Educational iPad games/apps; keeping kids busy while …

Educational iPad games/apps keep my kids busy while I prep for dinner. They learn something while eating veggies and I get 30 minutes to make dinner, clean up and gear up for the dinner fiascos and the after dinner routine.

When my girls were 2.5 years of age I caved, and started giving them screen time on their iPads (I do have two iPads). However I only give it to them at 4:30/4:45pm pm in the afternoon, otherwise known as the ‘witching hour’. At the same time I also give them their vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, red peppers, frozen peas in a dish, so while they are playing they can easily grab a veggie. Dinner is at 5:15pm and my weekday meals must only take 15 minutes to create. I do have a meal plan for each day which I do create on Sundays (I’ll write a post about that another time).

Parent Map had a great article a few years back listing some good educational apps– however most were for children older than 2.5 years. But they did list a great site appolearning.com to find educational games for all ages.

Example of appolearning.com
Example of appolearning.com

 

The apps are reviewed by educators and then given a mark out of ten. The apps with 9/10 are the ones I download. I also notice, that some games are listed for older kids but I still download them if I think my kids can handle the challenge. However, if your child is getting frustrated with the game, be sure to sit with them and see if they can do it or if it’s out of their skill level. I do rotate games in and out and if I introduce a new one – I do sit down with them for a few minutes and be sure they understand the requirements. (I also turn on restrictions on my iPad settings so they can’t open the internet and purchase more apps).

Here is my list of iPad games/apps that help with mathematics, science, writing, reading, music, health, history and the world we live in. I’ve listed them at the time of introduction. Most of the apps that are listed under 3 years of age are for children ages 3-5 years old.

2.5 years of age
A to Z Music Videos from ABCmouse.com by Age of Learning
Awesome Xylophone by Tharts
I Hear Ewe – Animal Sounds for Toddlers by Claireware Software
Interactive Alphabet ABC’s by Piikea St.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox by THUP Games
Peekaboo Pets by Kid Baby Toddler Ltd.
Peekaboo Barn by Night & Day Studios
Play Lab
Stop & Go by Shortstack
Toddle Puzzle Shapes by Technolio
Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose

3 years of age and older
tryIconLeo’s Pad by Kidaptive (This is for older kids but my girls love this. At 4 they are still learning various items from this game)
Gazzili Science by GazziliWorld (love this one – wish there were more)
Petersons Inventions by Filimundus – this is a fabulous game for the Engineer. The girls did get stuck at first a bit but I would say “try two things” and then I’d help. We did a couple together and then they caught on. Now they can outsmart me!
Kids Learn Spanish with busuu by Busuu Limited
Paper by Fifty Three
Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up by Disney
Doc McStuffins: Moving with Doc by Disney
Abby Monkey Preschool and Kindergarten by CFC
Preschool Colors Toys Train Kids by 22Learn

3.5 years of age and older
ABCmouse.com – Early Learning Academy by Age of Learning
LetterSchoollearn to write letters and numbers by Sanoma Media
iWriteWords by gdiplus
iTrace by iTrace
Super Why ABC Adventures by PBS Kids
AbbyPhonics: Kindergarten Reading by 22learn
BrainPop Jr. by BrainPop – This app is for older kids. However they have videos that teach the kids about various things from President’s day, vegetables vs cookies, voting to smoking. It helps start conversations and it helps you as a parent address the issues you see with your kids. For example before they watched the smoking/addiction video they were asking me why was smoke coming out of that person’s mouth, what was the pipe they were holding? These videos are 3 minutes in length, there is a robot named Mobi who does things wrong or tries things out and the girl in the video ‘educates’ Mobi. During our dinner we discuss what they have learned that day from BrainPop. I do limit this game to two videos a day…I can only handle 4 new topics to discuss at dinner. When I toured a school recently I did see them using this in grade 1. My girls don’t do the activities yet just the videos.
Motion Math: Hungry Fish by Motion Math
Motion Math: Hungry Guppy by Motion Math
Toy Store Delivery Truck by MindSmack
Moofy Recognizing Pattern by PlaySmart
Counting Caterpillar by Bellamon
Peg + Cat Big Gig by PBS Kids
Meet the Orchestra by Vide Infra Group
DoReMi 123: Music for Kids by Creativity
Animal Orchestra For Kids by Devmiles

4 years of age and older
The Word Monsters: Learn to Read by Mindconnex learning
Seasons and Weather! by Tribal Nova
Animals! Life science by Tribal Nova
Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa by Fingerpring
Dragon Shapes -Lumio Geometry Challenge by Lighthouse Learning
Numbers and Counting – Teacher Tilly by Shoto
The MathTree by Bellamon
Jungle Time: learn how to tell time by Andrew Short
Measurement by Emantras
Toca Builders by Toca Boca AB
Sound Recall by Javelin Sdn Bhd
Mathcubes: Addition & Subtraction for kids by Apps4Needs (I have just introduced this one)

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your favorites as I’m always looking for new educational apps to add.

 

Great parental lessons from Super Bowl 49

10922709_10152524818131722_5024710907725824958_nWhat a great game last night. My daughters (4 years old) watched the entire game. We couldn’t get them away from the game, and that’s a long time to sit for football. Even though Seattle lost Super Bowl 49, the Seahawks did give us fuel to address a few parenting issues.

1. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you handle your mistakes
Whether or not the pass to Ricardo Lockette was a mistake – this is only determined by Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson if you ask them the question “Whether they’d make the same play or whether they’d change it” If Butler hadn’t intercepted the ball – we’d be celebrating another Seahawks Super Bowl win. However that is not the case and the media and Seattle is reeling in “the biggest mistake ever” talk. I have always said to my previous students (Elementary and Secondary) and continue to say to my children that mistakes are a way of learning. We all have to make mistakes in order to learn. To quote Pete Carroll via LA Times he said “A very, very hard lesson, I hate to learn the hard way, but there’s no other way to look at it right now.” For our kids we can teach them, even superstars, celebrities, Presidents and especially adults make mistakes. It’s how we deal with them that is important. Immediately after the game, Pete Carroll told his players he was to blame. It was his mistake and he after all was Head Coach. Russell Wilson stood up and took the blame – stating it was him that threw the ball. This in my opinion helps children learn that if you make a mistake, own up to it and yes the backlash can be difficult but your honesty and integrity is more important.

2. Commercials
Our girls don’t watch TV. Sure they watch Amazon Prime, Xbox Videos, play IPad games etc. but they don’t see commercials. So what do we do when we watch live football as a family and the commercials come on? We use it as a learning experience.
For example – the Budweiser advertisements (I’m so happy they didn’t have half naked women on them this year since that would be a deeper explanation than I could get through in 2 minutes). First, we explain what a commercial is? It’s a company’s way of trying to get us to buy their product. So we ask them “What is the Budweiser commercial trying to sell us?” They say beer. We ask “Do we need it or want it”. They say “No…Because you drink this beer”. When the car commercials come on – again we ask them “What are they trying to make us buy?” They will say a car. We say “Do we need it?” They say “No, we already have one”. When something scary comes on we do ask them to turn away and we do mute the sound. The reason is the girls get too scared and end up having nightmares.

3. The fight – Bruce Irvin
Yes the fists flying at the end is not something one wants to see on the field. But a great teaching moment – we told the girls even adults have trouble controlling their emotions (we have a 4 year old having trouble controlling her anger) but fighting is not the answer. We also illustrated that this was poor sportsmanship and asked what should he have done? The answers were “He should have walked away, gone to his room.” We also suggested – pounded the ground, screamed, gone to the locker room but not hit another person. Irvin did apologize today – closing the loop of what us parents with more than one child say when our kids fight – I’m sorry for hitting you.

4. Losing
We can’t always win. At some point one has to teach children that sometimes we lose. Yes it’s awful but you need to lose in order to grow as a person. If a child never gets a toy taken away, or loses a debate, a game in school, or loses points on a test – how will that child develop into an adult and survive in the world. We have to feel the loss, learn from the mistakes, learn why we lost and get up and try again. We want our children not to give up on the challenges that they will face throughout their lifetime.

These are some lessons we have been teaching/reinforcing in the last 24 hours. I would like to personally thank the Seattle Seahawks for playing with their hearts, servicing the community – especially Seattle Children’s Hospital and standing together as a great team. Learn from your games this year gentlemen and continue to strive for better next year.

 

 

Seahawks teach kids perseverance

WP_20150124_10_34_25_ProAs a transplant from Toronto to Seattle, rooting for an NFL team – let alone standing in line for 12th man and Richard Sherman t-shirts last year prior to the Super Bowl – was not something I would normally do. I’m not sure if I’ve watched more than two Super Bowls in my life. But last year when the Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl all the transplants and all the natives of Seattle bonded together over this team. The Space Needle, Microsoft buildings, banks, high rises, construction cranes, bridges, boats on the lake etc. all displayed the Seahawks colors. It was an amazing sight of connectivity. I decided then that this is a team I needed to watch and to cheer for. Even more so when I see Russell Wilson volunteer his time to Seattle Children’s Hospital for kids struggling with cancer, and Richard Sherman visit children with physical disabilities. This is a unique team. A team like the Seahawks doesn’t come by very often. Pete Carroll must have read “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap..And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins because he built an amazing team which has created a city full of committed fans, the 12’s.

Last year my twin girls who were three wanted to watch the Super Bowl. I figured why not? They’d probably watch for a few minutes and then wander off. That didn’t happen. The girls were by my side the entire game. They are big fans of the Seahawks especially Richard Sherman. To this day they ask if Sherman is okay because in last year’s Super Bowl he hurt his ankle. All year they kept telling everyone “We watched the game but Sherman hurt his ankle… but he’s okay now”. For three year olds to remember this incident all year – he definitely left an impression.
In the famous January 11, 2015 NFC championship game – Seahawks versus the Packers (the girls again glued to the game) learned a very valuable lesson: perseverance. We’ve had some issues with the girls stopping an activity when it gets difficult for them or if they get frustrated. Well – now when it happens we say – did the Seahawks give up when they were losing? They say no and continue to try, and persevere through the activity. Perseverance is a tough concept to teach to young kids but that game did it. I highly recommend that all kids and parents watch the game for a good lesson in perseverance. THANK YOU SEATTLE SEAHAWKS for showing all of us to believe in ourselves, in one’s team and not to give up when the stakes are down.

This East coast Canadian girl now has a Seahawks flag, Seahawks decal on her car, Seahawks napkins, and new Seahawks shirts for this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX.
GO HAWKS!

Winter Gear for Kids – obermeyer I Grow

If you haven’t purchased your winter gear for your kids yet – be sure to check out obermeyer – I Grow Extended Wear System

Skiing at 2 (rolled ski pants)

Skiing at 2 (rolled ski pants)

I purchased two outfits (2 snow pants and 2 jackets) when my girls had just turned two in 2011. I was heading back to Toronto, Canada to the deep freeze for Christmas. The size I purchased was a size 3 at REI. At first I had sticker shock – approximately $150 for the jacket and $100 for the pants – times two! However the suits have been well used (skiing, playing in the snow, skating, venturing out in frigid temps etc.) and just now I’m letting out the sleeves and letting down the pants for one suit. The other suit still fits the other 4-year-old twin, thus I’ll get even more time with the suit. Letting out the jackets and pants are extremely easy. In my case because the suit is pink and purple, obermeyer used red thread to let me know where to pull out the thread. Another bonus – the pants have two places to let down the length – the straps and the legs. This matters if your child has long legs but a short torso or vice versa. The sleeves in the jacket also had red thread versus the pink thread (no touch) for the jacket stitching. In addition these suits wash well. I have lost count the number of times I’ve washed these suits due to a shocking amount of hot chocolate and ketchup spills. Simply wash in cold water and line dry (no shrinkage).

Skiing at 3 (size 3)

Skiing at 3 (same suit)

I highly recommend this brand. Last year after realizing the girls were getting snow in their mitts from another brand and I was getting frustrated trying to get their mitts on correctly, I purchased obermeyer thumbs up mittens They open right up with velcro so little kids hands can slide in and you can easily and quickly close them. They are also water proof so no matter how many times they roll in snow, make snow people, eat snow etc. they stay dry. Oh and they have the nose wipe system too!

Enjoy the snow!

Paula

Potty Training 101 for kids

Potty Training!
Even the words and the thoughts can be stressful just thinking about it. Honestly I had to psyche myself up to the challenge. But once you get past the idea of more work in your day (your schedule and life will change for a few months because you will have to stop what you’re doing and take kids to the potty) BUT it’s worth it.

We used the 3 day potty method by Lora Jensen. The pdf costs $27 and it’s worth it. She’s available for advice etc. when you go through it. However I did a few things differently because I didn’t realize I had two types of personalities for potty training.

Step 1: Continue reading

Swimmers, Tangles, Birds Nest and Curls – Children’s Hair issues

Since June, we’ve been swimming every other day in chlorinated water. The girl’s hair became brittle and dry. Add that with one that has straight hair that becomes a birds nest when it’s dry and the other who has a plethora of curls, both lead to immense amount of screaming while brushing hair.

I found these three products that work extremely well and wanted to pass them on to fellow brushers.
1. For the swimmers: Circle of Friends George’s Swimmers’ Tearless Shampoo If you visit University Village in Seattle you can pick up a bottle at The Salon at Kids Club and it’s $3 cheaper than Amazon. The dry brittle hair became healthy once more even though we’re still swimming every other day.

2. For the tangled: this is an exceptional product. After washing their hair with the above product, I spray the detangler on their hair (it’s a leave in product), towel dry and then brush. No screams and the brush glides right through the thickest of hair. This product keeps their hair relatively detangled for a few days.
Galvin & Galvin Kids Organic Dubble Trubble Detangling Conditioner Spray Cool Cucumber 5.1 Oz
I found this product at Target for $4.99 versus Amazon at $19.99.

3. For the curls and the birds nest: this product makes the girl’s hair soft and shows off their curls. Even though it says it’s for curls, I put it on the birds nest hair and it works wonders (we haven’t had a bird’s nest hairdo since we started using it).
Curls Ring Around the Curlies Leave-in Creme – 4 Oz
Again this product is more expensive on Amazon $16 versus $13 at the Kids Salon in University Village.

Hope you get a bit more peace in your house today!

Paula

Spanx in a swimsuit = Miraclesuit (look 10lbs lighter)

After the twins were born, my front and behind were not as they were prior to pregnancy. As I sit here eating 2 pieces of cake, I’m sourcing an exceptional product known as the Miraclesuit . This source may be a bit late in the summer but if you’re still trying to figure out how to look and feel good in a swimsuit this season this product will assist you. You will look 10lbs lighter in 10 seconds! These bathing suits are a bit expensive but they seriously work. Note: it is not easy to get into them similar to SPANX since they work the same way. Last year, I picked up a purple and white polka dot Miraclesuit and had numerous compliments (I also felt that it held everything together).

Once you have your body back to the way you’d like – try out this line of swimwear Title Nine. This company sells clothes that fit women who have had kids and that are active. It’s for the real woman. They also hold up well to chlorine, waves and children!

Tip: If you want to wear a bikini (but a bit nervous) – choose a bikini you love and then buy a matching rash guard to cover up.

Enjoy the sun!

Paula

I’m a Jammer – it’s what you do with 35lbs of cherries!

1 bowl = 4lbs of cherries

1 bowl = 4lbs of cherries

During the last part of June our cherry tree produced over 35lbs of cherries. We and I mean the royal ‘We’ the six humans (2 kids, 2 adults, 2 sitters) and the dog could not eat that many cherries. My husband said I could always make jam like his mother use to. If you knew me back in the day – the idea of picking, pitting and making homemade jam would not be something that I’d do.

It started while I was walking through the grocery store, I saw Mason Jars. I love Mason Jars. So I finally said why not make jam, as long as someone else picked the cherries. So after attempting to make jam three times the fourth one was the best. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without this website Food In Jars. The blogger is fantastic. She posts recipes from jams, jelly’s, preserves, butters, sauces, chutneys, relishes, soups etc. and she responds to you if you have questions – in which I had a few being a new ‘jammer’. I highly recommend you check it out especially if you’re new to jamming. In addition, she has a glossary of terms i.e. Processing – didn’t know exactly what that meant when I first looked at the Cherry Syrup Recipe. There is a certain technique to making jam/canning – see her Canning 101 it’s incredibly helpful to us novices. Don’t forget to check out her cookbooks Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round My first attempt – I didn’t use the website as I was unaware of it– I used a recipe from allrecipes.com and that version of cherry jam is known as my cherry syrup (which I’ll make again – see recipe below). It’s great on pancakes or in plain yoghurt (I didn’t read the instructions correctly – I needed 3 cups of pitted and crushed cherries not 3 cups of pitted cherries). For my second attempt a friend lead me to Food In Jars and I made the Sour Cherry Jam. My mistake was I did not boil the jam long enough (when they say boil that jam they mean it).

Jamming! 3 have been eaten before this photo was taken.

Jamming! 3 have been eaten before this photo was taken.

The third attempt I experimented with the sugar level, additives such as orange and lemon rind and that jam was quite yummy for those of us who like a bit of ‘splash’ but the fourth the royal WE says it has the perfect consistency, sugar level and ‘splash’ (see variation of recipe below). Well 4 sets of jam only used 16lbs of cherries I still had 19lbs more to use. So I made 3 variations of cherry pies – 2 were eaten and the other cherry filling is in the freezer to bake at a later date (I did eat 1.5 pies), I made a cherry cake, two cherry butter brown bars, cherry popsicle and a cherry clafoutis (which I didn’t like but sitters did). My husband made 4 batches of Molly Moon’s cherry chunk ice cream, I gave 3lbs away to friends and other friends came and picked the remainder cherries from the tree. At the end of my two-week cherry extravaganza my finger nails were stained with cherry juice, my hand was cramped from pitting 35lbs and cherry juice was all over my walls. A neighbor said to me – next year why don’t you set up a cherry stand and sell cherry’s instead of  lemonade. I think I’ll do that.

Listed below are the recipes that I did and their variations.
Recipes:
Cherry syrup (which I’ll make again) My variation: use 3 cups of pitted cherries.

Sour Cherry Jam My variation: use 2 ¾ cups of sugar instead of 3 cups, and 2 tsp of freshly squeezed orange juice

Cherry Pie My variation: I did not use the pastry recipe I used my grandmothers and added 1 1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.

Cherry Brown Butter Bars My variation: I added more cherries because I could and added 1/4 cup of crushed walnuts in the batter.

Plum Torte / Cherry Cake Note: Last summer I used this recipe for the Italian Plumes, then frozen peaches and blueberries and now fresh Cherries. I’ll use it again for the Italian Plums when in season. My variation + a friends too: we added 1/4 cup more butter, 1/2 cup of ground almonds, 1/3 cup more of sugar, and an extra egg. In addition I poured half of the batter in, then spread the fruit over that first layer (make sure you first pat your fruit down with a paper towel to remove excess wetness) then I pour the other half of the batter in and then spread more fruit on top. I then sprinkle it with the topping of cinnamon and sugar.

Cherry Chunk Ice Cream You’ll have to buy the book to get the recipe (it’s so good).

Enjoy!
Paula

Traveling with twins -A Logistics MBA course

Traveling with twins should be a section taught in a logistics MBA class and a side note in your fitness trainers book ‘training for a marathon’. As a parent of twins you will need to use all the concepts of constraints, first in first out, efficiencies and bottlenecks.  I have to say my MBA logistics class at Ivey did prepare me somewhat but it did not prepare me for the sheer exhaustion you feel when it’s over (not even a 48 hour case report can come close). I think back to the first two years of travelling with the twins and I have to say it can be compared to running a marathon (I’ve witnessed runner’s appearance and energy level first hand when they cross the finish line).

At 6mths

At 6mths

I have traveled with my twins since they were 2 weeks old. I’ve taken the girls on airplanes as of 6 months old and they do have frequent flyer numbers since they have traveled on 16 airplane trips in their short 3.5 yr. life. Our guest writer Rashida Ronaque traveled with her 9 month old twins and husband to Yemen, Egypt and India. Click here to just view Rashida’s report.

Travel Suggestions:

    1. For any trip whether it’s a weekend away or a one week vacation by car or air you need to make a list of items that you need on a regular basis AND when your kids are sick (you don’t want to be running to find a drug store when you arrive with a sick kid, plus some countries don’t have the same brands that you know work for your kids). Be sure to make a list for you as well.
    2. Determine if the place you’re visiting has laundry facilities – if not, you know your kids and determine how fast they go through clothes, burp cloths etc. and make the adjustments accordingly and then ADD 2 more of everything. Then bring a zip lock bag of detergent for those items you need to wash in the sink.
    3. If you’re traveling to a destination i.e. vacation spots (Hawaii, Disney, Whistler, New York etc.) determine if they have child equipment rentals i.e. pack n plays, strollers, car seats. In addition some of these spots have excellent sitter services so be sure to get a referral when booking your accommodations, in order for you to get a break. Some rental car agencies do rent car seats – Entreprise for example, call ahead and reserve.  At 6 months because I hopped to three different places and didn’t want to haul a pack n play I used the Kidco Peapod because it folds up to the size of a dinner plate.

4. If you’re going for a long trip and you’re within the USA use Amazon.com or other delivery sites to have your diapers, formula, wipes etc. delivered to your destination. In Canada there is  well.ca. If you’re traveling elsewhere find out from friends which service can deliver similar to one you currently use.

5. If you’re traveling to family – ask family/friends for equipment otherwise you can always try Craig’s list and have it dropped off to your family’s residence.

6. Traveling by air – the different airlines have different rules. But the one that most of them have in common is that twins under 2 (or children under 2 of the same family) cannot fly with one adult and you can’t sit in the same row because of the oxygen masks. So before you fly you need to check with the airline whether or not you can be in the same row. Determine their policy on double strollers, carry-ons, baggage for babies, toddlers, fees for extra bags and how and when you pay for it.

7. Bags:

1. Checked luggage: I have two large red Sienna 26 Inch Deluxe Sports Rolling Duffel bags that have wheels and a handle that pops up. I chose red because I can spot it easily. I use two if I go away for 1-3 weeks, I only use one which includes husband, kids and my stuff if I go away for a long weekend. I also check my car seats. If you’re flying international or on an airline that sometimes loses bags – be sure to pack for all of you in both bags so that if one is lost for 24 hours you’d be able to make do with one.

2. Carry Ons: Before the age of 2, I traveled with my diaper bag and 1 back pack (my husband carried the backpack because we each held a baby). In my diaper bag I had the regular stuff – diapers, wipes etc. What I did though is I thought through the travel day as a regular day – counted up how many diapers I needed and then ADDED 4 more just in case. I also had an extra shirt for my husband and me because one of our girls had a gag reflex and would get me all the time. So I figured an extra shirt would be handy. I packed two empty clean bottles, formula, 2 pacifiers, (the other 2 pacifiers were in my fleece jacket that I wore) had infant Ibuprofen, Benadryl, AND Lysol disinfectant spray and Clorox wipes in a plastic bag. See ‘boarding’ below to read why I carried those. For my 6 month olds I had baby mum mums, plum fiddle sticks, Peter Rabbit squishy’s (that I had given them BEFORE the flight to ensure no allergies). In the back pack – my husband’s laptop, iPad, 2 more bottles, 2 small blankets, 2 luvies, toys that I had purchased and cleaned and wrapped from the $1 store, and new flat books.

At 2 yrs
At 2 yrs

 

*When the girls turned 2, I started traveling on my own with them. I carried 1 backpack and 1 large purse. I introduced them to iPad games from Appolearning.com, Shows: Daniel the tiger, and Dora the explorer. However they would only be able to sit for one or two of these until they aged a bit more. I only used 1 iPad for both of them until they were 2.5 yrs. old. The headphones I used and continue to use are Kidz Gear Wired Headphones For Kids – Gray
I also think about the trip and what I’ll need first i.e. tickets or passports, wallet to buy things so I have those items at the top of my bag for efficiencies. When the girls were 1.5 yrs I had them start carrying their tiny backpacks with the two new books and toys. They weren’t allowed to open them until they were on the plane. Now at 3.5yrs they are able to carry their bigger preschool backpacks with books, toys and headphones.

8. Carriers/Strollers – when the girls were 6 months we just used Snuggli carriers – and did not bring a stroller. See photo at top of blog. I strongly recommend you bring a stroller to the gate (pending on airline) and then put your carrier on at the gate. The reason is that if you both have babies on you and no place to put them down in the airport it’s difficult to grab a coffee or go to the restroom! The strollers that we use and continue to use are the cheap umbrella strollers and latch them together with the munchkin adapters – see photo.

2 Umbrella Strollers attached with Munchkin Adapters

2 Umbrella Strollers attached with Munchkin Adapters

That way if they’re lost or broken I can buy new ones. As the kids aged they played with the strollers in races up and down the airport = wearing them out. Always bring a stroller especially if you change flights because toddlers walking from one end of an airport to the next is not happening AND at the end of a long flight they may be sleepy and not in great moods. The stroller also acts as a carrier for my purse, food purchases and their backpacks. See how I travel now with one stroller and put one on top of the other.

At 3.5 - how we roll
At 3.5 – how we roll

*Note most airlines won’t let you have your babies in the carrier when you take off. HOWEVER wear your carrier, hold your baby snuggly while take off and then fasten the carrier. You may have children like us who fall asleep on takeoff and then your arms cramp because you didn’t have your carrier on properly. You do not want to wake them up if it’s their nap time plus you’ll be able to get through an hour or two without entertaining them or dealing with the screams. We also used our small blankets as a black out curtains so they could fall asleep if it was not a night flight.

9. If you feed by formula – do not buy water prior to security, wait until you are through and buy a large bottle. Never use the water that is given to you on the plane. Scoop out your formula (that you might need on your trip) and double it (you never know if the plane will be delayed). Place it in zip lock bags = not as cumbersome as a formula container. Bring 4 sets of bottles. If you feed by breast – and you’re bringing some in bottles remember security will check the milk in the bottles, so have it readily available within your bag.

10. Try to book flights that correspond to the nap schedules and time changes. I.e. we fly to Toronto which has a 3 hour time difference. We take the 8 am direct flight which means we get the girls up at 5:00 am PST which is 8:00 am EST. We do have the car packed and ready to go so we just have to wake the girls, dress and they can eat breakfast in the car. When they were 6mths– we’d wake them earlier – 4:30am and feed first and then put them in the car. They would fall back to sleep (sometimes) and then wake just about the time we’d go through security.

11. Dress code:

  1. The twins exactly the same. When they’re babies – people will assist you even the security, flight, immigration staff and complete strangers. When they’re toddlers – same reason but with one added bonus – you can recognize them quickly if they start running, as well as if one did get lost you can say quickly to security – they look like that one.
  2. Mom/parent traveling – jeans, t-shirt, fleece with pockets, running shoes and put extra deodorant on. You will be sweating right from the start. (I recommend jeans because they hide stains well, t-shirt because you’ll be sweating even if it’s cold – you’ll be passing babies back and forth, a fleece – soft to be an extra blanket for kids and the pockets hold the 2 extra pacifiers (because you know they will be thrown, dropped etc.) running shoes because you can run after them.

12. Checking in: Streamline your logistics. If you can check in online – do so. Determine how long you will wait in line at check in if you’re checking in bags. For example – we travel Air Canada to Toronto, they usually have 4 people working, there is no online check in from Seattle to Toronto, there is a HUGE line. So we go early – the recommended 2 hours and it usually takes 45 minutes to dump our bags. Air Canada does not help you bag your car seats and they do NOT provide twist ties for the bagging of your car seat. So take those industrial twist ties because twisting that plastic bag around and trying to knot without a twist tie gives my husband something to swear about. Checking car seats – We check our car seats at the ticket window. There is controversy over this – if you check it the baggage handlers have a tendency to throw the seats around thus making them less effective in a car accident, however if you rent seats at the car rental place you have the extra time and lack of energy trying to figure out how they attach to the car etc. (because the car rental place cannot put them in for you) Remember at the end of the trip YOU will be exhausted and you will probably have screamers.

If the check in line is long and you have babies in car seats – pull out a new toy, for toddlers/preschoolers bring a new flat book when they get fidgety. We usually have a stroller race or go explore. When I travel on my own with the girls, I have my husband help with the check in and baggage drop. He departs at security. Having someone help with the luggage is a must.

13. Security – SeaTac does have a family line and there are security guys who have twins and do let you go to the front of the line. Remember they will ask (if you don’t have TSA approved status) to remove shoes, belts etc. so don’t wear belts and wear shoes that can be easily slipped on and off i.e. running shoes.

14. Immigration – depending on where you’re entering and exiting the US be sure you have your passport, Nexus passes etc. If you are traveling without the father – be sure to have a letter signed by the father that he knows you’re leaving with the kids out of country. They can ask and can stop you.

15. Waiting to board – at 6 months we just walked around airports with the girls in their carriers, grabbing coffees and visiting the restrooms. When they started walking we just had them walk/run. At SeaTac there is a play room where the kids can release some energy. But most airports don’t have that. The first thing we do is grab some food for the airplane and then the races start. They race to cement pillars, garbage cans, chairs etc. We ride the walking escalator. We go and explore. I just try to get them tired out! 20 minutes before boarding we go potty.

16. Boarding – with 6 month babies – stroller up to the gate, be sure to board when they call families with small children. Put babies in carriers and grab your Clorox wipes and Lysol disinfectant spray. Before you sit down on the seats – spray the area with disinfectant spray. Then wipe down the tray tables, arms of the chairs, the window area. Your babies will be touching everything and then everything goes into their mouths. The dirtiest place on an airplane are the tray tables. You know you don’t want your kids sick especially on a vacation.

17. Taking off and Landing – at 6 months we just bounced them around on our laps, pointed to various items to occupy them right before takeoff. Our girls had pacifiers so they sucked on their pacifiers on the way up. As soon as the plane took off they fell asleep. Unfortunately I wasn’t wearing the carrier and was holding a sleeping baby for 1 hour. I tried to keep the idea of a typical day going even though we were in a plane. So when the girls woke I fed them (didn’t change their diaper if it wasn’t wet), played with them, walked up and down the aisle, and of course brought new age appropriate toys. Just before landing I started to feed them to help with the ears popping, then gave them their pacifier. At 1.5 years this is what I started to do and continue to do so because the flights still won’t allow iPads to be open or devices to be on. So while we wait for the flight to taxi out of the gate or taxi in I open their backpacks and bring out new books, new dollar toys etc. to keep them occupied. I also have lollipops for the takeoff and landing – especially for the landing to help with the ears.

18. Care Harnesses or Car Seats on the plane – this is a personal decision. We checked our infant car seats and used carriers because we felt safer, there was less stuff to deal with on the plane, and under the age of 2 they can sit on your lap (thus no added expense) whereas you’d have to buy another seat for the infant car seat. When they were 1.5yrs, again we opted to check the larger toddler car seats instead of bringing them on the plane. We did buy an extra seat for wiggle room, we held on to the girls during take-off and landing. During the flight they fit side by side. See photo above. There is the travel Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter for your toddler car seat that you can use. However we again chose no car seats and used the stroller. One thing to watch for is – if you are traveling alone and you have your car seats with you, the aisles of the airplanes are usually too narrow to fit the car seat through. So you’ll have to get your kids out of the car seats, carry the car seats to your airplane seats and then go back again for the other one. Just make sure your kids are okay with sitting by themselves while you trek back and forth through the people. The Child Airplane Travel Harness – Cares Safety Restraint System – The Only FAA Approved Child Flying Safety Device is another option to determine if you want to use. A friend has used them on all their flights (over 30 flights) but we didn’t. My husband’s philosophy “If we’re going down, it’s not going to help!” If there is turbulence usually the kids are right beside me and I hold on (I usually sit between the girls and put my arms out like barriers). Again – personal choice.

19. Disembarking – I don’t enjoy sitting around until everyone is off the plane and we’re efficient enough that we just grab our stuff and go – just as fast as everyone else. When I started traveling by myself with the girls and the 2 big red bags, 2 car seats and stroller I knew I couldn’t manage grabbing my bags at the baggage terminal without help. So I hired the porter by the baggage claim for $20. That is the one thing I couldn’t do without. Now the girls at 3.5 yrs. are able to hold onto the baggage cart or stay put when asked.

20. Renting cars/minivans – be sure to find out when renting your car at the airport where exactly is the service. In Hawaii we had to take a bus to the rental car place. That meant piling all the ‘stuff’ onto the bus, then emptying it all, waiting in a long line and then piling it back in. Again – bottlenecks – be sure you have a solution for them! Also some car rental agencies price their rates higher at airports and less at other locations. If you can have people pick you up and then rent a car away from the airport that might be better.

21. The Toilet! If your babies are in diapers still, change them on your lap. It’s cleaner than the restroom. Unless they pooped! The restroom is a comical act that I have now perfected when the girls were potty trained at 2 years of age. My girls always want to be with me and don’t want to stay in their seats if one has to go, so we all three go to the restroom. You know if you leave one outside the door they will pull a handle to something that might cause difficulties so it’s best just to have everyone together in that small space.
Step 1 – take Clorox wipes and wipe down the seat and all areas in touching area.
Step 2 – have one child stand with their back to the toilet paper roll.
Step 3 – take your Kalencom On the Go Potty, lay it flat on the seat.
Step 4 – take second child and place on the potty. Be sure to remind them only to hold onto the purple handles. The parent is able to fit with their back to the door.
Step 5 – Switch children
Step 6 – Your turn with children on either side of you. (If you’re a mom you are aware you never go alone anymore)
This potty is the best potty ever as it fits into a purse. One of my daughters had to go potty on the descent into the airport. I was able to take it out of my purse with the bag, slide it under her with her seatbelt on, wrap it up and put it under the seat while we landed. This has happened twice and yes I’ve taken her to the restroom prior to this experience.

22. Safety – With toddlers running/walking in different directions in a large crowded space I invested in bracelets so if they did get lost they would be able to show someone their bracelet and have me called. The bracelets I use are Road ID. The Safety Education and Skill Set I use is Savvy Parents Safe Kids.

One other thing – Have people come to you when you have traveled with your babies. You’re the one with the kids. It’s difficult to transport all the ‘stuff’ to other places. Keep one place as your home base and take day trips.

Just remember things will not be perfect. Things will go wrong…its how you handle them. Remember any issues and make the changes on your next travel.

 

How Rashida did it

Time for a vacation…. Yay! Travel to exotic locations…. Hooray!!
Wait a minute…. We have multiples! … And they were just about 9 months old. The daunting task of traveling with twins. Once we decided where we were going (Yemen, Egypt and India) and the amount of time (2 months), it came down to lists, lists and lists.
I wrote down everything they would need on a daily basis – diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, solids (pouches), a few toys, hand wipes, enough clothes so on…. It was all mostly baby lists. But it helped to get organized and get your mind in the travel frame. Everything will go fine if you’re not married to your schedule! Go with the flow… Things will go wrong. Move on.
I packed in such a way that all the bags (6 in total) had everything equally for all of us. Hubby’s things, my things, kid things. That way if a bag got lost we had others with our stuff. I put everything in zip lock bags and labeled them in my diaper bag, so that security checks were easy breezy and no one gets to touch my baby things. The labeling also helped hubby find things too.

The flight from Seattle to New York was a little challenging, as we had the kids on our laps and we were in different rows… Airline rules! I had some treats for the passengers 2 rows before and after us, to soften the blow of the crying babies… Just in case!

For ear pressure I had Sippy cups for the girls with water and that helped a lot during takeoff and landing. I kept them on Seattle time until we got to Egypt. The baby carriers help with holding your baby and walking up and down the aisle hands free. We also bought the Similac 4oz packets for diaper bags during flight travel… Easier to carry and no measuring needed.

Egypt was fun, we were there for visits to holy shrines as well as got to do some sightseeing. Boat rides, pyramids and the crystal museum too. We fed the girls on the go and they slept through long car rides. We didn’t carry any car seats as most these countries don’t have strict laws on that yet! So they were in our laps and enjoyed watching out the window. We did get two umbrella strollers with the munchkin attachment so it becomes one stroller to handle at airports.

Yemen is a beautiful country and though still developing, we had packed enough of their food and formula and diapers to get us through until we landed in India. The climate in both these places was pleasant… Though I had packed a lot of winter things for them! Never used them!Needless to say they were celebrities everywhere we went. Twins! There is something so fascinating about having two at the same time. People will bend over heels to help you, if you just ask.

India was a whole different ball game. The weather was HOT and HUMID! Girls fell sick – diarrhea, fever, and mosquito bites! We did carry a mosquito net with us… Which we started using after the damage was done! I could blame that on my mama brains and being tired after two countries!We still stuck to our bed time routine of bath, food, book and lights out by 7… It was the naps that I allowed wiggle room. Which worked fine for us, as all the travel and driving around would get them tired to make sure bed time was easy. I also carried the red light with us so help us navigate the room once the girls slept as well as the noise machine.

For the most part the girls were healthy and had a blast in all the countries! It felt like we deserved a medal to have managed everything and still be sane! Now the only mistake that we made was booking a flight from Dubai to Seattle (Emirates). 15 hours flight! Jeez! What were we thinking….? Or not thinking in this case. I put the girls the bed the usual time and had to wake them up at midnight to get to the airport. They were doing so well through check-in, boarding; which made us confident that the flight would be ok! So… Once flight takes off… Hell begins! It was 6 hours of crankiness, crying, not able to fall asleep and both wanting only mama for comfort. In an economy class… This task is impossible to achieve! So we had the girls in our carriers, and were walking and swaying for most of that flight and they finally fell asleep! The hostess was kind enough to take a picture of all of us finally asleep!! Now that’s a memory I’ll never forget!

Rashida Ronaque

Visiting Pike’s Place – Place Pigalle is a must!

place_pigalle_logoTRPlace Pigalle is a fabulous restaurant. Scrumptious food, spectacular views of Puget Sound and history to take in (seedy watering hole in 1909). If you’re downtown Seattle, close to Pike’s Place Market or at the Market be sure to stop in and have lunch or dinner at this restaurant. Place Pigalle is one of my favorites and my family’s favorites. When my father visits he insists we all go (including the twins) and have lunch – beet salad, crab cakes, scallops and of course white wine! The crab cakes are the best I’ve tasted in Seattle. Note: they are known for the exceptional seafood dishes sourced locally and served by friendly staff. This restaurant is great for a date night, lunch with the in-laws, girls’ luncheon or a business meeting.

It’s a bit tricky to find– it’s on the edge of the Market. You need to go to the big brass pig, under the famous Pike’s Place Market Sign where the fishmongers throw the fish (as seen in the movie Splash! And Sleepless in Seattle), venture left and travel between the butcher and the fishmonger and you’ll see a fluorescent sign and the view. There are a few steps down to the entrance so strollers can be left up behind the fishmonger.
Enjoy!