Big Family Trip to Israel – Caesarea and Jerusalem – Article 2

Enjoyed the last article on our Big Family Trip to Israel? Then you won’t want to miss article number 2 in the series – Caesarea and Jerusalem. Find out what are the best things to do in both of these historic cities!

Check it out here.

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Best Travel Tips – Travelling to Israel

During the summer our family of five travelled across the ocean to Mr. L’s home country, Israel. This was our third family trip to this amazing country that is full of sea, sand and everything you need for a memorable experience.

In this first of a 3-part article series on the trip, I provide the Top 10 Family Friendly Places To Visit in Tel Aviv. 

Enjoy!

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Diving Into Year Three..

Diving, swimming – any thoughts of water to help alleviate a humid early start to summer in this small area of Ontario are much welcome thoughts. Diving into new experiences. Diving into life. So many ways to explore that free-fall experience that ends in a splash..or a belly flop. It can go either way.

We’re heading into our third year here in Prince Edward County. Life is slower at times but I have thoroughly enjoyed the stolen moments with my family or on my own (when not driving to the ends of the each nearby towns to get the kids or that one shop I really like), to sitting or doing simply nothing and enjoy the beauty of this area.

Prince Edward County is a rich oasis of agricultural land, water, art, music and people.  There is a laid-back friendliness that we have enjoyed from shop owners, neighbours and strangers just trying to help. It’s the whole area – stemming from Belleville to Trenton to PEC that is quite welcoming. It’s not perfect mind you, but it’s real with little pretence.

The most recent example of this mindset happened when I was fortunate enough to have a story accepted for a local anthology called The County Wave. At the reading, as I tried to ignore my shaking hands and looked out at the crowd, I noticed that the people were attentive and encouraging. No cell phones. Afterwards, as I signed anthologies frankly overwhelmed at the praise, I got to talking with another contributor. He was a fellow former city dweller who now lived almost full-time in The County. He had the following to say,

“You know what I like about this area? When I tell someone here I’m an author, they just simply say, that’s great. Let me know where I can find your stuff. In the big city, the first thing they ask is, should I know you?”

It’s just a slightly different perception out here and I think we like it. Most of the time.

As we enter into our third year here, I still get the odd comment or tears from the kids. They miss their really good friends, our old house was cozy etc. etc. What I think they miss the most is the ability to walk outside your door and instantaneously often have people to talk to, kids to play with a park around the corner. I simply tell them, I do too. But I look at what  we are building here. A place for people to visit for as long as they want. A retreat they (and us) will appreciate as life gets busier and busier and takes our family in all different directions. Somewhere our children and their friends will want to come back to, I hope.

I can’t predict the future, all I can do is keep taking them with me as I explore the area showing them the hidden treasures of Prince Edward County. I hide my smile when they slip up and say they’re glad to be home after a long day out doing a multitude of school related activities. I know they will appreciate the quiet as Mr. L and I do, I also know they like how bright the stars shine at night, maybe not the mosquitos, but the view is worth it.

Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll run away to the city or even back to the place where they began their lives. Perhaps they will room with those friends that they have longed for since and that they have managed to stay in touch with. Who knows.

As a parent, the biggest struggle for me the last two years is the constant in and out between home, town and school. Sure, I did it back in the ‘burbs. What parent doesn’t? But add in kilometres and 30-45 minute trips to get pretty much anywhere including groceries and supplies, it adds up. It has meant that we had to make some changes in how we manage life.

Country Living with Kids vs Suburb Living with Kids When You Have Three or More Kids

  • 1 activity per kid vs multiple activities per kid.
  • Groceries or Fresh Markets once a week vs. going to the grocery store every day.
  • Gas up once a week vs gas up every 2 weeks. (On a good week!)
  • Bundling appointments/life stuff into 1 day a week vs spreading it out over a week.
  • Finding after school care when 1 kid has extracurricular activity vs just popping home for an hour with other kids – especially important for work from home parents who still need to finish up work by end of day and can’t do it while sitting in the playground for an hour watching the other kids.
  • Always, always having snacks and waters on hand vs finding a coffee shop.
  • Downloading multiple podcasts or playlists for those long drives vs listening to the radio.
  • Telling the kids they have each other to play with because playdates (unless arranged) do not happen spontaneously vs going over to someone’s house after school.
  • Riding bikes up and down the driveway/organize an outing vs riding around the block.
  • Backyard vs park
  • And lastly – learning to let your twelve-year-old babysit the younger kids so you don’t have to schlep the entire crew out to every single outing that doesn’t involve them.

The list looks daunting and each of these bullet points race through my head every time I am asked, why did you move? Or – was it worth it?

The simple answer is yes.

The above list is just one way of doing things versus another. I choose to view it as a puzzle to solve – is there a good way to deal with a busy five-person household while living in the country? If we simplify things, then yes. If anything, the best thing to come out of this move  is the reminder that our family should be more mindful about what choices we make as well as how we spend our time and money.

Who do we want to spend time with in our home? What activities do the kids really want to do versus just doing them because they are available? Do I really need to go and buy that item or can I make do with that I have? In the suburbs, it’s easy to overbuy, overspend and over schedule because it’s available. Out here in PEC, you have to take a pause and think, how important is that right now?

So, in the long run I believe this has been an important lesson for our family to learn and one I hope my children will take with them as they enter the teen years and beyond. The ability to pause, reflect for a moment and make a choice versus doing things just because they are easy. Do you have to change your life and move out to the country to do this? No way. This practice can be done anywhere and by anyone. We just had to move out of the ‘burbs to learn it.

In the beginning, that current catch word, mindfulness,  was not the reason I thought we moved here. I will often hesitate, wondering how to phrase my answer to that “why did you move out here,” question. So I blurt out the first answer that pops into my head. I tell people we moved because out here, we got a better value for property. It was the best, honest answer I could form to the constant inquiry. Yes people, we moved to get what we wanted in a family home.

But in retrospect, or at least during the last two years, although that answer was the best that I could discern from this whole experience and was in part, true, another life lesson emerged from the dive. That one about being more mindful of one’s choices. Now that answer only came to mind once I started to reflect back on the last two years and the corresponding shifts our family have undergone. It was an aha moment as you realize what has shifted within your family over a two year period.

Life is busy when you have kids. Downright insane when you have three or more. If we can slow it down, even a little bit, while teaching an important, unstated lesson to our children about mindfulness, well then at this juncture in our lives, I believe we dove into the deep end and made the right move for us.

 

Travel With Kids

For the last few months I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to write guest articles for www.sixsuitcasetravel.com. An informative website about traveling with your large family and a great resource I have used for a few years.

My latest article was about our trip to The Poconos a few years ago.

To read the article you can find it here:

7 Must Do Magical Moments in The Poconos

Poconos Countryside

Remembering simple things

 

Sunday mornings.

I’m not sure how they work at your house, but it may go like this.

If we’re lucky and all three have slept in past 7:00 am, we all march with groggy faces downstairs and I start the coffee machine. It’s the one day of the week this militant mom allows her kids out of their rooms in the pyjamas before breakfast and they love it. If Mr. L and I are organized (50/50 chance) one of us is starting a family breakfast of pancakes or eggs while the other tries to fend off the hungry people from eating two bowls of cereal spoiling any chance of them eating the hot breakfast we slaved over.

Once breakfast is cooked, the kids gobble it up before both parents sit down and then rush off with a

“Sunday morning cartoons!!! WiiU!!”

In the meantime, two still not-quite awake parents look at each other and shrug and say, “It’s Sunday.”

Then a little while later, guilt sets in that we are lounging with coffees doing nothing while our kids are being babysat by Disney Junior. What ensues is kind of a ritualistic dance of  getting kids dressed, teeth brushed so we can get on with our day.

Yesterday, I discovered something my poor tired brain forgot. Once upon a time, we got a weekend paper. Being an old soul, I still prefer the sound of a morning paper crackling versus the hum of the computer to catch up on current events. However, as most parents realize, trying to leisurely read a weekend newspaper is pointless with three young kids running amok. Our recycling bin was full of unread wasted print so we stopped our subscription.

By chance, I had acquired this long forgotten treasure the day before while going through the McDonald’s drive-through. (Before you judge, you wake up and get two kids to dance class for 9 am on a Saturday with a third kid in the van who has the stomach flu and may or may not throw up and you would be wanting an Egg McMuffin too! Besides, haven’t you heard those new radio ads stating how few calories there are in this breakfast item?) Well, free weekend newspapers were given to patrons. Score! (Anything free is a score.)

Of course, I couldn’t read the paper on Saturday. Saturday is activity day and playdate day and catch up on chores and well, you get it. The list goes on. Regardless, I was thinking the paper although welcome, would be another item to recycle this week. Until Sunday morning came.

This particular Sunday morning, because I’m kind of crazy like that, I signed the kids up for ski lessons. With a late start to winter, and having kids who picked up this winter sport last year, I made the parental decision to take them an hour drive away each Sunday for the next six weeks for ski lessons.  Mr. L works part of the day anyway, so why not? We don’t have to leave super early, but we do need to get a move on cutting into coffee drinking and cartoon watching time.

Being a little more organized than usual yesterday, I had all our gear packed and we had a little extra time. I was expecting the usual, “Can we watch TV?” However, something amazing happened. I forgot my girls know how to read. When we used to get the weekend paper, they were a couple of years away from wonderful life skill. Now as I tried to sit and actually read the paper at the breakfast table, they both looked with wonder at this relic until Elizabeth piped up,

“Do you remember you used to read me the comics? They were funny.”

That’s right! I would choose a kid-friendly comic and read it to my blossoming eldest child.

Digging through the pages of news and entertainment I found them. The four-colour processed weekend comic section.

“Here. You can read it yourself now.”

Grabbing it, she dived right in. Then her younger sister said,

“Me too?”

Splitting the pages I was awe-struck. We were sitting together, in relative peace on a Sunday morning enjoying a simple pleasure. A Norman Rockwell moment! They were chatting about what they found funny. Switched sections with no arguments. There was no mention of watching cartoons. Why would they? They were reading cartoons. Only the murmuring sounds of little voices as they read the ones they understood and asked me about the phrases with a satirical bent which I tried to explain in a kid-friendly way was heard.

How little it takes to fill a parent’s heart with joy and how quick a new tradition starts.