AirBnB vs. Hotel for Travel with Kids

We first tried AirBnB when we came to Europe in 2015, and we LOVED it in both London and Paris. We’ve since used them in Northern Ireland, three different places in Germany, a couple more in Paris, Athens, and Rome.

In other places we’ve done hotels instead (Scotland, London, Dover) – so how do we decide?

We’re a family of 8 so anytime we travel we need at least 2 hotel rooms (and in England you have to specify “family” room/suite, as some hotel rooms only sleep two people.) While AirBnB has a bazillion options for sleeping just two, they also have a surprisingly large number of places that sleep at least 8 people – and often for the same price, or less, than getting two hotel rooms. Once you get an AirBnB that size you’re always looking at either a detached home or a flat to yourself. (If you are looking for 2 people you’ll generally find it’s a room inside a home/flat, not so often you get the place to yourself.) And with six kids, I LOVE having our own space while traveling. It’s not just two rooms/suites in a hotel that’s often cramped, but a whole apartment – kitchen/dining area, living room, 2 to 4 bedrooms, and sometimes a lovely garden. Most have included a washer/dryer, which makes my travel easier as we can pack lighter. When you have little ones going to bed earlier and big ones up later, having a bedroom you can shut the door and still stay up in another room is wonderful. Continue reading “AirBnB vs. Hotel for Travel with Kids”

Travel Tips with Kids – Berlin

Berlin! We visited this autumn but I’m including links for places suggested to us – both those we saw, and those we’ll have to visit another time.

Dome of the Reichstag – ticket link: VISIT HERE. Tickets come available online about 8 weeks in advance, they are free but you need to book them and they can go fast. There is also a multi step process to book – initial email, confirmation, provide names/DOB, then final email that acts as the ticket. Make sure you get that final email or you’ll show up and not be allowed in. There was security to get through, and we had to provide photo ID (with birthdate!) for each person, and a crazy double lock door to enter… then up an elevator that we were crammed in (that was odd) but then you’re on the roof – and it’s amazing! You can walk around on the roof a bit, then you can walk inside the glass dome and up the spiral ramp to the top for an even more epic view. It was gorgeous, and a great way to start our Berlin adventure. It’s also the block next to Brandenburg gate.

Brandenburg Gate: We watched a video about this before we came, and as we walked up I told them about some of my memories of being in Berlin right after the wall came down. I thought it was really neat, but it was less significant for the kids. 🙂 It is a block away from the memorial below…

Berlin Memorial to Murdered Jews Continue reading “Travel Tips with Kids – Berlin”

Travel Tips with Kids – Getting Around London (from a Non-Londoner)

It can take a bit of adjustment, but the London public transport system is fantastic. (Okay, so I’m comparing it to some cities where we did not have positive impressions of their undergrounds, but still – it’s relatively clean, well organized, and you can find attendants!) 🙂

There are options for visitor passes (Travelcards), but we’ve always found the Oyster card to be a better deal for us. Here are some links to see all they have to offer: Continue reading “Travel Tips with Kids – Getting Around London (from a Non-Londoner)”

Travel Tips with Kids – London/Harry Potter

* Disclaimer, you need a second day in London to see the WB Studio Tour as it really is an all day thing. The studio is on the outskirts of London, you can take the underground out to Euston but then switch to the overground to get to Watford Junction (about 40 minutes from central London), then hop off and catch the shuttle bus (every 20 minutes, takes 15 minutes, does have a fee and I cannot remember if they take cards or you need cash.) Make a day for that if you’ve got any hardcore fans with you! They do have family tickets, which can save you a bit. The shop at the end of the tour is HUGE, and if you arrive early you can go in there to browse. You are given a set “tour” time that’s not flexible, but once you get past that initial bit then you are free to explore the rest, which is self guided, until they close. (They said they do have people stay for the entire day and they have to kick them out at closing.) Continue reading “Travel Tips with Kids – London/Harry Potter”

Travel Tips with Kids – Germany (Bavaria)

Because I lived in Ansbach for four years as a kid we focused around that area when we made our visit in 2017, but there’s so much to explore every direction! We rented an AirBnB house in a tiny village that was central to most of the spots we wanted to visit – it was a lovely house and a sweet, friendly little town. There wasn’t a grocery store in town, but you’ll need to rent a car in this area and there are shops in the nearby towns. We spent a few days in three different spots (Heidelberg, Salzburg, Ansbach area) but Bavaria won their hearts so we plan to return there in spring 2019 for some more exploring.

By far the kids’ favorite part was the swimbads, we found one in each place we stayed. Second was the hauptstrasses in the various cities/towns, and stopping to get pretzels and treats at the bakeries. Third was the residences and castles. Here are some links of the various spots they’re saying they loved best:

Ansbach Residence & be sure to visit the Orangerie gardens, too.

Aquella – My local swimbad as a kid!

Nurnburg Castle – Despite living nearby for years, I’ve not actually visited this spot yet!

Wurzburg Residence (I’ve not taken the kids there yet, but I loved it and went several times as a kid and will take them next trip.)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Our kids could happily have spent all day long wandering this town! They loved walking through the walls and market square, and there’s a playground with a great view and good picnic spot just outside the walls.

Berchestgaden Salt Mines – Buy your tickets online in advance! And if you’re coming from Germany you’ll go through the edge of Austria – buy your road pass for the tolls at a gas station in advance or you’ll get a fine as soon as you cross onto the Austrian roads.

Salzburg if you’re already down that far south, it’s a lovely city for walking around and there are spots to picnic in the garden if you’re a Sound of Music Fan. 🙂

Herren Chiemsee Island & Residence – Between the ferry ride, horse drawn carriage ride up to the palace, gorgeous fountains & palace tour, this day was magical!

Family Photos 2018

Oh, the story behind trying to find a photographer here has been long and challenging… but worth it, because we found & fell in love with Magda’s work and love every photo she captured for us. Kit picked the spot (Newstead Abbey) as our family has spent many days happily exploring up there, and it’s gorgeous anytime of year. Here you go… my sweet people. (Click on thumbnails to see the larger images.) If you’re local here’s our delightful photographer, MagdaK.

*Welcome, Welcome!*

Welcome to our little corner of the world! I’m Heidi, I’m married to Kit, we have six little ones keeping us busy ranging in ages from 17 down through 8. They’re adorable and amazing and wonderful!

In 2005 our third child decided to show up four months early at a whopping 22 ounces and give us a good scare. This blog was created to keep family and friends updated through our 4 months in the hospital. You can read a bit about his NICU story here. He started a wish list of places he would like to see and things he would like to do before his eyesight declines further, an anticipated complication due to his early arrival.

Over a couple year stretch of time we began working on that wish list and being blessed in countless ways by friends, family, our community, and complete strangers as Ben tackles this challenge with his typical passion. So thank you, whoever you may be! We’re glad you came by and we welcome your comments and messages. Continue reading “*Welcome, Welcome!*”

Guess What??

webOne year ago when we had the chance to visit England for Ben’s wish trip we did not in our wildest dreams imagine what would come next…

We’ve moved to England!!

Kit’s working in the city of Nottingham (for his same company in Denton) and we’ve got a great house. We’re connecting with some neat home educator groups and making friends and we are so unbelievably excited to share this adventure as a family – and to share it with you! We’ll be posting photos and videos here to keep in touch with friends and family as we’re exploring our new home.

Though we will miss Denton and our loved ones here SO MUCH, and it does feel like our hearts are being stretched between two places. Hopefully they’ll be able to come visit (hint, hint, y’all!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brit-Tex Version

FullSizeRenderI have an american version of this recipe I had to modify when I realized our measuring cups were all in ml which I think is the same as grams? So change as needed to correct for my mistakes.

100 grams caster sugar
300 grams brown sugar
200 grams of softened butter (I do a bit less)

Cream all together and whip for a few minutes then stir in:

2 eggs
15 ml vanilla

In another bowl combine:

200 grams porridge oats
500 grams white flour
5-10 ml bicarbonate of soda (I did a heaping 5 ml spoon)
5 ml salt

Stir dry ingredients into wet, then mix in:

300 grams chocolate chips. More or less, I won’t judge. 😉 If you cannot find chocolate chips (we got them at Costco) then get a couple 100 gram bars of chocolate and chop those up instead.

Scoop onto a silicone baking mat/sprayed cookie sheet and bake at I think mark 4 on a gas oven… we can fit nine cookies per square baking pan, though we are use to doing a dozen on our rectangle pan in our previously big american oven but that’s okay! We’re adapting. Kit says it took 11 minutes at mark 4. Verdict is – they are DELICIOUS! Warm and gooey and the measurements worked out beautifully. Hooray!

Pay it Forward Links

Ben’s chosen some organizations he wanted to support and to pay it forward after all the care he received with his wish list. Here are a couple of the places he’s worked with donating to:

Our Daily Bread is a local program providing meals and other resources to members of our community. We love that it’s local and the kids have been able to bring in canned goods, produce from the garden, and toiletries they collected on some of the trips. For Ben’s birthday this year he asked guests to bring donations for Our Daily Bread instead of presents and then we went over to drop them off in person, and they were so sweet and welcoming.

Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth we learned about as they provided Ben’s cane training, along with information and support for our family. This is something they offer free of charge, and it’s invaluable for anyone with vision challenges to have them as a resource. At a holiday gathering there we were told they had been receiving donations from people who had heard about Ben’s story and wanted to help others – that made Ben SO happy, he teared up. There may be a similar program in your area that could benefit from your contribution!

We hope that gives you some ideas, and there are countless other programs out there making a difference in people’s lives – thank YOU for helping make that difference!!