Saturday, August 20, 2011

When You are on Top of the World, Pack Diapers

Serene is afraid of heights. We learned that the hard way when we took her to the top of the beautiful stone Galata Tower from the Medieval Ages over looking the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey. We also learned that no matter how good the advertising, Pampers & Huggies just don't quite hold when a little baby girl is scared. The small viewing area circling the top of the tower has the best panaromic views of the city and is packed with tourists. Too narrow to easily pass by the crowds at the top, all of Istanbul was serenaded by Serene's cries.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Skip the Bazaars, Head for the Mall

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has over 5,000 shops and attracts hundreds of thousands of people daily who barter for jewellery, ceramics, carpets, embroidaries and much more. But -- it does not have any toys. The Spice Bazaar across town is significantly smaller, but has more of the exotic flare tourists crave with sweets and spices that tantalize all the senses. But -- it is 'smelly' (according to Alex). It also doesn't have any toys. Forum Istanbul, one of Europe's most expansive shopping malls does have toys (and it doesn't smell!) It also has an aquarium -- the Turkuazoo, a Magic Ice Museum, Jurassic Land, bowling alley, cinemas, aracades, and amusement rides! Any guesses where we spent our time?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

100 Chicken Nuggets

Alex managed to never eat a chicken nugget until he was over 4 years old, then his friends introduced him to fast food. Things haven't been the same since. In Istanbul, we visited McDonalds at least twice daily x 12 nuggets a day for a total of 84 nuggets, but then we added in a few miscellaneous nuggets for midnight snacks and the plane rides home. The grand total of nuggets consumed is around 100 ( plus or minus that 1 that got dropped on the ground). Tip? When on vacation, let your kids eat what they want. At home, you've got to follow the rules of a well-balanced diet and make sure children are eating healthy daily. But, when you're 10,000 miles away from home and little tummies are jetlagged growling all hours of the day and night, just get something in them that keeps the kids happy and full. In my early 20s, with Eurail pass in hand, I bounced from city-to-city through Europe using Mickey Ds for pitstops and fill-ups on cheap food. As a mom, I somehow find myself as an advocate for the biggest burger joint in the world thanking them so my kids can eat with security and fun.

Tips from Mommy's Guide to Istanbul Turkey - Part 2

There aren't any pictures of the children at the Sultanahmet (also known as the Blue Mosque) or the Hagia Sophia, two of Istanbul's most magnificant sites. They fussed, whined, cried, stomped and complained their way through the self-guided tours. Tip? You can stay home or you can see the world. Seeing the world means that you won't get to hire the tour guide and hear all the details from history about some of the world's greatest sites. It means that you won't get to visit all the museums or catch the best dinners & late night shows. But, it does mean that you'll get to spend time with your kids in a way that takes you well beyond the park and introduce them to art, architecture, history, culture, geography, politics and so much more in ways that books, teachers, classrooms and schools never will be able to. If only they were a little older.....At 5 years and 10 months, Alex and Serene cruised the streets of Istanbul from a stroller and baby carrier. In a few years, when the history teacher talks about Constantinople, my kids will be able to show off their pictures of the biggest arcade in Istanbul complete with go-karts, McDonalds and the hotel swimming pool. I guess they'll have to learn about Ataturk from the history teacher.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tips from Mommy's Guide to Istanbul Turkey - Part 1

If you think that three airplanes from Los Angeles to Istanbul, Turkey with a travel time over 24 hours with a 5 year old and infant will be like experiencing hell, ....well, then you're right! But it is so worth it. Alex and Serene took in the sites, smells, and textures of Turkey this summer. The Bosphorus Strait is the boundary dividing the continents of Europe and Asia, cutting through the center of Istanbul connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. In August, when temperatures are soaring, it is exquisite. Featuring architecturals splendors -- palaces, an ancient fort, elegant mosques and the country's finest mansions -- it is breathtaking even for the little ones to view the two continents from the boat. What's the drawback? I was terrified they'd both fall overboard and I'd be forced to jump into the deep blue water. Tip? Next time....I'll remember to pack the life jackets too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Four Thumbs Up for the California Science Center

The California Science Center is free. Just southwest of downtown Los Angeles at Exposition park, they'll charge you $10 to park, but it was worth the 35 mile trip from our house to watch Alex check-out the many interactive exhibits. Across from the Imax, the Coliseum and another half-dozen of other unique museums, the CSA will soon be home to the retired Space Shuttle Endeavor.

The museum explores ecosysstems, the tiny cells of human biology, space, transportation and structures. Older kids and adults can ride a high-wire bicycle three stories in the air. Designed for ages 6 months to 14 years old, the top floor features a hands-on space where kids can build their own house, go fishing with magnets, tinker and line-up dominos. Serene had fun chasing her brother through the exhibits and Alex thanked me for taking him to such a cool place, so it gets four thumbs up from the kids.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

At Santa Susana Depot the Past Meets Present

The Santa Susana Depot in Simi Valley, California is the perfect stop for train aficionados of all ages. The quaint, little museum offers a glimpse into train stations of the last century back when the telegraph alerted engineers of the next trains entering the station. The museum also features a miniature train set built by hobbyists who can tell you the history of California through trains. Be sure to stay to watch as today's modern trains speed by just a few feet from the station's platform at more than 100 mph.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lightening McQueen Lights Up Hollywood

El Capitan Theater in the heart of Hollywood opened in 1926. The elegant architecture is restored and maintained by the Disney Company and features kids shows with special productions. For Cars2, they turned the back lot into Radiator Springs. Lightening McQueen, Finn McMissile and Mater were on the red carpet for the the kiddopapparazzi & their parents. Children could race cars on their own race course, build Lego cars and test their speed on ramps, jump on trampolines, slide down the giant slide and climb a mountain of tires.