Are Agnes & Dora Clothes Good for Travel?

When my friend Nicole F. asked if I was interested in reviewing Agnes & Dora apparel for her, I was definitely curious. I had already seen a lot of women talking about these clothes on mommy boards and Instagram. Rewind to a few weeks before when my youngest daughter was helping me shop for clothes. She kept bringing me things I would never, never pick on my own, but that looked great once I tried them on. Though we didn’t buy anything that day, I made a mental note that I needed to be more open to my daughter’s suggestions. Everyone who knows her knows that she has a wicked sense of style rivaling that of Iris Apfel. So when Nicole asked me if I would pick something to try from her store, I asked her if I could let Kati pick something for me.

Look how cute it was packaged.

You see, I’m one of those people that is always in jeans and a geek themed t-shirt. Today I was getting ready for Comic Con International and I sewed/glued a batgirl cowl. I’m not really girly. But my daughter is. And she picked one of the more feminine options Nicole offered. I complied, eager to test my theory that my daughter can dress me better than I dress myself. You can see the results for yourself.

The big reveal!

Besides looking fabulous, I felt fabulous, too. One of my favorite things about this outfit is that the skirt is actually a cool and stretchy, perfect for a warm day like today, even though it looks like denim. Also, the skirt has pockets! Who doesn’t love pockets? The ruffles on the shirt are cute and also feel like the perfect length. If you’re wondering if Agnes & Dora is for you, I would definitely give them a try. Just make sure to follow the washing and drying instructions so you don’t ruin your cute new clothes.

Perfect for Travel

Have you ever left the airport feeling like a giant, dirty sock? I can totally relate. One of the things I love about these clothes is that they are comfortable, versatile, and they don’t get all wrinkled. If you want to feel wonderful while still looking fresh after jet setting, these are great travel clothes. I have heard that they are great for nursing and postpartum as well because they are stretchy and fit several sizes at once. Nice. Also the stretch helps them not to get wrecked when your child inevitably pulls on them (it’s not just my kids, right?).

To find out what Nicole F. Has in stock, please check out her ADorablessed Facebook group. She is super kind and helpful and she works so hard to make sure her customers have the best experience. Also she’s a mother of two very adorable kiddos, so spread the mommy love!

Happy Travels!

Kristin

London to Paris for Cheap – Ouibus

We went to meet my Father-in-law during our Easter Break, since he had to go to England for work. The trip was wonderful, and I learned even more about the art of traveling with children (it’s an art, trust me). My oldest daughter is obsessed with Paris and since my FIL had taken my husband to Paris when he was 9, and my oldest is 9, FIL asked if we could find a way to get the whole family (6 of us total) from London to Paris for less than eight hundred dollars.

Challenge accepted.

London to Paris for Cheap!

I scoured the internet for the cheapest travel options. There are severals ways to travel, through the English Channel in a giant metro car for cars and buses, by ferry, by train, or by plane. If you find a good flight, they can be as cheap as $120 per person. But flights through budget airlines don’t go every day, and that might not work out if you have a limited amount of travel time like we did. I found a flight for 6 for around 800 dollars, but the days were impossible with our schedule. The next thing I looked up was the train. In general, trains in England are expensive. I learned that when I traveled from Manchester to Liverpool, but outside the country, man… so much money. The train tickets I found on the dates we wanted to travel were around 600 per person. Yikes! I saw an add in London for 20 pound train tickets to Paris, but psh… when I looked them up again online, there were none to be found. I’m sure a few exist, because if not that would be false advertising, but I couldn’t find them. The next avenue I checked was taking a train to a ferry and then another train from the ferry to Paris. This was cheaper than flying or the normal train, but it was still above my budget. Finally, I found a company called Ouibus. I found tickets for all of us for around three hundred dollars. But then I saw they had an overnight bus which was more expensive, but would save us two nights of accomodation expenses. The total for six overnight bus tickets from London to Paris was under 450 dollars. Sweet, right? Little did I know that two late night adventures were in store.

On the bus!
On the bus!

The First Leg… London to Paris

The way there, we got onto the bus at 9. The bus station in London is easy to find, and the seating is adequate. We boarded the bus after they checked our tickets and passports and got ready for sleep. The seats reclined, a lot! The seats were comfy and the bus in general was nice and clean. The only problem was that we left on Friday night, and apparently the top floor of the double-decker bus turns into a party bus on Friday nights. In fact, at one point the couple across from us was watching pornography on a laptop. Thank God the kids were asleep. The paper they give you for the night bus asks you to shut off your devices and stay quiet once 10 pm comes. On the way there no one followed this rule. Maybe bring an eye shade and ear plugs?

The Bus Driver and The Guy He Wanted to Strangle

When we stopped at the border control between England and France, they let me stay on the bus with the sleeping kids while Travis went through passport control and customs (with six backpacks). That was super nice of them. When we went the other way we had to wake the kids up and drag them through the line. Thankfully they insisted we went to the front. That was nice. All the people with kids got to go first. Back to the first leg… so once we got through passport control we were waiting in line for the giant train to take the bus through the English Channel. But there was a mall near the passport control, and one passenger from the bus took an hour and a half walk around the closed mall. Because we had to wait for him, we missed our spot on the giant train which left. Then we had to wait for two more trains because both were full of buses and cars that didn’t miss their reservation. The bus driver told everyone (In French, a neighbor translated for us) that, “Now we have to wait for two hours because of this guy. I would prefer to strangle him, but the least he can do is buy everyone coffee.” He didn’t… and we sat in the hot bus for two hours as we waited for the train. Ok, so the idea that your bus is in a giant train (which reminded me of a giant metro car) is cool. I found the whole process fascinating, but eventually sleep took over and I didn’t wake until we were out of the train thingy. My FIL got out and walked around outside the bus. He said there were even bathrooms in the train. Nice! We got to our Airbnb two hours late, but our host was understanding.

From Paris to London

As soon as it turned 10 pm, a business man next to us asked every person on their phone or listening their music to stop. Score! We were able to rest in peaceful silence. Then we found out the tunnel was closed because of a bomb threat. Instead, the bus drove to a ferry, and we got out of the bus and found a place to camp out on the ferry. By the time we got off of the bus, most sleeping spots were occupied… one lady was sitting on a couch with a bench and five chairs around her. We asked if we could join her and she said, “Well my husband is coming, I need room for him.” I’m a polite person. At least I try to be, but I was tired, and I was dragging three half-asleep children through a giant ferry. I also hate confrontation and I would have just avoided her after that. I think my husband was surprised when I replied, “Well can’t your husband sit next to you on the couch. Even if you both want to lie down, there are five chairs here, can’t we use the chairs?” She rolled her eyes at me and nodded. I guess eye rolling is universal. The kids ate a few pieces of toast and sausage my FIL had gotten them and promptly fell asleep. British people know how to do breakfast. The food was amazing. My hubby got me a fried egg and a piece of wheat toast and I ate, then fell asleep with my middle cutie asleep on my lap. An announcement came over the ferry PA for people to head to their vehicles, and people rushed below to the buses, trucks, and cars. We hopped back on our bus and everyone went to sleep for a few more hours.

In Conclusion

If you want to go from Paris to London, or the other way, and you have lots of wiggle room in your schedule, the Ouibus is awesome. You can’t beat the price. Just remember to bring ear plugs and eye shades. Oh, and neck pillows.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Our Family’s Favorite Christmas Movies

It’s that time of year again, and our house is full of twinkling Christmas lights, nativity scenes, and friendly snowmen. We take Christmas seriously in the Spencer family. We also get watch our Christmas movie collection, which we only watch during the month of December. The kids get so excited to watch their favorite Christmas movies, and we have a few adult movies too that Travis and I enjoy watching every year together.

I was looking for a list of family friendly Christmas movies online, but I couldn’t find one that actually had reviews or reasons why they have the movies on the list. It seems like people are making lists that have Christmas movies, listing them simply because they are winter or holiday related, not taking into account whether they are actually worthy of watching or not. Well I plan to put an end to that foolishness right now. Whether you are staying home for the holidays or traveling to a loved one’s house, I am putting together a list of our favorite Christmas movies. All of these movies have been tested by my family, and are family friendly, and fun to watch. If you decide to purchase any of these movies, click on the title and it will take you straight to Amazon (yes they are affiliate links, hey, every little bit helps during the holidays, right?).

favorite christmas movies_1

For Christian Families

Small One

This Disney classic is about a little boy and his donkey, Small One, as they take an adventure that is full of endings and beginnings. It makes me cry every time (yes me, the grown adult woman). I could only find it as part of the Disney Animation Collection 7, which is a bit pricey on Amazon, but it has some of the best Disney Christmas cartoons including, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” and “Pluto’s Christmas.”

VeggieTales: St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

You can get this on instant download which means you can play it on your various digital devices. This is a cute and funny story that includes Greece, which makes me very happy. We love this movie and it’s message. Jesus is the reason!

Classics

The Original Christmas Classics Gift Set

This set has 7 classic cartoons/claymation films. It includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The Little Drummer Boy among others. These are definitely some of our favorite movies to watch together as a family. Just make sure you are with your little ones while you watch Rudolph because the Snow Bumble can be a bit scary.

It’s A Wonderful Life (Black & White Version)

You can also download this film for your digital devices. This classic film makes the entire family happy and thoughtful. We watch it while making Christmas cookies every year. It is iconic, appropriate for the entire family, and has many great points for holiday lessons that your family can discuss.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

This classic tale told through the lens of Jim Henson’s Muppets is creative, touching, and also hilarious. The songs are guaranteed to get stuck in your head. Our kids walk around the house singing “We’re Marley and Marley,” all through the Christmas season. It also stars Michael Caine, and he is as stupendous in this as he is in everything else.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

This DVD & Digital Copy combo pack is perfect for any modern family. It a great version of the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and it is short, which is better for families with small children. My son loves seeing all his favorite classic Disney characters playing different parts in this wonderful and thrilling tale.

favorite family christmas movies

A Garfield Christmas

This fun film from the 1980’s has an amazing sound track, is great for a few laughs, and also very heart warming. I would probably watch this even if I didn’t have any kids. Jon and his brother Doc Boy are hilarious, behaving as children even though they are now grown men. Grandma is also a feisty and lovable character.

Modern Christmas Movies

Elf

We quote this movie all throughout the year, but sitting together and watching it as a family is a special occasion that warrants popcorn, hot chocolate, and various other holiday goodies. I remember seeing it in the movie theater with my friends before I met my husband, or had any children of my own, and even back then I knew this film was special. Buddy the elf is a human that has been raised in the North Pole as one of Santa’s elves. Once he finally figures out that he isn’t actually an elf, he embarks on a quest to find his father, on a road to self discovery. This movie has many funny parts, and your entire family will laugh the entire way through. Innocent enough for kids (with a few references that will fly over their heads like a negligee as a gift for his father, and “syrup” aka alcohol in a friend’s coffee), and entertaining for adults as well. Buddy the elf has an innocence we all wish for as we head into another holiday season. He is unspoiled.

“Not now arctic puffin.”

Arthur Christmas

This is by far my favorite modern Christmas movie. It is full of good holiday themed lessons for the kids, and has an interesting plot. Plus Hugh Laurie and James McAvoy are the voices of two main characters. A family in the Santa business must decide who will be the next Santa, and what to do about a child that didn’t get their present delivered.

“Arthur! Do you really think you can row the Atlantic Ocean in the next thirty-seven minutes?”

Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas

Can you tell my kids love Mickey yet? This is a modern collection of new stories with our favorite classic Disney characters. The 3D animation is actually pretty impressive and the stories are exciting and have good lessons and excitement all in one.

There is also the original Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas that is done in traditional 2D animation. It also has some interesting fun and new stories.

The Santa Clause Trilogy

What happens when Santa has an accident and doesn’t recover? These three films staring Tim Allen are very entertaining. Even though my children don’t believe in Santa, they still have fun watching these intelligent and funny films. When Scott, an ambitious business man that doesn’t make enough time for his son, accidentally scares Santa off of his roof, an adventure unfolds about how Santa must be replaced. My kids particularly like the second film, where Santa must find a wife in order to fulfill the Mrs. Clause.

“Mother Nature: Jack Frost, You are hereby charged with 273 counts of attempted upstaging of Santa Claus. You froze a volcano in Hawaii. You made it snow in the Amazon. And you frosted Mexico, sending all of the geese north for the winter. You have violated the Legendary Figures Code of Conduct in a manner that is both willful and malicious.

Jack Frost: Excuse me… Did you just accuse me of being skillful and delicious.”

Frozen

Ok, it’s not actually about Christmas, but it is wintery and wonderlandy (yes I made that word up). There is a reason this film is so popular. It is a story about two sisters that must find a way to counter act supernatural powers that has one sister fleeing to live in solitude. I don’t want to give away anything, but the music and fun characters makes this movie unique and inspiring. It is adapted from a book, The Snow Queen, written by the master fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

I hope you have many warm nights by the fire (or the heater if you are like me and don’t have a fireplace) this Christmas.

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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Renewing US Passport for a Minor

Update 21 April 2016: A reader commented that the passport website has been adjusted to include requirements under a new category titled “Evidence of Parental Relationship.” This requirement explains why they need the birth certificate. Thanks Lily!!

Today we took a sizable trek down to the fortress, also knows as the US Embassy in Athens, Greece. It is one of the most formidable embassies I have ever been to. It was the first time we have ever had to apply for a passport renewal for any of our kids. Our girls’ are coming up on their expirations dates, which means it has almost been 5 years since we moved out of the US… wow! Time flies. So it was time for us to go through the steps of renewing a US passport for a Minor.

In order to be able to get in to renew your passport at the Athens US Embassy first you have to make an appointment. The appointments usually fill up months in advance, but we were able to get the girls in only one week later. Our appointment was for today, so you can imagine that yesterday I spent a few hours taking passport photos and filling out forms. I looked at the “Special Requirements” for minors at least three times, and felt confident that we had everything that was going to be required. In fact, here is a screen shot of the requirements on their website.

US minor passport renewal

Notice the word “One.” I am a stickler for being prepared (as you are well aware), so I made sure I had one of those items. Then when finally got into the passport area the morning and they called our number the woman kept saying, “Well, you need their birth certificates in addition to their current passports.” I pointed out that I checked the website several times and it said that the kids current passports would suffice, which makes sense because in order to get their passports in the first place, you have submit a copy of their birth certificate. So it should be somewhere in some record. But apparently they need to update their website, because Travis had to come all the way back home, and then take the Birth Certificates to the office before they would start processing them.

So… if you are applying to renew a passport for a minor, make sure you have you the child’s birth certificate. You also have to make sure both parents are present with the child to take an oath that all of the information is correct as far as you know. This is a great practice so one parent can’t get a passport and take off with their child without the other one knowing about it. If you both can’t appear, there is paperwork and notarization you can do to prove both parents consent to the child getting a passport. For more specific information check out their website here.

So there you, now you WILL be prepared. And yes, there are passport photo tales coming soon. Trying to take Timo’s passport photo was extremely challenging, hahaha.

Happy Travels,

Kristin