A Fifth Birthday and Batman Shoes

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Today, my oldest turned 5! There is something about the number 5 that just seems so old, doesn’t it? I know it’s so cliche, but it honestly feels like I gave birth, blinked and here we are, celebrating his 5 years on this planet. He really is such an amazing boy, teaches me so much about life, and makes me want to be a better person every single day. He is the kindest and most caring and empathetic boy in the entire world and truly has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. I feel so proud and honored that he is a part of our family.

Since we are moving in less than a month (more on that later!), we ended up doing a small birthday party with family and a few close friends over the weekend and then celebrated with just us all day today ending the day at Corvette Diner (a place that leaves my ears ringing for hours afterwards, but makes dinnertime so much fun for the little ones).

For his birthday this year, all Holden wanted was a Batman outfit. I have never introduced him to any of the super heroes and since we don’t even own a TV, I’m not quite sure how he even discovered Batman – but he suddenly seems to be into ALL of the real boy stuff and well, Batman is at the top of his list right now.

I almost always shy away from dressing my boys in character t-shirts, shorts, and shoes, but I do think that every kid needs a costume or two in his closet for impromptu dress-up. I found a Batman costume at Costco and then when I saw these Stride Rite Leepz, I knew they would be the perfect way to complete Holden’s Batman ensemble.

We ordered them from Zappos and they arrived the very next day (at no additional cost!), which was amazing since Holden asked me every five minutes after I ordered them when they were going to arrive ha! I was a little nervous about ordering online and not getting the correct size, but you really can’t beat their 365 day return policy. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry because they fit and haven’t left Holden’s feet since they showed up on our doorstep.

Holden has wanted light up shoes for the longest time and I’ve always convinced him out of them because I didn’t consider them “cool” or “in style” and when he was younger, he didn’t have the strongest opinions about what he wanted to wear, so it really wasn’t a big deal. But I have gotten to the point now that he’s older that all that matters to me is that he is confident and feels “cool” in what he wears (not what I think)…and you guys, you can tell that he feels like he is the coolest kid on the planet when he is walking around in these shoes. And you know what, I really love them too!

The Stride Rite Leepz light-up this neon green on the sides every time he walks or jumps or runs and people stop him everywhere we go to comment on them. I’m pretty sure (if you can’t tell from the photos ^^^) that Holden thinks that these shoes give him real-life super hero powers. At night, they look pretty incredible when he’s running around in the dark and all you see is a flash of green light. They aren’t gimmecky or cheesy, but are a really well-made shoe that will last until he grows out of them (despite the fact that he will probably wear them every single day until he can no longer fit his feet into them). So if you’re boy needs a pair of Batman shoes, or just a really cool pair of light-up shoes that you will both love, then these are the ones you need.

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Where to Stay and What to Do with Kids in Santa Barbara

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All photos by Kristen Beink

Dress by Echo & Atlas

When we were in Santa Barbara, we stayed at the most amazing Airbnb and had the most amazing photographer, Kristen Beink, come to document our family in this sweet little home and I couldn’t help but share some of the images. And if you live in Santa Barbara and are looking for a family photographer, she was absolutely wonderful with kids!

Where to Stay in Santa Barbara:

There are lots of hotels to choose from in Santa Barbara, but most of them are pretty pricey and we always find that Airbnb’s workout better with kids. With an airbnb, you have your own space and you don’t have to eat out every single meal, which doesn’t always work with children’s schedules. We rented the The Fig House for the week and it was perfect. It was within walking distance of downtown which was great for morning strolls to the get coffee and pastries or for just wandering before any real activities are planned. They had a great outdoor area for al fresco dinners, hammock swinging, and rock collecting. It had plenty of space for the boys to play and relax…and a fully stocked kitchen where we were able to cook the majority of our meals.

What to Do with Kids in Santa Barbara: 

Santa Barbara Zoo – the zoo is a smaller-sized zoo, but there is so much to do that you could spend all day here. There’s a train that goes around the entire zoo. There’s a giant hill with cardboard that the kids can slide down and we honestly spent most of our time here versus seeing the animals.

Natural History Museum – This is one of our favorite museums of all time. Currently on display is Sue, the second most complete T-rex skeleton ever found. We also got to walk into the butterfly exhibit where we were surrounded by hundreds of butterflies. Another amazing part is that there is open woods part of the museum for exploring, picnicking, and climbing trees, in nature.

East Beach – Tucked between the pier and the volleyball courts, this wide expanse of beach is perfect for kids. It has a playground in the sane and there’s a cafe for food when the little ones need a snack.

Picnic at the Rose Gardens – A beautiful rose garden perched at the bottom of an open, grassy hill. Perfect place to stop for a picnic and let the kids run around and roll down the grassy slope.

Turtle Pond in La Arcada Shopping Center of Downtown – If you’re exploring downtown and your kids need a break from shopping, make a quick stop at the turtle pond. It’s filled with twenty to thirty different turtles and the kids will love watching them swim around and poke their heads out of the water.

Top of the Courthouse – It’s completely free and there’s an elevator so you can take your stroller with you to the top and get a 360 degree view of Santa Barbara from the mountains to the ocean.

Chase Palm Park – Pond with Koi Fish, Carasoul, Shipwreck Playground


The Ultimate Guide to Venice Beach with Kids

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After our trip to Palm Springs, we continued north stopping in Los Angeles for a week. Throughout the week, we stayed in a couple of different areas of Los Angeles to get a real feel for the city and Venice Beach was one of our favorite spots in L.A. A lot of that had to due with the walkability factor – not having to hop into a car with little ones in tow in a city that is known for it’s heavy traffic was one of the big reasons we loved this area. It was eclectic, with a variety of things to do, and felt like it’s own little town despite being in the big city.

WHERE TO STAY

We rented the cutest Airbnb in Venice Beach. The house is located on a quiet, walk-only street and yet is only a block and half from the beach and a short walk to some amazing restaurants and shops. Beautifully decorated and styled, the house was perfect for our family: stocked with snacks for both us and the kids and some great family-friendly board games that kept the boys entertained during our downtime in the evenings.

SHOP

Kid Firefly (1405 Abbot Kinney Blvd): A modern baby store stocked with unique pieces that both you and your kiddo will be drooling over. The shelves were filled with handmade toys, interesting books, and beautiful pieces of clothing. I would have bought out the entire store if I could have. There were jars of little trinkets where the boys each picked out a little toy to bring home with them.

EAT

Gjusta: There isn’t a sign on the door or prices listed on the menu and the ordering is a little chaotic, BUT this place is an absolute gem and you can’t go wrong eating breakfast or lunch here. 320 Sunset Ave, Venice, CA 90291

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop: A casual spot with healthy lunch options, beautiful interior style, and a sunny patio that was not only delicious, but kid-friendly so we didn’t feel bad when Gray climbed on the table or Holden dropped a pile of ketchup on the ground.

Salt & Straw: We couldn’t walk by and not go in for a scoop. Favorite ice cream store that we’ve been to in a long, long time.

SEE

The Mosaic Tile House: This house, composed completely of mosaic tile pieces, is a must see. Just make sure to make an appointment for a tour so you can go inside the house (we made that mistake and only saw it from the outside…although still amazing).

Heart Wall: Make a quick pit stop for a photo against this bright and colorful wall while strolling down Abbott Kinney.

Venice Beach Boardwalk: Filled with interesting and eclectic people and shops, you can’t miss this spot. We walked up and down with the kids, found a store filled with figurines made from scrap metal, a man selling beautiful wind chimes, and listened to a really good singer. Holden even got took a ride on an electric skateboard with a surf instructors that we ran into in the parking lot. When the kids are done with walking, hit the playground in the sand or walk down to the water to relax for a little bit before walking home.

Venice Canals: Fashioned after the Venice Canals in Italy, it’s a great place to stroll and let the kids get out some energy. Very serene and a completely different feel from that of the boardwalk.


Where to Stay in Palm Springs

FIND OUT WHERE TO STAY IN PALM SPRINGS

We took the boys for a week’s vacation to Palm Springs when the heat was high and the tourists were no where to be seen. I was worried about being in 100+ degree heat with two kids, but when every place you stay has a pool, there is nothing to worry about. The pool provided endless entertainment for everyone and we all found ourselves actually enjoying the heat. Below I’m sharing where you should stay in Palm Springs and why these accommodations are kid-friendly so if you haven’t planned a trip to Palm Springs yet, now is the time to do it!

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The Junipero

Our first stop in Palm Springs landed us at The Junipero, one of the most beautifully designed and furnished places I have ever seen. Made up of a 2-bedroom main house with three additional one-bedroom bungalows on the property, The Junipero is a tranquil and relaxing spot close to downtown Palm Springs. With a pool and hot tub to keep you entertained during the day and a huge outdoor patio for al fresco dining in the evening equipped with fans and heaters depending on the temperature, you won’t want to leave the property. Unless you are stopping by Ernest Coffee, owned by the same person that owns The Junipero, for the perfect way to start your morning. Holden still says that this was his favorite place that we have stayed for our entire trip.

Why it works for kids…

The Junipero has a full-size kitchen and a washer and dryer. The property was kid-friendly and there didn’t seem like there was much that the kids could get into or break inside the house. The pool has a built-in lounge area with shades where the kids can sit and splash without having to swim or you hold them and the pool-side lounge and dining area is perfect for family meals.

Everything about this place makes it the perfect Palm Springs getaway.

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The Modern Territory

Our next stop was The Modern Territory, a large house in the center of town with a bohemian, electic vibe. With three bedrooms and a detached pool house that has its own bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette (perfect for bringing Grandma and Grandpa along), this house is made for large families or group getaways. We invited our friends, the Hendrix family, to join us at The Modern Territory for a couple of days of sun, swimming, and fun.

Why it works for kids…

It’s a large house so there is plenty of room for the little ones to run around. Holden and Lucca had their own room which they loved. There is a full kitchen, a grill, and a huge outdoor dining table which we used for more than a few group dinners. There’s even a fire pit for those cooler evenings. When the kids weren’t swimming in the pool, they are playing fooz ball, swinging in the hammock, or playing house in the garden behind the house. There seemed to be endless entertainment at The Modern Territory.

The Modern Territory is a great spot for group getaways or a family getaway with Grandma and Grandpa in tow in Palms Springs.

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Avalon Hotel & Bungalows Palm Springs

When you’re ready for valet, room service, delicious smoothie deliveries poolside, and a 24-hour concierge at your beck and call…then head to the Avalon Hotel & Bungalows Palm Springs. The reason this place is so great is that they not only have hotel rooms, but they also have Bungalows that are perfect for families traveling with little ones. And the restaurant at the hotel is amazing so you basically never have to leave. You have to try their flash-fried cauliflower…I promise you won’t regret it.

Why it works for kids…

If you don’t want to share a hotel room with your kids, then look into booking one of the Bungalows at the Avalon. With more than one room, these little bungalows are perfect for families that need a little more space than what a hotel room offers, but with all of the amenities of a hotel. There is also a family pool at the Avalon that is specifically designated for guests with children, so you don’t have to worry about splashing or disturbing people that may be looking for a more relaxing experience.

The Avalon Hotel Palm Springs is a great getaway for families.


Home Tour: Bold and Colorful Kid-Friendly Living Room Design

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Photos by Chrissy Powers

If you’re following me on Instagram, then you will know that we have moved out of our house in San Diego and are currently traveling while we wait for our next home to be ready – we are hoping to have everything in place by September. Before we moved out of our home, I had some photos taken of the space that the boys and I created together and I was honored to have our home featured on Design Sponge. I wanted to share a few more photos that didn’t make the cut here.

When my husband accepted a job in San Diego two years ago, we decided to move somewhere close to his office, which after years of a long commute, was something that was very important to us. Dropping home for lunch and being home for dinner at a reasonable hour were huge to us. Everything happened really quickly with my husband’s job and we weren’t able to find and buy a home before he needed to start work and be in the office so we moved into a rental while continuing the search for our perfect home. But as is life, what we thought would be six months stretched into a year and half, a new job (based in L.A. which meant the commute resumed), and a new baby.

I feel that is so often the case – time ends up passing without you even realizing it – which is why I think it’s always important to settle in and make a place feel like home from the get-go. Rental or not, I want my boys to immediately feel at home wherever we are. Knowing that this was a rental and not our forever home, gave me the opportunity to make it fun, colorful, bold, and playful – and allow the boys to incorporate their own ideas into the design of our space to make it a kid-friendly and family-friendly design.

***Source list for everything at the bottom. 
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^^^I needed more photos for our gallery wall so I added some of Holden’s artwork into it. He was so proud to have his art hanging on his wall.

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^^^We have a tradition of taking photo booth photos whenever we are at the zoo. We tape up our most recent ones on the mirror.

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^^^The side table books include one of my favorites, about style, and then one of Holden’s favorites, a behind the scenes look at Disneyland.

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^^^Print and pattern play with Caitlin Wilson Textiles

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^^^One of my favorite purchases, a custom chair from Joybird Furniture
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^^^We used this Baby Bjorn bassinet when Gray was younger and I love that it integrated easily into the style of the room.

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^^^Giant family photos in Ikea frames

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^^^We had all of our wedding guests sign this poster. Love that we can look at the messages and well wishes from our closest family and friends daily. We don’t have the room to keep the boy’s Tnees Tpees teepee up all the time so we leave in the corner so that it’s easily accessible and the boys can take it out themselves.

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^^^This amazing runner from Pink Rug Co. is everything. I love that it pulls all the colors in the room together and really makes everything flow.

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^^^I choose this bookcase from West Elm instead of a traditional, rectangle one and I love the way it adds dimension to the room. It holds random pieces we have collected over the years and some of the boys’ artwork. The bottom two shelves hold books, puzzles, and toys that the boys use on a daily basis.

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^^^Trinkets and treasures that both the boys and I have collected.

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^^^That Ikea walking man that Holden painted and theSpin Gallery Goods wanderlust globe are two of my favorite pieces on the shelf.

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^^^I will treasure this custom Sophie & Lili illustration of the boys and I from last Halloween forever.

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^^^Handmade art of Holden’s can be found all over the house.

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^^^I got these giant marquee lights years ago (aren’t they fun?) and more of the boys artwork and some recent photos hang underneath.

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Living Room:

Sofa: craigslist
Sofa Cushions: Caitlin Wilson Textiles
Throw Blankets: Ikea & Target
Rug: Rugs Direct
Coffee Table: All Modern
Floor Lamp: All Modern
Arm Chair: Joybird Furniture
Indoor Plants & Planters: Pigment
Fluffy Stool: Furbish Studio
Black & White Striped Teepee: Tnees Tpees
Bassinet: Baby Bjorn
Yarn Art: DIY
Horse Bookends: Vintage
Media Center: Ikea
Large Frames: Ikea
Runner Rug (Teal Coloring): Pink Rug Co.
Bookcase: Ladder Bookshelf by West Elm
Custom Illustration: Sophie & Lili
Wanderlust Globe: Spin Gallery Goods
Plant & Planter on Bookshelf: Pigment
Dining Area:
 
Dining Table: Industry West
Yellow Chairs: Amazon
Eames Style Chairs: Amazon
Love Marquee Lights: Carnival Letters
Happily Ever After Print: Ashley Goldberg