Camping with kiddos

20 July 2018

Mother’s Day weekend 2018 was spent camping in the wilds of North Carolina – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

You’re probably familiar with the concept of behavioral “nudges” – I’ve talked about them before. From The Tech-Wise Family: “Nudges are small changes in the environments around us that make it easier for us to make the choices we want to make… Nudges don’t generally make us do anything, but they make certain choices easier and more likely. They don’t focus so much on changing anything about our own preferences and ability to choose well; they simply put the best choice right in front of us and make the wrong choice harder.”

REI Kingdom tent

We camp because it is one BIG nudge moving us to toward some of the things we care most deeply about: spending time with friends, disconnecting from technology, engaging in good conversation, moving our bodies, and soaking our kids (and ourselves!) in nature. No weekend of pampering could have been better! Plus, John brought sparkling cider and plastic champagne coupes to toast the mamas, so we really couldn’t have asked for more :)

Guava Lotus

camping breakfast

camping breakfast

Our sixth annual camping trip with the Rays was full of all of these things and more. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to take a peek!

Milly and June

This year, we chose South Mountain State Park as our destination. It was voted the 2017 State Park of the Year in North Carolina, and I can see why! The campsites (there are only a handful) are heavily-wooded and perched next to a gorgeous mountain river which provided the loveliest background murmur. We did find the sites a little smaller than we are used to, but the pristine bathroom facilities made up for that! :)

South Mountain State Park

We reserved two side-by-side sites, and Milly and June greatly enjoyed running back and forth between them on the little path cut through the trees :)

We often explore beyond the park on these trips for a hike or meal, but Connelly is pretty remote and so this time we stayed put — which was not at all a hardship, because one of the highlights of South Mountain is the hiking trails!

South Mountain State Park

north carolina waterfalls

Our big hike Saturday morning was to High Shoals Falls (the River Trail to the Hemlock Nature Trail to the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail, turning around at the falls, for anyone who’s looking to recreate!). It was SO beautifully done, with platforms and bridges cutting right through the cascading waterfall!

South Mountain State Park waterfalls

north carolina mountains

We also logged some quality time in the river back at our campsite, where the main entertainment was getting the daddies to fetch rocks from the river bottom for Milly and June to throw into the river. (My job was to make sure the girls didn’t fall in headfirst while doing so.)

river wading

I’ve shared some of my best camping tips before, but I know the idea of camping with toddlers and babies (or even just camping at all!) can still seem intimidating. I will readily admit that it requires a certain amount of gear and preparation to be a smooth and enjoyable experience, but I feel equally passionately that it is worth every minute and every dollar. What a gift for our two families to look back on all of these experiences together, knowing we made time for the things that matter most to us!


sixth annual camping trip

Now just imagine two more kiddos in the picture next year… it will be a whole new level of adventure :)

P.S. We’ve already decided that our fifteenth annual trip will be a joint family vacation to Yosemite – any ideas for our tenth adventure a little closer to home? We’ve only got four years to plan, ha!

P.P.S. Nancy’s take on our trip – she took the best of these photos, too!

2013 trip (no babies!)
2015 trip (no babies, Nancy pregnant!)
2016 trip (two babies!)
2017 trip (two babies, Nancy pregnant!)
2018 trip (three babies, both pregnant – ha!)

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My simple fitness hack

3 May 2018

I’ve been going over my survey results recently (as you may have noticed!), and one of the most frequently-requested topics was… fitness. You very kind ladies wanted to hear about my fitness routines, and to that I say: LOLOLOLOLOLOL. There are many things I feel I’m qualified to talk about, but fitness is probably not one of them.

I don’t have a great track record, after all — at least post-pregnancy. Before June arrived, John and I had a good routine going: we ran a few times a week, would take long (20-30 mile) bike rides on the weekends, and played tennis with friends. I also once used up a full 20-class pass at Pure Barre and for a few months I became a ballerina again before scheduling issues got in the way.

bike riding

Currently, my main exercise comes in the form of a brisk walk as many evenings as possible (usually 5/7 in warm weather months!). We also hike maybe one weekend a month, and June and I go for a walk amble many afternoons, as well.

Noticeably absent from that list? Anything approaching strength training, and anything that results in heavy breathing. So clearly there are holes in my fitness routine that I look forward to addressing when our kiddos are a little bit older and/or we have a little more room in our budget for babysitters.

BUT. Just because I can’t at this stage of my life completely overhaul my routine as I might like, that doesn’t mean I’m completely stuck. Little by little progress can add up, and I’ve learned I’m most likely to make that progress when it’s easy, for better or worse.

Recently, reading The Tech-Wise Family gave me an idea. Here’s the quote that inspired me:

As popularized in Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s fascinating book by the same name, nudges are small changes in the environments around us that make it easier for us to make the choices we want to make or want others to make. Nudges don’t generally make us do anything, but they make certain choices easier and more likely. They don’t focus so much on changing anything about our own preferences and ability to choose well; they simply put the best choice right in front of us and make the wrong choice harder.”

Longtime readers may recall this is very similar to the idea from The Happiness Advantage that inspired our guitar placement to great effect.

Once again, I put the best choice right in front of myself: I moved my free weights to the floor of our master bathroom. Then, while June takes her nightly bath, I work my way through a few arm exercises: bicep curls, tricep curls, and other-things-I-don’t-have-a-name-for-including-raising-my-arms-out-to-the-side. I do each until I can feel the burn, and then I move on to the next one. Nothing too fancy.

I’m going to be in the bathroom for those ten minutes anyway, the weights are already there, and so there is almost literally NO WAY for me to avoid doing those arm exercises. That’s the kind of workout I need! I’m proud to say I’ve already moved from two to five pound weights :)

Have y’all ever used this trick to form a habit? It’s a good one!

Affiliate links are used in this post!

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11 May 2012

Ladies (and gents – I know you are out there), I have lately been hearing the call to accessorize. The most recent nudge was seeing this article featuring the adorable ladies of Ritzy Bee, but really, this has been going on for at least a few weeks.

Abby Jiu

Oh, hello, most stylish people ever. Also, I would like Ms Kelly’s hair, please and thank you.

I have never been a shoe person, and I have really never been a jewelry person. I wear my engagement ring, pearl studs, a silver link bracelet, and a Dogeared necklace day in and day out, without fail. (In fact, I sleep in everything but the earrings.) Yes, I have a few necklaces hanging in my closet, and a few earrings and bracelets in a bowl in the bathroom, but we’re talking very few. And they’re all pretty much neutral pieces. My clothing budget is so tiny that allocating money on accessories always seemed like kind of a waste to me.

But THEN. I bought a belt. A fairly simple, fairly wide, caramel-colored leather belt. From Old Navy, of all places! I bought this belt kind of on a whim, after I pinned a particular outfit on Pinterest that featured a similar piece. And ladies, the ability this belt has to make an outfit feel put together is nothing short of incredible. White v-neck tee, greige shorts, and Jack Rogers? Basic. White v-neck tee, greige shorts, Jack Rogers, and belt? Instantly super stylish (at least in my easy-to-impress opinion). I don’t know what it is, but it’s sure changed my thinking on accessories. Also bold color and tunic-style tops – see below for evidence:

Clockwise from top left: Trina Turk Suzette dress ($248), from What She Wore 365, Boden Long Island top ($78, but I got it for 15% off and free shipping by Googling for a coupon code – whoo!), Rikshaw Design Classic Kurta ($70), Trina Turk Brecita blouse ($228), Kate Spade Kati cardigan ($298)

Sorry about that, y’all – I don’t usually like to dangle so many expensive and awesome things in front of your (our) eyes, but I couldn’t help myself.

And unfortunately, my budget has not changed alongside my thinking, so the truth is that in all likelihood I will end up purchasing maybe one of the picks below. But I had fun dreaming, and perhaps one piece below will be just what you’ve been looking for to put some pep in your step! I hope so!

A. Kendra Scott Allison earrings ($65), B. Kate Spade bangle ($128), C. Design Darling studs ($32), D. Kendra Scott Cassie bracelet ($130), E. Kendra Scott Carly earrings ($55), F. Trina Turk Sao Paulo sandal ($165), G. Target enamel bangle ($18), H. J.Crew Tessellate necklace ($85), I. Target gold and coral bamboo bracelet set ($14), J. Bridier Baubles Campbell Chandelier earrings ($23), K. Target Gold Square enamel bracelet ($15), L. Target enamel bracelet ($15), M. J.Crew Classic link bracelet ($88)

Tell me: If you could only pick one piece from this post to add to your wardrobe, which one would it be? I am having a VERY hard time choosing between the link bracelet and the coral and turquoise studs…

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