Category Archives: Yippie

Family Trip to Denmark

We are home from our dream vacation to Denmark, and finally over our collective jet lag (turns out to be a surreal family experience!). The kids were star travelers, and thankfully jet lag wasn’t too bad on the way there.

It’s hard to put the full 3 week trip into words, but we really had a fantastic time. I love Denmark so deeply, and loved sharing such a special place with my family. 

Most of all, I loved being together with all my host families again and seeing our families bond. When our kids weren’t busy playing, they were busy entertaining us all.

We also soaked up Denmark’s pastoral landscapes and all the amazing views of the sea. We were lucky enough to stay on three different fjords, and having water all around you is just so gorgeous. Hubby will tell you the weather was awful, and truthfully is was one of the worst August’s on record, which meant that it was really more like a typical June (and unlike Oregon, the rain never lasted for more than an hour – not withstanding a day of thunderstorms). But we did have five beach days, and lots of sunny memories (minus a very wet walk to the tip of Denmark off Skagen, which still wasn’t actually cold). 

I’ve posted even more family pics on our family blog – West Coast Cronin Clan. I’m also in the process of editing/posting to our online Picasa album. Even though the trip is over, it’s wonderful have all the memories.

It was absolutely worth all the planning and saving

What would like to know or learn about Denmark?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Price of Family Passports = Priceless

Today we are flying off on our big family adventure to Denmark!! I’ll have infrequent access to email while we are there, but I’ll make sure to take lots of photos and I’ll be back to blogging regularly in September. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

I knew that buying passports for a family was going to be more expensive than when I only had to pay for myself. But it was still spendier than I anticipated…I expected $400 tops, but here’s the break down:

Adult passport renewal = $120
Adult passport replacement = $120, plus a $25 execution fee
Children’s passport = $80 plus a $25 execution fee per child
Passport photos = $10 per person

Total passport fees for 4 = $515

Check the government site for current fees

Passports are really priceless though. On an inspiration note, my travel-hearted friend Kim wrote a inspiring blog post about the Power of a Passport. A passport is really your ticket to exploring this beautiful blue ball called planet Earth. Our Big Guy may only be 5, but he was the first to get his passport in the mail, and he looked at it in awe for the longest time. While the photo here is pretty goofy, in his passport pic he was very serious, seeming to know that this photo would forever immortalize him as a traveler. And it’s crazy how Girly has already lost much of her baby face in the past six months since we first took our photos. It inspires me to dream of where we may travel together as they grow…

Practical tips:
Unless you are very near your travel date, it’s advised to never pay for the expedited passport services, since typically they are finished in about 3 weeks (rather than the 6 weeks they promise). So unless your trip is just a month away, don’t bother, but better yet send everything off a few months in advance to save yourself the stress.

Keep in mind that kids that you need to have both parents and the child present in order to submit the application. The passport office in Portland has limited hours (City Hall mid-day on limited days, FYI), so the first time we went without Girly, figuring that nap through her first passport application. But we had to return the next week instead.

Also, our other lesson was that it turned out that Hubby had to get a passport replacement, which added a $25 fee. It turned out that he hadn’t seen his passport since our trip to Canada two years ago (very likely in our basement somewhere…). Thankfully he found his previous passport, so the application process wasn’t a complete hassle. Plus, his was set to expire anyway so the $110 fee didn’t hurt quite as much. We definitely plan on having a home for all our passports when we return so that we’ll never have to be in search of them.

OK, so I also have to fess up and say there was one more lesson…I filled out my first application in pencil… I figured that I didn’t want to mess it up! A  big no-no, so it got delayed by about a month.  So, I was really glad that I sent it in 2 1/2 months before our departure…but still a few weeks ago I was starting to get a little worried! 

Now I’m content with photocopies of all four in hand, plus some Danish Kroner!

Is your family ready to travel abroad?
Is travel a priority/value of yours?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Gearing up for Travel

Travel light. 
Live light. 
Spread the light. 
Be the light.

This is the mantra I’m trying to keep in mind while packing for our family trip to Denmark (quote was taped to a light switch at my Grandmother’s!). While I obviously don’t want to forget anything essential, I also don’t want to schlep our crap half way across the globe due to a fear of scarcity.  

So we’ll be taking one large roller bag, one small roller, kids’ backpacks, Hubby’s small backpack, a beach bag (overnight carry-on initially), and purse for me…oh, and a car seat and a booster seat…still debating about a stroller/carrier.

In order to pack efficiently, I splurged on Eagle Creek pack-it systems for each family member.  My globe-trekking Twin Sis has sworn by them for years now, and I was glad to see they have some nice ones for dress clothes…no need to bring the shoulder-busting dress bag. I managed to buy them all on a 25% off sale at REI.

I also just bought Girly a sweet little owl backpack that she was ready for regardless of the trip (keeps stealing her brother’s bag!) I had a handmade backpack very similar as a little girl, hand embroidered by my hippie mama with buckskin straps…sadly I’m not as crafty, but I do seem to find what I want online…

One of the bulkiest items we’ll be packing is diapers and wipes. Unfortunately, Girly hasn’t quite gone cold-turkey from diapers yet and they are expensive enough in Europe to make it worth our while to pack as many as possible.

Snacks will be another must for our kiddos. While I definitely plan on indoctrinating them in  delicious Danish food, I also know all too well the rate at which they mow through snacks. I’m planning to bring lots of fruit leathers and enough snacks to get us across the globe and well-settled before we venture into foreign snack territory…figuring that good old-fashioned fruit will be the perennial snack.

While I’m approaching the whole packing thing with simplicity, I’m also going to be pretty systematic. So, I’ll share my final pack list once we return from Europe for any of you who want to copycat for your next family trip.

What gear does your family travel with?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Exchanging Currency and Money Tips for Traveling

With our pending departure to Denmark (less than 10 days at the office!), we’re getting to the point of exchanging money.  Since I no longer have a Danish bank account, we’ll have to rely on exchanging dollars for kroners .

As I suspected, travel guru Rick Steves warns that exchange fees have gone skyward in the last decade. But he also gives lots of practical tips for using cash and credit in Europe. Use your debit card at ATMs to avoid additional credit card fees, and getting out more cash at once is preferred. Rick Steves also recommends calling your bank to find out what fees they charge, apparently One PacificCoast Bank doesn’t charge a fee if you use an All Point Network ATM…we’ll be looking out for those! He also reminds you to call your credit card/bank to let them know you’ll be traveling so they suspect theft.

We are planning to use almost all cash, partly because it’s easier to budget and gauge how much you are spending. We will exchange $1000 to begin, which will hopefully last us a while…

On TravelPortland I found a coupon for waiving currency exchange fees, bonus!  There are some easy  online currency converters , but thankfully with close to 5 kroner to a $1, it’s an easy to calculate in your head. 

How much cash versus credit do you use on vacation?

Don’t you just love the Danish kroner, writer Karen Blixen makes a lovely 50 kr?!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Simplicity Parenting – Book Review

I just finished reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, and it really inspires me to take simple living to the next step. The book was both fascinating and practical. 

The fascinating aspect was his many case studies detailing how badly kids react to the modern norm of filling family life with lots and lots of stuff and adding a booked calendar on top. As a psychologist, decades of experience showed how children with post-traumatic stress disorder paralleled the ill effects of overwhelmed kids. I’ve felt instinctively for some time that kids don’t need all this stuff, but I never realized/reflected on the damage that it could do.

The practical aspects came on many levels, and he really had sage advise for simplifying virtually all realms of family life. There were many areas where we already try to live those values, but we surely have room for improvement. We’ve tried to limit gifts from family members and not overwhelm birthdays with stuff , but it’s not always easy. 

I felt relieved that I found this book when my kids are still young and we haven’t gotten on the over-scheduled child treadmill.  Our Big Guy just finished his first season of t-ball, and even though he loves the game, I’m ready for him to take a break until next year. Hubby would prefer to sign him up for soccer in the fall, but the most I want to take on is a once a week swim class a few block walk from home.

Ironically, we we’ve been so busy camping that I haven’t had the time to really take action toward increased simplicity, but my major goal this autumn will be to cull toys and purge the basement (which never seems to get done!) Even though they probably have about half the toys of peers, I know our kids barely use a quarter of their toys on a regular basis, so I really want to set up a toy rotating system and simply get rid of lots.

This brief trailer of Payne’s insights really gives the essence of his philosophy on parenting, and hopefully will inspire you to read his book and take action in your family life:

Simplicity Parenting from Kim Payne on Vimeo.

Have you read Simplicity Parenting? 
What steps are the most important to simplification?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.