Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quote of the Week

Amirah: Mama, can I wear this (pink frilly) dress this morning?
Mama: No, Miri. Choose something a little more appropriate for basketball, like the blue skirt with the lace.

(I laughed out loud when I realized that that sounded pretty silly... but really, it was a better choice!!!)

Monday, July 28, 2008


I was getting so frustrated with Raizel this evening. She picked off all the clay on a project that Eli did. Then she found a black marker and drew all over herself and the (Good Will-quality) couch. Then she and Eli dumped half the water out of the tub while I put a diaper on Avi. Then she took off her underpants (yes, underpants!!!! YAY!) 3 times (she loves to run around naked). I was really gearing up to do one major big mommy dance when she grabbed my legs, looked up at me with big brown soulful eyes and said—>>>for the first time<<<—"I love you, mama." How can you stay mad after that? I put all my frustrations in a little shoe box and shoved them under the bed (that's what I tell Amirah to do :)) and we turned on some fun music and she, Eli, and I danced and danced. Much better than a mommy dance, let me tell you, though I'm sure just as goofy-looking. What was careening towards a really yucky evening turned out to be pretty darn good. And only an hour until bedtime so hopefully we can keep it headed in that direction. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Farewell to my 30s!

Friday was my 40th birthday, well-celebrated by a lovely trip to the Peachy Pig Farm, a bucolic u-pick berry farm about 30 minutes from our house. We picked lots of marionberries and raspberries, a few blueberries, and got 20-pounds of tree-ripened apricots (not what you get in the store or the farmers market!). We also got 10 pounds of hazelnuts for only $1.50/pound. The farmer had a wonderful noisy contraption for cracking them, so crack them he did. I figure it's about 30% waste, so that makes it less than $2.50/pound. It's usually about $8/pound in the store! We brought a picnic lunch and had a really nice time there. Amirah is now a great picker. Eli runs all over tasting berries and telling us where the best ones are, and Raizel makes it look like she is industriously picking, bucket over her arm, but not a single berry hit the bottom of her bucket. :) Avi was in the backpack and kept pounding my back for another berry and making - ahem - attention-getting noises until he got another one. The back of my shirt was a giant, purple-stained mess at the end of our picking! Then we came home and had a great dinner.

It feels great to be 40. My 30s were pretty wonderful. At least a hundred times better than my 20s. So if things continue at that exponential rate, than my 40s ought to be 10,000 times better than my 20s. WOW!

Highlights from my 30s:

Moving to the Portland area

Traveling to Spain and Morocco

Beginning my studies of Judaism with an interest in conversion (though I had no idea where that came from!) and meeting my future husband in that class

Meeting two of my nephews within hours of their births

Teaching music at my studio and at the German-American School (great staff, great students, wonderful support for music!)

Directing five student-composed three-act operas that involved all the first through fifth grade students. I don't think I'll ever top that!

Traveling to Guatemala

Converting to Judaism (three short words, hugely long process)

Traveling to Israel

Meeting my future husband with my eyes open this time - DUH (it only took us four years to stop being casual acquaintances)

Getting married

Hashem (G-d) bringing us four wonderful children in 5 years

Thinking about the next ten years

I have so much fun thinking about what is ahead for us. I couldn't be on this journey with anyone else. I HAD to marry D and I HAD to have these four children. What a pleasure to be wife and mama. I can't wait to see where it goes next!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Menu

Here it is!

Brisket, carrots, and potatoes
Green Salad
Chickpea Salad
Marinated Broccoli Salad
Roasted Cauliflower
Trifle with Lemon Tofu Custard (you wouldn't believe it, but it's delicious!)

For lunch:

Beef Stew
Roast Chicken

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Amirah and I will not be studying for 10 hours PER DAY (as stated below). 10 hours per week ought to suffice nicely! :)

Homeschool Prep

I've been knee-deep in doing some homeschool prep. We haven't been doing much formal schooling with Amirah these past 3 weeks, just lots of reading, art projects, and parsha study (torah study). Good enough. BUT, I have been working quite a lot on the fall. I'd been planning to start in mid-August, but it turns out that my brother and his family and my parents (hi, all!) will all be up here to visit us and my sister and her family who also lives here. I think school will wait until September 8. Ah, the joy of flexibility. Maybe before then summer weather will actually arrive to stay for a little while.

I've been working quite a lot in anticipation. I have a wonderful music curriculum I'm planning to use, and in another stack I have a Kindergarten curriculum from Rebbetzin Tova Greenblat, a teacher at the Bais Yaakov in St. Louis. It's a terrific curriculum. I've separated out all the songs and rhymes and am going to overlay that onto the music curriculum so I can teach all the concepts using Jewish material. A bit labor-intensive, but the final product should be really useful. I'm excited even if it will take me forever to fine-tune it.

We've worked our way through more than half of Saxon's Kindergarten math curriculum. We'll probably finish that at the end of October. I've been mapping out the lessons/concepts between now and then, skipping over things she already has truly mastered. I want to make sure she's mastered her number and math-symbol writing before we dive into 1st grade math, so we may not start that until January.

I've also been perusing the Judaica curriculum, which is quite intensive. One could easily spend 3 hours per day just doing that. This is what I'm thinking for now...

In the mornings we'll do Judaica:

t'fillah (prayers)
parsha stories (the weekly reading from the torah); discussion; torah theater (act out our favorite part)
projects related to any upcoming holidays
finish up knowing the alef bet this summer
start Hebrew reading and writing in the fall
doing lots of practice with oral Hebrew

In the late afternoon (during nap time; a very alert time for Amirah) we'll do reading, writing, and math. I'm hoping to end up with 5 hours of Judaica and 5 hours of secular studies per day.

Once a week we'll do science, music, a major art project, and a field trip. 9:00 in the evening is also a very alert time for her so we can finish up anything we missed then. We also can use shabbat to catch up on Judaica studies and Sundays to catch up on secular studies if needed.

One BIG reason I'm excited to be homeschooling - instead of a student going for an A, a student can study for mastery. When a concept is truly mastered, one can move onto the next concept. There is no quickly memorizing something long enough to be able to spit it out on a test and hopefully get a good grade. Or getting worse than lost because you didn't get the last chapter and the class has long-ago left that and gone onto the next. You work at something until you really understand and integrate it. And if there is something you get right away, you don't need to waste any time lingering over it. If there is a topic that REALLY interests you, you can dive into it more deeply and learn all you want. I think it's really a wonderful way to learn.

The Hair! I Got It!

For the first time, I must say that Raizel's hair is really looking good. First, she is slowly and steadily getting rid of all the tinnea capitis yuck (aka athlete's foot) on her scalp. Second, I'm now using a proper wide-spaced nubby-tipped comb. Third, what I thought was really dry hair on the back of her head was just so tangled it was actually (embarrassingly) matted. Every day I've been moisturizing it with a Tresemme product that someone else recommended (and it smells nice but not chemical!), and I've been using a detangler and slowly but surely going through all of her hair. Her curls are really looking great now. One or two more ouch-ouch-ouch sessions and we should have it all worked out and then we just take good care of it every day. It's so nice and soft and curly now I can't stop touching it!

Another small victory - last night Raizel willingly went upstairs with papa to go to sleep instead of crying and reaching out for me. The crying had gotten to the point where it didn't last long, but still it was so nice to have her give me a hug and a kiss, smile, and wave night-night. Tonight I went out on a mommy date (THANK YOU, EE!), she did cry LOUDLY when I left, but I'm not sure how long that lasted. Bit by bit she's feeling more secure. Her newest favorite game is to jump off of the changing table into my waiting arms. If that's not feeling secure, I don't know what is! She's also started speaking full sentences like, "I don't want that, mama." and "Watch me go, mama." It's really sweet.

Another treat this week - our friend NQ took The Bigs out and about for 3 hours yesterday, and Dean was home (pinkeye) so he took The Littles in the afternoon. I got to B-R-O-W-S-E at the music store (I'm sure it's been at least a year since I've done that!). I picked out a year's worth of literature for NQ's 3 kids (who are my piano students), got a piano book for Amirah (what the heck!), picked out a new pair of glasses (not at the music store, however!), and bought yummy RED MEAT for shabbat dinner and lunch in honor of my 40th birthday which is on Friday. It was nice to do 3 errands in a row (WOW) and not have ticking time bombs with me.

That said, I took all 4 shopping to Walmart (we go probably once a year) and Bob's Red Mill. Walmart had 5-cent spiral-bound notebooks and really cheap pens and crayons. They also have catch-them-alive mousetraps (we have a perfect little Beatrix Potter style mouse hole in the den) for $2.85 (who'd have thought). They did super with all the shopping. At Bob's Red Mill we got our 25-pound bag of organic soybeans. Six months ago a bag cost $25. This time it cost $42!!! I couldn't believe it. Guess the cost of our soy milk is now $0.85/gallon instead of $0.48. Oh, well. Still a bargain compared to cow milk. Before we lugged the beans into the car we did our ritual of buying soy yogurts (no kosher dairy ones there), juice, and chips. They all sat nicely at the table long enough to eat. That was a thrill. We managed pretty well. That all in spite of the fact that Avi fussed all day long unless he was in the backpack and NEVER took a nap. Teething. Poor guy. I'm just extremely grateful that papa was home and awake at 6:00 in the morning to comfort the little fussy guy. I'm not so sure how grateful papa was though! But hopefully sparing his late-night sweetie from a groggy morning brought him some comfort. He did high-tail it to work after I got up! Ah, the many benefits of having a nightowl wed to an early riser. I think it's a perfect arrangement. There are only 3 or 4 hours per night when we are both sound asleep. That's nearly around-the-clock coverage!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Menu

Here it is!

poached salmon with aioli
chicken schnitzel
sauteed sugar snap peas
spelt chard pilaf
kohlrabi carrot puree
carrot raisin salad
angel food cake with chocolate glaze

Yum. Same sides with turkey chili for lunch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Pictures!

A friend of ours is building up his photography portfolio, so he spent an hour taking pictures of our family. This is the same friend who took pictures of the bris. You can see additional pictures of the family here and visit his photography studio here. It was so great to get some really nice pictures of everyone.


Our current book-of-the-week is Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand, published in the early 1960s. This book was the basis for the movie Nanny McPhee with Emma Thompson. The book is wonderful!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

He's Crawling and She's Sleeping Solo!!!

Just had to shout out loud that Avi is crawling, and crawling fast! He's having a great time scooting around the house and enjoying his freedom. And this I'll say in a very quiet whisper: Raizel is sleeping. Happily. In her own bed. She went to sleep happy AND she woke up happy (a rare occurrence). She seems to really prefer the pack and play to the toddler bed. Maybe it's more like what she slept in in Ethiopia. So, shhh, don't tell her I told you. If she stays comfortable with that next to our bed, then we'll move it across the room, and if that goes well we'll move her to Amirah & Eli's grand suite (next to our room). Shhhhh. We might actually be getting our bedroom back. Yay. 

Diapers Revisited

Speaking of saving money, I know I gave all the longer calculations in a previous post, but here's the short calculation. With 4 kids sharing all the cloth diapers, the cost per diaper change is $0.03 + the cost of laundry! As opposed to $0.20 per diaper + the cost of garbage (if you overflow). Just had to share the latest math. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reading Aloud

In addition to reading lots of shorter books, we also always have one or two readalouds going, despite the many challenges of reading aloud for extended periods when there's a 2-year-old who's new to reading aloud! Right now it's:

Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum
This book is an anthology of excerpts from classical literature that illustrate various good qualities we wish to see in our children. What I love about this book is children learn about good behaviors through observing characters in a story rather than through explicit instruction, much like they learn about good behaviors through observing their parents. So far, the stories used are wonderful. We're still on "Honoring Your Father and Mother" (the first section). It's really nicely done. It matches really, really well with the Jewish study of middos (character traits) which is a central part of Jewish education.

Ereth's Birthday, by Avi
We love all the books from the series about Dimwood Forest and Poppy and Rye, the mice, and their friends. Ereth is a delightfully grumpy hedgehog who thinks everyone has forgotten his birthday. He's a little more colorful than Eeyore. :) I think this is the most exquisitely written set of books Avi has done. We also really like The End of the Beginning.

We usually read aloud for 30 minutes before lights out. It's a really nice tradition, and part of our homeschooling routine. But then, everything is part of our homeschooling routine. Life is rich, full of things to learn, and every moment is an opportunity.

Shabbat shalom!

Amirah & Eli & Raizel & Avi Update

It's been another good week. The mommy dances are becoming pretty rare. My early weeks of longing for my very own pair of boxing gloves and a punching bag have subsided (though it still sounds like fun!).

Amirah and Eli have been really excited to be in swimming lessons. It's Eli's first time in any sort of class, and I wasn't sure at all what he would think of it. The first thing they did was sprinkle water in his face and he came to me crying but, bless him, he popped right back in the water after he wiped off his face and has been having fun ever since. He's cracking up his teacher being his usual very funny self. He loves being in the water. He wakes up really looking forward to going to the pool. What fun.

Amirah and swimming have really clicked this time. She started swimming class in the fall and did two 5-week rounds of Goldfish classes. In January she started Penguin classes and did two 5-week rounds of that. The spring got disrupted by the adoption, so she hadn't been swimming since March. She popped into the water, and on the second day was able to propel herself through the water for about five feet or so. It's like something just clicked for her. She got a little older and a little bigger and it just made sense to her. She's been really excited about that.

Not too much new with Raizel or Avi. Raizel is definitely venturing out from my side more and more, interacting well with friends and playing in the backyard with Amirah and Eli even if she can't see me. Bit by bit she's starting to understand how reading a book works, how watching a movie works, and many other things like that that were alien to her life before. She's also saying "please" and "thank you" almost every time it's appropriate!! I'm sure it's thanks to Eli who has done so well with this too.

Avi is just rolling around the floor, happy to be amidst all his siblings. Loves to eat anything that lands on his tray. Just lots of smiling from that boy. So.... that's the udpate!

Avi is

The Menu

Here it is!

Friday night:

roast chicken
pecan rice
zucchini/squash/jalapeno/tomato/onion sauté
marinated vegetable salad
sautéed carrots
green salad
raspberry pie

And for lunch:
Thai chicken meatballs
peanut noodle salad

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Saving Money

We make lots of our own staples in order to save quite a bit on the grocery bill. And it tastes way better to boot! So, here's what I make on a regular basis:

Bread. I have a basic whole wheat recipe that's yummy. I make up 15 ziploc bags of mix at a time. Each bag has enough in it to make four 1-pound loaves (smallish sized loaves; perfect for kid sandwiches). For us, that's a 2-week supply. All I do is add water and oil to the mix, mix it in the KitchenAid, let it rise, put it in the pans, and bake it. It takes almost no time. I figure it probably costs $0.50 per loaf, as opposed to $4 per loaf for the cheapest kosher bread. We also basically don't buy any baked goods at all. Flour is so (relatively) cheap. And Dean makes *incredible* bagels.

Soy milk. We bought a soy milk maker a year ago and we love it! To make a gallon of soy milk costs $0.48 (plus the cost of using the $100 soy milk maker). Sure beats $3 per gallon (or more) for milk. We buy regular milk too, but soy works great in our daily smoothie, for baking, and the grownups like to drink it plain. When I first made it, I assumed we'd want it vanilla-flavored, but it actually tastes incredible hot straight from the soy milk maker, not flat like from the carton. We use about 1/2 gallon of regular milk every 5 days.

Yogurt. We've been making our own for about two years now. The culture is easy to get and lasts quite a while. We used to have a quart-sized yogurt maker. It worked great, but we had to make yogurt pretty often. Then we got a great idea. We have a fruit drier that is open and flat. It maintains EXACTLY the right temperature for incubating yogurt!! So, we heat up a gallon of milk, stir in 2 cups of dried milk to thicken it, set the large pot on the fruit drier and add in about 1/16 tsp (or less) of freeze-dried yogurt culture. 12 hours later we have really delicious yogurt. It needs absolutely nothing added to it, but it's fun to stir in jam too. Or vanilla and sugar. Or coffee and sugar. Or lemon juice and sugar. Or...

Jams. Love it. Can't go back to storebought. Every summer we make enough for the year. Yum.

Grape juice. We did this for the first time last year. We tried it a little late in the grape-picking season, so the season was over before we had a chance to do more. We use grape juice ritually every Friday night and Saturday for shabbat, so we go through a fair amount. We got concord grapes for $0.50/pound. It will take about 200 pounds of grapes to make a one-year supply. Probably 22o if we want to have plenty for passover too which also involves a lot of grape juice. The juice we made last fall was incredible, and it was a huge disappointment to go back to bottled. We borrowed a steam juicer, so all we had to do was wash all the grapes and throw them in the basket of the steam juicer. It spit juice out of a hose and into canning jars, then we threw it in a 20-minute hot water bath to ensure it's seal would last. The juice truly danced on the tongue, and you tasted flavors on every part of your tongue. The juice was alive. I'd never tasted that before. Wow. We can't wait until next month when the grape harvest begins. Not soon enough!

Beans. So cheap if you soak and cook them yourself! I soak chick peas for 24 hours than bag them to later use for falafel. (You don't cook the beans before you make the falafel.) Other beans I precook and freeze in quart ziplocs. Mostly black beans, pinto beans, red beans, and great northern beans. There are lots of good recipes for beans out there. Really. :) That can of beans that costs about $2 in the grocery store costs me about $0.05. Really.

Okay, before long I'll get back to the adoption topic, which is why this blog started in the first place. Maybe I'll post an update right now!

Menu Planning

In the course of getting the household back on track I've been working to get back to a disciplined menu planning. So... I printed off a whole year of blank calendars. Any time any of us thinks of a favorite dinner I put it on the calendar after we decide if it's something we would enjoy every 4, 6, or 8 weeks. Then I just schedule it out for the rest of the year. So, yes I know what we're eating on June 23, 2009. Well, sort of. It's all a bunch of suggestions subject to creative whims and special sales, but it sure avoids the 5:30 and what's for dinner crunch I've encountered quite a few times recently! So last week I looked at the calendar to see what was there, added what I needed to the grocery list (which wasn't much, actually!) and headed off for a frugal shopping trip. Also, even though I've put each dinner on a different day, it's not really tied to that day. I just know that in the next 7 days I'm cooking those 7 dinners.

Now the fun part... I rarely cook a single batch of anything. Generally I do triple or quadruple recipes (except for the experimental blueberry lime jam muffins... it was odd to make a recipe and only use 3 cups of flour!). So, we had lasagna earlier this week and I made 3 of them. On the next two lasagna nights I added an "F" next to the lasagna so I knew it was in the freezer. We pretty much depleted all the backup stashes of food while we have been settling in, so the freezer (er, freezerS... we have 3!) is nice and empty and ready to stock up again. When I have the freezer stocked I really only end up cooking about 2x/week (shabbat extravaganza + one other night). Makes it pretty easy once you're on a roll.

So...... it feels good to be getting back in the saddle again with all the home organization. It keeps everything running peacefully and we have plenty of time to have fun too. :)

Blueberry Lime Jam

Just in case you were wondering what to do with that not-so-great 8-pint batch of blueberry lime jam from last summer... (I know you were...) It may make awful jam (despite its 5-star ratings), but it makes superb oatmeal-blueberry muffins! I somehow managed to make exactly the right amount of jam to carry us through to this summer. Time to start cranking it out again! We decided to skip strawberry jam this year. We like it just fine, but it's not in our top 5. And all that stooping to pick the strawberries! And strawberry fields are a great place for toddlers to run away from you and trample plants in the process. What are our top 5 flavors from the past year? Apricot, pomegranate jelly, blackberry, raspberry, and orange marmalade. I think we'll just stick with those plain old ordinary flavors again this year. We tried a few fancier combinations, but they just don't quite cut it. The best part about picking raspberries? Those nice tall walls of raspberry bushes, so a toddler can only go one way, uh, oops, except for the random openings here and there. Oh, well! We may attempt it tomorrow. We'll see!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Coffee Cups

It took me until a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday to discover that the cups marked on a coffee pot are not 8-ounce cups. They're actually 6 ounces. I couldn't figure out why I made "8 cups" of coffee for iced coffee tomorrow and discovered it did not fill two quart jars. It made 6 cups. Okay, so I'm a little slow, but this is a revelation to me. Shabbat shalom!

The Menu

In the works for tonight:

carrot cauliflower soup
roast chicken
pesto pasta salad with roasted zucchini, red peppers, and artichoke hearts
cilantro lime coleslaw
simple green salad (thanks to our wonderful produce delivery!)
angel food cake with lemon curd

Better get back to work!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quote of the Week - Again!

Amirah: Oh! Oops! I put on my pajamas.
Mama: Yes, so, that's a good thing, right? It's evening.
Amirah: But you said we were going to Ebay tonight!

How do you explain an online store to a 5-year-old???

Quotes of the Week

I'm a little hazy on where I read this, but I *think* it was on a large families internet group I belong to. I can't wait to use the responses!


Stranger: My, your hands are sure full!
Me: And so is my heart.


Stranger: I'm sure glad it's not me with all those kids!
Me: So am I!

Avi Baby

This is what Amirah calls him when she plays with him, and do they play! He laughs louder with her than with anyone else. Avi has had a few firsts lately. He can wave bye-bye now. He can rock back and forth like he's thinking of crawling (uh oh, better really babyproof). Then this afternoon I walked into the office room where Amirah was playing with Avi on the floor. All of the sudden, she starts laughing hysterically. "What's so funny?" I asked her. "Milk, Avi said milk!!!!!" Right after that Avi said something that definitely sounded just like milk, which just caused Amirah to collapse into a heap of giggles all over again. He quickly downed an entire bottle after that, so maybe he really was saying "milk." Guess we'll see if he does a repeat performance.

Amirah and I had lots of fun Tuesday night going to half-price night at the local amusement park. Only two of the rides made me feel like I wanted to toss my cookies. Amirah loved them all, inside out and upside down. She even went on the tummy-turning ones ALL BY HERSELF when I just couldn't have my own tummy do it a 3rd (and 4th, 5th, and 6th) time. We normally go for preschool morning when just the little kid rides are open. She was so excited to go on all the other rides (except the ones she's not quite tall enough for yet). She had a terrific time. And it was really nice to have a date with my eldest daughter.

Raizel has been having terrific, tempestuous, 2-year-old tantrums, but usually they are very brief (but quite passionate). They usually involve food being brought into places it shouldn't be. That girl would eat and eat and eat if we didn't have a meal and snack scheduled out. We are pretty sure she spent part of her little life foraging for her own food wherever she could find it, so it's not surprising. She had a lot of fun playing in the plastic pool on the deck. She even lay down in the pool when I was first filling it up and got her clothes drenched. She also loves to dump buckets and buckets of water on her head. But that means she also thinks everyone else loves it too. Well, they don't, but they tolerate her really well anyway.

And Eli's exciting news... no more diapers! Except at night. He's been doing great. I'm hoping we really have two in diapers, especially since I've re-strengthened my resolve to use cloth. I'm not on one side or the other in the cloth vs paper debate. They both tax the environment. But cloth is much, much, much cheaper. We don't overflow our garbage when we use cloth, so no extra garbage charges. Also, the fitted cloth diapers that I get here only cost $7.50 each. A paper diaper costs about $0.20. I calculated that three years of paper diapering costs about $1,300 per kid or $5,200 total (!). Enough diapers for 3 years of cloth diapering costs about $600 AND if you divide that between 4 children, it's only $150 per kid! Then we can resell those diapers for at least $2 each (they've held up really well so far) for a total "refund" of $144. So that total becomes $456. So by using cloth diapers, your cost is less than 1/10th the cost of paper. Of course, there is a cost for doing the laundry. We also use paper at night because they're much less likely to overflow and I haven't found a good arrangement for double-diapering them that doesn't make them look like the Michelin Tire Man (does such a figure even still exist???). I also like paper for traveling or if we'll be somewhere where it's just a pain to be storing dirty cloth diapers to bring back home. SO, we're very glad Eli is using the toilet, and we laugh every time we hear Raizel giving him huge cheers for going to the bathroom.

And the adults? We're happy. Tired and happy. Happy and tired. Tired. Have I mentioned tired? But mostly we play all day and work all night. I've gotten used to the house being always slightly messy and I've quickly gotten over being embarrassed about it when someone drops in for a visit. A neat house is a sign of neglected children (or of someone who pays a housekeeper!). I really try to get all my "business" done after they go to bed. That way I can be pretty focused on them and not working at cross-purposes which usually ends with one or the other of us in the middle of the floor crying. Better to have the big stuff out of the way so I can do things like let Amirah sweep the floor even though it takes longer. Or stop and read a book whenever it's good. Or have her make the bread, which usually involves a bit of extra cleanup. It's a blast looking after all of them, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.