Friday, October 30, 2009

Gahoole and the Golden Calf

Just a quick post to mention that Book #12 in the Guardians of Ga'hoole story has been very interesting and well-told! The story closely parallels the story of the golden calf in the torah, and in fact the book is entitled The Golden Tree. Even Amirah has noticed all the parallels. It has doubled the pleasure in reading the book. The whole series has felt Jewish (and indeed the author is Jewish), even though there is nothing overtly Jewish in the book. What a great read. We're about to finish this one, then three more are left. After that, we'll be on to other literary adventures! Shabbat shalom to all.

The Menu

Here 'tis:

challah (with 100% WHEAT flour)
mashed potatoes and gravy
oven-fried chicken (with MATZO)
Caesar salad (with CROUTONS)
roasted beet salad
roasted carrots/onions/yams/mushrooms/zucchini
chocolate cake with tofu chocolate frosting (with 100% WHEAT flour)

Shabbat shalom!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weekday Menus

Sunday - red lentil soup and salad
Monday - rice noodle spinach cheese lasagna (worked great!)
Tuesday - felafel tacos with lime cilantro coleslaw
Wednesday - Amish oatmeal and poached eggs
Thursday - black bean tostadas with lime cilantro coleslaw (good thing we love the stuff!)

And this shabbat is the Great Gluten Blowout before DH goes in to get his blood tested on Monday. The test can be done without going back onto gluten, but you usually get better results if you have gluten in your system. So watch out, gluten, here we come! Challah, chocolate cake, his favorite veggie strip/avocado/lettuce/tomato sandwiches, and dulce de leche cinnamon rolls. Might as well go out with a bang. After that, probably back to gluten-free living, which actually isn't that big a deal. We don't eat tons of gluteny stuff as it is, and most of the things we do have can easily use a tapioca flour/rice flour combination replacement. The only sad part is not having real, live bread, especially challah. Small sacrifice, though!

And guess what you do if you can't have challah on shabbos? After your meal is over, you have an extra glass of grape juice/wine, say a l'chaim, and drink it down. That's enough to make the shabbos meal considered "festive." (And, of course, you don't wash for bread or anything...) Doesn't work for pesach, though. For pesach, we'll be making a considerable investment in gluten-free oat matzo. Wahoo. Maybe it tastes better. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Einstein Refunds

Just passing this information along. Baby Einstein claimed that these dvds helped increase the intellect of children under two, but that claim has been disproven. Parents who bought it believing that it was educational can get a refund on the product if purchased in the last five years. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that children under two not watch television.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Very Nice Shabbos

This shabbos was just especially, especially, especially nice. Shabbos food always has a special ta'am, a special taste, but this shabbos the food just seemed especially yummy, especially the brisket. I cooked it in a slower oven for longer this time (2-1/4-pound briset, 275-degree oven, 3-1/2 hours), and maybe that was it. Whatever did it, it was just really delicious. A very quiet day today. Lots of reading, and a nice walk. A nap on the couch. Very leisurely.

After shabbos was over (just before 7 pm), we had an experiment - homemade mozzarella! Two gallons of milk ($4 total) made 1-3/4 pounds of cheese. The other ingredients couldn't have cost more than $0.15. That brings the cost of the cheese to $2.37/pound, or about half the price of regular mozzarella. And this cheese was delicious! It only took 90 minutes start to finish, so at 8:30, we were eating our own cheese. It might not be such a frugal option, since we'll probably eat twice as much cheese now! Maybe we can stretch it out to last a week (ha ha). It was very fun to make - coagulating the milk, letting it ripen, cutting the curds, heating the curds, stretching the cheese, kneading the cheese like bread, and actually slicing it. Oh, yum. We really need a cow. Or at least a goat. Non-homogenized milk makes better cheese.

I'd love to make cream cheese too. I've made ricotta cheese before, which you make from leftover whey. You only get about 3/4 cup of cheese from a gallon of whey, so I'm saving all the whey in the fridge to be used at the end of the week. After a few more cheese experiments, it would be really fun to try cheddar cheese (need a cheese press) and some of the moldy cheeses. And parmesan cheese. Fun stuff. I told DH tonight that when we retire he should write his cartoon and we'll make cheese (DH's microbiology degree would be very handy here...). Sounds good to me.

Shavua tov!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Menu

brisket (our favorite!!)
roasted potatoes (A's favorite)
spinach/carrot/mushroom kugel
Caesar salad (everyone's favorite)
broccoli cranberry walnut salad
baked cabbage with barbecue sauce
gluten-free raspberry cake

And for lunch... chicken salad.

Had a nice day today too. Gave all the kids a Brain Break and we spent the morning at OMSI. Had a great time, then home for lunch. Really looking forward to a nice, sleepy shabbat. Ahhhhh... I think every Friday night I get a good 9-10 hours of sleep, and sometimes a nap too. Fuels me up for the coming week. In more ways than one. And this week the parsha is Noach! All the way from the flood to the tower of Bavel to Avram's birth. It's fun to tie the geography of the parsha into all of the ancient history we've been studying lately. A lot sure has happened on a small number of acres over the millennia!

Shabbat shalom to all.

Our Weeks of Learning

I haven't really done a post focused on just our learning for quite some time. The last real update was probably in July! In July and August, we had a several good weeks of learning, then a couple of weeks off for vacation time with grandma and grandpa here, and for camping in central Oregon. Then we only had a couple more weeks before the Big Flu hit the whole family. And now, once again, we have a good solid two weeks under our belts. :) Schedules continually evolve and adapt, but this is pretty much what we've settled into for now...

8:00-8:30, SNUGGLES
8:30-10:00, breakfast and free play
10:00-11:00, davening, Hebrew songs, and torah stories
11:00-11:15, snack
11:15-12:30, the rest of Amirah's kodesh studies
(chumash/torah, kriyah/reading, kesivah/writing, biblical Hebrew)
12:30-1:00, Eli does alef bet, writing, and reading
1:00-1:45, lunch
1:45-2:30, play outside
2:30-4:30, Amirah's chol (secular) studies
4:30-5:00, dinner prep
5:00-6:00, mama/papa exercise hour!
6:30, dinner

And the rest of the evening just sort of slips away... We try to be all bed-ready by 8:45 so there's plenty of time for readaloud books. Lights out at 9:30, but they can read in their beds until 10:00. Start all over again at 8:00 the next day!

DAVENING (prayer):
This has been going great. We get at least a couple of tefillos each day where everyone is singing full throttle (in a good way! no shout-singing here, thank you very much!). Amirah and Raizel know all the tefillos we're doing really well. Avi chimes in whenever he can, and Eli chimes in whenever prompted, and sometimes on his own initiative! :) Avi also likes to make sure that he is on the right page in his siddur. Amirah can follow along in her siddur most of the time. Eli and Raizel can identify the starting points of many of the tefillos, and they all know how to find Hashem's name.

So this is what we're doing now: modeh ani, reishis chochmah, torah tziva lanu moshe, mah tovu, adon olam, al netilas yadayim, asher yatzar, torah berachos, birchos hashachar, and shema (w/veahavta). This coming month I'll be introducing the other paragraphs of the shema and the first three berachos of the amidah. Moving right along!

We always read the parsha stories from My First Parsha Reader and The Little Midrash Says. Then we read from one of the many Artscroll story collections. We usually read 2–4 of those each day, about chagim, gedolim, etc.

We’re learning an average of two new songs per week, and we frequently review ones we’ve already learned. We learn a wide variety – torah songs, train songs, movement songs, holiday songs, etc. It increases our general vocabulary and we all enjoy this part a lot. Sometimes I even hear Avi singing the songs!

I started a new project with Amirah last week. We are reading the first parsha of Bereishis/Genesis pasuk-by-pasuk (sentence-by-sentence). She picks out whatever word she wants from the pasuk and copies it from the chumash onto a sheet. Then she draws a miniature picture that illustrates that word (about 3” x 3” or so). This helps us learn some of the key vocabulary in the parsha, gives us extra writing practice, and really works towards comprehending the content. It’s been a fun project, and is a precursor to what I hope will be her ability to read the whole parsha in Hebrew at the end of first grade.

KESIVAH (Hebrew writing)
We only have four pages left in the Migdalor kesivah workbook. Amirah has been an ethusiastic kesivah student. She would rather do ten pages of Hebrew writing than one page of English writing (or so she told me this morning!). Her face was covered in equal amounts of pleasure and mournfulness when she realized she would finish the book next week. Even the tricky letters haven’t given her any trouble. After that, there’s a (free!) kesivah review book on that we’ll use to go through all the letters one more time, then after that I think we’ll primarily be doing copywork from the chumash.

L'SHON HATORAH (biblical Hebrew)
We’re about 75% done with Book A. We learned many of the prefixes (prepositional phrases) that attach to the nouns in Hebrew, then we worked on plural forms of nouns, then combined those with prefixes. Now we’re learning that sometimes “ha”/”the” is hidden in another prefix instead of being its own prefix and we’re sharpening our eyes and ears to detect those hidden “thes.” The rest of the book is essentially just review. I think I’ll stretch out our review a little longer than the book does, depending on how quickly she can translate things, and we can also work to memorize more of the nouns that are just glossed over in these most recent exercises (as in, the point is to find the hidden “the,” not necessarily to know what the whole phrase means). This book has been challenging, probably the most challenging of all of our kodesh studies, but Amirah has been knitting her brow together very well and putting her best efforts into it. Finishing this book will really mean something!

We’re a little more than halfway through Spelling Workout's Workbook A. It’s been pretty straightforward. We’re working on things like unscrambling words, defining words, finding rhymes, putting words in alphabetical order, and reviewing spelling/phonics rules.

We’re about halfway through the first year of our grammar book, and lately we've been working hard on defining and identifying nouns, pronouns and verbs. We only have to complete 48 more 15-minute lessons between now and June, so I’m going to throw in some additional poetry memorization work.

We’re also a little more than halfway done with the printing book. We only do one page per day since we do plenty of other writing in other activities. This gives us a chance to exclusively focus on beautiful letter formation, and to observe the exact way to write a particular letter. She definitely does her nicest printing when we’re working in this book.

Amirah LOVES her writing/composition book. It mostly consists of hearing a selection from a piece of literature, answering comprehension questions on the passage, copying sentences from the passage, narrating her favorite part of the passage to me, and copying her own narrations. This helps to fill her head and ears with good writing, and lets her practice writing good sentences from models. By doing this, good grammar and writing style just seeps into the student’s mind. We started this later in the learning year and are about one third of the way through it now. Just did a reading selection from The Trumpet of the Swan, which we read about two years ago.

We’re meandering through the Ordinary Parents Guide and are about halfway through (the end of the book is fourth-grade reading level). She loves going to the library and community center for Read to the Dogs. Her reading is becoming more fluent, and her day is including more time spent on independent reading. She can comprehend stories with highly intricate plots, and I know she’d just rather not hang out in those 1st/2nd grade reading levels because of this. I have a feeling that in a year or so she’ll suddenly explode with reading and really take off. With us for parents, she’s bound to be a bookworm. :)

We whizzed through Singapore Math’s 1A book, and are now doing 2–3 pages per day from the 1A Intensive Review book. I’m really glad we’re doing this. She could definitely have just moved on to level 1B, but I think having this review period is really good. She can work on speeding up her recall of math facts, and just generally become more fluent, and increasing the flexibility of her mathematical thinking. Intensive Review also includes sections that are harder than the main 1A book, so she gets review plus a little extra. By January we’ll go on to the 1B book, I think. I think math is especially important to get a very firm foundation in before piling on the next concepts.

I wish we could spend more time on history, but we have so much on our plate! As it is, this is what we generally do: 1) read the chapter for the week on Monday, 2) re-read the chapter and ask comprehension questions on Wednesday, and 3) do the map activities associated with the chapter in our history workbook on Friday. We also frequently read a book of historical fiction that ties into what we’re reading, or browse non-fiction books from the library. Every once in a while we’ll do one of the suggested creative activities. This week we built a volcano out of plaster-of-paris and a soda can, then we painted it. We just studied the Minoans who lived on the island of Crete in ancient times. They were likely chased off their island by a volcanic explosion on Thera, a neighboring island/volcano. Also, the Guardians of Ga’hoole series has some volcanoes as an important part of the plot, so the activity neatly related to two different subjects. We’ll set off the volcano on Sunday or Monday. Oh, boy! Topics we have covered recently: Egypt, Egypt, and more Egypt, the Exodus from Egypt, the Phoenicians, Assyria’s destructive rise to power (again), the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar rising above Assyria after Ashurbanipal died, and the Minoans (and the legend of the minotaur). Coming soon: the Greeks! We’re also doing supplemental reading and map-work on contemporaneous Jewish history so we know how the Jews fit in to each part of this. Fascinating!!

Amirah is a true biologist, and comes by it honestly. She could study it all day. Our science curriculum has been pretty good. We had a little trouble locating mature earthworms at earthworm time (young earthworms have parts that are harder to distinguish), and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a snail in our yard, just slugs. But neither was around at snail time. So goes it. Worksheets stood in for the real thing. We’ve studied Cnidaria (jelly fish, coral, anemones), worms, and mollusks (last week). Echinoderms and arthropods are coming up! We do lots of supplemental reading about any creature we study. One odd thing – there are basically no books about snails. A few board books/early readers with very basic information, a few aquarium care books about snails, and a few nature guides that mention them, but that’s pretty much it. I did find one adult book devoted to snails on Amazon, but the library doesn’t have it. I found this so odd. Such an ubiquitous creature should have volumes written about him! Alas. The Handbook of Nature Study always comes through, though, and provides some nice supplemental reading material about each creature that we study.

Lots of fun projects each week. The biggest hits have been posted in previous entries. We do drawing every day, and art materials are always available to them. We do a major project once or twice a week.

This post is very Amirah-centric since she’s doing the most. For dear Eli, suffice it to say that he’s very busy writing as many words as he can. Amirah helps him spell them, or he can sound out three-letter words on his own. Loves to draw trucks (we’re making a collection and cutting out all the trucks he draws, then we’re going to make a freeway and glue them all to it!). He loves to read alef bet which he pretty much knows backwards and forwards now. He’s beginning to do reading lessons in English, and will start reading lessons for Hebrew very soon. We’re doing math informally, but he’s absorbed quite a lot.

Now, time for bed! Good night dear friends and family!

Weekday Menus

Chickpea flour dumplings in yogurt chickpea flour soup (really!)
Raw carrots and zucchini dipped in homemade ranch dressing

poached salmon (leftovers from shabbat)
sautéed zucchini
baked lentils and rice

1) surimi (fake crab) and cucumber
2) cucumber
3) omelet with egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a dash of sugar
miso soup

vegetable quesadillas

gluten-free cottage cheese buttermilk pancakes with blueberry sauce
overeasy eggs
(the buttermilk really helped leaven the batter!)

AND... everyone but Eli ate EVERYTHING I cooked this week! That's just Eli, though... :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Funny Story!

I had to share a funny story that another homeschooling mama shared with me. Her husband has to attend two or three hoity-toity Washington DC business networking/political functions each year. She used to loathe these until she started playing a game. She gets dressed to the nines, finds the person in the room who most likes to hear himself talk, and corners him for an hour while expressing deep enthusiasm for his work and accomplishments. Finally, the talker gets around to asking her what her line of work is, thinking he's making a hot business connection. "I'm a housewife and homeschooling mama," is her enthusiastic reply. Polite excuses and mumbling as the person realizes that they've just wasted an hour networking with a HOUSEWIFE. :)

I got a big kick out of this. She is proud and confident that the work she does as a mother (and teacher of her children) MATTERS. It matters a lot. The entire world depends on it, actually, IMHO. I find it shocking how utterly devalued this line of work, this absolutely sacred duty, has become and how parents are deemed less and less necessary. (And if I have to start paying for other people's mandatory full-day kindergarten and preschool because other parents prefer to work and demand state-funded daycare, you'll really hear me start to grumble.) People are actually *embarrassed* to say they are "just" at home with their children. What greater duty can there be? And how did we get all topsy-turvy mixed up about this???

Yes, I was an honors student. Yes, I could have done anything with my life that I desired. Yes, I'm glad I studied music. Yes, I'm glad that I had those years of teaching. But any of my accomplishments utterly pale compared to raising my four children. I have no greater value then I do as a wife and mother, though all of my hundreds of former music students were definitely a nice placeholder until I had children of my own. I adored teaching. But so did I adore serving pastries at the pâtisserie I worked in during high school and college. And so did I love the eight years I worked in resource development at a science museum. It was all good. But being a mama is mind-blowingly fantastic.

And for those who think being at home with your children is a waste of a good brain, I can only quote RP - "You're lazy!" (Thanks, RP!) An intellectual life can be found wherever you are, especially if you are living a traditional frum Jewish lifestyle. There is absolutely no end to intellectual opportunities. And if you're a homeschooling mama in addition, all of those intellectual opportunities just about dodecatuple!

At the pediatrician's office last week the nurse commented on how well-behaved the children were and asked if I was a stay-at-home mom. I said that I was and she said, "You're so lucky." I replied that it was not luck. She looked surprised. It's not luck, I repeated. It's deciding what is most important and making all of your life decisions to that end. Yes, we eat a lot of beans. No we can't eat out or buy plane tickets. Our vacations are in a tent (which we love!). Our house is medium-sized, and our next one might be smaller. Maybe we'll retire to a one-bedroom apartment. But does any of that really matter? Nope. Not compared to the shining eyes of my children, every one of them tanked up on love, hugs, attention, a big love for Hashem, and a life full of gratitude for all that we have.

Most of all, I am grateful for having found DH. Without him, none of this would be here. I often shudder to think what life without him would have been like, and I'm grateful EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY that Hashem brought us together.

With that, good night!

Nice Sale at Lands End!

I just bought this cute dress for Amirah for $8 and some badly-needed white tights for $5 each. This is cheaper than the used clothing store! I got free shipping too. E-mail me if you want the codes. Very happy about this one.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Menu

We've had a lot of catch-up to do this week between making up some missed learning time and catching up on the housework. Guess which is more fun? :) Nonetheless, we're back to having a real shabbos menu instead of a that-will-do menu.

poached salmon with aioli
Caesar salad with homemade croutons
chicken in homemade barbecue sauce
mashed potatoes
carrot ginger purée
marinated zucchini salad
pear cake

Ditto for lunch.

Wishing everyone a lovely shabbos!

Weekday Menus

cream of carrot tarragon soup
baked potatoes with tofu sour cream
green salad

gluten-free pizza

black bean tostadas with guacamole, tofu sour cream, salsa, and cabbage w/lime juice and cilantro

gluten-free pancakes with blueberry sauce

Definitely the best meal was the tostadas. The beans with the lime cilantro cabbage is one of my all-time favorite combinations.

We're nearly positive that DH has celiac disease, meaning he likely can't tolerate gluten of any kind. We'll find out for certain in the next week. New culinary adventures ahead! The only real roadblock seems to be that gluten-free challah is an oxymoron. (And so is bread of any kind, for that matter!) We're not sure what to do about bread for shabbos, though. Gluten-free matzo is more than $20 per pound (!).

Friday, October 9, 2009


61 quarts of grape juice, and the last batch will come out of their canning bath at the exact moment shabbat begins! Last year we didn't get them all done in the first 48 hours and had to freeze a bunch. The flavor wasn't quite the same. But this year we pulled it off, with the steam juicer and canner running non-stop from 4:00 to 12:00 last night and 10:00-5:15 today. It was a little tricky cooking in between all the giant boiling pots, but that too got done. Now for a whirlwind cleanup of the house, a nice shower, and we're all set for shabbos and simchas torah, the last of the fall holidays. And hopefully on Monday we will all be back to normal time, with good learning in the mornings, and some outdoor time in the afternoons. We've been cooped up for way too long! Shabbat shalom, all!

The Menu

Hooray! There actually is a menu today. Of course it's all slice and bake, nothing too complicated. Here 'tis:

chicken with rice and mushrooms
green salad
roasted tomatoes (fresh from the farm yesterday)
roasted zucchini and red peppers
roasted sweet potatoes
steamed corn


Freshly made grape juice! Hooray! We're about two-thirds done, I think. Should have about 70 quarts by the end of the day. The homemade stuff is costing us $1.63 per quart. Such a deal. And the taste doesn't even compare to commercial grape juice. Ahhhhhhh....


Nobel Peace Prize? But he hasn't DONE anything!!!! And I'm actually pretty nervous to see what he actually DOES. Oy, gevalt. It isn't quite up to par with Yasser Arafat getting the prize, though. Goofy times. Worse than goofy, actually...


The doctor's pretty sure we all are recovering from swine flu. In Oregon (or maybe it's just planet OHSU?) they only test you if you require hospitalization, but not if you're recovering. Not sure why exactly. Where do those statistics come from anyway??? I'm the only one who still has symptoms other than fatigue. Wheezy chest that won't quit, and we can't find a vaporizer ANYWHERE! Seriously? Every drug store only sells humidifiers. I've been daydreaming for days now about the cooling mists of our lovely (now broken) vaporizer. I got an albuterol inhaler, but the dosage they gave me doesn't seem to do much for me. That's always the case with me. I always seem to need 50-100% above a normal dose to affect me at all. Oh, well. I don't really want to tank up on albuterol. I really just want my vaporizer!!!! I tried using Amirah's nebulizer, but it's such a small amount of vapor that comes out, and it's terribly noisy. Sigh.

Despite it all, we've been doing about half of our learning time, keeping up with the core classes and skipping things like history, science, and art. So, all is still going well. I just can't wait to be fully back to normal. The doctor said that could take up to SIX WEEKS. Gevalt.

We've had some entertainment along the way... Saw a couple of really good movies - Gentlemen's Agreement and The Visitor. The first movie was made in 1947 and is about a man who pretends to be Jewish for several weeks so he can write a magazine article on antisemitism. We both thought it was incredibly well-done, except for the ending where he definitely got back together with the wrong girl. Oh, well. The second one was utterly charming and a little teary. Highly recommend it.

And for more entertainment... I've been working on the taxes (we always file those extensions...). We never got tax id #s or social security cards for R&A (oops.... kept avoiding taking four young children to the long line at the social security office). Sent DH over today to file. Figured we would file our taxes without the kids now, then in two weeks re-file the proper forms with their new social security numbers. No problem for Raizel's, but it turns out that Avi has three different birth dates listed - October 10, October 11, and October 15, depending on which piece of paper you look at. So we have to go to the immigration office downtown to straighten it out first. I wonder if we get to pick it, or what?? I think 10/10 sounds nice, and that's what we've been planning on. But his actual birth certificate says 10/15. Of course, it's all just one big guess anyway since we don't know his actual birth date. Maybe we should just go for it and celebrate all three! We need to process their re-adoption/citizenship paperwork too to finalize everything, but since we keep thinking we're moving any month now, we don't want to start the process in one state then not be able to complete it. Oh, well.

So, Avi, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, and Happy Birthday! Almost!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

With all this lack of energy, I've had lots of time for reading, so here's the latest...

Mimmy and Sophie: All Around the Town - THUMBS DOWN

With a Jewish author and stories set during the Depression in Brooklyn, I thought this book stood a pretty good chance. Instead, it was full of conversations were children spoke very unkindly to each other most of the time. Not pleasant reading, and we didn't get very far into the book.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely - THUMBS UP!!

I think behavioral economics is a fascinating subject, diving into what makes people assign value to things and then to spend their money in ways that don't seem rational. Frugal mamas (and papas) are good at avoiding a lot of these traps, but it's interesting to read about so many traps that people can fall into even if they are savvy about personal finance, frugality, and not keeping up with the neighbors. I think there are many sections in this book that are hugely relevant to the Jewish community (and the author is, in fact, an Israeli professor of behavioral economics). I'm only a couple of chapters into this book but am enjoying it immensely.

Disgrace, by Jacobs Coetzee - THUMBS DOWN DOWN DOWN

I found all of the characters in this book to be utterly dead, utterly unlikable, and could not begin to fathom their motives. The writing was excellent, but the story so bleak and the characters so dismal I just couldn't get into it at all. I forged ahead thinking at some point the protagonist might actually go through some personal transformations after his own misdeeds and additional tragic experiences, but the heights of his "redemption" were found in helping to kindly euthanize the dogs that were overrunning the countryside as a volunteer with a struggling veterinary clinic/shelter out in the South African countryside. The story added nothing uplifting or noble to the human experience. So not my cup of tea. Just the thing to make a new movie out of...

That's all for now!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Under Quarantine

Well, not really but we ought to be! We have been so sick!!! It sounds like a tuberculosis ward around here at night, G-d forbid. DH is out buying two new vaporizers right now. So interesting, I know. But such is the extent of our (very) little daily lives right now. We were really feeling thankful yesterday that it's not 100 years ago and we're not farmers. Can you imagine having to go out and take care of business anyway or risk losing your entire year's income?? (Well, maybe not this time of year, but there sure still are many obligations in an agrarian existence...) We have the luxury of DH calling in sick and all of us just hunkering down to recover. So, while the yom tov food was either non-existent or consisting of scrambled eggs, we still felt the clouds of Hashem protecting us. And we looked longingly into our sukkah which generally was either too cold or wet for a bunch of sick people. We managed one meal in there on Friday night, hopefully more to come. OY. I couldn't even look at or smell food until Sunday. I think it will likely be the end of the week before we're all back in our groove.

To pass the time, we've been doing as many readalouds as we can, given our wheezy voices. The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series has really held up. We're just about to start Book 8 of 12, and the action and character development has not waned for a moment yet. Great series. And last week, Eli suddenly developed a huge interest in longer chapter books and has roamed far outside his usual truck books. He's really enjoying a reading of Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary with papa, and with mama we started The House at Pooh Corner after having finished Winnie-the-Pooh last week. His new interest all started when a friend of ours passed on a book to us called A Mouse Called Wolf and I brought it home and showed him the new book I had brought home for him. He immediately took it and spent the hour before dinner thoroughly poring over the pictures. We read the whole book that night and he just couldn't get enough after that.

Eli has also been having a great time with the Explode the Code series. It's a combination reading/writing primer that didn't work at all for Amirah, but for Eli it's been a perfect fit. He'll sit down and do 20 pages in a row with very little help from me and he loves it. I'm so glad all those workbooks didn't go to waste after not working for Amirah! He's also doing well in the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. We're doing math more informally, but he sure seems to have his math facts for 1-5 down pretty well (as in adding together quickly any numbers that are 5 and under). Our alef bet book is going well too and he's basically expanding his vocabulary, learning 5-7 new Hebrew words for every letter of the alef bet. He should finish his current book by December, then on to Hebrew reading (kriyah). Anyway... that's a little about what Eli is learning right now. He learns so differently from Amirah in that he takes a giant leap then putts along, then another giant leap, whereas Amirah does a steady climb. He's also ready much earlier than Amirah was for lots of small-motor movement, which makes learning writing SO much easier. And Raizel seems even more ready than Eli! Crazy girl! Has held her pencil PERFECTLY since the first time she picked one up. It's very funny. You can just see the lightning crackle in that girl's brain.

Well, that was a nice distraction from my wheezy life, but back to the couch for a while now!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blue with the Flu

Well, it's been quite a few days. All of us got hit by the flu, to varying degrees. The kids pulled through it in record time, but this mama really got bamboozled. Stayed in bed for 43 hours straight (thank you, dear husband). A little better today, though. At least I can keep my eyeballs open and my body doesn't feel like it was run over by a truck. Sweat, chills, 103.5 fever last night... UGH! I seem to be coming out of it today, though. I'm just so relieved that DH could stay home yesterday and today. The best thing yesterday was to discover that lying down unable to read, talk radio took the edge off and kept me distracted enough that I could lie there much, much more comfortably (thank you, Dr. Laura and Dave Ramsey!). So we got the sukkah up, and while it's not yet beautiful at least it's UP.

And for dinner??? Ummm...

Soda water?


Well, actually we had a big family outing to Trader Joe's, so...

baked chicken
mashed potatoes
mixed baked vegetables

and for lunch...

I'm throwing some canned tomatoes, ground turkey, beans into the crock pot and hoping for the best...

And for yom tov on Sunday? Ask me on Monday what we had. :) I figure there's always tuna. OY. Wish I had more in my freezer stock, but I've been minimizing building up my freezer supply since we're hoping to move soon, soon, soon (please, Hashem!).

Anyway... better put together that dinner which I probably won't eat. Happy Sukkot to everyone!