Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2 Great, Cheap Travel Apps!

If there is one thing that can make travel more fun and simple, it's a great app! But with the whole, wide world of apps, how can you find the best ones without spending a fortune? We've got two (for under two dollars!) that just can't miss; so if you're heading out this summer, download one of these fantastic apps - you'll be glad you did!
  • Tripit - This fantastic travel organizer links with your email and makes it seamless for you to keep all of your information in one place. Flights, hotels, dinner reservations, tours,car service, etc.  Cost: FREE!
  • Allsubway - Boasts subway maps for 137 of the world’s most visited cities, the essential tourist's guide to public transportation. Cost: a mere $1.29!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Safety: 4 Lifesaving Recommendations!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
We all know that summer is a great time to get out and have some fun!  What you may not be aware of, however, is that summer is marked by a dramatic increase in accidental injuries and deaths among young children (aged 14 and under).  Data collected by Safe Kids Worldwide demonstrates that during summer months there is a marked increase in unintentional injury-related deaths attributed to drowning, biking, falls, and motor vehicle occupant activities among young children. 

The following guidelines and tips can help prevent such tragedies by reducing the likelihood of serious or fatal injury:

Water Safety

General: Always actively supervise children near water.  Begin teaching children to swim at age 4.  Teach children never to swim alone and never to dive into water less than 9-feet deep.  Obey all posted safety precautions at beaches and pools.

Pools: All pools should have a locking, gated, 4-sided isolation fence (preferably one that affords visual access, i.e. fine wire- or poly-mesh, wrought iron, etc.)  Door alarms, pool alarms, anti-entrapment devices and pool covers can also provide an additional layer of protection when used properly.

Open Water and Boats: Be sure children are equipped with appropriately sized life jackets approved by the U.S. Coast Guard when on boats, near open bodies of water, or when participating in water sports. 

Bicycle/Scooter/Skateboard Safety

General:  Make sure children wear snug, properly-fitting helmets at all times when biking or riding scooters or skateboards.  Be sure children are using properly sized equipment (i.e. on a bicycle, your child's feet should touch the ground when they are sitting on the seat).  Teach children the rules of the road and be sure they obey all traffic laws.  Be a good example; when riding be sure you always wear a helmet and demonstrate proper etiquette and obey the law and all posted regulations.

Fall Prevention

Windows: Keep chairs, cribs, changing tables and other furniture away from windows. Install window guards on all windows above the first floor.  Don’t allow children to play on balconies, roofs, or near open windows.

Playgrounds: Actively supervise children at playgrounds.  Make sure they use only age-appropriate equipment.  Be sure playgrounds have soft-surface coverings (i.e. rubber, hardwood fiber mulch or fine sand) at least 12 inches deep, extending a minimum of six feet in all directions around the equipment.

Sports: Make sure kids wear appropriate protective gear, properly fitted when practicing and playing sports.

Motor Vehicle Safety

Car Seat Safety: Properly restrain all children ages 12 and under in a back seat on every ride.  Secure infants in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, and at least until they are 12 months old and weigh 20 pounds.  Secure children who weigh between 20 and 40 pounds in forward-facing car seats.  Secure children over 40 pounds in belt-positioning booster seats until an adult seat belt fits properly (at least 4' 9" tall and 80 to 100 pounds, for most children that's between ages 8 and 12).

Driveway/Garage Safety: Walk all the way around a parked vehicle to check for children before entering a car and starting the motor.  Toys should not be kept near parked cars as they can lure a child into a driver’s blind spot.

Entrapment/Heat Stroke/Suffocation: Never leave a child unattended in a car, even if the windows are open. Always keep your car locked.  Keep automobile keys out of children's reach and sight.  Make sure vehicle trunks are locked at all times. Keep rear fold-down seats closed so kids won't crawl into the trunk.  Have your car retrofitted with a release mechanism inside the trunk.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy summer! 
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tips for Successfully Traveling with a Group!

Thinking of travelling with another family or other adults? Before you go, take some time to discuss these important details together:

  • Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    what each person wants to get out of the trip (i.e., activities, sites  to visit, cuisines enjoyed, etc.)
  • how chores and childcare will be divided
  • how you'd like to balance spending time, together and apart
  • how you'll split the bills (best to discuss this way before the trip is finalized so that everyone's financial situation is accommodated and no one feels like they need to overspend!)

A simple discussion beforehand can help ensure that your trip is enjoyable and that everyone knows what to expect up front!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

For all our amazing Dads - know that when we count our blessings, we count you twice! 
Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kidecals: The Verdict Is In!

Image modified to protect privacy
Last week, we featured a great little company called Kidecals, and I mentioned that I had placed an order and would report back once I'd had a chance to use the product first-hand.  Well, I am very excited to report that my order arrived early yesterday morning, so I've had two days to play with them! 

To start with, the labels were even more beautiful than I had anticipated! I chose a simple round design with our family's initial in the center and then our contact information around the outer edge (see image at right - I put the white ring over my family's contact info for privacy purposes). I had spent some time customizing the color for the labels and was curious to see how "true to screen" my selection would be.  It was truly spot-on; now I know that monitor settings vary from user to user, so your mileage may vary, but the labels I received were exactly the color I chose!

I wanted to run the labels through the gamut of abuses they were designed to withstand, so I applied one to a travel mug (which I microwaved hot tea in and then ran through the dishwasher -  top shelf, heated dry cycle), one on my daughter's backpack (which is really being pushed to the limit as she is clearing her desk out for the year), one on a sweatshirt jacket (I placed it on the tag and ran it through the washing machine and dryer, using hot water to wash and high heat to dry), and one on my cell phone case (because I loved how it looked!). I am thrilled to report that all the labels remained in place, did not fade, crack, melt, or peel off - not even in the dishwasher! I was staggered! I have melted plastic storage containers in my dishwasher, so I was sure the hot-cup label would melt or peel, but it looked as good coming out as it did going in!

I can now say without reservation that Kidecals are truly excellent; the quality is top notch, the ordering process is easy and fun, the shipping was free and fast, and the wide variety of decals and labels guarantees there's something for everyone! So if you are in the market for a personalized, attractive, high-quality organizational tool, I highly recommend Kidecals!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Products We Love: Kidecals!

Today I'm giving a shout-out to Kidecals Waterproof Labels; an awesome product that I think would be worthy of the "Parents' Little Helpers Award" - that is, if such an award existed! Kidecals are basically personalized printed labels for your kid’s stuff that adhere like a sticker! Brilliantly simple, beautifully customizable, easy to order, and FREE to ship (in the US), Kidecals are THE solution to how to label your child's belongings so that they can be returned if lost!
Anyone who has ever sent a child off to daycare, school, camp, or even a sleepover can vouch for the fact that you need to label EVERY item they own, because without fail, six other kids will have the same water bottle, cup, lunch box, sleeping bag, jacket, or backpack. When my daughter first went to preschool, all I had for labeling was a black fine-tip Sharpie, and while it did the job, it was unattractive and not  truly permanent on dishwasher-cleaned items. With my pitiful handwriting and items where writing space was at a premium (garments with small labels, etc.), I frequently took the lazy road and just scrawled her initials on everything, only to find out that her initials were fairly common. We lost a lot of stuff those first few years. It was a system with enormous room for improvement - and a niche I think Kidecals fills perfectly!
I just place an order for my very own set of Kidecals, and in addition to being beguiled by the wide variety of beautiful labels and decals available on their website, I was excited and impressed to discover that Kidecals is a woman-owned business, and that they strive to use the greenest and most local materials possible to create their labels and decals. Also, they create all their own personalizable labels and art, and will even work with customers to design unique, custom pieces suited to their particular needs. My only complaint is that their "Keycals" (beautiful mosaic-like stickers for your keyboard) only work on Apple products - I totally would have ordered a set of the Daisy ones if they were compatible with my ancient Gateway!
As soon as my order arrives I will be writing a more comprehensive product review, but I have to say that so far, my experience has been excellent. The website was easy to navigate, boasted an enormous variety of designs and products, and was intuitive to play around with when customizing your chosen product.  Moreover, ordering was straightforward, and shipping was FREE (in the US)! Stay tuned for my review, and head on over to Kidecals to check out their product line for yourself - I know you'll be impressed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Family Summer Bucket List!

image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The school year is rapidly drawing to a close, and many families are starting to get "summer fever!" Maybe a fun family getaway is even already booked; but do you really know what your family wants to do this summer? Try asking!  

Take a day to try and schedule an informal family meeting (you could even discuss it over a meal!), to ask for input for summer fun from each of your family members. Then use that feedback to create a "Family Summer Bucket List!" 

Here are a few tips to make your list making experience fun and feasible:

  • All family members should be respectful and take turns speaking
  • No mocking or ridiculing other family members' ideas or suggestions
  • Though each idea may not appeal to everyone, all activities must be family-friendly
  • All activities must fit within the family-determined budget
  • All activities must be safe and legal
  • All suggestions should be open for discussion unless they do not conform to safety or other considerations

Ideas can be as complex as planning a family trip abroad or as simple as proposing a family picnic, use your imagination! Bucket-listing can help a family discern which interests or activities the family members share, and by including the kids in the list-making process they will be more invested in the activities you ultimately select! So grab a tablet, laptop, or pen and paper and have at it!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Water Safety: There's No Substitute for Parental Supervision

Summer is just around the corner, and is a great time to hit beaches, lakes, and pools! After all, they're great places for kids to play, cool off, and make fun summer memories! But they are also places where children die. That may sound dramatic; but I hope it caught your attention, because it is tragically true.  Countless children drown or nearly drown every summer; often simply because their parents were distracted for a moment.

If you haven't already, please take a moment to read the heart-wrenching tale of Jordan Page. Her account of almost losing her son because she was busy on her cell phone is a humbling and terrifying reminder that it only takes a moment for a child to slip unnoticed beneath the surface of the water where death lays in silent wait.

Her article is an unapologetic wake-up call to remind parents, not only that they need to make the safety and well-being of their children a priority, but that being truly present for your child can not only save them from potentially fatal accidents, but can help them know how loved, valued, and special they are.  Who among us thinks their child is any less than the most precious treasure with which they have ever been entrusted?  But how often do we convey that to them through our actions and words?  Read Jordan's story - you'll be glad you did (once you stop crying).

Below are six water safety tips; and while they are all valuable, life-saving suggestions, none is as important as the first:

  • Practice vigilant parental supervision - Whenever your child is near water, be there with them, if possible.  If you cannot be in the water with them, keep them constantly in your line of sight (as unlikely as it may seem, even a  large bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler).
  • Have your child take child swim lessons - Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest returns on investment there is.  Children gain familiarity with the water and learn basics such as treading water and floating.  Lessons can save lives.
  • Use approved floatation devices - No matter how strong a swimmer your child may be, if your attention is divided or your child will be swimming more than an arm's length away from you, a floatation device is a good idea.  For children who are not strong swimmers or any young person going out in a boat, a Coast Guard approved floatation device should be mandatory.
  • Use caution around open water - Rivers, lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water can have dangerous currents or sudden drop-offs; swim only in areas with lifeguards where conditions have been determined to be reasonably safe.  Discourage diving in any body of water unless the area is designated as safe for diving. Swim only in posted areas and obey all posted signage.
  • Practice pool safety - Never allow children to swim unsupervised. Discourage diving. Keep all pools enclosed by a locked fence that cannot be climbed to prevent accidental access (hot-tubs should be covered and locked when not in use). Be sure there is a perimeter alarm to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Be prepared - Learn infant and child CPR and keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
If you take only one thing away from this blog post, I hope it is this: that the opportunity to provide parental supervision is a precious gift, a gift that can be stolen from you forever in mere moments.  Choose to be, as Jordan puts it, truly present, not just "there;" it can make all the difference in the world.

Safe and happy travels.
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blogs We Love: Safe Sound Family!

Per their website: "Safe Sound Family is a premier publishing resource focused on providing high quality, trustworthy information about family safety. They feature free, in-depth articles and guides on everything from buying outdoor security cameras to keeping your kids safe online to the finding the best home automation systems for your family home."

But Safe Sound Family's Blog doesn't just cover home safety; if you're a family that loves to travel, you won't want to miss their piece on the "Best Travel Safety Products for Families."

So whether you're planning to purchase a new trampoline, researching the safest appliances, or trying to figure out the best way to create a relaxing environment away from home, Safe Sound Family is an invaluable resource! Safe and happy searching!