Often World Moms contributors are also global travelers, and we are excited that a new travel podcast called Dramatic Travels recently featured two of our contributors. Nicole Melancon had the honor of being the very first Dramatic Travels podcast interview to air, and more recently Elizabeth Atalay shared her travel stories in Episode 9.
Aaron Schlein launched the inspirational family travel podcast Dramatic Travels earlier this year as a resource for family travel, a way to ignite curiosity, and to open people’s minds to the power of travel. In each episode Aaron talks travel with passionate and experienced travelers who are sharing the world, and that love of adventure, with their kids.
Travel opens up a world of possibilities, education, and cross cultural appreciation in a unique and impactful way that no other type experience can. A large part of our mission at World Moms Network is to cultivate cross cultural understand to help build a better world for all of our children. To hear about Nicole and Elizabeth’s travel adventures and how they are sharing their love of travel with their families you can listen to their podcast interviews here:
Nicole Melancon is a freelance journalist, blogger, and social good advocate living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two children. A world wanderer at heart, she has visited over 40 countries for both work and pleasure and is still wandering.
Nicole founded her blog, ThirdEyeMom, in 2010 after a life-changing trip to Nepal where she trekked the Annapurna circuit with her father. Landing in India, she received her “third eye” which symbolizes wisdom. It reinforced her strong belief that you must view the world with a third-eye and as openly as possible. On ThirdEyeMom Nicole writes about travel, culture and social good issues focusing on poverty, global health, education, human rights, women and girls’ empowerment, food security and the environment. She is a member of Impact Travel Alliance Media Network, an alliance of journalists, content creators and social media influencers around the world who are passionate about sustainable tourism, and she volunteers with Travel+SocialGood Blog Coordinator.
In May of 2013 Nicole traveled to India as a member of Mom Bloggers for Social Good to report on water, sanitation, newborn health, and education. In July 2014, she traveled to Ethiopia to report on newborn and maternal health as a fellow with the International Reporting Project, and was a Social Good Fellow for the UN Foundation Social Good Summit, and chosen to attend ONE Women and Girls first AYA Summit in Washington DC in 2015. In July 2015, Nicole climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Solar Sister, a non-profit organization that brings solar electrify to Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been on two separate press trips to Haiti in 2015 and 2017, and reviewed an all-women’s learn to surf camp in Nicaragua in 2016. Most recently she travelled to Kenya to work on the 2018 Follow the Liters Campaign with LifeStraw where the mission was to deliver safe water to the one millionth child.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer and Managing Editor at World Moms Network. In 2016 she traveled to Haiti to visit artisans in partnership with Heart of Haiti and the Artisans Business Network. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. In 2013 Elizabeth traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa with Social Good Moms report on reproductive health and a women’s collective in Alexandra Township. At Documama.org she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsblog.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world but home is in New England with her husband and four children.
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This is an original post for World Moms Network.
We are approaching summer in my part of the world, which means prime hiking season! I hike with my two boys all year round, but I love this time of year when things are a bit less wet. We live along the Cascade Mountain Range, so there is no shortage of amazing vistas and gorgeous forests to explore. I have been hiking with my kids since they were babies, most often on my own. My sons are now elementary school age, and while some things have gotten easier over the years, some have not. Endurance and motivation are continual challenges.
All of those lovely photos on social media usually have some rough backstory moments. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so we keep at it.
Today I share some tips on planning a hike and keeping little feet moving along the path.
Choosing a Trail – It’s important to start any journey with a clear plan. Map out where you will go. Depending on where you live, there are often trail websites as well as guide books available that will tell you which are good hikes for kids and when is the best time of year to go. Take into consideration the drive as well as hike length and elevation gain. Are you considering a hike to a destination such as a waterfall or lake, or do you want a no-pressure meander in the forest? Find out if there is a bathroom at the trailhead. And if you do pick a hike with water features, have a plan for when your kids get wet, because they always do.
Safety – Once you have some ideas, make sure to check weather and trail conditions online or with the closest ranger station. Provided the trail looks good and you have any required permits, you can start gearing up. Make sure to pack the 10 essentials plus extra clothes, food, drinks, books, games, and toys for the car. If you are heading to a trail that will be near any ridge, look out, or peak, have a plan to keep little ones safe. I always liked to bring a special blanket that we called the safety mat. When we were in situations where the kids needed to stay put, I brought out the safety mat and they knew there was no leaving the blanket. You may even offer stickers or other rewards for following safety protocol. Lastly, whether you go solo with kids or with friends, have another adult who is not on the hike as your check in buddy. Let them know where you are going, when you plan to return, when you will call to check in, and where they should call if you don’t.
The Drive – Hopefully your kiddos enjoy all those goodies you packed and let you focus on the road. I always keep an eye out on the drive for fun places to stop for a meal or a treat on the way home. I keep it under wraps, but there comes a point on a longer hike when saying “let’s just get to the car, and we can go get ice cream” helps a ton.
Hiking Goals – If your kids have a concept of distance or elevation, talk to them about what you are doing. Give everyone a map if available. Or better yet, give them pencil and a little notebook and have them draw the trail with noticeable landmarks. Consider having them take photographs along the way. My kids LOVE having a camera to carry and will take tons of photos. If the kids are younger, consider picking a favorite tv or book character to pretend to be and act out an adventure on the hike. My boys loved Thomas the Tank Engine, so we’d pretend to be the engines on the narrow-gauge line up on the mountains. If your kids are older, try geocaching, because everyone loves treasure hunting.
Bribery – There is no other way to put it. I bribe my kids. If the drive is super long, they get to play extra video games in the car for being good sports and coming along. I pack treats along with all the healthy stuff. In the photo above, my boys are shown on a mountain peak. Leading up to that moment, my youngest was beginning to bonk at the site of the final climb. I let him know if he made it to the top, he could eat all the cookies before his lunch. He was thrilled, and as the photo shows, we made it. Maybe video games and cookies aren’t going to work for you, but there is something special you can do to reward all that effort.
The last piece of advice I will offer is to always know that at any time you may need to bail.
Maybe it happens on the drive or on the trail, but set a clear expectation with yourself that it will be whatever it will be, which may mean only a few feet down the path. But the more you get your kids out on the trail, the more accustomed to the work they become. And before you know it, you are on top of a mountain having the cookie party of a lifetime!
Do you explore the outdoors with your children? What tips do you have on keeping them safe and moving?
This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit to the author.
I’m a bit of a contradiction when it comes to instilling magic in my kids. I tend to be pragmatic and philosophical about things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and I think this confuses my kids a bit. My husband and I had a conversation the other day about how I am not letting them live the magic of childhood by being too over explanatory about things like that. When he asked why I wasn’t just letting them believe in the magic of Santa and Tooth Fairies while at the same time having a Fairy Altar in our living room.
I have always felt like a walking contradiction and my son’s wobbly tooth brought some of it out to the light.
When I was little I was made to believe in all things magical like the Tooth Fairy (El Raton Perez actually), Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny. For reasons and paths that life took us on, all these magical creatures became sources of frustration for me. My magical childhood turned into a tween life of hardly any magic at all. The realization of the nonexistence of Santa was sudden and felt like the ripping of a bandaid stuck to a scab (if you know what I mean…then you know the pain). Tooth fairies turned into orthodontists and braces, and the Easter Bunny turned into chocolate for the last time.
When my husband asked why I wasn’t fueling the magic, I answered that it was all a big disappointment in the end. He asked why I was projecting that onto the kids, when they could make their own realizations about all of it. He was right of course, but it took me an entire day to get past the feeling of “why are you attacking me again”. There are lots of kids that grow up just fine and the transition from believing in those things is a normal and peaceful one, there is no point in me forging a sense of disappointment before it’s even time for the transition to happen.
The other night I made a very frilly card from the Tooth Fairy for my son to find by his bed the next morning. He had hundreds of questions, I think he was trying to find out if I really was the Tooth Fairy or not. I played along to the point where he and his sister were convinced that it really was the Tooth Fairy that had come to the house to collect his tooth. What is the line between lying and storytelling? I don’t know I cannot tell you that.
I won’t tell him my philosophical story about Santa and just let them believe that the present in the red wrapping paper really is from the bearded man from the North Pole that came in his sleigh pulled by reindeer. I won’t tell him how the nordics and the pagans were mixed with the Christians to later be a story concocted by the Coca Cola Company to make more Christmas sales.
There isn’t much of a reason as to why I believe in magic but then try and erase it for my children. Why do I take the pragmatic approach? I think it all has to do with disappointment and my own childhood feelings and how magic can just disappear at the blink of an eye.
Why do I believe in all the gods and deities in the universe and teach my children as much but then cut the cord at creatures such as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny? Why do I separate ones from the others? Aren’t they just as real? My spiritual brain is very pragmatic, I studied theology and comparative religions and this has made me at the same time very believing but also very technical.
No point getting technical with the Tooth Fairy!
For my children I promise to keep my eyes open and let them believe in all the magic creatures they can think of without me telling them about how Coca Cola invented the red and white Santa and I won’t try and explain how the tooth fairy got her wings or why the Easter Bunny is made of chocolate.
Here’s to more magic in our kiddos’ early lives.
How about you? What kind of magic do you instill on your own kids?
The last time I saw my father was in March 1991. In July 2016, after 25 years and many more questions, I finally saw him again.
Leading up to the day he was coming, I kept wondering what it would be like to see him after so long. Would we both cry? Would I be happy, or mad, or something I didn’t yet know? So it was fairly perplexing to discover that I’d react as if I had just seen him the previous week.
My older brothers, my husband, my oldest niece and I picked him up along with my youngest brother, whom I hadn’t yet met. The airport was busy with people and taxi drivers bustling about, which made the experience kind of surreal, as if experiencing it from outside of myself with ‘Café sounds’ playing as mood music in the background.
We all hugged, got in our cars and drove to my mom’s house. I was really curious to see what my parents’ first in-person interaction in 25 years would be like. There were no fireworks and no war-like explosions; just hugs and excited happy voices.
I pulled my husband to the side later that evening and explained how weird it was to not feel anything extreme. How could I not want to cry from seeing my father and my youngest brother? How could I not want to yell in frustration for having so many questions left unanswered? In the end, I theorized that because I already knew that I wouldn’t be getting any answers, I was mentally and emotionally prepared for this very special encounter.
Although we were around one another here and there for about two weeks, it was only toward the end of my stay that my father and I had ‘the’ conversation. We were at the beach, and he was by the water, standing alone. I walked over to take a food order from him, and he said: “Listen, I am really sorry for not being in your life, but all that is in the past, and I hope we can move forward with a new life. Okay?”
I could see it was a difficult sentiment for him to get out, as he could barely look at me as he spoke. It seemed that he wanted to let me know how bad he felt, but he wasn’t going to get into it, whatever his reasons were.
All I could do, given where we were, was say “okay”, smile, and take his food order. On my way back to the restaurant at the beach I couldn’t help but analyze my response. I was a bit incredulous at myself, but I also knew this wasn’t the place to have ‘the’ conversation with my dad.
The sum of the experience, for me, was to learn that life presents us with a myriad situations in which innumerable people are involved. Sometimes we find the strength to ask questions to find closure, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we ask the questions and we get answers, and other times we don’t. What do we do then, when there are no answers but the answer-bearers are alive?
We can come up with as many solutions for this as there are people, but I found that my lesson was to let it go and agree that it’s all in the past.
Finding closure for yourself can be difficult, but if you pretend that there is no other way (for instance, if you wanted to ask Michael Jackson how many times he rehearsed The Man in the Mirror, you couldn’t do so, and you’d have to be at peace with that), then I believe you can put your mind to accepting that you can move on, taking your brain and your heart with you and have closure regardless.
What are some of your experiences in which you wanted closure but couldn’t get it? What did you do about it? Does it affect your parenting in any way?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.
I recently attended a wedding and observed one of our local customs that gave me pause. In a Nigerian wedding, there it is tradition for elders to offer marital advice to the new couple during the ceremony. Interestingly, in most cases, all the advice is directed to the bride. Is this because people believe that a man is hardwired with knowledge of how to make marriage work? Or because they feel there is no reason for a man to know anything about making marriage work? Or is it simply because most of the wedding attendees who give advice happen to be women? I watched as speaker after speaker gave the couple advice, consistently directed only to the bride.
Since the groom at this particular wedding received no advice, I thought I would offer some, just for grooms.
- Don’t be afraid to say I AM SORRY. Your wife may forgive easily, but this is no reason to keep offending her deliberately. Apologies should be sincere, and you should never apologize just for the sake of it.
- Make your wife feel important. Treat her like she matters, and be considerate of her feelings. Respect begets respect. My husband once said to me, “We are not just spouses we are friends.” Be sure to build a strong friendship with your spouse.
- Make family decisions together. Communication is key in every marriage! Don’t try to shield your wife from troubling situations. Instead, let her know what is going on whether with work, and let her share your burden.
- Be grateful. Appreciate your wife for all that she does, and never ever take her for granted. Always recognize her for her contribution to the family, work and household.
For marriage to work beautifully, I believe that BOTH parties must make a conscious effort. Most of all, the couple must set goals together, and review them regularly.
What advice would you give to a groom? Is it the same advice you would give to a bride? What are the wedding customs where you live?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
Photo credit to the author.
In the beginning of June my husband, our two youngest children and I traveled to the United Republic of Tanzania. Aka: my birth home. As expected before international travel, we each took appropriate vaccines and malaria tablets.
We were in Tanzania for five weeks, and within that time both children got sick. It began with the 3 year old getting a viral and bacterial infection. One night we noticed that her temples were a bit hot, and then the heat transferred to her palms and soles and they were hot! I had personally never experienced this nor had I ever come across any such symptoms while doing other research online. So needless to say, it was a bit scary.
When we took her to the doctor, lab results showed that she had a viral infection resulting in a rash all over her body, and a bacterial infection which was likely caused by fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
Nasty. I know. We are parents, however, and if we aren’t writing posts about fecal-oral bacteria, then why are we really here? (smile)
She was prescribed antibiotics, calamine lotion, an antihistamine cream, and antihistamine syrup. After a week, she was all done with her antibotics, which she finished entirely, even after she felt better (I mention this in jest, but I also want to reinforce the importance of ensuring that our kids finish the antibiotics they are on). Her rash went away after a couple more days and that was that (or maybe not).
As soon as she was fine again, her 1.5 year old brother became ill. Coughing, sneezing, hot temples then hot palms and soles including a 102 degree fever in the middle of the night.
The following day we took him to a doctor and his lab results thankfully showed he had not viral infection, but did have a bacterial infection, also brought on by…. You guessed it: a fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.
He was also prescribed antibiotics and probiotics, and began healing quickly.
Fast forward two weeks, to our second last night in Tanzania. My son had a restless night. I thought it was because he wanted his daddy. He was calling ‘Daddy! Daddy!” in the middle of the night and showed no other signs of illness. The next day we walked to pick up my emergency passport (that’s a story for another day) and it was the dustiest 15-minute walk on which he has ever been. Think country road meets busy city road.
I walked as fast as I could, even jogged a bit, but alas, the damage was done. That night he had a runny nose that went from clear to yellow overnight. He has been sick ever since.
When we returned to the States I took him to his pediatrician’s office and explained what had happened. The pediatrician on call prescribed an anti-allergy medication. Five days later he was no better. We went back and his usual pediatrician said to increase the dosage of that medicine and alternate it with another antihistamine.
We added the use of a humidifier, eucalyptus oil, and baby Vicks on the back, chest and feet. We also got a really cool contraption that allows parents to suck the snot out of the baby’s nose through a filtered hose that keeps parents mouths clean. Yay!
Nothing was better. He had that same palm and soles fever for two nights. We took him to the doctor for the third time and I explained our travel and illnesses to a third pediatrician. I explained how both kids were still feeling sick, one with crazy congestion, the other with a persistent upset tummy – something she never used to have.
I am not in the medical field and words in my vocabulary like to take abrupt leave of absence (my husband says it’s because I speak multiple languages. I go with that reasoning!). So sometimes it feels that what I have gathered about my children’s health and what I think should be checked based on how they are feeling, is something that their pediatrician doesn’t quite get. Sometimes it feels as if they dismiss the possibility of something worse until it becomes that very thing; only then is it treated. Again, I am not in the medical field, so maybe there is nothing they can do until the reddened ears become infected ears, and the heavy congestion becomes wheezing… I don’t know.
This third visit proved more fruitful. This pediatrician seemed to actually listen and I also knew to be firm in what I wanted done for my children. He acknowledged the possibility of them being exposed to something overseas that requires special attention; something no one else acknowledged until then.
We are going for a follow up visit tomorrow, but it will also be a second visit for our 3 year old, as she is now showing many of the same symptoms as her brother , plus a couple of her own.
If there was a point (or two) to this post, it would be to please follow your instincts when it comes to your children, if in no other area.
Doctors are now considered to be in position of prestige, but that shouldn’t deter you from doing your research and stating exactly what you would like to see happen with your children. Don’t be afraid to be mom.
When traveling try your best to keep your children’s hands clean, and the dishes they use clean and dry.
What tips do you have when it comes to traveling with small children? Have your children gotten sick while overseas?
Do you feel that your pediatrician is interested in what you have to say? Do you feel that he or she is really listening to you?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.