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happy friday + work in progress...

Oh Joy! Self Help Book List

The other day, I was reading one of the books above (a parenting book), and Ruby asked me what I was reading. I told her, "Well, I am reading this book about how to be a parent." She responded, "You already are one, why do you need to read about it?" And I replied, "Well, this job is really hard and sometimes I have no idea what I am doing!" Then, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to playing.

Currently, I'm in a bit of a discovery phase of my life. I'm trying to grow in areas that I think I could use help in, and also be open to changes knowing that there is so much more to come that I don't even know about yet. I understand that was the most vague sentence ever, but all I mean is that I am very aware of the work in progress that I am as a person, a parent, a friend, a leader, a mentor...so I am reading more than usual right now and wanted to share those reads with you if you're interested!

The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child — I just started reading this book. The sub-title speaks to what it's about but what I am loving so far is that what they are teaching to you as a parent can also be applied to your own life in addition to your child's life. Curiosity, courage, and resilience are qualities we all need!

Now Say This: The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma — I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this over the holiday break, and it came at the perfect time where I could really focus on putting these tips into practice while home with my kids during the long break. There are some key steps from this book that I use everyday when dealing with meltdowns and disagreements. It's also helped to retrain the way I respond to my kids during their most upset moments. I am getting ready to read it again because I need a refresher with every stage of parenting!

Authentic Success: Essential Lessons and Practices from the World's Leading Coaching Program on Success Intelligence — This book is the only non-parenting book I am reading right now because my life coach (yes, I started working with a life coach!) has me reading it. It has raised a lot of questions for me about what success really is and my vision of success. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is very goal oriented and always looking for what's next on the bucket list.

{Amazing photo above shot by my iPhone ;P}

making wishes...

Making Wishes with Kids / Oh Joy!

Sometimes on Instagram Stories, I'll share little activities or things I do with my kids that you guys ask details about afterwards. So I wanted to start sharing them here on the blog, too, so they can have a place to live on forever.

While we were in Hawaii, my kids loved passing by fountains and throwing in coins to make wishes. Kids' wishes are so simple and pure and mine often said they wanted to fly or wanted to see a rainbow. So, inspired by my kids' love of making wishes in fountains and my friend, Max Wanger's "dreams list" he wrote with his son recently, I asked my girls to write down their wishes. Well, actually, this is just Ruby's since Coco can't write more than her name right now. But, if you have a kid who doesn't yet write, you can also ask them to tell them to you and write for them. The fun thing about this exercise is they get to think about actual things they wish for as well as things outside of the scope of the real world. Because to kids, those lines are so blurred right now. Anyway, for those of you with kids or nieces/nephews, kids you babysit...try it out! It would be fun to make these Wish Lists regularly and watch how they change over time!

our family vacation to hawaii!

A Family Vacation to Hawaii / Oh Joy!

A Family Vacation to Hawaii / Oh Joy!

Last week for spring break, we took a family trip to Hawaii. We had not been on a longer vacation like this in a couple years...AND the trip was extra special because we also brought along my parents and my brother for an extended family trip! With my parents living in Philly and us living in Los Angeles, we only get to see them in person a couple times a year. It's always bittersweet to have your kids so far away from their grandparents, so it was an opportunity to spend really great quality time with them. Also, my dad hasn't been on a vacation in TEN YEARS! He is a business owner and workaholic like I am, so I had to force him to come with us. I convinced him we had to take the chance to do these things while we can and not keep putting it off. In partnership with Disney's Aulani Resort, we had SUCH a great week in Oahu. Here's a look at what we did if you'd like to see...

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happy friday + be amazing...

Oh Joy! Be Amazing

Every so often, you witness another parent do something that just sticks with you. My friend Audrey gave me the idea for "Choose Your Own Adventure", and it's often something so simple like this that means so much to kids. I recently noticed a dad at school telling his daughter, "Be great" before he kissed her goodbye in the morning. It was short and sweet, but the way in which he said it had so much meaning. I will happily be inspired by other parents to create a version for my own kids. So now, every morning when I drop my kids off at school, I have started to give them a positive message like that before I say goodbye.

I'll say, "Be amazing", "Be Fantastic", "Be Silly", or any other adjective that gives them that sunshine to head into their own adventure for the day.

Ruby has loved it, and now says back to me, "Mommy, be amazing at work today!"

And I reply, "I will!"

{Photo by Morgan Pansing}

my favorite apps for kids...

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!

a spring adventure kit!

Adventure-kit_01-blog

The weather has been so nice here in LA lately that it's really making me and my family change up our normal weekend routine and go on more unplanned adventures. Sometimes we'll have an impromptu picnic in a new park or drive to go find dinner not knowing where we'll end up. In order to prepare for any adventures that might come our way, we've put together a little Spring Adventure Kit.

Pack a bag with a few of these essentials, toss it in your car or by the door, and you're prepared to have instant fun ready to go whether you're heading to the park, to a friend's house, or to visit a relative last minute. Here's what's in my kit...

1. a kite, 2. Oh Joy! First Aid Kit and BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages by Oh Joy! to be ready in case of any boo-boos, 3. memory card game, 4. jump rope, 5. picnic mat, 6. binonculars, 7. bubbles, 8. mini flashlight, 9. sidewalk chalk,  10. water bottles, 11. a ball, 12. instant camera and film, and 13. a duffle or tote to hold everything in it's place when on the go! 

P.S. Everything here can be found in stores or online exclusively at Target.

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

a growing family portrait...

  Oh Joy Family Portrait / Thank You Card by Rifle Paper Co.

When Ruby was born a few years ago, I had custom thank you cards illustrated by the super talented Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. We sent them out to friends and family for all the amazing gifts and tokens of love we received. Once we ran out of the cards, I thought it would be fun to update it again with a slightly older Ruby. And since then, we now update it every year or so (with our newest shown above).

Oh Joy Family Portrait by Rifle Paper Co.

I loved the mini portraits so much, I started framing one of the cards from each year and hanging them by our front door. Sadly, our cat family has shrunk, but it's fun to see how our human family has grown over the last few years!

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy. Painted portraits by Rifle Paper Co.}

what we did in mexico...

Oh Joy | What We Did in Mexico

A couple weeks ago, we made a little escape to Punta de Mita, Mexico just two and a half hours away from Los Angeles by plane. After a long and (somewhat tiring) trip to France, we welcomed a shorter and more relaxing trip with Ruby.

As part of a partnership with St. Regis hotels, we stayed at their Punta Mita resort to experience Family Traditions at St. Regis, which is all about making a vacation with kids easier and more fun thanks to the hotel's family-friendly activities and accommodations. In contrast to Paris (which was not very kid-friendly), it was such a nice change to be in a place where kids get the royal treatment, too.

Oh Joy | What We Did in Mexico

Oh Joy | What We Did in Mexico

Oh Joy | What We Did in Mexico

Oh Joy | What We Did in Mexico

When you go to a resort in a warm climate (it was 95 degrees that week!), it's a given that you're going to spend time in the water. But the water options here were seriously amazing. In addition to the beach and a few different pools, we spent most of our time in the kid's pool and in the wading pool every day. Ruby was in serious water heaven and was constantly asking to go play in the "agua".

While we loved relaxing in the resort, we also took some trips the local town nearby...

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oh joy in france / part 2: what we did in paris...

Oh Joy in Paris | What We Did

The last time I visited Paris, I was 20 years old and visiting my college roommate who was studying abroad. I had a lot of time to myself, so I shopped and ate while my friend was in class. Coming back almost 15 years later, I had such a different (and even more special) experience this time because I shared the experience with my family.

This trip wasn't about what I wanted, but about what would be fun and entertaining for our whole family— including a very playful almost-two-year-old. A toddler can only walk, sit in a stroller, or shop for so long, so each day we'd put just a couple things on our list of things to do and left plenty of cushion time for Ruby to play in a park, playground, or do something kid-focused at least once a day. 

1st District

Oh Joy Paris| Tuilleries

Oh Joy Paris| Tuilleries

The Jardin des Tulleries is mostly known for it's beautiful gardens, but it's also full of some amazing areas for kids that you just stumble upon while walking through...like this gorgeous carousel...

Oh Joy Paris| Tuilleries

Oh Joy Paris| Tuilleries

...this playground with the coolest swing/hammock ever...

Oh Joy Paris| Tuilleries

...and this trampoline area for kids. Ruby was in heaven and cried when we said we had to leave to go get dinner. The parks of Paris are seriously the coolest I've ever seen! And I love how so many landmarks have playgrounds nearby.

Jardin des Tulleries | Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris

Oh Joy Paris

And soon after all that jumping, someone succumbed to a nap...

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oh joy in france / part 1: what we ate in paris...

Oh Joy in Paris | What We Ate

Over the next couple weeks, I'll be sharing photos from our recent adventures in Paris and Lyon. Since we did so much, I'm going to break it up into three different posts starting today with...what we ate! I went to Paris with the plan to gain 10 lbs. from croissants alone. The food in Paris is certainly indulgent and amazing so I had no intentions of leaving anything on my plate. We took Ruby out with us to every meal, so our eating experience this trip did not involve any super fancy restaurants or fine dining but instead a lot of pastries, lunches, and early dinners.

Here are a few of our favorites spots during the trip—with everything organized by the arrondissement (or district) they're located in...

3rd District

Oh Joy in Paris | Merci Canteen

Oh Joy in Paris | Merci Canteen

Oh Joy in Paris | Merci Canteen

Oh Joy in Paris | Merci Canteen

We rarely saw French kids out to restaurants in Paris and were often the only ones seen with children while dining. So our trip to The Merci Canteen was a true exception as it was the only restaurant we went to that had a high chair. We met up with my friend Julie from Famille Summerbelle and her daughter Ophelia for a lovely lunch. If you can believe it, this restaurant (located in the design store Merci) was one of my favorite meals of the whole trip. Everything was fresh, flavorful, and so beautiful.

Merci | 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris

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