Victoria with Kids- the book!

Victoria with Kids I am so excited to share my news…I have written a book!!  Yes, you read that correctly, A BOOK!  And not just any book, but a book that is near and dear to my heart.  It’s a travel book, called Victoria with Kids- eat play shop.  Tag line, an essential guide for cool parents and their children.

This book is chock-a-block full of information.  The kind of family fun information that I am always seeking on any of our travels. Like:  What touristy stuff is worth doing?  Where are the playgroups?  Where is good to eat, but quick, but good??  Is there a playground near by? What about somewhere to shop??

Right?  That is the stuff you want to know.

So this book has that. It is broken down into neighborhoods, so parents can easily and immediately find the good stuff, and don’t have to waste precious time searching.

There is also write ups on beaches, little mini kid hikes, one day classes, and even date night ideas…and more!!  It’s perfect for families visiting us, or even grandparents that live here, but need so ideas (hint hint- dad).

It is available right now on Amazon and Ibooks as an e-book…coming to soon to print!

 

San Fran Part 2- Chinatown, Eating, Cable Cars & Eating!

We started the day with a noble plan, to go check out North Beach, in particular the Liguria Bakery- which is supposed to have the best foccocia bread in all the land.  It’s good to base a day around a food, right?

We hopped on the good old bus- which took us right to Washington Square- but alas, the bakery was closed! NO!!!!!!  Here we were, hungry, and obviously without a map and no idea where the rest of North Beach was…and no backup plan.  But leave it to Grandma, she just chatted up some other tourists in the area and they gave her their map.  Atta girl!

After that we set out on a walk through Chinatown and towards The Ferry Building.  Chinatown was what you would expect…BUSY and CRAZY…but it was cool.  Hudson liked looking at all the weird dried fish and other oddities.  Jeff liked the pork buns. And Hank liked the park we came across (I liked the pig tailed hobo doing arm curls with his duffle bag).

After that we cruised down the hill and hit up The Ferry Building, which is a big modern market housed in a giant old warehouse.  We had the ‘best coffee in San Fran’ at the Blue Bottle..which was really good.  We had a freakin’ delicious biscuit from these guys.  And we had some other good eats and walked across the Embarcadero to the playground where the kids burned off some steam.

After that we hopped on a cable-car and got hoisted up the hill and were privy to some pretty killer views.  Well worth the $6 each.

After that we got a cranky Hank home, napped him, and did the local park, and a pizza dinner at Delarosa in our hood.

So:  Fave things about San Fran so far:

  • Kids are everywhere
  • Playgrounds and green spaces are spread out throughout
  • Transit is easy
  • The buildings.  The buildings. THE BUILDINGS!
  • Mom Uniform:  lululemon type exercise outfit (with complete hair and makeup) complete with full on running shoes.
  • Non Mom Uniform:  See above
  • Food.  FOOD.  FOOD

We logged over 20,000 steps!  Wowza’s!  I can’t believe that Hudson can do this, it is AMAZING!

San Fran, Part 1

You know when you are researching an area, and you find NOTHING usefull. Well, that of course is what happened in San Fran. Googling Best Area’s To Stay San Fran with Kids…nothing. So finally I had to make a decision and book something. I booked a place on AirBnB in the Marina District. What I read about the Marina district is that it was a playgound for the hip folks with big bank accounts, packed with shops and restaurants. Sounds OK…right? Or OK enough.
BUT, let me tell you what Google should have told me about the Marina District with Kids:
This neighbourhood is CHARMING! Street after street of the quintessential colourful Victorian row houses complete with little potted gardens of fragrant jasmine.

We are 1 block down from Chestnut St, where there are at least four blocks cholkablock full of great restaurants, little cafes, boutiques and more. And when I say great restaurants, I mean it. We have not had a bad meal.

This place is buzzing with activity. So alive. People are out, and with their children. Every time we go to a restaurant, we are not the only ones with kids…it seems most people have them out (at least for the 5 O’Clock seating).

We are a few blocks from the ocean, with a view of the Golden Gate. We are a few blocks from the Palais of Fine Arts, which is so beautiful it hurts.

There is an AMAZING playground a few blocks away. We can walk up the hill to Union St for some more shopping & eating. It’s half an hour on foot away from Fisherman’s Wharf. The Bus comes right through to take you where ever.

There is a place called Suzy’s Cake’s, that RULES!

The Marina District is clean. It feels safe. The sidewalks are wide and stroller friendly. There are children’t botiques. There is a walgreens, for diapers and whatnot.

It is so PRETTY!!
Now, THAT is the information I should be able to find when I google San Francisco neighborhoods with Children.

Day 1
Wake up, get ready, head out the door and walk to fisherman’s wharf. On the way we stumble upon a great little farmer’s market. Eat a croissant. Carry on, skirting along the waterfront walkway of Fort Mason, with views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. Enter into the crazy mayhem tourist central of Fisherman’s Wharf. Poke around enjoying the sites and being total tourists. Eat some chowder in a bread bowl. Chase bubbles. Find a magnet with my name on it!!! Hop in grumpy old Italian man’s taxi to get whizzed home for nap time.
During Nap The Big One and I go out to hit the shops…shop, eat some donut holes, come home. Get the little one up, go find the park. Find an amazing playground where Hudson made friends with another Hudson. Played played played. This park is amazing. After that we went for dinner and had a good meal at a place called Dragon’s Well, which served non-gross Chinese food.  Get gelato. Go home, and relax in our great pad…GREAT DAY!

Because I have a pedometer I know we logged over 15,000 steps…which, means that little Hudson walked all that way too….what a guy!

Saturna Island

One of my main motivation’s for starting this blog was to write about places we go. I found it so helpful when I was away and would find a blog that would let me know about things to do with children for whatever area I was in.  It really cut the guess work out trying to figure out where to go!  So, here is a little post about our two days on Saturna.

Saturna is one of the Southern Gulf Islands.  It is accessible by boat from Victoria (Swartz Bay) or Vancouver (Tsawassen).  It took us just over an hour from Victoria to get there, and just over two hours to get home (it Island hops on the way back).  I would bring your car, as you will be doing a fair amount of driving to go check things out.

It would be ideal to get a pimp cabin when staying on Saturna. There is not a whole lot to do, so you will probably hang out at home a lot…so a great home base is important!  I have heard that the local’s like to keep their Island to themselves (not in an unfriendly way- they just don’t want gob’s of tourists)- so if you get a hot tip on a great place guard it!  There are a few listed here though…VRBO.

There are a few place’s to spend your money.  One is a nice little grocery/liquor store & cafe not to far from the harbour.  They have good baked goods and a pretty decent supply of produce as well as your main supplies.  In the summers there is a market here on Saturdays too.  Saturna Winery is a nice place for a walk, and they have a restaurant which is rumored to be quite good (however, it was closed both times we were there).  Down in the harbour is a pub, a little store where you can buy snacks, books or rent DVD’s.  There is also a converted bus cafe (Wild Thyme) that is well worth it.  They use local ingredients where possible and everything is DELICIOUS!

And that is about it!

But there are lot’s of outdoorsy things to do. On our first day we went to Boat Pass (in Winter Cove National Park)- it’s around a ten minute walk from the parking lot- with a pretty smooth trail that was stroller easy (until the last part- we just carried Hank from here).  It weaves beside the shore, and has boardwalks to get you over swamps!  Boat Pass is actually a really narrow channel between Saturna and another little island.  When the tide is right water whips through it creating a massive current. It’s pretty cool.  Sometimes you can watch boats navigating it (quickly).  Hudson loved it!

Another nice little trip is to East Point Park.  Again, a stroller appropriate walk- for the most part.  It is so picturesque here!  The golden wind swept point  juts  into the ocean, and from it you can watch the fishing boats come in, and often see seals bobbing about.  Here is also home of the  little Saturna Museum which has some neat artifacts.  A whale scull, some model ships, and some stories of the olden days. If you bramble down the cliffs you can go into the sandstone caves.  We played red light green light on the point and really ran Hudson well.

If you are feeling like walking on the wild side, you can head to the Campbell farm.  You might just see the heard of wild goats that roam around.  Those guys are beastly!  Pack a lunch and walk down to the beach.  This is a longer walk though and not stroller friendly- and there is a possibility that you are not supposed to be there. My dad just goes, and if he’s see’s anyone he asks if it’s ok…so far he has never been denied…

It’s also nice to just drive around and take in  the sea scape and country side.  There is a huge variety of homes.  Everything from richy rich vacation properties to crumbling hill-billy shacks.  There is lush of farm land, barren wind swept beaches, deep dark forests and sunny and sandy ocean front perfect for frolicking (man it’s cold though).  I’m sure there are boat and kayak rentals and things like that- but we didn’t explore any of these kind’s of things.

When we were there it was a pretty typical West Coast weather- periods of rain and lot’s of drizzle with the sun breaking out every so often.  In one of these sunny breaks we walked down the hill from our cabin and picked a whack of blackberries, and Hudson and my Dad made us all blackberry jam.  The way my dad makes jam is so nothing like the way I make jam.  I hover over the pot, stirring stirring stirring, and checking- rechecking the recipe.  Then stirring. Then worrying.  Then stirring stirring stirring. It’s fast and furious and a bit stressful.  But then my dad, he just put the berries in the pot with some sugar- gives it a stir, and goes and has breakfast while they are cooking.  Maybe he got up a couple times to check on it. Then he ambles over to the pot, declares it ready, and him and Hudson jarred it up (with sterilized jars of course).  I would NEVER let Hudson near the boiling sugar jam area.  But he was great…ahhhhh, my sweet dad!

 

Here is my Dad’s Mellow No Pectin Blackberry Jam Recipe:

  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 4 cups sugar

Put in pot, slowly let boil over a not too high a heat.  Stir a bit to keep from burning.  Cook it down for quite a while (20 minutes at least).  Then when it doesn’t come together when you fun your finger through a blob of it on a frozen plate it’s done.  Jar it in sterilized jars, and just let the heat from jam set the seal.  Listen for the pop pop pop, and you are done.  Maybe have some breakfast while you are doing this!

All in all Saturna is a great QUIET place to get away. It was really nice being there with other people (not just us).  Bring your car, bring food to feast on, bring your rain gear & your swim suite (you never know what you will get)…don’t stay too long if you have little kids, and go explore.

 

 

 

 

A List of Lovely Travel Tips (for your travels with children)


Hi!

Recently my Family and I went on a crazy month long trip through The Netherlands, Paris & London…you can read about it here…  2guysandus.blogspot.com While our Travels are still fresh in my mind I have composed a little tip list on traveling with kiddies.  I hope you find something in here that makes your next trip a little easier!!

Packing

Use packing cubes. We used ebags They are these great organizers for your suitcase (a set of smaller zip up bags that fit in your suitcase).  Everyone has their own cube  to load up.  We also had one for diapers and baby stuff, and one for chargers and other cords and cables.  They are great because if you need to find something in the suitcase you don’t need to rummage around and mess it all up, you just go into the cube that you need.

We used to travel with all of these carry on bags.  Hudson had his, I had a big purse, computer bag, diaper bag, and Jeff had a back pack. This is WAY too much stuff to carry, and keep track off, especially if you are changing planes.  My new and amazing solution is the diaper bag, and one carry on wheelie suitcase.  Baby stuff and food goes in the diaper bag, and the suitcase has everything else.  When you get to your seat just take out what you need (move on in) and then stow the suitcase up high.  You can even put all things that you need to take out for security in a travel cube at the top of the suitcase…then you won’t need to panic find everything to pull out   when the time comes to go through security.

If you have a formula fed baby bring a thermos of hot water and pre-portioned formula  (we used the Munchkin formula dispenser). Just  let them know at security that it’s for your baby. They may test the water, but they will let you though. For shorter flights make the water the perfect temperature, for longer flights make it piping hot, then add cold water when you mix.  Your thermos will last longer this way!

We bring food tubes for our little one. Convenient and easy.  We bring PB& J for our oldest.

Pack more snacks, diapers, and formula then you think you will need…we learned this during a five hour delay.
Pack a change of clothes in your carry on for you kid
Pack light. This is hard for sure…but you are the one who has to lug it all around. I literally brought four outfits for a month away. It actually made getting dressed really easy…no choice!  And you will buy things along the way (if you are anything like me).
At the Airport & on the Airplane
Arrive with plenty of time.  There is always the potential for problems, line ups, and other trickery. Best to be prepared and show up with time to spare.
Speaking of Security, I find this can be a crazy area of STRESS.  I have vowed just not be stressed at Security anymore…the people behind you can just deal with it while you organize you and your family through it.  If they are rolling their eyes, just slow down even more!!  It’s a bit fun to inwardly laugh at them!
If you are going on a long flight, Red-Eye is the way to go.  The kids will just sleep. You may not, but it will still be more restful then amusing a small child in two square feet for eight hours.
For our Europe flight Hank was flying as a Lap Baby, so I booked three of the four seats in the middle aisle (one for Jeff, Hudson and I), leaving a space between them.  I then hoped and prayed that no one would book this middle seat.  They did not- so we had an extra seat!  We brought Hank’s car seat and were able to use it on the flight…he just slept the whole night away.  It also helps if you book near the back of the plane.
For a back up plan we brought out breast-feeding pillow. http://www.mybrestfriend.com/products/travel-pillow  This one is inflatable so it will take up no room at all! We have used this on flights before- it has a nice flat surface and makes an ok place for the baby to sleep.
I also saw another mama flying with a toddler and a lap baby who booked two seats.  She brought the car seat and the baby sat in there, while the toddler sat on her lap.  I think this is a great way to go, especially for shorter flights. Keep in mind with this you cannot change the seating arrangement as there will be no where to put the car seat.
Bring UNO or some other compact game for older children. This will help whittle away the hours without taking up too much space.
Bring child size headphones for the inflight entertainment. The other ones will fall out of their little ears- and be a great annoyance to them (and in turn you).
Bring a baby carrier (if you have a baby).  It make for hands free getting on and off the plane, which is great.  Also if you don’t end up with an extra seat the baby can usually sleep in it.  We used the Travel Ergo- it folded up into a little pouch and was great.

Your Destination:
I highly recommend getting a vacation rental, or a place on airbnb.com.  This way you are not stuck in one room with your kids. You have more room to spread out, and you can book a place that has toys!  New toys will always keep kids occupied for a while- leaving you with some of your own time (hello wine & internet).  Better yet do a House Swap.  Then it’s all free!
Research the area you are staying. In Paris we stayed way too far from everything.  This meant a ten minute walk to the metro, plus a twenty minute metro ride…this is too far and soured our trip. It is worth it to pay a little more and stay in a great area.
Get recommendations from people who have been where you are going- especially if they went with their little ones.  Then you will know where all the cool places that are up your ally are. You won’t be wasting valuable time searching them out.
Don’t cram to  much in.  Your kids won’t like it, and then in turn, neither will you.  Do one main thing a day, then go the park, have a picnic, hang out in your nice place your painstakingly chose and relax.  Everyone will be happier!
A place with a pool is a god send. Especially if your Husband/Travel Partner will play with the kids in the water all day while you swan around eating chips and reading your book!
Bring a good quality travel stroller.  We brought a really crappy sit and stand (Hudson does better on long days if he doesn’t have to walk for hours).  It was heavy and hard to push on the cobbled streets of Europe.  Maybe if we had been at Disneyland it would have been ok. In hindsight I would have brought our good stroller from home with the little standing board on the back.  I guess just think about where you are going. You may be up against bad strolling conditions…so you want your stroller to be up to the task.
Know where the hospital or clinic is and have a bit of an emergency plan.  You never know.

Do you have any tips on travel?? I’d love to hear them!!

my travel must-haves