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Category Archives: toddling

My Changing Thoughts on Travel

.The “me” of today is different in many ways from the “me” that lived in Dayton, Ohio with an infant. Thinking back to the three years that our family lived in Dayton, I remember feeling stuck.

I wanted to travel so badly. Yet, my husband’s work schedule, and most of all, my fear of venturing into the unfamiliar with my baby girl, made me stay close to home. I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of local-ish travel. I didn’t realize that adventures awaited us just a few hours from home. At that point in my life, the word “travel” had a much different meaning.

My daughter hasn’t celebrated a birthday recently, yet I’ve found myself thinking lately about how much she–and I–have changed during her three and a half years of life.

I used to sit around and analyze everything that could possibly go wrong. The car could break down…in the middle of nowhere. I could get lost. E. could start crying uncontrollably in public and strangers might stare at me. It seems laughable now to think that these were some of my worries when it came to day trips from Dayton.

And then one day, when E. was about 18 months old, the power went out. For NINE DAYS. Yes, you read that correctly. There were so many power outages that the power company just couldn’t keep up, and ours was one of the last homes to receive electricity again. I couldn’t handle sitting in a dark house, so I decided E. and I would venture a couple hundred miles to my hometown in Missouri.

I drove–alone–with E. for about 7 hours. Nothing catastrophic happened. That was when my thinking about travelling with a kid began to change. These days, I confidently set out on adventures with my daughter. Sure, it helps that she’s older now, but it also had a lot to do with a change in my own thinking. I began to remember the pre-mommyhood days when Nick and I ventured to Tokyo without knowing what to expect.

I’m sure there are moms reading this who have no idea what I’m talking about. They’ve always been self-assured and known how to handle unusual situations with grace. However, things can be difficult for us worriers. Nothing is simple.

P.S. I get extra points for posting a picture in which I’m not wearing any make-up, right?

Photo Friday: Spring Personified

Tuesday was an absolutely beautiful day here in San Antonio. After the rain and cold (well, “cold” is relative) of winter, it was so nice to put on a pair of shorts and head out to the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

That day, E. looked like Spring personified. She wore a brand new outfit–a peach-colored shirt with plaid bermuda shorts–and her pink baseball cap. And her attitude that day exuded Spring. She loved our day at the garden and had a smile on her face the entire time.

For more pictures of the Botanical Garden, check out my previous post Flower (and Cactus) Power. And for more travel photos, stop by Photo Friday at the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

Happy Spring!

San Antonio Children’s Museum

The San Antonio Children’s Museum isn’t the largest or most elaborate museum of its kind that we’ve visited, but it is still worth a visit, especially on a rainy day.

Last weekend, we made our second trip to the museum. Interestingly, E. was not at all interested in some of the activities that she had loved the first time, but did find one old favorite that could have kept her entertained for hours.

When we first arrived, E. seemed a little hesitant. She often gets a little shy in these kinds of situations–lots of kids running around, chaos, lots of noise. A good place for kids to start out is the Tots Area, which is designed for children under age 4. It is a little quieter and less overwhelming than other parts of the museum. E. played there for a few minutes, and then we encouraged her to explore the rest of the museum.

Next, we headed upstairs to the airplane and control tower that she had enjoyed on her first visit. But this time, she didn’t seem too impressed. Instead, we headed to a small room that contained a replica of a house, complete with kitchen and second-story area that overlooked the rest of the room. E. played here for several minutes, while Nick and I sat on the benches and watched.

E. loves bridges, so she enjoyed the second-floor bridge that overlooks the first floor from the Victorian Parlor. And that’s where she saw it–PowerBall Hall, an activity she had really loved on our first trip.

In PowerBall Hall, kids collect colorful balls and use tubes and conveyor belts to get the balls into a large basket. Once the basket is full, it opens up and spills the balls onto the floor. Since we were there near closing time, E. played in the exhibit for a while and than helped a museum worker collect the balls and put them in a large bag. After we left the museum, I asked her what her favorite thing was that we had done that day. She said, “Help pick up the balls.” Little kids love to help out!

For another traveller’s thoughts on the San Antonio Children’s Museum, check out this post from Travels with Children: Notes from the Road: Texas, Day 7.

Take a Walk with Me Through the King William District

On a recent Saturday afternoon, we explored the King William District of San Antonio. We didn’t cover the entire neighborhood (E.’s two-year-old legs can only carry her so far), but we did see some interesting sights along the way.

We started the morning at the historic Guenther House, which overlooks the San Antonio River. As I have mentioned before on this blog, Guenther House is a great place to grab breakfast and has plenty of outdoor space for little ones to run while you wait for a table (which you almost certainly will, if you’re visiting on a Saturday or Sunday morning).

A short drive took us to the heart of the King William District where we parked and walked a few blocks.

I loved the wrought-iron fence that surrounded this house.

The Sartor House was built in 1881 for Alexander Sartor, jr. by the prominent San Antonio architect Alfred Giles. I love the details of the porch’s columns.

As we were walking, I noticed this signiture that someone had etched in wet cement in 1914.

We also noticed steps such as these at the edge of the street. We figured that these might have been used to help people climb into horse-drawn carriages. (Does anyone happen to know this for sure? I’d love to know more; leave a comment if you have anything to add). As you can see, E. enjoyed climbing the steps and pretending that she was on-stage.

It was hard to get a good look at the Norton-Polk-Mathis House since there was a large fence around it. It appears that they are doing renovations. This site was bought in 1869 by Russell C. Norton and construction on the home started in 1876. Although I was disappointed we couldn’t get a better view of the house, I’m glad to see that people are working to ensure that it will be around for future generations to enjoy.

This was by far my favorite house on King William Street:

I especially loved the dramatic balcony and the large fountain.

As we were getting in the car, I noticed another small detail: initials carved into a sidewalk stone.

There is more to see in the King William District, so we’ll hopefully be making a return visit soon.

Photo Friday: Shave Ice in Hawaii

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What could make a 2-year-old happier than a bowl of rainbow shave ice that’s as big as her head?

If you’re ever in Lahaina, try Annie’s Island Shave Ice.

To see photos from other travellers, check out Photo Friday at the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

Guest Post: Off the Beaten Trail in Boston

I’m pleased to introduce Wandering Off’s very first guest post! Sara Keagle writes an outstanding blog called The Flying Pinto, which focuses on her adventures as a flight attendant. Today, she’s sharing her tips on visitng Boston with kids, and she definitely knows her stuff. In fact, she used to serve as a Boston tour guide! Be sure to check out her blog and follow her on Twitter (@theflyingpinto).

When planning a trip to Boston, Massachusetts with kids, there are of course the obvious activities–the Tea Party Ship, the Children’s Museum, and Boston’s fabulous New England Aquarium–but what I would like to offer are some choices slightly off the beaten trail.

Boston is a great walking city, but, with kids in tow, I recommend jumping on a sightseeing trolley. As a former Tour Guide, I can tell you the trolleys offer an overview of the city, a rich history lesson and the opportunity to jump on and off at all the major attractions. The “T” is a terrific and affordable way to get around for the remainder of your trip. I do not recommend renting a car as the parking is expensive (the hotels do not own any of the parking lots) and Boston is an extremely stressful city to drive around. Here are some hidden treasures off my must-see list:

Mapparium “This world-famous, three-story, painted glass globe is one of the key attractions at the Library. The Mapparium’s three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935 is enhanced by A World of Ideas, an original presentation that features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate how ideas have traversed time and geography and changed the world,” says the Mary Baker Eddy Library website. It is literally a stained glass globe you walk through! Your children will delight in the fact that if you stand on one end of the bridge and your child stands on the other you can whisper and still be heard because the globe is a perfect sphere.

The Old North Church “The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution.” This quaint church is right in the heart of Boston’s North End or “Little Italy.” The pews are called “box pews” and are like little rooms, the walls being about chest height. Families used to pay rent on them! Why not snuggle into a pew and read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about that famous ride by Paul Revere, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?” I know experiencing history always made me appreciate and remember it better!

The U.S.S. Constitution or “Old Iron Sides,” is the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy. In order to stay commissioned it must set sail at least once a year and that it does. Every fourth of July it heads out into the Boston Harbor for the celebration, and when it returns they dock it in the opposite way it set sail, allowing the ship to weather evenly. Learn more about this famous ship on board. The tour is fabulous and it is free! You probably already had The Constitution on your itinerary, but the hidden treasure is how to get there–an inexpensive harbor ferry. The MBTA, Boston’s subway system, offers a ferry from Boston’s Long Wharf (right next to the New England Aquarium) to Charlestown where the ship is docked for only $1.70. What kid doesn’t like a boat ride?

Granary Burial Ground Call me crazy but I love old cemeteries and Boston has some of the greatest. The Old Granary Burial Ground is on The Freedom Trail, so you probably wouldn’t miss it and its famous residents, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Peter Faneuil, and more. However, older kids might find it interesting that Mother Goose, whose real name was Elizabeth Vergoose, resides here as well.

No Name This restaurant without a name was finally given one by the locals–No Name! Located out on Fish Pier, there are no bells and whistles, just extremely fresh seafood. In 1917, the restaurant opened as a diner for local fisherman returning from sea. In my opinion, it is the best quality seafood for the price, and it has a family-friendly atmosphere.

The Boston Public Garden Of course you probably wouldn’t miss this, it’s where the famous Swan Boat Rides are located. But, what you might miss is that this park is a beautiful arboretum. There are over 100 types of trees, and they are all labeled. The other hidden treasure in this park is the row of duck statues from the famous children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings.” You can find Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. At EarthCareCanada.com there are some super ideas for incorporating the story into your visit.

Fenway Park Everyone thinks about going to a game, and it’s a real treat inside the “green monster.” But, have you ever thought about taking a tour of Fenway Park? The fifty-minute walking tour is offered throughout the year. Check out their web site for more details: Boston Red Socks

Ok, seriously, I could go on! As you can probably tell, Boston is a city I am passionate about. I always recommend learning about your destination beforehand with your kids to get them excited. The ideas are endless with Boston, and your kids may actually…gasp…learn something!

Wet Your Whistle: Blue Star Brewing Company

As most of you already know, I’m always looking for fun and different things to do with my family of three. When I read about the Blue Star Brewing Company, I knew it would be perfect–they brew their own beer and soda. In other words, we felt totally comfortable bringing E. along for lunch.

Blue Star Brewing Co

I tried the Cola-flavor soda, but they also offer five other flavors including grape, orange cream, and rootbeer. For lunch, I ordered a cheeseburger, which was average. E. and Nick seemed to like their food better than I did. Nick said the three steak tacos were good (and we’ve certainly made the rounds to many of the Mexican restaurants here in San Antonio, so I take him at his word!) E.’s chicken fingers were above average and came with seasoned thick-cut fries.

Nick opted for beer and tried the Texican lager. For a list of beers currently on tap, click here.

My verdict on Blue Star Brewing Company? I’d definitely go back. It has a unique atmosphere, with the large steel vats behind the bar and the bicycles hanging from the ceiling. The San Antonio river is right there, and the grand homes of the King William district are just around the corner.

Have you already visited the Blue Star Brewing Company? Tell me what you thought!

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. We were not compensated by Blue Star Brewing Company in any way, and we paid for our own meal.

Air Sickness: The Real Story

So, it’s occurred to me that although I wrote a nice, responsible post on my tips for parents travelling with an air sick toddler, I never did tell the gory details of our air sickness experience. I’m sure there are some of you who want the gory details, so here it goes:

We were on the second leg of our journey back to San Antonio after our trip to Missouri and Kansas. We had a connection in Houston and then a short flight over to San Antonio. E. fell asleep about halfway through this short flight, so Nick and I thought we were home-free. We’re almost there…she’s asleep…what could possibly go wrong?


(A picture from a happier flight that did not involve vomit.)

As we landed, E. woke up–sort of. She seemed uncomfortable, but still sleepy, so I held her in my lap with her head on my shoulder. And that’s when it started. Once, twice, three times…vomit everywhere! All over E.’s shirt and pants, all over my shirt and one leg of my jeans, all over Nick’s sweatshirt and jeans. What a mess.

I wasn’t expecting this at all. E. had never thrown-up before, much less on an airplane. When it was over, Nick and I just sat there looking at each other. “What do we do now?” We both smelled and looked disgusting, and although we were technically “home,” we had to walk through the airport, find our checked bags and make our way out to the car. Yuck.

I changed E.’s shirt as soon as we got off the plane, and Nick and I took off our shirts since we both had t-shirts underneath. That helped, but we still were wearing gross pants. So…

We got out to the parking lot and Nick decided that he didn’t want his car to smell like puke (understandable). We had a trash bag the flight attendant had given us, so we ended up putting our pants in the bag. Neither of us felt like rummaging through our luggage to find clean pants at that point, so we drove home pantsless! The whole family–no pants. Can you imagine if we’d been pulled over?

Here are some tips you’ll hopefully never have to use: Air Sickness: A Survival Guide for Parents

First Hike: Government Canyon

As E. stopped to examine yet another twig, I thought about the fact that this hike wasn’t turning out like I had planned. Somehow, I had pictured us completing one of the park’s many trails. Yet, after almost an hour, we hadn’t gone more than a mile or so from our car.

Govt Canyon

Despite the fact that we didn’t get very far, we did have a pleasant afternoon at Government Canyon State Natural Area. We originally planned to hike one of the easier, frontcountry trails, but it was covered with mud from recent rains. We ended up taking a backcountry trail instead since it was rockier and less muddy.

Why did our journey move along so slowly? Well, E. is a very detail-oriented little girl. She wanted to look at every rock and stick. She gazed out into the wilderness and asked why she couldn’t see any animals. Basically, she was interested in everything except walking! She even found a large rock and stood on it, using it as a stage.

Govt Canyon E.

At some point, I’d like to return to Government Canyon on my own and try to hike one of the more challenging trails. Until then, I’ll just enjoy my time with E., examining the smaller details.

Bored? Try This!

Looking for something new to do with the kids? Tired of visiting the same local parks again and again? Here’s an idea that’s free and gets everyone out of the house: try visiting a college campus.

Many campuses are quite pretty and offer free museums or other activities that are appropriate for even the youngest visitors.

Last weekend, we visited the University of Texas in Austin. We walked down tree-lined pathways…

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…and found interesting buildings like these:

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E. loved the large fountain we spotted, and Nick and I enjoyed seeing those things you only find on college campuses, like bulletin boards filled to the brim.

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Keep in mind that many college campuses have art museums/galleries, natural history museums, restaurants, and park-like spaces. In other words, there’s plenty to fill an afternoon.

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