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!

 

Adam’s DIY New Year’s Day First Birthday Party

Having lived in Las Vegas for over a decade now, I’ve had some pretty memorable New Year’s Eves.  Last year took the cake, though.  I went into labor on 12/31/15 at 1:40AM which continued for another 28 hours.  Adam was born on New Year’s Day and while last year’s celebration took the cake, I literally made cake this year while watching the ball drop.

I have a philosophy: anything I didn’t do with Ben, I’ll do with Adam.  For example: I didn’t do those monthly pictures Ben’s first year with the sticker that goes on the onesie.  So I did that this year for Adam, or tried to-  often forgetting and posting on Facebook the second or third day of the month, so goes the life of a mom with little multiples. For Ben’s first birthday I was in the middle of my first trimester of pregnancy with Adam so I purchased everything: cake, decorations, etc.  The party went fine, but I thought it was missing that personal touch.

This year I decided to do everything myself.  I started looking on Pinterest three months ago and decided on a theme: black, white, chalkboard, and gold.  I would mix the birthday with New Year’s and have it on New Year’s Day as no one with littles goes out anyways.  I found a lot of chalkboard printables on Pinterest to use for the party.

 

Free printable chalkboard style thank you gift tags which you can personalise and give to guests when they leave the wedding, saves having to send out thank you cards.:


I taped these thank you tags to my party favors which were simply velvet coloring posters that came with markers.  I got them for $1 at Party City.  These tags can be customized to have your name or your family’s name and the date of the party printed on them.  Thy’re free, so are all the printables I used.

These free printable chalkboard banner letters, A-Z, are super versatile. Perfect for parties, seasonal and regular decor, classrooms, and so much more.:


This chalkboard banner was used for the bunting that hung from Adam’s highchair.  I spelled out ONE with it and threaded it through with twine.  On another piece of twine I knotted black, white, and gold ribbons and tulle.  I also made a simple Happy Birthday Adam banner that hung over my fireplace.

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I used this chalkboard bunting to spell out ADAM over his birthday cake. I attached it with kitchen twine and bamboo skewers.  It really added a lot to my homemade cake.

I am not a baker.  I would like to be.  I strive for perfection.  So nothing could be worse than a burnt cake at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve!  I still had to clean and decorate the next day!  I used my cake leveller to trim off the burnt bottom and iced my layers.  Once the cake was layered I cut around the rest of the burnt edges.  Then I iced.  Crumbs from the chocolate cake were getting mixed into my bourbon vanilla buttercream frosting!  Ugh.  Thankfully I bought a crazy amount of gold and white sprinkles and viewed a lot of tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest on simple sprinkle decorating.  I managed to make the cake look decent and cover the ugly mixed up buttercream completely.  The cake turned out to be delicious.  Everyone was in shock that it was my first time baking a big cake.  The smash cake and cupcakes went much more smoothly.  I used Dollar Tree champagne glasses to house the cupcakes with black and white M &M’s.  Below is a picture of the pin I used with a link attached.

cupcakes in dollar store champagne flutes:

I had another disaster that night as well.  The Oreo sprinkle pops.  The idea seemed simple enough.  Push a lollipop stick into the cream center of the oreo and dip in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle and cool on wax paper.  The oreos fell apart every time!  I gave up on it and focused on cake instead.
Quick and easy sprinkle Oreo pops DIY, perfect for party favors, a dessert table, or Valentine's Day treats! See more party ideas and party crafts at CatchMyParty.com.:

The next day we decorated and cleaned.  I was so relieved to have my parents to help.  My husband hung all the balloons and I organized the hot cocoa station.  The photos are below.  Everyone had a great time and the party went off without a hitch!  I set up a crafting station for the kids, the toddlers that attended enjoyed the cupcake craft and decorating party hats.  My family wore New Year’s party hats I picked up at Party City in gold and white.  Adam smashed away at his cake and celebrated turning 1 on 1/1.

Family Trip to Israel Pt. 2

family-trip-to-israel-pt-2This is a story about baklava, lots of baklava.  During our second week in Israel my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a date.  We NEVER have date nights. So we decided to have a little adventure and find the famous baklava shop in the Wadi Nisnas Market

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I had heard about this place by watching Best Street Food From Around the World on Netflix.  I couldn’t believe they had an episode on Haifa-only Haifa, no Tel Aviv or Jerusalem!  I watched this while I was pregnant with Adam and had the worst sweet tooth-and my husband promised he would take me.  Wadi Nisnas is a nice market, not nearly as impressive as Maheneh Yehuda, but a good size.  It sits on a mountain overlooking the port.  We walked up and down the streets holding hands.  My husband stopped a few people asking them in Hebrew for directions.

When we found the baklava shop we couldn’t believe the variety they had.  Some were cigar shaped, some were squares, some had almonds, some had pistachios-all looked incredible.   The smell of honey perfumed the air as we made our choices, but it was hardly a choice.  We sampled at least two-thirds of the variety the offered.  

My favorite had anise and almonds.  The flavor was delicate and it just melted in my mouth.  I’m going to try a few baklava recipes after the holidays.  It’s in my blood after all-my family is Macedonian.  I will be sharing my recipes on the blog so be sure to check back!

Family Trip to Israel Pt.1

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Prior to starting my blog this month my family spent a month travelling in Israel.  My husband was born there near Haifa and it was my fourth trip, but my first with two littles in tow.  I didn’t think it was going to be so incredible, as I’ve traveled extensively there already.  It was incredible.  Meeting my nieces and nephews for the first time, seeing my children play with their cousins, visiting old friends, and making new memories.  This was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I will be sharing it with you in two posts.  The first will be an overview of our travels and the second a foodie focused post.  So stay tuned!

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We spent a good amount of time in the north near Haifa.  We visited the gorgeous Mt. Carmel and saw Mosh Ben Ari, the Israeli musician play.  We returned to Akko, this was my third trip there, but as I was with my husband/tour guide I knew this experience would be special.  We walked around the souk, purchasing small items like off brand Crocs for my son and handmade instruments.  Afterwards, my husband took us to eat to hummus at the famous Hummus Said.  It came to us warm, served with vegetables, freshly baked pita, and pickles.  Adam loved the pickles, people were in disbelief that my baby liked them-but he devoured them!

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We did a side trip to Jerusalem.  When you go to Israel, you have to visit Jerusalem.  We met up with an old friend who was able to get us into the tunnels underneath the Western Wall.  I found out as we walked through the remnants of the ancient temple that he and my husband had prayed for hours at the spot considered to be closest to the Holy of Holies three years ago while I was in the midst of my IVF.  What a special moment to stand there, in that same spot with Ben and Adam and know how much their father had prayed for their existence.  Even now, writing this I get teary eyed, until I remember how Ben ran through those tunnels  like he owned them!

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We put our notes and prayers in that spot this time and went out to the Western Wall to finish our prayers.

We continued on our Jerusalem journey to Maheneh Yehuda Market.  It’s A huge market in Jerusalem that remind me of pikes place in Seattle. What stood out to me the most was the artisanal halva, the honey donuts for the New Year, and the enormous variety of nuts and olives.  The market was packed as it was the day before the Sabbath. All of the cafés inside were full and busy. We even found an American brewery and tasted some crafted beers!


For a week we rented and apartment off Airbnb in Tel Aviv. We were 10 steps away from Banana Beach. During the day we would lounge on the beach and at night we would take long walks around the city, eating falafel and shawarma sandwiches.


I’ll be sharing my next part of our trip in a few days. I hope that this story tells you a little bit more about who I am and about my family. My goal is to connect with you to share with you my passions and my family is my biggest passion!