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Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Sometimes I wish we could flash forward and talk to our grown children asking them about their favorite family vacation memories. Then go back into real time and do more of that.

It’s not always the big things that are the most memorable. Sometimes we create the most awesome memories when we allow ourselves to leave an event early that is not working for us and just head back to the pool or to give ourselves more time when the planets have aligned and everyone is relaxed, laughing and having a good time.

One of our favorite family memories was a day spent in a tropical rainforest. On that vacation we spent a lot of time body surfing in the ocean and swimming in the pool. We played ping-pong, ate great food, and had a lot of laughs. One day we rented a car and went out to explore waterfalls and botanical gardens. This was the day that I thought the kids would have to just endure because it was something that my husband and I wanted to do. But we didn’t want to make it too painful for them so we figured we would just stop by, check these places out and then we could get back to the water.

It turns out we had picked a less frequented garden on the off season. We got to the entrance, paid our fee and the person at the gate quietly gave us a map. My daughter took the map and immediately went into tour guide mode. The kids pretended they were the experts and explained every plant we passed. Most of the information was either on the map or on a plaque located near the plant. If there was no information about something we were looking at, then the kids would just make it up.

They followed the map as it guided us up a steep hillside to what was supposed to be the ruins of the Old Fort. When we finally reached the top of the hill I looked around and saw what looked like some old volcanic rock that sort of ( sort of ) formed the outline of what could have been a house. The rocks didn’t go up any higher than 6 inches at any one place. In my mind I was thinking “Ugh! We have just walked all this way and there is really nothing here. The kids are going to hate this”. All of a sudden my son says in an enthusiastic voice “This is Great! Look at this! They had to carry everything by hand all the way up that hill. This must have been their lookout point. Wow! No one could get past anyone here.”

We spent hours that day at the Botanical Garden. It was completely unexpected. It was beautiful. It was educational. It was a ton of laughs. It was everything a parent could want out of a day on vacation. And there was ice cream.

Our favorite travel memories have been the most unexpected. Our happiest travel memories have been on those adventures when the kids imaginations were our tour guides.

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Join the fun on Monday November 28 for another amazing TravelingMom.com Twitter Party.

Want another chance to win big? Enter the Holiday Travel Double Take Giveaway courtesy of Venture on TravelingMom for a chance to repeat that perfect vacation. Tell us your great holiday vacation story there to be entered to win. Starts 11/28 on #TMOM so be on the lookout!

Party Details:

WHEN:  Nov. 28, 9-10 pm ET (8-9 pm CT; 7-8 pm MT; 6-7 pm PT) #TMOM on Twitter  Be sure and visit TravelingMom.com for all of the details and be sure to RSVP for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

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On a recent trip across the country we made a couple of stops that were essentially going to be bathroom breaks. First a quick visit to Old Faithful and then on to Cody Wyoming. The next day we worked our way over to Rapid City South Dakota where we had planned to make a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.

We picked up a Jr. Ranger handbook at the rangers station and the kids set off in search of the the clues to complete the tasks outlined in the book. They spent hours in the museum and walking along the pathways under the faces. They loved every second of their search. It cooled down pretty quickly as it began to get dark. Fortunately we were ready for that. We bundled up and continued exploring the park. Not long after sunset there was a flag ceremony in the main amphitheater to retire the colors. For several hours it had seemed like it was just us and a dozen or so other people at the park but all of a sudden the seating area was packed with what must have been over 1000 people. I’m not sure where they had all come from but apparently the park is more spread out than I had thought. We sat there and watched as members of the military that were visiting that day walked onto the stage and a troop of Boy Scouts from Minnesota filed in to provide the manpower for the actual lowering and folding of the flag for the evening. A slide show played above the stage and the lights on the faces came began to glow. As the flag was lowered the entire audience joined together in singing the national anthem. There were people there from all over the country and possibly even the world. We had never met. We had never sung together. But on this evening it was one of the most beautiful choruses I had ever heard. I could feel tears start to well up and I almost wasn’t able to sing the whole song because it was so moving.

Later that fall, when my kids, who were 11 and 13 at the time, would tell people about their summer they would talk about their favorite day at Mt. Rushmore. There were no roller coasters, there were no video games, and this was their favorite stop on the trip.

Sometimes we have to remember that one of the best gifts we can give to our kids is the time for us to be together in a place where their imaginations can run wild.

Join the team at TravelingMom.com on Monday October 24 for a twitter party all about meaningful travel. I’ll be there! You can Win an iPad2 and talk meaningful travel on #TMOM Twitter party RSVP HERE http://bit.ly/nwVFbm #TAUCK

I’m looking forward to talking with the folks at Tauck travel and other moms about the Cowboy Country Northbound adventure which covers Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore. CLICK HERE  for more details.

For more information on Mt. Rushmore visit the National Park Service Page

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Today we celebrated.

This morning started out exactly as it had 10 years ago. On a bright sunny day I sat on my couch watching television. And I cried. Just like I had 10 years ago. It is amazing seeing pure evil in action. We must never forget or become complacent and let our children forget that there is evil in the world and on occasion evil does have a face. I cried for the children who had to grow up without parents. I cried for mothers who outlived their children.

But this morning was different. My four children are 10 years older. They are wonderful kids. It was a busy day. We set out the American flag on the front porch and then started in on a series of chores that needed to be done today so that we could just focus on school this next week. At some point in the day I realized that we were all moving around the house doing these things but I wasn’t asking the kids to do anything. They knew the routine and were just doing their part. My oldest pulled out the vaccuum and took care of the main floor. My youngest pulled out his homework assignment due on Wednesday and asked his other brother for some help pulling together the necessary supplies to complete his collage. The theme of the collage “My American Dream”.

I took a step back for a minute and looked at the sunshine beaming into our living room and listened to the sounds of laughter and debate (which actor played the best Dr. Who) and I realized that if I had to turn in my son’s homework assignment today, and make a collage of My American Dream, I would only have to take a snapshot of my kids today.

Right then it seemed like we had to celebrate. We had to celebrate the memory of all the people who died 10 years ago and their families who have carried on – we had to celebrate our President at the time who carried us through this particular day with Grace and Courage – we had to celebrate what it means to be an American. So, we dialed up our favorite Chinese restaurant, ordered take-out, and sat in our living room watching Dr. Who and celebrated a quiet afternoon of no real significance.

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– By Mary Heston

(NOTE: Join #TMOM on Monday August 22 on Twitter for a fun Twitter party all about our cars.)

The summer road trips are coming to an end and so it seemed like a good time to put together the What we Learned List.

Top 5 tips for parents on how to avoid the “AreWeThereYet!” Syndrome.

1. Start Early

Make “Super Fun Summer Road Trips” part of your child’s earliest memories. Once they get it into their heads that this is just something that you do then the next road trip will be easier and easier.

2. Make the back seat a kid friendly zone

On one particularly long road trip I gave the boys a roll of toilet paper and they threw TP all over the back seat. It was a bit of a mess when we got to our destination but inexpensive harmless fun. Another wonderful time waster is a roll of masking tape. Making masking tape balls got us to the next rest stop without any crying or whining.

If you are going to get tense about kids getting crumbs on your nice leather seats then rent a car or get another car that is ok for kids to ride in. Kids are messy. Just count on it.

Randy Pausch wrote in The Last Lecture about a situation where his horrified sister starting yelling at her kids after they spilled something in the back of his car. His response was to spill something else in the back seat right in front of the kids and to let them know that it was only a car. They were what was most important.

3. No Apple Juice or Chocolate Milk

We know kids will make messes so the best thing to do is to avoid anything that will be sticky or icky to clean up if they do make a mess.

Additionally, Chocolate milk can get warm and icky really quickly on a long road trip and in Murphy’s law of road trips your kids will drink the old warm chocolate milk just before you reach the stretch of the trip with the most winding roads. The resulting car sickness will not be pretty. Just avoid this unnecessary and avoidable situation from the start by being proactive. No Chocolate milk. Avoid Strawberry milk too – its just not worth it.

4. Don’t just plug them in

Kids will follow your cue. So make sure you are having fun too and make the trip an interactive experience. Of course you have to keep your eyes on the road but you can teach them new songs or new games like the license plate game or which one is my car game (play this by picking a number between 30 and 60 and then count cars coming in the opposite direction and when you reach that number that is “your” car.

Make going on a road trip a special time with Mom and Dad when there are no phones and no distractions – just fun.
Don’t just turn on the Portable DVD player and have then tune out for the next 135 miles.

5. Let them know what to expect

In advance of your trip let them know about various landmarks you’ll pass along the way so that they can be looking for specific milestones. “We will cross a river and then go through a long valley and pass by 3 mountains” give them specific things to look for.

Giving them a map to color and mark down things they see along the way can be another way to help them understand how far you are going and what to expect the rest of the day.

Be prepared with stories of pioneers that traveled along these parts before there were even cars.

Those are the top tips for the kids. Just a quick reminder for the driver.

1. Make plenty of stops and get out and stretch. Don’t drive if you are tired.
2. If listening to the Wiggles or Barney or some other musician who is your child’s favorite, for hours on end, is going to make you crazy then don’t even allow it to start in the first place. Sure it might make them happy for awhile but it will make you want to leap out of the car and that’s no good.
3. Make sure everyone is buckled in securely
4. Have a cell phone charger and AAA to call in case of emergency.
5. No Distracted Driving: Make sure you have a co-pilot who can read text messages and respond to them for you if it is really that important. Better yet just put your phone in the glove compartment while you’re driving and just check messages at the rest stops.

You have important cargo. Not only do you want to get to your destination with your sanity in tact you also just want to get there.

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– by Mary

There was a time when we traveled without cell phones. We didn’t have GPS. And somehow we got to where we were going. I have been a traveler my entire life and have driven across the United States more times than I can count now.

So, when I got a chance to take a few days and drive with my two little boys to see Grandma I hardly gave it a second thought. The boys were both very little and fastened securely into their car seats so I didn’t have to worry about any hijinx going on in the back seat. So, without much ado we said bye bye daddy (who had to stay home and work), tossed a few things in the trunk, and took off for an all day drive to Grandmas.

Things were going along great. Tunes on the radio, juice boxes all around, great weather for traveling. But then it happened. We had to make a potty break. This was the biggest challenge of the day. Mike was sound asleep in the car and Matt had to go. So, we pulled in to a rest stop and I assessed the situation and decided to just lock the car with Mike still asleep in his car seat and run quickly in to the bathroom. It was not too hot outside and we would just be a couple of minutes. What could go wrong?

Everything went great until we got back to the car. Mike was still sound asleep in his car seat. Matt stood quietly by my side while I checked every pocket for the keys to the car. A sort of panicky feeling starting welling up – where were the keys. I finally looked in the car and yes, there they were, safely and securely waiting for me in the car. I had turned the car off but then left the keys in the ignition and jumped out with Matt, locking Mike and the keys in the car. There didn’t seem to be a phone booth anywhere. I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, people started to realize I was getting a little frantic trying to think about what to do. One couple offered to go find a phone booth and call a the police to come and assist. Several people had gathered around the car and we were all talking about what to do. A man stepped up to talk to me. To this day I can remember every detail of the events of this unlucky situation except what the man looked like. He just sort of appeared and asked me quietly if I cared if he scratched my car a bit. I said “No – Go ahead”.

Out of nowhere he pulled this long metal thing from somewhere and slipped it between the window of the drivers side and the door and yanked it up releasing the door lock. I was watching Mike the whole time and when I turned around to say thanks to our rescuer he had vanished. Another lady standing next to me noticed his quick departure too and said “Wow. That was super lucky that there was a professional car thief in the parking lot today”.

Yes, I was Very lucky that day for a number of reasons. And I never ever left a kid in a car again even for a second.

Do you have an unlucky story. Was there someone who came to your rescue. CLICK HERE to enter the TravelGuard’s Unluckiest Traveler 2: The Rescue contest sponsored by @travelguard. Then join @TravelingMoms on Monday August 1, 2011 at 9PM EST for a super fun #TMOM #WUT2 Twitter party to share your stories with a few unlucky / and many lucky travelers.

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This post is part of a Travelingmom campaign and sponsored by TravelGuard. That’s the lucky part. The part where I locked the keys in the car was all me.

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