I have been traveling for work alot lately. It seems that I am in the airport almost every week. I absolutely love airports. Perhaps it is because my dad was a pilot, or maybe it allows me to do people watching at it’s finest. I often imagine the stories that accompany the different people coming and going. Some are on their way to a big pitch. They are preparing for a meeting that could help define their career. Others are emotional, they have just left their loved ones. Their tear filled eyes remind me of all the times I have had to say good-bye to my parents. Then there are the ones headed off to find an adventure. Maybe they are visiting a new country, backpacking through Europe, flying for the first time or traveling as a group. Whatever their stories, in Detroit a special thing has happened. People began sharing their journey on the stones that surround the beautiful fountain in the mcnamara terminal. There are messages shared between travelers. Some mark where they are coming from, others communicate their next adventure, or even tell a secret. It is an organic storytelling gallery. So what story will you share? Bring a sharpee and be sure to tell your story in DTW.
About two weeks ago we went to Greenville, SC on a bit of a getaway “staycation” kind of a trip. Doug’s parents offered us the use of their home in Greenville for the week and we were excited to explore this city. I was blown away. Really. Who knew this incredible approachable, foodie-filled city was just here? Well I think we just about visited 2 new restaurants a day, discovered about 5 parks, explored the beer culture and enjoyed this beautiful city with a river running through it. I was in awe. I don’t think I have experienced a downtown as vibrant as this one outside of Chicago or New York. It was packed with families, side walk cafes, street musicians and offered the southern hospitality available only in the deep south. Maggie was in heaven and we took our time to relax, read (I even got through the entire Harvard Business Review this month!) and build memories. Throughout a vacation, I often tuck away memories and think “I need to remember this moment”. I had quite a few of them, but perhaps my favorite moments on this trip were seeing Maggie discover her love for the outdoors. An unforgettable date night to celebrate my Masters (more on that to come) and hanging out with my BFF, Barbie, for a girls night out. There are alot of “Remember this moment” pictures but I thought I would share one that really puts the reason behind vacations into perspective. It is about connecting with family and building the moments that make up the fabric of your story together.
Any parent knows that traveling with a toddler can be a challenge. We have flown and drove across the country with our 16 month old and apps were a go-to solution for keeping her engaged (and contained). I am also going to include the annoying factor. Let’s face it, most apps for kids are incredibly annoying when it comes to the songs and sounds. I have found a few that are fantastic, but there is definitely a market opportunity for cool apps for kids.
My top 5 apps for free and for a fee:
This has two different settings and has transitioned from about 12 months to 16 months well. The second stage provides a key board and shapes and my daughter loves how the app uses responsive design when she tilts it from side to side the characters follow her movement. The design of the app is well done and there are not any distracting ads which get in the way of game play. Annoying Factor: 4 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying) The songs on this are typical Fisher Price, it does keep my daughter engaged but I find the music rather irritating at times.
A cute app with engaging music and very intuitive movement for a toddler. My daughter loves the songs that play at the end of each animal cycle. The only drawback is that there are only two cycles of animals (she would love it if there were more animals to see). Annoying Factor: 3 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying) The background music isn’t too bad on this option but the songs are still pretty typical Fisher Price. Watch out – it can be pretty catchy – I find myself humming this one from time to time.
By far this is one of my favorite apps for Maggie. They do have a lite version for free to try before you buy. Although it is worth the spend – so go for the paid version of this app. It provides updates throughout the year for each season and has a beautifully designed interface with a playful soundtrack. Perhaps the best part about this app is that they use kids as the voice over to identify the animals. It is super cute and really well done for game play for a toddler. Annoying Factor: 1 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying) If all apps were as awesome as this one – I would be in heaven. The apps is made by Night and Day Studios and they have some other releases as well and range from $2-3 dollars per app.
This app activates your camera phone to provide a facetime calling experience with Elmo and your child. It offers an easy to use interface but has some elements that make it more for an older toddler. When you select a button to have Elmo call, you have to press a small-ish green button to answer, if your child is used to pressing anywhere on the screen for a response, they can get frustrated with this limited touch feature. In addition, not all of the calls utilize video and the “voice” only calls are quickly ended. The updates provide new videos and you can also purchase additional characters to call. This app keeps my daughter engaged around 5-10 minutes usually and she enjoys watching herself and Elmo. Annoying Factor: 3 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying) It’s the voice of Elmo – need I say more?
Although created originally for adults, who doesn’t like to play this app. The key for toddlers is to select the “Zen Mode” and for a minute and 30 seconds, watch them slice and dice fruit to their heart’s content. You can download a free version, however the ads and limited features make the investment in the full version worth the spend. Annoying Factor: 1 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying) It’s one of the top rated apps overall for a reason. This is fun to play, easy to listen to and enjoyable to watch.
About a week ago we surprised my parents. It. Was. Awesome. The funny thing is that I dreamed of showing up at their doorstep years ago to tell them I was pregnant, but that opportunity came and went. So, when I was sad about leaving them at Christmas, Doug had the plan to visit them in February as an early birthday present to my mom (and secretly to me as well). And what Michigander wouldn’t want to travel to the southern coast the weekend of a crazy snowstorm. Maggie was a champ on the plane ride down (and I planned for weeks ahead on how to conquer the plane ride … more on that to come). We rented a car in Pensacola, FL and arrived at 11pm on Friday evening. We rang the doorbell and Maggie greeted her grandparents with giant hugs. We took the next few days to enjoy Mardi Gras parades (more on that to come…) and eat the freshest seafood right from the gulf. This will be a special trip in my memory book – and a warning out to all that I love… you never know what time I will ring your doorbell to say “hello, I love you”.
It was about two years ago that we headed off to Maui and thankfully Doug scheduled a lay-over for a day in Seattle. We knew we were pregnant at the time and I remember Seattle with conversations of what it would be like to be a parent. I love discovering new places with my best friend and our travels together are filled with some of the best talks.