How to travel internationally with kids - Part 1 Mindset

Monday, September 12

Since getting back from a 17 day trip in Europe with 3 kids five years old and younger, the main question I've been getting is HOW DO YOU TRAVEL SO FAR WITH SUCH SMALL KIDS? 

I've been thinking about this question a lot, and thought I'd do a little series on how to travel with kids. As I was reflecting on our trip, I realized that a huge part of traveling with kids is mindset, and specifically our expectations. 

A lot of people will tell you to have LOW expectations when you travel with kids. I honestly don't like this mindset, because it almost stipulates that you will have a "bad" trip...there's a negative connotation with it. The other reason I don't like this advice is because when you are sitting with a screaming child on an airplane the broad swatch of "low expectations" doesn't help you  have a new perspective. 

Instead, I like to say that it's very important to have different expectations. 

And to actually think through some of those expectations before you go. 

Here are some expectations I like to keep...

1) This trip WILL BE DIFFERENT than when I used to travel with just my spouse or a girlfriend. The reality is, traveling with just adults allows you to do a million more things in your day. Adults are self sufficient, can get themselves up and dressed, can navigate a map, can read a guidebook, can use patience to stand in a line, etc etc etc. So when I travel with kids, I usually remind myself that we will get to experience about 1-2 things that day, and if we happen to do more, it's a win! 

2) My baby will cry, and will probably want to be nursed any time and any where! And guess what? My baby did cry on the airplane over to Europe, a lot. And instead of wanting to pull my hair out, I just accepted that he is a baby and babies need their mamas. So I gave him lots of cuddles and love, and told myself that it was my choice to take this trip and I could deal with the frustration of the situation because in the long run it would be so worth it. And it was. 

3) My toddlers will need to take a snack break every 30 minutes to an hour. My kids are constantly hungry, so we absolutely pack tons of snacks when we travel. Normally when I travel with just Kevin, we power through from one amazing site to the next, but with my kiddos, I had to remember that just because we aren't home anymore, doesn't mean they still won't want to have "snack time". In remembering this, it helped me be ok taking a break. And because we were always in such beautiful places, it was fun to sit and watch my kids soak in the sites and savor the local food. 

4) My kids will fight with each other, whine, and complain. They are kids. It happens. Crossing a time zone does not take that away, haha! In understanding my kids propensity towards these things, I was better able to just deal with it as it came up, and then move on. If I didn't go in with this expectation, I could easily get SO thrown off and want to blow up in frustration and think "you are ruining the trip!!!!". But the reality is, it's going to happen, so we just distract, redirect, deal with it, and move on! 

5) "It is what it is"....this phrase helped me temper my expectations from the idealized version of my trip, to the reality of it. The first 5 days of our trip in England, Ollie threw up. The first 3 days, he threw up and then was totally fine and happy and kept he rest of his food down so I just assumed it would pass shortly. By day 4 and 5 he was not as happy, so I ended up in the Emergency Room in Manchester England with him. I spent almost an entire night there, and it would have been so easy to say "IT SHOULDN'T BE LIKE THIS!!! WHAT A WASTE OF A DAY IN ENGLAND!" But the reality is, sickness happens, and it just is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it! Turns out he had a virus and of course the day after I spent the night in the ER he was TOTALLY fine and back to normal! But sometimes we just have to use a bit of mindfulness and accept that things are the way they are. 

If you are able to write down some expectations for your kids and your family before you leave, it can really be a game changer mentally. Often we don't even know we have expectations until a situation doesn't meet them and then we are sorely disappointed. 

So...before you go on your next trip, write down what you might expect from your kids, and then when it happens it won't be any big surprise to you, and you can just accept it! 

Swedish Midsummer Party 2022

Monday, July 25

Hooray for traditions, and hosting our 3rd Swedish Midsummer Party. If you're new here, you can see the first two parties here and here

As you know, my dad is Swedish (we visit his family fairly often in Sweden & are always inspired by the landscape and style of dreamy Sweden!). So a few years ago, when I was thinking about the traditions I wanted to start with my own kids, it made so much sense to incorporate my Swedish heritage and throw a Midsummer party! 

Here's the thing I've learned...if you want to try something...GO FOR IT! Who cares if you don't know what you're doing...that's where google comes in haha! When I threw my first party 3 years ago I consulted all my cousins in Sweden, and essentially have done the same few things the last few years...

1) Swedish food! A proper midsummer party has fish, potatoes, and strawberry cake! We always add a salad, and then some fun Swedish cocktail (like the Swedish mules that had elderberry syrup in them!) My favorite salmon recipe I make is here, and you can head to my IG (@hope_ to see the recipe I made for a gluten and dairy strawberry cake with lemon curd that is delicious!! 

2) A midsummer pole! We bought a wooden dowel at Home Depot, put it into an umbrella stand, and then cut ivy or grape vines that we had growing on our fence to wrap the pole in. It's way easier than you think. 

3) Swedish dancing around the midsummer pole! There are tons of songs to dance to, but I've only learned one and its the one we do every year haha. It's a kids song called SmÃ¥ Grodorna and I found it on YouTube and learned the dance, and teach it to everyone every year. 

4) Flower Crowns! I love dressing up, and ask all my guests to wear white and don a flower crown if you're a lady! Avonlea LOVES picking out her crown each year (I bought a handful the first year on amazon so that we always have extra for guests!). Next year my goal is to try to make crowns out of real flowers! 

This year, we played a Swedish lawn game called Kub. Everett got so into it, and you can see his joy when he knocks down a pin and runs over to Emma our Vietnamese exchange student to hug her. It was the sweetest moment! 

Such a fun evening! Even though it can take some work and foresight, it's always worth it when I see the joy and giggles of my kids dancing around the midsummer pole and the adults enjoying a beautiful evening with good food and fellowship! That's the stuff summer memories are made of! xoxo 

A long time dream is coming true, and I'm so excited to share it with you!!

Thursday, June 23


{Photo by my dear friend Katie Drake}

Ok friends...I have an exciting secret to share with you about a dream that I have had in my heart for almost 10 years and that is finally going to come to fruition!!

Almost 10 years ago when we lived in Nepal, the Lord called me to switch careers from international non-profit work and go back to school to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. A very big part of why I wanted to step into this role was so that I could be used to encourage and offer care and support for expat and missionary women serving abroad.  

As I entered my therapy journey, I heard of an amazing organization called Thrive that hosts conferences for missionary women...retreats that have dedicated time to love, pamper, encourage, laugh with, and build relationships with these amazing women. Ever since I learned of them, I have wanted to serve. Between grad school, and birthing babies, and covid...the timing was just never right. 

Until now! 

Friends...this October I am headed to Prague, Czech Republic to spend 10 days volunteering with Thrive! I will be serving in a number of capacities, but one of my main roles will be offering therapy to the women who sign up to meet with me.  I literally can't believe I get to step into this special place after years of dreaming about it. (And i'm also in shock i'll get to ride an airplane alone without a child hanging off of me hahahah) 

Kevin and my family have generously agreed to love on our kids for us in this time (if you're local and want to send in reinforcements in this time, we won't say no haha) 

I would LOVE your prayers for my trip. Being home with 3 kids without much adult interaction makes me wonder if i'll remember how to be a therapist (ha!), but truly I am depending on the Lord for guidance and strength as I work with each individual woman! Serving in a foreign country can be difficult, isolating, and lonely, and my prayer is to be source of encouragement as we build relationships with love and laughter! 

I would also love to invite you to join in my support raising for this trip! I would be so grateful if you felt led to give. It always feels weird asking for money, but to be honest, I LOVE being a part of supporting others as they go out in this world, so wanted to extend the opportunity if anyone feels called! If you feel led to do so, here is the link for my giving page! 

Love you all so much, thank you for encouraging me and being a special part of my journey!! If you have any questions please let me know, I'd love to chat with you and answer! Thanks again:) 

Avonlea's Ballerina Fairy Birthday Party

Wednesday, April 20

Avonlea turned five and to celebrate we hosted a Ballerina Fairy party! It was as magical and "all things pink" as you might imagine, haha! Avonlea, of course, picked the theme, and then I just ran with it using things we had at our house. The party was mostly family members, but Avie invited a few "fairy" friends as well. I asked all the girls to come in their own ballerina tutu's, but then found super cheap fairy wings, flower crowns, and wands on Amazon and gave them to each little girl upon arrival. Their joy and excitement was contagious! 

The night before the party my parents came over to help me set up...I cleaned off an old pallet we had in our yard for the fairy's table, and hung Avonlea's canopy from her bedroom in the tree. It ended up being a very blustery day, so the canopy had to be tied up for most of the day (as the wind kept knocking over the vases with it! oh well!)

I found "fairy houses" (aka bird houses) at Michael's for a $1 each, and with a little paint and jewels, they were a very fun and whimsical craft. My dad also set up an obstacle course in our yard which was a huge hit, and all of the little girls (and little boys at the party) asked to go again and again. My dad always set up obstacle courses at our birthdays growing up, so it was so fun to see the tradition continue! 

I found all sorts of whimsical flowers at Trader joes and had fun making bouquets, as well as topping the cake with the pretty flowers and fairy cake toppers I found on amazon (here)

SUCH a fun and beautiful day, and the most important part is that Avonlea told me repeatedly how much she loved her party. She's such a little extrovert that when everyone left the party, she turned to me and said "ok mama, what are we going to do now? Should we have someone over or go to someone's house?" hahah...cue me ready to fall down dead on the couch! 

Annnddd....since we had all 3 babies within a month of one party down...and 2 to go! Let's do this!!! 

Everett took the cupcake and smashed the WHOLE thing in his mouth hahaha!! And that concludes the party folks, haha!!