Five Tips for Planning Family Pictures

I'm that person that strives to mail Christmas cards out the week after Thanksgiving so, when October rolls around I start planning family pictures that will go on our cards. Planning for the pictures can be a ton of work so I have listed five things that I have learned to do that make the process a bit easier. I look back and cherish our yearly family photos so much. We skipped a year once and I totally regret it. I love watching how our family has grown and how each year my boys get even more handsome. I hope they one day pass these pictures and tradition along to their kids and grandkids.


Five Tips for Planning Family Pictures:

1. Pick a photographer you are comfortable with.
I would suggest working with someone you personally know, someone you have worked with in the past or someone who comes highly recommended by someone you know well. For example, if you love your friend's family or maternity photos, ASK ABOUT THEIR PHOTOGRAPHER. The more comfortable you are with your photographer the better your pictures will be.
There is no shame in taking studio pictures. We've done that when we had tiny babies or just didn't have time to plan a shoot with someone. I love our studio pictures but I feel like the ones we have shot with a private photographer have been more personal candid shots. A private photographer will capture your family more realistically.

2. Pick your location
Decide what type of setting you want for your pictures. Are you looking to shoot at the beach, in a park or a special place that means something to your family? If so, try to pick out some good spots to play as your background.
Sometimes a photographer prefers to work in a specific location. If that is the case, trust them because they have shot there before for a reason.

3. Plan out the colors for your outfits
I am a very visual person so I always start any creative process by choosing colors. I choose the colors we will wear and then find our outfits based on that. Picking 2-3 colors is usually enough. You don't want the outfits to be so busy that they take away from capturing your faces. You can even choose one color and then choose different shades in that color for variety and texture.

4. How to pick out outfits
I never really shop for one particular person first. I find a piece I like for the kids or myself and then I pick the rest of the outfits from there.  I will say I love when my boys match. They may hate me for it one day but I think it's adorable in pictures. For example, the matching vests four our 2015 Santa pictures.
One last piece of advice for outfits. I personally like our pictures a little more when I dress everyone up a bit, including myself. Wearing a dress makes a big difference for me. Your pictures can have a more casual feel but try to dress the casual up a bit. You'll be glad you did. Last year I had just had a baby so I went with an oversized sweater and jeans. Let's just say I'll make sure to wear a dress this year.

I've linked dresses below that I feel would work great for family photos. I picked a few different colors and styles so you have a variety to choose from. Swipe to the right to see all the options. I hope this is helpful if you're having a hard time finding a good dress.

5. Know your family's limits
Last year our two year old had a major breakdown during our shoot. We planned the shoot too late in the day and he was sleepy and not having it. This year with a toddler and an infant I am planning on a 30 minute shoot, max. I am also planning on packing snacks and promising a fun surprise if everyone behaves. Haha That always works. Set your expectations for the photos high but be realistic about how long your family can actually shoot for. Everyone will behave better and you'll in turn end up with better pictures.

A little extra tip, you can also use the family photos to make photo books and gifts for the grandparents. They love that stuff!

I can't believe I am going to say this already but Happy Holidays!


Pumpkin Patch Round 2

I can't take this mustache anymore!

These two have a mean side eye

Had such a blast at Underwood Family Farms this weekend with our friends. We attend their Harvest Festival every year and this year was by far our favorite. We ate a ton, played all the games and made the best memories.


Motherhood Chat Monday: Embarrassing Mom Stories

Happy Monday!!! It's Motherhood Chat Monday time and today I want to lighten the mood and talk about something that will probably make you laugh out loud. I'm going to share with you my most recent embarrassing mom story and I hope you'll share some of yours with me. I'm laughing and cringing as I write this. LOL!

Just a couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Target with Ryder and Reed. I purposely went on a day and time in which I thought Target would not be crowded. Well, I was wrong. It took me a long time to find parking and to get a cart but we finally made our way in and started shopping. Five minutes into that Ryder needed to potty (of course). I set my cart aside and ran to the bathroom hauling both kids. Ryder used the bathroom and I decided I should go too while we were in there. I hurry up, sit on the toilet, look up and Ryder had opened our stall door. There I was, the crazy lady in the stall juggling two kids sitting on a toilet for a crowded Target bathroom to see.  I was mortified. I screamed for Ryder to close the door and that made Reed cry. Let's just say we all walked out of that bathroom in tears. I could laugh at it now but I seriously wanted to crawl into a hole and cry that day. The worst part about it all is that I should know better because I swear Ryan did that to me too! It was so long ago and I don't remember the details but I know it happened. So I guess the good news is that one day I won't remember this happened every single time I step inside a Target.

Tell me you're laughing with me and not at me and that this has happened to you before too? haha

I can't wait to hear all your embarrassing mom stories!


Loft 50% Off Sale


Motherhood Chat Monday: Introducing Solid Food To Baby

If you're a new mom, a mom of a baby who will in the near future graduate to eating solid food or just a busy mom with not enough time to meal plan for your baby this Motherhood Chat Monday is for YOU.

My third baby has now moved on to solid food and I can tell you that the third time was just as challenging as the first. I've read a ton of books and have gathered my share of advice from other moms on what to cook for my babies and yet it is still a challenge. As moms we constantly worry about what we feed our children. I find myself worrying about whether or not the ingredients in the food I am feeding my kids are healthy enough or whether or not I am feeding them a well balanced diet. As our babies are introduced to solids it is important to understand that early childhood diets are crucial in a baby's development.

We all have busy schedules and more than often too much going on at once. I have recently discovered Yumi, a baby food delivery service that has been life changing for us. Not only is their baby food delicious it is also nutritious and delivered right to your doorstep weekly. Yumi offers a science based diet with single ingredients as well as blended options. For our first delivery we received a meal plan with single ingredient options and Reed loved them all. Our first batch included jars of Pumpkin, Kidney Beans, Lentil, Sweet Potato, Chickpea and White Bean. Not only does every batch include at least one ingredient that I had yet to introduce to my baby's diet but, he also gets such a variety that it keeps him interested each feeding.

I am a busy mom of three on the go and sometimes I just don't have time to plan out my baby's meals or something happens and I have to feed him something quickly. Yumi is perfect for moms like me. I can serve my baby the Yumi food cold or warm but I always know it's healthy and that is really all that matters to me. Yumi offers their delivery service throughout the state of California and selected areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. If you live in these states make sure to check them out at www.helloyumi.com

Thank you to Yumi for allowing me to try your services. All words and thoughts are my own.


How To Celebrate Halloween with Kids

Although it's so fun to dress our little ones up for Halloween, when you have young children trick-or-treating can be harder than it is fun. You're either the parent pushing around the stroller and missing all the actual trick-or-treating or you're the parent chasing your trick-or-treater around while at the same time trying not to lose the other parent with the stroller. Just keeping it real.

If you're like me and would rather partake in more kid friendly events where the entire family can actually enjoy Halloween then I've got you covered. I've compiled a list of Halloween events in Los Angeles, The San Fernando Valley and Orange County that are all no-scare events. Some of these events are going on from now until Halloween and some have specific dates they are taking place on. 

For those of you who don't live in these areas I find that having a good ol' fashion Halloween party is always a blast. The kids can enjoy the party and also hand out candy to trick or treaters. You can have a potluck party to make things even easier. Halloween themed food and drinks are always a hit plus you can also find all kinds of neat cakes and goodies this time of year. 

I hope the events listed below are helpful and fun. Happy Halloween and be safe out there!

All Areas

**The following events vary depending on the location's schedule so please check their websites for details**

Babies R Us: Huggies hosts a free Halloween event at Babies R Us called "Baby's First Halloween". This is a baby friendly event with giveaways. Every location is different but I know the big Babies R Us in Van Nuys is hosting their event on Saturday October 21st at 11 am
The even lasts for one hour and is free.

My Gym Children's Fitness Center: Halloween Party for kids. We attended a Halloween party at My Gym in Northridge once and it was so much fun. This particular location is having their Halloween party on October 27th and they have three different times you can attend.

San Fernando Valley
Discovery Cube Los Angeles - Spooky Science Monster Academy: Halloween themed science experiments for kids, included with the general admission.
When: Now through October 31st 10 am - 5 pm
Location:11800 Foothill Blvd. Sylmar, CA 91342
Underwood Family Farms - Harvest Festival at the far/pumpkin patch.
When: Now - Oct 31st 
Location: 3370 Sunset Valley Road Moorpark, CA 93021

Kidspace Children's Museum - Pumpkin Festival: A family friendly event with a petting zoo, bouncers and much more. 
When: Saturday 10/14 & Sunday 10/15 9:30 am - 5 pm
Location: 480 N. Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91103
Kidspace Children's Museum - Halloween Scavenger Hunt/Trick or Treating
When:Sunday 10/29 from 10 am - 4:30 pm 
Location: 480 N. Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91103

Los Angeles

Boo at the L.A. Zoo - All day events all of October with special entertainment on weekends.  - trick or treating Oct 28 & 29. Included in general admission.
Location: 5333 Zoo Drive Los Angeles, CA 90027

Silver Lake Halloween Spooktacular - Candy, games, refreshments, costume contests and much more.
When: Halloween October 31st
Location: 1850 W. Silver Lake Drive Los Angeles, CA 90026

Halloween Party for Downtown Families - 8th Annual Halloween Celebration, kid friendly. 
*This event is for families who reside within the following zip codes: 90012, 90013, 90014, 90015, 90017, 90071 & 90021
When: Halloween October 31st
Location: Grand Hope Part at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
919 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90015

Orange County

Boo at the Santa Ana Zoo - Treats, games and costumes.
When: Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd, 5:30-8 pm
Location: 1801 E. Chestnut Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92701

Discovery Cube Orange County - Spooky Science Monster Academy: Halloween themed science experiments for kids, included with the general admission.
When: Now through October 31st 10 am - 5 pm
Location: 2500 N. Main Street Santa Ana, CA 92705

Kidz Block Party - Brea, CA - October 31st Entertainment for kids and candy. 
When: Halloween October 31st
Location: Brea Downtown E. Birch Street and S. Brea Blvd. Brea, CA 92821

Knott's Spooky Farm: Costume Party, day time non-scare event for children ages 3-11. 
When: Saturdays and Sundays now through the 29th and on Halloween October 31st. 
Location: Knott's Berry Farm 8039 Beach Blvd. Buena Park, CA 90620

Doheny State Beach Halloween Haunt - Family fun 
When: Saturday October 21st 6:30-8:30 
Location: Doheny State Beach Picnic Areas A&B

Halloween Kids Boo Cruise - Cruises every 20 minutes with costume contests. 
When: Friday October 20th 5-7 pm 
Location: Dana Wharf Sportfishing/Dana Point Harbor 34675 Golden Lantern Dana Point, CA 

Trunk or Treating When: October 31st 6-8 pm 
Location: King of Kings Lutheran Church and School 13431 Newhope Street Garden Grove, CA 92843

Main Street Halloween Fest: For kids of all ages 
When: Halloween October 31st 4-8 pm 
Location: Downtown Huntington Beach Main Street and 5th Street by P. C. H.


Motherhood Chat Monday : How do I stop nursing? HELP!

Motherhood Chat Monday is something that I am starting as of today because Motherhood is hard and we need all the support we can get. I am starting this so that we as moms can have a day dedicated to supporting each other on my blog. I want it to be a place where we can ask for advice together, give advice together, give support together, share funny motherhood stories together and just a place where we can chat and be there for each other. I would also like to ask questions and advice myself because I need all the advice I can get. Let's be real here, I'm three kids in and still feel clueless some days. I would also like for you to send me questions that you would like me to ask on your behalf. You can stay anonymous or I can share who asked the question but the point is to get answers from real moms for real moms. When I was pregnant with Reed and looking for answers as to what we were dealing with I got better advice from moms who had experienced what we were experiencing than I got from our doctors. Those moms who gave me truthful advice really helped me get through some of the toughest days of my life. I want my blog to be a place where you too find the advice you need.

I thought it was appropriate that for my very first Motherhood Chat Monday I ask advice from you. Reed is just about a week shy of 13 months and he is still exclusively breastfed. As I've mentioned before he is the only baby I have been able to nurse. Therefore, I have no clue how to stop. Not only do I not know how to wean him off we have now discovered that he hates milk. I have tried warm milk, cold milk, milk in a bottle, milk in a sippy cup, you name it and I've tried it. He just does not like the taste of milk. We don't see his pediatrician until Thursday for his one year check up (AAAAHHHH! I'm not ready for all those shots) so I don't 100% know what I can substitute whole milk with. I was going to try almond milk but I figured I'll just wait to talk to his pediatrician. He never took my milk from a bottle but has taken formula from a bottle. Do I have to wean him off with formula? I have so many questions!

After we figure out what milk I can give him how do I wean him off? He is very much attached to me and I feel like nursing is a big part of that. He is still waking up to feed at night. For the past three nights he has been up three to four times a night to feed. That might be teething but even on a regular night he is up at least once to feed and, he also nurses to nap. Help me mamas I am so tired! 

I know how lucky I am to have nursed him this long and this is all not just because I am so over it. I do love the bond of it all but I am ready to stop. Just keeping it real. Also and most importantly, my schedule will be changing in the near future and I really will only be able to nurse him in the morning and at night. I've read that he will wean off naturally and all but it's just feeling like that's never going to happen. I know that's crazy but I'm just at that state and need as much advice as possible. 

Thank you once again for stopping by Life By Meli. I really do appreciate you stopping by this little blog of mine. I really hope you will all enjoy these Motherhood Chat Mondays. 


Pumpkin Patch ... Round 1

Tapia Bros. Farm - Encino, CA

Diaper Bag - Fawn Design || Wagon - Amazon

Reed & Dada <3

My Top - LOFT || Denim - Gap

I don't think my parents ever got the pumpkin patch memo because I don't think we ever went to one when we were growing up. Haha! We weren't super deprived children I just don't think my parents every really went all out for Halloween. How cool would it be if we could scroll back 20+ years on our mom or dad's Instagrams and check out childhood events that we just don't remember? Kids these days will never know the struggle.
Now that I have kids I try to make the pumpkin patch a big deal. I'm not sure if I am over compensating for my Halloween deprived childhood (haha my mom is going to kill me if I just don't remember and we went to a pumpkin patch every year) but, I always make sure we visit a pumpkin patch or four. Seriously!
Tapia Brothers Pumpkin Patch in Encino is one of my favorites because it's small enough to enjoy with really young kids but also has an old school pumpkin patch feel. Not that I would know what an old school pumpkin patch was like. LOL! I've been bringing Ryan to this pumpkin patch since he was in diapers. I love everything about it. It's free to enter the pumpkin patch and once inside you can purchase tickets for the pony rides, bounce house, corn maze and so on. All the pumpkins are fairly priced and there is plenty to choose from. If you are ever in the area you should check them out.
Later this month we are headed to the harvest festival at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark with our friends for our annual pumpkin patch extravaganza and I just cannot wait. Fall is just such a fun time of the year.
Disclosure: The above pictures will be used as proof that I didn't deprive my children of Halloween. (it's a joke mom don't kill me)