Monthly Archives: July 2009

Today’s Tip: Snorkeling With Young Kids

This week I wrote about one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. Of course, it was with my son. When he was five-years old, I took him snorkeling in Hawaii. He had never been snorkeling before and was just learning to swim well. I was not confident it would work out, but it turned out a lot better than expected. With a little preparation, it is possible to take young kids snorkeling. Here’s how:
  1. Buy your own snorkel equipment. If you can afford it, this is the best thing you can do when you’re taking young kids snorkeling. I don’t have anything against renting, it’s just so much easier to take your own equipment. We didn’t buy the fanciest mask either. We just went to a local sporting goods store to hunt one down. Remember, if it doesn’t fit in your luggage, you can always have your kids wear it onto the plane (well, maybe not the flippers).
  2. Try out that equipment in the pool. We practice in grandma’s pool. My son has already requested that I take out his snorkel equipment, so that he can begin his practice sessions for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. We’ll keep practicing, without the pressure of being out in the ocean full of colorful-fishes-I-want-to-see-right-now. We’re both a whole lot more patient in grandma’s pool.
  3. Take along a lifejacket for your kids. Even if they’re great swimmers, it’s just easier for them to float along and enjoy the fishy views. Besides, it’s just safer.
  4. Rent a Boogie Board. It helps to have a floating platform to hold onto. You can also get yourself a flotation belt. I refused to rent one because I’m just to damn cool. But I’m going to rethink the whole cool-girl thing next time. It would have been much easier to adjust our snorkel masks without having to doggie paddle while doing it. I’m not that talented. If you’re going to rent a Boogie Board, then find one with a viewing window. So if you’re child gets tired of donning a snorkel mask, he can get a peek at the fishes through the window.
  5. Keep the snorkeling sessions short. While my son enjoyed exploring the underwater world, it took a lot out of him (and me). He only wanted to do it five to ten minutes at a time. At that young age, he was happier making sand castles and playing in the waves. It also helps to research which beaches have the easiest and calmest access for beginner snorkelers.

In case you need a little more inspiration or tips on technique, I found a little video footage of one our snorkeling sessions in Maui. I offer me in my dorky snorkeling attire, for your viewing pleasure.

Snorkel Dreams

IMG_0605_1Snorkeling with a young child for the first time is hardly a peaceful experience. My son went for his first underwater excursion in the clear waters of Maui, at the age of 5. In the weeks before our trip, I tried to get him ready for the new experience. We searched for the perfect snorkel mask and I let him practice in his grandma’s pool. He spent a few afternoons swallowing chlorine water-and whining about it-until he got comfortable enough.

But when the time came to get into the big, blue ocean, all that practice didn’t help us much. We fumbled around on a boogie board near the shore, like a pair of socks in the washing machine. I was focused on paddling us around to the best viewing spots, staying clear of the waves, and constantly adjusting my child’s mask, or mine.

There was a calm, beautiful world underneath me, but I was missing it entirely. Luckily, my son wasn’t missing a thing. I glanced at him underwater, and saw him waving at the fish. I asked what he was doing and he said: “I’m just saying hi to the fishies.” His innocence and wonder made me stop and smile. So I stuck my head back under the waves and, for a moment, let myself flow with my son and the fishies.

Today, I’m dreaming of the fishies and the snorkeling we will do during our upcoming trip to Hawaii. I got our snorkel masks down from their storage box in the garage yesterday and we headed over to grandma’s pool. It may be a poor substitute for the big, blue ocean, but a little practice never hurts. We want to be ready, so we don’t miss a thing.

This is linked up to Mother of All Trips and her lovely Monday Dreaming post. Go check it out.

Evening in Monterey

IMG_3007I’ve always loved the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but I’ve grown to appreciate it even more now that I have my son in tow. Monterey is a great day trip destination for us, so we’ve been going there since he was a baby. As soon as he could, he began requesting frequent trips to the Aquarium. He had fallen in love with it as well. Nowadays, he walks around like he owns the place.

Because we go so much, I quickly realized it was more economical to buy a membership. Besides all the discounts you receive with your membership, the aquarium does a great job of offering special hours and events for its members. They really treat their members well.

We take advantage of their member nights throughout the year and their member preview days for new exhibits. But our favorite member event of the year has to be their Picnic by the Bay. We went on Thursday evening-with our picnic-to get one of the best dinner views in Monterey: the Kelp Forest Exhibit. They set up candlelit tables all over the aquarium: the Kelp Forest, the huge Outer Bay tank, the area next to the Otters, and outside, for an ocean view. If you brought your own picnic blanket, you can plop yourself down in front of any exhibit in the aquarium. Next year, I may have dinner with the jellyfish.

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Linking up to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday. Go check out all the cool photos there.

Today’s Tip: Recommendations From My Road Trip

IMG_2774We’re back from our road trip to Southern California and on the long way back home I had plenty of time to come up with a list of some important things to consider when planning a road trip in California. Lucky for you, I’m willing to share my top three recommendations:

1. Take some sunscreen and put it on your left arm. You’ll be spending so much time in the car, that you may begin to suffer from a driver’s tan, or worse, a sunburn. Add an extra layer for those driving hands.

3. Be beach bag-ready. It’s not over until there’s sand in your beach bag. Lots and lots of sand. I like to pack a beach bag with our swimsuits, sunscreen, travel towels, and even my beach book. So whenever we see a good beach, we pull over and make that our pit stop. Don’t be caught fishing in your luggage for your swimsuits.

4. Make the perfect California song playlist. This is a state that has gotten more than its fair share of songs written about it, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. When you’re driving through Los Angeles traffic, you’re going to want to be singing “Nobody Walks in L.A.”. You’ll want to break out into song, because the alternative is breaking out into tears. Trust me.

California Road Trip Dreaming

We’re headed to southern California this week for a long awaited road trip. I’m dreaming of the miles of beaches we will drive by, the ebelskivers we will eat at our pit stop in Solvang, and, no doubt, the many times I will hear a little voice from the back seat say: “How much longer?”.  Well, that last one is more of a nightmare. It just reminds me I’ve got to upload some more audiobooks onto my iPod, get the noise canceling headphones, make sure the road trip bingo still has its little pencils, pack the snacks…you get the picture. I have a lot of packing left to do.

So I’m going to keep visualizing the end reward to get me through the hours of work still ahead of me. Here’s the photo that’s been on my screensaver this week. It’s the quintessential California sun dipping down in the ocean, as seen from La Jolla.

IMG_0631I’ll be around to keep you posted on the trip’s highlights and unfortunate moments throughout the week. I’m off to pack the pet hermit crab now. Right after I go check out Mother of All Trip’s Monday Dreaming post.

I’m Halfway There

Monterey Bay Aquarium-Vacation Photos 101

Last week was the blog’s six-month anniversary and I completely forgot to mark the occasion. It figures. Either way, I’m glad I’ve made it this far and I still haven’t been scared away from the world of blogging. I’m even more glad that I haven’t scared away you poor souls. I’ll be honest though, there are many times when I want to take a break. So I do. Those weeks you may notice that the posts are few and far between. The biggest lesson this single mom has learned in life is that there’s only so much one little woman can do. But I don’t beat myself up too much about it because I still manage to get a whole lot done, thank-you-very-much.

While I’m thanking you, let me say how grateful I am to all of those who are still coming back to read. I’m halfway there and still have so much more to write. Luckily, my life provides me with plenty of material. I spent an afternoon planning out post ideas for the next four months. I doubt they’ll actually get posted in the order that I planned it out, but at least I have the general idea of where I’m going. That’s how I live and travel. I make a plan, but I rarely follow it exactly the way it was written.

So without further ado, here’s a preview of what you’ll see in upcoming posts. I always have unfortunate travel moments, so there will be many posts for the live and learn category, such as the evils of Garmin and the road to Hana. There will be some things I write that will actually be useful, that is, if you like to torture you children with software-made itineraries for Disneyland. I liked having my son give me his top picks for Yosemite, so you will see a lot more of these co-authored posts. I’ve found a new way to not feel like a bad mami while he hovers over me while I’m writing.

Gracias for the first six months.

My Kid’s Picks: Best of Yosemite

IMG_2333I may be a guidebook enthusiast, but my recent trip to Yosemite National Park tested the limits of those little books. The reality is that some of the kid-friendly places I had in our itinerary were probably the ones my son found the least interesting or memorable. Kids don’t write the guidebooks, but they can help their moms write blog entries. For this post, I’m letting my seven-year-old expert give a list of his favorite things to do in Yosemite and I’ll write my thoughts on those places. Besides, I had to think of something for him to do while he hovered over me and my laptop.

1. The Waterfalls: Since it was Spring, there were waterfalls tumbling down every bit of granite in the valley. The trail to lower Yosemite Falls was quiet when we did it early in the morning. My son loved the mist and wind at the bottom of the falls. Next time, we just may try hiking a bit further along to the upper falls.

2. Hiking to Vernal Falls: This is the trail that begins just outside the Happy Isles Nature Center. The center has some interesting exhibits, but it’s small. We got through it in about five minutes. If we had gotten there for one of the ranger walks, or we had actually done some of the Junior Ranger activities, we could have spent more time at Happy Isles. We didn’t, so we had plenty of time to hike to Vernal Falls. It was a crowded, paved trail with great views and some steep inclines. As I huffed and puffed up the trail, I thought it was amusing that this was supposedly not the steepest part of the trail. I read in my guidebook, that the hardest part of the trail is past Vernal Falls. Next time, we’ll keep hiking up that part the trail called Mist Trail. I’m going to need some cardio-training.

3. El Capitan: I’m not sure why this made the list, but I suppose it has to do with the fact that my son loves rocks. This is one big rock.

4. The Fuzzy Caterpillar: Ah, you never know when you’ll run into wildlife. We hope this little guy made it to the other side of the bike trail. IMG_2366_1

5. The Village Store: This is the place to go for all of your kitschy Yosemite souvenirs and ice cream bars. Enough said.


Things To Do
Yosemite National Park

Flag over Lake Tahoe

IMG_2655_1Wishing you all a happy Fourth of July from Lake Tahoe, California. I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation as I spend my holiday here in the Sierra Nevada. This is the flag on the Tahoe Queen, a paddlewheeler boat that we cruised around Lake Tahoe in.

If you’re here in the U.S., enjoy your long weekend and check out Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.