Around Town: Day Trip to Downtown L.A.

♫ ♪♩ “Downtown” by Petula Clark ♩♪♫

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure, downtown
Everything’s waiting for youI love that song. It always cheers me up when I hear it. I lived and/or worked in downtown L.A. for many years and downtown is definitely one of my places I go when I need some cheering up. The past couple of weeks have been particularly rough for all of us, so yesterday I decided that my son and I needed a day downtown to cheer us up.One night last week, my husband, son and I were out running errands. E had been cranky from getting his molars poking through, but seemed otherwise fine. I had him on my chest in the babycarrier while we were running errands, hoping he would take a nap. The teething pain had been pretty extreme so he had gone almost an entire week without a nap longer than five minutes. When we got home, he looked flushed and dazed. I felt his forehead and he was suddenly burning up. We took his temperature and it was 103.5 degrees F. My husband and I went into panic mode. We quickly gave E some infant acetaminophen and got into the car to head to the emergency room. The E.R. doctor said that it looked like he had roseola, and the fever should be better in a few days. I was so scared that the doctor was wrong and perhaps something more serious was wrong, like perhaps he had somehow gotten meningitis like I had last year. Sure enough, a few days after our E.R. trip, the fever broke and E broke out in a rash, just as predicted. I was incredibly relieved.The teething situation was unfortunately still not getting better though. It seemed like the poor little guy was just miserable, and getting all of the molars cutting through at once seemed to be just way more than he could handle. We had a few nights where none of us got any sleep because E was screaming in pain all night, no matter what my husband and I tried. I knew it was his teeth bothering him since months ago, we started the “point at what is bothering you” game every time he starts crying. I started to get concerned that perhaps he had an infection in his gums or something. Yesterday, I took him in to see a pediatric dentist who assured me that he was okay, just in an extreme amount of pain (apparently it is not that common to get all of the molars all at the same time).After we left the dentist’s office, I wanted to take E to do something fun. We had both been cooped up in the house for days and were going stir crazy. He still has a bit left of his roseola rash, and although he should not be contagious anymore, I did not want to bring him anywhere with other kids (roseola is primarily only contagious to people ages three and under). Downtown Los Angeles seemed like the perfect adventure. He could sit back and people watch, be entertained, and stay occupied without exerting himself. I was hoping the day trip would keep him distracted enough to keep the screaming at bay. Thankfully, it did the trick. I am grateful that we are only a half hour’s drive from downtown (during non-rush hour times). It is always fun to spend a day there.I apologize in advance for all of the cell phone pictures. I wanted to take pictures of our adventure, but I did not want to juggle a cranky toddler and my big camera. E and I started out going to Grand Central Market. I have actually never been inside of Grand Central Market, but decided to check it out since I have seen a lot of pictures posted lately about it on social media.  I could not find any organic produce like I would have hoped to find, but there were a lot of cute little places that would make some nice lunch/dinner options. I love the new little street parkettes in downtown, like the one in front of Grand Central in the photo below. The city carved out sections of the asphalt, replaced it with outdoor flooring, and put in adorable little cafe tables and chairs with umbrellas and big planters of succulents. They are in various areas of downtown, and free for use for the public. Such a great update for the city!

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Next we went to The Last Bookstore. I love this place, and books always cheer up my little guy. This is seriously the coolest bookstore I have ever seen. The last time I was there, somehow I did not notice this little vault room filled with vintage books. It is tucked behind the children’s book area. I suppose since I was pre-baby the last time I went there, I was not paying too much attention to the children’s book department. 🙂

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My little bookworm always loves looking at new books! Poor little guy is extra skinny right now from being sick. 😦 His head appears to have had another growth spurt though, despite being sick. 🙂 aliciainwonderlandblog
Then we happened to find a nice little park in the middle of downtown, even with a nice little play area for kids!
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Since E had his first trip to the dentist, I thought it would be fun to show him where his great-great-grandfather had his dentist’s office. E is a fifth generation Angeleno…my family (on both my mom’s and dad’s sides) has been here since the late 1800’s! I love our family history in this city. 🙂 The Bradbury Building is one of those amazing places that everyone needs to go check out. The last time I went in there was a really fun day, when my mom and my grandma came to visit me downtown after I got out of work. My grandma showed us around some of the historic buildings, and reminisced about visiting her dad at work in the Bradbury Building, ditching school by taking a red car to go see a movie in one of the old theaters, lunch at Cliftons, and more. My grandma was the best.

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I used to joke that Urban Outfitters should rename themselves Suburban Outfitters since all of their SoCal stores were initially only in the suburbs (that used to drive me nuts when I was in college and wanted to shop there more often). Look at them, proving me wrong! I get so happy every time I see one of the old historic theaters being put to use. It would have made my grandma happy to see them being used again.
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Many memories of working here, running across that bridge on my lunch break to check out some Friday sample sales. 🙂
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This Zara used to be the Ann Taylor where I worked for years while in college. Nothing against Ann Taylor (I loved working there and it was great shopping for the women who work in the financial district), but this newly revamped 7th & Fig shopping mall is such a great use of space. When I was in fashion school, I actually did a project about how the space could be redesigned to improve traffic (the mall was nearly vacant for a while). Given the proximity to USC, FIDM, LA Trade Tech College, and a few others, the area was in high need for a shopping center that catered to college students. I was really surprised when I walked past the mall and saw a sign that said “Welcome back USC students”, as well as the new H&M and Zara. It looks like the mall executives finally caught on and livened the place up a bit. 🙂aliciainwonderlandblog
This is just one of my favorite buildings downtown. If you had asked me 10 years ago where I saw myself in 10 years, I would have said living in a cool building like this with my cat Fluffy. 🙂 aliciainwonderlandblog aliciainwonderlandblog

Every time I go downtown, I am excited about all of the improvements continuously being made. It is finally starting to feel like a “real” city. In my mind, based on all of the major cities I have been to, a vibrant city center should have the following things:
1. Excellent public transportation.
2. Ample shopping, including grocery stores, a variety of clothing stores, a big box store like Target, and more.
3. Coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
4. Movie theaters and other forms of entertainment.
5. Areas to sit an enjoy a cup coffee or just relax for a minute and people watch.
6. Accessible public restrooms.
7. Handicapped accessibility.

For many years, downtown L.A. was lacking in most of the categories on my list except for the public transportation category. DTLA’s public transportation is highly underrated, and I am speaking from experience. If you live and work near downtown, or the surrounding areas (as far away as Hollywood), you can easily exist without a car in Los Angeles. I did for about 10 years. The subway is so fast and clean, and the LADOT Dash buses were my favorite, with a variety of routes downtown.

In the past few years, DTLA has made some amazing improvements in items number 2 through 5 on my list. I am so happy with the changes! There are just two more areas that I feel could still use a bit of improvement: restrooms and handicapped accessibility. Most of the businesses downtown do not have public restrooms, so if you are visiting the area and need to go, you are usually out of luck. A major goal of any city should be to increase spending (especially from visitors and tourists). It is difficult to spend any decent amount of time downtown when you can’t find a restroom. The first time I was in London 16 years ago, there were permanent public restroom booths on the street that were self-cleaning. They were pay per use and it is such a brilliant concept. If the Brits could implement such innovative technology to improve their city (almost two decades ago!), surely we are capable of doing the same now, right L.A.? Furthermore, if the restroom booths were big enough for a mom and a stroller, you would encourage a whole new demographic to come shop downtown! I saw one public restroom booth at Pershing Square, so at least that is a step in the right direction!

Which brings me to the other area needing serious improvement: handicapped accessibility. I haven’t spent much time downtown with my stroller before yesterday, but it brought some issues to my attention. The handicapped ramps on the curb are so infrequent and sporadic. There is a ramp often on one side of the street but not the other. Seriously, how is this even acceptable? How are disabled people in wheelchairs navigating these sidewalks of downtown? I honestly do not get it.

If the city could just make those two more changes, it would be darn near perfect. Thank you to our city leaders and planners for working so hard on making downtown better and more beautiful. The new improved downtown makes me proud to be a 4th generation Angeleno! I even noticed a significant change in the attitude of people downtown now. In previous years, any time anyone said much of anything to me downtown, I got nervous that I was about to get mugged again (it happened a couple of times unfortunately). I grew anxious and worried all the time. However, yesterday, it felt like the whole attitude of the city had changed with the revitalization. Strangers smiled and said hello, and opened doors for each other. I was initially afraid to go downtown with my son, my nice stroller, sparkly wedding rings, etc. Since I had a few scary experiences when I didn’t have any of those, I was a bit nervous to go spend much time downtown now. I am so happy to say that for the first time, downtown felt like a safe, warm, welcoming place. I encourage other moms to bring their kids out for a visit downtown too! Thank you to all of the LAPD officers that I saw all around the streets, keeping our city safe! I don’t know what kind of changes you have made lately, but I definitely noticed a difference.

One last funny story in closing…last year when I got sick with meningitis, my husband took me to urgent care initially. The only urgent care open at that time of night was in DTLA. He assumed he would not need to use GPS since I usually know the grid of downtown streets like the back of my hand. When we pulled off the freeway, our conversation went something like this:

Husband: Where do I turn? Which way is Olympic?
Me: I don’t know! You just exited the freeway into the Twilight Zone!
Husband: What are you talking about?!
Me: I have no idea where we are! Nothing looks familiar! Why don’t you use the darn GPS?
Husband: I assumed I wouldn’t need it since you used to know the area so well!
Me: I don’t know what to tell you. Downtown was not pretty and sparkly when I was here all the time so as far as I’m concerned, we may have just driven to a foreign country. 🙂

For the record, I had a viral infection in my brain making me loopy, but downtown really has undergone quite an amazing transformation in the past few years. 🙂

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What I Wore: Early Summer Evening Walk

It is always a good day when my husband is home on a weekday while the sun is still out. In addition to my physical therapy routine three times a day, I am trying to gradually rebuild my strength after almost a year being laid up with short walks in our neighborhood. Last night, my husband was able to join us and snap a couple of quick pictures for me. 🙂

Hat: H&M (from the men’s department)
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Plaid shirt: H&M
Shorts: JCP
Tights: Target
Boots: Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses: Armani Exchange

E is wearing H&M Kids, from their organic cotton collection. 🙂

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What’s In My Bag Part 2: My Diaper Bag

I posted part 1 yesterday (here), with what I keep in my purse. Today I am showing what I keep in my diaper bag, and how I keep it all organized. When we bought all of the stuff we needed for the new baby, things like crib sheets and other items came i these thick plastic pouches with snap closures. I kept all of them figuring I would find a good way to reuse them. Once I started putting everything together in my diaper bag, I realized those clear plastic pouches would work great for keeping the diaper bag organized. I use them to keep together the components for our cloth hybrid diapering system. I also have another pouch for a change of clothes for the baby and some extra little accessories.

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1. The changing pad that came with the diaper bag.
2. Diaper changing wipes.
3. Peepee Teepee.
4. Gdiaper travel dirty diaper bag.

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5. Biodegradable inserts for hybrid diapers.
6. Extra cloth diaper shells and snap in liners.
7. Extra outfit and accessories for baby.

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8. A great Burt’s Bees travel set that a friend gave us as a gift. The little bag contains lotion, diaper cream, baby wash & dusting powder.
9. An extra set of disposable breast pads. I normally use my organic cotton washable ones, and carry an extra set in with the baby clothes, but these are an extra backup in case I forget to replenish the cotton ones in the diaper bag.
10. Nursing nipple cream. Not my favorite cream, but I keep the one I use more on my nightstand. This one is okay and good in a pinch.
11. Organic cotton nursing cover.
12. Pacifier wipes.

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13. I always try to bring my stainless steel water bottle with me everywhere I go. If I go somewhere and forget my water bottle, I get very thirsty very quickly because the little guy nurses so much. Just in case I forget my favorite water bottle, I have this folding water bottle tucked into the diaper bag that can be filled up anywhere.
14. Small nose suction bulb that opens up for cleaning.
15. Dye-free infant acetaminophen.
16. Gripe water.
17. Bottle of ibiprofin for me in case my pelvic bone pain flares up while we are out somewhere.

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18. A couple of reusable shopping bags. I usually toss one in my purse, but I always try to keep extras in the diaper bag.
19. Small stroller hook. The larger one is clipped to the storage compartment on the stroller, but I like to keep this one in the diaper bag in case I need it.
20. Organic cotton swaddle blanket.

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A closer look at the change of clothes and accessories that I keep on hand for the little guy. Everything is organic cotton. A onesie, footed pants, a hat, socks, little mittens, and an extra set of breast pads for me.

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Everything fits in nicely, even leaving extra room in case I want to toss in the Moby Wrap.

Experienced moms: how did I do? Anything I am missing, or am I pretty well-prepared for anything? So far I feel like I have everything I could possibly need for now.

What’s In My Bag Part 1: My Purse

Before our baby was born, I figured that I wouldn’t really need to use a purse anymore, and would just make the diaper bag my go-to bag. After a few trips out running errands, I quickly realized that was not the ideal setup to keep me organized. For quick trips into a store, or somewhere like church, a big diaper bag is just too much to carry in and really not necessary. Plus, there are a few stores that we frequent that have baby changing areas (Nordstrom, Buy Buy Baby, etc.), but most places we go do not have a place to change a baby’s diaper, leaving me to do diaper changes in the car anyway. Plus, when the diaper bag is down in the storage compartment of our stroller, it is a little frustrating and cumbersome to get at anything. When you are trying to quickly get out a burp cloth, pacifier, or wallet, it is just way too much hassle.

To solve my dilemma, we found a purse that matches my diaper bag, and can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body. I wanted something easy to clean, ample room to hold a variety of things without being too big, and be hands-free. I absolutely love my purse and the matching diaper bag, both from Marc by Marc Jacobs. I try to keep my stuff pretty well organized so everything is easy to find. This is my purse organization system. The only part I really want to improve is the loose pile of coupons, mostly for baby stores. I know I bring a lot of things, but I love being prepared for just about anything! Part 2, what’s in my diaper bag will be coming tomorrow.
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1. Organic cotton Winnie the Pooh stroller toy, to keep baby E happy and distracted in a pinch.
2. An individually wrapped cleansing cloth in case of a big cleanup emergency (this one was saved from Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill).
3. Burt’s Bees organic cotton burp cloth.
4. Pacifier, pacifier clip and holder.
5. Hand sanitizer.

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6. Mini manicure set.
7. Pack of tissues. I used to have a Shemergency kit, but somehow seemed to have lost it when we moved. I may order some refills from some of the items, but for now this is all that remains.
8. Mini measuring tape, perfect for planning purchases for the house and organizing.
9. Mirror.
10. Face blotting papers.

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11. Band-aid dispenser.
12. Forehead fever scan. Was part of a great baby care package from my husband’s work.
13. Alcohol swabs.
14. Folding scissors.
15. Mini Swiss Army knife.
16. Cough drops.
17. Benadryl in case I have a food allergy emergency.
18. Dental floss.
19. Burt’s Bees Hand Salve.
20. Safety pis.
21. Bobby pins & hair ties.
22. Double stick fashion tape.

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23. Wallet.
24. Keys with a tiny lip gloss.
25. Tiny hair brush.
26. Small lint roller.
27. Mascara.
28. Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.
29. Burt’s Bees lotion.
30. Trial sized moisturizer with SPF since my husband usually forgets to wear sunscreen.
31. Gum.

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32. Rosary prayer booklet.
33. Tiny rosary in little egg container.
34. “Cross in my pocket.” Was my grandma’s.
35. Small notebook and pen.
36. Cell phone.
37. Granola bar for my husband. I usually keep another one for myself as well, but we need to restock my dairy-free/soy-free/egg-free/gluten-free bars.

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A closer view of my tiny rosary and the “cross in my pocket.”

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Everything fits in here pretty well! Most of the tiny items go together in a small zippered pouch. I keep the frequently used small items (like mascara and lip shimmer) in the zippered purse pocket. There is a pouch for my phone and one for my keys as well.

See part 2 with my diaper bag here.

What I Wore: Vintage Boho Sunday – Mommy & Baby Style

I usually am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they usually end up looking boxy on my frame. I found this button down shirt that I absolutely love. It is a mix of cotton woven fabric with ribbed knit cotton inserts on the sides and parts of the sleeves, which gives it a much better shape, and prevents me from feeling like I am drowning in the shirt. The buttons work for breastfeeding on the go, and the lightweight fabric is great for a warm day. The vintage skirt is one of my favorites, and I was happy to find something that would look cute paired with it, as well as still be breastfeeding-friendly.

Top: JCP
Skirt: vintage
Scarf: H&M
Sunglasses: Coach
Belt: came with a dress, but not sure which one…maybe from H&M?
Boots: Boot Barn
Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs

E is wearing a vintage seersucker romper, a hat from H&M, a Burt’s Bees Baby organic cotton tee, and Ecoland organic cotton socks. His Gdiaper cloth diaper is also peeking out in the pictures. 🙂

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And a pic of my handsome husband today! Such a great dad. 🙂

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What I Wore: Accessorizing the New-Mom Style

I have quickly realized that being a new mom comes with some unexpected extras…things like dark under-eye circles and hair that is often dirtier than you would like. Instead of giving up all hope of feeling/looking decent, I am trying to learn to accessorize around these fun little extras. Great shades and concealer hide the dark circles, and fun hats and dry shampoo help get you through between washes. My hair takes forever to blow dry and straighten, so on one occasion I even had to ask my mom to come help with the baby so I could just get my hair washed. 🙂 The little guy does not like to nap which does not leave me much time to do things that take a long time.

Button down shirts worn over nursing camisoles are really starting to be very useful for nursing the baby. I wore another scarf here that was great as a nursing cover. I generally am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they tend to make me look huge and boxy, but I have found that as long as I belt it or tuck in at least part of the shirt, it really helps me feel like I am not drowning in the shirt.

These new flats are amazingly comfortable and feel like I am walking on a cloud! I love them. 🙂 I also discovered an added accessory bonus this day…sparkly bracelets are great for keeping the baby occupied during diaper changes! He watched my wrists moving around and glittering, and before he had time to make a fuss, the diaper was changed!

Hat: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Scarf: H&M
Blouse: Nordstrom
Nursing camisole: Motherhood Maternity
Sweater: Anthropologie
Pants: Anthropologie
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E is wearing FAO Schwarz and a hat from H&M.

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What I Wore: Learning to dress for style & function

It has been a long, long time since I have done a fashion post! The last one I did was actually shot in the first week of my pregnancy with E, before we realized I was pregnant. 🙂 I quickly started feeling way too sick with all-day-long morning sickness to be in the mood to take any pictures. I would have liked to have done a couple of maternity style posts, but once I started to actually look pregnant, I was on bed rest by then. Putting the pregnancy at risk in order to get some pictures was so not an option. Besides, the only time I was wearing anything other than my grandma’s baggy sweat suits was on my brief trips to my doctor’s appointments. 🙂

For my first 7 weeks postpartum (after I left the hospital), I pretty much lived in one of my pairs of leggings and one of my baggy black tees or tanks. I had a hard time wearing much of anything else because of the bulky binders I was wearing to help support my pelvic bones. I had to dress strictly for function, and started to feel like I was wearing a uniform each day.

Now that I am feeling a little better (and have stopped wearing the Velcro/elastic contraptions), I am starting to try to learn how to dress for this new phase in my life. I need clothes that are accessible and breastfeeding-friendly. I also don’t want to wear a bunch of dry-clean only clothes since I always end up with spit-up and other things on me daily. I figured that once I lost the majority of the 40+ pounds I gained during my pregnancy that most of my pre-pregnancy clothes would fit me again. I only have about 10 pounds of that weight left, and almost none of my clothes fit. Pregnancy completely changed my body in ways I did not expect. My hip bones widened significantly, and my rib cage expanded by over 10 inches during the pregnancy. I hoped that they would go back down after the pregnancy, and they have a little, but I definitely have a completely different shape now. I also have the new challenge of not being ready to wear heels or wedges yet thanks to the lingering pain in the ligaments between my legs and pelvis. Until those are healed up a little better, all of my outfits have to look good with flats, which is a big change from what I am used to wearing.

Both of my guys have been very patient lately as we have spent much of our weekend time trying to find things for my new-mommy wardrobe. First order of business was a new purse that will work with almost anything. I don’t want to ruin any of my nice vintage bags with any kind of baby-related stain, and I needed something that could be worn over my shoulder or cross-body. I wanted something easy to clean, a great neutral color, big enough to hold a burp rag and a few other baby essentials. Sometimes the diaper bag is just too much for a quick trip, or I need something more accessible when the diaper bag is in the bottom storage compartment of the stroller. I ended up finding the perfect solution…this Marc by Marc Jacobs bag that actually matches my diaper bag. 🙂 It even has two straps so it can be worn cross-body or over the shoulder! It is quilted nylon, and wipes clean so easily. I am so in love with this bag. 🙂 Expect to see it with pretty much all of my upcoming fashion posts.

After we found the purse, the next order of business was finding some clothes that fit my new shape. I am a total high-low shopper, and love shopping at a wide range of places. One of my favorite things to do is spend an afternoon digging through some of my favorite thrift stores to find some great pieces. This outfit is perfect for an afternoon of thrift store shopping. Some thrift stores don’t have the best dressing rooms, so I love to wear a base layer that I can try things on with. I start with a black nursing tank and black leggings, and add on top of that. The baby is not a big fan of the nursing cover, so I have been wearing scarves that I can use as a nursing cover as much as possible. That way he can still keep his one eye watching me like he enjoys doing, and I can cover up a little. 🙂

Over my leggings and nursing camisole, I added a button-down tunic, that allows for easy access, a large vintage scarf nipped in at the waist with a vintage belt, and ballet flats. It worked out perfectly for our day of thrifting and shopping.

Scarf: vintage (was my Grandma’s, from one of their many vacations)
Belt: vintage
Tunic: H&M
Sunglasses: vintage
Leggings: Still wearing my maternity leggings since they do not rub on my c-section incision which is still sore. Brand is unknown but they were from Macy’s.
Nursing Tank: Motherhood Maternity
Shoes: Chinese Laundry
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

E is wearing H&M Kids, from their organic collection. 🙂

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