Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Raizel Story

I took Raizel shopping with me after an afternoon when she had been supremely sweet and helpful.

Checker, to Raizel: I have a daughter about your age. How old are you?

Raizel, with all the pluck she could gather: Seventeen!

Everyone in line burst out laughing, because you could tell by the way she said it that she does indeed at times behave like a 17-year-old trapped in the body of a 7-year-old.

Then the checker said that she must be going into second grade. "No, third," I corrected her. "Oh, wait, yes, 2nd, no 3rd. Oh, no, 2nd. That's right." Real homeschool mom speak. Most of her books are third grade books, but I usually just respond with the age-appropriate grade. And I really have drifted very far away from thinking in terms of what grade they are in. They're just doing the next thing they are ready for, and I also know there are (BE"H) no areas that cause concern. So, I don't know what the checker thought of that, but hopefully she just chalked it up to mommy brain!


Summer is zooming by in a half-hearted garden, summer camp in Atlanta, heat and sweat, chemistry experiments, sign language, packing and unpacking and repacking, decluttering, teaching one kid to knit, Anne of Green Gables and of Avonlea, piles of weeds, quail and chicken eggs, Big Band music (Eli's new favorite), sea shanties (Amirah's favorite), hairdos (Raizel's favorite), playground acts of derringdo (Avi's favorite), rollerskating (Eli's least favorite), 2-1/2 noses buried in books, beach trips, loads of morning snuggles, fulltime hammock sleeping (mama's favorite), air force museum camp to come (Eli), making new friends (yay, P family!), camping to come (Vogel State Park), preparing a new learning year (hours poured into ancient history, especially), and sleeping! I just can't figure out why I still feel so busy doing 3-4 things a day instead of 20. The same jobs are still hard to get to. I guees what I love most comes first! And mazal tov to anyone who is actually reading this after months of neglect!

On the docket for tomorrow - breakfast, $1 movie, lunch, laundry put away, library, pick up DH at work, chicken for dinner, prepare for camping trip (w/o DH again... Hopefully next trip!), and SLEEP!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Menu

Well, my renewed commitment didn't really amount to much, did it? Between learning with the kids all day, making dinner and doing chores in the early evening, and getting ready for the next day after the kids are in bed by 10:00 doesn't really leave much wiggle room. Phew! I imagine next year will amount to pretty much the same, with Amirah needing my guidance a little less, and Avi coming along and needing me more.  I need to strategize ways to have Amirah, Eli, and Raizel doing learning activities with their younger siblings to free up a small amount of my time to help them as needed. It's quite a tap dance, one for which my entusiasm has not waned one whit since we began. Exhausting and hard, but oh, so very rewarding!

So without further ado...


We're out. OUT. O-U-T. Out!!!

AND FOR LUNCH -21 people!

Roasted red pepper salad
Crunchy rosted chick peas (w/spicy berbere and without)
Gravlax w/sweet onions and capers
Adafina w/eggs, potatoes, and kishke
Polenta w/sun-dried tomatoes
Spaghetti w/meat sauce
Bread pudding w/rum sauce


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Menu

For dinner:

Lamb roast
Mushroom gravy
Mashed potatoes
Roasted cabbage
Roasted lemon zucchini
Carrot ginger puree
Spinach salad
Lemon bars

For lunch:

Homemade bagels (garlic and plain)
Homemade lox
Fixings: cream cheese, cukes, tomatoes, sweet onions
Curried carrot pear salad
Spinach salad
Fishless shuba
Apple tart
Vanilla ice cream


Okay, so I didn't do so well with posting about our week, but I'm determined to spend five minutes sharing SOMETHING!

Let's see...

Yesterday we finished reading aloud Caddie Woodlawn's Family. While this wasn't quite as good as Caddie Woodlawn, we enjoyed it. This sequel takes the focus off of Caddie and includes adventurous stories of her siblings. Very sweet. Now we've started Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliffe. It's about a shipwrecked Roman orphan baby that is rescued and adopted by a Celtic family. I've wanted to read some of Sutcliffe's books for a while now. We just read an excerpt in our grade 4 Writing with Ease book, and felt it would make an interesting readaloud.

What else? I pooped out on learning an hour early today, much to everyone's delight, and Amirah and I totally decluttered her room (one of my favorite things to do!). That was nice. Raizel blissfully hauled away her hand-me-down treasures.

I started 16 tomato starts today. Hoping our tomatoes will do better than last year...

There's my five minutes. Wish I could sound more energetic. Zzzzzzzzzzz...

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Menu

Yes, Friday's ten minutes will be devoted to the all-important shabbos menu.


Challah (experiment #7)
Matzo ball soup
Roasted asparagus
Baked potatoes w/pareve sour cream and green onions
Roasted chicken leg quarters
Roasted zucchini/carrots/onions
Sweet potato kugel
Brown rice
Raspberry chocolate brownies
Strawberry kiwi sorbet

Stovetop-smoked salmon
Raw vegetable tray
Spinach salad
Chopped liver
Veggies and dessert from dinner

Good shabbos, all. I can't believe how much I'm needing this one!

Long Time, No Blog

It seems that as soon as I got four full-time learners on board, my blogging time evaporated. But I want to blog for selfish reasons... I often refer back to this to see what materials we used for a particular subject, or what the recipe was for a certain item I made four years ago, or the name of a park we visited once when we first moved here. It's a sort of storage box for me. I didn't start up again, because there were so many things I wanted to make notes about, so many activities we've done that were great ideas, or meals we've eaten. It was overwhelming, and I couldn't bear to start putting it down on paper.

So, tonight, I decided to just pick up as if I'd been blogging all along, and to try to just do 5-10 minutes a day to jot down the highlights of our learning day. Today I just had to share what the best idea of the year has been so far!

I got each of the kids a 3-inch notebook, with 12 subject dividers.

Secular: penmanship, math, spelling, Writing With Ease, First Language Lessons, poetry, history, science


Kodesh: chumash, Chayeinu, Yahadus, Lashon Hatorah, tefillah, parsha, chagim, and other

Every Sunday, I put in any worksheets, charts, pictures, supplies (2-dimensional!), etc. that we'll need during the week. In the morning after breakfast and davening, they do as much work as they can do independently while I get a few things done around the house. At 11:00 or so, I'm available for answering questions, and doing a couple of the subjects that require my active involvement. After lunch, I have Avi, then alternate between Amirah and Eli/Raizel two times. They complete half the subjects they have left in each of their two turns, and VOILÁ! we're done.

For them, it's mostly grab-and-go, and for me I have one small shelf of books that accompany our lessons. Pretty efficient, and it has worked well for several months now.

So that's my promised 10 minutes, and it really seems to be all I have these days. But if I just do 10 minutes per day, it's a WHOLE lot more than I've been doing! :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Menu

I lost a couple of weeks there! Anyway... this week's menu:


roast chicken
asparagus w/preserved lemon and garlic
mashed potatoes
stewed tomatoes cabbage
sauteed mushrooms and onions
spinach salad
corn bread
Guiness stout cupcakes
honey cake


pickled herring
marinated olives
pickled radishes
arugula salad
corn bread
cheese quiche
spinach quiche
ice cream
broiled apricot tart w/pastry cream


Good shabbos, all!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Menu

Burned out on holiday menus, so these are the most bare bones shabbos meals I've probably ever had!

For dinner:

challah (from freezer!)
hamburgers (w/fancy fixings)
french fries
kids have popsicles - we're not ready for dessert yet after all those chagim!

For lunch:

beef stew
turkey sandwiches

Good shabbos!!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Menus

Yom tov, yom tov, yom tov. HAPPY SUKKOS!

For tonight:

chicken noodle soup
baked potatoes w/tofu sour cream and green onions
salad bar
pastry cream w/strawberries

For lunch tomorrow:

orange chicken
beef broccoli
fried won tons
ice cream

For dinner tomorrow:

tomato soup
macaroni and cheese
spinach souffle
salad bar
honey cake

For lunch tomorrow:
bean tacos w/all the fixings
cabbage lime slaw
Mexican rice
root beer floats


I think we'll make it! :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Menu

I think I missed a couple of weeks here. It's been a bit, er, hectic!

For tonight:

roast chicken
mango chutney and jalapeno pepper jelly
brown rice
mashed potatoes
mango slaw
zucchini w/preserved lemons
roasted cabbage
sweet and sour mushrooms
strawberry sorbet
angel food cake

And for lunch:

caesar salad
carrot salad
cauliflower salad
turkey deli sandwiches
veggies from dinner
honey cake and cake from guests!


Here is the poem that Amirah is submitting to the library's Young Writers Contest:

Blue butterfly in the tree,
Swaying gently in the breeze.
Horrible oops!
Raven swoops!
Wings fall, periwinkle blue,
Lying broken in the dew.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Menu

B"H I got most of the cooking done tonight since tomorrow the kids have a half-day marine science class. A few things left for tomorrow, but nothing too complicated.

For dinner:

crockpot chicken with preserved lemons and brown rice
mashed potatoes
roasted zucchini and mushrooms
roasted cauliflower
spinach salad
chocolate mousse

For lunch:

olive tapenade
beef shank stew
marinated mushrooms
baba ghanouj with preserved lemons
cucumber salad
fava bean tomato stew
arugula/candied walnut/cranberry salad
chocolate cake


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Studying at the Library

We had a great learning today, and tried something new. First, we took our lunch to the (hot) park after finishing our morning learning. The kids had lunch and ran around on their scooters for a little while. Then we headed over to the library. Upstairs, they have many study rooms that you can sign out. So we did! They walked us back to a corner that I never even knew existed - the Teen Book Room. Through that room we walked into another room with lovely, big tables, a dry erase board, huge windows with a pretty view, and great lighting. With three times the table space we have at home we could really spread out. The Teen Book Room had really comfortable big chairs and a "reading bar" (tall chairs at a high counter). No one was there, so I could send one or two kids out to read while I worked with the others. It was great. Very relaxing. Until Raizel took Avi to the nearby bathroom and he sang at the top of lungs the whole time he was inside (great acoustics) thereby "entertaining" the entire top (grownup) floor of the library. We had to have a good discussion about library behavior (again). He mostly managed pretty well. We got through our afternoon learning in 90 minutes. Pretty fast! I think it would be nice to do every Wednesday afternoon and combine it with our regular library outing. We'll see!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Menu

Just a few more minutes!

For dinner:

caesar salad
Mexican rice
refried (actually, crockpotted) beans
mashed potatoes (because DD cannot survive a shabbos w/o potatoes)
lime cilantro coleslaw

And for lunch:

exactly the same thing, but no chicken, and...

caldo de res (beef shank/butternut squash stew)
deli turkey meat


Sequential Spelling

We all love Sequential Spelling! I grudgingly did Spelling Workout all through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade with DD9. It just wasn't very inspiring and felt like a lot of busywork. The advantage was that I could just hand her the book and have her do most of the work independently. Spelling Workout requires more parent time, but the approach is so elegantly simple that I love doing it.

Each day in Sequential Spelling is simply a spelling "test." Over a couple of weeks the student builds up to 25 words per day on the "test." You just read the words (with a sentence for context), the student writes them down, you reveal the proper spelling for the word (explaining any phonics rules if needed), and if they wrote it down incorrectly, they immediately rewrite the word correctly. That's it! The first set of words is based on the phoneme "in." From there it goes to pin, tin, etc. Then sin, pin, spin, etc. By the end of week 1, the student can easily spell the word "beginning" because of the logical progression of the words. And the spellings really stick with them!

At first I had DD6, DS7, and DD9 all doing the program. (They recommend that no matter how far along you are in spelling it's best to start with book one.) DD6 was doing all right, but it took her a lot longer to write the words down. It works fine to have the other two kids together. At first I thought that I would just do the spelling lists separately with DD6, but in the end I decided to just start her with it in 2nd grade. She's doing Explode the Code and phonics lessons at the same time, so I think she doesn't really need to do spelling right now. I think spelling is really optional for first grade anyway. So, this is one of the big surprises for our learning year. I'm so happy we're all enjoying it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

NOT the Menu

It's been a long time since I blogged anything but menus, and it's been a long time since I had any time! The summer flew by. Now we're settling into our new learning schedule, and despite not being sure we could fit it all in (3 kids with 16 subjects, and 1 kid with 7) we're managing pretty well. Not many loose moments for me during the day (though there are for them).

The BEST change I made so far this year was to put ALL of their work into a single notebook for each kid. No fumbling for this book or that book, no fumbling for pencils. I took over 5 of the 6 drawers in the dining room sideboard and filled it with all of our supplies (pencils, paper, etc.). It's been nice having that right next to the table. It takes about an hour to get all the worksheets into their books each week, each into its own subject area. I also wrote a few household chores into the schedule for each of them so it's part of their normal daytime routine instead of us trying to get it all done at the end of the day.

We're finishing week number two, and it's all running pretty smoothly. Hoping everything continues to settle in and we can add in all the history and science I want to do. We've done about half of what I hope to get done, but it shouldn't be a problem fitting in the other half.

So much more to say about our learning, but the clock is ticking and I have a couple more things I'd like to get to before it's time for bed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Menu

Two shabbosim in Atlanta, with a wonderful camping trip to Unicoi State Park sandwiched in between made for a wonderful couple of weeks. Getting up at the crack of dawn Sunday meant that we were home before noon and by the end of the day everything was unpacked and ALL the laundry was done (!). Then I scrambled mightily to be (mostly) ready to start our new learning schedule. And start it, we did. Overall, our first week has gone well and I'll write more later about how I've made our time even more efficient so our learning shouldn't take more time than last year despite an increased workload. It sure has been a few late nights this week to prepare everything. Many late nights still to come, I'm sure. But I love that part. That's when I get to do my learning about what they're learning. Really wonderful to have to do that. And I realized that my DH spends his whole work day learning about various college-level subjects so he can write a whole course together with the professor, and I spend all of my time learning about our subjects so I can be an effective teacher. So, essentially, all six of us spend our entire days LEARNING! Good stuff.

Now, the menu, and hopefully some blogs about other things to come too. :)

For dinner:

smoked brisket (from our stovetop smoker)
mashed potatoes
spinach/tomato/onion salad
roasted mushrooms
roasted cabbage
roasted apples
vodka lemonade (why not?)

And for lunch:

peach soup
smoked fish (stovetop again!)
arugula/pecan/cranberry/onion salad
herring beet salad (w/Matjes (non-pickled) herring)
creamy pesto pasta (just because we CAN make it creamy!)
homemade strawberry ice cream


Good shabbos, all!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Menu

Another week! Highlights - our 10th anniversary last shabbos (best 10 years ever!), a great shabbos and tisha b'av (major fast day) last week with a family from Atlanta, a great 28 hours w/several kids from another family Thursday/Friday, lots of swimming pool time in the back yard, going through stacks of learning materials to make sure I had everything I need for the coming year, wrestling with the not-so-on-the-ball print shop employees at OfficeMax, doing what I can to quell the usual August feeling that we won't fit everything in this year (but somehow we always get done what we need to get done!), planning next week's trip to Atlanta for shabbos, Unicoi State Park for camping, then back to Atlanta for shabbos, making a campfire songbook, and wrestling late into the night to figure out how to schedule everyone's activities so that I'm available to the ones that need me. OY! Quite a bit of work to sort it out. I want to be able to hit the ground running when we return from our camping trip. Snore.... :)


For dinner (dairy!):

smoked salmon (trying out our new stovetop smoker; anniversary present from ima)
eggplant parmesan
roasted potatoes
lemon butter orzo
caesar salad
carrot ginger puree
ice cream (YAY)

For lunch:
caesar salad
stuffed cabbage
brown rice
carrot ginger puree
butternut squash kugel
raw veggies w/cilantro/olive/anchovy sauce OR aioli OR curried mayo
apple strudel (I think... haven't made it yet!)


Friday, July 27, 2012

The Menu

Apparently, my blog is on summer vacation. But the menus still keep coming! :)

For dinner...

roasted chicken
roasted cabbage
mashed potatoes
sweet and sour onions
sweet and sour mushrooms
rice w/preserved lemons
roasted carrots, zucchini, and preserved lemon
chocolate chip meringues
strawberry kiwi sorbet

And for lunch...

surimi salad
orzo salad
baba ghanouj
red pepper spread
spaghetti with meat sauce
steamed corn
butternut squash kugel
frozen lime pie