Friday, January 30, 2009

The Menu

Here 'tis:

gefilte fish
sticky chicken
sesame noodle salad
roasted zucchini and carrots
roasted sweet potaotes
marinated mixed vegetable salad
chocolate cake with tofu chocolate frosting

And for lunch...

pastrami sandwiches!

Reading to the Dog

This post is dedicated to EE. Not for the content. Just because. :)

Today right after swimming Amirah had a time reserved at "Reading to the Dogs" in the room adjacent to the pool room. Convenient! She and I went in and met Maggie the Dog, a very, very sweet yellow lab. They hung out for a couple of minutes while Amirah enjoyed watching her devour a rawhide bone, then they got down to the business of reading. Maggie's owner would help out whenever Amirah got stuck, and she read with a lot of good focus, wanting to make sure it was a good story for the dog, of course! The book she chose was Dr. Seuss's Hop on Pop. Maggie enjoyed it very much and so did Amirah. She would read 2 or 3 pages, then pet her back or scratch her ears. It was really nice to do some reading in a different context. We're planning to go every Thursday after swimming.

Other than that, we've all been hacking away with colds. Some worse than others. Papa again, bless his heart, took dear daughter to her OMSI science class. This week's class was "Simple Machines" and they learned about inclined planes, axles, wheels, and many other things like that. Amirah really enjoys those classes a lot.

We also had an independent appraiser take a look at the van. (I have a great recommendation if anyone ever, G-d forbid, needs one in the Portland area!). It looks like our insurance company offered us less than half its value, but we'll find out soon. We'll get a report by the end of next week. Apparently, such a lowball offer is egregious and can be the basis for being officially penalized. We'll see... In the meantime, if our van passes smog this next week I reckon we'll take the insurance money, fix the rear window and call it good. If not, we'll have to decide if we get the van up to snuff or put all our money into getting a new-to-us full-size van. Something like a GMC Safari or Ford Econoline. That's what we wanted to get in 1-2 years, just weren't planning on it quite yet. It would make a cross-country trip to a (please, Hashem) new city much easier. And camping trips, or any vacation trip, would be much easier with the extra room. Plus I really want to be able to take a friend or two with us on adventures whenever we want to. No room for that in our vintage Odyssey (1995). So... decisions to be made. Probably best to stick to the 2-year-plan for a new van, if possible... On the other hand, maybe we're not supposed to get it fixed??? Why on earth would it have sat at a body shop for TWO WEEKS and not had ANY WORK done on it? That was just plain... ODD.

The only other news is that Dean's unit is officially being dissolved, reportedly at the end of the fiscal year (June 30). He does have a good shot at picking up basically his same-ish job in the unit to where it's being transferred, though. We're just very grateful that we started the job/relocation search two months ago.

That's all the news from this week... here's to healthy bodies and a restful shabbat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Interesting Post by a Lebanese Christian

Here is a very informative, interesting guest post by a Lebanese Christian woman whose family was chased out of Lebanon by the Muslims. Her family had lived there for generations and had warmly welcomed their new Muslim neighbors. There's a lot to learn here. And so many Americans are *still* surprised to learn that such hatred actually exists.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Helping Jews in the US Military

Here's a great link on ways to help Jews that are serving in the US military. It also lists organizations that you can support.

An Article in Defense of Israel

Thanks to IC for bringing this to my attention.

Our Week of Learning

Alef Bet - The workbook from has been great. Amirah started being Raizel's alef bet learning partner, and I am Eli's. Since Raizel is doing it with us, we're just going to go forwards again through the alef bet. :) Amirah loves being Raizel's teacher. She works to elicit responses rather than just give answers, and she's been very patient with her. Raizel really enjoys it too. In fact, so much that her new treasure that she begs to read is Shaar Alef Beis. We reviewed the first 6 letters today (alef to hei, including vet) and she did great! I think she and Eli might just end up starting Kindergarten at the same time. That would simplify things a little! Eli is happily reviewing his letters.

Here's Amirah working with Raizel on gimmel.

And here's my study partner coloring away...

Oral Hebrew - Didn't do much of this this week!

Kriyah - Just cruising along, doing a page a day in her reading book.

Parsha - second parsha of Shemot/Exodus. I downloaded some really fun pictures of the parsha from After we finished reading the parsha from the chumash and hearing the stories in Little Midrash, I told the story (with lots of active dramatizations!) from the picture cards, then asked lots of questions about each picture. Then the bigs worked on putting the story pictures in order. A little tricky... this one is about the plagues and you have to remember the order in which they occurred.

Mitzvah/melacha/middah of the week - didn't quite get to these this week...

Reading - We did 2 lessons in Teach Your Child to Read and did 2 lessons in Hooked on Phonics. That went pretty well. I don't really love the reading books that come with Hooked on Phonics. I like the stories in the Old McGuffey readers, so maybe we'll do some of those.

Writing - We just did some of the practice writing in Handwriting Without Tears. Eli can write his own name, but suddenly started spontaneously writing other letters too. He was having a lot of fun with that! Here's what they look like.

Then Raizel got so interested in what Eli was doing that she wanted to try it too, so Eli wrote down his name and Raizel copied it. She's a smart cookie!

Math - I thought we might just do a page a day since we've zoomed so fast, but Amirah wouldn't hear of it. I think we did about 12 pages or so.

Readaloud - Eragon and Watchers at the Pond

Art - card stock embroidery and free drawing

Science - While we didn't do anything specifically for this, Amirah went to the science museum for a class on the physics of sound. She LOVED the class, and thought the teacher and kids were all really nice. It was made extra-special by papa taking the day off and bringing her in the morning. I'm so glad she liked it - I signed her up for several other one-shot classes there. And it's a bargain. We get school rates, so it's only $5 for a 50-minute class. I also read through the 7-unit sample of the R.E.A.L. Science biology curriculum that I downloaded and pritned and I loved it. I'm thinking of starting it soon, since Amirah is so interested in science. She couldn't really fill in and write all the answers on the worksheets, but she could certainly narrate them. And the activities seem right up her alley.

Outings - Still a limited due to the car (not) being fixed.

Music - mostly reviewed stuff from previous weeks.

I think that's most of what we did! That and some baking, and lots and lots of playing.

Art Projects

Amirah did a really funny picture of Eli early in the week.

And another one of "prehistoric reptiles."

Then when Amirah's friend, N., was here, we did a REALLY fun project. I got the idea from a library book on hand-sewing (I'm really looking forward to when we can do all kinds of needlework projects!). I never thought of doing embroidery on card stock. I found designs on the internet (you can go to and enter the image you're looking for, then there's a menu you can scroll down and select line-drawings). I printed them off on card stock, punched the holes with an awl so we could use big yarn/big needles. Here are 3 of the designs.

And here's the one that Amirah did on Monday. They spent 60 minutes tirelessly working on them, all the while exclaiming, "We love this art project!"

Here's Amirah's flower:

Readaloud #2

This one is so good, it may pre-empt Watchers at the Pond for a while. We're reading Eragon. It was written in 2003 by a 15-year-old homeschooler. Hard to believe! It's very well written, and a fun read so far. We could get hooked though. It's the first part of a trilogy!

Moments from the Week

What a week! Two birthday parties (to go to), a class on Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick) at shul for the kids, wrestling with the car, swimming lessons, art/music class, and a physics of sound class at OMSI for Amirah. Plus our learning time. It was all pretty good.

Here are just some fun pictures from the week... Didn't really get one of Amirah!

Eli practicing his back floats in the bathtub. He's so funny... At his first swim session, he loved it. Every time we went to his second swim session he said he didn't want to go. Now this session he's chomping at the bit to get to the pool and every day asks when swimming is. :)

Avi trying to wear a kippah.

A happy girl...
And a happy boy...

A really happy boy!

And a REALLY happy boy!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Bad Body Shop

Bad. Very bad. They did finally fess up to all their, um, oopses when DH picked up the car today. The short version is that it sat at that body shop for two weeks and not a bit of work got done on it. So... we now own a salvage vehicle, but you really can't tell by looking at it at all. There's a small chunk of plastic broken above the window, and DH says there is damage on the roof, but I sure can't see it. And I'm tall! :) So, we'll get cash from the insurance company and use part of that to pay for a replacement rear window and bank the rest of it. Now it will also be cheaper to insure, since we'll just carry liability and nothing for the car itself. We just want it to last for another two years or so, and mechanically it's in pretty good shape. The damage beyond the window is purely cosmetic. So that's that! Now we're just hoping the insurance makes a decent offer on the car so we don't have to battle that too. We should hear by Monday at the latest. Shabbat shalom, everyone!

The Menu

Here 'tis:

buffalo brisket (last one for a while!)
mixed sauteed veggies
rice pasta pilaf
arugula salad
roasted carrots
sauteed spaghetti squash
lemon soy tofu pudding

And for lunch... chicken with barbecue sauce

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The. Car. Is. Totaled.

Remember that (not so little) branch that took out the rear window? Well, it turns out it did in the roof too, to the tune of $4K. Hmmmm... The car sat at the body shop for A WEEK before they called us and said, "Um, we think it needs a little more work than we thought." As in, they didn't even have time to LOOK at it until it had been sitting there for a week! Now we're waiting to hear back from the insurance company. We're hoping just to get the window replaced, make sure it's structurally fine, and then happily go on our way with dents in the roof. Good grief. I would kind of like the car back to go on some outings with the kids. It looks like it could take nearly 3 weeks total! Oh, well. At least it's just a car, and no one was in it.

Our New Readaloud

We started a wonderful new readaloud book tonight—Watchers on the Pond. Wow! The language is incredibly rich. Even if you don't know what they mean, it's a lot of fun to read words like "phantasmagorical" and "hibernaculum." I'll explain any words that Amirah asks about, but otherwise we just soak up the sounds. The second chapter is called "The Sleeping Billions" and it details all the many lifeforms, from the most microscopic to the larger animals. One is left in awe that so many, many lifeforms live around this one little pond. And 500,000,000 of them there are earthworms! Incredible.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote of the Week

We were talking about the Jews eating mana in the desert. The mana tasted like whatever they desired it to taste like - oranges, cheese, cake... So...

Mama: Eli, what would you want your mana to taste like?
Eli: Beans!!!
Mama: Beans??
Eli: Yeah, I like those.

(Mama can't figure out when Eli has actually eaten beans and liked them too.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Mimic Octopus

In our weekly foray into BBC and National Geographic on Youtube, we found our favorite creature of the week. Enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

This Week's Nature Walk

We had such a good time on our walk! We spent about an hour in our front yard, an hour ambling through the neighborhood, and an hour at the park. I really thought we'd only be gone for an hour and a half or so, so we sure were ready for lunch when we got back.


First we looked at all the trees and identified which ones were evergreen and which were deciduous. We have gigantic fir trees in the yard (source of the car-crushing branch!), and we spent quite a while investigating these.

We really got interested in the bark. It has deep crevices with lots of sap dripping down in a couple of places.

There are many, many insect holes, some small, some large.

There were several varieties of moss growing on the bark, each a different shade of green.

We saw many insects, but this was our favorite:

We see them all over around here, but haven't yet found out what they're called.

We saw many trees with bright red berries on the tips.

We saw lots of wonderful, messy, big squirrels' nests.

We wondered who lived down here:

A dried thistle...

And finally... THE PLAYGROUND!

Our Week of Learning

A nice week!

Tefillah - still nothing new here, just refining what we're already doing...

Alef Bet - Eli started worked on the vowel patach this week (sounds like "ah"). I also printed off an alef bet workbook from and made a copy for Raizel and Eli. This time, we'll do a fast review of the alef bet going backwards. He knows the first half of the alef bet cold since it was reviewed so many times. Now we'll put a similar amount of review into the back half. :) He's happy - he missed doing his alef bet worksheets.

Oral Hebrew - We've had lots of fun reading stories from our newish book for oral Hebrew. We've acquired a few new teachers too. Our old ones were: Ze'evi the Wolf, Tzemi the Sheep, and Achbar the Mouse. Now we also have Squid the Squirrel and Henry the Spider. Our book is full of stories, so mostly we just do lots of storytelling and the puppets ask A (mostly) lots of questions about the story, and sometimes they tell the story together. It's been really fun. We're working on feminine and masculine verb endings.

Kriyah - I LOVE our Migdalor book. We read four pages per week, which is perfect. We should finish it up around mid-June. The pacing is just right. We also have a set of flash cards for biblical Hebrew. We started picking a word 1-2x/week (Amirah's idea!). She copies the word, then draws a picture of it. Our first word was saviv ("surrounding"). And surround it she did! We'll keep a notebook for our "dictionary."

Parsha - we started Shemot (Exodus) this week! Moshe is getting ready to lead the Jews out of Egypt and Hashem is getting ready to let loose a whole bunch of plagues. It's been quite dramatic!

Mitzvah of the week - bikkur cholim (we studied this one before, but this week the shul was having a class on bikkur cholim - visiting the sick - so we went ahead and reviewed it).

Melacha of the week - borer. This has to do with picking out something from something else. We are only allowed (on shabbat) to pick out the thing we want from the thing we don't want (a GREAT metaphor!), and we are not allowed to pick out the thing we don't want. This is a very complex melacha so we're going to study it for another week.

Middah of the week - we studied the middah of kibbud av v'eim (respecting your mother and father). This is also one we will study for two weeks, as it too is quite broad.

Reading - We only have two of the supplementary books left for the Level One of Hooked on Phonics. We're pretty much done with that. I'm hoping this week to return to Teach Your Child to Read. Three lessons per week (plus two days of reading games) should have us finishing the book in 2-3 months.

Writing - This week we practiced writing the names of everyone in the family. I've noticed some of her carefulness disappearing, so we're going to go back to our handwriting book this week and put renewed emphasis on choosing a letter and writing it really well 3-4 times only. These really short lessons on letter formation are great, and it means that every time she makes a letter the muscles (and brain!) are learning to draw it correctly.

Math - I just LOVE Singapore math. It is such a good fit for Amirah. We've gone through it pretty fast, so instead of doing 2 pages a day (or some days she would zoom through 7 or 8 because she felt like it!) I think we'll just do one page per day and maybe finish up sometime in April.

Math Games - Bridges continues to be a favorite. This week we started a game called Fives. I took three decks and pulled out all the aces through fives. You play just like Go Fish, but instead of putting down pairs you put down any combination of cards that adds up to 5. As you get good at that, you can add more cards until you are playing Tens! It's a really great way to review "number bonds" as they're called in Singapore Math, as in 4 and 1 are linked to 5. Take the 1 out, you're left with the 4. Take the 4 out you're left with the 1. Put them together and they make 5. Seeing all these relationships at once is really great for gaining a deep understanding of how addition and subtraction actually WORK, and how the numbers relate to each other. It's not immediately obvious to a 5-year-old that both 2+3 AND 3+2 make 5. After playing a few rounds of Fives, 4 & 1 and 2 & 3 are forever linked to 5 in her mind. It's really interesting to watch. I love these math games. I think after we finish our Kindergarten Math book, we'll focus pretty much on these kinds of games that reinforce everything she's learned so far. Until she starts begging for her First Grade book in any case. Just have to say one more time: I LOVE Singapore Math. I think it develops a very three-dimensional understanding of mathematics. And Amirah really loves math, so for her the extra difficulty is a challenge she gets excited about rather than turned off by.

Readaloud - We are all done with Laura Ingalls Wilder for now. Farewell, dear friend.

Art - We drew a picture with permanent marker on foil, then colored the picture with acrylic paint. We also traced pictures of our hands, decorated the hands, cut them out, then glued them to popsicle sticks to make "hand puppets." Ha, ha, ha. Lots of freeform drawing too. Amirah's people are starting to have all their parts there. :)

Science - We had a really fun nature walk, first in our own front yard, than into our neighborhood. I'll do a separate post on that as I have lots of fun pictures. Not too much else for science. I'm drooling over R.E.A.L. Science for Kids and am thinking of getting the biology curriculum soon. Amirah would swoon with glee.

Outings - These were a bit limited! Our smashed car is on vacation at the mechanic's. It went on Monday and won't be back until Tuesday (8 days later).

Music - We had a lovely music class with our girls group on Monday. Some examples of what we did: I played "mystery rhythms" on the hand drum to see if they could guess which poem I was "saying". They were great guessers! We sightread rhythms with drums and with our voices. We added new rhythmic accompaniments to a couple of our songs. We worked on high and low sounds and sang a rhyme about Moshe's staff turning into a snake. We added a nice xylophone accompaniment. And we reviewed a song called "Yaakov Had a Dream." It was really fun, and their musical skills are really coming along.

Other than that, we had swimming lessons, dinner delivery to a family who just had triplets (oy, yoy, yoy!), teaching piano to my group of 3 brothers, and going to my grownup torah study class. Very nice indeed! With the car coming home on Tuesday (BE"H!), I think we'll have to go on a good adventure outing Wednesday or Thursday.

I've been drooling over curriculum options for first grade too. I'm just a homeschooling junkie. :)

2,753 Pages!

We're finished! We read the last Laura Ingalls Wilder book on Friday night. The First Four Years is a very different book from the first eight. The tone of the book is much flatter and paints events with a much broader brush. Some of the sparkle of the first eight books is also missing. However, this book was never really intended for publication and was actually published posthumously.

Having read all the books now, I must say that Farmer Boy was probably my favorite. While Laura's pa taught primarily by example, Almanzo's pa taught him both by example and through direct ethical instruction. There were many more springboards for additional discussions. All the books are treasures, to be sure. I really cherished every page and I look forward to reading it all again sometime.

Our next readaloud ideas include Eragon (for something completely different!), Little Women, and the books by Rose Wilder (Laura Wilder's daughter). Laura Ingalls Wilder has been our companion for four months now, and I will really miss her! But I'm looking forward to diving into something new now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Menu

Here 'tis:

butternut squash soup
arugula salad
roasted mixed vegetables
roast chicken
apple poppyseed coleslaw
steamed brown rice

No Car

Our car, which had the possibility of being ready today, won't be. :( So now we won't get it back until Tuesday. But will we let that ruin our plans of a family adventure on Monday? Nope! We're going to bus and train all over Portland. The kids will think it's a terrific adventure - and they're all free! And on Tuesday we'll be so very glad to have our (intact) car back. Yay.


Today was airplane day. First, a HUGE miracle on the Hudson River. I happened to turn on the radio at the moment the news started breaking. I immediately had tears and shivers. This was a real nes (miracle), partnered with a pilot who did everything exactly right. With the help of Hashem and that pilot, more than 150 lives have been spared. May they all use this experience to boost the good they do in this world. I can't imagine that an experience like that could do anything but inspire a person to live a good life.

Then... right after swimming lessons we zoomed to the library and got there three minutes before closing. We picked up, among other things, a paper airplane book that we had requested. After dinner tonight we pulled it out, and this spatial-reasoning-challenged mama actually was able to make the airplanes in the book! The directions were really clear, and gave me hope that I might be able to do origami that has more than four steps after all. :) The book is called Making Paper Airplanes That Really Fly. And fly they did! There were only a couple of designs that had me completely flummoxed. We had a lot of fun.

Nothing like keeping those dendrites growing!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

Mama: Eli, be quiet in the hallway. Avi is still sleeping.
Eli: No, mama, Avi is making a sound.
Mama: No, Eli. I'm pretty sure he's still sleeping.
Eli: No, mama! He's making the sound of alef!

(Alef is a silent letter in the Hebrew alphabet.)

Two Good Family Movies

We have watched two fun family movies in the last two weeks. The first one was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was much more fun than I remembered. It was produced the same year I was born (1968). The music is great fun, and we've requested the cd from the library. Just one note - there's a slightly risqué underwear scene in the big duet between the king and the queen. Scene-skipping is good! Just in case you want to check ahead of time so you're fore-armed. :) I thought it was an odd scene to include since the rest were so very kid-friendly.

The other movie was Ballet Shoes. This is the story of three orphans (who are homeschooled by their foster mother!). It takes place in London in the 1930s. One wants to be a ballerina, one an actress, and the other an aviator. We thought it was very sweet, and the kids enjoyed it too.

Wow, two good ones in a row. That's a record for us lately.

Our Favorite Narrator

This is a David Attenborough clip about the Lyre Bird. It should actually be called a Liar Bird! We thought this was really funny.

Monday, January 12, 2009

We Have a Soldier!

Yanki Schneck, Assistant Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, has begun partnering up Israeli soldiers with people who will daven (pray) and study torah in their merit. We just received the name of our soldier. His name is Ravit ben Batya Sisel. We only have the Hebrew form of his name which is "Ravit son of Batya Sisel" so we will not likely ever know who he actually is, but we will be closely connected to him nonetheless. I can't wait to share this with the kids tomorrow.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Good Article

A friend in Israel, who is also adopting from Ethiopia BE"H (court date next month!), wrote an article that takes a peek at what has been happening in Sderot for years. Sderot is just 1 mile from the border with Gaza and has had rockets lobbed across the border at it for years.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Menu

Here 'tis:

egg drop soup
sweet potato gratin
roasted zucchini
brown rice
caesar salad
pan-fried chicken breasts with balsamic mushroom sauce
cranberry pie

And for lunch:

shepherd's pie

Shabbat shalom!


We now have THREE fully potty-trained kids. Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a few short months ago I only had 1.5 potty-trained kids. I'm so excited about this. Raizel trained without any effort on my part. Well, maybe a tiny bit for daytime training, but none for nighttime. Eli took forever for daytime, but none at all for nighttime. Unlike our experience with DD #1! I'm doing a happy mommy dance now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cars, Shmars

The part to fix the rear end of the car still hasn't come in from California. We're hoping to take the car in on Monday now. They should have a free loaner car for us too (yay). Meanwhile, we're enjoying the excellent air circulation that keeps us all perky.

On Tuesday we did our first late-afternoon swim lesson with papa in charge of all of them, and it worked out great. I picked him up at work, they dropped me off at my students' house, they went to the community center and had their lessons (well A&E did anyway!), papa entertained the littles, and they arrived back at my students' house spot on time. Tuesday everyone seemed on the slightly cranky side, so my little bit of teaching felt like a mini-vacation, and everyone was back in good spirits for dinner. A&E are thrilled that papa will get to watch them swim once a week, and I'll get to watch them the other day. Yay, papa! Last term, we had swimming lessons at 10:45, which kind of cut our mornings pretty short. Now we can do a consistent learning time in the mornings, and have every afternoon pretty much wide open to do whatever we like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our New Favorite Bread Recipe

I've been making this bread for the last month or so. It's our new favorite. It makes fantastic sandwiches and is much more, er, flexible than the cracked wheat bread I'd been making for a few years. It's been tweaked and tweaked, and this is the final recipe. :)

2 c. raw oatmeal
4 cups boiling water
5 tsp salt
1 T yeast
1/4 cup sugar
6 T oil
4 c ww flour
4 c flour

Combine oatmeal, boiling water, and salt. After it has cooled, add remaining ingredients. Let rise until doubled. Divide into loaf pans. (I usually make 6 small loaves for perfectly-sized kid sandwiches.) Let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. YUM.

A Way to Help

There is a new program that pairs up Israeli soldiers with Jews who will pray and study torah in their merit. I have signed up and I encourage anyone else who is able to do so too. Here is the original announcement:

An open letter to all Achenu Bene Yisroel

After learning about the heart rendering appeal of the Gedolay Torah to intensify our Tefilos and Torah learning during this very trying time for Klal Yisroel, we have undertaken to join and aid them in their prayers.

The Medrash Rabah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him.

The Great Gaon and Sage Rebbe Chaim Kanievsky shlitah when asked about this tradition pointed out that Dovid Hemelech, as well continued and instituted the practice, that for every individual who was in combat, there was another person selected for the specific task of praying and learning for him.

Therefore in order to continue and accomplish this Minhag, we ask soldiers and/or their relatives who would want a “partner” in Torah and Tefillah to email or fax 011 9728 9450027 and give their Hebrew name and mothers Hebrew name without any other particulars such as family name or other identifying factors, so that we may disseminate them among those who heed the call to add Torah and Tefiloh for the sake of those who find themselves in
jeopardy chas v’shalom. Anyone who finds himself or herself chas v’shalom in danger or in shelters because of the war may also feel free to call or email to the

To bond with us and receive a name of your “partner” please email or fax the above.

May Klal Yisroel in the merit of joining together, speedily see a successful end to this trial and campaign as quoted in the Parsha “without loss of life”.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


That's what we call this picture that Amirah made. :)

National Debt

Did you know the national debt is nearly $36K per household right now? OY. Okay, I'm now returning to my Happy Homeschooling Hut.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Our Week of Learning

Ah.... a nice full week of learning. Life as normal. Yay.

Tefillah - just continuing our regular routine every morning; nothing new

Oral and written Hebrew are cruising right along, and Eli finished learning his alef bet! So I made a big alef and bet out of brownies for shabbat dessert on Friday. He loved it. We'll be working on vowels now. The alef bet only consists of consonants; vowels are only included under the letters for beginner readers. Tht wd b lk rdng Nglsh ths w. Vowels are helpful! We'll just go right along, and if he wants to just dive into Hebrew reading after that we'll do that. He can always learn his alphabet next year. :)

Parsha - we will finish the book of Bereishit (Genesis) this week! It was an action-packed week of torah readings... Yosef is now second-in-command in Egypt, and all of his brothers have come to Egypt and learned who he is. He got to see his father for the first time in a very long time. The Jews are settling in nicely... for now!

Mitzvah of the week - we just reviewed and summarized the laws of Channukah, having just completed the holiday on Monday

Melacha of the week - we studied the melacha of dosh AKA threshing. Threshing removes the edible part of the wheat from the non-edible part. Anything that resembles this act, as in anything that involves extracting an item from its natural container, is also prohibited. Amirah thought it was hysterically funny that milking a cow fell under this melacha. The fact that we would drink the milk, but leave the cow behind just got her funny bone. Goes for nuts too.

Middah of the week - we studied the middah of busha, embarassment. This is the little voice inside of us that tells us right from wrong. Busha will (usually) prevent us from doing the wrong thing. Lower levels of busha come from being afraid someone will catch us doing something in the world out there that we're not supposed to do. Higher levels of busha include refraining from doing something because G-d will see us doing it.

Reading - we're continuing just rolling around in the Grade 1 Hooked on Phonics books. It's still review pretty much, but it's working well for now. We'll continue this in the coming week.

Writing - copying short sentences based on the Little House books was a huge hit! We'll do some more in the coming week.

Math - Math is still good. It seems to go on for pages and pages and pages in a row of very similar addition and subtraction activities (each one ever so slightly more complicated, but it is awfully repetitive). We're jumping around a little, picking out other pages in other parts of the book, many of which are pretty easy for her. Things like ordering a bunch of pictures into chronological order. Ordering things by size or height. Telling time. So this week, we'll do a page of addition/subtraction (about 12 problems) + a page from elsewhere in the book.

Readaloud - we just finished These Happy Golden Years. Almanzo has wooed and wed Laura, and she has now moved out to his homestead. What a magnificent series. We can't wait to start the last one.

Art - mostly lots of drawing projects. Dean really wants to lead a weekly drawing class after work settles down in a couple of weeks. We look forward to art time with papa!

Science - Amirah sees science everywhere. We don't even need to schedule it. Yesterday she came up to me and said, "Mama, I took a sample from one of my seashells and I would really like to look at it under the microscope." She just thinks this way all the time. We were watching a BBC clip on YouTube about the deep ocean, specifically about the large night-time migration of the deep sea creatures that rise up to the shallower waters to feed. A 2-second clip of shiny golden creatures went by and with a puzzled voice she exclaimed, "Squid don't go up to the shallows to feed. They go there to breed!" I don't know if that's correct or not, but it just illustrates how she is constantly taking in all this information and filing it away. She definitely has a huge love for science, biology in particular.

Outings - we had a great day at the zoo on Wednesday even though it was only 39 degrees. Very few people. Thursday night A&E spent the night with their cousins, which is always a hit for them. Friday their tia took them to the zoo and brought them home around 3:00. At first I thought I would get TONS of cleaning done in addition to cooking since I only had 2 kids, but NOPE! It was no easier; it's the 2 littles that make most of the work! :)

Shabbat was nice, and now a new week is beginning. Tomorrow morning Amirah has another playdate which I'm sure she'll enjoy and in the afternoon we'll go on an owl hike at Tryon Creek State Park. And poor papa will go to work and work, work, work. The school term starts Monday, so he'll be pretty busy.

Should be a pretty good week!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Menu

zucchini mushroom soup
spinach kugel
lamb chops w/gravy
mashed potatoes
mashed carrots/yams/apples
cole slaw

The brownies will be cut up and made into the shape of an alef to celebrate Eli's completing his learning of the alef bet!

Fun Challenge Blog

This great blog called "Think! A Program Designed to Encourage Kids to Think Outside the Box" posts a weekly challenge for kids to complete. Things like: go on a walk and tell your child to pick 7 stones that are 2 inches wide or bigger. Don't tell them anything else. When you get home, challenge them to see how high they can build a tower from the rocks. I glanced through many of the suggested challenges and it looks like they would all work with a very wide range of ages. I'm looking forward to trying them out. I've been looking for a few new ideas to spice up our learning time. Math games have been very spicy! A real hit, and it's great to see the cogs turning and developing new logic skills.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Bomb Threat Mailed to Jewish Academy

"CHICAGO -- WBBM 780 News reports that a mailed bomb threat was received New Year's Eve in the West Rogers Park neighborhood that threatened Jewish day schools in Chicago and the suburbs.

The letter was received Wednesday -- in the regular mail delivery -- to the Associated Talmud Torahs and the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, 2828 W. Pratt Blvd., according to a Rogers Park District police lieutenant.

The letter indicated a bomb threat to Jewish day schools in Chicago and the suburbs.

The police Bomb & Arson Section is investigating. Further details of the letter will not be released."

This is hilarious!

This is really funny. Make sure you watch it to the end!