The happy summers of my youth

Today I’m feeling wistful for the happy summers of my youth.  Those carefree days of running through sprinklers in the front yard of my childhood home, wearing a hand-me-down swimsuit from one of my sisters, pieces of wet grass stuck between my toes.  The sunny days of eating Popsicles on burning cement sidewalks, hot ridges of concrete patterns imprinting on the back of my legs, watching forlornly as fallen chunks of Popsicle melted in the gutter.

I roamed the neighborhood freely, safely, with a huge pack of childhood friends through the whole of the 80’s.  We slouched in and out of every home on the block, slamming screen doors behind us on our quest for the best snacks, toys, and trampolines we could find.

happy summers of my youth

Every summer, (every. single. summer) inbetween running wild with my pack of cronies, my parents hauled the lot of us off on a 2-week family vacation.  We never stayed in hotels or even motels, we camped, as a family 0f 10 all over the western United Sates and Canada for a solid 14 days, usually smack dab in the middle of July.

happy summers of youth

My mother spent weeks preparing food, planning meals, and packing our powder blue 11-passenger van to the gills.  Both parents took time off work, and way back when in the time of no cellphones or laptops, we had a solid 2 weeks of uninterrupted summertime bliss.

happy summers of childhood

I hiked the Grand Canyon, kayaked through Glacier National Park, shelled and collected sea glass up and down the beaches of California, was sprayed with ocean mist whale watching in Monterey, played with bubbles at The Exploratorium in San Francisco, and ate dutch oven meals for weeks inbetween endless games of cards and Monopoly with my siblings.

happy summers of youth

I’m pretty sure my thirst for travel came early in life, and my love for uninterrupted family time and spontaneous fun was definitely born early in the happy summers of my youth.


life is a special occasion

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Hallmark again in 2012 as part of their “Life Is a Special Occasion” campaign.  Opinions, stories, photos, and children are supplied by yours truly.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Sarah :

    Great post!
    LOVE your Mom!! the socks and sandals are really only ONE of the many reasons ;)

  2. Emily :

    Sounds perfect! I was wistful for my youth today too, but mostly just b/c I’m so tired! ha. I wish we’d taken fun vacations as a family and not just to visit family.

  3. Kerry :

    Beautiful post :)

  4. Carol :

    What a special childhood you had! And I know you are making them just as special for your children! I grew up in Laguna Beach, and always remember roaming all around town and the beach, and picnicking with my mother on the beach.

  5. An from Motion Math (@motionmath) :

    Thanks for sharing that little bit of summer happiness with us – I’m sure you’re making more happy memories with your family! My parents used to do the same thing – pack all 6 of us up in the car and head out on the open road singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs. :)

  6. Moni :

    Das sind so schöne Bilder, ich liebe es freundliche Mensche zu sehen denen es gut geht.

    Grüsse an alle und Frieden auf unserer Erde