summer afternoon

"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."  - Henry James


Make Film, Not War

This post is brought to you by the new Santa Fe from Hyundai 

I realize most of us don't have animators at our fingertips so I wanted today's post to be a resource for those of you who want to make a family film yourselves. Because thanks to technology most of us have access to the tools to make our own films. Which is pretty mind blowing I think. Welcome to the future WHERE STORYTELLING KNOWS NO BOUNDS!

Here are five resources based on recommendations from friends and/or our own experience making things.

1. xtranormal storytelling studio - Hal and I once spent an entire evening arguing with each other with xtranormal which is kind of weird but also, really helpful in turning a fight into an x-rated romantic comedy? Anyway, xtranormal is GENIUS for kids/adults of all ages who want to write for characters that are already designed and scenes that are already created. It's like choose your own adventure and you can be as G or R rated as you like. Here's a how-to that is hysterical because everything on xtranormal is hysterical by default.

"This is where you can do things like..." "Air quotes."

This one's pretty solid: 

(I could post these all day. Moving on...)

2. Stop Motion Studio App- Designed for iPhone and iPad, this app seems to be the most popular stop motion app for, well, iPhone and iPad. It's .99. Here's a how-to video a high school teacher made that is awesome.

This is for those of you who want to make movies longer than 6 seconds (vine) or 15 seconds (instagram). It also allows for easy VO which rocks.

3. Toon Boom - This animation software is popular with kids and adults, novices and professionals, students and teachers. But mostly adults and professionals. (I have friends whose older kids use this software but it seems a bit advanced for little kids/parents who are easily overwhelmed by things.) I watched half of this video before closing my computer and running into a wall. And now I'm just sitting here crying and typing because why is everything so complicated I am old.

4. Animation Desk - There's an Animation Desk for iPhone and iPad and both are highly regarded/reviewed. There's also Animation Desk for kids Ages 4+.


You can read more about Animation Desk for Kids here.

5. Animation Studio - This app for iPad is definitely for parents AND children to do together because much like with Toon Boom there's a lot going on. However, it's affordable and everyone seems to really like it. Here's a how-to video to see if it's the right app for you.

If anyone out there has recommendations, feel free to share them. I just downloaded the stop motion studio app for Archer and will let you guys know how he does with it. (He's been using my old canon digital elph to take his photos/make his movies, for those who asked in the previous posts.) 


P.S. Thanks for all your comments on The Grocery Store. Archer and Fable were blown away by your words (and the pictures you sent of your kids watching! So incredibly cool.) and now they're all excited to make more movies which is really all I could ever ask for in life. HOORAY FOR CREATING THINGS THAT MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH! You guys are the best ever. Love and happy weekend to all. x!


The Grocery Store

This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai
And now, without further ado...

(in my deepest voice with a very posh British accent)


Hope you enjoyed! Also, Archer and Fable wanted everyone to know that "this is really more for your kids probably." (I think it's pretty awesome for everyone but I'm biased.) 



once upon a time we made a movie...

This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai
IMG_4390 Fable & Archer, claymation edition(s)

Back in December, I got the idea to make a movie. A short (very short) movie, but a movie nonetheless. I got this idea because Archer is fascinated by watching stop motion animation and has spent much of the last year watching Tomica stop motion videos on youtube for inspiration before building his own worlds, creating his own stories... I've watched his stories become more nuanced, his camera angles more advanced, his pictures more in focus and he's done it all on his own.

So when FM approached me with Hyundai's Epic Playdate campaign and asked if there was something epic-playdatesque I wanted to pursue with my family, I presented my idea.

Six months and countless hours (not to mention two VERY generous and talented animators) later, we have a film. Or rather, Archer and Fable have a film on a DVD that they helped create.

Here's what our process these last six months has looked like. 
IMG_6892 writing/collaborating
IMG_6891 (spoiler alert: there is humor.)
IMG_2705 memorizing lines (after I typed their story into a script)
IMG_2692 recording VO with Hal  
IMG_2791 listening to the playback
IMG_3321 recording (more) VO
meeting their figurine selves
IMG_4152 IMG_4157 learning how to animate with their figurine selves...
IMG_4117 ... on a professional set: 
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I was prepared for awesome, of course, because children are the coolest people that exist and their imaginations hold alllllll the secrets of the universe, and animators Brad and Ashley are TOTAL rockstars at their craft. However. I was not prepared for this to be a game changing endeavor. Because it truly was. For me and for them and for all of us, who came together and worked together and made something so totally amazing... together.

I was actually kind of worried that we weren't going to pull off this massive project or that the kids would lose interest... but everyone was 100% in. Especially Archer and Fable, storytellers extraordinaire:
IMG_4112 watching their completed film for the first time
This project was a true labor of love. An epic labor of love that would not have been possible without new friends and old friends and the skies-not-even-the-limit-because-there-is-no-limit ideas of Archer and Fable who wrote such a perfectly simple and totally right on story that I will forever be in awe of.  

A huge thanks to the extremely talented and wonderfully kind Ashley Arechiga and Bradley Schaffer for appearing in this video with us and David Crowther and Casey Peterson for being effortless to work with. 


Tomorrow I'll be posting our short film titled, "The Grocery Store" and on Friday I'll provide a list of resources for those of you looking to animate short (or long!) films with your kids at home. This was so much fun for us, you guys. Thanks for letting us share.



"Rainbow power to the rescue!"

Fable always nails it. 


With love and equal rights for all. #loveislove


eat well: fiddlehead ferns and a cure for burns

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!


Our time together at The Cape was like a dream in so many ways, but Rebecca has already written about that. There is something very special about all being together away from home. Roles change.  Everyone is an equal.  Everyone chips in...
...Unexpected treasures are discovered. 
IMG_0943 Moon snail
One of those for me was cooking together in the spacious kitchen.  We ate like kings but didn’t spend hours at it, and it was a true vacation for me not to be in charge of the nightly meals thanks to David, who took over most of the cooking duties and planning (AND, David and Hal did most of the shopping!)
Fiddle ferns and arugula pesto pasta!
I think the trick to cooking away from home is making “easy gourmet” meals. Pizza and macaroni every night would be boring and not very special, and eating out is expensive and not that fun with babies, but also one doesn’t want to spend all one’s vacation over the stove.  We had brought some stuff from David’s house, especially since we have our gluten and vegetarian members of the family, but as soon as we got to The Cape, David, Alyssa, and Hal went shopping and did a really good job stocking up with enough stuff to get us started.
Also, I think it’s fun to take advantage of special local foods. David and Alyssa found fiddlehead ferns at the local market. Where have you been all my life, fiddleheads?  We don’t get them in our neck of the woods so this was a HUGE treat for us. They cooked us a scrumptious gluten free pasta with arugula pesto, fiddlehead ferns, and pea tendrils for dinner our first night. Here we were, in the most heavenly place imaginable, and eating this amazing meal which, literally, took 30 minutes to make (Alyssa had made the pesto at home and brought it with us which saved time).  Fiddlehead ferns are delicious and a culinary treat, and although this sounds like an unbelievably gourmet meal (which it was), it also was quick and easy. 

Rachel masterminded a vegetable curry using packets she had bought at Jungle Jims in Cincinnati.  Using these as a base, we worked together to create an easy and delicious curry with enough left over for a rice curry salad the next day.

Another night, David and I made soft tacos with homemade refried beans (which also made great lunch leftovers).  For the fish eaters, there was local fresh (and sustainable) fish from the fishmonger to go in them.

Our final meal was a frittata using up all the odds and ends in the refrigerator. At one point, four of us were chopping away in the kitchen and I was in heaven.  This is such a great throw-together meal and perfect with a salad for dinner.

I made the refried beans on taco night, but somehow my brain was on vacation because I forgot how allergic I am to pepper oil.  Having no gloves, I roasted and peeled the poblanos with my bare hands, and by bedtime, my fingers were on fire. I lay in bed wondering how I would ever go to sleep, my hands throbbing in pain, so I tiptoed downstairs to one of the kids’ computers to see if I could find a solution.  This had happened to me several times before (you would think I would have learned by now) and I’d tried various remedies:  yogurt, milk, aloe, butter, to no avail. So when I, again, saw all of these same remedies suggested on websites, I kept looking further.  Finally I found a blog touting mustard as the only cure.  MUSTARD?  Luckily we have several mustard freaks in the family so there just happened to be a jar of Gray Poupon in the fridge and I generously lathered it all over my hands.  This is about the time that Rebecca came downstairs to see who was making all the racket in the kitchen at midnight. 

“What are you doing, Mom,” she asked, looking at me strangely as I held up my yellow hands.  
“I know it sounds odd but…” 

By this time the pain was already subsiding and 5 minutes later, believe it or not, all the pain was gone.  COMPLETELY!!!!  We laughed as I washed off the mustard and we both went off to bed.  The next day I told my miraculous story to everyone.

“But MOM,”  Rachel implored, “Don’t you remember?  I told you about that a year ago.  Mustard is a miracle cure for ALL burns.”  (Another confirmation that my brain was on a holiday.) 

I guess she had been cooking with a friend, had burned her arm, and he had rubbed mustard all over it.  No blister, no redness, no pain.  I have since tried to find out a scientific reason for mustard curing burns, but can’t find it (although there are lots of sites supporting its abilities). I do know that people have been using mustard for healing purposes for centuries and that the oil in peppers, capsaicin oil, is soluble in fat but also needs to be neutralized with an acid, so perhaps it is the combination of fat and vinegar with mustard seeds’ natural healing qualities make it a perfect burn remedy.  Anyway, for those of you who aren’t big mustard fans, buy it anyway and keep it in the refrigerator as a burn remedy. Any type of mustard works.

Here is the recipe for David and Alyssa’s fabulous pasta.  For those of you who don’t live in a place where you can buy fiddleheads, substitute asparagus chopped into 1-inch pieces.


Pasta With Pea Tendrils and Fiddlehead Ferns

1-2 cups arugula pesto (or pesto of your choice)
1 lb fiddlehead ferns (or 1 lb coarsely chopped asparagus)
1 bunch pea tendrils
1 package pasta (fusilli, penne, or other medium sized pasta)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Toasted walnuts (optional)

Make pesto, using arugula as your greens. Rinse fiddleheads well. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Drop fiddlehead ferns in boiling water and blanche for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
Take out of water with slotted spoon and blanche pea tendrils for a minute or so, or until tender. Remove from water. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. (Or use separate pot for pasta.) Toss with pesto, pea tendrils, and fiddlehead ferns.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts. Enjoy!
…and may you never have burn pain again!!


Places to See: Annenberg Beach House

This is a sponsored post by Blue Diamond Almonds. Get your summer going with Blue Diamond Almonds!
I grew up with friends who had pools. Such is growing up in suburban San Diego. Everyone had a pool. And if they didn't have a pool, their neighborhood, apartment complex and/or next door neighbor had a pool, so, naturally, I spent a lot of time in pools. So much so that my hair was green.


I had naturally blonde hair with unnaturally green tips and prunes for fingers all summer long 24/7.

That was, until I turned eighteen and moved out on my own and into an apartment without a pool. Fourteen years and no pools anywhere I've ever lived later, my hair is no longer green/blonde and none of our friends/neighbors have pools  Therefor/henceforth, besides the pool at the kids' weekly swim lesson, we don't pool it up very often/ever here in LA.

Until (dunt dunt DUUUUUNT) now...
We took a last minute sojourn to The Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica with some friends for Father's Day.

Which we didn't even know existed.

Which is embarrassing. But also kind of awesome. I mean, I've lived in Los Angeles for fourteen years and this city still surprises me constantly. (We recently spent the day at The Getty Villa for the first time as well and I have YET to spend time at any of Malibu's beaches. Ever.)

ED: For those of you in LA (or looking to visit at some point) here is some Annenberg Beach House backstory. Very glam, indeed.

Memberships shemenberships.

We were supposed to meet our friends at 11 to get tickets to the pool ($10 for adults, $4 for kids) so naturally we arrived at 3:30. Which was fine because three hours is kind of our magic timeframe for doing family things. Also, we didn't have to bring lunch. Which is a lot easier now that Bo and Revi are  eating full on three course lunches complete with cutlery.
As per usual, we divided and conquered. Hal took the big kids to the pool to swim and I chased Bo around while holding Revi on my shoulders. (I've been meaning to write a post about Revi's epic clinginess which went away and then came back with such a vengeance I had to call our doctor because I was afraid something was seriously wrong. I've been writing outside of the house because I literally cannot do anything anymore without Revi screaming to be held. And by screaming I mean FULL PANIC mode. It's intense. Bo was this way when she was an infant and that was hard, too, but Revi's attachment has thrown me into a bit of a depression. More for another post but oh man, it's been a tough ride.)
Anyway. There's a reason Revi is in very few photos. It's because 98% of the time she's in my arms/on my back/in my lap.
Bo on the other hand is everyone's best friend and spent most of the late afternoon playing hide and seek with strangers and having full on conversations with every single person, regardless of age, while Revi sat perched on my shoulders pulling my hair.
photo (1)
"Hi. I'm Bo!"
"Hi! I'm Bo!"
photo-15 "I'm Bo. Let's hold hands."
photo-14 "Thanks."


All in all, a primo Father's Day. Archer and Fable spent most of the afternoon in the pool and we spent the whole drive home asking ourselves why we didn't look into public pool options earlier.
photo-4 photo-8
We're off to San Diego in a few days but when we return, public pools will absolutely become part of our summer jam. Especially public pools on the beach. Nothing can top that action...


For more on The Annenberg Community Beach House/to make a cannopy reservation (it's $30 for three hours and perfect for three families, which is what we were) go here

Blue Diamond Logo - 125px


Liner Notes: summer's here edition

I just dropped the big kids off at camp - it's their second week (well, half week) and they love it and they get to be there together which is just nuts. Fable is old now. She's ancient. She's so old that last week when I picked her up she was hanging out with sixth graders and I had to be like, "do those girls know you're four?"

I was actually worried about Fable going to camp with so many older kids and was shocked to learn that girlfriend is FINE. She is so fine that she didn't even care when a group of kids laughed at her hairclips. Which happened on day one and I was there to witness the whole thing and I drove home in tears thinking I made the wrong decision to send her into the lion's den and then when I went to pick the kids up...

She was fine. She was more than fine. She was so fine she had even more hairclips in her hair at pick-up than she did at drop-off because SHE MADE NEW ONES AT CAMP.
I should have known, of course. But it's hard when you remember camp as this scary thing you hated. It's hard not to project that, you know? I was so petrified of older kids. PETRIFIED. If someone would have made fun of my hair on my first day of camp I would have cried, written a poem about it in a bathroom and then called my mom to pick me up.

(I'm pretty sure I did that several times, actually.)

Not Fable.

Who loves camp.

Both kids love camp. What a relief.
IMG_8276 IMG_6136 IMG_8708 IMG_9467
IMG_6107 IMG_6152
The kids have to go back to school in early August so this "summer" of ours is extremely short so we're going to make the best of EVERY SINGLE DAY AND IT'S GOING TO BE THE BEST EVER!
IMG_4381 IMG_8689 IMG_9155 IMG_6236
Meanwhile the kids are like, "Mooooohom" and they're rolling their eyes and all they want to do is watch movies and sprawl all over the couch when they get home from camp and I'm all, "but it's so beautiful outside! The birds are chirping and the sun is shining and there's a supermoon, you guys. A supermoon! Why don't we go for a nature walk instead!" and then I realize I'm my mother.
I took the big kids to see Despicable Me 2 on Saturday and we were all super crazy excited and in the beginning we were like THIS IS AWESOME. THIS IS HYSTERICAL. Fable was actually laughing so hard the row in front of us turned around because she was too loud?

And then... the movie took this turn for the WTF and Archer and Fable both turned to me and were like, "I don't like this movie." So, because I just wrote about "what films are appropriate for some families aren't appropriate for others" last week I wanted to give you guys with sensitive kids a heads up that Despicable Me 2 is no Despicable Me (which we/my kids loved) and we were hugely disappointed and a little bit pissed off by the sequel which was weak in story/moral and had some super scary/upsetting parts that may not be suitable for (sensitive) children.

In Archer's words, "I liked Ferris Bueller's Day off way better and I never want to see this movie again." So there you have it. Your kids may love this movie and think it's the greatest film ever made (the reviewers certainly thought so) but my kids were less than stoked.


I joined Pinterest over the weekend. I couldn't fight it any longer so I joined. I did the same thing with Vine a few weeks ago and then Instagram started doing video and now I'm just confused. Anyway, I'm going to start making certain images pinnable so bear with me while I go through old posts and try to make it easier for everyone. (Now that I understand how Pinterest works I see what you see when you try to pin something from my site and I want to apologize because wtf terrible Momversation-still o'clock.) Anyway. I'm working on joining the times and being less of a foot stomper because Pinterest is actually kind of fun. (Thanks to my friend, Dani for sitting with me and showing me how to do all of the things Friday afternoon. And to Hal for hours of theme song serenades as I got completely sucked in to Pinland.)

My page is here for those interested. It's obviously a work in progress don't laugh.


Anyway, summer. Summer makes me think of tan lines and bonfire-scented hair and grass rash and men playing guitarmonica by the water's edge in panama hats. Seriously though, This is awesome: 

Sing it, sir.


What about you guys? Big summer plans? Do you do summer camp? Day camp? How do you keep your kids occupied in the summer? Any go-to resources or websites you'd like to share?