The Best Vacation Ever – Our Adventure in Quebec with 2 Kids and a Giant Puppy

After cramming more stuff than we needed into our suddenly small feeling minivan, we set off for our Canadian adventure.  We put in a ridiculous amount of thought into how to configure the minivan’s seating to accommodate the dog and our stuff.  The winning configuration ended up being 1 adult driving (mostly me despite Granada), 1 kid in the front passenger seat, 1 adult in the 2nd row with Murphy (mostly J because let’s face it, I’m a cat person and this dog is his), and 1 kid in the 3rd row in the smaller half of the seats.  This worked out fairly well not just for Murphy and the adults but it kept the kid bickering to a minimum since they weren’t sitting next to each other.  Yay!  I love it when kid bickering is minimized.  It’s a win for everyone.

We stopped in New Hampshire on our way to Canada and that broke up the trip nicely.  We had a lovely few days visiting friends and it was a great start to our vacation.

The Border Crossing

The drive from NH to Canada was mostly uneventful.  Like the true travel nerds we are, we asked for a passport stamp at the Canadian border.  I tried to make it sound like it was for the kids, but let’s be real, I wanted one too!

I was a little nervous about the border crossing with Murphy and hoping we had all the right paperwork for him.  Sure enough, we had what we needed and were across the border in good time.

The Lake House


When we arrived at the lake house we rented through Airbnb, we were all delighted. It was just perfect and even more charming than the listing.  The kids ran right down to the water and took in the view of the lake while J and I unpacked and got Murphy settled.  The house was right on the lake with a dock and came with a canoe and paddle boat.  We wasted no time in taking the kids out in them.  Sunset canoe trips around the lake became a part of our daily routine.

The house was located on Lac Nantel and was an easy 30-minute drive to Mont Tremblant.

How We Spent Our Time

We spent about 10 days at the house on Lac Nantel.  We generally try to avoid vacations that have us spending just a few days in one spot before moving on to the next.  We like to stay put in one spot and then explore the area at a leisurely pace.

Much to our delight, prior to leaving for our vacation, I found a doggy daycare that was perfectly located – about half-way between our house and Mont Tremblant.  It was perfect and they loved Murphy.  We ended up leaving him there 3 times while we were out enjoying activities not well-suited for a giant puppy.

I think we did a great job balancing the urge to see and do new things and also just chill out by the lake.  We spent 2 days going to the Mont Tremblant Village, 1 day hiking in a regional park, 1 day doing an off-road 4×4 adventure, and another day biking a (very small) stretch of the P’tit train du Nord.  The rest of the time was spent canoeing, playing board games (so many rounds of Battleship), and relaxing.  The kids swam in the lake despite the drizzle and cooler weather.  I did not.

Hiking the Park Val-David Val-Morin

The one thing I really wanted to do was to go on a family hike with Murphy.  That turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected because J twisted his ankle coming down the steps just as we were leaving home and getting on the road for this trip.  But he rallied for one hike and it was lovely.  We chose to go to a regional park, Park Val-David Val-Morin, as they allow dogs and national parks do not.


It was a great spot for an easy hike with kids and a puppy – none of whom had hiked before.  We packed our lunches and set out for an easy hike that would provide some good views.  All in all, I think our hike took about 2 hours or so, including the time we stopped to eat our lunch.

After we finished with our hike, we poked around the cute little town of Val David.  There were lots of restaurants, a farmer’s market, and cute little shops.  Walking around with Murphy garnered us quite a bit of attention.  More than 1 person stopped their car (in the middle of the road) to ooh and ahh over Murphy.

Mont Tremblant Village

Much to our delight, Mont Tremblant is not a winter only destination. There was so much to do, one day was not enough. You can purchase an activity card in advance or once you arrive though we did not. In hindsight, I wish we had purchased in advance not only to save 10% but also to avoid the line. The highlights for us were the gondola ride to the top and the mountain luge.

We happened to be there during the period they were hosting the Iron Man so it may have been a little busier than usual but the energy was great.

An Off-Road Adventure

A highlight of our vacation was the 4×4 off-road tour we did through the woods. I was under the mistaken impression that the focus would be the scenery but it turns out that off roading can be can be quite the thrill in and of itself. Never having been off roading, I had no idea.

Going into it, I figured J and I would take turns driving since our guide would be driving his own but I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be driving. J has experience driving off-road vehicles and it made all the difference. He was able to go fast, catch air, and just in general had the skill to make it a super fun ride. Our guide was great and would have been equally prepared had we not had an experienced driver.

“Best Vacation Ever, Mom”

The kids quickly declared this the best vacation I’d ever planned. On the cusp of tween-hood, this felt like a huge compliment since our trip was mostly old-fashioned family fun stuff – board games, swimming in a lake, bike rides, hiking, and canoeing. The best part was that it still felt relaxing to the adults.

Two kids, a Giant Puppy, and a Minivan: How do you Pack Light?

Our next vacation is just around the corner.  The packing list has been started and I’m not sure how everything is going to fit.  In a minivan.  Which seems completely absurd.  Isn’t the whole point of a minivan its spaciousness??  We’ve never had to pack light for a road trip before.  But now we have Murphy –  our giant 7 month-old puppy who happens to weight about 90 pounds.  Needless to say, he takes up quite a bit of room.  Good thing he’s so cute. Murphy

I keep telling myself – and everyone who asks how we’re going to all fit – there’s nothing to worry about.  We’ll pack light.  Except, I don’t really know how to pack light.  Our lovely lake house has a washer and dryer so that should keep clothing to a minimum.  But we’ll be in Canada with warm days and cool evenings.  We also plan to do some hiking, swimming, biking, and kayaking.  All of this adds up to the need for a variety of clothing options: pants, shorts, hiking shorts, short and long sleeve tops, sweatshirts, bathing suits, and, well, you get the picture.  IMG_1148

While I’ve got my list and I feel organized, there’s still too much on the list – and even more not on the list.  Somehow we’ll make it work.  The laws of physics are what they are.  But it’s not going to be pretty.  Once we get there, yes – but oh, the process.  Sigh.

If you have any packing light tips, I would certainly welcome hearing them.

Planning a Kid-Friendly and a Dog-Friendly Vacation

Now that we have acquired the cutest puppy on the planet, we need to make room in our lives for this beast – um, I mean puppy. For me, a big part of that is making sure we still have family time to get away and explore new places. With a new puppy and two kids, vacation planning has suddenly become a bit trickier but wheels started spinning almost immediately.  We have 2 weeks set aside for a summer trip, and I’m hoping I’ve come up with a perfect destination – Canada!

How did we pick Canada? We had a few specific criteria for our destination in addition to being dog and kid-friendly:

  1. drivable
  2. cooler weather than where we live because it’s better for our thick-coated mountain dog
  3. easy access to hiking, nature, water, etc.
  4. somewhere new
How I started the search:

I may be new to dog-friendly vacation planning but I started the same way I always do – with Google Maps and Airbnb. We almost always stay in vacation house rentals and Airbnb is a great way to narrow down the destination options even if you decide to go with a different house rental provider.
Cooler meant north – duh. Since we are originally from New England, the somewhere new meant upstate New York and Canada were the top contenders – even though it’s pushing the envelope on being drivable. Despite having been to Maine before, I will admit it was a contender for a brief bit – primarily because Acadia National Park is one of my husbands most favorite places.
Thankfully, Airbnb has a pet-friendly filter. I also found 2 websites that help find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities: Go Pet Friendly and  Bring Fido.

The searching nitty gritty:

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Airbnb. I’m perfectly content zooming in and out, changing search filters and clicking on endless numbers of properties to find the perfect spot. If I find a house that looks like a great setting, I’ll then research the area and see what’s around if I’m not familiar with the spot. This is how we found our house in Kallo Knippla, Sweden. I would never have thought to look at that island if not for seeing the house listing first.

Reading the reviews for properties is also incredibly helpful. Often people will write about the location – close to shops/restaurants and public transportation, or secluded with nothing for miles. Depending on what we’re looking for, that will help me understand a new spot and give hints for how I should read the map information.

I also look for reviews in the same season as we’ll be traveling.  We often travel in the offseason as it’s more affordable.  Maybe it’s a beach house with ineffective heat during colder months or a town where all the shops/restaurants close in the offseason – the reviews will often leave clues.

The final decision:

After seeing a number of listings that fit the bill, we decided to commit. The house we booked looks perfect – secluded but not isolated, on the water with lots of space to explore with the kids and dog.  Even though the listing came up using the pet-friendly filter, I reached out to the owner before booking to confirm Murphy is welcome – especially since he’s a large breed. Thankfully, the owners love dogs and were ok with his size.

Out of the 2 weeks we have off, we’ll be spending 9 days in a lovely little house on a lake outside of Montreal.  Before arriving at the house, we’ll make a stop in New Hampshire for a few days. The timing gives us plenty of time for the drive home if we need to take it slow and stop overnight.

I was thinking of spending a few days in Quebec before heading to our Airbnb rental, but as with planning a kid-friendly trip, I think less is more with a dog-friendly trip.  Now we’re just hoping in the next few months that Murphy’s car sickness issues resolve.  Fingers crossed…

5 Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Seattle

We spent a week in Seattle in August as part of a family trip to celebrate my parents turning 70.  We settled on Alki Beach as our base and each rented a house.  I’m not sure I’d recommend the specific house we rented, but the entire family loved Alki Beach area.  We loved being on the water and having loads of restaurants just steps away made life a little easier.  The location was very kid-friendly as we were right near the beach and plenty to do even when not out and about sightseeing.  So let’s cut to the chase – below are 5 kid-friendly things to do in Seattle – one of which I’d skip if I had to do it again.

Chihuly Glass Garden

While a museum and garden full of breakable glass doesn’t sound inherently kid friendly, the kids enjoyed Chihuly Glass Garden immensely.  As did the grown ups! The glass sculptures were colorful and incredibly striking in their size and design.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was a winner.

Catherine’s Perspective: I thought it was amazing! All the colors shining in the sunlight made everything shimmer when we were in the big sun room. When we were inside, there were actually lights inside of the glass! I absolutely truly tremendously loved it!

Seattle Aquarium

Full disclosure: I thought it was overpriced.  A family member gave me two passes they weren’t going to use so we only had to pay for 2 passes.  That being said, the otters were a hit.  And who can resist otters?

Half-day Sailing Adventure

On the last day of our trip we booked a half day sail with Blue Whale Sail leaving out of Bainbridge Island.  It was a delightful way to end the trip.  We had a quick stop on Blake Island which is only accessible by boat.  The twins had the chance to run around and explore.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long because of the tides.

The chance to relax and just spend time admiring the sights was wonderful.  The couple who own the boat were lovely and very patient with the questions the twins peppered them with over the course of the 4-hour adventure.  We had the option of bringing our own food for meals and snacks but opted to have it provided.  And what a wonderful spread they prepared for us.  It was splurge but worth it.

The Boeing Factory Tour

Given Nate’s love of Boeing airplanes, we couldn’t go to Seattle without adding the Boeing Factory Tour to our itinerary.  This wasn’t a win for everyone –  Catherine disputed this being on the Top 5 list.  That being said, it was really cool and if you’re raising a budding AvGeek, it’s a must do.  Just the scope of the factory is amazing.  My only complaint is that it felt rushed at points.  Once we finished the tour itself, we were able to go to an observation deck and watch the planes coming in on their test runs.  That was the best part.  The weather was perfect and I could have stayed there all afternoon if only there had been a beverage/snack bar.

Whidbey Island

Our day spent exploring Whidbey Island was one of my favorites.  There is a bridge to access the island from the north, taking you right to Deception Pass State Park.  What a delightful spot!  We all had a great time enjoying the sunshine while exploring the beach area.  The only reason we moved on was because we were hungry and needed lunch.  It would have been a great day to pack lunch.  Instead, we popped into a grocery store and picked up some prepared food and snacks.

We made our way south and headed to Fort Casey State Park.  This park was recommended by a friend.  After eating our lunch at one of the many picnic tables, we were off to explore the old fort.  The twins created an elaborate game that involved defending the fort from the enemy – thankfully I was not considered the enemy, at least until I told them it was time to hit the road.  To head back to Seattle, we hopped on the ferry from the south of Whidbey Island to Mukilteo.


You’ve probably noticed the Space Needle is missing, as is the ferris wheel, Pike Place Market, and the gum wall.  Rest assured, we hit those spots and enjoyed them immensely, but I suspect those are already on your list if you’re planning a kid-friendly trip to the Seattle area.

jetBlue Review – Is Even More Space worth it?

When we flew home from Seattle last month, I decided to upgrade our seats to the Even More Space seats.  The option was available when I  checked us all in 24 hours prior to our departure.  I was able to see that we could get 3 seats together and 1 seat in the next row which is about as good as it gets for a family of four flying on a plane with a 3-3 configuration.

We had not flown jetBlue in quite some time (we flew Delta to Seattle) and having heard so many great reviews, I was looking forward to the flight.  Especially with all that legroom…

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Let’s start with the positives:
  1. Loads of legroom.  I think Jason appreciated it the most.  I’m only 5’2″ and the kids are shorter than me – for now, at least – so we have a little less at stake on the legroom issue. One unexpected benefit – the kids weren’t bumping into each other every time they reached for their backpack which reduced the bickering. And that’s always a win.IMG_1710
  2. With more legroom comes an extra window.  This is key when traveling with 2 kids as it means the kid who has scored the window seat isn’t blocking the view for the other kid with his/her head.  This reduced the bickering far more than I expected. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I really appreciate anything that reduces kiddo bickering.IMG_1722
  3. Helpful flight attendants.  While our needs weren’t great, they kept the snacks and beverages coming and even put out water bottles in the galley for self-service.


Now for the negatives:
  1. The screens and entertainment system in general.  The first thing the kiddos said when we sat down  “why are the screens so small?”  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen screens that small before.  To make matters worse, the movies were not working.  This left us with just the TV channel options which can be hit or miss for kids.  We had our own devices and were happy to use them.  Except it was a 5-hour flight and we didn’t have charging outlets.FullSizeRender (10)
  2. Snack boxes were the only food items available for purchase.  I had higher expectations for a 5-hour flight that left at 11am local time.  It was too early to buy lunch at the airport prior to boarding since we’d just had breakfast and we had no way to keep it fresh until we were hungry.
  3. The plane was a little “tired” – there was some peeling on the interior just above the windows and we were delayed for a bit because the handle on an overhead bin broke.  Maybe I’m being too critical but sometimes, it’s the little things you notice.FullSizeRender (11)

The Even More Space seats were great and I would purchase them again – especially for a long flight.

As for our jetBlue experience on the whole, I definitely learned a few lessons and will be a little more prepared next time with charging options and meals.  I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be, but nothing was a deal breaker.



Kallo-Knippla – Our Swedish Paradise

When we started putting together our trip to Sweden, I knew we’d want to spend a few days in Stockholm, but wasn’t sure where else we would want to go.  I proceeded to spend more time than I care to admit scrolling through house listings on Airbnb* in an effort to figure out where else to go while in Sweden.

I kept coming back to this one charming house right on the water.  But I knew nothing about the location.  It sounded a bit intimidating – a tiny island off the coast of Gothenburg requiring 2 ferries to reach it from the mainland.  It also wasn’t very close to Stockholm which meant more logistics planning then I was necessarily wanting to tackle. But, I couldn’t resist.  The listing was almost dreamlike – right on the water with a dock, a water view from every room and while quiet, not isolated and lonely.  The house seemed to strike just the right balance.

FullSizeRender (9)

I went for it.  After viewing the listing no less than several dozen times, we made a family decision to book it.

It was perfect.  It was the first time in our travels that we took it slow and really relaxed without running this way and that, trying to see sights.  While there weren’t really any sights to see on Kallo-Knippla, that doesn’t mean we were bored.  Far from it.

The northern part of the island was not built up and just had walking paths winding through the rocky terrain.  We spent most of our time outside, walking and climbing the rocks along the coastline.  Despite the weather being cold and windy, we (okay, I…) packed a picnic lunch to enjoy on the rocks.

What town center there was consisted of a small market, a pizza place, one restaurant open during the high summer season, and a fish stand open only a few days of the week. The only drawback to the lack of services/amenities meant more time in the kitchen.  The good news is that Sweden has embraced the convenience of rotisserie chicken.

We did travel a few islands over to Hono for dinner out on two occasions – our first dinner out was at a little pub and the second was at a delightfully charming restaurant, Tullhuset.


We spent one day in Gothenburg and on our way back to our perfect little house, we all vowed not to leave the island again for the rest of our trip.

Our time in Kallo Knippla was an absolute delight.  The weather was as good is it could be with sunny days warming up our little house.  The island was charming and a refresing break from city travel.  Because of our time on this charming island, my approach to travel planning has changed.  No longer do I reflexively look at city destinations, but I have been searching out quieter spots that allow us to absorb the culture of the place in a more relaxed way.  We’ll see how this pays off on our next trip.

*On the off chance you don’t already have an Airbnb account, clicking my referral link will land you a $40 credit.  But doesn’t everyone have an account by now? 😉

Stockholm in 3 Days. With 2 Kids.

We had 3 full days in Stockholm and since we are traveling with kids that means you can’t just plow through the sights and run yourself ragged.  Well, we usually run ourselves ragged – but it doesn’t take much for this crew.  Typically, the best we can do is 2 big things a day- something in the morning and something in the afternoon with a lunch break in between and a dinner break at the end and back to home base to wind down.

I don’t stick a strict schedule but have a general sense of the big things we all want to do. Then I look at the weather and try to correlate the weather with the outings.  Based on the forecast, it looked like we had one sunny and nice day and the others were cloudy/rainy.  I saved the 2 outdoor sights for those days and plotted the indoor sights for the other 2 days.

Day 1 – Saturday – a gloomy day but we managed to dodge much of the rain

City Hall – This was not to be.  We attempted to go Saturday and Monday but it was closed both days.  Disappointing, but given the closures were due to the terrorist attack, it was quite understandable. –Mom

Nobel Museum – We spent quite a bit of time here and enjoyed a scavenger hunt type activity for the kids as well as some hands-on experiments as part of the aptly named “Experiments” exhibit. –Mom

The Nobel Museum was super fun. There are clips about Nobel Peace Prize winners and the give you a quiz and you have to hunt for the answers and the prize is a chocolate coin. – Nate

I loved the Nobel Museum, and we got to learn stuff we never knew about the Nobel prizes. We got to go on a scavenger for different things about the peace prize and the prize was a chocolate coin that looks like the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since this was our first full day in Sweden, jet lag and lousy in-flight sleeping meant this was a short day.  We headed back to our apartment and just grabbed some pizza take out at a local spot recommended by our Airbnb hosts.

Day 2 – Sunday – The sunniest day which meant we did as much outside as possible

Skansen – It was Nate’s dream come true! Our Uber to the Skansen was a Tesla. Another enjoyable thing at the Skansen was a story-in English- about witches and butter luck. There was a cute pottery shop as well as a glassworks place and a bakery. — Catherine

Millesgarden – This was the one spot on my must-see list.  I’m so glad we had a sunny day for enjoying it.  There weren’t many tourists.  It was a bit tricky to get to on public transportation so we took an Uber.  One element making this very kid-friendly was the outdoor space and lack of crowds meant the kids had a bit more freedom to run around. Plus the sculptures were so visually dramatic the kids couldn’t help but be intrigued. –Mom

Day 3 – Monday –  Another rainy day but with indoor museums planned, we made the most of it.

Vasa Museum- a giant ship made from the salvaged half-viking ship the Vasa and made into a museum. My favorite part of this museum was Sail A Ship, where we compassed, put the sails up, and un anchored the ship in order to sail it. Now that was fun! –Catherine

Nordic Museum– At the Nordic Museum, there was a Time detectives game where we had to figure out who stole the Golden Marzipan Statue. As Nate and I plowed through the evidence, witnesses, and suspects we reached the end for a prize of… a pin? Yup. –Catherine

The Children’s Playhouse is a room within the Nordic Museum set up like a little agricultural town in the “olden days” – complete with a horse drawn carriage to drive, a river to cross, a general store, and a kitchen.  The kids could have played here for hours more than they did.  Well worth the extra 20 SEK for admission.  There was also a replica of a 1940’s apartment – another hit with the kids.  I wish I had better pictures to share but the kids were on the move and it was fairly dark. –Mom

Tour of Subway Art – In the process of researching our trip, I learned that Stockholm has some pretty amazing subway stations.  The kids were getting a little tired, at this point in our day which meant I had to make this tour a quickie.  I looked up the stations with the most distinct art and off we went.  Our tour put the DC’s Metro to shame but that’s not too difficult.  The linked article does a great job giving some historical background on the subway art and is worth a read before exploring.  There are free walking tours of the subway art but our timing was a little off, unfortunately. –Mom

Ericsson Globe – Hello everybody! Nate here! Now as you know I love buildings, they are my whole life even!

Now a little fact – The Ericsson Globe is the tallest spherical structure in the world!!  So what happens is you watch a short clip and and you take a pod up and down the side of the building. personally I would recommend it and I would also give it a 5-star rating.







Is Stockholm Kid-Friendly?

The answer is a resounding yes!  While my kids are older and we have left behind the stroller years, it was impossible not to notice the many ways Stockholm makes life a little easier for parents as they navigate the city.

The first thing we noticed were the ramps built into stairs.  We first came across them coming out of a subway station but then found them all over the city.  What a clever way to make the city stroller accessible. Naturally, I had to tell my kids they were NOT for running up and down.

When it comes to eating out, not only were there kids menus at all of the restaurants we visited, but there was often the option to order a half-portion of a regular entree.  The twins are less enthusiastic about kids menus as time marches on; the option of ordering off the “adult” menu was a fantastic.

We also came across some fantastic playgrounds.  There was one great playground right near our apartment in Enskede.  It had one of the coolest play features I’ve ever seen.  To spare you my description, I’ll let these cute time-lapse videos speak for themselves.  It may have been the hot spot for the local fathers who took their kids to the playground. I think I saw more fathers than kids playing on them…

More than the specific kid-friendly features, it was also the vibe of Sweden that was very family-friendly.  I didn’t feel the pressure to keep my kids silent while riding on the train. I didn’t get the stink eye from other passengers when my kids dared to talk as we so often encounter when traveling in certain areas.  The culture of family-friendliness made traveling through Sweden a relaxing and enjoyable experience.




Upon Arrival

As the plane pulled to the gate, we gathered our things and got ready to disembark.  I turned on my phone to text my mother that we had arrived safely in Stockholm.  As I waited to connect to service, the alerts started popping up.  There had been an attack in the city center of Stockholm.  So as not to alarm the kids before we had more facts, I handed my phone to J without saying anything.  We knew this would have an impact on getting to our apartment but there wasn’t much information available as the situation was still unfolding.

We proceeded to immigration, excited as always for a fresh stamp in our passports.  While waiting in line, J and I tried to get the latest news and see what had happened but there wasn’t much in the news as the attack had happened just 2 hours earlier. The immigration officer asked a number of pointed questions about our travels – it’s hard to say if she asked more questions given the events or if she’s always that inquisitive.  But we had never been questioned quite so extensively.  The officer handed us our passports, and informed us there had been an event in the city and we would want to inquire at the information desk as to transportation options into the city.

As we expected, all trains were shut down.  So much for the tickets I’d purchased in advance for the express train.  We were advised to sit tight for a bit, get some food and reassess the situation.  At this point, we had to tell the kids what was going on.  We took them to the side, and explained what had happened.  Our best option was to get some dinner at the airport and maybe transportation would be more available at that time.

Thankfully, the Arlanda Airport has a shopping/dining area attached to the airport with numerous options.  We settled in for dinner – meatballs and mashed potatoes of course – and tried to get more information about the attack.

Once dinner was over, it was pretty clear the subway and trains weren’t going to reopen any time soon. It appeared at that time that the suspect had not yet been apprehended.  Our only choice was to take a taxi for what would undoubtedly be a long ride given the increased traffic we were likely to face as all public transportation was still closed.

At this point, the taxi lines were much shorter than what we had seen earlier which was a relief.  Perhaps our decision to wait it out was a good one.  We all piled into the car and we were off.  It wasn’t long before we hit traffic, at which point, the kids and I promptly nodded off.  When I woke up, the taxi driver was explaining that he had two options to get us to our apartment – either go around the city or through the city.  He chose going through the city as the traffic was heavy on the highway.  Unfortunately, the streets were closed and we had to turn around and take the highway.  The remainder of our trip was uneventful but long.  We were relieved when we pulled up to the apartment – 90+ minutes after leaving the airport.

J and I hadn’t yet read much on the attack as our primary concern was dealing with the transportation issues and keeping our very tired kids from losing it.  We tucked the kids into bed, soothing what concerns they had about sleeping in a new space – what was that noise, are there enough pillows, it’s too dark, it’s too bright, where’s my stuffed animal – you know the drill.

As we explored the city yesterday, we noticed heavy police presence but otherwise, people were out and about as you would expect in any city.  We did take the kids aside and emphasize that if either one of us tells them to do something or not do something, they must listen to us.  They are not to first ask why or push it until we do that ridiculous 1-2-3 counting we still have to do.  They seemed to get it.

We tend not to be very alarmist in these situations.  J is a law enforcement officer and we know there are risks in our everyday life.  We are no more concerned or worried than when we planned this trip several months ago.


The Swedish flag flying at half staff over the City Hall.

8 Things about Us

1 – We took the Amtrak Auto Train from Virginia to Florida in 2009.  The twins were not quite 2 and 1/2 years old. It was a pretty chill way to travel with small kids.  They don’t have to be strapped in their seats for hours – once you close your cabin door, they can squirm and explore.  The gentle swaying of the train also rocked the twins right to sleep.  Since we were headed to FL in February it was essentially a train full of doting “grandparents” – instead of giving a traveling family the stink eye, many seemed happy to see small kids. The free wine and snacks when you board certainly helped.

2 – I travel with tea bags to make sure I can always get a cup.  My grandmother was British and she got me hooked when I was a teenager. I’m always looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a cup.  I think I’ve found quite a few.

3 – I used to be scared of flying but now I’m much more chill about it.  Oddly enough, the longer the flight, the happier I am – 12 hours is the longest flight I’ve done.  Just think – no dishes to do, no meals to fix, no negotiating over what we watch since we all have our own screen, no laundry…You get the idea.  It’s nice to just chill out with absolutely no chores to do. The twins are also old enough to not need our constant attention.

4 – I’m afraid of heights.  If there’s a sight to be seen from up high, I will likely wait behind and J and the twins will go on up.  I made it up to the top of the Eiffel Tower but there was a moment in the elevator where I thought I had made a terrible mistake. My eyes were closed the whole way up.  But I ended up doing ok.  I was also pretty miserable on the top of the Rock of Gibraltar.  That surprised me as I usually do ok on terra firma even if up high.


Look at me all the way down there!

5 – I grew up in Massachusetts as did my husband.  In fact, we first laid eyes on each other in 8th grade band class when I moved to his town.  I then moved to Florida in high school and stayed there for 10 years.  I moved back to Massachusetts when I was 25, where J and I reconnected and feel in love.  Oh the romance.

6 – J is a musician.  He will always stop for street performers when we are traveling.  I like that about him.

7 – We have a cat named Elvis. He’s always well cared for by our neighbors when we are away and I can tell he’s excited to see us when we get home.  Maybe not as excited as a dog would be…

8 – I have 53 wish lists on Airbnb.  Hotels just don’t work well for us as a family.  It’s heaven to have a spot to tuck the kids away and then still enjoy being up.  Plus, I hate going out to breakfast.  If I have to shower and get dressed before breakfast, it just doesn’t feel like a vacation.

I don’t know why I picked 8 but there you have it.