Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ben's Cookies in London, a Sweet Reminder of Home

I truly enjoyed and appreciated the six days I spent in England in January with my husband, sans kids. But it was the longest I'd ever been away from them, and toward the end of the trip, just the mention of them brought tears to my eyes.

I think beyond just the amount of time apart, this had more to do with the fact that we spent the entire week in England working on plans to uproot their lives. I kept looking around our soon-to-be-home, wondering if they'd like that playground or behave in this restaurant. Would they make friends easily? Adjust to the change in dialect? Be excited about the schools we were touring?  Feel comfortable in this particular house?

So while you might ordinarily spend a trip away from your kids focused on relaxation, we spent our week obsessing about them and their well being.

On our last evening, we had a chance to pause from all the practical matters of executing an international move with young kids, and instead got to stroll London at night.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday, Big Arrow!

I really can't believe I'm writing Big Arrow's 4th birthday post. This birthday is hitting me harder than most. Perhaps its because he'll start school full-time this fall, and no longer be by my side all day. Or because we're about to rock his world by moving to England. But 4 just seems so grown up, so far removed from the baby and toddler years. Sigh.

Maybe it's not the best of days to be writing about my love for him. Afterall, here are just a few reasons he threw epic tantrums this week:
  • His pizza was too soft.
  • His slinky was not making the right swishing sound.
  • He wanted to draw all the characters from a tv show on a piece of paper and they wouldn't fit.
  • I gave his brother the grape vitamin instead of a red one.
  • I stopped him from slamming his finger in the car door. "BUT. I. WANTED. TO. HURT. MY. FINGER!!!" he screamed for all the neighborhood to hear.
Double sigh.

But aside from these moments of high stress and frustration, these past four years really have been delightful. He's taught me so much about appreciating small moments, simple memories, and taking time to laugh.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Children's Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis

One of the greatest challenges of traveling with a child Little Arrow's age (16 months) is that they have a never-ending need to move. Even more so when a toddler is cursed with blessed by a rambunctious personality like he has.

During our 8-hour drive to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri last week, I knew I needed to plan the a good break point for him to really get his fill of exploration on his own two feet (and out of his car seat). Fortunately, recommendations for the Children's Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis popped up from two of my go-to family travel blogs, The Mother of All Trips and Visit Flyover Country.

My husband was convinced I merely wanted to visit one more botanical garden in my quest to see them all. Always a naysayer, that guy!

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to explore much of the gardens outside of the children's area. But I can still attest that this is an ideal outing with two little ones. We parked the stroller at the entrance to the children's garden (which is completely gated off from the rest of the park), and let the boys loose for several hours.

The Children's Garden is a pretty amazing play area, coming from a mom who knows her way around a playground or two.

I loved how this tree house was tucked away for kids to climb up to.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Advantages of All Inclusive Family Holiday Deals

The following post was supplied by the Direct Holidays travel website. I'm still learning all about the concept of European "holidays!"

It’s no wonder more and more people are choosing to stay within the UK for their summer vacation,
nowadays. With the cost of some holidays through the roof, it can be a little frustrating when you
have to be frugal. It’s easy to get carried away when considering a summer holiday, with activities
and meals and full itineraries. If you want to have the opportunity of escaping home turf this year, be
sensible and take a look at the various holiday deals online.

You may be surprised at what you can afford, especially when you consider what all inclusive holiday deals actually entail. Sure, the initial outlay may be more than what you’d usually spend, but if you break down what’s included, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much such a vacation saves you.

Think about it – when you do manage to go abroad for your holidays, it’s not just the cost of a flight and accommodation that hits you. Whether you’re in a half board hotel or self catering apartments, you still have to find the money to feed yourselves. That ice cream your daughter would love? The can of pop you would like to quench your thirst? It all adds up and your spending money will be gone in no time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hiking at Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge

In preparation for our move to England, we haven't been doing much exploring or traveling (aside from our trip to Missouri earlier this week... I can't wait to share more about that!). There just seems to be so many tasks that need to be done around here, and we're saving as much of my husband's vacation time as we can for exploring Europe.

But a few weeks ago, I was desperate for a day out. I wanted to be reminded of how fun my kids are, away from battles over the same toy, 4 a.m. wakeups, and food being flung from high chairs. In other words, we needed a break from the day-to-day routine.

It was a sunny and unseasonably warm Saturday in early March. The hiking trail at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Seymour, Indiana was calling out to us.

It's one of our favorite places. As is usually the case there, we didn't see another soul until the volunteer at the nature center greeted us. Instead, we shared the trail with sunshine reflected on lazy steams of water.