Monthly Archives: November 2012

Preparing for a road trip with kids

We’re facing a 10- to 12-hour car ride with the kids this Thanksgiving and it’s not our first long car trip with them. Since they were young, we’ve braved planes, cars and ferries (no trains yet) with the kids to get where we want to go and to show them the larger world out there.

And the key to mostly sane travel is to prepare. (Unlike the one time my husband was on a flight with our infant son, who had an unfortunate blowout and another set of clothes were in checked luggage.)

Electronics, depending on how you view them, are a necessary evil. We were once on a flight from Michigan to Florida and the elderly lady next to me asked if she could give my kids $20 to split at the end of the flight. Because both kids were wired to their movies and games, neither made a peep for the entire flight and my row companion was clearly relieved and delighted. (We took the money because we were going to Disney, but we had a long talk with the kids about money from strangers, parental permission, etc.)

Books are essential but you also have to plan for when it’s too dark. On a 12-hour car ride, this is bound to be the case. The kids are somewhat starting to outgrow activity books, but they enjoy a good mad lib and that’s a fun game for everyone in the car.

At times, we resort to the tried-and-true car games – license plates from A-Z, “owning” animals on your side of the car window and one that my sister-in-law taught us with the alphabet sentences and alliteration: Auntie Arrived Already, Brad Bothers Babies, etc. The kids giggle away at those as they come up with their own.

Then, especially this time of the year, it becomes dark but it’s not anywhere near bedtime. The electronics come out, the headphones go in and peace overcomes the car ride, only to be interrupted with “I can’t find my movie case” or “When are we stopping for a restroom?” Chargers, cords and headphone wires aplenty when it’s times four but well worth it when everyone is seated in front of their glowing monitors.

And the golden rule of traveling with kids (which mine still don’t always do but quickly learn a lesson): when you stop (at an airport, hotel or restaurant), plug it in and charge it up.

Good luck out there on the open road.

Categories: Me and my family, Travel with kids | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Under construction: The Sheraton New Orleans

If you stay at the Sheraton in New Orleans in late 2012, they’ll tell you when you check in that construction will happen between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Some of the rooms available are newly renovated and some are renovations-in-waiting, one of which I stayed in.

Sheraton New OrleansOverall, the hotel and conference areas are an ideal location. Right on Canal Street, in easy walking to the sites and sounds that New Orleans is known for, the Sheraton towers above most buildings and faces the Marriott.

I didn’t make it to the pool or workout area but when I walked by, fitness enthusiasts were all full steam ahead in a brightly lit and clean area.Sheraton shower

The Pelican bar, in the lobby, is an open, airy place where you can grab a drink, see a game on a giant projector screen and get a bite from a bar menu. I had the four-cheese pizza, of which I was only able to tackle a portion.

I was in a to-be remodeled room and I could immediately see why they are under construction. After choosing the “green choice” for room service, I was dismayed to find that the bathtub faucet had a persistent drip that I could not stop. The showerhead was detaching from the wall and sprayed like a sprinkler when turned on. Based on the noise level during the day, the room is in line to be refurbished very soon.

Rooms at Sheraton New OrleansBut oh, what a view. When these rooms are completed, it will be a perfect place to stay in the Crescent City. The floor-to-ceiling windows look directly over Canal Street and at times you can hear the sounds of jazz drifting up.Canal Street New Orleans

I walked many places while here – along the river, to the quarter and to some indulgent restaurants. The Sheraton New Orleans is a central location and would be great for couples and families visiting the city. The Starbucks in the lobby gives you the boost you need in the morning, as well as the in-room coffee service that also has Starbucks.

Categories: Family Friendly Resorts, Travel with kids | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Going to New Orleans and eating burger is like …

New Orleans is a great place to indulge – the coffee, the beignets, the booze, the food – almost too many options but really something for every kind of taste.

Going to New Orleans and eating burger is like … well, it’s actually a really good idea if you head to a restaurant expecting to order seafood only to see the majority of Foursquare tips directing you to the best burger in New Orleans.

Oyster bar at Luke Restaurant New OrleansWalking into Luke, a chef John Besh restaurant in New Orleans, one of the first things you see is the Oyster Bar, full of fresh seafood and you begin to imagine the choices on the menu.

And you check in on Foursquare. Then suddenly, you have a craving for a burger.

From the menu description, the lüke burger is Allan Benton’s bacon, caramelized onions, tomatoes, Emmenthaler Swiss cheese with house-made fries.Luke burger New Orleans

The bun was an onion roll and in order to make room for the deliciousness, I took off half of the bun to make room for the main course. It did not disappoint. The bacon was smoky, the burger had a fantastic grilled flavor and even the fries were perfectly crispy. My companion, who I was at a conference with, had the pork chop, which was the nightly special, and said it was a crime that she couldn’t finish all of it.

We didn’t have room for dessert but all indications pointed to the bread pudding. The couple dining next to us shared one and cleaned the plate.

So when in New Orleans, it’s always a good idea to try the oysters, but at Luke, it’s OK to give the burger a go. You won’t regret it.

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Being the Cool Mom for a day

Sometimes, you are the mean mom, like when you spend a full Saturday morning and most of the afternoon cleaning every inch of your daughter’s room and ask her repeatedly “Keep?”  “Are you sure you’re going to play/use/wear this?”

But when it’s all said and done and you leave with three large bags of stuff and the floor is so clean that she has enough room to do a cartwheel, you’re not the bad guy anymore.

And when the rest of your evening involves a trip to see your heroes, suddenly you are the cool mom.

My daughter, who turned 8 this fall, was like thousands of other girls across the U.S. this summer as she sat and watched with open jaw the women’s Olympic gymnastics team. I offhandedly said “We should go see them if they go on a tour.”

Recently, she has been carrying around a couple of trading cards of Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas that she found in her brother’s Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. She asked me if the gymnasts were coming.

I did a quick search and – yikes – they were coming the following week! Tickets had been on sale for months but I was able to get two pretty good tickets and for once we had an open weekend.

Olympic Gymnasts at The Palace of Auburn HillsWe traveled the hour and a half to The Palace of Auburn Hills for the Kellogg’s Tour of Champions and my daughter was giddy with excitement – bubbling and bouncing in her chair and waiting to get a glimpse of her heroes.

My daughter was completely thrilled with the experience. My only complaint is that the lighting was very dark for most of the performance. They had lasers, spotlights and colored lights and sometimes it was hard to see from a distance. I have to wonder how that played out for the fans in the upper bowls.

The men’s and women’s gymnasts were on hand, along with some entertainment in the form of a guy dressed up like a baby and performing funny stunts to get the crowd going.

My daughter had such an adrenaline rush that when it was over, she immediately said she wanted to go to bed. We got in the car, she handed me her glasses and said “don’t turn on the radio, I’m going to bed.”

I’d call that a successful event!

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