Adventures

The Good, The Bad, The Beefarino: Why We Travel with Small Children

I think this picture is about the most accurate depiction of what it is like to travel with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. My oldest daughter is having the time of her life, basking in the glory that is a pink, sparkly horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of San Antonio, her new stuffed purple shark from Sea World within arm’s reach. My one-year-old is having a complete, nap-deprived tantrum. Did I mention it is Mother’s Day? Did I mention the horse had just eaten an entire can of Beefarino? I’m kidding on that last part of course (Seinfeld-reference) but traveling with small children, whether by car or plane, is no joke!

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So why do we do it?

I love traveling. There is something about getting away and exploring a new place that completely fills my soul. I think the best part of taking family vacations, even if they’re a modest trip to a hotel (with a pool…always with a pool) in a nearby city, is the time we get to focus only on our little family of four. I’m not thinking about laundry or groceries, I try to keep work thoughts to a minimum, and I’m able to really just be with the ones I love the most.

As chaotic as it can be, I find that almost immediately after returning from a trip with the girls, I only remember the good things. If I think hard enough I can conjure up the images of my one-year-old screaming her lungs out on the airplane or my three-year-old’s disgusting love of using any and all drinking fountains she encounters. Instead I remember their laughter at the sea lions at Sea World, my baby swimming for the first time, and my oldest daughter smiling through every moment of her princess carriage ride. The happy memories always overshadow the inconveniences of traveling with littles ones and make it oh so worth it.

I want to instill this love of exploring in my daughters, and give them memories of fun times during which I was entirely and completely focused on them. And I don’t even want a stuffed purple shark. The only souvenir I need is the happy memories and the fun, focus, and willingness to go with the flow that I hope will linger into our everyday life long after we return.

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In My House

One More Week to Sign Up for Jord Gift Card Giveaway!

There is just one more week remaining to sign up for a free Jord gift card. You can use it toward purchasing a beautiful time piece like mine below.

Enter Here!

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The giveaway will be open until June 24 and the winner will be announced right here on A HOUSE WITH CHARACTER.

Books

Books: The Lonely Hearts Hotel

I’m back after a bit of a blogging hiatus! If you’re in the mood for some good summer reading, I highly recommend The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. It’s not necessarily a light, summery, beach read. It’s dark, but beautifully written.

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The story centers around two orphans who meet and fall in love despite a plethora of sad circumstances in Montreal in the early 20th century. They try to make a life for themselves in the world of performing arts in the 1920s and 1930s. O’Neill creates moving dialogue and imagery.

I have loved historical fiction since I first began reading as a young child, and this booked paired a great and different love story with a trip back in time. This was the first piece I have read by O’Neill, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work. Pick this one up and throw it in your beach bag.

In My House

Jord Wooden Watches: The Perfect Gift, a Discount, and a Giveaway

Until a few days ago, I didn’t own a watch. I told time by the placement of the sun, or, more accurately, by digging my iPhone out of my giant handbag. There had to be a better way. That better way turned out to be this beautiful wooden watch from Jord. I have partnered with Jord to offer A HOUSE WITH CHARACTER readers a chance to win a $100 gift card. All readers are eligible to use a discount code to receive 10 percent off any order.

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You know I’m a sucker for cool packaging, and Jord’s packaging is absolutely perfect. My watch arrived in a sturdy wooden box, comfortably resting on an adorable burlap pillow. The box also contained a special cloth and cleaning pen for caring for the time piece.

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Jord offers a variety of watches perfect for men or women. They can be engraved and ordered to perfectly fit the recipient’s (or your own) wrist. The watch fits comfortably and is a classic design I’ll wear for years to come.

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My watch is the Cassia series Walnut and Vintage Rose. I wore it last Saturday on a dinner date with my husband. I love how it is versatile enough to wear to work or out on the town.

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There are so many stunning time pieces to choose from. They would make a perfect graduation or Father’s Day gift as well. Or, if you’re like me and are just tired of digging your phone out of your giant handbag to tell time, you could treat yourself!

To enter the Jord gift card giveaway and get 10 percent off any order, visit this link. The giveaway will be open until June 24 and the winner will be announce right here on A HOUSE WITH CHARACTER.

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Note: This post was sponsored by Jord, but all opinions expressed are truly my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures

All 50 by 40: Texas

My quest to visit all 50 states by the time I turn 40 has the self-imposed rule that airport layovers don’t count. This is why Texas remained on the to-visit list despite the fact that I have been to airports in various Texan cities several times. My husband and I decided to make this one a family trip and chose San Antonio for the history, River Walk, and abundance of kid-friendly activities.

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My three-year-old has flown several times and is a pro as well as a lover of all things vacation-related.

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This was my one-year-old’s first time flying and she didn’t take too kindly to it despite the happy photo below. I’m not giving up that easily, however.

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The grounds of the Alamo are beautiful and made for a great place for the girls to run around and experience some fresh air while my husband and I got our history fix.

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We explored all five San Antonio Missions, which were fascinating.

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We stayed at The Hotel Contessa on San Antonio’s beautiful River Walk. I’m working on a separate post just about the hotel, which was elegant, yet kid-friendly. This was a great location close to shops, restaurants, and, of course, a pink horse-drawn carriage.

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The below photo pretty much sums up the highs and lows of traveling with small children. There are smiles, fun, happy memories, mixed with occasional inevitable meltdowns.

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Sea World was a must and the whole family enjoyed our day spent there.

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The little one sampled the duck food. Gross.

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San Antonio is somewhere we’ll definitely revisit in the future. We will also continue to take family vacations at least once a year, despite the hiccups that accompany traveling with small children. In the end, the memories of their laughter while splashing in the pool and watching them experience something new will always overshadow the screeching, spilled milk, and flights with a squirmy, nap-fighting one-year-old.

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I have six states left to visit and tomorrow marks exactly five years to visit them all before age 40. I can’t wait to book my next trip!

The Updated List

Alaska

Arkansas

Michigan (I have been to airports)

Tennessee

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Adventures

Springtime in South Dakota

When spring finally arrives in western South Dakota, often long, long after the actual equinox, certain signs fill the senses. The sight of an endless blue sky, the smell of green grass and branding smoke, the feeling of a light breeze through bedroom window at night, all combine to tell us winter might be gone at last. It is Mother Nature’s great sigh of relief.

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We praise God for cowboys, kids, baby bison, cookouts, afternoon rains, lilacs, and longer days.

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After a long winter, the trees have buds, though few leaves have presented.

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It is my belief every child should spend time on a cattle ranch, even if it is just for a visit.

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Sparkling water and the smell of pine trees bring joy to us on a Sunday afternoon drive through the Black Hills.

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It is also my belief that even my “town girls” need to experience a day now and then of getting the kind of messy that leaves the bath water muddy and dark.

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They need to smell like horses and have dirt under their finger nails.

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Then they need to clean up nice for church the next day and chase each other around after breakfast.

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We are grateful and blessed.

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The kind of sleep we have after a full day of fresh air is the most restful. It is the peace we feel after a hard day of work with family and friends. Spring is finally here in South Dakota.

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In My House

The Girl is One

It always sounds so cliché, but it’s so true: The first year of a baby’s life goes so quickly! Our youngest turns one tomorrow. We celebrated with a donut-themed brunch over the weekend.

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The bear cake, made by my mother, is a family tradition. I had it for my first birthday, as did my oldest daughter, my cousin (who is also my youngest daughter’s godmother), and my niece. The girl was really quite dainty about eating her cake. She didn’t even get frosting on her shirt!

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We had donuts, cake, and cupcakes. I felt a tiny bit embarrassed because our family dentist who is also a good friend was in attendance with his wife and adorable daughter. I apologized for the sugar overload (while stuffing my face with a sprinkle-covered donut.)

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Happy birthday to our sweet baby girl. You are a cuddly, entertaining, delightful soul. You are a terrific walker and say “mama” and “dada.” You love animals, your sister, and making us laugh. We love you!