So begins the strategic planning of how much stuff can I stuff into my kids travel bags ( hoping there is enough room to shove my overflow). The night before is always a little bit of ” oh yeah, I might need that” and then no matter how much you put together you always forget something. Well we are finally going on a family vacation. We took some time off but we are back to our lots of travel and crazy fun family time. I homeschool my kids so I get lets of time with them , but there is something to be said about maintaining the status quote and then quality time. Quality time of enjoying the small moments and actually being in the moment. So after two weeks of planning everything we will be taking. I am now sitting on my bedroom floor to take a mental moment and type this up ( oh I am also playing technical support to my son’s Kindle). Yes we allow screen time especially when travel days are long. This trip was planned exactly 11 months ago. It is a nail biting experience of waiting on an online queue for the dates you want to be released. So here I am packing all the things that had forgotten about the last two weeks.
The joys of traveling with kids. I love being able to allow time out of our schedule and to budget so that these moments can happen. It can be very stressful preparing for the big day but it is 100% worth it because I have so many great memories of traveling the world with my family as a child. I am happy that our kids can experience the same. My husband and I are a frugal budgeting family. We save every spare penny to go into our travel funds. Instead of getting big toys we spend them on experiences.
My tips for traveling with kids even though I am no expert is to be as calm as possible. Get that extra coffee and enjoy. I always try to make a list of things that must go with my kids. Enough outfits, toiletry items and those extra socks . Then I see the bag situation and revamp my plan. Ok what else can I fit in that 5X7 pocket. I am notorious for taking my kids luggage real estate. Each one of my kids will have a random mommy item in them (if there is extra space). Give yourself lots of patience you can plan all you want but the day is going to go how it is going to go. Make sure you have everything confirmed, reservations, plane tickets, car rentals etc. If something is going to be wrong I rather it be wrong from the comfort of my home before heading out. Always make sure you have that comfort item you toddler loves. His old teddy bear etc. kids need that when they are in an unfamiliar environment. Always pack a spare outfit in your carryon incase your luggage decides to take a different vacation. My last piece of advice is have fun. The best memories are the ones not planned, yeah the airport lost your luggage ( that is always why you pack a spare in your carry on), your child had a complete end of the world meltdown in the lobby or you loose your passport. Guess what, a year or so after you are going to look back and most likely laugh at that instead of having a mommy time out to cry.
Another weekend and another hiking trip. Did I mention we go for nature walks and hikes often. Something about getting back to our roots is a comfort. The primal instinct to go walking around in nature and to be apart of it. Lets think at one time human kind didn’t know that there was a possibility of living inside the way we do today. To never leave ones home or just sit outside to get some fresh air. Our life is not designed to always live a life of recycled air from a building ( I love AC when it is super hot outside). We are meant to be apart of the Earth’s pulse. That is why when no matter what is going on in our family life. When we step out onto that trail it gives you a sense of clarity. My mom always use to say to me ” go out and get some of that vitamin D.”
Our trip was a beautiful sunny day. It has been very cold and wet lately so it was great to finally see the sun. Though is was sunny the wind still had a bite to it. My family and I bundled up and hit the trail. It was so peaceful. We only came across one other family when walking. You can imagine how quiet the woods was. My kids explored some of the tree bases looking in their nooks and crannies. My daughter has this amazing wild imagination ( I hope she always has it). She was imaging that those were little fairy homes. When she got home that night she of course had to draw some of the tress with fairies coming out of them. The woods even though it was sunny they still have that deep shadowing. It has that effect of pulling a blanket close to your face to bring you comfort at night. Where we hiked the whole forest is all pine trees, so there were millions of pine needles lining our path. Oh and the aroma of those pine needles every step released the smell on the ground. It was a moment of clarity that my family needed. To just step out into the world and explore the big and little things it has to offer. I was able to do a lot of photography ( I will share that throughout this month on my Instagram) which is one of my many outlets in life. I love being able to capture that moment in time and to look back at it years from now and appreciate it even more. I have always loved photography. It wasn’t until I was in collage and majored in art was I able to get better at getting that great shot.
When I was a child one of the many trips I took growing up was to the Caribbean. We used to stay at St Johns National Park. We would rent this little primal cottage that was maybe 20 feet from the beach. The cottage had 4 twin beds, a ice chest , no running water or a bathroom, a hot plate, and a broom. It had two cement walls and two screen walls to give you a cross breeze. There were an abundance of wild donkeys brought in for the sugar cane trade and endless lizards and mongoose. You would walk 1/2 mile down to a hand pump to get water and there was an outdoor restroom with showers and toilets. Every morning we would wake up gather water and then go snorkeling ( I swear I was a fish in my past life). We would snorkel for hours. The water there is this vibrant aqua. You can see for miles when snorkeling. I remember taking these disposable underwater cameras and taking hundreds of pictures of fish and coral reefs. My sister and I would swim all day until sundown. Anyhow we needed to head into main town to gather some more food items ( we had packed all our food in luggage bags this was back when they didn’t charge you per ounce for your luggage). We had this loaf of bread. Oh bread did I mention nothing beats an amazing bread. That perfect bread with an amazing hard crust and soft inside…. yum. Well to get to town you had to take a “safari truck” which was basically a truck that you would all pile in the back open cab ( thank god because it was so hot). Well my mother , sister and I we all set out to town to pick up grocery items and of course….. butter. Yummy amazing butter to go with our bread. We arrive at the grocery store in our safari truck. We asked the driver to wait for us that we would only be a few minutes. We got our small grocery list of fresh fruits and vegetables. When we get to the butter section, we had a choice of Danish or Irish butter. We chose the Irish ( so good) and head back to our truck. Almost instantly our perfect decadent butter starts to melt. The sure panic of knowing at this moment that this butter had become our only mission. That all we would dream of was having that bread with some butter on it. We quickly thought ok maybe get it out of the sun. Nope, doesn’t matter because it still feels like over 100 degrees. Maybe if we wrap our hat around it. Nope, now we just have a butter flavored hat. Our cab driver just couldn’t stop laughing at our problem solving skills getting us no where. Who can blame him, three people scrambling to figure out how we were going to get this butter back to our cottage. Finally we came up with the idea of holding it up and off the side of the truck with the wind blowing. In hindsight that isn’t how science works, but it made us think it was working. Our cab driver dropped us off at the park where we still had a three mile walk to our cottage. We gave him a good laugh for the day. On our way to our cottage, did I forget to mention wild donkeys, yeah they like butter too. Now we have dripping butter down our arms and a herd of wild donkeys hoping that we would drop it so they could have it. We get to our cottage put the butter in our small little ice chest. All that was left was just enough for a few slices of bread. Guess what though that story never gets old. I was just 9 years old when we took that trip. I remember that story though like it just happened. I always say its the little moments that make the best memories. Yes I know this was on a vacation trip, but it still makes a great family story.
You know how when you first start out on the journey of parenthood. However you got there: adoption, surrogacy, birth, foster, etc. You had all these big plans of my kid will never do this, my kid will never do that. Then it happens that big moment when you realize oh that’s right I was ” the best parent ever before I had kids.” Lets just say you knew a lot about parenting before you became one and then when you became one you were just like “oh now I get it.” Sometimes it’s just survival mode. The baby or toddler is up all night. You haven’t slept in days and at this point you will just be happy to have a quick shower to feel human and a 2o minute power nap. The thing is though as parents we are all in it together. The end goal is help shape these little humans to grow up, do something, and be happy. I know some of us have these dreams of what we want our child to become whether that be a prodigy piano player, or a life altering doctor. My hope is to one day have my children grow up to be happy adults. Happy with the outcome in the choices they make. Happy that they know how to work through difficult situations. I want them to have a great foundation so that while they are out there building themselves to become who they want to become that they have a good base to start with. Yes some walls do get pushed down in life and some walls never get rebuilt. It is their story and since every person is unique so is that path.
Our house can sometimes be a chaotic, noise filled place. Through all that noise though one thing I hear above all that commotion is laughter. Yes nothing turns out the way we see our paths starting. Yes sometimes our paths take us in a completely 180 way. I hope for my children though is to grow up and know how to find that happiness.
Nothing beats getting some fresh air out in nature. Close your eyes and imagine. You are walking along a trail all you can hear is your footsteps, along with small rustles in the leaves. You hear the soft drip of rain drops falling onto the leaves and then slowly onto the ground. You take in a deep breath of fresh air. You can smell wet leaves along with a hint of evergreen. You feel relaxed and at peace with your surroundings.
We did our annual new years hike. This is a hike tradition we try to keep up with every year. Yes we hike often with our kids but it is something special about a fresh start to the new year. Getting some much needed mountain air. Where we live it is very cold in the winter. We bundle the kids up wear some boots and hit the trail. It was such a chilly damp day. The type of damp that unless you are warming up by a woodstove you never feel warm. It still gave a sense of comfort walking around in the forest. Growing up I was always hiking with my mom. We camped a lot in the summer and early fall. We were always on an adventure to some place or something. I don’t know if I dragged her along for the ride or she me. Some of the best memories you have as a child are the ones that weren’t a planned event or even a big event. My best memories were just having fun out in the wilderness with my family. No big moments just memories.
The great outdoors is in my families soul. Hiking and camping is a generational thing. I am glad we can keep it going with my family. I hope one day my kids will pass it onto their kids and so on.
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