Archive for the ‘
Travel ’ Category
Friday, June 8th, 2012
Photo courtesy of Smugglers' Notch Resort
Looking for something fun to do now that summer’s here? Hit the slopes! We’re not kidding. Winter resorts like Smugglers’ Notch near Jeffersonville, Vermont, are just as fun when the sun is shining and no one is skiing. Smuggs (as the locals call it) offers summer camps for kids ages 9-17 such as H2Awesome! Water Camp for your little fishies (turns out there are a lot of watering holes and beaches in the area) and Survival Camp, a four-day adventure for camping lovers to learn wilderness survival skills. Each day focuses on a new topic – including shelter, water, food, and fire. Smuggs also offers special activities and trips such as visits to ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, where kids can discover 70 live species and participate in more than 100 interactive experiences. For families with special needs kids, Smuggs even offers their Adaptive Program. For more information about these and other programs at Smugglers’ Notch, go to smuggs.com.
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Thursday, June 7th, 2012
It’s June and my thoughts are turning to…road trips! My little Brooklynites don’t spend a lot of time in cars like all of their suburban friends. Summer—when we start to drive around on weekends and do some big drives across several states—is always when we reevaluate what they’re sitting in.
Here are the current guidelines. Your baby needs to be in a car seat from birth, and that car seat should stay rear-facing as long as possible, ideally up to the second birthday. At American Baby we generally recommend you begin with an infant car seat, because 1) It’s shaped for a tiny person’s body and 2) It’s so convenient, because you can easily take it in and out of the car. The base stays in the back of your car, but the seat itself snaps out and is easy to tote around.
Newborns can start right out in a convertible car seat, facing the rear. You save money going that route for sure. The new Evenflo Symphony DLX, for instance, is meant to hold a baby from 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing, and a child all the way up to 65 pounds forward-facing. Most of the time, though, we see families switching to these big convertible car seats when their baby has outgrown the infant seat. The convertible seat has to stay installed in the car; you don’t want to be taking it in and out all the time.
Most people, when they ask me about a car seat, want to know which is the safest one. But all the car seats on the market that have a JPMA certification stamp have to pass the same safety tests. Choosing a car seat, then, becomes about ease of use. I like the Symphony because of the infinite-adust harness straps; they’re so easy to move as your baby grows, or even as he comes in and out of bulky winter clothing. It’s easy to recline the seat, and to adjust the headrest as well. Finally, I give Evenflo kudos for having some of the most helpful car-seat installation videos. They don’t replace reading the manual, but watching a video certainly helps when you’re new to the car seat world!
To help kick off road-trip season, Evenflo will give one Symphony DLX away to someone who posts a comment here. It’s worth $229! Tell me where you’re driving your family to this summer. Here’s a picture of the payoff my kids get after I drive them for 8 hours: Sitting on Pap’s tractor in his backyard!
You have until the end of the day on Wednesday, June 13th to comment and can post up to once a day. Read all the official rules here. Goody luck!
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American Baby, car seat, convertible car seat, Evenflo, Giveaway, GoodyBlog, Symphony | Categories:
Babies, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear, Travel
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
As much as I love a lazy beach vacation, and I do, my most memorable trips have all delivered some kind of unique experience or exciting adventure. New to my list of destinations that rank high in both departments: the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, AZ, which I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks ago. This dude ranch—the largest in the country—sits in the Sonoran Desert, in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains. After a 20-minute drive from the airport, I immediately set down my bags and soaked up the beautiful cactus-spotted landscape from a chaise on my hacienda suite’s private patio. Inside, my large room featured tall windows that framed the same fab view, a jetted tub (sweet!), and a charming adobe fireplace. Sigh. I could get used to ranch life!
First up for the group I traveled with was a sunset trail ride and drinks at the Dog House Saloon. Looking around the rustic bar and taking in the lively conversation, it was clear that this is where friends meet to grab a cold one or house favorite, like the prickly pear margarita, and exchange tales of the day’s adventures. With over 160 horses in the corral, the riding activities—lessons, trail rides, team penning competitions—are the highlight for most guests, and the source of lots of great stories. Curious to know how the smallest cowboys and cowgirls fit in here, I set out the next day to learn about the kids program I’d been hearing about.
Morning brought a longstanding tradition on the ranch: a breakfast cookout at the Old Homestead featuring the best blueberry pancakes I’ve ever had and scrambled eggs loaded with Southwest flavor. Tummy full and sunscreen lathered on thick—man, that desert sun gets blazing hot early!—I popped by the arena to watch a group of children mount horses for a lesson. I learned that the kids program offers hours of activities—riding, arts & crafts, nature walks, fishing—each day for children 4 to 12. A family vacation that caters to kids, giving parents time for… whatever they want? Yee haw!
From the comfort of shaded stands, I later watched ranch guests compete in Funkana, timed events that test riders’ ability to navigate obstacles on horseback. The whole thing was wildly entertaining, especially at the end, when one of the ranch’s own cowboys gave cheering spectators a taste of what they call “redneck surfing.” Balancing on a “surfboard” of old railroad planks, he was pulled by two horses around the same Funkana course guests had just completed (check out the picture). No wipeouts!
Day three started with an early tennis lesson, and after improving my rusty backhand, a mountain bike ride. This was one of those adrenaline-rushing experiences I’m happy to have had, but it became obvious quite quickly that weaving around cacti is not something I’m particularly good at! It was cool to bike in the desert, though, and see some wildlife and vegetation up close. Okay, very up close at times. I had a couple of near run-ins with some prickly succulents, but all potentially ugly collisions were averted. Phew! After a dip in the pool, my group met again for a nature walk, led by a seriously knowledgeable guide. We learned all about the plants that call the Sonoran Desert home, and got to observe several kinds of birds up close when our guide lured them over with birdseed.
In the evening, our last at the ranch, we headed to the Cottonwood Grove for a cookout, which was a fantastic end to our stay. We dined on grilled chicken, creamed corn, baked potatoes and corn bread with honey butter—everything you’d expect from a ranch barbecue. Dessert didn’t fall short either: fruit cobbler baked in an outdoor woodstove. As the sky turned an inky black and the stars (so many stars!) appeared, the surfing cowboy came back, this time to give dance lessons. A group line dance was a fitting finale to my stay at the Tanque Verde Ranch, and a fun farewell to all the new friends I’d made.
Tanque Verde Ranch, high season rates start at $225 per person, per night, and include accommodations, three meals daily, all pre-scheduled daily activities and the kids program.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Thinking about a quick getaway for Memorial Day weekend? Before you finalize your plans, explore family-friendly places by using Google Maps Street View. If you’re not familiar with this free tool, it gives you a 360-degree street level look at popular U.S. and world destinations (zoos, amusement parks, public parks, landmarks, museums, etc.). From the comfort of your own home computer or smartphone, preview places to determine if you want to visit them in person.
Get a panoramic look at these following U.S. destinations:
For bigger family vacations, you can take a road trip to different U.S. landmarks, discover historic Italy, or even set sail down the Amazon River.
Plus, if you or someone you know manages a unique destination, request a Street View team to visit the location through the Street View Partner Program.
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family travel, family vacation, google, google street view, Travel, travel plans, travel tips, traveling, vacation, vacation planning, vacation plans | Categories:
Friday, April 13th, 2012
I love when I find a great product that’s made by hand, and it really shows you that sometimes you can’t beat an artisanal item. About a year ago, Maak Soap Labs and Tanner Goods, out of Portland, Oregon, joined forces to create a line of soaps that capture the scent of Cascadia. They ended up with two outdoorsy smells, Upland and Wildwood. They are both made from all-natural ingredients and scented with oils from plants that are indigenous to the region. One added bonus of the bar soaps is that they’re airplane friendly. No liquid means no hassle from the TSA.
Saying they smell good might be an understatement. I kept them on my desk for several days just to make sure I could take a whiff when I needed a “trip” to the mountains. After I finally used the soap for it’s intended purpose, I was pleased with the lather and how the scent didn’t intensify with the water. Plus, my skin felt clean, not dry, after rinsing.
Overall, I think that both scents are worth your while. Wildwood (the green one) is more piney smelling than Upland, but both are very fresh so it’s really up to your personal preference. You can find these handmade soaps at Tanner Goods, where they retail for $9 a bar. You can also read more about their process here.
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body, dad, Dads, grooming, handmade, hubby, natural, soap | Categories:
Beauty, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear, Time for Fun, Travel, Your Life
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
I’m not sure where you are located, but the temps here in New York have dropped. It’s the perfect time of year to take a sunbreak, and last year I found just the place.
St. George Island, a 28-mile barrier island, sits four miles off the mainland, with the Apalachicola Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. According to Dr. Stephen Leatherman’s (aka Dr. Beach’s) annual survey, the tiny island claims to be the sixth best beach in the world! I have to agree…it’s breathtaking. The nine miles of undeveloped shoreline features some of the best shelling. If the kids are lucky, during May and August, they might get a glimpse of a loggerhead sea turtle.
Besides the beaches, there’s great fishing, nature trails, canoeing, and kayaking in shallow Apalachicola Bay. Journeys offer some great kid-friendly adventures. For $40, you can hop on a boat to scout for dolphins and visit Little St. George for a hermit crab race. Snacks and drinks are included. Local rental agencies such as Resort Vacation Properties offer loads of private accommodations. For $5 (per person, per night) you and the family can also rough it and camp at Gap Point in the island’s state park. Watch out for the “cat faces” left over from when the pine trees were turpentined. Hope y’all get to visit!
Photo: Lou Kellenberger, Franklin County, TDC
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Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Looking to add some foreign flair to your kid’s room? Add a Parisian punch to your chambre d’enfant with these quintessentially-French toys.
These plush petit fours (Haba, $15 for 9) look sweet enough to eat. Little ones can pretend to nosh on these little cakes while sipping imaginary cappuccinos at a playtime tea party.
Take a sight seeing tour with this set of magnetic puzzles (Vilac, $30 for 3). Kiddos can build landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and historic Montmarte. The playful pieces have a sketch-like quality that recalls doodles by Picasso and Matisse—two of the artists who were inspired by daily life in the City of Lights.
Darling hat and scarf? Check. Cozy peacoat? Oui! This wall decal (French Blossom, 69€) is très chic. Stick the monsieur on a brightly-colored wall for a little joie de vivre.
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Friday, February 17th, 2012
If you’re in the New York City area or planning to visit, don’t miss Rated P For Parenthood, a clever, funny, and touching new musical at the Westside Theatre. The versatile and endearing cast of four takes you on a whirlwind tour of raising kids from conception to college, marking milestones like the first days of kindergarten and summer camp with savvy and surprising songs. For most of the show, I was either dabbing tears from the corners of my eyes or mopping them off my cheeks as I laughed hysterically. Listen to a sneak peek here. Parents readers who order tickets (for now through May 27) by February 28 can get a 50% discount by entering the code RPDRTM9.
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