Our most recent family holiday was a long weekend in Holland to see the tulips in bloom. We arrived a little too late in the season to see all the tulips in the fields, but we had a wonderful day at the Keukenhof gardensjust southeast of Amsterdam. It’s a great place to visit with kids. There are tulips from all over the world, as well as a wonderful petting zoo and fun playground for the kids. Olivia loved taking photos of everything and both kids are pretty silly when we take photos of them! Our favorite tulip was the ‘ice cream’ tulip. We took our bikes along and went riding every day. Holland is the perfect place to cycle, especially with young children. It’s flat, easy riding and there are bike lanes and trails everywhere. We stayed along the coast and were able to do some beautiful rides each day along with our daily ride into town to do our grocery shopping. We even got to watch some gliders taking off and landing. Olivia just received a new bike with gears for Easter and was really excited to be able to ride along next to us. She declared she loved Holland because she got to ride her bike on the streets in town like an adult. D and I ride our bikes through Brussels, but there are not as many bike lanes and it is too dangerous for us to let Olivia to the same. When cycling in Brussels, I use my Dutch made “Bakfiets” which allows both kids to sit in a box in front of the bike. It’s big and heavy, but very secure and I take the kids to school in it as long as it’s 10 degrees centigrade (about 50 degrees F) outside…and not raining!
We had a wonderful time in Holland and plan to return next year with all of D’s family. We want to go at the time of the Tulip Parade which travels through the entire tulip producing region and is held when all the fields are in bloom. And of course, we’ll take our bikes!
We’re off now for a two week camping trip to the Italian Dolomites. It will be the first time we’ve taken the kids camping and they are so excited. It’s already been an adventure getting all the gear and figuring out what to pack. But no more time to write about that now. It will have to wait for our return!
As a couple, my husband and I traveled as much as possible and now that we have a daughter, we are pleased to announce she is one of us. Although we are troubled by the fact that she will not eat salsa, she indeed loves to travel and so we will, in turn, allow Olivia to remain in the family. Traveling is deeply seeded in her DNA. Okay, that was dramatic. The truth of it is that she thinks everyone does it and it is normal everyday life. We have had only one mild passive-aggressive objection from her and it was on her 1st birthday celebrated on the big island of Hawaii. She took her first steps there, which we thought was especially magical as her namesake is Hawaiian. However, during that week of her birthday (we celebrate “birthday weeks” at our house) we continued traveling and she continued walking in Hawaii, then California and then Chicago. This is when she went on strike and didn’t walk again for 2 weeks. We got the message, three states in one week is too much to ask of a one year old.
There are so many travel tricks that we have used over the years to make the air portion of our travel smooth. As she gets another year older we have to come up with new solutions for cohesive travel. We started her traveling as an infant using the obvious trick of breast-feeding on take-off and landing. Bottle, boob or pacifier is essential to make sure you do not have the screaming baby in row 4 that rows 5, 6 and 7 wished was not there. Seems obvious but I have witnessed many-a-parent traveling with their child screaming in pain upon the landing. The baby has to swallow to break the building pressure in the ear canal upon take-off and decent thereby keeping baby free from pain and allowing the parents to smile an elitist smile when all members of row 5 state “that is the best baby I have ever seen.” We flew today from San Francisco to San Diego and a box of soy milk with a straw and carrots were on the no-ear-pain menu now that she is 5. Although Olivia’s Berkeley/hippie pediatrician states I can breast feed until she is 6, I opt for carrots at this point.
There have been a multitude of travel secrets between her infancy and 5 years old. Some I am afraid to mention or should I say that I am too embarrassed to mention. Two of such involve the airplane bathroom. Our current all-important travel secret is… podcasts. Olivia has a Nano iPod filled with podcasts. While she prefers the podcasts I download which contain video, I have also loaded it up with stories sans video. Everything from French lessons to Sesame Street. We used to travel with the portable DVD player, which was both heavy and bulky. It was always running out of battery life but worse yet, her movie would be mid-point and she would hear the instructions to turn it of by the invisible pilot. Very frustrating for her. Podcasts are great for short flights with short humans with short attention spans. Great for driving around Saudi Arabia too but that is an entirely different story.