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An Augmented Reality Bear

AR bear
I promised myself I wasn’t going to make a full-on kid’s gift guide primarily because we limit toys to ‘really special’ ones due to small living quarters and I knew if I did a bunch of research on all the coolest kid’s gifts I would want them all. That aside, I do have one really cool new toy I just have to share with you guys. One of my favorite kid’s toy brands, Seedling has been reimagining play in the most innovative ways for us ever since I discovered them a few years ago, but they took it to a whole new level when they introduced, Parker. It’s the world’s first augmented reality teddy bear and you’re going to want one for the kid in your life that loves to play and nurture. Intended for 3-6 year olds, I figured Gunnar may not take an interest, but he loves to snuggle him. There’s no electronics or anything inside, so he’s soft and cuddly. Even the play medical devices (thermometer, stethoscope, etc.) he comes with were large enough not to be a concern. Harlowe really understands what it is to take care of him and loves nursing him back to health. I have the Parker app which shows a game-like augmented reality of Parker and opens up this interactive world where the kids are capable of Parker’s belly aches or a sore throat. It’s really cool to see them both using STEAM skills during play and having empathy to care for Parker feel better and want to see him become happier and happier. Growing up in the ’80’s, I’ve actually been blown away by Parker’s capabilities and find it really fun to play with too. It’s sort of like a Tamagotchi, but way cuter and much more sophisticated.

AR bear parker bear AR toys for kids kids matching christmas pajamas AR toys for kids
PS if you do need a gift guide for kid’s this one is amazing. Yes, I did want everything in Part 1 for Kids who know all the neighbors and ask for ten more stories every night. I’m looking at you, Harlowe. 🙂

Harlowe’s jammies (came with the doll gown Parker is wearing)/Gunnar’s jammies

lifestyle

Gifts That Give Back

It’s the season of giving and you know what they say… your greatness is not what you have, but what you give. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up seven charitable gifts that are fit for everyone on your wishlist. There are thoughtful ways to bring a smile to the fitness buff and skincare junkie while making a difference. Heck, even your man has something he’ll enjoy on this list and you’ll enjoy shopping too becuase it’s for a great cause!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop. It’s the easiest way to give back because you don’t have to do anything but shop. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same prices, selection, and experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support. I went with Best Friends Animal Society but you can seriously choose anything. Just bookmark smile.amazon.com and watch how quickly your donations will rack up over the holiday season. You might be surprised!

AUrate jewelry is handmade in New York City from ethically sourced materials. Positive social impact drives what they do, so they’ve partnered with Philadelphia schools and dontae a book to economically underprivileged kids with every piece sold. Not to mention, they have some chic earrings for the holiday season.

Best Friends Animal Society makes it possible to sponsor an animal in need. Your gift of sponsorship helps these pets receive the tenderness and care they need, which is sure to give your animal-loving recipient a dose of the warm fuzzies, too. You can notify your giftee of the contribution with a personal note thanking them for their contribution and telling them about the sweet animal they helped!

CauseBox: A subscription delivery box where are products and brands features are socially conscious and with quarterly delivery, it is the gift that keeps on giving. There’s now a men’s CauseBox too!

Everlane: All proceeds from their 100% Human collection benefit the ACLU. I get compliments every time I wear my box cut Human tee which is so soft I wear it quite often.

K. Deer Each one of their striped leggings is named after an inspiring woman and supports a cause that is close to her heart. Their intention is to create a platform and community that inspires others to give back. For each sale of their striped leggings, up to 10% of proceeds goes directly to causes raising awareness and creating positive change for individuals and communities in need.

mommy and me outfits
L’Occitane has some great stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. I love this festive hand cream set for both! L’Occitane does a great job of giving back in general through their foundation. Their two main initiatives support visual impairment around the world and economic emancipation for women in Burkina Faso. On top of that, our employees participate in Foundation projects. If you need some gift ideas, check out my video on L’occitane Favorites and below is what I’m loving for the holiday season. gifts that give back

Hand cream / Holiday bauble

fashion, lifestyle

Cozy at Home For Christmas + Cyber Monday Picks



Hi friends! I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving! If you follow me on instagram you may have seen we went to Portland to visit family. It was beautiful but cold. I was really appreciating LA after that. I love Fall, but having grown up in Arizona, I’ve grown so accustomed to a 70 degree Fall and it’s difficult to acclimate to real Fall! We spent Sunday at home decorating for Christmas. We still have a long ways to go, but got the tree up and it’s made it feel much more festive. I wore this cozy sweater that is 40% off right now. The price is so good I’m thinking of getting the black one too, but I can’t be buying myself gifts this close to Christmas! It’s tunic length so you can wear it with leggings or jeans and it would be gorgeous with just over the knee boots.

Be sure to check out Nordstrom’s Cyber Monday sales for more great deals like this sweater! There are so many good things! Not going to lie, it’s been tough with all the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales. You know what I say when a sale is realllllyyyy good… ‘you can’t afford not to. ‘ A few worth checking out is this plaid button down, this sweater looks really cute on and flatters just about anyone, and these cozy slippers. For this kids, I’m digging this set for boys and this boho sweater for the little lady! Totally didn’t intend to turn this in to a gift guide (there are enough great ones out there already right?) but hard not to share so many wonderful things on sale while I’m browsing the internet at 12:20 am. 🙂 Tomorrow I will probably regret staying up this late, but that’s better than missing out on a good sale, right? 😉

lifestyle

Living Room Tour


Hi Friends and happy almost Thanksgiving and if you are not American, happy almost Thursday! We are headed to Portland to see Kaare’s side of the family, which after being married for 6 years seems just as much like my side too. We don’t have sides anymore – just one big, happy family. Speaking of family, I wanted to share this post for so long, but just haven’t gotten around to getting the house tidy enough to photograph. Some of you have been asking about our house — specifically for a tour and details on how we fit everyone and everything in. I wrote some tips on living in small spaces as a family, but wanted to share more of the layout and decor.

Kaare is really in to interior design and all the apps that have been created to help people design better. We used Laurel and Wolf for the kid’s room (eeek…that post needs an update because those were in the old house, but they still share a similarly sized room) and used Hutch to do the living room and then I added my own flair like the pillows and throw. I have to constantly replace the throw because I snuggle up in it every night and it starts to show wear so this one is brand new, but already sold out. I linked to a similar throw below. If you have a little homebody or couch potato on your holiday list, you need to get them a throw – it’s the best gift ever!

My ‘office’ is to the left of the couch. That’s where I blog or you know, shop online. 😉 Then to the left of that we have a chair to sit on and the cutest boho cowhead that I found on etsy. Kaare used to have a rhino head there and I had to get rid of it. The only was was with an adorable replacement. It’s a very small room so that’s about it, but it gets the job done for us!

small space decorating
leopard pillow / palm pillow / pink fluffy pillow / State – customizable foil pic / Throw sold out – similar here ON SALE!

working at home in a small space cute home decor
Side table  / Letterboard / Vase /Palms / Similar lotus chair (I actually like the one linked way more than the ones I have which are a little bulky)

Have a great long weekend and thanks for reading!

lifestyle

7 Tips For Small Space Living as a Family


Last year, we moved from a 1200 sq ft condo to a 900 sq ft house in an effort to acquire more outdoor space. While I do feel incredibly lucky that we nabbed a much sought-after home with outdoor space in the school district we want to be in, I’d be lying if I said living in 900 sq ft with 4 people is a walk in the park for us. Kaare and I are both the type of people who love the city life (which for us means small spaces) yet we find comfort in things. Especially when those things are a giant art table and loads of art supplies that make our a 6-year-old happier than I will ever be. We’re not slobs, but we laughed a little when we read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up — which for the record, I did read and acted on my learnings, but TBH shoes and bags bring me A LOT of joy. We both have two conflicting sides of our personalities — the side that loves a small home by the beach and the side that longs for a closet that can hold more than 6 pairs of shoes. <—- Not a typo our ‘master’ closet is ridiculously small. We’ve never lived in a large space. 1200 sq ft was a huge to us and we referred to it as ‘the mansion’, yet this small house has presented some challenges (see above comment about the closet which has an accessible width of 24 inches) and with any good challenges comes growth right? So from having a baby in our 6oo sq ft apartment in SF to squeezing a family of 4 in 900 sq ft, there’s a few small lifestyle changes we’ve adopted that have helped us make this space work…

1.) Stack things up. You probably don’t want to create ceiling high stack anywhere in your space, but look for furniture and storage units that make use of the space you do have: vertical space. I really like this which adds storage space to our bathroom. It’s narrow, but can hold a lot of stuff in an organized way thanks to the seven shallow drawers.

2.) Utilize wall space. Walls can make great storage units or work spaces. We like this book shelf for the kids room which keeps all their book organized and off the floor. The one thing I wish is that I hung it in a place they can reach it, but I don’t mind being the one to get their books down whenever they want to read. I do think keeping it out of their reach keeps the clutter down. That being said, I’ll probably be moving it closer to to the floor soon.

3.) Keep clutter out. Kaare and I clean up a little bit each day and do a major clean once a week. I usually get my tidying done in the evening after the kids are asleep. For the kids, I have a rule that whatever toys or clothes are left out of it’s place for 24 hours go to charity. It’s a little extreme and sometimes I actually just hide said toy or garment vs donate it (especially if it’s new), but it helps the kids learn to keep things tidy. Everything needs to have a space.

4.) Throw ‘no-gift’ birthdays. Maybe it’s because we live near kids/families with a similar space constraints, but I think the ‘no-gift birthdays’ are growing in popularity. Some people suggest a charity to donate to in lieu of a gift or do what we did last year for Harlowe and request a drawing or picture from each guest. Requesting art resulted in some epically cute photos and drawings of Harlowe and her friends that we will cherish for years where I am certain any toys and clothes would be forgotten about shortly there after.

5.) Embrace multiple-purpose pieces. Furniture, counter space, even closets will have multiple-uses. The kid’s closet is both a space for their clothes and is Gunnar’s changing room since he’s still in diapers. I have a dresser in the closet with a changing pad and diapers/wipes on top. That makes less space for clothes so I do #2 and hang Harlowe’s dresses on the wall with something like this.

6.) Keep colors light. One of the first things we did when we moved in top this smaller space was to get rid of a lot of stuff, most notable for us was our beloved, dark gray, bohemian bed and invest in a blonde wood platform bed. Using light colors always makes spaces seem larger. We also traded in our beddings for white linens vs patterned ones. It helped!

7.) Get outside. While we moved to a smaller house for the added outdoor space, we still find it necessary to get out of the house often. I work from home which can get claustrophobic with the kids here so we go to the park at least once day, usually twice. On the weekends we are always out exploring LA as a family which helps us both have more space but also make a lot of memories!


Bonus tip: have a sense of humor! It can be frustrating when you want to take a shower, but someone is using the bathroom. It can seem like, no matter where I am the kids want to be RIGHT there with me. I love that they are always near, but sometimes you just need to open the fridge without hitting someone in the head. The best advice I have about that, is just to laugh. It won’t last forever – soon (if they’re like I was as a teen) they’ll want to be nowhere near me, so I embrace it now and try to laugh when we trip over each other.

House stuff: couchdining room chairs, table made by my in-laws, my desk, similar shag rug (ours is from Overstock and no longer available), cowhide rug, coffee table from a flea market in LA

Wearing: Lace Top (20% off now!) / similar jeans (mine aren’t the distressed ones) / necklace

Kids outfits

lifestyle

Tips For Taking Great Family Photos


Right before I made everyone take family Halloween costume photos, I got them to sit still-ish for a few family shots! One of the tricks I learned to get good photos of us and the kids is for each of us to hold one kid and then separate by a few feet before running to each other and slightly bumping in to one another. It makes everyone laugh at least the first few times. If that doesn’t work, you can always hold the smallest one upside down – which is what we had to resort to with Gunnar (scroll down). We try to just have fun with it because as much as I love having family photos, nobody in this family enjoys taking them. Does yours? If so, let me know so I can high-five you.


As for outfits, rule #1 is that everyone is comfortable. I wrote more about coordinating outfits a while ago, but that approach requires a lot of planning which often times, we don’t have. Our typical approach is to be seasonally appropriate (read: comfortable) but to let each person wear what they want. We never coordinate colors fully, in fact sometimes, it’s straight up opposite, but I like when it looks more casual and authentic. Sometimes, we end up coordinating and I am most proud of these outfits from that standpoint. Color wheels were used there. Also, that photo reminds me, a good kid swing can bring great facial expressions too! I can’t believe how small Gunnar was. That was him at 9-weeks-old wearing size 6 months clothes!
Gunnar’s shoessweatshirt / Harlowe’s shoes, dresshead wrap / my choker (it’s actually a headband) /Kaare’s shirt


photos by: Kara

lifestyle

Dia De Los Muertos

day of the dead celebrations la

Yesterday we got all dressed up for a Dia de Los Muertos celebration in Hollywood. I think getting ready is half the fun, but it’s not so easy for little ones that have to sit still to have their makeup done. We decided to leave Gunnar at home with a babysitter because it was a long day for all of us, but Gunnar being two, really starts to act like a typical two year old (tantrums, horrible bouts of screaming) around 5pm and that’s precisely what time we left the house for the celebration. He was sorely missed, but fast asleep for most of it.

Meanwhile, the three of us got some much needed Mexican food, walked around the altars and danced at every chance we got. Harlowe loved the colorful decorations; and why wouldn’t she? Her first Dia De Los Muertos Party was at our wedding reception when she was 7 months old so it’s in her blood! Look how chunky and sweet Baby Harlowe was. Hard to believe that was 6 years ago!

wedding after baby

Last year, we wrote loved one’s names on various banners before they were flown about, but this year we really just took in all of the decor and how well so many people do their makeup and costumes. It’s seriously unreal how resourceful some people are when it comes to Day of the Dead makeup and costumes. It was really fun to see everyone’s beautiful outfits and face paint – especially the people that went all out. The decor around the cemetery was also incredible.


Some final shots of us. So happy Harlowe let us take her picture this time! Her dress was a little dirty because she went straight from her school’s carnival and refused to change, but it is what it is! My dress comes in a bunch of Fall colors and is less than $80. I’m thinking of getting it in wine for the holidays!
dia de los muertos make up kids day of the dead LA dia de los muertos celebration LA
We tried to have serious faces, but Harlowe was all smiles which IMO totally made this picture! dia de los muertos family makeup

Click below to shop our clothes:

Have a great week!

 

lifestyle

Our Family Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costume Ideas For Families

For years, it’s been Kaare’s dream to do family Halloween costumes, but we’ve always had one person who reeeeaaaalllly wants to be something else. One year, that someone was Princess Sofia so we dressed as Wayne and Garth, but it didn’t quench The Banker’s thirst for family costumes. This year there really was no saying no to him. In exchange, I got these family photos and Harlowe got to watch Addams Family Values from start to finish before bed time. She would like me to state for the record that she wasn’t even a tiny bit scared.


What are you guys dressing as for Halloween? If you have any recommendations for family Halloween costumes, leave them in the comments below!

Click images below for more Addams family costumes

lifestyle

Me Too

Me too campaign

One of the things that often goes unmentioned and even forgotten, is how sexual abuse doesn’t just effect the victim for her lifetime, but for generations to come. My mother was sexually abused by someone close to her. She didn’t talk about the abuse other than to tell me that I couldn’t have a canopy bed when I was a kid because they give her bad dreams. Come to find out, she was abused in one. She has since passed away after a lifetime of dealing with depression, borderline personality disorder, severe anxiety and often had suicidal thoughts (which she acted on a number of times). I miss her terribly, but I know with certainty she is in a better place where she no longer feels the life time of pain that her abuser inflicted upon her.

Growing up with a mom that suffered sexual abuse brought it’s own struggles. Because of the trauma she endured, she didn’t quite have the capacity to be a mother (or to know that she didn’t have the capacity to be a mother). She was committed to mental health inpatient care units numerous times when I was a kid. Despite her trauma, she did her best and I’m stronger for it, but it took years and years of therapy to get to the point where I am today. I’ve spent so may years being angry at her for everything — having kids, being mentally ill, not putting the abuser in prison where he belonged, making me grow up too fast. Then, there was that time a teenage boy (son to my babysitter) asked to see my privates. I was in kindergarten and scared and I showed him. ME TOO. I mustered up all of my confidence and guiltily told my mom what I did. She said “okay” and I kept going to the in-home day care where he lived. What hurt way more than being taken advantage of at that age was being taught that it was ‘okay’.

I hated my body after that and grew ashamed of it. I developed an eating disorder that lasted almost two decades and spent the same amount of time believing I didn’t have ownership over my body. It left me deeply insecure and unable to have healthy relationships. Men made me very uncomfortable for most of my life. I saw them as potential threats vs allies (even the ones I really liked — except my husband of course). I didn’t capitalize on relationships with girls/women because I had too much anxiety and never felt like I fit in. I felt unhappy and alone for most of my life and felt guilty for feeling that way. Years later, I realized that we’ve all had trauma. Perhaps not sexual, but it’s not unlikely. That is not okay.

Sure, we can all talk about our abuse and I applaud all those who have com forward, but we need to change our whole culture if we are going to fix this. As one friend put it:

Culturally, it starts before your daughter is even born. Men, when telling their friends they are expecting a baby girl often tell each other, “better get your guns ready.” Think about what this actually means. You are accepting that men are creeps and that your daughter will be subject to some sort of predator or harassment. This is not funny. This is not something to laugh about nor congratulate each other on. Yes, it’s your job to protect her from the sad inevitably that someone will likely hurt her one day but this should not be the most defining or anticipated quality about her… give her a chance to show you that she will bring more to this world than physical attraction. Nor is she a burden, something to look out for. She is not the problem to fix. -Rachel Melby

Be conscious of minimizing the issue, by just writing “ME TOO” on social media. Instead, think of what we can do as a members of society, male or female, to shift our cultural beliefs about sexual abuse and mental health because they go hand in hand and they won’t just go away. We need to stop the silence, but more importantly, we need to show up and support those that need it and end the cycle.

Graphic by my friend Max Rosero

lifestyle

Our favorite books right now

books for 2-year-olds

It’s a lesser known fact that October is National Bullying Prevention month in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month. Luckily, we haven’t had a big problem with bullying yet, but Harlowe is starting to hear (and let’s face it, probably even say) some unkind words at school. Regardless, as a victim of bullying myself I don’t think it’s ever too early to start teaching kids about it and brainstorming ways to be kinder to people, animals and our planet. As any parent can attest, sometimes mom and dad’s words go in one ear and out the other. Books on the other-hand, are super-entertaining and filled with facts…or at least, fun non-facts that kids want to read about over and over again. Since books are so wickedly wonderful at helping me parent better and Harlowe has to read for 20-min a day (1st grade homework) we’ve been collecting books each month based on themes. We  kind of have a self-awareness/kindness theme going on in our house right now. I’m listening to Present over Perfect on Audible and I love it! It’s about living more simply and choosing to be present over trying to be perfect — something that really hits home for me and I’m guessing most of us. It has a religious undertone for sure, but is really good content for anyone regardless of your faith. So far, I think it’s helped me model self-regulation in so many areas: less technology, less snapping, less consumption, more control, more rest.

empowering books for kids

The kids and I have been enjoying these together:

You Be You is about a fish who goes on a journey alone and realizes that every fish in the sea is different and that we all have something special that only we can share.

I Like Myself about a young kid who celebrates themselves both on the inside and outside no matter what. A good reminder to kids that they are great the way they are (even if they have  a porcupine spine!)

What Does it Mean to Be Kind talks about what is and what is not ‘kindness’ but doesn’t take the road you may expect. There’s loads of inspiration for kind activities listed on the back that has been really fun to tackle with Harlowe.

I am Peace is a moderately hippy-dippy book on mindfulness that gets kids find peace and calm on their own. There’s a guided meditation in the back that we have yet to master. 🙂 I like this because if kids are to hit, bite, scream, etc. it’s usually because they got scared/angry and lost control. This book helps them find the “anchor to their ship” and find their own peace. The illustrations are adorable too.

Batty Betty about a giant who dances unapologetically to her own drum, who unsurprisingly is quite different. The story shows the kids that their differences are actually their strengths and makes it an amusing lesson.

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night not about self-awareness at all, but Gunnar can’t take his nose out of it. If you have a young boy and don’t have this book — fix that!

best books for empowering girls best empowering books for kids