Monday, December 7, 2009

A Little Book Talk...

So, I'm intensively working on a book proposal, to head off large trade publication agents. Although, for BTSOD I think a print on demand book would be best. I am scheduling maybe 2-3 seminars (probably at my house!) with small groups of parents to discuss certain aspects of the book and to share information and concerns regarding the book. More updates closer to February of 2010. I also will have a link where you can order it. I think, there is definitely a need for a Travel with Infants and Toddlers Guide book, and a few people have already recognized that. I would really like more traffic on this particular blog because I seem to get a huge response on Twitter. So, please everyone, recommend this blog to people... and there may be good things for you in heaven.
Update on 13 December-
The class has ended and I have just drafted my schedule for everything. I'll be posting it here soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Huntington We Will Go...

Off to the Huntington Library! Papa has a 3 day weekend due to the changing of the floors. This will be the first time we will be taking the girls, and we can have them running around the grounds and enjoying all the ponds and fountains. Then after, we will be enjoying a couple days in LA, and we might even see a good friend this weekend.

This is all we could think of for a short, fun family vacation on our ever so tight budget. We are members of the HL, so no admission. Our lodging will be minimal- because we are staying on our free stays-- (after 10 nights with hotels.com you get a free 1.) Food is all we really have to pay for, and breakfast is free at the hotel.

Our car, which is a 1998, 2 door Honda Civic, has about 197,000 miles on it. It's still beautiful and wonderful and we call him Pedro. He is getting a maintenance check early in the morning and this is basically where all our money is going. He still gets about 27 miles to the gallon.

We will post a bunch of pics, but I am just glad to be away from the grind of work and household stresses. The next weeks, we will be refreshed for Emmy's 1st Birthday and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MacLAren: Stroller Recall, Also Saftey Then and Now

Hey you guys! My favorite stroller company, based in the UK, Maclaren is having a massive stroller recall in the US, and you can pick up a repair kit for free. I am assuming at most major retailers where you can buy Maclarens. Here is some info about it...
I have always loved this company, and sorry to hear such an unfortunate engineering mishap has occurred. Such a good product and I am certain that the engineers have already corrected the problem-- and the new strollers will be safer.

Safety Then and Now
I was talking to a more mature, uncle of mine who told me, in the 50's they used to play with mercury from thermometers and rub it all over their fingers. The mercury could would turn pennies into silver. They would play with firecrackers (scary ones) all the time and burn their fingers. Some of his friends even blew their fingers off. But the next day, there they were, playing with with those firecrackers again, minus friend who blew his fingers off, of course. Or in the Philippines they would run behind the DDT truck that was smoking all the mosquitoes out, behind the smoke and laugh and scream...

Now move forward a couple (or three) decades when I was a kid, (between the age of 5 and 8). I was left with my two cousins (about a couple years older than me) to cook our own meals, and pretty much fend for myself until my parents got home from work. I have no recollection of my brother in all of this. Was my mom there? I thought she was working? Hmmm. I would freak out now if a 5 year old was cooking a meal in a microwave. Or, we would just play in the streets, for hours until it got dark. Hello? Molesters? Serial Killers? Getting hit by a car? Accidents? Getting burned? H1N1?
Am I a paranoid mom? Did my parents neglect me? I can't even leave the girls in the car to pay for gas at the counter... this all has to be meticulously planned. Am I just paranoid? Am I making life harder? IS life harder?

I remember wanting to badly ride in the hatchback portion of my cousins station wagon, with blankets and pillows. I remember having so much fun riding on the freeway in the back of a flatbed truck, no seat belts of course. There were no airbags, seat belt laws in cars. No bike helmets, elbow and knee pads. I wasn't a child of the safety recall era. Even car seats were fairly new back then. There weren't little water gauges telling you that you need to tilt the car seat up about 2 degrees, so that your infant can best survive a head on collision that way. And, if you even think about forgetting to put a harness on your dogs, while they ride the car, you are the anti-christ. Knowing everything then, that I know now, would I have died or been seriously maimed before I reached 19?

There was no hip dysplacia, reflux, ADD, or schizophrenia in toddlers. Hell, there wasn't even autism. There was just fussy babies and the croup. Allergies were sort of non-existent, there were kids who could run, and kids who couldn't. Don't even get me talking about breast feeding vs formula nowadays. They finally decided after 20 years of messing with it, the best way to avoid SIDS is the Back to Sleep method. (baby on back.) first it was baby on tummy, then to side, back to tummy and now to back again. Second hand smoke? That kid just has a chronic cough. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Nah. Remember Fredo in the Godfather?

Today, it's Amber Alerts and Code Adams. The other day someone tweeted (before calling police) that they were involved in a hit and run with the description of the car and they found the person in minutes. There are amber alerts, and sex offender websites and even an application for your iPhone where it will BEEP if a sex offender is within range. Dad is no longer drunk, unemployed and absent. He is now recognized as a an official "deadbeat dad."
Then at about 7 or 8, I want to say Trick or Treating was changed forever. News stories about people putting needles and razor blades in candy had everyone checking out their loot before they could eat it. Even taking their bags to the airport or to the Police Station to get their bags x-rayed. (Now, if you go to the airport with a mask, you will get shot.) If you get X-rayed you need a lead cover. People started chastising the old lady who made homemade popcorn balls for the past 30 years, for not having a pre-packaged seal on her treats.

I'm not saying we were worst back then, or even now for being better. I'm not even saying the old lady who made popcorn balls wasn't a terrorist, and I'm not saying she is. There are these things called studies, and science and polls, and life experience that teach us which things are good, and which things are bad. All in all we don't really know because it's constantly changing. As we speak, there is a new disorder, a new vaccine, a new disease, a new serial killer, a new urban legend...

So, I guess, do what makes you feel safe within reason, or you might go crazy thinking about it like yours truly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GAP CASTING CALL



Here are the pics we decided to use for the Gap Casting call. You can vote once day I believe for each kid. Please vote for the first Myla picture because they cant combine the pic votes. Thanks everyone! have a good week and don't forget to vote every day. After the first initial time, it's just a click, so don't let that hinder your clicker fingers.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Weather & Trips for November

Andy is going to Chicago to attend a business conference. We were at first, thinking of trying to tag along- his room is paid for, and we would just have to take care of airfare and personal money. But, financially, we just won't be able to swing it this time. We would need about 800-1000 if we want to eat, go to the Shedd Aquarium etc. That, and practically, Andy would have been working day and night- so this time around, he is on a recon mission for us instead. We have received all the info as to how we can do it next time, if we are lucky enough to have extra funds. I have a few friends in Chicago, so we might just make it a family trip on our own.
Of course we have to go on a couple overnights for some weekends. So we have a weekend in November reserved for the Huntington Library. We have an extra day off, so no vacation days will be used. When we first went, we were in the middle of a heat wave and the grounds were impossible to move through. Now, it is chillier and we will take the girls (of course) and be able to enjoy the gardens fully.
I love, love fall weather. I love cloudy, chilly, almost rainy and rainy weather. I was really meant to live in the UK or something. Being born and raised in San Diego, where it's sunny almost year round... I get depressed about the sunny, perfect, weather quite often. I think both the girls like the cooler weather, as when we went up to San Francisco and we had to bundle them up, they looked like they were having such a good time.

Advantages of Colder Weather:
  • For picnics, and just snack toting- food and milk doesn't get spoiled as quickly, you might even get away with not having to bring a cooler. A lot of baby bags have insulated stuff- that keeps the hot things hot and the cold things cold.
  • Socks. I just like socks.
  • Layering. Some summer stuff can be layered, light pants can go under dresses, boys long sleeved shirts can go under tee shirts etc. I love Baby Legs. Baby Leg Warmers that you can throw over leggings, under dresses, even wear on arms (yours or your kid's!) And when you are trying to make a quick diaper change, they make it much easier.
  • You can stay out longer. You don't have to worry about little ones getting sun stroke and heat exposure. Also, the little ones are less likely to get tired right away.
  • Places to go are less crowded and busy.
  • Everything is pretty much cheaper, admission, flights (except for the days before and after major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.), hotel room rates, etc.
  • Souvenirs from little trips during the cooler seasons make great Holiday gifts. So, multi task and do some small holiday shopping (be sure you can pack it on the plane!)
Stuff to bring when you go out in the chilly fall weather... room temperature bottle of water, hand sanitizer, (proven fact, we wash our hands less in the colder months.) Blankets for infants (of course) and a Toddler needs a snuggle also.
I am going to be working most of these holiday weekends at a retail job so we can make ends meet. More on that in a few, can't post what I am unsure of. Both the girls are excited about the prospect of Pumpkin Patches, dressing up as Darth Vader & Yoda, Turkeys and Christmas Trees. Hopefully, you'll be on the seat of your diapers and keep up with us!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Will Work for Travel

The Family and I have some exciting local trips ahead, well, in the planning still... First off, we want to go somewhere cold, within a 2-4 hour flight from San Diego so we can go on a weekend. If we can't really see the seasons, we will settle for San Francisco. This will be sometime in November. We have a couple weekends reserved for our new favorite, the Huntington Library, and also a trip planned to Disneyland for a wedding for our dear friends Tim and Chelsea. We are really, quite excited about that.

So there are hotel room nests to build, bags to pack... and I am also in the market for rolling luggage. Rick Steves, my favorite travel guru, sells a nice carry-on standard rolling luggage which I simply must get, and a lot cheaper than most. I know his stuff won't fall apart on you either.

In order to pay for these trips, I am applying for a seasonal job, cutting back unnecessary Christmas expenses and looking for deals and coupons everywhere I can find them. (For trips as well as every day household things.) Basically, "Will Work for Travel" should be my new motto. I am signed up to see some time shares that we can't afford or buy, with no intention of buying them. Just want the free trips they give away with them, and the 30 bucks cash they give you for your time. Nice.

Other ways I have made a little bit of money:
  • Consumer Surveys (25-65 usd an hour, about 1-3 hours)
  • consignment stores for the girls old clothes (about 100-200 bucks a drop off)
  • seasonal part-time retail position
  • enter free contests
  • rebates, coupon cutting (this is very time consuming, but you will be surprised how much it adds up.)


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Road Trip Tips!!

Portions of this post can also be seen on my Examiner Entry

As you know, we just came back from our five day Redwoods Trip. I am a packing fiend, especially for the kiddos. But my weakness has always been the overnight trip, or the short, domestic trip. I can fit both girls and my things in a 40 liter backpack for two months in foreign countries, but for a four day road trip I pack the rented Volkswagon Reuton with 5 shopping bags of food, three bags for personal stuff, two backpacks, a case of diapers, a cooler and a case of water, bedding and two strollers. For some reason, I always take too much on the short trips. It's as if my brain is saying, "We will definitely use THIS. We don't want to have to go back and pay overblown tourist prices for something simple." It really is living in luxury as they call it.


A few awesome snacks I recommend for road trips?

Two items that you can open, and toss over your toddler:

Snack trap cups with Cheerios or Gerber Puffs.

Squeezy Applesauce

Juice Boxes


Stuff we had in our cooler:

Half and Half (for me and Papa's coffee)

Case of foil wrapped juice packets

8 diet sodas

3 energy drinks.

4 yogurts

squeezy applesauce

bottled waters

Extra tips: Have your hotel info and/or vouchers, maps, paper information in one designated place, so much easier than digging.

I also like to put the designated gas money or card, in that folder or envelope also, so that I know I don't spend it on other stuff that isn't gas, also this way, we don't have to worry about it on the trip itself.

Make sure you have what you need for baby within an arms reach of you, in case you need to reach him.

Clear a spot in the trunk (if you are taking a van, this is especially helpful) where you can change diapers. If you are taking a car, make a changing station that can easil be folded or rolled up and put on the ground where you can make a quick change. Have all this stuff handy, diapers, wipes bags.

Bring your own trash bags and dispose of everything properly. Be a responsible visitor.

Driving tips:

Make sure you are both agreed on driving and being able to pull over and switch when you are tired.

Find something interesting where you should stop, if there is anything. Most of the time there is. These are the stops where you can see an Alien Diner, use the restroom, change diapers, feed the kids that need to be fed. Of course, if you are breastfeeding, your stops need to be more frequent, as we did this on our first road trip to Utah when Myles was 5 weeks old. Making the journey part of the trip makes all the stops worth it.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back From Long Beach

I could kick myself for forgetting some things. Here I am preaching to moms about clever things you need to take, and what do I do? I forget half of my stuff! Anyway, here's what we forgot...
Blue Painter's Tape (to tape all the drawers shut for our little cruiser, as well as tape hotel washcloths to corners of tables)
Power outlet covers (4-6 of them)
extra sticky things for the tub so the toddler doesn't slip.

Papa made a nest for the toddlers sleeping quarters... I tweeted about it. It was awesome. We used the bedcovers (because they aren't very clean) to pad the bottom. Then we used, some extra hotel blankets and finally a new set of clean hotel sheets. Myles brought her blanket and her own pillow and the nest had a ring of hotel pillows around it. At the foot of the bed was Emmy's travel bed (basically a folding drawer) and we made that cozy for her. All of this stuff was on the floor so that Papa and I could sleep and not worry about them falling off the bed.

Anyway, we did alright otherwise, but we would have had an easier time if we had brought the stuff. I am definitely bringing it on our road trip because that will be all motels.

The trip was great, we saw the Long Beach Aquarium and had a great time with family. We stayed completely under budget, so we can definitely do this again! =)



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Overnite to Long Beach

Heading up to the OC for our lovely Cousin Ganzuzu's Bday party and to the Long Beach Aquarium on Sunday. Can't wait to take this teeny trip, as the stresses from work and whatnot make us want to take a couple days off. Budget for this small trip is small as well.
  • Tickets to Aquarium are $18.95 USD. (Five dollars off, normally $23.95 USD if you buy them online ahead of time. ) $37.90 USD
  • Gas will be about $25.00 USD.
  • Hotel for us, is going to be about $80.00 USD.
  • Food Budget $40.00 a Day
Total: $223.00 USD

Any trips we take we try, and try to pay for everything in advance. I like to use sites like www.hotels.com, which mostly books you and pays for it. One less expense to worry about. The girls are excited about the prospect of breaking the monotony. I think Memmy already has the travel bug because she loves, loves being in a new place and people watching. Myles is pretty much a veteran traveler, and she knows to stay next to us when she's in a different place. Knows about the value of new places and situations. I know this from the way she recognizes things and observes them. Let you know all about it as well as post pics. Have a great weekend everyone!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

CARES Harness...

So, you no longer have to lug a car seat on the plane! FAA Approved, for children 22-44 pounds.
check out Travel Mamas for more info on the thing. It's pretty awesome, gonna order mine and letcha know how we feel about it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Two Worlds Converge: Super Geek and Super Mom

Before my little beans were born, I never noticed the attendees who mumbled under their breath, every time a baby made a sound in a theatre, or during a panel. I never noticed how many times people exhaled in discontent every time the wheels of a stroller touched their feet in the crowded exhibit hall.


But it happens.


San Diego Comic-Con is, it’s the largest ever convention of its kind- celebrating the popular arts. Comic Books, Movies, video games, role playing games- anything and everything that at one point touched Comics or Science Fiction. It’s set up for about a quarter of a million people, at the San Diego Convention Center. The exhibit hall is where people are hawking their comics, books, costumes, zombie contact lenses... and major companies like Warner Brothers (who incidently, had a wonderful display of “Where The Wild Things Are” to advertise their new movie based on the popular Chilren’s Book. Nickelodeon had a Tribute to Sponge Bob Square Pants. Snoopy and Pikachu were walking around one of the days.


The other rooms are set up for panels and trailers and interviews with famous people and shows. there are workshops for people in the business. The panels go from The cast of Twilight to a small writer's circle with intimate Q and A's.


My conclusion, after bringing Myla when she was 3 months, and then when she was 20 months and then now when she is two as well as Emily when she is 8 months, is this: UNLESS NECESSARY, DON'T BRING YOUR BABIES. Kids over 7 maybe are great to bring on kids day, but anything under probably shouldn't attend...


Here are the reasons why:

1. After seeing Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba, although they will enjoy it for a moment and get their picture, there really isn't much more for them to do.

2. It's way to crowded. Like horribly crowded. Germs. Toes. Arms. Legs. Not a great place to take the buggers. Now, when Myles was little, we carried her in the carrier and we also had her in the stroller. But when she got older, all she wanted to do was run around. And with god reason, there were people dressed up, big kids running around like little kids. To the two year old eye, it looks like a safe place for them to play. But it's a different kind of play. And it's really hard to explain this to an anxious Toddler.

3. There are no facilities for people with babies. They do not have a place for people to breast feed (I asked) and they said it was up to the conventions to set those up. Comic Con does not set any aside- which is again, understandable. My one complaint about this, is there are a LOT of babies there. Also, there are no changing facilities. I am fine changing babies on the floor, but something irked me about seeing all of these moms in corners changing their babies like it was a dirty shame to have one around.

4. Babies make a lot of noise. During panels, people who attend Comic-Con sometimes have to wait in line for hours to get into some of these panels, and when they are trying to hear Brucs Campbell talk, they don't want to hear a crying baby. Or even a babbling, happy baby. Music to MY ears, but not to your average 2009 Super Geek Model.


So these are some of my reasons as to why you shouldn't bring your beloved ham hocks to San Diego Comic Con... I have in the past, brought an infant (under one) and she was fine in the stroller or the carrier, but toddlers definitely a reconsider. Please, if there are great reasons as to why you SHOULD or have brought your toddlers and infants to Comic Con, please put them here! I would love to hear your input.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Redwoods National Park: Planning Continued

If we were to drive to Redwoods National Park from San Diego, google maps tells us it will take 13 hours. From San Francisco, it will about 5 hours. We will have Friday Afternoon until Monday Morning to accomplish this feat. Here is our planned itinerary:
Friday:
130pm Leave SD
6pm stop for dinner, changes etc.
11pm arrive at San Francisco, check in for the night.
Saturday
5am Wake up, have coffee and hit the open road.
8am Breakfast with laid back country folk
1130am arrive at RNP, check into motel.
RNP the whole day
Sunday: Crescent City, RNP etc. Start heading south.
Monday: Still heading down south to SD.

Of course, I never, ever make definite itineraries just (general ideas) because you never know where the road might take us. Especially with me as navigator and Papa driving. HA!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Budget & Funding

We had a bad day here at the house... only because it seems like when one thing happens, another is sure to follow... first our car broke down a few days ago and that put us in a monetary bind. But it still doesn't dampen our spirits. The same day the car broke down (and I was told we had to shell over 800 USD to get it fixed), I also got the email saying I reinstated my website for travel. I believe Global Travel International is a subsidiary of Travelocity, so if you book through our site, you get those guarantees, and you would be helping fund our trip. Prices are just as competitive, just like if you were to use Travelocity anyway. BUT you would be helping us by using it instead of those other sites. =) Just click here if you want to check it out. Or over there on the right, I have the link too. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Redwoods National Park ROADTRIP!

We have decided that our labor day weekend will include a 13 hour drive to Northern California on a road trip with the kiddos. Leave Friday after work (I think Papa has a half day), car packed from the night before and head to the open road! Can't wait, as I have never seen these parks before, since I'm not really all that into "nature" as I like to joke. Then back on Monday so Papa can work the next day. (Poor guy!)
The California Redwoods are one of the "500 Places to Take Your Kids Before they Grow Up." I love road trips... packing the cooler full of ice and cold beverages, leaving the wee hours of the morning, coffee in hand... nothing but the open road in front of you and adventures 'round every corner.
But of course, we are leaving in the afternoon... and picking up Papa from work... Oh well. The sensory image was nice anyway. If you have been to Redwoods National Park before, please let me know anything that is a MUST see, aside from big-ass trees. My packing list is starting to grow... Papa & I have a couple overnights for Comic Con and for our anniversary in LA, and I will write about alone time later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day Trip To Seal Beach, CA

We are visiting some cousins tomorrow from the East Coast, and I suspect there will be a some shenanigans goin' on in the park tomorrow. Our fast, "To Go" from home breakfast...
For the 2 year old: a banana, cup of cheerios, about 6 ounces of milk in a sippy cup.
For the 7 month old: 6 ounces of formula
Mom: Yogurt & Coffee
Dad: Bowl of Cereal (before we drive off) & Coffee

The drive is about an hour and a half... we get gas, and some snacks along the way and coffee. Memmy has her Whoozit. (That blue whatsit you see on the right there... and Myla is bringing Loey (her cleanliness-deficient stuffed dog) and her soccer ball for the park. Can't wait to see the cousins!
For a day trip I usually bring 8 diapers each. (this is obviously an overage) a first aid kit, and a small cooler filled with waters, juice boxes and necessary milk. On a side note, I purchased this 6 pack cooler at Target that was 8.99 USD. I LOVE IT. It has probably already saved us about 20 USD in drinks alone from beverages in all the places we have been already. We will let you know how the trip went... and give you an update on the traveling.

Favorite Baby Store of Late...

Everyone knows I'm a real baby gear freak. I have a little bit of everything and always am looking for new stuff that's different, cool, travel-easy or just brilliant in general for the bambinas. I was reading a couple reviews and raves about this store called The Little Seed. It's in the LA Area, and everything they have is organic and/or very green. I'm putting together an online order now. =) Also, surprisingly, pretty affordable. Just thought I would give some wonderful kudos to The Little Seed... here... you should buy something.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why We Love Summer... From a Family on a Tight Budget

Jar Savings from the last two weeks: 22.08 USD
Happy July everyone!
It's summertime and our household, although technically only two summers old with all of us in it, has been busy! With beautiful weather (almost EVERY darn day!) Parks and just fun afternoons at the grandparents and with friends... we wonder how it goes to quickly.
I realize not everyone is as lucky as we are to live in San Diego- with all the activities- and our fancy Schmancy Zoo, and our first Sea World Ever. So here are some things it seems, everyone loves to do in the summer time...broken down in a few easy categories. Of course, this is geared towards the young-uns and the infants... but if you have good ones for bigger kids, please CHIME IN!
Cheap Summer Toys: All simple, easy to get and clean up...
Bubbles: Babies love 'em and toddlers love em. They're under a dollar in most places. You can buy a gallon of bubbles for like 3 bucks in some places... out in the park, in your yard. You can also make your own bubbles with corn syrup and water. Kiddos can eat them too.
A Ball: plain, plastic bouncy ball. You can get em for under 3 USD at Wal-Mart, Target etc. You can play all kinds of ball games...here are some.
Sidewalk chalk: I was floored when I bought a pack of 24 sticks of sidewalk chalk for 2.99 USD. You can sweep it away, hose it away when your kids are done. There are a lot of sidewalk chalk games
Kite: Not always, the cheapest, but a pretty great investment if you get a good one. Or you can make one...

Stuff to Do:
Toy Store Trip: Go to the toy store or your local store, to look for some of the aforementioned toys, make a day of it... pack a picnic, or snacks... tell the toddler to pick a colorful ball or let him or her know what you will be doing with it.
Front Yard/Balcony Picnics: You can do this for lunch, or dinner. BBQ is always a fun way to eat dinners... make a point of doing it once a week.
Library: Most local libraries have story times, and so do major book store chains. research this stuff and get to one of these...
Local Rec Center: A lot of local rec centers have free arts and crafts, or a snack time. All across America, there is a free lunch program put on by the FDA- your 2-18 year olds can get a free healthy lunch at the rec center... this is to help relieve mom or dad with making the lunches and get the kids out to the parks. Click here for more info...
Drive-In Movie or Park Movies: bring your favorite snacks and food to the drive in or local park! Your kiddos can be rambunctious and they get to be in the car or on a picnic blanket more of a private area but also gets you out and about.
Movie Night: Make a themed movie night at your house where the dinner and the movie match. For instance, if you are watching Ratatouille, what better than to serve french themed food? Play a game having to do with the movie theme... or dress up your house in the theme as well.

Random tip: Don't forget to stock up on sunscreen!

Whatever you do, make it a fun day and a fun summer... because they get shorter and shorter every year. At least, it seems this way.





Monday, June 22, 2009

A Recon Trip to REI...






We were on a mission today to find the Kelty, Transit. It's a baby carrier/backpack for babies a little bit older, can hold up to 40 pounds of baby. I forget how much I love this store. It has EVERYTHING you could possibly need... we found kids backpacks (REI Squirt, has a H20 system/hose) and the types of shoes we plan on packing with us. The shoes we want to have are trail running shoes, and also waterproof type sandal shoes for the girls. Of course, we are partial to Eagle Creek for our actual rucksacks. Going tonight made me realize just how much stuff we are going to need for this trip. They didn't have the Kelty's but we put our name on the list for the end of the month. I could have stayed the whole time looking at the First Aid Kit Stuff. But on another note, individually wrapped things are much nicer for a person packing a bunch of stuff. Not that great for the environment, but great for your comfort while on the road.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Back from Disneyland...

Jar: 18.22 USD
We went to the Disneyland Resort from Thursday to Sunday.  The drive is about an hour and half from San Diego to Anaheim, unless you run into some traffic.  6 month old slept the whole way, and 2 year old was happy to get out of the house.  If you can. I recommend some days at home before the trip.  When we do this, a car ride for them seems nice and when we get home, they appreciate it so much more.

We checked in to our hotel, (The Disneyland Hotel) and were asked if we wanted an upgrade to their fancier hotel, The Grand Californian for one night.  We wholeheartedly agreed and we got to stay in a suite... it had a beautiful view and was ridiculously large.  Sometimes hotels in general find a candidate who might want this upgrade, and offer it to them for a number of reasons... one is someone somewhere overbooked some rooms and they are trying to move people around before the trouble hits.  Sometimes, if they see there is a returning guest, they try to see if they can give them a preview of the nicer hotel, for maybe a future visit.  

The girls enjoyed themselves thoroughly. Disney of course, has a very family oriented style of living, so things like large balconies always tiny spaces so little ones can't fall through.  Room was bare and minimalistic.  And I swear, their beds are really comfy- even more so than the Westin Dream Bed.    

Stroller:  We bought a Graco Duo Glide from a garage sale for 25 USD and take it to occasions like this- it's a long double stroller, with plenty of storage space on the bottom, cup holders and most importantly, both seats can lay down pretty well.  Also, we didn't mind if we left this battering ram outside... and kept valuables in a backpack that we carried the whole time.  

Amusement park must haves if you have an infant or a toddler:  
Stroller that folds back all the way
Pacifier Leash, 
plastic rings to hold toys, drink cups etc.  
sunscreen, 
a light blanket or an extra form of "shade" for the stroller
basic snacks, 
a small cooler

To save money:
bring a case of your own water
juice boxes
invest in a soft sided cooler
snacks
share portions of purchased food with your kids (or have them share with each other.)
have a souvenir budget

Monday, June 8, 2009

Safety Tips on The Road...Excerpt from Travel Guide for Toddlers and Infants



Jar: 15.02 USD
For reasons to be named later, I can only put excerpts from The Health & Safety Chapter in the book, on the blog.  I tried to pick out the most important things and post them on here, but of course, this is not everything, so just use it as a bit of advice.  Remember, the best thing to use is common sense because there are so many different countries with their own set of what is acceptable safe behavior and what is considered deviant behavior in their particular country.  

First Aid Kit:  You need some basics on here to have a good infant/toddler medical kit...a good start is this little pod they sell at stores like Target or Marshall Fields (on the East Coast).  It's a good start because it comes with band-aids, non-stinging cleaner, antibiotic ointment, basically stuff for scrapes and cuts that Toddlers and babies love to get.  
But, here is my First Aid Kit and it covers a wider range of ailments for both adults and the wee ones.
In a quart size ziplock container: (TSA Approved as well.)
Big Band-Aids
Regular Band Aids
Smaller Band-Aids
Non-stinging antiseptic Cleaner (we use that foam, "boo-boo juice")
Alchohol Swabs (6-8 of these)
Sting relief pads
Antibiotic cream/ointment
Small roll of medical tape
gauze
thermometer
Infant Tylenol
Infant/children's Benadryl
2 sets of earplugs
aloe vera gel
sunscreen (small, emergency bottle or wipe)
burn cream
ice/hot pack (there is the kind that is both)
small safety scissors
baby nail clippers
anti-itch cream
cortizone
Any prescription meds (if needed)
any prescription copies from your doctor
eye drops
ibuprofin
acetometaphine
blister care


Baby Proofing While on The Road:  
Blue Painter's Tape: this kind of tape works wonders for babyproofing your hotel room or any place your staying.  It comes off easily and doesn't chip or peel the paint of the furniture.  You can also use it to cover electrical sockets and tape washcloths to the sharp corners of tables.   

Misc Safety: 
Pictures: Another good idea I read about somewhere said that you should take a picture of your babies in case you get separated from them.  Is the picture an okay depiction of the babies?   Have a copy of this picture in your wallet and also have a picture of your family with your child's things, that way they can make the connection if you ever got separated.  

 







Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Think We Found Our Good Cause...

Jar: 18.08 USD
This year, 22.3 million kids under the age of 16, enrolled in Metro Manila's Public Education system.  Due to the overcrowding of the schools, classes are taken in shifts... in four hour blocks.  Imagine being in kindergarten and going to night school?  

When we went to the Philippines this last January, it killed us to see kids in uniforms, maybe 6 years old carrying their little pan-de-sals (bread rolls) wrapped in napkins, walking in the heat and pollution and riding on whatever they normally rode (a jeep, a bus, a tricycle) for an hour or two in traffic just to get to an overcrowded classroom. 

 The classrooms sometimes have one book for every 8 kids, sometimes only one textbook a classroom.  There is no air conditioning, and a lot of the kids have no bathrooms in their house, so hygiene with the children is not always great.  75 kids sometimes fit into a classroom built for 25.  What really, humbled us was the determination of these kids and the understanding of the importance of education, no matter how horrible the conditions are.  Then I think of our schools here and how we complain about the overcrowding of schools, and how so many kids just don't value it.  

We want to help this cause.  The article brought tears to my eyes. 

But we don't know how at the moment.  

I have emailed the head of the organization in the Philippine Department of Education Adopt-A-School Program, and some contacts we have in the PI.  We will update you as this develops.


Monday, June 1, 2009

And the Winner of the "No Touch Monkey" Book Contest

TRISHA of San Diego, California... thank you Trisha for your wonderful insights on packing, traveling and sharing your wonderful adventures of your new little one!  

Everyone else who commented: I will be giving away a book every month, so keep reading and sharing!! 



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Packing for Disneyland... "It's A Small World After All..."

Jar: 16.77 USD

I love that song.

We always joke that on an overnight, or short drive trip we always take more than if we were going around the world. The difference is not in necessity, it's in what you actually carry from day to day. Let's face it folks, we don't really need anything. Okay, I retract that just a tiny bit, because when you have babies, or small kids, you actually might need certain items. We are going with the intention that we are splurging a bit, and taking advantage of Disney's specials (meal plans, ticket and hotel deals) which are actually, quite reasonable. We are celebrating Grammy's Birthday, a night at Disney's fancy restaurant, The Blue Bayou is on Saturday.

Ask yourself these questions when you pack...
  • Are we driving or taking a plane?
  • How long is the trip?
  • What will I be carrying with me at all times? The kids?
  • What's the weather going to be like? (www.weather.com)
  • Are we on a budget and taking food in? Drinks? (Check with your destination about what is acceptable to bring in, some places don't allow you to bring certain things, but with infants there might be exceptions.)
  • What are my baby's essentials? (Allergies, special creams, prescriptions etc.) Do we have enough of that?
As for packing to amusement parks for infants and toddlers, I have broken it down to these key items (for a 3 night, 4 day trip)

Infant: (6 mos)
32 Diapers (8 diapers a day x 4)
6 Swimmer Diapers
about 200 wipes
1 disposable changing pad
6 sets of PJ's
6 tubs/jars of baby food
4 small pre packaged tubs of rice cereal
8 sets of clothes
4 onesies
two teething rings
4 pacifiers
one pack of pacifier wipes (handy and also safe for them to eat right after I wipe it off)
two stroller toys (to switch out)
about a dozen plastic rings (to hold toys in place)
6 disposable baby spoons
2 baby bottles
1 extra nipple
Water Babies Sunscreen
Floppy hat
two sweaters/jackets
1 muslin Blanket
1 regular blanket
1 heavy blanket
4 pairs of socks
1 beanie
The nice, heavy, comfy stroller with lots of room on the bottom. =)
4 bibs
8 burp cloths
formula (2 cans)
bathing suit

Toddler (2 years old, not potty trained)
32 diapers
8 swimmer diapers
about 200 wipes
antibacterial hand sanitizer
1 disposable changing pad
1 beanie
1 blanket
sunglasses
1 muslin blanet
6 sets of PJ's
2 tee shirts
2 pairs of pants
6 sets of clothes
2 bibs
floppy hat
robe
stain spray
sippy cup/bottled water
some extra money for amusements
bathing suit

For both:
changing pad
sunscreen
pack of 500 wipes
diaper rash cream
baby powder
baby bath soap
1 large trash bag for dirty laundry
2 gallons of bottled water
First Aid Kit (geared for infant and toddler needs, basic adult ones- see my post on First Aid Kits & Safety)

My bags for this trip?
The JuJuBe Be Prepared, and the DadGear Backpack. Click here to see or buy these bags. The JuJube will be kept at the hotel, and the backpack kept light and easy to lug around with essentials and valuables (phone, wallet etc.) So when you leave the stroller at the stroller parking lots, you can take it with you. =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FAMILY CALENDARS...

Jar 14.38
I just wanted to explain to everyone, if you  noticed, I put our family calendar on the side of this blog, so you could see as I posted about all of these small trips in between the bog ones.  See, small trips keep me sane. So if, budget allows, we have a trip- a small one.  Much love to everyone.  Next, Disneyland!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

PHOTO SHOOT!



We had a family photo shoot in lovely Balboa Park, in our hometown of San Diego.  It was a beautiful day and the girls were glad to be outside.  Anton, who is my cousin and friend- did a WONDERFUL job.  If anyone is in the market for a photographer, he has a GREAT eye, and is very professional.  You can't even tell that Myla was running away every chance she got.  Please give him a try!   Here is the link for the website, as well as the pics from out photo shoot.  http://radcaptures.smugmug.com/gallery/8304435_ZN9Rj#543892271_34WwL

Enjoy!  We sure did.   


Friday, May 22, 2009

Europe Trip 2010 Itinerary...


Jar Savings: 2.22 USD
Here is the Europe trip Itinerary so far, and this is without discussion from other members of the party besides me and my mom.  This is the first thing we do when we have a trip in mind.  I have rewritten this about 6 times, done some research and wrote it over again.  Our first itinerary did not include Spain, but for some reason, my mom really wants to go to Spain, and I am not about to argue with my mother.  Plus, I love Spain.  Sangria here we come! There has to be a little more work done on Prague, but so far the consensus is, Prague has less to do?  I'm not sure about that, so do you guys have suggestions?  I have been there before on New Year's Eve but only over night and it was a wonderful.  

April 9 San Diego-Rome
10 Travel
11 Rome
12 Rome - Vaticano
13 Rome -Vaticano
14 Rome- Day Trip Italy
15 Rome
16 Rome-Florence
17 Florence
18 Florence Day Trip Italy
19 Florence  
20 Florence-Venice-EU
21 Prague
22 Prague
23 Prague-Barcelona
24 Barcelona
25 Barcelona Day Trip Spain
26 Barcelona
27 Barcelona-London
28 London
29 London
30 London-San Diego

So if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to post them here, and we can discuss further options.  =)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Decline in Airline Attendants and their Service

I always bring a bottle of children's benadryl or children's cough syrup on the plane, and luckily have never needed it. I absolutely refuse to give them to my kids unless they are really sick or need it. I have been doing some research, and I did read about a fllight attendant drugging a kids' milk (sued and fired). I also heard of things like kids getting thrown out of planes because their kids were misbehaving. With this being said, I have also noticed a dismal decline in service from most American Based Carriers- United, American and Northwest being the biggest of these after 9/11, I have been traveling for about 20 years now, and absolutely refuse to use American Carriers with my kids unless it is absolutely necessary. I think the flight attendants and employees of these American carriers are beginning to use Homeland Security as an excuse not to be nice anymore and taking their "disgruntled employee in a customer service" attitudes and using Homeland Security as a way to empower themselves. And noticably, if you fly Air New Zealand, British Airways, Virgin, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific- any carrier that is not American, you get great, attentive service with airline employees that appreciate you, and will help with you with you and your children. I hate to be a basher of particular brands, but personally, I haven't had great service from United or American on board any of the flights I have travelled. Any. That's really saying something.

Nothing exciting...


Jar this week: 20.90 USD
Planning, planning and more planning.  There is nothing exciting on the trip planning front this week.  We are just on correspondence and retrieval and information gathering mode.  Soon... there will be an announcement. =)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hallo?

We have been absolutely horrible this past week of updating the blog.  But, I swear, this is all related.  We have been busy getting my sister to Roma, and in the meantime having her help with the transitioning of being with her help and soon- to having her be gone, far, faraway.  Anyway, good times and cheers to my sister for becoming completely fluent in Italian and moving to Italia! She will be missed, but thank goodness for scype (sp?) email and all that stuff.  Plus, we will have a nice contact in Roma when we get this trip going!  

Jar Savings this week?  $27.22 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Win a GREAT Summer Reading Book! NO TOUCH MONKEY By Ayun Halliday

We've decided to have a contest for those of you people who are following or starting to follow... 

Send in your questions, comments, travel experiences, stories or just say how much you like us and I'll pick the best piece and send you a free copy of this book! Last day to enter is: 31 May 2009.  

"I laughed hard on nearly every page of this shockingly intimate travel memoir and deeply funny book."  -Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 

 


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Keeping Mosquitoes and other Annoying Biting Flies Off Your Family!

Jar Savings $12.23
The hardest thing about going to South East Asia with a 3 month old, was trying to find the perfect mosquito repellant before we left.    With Malaria, Dengue Fever and a slew of other diseases brought on by those little pests was enough to make me crazy.  I narrowed it down to a few products.

California Baby Mosquito Repellant- safe for infants, smelled nice, and wasn't oily or greasy.  It lasted a few hours and didn't give the girls or us any kind of rash.  Main ingredient was Citronella. 
Avon Skin-So-Soft Line-  There is a bug reppeller/sunscreen at SPF 30.  It didn't stink, and it kept off almost every kind of bug.  Also, the regular skin so soft oil has always repelled mosquitos although I find it to be too oily.  
Patches: Made By OFF!
We found these in Asia, but I haven't had a chance to look for them here.  You could stick on clothing or the baby carrier that repelled mosquitos for 8 hours.  This was perfect at night, so you wouldn't have to keep reapplying.  

It's hard, finding stuff without DEET that was effective for the baby.  The Toddler on the other hand, was okay with kids stuff.  I recommend putting stuff on their legs first to see if they react to it.  There are also numerous companies that make mosquito nets for portable cribs, carriers and strollers.  Which really worked out well for the baby when we were outdoors eating or something.  Also, a random tip that is somewhat related, be careful when you put even "safe for babies" stuff on their skin, (this goes with sunscreen also).  We forgot and put the stuff on the back of Memmy's arms and she rubbed all over her eyes and she ended up with sore, stinging eyes.  Poor thing.  

Friday, May 1, 2009

Baby Changing Stations



Before we had kids, we never noticed if there was a baby chang-ing station some-where.  We never looked for the avail-ability of hot water, or even for places that offered baby food.  We found ourselves in the beginning of the trip, bumbling around looking for places to change Myla in the UK. Fortunately, our week long road trip to Utah when Myla was 5 weeks old, trained us well in changing the baby anywhere.  Basically, if you have a clean flat surface you can change your kid.  Of course, we try to refrain from changing them in eating areas.
A lot of countries are child friendly.  For changing stations, we were pleasantly surprised how nice the UK was about having changing stations in the major attractions.  For instance, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the castle had an over the top changing station.  It turned one of the castle rooms into this baby changing hexagon.  Within the walls of the castle, temporary walls were set up (like bathroom stall walls).  There was a sink with very hot water, changing tables, benches, plenty of paper towels, and rocking chairs for nursing mothers.  In their eatery, there was a baby food/bottle warmer, they sold baby food as well as other things.  
In Taipei, we were pleasantly surprised to find there was a hot water station almost everywhere you turned.  And the changing station at the airport was a traveling parent's dream!  Clean and sterilized, with signs everywhere to tell you so.  Changing stations, a crib and a carriage, a couch, separate stalls with cushions for nursing, free wipes and diapers, even a big enough sink to bathe a baby or a small child as well as a hot water station and a purified water fountain.  This post will be an ongoing one, as we travel we will take more pictures of the nappy changing units.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Activity Backpack-for Toddlers

I have been getting this question a lot lately...
Any tips on how to keep a toddler occupied on a long plane ride or road trip?  
Yes, I do.  It has worked the three or four trips with our kids, and the numerous friends and clients who have done it under my advice.  This is for an independent walker up until older kids...(dunno, depends on your kids, you know them better than I do!)  
First, you take a small compact backpack.  Don't get one of those chincy ones with crap hanging all over it, and frills and bows... for airport security and your sanity.  You want your toddler to put it on his/her back.  This makes them feel important and grown up.  Weeks or days before the trip, you hide it and store it somewhere.  When you go to the store, look for teeny little activities to put inside.  Small notebooks, some crayons, stickers, bandaids with cartoons on them, tattoos, small novelty bubbles, and snacks.  You can also print out pictures of your pets and grandparents and friends and put them in a little book so he/she can show people where your visiting.  My two year old loves it when we give her a disposable camera and we show her how to take pictures on it.  Of course, the pictures are not going to be very good, but it still makes her feel cool.

Put all this stuff in your hidden backpack, make sure it's not too heavy (over two pounds for their little back might be too heavy.)  And don't let them open it until they get on the plane, or at the airport when you guys are waiting for awhile and that toddler starts to be, well a toddler. What objects to avoid? Too many pens with caps.  Play Dough or clay.  Paint.  Stuff that would get all over. I would also suggest not putting a bouncy ball in the bag (I did it.) and chasing it around was not fun.  Of course, if you have a kid that puts stuff in his or her mouth (my first one never did, I don't know about Emmy yet.) Be sure to put things inside that are not choking hazards.  (Good rule of thumb: If it can fit into a toilet paper roll, it's too small.)

If you can, I recommend a portable DVD Player... we have a Sony one that seems to be indestructible if someone wants to know a brand, just email me.  

Anyway, that was my toddler boredom tip for the day.  Let me know if you try this stuff out and how it worked for you! -MELISSA



Jar Update...

Dunno why I didn't think of this.  Every week (Tuesday, because Mondays are too busy.)  I will post how much we saved and put in the jar.  But it's Wednesday today... so, let's pretend it's Tuesday.  =)
The week of 20-26 April,  14.27 USD.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Italy/Prague Trip 2010

This trip is set for April 2010 and we have about 20 days to do it.  We are covering a lot of Italy, Rome (where Rachel will be), and we already know where we are staying.  I dare not type any names until I get the okay from them to do it.  And then 4-5 days in Florence, Italian countryside to Venice, swing by Austria again, a little bit of Germany, Czech Republic for 3-4 days, through Europe and we eventually want to go to London, where we fly out of.  Generally speaking this might work.  Anything anyone recommends, has family they want us to visit, we are always open to that.    

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two Trips in the Works...

First of all, there are two trips being planned between now and the RTW trip in 2011.  One is Italy/Prague trip with my family in 2010.  The Italy/Prague trip will serve two purposes... to visit my sister in Italia, and to visit mom's friends in Prague.  Also, this will give us a chance to use our gear and see what is more convenient.  2010 trip will be MUCH shorter (at about 2 weeks) and also will be a prelim to the bigger trip the next year.  

This being said, we will be with a bigger group for the 2010 trip and the dynamic will be really different.  So, there is a lot more planning involved.  Anyway, this is an exciting time. I can't wait to start.

Remember, money you can always, eventually make, but time can never be made back.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Post Under Frugal Traveler Website...

I don't know how many people get to check out links, so I thought I would post my comment on the Frugal Traveler's page in the New York Times Blog.  The post was in response to a bunch of his readers being annoyed that the Frugal Traveler's budget of 100 USD a day in his article wasn't very "frugal."  I didn't think there was anything wrong with it.  

I appreciate this post and I have linked your blog with mine after recommendations from some friends who are regular readers. My family and I are embarking on an around the world trip in 2011. The catch? We are traveling with our two kids who are going to be two and three. Our budget for a family of four is going to be about 250 USD a day. This is an exorbetant amount, but I have aimed high for inflation and other costs. My kids already have a few stamps on their passports (acquired when they were weeks old) with Emily being 3 months old and Myla being 20 months old. We have traveled on a cross country road trip, a three week jaunt to the UK, and most recently a trip to Taipei and the Philippines. We do not make more than the lower average middle class family, but we live a simple life so we can save for this trip. We have a 1998 Honda Civic (complete with two carseats in the back), sack lunches for two years, I don't have a babysitter, And literally keep a water jug full of change in our living room. I can see what the frugal traveler is doing. Frugal traveling doesn't necessarily mean not spending any money at all. And to a general audience, not everyone is a backpacker. There is a fine line between a backpacker and an independent budget traveler. Which is where I like to categorize good 'ole Frugal. I am a travel concierge, and people are always surprised that stuff that claims to be cheap isn't cheap. The public is always looking for more, more more and are surprised at what they get when they pay nothing for something. (ie. "a flight to London, at a fraction of the cost, but has 4 stops? WHY??") I think the biggest misunderstanding for people who travel is that there is a lot of give and take for travel budgets. If someone really wants to travel, everyone has the means to do it, it's just a question of how badly you want to do it. how much you can sacrifice (if you don't want to pay a lot) and how much time is worth to you more than money is.  
-Melissa Keith, www.120daylater.blogspot.com

Animals in the Philippines





Going to the Philippines this past February with a 21 month old and a two month old was an eye opener .  Andy and I commented numerous times, on how most of the things we did could never be done in the states.  
At the Highland Park Zoo (this is one of the photos pictured on the right.)  When you first walk in to this cute little zoo, a man comes by with a box and a couple of birds.  He puts a bird on your shoulder either a blue Macaw or a big white cockatoo... and (if you request) he'll throw a green tree python with his mouth taped shut, around your neck.  You can take as many pictures as you want for free.  You can even throw a bird in the bushes and no one gets mad.  This poor cockatoo was tossed by my 21 month old, who had never had a bird that large on her arm before.  The man, pretty aggressively placed the bird on her arm, and it started to playfully crawl towards her neck.  Poor girl, was surprised and afraid and chucked the thing about 6 feet into the bushes.  The bird jumped out, looking pretty disheveled, but fine nonetheless.  This bird was truly a professional, and my entire family was very apologetic to him.  But, in all her toddler wisdom, Myla shouted... "SAW-REE BIRD!!!" and looked pretty disappointed in herself for throwing him, which again reitorates the fact that I know my daughter was born a nice person.  
Then, we went to a resort in Bataan where there was a Pawikan (Sea Turtles) Preserve.  During breakfast, we heard that the night before, all the sea turtle eggs hatched and we were allowed to go see them!  I was expecting a small room where you could look through the glass and view these sea turtles.  We walked around the resort in our pajamas and passed a small hut that usually was a place where you could reserve body boards and snorkel gear.  There was a large, blue plastic basin in it, and the guy working there said, "here!  Baby turtles!"  and there they were, about 65 baby sea turtles.  They were going to be released into the wild at sundown and they were in the basin so people could look at them.  I had never been that close to a sea turtle, much less a baby sea turtle before.  Myla got to look and oogle at them and appreciate these little miracles.  It was kind of a tear jerker.  I mean, I was getting emotional from something that small!  We picked a few up and she got to touch them, but we knew that too much handling couldn't possibly be good for the turtles, but what the heck do I know?  So we thanked the man and left.  
There are other places like in Subic (the old US Army Base) Zoo, where you could feed live chickens to crocodiles.  And we did the chincy take a picture with a baby tiger thing.  It cost about 5 bucks.  You paid a man at the counter and there were two wiry guys with a baby tiger behind a small chain link fence.  They bring out a baby bottle feeder, and the guy instructed us (it was just me, Myla & Papa, Emmy would have been a chicken nugget to the baby tiger we are told.)  to sit on the bench.  "No sudden movements."  
"No loud, sudden noises."  
This terrified me because Myla is all one, loud, sudden movement.
I asked if we could Myla in the middle, and both guys said, "Nooooooo!"
So, Papa got to hold the baby tiger, who was about the height of a labrador and probably about 1oo pounds already.  When a baby tiger walks by you, and you have a 22 pound 20 month old on your lap, you think... oh my god, are we going to be on that "when animals attack" show?  This baby tiger's paws were about the size of a saucer, and his head was twice the size of mine.  Man, it was cool.  

Picture taken.  

The guys was fumbling with our camera, and the safety guy who was holding the chain of the tiger on Andy's lap, was gesturing to the guy taking the picture, to hurry up because the bottle Andy was holding was running out.  

Last picture taken.  

Again, I am very much against the exploitation of animals, but none of the zoos WE went to in the Philippines looked like they were mistreating or neglecting the animals at all.  In fact, all the zoologists and caretakers seemed very much in love with the animals, and all seemed genuinely excited to have people touch and hold these animals and learn from them in this way. I actually gained an appreciation for the power of a tiger by this 3 minute experience.  Again, I would have had to pay an arm and a leg to see one baby sea turtle a Sea World, or get a picture with a baby tiger anywhere.  Tigers' fur was coarse but really soft!  It was so cool!  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Big Earth Website

Hey ya'll.  I was a fan and subscriber to the Long Way Round and Long Way Down  programs with Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor where they went around the world in their motorbikes and I was pleased to discover they had a website called Big Earth, it's like a facebook for travelers.  You can map out your trips on it, create a profile and rate places and rate airlines and all kinds of stuff.  I just started a profile, but need a few hours to work on it.  Anyway, it's on our links over on the left... so check it out!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where is "Safe?"

My two year old?  Wakes up to cereal and Barney, and a hula skirt where she dances to Lilo and Stitch on a portable DVD Player.   She has fed the seals at Sea World, and the closest she gets to being near a goat is at the petting zoo.  I am afraid of tetanus, e-coli, stress about 5-point harnesses on car seats, make sure there are plastic covers on all electrical outlets in our house, worry about her banging her head on something sharp, not getting enough nap time, getting to bed on time and stress about brushing her teeth twice a day.  

A few months ago I was talking to a travel client about her daughter.  Her daughter is about 5 months older than Myla, and so we instantly had a connection.  She was inquiring if it was possible to send her daughter to the Philippines with her mother so she could live there temporarily.  I started my usual textbook answer of how I couldn't give any kind of immigration advice and started to name a few people I thought who could help her.  Truth, is, I wasn't really listening to this woman, even though we had a common interest and bond.  It's just a handy trick of the trade when you talk to as many people as I have.  My mind instantly goes blank, and I think of other things while I look her straight in the eye and she really, truly, believes I am listening.  We are both mothers to two year old girls, and in our early 30's.  She went on to volunteer more information as to why she wanted to send her two year old daughter to the Philippines to live with her mother.  

"He doesn't have a job, and he gets frustrated sometimes..." she began.

Now, I'm listening.

"He cut her hair the other day... to punish her for being bad..."  

At this point, she is starting to cry.  

We got her daughter an open ended ticket, and her mom (grandma) a round trip one as well.  This little girl, just a few months older than my own little girl lives in a farm about 40 miles east of Manila, Phillipines.  She collects eggs from their chickens and can feed a handful of poultry and knows where to take the goat when he needs to graze.  She will be in the Philippines until her mother can figure out how to get rid of her husband, and they send me emails about her progress, and she is growing fast and strong.  Keep in mind this baby is 2 years old. 
 
Don't get me wrong, this doesn't sound like a bad way to live at all.  In fact, it sounds great. And fulfilling. and uncomplicated.   This client is just recently asking for a ticket so she can move back to the Philippines with her daughter.  Away from the abuse and the complications of America.  

This leads me to wonder, can't I take both aspects of living somewhere else and living here and make it wonderful?  Downside of living here as opposed to a foreign land... insurance companies.  Automated messages, robots who determine the outcome of your healthcare.  The need for money all the time, HUMONGOUS portion size and consumerist society.  Just the need to have more and more and more is so stifling.  The upside of living here?  Most diseases and nutrition problems are abolished with immunizations and proper sanitation in the city. People know that proper hand washing is what kills germs.   I don't have to take a two day trip to get my daughters or husband to a hospital.  If I want a certain kind of cheese from anywhere in the world I can more than likely get it almost immediately.  I have the freedom to go places if I like.  

Even though there is a higher risk of bad healthcare in third world countries, and basic societal functions are unheard of in most of them, this two year old girl who moved to the Philippines is still safer cleaning up after a goat, not washing her hands and then eating, than she was in her own little apartment alone with her stressed out, abusive father.  

There's something wrong with that.




Sunday, April 19, 2009

I LOVE IT! TRAVEL STUFF!!!!

Ummmm, I think I'm a little biased but, if you need ANYTHING related to travel gear... I always, always recommend Le Travel Store!  They have an online store and a store in Downtown San Diego.  The helpy-helpertons also can walk you through anything you might need on your next trip, big or small.  Honestly, I am a big travel gear buff and there is no other store like this.  The owners are world travelers and their stuff focuses on independent, budget travel.  I mostly buy their Eagle Creek Gear, but the downside to this is that the stuff is indestructible, so you only need to buy a new backpack or piece of luggage only if you get sick of the color or something!  Anyway, if you are in the market for new stuff, or even just want to buy something for the heck of it, check them out first!  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Couple of Goals for the End of This Month

Our goal is to finish all the query letters by the end of this month.  Query letters for the travel guide and for the travelogue.  There is definitely a need for travel with infants information.  From availability of baby supplies, tips on flying, tips for occupying a toddler, what to pack, travel safety and so on.  
Also, queries for our travel narrative will also be done by the end of the month, since it takes months for queries to be answered.  Anyway, everyone cross your fingers and pray that the right person gets our letters and catches wind at the right time and place.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jar Method

Wanna know how you can make save an average of 500-1000 a year to pay for your trip?  Get a big container.  We are using a five gallon water cooler container.  Put change in it.  Not just the loose change in your pocket... you have to also change your spending habits.  Just a little.

First:  Start paying for things solely in cash.  Get cash out of your bank's ATM's.  This might require some timing on your part.  
Second:  Don't spend your change.  For instance:  you buy a coffee that costs $1.85.  Pay with 2.00, and not exact change.  You will get .15 cents back.  Put that in your pocket or wallet.  You should never touch coins to pay with again unless you are putting it in the jar.  My husband has a hard time with this.  But he has gotten the hang of it.  
Any money that is in coin form, or loose money you know you will end up wasting throw it in the jar.
Here is how ours is progressing: 
Our average week using this method between Andy and I is 13.22 USD.   This is the change saved from trips to the market, gas, Starbucks, lunch etc.  
52.88 a month
634.56 a year.

We have really gotten into it and put any money saved from no impulse buying, or for every time we made a greeting card instead of buying one.  Once in awhile, if there is a little extra ones for change... I throw it in.  You can do it any way you you feel easiest.  At the end, we are having a coin rolling party.  Dont use those coinstar things only because they charge you 9 cents to the dollar. 



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where We Are...

Logistically  

We have a few things sort of hammered out.  We are at the planning stages right now where everything is reconnaissance.  We are asking around, reading, emailing, talking to various families who have done RTW trips.  There are quite a few out there.  I have my sponsor list almost done and pretty soon will be executing the emails, inquiries, and phone calls.  I am at the hunting and gathering stage and I only have some simple ingredients.  
The trip itself has a few kinks in it we have to figure out and we should have the itinerary finished in a few months.  There are a lot of things to factor- transportation, availability of routes, roads etc.  And this will be a very rough, rough itinerary because we won't really know what it will be like in 2011.  A week before each change we will have to confirm everything.  For instance, there is only one ferry from Tunisia to Sicily, and it only leaves weekly, which I didn't know.
Financially, I am not too worried about this.  Luckily, our every day expenses are simple.  (there will be an entire post on budget coming up).  We are going to be very dependent on saving literally nickels and dimes, fundraising, and sponsors.  Also, I start my quest for the publishing aspect of it soon.  We have a very simple life, with one small car, and home made lunches.  I think also, we are at the point in our life where we don't possibly need anything else. This is through the generosity of our parents.  We make enough money to sustain ourselves with very little savings, but I always think something as common as money should never get in the way of your life.    
Theoretically:
We are at the part where we are still dreaming up this trip, and it isn't quite real to me.  The thought of it is real to me.  The thought of being with my kids and my husband for 4 months sounds like a dream.  To be able to share these sole, precious moments of their life, together as a family makes me want to work harder than ever to get to this goal.  I am already a busy person, but having this as a goal has really changed my step in terms of work and the everyday grind.  Trips always do this to me.  I feel like when stuff gets hard, I have this to look forward to.  Not to say, I don't enjoy my family when there isn't a trip planned, I just feel in my total element when I have a trip planned somewhere.   Overall I think travel is good for you.  So other people should do it too.  
I spent my college years starting things, finishing some, and then starting other things and not finishing those.  I traveled in between those, and the only regret I have is that I wasted my time spending it in the classroom.  Don't get me wrong, I understand the value of education, and that alone is a journey in itself.  But I also understand the value of life, and precious, precious time.  I can always go back to school.  I can always go work somewhere and make money, but I will never have Myla be 3 and Emily be 2 ever again.  

Anyway, enough of this sap.  I thought I would close today's post with my favorite travel quote...

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. 
- St. Augustine