3 Experiences to Share With Your Kids in Syracuse 

By guest blogger Eathen Smith, as part of the sponsored Hotel Planner campaign.

Syracuse is a well-known family-friendly destination located in Upstate New York. There is so much to discover here. The accessibility of the city is perfect for families with young kids seeking conveniently located hotels near attractions and places to visit. Syracuse has a diverse cultural mix, and families describe the mix of people and general atmosphere as warm and welcoming.

Green spaces and historic architecture complement the people. Children can experience wonder, creativity, learning, and just plain fun in a hassle-free and convenient environment. Experience a taste of what Syracuse has to offer by choosing some family-friendly ways to see the city.

Something Unique for Everyone at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Children have many opportunities to be connected to the wildlife and educational experiences offered by the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Elephants, penguins, tigers, and all kinds of marine life will delight kids of all ages. The zoo offers birthday parties with catering, crafts, games, and admission all included.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo also features many upcoming events such as Under the Sea Day. Ocean themed games and fun activities like a bouncing castle are all part of the fun. Conservation themed events are also held regularly during the year. Members are also offered a number of free or discounted events.

Family Friendly Festival and Events.

There are also many different festivals and events to put on the kid’s to-do list during the calendar year. Syracuse is named the City of Festivals for good reason. Family-friendly events such and the Great New York State Fair include rides, music, livestock competitions, and animals for all ages. The festival runs from the second last week of August through to early September. There are also Greek, Italian, Irish, and Scottish Festivals held yearly. A range of different kid-friendly activities and delicious foods for the whole family can be found at all the festivals mentioned.

Walking With Kid Convenience

Sensational Syracuse is responsible for the maintenance of over 1000 acres of open space including parks, swimming pools, and, ice rinks. For visitors on a tight schedule or budget, it is highly recommended to check out some of the convenient walking tours offered throughout the city.

The Onondaga Historical Association offers a map of the Syracuse Historic Walking Tour. Over 70 historical attractions are shown on the map and tours can be started or finished at any point. This is perfect for just choosing a few sights that are of interest to the children. There are plenty of hotels in Syracuse located in close proximity to the tour. Public transport or a taxi can do the rest.

Why choose Syracuse? It is easy, fun and perfect for all ages. Hotels are plentiful and can be found for every budget making it a convenient destination. It has the perfect mix of free and paid events sure to pique the interest of children of all ages. Festivals, attractions, history, green space, architecture, education, and lots of fun are all a possibility in Syracuse. 

Image via Flickr by vastateparkstaff

Millennial Parents Respond to Mayim Bialik’s “Competitive Moms” Story

My wife and I recently published a video for our YouTube channel for this blog, giving our reaction to Mayim Bialik’s story on People.com, called Mayim Bialik Reveals She “Left in Tears” After First Group Meeting with “Competitive Moms”.

Her story addresses the fact that Millennials live in a version of the world in which so many parents feel the need to compete with one another. This creates an environment in which those who are not “competing” often feel judged by those who are.

In our own video responding to the story, I explained that the real issue with parents who feel the need to compete with others in their parenting style and skills is this:

They are insecure in their identity not only as individuals, but as parents.

It goes back to junior high when I learned this from my mom; that the kids who were most likely to tease others were simply revealing that they were actually more insecure than the kids they were making fun of.

And now as adults, this same concept continues:

The most insecure parents have the biggest need to project an image of themselves as the “better” parents. And sure, social media helps encourage the competition.

“Mirror, mirror, on my Facebook wall, who’s the fairest parent of them all?”

People tend to seek confirmation when they communicate in social media. They are often seeking approval from their peers to confirm that they are cool, they are funny, they are beautiful, they are relevant, and/or they are good parents.

But what if you simply don’t that need confirmation and therefore, you have no reason to compete?

Insecure parents compete with other another, while slightly clueless yet confident parents ignore the competition all together.

In our video, my wife and I explain that none of us parents truly know what we’re doing. We can’t.

I explain that if you are competing with other parents, you are automatically losing that competition. The only way to “win” is not to play at all.

Instead, all we can do is the best we know how and hope it works out in the end. But as we “practice” parenting, the last thing we should worry about is some silly ongoing competition on the best way to parent.

I explain that while all of us are clueless to some degree, we can still show we are secure in our own identity as individuals and as parents by simply accepting that our own parenting methods are no better than others’, and therefore, we have no reason to seek confirmation or approval in a competition, or to judge other parents for making different decisions than us.

For example, my wife and I do not spank our children. We discipline them, but we have never physically struck them. That’s the culture in our household.

However, that doesn’t mean we have any interest in judging parents who do spank their children. After all, my wife and I are in the minority in this.

Similarly, we have no desire to judge other parents for what they let their children eat. Yes, I am a vegan and my wife and children are vegetarians. But that doesn’t mean we believe everyone should do as we do. We simply don’t care.

Let other people live their own lives. As for us, we’ll live our own. It’s that simple.

When you are focused on doing what is right for your own family, how can you have time to worry about whether other parents are doing it better or worse than you?

My wife and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We never will. We automatically disqualify ourselves from the competition.

You’re more than welcome to join us.

Dear Holly: Bear Hugs with Papa at Thanksgiving

1 year, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

In the midst of the four days we spent at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama for Thanksgiving, one afternoon you decided to just lay low with Papa on the couch.

You had discovered the giant D.A.R.E. teddy bear wearing a Domino’s Pizza uniform. (Your Aunt Dana won it back in the early 1990s when she was the winner of a coloring contest.)

The bear hugs started with Papa pretending the bear was attacking you, but it didn’t take long before the look on your face gave it away: You were almost tired enough to take a nap.

So after one of the many times the bear jumped on top of you, smashing you in between Papa and the bear, you decided just to take advantage of the situation by cuddling up to both of them.

I actually started wondering if at some point you would just fall asleep, resting your little head on the giant bear’s shoulder. For anyone walking by you in the living room, there was an unspoken level of respect:

Just let Holly hang out with Papa and the bear.

Had this all happened a little earlier in the day, it could have been a 20 minute wrestling match with the bear; making its way all the way to the floor.

But no.

Your vibes attract your tribe. Therefore, you defeated the giant bear though cuddles alone.

Sometimes the best way to win a fight is with a big hug.

The bear was no match for your sweetness.

And not only did you win the fight against the bear, but you also won the fight against giving me a reason to take you upstairs for your afternoon nap.

Enough chill time was had with Papa and the bear, so I just let serve as your 2nd nap that day.

Love,

Daddy

 

2017 Toyota 4Runner 3rd Seat Space and Car Seat Placement (Videos Included)

This past weekend while my parents were in town, everyone was able to comfortably ride in the 2017 Toyota 4Runner: that’s 4 adults and 2 kids- we even had room for one more person!

I drove, my wife sat shotgun, our daughter sat behind me, my mom sat next to her (with an empty seat between), and then in the 3rd row seat, there was our son and my 5’ 11” dad.

So to be clear, there are 2 seats in the front row, 3 in the 2nd row, and 2 in the back; which totals 7 seats.

If you had to, you could actually fit 4 kids’ car seats in the 2017 Toyota 4Runner; parents up front, younger kids in the 2nd row, and older kids in the 3rd row.

Let’s talk a little bit more about the space in the 3rd row. I’m 5’ 9” and my dad is 2 inches taller than me. We both, at times, rode in the 3rd row seat.

 

We were just riding around town so it wasn’t a big deal. But obviously, it’s not something an average-sized full grown adult would want to do for a long ride-trip.

It’s that paradox where if I sat up straight in the 3rd row seat, I would have to sort of tilt my head forward, but if I slouched down in the seat, my knees would hit the back of the 2nd row seat.

 

However, I would imagine that for a long road trip, the largest riders would likely also most likely be the ones driving or riding shotgun to begin with.

Obviously though, a 5’ 2” female adult would likely have no issues whatsoever fitting in the 3rd row seat.

 

I am so grateful that I just happened to have the 2017 Toyota 4Runner the weekend my parents were in town. It was no problem hauling everyone around in it.

Thanks for checking out my blog today!

What Kind of Parental Stereotype are You? (5 Ways I’m Not a “Normal” Dad)

What Kind of Parental Stereotype are You? (5 Ways I’m Not a “Normal” Dad)

This past weekend I took my dad and my son to see Star Trek Beyond. It was a really fun and exciting movie to us to see together.

While I was there at the theater, I noticed the promotional posters for the R-rated Bad Moms. I found them to be interesting, as they stereotyped several types of “bad” moms.

What Kind of Parental Stereotype are You? (5 Ways I’m Not a “Normal” Dad)

They included… It got me thinking, “How would I be stereotyped as parent, by the outside world?”

What Kind of Parental Stereotype are You? (5 Ways I’m Not a “Normal” Dad)

For me, it’s simple: I would likely be “The Token Quirky Daddy Blogger.”

In so many ways, I live on the fringes of what our American pop culture deems as normal for a dad; as my wife and I raise our Kindergartner son and 3 month-old daughter:

  1. I’m not a sports fan. (However, I’m very active in exploring and hiking with my son.)

2. I don’t personally believe in spanking as an effective method of discipline.

3. I’m a vegan who raises my children as vegetarians.

4. I’m a faithful Dave Ramsey follower, who will surely ultimately brainwash my kids accordingly.

5. I get free stuff from companies by blogging about their products.

While that last one may not seem so strange, I have to recognize that the average dad out there can’t just inform major car companies he’s going on a road trip and be sent a brand-new car for that week with a full tank of gas to drive to the family events he’s been given complimentary passes to because he will also be promoting them on his blog as well.

So therefore, I accept my label: I’m the token quirky daddy blogger.

What Kind of Fun Parental Stereotype are You? (5 Ways I’m Not a “Normal” Dad)

If you ever see me out in public with my family, you’ll see a $600 camera looped around my wrist, as I take pictures of my own family like I’m the paparazzi.

That’s simply what’s normal for me. I’ll never be able to go on vacation, or even to Whole Foods Market, without taking an array of photos, assuming a blog post will develop out of the event.

So that’s my fun parental stereotype, what’s yours?

Dear Holly: I Particularly Love Your Ears

1 week.

Dear Holly: I Particularly Love Your Ears

Dear Holly,

Before you or your brother were born, I always thought all babies basically look the same. And for the most part, I probably still do believe that.

But as for you, there is one certain feature I have noticed from the very beginning that I just really find adorable: your ears.

Mommy noticed this too. The fold at the top of your ears are 90 degree angles. That’s not something we’ve ever seen before.

I love your ears.

No matter how old you are, you’ll always have your unique ears. I will always adore them on you.

Your eyes still have that bluish tint in them that newborns have, but it looks like it’s only to cover up brown eyes for the time being. I think in the next couple of months, it will be obvious to the world that you have brown eyes like Mommy and me, and unlike your brother Jack who has blue eyes.

Dear Holly: I Particularly Love Your Ears

As for your hair color, I’m seeing what appears to possibly be (at the moment) a sort of strawberry blonde color. I definitely see hints of red, but then your eyebrows are clearly platinum blonde.

Obviously, your brother Jack had blonde hair for most of his life. Only recently has it truly started looking brown, though he still has some platinum blonde in his bangs when I spike his hair up.

Speaking of Jack, you actually look a lot like he did when he was a newborn. I predict that the two of you will resemble each other.

I am enjoying seeing you in your girly clothes that we’ve had ready for you all these months. You are such a beautiful and precious little girl.

And you are particularly fun to hold. You are so mellow and so cute, that time just flies by before I realize it.

Love,

Daddy

j8

Dear Holly: You are a “Fearfully Made” Gift from God

1 week.

Dear Holly: You are a “Fearfully Made” Gift from God

Dear Holly,

When you were born just a week and a half ago and I got to hold you for the first time, one of the immediate thoughts in my mind was this: How could anyone hold a perfect, innocent newborn and not sense God?

I know you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. You are not simply the aftermath of a cosmic explosion billions of years ago.

I know God wove you in Mommy’s womb. You are more than just science.

You were created, beyond just your parents.

To be “fearfully made” means that we respectfully recognize God’s achievement and creativity in your existence.

As your parents, we could never simply say, “This is our child. We brought her into this world.”  It will always be much more complex than that, because God knew you before He ever wove you in the womb.

We recognize that children are a heritage from the Lord. You being here in this world is so much more epic than a Mommy and a Daddy deciding to have a baby.

Now, imagine this. You were born into a family where this all information will be intertwined into our family’s lifestyle and culture.

Dear Holly: You are a “Fearfully Made” Gift from God

Knowing that this same God who knew you before Mommy and I ever did, it’s only logical that our family is to serve Him through our lives, something we can’t do without loving our neighbors as ourselves.

And how can we love our neighbors, or even ourselves, if we can’t love our own family?

What that means to me as your Daddy is that I’ve got a particular responsibility to teach you to love. Of course, there is no better way to teach you to love than to demonstrate love to you and in front of you, along with Mommy and your brother.

Struggle will always be present in life, but it’s a matter of how we choose to deal with it as it comes. We as a family can make a daily choice to be more than conquerors, though God’s love.

So I will lead our family to choose to be victors, instead of victims. We will make a choice to do what is often unnatural to the human experience, in attempt to love each other and to love God.

Here’s a little cheat sheet I crafted to remind me:

Victors versus Victims

Victor: compliments others

Victim: criticizes others

Victor: embraces change

Victim: fears change

Victor: forgives others

Victim: holds grudges

Victor: always learning

Victim: thinks they know everything

Victor: accepts responsibility for their failures

Victim: blames others for their failures

Victor: has a sense of gratitude

Victim: has a sense of entitlement

Victor: sets goals and develops plans

Victim: never sets goals

We will be conscious of these things. We will be conscious of our responsibility to love and serve the God who fearfully and wonderfully made us.

This is the family you were born into…

We are a family where we will choose for love to be patient and kind, where it does not envy or boast, where it is not proud or rude or self-seeking or easily angered.

We will choose a love that keeps no record of wrongs. We will choose a love that not to delight in evil.

We will choose a love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Because if we choose this kind of love, we will choose a love that never fails.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You are a “Fearfully Made” Gift from God