On Wednesday morning, we eagerly awaited the arrival of Donny's mother, who is here for Sukkot, staying with Yael, Yossie, and Hanani. They all came over in the morning which was very exciting since we had not seen them since our arrival in the Holy Land. We cleaned up in preparation, and now we are 99% through with the unpacking and organizing. We also prepared a delicious meal of shehakol foods since we don't have a sukkah. Eggs, rice cakes, chocolate spread, salad, chummus, coffee and ice cream - nothing like some good achilas aray. We all hung out for a while, and then decided to "go somewhere." Donny took out his map and looked for "green." We used to do this in New York all the time - take out our awesome 75-mile radius map, find green, drive to it, and hang out. In Israel, it's a little more risky to just drive to a random patch of green; in New York, there wasn't really a fear of losing your life. But this park, called Park Ayalon, seemed like a safe bet. It was between Modi'in and Bet Shemesh. We drove into the park, and kept driving down the park road. The Blochs eventually just turned around and went back, because Hanani was not so happy with all the driving around in the car. So we were left by ourselves. However, the park we found was awesome! There were all kinds of fruit trees - figs, olives, almond, carob aka "buxor" (and in case you're wondering, the buxor you get in those Tu B'Shvat packages that's all dried out and chewy - it's not their fault - it actually grows on the tree all dried out and chewy.) It was really cool - we ate some fresh figs, Donny showed the kids how to get olive oil out of an olive, and how almonds can turn to cyanide (don't worry, we didn't eat those.) We also found a huge aravah tree. We had a great time climbing around, exploring, and the kids were in heaven. We finally stopped at a path with a ton of rocks, and Ariella and Yaakov spent close to an hour playing with rocks - throwing them (mostly not at each other), piling them, pushing them down a hole, putting them in Crocs (that was Yaakov), and then shaking them out a la the Man in Black. Ariella picked up a rock and uncovered an ant colony (or ant comedy, as she called it. "So this ant, termite, and mosquito walk into a bar..."). They actually didn't want to leave, but by 4:00 it was starting to get dark and chilly so we headed back. We also lucked out because it had been rainy in the morning, and so even when the sun came out in the afternoon, it wasn't too hot. We drove back into Modi'in and went out looking for a restaurant with a sukkah. We ended up at Big Apple Pizza, which had an excellent sukkah and even more excellent pizza. "Pizza" here does does automatically mean "french fries" - I think "fries" generally come along with meat restaurants - which means that the kids didn't fill up on fries and actually ate a lot of pizza. Then we went looking for an ice cream store, were unsuccessful, and instead went to a supermarket and found ice pops, because the kids had been promised ice cream and darn it if they weren't going to get some! So all in all a very successful first day of chol hamoed.