Quebec City: a Babymoon With Parisian Charm Without the Cross-Atlantic Haul

Many women dream of taking a babymoon to Paris. But a transatlantic flight and a high price tag aren’t always ideal. Enter Quebec City.

Many women dream of taking a babymoon to Paris. Feasting on pastries at a small café. Taking a sunset stroll along the River Seine. Savoring the last drop of culture before the late night feedings and endless diaper changes begin.
The thought of sitting on a plane for eight hours, flying across a body of water with no place to make an emergency landing often knocks the City of Lights off the trip list.
Enter Quebec City, Canada – A babymoon destination with all the flavor of Paris but no anxiety or swollen legs.
Quebec City is a short flight from the East Coast and Midwest. United Airlines and Air Canada offer direct, two-and-a-half hour flights from Chicago, Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia. Many connecting flights are available through international gateways such as Toronto and Montreal. Once you arrive, a taxi cab can whisk you to the historic downtown in less than 30 minutes.
A 240-year-old agreement between Britain and France helped preserve French language and culture in the now-Canadian province of Quebec. From its winding cobblestone streets to its elaborate cathedrals, Quebec City, the provincial capital, bursts with European charm.
Cafés bustle with French-speaking wait staffs. Quaint hotels provide a romantic ambiance. The sweet of smell of crepes permeates the street. It’s no surprise that Old Quebec City is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
There are no shortages of hop-on, hop-off buses to take you all around the city. Without having to walk, moms-to-be can take in the Place Royale, the Plains of Abraham, and all the other historic sites Quebec City has to offer. With no fixed schedule, you can make your way around town as slow as you want.
Pregnant ladies can also take in the sites from the water. Several companies offer guided sightseeing cruises up and down the St. Lawrence River. The best part? A complimentary brunch or dinner buffet is often included.
What you can’t drink in wine, Quebec City makes up for in food. From high-end bistros to hole-in-the-wall cafés, Quebec’s cuisine is an expecting mother’s delight. The insatiable pregnant appetite will not be disappointed. Sweet and savory crepes. Fresh seafood. Deep dish meat pies. You can even find a simple grilled cheese sandwich made with shredded gruyere and cherry chutney.
If the baby is craving something on the not-so-healthy side, many restaurants serve poutine, Quebec’s signature dish made with French fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy. For dessert, you can treat the baby to Pouding Chomeur, or “Poor Man’s Pudding.” It’s a heavenly soft yellow cake, served warm, doused in maple syrup.
You can also take a trip out of the city. A popular day-trip offers two key amenities for pregnant women: a bus ride and chocolate. Several tour companies operate four-hour tours along the charming Beaupre Coast. Stops typically include the breathtaking Montmorency Waterfall, the legendary Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, and the historic Albert Gilles Copper Art Museum.
Minimal walking is required, and to a pregnant lady’s delight, many tours stop at the Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orléans, where you can sample Belgian chocolates, and at the Chez Marie bread oven, which is famous for its homemade bread with maple butter.
Perhaps the best reason why Quebec City is a top babymoon destination: Its must-see list isn’t overwhelming. If you’re there for a few days, there’s no reason you can’t justify a late afternoon nap.

Kids Eating Food With Spices? Yes, It's Possible!

My nine-year old daughter Sabrina thinks McDonalds is gross. She won’t eat boxed cookies but likes snickerdoodles dusted with Vietnamese cinnamon. She doesn’t like regular old mashed potatoes but does love when I add in wasabi and mustard. She scoffs at fluffy supermarket bread suffocating in plastic yet loves the jalapeño-cheddar loaf from an old-school bakery in our neighborhood. She loathes the supermarket birthday cakes served at kids’ parties but begs me to make cardamom cake.

I love that she loves spices as much as I do.

Sabrina enjoys blending flour with baking soda, salt, and spices for the cakes we make together. She adds spices to the homemade tomato sauce we make for pizza, enjoying blending oregano, basil, and the Italian salt we bought in London. She loves Sriracha, cardamom, harissa, chipotle pepper flakes, ancho chilies, and chai tea made with tea leaves, fresh ginger, and spices.

What’s made her like spices? I’m not sure exactly, but more than likely it’s because I’ve brought her into the kitchen with me – and to the farmer’s markets, spice stores, tea shops, and other specialty stores that populate New York City.

While some kids might at first feel intimidated by spices, they might like the idea of exploring with you. If you’re having trouble inspiring your kids to try something new, especially spices, then by all means start with taking them shopping with you, perhaps to a market you don’t usually frequent. They might reach for a certain spice solely because of its appearance, but I believe that cooking is a visual process at first. If your child likes how a spice looks, she just might like how it tastes or at least be more apt to try it. Plus, she might become a more adventurous eater, and even be interested in the world behind the spices.

Have your child pick out vegetables at the farmer’s market to pair with some spices. Choose noodles and a few bundles of unique greens in an Asian market to make a spice-filled noodle soup or stir fry. Peruse the aisles of an Indian spice market and take home something new. Then, most importantly, invite him to cook with you. Pull up a stool, hand him a whisk, a spatula, or a large wooden spoon (no sharp knives until he’s older).

While it’s true that some children won’t try new things, others might…especially if you’ve included them in the entire dinner-making process.

Here are five spices to get you going:


As I mentioned above, the only cake my daughter will eat is a cardamom pound cake. There is a recipe for coffee-cardamom pound cake in my cookbook, but you can omit the coffee while still adding in the cardamom. You can add a small amount at first to get them acclimated.

You can also make snickerdoodles and, instead of rolling them in the classic combination of cinnamon and sugar, replace the cinnamon with cardamom. Trust me, you’ll be taking these to the next school bake sale.

Chinese 5-Spice

Another dish to make for some spice-filled inspiration is roasted chicken, a pleasant canvas for many spices and flavors. In The NYC Kitchen I’ve covered the chicken with a spice well-known in Asian cuisine: Chinese 5-spice, a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. If they’re just not into the Chinese 5-spice, you can remove the skin for them.

Herbes de Provence

This savory blend comprised of a variety of French herbs (it can differ from blend to blend), including marjoram, savory, thyme, basil, lavender, parsley, oregano, tarragon, and bay powder with the rosemary and fennel. This blend is a more mild way to introduce your kids to spices and herbs. It’s less robust that the Chinese 5-Spice or Smoked Paprika. Add some to roasted chicken, sprinkle onto vegetables before roasting (carrots, potatoes, or zucchini, for example), or dust some onto salmon before baking.

Smoked Paprika

One night I declared, “We having breakfast for dinner.”

Little did my daughter know it would be a tangy, spicy, egg-y Mediterranean dish made with smoked paprika and sprinkled with fresh herbs, but she was game. I picked up a loaf of ciabatta and, instead of dipping it into the shakshouka as many do when eating this dish for brunch, Sabrina made a sandwich out of it and smiled at how much she liked it.

I’d like to inspire other parents to try this. Shakshouka is one of those versatile dishes that you can mix and match according to your taste buds. Add some sweet Italian sausage, omit the smoked paprika if it’s not to your taste, and instead add fresh basil, making it more Italian. Or add chorizo and some red peppers – with some beans, perhaps – to give it more zip and heft. Shakshouka is a humble dish to inspire your taste buds, so experiment and see what you and your children like.


This Middle Eastern spice blend is a generally mix of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac (another spice I recommend trying). It’s most well-known for serving on baked pita bread and sprinkled on top of dips (like a yogurt-based dip). I also love adding a few tablespoons to a vegetable soup, tossing with olive oil in a salad comprised of Mediterranean ingredients, and spreading some on top of roasted fish. I think you’ll love its versatility. It’s also mild enough that kids will love it, too.

Instead of just making your kids dinner, invite them in to the kitchen to help out. They might like mixing, tasting, blending (Sabrina loves using the old fashioned mortar and pestle to crush spices), and ultimately tasting what they’ve helped you make. There be some extra cleaning involved, but it’ll be worth it. Picking out spices and adding them to your recipes will help your child feel good about food and what she’s eating – and make her more apt to try new spices.

This Holiday Season, I’m Breaking Tradition

I never want to confine my family to tradition. I want my children to experience it, of course, but I also want to mix it up.

Tradition is and always will be important. But what happens when tradition starts to control your holidays in an unhealthy way?
I will never forget this story, once told to me by a person with much more wisdom than I.
Every Christmas Eve, her mother-in-law would come to the house and enjoy a festive dinner. Once they tucked the kids in tight, they would do something (in my opinion) absolutely insane.
They would put up the Christmas tree, fit with lights and ornaments. While most of us have been enjoying our Christmas tree for a month, they save it all for just one night. The woman was quick to tell me that this was her mother-in-law’s tradition that became engrained into their family.
The children would wake on Christmas morning to find that Santa had been rather busy, and that Mommy and Daddy look rather exhausted. It was the true Christmas miracle of miracles.
“WOW!” the children would shout.
“Where’s the whiskey?” their mom would mumble behind sleepy eyes.
Looking back now, the woman wishes she was brave enough to say, “What a great tradition you had with your family, but no, thank you.” She never did that, so as long as her mother-in-law was alive, they were stuck.
Many of us have experienced, and still do experience, the traditional holiday festivities. On Thanksgiving, we wear pretty fall dresses and eat at 3 p.m. at Grandma’s house. We enjoy turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, casseroles, and top it all off with warm gooey pies. Sounds nice, right?
Now, look in the corner. There you see the kids aimlessly scrolling on their phones, trying to make conversation with Great Grandma, and giving their cousins wet willies.
What if one year – not every year, but every few years – you broke tradition? What if (hear me out) you took a vacation with just your immediate family for Thanksgiving? You and your husband pack up your kids and head to the coast. Instead of turkey, you eat lobster. Instead of watching football, you play frisbee on the beach. Instead of dressing up, you stay in pajamas all day long.
After a vacation like that, you may feel rested and relaxed, which is the point of the holiday season, right?
I never want to confine my family to tradition. I want my children to experience it, of course, but I also want to surprise them with fun outings and activities. Instead of baking sugar cookies on Christmas Eve, go to the movies. Instead of Santa popping down your chimney, he visits you at a ski resort. Instead of ham or roast beef, grill out hamburgers and hot dogs.
You will not only be setting your kids up for fun, but you might also get a break and actually enjoy the holidays for once. My cousin took her kids to Disney World one Christmas. Now that’s cool.
When I was a kid, I was in the car all day on Christmas. We visited all of the grandparents around the state of Georgia. We would open our presents and at 10 a.m. and have to leave. We never had any time to play with our gifts.
What if, one year, we didn’t drive all the way to Grandma’s? Wouldn’t it be amazing if they came to us for once, and we were able to stay in our pajamas?
I am so sad for the woman whose memories of Christmas with her children are laced with a chore she despised. I don’t want to do that to myself. I don’t want to do that to my children.
For Thanksgiving this year, we will travel to see family. Next year, we are going on vacation. One for tradition; one for fun.

How an Anxiety Mascot Can Help You Manage Panic

When you’re in the middle of your anxiety, you cannot think calmly and rationally about all that you know about a topic. You need to DARE.

I published my first piece on one year ago. The focus of that piece – and most pieces I’ve written over this past year – is how better research skills can make more capable, confident, and relaxed parents. I’ve written about why you shouldn’t panic about sending a baby to day care, why you shouldn’t be terrified of laundry pods, and why you can probably let your snoozing child stay in her (attended!) car seat.

I advocate doing strong and thorough research and making well-reasoned decisions based on that research, even if it acquires you a lot of internet trolls.

Except when it comes to driving.

I got rear-ended last spring. As accidents go, it was thoroughly unremarkable. Another driver reached for her cell phone and hit me. Thanks to good brakes, I didn’t hit the UPS truck in front of me. The other driver was uninsured, so the experience was expensive and frustrating, but I was thankful that no one was injured.

My son moved on months ago – really, mere minutes after the accident when the officers let him play with the siren – but I was terrified for the entire summer. When I’d get behind the wheel, even hours before then, my reptilian brain would take over and no amount of data on driving safety could convince me that either I or my child was safe. What if there’s heavy traffic and I can’t get over to the right side and I have to keep driving? What if we get hit again but this time I can’t stop fast enough? What if my son notices my panic and grows up as irrationally afraid of driving as I am? What if I get killed? What if he gets killed?

The what-ifs didn’t abate with driving, as every car coming up in my rear-view mirror was certainly about to hit me and every car turning into traffic was surely going to swerve into my son’s side of the car. Every time I’d gotten safely back to my garage, I would feel guilty for being so panicked by something that nobody else seemed to have trouble with.

With fall approaching, and along with it daily drives to preschool, I knew I needed a new approach. So instead of turning to the data on car safety or even the comparatively strong driving records of anxious drivers like me, I turned to psychology.

Anxious people are creative people

The most freeing concept in Barry McDonagh’s “DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks” is that anxious people are not weak or feeble people. We’re creative people. The same creativity that lets us dream up countless hours of ambitious craft projects also grants us a unique knack for imagining worst-case scenarios.

The key to being a less-panicked person, McDonagh asserts, is being as creative in response to your anxiety as you are in summoning it.

When you’re in the middle of your anxiety (whether it manifests in the form of a panic attack or not), you cannot think calmly and rationally about all that you know about a topic. You can’t calm yourself down with reason, because you didn’t reason yourself into the situation. You need a phrase that’s both easy to remember and apply mid-panic. You need to DARE.


The first step of the DARE strategy is the hardest. McDonagh asks readers to defuse their panic by answering each “what if” with “so what?”

What if there’s heavy traffic and I can’t get in the right lane? So what? I’ll merge over when I can and turn around at the next light.

What if we get rear-ended? So what? I can’t prevent what the driver behind me might do, but I can leave enough space in front of me so we don’t hit others. If we do get hit, well, maybe my son will get to play with the siren again, and I’ll have an excuse not to cook dinner.

Sometimes, my what-ifs seem too grim for flippant so-whats. I can joke about the chores I won’t have to finish or the facebook comments I’ll never have to read if I get injured in a car crash. I can’t joke about that happening to my son. However, I can ask myself if never leaving the house again is really living.


Once you’ve defused the situation, it’s time to allow. McDonagh argues that many of the strategies we use to cope with anxiety are designed to ignore or push away anxiety. For people who experience panic attacks, this strategy tends to backfire, as focusing on not having a panic attack only makes people more aware of the signs of an impending panic attack, which leads to panicking about panic.

McDonagh asserts that we can’t rid ourselves of anxiety, because anxiety is baked into the human condition. Our job is not to dismiss our anxiety. It’s to sit with it as more of a detached observer.

“Let this uninvited guest be welcome,” McDonagh advises. “Never get upset when anxiety shows up at your door. Smile and be the perfect host: invite it in, sit it down, and serve it tea.”

That invitation is a wonderful opportunity for anxious creatives. McDonagh encourages readers to visualize their anxiety:

If you’re a visual type, give the anxiety a mental image like a ridiculous cartoon character. Come up with a great nickname for it. Imagine it about a foot tall, telling you about all the terrible things that might happen. Give your new friend a comical squeaky voice like it has just inhaled a can of helium. It bursts through your front door no bigger than a small dog, squeaking profusely.

My anxiety mascot doesn’t have a name yet, but she’s a six-inch tall cartoonish mix between Cousin Itt and the McDonald’s fry kids. She wears black and white striped tights, a rotating collection of neon Chuck Taylors, has long purple hair in front of her eyes, and is prone to bursting into my office yelling “PANIC!!!!!”

McDonagh instructs us to be hospitable to our anxiety, to acknowledge it, and even invite it along with us. So now at 3:00 when I’m getting nervous about the preschool pickup run (and its proximity to the high school full of new and distracted drivers), I literally say, “Let’s go, Anxiety.” Then I picture my anxiety mascot hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Run toward

McDonagh’s third step is to run toward anxiety instead of away from it. The theory underlying this step is that the adrenaline produced by anxiety is not physiologically different from the adrenaline we experience when we’re excited. When we tell ourselves we’re excited by anxiety, then we will panic less about any physical sensations that accompany it. This advice may be especially helpful to those afraid of having panic attacks.

No amount of talking about being excited about driving is actually making me excited about driving. But I do find it helpful to be excited about what I’m driving toward: what my son is going to learn about trees, what I’m going to research about salmonella, and the gummy bear taste test we’re going to conduct after school.


The last step focuses on what to do after an anxiety-provoking event. When you engage, as McDonagh puts it, “you keep your anxious mind out of the way so that your nervous system can fully desensitize and relax back down.”

This step is relatively easy when you’re coming home with a car full of children. They’ll solve the engagement problem for you with homework help or requests for a ninth reading of “Captain Underpants.”

When I come home alone, I find it much harder to engage because the silence affords me an opportunity to think about all of the things that went wrong with the drive. I find it helps not to sit down. For 10 minutes, I run around clearing up from the morning, which helps me shake off my anxious feelings before sitting down with a clear head.

I don’t believe in the power of any single acronym to completely transform a life, but McDonagh’s book provides a great starting point for the creative among us who feel crippled by anxiety. Once you’ve created an anxiety mascot and invited it in, you’ll find it easier to try all sorts of things that you might not have been willing to do before – like clicking “submit” on a personal essay about your anxiety.

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Car Seat Safety: We’re All Doing It Wrong

A car seat study has been making the rounds, giving new parents one more thing to panic about. But it’s possible the panic is misdirected.

You’ll probably never in your life drive as carefully as you do when taking an infant home from the hospital. Suddenly, the car seat you meticulously researched and spent an hour installing seems less safe than it did before.
In this case, you’re probably right, because according to an observational study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2016, 95 percent of infants taken home in car seats are “Unsafe from the Start.”
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University investigated 291 mother-infant pairs as they were nearing discharge from newborn units. Child Passenger Safety technicians observed the caregivers as they installed the car seats and placed their newborns into them.
The technicians identified errors in almost 95 percent of the study population: 77 percent of caregivers made at least one installation error, such as improperly securing the car seat within the vehicle; 86 percent had at least one positioning error, such as not tightening the harness; 89 percent of the caregivers made at least one “critical error.”
This category of error, which the researchers based off the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration definitions, included positioning issues, like leaving the harness too loose (69 percent), using an incorrect harness slot (31 percent), or using a non-regulated product, like extra cushioning (21 percent). Critical misuses related to installation included car seats that could be moved more than one inch after installation (44 percent) or had an incorrect recline angle (41 percent).
The factor most associated with correct car seat use was working with a Child Passenger Safety technician before delivery. But even those caregivers had a serious error rate of 77 percent.
This study has been making the rounds on parenting websites, giving new parents one more thing to panic about. Although the results of the study suggest that better parent education is needed, here are three important questions to ask about car seat safety:

1 | If 95 percent of parents make car seat errors, are all our children unsafe?

The itemized list of issues caregivers commonly got wrong should alleviate some concern. For example, two of the errors – twisted harness belts and improperly positioned carseat carrier handles – are not likely to result in crash-related injury.
Even some of the misuses categorized as “serious” are not necessarily dangerous. For example, 35 percent of the participants left the harness retainer clip “too low.” Those harness clips, while frequently a source of social media shaming, are not meant to hold children. The clips are pre-crash positioning devices, designed to keep children’s shoulders in the right position before an accident occurs. It’s the harness buckles that keep kids in their seats.

2 | Given that these families were using car seats to take home their newborns, is it reasonable to assume that parents using car seats for the first time are more likely to make errors? Are experienced parents more likely to get it right?

According to this study, no. The researchers controlled for “parity” – that is, the number of pregnancies carried to term – and found that first-timers were slightly more likely to get it right than their more experienced counterparts. Women who had no previous births had a serious error rate of 89.6 percent. Women with two or more births had a serious error rate of 96.6 percent.
The sample size may be too small to draw any concrete conclusions about experience level and car seat misuse, but one explanation might be that the users with visible damage to their car seats or expired seats were among the experienced parents.
Parents preparing for a second (or third, or fourth…) child should pay close attention to car seat expiration dates and replace any car seat with any visible damage.

3 | Given that 77 percent of parents who seek help from trained professionals are still doing it wrong, are car seats too complicated to be used safely?

This study indicates that nearly all caregivers need better car seat instruction. But the results of the study should not in themselves be a cause for panic.
As it has been reported, the study seems to say that even most of parents with CPS training are doomed to misuse their car seats. But the study noticed a pattern in the CPS-trained parents. They were much more likely to make positioning errors than installation errors, suggesting that they had trouble applying the lessons they’d learned to their babies.
The study authors recommend better “postnatal collaboration,” so that parents – now with a live baby instead of a pretend one – get better practice with positioning. The reduction in error rate for caregivers with previous training suggests that Child Passenger Safety technicians embedded in hospitals could help increase safety.

If Moving Feels Like the End of the World, Help Your Kid Adjust With These Books

Moving to a new home can be a difficult experience for a child, especially if it means uprooting them from a familiar town or school.

Moving to a new home can be a difficult experience for a child, especially if it means uprooting them from a familiar town or school. Your decision may or may not be optional. Either way, processing the changes that are happening can be overwhelming for kids. Prepare your children by informing them early about a move and get them involved in the process, if possible. Give them plenty of information and encourage any questions. Books are also ideal before, during, and after the transition.

Moving can feel like the end of the world, but these books can help your child adjust to a new beginning:


Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story for Young Children Who Are Moving

by Teresa Martin and Whitney Martin

Big Ernie is moving, and boy does he feel sad. And angry. And anxious. All his emotions related to the move are vividly detailed in this book for young children. By understanding how Ernie feels, they can relate and connect as they navigate their own feelings during this time of change. The back section includes notes and tips for parents.


The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Those country bears are on the move again, but, this time, Mama, Papa, Sister, and Brother are moving away from the mountains and into a new tree house down a sunny dirt road. Read along with your child as this classic literary family say their heartfelt goodbyes to old friends and open their tree trunk door to new ones.


Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move

by Judith Viorst (Author) and Robin Preiss Glasser (Illustrator)

Alexander is back, and this day is much worse than terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. This day is the worst ever! His family is moving a thousand miles away from the only home he’s never known. But he’s not going. And he means it.

“Roaming the neighborhood, he takes a look at his ‘special places’ and bids good-bye to all his ‘special people,’ announcing that ‘I’m saying good-bye-but it won’t be my last.’ By story’s end, after he lets some reassuring promises from his parents sink in, Alexander softens his tone, conceding that he, too, is packing up his things, but for the final time,” says Publisher’s Weekly.


The Kid in the Red Jacket

by Barbara Park

If your child loved “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” than this middle-grade novel from bestselling author Barbara Park will hit the spot. “The Kid in the Red Jacket” chronicles Howard’s journey as his family moves away from his beloved home. How will he leave all his friends behind? And how will he ever make new ones? All the new kids act like he’s invisible, except his six-year-old neighbor, Molly Vera Thompson, who never stops talking. She’s the only one who wants to be his friend. When you have none, will you take anyone? Or will Howard stay alone?


Anastasia Again

by Lois Lowry

Twelve-year-old Anastasia is about to move from the city to the outskirts of town. The suburbs, as her family calls it. The thought of moving somewhere where all the houses look alike and people thrive on the latest and greatest has Anastasia questioning everything. How will she ever fit in? To make matters worse, a new and very annoying boy “like” likes her and she doesn’t like him at all. It’s not until she discovers a possible witch next door that things start looking up. Solving the mystery will take her mind off adjusting to a new home and a life with no friends.



by Raina Telgemeier

Catrina’s little sister, Maya, is sick, so her family moves to the coast of northern California. Although Catrina is not happy about leaving her friends and home, the cool, salty coastal air will help her sister’s cystic fibrosis.

When the family finally settles in, a neighbor tells the girls a secret: Bahía de la Luna is haunted by ghosts. Maya is determined to find one, but Catrina wants nothing to do with the quest. Then Maya gets sicker. Even though Catrina now finds herself at a new school with no friends and is petrified of the possibility of meeting an evil spirit, she must put aside her fears and sorrow to help her sister fulfill her dream of meeting a ghost!

“Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale,” says Kirkus Reviews.


The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Teens

by Sara Elizabeth Boehm

Moving is stressful for children, especially teens. For some, they’ve lived their entire lives in one home and attended the same school. Their friends are like family and a move can be particularly upsetting. Help them adjust by having them share and document their feelings in this one-of-a-kind journal for teens.

Which books about moving have helped your kids with the transition? Share in the comments!

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How to Get Gift-Givers on Board With Giving Experiences Over Things

Win people over to the experience-giving side by offering them the benefits of this approach, along with some easy ways for them to make the transition.

My husband and I tried early on to stem the massive flow of things arriving for our kids every birthday and Christmas. With four kids, large families on both sides, and two December birthdays, our house is overcome by mountains of trinkets, toys, and miscellaneous items, most of which are not used.
Everyone feels showering our children with things is an act of love, and it certainly can be. However, it’s also a sad reality that many of the material possessions they receive end up in a forgotten box, donated, or outgrown much sooner than anyone expects.
Still, we weren’t successful in convincing others to curb the gifts, maybe because we didn’t give them other options. When my mom took it upon herself to give our family a yearly pass to a local museum last year for Christmas, we realized that experiences were an obvious replacement for objects.
San Francisco State University conducted research that confirms experiences make people happier than things. The experiences don’t have to be extravagant, luxury vacations. They can simply be meaningful times that create lasting memories.
Memories have been made with the museum membership we received. We’ve visited the museum regularly this year, taking my mom with us on one occasion so she could see how much her gift meant to us. The kids talk about the benefits of this gift all the time, knowing we couldn’t pay for our family of six to attend so often any other way. Plus, every time we visit, my mom receives a picture of the kids learning robotics or digging for fake dinosaur bones in a sand area. It’s the thank you card that never stops coming.
The key to winning people over to the experience-giving side is offering them the benefits of this approach, along with some easy ways for them to make the transition.

Give time

What it means to give of ourselves comes truly into focus when we think of giving our time. It’s a cherished commodity, and encouraging our loved ones to spend time with our children helps them all create memories they can carry with them for life.
For family members who feel it’s impersonal or underwhelming for a child to simply receive a ticket to a ballet or to the aquarium, tell them to buy a second ticket and go with the child. Yes, that ups the expense, but just tell them to go with cheaper tickets – the experience of being with the gift giver will likely mean more to a child than having the more expensive option.
There’s also the option of spreading the time gift out over the course of the year. Offering children special one-on-one experiences like a meal at a restaurant or visit a local attraction sets aside time for the relationships with their extended family members to flourish.
You can seed the desire for experiences over things and gifts of time as early as setting up your baby registry. Think registering for donations to charities of your choosing, babysitting coupons, and home-cooked meal requests.

Go long term

There are plenty of people who opt for material items because they assume they will last longer than experiences. While this is true in some cases, it’s not in others, but still many well-meaning family members can’t get past the hurdle of offering an experience that only lasts for a couple of hours over something the kids can hold.
Recommend these individuals give long-term experiences, such as swim lessons, music lessons, or, like my mom offered, museum memberships. The giver can choose how long they want to pay for these experiences, obtain a gift certificate, and give a child a chance to go to class after class to develop a skill or take joy in a passion. Plus, those skills and learning experiences can have lasting impact on a child.

Buy the small, meaningful item

Everyone has that friend or family member who absolutely must put an actual item in each child’s hands on Christmas morning. They live for the wrapping paper and bows, and every part of them rebels against the idea of not having something material waiting for a child.
These die-hards are usually the last to even think of offering experiences, but there may be a way to turn them. Encourage them to buy a small item that relates to the bigger experience. A person who gifts a child swim lessons can throw in a nice pair of goggles. The child gifted with art camp can receive paint brushes. This way the items are sure to be cherished and used because they are relevant to the bigger experience being offered.

The harder, more rewarding path

Giving intentionally takes effort, and that’s what experience giving often is. Getting to know a child and learning what they are interested in doing with their time is an intimate process that strengthens the relationship. Investing the time to be a part of the experience for the recipient asks even more of us – and this is what makes the gift of experience all the more meaningful.
Keep the experience option in mind next time you have a loved one’s birthday or special occasion coming up. Clothing and toys all gather dust and get boxed up – memories last a lifetime.

How to Successfully Bring Your Baby Along on a Work Trip

If you’re facing a trip away from your infant that you don’t feel good about, think about whether you might be able to bring her along.

A few months ago, I went on my first work trip since having my baby. As I packed my bags in preparation for heading to the airport, I ran through a mental checklist: computer, work clothes, presentation materials, onesies, diapers, and pacifiers. That’s right, my baby was coming along.
When I returned to work, my boy was 14 weeks old, and I was already dreading the trips I’d scheduled before his birth. While I knew that he would be perfectly fine if I left him at home and that he was too young to really miss me, the thought of not snuggling up next to him at night made me anxious.
I’m also a breastfeed mom, so being away from my little guy for 48 hours would mean somewhere around 20 sucky (pun intended) pumping sessions in a row.
After spending a few weeks stressing about being away from my baby, I decided to make the case for bringing him along. Luckily, my supervisor gave me the okay. Each night, as I cuddled up to his warmth, I knew I made the right decision.
If you’re facing a trip away from your infant that you don’t feel good about, think about whether you might be able to bring her along. Check out the tips below to find success when adding a tiny tag-along to your itinerary:

Know your schedule

It’s important to consider what your schedule will look like while you’re working from afar. Often, when employees travel, they maintain a regular eight-hour day. Sometimes, though, travel lends itself to sun-up to sundown scheduling. If you’re going to be engaged in all-day activities that don’t mesh well with having baby along, it might be easier to leave him at home. If, however, you’re going to be working a pretty regular schedule and any after working-hours events will be baby friendly, consider adding your tot to your ticket.

Think about child care

Just because you’re brining your baby along doesn’t mean they’ll be able to be with you the whole time. Just as someone else likely provides care for your child when you work local, you’ll need some assistance when you’re out of town as well. Most city’s have travel nanny agencies that guarantee a safe, reliable nanny for the times you’re engaged with your work.

Have a plan when you make your ask

At most organizations, it’s not standard to bring babies along on travel. If your request will be a first, make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need and how you’ll handle any challenges before you make your proposal to your supervisor. Generally, as long as you can ensure your boss that your baby’s presence won’t negatively impact your performance, they’ll be agreeable to your request.

Inform those who need to know

While it’s obviously a good idea to get the green light from your supervisor, you’re not obligated to tell anyone about your child’s presence who won’t be impacted. Neither your client nor your co-workers need to know if you worry that it might impact their perception of your professionalism.

Do the math

Before you bring your baby on your next trip, do the math to make sure their presence won’t cause a financial burden that you’re not prepared for. While babies under two can typically fly free as long as they’re in your lap, you’ll likely find yourself paying out-of-pocket for things like childcare or an upgraded ticket. Consider these costs honestly before making a decision.

Enjoy your cuddles

While work trips are often exhausting, for new parents they can sometimes serve as a break from middle-of-the-night diaper changes and early morning feedings. If you’re choosing to mix business and baby, you’re likely doing so with the knowledge that it will be harder, at least in some ways, than leaving them at home.
You’re also likely doing so because you know just how magical their cuddles are after a long day’s work. Enjoy those cuddles. You’ve earned them!

Research Says: Leave the Kids, Take the Trip

Taking a trip without your kids may feel like you’re trying to escape, and that’s okay. Escape. Your relationship thirsts for it.

Thinking of leaving the kids to take a trip with your partner, but anxiety has you second-guessing?
Run over that stop sign in your brain, call the in-laws to babysit, and go.
According to current research conducted by Travelocity, 56 percent of couples claim that travel is vital in keeping that “spark” flickering in their relationship. However, only 31 percent of couples surveyed have been on a couples-only getaway.
Parenting often feels like you’re stuck in the dugout, you and your partner never getting a chance at bat. In this monotonous phase in a relationship, the study reported that couples only spend about six hours a week together marked as “couple time.” This then leads to only seven minutes per day of “romantic time.”
Being teammates in this parenting game is vital, but we often forget to look at each other the way we used to. The sex, if it’s there at all, is often scheduled, rarely spontaneous. Between picking up the kids, homework, meal-prep, and emptying the dishwasher, finding time – real time – with your partner is tough. Taking a trip may feel like you’re trying to escape, and that’s okay.
Escape. Your relationship thirsts for it.
My husband and I found ourselves in a similar rut. It was nothing drastic, but working out and grad studies always took precedence over date nights. We knew our marriage needed a drink of adventure.
So, we packed up our bags, phoned the grandparents, and headed to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to hike, explore, and eat and drink with the locals. We wanted to hike Hogback Mountain to view the Caribbean-blue waters of Lake Superior.
We ended up getting lost and heading 90 minutes in the wrong direction on the North Country Trail. Mosquitos swarmed us, and there were times when we wanted to quit. But we didn’t. We used the teamwork that we’ve exercised so often in parenthood and challenged one another to make it to the top of that mountain – for our marriage. It was the “spark” that our relationship needed.
Research conducted by the U.S. Travel Association claims that 77 percent of couples who travel together reported having a vibrant sex life. “Couples who take time to vacation alone together at least once each year report happier, healthier relationships overall compared to those who do not travel as couples,” says Pam Loeb, principal of Edge Research. These trips don’t have to include a pricey plane ticket. See what your own state has to offer and explore.
I’m not so sure how comfortable I feel about reporting on sex. (I have three brothers who still think the stork delivered our babies to the doorstep.) But this trip did increase our spontaneity, which, as we know, can help in the bedroom.
One rainy afternoon, we sauntered into a local bar, did shots with the locals, danced on a floor scatterd with peanut shells, and got a ride home with the bartender by 5 p.m. We would never have thought to be so liberated with our kids in tow, or even in our own town. In other words, it wasn’t just a vacation without the kids. It was a vacation for us.
Having the ability to be this free felt like a gift – one I will look forward to when I’ve grown old and have wrinkles all over my body.
We’re more than just our kids. Get out of that dugout and take your partner with you. Traveling will add not only to your sex life, but it will strengthen your teamwork, your bond, and your communication as well. It’ll remind you that life can be lighthearted again if you let it.

Tried and Tested Tips for Air Travel With Young Kids

If you’re undertaking a flight with young kids, some of these tried and true tactics honed over 20,000 miles of travel can help.

By the time the summer is done, my family and I will have flown close to 20,000 miles.
With our extended family in India, flying across the world has always been part of our summer routine. My seven-year-old munchkin got her first passport when she was barely a month old and flew internationally before she could say her first word.
passport stamps
That didn’t mean air travel came easy. I remember, for instance, the 8,000-mile odyssey we undertook when my son was under two years old, my daughter barely three months old, and my sanity under serious attack. With a double stroller, an arsenal of pacifiers, and enough Goldfish crackers to feed a small army, I thought I had it covered. Except I didn’t account for the fact that my three-month-old would scream bloody murder through every takeoff and descent. I didn’t account for the fact that pushing a double stroller through the security scanner was like trying to fit into your prom dress after you’ve had a baby or two. I didn’t account for the fact that a very rude flight attendant would order me to stop nursing my baby during takeoff. I didn’t account for the fact that everything that could go south would go south. And I’m not talking about the direction the plane was headed.
Thankfully, it’s been a few years since that nightmare plane ride that spanned 24 hours and added a year’s worth of gray hair. We’ve learned some stuff along the way about air travel with babies and toddlers.

Ask questions

Be that annoying customer who calls up the airline with a bunch of queries. It’s worth it. Airline policies change often, so it’s best to speak with an agent and figure out the details of traveling with small children. This may seem obvious, but get your seats assigned. When we traveled internationally, we always booked the bulkhead seats where the airline’s baby bassinet could be latched. Find out about any documentation that may be required, especially in the case of international travel. You may be surprised to learn that babies need visas in some countries. Order the kid’s meal for your toddler, if that’s an option. Even if they balk at the yogurt-covered raisins, you’ll want to treat yourself after a couple of cabin-bound hours.
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Parent Co. partnered with Kickee Pants because we believe babies are the beginning of your life’s most exciting adventure.

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Carry extras of everything

Here’s the thing: You can buy yourself a diamond bracelet at the airport but you’ll be hard pressed to find diapers or formula at any terminal the world over. Yup, I learned that the hard way. When I had a nursing emergency during one flight, I was that mom who went to the store that sold tabloids and Eclipse gum to ask if they stocked formula. Not fun, believe me. Pack extra pacifiers with the attachment or they – all six of them – will roll under the seat in front of you. Yes, that little fact also comes courtesy of past experience. Carry extra clothes for the kids and yourself. Because, you know, children.
three passport stamps

Say yes to sippy cups

Most airport security will allow for milk or juice, despite the “no liquids under 3 ounces rule,” but even empty sippy cups are a lifesaver. When you’re in turbulence with a minuscule tray table serving, sippy cups come in handy. Yes, there’ll still be spills. But there won’t be as many.

Carry a goody bag

I always made a pit stop at the Dollar Store before every trip. Kids love opening new toys and treats – and they’re not too discerning about which store it comes from. If you happen to lose a trinket or two, no big deal. Remember to pack a goody bag of surprises for the flight back, too.

Suspend rules for screen time

Yeah, I know how much screen time the AAP allows for toddlers. But unless they’re willing to get on board that plane and entertain yours, I say that you suspend screen time rules for plane rides. If a tablet is going to keep them entertained – and quiet – then so be it.

passport stamp from Australia Nix the backpacks

I know you really want that picture of your toddler trotting through the terminal with that cutesy backpack you bought from Pottery Barn. From experience I know that Dada is going to be the one toting the pink owl bag – and possibly a child or two – in a couple of hours.

Dial up the safety precautions

Airports are busy and crowded. If you can keep your child in a stroller, then that’s your best bet. If not, divide and conquer between dad and mom. Put the kids in a bright-colored clothes. If you choose to be that parent with a child on a (backpack) leash, ignore the stares and run with your plan. I always attached my contact information to my kids’ clothes, just in case of an emergency. I’d rather take the flak for being a helicopter parent than losing a child – even temporarily – at a busy terminal.
Traveling with babies doesn’t have to be a nightmare. There’s light at the end of the tunnel – my little people can now figure out their in-flight entertainment and order their own mimosas. Okay, orange juice. The mimosas are for their mommy. Even after 10 years of air travel with her progeny, she still needs them.
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Parent Co. partnered with Kickee Pants because we believe babies are the beginning of your life’s most exciting adventure.