Showing posts with label School Holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label School Holidays. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2015

School Holidays

The school holidays are over and I am busy trying to convince the boys that the school routine is really much more fun for all of us than the carefree days of the holidays. They remain unconvinced.

Easter, the highlight of the holidays for the 6 year old, was low key and relaxed. Last year we had Easter at Depot and the boys were desperate to return as apparently the Easter Bunny was significantly more generous there and also provided a variety of eggs previously never seen before.  Much to their disappointment though we elected to stay in Sydney as we needed to do some things around the house! As you can see, the Easter Bunny on the Northern Beaches of Sydney still provides ample eggs and bunnies for small children to ruin their teeth with.

The nine year old is now quite the salty sea dog and spent most of his holidays at sailing camp.  

The six year old is still the outdoorsy type.

He spent his holidays outside. He truly is a naturalist.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Los Angeles

 Way back in early January we visited Los Angeles for a few days en route to Canada and in the interests of actually documenting some of our life events on the blog I thought it was about time I wrote a post about it!

We have visited LA on our way to Canada (and on two occasions also on the return trip) for the past three years.  Partly because we like to break up the long trip to Canada with the kids and partly because we love it there.  My husband lived in LA for a while in his twenties and gets a hankering for a visit every now and then.  I love the shopping and the restaurants!  The boys are learning to love it!

We have stayed either in Santa Monica or in Beverley Hills.  Both are great places but if I had to choose between the two locations I would pick Santa Monica.  Choose a hotel along the promenade and then it is an easy walk to the beach, playgrounds and one of LA's best shopping precincts.   If you are travelling with kids the promenade in Santa Monica is brilliant for children and a great place for them to explore and burn off some energy!

Despite our frequent visits to LA we have never 'done' Disneyland.  The boys have never even asked us to go. Everyone from the moment we get on the plane in Sydney assumes that is why we are heading to California and asks the boys if they are looking forward to Disneyland, so it isn't even as if they don't know about it.  They just don't seem to be that interested in going.  They do get excited about our annual visit to Pizzeria Mozza though!  

Activities for kids that they have enjoyed in LA have included a visit to the California Science Centre to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour.   The exhibit wasn't complete in January 2015 but it was still well worth a visit.  The boys couldn't quite believe the size of it, nor that it had actually been into space, and multiple times at that. The rest of the Museum is well worth investigating, it is similar to Questacon in Canberra with lots of hands on exhibits 

The highlight for the boys though was a visit to the Peterson Automotive Museum, the home of the Hot Wheels Museum and all sorts of other fabulous cars.  For my two little car fanatics this was literally paradise.  

They really enjoyed the Hot Wheels exhibit but they also loved the rest of the museum.  It is home to one of the largest automotive collections in the world and of course has lots of cars that have featured in all sorts of Hollywood films.  Including multiple Batmobiles and so on!

Their father loved this one, a 1966 Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by Steve McQueen!

My favourites were a toss up between these two!  Who remembers the movie the above car came from?  I seriously must have watched that movie a hundred times with my brother.

The boys could have spent all day exploring the museum and it is well worth a visit if you are in LA. 

The highlight for me in LA is the shopping and just simply exploring.  All of these photos were taken around Melrose Place as I love it there!

If you are looking for a decent coffee in LA - ignore everything on tripadvisor and other forums. Everywhere we tried was terrible.

Alfred we just stumbled across and thank goodness.  Perfect coffee every time.  They know what a flat white is.  Enough said.

Food wise the highlight of our trip to LA each year is Pizzeria Mozza!  We have two pizza connoisseurs in the family and they rate the pizza at Mozza as they best they have ever had!  Everything that we have ordered there has been fabulous though!

The Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica is great too for breakfast.  Not so much for the coffee but do go for the atmosphere and the boys rate the pancakes highly!

Look at that bougainvillea.  A visit to the Ivy at the Shore is essential just to walk through that fabulous entryway.  Until next time LA!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Flying with kids

As a former Flight Attendant and someone that travelled extensively as a child (my Father was a Diplomat) I feel more than qualified to write a blog post about airline travel with kids.  Plus  I seriously get asked all the time by people what my top tips for travelling with kids are, so I thought that I would collate them all in a blog post for anyone who is interested.  Please keep in mind though that this is just what has worked for me and my two rascals and is based upon my flying experiences.


Firstly check what the airline provides.

Many budget carriers these days don't include food as part of the inflight service.  They often sell food onboard, (check if you need to pre-order it) and keep in mind that popular items sell out quickly. A copy of the menu (for want of a better word) should be available online.   If you have picky eaters pack your own or if you want your kids eating something semi-nutritious, pack your own.  If in doubt, pack your own!  Make sure that it is not something that needs to be heated up.  For hygiene and safety reasons the Cabin Crew are not permitted to heat up food belonging to passengers.  No, there is not a microwave in the galley (if I had a dollar....) Nor is there room in the galley to keep things cold.  Use an ice pack and esky style lunch box if you want to keep anything on ice.

If the airline includes food as part of the service:  Buying a child's airfare does not automatically mean the airline provides a special child's meal.  This is something that you need to organise and be mindful that some airlines require you to book any special meals at the time of reservation.  Most though only require 24 hours notice, it is worth checking this out before you book your tickets just in case.  There are a huge variety of special meals available catering for almost every dietary need you can think of.  One of my favourites is a fruit platter (FPML).  The codes for a kids meal are CHML and for a babies meal,  BBML.  Never assume that your travel agent has ordered for you either.

Eating food on board: If you are travelling with a small child or an infant I highly recommend one of the adults ordering a special meal as well.  The special meals tend to be handed out first, this means that one of you can eat undisturbed whilst the other tends to the needs of the kids.  It is also handy to only have one tray down for food at a time, especially if you have an infant sitting on your lap! If you are travelling solo with a couple of kids this is when you need to ask for help.  Feed the kids first and then ask one of the cabin crew to sit and hold the baby for you so that you can eat.  

What do we do?  I pack a lot of snacks.  Mainly sliced fresh fruit, crackers, dried fruit, sandwiches, biscuits, veggie sticks, cheese sticks, sushi, tortellini (ricotta/spinach) mine will happily eat it plain and cold. I store it all in little zip lock baggies and then put it all together in my carry on in one big zip lock.   That way if there are any questions at security about content it can be seen easily without needing to be handled.  The bags can be re-used later if you are worried about waste.   I always end up using them for a bunch of different stuff on holiday.

Keep in mind:  LAG's: Liquids Aerosols and Gels on an International Flight

 Flying internationally means that any liquids or gels need to be stored in a container no greater in size than 100mls and must be presented at security in a clear zip lock bag.  This also applies to yoghourt and any drinks for children.  You can take empty bottles though security and have them filled once on the other side and it is also possible to purchase bottles of water and other drinks once you have passed through security.  Babies however are exempt from this rule so if you are travelling with an infant you are permitted to carry on board the 140ml sachets of pureed food and bottles of water larger than 100ml.


I pack both boys a backpack and load them up with a variety of stuff.  

Craft items:  The best ones are self-contained.  You can pick lots of different ones up at cheap $2 shop type places.  The Crayola "on the go" packs are great and at $3 (Kmart) are an affordable item.  Invisible Ink books are always good.  Mosaic kits, the Djeco ones are fantastic but I have seen cheap ones at KMart that look good as well.  Sticker books and colouring-in are usually good for an hours entertainment.   I  always pack a set of textas in one of the bags as well as a couple of Pacer style mechanical pencils, no need for a sharpener or eraser that way.

Books:  As I have two voracious readers I pack them both 2 or 3 books each to read for a long-haul flight.  Go for paperbacks! 

IPods: Both boys have iPods loaded up with hours of audiobooks.  The 9 year old is currently listening to the William books by Richmal Crompton, The Just So Stories,  The Jungle Book and The Railway Children.  The 6 year old has on his The Magic Tree House stories (Mary Pope Osbourne), The Magic Faraway series and so on.  The headphones we use are the Griffin ones.  We like them mainly because they are over the head style and are volume limited.  You can buy an airline adapter for them if you want to plug them into the airline entertainment system. They are compatible with iPads as well.

Balloons:  Balloons are one of my top travel items.  In the airport they make a quick, safe ball.  Fantastic for unexpected delays or for a transit when you want to run them around a bit.  Find a quiet spot and let them go for it.  We have ended up with a bunch of other kids playing as well.  Balloons are also an excellent way of helping kids clear their ears on descent. Hand them a balloon and have them try and inflate it.  This is way more effective than a lollipop I promise you! We have the Tiger Tribe balloon balls, little canvas covers that go over the balloons for rough play but any old balloons will do and they seriously take up no room.  Great in hotel rooms, hotel swimming pools and parks while you are away from home.  Pack balloons.

Other random things that work well on planes to entertain children:
  • A box of bandaids has been a life saver a number of times for me when the boys were little.  
  • Bubbles, I recommend the touchable ones.  The little container is under 100mls so meets the Liquid and Gel requirements for International flying and are great for airport transits and for hotel rooms.  

  • Jeliku Puzzles.  These are one of the best purchases I have ever made, they both played with them for hours on our last trip to Canada and the States, plus they are tiny, flat and super cheap.


Everything takes a lot longer with kids.  Don't book connecting flights too close together, especially if there is a terminal change.  They like to stop and look at stuff.  You know, you are a parent, everything takes longer!

If you have a couple of hours (or more) between flights check to see if the airport has a playground.  The one at Changi Airport in Singapore is well worth a visit if you have a transit stop.  If there isn't a playground pull out the balloons and bubbles.  If you have a long layover, more than 6 hours I would definitely consider checking into an airport hotel.   You can have a sleep, go for a swim, have a shower, get outside.


I still change my boys (yes, even the 9 year old) into pyjamas and follow the whole bedtime routine as much as we can. With little ones I would put them into a sleeping bag if you use one.

I always get asked this so I will answer the inevitable question, yes everyone in business and first class change into pjs.  Most passengers change straight after take off.  In Economy and Premium Economy though it is pretty rare, so wear something comfy.  For the kids though I would still change them into pjs.


Keep all the passports and boarding passes together, either in a travel document wallet or a zip lock bag would do the trick.  If you can, obtain copies of all the immigration cards/incoming passenger cards and fill them out at home beforehand.

If you are travelling alone with kids and you have a different last name to the children, you will also need a document from the other parent giving you permission to take the children out of the country.  It does not matter if you are married to the other parent you will still need the paperwork.  This happened to me in Singapore and a very good friend got pulled up in Sydney.  Neither of us were permitted to travel until we provided the necessary documentation.  You will need a notarized letter from the absent parent with all their details on it and all the relevant travel details (length of stay, destination etc).  If the child had only one parent at birth you will need a copy of the birth certificate.

Photocopy all of your travel documents, your travel insurance, credit cards and passport, carry a copy with you (separately to the originals) and leave a copy with someone you trust at home.  If something does go wrong or they go missing it means that the person at home will be able to assist you in replacing the originals.


If you are travelling within Australia and plan to drive at your destination I highly recommend travelling with your child's car seat.  Just ring ahead to the airline to advise them that you will be travelling with a car seat and as long as the car seat meets Australian Standard 1754 (a red and white sticker usually stuck under or on the back of the car seat) it should not be a problem.  Not all airlines do permit car seats on board though so definitely ring ahead to check that it is permitted.

I would be hesitant to consider travelling internationally with a car seat.  Mainly because different countries have different car seat regulations and an Australian car seat might not be approved for use at your holiday destination.  It would be a pain lugging around a car seat that you might not even be permitted to use.


Breast Feeding: If you are breast feeding, definitely try and feed on descent as this will help baby with any ear trouble. Just try and position the infant seatbelt into a comfortable position for both of you!  

Bottle feeding:  As there isn't a microwave on board the Cabin Crew can only warm a bottle up for you by placing it into a pot of hot water.  Do not fill any bottles up with aircraft tank water.  Carry on a bottle of filtered water or you can buy one once you pass through customs if you are flying long haul.  

As far as when is the best time to start nursing or giving the baby the bottle.  Wait until the seat belt sign is switched on.  The descent PA happens fairly early on in the actual descent of the aircraft and it is probably best to wait a while before you begin feeding.  Otherwise you might find that baby finishes feeding well before the true descent starts.

Older kids:  If they complain that their ears are hurting get them to try and blow up a balloon.  It is without a doubt the most effective way of clearing troublesome ears.  Lollipops work well too but I think more because the kid is distracted by the thought of getting a lollipop!


Having flown as an Unaccompanied Minor a number of times (albeit a very long time ago!) and looked after probably hundreds of them over the years I can reassure any panicky parents that your little ones are well cared for.  There is always one Flight Attendant who is assigned to caring for the "UMs" and they will keep an eye on them for the duration of the flight.  If there is a connecting flight involved the UMs are not free to wander the airport but instead are taken to a designated room in the airport that has toys and craft  to keep kids of all ages occupied until the next leg of their journey.

 Two things though:  pack your child a jumper or a cardigan as they often complain of being cold in the chilly cabin and often those that are stuck in airports due to transit delays have no money or food in their bags.  The ground staff are not permitted to feed your child anything and a delay can often be significant.  Either pack some snacks or else give them a little money if they are old enough.  The ground staff will escort the UM to the food court in order to purchase some food if the UM requests it.


A change of clothes:  Both boys get a complete change of clothes in their bags.  I put them inside a large zip lock bag.  The bag helps keep things together and flat in their backpacks and means that in the dark of the night on a plane you are not ferreting around in a backpack full of stickers, crayons and matchbox cars for a sock.  Just pull the entire bag out and then re-use the same bag to store away the wet clothes or their day clothes.   Keeping clothes in the bag also means that if they spill their drink, into their backpack whilst they are trying to get something out, the clothes inside are still dry. (Trust me on this one....).  A change of clothes is also super handy if your bags go missing.  In the bag on the left I have a pair of long pants, a t-shirt, undies and socks.  I then squash the bag flat to squeeze out the excess air and zip lock shut.  In the bag on the right I have a pair of pjs.  These then slide into the back of their backpacks upright and take up next to no room!  

Planes and airports are cold:  Pack at least a cardigan or a jumper.  For a long haul flight even if you are going to Bali consider packing a few extra layers in your cabin bag and especially for any children or infants.  There are a limited amount of blankets on board an aircraft and you can always ask for one but it is best to be prepared for a chilly aircraft cabin by packing a few layers.  A pashmina can double as blanket as well and takes up very little room in a cabin bag.  For my boys I usually throw in an extra jumper or cardigan.  Again I pop it into a zip lock bag and slide it into their backpacks at the back.  In my bag I usually store a pashmina to use as a blanket if needed.

Asking the Cabin Crew for something:  One of the main complaints that I used to hear as a flight attendant was that the cabin crew were unhelpful.  Upon further questioning I would often find that the person complaining had at no stage pressed the call bell and actually asked for the drink, aspirin, snack (insert appropriate request here...).  Don't be scared to press the call bell and ask for something.  Even if the cabin lights are switched off and everyone is asleep.  A Flight Attendant is always on duty and there is always someone on duty that is responsible for answering call bells.  

Flagging down a Flight Attendant:  As a former hostie I do not recommend that you wait for someone to walk past in the cabin and then hail them down.  The Flight Attendant walking past could be on their way to a rest break, in the middle of dealing with an on board medical emergency, indeed they could be on their way to doing any number of things and have almost certainly been flagged down half a dozen times already by the time you attract their attention.  They will endeavour to remember to pass on all the requests that they receive on their way but a number of requests will of course be forgotten.  Press the call bell.

If anyone reads this and has any further suggestions or even any questions please add them to the comments. We have a few flights coming up including our annual trip to Canada so I would welcome any travel tips.

Happy and safe travels to all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Two little powderhounds

The last few weeks of the school holidays were spent skiing at Whistler and it was beyond fabulous.  I know, I am very lucky.  I hope the boys realise how lucky they are as well one day. We were blessed with gorgeous weather and fantastic snow and skied almost every day.

From Whistler village you can ski two different mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb.  The two mountains are joined by the Peak to Peak Gondola a record breaking feat of remarkable engineering.  It is the longest unsupported span for a lift in the world and the highest lift system of it's kind in the world.      It was an amazing experience riding in it, although the Captain admitted to me afterwards he felt a little wary, the 4 year old however is a daredevil and as you can see had his eyes trained out the windows of the gondola the whole way.

We stayed in Whistler Village and it was just gorgeous, all the Christmas lights were still up and the atmosphere was amazing.  I felt like I was walking through an illustration in a vintage children's picture book about Christmas.

Whistler for kids is a magical experience.  The ski school was fantastic, great instructors and everything else you would expect from a ski school program.  They even attach Flaik's (a GPS) to the kids so that at the end of the day you can go online and track the runs that they did each day. Probably so the instructor doesn't lose a kid either I suppose.  We couldn't believe it when we saw that the 4 year old had done a couple of black diamond runs.   I mean, he said that he had done them but we, and I know it sounds bad but we didn't believe him!  But with "big brother" watching his every move we discovered he was actually telling us the truth!

There are even a few playgrounds dotted amongst the many runs.  This one is called The Tree Fort!  Hard to believe that they managed to scamper about all over this in ski boots.

The highlight of the holiday? Well for this one it was that he got poles!  Quite the milestone for a little powderhound!

On either side of Canada we squeezed in a few days in the States.  Including a quick side trip to Legoland.

Luckily for the grown ups someone at Legoland has a sense of humour.  Even R and I had a wonderful time.  (I am allowed to laugh at the Volvo thing, my parents have always had one!)

Several weeks away though and we are now thrilled to be home and I am looking forward to catching up with you all.  I have been thinking of all my QLD friends and hope you have all survived the wild weather.  It even made the news in Canada!


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