Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

packing

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.

Parenting Tips for Two Under Two

2 underSo when I found out I was pregnant with Adam, Ben was only nine months. To say I was in shock would not even begin to describe the feelings I had. With Ben we had tried for three years to get pregnant and ended up being successful through IVF. Adam was truly a surprise!

A couple hours after I found out I was pregnant with Adam it dawned on me how young Ben would still be when Adam would be born.  He would still be in diapers, he would be walking, but he still would not be completely verbal. He would not understand why mommy is with this little baby instead of him sometimes and that concerned me.

Being a mom of two under two is truly mommy boot camp. You are changing two sets of diapers, you need a really good double stroller, and you have two little babies who depend on you 24 hours a day.  Just remember it will get easier. Here are some tips that worked for me while I had two under two.

1.  Figure out how you will transport your children to and from your vehicle before you try it. I started teaching Ben to walk to the car and back to the house on his own in my late stages of pregnancy.  We don’t have a lot of traffic on my street and it was a good start for him to learn how to behave in a street or parking lot. Now he’s learning how to behave in a street and the parking lot at 2 1/2.  Most of the time what I would do is have Adam in the baby carrier leaving the house and hold Ben’s hand or have him walk beside me to the car. I would put Ben in the car first and have Adam in the yard in his baby carrier.  I figured since Ben was more mobile it would be better for him to be the first put in and the last to be taken out of the vehicle.  If you live in the city with a lot of traffic this might not work for you.

2.  Have a really organized diapering station. I bought a set of three plastic drawers that I keep next to my pack and play/changing table.  I used ABC organization: the top drawer are Adam’s diapers, the second drawer were Ben’s diapers, and the last drawer were cloth diapers.

3.  Use nap time effectively. I understand if you need to rest and sleep. If not, I recommend getting your housework done, starting dinner, and paying bills.  A newborn sleeps a lot so you can use some of that time to have one on one with your toddler.

4.  Create a laundry schedule. I have had the same laundry schedule for the last year. I start doing all my loads of wash and folding them on Thursday through Saturday morning. Then over the weekend when my husband is home he can keep an eye on the kids while I put away all of our laundry.

5.  Organize a system for hand-me-down clothing. I use large plastic totes that I label with Ben’s clothing size to store for Adam.  When Adam’s done with them I have a friend I gift them to.

6.  Don’t be afraid to enlist the village’s help.  Friends and family can help you load your kids in the car, keep an eye on your baby while you chase your toddler around the playground, and give you a minute with your significant other.

7.  Streamline bath time.  Whether your kids bathe together or hop in with you try to cut down on the time bathing each individual.  Another option is a bathing schedule as to who gets a bath each day.

8.  Practice self care.  Seems impossible right?  I can’t say that I was very good at or am very good at putting myself first.  Taking a stroller walk to get back into shape, waking up 10 minutes earlier to meditate in bed before the kids wake up, or just NOT wearing yoga pants can qualify as self care when you’re a mom of two under two.

Whether you have twins or two littles months a year apart being a mom of two under is tricky.  I’m on the other side of two with Ben and Adam’s walking-now I’m onto two toddlers!  If you have any advice on handling two under two or two toddlers please share in the comments below!  I would love to hear from you!

How to Talk to Your Toddler About Art

This post was truly 15 years in the making.  I have taught children ages 0-18 art since I was practically a teenager.  In my experience, the younger kids are exposed to art and included in discussions about art, the more comfortable they are as they grow up.  Looking at and discussing art can create more visually observant children and expand their vocabulary as they are in a new place having a new experience, therefore, learning new words.  How often do you discuss texture and negative space at home?  Probably never right?  At the art museum they are exposed to these concepts and their minds are broadened.

1. Start with the Elements of Art-texture, shape, color, form, line, space, and value. A 2 year old who is learning colors and shapes can repeat the names of colors and maybe recognize shapes.  “Is that a circle or a square”? ” What color is that star?”  An older child-around 4 or 5 can perceive texture-“How do you think the painting would feel if you could touch it?  Bumpy or smooth?”  That can lead to a conversation about paint application.

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2. Discuss the subject matter of the artwork.  Kids might see something familiar such as a puppy (portrait) or an apple (still life).  A young child can understand that a portrait is a picture of a person or animal.  Keep it simple.  A landscape is a picture of a place.  Then have the child point out all the landscapes in the Impressionist wing or the portraits in the photography gallery.

3.  Show the child how to read the placards next to each work of art-even if they can’t read.  Tell them who the artist of the work was/is, where they were born, and the title of the work. From that information alone a 3 or 4 year old can have a lengthy discussion about a work of art. Ask them why they think the artist titled the artwork with that particular title or, for example, tie in the fact that the artist is from Italy to other facts about Italy they already know.

4.  Don’t forget that looking at art can be a character building experience.  Don’t be shy to discuss the emotions behind a work of art.  Discuss how the use of blue in Picasso’s painting is supposed to convey sadness or the strong, swirling lines in Van Gogh’s Starry Night show his loneliness.  This can empower your child to feel more open with discussing their feelings with you and teach children that it’s best to look for a positive outlet to express their emotions.

Art is all around us-it’s in advertising, the clothes we wear, the homes we buy.  Everything around us was created by someone and we choose what messages we are sending to the world in our aesthetic response.  Conversations about art give children a better grasp on the messages they are being sent and will send out in the future.  Don’t be afraid to take littles to a gallery or a museum.  My last tip is to start small with a local gallery or a museum that has kids programming, to keep their interest throughout the experience.

Breastfeeding Gear that I Love!

In my previous post I gave tips on breastfeeding for working moms, stay at home moms, and work at home moms.  I have recently nursed two babies in all 3 situations and have a lot of opinions about what works and what doesn’t.

breastfeeding gear

You might think it’s strange that a woman needs gear to breastfeed.  Duh, don’t I have all the gear I need?  Short answer is no, especially if I’m a working pumping mom, which takes me to my first item:

  1. Medela Pump in Style was my pump, still is, although I hardly use it anymore (I work at home now).  Now it’s not a hospital grade pump, but I still managed to feed two babies and work using this.  It comes with a black tote bag that has plenty of room for bottles, bottle wipes, and a nursing cover.  It has out pocket for your cell and keys.  It’s awesome for discreetly pumping at work. It’s also affordable- I found one on Amazon for only $204.
  2. Medela Quick Clean Pump Wipes were awesome for quickly cleaning up my pump parts at work.  When I got home I would hand wash or dishwasher clean (top rack only) my bottles, but at work I wiped down everything with these.  On Amazon you can order different quantities, I used to buy a 6 pack and it would last me 2 months.
  3. Milkmaid Goods Ponchos are my go to nursing covers.  They’re stylish enough to wear out and about, but stretchy and light enough to wear over my baby in the Las Vegas summer while nursing out and about.  I really love their products.  I cannot say enough.  Milkmaid Goods has their own site, but if you’re an Etsy addict they also have a shop on Etsy.
  4. Dr. Brown’s Bottles are the only bottles I used.  Yes, bottles for breastfeeding my pumped milk in.  They have these ventilator straws that keep extra air from entering your baby as he or she suckles.  This way they get far less gas.  I used to buy mine at Babies R’Us, but you can also pick them up at Wamart and Target.
  5. Jessica Simpson Clip Down Shelf Bra Nursing Camis are the best nursing cami.  Very well made and attractive.  They give great support and are convenient for a nursing mom to wear to bed, with sweats, under a cardigan, or a wrap dress.  I still wear them all the time.  Definitely worth the extra couple bucks.  I purchased mine at Motherhood Maternity.

If you’re a new mom an unsure what to buy for nursing or pumping these items will definitely assist you.  I’ll be writing more about my experiences as a working mom, stay at home mom, and work at home mom in the future.  I realize my experience is unique as I have been all three and I would like to pass on any wisdom I have on the topic to my readers and moms.

Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom and the Stay at Home Mom 

This is a linked post.  Beautifully Imperfect Mama is writing a whole series of posts on breastfeeding-you can check them out at https://beautifullyimperfectmama.wordpress.com.  I think it’s really important for moms to get different perspectives on breastfeeding since there are so many experiences.  I have had two very different experiences with breastfeeding my sons and I’m sharing them here in this post.  Since becoming a mom two and a half years ago I have been a full-time working mom, a stay at home mom, and now I am at work at home mom. I have nursed my sons through all of these situations. If you are planning on nursing my tips might be helpful for you.  This is mom to mom advice, I am not a lactation consultant or a doctor. I’m just speaking from my personal experience.

breastfeeding
Breastfeeding while working I found to be much more challenging than being a stay at home mom and nursing. However, with that being said,  I was successful enough to breast-feed until Ben was a year old and I was already three months pregnant with Adam.  So do not despair!  You can work and have an excellent breast-feeding relationship with your baby.   My biggest challenges were finding a place to pump, having to pump frequently, keeping up my milk supply, and the amount of time I spent pumping.  According to the current legislation women are supposed to have a place to pump and be able to pump at their job.  I was able to pump at my job, and have some privacy.   I recommend if you’re going to go back to work that you speak with one of your supervisors about a time and place to pump.  I did via email.  I stated the time of day, the length of time I would be unavailable for, and where I would be pumping.  I also let the office staff know.  Full disclosure, despite all of this communication that I sent out, I did have the occasional time when somebody would disregard the note on the door and allowed themselves in.  I used a nursing poncho over the pump just in case of this.  I took a cooler with me every single day to put all of my bottles.  I hated cleaning all the bottles every single night so  if you’re going to be pumping two sessions within just a couple hours of each other you can leave your small bottles of milk covered in your desk and then take them out and finish pumping in to them if they’re only half full.   I also recommend having a lot of bottles with covers on them. You’ll need larger bottles the longer you pump. The little tubes that they give you in hospital are not going to suffice when your baby is six months old and nursing. So make sure that you purchased lots of bottles with caps.  To keep up my supply I had to pump frequently. I pumped on my lunch breaks, I pumped in the morning when I first got to work before my meetings, and I pumped during my preparatory time.  I pumped 3 to 4 times a day at my job site, and I also pumped four times at home.  That was my schedule when I was pumping 8 ounce bottles for a seven-month-old. When I returned to work after having Adam, he was my second baby, so I had a stronger supply.  My strategy was to pump at work during the times that I would normally be feeding him, that worked for about three weeks. Since I was separated from Adam my supply went down. So I started to pump at home in the morning and on the weekends to increase my supply for the week.  What helped me the most with keeping up my supply was:

  1. Every morning I ate oatmeal with flax seeds for breakfast. Oatmeal and flax seeds are a galactagogue.  That means they are proven to increase milk production in nursing moms.  Other foods I found helpful for nursing mothers’tea,  full fat dairy products, and organic eggs that I purchased from a farm.  Unprocessed eggs are much creamier, and richer.
  2. I drank a gallon of water a day.
  3. I nursed frequently at home and held my baby a lot when I was home. Being close to your baby increases your milk supply.  I recommend safely co sleeping with your baby while you are nursing and working. Safe co sleeping means that the baby has their own enclosed space that they sleep in separate from you but near you. There are sidecar co sleepers (I used one with boys my boys) and co sleepers that go in the bed with you.
  4. Baby wearing when you’re home. I would wear my children and go for a walk in the evening or as I ran my errands on the weekend I would put them in my Ergo.
  5. I pumped every opportunity I had. If I woke up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of water I would take 15 minutes and pump. If you’re somebody who wakes up in the night I would recommend keeping a cooler with some ice inside of it so you can pump during the night and put your milk in the cooler and not have to leave your bed.

A working, nursing mom has to be able to multitask. I would answer emails and get all my computer work done while I was pumping. I would have projects laid out on my desk that I would  be working on while I was pumping.  Pumping does not have to slow down your productivity it will just simply tie you to your desk for 15 to 20 minutes.

Breastfeeding as a stay at home mom was much easier.  I was the bottle, I could nurse with Adam anywhere I went, also I had fewer supply issues. As a stay at home mom I never pump. The pump is especially helpful though if you are having supply issues, you can pump after you nurse if you times in the day and increase your milk supply. Also, if dad wants to get involved with feeding the baby, you can pump a bottle or two during the day and have that available to dad. As a second time mom I had no problem to nurse in public. With my older son I would pump and take a bottle with me, take baby food with me, even take formula sometimes. I was shy to nurse in public with him.  I learned that you have to practice with your nursing cover right away so your baby gets used to being under a poncho or cover. My first son I did not do this with, he would fight the cover and that left me feeling very shy.  I also exclusively breast-fed longer with my second child, up until nine months. My decision to do that was twofold: on one hand we had an excellent nursing relationship and on the other hand I knew we were going to take a month in Israel.  I figured the easiest thing would be for me to feed him via nursing rather than lugging around baby food.  I cannot say that my decision to stay at home rather than work is a main contributing factor as to the length of time I’m spending nursing each son. I would say that pregnancy was the main factor as to why I weaned Ben when I did.  During pregnancy it becomes more uncomfortable to nurse, your milk changes, and I have a tough time in my first trimester so adding in my discomfort nursing him was not helpful. Luckily for me it was a mutual choice to end the nursing relationship when we did.

I mentioned that I use a poncho to cover myself when I am nursing in public.  I also recommend if you’re going to nurse for at least a year to have plenty of nursing tops and pajama tops that pull or clip down.  Are used these both at work and as a stay at home mom. I could throw a cardigan or blazer over them at work. It makes pumping and nursing so much easier if you have something that is comfortable. Also nursing in public is more easily facilitated and manageable when you were in a nursing top and a cover. My favorite cover is a stretchy nursing poncho because it covers also my back if I do have to lift up my shirt. A swaddling blanket is also a great way to cover yourself.

A piece of advice and another mom gave me is to wean slowly. She weaned one of her sons quickly and the hormones that help with breast-feeding caused her to go into a depression for several months.  Now that I’m starting to work part time from home with the intent that I will work more in the following months I am planning in my mind how to cut back with Adam so I don’t have any depression and he will be ready for part time preschool.

Hump-Day Hype!

Tips for the Mommy on the Go

mommy-on-the-goWhen I chose to stay home part of that was so I could create experiences and take classes with my kiddos.  I’m very used to running around with my toddler and baby, for a new mom or a mom just getting used to two the idea of getting out of the house can be daunting.  Trust me I’ve been there.

I remember the first time I went out with both boys on my own.  It was supposed for a doctor’s appointment. I packed the double stroller and the diaper bag and picked out the boys clothes the night before. I made sure my toddler had plenty of snacks and I had my nursing poncho with me. We got up early in the morning and draft the doctors office only to find out that they had a second location and I was supposed to be there. I was crushed!

1. Have a really organized diaper bag.  I use gallon sized Ziploc bags for this.  They’re inexpensive and clear.  I use one for diapers, one for extra clothes, one for snacks, and one for additional items like wipes or Tylenol.

2. Pack your car and diaper bag the night before so you’re ready in the morning.  Put the stroller, baby carrier, a book or toy to occupy the kiddos, etc.

3. Keep an extra stash in your car.  I keep a grocery bag with extra diapers, clothes, wipes, and diaper cream in the backseat under my seat.

4. Buy a lightweight stroller.  I’ve had heavy, clunky strollers and truthfully my single umbrella stroller from Chico and my double City Mini GT are my go twos.  Seriously, I sold 3 strollers this past fall and kept just these strollers because they take up the least amount room in my car and they are so light and easy.  The Chico even has a strap to carry it over my shoulder!

5.  Pick a diaper bag that has stroller hooks.  A backpack style is great for the mom on the go!

6. Pack a snack and drink for yourself.  Especially if you’re nursing you need the hydration and nutrition.

7. Be home for nap time. There’s nothing worse than coming home in the car and seeing my toddler falling asleep in the back. I know that when we get home getting him out of the car will wake him up and that nap that he would’ve had is gone. So I try to schedule any classes or errands in the morning and be home before noon so he can get a good nap.

These are my tips for getting out and about with littles.  I’ll be sharing the contents of my diaper bag and how I pack it in a future post, also on Instagram. Be sure to follow me on Instagram. I look forward to reading in the comments any ideas you guys have for making going out easier with littles.

Hump-Day Hype!

Rocking Motherhood Challenge

rockingmotherhood-1_fotorFirst of all I’d like to thank Elizabeth from http://www.worthwritingfor.com for including me in this challenge.  The challenge is to write around 10 or more ways in which I’m rocking motherhood.  That’s a funny thing to ask mom because most of the time I hear moms sounding concerned that they’re not doing enough! I’m definitely guilty of this, so to take account of my accomplishments might be a good thing to do.  We’ll see…

1.  I simultaneously potty trained and sleep trained the boys.  That was super challenging, but in the back of my mind was the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the tough times would only last so long and they did.  By night 3 Adam wasn’t crying as I put him in his crib and after day 5 Ben started to use the potty.  No-it wasn’t like the YouTube videos where moms teach their youngest child to potty in an afternoon and the child was potty trained for life.  Ben had to warm up to the idea and be encouraged.  It took two attempts to train him, so if you’re struggling don’t worry-there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you too.

2.  Ben and Adam are bilingual.  I wrote about this in a previous post.  My boys speak English and Hebrew.  While Adam is just starting to speak he speaks words in both languages and that is how Ben started.  For sure, their Aba (father) can take most of the credit as he is the fluent Hebrew speaker in the family, but I support any way I can and it has improved my Hebrew.

3.  I’m still nursing.  Nursing my boys has been such a huge bonding experience for us.  I was very I’ll after having Ben and I couldn’t nurse him until he was 6 weeks old.  I pumped and kept up my supply nevertheless and the persistence paid off!  I nursed him until he self-weaned at 12 months.  Adam is still going strong and that’s ok with both of us right now.

4.  I survived two under two.  Trust me any mom with two under two is not sleeping, not sitting, and not eating.  It’s tough-but awesome.  Cuddling up with both of them in the bed after work and reading before bed or tandem wearing on a hike.  Those are memories I will treasure of this time.

5. I’ve been a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, and a working mom.  I’ve balanced, juggled, and scheduled my heart out around my kids and work.  What I learned from these experiences is that the grass is always greener on the other side and no matter if you’re working or staying home the struggle is real.  Sure when I was working I had a nanny and cleaning service to take care of a lot at home, but I missed my boys like crazy.  Staying home is WORK too.  I have a busy day every day between keeping the boys busy, engaged, growing,  and learning.  When one has a nap the other is wake and I’m feeding and entertaining him.  I’m cleaning the house every chance I get.  I NEVER chill and watch daytime TV while eating bonbons!

6. I’m finding my SELF again. I’m writing this in a hair salon for crying out loud!  Every person needs a moment to take care of his or herself.  When I worked it was before makeup and hair work and these days it’s just a quick shower.  I joined a gym, though, and I go frequently to improve my physique after two babies and it also helps me have more energy to be with my kids all day.

7.  I have an amazing supportive group of mom friends.  In the stay at home mommy, Gymboree, toddler swim class, playgroup world there are a lot of cliques.  I’ve been embraced, included, left out, and in plenty of awkward situations.  It’s not easy.  A year ago  I had a totally different group of mom friends and it was a tough journey to find the group I have today.  What I learned along the way is don’t make friends just based on the ages of your kids, but really look for moms with common interests as you.  I have vegan friends, friends from Israel, and hiking friends.  Some of these women are teachers and some are entrepreneurs, but as people we’re friends before being mom friends.

8.  Introducing my boys to nature has been really fantastic for all of us.  I really relax when I get away from the city.  We hike, picnic, and take strolls.  We are part of a mommy group that babywears and hikes-its been really fun joining them.  I’ve made some new friends through this group.

9.  My husband asked me to include that I do it all for the home and my family.  I find time to take my boys to classes and teach them, cook meals, clean and do laundry, run all the errands with my two in tow, have a play group and a blog, and help him with his business. This is why I chose to stay home this year, to be present for my family.

10.  I have given my children memorable experiences that they may not remember as they’re too young but I have the photographic proof of and the stories to tell.  They’ve experienced the High Holidays in Israel surrounded by family members, Ben visited the original FAO Shwartz in New York City, I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal, we flew to San Francisco to see my relatives and have a surprise 70th birthday party for my uncle, but the best was taking Ben at 4 months old to meet my grandmothers at his first Thanksgiving.  They both passed while I was pregnant with Adam, but they both got to see Ben and see me fill their shoes as a mom.

 

 

How I Hike with Two Littles

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How I Hike with Two LittlesEnter a caption

Upon my quitting my job as a full time as a full time art educator and staying home I searched for local Facebook mommy groups that had similar interests to me.  I stumbled upon a baby wearing hiking group and joined.  I was concerned that I couldn’t hike with both my boys-Ben had just turned 2 and Adam 6 months, but I have hiked a lot with them and here are my tips for success.

 

1. Either get a durable baby carrier or take paved/packed gravel trails. You do not want to take a wrap carrier on a hike!  I have an Ergo 360 which works great and a Beco Butterfly I use on my back when Ben needs a boost (I tandem carry if need be).  A lot of moms in the group have a Tula-and Tula makes a great toddler carrier!

2.  Take water for everyone.  I am nursing so water isn’t super necessary for Adam-but I still bring an extra water bottle for him. Camelback does make a toddler water bottle pack and if you’re hiking with a baby in front, you could have your Camelback on your back and be hands free!

3. If you’re taking a little who you expect to walk do a hike with little to no incline and consider the safety of the area.  You want to be careful about run ins with wildlife, falling on branches that can poke a little guy, and weather can play a role in safety too.  Out here we have to wear and take sunscreen, hats, glasses, and tons of water with the dry desert heat.  Wind, humidity, rain, and snow are all tough for a little on a long walk.  Also, keep in mind your little walker may get tired so bring a carrier in case.  Ben is two and a half and can do about a mile before getting tired.

4.  Do not go hiking with a little in an area that is s remote you won’t see other hikers, stay on well known trails that are also well maintained.

5.  Second hour of a long stroller ride and your kiddo is getting bored?  Snacks, water, and songs will help a lot.

6.  Take a small first aid kit with you.  Ben fell once on a trail and I was able to treat the cut and finish the hike with no worries.

7.  Hike with a friend or two who can help with your littles if you have multiples.  I’ve had friends carry Ben down Mt. Charleston when he got tired and I really appreciated it.

8.  Be sure to talk with your kids about the natural elements they are witnessing such as big mountains, blue sky, green grass, etc.  Use the hike as a chance to build vocabulary by describing the scenery.

9.  Take photos.  I love the photos of my boys exploring and being free in the wilderness.  These are some of my favorite memories of my time as a stay at home mom.

10.  Snacks that travel well: crackers, sandwiches, granola bars that don’t have chocolate, fruit, nuts, and dried fruit.  Bring a lot of snacks.  The kids will want them and it’s important if you’re nursing to stay hydrated and nourished too!

Have fun, be safe, and create great family memories!

How to Raise a Bilingual Child

In order to take care of Ben you have to be able to speak more than one language. This was an issue for my parents who I had to give a refresher mini course in Hebrew to so I could have a date night when they visited. He communicates with both Hebrew and English. Half and half. If his nose is running he’ll tell you in Hebrew, if Ben wants something to eat he’ll ask you for “cookies.” ” Cookies” aren’t really a cookie though, I just want to clarify that, it’s more like a cracker. I’ve learned more Hebrew being his mom than I had in the six years prior being married to his dad. His Hebrew has grown organically through several different channels. I’m going to share how we have taught in both languages simultaneously. Currently he’s not speaking either in complete sentences, we recently caught up with a speech therapist that I used to work with and she advised that he has not yet picked his dominant language. He is 2 and a half-that is normal, and that is very normal for kids who are bilingual. Just because he picks a dominant language doesn’t mean that he’s going lose the other language either.


1. My husband refuses to speak English at all with him. Ben has to only communicate in Hebrew with my husband.  If Ben wants “up” from the dinner table he will be answered in Hebrew with “I don’t understand what yo want, I don’t speak English with you.”  For me, it’s easier because we are in America, all of his classes are in English, and our day to day life is in English.  So he gets plenty of English, so his dad really has to be firm in speaking only Hebrew.

2.  We had an Israeli nanny for a year.  She only spoke Hebrew with Ben and she taught him
Hebrew songs.

3.  TV!  TV is huge.  My speech therapist friend agrees.  She said to teach a young child any language put them in front of the TV.  He has always from babyhood watched TV in both languages.

4.   We took a trip to Israel for a month and all of us were immersed in Hebrew.  My Hebrew developed over there dramatically in a short time!  Full immersion is the way to go if you get the opportunity.

5. Hebrew CD’s are on constant rotation in my car.  I know every Hebrew nursery rhyme!  Ben sings along where ever we go, it’s so sweet!

6.  Reading is so important in both languages.  I honestly don’t read a lot in Hebrew to him because he doesn’t have patience for how slowly I read and loses interest.  I do read him flash cards and have a few books I’m familiar with.  Our nanny read to him in Hebrew only, and my friends who are Israeli always read Hebrew stories to our kids.

7. Hebrew toys help some, especially if they make noise and speak.  His aunt in Israel sent some learning toys that will increase his vocabulary and even increase mine.  I also turn his American toys to Spanish just to strengthen his ear for languages.

8. Lastly, our local community has a large Israeli population so there are many friends and kids for him to speak Hebrew with.

We started all of these steps from birth.  My husband has not spoken a word of English to my son ever. English is only for mommy.  This is truly a gift for Ben and it will be a gift for Adam who already has a word in Hebrew and a word in English!

 

Homeschooling:Our Schedule

When I decided I wanted to stay home with my boys one of my big reasons was that Ben was outgrowing staying home everyday  with our nanny.  She was more than perfect and still remains a close friend, but he needed to be socialized.  Adam at the time had just been born and would, of course, benefit from being close to his mom.  So I have created a class schedule for the week that introduces the boys to several subjects and experiences.

homeschoolingSunday: Ben has swimming class.

Monday: Both boys go to Open Gym at Gymboree.

Tuesday: Both boys go to music class at Gymboree

Wednesday: Play date/play group day.

Thursday: Both boys go to Toddler Time at our local science museum.

Friday: Both boys go to storytime at our local library.

Saturday: Ben attends the Sabbath program at our synagogue.

Adam learning about African music at Gymboree.

The boys having fun at Lego Club.

Once a month the boys have our My Petite Picassos play group on a Wednesday at our home.  They also attend Lego club at our library. Depending on the weather we hike pretty often with a babywearing group and we attend Attachment Parenting International play groups and meetings. We also are working on completing the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program at our local library. Language skills are really important in our home because the boys are learning two languages:English and Hebrew.  Ben is fluent in both.
The boys get a lot of socialization and exposure to a variety of interests.  I’m able to help them navigate these early experiences which is such a blessing.