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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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.

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.

Tips for Taking Littles to Disneyland

disneyland

It’s been almost a year since Ben turned two. For his second birthday we went to Disneyland. It feels like every day I run into a parent telling me they’re planning their first trip to Disneyland.  I’m going to share with you my tips and advice for your first trip to Disneyland with your children.

  1. Choosing your hotel.  We went for two days. We stayed off property in a nearby hotel that was only half a mile away. The hotel had a free tram to Disneyland. Most hotels nearby have a free tram to Disneyland and are half price compared to the hotels on Disneyland’s property. However, with that being said there is a lot of convenience to staying on property. It does take two trams to get to Disneyland. With two babies under two years old and all of the stuff we had to bring it would’ve been more convenient to stay on property for sure.   If you’re going to Disneyland and trying to keep a budget then I recommend staying off property, but if you’re concerned about handling the two trams then it might be worth it to pay the extra money and stay on property.
  2. Take advantage of stroller rental.  Immediately upon getting through the gates at Disneyland we had to take our second tram. The first day we drove our car and parked at Disneyland. You can purchase a discounted parking pass online when you purchase your tickets. The parking lot is pretty far from the entry into Disneyland. This presented an issue for us, our double stroller, and all of our stuff. We had to collapse the double stroller, put the boys on the bus, and also carried the double stroller on the bus-it took up a lot of room.  The second day that we visited Disneyland I went by myself with my boys. As you enter Disneyland there is stroller rental which is rather affordable. So I simply wore Adam in a baby carrier all day and had the stroller for Ben.  The strollers that they have at Disneyland are large jogger style strollers with a good amount of storage. img_4986
  3. Get your celebration buttons!  For special events there are buttons you can wear as a group that lets the Disney characters know that you are celebrating. We all wore Happy Birthday buttons to celebrate Ben’s birthday and characters spent a little bit more time with my boys because of it. We were given these free buttons as soon as we entered Disneyland.  Just ask at the first kiosk you see.
  4. Dress comfortable. I highly recommend having your kids wear long, light clothing as the Disneyland chairs, rides, and changing tables are heavily trafficked public areas.  Wear sneakers, hats, and bring sweatshirts for the cool California nights!img_5026
  5. Bring supplies from home. Take hand sanitizer and use it repeatedly, take sunscreen, water bottles,and snacks. The food at Disneyland is expensive. You can cut costs a lot by bringing some sandwiches and some water bottles.  Our hotel also had a complimentary breakfast that we took advantage of every morning.
  6. Kids love meeting the characters!  To see and interact with the most characters definitely check out the restaurants. We went to Goofy’s Café and the boys were able to meet Mini Mouse, Chip and Dale, and Goofy.  The boys had a truly magical experience there. We ate there one night and the next night we just ordered pizza to our hotel room. It’s definitely worth a splurge.
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  8. Get a free line hopper app.  I did not plan on standing in line for hours on end with two babies under two years old to go on rides. So I downloaded a line hopper app and used it the whole time. I also recommend bringing a back up battery pack for your phone so you can charge it throughout the day. Between the battery running out for pictures and the line hopper app it’s good to have a back up.
  9. Nap time.  For nap time I did not go back to the hotel. If the boys were tired I would just take a break have a snack some water relax with my phone somewhere shady. Whichever boy was tired I put him in the stroller and let him relax.
  10. Cool off at the shows.  There are so many free entertaining shows on property and it’s one of the best ways to stay cool in the summer sun. We were at Disneyland in the end of June and it was so hot and humid! We went to every single one of the shows and despite my boys being very young, their jaws were on the floor at each show. They sat quietly and paid attention as soon as the characters came onstage. Most shows run about 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
  11. Cool off and shop!  We didn’t do too much shopping but on property there is the world’s largest largest Disney Store. So I had to check that out! They have items there that I’m not gonna find here in Vegas at the mall or online. I definitely think it’s worth splurging on and it’s another way to cool off! 

Packing Tips from my Instagram Feed

packing tips

 

About a week ago we went on an 8 day family vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  Our Jeep was packed!  We have a shelf for our trailer hitch that we bungeed our suitcases and Ben’s sleeping bag on.  The dogs were in the trunk with the double stroller folded flat.  We had a cooler, diapers, and snacks for the trip.

I made three short videos describing how I packed for the trip and entertained my two toddlers.  Check them out and check out my Tips for Packing for Kids on Vacation.
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​If your not following us on Instagram, please check out our feed as I update it almost daily with tips and fun kids art ideas! I also have a Twitter account that I update daily with great art and parenting tips.  If you have any awesome traveling with kids advice to share, please do so in the comments below.

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.

Story Time on the Railroad

 

Ben has recently take an interest in “choo choo trains” so I thought we would go and check out the story time at the Nevada Railroad Museum in Boulder City.  This was such a fun and unique experience I had to write a post about it!  

Two weeks ago we hiked an old railroad trail in Nevada near Lake Mead. I was so excited take Ben because of his interest in trains and yet there were no trains. It’s really hard for a two-year-old to understand that trains used to go through these tunnels 100 years ago. Then I remembered that I had heard about the story time nearby that happens once a month on the railroad. I was able to find my information through the Nevada Railroad Museum’s Facebook page. We drove about 45 minutes out of Vegas to get to the museum in the rain. They charged us only $10 for me, when the kids turn four they will cost $7.   This was an excellent deal for the three of us, especially since they give you also a coupon for free ice cream for each person!  We were the last family to board the train and we were told to not sit for the storytime was happening at that time, but rather sit in another car because there were so many people!  They told us that when the train turns around they would invite us up to the dining car for the story. The car we sat in was over 100 years old and it took us on an old section of rail road that runs past America’s oldest casino.  There were several men dressed as conductors walked up and down the isles telling people about the history of the area and they were kind enough to take pictures with us. 

When the train turned around we went to the dining car. The dining car was a first class dining car from over 100 years ago. It was beautiful! People back then knew how to travel in style! We were read a story for Valentine’s Day.  One of the volunteer teachers from the local school district helped Ben and Adam make train toggle bracelets, and they were giving oversized train coloring pages.  Lastly, once the train returned to the station we got back in the car and we drove less than half a mile to a local 1950’s style diner where we were able to get our free ice cream. The boys had so much fun! This was truly a wonderful experience!  I was able to enjoy just the beauty of these historical train cars and feel transported back in time while the boys just absorbed the experience.  On Halloween they do a haunted train ride for the kids and at Christmas they do a Santa train ride.  If you’re visiting Las Vegas with small children and I highly recommend checking this out. Other weekends they have a small train and the kids can sit on and he goes around a small track, they have a variety of engines and trains to check it out. I will definitely be going again!

My Favorite Tried and Tested Busy Bags from Pinterest

This past fall I had the daunting task of taking a 24 hour flight with a 2 year old and a 9 month old.  My 9 month old I figured would be happy as long as I held him, but the 2 year old would need toys.  Toys not just for the plane, but for a month long vacation on the other side of the world!  So I put together a backpack with 15 busy bags and here is a list of some of my favorites from Pinterest.

  1.   Colored crafts sticks with Velcro dots to make shapes with. Both Ben and Adam loved these and still use them for restaurants and other outings to stay occupied. From the Tip Garden.
      DIY Toddler Activities - craft sticks and Velcro dots... "Busy bag" okay weird…:

2.  My niece and nephew loved this activity which not only makes kids match patterns, but also colors and fractioned shapes.  From No Time For Flash Cards.This is a simple activity with great cognitive benefits. Matching is the…:

3. This busy bag idea came with a free printable, but I just made my own cards with a sharpie and card stock.  From Teaching Mama.Snowflake Busy Bag {Free Printable}:

4. Lastly, I’m choosing to share a busy bag idea I didn’t make yet, but will for our next trip.  Ben and Adam love building, so I think this will be right up their alley! From How Wee Learn

quiet time activities for 3 year olds:

These ideas are cheap, reusable, and easy to make.  These activities don’t need to necessarily just be used for busy bags and outings or travel, the could just be quiet time activities for a rainy day.  What busy bags do your kids love?

 

Georgia O’Keefe Unit

georgia-okeefe

Georgia O’Keefe is so inspiring as a woman and nature lover.  I did this unit as part of an Environmental Art art unit exploring the Enduring Idea of Nature and Art.  It took the better part of the spring to finish, but my students were very familiar with her work and what inspired her afterwards.

 

Art Unit: Georgia O’Keeffe

Grades: 4-6

# of lessons: 3

Art Resources: Artists in Their Time Georgia O’Keeffe by Ruth Thomson, examples of pueblos and adobe homes in photographs, photographs or actual animal skulls, examples of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings, pictures of flowers (I got mine from a calendar), and teacher products.

Art Materials:1 sheet of white 9”x12” paper per student, watercolors, water cups, pencils, paintbrushes, glue, 2 sheets of 8”x8” white paper per student, 1 11”x14” sheet of black paper, cups of glue and water mixed together, oil pastels, and 1 11”x14” sheet of white paper.

Objectives- Student will:
– create a multimedia southwestern landscape
– create an observational collage and pencil drawing of a flower
– create a painting of animal bones of flowers
– learn about the process of collaging- use various watercolor techniques
– shade using a pencil and create a grayscale
– draw using oil pastels
– learn about the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe
– work in groups and individually
Interdisciplinary Connections: Science and Social Studies
Vocabulary: Georgia O’Keeffe, still life, landscape, Southwest, grayscale, shade, and adobe.
Lessons: The unit will consist of the following components:
A. Multimedia Adobe Landscape– Each student will paint a watercolor sunset on 9”x12” sheets of white paper. The student will then draw adobe homes using oil pastel.
B. Georgia O’Keeffe Flower Study– Each student will create an 8 square grayscale using pencil on strips of scrap white paper. Student will share a photograph of a flower with a group of 3 students and individually draw/shade a flower composition on 8’x8” white paper in pencil. Then he will redraw the outline of his flower composition on another 8”x8” white sheet of paper and collage with tissue paper scraps. Student will mat his work on 11”x14” black paper with glue.
C. Flower and Bones Painting– Student will draw in pencil on 11”x14” white paper a skull and a flower from studying photographs. Student will paint the picture using watercolors.