Traveling With Kids In Hot Weather

Sometimes, travel occurs in the hotter months, or in the summer. This can be hard work when you’re on your own, or with a friend or partner. But when you’ve got a kid, or kids, and are taking them along with you? It is a totally different ball game. Whether you’re traveling to steaming hot sunshine in Hawaii or a hot New York afternoon, you’ll need to be prepared.

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Here is how to make traveling kids in hot weather more bearable for everyone. Here is a clue; It’s all in the preparation.

First off, be sure to give some careful consideration to how you are traveling. Taking your own car is great, as you get to decide when you travel and how. But if that option isn’t available, bus travel is a good alternative. Buses now have good air-con, which will keep everyone cool when it is hot outside. Many have toilets on them too, which can avoid other types of discomfort. Also, be sure to book your bus tickets in advance. You can pick them up on online these days, which is really handy. Get bus tickets from Shofur, for example, and they guarantee clean, safe and pleasant travel. All of which are great words in a parent’s vocab!

Next, you need to think about your packing. Taking the right items with you will make all the difference. Layers are the best way to dress your children in hot weather. If they get too hot, you can strip them down to just one layer. However, if they go inside a shop with air-conditioning, for example, you can keep them warm. Hand-held fans are way more effective than the nearest sheet of paper! Or, consider a little electric hand-held fan.

Outside in the heat, a wide-brimmed hat will do more than just protect their heads. It will also keep their heads cool. Plus, the wide brim will protect and cool their forehead and neck. Of course, sunblock is a must in hot weather. You can use it to cool them down also. Keep it in a cool bag and it will go on nice and cold. Or get a mist; these usually come out much cooler than those in bottles.
You also need to give some thought to your activities. If you will be inside a lot of the time, you’ll be fine. But what if you’ve got outdoor activities planned, like hiking or swimming. The right clothing, hat and sunscreen will go a long way. But so will keep them in the shade. Or, if they are out in the sun, having them go in the shade every half an hour or so. This will keep their body temperature down, and generally, keep them happier! Sunstroke is not fun.

Finally, be sure you keep your kids hydrated. It will keep them happy and functioning, and will again ward off sunstroke. Being dehydrated can just lead to mild things like headaches, but again, this is not something you want to deal with while traveling.

Why Won’t My Garden Grow? Gardening When You Don’t Have a “Green Thumb”

My son and I love to garden, and dad gets in on it as well- at least on the vegetable gardening portion. I’ve always wanted one of those amazing, fragrant rose gardens (of course, with other flowers in the mix as well) and my son shares this dream, perhaps oddly.  He loves to run around in gardens, and now that he’s older, take photos of all of his favorite flowers. Roses top that list.

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We plant seeds inside each year as well, and transplant the ones that can live outdoors outside when the weather is right.  My son loves watching his little greenhouses grow.  They are also fun 4H projects for the end of the year now that he’s old enough to participate in those clubs.  There are all sorts of cute kits we like to try, as well as the traditional seeds and dirt.

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We also grow a fruit and (mostly) vegetable garden every year.  We don’t have a large yard, and neither of our gardens are huge- just rows along the fences. But we enjoy it, and that’s what matters. Some of the plants we grow from seeds, others from “starter” plants from home stores, and this year from these interesting pods from Miracle Gro. (Read about them here if you want.)  I hadn’t seen them before, but he likes them, and most of them are growing pretty well so far.

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We are also going to pick up some hanging baskets this year for strawberries and hulaberries- which are similar, but have a pineapple flavor. We usually grow them on the ground, but thought we’d try something new this year since we are growing both blackberries and blueberries this year as well.

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Last year, I didn’t do much with the garden.  It has quickly become over-run with weeds and growth.  My bushes, plants, and flowers (bulbs too!) have just not been doing well, and it’s frustrating.  The bulbs have been rotting in the ground, 2 out of 4 rosebushes have died over the past 4 years, 1 out of 2 azaleas have died (and the other won’t grow), and neither hydrangea is growing or doing well. I’ve been composting, tilling the soil, fertilizing, and winterizing the plants- and with no luck.

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This year, as gardening season finally gets started here in NJ, I’m really making an effort to figure out what’s going on with my poor garden.  Is it the soil, the sunlight, some kind of bug- or just a terrible gardener?

We started with 2 days of garden cleanup, weeding, tilling, etc, and put a few new plants in.  Let us see how this season progresses.

Wish me luck, please!

 

Tips for Catching Your Kids on Film

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Getting precious memories of your kids is probably one of the best parts of having a smartphone. No longer do you need to fumble around with film or have to remember to bring your camera. Instead you always have your phone with you, and it’s ready at a moment’s notice. The following are a few tips and tools to help you capture the best smartphone pictures possible:

Modes

For a lot of situations, the automatic settings on modern phone cameras are great at capturing everyday moments. But if you need something more, knowing what other modes you have access to will always be advantageous.

  • HDR: This combines two or more separate shots, one that is more exposed to capture shadow details and one that is less exposed to get the highlights. These photos are then merged together and give better dynamic range to the scene. The downside is that it takes multiple photos for HDR to work. This can lead to artifacts in fast-moving objects, such as children, and HDR also takes a few seconds to process, meaning you don’t have the same burst capability as you would otherwise.
  • Manual/Pro: Here you have access to more settings such as ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation, which gives you control over the look of a scene. If your kid is running around in a dark room, you can increase the shutter speed and the ISO to make sure you don’t get a blur across the frame.
  • Slow Motion: Not only has the smartphone replaced a dedicated camera for many situations, but it also has replaced the camcorder. Kids can move fast, especially if they are excited, so the slow motion mode of a Samsung Galaxy S7 is great for capturing that new trick they learned or their game-winning hit. Just remember that slow motion needs more light, so shooting outside or in an otherwise brightly lit area is recommended. When shooting in slow motion, you also won’t be able to take advantage of 4K — shooting instead in 1080 or 720 HD — but this is still more than enough for most people.

Camera Apps

One of the most popular photography apps is Instagram. Before sharing your photos with your favorite social network, so friends and family can see what you kid is up to, try out some of Instagram’s filters. After Instagram’s latest update, you can even have up to 60-second videos posted with ease.

If sharing isn’t what you want, a photo editing app such as Snapseed is great for on-the-go editing. The simple interface uses your finger to drag for more or less of the feature you are tweaking. Snapseed also has presets available to achieve a specific look.

Taking the Shot

Kids can move quickly, so you have to be ready to capture the right moment. Being able to launch the camera app quickly and easily is going to go a long way in making sure that you’ll capture the moment. Most Android phones are starting to move to a “double tap” of the home/power button for a quick launch of the camera. Otherwise, you can set the camera to open when you swipe up from the corner of your lock screen.

This also applies to the shutter button. Knowing where you need to press ensures you are not going to be fumbling and miss the moment. If you have the option, setting the shutter to release on touching the screen ensures you have a nice big button to press when the time is right.

Rest Rite- Get a Great Night’s Sleep

Disclosure- I received the below in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own and honest. For more, see “I Disclose”.

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As many of you who have been pregnant know, getting a great night sleep after you are to your 2nd or 3rd trimester can be incredibly hard. I can only wish that I would have found this great product with my previous 2 pregnancies. The Rest Rite has been a pretty neat tool to use on my really rough nights.

About Rest Rite:

The Rest Rite Sleep Positioner is an innovative new device that was designed to train your body to sleep in the best position for your needs by repositioning you as you sleep in a comfortable way. It can also be used as an over the counter breathing aid while serving as one of the best home remedies for sleep trouble on the market. It is safe and comfortable.

The product then acts as a “bubble” that gently encourages you to stay off your back throughout the night. It can also be placed on other parts of your body to encourage a different sleeping position.

It can help with:

  • Snoring and Sleep Apnea
  • Pregnancy
  • Injury
  • Heartburn
  • Reflux
  • Back Pain
  • Gerd

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We all know that pregnancy causes havoc on peaceful nights’ sleep. The American Pregnancy Association says that sleeping on the back during pregnancy can cause health issues such as backaches, difficulty in breathing and a decrease in circulation to the heart and the baby. They recommend Sleeping on the Side position for a better, healthier night’s sleep and even better, on the left side to improve circulation and move nutrient-packed blood from a mother’s heart to the placenta to nourish the baby.

The comfortable Rest-Rite Sleep Positioner attaches directly onto the back with easily-removed, residue-free, medical grade adhesive, and gently helps to remind a pregnant woman to roll back to her side if she accidentally rolls onto her back while sleeping. It won’t shift during the night, making falling and staying asleep easier.

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My Thoughts:

I was incredibly impressed with the Rest-Rite. I am just now at the end of my 2nd trimester and staying asleep at night is starting to become tricky. I typically am a side sleeper, so being pregnant and having to sleep on my side has never really been a problem for me. I will tell you that now this far along into my 3rd pregnancy my body has a hard time some nights staying on  my side thanks to that little thing called gravity. 🙂 . I have been impressed on the nights that I have used the Rest-Rite and would definitely recommend it to any pregnant friend that was having rough nights and having the problem of rolling onto their back.

Purchase:

If you are interested in purchasing this amazing product, head on over to their website and order a box for yourself to see how great it is!

Road Trip With the 2016 Mazda 6

Over the course of one of our recent excursions, we were given the opportunity to try out the new 2016 Mazda 6.  With tons of bells and whistles as well as a super efficient engine, the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine takes efficiency to a whole new performance level, with better EPA-estimated highway MPG than the competition.

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This car is a fun to drive, and the ride is smooth.  From the side front and rear radar, all your sides are covered and as long as you are careful, good driving is easy to do in such a safe environment.  The Mazda 6 also has the added benefit of a stellar safety system.

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This includes standard safety featureslike advanced front air bags, front side-impact air bags, side-impact air curtains*, Dynamic Stability Control* with Traction Control System, 4-wheel ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist, Available Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert*, Smart City Brake Support*, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning*, Lane Departure Warning System*, High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Close Proximity Warning*.

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Overall this car was a blast to drive.  The handling felt like I was driving a larger car then I was, which kept me further from the vehicles around me (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  It was still something to get used to.

Especially since this is the first time I have had the pleasure of using the HUD to display speed and directions.  This is a small projected image on a see-though screen near the bottom of the windshield. This acts as a quick information window which can be glanced at while driving without distracting the driver.  (My husband loved it, he thought it was one of the coolest things about the car and he talked way too much about it- for me, it was a little unusual.)

It had a ton of trunk space, which really matters for any family. Perfect for travel, but also for those every day activities like shopping or heading to the grocery store. This model also had a GPS unit that was easy to use, and if you are like me, a necessity for getting from point A to point B once you are out of your comfort zone.  The front and back seats had lots of leg room- and head room.  My husband is nearly 6’4, and he was able to fit comfortably into the car without his head hitting the top. This is unusual.  For bigger people, it’s good to know.  My son had room in the back, even when I had my seat back.  We were all comfortable- something I can’t usually say in most cars.

Be sure to keep an eye out and check out the Mazda 6 at a local Mazda dealer near you.

Tips for Travel with Children

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I frequently travel, and since becoming a mother, it hasn’t stopped me. Travel with children can be a little difficult. It can be a little stressful. It doesn’t have to be though! They may be, slightly out of their normal routine, but it doesn’t have to mean a bad experience for you. Here are some tips to make travel with children a little easier.

Time

Take your time. Whether that is getting to the airport, making a connection or getting to a hotel. There is no rush. Just plan ahead and make sure you allow a lot of time. I have found that kids love the airport. They get to have a walk, see the airplanes and eat snacks. So allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy it as much as you can. I think if you are feeling stressed, your kids notice.

Plan

This might sound like an obvious one, but it is so important. From the method of travel to the hotel, it all needs to be planned. You don’t want to turn up to the hotel to find that is isn’t family friendly or doesn’t have any travel cribs. Read the fine print when booking a hotel, and opt for family friendly hotels like Hotwire hotels. Then you won’t be faced with any unexpected surprises.

The other important things to plan are what you will do at your destination and how you will travel. If it is just adults you can just hire a car and it isn’t a problem. With children, there is the extra foreplanning for things like car seats. Will you take your own? Does your airline allow you to take them without a charge? How much are they to rent? These are all important questions to think about.

Every destination will have something for the family to do. Do your research ahead of time to find out what the best spots are. Some attractions may need to be booked in advance. You don’t want to find that you have to wait in a long line with tired children!

Pack Light

Well, with kids, as light as you possibly can. They don’t need to bring all their favourite toys. One or two would be plenty. This is when technology comes in handy too. If you have a smartphone or tablet, can you use that to entertain them on the plane or car journeys? You will most likely be taking it anyway, and it will keep them occupied for a length of time for sure.

The other thing to do with the things you are taking is check the climate of the destination. If it is a varied climate, it is trickier. If you know it will be cold, pack accordingly. Likewise for warmth. When you book your hotel or villa, it is worth checking if there is a laundry service or a washing machine available. This will mean you won’t have to pack something for each day. Do a little laundry and you will be able to pack rather light.
Good luck on your travels! It doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect. Relax, deep breaths and enjoy!

Get Your Loved Ones a Membership to the Newark Museum

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Founded in 1909 as an institution of art, science and industry by famed museologist John Cotton Dana, the Newark Museum is New Jersey’s largest museum, and one of the most influential museums in the United States. Bringing together art and science, the Museum allows for an educational and inspirational journey through 80 galleries of world-class collections including American, Asian, African and Classical. The Museum boasts the largest collection of Tibetan art in the Western hemisphere, the 1885 National Register Ballantine House, and one of the leading collections of American Modernism in the country.

The Museum complex also includes the Victoria Hall of Science, the Alice and Leonard Dreyfuss Planetarium, the Junior Museum, the Billy Johnson Auditorium, the Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, an authentic Schoolhouse from 1784, and the Newark Fire Museum.

The Newark Museum’s distinguished art collections are international in scope and importance, and include 18th- to 20th-century American Painting and Sculpture; an important collection of Decorative Arts including the nation’s most acclaimed collection of pots; the Arts of Global Africa; a world-renowned Asian Art collection; Classical Antiquities, representing Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman societies and an unparalleled collection of ancient glass. The Museum’s holdings in the Natural Sciences include a far ranging 75,000-specimen collection.

The Newark Museum is a nationally recognized leader in arts education, with one of the most impressive museum education programs in the country. Offerings include lectures, gallery talks, group and public tours, classes and arts workshops for adults and children. Most drop-in art and science programs are free.

PURCHASE A GIFT MEMBERSHIP TODAY!

Visit our website at www.newarkmuseum.org or contact Membership Department at 973.596.6686 or [email protected]

Win Tickets to Nickelodeon’s Dora and Diego at Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center is a great place to spend the day with your children, and with its constantly changing exhibits, it is always worth the visit.  It is located on the Hudson near the statue of Liberty st Liberty State Park.

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One of their newest exhibits stars Nickelodeon’s famous Dora and Diego, as well as a whole plethora of their friends.  The exhibit is called Dora and Diego- Let’s Explore and is geared toward fans of the hit shows Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!

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In the exhibit, kids will explore various settings from the show including the purple planet, Isa’s Flowery Garden and Tico’s Tree and Car.  Each is a fun place to explore, teaching kids using hands on methods about a topics from the constellations to plants and animals. Many topics are touched upon and will get your little ones asking questions, a bit more curious about the world around them.  There is even an opportunity for your little ones to board a rocket ship and dress up as astronauts, pilot the ship, and test their memory.  For the buccaneers in your crew, there is even a pirate ship manned (or rather pigged) by the Pirate Piggies crew.  Kids can to dress as pirates, dig through treasure, and share the coins among the piggies’ banks.

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Of the exhibits, one of the biggest is the Rainforest Maze, which lets kids explore the rainforest looking for animals while swinging across the Bobo Brothers’ monkey bars, crawling through a fallen tree, climbing across Jaguar Mountain and jumping across the River Rocks.

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The Dora and Diego – Let’s Explore exhibit is open now through January 24, 2016 at Liberty Science Center and is presented by the WellPoint Foundation and Bank of America.  Liberty Science Center is a great way to spend a day during the Winter break to keep your kids active and learning for hours on end.

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One of you can win 4 tickets to the Liberty Science Center- just leave your name and email address in a comment below if you’d like to win.  Ends Dec. 18, 2015. Thanks!