Monthly Archives: June 2013

How To Be Prepared For A Sick Child On Vacation

I don’t know about other kids, but our kids? They like to get sick. Or, rather, they like to get these weird little 1 or 2 day fevers or colds that don’t really stop them completely but do slow them down enough to make a difference, especially when traveling. So we always have to be prepared when we travel for these crazy viruses to strike, especially after flying.

On our trip to Seattle we set off on the wrong foot, with F sporting a fever that had him down for the count, which was clear when he refused to get out of the stroller, something a normal 5 year old would think is totally uncool to sit in. It was only a matter of time before L came down with the same thing, and sure enough 2 days later she was down for the count, starting with throwing up on the street in Bainbridge Island and ending with her falling asleep on my lap at dinner that night.

Asleep at dinner

Asleep at dinner

So what do we like to bring with us when we travel to help out in moments exactly like these? When we travel in the US we know we can get what we need at the store, but we never know how easily accessible stores will be, so while we don’t overload ourselves with stuff we do bring the basics.

My new favorite things are Fever Bugz and Be Kool soft gel sheets to cool a hot head. The fever bugz are a sticker you can place on their head (and can stay on for up to 48 hours) and see how warm they are. My kids like the fact they are bug stickers, and I like the fact that I don’t have to wrestle them to take their temperature. I will say it isn’t accurate to the degree, but it gives you a good idea of where it falls, and that works for a minor fever. The soft gel sheets can also be placed on their heads, for up to 8 hours, and can cool them down and help make a miserable child feel better.

Modeling the FeverBugz after some medicine

Modeling the FeverBugz after some medicine

L, 2, is, shall I say, medicinally challenged. It has amazed her doctors how averse she is to taking medicine, and it makes bringing her fevers down difficult. Now that she is 2 and can take children’s chewable ibuprofen they have become our go to medicine for travel. No liquid, so we don’t have to worry about a TSA agent not allowing us to bring it through (despite the fact medicine is exempt from the 3:1:1 rule), and I can throw it in my bag to take wherever we go. Most medicine comes in chewable form, so it is worth checking out to see if what you need comes this way.

When we fly we always bring extra clothes, and a ziploc bag to put soiled clothes in. We do the same when we are out for the day touring, since getting back to the hotel/apartment isn’t always easy to do. A ziploc bag (freezer size) comes in handy for so many things, but no one wants to walk around with dirty clothes and nowhere to put them.

Traveling overseas is a different story, and since we don’t know what we can find when we are in other countries we do bring enough to cover our bases in case of any situation. One thing we found out when traveling back to the UK and F, then 18 months, came down with a cold, is that ‘snot suckers’ are not sold over there. Who knew? So even small things like that, which make a difference with a cold, may not be found while traveling overseas. We also discovered that while cough medicine is not sold for kids under the age of 6 in the US we were able to buy cough medicine for our almost 4 year old with no problem in Europe.

Finally, with kids as clumsy as ours, who like to run and explore and inevitably fall, we always carry the MediBuddy with us, a first aid kit for kids that includes band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze and more.

What do you travel with to ensure keeping your kids healthy, or making them feel better if they get sick?

This is part of Travel Tip Tuesday at WalkingOnTravels and Suitcases and Sippycups

Seattle With Kids Day 3…Bainbridge Island & Volunteer Park

Hey there! Remember that trip we made to Seattle weeks ago? The one I am just now jumping back into the blogging world to start writing about again? Yeah, that one. So, here we are. It turns out when you go from one trip to another that includes 22 hours of driving you have little energy left to expend on writing about the trips. But, I will do my best.

We woke up on our last day in Seattle before we were driving up to Vancouver and decided to head out to Bainbridge Island. This trip was going to satisfy a few wants of everyone in our family; we would be able to ride a ferry, looking for whales (we knew we wouldn’t see any but F, at 5, didn’t know so it was exciting for him to be on the lookout for them), and we got to explore a different part of Seattle that was very different than the Seattle we had been experiencing.

Getting to the ferry was easy, even though we paid a premium for parking around the corner. We purchased our tickets where we waited to board the ferry (both F, 5, and L, 2, were free), and we were each $7.70, with the return portion free. The total time was around 35 minutes, and while we didn’t see any whales we did some gorgeous scenery that we all enjoyed.

View on ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

View on ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge IslandWatching the water as we ferried to BainbridgeWatching the water as we ferried to BainbridgeFYI - this is not looked upon in a positive light!FYI – this is not looked upon in a positive light!Coming up on BainbridgeComing up on BainbridgeWelcome to Bainbridge!Welcome to Bainbridge!The marina at Bainbridge IslandThe marina at Bainbridge IslandHanging out by the marinaHanging out by the marina

Once we got there we walked the short walk into ‘town’ and set out to see what there was to do there. Unfortunately for us, not much. There is a children’s museum, but we opted not to visit it due to time. Instead we sat and had a snack – which, for our kids, was as exciting as it gets since it involved chocolate – and talked to some friendly locals who seemed fascinated that we had come from Atlanta just for vacation. One of them kindly pointed us in the right direction for a family friendly lunch, and after a second stop for a drink we had some lunch at Doc’s Marina Grill, which was both easy and good for kids.

And then? It went downhill. On our walk back to the ferry L was crying, and made herself sick. We thought it was from the tears, but the fever came on after and so we knew we were on track for another rough day or two with fever. To the kind people of Bainbridge who watched her get sick on the sidewalk, I apologize with all my heart. It sucked worse for us than you, I can assure you.

We rushed to the ferry, hopped on, and headed back to Seattle. Later that day, after some naps and quiet time, we were due to meet some friends for dinner and had some time to kill, so we stopped at Volunteer Park, located in Capitol Hill, where we were staying. It is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum as well as the Volunteer Park Water Tower, a wading pool and some fish ponds. It had some beautiful flowers, and would have been lovely to walk around more in. Unfortunately for us L was still feeling under the weather and we had dinner plans, but we did get some time in with the fish.

Not happy in Volunteer Park

Not happy in Volunteer ParkOne of the fish pondsOne of the fish pondsThe fish were huge!The fish were huge!

A few blocks away we met some friends at Vios Cafe, a Greek restaurant that not only claims to be family friendly but truly is, with a play area that kids can play in while you wait for your food, or, in our case, visit with friends. It is such a great way to be able to eat and keep your kids occupied at the same time.

We tried to end our night with Molly Moon, but it is no joke that this is one of the most popular ice cream places in Seattle!

Highlights of the day:

Food:

- Docs Marina Grill

- Vios Cafe

Sites:

- Bainbridge Island

- Volunteer Park

Transport:

Today was strictly a driving and ferry kind of day, with the exception of some walking on Bainbridge. If you planned on just seeing the main street area/marina area of Bainbridge you wouldn’t need a car, but if you wanted to explore further you would need to drive, bringing your car on the ferry.

Helpful Tips:

Sometimes I feel like I am constantly weighed down by the amount of stuff I carry with me on a daily basis, but I was really happy that I had thrown in a change of clothes for L, as well as a plastic bag and plenty of wipes, because we had to use all of them when she got sick. Sometimes making sure you have an extra change for all kids involved is worth the extra weight of carrying them with you! And a ziploc bag is a God send when you have to throw soiled clothes in your bag until you get back to your hotel/apartment/house!

 

 

Seattle Day Two: Quack Quack

If there is one thing we always try to do in a new city it is a tour, which is ironic because we aren’t actually tour people. But a hop on hop off bus tour always gives us an easy overview of a city without having to figure it out on our own (even though my husband is the research king) and generally for a fairly low price vs the value of what we get.

So we decided to step it up and go full tourist on our second day in Seattle, and give the kids a tour they would actually enjoy, so naturally we did the Seattle Duck Tour, full of the cheesiest of the cheesy tour guides you could possibly imagine, but since the bus turns into a boat, and actually goes on the water, well, we had to do it. And of course we couldn’t say no to the quackers, also known as the most irritating whistle you will ever give your children, along with permission to use it at will. Trust me.

About 2 minutes into the tour, which was cold and windy, L fell asleep. This left F to hold down the ship with sharp observations about the people we drove past and the things we saw. His highlight was definitely the water part of the tour, where he happily quacked away at any and everything he saw. We rode past Gas Works Park, and knew we would be back to check it out the next day, and at the end of our tour F turned to us and said “Huh. I didn’t know this would be so boring!” I’m pretty sure this was not given a seal of approval by our 5 year old, but we enjoyed it!

Waiting for the duck to take off

Waiting for the duck to take offQuacker!Quacker!Gas Works ParkGas Works ParkWatching a sea plane take off with Seattle in the backgroundWatching a sea plane take off with Seattle in the background

Embarrassingly after we got back it was time for lunch, and we figured we may as well try out the Seattle Center Armory again for lunch, since it was a hit the day before, and we all ate some awesome pizza at MOD Pizza. Since we all have very different tastes in our pizza choices the individual sizes were perfect.

With L fully refreshed after her duck tour nap we opted to stay where we are and we headed over to the Pacific Science Center, which, in a word, was awesome. From the dinosaurs when we first came in to the toddler area to the hands on area where F stood and touched sea creatures for a long time, to the butterflies, it was well worth the cost to visit and the amount of time we spent there.

Pacific Science Center

Pacific Science CenterDinosaurs greet you when you enter. Dinosaurs greet you when you enter.

The toddler area was a great match for our 2 year old, L.
The toddler area was a great match for our 2 year old, L.If it is a sea creature and you can touch it our 5 year old, F, is there!If it is a sea creature and you can touch it our 5 year old, F, is there!

We checked out some other exhibits, and finally had to drag our kids away, with promises of ice cream, which always work with our two. After we paid our exboritent parking fees we headed to the Queen Anne neighborhood of the city to check out Kerry Park, an overlook which I am sure everyone is familiar with. Like all photo opportunities with a 5 and 2 year old the pictures were hit or miss, but we did walk slightly down the hill to a playground which they enjoyed more than the scenic vista. Imagine that!

Seattle from Kerry Park

Seattle from Kerry ParkF and L in Kerry ParkF and L in Kerry Park

Highlights of the Day:

Food:

-Seattle Center Armory/MOD Pizza (lunch)

-Poquitos (dinner)

-Molly Moon Ice Cream (dessert – yum!)

Sites:

-Seattle Duck Tour

-Pacific Science Center

-Kerry Park

Transport:

We drove down and parked by the Space Needle. It wasn’t cheap, but we had a stroller and it worked best for doing the duck tour and staying for the Pacific Science Center, and then driving to Kerry Park.

Helpful Tips:

The duck tour was cold, likely because we did the first one of the morning and it was overcast. They provide blankets but be aware it can be windy and cold, so dress appropriately (again, layering is great!)

You can bring food to the Pacific Science Center, and eat at any of the many picnic tables outside.

The playground at Kerry Park is fun, but not huge, and it is a steep walk back up if you park on the top by the scenic overlook.

Molly Moon ice cream is delicious. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle: An Ideal Family Destination

After the tumultuous beginning to our trip I knew we could really only go up from where we started, and even if we couldn’t I made the decision to tell myself we would so we were starting the trip off on the right foot.

When we first started planning we knew we didn’t want to stay in a hotel; setting aside the fact that if we all had to share a room we would be going to be around 7 every night it just wouldn’t allow us enough space to be comfortable and to have space to have breakfast every day without going out. We booked a 2 bedroom apartment in the Capital Hill area which, will not the most central, was still central enough to walk in and see the major tourist areas of Seattle.

We decided to tackle some of the bigger attractions on Sunday, and with the weather sunny and cool, a nice respite from the recent Atlanta heat, we packed up and walked into Seattle.

In the planning stages of this trip we had very little information to go on, as I had been the only one to have visited Seattle at all, and never Seattle with kids. We had a general idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, and we ended up going above and beyond over our week long visit to both Seattle and Vancouver.

Our first stop was Pike Place Market, or as our 5 year old, F, calls it, the fish throwing market. It was, understandably, crowded, but bearable. I think the crowds intimidated both of our kids so they never strayed far from our sides. The flowers were spectacular (and only $10 for a huge bouquet!), and while kids may want to rush over to see the flying fish you should take a moment to stop and literally smell the flowers. If we lived in Seattle we would be there every week buying new arrangements! We headed over to the main attraction, the Pike Place Fish Market, and watched the fish sail through the air. It was definitely a highlight for both F and our 2 year old, L.

Ready for Pike Place Market

Ready for Pike Place MarketThe flowers are stunningThe flowers are stunningChecking out the fish (he didn't realize this wasn't real!)Checking out the fish (he didn’t realize this wasn’t real!)

Once our bodies realized it was lunchtime we headed up to the Seattle monorail and rode it over to the Seattle Center, where we checked out the Space Needle from below, and went in search of food. We ended up eating at the Seattle Center Armory, which is similar to a food court but with local, fresh food options. It had great choices, and we didn’t feel guilty about eating there – plus we were allowed to order beer, which is always a bonus! This is also where the Children’s Museum is located, although we decided to skip it since it was such a beautiful day.

It was quickly determined that it was nap time for L, so we decided to take a taxi back to our apartment. We were told by a taxi driver that Washington required car seats in taxi cabs, which is not the case in most states. I am still not sure if he was correct, but at that point it didn’t matter and we just had to figure out how to get back to the apartment without walking, and so after some quick research and finding One Bus Away we hopped on a bus and it took us straight back to the apartment, give or take a few blocks. It’s a great app, especially for people unfamiliar with the city and its bus routes.

The Space Needle

The Space Needle

After naps we decided to check out a park that was recommended by An Emerald City Life (a Seattle mom) and we headed out to Ella Bailey Park, with a fun playground and great views of Seattle. We tried to snap a few pictures but our kids were more excited to play than to be photographed so we let them run off and play, good for both getting rid of energy and helping with jet lag!

Posing in Ella Bailey Park

Posing in Ella Bailey ParkChecking out the view from Ella Bailey ParkChecking out the view from Ella Bailey Park

Highlights of the Day:

Food:

- Seattle Center Armory (lunch)

- Skillet Diner (dinner)

Sites:

- Pike Place Market

- Seattle Monorail

- Ella Bailey Park

Transport:

- Walking

- Seattle Metro Transit (Bus)

Helpful Tips:

Parking is hard to come by – we paid extra for a space behind our apartment and it still wasn’t guaranteed! We did street park for dinner, and when we went out to Ella Bailey Park it was outside the city enough that parking wasn’t an issue. Be prepared to walk or take public transport, or pay a premium for parking. We found the downtown area very walkable.

We tried to do a Seattle Duck tour and they were very busy, so we opted to come back the next day. If you decide to do it on a weekend book in advance!

Layer, layer, layer! It was cool in the morning, but warmed up nicely by the afternoon!

 

 

The Truth About Difficult Traveling Days

It’s time to be truthful. Sometimes, in travels, it isn’t fun. Sometimes, in traveling, it is stressful and tiring and can lead me to tears. Sometimes, on our trips, I think why are we doing this? Yesterday, well, yesterday was one of those days.

We left yesterday for our week long adventure in Seattle and Vancouver. I was already feeling a little stressed because I am not a good packer. At all. And I struggle with this on every trip I take. I pack too much and it means we have too many bags and I just don’t know how to pare it all down so instead we have learned how to maneuver with too many bags and not enough hands.

See? I don't lie. We pack a lot. Too much. We know.

See? I don’t lie. We pack a lot. Too much. We know.

I mean, I may need 3 black shirts and an extra pair of jeans and shoes just in case, right? Don’t even get me started on the kids clothes. I did really well this time to only pack them 3 pairs of pajamas each. And, we have access to a washer and dryer every day of this trip. So, there you go.

Anywhoo, it generally takes about 25 minutes or so to get to the airport, and while we would love to utilize our public transportation (because, let’s be honest, pretty much the only thing Atlanta’s public transport has going for it is the train to the airport, sadly) it is really difficult with a stroller, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats, 2 kids and several carry on bags. We enlisted my parents to help us get there so we didn’t have to leave our car for a week, and as we entered the highway, 2 and a half hours before our flight time, with my parents and F several cars behind us, we came to a complete deadlock, with brake lights as far as we could see.

Not a car was moving for miles. Thanks Atlanta!

Not a car was moving for miles. Thanks Atlanta!

I immediately called my parents and told them that whatever they do they needed to avoid the highway, and take a different route. My husband, who was beating himself up for not checking the traffic ahead of time like the anally retentive guy he usually is, was trying to figure out the best way for us to get off the highway and take it from there. Unfortunately for us the exit we planned on taking was closed, with no prior notification before the exit, and after that there were no more exits for several miles. Thanks Atlanta, your public transport sucks and your highways suck and your decision to do major roadworks, thus closing down 3 out of 6 lanes on a Saturday where there are road races, summer vacation-ers, and a Braves game, well, that decision sucks. You can see how I felt about it.

There were tears involved, all from me, and a super negative attitude that ended in the knowledge we were going to miss our flight, also from me. There were also some words. Lots of words. It took us almost an hour to get off the highway, at which point we relied on google maps to lead us through parts of Atlanta I have never spent much time in, and finally to the airport, with 45 minutes to spare before our flight time.

My parents and F had been there, so we did a complete puzzle of hopping out of our car, my dad parking it, meeting my mom and F in the airport where we took advantage of my parents Diamond Medallion Delta status and got checked in right away. And, thanks to the generosity of several strangers in security, who saw 2 frazzled parents, a sick 5 year old and an adorable 2 year old and let us go first, and even helped me get all our bags when Lee had to take F to the bathroom. Sometimes the kindness of people can start to make it all better.

We made it onto the plane-train with about 30 minutes to spare, and once it got to Concourse A I was feeling pretty good, only one stop to go, and then it stopped. And just sat. And sat. And sat. I started to feel nauseous. Once it started moving I could breathe again.

L on the plane-train. She didn't know why it was stopped either.

L on the plane-train. She didn’t know why it was stopped either.

We raced through the airport, with about 25 minutes until take off, with Lee pushing F in the stroller because he was too sick to walk, and me holding L’s hand and making her little legs run at double speed, which is not easy for a 2 year old to do. We made it to the gate, walked down the jetway, and knew we were okay.

Gridlock on the jetway too!

Gridlock on the jetway too!

The one benefit to getting on the plane late means less time to sit while waiting to take off, even though I had to store our bag, filled with the snacks, about 10 rows ahead of us, with Lee. We sat down, amongst a family heading out to go on an Alaskan cruise, including a 2 year old boy that L befriended, and we took off. Straight into 45 minutes of turbulence.

So now I am smelly from running and sweating, flustered from racing to make the plane, scared because I really hate turbulence, and for 45 minutes all I heard was ‘Mommy, nutha snack? Mommy, more snacks? More snacks mommy. MORE SNACKS MOMMY’. Since I couldn’t get to the big snack bag I found every last thing left in my purse and she ate it all. Eventually we got the ‘real’ snacks and life was good, and quiet, again.

L did a lot of this, ipad watching and lollipop eating, while I waited for the turbulence to end.

L did a lot of this, ipad watching and lollipop eating, while I waited for the turbulence to end.

At this point I am thinking the flight is going pretty well. We are out of the bad weather, scheduled to land early, L was happily watching Yo Gabba Gabba and coloring, and I finally had a chance to go the bathroom. Which meant I had to take her with me, but since we were 2 rows from the back it wasn’t a big deal. We squeezed into the bathroom, and when we left walked up ahead of us about 15 rows to see Lee and F. At which point I hear lots of laughter and a nice woman kindly points out I have toilet paper hanging out of my pants.

I could have died. Actually on any other day I probably would have died. But I was so tired I just couldn’t muster up the energy to care. I laughed it off, chalked it up to just one more thing that happened, and called it a day. Not really, but I felt like it.

This is what all parents tray tables should look like - snacks and a beer. Yum.

This is what all parents tray tables should look like – snacks and a beer. Yum.

Then L seemed to do a lot of this, which involved washing her window, tray table, seat and more with wipes. Wipes are an awesome, cheap plane toy. Who knew?

Then L seemed to do a lot of this, which involved washing her window, tray table, seat and more with wipes. Wipes are an awesome, cheap plane toy. Who knew?

And then...sleep. Blissful sleep.

And then…sleep. Blissful sleep.

And then the rest of the flight happened, we landed, got our car, got our tired children to the apartment we rented, realized we are about 15 years too old to be hanging out in the area our flat is in, and went to sleep. Sleep is a great answer, because when I woke up? It was a new day, in an awesome city, and I was ready to take on Seattle.

'Mommy I do, by self!' Of course, a stubborn 2 year old at the end of a long day!

‘Mommy I do, by self!’ Of course, a stubborn 2 year old at the end of a long day!

Poor guy was still feeling rough when we were on our way to get the car but he was a real trooper

Poor guy was still feeling rough when we were on our way to get the car but he was a real trooper

And then, upon exploring our apartment rental, he declared it awesome and that he loved all the cool people hanging around the bars outside. Also known as hipsters, or people too young for us to be staying near.

And then, upon exploring our apartment rental, he declared it awesome and that he loved all the cool people hanging around the bars outside. Also known as hipsters, or people too young for us to be staying near.

Sometimes, despite the travails of traveling, even on a day when you wonder why why why, you hear your kids giggling about the day to come, and it is all worth it, even when you previously thought it wouldn’t be. When you wake up and look around you, at your happy kids, rested despite their jet lag, staying in a clean, safe, nice apartment, in a city across the country from your very own, you realize that you are lucky to have these opportunities, and a day of suffering is worth the outcome.

Everyone is rested, happy and ready to go after breakfast!

Everyone is rested, happy and ready to go after breakfast!