Sukkot on the Farm, take II

Every night before Z goes to sleep, she says “nah…….nah, no more nana…. all gone, coff….ee, bweakeeee, chect soo midits, why-ya toes see you way up.”  Which means “Nahnah coffee breaky check two minutes laila tov see you when you wake up.”

And then first thing every morning, she gets to make M coffee.

163 165 168 174

Note that her job stops before the hot water is poured.

I promised Sukkot on the Farm. Ok, here’s the backstory: Z, two years ago, after not sleeping all night.

And me, same morning. (For a thorough review of this experience two years ago, please see here.)

Now, fast forward two years.  Happy, rested children. Happy, rested grownups.  Yay!




We still have our Monstrosity tent, which has plenty of room. This fact does not turn squirmy sleepers into non squirmy sleepers, so here you can see Z, who started on her blanket made by her Aunt Margie, with her head near N’s, sleeping on N’s feet.



This year, as last, Wilderness Torah had lots going on. N and H were off running with other kids, making friends, dressing up, playing, picking strawberries, carrying flags, chatting with adults, bobbing for apples, making cider and/or grape juice, making challah, and more that I can’t remember. N ran up to me and M at one point, while we were sitting by the tent just hanging out, raised her arms and said



“I’m having the best time ever!”  Then she grinned,


and ran off.

We (grownups) got to learn about Shmita, which is the biblical custom that every seven years the land gets a year of rest, a Shabbat of its own, and other things happen, like debts are forgiven.  We looked at some Torah and discussed this, and how it is or can be applicable today.  Sounds like no one (even in Israel) still does this, and we talked about how this could even look these days, and how it would effect the livelihood of farmers, etc. I have never learned about Shmita before, so it was a nice introduction.  We also had lots of options, including making a lulav out of local materials, scavenger hunt, more learning, tefilah, yoga, hikes, doing nothing, and hanging out.


There was way more of a family presence this year than the last time we were there. And so many friendly people, it was crazy. Even right when we got there, some random person offered to help us unload our stuff.  M tried to demur, but I said yes, please we’d love help! So she helped set up the tent, and while she was doing that, turns out she likes kids (in the wow, these are interesting little people that seem fun to talk to, not the “OMG they’re so cute giggle giggle” way). So she ended up going off with N and Z so M and I could set everything up. Not only was that insanely helpful to us, it also helped N just fall into feeling right at home there. She and H ended up going on a hike with this same person, L, the next day. I had thought they were going on a 20 minute thing, but they hiked up a big mountain and were gone for a few hours, taking another four year old friend with them.

080 072

When it was time for something to happen, someone would call any kids who wanted to go run around the festival with big flags, letting people know it was time to do whatever it was (eat, tribe meeting, Kabbalat Shabbat, etc).


Strangely, H wore shoes almost the whole time we were there. Once N discovered she really was allowed to be barefoot, I think she lost her shoes for the rest of festival. She was in heaven, dirty stinky black feet!

Here you can see a layout of part of the festival on the farm.



There is a huge sukkah, for meals, or if you like doing yoga in the mornings, or for services, or for singing, or for hanging out, or for sleeping. Beyond that, they have dish stuff.  You are responsible for bringing your own dishes. They provide breakfast and dinner every day (and they don’t cook on Shabbat), vegetarian, and snacks are always out. You are responsible for bringing your own stuff for lunch. They have bins out to rinse, wash, rinse, and sanitize your dishes, and then lots of drying racks. Oh, and they also have strong coffee.  But it has never been made and available early enough. Maybe we can volunteer Z’s services next year to make that happen…

Conclusions? Camping was not the most brilliant idea for us two years ago. This high-fallutin style (with an air mattress and meals cooked for us) is the way to go now!

Then, back at home…

It was evening, it was morning.



First, smell the etrog,

260 254 258


then you shake shake shake!

231 242 187

Here are the kids in clothes that used to belong to me and/or my sibling and/or my 20-something year old cousins. Bring back memories for any of you?



And lastly, one contemplative silhouette. At the airport.


Homemade loveys, Cartagena, and Tashlich

So, since last time, M and I went to Colombia (that’s right, not the university in NY that my parents somewhat recently said goodbye to without a backward glance, but the country that used to be famous for drugs), leaving the kids for a week with a trusted friend, H broke her arm before we had been gone more than 36 hours, said trusted friend of course dealt with the situation with grace and style, as did H and her sisters, we have had 10 million Jewish holidays, kids have all started school, and we got to do Sukkot on the Farm with no babies!


This here is H’s broken arm on one side, and her lovey (that she made almost entirely herself!) on the other.

Below is Nitzi’s (lovey, not arm).


As for Colombia, I kept a pretty detailed account of our trip. I won’t post it here, but if you’d like to read it, please let me know and I’ll make that happen. Special thanks to Sally for being on the receiving end of my trip thoughts and reactions. In short, it was super fun and exciting. We met some very interesting people, got to practice lots of Spanish, learned a lot about the way of life there, managed to get off the tourist path (despite many well-meaning people’s best efforts), and had a vacation! Also, M dressed up and gave a talk about why his company is successful. Here’s proof that he cleans up well:


Some pictures from our exploration of the cuevas de manglar, or mangroves.




And the market, which we were warned many many times was dangerous, but wasn’t actually dangerous at all. Except that you could slip.

622 617614


We also spent some time in Getsemani, an area that was until recently pretty seedy and is now on the fast road to becoming gentrified. There is a vibrant art scene there, a lot of it trying to preserve the history, almost all of it political. We saw some of the murals and graffiti that abounds. Here is a taste.

603 606 585 586 590576578565575

Okay, a bit of a large taste. And a beautiful storm, scary to 50% of us.

539 514

And we have a first day of school H, here. The night before school started she asked M to shave her head. Almost.

100 069


(that was us, still on vacation)

We decided to forgo (total aside here, if you want to know the difference between forego and forgo, click here) any sort of synagogue this Rosh HaShanah, and did our own thing, hiking down to the river and cleaning our slates there. (Craig, this look familiar at all?!)

011 025 031 037 053 059 101065


Then, on the way back H helped N cross the river,


and then somehow, N turned into a statue, and so H had to carry “her statue” up the mountain. And if you want to know about that steep mountain, just ask my friend Craig. But H insisted her statue had not yet learned how to walk uphill, so carrying her was the only option.

187 164 167 172

I’m learning that I like the holidays better when I do them my way/our way, which does not always coincide with the traditional way.

And if the rabbit doesn’t eat its toes before the weasel runs to get cheese, next time I will tell you all about Sukkot and the awesomeness we got to have.


*us again*

What has been new with us, you ask? Summer, vacation, sleepaways, sleepovers, drawing, taping, stapling, running, gardening, camp, water parks, friends visiting, visiting family, family visiting, and staying up late over and over (and over).

Energetic, hungry, growing kids. Not-quite-as-tired-anymore adults, our CSA in full swing, running, racing, swimming. And cooking. Always lots of cooking. Oh, and arguing, debating, deciding, sharing, and hugging.

That’s in a nutshell.  The rest is just pictures and details.

We went to the Berkeley kite festival this year. Stayed right on the marina (in a hotel), and got to enjoy the kite festival both days, including the morning after the first day, when we went on a walk. This led to the kids finding a kite that had flown/been thrown/or otherwise made it into the water.  They climbed down the bank, spent some serious time planning their strategy, and then rescued the kite, getting marina mud all over them in the process. Undeterred, they figured out a way to make the kite fly, finding discarded string on the lawn, connecting it, and…




You can’t really see the pride on her face in these pictures, but you can read it in her body.

A few weeks before this, the two big ones went with M to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to have a sleepover. They got the place after hours, all to themselves (with a few hundred other people doing the same thing). Music, late night cookies, and sleeping bags in front of the marinelife. Apparently the tour guide liked them, so he showed them the prime sleeping spot.



Zoom forward to about two weeks ago. A quick head popping in “Can we use face paint?” A quick nod, and then, after giggles coming from the bathroom, about 30-40 minutes later, out came this:



(In case you can’t tell, they actually took the pants off of Raggedy Ann to put right on Nitzi. Then painted the rest of her legs white. Not sure why the black neck. And below, we have the proud artist, holding her work of art and her inspiration.





Then, of course, this had to follow.


More kite festival.




And family time. We got to see cousins on one side,


and more on the other.



Here is H climbing a tree that used to be M’s tree. In L.A. We also got to eat kumquats from the tree outside his old bedroom window.


And see the grandparents for a really nice visit.







And some bouncing shenanigans to make you smile.  And if the giraffes don’t lose their patches before the sun rises, maybe next time I’ll tell you about the blueberry jam M is making.





Oh yeah

And I forgot to mention that this happened:




s’more morsels

Here, see some pictures. Tonya and Farley were here. Purim happened.  Sisterly love happened. Lots of other stuff happened, not all of which was caught on camera. Oh, Z turned 2. And Adam was here, too.  For some reason, all the kids seemed to associate Uncle Adam with walking on the ceiling.  So, naturally, being the fabulous uncle that he is, they were indulged.




121-001 180-001 178-001 109-001 087-001 387-001

027-001 015-001 013-001 012-001


Can you tell how excited Z is about this cake/brownie thing? Did I mention this happened at 7am? Her birthday fell on the day I was teaching until 8pm (about the Holocaust) and the night M got to go see David Sibley (of Sibley’s bird guide) speak at the local bookstore.  The only option was pre-school birthday fun.  Then there were the presents.  The day before, her sisters shut themselves in their room for about an hour, at about 6am, with inklings of giggles and ripping tape and paper being torn. (Like the ode to Santa?)  Z got repurposed gifts and couldn’t have been happier.




The birthday hat, not so much.






I love this picture, because it’s funny, when you look at H and Z.  And then you peek over at N, and it’s hilarious.





You know you’re hardcore when you can read not one but two books by Paul Galdone simultaneously.  Mmm hmmm, yep.  That’s right.

N ran another 1k today. H opted out so that she could run her very first 5k with me! It was a beautiful run and really fun to run/walk with her. She started out strong but not too fast, and was really good at listening to her body and knowing when she should walk for a bit.  She finished in 40:17 (I think) and was proud as a peacock. (Not really. She was actually tired. Until M told her he’d take her to the pool, and then she perked right up.)  We didn’t think it made sense that the race powers that be thought there should be 5 year age groups 14 and up, and then lump everyone under 14 into one category.  Umm, hello?!

Okay, for those of you who like lots of pictures and few words, you’re in luck today, because I’m not feeling wordy.

Last ones, back from when we still knew what rain was …

100 071 075 083