A note to my younger self on my 35th birthday: A quick moment of reflection

The week of my 35th year on this planet is here and it’s kind of tripping me out.

It’s not because I feel “old”, but more because I can vividly remember my own parents when they were this very age. I can so clearly remember warm days with my Dad mowing the lawn, and watching his beloved Mets, and my mom always ready with a Pop-Ice and calling us from the front door to come in once our street lights went on around 8:30. And, the crazy part to me is, that it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Yet, here I am, turning that same age, and calling my own kids onto the deck for a Pop-Ice (organic, of course. Yay for 2017.).

From that time in the early 90’s until now, I’ve learned a few things. Seriously, just a few…I am still far from a wise adult offering sage advice and I often wonder how I am as adulty (a bit of neologism for ya) as I am (and expected to be).

But, alas, here are a few things I’ve learned, and would note to my younger self… if I could go all Marty McFly on myself, of course:

  1. What is old will always be new again. I kick myself for not saving my black velvet choker collection from 1992, and I am forever peeved that my mom didn’t save her sunglasses from the 80’s.
  2. Travel while you are young and don’t have as many responsibilities. Take a few years after high school, sleep on some couches, eat ramen noodles and see the world. Sure, you can travel after you have a job. Sure, you can travel after you have a house and kids. It’s just much harder, logistically. Don’t rush into adulthood so quickly.
  3. Do not dye your hair blond. You will cringe looking at those photos when you turn 35.
  4. Having regrets is ok! I know we now live in the world of YOLO, NO REGRETS and FOMO (ok, now I sound old), but I think having a few helps you grow as a person. Every mistake made is an opportunity to change for the better.
  5. Spend more time with your Grandparents. Ask them more questions. Listen to their story.  Because when they are gone, you will miss them profoundly.
  6. You don’t need stuff ←– Also, still telling myself this presently and daily. House, cars, shoes…that stuff doesn’t make you happy, so stop spending your money on it. Go walk up a mountain. Go lay on the beach. Go cuddle your babies. Those things make your heart happy. Spend more time…spend less money.
  7. You will never make friends like the ones you made in elementary school. Yours are the greatest, and they know all the stupid shit you’ve done. They will turn into family. Cherish them always!
  8. Remember how you ate hostess cupcakes everyday for lunch and Chunky Monkey ice cream every afternoon during high school? Enjoy it! Eat more of it! It’s all kale smoothies, and portioning desserts once you hit your thirties.
  9. Don’t be so hard on yourself. ←– Also something I am still telling myself daily. Try your best, always be kind, be a good person who is true to yourself and don’t stress about the rest. It’ll all work out and you are doing okay.
  10. You only get to do this life thing once, so live it. Do what makes you happy.

Also, drink more bellinis. They are your bliss.

CHEERS to 35!

xo Elisa

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Trip Memory: A throwback to 2013- Our first family trip to our nation’s capitol

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In the midst of the political chaos that our great nation is facing, I am (for some reason) yearning for a trip back to D.C. I have such fond memories of our last trip there with the boys, and look forward to taking them back there soon. Below is an article I wrote back in 2013 about a weekend trip there…when we were only a family of 3! Included are some great tips for heading there with the family!
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, like I did!

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ROAD TRIP!!!

For my husband and I, traveling was a major part of our life before baby, and we vowed that we wouldn’t change that after our family grew! But, as we were to find out, traveling with a family can be expensive. Add in a destination that requires a flight, and you could have yourself a costly vacation.

A few weeks ago, we took our first Macaroni Kid West Morris Road Trip to the Washington, D.C. area. We spent a long weekend having fun at museums, eating at delish family friendly (but mommy & daddy approved) restaurants, swimming and just relaxing. Holy smokes, did we have a great time! The easy 4 hour drive took us to Alexandria, VA, a suburb right outside of the D.C. area. Alexandria has a Hoboken or Princeton-like feel, with adorable shops, tons of restaurants, and more strollers and dogs on leashes than I have ever seen in a small city.  After settling in, we took a drive to the National Waterfront. We lucked out and had a beautiful day to walk around the water front, do a little window shopping and visit the National Children’s Museum. Admission to the museum is $10 for children & adults ages 1 year and up. We spent a full 3 hours at the museum exploring, playing and learning. Older children will have a wonderful (& educational) experience exploring the foods, clothing (dress up!), and even transportation of other countries. And the “Our Town” exhibit replicates a small local town, and allows children hands on experience in a mock Fire Engine, Pizza Parlor, and even a shipping dock! And of course, it wouldn’t be Washington, D.C. without a little politics! Children can participate in choosing a “candidate” by listening to platforms that may be of interest to them (i.e. why or why not soda should be allowed in schools). National Children’s Museum has a unique partnership with Sesame Workshop, which means their under 3 area (under 3 ft. tall, or under 3 years old) is adorned with every toddlers favorite Sesame Street characters. Elmo, Abby, Big Bird and more are photographed on the walls, and Cookie Monster’s food truck can be driven to places that only a toddler’s imagination can take them. My son (15 months) loved this area! The small area to climb on was a big hit (like a small obstacle course), as well as the toys, felt and magnet boards, and puzzles. If you continue through the Under 3 area, you will find classrooms that have at least 2 different crafts being offered on a daily basis. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are also mini productions and story times in the theater! We truly cannot wait to get back there and enjoy it again!

Our last day was spent exploring Washington, D.C. The National Mall and most of the museums were just a short 15 minute drive from our hotel (including a bit of normal traffic). The majority of the museums in D.C. are free of charge to get in. So fantastic for a family, because we all know how bored kids can get. You can visit the parts of each museum that your find interested, and then head to the next one! My son was pretty excited about the Museum of National History (if your kids have seen Night at the Museum, they will be even more excited!). The elephant in the lobby, animals, dinosaurs and the ocean exhibit were all big hits. This mommy liked the Harry Winston exhibit (Valentine’s Day ideas, anyone?!).  For older children, the Air & Space Museum will be incredibly exciting. The IMAX theater programs and the giant airplanes hanging from the ceiling are always crowd pleasers. The Spy Museum would also be a lot of fun for an older child. Of course, with the various monuments, Capitol Building, White House, etc… there are so many things to do in D.C. that one trip is not enough! We visited many, but will be back to finish soon!

Other than the in museum café’s, there is not much in the way of restaurants by the National Mall. Luckily we parked right by the popular Food Truck scene. Good food trucks beat a casual restaurant for me any day. This is the link that has the popular Food Trucks in D.C.; we ate at the Crepes Parfait food truck in the link. Amazing.

The Washington D.C./Alexandria, VA area was a fantastic 3 day weekend trip. We look forward to returning soon!

 

Why is traveling with my children so important?

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I want you to close your eyes and fantasize about going on the vacation of your dreams with your family…your husband, your wife, your kids….

Are you day dreaming of a tropical beach, and laying on a lounge chair drinking a frozen daiquiri while the kids play for hours in the white sand? Or, are you picturing your beautiful family smiling in front of the Arc de Triomphe while noshing on a perfect croissant?

Now, open your eyes and remember this is real life. And, in real life, when traveling with your family, and especially young children, your strawberry daiquiri is most likely watery because you didn’t drink it fast enough due to separating non stop sand fights between your kids, and your toddler is most likely having an epic meltdown in front of that epic Arc.

So, you ask, if this is the case, and this is the reality of traveling with young kids, then why the heck have we traveled with our children over 20 times in the past few years?! The answer is simple: although it might not always be easy, or “picture perfect”, the experiences and memories made as a family far outweigh anything else.

Our day-to-day lives are filled with school drop offs, appointments, cell phones, meal preps, household maintenance and work. We go, go, go. When we travel, even if we are only a few hours from home, we slow down. We talk uninterrupted. We make eye contact. We laugh more. We connect. Without fail, I always find out something new about my kids each time we travel.

And, possibly, moreover the family connection and memories, we travel because it affects our children in such a profound way. Each and every place we visit raises questions of culture, future adventures, and personal discovery. I can see them grow on each new trip, and their “where are we going next” excitement in between in each trip is infectious, and drives us to never stop adventuring.

Although they might not remember all of our trips when they get older, I know that they are forever changed for the better for having the experiences. And, I am forever changed by experiencing the new adventures through their eyes.

xo Elisa

 

Want to make beautiful music while traveling? Our 5 favorite ways to bring our love of music into the outdoors or on the road!

If you haven’t guessed it by the title of our blog, we love music. Our boys’ room is music (and travel) themed and even has the quote on their wall, “Don’t bother to pack your bags, or your map, We won’t need them where we’re going, We’re going where the wind is blowing” from the band Weezer. We have been known to dabble with a few instruments, so we figured we would share the instruments that we thought were the best for travel.
The instruments I focused on were small, inexpensive, and could withstand the elements. Most are easy enough to learn the basics and you can be well on your way to playing them with just a little practice.
UKULELE. It’s small, light weight, easy to play and sounds great. Kala is one of the best uke makers on the market. For outdoor enthusiast like us, Kala makes a plastic uke (the Kala Makala Waterman). Play it while rafting, play it on the summits and play it in the rain. The sound does not compare to the wooden versions, but with a price tag of $45, I place this at the top of my list. We were able to pick up this uke at our local family owned outdoor store, Ramsey Outdoor.  It’s great that even outdoor retailers understand the joy a little music on the road can bring you.  By learning 4 different chords (Am, C, F, and G) you’ll be able to play hundreds of extremely popular songs. Oh and if all of that was not enough, they made the uke transparent.

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HARMONICA. This is much more difficult to learn to play but small enough to put in your pocket. It’s relatively rugged and doesn’t have to be tuned. Just take it out and play. They cost between $3 and $45 and you can get a quality one for around $20 so you won’t have to break the bank to try this one out. Down side to the harmonica is each one is in a different key so other people will have to play songs in the key of your harmonica.

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The ocarina is not as well know, unless you played the Legend of Zelda growing up. It also is small enough to fit in your pocket or even hang around your neck (which may result in being picked on, so, don’t say we didn’t warn you!). If you buy a clay or plastic one you don’t have to worry about the weather. Melodies are easy enough to learn and you’ll take all of your friends back to their high school years with your legend of zelda tunes. They cost between and $8 and $30.

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THE MOUTH HARP. I know what you’re thinking, what’s next? The spoons?! It’s small, inexpensive and can hold up to bad weather so here it is.  It can be found in almost every country in the world and depending on the materials it is made out of you can get some crazy sounds. You can grab one for a few dollars so you won’t really be out to much if you give it a try. A disclaimer that my wife insisted I add- your tent mate might decide to take their chance sleeping in the wilderness, far away from you, if you bring the Mouth Harp along (she is not a fan).
Last on our list is just behind the mouth harp, it’s your voice or maybe mine. Singing can be amazingly beautiful to those that are good at it but even if you’re tone deaf…who cares! Singing with friends around a fire is always a good time and if someone in the group has a mouth harp, you can all bust them even if you guys can’t hold a tune yourselves. It’s free and takes up no extra space. Chances are you were going to bring it on your trip anyway.

And if you needed a little more of us in your life, here is a little video of us using our new Kala Makala ukulele.  Keep your eyes glued to our instagram account for a ukulele giveaway curtesy of Ramsey Outdoor.

No matter what you choose to bring with you music and travel go together amazingly.

A Presidential discussion everyone can agree on: The Presidential Traverse

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Any avid hiker in the northeast knows about the Presidential Traverse.  A string of nine (or 10 if you include Jackson) summits threaded through the White Mountains of New Hampshire with water falls, glowing moss, and stunning summits, it’s no wonder this venture is on most hikers’ bucket lists. It was on mine and it only took me three attempts. Like so many others, my first two trips were canceled due to hurricane-like, 110 mph winds on Mount Washington. Little known fact: Mount Washington held the highest recorded wind gust for 62 years at 231 mph.

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Traverse Gear Check

I was looking to shed a little weight, so I packed my Deuter ACT Zero with all of the essentials. The Trail consists of 20,000 feet of elevation change over 23 miles, so I ditched the big camera bag and stuffed my point and shoot into my Deuter Zip Pack Lite. I’ve never used it for that purpose but was stoked to find out it fit perfect.

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One Day Or Two?

The Prezi can be done as a one-day sprint from dawn to dusk or as an overnighter. Wanting to spend as much time as possible in the mountains, we chose to do it over two days. We hiked it from north to south instead of the reverse. Hiking and rock scrambling 4,000 feet in the first four miles up to Mount Madison is an endeavor all in itself. The boulders we scrambled over were pitted and sharp from the intense weather, and I could only compare them to lava rock found in Hawaii. After you reach elevation, the hardest part is done and you can take in back-to-back summits miles of tremendous views.

rispoli4-1280x540This article was originally posted on the Deuter blog, check it out and give it a follow!

5 Budget Tips to stay warm on your next winter hikes!

I love researching gear almost as much as I love using it.  I truly believe that there is no one perfect piece of equipment, but with that state of mind there is always room for improvement.  The best equipment  can make your experience that much easier and more comfortable, but at a cost.  Top of the line shells, mid layers, and base layers could cost you well over $2000.00.  Some people may not have to bat an eye at that but I can’t even afford a Gore-Tex jacket right now.  People have been hiking throughout the winter long before $2000.00 outfits were ever an option.  Here are some budget tips to keep the money in your pockets and your feet outside.

 

  • Base Layer – skip the name brands.  I bought a cold weather merino wool base layer shirt for $20.00 on amazon from Sub sports.  I’ll admit it isn’t as silky smooth as the name brands but at less than half the cost you can still be warm without breaking the bank.  In my most recent snowshoe backpacking trek, the temps were low but the wind was almost nonexistent.  I snowshoed almost the entire trip with only that base layer as my only top. And yes, they sell pants too.

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  • Sleep Warm – Besides making sure your sleeping bag is the appropriate temperature rating for where you’re sleeping, boil water and slowly pour it into your water bladder (with cold water already in it).  Make sure it is good and warm and then take it into your sleeping bag with you.  It will keep your warm and your water won’t freeze overnight!

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  • Keep your socks dry – For an additional $14.00 you can get a cheap pair of gators off amazon.  Now admittedly, I have Outdoor Research Gators ($55.00).  Gators can keep the lower portion of your pants dry and keep snow out of your boots.  Being wet on your winter hike is bad news but there are ways around it.  Make a small investment and keep your legs/socks dry and warm.

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  • Outer shells – As noted above, I can’t afford Gore-Tex shells yet.  I already own a hiking rain jacket and I use it all year round.  With a proper base layer and mid layer a rain coat can keep you dry and keep the wind from sneaking in.  It is not very breathable, but I have never had a problem regulating my temperature by unzipping the jacket or its vents.  At a fraction of the cost it will do, until you can afford the best.

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  • Make warm meals – Oatmeal in the morning and your favorite freeze dried camping meals.  Oatmeal/fruit packets like Munkpack are great for hiking and it the winter and they are better warm.  Heat them up in hot water and warm up your core.  Also, the best hiking freeze dried foods must sit for almost 20 minutes before your can eat them.  Tuck them in close to your core and stay warm why you’re waiting.  I’ve been enjoying Backpacker’s Bistro.  No funny ingredients and it taste like real homemade food. Also, if you’re camping out- eat late.  Eating right before bed will also help keep your core warm when you get in your bag and will help you fall asleep more comfortably.

 

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7 Songs to inspire you to travel in 2017!

Matt (the Live and Let Wander daddy of the fam), and I have been an item since the late nineties. We met in high school and almost instantly bonded over our mutual love of sushi, 80’s movies, and punk rock. We were both musicians (he slapped the bass with friends in a garage band who covered the Foo Fighters and Blink 182, while I was a theater geek who sang everything everywhere), and our passion for music has been in the forefront of our relationship for the past 17 years.

 

We have rocked out at countless concerts together, and have jammed for endless hours together while dreaming up our next adventures (usually while also drinking beer. Beer and music always make for a good starting point for adventure planning).

 

Music moves us and inspires us, and certain songs just light that fire under us….they make us want to get out there, and see the world! Here are a few of our favorites that always give us that wandering feeling…

 

HOLIDAY- WEEZER

 

“Don’t bother to pack your bags or your map, We won’t need them where we’re goin’ We’re goin’ where the wind is blowin”  We love this quote so much we had it turned into a wall cling and it’s currently the focal point in our boys bedroom.

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SOCIETY- EDDIE VEDDER

 

When you want more than you have You think you need And when you when you think more than you want your thoughts begin to bleed, I think I need to find a bigger place ‘Cause when you have more than you think You need more space”  No song reminds us better that life is not about how many things you can acquire but how many experiences you can cram into one life. This is our pre travel song that reminds us why we spend our money on travel instead of things.

 

MOVING MOUNTAINS- THRICE

 

“I speak in many tongues of many men, Argue with angels and I always win”  The lyrics are not heavily worded around travel however this song is like much of The Alchemy Index album RAW.  It reminds of the the dirt on the trails and the weather on our faces. This is our hiking song.

 

THE WHALER- THRICE

 

“The boat and the plank, They are all that I know. The sea calls my name and so I must go”  Another song off of The Alchemy Index albums.  This is one of the water songs and you will find no better songs to ski or snowboard through fresh powder than those from the “water” and “air” album.  They capture the elements in every song.  The ebb and flow takes hold of you as you float along.

 

HOPELESS WANDERER- MUMFORD AND SONS

 

“Don’t hold a glass over the flame, Don’t let your heart grow cold, I will call you by name, I will share your road”  If the title of song doesn’t take hold of you, the song will.  With their fast paced folk Mumford rhythm, your heart will start pumping and your feet will start to travel even if your mind is not ready.

 

THE ONCE AND FUTURE CARPENTER- AVETT BROTHERS

 

“Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me, And when I lose my direction i’ll look up to the sky” This entire album is my favorite flight travel album. It puts me at ease (I am an uneasy flyer), and sets me up for whatever adventure I am about to embark on.

 

ISLAND- THE STARTING LINE

 

“Let’s sail away, Find our country, We’ll build a house and get tired of palm trees, Let’s get away, Let’s push our lives aside” I mean, don’t you ever just want to build a house on a remote island and open a juice bar? No? Just me? I think I like this one because it makes me think of the beach. And being the mountain dwellers that we are, we don’t get to the beach all that often!
We hope that 2017 brings you new adventures, countless memories made, and beautiful music!