Archive for the ‘Traveling With Kids’ Category

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

classic play goes to istanbul

Next week, you may notice things being fairly quiet around here. Why? Because, I’ll be in Istanbul. It feels surreal to say that. I’ve known about it for some time but haven’t really allowed myself to get too excited about it, although every now and then a rush of giddiness breaks through. I’ve never been good at being cool.

It’s a working trip. I’m actually going as Dave’s production assistant. For the past week, he’s been in Mumbai filming. Then he flies to Istanbul, where I’ll meet him to help him film the second leg of the project. How romantic does that sound?! Obviously, I’m living someone else’s life right now. Surely, this is not mine.

Anyway, if you’ve been, any must sees I should put on my list? I’ll try to instagram while I’m there! It’s one of the few times I’ll actually have something interesting to instagram. ;)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 10 Comments »

Traveling With Kids | Your Kids Will Flip Over These Hotels with a Twist

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

hotels with a twist
The other day I was thinking about the fact that my twin daughters are about to turn 12 years old. I then started doing some mental math on how many years of school they have left which lead me to figure out how many more Christmas and summer vacations we have together as a family before they leave for university. Warning: I would not advise any of you do this. The shock of finding out how few years we have left as a family all living under one roof, started me thinking about how to make the coming years the best that I can. And since we’re a family who loves to travel, I began considering ways to make our trips even more exciting and memorable.

All this is a convoluted way of explaining how I got the idea for this month’s travel column focusing on some of the world’s coolest and most interesting accommodations. Accommodations such as these could add adventure and excitement to any trip. I know my kids would be ecstatic to stay in any one of these places (even if they might be a tad less comfortable for us parents). But hey, it’s worth it for the sake of family memories and I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t love to do something a little out of the norm. Staying in any of these places certainly would give them impressive stories to share with their friends when they get home. (more…)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 8 Comments »

Traveling with Kids | Venice

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

travel: venice

This past Christmas was one of the first times we decided to stay in Italy and spend the holidays in our own home. Although we really missed our families in Belgium and Canada, we ended up having a lovely two weeks lazing around in our pyjamas, geocaching in the local surroundings and visiting the iconic city of Venice for a few days.

view over venice

When we decided to visit Venice we had quite a few different reactions from our Italian friends. Some said Christmas in Venice is triste (sad). Others said it would be frigido (frigid). Then some remarked Christmas in Venice is favoloso (wonderful). In the end, it was one of those three things. Luckily for us, it was absolutely favoloso. And here was a pleasant surprise for us, the days between Christmas and New Year are considered low season, so although there were indeed tons of people, it was considerably less than usual. (more…)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 7 Comments »

Traveling with Kids | Geocaching

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014


First, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful, healthy and happy 2014. Hopefully it will also be a year filled with wonderful travel experiences for you and your families. I am already busy planning our trips for 2014 and excited to share lots of my new travel-related experiences, stories and tips throughout the year.

Today I wanted to kick off the Traveling With Kids column by writing all about our new favourite family hobby, geocaching. We may be latecomers to hop on the geocaching bandwagon but we are seriously hooked and have become their biggest promoter. The fact that it’s something we can do both at home and while traveling is icing on the cake.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with geocaching, it is a recreational outdoor activity that involves hunting for and finding hidden objects with the help of GPS coordinates and/or smart phones. The official geocaching site refers to it as a “real-world treasure hunt with over 2 million active geocaches and 6 million geocachers worldwide.”

Caches (the treasure sought) are usually to be found in airtight containers such as old film roll canisters or even Tupperware. Inside the containers, which are categorized in three different sizes, there is always a miniature log book/paper for you to log yourself into as well as to see who else has been there. The caches can be hidden in stone walls, tucked under branches or rocks, inside trees, strategically placed on ledges or in any little spot that is safe from the weather or people mistaking it for litter. There are some that are quick and easy to find and others that you’ll spend ages searching for and not find (and that will keep you up at night thinking WHERE COULD IT BE?!). To get started you simply have to register a free account with the official geocaching website and download the free mobile App . These will give you access to the whereabouts (locations) of almost all of the hidden cashes in your area as well as around the world (this is where geocaching can tie into your family travel).

Today I wanted to share our top reasons to become a Geocaching Family: (more…)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 12 Comments »

Corrections + Criticism

Saturday, November 16th, 2013


In my many years of blogging, I have been lucky enough to avoid certain ‘helpful’ comments like, “you suck!” Well, that golden age came to an end last week with our most recent episode for Adventures in Learning.

Apparently, we got everything wrong. It was made clear when our video was posted on a Moroccan expat site in the Netherlands. People flooded youtube with helpful comments:

lizrdski who rocked the ironic air quotes with this:
“white people”

Lizzio1980 who chimed in:
You call that Cous Cous? When your doing this actually a women who can cook.

and Nicolas DOLO who added,
Truly believe those kids have learned as much about real Morocco as I do about the USA whenever I open a box of Corn Flakes. It’s pretty pathetic at best.

And things didn’t stop there. The comments came over to the Adventures in Learning page itself. Fadoua wrote:

…and your couscous is not cooked correctly. Same as the harira.
so to not offend other people’s culture, you should try to learn more about the country
before trying to teach someone or something…

and Nadia wrote:

…we have one of the best cooking in the world you re not teaching the true about country we know people by traveling and living with them

Now, here’s the thing about making short videos: we are condensing an entire day into four minutes. We are telling the story we think needs to be told. It is not the story of a country. Instead, what we present are nuggets of an idea on which parents can expand.

The criticism has hounded me for days. At first I was angry. How could all these people miss the point entirely? Then, I felt terrible that I offended people. My anxiety kicked into high gear and I wanted to crawl inside a hole. Now, I’m just tired. Tired and ready to move on.

Before I do though, I need to get something off my chest. For all of those who commented, a response:

First, this is not a cooking show, but a series to encourage families to make learning more adventurous. Second, we sat on the floor because our coffee table in the living room was too small to hold our plates so we improvised and put them on the floor. It never crossed our minds this would be offensive. Thank you for clarifying Moroccans do not eat on the floor, they eat at a small table. However, I assure you we would have done the same if we had cooked Italian, French, Indian or any other variety of cuisine.

And you’re absolutely correct—what we did is not nearly as effective a lesson as traveling and living among a people in their country. I would absolutely have LOVED if we had the money to travel to different countries and live among different people. Since that is not possible, this was our way of trying to expand our children’s world view.

Now, I suppose I could have avoided trying to teach my kids anything altogether since I’m not an expert in Morocco. You’re right about that. But my kids walked away from this experience thinking that they had things in common with kids in Morocco (their love of mint tea, that they study some of the same things, that they play video games just like them) and to me, that’s more powerful than knowing how to make couscous correctly (steamed, not soaked and fluffed several times so that it’s light and fluffy).

I imagine what upset you most is that my kids didn’t seem to like the food. I’m sure it’s the same for kids all around the world—they are used to what they eat, and when they are given another culture’s food, they don’t necessarily care for it at first. It’s not that the food is bad, it’s that they aren’t used to it.

I’m sorry for anything we got wrong and that you didn’t care for this episode. My goal for this video wasn’t to capture the entirety of a culture in four minutes, but to give parents ideas for helping them introduce their children to the great big world around them even if they have a limited budget and resources.

And now, it’s time to move on.

Posted in Adventuring, Traveling With Kids | 29 Comments »

Traveling With Kids | 100 Memories List

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

100 Memories List for Traveling

One of the first things that my kids do when we arrive back from a long trip is our traditional 100 Memories List. This list has become an important part of the way our family holds and remembers the big and little details of our trips around the world.

The 100 Memories List is something my children learned from my mother who has been making memory lists since she was a little girl. And ever since my mother has been visiting us in Italy she has involved the kids in helping her compile her memory lists of their time spent together. It has become a special way to end her trips and gives the kids something to look over after the inevitable difficult good-byes.

And over the years the kids have slowly begun the tradition of making these lists after our own trips. Sometimes we work on one all together and sometimes we each make individual ones and compare what memories were important enough to make each person’s list.

And you’d be amazed at what details actually show up on these lists. The places visited, the people met, the food eaten, the strange observations made and even many little funny details that normally would most likely be forgotten if not written down soon after the trip.

I love reading back over these lists from years past and am always pleasantly surprised and reminded of many little “forgotten memories” that are triggered by a few words.

Does your family have any special way of recording memories of your trips and travels? I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 13 Comments »

Traveling with Kids | South Shore, Nova Scotia

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

what to see when visiting Novia Scotia

Hello everybody! Hope you all had a brilliant summer full of lots of new and memorable travel experiences with your families. Whether it was traveling to the other side of the world or discovering new places where you live I’m sure lifetime memories were made for everyone involved.

We had an excellent and very busy summer. We visited lots of lovely places here in Italy as well as taking a big trip to Canada. The kids were both sad and excited last week when we celebrated our last day of summer vacation before starting the school year. We’re already mentally planning and brainstorming travel ideas for next summer. That’s just how we roll in this family.

Today I wanted to write a bit about our time on the South Shore of my hometown province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is one of the three Maritime provinces in Eastern Canada and easily accessible by plane (Halifax International Airport), car or even ferry boat. I’ll be honest from the beginning and let you know that I’ll most likely be waxing on about how beautiful, picturesque and idyllic a family travel destination it is. A girl can be proud of where she’s from, right? (more…)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 9 Comments »

Traveling with Kids | Walt Disney World

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

family guide to walt disney world

photography by Dave Cooper

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? We spent 8 days exploring all 6 parks—that’s right, we even did the water parks. I took my notepad, talked to other Disney goers (and even some staff/Cast Members). Here are all the things we loved and think you’ll love too.

Oh and by the way, I may write for Disney’s Spoonful but I was not commissioned to write this and did not receive any payment, complimentary tickets or anything else for this post. Although, I wish I did. That would have been amazing!

Jen, I gotta ask, why Disney?

Good question. Dave and I have gotten it quite a bit. Especially from friends who’ve heard us wax poetic about our past vacations to the Outer Banks. And to be honest, I kind of had to talk Dave into Disney. He was hoping for something more laid back.

But the time was right—we had the money (miraculously) and the kids were the perfect ages. They were old enough to remember everything and young enough to still enjoy hanging out with Mom and Dad all day.

family guide to disney world

Plus, we looked at other options and were priced out. Any dreams of Europe or exotic tropical islands would have to wait. And hey, it’s Disney! We knew it’d be a fantastic and memorable experience.

Are your kids huge fans of the characters? (more…)

Posted in Traveling With Kids | 15 Comments »