Friday, April 23, 2010

Catching Up

Time has been moving steadily along, and life here is good, B"H. Here are a few highlights from the last couple of weeks:

•New bikes for Amirah and Eli (thanks grandma and grandpa!!). HUGE hit, and we've toodled around a number of parks already.

•First t-ball game. All three are on the same team, and having a great time (although Eli did get whacked on the side of his head with a bat; lots of blood but all superficial, thank G-d).

•Picked 40+ pounds of strawberries at Ottawa Farms. All are in the freezer awaiting the arrival of a 10-pound bucket of pectin. It wasn't wild and wooly u-pick like in Oregon. This place had incredibly (almost eerily) neat, straight rows with soaker hoses hiding beneath the dark plastic mulch. Thousands of huge strawberries were just neatly presenting themselves for picking. It was a bit odd, but they did taste good! I also bought some non-homogenized milk and cream (no additives!) from a local dairy and we had a lovely snack later.

•Made a stab at getting on the menu planning wagon again, brought on by the fact that May is our last kosher co-op order until August (!). So... I started working on a plan to last through August! Oy! I usually prefer to just buy what's on sale and improvise, but lately improvising seems to be taking too much time and it has felt stressful. So back to a menu plan I go. I ordered plenty of ground beef and leg quarters to last us, plus I got a case of white wine vinegar (none at the grocery store) and spring roll wrappers (looked forever to find them kosher and here they are! YIPPEE!).

•Found Avi's birth certificate (temporarily misplaced) so at last I can go down with all of his correct birthday information (we had to replace all the documents that disagreed with his birth certificate birth date) and get his social security taxes and refile our 2008 taxes and get done with our 2009 taxes. Woohoo! And in three more months we can go re-adopt our dear children in the Georgia courts (where I guess they'll be getting a Georgia birth certificate????????). THEN we can finally go through the citizenship process. Oy yoy yoy. Supposedly a lawyer is required in Georgia, but fortunately someone in the local ET adoption group got all the paperwork together and it is accessible online so we can file it ourselves.

•Shuffled furniture. My favorite hobby, since it usually involves decluttering along the way. I have a couple of blogs I like to read about living in small spaces, and one of them did a post on chests and how they can really serve in any room of the house. CLICK. Our bedroom chest (2 drawers long, 3 drawers tall) is now our new dining room buffet. And it matches the china cabinet perfectly! Makes the table look a bit shabby, though. Oh, well! Our bedroom is a good bit less squishy now, and our nightstands have very generous drawers which works perfectly for what I had in the chest drawers. Half of the chest held curriculum materials anyway (and still does). The silverware, linens, etc. fit much better in the chest drawers, and the china cabinet drawers are our new game shelves. I love reorganizing and decluttering and making things more space efficient and accessible. I'm on a roll right now, and I hope I can keep it up. Okay, that was a lot more than a lowly bullet point.

•CLOSED on our Portland house. I hope the new people are enjoying the place as much as we did. Despite the $6,500 Obama giveaway, we're delaying the purchase of a house. We want to wait and make sure we are here permanently (as sure as one ever can be, that is) and to let things settle. The $6,500 is both tempting and revolting. But that's another topic...

•Had an impromptu birthday party at our house last week. We met a lovely couple (J&RF doppelgängers!!!!) that is thinking of moving here. It was her 60th birthday, so we had a lot of fun making a little party here. We hope they move here!

And in learning time some of the recent highlights are...

•Finished a unit on ants, termites, wasps, and bees, and have now moved on to beetles. We should have plenty of live specimens available in our back yard!

•Finished our 2nd grade manuscript book, and Amirah is begging to start cursive...

•Counted spare change up to $1.00 in our heads and used that to "buy" things and we also practiced "saving up" for things.

•Readalouds: The Classic Tales (4,000 years of Jewish stories), Favorite Tales of Shalom Aleichem, several Sherlock Holmes stories, and we bemoaned having finished all of the Happy Hollister books in our possession. They're not in the library (really not much is; I have searched for countless things that haven't been there...), but maybe we can try interlibrary loan. And Amirah has been reading Frog and Toad to us every night too. :)

•Proceeding through our grammar and composition books. We're in the home stretch!

•Speeding up in our phonics book, often doing double lessons. She's really on a roll with the reading right now.

•Reading various Jewish history books to cover the very beginning through the time of the Roman Empire from a wholly Jewish perspective.

•Really enjoying Wheeler's Elementary Speller from 1901. It suits us much better than our previous spelling book. Nice variety of activities, most of which we do orally. The words she needs to really practice do get some written attention.

•In kodesh we are continuing our usual davening, parsha study, and biblical Hebrew, plus putting together a nice Pirkei Avos workbook. For pesach they each did their own haggadahs, but the cutting and pasting got to be a bit much. We like that in small doses, but it really doesn't teach anything as effectively as other methods. So this time, we are making the book collaboratively and it is going SO much better. We do a cumulative review, then look at the new material. They have 10-15 minutes to color, cut, and paste their different pages simultaneously, then we put it all together and go over it once more. It's worked out really well, and I'm starting to hear little phrases from Pirkei Avos dancing around the house. It's been a long time since our puppets, Tzemi and Zevi, taught Hebrew here so I think we need to revive them and take some of our lessons "out of the book."

•Eli is plugging away in kriyah (Hebrew reading), writing, phonics, and math. Raizel is enthusiastically working on her letters. Her fine-motor control is startling, especially compared to her big sister at that age! She can color in tiny details, and her letters have such precision. The Pirkei Avos page she did looked so nice that Eli saw it and actually regretted scribbling colors all over his. He said that tomorrow he wanted to do a nicer job on his. :) (His mama is just fine with scribbles, or neat little circles, or polka dots, or coloring in the lines...)

And tomorrow it's shabbos again already! Hard to believe. I decided to do a simple dinner, and Saturday we're going elsewhere for lunch (thank you, ML!!!!). I really want to do a little more organizing, especially in those places we haven't gone to much since unpacking (so what are those things doing there, anyway??). There are many more things I will quite gleefully pack off to Good Will. Didn't think it was possible after the Year of the Great Declutter!

Good shabbos, all!


Jennifer in MamaLand said...

Nice to see an update! Jealous about the strawberries, that's for sure... here, even the earliest ones are still a few weeks away. What are you using for the Pirkei Avos? Or are you just winging it?

alpidarkomama said...

Torah Umesorah has a really nice Pirkei Avos workbook. You're free to make as many copies for your "class" as you want. :)