Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Road trip in Civilized Style

I was recently sent a DVD of a show in the US that is called the Duggars Roadtrip. This family has (as of last count) 17 children! No, really you read correctly. They are not a mixed, blended or otherwise adopted family. These people are all from one mother and one father. As I watched I could not begin to wrap my brain around the idea of so many people in one house all the time much less in ONE caravan filled with children, car seats, food and water. So they took a long road trip from Arkansas to California in a 'pimped out' Winnebago.

One of the things that kept going through my mind was "holy ship! not only do they all have to dress the same but they also have to travel with no style -that really stinks!" (I was saying this in French ;) So I started thinking IF I had a large family (the ONLY way this would ever happen is if I pulled an Angelina Jolie) I would NOT want to have to travel in that bland fuel eating monster. I was imaging something a little more civilized.

So I open my email today and I now have the answer to my hypothetical question. Isn't she a beauty?! Now this is the way to travel people! The South East Coachworks Company refurbishes old buses into temporary living quarters, play buses, presentation buses, etc. That is an ideal recycle/reuse in action!
I just get giddy with the idea of all the great photos you can get from the top deck! What I wouldn't give to have that little gem in front of the house for a birthday party (instead of indoors).

N.B. Big Mahalo to Glo and thanks to Beckie for answering my question with this sweet ride!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Don't you dare pay retail in the US or UK!

I am not afraid to tell you that a lot of shopping for the Little Man these days is done on the net. The convenience of shopping at anytime day or night in pajamas and getting an opinion on whether it is a good value has been a boon to both my purchase power and personal satisfaction.

Usually I start out at Epinions to gather the most info on a product from people who actually bought and used the stuff. From there I have a general idea of what to look for when buying (let's say for arguments sake) a stroller/pram/buggy.
Then I start the Google search (go ahead and try the Google search button on this very page!) for the stroller/pram/buggy (aka the princely carriage). Wherever I end up finding the best rate I then search for ONLINE COUPONS! I'll say it again ONLINE COUPONS!
The sites that I've had the best luck with have been:
  • RetailMeNot -available in Australian, UK, Canadian and German versions
  • NaughtyCodes -not as flexible but some good values
And never forget to check to Ebay, there are a surprising amount of retailers and authorized dealers who sell exclusively on Ebay (when in doubt check their feedback) without the mortar-and-bricks' overhead you can get some BIG discounts. Do you have any others you like to use in your area of the net? Leave me a comment.

This article is dedicated to Jaime - may you never have to pay full price again.

Airplane travel made easier

Who likes to carry a big awkward car seat on to an airplane? No one I know and that is why I am so happy that there is an alternative.
Here on European flights they give you a seat extender (the kind that bigger people get to attach to their seat belts) and expect you to attach it to your own and looped around baby. As you can imagine it isn't really a great option. So from America I ordered this great new seat belt from CARES (it is FAA approved too). It straps the baby in just as if it were a car seat belt and the set up time is less than one minute. There are both written instructions and a video. As you can see if folds up nice and small too -what a great invention!

Great wipes!

If your little bundle is anything like mine -they hate getting their faces cleaned. That was until I discovered Klorane's wipes on a trip to France. These wipes are really fantastic because they are non-irritating, pleasant smelling and thick. I keep some on hand for when my Little Man has diaper rash -he doesn't complain when I use these wipes but the usual ones are murder on him. They are also excellent for taking off makeup.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Travel while it's Cheap!

I have 2 pieces of important advice for new parents:
  1. before baby is born go out as much as you can (go see every movie, go dancing, go to dinner parties, theaters, take a vacation)
  2. between 3 months and 2 years -TRAVEL!
On #1, soak up the luxury of not having to worry about a babysitter, or returning home on time, or the natural disaster that is going to rip through your house and take your newborn with it, or wondering if the sitter is secretly a drug lord who is currently at your home making crack (not that any of these thoughts EVER crossed my mind).

On #2, call me a romantic cheapskate but nothing beats not having to pay a full fare plane ticket for baby AND getting on the plane first AND exposing the little one to all the coolness that airports and travel bring. * The biggest complaint I hear from my friends when I tell them to travel is that 'they are too small to get anything out of it.' That is a load of baloney and even if it were true at the very least YOU would be out and about enjoying the trip. We were recently on a weekend trip to Lisbon with the Little Man (who is 21 months) and we saw lots of churches and museums. Yes, some of it got a little tiring (that is what the stroller is for) and then the rest he was wide awake and in awe. He went around saying, "WOW!" Seeing his excitement and awe re-inspired me to appreciate architecture, sculpture and just the general landscape of sight, sound and smell. He's not a jaded traveller like I've become and seeing things with him has given me a new appreciation of the mind blowing transformation in one's world view that only travel can accomplish.

*N.B. You absolutely positively must be organized to do a venture like this and to help you along I'll supply you the ingredients for my magic bag of tricks in a future article.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What to do? Where to go? ARE WE THERE YET?

I just discovered a cool website called Go City Kids dedicated to parents and families in the US. This site covers everything from restaurants, childcare, daily neighborhood events and a lot more. They have listings for 50 cities in the US -even Billings (Montana?) is listed. I can't wait to give some of their suggestions a try next time I'm in the US. Has anyone used this site yet --what do you think?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Strolling 4 Wheeling Tourist?

My travel schedule doesn't look like it used to. Now, I'm adhering to my little one's nap and feeding schedule. Luckily, someone has thought about that for the destinations of:
  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Boston
  • Brighton
  • Chicago
  • Copenhagen
  • Dublin
  • Edinburgh
  • LA
  • London
  • Miami
  • NYC
  • Paris
  • Portland
  • Prague
  • San Francisco
  • Sydney
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
The makers of Bugaboo Strollers have come up with daytrips that include naps, maps and food. I haven't done any of their itineraries yet but they look good and the fact that they use local artists to draw up their maps is VERY cool. Now if I could only get my little artist to draw me a map to where he hid my mobile phone!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Vedes Munich Airport?

I have to say that one of my very favorite international airports is in Munich, Germany. Ever since my little man was born I've had a completely new view of airports. Gone are the days when I looked for the best Gin & Herring Bar (Amsterdam's Schiphol), the best Italian designer stuff (Milan's Malpensa) or the most competitively priced Brit stuff (Stansted). Now, I look for 2 things: big family/baby bathrooms and a good toy store. Munich has them both (not to mention free hot water by the Lufthansa boarding gates for the all important baby bottle making).
Everytime we have a connection through Munich I must admit I get a little excited. My first stop is to the pharmacy to pick up baby food and a mini aerosol water can (to keep baby's nose and skin stay humid which has helped to drastically cut down on colds and dry air). The next stop is VEDES. In this little shop you can find toys for every age and even for the picky toy loving adult in your life. Right now my little man is into the wooden Haba toys and the Selecta Spielzeug puzzles. The prices are also pretty good but when you're on your last nerve from a long flight the prices look REAL GOOD (not that I'm speaking from experience).
There is also a nice selection of quick eats. My favorite is the coffee and bread place called ARAN (Terminal 2, Level 05, behind security check). The soups and sandwiches are very satisfying and warm. As for drinks you have to love a place where they sell you the coffee (any style) AND the hard stuff. There is also an Organic Bistro there that I have yet to try.
FYI Schiphol is quickly going to topple Munich with its brand new "Babycare Lounge" that just opened July 24th. The Schiphol website touts,
parents can take care of their babies (in private), bathe them, feed them and/or allow them to sleep for a while in one of the seven bed cabins, which include comfortable seats for the parents
Have any of you checked it out yet? What do you think?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dora, Deigo, Elmo -Get the lead out!

Now Mattel/Fisher Price has problems with lead paint toys and has issued a MAJOR recall. When is this madness going to end? China seems to want to poison everyone with lead these days. Why should you care what baby is gnawing on? Because lead ingestion can lead to these problems:
  • nervous system damage
  • hearing loss
  • stunted growth
  • reduced IQ
  • developmental delays
  • damage to kidneys
Also, another helpful link is the recall on Thomas & Friends stuff.
Personally, I am now going to test everything myself with at an at home test kit. You can get them at almost any hardware store.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

This baby is born!

Weighing in at a ton of info to be given this blog is dedicated to all of you moms, dads, care givers and gift givers. I will be offering up some of the world's best, coolest or just plain cute items that are must for babies with an international flare. So buckle up and note that there are no exits near you and thank you for flying with us!