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Children of Peru

Peru has always been a dream destination for me for as long as I can remember. I didn't know much about Peru growing up but I did know that something drew me to its allure - the various smiling Peruvian faces I had seen in magazines, the green mythical images of Machu Picchu, the bright red-orange textiles... I knew I wanted to go. So many, many, many years later my dream came true. My husband and I packed our dusty backpacks, kissed the children good-bye and ventured out into our hiking adventure extravaganza! 

Kind of like a disclaimer....Our experience of Peru was mostly in the Andes Mountains - Cusco area - so all views, reactions, stories, opinions relate to this specific area and it's people.

 

People. I could go and on about how sweet and pleasant the people of Peru are. Although hardly anyone spoke English, between my grade-school Spanish and their own flexibility and creativity we were somehow were able to communicate quite well! The smiles never faded as we tried to talk with stewardesses, waiters, tellers, shop owners, hotel staff and on and on. Only our guide spoke English throughout our entire trip. Yet, I didn't realize this until now...guess it wasn't a real issue eh?

 

Places. We went on a three day hike called Lares Trek - the Inka Trail trek (the most well known trek in Peru) was sold out because only 500 trekkers a day are allowed by the government. Thank goodness!  

 

On our trek we actually went through remote villages and saw locals and spoke and played with children that are very isolated from tourists. Some saw their picture taken for the first time, almost all tried to eat the candy we gave them with the wrappers, and a couple of children were scared until I took off my sunglasses. They all look liked beautiful, dirty, messy, happy dolls. The girls all wore tightly wrapped layers of colorful sweaters with v-shaped skirts and the boys cropped pants with blue knits and they all wore the most uniquely gorgeous hats I have ever seen. Every child had rosy big cheeks that had cracked rom wind and sun exposure and they all wore simple, plastic brown sandals. I will remember each and every one of the children we met in the Andes Mountains for as long as I live. 

 

Food. Quinoa paradise! Potato heaven! Corn bliss! Need I say more? We had potatoes three times a day, quinoa risotto, fresh, delicious vegetables with everything and an abundance of pisco sours...a girl could surely get use to this. Peruvians treat meals like I do - a gesture from the Gods; an expression of love; the beginning and end to all things wonderful...so you see how well we got along... The only thing that I didn't try (and I am usually up for anything) is guinea pig (their festive luxury) - I babysit our neighbor's "Fluffs" so too many images in my head. But the alpaca meat was tried, tasted and noted - not a favorite but not bad - I'll stick to quinnotto!! 

 

 

Children. No need for more words.

We Love Fall (Collection)

Everything about Fall brings a smile to my face. I love infinity scarves, boots, warm tea, fireplaces and cool walks. Fall has all the benefits without the freezing mess of winter (which I don't love). So even though it was the middle of the summer, I absolutely loved our Fall PhotoShoot 2014! Plus, the kids were so adorable my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The clothes? Beyond words. 

Check out the insanely cute caps and pants from Patouche! The pants come with a sword holder so that the wooden sword can fit nice and snug while your little pirate runs to save the ship! And our infinity scarf, the toys, the leggings, the fleece, all from our wonderful artisanal designers. 

It was hectic, messy, fussy, chaotic, adorable and funny! Hope you enjoy all the work that our little (and big) friends did. We for one are super proud!

A super thank you to our amazing photographer, Laura and to Lauren for making everything pretty.

 

Enjoy our Fall Collection 2014! 

A Tourist in Our Own City

East coasters love the Fall! The beautiful colored leaves, scarves and adorable booties, and a perfect excuse for doubling your latte runs! It's also the perfect weather to roam the streets, go window shopping and generally browse all the wonders of our beautiful city: New York City. Since we don't know how long we will be living here (we are gypsy expats) we try to take advantage of the City every chance we get.

After years of living here, I sometimes take things, places and opportunities for granted.  When our friends from London came to visit, we hesitantly realized that we have never been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. We look at it from afar once a week..but never actually climbed those stairs. In our minds, we "had time" to do that. That is, until we won't....

So I decided that this Fall we would live New York City like a tourist. Every Sunday we have an itinerary and see some sights, take tourist pictures (naked Cowboy was a hit!!) and eat at all the places that we were "too cool" to do because we lived here. I can't tell you the fun that we have had so far!!

Remarkably enough, even though I thought I knew the City like the back of my palm, what helped me the most was a little guide named "kidsGo! New York" The nice people there had sent a copy months ago but because we weren't living as tourists I felt that I didn't need it. Until I did. And then boy was I thankful! 

It's different (and why I needed it) because it is from the perspective of the child. Not all things and places that I like - I know those - but things that my kids would find cool and inspiring. 

This little handbook is about 60 pages of useful information - short enough so you don't get overwhelmed yet packed with cool info, helpful tips and tons of options. My favorite part is that it is divided in terms of needs and not just a list of random places. So, when it was a cold and miserable day last Sunday, instead of having to go through hundreds of listings for ideas, I just browsed the "It's Raining, It's Pouring" section (we ended up visiting Animazing Gallery and young and old loved it!).
So whether you are a  true tourist or a wanna-be tourist like us, check out their site for a city that would interest you. Worth it!
You can also purchase these fantastic NYC scenes on the Tania Willis NYC Map print, available here.
Long Haul Travel with Kids - Part 3

And now the conclusion of our three part series on handling long haul travel with kids

Combating jetlag. 


This actually starts on the airplane. No, I don’t mean giving your child melatonin...that’s for you and your pediatrician to decide (for the record, I’m against any medication for this purpose- natural or not). What I mean is that we plan the routine and time difference from the flight. Knowing what time you will arrive at your destination and what the difference from home will help you plan when and how long your child needs to sleep or nap on the plane. For example, since we fly east to Greece on an afternoon flight which arrives in the morning I put them down for a long nap (aim for 4 hours). How? I do the whole nightly routine - change them into pajamas if you must, sing them lullabies, give them milk - lots!
Best advice. I used to care a lot more about the opinions and judgement of the other passengers than about the well-being of my kids. I didn’t rationally think of it that way, but in effect that was what was happening. I would end up in tears and frustrated while my children would be bewildered and confused. I had let other’s judgement affect my composure and the kids felt it. Be aware of your surroundings, but don’t let them overshadow your belief that you are doing the best that you can in a difficult situation. That’s all anyone can ask of you.

And if all fails, "at it's worst, it's just one day" and you will never see these people again.

The Long Haul Flight with Kids - Part 2

The Day of the Flight!

I have heard many parents try to keep their child up later at night or skip their nap the day of traveling in hope that the child will sleep longer on the flight. This is travel suicide. Step away from thought immediately. A rested child is always a better child on any flight. Keep excitement level high and stress level low. Kids pick up on all those vibes and will follow suit. 

At the airport. The fun begins finally. Bring snacks -  I have yet to see a child eat anything that is associated with airplane food. My daughter will try anything - its become our family's favorite pastime to watch her try unrecognizable foods...but airplane food she will not touch. I do not ask anymore. When my youngest finally had his own airplane seat (and inevitably his own tray of "food") I didn't even take the aluminum cover off the tiny meal plate - I just reached for the plastic covered cheese and rock-hard bun for him. I know now. SO I bring a combination of healthy, light (in weight) snack options. Pretzels, nuts, grapes, cheerios seems to work best for us.
Milk - Airplanes have milk so that’s something you can cross off your list. You need to bring formula or any specific milk (soy or almond) though.


Security - most times if they see you schlepping kids, they will pass you to the front of the line (I think the only advantage of traveling with young ones). The trick is for them to see you so if your kids have a tendency to be loud, this is the time to do it! At the gate? Run. Run. Run. Let them get their steam out. I strongly advise to let them run up and down the aisles, the waiting room, anywhere! if needed, chase them; help them get exercise and hopefully, exhausted!

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