Tag Archives: how to

How To: take a quick getaway with lots of little ones

Dan and I get cabin fever quite often. We like to be busy and on-the-go. Sometimes that means running errands all day, sometimes that means getting out of town. While it can sometimes be less stressful to just let the kids run crazy (and usually half naked) around the house and pulling out toys from every cupboard and drawer while you snuggle down and watch tv on the weekends, it can be equally less stressful to not deal with that house mess and instead leave your clean house behind for a weekend away.

We are insanely lucky to have access to a couple cabins that are a short drive from us — 3 hours, tops. In the winter we go to play in the snow, snowboard, ice skate and play with our winter friends and in the summer we go to swim in the lake, go to farmer’s markets, pick huckleberries and play with our summer friends.

Make no mistake…it’s not easy to pack for 6 kids, 2 of whom are still in diapers. In addition to clothes and jammies for each day, there are always the ‘extras’ that come with seasonal activities. Snow boots, jackets, gloves….swimsuits, lifejackets, sand toys. All things that take up every available square inch of space in the suburban. But that’s okay, because it’s worth it.

I get asked all the time: “How do you do it?” I think having more than 3 or 4 kids is a mysterious thing to lots of people. They can’t imagine doing it, so it’s hard to imagine how others do it. There’s no secret, though, and odds are very good that most people would manage just fine with 6 kids, just like we do. We have just learned some tricks to make life easier, especially on vacation.

1. Rules don’t really apply on vacation.

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At the cabin(s), the kids snack all day long. They snack on things like chips and cheetos and juice. Sometimes, that’s what they eat for lunch. They watch movies all day and play on our phones. Because a vacation is a vacation and sometimes that means rules don’t apply.

What does this mean for mom and dad? It means less whiney kids. It means peace and quiet and a vacation that we can enjoy, too. Battles are meant to be fought on the weekdays. Let’s keep weekends peaceful, shall we?

2. Hang out with pals.

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During our ‘normal’ days and weeks, we don’t get together with friends often. We don’t get families together and hang out. We have lots of family time with Dan, me and the kids alone. Like…lots. So when we get out of town for the weekend, we like to spend time with our friends. We are really lucky that we have friends at each of our weekend getaway locales. Down in the snow, our group of friends is so much fun and treat us just like family. The kids LOVE them and we have so much fun with them and their adorable kids, too. And, again, it makes mom and dad happy to have other adults to hang out with. Happy parents = happy children. That’s a mathematical fact.

3. Let things go.


Things can get awfully overwhelming at times if you let them. So…don’t let them. If you don’t get to the ski hill on time, who cares? If your kids would rather hang out in the car and watch dvds than play in the snow at the bottom of the bunny hill, even though it took you 40 minutes to get them all in their snow gear and 20 minutes to put on each pair of gloves that the little ones kept taking off…then just let them. Give them their cheetos and juice boxes, put in Sophia the First, whip out your US Weekly and People magazines and read them in front of the propane-fueled heater, snap selfies with your phone, and let things go. Our car is usually a disaster when we are out of town: wrappers everywhere, remnants of take-out lunch, books and toys and ALWAYS random shoes. Let it go. Let it be messy for a few days.

4. Snap LOTS of pictures on your phone. Sometimes, the memories of fun getaways and looking back on pictures will remind you how important it is to make the time for it. It always makes me excited to go back and anxious to do more things and take more adventures.

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(our friend’s 2 year old daughter, Alice…honestly, how adorable is that?!)

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On the practical side: 

pack the day before you leave

pack extra clothes for babies and toddlers and more diapers than you think you might need

pack a backpack full of toys and crayons and coloring books and don’t give it to the kids until you are at your destination

stop at the store on the way into town and get fruit snacks and cereal and juice and crackers and whatever else your kids like to snack on and that might seem like a treat

and, for the love of god, don’t run out of Eggo waffles and oreos

happy vacationing!


Photo Prep 101: choosing a photographer and location

Day 2 of our series:

rock the shoot.

To recap, twice a week for the next month or so, Elle Smith and I will be giving you guys tips on how to make your next photography session fun, easy, and affordable.  We’ll give you advice on what clothes to buy (for little kids and big kids…and parents, too!), how to choose a time for photos and, today’s topic, :

First, ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of your session.  Did your daughter miss school picture day and you’re just wanting a few sets of wallets to give to friends?  Are you wanting to update the portrait above your fireplace (the days of everyone wearing matching shirts are over)? Maybe your son needs senior portraits taken or you simply want some really good photos of your children.  Different photographers have different areas of expertise and you should match up with someone who can give you what you need!

Follow these steps to find your photographer:

1.  Do your research.

Don’t just take your pal’s word for it that so-and-so takes really good pictures.  Go to XYZ Photography’s page and look for yourself.  Are the images consistently good?  You don’t want to be one of her ‘off’ sessions.  If someone is just starting out and doesn’t have a portfolio to view…move on.  Yes, everyone needs to start somewhere and everyone needs practice, but someone who is just starting out, doesn’t have a portfolio and is already charging for sessions should not be your family photographer.  Let them practice and build up a portfolio before paying them to capture you.

2. Match your style.

If you are looking at someone’s portfolio and you notice that every single one of their pictures are country style and the posing is very traditional yet you consider yourself edgy and urban…keep looking!  It’s okay to not hire someone because you don’t like their style.  There are many photographers who have their own very distinct look and you want to find one whose ‘look’ matches you!  Aren’t into the vintage edit look?  Then don’t hire someone who edits their pictures as such.

You are paying money for someone’s art.  Don’t expect them to change their style and their eye to accommodate you exactly.  You won’t be happy, I promise!  But if you like elements of their work and would be willing to try a few different things, set up a meeting and test the waters.  Most photographers are excited when clients come to them with fun ideas — but are quickly annoyed when the client basically just wants them to click a button.  Part of being a photographer is having an eye for composition, posing, backdrops, lighting….and that’s what you’re paying them for.  Trust them.

3. Have a budget in mind.

Know what your photographer charges and what your investment will be before diving in.  No one likes really expensive surprises (unless you’re surprised with a diamond necklace from your husband…then everyone loves that kind of expensive surprise).  It’s not fair to you or your photographer to book a session then come time to pay and not be able to purchase any prints. Know your possible investment beforehand.  Many photographers have session prices on their websites and if they don’t, email them to ask for a price list.  That’s not weird at all and I know they will appreciate you coming in and knowing what you can afford!

4. Be flexible. 

We’re so used to the phrase “the customer is always right.”  It’s really easy to think that we know the answer to everything and the best way to make us look good — what ‘side’ is our best side, what angle to turn our bodies, who should stand where, etc.  Truth:  we actually don’t.  Trust your photographer.  Go into your meeting with him/her knowing that he/she is the expert!  If they have an idea for a location and you had something completely different in mind, don’t nix it right away.  If they have a concept for your session and you just wanted the standard “parents in a chair and kids around us” type of shoot, step outside the box for just a moment and consider the new ideas.  But….

5. Be true to your own style.

You won’t be happy with your pictures if you aren’t comfortable during your photo session.  I promise, it will show.  If you meet with a photographer and they are insisting on your session being on the banks of the Snake River, barefooted with an au natural look but you hate the outdoors….don’t do it!  Your photos need to represent not only the art of the photographer, but the personality and the look of your family and, really, only you know if one photographer or another will be able to capture that.  If someone is rubbing you the wrong way and you don’t feel comfortable hiring them, walk away.  You will be doing both yourself and the photographer a favor.  Let’s be real — some people aren’t meant to work together and that’s okay.

6. Once you choose a photographer, trust them.

If you like a photographer’s art and work well enough to pay them (probably a lot), you should also trust them!  When it comes to location, trust their recommendations.  A good photographer will listen to what you want and what you have in mind and incorporate that into their own ideas and plans to create something you both will be incredibly proud of.  Sometimes locations and poses and head tilts and hand placements feel really weird and awkward and stupid — but they usually work out!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to clients, “I know.  It feels really weird.  But I promise it looks really great in pictures!”

On that note, don’t bring them one hundred pictures off of Pinterest and expect your photos to look exactly like that.  First of all, unless your body type, hair, clothing, and the lighting is exactly the same, it cannot ever be exactly replicated.  Secondly, that picture you are taking to your photographer is someone else’s art.  You are asking your photographer to dismiss all of his/her natural and worked-really-hard-for talent just to look like someone else.  TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER.  There is a reason he/she charges what he/she does for their time and talent.

How do you feel after reading those tips?  Feel like you can find a photographer and book  a session?  Start your research now!  Whether you have little boys, little girls, teens, tweens and everything in between, Elle and I are going to make sure you guys look amazing for your sessions!

Hop over to Life Styled by Elle to get her take on the process of hiring a photographer!