Book Review: Tiger of the Snows

The Scoop Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest is a serious and beautiful, poetic story about the Tibetan climber who summited Mt Everest with Edmund Hillary.

Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest
Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest

Does your child have impossible dreams? Or perhaps he or she is more like my son, Everest, who is so pragmatic that it sometimes gets in the way of big dreams? Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest is about how the childhood dream of Tenzing Norgay, who grew up in the shadow of Mount Everest, came true when he summited the mountain with Edmund Hillary. It's a serious story, best received by readers 5+. The poetry avoids the saccharine sweet rhymes that dominate most children's books, and coupled with the adventurous story it's a great fit for young boys.

Side note: This seems like such a lovely way to honor Tenzing Norgay's contribution. In western culture, we tend to honor those who look like us more than people from other cultures, and at the time Hillary received higher honors than Norgay. He is widely regarded as inspirational by many Asians, and his is a story of the ability to grow from a humble childhood to worldwide fame through hard work and focus.

Tiger of the Snows captures the drama of Mount Everest's Summit in poetry
Tiger of the Snows captures the drama of Mount Everest's Summit in poetry
Related Links
Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest (affiliates link)
Children's Travel Books

Disclosure: I purchased this book myself, but whenever I receive a free product or service, I will always let you know. If you buy a product through one of my Amazon links, I do receive a small commission, and that income helps me keep this site going.

Photo Friday: First Day of Summer

Savoring every moment!
Savoring every moment!

Happy first day of summer! I hope you and your kids are savoring every moment!

What is Photo Friday?

  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated.
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo.
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well!
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required.
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.

Book Review: Off We Go to Mexico - An Adventure in the Sun

The Scoop A visual journey, packed with sun-drenched illustrations through Mexico. Each two spread page introduces several spanish words and a poetic description of something one might experience in Mexico.

Off we go to Mexico! And Adventure in the Sun by Laurie Krebs and Christopher Corr
Off we go to Mexico! And Adventure in the Sun by Laurie Krebs and Christopher Corr

Off We Go to Mexico is best for young kids (age 2-5) who aren't expecting a storyline, but will enjoy this book's detailed, colorful pictures and lilting rhyme. Off We Go to Mexico gives a nice overview of Mexican culture the way a child might experience it. If your child is learning Spanish, translated words and phrases, included in each two page spread, could be a great conversation starter, and if a trip to Mexico is the first time your child will be encountering a foreign language they'd be a great opportunity to discuss how that works.

If you're headed to Mexico, the simplified match at the end of the book would be a great way to point out where you're headed without getting drawn into the details of roadways and geographic features.

Off We Go to Mexico
Off We Go to Mexico
Related Links
Buy: Off We Go to Mexico (affiliates link)
Children's Books and Toys for a trip to Mexico
Book Review: A Mango in the Hand

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book so that I could check it out. I will be donating it to my children's school library. If you buy a product through one of my Amazon links, I do receive a small commission, and that income helps me keep this site going.

Photo Friday: Museum Going

Kids at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Kids at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

We're always sort of nervous when we take the kids to a historical or cultural museum. True, there have been some sticky moments, but more often they surprise us by finding something they're interested in, as they did in this picture taken at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. When we're at our best, we can use that as a hook to carry us through a bit more of the collection.

Related Links
Albuquerque with kids

What is Photo Friday?

  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated.
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo.
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well!
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required.
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.

Photo Friday: Memories

Everest and his dad ride in Disneyland's Astro Orbiter
Everest and his dad ride in Disneyland's Astro Orbiter

There's something special about taking your own kids to do something that was magical for you as a child. For me, the opportunity to be up high, sailing through the sky on the Astro Orbiter, is a hazy childhood memory, so it has been fun to revisit this ride year after year at Disneyland.

Related Links
Orange County and Disneyland with kids
Contrarian advice for visting Disneyland with kids

What is Photo Friday?

  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated.
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo.
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well!
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required.
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.

Book Review: Paris with Children

The Scoop The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children is the kid-friendly guidebook you wish you had for every city. The author, who knows the city like a local, provides recommendations and advice to help you get the most out of grown-up attractions like the Louvre, find kid friendly activities like French cooking classes, and eat in restaurants that feature French food but also accomodate American-food-focused kids well.

Paris with Children
Paris with Children

The cover, and small size make The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children feel like a special gift from your most stylish friend, and somehow that made it hard for me to take this guide to Paris with Kids seriously. It sat on my nightstand for weeks before I finally cracked the cover. I read the introduction in detail, and then focused on the sections of the city that I know best, inspecting to make sure that the advice made sense for kids, that the author was recommending quality restaurants and attractions, and that the organization made sense. I'm a tough audience when it comes to guidebooks since each one weighs heavy in a daypack already loaded down with sippycups and wetnaps.

Paris with Children - a page about the Jardin des Tuileries
Paris with Children - a page about the Jardin des Tuileries
The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children: Play, Eat, Shop, Stay really delivered. I loved the suggestions in the introduction for bilingual summer day camps and year round festivals that would appeal to children. There's even a list of babysitting services. That's the type of information a friend in the area might have, but you'll rarely see it in a guidebook.

The neighborhood guides did a good job of giving kid-centered advice about what to do in each of the most touristed parts of Paris. Listings included a few kid focused options (for example a cooking school near the Louvre) and the major attractions. Each listing is brief, but gives you an overview of how you might attack it with kids in tow, and an overview of the snack or meal options inside (you know you'll never make it through the Louvre without a snack break or two). Restaurant recommendations run the gamut from quality local places that accomodate kids well to kid-comforts like the Hard Rock Cafe.

Paris with Children - a detail page on shopping in Paris
Paris with Children - a detail page on shopping in Paris

Can I include a quick plug? If you're already carrying your smartphone on vacation, consider adding all your favorite Paris recommendations to TripDoc (my iPhone app). Just give TripDoc the names, and it will plot them all on a map so that you can plan out your days and find your way around Paris.

Related Links
Buy: The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children: Play, Eat, Shop, Stay (affiliates link)
Children's Books and Toys for a trip to Paris
City Guide: Paris with Kids

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book so that I could check it out. I donate products valued over $40 to charity. This book, valued at $19.95, is being loaned to a series of Paris-bound friends this summer. If you buy a product through one of my Amazon links, I do receive a small commission, and that income helps me keep this site going. TripDoc is the iPhone app my husband and I co-developed.

Finding Time for Yourself When You Travel With Kids

View from Seattle's Alki Beach at Sunset
View from Seattle's Alki Beach at Sunset

I've been invited by Residence Inn to contribute to their Family Travel Talk Forum on Facebook this year. I'm joining several other blogging parents and I'm excited to see it shape up as a lively forum where we can share tips about traveling with kids.

My first post, about how to find a moment for yourself without completely ditching the kids, is up now (yes, it's possible). You can check it out here and I hope you'll share your own tips for finding balance when you're traveling with family.

Photo Friday: Up Close and Personal at the Fantasy Faire

My niece gets a chance to get close to a *real* princess
My niece gets a chance to get close to a *real* princess

There's no doubt that Disneyland can be magical for its youngest visitors, but the large scale can sometimes be overwhelming too. That's why we always try to seek out a few spots where the kids can feel like they're having an experience that's all their own.

The new Fantasy Faire at Disneyland was the perfect spot for my two year old niece. Kids line up outside the Royal Hall and are escorted (along with their families) to meet each of the princesses who are in attendance. During our visit, she got time with Ariel, Aurora and Cinderella. Like the Mikey meet and greet in Toon Town, our visit was completely unrushed and since she was a little nervous, she had time to get comfortable and talk with each princess before I swooped in with cameras to try to get the perfect shot.

Related Links
Orange County, CA with Kids
Contrarian advice for visiting Disneyland
All posts about Disney

What is Photo Friday?

  • Post a travel photo on your site. It can be about any topic, as long as it is G-rated.
  • The focus of the post should be on your photo.
  • You don't need to be a professional photographer (I'm not), but do showcase your best work, and make it big enough to see well!
  • It's nice to include a few sentences about the photo, but it is not required.
  • Link back here so that your readers can see all the other great Photo Friday posts.

Family Travel at Conde Nast Traveler

Inside Conde Nast Traveler's Family Travel Issue
Inside Conde Nast Traveler's Family Travel Issue

This month, in order to celebrate their second annual family travel issue, the Conde Nast Traveler website is featuring advice from a handful of top family travel bloggers (including me) each Wednesday. The first post, about Packing for a family vacation is already up. It's a fun and useful read, so I hope you'll check it out!

While you're there, you can also check out all of my past posts on Conde Nast Traveler and some great advice from the newsstand issue.

Updated Sunscreen Recommendations for 2013

Today, the Environmental Working Group releases its annual report on safe sunscreens. The report is well worth checking out, both for advice on using sunscreen properly and to find products that don't contain harmful chemicals but do provide adequate sun protection. You might be surprised to learn that some big brands, even in their "kids" formulations aren't as great as you assumed.

The gentle waves at the zero-depth entry pool has Eilan a little concerned
The gentle waves at the zero-depth entry pool has Eilan a little concerned

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years

  • Sunscreens expire, and many have an expiration date stamped on the bottom. I write the year on each tube when I get it so that I can toss it if it isn't used up within three years. (Sharpie works well, and you'll want to add your name too)
  • You need lots! For an adult, 1 ounce (think shot-glass-size) would cover all exposed parts of the body. For kids, half that much would be about right.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and every time you get out of the water, don't count on high SPF or "waterproof" formulas to give you extra protection... they don't.
  • Spray and Powder sunscreens are touted for kids because they're so easy to apply, but there are serious concerns about their safety for young lungs. I like the goopy white stuff for the body and a stick sunscreen for face.
  • Cold sunscreen on a warm body sends my kids running. I squeeze out some lotion, rub it in my hands to warm it, and then slater it on.
  • It's hard to get kids to sit still for lotion while everyone else is running in the sun. One trick is to hand over a stick of chewing gum. By the time the flavor is gone, you'll be done rubbing in sunscreen. And ideally, you would apply the sunscreen about 30 minutes before you head outdoors.
  • The best way to avoid sun damage is to avoid the sun. Peak hours for UV rays are between 10am and 3pm. Did you know that you can check expected UV levels in advance? Check out this handy website from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Product Recommendations

General Purpose
Vanicream Sunscreen. This has been my go-to sun protection for years. It works well on my kids' sensitive skin and is easy to rub in with no white residue or staining.

Darya wishes she could be transported into the pool
Darya wishes she could be transported into the pool

Face
Faces are tricky, and I like to use a stick since it's less likely to end up in my kids' eyes. All Terrain KidSport SPF28 Natural Sunscreen Face Stick is a cheaper, but still great alternative to the Aveeno Sun Natural Protection Baby SPF 50 Stick I recommended last year. Both provides good quality sun protection, though they do leave some whiteness. The small size makes these sticks to keep in my purse or pocket every day.

Lips
I like the not-too-goopy Kiss My Face Organic Vanilla Honey Lip Balm, SPF 15 and my kids like the scent. Since this is for lips, I buy one tube per kid and label it with a sharpie.

Eyes
Nope, there's no magic sunscreen for the eyes. Instead you'll need to buy good quality, sturdy sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses - preferably ones that wrap around to block light from the side.

Low quality glasses that don't have 100% UV protection can do more harm than good, so any sunglasses you received as a party favor should be disposed of before summer begins. I also avoid sunglasses available at children's clothing stores since quality varies and you may not be sure about UV protection (not everything stamped 100% UV passes the test).

If you're an optometrist and have recommendations based on an independent review, I'd love to hear them in comments! The brands I'm aware of that use a high quality lens and frame are Real Kids Shades, Julbo and BabyBanz / KidzBanz.

One note: It's worth letting your kids choose their own sunglasses since they're more likely to wear something they like.

Natural Supplements
There is some evidence that the vitamins in your diet can help prevent or even heal sun damage. While I wouldn't recommend adding supplements beyond the daily vitamin your doctor recommends, I do think it's worth making sure your child's diet includes good quality sources of Vitamin C and A (both of which can be found in summertime favorites like Cantaloupe and Apricot).

Related Links
  • Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection for more recommendations, from clothing to sunshades, check out my post on sun protection for your child
  • Beach Safety with Kids

    Disclosure: I have not received free samples or been paid to recommend any of the products in this post and all of the products I recommend are the ones I purchase for my own kids. If you buy a product through one of my Amazon links, I do receive a small commission, and that income helps me keep this site going.