Monday, September 29, 2008

The Menu - Happy 5769 (in just a few minutes)

Here 'tis:

Challah (round with raisins and cinnamon!)
Gefilte fish
Mushroom Lemon Couscous
Roasted eggplant, peppers, onions, and tomatoes
Sweet potato ginger orange puree
Buffalo brisket
Panzanella (tomato bread salad)
Pear cake
Apple crisp

+ apples and honey, and several other symbolic foods (more about this later!)

Wishing everyone a happy sweet new year!

Am I Nuts?

Today an anonymous call came in and it turned out to be a political survey. Being distracted, I said I would do it, and being distracted I didn't ask who was behind it. :) They said it would only take a few minutes, but when a "few" turned into fifteen I had to hang up. Multiple implosions were beginning. :) The one question that stuck in my mind was, "Who do you think is responsible for the current economic crisis congress is dealing with?" (A bit non-specific, but I assumed they meant the bailout... hmmm...) The options were big business, George Bush, the federal government, and various other governmental usual suspects. The thing is, I couldn't point the blame at ANY of those things.

I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination (our high school economics teacher was out with a heart attack all semester, so I didn't even get anything then!), and I'm certainly not one to delve publicly into politics (though I have great simpatico conversations with my own dear husband), but I strongly feel that we, the American people, are to blame. We've been living high on the hog, buying more than we can afford, spending lots of money on fancy electronics that our grandparents would never have dreamed of spending, buying houses that are twice as big as the average house of 50 years ago, paying little attention to retirement savings, and hoping that somewhere along the line someone else (governmental) will be there to bail us out when we get into trouble.

What about the kind of personality that went into shaping this country? What about rugged individualism and providing for our own needs? What about saving up for something and THEN buying it? What about when credit scores didn't exist? I think the current finances of the average person in the United States are built on a stack of cards and that it is starting to crumble. I think we've lost our heads when it comes to common sense, personal responsibility, and self-sustenance. I'm not feeling optimistic about the economy at all.

I'm really hoping we are able to move next summer (or sooner), sell our house, get a higher-paying job, and live somewhere with a much lower cost of living. It's been tricky identifying a community though. Places with large extremely affordable Jewish communities aren't really the places that pop into our heads as great places to live - Cleveland? Houston? Memphis? Pittsburgh? Nowhere really on the west coast. :( I love the midwest, though, so I think we'd do well there. Dean just really doesn't thrive in really cold Cleveland-like weather. Maybe Cincinnati. Not a large community, but a viable one. And we have an observant cousin in Columbus! That would be great. Anyway... post midnight, inter-dish preparation ramblings.

I'm glad we have a couple days of yom tov. The logistics are a bit daunting, however. The first day, I think we'll just stay home and Dean will go to shul early, home for lunch around 2:00. The second day, Dean will go early to shul again (7:30), leaving me and Davida to push the kids to shul later (9:00ish). I'll probably have to do the major pushing and Amirah will walk with Davida. It's a 2-mile hilly walk, and I guess I'll have Avi in the backpack and Eli and Raizel in the stroller. Maybe I'll start out telling Eli he has to walk, then put Avi's backpack in the stroller for backup. When Amirah was 3 it took her 100 minutes to do the walk. We'll see! Thank G-d, the E family is having us for lunch (and they're only a couple blocks from shul) so we won't have to walk back too. Dean can catch a ride back to our van and come get us. Chazak, chazak. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Week of Learning

It's been a great week! With three weeks under our belt now, it's getting much more streamlined and we actually finished everything I had planned to achieve by Wednesday!

Here's what we did:

Tefillah: modeh ani, negel vasser, reishit chochmah, tzitzit, mah tovu, torah tsiva, shema (this week we'll add the torah blessings and asher yatzar - the blessing for after using the bathroom when we thank Hashem that all of our openings function properly!!)

Kriyah: We did dalet to yud in our kriyah (Hebrew reading) book. 7 letters! We're almost half-way through the book. Yay.

Songs: B'yom echad (song about the 7 days of creation), several Rosh Hashanah songs, Yom rishon avodah (about how days 1-6 are for resting and day 7 is for resting), Yom huledet sameach (Happy Birthday - Rosh Hashanah celebrates the birthday of the world)

Hebrew: in addition to songs, worked on birthday vocabulary (party, candles, presents, the verb "to give" (presents/torah/etc.) plus Rosh Hashanah vocabulary.

Parsha: read our parsha book and stories from our Little Midrash book; we're almost to the end of the whole torah!! Moshe had this new generation of Jews who were not present at Har Sinai to once again swear that they would follow the torah; if not, they would be kicked out of the land of Israel which they are about to enter.

Rosh Hashanah concepts we covered:

Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year"

Hashem is the Melech (King) and is especially close to us during this month of Elul and wants us to do teshuva for things we didn't do right this year

Teshuva means recognizing a mistake, apologizing to the person or to Hashem (depending on what the oops was), and then not doing the same oops again when the same situation arises

The shofar is a mitzva in the torah; it calls out to wake us up, remind us to do teshuvah, and announce the coming of the King (tomorrow, we'll learn the different names of the different blasts - there are 4 different kinds).

We've been keeping a scale in the house. Every time we do an aveiro (an oops) we put a dubon (teddy bear counter) on the aveiro side; every time we do a mitzvah (commandment) or a chesed (kindness) we put a dubon on the other side. We also get a dubon for tefillah (prayer) and tzedaka (charity). We hope that by Rosh Hashanah the chesed side is heavier than the aveiro side! This is the same way Hashem measures us before Rosh Hashanah.

We made a Rosh Hashanah table out of a shoe box, used wallpaper to make the tableloth and cut out pictures of all the things that go on the table. Tomorrow we'll be discussing the different symbolic foods that will be on the Rosh Hashanah table!

We did a Little House on the Prairie/Rosh Hashanah project - we took an apple and are in the middle of piercing it all over with cloves. Then we'll toss it with some cinnamon, just like ma did to make the kitchen smell nice. We can also use it for havdalah, the ceremony that bids farewell to shabbat on Saturday night (the aroma of the spices cheers us up as the "extra soul" we all receive during shabbat departs).

We finished Lesson 42 in our reading book. 58 lessons to go! :)

In writing, she suddenly decided to do a WHOLE BUNCH and she did some of nearly every page! We'll just keep filling in all the blanks, then integrate writing into our other subjects, I think... I have to do some more research still on the next step in writing.

We finished Kindergarten math. We'll put formal math on hold through October since there are so many holidays. We'll pick up with the first grade book at the end of the month. We'll keep our time-telling and money-counting and measuring skills fresh in the context of normal day-to-day life. (It's amazing how much is learned in informal contexts! The best part of homeschooling.)

We finished reading Little House on the Prairie. Have I said how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. I knew I liked it a lot, but I am enthralled again. It's such a great example of a really good family. Pa is such a good pa, and ma is such a good ma!!! The family works together for the greater good, and misfortune is met with optimism and moving on. I'll have to do a whole separate entry on this series of books. It's also really renewed my desire to do another round of intense decluttering. Especially when she wrote that ma fit all their clothes into two carpet bags. Even our modest lifestyle is so luxurious. OY!

We also had fun outings to the library (the famous OOPS), and to the zoo on Thursday. What a great week.

Wishing everyone a good, sweet, happy new year!!!!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quote of the Week

Something we could all learn from in this, er, self-absorbed, overdone self-esteem era we are living in...

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.

- Albert Schweitzer
Alsatian philosopher and physician
1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Whizzing Along

Amirah decided to just whiz through a whole bunch of kriyah (Hebrew reading) and English writing today. Zoom, zoom, zoom. It was great. Two days in a row she's been a writing fiend. :) It's nice to see her enthusiastic about it. We pretty much did at least one thing on each of the remaining pages in her writing book, so we'll just work to fill in all the blanks now. After all that, we decided to head out to the zoo. There's a new baby elephant and we were looking forward to seeing that (our first time, Amirah's second time). I thought it would be pretty cute, but it was C-U-T-E! We had a lot of fun watching him for a while. Afterwards we went and got Amirah a new yom tov outfit, loaded up on chicken at Trader Joe's, then went to pick up Dean from work (and give this hard-working man a cushy ride home instead of the bus). A nice evening too. Except only two more chapters left in Little House on the Prairie. We've ordered the next couple of books from the library, but they're not here yet. Oh, what will we do??? :)

Rosh Hashanah starts Monday night, so now we're pretty much on vacation for a few days. Dean's mom will come up on Monday afternoon and be here for three nights. There's a holiday (or two) every week for the next month, so it's a pretty busy time. We'll pretty much just focus on the basics - reading, writing, ivrit (Hebrew), torah study, and tefillah (prayer). Amirah finished Saxon Kindergarten math yesterday, so in November we'll probably start first grade math.

We're adding a bunch of things over the next month, in addition to all the holidays. Swimming lessons will start twice a week. I'll start teaching my two recorder students again in November (plus the family of piano students that already came back to lessons). Our co-op starts classes in October on Wednesdays. Dean also really wants to study at the kollel (Jewish adult school) a couple of hours per week. He's on the long-term study plan to become a shochet - a Jewish butcher. It involves a great deal of religious and practical training. Who knows when he'll actually become one, but we're not on any kind of schedule. We just want to be able to schecht animals for our own family's needs one of these years.

On another note, I have a new "occupation." I'm now the resident barber. :) I cut Eli's and Dean's hair on Sunday. It went pretty well, except Eli was wiggling all over the place. The buzzing of the shears was kind of making him nervous. His bangs are pretty uneven and he won't let me near them again, but otherwise they both look pretty good! We figure this will save us $200/year... and $300/year when Avi is older! And the shears were only $25. Now I just need to learn to cut girl hair.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

The Menu

Here 'tis:

Cucumber, tomato, avocado, krab salad
Tequila lime chicken
Refried beans
Lime cilantro coleslaw
Roasted lime garlic sweet potatoes
Pear cake

For lunch:

Same stuff, in tacos

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Movie

I just got this movie (Dan in Real Life) from the library and put it on while I was doing other stuff. The only problem is it was so good I stopped doing other stuff! I haven't cried at a movie in a long time.

Pretty Good Couple of Days

It just keeps on being pretty darn nice around here. :) On Sunday, while Dean slaved away at work, we went to visit Gardenripe - the farm where our produce comes from. (Yay, Farmer Bill!) We had a great time with our friends the F-H family picking 50 pounds of tomatoes and peppers and getting some garlic, cilantro, and extra bok choi. Haven't finished the pears yet, and now there are all those tomatoes too! Hopefully, tomorrow night BF & I (uh, that wouldn't be Boy Friend, ha ha) will be making lots of salsa and sauce.

Today we had a good learning morning, then had lunch and headed over to the library to get some books. Amirah wanted to see the dinosaur books in the grown-up section, so I showed her where it was. 20 minutes later I checked on her again and she was practically swooning with half the shelf in piles all around her on the floor (sorry, librarians!!). Prehistoric beasts, pteranodons, allosaurus, heaven for a 5-year-old. I told her she could pick out 5 books (which actually came to 12).

Then I wandered over to check on Eli and Raizel. I was perusing the math/money books when I heard Eli call me from one aisle over. There, right at his feet, was, well... Last night I just happened to read this and laughed because something like that had NEVER happened to me! Until today... Let's just say that it took me several minutes (or so it seemed) to recover from my shock and figure out what to do. Fortunately we were right next to the computer stations from which I snatched a stack of scratch paper, scooped it up into a nice neat (fortunately!) package and made a bee line for the bathroom. The real miracle was that his clothes weren't that messed up. We still managed to go to the park across the street. The moral of the story: even if your 3-year-old has gone through all of his clean underwear, don't leave the house without it!!! Oh, well. I'm not sure I've recovered, but he thought it was a pretty funny story for papa. OY.

Ready for sleep now. What happened to the day???

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Week of Learning

Another pretty good week of learning! More outside learning than inside learning this week due to the wonderful weather we've been having. It's so nice that we're getting that extended summer that we did not get last year. Labor Day came last year and WHAM summer was over. This has been really nice and I can't bear not to go out on a big adventure as long as the weather holds.

Here's what we did this week:

TEFILLAH (prayer)
This week we added mah tovu to our morning prayer routine. It's a nice melody and they've enjoyed that. I only sang hamalach hagoel at night a couple of times, so this week I'm hoping to make it nightly.

KRIYAH (Hebrew reading)
We just blew through the rest of the alef bet, since she basically knows all the letters. This week we started on our new Kindergarten Hebrew book, Shaah shel menuchah. Basically, we're working to build up her vocabulary for each letter of the alef bet - ab0ut 20 words per letter (some review, some new; some from the book, some not from the book). It has writing parts, but we're postponing that for now. Writing English is enough for her to work on right now. This week we did pages 1–15.

IVRIT (Hebrew - oral)
We completed Unit 8 of Shalom Ivrit. We focused on the days of creation - naming them, learning the names in Hebrew of each of the creations, and singing some songs. We also continued to review male and female verb endings and prepositions. We also started to work on colors. I think Eli will know his colors in Hebrew before he knows them in English. :)

PARSHA (torah reading of the week)
We always start with the summary of the parsha in My First Parsha Reader. In The Little Midrash Says we focused on: bikurim (the offerings of first fruits that went to the temple), the seven species special to Israel (wheat, barley, olives, dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates), the splitting of the Jordan river and comparing it to the splitting of the yam suf (Red Sea), the blessings and the curses that will fall on the Jews if they do or do not keep torah, and "midda keneged midda" - good deeds lead to good things happening, bad deeds lead to bad things happening.

CHAGIM (holidays)
We read a couple of Rosh Hashanah story books. We sang four Rosh Hashanah songs. The coming week will have a special focus on Rosh Hashanah, which starts the night of September 29.

TORAH STUDY - Bereishit (Genesis)
We are now through the fifth day of creation in our snail-pace journey through Bereishit. I understand the nuance of every word (hooray!!), and Amirah gets a lot of it. We acted out many of the words and scenes - the seeds in the earth, but not yet sprouting; the birds in the air and the fish of the sea; dissected some words like "hashamayim," translated as "heaven" but literally for eish-mayim, meaning "fire-water," so Hashem separated the water from the fire-water. Lots of interesting things!!!!

READING (English, that is!)
We finished lesson 36 of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

We are half-way through Little House on the Prairie. We made johnnycake for dinner one night. We also made owls out of paper bags. We acted out the story (from Little House in the Big Woods) that pa told of when he was a child. He went out a little late to bring the cows home from the woods. He got scared by an owl, didn't find the cows, and ran all the way home to find the cows waiting for him. Amirah was the owl, I was pa, and Eli and Raizel were the cows. Pretty funny!

We only did a couple of pages in Handwriting Without Tears this week. She copied a couple of short sentences. Pretty soon she could write a short letter to grandma or something. We'll see! 100 Easy Lessons also has some writing exercises where you write down sounds you hear (as opposed to see). I'd like to do a little of that too. And add in some oral spelling. That way, we can be increasing those skills even without pushing the writing too much.

We're up to lesson 101 of 112 now. We mostly worked with nickels, counting by 5s, figuring out many nickels it takes to make 15, 25, 30, etc cents. She played with tangrams just for fun. One day we did our penny, dime, and nickel dances again.

We're still reciting "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This was science week, for sure! We had a great time at Rood Bridge Park and Daybreak Park exploring a pond and creek (more details on previous posts). We re-read the section on crayfish in the Handbook of Nature Study. This week it might be fun to try drawing a crayfish. I've ordered a couple of books from the library about crayfish to read in the coming week. Why are we studying crayfish? Because they live in Oregon. Because Amirah thought they were interesting. And because they're a great example of a non-kosher animal! :)

Paper bag owls
Leaf bugs - we glued a leaf to a piece of paper, turned it into a picture of a bug, then told a story about our bug - what it was called, what it ate, where it lived, what made it special

A park in Sherwood to play in the water
Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro
DayBreak Park and RF's wonderful homestead in Battle Ground

That's it! It was a lovely week, if exhausting. This week I'm focusing on getting the house in good shape and preparing for Rosh Hashanah.

Quote of the Week

Amirah, crashing through the creek back to the shore: "Mama, mama! I found two snails and they were mating. They were mating in their very own way!!!!!"

(Later, Papa explained that they were probably cleaning the algae off of each other's shells since they lay eggs and fertilize them externally...)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Menu


"cream" of celery soup
BBQ lamb chops w/rosemary and garlic
roasted garlic basil tomatoes
roasted beets
steamed corn on the cob
cracked wheat
apple-pear crisp


ground buffalo w/rice and bbq sauce in the crock pot

Woo hoo!


Well, I didn't get to all the pears, but I did get to half. Last night, I ended up leaving the apple butter ingredients in the crock pot, then cooked it down a little more this morning. It worked great. The apple butter is velvety smooth and great on pancakes!

Tonight I got a batch of pear butter going in the crock pot. I also made a batch of "pear honey" which has pears, pineapple, lemon juice and sugar. Sounded odd, but I definitely had a spare 3 pounds of pears (more like a spare 20) so I went for it. It's actually pretty good! It looks like honey and is thick and sweet like honey. It's pretty and translucent in the jars. I'm going to serve it alongside the honey-honey for Rosh Hashanah.

I stashed the last 20 pounds or so of apples and pears in the spare fridge on baking sheets. I'll use the rest to make holiday breads and cakes during the coming week. As for what's for shabbat tomorrow, I haven't a clue, but I do know that there is challah, soup, and dessert in the freezer. Plenty of veggies from our csa. We'll manage somehow! I really hope that one of these days I can go back to my old schedule of:

Sunday, plan shabbat menu
Monday, make shopping list
Tuesday, shop
Wednesday, make dessert and challah
Thursday, cook side dishes
Friday, cook main dinner and lunch dishes

There... that's a goal for myself. Well, maybe I'll manage it a few years from now! :)


Last night I canceled our Thursday plans because I was wiped out. Then Amirah got very quiet and teary-eyed when I broke the news the next morning. "But I've never been to someone's HOUSE to see goats before and I was thinking about it all night." So, I gathered up every ounce of oomph and uncanceled our plans. It took a long time to get out the door. Had a hard time finding lunch, keys, shoes, socks, underwear. Usually it takes 45 minutes to get everyone packed and out the door, but today it took 90. Oh, well! So it goes sometimes.

Our afternoon adventure was terrific. We met our friend RF (future mom of 2 Ethiopian children and current mom of 2 other wonderful children) at Daybreak Park in Battle Ground on the east fork of the Lewis River. It was gorgeous!!!

We came with our pond nets in hand, hoping to have a little more luck finding a crayfish.

Not only did we find a crayfish, but we also found a shell that had been recently molted. We got to see the crayfish swim backwards (FAST!) and seek out hiding places in the rocks. It also lifted it's pincers up towards us. We could see its antennae moving and see how it had pincers on the forelegs, but not on the rear legs. We also saw the eyes really well. It was really great.

Amirah had a great time poking around the water for a couple of hours. We saw perwinkles, snails, well-camouflaged fish, water skippers, and RF and Amirah were even surprised by a very large mouse that leaped out from one of the rocks several feet out in the water and made a run for the shore.

We also brought chocolate cupcakes. I think this was Eli's favorite part.

After the creek, we went to RF's house nearby and met the goats. And the dogs, cats, gecko, and fish. We wanted to meet the garden snakes too but they were hiding underground somewhere.

We also got to jump on the trampoline. That was a hit too!

And just to prove that Raizel and Avi were there too...

That's them on the trampoline. Really!

We got home and had pancakes with papa. It was quite a good day, despite a tired mommy.

...and Ponds

We have had a lot of fun around water these past couple of days. Yesterday, we went out to Hillsboro to Rood Bridge Park. We had been there for a birthday party quite a while ago, but it hadn't entered my mind again, lovely as it was. Then the naturalist at Jackson Bottom told us it was a better place to investigate pond life than Jackson Bottom, so off we went hoping to spy the elusive crayfish. We went with our friends the E family who are also homeschooling their kids, and daughter N is Amirah's really good friend. It's a beautiful park with a creek running through it. We followed the creek path downstream and came out onto a beautiful pond that had a concrete platform jutting out into the water. It was perfect for lying down on and peering down onto the pond bottom. We saw water skippers on the surface and little snails scooting across the bottom. I saw something large-ish wriggle it's way into the mud when I came close. No idea what that was! We scooped some mud into a mason jar to see if we could find any mud creatures, but no luck. With our big pond net we scooped up several little fish feeding near the shore and put them into our observation tank for 20 minutes or so. They were translucent and you could see their internal organs. The biggest ones were an inch long. We also scooped up some insect larvae and they were walking around the bottom of the tank. We saw tadpoles too, but they were much too fast to catch and very wary of any movement along the shore. Smart tadpoles. After our explorations we took a lovely little walk (including, yikes, a bit of a runaway stroller courtesy of Avi, Eli, and a hill; all's well that ends right side up), went to the playground for lunch and play (mostly play), discovered that the faucet there could work like a giant sprinkler, got soaked, and went home happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tired Mommy

Exhausted, actually. Would have loved to crawl into bed after reading two chapters of Little House on the Prairie, but all those pears and apples we picked last week won't last forever. Tonight was apple night. I made a batch of apple butter, a gallon+ of applesauce, 2 apple crisps, and 2 apple-pear crisps. Pretty good for one night! Tomorrow night, bli neder, I'll make pear butter, apple-pear sauce, and pear bread. Hoping to finish up a couple batches of peach jam too. The pears are so delicious. They're just perfect right now. It was good to get some things made ahead too, with all the holidays coming up: Rosh Hashanah (2 days), Yom Kippur, Sukkot (6ish days; 2 are non-working days), Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (2 days). Dean has already put in 30 extra hours at work, so he'll be able to take all the holidays as comp time which is really great. More like collapse time. It's a lot with the normal stuff + papa working extra hours + homeschooling + teaching one afternoon per week. Yawn. Time to pack up the applesauce and go to sleep.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two Great Story Books

We just read two books at snack time today - One Small Place by the Sea and One Small Place in a Tree. They were lyrically written by Barbara Brenner. She has many other story books about the natural world, and we are looking forward to reading them!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Week of Learning, Addendum

I forgot to say we're using the Saxon math curriculum. We're on lesson 97 of 112. I'll probably wait until January to go on to 1st grade math while we strengthen our writing skills (especially numbers!). I'm not sure if I'll continue with Saxon or try something like Calvert or Singapore Math. Saxon comes with a HUGE teacher manual, which is great for someone with no teaching experience. I would be fine with just the student portion of the math book with explanations as needed. Singapore Math is pretty much that so it costs about one fourth of what Saxon costs. I like Saxon, but I'm paying for a lot more than I really need. Anyway... we'll see what happens with that.

We also did another experiment on Friday morning with putting white carnations in glasses of colored water. The petals haven't changed color yet, 48 hours later. You can see tiny bits of color in maybe 3-4 pinhead-sized places on each flower, but that's it. I freshly cut the stems before putting them in the water. Maybe they're basically dead grocery store flowers so they're not sucking up the water as fast as fresh flowers. I don't know. We'll just see what happens.

In the meantime, we're so excited about going crayfish hunting this week!! I'm going to call Metro to see where one of the best spots might be so our trip isn't a bust. We'll bring mason jars and a big clear bucket and some pond nets and some crayfish bait. Should be a blast. With the weather around 90 degrees through Tuesday, it should be fun to get a little wet. I'm so thankful for this extended bit of summer weather. Last year we didn't get it at all. We went BAM into the wet weather and that was it until we emerged many months later. I hope this lasts through September.

Off to the wading pool later this morning! Yay!

Our Week of Learning

WOW. What a week. One minute I would feel like we were accomplishing tons, and the next minute I would feel like it was impossible. :) Overall, the week went really well. We finished nearly everything we had set out to do. Hopefully, we'll tie up a few loose ends tomorrow.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday were full learning days (as in a solid 3 hours per day). (Actually, that sounds kind of funny. Every moment is a learning moment, literally. I guess that was the amount of time we spent "book learning"!) Monday was wiped out with Eli's difficult trip to the doctor, followed up by lots of TLC and ice cream. Wednesday was our outing day. Friday was just playing and reading in the morning and shabbat preparations in the afternoon. So, this is what we did:

TEFILLAH (prayer)
Our current morning routine is modah ani, negel vasser, reishit chochmah, tzitzis, torah tziva lanu Moshe, and shema. This has been our routine for quite a while. (TRANSLATION of above: prayer that says we are grateful our soul has been returned to us; morning hand washing; beginning of wisdom...; the brachah for putting on tzitzis; song celebrating Moshe bringing the torah to us from G-d; shema is the central prayer of Judaism - the first part is just 6 words: listen, Israel, Hashem is our lord, hashem is one).

Next week we'll be adding mah tovu. I hope to add a new tefillah to our routine every four to six weeks or so, or whenever the new tefillah is well-integrated. At bedtime we do shema, and this week I will be adding hamalach hagoel (a song that asks for protection from the angels) as a lullaby that I will sing to them.

KRIYAH (Hebrew reading)
We are winding our way through a thorough review of the alef bet letters and their sounds. We are up to samech (about 2/3 of the way through). This should be finished by Rosh Hashanah.

IVRIT (Hebrew - oral)
We are using the book Shalom Ivrit. It will do for now. It's really intended for kids in 3rd or 4th grade or so going to a weekly Hebrew school class. We have our puppets Zevi and Tzemi (Wolfie and Wooly) teaching the lessons. It's pretty fun, especially since we added Tzemi this week. We started learning masculine/feminine verb endings so needed a boy and girl puppet. The focus of the chapter has been on shabbat. In addition to verb endings we're also working on the prepositions in, on, next to, and under and the concepts of avodah (work) and menuchah (rest). It was pretty fun! And the kids can't get enough of Tzemi. She's sweet and young and silly. Zevi is old, a little bit more serious, and a little more tired than Tzemi. :) We also learned the song Yom rishon, avodah.

PARSHA (torah reading of the week)
The first day we read the summary of the parsha in My First Parsha Reader. It gives a good overview of the parsha, and introduces most of the key vocabulary. After that I pick and choose various stories from The Little Midrash Says. This week we focused on: Avshalom's rebellion (as an example of a rebellious son), the mitzvah (commandment) of hashvat aveidah (returning a lost object), and the mitzvah of shooing the mother bird away from her nest before you take her eggs. We just read the stories, no special projects or anything.

CHAGIM (holidays)
We read the book Rosh Hashanah with Bina, Benny, and Chaggai, which gives a good overview of the dinim (laws) and minhagim (customs) of the holiday. We learned three Rosh Hashanah songs - Tu, tu kol shofar; L'shana tova tikateivu; and Tapuchim ud'vash. We also did our apple-picking field trip (we eat apples - tapuchim - on Rosh Hashanah). We practiced the traditional Hebrew greetings one uses on Rosh Hashanah too.

TORAH STUDY - Bereishit (Genesis)
We are doing our 2 pasukim per day journey through Bereishit. I've learned a lot and it's a good discipline for me if nothing else! Amirah has picked up many of the vocabulary words. I can read the Hebrew thoroughly now through verse 12. I would guess Amirah understands a good 50% or more of it. We certainly got a lot of new vocabulary words under our belt!

READING (English, that is!)
We are working our way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It has been working really well for us. I had dismissed it in the beginning of my searching for a good reading book because it has some unusual orthography to teach the sounds, but it has actually been very effective. We are now on lesson 33 of 100.

We read Little House in the Big Woods, and tonight we started on Little House on the Prairie. We couldn't get enough! In the coming week I'm hoping to make tin lanterns punched with a design in nail holes to copy something they did in the book. I would also like to make one or two of the things they cooked (johnnycake and maple candy perhaps). I would also like to dip candles. Lots of "would likes". We'll see! There are lots of good ideas that I got from this classroom guide. We read the short bio of LI Wilder that was included. We'll see how many projects we can do in the next couple of weeks, especially with Rosh Hashnah coming. Oh, well. We can always use maple candy on Rosh Hashanah! :)

We also started and finished a Grade 1 Reading Comprehension book. It had 40 or so 1-page stories (mostly non-fiction) with questions to answer. Amirah loved doing it so we zoomed through the book. It even asked a few more abstract questions like "What was the main idea of this story?" and "Why do you think xyz happened?" It was pretty fun.

We're using Letters and Numbers for Me, part of the Handwriting Without Tears Program. Amirah is a bit of a reluctant writer (if you can really call someone that at age 5!!). Her small-motor skills are still developing. She was very late to walk and do smaller movements. This program is great because it has a multiple of large-motor ways of learning the letters (see the website for more info). We started over the summer. She has worked on all of her capital letters, but is finding the curves of the lowercase letters much more challenging. We'll probably be working on the book for another two months or so. Anyway, this week we did pages 45-51 (w, t, some words, a, d, g, and a couple of sentences). It's completely up to her how much we do in a sitting, as long as we do at least one page. We typically do 1-3 pages per sitting. When she's just eaten, had a good night's sleep, and has been moving around, she finds the writing a lot easier. I try to do it first after breakfast. She definitely has far less patience for this than anything else, so I'm following her lead completely.

We got only about half the math done that I had planned, but we all love doing math! All the kids gather round the table at math time and get some of whatever manipulatives we're using. This week we were counting nickels (and counting by 5s). We also re-visited counting dimes (and counting by 10s). And pennies/1s. We did penny, dime, and nickel dances where we put Avi in the middle and danced around him singing in a sing-song (a la Ring Around the Rosie) voice and counting by 1s, 5s, or 10s. We would all fall down when we got to ONE DOLLAR and tickle Avi. Those were a hit. We also worked with tangrams and found various ways to fill in various shapes using the tangram pieces. It was a blast. Amirah could have done that forever had we not run out of tangram sheets. I'm sure I can find more tangram puzzles online somewhere.

We started some memory work. Right now we are working on memorizing "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has 3 verses of 4 lines each.

Much of this we got on dvd this week, from Planet Earth and How Birds Eat (great footage!!). We supplemented with reading some of our ocean books about the very deep parts of the ocean. We also read about crayfish in our favorite 100-year-old (almost) nature book - Handbook of Nature Study. We've had fun watching the crayfish at Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store. I'm hoping to manage a field trip to a pond so we can catch one ourselves and observe it for a little while before putting it back. We used to catch them as kids by tying a piece of liver to a string and dipping the string in the water. They don't let go and you plop them into your bucket. I wonder if we can go to any pond and catch them? I'll have to call someone at Metro and find out...

Sherwood Orchards & Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge. YEAH!

OY! After reading all that I don't see how we could possibly have fit any more in. I felt bad we hadn't done a big art project, or anything in the way of music other than singing a few Rosh Hashanah songs. I see now that we did PLENTY. I don't know if I'll be able to take an hour every Saturday night to type all this up. It should be easier since I won't reference books I've already referenced, etc. I'd say the first week went pretty well. Can't wait for week #2!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Menu

I'm completely exhausted and grinning ear-to-ear. What a wonderful week this has been. I haven't quite tallied everything up yet, but I think I actually nearly accomplished all the learning I set out to accomplish with them. There's a little more Jewish studies to do which we will finish on shabbat, and we'll have to do a math lesson on Sunday, but I think that's it. I'm very happy. And so are they! Bli neder, I'll write down everything we did over the weekend, as much for my own records as anything else.

Now for the all-important (pretty basic, but I'm okay with that!!!!!!) menu:

Shuba (lox, beets, potatoes, onions, carrots, and mayonnaise - thanks AGAIN EE!)
Chicken soup
Roast chicken
Mixed roasted vegetables
Green salad
Hazelnut Tart

And for lunch:

SUSHI! Yeah! And salad and miso soup!
We've got salmon, avocado, cucumber, krab, sweet gourd, sweet egg omelet, and spinach. We'll make that into all kinds of yummy combinations.

And I think all day Dean and I will just take turns taking naps. We're both exhausted (in a good way!). He's at this moment giving a big lecture at OHSU and there's been a big conference there and fall classes are starting at the end of the month (on Rosh Hashanah, of all things). The prep work for the beginning of fall term is the craziest time of year. He sure works hard on behalf of all of us. His complete devotion to all things family is hugely appreciated.

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

And here's a little prayer that MH will find out today that he passed the bar exam! Please, hashem!

Another Good Day

Today we did 3 hours of fairly intensive learning, since Tuesday was wiped out by Eli's fairly traumatic visit to the doctor requiring post-visit mama snuggles and rest and lots of Baskin Robbins ice cream (he got a very infected blister; the (student) doctor did TWO SHOTS of lidocaine and I really don't think he had a clue what he was doing; the needle bent and blood was spurting out everywhere; I think it would have been WAY less painful/traumatic if he had just puncture the blister and cleaned it out... OY). Wednesday was our two field trips. So.... we did double doses of everything today.

Hebrew was lots of fun. We had Zevi the wolf who teaches most of our class, and today he was joined by a new friend Tzemi the lamb (tzemer is wool in Hebrew). Tzemi was very afraid of Zevi at first but by the end of class they were very good friends and Tzemi made shabbat dinner for Zevi, but they did NOT have lamb. It was a vegetarian shabbat. Verb endings in Hebrew change for male and female speakers, so we needed to add a female teacher to our cast of characters, hence Tzemi. It was very cute. Tomorrow Zevi is going to tell Tzemi all about Rosh Hashanah.

We did lots of kriyah (reading), and several torah stories. This weeks parsha has many laws (mitzvot) in it. We focused mostly on returning lost objects and shooing a mother bird away from the nest before you take the eggs. We also learned some of the dinim and minchagim (laws and customs) for Rosh Hashanah. Pretty fun! Then we did 3 reading lessons in a row (we usually do one), and 1-1/2 handwriting lessons. We'll catch up in math tomorrow. Then we all went to a new-to-us water feature park in West Linn. Had a good time getting nice and wet.

Then tonight I went to a co-op meeting with some other homeschooling families. I'm pretty tired, so I won't go into it all now except to say that it was FANTASTIC and there was an African-American yiddishe mama there, and we were both so thrilled to meet each other. Her kids are teenagers, but it will still be lots of fun. The group of women there was incredible. Wonderful support to each other and I really connected with the group. It usually takes me 2 or 3 times of being part of a group I like before I really feel into it and connected, but this happened pretty much right away. They were just all really nice women. I think Amirah will enjoy it because nice women always have nice kids. :)

We'll be joining the co-op on Wednesdays. This will be our schedule:

10:45-11:30, 4H (cooking, needlecrafts, animals, plants, science, archery, really a rioutous amount of almost anything you'd like to work on; all of Amirah's favorite things)
11:30-12:15, physical education
1:00-2:30, historical math (check out Living Math; they'll be starting with lesson 13 - Fibonacci - and moving on to Da Vinci)
2:30-4:00, physics

Hopefully it won't be too much for her. I would have just signed her up for the afternoon classes, but we've been really wanting to join 4H and there's nothing wrong with some time to run around. Best part is, we'll only pay for what it costs to rent the building space. The science and math classes have teachers that will be paid, but the cost is a very reasonable $20 per month per class.

So... it's pretty exciting. We'll miss 3 of the October days due to Jewish holidays, so that's too bad, but after that we should have clear sailing, BE"H.

Uh oh. Better make that shabbat menu. Better be an easy one. This homeschoolin' mama is just a little busy lately!!! But what an absolute joy! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Great Day

Today we went to Sherwood Orchards in the morning and picked apples, pears, and Italian plums - nearly 100 pounds! We met two other families, so it was a nice group of us. It was a beautiful orchard, and I was wishing we had really gotten out there to pick cherries earlier in the summer. Next summer! There are six racks of apples on the fruit drier right now. We picked Gravenstein apples, which make great applesauce. I'll probably turn the bulk of those into applesauce and can it as soon as I get more quart-size canning jars. I might make one small batch of apple butter, but I'm probably the only one who would end up eating it. I'm not sure yet if I'll make pear-applesauce too, or just can the pears plain. For now, they'll hang out in the spare refrigerator. I also have a recipe for pear-ginger conserve, but every time I've made a jam that wasn't just straight-ahead strawberry, apricot, plum, etc., it's turned out to be nothing special. The plums I'll probably dry into prunes after setting aside a bunch for eating fresh. The plums are incredibly delicious. Anyway... we had lots of fun, and the fruit was very low on the branches so Eli and Amirah could pick their own fruit. Raizel loved all the fruit-tasting and Avi hung out happily in the Ergo. We all had a good time, and enjoyed a picnic lunch when we were done.

On the way there we had passed a sign for the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge. We'd never been there before, so we decided to stop. They have a beautiful new visitor center. We went inside and talked to two wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers who told us all about the animals and birds we might see and where the trails went and what the children might enjoy. They were so friendly. So we did a 2-mile round-trip walk and oohed and ahhed practically the whole time. We saw a truly astonishing variety of insects, habitats, and birds. When we reached the Tualatin River we looked around some more, then doubled back. We got home at 4:00, tired and dirty, but what a great time we had!

Then I quickly improvised dinner and it turned out great - ground buffalo sauteed with onions and mushrooms, then mixed with brown rice and barbecue sauce. It was YUMMY. Dessert was the pears I got on Sauvie Island last weekend. Ah, summer.

Tomorrow we're going to focus on our regular school stuff, with hopefully time leftover for a trip to a nice cool wading pool or fountain. I love the flexibility that comes with our independent learning, especially since I more or less want to do it year round. I don't stress out when the kids get fussy and learning doesn't seem to want to happen. We can pack it all in and walk around the block. Eventually, we should get done in a month what we need to get done in a month.

In other news, Avi can now climb the stairs! We put up the baby gate at the bottom, which presents new challenges with having to pitch The Middles (Eli and Raizel) over the gate coming and going. Not sure how to make that easier... I'm pretty sure Avi also said his second (third?) word - "NO!" :) How rich all this is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our Vacation, Days 3–4

Avi at the lake (on Day 2). He is one happy little guy!

Amirah eating breakfast - salami, eggs, and orange juice. Yummy!

Eli and Raizel's all-time favorite game - Ring Around the Minivan. Those two are hilarious. Several times a day Eli says in his sweetest little boy voice, "Raizel, you want to come upstairs and play with me?" And there they go.

They had installed swings and a play structure at the park there since we were there last. Great place to play! This is crazy-hair girl. By Day 3 it was so full of dirt, twigs, pebbles, and marshmallow that it was pretty hopeless. We had a lot of untangling to do when we got home.

Day 3 was, er, interesting. I had google maps directions to what was supposed to be a great beach for beachcombing - lots of agate, jasper, and petrified wood. Sounded great! The directions were a little, well, downright odd! We took this beautiful road up into the hills that looked out on multiple valleys. Partway there we made a little stop and when we were outside of the car we got to see a bear several hundred yards away - and with a ravine between us - walk around a clearcut area. Everyone was pretty excited! The directions told us to take various slight lefts and rights on this road and that road, but the lefts and rights must have been nothing but curves and driveways because that's all we saw! We figured we'd just be happy with a bear sighting, or we'd actually get to the beach. Finally, we did! It was awfully windy. When we got there there was a huge group of pelicans standing where a creek ran into the ocean. As we neared they took off. I've never seen so many pelicans all at once!

We walked around the beach for a while. Found a few interesting rocks, but nothing that I thought was agate. On the other hand, maybe I don't really know what agates look like! I thought they'd be little geode-y like rocks. In any case, it was lots of fun all the same. Then we headed back to our little lake after eating lunch in the car. Another night of dinner and campfire after that. Very nice. We had lots of fun watching all the bats come out at dusk.

Our last day, we pretty much just packed up, then went off to the meadows where the elk are. Learned a lot at the elk-watching stations. Then we ate lunch next to the bucolic Umpqua River. Got home at 5:40, just in time to hear that our meat order had arrived and needed to be picked up by 6:00 (!). Good thing I played the messages as soon as we walked in the door. I usually look at the mail first. :) It was a nice little vacation, the last of the calm days for a while.

Dean is getting crazy busy at work, working long days 6 days per week. The new term starts on Rosh Hashanah too. There are seven Jewish holidays in September/October which really makes for a crazy time, especially if you're on an academic schedule like Dean is! I started teaching one of my sets of students today (three brothers) which added to the acrobatics. Now we just need to add in swimming classes, homeschool co-op on Wednesdays (I hope - there's an interesting group where Amirah may take 4H, physics, and a special math class; I'll learn more at a Thursday night meeting), teaching my other 2 students, and all the holidays - Rosh Hashanah (Happy New Year), Yom Kippur (Happy Repenting), Sukkot (harvest festival; eat outside in a sukkah all week... our family's favorite holiday - pictures to come!) and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (finish reading the 5 books of the torah, dance around a lot, then start reading the 5 books of torah). I think once everything is rolling it won't seem so frenetic. We usually keep things pretty simple around here, so I'm hoping it doesn't feel like too much. But we can always adjust! We're just in Kindergarten, after all. :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quote of the Week

Amirah: Wouldn't it be nice if there were a kind of butterfly that could feed on sweat? Then the butterfly could live in our house and feed off of papa every time he exercised.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our Vacation, Days 1-2

When we arrived we immediately realized that we had had Yurt F the last time we were at Tugman State Park. It was really funny to realize that out of the 16 yurts that are there we had been assigned the same one again!

The first day we pretty much got there, hung around the yurtsite, made dinner and a fire, then went to bed. The next morning we headed out to Sunset Bay State Beach. It was fantastic! We got there at low tide so we could explore the easily accessible tidepools, then we spent the afternoon at the little sandy beach next to the tide pools. The waves were one foot high and the water was nice and warm. We hadn't expected to go swimming, but we improvised pretty well!

One reason we really like Tugman State Park is that it has a nice little lake walking distance from the campground called Eel Lake. There's a nice little sandy beach with shallow water that is perfect for the kids to float around in and swim. We went there in the afternoons.

Well that was Day 2. Then back to the yurt for dinner and another campfire. Everyone slept great. Hooray! Avi wanted nothing to do with his portacrib, however, so he ended up happily sleeping curled up right next to mama.

To be continued...

Report on Buffalo Brisket

The brisket we had Friday night was like chewing gum, but away we chewed. I had cooked a four-pound brisket for 2-1/2 hours at 275. This had always worked fine for beef brisket in the past (except I did it at 300; I read buffalo should be lower because of the much lower fat content). Well, back into the oven it went cold from the fridge as the oven heated up. It was in there for another 2-1/2 hours at 300. That made it come out pretty well. It probably could have used one more hour to be optimal. It was chewable, but not falling apart chewable. The broth was fantastic; better than beef broth. We had great French dip sandwiches on Sunday. On Wednesday I'm going to cut it up and soak it in our homemade bbq sauce and then cook it another hour or so and make it into bbq buffalo sandwiches. It was pretty good. We have three other briskets that are more like 7 pounds each. I can probably cut those in half since the 4-pound brisket will easily make three dinners for us. Yum!

Avi's First Word

It's official... Avi's first word is MAMA! He's the only one of all my kids for whom "mama" was the first word. Dean heard him use it in context tonight and finally believed me. :) It was very cute. He said "papa" shortly after I heard him say "mama" a few days ago, but Dean hasn't heard it and I haven't heard it in a few days, so that one is not quite official yet. Stay tuned!

Crunchy Cons

That's what my husband and I are. This fits us much better than Republicrats. We read aloud much of Rod Dreher's book of the same title while driving to and from our camping vacation last week, and we found that we agreed with 90%+ of what he was saying.

The book has chapters on: What are Crunchy Cons?, Consumerism, Food, Home, Education (very pro-homeschooling), The Environment, Religion (including an interview with a crunchy con orthodox Jewish woman), and Waiting for Benedict.

So what is a crunchy con?

Well, a crunchy con is a conservative but not a modern-day-straight-ahead Republican Party kind of conservative. The four most important areas of life for a crunchy con are religion, nature (but not in a pantheistic way!), aesthetics, and family. Basically, religion and family are THE point in life and everything else - our careers, what we buy, what we do in our free time - goes to serve that mission.

It's a good book, and outlines what we believe is a very good life for our family. We were just so excited to find out this was actually an idea out there that someone had labeled! So, for now we'll stop calling ourselves Republicrats, especially since we now seem to have almost nothing in common with EITHER political party given recent politics. We are happy little crunchy cons. :)

Journey through Bereishit

Right after havdalah (the ritual marking the end of shabbat), we read the first 2 verses of Bereishit (Genesis) in Hebrew and English. We are embarking on a two-verse-per-day journey through the five books of the torah. We're relishing the Hebrew words, acting some of them out, repeating them, listening to me read them, listening to a recording of them, chanting the torah with the traditional taamim (the musical marks that are written under the words). It's just 10 minutes per day, but what a blast. We talk about the meaning and the questions, like how can there be light if there's no sun yet? Each verse I'll pick one or two words to really focus on. There are some really juicy ones in the torah because in Hebrew a word is never just a word.

Each day I'll review what came earlier in the week until we build up to 10 verses. Then each day I'll drop the earliest 2 verses so that each day we're reviewing the last 8 verses and learning 2 new verses. It will take 2-3 months to get through the parsha (torah portion) this way, but we should really know it (and I'll have improved my vocabulary immensely along the way!). I want to really get more and more of the oral vocabulary into their brains so it when it comes time to actually read torah in first grade the words will be very familiar to them. I really hope we're able to keep this up. I'm hoping for at least 5 days per week, but if we make 7 all the better.


Our current readaloud book is...

Little House in the Big Woods, with the original Garth Williams illustrations, thank you very much. (The publisher has recently re-issued these books with PHOTOGRAPHS instead of one of my favorite illustrator's pictures. Blasphemy!)

I loved this series when I was little, and loved watching the tv series too. I even remember which episode I had to miss because I was naughty one Monday night shortly before the 8:00 airing time. I don't know what I did, but I sure remember the pain of missing that episode where Nelly teases the fat boy at school. I'm pretty sure that's the only episode I ever missed.

We're having a lot of fun reading the book. It would be great to read many of them from the series, but we'll see how far we go before we need a change of pace. The language is very nice, the images are rich, the peek into a historical era is delightful, and the characters are absolutely timeless. We are all enjoying it.

Homeschool Statistics

Just thought these were interesting statistics, courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics at the US Department of Education.

Number of homeschoolers in the US: 1.1 million (2.2% of the student population)

Most important reason for homeschooling:
31%: concern about the environment of other schools
30%: to provide religious or moral instruction
16%: dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools

(The other families cited a variety of other reasons.)

The statistic Rachel Grady gave in the documentary "Jesus Camp" that "75% of homeschooled children are from evangelical Christian families" put up red flags for me. She does not cite her source, and it is plainly false. Homeschoolers are as diverse as the population itself. With the Department of Education detailed study stating that 30% of families homeschool to provide religious or moral instruction, how can her statistic possibly be true? An evangelical would certainly state religion/moral instruction as their primary reason, as it is for this Orthodox Jewish family.

Anyway, it's certainly an interesting world.

Learning at Home

We are having a really marvelous time learning at home (and out and about!). I'll keep notes throughout the week of what we've been learning and post them weekly (bli neder, without a vow!!), partly as a record for myself, partly to share with friends and family what this wonderful rhythm of homeschooling is like, and partly to give other homeschooling friends some (hopefully) good ideas. Many families come up with a homeschooling "mission statement" to define what exactly it is they are doing this for. I'm going to think about that for a while. There are so many, many reasons we have decided to homeschool and I will distill it into something pithy, I hope. In the meantime, reading, writing, math, and Jewish studies are off to a rollicking start. :)

Family Movie Night

Most every Sunday evening here is Family Movie Night. During the week while papa exercises they watch a 30- to 45-minute "protein" movie, usually either about science or something Jewish. Then on Friday afternoon after lunch they can watch a treat movie (their choice from what we have here in our library, or from the library) while I cook and cook and cook. On Sunday evening our family movie is either a treat or protein movie. That's the extent of our tv watching.

Tonight Amirah picked a protein movie that she's been very excited about for a couple of weeks. It's called The Blue Planet: Seas of Life, produced by BBC. There are 5 dvds in this series, and we watched the one with "Open Ocean" and "The Deep." It was incredible. I HIGHLY recommend this dvd. Even my fish biologist husband learned many new things while watching this. We're looking forward to requesting additional dvds in this series from the library!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Menu

Here 'tis:

Chicken noodle soup
Buffalo brisket
Caesar salad
Spinach artichoke, um, casserole (?)
Roasted carrots
Baked potatoes w/tofu sour cream
Apple pie (thanks for all the apples, RF!)

And for lunch:

Buffalo shepherd's pie

(Finally got our meat order in. It's been a couple of months since we had any red meat for shabbat, or any other night for that matter. Trying buffalo brisket for the first time... here's hoping!)

Our Vacation, In Brief

We just got back yesterday from a 4-day yurt camping trip, and did we have a great first week of kindergarten!!!!! :) We studied stars, clouds, elk, swallows, water spiders (the kind that live underwater in a bubble), geese, map-reading, rocks, tidepools, swimming, cooking, math (with card games), habitats, bears (from a safe distance, but not on purpose!), and tides. Much more too, I'm sure.

Kind of funny to call it the first week of kindergarten, though, since I'm not really sure we have a clear delineation between one year and the next as homeschoolers. It's all learning, and we've been doing it together since the day she was born. Pictures to come, god-willing.

And, by the way, did you know elk only need 2-1/2 to 4 hours of sleep per 24 hours? I got this idea to look up the sleep needs of 12 other animals, plus babies, children, and adults, then put them in order of how much sleep they need, then learn a little about why their sleep needs are different. I think we'll do this for a science project in the coming week.

What a great time we're having.