Family

HAPPY THANKSGIVING + OUR BIG BEAR FAMILY TRIP FAVORITES

Family Fall Style. Family Fall Style. Family Fall Style. Family Fall Style. Family Fall Style. Family Fall Style.

ON ME: SIMILAR TAN COAT  ||  BLACK NORTHFACE JACKET  ||  SIMILAR SWEATER  ||  BEANIE  ||  BLACK DISTRESSED JEANS  ||  SNEAKERS

ON ELI: BUTTUN UP TEE  ||  LEVI’S JEANS  ||  SNEAKERS

ON BRADLEY: BUTTON UP TOP  ||  BEANIE  ||  JEANS  ||  SNEAKERS

ON CASH:  BEANIE  ||  JEANS  ||  SNEAKERS

 

 

From our family to yours, we want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! We traveled up to Big Bear last weekend for a little getaway for Garrett’s birthday, and we had the best time! We stayed at a darling Bed and Breakfast right by the lake called The Alpenhorn. We haven’t stayed at a bed and breakfast before, and we absolutly loved it! Johann and Evelyn where the kindest couple who run the BnB, and they made us feel right at home. Since we brought the kids, we stayed in our own cozy cabin with a kitchen, plenty of beds, a jetted tub (which the boys loved), and a fireplace! We watched movies and fell asleep by the fire each night, and it was such a dream.

Every morning the owners made the most magnificent breakfast in the main house. I’m not kidding…it was one of the best breakfast meals I have ever had! Hand squeezed local oranges for orange juice, ancient grain homemade berry scones, herbed heirloom tomatoes, an omelette, and the best overnight oats I have ever had. We ate this every single morning! We started off our day with a full tummy and ready for hikes and exploring. All around Big Bear lake there are little hiking trails that you can pull off and hike up. Make sure to stop by any ski rental building and pick up a few days worth of parking passes (they are good for any of the hiking parking lots in the area). They are around $13 per day.

If you are on the hunt for something yummy for lunch, I recommend stopping at a tiny little “Hawaiian” lunch spot called Local. I got their Papaya Bowl, and Garrett and I split one of their rice bowls; it was divine! On main street in Big Bear they have the cutest ice cream shops, and we stopped at one for ice cream cones and candy apples one of the nights.

We even checked out the local Big Bear zoo they have there in the mountains. I was a little bit skeptical of it at first, but it was actually amazing and well worth a family visit! They had cougars, tons of black bears, a bald eagle, a snow owl, and tons of other animals that were local to the area. You can get really close to the animals too, and the boys loved it!

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. We are so excited to be moving into our new home shortly, and we have lots to do to prepare for that. I just want to make sure I take the time to really soak in this season and stop long enough to enjoy my blessings, enjoy my kids, and pause to really feel the spirit of this season. I hope you all have the best Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for following along!

 

 

 

photography by Jordan Zobrist

Casual

A WEEKEND DOWNTOWN

Mom style. Mom style. Mom vacation style. Hotel Indigo, Los Angeles Mom vacation style. A weekend away... Hotel Indigo, Los Angeles Mom style. Hotel Indigo, Los Angeles Mom style. Boy summer style. Mom style. Mom style.BLACK EMBROIDERED DRESS (on sale! wearing a M and I also have it in white)  ||  LEOPARD SANDALS (sold out, similar sandals here)  ||  GOLD RING  ||  BLACK RING  ||  BRACELET (currently on sale for $16! I wear mine all the time) ||  NECKLACE

 

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!

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in partnership with Hotel Indigo, an IHG hotel  |  photography by Jordan Zobrist

Casual

SPRING FLORALS

  Pink florals for spring Pink florals for spring Pink florals for spring Pink florals for spring Pink florals for spring Pink florals for spring
PINK FLORAL BLOUSE  ||  CARDIGAN SWEATER  ||  WHITE DISTRESSED JEANS  ||  BLUSH TIEKS (SIMILAR FLATS HERE AND HERE)  ||  KATE SPADE BAG  ||  SUNGLASSES  ||  GOLD CHOKER  ||  GOLD CRESCENT NECKLACE  ||  GOLD CIRCLE BRACELET

 

Spring is a the best time to incorporate trendy floral pieces into your wardrobe. Floral prints are everywhere lately, making this trend an easy one to work with. I love that there are so many options to choose from, so you aren’t limited to just clothing. There are some really pretty floral shoes and bags that are perfect for adding a little extra flair and style to your look.

When choosing floral prints on tops and dresses, I tend to look for subtle prints that have really feminine colors and patterns to them. I’ve found that the more subtle the print, the more versatile it is, and the easier it is to wear with multiple looks. See below for some of the floral pieces I’m loving for spring!

 

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FAVORITE FLORAL PIECES FOR SPRING:

 

 

 

Casual

GINGHAM FOR SPRING

 Pink gingham top Pink gingham top Pink gingham top   \ Pink gingham top
PINK GINGHAM TOP  ||  JEANS  ||  WHITE SNEAKERS  ||  KATE SPADE BAG  ||  SUNGLASSES  ||  GOLD CRESCENT NECKLACE  ||  GOLD CIRCLE BRACELET  ||  TURQUOISE RING

 

Gingham is the perfect spring print. It’s classic and stylish, and it has a warm-weather appeal that makes it a go-to choice this time of year. I have always loved pulling out my gingham boy shirt and white jeans with a baseball cap during spring and summer. But I love that gingham is no longer limited to button up shirts like we’re used to seeing for spring. This year it’s being used in more feminine and dressed up pieces, making it a more versatile option that works with many different styles.

I’ve been seeing so many cute and colorful gingham pieces lately, so I picked out some of my favorites under $50; including tops, dresses, shoes, and more. See below for some spring gingham inspiration!

 

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SPRING GINGHAM FAVORITES (UNDER $50):

 

Casual

BOLD AND COZY IN LONDON

 Camel coat + leather jacket Camel coat + leather jacket  Camel coat + leather jacket
CAMEL COAT (restocked!)  ||  SIMILAR FAUX LEATHER JACKET  ||  EXCLAMATION SWEATER (sold out) SIMILAR STATEMENT SWEATER  || JEANS  ||  SIMILAR BLACK BOOTIES HERE AND HERE  ||  KATE SPADE BAG  ||  SUNGLASSES (also available here)

 

I love a look that is set apart, which means picking pieces that are bold and unique. There are so many ways to add bolder details like a statement sweater to a look, but keeping it classy and sophisticated is important to me. I don’t ever want to add too much that it gets overwhelming, so I usually go for one or two pieces that set it apart. I stayed with a couple different colors in this look and made the focal point my cream exclamation sweater. Layering was a must in London because it was so cold, so wearing my sweater under my leather jacket and camel coat worked perfectly.

Eating healthy while traveling was a little tricky. I didn’t want to completely deprive myself of yummy treats and foods in Europe, but I also wanted to be smart about it. I packed a bunch of protein bars in my suitcase (which is probably why we came so close to going over our weight limit; I’m sure it had nothing to do with the 8 pairs of shoes I brought), but I was so glad I brought some! I don’t need a ton to eat in the morning, so I just grabbed a protein bar and an apple on our way out to explore. We would usually do one big meal each day and for the second meal we would grab a sandwhich or something smaller and quick on the go. I tried to keep my big meals fairly healthy (salad or fish), but we did have fish and chips on our first night, and a classic English breakfast another day (both of which my stomach regretted immediately!). The Indian food in London was where it was at! I’m writing a huge post with everywhere we went, stayed, and ate so keep an eye out next week for that post!

I did really well about the amount of treats I ate until a few days before we left. I was out of my bars and starving, and I randomly grabbed a bag of Haribo cherry gummies at a grocery store because I needed somethingThat was my sugar downfall. Garrett and I downed that entire bag on the first night, and I bought a bag each day for the rest of our trip! I swear, I don’t have a sugar off-button. If I start eating candy, I might as well finish the bag because it’s staring me in the face. Garrett is really good about having a few and stopping. When he would finish a few, I would eat the rest of the bag! Thats why I have to tell myself not even to start with the candy! But we were walking everywhere the entire vacation, so it’s totally fine right? Calories and sugar don’t really count on vacation anyways! 😉

 

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Casual

IF LONDON WERE A COAT…

Pink Kate Spade pink coat Pink Kate Spade pink coat Pink Kate Spade pink coat  Pink Kate Spade pink coat  Pink Kate Spade pink coatPINK COAT (on sale for 40% off! I’m wearing a size 2)  ||  SILK SCARF  ||  WHITE DISTRESSED JEANS  ||  BLUSH TIEKS  ||  SUNGLASSES  ||  BAG

 

I spied this coat months ago here and I spent weeks obsessing over it. At the time, I knew we were going to London but didn’t realize quite how cold it would be out there, so I wasn’t actively looking for coats for our trip. Also at the time, this coat was not on sale. As our trip approached, I just couldn’t get this coat out of my head and when I saw that it went on sale for 40% off, I snagged it. I read a few mixed reviews on the quality of the coat online, but I took my chances and I’m SO glad that I did!

This coat, you guys. It’s one of the prettiest pieces of clothing I have ever owned. The color is this gorgeous light purply pink orchid, and the buttons are rose rhinestones (which might sound like a bit too much, but they are amazing in person!). The wool is thick and such good quality. It is by far the warmest coat of all the ones I brought with me. I bought a few different sizes and ended up sticking with the size 2. I wore this coat on one of our days exploring Notting Hill, and we found this darling house that matched it perfectly! I paired it with these pretty blush Tieks that were a live saver to my feet and to my suitcase! I’m a bit Tiek obsessed. They pack up so small and compact! With all the gorgeous pink doors, homes, flowers, and trees in bloom, this coat was right at home in London!

 

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Casual

RUFFLED AND STRIPED IN LONDON

 

White ruffle top + sneakers  White ruffle top + sneakers White ruffle top + sneakers White ruffle top + sneakers

SIMILAR STRIPE COAT HERE AND HERE  ||  WHITE BLOUSE (I’m wearing a size UK 8, low stock) SIMILAR HERE AND HERE  ||  JEANS  ||  KATE SPADE BAG (also loving this style)  ||  SNEAKERS  ||  SUNGLASSES  ||  BROWN LEATHER WATCH  ||  GOLD CIRCLE BRACELET 

 

This look was from our first day in London! You really can’t go wrong with white and ruffles. I loved that I could add a long coat over this ruffled top without it being too bulky. But I have to say, I froze this day! It was much colder in London than I anticipated, and while I love this striped Kate Spade jacket, it was not thick enough to keep me warm. I learned quickly that I would need to add a few more layers to my looks out there to keep warm!

When we first arrived in London I could tell right off the bat it was going to exceed my expectations. My first impressions of the city were that it was extremely clean and the people there were impeccable dressers. We would walk down the street and I would just be in awe of all the amazing outfits everyone was wearing. From the shoes to the slacks to the sweater vest, bowtie, glasses, scarf…everything. Each person had such amazing style from head to toe. I thought I might be a bit overdressed some of the time, but no way. If anything, sometimes I felt underdressed! I got so much inspiration just from seeing how the Londoners dressed, I loved it!

 

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Casual

CHILLY SPRING

Camel coat + necktie + flats

Camel coat + necktie + flats

Camel coat + necktie + flats

Camel coat + necktie + flats

Camel coat + necktie + flats

Camel coat + necktie + flatsSIMILAR CAMEL COAT (I bet I could do this similar coat now, even though it’s maternity)  ||  WHITE BLOUSE  ||  GRAY SWEATER (runs one size large, I’m wearing a small and it’s plenty big!)  ||  BANDANA  ||  SIMILAR BLACK CAPRIS  ||  SIMILAR FLATS  ||  SIMILAR COGNAC BAG  ||  SUNGLASSES

 

This week I will be sharing with you the looks that I wore while we were on our trip to London! I have to admit, packing for this trip was hard.  I wanted to pack all the sun dresses, and sandals, and lightweight cardigans, but the spring weather in London is so much different than here in Southern California. That got me thinking; I love coming up with spring looks to wear when it’s hot where I live, but what would I wear if I lived somewhere that was still chilly this time of year? I lived in Utah when I was in college and first married, and I remember being so upset when we got snow in April or clear into May or June. So this post is dedicated to all of you that are dying to wear shorts and sandals, but still have grab your coats as you head out the door.

I teamed up with Nordstrom to round up some warmer coats for chilly spring days that still look on trend for spring. This challenge was actually pretty fun for me. It turns out there are a lot of good options, the trick is getting the right color and pairing it correctly with the rest of your look. Thank goodness for Nordstrom and their unbeatable return policy! I was crunched for time prepping for my trip, so I ordered a few sizes in different coats and sweaters, with the peace of mind that I could return the size that didn’t work. It was a lifesaver!

I think a camel colored coat or trench is a must have for a cool spring. It is so versatile, and it has a lighter feel to it than a dark black coat (it can easily transition into the fall/winter too). My camel coat is currently sold out, but Nordstrom has other great options like this one and this one. And this trench coat is so incredible! If it rained more in LA, I would add this one to my closet in no time. I also love the lighter colored coats like this one and this one. How cute is this floral coat? It’s so spring, but still nice and warm. I finished off my look with a bandana and comfy printed flats since we were walking all over that day!

 

SHOP MY LOOK BELOW:

 

 

 

in collaboration with Nordstrom 

Dressy

TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY PICTURES

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris PhotoshootDRESS: MADE MY ME (tutorial coming soon) INSPIRATION DRESS  ||  SIMILAR SHOES  ||  COAT  ||  GARRETT’S SUIT

I figured Easter weekend was the perfect time to share the images from our anniversary shoot we did in Paris. I will let the pictures do most of the talking! I am beyond thrilled with how these turned out. I made my dress for this shoot and worked with our photographer in Paris on the concept/style I envisioned, and they turned out just how I had hoped they would!

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris Photoshoot

Elle Apparel 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Paris PhotoshootDRESS: MADE MY ME (tutorial coming soon, fabric c/o Mood Fabrics) INSPIRATION DRESS  ||  SIMILAR SHOES  ||  COAT  ||  GARRETT’S SUIT

 

Many of you have messaged me mentioning an upcoming trip to Paris. If you are going, I highly recommend booking a shoot with our photographer, Meiry (you can find her on Instagram or her website). She was amazing to work with. She new all of the best locations to shoot and when the lighting would be right (and not swarming with tourists). We were up shooting by 7 am, right when the sun was starting to rise. It’s so amazing to see the lighting change and develop throughout these images! I planned the colors/fabric of my dress in hopes that the cherry trees would be in bloom, and I was thrilled when they were! Normally they bloom a bit later in April for about two weeks, but lucky for us, they bloomed a bit earlier this year (late March-early April). It was the perfect time to take pictures.

 

When we go on big trips like this, I always want to make sure I leave with some kind of souvenir to remember the trip by. I’m not interested in something flimsy or cheap that will get broken or thrown out eventually. On our trip to Hawaii last year, I decided that instead of spending money on a souvenir, I would hire a photographer to get professional pictures of our family on each big trip we take. I think it’s better than any pin, or charm, or trinket you can buy in a store.

 

A lot of you have asked how I found my photographers, and I just searched on Instagram through #parisphotographer and reached out to the photographers with work that I liked the most. It takes some research and planning, but it is so worth it! Another reason it is so great is I wasn’t stressed about trying to get the perfect shot of us together around Paris as we traveled, because I already knew I was guaranteed good ones by having a photo session scheduled. That way we could just enjoy each other’s company! I am going to make a photo album with these pictures and it will be something that we treasure for years to come!

 

I’m just getting back into the swing of things after getting home from our 10 year anniversary trip to London and Paris. This trip exceeded both of our expectations! It was beyond my wildest dreams and even more fun than I was hoping it would be. Now I have the travel bug, and we are already dreaming up where we want to head next (but I think we will take the kids next time around).

 

We haven’t been knocked down too bad by jet lag (but I have been taking random 3 hour naps from 8pm-11pm every night this week). Next week I will be sharing all of my looks from our trip, and I am working on a big post that covers where we stayed, ate, and all of our favorite recommendations for both London and Paris.

 

photography by Flanerie Photo
Family

A FAMILY GETAWAY TO LEGOLAND

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad SWIMSUIT  ||  SUNGLASSES

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< The boys loved having their own room, they felt so cool! >

Legoland

< Legoland was a dream come true for these two! >

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< I caught this right after Garrett asked, “Who is the cutest boy in the world?!” We’ve taught all of our boys to raise their hands when we ask that. I love it! >

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

Vacation at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< I got spoiled with a facial and a relaxing day at the Sheraton Carlsbad Spa. It was such a dream! >

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

Vacation at the Sheraton CarlsbadSIMLAR DRESS  ||  NUDE HEELS  (size a half size down on these!)

< On our way to church Sunday morning! Eli was a little less than thrilled. >

Vacation at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< The sunset as we walked back to our hotel from Legoland. >

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< Love these three dudes! >

Vacation at the Sheraton Carlsbad

< For those who asked when I posted this on my Instagram- I used this self tanner. This is after only 1 application! > 

 

Family vacation to Legoland at the Sheraton Carlsbad

Vacation at the Sheraton CarlsbadFLORAL ROMPER  ||  SIMILAR GOLD SANDALS ||  BAG

Back in January we took a little weekend family getaway down to San Diego for Cash’s 5th birthday. We gave him the option of having a birthday party or going to Legoland, and he picked Legoland. (thank goodness..much less stress for me!) While I was planning our trip, my biggest concern was convenience. Since it was a short weekend stay, I wanted somewhere close to the theme park where we could just hang out and relax and not have to do a ton of driving around to entertain the kids. We ended up deciding on the Sheraton Carlsbad, and we were so happy we did! When we checked in, the sweetest man at the front desk saw how excited the boys all were, and pulled out a little bag full of lego guys. It was his own personal collection and he hands them out to kids visiting the hotel. It turns out, he used to work at Legoland and knows the place like the back of his hand. So he told us all the best rides to start with and helped us plan our day. It was quite the welcome!

I didn’t know this when I booked the hotel, but the Sheraton has their own private entrance to Legoland! It is literally across the street from the park. So the next morning, we got the kids all ready, popped Eli in the stroller, and walked across the street and down the hill to a gate that opened to Legoland. And there was NO line! I couldn’t believe it. The boys are the perfect age for Legoland. We have never been before and I was so impressed with how well it catered to kids. Lots of rides were designed for the kids to wait in line all by themselves (it made them feel so big and important). There was one ride where they got their own little drivers license and got to drive a car around a mini little town. There was an area for parents and strollers to sit and watch. The boys went on this one over and over and it was so fun to see them have such a blast.  When the park closed and we were all wiped out after a fun day, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to just cross the street and be right at our hotel.

That next morning I worked out at their gym, and we spent the day swimming and playing at the hotel. While the boys napped I got a little pamper session in at the hotel spa. I had the most amazing facial (I’ve only had one other facial before!) and I’m hooked! I got full use of their spa facilities, so I went in their steam room twice, took a shower, and got all ready for dinner there. It was such a dream. If your kids are around ages 3-10 I would highly recommend a Legoland vacation and stay at the Sheraton Carlsbad. One day at the park and one day swimming was the perfect amount of time for us.

These past few weeks I have been busy planning for our next getaway. This time it’s just me and Garrett. We celebrate our TEN year wedding anniversary this year, and we have been planning on taking a big trip for this anniversary for years. We talked about going a lot of different places for this trip, but we decided on London and Paris! The trip is coming up quickly and I can’t wait. We have a lot of fun little adventures planned while we are there, but I do have a random question/favor! Garrett is a huge Chelsea Football fan. He loves that team with all of his heart. He is a member of their official fan club/group and we both really want to go to a Chelsea game while we are out there. Like..we planned this trip so we would be there during a few games. The problem is, tickets are hard to get. You have to be a member of a their fan club to be able to even purchase a ticket, but you are only allowed to buy ONE ticket per member. So there is a chance he might be able to buy a ticket to one of their games..but he will only be able to get one. Does anyone out there have any inside info on a way to get 2 tickets to a game? This is probably the most random request of all time ever, but it’s worth a shot!

I can’t wait to share our upcoming trip…even though I’m a borderline stress case about leaving the kids!

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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