The Little Things – Thoughts For This Holiday Season

With the holiday season coming up, I have been thinking about ways to bless my kids. That has caused a lot of reflection on my own childhood, and the more I think about it, the more I come to one conclusion: It’s the little things.

This winter, as you are traveling or staying home, you can make this the best holiday season your children have ever had by doing small things that convey how much you love them. The key is to do things that your children will remember. As I look back at my childhood, I do remember a lot of the big things that my parents did. When I was 16 I got a drum set for Christmas, which was epic, because I was in drumline. My memories from being a small child are a lot different. I don’t necessarily remember the amazing gifts I got, or trips to Disneyland. What I really remember are the small, but genuine acts of kindness that were displayed to me by my family.

My brother and I as kids. Adorable, right?
My brother and I as kids. Adorable, right?

If I think about my own children and the things they remember, a private tea party with Mommy ranks way higher than a trip to the zoo (although they do love the zoo). Why? Because tea parties involve me spending time with them, baking cookies, making tea, and sitting around chatting about whatever they want to chat about. I know you are starting to get the idea, but to emphasize my point, I am going to share a few things that I vividly remember from being a small girl. They are in no particular order.

The Little Things

1. Uncle Mike drew hearts and smiley faces on my peanut butter toast.

2. Aunt Sherry never made me feel like she was watching me because my mom was working, it always felt like she was having me over just because she wanted to spend time with me (I actually never made the correlation until I was a teenager). She made me the BEST peanut butter sandwiches.

3. Aunt Stephanie let us all sleep over, like every Friday night, all through summer. In the morning she always made us heart shaped waffles!

4. Mom used to take us for walks around the neighborhood and we would all talk. That is one of my earliest memories.

5. Dad would drive me to far away practices, even though he was exhausted. One time he drove me to a hockey game, and it ended up being an away game. It turned into one of my best times with him because we spent the whole day alone, and he ended up teaching me how to drive.

6. My brother would dress us as an astronaut with me and spend hours playing space ship. Everything was made out of cardboard, including our helmets.

7. Uncle Dave singing. Him and my dad both have amazing voices. He also would give me the biggest hugs!

8. Aunt Ellen always made me feel important. She listened carefully to whatever I had to say. Plus she was the best preschool teacher ever! I hung out with her before class some mornings and she would make me oatmeal.

9. We used to have holidays where there were too many people were smashed into a small house, the more people the better. I always felt loved, and like I was part of something big that mattered. My favorite part was being around family and friends, the presents were always secondary joys.

Now look back at my list and try to find something that costs a lot of money. These memories involve time and sacrifice. That is what makes a child feel special. I hope during your big holiday plans, that you make time for big memories that won’t cost you a cent.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Taking Small Children to Disneyland

I have been wanting to write an article about this for a long time, but it was only recently that I was able to go to Disneyland with all three of my children. We went for my husband’s birthday during August. It was amazing! There were a lot of new things I hadn’t seen or experienced yet, and my five year old was definitely in a state of wonder. I could go on and on about every fun thing we did, but the point of this post is to help you do as much as you can during your Disney day without causing the small members of your family to have a mental breakdown. So join me in my journey today as we discuss taking small children to Disneyland, California.

Pick a Park

There are two separate amusement parks, Disneyland and California Adventure. There are amazing things to do at both parks, but there is no way you can do everything in both parks in one day. One of the best ways to check out the parks is to visit Disneyland’s official website here. If you are headed on a family vacation just to go to these parks I recommend the 7 Day Park Hopper passes. They are the best value and you will have plenty of time to do everything in both parks. If you don’t have 7 days, then I would go with the 3-Day Park Hopper. If you are only going for one day, pick one park.

Inside California Adventure.
Inside California Adventure.

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Countdown – Road Trip America

Road Trip America

I have been on a bit of a hiatus attending my beautiful cousin’s wedding in amazing Colorado. In two days we are leaving for an insane road trip all the way across America. We will be leaving from Colorado, heading to Virginia, and then back to California.

I am really excited and I can’t wait to share our road tripping experience with you all, sharing our tips and tricks for a fun family road trip. Plus I will also be sharing our money saving tips!! *insert big smile*

Get ready America, the Spencer family is coming!!!

Why I Love Traveling With A Family

These last two weeks have been crazy. We have been repainting our apartment and helping our neighbors, that have three young children, make the huge move from Greece to Canada. Helping them pack reminded me all over again why I have poured myself into this blog for the last three years.

Traveling with kids is difficult. There are so many things that could go wrong, and a successful trip is usually successful because of all the “accidents” you plan for, just in case. I always pack like my oldest will get car sick, when she doesn’t. I always pack extra clothes for accidents and spills that do not always occur. I double check three separate times to make sure I haven’t forgotten our passports, even though the odds are that I won’t forget them.

Family day at the zoo in Athens, Greece.
Family day at the zoo in Athens, Greece.

When I think about all the different what-ifs that I plan for, it makes traveling with my family seem like maybe it’s just too much trouble to deal with. But then I step back and get a look at the bigger picture, my children are exploring and understanding the world. Traveling helps them reach outside of themselves and take a look at people and cultures that are completely different than anything I could offer them on my own. They ask questions they have never asked before. They think about things that would have never crossed their cute, spongy minds otherwise. They make important memories, and connections with the people within and outside of our family. These are the reasons why I spend so much time teaching people how to plan for the what-ifs of traveling with a family!! Because I don’t want you to miss out on the joy of all of these wonderful and marvelous moments because your child is walking around, completely uncomfortable in stained and smelly clothing all day. I don’t want you to lose your mind because your child is so thirsty and hungry that they are insufferable because you forgot to pack some snacks and water bottles. I give out all of these tips not to sound like a cranky nay-sayer, but because I care about the quality of your family time! I want you to have the best trip possible, every trip. I want you to love traveling with a family as much as I do.

Sure there are many times when I’m completely exhausted and all I want to do is sleep, or have five minutes of quiet. However,

I wouldn’t trade any of our indescribable moments growing as a family for an ounce of my missing sanity.

Do I travel with three kids under 7 because I have to? Yes. But I also do it because I love it, and my family loves it! Would we travel if we didn’t have to? I really believe we would.

So when you are browsing around this website and you wonder why I have written over 200 articles on how to have a great trip traveling with a family, it’s because I want you to have a blast with your kids, just like my husband and I do!

Now, where is everyone going this summer?

Happy travels,

Kristin

Find the Cutes – Kickstarter Campaign

Vincent, the creator of “Find the Cutes” a search and find playbook for children, asked me if I would let you all know about the Kickstarter campaign for his cute and labor intensive book. You can look at the Kickstarter page here.

Cutes kickstarter (10)

Good luck on your endeavor Vincent!!