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Still Lacking a Summer Vacation Plan?

Do you have a summer vacation plan? Or are you still on the fence about where you’re going? In our household we are just starting to see our summer vacation plans take shape. Happy to stick close to home in the summer, we’re planning several road trips within our home province of Ontario this year. While that might not sound very exotic, it’s incredible what you can find in your own backyard when you look around. In fact, I think summer is the perfect time for many of us to embrace the near and dear while the weather is here. Related: I am so getting an award for my poetry.

Tentatively this is what we’re looking at for our summer vacation:

Muskoka

Forty-three years in this province and I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to Muskoka. Never. I think it’s time.

summer vacation
Ottawa

That’s right, my hometown. We have guests coming to our house this summer and it would be a crime not to show them around the best city in Canada. Here are 5 Can’t Miss Events in Ottawa this summer.

summer vacation

Sault Ste. Marie

We have a wedding in the Sault this summer and it’s been over 20 years since I’ve last been there. While there we plan on checking out the Agawa Canyon!

summer vacation

Quebec

While not actually part of our province, I like to think we’re close enough in Ottawa that it counts. I’m thinking trips to Lafleche Caves and Granby Zoo with the kids should round out the summer nicely. Also, I’ve been told my one little trip to Montreal does not count, so perhaps a romantic getaway with my husband is in order.

summer vacation

But enough about me? What about YOU? Do you know where you’re taking your summer vacation? If you’re still not sure, you must check out the ideas that Taking the Kids has put together! They’ve covered absolutely every type of escape you could possibly want to take from beach vacations to city escapes and from the great outdoors to theme parks. Prepare to be inspired.

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Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

When I was growing up, summer meant at least one road trip with my family. We lived 2.5 hours from the nearest airport and so most of our vacations involved a lot of driving and with five kids in the car, it was always an adventure. In retrospect, I mean.
Now that we live several hours away from both sets of grandparents, road trips have become a way of life. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned about surviving a road trip with kids.

road trip with kids

How’s that for old school? A paper map!

You can survive – you might even like it – so long as you follow these helpful suggestions:
1. Plan as much as you can. As you’re figuring out the best highways to get you to your ultimate destination, you should keep three things in mind:
a. Bathrooms. This one is especially important if you are travelling with young children. Know where the exits are when your 3 year old starts to yell that she has to poop “RIGHT NOW!!!!” And be warned: if you have kids under 7, you are almost guaranteed to have a fake-out bathroom stop, where “I HAVE TO GO!!!” turns into, “Actually, I don’t have to go.”
b. Gas stations. Not all of the dots on the map have one of these, and in smaller centres they might not be open when you need them to be. That’s something you’d rather find out about beforehand. Trust me.
c. Break spots. Everyone gets stir crazy after being in a vehicle for a while. Stop at a tourist attraction along the way, or find a playground and let the kids run around for fifteen minutes. If you can spare the time, let them expend enough energy so they’ll fall asleep before you’re even back on the highway.

road trip with kids

We found this play ground and vintage horse somewhere in BC

2. Pack a potty. Sometimes your child won’t be able to wait until you can find the next public washroom. We found that travelling with one of the cheap plastic potties was a sanity-saver. Make sure to keep it within easy reach. If you’re potty-training, this is almost a necessity.

road trip with kids

See? Useful.

3. Make sure your wheels are road-worthy. When I was 11, our family set off from Saskatchewan to St. Paul, Minnesota in a used minivan that my parents had bought several months prior. Our route took us through South Dakota, to see places like Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug. Wall Drug is located in Wall, South Dakota, a town of less than 1000 people on the edge of Badlands National Park and 50 miles from anywhere else. So of course, that was where the minivan broke down. On a Sunday night. My mom sat with her four kids on a bench outside Wall Drug for hours until a stranger came by and got the van running well enough to get us to Rapid City. Unless you thrive in those kinds of situations, I’d take your vehicle into the shop for a quick tune-up before you hit the road. If you want to be extra careful, purchase an emergency roadside assistance plan.

Road Trip with Kids

You don’t need a monster vehicle for a road trip either. Our Honda Fit has seen many, many miles

4. If the kids are eating they are less likely to cry. Having snacks on hand is important. There are two things I’ve learned the hard way. First, make sure whatever snacks you have for the kids to eat in the car are easy to clean up. Second, make sure the snacks are within easy reach for whoever is going to be handing out the goods. Maybe your kids are patient enough to wait for the driver to find a safe place to pull over and unpack the back of the vehicle so that he can locate the cooler hidden somewhere between the life jackets and a suitcase, but mine weren’t. People who don’t allow eating in their car should reconsider taking a road trip with small children.

road trip with kids

She might be messy, but she’s happy.

5. Give them something to do. It’s helpful to keep the kids occupied (when they’re not eating, of course). How you choose to do this depends on a lot of things: your comfort with giving your kids electronics, their ages, and their personal interests. When the kids were toddlers we relied a lot on movies. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve graduated to various members of the LeapFrog family (no, they didn’t pay me for that mention), colouring and ‘regular’ books. Earphones for any device that makes noise are highly recommended. And music! Don’t forget the music.

road trip with kids

If they don’t have their own books, they might do this to one of yours, or the library’s (as this one was).

With most road trips, the journey itself is as much a part of the vacation as the destination. Hopefully everything will go exactly according to plan, there will be no meltdowns and you will arrive on time. But even if none of that happens, you will have the kind of stories that become part of family legend. And isn’t that what vacations are all about?
road trip with kids

About the Author: You can get to know Erin Chrusch better at Working Mother Chronicles. Find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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How To Pack a Diaper Bag for Travel

Having visited 15 cities in the past year we were well stocked and prepared for our travel adventures but then all of a sudden, the Little Monkey turned one. A toddler. We heard many horror stories about traveling with toddlers and braced ourselves for a tiring trip to Mexico. Luckily for us, our trip to Tulum and Playa del Carmen was no  back breaking, ear piercing or tantrum throwing experience.

After our many travel escapades I can confidently say that a well packed bag is key for an enjoyable experience. Our traveling newborn turned into a traveling toddler and our diaper bag got a bit of a refresh. To be honest my travel diaper bag consists of the same items as my regular diaper bag. At the end of the day, whether it’s a trip to the supermarket or a trip to Mexico, I need the same items! Entertainment, food and fashion are at the core of a good diaper bag!

diaper bag travel

·       Snacks : This is probably what takes the most room! I have everything from Mum-mums to dried fruits and a few  emergency packs of Gourmet baby. No need for spoons which is what I love! They also don’t expire too quickly which means I don’t need to worry about using them up too quickly. I also have granola bars in the diaper bag for times when I’m stuck on the subway starving or when there’s delays and all there is to eat are  stale bagels at a crappy airport coffee shop.

·       Baboo : Another great addition to our bag because I know I always have milk on hand for when she gets whiney! Again, this product lasts 3 months without needing to be refrigerated and it comes with a straw! Great for flights and emergencies when you’ve been caught strolling the mall for an hour too long (oh hush! It happens to you all the time, don’t lie).

·       Change of clothes : The bag is packed with about 2 sweaters, 2 t shirts, 2 pants, 2 pairs of socks, hat, onesie and four face cloths. I’m prepared for everything!

·       Samples : I love collecting samples of  body wash, cream and baby Tylenol. In a bind I use the body wash to clean pacifiers that get thrown around and you always need baby cream to stay hydrated. As for the Tylenol, try flying with a teething baby. Or a sick one. You never know when you’ll need some.

·       Sippy Cup : She’s okay with a straw and drinking from our cups, but her sippy cup is what she loves the most. Especially during teething phases when the rubber portion soothes her gums.

·       Toys : Toddlers need entertainment and while the seat belt and aircraft emergency procedure card entertains for a bit, you need plenty of tricks to help pass the time. Standing in immigration queues. Being stuck on a five hour flight behind a grumpy baby hater. Keeping them quiet during the cabin check. The list goes on. We always have a couple books and the Violet phone (her favourite) in the diaper bag.

·       Butt cleaning supplies : Attachable change pad with wipes, diapers and poop bags are always on hand!

·       Random items for me : pack of tissue, a toonie, a pen, nasal drops, Tylenol pills (adult), disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer

·       Tray and Bib : I  do love our roll up bibbity and tiny diner tray! It’s absolutely perfect for our foodie ways.

 

Words of advice : Squeeze in two diapers at the very bottom of the diaper bag, because the day you forget to refill the regular diaper holder, is when you have an explosion. And it ain’t pretty.

 

How about you.. have anything to share ? A friend of mine mentioned microwaveable sanitizing bags, I think that’s a brilliant idea. Never know when you’d need them!

Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Dubai, Bahrain, Pakistan, the U.S, Australia and England, Yashy now finds herself settled in Toronto, where she met her husband. Toronto, with its captivating events that fuel her passions is the only city that has managed to entertain Yashy for longer than seven years. She continues to nurture her love affair with the city by staying engaged with the diverse community and seeking cultural events that tickle her passions which include fashion, wine, dining, cooking, cocktailing, travelling, and now… exploring all things baby related.

A branding specialist by profession, Yashy is now a work from home mom. When she was on maternity leave with nothing but poop and time on her hands she started blogging ( www.babyandlife.com ) to share her passions and how she strives to strike a balance between baby and self from the very start of motherhood. The blog discusses “lifestyle” – travel, entertaining, food and drink and for the most part- all with a baby on the hip. You can find Yashy on Twitter most days lusting after the next travel opportunity and sharing food and baby pictures alongside events happening in Toronto!

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10 Must Haves for Travel with Newborns

When two became three a year and a half ago, we really had to think about what items we packed for our month long travels. Travel with newborns can be easy as long as you have the right gear. We covered 15 cities in 6 countries during the little one’s first year! Here’s some of my must haves for travelling during those early months.
 
1.    Infant travel bed – The best thing when hotels do not have cribs available or when visiting family. This contraption fits comfortably between the parents (we never had any space issues in a queen bed) and there’s no danger of rolling over the baby. Folds up compactly as well.
 
travel must haves for newborns
2.    Baby carrier – Travelling in most South Asian countries with large groups (read family) it would be near impossible to have a car seat. The baby carrier was used not only for our city tours by foot in London and Paris but also on planes that did not provide a basinet or baby seatbelt and on our road trips in India. I strapped myself to the seatbelt as per usual, the bottom belt tucked under the baby’s legs and the top belt secured under the two top buttons on the carrier. It’s not the safest method but it was the best we could do – I was well secured by the seatbelt and the baby was strapped onto me (no danger of any belts choking her).
 
travel with newborns
 
3.    Breast pump – At times it’s hard to breastfeed in very public places and a hungry baby is not what you want to deal with when surrounded by chaos. Pumped milk to the rescue! Also let’s not forget that glass of wine that MUST accompany those fancy dinners or that tawny port 31,000 ft above homeland.  If you’re concerned about the 110volts vs. 220 don’t be, most hotels have a shaver outlet which works just as well for the pump. Ladies it DOES NOT work for your hair dryers or curling irons though! Be warned! If you are worried about sterilizing the bottles, nozzles e.t.c, don’t be. I always keep a small bottle of washing liquid in the diaper bag, I use this to wash all the items (at the hotel) and then because I’m skeptical about tap water in certain countries, I always boil water in the kettle and then rinse out the ice bucket. Next up toss all the washed items into the ice bucket and pour boiling water to sterilize the items. Toss the dried items into a larger ziplock.
 
travel with newborns
4.    Nursing cover – I’ve fed at Westminster Abbey, a monastic ruin from 1 B.C, at the Churchill war museum, 31,000 ft above ground and countless restaurants and stores, all thanks to the discretion allowed by the nursing cover.
 
travel with newborns
5.    Wipes and diapers – I took these from Toronto because I did not want to deal with experimenting with the wrong kind.  For a month with a newborn we needed 3 large packs of wipes (to keep at the hotel), 3 travel sized packs (for the diaper bag) and 200 diapers.
 
travel with newborns
6.    Pacifiers – I used these arduously on the plane for takeoff and landing and to soothe her to sleep when we went out to eat. Given that I tend to drop things, we “lost” quite a few for the day. Even if I drop it for a second, I refuse to re-use it until it has been sterilized. Have extras on hand, like 5!
 
pacifiers_5935_hdr_1
7.    Blankets – I always take two blankets wherever I go. One to lay on the chair (I prefer each side to be differently coloured so that I always know which is the “dirty” side touching the seat), the other to drape over her.
 
baby-blankets-plain-1
8.    Disposable change pads – We’ve been in places where there has been no change station or worse, an absolutely filthy one. I like to lay the disposable change pad first and then the travel change pad on top. Yes I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Most times I either changed her in the car or tucked away in a corner at a restaurant.
 
travel with newborns
9.    Hand sanitizer – Oh boy did I use this! After dealing with street vendors in India, taking the subway in London and pretty much any interaction we had with “foreign” objects.
 
hand santizer
10.    Camera and laptop – Hey I have to update my blog and Facebook page right!?!
 
 
 
It’s true I’ve had to sacrifice my mandatory 7 pairs of shoes, extra jewellery, hair accessories and purses to fit these items, but truth be told, I didn’t really miss them…much! Best part is that we donated some of the clothes and extra diapers to those kids who are less fortunate in Mumbai. This also makes room for the shopping I’ve done  All in all we fit all of these and our clothes into one suitcase each (two in total), not bad eh!
 

Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Dubai, Bahrain, Pakistan, the U.S, Australia and England, Yashy now finds herself settled in Toronto, where she met her husband. Toronto, with its captivating events that fuel her passions is the only city that has managed to entertain Yashy for longer than seven years. She continues to nurture her love affair with the city by staying engaged with the diverse community and seeking cultural events that tickle her passions which include fashion, wine, dining, cooking, cocktailing, travelling, and now… exploring all things baby related. 

A branding specialist by profession, Yashy is now a work from home mom. When she was on maternity leave with nothing but poop and time on her hands she started blogging ( www.babyandlife.com ) to share her passions and how she strives to strike a balance between baby and self from the very start of motherhood. The blog discusses “lifestyle” – travel, entertaining, food and drink and for the most part- all with a baby on the hip. You can find Yashy on Twitter most days lusting after the next travel opportunity and sharing food and baby pictures alongside events happening in Toronto!

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Churchill, Canada

I’m a proud Canadian, of that there can be no doubt, but I have to admit that I’ve not spent enough time exploring this incredible country. Especially west of Ontario. Or north for that matter. In fact, upon further reflection, I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to Canada. I think it’s time to change that.

The Great Canadian Travel Company sent me this video of Churchill, Canada and I just had to share with you. What an amazing experience this would be! And I know they’re not really snuggly, but don’t those polar bears just look so darn cute?!

Where would you visit in Canada? Check out all the great places on The Great Canadian Travel Company’s page and come back and tell me where you’d go first.

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Expect the Worst, Get the Best

 

On Saturday I woke at 4am and began to immediately dread the journey with my two girls to Mexico. For what it’s worth, I happen to think my children are fantastic travelers, but this was new territory. We were looking down the barrel of a 13 hour day, 7 hours flying time, 3 flights, 3 security checkpoints, 2 custom checks — all with one parent. Yikes! Never mind how would my kids cope, how on earth would I cope? I’ve traveled with them alone many times before, but never quite with travel this complex.

Within a half hour of my husband dropping us off, I was ready to call him and say “Come back”.

First, on two of our three flights, we were not sitting together. This immediately caused great anxiety in my oldest, who got weepy at the check in counter. I assured her, that nobody else was going to want to sit with a kid that was not their own and I would somehow get us seated together. While this stopped the tears, it didn’t stop the non-stop venting for the next twenty minutes about “like, the complete and total injustice of the whole thing”. (I’m paraphrasing slightly but you get the gist, right?)

Then came time to walk through security and I turned to my youngest and said “C’mon, go through the scanner, what are you waiting for?” That was when she turned to me with water welling in her eyes and shook her head no. Note to self: children are highly emotional when woken at 4am.

By the time we got through customs, I was thinking, maybe I should just turn around. Because, really, would me snapping at 30,000 feet do anybody any good?

We stopped for breakfast and things started to turn around. Not a single tear was shed.

Progress.

Then on the first flight, the girls sat together, while I sat one row behind them. This is where I closed my eyes, for what I swore would only be two seconds, and woke up an hour later. It was not my children fighting that woke me up, or the loudness of their voices. Nope they were quietly playing a thumb war. I woke up because my neck apparently doesn’t like to be held at 90 degree angle while sleeping.

We landed in Washington without incident and I was no longer holding my breath. Kudos to the security people in Washington, by the way, who sent me though the scanner first before my kids. I totally get how these things can be intimidating to a kid. With me safely on the other side, it was much easier for my youngest to stroll through. Once I had secured the seat changes, we boarded our next flight bound for Houston and after take-off my youngest proceeded to whip out her homework.

What? Who are you kid and what did you do with my daughter?

Houston held more of the same great behaviour, which was rewarded with new books, chewing gum and fancy drinks at a restaurant. Seat changes were made again and we headed for Cancun. Just before we landed, I leaned over and kissed them both and told them how much I loved them.

“How did we do today mom?” my youngest turned and said to me.

“You two rocked my world. How did I do?”

She shrugged. “Meh, alright, I guess.”

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Christmas Morning at Cinderella’s Castle

On what is the hottest day of the year, possibly ever in Ottawa, I’m going to broach a topic that seems so far off. Christmas. Why am I pushing the panic button? Because there’s only 161 days left until Christmas and if you plan on being at Disney World this year, you need to make your dining reservations….STAT!

Christmas is a wildly popular time of year to visit the Magic Kingdom and planning ahead will make your trip far more enjoyable. It was around this time last year that we started to line up all the things we wanted to have in place to make our trip spectacular.

Reservations at Fort Wilderness, what attractions we wanted to see most, like The Osborne Spectacle of Lights and the massive Gingerbread House at Disney’s Grand Floridian, and finally where we were going to have our Christmas breakfast. For us, there was no better place to be than Cinderella’s Castle on Christmas morning, the icon really of all things Disney. Also, it was the perfect place to be to stroll out and catch the Christmas Day parade.

BUT, I made my reservations in July and so should you! Make your reservations now! You can make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance of your trip. Which means we’re already 19 days past! *Gulp* If it’s already sold out, don’t despair. Keep trying. There are cancellations all the time. Persistence is key. Visit the Disney Dining & Reservations page to explore what your options are for dining. Then sit the family down and make a plan. Go! (and have fun)

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Posh Places to Stay in England

They’ve just finished celebrating their Queen’s 60th Jubilee and now they’re bracing themselves for the 2012 Olympics, which take place in London this summer. Europe might be suffering economic woes, but the British seem to be having lots of fun at the moment. We love to holiday in England, and have grown familiar with their broad range of accommodation, from fun but admittedly cramped vintage caravans, to comfortable luxury family hotels in beautiful parkland.

These days, we err towards the latter. The novelty of sleeping in an Airstream in a soggy British field wore off as we grew older and – well – pickier about our mattresses. Our favourite British hotels are converted old mansions, once occupied by English kings and queens of old, or lords and ladies at the very least.

It’s hard to imagine these places ever being someone’s home. And some of these aristocrats didn’t even live there all year round, leaving staff to take care of the place (and any bedridden aunties and uncles, I suppose) while they spent the winter at their London townhouse, or travelled in Europe.

The wealth involved in even building these places is staggering – and maintaining them, along with all the maids, housekeepers, gardeners and so forth, required a wealth that few English landowners can boast today, at least in their private residences.

These days, many of these fabulous old buildings are owned by an organisation called the National Trust, which preserves and protects heritage buildings, restoring their interiors to an authentic state and opening them to the public.

Luckily for us, some of them have also been converted into hotels. The interiors aren’t quite so authentic as they used to be, but that’s fine by me – 16th century tapestry bedding would probably make me sneeze all night.

Thornbury Castle, near Bristol in the South West, is one of our favourites. I’ve been fascinated by the Tudors (who ruled England throughout the 16th century) and Thornbury was owned, briefly, by Henry VIII, who stayed there with his ill-fated queen, Anne Boleyn. It’s not actually a real castle – times were fairly peaceful, when it was built, and the fashion then was to make your country mansion look like a castle, without going to the expense of building nice thick cannonball-proof walls.

This kept your aristocratic pride intact, even though your nice big windows – large enough to let lots of light in – wouldn’t offer much protection in a crossbow fight. Thornbury does actually have little arrowslits (aka ‘loopholes’) up its main tower, so you can still play at being besieged, if you want to.

Down South, in the New Forest – a wonderful area originally set aside by William the Conqueror as his private hunting ground, and now home to diverse British wildlife – New Park Manor is also popular amongst our family. We love the area, for a start – it’s excellent for walking, cycling and pony trekking on the indigenous New Forest Ponies that have inhabited the region since before the last Ice Age. It’s fun at night, too, when you can go out looking for bats and owls. The Manor itself was used by King Charles II as a hunting lodge. We can see why he liked it so much and, heck, if it was good enough for him; it’s good enough for us. And these days, the mattresses are much nicer.

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Ottawa Tourism

Those who know me well, know that I LOVE my adopted hometown of Ottawa. I sing it’s praises everywhere I go. I truly believe it’s one of the best places to live in Canada. It also happens to be a great place to visit, any time of the year. Summer is loaded with activities, as you’ll see in a minute. Fall is bursting with colour, winter has our world famous Rideau Canal and Winterlude. Spring sees us burst into colour again with tulips everywhere. There is no bad time of the year to visit us.

Riding the Double Decker Bus

Last summer, I started to feel a little bad about always rushing out to another tourist locale and not giving Ottawa the love she deserved. Isn’t that always the way? We rush to other destinations and forget what wonder we have in our own back yard. So we grounded ourselves. It was the best summer ever. We enjoyed our backyard, and our glorious summer weather and never felt like we missed our vacation because we got out and did those “touristy” things. Perfect.

Today, I was on CTV Ottawa Morning Live sharing some of the great things we found to do.

You can find the posts I wrote about our Pirate adventure here, our perfect day in downtown Ottawa here and yet another great day trip here. Finally, our visits to Calypso and Saunders Farm. Phew! We were busy. I can’t wait to do all of it again and then some this summer.

If you’re planning to visit Ottawa, make sure you check out the fabulous Ottawa Tourism website to help plan your trip or feel free to leave me a question in the comments. Always happy to help a guest.

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No Tech Travel with Kids

by Katja Wulfers

We are a travelling family; not of the nomadic variety, although that has a definite appeal, and I’d never say never. There is something so exciting about packing our bags, hopping on a flight or in the car and taking off to parts unknown. It’s our favourite thing to do together. As much as the four of us are accustomed to travel there isn’t a trip we’ve been on that hasn’t caused butterflies in my stomach. Should you pay us a visit in the days leading up to a vacation you’ll find children buzzing with anticipation, adults grinning like Cheshire cats, and chaos. A lot of chaos.

As a foursome we’ve jetted to Hong Kong and mainland China, soaked up the vibe in the Caribbean, visited France many times, traipsed around the US, and explored Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Sometimes all it takes is a day trip someplace different from home and we feel we’ve been away. Travel is family time because our daily life is often hectic and ruled by school, work, and sports schedules.

In the interest of togetherness we instituted a new rule two years ago, no electronics on family trips. WHAT? You’ve got it baby! The kids do not bring their DS, iPod Touch, or anything remotely beeping and soul sucking on family vacations. * Why? Because we are cruel, heartless, old, and borderline abusive. Also we wanted some real family time. Time to talk, or not. Time to sing, much to our children’s absolute embarrassment (bonus), or just listen to music. Time to play games. Time where we could exclaim in wonder at a passing sight or just sit quietly and appreciate the trip.

Beautiful isn’t it. Makes me tear up just thinking about it. Also makes me want to break out into Kumbaya or possibly If You’re Happy and You Know It. Before you gape in wonder at our reckless disregard for all that is good and holy, like parental sanity, it hasn’t been easy. The reality is, there’s been arguing. Also pinching, stick swinging, cheating at games, yelling – that was me, objects flying out the windows of moving vehicles, and tantrums – again, that may have been me. We are persisting because in between all the madness there are glimmers of peace and fun.

While driving through British Columbia last summer the kids played countless card games. Their future as card sharks is assured, which will be a huge benefit for paying university tuition fees. While using his Flip camera our son became Mr. Filmmaker. Some of the captured moments, like me yelling at them, should probably be erased, but others are quite funny. Nuh-uh…me yelling is not funny. He discovered a new interest which he may otherwise not have done if the iPod Touch hadn’t been M.I.A. Well, not so much M.I.A. as M.H.H.I. ** Our daughter wrote and drew in her notebook for hours. She probably completed an entire novel in a 17-day span. That’s quite an achievement for a 7 year old, and all because the DS stayed home.

Next stop – France this July. If my husband and I make it out alive, and reasonably sane, consider this experiment a viable alternative to all of the shooting sounds, repetitive music, and beeping you routinely hear from the back seat. If you don’t hear from us, send help. Or wine.

* We do bring a laptop to upload photos to and so that the kids can watch movies in the evenings. We’re not that old and cruel. We also bring our phones. We may be crazy, but we’re not certifiable.

** M.H.H.I. is the well-known acronym for Mom Has Had It.

Pleasantville Note: When I asked Kat to submit a bio to me for her guest post, she balked. I don’t blame her. I hate writing those things too. I do however LOVE writing them for other people. So when I suggested I could make hers up for her, she said, ok. So here you go:

Kat is a mom first, but is also trained in the Jedi arts. When not fighting Stormtroopers, she can be found at the bottom of a vodka bottle.

Honestly, I don’t even know where Kat came from. All I know is that one day I started talking to this hilarious person on Twitter and I never, ever wanted her to go away. Kat is funny, in a dry, twisted, sarcastic way and for that I adore her. She is also a terrific blogger. When she said she’d visit Pleasantville, I was thrilled. Welcome to my home Kat, let me pour you a sangria. I plan to get you drunk, so you’ll come back and visit again. Follow Kat @jackstrawlane and check out her blog Jack Straw Lane.

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