Category Archives for Travel

From the Road – Akron via Chicago and Philadelphia

Coming home from a fabulous weekend sharing the tools of #yoga and #mindfulness along with playfulness, creativity and love with 20 now newly-minted #kidsyoga teachers. Looking down on some of the amazing things humans have built in our short history lit by a gorgeous autumn sunset. Contemplating how many of the people below me are frightened, angry, and unable or unwilling to see another point of view and hoping what I and so many others are doing is helping in some way. #grateful

We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” -Ray Bradbury #awe#wonder #latergram #nofilter

Final days in Halifax

Fog rolls in over Halifax Harbor

The sun came out for a couple of lovely days at the end of our Halifax trip. The photo above was taken from the Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry on Monday on our way to the science museum, the Halifax Discovery Centre. After that, we went to a Natal Day pirate festival in Dartmouth turn in early, after a bubble bath, of course.

 

Halifax Collage1. Not peak bus-riding time, 2. Silly face on the bus, 3. On top of the rock pile, 4. Under the sand, 5. Floating head box at the science center, 6. Building molecules at the science center, 7. Natal Day bounce house (1), 8. Natal Day bounce house (2), 9. Bubble bath

Working through a video backlog

I don’t do home videos very much here in Puddle Jumping land, but I do occasionally capture snippets of video on my compact camera or phone.  I’ve accumulated many, many minutes of video snapshots of Maya’s first two years and will gradually edit and upload them (probably in no particular order).

Here’s today’s offering:

When we traveled to Paris last year, we tried to time most of our museum visits with M’s naps.  One day, she woke from a nap in the Ergo backpack in one of the halls of the Louvre.  She wanted to make sure we’d noticed that there were really big paintings on the walls.

Five Air Travel Tips for the Solo Parent with Toddler

This article was almost titled: "Keeping a toddler happy during nightmare air travel to Blogher '09."

image from studiojmm.typepad.com On a Thursday evening in July 2009, my toddler (20 months) and I were scheduled on a direct flight from DC's National Airport to Chicago's O'Hare. The original direct flight was delayed and then cancelled due to thunderstorms and rescheduled for a one-stop flight with plane change in St. Louis the next morning. That flight was diverted into a cornfield with an airstrip in Illinois for an hour due to fog, resulting in a missed connection and second rescheduled flight. We finally arrived in Chicago 22 hours after we'd initially left for the airport in DC.

Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

1.) Plan your kid carrying device(s) carefully to accommodate both the airport and ground transportation.

I opted to carry my daughter Maya in our Ergo, a soft backpack child carrier, and pull a rolling suitcase. Maya traveled as a lap child and we planned to use public transpiration in Chicago, eliminating the need for a car seat. Traveling by subway, train, or bus is often easier with a baby carrier than a stroller and it is definitely easier to carry a toddler and pull a suitcase than push a stroller and pull a suitcase.

Navigating airport security is also easier with a soft carrier than a stroller. We've done it a dozen times now and four times with only one parent. No one has ever asked me to put the Ergo or a sling through the x-ray machine, though we have been hand-searched several times (and once swiped for explosives). (Edit fall 2010: New TSA guidelines require removing children from carriers for security, possibly because we've lost our collective mind when it comes to "security", but there it is.)

If I were traveling with a large or heavy toddler or needed a car seat at my destination, I'd switch my tactics completely. I'd pack a backpack and/or several small duffels into a larger folding duffle as my checked luggage. I'd plan to request help getting through security and plan extra time for it. At my destination, I'd carry a couple of small bags or the backpack and stuff the rest under the stroller.

2.) Pack lighter than you think you need to for the airport and be prepared to do a lot of toddler chasing

Among the many benefits of traveling with two adults is that one can sit with the stuff in the airport and rest while the other chases the kid around the airport, hopefully wearing him out for a good nap. If you are on your own, you will need to carry anything you take through security around with you.

image from studiojmm.typepad.com I definitely over packed for the airport. We checked one rolling suitcase and I planned to carry my laptop bag, Maya's diaper bag, and a small bag of books and toys, most of which could then fit back into the rolling bag once we were in Chicago. That was a lot to tote around while chasing a toddler. Maya didn't use a single toy in the airport and slept on all three flights, so fewer toys and books would have been fine.

3.) Let your toddler carry her own stuff in the airport

Have you noticed that toddlers love to push and pull things? Maya adopted a bag belonging to another child (picture right). I'm totally investing in one for our next trip even if I'm not the only parent. It's both a backpack and a rolling bag. It's pretty small, yet easily would have held all of Maya's toys, a change of clothes and diaper(s), and snacks.

If Maya were riding in the Ergo, I would end up carrying my laptop bag and the little backpack, probably one in the hand and one over the shoulder, which wouldn't be bad.

4.) Plan for airport security.

One of the perks of traveling with a small child is that you can often jump security lines. Once you get to the front of the line, you'll want to go through security as smoothly as possible so check out the Transportation Safety Administration's travel tips for managing security lines quickly.

If you are traveling with lots of stuff, say a stroller and car seat, don't hesitate to ask for help. A TSA or airport staff person will likely be able to help you put your stuff through security so you can tend to your child.

If you are traveling with bottles of milk or formula, there is no limit to quantity but you will need a hand check so have your little cooler ready when you get to the front of the line. Same goes for baby food and juice. See the TSA's breastmilk and formula guidelines for details. I've never had trouble with freezer packs but some have. There's always a vendor with ice on the other side of security if you need it.

5.) Capitalize on your toddler's fascination with airports and airplanes.

Maya thinks airports are awesome: moving walkways, giant ramps, wet floor signs, and out the window there are AIRPLANES. Play with barriers, sing in lines, check out bathroom sinks, hopscotch or wander tile patterns, watch luggage get loaded on planes, make the whole thing a game and rediscover your inner child.

Your toddler will only want to play with you this way for so long. In not too many years, you'll be traveling with a cranky teenager instead.

12 Free Things to Do in Washington DC with Kids

Every year, 16 million people visit Washington, DC. While travel and accommodations can sometimes be pricey, once you are in DC, you will find there are find hundreds of free things to do in and around the nation’s capitol.

Every year, 16 million people visit Washington, DC. While travel and accommodations can sometimes be pricey, once you are in DC, you will find there are find hundreds of free things to do in and around the nation’s capitol.

All 19 museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution, including the National Zoo, are free for admission. The Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorials are free. The Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol tour, and White house tour are all free, though require tickets or advanced appointments.

This month’s About.com Parenting and Family blog carnival theme is Cheap Fun, so I thought we should explore the many free things to do in Washington DC that you may not have thought of. And, many of these free things to do in Washington DC are kid-friendly and easy to get to by public transportation.

1. Take in a free performance at the Kennedy Center

The Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center offers free performances at 6 p.m. every night of the week. Concerts are held on the river side of the Kennedy Center and are accessible by shuttle bus from the Foggy Bottom metro station.

There are always kids at Millennium Stage performances. School age kids are most common but the setup up of the performance space is conducive to bringing babies and toddlers as well. The lobby is enormous and there is terrace access right by the stage. It would be quite easy for Mom or Dad to take a fussy tot away to run around while the rest of the family finishes the show.

Monthly performance schedules are posted online. Performances are popular for both tourists and local fans of the performing groups so arrive early if you want to be sure of a seat.

2. Enjoy free live music at the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art hosts free live music at 6:30 pm on Sundays in the winter and the and live jazz in the Sculpture Garden from 5 to 8 pm on Fridays in the summer.

The summer concert series is a popular Friday night picnic destination for DC locals as well as tourists and the place is crawling with kids every week. The fountain in the middle of the garden is a favorite for kids if parents don’t mind damp clothes. The Pavilion Cafe in the sculpture garden serves food and there are other good options near the Archives/Navy Memorial metro station, from which the garden is an easy walk.

The winter series is held inside. There is designated seating for families with small children, but again, arrive early to secure a seat.

3. Watch local talent or a classic movie at the National Theatre

The National Theatre stages performances of local actors, comedians, musicians, singers, and dancers in free performances on Monday evenings from October to April and free movie screenings in the summer. Food and drink are not permitted inside. The National Theater is an easy walk from the Federal Triangle metro station on the blue and orange line.

4. Cool down with musical guests of the National Zoo

The National Zoo presents Sunset Serenades on Lion/Tiger Hill on Thursdays from 6 to 8 pm in July. Another great picnic destination, food can be purchased from zoo vendors of from the many restaurants near the Woody Park/Zoo or Cleveland Park metro stations. The series is extremely popular for families with kids and may draw large crowds. See the zoo web site for the exact schedule and featured performers.

5. Explore architectural history at the Natural Building Museum

The National Building Museum boasts fantastic architecture and hosts exhibits on urban development and architectural history. There is great educational play-space for kids complete with oversized building blocks that is a favorite for Washington DC play-groups, stay-at-home moms, and nannies on rainy days. The National Building Museum is accessible from the Judiciary Square metro station on the red line.

6. Catch classic works of art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Corcoran Gallery of Art is home to a fabulous permanent collection of painting and sculpture and regular special exhibits. Admission is pay-as-you-wish Thursdays evenings from 5-9 p.m. Most DC museums are closed at that time and there are not too many other family-friendly activities near the mall after dinner. The Corcoran is just to the west of the White House and an easy walk from the McPherson Square metro station.

7. Learn about America’s longest sitting president at the FDR Memorial

To escape the crowds around the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin, head toward the Potomac River to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. This fascinating monument chronicles each of FDR’s presidential terms and makes a great place to visit after sunset. The relief sculptures are begging to be touched and the layout of the monument is very kid-friendly. The monument is a bit of a walk from the Smithsonian metro station on the blue and the orange line.

8. Contemplate relativity at the Albert Einstein Memorial

For something a little different, check out the Albert Einstein Memorial at the National Academy of Sciences, just north of the mall near the Vietnam Memorial. Your kids (and those young at heart) won’t be able to resist having their picture taken sitting in that great thinker’s lap.

9. Ponder the stars in the Rock Creek Park Planetarium

Visit the only planetarium operated by the National Park Service in Rock Creek Park. There are presentations especially for kids (ages 3 and up) on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. Maps of the park are available online. There are a number of other kid-focused programs and several playgrounds within Rock Creek Park. The Nature Center and Planetarium is near the Military Road entrance to the park.

10. Roam the exhibits at the National Arboretum

The National Arboretum features plenty of walking paths, a permanent bonsai exhibit, seasonal flowers, the original capitol building pillars, and a grove of state trees. Feeding the huge koi at the visitors center pond is not free, but is cheap, and fun for the kids. The grounds are expansive but there is a reasonably price tram tour that runs several times a day if you want to see the whole thing. The B2 Metrobus runs from Union Station to the Arboretum.

11. Sample the wares at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market

Dupont Circle hosts more than 30 farmers selling fruits, vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, and more at its weekly farmers market on Sunday mornings from April to December. See the FRESHFARM Market web site for details.The market is probably the cheapest way to feed an entire family in Dupont Circle and the variety will thrill kids and adults alike.

12. Wander through time on a Culture Tourism DC Walking Tour

Experience a neighborhood in depth by following one of Cultural Tourism DC‘s free self-guided walking trails. Most tours start near metro stations and maps of the walks are available online.

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Monuments at Night, Sculpture Garden, and FDR Memorial photos copyright Jennifer Mueller.

Pooped in Paris

Hall of Mirrors
Hall of Mirrors, originally uploaded by Studiojmm.

We’re having a lazy day here. With the exception of Mac and Maya nipping to the corner to buy croissants, we hung out in the apartment all morning. At 11, Mac and Alex went to the art museum around the corner (yep) while Maya napped. We’re planning a visit to the Bois de Vincennes for running about, a palace(maybe), and the zoo in the afternoon.

We’re resting up from a visit to Versailles – part of which Alex keeps referring to as the forced march: the walk from the palace to Marie Antoinette’s house. Versailles is tough for toddlers. You can’t touch anything – not even the walls or doors. I also would have appreciated a warning that once you went into Le Chateau, there’s no exit until you’ve been through every room – eek.

Maya was in need of running around. We thought we were going to stick our head in and see a few rooms, hit the grounds, and then come back for more. No such luck.

Maya liked the Hall of mirrors very much though, even though she couldn’t actually go touch them. She also enjoyed the grounds. She didn’t care a bit that it’s the off-season and there are no flowers yet. It was 60 degrees and sunny (a bit too sunny for us slightly reddened adults who didn’t nap in the protection of the Ergo for a bunch of the walk). Sticks and rocks in France are just as interesting as at home, in case you were wondering.

The palace was impressive. I feel like I need to go look up all sorts of stuff. And it was very interesting to contrast the main building with the little estate given to Marie Antoinette. While the inside is distinctly different, following the queens tastes, the grounds are the biggest contrast. The grounds near the palace are as imposing as the building, with little shade and grand walks. There is (or would be were there leaves) more shade further out and, as you get to Le Petit Trianon, you find yourself in an English-style garden and more rustic-looking grounds complete with an entirely fabricated far eastern-style rock and water feature (which I’m really hoping Alex photographed).

Oh well, more tea and snacks . . .

China Photos!

So we're settling into a post-travel routine.  Mac is off at a dance workshop in Maine for the next week which gave me some time this afternoon to finally post photos. (And completely demolish rearrange the bedroom.)    

My initial edit to 220 balloned to 344 once I added Alex's pictures and Mac's special requests.  Have Fun!

Just a sample of a few of the new images.

 

China Favorites

 

1. Yangshou Farming, 2. Black Pool, 3. Ferns, 4. Looking Out From Dinner, 5. Dafu, 6. Peaches, 7. Words & Nature, 8. Just After Dawn, 9. Through, 10. Tablets, 11. Ruins, 12. Lunch, 13. Forbidden City, Casual, 14. Through (2), 15. Typical, 16. Hong Kong – 17, 17. Yangshou – 22, 18. Emei Shan – 19, 19. Hua Shan – 19, 20. Hua Shan – 10

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