Casual

A SEASON FOR GIVING

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, I’ve been reflecting on all that I am grateful for. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the prep for the holidays, and forget to slow down a bit and really give thanks. The toy magazines have started showing up in the mailbox, and my boys are already pouring through them circling things they want for Christmas. I am all about making Christmas lists, but I want to make sure I instill a deep sense of gratitude in my boys for what they already have. I want to make sure they learn the importance of giving back to those less fortunate.

Fall family casual look.

ON ME: GREY WOOL SNEAKERS c/o TOMS | GREY JOGGER SWEATPANTS | WHITE TEE | JEAN JACKET

ON BRADLEY: GREY SLIP ONS c/o TOMS | PLAID BUTTON UP | GREY TEE SHIRT | BLACK PANTS 

ON CASH: WOOL HERRINGBONE SNEAKERS c/o TOMS | SIMILAR JACKET | GREY TOP | BLACK JEANS

ON ELI: LEATHER VELCRO BOOTS c/o TOMS | SIMILAR SWEATER | JEANS
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Fall family casual look.

Fall family casual look.

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Fall family casual look with TOMS shoes.

Fall family casual look.

Fall family casual look.

Fall family casual look.

Fall family casual look.

About this time each year I look around at all the toys and stuff we have accumulated. I have my kids fill up a bag of toys they no longer use and we give it to charity. It clears up much needed space in our little home, and it makes them feel good about giving to others. I’m getting ready to have the boys do it again this week.

Last year at Thanksgiving, Bradley put all of the coins from his piggy bank into a ziplock bag and had me drive around to find a homeless man that he could give them to. We found a man in a wheelchair outside of Target. Bradley walked right up to him and handed him his heavy plastic bag, filled with $15 in coins of his own money. It was all his idea, and he was beaming the rest of the day. It is one of my proudest mommy moments to date. That kid has a heart of gold, and I sure learned a lot from him that day.

My boys and I have always been big fans of TOMS. They were one of the first pairs of shoes we bought when Bradley was a baby, and he wore them completely out! TOMS has an incredible selection of cute kids shoes in styles I didn’t even realize that they made (I mean…Eli’s little leather shoes are just too much!). I am also a huge supporter of TOMS because of their One for One program. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. One for one. Telling my kids about the TOMS One for One program was a great way to get them in the spirit of giving and thinking of others this year. With almost every minute of every day packed with to-do’s, it’s a good feeling knowing that TOMS helped me give a little extra just by getting the boys new shoes for their growing feet. What a brilliant program!

Make sure you check out the cute new selections TOMS has for babies and kids! They would make perfect Christmas gifts!

 

in partnership with TOMS  |  photography by Kendra Maarse 

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Family

UNDER THE SEA HALLOWEEN

Under the sea family Halloween costume.

Happy Halloween! I always say that Halloween is my secret favorite holiday. I look forward to it so much! We are huge fans of dressing up, and this year Bradley came up with the idea to do and underwater theme, so we went with it! I love my little sea turtle, deep sea divers and my handsome shark (who is always the best sport for dressing up!)

A mermaid and baby sea turtle costume.

Deep sea divers + shark family Halloween costume.I think this one is my very favorite picture from the whole shoot!

Under the sea family Halloween costume.

Under the sea family Halloween costume.Baby sea turtles are my favorite animal, so I could hardly handle Eli’s cuteness in this costume!

Deep sea divers Halloween costume.

A shark and mermaid couples costume.

Baby Sea Turtle costume

Scuba divers and sea turtle kids costume.

A mermaid, a shark, deep sea divers, and a baby sea turtle family Halloween costumes.

A mermaid and baby sea turtle costume.

Shark and scuba diver Halloween costume.

Under the sea family Halloween costume.

Under the sea family Halloween costume

Eli’s Sea Turtle Costume | Moccasins

Garrett’s Shark Costume

I made the boy’s costumes, they were really simple- just a long sleeved black shirt and black sweatpants. I originally borrowed wet suits for them to wear, but when I tried on Cash’s he looked at me and said “mom I can’t breathe!” so I decided to nix that idea. I just cut out foam flippers and hot glued elastic to the ends so they could slide their shoes through. For their scuba gear, I just spray painted soda bottles and duct taped the arm straps on, and black plastic tubing and a black round something-or-other from the hardware store. And for their masks I just cut a hole in a black adult beanie.

I made my mermaid costume- check back tomorrow for the full tutorial on how I made it and all the beauty/makeup products that I used!

  • You can check out past costumes that I have made for the boys here
  • The tutorial for my costume for Tinkerbelle  costume here
  • My tutorial for a Grecian Goddess here
  • An old post with pictures from all our past Halloween costumes here (including Brittney Spears and K-Fed when Garrett and I were dating! haha!).

 

 

photography by Kendra Maarse

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Casual

HOW I REALLY FEEL ABOUT HAVING THREE BOYS

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.

Life with three boys mom style.ON ME: STRIPED OVERSIZED TEE (SIMILAR HERE AND HERE) | BLACK LEGGINGS (OBSESSED WITH THIS PAIR) | HAT | MAROON KANGAROO SHOES c/o PAYLESS

ON THE BOYS: NAVY KANGAROO SHOES c/o PAYLESS

 

I mentally prepare myself for trips out to the grocery store with all three boys. It isn’t because my boys are crazy monkeys that just jump from cart to cart and fling around cereal boxes like frisbees. I mean, yes, they are crazy. But 90% of the time they are just fine and totally manageable. I mentally prepare myself for the comments. I see something click in the stranger’s mind next to me. Her eyes widen and our conversation usually goes something like this..

stranger: wow…three boys!

me: yep..!

stranger: you sure have your hands full!

me: *scrolls through list of canned responses in my mind* I do! But they are so much fun!

Now, this is how most  of the comments go. But sometimes, when I am tired or cranky (I mean, I’m grocery shopping. With 3 kids. So I am usually both.), those comments eat away at me. And sometimes the comments are way worse. The other day at the store a lady complimented a bracelet I was wearing. Then she realized that all three boy blondies running around my feet were mine. Her eyes got wide and she said, “Three boys? Honey, you’re going to need a lot of bracelets to keep you happy.” Luckily, I was on my A-game that day, and I quickly responded “Oh, I don’t need bracelets. My boys are what keep me happy.”

I’ve been writing this post in my mind for the past year. Ever since I was in high school I knew I wanted to have a girl first. I don’t have any sisters, so I figured I would fill my own home with girls, and makeup, and drama, and periods. But here I am, a mom of three boys.

I was sure Bradley was a girl. I was sure Cash was a girl. I found out Eli was a boy when I was 13 weeks pregnant, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone we were having a boy or announce it on my instagram until I was 20 weeks. I felt so many emotions. I felt sad that I wasn’t getting a girl again this time around. I felt overwhelming guilt for feeling any kind of sadness for being pregnant with a healthy baby. I never wanted to be perceived as feeling ungrateful, because I am so so grateful for my babies, regardless of their gender! They are the happiest part of my life, hands down.

Before my third boy was born I remember reading a funny list of things you shouldn’t say to people with three kids all the same gender, and I braced myself for all the comments I would get. During my pregnancy I got a lot of, “did you get your girl?” with a sincere look of sadness and disappointment when I told them it was a third boy. While I geared myself up with happy responses and smiles, those negative responses really messed with my head. Why was a negative reaction to a third boy such an automatic response? There were times I would go along with them, “yeah…my house is really going to be a circus!” or “I’m just going to have to be committed to a mental institute!” and try to laugh it off. Then I would walk away kicking myself for giving in and playing along when I really didn’t feel that way.

After Eli was born, my first trip out with all three boys was for a few things at Traders. I felt like a superhero conquering the isles with Eli wrapped to my chest and the older boys being so good and helpful. I turned a corner and saw a nice older lady who was being really sweet with my boys. She saw I had a new baby with me as well and kindly said, “oh how sweet! Did you get your girl?!” I felt myself tense up and quickly realized that the crazy comments weren’t going to stop now that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I told her no, it was another boy, to which she responded, “oh…well keep trying!” It was said in a sweet sincere way, but those words stung me deeper than any other comment up until that point. As I turned down the next isle I burst into tears, feeling completely defeated. It was a whole new sting actually knowing the baby that had been inside me. I was completely obsessed with Eli, and so in love and grateful for him, and all of a sudden he was perceived as just another boy, and I needed to keep trying.

My house is full fledged Boytopia, and I have learned to embrace it with open arms. I say things like, “geez, I don’t know if I can draw the Autobot man on a birthday cake,” and “we don’t pee on our brother!” and “put the sword away in the weapons box.” Like…I have a weapons box. In my house. I may not get to wear matching dresses with them, but I can stick them all in the cutest little Payless kicks and get myself a pair to match (I’m especially dying over Eli’s little Kangaroo shoes).

But honestly…HONESTLY…we have a lot of fun. Those boys love me, and hug me, and tell me I’m beautiful. They compliment my pretty dresses, and ask me if I sewed my Tory Burch bag. They tell me they want to marry me and cried real tears when they found out that I was already married.

I may get my girl one day, and I may not. I never wanted to share with anyone that I was sad to have boys, but now I tell every mom-of-boys-to-be how lucky they are. Fashion, and style, and being girly is still part of me. But the most important part of who I am is that I get to be a mom to these three boys. It’s a dream come true that I never knew I had.

 

SHOP MY LOOK:

 

in partnership with Payless | photography by Kendra Maarse

 

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Family

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE TRICKS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS (+ OUR HAWAII FAMILY PHOTOSHOOT)

thank you to Zappos for sponsoring this post

 

ON ME: BEADED SWIM COVER KAFTAN | WHITE CROCHETED ONE PIECE (I’m wearing a size S/D. The fit/support with this suit is amazing! And the bow detail on the back is my favorite)

When Garrett and I decided that we wanted to take everyone on our trip to Hawaii, I sat down and made a list of things I thought we could do to make the trip a little easier on us, but still fun and memorable for this kids. After the trip, I reworked my list a bit to include things I discovered while we were on vacation, and I removed a few ideas I had that didn’t quite pan out.

A few days after we got home, Garrett and I jumped on Periscope (I’m @leannebarlow over there, make sure to follow along if you don’t already!) I uploaded our scope at the bottom of this post, but I thought I would break it down for you here as well…

INVOLVE THE KIDS EARLY ON
Shortly after we booked our trip, Garrett and I decided we wanted to get the boys super pumped about our vacation. So before telling them, we randomly talked about traveling and fun places we would like to travel as a family. We casually mentioned Hawaii and how beautiful and fun it would be to go there. We got them excited about Hawaii before they even knew we were going.

To tell them, we were big gigantic dorks and put on leis and grass skirts, and hula’d into the family room in pure unadulterated embarrassing-parent fashion. (lucky for us, the kids are too young to know that they should have been royally embarrassed by this). We made telling them about our trip fun and memorable before we even left for vacation.

SET REALISTIC SIGHTSEEING EXPECTATIONS
We really limited the placed we planned on physically traveling to on our trip. We’ve learned from past vacations that the boys have the most fun when they get to just play at the hotel pool all they want. So we put our focus on booking some really great hotels rather than spending the money on the excursions we could take that would be away from the hotels. (I talked more about the hotels we stayed at here and here)

MAKE PACKING KID FRIENDLY
We tried to keep our packing as light as we could, and thought about things we would actually use. We knew we really wanted phones and electronics to capture our memories on the trip, so we ordered waterproof cases for our phones, and a good backpack to store our camera in. (I wrote about how to create a family travel video in this post).

I looked through new bathing suits for our trip on Zappos.com with the boys, and let them pick out the style of the suit they wanted and the color of their shoes. I was grateful their free one-day-shipping made it super easy to get everything on time. (or exchange it for free if needed)

I let them pick out a few inexpensive things to pack in their own backpacks on the flight. We got tiny notebooks, a small thing of crayons, and one little toy that they couldn’t play with until we were actually on the plane. That made them excited to fly and helped keep them entertained on the long flight.

GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY…REALLY EARLY
Most airports are extra crowded during summer/travel months. We were stressed enough trying to get everything ready for the trip, we didn’t want the added stress of possibly missing our flight. We ended up getting to the airport 3 1/2 hours before our flight and we were calm because we knew we had plenty of time. We let the boys run around at the airport to get out their energy. It’s always better to try and find things to do with the kids because you have extra time at the airport than being stressed and rushing through the airport with kids!

SOMETIMES EASE OUTWEIGHS PRICE
We did a few things throughout our trip that cost us a little more, but were well worth the hassle of trying to save a few bucks. For example, one of the nights we ordered pizza and paid to have it delivered right to our room, rather than try to go drive to pick it up. We were all wiped out from a long day at the beach and that gave us time to bathe the boys and enjoy a simple dinner delivered right to us.

EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE FIRST
Of course we wanted the boys to realize how lucky they are to be on vacation. But instead of telling them “Do you realize how lucky you are?” or “Aren’t you so thankful that we are in Hawaii on vacation?!” we talked about how grateful we were instead. “I am so lucky that I get to have all my boys with me here on vacation!” This accomplishes 2 things: it shows your kids how much you love having them part of your family, and it teaches them that this is something they should be grateful for too! And it worked!

PLAN AHEAD FOR THE MEMORIES YOU WANT TO COME HOME WITH
I knew that I wanted to get some shots of our whole family on the beach, so I did some research on local photographers in the area and contacted one whose work I loved. We scheduled our shooting date in advance and it was so worth it to have these memories from our trip captured professionally!

Here is our periscope….

pin it for later….
 

 

in collaboration with Zappos  |  photography by Kenna Reed Photo

 

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Family

11 TIPS ON HOW TO SHOOT A FAMILY VACATION VIDEO LIKE A PRO + OUR HAWAII TRIP (PART 2)

For the last 2 days of our trip, we stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower. It is directly across the street from the amazing beach we went surfing at. Our room had the most amazing view of Waikiki with a balcony we ate our breakfast, lunch, and dinner on. On the last day of our trip we spend the morning in our suit and just relaxed. It rained a bit that day, so the boys watched cartoons in their room, Eli napped in our room, and Garrett and I relaxed on the couch watching the rain on the ocean. It was so calm and peaceful, and will be one of my favorite memories from the trip.
I posted the first video from our trip in this post, and you can watch the video from the second part of our trip below. I’ve gotten a ton of questions about how I captured our footage during our trip and I listed 11 tips and answers to all the questions I have had at the bottom of this post.

 

TUTORIAL FOR MY TOP HERE
our room at the Aqua Aston was literally across the street from the beach we surfed at! It was the best location!
the views from our hotel balcony were incredible!
 this is the view from the master bedroom. we watched the sunrise from our room and the sunset from the balcony.
Cash was up with nightmares the night before we went surfing, but he popped right up and loved it! 
 this shot just melts my heart!
we got to visit our good friends Joy and Drew while we were there and Joy taught us all how to surf! If I can get up on a board, anyone can get up. I have the worst balance and thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to do it!
the Hawaii temple is so pretty!
I had .5 seconds to grab this shot and then run over and save Eli.

After I did my first recap post from our Hawaii trip with Part 1 of our vacation video, I got tons of questions about how I filmed the video. So for this second half of our trip recap, I’m sharing all the tricks I learned in order to get great footage and create a family vacation video like a professional…

1.  Shoot the footage first:

When we would get to the beach or pool, I would always pull out the camera and film the kids first jumping in the pool or running into the beach water. Filming first thing will accomplish a few things- it will capture the pure excitement of your kids as they experience a fresh day by the water or new experience and not trying to cram in some footage after a long exhausting day when everyone is tired. You won’t have to tell them to smile or act for the camera, because they will be already excited about the beginning of a new day. Tell them up front “Let me take some video first, then we can dig for shells and have a water fight!” Set the expectation that if they cooperate in the beginning for a few minutes, you will be able to give them your full attention and play after. If you wait too long to pull out the camera chances are you will be stressing the whole time that you don’t have the footage you had hoped for, the kids will be tired and cranky, you will be covered in sand and worried that you will ruin the camera, etc.
2.  Shoot with multiple devices:
We filmed our vacation videos with my phone, Garrett’s phone, and our DSLR camera. Yes, I had to load all the footage from 3 locations, but it allowed for us to film as the vacation happened with whatever we had at the moment. The quality of iphone video is so amazing anyway, there isn’t too much of a change in the video when it changes to different devices. Plus you can get more natural fun footage from your phone (like Garrett spraying the boys with sunscreen from this video)
3.  Get a waterproof camera case (vs. buying a GoPro):
First off, even if you have a GoPro, I would suggest getting a waterproof case for your phone regardless. If will keep your camera protected from the elements and allow you to have it out, rather than hid away to stay protected. Also, back up your phone before you go! That way if something does happen, you won’t lose precious phone info. I did a ton of research on GoPros before our trip and was pretty sure we would get one. But the more I asked around, I realized that we would get just as goo quality video on our phones. My worry was that the phone would get ruined…but with out covers, that problem was solved. We might eventually get a GoPro for future vacations, but a selfie stick and waterproof cases ended up working GREAT for us! (and I was able to snapchat under water…which was awesome)
4.  Rent a lens:
I’ve been eyeing a few new lenses for a couple months. I decided to rent a 24-105mm lens for our trip rather than buy it at this point. The total to rent the lens came to around $120 for 7 days and that was so worth it to me. I got to really utilize the lens, make sure that I loved it before actually forking over the money for it, and I got amazing quality pictures!
5.  Film things in short clips:
One major trick that I learned was to keep each filming session short. When you are filming it might feel like you need to keep the camera rolling for multiple minutes, but it will be a little slow and boring when you actually sit down and watch the playback. I tended to film in 20-50 second clips. That way it was easy to wade through which clips I wanted to include in the final video and condense those even further as I edited the footage.
6.  Try not to stage your footage too much:
You want the happy smiles and bubbly kids…but you also want it to be genuine. There were a few times when filming where I would call out to the boys “ok, make the biggest splash you can!” but that was about it. When I tell them to smile, they usually make it super goofy and overdone…not authentic. You kind of have to morph into a spy and just wait for the real raw emotions before starting to film. And your kids don’t always have to me smiling and laughing in the footage! In this video I captured Eli pushing his bottle off the table and then looking down like “where did it go?” and its so real and so cute I want to bash my head into a wall. A small snippet of real life that I will look back and bawl into a pillow when he is no longer a baby.
7.  Add music:
You don’t have to add music to you whole video…sometimes it so fun to hear your kid voices or what is really going on in the footage. However, I will say, when you are watching the footage back in your office..it’s a lot less exciting that hearing it all when you were actually on the beach. One thing I am so glad I did was I had Garrett create a Hawaii play list. He loaded 12 songs that we love as a family right now and we played it during out trip. Then I had some of those songs be on our videos, and its just a perfect fit. Also, whenever we hear those songs in the future we are reminded of that particular trip.
8.  Keep it short:
I mentioned it earlier, but keep our clips short. When I edit our videos, I tried to only add about 6 second clips at a time. And I usually keep our videos around 6 minutes. The boys like watching it over and over and you don’t need too long of clips to be able to relive the fun you had. ( I just use imovie for those wondering. There are lots of great tutorials on how to use it and its very user friendly!)
9.  Take turns filming: 
You shouldn’t have to be the one filming the whole time, and neither should your husband. If your husband hates taking pictures/video, then throw on some volumizing mascara and bat those lashes at him and make him get on board with helping to film. Because you will want clips of you playing with your kids and your husband! Especially if you are using phone, you don’t need to be a pro to film. You basically just need to be a warm body behind the camera. Just make sure you tell him these expectations before the trip so he knows the kind of help you would like.
10. Start filming from the beginning:
Like..the very beginning. I didn’t include this in my videos, but we filmed us telling the boys we were going to Hawaii. (we dressed up in ridiculous lei’s and grass skirts and hula’d into the room to tell them where we were going. The ultimate dorky parents and it was amazing.) Film the boys playing at the airport, during the flight, walking into your hotel (usually those reactions were the best from the boys! They loved seeing their bed, bathroom, balcony, etc). If you get in the habit of pulling out your camera from the minute your trip starts, chances are you will keep remembering to pull out the camera. If you wait too long it might be easy to just leave the camera in the bag the whole time. What a shame that would be!
11. Load your video with the highest quality:
When I upload my videos I load them with the highest quality I can. Yes, a 4 minute video takes about 4 hours to render in HD, but now we can watch it on all our devices and the quality is as good as the footage. You won’t go back and upload it in a better quality later because you don’t have the time to do it right now. You just won’t do it. Upload it right the first time and you can be completely done when it’s loaded.

 

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Family

OUR HAWAII TRIP (PART 1)

We got back from our trip to Oahu a few weeks ago, and I’m already getting antsy to start planning our next vacation! I was a little worried that traveling with all of the kids was going to be completely exhausting. Well, it was…but it was WORTH it! I’m recapping the first part of our trip today, and I put together a little video below. The pictures are so fun to have, but it’s the video that really shows what a blast we all had!

 

The first part of our trip we stayed at The Outrigger Reef Waikiki. It’s a gorgeous family friendly resort right in the heart of Waikiki.
because of the time change, we all work up really early Hawaii time, so we would walk down to a pier at the hotel and watch the sunrise. (can you tell it’s 5:30am? haha!)
 
(my suit is 30% off right now! you can find it here)
The boy loved having their own room at the outrigger. We got 2 rooms that joined and it was so nice to be able to close the boys door once they were all asleep. We all got a good nights rest because of it!
DELSEY LUGGAGE | PINK SUIT (CURRENTLY 30% OFF!) | STRIPED CROCHET BAG
The boys weren’t too into snorkeling, but they were obsessed with watching the fish with their goggles. Even in such shallow water they could see lots of fish!
During our stay at The Outrigger Reef we checked out the Waikiki Beach Walk, right next to the hotel. They have great shopping, yummy restaurants, and this cute splash pad for the boys to play in.
I stopped into a cute little boutique called Mahina that had the best stuff! Lots of light airy pieces with a laid back beachy feel. I picked up some white cut off shorts and a cute turquoise ring.
They even had a spot in the store with toys, so the boys were entertained while I shopped!

 

The boy’s favorite store by far was Candy Bar. They were in heaven because we pretty much let them have all the sugar they wanted. This candy shop has the most amazing cotton candy. We also got a box of chocolate covered macadamia nut balls.  OH my gosh! I cannot stress to you enough how amazing these were. I honestly ate 90% of the box myself.

 

We also stopped in Truffaux, a boutique that carries the best panama hats. All the hats are hand woven and take between 4-6 months to create. It was so interesting to learn about the how these hats are made, and we each walked out with one that we wore pretty much the rest of our trip.

 

I snuck off to the gym while the boys were all napping. I sweat way more in Hawaii than I usually do during a workout!

 

I made my coral dress (tutorial coming soon!) but you can shop an identical one here.
 
We got the boys squirt guns for the pool before we left and they carried them everywhere we went!

 

We loved every minute at The Outrigger Reef Resort and I would highly recommend the resort, especially if you are traveling with kids. It was super family friendly and we met lots of other families while we were out at the pool. The staff was so friendly and the bellmen were all so cute and nice to the boys (even when they climbed all over their luggage carts like monkeys).
On our last night there we let the boys swim and we ordered dinner poolside from the restaurant they have next to the pool. Garrett and I sat at our table eating while we watched the boys swim and listened to the live Hawaiian music. It was so relaxing!

 

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Casual

TOP 10 SPOTS TO VISIT WITH KIDS THIS SUMMER IN LOS ANGELES

ON ME: WHITE DRESS (sold out) SIMILAR WHITE DRESS (on sale for $36!) ALSO LOVE THIS SIMILAR DRESS AND THIS DRESS (both are on sale!)| SIMILAR SANDALS | SUNGLASSES | SIMILAR HAT
It’s official! Both of the boys are done with school for this year, and summer has begun! I always have a little mixed feelings when it comes to summer break with the kids. Part of me is excited to sleep in a bit and have lazy mornings at home, and part of me thinks “what the HECK am I going to do to entertain them for 6 weeks?!”
In order to keep us all from going stir crazy, I wrote down a list of some of our favorite spots to take the kids in LA during the summer. These are places that would make perfect play dates with your friends and their kiddos too! They are all kid friendly and budget friendly, and most of them are inside, away from the beating summer sun. Sound amazing? They are. I’ve listed them all at the bottom of this post (along with a few new ones on our list that I want to check out).
No matter where we go, I always love dressing my boys in clothing from Old Navy. They always have the best selection of boys clothes, and their prices are so affordable. I can just let the kids play and enjoy our outings without stressing that they will ruin their clothing because I didn’t spend a fortune on it!
ON ME: WHITE DRESS (sold out) SIMILAR WHITE DRESS (on sale for $36!) ALSO LOVE THIS SIMILAR DRESS AND THIS DRESS (both are on sale!)| SIMILAR SANDALS | SUNGLASSES | SIMILAR HAT

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MY TOP FAVORITES: 
 
I met up with Merrick and her 3 boys earlier this week at the Santa Anita Race Track. I went to a Breeder’s Cup race there with Garrett a few years ago, and I was so excited to go back with the kids! The area is absolutely gorgeous, and the building looks like it’s right out of a movie (which it is…it’s where they filmed Seabiscuit). This is one of the very first times Merrick and I have gotten together for a play date with all 6 boys, and they loved running around looking at the horses.
Every morning on the weekdays they train the horses from 5am-10am, and entrance is free if you want to take the kids and come watch. They also have free general admission and free parking every Thursday and Friday during the summer to watch live horse races from 2pm-6pm. They have lots of family events happening there on Saturdays too. You can view their calendar here.
I love taking the kids here! It’s located right next to USC’s campus in a really fun part of LA. The museum is huge, and there is plenty for the kids to see and learn. I usually plan on spending most of the day here. One of the levels has a giant aquarium that you can walk through, and the boys love it! Admission to the Science Center is FREE and parking is $12 (CASH ONLY!). It also houses the Spaceship The Endeavor. You have to buy a separate ticket to see the space shuttle, but I definitely think it’s worth paying to see it on your first trip. It’s incredible! You can read more about this museum here.
*note: There are other museums that you get access to after you pay to park, but most of those cost around $15 per person. This one is just as good and free!
This giant beautiful arboretum is located right across the street from the race track in Santa Anita (just down the street from Pasadena). Adults are $9, kids 5-12 are $4, and under 5 are free. They have acres and acres of gardens (about 9 different kinds), a giant lake with fish and ducks, and peacocks that roam around. This does require lots of walking, which is great for tiring out kids with lots of energy! They have lots of kid-centered activities going on. They also have an amazing night concert series with performances by bands and symphonies.
This park might be my favorite of all time. I love taking the kids here! Merrick and I stopped here for a few hours to feed the kids lunch and let them ride scooters after visiting the race track. It’s located in San Marino, home to the most beautiful mansions in the world, so the drive there is enough to make it worth your time. The park is huge, with a giant running track surrounded by palm trees, with a giant grassy field and baseball field in the middle. It’s a great place to go running, because there is plenty of room on the track for kids to ride bikes or push a stroller. The play structure was just redone and is really fun. They do charge a little on the weekends, so keep that in mind.
I’m not a car fan in the slightest and I love this museum! It has some really incredible cars and my boys go crazy over it. On the second floor they have an entire room for kids that is all things from the movie Cars (they can touch and play anything there- the other floors have incredible cars they just can’t be touched). They have a giant life-sized Lightning McQueen that kids can touch! I usually save this floor for last though. We explore the other rooms and I’m careful to let my boys know they can’t touch the cars and they usually do really well! Then when they get antsy I move to this last floor and let them go crazy. This way they don’t start the museum thinking they can touch everything.. I save the best for last! (Also makes for a fun date night)
The coolest bookstore you will ever see. Stories of cool books for sale, with rooms full of books all the same color, a tunnel made out of books, and a section of really really old books to look through. It’s kind of like a book museum. It’s free and right in the heart of Downtown LA.
OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:
 
When my boys were a little younger and obsessed with trains, this place was heaven for them! The entrance and parking is free, and there are tons of old trains for the boys to walk through and explore. They have a small air conditioned museum, and you can buy a ticket to go for a ride on a mini train around the park. Super cute!
Cute smaller zoo, right next to Travel Town.
Free concerts in the park at a darling location in the heart of Pasadena.
Right next to the Rose Bowl, and indoor/outdoor kids museum.
 
ON MY LIST TO VISIT THIS SUMMER:
This museum looks amazing! It’s free, but there is a waitlist to get tickets. I’m putting my name on the list in hope that we can get some tickets this summer.
This is the museum with the section of hundreds of darling light posts you see all over instagram. I’ve always wanted to check it out, and this summer it’s on my list!
The outside of this library looks incredible! I’ve heard it’s huge and fun to explore with kids. Right in downtown LA.
Make sure you pin this one for your next trip to California. Now hop on over to Merrick’s blog today, she is sharing all her favorite kid friendly spots in Orange County!
WHITE DRESSES CURRENTLY ON SALE:
 
WANT MORE MOM FRIENDLY POSTS?
in partnership with Old Navy  |  photography by Kendra Maarse

 

 

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Casual

HELLO SUMMER

SWIMSUIT TOP AND BOTTOMS VIA MODCLOTH | FLAMINGO | SUNGLASSES (SOLD OUT, SIMILAR COLOR AND STYLE)
Yesterday was Bradley’s last official day of kindergarten, and that means that summer is here in the Barlow house! It certainly felt like summer. We baked in the 90 degree sun at the park after school! Poor B was really sad for the year to come to an end. He loves school and loves getting to be with his friends.
This weekend I am going to put together a summer bucket list with the boys and write down everything we want to do while school is out. I really want to try to get out to the beach a few times a month. We loved spending so much time on the beach while we were in Hawaii, and the boys love it.
I wore this suit from ModCloth while we were in Hawaii last week, and I love it! I saw the suit in person about a month ago, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. When we booked our trip for Hawaii I knew that was one that needed to come with me. The pink and chartreuse are so cute and vibrant, and it is one of the most flattering high-waisted suits I’ve ever tried on. ModCloth makes so many really cute unique suits. I was pouring through all of their swim options and saw so many cute suits I had never seen before (like this one and this one). And I just couldn’t resist bringing along this blow up flamingo. Even though Garrett rolled his eyes at me, it was so fun to float around on at the beach. We made quite the spectacle on our way down to the ocean, but we had the cutest flotation device in all the land, so we didn’t care. ModCloth also had this cute watermelon float that I almost got instead!
Happy summer!

 
in partnership with Modcloth

 

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Family

INSTAGRAM ROUNDUP + MEMORIAL DAY SALES

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone! Don’t forget that the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale is still going on now through June 5th! In case you missed it, I put together a big roundup of my favorite items from the sale here. I broke it down into categories, so it’s easy to shop the things I’m loving right from the post. I’ve also rounded up all the best Memorial Day sales at the bottom of this post, and some of my favorites like AsosJ. CrewAnthropologieOld Navy, and Ann Taylor are having some amazing sales!

If you follow along with me on Instagram, you know I’ve been in Hawaii this past week. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the suits I’ve worn, and I haven’t been able to answer everyone’s questions while I’ve been gone, so I figured I would link to them all here and try to answer some of the questions that I’ve gotten!

 

This suit is the most adorable print! I tend to stick to solid color suits, but this print was too pretty to pass up. It goes low in the front, but the laceup in the middle keeps it from being too low. This also has a decent amount of support, unlike a lot of suits with this cut.

SWIMSUIT (I wear size 6) | SUNGLASSES | NECKLACE
Another pattern I fell in love with was this suit! It’s just gorgeous. And the chicest tropical print I’ve ever seen. It isn’t too loud and obnoxious. I would say this is the most comfortable suit I wore in Hawaii. The fabric quality is amazing. It’s super soft and the torso is really long, which is hard to find. And there is amazing support in the bust. I also love the cut out in the middle. Cutouts are huge this season.
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SWIMSUIT (I wear size 6) | SUNGLASSES | LIPSTICK (in ‘Claudia’)
I don’t think I could pick a favorite suit, but if I had to….it might be this one. Soft, durable fabric, and the color is amazing. Even more beautiful in person. The torso is long on this one, and the crochet detailing is sexy without being too revealing.
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SWIMSUIT (I wear size 32 C/D) | SUNGLASSES | BABY ONESIE | BABY FEDORA
Such a beautiful floral print on this one. Ted Baker always gets florals right. And there is incredible support in the bust, since they are harder formed cups. The torso is a bit shorter on this one than a few of my others, but there is a tie in the back that helps keep the top up and secure.
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SWIMSUIT (I wear a medium) | WATCH | HAT
I can’t even with this suit. A bow and stripes? Come on. It’s so amazing. Long torso, and the bow is so cute in person. I like to wear the removable straps with this one when I’m going to be walking around a lot to help hold the bow up, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
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SWIMSUIT TOP + BOTTOMS (both in a small) | SUNGLASSES | SIMILAR SANDALS | BABY ONESIE SUIT
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of high waisted suits, but this one was way more flattering than any other one I’ve tried on! The top provides a good amount of coverage and support, and the color of the suit is so pretty and vibrant.
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This is my favorite deep V suit I’ve ever worn. The support it offers is amazing! It provides padding in all the right places, and I felt so comfortable in it. The back is also cut really low with a cute bow, and I love it! Fantastic quality.

 

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Have you gotten a chance to shop the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale yet? Here are some of my favorite pieces at amazing prices…

  • My favorite Vince Camuto lilac top (worn in this post) is on sale. It’s one of my absolute favorites, and it’s so easy to dress up or down.
  • My favorite Kate Spade shoulder bag sold out fast, but I love this Kate Spade crossbody, and this crossbody in white.
  • Brown leather sandals are so in right now, and this pair adds a touch of gladiator, which I love. These ones are simple, and perfect for everyday wear.
  • These black distressed jeans sold out way too fast, but I found some other pants that I loved. These Joe’s are a great pair of distressed jeans, and these flares are really flattering.

I’ve also put together a list of the Memorial Day sales going on this weekend at some of my favorites stores. All the sale details are listed below. I hope everyone has a nice relaxing weekend!

Memorial Day Weekend Sales:

Asos
Extra 20%
Use Code: HISUMMER
Dates: Now – 5/30

J. Crew
30% off your purchase
Use Code: WEEKEND
Dates: Now – 5/31

Anthropologie
Additional 30% off all sale items, online and in store
Dates: 5/26 – 5/30

Ann Taylor
50% off full-price purchase + extra 40% off sale styles
Use Code: SUMMER50
Dates: 5/26 – 5/31

Banana Republic
40% off purchase
Use Code: BRTAKE40
Dates: Now – 5/30

Free People
Extra 25% off all sale items
Dates: Now – 5/30

Joe’s Jeans
25% off the entire site
Dates: Now – 5/30

Loft
60% off summer faves and all sale styles + 40% off new arrivals
Dates: Now – 5/31

Macy’s
Extra 20% + free shipping at $50
Use Code: MEMDAY
Dates: Now – 5/30

Old Navy
Extra 50% off all tees, tanks, swim, and shorts
Dates: Now – 6/3

Pottery Barn
Extra 25% off
Use Code: SAVEMORE
Dates: Now – 5/30

Vince Camuto
Extra 30% off sale and clearance
Use Code: SALE30
Dates: Now – 5/30

 

Dressy

THANKFUL “MOM”ENTS

 

This Mother’s Day I am thrilled to be partnering with Teri Jon and Nina Shoes on a beautiful campaign that pays tribute to mothers everywhere. I have a very close relationship with Teri Jon, and I love what they stand for. They want to make every woman feel special and beautiful, and their dresses do just that.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed, along with four amazingly talented women in this video. It makes me tear up every time I watch it! I honestly get goosebumps at how special it is; you have to watch it!

Being a mom is my favorite job, hands down. You can see exactly how much it means to me in the video below..

Earlier this week I posted on Instagram encouraging everyone to share about the love for our mothers or what being a mother means to us by posting your own image/video with the hashtag #thankfulMOMents. Teri Jon has created a page on their site specifically for these posts, and they will automatically be loaded onto their site. The goal is to inspire women around the world to spread the love this Mother’s Day and show the world our gratitude for mothers and women everywhere. Now this is a cause I can definitely get behind!

photography by Sara Halpern Photography

In addition, Teri Jon is giving away a dream wardrobe prize! One lucky winner who posts using the hashtag #thankfulMOMents, tags 3 friends, and enters their email on Teri Jon’s giveaway page will win an amazing Teri Jon dress for themself and their mother/best friend! You can read more about the entry details here.

Thank you to Teri Jon for sponsoring this post and for helping spread the love to moms and women everywhere!  

Casual

ALL DAY COMFORT

ON ELI: TOP | PANTS | SANDALS ON CASH: TOP | SHORTS | SHOES  ON BRADLEY: TOP | SHORTS | SHOES

 

The days are staying light longer and the weather is warming up (some days a little too much). After long days of school, work, and errands, the boys and I are usually itching to get out of the house and enjoy our extra sunlight. We make frozen yogurt trips almost weekly in the spring and summer, and the boys love it! We love meeting up with friends, but sometimes I really enjoy hanging out with just them. I put my phone in my purse during out yogurt dates, and we talk about things like school and what they want to be for Halloween (this is a very hot topic in our house year-round).

I’ve started trading in my sneakers for sandals, and I found these adorable Born wedges at Dillards. They actually keep my feet comfy from school drop offs all the way until our evening yogurt trips. The cute cork wedge is high but not too high, and they have a ton of padding. A lot of times with wedges you have to choose between style or comfort (I usually pick style and just suffer through it), but with these ones I get both. They are brand new over at Dillards, and this tan color is my favorite for a neutral spring shoe.

 

 

in partnership with Born  and Dillards | photography by Kendra Maarse
Casual

MEALTIME MADE EASY + A GIVEAWAY!

Confession: I have never owned a high chair. For Bradley and Cash I just used a little chair that attached to one of our normal chairs and figured that was good enough. But this time around I finally got a real live high chair and it is the biggest help. I didn’t know what I was missing with the other two! I opted to get the new 4moms High Chair and it has made mealtime around here so much easier. I am a huge fan of 4moms after using their mamaRoo. They thought of everything with that swing and they hit it out of the park with this high chair as well.

As a mom of three boys, so much of our day is spent in the kitchen fixing food, eating food, cleaning up food, and repeating it all an hour later. Everyone always seems to be hungry at the same time, so I’m grateful my 4moms high chair lets me hold Eli with one arm and disconnect the magnetic tray easily with the other. Magnetic. Did you guys catch that? Its absolutely as amazing as it sounds. I always multitask my way through mealtime, and this easy on easy off tray is such a help!

Sometimes when I can’t feed Eli his rice cereal fast enough, he swipes the spoon from me and takes matters into his own hands. This genius magnetic tray also has a magnetic bowl, so I don’t have to stress about him giving himself a rice cereal bath when I’m not looking.

We’re all like a little Eli fan club in our house, and he gets a kick out of being able to watch his big brothers. At dinner I scoot his high chair up to our table so that he can get in on all the action.

WHITE TOP | DISTRESSED JEANS (love these! less than $100!) | 4MOMS HIGH CHAIR c/o
ON ELI: STRIPED ROMPER BY JUNE & JANUARY
I do all my feedings on the tray cover of the high chair, and disconnect it to quickly rinse it off in the sink. So no matter how messy it gets introducing Eli to prunes, cleaning up the highchair is easy. Cleaning his face and hair on the other hand, might be a different story.
This high chair is something I actually love having in my kitchen because of its gorgeous modern design! How many baby items can you say that about? I am thrilled to be able to give one of these amazing high chairs to one of you! I’ve teamed up with 4moms to give one away over on my instagram (@leannebarlow) so head on over to enter to win! Make sure you are following me there and leave as many comments as you want tagging a different friend in each comment to enter! I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday on that instagram post.
in partnership with 4moms  |  photography by Kendra Maarse