Olliebop Blog | Inspiration, Ideas and Information for Busy Families | Parenting Teens and Tweens

An optimistic resource for on-the-go families.  Ollie and BOP join forces to go fetch products, tips, tools and inspiration to make this fleeting time in life all the better.

Playfully stylish. Somewhat sophisticated. Always optimistic.

It’s Time {we have news!}

Hello, Friends!

You have probably heard that “selfie” was proclaimed as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2013. That, combined with the fact that Ollie and I have news, made it seem fitting to attempt a Ollie and BOP iPhone selfie photo shoot yesterday in front of the Christmas tree. And do you know how hard it is to take a selfie with a lab? Try it sometime; and good luck. Here we are:

Olliebop Selfie

So, the news … I’m going back to work full time, and opening my own business {details, below}! And thus; Olliebop is going on a longterm sabbatical. I know that you regular readers aren’t surprised in the least, as posting has dwindled to a pitiful degree. The site will stay up, though, and I hope that we’ll still have visitors who will enjoy @ 150 past posts {start with the links on the righthand sidebar!}. This change is bittersweet, but I know that it’s time. I’m excited to focus on my professional life, as well as spending real, live time with my family. I can’t believe that 2014 will bring with it two teenagers; one of them driving!

The details… In Feburary, I will launch my private practice in college admissions consulting. I work with high school students and their families in their college admissions process. I’ve been consulting part time with students this past year, and I’m looking forward expand by business. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of matching students with colleges that are the best possible match for them.

I’m glad to be returning to my professional roots. I’ve worked intensively with college students, and I have a Master’s in Higher Ed/Student Affairs Administration. This past year, I was a student once again; working toward a certificate in College Admissions Counseling, attending conferences, connecting with colleagues, and becoming immersed in current trends in college admissions. It’s rewarding and engaging; and the ideal fit for my background, interests, and skills. I’m loving it!

Please visit my new website. And… you can sign up for my free college admissions newsletter here! I am glad to serve as a helpful resource for high school students and their families, both locally and from afar.

In conclusion …

I have enjoyed blogging for fun over the past three + years, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining us! Olliebop has been a fantastic family scrapbook, which has helped keep my mind in a place to see the good. I’ve loved the creativity, photography, and seeing busy family life through a more optimistic lens. I would also like to thank Mr. BOP, Hudson, and Ella for cooperating with my photo documentation and musings. I hope that we captured some family moments that they will later treasure.

I think back to when I started this blog more than three years ago. I felt a bit lost, and unsure of what to do. The kids were off to school and growing so quickly — and I {with Ollie as sidekick} was left, saying “now what?” It’s a hard and funny time; this mid life. So much has changed, even in these past few years. There has been joy, tears, laughter, fear, success, happiness, sadness, adventure, hardship, and growth …. everything that that comes along with this crazy and often-wonderful time in life.

As I’m finishing up here, Ollie is on his bed — in the midst of a dream. He makes these little “whoop! whoop!” sounds, and his feet twitch. We always say that he’s chasing bunnies. I at least hope that he’s doing something in his dream that makes him happy. He’s a sweet boy, and he deserves to have sweet dreams. As do we all.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I wish the best for you and your family — love, joy, adventure, and fun. It’s all there, amidst these fleeting lives that we lead. I’m just so grateful for all of it.

With love,  BOP



This Is It

Hello! I just posted a link to this lovely print by Katie Daisy on Olliebop’s Facebook page, but I love it so much that I’ll put it up here, too. It gets my blood pumping and my mind focused.

This is It from thewheatfield on Etsy

 And what is “IT,” anyway? That’s my favorite part — oh, so open to interpretation.

I’ve got my IT. Got yours?

Check out Katie’s entire collection of happy prints her shop, thewheatfield on Etsy.

Wishing you a lovely and lively day.

xo, BOP

Fresh Finds for On the Go Families {Part Two}

Hope you enjoyed your weekend! Best part of mine was finding out that I don’t have to report on Monday for jury duty. Wahoo!

It’s drizzly here and I’m about to prep dinner, while the kids do their homework. Tonight I’ll be a making a new favorite recipe — Easy Ravioli Lasagna from Cooking Light. Everyone loves it and it’s super fast to make. It’s not pretty, but still a crowd-pleaser.

Easy Ravioli Lasagna from Cooking Light

Below is part two of some recent finds for those of us who would be categorized as “on the go.” {You know who you are!} The other half of the collection posted earlier is here.

Mint Chalcedony 14K Gold Teardrop Earrings by ShopRareBird on Etsy: Because having these beauties dangling from one’s earlobes might make it all a bit better!

Q&A Journal from Barnes & Noble: I love the idea of answering a quick question each day and comparing responses year after year to see how one’s thoughts have evolved. I know I won’t journal in the traditional sense, but one line a day is doable. Or, go with a simpler account of what happened each day in the One Line a Day Journal too. For DIYers I love this handmade version from Design*Sponge.

A Poster to Hang by the Sink Proclaiming “The Dishes Will Wait. Life Won’t” by Parada Creations on Etsy: A bold reminder to keep it all in perspective.

bts collage 3

On to more practical things… how about the issue of keeping track of time in the morning? Are lengthy morning showers and such an issue in your house too?

I’ve got my eye on this Smart Cube Timer from Brookstone {available in colors which offer varying amounts of time}, as well as this waterproof Shower Clock.

bts collage 4

And finally, why not try to be civilized amidst all of this running about? I loooove this Self Inking Custom Stamp from Foryoo on Etsy {holiday gift worthy, too!}

bts address

Hope you enjoyed today’s finds. This collection seems a bit random to me as I review what I just wrote — but, I suppose that just underscores my theme of things for people who are a little bit overwhelmed and scattered! I hope you have a lovely week.

xo – BOP

Wild Things: Camping with “The Space Canoe from Space”

Camp site

Camp Site, Fallensby Clear Pond, Labor Day Weekend


Thought we’d offer a moment to soak up some nature — looking back at our canoe camping trip earlier this month. If you’re campers like we are, you’ll know that when camping is great it’s GREAT, and when it’s horrible it’s… horrible. We got lucky this year, and it was as good as it gets. We loaded up the canoe and headed to the Adirondacks — to a region of small lakes where there are no reserved campsites. Rather, you paddle and find a spot.

On these trips everything we need has to fit into our canoe. We use Mr. BOP’s canoe from childhood — now a 40+ year old Grumman aluminum beauty. This camping trip, the cousins finally gave it a name; “The Space Canoe from Space” {said with a distant-sounding announcer voice}. Here are my parents, Dick and Dorothy, leading the way. They are the camping experts among us, thank goodness.

D&D in Canoe


“D&D” found our new home for the weekend and we parked our canoes.

Canoe Camping

The cousins became completely absorbed in making a village out of bark and moss found around the campsite. My nephews Daniel and Emmett aren’t pictured here, but they worked so hard on this creation!

Here’s the big picture view of the cousins’ miniature town. See the round park in the middle and all of the buildings around the edge?

Little Village in the Woods

Highlights included an airport, with all of Daniel and Emmett’s planes {the runway, in the second picture}


Image 5

City Hall…City Hall

And a circular park, with tiny trees.

Tiny Park

Image 6

The Space Canoe from Space also was put to good use, doing what it does best.

It gets sunk and becomes the best water toy ever.

Space Canoe

Camping is not easy, and it’s not always fun — but we’re {almost} always glad that we went.

We love being wild things!

Next post, we’ll be back to something more practical — Part Two of “Fresh Finds for On the Go Families”

Until then, in case you happened to miss this viral awesomeness — and in keeping with our nature theme…

“What Does the Fox Say?”

Fresh Finds For On the Go Families {Part 1}

In our last post we promised a roundup of good stuff for those of us who are on the go — but who also appreciate things that make life easier, prettier, or more fun.

Here’s what we’ve fetched for you — and we’ll post another batch next week too.

First; we’re loving this custom framed Weekly Dry Erase Board from MillcreekPress on Etsy. This one’s kinda fancy and splurgy {that’s a word, right?}. But, if something is that front-and-center why not make it look nice? Add the date with a set of number magnets, sold separately, and everyone’s in the know.

bts dry erase

We’re digging these sanity savers too:

Back to School Zen Garden by WendiLand on Etsy: Can’t you picture yourself getting lost in your own meditative creation? A phone call placed on hold just got better.

Everyday Lightweight Tote from LL Bean: A more compact and washable alternative to the traditional canvas tote bag. Ideal for and kind of miscellany, with a zip-top closure. Available in two sizes and a variety of colors.

Cheeky Days of the Week Folders from Knock Knock: A folder for each weekday and the weekend to help keep all of those bits of paper organized. I like the idea of checking the calendar ahead and pre-writing notes to school for the week. {Click on the link to see the design for each folder}

bts collage 1

And, how about:

Thayers Witch Hazel: I know, I’ve mentioned Thayers before – but it’s so helpful for quickly removing face grime on the go that I have to say it again! Hudson likes Lemon, Ella likes Peach, and I use the Rose. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got Proactiv on the bathroom counter too, but Thayers saves the day when a three step system is not in the cards.

Paper Pot from Uncommon Goods: Embrace that roll of toilet paper on the bedside table! The Paper Pot turns T.P. into tissue and makes it look you planned it that way all along. Feel better about the $40 price tag by factoring in the savings from not buying tissue… although I think I’d still buy some rolls of extra soft t.p. just for noses. Watch a video demo here.

Bts collage 5

Happy week, everyone! Talk to you soon…

- Ollie & BOP

We’re Back, Baby

Olliebop was conspicuously absent from the blogosphere this summer. Yep, once again computer time had to be sacrificed — as were very very busy having the most jam-packed summer ever!

We really did it ALL {three family reunions, for example}. We drove many miles, packed many bags, learned many things, hugged many relatives …. Did. It. All! Sure, our summer had its bumps and challenges — but overall, it was something to savor.

Even Ollie and his buddies can’t quite believe that it’s over.

Dogs on the dock

Charlie, Ollie, and Fonzie on the Dock in Maine


This was the first year ever that just weren’t quite ready to get back to school — but it happened last week, regardless. Our rapidly-growing duo {trio}, on the first day of school — one sophomore, one 7th grader, and one faithful bus buddy:

Olliebop Back to School 2013

Hudson, Ollie, and Ella First Day of School 2013


Looking at this picture makes me think of this same pose and moment in years past — always a rushed pic on the first day of school, with the rumbling sound of the bus in the distance.

This morning I searched “back to school” in the iPhoto library. Here’s one from the archives; first day of school, 2005. Hudson, a first grader and Ella headed to Pre-K. No Ollie, since we didn’t adopt him until 2006. Oh, those faces!

1st Day of School '05 003

Hudson and Ella First Day of School 2005 {pre Ollie}


And speaking of time passing…Something that blew my sentimental mind this week was a notice from the vet that Ollie is due for his “senior” checkup. At the ripe age of 7 3/4 he is officially a senior citizen of the dog world. Although his coat is getting lighter and his eyelashes are white, I still hadn’t thought of him in that category because he’s still so fun and frisky.  Nonetheless, this notification inspired me to buy him a new memory foam Orvis bed, {on sale} to make both of us feel better.

We are adjusting to the idea of structure, homework, and colder weather once again. AND — brace yourself — I have PREPPED AND PRESCHEDULED THE NEXT FOUR POSTS. I’m quite pleased with myself. Next post will go up in three days, on Monday {delivered via email Tuesday morning}, featuring some fabulous finds to make the those crazy busy days all the better.

Here’s to what next! Happy Fall to you!

xo, BOP

Ollie, Charlie and Fonzie on the Dock in Maine

Welcome! An Olliebop Roundup

Hello! Quite a few of you may be new here, with thanks to my guest post on the marvelous Design*Sponge. If so, welcome!

I spent considerable time and thought putting together the Saratoga Springs City Guide for Design*Sponge. I loved writing it, and I hope you enjoy it. If you have your own Saratoga picks to share, please do so in the comments of the guide. I envision that it will be a valuable resource that continues to build!

So what’s Olliebop, you might wonder? Simple:


My name is Beth {my initials are “BOP”}. Ollie is my sidekick and foot warmer.

I write for families with tweens and teens — though Olliebop seems to resonate with all sorts of readers.

Mr. BOP and I are parents to Hudson {age 15} and Ella {age 12}. More about us.

In six short months, we’ll have two teens. Yikes! Things sure have changed in three years of blogging.

We’re a typical family that’s growing up really fast. We have some delightful days and some harder days.

So, I keep an eye on the better moments and take inspiration from them. That’s what this is about.

Join us, and we’ll “go fetch” some finds that make life easier, more beautiful, and all around more fun!


Below is a sampling of some favorite Olliebop posts. You know what I’ll say next…. if you like what you see, Subscribe via email. Then, like my Facebook Page and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Here’s the kind of good stuff that you’ll find here:

The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens

My Experience at Brave Girl Camp in Idaho

A Truthful Piece that Received An Overwhelming Response

A Tale of Wardrobe Malfunction

The 5th Grade Homework Assignment That Made Me Cry

Meet Our Wrestling Cat and Dog

Good News From the World of Teens

Our Favorite Day in Italy {I’ve also posted about trips to Hawaii and Ireland}

A Product That Our On-the-Go Family Couldn’t Do Without

My Book Club’s All Time Favorites {After 9 Years Together!}

A Reflection and Big Time Cuteness From in My Home State of Vermont

The YouTube Video That Makes Me Laugh Every Single Time

Olliebop is also known for its gift guides, with an emphasis on handmade and unique items. A big perk, right there — we shop for you!


So that’s what happens around here. Please join us! And, if you haven’t been to beautiful Saratoga Springs, check out the City Guide and consider a trip. Saratoga really does offer something for everyone, and I’m so glad to take part in spreading the word. Thank you to Stephanie and all at Design*Sponge for the opportunity to do so!

Happy Summer! – BOP

Photo by Beth, of Olliebop

{Above: Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, NY. Photo by Olliebop}

Wahoo! Summer!

Well, hello there!

Happy Summer! It’s off to a very fast start around here…. I blinked, and school was over. No more Regents Exams or field trips, or bags and heaps of papers being emptied from lockers. Done! We now have one 7th grader and one sophomore in our midst. Crazy. And aside from a few nagging comments about the need to read or spend time on Kahn Academy, things are pretty chill around here. We were so ready for a break.

In celebration of our newfound freedom, I thought I’d share some pics I took earlier this month, just before we opened the pool. If you’re a regular Olliebop reader, you’ll remember that we started a questionable tradition a few years back — that of running on top of the pool cover {which could “hold an elephant”} before we officially open the pool each spring.

This year, Ella and her dear friend Rena did the honors. I love seeing their lit-up faces, ready for doing something out of the ordinary.

Here’s to summer, and all things fun and free. Bring it on!

Pool Running 1

Pool Running 2

Ella Pool Running

pool 7


xo – BOP

Empty Nesters

I hope you’re not minding my nature photography kick lately (first the weeds; and then the nest) — but I want to tell you what became of those beautiful little blue eggs…

A few days after the first nest picture, we noticed that one robin had hatched. A few hours later, another. Here are first two, waiting for their third birdie sibling:

Robins Just Hatched

Several days later, all three were desperate and helpless. Every time we walked down the steps of the deck (the nest was in plain view, just off the railing), they would do this:

Robins Wanting Worms

I swear; they looked like Muppets!  Weird, fascinating, helpless little Muppets.

I did check on the robins now and then, although I failed to capture their early adolescent stage on “film” (now there’s a metaphor!). And next thing we knew — two weeks later —  the nest was empty!  I have since Googled the fact that it takes a mere 13 days for robins to leave the nest after hatching — so our robins were developmentally on track.

So, we’re empty nesters. Sure do miss those little Muppets.

Things to Make Dad Smile on Father’s Day

Here it is! The 2013 Father’s Day Gift Guide… and here’s my beloved Mr. BOP on vacation in April. Exhibit A: one blissed-out Dad!

This is the look that we’ll be trying to replicate on Father’s Day — not just with gifts, but by letting him know how much we appreciate him and his unique “dad” qualities. We love love love this man!

Mr BOP Smiling

Everyone seemed to appreciate our Father’s Day Gift Guides in 2012 and 2011, too…. check them out for even more ideas. Those guides are a bit fancier than this one, but I’m sticking to quick links this year as part of my overall simplification plan.

The Olliebop Father’s Day picks for this year: 

Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone and iPad: A protective case that extends battery life. For long trips or long days.

Retro Key Tags: Goofy, yet practical, for the collection of keys to this and that.

New Treehouses of the World: A book filled with whimsical treetop creations.

Aquapac Waterproof iPad Sleeve: For beach reading, boating, floating down a lazy river… anything wet.

The Pocket Guide to Mischief: To indulge his inner troublemaker.

I’m liking several items on the Uncommon Goods Unique Father’s Day Gift List; especially the Optimist/Pessimist Glassware {so “Olliebop!”} and the Marimo Moss Ball Lightbulb Aquarium.

Large Handmade Tree Swing: Just the things for a dad or grandpa with a good branch and an appreciation for the simpler things.

Mission Workshop Backpack or Messenger Bag: A collection of oh-so-rugged daytime luggage.

Pimp his Dre Studio headphones with a Lazerwood overlay:  Until now, Beats seemed best left to younger guys. Not anymore! This real wood application makes them Dad-worthy.

Luchador Wrestler Bottle Opener: Opening a beer just got funnier.

Leather goods, like the Tolkien Leather Luggage Tag, the Customized “Dad” Leather Key Fob, or any of the custom leather goods right here.

The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music: From Adele to Ziggy, the Real A to Z of Rock and Pop: For the dad who wants to impart an appreciation of good music to the younger set.

Converse Well Worn Chuck Taylors: A timeless fashion statement that comes with that worn-in look.

Seersucker Tie: Classic and summery. A sure thing!

Here’s to all of the great dads out there — and those who love them. Happy Father’s Day!

- Ollie and BOP