Last weekend we escaped for a little family weekend to celebrate my birthday at Hotel Indigo in downtown LA. While it may have taken me 5 hours to get everyone packed and loaded in the car, I absolutely love a quick weekend away with just our family, especially when it is close by! It only took us about 40 minutes to get there, but we still felt like we were on vacation!
The hotel is beautiful and brand new, right in the heart of LA, across the street from the Staples Center. We met a cute mom and daughter in the elevator on their way to the Faith Hill concert that night, and I made a mental note of how fun it would be to stay there the next night we go to a big concert at the Staples Center! The decor of the hotel is a modern twist on old Hollywood glamor, and I loved every inch of it. The entrance to the hotel has a giant display of fedora hats that we were all obsessed with (you can see it pictured above).
We got two connecting rooms, so the kids had their own room, and we had our own, which is my favorite thing to do when we travel. The boys feel so big and independent in their own room, even with a shared door between us. My boys loved getting on the elevators, because each one is decorated with a different theme (pink and black feminine glam, brown and black western, etc). The staff was so kind and helpful whenever we needed an extra blanket or requested our crib, and the breakfast in bed Saturday morning was so yummy! (I got an acai bowl and yogurt, the boys all shared berry waffles, and Garrett got a big egg omelet).
We swam in the hotel pool twice during our stay. It was up high on the 4th floor, and overlooked downtown. The sunset view of the city was incredible, and the pool water was the perfect temperature. I even got the luxury of relaxing by the pool a bit while Garrett played with the boys in the water; that doesn’t happen very often! All in all, it was a perfect birthday getaway. Hotel Indigo was close enough to be convenient, luxurious enough to feel pampered, and kid friendly enough to be comfortable. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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 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 Asos, J. Crew, Anthropologie, Old 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m always a sucker for a black and white look. Especially stripes. You may have seen this striped diaper bag over on my Instagram a few days ago. Diaper bags can be tricky to pick. It’s going to be a bag you use just about every day for a year, so it has to be something that you love and that’s extremely well made. This striped diaper bag from Seaport Stitches hooked me with the the classic stripes and clean design, and I was so impressed at the quality of the bag. The real leather strap, the pockets, and the gold hardware are some of my favorite details.
Seaport Stitches is currently over on kickstarter, and it’s a great chance to grab one of these diaper bags at a discounted rate. The company was created by a mom who couldn’t find the kind of diaper bag she was looking for, so she learned to sew and designed one herself. A story I can definitely relate to! You can check out the kickstarter here.
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!
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!
Summer is just around the corner and we have a few fun family trips planned. I’ve had my eye out for a good pair of summer sandals, and I love these ones from beek. They are made from 100% leather, so they are long lasting and durable. I’ve been wearing them constantly the past couple of weeks, and I can already tell that my foot is starting to mold into the leather, making them super comfy. I also love that beek gives back by donating a meal to a child in need with each purchase!
I plan on getting a lot of long walks on the beach out of these guys. They have a really great minimal and classic selection of styles (you can check them out here). Flats are such a necessity when traveling, especially with kids! We are planning a big getaway at the end of this month, so I’m already mentally preparing myself for all the packing, planning, and walking involved. As long as I can get at least a little time relaxing by a pool, I’ll be one happy momma!
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.
Last week we got invited to a screening of Disney’s new Zootopia movie down at Disney’s Motion Picture studio. My boys have been dying to see the movie and were literally counting down each day till the screening. It was the most darling show! Garrett and I were laughing out loud at some of the parts and we were just as entertained as the boys.
After the screening they had an after party with these cute little figurines everywhere. My boys went crazy running from table to table trying to collect all the different figurines. We probably came home with 10 of them!
Bradley was sure there would be fox and bunny ears to wear at the movie. I kept telling him I didn’t know if there would be…and sure enough, they had ears for each guest to wear.
It was so fun to catch up with friends at the event! We sat by Kailee and all her darling kiddos. Eli and Houston became fast friends. 😉
I opted for a casual oversized sweater and some comfy flares for the event (I honestly don’t love all the flairs out right now, but these are so comfy and flattering). I threw on these statement earrings to dress up the look a bit.
The movie just came out in theaters and you have to go! Whether you have kids or not, it is really entertaining. Garrett loved the roommates that the bunny moved in next to in the city, and Cash tells me the joke about the 3 humped camel every day (well…now you have to see the movie to hear the joke)
Big thanks to Disney for sponsoring our visit to the Zootopia screening!
With so many new styles evolving and changing, keeping up with the latest trends feels like its never ending. Right?? Just when you get the perfect pair of distressed jeans, all of a sudden wide leg trousers are in and then there is another thing to add to your wish list. Over the years of experimenting with fashion and sewing on my blog, I have built up a closet that I truly love. But I spent years and years pining over this and that, trying to achieve my dream closet.
I’ve summarized a few guidelines I follow when making clothing purchases that have helped me become genuinely happy with my wardrobe…
There are so many beautiful well made pieces that are probably worth the money..but pulling the trigger on actually paying the price tag can be easier said than done. But if you do enough research, I have a way you can get those luxury items without paying full price. I’ve found some amazing items at thredUP, an online consignment store. The selection of name brand clothing items they have is killer ((women and kids)) and everything is less than full price, up to 90% off! I’ve wanted a big Kate Spade bag for years, and found this taupe bag for less than half of what it was originally! When it was delivered to my door, you would never guess it was previously owned. Not a single mark or scratch, and it came with the original tags. I was in serious Kate heaven. So being smart enough to check out thredUP before paying full price for an item is a great way to get those dream pieces into your closet sooner than you anticipated.
BUY WHAT YOU REALLY LOVE
Don’t think that you have to own the latest trend in order to have great style. Take those wide leg jeans for example. Not a fan? Then don’t buy them. They won’t get the wear out of them to justify the price if you don’t really love it. But those Tory Burch flats that make you weak in the knees whenever you see someone wearing them….now those might be more your style. Along these same lines, keep from impulse buying as well. If you love it in the store, make sure its available online, and then hold off on buying it. A few days later if you are still thinking about that amazing lace top then you can jump online and order it. It will also save you the hassle of retuning something later.
SAVE AND PLAN FOR INVESTMENT PIECES
An investment piece is something you will have and wear for years. Because an item like this needs to be well made, it usually costs more than you would normally spend on a similar item. The most amazing nude pump, or little black dress, or even the perfect red lipstick could be out of your price range right now. But don’t be afraid to set your sights high, as long as you are smart about it. Set aside $10, $20, or whatever you can each month specifically for that item. That way you won’t be saying “I could never afford that” forever. With some monthly saving and a goal in mind, one day you will be able to say you can afford it. And chances are you will love it and wear it forever.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The more clothes doesn’t make for the better closet. That’s what I thought to be true back in high school and I was so wrong. Don’t buy 5 different $10 white t-shirts that you semi-like. Take the time and get one $50 t-shirt that fits you well, will last through multiple washings, and that you will wear all the time. You will have a lot more closet space for more quality items that way too!
What are some items you are dying to have in the closet of your dreams? I’d love to know!