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Feb 25 2014

I Won’t Let My Fear of Travel Hamper My Son’s Curiosity About the World

By at 12:26 pm

road-trip

Growing up, my parents liked to take Sunday drives around the scenic parts of Connecticut: to watch changing leaves, visit aging relatives, drive over covered bridges. During one of these outings, I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, I asked my parents if we were in Texas.

Their shock and horror likely prompted them to make the generous offer, some years later, to send me abroad my junior year of college: a last-ditch effort to provide me with some geographical context. I declined, citing a commitment to my position in student government. Obviously the Brandeis Student Senate would suffer mightily in my absence. I stuck with that story, even in my own mind, for a long time.

All that year, I received postcards from friends in Israel, London, Spain, Australia. They told tales of impromptu weekend trips to Florence, milking cows on a kibbutz in southern Israel, and late-night rendezvouses with strangers encountered in youth hostels. What could possibly make me choose “Robert’s Rules of Order” over these exotic adventures? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 10 2014

A Hawaiian Vacation is So Romantic… Unless You Bring Your Baby

By at 9:47 am

hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, you think beautiful beaches, hula dancers, volcanoes, and– perhaps most importantly–ROMANCE!

There’s a reason the tropical islands are among the top honeymoon destinations year after year, right? Lying on the sand, snuggling up with the love of your life, watching a beautiful sunset while drinking your fourth Mai Tai–it is paradise.

But that’s not how it panned out when I went to Hawaii with my husband, my 13-month-old daughter, and my parents recently. Actually, “romantic” was the last adjective that came to mind. Somehow the getaway felt more like a business trip. Just as a business trip can include a gorgeous location, phenomenal people, and delicious food where you leave learning a bit more about yourself, a trip like this was–for me–more than a bit of work. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 30 2013

How to Prepare for a Family Slumber Party

By at 2:47 pm

babe

Over the summer, we had a disastrous experience staying in a hotel room with our 2-year-old and 5-year-old.

Our 2-year-old had been in a bed for a month and we had managed to find a budget hotel with a pull-out couch so everyone had a bed. We left after dinner with the idea that we would just put the kids back to sleep when we arrived at the hotel. That worked well enough.

But, at 4 in the morning, when my son needed a glass of water, my daughter (the 2-year-old) woke up and started singing and chatting. She had her own room at home and wasn’t used to being with the rest of us. No matter how much we told our son not to respond to her, he couldn’t resist. And that was the end of sleep.

This was a frustrating experience in itself. However, it made us very nervous about our holiday travel when we would all be staying in a room together again for five nights. I injected the hope that she would be more pliable at that point, as she would be a few months shy of being 3 years old. However, we decided to prepare. Historically, the kids have had some “sleepovers” in her room with him on the floor in a sleeping bag. So, for Hanukkah, we gave her a sleeping bag of her own. We started having sleepovers in his room, too, to get her used to the idea both of being in a sleeping bag and the practices of being quiet during the night. (Thank you, Hanukkah, for giving us the extra month of training this year.) Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2013

How in the World Do I Pack for Four Kids?

By at 2:51 pm

suitcase packed for vacationWhen I finish packing for this [expletive deleted] cruise, I will need a vacation.

That is what I found myself muttering as I brushed my hair back out of my eyes. In doing so, I wrote on my face with the permanent Sharpie marker that I’d been using to label Ziploc bags full of clothes in every size, for every possible sort of climate. Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo ain’t got nothin’ on me.

This Ziploc thing is me fighting my nature: I am a naturally disorganized person. I am definitely one of those people who sees my messiness as a sign of my creativity and latent genius. My lack of organization (or, as my mother has called it somewhat pejoratively, “slovenliness”), never bothered me back in my pre-child life. When I was looking for my black lace bra, I’d know it was probably on either the chair in my bedroom or under my dresser. Problem solved. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 1 2013

A Change in Travel Plans–and a Reminder to Let Go of Control

By at 12:59 pm

family waiting in the airportGetting to and from the airport is sometimes a challenge when we visit my in-laws in Maryland; we are six people and they don’t have a minivan. In an effort to make things easier on my in-laws, we’ve been flying in and out of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in DC when visiting them, since there is a metro right at the airport, instead of flying into the Baltimore Washington International Airport.

So that’s what we did last Friday when we landed in D.C. Sure, it wasn’t a breeze taking the metro from the airport to their town in Silver Spring with four cranky kids, three suitcases, three backpacks, and a guitar after traveling for two and half hours on an airplane, but it was doable and we know helpful it was to Nana and Zaide. We decided, however, to make the trip to the airport more convenient for the way home, and so we came up with the perfect, not to mention, stress-free grand plan. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 24 2012

Flying Internationally With Kids is a Lot Like Giving Birth

By at 9:54 am

Flying internationally can be rough. It’s a lot of hours to be cooped up in an oversized bus with 300 strangers, stale air, and chicken or beef. But flying internationally with children is not unlike the process of childbirth itself. Hours of torture followed by sleepless nights and only a fleeting sense of accomplishment.

It begins many months before. You buy your tickets knowing there will be some amount of discomfort involved though you figure, how hard could it be? People have been flying with their kids for at least half a century. But seasoned parents are frank with you. Get your sleep now. Don’t get too excited about your personal video player since you’ll be nursing your baby the entire flight. You nod but secretly you think it will be different for you. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 1 2012

Surviving Shabbat At the (Ultra-Orthodox) In-Laws

By at 10:27 am

“I’d rather shove a fork in my eye.”

That was my response when my husband said his parents called and asked if we’d like to come spend the last Shabbat of Sukkot with them in the ultra-Orthodox community my husband, children and I recently moved out of. It wasn’t any one thing in particular that gave me the knee-jerk, panic-stricken reaction to shout, “NO!”

In part, it was the fact that my relationship with my in-laws has been cordial but not particularly warm. It was the idea of spending 24 hours in a place where I’d never felt like myself. And much more basic than that, I hate packing my boys and all their belongings up and taking them somewhere unfamiliar to spend the night. They don’t ever sleep well, which means I don’t sleep well and that translates into one miserable weekend for everyone. My husband said, “Think about it and we’ll let them know tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 30 2012

Labor Day: How to Relax Over the Long Weekend

By at 6:08 am

mother and baby daughter on beachIt seems silly to call a trip with your toddler-aged children a “vacation,” right? I mean, we all know what “vacation” literally means — “freedom from duty, responsibility” — and hence, flying to the sunny shores of Florida with two 16-month-old children definitely shouldn’t qualify, right?

Wrong! I am here to tell you that I did indeed take a vacation with my husband and our twin 16-month-old toddlers last week. And no, it wasn’t always pretty, but YES, I did manage to relax and enjoy my time, despite their presence. So, if you’re planning a last summer hurrah over Labor Day, here are a few tips:

1. Snack cups. Seriously, the girls love these things. I don’t know if it has to do with being “in charge” of something, or an ownership thing, but the girls love to walk around with their fists clenched tightly around a snack cup (full of snacks, obviously). So we gave them snack cups at the beach, in the car, at the pool, etc. This occupied them far longer than you might expect. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 12 2012

10 Tips for Surviving Road Trips with Kids

By at 10:01 am

open roadMy husband and I took our daughters (ages 3.5 and just barely 2) on a 10 hour car drive for our summer vacation last week. Yes, I said 10 hours. Each way.

To answer your initial questions, yes, we all survived, and yes, my husband and I are still sane. I think.

We’ve made the 3.5 hour drive down to New York to visit the girls’ great-grandparents three to four times each year since my older daughter was born. Between those drives and our most recent vacation, I have decided that I am now an expert on road trips, and well qualified to give advice to all of you idiots brave folks who have decided to venture forth on the great American highways this summer. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 5 2012

My Baby is a Better World Traveler Than Me

By at 11:48 am
geneva postcard

Bonjour, Geneva.

Traveling overseas is intimidating. And I say this as someone whose last several international destinations have included Ghana, India, and South Africa.

I hadn’t ventured abroad since early 2010, for a fairly obvious and adorable reason. But my husband recently learned that he needed to spend nine days in Geneva for work. I didn’t like the idea of our being separated (with a toddler, four hands beat two), and Lila and I had no pressing engagements, so I suggested a family adventure. Read the rest of this entry →

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