Archive for the 'Vacation and Travel' Category

Road Trip With a Toddler Tips

Doing any kind of car traveling with a toddler can be an adventure in and of itself. Whether you’re taking a long road trip or just driving to Grandma’s here’s some tips to make the trip a little easier on the whole family.

Breaks. If you are going for any distance, there is no way a toddler can sit the whole trip. Break the trip up into segments — drive for an hour and a half and then take a break, get out of the car, and stretch for a half hour. Sure, it takes a lot longer but you get there with a much happier child. You can combine these breaks when you need to stop for food but make sure that the toddler doesn’t have to sit. Restaurants with play areas or picnics at rest stops are the best bet.

Snacks. You won’t always be someplace you can pull over and pick up a bite to eat. Make sure you’re prepared for when hunger strikes your toddler by packing healthy snacks. Finger foods are best because they give the tot something to do with their hands. Things like graham crackers, cheerios, grapes, slices of cheese, and celery or carrot sticks. Avoid sticky sugary foods, though, because that’s a mess just waiting to happen.

Songs. Brush up on your children songs. Singing silly songs that the toddler can sing a long with you is a great way to distract your kid from the long miles ahead of them. Inventing a silly travel song for that particular trip makes it special and can entertain the little one for a time.

Essentials. Pack a bag of small toys, coloring books, crayons, and books. The best toys to bring aren’t their favorite ones but rather toys they’ve never seen or haven’t played with in a long time. It keeps their attention longer and makes the trip special. Toddlers are smart, and if they get new toys when they travel, they’ll remember and be more agreeable to the trip in general. You don’t have to buy new things or expensive toys, things from kid’s meals or something they haven’t played with in a long time work just as well.

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I’m Back…

Well, my escapade to Florida went off without a hitch.. No fiery crashes, no turbulance, no hostage situations.. Have I mentioned that I am borderline terrified of flying?  Just a little..

Seeing my girlfriend was nice.  It is hard to incorporate into people’s lives, though, even if just for a weekend.  She and her husband are lovely, but not the type to want to be apart.  Ever.  So it made my immature desire to have her all to myself un-realizable.  Nonetheless, we had a good time and enjoyed much wine and catching up.

There were, of course, all the other beautiful and odd tales that come with traveling (like the Aussie in a long brown leather trench coat and wrangler hat that kept following me around asking if I was famous) BUT, for today, I just wanted to re-enter my delightful world of blogging with a simple hello.  I promise I will catch you up on the good stuff soon!  Glad to be home..

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New York During Christmas????

Since the kids are going to be disney world-ing it up for a week - I am starting to think about what John and I will do as two, childless adults… My fingers are drumming at the possibilities..

It has always been my dream to spend Christmas in New York.  When I say “always”, I literally mean since I was old enough to know what New York was.  I have had a freakishly impassioned adoration of New York since I was three.  I’m not kidding.  And, the idea of New York during Christmas, well, nothing sounds sweeter or more romantic to me.

My husband wants to stay home and revel in our ability to sleep till noon and go out around our town.  The idea of hopping on plane and sleeping at friends houses in Brooklyn doesn’t appeal to him quite the way it does to me.
I agree that being home in utter relaxation sounds divine - but I also wonder when an opportunity like this will come around again.  Probably, like, never!  Also, I’m kind of tired of wanting to “rest” when the kids are away.  I want to take the opportunity to have an experience that will inspire us and cultivate more experiences.. we’ll see how it goes.  Keep you posted on the plans…

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One Whole Week… Are You Serrrrrious?

I have divulged to you my plans (or unplans, as the case may be) to stay home for the holidays - and not commit ourselves to hauling ass all over Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, crammed in a car for eight hours with two kids (and two grown ups) who want more than anything just to be home with their own tree and presents and friends and Christmas dinner, just to appease my mom. Everyone else understands - they have all admitted that they would never entertain the idea driving 8hours during the holiday season with kids. Everyone but my mom. She did it with us when we were kids - no matter where we were in the world, she made sure that we picked ourselves up out of our relaxing holiday and loaded every present, package and suitcase into our minivan just so that she could be near her parents for Christmas. It was crazy. And, I have decided that it is not how I am going to spend my holidays with my kids anymore. I say “anymore” because I tried - for the last six years I have felt obligated and was never prepared to face the insurmountable guilt that I knew my mom would hash out. Buckets of guilt would be slung my way - with precise aim.  It’s a gift of hers. Everyone’s gotta be good at something, right?

In her defense, though, these are her only grandkids. They mean the world to her and she means the world to them. But, when I gaiged how excited my son was to stay home, the decision was final. I broke the news to her in, probably, the least sensitive manner I could have mustered. Not intentionally - it just happened that way. I said it very casually and as if it weren’t a big deal - because, once we had made the decision, it wasn’t a big deal. To us. Her reaction was very similar to what I would imagine it would be had I told her that I was secretly a stripper and John was a full time pimp down in the lower east side of Nashville. Appalled. I gave her some time to work it out. After a week, she called and said that she and dad had decided that they, if it was alright with us, wanted to pick the kids up the day after Xmas and take them down to Disney World. I know part of the reason is she wants the kids to be around her family for a holiday - and that Disney World is a guise for that. But, hell, I’ll take it.

And, the she said “We’ll be back on New Year’s Eve”. Wait. That’s a whole week. Hold. On. Just. A. Damn. Minute. I’m torn. Half of me (the half that wants to feel like a cutloose and fancy free 29year old) is jumping for joy and spinning cartwheels out on the sunlit, dewey front lawn. The other half (you know, the mom part that can’t imagine her kids away from her - flying down the highway at warp speed with her half deaf father who can barely see through his five inch long old man eyebrows and her junk food addicted mother [godbless’em]) is flipping out and damn near an anxiety attack about it.

A week. That’s a long, looooong time. John, of course, is already counting the hours of sleeping in that a week without the kids amounts to. I, on the other hand, will probably wake up every morning at 630am wishing that a little boy would climb in my bed and warm his toes on my belly and that I could hear a two year old in her crib singing a morning song to herself.. Being a mother is quite certainly one of the most beautiful forms of torture on this planet.

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I woke up this morning feeling, still, massively engorged..  I don’t think I will eat for the rest of the week.

My son made fantastic place settings for all of us. I arranged some beautiful autumnal flowers.  And, if I do say so myself, I outdid myself this year with the food.  Quite possibly the best mashed potatoes I have ever made. 

This was the first year we stayed home - we will be doing it again for Christmas.  Usually we traipse off to Florida to visit our family and let the kids catch up with their cousins.  But not this year.  We decided, against all guilt that my mother was setting up against me, that we were going to relax for a change. And, more importantly, let the kids relax for a change. I don’t want to spend our holidays couped up in a car for eight hours anymore.  Of course, while my mom says she understands, she still can’t help but lay it on - and thick. The guilt.. Ohhhh, the guilt.

But, I withstood.  And, this year, we quite possibly had the best Thanksgiving ever. 

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The Plane! The Plane!

Tomorrow I take a flight to Florida to see one of my best friends.  Two days away from the kids - relaxation, wine, uninterrupted dinners, long conversations.. It sounded like fun, until today.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still think the whole weekend sounds fun and I know I will be thankful I did it.  But, now, two days without the kids sounds like the most depressing thing in the world.  I miss them and I haven’t even left yet.

I guess, though, that it means that things are right, right?  I am glad I don’t like being away from my kids.  Wait.  Does that make me a good mom or an overprotective mom?  I don’t need to be with them out of worry - I just like my people.  When I have down time I want to be with my huband and babies.  That’s a good feeling. 

So, aside from that - I am having to get over some new, strange fear of flying.  I can’t quite figure out the source of this very recent fear - all I know is that I have been having nightmares about flaming plane crashes and rushing through airports, late and sweating.. God.  I need to relax, don’t I? 

So, all my crazies aside, we’re off to the park.  Then lunch on the grass - and maybe a little shopping for some pretty things.  Have a great weekend!

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Keeping Burglars At Bay While Vacationing

Coming back from a holiday to a home that’s been broken into can ruin the entire trip. Morgan Murphy from Southern Living recently offered these tips for securing your home before you go on vacation.

  • Make sure all your doors and windows are locked and that the alarm system is armed.
  • Suspend newspaper and mail delivery, or have someone pick it up for you.
  • Don’t post your name on the mailbox — it makes it easier for a thief to find your home number and call to see if you’re home.
  • Give your local police department the dates that you’ll be gone. Many police departments will step up patrols by your house.
  • Don’t change your answering machine message to say, “I’m out of town.” Instead, say “I can’t get to the phone right now; I’m feeding the dog, Fang.”
  • Leave the curtains, blinds and cars as you normally do when you’re home.
  • Leave a radio on; most break-ins occur during daylight hours.
  • Don’t put a house key under the mat or in one of those fake rocks; give it to a trusted neighbor instead.

Read the full story: Foil burglars when you’re on vacation

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Right around the corner…..

So today is the beginning of a beautiful summer for us. Joseph still has one month of school left, but John is officially on summer vacation. This is one of the perks to being married to a college professor - every once in a random while you get the gift of a summer off with pay. So he will just be working here and there for the next four months and, I, will be able to really get to work on my writing. I won’t be multi-tasking my life away. Aside from the ability to do more writing I want to take a family trip. This is something we have never done - ever. Sure, we get to go see the family in Florida, but we never take a trip just for pleasure.

I have really been wanting to go to the Smithsonian. I don’t know if this is the best trip to take with a six year old and a two year old, but I am dying to go. Especially now that they have a Hokusai exhibit up. This image (Boy Viewing Mt. Fuji) is one of my favorites.

It looks to be a really nice retrospective. Maybe we can get it in gear enough to go see that. We’ll see.

Ps. I have lost all my moving to-do lists. Typical.

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Flying the Friendly Skies

I have always loved traveling.. Being in airports and being in airplanes was not only never a source of anxiety but it has always been a very inherently positive experience for me. Flying has always been oddly comforting. I was born moving - my dad was in the Army so we never stayed in one place very long.

So, tomorrow I get on a plane for my cousin’s wedding. It is the first time I have flown in almost four years. For the first time in my life, I am terrified. It started out with a little nervousness last week and now, a day before, I am wondering if I should go get some kind of relaxant from a psychotherapist….. weird, huh? Not sure what all the fuss is about - my husband has suggested that I have post 9/11 jitters.. I have flown since then, though, it can’t be that. I guess I just have more to lose now than ever before. When I was a young college student, I literally had nothing to worry about. Now I will be leaving everything behind - my kids, my husband, all the things that make me a happy girl. And I think getting older has made me much more aware of my mortality. I know I am not invincible. I guess this is just one of those little obstacles to get over so that I can keep living the rest of my life. People fly all the time - of course, the second I type that, the next argument that arises is that “yes, people fly all the time and there has not been a plane crash for quite some time.. that increases your odds”… god, when did I become such a morbid little thing????

Alright, enough of that. On a positive note: I will get to see my family (cousins I grew up with and aunts and uncles that I haven’t seen in YEARS) and will get to spend a weekend with my mom. This will be our first trip together without the rest of our crew - should be buckets of fun. She’s a fun lady, my mom. It’s bound to be a raucous good time!

Wish me luck with the plane rides!

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My Feet May Wander Nashville but My Heart Lives in New Orleans

It’s the beginning of Mardi Gras and I am so pleased to see New Orleans making their way back toward the routines that make the city great. There was a lot of doubt and debate as to whether or not commencing with the Mardi Gras festivities would be a good idea. I can recall hearing a lot of news coverage with irrate locals who felt, rightfully so, that it was an insult to their situation - that was about three months ago. Though, over time, everyone has jumped on board to support the festivies and can see how it will help, tenfold, to bring back the Big Easy.

Our family has always been in love with N.O. My husband and I courted there - spent any weekend we could walking about in Audobon Park, breakfast at Camilla Grill and afternoons spent eating pastries at Le Madeleine. My husband had art shows on Julia Street on White Linen Night and we spent late evenings out with our friends who will be New Orleanians until the day they die. We were married at Holy Name of Jesus on Loyola’s Campus (where my husband went to undergrad school) and had our entire family there for the celebration.

Being an army brat, I have never had a place in which I felt at home - until I met New Orleans. I will always be in love with that city and I am, like a proud child revering her parents, elated to watch it come back.

CELEBRATE! Enjoy some king cake this week!

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