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Ireland

22 Sep

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Washington D.C.

9 Sep

Too, too many photos. Truth is, I took ten times this many.

Travelling with a toddler

9 Sep

Well, travelling with mine anyway. I saw lots of angelic children floating around the place on our trip. Doing what they were told and not getting into every kind of (un)imaginable mischief. My fella? Well, he wasn’t a nightmare. More of a “surely there’s someone putting him up to this for a hilarious “Gotcha” type TV show.” Nope. He’s just a highly inquisitive and imaginative boy. Which is good. But not great when he has gotten himself stuck in one of the exhibits at the Natural History Museum, playing “tunnels” or something. Especially as you can’t get the whole  “Oh My God, what will people think of me/my child/the way I parent?” out of your head, no matter how hard you try or how irrational you know it is to care about what strangers think. So what have I learned?

  • He’s going to catch something. Crawling around the airport or the plane or somewhere. Pack some medications because the GPS won’t work and you won’t be able to find a pharmacy for three days (your husband will find one on the first day, but only bring back milk and snacks. It’ll be too far to go there again).
  • Update the GPS for the area you are travelling to. Otherwise murder will be committed in the car, leaving your toddler orphaned. And probably scarred for life.
  • No matter how many clothes you pack for him it won’t be enough. Not only that, he will be mismatched (a cardinal sin according to the Hubby) and wearing weird socks. He may well end up looking like a ragamuffin for the whole trip. A snotty one. And constantly dirty. (But happy!)
  • Bring all of the snacks you can find. Carry them everywhere, thinking “these will do for when he’s hungry and we can’t find anywhere to stop.” He’ll eat none of them. He’ll want nothing to do with them. You’ll feel like a fool and bring home a sack of rather squashed snacks.
  • He’ll want to walk everywhere. And look at everything. You will only have patience for this for about an hour. In the morning. When everyone is feeling chirpy. Patience wears out, but try to strike a balance. And before you bring him anywhere else, will you try and instill in him the importance of not running off or heading straight for the road.
  • He doesn’t want to go in the buggy because he knows he’s tired and is afraid that he will fall asleep and miss something. Yes, that means a mad tantrum and flailing and “Oh My God! What will people think?” but try to stay calm (not that scary calm where you talk through your teeth, but proper calm, perhaps of the Zen variety). You know what the problem is and you can fix it, but not if you throw a tantrum too….
  • Stickers. Crayons. And books. These are all you really need. Those (rather heavy) cast iron Thomas trains that you carted with you? A waste of time. All you really needed was the hotel pen and a boy with the freedom to write all over himself. Ok, so it took a bit of scrubbing to get off, but it lent itself rather well to the whole “ragamuffin” theme you had going on. That, and the look on the Hubby’s face after the second or third (?) time was hilarious!

Toddler travelling tips

9 Jun

Now that the dust has settled (a bit) on our mad journey across country, I feel confident enough to offer tips for when you are taking your toddler on a long trip. I’ve forgotten most of the awfulness you see, and the good ideas are like shiny beacons in the distance. So, here goes.

  • Try and stop at least every 3 hours. If you would do it for a dog, you definitely should be doing it for your child.
  • Pick out interesting places to stop. Interesting to your child, not you. Parks, childrens museums, science museums, zoos, aquariums etc. You can go shopping, but that defeats the purpose of stopping. You’ll likely strap him or her into a buggy and they’ll have to sit, so they may as well be in the car. Everyone will be miserable if you stop just to eat or shop. Tack the eating and shopping onto an excursion and you’ll be set.
  • Invest in some of the less obnoxious childrens music out there. It can be a life saver. Especially if you have a small boy who gets carsick when he watches DVDs in the car.
  • Forget rules about no eating/drinking in the car (for small people). And if you’re me, be prepared to sit in the back seat (in the uncomfortable middle one) while the eating and drinking is going on. Because paranoia about choking will never go away.
  • Learn some fingerplay games. They’ll whittle away the time for you when you’re sitting on the lumpy seat in the back.
  • Magnets. Magnetic books, balls, activity sets, whatever you can find.
  • Stickers.
  • All food and drink “rules” should be relaxed.
  • Try and make it fun. This can be part of your holiday too.

Oh and you can never have too many nappies or wipes and other essentials.

And this guy is a genius. You need some of his music in your life, whether you’re spending hours upon hours with a small boy in a car or not.

Arizona

3 Jun

I’m not sure what I can say about Arizona. It was beautiful. Desolate. But breath-taking. If it weren’t for the telephone lines, oftentimes you could think there was no one else around for miles and miles and miles.

New Mexico

27 May

I’m having a bit of bother remembering what day it is, never mind what day of the trip it is. Time zones have us all confuddled. And I’m having to look at hotel stationery to figure out where it is we are. Let’s not mention the blind panic when I’m outside of the hotel room by myself, trying to remember today’s room number.

Oh well.

Yesterday we were in New Mexico. In Albuquerque. There was a little more outdoor activity than we’re used to, what with visiting Santa Rosa State park, the Sandia peak tramway and historic downtown Albuquerque. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that we went to Santa Rosa park yesterday, I think it was the day before, on the way to Albuquerque. But I can’t be sure. See? No idea what day it is. I distinctly remember the tramway though. I’m not great with heights you see. And that’s the longest “unsupported” tram in the world. I mean, of course it is supported, but it has the longest distance between the towers or something. The engineering is a marvel. Apparently. It was marvellous to get up and down safely, that’s for sure. And the views were spectacular. The turtle certainly enjoyed it. “Up high sky.” It was like being a superhero on a train. His two favourite things at the moment.

THe historic downtown part of Albuquerque was very pretty and quaint. And all of the little shops prompted me to search for a tangible reminder of our trip. So all of the pottery stores had to be examined. Thoroughly. Until I found THE pot. It’s white with turtles carved into it. Two of which are turquoise. It’s lovely. I have no pictures, because it’s wrapped in the paper equivalent of a small tree. But here are some pictures of our New Mexico adventure:

(I can’t get the photos in the right order. Arrgghhhhh!!! Maybe later.)

Bye Bye Texas!

26 May

It was nice to have met you. Honestly though, I thought you would be hotter. And more desert-y. I didn’t think about all the cows and how they would need grass. What they say is true though, everything is bigger in Texas. At least it seemed so to me. Cows bigger than people. Fields stretching as far as the eye could see. Walmarts as big as a medium-sized town. Trucks galore. Giant ones. And enough steak to feed a small family served on one plate. (Shhh, but I’m a bit sick of steak.)

Maybe we’ll be back. I think you have a lot more to offer.

Days 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10

24 May

So, having done a few too many activities on the morning before we left New Orleans we had a tetchy ride to Alexandria, about two hours away. About half as far as we had “planned”, but we just couldn’t do anymore. An early night for everyone.

The next morning we got up and drove to Shreveport to go to Sci-port. It was great. All museums should be like that. It would have been nicer if it hadn’t been so crowded, but ’tis the season and all that. The Sci-port wore us all out, so we decided to motor on to our next spot. Dallas! In Texas! Another state! Hurrah.

We arrived too late that night to do much, except eat steak and sleep. The next morning we got up early and had to go to Dealey Plaza. It was a bit eerie. The turtle slept through it, until we got to the museum, when he insisted on running around playing trains and tunnels (much to the chagrin of the other museum goers, intent on reading all of the words on all of the walls…). So if there are any big “Aha!” moments to be found in the museum, I completely missed them. I was playing trains. Quietly.

That afternoon we intended to go to Six Flags, but it was just too hot and we were a bit worn out. We left it until the next morning.  Saturday morning. Field trip season. Madness. Sheer and utter madness. First of all, we couldn’t print out our tickets because the hotel computer didn’t have the right acrobat reader or something, so we had to wait in line at the “Will Call” booth for over half an hour. Lines were looong everywhere. The turtle couldn’t go on half the kids rides, even if we accompanied him. What he did get to go on – the Batplane, some cars, the train – he loved. And he liked looking at all of the people too. He didn’t know that most of the rides were old and decrepit looking. Or run by pubescent teens. We lasted two hours. The turtle would still be there if we let him.

The next stop was Wichita Falls. We had great plans to go to the Museum of Art and a couple of parks but the turtle had a fever. So we spent the evening and most of the next morning in the hotel. We decided to press on to Amarillo, because, for once, we had reservations for that night already made. And the turtle had spent most of the morning dozing anyway. He slept almost the entire way. And went to bed early.

He was fine today though. We managed to go to Amarillo Zoo and Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest in the U.S. If we had planned a little better we could have stayed in a little cabin in the State park. Still, all the planning in the world wouldn’t have made the turtle feel well just because we had rented a cabin somewhere scenic.

Days 3, 4, 5 & 6…..

20 May

… I think. I’m not sure what day we’re on seeing as I was stranded in “the big easy” with no internet access. The horror! I shall get to that. In all likelihood.

We got to Alabama safe and sound. And on schedule. Bloody schedules. We had to stop 4 times on the way. Isn’t it always the way that when you are trying to get somewhere to meet someone your child plays up and you have to stop and stop and stop. Not that I’m adverse to stopping, my bum gets numb too, it’s just that when people are waiting on you and calling (what seems like) every five minutes to see where you are, you can get a bit stressed. Still, we got there in one piece. That’s the main thing, surely.

And the turtle got to meet his great-granny for the first time. They took to each other pretty well. Apparently, his great-granny doesn’t usually “take to” children, but she took to our fella. She even got up off the chair to go out and play with him.

He had a great time being the centre of attention and everyone else had a great time admiring him. Not only that we were out of the car for at least 36 hours (ahem, except for small journeys).

We went from there to New Orleans. Stopping once on the way. We did think we would have to spend the night somewhere on the way, but there was a technological glitch with the GPS, which didn’t change time when we got to Alabama. So the journey was an hour shorter than we originally thought. (Hurrrah for journeys  being shorter than you thought! Hurrah!) That did mean though that we didn’t have any reservations and there was a mad scramble to the nearest Holiday Inn, to see if they had a room. They didn’t, but they (helpfully or not) dirested us to the Intercontinental. Which did have rooms. $7,000,000 for a room with no Wi-Fi!(I should say no free Wi-Fi, there was a $7 an hour charge for it). And no breakfast. And another $100 (or thereabouts) to park the car. What did we get for the extra $6,999,900 we paid for the room? A turn down service. Two 75 cent newspapers. A malfunctioning toilet and a remote that didn’t work. And what felt like an obligation to tip everyone who looked at you!  Aaah, expensive hotels. Got to love them. At least we were in the middle of the down town area.

We all loved New Orleans. The turtle was overawed. There were streetcars, buses, and trucks all over the place. He didn’t know what to look at. And when we rode on the streetcar? Well that was the bee’s knees. We did a lot of rambling all over the Quarter. And no stroller. IT was on holidays in the luggage yoke on top of the car. We managed pretty well without it. The turtle loves to walk and even if we had gotten it down he probably wouldn’t have sat in it. The contrary article. We went to the French Market, had beignets at Cafe du Monde, visited the aquarium, had a nap while the hubby went to the World War II museum, then got up and went for a ride on a horse and buggy. Unfortunately, the driver of the buggy mentioned that one of the museums housed Napoleon’s death mask so a visit there had to be penciled in for the next day. The most important thing on the following day’s itinerary though, was a visit to the Childrens Museum, where we all had a great time (but now is not the right time of year to be visiting these places as every school in the country is doing field trips). Crowded, but fun. The place with Napoleon’s death mask on the other hand, had three or four people in it and plenty of room for a small boy to run around (shouting). There were other things in there, detailing Louisiana’s history but I didn’t really get a chance to look at them as I was on wrangling duty. To be honest though, I wasn’t that bothered. I find museums over here to be more verbose than informative. Honestly, if I wanted to read that much about anything I would buy a book or a pamphlet and sit down in comfort to read it, not stand there reading things off of a wall that have very little to do with the actual displays.

That was it for us and New Orleans. We were sad to leave. Even if it was madly expensive. Everyone was friendly. It was easy to get around. And the food was delicious. Not only that, it was a real city. Not just a carbon copy of all of the other “cities” I’ve visited. It felt like there were more choices. It wasn’t just all MacDonalds or Applebees or Bed Bath& Beyond or Walmart or Target. It felt like there was a real choice there. We didn’t eat in one chain restaurant.

It was worth every cent. (Nearly).

Day 2…….

15 May

Oh so much better than day 1. Still not ideal, but definitely better. Although, if I hear that Weesings CD again I may have to smash the CD player. And the sticker book didn’t live up to its superstar potential. Maybe magnets are the way to go?

We spent the morning at Moody, as there was a park right outside our window. The turtle got up at 7:00. He was in the park (with Daddy) at 7:04. Dressed and everything. He pottered around there for a couple of hours and conked out when we left at around 11 – we had to stop and buy socks for the turtle, I forgot them despite packing everything under the sun. Everything except socks. Featherheaded Mammy.

With the turtle sleeping we were able to make it a couple of hours. To Dawson, where we had something to eat. Then to Benning, the screaming in the backseat necessitated a park stop. We stopped somewhere else an hour later, at a fast food joint with a play place. There was wailing from the back seat. We finally got here (Oxford, Alabama) at around 8.

It was tough being on a schedule. From Tuesday we won’t have to worry about that anymore. We’ll have “loads of time”. That’s what the hubby says anyway. He’s actually worried about getting there too early!

So far, we have learned

  • four hours in the car is enough or we all get a bit crazy
  • activities/touristy things should be done in the morning so that the turtle can nap in the car
  • if it’s too hot to be outside in the afternoon in Georgia or Alabama, it will definitely be too hot in New Mexico and Texas
  • some loose planning will have to be done, so that there are actually things to do/see everyday (or every second day, at the very least)
  • fast food gets old quickly

We’re back on the road on Monday. Can you hear the enthusiasm in my voice? Good. I’m sure it’ll be back as soon as the numbness wears off my bum.

Here’s hoping………

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