Best 6th birthday party idea ever: Go take a hike!

tiyul partyWe brought you superhero explorers… we brought you dinosaur adventures… this year, it was a birthday party on a hike. And this was by far the easiest and best and most all-around enjoyable birthday party that we’ve done so far.

We are fortunate to live within a nature area, and in our town itself, right in the center, is a valley with a hiking path through it and a beautiful park at the top. So we planned that Koala could pick 3-4 friends, and, along with his sisters and parents, do a hike from the bottom – starting with lunch at the horse farm – up to the top, ending with cake at the flower park.

Turns out I prepared more activities than were necessary, which I’m more than happy to not have done. The central focus was on the scavenger hunt and the hike itself. Here’s what I prepped:

  • Equipment: Each kid brought their own hat and empty backpack, and I filled them with a bottle of water, a packet of homemade trail mix, and a magnifying glass. 
  • Scavenger hunt: Everyone got a ‘guide’ with pictures of things to find on the way. Bugs, birds, flowers, other bits and pieces. Each kid also got stickers, so they could mark each item they found. Turns out we found those items, and more, and this was the most engaging bit. 
  • S’mores! Since we weren’t building a fire, and we’re also not in s’more country, I hacked it by bringing tea biscuits, marshmallows, and chocolate spread. I explained to the kids about s’mores, they all stared at me, and stuffed their faces. 
  • Nature tape bracelets: I had actually prepared for two ‘artsy’ projects for the end of the trail, but the ‘rubbing tree bark’ with crayons and paper didn’t really work out. What was cool was the nature tape bracelets – we stuck packing tape around the kids’ wrists, with the sticky side up, and they went around collecting flower pedals, small rocks, dirt, and let’s face it, hilarious forms of garbage, to stick on their ‘bracelet’. 

The best part about a format like this is to leave room for surprises along the way –

I think the keys to this for us were:

  • Keep it small. Realizing over the years my son has a harder time being the center of attention in large groups, letting him choose 3-4 friends created a situation with good chemistry and less pressure. Also, for a hike with two adults, the amount of kids to look after was perfect.
  • Keep it comfortable. Everyone had their own water and trail mix for whenever they needed, and we made plenty of water stops. The s’mores were the biggest stop on the way, and light enough not to ruin the mood for cake at the very end.
  • Keep it simple. I worried we’d speed through the trail and get to the park too quickly, but I must have completely forgotten that kids age 4-6 years old will stop and stare at EVERYTHING. It was a great amount of time to be out.

We had a great time, and came home to no mess in the house (well, except the usual). I highly recommend the same for your own spring/fall babies!

Fifty-Two Frames: Natural.

I wanted to put some effort into this but I’m so surrounded by nature here that I didn’t know where to start. So I took Koala out, promising him a nature walk.

He wanted to stay near our building and watch a moving truck get loaded. I suppose that’s only… natural.

But I got him to the forest across the street from our place and snapped pictures while he walked around and touched things. He was b’helem over the vast sea of pine needles we found ourselves stepping in.

And he shared every one of his new kotzim with me.

Week 30: Natural

Nature’s toy store.

The Tzur Hadassah contrast.

I live in a beautiful nature park-slash-construction zone.

Pretty sure that at any given time in the last year there are around a dozen construction sites within our town. The flagship of Tzur Hadassah construction would be the megatron community center/school district being built in the center, towards the valley. Har Kitron is good for a housing project or six. Shchunat HaMe’ah just finished a big sidewalk fix and has a couple other things that have been going on. The new park on the main road. The area just before the west gate. Behind the supermarket. And so on…

My only hope is that the areas meant to be preserved as nature zones truly remain that way.

Tzur Hadassah: under construction, naturally.

I live here.

Loving the weather. On my walk today, I literally went off the beaten track and decided to do what I’ve been wanting to do for months. I turned into the valley here in Tzur Hadassah and walked through our local nature zone.
The grass is *spectacular* because of all the rain we’ve been getting. Lush, green, looks even… edible.
So dorky me is walking through the grassy mud, goofy and taking it all in, the sun in my face, the grass under my feet, loving it like a puppy…
…and then…
I hiked down the steep security road…
grazing in the grass
like magic.
Just needed a leprechaun and the Last Unicorn. Fantasy complete.

Israel: Environmentally-encouraging?

Posted under a day ago, Israeli dude Evgeny Vainshtok Broitman shared a shameful scene he witnessed at יער הנשיא, a park off the 44 and 38, near Beit Shemesh. And while the crime is so disgusting, the fact that Evgeny decided to take the perpetrator up on it means there’s hope.

Apparently this guy proposed to his girlfriend at the park, using balloons, confetti, and paper signs. Either she said yes and then they fled the scene, or she said no and he burst into an angry storm of messing with nature and not cleaning up afterwards.

Either way, what Garbage McLitterface left behind is disgusting. People like that should be banned from public parks.

The story has already been shared over 1000 times through Facebook in 15 hours. People really seem to care. That’s encouraging. I wouldn’t call us Israelis environmentally-friendly yet, but I wonder if with some strong people power, we can get there. And chances are, the dude, even if he does realize he’s outed, that he won’t care. Fine. But again, the people power – that’s environmentally-encouraging.

We did my daughter’s Simchat Bat at Park Begin, outside Tzur Hadassah, and it was a bit littered when we got there, as is normal here, but when we left, we were sure to pack the garbage bags we brought and then dump them in the dumpster – 10 feet away. Sometimes it’s that easy, fellow Israelis.

Share the story with your friends in Israel and let’s see if this guy ever feels any shame.

UPDATE: The couple responds… especially after the story was posted in Ynet, NRG and Walla – ha!

They stated that it was too dark to clean up afterwards, and the guy who found it the next day acted really fast but they were meant to go back and clean it up in the morning.

KKL also put out a statement about the incident, considering they sent a team to do the cleanup.

For purple mountain majesties…

The following are 1/10 the amount of photos I took in the last 48 hours I’ve been in Colorado visiting family.

It was hard to pick out just ten, and even that is a ridiculous amount to post. But guess what? The Colorado Rockies are breathtaking and I’m a country girl now. Ok, the Judean Hills are not exactly breathtaking… Which is all the more reason my 12,000+ mile climb into the mountain range was so incredibly cool.

The road ahead… is long and winding.

On the way up, past a lake.

That’s a whole lotta trees… Jerusalem forest pales…

The ultimate view. A little bit of everything.

This kid actually scurried by, posed, and ran off with his friends.

This was over 12,000 feet up,

What a palette.

A rocky view of Rockies.

Do not mess with this guy on the side of the road.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado: Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining.