Navigating European Airports

My family has lived abroad and traveled often in Europe, but after this last trip—with connections in various European airports—I thought how stressful and embarrassing navigating security and airports would be for rookie families.

In short, domestic airports offer no preparation for European airports.

Parents, here’s what you need to know so that you and the kids survive without a break-down. Who wants tears, tantrums, and running mascara, anyway?

Don’t Sweat It: Getting Through Security 

Don’t be me. I once felt hundreds of eyes on me at the Edinburgh Airport security check-point. I was forced to rifle through all my liquids (sunscreen, mascara, hand sanitizer, etc.) in my carry-on tote and roller suitcase. In front of the world, or so it seemed, I had to shove them into one teeny zip-lock bag. The fact is, European airports mean what they say when they allocate one zip-lock bag per traveler for liquids. Better to corral all the family’s liquids from their various pockets, cosmetic and toiletry bags before you reach the security line to confirm everything will fit. You’ve possibly never had to perform this exercise while traveling within the US, but honestly, the reinforcement at European airports is strict. What doesn’t fit will be pitched. Buh-bye, precious moisturizer.

Read in full at Oregon Family Magazine.

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Holiday Parties: Getting Your Kids Involved

Holidays guarantee entertaining, in one form or another. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the chaos of hosting, cutting dramatically into family time during a season which should be above all, family-centric.

I countered this once by asking our son and daughter to be servers at a small dinner party we hosted. To my surprise, they took on the task with creative fanfare, devising a plan to emerge dressed “alike.” Our petite daughter stuffed herself into her younger brother’s khakis and plaid shirt, and with a mustache drawn on her face, appeared side-by-side with her khaki, plaid-shirted and mustached brother to greet guests, take drink orders, hand out water glasses and clear appetizer plates as needed. They called themselves “Bob and Bob” and ended up stealing the show. They enjoyed their popularity, and my husband and I appreciated their helpfulness, since we were stretched with finishing the meal and welcoming our guests.

This positive experience reinforced my commitment to invite the kids into the process of planning and executing a dinner party so they participate in a meaningful way.

Read in full at Washington FAMILY.

 

Family Travel Helped Our Kids Make Their Own Memories, Not Simply Step Into Ours

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“We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and a decade later traveled back to show our daughter and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane, where our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago.

Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.

They transformed our time in Germany into a nonstop quest to conquer towers.

Any signage with Schloss (castle), Feste (stronghold), or Burg (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception, we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin, up the cramped, damp, spiral stairs to the lookout tower.

These ruins–unlike American historic sites—lacked the warning signs, the guardrails, the attendants and the guides. There were no disclaimers posted, no emergency phones available if help were needed, no brochure map to navigate the castle ruin’s maze. Kids sprinting from dungeon to teetering tower were solely under the protection of their parents.”

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine

From Sampaguita to Bleeding Heart: A Story of Resurrection

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The earth was cracked and troubled in Washington, D.C. If only you’d been listening, you would have decoded the garbled whisperings of Auntie Kay’s rapid decline, a sampaguita wilting, just like your bleeding hearts in summer, hot as morning mouth. Instead, you obsessed over perennials, especially your bleeding hearts. And, you stupidly pinned your success on them. Now their decline signaled a mocking failure.

Formerly a burned out parking lot, your skinny 15×45 patch of manufactured grass served as an urban backyard. Belying appearances, this defiled earth hid scars of the past that now threatened to slice up your hands. Your gardening gloves mostly shielded you from the harmful objects—glass, rusty metal, bullet casings, and ground-up concrete. Undaunted, you imagined Eden could be realized in one growing season under your coaxing, a remarkable, almost impossible, feat for a veteran gardener. Unluckily, you were an amateur. Unluckily, there was a drought that year. Unluckily, it was Auntie Kay’s final summer.

On the surface it was the bleeding hearts that filled you with a pitiful, throat-catching anxiety. Running parallel, deeper, viciously circling in your gut, was the once unflappable Auntie Kay now wasting away in Chicago. Be honest. Pull back the curtain: that was the throat-catching anxiety.

Read in full at Santa Fe Writers Project: http://sfwp.com/resurrection-by-kathryn-streeter/

How our Friday night pizza night helps us connect with our growing kids

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Published by The Washington Post, On Parenting:

“Oh, Friday. We’re growing old together, you and I. From each joyful weekly awareness — It’s Friday! — that erupts around our home to the sleepiness that ends the evening, you’ve been there like an old friend. Long ago, you watched as the little kids came along, encouraging us as new parents to establish a family tradition to end the week. We wanted something that invited the kids’ participation, and so it was that you became synonymous with homemade-pizza-and-movie night.”

Read in full on The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/04/29/making-friday-night-pizza-night-as-a-way-to-connect-with-aging-kids/

“Resurrection” on StoryHouston.com

“Annuals were too fake for your taste. They had an artificial quality-a burst of flamboyance and then gone forever. Their blossoms were a little too scripted. But their alternative-the perennial-tested all of what was supposed to be substantive and eternal.

http://www.storyhouston.com/?page_id=2093