Fall in Israel – Rosh Hashanah

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The weather, the holidays, and the spirit of Fall in Israel are all definitely different from our beloved Virginia, but we are enjoying the adventure. This was a big weekend for us and the country as we celebrated the New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. Until last year, I used to be unfamiliar with the Jewish/Israeli holidays, aside from their dates pre-labeled in my calendar over the years. For all of you like me, living in Israel means three days off of school, celebrations and toasts, religious observances, lots of new traditions, and it is a great time to travel or explore for us non-observant expats.

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Since we have missed our Fall traditions from back home, we took the long week and went camping at Horshat Tal in the Golan Heights with a few of our favorite outdoorsy friends.  We also toasted the new year at our favorite Israeli winery, Pelter Winery and one of our favorite Israeli craft breweries, Galil Brewery (they have pumpkin ale!). It was a wonderful time to be removed from the pressures of school and work and just be together and laugh a lot. Plus, I checked a few things off our Fall bucket list!

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I know I say it all the time, but experiencing the cultures of the country we live in (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and those of the people we befriend is truly one of my favorite things about living abroad. It makes me so happy to listen to the boys sing holiday songs, share the salutations in the language, and try traditional eats and treats. Their favorite Rosh Hashanah treat is apples dipped in honey, eaten to symbolize a sweet new year.

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It is especially fun to experience each of the holidays through our youngest at a local Hebrew gan (pre-school). On the Friday before the holiday the parents were invited to join a toast to the new year. The littles all wore white, the traditional color worn on Shabbat (the Sabbath) and for holy days. There was a rabbi who talked (in Hebrew of course) about the holiday and blew the shofar for us. We sat and watched the children sing and clap to songs they had clearly been learning leading up to it. I couldn’t help but smile at the tiny hands holding up glasses of tirosh (children’s wine) toasting and shouting “Shana Tova”!

Our big kid had his own Rosh Hashanah celebration at the international school and learned about the holiday in Israeli Culture class, which is one of his favorite classes. He just loves the teacher too! She has them singing fun songs, speaking in Hebrew, and excited to share it all at home with us. Let me tell you, we have learned a lot because of it! Fun fact, similar to our beloved Greeks, the Israelis see the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity, health, fertility and happiness and they are particularly important and given as gifts at Rosh Hashanah.

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To learn more about the holiday check out this fun video. I can really get behind the heart of starting fresh and walking into the new year on a sweet note!

Here’s to a sweet (and intentional) new year!

Shana Tova!

kdg

Origami birds courtesy of fellow gan mom, Noa, check out her blog post: I’m on Leave

Fall {Event} Planning

If you caught my post a couple weeks ago about my love of Fall and planning, it will come as no surprise that I have a knack for booking my friends and families weekends up with fun, Fall specific outings. Our friends back home in Virginia tell me they miss having me around to schedule get-togethers, especially our annual Fall ones. In the spirit of being intentional and spending quality time with your people, here is my Fall Outings Bucket List. Special bonus for those of you in Virginia: I added our favorite spots for you to check out. 

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Apple Picking  – A fun, and healthy, outing for all ages.

Virginia Recommendation: Stribling Apple Orchard – family owned and operated, it hosts a great orchard to pick your own and a shop to purchase all the yummy apple things and more. I’m particularly loyal to them because I also went to high school with a couple of Striblings, and they are some of the nicest and kindest people.

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Pumpkin Patch – This Fall tradition is one of my particular favorites. A day spent on the farm where you can find the perfect pumpkin for carving into a Jack o’ Latern.

Virginia Recommendation: my favorite is Belvedere Plantation. They have a hay barn with swings, a corn maze, and games, in addition to a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Cox Farms is a staple in NoVa, and Great Country Farms also has fun slides and rides, too.

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Camping & Hiking If you’re outdoorsy, this is the perfect time to be in the wild, with cooler weather and gorgeous scenery.

Virginia Recommendation: Shenandoah National Park and beach camping at Chincoteague National Park.

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Wine Tasting Wherever you are, this a great annual tradition to start in any season. We just happen to do it while the leaves were turning. Also, for a fun, cool, cozy evening, I recommend you try mulled wine.

Virginia Recommendation: Did you know Loudon Wine Country is booming!

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Brew Tasting Again, any season is a great opportunity to start a tradition of brew tasting with friends! I encourage you to enjoy all the seasonal brews, especially all Pumpkin and Oktoberfest ales! The hubby is already planning for our annual pumpkin homebrew and I can’t wait!

Virginia Recommendation: check out my post on VA craft brews.

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Fall Shindigs Local festivals, parties, and Oktoberfests are great ways to get involved in your community and enjoy the season. Of course, you can always throw your own themed celebration – with or without the kiddos. {Cookies by Festoon Baking Company}

Israel doesn’t really celebrate Halloween or Fall, however we will definitely be crossing a few of these items off our list this year.  I will report back for all you interested in doing Fall right in Israel. That’s one of the best things about being expat; we get to share our traditions with others as we learn about theirs. On that note stay tuned for a post recapping the Israeli Fall holidays and traditions later in October.

Hope this list helps you be intentional with your Fall weekends. If you do try any of these outings or recommendations, let us know what you think.

Happy Fallin’ –

kdg

Fresh Starts & Fall Resolutions

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I love the Fall. It affects all my senses. The smell of the crisp air, the feel of the temperatures going down and the cozy sweaters, the taste of all the pumpkin spice deliciousness, the sound of leaves crunching on the ground, and the way the light changes to a bluer tone. It is definitely the season where I miss Virginia the most. I know, the first day of Fall is technically not for another month, but schools are starting and I can already see the light changing. No matter where we are, about this time every year, I feel energized and a thrill of excitement for the adventures Fall will bring.

Especially the start of the new school year, which is more motivating than New Year’s Day to me. It is a fresh start, ripe for new and better habits and routines. Like the blank pages of our new notebooks and agendas, this year is free of blemishes and scribbles and open for all the possibilities that learning and imagination will bring.

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With a new set of school supplies I always felt armed and ready to be the best student I could be. I would sit at my desk that first day, open-hearted and eager to learn. Now as a mom, I get that thrill for my kids. What will they learn? Who will their teachers be? Will they make new friends and rekindle their old friendships after a summer apart?

Whether it is a new school or a familiar one, stepping foot on campus that first day everyone will be able to feel the vibrations of excitement in the air, both nervous and joyful.

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This is the first week of school for my soon-to-be second grader and it is turning out to be busy. As I sat down with my brand new Simplified Planner, by our grace-guru Emily Ley. I was that little girl again, full of hope for a great year. I know this Fall will be busy for our family, there are already lots of events that need to be added to the calendar, but I am hopeful that we will find the balance between being busy and being overwhelmed. Rather than waiting until January for a New Year’s resolution, I’m committing to balance as my Fall resolution. I promise to be intentional with my planning and say “no” more to make room for the better “yeses.” Honestly, it is never too early, or too late, for a fresh start. Will you join me? #fallresolutions2017

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Download printable here

How are you feeling about the Fall coming? If you are already feeling overwhelmed then I want to encourage to take a moment to enjoy the spirit of Fall and remind you that you have a choice you can be intentional with your time and say “no” to the things that don’t bring you joy.  Seriously, the holidays will be here before we know it!

Happy Fall everyone,

kdg