Category Archives: travel

iBat’s USA Road Trip

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Travelling with a favorite toy and photographing it in front of various landmarks, began as a totally off the wall idea known as the travelling gnome. It originated in Australia in the 1980’s, and is now firmly entrenched in popular culture. I first came across it in the quirky little french film Amélie, and I’ve been dying to do it ever since. Adults may have come up with this idea, but it has plenty of kid appeal. All you need is a toy and a camera.

Since garden gnomes are a bit cumbersome to lug around, we invited our temperamental little friend, iBat, to join us on our USA road trip, where we travelled from Toronto to Florida and back in just under three weeks. We stayed in ten different cities, with plenty of pit stops along the way, and a nice lengthy stay near Hogwarts. iBat was thrilled to come along, but returned home sulking because I forgot to photograph him at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Philadelphia. He was right there, hanging off the back of my purse, but I just plain forgot about the little guy, and snapped a ton of shots – without him.

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Stone Mementos

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A stone collected and brought home from a holiday, serves as a wonderful reminder of that time and place. Even stones from day trips and local adventures to forests and beaches, can turn up specimens worthy of being pocketed and brought home. It’s a nice idea for children, who can line them up and stack them along their windowsill, while thinking back on their adventures.

I’ll be looking for some new stones to add to my collection, as we head off on a road trip to Hogwarts. I’m quite possibly more excited than my kids, and can’t wait to visit the Leaky Cauldron, and enjoy a nice cold glass of Butterbeer. Cheers and happy summer to all of you!

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Stalling For Time…With A Few Photos Of France

That pretty much captures how I felt about coming home from a wonderful holiday in France. I can’t seem to yank my head out of holiday mode despite reality inducing activities such as laundry and work, so until I get my act together and make some projects, I thought I’d share a few photos with you. This desperate looking creature resides on the magnificent front façade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Continue reading

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Recalculating…

We’re off on our summer vacation, and by this time tomorrow, would have already been bossed around for several hours by our GPS – tolerable if you repeatedly tell it to shut up, and your final destination is the french countryside. I will find my way back to post early August, and wish you all an amazing summer!

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Museum Visits With Children

Making amends with ice cream in Paris.

A wonderful part of traveling involves visiting museums, art galleries, and historical sites. My children know that any whining to the contrary will only lead to one of my preachy, long winded explanations about how these places offer a way of delving into the history of another culture, and a myriad of other benefits. This is usually met with glazed eyes rolling about their little sockets, and eventual, grudging compliance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not standing there with a whip and guide book expecting my kids to recite dates at the end of their visit, I’m just hoping for a positive attitude and an openness to experiencing something new. And while this happens more often because they are older, for many kids, places like museums are synonymous with slow motion walking through endless spaces looking at old artifacts that can’t be touched. Where’s the fun?

The solution? Change your expectations so your children won’t look at these visits with dread. I now allow my kids to set the pace and roam freely, hoping their self-directed tour will encourage a little more curiosity because it’s on their terms. They don’t have to look at every single thing in every single room. They don’t even have to read the information cards posted on the walls. If they want to walk around with us and are inspired to talk about what they see, they can. If they choose to go through at break-neck speed, ending up at the gift shop, that’s fine too. I know these visits will somehow inspire them and enrich their lives. Persevere I say, because despite the scowls and expressions of pain, there are breakthrough moments that put a smile on your face, and assure you that it’s all worthwhile.

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Travel Collages

I’m back from quite the adventure. Turkey is truly a visual feast, filled with warm, friendly people and breathtaking views. We’ve poured over our photographs and souvenirs (no mugs), and come to the conclusion that trip collages are a wonderful way for children to remember  special moments such as these.

Embarking on your journey with your collage in mind is the best plan. Have children collect things along the way which they can easily bring back. This can include boarding passes, ticket stubs from entrances to museums or historical sites, receipts from purchases, labels from products used, maps, newspapers and so on. Once home, you can even print up some of your favourite photos to include in your work.

Looking at my daughter’s collage above, you can get a sense of her experience in Turkey. It was extremely hot so she chose to include a weather report from a newspaper; maps showing places we stayed and streets we favoured; ticket stubs recording our visits to memorable sites and museums; colouful images of mosques, graffiti and  the Grand Bazaar  combined with cloudless skies and endless sea. And of course there is the ubiquitous blue amulet which is believed to protect against the evil eye, sold in every possible form imaginable. She has chosen to spare us images of the topless granny on the beach, or photos of the thousands of feral cats that roam the streets in the intense heat. Did I mention it was hot?

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A Blinding Moment of Insight

“The time has come, my little friends, to talk of other things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and…” kids and traveling with them.

You’ve probably witnessed that uncontrollable urge children develop to purchase cheap looking, overpriced tourist trinkets while on vacation. As a matter of fact there’s no need to even leave town. Why a trip to the zoo will trigger the same behaviour, as will a visit to Wonderland, or an afternoon at Harbourfront, but I digress. Eiffel Tower keychains and I love Barcelona mugs are cute when you’re just starting out on your travels en famille, less so when you’ve been at it for years, and are craving a nicely designed set of matching mugs that don’t profess to love any city in particular.

My attempt to quash this evil habit, nip it in the bud, so to speak began with a blinding moment of insight: I proposed to my children the idea of starting a collection. My goal was to focus their energy and money on something more meaningful, and while I knew we couldn’t entirely eliminate visits to the many tourist traps along the way, we could certainly reduce the number. I think what sold them on the idea was the thrill of the hunt, and how each item they added would have its own story. My daughter now collects perfume bottles and pins, while my son has opted for…knives. Talk about a great idea backfiring. At times I have felt more like an arms dealer than a tourist, coming back from our vacations with knives tucked in my suitcase amongst my socks and undies. I’m sure it’s just a phase. I’m hoping it’s just a phase. I’m sure it will pass. Soon.

While collections are often abandoned, it’s worth stowing them away in the far reaches of your closet. My postcard collection started on a backpacking trip through Europe, and continued for years before it was shelved and ignored; probably because I could finally afford to buy something more interesting. I’m glad I kept it though, for all the memories it awakens of  incredible moments and hilarious adventures. I wish the same for my kids.

I’m leaving shortly on a long-awaited family vacation to Turkey and will not be posting for a few weeks. I will practice what I preach and return home with some wonderful memories, lots of arts and crafts ideas, a few pins and a few knives, but no I Love Istanbul mugs. Ciao!

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