A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Becoming a parent means parting with all kinds of luxuries. Gone are nights of uninterrupted sleep and afternoons spent devouring a novel. But being a parent doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to adventure.


We caught up with three families who refused to abandon adventure once they welcomed children. Professional musicians Enion Pelta-Tiller and her husband David Tiller employed creativity and a road nanny to bring their son on tour before he’d even cut a tooth. The Nolan family described the sense of liberation they’ve experienced since embarking on a full-time RV journey. Karon and Rob Dickinson spend much of their time at desks as a marketing consultant and a software developer, but for their summer vacation, they took their three kids into the Colorado backcountry.

Though these families approach their adventures differently, they all possess creativity, a strong sense of personal values, and a passion for exploration.

Tap an icon to jump to a family’s story (or just keep scrolling)

Backpacking
 Van Life
In The Band

An extreme summer vacation

This fall, the Dickinson kids returned to school with a unique answer to the question, “What did you do this summer?” Karon and Rob Dickinson took their 13-year-old daughter and six-year-old twins on a backpacking trip in Colorado’s wilderness. While it might sound insanely adventurous to most, it was the most natural thing in the world for a couple who met through the Colorado Mountain Club and had been taking their kids camping since their eldest was four months old.

Parent Co: What inspired you to take your kids backpacking?

Karon Dickinson: We wanted to teach them the skills we had learned [from outdoor adventures] – resilience, responsibility, preparation and planning skills, trust, and emotional maturity.

PC: What were the most challenging parts of the trip?

KD: We carried two tents, five sleeping bags, five pads, cooking gear, extra clothes, and of course food for five, which meant my husband and I ended up with a lot of extra weight. Our six-year-old son cried for the first half hour until he got used to his pack. It rained for hours, and the trail ended up being three miles longer than the guidebook “suggested.”

Parent Co. partnered with Ems for Kids because they believe kids are the best partners in adventure.

PC: What were the best parts of the trip?

KD: Watching my 13-year-old carry more weight than me and entertain the twins on the long trek down. Getting back to the car, all three kids started yelling, “We did it!” and “Family hug!” We shed our heavy backpacks and hugged in the parking lot. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

PC: What do you think your kids got out of this experience?

KD: I think my twins grew closer to their sister, and she was more patient with them.

PC: What advice would you give other parents contemplating a similar trip?

KD: The lag time for medical emergency evacuation is formidable as there is no 911 in the backcountry. I highly recommend outdoor education classes. Also, give yourself plenty of time to prep. I spent at least 40 hours planning, shopping, preparing food, and packing for the trip.

Embracing #vanlife

Sarah and Ryan Nolan ditched most of their possessions and took what matters most – their sons, Kevin, age five, and River, age seven, plus their shared passion for adventure – on the road. As homeowners with stable jobs, Sarah and Ryan thought they were living the dream until they realized, “we were bored and felt our spirits squashed with the minutia of corporate life,” says Sarah.

Currently, the Nolans and their Airstream are in New Hampshire. As temps drop in New England, they’ll head south to Key Largo to help with hurricane relief. Stops in 2018 include San Diego, Arizona, Texas, the Pacific Northwest, and Colorado. This winter, they’ll leave their RV to fly to Hawaii where Sarah will lead a retreat. The Nolans have no plans to end their RV journey for the foreseeable future.

Parent Co: What has been the best part of your journey so far?

Sarah Nolan: Our family coming together around a common purpose. Also, the energy at the campgrounds has been great. Families in the full-time RV community have created a culture of following their dreams and living off the beaten path.

PC: What are your kids are taking from this experience?

SN: They’re learning how to make friends wherever they go and how to function as part of a family team. They also benefit from constant outdoor time and increased independence. They get to grow up with the belief that they can do anything. They’re making plans to start their own businesses, which will be part of their homeschool curriculum.

PC: How has this experience has enriched your life?

SN: I love the simplicity. We have very few possessions, which means minimal cleanup and little incentive to spend time inside.

PC: What advice would you give other parents contemplating a similar journey?

SN: Make a plan and set a date. It may seem daunting, but you can make this happen. It’s a pretty inexpensive way of life. You could RV full-time for a year for $25k. My kids’ courage and confidence has increased, and it’s changing how they see and experience the world.

He’s with the band

Aesop, now nine, went on tour with his parents’ band for the first time at two months of age and hasn’t stopped since. His mother, Enion Pelta-Tiller, is a violinist/fiddler and singer. She writes for music publications and teaches music when not touring with Taarka, the band she and her husband David Tiller, a mandolinist/guitarist and singer, co-lead. Although the family has been touring a bit less lately, they spend up to three weeks on the road about four times a year, staying with friends, in hotels, or in their Sprinter van.

Despite being on the go, says Enion, “Touring has always been a grounding experience for me. Before having a child, I could work more on the road – practice, write, do band business – but there was also more time to get involved in personal drama, stay up too late, and not take care of myself as well as I should. The rhythm of caring for a child brought a new kind of order to our lives on the road.”

For the first few years of Aesop’s life, his parents depended on a nanny while touring. By the time he turned four, Enion recalls “shows where he set up his entire Thomas the Tank Engine set on the stage behind us, and others where he ‘played’ ukulele or harmonica with us.”

Now that Aesop is older, he’s content to read a book or spend a little time on the iPad while his parents perform. If the venue is family-friendly, Aesop has no trouble finding and befriending other kids. Schoolwork also keeps him busy. Currently enrolled in public school, his teachers keep him up to date with homework assignments to complete while on the road.

Parent Co: Did you ever imagine taking a more traditional path once you became parents?

Enion Pelter-Tiller: We are both lifer musicians. It has never really felt like an option not to continue doing what we do, though the shape of it has changed over the years.

PC: What do you love most about touring as a family?

EPT: We enjoy the stops in beautiful places where we’ve camped for the night. Our son will often participate in the setup and breakdown of shows, or he’ll make sure we’re getting on the road on time. He’s even (voluntarily) done some business communications for us! The integration of our work and family lives has a feeling of tradition to it that I think is positive for us and our kid.

PC: What are your greatest concerns about touring as a family?

EPT: Oddly, the same thing that I love is also a concern – that our work and family lives are so integrated. In this era where individuality is so celebrated, the potential to have our child begin to create his own path seems like it could be limited.

PC: In what ways do you feel taking your son on tour has enriched your life?

EPT: Getting to spend so much time with him when he’s at an age that most kids end up spending more time away from their parents.

PC: What advice would you give other parents considering a similar path?

EPT: Plan ahead, but don’t go overboard. Kids are better than adults at rolling with what you give them. The best thing you can do is ensure that your child’s experience is full of joy, diverse experiences, and good food, whether on the road or at home.

Your Adventure Toolkit

Safety whistle, earmuffs, travel potty, quick-dry towels, binoculars, a kid’s camera, and headlamp.

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Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but in many households, it's also the most hectic. Many parents rely on pre-prepared items to cut down on breakfast prep time, and if Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links are a breakfast hack in your home, you should check your bag.

More than 14 tons of the frozen sausage links are being recalled after consumers found bits of metal in their meat.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 23.4-oz. pouches of Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey with a 'Use By' date of January 31, 2019.

"The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49," the FSIS notes.

In a statement posted on its website, Jimmy Dean says "a few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product. Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product. Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA. No injuries have been reported with this recall."

Consumers should check their packages for "the establishment code M19085 or P19085, a 'use by' date of January 31, 2019 and a UPC number of '0-77900-36519-5'," the company says.

According to the FSIS, there have been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the sausage links, and recalled packages should be thrown away.

If you purchased the recalled sausages and have questions you can call the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101.

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Flying with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn't easy under optimal conditions, and when the kids are tired and cranky, things become even harder.

Many parents are anxious when flying with kids for exactly this reason: If the kids get upset, we worry our fellow passengers will become upset with us, but mom of two Becca Kinsey has a story that proves there are more compassionate people out there than we might think.

In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kinsey explains how she was waiting for her flight back from Disney World with her two boys, Wyatt, 2, and James, 5, when things started to go wrong, and the first of three kind women committed an act of kindness that meant so much.

After having to run all over the airport because she'd lost her ID, Kinsey and her boys were in line for security and she was "on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says 'here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!'" Kinsey wrote in her Facebook post.

Within minutes, 2-year-old Wyatt was asleep on the airport floor. Kinsey was wondering how she would carry him and all the carry-ons when "another mom jumps out of her place in line and says 'hand me everything, I've got it.'"

When Kinsey thanked the second woman and the first who had given up her place in line they told her not to worry, that they were going to make sure she got on her flight.

"The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight," Kinsey wrote.

Kinsey and her boys boarded, but the journey was hardly over. Wyatt wolk up and started "to scream" at take off, before finally falling back asleep. Kinsey was stressed out and needed a moment to breathe, but she couldn't put Wyatt down.

"After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says 'you look like you need a break' and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to [Kinsey's husband], hugs me and says "Merry Christmas!!" Kinsey wrote.

👏👏👏

It's a beautiful story about women helping women, and it gets even better because when Kinsey's Facebook post started to go viral she updated it in the hopes of helping other parents take their kids to Disney and experience another form of stress-relief.

"What if everyone that shared the story went to Kidd's Kids and made a $5 donation?! Kidd's Kids take children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!"

As of this writing, Kinsey has raised more than $2,000 for Kidd's Kids and has probably inspired a few people to be kind the next time they see a parent struggling in public.

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Ah, the holidays—full of festive cheer, parties, mistletoe... and complete and utter confusion about how much to tip whom.

Remember: Tipping and giving gifts to the people that help you throughout the year is a great way to show your appreciation, but it's never required. Ultimately, listen to your heart (and your budget) and decide what's right for your family.

Here is our etiquette guide to tipping and gifting everyone on your list.

Teachers

You can decide if you'd like to do a class gift.

  • Ask people to contribute what they can, if they'd like to
  • Sign the gift from the entire class—don't single out the people that weren't able to contribute
  • Idea: a small gift and then a gift card bought with the rest of the money, and a card signed by all the children

...or a personal gift.

  • Amount/value is very up to you—you may factor in how many days/week your child is in school and how much you pay for tuition.
  • Anywhere from $5-$150 has been done.
  • Idea: a personalized tote bag and gift card, with a picture drawn by your child

Babysitters, nannies + au pairs

  • Up to one night's pay for a babysitter
  • Up to one week's pay for a nanny or au pair.
  • Homemade gift from the child

Daycare teachers

  • $25-70/teacher and a card from your child

School bus driver

  • A non-monetary gift of $10-$20 (i.e. a gift card)

Ballet teacher/soccer coach

  • Consider a group gift or personal gift (see teacher gift above)
  • Up to $20 value if doing a personal gift

Mail carrier

  • A gift up to a $20 value, but they are not allowed to receive cash or a gift card that can be exchanged for cash.

UPS/Fed Ex

  • A gift up to a $20 value, depending on the number of packages you get. Avoid cash if possible.

Sanitation workers

  • $10-30 each
  • Make sure you find out if the same people pick up the recycling and the trash—there may be two different teams to think about.

Cleaning person

  • Up to one week's pay

Hair stylist

  • Up to the cost of one haircut/style

Dog walker

  • Up to one week's pay

Doorman

  • $15-80 each depending on number of doormen

Boss/Co-workers

  • You are not required to give your boss a gift. In some instances, it may be inappropriate to do so—so you'll have to think about what seems right for you
  • Never give cash
  • Consider giving an office gift—bring coffee or donuts to the office for everyone, buy an assortment of teas for the staff lounge, replace the microwave that everyone hates, etc
  • Organize an office Secret Santa—it's a great way to boost morale and have fun, without needing to decide who to buy for. (Hint: We love Elftser for easy Secret Santa organizing!)

Neighbors

Hey mama,

It's the time of year again.

You know what I'm talking about. From Halloween to New Years Eve, where all the sweets and treats come out in full force, and it seems like the universe is plotting to take you down.

You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of it all. After all, history has taught you that you can't make it through the holiday season successfully.

Maybe you can't get by without eating all the holiday treats and feeling like a failure. Maybe you end the holidays vowing to be a better person and start the New Year on the latest detox diet. You are all too familiar with the guilt and shame that comes with holiday eating cycle and how this robs you of joy of the season.

You may have managed to contain some element of self-control over the year. Maybe you carefully avoid those treats that you know you can't simply eat one of, or maybe you've skipped dessert and stayed clear from all the sweets. Maybe you've felt like you're doing well on your latest diet and are worried about how this incoming holiday treat wave will sabotage your success.

Whatever you're worried about, the fear is real and paralyzing, taking up that precious mental space as your thoughts are consumed about food and your body.

It may be hard to think about anything else when you mind is controlled by the rules that dictate what you should and shouldn't be eating. Maybe seeing your spouse or kids eat those holiday treats creates more anxiety for you and sends you on the brink of losing your mind as these food issues become all consuming.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, where is this fear coming from and why is it controlling your life?

Do you ever feel like a failure at eating because you inhaled that bag of fun-sized candy bars or scarfed through a dessert faster than anyone could say, "Trick or Treat?"

Are you embarrassed that something as normal as food feels like such a struggle?

Does overeating or an emotional eating episode send you on a downward tailspin in self-loathing?

How many times have you stepped on the scale, only to feel miserable about yourself for the rest of the day?

I want to let you in on a secret.

You are not failing, mama.

That desire to eat all the holiday foods or binge on sweets doesn't mean that you've screwed up or that you have no self-control.

You're not a failure for wanting to eat all the things you don't normally let yourself eat or for breaking all the food rules you've set in place to give you more "control."

You don't need more willpower, another diet or more ways to become disciplined.

What you need, sweet mama, is permission.

Permission to eat those foods that you crave every year, like a slice of your Grandmother's special holiday dish or the piece of pumpkin cheesecake everyone's eating at your office party.

Permission to decorate holiday cookies with your kids and actually enjoy eating one too, not pretend like you don't want one, only to eat a plateful once they've gone to bed.

Permission to actually keep food in its proper place, so it's not stealing your joy, energy and mental space.

And you know what?

When you've given yourself permission to eat, including all those sweets and treats that are normally off-limits, they suddenly lose their power over you. And when food doesn't have power over you, you will have freedom to live a life that isn't bound by what you can and cannot eat.

Let me tell you something else: feeling like a failure around food is NOT your fault. It doesn't mean you don't have enough self-control or will power. There is nothing wrong with you.

What's to blame are the abundance of food rules: unrealistic food rules that make you feel unnecessarily guilty for eating or shameful in your body. (i.e: "Don't eat sugar", "Don't eat carbohydrates", "That's not allowed on the diet", "Don't eat anything too high in fat", "Don't eat after 6pm", "Don't eat all day if you're having a big meal at night").

You are not the problem.

Food rules, diets, etc. THAT is what is wrong.

You weren't made to live or thrive under a list of rules of what you should or shouldn't eat. It's not an issue of self-control.

The truth is that trying to follow a diet or a rigid set of food rules is like trying to negotiate with your toddler—you just can't win. And it's not for lack of trying, it's that the rules of the game are created for you to fail. So why try to play a game where the odds are against you?

You can opt-out of diet culture NOW to enjoy a truly peaceful holiday season that doesn't end with self-loathing or a New Year's resolution to diet and start the cycle all over again. Because the truth is, there are no good and bad foods or rules you are have to follow. When you can let go of all those judgments and emotional hang-ups that you've attached to eating, you learn to trust yourself to make your own choices and view food for what is really is - just food.

So choose being present over being perfect with the way you eat (because no such thing exists anyway). Calm the food chaos by giving yourself permission to eat, taste, and celebrate.

Enjoy the treats, if that is what your body is craving. Take back for yourself what all the obscure food rules and dieting have taken away from you all these years. Take in the memories, the flavors of the season - because you deserve it.

This holiday season, commit to putting yourself on a new path, one that doesn't end in self-destruction.

Give yourself permission, not only to eat, but to embrace a new way of living that isn't defined by your body size or what you can or cannot eat.

You can choose food freedom over food rules, and by doing so, you are choosing to live. You are choosing to be present for your children and experience the moments and memories that might otherwise be missed when your mind is imprisoned by food rules.

It's never too late, mama. The time to start is now.

Remember—you are not failing. Start by giving yourself permission today.

Originally posted on Crystal Karges.

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