Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brave the Beach: Great Travel Innovations!

Summer is just around the corner, and what better place to enjoy some sun and fun with the family than the beach?  But before you head out, we've found some amazing innovations that can make your trip safer and easier - don't miss these great sanity-savers!

Ear Band-It System: If your child is prone to ear infections, or has tubes in his or her ears, this product is a must-have! The Ear Band-It System includes one pair of safe, putty-like ear plugs, which (once placed in your child's ears) are covered and held in position by the stretchy headband, keeping water out of the ear canal. The Ear Band-It comes in sizes to accommodate children as young as 1 year of age through adults.

UV SunSense Wristbands: Now there's no more guessing or forgetting! These wristbands change color when it's time to reapply sunscreen or even seek shade. Each time during the day that you apply sunscreen to your child, just coat the UV wristband, too. Bands are adjustable, waterproof, and disposable, and work with sunscreens SPF 15 and higher. Sun monitors are sensitive to both UVA and UVB rays and are for use with children ages 12 months and up!

Wet Bags (by Monkey Foot Designs):  Beyond being stylish accessories, these multi-functional bags are perfect for everything from cloth diapers to swimsuits, wet towels, shoes, toiletries and so much more! The bags are lined with ProCare, a fabric that is known for its high duty barrier protection. The liner is seamed and sealed, so the wettest things won't drip, and the stinkiest stinks will be contained!  Monkey Foot Wet Bags can be machine washed and dried (although the ProCare lining will last longer if air dried) and come in an ever-changing variety of beautiful fabrics in sizes ranging from XS (snack size) to XL (holds up to two wet towels, and three bathing suits)!

Sand-Away Beach Bag (by One Step Ahead): Bring back everything but the sand! This giant mesh bag holds all your beach toys, and gear, yet folds down into a small self-contained pouch. At the end of the day, just pack up your beach stuff, give the beach tote a good shake, and leave the sand at the beach!  Featuring handy hook and loop closures and a zippered security pocket, it is also perfect as an eco-friendly shopping bag!

Happy shopping and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Destination: Pioneer Valley, MA!

"Arrive curious.  Leave inspired!"  It's more than just four words that pique the curiosity of the listener; it's the catchphrase for Pioneer Valley, MA!  Located in western Massachusetts, Pioneer Valley is comprised of a group of closely knit towns, including: Springfield, Northampton, and Amherst (among others!).  The area is rich not only in beautiful scenery (particularly in the fall!), but also in great family-friendly museums and attractions!  Below are some of our favorites!

Featuring a variety of exotic animals, this zoo appeals to visitors of every age!  The Zoo in Forest Park hosts a variety of different events almost every weekend, allowing guests to explore all aspects of science, while having a good time!  Few people realize that a young Theodor Seuss Geisel regularly called the zoo his playground and that his father was actually a parks commissioner in charge of the Forest Park Zoo in the early 1900's!  Hours of operation are seasonal, so be sure to consult their website before planning a visit! Celebrate nature's diversity, check out the Zoo at Forest Park!

One of a collection of five of Springfield's world-class museums, the Springfield Science Museum is a wonderland for toddlers and young children - particularly those with an interest in dinosaurs or space! With giant replicas of dinosaur skeletons, touchable fossils, and a cast of a sauropod footprint that children are welcome to climb into, Dinosaur Hall is a crowd pleaser! The Seymour Planetarium offers breathtaking shows about the wonders of the night skies!  Events and exhibits are subject to seasonal availability - so be sure to check their website for information before planning a visit!

photo courtesy of Steve Alexander
Located in the quadrangle between the Springfield Science Museum and the other Springfield museums, is a tribute to one of America's most beloved storytellers, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to most of us as Dr. Seuss. A Springfield native, Dr. Seuss has been immortalized in bronze along with many of his most well-known and loved characters!  Sculpted by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates (Geisel's step-daughter), these towering tributes are as inspiring to parents as they are to children! The sculpture garden is open daily 9am-5pm.

Founded in part by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art, conceived and built with the aim of celebrating the art that we are first exposed to as children. The Museum houses three galleries dedicated to rotating exhibitions of picture book art, a hands-on Art Studio, a Reading Library, an Auditorium, a popular Cafe, and a Museum Shop (check out the great virtual tour!).  Hours of operation vary by day, so be sure to consult their website before planning a visit! 

With everything from fantastic kid-friendly attractions to fascinating arts and culture - Greater Springfield, Northampton, Amherst and the Pioneer Valley is filled with family fun!  Happy Travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preparing Your Little Traveller!

Travel can be exciting, and sharing the adventure with your child(ren) can make it that much more fun!  But while adults generally have some idea of what will happen on a journey, to many young children travel may be a bit intimidating.  Preparing young travellers for an upcoming adventure can go a long way toward helping them get excited for the journey and enjoying the experience!

Air, water, or rail travel can be unnerving to a child who has never experienced the sounds, vibrations, and motions that adults can take for granted.  Take some time to show your child a model (or the real thing if it is locally available for viewing!) of whatever mode of transportation you will be using.  Discuss what they can expect, keeping things simple and offering them reassurance that you will be with them at all times and that there is nothing they need to be fearful of.

A few weeks before you hit the road, try to get your little adventurers excited about the place you're about to visit. Check out documentaries, maps, books, newspapers, folk tales, advertisements, music; whatever is appropriate. Try not to make it seem like a chore, but rather a journey of it's own that will give them a chance to determine what they'd like to see or do when they actually arrive! 

Picture books or videos can offer a world of information about your vacation destination, as can magazine or Internet photos of local sights they may see! If your children are old enough you can even make a game of looking at the images - asking questions such as "what do you think you can hear (or see or smell) from this spot?" If you can acquire images of actual places you are visiting, it can be great fun to bring them and try to navigate to the exact spot to experience it as a family!

Finally, the journey doesn't have to end when the trip comes to its inevitable conclusion - memories and impressions from the adventure can last a lifetime!  Encourage older children to keep or create a travel journal chronicling their impressions of the places they visited - it doesn't have to be more than a sentence here or there, just something that will remind them of what they saw and experienced.  Young children can do likewise by capturing a favorite spot or activity in a drawing!

A little planning can truly make a big difference when it comes to travelling with children. The few extra minutes you devote to introducing them to what they will be experiencing can help prevent meltdowns, panic, and worry, and the time spent exploring your vacation destination beforehand can enrich the exploration upon arrival! 

Happy Travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boutique of the Week: Twilight Moon!

For all those who have exhausted and frustrated themselves looking for that perfect, unique baby gift - your search is at its end; our pick for Boutique of the Week has got items you won't find anywhere else! Forget surrendering yet again to the siren song of a mega-store gift card and check out Twilite Moon

Featuring an extensive line of gear, furniture, toys, books, and baby and maternity apparel, Twilite Moon is the premier provider of everything innovative for "inspiring, nurturing, and celebrating life with baby!" By distilling the world of baby and child merchandise into a fabulous selection of only the best and most unique items available, Twilite Moon has done the shopping legwork for you!  Their easy-to-navigate online shop offers something for every curious visitor: from eco-friendly nursery furniture, organic skincare, bedding and clothing options to the latest and greatest in travel and safety gear (even items just for Dad!). They even offer an online gift registry and a paper catalog by request!

In addition to their fantastic selection of merchandise, Twilite Moon is dedicated to giving back to the community by enriching the lives of children all over the world.  To that end, they offer a line of body suits and tee-shirts by tea collection's Global Fund for Children (GFC); one-hundred percent of proceeds from each GFC sale is donated to the Global Fund for Children whose grants benefit grassroots organizations that advance the dignity of young people around the world through education.  In addition, Twilite Moon also recently donated almost one-quarter of a million dollars in merchandise to the Santa Barbara Birth Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing complete midwifery care to all women with low-risk pregnancies.

For their dedication to the global community of families, their unique and stylish selection of merchandise, and their elegant and easy-to-navigate online storefront, Travel-Tot is proud to recognize Twilite Moon as our Boutique of the Week!  Happy shopping!

- Destination Mom