Thursday, October 23, 2014

Explore Arizona: Lynx Lake & Camping with Kids

The other week we headed out for a camping our own town. Silly, maybe, but since we hadn't ever camped with the camper before, we wanted to try it out close to home first. We chose to head up to road to Lynx Lake, which in Prescott National Forest. Lynx Lake is absurdly beautiful, surrounded by the greenest trees, millions of trails and walking paths, and it's a great place for kids and families. We spent our mornings walking around the lake, and the rest of our time hanging out around the campsite, playing games and wandering around the many trails. It was a really, really good time and we can't wait to venture out next time.

I wanted to include some tips for camping with kids, or at least what worked for us. Granted, this was roughing it whatsoever, as there was bathroom in walkable distance (heck, our HOME is in walkable distance if you want to get technical), but there are some tips I feel comfortable sharing, even from what some would call this "easy" experience. Although honestly, is being away from home with kids ever easy? There's always a learning curve, and just when you think you've got it's time to go home!

Some things that worked for us:

Stay active. We framed our day with walks and activity, which wore the boys at and allowed them to stick to their regular naps (more on this in a minute). We brought our BOB jogger, which came in handy for walks on the trail. But by waking up and walking right away, then walking at night, we were always busy and avoided boredom at the site all day. We also wore Charlie in the Ergo a lot, which allowed us to actually hike off of the paved trail.

Naptime/Bedtime. If you're like us, you like to stick to naps and bedtime as much as possible. Our kids nap and go to bed at the same time everyday, so when we're vacationing we try to stick to that also. However, I'm sure you know that this can be impossible at times, especially when sharing a sleeping space. Here's how we do it. Charlie still naps 2x a day and Henry naps once. Charlie's morning nap is no big deal- we always bring our white noise machine wherever we go, so we just plugged it into the generator and he was out (we brought the Breeze with us, and he slept in there). For the second nap, where both boys' sleeping time falls at the same time, I would bring Henry in first and wait for him to fall asleep (he's the HEAVIEST sleeper). Then I would come in with Charlie and put him down. It sounds easier than it was- insert some tip-toeing around and knocking things over in the dark camper- but it worked. The key for us was bringing the white noise machine, and putting them down separately...after completely tiring them out during the day. Now, if you're in a tent it's a little different, but as far as camper-camping this was great.

Food. We planned for three days, and the key for me was just making a list and checking it off. Breakfast stuff (bagels, oatmeal, fruit), lunch stuff (PB&Js, lunch meat and cheese, hummus and veggies) and dinner (hot dogs, veggie burgers, etc.). We had the convenience of being able to keep things cold, and also having a store down the street. But I imagine if you were camping the wilderness it would be a whole different ballgame. Preparation though, was the most important. Everything was chopped and prepped and stored, and I knew what each meal would be. We also brought a high chair with us (a super light and small one). We had actually ordered a travel highchair but it hadn't arrived yet, so next trip I'll be sure to talk about it- it's super neat and folds up like an outdoor chair.

Entertaining kids. The big thing for us was staying busy with hikes and walks, and then in between having some fun activities for Henry. One night we carved a pumpkin but the firelight, another we roasted marshmallows. During the day we played games (I brought a few board/matching games), took nature walks, and did collecting. We also colored a lot and read books too. And if you do run out of things to do, I'm a firm believer in letting kids be BORED. That's when the best creativity and thinking happens anyway, right?

Be prepared. Bring more than you think in these areas: layers for warmth and snacks! I feel like there are never enough snacks, and never enough layers! Also, don't forget: sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, first aid kid, an extra pack of wipes, socks, matches, hats, flashlights and headlamps, and some fun things for the kids to do! If you have a little one, consider bringing a pack-n-play for both sleeping, and for when you need a break from chasing your new walker around. It was nice to be able to have Charlie play for a bit in there during the day, right next to all of us, but safely contained.

So that's it for now! This was a very broad list but I do hope it sparked some interest in going camping or at least reminded you of some things to add to your list next time you go! Enjoy, and happy trails to you. xoxo

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pumpkin Picking

Nothing makes me appreciate this blog more than when I go to a post tag (current example: pumpkin picking) and I'm able to look back years and years at pictures and words and memories all in one place. Amazing! It's pretty crazy to see the changes in not just the kids, but in us too. Case in point: 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Time is crazy! So for the fifth time as a family- the first time when Henry was still in my belly- we made our way over to Freeman Farms for their annual pumpkin festival.

It was a great day- we got to do everything on Henry's list, shared some delicious kettle corn, and left right at closing time. We headed home a little dirtier, the boys a little more tired, but we were all on a pumpkin high, feeling so happy after a hayride and wandering around the farm for a couple of hours. Visiting the pumpkin patch was one of my most favorite traditions as a child, and it's so fun doing the same with our little guys.

Here are some photos from our day -

9th & Elm and Weekend Links

Happy Sunday! The weekend is winding down but before it ends I wanted to share some links and some fun picks from a Sometimes Sweet partner, 9th & Elm. 9th & Elm is a website that showcases items from handmade and independent designers. There is a TON of stuff on the site, so when you head over be sure to utilize the different areas for shopping, but there are definitely some great deals and finds to be discovered. Here are some of my favorites:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

And also, here are some links from around the web this week. Enjoy! xo

17 Dirty Jokes We TOTALLY Missed In Beloved Films From Our Youth.

What I Saw as an NFL Ball Boy.

Why are America's postpartum practices so rough on new mothers?

Experiences over things.

Why I Don't Breastfeed...if You Must Know.

Wishlist: these sneakers, this dress, and this top.

"Where were all the people?"

These look so good- baked apple cider doughnuts.

So cool: Creating with a Kid.

Love these fall fashion picks.

How to meditate in five minutes or less.

Welcome, Teddy boy!

How do you say goodbye at a party?

7 obvious reasons you need to date a guy with a beard.

Have you checked out Transparent yet? 

The coolest girl you know probably uses a flip phone...

"I survived a weekend with the cult of Oprah."

And finally, "An Ode to the Mid-2000s Coach Bag." Did you have one?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How are you?

How are you?

I really mean it. I feel like sometimes people ask but don't really want to know, you know? And the funny part about blogging is I get to tell you even if you don't want to know! ;) So I'll tell you how I am, really am, and you do the same, ok? You can leave it anonymously if you want, but tell me how you are doing lately if you'd like...I'd love to hear.

So I'm good. Not the best I've ever been but I'm good. Right now is all about figuring things out, I think. Learning that it is truly impossible to do it all. Choosing what's important, than doing those things well...that's what I can do. And what I am learning to do- trying to do. It's funny, I'll feel like I have one area of my life down- I've got all of these plates spinning in the air. And look at me! I'm doing it! I've got this. But I just cannot get all of the plates up, no matter how hard I try. And then I realize that in the exercise of trying to get all of the plates to spin, I'm focusing on that, and not on spinning at all...

Have I lost you yet? The point being, I'm learning balance. I'm learning how to look at everything in front of me and pick the things I want and need to do, and stop feeling guilty about saying no to the rest.

And you know that feeling when you walking outside, and there's a slight breeze and the sun is shining and you have that overwhelming feeling of happiness? That's been happening a lot more lately. I'll be running and just feel happy. Truly happy, the kind where even though I know shitty stuff happens sometimes and the world isn't really all that beautiful a lot of the time, there's this little bit of happiness right here. And maybe that's all we really get, and that's the point of all of this, to have these tiny bits of happiness and love and goodness and to figure out a way to make them last and last.

But fall is always a little weird for me because it reminds me of loss. Happiness in one hand, loss in another- my favorite month, yet also the saddest. Every October forever, I will always think about that afternoon and that phone call and every strange detail of that day/week/month. And now it's been seven years. Seven. How did that even happen? Some memories are so fuzzy, so hard to grasp, but I can still remember Kendall brightly and vividly, and it truly does feel like yesterday he was with us almost every day. I miss him terribly. And I think as I get older and move through life's milestones I miss him even more- the space where he should be, the place where he would be, so glaringly obvious as times goes on...

Sad and happy and weird and better and learning. That's me right now.

And now, how are you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Explore Arizona: Lockett Meadow/Inner Basin Hike

This past weekend Hank and I spent the day hiking and exploring through one of the most beautiful parts of Arizona (or anywhere, really). To get to the Lockett Meadow/Inner Basin trailhead you drive up and through Flagstaff, then off a forest road and onto a windy, side of a mountain, sheer cliff, major drop off, two-way tiny dirt road. It was scary, in my humble opinion. However, the pay off is completely worth it because as you get deeper into the mountains you're met with THE most beautiful fall colors I've ever seen in my life. And this is coming from someone who grew up on the East Coast. Holy moly, Hank and I were in disbelief- the trees actually looked fake they were so beautiful. We spent the entire day hiking and enjoying the scenery, and I spent a little bit of time tearing up too. It was hard not to get emotional around all of that beauty.

Here's how to get there: 

Drive northeast of Flagstaff on US 89 for 12 miles to the Forest Road directly across from the Sunset Crater turnoff. Turn left (west) for about 1/2 mile, turn right (north) on Forest Road 552. Turn right at the Lockett Meadow sign and continue up the very very windy road. You'll know when you get there, because you'll begin to see cars lined up. There's a clearly marked one way loop that runs around the camping area, and you'll be able to find a space if you keep driving. There's a $5 day use fee and you can camp there too, if you'd like. Also, the signs on the drive up specify that the road there is not maintained for passenger cars, and I would have to agree. I did see some smaller cars there, but for the most part it was all 4WD vehicles like ours.

If you go, head out early in the day so you'll have time to make it all the way into the Inner Basin. There and back is about 8 miles, but you can also pick up other trails and go much further. Pack clothing for cold weather- you'll get up to 10,000 feet so it's really chilly and a jacket and hoodie is great for this October weather. We wore our running shoes, but hiking shoes would be best as a lot of it is uphill and rough terrain here and there. You'll also need to bring hiking basics- a backpack full of snacks and/or a lunch, sunscreen, plenty of water, and I also suggest a small blanket to lay on once you arrive at the Inner Basin. It's truly beautiful and my only regret with this day is that we didn't have more time to sit back and take it all in, even more than we did. I can't wait to go back!

Here are some photos from our day:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10 Fall Coats...Under $60

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

There's nothing like a cute fall coat to get me in the mood for all of the adventures this season has to offer! I thought I would put together a little round up of some of my favorites. Which one do you like the best?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Weekend Links

I haven't done a links post in a few weeks, so I have lots of fun things to share! I hope you enjoy. xoxo

First, I recently got the chance to try out Pipsticks sticker club (see the photo here) which is a subscription service for kids (or sticker-loving adults!). Henry loved it- he was so into getting "real" mail, and spent the longest time sorting and sticking his new stickers. Henry and Mom-approved, all the way! And as a bonus, use code SWEET10 to receive one month free when you subscribe to any 6 or 12 month Club or Family subscription.

How to quit or move on without feeling guilty.

Atheism's shocking woman problem.

My family moved to Nashville for Nashville.

"How I’m using my gig as a writer for ‘Transparent’ to make sure the T in LGBT isn’t edited out of television."

Have you watched this video yet? It's very moving...

What kids around the world eat for breakfast.

Wishlist: this tunic, these shoes, and this dress.

Three books that all feature Sylvia Plath in some way.

How they do fall in Hawaii.

Monsanto woos Mommy bloggers...

25+ apps to make your everyday life easier.

So, this made me cry.

Books and Looks. A fun spin off my Literate and Stylish series. Check it out, and submit your own book and look.

The dawn of the post-clinic abortion.

Currently posts around the internet: Cristina and Megan.

25 famous women on getting older.


And finally, marriage on Instagram versus marriage in real life

Have a good one! <3

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