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Coffee with Christina (October 2023)

Pour a cup of coffee and let’s dive into some questions I received from my coffee talk poll, as well as some random thoughts I’d share if we were having coffee together!

Can you share the summer spreadsheet again?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had an uptick in requests to re-share my summer spreadsheet.

I know it’s wild to be already thinking about summer plans, but many camps begin opening registration around the holidays as a way to capture grandparents buying weeks of camp for their grandbabies as Christmas gifts, as well as the corporate working mamas who like to get a head start on lining up summer childcare.

A few years ago, I shared my summer Excel matrix in my How I Plan Our Family Travel & Activities post, but wanted to re-share for those looking for it! It’s not fancy, but it works. And if you love Excel as much as me, you know you can customize the matrix to fit your needs.

My spreadsheet has evolved so much year over year and has multiple tabs now for mapping out weeks of certain camps, family summer vacation destinations, notes and reminders for the following year, etc.

You can easily add additional rows if you’ve got multiple summer camps happening for different kids, and don’t forget to use the notes column to capture anything you want to remember for the following year. I keep so much information in that box — reminders to grab a specific week next time, pack certain items, keep certain weeks open for things, etc. — anything to make summer run smoother).

You can download a copy of my summer scheduling template HERE.

Any fun 2024 family travel plans?

Speaking of summer, I had a few requests both last month and this month to share our 2024 summer family vacation plans. To be honest, we haven’t gotten that far yet but we do usually like to firm up our vacation destination during our End of Year Family Planning Meeting.

I would really love to take the kids to Costa Rica for our next big family vacation! This destination feels really challenging to plan since I don’t know much about it. However, I do know I’d love to break up the trip between the rainforest and the beach. If you have any tips, a travel agent that specializes in Costa Rica, or areas you recommend staying in, please let me know!! We are obviously in the very early stages of dreaming up plans and I have a looooot of research to do!

Does Caroline have a cell phone or a smartwatch yet?

I hesitate to share my opinion on this because this is such a personal decision for every parent and I think each family should do what’s right for them — and for some, a cell phone might be a good fit.

Caroline is 9.5 and desperately wants a phone. She asks me probably every day, or every other day for one. It’s not the device that I’m opposed to, rather it’s the access to social media, the web, YouTube, etc. It’s been especially hard as several of her friends do have a phone, an Instagram account, and/or a TikTok account. I think my work in this space makes me extra sensitive to all those things — but I’m going to hold out as long as I possibly can.

In the meantime, both of our kids have had Gizmo watches for a few years now and we absolutely love them. Gabb is a similar watch I’ve heard really great things about. These watches have given us so much peace of mind when our kids started riding the bus (the bus app is extremely unreliable and was often hours late last year), and the kids must be wearing them when they are roaming the neighborhood with friends after school and on the weekends.

These watches don’t allow outside apps and can only call or text me and Matt. And per school rules, they keep their watches in their backpacks once they arrive to school.

How do you purge for the holidays?

I love this question!

I love a good house purge and do it probably quarterly, with a really big cleanout right before the holidays.

I usually have to split Thomas and Caroline’s rooms into two separate days (while they are at school) and I’ll do a full deep clean on their rooms at the same time (clean out their closets and every drawer, make piles of things to keep/trash/donate, clean their blinds/baseboards/ceiling fans, etc). When they get home from school they go through their piles of clothes, books, crafts, etc. and pull out the things they want to keep.

It’s easier now that the kids don’t have many toys. However, when they were little, it was harder to throw away stuffed animals or toys without them asking about them 2 days later. We really liked The Giving Sack back then.


What are some products or services you’ve promoted and still use?

Another fun question! Let me see if I can narrow this to 5 products/services that I’ve been introduced to through a partnership and still love, continue to use regularly, and highly recommend…

W+ Membership: Truly a membership I love and renew year after year. I usually schedule two grocery deliveries throughout the week, and since I’ve been using this membership for so long, all of our household essentials and grocery staples are “favorited” so it’s a breeze to add everything to my cart. I also love how quickly I can usually get a delivery.

Bambino: I often get asked about how we find good babysitters for date nights. I’ve been using this service for over 3 years now and have always had a great experience with the app! Every sitter goes through an extensive vetting process (background checks, recommendations, etc.) before joining the platform and we usually select sitters that have already been recommended by neighbors or friends within the app. I’ve booked sitters last minute and far in advance. Some sitters we’ve had back again and again, but we also like trying new ones all the time too. The app is super easy to use and I love how you pay for the sitter right through the app so you don’t have to worry about tracking down the right amount of cash or trying to do math at the end of date night.

Butcher Box: We used this service for about 2 years, and then took a break when Matt was vegan. We re-subscribed earlier this year when we started prioritizing animal protein again and absolutely love it. They offer a wide variety of meat and seafood, and the quality is top-notch.

HexClad Frying Pan: The best pan I’ve ever owned, this high-quality, dishwasher/oven-safe pan features a laser-etched non-stick surface using a patented hexagonal design to provide ideal hybrid cooking performance. Utilizing a tri-ply construction, the cookware has a layer of aluminum encapsulated between two layers of stainless steel for perfect heat distribution. It’s also PFOA-free, non-toxic, and is built to last a lifetime. Worth every penny.

Cozy Earth Sheet Set: These luxurious sheets are a bit pricey but absolutely worth it (they are the very best sheets ever — and Oprah agrees) and are a PERFECT group Christmas gift from siblings to parents or in-laws! Available in 7 colors. Use code CAROLINACHARM40 at checkout for 40% off.

You can find all my previous Coffee Talk Posts HERE!

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Tuesday 24th of October 2023

We just went with the kids in July and will email you!


Wednesday 25th of October 2023

you. are. the. best!


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Here is a link to a blogger that did a Costa Rica trip with their family a few years ago. I hope it’s helpful to you!


Wednesday 25th of October 2023



Tuesday 24th of October 2023

This is the best Costa Rica travel agent. I have used them and recommend them to several friends who also loved them. They plan every single detail and make it so easy! They are based in cr which means they are there in the country if something goes wrong.


Wednesday 25th of October 2023

AMAZING!!!! Thank you SO much, Josie!!!