Thursday, March 11, 2010

So Much Better!

On Sunday night I *finally* was able to sleep. I slept 13 hours in a row, and within 24 hours I was more or less back to normal. It feels good to sleep, and it will be quite a while before I take it for granted. Despite the vicissitudes, we've managed to pretty much keep our learning on schedule and that makes me really happy. Amirah finished her 1st grade spelling book this week. We're taking a week-long break from spelling, and then I'm trying to decide whether to go right on to her 2nd grade spelling book (the series we are using is quite functional, but not particularly inspiring), or to use a wonderful speller I found on Google books called Wheeler's Elementary Speller, by William Henry Wheeler, and published in 1901. The book has utterly charming poetry in it, and lots of work on precise pronunciation. Many people have recommended it to me. It will require preparation of worksheets in advance by me, probably about thirty minutes per week. I'm trying to decide if that's a good way to spend a portion of my prep time or not. We'll see!

She also started the third (and last) book in the Migdalor series, and we also started a new book from the same publisher called Yesodot Halashon (focus on Hebrew grammar). It dovetails nicely with the Migdalor book. This book also has many levels - eight, I think - so we can keep using it for a good long while. I've been steadily increasing the amount of time we spend on reading since I want to be sure her Hebrew reading skills are quite fluid by the end of the year. Her script is looking very nice, but we'll keep working on that too. We have a spelling book too, but I think we need to pull spelling lessons from our current lessons in our other two Hebrew books. Anyway... I love working on this with her, and I love working to improve my own skills at the same time.

In science we finished our unit on birds and have now started a unit on bats. Science/biology is definitely her favorite subject. A couple of days ago I got her a sketch notebook to use for a nature journal, and she is happily sketching away nature scenes both from her imagination and from the back yard. We'll take it further afield too. Speaking of science, we had a lovely outing to the local aquarium. It has about 12-15 tanks with local sealife on display, a wonderful touch tank with horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, some kind of larger crab, conches, and mussels (HUGE hit!), some interesting information about the marine sanctuaries 20-30 miles off the coast, nature trails, boardwalks into the marshes, and picnic tables. We had a great little outing there. Afterwards we went to the nearest state park (Skidaway Island) and played at the playground there. They have terrific (HUGE) camping sites there, and only 20 minutes from home! Papa will likely get zero vacation time in the foreseeable future (long story), but he might be able to camp-commute from Skidaway Island! :)

We've also been busy preparing for pesach... The kids are making their own haggadahs, and we're doing a lot of singing. And lots of cleaning. So far, so good. I have my (simple) menus done. We keep our pesach budget within our normal food budget. We do have a little more meat that week, but I don't buy any prepared foods at all, except one small bottle of ketchup. And matzo, of course. With so many yom tov meals, we keep the food relatively simple. Seder night is pretty light too. By 10:30 pm, who feels like eating a large meal??? We usually just have soup, fish, salads, meat, and dessert, in relatively small portions.

My cleaning plan doesn't look too bad. I do want to do a little more decluttering and putting away a few more things so it looks nicer, but that's not part of cleaning out chametz. With only two months worth of chametz around, there really isn't much to do. Bathrooms and bedrooms are all inspected and cleaned. I did find a stray mostly-eaten banana under Raizel's bed today (!). I'll detail the living room towards the end of next week, and get the car cleaned. I'd like to switch the kitchen over the Wednesday before pesach so I can do a little cooking before shabbos comes. Pesach cleaning really has me loving the size of our house. Housecleaning takes quite a bit less time. Even just eliminating the stairs has been a good thing. I like being able to fold our lives into a very modest-sized house. It really feels good to me.

OH! At the end of last week we decided to go letterboxing (see for information). I love letterboxing because it takes you to places you would never otherwise discover. We ended up in this little tiny park about five miles from here. It has a dock out on the tidal river there. In warm weather, people there said it was great for seeing dolphins. We saw the long-tailed grackles, pelicans, herons, egrets, terns, gulls, and even a kingfisher that landed on the pier and laughed at me quite loudly. Miri saw a marsh rabbit. We found really stinky mushrooms. They're orange, and I think they have the word "stink" in their name, but I can't quite remember. The letterbox was easy to find (under the bathroom building at the back), and it had a hand-carved dolphin stamp. Sadly, I hadn't been able to locate our letterboxing record book before we left, or an ink pad, so we just signed our names (our letterboxing name is The Ninth Earl, as in Earl IX, ha ha), and decided we'd have to come again to stamp our book with the dolphin stamp. I also bought a knife and an eraser block so we can carve our own stamp and plant our own letterbox somewhere. Not sure where yet, but the area near the aquarium might be good, or the state park.

So... lots of good adventures, lots of good learning, lots of good cooking. Dean's work has been very stressful, and the schedule rather horrendous. HR has refused to allow him to work Sundays in lieu of Jewish holidays, but we'll pursue further conversations and insist on "reasonable accommodation" which this would be. They told Dean he could take the day as a vacation day or a day without pay, but that he still had to meet his deadlines. Therefore, he would have to work Sundays anyway AND take a vacation day. Very frustrating. He has come home each evening pretty worn out after 10- to 12-hour days, but we are grateful to be away from the constant threat of layoffs, and grateful to be here in Savannah of all places. We sure do miss the Portland Metro buses!!!! The schedules here are pretty, well, nonexistent. In the mornings, the wait is only up to 10-15 minutes longer than in the written schedule, but coming home it's 30-40 minutes off! And there's no predictability. So he's been taking the car into work a couple of days per week. We can plan our outings around that pretty easily, so it's not that big a deal, but it was awfully nice when it was an easy bus ride to and from work.

Enough procrastination. Time to be up and about getting ready for shabbos...

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