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Road Trip Entertainment for Young Toddlers

by Juliemara

20130907-110406.jpgI think I might be an expert on toddler car travel entertainment. This is after we vowed to NEVER fly with the twins again, at least until they are 12, ha. The slinky is just one of about 40 possible activities I packed for the car, all in two reusable grocery bags. I hit up the dollar store and basement stash of toys for what to bring. We recently took a 7 hour car trip to North Carolina to visit my parents and the girls were rockstar travelers the whole way, there and back.


I got small cookie sheets from the $1 store, they make great lap art tables because the rim keeps crayons from falling away and it is magnetic so it can serve dual purpose.


books and a drawing pads are a great go to, the tiny drawing pad is from the $1 store.


I keep sunglasses handy for each kid in the car in case the sun doesn’t want to stay on the other side of the sun shade. I also keep sun screen at hand so that if the sun is hitting them during a particular leg of the trip I put a bit on the arm or leg or face, the last thing we need is a car sunburn.


tiny tupper wear containers can be endless fun, I put a block that rattles inside this one.


I thought silly putty would be great, and when Jordan discovered it in her busy bag (a cosmetic case of mine with a bunch of random small toys and objects) she said “pay-doh” but because of the nature of putty I had to help her put it back together every few minutes before it got embedded in the fabric of her clothes and car seat. I think we will put away the silly putty for a few more months.


These B brand keys were a gift from my aunt Joan, the girls loved them because they look real and make several sounds, it was a great new toy for the way back

My List

Road trip entertainment – 22 month twins
Four battery operated noise/motion toys
Small cookie sheet with coloring sheets, crayons, tape, stickers and magnets
Plastic nut and bolt
Touch and feel books
Books with movable parts
Tiny books
Cosmetic bag filled with random small toys.
Stuffed animals
Small Magnetic drawing pad
Silly putty
New fun sunglasses and bracelets
New books

And of course a few of their favorite music CDs and plenty of videos.


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Staying in a Hotel with a Toddler (or two)

by Juliemara


There are quite a few things to consider when traveling with toddlers. We thought we had sorted through all the necessary details of traveling with toddler twins before we set off on this trip to the gulf coast. We quickly learned that a road trip and a hotel stay are no easy feat when toddlers are involved. And the biggest lesson we learned… If you don’t have to travel and stay in a hotel with your toddler, don’t. It’s just not worth the effort and exhaustion.

The drive was long. We timed it around their naps as much as possible but they only sleep for 1 1/2 – 2 hours max. So for a six hour car ride plus time for stops to eat and change diapers and let the little ones run around it feels like the never ending trip. We had a bag full o toys and books handy to keep them entertained. I am able to sit in the back with them which also helps but a ling drive is a long drive no matter what you do and Talia and Jordan still sit facing back so we cant even distract them with TV yet. we did give them each an ipad or phone during the final 30 minutes of the trip to keep them calm until we got home. We will be limiting our road trips to under three hours for the next year or so.

It would have been much more practical to have stayed in a condo. Even a one bedroom with a sleeper couch for us would have worked. Sharing a room with the girls basically meant that at 8/8:15 when it was their bed time it was ours too.

A major issue with the hotel was the room they gave us, first floor on the middle if the hall with tiled flooring. The tile was not only really cold making it hard to play on the floor but it was so hard.


The smallest tumble by one of the girls meant a big booboo. I was constantly on edge trying to keep them from getting hurt. The second day we were able to move to a different room with carpeting. This little difference made our time in our room so much more fun and comfortable.




The few pictures of the hotel room online all showed carpeting in the rooms, so I didn’t even think to ask for a carpeted room. Keep this in mind when renting. Condo as well. Most beach condos have tiling in common spaces.

On our second day in Destin after switching rooms we stopped by the grocery store to get more milk and picked up some masking tape as well. The drawers and cabinets in the hotel room were offering too many opportunities for tiny finders to be smashed and heads to be bumped by corners. So we taped everything up. 20130107-154736.jpg

If you must stay in a hotel with your infant or toddler bring a pack and play. The hotel cribs are small, cold metal cages. They don’t have bumpers so if you have to use the hotel crib bring your own bumpers. We use breathable bumpers at home and they would have packed easily and fit well. I suppose you could use hotel towels to weave in and out of the bars of the crib to keep hands and feet from sticking through the spaces, touching cold metal and pacifiers, loveys and blankets from falling out. But it’s not the safest option.

Our original hotel room had an alcove at the hall way end of the room with a built in bunk bed. There was just enough space to awkwardly put two cribs there as well. But between the noises of people walking and talking and doors closing in the hall way, the light from under the door and the unfamiliarity of the cold metal cribs, the girls ended up sleeping in our bed with us. No one sleep very well or for very long. I didn’t take a great pictures of the arrangement but you can see the crib in here behind the girls and my husband playing hotel bowling (video).


Our second room didn’t have the kids sleeping alcove, which may have been useful considering this room was the last room on the hall. Very quiet. So we did a little hotel room rearranging and “hid” the pack and plays behind the couch on the window side of the room. We still have to have the lights out and be super quite until the girls fell asleep but they slept much better in this room than the previous night.


And speaking of re-arranging a room. I never messed up a hotel room this bad in my entire life, and I spent many a night in a hotel room hanging out with friends after a concert.

If you have a baby that is use to co-sleeping then go for it, travel to the ends of the earth and tell me all about it. But with two light sleepers who are use to their own space it just didn’t work out.

Luckily we brought our own pack and plays and promptly got them from the car before the girls morning nap the next day. Things went much better after the switch.

We bought travel high chairs when the girls were around six months old. They have proven to be the most useful piece of baby gear we own. We brought them to the room so we could feed the girls an early breakfast when they woke up then ended up using them to eat dinner in the room as well both nights.


We purchased them both second hand from Craig’s list for $15 each. It’s also available on amazon.

We also brought with us a bunch of food. We didn’t want to have to go to the store the night we arrived knowing it would be late already. So we brought enough milk, food and snacks to get us through until the next day. The hotel room had a good sized refrigerator which was a great help. Some hotels don’t have refrigerators any more so you can always call ahead to find out and request one be put in your room.

We had hoped that we would have pleasant enough weather to spend some time playing in the sand. But the day were were there was exceptionally cold and windy. We did go to the indoor pool in the morning but the water and the air were just a bit too cold for the girls to be comfortable so swimming only lasted a short time.

We spent the afternoon at the shopping village at the resort. There was a playground but our girls were still small for it, especially with a couple dozen big kids running around. There were no baby swings for them to use. And aside from he green area where they ran around a bit and ducks in the pond to see there really isn’t much for young toddlers to do at Sandestin or is Destin at all during the winter.

We actually cut out beach trip a day short and headed to meet our friends in Alabama.

Off the subject of babies for a minute, an important tip when traveling, with or without babies, get gas! This is not so much an issue in the north eastern part if the US, but in the south it’s not uncommon for there to be large distances between gas stations. To be on the safe side, fill your tank as soon as possible when you get down to half. Don’t assume there will another gas station down the road, there may not be. We made this mistake and ended up an hour off course to get gas. Lucky for us they had 87 left.




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When in Rome (or Tel Aviv), Do as the Romans do (or Israelis)

by Juliemara

If preparation for our trip overseas I Put together a packing list, two actually, one for our flight there and one for our stay. The list included everything we use in a daily basis and then some.

When it came to formula and diapers I carefully calculated how much I bring so that we would have just enough for our stay and return trip. Turns out I am as bad at math as I have always admired and I grossly underestimated how much formula and how many diapers we would use. Luckily they have lots of babies in Israel so they sell diapers and formula in the stores! The problem was that as a doting mother I wasn’t sure how the change in formula/diapers would affect my babies.

We regularly use Enfamil formula. We have since the the girls were born because that is what the nurses at the hospital gave them. I did breastfeed for over six months but it took several days for my milk to come in and the girls usually needed a top off of formula.

Enfamil is not sold in Israel, it’s a tiny country with a population of only 8 million so there can only be so much variety that can be sustained by the consumers. The two formula brands that are sold in Israeli grocery and drug stores are Materna (which as far as I know is not sold in the US) and Similac (a popular brand sold in the US). So after a failed attempt of finding someone through my facebook network who would be traveling to Israel that could bring us Enfamil I got girls Israeli Similac.


After comparing the ingredients I realized they are practically the same, Enfamil has some added ingredients to promote healthy eye and brain development. And you can see that the Enfamil (top left) has a smoother texture than the Similac (bottom left and right).


As for the diapers buggies and pampers are the two most available brands sold in Israel. Aside from different but just as ridiculous characters all over them they are he same as the diapers sold in the US.

The girls got try out something else new and different while we were staying in Israel, IKEA highchairs! The basic white plastic highchairs are very popular all over the world, and at $20, they can’t be beat. So why did we spend $150 and get the Graco 4-1, they are comfortable and versatile with the travel ability and separate booster, other than that I think we felt like more money meant better highchair. But after seeing the girls eat so nicely and comfortably in the IKEA highchairs I would recommend them to anyone for a baby that is sitting up well and older.

Here are the girls their first night in Israel, at 10pm, the girls were extremely jet lagged.



And after a few nights of getting adjusted the babies had such a good time eating their meals with the family.








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Things to do when it’s crazy hot

by Juliemara

Israel is in the desert, it’s hot. Sure they have a winter when it gets cool, even chilly in the northern part of the country but not in August. No, in August Israel is hot, north to south and east to west. It’s just plain hot. I think it was about 100 degrees everyday, temperature is measured in Celsius over there and I am not too good at math, so it may have been hotter. It felt like it.

When the weather man says it’s going to be 37 to figure out the temp in degrees you double it, then subtract a tenth of that total and add thirty-two. So it would be 99 degrees or HOT.

We wanted to take the girls out and do stuff but it was so hot it just wasn’t fair to do that to them, being outside during mid day.

One day we went to a mall. While we were there we visited the baby store, Shilav, that had a little play pen with a couple of kids in it. I put in my kids and the had a ball. They explored every inch of the four by four area and loved every minute of it.







The next day my mother in law and sister in law took them to a different mall with a similar play area but much larger.













And a few days later we went back again. Later in the week we went to another place with a whole room of play equipyement just for babies, the girls played hard and had so much fun.










My question is do these type of indoor playgrounds exit in the US? Where? I know there are classes, but what about a big open space with sensory objects for babies to roam around and learn on thier own?

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First rule of international travel…

by Juliemara

First rule of international travel with babies, get to the gate early and get on the plane first. Yes, it is no fun to sit on a plane for an hour or more with an infant (or two) but it is far less fun to have to check your carry on with all your baby essentials because all the over head compartments are full. I read online that with twins it’s a good idea to wait as long as possible to get on the plane because sitting on a plane with a baby is no fun, what the article didn’t mention is not to wait so long that all the overhead compartments are full!



So here’s what happened, we got to the airport with plenty of time, good thing because checking in with 7 bags and 5 carry ons takes a while, and security was pretty busy. So after we got through security we went to the Delta lounge to change poopy diapers, get a drink and a bite to eat before heading to the gate. When we got to the gate they were already boarding, we went ahead to get on the plane, but when we got to the plane we had to wait for them to gate check our stroller and car seat (we got one baby a seat for the overnight flight) but by the time they were done everyone had boarded and all the over heads were full, so they needed to check our two carry ons as well. The problem was that we wouldn’t get them back for our next flight. So instead of taking a minute and rearranging a few overhead compartments to make room for our two small roller boards they gave my husband the option of emptying the contents into four plastic bags and bringing those on the plane or not having the supplies from the bags at all. So that’s what he did. Now we were traveling with two babies, a double stroller, two diaper bags, one car seat, two bouncy seats, and four plastic bags.

When we arrived at JFK my husband ran ahead of us to the next gate to try to arrange for us to have a baby bassinet and to deal with our seat arrangements. Although we had previously selected our seats, three in the bulkhead, the airline changed the aircraft thus rearranging our seats, so that my husband was in one section of the plane, I was in another, and Jordan was in another seat, in another part of the plane, all by herself. Clearly this was not going to work.

Once we arrived at the gate I had enough time to change two poopy diapers before we had to board. My husband made a miracle happen and got us back our three bulk head seats with a bassinet. Let the journey begin.

The girls loved the airplane experience they were laughing and looking all around at the people. We ended up having to wait and taxi for quite some time, about two hours, but I really didn’t care, it was time that I got to spend with my babies, we were having fun. We were extra lucky for our flight out, the girls nanny, Yael, was headed home to Israel as well to see her family too! So she helped me entertain the girls during the wait and even into the flight.


We had enough room on the floor in front of our seats to sit on the floor and play. I know it’s really gross to sit in the floor of a plane but sometimes you jut have to let things go. I did lay a blanket down but that blanket I’m sure ended up wrapped around a baby at some point. To make myself feel better I just kept reminding myself that they would get a bath as soon as we arived at my husbands parents house and I wiped thier hands with a wet wipe every once in a while.

Over all the babies did really well on he flight. They went to sleep, talia in the car seat an Jordan in the bassinet. Every so often one would wake up and I would give her a bottle or rock her back to sleep. At some point talia got switched to a bouncy seat on the floor and Jordan to the car seat, but for the most part they slept and were really good. We even brought candy to give to the people around us as a peace offering, but the babies were so good and fun it wasn’t even necessary.

As for our four plastic bags of supplies it really wasn’t an issue, it actually my have have been a bit easier to access the supplies having them in smaller bags rather than a suitcase. I also had a large wide opening diaper bag that I kept by my feet for quick access to diapers, wipes, clean bottles, formula, snacks, food, bibs and toys. I wish I had used different color bags for each item, it would have made finding things in my huge bag in the dark much easier.

And those two small roller boards we had to check in Atlanta all the way through to Tel Aviv, they never showed up in Tel Aviv. I got a message that A bag was in New York but by the time I got he message several days ha passed and they were not able to locate it, they are still looking. Stinks, I really liked that piece of luggage.

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Digging in the Sand – More Beach Pictures!

by Juliemara

Saturday morning, after a serious breakfastImage



We packed up our beach gear and headed for the sand. Three families with five kids between them brought to the beach three umbrellas (which blew away four times), three beach blankets, one cooler full of water and bottles, two strollers (one was a double wide), one baby pool, four buckets, five shovels, 16 different sunscreens, six hats, 10 diapers, one beach chair (which got used for all one two minutes) and three serious cameras.

Talia and Jordan loved every part of the beach. Keep in mind we were at the beach for about one and half hours.
The girls two piece rash guard and bikini bottoms came in handy for quick diaper changes. One pieces are super cute but for practicality two piece suits have my vote, for babies and myself!

Talia and Jordan discovered the taste of salt for the first time.
And they love it.

Talia loves watermelon
A lot.
Jordan loves to splash in the baby pool.
Talia loved to dig in the sand
Jordan preferred staying clean and sand free on the blanket with a super fun empty water bottle

Until Talia stole it.

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