Family Vacation to the Olympic Beaches

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Washington’s Olympic National Park is an amazingly diverse place, with snowcapped mountain peaks, sandy ocean beaches, and a temperate rain forest all within easy driving distance of each other. One particular part of the park has twice been our base of operations for the ideal family vacation.

The Olympic Beaches stretch along the Pacific Coast for 73 miles. They range from the wide and sandy Kalaloch Beach to the rugged and rocky Rialto Beach. They all have their own unique characteristics, some with awesome tide pools and others with weird rock formations, and they are all close enough to each other to be explored in just a day or two.

====> Continue reading my article at TripAdvisor’s Family Vacation Critic blog

Jellyfish Attack

When I was a kid, probably 7 or 8, my family spent a day at a Southern California beach, building sand castles, playing in the surf, and eating slightly sandy hot dogs.

I remember that day because I was viciously attacked by a jellyfish!

Okay, so it was a mild sting. Very mild, in fact. But I was at that age where everything is amplified tenfold because it’s new and strange. In my mind, the ocean was suddenly filled with millions of horrible little jellyfish reaching out with their long, poisonous tentacles.

If only I had known that jellyfish are beautiful creatures. They’re even kind of cute and cuddly. Most of all, they are quite useful. Continue reading

For the Love of Reading and Pickle-Chiffon Pie

When my son was born, we took great care to outfit our house with everything a baby might need. Soft blankets, colorful blocks, nutritious snacks. But there was one staple I went a little overboard with.

Books.

I wanted my child to be surrounded by books. I couldn’t enter a bookstore without browsing the children’s section. Garage sales and thrift shops would see me snapping up every baby book I could find for 10 cents or a quarter.

I’ve always loved books, and I wanted my kids to love them too. Continue reading

Protecting Our Kids From The Beatles

Ever since the Internet came along, there have been horror stories of children being lured away from their homes after developing an online relationship with someone. Whether it was through MySpace, Facebook, SnapChat, or any of the other social media that have popped up over the years, it has certainly been a cause for concern from the very beginning, and has been the main consideration in allowing our kids to freely access social web sites.

Yes, we all agree. There are plenty of dangers for kids on the Internet. But if you think any of this is new, then think again. Continue reading

The Ghostliest Ghost Town in the West

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Teaching your kids about history when you travel doesn’t have to mean a long, boring day of museums and statues. If done right, history can be more than just artifacts behind a glass case, or a plaque that points out where something used to be.

When my kids were studying the old west, with its wagon trains, gold miners and outlaws, I knew there was no better place for it to all come to life than in a real western ghost town.

My new article about Bannack State Park, the ghostliest ghost town in all the west, is now appearing on Family Vacation Critic, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor. You can expect to see several articles from me each month on this essential family travel site. I hope they give you inspiration for a memorable family adventure!

==> Continue reading about Montana’s awesome Bannack State Park

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Intense In Tents – A Review and Giveaway

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I’ve always loved tents.

One of my very earliest memories of childhood was draping a large table cloth over a folding card table and crawling underneath with a pile of pillows and a shoebox filled with toy cars and plastic soldiers.

It was my space. Mine. Everyone else had to stay out. Except for the occasional imaginary friend or an unsuspecting curious cat. Continue reading

A Child’s Guide to Vegetables

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My kids have always loved their veggies. But only under certain conditions. Long ago, when they were younger, I developed this simple Child’s Guide to Vegetables to help me avoid mealtime rebellion.

1. Carrots must be raw, not cooked.

2. Broccoli must be cooked, not raw.

3. Celery must be 2 inches or longer, never chopped into small pieces.

4. Corn must be on the cob, never loose on the plate.

5. Tomatoes are evil, but ketchup is heavenly.

6. Beans are gross, while refried beans are delicious.

7. Green beans are tolerable by themselves, but disgusting when mixed with macaroni and cheese.

8. Peas are fun to eat, but if one gets smashed, the party’s over.

9. Mixing different vegetables together is forbidden, as it’s simply too much work sorting them out to eat individually.

10. Brussels sprouts. Are you insane?

None of these rules made much sense to me at the time, except for the one about brussels sprouts (yuck), but at least the kids ate their veggies in one form or another.

These days, as my son and daughter have grown into maturing teens, only a few of the rules still ring true.

I’ll just stay quiet on which ones.

Calling Dr Cocoa

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“I can’t wait to get sick again!”

That’s what I expected my kids to say once I showed them Dr. Cocoa, a new children’s cough and cold medicine made with real chocolate.

I grew up with the usual cherry-flavored cough syrup. To this day, anything with a strong cherry flavoring brings back unpleasant memories of childhood illness. Cherry Coke is the worst. It might as well be a glass full of Robitussin in my mind.

So, I was immediately intrigued by Dr. Cocoa when they sent me a few samples. Who doesn’t like chocolate? And why was it never added to cough medicine before?! Continue reading