Friday, June 27, 2008

8th Grade Education

I read something like this quite a while ago. I think what students are achieving these days in general falls quite short of the mark, especially in the area of ethics and responsibility. I do NOT blame this on teachers or the educational system and I think tying teacher pay to student performance is utterly ludicrous. I blame it almost entirely on the family unit, or lack thereof. I also think that the one-on-one tutoring that is possible in a homeschool situation can provide an education nonpareil.

Take a look at this, and you'll see that the eighth-graders of 100 years ago were in pretty good shape to live fine productive lives. This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7. - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven

months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per a acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. Hi story is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

This and That from the Week

It's been a pretty nice week. Lots of adventures...

First, I attempted to teach one 30-minute lesson this week. Raizel was NOT happy that I was in a room with the door closed, and after 20 minutes I just let her in the room with me and she glued herself to my lap and didn't make a peep. Not the best for teaching, but at least it was a good friend who didn't mind being a guinea pig to see how it went. So... we're re-evaluating how we'll handle this in the fall (when I would normally teach a total of 3.75 hours per week). For the summer, I won't be teaching much. Probably just this one student here and there.

After dinner that night I went grocery shopping with Eli. Had a *great* time talking to him and he was a super helper. Dean said Raizel was a little fussier than usual, but not too bad. Then later that night we tried having Dean put her to bed as we'd done successfully the night before (freeing me to get a jump on the kitchen, etc. cleanup). I think this was just too much for her all in one day. She melted down until I went upstairs and lay down with her until she fell asleep. Actually, we didn't exactly lie down. She sat on top of me at first and did not want to lie down. :) But after a while she settled in and all was fine. So, I'm just going to be very available to her so as not to cause her any anxiety. At least it's more like two steps forward, one step back. A careful dance.

And now Avi. Last week we were still saying he just must not ready to eat food yet. He kept spitting his rice cereal, applesauce, and pumpkin out like his tongue still didn't know what to do with it. What I didn't know was that really he was secretly longing to eat salmon, cous cous, hummus, bagels, bananas, graham crackers and anything else that was on the table. It's hilarious! Forget all that mushy stuff; he wants a 3-course meal. :) So we're just serving him real food now and he's grinning away happy as can be. He's also sitting really well all by himself now and is a fast little scooter. It seems so funny to have a baby scooting, eating, and all that when he's only been here for two months. Shouldn't he still be curled up in a ball and sleeping 20 hours a day? I always called that stage the fourth trimester.

Today we had a great time at Summerlake Park in Tigard (a first for us). We went letterboxing with our friend NQ and her son and his friend. She packed up a wonderful kosher picnic for all of us (and she's not even Jewish! :) ), and we headed out. We never did find any of the letterboxes, but we had a great time exploring this park with all kinds of playgrounds, secret paths, woods, lake, ducks, creek, flowers, and plants. It was a really terrific place and not that far from us.

One thing that happened - Raizel has tinnea capitis on her scalp (it's like athlete's foot on her head) that was misdiagnosed as cradle cap at the doctor. The same friend we were with, NQ, is a pediatrician and told us what it actually was. Not common in northern climes and in pale-faced people, so she wasn't surprised that the doctor missed it. (Just so you know - tinnea capitis causes bald patches and cradle cap does not.) The fungus is deep under the scalp, so it actually takes a month of oral anti-fungals, not topical (meaning it's also not terribly contagious). We're on that now. Wahoo. So, she has a good-sized scaly, bald patch on her head. Well, during a microsecond of inattention, Raizel ran under Eli's swing and his feet hit her squarely on that patch.

WARNING: Don't read further if you don't like ooey descriptions of things...

I was horrified to see that the patch had gotten completely squished and was sticking up in places and bleeding, kind of like a giant scab had been knocked loose with pieces of it sticking up, coming off, bleeding, and looking kind of spongy (I warned you it was gross...). I quickly showed NQ and said, "Do you think we should take her to a doctor right away??" She looked at me and said, "You ARE with a doctor." Um, oh, yeah. I keep forgetting. She's my good friend, the parent of a piano student, and a pediatrician. I forgot. :) So, bless her heart, she took charge. We got Raizel home, got her into the bath, and I soaked her head while NQ ran out to buy special shampoo and antibacterial stuff. All this time, Raizel is basically oblivious and obviously not in pain or anything, B"H. It just looked awful. We got her hair washed as Raizel gleefully dumped bucket after bucket of water on her own head. Afterwards, we sat outside in the sunshine and NQ carefully combed up all the gunk she could find in the large patch and a couple of other places on her head. Well... after all that she looks 10x better than she did yesterday!!! Hashem takes care of these things one way or another. NQ said that now that a bunch of it had been removed from her head she was going to heal much faster. That plus the antifungals should have it knocked out in a jiffy. Hooray! So baruch hashem we were with a pediatrician, baruch hashem her scalp got all cleaned up due to an "accident" and baruch hashem Raizel never felt much pain (except for the initial kick in the head, I'm sure!).

After all that, I took Amirah and Eli to papa's work where they took a tram down the hill, then a street car, then a bus, then got a ride home with a friend for that last mile (by happenstance). They had a great adventure with papa.

I'm sure there's more that happened this week... I know we had a great time at a wading pool yesterday, and visiting another friend who pretty much has a complete park in her own back yard AND is considering adopting from Ethiopia too.

OH! One great thing... Amirah and I have managed to get to her studies every day this week (one hour of secular, 30 minutes of kodesh (religious), + 1 or 2 major art projects). It's not too different from our pre-summer routine except we're not studying Hebrew as a separate subject right now. We'll start that in earnest in mid-August. It's been really great. We're also back in the routine of reading from a big readaloud book every night for 30 minutes before sleep. Right now we're in the middle of The Boxcar Children and are really enjoying it. There are so many fantastic children's books written between 1900 and 1940. Almost invariably, those have been Amirah's favorites. It just feels really nice that our routine is starting to normalize. I think I've only done one mommy dance this week!

One last thing... the menu. It's shabbat after all...

Challah, chicken with barbecue sauce, roasted potatoes, green salad, sauteed bok choi, coleslaw w/apples and honey mustard dressing, and chocolate cherry cake (requested by Eli). Alas, unlike last week, none of this is waiting in the freezer to be defrosted. I was also going to make black bean soup, but nixed it since it's going to be 95 degrees. Black bean soup just didn't seem to cut it. Maybe there's a vichyssoise version of black bean soup somewhere. :)

Shabbat shalom!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quote of the Week

Mama (to her 3-year-old who lives on air and graham crackers): Eli, eat your chicken so your body will get nice and big and strong.

Eli: But mama, my body wants to be tiny.

Life in the Slow Lane

Lots of people look at me with four little kids 5 and under and say, wow, you must be busy. Yes, and no. There are endless housekeeping tasks, but I've really just been going for basic maintenance. Everyone fed and clothed? Good enough. There is a lot of very proactive parenting to be done in order to maintain harmonious relationships among all the littles, but Amirah and Eli are already pretty well-versed in that so it's mostly just Raizel that I really need to continuously coach. So in that sense, yes we're very busy!

But, there's another way in which we are not at all "busy." First of all, because it takes 90 minutes to dress everyone and change 3 diapers, you can't be in a hurry to get anywhere. So you get on a sock, and another sock, look for the missing sock, and hope that you still know where your keys are. Even if my mind is thinking at warp speed (or trying to), everything else is actually moving kind of weirdly slowly.

This busy/not busy contrast hit me most when we had spent the afternoon at a wading pool. It took a while to pack up all of our stuff, get the kids out of the pool and the playground, get them all into their car seats, and drive home. But I never rushed it. It probably took 45 minutes to leave the park that day, and definitely a good bit longer than that to leave the house in the first place, but even gathering them all into the car and driving home is just part of our life together and not a quick trip to the next thing, or a stressful ingathering of unwilling subjects.

Another thing I believe makes a difference - I have a single role to play with two parts, to be a good wife to my husband and to be a good mother to my children. I love these jobs, and I'm not trying to juggle multiple kinds of demands. I don't have the kids enrolled in eighteen thousand summer activities. Our only scheduled thing is two weeks of swimming lessons. Our days are definitely full, but only as full as we want them to be.

I'm sure ten years from now I'll say the years have flown by. But one week after Amirah's 5th birthday, I can still say that they have honestly not flown by. I have experienced and savored almost all of her five years right along with her. Our life is relatively simple, relatively stress-free, and really pretty peaceful.

Shalom bayit - peace in the home and peace between husband and wife - is one of the highest Jewish ideals, and great lengths are taken to preserve it. The word "shalom" also means "whole." Our lives are whole, not fragmented. I also really believe that shalom bayit is almost entirely dependent on the wife. It really is up to us to make our homes warm, welcoming and relaxing sanctuaries for all who enter. I am very pleased to be the gatekeeper in this holy place.

Why I Cook and Do the Dishes

If I go out in the evening after dinner, the last thing I want to do is come home to a kitchen where the dishes are all put away, the table is wiped off, and the dishwasher is humming. Why? Because that means that a good chunk of my husband's precious time with the kids has gone down the drain, literally. I'd much rather come home to all the dirty dishes and see four beaming children who have been wrestling with their papa and reading books all evening. I can do the dishes after everyone else is asleep. The time is actually pretty nice. It's quiet. I can think any old thought I want to, and even remember what the thought was 30 seconds later. And I can think about Eli's face as he proudly shows me how papa fixed a broken toy. Who cares about the mess? :)

Friday, June 20, 2008


We are weaving. Bit by bit, the children are being woven into true siblings. You should have heard the cheers when Eli used the toilet several times today (something we're working on... 2 in diapers would be good; 1 even better!). Raizel was running around outside shouting, "Yay, Eli! Poo-poo, Eli! Yay!!!!" It was pretty hilarious. Shabbat starts soon. What's cooking? Challah, jerk chicken, Jamaican rice and beans, guacamole, chips, cilantro coleslaw salad, apple cake, apple strudel, roasted corn, and Caesar salad. And tomorrow we're having our first shabbat guest since we got home. Things are really in a groove and it was a really great week. Now we set everything else aside, enjoy a great meal, go to sleep early, and enjoy a nice, relaxing day. What a gift.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the Week

Amirah: Mama, I think that anyone who does not listen to you should be called Peter.

Mama: Why do you think they should be called Peter?????

Amirah: You know, like Peter Rabbit who went into Mr. MacGregor's garden when his mama had told him not to. He got into a lot of trouble.

Mama: You know, you're right. From now on, we'll call that person a Peter.

Rolls of giggles from everyone.

Eli: Was I being a Peter, mama?

Mama: Yes, Eli, you were definitely being a Peter.


I'm not a shopper (understatement), but I really had to share what's been most useful lately:

The Ergo backpack - You can wear it on the front, back, or side. Without changing the adjustments, I can put Avi or Raizel in it, and they both like it.

The high chair from Ikea - It's all plastic, easy to clean, much smaller than your normal high chair, and only cost about $18. It's perfect for Raizel, and is just now starting to work for Avi.

The Jeep double stroller from Babies 'R' Us - I can feed Avi in the backpack and still easily push it one-handed with 2 other kids in it, unlike my old ultra-bulky double stroller which also took up almost ALL the trunk space in the minivan.

My napkins, placemats, and towels - They make seriously good wrapping paper. Amirah's presents looked CUTE, we didn't have to throw any of it away, and of course it was free.

There were so many more things on my mind lately, but those brain cells are making mass exits out the window (and it has nothing to do with the late hour). Oh, well.

The Plan Is Working

Eli has been positively flourishing since last Thursday. He's sparkly and enthusiastic, dancing from room to room. All the papa attention on him has truly made a big difference. It is so nice to see. We've also managed to do a nice amount of reading, writing, math, torah study, and art projects with Amirah (with sidekicks coming in and out of what we're doing). We even went strawberry picking, but only lasted long enough to pick a pound. It's only $1.25/pound for u-pick, but the gas brought that up to $5.50/pound. Oh, well!

Today was Amirah's 5th birthday, and it was really a perfect day for her. We met some friends at the little local amusement park. Raizel went on her first rides. I thought she would never get on a ride without me, but she did! Five times! I'm so happy to see all these little signs of gaining confidence in her. Then we went on a picnic lunch at the riverside park next to the amusement park. We played tag, saw baby ducks, ate a nice lunch, and enjoyed the sunshine. After our picnic, we dropped Amirah off at papa's work and she spent an hour "working" in his office before she took the bus home with him. BIG adventure. Amirah and papa went to pick up a birthday cake, then we took another picnic to a nearby park and ate, opened presents, and played on the playground. It was a really nice day. She was very happy, and everyone got all tanked up on cuddles, giggles, and general coziness. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Fine Day

Thursday, June 12 was definitely the best day of last week. Amirah had been wanting to do the *whole* science museum here for the longest time, so we packed up all of us plus lunch and did it! We had a great time. I brought the double stroller plus the Ergo backpack (my one splurge this time around - GREAT backpack; I wish I'd had one all along!!!!!!). I shuffled Raizel, Avi, and Eli between the two seats in the stroller and the backpack. They all liked having multiple options and it really kept everyone pretty happy. Avi took a nap at the museum, then Avi and Raizel got their big naps in the car on the way home.

Soon after we got home, papa got home, then our babysitter arrived! Mama, papa, and the Bigs headed out for an evening of adventures while the Littles stayed with the babysitter. We took dinner outside and had a great time, then off to a creek to look at ducks, to the teacher store to play with trains (and buy stickers; Eli also got a "school" book and he was so totally excited), then to Petco to look at the animals, then to Baskin-Robbins for, guess what? Ice cream! :) We had 4 birthday coupons for free ice creams. So we did 4 free things. Pretty good, especially since we had to pay for babysitting. Totally worth it though. Eli was positively beaming from all the special attention. It was so good for the two Bigs to have a special outing. This has also culminated in altering our parenting approach.

Dean and I had been thinking of his time after work as helping to relieve me from the intensity of parenting Avi and Raizel. Then I realized that really, for me, the main stress was *not* coming from intensively parenting them but from what it often meant for Eli and Amirah - that there was less time focused on them individually. Eli has been especially sensitive to this, I think mostly because the relationships have altered his position in the family much more radically than any of the rest of us. I am still mama; papa is still papa; Amirah is still the oldest; but Eli is no longer the baby (x 2!). So instead of thinking of papa's homecoming as relief time, we're going to have him focus tons on Amirah and Eli. He'll take them to the library, the park, and play with legos and rocket ships and blocks. Avi and Raizel really need most of their needs met by mama, and Eli seems to REALLY need his papa. So, that's our new plan!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quote of the Week

(Actually, this was the quote of the week a couple of weeks ago when Dean went back to work.) Dean, looking around at all the kids, the messy house, a large stack of dishes, and 6 bins of laundry: "Goodbye, dear, I'm going back on vacation." :)

And tomorrow (well, today since it's after midnight) is DH's birthday. In honor of him, I have to tell a funny story. Several months ago I was cleaning up some used diapers and putting them in the diaper bin. I realized it needed to be emptied so I started to fiddle with it. I was shocked to realize that after 4-1/2 years of changing diapers I had NO IDEA HOW THE DIAPER BIN OPENED! DH had quietly emptied out the diapers without my hardly realizing it and NOT ONCE had I emptied the diaper bin in all that time. WOW. That's just one story of hundreds that illustrates what an absolutely devoted, helpful, and enthusiastic husband and father he is. We are all blessed by his being the head of this family.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bris Pictures

Here is our rosh kollel and his father. His father flies around the world and performs britot milah for more difficult cases, i.e. older babies, adults, etc. He has done nearly 15,000 britot in his lifetime (!). He was wonderful and we felt extremely fortunate to be in such capable hands.

Raizel, fiddling with the parochet (the curtain in front of the ark that holds the torah) before the bris.

Here is Mr. Avi. He did not like being held down, so that made him cry. The bris itself did not make him cry since he had been administered a local anesthetic.

Here is Rabbi F the older, Rabbi F the younger, the papa, and the papa's papa (and sandek).

Here's the little man. Such a good sport!

Here's the mama with Eli. Front row and center. Weird, I know, but I also stood really close for Eli's bris. It's all for a good cause!

Eli having a thoughtful moment. Or maybe experiencing a flashback...

Our own Rabbi B.

Papa and Avi, after the deed is done.

Mama, papa, and Avi.

Papa, Grandpa D., and Avi.

Our family, plus the only family that could make it with 4 days notice! My parents just happened to be visiting last week. My dad, Eli, Dean's dad, Avi, Dean, me, Raizel, my mom, and Amirah down below.

And breakfast. Yum.

It was really a very nice morning. A wonderful turnout, ***wonderful*** mohel (B"H), good food, and I actually got everyone dressed and out the door and there on time!

Are the kids Jewish yet? No, not quite. The last part is for me to fly with Raizel and Avi to Milwaukee, WI for a 5-minute dip in a mikveh. Yep, a 3-hour flight (x 2) for a 5-minute dip. Why Milwaukee? There is a top-notch beit din there (as in the conversions are *universally* accepted) that works with smaller communities that do not have their own beit din (Jewish court). Oh, yes, we have a mikveh, but it's owned by Chabad and Chabad does not allow their mikveh to be used for conversions (I think because that would be "taking sides" in the conversion issues and deciding who is Jew). There is a larger community 3 hours away, but that community stopped working with ours several years ago. Los Angeles is a 2-1/2 hour flight away and we have family there, so that would have been nice, but since Portland (and our family) already has a relationship with this beit din, it puts the whole process on greased wheels instead of it being a bigger bal egan to get it done. (How on earth do you translate bal egan - um, pain in the tush?? Big deal??? Hmmm...) So... sometime soon, BE"H, Avi, Raizel, and I will head to the midwest and finish this up. Hooray.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Successful bris

Avi was a champ, the mohel was a pro, and we had 60 people at shul for breakfast. :) I also somehow managed to get all 4 kids dressed and out the door at 7:15 (Dean left at 6:30 for morning services). There was definitely more blood than with a newborn bris and he required 5 stitches, but Avi has weathered it very well, baruch hashem. I called the rabbi in the early afternoon and asked when we should expect the local anesthetic to wear off, and he said it probably had already worn off a couple of hours ago (!). So, he's not even on aspirin or anything and was looking around grinning and eating as if not much had happened today. He didn't even take a longer nap than usual. He's a tough little guy. It was a very nice occasion, and it was a very nice gathering of friends and family. Please, hashem, let the rest of his healing go as smoothly.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Well, it was the worst day of the week today. Not too bad considering that I've been strutting around the house saying, "I'm da mama, I'm da mama" for pretty much 5 days straight. Yeah. Whap.

The daytime is a dim memory already. Grandma and Grandpa were here in the afternoon. Eli was having a roaring good tantrum. Grandpa was defrosting the freezers in the garage (thank G-d, they were overdue and one wasn't staying closed properly). I spent 12:15-1:00 making a lunch that nobody but me ate (well, probably 10 minutes making lunch, 35 minutes running interference with the kids). Raizel (who had not slept well the night before) fell asleep in mom's lap on the couch. Finally at 2:30 we got it all together and went to... THE ROSE FESTIVAL. My dad, again bless his heart a hundred times, stayed home with Avi who was still napping. Raizel had fits being in the stroller and wanted me to carry her. I'm putting tons of effort into post-adoption bonding, but lugging around a 26-pounder in my arms all afternoon is NOT something that's possible. So, lots of screaming.

Then we got ice cream. YUM, I thought. (Memories of getting ice cream at the Hilton in Addis already gone... we didn't really clear 5 tables of people sitting near us, did we?? Don't ask...) Well, Raizel had fits about something to do with the ice cream. Her fit was about as indecipherable as Eli's tantrum earlier in the day. Next, 3-year-old Eli popped out of his chair, skipped over to Raizel's place popped a spoonful of his own ice cream into her mouth, and skipped back to his chair. Raizel was so astonished that she immediately stopped fussing and finished her own ice cream. The rest of the time went pretty well - watching a little circus show, going on a pony ride (Amirah), and going on 3 other little rides. They had a good time. We hiked back to the car and went home.

It was dinnertime and my parents were heading back to my sister's. Dean was leaving in 10 minutes for a fundraising dinner. I quickly looked up the information for him to make sure I remembered the time and place correctly, barely saying goodbye to my parents. Then they were gone and he was gone and it was just me. And 4 tired, hungry kids. OY.

In those two hours, all of these things happened:

Dinner. Oops. Only 2 hot dogs. 3 kids. Not good. We made do. Don't even ask about the kosher meat problem that's going on right now. If you keep kosher, you already know. If you don't, it's too awful to repeat. Unless you want to google Rubashkin's in the news. (For the record, we are no longer purchasing their products.)

Shampoos. Yeah! Clean hair is good. Shampoo Raizel's hair. Nice. Lots of conditioner for her. Then Amirah. Does her own shampooing now. Yes. Great. Bounce and tickle Avi in between scrubbings. Halfway through Amirah's shampooing, Raizel looks up at me and says, "Caca." Yeah, sure. She says that every 5 minutes. Oh. Yep, look at that little log. Yank the kids out. Raizel's slightly messy. Needs a new diaper. Amirah is slightly - no, terribly - cold. Towel doesn't help. Howling girl. Eli. Uh-oh. Poop running down his leg as he kicks his own pants off and says that he's poopy too. Quickly clean up R, grab E before he spreads the mess. A still howling. Now A the smaller (baby) is howling too. No one is paying attention to him in the bouncy seat in the bathroom. Where did everyone go???? Ignore Big A and Little A. Clean up R&E. Done. Rush Big A upstairs (lingering glance at the 200 straws E has dumped on the kitchen floor), turn on shower, rinse out shampoo, leave her in shower. Rush downstairs. Get Little A. Bounce him up and down a little. Look briefly at contamination site. Clean out the obvious offenders, then close that room down for business until I can decontaminate the tub, toys, and washcloths.

Okay. Everyone in pajamas now. Except Amirah. Oops. Is that her calling, er, screaming my name from the shower? Uh, yeah. Run upstairs. R howls. Does not like it when mama goes upstairs without her. Gets to bathroom. Bath mat is not back from the washer yet. Floor wet. Amirah slipped. Ouch. Back up on her feet. Finish her shower then into jammies.

Papa comes home. Yay. Sit for 10 minutes. Ahhhhh....

Time for Avi's medicine (thrush stuff & antibiotics). Down go the antibiotics. Wait a minute! Avi can't take any meds on a full stomach. He's very sensi-- Uh oh. At least he missed our one nice couch. I and the floor on the other hand - T-O-A-S-T. More laundry. Hmmmm... Better clean up.

Go over to the counter to get paper-- OH NO! Raizel is holding an empty bottle of antibiotics and sucking on it! Make her throw up NOW! Salt water, quick. Oh, there it all is. On her tummy and on the floor under the high chair. Under the high chair? B"H, it's a nice big puddle under the high chair. And on her jammies. Quick, take off her clothes. Rinse out her face, arms, and hair. Still sticky. Hm. Re-do. Okay. Toss in laundry. No, Raizel, not the big puddle in the living room!!!! Stay in the kitchen.

Well, the various puddles got cleaned up, the various children got their jammies and went to bed, and the various parents recovered from the day. I even got the *whole* kitchen and living room cleaned up. I know it will only look that nice until the morning, but hey, I'll take it. I think I'll finish my evening by crawling in bed with my daughter for a few extra minutes of cuddling after a wild and woolly day. She's been a trooper through all the fits today, and today when she was having one of her own (about the interrupted bath), she took a deep breath and said, "I'm going to try really hard not to let my yetzer hara win..." (Yetzer hara is the part of us that just acts/reacts instinctually like an animal, as opposed to our yetzer hatov which lifts us up to more noble things.) She's my girl!!

Tomorrow, everything will be under control. Or if not, at least the sink is gleaming.

It's a Bris!

Little Avraham Mordechai will be having his bris (circumcision) this Thursday at (gasp) 7:30 in the morning at our shul. I do not do mornings, and I definitely don't do mornings with 4 under 5. Except this Thursday. This Thursday I'll do a morning. I think we'll all have to sleep in our clothes or something. Or sleep at shul! Yeah, that's it. Everyone is welcome, noshes to follow (so at least I don't need to get them all breakfast). If I haven't sent you an invitation it's not because you weren't invited but just because I've had a severe case of mommy amnesia this week, so please come anyway!! It was a last minute announcement. Avi, being an older baby, may require sutures for his bris so a special mohel is required. B"H, that special mohel is the father of our rosh kollel and happens to be in town this Thursday! So, a-bris-ing we will go.