Your Jewish Homeschool Curriculum Made Much Easier!

Hello Everyone!

I tried to write this post a while ago, but we have a new web hosting package and even though I was assured that I was not losing anything, I really am, and I was not able to write my post without my server resources being used up and having to wait and redo it all! So, I had to come up with another way of posting that will work until I get around to calling them and not having to spend $200 just so I can write text on my blog!

One of the big issues for Jewish homeschoolers has always been in creating a Judaic curriculum. After homeschooling for 12 years, I have finally put together a list of Judaic curriculum resources useful to Homeschoolers, and the grades they usually match up with. Most of the resources are free, and most can be found on chinuch.org. All I did was go through the resources to find the kinds of things that many homeschooling families are looking for – “What do Day Schools teach?” And then, the second question that most people do not get to for they don’t usually get the first question answered, but is in their minds – “How do I do it?” So, I went through tens of thousands of resources posted on chinuch.org and weeded out what I thought were the kinds of materials most appropriate in a homeschool setting. They are grouped by subject and then by grade range they are most suited for.

Firstly, please keep in mind that this is just a starting place! I have definitely included a lot that many people might be able to use my list to create a full curriculum for many years, however, please note that there will probably be some gaps that need filling in after a few years, so keep that in mind. There is still some information I want to include but is not on yet.

1. Most of what is posted are links to chinuch.org. Chinuch.org is part of Torah U’Mesorah. It is a teachers resource site where teachers can submit classroom ideas and worksheets for others to use. Teachers post their materials and someone at Torah U’Mesorah looks them over to make sure they are appropriate before making them available. Most of what is posted is supplementary material. Homeschooling parents are looking for complete programs or themes. I went through a huge portion of these materials to find complete “kits”. Bonus – Everything on chinuch.org is free. 🙂

2. There are other sites that I have listed. Many of those are not free but are definitely worth looking at if your budget allows.

How do you use my list? All you need to do is find the subject that you are interested in looking at, then go to the grade level (Elementary, Middle School, High School) and see if anything there fits your needs. I tried to find several options for each grade level, though I was not always successful. Just do this for each subject you are looking for.

Again, this was made as a STARTING place, and you might need to fill in the few gaps you may find. The link below will take you to a Google Document of my list. If you have any issues opening it up, please sent me a message. Extra bonus: My list is free, so please pass the link around to your friends who might need it!

Click here for the list

If you have a link that you think would be good, please let me know and I will take a look at it.

Hope you enjoy!

Shanah Tovah U’Metuka!

Wow. As I came to log in I had to think for a moment what my login information was. I guess that means it has been too long. The last 9 months have definitely been a change, in many ways, and I am not going to go into detail about it, at least not now. I will say that as the school year ended, I was starting to feel up and up about things and looking forward to my summer. However, as what happens many times in our lives, Hashem steps in to remind us that He is really the one in charge and it has definitely been a crazy, challenging 3 months, on a very different level.

The summer was so crazy that I did not have enough time (only had 3 hours out of the ENTIRE summer – yes, for real…) to work on schedules. Even with only 2 boys to work with, I still need some time. As the weeks of school are rolling along, I finally have a schedule that might work. Time will tell. 🙂

As I dropped off one boy for a Spanish class and one boy for a Chemistry class, I was sitting in the car and realized that I had one hour to myself – no one was there with me! Wow. Should I close my eyes and rest, listen to a shiur? I decided that I was going to have the most satisfaction by typing up a Dvar Torah about a Rosh Hashanah shiur that I heard by Rabbi Mendel Kessin – all typed up on my phone (talk about being desperate!) I have decided to include it here. Feel free to read in between cooking and cleaning or even print it off to read over the chag (holiday.)

Hoping everyone is written in the Books of Life, Success, Happiness, and Health. Shanah Tovah!


Why do we blow the shofar?
(Based on a shiur given by Rabbi Mendel Kessin)

Rabbi Kessin is great at asking questions. Baruch Hashem he is also great at answering them!  He poses several questions with regards to Rosh Hashana.

Why do we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana? Why do we have a festive meal on the Day of Judgement? How can we dare to be happy and eat? If we can be happy and eat a festive meal, shouldn’t we also say Hallel like we do on Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov?

Many people will tell you we blow the shofar to confuse the Satan.  If we think for a minute, we know that is not true, for the Satan is very intelligent. He is not dumb. We have been blowing the shofar for thousands of years, after the first few years, you would think that the Satan would have gotten it and not be confused anymore.

No, that is not it. We blow the shofar to remind Hashem of Akeidas Yitzchok – when Hashem told Abraham to go and bring Yitzchok up as a sacrifice.

Why? What does Akeidas Yitzchok have to do with Rosh Hashana?

Hashem told Avraham to take his son and offer him up as a sacrifice – not make him the sacrifice.  However, He purposefully just said that Abraham should bring his son, Yitzchok, up as a sacrifice and left off the end “and bring him back down .”   Hashem wanted Avraham to misinterpret what He said.

Why?When Avraham heard this statement, it brought seven harsh ideas into his mind. Some that I remember are:
– Yitzchok is perfect, he did nothing wrong that needed the punishment of death
– Yitzchok is a person, he cannot kill another person, he did nothing wrong to deserve this
– Yitzchok is a Jew, how can I kill a Jew?
– He is my son, how can I kill my son?
– I am chesed, kindness, how can I be mean and kill someone not deserving of death

Avraham was able to accept 6/7 thoughts (the five listed above and the last I do not remember,) however, it was the 7th one that he had problems with: Hashem promised me a nation will come from Yitzchok, if he is dead, he cannot have children and no nation will come!

To Avraham, Hashem seemed to be acting irrational- when you die, you cannot have children.  This does not make sense. However, Avraham had faith in Hashem and said, “This LOOKS irrational, it looks like it cannot happen, however, whatever Hashem does is good and correct and I must be missing something.” And as we know, Avraham does listen and brings his son up to Har Hamoriah to be sacrificed.

It was never Hashem’s intention to actually have Yitzchok killed, and Hashem stops Avraham at the last minute. Avraham passed the test of thinking he was told to do an irrational thing by putting his trust and faith in the Almighty. Instead, Hashem provides a ram to be sacrificed.

On Rosh Hashana Hashem looks at everything in the world and sees how it is going. Are things going well? Does something need to be changed? Do employees need to be moved around or let go?

It is not so much the sins we have done, but where we are going spiritually.  Are we trying to come closer to Hashem? Yes, our sins do play a role and left to the Satan to be the prosecutor, things would not go well.

It is at this moment that we blow the shofar. We use the horn of a ram (usually) to remind Hashem of the irrational thing that Avraham did in trusting Hashem in face of what looked irrational, and we are asking Him to use midda-keneged-midda, measure for measure, and be irrational with us. When Hashem hears the shofar, He acts irrational and throws out the prosecutor, the Satan, and takes us into His private chambers. He looks at us and says we need to fix some things and because of that we need a few punishments, but this is good for these punishments will fix us and ensure we continue to exist, as a people, and ultimately when our tikkun is done, when we fixed what needs to be fixed, Mashiach will come.

This is why we eat a festive meal on Rosh Hashana. We know that when we blow the shofar, the Jewish nation will continue to exist and not be wiped out. If we are happy, shouldn’t we say Hallel?  No, we are not fully happy. There is still awe when we walk into a courtroom, and still a bit of reservation so we cannot say Hallel.

I hope this brings you all a little bit more meaning into this awesome day!

Learning to Grow and Change

#3 multitasking for his Cooking Merit Badge.

It has been quite a busy several months. Can’t say there has been too much homeschooling wise to talk about, which is one of the reasons why I have not written for so many long months. However, that means there are lots of pictures I can post. 😀

With Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos, our latest bar mitzvah, the week later my nephew’s bar mitzvah, a few weeks later our yearly Thanksgiving trip, the boys’ camping trip to Big Bend, Chanukah… When did we have time for school? Or, as I am typing, I am thinking that perhaps I can rephrase that: That WAS our schooling, so perhaps there really is something to write about.

I do have stuff to write about, and all those amazing trips really are one of the wonderful

Happy 16th Birthday Mr. Big!

reasons why I love homeschooling for I don’t have to answer to anyone and we really can and do make our lives as much learning as we can. However, that is not the main reason for writing. We will get that those, but there are other things.

Life changes, and we have to learn to adjust to the changes. The past two years have been very challenging for us. Our move down south was definitely not what we had in mind and that is the hard part. I am slowly, very slowly, starting to realize that what I have in mind is irrelevant. I used to think that I was very flexible. If my husband wanted a break and asked me if I wanted to go out with the family for a night to a hotel, I used to be able to pack and be ready in 45 minutes for a wonderful adventure. I am learning though, that yes, I am flexible in some areas, but in others I am not. That is the challenge.

We started the school year with one less boy at home. One boy, who actually hates change, needed so badly to have a change and go off to Yeshiva. Normally I do not believe that children should go away from home for school, however,  I understand that there are exceptions. Our one child is an exception. It took me a long time to get there. I felt I was not trying hard enough, and with a little bit more work, a little bit more proper advice, I could make things work. Yes, I did get some help, and yes, the help really worked, however, it still took me many months to realize that no, I was not a terrible mother, not a terrible teacher, it is just my child is ready for something else. I am happy to report that our child is doing well. He is happy and he is learning. What more can I ask for? He still has a ways to go, but one step at a time and with G-d’s help, he will get there.

I started the year very quiet. The whole house dynamics was so different. It was a good

Saba and Mr. Little.

thing. The other boys started opening up. I now had the ability to see what else was needed in the house. Mr. Little, who is not so little, got to have more of my attention. We are doing pretty much what we did last year – I have my Charlotte Mason for the secular and Melamed Academy for the Judaics. I have to say that the Melamed Academy has come a long way from last year. The older boys have a Rebbe for Gemara and Mishnayos and they have weekly live shiurim they attend. I have added  private tutoring with Rabbi Resnick from Room613.net. The boys have learned with Rabbi Resnick for several years, many years ago, and were really excited when I asked if they would like to have him for their Gemara now. With all that set up, school didn’t seem so bad – until you start adding in all the wonderful Yomim Tovim.

It is hard to keep up with school with all the holidays! But, I cannot complain. Amidst all the spiritual highs, Mr. Boy #3 became a Man. 🙂 Motzei Yom Kippur he had his birthday. Such

Bar Mitzvah Cousins!

a lucky boy he was this year. He was told to eat all day on Yom Kippur until the last 72 minutes and then he had to fast.  We teased him about that. We waited until a few weeks later, Parshas Beraishis, before celebrating for he cousin had his bar mitzvah the next week, Parshas Noach, and we wanted my parents to be able to easily attend both simchas. It definitely was a whirlwind of several weeks. Sukkos, Boy Scout campout again in our sukkah, two bar mitzvahs and lots of wonderful time with family. My parents were excited. I made Saba (Grandpa) learn Chumash with Mr. Little every day. It gave them something wonderful to do. Saba and Mr. Little have a special bond. They love to Skype with each other regularly and read stories to each other. My parents took my boys with them to my sister’s house, leaving my DH and I two days to ourselves!  Thanks to my parents and my sister for babysitting!

I have to say, Hashem heard my prayers and saw my tears this summer. He just decided that my time alone would be better off at a different time when I did not have to worry about making a school schedule. DH took ALL boys (well, all three) to Big Bend to camp for a

Big Bend National Park

week in December. That meant… you guessed it… I was home, All. By. Myself. Just me. 🙂 It gave me that so much needed break. I spent time on the computer the first day. I did not know what to do with myself. It did get cold here that morning, the cold front come through, though Big Bend was one of two spots in the country that was warm. On Monday, I tidied up some of the rooms and started on a deep clean of the coat closet. I had small goals, I knew better. I spent all day Tuesday cleaning the coat closet. I tossed as much as I could out – I still am working on minimalizing my house. It is a slow process. It felt so good to not feel rushed that someone is coming home, and I could just leave things if I was finished for the day and go to bed! Wednesday was my spiritual day. I did make sure I did some reading every day, but Wednesday was my big day. I decided that after the cleaning was done, this was my opportunity to reconnect. With being busy with beautiful boys, it is not usually easy for me to find time, so I made sure I made time. By the time everyone

Big Bend National Park

came home on Thursday, I was ready. I was calm, happy, and felt recharged. And I did not have to leave home, which was the best!

The big thing this year is that we finally got to see what each of the other boys were needing. Mr. Big was not doing well. Our city is big, and there are many religious family here, there are several areas in town. However, the big thing is that it is still a “young” community. There are so many children here. However, the kicker is that they stop at about 13 years of age. After that, there just are not very many kids. Our oldest is now 16 and we asked someone in the know and he could only come up with 3 boys that age. Two are out of town and the other is in a different area of town. There are basically no boys here for him. That is a big problem. That along with other things that have happened created a situation that needed our immediate attention.

This is where I got stuck. We knew what we needed to do though I had a hard time accepting things. I had my head stuck in one direction and could not shift into another

His First Day of Yeshiva!

gear. Our son needed to go to Yeshiva. He did not need to go away from home, but he needed friends. The Yeshiva here has mainly out of town boys with a few in town boys from the other side of town. It was a hard few months for me as I struggled with me and who I was. I was not a failure. From 4 down to 2. It was a hard thing to swallow. I had to swallow my ego and that was not easy. Afterall, I was “That Homeschool Mom,” for the good and not so good. I had to live up to that title, didn’t I?

No.

That is not who I am. I am a mother of 4 beautiful boys and wife to an amazing husband. As a Mother, all I want is the best for my children. If teaching them at home is the best for them, or, at least, the same as sending to them to school, and I want and can teach them, then I will. If there comes a time when something is better, then, as a Mother, I will do my best to make sure they get it. Up until now, homeschooling really was the best for them.

Chanukah with all my boys 😀

Now, after 16 years, my oldest is ready to move on. Baruch Hashem, he has a had a good first week of school and is finishing the week off with a Shabbaton. I would like to think that he appreciates at least some of what I taught him and gave him over the last 16 years,( though, that just might be my ego getting to me again. 😉 ) In many ways, he has a huge advantage over other boys, and he knows it, and in other ways he will catch up really fast. DH and I are very happy with how and what we taught them in their Judaics (as well as secular). They have learned stuff that most boys do not learn and it is stuff that puts them ahead in a big way. Mr. Big is good at perception and I do believe that he understands this. We listened to part of a shiur several weeks ago that stated that he believes that boys should be learning the material that we taught and why.

As we head on over to the second half of the school year, I am finally really excited. I have one boy who insists that he wants to remain learning at home (yeah! I can think that I

Freezing maple syrup on snow!

really am doing at least a little good,) and one boy whom I can give a lot more attention with his learning that he needs over the next few years. OH! And I can’t forget to mention that Mr. Boy #3 passed his Amateur Radio test! Another Kosher Ham in the house! 😀

Things are good. It just depends on if we can train our minds to understand that. Things are slowing down in some ways, which is helpful, so that I can focus my attention on things that need me. I am optimistic that the three of us who are home are going to have lots of fun. 🙂

 

Shanah Tovah U’Mesuka!

kimg1763As the Jewish year is coming to an end, a new school year has already begun. A few weeks ago my Facebook was inundated with wonderful photos of many friends’ Back to School/Homeschool pictures. It was nice to see. I hope that everyone had a wonderful summer and is enjoying the new learning year.

Our summer was not too bad. It was not overly hot like it was last year (we rarely got above 100 degrees this summer, but stayed in the upper 90’s.) It was more humid though, guess it was not hot enough to burn the humidity out of the air. The boys did get to swim many times and kept a bit cool that way. 🙂

The summer is usually the time I get to recharge. When the boys were younger, I used to be able to send them to camp for a week and leave me with just one little one, or, the last

Hiking up Wheeler Peak with their Dad.
Hiking up Wheeler Peak with their Dad.

year or so they went, I had a week to myself during the day. It was really nice. I got to do most of the preparations for the coming year, as well as take the time to do what I wanted, when I wanted it, whether it was doing nothing, going for a walk, or cleaning out a room or just some drawers. We don’t have that luxury anymore to send them to camp, but I would still take a few weeks to do nothing. Just a time to recharge. I don’t mind having them home, they are big enough they usually entertain themselves and I am just here to referee 🙂

That was the plan for this summer as well. It was a wonderful plan! I had a few things I wanted to learn with them this summer, as usual, but

Wheeler Peak. Snow!
Wheeler Peak. Snow!

for the most part, much of the day would be doing not much and letting me focus on re-organizing the house. When we moved in 1.5 years ago, our boxes came from storage basically on Purim. My husband wanted all the boxes out of the house and things “somewhere” before Pesach. I always wanted to move into a house for Pesach, thought it would be wonderful! I spent the entire month emptying boxes. Not quite the move that I was thinking of, but I guess it was not too bad. 😉  I cannot be upset for Erev Pesach, my husband decided to empty just one more box (almost all the boxes were empty, just had a couple more to go,) and found a loaf of bread that the packers said they could not pack, that had been in storage for 7 months. I looked, no mold, and it LOOKED edible. Then I remembered why I don’t normally buy store bread – if there is no mold on it in about 5 days, I don’t want to eat it! What all this meant was that things were placed somewhere, but not really in the homes I wanted. So, the plan was to slowly take the summer, since there was nothing much else to do, and re-organize and minimize (yes, still trying to do that.) Well, you know the saying, “Man plans, G-d laughs.” Yup, that really is a true saying! Though I am trying to reframe my mind and prefer to think that “Man plans, G-d challenges.”

Baruch Hashem nothing bad happened. We all stayed healthy and safe. For that I am very grateful. It’s just that things did not go as planned. It was very frustrating. A week before Labor Day, where many schools wait to start, I broke down. I told my husband it was a

We did get a little school done in the summer. Private tutor for Gemara with Rabbi Resnick.
We did get a little school done in the summer. Private tutor for Gemara with Rabbi Resnick.

week before school, I had not had my break, which was something we had talked about for a few weeks already for I saw I was probably not going to get it with everything that was going on, I had no time to even THINK about school and I *NEEDED* at least one week, but really, really, really, wanted two, but I could make one week work. He tried so hard, but it never happened. “You homeschool, you don’t need to start when everyone is starting, take the next two weeks off!” “I can’t! I am already not teaching the week of Labor Day, I can’t wait any longer. The boys NEED it. They need the schooling.” Yes, technically they could wait, but they were getting antsy with the lack of a school schedule.

A few of you are on my friends list on Facebook and might vaguely recall a posting I made stating that my summer vacation just started at something like 4:32pm the Wednesday or Thursday before Labor Day.  I was so excited! For one day, I did nothing. Nothing. Boy did it feel good.  I was almost guilty. Almost. Not quite. 🙂 But, by the end of the (next) day I was bored and ready to do stuff. Beautiful. Just what I wanted to happen for that meant I would be ready to do what I wanted. Day Two: Back to the old grind. Unfortunately that was all, I did not get the next day. My husband was home on Labor Day and gave me the entire day. I spent the entire day working on school. I got a huge way over. All I can say is Baruch Hashem we are doing Ambleside Online. I think I only had to get 3 books for boys this year for we had all the rest since there is very little consumable stuff we use. And, Baruch Hashem for Amazon Prime. Despite all that help, it still took about 20 hours over that week and the next to get everything all set up. I basically woke boys up the second week in September and handed them their work. I did not even tell them school had started, just “here is your work for today” and off they went. I felt bad for they were not prepared, and neither was I. That first week I kept getting frustrated boys asking “what do I do now, Mom?” It was hard on all of us. But, I felt that was the best. The boys needed to start. It was a hard beginning. I did not get my break I needed, school really started with a bang and then things went flying and we had to catch them. So no, we did not have any Back to School pictures to post.

On another note, we had another huge change we had to get used to. Boy #2 is not at home with us anymore. We have sent him away to Yeshiva. It was time for a change.

Miss him!
Miss him!

Surprisingly, the boy who does not like changes was not only needing it, he was begging for it. He has learned some nice life lessons, such as not spending all his monthly spending money the first 4 days of the month. Oops. 🙂 In general, he seems happy and he has some nice friends. It has taken some time to get used to a school setting, and the homework he has to do each night, but I think he is good. It has left a huge gap here at home though. It is awfully quiet some times. Even when someone is sleeping, you still feel their presence in the house. For someone who prefers no music during school hours for it is usually noisy enough, I was asking the one boy who was up doing school this morning if it would bother him if I put on music. No more boys can leave for a while. I put my foot down on that one. Not sure how long I can keep it down though.

So, as we finally settle down into a routine, and I find out when my quiet times are, for now I have some during the day, I am hoping that throughout the year I can do a little organizing here and some there. I have accepted the fact that I did not get my vacation this year. Well, sort of. Mostly. We have completed enough weeks that the schedule has mostly

Little brother waiting with older brother for time to leave for the plane.
Little brother waiting with older brother for time to leave for the plane.

worked itself out. There are still a few wrinkles, but there always is at the beginning of the year, no matter how prepared I am. I try to look ahead and move on. You can’t hang onto the past, especially when it gets you down. This past week I have managed to get one drawer in the kitchen cleaned out and it has made a noticeable difference, at least to me. I will keep chugging away at it. G-d willing it will get done, just at a different pace than I planned. When these things happen we have to remember our goal is to align ourselves with His goal. Everything He does is for the best, even when we don’t understand.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches and we try to prepare the best we can for our judgement and hopes of a sweet and happy year, we try to do one more mitzvah, one more chesed, give one more bit of tzedakah. While we wash the dishes and the clothes yet again, make one more dish of food in honor of the Yom Tov, or even just a regular day meal, they are all important jobs we are doing. It is all special. In last week’s parsha we learned about blessing that will come or us, or, chas v’shalom, the kimg1759curses that will befall us. We are told the curses will come because we were not happy when we had plenty. Not that we were not happy when times were tough. When times were good we were not happy. My friends, we have a mitzvah to be happy, to be b’simcha! We have more laundry to wash? Baruch Hashem! We have more dishes to clean, have to sweep and mop the floor for the 5th time today? Baruch Hashem! It is not always easy, especially when it seems mundane. Believe me, it is not. Your home is a mini Bais Hamikdash. Just like you would gladly sweep the floors of the real Bais Hamikdash, when you sweep your floors or wash yet another load of laundry, you are cleaning YOUR Bais Hamikdash. When we do His mitzvahs with joy, when we are happy when there is something good that happens, that is when blessings will come to our homes. Hashem is setting out our year for us in just a few days and so it is the perfect time to try to add even one more piece of joy – a piece of thankfulness – to our portfolio. With that one more piece of joy, may Hashem bless you and your family with a Shanah Tova U’Mesuka! May we all be inscribed with all the blessings we need. <3

Where Has The Time Gone?

KIMG1645Spring is amazing here and I am trying to soak it all up before it gets too hot to do much. I have been enjoying walks in the morning before boys need to get up.

Purim came and went and now Pesach is next week! I am having such a hard time wrapping my mind around that! Yes, I have been cleaning, I’m not too worried. I cleaned two main rooms before Grandpa came to visit us before Purim. I finished my room yesterday and we are working on boys’ rooms. I have bought all our Pesach needs except the fresh fruits and vegetables and a few odds and ends (I left our Pesach broom 1441 miles north of here 1.5 years ago since we needed something to clean with after all our stuff was gone and my regular broom was broken anyways.) Not quite sure what I did last year with all the matza crumbs, but, somehow I managed, don’t feel like figure it out right now.

We are in hail season right now. We went to bed Purim night to 15 minutes of strong hail. Woke up in the morning and it looked like it snowed! Damaged our metal roof, took theKIMG1595 paint off the fence, and dented the cars. But, Baruch Hashem, it did not break through our roof or any windows (just a couple of miles away, there were such things happening!) We had more hail this past week. I have come to expect that – it does not just rain here, as I found out last year. It pours. Gista mabul! (It’s flooding – yiddish)

Life is a bit different lately. Other than just things happening, it does feel strange not to be teaching any limudei kodesh things. Yes, I sit down with my little one and do his work with him – the watching of the videos, reading the school work and writing down many of the his dictations. But still, does feel weird. The little one told me he needed to make a new haggadah. Ah, yes, we used to do those. He does have a nice one his Saba Saba (Great Grandfather) bought him shortly before he passed away, but he wants one he makes. I was rummaging through my mind to try to remember which ones I have in my 3 inch binder that would be good for him. I am thinking the circle one would be good for him. Will look it up and pull it out.

*2 days later*

KIMG1640
Tea Time! With strawberries dipped in cocoa water and then sugar. Utterly messy, but utterly delicious!

Well, I went to go look on Chinuch.org for it to link to it, but I got caught instead looking at some other amazing things they had there. And then 2 days passed by somehow. I showed Mr. Little another haggadah, and he wanted it all printed out. It is a full haggadah but has some nice comments for children in it and he liked it. I printed out all 90 ish pages and then messed up royally on the hole punching… We won’t go down that road. I still have to fix one set of holes so it goes in the binder. And no, we have not gone over any of it because of that. Sigh. Wonder if there is anything else I can do. I guess I can just punch holes all around to make it look like it is supposed to be there – there are already holes on the other side! Or, I think I might just find some cardboard and tie yarn through holes. Yes, I think we can do that. I will let him decorate the outside when he gets bored.

I am not sure how I would manage cleaning the house if the boys were in school. We have spent 3 days on two rooms upstairs. Yeah, well okay, the boys spent one day painting – you know how it goes, all you wanted to do was clean, but out comes the paint. That room has not been painted since we moved in, and it was really needing it. All 4 boys (and Mommy) were into the painting. I was going to just do 3 walls but they did all 4. That room has a KIMG1643ceiling with 3 sides (almost like a barn), and they painted two of the sides as well, just leaving the actual ceiling alone. One beautiful boy went up and beyond and made sure it was all trimmed – ceiling, walls, in between the windows. He did not stop until it was done. Mr. Quiet is good that way. And to give my heartfelt thanks, I took him out. No one knows where we went (except Daddy), and we went on our hideaway to get some ice cream! I told him not to tell anyone where we were going. The others worked, and I am proud of that, it is just that he went up and beyond. I wanted to thank him for that but don’t want the others to feel bad for they great as well. So much for trying to work on my diet. I couldn’t just let him eat by himself (the date was quiet as it was – we are both quiet people,) and no, even though I was not going to have any, I did. So, we enjoyed our ice cream, together, in silence. I think he enjoyed himself. 🙂

Other than painting, we played musical rooms, and three boys moved rooms. Three in one and one in the other. So, boys all slept in their new rooms last night – and all rooms are KIMG1648cleaned for Pesach. Now, to just deal with all the stuff that was put outside on the landing….. I wonder how much of it I can really throw out. Not sure I can get by with all of it, but I think I must try! After getting a black garbage bag full of garbage from one room (and yes, I HAVE cleaned it out several times since last Pesach!) I need to have less stuff in that particular room. Much less stuff. Meaning, I would love to have nothing really, so anything there I know is garbage! But, realistically, maybe just a desk? It has drawers so he can put things in it. I might get by with that. Worth a try.

Somehow we still managed to get some school work done. We are about done for cleaning – mainly just the landing upstairs is left. And the last big thing is the kitchen. A few odds and ends, but that is about it. I think we are doing good. The boys cleaned out our inside freezer (we have a separate fridge and freezer in our kitchen) and it is stuffed withKIMG1650 our Pesach foods for I refuse to clean the outside freezers. Too much work for me. So, Baruch Hashem, we can manage without them. We are really excited and all enjoy the Yom Tov. The boys are looking forward to making sure we have enough makkos for the seder. We usually end up missing some of our hail every year, and occasionally some wild animals go missing. And, we are looking foward to family coming over for the last days. That is always exciting. Apparently they liked us so much last year that they wanted to come this year. Woohoo! 😀 Baruch Hashem our house is plenty big for everyone! “Boys are excited about seeing their cousins” is an understatement.

I won’t keep y’all any longer. Wishing everyone a Kosher Pesach – free from both physical and spiritual chometz, with lots of joy and happiness. We should all be free from our personal slavery, and there is still time for Moshiach to come and take us to Eretz Yisroel 🙂

A Gut Moed! Remembering Our Year

KIMG1113I hope that everyone has had wonderful Yomim Tovim so far. We are getting near the end and I don’t want to think about that for I will miss all the ruchnius feelings. I hope to gather as much as I can to tie me over until the spring, which this year, is including a leap year so that means an extra month’s wait until the next Yom Tov. We do have a few little peaks in the dark with Chanukah and Purim, which is a good thing for it would be hard otherwise.

It has been a long time since I have written up something. I thought about it before Rosh Hashanah, before Yom Kippur, and yes, before Sukkos, but, alas, it never happened. But now I have a bit of a reprieve and I can sit down while the boys are busy and not getting into too much trouble. 😉 Over the weeks I have had many things that I could write down, if I had the time, but alas, they were not meant to be written down for I can’t remember most of them.

The one thing that I do remember thinking about is our last Shabbos we spent beforeIMG_20141006_083458 starting on our journey to the new chapter of our lives. It was a bitter sweet Shabbos Yom Kippur. Motzei Yom Kippur was the Hebrew birthday of Beautiful Boy #3 and after loading our Beverly Hillbillies van all the way to the hilt (minus the rocking chair – that got thrown out in the trash – and Granny – no chair so we couldn’t take her 😉  ), we had a wonderful Good Bye lunch at the delicious Sabra’s Grill with our wonderful friends and then off we went down the road. Down, down, down south. Across the country we went, seeing the sights as we passed, watching the scenery slowly change, seeing new vegetation and observing various cultures. Three wonderful days later, I will still remember that Hashem blessed us and we got within 500 feet of our hotel before running out of gas. It was Erev Sukkos, and the English birthday of our Beautiful Boy #3.

Last year we did not have a sukkah. Last Sukkos we were in a temporary home (a hotel) – just like a sukkah. It was a very strange feeling. My Sukkos had so much more meaning to me. It has been quite a year with several temporary homes and lots of other changes, but Baruch Hashem, we finally found our home and this year we have a wonderful Sukkah. We were treated to a nice surprise when several Boy Scouts from our Troop came on Erev Yom Kippur and even though it was hot and the day before a fast, they put up our new sukkah. (Having both the Scout Master and the SPL live here helps!) So this year, we have a wonderful home with a wonderful large sukkah and as I type, we are hosting the Troop at our home and in our sukkah until tomorrow morning. This means I don’t have to make meals for 24 hours (2 breakfasts, a lunch and a supper, along with a party) and I was just handed a bowl of macaroni and cheese with a glass of cream soda.

It has been a trying year for us, but I think it was good. I am hoping for a more productive learning year for us. School schedules need to be adjusted, as they always do once I complete a week or so of learning at the beginning of the school year. In the meantime, I am trying to soak up as much as I can from this time of the year before all the Yomim Tovim are behind us and we will start up again then.

We did have a wonderful chemistry experiment that we managed to do last night. We experimented with how various ingredients work (and tasted) in chocolate chip cookies!KIMG1105 White flour vs whole wheat, butter vs oil, white sugar vs brown sugar, baking soda vs no baking soda, and even caramelized vs non (cookies were baked over 356 degrees F). Eating cookies in the sukkah and Skyping with Saba while he was at his sukkah party made for a nice evening.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Moed and hope you can soak up all the wonderful energy from the remaining days!

<3

Nachamu, Nachamu – Comfort

KIMG0964***I’m a week late in posting this – it was ready before Tisha B’Av, but I was having computer issues with inserting the pictures and then I was about to upload the pictures and come to find out it erased most of my blog. Guess it was not meant to be. Here is try 2!***

Time flies when your having fun, or just too busy to sit down and write. 😉 Between the 100 degree heat, adventures in Big Bend National Park, cooling down at the Macdonald Observatory to view the Moon, Saturn, as well as Jupiter and Venus, back to the 100 degree heat, staying cool inside, doing some cleaning and (finally) some organizing, and finding nice places to go walking in nature, I have felt constantly busy.

It has been a long time since we started our adventure to our new place with moving four times in about 4 months, unpacking an entire house in the few weeks before Pesach,KIMG0893 trying to finish up schooling, or what was called schooling for this year, and trying to figure out why things are just not settling down. It’s been about 3 months since Pesach finished, I thought we would be more than settled into a routine and start to feel “at home.” After all, when there are no boxes left in the house, it starts to “look” like it might be home, even if it does not feel like home. There really is nothing from stopping us from at least acting like we are at home. What we think should happen is often times different that what really happens. Reality was that I felt I have been treading water for the last 10 months, starting from the few weeks before we moved. I have been forgetting about appointments the last month, among other things, and we really have not been doing much schooling, so what has been going on?

No schedule. Oh, we have tried various schedules at different times over the months, and we can seem to stick with it for the most part, until the next change in our live (ie KIMG0813move) and then we go through a phase of what feels like chaos for we are not really doing school but we are busy doing needed things. Every month or two that is what has happened. After Pesach, when we finally were able to breath for a few minutes and realize that “this is it,” I tried to do schooling for a month or so to finish up the year, but I never could really get into a routine and always felt I was just treading water, never going anywhere. Yes, the boys went camping one week with Grandpa, we all went with Grandpa a few weeks later and last week I had one with the yearly-taking-of one-boy-out-with-Grandpa now. (Yes, I think Grandpa is happy we moved down here!) But still, I should be able to keep a schedule!

Then it dawned on me. What I am feeling is the lack of grounding. We are in a new place with new friends and Daddy has a new job with new hours, and there is nothing that is familiar for us (me) to hang on to when things change. Before, when our schedule would change, Daddy’s hours were fairly constant, and if his hours were crazy for a while, we had our daily school routine that was constant. There was always something to fall back on. Here, it’s been almost 10 months of all newness. However, over the last couple of weeks I think I finally figured it out.

It is summer and we can do our summer schedule, and really should do our summer schedule. Which is…basically nothing. We daven, do our chitas and are supposed to do our mishnayos and that is about it. It may not seem like a schedule, but we schedule in all2015-06-29_17-47-18 the nothingness, which when you schedule it in, it really is a schedule. It is something that we know, something that we do every summer, it is our grounding. We might be in a new city, a new house, have new friends and need to figure out Daddy’s new work schedule, but we have our familiar summer schedule. It has been such a relief and has felt like a huge load has been taken off my shoulders. I have been able to do some organizing and even gotten most of the way to organizing our new year. We have our new homeschool cabinet – the wet bar area that has been refitted with a bookcase (should not be surprising. 😉  ) I have decided on what books we will be reading this year and have purchased most of them. I have completed a first draft of the secular learning schedule (I do not feel quite comfortable with it but it is a really good start and I’ll mull it over for a few days.) I am starting to feel like I am standing on my feet on solid ground again.

Mr. Little has turned 6 and has lost his first tooth! He is so big that he planned for himself a birthday party and invited all his friends over. The only issue is that he did this all by himself without my knowledge! Baruch Hashem he did let me know on his plans the day before his birthday and so when I got phone calls from the children themselves asking if they were invited over for his birthday party, I was mentally prepared and told them that we were just having cake and they were welcome to join us in half an hour. 🙂

We just came from a very low time in the Jewish year, Tisha B’Av, the time when we 2015-06-29_17-46-47mourn our loss, not only of the Bais Hamikdash, but of the loss of our closeness to our Creator, our King, our Father. The good part is that once we are low, the only way to go is up. After all our moves and all the changes and challenges, I am finally feeling that our home is on the up as well. We have hit bottom. The elevator only goes up from here.

We just had Shabbos Nachamu, which is a special Shabbos for us personally, not just the comforting Shabbos after Tisha B’Av. (Okay, okay, DH and I got married Erev Shabbos Nachamu. 🙂  ) This year we also had dear friends surprise us and came over to spend it with us. It was so nice to visit with familiar faces. A beautiful family with a girl, and boys who were aged in between all our boys. It was a blast and also a comfort. How befitting. Nothing is coincidence. 😀 I feel refreshed and excited about our new year. I feel there are a lot of wonderful things in store for us this year. Wishing “y’all” all the best in your preparations for the coming school year!

Cheesecake, Mud, Sticks and Being Happy

KIMG0489We are almost there! Mr. Little and I have almost finished filling in our Sefiras HaOmer chart. He is very proud of himself. I think he missed one day (though I am not telling him that,) with just a couple of stickers left to put on. (I found a chart off of chinuch.org and put packing tape over it to make it stronger and put our stickers on each day.)

Over the past week I have been thinking about how nice it would be to sit down and write more on my blog. Lately, after my husband is sent off to work, I take up to an hour to do “nothing” and then exercise and shower before getting the boys out of bed. I really feel good, physically, about doing that. Mentally, it takes me the 1.5-2 hours to wipe the cobwebs away from the night, so havingKIMG0403 to get up at 5:30 am 6 or 7 days a week is really good for me (though I still do not really like doing it, it is one of those love-hate relationships.) This morning, when I was thinking how nice it would be to write a little bit to y’all, that little voice in my head turned around and said, “and so, what are you doing about that?” That little voice reminded me that thinking about something will not produce it. That, in turn, reminded me of the mann that we received in the midbar (desert); we just had to *think* about what we wanted it to taste like and it happened. Which was the reason why we had to think about the tastes we wanted on Friday before Shabbos, for for us, at that time, since our thinking created something, it was forbidden to do on Shabbos. Our thinking was our cooking and baking, both forbidden to us on Shabbos. Unfortunately, I am not on that level yet. Baruch Hashem I still have a couple more days of the omer to work on myself!

I am sitting here, trying to ponder on the last two weeks, which is another reason why I should blog more frequently again, for two weeks full of “stuff” is a long time to remember. We have been busy, and yet we have not. The “stuff” we have done you might call it KIMG0417something like “unstuff” for there was a lot of stuff not done, which was the purpose. Mr. Big was doing solely his online college classes this semester. We noticed a change in him about half way through the course. He was not as happy and outgoing as he used to be, and less energetic. Much more of an introvert. We knew the answer as to why – sitting all day on the computer and mostly by himself – but there was not much we could think of doing until his classes were finished. He was finally finished with everything last week, and I had my “plan.” I was so excited about it and talked to my husband about it for several weeks. I was pumped. And then last Monday, he was sick. Sigh. After feeling a bit depressed, I dusted myself off and continued my plan with the other boys while he slept and got better.

I came up with my plan for I am reading The Secret Garden to Mr. Little. At first he did not want me to read, but he was excited to see if Mary ever found the key and found the garden, that he let me read. Now, he tries to get me to read two chapters a night. As weKIMG0446 were reading about a sickly, lethargic, cross little girl, and how she started to transform into a real thinking, happy person, I remembered all my Charlotte Mason readings (I have not read all 6 volumes, but maybe enough to say one whole book? But, I have read the important parts and the rest is really just commentary,) and how she states that children should be outside (ideally) for 4-6 hours a day, being with nature, playing and just absorbing all the fresh air, sunshine and elements. I do try to keep that in mind, even though I don’t seem to be able to take that advice much, but I do keep trying. So, after starting to read The Secret Garden, my mind opened up.

My plan was to basically not do any school work. Mr. Big (and the rest of us, but him in particular) really needed to get back outside and playing in dirt, mud, with sticks, getting dirty, etc. We needed the sunshine to wipe all those cobwebs and dirt away to make our minds sparkle again. My biggest hurdle was knowing where to go. Being still new here, I did not know where there were any good parks nearby. I did not want the regular parks with slides and swings, I wanted a forest park. It took a few minutes of online work, but I found one that seemed like it would be near (in the suburb right next to us, so I just assumed…..) and off the rest of us went. I was relieved to find out that the GPS said it was only about 15 minutes away. It was the most amazing place for us to be. It was exactly what we were looking for and needed. There was a water fountain if needed, bathrooms, yes, a small playground set, and a few signs telling about the place. But most importantly, it had walking trails through the trees, dirt, sticks, and to our surprise, a little creek that was just perfect for boys to walk in with their shoes and pants and shirts….and get thoroughly wet. It was not raining that day, but we have had a lot of rain (15 inches in two weeks kind of rain,) and as I write, we are in the midst of another storm (it really storms here mostly, not just rain.)

So, in short, we all had fun. I did not venture into the water like they did, but I so enjoyed the sunshine, smells of nature, and just sitting there watching the boys…well…be boys. It KIMG0460was such a hit that on Tuesday, when Mr. Big did feel better, and I told the boys we were not doing school work yet again, and we were going out, there were shouts and yells and pleading about going back to the same place, which was the plan. The first day, it was mud and water, which surprised me for I thought there would be sticks as well. We did some math though and found out this math equation: Mud+Water=Shoesstuckandfallingoff. However, they did not disappoint me on day two and they found the sticks and the skipping rocks as well. Even though Mr. Big thought he was too big to play in the water and get thoroughly wet, like his brothers, he roamed, got his shoes all wet by walking in the water, and I even caught him with his hands all full of mud. Yes, deep down inside, he is still a boy, and I was so happy to see that!

Wednesday, one of the first things was, “Can we go back to the water?!?!?!?!” No, we found a different place. We didn’t have much time for it was raining on and off, and I did not want to get tired of such a fun place too quickly. As we were driving around and around and around, trying to find the entrance of the walking trail (it ended up being a biking/walking trail opposed to a nice forest park, but it went through trees and under bridges so we had fun walking,) I decided it was time to purchase rain boots and rain jackets and umbrellas.

Thursday started out with, “where are we going today, Mommy?”. It was really hot and humid and we found another park, though we had to stay on the paved trail for theKIMG0424 unpaved area, where I wanted to go, was all rained out. Only 1 boy was smart enough to bring his new rain boots, and he got to go through the little “lakes” on the grass (some were knee deep!)

My initial plan was to be somewhere for 3-4 hours, but we never stayed more than 1.5 hours, but it definitely was worth it. It did not take much, and by Sunday we saw the fruits of the (oh so hard 😉 ) labour. Mr. Big started smiling more, he looked a bit more happy than he was. Yes, just the fact that he did not have school helped, and yes, even the fact that I took him off of almost all computer time helped, but I think things moved faster with our outings. Monday morning, after he came home from shul, he told me he was helping the rabbi with the shul’s renovations and needed a tape measure and that he is going to Lowes with the rabbi to get stuff. He was in the house, talked to me, got what he wanted and was gone again in abut 45 seconds. I stood there and smiled. *THIS* is what I remembered him being like. We did not go out to forests this week, but he has spent most of his week going to Lowes with the rabbi and changing faucets and whatnot at the shul (all by himself (and he is only 14!)) He is confident, smiley, teaseable, and is interested in his amateur radio again. *happy tears*

Lesson learned: Mr. Big needs his online college classes, that is how we are getting him into university to be able to get him what he wants. We do not want him in a classroom there yet, we feel the college atmosphere is not good for him, at least not right now. But, instead of 4-5 classes at a time, we will focus on 1 class. The rest of the learning will be with me, which is what I want (and miss…) so that way he is with people most of the day.

I’m off, I need to finish getting myself ready and wake up the rest of the beautiful boys. Mr. Big is supposed to be studying for his General Class license, but he is busy playing with his radio…. need to bug him to find his book. Next time, I’ll be able to tell you all about our family project we are in the middle of!

KIMG0466Wishing everyone a wonderful Shavuos, and I’m reminded that means the giving of the cheesecake, which we already made this week (yum!) I am thinking I will wake boys up with their favorite song of the season; Stay Up All Night. And since we are just a few days away, I won’t mind them playing it many times over the next few days.

Chag Sameach!

A Freilichen Purim and a Belated Mazal Tov!

KIMG0052A Freilichen Purim everyone! I just looked and it has been well over a month since I have posted. Wow, time flies. We have been quite busy over the last 4 weeks. From (finally!) purchasing a home in our new place to celebrating a Bar Mitzvah the next week. Baruch Hashem, our Beautiful Boy #2 has now become a “Man.” 😀 We merited to have almost all our family over here that weekend. We were still in our apartment, but ate at the new house. It was so nice! 17 people. The weather was even nice. The Oldest-Sister-In-The-Family Club met before everyone started leaving. I must say, it was pretty cool to have all the Oldest Sisters there.

After that, it was teaching our boys handywork jobs. Stripping paint off of cabinets, painting walls, etc. And yes, they20150201_144137 all had a hand in actually painting the house (and really painting, not just painting pictures on the walls. :D)  It was a hard 2 weeks. We ended up getting someone to do a lot of the painting for we bit off too much. Even the hired painters are taking a while (at least 2 weeks now) to do three rooms, but it is looking nice. Last Shabbos we moved the beds into the house and finally got to “move in,” even though most of our stuff is still at the apartment.

20150201_210923Movers came on Sunday, we were so excited! But, we only got 2/3’s of our stuff. Apparently they did not have a truck big enough for our stuff – they were all stuck in snow. That is what they say. We got most of our sefarim, the guitar, paino and some of our bookcases. Among the rest of the stuff that did not come, we did not get all our bookcases, our two big exercise machines and the big organ. We were told they were going to arrive a few days later, so we spent two days working and moving things around, emptying boxes and trying to find temporary homes for things, but they never arrived. When we called, we were told they were not coming and they did not know when they would have someone available. 😐 A little frustrating and annoying, but we keep telling ourselves, and our children, we have the most important things – most of our sefarim, and our beds (though not all sefarim and not all our beds came, but we bought some of both when we moved here,) and I can start teaching again.

It had been a challenge emptying the boxes for things that are labeled “school supplies” are opened in anticipation of them being books or crayons or whatnot, and only the very top is what the box says and the rest are something else. 20150208_201053Most of my kitchen boxes are labeled, “sewing stuff.” Hmm… I don’t remember putting most of my sewing goods in my kitchen. We scrounged around and Baruch Hashem were able to find Purim costumes for boys – one boy was missing his strimel (hat) but when I picked up the box labeled “lamp shades,” I just knew it was in there before I opened the box. (And yes, there actually were two lamp shades in there.) I just needed to spend $15 on costumes for the rest of the boys and we were all set.

It is all about perspective. We have not done schoolwork in a few weeks, and I can tell we all need to get back into a routine, and we are missing some of our stuff – like screws for bed frames, bookcases, our big organ, and some of our other stuff we miss, but things really are good. It has been a good few weeks to ponder on that idea and internalize it. Baruch Hashem. We are very grateful.

KIMG0051I think I will take a quick break in between delivering the rest of the shlach manos and going to the seuda to take out Saba’s piano music which was the one thing I wanted and break in the piano at our new place. Wishing everyone a Freilichen Purim!

Good Morning, Gut Moed

IMG_20141006_083458Well, it’s the last day of Sukkos, and it sure has been quite an adventure the last couple of weeks (well, the last several weeks really,) for we have moved. Not just any move, but all the way to sunny Dallas, TX. And we didn’t just move here, we DROVE here, across the continent, all the way from just a few miles south of the Canadian border, down, down, down, southwards, just about reaching the Gulf Coast. What an adventure, what a drive! A cross country drive with the boys was something we have wanted to do for a long time, and in case I did not feel it before, I sure felt like a homeschool family on the trip. 😀 Needless to say, most boys have not done official school work in several weeks – of of the many bonuses of homeschooling. Mr. Big Boy #1 has been working on his college classes – they keep going no matter what else is going on in your life.

On Rosh Hashanah, things were feeling pretty normal except for the fact that the 20141001_200938house was upside down as we were getting ready to move (I had been trying to thin things down in the house, rooms were moved around to paint, etc. so no, it was not “normal” but as long as I was out of the house I felt things were still pretty normal. The kiddush that Shabbos was sponsored by some most wonderful friends in our honor – all whom we are missing. Then, as everyone was preparing themselves during the Aseres Yemai Teshuva (the 10 days of Repentence – the days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), I felt like I was Pesach cleaning  (oops, sorry for mentioning *the* word now,) both physically and spiritually. The movers came, packed, and then loaded (almost) all our precious (and not so precious) belongings onto a truck and drove off. They were a crew! At least they did not pack a pail of dirty diapers like the previous movers did (after I told them not to!) but they almost took our bikes that were chained up way 20141006_150809in the backyard that were chained up to make sure they did not take them. By Yom Kippur, our house went from being turned upside down, to a House of Maze, to just plain empty. It is amazing how quickly other people can pack your things for they are not emotionally attached to them in any way.

Motzei Yom Kippur the boys were helping us out until 1 am or later (oops, did not realize what time it was and we really did need all their help,) and the Mom and Dad finally went to bed at 5:30 in the morning. The alarm was set for 7:30 am. Funny enough, we woke up before the alarm. Between packing what we needed for the next several months (or at least the minimal amount of things needed,) and finishing getting the house ready for us to 20141006_153549leave, and all boys going to shul, we finally made it out at about 5:30 pm. Happy Birthday 11th YY! Baruch Hashem for a place to eat out, bought lunch and supper and a little dessert for the birthday boy and we were off! Van packed to the hilt, 4 bikes on the back of the van, one INSIDE (1 had to be taken by the movers for there was just no room,) car top carrier filled, and so were laps, and we were off! We were missing one thing – our rocking chair on top with Granny. 😉

We left 5 hours later than we hoped to have left, but it was doable since we were driving. It was a long day. We finally made it to our destination in Columbus Ohio at about 1 am. We all crawled into bed. 6 am came too fast. Monday was our long day. Google maps said it was supposed to take 10 hours. It took 14 – and we only had one 20141006_152629big stop (1.5 hours worth)! We have spent our days looking out the windows, coloring, reading, listening to Lipa (and others) and of course listening to shiurim. Technology can be really amazing. Just 10 years ago, DH complained that he could not listen to shiurim in the car for the quality was just not good. Now, we can listen to recordings from the 1970’s for the technology has come a very long way.

Tuesday was the day we were excited about. We surprised the boys by making our Monday stop in Branson, MO. Branson has been a big tourist attraction spot for many, many years. Grandpa takes one boy each year there to have fun. When they 20141007_103503realized that is where we were going to stay, they just couldn’t stay in their seats as they pointed out the hotels they had stayed in and the other attractions they had been to. (One boy even recognized the driver of the Duck , an amphibious vehicle, as we passed by it – as well as making all the duck noises.) We decided to go see one attraction and we settled upon the Titanic. Afterall, we ARE a homeschooling family and we should make everything educational. 😉 The tickets were extremely reasonable in price and the museum was amazing! They had a lot of artifacts out for show, even some things for hands on experience (a glacier simulation, ship “deck” pieces at various angles to walk up to see what it was like as the ship was sinking, etc.) Each guest was handed a ticket with a name of a passenger and you could look at the list at the end of the museum to 20141007_175638see if you survived… or not… And yes, I was conscious when I walked into the money trap and purchased the photo of our family that was taken, as well as when I purchased other souvenirs . I figured I could spend a little bit of money – afterall, this was an amazing journey and we were all having fun! I did purchase a wonderful book of facts recommended by a worker. Apparently all new employees are given that book to learn the initial facts.

Tuesday night we arrived at our new home – the Homewood Suites Hotel. For the first 5 days the 6 of us spent the time in a 1 bedroom suite before moving in the luxurious 2 bedroom suite with 2 ensuites (yeah!) Sukkos started Wednesday night. We have made this our home and even have our little “bookshelf” all set up! (Yes, a homeschool family!) 20141013_140929Wednesday was spent trying to find our way around town and getting Texas inspection for the car, tags and the toll tag, and a PO Box,  as well as going to the store to get a ready made meal for the one meal we had to make for ourselves over Yom Tov. Baruch Hashem, the community is very nice and by the time we arrived in town, we had 5 meals set up for the Yom Tov/Shabbos! The past few days have been busy as well, though we were able to get out and take a nice walk/hike at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. The weather is wonderful. It was a bit warm the first days with 95+ degree weather and we made the downpour on Friday night, but it is supposed to be about 80 through Shabbos.

20141014_133730 (1)This Sukkos does feel a bit strange for we do not have our own Sukkah, and being in a hotel, we usually opt to make food that does not need to be eaten in the Sukkah.  What is special about a sukkah? It is considered an “easy” mitzvah to do for it is a “living” mitzvah – if you want to eat, eat in the sukkah, if you want to make a phone call, make it in the sukkah, etc, easy! We make the sukkah our home. Something we need anyways, just for 7 days a year we make our home in the sukkah. But what is it about the home? The home is the security of man. Even when we are out of the house, working, travelling, etc. when we have a home, we are secure. This really hit home this year and I can really relate. God willing, next year we will be in our own home and once again will have a Sukkah.

We are meeting a lot of new people, and visiting various shuls. And, I would say, the most important thing is that we met several other religious homeschooling families! My two oldest boys are the oldest, and we are the veteran homeschoolers, but it is so nice to have a nice group to20141014_115629 (1) do things with. Now, it’s erev Yom Tov again, and this time, we are making most of our own meals (with a stove top but without an oven!) and we are going for a walk before having to make one washing load and trying to figure out what we are going to eat for the next few days.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Yom Tov!