Monthly Archives: April 2009

Comments Make The Blog Go Round

Today marks this blog’s fourth month anniversary, and I’m still going strong. Well, truth be told, some days I sit down at my computer and feel as if I couldn’t string two words together to save my life. What keeps me going? My loyal readers of course. 

The coolest part of blogging is getting to read people’s responses to what you write. So I’m going to send out a bit of appreciation to everyone who takes the time to put in their two cents. Here are my all-time favorite comment so far.

From Simone, a loyal reader and friend (a.k.a you know who), wrote in response to my first Photo Friday post about the hippos at the San Diego Zoo: “ok, this is a very different kind of comment, but try to go to youtube and search hippo & impala. i saw this video and it was astounding, especially given the fact that in the wild, hippos are one of the largest causes of human fatalities in africa! can you believe it? i couldn’t. still can’t. i don’t know much of it but want to guess that humans are to blame, bc this one of a hippo coming to the defense of a baby impala is just too amazing. love the hippo photo. and the name: hippopotamus. hippo. c’mon. i’m in a better mood already.”  So of course I went to you tube and checked out this video, and it was pretty darn unbelievable.

Globalgal responded to another of my Photo Friday posts about my son feeding the Lorikeets: “Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the zoo and wild animal park in San Diego. Mostly memories of animals, but also when my brother vomited over the side of a double decker bus and it landed on everyone’s arms and cameras. The joys of traveling with kids! We tease him about it to this day.”  I don’t think I’ll ever, ever stand next to one of those double-decker buses at the San Diego Zoo again.

When I wrote some tips about how to handle (or not handle) Disneyland during Spring Break, Meg added some of her own experiences with Disney World during Spring Break: “Before kids, I ended up in Orlando during spring break. What did I learn – find the polar opposite of Disney/kids activities and you may find Nirvana. My find was the Giorgio Armani outlet which was having such an incredible sale I bought four pairs of shoes for $125. Four pairs of classic, leather Giorgio Armani (and Armani exchange) shoes at an average of $32 a pair (retail for most was in the hundreds). Just saying, spring break in the land of Disney can have some advantages (and 6 years later I still have all four pairs).”  Thanks Meg. I would’ve never, ever thought of Disney World as a haven for designer shoe shoppers.

I shared my miserable Spring Break sickation experience and ya’ll felt bad for me. Thanks for commiserating with me. Tiffany wrote: “So far, the worst experience we’ve had with sickation was a canceled trip to Disneyland, which we rectified the following week to much success. But, there are some trips that you can’t really reschedule. For example, my daughter had an ear infection, and I asked the doctor, “Can she still fly in a plane?” The doctor assured me that she could, but that I probably wanted to have as many ear popping comforts available at-the-ready just in case. The flight went without incident, but the following morning, she threw up. I don’t know if it was related to the ear infection. She was fine after 24 hours. However, I will always have the guilt that if my poor daughter had brought a horrible virus to her cousins (who were on spring break), I don’t think I could have lived with myself. As it turned out, the rest of the week was amazing. I don’t think I learned my lesson on this one.” Tiffany I remember reading about your canceled trip to Disneyland, and I laughed even though I was feeling for you at the same time.

It’s also good to know I’m not the only one with funny, but unfortunate traveling experiences. Minnemom wrote in response to my sad post about getting lost on a long drive home: “We had this trouble in Washington, D.C. years ago. Every time we got on the beltline to go downtown, we’d see “Welcome to Maryland.” Or notice, “Hey, the Washington Monument is supposed to be on the OTHER side of the car…” We did this at least three times. Slow learners or poor navigators, I guess.” 

Finally, it’s always great to know that my posts about family travel were actually inspiring to someone. Lorraine wrote in response to my tips on making day trip traditions:  “…this is so true, and SO good to be reminded of. Get this… you recently posted about Monterey. You’ll be proud that we made it out there on Sunday, for a ‘day’ trip, to meet up with old friends. It was perfect. Although we didn’t make it to Archies, we DID make it to the park & the beach. We all came back happy & exhilerated. It was your post that got me to nudge my family to go, or else we might have flaked. So, there you go – thanks for those reminders, we all need them.”

Thanks, merci, gracias for all the comments.

I Share My Misfortunes, So You Won’t Feel So Bad

Remember last week when I shared the unfortunate events of my spring break, a.k.a. sickation. Well, a revised version of the post is up at Travel Savvy Mom this week. So go ahead and check it out. Make some comments, wallow with me in the misery of sickations. We’ll all feel so much better about it.

On Top of the World

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Son, let me introduce you to the whole, wide world.

This is my little guy, of course, getting the best view of the San Francisco Bay. That’s the Golden Gate in the center, while San Francisco and the Bay Bridge are on the left. Where can you find such a view? From the outdoor exhibit area of the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. I could’ve lazed around up there all day, waiting for my son as he played. This is what every kid’s museum needs as far as I’m concerned. Now if there had been an expresso cart out there, it would’ve been sheer perfection.

To actually see photos from the whole, wide world, go to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

Three Green Travel Resolutions

It’s Earth Day, so this has me thinking about some of my not-so-sustainable traveling habits. Here’s how I hope to turn to the greener side of travel this year.

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  1. I will tame my love affair with plastic bags. I admit that I use too many Ziplock bags when I’m packing for a trip. It’s just that they are so good for organizing all the kid stuff I need to bring along. I bag my kid’s snack, and his toys, and his clothes, and…just about everything. There has to be a better way.
  2. I will bring along my own refillable water bottles. I also hate to admit I take along, or buy, cases of plastic water bottles when I’m on a trip. It’s hard to get away from the plastic bottles at most hotel rooms, but easy to refill my reusable bottles at restaurants when we’re out sightseeing. My sister did that on our trip to Disneyland, and it worked out great. Well, except when they told her not to mind how cloudy the water was.
  3. I will spend my travel dollars at places that have good environmental practices. In all my days of travel, I have only stayed at one “green” hotel. It was The Ambrose Hotel, in Santa Monica. I loved that I could recycle in my room, that they had a water-saving shower, and that they served all local, organic food. I stayed there, because of their sustainable practices. That, and the reviewers keep raving about their chocolate croissants at breakfast. 

Because I have this blog, I have ya’ll to keep me accountable for all this green talk. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Today’s Tip: Surviving a Sickation

My spring break road trip was canceled. I’m still a bit weepy, so you might see a few tear-stained words on this post. I was forced to take something worse than a staycation, it was a sickation*. 

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Here are some spring break highlights: an ear infection, an allergic reaction to antibiotics, and a couple of visits to the doctors. But we got through it. My son got healthier, and I didn’t go completely stir-crazy. Here are some tried and true tips for surviving a sickation. May you never have to actually use them.

  • Know Thy Cancellation Policies: I figured out early on in my career as a mother that there’s a 50/50 chance that my son would get sick right before a vacation. It’s some sort of natural law. That’s why I book directly through the hotel, in case I need to take advantage of their often generous cancellation policies. Sometimes I’m tempted to prepay my stay, since it may save me money. I only do this if I’m booking at the last minute and I’m fairly sure everyone in the family is healthy, or if I’m feeling as lucky as James Bond at a casino. 
  • Long Live the Day Trip: When we were finally well enough to venture outdoors again, I took some sanity-saving day trips. The only commitment we needed to make was to have fun. We got to explore some new places, and those we know and love. Either way, we got the feel of a vacation, but were still close enough to the pediatrician’s office. 
  • This Too Shall Pass: When the going gets tough, the tough starts to plan her next trip. I spent most of my sickation, planning my summer vacation. I bought some new travel books, did lots of research, and filled my cup to half-full again. Only 41 days left ’til school’s out!

*I love that I found a new, more annoying use of the suffix: -tion. Urban dictionary defines sickation as: “Using sick time at work to get a paid vacation because you are about to lose your accumulated sick time or because you want days off but have no more vacation time.” Kids Go West Dictionary adds another meaning to the word: “A forced use of vacation time to stay at home and tend to a sick kid.”

Dinosaur Hunting in Berkeley

img_2137I wanted to take my son to see some dinosaur fossils, since he’s studying all about them at school this month. But were? The new California Academy of sciences has a section devoted to dinosaurs and fossils, but I wasn’t ready to brave the crowds.

 

So I found the perfect alternative for our day trip: the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley. This museum is housed in the Life Sciences building on the university campus. It’s not a typical museum, as the exhibits are spread out in the halls of this building of research and study. We spent about half an hour and saw all of the displays. 

These are some of the fossils we enjoyed viewing the most:

  • There is a freestanding mount of T-rex in the atrium, and a Pteranodon hanging over his head. Next to the big guy, is a computer exhibit where kids can find out more about the life and times of the Tyrannosaurus. 
  • Climb the stairwell past the T-rex and head through the doors of the natural sciences library to find where the Triceratops hang out. There you can view the smallest Triceratops skull ever found, and plenty of studious college kids. My son was just as much in awe of the big kids at the library, as he was of the fossil displays.
  • Among some of the other fossils you’ll find on the second floor, is the Archaeopteryx, the world’s earliest known feathered bird.img_2143

Useful tidbits: The UCMP website has details on what fossils you will find on display, as well as some cool links on other dino-related information. You can view the displays as long as the Natural Sciences building and library is open. The museum is free of charge. 

The university has plenty of other museums and areas to explore after your visit. I would definitely add a visit to the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Things To Do
Berkeley

Today’s Tip: I Love TripTik®

img_2120Some of you have used TripTik® before, so you may already feel the same way I do. You know that if you go to the AAA website, you will find a great online mapping tool to help you plan your road trips.  And if you don’t feel the same love as I do for TripTik®, then you are free to leave your critical comments down below. I doubt you’ll be able to sway my love though. Why am I gushing? Let me count the ways.

  1. You don’t need to type in exact addresses to get directions to a destination. Say you want to make a quick estimate of how long it will take you to get to Joshua Tree National Park from your home, you just find it by clicking to on National Park category under California. I love this feature because I’m always trying to give myself a quick reality check for all the vacation ideas I have swimming around in my head.
  2. You can save all your trips when you log in as an AAA member. This comes in handy when you have a million possible road trips you are planning. I currently have over 20 future trips saved. Did I mention I just got a new car this year?
  3. You can check hotel rate and availability from your trip map. When I’m checking out hotels in an area, it’s nice to see those on a map and be able to click right on the icon to check for rates. Of course, I would check other sources for hotels and rates, but it’s a nice feature to use when you are in the preliminary stages of planning your trip.

There are all sorts of nifty, little features that I’m still finding every time I add a trip. Even if you can’t list planning road trips as one of your hobbies, you’ll find this mapping tool pretty darn useful.

Tulips and Tea Time at Filoli Gardens

img_0354Spot On: When I want to feel like I’m in England for the day, I speak with a badly executed British accent or I visit Filoli Gardens. Everything at these formal gardens-the beds of tulips, the historic house, the mazes, and the dove in the garden house-make you feel like you’ve been transported to another time and place. 

Smell the Flowers: Spring time is the best (and most crowded) time to visit the gardens. But there’s always something blooming, so I like to check the blooming calendar and weekly updates on their website to help plan my visit. 

Useful Tidbits: There are rules for etiquette and they are usually enforced by the dozens of volunteer docents wandering the garden. So if you have a small child that will have a hard time staying out of the field of tulips or the forbidden lawn, you may want to wait until they get older. The gardens are open 10:00 (11:00 on Sunday) to 3:30. The last admission to the gardens is 2:30, so don’t plan on a late afternoon visit. You can’t picnic inside the gardens. There’s a cafe that serves your standard northern california deli-style lunch and pastries. I usually eat before hand and take my tea (coffee) and pastry to the outdoor tables. DO NOT forget your camera. img_1974

Worth the Cost: Price of admission is $12 for adults, $5 for students, and kids 4 and under are free. I think it’s worth the cost, since you can spend a couple of blissful hours exploring the expansive grounds, and entrance to the house is included in the admission.

Where: About 30 miles south of San Francisco. 86 Cañada Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

Wish I Was Here: Breakfast in Waikiki

waikiki breakfastGet a load of this classic view. This is Waikiki Beach from the veranda of the Hula Grill, above Duke’s Restaurant.

I order the macadamia nut pancakes, some sliced guava, and lots of coffee. I look at this picture and I swear I can taste those yummy pancakes again. On those days where I need a mental escape, I think of places I’ve visited that take me away from it all.

Who knows if those pancakes are really that heavenly, but everything tastes better in paradise. I wouldn’t usually hang out on Waikiki beach too long, because I like less crowded beaches. But in the early morning, the beach is still quiet, and you can watch the outrigger canoes and surfers while you sip your coffee. The best thing is that your kid may be entertained by the scene long enough to give you at least 30 seconds of peace. See? It is paradise.

For more of a mental escape, got to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

Family Travel Tips
Honolulu

Today’s Tip: Tips Rock!

teacups and tipsThis week marks my blog’s third month anniversary. It seems like just yesterday that I posted my first installment of “Todays’ Tip”, except back then I wanted to call it Tipsy Tuesday. I also wanted to get it posted every Tuesday. Since then I figured out that I should tone down a bit of my humor (sometimes I’m the only one laughing at my jokes), and that I won’t always be able to post a tip on Tuesday (full-time employment gets in the way). So now I’ve settled on calling it “Today’s Tip”, so it can get posted on Wednesday, if I’m having an especially hectic week.

You will find my tips in the category: Something Actually Useful. And they are, for the most part, useful. I suppose it depends what your definition of useful is. The thing about tips is that they can be very subjective. One woman is thrilled about using empty Tic Tac containers as pill storage, as I read in Budget Travel magazine, or another is thrilled about using her socks to tote cameras. Others might find these tips a lot less exciting.

You will probably read about tips every single day. Some you will love and vow to actually use. This week I read about how one Traveling Mama checks under her hotel bed for weirdos. I never thought about doing this, but will probably take a little peek under my bed on my next trip.  You just never know. I once read about how Travel Savvy Mom packs peanut butter on her family trips. I love this idea, but can’t figure out if the peanut butter needs to be refrigerated once it’s opened. I’m very inquisitive like that.

I love to read tips about traveling with children, written by moms (and dads!) who actually have tested them out. Most of the sites on my blogroll are written by moms who share their family travel wisdom. These sites are chock-full of useful tips, just check out Delicious Baby’s extensive list of tips. I hope one day to have actually shared that many tips with ya’ll. I’m going to warn you though, that my tips probably won’t be as detailed. Though I swear, that I will have tested each and every one. 

Here are some of my favorite installments of “Today’s Tips” so far, in case you missed any. 

  • When Maps Fall Into the Wrong Hands
  • Save Money on Vacation Dining
  • Disneyland During Spring Break