Showing posts from: travel

Goodbye, California. Hello, New Zealand.

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Raincoat: H&M (similar here, here, and here); Dress: ASOS (similar here and here); Bandana: Zara (similar here and here); Boots: old (similar here, here, and here

So if you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know by now that we have made a huge move across the world from California (the only home my boys have ever known) to New Zealand. A few months before the move, I began mentioning often that we were moving, but rarely alluded to when and where because I wanted to make sure that we had everything set before officially announcing everything (getting the boys visas in order, letting Dustin’s job know, telling family and close friends, etc.). And then the months turned to weeks and the weeks turned to days and we were suddenly boarding a flight to New Zealand and I hadn’t even mentioned where we were going or what was happening. I’ve been getting lots of emails and comments and messages asking us what motivated our move to New Zealand and well, there are lots of reasons, but I’ll do my best to explain here.

Dustin and I have talked about living in another country (literally for over five years) – wanting to experience life outside of the United States and to let our children experience another culture – but we have been too terrified to actually take the plunge, constantly discussing the possibility and then just as quickly dismissing it as we came up with a million reasons why it couldn’t be done (financially, jobs, family, etc.). So it has been something that we have wanted to do for a long time and we finally just decided ok, let’s do it.

I have lived in California (Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and San Diego) for over ten years and Dustin has lived in California his entire life. For the past couple of years, we have lived in Southern California, where Dustin has a huge family presence, and there were so many things we loved about living there – being close to family, the great friends we met, living by the ocean, the weather, and the California lifestyle in general.

But there were some aspects of our life that we weren’t loving and we started feeling like we needed to make a change with our lives.  One was the amount of time and effort Dustin was putting into work. During the week (every single week) he would be gone for three to four days in Los Angeles and I would be home with the boys on my own. Dustin was working around 65 hours per week (getting up in the middle of the night for a few hours every night even after a long days work and working on the weekends) with no vacation time, not many benefits, and still not living as comfortably as we would like. After two years of this endless cycle, it was starting to feel like he had his own life and the boys and I had our own life.

We really felt like we were stuck in “the ratrace” and we just couldn’t get out of it. Seemingly working harder and harder, but not really moving ahead financially or getting to where we wanted to be in life. We realized our family life and marriage life were suffering, and we really wanted to make a change that would put family life first.

We have also rented for many years as I have never been entirely positive of where I wanted to settle down and was always scared to buy a property and be stuck per say. But it was getting to the point where it was time to purchase a home for our family and choose a place to officially settle down for some time. With Holden getting older, it seemed like it was time to find a home and make it our own – a place where the kids could grow up. Yet, California property can be very pricey. I kept dreaming about a tiny house on a big chunk of land (so we could have animals) overlooking the ocean and to be honest, I’m not sure a piece of property exists like that in San Diego.

So when we decided that we wanted to find our dream home, a simpler life, and focus on our family and marriage for a little bit, we had to decide where in the world we wanted to move. Both of my parents are from New Zealand and I visited often as a child. As we seriously started discussing moving to another country, New Zealand was top of the list because of two things: (1) I have dual citizenship (which would make getting visas for the boys a little easier) and (2) I have a large family over here, both of which would make the huge transition to another country and lifestyle just a little bit easier.

So we finally applied for visas and said if we got them we would just go (we didn’t even buy our tickets until two weeks before we left, that’s how indecisive we were about actually taking the plunge).

It’s a new adventure and it can definitely be stressful thinking about all of the logistics when it comes to setting up a life here in another country, but we are also incredibly excited about the opportunities and adventures that lay ahead of us. It feels so good to finally be able to share this new adventure with you all and I can’t wait to share more!!

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


























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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Travel with Kids: Where to Stay in Palm Springs


Looking for a relaxing family vacation this summer? 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 a little worried about being in 100+ degree heat with a preschooler and a toddler for an entire week (hey, we are from San Diego where it’s temperate temperatures year round), but when every place you stay has a pool and air conditioning, you really have nothing to worry about. The pool provided endless entertainment for both us as parents and our little ones as well and we all found ourselves enjoying the warm weather. Below I’m sharing where you should stay in Palm Springs when you are traveling with little ones in tow (no matter what time of year it is) and why these accommodations are kid-friendly.

So if were hesitant about booking a trip in the heat to Palm Springs because of the kids, don’t be! The Junipero, Modern Territory, and Avalon Hotel are perfect for those planning a family vacation to Palm Springs.

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The Junipero Main House (Psssst.Join Airbnb with this link to save $25 on your booking).

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 (Psssst….Join Airbnb with this link to save $25 on your booking).

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.

Family Friendly Travel in Malibu with Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe Zuma Barn from Juice Box Media on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, we went to Malibu for a quick getaway. Dustin works out of LA for part of the week (every single week!) and being alone with the boys can get well, lonely…so we decided to surprise him one day by picking him and kidnapping him for a local getaway.

We rented the Kid & Coe Zuma Barn and it is probably one of the most amazing houses and properties that I have ever come across in my entire life. It was one of those places that was so amazing that I just wanted to everyone I knew to know about it!

Kid & Coe is a family friendly rental service that provides houses that are made for children. If you are traveling with kids, I can not say enough good things about Kid & Coe. Think, Airbnb, but designed specifically for family travel. All of the homes are impeccably designed and most importantly, made for families that want a home away from home.

Before staying with them, to be honest, I wasn’t so sure about the whole concept or how it would differ from any other home rental service. I figured my children are adaptable and I don’t need a rental home designed specially for them…or so I thought. When we walked into the Zuma Barn, the fridge and counter were stocked with snacks for us and the kids. There was baby shampoo and body wash in the bathroom plus a baby bathtub, there was a crib that they had brought into the kids room for us, a changing pad and wipes on the bed, and an entire playroom filled with books, toys and art supplies. Not to mention the huge yard that was basically a child’s dream come true. We didn’t have to bring anything other than clothes, we didn’t have to run out last minute once we had arrived to pick up something from Target that we had forgotten to bring, and not having to worry about anything made it feel so luxurious. It was like everything had been taken care of and all we had to do was relax and enjoy ourselves. Although there is so much to explore in Malibu, we pretty much never left the house because it had everything we needed.

****UPDATED**** Kid & Coe is offering $50 off for all of you!!!  Just use the code ISOBEL+KIDANDCOE when checking out. The code will expire in 3 months on September 1, 2016 so make sure to book before then.

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