It's an interesting thing - this religious vacationing. Most people plan out their vacation time and go somewhere with their families when they take time off. Since we center our vacation time around holidays, and we want to spend those holidays with friends in our yishuv, we tend to spend most of our vacation time at home. I think this is a very unusual way to spend vacation time, and one that poses a challenge at times.
And yet, when our vacation ends, I'm always amazed by how much fun we had at home and how much the kids got out of their time - without going away.
During Pesach, we were busy every single day and had a wonderful time. The first day after seder and chag, Josh took the three older boys on a camping trip.
This was the first time that Amichai, at 5, was invited along, and he was very excited to be part of the mix. They camped in a beautiful location right on the beach and enjoyed some great hikes.
While they were gone, I took the two little guys, and my in-laws, to the petting zoo in the yishuv next to our house. They provide guided tours there where they show the children all of the animals and talk about interesting things about the various camels, horses, turtles, rabbits, birds and more. Eliav wanted to go horseback riding while we were there. At three, he isn't the most adventurous child, and I was positive that he was going to put the riding hat on, climb on top of the horse, and scream to get him off! I was all prepared - but he actually went ahead and rode around the stable a few times. We were all so proud of him - and he talked about the horseback riding the entire week.
Another day we all went to the zoo and we spent a third day at a great park. A different day the boys had a great time riding bikes with their grandfather, especially since Matan and Amichai both got new bikes recently.
We learned of an incredible bird sanctuary right in the heart of Jerusalem across the street from the Knesset and went there one day to learn about and watch bird tagging. Finally, on the last day, everyone went to the beach and had a blast swimming, sunning and playing.
On the chag days, we were invited out to many different houses and we had a great time seeing our friends, enjoying meals together, and watching the kids play in the streets all afternoon.
Each night, the boys would stay up late watching a new movie with their grandparents or playing a game and enjoying the chance to be night owls. And then they'd wake up late (well, a few of them would anyway) and ask what the day's adventures would be.
I was sad to see everyone go back to school, and not only because I had to return to work. I enjoy giving the kids a chance to relax and to stay up late. With school six days a week, there is very little time to relax and enjoy their evenings without worrying about homework, deadlines, karate lessons, and more.
What a gift to have the chance to relax - and to learn to do so right in our very own home together!