A free travel kit for kids

When preparing for a long trip with kids, whether by car or airplane, there's always a moment of trepidation before leaving when you consider those long hours in transit and how your child will be possibly stay occupied, tear-and whine-free while on the go. It is always my instinct to go to the book or toy store and buy a travel kit or some other small toy. I find that the Klutz kits are always a hit and help pass the time nicely.

However, occasionally I stand there in the aisle and think to myself, "What happened to the books I got the last time?" And,"What's wrong with all the other toys and books my kids have stuffed into shelves that they barely look at?" And I realize that this exercise is really for me - to easy my anxiety about the trip with some consumer therapy.

So now I have a new routine before trips. Rather than heading to the bookstore, I go straight to the toy box or bookshelf. I dump the toy box upside down and dig out some small toys that my children haven't looked at in months - new to them! Pick some of the books of Super Silly Mad Libs Junior and Klutz books from some previous trip, and toss them in a small backpack. Et, Voila! A free travel kit filled with plenty of fun and games for the long haul.

And the truth is that the kids have just as much fun with this stuff as they would with new stuff. It just shows how much the needing to buy stuff for kids originates with the adults.

Home Swapping: a great way for families to travel

You may have seen or heard lately about a movie called The Holiday in which two women swap houses and end up swapping more than that. Or something, I haven’t actually seen it. But it has become part of the popular culture enough that now there is some frame of reference for house swapping so that when you talk about it people say, “Oh, like in that movie" rather than just staring at you like you're not wearing underwear.

When I was a teenager my family swapped our New York home for an apartment in Paris for a month one summer. Last Fall, I decided I wanted to take a particularly long vacation this year and so I thought of house swapping as a way to be able to take a longer vacation without having the expense of renting a house for a month. As usual frugality was my first motive, but as the experience has developed it has turned out to be just one of the benefits of traveling this way.

How to bring your own water on the airplane

The whole ban on bringing water through airport security thing has been driving me mad. First of all, I think that they are not letting anyone bring water on airplanes because two idiots were thinking about trying to make gel bombs is just one of the worst examples of how we are letting the terrorists win.

In addition, I'm beginning to think that they are just keeping this rule around now because they realize how much money they can make by forcing everybody to buy $3 bottles of water now. You would think that airlines would take this opportunity to give out bottles of water on the plane, but no, now they STARTED charging for water on the plane. It's like, "yeah, we know we've got you over the barrel. Pay up!"

This is a pretty serious issue to me, not only for my own comfort, health and miserliness, but when traveling with kids we know how important it can be to have water on hand. I've actually seen them make a mother pour out the contents of a bottle. It's crazy. But, I finally figured out a solution.

Traveling with Kids

Sorry about the late posting today. I’ve actually been offline since Saturday.( Yes, it’s been pretty traumatic.) I’ll be on vacation for the next three weeks, so posting may be light, but I’m planning on posting at least 3 times a week, if not more. But definitely stayed tuned, because there’s some good things in the works. We’ll have the second half of our summer guide coming with activities for every day of August.

How to read your way to a classic NYC kid

There's an undeniable charm to the idea of the classic NYC kid. Precocious, worldly, outspoken and feisty; whether you're just visiting NYC with a child or raising your own specimen, you can enjoy imagining your child as one of these feisty tots.

There are a host of books that will set the stage and act as a primer for aspiring Eloises and children will enjoy reading about the familiar places and connecting their lives with the ones in the book.

NYC Libraries Now Open On Saturdays

It was really a bummer when the city decided to close the NYC public libraries on the weekends. With snip of the fiscal scissor, the gold standard of Saturday afternoon entertainment for toddlers and kids in NYC was suddenly gone. No longer would there be quiet Saturday afternoons reading and picking out books at the local library.

Read (and eat and splash) your way around the Lower East Side

Just walking around New York City can be a great experience for kids to learn about history, not just of New York, but American history as well; and there's no part of NYC more full of history and color for kids than the Lower East Side. Perhaps that's why it's been the inspiration for so many wonderful children's books. A walk around the Lower East Side brings some favorite children's books to life and, at the same time, brings the story of immigrants in America to life as well. Here's some wonderful children's books that you can read that will send you off on a great outing in the city with the kids to experience the history of immigrants in NYC first-hand while having fun, getting wet, and, most importantly, eating very well.

Read Your Way Around NYC

Summer and books just go together. Whether it's beach reading, summer reading lists, or those extra daylight hours, summer just seems like a good time to catch up on your reading. This week Mommy Poppins is going to help you turn your children's reading list into a week full of activities with a great idea that was suggested to me by our school Parent Coordinator, Laura.

Laura wrote a terrific article in our school newsletter about a book, Storied City: A Children's Book Walking-Tour Guide to New York City. It takes all the children's books that have been written about New York and connects them with the real life city. Talk about experiencing literature first hand. I love this idea.

NYC Parenting Blogger Round-up, Part 2

A bunch of NYC parenting bloggers got together the other night. It was fun to meet the real people behind the funny. MetroDad organized it (he is almost too nice. I don't know where that acerbic wit comes from) and I was honored to get to hang out with him and the other great bloggers present. Mom-101 has a terrific blog and I really admire her style. I also became acquainted with some other really funny NYC parenting blogs, Mr Nice Guy, CroutonBoy and Laid-Off Dad. Make sure to empty your bladder before reading any of these blogs, especially if you're a woman who's had at least one vaginal birth, if you know what I mean.

Here are some other NYC parenting blogs I've discovered since the last time I posted a list:

More Free Outdoor Movies for Kids and Families

BloggyMcBlogBlog has a theory that soon there will be so much scaffolding in Lower Manhattan that they will have to build scaffolding on top of the scaffolding and then there will be a war between the people who live below the scaffolding and those that live above it...

Likewise, I'm beginning to think that soon there will be so many outdoor movie festivals in NYC that people will no longer need televisions, we'll just watch giant projected entertainment from the comfort of our living rooms because every available surface in the city will have programming projected on it.

Not that I'm complaining. I love outdoor movies. And this new one that I discovered thanks to A Brooklyn Life is particularly good, especially for NYC families with kids.

The Red Hook Movies in the Parks series is playing a great batch of films every Thursday through August 16th and they're all kid-friendly, good movies, including Happy feet, Mad Hot Ballroom and Akeelah and the Bee.

The outdoor films are closing in...



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