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 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!

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!