The meeting of a three-year-old, a cat and a goldfish pond started Taking the Kids.
Eileen Ogintz' three-year-old son Matt pushed the hapless kitty into the pond at a Wisconsin cottage her family had rented for the weekend. "I thought the kitty wanted to go swimming," Matt explained.
The furious owner insisted they pack up and leave immediately. The embarrassed parents drove home three hours to Chicago in a downpour.
Eileen Ogintz was a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune then, covering news stories around the country. The travel editor, hearing her tale of woe about the cat and the goldfish pond, encouraged her to write a story about the trials of traveling with children. That story led to others.
"We realized there were a lot of people like me, parents who wanted help planning trips now that they had kids."
The award-winning syndicated column "Taking the Kids" grew out of those stories. Ogintz left the Tribune, after 14 years as a reporter, national correspondent and feature writer, to spend more time with her three young children and to launch the column nationally. The Taking the Kids series of travel guides for children, published by HarperCollins West, has followed.
"More people than ever are taking their kids places, whether they're going to Grandma's or a museum, to Disney World or on a business trip," Ogintz said. "Their time and budgets are tight. I give them the help they need to make the most of their family time.
Taking the Kids now appears in more than 50 major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News and the Oregonian (Portland.) The column won a 1994 national Clarion Award from Women in Communications, Inc. and appears on www.familytravelnetwork.com Ogintz is also a regular contributor to the new family travel section launched by Expedia, the Web's most trafficked travel site (www.expedia.com/daily/family).
Ogintz has traveled with her husband and kids across the country and abroad-from London to Disney World to Disneyland-skiing in Colorado to fishing in Minnesota, soaking up history in Washington, D.C. to sightseeing in Las Vegas, New York and Yellowstone National Park.
The fifth book of the Taking the Kids series, "A Kid's Guide to Vacation Fun in the Rocky Mountains," was just published, as well as a book for parents, "Are We There Yet?"-on taking the kids and surviving. She was the recipient of a 1995 and 1996 Parents' Choice honor for the series, which also highlights the Southwest, Southern California, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.
Ogintz, who holds a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri, is a 20-year veteran of the newspaper business, reporting for The Anniston Star, The Record in Hackensack, N.J., and Des Moines Register as well as the Chicago Tribune, where she created the paper's family-issues beat. Today, she is regular contributor to numerous national publications, and has appeared on such television programs as "48 Hours," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America" and "Oprah." She created a course on the changing American family at Northwestern University and consults on work/family issues.
From their home in Connecticut, Ogintz travels with her husband, an executive in financial services, and their three children, Matt, Reggie and Melanie, who serve-not always graciously-as Taking the Kids' special team of experts.