Archive for the ‘General’ category

Was Family Rescued at Sea Irresponsible?

April 10th, 2014

Like many who watched the recent story of the Kaufman family who was rescued at sea after a failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe with their two daughters, ages 3 and 1, I was intrigued. I worried for the family and the infant, and was happy to hear they were rescued and that the little girl will be okay.

What has now followed is a storm of parents crying out that the family was foolish and irresponsible, and how could they possibly think to travel the world aboard a sailboat with their children. And I find it disheartening. Would I sail around the world with my two children? No. I would never want to be in the middle of the ocean so far from land and help if I needed it, and actually said so to my partner when the news of the rescue broke. But I followed that with, I’d just sail not too far off of coastlines.

I’ve known people who have taken a year off, having scrimped and saved to do so, and taken their children on world trips, including those who have done it on sailboats. And I’m envious of them for having the chance to do so. Some say it’s easiest when the kids are as young the Kaufman’s because they are not yet in school. Others say taking the kids when they are older means they are easier to travel with and benefit even more from the trip because they are able to learn and retain much about the different cultures and sites they have visited. It is uncommon for families to travel like this, but it is not irresponsible or “crazy.”

Traveling with our children is one of the best gifts we can give to them. Recent studies have shown that traveling with our children strengthens family bonds and actually leads to higher education and better-paying careers for the children. Seeing new places and learning about the world around us ignites a passion to learn more and seek out more knowledge. I know, personally, that once I started to travel, I became more aware of how small the world can be, discovering that people everywhere are similar in that they love their families and work hard to provide the best for their children. I became eager to see more because with every new place I visited, I learned so much.

Do I think the Kaufman family was irresponsible? No, I don’t. They were very experienced sailors and planned their trip in great detail. Like any parent knows, the best laid plans can mean nothing when traveling with our kids. The Kaufman’s infant was sick from salmonella. I’m sure the family was prepared for their children to get a cold or cough, or cuts and bruises. But she wasn’t recovering, and the family called for help, just as any family would do. Granted they were out at sea, but luckily, they were able to get the help they needed. Those who rescued them are not charging them for the rescue, because they also believe the parents were experienced and prepared.

I hope their bad luck does not deter families from traveling with their kids. I’ve been saddened to read comments by parents saying they would never travel abroad with their children because they do not see the value in it. There is value, as the studies show. And after I show my kids America, I look forward to showing them more of the world and traveling with them as much as I can before they grow up and settle down and become restricted to their own family schedules.

What do you think? Was the Kaufman family wrong to take their young children on such a large sailing adventure? Do you feel infants and young toddlers should travel abroad? I’d love to hear from you!

–Lissa Poirot

Finding Childcare When Traveling

March 27th, 2014

For many parents who plan vacations, all-inclusive resorts are one of the top choices because they provide kids’ clubs and childcare services so mom and dad can get a little one-on-one time during the trip. But what about vacations that don’t have all-inclusive resort options, such as a visit to San Diego or a getaway to the Jersey Shore? There are a crop of childcare service providers available now, to help parents find childcare options while traveling.
This service provider helps connects parents to childcare providers in destinations across the country, many with background checks. Parents can post a job and receive applications from a number of providers who will come to the hotel at a rate you choose. Providers have profiles you can review, including photographs, and can provide references. The site also provides pet sitters, to care for your pets back home while you’re traveling.
Similar to, parents can connect to sitters in the destination of their choice and review caregiver profiles, see references and review background checks. The site also provides pet sitters.
Also a site where parents can sitters across the country, SitterCity provides access to caregiver profiles and background checks.

Destination Sitters
With offices up and down California’s coast, parents can find childcare providers in San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Jose and San Francisco. Sitters are fully screened and vetted, so when you make a request, you’ll receive someone who has already gone through personal interviews, full background checks, drug screenings and reference verification — to sum it up, they have done the work for you!

American Childcare
This service provides hotel babysitting options in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, and can even connect families with travel nannies to accompany you on a trip. Babysitters have three already-screened references, while nannies undergo a criminal background check and are certified in CPR and First Aid.

Kid’s Nite Out
If you’re visiting a Walt Disney World resort, Disney Babysitting Services are available for in-room sitters. These sitters have been interviewed by and recommended by Disney, and are certified in CPR and basic First Aid. The service is available resorts such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

–Lissa Poirot

FamilyFun Magazine Travel Awards Winners

March 26th, 2014

FamilyFun Magazine recently revealed its winners of its annual travel awards, surveying families across the nation on their favorite attractions. Here are the winners — see any surprises?

1. The Strong, New York
2. Hershey Park, Pennsylvania
3. Bronx Zoo, New York
4. Acadia National Park, Maine
5. New York, New York

1. Disneyland, California
2. Disney’s California Adventure, California
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
4. Yosemite National Park, California
5. SeaWorld San Diego, California

1. Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Florida
2. Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Florida
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Universal Studios, Florida
5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida

1. Cedar Point Amusement Park, Ohio
2. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
3. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Nebraska
4. Toledo Zoo, Ohio
5. Brookfield Zoo, Illinois

Tell us: What’s your favorite destination!

–Lissa Poirot

What’s New at the Jersey Shore

March 23rd, 2014

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore in the fall of 2012, you may be wondering how the rebuild is continuing and what’s new on the Jersey Shore. Here’s a look:

Seaside Heights
A new and improved 600-foot Boardwalk replaces Seaside Heights‘ old boardwalk, which was originally 20 feet wide. It will now be 65 feet wide with plenty of room for families. Casino Pier will reopens April 12th with new rides like the Air Race, where riders pilot planes up to 25 feet in height, and Jump Around, a Baja Buggy-themed ride.

Seaside Park
Seaside Park lost its pier, but the beach town will open a pop-up Carnival in its place in August. From August 1 to 15, the Carnival will have games and fun, as well as drive-in movies on the marina lawn and concerts by the beach; a sand sculpture of the boardwalk past, present and future; and activities for the kids.

Six Flags Great Adventure
Near the shore, Six Flags Great Adventure is reopening April 12 for its 40th season. The amusement park will celebrate its anniversary with the opening of Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. The ride will connect to the 456-foot Kingda Ka roller coaster, with Zumanjaro lifting riders 41 stories before dropping them at 90 miles per hour as the roller coaster speeds by at 128 miles per hour. There will be three drop towers with gondolas holding eight riders.

Wildwood’s Morey’s Piers is also reopening on April 12 with a grand opening celebration. New this year is the Wave Swinger ride that will spin and swing riders 50 feet above the beach. Morey’s Piers operates three boardwalk amusement piers and two water parks, as well dining options.

–Lissa Poirot

A Day in Brooklyn With Kids

January 2nd, 2014

We recently committed ourselves to exploring New York City’s boroughs, with day trips to Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. I knew it would be easy to find kid-friendly attractions and eateries in Brooklyn, since areas like Park Slope are growing with families choosing to live outside pricey Manhattan.

We spent the majority of the day at the vast Brooklyn Museum. With five floors of exhibits, we decided to narrow our focus to two areas: the Egyptian galleries on the third floor, and the Period Rooms on the fourth. The highlight of the Egyptian collection was the Mummy Chamber; there are four “in residence.” The period rooms are entire floors from a variety of 17th – 20th century homes which have been transported into the museum. You step up into each room’s doorway and peer inside through glass, as if you’re looking into a life-size dollhouse.

The oldest of the homes, the Jan Martense Schenck House, is a Dutch farmhouse which originally stood in Brooklyn’s Mill Basin area. Look for the “Family Guide” brochure on the wall nearby, which not only describes the house in school-age language, but also includes a number of interpretative activities. I was equally impressed by the regularly scheduled Family Programs offered at the museum, including the “Hands-on Art” workshops, the “Arty Facts” tours for kids ages 4-7, and the “Meet the Museum” classes for toddlers.

If you continue west along Eastern Parkway from the museum’s northern entrance, you’ll hit a few more family-friendly attractions, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Mount Prospect Park (a city park with a great playground), and the Brooklyn Public Library, which has a special separate entrance to the children’s library. From the main library entrance, you can view the historic arch in the middle of Grand Army Plaza.

We found a great place to eat in this neighborhood for lunch – Cheryl’s Global Soul on Underhill Avenue – although it’s small and easy to miss! You may recognize the chef/owner Cheryl Smith from the early days of Food Network programming, but here we saw her involved in everything from cooking to setting tables. The cozy atmosphere is casual, and the menu includes unfussy but flavorful soups, sandwiches, salads, and brunch dishes. The kids’ menu offers silver dollar pancakes, eggs, and more.

Our evening plans included a Brooklyn Nets game at the new Barclays Center. If your kids love professional sporting events, this is a high-energy venue to enjoy NBA basketball!

Our home base for this weekend getaway was the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge on Adams Street, conveniently located across the street from a subway station, which connected us to points throughout Brooklyn, as well as Manhattan to the west across the East River. In addition to the amazing views we enjoyed from our room of the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, Empire State Building and more, we were also within sight of the access point to the pedestrian walkway across the Brooklyn Bridge.

–Traci L. Suppa

Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.

2014 Sightseeing Resolutions in New York City

January 1st, 2014

Looking ahead to 2014, it’s time to make a list of all the things you’ve been wanting to do with your children in New York City and haven’t had time to do. Make a New Year’s resolution and plan to spend weekend afternoons exploring all the city has to offer. Take your cameras, camcorders and mobile devices to record the experiences. Here’s to making 2014 the year of special memories!

1. Attend a New Victory Family Workshop and give your child a taste of the performing arts. Each workshop at this prestigious theater for children teaches children the skills they need to be the star of the show. From circus performing to a fairy tale mash-up, there is so much to choose from. You can check out the schedule here. Also check out their shows as they are truly the best in town for children of all ages.

2. Head to the Hudson River Park and River Promenade; cross the West Side Highway at Chambers to enjoy a stroll from Battery Park City to Chelsea along the water. With the dynamic views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island behind you, you can watch the runners, bikers, roller bladers or just enjoy the stroll. You can end up in Battery Park and jump on the Staten Island Ferry or head to Chinatown for dim sum.

3. Spend an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art and explore the current exhibition, Deigo Rivera, with your kids, talking about his work. The MoMA offers a variety of programs for kids as young as four and their families, including tours, workshops, films and artist talks. If your child isn’t up to a workshop, just take a stroll though the museum, pointing out artists and simply giving them a taste of the museum.

4. Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects two great New York City boroughs: Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can walk it, drive it, bike it, or just admire it. Your child will be amazed by the height and will love taking photos of the views. When you get to Brooklyn, you can stop for pizza at Grimaldi’s and draw pictures of the bridge you just walked across.

5. Take a stroll through Central Park to explore the city’s horticulture and end up at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. The Swedish Cottage in Central Park, was originally constructed as a model schoolhouse in the 1800s and now puts on puppet shows for kids. Your child will be mesmerized by the theatre’s extraordinary fairy tales.

6. Catch “The Amazing Max and the Box of Amazing Things” at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center and spend an afternoon filled with magic and surprise. Billed as a “show with a mind of its own,” it’s a very enjoyable 90 minutes for both adults and children.

7. Looking for something fun to share with your children? The popular Jazz at Lincoln Center family concert series, “Jazz for Young People,” will help to inspire the budding jazz lovers in your family with three amusing and enlightening presentations. Since adults can learn so much at these concerts as well, Jazz at Lincoln Center likes to say “all grown-ups must be accompanied by a child!” You and your child will be mesmerized by the big band led by Wynton Marsalis as they teach the audience all about jazz music.

8. If you’re looking for a rainy day activity, or want to introduce your kids to the world of moving images, the Museum of the Moving Image is for you. Plus, they offer a steady programming full of special screenings and workshops for families.

9. For a unique afternoon out, head to City Island with your kids. Grab some seafood at Johnny’s Reef Restaurant, visit the City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum, take a stroll on the beach. Whether it be cold or warm, there is nothing like a walk on the sand. Be sure to return during the summer when you can catch the sun rays and experience the area in its glory.

10. The Hall of Science is one of the best New York City museums for children with over 400 exhibits and daily special events for kids. They even host sleepovers at the museum.

– Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink is a mother, marketing consultant, writer and blogger for a number of sites, as well as her own, The Culture Mom.