Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hidden Gems

It was the last long Friday of the year.

Obviously, we had to do something, as starting the week right after, we'd be ushering in Shabbat BEFORE 5 pm. We actually thought everyone else would have the same idea, and that the parks and whatnot would be packed.

I imagined finding a park and then having to help my kids navigate playground politics (just exactly how long is a child allowed to stay on a swing when there is a line forming?!).

The boys wanted to practice their baseball skills with my husband, and the girls really didn't care where we went, as long as there are slides and swings.

I know, baseball is not exactly your typical Israeli pasttime...

I was really hoping to find a park with a great playground, big wide open grassy fields, and public bathrooms.

In the end, we didn't find exactly that, but we did find a gem of a place anyhow! It was lacking the big wide open grassy fields, but we went to Park Rabin in Migdal Ha'emek, since we knew it had bathrooms and a great play area.

I really expected crowds, as we only got there in the afternoon, and schools were all out already. But it was practically empty! There was one couple with a toddler there, a family with a few little kids, and 4 kids on bikes. For most of the time we were there, those were the only other people we saw.

The boys got to practice their baseball in a field that was dotted with olive and other trees. Makes for interesting baseball.

When the girls needed the bathroom (they always need the bathroom when we are out), we found the one unlocked toilet and discovered it was very clean, but lacked toilet paper and soap. Luckily I carry toilet paper around in my backpack, and hand sanitizer too, for when we find ourselves without soap...

The girls loved the lack of playground politics in the kiddie playground.

But when we ventured up to the upper play area and discovered the HUGE slides... well, they were ecstatic! (And the boys had fun there too.)


Those were really huge slides. The kids love all those colors zooming past them as they come sliding down. We literally had to drag them away so we could go home and finish getting ready for Shabbat...


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friday Tiyulim

We've been doing Friday tiyulim - mostly hikes - for a few weeks now. This means I frantically cook and bake on Thursdays, but then we get to go somewhere as a family for a short tiyul on Friday! So much fun.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

We planned to do a Friday tiyul really nearby, and we had done a little bit of research, and found a short (1/2 hr to 1 hr) hike to do. We drove to the park where the hike was, and there were a few people hanging around. One recommeded we detour off our path and check out the natural springs, and they were so pretty! We walked a little in the forested area, but eventually we decided that if we were going to do our "planned hike", we had to get started. So.we.did.

At some point it turned into too much walking for my girls. It had already been an hour, and I didn't feel like we had begun to loop back yet. My husband and I discussed it a bit, and we decided that the girls and I would wait in the shade, not far from the road leading out of the park, and he and the boys would continue the hike and when they got back to the car, they'd come pick us up.

Sounds good.

But it wasn't. The trail signs had apparently been redone since the website we used had been updated. The red and white signs we had been following turned into more of a 3-4 hour hike, and ended right near Yokneam. No.Where.Near.The.Car.

It was getting later on Friday afternoon. Our Shabbat guest texted me that she was waiting outside my house. The girls and I were ok, we were in the shade, and I had been stretching our water. Michael and the boys, however, were dehydrated and exhausted. They had run out of water. We decided they needed to either get a ride back to the car, or get a cab.

We tried to call a few people in the area, to see if anyone had 20 min to help Michael and the boys get back to the car, but we were out of luck.

Eventually, Michael flagged down a taxi, and 50 shekels and 30 min later (they had to stop for a bicycle race on the road), they got back to the car.

And picked us up. And we got home 55 min before sunset.

And. well. sigh.

It was a day I won't forget. At least all the cooking was done in advance!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Swimming hole!

When I was a kid, my siblings and I always went swimming at our local JCC, until we moved and my family didn't join the JCC in the new location. I think that coincided with the year I became a Bat Mitzvah and mixed swimming became a non-option anyway.

We had a pool in our backyard in Florida, and my kids miss it. There is a pool in our local town, but membership for the summer was over 1000 shekel, and I just couldn't fathom laying out that kind of money to take my kids to an overcrowded pool with no separate hours. And the beach is fun, but no place for kids to actually swim!

So my kids are completely out of practice! We've been talking about finding our way to one of the numerous "maayanot" and natural swimming holes in the area, but all summer long we were warned of crowds and shmutz and experiences that turned out to be NO fun at all. But we really wanted to get the kids in the water where they could swim a bit.

We waited until the day before the mainstream world sends their kids back to school, figuring most of the vacationers had left the area, and the local swimming holes would be less crowded and more fun.

We thought we would go to Maayan Charud, but for some reason, google maps' directions were all wrong. We stopped in at a gas station and the kippah-wearing attendant recommended Ayn Moda, which was just a short drive away. He said that he heard Charud was pretty dry anyhow, and that Ayn Moda was really great and shady and free... So we followed his directions, traveling on dusty agricultural roads until we found the back entrance to Park Hamaayanot, where Ayn Moda is just a short walk from the parking area.

First impression: we were the only Jewish family there.

This came as somewhat a surprise. But then we reflected upon all the cultural differences between us and our cousins, and we realized that most likely the Jewish families buy country club memberships and the Arab families don't. We can't afford a country club membership, so we tried out the swimming hole.

(As time went on, a few other Jewish families did show up, but a couple of the Arab women were so surprised by our English speaking that they hung out near us the whole time. They were fascinated with my 4 year old - we seemed to be the highlight of their day! )

Second impression: Water flowing from underground springs can be COLD even when it is over 40 degrees Celsius outside! The water was shockingly chilly when we dipped in. My kids overcame the cold and swam around and played. I couldn't get over the fact that those rocks on the bottom were KILLING my feet. And I was just dipping in to get wet, and play a little. I had no plans to do laps wearing my mitpachat and glasses (I am nearly blind without my glasses, so taking them off for a swim doesn't make me feel safe)...

So, I don't know whether or not we'll go back to the swimming hole. My guess is we will, but we'll get better equipped first.

If you plan to go to a swimming hole and are not the rough outdoorsy type, make sure you are wearing good water shoes. Also be aware that there is no ladder in and out like a pool, so you will need to hoist yourself out, and lift your kids out too. And be prepared for chilly water.

And then, have lots and lots of fun!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Everyone heard about the El Al fare glitch on Expedia, Cheaptickets, and more today, right? In case you haven't, here's the recap:

For a few short hours, round trip tickets with a stopover in Paris or Zurich from N. American cities to Tel Aviv, on El Al, were selling for $350 - $450 TOTAL.

I checked if it was also working for the other direction (originating in Tel Aviv). It wasn't.

But for a few minutes there, while I was frantically emailing and Facebooking all my loved ones in the NY area, I thought I'd be getting some visitors this winter. I mean, really, who could pass up that price, EVEN if it means you have to deal with a stopover in Europe for a few hours?!

After all, Europe is not Istanbul.

Yes, we once had a stopover in Istanbul. The biggest nightmare of a trip, I think, because we really were not supposed to stop in Istanbul... It's a long story, and I'll tell it to you another day, once I get over my PTSD from it, ok? It was only about 3 years ago; in another 10 years or so I'll be good to go, ok?

Anyhow, I was daydreaming about all of our family and friends finding ways to visit us. I told them all it was time to make a pilot trip... you know, plan their Aliyah...

But it wasn't meant to be.
All good daydreams must end.

Miss you all! Please come visit! The next time there is an airfare glitch can you PLEASE be available to buy some tickets?!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Laundry after the 9 Days

I have an unusual laundry set up for Israel. We actually have our laundry room in the basement, and we have a laundry chute! We just open the door of the chute and dump the laundry down and promptly forget about it. At least, that's what we did during the 9 Days.

So now the laundry room looks like this:

It also looks like SOME people have decided that various boxes, and yes, even Tonka trucks belong in the laundry. If I find those things in the washing machine, I bet you'll hear about it!!
Are you wondering, as I am, just how long it will take to sort out that laundry into manage-able piles about the size of a load?

 Or perhaps you wonder, as I do, exactly how many times I will be loading up my trusty washing machine this week?
 Or maybe you want to know who is going to hang it all to dry, shlep it back inside after, and then fold it?

 So many laundry questions to ponder...

During the rest of the year, I usually go down there every couple of days to "check" on the laundry. We have a 10 kg washing machine (Love it!) and I like to run full loads. So when I have enough for a load of laundry, in it goes, and then I hang it on my drying racks. This house did not come equipped with a clothesline, but luckily we purchased these awesome, handy-dandy folding drying racks with tons of space and stowed them on our lift.

They look a lot like this, only we actually purchased them at Ikea. (Sorry, the current Ikea catalog does not seem to include them. So, Israelis, you may be out of luck. But those of you in America can  just order them - free delivery - from Amazon , and you'll be air drying your clothes in no time, whether or not you have a clothesline!

Have I mentioned that air drying our clothes helps keep our electric bill down? I won't say manageable, because it's all relative. We started air drying clothing when we live in Florida, and got the shock of our first electric bill there in the summer. It was either give up A/C or give up the dryer. We gave up the dryer, and I don't really miss it!  Try it out, let me know  if you've considered giving up your dryer...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homeschooling Fun!

I was so happy to be able to host a homeschoolers' get together today at my house!

We had kids playing with cars, trains, dolls, puzzles, computer programming, softball practice, cartwheeling, jumping rope, running in the grass, and perler bead making. (I'm sure I missed a few of the activities that took place, but that should give you an idea of what it was like around here.)

It was busy, rowdy, and lots of fun! (And everyone was happy. Imagine that!) I love that we can have kids over ranging in age from about 1 to about 14, and everyone finds something to do!

We also had some eating. At the last minute, I made up a recipe for Raisin-Bran Cake. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A day off...

Today we ventured out of our little piece of Israel, and we went to the center of the country. We played in a Eucalyptus grove at the Mekorot Hayarkon, but since it was so hot (but surprisingly less humid there than home! Who would've thought?), we ended up finding a water fountain and spraying water all over each other. It turned into a soaking wet, fun time. And I only felt a little guilty about using the extra water!

Then we went to visit my aunt and uncle in Hod Hasharon. Sometimes you just need to see family in order to feel anchored. The kids love going there, it's like having another Saba and Savta who spoil them! And honestly, it was really great for us adults too. It's nice to spend time with family, I highly recommend it to everyone!

We always will do things differently, but there is no denying that we come from the same family! I can't help but see bits of *my* grandparents in my aunt, and bits of my mother too. Makes me feel all happy/sad.

A little homesick and missing those not with us and those no longer with us, but also anchored to family in the here and now...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I am one of those people who wheezes and coughs and cannot breathe around chemical scents. Lucky me.

Everywhere I go, some man is doused in strong cologne. Some woman is wearing too much perfume. Someone or two or three are smoking cigarettes. Someone poured half a bottle of fabric softener in their wash. The bathroom was sprayed with chemicals. The floor cleaners are sickening chemicals, EVEN at the organic restaurant we once ate at for the NBN Go North dinner, I nearly died of chemical overload in their bathroom! (Okay, so perhaps that is an exaggeration, but that's how I felt at the time!)

This country has majorly assaulted my system. As a result, I spent the first year after we arrived struggling to get my asthma under control. And the second year? Well, I can usually breathe, but I have definitely had some health issues - evidence that my immune system is most likely out of balance.

So today I read about scent-producing food packaging that is about to be introduced in the USA. And I sincerely hope this technology never makes its way to Israel! Please, please, Israel, have some pity on those of us who struggle with synthetic fragrances.

A while back, I heard about an initiative to make it illegal for government workers in New Hampshire to wear scents to work, so they do not cause health problems for people like me. Right now, I'd settle for getting rid of smoking in public, for real. Then I'd love to tackle the perfumes and chemicals! (FWIW, my town's government has agreed to replace chemical cleaners with eco-friendly ones in all the town's public places. This makes me so much happier!)...

What do you think about scents and scentsitivities? Are you also a sufferer?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival

This is my very first time hosting the Heveil Havalim Jewish Blog Carnival, and I'm really happy to have been given an opportunity to do so!

It was great! I even had to make time to read blogs I've never seen before, or rarely have time to read. After all, I'm a busy homeschooling mom!

So here goes!

Haveil Havalim #362

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and jointly coordinated through our Facebook GroupThe term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means"Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Here is this week's roundup, sorry it's a day late!

Batya gives a synopsis of the Jonathan Pollard issue, and describes what she thinks will be the outcome, in Obama's "Pollard Card"

Esser Agaroth writes about being a "real" Yerushalmi: You Know You're a Yerushalmi When...

Rickismom writes about the effects of our actions in Ripple Effect

Rickismom also writes about spicy foods and second helpings in Brownie Points

Batya writes about kosher palm oil, noting that much of it is coming from countries that boycott Israel! (She questions its health merits, as well. I will say that some types of palm oil are healthy. You just have to know whether you are buying palm FRUIT oil, or palm kernel oil - palm fruit oil is ok, but palm kernel oil will kill you!) Kashrut Politics, Not Very Kosher and Not Always Healthy

Susan writes out her thoughts after being a shomeret for a met: My First Experience of Shmirah

Rivkah writes about saying Yizkor on Shavuot, and how that opened up a deeper connection to her family's past: My Father Sent Me

Susan writes about making sure she is doing justice for the needy people in her town: Overthinking Tzedakah:

Sharon A. writes about a changing city of Jerusalem, with pictures and all -  in Jerusalem, Past and Future

Batya writes her insights into Shavuot and the Jewish people's acceptance of the Torah: Naaseh v'Nishma

Miriam writes about being a grandparent, and her moderated grandparents' group in Grandparents Are Special Invitation...

Last, I wrote about growing even from things we don't understand: Growing

Next week will be hosted by A Soldier's Mother.  You may submit your posts to her directly at  I recommend that you give our on-line submission form a shot first, so that we can get in the habit of using it.

Would you like to host?  Would you like to connect with fellow bloggers and fans?  Join our Haveil Havalim Facebook Group!


We have been only somewhat following the news in the last few weeks, but not all of the news coming out of our area has been good. There were some local violent crimes, a car crash that killed nearly an entire family (on a very familiar stretch of road), and an elderly tourist who became confused, presumably got lost, and was found dead.

I am not going to try to discover the reason for any of these things. The people who try to interpret current events as direct messages from Hashem, that they have been uniquely blessed to uncover, are doing enough of that. More than enough of that.

All I can say is, that we can never understand the ways of Hashem. Telling people that the such-and-such a tragedy happened because we use the internet (or whatnot), is completely beyond the pale. Who are we to claim such intimate knowledge of the workings of Hashem?

No one, no one, will ever understand.

But we should grieve along with a little girl, we should show we care to a grieving tourist who lost her husband...  we all can pull together just a little more and make ourselves and our nation a little stronger. No blaming, no finger pointing. Just growing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Missing: Used Bookstore

Anyone know of any decent secondhand bookshops in Yoqneam, Kiryat Tivon, Migdal Ha'Emek, or Afula?

I just ordered this book as a surprise for my daughter - Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth

But it would be so much more gratifying to take her to a bookstore with a great English language selection (yes, she is still more comfortable reading in English. She can read in Hebrew, but not as well as English), of preferably affordable, second hand books and let her eyes get all wide and big, and let her excitedly pick out one or two new-to-her books! I guess it would be great to let ALL my kids do that, as we used to when we lived in Florida. We spent many, many hours, the 4 of them and me, looking through shelves and shelves (and bins, too) of second hand books. Usually ranging in price from 10 cents to $2.

I miss that so much.

So if anyone has a secret, super affordable, second-hand book shop within a half-hour of my house, PLEASE tell me about it...

In the meantime, we're making do with online shopping. Our favorites are and (both offer free shipping worldwide) (use code STARTSUMMER12 for 20% 3 or more used books at BWB!)
Check them out:


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