises at every turn!

Get outside every single day. In those first few weeks (and months!), it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the nonstop care of a newborn and lose track of the outside world. I found that getting fresh air at least once a day, whether it was for a long walk (my favorite) or just a quick stroll to grab coffee, was not only a necessity for my mental health, but it did — and continues to do — wonders for Briar, too. Those walls start to close in on you pretty fast if you stay cooped up inside for too long.

The baby fever doesn’t go away. From the day we brought Briar home the hospital, I’ve had crazy baby fever for more babies! I think the whole experience of growing a baby, having a baby, and then watching that child grow into a little person is so intoxicating that I can’t help but want to do it over and over again! (The sleepless nights, however…not so much.)

Take the classes. John and I took a few different classes offered by our hospital prior to Briar’s arrival and we both loved them. It’s not so much that you’ll remember everything or that you’ll be an inadequate parent if you skip out, but it was nice for us to immerse ourselves in baby culture with other soon-to-be-parents. Plus, on our breaks we ate at the amazing (and amazingly cheap!) cafeteria. Win win ;)

Do what works for YOU. There’s so much societal pressure to be a “perfect” mom and to do everything “right,” but really, what does that even mean?! Since we are all approaching life from a different perspective, it’s impossible for us to follow the same path as individuals, much less as mothers. Follow your own trail and figure out what works best for you and your baby. No comparisons necessary.

Ask for help. Don’t be a hero. Ask for help OFTEN. You need that break, not only so you can recharge your own batteries but so you can be more present and engaged with your baby as well.

It just gets better and better (seriously!). For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had momentary pangs of sadness over the fact that Briar is almost a toddler and no longer my tiny little newborn. But for the most part, I LOVE each new phase even more than the last. When she laughed for the first time, I thought it would never get any better. And then she started crawling! And saying words! And now walking! Watching her morph into a real human with distinct opinions and a strong personality has been a total JOY. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I am so happy / proud / overwhelmed with love for my Briar Bear. Happy birthday, baby girl!

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

as of late | july edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As of Late | July Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Serious Sally on the Fourth of July – ha!

Spending many an afternoon in my parents’ pool with my little fish. My “mom” bathing suit sure is getting a lot of good use!

Enjoying weekly e-mails from Hannah Brencher. She is killing it with the inspiration vibes.

Loving Hey Claire’s YouTube channel. Even though I’m not much for makeup tutorials, I love her storytelling abilities and her clean aesthetic. (P.S. I made a cameo in Amy’s video!)

Wearing one of two outfits most days: this neon pink workout top with leggings or any shirt with my Anthro lounge pants. I’m a work at home mom, guys. Comfort is KING.

Feeling more tired now than I was when Briar was a newborn; the only difference is I’ve become much more adept at pushing through the exhaustion! She’s still waking up 1-2 times a night (LORD BEER ME STRENGTH), so it’s safe to say I haven’t had a full night of sleep in almost a year. Oh em gee.

Listening to Totally Mommy nonstop. It’s my new podcast jam.

Dreaming of taking Briar on a bike ride…while protecting her noggin with this watermelon helmet!

Combing Pinterest and Instagram for birthday party ideas. I can never get enough!

Craving a really good fictional read that I can get lost in. Any suggestions?

Feeling so grateful to all of you who have purchased my new (and old!) digital stamps. It’s so fun to think that my designs are continuing to live on!

Enjoying golden hour walks with my best gal and my iPhone close at hand so I can capture all the gorgeous flowers in bloom!

Thinking back on this time last year when I was “willing” Briar to make her appearance on dates that I thought would make for pretty-sounding birthdays: July 14th, July 22nd, or her due date, July 26th. Of course, she didn’t arrive until AUGUST 8TH, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Scouting out amazing photo locations for future shoots. If you or anyone you know is in need of a photographer, send me an e-mail! :)

workspace wednesday | working with amy.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Working With Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

At least once a week, I drop Briar off with one of her grandparents and jump in the car (by myself! ahhhhh!) to spend the day working with Amy in her studio. As much as I love being able to work from home and stay with Briar, I NEED this day to get out of the house, have inspiring conversations with one of my favorite creative people, and feel like a productive member of society again. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously: I had no idea how hard it would be to balance work and baby. Not only is it tricky in terms of finding the time to get assignments completed while still giving Briar my undivided attention, but it’s incredibly draining on me mentally and emotionally.

However, I’ve discovered that all of these stresses are relieved and put into perspective by doing one simple thing: working outside the house once a week. It really is as easy as that. Also, as if mental health wasn’t incentive enough to brave traffic on the 405, I work with Amy on Thursdays, which means that two of my favorite podcasts (The Lively Show and One Part Podcast) release their latest episode that morning. Thursday are OFFICIALLY my favorite.

baby registry essentials.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Baby Registry Essentials | Ann-Marie Loves

Now that I have almost a year of parenting under my belt (what???), I feel like I have a pretty clear understanding of which items I consider to be essential in caring for an infant. Life most first-time moms, I looked to others to help me navigate the overwhelming world of baby products…there are so many options, it’s a wonder that anyone can make a decision! Here are the items that have made my life easier over the past eleven months:

Baby Registry Essentials | Ann-Marie Loves

1. Britax Travel System. I did a lot of research when I was car seat and stroller shopping, and given our budget (less than $500) and my desire to have an all-in-one travel system (car seat, base, and stroller in one), I decided on the Britax B-Agile stroller and B-Safe car seat. I love the Britax because it’s easy to maneuver, it folds up with one pull of a strap, and it’s a cinch to get the car seat on and off of it. I also love that the stroller works from infanthood well into toddlerhood. I think the biggest selling point for me was the fact that I didn’t have to buy any extra attachments to connect the car seat to the stroller; everything I needed was included in the travel system. If you have more than one vehicle in your family, I would highly recommend purchasing an extra car seat base so you can easily move the baby from one car to the other without the hassle of base reinstallation. (When we have baby number two, we plan on getting the Britax B-Ready stroller since it can accommodate more than one seat!)

2. Soft Gear Changing Mat. When I was in the market for a changing pad, I wanted something that would make for easy clean-up and not require any extra laundry, so when I discovered this particular model, I was sold. We have loved ours since the day we brought Briar home from the hospital. It cleans like a dream, it doesn’t slide around on the table, and it adds a fun pop of color to the nursery.

3. Ergobaby Carrier and Boba WrapThese two items are serious lifesavers, especially since I am a work-at-home mom who needs to be hands-free most of the time. I first invested in the Ergo (assuming that I would only need one carrier) but even with the infant insert, it felt way too cumbersome for Briar’s tiny little body during the first three or so months. That’s when I decided to try out a wrap and thankfully, it turned out to be exactly what we needed. The snug fit and cozy fabric were perfect for keeping Briar close without being too overwhelming. However, as soon as Briar got a little bigger and developed neck strength, the Ergo became our mainstay. It’s super easy to pop on and off and the weight feels evenly distributed.

4. Fisher-Price Whale of a Tub. We started off by bathing Briar in a Puj, but despite the amazing concept (seriously, genius!), our sinks were not ideal for that style of tub. That’s when we decided to try out the whale tub. Sure, it’s bright and clunky (everything I was hoping to avoid in baby products), but it has seamlessly transitioned from newborn to infant and beyond! (While you’re at it, be sure to add baby-friendly bath products to your list. I recommend anything made by California Baby and Honest!)

5. Baby Gap Footed One Piece Pajamas. Sometimes I feel like Briar’s personal thermostat; I’m constantly checking her feet and hands to make sure they are not cold! This is why I love Baby Gap’s footed pajamas. I never have to worry about Briar’s feet escaping her blanket and freezing in the middle of the night. Another reason why I prefer these soft and snuggly pajamas over others? The zipper! I can’t even begin to tell you how tedious snaps can be during a 3 am diaper change…! Stock up on zippered pajamas.

6. Summer Infant In-View Digital Color Monitor. Despite my initial hesitation to move Briar to her crib, I felt a lot more comfortable leaving her in the other room knowing that I could watch and hear her on the monitor. This particular model isn’t anything too fancy, but it has worked perfectly for us. I love being able to see Briar when she wakes up in the middle of the night and gauge whether or not she needs me without having to get out of bed. (My only complaint about it is that the battery dies fast, so in order to get through a whole night, I leave it plugged in to the charger. It’s not a huge issue, but can be tricky if your bed isn’t near an outlet.)

7. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. Buy as many of these as you possibly can! I remember thinking the price point was a little steep for such thin, gauzy blankets, but I assure you: it is money well spent. Briar was born at the height of the summer heat, so we put her in a diaper and then swaddled her in an Aden + Anais blanket every single scorching night. I was so terrified that she would overheat, but she did great! Even if your baby is born in the dead of winter, they are amazing swaddle blankets and can also be used as burp cloths, car seat covers, changing pads on the go, and nursing covers.

8. Mini Speakers + iPod. There was much trial and error when it came to finding the right “white noise” system for Briar. We were gifted the Sleep Sheep and as adorable as it is, the sound only plays for 45 minutes. So then we tried playing a lullaby video from YouTube on my iPad, but it would inevitably turn off at some point during the night. Finally, I decided to dust off my old iPod, invest in $15 speakers, and play an ocean waves track on repeat all night long…bingo! Even though Briar still doesn’t sleep through the night, the ocean sounds definitely muffle outside noise when when the rest of us are still awake.

9. IKEA Antilop High Chair. In my experience, you don’t need a fancy high chair with all the bells and whistles. Babies really just need a safe and sturdy place to sit and learn to eat table food, hence, the $20 IKEA high chair. Money well spent.

– Other items to note: a breast pump (find out if your insurance will provide one for you before you purchase! Mine was 100% covered); grooming kit, thermometer, and infant Tylenol (these are the kinds of things you will want on hand!); a cute (but not cutesy!) baby book; and most importantly…diapers, diapers, and more diapers!

as of late | june edition.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 23, 2015

As of Late | June Edition | Ann-Marie Loves

Banana romper for the win!

Writing in my journal again and feeling clarity about the things I want for my life.

Wearing these clearanced Anthro pants, um, everyday? They’re so comfy!

Dreaming up Briar’s first birthday party. (I can’t even believe it’s already that time…!)

Catching up on the Real Housewives of New York. Because these are the kinds of things that I do with my life.

Writing out a summer bucket list.

Planning on spending this summer in the pool. Not only am I obsessed with the way Briar looks in her cute swimsuits, but the combination of the water and the sun knocks her out for almost a full night of sleep! My least favorite season just might become my new favorite ;)

Making my own iced coffee (recipe this week!) and drinking it whenever I need an afternoon pick me up. It is WONDERFUL.

Going for daily walks at golden hour and taking photos of all the flowers glowing at sunset. It’s sort of my new thing.

Listening to Atomic Moms, Jonathan Foust, and Totally Mommy / Totally Married these days. Having several episodes of new-to-me podcasts in my queue is kind of my dream come true.

Feeling so grateful that Briar survived her first (and hopefully last!) double ear infection. She’s been sick a handful of times in her short ten months, but never with high fevers and zero energy. My poor baby.

Wearing my Birks again this summer and feeling so grateful that a.) they got me through the swollen feet phase of pregnancy (the only shoes I could wear!), b.) they are comfortable as HECK, and c.) they are miraculously still in style. I’m a Birks believer.

Switching up the furniture arrangement in our bedroom and feeling new energy flowing through.

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