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!

Almost Normal

KIMG0336Phew. I think that after 7 months things are almost normal. Almost. It has been a long wait to get to where we are now. 3 moves – hotel for a month, apartment (though nice and cannot complain about the layout, just could not breath, let alone walk inside before people below complained and no place to send boys out to play,) and now our new house.

My goal: Empty out boxes and put things in a real home as I unpacked so I would have a nice, organized house.
Reality: It was a race to unpack all boxes before Pesach to get rid of all the boxes and check for chometz. Most things have a “place” but not necessarily the place I want or one that is a good one.

We thought we had it all checked for chometz when, a couple of hours before Pesach, my husband and son emptied one last box and guess what? Half a loaf of bread was packed away from 7 months ago! Yum! Not. The movers were not supposed to pack perishables – they made sure I understood that. For 7 month old bread, there was not very much penicillin on it, it was just hard Melba toast like pieces. (Maybe it really was not a perishable after all?)  I 2015-04-15should have known better than to buy bread. In any case, I am back into making our own bread again. And we are back to almost a full school schedule again. I have been trying for a week now to finish this post, so I’m not quite in a nice schedule for myself, but I am trying. One of the things I am working is getting outside more myself. We have a swing set at our new house and I enjoy sitting on a swing, looking at the backyard. I never really did that in our other place and I missed out on a lot of nice flowers, etc. So now, I have made more of an effort to enjoy the outside and I have found a new favorite tree. 🙂

What is interesting is how the boys have changed over the last several months and how I feel I am almost starting over from scratch with how we are learning. I am not quite sure what is different or why, and maybe perhaps it is just the fact that we have not done regular learning for such a long time and it might just be the new environment. But, whatever the case is, it sure is good to get back into a schedule. Two weeks ago I was ready, except for the fact that I did not have a schedule, and voila! I pulled out of a pile an old schedule I made for one boy at the beginning of the school year. I am not following the times, but it was nice to see what we were supposed to be learning this year. Unfortunately (or maybe really fortunately for me), being 3/4 of the way through the year, we were still on the same books we started the year off with which made it easy to continue on. We have finished some of the books over the months and now the goal is to finish the rest of what we are doing over the next week. I have put together a 1 month schedule for next month of a few of the books I really want the boys to read through this year.

I have decided to choose 6 books (including math), with 2 of them being done each day and doing 4 of them twice per week. I think we can get most of it done. The trick is working in Mr. Little. He has all of a sudden decided he KIMG0328*NEEDS* to learn. I told the boys there would be no computer for math for the week. They did not like that. I like it though. I am not minding printing things off, at least right now. It is a nice change of pace. In any case, I think the boys are doing more while not being on the computer. The boys have done math online with Khan Academy for a few years now and they now have early math online so Mr. Little has been going through that. This week I have decided to take a break from the computer and went to Dad’s Worksheets Online and http://www.mathworksheets4kids.com (because they both have answer keys!) and printed off various sheets there, some new stuff, though mostly review. Mr. Little insisted I print off stuff for him. So, I found a nice worksheet for him. He was so excited he made me print off 3 more pages. Daddy got to correct his worksheets before supper. 🙂

Results:

Day 1: One beautiful boy is trying to find his independence right now, and even though he tantrumed the first time he had to do the worksheets, I made him sit beside me and we did them together. It took us a while, but we got them done.

Day 2: came, and even though he still did not like the paper sheets, after a while, he actually asked for my help and sat beside me to do them. Half way through the page he was confident enough in himself and so I let him finish the rest on his own while I pulled his brother over and helped him with the same work. Said boy was excited when he got the right answer to a question his brother needed to go over (which is a VERY good thing for said boy.) It was then a race to see who could finish the pages first.

Day 3: They still did not like the fact I had paper sheets, but they sat down (or laid down, whichever they preferred)KIMG0332 on the couch and raced. I found out that I really like working on math with each boy. I have not told them yet, but I think that next week we still might do paper sheets. I enjoy stumbling upon new ways for me to do math. I am a math person, but give me a question to do fast, I falter. Tell me I have 5 minutes, I relax and can do the question quickly. I am learning new multiplication techniques (stumbling on new techniques really,) and enjoy teaching them over. Said boy who does not like math has picked them up really fast. I think we are both realizing how non-overwhelming it can really be and it is almost fun. I try really hard to sit still while he thinks – half out loud and half quietly, letting him take his time. It is hard when he comes up with numbers in the middle, which to me seem wrong, but in the end he gets the right answers. He is just not verbalizing all his thoughts. He has figured out how to do some math problems his own way and I have to remember to sit still and let him be. It is a correct way, just not the way I would do it.

KIMG0331
Where’s Waldo? Oops, I mean find three boys. 🙂

We took some time off yesterday (Sunday) and went to a nice park that we went to in the Fall. We sat on an old fallen down tree and had a little picnic. The boys enjoyed the woods and the nice honey smells and then afterwards they all went on a 10 mile bike ride with the Scouts as part of the cycling merit badge. It is an optional activity but all the boys in the Troop want to do it. Our new life consists of many different and new things, along with new friends and new places. It takes a while to get used to all the new things, but things are slowly becoming familiar. The nice thing about time passing and things moving on is that there are ample opportunities to have a fresh start. This year has definitely been a challenge for everyone in all aspects, but the school year is almost finished and summer will be upon us very soon. That gives me a little time to get myself into a nice routine and make one for the next school year (and maybe write more often!)

Wishing everyone a beautiful week!

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!

Still Here!

20150106161823It has been a while, but I am still swimming over here and very thankful. Nothing is wrong here, Baruch Hashem, just really busy and preoccupied with life. It has been a mentally strenuous several weeks, and I think we are almost there with the first step. 3 weeks ago we found a house! Woohoo! That is such good news for that means I can let boys go outside and do things, and they can do things inside, such as jumping jacks, or somersaults, etc. It has been a little difficult for we are on the second floor of the complex. We hear how it sounds when people walk – the neighbours upstairs are really good, but even when they just walk, the sound is magnified so much, it sounds like they stomp at every step. I can just imagine how it sounds for the neighbours downstairs when there are 6 of us just walking. Never mind if a beautiful boy accidentally gets off the couch a little to fast and the steps are a bit harder than usual, or, chas v’shalom, something drops!

There is no place here for children to play outside – except on the computers or at the TV down at the office, which is20150119_114142 just too tempting. So, my boys are inside most of the time. 🙁 Don’t get me wrong – I am SO thankful that we have this place. It really is nice and laid out beautifully. The kitchen is huge and I could not have asked for a better kitchen, even in a house! It is just that I am looking forward to letting boys be a little bit more like boys again. They really need it (and so do I.) It has been a roller coaster of a ride trying to get this house and our realtor says we can now write a book on the process so we can help others. Hmm… my next book? 🙂 Though, in less than 2 short days we are hoping to sign and be almost there, with just the painting left to do before we officially move in.

It has been almost 4 months since we have moved here and I feel it has taken way to long to settle down into a 20150120_102249routine. Though, looking back, I think my goals were unreasonable. They say that after having a baby, give it a whole year to get your homeschooling back on track. Well, if just adding one more member to the family can do that, imagine what putting all your things in storage for an unidentifiable amount of time, piling everyone and everything you absolutely need to “survive” until that unidentifiable amount of time decides to end, drive across the continent, setting up shop in a brand new place with new people, new places to live, new cultures, new schedules, new everything, and then saying, “Ok, now be normal and go back to how things were before.” Sorry, you can’t do it – the “laws of physics” won’t allow for that. Now, you can hope for a nais (miracle) for the “laws of physics” to change for you, but I don’t think that is what we are supposed to do. I finally sat down a few weeks ago and was able to make a schedule of some sort with most of our learning on it. Whatever is on the schedule seems to usually happen. It is just the stuff that did not have a spot, or that I forgot to add and therefore are still not there that get missed, but we will, G-d willing, work on that. I am coming to the thought that maybe, just maybe we really are doing okay and the fact that it has been less than 4 months and I feel we actually have a fairly good routine (albeit not the best, but at least it is a routine,) that I should be fairly happy.

The boys are doing really good. We have our days, but it seems like the occurrence of those days is less frequent and20141229_171328 even when they happen, they are not as severe. The oldest has a full schedule with his college courses, and so I am not too involved with his learning now (*tears*), but I am still there helping him learn to organize when he does things. Trying to teach him to do a little of everything each day, rather than taking a whole day for one subject. One does not learn best that way. We are still working on that, but then it has only been 2 weeks since he has started, but I think we are getting there really fast. I realized during the first week of his classes that even though he does the work on his own, I really am still very involved in guidance. Every day. Multiple times a day. I am so grateful for that! He came home about a month ago and announced he was going to the Rabbi’s Gemara shiur every night before Maariv. He did not ask, he told me. Well, I can’t complain too much, he enjoys it, he is learning, he is keeping himself out of trouble, oh, and he can get there and back by himself. What more could a mother want?

I think the biggest and hardest change is the change in friends. It is hard to leave friends and then it can be harder to make new ones, especially if when making new friends you feel you have none to begin with (because you left them all behind.) Number 2 had it the hardest. He loves his friends and had a very hard time not only not having them but understanding that he can go make new ones and have double the friends. I think he is getting there. He met a new boy who moved to town just a few weeks before us who is also homeschooled. They have hit it off really well and he seems a lot happier now. Number 3 is my laid-back-go-with-the-flow kind of boy and really has settled down quickly and loves playing with their new found homeschool friend as well. Number 4 is getting there. He loves playing with his brothers (especially with the K’nex they just got!) and has always thought of them as his best friends. He is finding it a little hard when they all go out – learning, biking, etc. and he cannot go with them.  He is slowly getting bigger now and now goes to shul on Friday night and Shabbos morning with the rest of the boys, and lucked out and was able to learn on Motzei Shabbos with all the Dads and sons at shul (so he could get pizza and prizes as well.)

We are going to closing in less than 2 days, which could not have come at a better time for next Wednesday is Tu B’Shevat, which means my little Number 2, who was born the smallest and who is the tallest of the 4 right now is going to be Bar Mitzvah! Where did the time go? To celebrate,  we have lots of family coming over, and just last night the number doubled and more are coming! Wonder if I can keep the last group a secret until then? 😀

To add to the excitement, when people here found out that DH was a scoutmaster, we had many people BEG us to start a Jewish Boy Scout Troop here! So, what could we do since we have 3 boys we want in scouts who need to be in a Troop than to start one. It is official, we have adults and boys (and more joining) and are hoping to have our first meeting very shortly. We are in the middle of planning the first couple of meetings.

For me, it has been interesting getting up at 5:30 am, 7 days a week. I am definitely not a morning person, but I have found that it really gives me some “me” time. After getting DH off to work, and one boy to shul, I have a few minutes to veg out, exercise, shower and do some learning before I wake everyone else up. That was one thing that I was wanting in Rochester. I had a hard time starting our morning when we should have for I wanted to have my “me” time before the boys got up. Well, now I have it and it feels good to be accomplished so early! It helps make the rest of the day better.

Until next time, have a most wonderful week!

Step By Step We Will Get There

20141119_131326
Our new couch

Shavua Tov! It’s Sunday morning. I have 5 at shul for davening and learning and one little one still in bed sleeping. I wonder how long he will be able to sleep. 7 weeks ago today we started on our journey. Wow, it is still hard to believe it’s been that long already. We are still not quite on a real schedule. I did not plan on it taking this long to get back into things.

20141112_080517 (1)
His box bed.

Spending 4 weeks in a hotel did not help too much. I am so grateful for being able to be there, don’t get me wrong, but it was not the most conducive place to teach 4 boys. We did have a basketball court outside, and an outside pool that they did utilize many days, but the big issue was that there was a TV in each room, a TV in the living room, and if I tried sending them out to stretch their legs, often times they would get magnetically pulled into the hotel lobby…where there was a nice huge flat screen TV that was always on, even in the middle of the night. We could not really have a nice Shabbos meal in the hotel room for the table only had 2 chairs, so we usually ended up in the lobby’s breakfast area with the tables, with half of us facing the TV and the other half with their backs turned to watch. It sucked all of us in. The first Shabbos we were in the apartment, I went around the table and asked everyone what they were thankful for. The surprise answer I got was from the boy who was the worst at being glued to the TV answered, “I’m thankful that there is no TV.”

20141112_115653 (1)
Making the new bed

All of us are finally on a bed. For the first week one boy had an air mattress while the little one insisted he wanted the boxes that held the covers to our incoming Lovesac sactionals (think of Lego couches – you have two pieces – sides and bases – and you clip them together any way you want to make a couch, loveseat, chair, bed, use a single base as ottoman, etc. and you can change the layout any time you want.) The nice thing is that you order whatever coverings you want. We got the coverings delivered about a week before the actual pieces came, leaving a 5 year old with a “bed.” Not sure how he was able to sleep on it for that long, I did suggest him sleep with a brother in the mean time, but he refused and insisted! He moved all the boxes himself and made his own bed all by himself.

20141113_080314
New bed

This move has definitely been the hardest move our family has made. You would think that since we had movers come and pack the entire house and load and move it all, our stress would be limited! However, I think the reason it is the hardest move yet is because we are left with an unknown. We are not able to access any of the stuff that was on the moving truck for it is in storage in Alabama. We are in Texas. And, we are not able to have it delivered unless we want all of it delivered, and it won’t all fit in the apartment. So, we were stuck with taking what would fit in our van (including all of us!) and the few boxes that we shipped to the hotel. For a few weeks, or even a month, that would not be too bad, however, we are unsure how long it will be before we find a house. a month from now, 2, 5, a year? People offered to lend us items but I do not want to borrow for an indefinite length of time. S0, we find ourselves buying things that we need, even though we already own the items (folding chairs, tables, dishes, cups, some clothing, beds, blankets, havdallah candle, sefarim, etc.)

However, I think we are about there. I have tried to have some learning for the boys over the last 5 weeks, and the last two weeks have come close to what we need to be doing. It just takes time, and that is something that I cannot rush and for the first time in 2 months our home smelled like Shabbos. 🙂

Tea Time!
Tea Time!

I have not created a schedule yet, I have just mentally tallied what items needed to get done each day and tried to fit them in the best way I could. For the most part we got things done.  We are all still trying to adjust. One boy is having problems sleeping and one day he refused to get up. Instead of getting mad and threatening to put ice on his back (which I have threatened to do, but not actually done,) I let him sleep. It definitely was not worth the hardship of having him up and acting up because he was exhausted. 1:30 he finally woke up – but his attitude was very acceptable. The little one has not gotten enough sleep as well. He has a hard time going to bed when his brothers are up. I don’t blame him – I wouldn’t want to miss anything either! I laid down with him on Shabbos so he would have a nap. 3 hours later he woke up. He was up for 1.5 hours and then very surprisingly went to sleep again. It’s after 9am and he is still sleeping. I think he was tired. I am hoping that this will help his behaviour as well now. I think he is also a little bored for all he can find to do is play with Legos and make paper airplanes. (My other suggestions are not liked very much….)

20141121_122857
Airplanes – big and small

My conclusion: Moving is hard! Even when things are done for you, the bottom line is that it is still hard and no one can tell you otherwise. The good news is that like everything else, there is something you can rely upon to keep you going. Time. Time helps everything. 7 weeks later and I think we are almost there (until we find a house of our own! But I do not think things are going to take this long to settle down afterwards.) G-d willing, I will be able to make a schedule to try out this week. I have one more thing to add to it than what we have been doing. I had a pretty “lazy” week this past week and now I am ready to get rolling into something better, however, being it is Thanksgiving this week, I am not sure how much of a schedule we will be able to do 😉 But that too is part of the schedule, we go visit family each Thanksgiving, so this is a good thing.

I see movement from under the blanket so it is now time to get going and hug up a cuddly boy. Wishing everyone a wonderful week and for those who celebrate, a good Thanksgiving!

Day Two

20141020_135123I am calling this blog Day Two for Day Two was SOOOOOOO much better than Day One. We still have not plunged into a real routine but the movers have our schedule and I have not had time to really put a good one together yet. Three weeks off of school with painting, packing, throwing out, moving, Yomim Tovim, etc. really prevent boys from wanting to go back to school. Had to get up at 5:30 am (after spending until almost 1 am trying to wash and dry clothes – kept missing the opportunity to use the hotel’s washers and dryers and brought back wet clothes for I was too tired to put more coins in and wait longer,) to get Daddy off to work. This is going to be hard to get used too. He has to be there at 7:30 in the morning and he doesn’t have a 7-9 minute commute anymore, it’s an hour. Boys got up and dressed and shipped to the eating area for our free breakfast (well, we do pay for it in the cost of the hotel, but we won’t go there, “free” sounds nicer,) and finally got them davening while I snagged the washer and dryer again, and finally got some kodesh learning printed off and got started.

My mistake was that I thought I was doing well. You see, I finally get everyone settled and doing a second set of work. Mr. #1 was in one bedroom doing one thing, one boy was playing with Legos and two boys were sitting with me ready to learn. Ah, I had it all made! And then I made the mistake. I remembered that someone else was using the washer after me and I hogged both dryers and needed to get my stuff out. Anything I did at this point would have produced the same effect. I was lazy and sent two boys to quickly grab our clothes from the dryer and come back. I neglected to define the word, or perhaps the whole sentence. One boy came back crying and sat down beside me. We waited. And waited. And waited. I had said boy sit down and I was going to start the class without the other boy, but then I got to thinking that I did not want to have to repeat the learning. I sent the boy back to find his brother and the missing clothes. And waited.

Finally! Both boys returned. Minus the clothes. 😐 Turned them around and they finally brought back the items. Phew. Not sure how long that 20141020_134924took but I think it was about 10 ish by the time we started our learning. The learning went not too bad. It happens to be my favorite lesson in the entire book (Madame How and Lady Why.) I then sent them to go and do some team reading for another lesson. Mistake number two. About half way through the reading I find out one boy went ahead and read almost all of the book for he was “waiting for his brother” (their famous phrase). Sigh. I’ll just say they were not getting along too well at that time. I ended up sitting them both on the couch and telling them to be quiet while I made lunch. That seemed to do the trick and I sent them back to read. The rest of the day was a bit better. Though Daddy is gone an awfully long time now, with the much longer treck both directions and them working him harder as well. That is hard on the boys too.

Today is going much better though. One good thing about having “free” breakfasts is that there is a time limit. Breakfast is over at 9 am during the week. This is a great insensitive to get boys out of bed on time. I might tell them that breakfast is closed passed a certain time but they can go sneak some food in between lessons. Here, the food is all put away and locked in the kitchen and not even I have the key! Did have to threaten to drag one boy out of bed (he sooooo does not like that) but they got up, dressed, ate and were back in the room ON TIME! I felt pretty good.

All in all, the boys were pretty good today. I have made a deal with one boy; I will buy him a (Jewish) song of his choice for every 7 days of good behaviour (does not have to be consecutive.) I don’t always have cash, but $0.99 on the credit card I can do. This song will belong to him to play. The catch: No tantrums, respectful speech to both of his parents, talking nice to brothers, etc. He is very motivated. He has had mainly good days, a few dips but all in all is doing so much better. He keeps talking about getting to that 7th day. 🙂

20141020_124049Boys sat well this morning when I gave them just a little bit of writing work to do and the little one was davening and learning with me while the cleaning staff cleaned our room (a HUGE bonus of being stuck in a hotel!) Unfortunately, today she forgot to mop the so little, tiny bit of kitchen flooring – there was something sticky that fell on it earlier this morning.  We got math done this afternoon, after a picnic outside in the pool area (love being able to picnic!) and now, 3/4 boys are swimming outside (gym time), leaving me to have some awkward quiet time with seemingly nothing to do (though I am sure there really is, I just can’t think of much right now.) Need to check on the other 1/4 and figure out why his reading is taking so long (I’m sure he made his way from the loby where he was reading to the business area with the computers,) and then get supper going. It is so nice to be able to do some mostly real cooking on the two burners stove (do not have an oven.) That really helps a lot. Our stomachs are happier as well.

As things are slowly falling into place, and we are slowly doing things (unless forced to do it quickly) one does when one moves (changing addresses, new tags on cars, dealing with new health insurance, etc.) we are slowly trying to get used to the new culture (though the climate is not hard to get used to) and I think things will be well. It was a nice surprise when my oldest came in with our missing USPS box full of gemaras, mishanyos and all the other school books we were missing! Being Parshas Noach, a friend told me, “Bo el haTeva. Here comes the box!” Nothing is coincidence, and it is so “of course!” We had one slightly bent gemara (for it was very, very skinny,) missing a really tiny hebrew reading book, but did acquire a strange, unknown magazine and a pair of socks. For boys. And the right size for one of them to boot.

So, yes, today is going much better. Now to get out of my hermit state and off to be a parent again and find my 4 belongings. 🙂

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!

Shanah Tovah!

20140914_123107Wow, it’s that time again. I’ve barely had time to breath the last month that it is hard to internalize that in less than 24 hours it will be a new year again. Fresh starts are great. I didn’t think I really had a fresh start at the beginning of the school year this time for I did not feel ready. I did not seem to have the time to organize and clean. But Hashem has blessed us with a fresh start now – not just in the new year, but in a new place. We are moving. Across the country. All the way to Dallas! So, we have not been doing much learning, as you can imagine, and things have been quite stressful, but we are all excited about the move.

DH and I went for a house hunting trip the last two days. It was quite an adventure and we learned that in Dallas you have to water your houses. My boys looked at me funny and started laughing. 🙂 Yes, that is right, you have to make sure you water your house (the foundation really) once or twice a week depending on the season or your foundation will crack and your house will shift. We are always learning new things!

My oldest is doing his college courses still and as long as he is doing them, he is off the hook for any cleaning or repairs that are needing to be done on our house to get it ready to sell. Boy, this is not an easy task.  Painting, throwing out, painting, putting away and painting. I was woken up at 1 am last week one night and could not go back to sleep and then had only 5-6 hours of sleep most other nights, and the trip did not help much that I went back to bed at 6:40 this morning after sending DH out to work and I didn’t wake up until 10. I think I was tired. We had been doing some of our limudei kodesh until last week when things got quite hectic. Ouch. I need to remember to get back into it tomorrow morning – if nothing else, it is Erev Rosh Hashanah.

But I believe this is good for us. We will miss all our friends here and will miss the quiet atmosphere, and yes, we will miss some of the snow (only some!) but it is time to move on. We all had our last night at scouts – me as the Cub leader, DH as the Scoutmaster, Mr. Big as the Senior Patrol Leader (the scout who leads the troop,) and the other boys as active members. It was very hard to go. However, there are many positives to look forward to. We are looking forward to having other Jewish religious homeschoolers around. I hear there are at least 6 or 7 others in the area. That will be something new for us! It is a good time of year. It is the New Year. A change in location means a change in mazal (“luck”) and what better time than at the beginning of the year when the Creator is ready to plan for the next year.

It has not been an easy decision. The hour long commute (opposed to an 8 minute drive) was a big factor, and leaving a quiet place and all the 20140918_200127-SMILEwonderful people is going to be hard. It took a lot of talking, along with davening (praying), emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem to help guide us along the right path. We want to go along the best path for us, no matter what we personally might think. We do not know what really is best, only He knows. We have found that when we want to do something for the right reason, it will usually be easy to make the right decision. No need to worry or second guess. And when we sometimes find ourselves second guessing, we restrengthen our emunah and we are shown again that we did right. We have talked about this with our boys, but they are still little (yes, even the 13 year old college boy,) and it is hard. Though with our constant talking, hopefully in the not so distant future they will start to understand what we are able to see now.

Everyone is excited, and the movers are most likely coming next week. We are hoping to drive all the way down the country, though not stopping to see much for we are racing time between Yom Kippur and Sukkos!

I am going to sign off here, but before I do, I just want to wish everyone a Kesiva V’Chasima Tovah – may you all be written in the books of Health, Wealth, Success and Happiness. We can always want to start fresh at any time of the year, but this is the time where it is the easiest time to accomplish it and with just a little bit of determination and lots of praying may Hashem grant you all a nice fresh start and a wonderful Yom Tov!

Talk to you next year!