kids

photograph your kid’s 3-D artwork in 5 easy steps

So a clay horse and a dragon walk into a bar  . . . 

Or, more likely, sit in a box under the bed . . . 

Step One: (Minutes)

Unpack the artwork.  Admire it in all its lumpy glory.  Ask about the project - what was fun, what was hard.   (If you’re feeling super organize-y make some notes about what they say).

Step Two: (Seconds)

Set up the light shed.  So, here’s where a piece of photo equipment really makes the difference.  I have an Impact Medium Light ShedIt costs $45, is collapsible, sets up in seconds and hangs in my closet.  It makes a world of difference.  I am not a photographer and not technical, but this thing is super easy to use. This is my setup - it looks silly, but works.

Step Three: (Minutes) 

Take pictures of the art. Using your camera phone, take 3-4 pictures of each of the pieces.  

The black velvety background generally reads best.  I use a lint brush to take off little bits of stuff on the black.  Play around with your lamps to get the best light.  Get the black as dark as you can and the art as true to its colors, but again, don’t stress, you’re going to be editing the picture on your phone later.

Step Four: (Whenever)

Edit the pictures. 

This is super easy.  Use the edit screen in your camera or download Snapseed from the app store.  Play around with the brightness, contrast, color and shadows, until it looks super sharp.  You can make the black background really deep if you go under Light and play around with Shadow and Black Point. (You can do this while waiting on hold with the airline). 

Step Five: (Minutes)

Create a Record in trovvit.  Download the trovvit app from the App Store (it’s free!). Set up an account in your kid’s name.  Follow the instructions to create a Record, and save it to your kid's trove under Art


You're done!  A whole year's worth of sculpts, puppets and papermache recorded in trovvit!  

You can share the artwork PRIVATELY with family members - they’ll see it in a fun feed and get email notifications when you post something new!  You can also pull all your records together in a trovvit portfolio - Hello, art school!

trovvit is not just for artwork - stay tuned for more trovvit tricks on how to record kids’ games, performances, projects (model boat building, vegetable garden), travels and milestones.  

Psst! Tell your friends and family about trovvit and please give us a super review in the App Store. (We all like stars on our work!)

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trovvit travel with kids 3.0

rv adventures part 3 : The Grand Canyon 

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

By Laurel Watts

The thing about kids is that they are little, and have little legs.   When they get tired, you have to carry them.

The thing about me is that I am kind of lazy.

The thing about Torrance is that he likes to climb things. Difficult things. Big things.  For years, he had wanted to climb down into the Grand Canyon and back up again.

For years, I said – look at how little their legs are.  (I did not say, look how lazy your wife is – that went without saying).

But after the Sierra Nevadas, and Zion and Bryce, their legs got big enough.

So, on Saturday June 1st at 9am (7am Denver time) Torrance and I began calling (each of us dialing 2 phones – land line and mobile) to try to snag a coveted reservation at Phantom Ranch, the cabins at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  After 15 minutes of holds and machines and texting each other (Are you in? Did you get it?  Are they picking up?) a nice lady came on the line and took our reservation for two cabins for two nights in June the following year. (OMG I GOT IT I GOT IT!)

L. Watts

L. Watts

Yippee!  (I think).

A year later, we were headed out of Las Vegas in our beloved rental FS31 RV with Skye (11) and Charlie (9).  We were joined by our intrepid friends, C and G, and their two daughters (10 and 12).

We drove from Vegas and spent the night on the South Rim at Mather Campground within the park.  Up at dawn, with our daypacks full of a change of clothes and LOTS of salty snacks and water.

T.Robinson

T.Robinson

And then we hiked the Kaibab Trail. Down.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

And down.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

And down.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

Until, legs shaking, and too hot for words, we finally reached the bottom.

Skye and C plunged into the icy cold Colorado.  

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

Charlie and I made for the main lodge (which was cool and dark).  We arrived at around 11am, and were able to check into our cabins at 12am.  We ate a tasty lunch in the lodge.  The kids learned that if they studied up, they could get a special Junior Ranger badge.  Charlie buckled down immediately.  We all retreated to our cabins and collapsed on our bunks. (The adults shared one cabin and the kids another).  The kids spent most of the afternoon in a top bunk playing cards. True to form, I slept.

L. Watts

L. Watts

Dinner was served family style and was terrific.  We were signed up for the steak dinner (as a reward!), and it was all tasty and plentiful.  They passed big salads and we ordered cold beers.  We lay in our bunks after dinner -- tired, full and pleased with ourselves -- and told stories.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

The next morning, we had a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon and eggs and headed out on a FLAT walk (my requirement) to a small waterfall.  It was powerful hot, down there at the bottom of the Canyon, but the water was cold and we had nowhere to be, so we played around for a couple of hours.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

In the afternoon, Charlie and C romped in the river that runs through the grounds of Phantom Ranch.  I slept.  Skye and K plotted their futures as mule drivers.  

Charlie was given the job of ringing the bell to announce dinner.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

For dinner we had stew and the vegetarian chili, both of which were again, wonderfully tasty.  After dinner, we attended the ranger talk.  Charlie was sworn in as a Junior Ranger.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

Before dawn, we breakfasted and, with lunches packed by Phantom Ranch and plenty of SALTY SNACKS, we hiked Bright Angel Trail up.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

And up.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

And up.

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

(Though we did stop to cool off. . . )

T. Robinson

T. Robinson

At one point it looked like Charlie (littlest legs) and I (laziest) would be the last to the top, but Torrance (albeit carrying several packs) brought up the rear!  Charlie and Skye taunted us from the top as we trudged the last hundred meters.

I have never been so happy to see our RV, full of clean soft clothes, a hot shower and margarita makings.

L. Watts

L. Watts

Details:  I have now saved this trip to my account in trovvit and can share details of our itinerary and our daily log with friends and family.  If you have any questions, please contact me at lwatts@trovvit.com

Flight: RT JFK to Vegas on Delta, ($324) leaving June 10th and returning June 18th.  

Hotel: Las Vegas: Because our flight landed at 6pm, we spent the night at the Westin Las Vegas, using American Express Starwood points for the rooms.  

RV: We rented the FS31 from El Monte RV rentals in Las Vegas.  We paid $1800 for 7 nights (June 11-June 17), an estimated 600 miles, kitchen kit and linen kit.  You can check out the floorplans as well at http://www.elmonterv.com/rent-an-rv-search-results/

Grand Canyon

Park: Admission to the park is $30 per vehicle. 

Camping: We reserved a site a Mather Campground ($18/night) for the first night (June 11th) and then parked the RV at the visitor center at the top of the Bright Angel trail head. (We had called ahead and confirmed that this was kosher).  We then took a shuttle to the South Kaibab trail head.  When we emerged two days later at the top of Bright Angel - there was our trusty RV!  We had reservations again in Mather for the night of June 14th.  www.recreation.gov

Phantom Ranch: We reserved two H4 cabins ($146/night) at Phantom Ranch for June 12th and 13th. At the same time that we made the reservations, we were asked to choose our dinner options as well (they need to know in advance what to bring down on those mules!).  This website is detailed and has a comprehensive price list   www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/phantom-ranch/.  The folks on the phone are super nice, as well.

Coda:  Our friends left us on June 14th to return to jobs and schools, but we continued on to Monument Valley, the Canyons de Chelly and Winslow Arizona.

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trovvit travel with kids 2.0

rv adventures part 2: A 10th anniversary trip to Zion and Bryce (with kids!)

T. Robinson, Bryce

T. Robinson, Bryce

Tenth wedding anniversary?  We headed straight for Vegas - not for renewed vows in the chapel or the tempting tables - but for the proximity to Zion and Bryce and the El Monte RV rental company.  Shakedown complete, fridge filled at Trader Joe’s, we were on our way with Skye (8) and Charlie (6).  Skye sat up front, in Tor’s hat and my glasses, looking dusty and dramatic.   

Tor said, “I have loved being married to you this past nine years.”  Whatever, I thought.  He can’t count.  

We swung into the Zion Campground, right outside the park, for our first night. We were down on the river, but, as in most commercial campgrounds, cheek by jowl with other RV’s.  At the crack of dawn, we loaded our sleepy kids into a Zion Adventures van and were driven to the East Mesa Trailhead.  We walked about 3 miles through cool pines in the dawn, along the spine of the plateau to emerge at the top of Observation Point.  

L. Watts, Zion

L. Watts, Zion

Skye learned not to play with the cute tiny cacti lining the path.  

T. Robinson, Zion

T. Robinson, Zion

We started down the vertiginous trail, kids on the inside, at points edging along the rock.  

L.Watts, Zion

L.Watts, Zion

We met virtuous, vigorous climbers on their way up (4 miles, 2100’ gain) equipped with walking poles.  They seemed so amazed (and disheartened) to see us sauntering down -- “What time did YOU get up?”   “Those KIDS beat ME up here?”-- that we started apologizing to each hiker as they came around the bend --  “Don’t worry, we got a ride to the top! Only hiking down! You’re almost there!”  

L.Watts, Zion

L.Watts, Zion

Despite our having cheated, it was a spectacular walk down, from which we emerged, legs like rubber, around noon.  We collapsed on the free (and frequent) shuttle bus, and spent the rest of the day eating ice creams and napping.  

T. Robinson, Zion

T. Robinson, Zion

The second and third nights, we camped inside Zion at Watchman, which was a spectacular place to moor.  

L. Watts, Zion

L. Watts, Zion

We had a fun (if challenging) hike to Angels Landing.  

T. Robinson, Zion

T. Robinson, Zion

On the way up, the kids climbed in and out of smooth formations in the rocks.  

T. Robinson, Zion

T. Robinson, Zion

Near the top, Torrance and Skye attempted the climb to out to the very tip of Angels Landing rock - but Tor got unnerved when he realized that the handholds and chains were farther apart than Skye's 9 year old arms could reach!  The next morning, we took a picnic stroll down Riverside.  

T. Robinson, Zion

T. Robinson, Zion

On we rolled to Bryce, spending the first night at Ruby’s Inn and RV Campground, outside of the park.  Although not as aesthetically pleasing as campgrounds in the National parks, there was a whole social ecosystem, with families plugged in for week-long stays, packs of kids roaming the grounds on their bikes and babies and moms around the swimming pool.

We woke predawn and piloted the RV into Bryce, parking it near Sunrise Point. We left the kids sleeping in their bunks.  Tor wrapped a blanket around us to ward of the dawn chill and we watched the sun fire the red rock formations.  

T. Robinson, Bryce

T. Robinson, Bryce

In the face of this immensity, Torrance observed, our 9 years together were like a drop in the bucket of time.  Ten years, I corrected him, absently, thinking about coffee and pancakes.

Over the next two days, we explored Bryce, hiking down into the astounding hoodoos. 

T. Robinson, Bryce

T. Robinson, Bryce

On our last night, we made Philly cheese steak sandwiches and drank Prosecco around the fire.  The kids recited anniversary poems they had written.  Tor surprised me with a wedding album, a beautiful, funny volume that the kids retrieved from its hiding place in the side of the RV.

T. Robinson, Bryce

T. Robinson, Bryce

“I knew you've felt guilty for the past 9 years about not having put it together, so I did it for you.”

“Wait. Was there a year in there where we weren’t married?” I said.  “No,” he said, teasing, “Just a day here and there . . . I figure it’s cumulative.”

So we drank to 9 very happy years while the kids climbed on the top of the RV to bask in the full moon.

T. Robinson, Bryce

T. Robinson, Bryce

Details:  I have saved this trip to my account in trovvit and can share details through my travel records with friends and family.

Flight: RT Newark to Vegas on Delta ($288), leaving June 3rd and returning June 11th.  

Hotel: Las Vegas: Because our flight landed at 9pm, we spent the night at the Westin Las Vegas, using American Express Starwood points for the room.  

RV: We rented the FS31 from El Monte RV rentals in Las Vegas.  We paid $1800 for 7 nights, an estimated 600 miles, kitchen kit and linen kit.  You can check out the floorplans as well at http://www.elmonterv.com/rent-an-rv-search-results/

Zion

Zion Campground Campground and RV Resort: ($49/night) We spent the first night here because I wasn’t able to reserve a spot at Watchman. It was clean, simple, and conveniently right across the street from Zion Adventures. http://www.zioncamp.com/

Watchman Campground: ($30/night) Spectacular.  Reserve at www.recreation.gov (This is an amazing site where you can not only reserve your site in almost any park in America BUT they have photos showing the view from your campsite!)

Zion Adventure Company: http://www.zionadventures.com.  Super nice and organized.  Van to East Mesa Trailhead was $29 per person.

Bryce

Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground: ($60/night) http://www.brycecanyoncampgrounds.com/.  Clean with a small pool and showers.  

North Campground: ($30/night) Perfect location.  Here’s the trick, most of the RV locations in Bryce are not reservation, but first-come-first-serve.  www.recreation.gov  We had a backup reservation at Ruby’s, but pulled in and snagged a prime spot the morning after we arrived.

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trovvit travel with kids

rv adventures, part one: destination wedding in the sierra nevadas

T. Robinson, Mono Lake, 2008

T. Robinson, Mono Lake, 2008

Sometimes it's hard having adventurous outdoorsy friends.  Destination wedding at a ranch off the grid in the Sierra Nevadas?  Bring the kids?  Oh, yes! But, where to stay? We didn't want to camp out, because the kids were 7 and 5 and the weatherman predicted snow. The nearest hotel was in Bridgeport, 45 minutes away and cost $300/night for two rooms. Given all the events at the ranch, we'd be driving back and forth all day and night.  What to do? 

T. Robinson, FFF, 2008

T. Robinson, FFF, 2008

RV.  Or, as I like to call it: my Land Yacht.

We reserved a cabover FS31, called the “Chalet” for pickup in Reno, Nevada.  For $200/night we had a house and transportation.  It was epic.

Torrance was already in California and called me the night before I took off with the kids, "Pack their ski jackets." It was 80 degrees in New York, I thought he was insane.  "It's snowing here," he said.  We landed in Reno and walked out of Arrivals to find a 31 foot white RV waiting at passenger pick up, Torrance behind the wheel. The side door opened, stairs flipped down and we boarded with our luggage. We hit Trader Joe’s for groceries and Torrance cooked our first dinner of pasta and sauce in the Target parking lot while I picked up supplies.

Driving to Bridgeport that night, we listened to tunes, cosy and warm, kids tucked into the bunkbeds in the back. Pulled into Twin Lakes Campground in the dark and then snuggled into our double bed in our room at the stern. In the morning the picture window over our bed framed snow covered mountains. Drove to the ranch and dropped anchor next to the wedding tent. 

Kids were ecstatic - our RV was a like a tree house on wheels. I fed them real food, when they were hungry. Never had to stop to pee.  

DSC_0003.JPG

We were at the ranch for an afternoon hike, evening rehearsal dinner, morning wedding, afternoon horse shoe competition and an all night party in the tent. 

T. Robinson, FFF, 2008

T. Robinson, FFF, 2008

Then, we hit the road!  Saw Mono Lake and explored an old volcano, with enormous light pumice stones and deep black obsidian.

T. Robinson, Mono Lake, 2008

T. Robinson, Mono Lake, 2008

We were the only tourists poking around Brodie Ghost Town in the snow.

T. Robinson, Brodie, 2008

T. Robinson, Brodie, 2008

Snow had closed the pass to Yosemite, so we spent a night at June Lake.

IMG_0238.JPG

We were RV converts.  

For years “RV curious” friends have asked me how, where, when and what. Now that I have trovvit, I’ve created a “record” of this trip that includes pictures and travel details that I can easily share.  If you would like a trovvit records of this intinerary, email us at info@trovvit.com.  Then when you take your RV trip, you can make record in trovvit (www.trovvit.com) and share it with your friends -- so we can spread the RV love.

Travel Details:

RV: We rented the FS31 from El Monte RV rentals in Reno.  You can check out the floor plans as well at http://www.elmonterv.com/rent-an-rv-search-results/

We liked the FS31, because it has bunk beds for the kids, a double bed in its own room for us, a full shower and a pop-out side to make a larger living space when we were camped.  For around $200, El Monte provides all linens (sheets, blankets, towels and pillows) and a full kitchen kit.  

Campgrounds: www.recreation.gov (This is an amazing site where you can not only reserve your site in almost any park in America BUT they have photos showing the view from your campsite!)

Lower Twin Lakes Campground, ($24 for up to 35 feet - no electric hook up).

June Lake Camground ($22 for up to 60 feet - no electric hook up) with a gorgeous view over June Lake.

Campgrounds are often run by a nice retired person who checks you in, takes your money and often has firewood you can buy for roasting marshmallows over the firepit!

IMG_0198.JPG
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record your travels in trovvit

Grand Canyon, L. Watts

Grand Canyon, L. Watts

I am a travel nerd.  I love to travel, I have always travelled and, given any excuse, I will drop everything and get on a plane.  In my teens and twenties, I kept a notebook on every trip - recording thoughts, museums receipts, sketches, contacts for new friends.  I’d print out photos and stow them in a photo binder with the name of the trip on the spine.  And then shelve them.  I married a travel nerd (around the world at 19, hoboing on freight trains across America, camping at Machu Picchu) and his journals and photo albums joined mine on our bookshelf.  

We travelled cheap (miles, last minute, rooms in people’s homes BEFORE Airbnb).  With the advent of the internet, the power of the travel agent was in my hands, and I could research and book odd lovely hotels, in hard to reach places, with ease.

Gare de Montparnasse, T. Robinson

Gare de Montparnasse, T. Robinson

When we had kids, we threw them in our carry-ons and headed off.  Kept it cheap and cheerful.  Less time for notebooks, but infinite photo opportunities!

Troncones, T. Robinson

Troncones, T. Robinson

Thirteen years in, I’ve amassed loads of itineraries appropriate for kids and adults: France, Italy, Texas, Grand Canyon, Mexico, Bryce, Zion, Sierra Nevadas, D.C., more Mexico, Galapagos, Alaska, Bahamas, Turkey, England . . .  

London, T. Robinson

London, T. Robinson

Friends ask me frequently - how did you go? when? where? and I find myself writing the same email about where to stay in Cappadocia or who to surf with in Troncones.  trovvit is immeasurably helpful for keeping track of where we’ve been and what we’ve enjoyed.  I make a record a day (photos, eats, museums, hotel).  

In the moment, I can share our experiences on the trip (privately!) with family or a select group of friends.  My mom tells me, "I love these "recuerdos!"  It's like I'm on the trip with you!"  A week later (or a year later), if someone is interested in replicating the itinerary, I can share the trovvit records of the whole trip.

Cappadocia, T. Robinson

Cappadocia, T. Robinson