Thursday, July 16, 2015

style story | HM


We were kindly asked by H&M to share some of our favorite summer styles for boys! Us, well, we love to spend our days at the lake close to the water, so I love the blue color story that our favorite HM pieces tell - they remind me of the water and peaceful nights where you hear the waves crash the shore. Keep it light and fresh, you never know where the wind might take you, and we want to be prepared for any ship that may sail, so it is a good thing they have the perfect summer staples!

Ready to go at a moments notice... which way to LA? Comfort, casual, and cool. There is no where in the world we wouldn't run off to, and now we have the perfect wardrobe to come with us! Thanks HM!

Who doesn't love a baby in a good cardigan and ice cream goatee! I wouldn't pass that up for anything!


This post was done in partnership with HM // all looks c/o HM

Shop Rowan's look:
top here
pants here
hat here

top here
shorts here
shoes similar here (green sold out online)

Shop Brinley's look:
shirt hm (couldn't find online)
pants hm (couldn't find online)

look 2
shirt hm (couldn't find online)
shorts here
shoes similar here (green sold out online)

Shop Wrennyn's look:
shirt hm (couldn't find online)
cardigan here
bloomers here

Sunday, June 28, 2015

bon voyage | travel diary

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As I shared before we teamed up with Royal Caribbean and we sailed to the caribbean aboard their ship the Independence of the Seas. The ship, in all its glory, was our home for a whole week. While there were endless activities from Wall Climbing to Ice Skating to Surf Simulation (all of which were entertaining to watch), we were more likely to be found watching the likes of men 200+ lbs having a belly flop contest - yes, that is right, you haven't seen anything until you experience the visuals of men flaunting their ability to torture themselves while they plummet into the nearest pool - while you cast your votes poolside. The boys have never been so equally entertained or embarrassed, haha! We filled our days on the ship by making new friends, playing mini golf, and eating more food than we ever have in our lives. There is something beautiful about not having to lift a finger, literally. Actually Royal Caribbean's ship had better vacation food than we have ever experienced, and there may have been more than one occasion where we got double desserts. I highly recommend eating late dinners where your children nearly fall asleep and don't notice you eating their dessert, too.

We were lucky enough to have a nice big room with a balcony, which I highly recommend! It gives you a chance to start the day with some peace and quiet while you watch the waves pass you by. It also is a great way to threaten throwing the kids' ipads overboard as a disciplinary tactic when they aren't obeying. I joke! I joke! Truly there is no better way to wake up than the sound of the ocean and the sun calling you out to play.

I hate to brag, but our kids were so amazing on our trip! We laughed and made so many memoreis each day. Brinley learned how to swim in the ocean of all places, and Rowan learned how to exchange email addresses with his new friends so they can stay in touch. This was by far the best and most peaceful vacation we have ever been on - there were endless activities on board to keep us busy. Though, I would like to say it was relaxing the thing is traveling with kids isn't really relaxing, but it definitely was peaceful and rejuvenating. We all came back ready to take on summer with a cheerful attitude (and a great tan!) I was grateful to have time with the older boys and encourage them to be a little more adventurous!


SAN JUAN - our port day at San Juan was low on day light since we didn't arrive until 5pm, but we didn't waste a moment. We hurried over to the fort of Castillo San Felipe del Morro where the boys explored and had fun climbing and scaring the heck out of me while they were overlooking the cliffs on the rooftop. We had a great time chatting about what kind of things may have happened in the fort and seeing a little piece of San Juan's history. We also cruised around Old San Juan where we shopped and took in the candy colored buildings before daylight disappeared.

ST MAARTEN - When we arrived at St Maarten, we were originally going to do an excursion, but the boys urged us to just have a beach day, and well as you know, kids win. So we chatted with a few people (who all recommended Little Divi Bay for families) and we decided we wanted something a little more quiet and unique - thankfully a kind patron of the area told us about La Galion which is where we ended up and we were thrilled! It was so calm and shallow for hundreds of feet - the boys could swim without fear of a big drop off or waves over taking them. After having been on the ship for a few days it was the perfect spot for us! We rented paddle boards and it was the best place to paddle by far, the wind is mostly blocked by the land just to the left of the beach and it is so shallow that even if you fall, which we did, it was easy to get back on! As Andy and I paddled the boys each had their snorkeling gear on and had their heads in the water, it was just a funny little sight, and we did see a sea turtle! There was also a great little place for lunch right on the beach. We loved this beach so much that we ended up not going to a second location which we had originally planned on doing.

ST KITTS - Since we had been to a calm beach in St Maarten's we opted for something with a little more action in the water. We were asking around and one of the taxi driver's who was chatting with us suggested Cockleshell Bay (which is much prettier than google makes it look). I always prefer the thought of bays with children since they are a little more enclosed which makes the waters a little less intense/choppy. It was about a 25 min taxi drive which was mostly scenic! I love that you could see Nevis from the bay which made for a beautiful beach view all day long. The waters were definitely more choppy than La Galion, but we were thrilled because it made it a little more fun for the boys to swim and we also rented Jet Skis which always freaks me out a little with the kids and sharks, you know, the usual. Kidding! We loved having more of a sporty activity to do this day, and there were lots of other people trying water sports that made it entertaining. I actually wish we had known more about St Kitts prior to traveling because I think it would be a great place to go on a sail boat excursion, we saw some other cruisers heading off on one, and I asked if I could tag along, they laughed, but said "no."

I really love that we had a variety of experiences and I completely recommend the beaches we went to. They were extremely child friendly, and though we were traveling in the "off season" I would say they were more underpopulated than most of the other recommendations I heard of. We definitely got to the beaches first and did shopping at the ports on the way back to the ship which I recommend, it gives you the chance to stake your claim at the beach before other's arrive and maybe catch a few photos without crowds in the background. Lucky for us none of the beaches seemed to be crowded during our trip!

Our kids absolutely loved the cruise and we absolutely plan on taking more cruises in the future. When you travel with kids it is so nice to have the activities on board, but have new ports and places to see along the way. The kids had so much fun in the child care  program, Adventure Ocean, that they actually would beg at dinner to attend the evening festivities where they did things like partook in a Pirate Parade and made pillow cases at the PJ Party. They were sad to say goodbye to their Sitters at Sea. We absolutely loved the staff, the food, the entertainment, and the friends we made along the way!

If you have any questions about the ports we stopped at, activities we did, or general cruising inquiries do not hesitate to ask! I love helping families feel more at ease about traveling!

One thing I will suggest is being sure that you fly out the day before your cruise leaves port. We flew out the morning of, and though we had plenty of time to spare it was a lot of added stress in the week leading up. I would not ever fly out the day of again, just because there are better things to think about than wondering if you will make your connecting flight :)

ps I know this is a lot of photos, but when everything is photogenic it is hard not to share! Also, I really want to start printing travel photos for our bare walls, so we can always remember that there is always something new to see and that a place for adventures is always waiting in the distance! Just remember you don't always have to appear in your vacation photos, some times it is just beautiful to recall all the things you have seen along this journey we call life! xx

**This post was done in partnership with Royal Caribbean** Thank you, as always, for supporting our brand partnerships so we can bring awareness to families about products and things we love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

bon voyage! | family travel with royal caribbean international

I am so excited to share that we are teaming up with Royal Caribbean International to share some experiences on family travel! I can't wait to see what Royal Caribbean is all about, and I have no doubt that traveling over the ocean is the most peaceful way to go from place to place!

Travel is something that I am very passionate about, because not only have I discovered {later in life} that I have a deep desire for travel, but even more than that I have a great love for encouraging families to adventure together. I think traveling is one of the greatest experiences you could share with your children! We hope to share many tips to help encourage you to finally take the plunge and get your family on a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Before we take off on the Independence of the Seas where we head to San Juan, St Kitts, and St Maarten, I am going to share some things to help you get started - I have been on a cruise before and it has really helped me become better prepared this time around. I am so prepared that I have offered my advice as a "pro tip" since doing this once before makes me a clear expert *wink wink*

pro tip: Be sure you check the ports (especially the day + the arrival and departure times!). Get familiar with the activities available ahead of time. Once you're on the ship internet is limited and you're on vacation for goodness sake, you won't want to be on your computer or phone trying to research the "must see" stops at each port, try to do as much planning and research as you can ahead of time. Once you are settled in your new home fore the week mingle around with your new friends and see what they are planning in the days too come!!!

pro tip #2: Be sure to keep your swimsuit, ipad/ charger, camera, and a card game in your carry on. Don't check it in on the ship since it may take hours for you bag to arrive in your room! The rest of your bags can be easily checked!

pro tip #3: Be sure to check your cruise guide to make sure there aren't wardrobe restrictions in certain dining rooms, or if there is a formal evening -- you don't want to be left out!

pro tip #4: Kids are still kids. Even on vacation. Don't stress! Your kids will still have tantrums, fits, and disappointments. They will be hot from walking, they will be tired of looking at souvenirs, they may hate the ocean (GASP!), they might even miss their bed. Funny thing, but kids don't, in fact, turn into angels while traveling. Enjoy them, and try your best to be extra patient as they try to adjust to their new location. Oh, and don't forget to say "Please" when you try to force them to drink that extra water :) :)

pro tip #5: don't be afraid to stay on the ship while some get off at each port, it is a great time to have free reign in some ares since the ship is less populated. We usually are the first off at each port and then make our way back to the ship about 1.5 hrs before they depart to take advantage of the cleared out decks.

pro tip #6: Childcare/ hang outs are available on most ships. If you aren't sure that you or your child is comfortable with this new scene, then I suggest you tour the childcare room together. Plan a 15-20 minute stay for the first time - it is short so they know you are coming back, but gives them time to scope things out on their own. Then you can assess if your child feels comfortable and confident without you. We did this with our boys and they begged us to put them back into the child care! Just be sure you keep in mind that kids get tired of the sun and running constantly, if you have a full day packed there is a good chance they may want to take it easy, don't be scared to utilize the available sources that your ship has to offer - there is a good chance your kiddos will even make some new friends!



PACKING... the conundrum. 
My biggest goal while packing is trying to make everything work together and mix'n'match so I don't need as much. My second goal is a wrinkle proof wardrobe - I try to find pieces that still look amazing if they're crumpled from travel. This is always a much easier task when on a warm weather vacation! Think linens and loose fit.

I am not big on over-packing, especially with children because your greatest enemy is options, why spend so much time getting ready when there is a new world to see! I love rompers and dresses for this reason, they are small and don't need to be paired with anything which makes for less fuss! On a cruise you have to keep in mind that there is usually humidity that comes with being at sea, which means that your clothes don't stay dry or clean for very long, so be aware that packing minimum items also calls for a day of wash or you can count on wearing salty or moist clothing.

Staples in my suitcase? I always shoot for the classics when I travel! A good pair of denim shorts like these here, a killer cover up for your swim suit that you won't mind living in most of the week - I am absolutely in love with this one by Eberjey here, A good hat - always a good hat(here), a swimsuit that can second as a shirt/top, and I always include classic sandals and a good read!  Oh, and I never forget to pack an extra suit or two - nothing worse than trying to shimmy into a wet swimsuit, I know you feel me.

Things that should top your packing list:
*PASSPORT to ensure you get on the ship! Be sure it is in your carry on and easy to access for when you arrive!

*SUNSCREEN (don't forget to apply multiple times per day, the sun is much more intense in the caribbean

*CARD GAMES - for mornings on the deck of the boat or evenings in your room, or even great for down time before or during your flights while traveling to the ship

*WATER SHOES - for any beaches you may encounter, especially those with coral

*MULTIPLE OUTLET/CONVERTER - some times the rooms have limited outlets for charging cameras and phones - you wouldn't want to miss capturing your memories, would you?!

*SUNGLASSES - especially for the kiddos!

*WATER BOTTLE - though the cruise ships have plenty of beverages it is always great to have one on hand, especially for when you leave the ship.

*SNACKS - we all know that cruise ships are known for the bounty of food they offer, but don't forget many of us leave the ship while at port, and you will definitely want some easy snacks to bring with - kids are ALWAYS hungry!

*A GOOD BOOK - there won't be many moments during the day to read if you're traveling with kids, but once they tuck out for the evening you will have plenty of time to yourself in the room (or hopefully on the balcony!)

*TRAVEL SIZE - I always ask my salon or skincare provider for samples of my favorite products so that I don't run the risk of losing my full size products to the fate of the baggage check on the flight over. It is also a great idea so you don't have to worry about accidentally forgetting your expensive toiletries on the ship once you pack up, as we all know life with kids can get a bit chaotic. Just take a deep breath and remember everything is replaceable!

Here are some inspiration boards of simple travel staples to pack for your crew should you have the chance to take a cruise in the near future. Notice they all start by a great swimsuit and some fun leisure activities - and they end with great memories!