Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time Lapsing with Blinkbuggy

I've made videos of each of my boys' first years (see Henry's and Charlie's) and every time I share them people ask me "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!" It's actually really simple, but it is insanely time-consuming and something you have to actively work at throughout that whole first year. I've explained the process I use- the organizing, filing into folders on my external hard drives, then the actual making of the movie- and friends have said it seems like way too much. And maybe it is! But for me it's worth it...although I have to admit it would be nice to have a quicker, easier way to document a long period of time and condense it into a short movie.

I actually had this conversation with my sister the other week and later that night I got an email from Blinkbuggy letting me know about their upcoming app that makes time lapse videos possible, doable- and MANAGEABLE. Very exciting, and when you read more about it I think you'll be stoked too.

Here's how it will work:

The best part of all is that although this idea did come from the intention of capturing a baby's first year, ANYONE can use this app. Capture a summer trip, a girls' vacation, or planning a wedding or event. Start when your baby is born, or start when they're 10. The possibilities are endless, and I especially like that you're actually prompted to take the video. If you're anything like me you have a million things in your mind already, so remembering one more thing probably won't happen.

The app hasn't been released yet, but if you've been reading awhile, you may remember that I partnered with Blinkbuggy when they first released their online baby book...and we thought it would be fun to offer the same kind of early access to you guys again.

To be one of the first to try the Blinkbuggy Time Lapse app, simply enter your info below to get on the waitlist. I've already signed up my best mama friends and I hope you sign up too...and then tag me when you post your amazing videos! I can't wait to try it myself.

*This post is in partnership with Blinkbuggy, but as always all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

East Coast Travels- We'd Love Your Help!

So next month we will be flying out to Boston to travel up and down the Northern part of the East Coast through the end of June, and we thought it would be fun to ask all of you what some of your favorite places are! Most of you probably know by now, but I was born and raised in New Jersey (until I was 13) and we still try to go back East every summer. Most of our family is out that way so we've been able to experience a lot of delicious food and visit cool spots over the years, but I it would be so great to hear your favorite places too!

I'll leave a list of some of our stops, and if you have any input on great places to play tourist, must-see spots, fun ideas for kids, or must-eat, local restaurants, I'd be forever grateful! I'll be posting photos throughout our entire trip on Instagram of course, and I'm looking forward sharing our trip with all of you!

Here's where we will be headed:

Boston, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts
Portland, Maine
Wakefield, New Hampshire
Shelburne, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
Poughquag and Upstate New York
New York City
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
North Jersey
Seaside, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

Can't wait to hear your recs! Thank you so much in advance. :)


Monday, April 13, 2015

Charlie's Favorite Books: 20 Months Old

Books, books, books! These boys of mine love to read, and I always try to keep their book selection fresh, whether it's from our library visits or from the bookshelves in our house. And although I do switch books in and out, there are always favorite that seem to stay in rotation day after day. Charlie has been in love with a few particular books lately, and even asks to sleep with them. Sometimes Hank and I will laugh together when we check the video monitor after we put Charlie down and see him sitting up in his bed in the dark, "reading" before he goes to sleep. So cute.

So these are Charlie's current favorite books- I'm linking to Amazon below, and I'll share Henry's next week too. Enjoy!

1. Moby Dick. This is a BabyLit book, which is one of our most beloved book series. If you're not familiar, BabyLit takes classic books we know and love, and turns them into super rad board books for little ones. They're truly a treat to read too- the illustrations are so cool and each book takes a different spin on the classic. Some are more thematic and other focus on things like sounds in the book, like the second BabyLit I'll mention below.

2. 100 First Words. This book is part of a series and Charlie absolutely LOVES them. He will point and say the names of so many of the pictures, and it's been cool watching him learn more and more each time we read it (which is probably about 10x a day). I started out by reading it to him, pointing to each picture and saying the name of it, and as time went on he started doing the pointing while I said what they were, and now he does a lot of the reading too.

3. Trucks. These Carry-Me books are great. Charlie loves to carry these around, and this is one of those books that can work for toddlers or kids Henry's age too, since the information inside is technical and interesting for 3-4 year olds as well. There are also some sensory details, and Charlie likes to touch all of the various parts on each page.

4. Five Little Pumpkins. This is a forever favorite in our house. I loved it growing up, Henry calls it his favorite Halloween book and song, and now Charlie adores it too, requesting "pun-kin book!" whenever it's time to read. It's a fun, quick book that you can work counting into also.

5. Words. This is the first book that Charlie really loved. He calls it the "apple book" and it's basically just a book with big, bright pictures inside teaching little ones to identify each item.

6. Sherlock Holmes. Another BabyLit book, and like I mentioned above, this one focuses on the sounds in the classic like "hounds howl" and "gates creak." Charlie has a great time with this one and loves when we make the actual noises for him.

Happy reading! xo

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Spring.

Isn't Spring just the best? I've taken great pleasure this year in watching the brown fall away and fresh buds start to pop up. I've enjoyed seeing our town slowly renew bit by bit, tree by tree, until one day while taking Henry to school I realized that overnight we had moved into full-blown, bright green, Spring.

It makes me think a lot about the spring going on in my own life, and the women around me. Most of my close friends are in their 30s too, and I'm learning that this is a truly magical age. Yes, magical. I try to use this word sparingly because at times it can sound a little silly, but let me tell you, my twenty-something readers, the thirties are the very best. Look forward to it, be excited. And to women out of your thirties, maybe you'd tell me to just wait, because it only gets better (and I hope it does), but I know that this right here, right now- it's beautiful. I'm nowhere near having it all figured out, but I do know how much I'm enjoying this current chapter of being alive. And particularly, the refreshing and renewing and bettering that's happening right now as the seasons shift and we find ourselves in Spring.

There's a lot to it, the magical parts of this decade. Maybe it has something to do with just not giving a fuck anymore. Maybe it has something to do with beginning to really look at yourself, to see who you are and what you like, and making peace with that. Not pleasing others, not worrying about opinions, just doing you. And for some, "doing you" really means "doing us." There are opinions that matter- for me, it's my husband and children.

For many of us I feel like our teens and twenties are peppered with mini-shifts, tiny blips, circles repeating over and over of "this is who I am, who I want to be, who I am not..." And then as you emerge from that, stepping into your 30s, something very neat happens- you start to see a little more clearly and begin to realize that these circles are some of the most amazing parts of your story- they've been the vehicles to get you right to where you are, right now, and any feelings of regret or strangeness regarding that journey begin to fall away. You are you, this life is yours, and it's beautiful.

I write a lot about this topic because I find it fascinating. My most recent book picks have all been memoirs written by women in their 50s and 60s, sharing what they've learned and how they've learned it. I enjoy reading things like this because it causes me to take a look at my own life and see the things I'll one day reflect upon, happening in real-time. It's a hyper-awareness of the legacy you'll leave, open eyes as you takes steps onwards and upwards. And I like it.

So here I am. Spring at 32. Almost 33, really. Another year of my life is coming full-circle and it's exciting to me to step into a new one. I never thought too much about my birthday being in May, but I see now how wonderful it is to be born in the springtime when everything is fresh and new again. And then being reborn every year as the calendar flips- a magical season in a magical season.

I'm grateful as I look around at the green leaves and the green grass and the flowers popping up. There's an excitement blooming inside of my chest and I can't help but feel like this new beautiful part of me is just starting to push through, the sunshine and warmth coaxing me out of myself once again, saying c'mon, c'mon, c'mon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Explore Arizona: Prescott Hiking | Aspen Creek Trail #48

I started our Explore Arizona series last year and I look forward to continuing it, and sharing all of our favorite hikes and outdoor spots around our beautiful state of Arizona. Most of the time we take the boys with us, so almost all of the hikes I'll share will be kid-friendly too. We've been using our trusty Ergobaby Performance carrier, although with the mileage we've been clocking we definitely need to upgrade to a proper pack, both for Hank and Charlie's sake!

Today I wanted to share one of our favorite local hikes. In our family we call this the "Secret Waterfall Hike" but it's better known as the Aspen Creek Trail, or Trail #48. It's an easy one, although a little long for small children walking on their own, and unshaded in many parts so you'll want to be sure to wear hats and sunscreen.

The hike is beautiful though, and my most favorite part is at the very beginning. In fact, I love the whole drive up. But once you park and cross the street to access the trail, you walk along the creek for a bit, and wind up until you get to some beautiful rock formations. If water is flowing, inside you'll find what Henry calls the secret waterfall. It's an awesome place to explore, and if you don't feel like hiking, your kids will enjoy being right there, or playing along the creekside.

If you do decide to continue on your way, you'll follow the trail as it ascends through tall trees and rocks, with beautiful views of the Sierra Prietas, the Bradshaws, and the San Francisco peaks. We had to look it up after we hiked it the first time, but the mountain with all of the towers on it is Mt. Francis. You'll be surrounded by nature on all sides, and we've only seen other hikers one time while up there. There are plenty of mountain bikers though, and we usually see at least 3-4 each visit.

The trail is 11 miles total, with an elevation of 6,539 feet with an accumulated gain of about 3,000 feet.

To get to the trail, you'll want to follow Copper Basin up, about 6 miles west of Prescott. The last 2 miles are dirt road. You'll see the parking area (will accommodate about 6-7 cars) just as you cross Aspen Creek- it's pretty obvious but you can also look for signs for FR9401L. Park and walk across the dirt road to access the trail.

I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let me know if you go! The photos below come from two recent visits, via my iPhone.

Happy trails to you! xoxo

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

5 Reads for April

(None of these pictured are mentioned below! I quickly grabbed 5 off of our bookshelf to use here. Silly, I know. Kindle problems...)

1. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

I'm in the middle of this book right now and it's been such a delight. I really enjoy reading memoirs of women reflecting on the life they've led, and this book totally fits that bill. It's a collection of stories by Anna Quindlen, from all points and parts of her life and it's fantastic. I really enjoy how she manages to find the extraordinary in seemingly ordinary things, and I find her writing to be incredibly inspiring- and also so easy to read, as she really feels like a friend.

2. Self-Help

Self-Help was under the recommended list for the book above, and it looked intriguing so I downloaded it to my Kindle. The other afternoon I read the sample and really, really enjoyed it. It's a collection of short stories and the one I read was called "How to be an Other Woman." Interesting perspective, beautiful storytelling...I'm just hoping the rest of the book lives up to the bit I enjoyed. From the looks of the reviews it does, and I'm looking forward to continuing this one tonight before bed.

3. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

My friend Amy and I started this on the same day without even knowing that we did (have you noticed yet, that I'm in the middle of about five books at any given time? I like to switch between a few unless I binge read something in one night!). Anyway, it was such a nice surprise to see Amy post a photo of this one on her IG, and then later that night another friend mentioned it on Facebook. And for good reason, so far, so good! I've read all of Gretchen Rubin's books, and although I liked her first one the best, this one seems great too. I love quick reads like this- all about trying to be the best "you" you can be- super inspiring.

4. Meditation: How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind

So I'm someone who needs to be made to slow down. One of my best friends has been meditating recently and has been telling me how helpful it's been. I don't know much about it, but I did add this book to my reading list last week and will hopefully get to it this month. I chose it because it has close to 100% of its 118 reviews as five stars, but if you have a different book you'd recommend, please do so!

5. All the Bright Places

After all of this non-fiction and self-help, I thought it would be good to end on a light, young adult note. I don't know anything about this book outside of the short hook I read, or know anyone who has read it...but it looks interesting! I loved The Fault in Our Stars and the first review said if you like'll love this. Sign me up.

Let me know if any of these look good to you, and if you decide to read along with me! Fill me in on what's on your list too! Happy reading. xoxo

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Spring wasn't always my favorite. I was always more of a fall girl, enamored with the yellow-orange-red leaves that crunched under my feet, the layers, the chill in the air. I still love it, but since becoming a Mom I gravitate towards spring so much more. Nothing's better than having the windows open everyday and being able to spend our time outside, not stuck in the house thanks to 20 degree weather.

To me spring means renewal, even more than a New Year. It's the rebirth of everything, and as the years have gone by I've found myself looking forward to that first feeling of spring in the air, and smile to myself, excited about the sunshine and outdoor adventures to come.

So when Zappos wanted to partner on a post about spring cleaning our closets, it was an easy yes for me. I've used Zappos before to order shoes and was always impressed with their customer service and quick shipping. But this time around I was truly blown away by all of the different brands they carry! It was very hard to just pick a few items- I wanted it all- but I tried to stick to "needs" and what my spring self could use most of all.

I went with three staples to refresh my closet- first was a new pair of Birkenstocks, but this time in a light taupe, perfect for spring. If you're on the fence, just GET THESE, people- they're my favorite shoe and an everyday slip on and go sandal for me- you'll love them! I also picked up a hat for running and hiking- I needed one with a little more sun coverage and the "trucker hat" style is perfect, and then I also chose a new pair of running shoes in a fun, bright color.

I ordered and the items were at our doorstep two days later. Yay, Zappos. Great experience all around, and my closet thanks you. Are you spring cleaning your wardrobe at all? Do you have any must-have pieces you'll be going for this season?

 This post is in partnership with Zappos. Thanks for reading!
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