Ten Ways I Show My Kids I Love Them

With Valentine’s Day around the corner we are thinking of showing our loved ones we care. Prior to having kids my husband and I went BIG on Valentine’s Day with special dates, dinners, and surprises. We agreed we had to, after all our last name is Amor.

Now with two little boys we try everyday to show we care and love them. As an attachment parent I truly believe in building a strong relationship and foundation of family is the essence of building self-esteem in kids. I want my boys to know that I have their back no matter what, and that I truly have their best interests at heart. Home should be a safe, nurturing space where my boys can relax and put their cares away.

1. I try to make one on one time with each boy. For my oldest it’s swim lessons every week, for my little guy it’s cuddling at bedtime.

2. I have dinner with them every day. We sit down at eat together.

3. I ask them about their day and listen to their answers.

4. I try to make time to do activities every day after school with them-time at the park or Gymboree, cooking together, cuddle and read a story before bed.

5. I tell them how much I love them and how special they are to me.

6. I give them small treats-a donut after swim, a printed coloring sheet I brought from work.

7. I apologize-if I lose my temper or make a mistake I say I’m sorry and talk to them about it.

8. I let them make choices:jeans or sweatpants; hotdogs or pizza for dinner-it shoes I respect their decisions and value them.

9. I start my day with a cuddle. When we first wake up we put on a cartoon and cuddle for 20 minutes. It’s the best way to start the day.

10. I try to challenge them at their own pace. Kids need to grow and develop but I don’t want my boys to have anxiety about new experiences. I recently weaned my youngest-it took 9 months. It felt like it never would happen! My oldest weaned in a matter of weeks! Different strokes for different folks.

Hug your littles and let them know they’re special this Valentine’s Day! Share how you make your kiddos feel loved in the comments below.

Halloween with My Petite Picassos

Ok, I know this is late, but better late than never right?  Last weekend I was sick in bed and I didn’t get a chance to share my photos from our Halloween.  We celebrated Halloween by going to the Spooktacular Extravaganza at Spring Mountain Ranch, visiting the haunted Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, and trick or treating at Downtown Summerlin.

Spring Mountain Ranch’s Spooktacular Extravaganza had hayrides, crafts, face painting, and outdoorsey fun for little kids.  Ben got his face painted and made a leaf pendant.  Adam rode a toy bull that the boys later practiced their roping and lassoing skills on.  They boys also did pumpkin bowling and we took a little walk around the property which combines a beautiful meadow with Nevada’s red rocks.h 3

At Opportunity Village we enjoyed touring the haunted Magical Forest (not scary for littles), riding rides, and taking the train ride through the Magical Forest.  Opportunity Village also has a large Christmas display and winter activities for families.  The entry fee is completely a donation to Opportunity village which assists disabled men and women to live fulfilling lives.

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Lastly we had fun with our Paw Patrol pups Trick or Treating at Downtown Summerlin.  The boys loved the police car trunk or treat there and we left after watching Charlie Brown on the green lawn.

How was your Halloween?  What did you do?

 

Pumpkin Patch at McKee Ranch

This past weekend we had good old fashioned family fun at McKee Ranch in Las Vegas.  They have an annual​​ pumpkin patch where family’s pay $20-which goes to the care of the rescued farm animals, and in return receive entry to the ranch, carrots to feed the animals, a free pumpkin, and a free hayride.

Pumpkin Patch Fun at McKee Ranch with My Petite Picassos!

McKee Ranch has horses to feed, pony rides, face painting, a train ride, pumpkin painting, cookie decorating and an area for LaLa Photography to take photos of your littles on the ranch.

My boys loved riding the rocking horses like cowboys, doing the corn maze, and taking the train ride.  I had fun taking photos on my own, however last year I did do the LaLa Photography Photos and I’ll share them below-they are gorgeous!  It’s a great way to spend a fall day with your family in Las Vegas.

 

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Here are my photos from last year with La La Photography.

 

McKee Ranch is located at: 8982 Dean Martin Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89139.  They have Christmas at the ranch coming up after Thanksgiving so be sure to check it out!

 

Family Travel Journal: Israel 2017 Photos


For the last two years my family has travelled to Israel to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays.  The High Holidays are four holidays separated by a week that start off the Jewish New Year every year.  My husband is originally from a small village in the north of Israel near Haifa.  While we go and visit his family we also travel around the country to visit friends and get a little vacation in.  This year we visitedTel Aviv for four blissful beach days, Jerusalem, En Acre Nature Preserve, and Akko.  My favorite places to visit on this trip this year were Tel Aviv and Akko.  

In Tel Aviv you have the big city, similar to LA with a beach vibe.  Lots of pubs, boutiques, cafés, and art galleries. In Akko you see ancient architecture, the sea, and the souk.  I love visiting markets and we actually visited one of the oldest markets in Jerusalem, that my great great grandfather lives near when he immigrated to Israel at the turn of the century-Maheneh Yehuda.  I recommend if you go there to purchase and sample some of the halva for sale.  It’s incredible!

As we traveled through Israel I got to sample some of my favorite is really cuisine: bourekas, shakshuka, and pita with zaatar.  Bourekas at savory pastries filled with cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, or meet. They are served with hard-boiled eggs and pickles. Shakshuka is a dish made of eggs basted in a spices tomato sauce-this year I tried “purple” shakshuka that was made with beets. It was accompanied by tahini, fresh bread, and vegetables. Zaatar is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel they mix the spices with olive oil and then brush it on to peters, roasting the pitas.

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Family Travel Diary: Haifa Israel

My husband’s family is from a village in Northern Israel close to the city of Haifa.  We have been spending our time here for the last week celebrating the holidays Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  Along with visiting friends and family we have travelled around a bit.  We went hiking in a nature preserve, walked the beach boardwalk with iced coffees in hand, and went to the local zoo.  Here are some of our photos below.  

En Afek Nature Preserve


En Afek Nature Preserve was a short, easy trek in one of Israel’s protected preserves.  The boys loved climbing the stairs inside of a building that dated back to 1100 AD and later housed the British Army during their occupation.  There were lily ponds, catfish, and a winding, long boardwalk.  The boardwalk was sturdy but didn’t have rails so the boys had to be extra careful. Adam went on his Aba’s shoulders and Ben held my hands.  

Zoo in Qiryat Motzkin


The zoo in Qiryat Motzkin houses elephants, gorillas, and giraffes.  There’s also a playground and a carnival ride area-however that area was closed during our visit.  It’s a small zoo compared to the big, American zoos-it can be completed in an afternoon.  However, there is a nice variety of animals.  

Beach Boardwalk

Israel has a long coastline filled with beaches and Israelis know how to have an incredible beach experience.  We stopped at a beach in the Qiryat for a walk on the boardwalk , people watching, and iced coffees.  The Mediterranean Sea was full of quiet waves.  We watched kite surfers and sail boats.  It was a great start to the day!  

Have you been to Israel with small children?  Where did you go?  What did you do?  Type your recommendations in the comments below.  

Next week we’ll be in Tel Aviv and possibly a quick stop in Jerusalem, then we fly home to Las Vegas-where are thoughts have been through this difficult time.

Our Family Vacation to Kos Island, Greece!

On our second night in Israel my husband asked me if I would like to go to Greece for a week-of course I jumped at the opportunity! The last minute deals from Israel are inexpensive-and very family friendly.


Tigkaki Beach


We stayed at Peredise Family Resort near Kos Town.  This resort is great for families with little kids. We had a suite with a small pool.  There is a large resort style pool on the other side of the property along with a baby room, indoor playroom, playground, kiddie pool, and spa.  We had a free breakfast and dinner buffet included with our room -and the food was fabulous!  We looked forward to each meal-every night had a different theme, and lots of vegetarian options. 

We mostly beach hopped: Tigkaki our first day, Paradise Beach the second day, and a small private beach in Kefalos our last day.  Paradise Beach was our favorite-gorgeous sand and perfect water-hardly any rocks.  There was a restaurant and bar next to the beach that we ordered ice cream and coffee from.  The kids enjoyed swimming, building sand castles, and paddle boarding with their dad.

Back in Kos Town we walked around the pier, Kos Castle, and took a tour on a mini train.  The kids adored every second on the mini train and I recommend it for the first day of the trip as it gives you an overview of the town.  We enjoyed coffee and milk shakes in the town center and shipped for souvenirs in the market.  

What I enjoyed most about the trip was our bonding time with our kids.  Watching the kids get some much needed time with their dad who works long hours as a business owner providing for our family was so special.  I love traveling-the magic of it-the closeness it creates in families.  

Tips on Traveling with Jet Lagged Toddlers

This post is completely about what’s happening in my life right now.  We travelled by plane, train, and automobile to Israel this week in a trip that took 20 hours total.  That’s enough to throw off an adults internal clock-so for sure it’s enough to throw off a toddler’s internal clock.

Honestly, last year our trip was easier when it came to jetlagged. I was traveling with a nine month old baby who still slept quite a bit during the day, and my two-year-old was a terrific sleeper.  The good news is that two-year-old is now still a great sleeper at three years old. However that nine-month-old who used to sleep all the time, he is not doing so great this time around.  Leading up to our trip there were often times he would wake up for a couple hours at home in the middle of the night, wanting something to eat and drink. Now, it’s been five nights in Israel and he is still waking up for five hours at night!  So how do we cope?

1. Take turns napping with your partner.  Right now my husband is taking a much needed power nap, and my 20 month old is taking a mini nap.  He’s exhausted but I want him to sleep through the night so I will wake him up for dinner.  Then he and his father can hang out together until they get tired later on.  I can rest until they need me to help with bedtime later on.

2. Consider children’s melatonin for toddlers and kids.  My friend recently moved with her daughter to the other side of the world and recommended the Zarbee’s brand.  I didn’t bring melatonin with me, and I doubt they have it for children in the pharmacy here (which is something to consider when you travel to other countries-medicines are different). I have second guessed my decision not to purchase some for our trip.

3. Try to keep the first few days easy on your trip so you can get ample sleep.  We travel for a month at a time so it makes it easier for us to take our time to transition. Nap during the day as needed.

4.  Set up your child for sleep success.  Cut day napping shorter, bring favorite blankets and lovies, and play light music when it’s sleepy time.

5.  Allow a couple of days to adjust back after your trip.  Yes we had jet lag both ways on our trip last year.  It took 3 days to catch up.

Remember that no matter what the age traveling opens our eyes and senses to the world. Your child will be so lucky to see and experience the world with you, and you will treasure these memories for a lifetime! Don’t let fear of flying with your child or jet lag keep you from making memories.

Tie-Dyeing Tips for Large Groups


This week at camp my boys tie-dyed for the first time. Growing up this was one of my favorite camp activities! I attended summer camp from the time I was five until I was 15, and even after that I was a counselor.  So seeing my little boys making their tie-dyed napkins at camp was definitely nostalgic for me.

In the past as an art teacher I have done tie-dying for field day. I did it with all 850 of my students! So this advice is for teachers or group leaders that are doing a tie-dye project with a large amount of kids.  I hope these tips and tricks make it easier for you!

  1. Figure out where your T-shirts are going to come from. They need to be white T-shirts. Either the kids can bring them from home or see if there is a budget for these. The PTA might be able to come up with some money for it especially if it’s going to be a huge order of 500+ T-shirts.
  2. There are all kinds of dyesavailable. I recommend buying dye in large bottles rather than small spray kits.  I used old-fashioned RIT dye from the corner market and it worked perfect!
  3. For sizing T-shirts the P.E. teachers held up T-shirt samples to each student as they did attendance and wrote down the size before ordering. This was a lot more efficient than waiting for a written slip from home.  
  4. Have large buckets, rubber bands, and rubber gloves ready.
  5. You’ll need either a tarp or deep sink to place your buckets of dye.  Another option if the weather is good is to work outside on grass.  
  6. Have samples of different tie-dye techniques ready to show the kids.  This is also really good opportunity to practice these techniques!
  7. Have the kids rubber band and fold their T-shirts on their own or with help from an adult.
  8. Place the T-shirts in the dye bath of their choice and once the dye has settled in put the T-shirts in plastic bags with the kids name on it to take home.
  9. Another option is to have the T-shirts placed in plastic bags per class and give them to the classroom teacher to allow dry or wash.
  10. With our T-shirts we used five colors of dye, however red white and blue works great or school colors is another option.  Having limited colors can simplify and streamline the process. I do not recommend asking students to choose which color of dye they want-if you’re working with a huge group like I did that would take a lot of time!

I hope these ideas will inspire other art teachers and group leaders to have fun tie-dying with their students. My students always looked forward to this every year! They wore the T-shirts throughout the year, and they were always excited leading up to this project.  Below I have included some pins for more tips, techniques, and inspiration!



Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

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I think the biggest challenge of traveling with 2 tots is packing.  For a month in Israel I started packing 2 weeks before.  For our recent trip to Sedona which was 8 days I began packing 1 week prior.  After Israel, which was a long trip in the fall when the weather could turn either way, I learned a lot about packing.

1. Ziplock baggies make great organizers. For the trip to Israel I put each of Adam’s tiny baby outfits in a Ziplock bag.  The whole outfit-onesie, pants, socks, a diaper, and a long sleeve top.  I put all of his pajamas in one bag, all of Ben’s socks in a bag, and all of his sweaters and jackets in another bag.

2.  The rule of halves.  If you’re destination has affordable or free laundry use the rule of halves.  Divide the number of days you’ll be away in half and pack as many shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  Exception to the rule: take seasonal weather changes or frequent outfit changes into account.  For example, I figured for our recent trip to Sedona for 8 days the weather would be cool in the morning and at night, Adam typically needs an outfit change after breakfast-so I packed 4 warm shirts and 4 sets of pants for the morning to wear and 4 t-shirts and 4 shorts for midday.  I did laundry midway through our trip.

3. 2 pairs of shoes is all you need.  A dressy pair and sneakers.  A waterproof sandal and a pair of Toms.  Basically one special pair and an everyday pair of shoes. Don’t forget to pack them in your Ziploc.

4.  Take advantage of 1 piece dressing.  Rompers and dresses are prefect for diaper bags or travel and take up less space than separates.

5. Pack toys in backpacks.  Your toddler can carry on his/her own backpack with small books and manipulatives.  They feel special and grown up while you save space in your bag.

6. Don’t bring the kitchen sink! I had diapers, wipes, toys, bedding, and books waiting for us at my in -laws. They also had car seats and booster seats waiting for us.  My parents in New York had toys and diapers waiting for us at their house.  All of these items were borrowed from neighbors.  In Israel they do have rental baby gear for tourists so consider that when traveling abroad.  In San Francisco we had a rental car and car seats were rented too.

7.  Go light on the baby gear.  Umbrella strollers, sleeping bags, baby wearing are a lot easier than a pack and play or heavy stroller to pack and lug.

8.  Use a backpack diaper bag.  You can easily babywear in front and carry a backpack at the same time.

9.  Minimize your own packing. I gave up make-up since staying and did not pack a stitch of it to take to Israel.  I can use hair conditioner also as an in shower body lotion.  Little tricks like this save space for the kids stuff.

Stroller hooks, stroller carrying bags with straps, and a basic first aid kit are important to have on hand as well.  I always take Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DoTerra oils, and teething toys with us.  I have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes downloaded on my Ipad and YouTube Kids on my IPhone to entertain.  We do a mix of busy bags and IPad time when we’re flying.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is one of the most brave things I’ve done.  I used to be very nervous about it and dread it, but now my boys are seasoned, world travelers.  I feel much more comfortable now that we have logged some miles and memories taking them on future trips.  What packing tips do you have for a first time traveling mom or dad?  What can’t you live without on trips to keep your kids entertained?  Please share in the comments below.