Friday, January 28, 2011

The Menu

Dinner here, lunch out!

For dinner...

red pepper spread
chicken with orange ginger teriyaki sauce
basmati rice with preserved oranges
green salad with soy ginger dressing
baked sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes (for Amirah!)
roasted veggies
pear cake

Good shabbos!

The Week

I haven't been doing much recreational writing (i.e. blogging!) this week. I latched onto a very fun project and I can't get enough of it. :) A friend in the community started a wonderful little girls' choir. She has six pieces she'd like to do, so I'm busily transcribing them from her recordings and writing the piano accompaniments. So much fun to work on. Time consuming, though! I finished the first one (the biggest) and it took a total of about five hours, I think. But I'm really happy with the arrangement that resulted and I can't wait to continue working on the next one. I got a bit of a start last night. I'll be the accompanist for the group, so that will be fun too. ALSO, our recorder group and the girls' choir will be able to collaborate on some pieces too so while doing the arrangements I'm keeping it in my head to make it recorder friendly. The only that's tricky is we don't have a piano yet. I usually noodle around at the piano while working out an arrangement. Noodling around on the computer is 10x slower. I'm sure I'd cut my work time in half by having a real piano. It's on the to do list!

It was a very good week. With the changes DH and I made this week to Amirah's chumash studies and the jazzing up I did of our math time, both subjects were done b'simcha (with joy) this week. I'll write about the activities we're doing for now in a future post, b"n. I'm looking forward to more talks with DH to develop additional activities as we go along. I'm also teaching for mastery of the pesukim, so that she really knows what each word/shoresh/prefix/suffix means and can translate and pronounce every part with accuracy. This means we're going to go more slowly through the reading, but I think it will translate into greater speed overall as we progress.

We also had two wonderful park outings that involved lots of bike riding and rollerblading. The kids had a great time, and we need to do this much more often especially as the weather warms. It's lovely to get out for a couple of hours each day. Well, those are some of the highlights! Good shabbos!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great Sunday

What a day! We got quite a lot done today, and it felt very good. To begin with, DH managed to FIX a dvd player in which some little hands had placed a pair of kippah clips. So, after canceling watching Guardians of Ga'Hoole last night, we got to enjoy it tonight. G of G was, of course, not nearly as good as the books. They took the plot of at least four of the books and put it into hyperdrive to jam through the highlights. You really didn't get to relish any of the characters. Twilight's battle poetry was the biggest disappointment. When we read those books, his battle poetry shook the house! :) All the same, it was fun to reminisce about how much we enjoyed the series, and the artistry was completely amazing. It was fun enough to spend part of an evening with.

Then, DH finished the removal of the Very Stuck Carpet from the future music room. Hooray! What a task that was. I'm sure he spent a good 10 hours of hard work to get that all out. Now we have to remove the glue from the plywood (hot water and dish soap), then paint it, then we can get the floor in. We're hoping to have it done in time for our first music class in 11 days. We'll see!

We also spent about an hour and a half together hashing out ideas for teaching chumash. Since his job all day is hashing out ideas to teach whatever subject lands on his desk, he's a tremendous resource and it was so nice to sit down and really come up with activities that we can do to, er, enhance our chumash studies. Such a learning curve for a ger and a BT, and this definitely takes much more of my own study time than any other subject. What a great excuse to learn and study though! As we flesh out and test our activities, I'll report more on what we're doing. I'm very happy to feel like my quiver is a bit fuller than it has been. It's helpful to him too since he's volunteering time as an instructional designer to the local day school so he can also get his ideas warmed up as he prepares to talk with individual faculty members. He's very much looking forward to doing that.

I got a few things done around the house too, so overall it was a very satisfying Sunday. I only wish that we had had a chance to take the kids to the park for an hour or so, but the day just quickly evaporated. Spent the evening typing up things for our chumash activities, making my order list for the new music class, and now I need to quickly run through our learning for tomorrow. For math, I'd like to take them into the yard and have them measure the land and transfer everything to graph paper so we can plot out fruit trees, gardens, possible future goats, chickens, play objects, etc. Should be fun!

Shavua tov!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Menu

For dinner...

We're going out! HOORAY! Didn't think we'd be able to, but Amirah woke up feeling completely recovered and has been without a fever for several days, and Eli is only coughing at night. B"H!

For lunch...

A soupy, sandwichy, salady kind of thing....

B"H and good shabbos!

Our Week

Hard to believe it's almost Friday (well, technically, it IS Friday!). Amirah came down with some kind of virus that has her mildly tired and with a bit of an upset stomach. She still eats a bit here and there, so it's not too bad B"H. I did finally go last night and got my flu shot, and got an appointment for all the kids for next week. There are some far nastier strains going around, it seems. Eli has had a really bad dry cough that keeps him from sleeping. It's been a slow-ish week around here with not too many adventures!

Monday was normal, then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I just treated like one big storytime. We read lots of science and learned about lizards, snakes, and crocodiles. We read about the last of the crusades (gevalt). Our Jewish history book (Berel Wein) included a story of the crusade led by Louis IX of France, shortly after he had held a public burning of the talmud. One group of French crusaders had several hundred Jews accompanying them for the journey to the Holy Land. The Jews established a yeshiva in Acre, and they remained under the protection of the Crusaders! That's all the details to the story I have, but would love to learn more about that strange story. We read about bad King John and his brother, Richard the Lionhearted, and read a Robin Hood story. We read about the magna carta and how it influenced our own constitutional laws. History was very interesting! We also finished The Five Little Peppers. Loved the book! A very sweet story, with wonderful middos modeled all the way through. Now it's being followed by a treat story - another Nancy Drew! We did lots of drawing, hung up some homemade bird feeders, and did a lot of resting. It was kind of nice, but I'm anxious to get back to work next week. The end of January is our half-way point for the year, and we're actually pretty on target towards completing what I'd hoped we'd get to this year.

Since Amirah still feels a bit low, and Eli still has a bad cough, we won't be able to attend a dinner at shul on Friday. We were all really looking forward to it too! Now I have to figure out what on earth we're eating tomorrow night. Something simple! Good shabbos, all!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weekday Menus

Here's what we ate for dinner this week:

Sunday: turkey soup w/barley and brown rice, oatmeal bread
Monday: mini-pizzas
Wednesday: rice roll wraps
Thursday: crepes for kids, shashuka and toast for adults (spicy tomato sauce w/eggs poached in it)

The turkey soup turned out great. I got some REALLY cheap turkey wings at the store a month ago and had stashed them in the freezer. It really hit the spot after a drizzly, Oregonian day.

The mini-pizza breads came about because I really goofed. I made about 50 bread buns, but not until they were BAKING did I realize I hadn't put in the yeast. I was just not-distracted enough to note that they hadn't risen much. Oh, well. They're making great flatbreads!

And rice roll wraps. Can someone please explain to me why these are so yummy?? We put in tofu, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and I made a Thai peanut-coconut dipping sauce. I thought the other soy-ginger sauce was really good, but this was ridiculous. I actually crave these things. Weird.

Ahhhhhh... shabbos is coming. B"H!

Quote of the Week

We were discussing how the time you spend honoring your parents is given back to you at the end of your life, so you actually get a longer life the more you honor your parents, then...

Eli: Yeah, and you also get a longer day!
Mama: How do you get a longer day?
Eli: You don't have to spend any of it in your room.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wrong Bread

Eli, with great consternation: This isn't bread!
Mama: Yes, it is! Try it.
Eli: It's NOT bread. I can't eat it.
Mama: What is wrong with the bread?
Eli: It's so............. WHITE!

I guess he's just used to our oatmeal wheat bread. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Savannah Laws

In perusing the code to understand laws on setbacks, poultry, and livestock, I came across some interesting things that are illegal to do here...

•Spit in the street or on the sidewalk.
•Throw a rock in the street or at a tree.
•Play golf at Daffin Park.
•Swim in the Savannah River (and several other rivers).
•Sell a (presumably live) chicken.
•Aerobatic flying.
•Beekeeping. :(

I just thought this was rather interesting. But can I find the information on setbacks, poultry, and livestock that I really need? Er, no. Oh, well!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Menu

After having seen a video shiur where the woman stated that she made sure to have all the shabbos cooking by noon so she could enter shabbos in a more shabbosdik frame of mind, I decided to try to rise to the occasion. And I did! At 11:00 a.m. all the cooking is done, minus one more round of rice in the rice cooker (it's brown for tonight and white for tomorrow's sushi). Looks like being done by noon is actually possible, even for this last-minute kind of lady. Now for some learning, then maybe even early baths (?!?!?!?!).

And here's the menu...

Japanese braised chicken
green salad with honey sesame dressing
Japanese cole slaw
roasted sweet potatoes
baked potatoes (for the non-rice eaters)
brown rice
cucumber salad
strawberry kiwi sorbet
ginger cake

sushi (surimi/cucumber/avocado, egg/spinach/sweet potato, cucumber)
nikujaga (Japanese beef stew)
spinach puff pastry rollups
salads from dinner
same desserts + marshmallow squares, courtesy of guest!

Good shabbos, all!

Book Review: Treasure Island

First published in 1883 and written by Robert Louis Stevenson, I knew there was a good chance we would enjoy the rich language in this exciting tale. And enjoy it, we did! It's the ultimate pirate story (and yes, the pirates are unsympathetic, unglorified characters). There is a strong focus on the moral development of the youngest character, and on the moral choices the other characters make. Every chapter was a cliffhanger, and all the kids really enjoyed the book. Two thumbs up!

Having finished that, we tore through another Nancy Drew book before starting Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. And how have they grown so far? The first fourteen chapters has been full of nothing but utter gratitude to Hashem, and complete hakaros hatov (recognizing the good). As good as Little House on the Prairie for modeling good middos. This was written in 1881, a good decade for books! More to come...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning Update - Secular Studies

It's been a while since I wrote about our learning... Here's a little update.

MATH (Saxon 2)
We switched books about a month ago now (from Singapore to Saxon), and it's continuing to go very well. Amirah has really sped up on her math facts, we've deepened our knowledge of a few concepts, and her enthusiasm is high. We've gotten through about 40 lessons in 16 lesson days, so going at a good clip. I really do like the Singapore approach better, but it just didn't work as well for her. After finishing Saxon 2 we may give Singapore another go. I really think it was not enough speed with her math facts that was hanging her up in Singapore. We'll see! It's so wonderful to have the flexibility to switch a curriculum if it's just not working.

COMPOSITION (Writing With Ease)
I just love the way this series gently brings along a student's ability to become a good writer. It really only takes 10 minutes per day. Our lessons currently consist of this:

Day 1: Story, narration questions, and three questions to help summarize the plot (i.e. "What was the main problem?" "What happened next?" and "How was it resolved?"). The student then summarizes the plot in 2-3 sentences and the parent writes it down.

Day 2: Copy a sentence from the story. Usually the sentences now include multiple punctuation marks and are sometimes two sentences long.

Day 3: The sentence from Day 2 is now given as a dictation sentence for the student to write down after hearing it twice.

Day 4: Same as Day 1, but with a continuation of the story.

Day 5: The student picks one sentence from the previous summarization to have as a dictation sentence.

(In the text, Day 4 and Day 5 are actually done all on one day, but I prefer to break it up.)

GRAMMAR (First Language Lessons)
This book continues to just take about 5 minutes per day, 2x/week. There has a lot of emphasis on parts of speech, and we're now about to go onto adverbs!

READING (McGuffey Reader 2)
Amirah gets some great readaloud practice from this book. We often take this in the car for her to read her daily story to us on our way to somewhere else. We can get a lot done by "carschooling." She also just reads all kinds of things to herself all day, so I don't really keep tabs on her specifically about how much reading she's doing - it's plenty!

STORY OF THE WORLD (Medieval History)
Vikings, Old English, the feudal system, and later this week we'll enter the crusades. Oh, what a time for the Jews. We've made Viking ships, listened to part of Beowulf in the original Old English (and read an adaptation of the story in modern English), painted castles, and built blocks and more blocks out of plaster of paris and will soon BE"H make a model of a castle. At the dinner table I said out loud, "I wonder if any Jews ever lived in a castle..." Amirah's response? "Of course, mama. In a dungeon!" We've learned how Jews essentially lived outside the feudal system, being neither serfs nor lords (and of course not clergy!). They were pretty much the only merchants, and received variable treatment (sounds like a euphemism!) by the societies in which they lived. And knights were no friend of the Jew; one would just hope to survive an encounter with one on the road.

Amirah LOVES spelling. I just hand her the book while I'm working with Raizel and Eli and she plows through a whole chapter at a time. Our favorite part? At the end of each lesson, there's a section where there is a list of 5-7 words that aren't on the spelling list, but follow the same rules. Of course, you're supposed to follow the RULES and write on a topic the book suggests, like "Use the following words to write about a trip to the dentist." Well, phooey, it's more fun to write things like:

"The greedy, shy canary is not satisfied with a cherry."

"I always enjoy Monday, but I go astray."

"I nibble on a gentle eagle, then I sparkle."


"I like a nice whale sandwich with a bit of cheese and it tastes good."

Now that's FUN!

ZOOLOGY (Exploring Creation with Zoology 3)
We concluded our study of hooved mammals, and are now on to snakes and lizards. Most of our science study for zoology has consisted of reading books on our currrent subject, looking up youtube videos (previewed by mama after checking the sources!), and watching any David Attenborough shows that relate to our studies. Sometimes what we're studying also lines up with the little classes at Skidaway Island State Park, and that's always nice (and I really mean "little." We're usually the only students!). We also draw the animals we are learning about (hence the cows in a previous post, and snakes coming up next BE"H!). Amirah adores any science learning we do.

Drawing, drawing, and more drawing as you've already seen. Amirah has also really been into making beaded necklaces and bracelets. We found many very nice glass, wooden, and shell beads at Walmart, so she spent some of her own money getting a box of wooden beads. Most of art relates back to either history or science. Today we drew castles with silver pens on black construction paper. More fun!

I was going to write about our kodesh studies too, and about Raizel and Eli too, but I'm ready to end this for now! Time for a long winter's nap. Good night, all!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Menu


steak (50% off!)
chicken (ditto!)
mashed potatoes
sautéed portabello mushrooms and cabbage
roasted zucchini
apple crisp
chocolate cherry sorbet


challah, thanks to a guest!
whiting/potato cakes
tofu sour cream sauce (tofu sour cream, garlic, worcestershire sauce)
lime cilantro coleslaw
turkey deli meat
taco salad, thanks to a guest!
turkey deli meat
beef stew
cookies, thanks to a guest!
chocolate cherry sorbet
apple crisp

Yum. It was a lovely, restful shabbos.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jewish Homeschooling Blogs

Go here to visit the fourth Jewish homeschooling blog carnival. I get a lot of chizuk from reading other families' experiences and ideas. I'm so grateful to those who are writing often to share what they are up to. Now if only we all lived in the same city... (and country...) I am very grateful to have such a wonderful cyber-chevra!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cherry Jam

Several months ago, a group of Christians donated a percentage of their crops (?) to our shul to go to whomever wanted it. Apparently, they thought that if they gave a certain amount of their produce to the Jews, Hashem would smile on them. So, our community ended up with, among other things, a hundred or more pounds of dried cherries. YUM! But now I've used dried cherries in lots of things. They'll last nearly ad infinitum, but I finally thought to try out making them into jam. So...

I boiled them and let them sit in a covered pot for 24 hours. They re-plumped nicely. I drained off some of the juice (used some in a cherry-chocolate sorbet and the rest will be for a shabbos drink treat). I used this recipe:

3 lbs cherries
1/3 cup pectin (= 1 box)
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 c. sugar

You just combine the cherries (you can lightly chop the cherries in the food processor if you want; I did it both ways), pectin, and lemon juice and bring it to a hard boil. Add the sugar, and when it returns to a hard boil count down one minute and turn it off. You can it in a hot water bath if you want. I canned 8 quarts, and stashed the rest in the freezer to jam later. Should get another 8 quarts out of those cherries. I think I now have a lifetime supply of orange marmalade and cherry jam. I still have some spring strawberries in the freezer too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Art Projects

We're continuing to do lots of drawing. It's been so much fun!


By Raizel

By Eli

By Amirah


By Raizel

By Eli

By Amirah

And a GOOFY PICTURE, by Amirah

Monday, January 3, 2011

Weekday Menus

Sunday: Butternut squash soup, taco salad, fresh oatmeal bread w/homemade cherry preserves

Monday: beef stew from shabbos w/added meatballs from freezer, baked potatoes

Tuesday: spring rolls w/tofu, cabbage, cukes, red peppers, cilantro, carrots, and yummy SAUCE

Wednesday: ebelskivers* and eggs

Thursday: rosh chodesh dinner at shul!

*Danish globe-shaped pancakes. Hadn't made them ages, and tonight I remembered why. It takes too long to make enough to feed six people!