Friday, February 27, 2009

The Menu

Here 'tis:

wonton soup with ground beef and Mergez sausage
sweet potato puree
roasted cabbage
roasted zucchini and red peppers
chocolate mousse

And for lunch...

turkey deli roll

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Amirah is a Mama... a dozen brine shrimp. It should soon be 80,000. Mazal tov! And I'm sure the aquarium fish next door will be very happy very soon with a new item on the lunch menu. :)

Quote of the Week

Amirah: My friend X wants to be a baker when she grows up.
Eli: Mama, I don't want to be a baker. I want to be an eater.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mommy Brain Doozie #2

This one is hilarious. Much funnier than forgetting about being asked to do jury duty.

My husband got a cell phone (yay, tracfone) last fall. For $9/month we thought it was worth the "splurge" (since to us it is a luxury, not a necessity). There are many times since then that I have tried to get a hold of him for one reason or another. Maybe 2x per month or so. I always called the number that we had written on the dry erase board next to the telephone. He never answered it and always said,"I must have not heard it ring." or "Maybe it was turned off." Okay... but then why have a cell phone???

This is what happened today. I was scurrying around to get the kids packed up and ready to go out the door. On Tuesdays we pick Dean up at 3:50, they drop me off at my students' house to teach 2.25 hours of piano lessons at 4:15, and they go to swimming lessons then come back to get me. Quite an elegant piece of orchestration.

At 3:30, I could not find my purse. I went out to the car and discovered I had locked it in the car on Friday and not driven the car since then. Of course, my keys were in the purse. I tried the lock box where we keep spare keys but the code had been "changed." (Not really; just mommy brain doozie #1.5.)

I called Dean's cell phone. 8 times. Got the voicemail every time. With the message in my voice, as it always was. It went right to voicemail which most likely meant that the cell phone was turned off. I desperately tried his office number one more time, and he answered. I blurted out my problem (it was now 3:45 and time was ticking). B"H he was able to sprint out of his office, and by a fluke the bus did not pull away at exactly 3:45 like it usually does. He was on his way home.

A few minutes later I got a call on the phone. The caller id showed a number I didn't recognize. It was my dear husband telling me all about how, by the grace of Hashem, he was able to catch the bus.

"But who lent you their phone????" I asked.

"Huh?" he replied. "I'm calling from my own phone."

"WHAT???!!!!??? But that's not your number!!"

I repeated the number from the caller id.

"Um, yes dear," he replied. "That's my number."

I didn't remember ever having heard or seen this number before. "But I thought your number was XXX-XXX-XXXX!" "Um, no dear, that's your number."


Oy, vey. All this time, these many months, I'd been trying to reach my husband at my own cell phone number. No wonder he never picked up. At least we don't run into any important communication problems via the normal route!!!! Baruch hashem.

In the end I got to piano lessons only 20 minutes late and they still got to swimming lessons on time. Not too bad.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Shock

The insurance company's "independent" appraiser came out Friday to appraise the car. The whole time he was here I davened (prayed) that he would come close to "our" appraiser's appraisal of $4600. But I still didn't have complete emunah (faith) that he would. I was thinking if he came in at $3000 that would still be much better than our insurance company's offer of $2100, and they would work out a compromise offer. Then we'd see if we would go to getting a third mutually-agreed-upon appraiser to settle it or not.

Dean just called and said the appraisal came in at over $4000 (I forget what Dean said... $4100 maybe?). So, now the two appraisers will work together to agree on a final value. Then the insurance company will make us their offer. The car is still totalled since the repair costs came in at $4100. We can fix the window and one broken plastic piece for about $500 (window is already fixed), and drive around with a couple of dents on the roof (cosmetic damage only). Hooray! It's looking good. I'm not sure what the State Insurance Commission does when the inital offer is less than 50% of the appropriate value. Sounds like lowballing to me. Oh, well. That's their worry, not ours!

Back to learning time...


Avi and Raizel have been home for nine months now, and I am so interested to find that I really don't feel like an "adoptive family" at all. It's just us and our four kids, normal as can be. The only time I am reminded that we're a little out of the ordinary is when we walk into a store and I realize that we really are quite a sight when we're all together. Avi and Raizel are every bit a part of this family as Amirah and Eli.

And everyone is doing really well. Avi is a sweet toddler who likes to cuddle (he's resting his head on my knee right now). Raizel is a 2-year-old, full of spice and vinegar. Loves to play yes, no, yes, no, and has a big imagination. Eli is growing out of his 3-year-old tantrums and more and more feels like a 4-year-old boy (3 more months!). Amirah loves learning, especially torah, science, math, history, music, and art. Reading and writing are lower on the list. :) Science is definitely #1 on her list. And this mommy, who is powered by hugs and kisses, has plenty in her reserves to keep her going for a very long time. And life with four kids feels leisurely, full, happy, and interesting. Which isn't to say that there's never much to be done. There is a TON of stuff, especially now with a move on the horizon, but day-to-day life has a pleasant broadness to it. At least until everyone is asleep, then I feel the pressure of the million other things that have to be done. But while I am with them, time is broad and we are soaking up every moment.

Quote of the Week

Mama, while doing papier mache with the kids: "Okay, I'm going to get this other part ready now, so you all just keep stripping." (They were taking newspaper and tearing it into strips... really!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Crazy Days

It's been a bit, er, interesting around here. Dean had one really good phone interview this morning for a job in Baltimore, and has another one next week for a job in Cleveland. Things are cooking! We're getting our house fixed up soon, maybe sooner than we were thinking. The kids and I are trying to figure out what to do to be out of the house for two weeks. If one of these next jobs comes through, we could be moving in SIX WEEKS. Eek. We're trying to get rid of as much as possible. No sense in moving most of this stuff. All I can wrap my brain around is today and tomorrow. And that means SHABBAT. Phew! One more hour of hustle and bustle, then many hours of reflection, and lots of good conversations with dear husband and children. I'm really looking forward to this one even more than usual. Today. Tomorrow. That'll do.

The Menu

Here 'tis:

roasted chicken
pasta with zucchini and sundried tomatoes
cabbage salad
roasted sweet potatoes
cucumber salad
chiffon cake with frosting and jelly beans :)

And for lunch...

veggie strips (as in fake bacon) with lettuce, avocado, and tomato (AKA BLAT) on yogurt bread

A strange dish for shabbat, but it's one of our favorite sandwiches, so there you have it :)

Shabbat shalom!

Great Post

Here is a nice, brief article by one of my favorite bloggers. My favorite part is the blogger's last sentence: Parents concerned about socialization with peers don’t always recognize that the most important socialization is with parents, and begins at birth.

I absolutely believe that this is true. Social skills are primarily learned in the family. The rest of the world is there for us to learn to navigate with the tools given to us by our parents. This is why when some non-homeschooling parents ask me (re. homeschooling), "Aren't you concerned about socialization?" I can only reply, "Aren't you?"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quote of the Week

Eli: My new favorite game is the cargo game.
Mama: How do you play the cargo game?
Eli: Well, you get a heavy load and go from here to there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Something Got Fixed Today!

The new (to us) dryer is happily humming away. It fits more than I can put in my large-capacity washing machine, so this should be a very happy partnership. Hopefully we'll see less wrinkles! And in an hour the van window might even get replaced! Stranger things have happened...

The Menu

Here 'tis:

lamb chops with rosemary and garlic
carrot ginger puree
roasted lemon garlic potatoes
braised cabbage and mushrooms
orange pecan salad
roasted vegetables
pecan chocolate pie

And for lunch:

mergez sausage

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nothing Got Fixed Today

The window replacers for the van can't work in the snow unless they have a covered area for the car. So, they're rescheduled for Thursday. And the dryer? Toast. Oh, well. It's 20 years old. I think we can retire it! Guess we're going out to buy a dryer tomorrow night. I can think of more fun things to spend money on, but the laundry is a-pilin' up and I'm not hanging it all to dry in the garage!!

Quotes of the Week

Amirah, while struggling to get through her (very short) writing assignment this morning: Mama, my body is just not built for morning. It's built for nighttime. (Mama can definitely empathize!!)

Eli, as I tucked him into bed: My legs are really, really sick. If I sleep a long time they will not be well. I think I should stay up now so my legs are healthy. It would be better for me to stay up. (NOTE: Didn't work...)

Raizel (quoting our favorite song from Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang): Mama, you're truly crumpish. (As in "scrumptious.")

Avi: a great big rousing Texas-style "Haaaaaaaaaaaahi!" when talking to grandma on a domino

Grape Juice

I just finished (finally) getting the last of the grapes out of the freezer that we picked in the fall. We got a total of 18 gallons of grape juice from about 150 pounds of grapes. That makes it about $10.42 per gallon. The regular stuff (Kedem) goes for $12 per gallon when it's on sale, so not a huge cost savings, but it does taste so much better!!!!!!! Definitely worth the picking, juicing, and canning labor. We got a great deal more grape juice from the grapes than we thought we would. Maybe the steam juicers extrude more juice or something. We use a gallon of grape juice every 6 weeks. So that makes enough grape juice to last until the fall of 2010. If we blow a bunch on pesach, maybe it will run out in the summer of 2010. :) In any case, next time I think we'll pick 80-100 pounds, not 150! Hopefully it will make it without much loss of flavor until then. According to what I've read, it should still be fine... we hope!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back on Track

It was a really nice day today. We're back to our normal schedule. Everyone is over the cough, except maybe Eli who still has a bit of a nighttime tickle. We got our learning done very efficiently. I've reorganized our schedule to include more focus time on Eli (a regular scheduled story break + 45 minutes of 1-on-1 time with mama in addition to the morning tefillah, alef bet, and torah time). It worked really well today. Then after lunch we (finally) had art and music time with friends. We did a tree art project in honor of Tu B'shevat (Jewish new year for the trees). I'll post pictures later... We had a great discussion about everything trees do to make our life possible: providing wood to build houses, paper to print our seforim on (holy books), enabling us to do mitzvos like building a sukkah, giving us oxygen to breathe, giving us fruit and nuts, providing shade and beauty... I'm sure there are many more things we talked about. It's pretty amazing when one starts to contemplate it.

In other news, our car window should finally get replaced tomorrow (yay!). We're waiting for our appraiser to get our appraisal to us. We filed the complaint with the state against our insurance company and are waiting to hear the insurance company's response. The appliance guy is also coming tomorrow morning to fix the drier and re-anchor the dishwasher. AND we met with someone who is giving us bids to fix up the house for sale. There's a lot more work to do than we thought... Oh, well! Dean has been applying for lots of jobs. Recently, several jobs have turned up at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Real estate has also come way down there, so we've added it to our list of potential cities.

I spent most of the evening researching various phonics programs for Amirah. I've settled on Explode the Code and have ordered her level, thanks to a gift certificate we had! Also got the ancient history text we'll be using for 1st grade so I can get a bit of a head start on that. We have LOVED the R.E.A.L Science for Kids biology program. It's right up Amirah's alley. Tomorrow we're making jello and candy models of animal and plant cells. Should be yummy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Menu

Here 'tis:

Orange Ginger Chicken
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes
Brown Rice
Miso Coleslaw
Cucumber Salad
Lemon Pudding Cake

And for lunch:

Miso Soup
Cucumber Salad
Miso Coleslaw

Quote of the Week

Amirah: "Mama, are you curious about how many teeth a monkey loses before it dies?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Van Update

Well, the van passed the smog test with (very) flying colors. So, we won't be buying a new-to-us van. We'll just get the window fixed and drive it for a couple more years. I'm kind of glad. I would have actually felt really bad about a perfectly fine (almost) car being sold for parts. Now we just have the battle with the insurance company. Probably next week.

In other news, we're just watching the value of our house sinking minute-by-minute. It's likely dropped more than $80,000 now since its peak, plus we're being told to put in more like $15-20K (instead of $10K) to win the highly competitive beauty contest. All the foreclosed properties are flooding the market, bringing all the prices down. It's anticipated that it will only get worse. Oh, well. It's all funny money anyway. At least we bought six years ago and had a hefty down payment. Other people are in much worse shape. In fact, in the news last night it said that 19.8% of Portland homeowners owed more on their home than it was worth now. Ugh. We're not in danger of that, thank goodness!

Oh, well! Wherever we're moving to the housing prices are falling also, though maybe not as much in terms of dollars since the housing is so much less to begin with. We're eager to be moved out and done with this.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Story Time

Albert and Icky Get Surprised
by Amirah and Eli Earlix

Once upon a time, there was a giant lion who drove a giant race car. The giant lion was called Albert and the giant race car was called Icky.

One day, Albert went to the grocery store. He saw a giant piece of butter. Icky the race car thought the butter was food, so Icky ate it. Well, the butter was food, but not car food. He did not like the butter. He liked gas.

Icky and Albert left the grocery store and went to the sea. When he saw the water, Icky said, “Let’s go swimming!”

“Yes!” Albert shouted.

In the water they saw a giant shark. The shark swam to them. The giant shark tried to eat Icky and Albert, but they did not taste very good and he spat them out.

They saw a big whale, a blue whale. It was going to eat krill. Icky and Albert watched the whale. They were a little afraid. Albert liked watching the whale, but made Icky a little nervous.

Icky decided to get out of the water. Albert saw a big piece of ham. He threw the ham to the shark. The shark ate it, but that’s okay because he wasn’t Jewish.

A big monster truck came out of nowhere and gobbled up the shark. The shark was quite surprised to be eaten by a monster truck. The monster truck tried to set off a big rocket but it couldn’t do it and it burned up. Albert and Icky were quite surprised.

Then a jumbo jet came from the coast. It was flying to the east and its engine was still on. The noise scared Albert and Icky. Albert and Icky were so scared that they tipped over.

Then a car zoomed over them. It was another race car. His name was Race Race Race Car. He broke a building and went into the ocean. He covered up Albert and Icky with sand and a blanket. They fell asleep and dreamed about being pretty.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Great Family Outing

With all of us hacking away with our colds yesterday, yet really feeling the need to get out we were a bit stumped as to what to do. A hike was out, as we weren't up for it. A public place like a museum was out because we didn't want to leave behind lots of germs for others to pick up (especially this virus... it's not fun!). So... we decided to just go for a drive. On a list-minute whim I got the directions to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, figuring we might to at least be able to park and look around somewhere closeby the car and not do a big hike. Well, as we had nearly arrived at our destination, we say a sign that said Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Auto Tour (!). We got so excited! This would be perfect.

It turned out to be a lovely, lingering loop through much of the wetlands areas. We saw an abundance of wildlife: geese, many birds of prey, trumpeter swans, herons, all kinds of little birds, bald eagles, and nutria. We had a fantastic time, and could not have planned a more perfect outing on purpose (todah, Hashem).

The view when you first arrive:

Young nutria:


I thought this was beautiful!

We saw lots of birds of prey on the ground, just looking around (?).

There were many, many geese

And many, many swans

And beautiful trees.
We can't wait to go back for another visit. There are all kinds of possibilities here for future field trips.