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.  

How My Family Stays Cool in the Summer With Honest Co.

honestSummer is serious in Las Vegas!  With temperatures reaching 125 degrees we take a lot of precautions as parents with our children’s safety in the heat.  No, we don’t stay inside all day in the air conditioning, however, we do choose how and when we go outside!

Most mornings in the summer we get up early to enjoy the outdoors.  The boys have water tables and a sand pit in the backyard.  We go to the park, play in splash pads, and walk the dogs before 10 AM.  By 10 AM the temperature can easily be 95 degrees, so that’s the time we do our indoor play.  When the boys are outside, even though it’s not during the high heat, I put sunscreen and hats on them.  These simple blue hats from Honest Co. go with most of the boys’ summer outfits and have SPF 50 built in! They’re also waterproof for the beach, splash pad, and water table fun my sons’ have every summer!

The hats fold up small and can fit easily in my diaper bag for busy days and trips. When we went to Israel they came in so handy!

Another way we have fun in the summer is swim classes. We actually do swim classes year round at Water Wings Swim School. They have indoor heated pools. Ben just moved up a level and is so proud! We go 1-2 times a week. I still get in the pool with Ben, but next month when he turns 3 I won’t need too I the water with him, so I will start Adam too. While we currently don’t have a pool, we are looking to move to a house with a pool so swim gear is so necessary. Even though Ben is potty trained I do still put a swim diaper on him and I love the swim diapers from Honest Co. They come in many sizes and cute prints, which is Honest Co.’s specialty.

When the boys’ are swimming even though the pool is inside I don’t want them catching cold, so they wear a swim shirt to the pool. It’s also a great cover up for the beach, outdoor pools, and at the splash pad. I don’t want them to get a sunburn!

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Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.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!