Oh Joy

my favorite apps for kids... 25 Jan 2017

Storybots App

Recently, when I flew home to Philly for the holidays, some of you saw a story of my kids playing with different apps on the airplane and inquired about my favorite apps for kids. So, I wanted to share some of my recent favorites with you!

Now, since I know you will ask or may be curious about my opinions on screen time or how much time my kids get, I'll tell you what we do. We limit our kids' screen time (which includes TV and/or iPad) to less than one hour per day. Sometimes they use it, and sometimes we are busy doing things outside of the house that we never see a screen for the entire day. But, in general, an hour is the limit that works best for our family (which usually works out to 30 mins while I am prepping dinner and 30 minutes after dinner). However, I have noticed that when my kids are on the iPad, they sometimes get super zoned in and don't play with anything else at the same time, so now we limit iPad time to weekends only...or special times like long car rides, flights, or sick days. Of course, every family is different and every parent has their own rules, that's just what we've decided to implement. Now, onto some of my favorites and why...

Endless Spanish

Endless Wordplay

Originator apps — Originator created one of my all-time favorite kid's app called Endless Alphabet which helps so much with letter recognition and learning the sounds of each letter. The animated letters and stories they apply to each word are so fun that I am mesmerized every time I've watch my kids play it. They've since expanded to Endless Reader, Endless Wordplay, Endless Numbers, Endless Spanish, and more!

Sago Mini App

Sago Mini App

Sago Mini apps — Kids love characters, and if you don't necessarily want them watching TV characters on an app, Sago Mini is one of my favorites. The animals are so cute and lovable and they go on simple, but fun adventures. This is a good series for a younger toddler as they begin to recognize cause and effect.

Storybots App

Storybots App

Storybots apps - Storybots mixes games, books, and videos from apps, online series, and a Netflix show to create a ton of fun interactive options for young kids. I love the topics like "How Does an Airplane Fly?" and "Why Do I Have to Brush My Teeth?".

Osmo App

Osmo App

Osmo apps - This set is for slightly older toddlers and kids, but I love the interactivity of Osmo which combines the iPad with physical objects that kids can interact with so it crosses real life play with virtual play. A couple of our favorites include the Tangram and Coding games which stimulate problem solving and creativity.

What I love about some of my favorite apps is they are part of a growing series. So, if your kids like one, chances are they will like others from that same company so there will be new versions that grow with your kids! If there are any others you guys love, please share, I'd love to hear!

pom pom curtains... 9 Jan 2017

pom pom curtain DIY

While I love pattern, curtains are always one of those things I struggle with purchasing in a pattern. I usually want curtains that are neutral and classic so they don't compete with the other accessories I might bring into a room. However, I do love figuring out ways to bring fun details to curtains that add some color without over-taking the whole room. So, today, we're bringing you this fun pom pom curtain DIY! It's super cute for a kid's room or for any space that needs a touch of whimsy...

pom pom curtain DIY

You'll need:

- yarn

pom pom maker


- needle & thread

- scissors

pom pom curtain DIY

Here's how:

1. Decide what sized poms you want and how spaced apart you want them to be on your curtain. We opted for 1" wide poms spaced about 5" apart. So, using an extra small pom pom maker, that worked out to about 45 pom poms for an 84” length curtain.

2. Using a new curtain or one you already have, make sure the curtain doesn't have any fold lines or wrinkles on it, and iron them out if so. After making the pom poms and trimming the middle tie, sew them onto curtains through the base of each pom, spacing them however you like. For our curtain, we made rows of 4 and 3 poms, leaving about 5 inches between each pom pom.

3. Finally, hang your curtain up and enjoy! These types of curtains should not be in an area where they could get dirty or wet quickly (ie. not in a kitchen or bathroom). If they are kept in a clean, dry room, they'll stay fresh and colorful for a long time!

pom pom curtain DIY

pom pom curtain DIY

{Photos by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester, crafting by Jess Hong.}

how to choose a location for family photos... 22 Nov 2016

how to choose a location for family photos

I love sending out our annual family photo as something for my family to treasure, and also as a fun way to stay in touch with those we love who are far away and to keep them updated on how everyone has grown. Every year, as fall approaches, the hardest thing to figure out is where to take our family photos. I try to change the location every year, but still keep it close to our home and convenient for our family's schedule.

We've been using Artifact Uprising for our cards for years and love the clean and simple designs (on 100% recycled paper!) that really let the photos shine. The new foil designs this year are my favorite! So we've teamed up with them today to share my tips for choosing a great location for taking your family's photo... 

how to choose a location for family photos

1. An indoor studio — If weather is questionable, an indoor location or photo studio guarantees it won't rain or snow during your photo session. For our first family photo ever, our friends Max and Jesse teamed up to offer 20 minute pop-up photo sessions at a local studio in Los Angeles. All we had to do was show up—no worries about props, lighting, or weather conditions.

Featured: Foil-Stamped Merry Card

how to choose a location for family photos

2. Your neighborhood — For our 2nd year, we wanted to capture the beauty of our Los Angeles neighborhood. Ruby was only 2 years old, so we kept the location within 10 minutes of our house. Little kids can only really take photos for 15-20 minutes (maybe 30 minutes if you have an especially patient child) so close locations are helpful. Our photographer, Katherine, did such a good job capturing the simplicity and beauty of our surroundings while capturing my family's personality at the same time.

Featured: Simple Love To You & Yours Card; Foil-Stamped Happy Holidays Card

how to choose a location for family photos

3. At home — The easiest location of them all is home sweet home. For our 3rd year, Coco had just been born and so she was a tad too tiny to take out and about. We shot most of the photos in our bedroom with the kids playing, laying, or sitting on the bed with us. They were casual, personal, and Katherine really captured the joy of our new arrival so well.

Featured: With Love Grid Card

how to choose a location for family photos

4. A graphic background — For our 4th year, I was really into finding the coolest walls around Los Angeles. There are so many amazing murals to choose from in this city. However, I ended up going with something more graphic in texture and chose this huge wall outside of the Broad Museum. It was also an ode to my love of art and the excitement of Downtown Los Angeles (where the museum is located). Our amazing photographer, Morgan, shot these photos right before sunset so the light was natural with a beautiful glow.

Featured: New Adventures, New Year Card with Foil; Simple Hand-Letterd Holiday Card

how to choose a location for family photos

5. If all else fails, add props — Sometimes when you take family photos, it can feel weird to just stand there and smile. We always take posed photos but then also just play and let the kids do their thing. One thing that helps loosen things up are some simple props. You don't have to turn it into a wedding photo booth, but whether it's a bunch of beach balls or a pile of flowers from your garden, props can add a whimsical touch to photos. For this year's photo, we went to a local garden and took a bunch of streamers for the kids to play with and hold. Our photographer, Morgan, checked out the garden the day before to make sure there would be some open areas where the kids could just run wild with streamers in hand. The streamers added lightness and extra color to our natural setting. 

Featured: Here's to the Good New Years Card

Hopefully, seeing all the locations we've taken family photos in the past give you ideas for your upcoming and future family photos! 

P.S. Artifact Uprising is offering a special code for 10% off their Holiday Photo Cards for Oh Joy readers. Simply enter OHJOYXAU16 at checkout by November 29th. And, tips for choosing outfits for family photos!

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Artifact Uprising—a brand I've used and loved for years. All words are my own. 

{Flat photos by Casey Brodley, flat styling by Julia Wester. Family photos by: Max Wanger, Jesse Marble, Katherine Rose, and Morgan Pansing.}

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party... 15 Nov 2016

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

I now have six birthday parties under my belt, and I finally feel that with this most recent one, I was able to nail so many things that I missed in parties previous. So for those of you with mini celebrations in your future, here are my 10 tips for throwing a great kid's party...

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

1. Serve handheld foods. If you can avoid having food that requires utensils, you can make eating-while-partying easier on everyone. I've had salads, mac & cheese, fruit salad, and plenty of food that required utensils in the past. But, for this last party, my rule was no utensils and all hand-held and bite-sized foods. We even had donuts instead of cake to cut down on the time it takes to cut and serve a cake. I spent more time being able to enjoy the party and easily maintain it throughout the two hours, rather than having to worry about cutting cake, serving food, or running out of forks and knives.

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

2. Have food ready as soon as party starts. One year, our food showed up an hour and a half late due to the delivery truck breaking down. And the only snack I brought was a few bags of popcorn that were quickly eaten by hungry guests as they waited for lunch to be ready. Even if your party starts early, before you think your guests are ready to eat, people need something to do to keep themselves busy at a party and they like to grab small bites even if they're not ready for a full meal yet. So, this year, we had all of the food ready to go and out on tables right when the party started and it made a world of difference for everyone's energy level.

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

3. Paper plates and cups. This might seem obvious, but serving food on disposable plates and trays makes for super easy clean-up. We even had the food served on disposable trays which made clean-up at a public park so much easier!

4. Have lots of trash bins available. One thing that is always missing at a lot of parties is that people always forget to bring is more than one trash can/bag. If you can set out at least 2 large bins, you won't have to worry about having to empty/refill it during the party. And, guests can more easily dispose of trash on their own if they see bins out.

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

5. Activity stations. The activities don't have to be fancy, but it's nice to have a few different things for kids to do at a party. The exact activities will depend on the ages of kids at the party and also if you want to tie activities to a theme. But I like a mix of a couple of sit down activities with a couple of things they can simply run around with (like balls and bubbles!).

6. Make your music playlist in advance. These days, there are so many great music stations (Apple music, Spotify, Pandora) that you can play music from your phone to a wireless speaker in no time. And music for a kids' party can be something you whip up on the spot. BUT, if you have 15 minutes the night before the party, I like making a playlist the parents will love and one the kids will love. Then you can play them at different times during the party or just mash them together at random.

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

7. Have dual parties while you can. If you have kids who have birthdays in the same month, save yourself the trouble of having two celebrations when you can have one big one! From what I hear from most parents who do this, their kids actually love it for a long time, but eventually as they get older, they want their own separate party (totally fair!). Just make sure to have activities for both ages and have two cakes and two birthday songs so everyone feels special ;)

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

8. Cover tables in paper instead of table cloths. I rented little kid tables for the first time this year, and those made a world of difference in getting kids to actually sit down at a party. Also, we covered them in white kraft paper (and simply taped the ends underneath). It made for an easily solution to a table cloth that doubled as drawing paper. And, it was a breeze to clean up afterwards taking any spills or messes made with it.

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

9. Themes are fun. While you don't have to have a theme, it's a fun way to have your kids be involved in an idea for their own party, and it helps you focus on activities, favors, a cake, or other things that fit into that theme. It doesn't have to be complicated. One of my friends once did a theme that involved all round things and had donut holes, oranges, and balls. If you're doing a joint party, let each kid come up with a part of the theme and join the two ideas together. Another friend mixed her son's and her daughter's ideas to come up with a Doggie Diamond theme—totally original and fun!

10 tips for throwing a great kid's party

10. It doesn't matter how big or small it is. You don't have to have a birthday party every year. It doesn't have to be big or fancy, it's just about however you want to celebrate your kid's big day. It can be just your family, 5 friends over for cake, or 50 kids in your backyard. All that matters is that it's fun for them, and not too stressful for you.

{Photos by Casey Brodley} 

names and faces near and far... 7 Nov 2016

Names and Faces Book

We love living on the West Coast. But the downside is not getting to see our family on the East Coast as much as we would like. Bob and I make sure to have weekly video chats with our parents so they can interact with their grandchildren regularly. And, as two-year-old Coco is growing her vocabulary and learning more words every day, we love teaching her in ways that are applicable to her life...and to her family.


So we recently made this cute book for Coco from Pinhole Press because she loves the one we made for Ruby a few years ago. It's called a Mini Book of Names and Faces, and each page shows Coco with a member of her family! Since our kids call their grandparents by their Thai and Korean names, we created the book to match. And of course, we had to include Max the cat ;). Our kids love seeing themselves in a book, and it's a fun way for them to see familiar faces of those they love who live far away. 

With the holidays coming up, this would be such a special gift for a little one in your life. Exclusively for Oh Joy! readers, Pinhole Press is offering 15% off all kids products (and they have seven brand new gifts!) now through November 13th. Use code OHJOY at checkout.

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Pinhole PressAll words are my own.

{Photos by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester.}

travel essentials with kids... 1 Nov 2016

travel essentials with kids

From recent travels with my kids, here are a few things I really love...in no particular order...

Ave Dee fanny pack - For when you need to carry some essentials, without carrying a full-on bag, this basic and durable fanny pack does the job!

Calpak Packing Cubes - I pack my whole family's clothes into one suitcase, so these are essential for dividing up clothes as well as for helping to keep things organized in a suitcase full of stuff.

Calpak marble suitcase - I love how light this suitcase is. Plus, the marble version looks way chic and no one mixes up your suitcase at the airport.

Parasol diapers - These are thin and light, yet still super absorbent, and take up less weight when traveling. Plus, you can order them in advance and have them delivered to your hotel or vacation rental.

Lil Gadgets headphones - For a road trip or an airplane ride, these headphone are perfectly sized for little ears and heads and make it easy to keep your little ones occupied when needed.

Toms shoes - When you need walking shoes that are easy for kids to put on and take off themselves. This style is one of my favorites.

Zig Zag guides - When traveling to a new city, it's always nice to get kids excited for things they might see. I love the format of these guides because the cards are fun for kids to pick up and play with as they learn.

Oh Joy for Target diaper backpack - I might be biased because this is our bag, but I use it with my kids as my go-to bag. It keeps all of their essentials and keep me hands-free for chasing after them!

giant paper flower DIY... 26 Oct 2016

giant paper flower DIY

giant paper flower DIY

For my girls' floral-themed birthday party, we made these giant neon paper flowers to spread throughout the park. They were a huge hit with both adults and kids alike and we wanted to share the DIY with you today...these would be amazing for a wedding, birthday party, or even for a front lawn decoration! See how right here...


a children's book {giveaway}...[now closed] 25 Oct 2016

Wide Eyed collection

Reading a bedtime story with Coco and Ruby every night before they go to bed for the night is the best part of my day. While we love classic books, I love exposing them to the world with all of the amazing art and lessons that books have these days. The Wide Eyed collection has some of the most stylish and nicely illustrated children's books I have ever seen. So today, we've partnered with Quarto Publishing to give away 20 books from their Wide Eyed collection to one lucky reader! That's approximately a $450 value—hello Christmas shopping list done!

Wide Eyed collection

To enter, visit the Wide Eyed collection. Then, leave a comment here telling me your favorite book (I love the Hello Atlas and Illuminature) and who you would give them to! Entries close this Friday, October 28th at 8am PST and one winner will be chosen at random.* Good luck!

UPDATE: Congrats to Kristen W. from Rosemead, CA for being our winner this time! 

*This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada! Please do not leave your email or web address in the body of the comment, only in the allotted boxes. Approximately $450 USD total value per winner. Winner will be contacted via email once comments close, and announced at the bottom of this post soon after.

{Photos by Casey Brodleystyling by Julia Wester.}

happy friday + a joint birthday party... 21 Oct 2016

oh joy / floral birthday party

oh joy / floral birthday party

oh joy / floral birthday party

Last week, Ruby turned 5 (five!) and yesterday, my little Coco turned 2 (what?!). I still do not understand how time really does go by so fast. With two October babies, this year, we decided to throw a joint birthday party. I was nervous about having one big party with kids in a range of ages...but I'm so glad we did. It was definitely my favorite party to date, and I was the least stressed about it and was able to enjoy myself the most of any of their birthday parties of the past. Here are a ton of very cute photos from the day and more about what we did if you'd like to see more...


planning a joint garden birthday party! 10 Oct 2016


October is a big month in our house with both of my girls celebrating a birthday! Ruby turns 5 this week, and Coco turns 2 next week! Last year, I threw two different parties on the same weekend (crazy, I know), so this year we decided to have a joint birthday party and combine efforts into one bash for my little ladies. 

Here are some things that will go into decorating and planning a lovely little garden party...

01. Decor - Our party will be outdoors in a public garden area. Since decorations need to be set up pretty quickly, I always stick to things we can hang without having to nail or tape anything to public property like these clusters of honeycombs from Poppies for Grace and these giant paper flowers which we made (and will share the DIY soon!).

02. Outfits - Since we have a floral theme, it was super easy to find outfits from my kids' existing wardrobe and not have to buy anything new. Ruby is wearing a vintage dress we found earlier this year while we were shopping at Shareen Vintage with her Zuzii sandals. Coco is wearing this outfit that she still fits in from Crew & Lu and shoes by Zuzii.

03. Table - You guys know I love a good paper plate! We're mixing and matching a bunch of fun pieces from the Oh Happy Day shop including these floral and dotty plates. And the same gold glitter numbers we use every year by Little Cat Design Co. along with these awesome colorful candles.

04. Activity Stations - The park doesn't have a playground, so we'll have a few activities for the kids including a cookie decorating table and a floral necklace making table.

05. Book Drive - In lieu of gifts, we're asking all our friends to bring a book (gently used or new) for us to collect and donate to Baby2Baby for children in need. We did the same thing for Coco's 1st birthday, and we collected over 40 books last year! It's a great option for when you don't want or need more toys, and we always take the kids to bring the books and see where they're going to.

Stay tuned next week for some photos from this weekend's party!

{Photos by Casey Brodley. Party styling by Joy Cho, flat styling by Julia Wester.}


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