Author: Kristy Hall

Kristy Hall, the mom behind Two and a Half Travelers, offers observations, trends and helpful advice for couples seeking memorable pre and post baby vacations. Follow me on Twitter-

a global take on an american tradition

A Great Baby Shower FavorThere’s very few American traditions I enjoy more than a good old-fashioned baby shower — complete with wonderfully useful (and a few useless) gifts for a first-time Mom. I recently planned an intimate baby shower that blended a traditional high tea shower with South Asian flair — the application of mehndi for the expecting Mom and shower guests.

About Mehndi
Mehndi or Mehendi is the application of henna as temporary body art. Evidence suggests that mehndi originated from India but it is also deeply engrained in the history and culture of people in other South Asian countries, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Mehndi is traditionally applied as part of a wedding ceremony in India. When traveling in Goa a few years ago, I learned we could easily identify a newly married woman by her intricately designed arms and hands.

Mehndi is also a part of other special occassions live the birth of a baby, engagements, holidays or other family get-togethers. In Arabic speaking countries mehndi is part of celebrations of a woman’s seventh month of pregnancy.

Three Reasons Mehndi Is Great for a Baby Shower

  • It’s beautiful and personal to each guest – some Moms at the shower I just organized very cleverly had the names of their husbands and children worked into the intricate designs they selected.
  • As the henna gradually fades away, guests are reminded of the guest of honor’s upcoming joys and challenges.
  • Henna is cooling and soothing. Just this small amount on my hand had a great overall chill-out effect.

If you’re looking for a henna artist in the NYC area, check out Ammara at NY Henna – you can find her on Facebook as Ammara Nyhenna. Facebook also has a great Mehndi Lovers Group which contains listings for artists across the country and around the world.

yes, you can take a toddler on a road trip

Remember that carefree road trip you took with the top down, a map at your side, big white-rimmed sunglasses and that cute scarf tied around your head?

I’m willing to bet there wasn’t a two-year-old strapped to a car seat in the back blowing a toy whistle and laughing maniacally. Am I right?

Clearly our laissez-faire road trip days are a distant memory for at least sixteen or so years. However, I’m happy to report that in January, with a little carefully-timed park breaks, we took our first step to reclaim a small bit of the open road when we took our toddler along on one of our favorite road trips of all times — Los Angeles to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway.

We started the trip in Santa Monica where we based ourselves for a few days of sightseeing and hanging out at our favorite spots in and around Los Angeles — The Getty, Griffith Park and Palisades Park. On our way out of town we dropped by The Reagan Library in Simi Valley to take a look at the original Air Force One, which is now housed in a hanger with a beautiful view at the library. Our toddler loved strolling down the aisle of the airplane and standing under the original Marine One helicopter.

Following our presidential pit stop we continued north for some outdoor playtime and a picnic lunch at Santa Barbara’s Alameda Park. After an hour and a half of hard-core swinging and running around, we settled back in to the car and enjoyed our son’s nap all the way to Cambria where we enjoyed a little late afternoon play time at Shamel Park — adjacent to Moonstone Beach.

Refreshed with a full night’s sleep and a nice steak dinner (included in our room rate at Cambria Pines Lodge), we drove a few miles up the road to start our day with San Simeon’s famous elephant seals. The late Fall / early Winter months are pup season so we were treated to some very cute Moms seals cuddling with their babies. Lucky for us, elephant seals cause drowziness in toddlers, so we made our way along the jaw-droppingly beautiful drive to Big Sur with relatively little comment from the back seat.

After almost 400 miles of parks, beaches and stunning ocean vistas we arrived at our last stop before arriving in San Francisco, the innovative, award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium was the perfect way to end our two0day trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, trip on the open road. My husband and I marveled at the enormous ocean tanks and the creative kid exhibits while our son seemed equally entranced by the escalator. Kids. Perhaps our next road trip will be to one of our own local shopping malls here in New Jersey!

mapping the first years

Global growthThe longer I do this Mom thing, the more I realize that no two Moms do things exactly alike. For example, many Moms record their child’s first years in a baby book. Other Moms squirrel away their baby’s clothes, socks and shoes to help them remember just how small tiny really is. Others spend their child’s first years double-fisting it with a video camera in one hand and a trusty digital camera in the other. We captured our son’s first years with a map of the United States.

Travel has always equaled memories for us so one of the first things we did when our son was born nearly two years ago was to hang a map of the US on our fridge. Each time we visit a new state with him, we color it in on the map. Visits to family and friends quickly took care of most of the Maine to Florida route. And a planned Winter trip to California will soon balance out the brightly-colored East coast. We also have plans to expand the map to reflect future international travels and the trip we took last Fall to London, Dublin and Belfast.

Although packing up our almost two-year-old toddler and heading out on the road sometimes makes us wonder about our own sanity, we wouldn’t trade the memories for anything in the world.

vermont b&b tailor-made for toddlers

If mixing a New England B&B and a toddler doesn’t strike you as a match made in heaven, you haven’t been to Lyndonville, Vermont’s Wildflower Inn yet.

Just picture it, agreeably worn-out kids, fresh from a day of fun activities on the farm, drinking apple juice from rocket-shaped sippy cups while their equally agreeable parents sip an “oaky” chardonnay and admire Vermont’s green countryside.

Located in Vermont’s rural Northeast Kingdom, the Wildflower Inn is just a twenty minute drive from St. Johnsbury, home of the Fairbanks Museum. In an hour, you can reach New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory or the Cabot cheese factory. If you want to save on gas, there’s plenty to do at the Inn — two hours of kids and teen activities daily, an outdoor pool, a petting barn with a charming miniature horse, wagon rides, a play room, access to bike trails and your choice of two modern play structures.

The Wildflower has a proven track record of doing whatever it can to make families comfortable and happy. Accommodations range from standard hotel rooms (all with great views) to private cottages. The restaurant caters to children but remains up-scale enough to make parents happy.

The Wildflower Inn is family owned and operated. The views from the Inn, especially during foliage season, and the personal, friendly service is a guaranteed to be worth the trip!