MR. SMITH (AND FAMILY) GO TO WASHINGTON D.C.

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Forget Mr. Smith.  I think the whole family should go to Washington.  Why?  Because it is awe-inspiring.  By the way, Mr. Smith goes to Washington is an old Hollywood classic (yes, I do watch AMC and TCM in the middle of the night).

If you look beyond the politicking and lobbying that occurs in Washington D.C., and just look at the city itself, I gotta say it is amazing.  There is no better way for school-age kids to jump into learning history than to visit the presidential memorials.  Standing at the foot of the Thomas Jefferson memorial and reading excerpts from the Declaration of Independence is, unquestionably, inspiring.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men all created equal…”  Also, reading the Gettysburg Address out loud, while Abraham Lincoln’s statue smiles serenely near us, is great fun.  At the FDR memorial, the depiction of the Great Depression offers many teachable moments about humility.  And there is so much more…

Speaking of U.S history, recently, I watched an interview of David McCullough on 60 minutes.  Mr. McCullough is a Pulitzer prize-winning historian (by the way, I highly recommend reading his biography of John Adams.)  During the interview, he talked about early American thinkers and politicians who shaped the country’s past and present.  At one point, he talked about today’s college students saying they lacked fundamental knowledge of U.S. history.

His comments got me thinking, especially since July Fourth is approaching.  This holiday is more than backyard barbecues, pool parties, and fireworks.  I think Fourth of July is about reminding us (the older generation) to teach our children about our country’s history.  Traveling to Washington D.C. is a great way to develop their interest.  Watch a group of people protesting in front of the White House and your kids will recognize the true meaning of free speech.  Tell me which historical sites (local or national) you have been inspired by and why?

THE DRAMA OF LONDON

Have you laughed yourself into stitches? Maybe you’ve seen better days. Did you ever find yourself in a pickle? If yes, then you are quoting Shakespeare.

Your teen may actually recognize some of William Shakespeare’s words since Shakespeare is part of most high-school curriculums. If you visit London with the family, then make sure you explore Shakespeare’s globe theater. It is a replica of the original open-air theater, but regardless, it transports you to the era of the Tudors. In fact, you can watch plays like the average public in those times by standing in front of the stage, i.e “the pit.” My favorite exhibit depicts many of the original Shakespearean quotes that we unknowingly use in our daily life.

Whether or not your teen likes performance arts or literature, the globe theater is the perfect place where he can be inspired. Even if you have not read a single play by him, you can marvel at his ability to push the boundaries. He was an innovator. He was a creative genius. I am a fan!

PLAYTIME IN PARIS

Just the thought of Paris brings so many fabulous things to mind. The fashion, the sights, the art, the playgrounds. Yes, really, the playgrounds. If you plan to visit Paris with kids, I encourage you to go to the parks, especially the Jardin de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). Situated in the lively Quartier Latin (Latin quarter), the gardens have many sections reserved exclusively for children’s activities. The outdoor playground is a wonderful acknowledgement of outdoor play for kids of all ages. A marionette show indulges the fun and fantasy of childhood. You can rent toy boats and your child can race them in the oval pond with the ducks. Wednesday is the perfect day to go because school ends early and all the families are out and about. Pick up some cafe au lait, sandwiches, and a fruit tart from a corner boulangerie (they are everywhere in Paris!). That is one heck of an outing with your kids in Paris.

Have you had any perfect outings abroad or in US? If so, please share.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS? CALLING MRS. PEABODY!!

In case you are confused, Mrs. Amelia Peabody is a fictional British Egyptologist who is always ready for any situation. She is my role model (sigh!). She keeps her wits about her despite all sorts of mayhem around her.

In my life, I define mayhem as “keeping my toddler calm and seated in a plane full of un-sympathetic faces.” Mrs. Peabody would be ready for my toddler with the following travel checklist:

1. Pack medications: Fever/pain reducers, Anti-allergic medication, anti-itch cream or spray, daily medications for chronic medical problems as prescribed by your pediatrician.
2. Prepare a first-aid kit: Band-aid, anti-bacterial ointment, wet and dry wipes, sanitizing gel, soap.
3. Protect yourself from excess sun: Hypoallergenic sunblock is available for kids over six months. Pack floppy hats and loose cotton clothing.
4. Keep a list of phone numbers including your pediatrician, local hospitals, and urgent cares.
5. Update your family’s immunizations and discuss your travel plans with your pediatrician.

Flights can be relatively painless or excruciatingly long for parents. Be ready for all sorts of (mis)adventures. Little babies do best if suckling during take-off and landing. For any child over age one, take age-appropriate toys/activities in form of “goody bags” to distract them. As soon as they start getting cranky, surprise them with yet another bag. Always have extra food for them. Take extra diapers on the plane and extra set of clothing in case of accidents.

Now that you are prepared for the worst, get ready to have some fun. Mrs. Peabody would be proud!

Photo courtesy of: Poulsen Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net