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Entries about travel

The 2 second walk...

that took ten minutes...

overcast 84 °F

It took me literally ten minutes today to walk with my two year old son to the car. Actually, it was eleven. I try to follow the principle of 'letting your child lead'. Not necessarily because I am that enthusiastic about wanting him to explore every last detail; but more importantly, because it is generally easier at this point than if I lead him to the car, kicking and objecting. As a two year old, it seems to be his job to want to do everything himself, to object to my outstretched hand, and to deny me the simple luxury of walking in a straight and purposeful direction. He wants to question, to figure things out, to try something again and again until he gets it right, and in his words, to "just go see it".

So today, we absolutely had to leave the house with the most giant beach ball we have, and bounce and kick it down the sidewalk to the street. Then we had to go check out the landscapers, who are in our condo complex nearly everyday either mowing or planting or trimming. Today, they were climbing palm trees and cutting down branches. Since this is one of the more exciting of their tasks, this took us several minutes to observe, explain, and take in. Then we had to explore the garbage, which is a new favorite for my son. He asks if they are coming to pick it up. No, not today, it's too early. Let's get into the car to go to the park now, and maybe when we get back, they will come. Hmm, he ponders this for a second before asking the same question again. "Garbage - pick up?" No, honey, not today. "Dump it?" He loves the men with their orange shirts and their large forklift that comes to pick up and then dump all the garbage out of the large neon orange dumpsters at our condo. In fact when they come, he races out to greet them as if they were the ice cream truck.

Next, it is onto the mailman, and the mailbox. Again, he asks the questions. "Mailman coming?" Nope. Key? He takes the keys from my hand, finds the correct small key for our box, and pushes it into the lock. He twists and opens the door. "No mail", he states. No, OK, let's go then. We take a few steps further and have to jump a few times. Then we have to inspect some flowers and snails. He points and names them: purple (flowers), rock, snail. Finally we reach the end of the walk and climb into the car. "Turn it on?" He wants to start the car. He climbs over the passenger seat and into the driver seat. I go around and hand him the key. He again presses it into place, and with my foot on the brake, he starts the car and turns the wheel back and forth. He's so content why should I be bothered with this routine? I pick him up, and settle him into his car seat in the back, buckled in and finally ready to go.

I laugh to myself. Sometimes this waiting game is easier than others. Patience is a tricky virtue, it comes and goes like the tides. At times, I feel I can sit and enjoy his musings, and follow him to see where he goes. Other times, it is literally all my willpower not to pick him up and buckle him into the car, changing ten minutes into two seconds. I know the meanderings are actually his education, and that my need to get somewhere is often not important, so I try my best to go with the flow and let him explore. The old adage 'life is a journey, not a destination' is definitely written by someone who spent time with a toddler... it doesn't hurt to see the world from their point of view every once in a while. Who knows, if your mind is open, you may actually discover something new.

Posted by globalmomma 13:50 Archived in USA Tagged home travel house child destination condo waiting journey mail patience toddler garbage point-of-view Comments (0)

Packing Light

semi-overcast 78 °F

Another long trip from Hawaii to the mainland. First to the Bay, then a drive to Lake Tahoe. Another flight to Seattle, and then back home to Hawaii. Our son has become such an experienced traveler. I have heard not to travel with kids, that it is difficult for them. Actually, it doesn't seem to faze our son. It is my husband and I that appear worse for the wear. Sometimes we get less sleep staying in an unfamiliar bed. We are hot and sweaty from hauling many bags around. We have come to the conclusion based on our 9 (!) bags from this past trip, that somehow, someway, our packing strategy & our bag count has to change. We are currently traveling with two more bags than we took for our three month excursion through Italy. With five more bags than our joint trip round the world in 2003. Granted, a toddler needs many more items to keep them entertained than travel sans children, or even travel with infant. With infant, you need diapers, wipes, a rattle and possibly a monitor and you're good. With a toddler, you still need the diapers and wipes, but now you also need a ton of food and snacks, books, the trusty blankie or in our case 'wolfie' (the stuffed wolf Bodhi sleeps with), several key books, a few toys, an ipod and speaker, a video player... I could go on, but we realized between my husband and I, we bring about a full bag for each of us, the other 7 seem to all be essentials for Bodhi.

So...now I realize that the real deterrent to travel with children is the sheer volume of items that you need for them to be comfortable and entertained. We are going to go through some serious inventory work and some downsizing, much like corporate America has been assessing their work force and productivity. What items can we live without? What items are duplicates? What items can we possibly replace with newer more efficient (or smaller) versions?

We recently received a tiny Monster iClarity bluetooth speaker as a gift. This is perfect, because it is a wireless speaker, small and perfect for travel because you can 'stream' music from your computer, ipad or iphone = perfect travel device. No need for additional ipod used solely as a nighttime wave machine. Speaking of technology, the ipad has been the greatest travel invention of our time. OK, we still bring 'real books' along too, but we also have a virtual library of books, apps, videos, and hours of plane ride entertainment of one small device. It has easily been the best purchase and best travel device for our son. At first, I admit, I thought it was indulgent for a two year old to play with such a pricey machine. I thought it was overkill. After several long flights from Hawaii to the mainland, I can tell you that was some of the best money we spent, letting him have our old ipad, buying a new one for ourselves. Our two year old is blissfully entertained and able to sit in his car seat on the airplane for several hours without fussing. And this is the same child who refuses to sit in a stroller or sit still for more than several seconds: always, always on the move. Climbing, jumping, running, swimming, hiking, bouncing balls, moving from toy to toy, into everything and anything. This same child can be mesmerized by an Elmo app for an hour. AND it has taught him the alphabet, how to trace letters, and countless words. Pretty incredible stuff. This admitted techno-phobe is now a complete convert to the amazing world of the ipad.

But I digress...other things that we do to make travel easier are to always travel with small detergent packets, for washing on the go. I recommend if traveling with children to get a few items that are synthetic fibers (i.e. a fleece sweatshirt, instead of cotton) and that way, you can wash and easily drop it when it gets inevitably dirty on first wear. The amount of clothing you need to pack for a small child is ridiculous when you consider during half of their meals they spill something, they are still occasionally waking soaking wet from sleep, and jumping in mud puddles or climbing trees. They get dirty. It's best to have clothes you can wash and re-wear. We try to bring toys that have multiple functions or can provide different forms of entertainment. I like flashcards, and crayons or those invisible markers. We usually bring a soft ball, some type of bath or water toy, and a truck or train. Nothing annoyingly loud with batteries for the airplane. I like to bring toys that don't have small parts, and not ones that are favorites...ones that are dispensable, or at least can be easily replaced. I don't like to have to worry about finding small pieces or leaving something behind that will cause tears. Less travel stress = happier momma.

The essentials for me (to travel with less stress) are the sleep routine items. For us, that means 2 books, Wolfie his stuffed wolf, alternative milk, (soy or rice if we don't think we can get it where we are going), and his wave music that we put on when he sleeps. That way, he feels a sense of home no matter where we are. This seems to be a key component to our success with traveling. When Bodhi was younger, we traveled everywhere with our own crib. We literally hauled an extra bag that was his travel crib. He slept so much better that way than when we tried various cribs in different hotels. You know, they smell different, the sheets are different...you can't blame him really. I reasoned, better to have his own crib, even if we set that bed in a different place every night, he has a comfort, a piece of home. Like the calm in the center of a storm, if you provide an anchor for children to feel secure, than I think they have no problem adjusting to external fluctuations of time and place. Plus, it made us more flexible to stay in pensions, rental houses and other places where sometimes cribs are not available. Now that he's older, he does OK sleeping on other beds and cribs as long as we are with him and he has his bedtime routine. And when your child/infant sleeps better on a trip, I don't think I have to tell you how much better that is for everyone... to us, it's the most important thing of all when traveling with your child, to bring the items they need to sleep well.

Posted by globalmomma 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged children travel well with light sleep packing change time beds clothing toddler adjusting essentials cribs Comments (0)

Mother's Day

sunny 80 °F

...the one day in the world when we are formally acknowledged for the toughest, most demanding job there is. I don't think there is any other job that requires this much of your soul, mind, and your heart...at least, I hope not.

This is my own third Mother's Day, and I remember each one, like a badge of congratulations for all I have done for that year. This year takes us from the middle of Italy last May (where I spent last year's Festa Della Momma), through our summer traveling throughout Europe. Mostly full of adventures and new experiences, but also filled with some difficult times trying to figure out where we would end up next, where our next footsteps would take us, and how I would continue to convey consistency and security to my son who was sleeping in a new place every week.

This experience of traveling on the road with a one year old taught me, or I should say reinforced in me, that home is where you are. That life is wherever you are. That the journey is taken day by day. And that doesn't make it insecure or scary. It makes it present. Many people think it's necessary to build a stable foundation of a home, a place, a routine that helps a child feel safe. I thought this too, perhaps from something I had read. I thought it was best to be in the same place day after day. But what I realized from last year of travel is that what is most important to feeling safe and secure the people around you. We found friendships all around us. We found community from town to town, place to place. But wherever we went, we went as a family. The safety and the trust that I was worried about interrupting in my son last year, I actually reinforced and strengthened with our roaming. You know why? I helped him see that where he laid his head did not make his home; wherever we were as a family, that was home. Home is where the people around you, they support you, they surround you with love.

So this year on Mother's Day, I am thankful that I can spend it in such a beautiful place, on Hawaii Island; but more importantly, I am thankful that I can spend it in the comfort of my home, which is my family.

Posted by globalmomma 01:43 Archived in USA Tagged home travel italy family day security hawaii heart safety festa mother's della momma Comments (0)

A frog in your soup

So here's the news for today. After more than 2 weeks of travel, we landed back in Kailua kona at 10am this morning, and are all very happy to be here. Bodhi has been tearing his shoes and socks off all week, to which I promptly reply, "you have to keep those on until we get back to Hawaii. It's cold here honey.". Of course, he didn't listen to the 'don't take those off' part, but apparently he understood the 'until back in Hawaii' part because as thelane was about to set down, he was again yanking both socks off and throwing them with such gusto, I know he was hoping he would never see them again.

My husband also responded by systematically stripping off layers of clothing until he looked native again in his slips, shorts, and a hat. I however, was stuck in jeans, sneakers and a long sleeve shirt, and I couldn't wait to get the heck home.

Once home we visited our favorite spot for some fresh island poke (raw marinated ahi), and settled in. Bodhi went down for a nap, so I decided to read and rest as well. I heard something, and figuring my husband had come home, I got up and instead found, at the foot of my bed, a little someone. Looking dazed and sleepy. A little someone who is supposed to still be staying put in his crib. I have caught him the past few weeks testing me by sliding his foot up the side of the crib as if to say, 'you know I could do this if I tried, right?'. And I knew he could, but I was hoping he wouldn't have the desire to figure it out. I had a feeling the end of this trip would be our deadline for the dreaded transition to the toddler or the twin bed, and it alas, is here.

So, we are getting settled back into life in our condo here, which means opening windows, turning on the air, and getting the place aired out. And a little spring cleaning is in order too, since the bugs take over as soon as you leave your tropical paradise. But... I had no idea just how much they took over. I grab a glass and pour some sparkling water into it, but instantly taste thT it isn't right, and spit it into the sink. I look into the bottle expecting to find mold and instead to my horror, I find... A dead gecko. I am so completely disgusted I am feeling my skin crawl. I spit, gargle salt water. Then my husband suggests vodka, and I drink that as well. I am still shivering with the thought of that floating reptile in the water bottle. Then, my husband tells me, at least you didn't drink a whole glass...

There are more blogs written about the past few weeks, I just haven't had a chance to post them, so get ready to hear tales of the Caribbean, cruise lines, meetings with old friends, citizenship appointments, and travel to Sonoma and San Francisco.

Posted by globalmomma 19:42 Archived in USA Tagged water travel dead baby bugs hawaii airplanes gecko crib Comments (1)

The Vertigo of Motion

semi-overcast 72 °F

Last week, my husband, son, and I boarded a gigantic cruise ship headed to the Caribbean. We were on a week vacation with my in-laws, the first in quite a while. Bodhi was excited to see the enormous whale of a ship anchored to an equally giant dock. He pointed and yelled his typical phrase "Dohhhdit!" which loosely translated means, "what the heck is that!?!" he including wait to get on and explore. First we had to climb off the shuttle bus, hand over our luggage to the experienced but jaded porters on the docks in Miami, and pray that they would all miraculously arrive at our doorstep inboard, like was promised. Then we had to wait in a deep line to get through our checkin, get our cruise ship IDs, and be loaded on board. The entire process of loading and unloading the ship was an exercise in patience. There are big crowds on a cruise, so they have to do things in this semi-organized herded fashion. But for us long travelers, who are used to going our own way and avoiding crowds, used to winging it and not having a schedule, this was a new and frustrating process requiring us to let go and go with the flow of the large group without dissension.

At first, there was annoyance with things - why can't they be more efficient? Why does it feel so crowded? Then, partway through the experience, I learned that this is a part of the disorientation of travel. Usually we do things a certain way because that way is what works best for us. We have a vast comfort zone when we travel that most people do not have. Most people want to know where to go, where they will be arriving when, and how to get there. For my husband and I, this information feels stifling and confining, and reaches into the depths of discomfort with travel. We like freedom, open spaces, possibilities, whims. I don't necessarily like to know where I will end up tomorrow, but I like to take it one step at a time, knowing if we get on a train headed north and see a cute spot, we can jump off and stay. The unregimented open agenda is our comfort spot. Thus, the regimented schedule of a cruise line would prove to be somewhat of a challenge for us.

There is a certain stress and uneasiness that comes with travel for most of us - we have to keep track of our things, have to pack and unpack, have to plan and prepare, remember boarding passes, passports and medicines, and the there is the element of "what if". What if I need something while traveling that I don't have? What if I don't like the hotel? What if I can't sleep? What if my kids act up on the plane? What if I get sick? What if. There are so many of those what ifs. Those are the discomforts that keep people from traveling and the risks and difficulties that it can bring. Those are the challenges to our psyche and our way of life. Travel forces people in some way to step outside of their comfort zones of home, and experience something new. That something new may not always be better, or always be a welcome change, but it is something new. And it allows you to be able to question your life, your beliefs, your comforts, and see outside the realm of your everyday life. This is the primary reason that whenever travel calls to me, I answer.

So here we are, miles and knots away from land in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I have found my sea legs after a very harsh night of tossing and turning without sound sleep, due to the waves shaking against the ship and rolling under our little cabin. I feel frustration and exhaustion rising up. I want to throw in the towel and stay home. I dont want to brave the day and just continue, I want time to feel bad. But the boy is up at six, and wanting to play. The sun is up, it is a new day. I am not ready for the new day, I have not processed the old day, but time moves on without me and so I rise, get coffee, and get moving. Attitude is everything. Travel is all about having experiences. As I was reminded on this cruise, there are some perfect moments and incredible experiences mixed with some disappointing experiences and little aggravations. It almost does not matter in the end how good those experiences are, it just matters that you went out, and had them. Life is like that too... you take the good with the bad, and in the end, all that you remember are the very best.

I am sitting, bare feet flat on the floor inside our condo in Florida, where we will stay an extra few days before our flight back to the west coast and onto Hawaii. I am fully stationary, yet I am swaying from side to side like a midday drunk. I am still in a state of perpetual motion after getting off the boat 36 hours ago. My mind knows I am on land, but my body still thinks we are moving. This continual sway is what reminded me that travel gives everyone a sense of vertigo. The chaos of motion: uprooting, settling, transferring, exploring, packing, viewing, doing, wandering. All of these verb endings of action come with traveling, because there is activity and there is growth, and there are discoveries that go on inside that cause us to shift, ever so slightly off-balance. This shift out of our comfort zone and into experiences can cause a vertigo that stays with you as you struggle to reincorporate elements of your new experience into yourself. Being off balance, or our of our equilibrium is what helps us to feel alive, and helps us to grow. I remember hearing in high school biology - an animal or a being that is in a perfect state of equilibrium is dead. The rest of us are struggling to find equilibrium as we tumble in and out of it all the time, finding balance for an instant only to lose it again. It is this process that constitutes life and activity and growth: this vertigo of motion and the balance beam of life.

Posted by globalmomma 09:57 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands travel cruise caribbean florida bahamas virgin vertigo Comments (0)

Eleven hours of hell

Traveling with kids is the hardest thing in the world. Don't listen to me if I tell you otherwise.  I never realized how easy I had it when all I had to do was worry about getting myself to the fight on time, and what I brought with me to read. With kids, it is a constant crapshoot for what you are going to get.  It could be an easy ride, after which you say, 'wow, that wasn't so bad', and you almost forget about the other times when it is difficult. Other times, your child is awakened during every nap, you forget the milk, you go through each diaper, and you are banging your head against the seat in front of you by the time the whole thing is through. Or maybe in need of a strong drink. Or three.
 
The anxiety of not knowing what you are going to get is the worst part.  Dreading the ten hour flight or the overnight trip or the five hour car ride.  Having a strong arsenal of supplies is half the battle. Sheer luck is the other half.

When your child is crying and unsympathetic people around you are glaring, and you are turning red-faced as you try to appease, nothing is good, and you can't get out of that situation and off the plane fast enough. Nursery rhymes, rocking, even playing with your iPhone...bribes, snacks, new toys, any method is employed to try to get through a long flight.  Planes have a higher probability of hellishness because there is so very little room to move.  You stand in the aisles, you get bumped. You stand in galleys, you are likely to get chastised by crabby flght attendants. You try to go into the bathroom but the lights are too bright for sleep. You try in your chair but the baby kicks the seat in front of you and squirms onto the floor. If you are lucky, you may have one of those children that can fall asleep half-standing in the middle of a football game.  Most of us have children who sleep best like we do... In quiet, cool, dark rooms without hordes of strangers around.  For them, as for us, sleeping on a plane is near impossible without medical help.

This last one was a doozy. Direct from Newark, New Jersey to Honolulu, eleven hours; which at first I thought was a great plan, and since have started to regress such notions of any 'better way to go'. I now know flying from the east coast to Hawai'i is torture, regardless of how many flights it takes.

The particulars of this flight started with a packed flight leaving Newark, one that we happened to board nearly last, as it took forever to get through the terminal and to the gate. Even though we arrived at the airport over 90 minutes early, we still got to the plane as all rows were boarding. No time for diaper changes and water runs, and it was rush, rush, rush. Between all the elevators and trams in Newark, I told my husband I felt like the flight should be nearly over before we even left, I was so exhausted. Usually I try my hardest to plan for a good nap before a travel day. I find it is the best predictor of success...well, that and an empty flight, which is rare and totally unpredictable.  This morning the nap was not good, a foreboding detail.

We get on the plane and get settled in with ourr eight carry-ons, including a car seat, diaper bag, cooler bag, two coats, backpack, rolling bag, bear. Since Bodhi had a miserable first nap for only about forty five minutes in the car, he was whiny and fidgety from the start. As soon as we got up to altitude, we were hoping he would fall asleep. We bought him an honorary third seat on the plane for this purpose...so he could fall asleep in his car seat as he usually does. No problem, right? Wrong. After an hour, it was clear it wasn't going to work out, so we were back to standing in the galley with him over our shoulders whisking him to sleep. Of course, right about the time we finally get him to sleep, the baby across from us decides to wake up and starts chatting and shrieking. Game over. We try for a few minutes to keep him asleep but it is of no use. He pops open his eyes and yells, 'uppa!' The second nap goes in about the same manner and I find myself staring at the computer screen with the airplane trajectory on it, willing us to go faster and get there.  During the four hours between naps, Bodhi managed to burn through all three of his outfits. One was peed through. The second was also soaked, after he tried to grab Chris's ice water and ceremoniously dumped it straight on his face.  Imagine a baby being doused with a full glass of ice water. Didn't feel good. And he sure let us know about it.  I stripped him down to his diaper in about three seconds as if I was practicing for a class in hypothermia first aid.   The third was partially soaked by the wet car seat from the pee incident and the ice water, but also got food all over it. But it will have to do for the remaining three hours.

Luckily I brought an entire carryon of diapers so we aren't going to go through all of those. We had that happen on a previous flight and I wasn't going to let that happen this time. I also thought to bring the entire jar of toddler formula instead of the bottles of milk I usually bring. Good thing because we have already burned through four bottles and the night is still young. We make it to Honolulu, and then while buying dinner and getting from terminal to terminal, somehow we miss our connecting interisland flight to Kona. And it is the last one of the night. Good things I brought those diapers and formula, because we have another overnight here. We don't have his travel crib, and we don't have anymore clothes, but what we do have will have to do. By the time we check-in at our airport Best Western, it is 3AM East Coast time and we are all more than ready for a night of sleep. Goodnight.

Posted by globalmomma 00:24 Archived in USA Tagged travel flight kids with hawaii airplane Comments (0)

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