Parenting & Travel Blog with tips, guides, reviews and honesty about family travel and parenting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Napa: Check the Mom Guilt


                      
One of the hardest things about travelling without my kids isn't always who will watch them (thank you eager grandparents!!) but the mom guilt that goes along with it. Any place I visit my brain automatically thinks: "wow, the kids would love this!" Because there really is a magic in seeing the world through kids' eyes.

But hold on tight mamas....I found a place where there is no mom guilt and the magic is completely within my own eyes: Napa California! You don't drink or like wine you say? Don't worry because you don't actually have to.  Napa is the place where you could be converted to be a wine drinker, or just someone who can appreciate the art of the vine. Here are my list of reasons why moms who need a break need to look west:


1. No kids allowed: wineries generally don't allow kids to be in their tasting rooms, so really there aren't a lot of kids in Napa. Yes - children live and go to school in the Napa area, but it is a lot less likely for you to miss your own kids because you don't see too many running around the vineyards.

2. Luxury: The Napa Valley is broken up into small towns with a range of accommodation choices.  We've stayed in the town of Yountville, where there are some great, luxurious hotels! My personal favourite is Hotel Yountville. My favourite part of staying in a luxury hotel without kids is: you don't have to clean up! Ok I know not ground breaking news lady, but confession time: I still tidy up after my kids in hotel rooms. But when the kiddies aren't there, there's (not as much) tidying up to do! Whoot! Whoot!

3. Wine: Yes, apparently that is what Napa Valley is known for.  Even if you aren't a wine drinker, visiting wineries is a must.  The grounds are beautiful, the people friendly and learning about the process of creating a wine is actually fascinating. 

4. Food - California is after my own heart with organic, fresh food and the Napa area is no exception. In fact it is quite exceptional! From 3 starred Michelin starred restaurants to amazing roadside burgers, every meal is an experience. 

5. Bike - with no training wheels! Rent a bike, or if you are lucky enough to stay in a hotel such as Hotel Yountville that includes complimentary bikes for their guests, then hit up the road without having to worry about the littles.  Take in the gorgeous countryside and vineyards along the way all while burning off those grape calories.

6. Shops, cafes, bakeries, art galleries galore - both the town of Napa & Yountville have a variety of each of these to peruse at a leisurely pace. You can shop for a new corkscrew or decanter and indulge in some local art.

Eat:

French Laundry
Gotts Burgers
Oxbow Market
Press Steak House
Bouchon
Bouchon Bakery
Bottega
Ad Hoc

Yountville Views

Stay:

NorthBlock
Hotel Yountville
Bardessno
Westin Versa
Meadowood
Auberge Du Soleil 
Hotel Villagio

The Courtyard at Hotel Yountville

Do:

Bike ride
Lounge Poolside
Wine Tastings
Eat!
Indulge in a spa service
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Napa Valley Wine Trolley

For the brave! Hot Air Balloon Rides

Favourite Wineries:

Domain Chandon
Cliff Lede
Stag's Leap
Dairoush
Joesph Phellps
Silverado
Cardinale





                    

Have you been to Napa? What are your favourite recommendations about the area?























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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fashion Covets




In between shopping for food (man - can these girls eat!) and shopping for new socks (honestly - where do they go??), I like to pretend I have a place to wear real, stylish clothes. 

Usually I look at cute dresses and shoes and think to myself: that would look so great on vacation. Small problem: I'm not on vacation. In fact I don't even have any vacation plans at this exact moment. Actually let me rephrase that. I have plans, oh boy do I have plans, I just don't have any travel plans booked. Like I said, small problem.

But if I had places to go and funds to spend, these would end up in my closet:


  • Classic slingbacks from Chanel. I picture myself eating a baguette while walking along the cobblestone streets in the Latin Quarter wearing these beauties : Chanel Slingbacks
  • The perfect pink jumpsuit for a dinner anywhere that I'm not cooking: Zara Jumpsuit
  • This crossbody rafia bag for that beachy vacation I wish I was going on for Spring Break. It looks roomy enough for sunscreen and all the snacks I need to lug around while keeping my hands free : ShopBop Bag
  • I've been irrationally lusting after the stylish Golden Goose sneakers after seeing them all over instagram. Built in elevated wedge you say? So my legs and butt look good while my feet stay comfy as I trek around NYC? Don't mind if I do! Golden Goose Sneakers
  • This dress seems modest enough to sneak by the critical eyes of my brood, yet stylish enough for me to feel put together. Aritzia Dress

UPDATE! I found a pair of golden goose at Intermix for 75% off! In MY size! Sometimes dreams do come true kids. 

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Girls Trip

Central Park, New York City
Hey Mama!! Take the that trip. You know which one I'm talking about. The one where you don't have to lug around a diaper bag or pack 10,000 stickers and 5,000 snacks and juice boxes.  The one where you aren't worrying about keeping everyone's passports together or whether you have enough episodes of Peppa Pig downloaded on the i pad.

This is the trip where it is about YOU. While I haven't had the courage yet to take a solo trip, there is the next best thing : A GIRLS TRIP! While it doesn't have to end up like the one from the movie (although you do you!), it can be whatever and where ever you and your best gal pals want to do. 

Serene Sunsets by the lake

Need some convincing? Keep Reading, I've got my top 5 reasons:

1. Reconnecting with your besties: as we become grown adults living in a grown up world, we often don't get a chance to connect and nurture our friendships as we once used to. Who has the time (or the quiet space) to gab on the phone for hours with our friends like we used to? Group chats and texts are great for sharing pictures and memes, but not really for any meaningful connection with our friends who know us, who get us, and who still put up with us. 


2. Reconnecting with you: Go back to who you were before you were a mom, or a wife, or super well put together adult (ha!).  Pack those sexy impractical shoes, the white dress that you wouldn't dare wear because it is a stain magnet around the kids, and empty your makeup up drawer into your suitcase.  Or don't. Just be you. Whether you want to get dolled up and go out on the town or just sit in your comfy sweats and pony tail, the genius of a girls trip is that you get to be you. And everyone around you loves you anyways.


3. Come home happier : You'll come home happy, relaxed and appreciating and missing your family. They'll miss you too and your husband will find a new appreciation for everything you do to make your family life run.  The kids will survive without you, in fact they may even thrive. I come home after one girls trip to find my girls had become carnivores - they gobbled up steak and loved their dad's recipe for mashed potatoes. So now they only want Dad to make that meal!


4. Letting go:  For once, you don't have to plan every part of the trip. Girlfriends take care of each other. Someone will know the hottest restaurant to try, someone else will be able to do a smokey eye for you, someone else will be happy to organize the day's itinerary or to mix a mean cocktail for before dinner drinks. 


5. Free(ish) therapy: Remember those long phone calls we used to have with our girlfriends? Where we gossiped and dished the dirt or just cried about our frustrations. While we probably don't have time to have those phone calls as often anymore (or at all!), a weekend away provides therapy of the best kind! Everyone has stuff in their life, and we all need a safe space to be able to vent it out. A girls weekend can provide that.



Sedona
BONUS REASON: As a mom of three girls, I know that I am their role model so many things. One of those include self care. My kids get to see that this mama needs to take care of herself too, so that she can better take care of them.

Where To Go:
Now that you are convinced, you need to figure out where to go! The answer is - really anywhere! I've been super lucky that I have enough friends that like me enough to take me on some great trips over the years. 

1. City Life:  Chicago, Montreal and New York City fit the bill : walk n' talk while discovering great boutiques and cafes, or go to fun, hip restaurants, and indulge in some shopping - a big city trip has something for all the gals in your group along with a ton of hotel choices for all budgets.


2. The Great Outdoors: Hike in Sedona and take in the beauty of the red rocks. (see my post on Sedona for more insp.)


3. Beach: An all inclusive in Mexico or a Miami beach trip - there is lots of beach relaxing and supportive comments about your booty in that bathing suit.


4. Cottage: It works out best when someone has a cottage or cabin for a girls weekend in. Movies, games and food are really all you need.


5. Spa Retreat: Splurge at Mii Amo spa in Sedona or go on a short road trip from Toronto to Ste. Anne's Spa - a wellness trip where everyone comes back super relaxed


6. Party Time: Sometimes girls just want to have fun and let off some steam. Partying with your best gal pas means someone always has your back in da club where you can bust out all your dance moves with no judgement. Las Vegas is perfect for that: party, shop, pool and repeat. Not to mention the desert air makes for good hair days. (I got you girl!)


7. Wine Country: It's the perfect place to "wine" about your life with your friends (I'm so clever). Whether in Napa or Niagara-on-the-lake, grab some bikes and head out together to visit some gorgeous vineyards.


Where have you been for a girl's trip? Share below!


Niagara-on-the-lake




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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

5 things to do in the Bocas with kids



Stuck on a beach with nothing to do? Boo-hoo! Could be worse eh? Ok - add three kids to the mix with no cable TV,  sketchy wifi, no kids club, pools or water slides. Sound like a dream vacation or what?
But somehow in the beautiful Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama, situated in the Caribbean Ocean, there are lots of amazing things to do with your kids.

The Bocas are a relatively undeveloped group of islands with a unique biodiversity with lush green vegetation, crystalline waters, and home to the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous people. A quick flight from Panama city and in about an hour you find yourself in a part of the world that is a natural sanctuary yet easily accessible.


We chose to stay 3 nights at the Azul Paradise , which has over -the- water bungalows with stunning views. Along with their unique accommodations, Azul is eco friendly and operates on a solar system to generate power, uses purified catchment systems for water (totally safe!) and provides full time jobs to the local indigenous community. They also were amazing in helping us coordinate our activities.


Our ride at Azul Paradise - no cars, just boats!

W
hile there are quite a few things to do to explore and enjoy the Bocas, this is our top 5 list  for families:

1. Sloth Island
Head over to an island full of mangroves on a boat, and sit back and take in the gorgeous views and see how many sloths you can spot up in the tree!



2. Starfish Island


The crystal clear turquoise blue waters lend to amazing snorkelling! The girls hopped out to snorkel around Starfish Island where along with so many starfish there were an abundance of coral life to observe. The calm, warm waters were perfect for snorkelers with less experience.




3. Chocolate farm - The kids have to learn something while away on vacay right? We visited the Green Acres Chocolate Farm and it was great for the whole family! Not only did we learn about where chocolate comes from and the first hand production process, we learned a lot about the flora and fauna of the Bocas. We saw and heard howler monkeys, toucans, and poison dart frogs. We even washed down our cacao with some termites! Yikes! True story!



Gorgeous grounds at the Green Acres Organic Chocolate Farm

4. Beach combers - The Bocas being a group of islands means that there are so many beaches to go and explore. Whether you want to snorkel, swim, surf or just lounge on a secluded beach, there really is something for everyone.


The Beach at Azul Paradise

5. Dolphins - watch dolphins play and swim in Dolphin bay from your own boat. But go early and expect company. This was a bucket list item for me!

Other Fun Stuff to Do:

                         - grab a kayak and enjoy the calm waters
                         - catch a water taxi and go into Bocas town - a colourful 
                           Caribbean town full of hostels and small hotels to shop, 
                           wander or partake in the nightlife 
                          - Zip line through the jungles - we didn't get a chance to do 
                            this, but totally on our list for next time
                          - Surf - Bocas has great surfing I'm told
                          - Go Fishing
                          - TIP: pack bug spray and after bite. 2 of us got attacked by 
                           the "no see 'ems" - invisible bugs - ouch!                       

What is your favourite thing to do on a beach vacation with your kids?


Welcoming views at the farm


The floor in our over the water bungalow

The Family Bungalow - spacious for a family of 6

Paradise calling...sunrise views 




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