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Tag Archives: Vacation

Light Airline Travel

We bought tickets to go to New Hampshire to visit family some time ago.  Though we intended to visit around July, plane fares were much cheaper for May.  We’re always looking for a better deal or a cheaper way if we can’t simply opt for minimalism.  Since we really wanted to go and can’t get plane tickets used :), we searched kayak for the best fares during different timeframes on the various airlines, found the best deal there, and then went to that particular airline’s site to find the fare even cheaper (there is a mark-up even through the discount sites- that’s how they make their money).  When purchasing, you can let them know how many bags you wish to check thereby getting a few dollars off the cost of the baggage checking.  Once I got over being infuriated that it would cost us $25-$30 each way for each bag, I decided that we could all travel with one carry-on case and one personal item (small bag) each for the seven day trip.  We had two and borrowed two from friends.

I have to admit, there was some doubt as to whether this could be done.  We are notoriously heavy, “just in case” packers.  But our newfound desire for simplicity and excitement over paring down our life for RV living made it seem possible.  It was actually quite easy given our summertime visit (lighter weight clothing).

As you can see, the kids were layered (which we like to do for plane travel anyway).  The kids’ suitcases were more full than Chris’/mine as they packed some little toys to bring in addition to the clothes.  Here’s what the heaviest packer in our family brought:

Elijah – (wore) track pants, tee shirt, socks, Crocs, & fleece (around waist mostly but also great plane blanket); (suitcase) 1 pair casual pants, 3 pairs casual shorts, 1 pair dress shorts, 4 casual tees, 2 dress shirts, 7 pairs underwear, 2 pairs socks, small bag Legos, 5 small stuffed animals, several tiny plastic animal figures/Transformers, bathing suit trunks and shirt, swim goggles, swim shoes; (backpack) Play-Doh; a few Doh tools; several small, paperback superhero books; a big teddy with his head poking out the top so he could see while traveling :); travel pillow; Nintendo DS; headphones

I did one load of laundry before we left there and snuck a couple of things in with a household load at one point.  We honestly could have gone the whole week without having had to do a wash (just barely) and there were still some things that weren’t used.  I really thought we’d have to ship the gifts from grandparents and extra purchased items home given our minimal space.  However, we were easily able to fit it all in (not necessarily in the suitcase of its owner but everything ended up back in Texas). 

This really felt amazing.  It’s becoming so clear to me how little ‘stuff’ we actually need and how happy and light we feel without it.  Our departing flight was actually changed to another airline so we had to switch airlines at Laguardia (yes- out of terminal, bus to different terminal, secure new boarding pass, go through security, etc.).  Our bags never would have made our new flight.  We felt so free and easy having everything we needed right with us!

Things to think about– 1) I had to purchase trial sizes of shampoo, conditioner, gel (for Chris’ faux hawk :)), adult and child toothpaste, razors, etc. when we arrived because of the airline restrictions of 3 oz. of liquids per person and sharp objects in the cabin.  I didn’t have anything in the house in such small quantities but we were able to bring it home- just separated into 3 oz. bags per person.  2) My kiddos are 7.5 and almost 6 years old.  They were proud and able to handle their own suitcases and backpacks (except on stairs and escalators when Chris and I would grab them in our other hand). 3) We borrowed booster seats from friends in New Hampshire so we didn’t have to lug/check ours.  I could also have tried Freecycle for them ahead of time.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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U.S.S. Alabama & U.S.S. Drum

Riding along the coast of Alabama on the way to Disneyworld, we got a bird’s eye view of the U.S.S. Alabama battleship which is permanently docked in Mobile. We decided that we would plan for this to be a stop on the way home as Chris had heard from a friend that it was quite an adventure and we can’t pass those up! True to our plan, we stopped for a lunch time break here on the way back through to Texas. The ship is unbelievably HUGE. There are 4 self-guided tours which would probably take all day to complete. We chose the yellow tour and had quite a time exploring everything from seamen and captains’ quarters to battle stations. What an amazing maze of hallways, ladders, and memorabilia. It was easy to imagine the men who lived and worked on this ship as we deciphered how messages were passed, enemies targeted, and the daily activities of life lived.

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This plane was a big hit- artistry! We moved on to the U.S.S. Drum submarine.

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Although weapons and warships are not really my gig, this was a rare opportunity for our family to step into the past and see first-hand the living situations and collossal scale of hand-to-hand combat. Wild.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Disneyworld 2009

The drive from Ft. Worth, TX to Orlando, FL with an overnight in Tallahassee was not only painless, it was downright enjoyable! Backseat DVD players, lapdesks with art supplies, and loads of snacks made for a lovely, scenic trips. There was no, “are we there yet?” but rather, “how many states have we passed through? How many are left?” Though we left the navigation to the onboard para-professional in the dashboard, the travel atlas came in handy for the kids to analyze where we had been and where we were going.
Talk about visualizing your dreams! We’ve all been wanting and planning to go to Disneyworld since our tremendous time at Disneyland last year. We all saved our money and planned our trip with joy- but hadn’t anticipated it would come so soon! Chris happened on a great deal and we chose to say, ‘yes’ even in difficult economic times. We live today and plan for tomorrow. We drove the 18 hours and saved quite a bit (not to mention bringing loads of snacks which saved money and time) and stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort in Disneyworld for 7 days for the price of 4! What a tremendous deal for an absolutely amazing time.
There were just too many great pictures and moments not to share them all so I opted for the slideshow for this post. We visited the Magic Kingdom (3 days), Epcot (1 day), Animal Kingdom (1 day) and Hollywood Studios (2 days). With a guidebook from some Disney veteran friends and some in-depth research, we never stood in line for longer than a few minutes, did everything we wanted to do (and then some) at least once (and, sometimes (like the car track), 5 times!), ate like kings, queens, and princesses, and truly lived it up.

 Even after 7 days, we were all sad to leave this magical place. It seems unbelievable that the party was not just for us but would continue everyday- even after we left. I told the kids I would like to get a job there which was met with supreme disagreement. “You can’t get a job! We are homeschoolers! You need to be at home with us!” I don’t like the Florida humidity anyway… We all feel a flutter now when we see the Disney castle before a movie begins. We saw those fireworks- on the biggest fireworks night of the year. We were there. And it was wondrous.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Back to Nature

The weather is getting amenable to camping here in Texas so we must take advantage of it before the nights get too hot. Texans scramble to the campgrounds in the spring and fall. We missed our window last year and were left yearning to camp all summer until fall rolled around again. Flipping through the Texas State Park guide made the decision of where to go that much more difficult. There are so many amazing and beautiful parks in this state- all with different climates, offerings, habitats, animals, etc. (Texas is a BIG state.) We narrowed our scope (as fairly new campers with small children) to within a 3.5 hour radius. Turns out there are some waterfalls in Austin that we haven’t seen. Did someone say Austin? It’s settled!

Since we hadn’t camped in a while (and it’s still a little chilly at night), we brought out our supplies and evaluated what needed to come. The kids were so excited that they practiced ‘sleeping’ in their new Target sleeping bags- best $11.99 ever spent (they were warm while Chris and I froze).

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This is what a waterfall during a drought looks like:

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We walked all over the amazing rock formation through which the water has worn away it’s own paths over the falls.

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Chris took the kids down through some trees and over deep chasms to the water’s edge below upper falls. There was a giant turtle sunning himself on that rock until they scared him off.

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When we wandered back to the campsite in the late afternoon, the kids still seemed tied to the picnic table/tent area. Elijah had fallen quite a bit during our travels around the falls. I was dismayed at our children’s suburban tendencies and footing. Despite the abundance of city parks and time spent outdoors, we had failed to notice that concrete paths with a distinct destination had become the norm. However, a child cannot be made to be free nor encouraged (with any success) to explore. It was clear that our enjoyment of the outdoors needed to burgeon of its own accord with time spent in its graces. So we pulled out the travel games. 🙂

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We made pizza on our propane grill and turned in shortly before (yes, before) sundown. Chris and I read several chapters of The Magician’s Nephew aloud until both children drifted off to sleep. A fire ban was in effect due to the drought conditions in the area so Chris and I stayed nestled in our sleeping bags for a couple of hours of Skip-Bo and giggling before turned out the lantern. It was a frigid night and morning. The kids were warm (though we encountered a taste of the teenage years as they wouldn’t leave their sleeping bags to brave the morning chill) all night but Chris and I froze on our new comfortable but solitary camping cots. There’s something to that whole body heat thing. While I made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, Chris and the kids did laps around the tent to keep warm. We packed a lunch in the backpack cooler and headed off for a day of exploring and hiking.

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The kids found this particularly beautiful and wanted a picture.

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There’s a reason why this hardy guy is the Texas state flower- the Bluebonnet.

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We had a picnic lunch in a dry creek bed and then stayed there for the better part of the afternoon making rock sculptures, searching for shells, exploring, and relaxing.

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We hiked in search of the rock shelter used by Native Americans to take shelter from thunderstorms. We thought this was it. The beauty of having little, adventurous scouts! The kids went through a hole in the rock to the other side and found that the trail continued. Chris and I went through on hands and knees and each of the dogs was set free to navigate her own way. Then we found the rock shelter- much more dramatic.

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A significant amount of hiking later, we found ourselves back to the campsite for some UNO.

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And viewing of inchworms, etc.

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Of course if we’re in the vicinity of Austin, we have to spend some time on South Congress St. We hit Magnolia Cafe for some lunch on the way out of town and the kids and I happily wandered S. Congress while Chris had some finishing work done at Southside Tattoos. What a wonderful weekend!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2009 in Family

 

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A Whirlwind Tour of New England

We ventured north to visit family and friends in New Hampshire and Massachusetts!

Sadie spent hours in Grampa’s office. She took over his second drafting table and was serious about highlighters and geometric print-outs- loving every minute of it.

Steph’s kitchen still feels like home. We were back in the fold with our unschooling pals in NH. Above Bryar and Sadie make paper bag pumpkins.

Elijah plays trains with Caden and Cavan.

This picture had to go in as Elijah is watching one of his parents’ favorite childhood shows- Smurfs!

Awww. Grammy and Grampa’s dog, Rudy, sneaks a snuggle with the kids on their way to dreamland.

Shortly after we moved, the town playground was revamped. We brought Grammy over to check it out.

We give it a thumbs up!

We went bowling with Grammy and look what they have! There was a lot less blowing on the ball with this cool ramp to give it some oomph. Sadie wants to bowl regularly now since seeing Grammy’s cool hot pink ball and stylin’ pink and black shoes.

Tremendous fun to be had with Great Grammy and Great Grampa and some makeshift hats.

Then out for some Japanese food with Grampy and Auntie Kristina! Wow- look at those flames. Chris and I have been going to this restaurant since we were first together. We love the entertainment that culminates in great food.

Here the kids with Grampy and Auntie Kristina check out the giant fish in the entryway fish tank.

Parking lot photo op. 🙂

We caught the tail-end of the foliage and it made for a beautiful drive down to Massachusetts.

We spent a wonderful afternoon with Auntie Amy, Uncle Jay, Emmie, and Ian. It was amazing to see how much fun the kids could fit into one afternoon. There was backyard play, lunch, coloring, dress-up, cars, and tons more. We even hit the local playground in the evening chill. 

Papa came over on his motorcycle for a visit. It was just like old times!

G.G.’s recuperating from a broken hip. We went to visit her at the nursing home. The kids spent some time talking with her about the fish and cockatiel in the entry.

What’s a trip to Westfield without Stanley Park? This is the most gorgeous park I’ve ever been to and we love to visit. The gardens are preparing for winter but we fed the (very) friendly ducks, geese, and swan, wandered around the pond, and- of course- spent some time at the playground.

Chris, Elijah (hiding), Sadie, and Mema stroll along the path around the pond.

It’s a rare day when the Parent 4 can get in a picture all together. Mema took this great picture for us.

Sweet goodbyes. It was a fun-filled, chilly, and exhausting 6 days. We were saturated in love and joy and returned on our way.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Reminiscent of California

Here are some gorgeous photos that were taken by our friend Todd while picnicking in the Santa Ynez Valley. See more of Todd’s amazing work.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Get Ready, Daddy!

We hit the salon before flying home to see Daddy. Though I can cut Sadie’s hair, she has been dying to go and have her hair done by someone else. Gloria fit the bill! She was so great. Sadie feels very stylish with her short, little bob (see subsequent posts). Elijah did his usual head toss to show his stylist what his hair must still be able to do (fly around and hit him in the face) after it is cut. He was very happy with his results as well.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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