Podcast 020: Summer Family Time – RVing for Newbies with Mom and Journalist Heather Kempskie


Today’s episode is special, not just because it’s the last in our Summer Camp series but because it’s more than just a single interview; it’s an ode to summer, told in parts. On recent camping trip I took my fun little recorder, the Zoom H5, and today I’m bringing you some of my favorite stories and sounds from that trip. Amazing producer (and 18 time winner of the Husband of the Year award) Benjamin Kolp has woven together these, plus my two-part interview with mom and journalist Heather Kempskie, making for a Summer Camp wrap-up that you will love! So before we jump back into fall, grab yourself one final summertime adult beverage, curl up in your favorite camp chair, and enjoy!

A favorite thing I got to do this summer: take a ride on a sailboat out of Newport, Rhode Island! The sun was just setting as I took this picture while we docked at the end of the trip.
A favorite thing I got to do this summer: take a ride on a sailboat out of Newport, Rhode Island! The sun was just setting as I took this picture while we docked at the end of the trip.

 

In addition to her day job as the Multimedia Editor of baystateparent.com, today’s guest has always been a real adventurer in terms of her vacations – in 2014, her family swapped houses with a Danish family for a month! – but their plans for this summer were daring in a different way: she and her family spent two weeks traveling together in a motorhome RV.

In this unusual episode, we spend the first part talking with Heather Kempskie about plans for the RV trip with her family… And then after the trip is over we have a postmortem right here on the show!

Listen for:

  • Heather’s enthusiasm for the upcoming trip, in which the family travels from the Boston area and down along the East Coast, heading inland to the Appalachian Mountains before returning home
  • what she is concerned about (for example, how do you have any alone time in an RV with three other people?), and how she handles those concerns
  • her favorite vacation so far – it was that one to Denmark – and how this one stacks up against that one
  • what the trip was actually like versus her expectations of the trip

If you take one thing away from this episode, I hope it is this: being open to seemingly crazy ideas can make your life much more fun!

A doggie note about this episode: when we recorded part one, we had our beautiful little Shi-Tzu-poodle mixes for less than 48 hours; by the time we got together to record the second part of Heather’s interview, care of the dogs had become too much for me. I had a relapse of the condition I’ve been living with for four years, called tendinosis, and we had given the dogs up and I was back to 30% use of my arms. You can hear the whole story in Episode 17, where I share four ways to help your young children cope with challenging situations.

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Podcast 019: Raising Successful, Happy Daughters with Ashley Milne-Tyte of The Broad Experience

Welcome to another great Summer Camp episode! Today’s is more of an evergreen topic, because we care about the successes of our children in all seasons. It’s true that this interview is not solely about summer; but as we head back into the school year, it’s also a good time to think about how to help our kids in life. And maybe, not even just our kids – but us! I’m looking forward to sharing this great show with you, you’re going to love today’s guest.

Do you go through a daily struggle to balance your work time with your family time? Have you ever wondered if your gender plays a part in how successful you are at work, how much money you earn, whether you get a big promotion – or watch it go to someone else? Today’s guest and I talk about all things women and workplace, the subject of her very successful podcast with a great name: The Broad Experience.

Ashley Milne-Tyte grew up in London, riding public buses and then the London Tube, both by herself, to school. She spent her summers in rural Pennsylvania enjoying the kind of independence that kids used to take for granted, riding bikes or exploring the woods with friends and really only being required to “be back home for meals.” Our conversation starts with differences between childhood then and now, and progresses to where her expertise helps you – and your kids – enjoy successes both in work and life.

Listen for:

  • how the myth that “having babies” is the only thing that holds women back in the workplace is completely wrong; women have difficulty climbing as high in the corporate world as men for lots of reasons, and knowing these reasons can help women be more successful
  • what can be learned from two of my favorite books – and two books on my Fabulous Five list of books that help us be better parents – Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, and Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
  • a great piece of advice for anyone of any gender: develop the ability to advocate for yourself; to help with this Ashley recommends the book, Ask for it: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get what They Really Want, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, which is winging its way to me from the library as I write 🙂

Ashley Milne-Tyte’s expertise lies in storytelling, and in today’s episode we really get a sense of that, as she shares stories from her own childhood, work experiences and setbacks. You’ll finish the episode with a huge smile on your face, both because you’ll have a better sense of how to be successful yourself and how to help your children be successful in the workplace when they are all grown up. You’ll also have a huge smile on your face because you’ve got so many Broad Experience episodes to listen to in your future!

Podcast 018: Build Community Outdoors with Landscape Architect and Mom, Jill Brown of mylandscapecoach.com

I’m so excited about this episode, part of our Summer Camp series in which we are setting aside our usual four themes (3R’s, Unplanned Adventures, Kids through the Ages, and Risky Business), pouring a nice tall glass of iced tea – or Long Island Ice Tea, depending on your age and what time of day it is – and going on vacation! We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in September, but for now… Let’s just enjoy summer!


Today’s guest spends her work days helping her clients love their outdoor spaces – and then along with her husband and their three young children, she spends her free time loving and improving their own outdoor space. Jill Brown of mylandscapecoach.com really practices what she preaches, cultivating not just plants but community in all areas of her life.

In the podcast, Jill shares about some really exciting projects she’s worked on! Click here to find out about the little libraries, and here to read about the poetry poles – a post amusingly called There Once Was A Man from Nantucket LOL.

And she has some great tips for us to do exactly the same! Listen for:

  • the value of hanging out, not in your backyard, but in your front yard – this is where friendships are made, trust and community are built, and fun is had
  • three fabulous ways to interact with your neighbors: putting a Little Library into your neighborhood, basically a small waterproof hut in which people leave books that they’re done with, or take books they’re interested in; putting in a Magazine Box similar to the Little Library; and using a utility pole as a Poetry Pole, a place for neighborhood poets of all ages to have their stuff exhibited
  • fun and inexpensive yard play equipment that you can build, like a simple disc swing or a fence made of electrical conduit

Jill’s blog at mylandscapecoach.com has examples and ideas for customizing these concepts for your own yard, plus it’s just a fun place to look for inspiration! I know you’re going to love our conversation today because Jill has many great ideas that you can use immediately to enjoy life more outside with your young children.

If you love something that we talked about in this episode, and went out and built something based on it, please let us know! Email me at Karen@weturnedoutokay.com, or just go to the contact page, weturnedoutokay.com/contact, and drop me a line. I’m going to be shouting about my favorites on the show, I hope yours is one of them 🙂

Great Summer Memories!

Us three in front of the trailer

When I was a kid, we used to have a camper, a 28-foot Coachmen Bunkhouse. Every August, we would take three weeks and go on vacation to the Lake George RV Park. Can you imagine? A three-week vacation. While we were there I remember:

  • that the blackberries were always in season, and my brothers and I would get ourselves hopelessly entangled in this huge thicket of blackberries at least once every year, while bringing back bowls full of blackberries to munch on
  • lots of great Dad memories: playing tennis with him and going on hikes together, watching him play Space Invaders at the campground arcade, singing around the campfire every night as he played the guitar
  • lots of great Mom memories: leaving the campground just her and me to go on shopping excursions and talking girl stuff, picking blackberries together, eating soft serve ice cream at the campground arcade, loving her amazing voice and harmonizing capability while singing around the campfire every night
  • we got the best dog ever, Kaida the Samoyed, while on vacation there one year… He was a total impulse buy at a local mall!
  • we used to have a great big station wagon (necessary for pulling the big camper) with back windows that rolled all the way down; when we got the RV park every year, my folks would let my brother and I straddle the back doors, each of us with one leg in the car and one leg hanging out, pretending we were riding horses… it was awesome! Can you imagine parents letting their kids do that today?
  • I had my first kiss at the Lake George RV Park, when I was 13 :-)… and then, when the kisser invited me back to his trailer for lunch, I remember that his mom made tuna fish sandwiches, which I totally hate tuna! But I ate it that day, with a smile on my face. The things we do for love.
  • our youngest brother said his first word, “hot,” while we were all together eating pizza in Lake George the summer he turned one… I love that we were all together for his first word

I could go on – about the huge big bonfires the campground had every night, about the friends we made and saw each year, about playing softball at the campground, about the feel of the wind on my face in the evening walking around … but I won’t.

Instead, I want to hear about your summer memories!

What adventures did you have? What disasters befell you, and what did you learn from them? What friends did you make, and do you still see them?

Also, how are you vacationing now? How do you give your children the kind of summer memories you hope they’ll look back on happily all of their lives?

I can’t wait to hear your stories 🙂

Summer, Time To Unplug

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Here’s what my 10-year-old did with our dining room table one recent morning: he built a battlefield for his Star Wars figures. I love that it’s built out of books and Lego…

And check out that book in the middle! It’s called Unplug and Play, and I highly recommend it for the games and silliness inside (in addition to its usefulness as part of a Star Wars set 🙂

How are you unplugging and playing with your kids this summer? Leave a note in the comments – it’s still July, we are all going to need inspiration from each other about how to keep everyone happy as August rolls around. You’ll be helping all of us with your ideas!

Podcast 016: Overcoming Obstacles with Voiceover Artist Anna Vocino

I’m so excited about this episode, part of our Summer Camp series in which we are setting aside our usual four themes (3R’s, Unplanned Adventures, Kids through the Ages, and Risky Business), pouring a nice tall glass of iced tea – or Long Island Ice Tea, depending on your age and what time of day it is – and going on vacation! We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in September, but for now… Let’s just enjoy summer!

Though you may not know it, you have heard the voice of today’s guest. Anna Vocino can be heard on networks like CBS and Fox Sports, in commercial campaigns for Canada dry, Disney Princess bikes, on The Young and The Restless and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and in many other places… but my favorite place to hear her voice is at the beginning and ending of my very own podcast!

Also an accomplished comedic actor, Anna was a series regular on Free Radio on Comedy Central and performs sketch and improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and at FunnyorDie.com. In today’s show, we learn that, along with a group that includes her now-husband, Anna started a theater company in Atlanta, Georgia which is still going strong 18 years later.

In addition to all of the above, my guest today has celiac disease, and as a result has relearned how to feed herself and her family, created GlutenFreeAnna.com to share her learning, and has a cookbook coming out soon.

Listen for:

  • her inspiring perseverance through the many obstacles that have been tossed in her path; from the “surprise” pregnancy and birth of their daughter while starting the theater company all those years ago, to cultivating the super thick skin required to make it in Hollywood and right on up to how Anna dealt with the autoimmune disease known as celiac, she has cheerfully taken on every unplanned adventure – and won
  • great summer memories (this show airs during We Turned Out Okay’s visit to Summer Camp, when we set aside our usual themes and just enjoy summertime) that Anna has, from going to Methodist Camp as the daughter of a minister, to attending a really great arts summer camp in Michigan with a delicious mystery dessert that she remembers well, even if she can’t recall exactly what it is now 🙂
  • the importance of a strong family bond, both in the family she was raised in and the one she is building with her husband and daughter, in Anna’s life; while she never comes out and says “family is and always has been super important to me,” this love comes through in every memory she shares, every situation she describes

If you take one idea away from today’s show, I hope it is this: autoimmune diseases come in many varieties, and if you or someone you love has peculiar symptoms that are painful and debilitating, yet no one can place, the problem might be autoimmune based, or possibly food -related. But as Anna Vocino shares with us, these problems do not have to be the end of your world; instead, they could be the beginning of a new and better existence!

Podcast 015: Top 11 Ways to Tire Out Your Kids

Podcast 015: Top 11 Ways to Tire Out Your Kids

For This Summer Camp episode of We Turned Out Okay, I asked you about your favorite ways to tire out your kids… And you sure responded! Special thanks to Doug Gray, Aisha Newton, Nancy Marsh, Miriam Ortiz y Pino, De Osborne, Shannon Criscola, Amy Blake, Erica Chick, John Winchenbach, my own Jason Kolp, and Deb Petrella for coming up with our most popular ways to tire out your kids.

Here they are!

  • Number 11: Go take a hike
  • Number 10: Dance Party!
  • Number 9: Have a field day
  • Number 8: Flashlight tag
  • Number 7: Indoor and rainy day games
  • Number 6: Ride bikes
  • Number 5: Noncompetitive games
  • Number 4: Obstacle course
  • Number 3: Wacky golf
  • Number 2: Nerf wars
  • (drumroll please…) Number 1: Swimming

Did we miss any of your favorites? Tell me about it! Tweet me@StoneAgeTechie or post to twitter at #oldschoolsummervaca, shout about it in the We Turned Out Okay group on Facebook, or just get in touch with good old-fashioned email to Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com.

Podcast 014: How to Take Great IPhone Pictures with Andre Nguyen of iPhoneographyinsiders.com

I’m so excited about this episode, part of our Summer Camp series in which we are setting aside our usual four themes (3R’s, Unplanned Adventures, Kids through the Ages, and Risky Business), pouring a nice tall glass of iced tea – or Long Island Ice Tea, depending on your age and what time of day it is – and going on vacation! We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in September, but for now… Let’s just enjoy summer!

Great news! During our interview today iPhoneography teacher Andre Ngyen offers you a week’s free coaching by email! You can find out how to get this bonus by listening to the episode. Speaking as a student of his I know you’re not going to want to miss out; his great ideas will help you take fantastic family vacation pictures!

If you want to see the pictures I took with Andre’s guidance, click here – that will take you to last week’s blog post in which I previewed the pictures we talk about in today’s episode. Enjoy!

If you have any desire at all to capture great summer memories, great photographs of your kids and family – and pets – using just your iPhone, then you are going to love today’s guest. Andre Nguyen of iPhoneographyinsiders.com is first and foremost a talented photographer, but most importantly he really wants to help the rest of us take great pictures.

Today’s conversation includes lots of fun stuff: summer memories, dog stories, my excitement about sharing when I got to go see this amazing art installation in Boston on the Rose Kennedy Greenway… and because Andre gave us so many tips and apps, I’m going to list them here:

  • the first, easy and fun, is to simply tap the light source on your phone to completely change the amount of light in the picture; in other words, if you want a picture of your husband kissing the top of your baby’s head with his son in the background, tap the sun – you’ll end up with a silhouette picture! Really, really cool
  • next, be playful – take a variety of pictures of the same scene, in which you have tapped different places on the screen (which left in different amounts of light), try different poses, see if you can capture your kids jumping in the picture, use your imagination
  • when indoors, capturing enough light can be tough for the iPhone which results in grainy photographs where you literally see many pixels; Andre recommends using a strong light source and once again tapping on that light source on the iPhone screen
  • a great app: photographer’s ephemerist, which tells you the angle of the sun, and exactly where it will be setting in the sky, on any given day; Andre uses this to plan his sunset photography, knowing exactly where and when the sun will be passing specific buildings, and then he can pull out his iPhone and play
  • another great app, Slow Shutter Cam,which allows you to let more light in and thus get cool blurry effects – if you take Andre’s suggestion of doing a selfie on a merry-go-round with your children, please send it along! This sounds like the coolest idea in the world, my boys are too old for merry-go-rounds, I gotta see this in action 🙂
  • Andre’s favorite website for getting prints of his photos is called artifactuprising.com, where he’s gotten beautiful print of his pictures at decent prices
  • on instagram, Andre goes by@AndreHarrison, and I just know you’re going to want to head over to instagram and check out his artwork, which is amazing! You can also find it at his two websites: techminimalist.com and iPhoneographyinsiders.com

Once you start taking amazing pictures using Andre’s tips, please email me some pictures! You can do that by going to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, or just emailing Karen@weturnedoutokay.com. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Picture Preview!

Welcome to We Turned Out Okay: Summer Camp Edition! All summer, I am highlighting not just my favorite things about summer, but yours! Every podcast and blog post during July and August 2015 shares our favorite summer activities, memories, and pastimes. If you have a summer favorite to share, well, that’s easy! Shout about it here in the comments, Tweet me@StoneAgeTechie , email me at Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com, or go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact. I’ll be bringing my favorites into the podcast, so you might just hear about yourself on the show!

My interview with Andre Nguyen of iPhoneographyinsiders.com drops into your phone – if you’re subscribed to the We Turned Out Okay podcast in iTunes or stitcher, that is – this coming Tuesday. Andre shares some really great ideas and apps for taking amazing pictures with just your iPhone, and before our interview he gave me some great advice for taking pictures of this amazing thing, the net on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. With his advice, I really took some fabulous pictures… Here are two of my favorites!

IMG_1037 Isn’t it amazing?

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For people who just need to be under the net checking it out, the city provides Adirondack chairs! I sat under the net for an hour, with my toes in the grass, on a beautiful summer evening. And then I left to catch my train home – and came upon this group of buildings:

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The difference between these two pictures was just a simple piece of advice given to me by Andre!

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Same buildings, sunlight coming from the same spot, one was taken an instant after the other… Andre’s tip was to tap on the iPhone at the light source. That is the only change! For more awesome advice, listen to Tuesday’s We Turned Out Okay podcast, when he talks not just about landscapes and sunsets but great family pictures too!

Podcast 013: Kicking Off Summer Camp with Awesome Books!

 

Welcome to the first episode of Summer Camp at We Turned Out Okay! For the summer months of July and August, we are setting aside our usual four themes (Risky Business, 3R’s, Kids Through the Ages, and Unplanned Adventures) and kicking back. We are recognizing that in summer, time moves somewhat differently, and we can set aside our usual schedules at least a little bit – so pour yourself a frosty drink and stick your toes in the virtual sand as you press play.

In this episode I share about four fantastic books that should be on your summer reading list:

  • The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing; I kick off the episode reading this book, an obvious and wonderful play on The Night Before Christmas, a picture book that we read at the beginning of every summer, even now that the boys are 14 and 10, because it is just that awesome
  • How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell; a great book involving a bet about eating live worms, the fallout from that, and the summer in which it all takes place
  • Time Sweep by Valerie Weldrick, in which a modern Australian boy discovers a way to travel through time and space, befriending a young London street sweeper living in the late 1800s; I read and loved this book as a young girl and it just evokes summertime for me
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling; I love rereading the Harry Potter books in summer, and every time I do something new comes up for me… This reread has me thinking of the big ideas that literature can bring up for us, and there’s a special kind of magic when you combine big ideas and summertime

If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: as parents, it’s our responsibility to instill a love of reading in our children. Reading is how humans make sense of the world, and there are lots of other platitudes to be said about it – but it’s summer click publish, and platitudes are out! Reading, however, is still in, because not only is it our responsibility – it’s fun!