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. 🙂

 

Phew!

20130908_203152I hope everyone had a wonderful Rosh Hashanah. It was beautiful over here; not too hot, not too cold, and we even ate outside for one of the meals. If the holidays have crept up on you making it difficult to finish planning some of your teaching, or if you just are unsure of what or how to teach the Judaics, Rabbi Resnick is having a free classes week in Room613. Feel free to pop on in by going here. His new 2013-14 schedule can be found here.

Having a fast day the day before school starts was a challenge – especially since DH wanted us to go sell popcorn as well. Before yesterday, the boys did manage to sell $1000 in just 3 days by going just door-to-door! That definitely was a record for us. The new training we had for selling popcorn has sure helped so far. I have even set up several days in the next month were we are going to be selling at a table. I am hoping the new training will help us sell more there as well.  After all, we are getting over $4000 worth of popcorn this Friday. Anybody hungry? We even accept credit cards this year. (Don’t be shy, there is plenty for everyone!) 🙂

Yesterday I was running around in a panic – I made my schedule for the boys last week. Even with an added boy to the list, I was still able to get it all on 2 pages. The problem was that I was missing one of the pages – and it happened to be the one I needed for the first day of school. It did not help that there seems to be papers that have decided to procreate, making the kitchen look quite hideous. It is amazing how that happens. Baruch Hashem I found it before I felt I should try to make a new schedule. It took several hours to create the first one. As it was, I did have to recreate an evening schedule, however that was not terrible. The boys ended their day with a green smoothie and Ryvita crackers for supper along with green back-to-school cupcakes for dessert. Thought that would be a great way to start the year off. I even went through the schedule with all 4 boys separately before they went to bed so they would know exactly what to expect from the new year.

The morning started off on the right note. Five out of six of us were up, dressed and ate at the same time. Just the little one was in bed, but he did not have to start at the same time as his older brothers. The boys even got to daven with their father instead of davening with me. Breakfast jobs were done on time. I was feeling great. Everything was going as it should. And then I made *the* mistake. Yes, the one that threw the ENTIRE day off.

I DID NOT CONSULT THE SCHEDULE! 😐 Yes, the same one who said that even after a full year of doing the same thing every week she knows how it is so important to still have a physical schedule to help keep everything going like it should, did not even look at the schedule this morning. The morning of the20130909_214809 first day of school. I was so cool that I knew what everyone was supposed to do….. until 8:15 in the morning. How did this happen? I am not sure. I must have been a bit over confident that I knew what was going on until around 11 am that I did not even bother to look. That may not seem like the end of the world, and I would have thought that a small mistake would have been just a little ‘oops’, but that little ‘oops’ affected our entire day. What happened was that I thought that since the boys davened earlier with their father than was listed on the schedule, we had extra time to catch up on some mishnayos that the boys got a bit behind in because of the Yomim Tovim. That would not have been the end of the world if it were not for the fact that we totally skipped out on one of the subjects for each of the boys and I did not realize it until about lunch time.

One boy did not consult the schedule very closely either for he ended up missing a second subject. We did catch up one subject, but it was too much for me to fit in the second one, even at night. Between getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah in a few short months (oh my, where DID the time go?), working on his SAT vocabulary and SAT math (aka algebra) for the SAT he is going to, IY”H, take in January, and the extra subjects he is taking because of his grade (and selling popcorn), we are sure keeping him busy and out of most of the trouble.

That is not mentioning the one boy that was not feeling up to par today with a headache and had to lay down a few times, missing some classes, a boy who tried being a challenge. I think the mild headache I had all day until supper time was due to the amazingly, crazy first day. On another note, I did have ONE boy who got all his work done, even did his organ practising. Must have been the extra morning sleep. Baruch Hashem, there is always the good, just sometimes it is harder to find. The nice thing is that it is always there; if you look, you WILL find it. 🙂

As I am typing, I sit here feeling almost bored. The good is that as soon as I pick my eyes up from the computer screen I am reminded that I am really not bored. I have dishes to clean, tables to empty, the rest of the papers to put away. And that does not include the laundry that is so patiently waiting for me (and most probably procreating as I type.) No, I do not have to worry, I am not bored. I just wonder how long I can keep my eyes on the computer screen…

20130908_175018Sweet dreams and I really should get a little more friendly with my dishes. Tomorrow is another day, and that means the potential for a great day (and humbly remembering to look at the schedule!)

We’re All Back!

20130718_113432

Firstly, I just want to start off by mentioning a correction to the previous post. Room613.net is also geared towards teenagers, it was just my impression that it was not (not sure how I came to that impression.) That said, we are still continuing on with our Judaics for the coming year that we have mapped out. Secondly, when you start tea time, expect to continue the tradition. 🙂 Cucumbers, watermelon and small bite sized pieces of brownies are all good, along with tea (or hot lemon water in our case.) 🙂 We have not been able to do it the last two weeks, but today boys were complaining, “We did not have tea time today!”

The last two weeks have been almost entirely away from home. We went to the same cabin on the 350+ acres that we went to last year. Other than the 90+ degree weather with no A/C, it was pretty good, but I do not think we will be going there next year20130719_142349. (And the best thing to do on a really hot Tisha B’Av with no A/C is to drive in the car that has AC all the way back home for an hour to drop off camp stuff!) If nothing else, I found out today, after I had to take my van into the shop to get fixed, that the porcupines that live by the cabin not only eat away at the balcony and the support beams underneath it, they like to eat away at wires under cars… The mechanic asked if I keep my car in the garage, no, outside. In the back? No, in the front. Apparently, rodents like to chew on wires under vehicles, but not usually when the vehicle is kept outside, in the front, on the driveway. I asked about porcupines; we not only heard them on the porch, but actually saw one underneath eating away at the support beams. Yes, porcupines + vehicles in fields = lots of damage and money to fix the damage. He could not give me even a rough estimate when he called for he was not finished taking everything apart to see the entire damage. He will be putting some cover over my wires to help prevent this from happening again. Since we only have one vehicle, I am carless for a while. The bonus to all of this is that we get to walk to the store or any other place we need to go and that means good exercise for all of us! There is a silver lining in everything. 😉

The first Shabbos at the cabin was rather quiet – just one little boy to entertain. Sunday morning we all got up to drive 4 hours to fetch the really missed 20130718_114244brothers from camp. It was good to have everyone back home. I really missed them. I think the lone brother missed them the most. It is not easy to want to play with someone and only Mommy is around and Mommy sometimes cannot play. Boy, it sure is good to have brothers!

Aside from that, the train, Corning Museum of Glass, blueberry picking and horseback riding were some of the main activities with horseback riding coming in tops for everyone (and blueberry picking a close second)! The youngest was too small to ride a regular horse so he got to have a pony ride around the farm. He then was lucky enough to be able to brush down and wash the pony. Both the pony and the little boy really enjoyed it. Oh, and I cannot forget about the birthday party #2 – afterall, it is not everyday that Grandpa comes down to visit! He was one lucky boy – a visit with Saba one day, and Grandpa the next, two birthday parties (and presents to match from each grandfather), and not to mention that this weekend there will, IY”H, be a THIRD party (for the same boy) for he was insistent that his friend comes over for a party, and since neither of the previous parties were at home, I promised him we will have one with his friend. Baruch Hashem my boys are very happy with simple things – a simple cake and a card and a small present is all that is needed to make someone happy, oh, and the occasional friend.

The Corning Museum of Glass was very interesting to go see. We have not been there before. The first section with glass art was not my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed going into the history section. They had the history of glass making, from the early times until the present, with all sorts of interesting facts and artifacts. We even got to see some glass making demonstrations such as the hot glass show and the flameworking.

Well, we got to pick up our sefarim yesterday! 3 sets of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (English and Hebrew.) I spent several hours on Monday trying to clean out a small book case that we had, figuring it had 3 shelves and each set would fit on 2. I would just need to get one more book20130717_161519 case. I was almost correct. Yes, each set fits on 2 shelves, however, the bottom shelf is too short to put any books on. Never fear, I have ideas! In the meantime, the living room is a mess. Boys have taken all the books out of the boxes and have been labeling all of their 93 books. Wow. I did not realize how many books we really were getting until just now. I was just of thinking it as 31*3 and those in themselves are not that big, but to do the actual math problem, wow, multiplication is powerful! We were good and even started our learning today! One video from Rabbi Gordon from Chabad.org was listened too.

I cannot forget that we finally brought the organ inside! It was not as hard as I thought it would be. We used our Radio wagon, put some plywood on top, and used two 2×4’s and slid them under the organ with the other end of the boards on the wagon to make a ramp. We then pushed the organ up the ramp. We all held on while one boy very, VERY carefully and slowly pulled the wagon all away around from the garage to the front door. The tricky part came when we had to transfer the organ from the wagon up the 2 steps into the house. With some creative thinking and cooperation, we got it into the house. Since it is mine, only I was allowed to clean it all up. Boys wanted to help but I refused. I told them to vacuum the carpet. 😉 Everyone anxiously awaited the moment when they could touch and then play the new instrument. I have not played the organ in almost 17 years – it is amazing how even though I play the piano a little here and there, my organ playing is terrible! It was hard reading all those staves again! I had to go way, way back to the really early days and the very easy music to get back in the swing of reading everything again. “Mommy, how can your feet play all the right notes and you are not even looking?” I smiled and proudly told my son, “I started on the organ!” That was one thing I was pleasantly surprised about; my feet still knew where to go after all these years. They were even more surprised to find out that their Dad used to play the organ as well.

I have also spent the last two days finding the books I need for my oldest. With Ambleside Online, almost everything is non-consumable, so since I have books from my oldest, the younger children have their books as well. Finally, I put all the books in the Amazon shopping card, as well as two printer inks, and 20130723_160843pressed the order button. Among the books ordered were organ books (it is not easy to find beginning organ books now!). All four boys are so excited and want me to give them organ lessons. I told them I do not have time to teach them both the piano AND the organ. 4 for the organ it is. Though they are not happy that I am not teaching them yet. I appeased them when they saw I was ordering music books first. Unfortunately, unlike the electronic piano that I have, you cannot put headphones into the organ! At least there is the volume control, it helps. A little. 😉

Anyways, I am saying sweet dreams to everyone and I am off to bed to dream about the fact that I am now officially also an organ teacher. 🙂

My Vacation

20130707_081408I have been so excited for this week to come! It is one week in the entire year that I have for me; the older boys are off at camp and I get this week to myself! And then on Shabbos it hit me. My almost 4 year old will be home with just me. Me and no brothers to keep him busy. Just me. He has been so looking forward to Mommy time. Don’t get me wrong, that is a very nice thing except that I realized that Mommy time is going to take up his entire waking hours. You see, with 3 older brothers who are home all day, who needs to learn to play by himself? Ok, so I do not have much of just me time and I can’t go out for a walk or a bike ride by myself for no one is there to look after a 3 year old and I can’t go out to the store to get the things we need when we are out when he is sleeping, but yeah, there are still lots of wonderful things about having just the one boy around.

The older boys left yesterday morning to go to scout camp. Daddy took them. I was supposed to go along except a little 3 year old was sick and throwing up20130707_151518. This put a crink into the day if only because of one thing – my boys do not get sick! Baruch Hashem, and let it stay that way. A loving Daddy bought some ginger ale before leaving for with our only vehicle gone and with a sick boy, it does not make for a day to be able to even walk to the neighborhood 7-11 to get some. We made it. After a nice needed nap he was allowed to do what sick boys get to do to keep them occupied so they can rest in bed and not be as antsy – nice educational videos. Baruch Hashem he feels good as new today. He is even learning to sleep in a big room all by himself.

Someone told me to take this time and do something for myself, so I heeded that advice. I started cleaning the house. It is amazing how much I can get done when I am doing all the work – and how clean things actually get! Living room and library were both cleaned to my satisfaction, swept and mopped, except for 1 pile of papers in each room. Not bad. Today was the garage and the cleaning of the kitchen cabinet doors. Oh, and I stumbled upon an amazing thing today – when the boys are not home it is great to clean for I can actually not only leave the room for a moment and expect it to stay the way I left it, I can even go to sleep for several hours and it will still stay the same! It feels pretty good to be able to have a few moments when the house will stay the way I want it.

Today we cleaned the garage in anticipation of our new instrument! I finally got an organ! Bonus – it was free and so was the transportation to my garage where it is now being stored until the bigger boys come home to help me move it into the house. My husband is so excited about it, almost as much as I am. He says I need to find a place for it. I tell him, it will fit in the house and that I have ideas. I have a few weeks until I need to have the answer.

20130708_125931This last week or so my husband and I have been trying to figure out what we should do next year for Judaics. We have spent the last 4 years with Room613.net and it has worked out really well. However, we decided our oldest, who is going to be bar mitzvah in a few short months (how did that happen?) was ready to move on. My husband and I are ones who do not mind thinking outside the box. Hey, the fact that we have been homeschooling for 8 years now proves it! What started out as an exercise in trying to figure out Judaics for one boy, ended up with something for all boys – that’s one bonus in having children close in age. (The other is being able to send them all to the same camp at the same time!) We have spent the last week mulling it over in our minds, bouncing it off the minds of different individuals to get thoughts and reactions and have finally decided we are going to do it. The boys are going to do Rambam’s Mishneh Torah next year. We chose that for it encompasses all aspects of our lives. We do not necessarily follow all that the Rambam says, but he does cover everything from each of the 613 mitzvos to davening, shmita year, maaser and other topics that do not necessarily apply to us today, but we should know about them.

Now, this seems fine until I mention that we are not going to do the 3 year cycle where you do one chapter a day for 3 years before completing – there are 31 sefarim in the set. No, we are doing the 1 year cycle – doing 3 chapters a day and finishing it off in about a year. Yes, I know exactly what that entails and what we are getting ourselves into. Each chapter is going to take, on average, 35-45 minutes to do. And yes, everyone that we have mentioned it to has looked at us as if we were crazy. However, since that is basically all they are going to do for Judaics, it should be more than reasonable. Children in schools spend the entire morning on Judaics, and so are we. Of course the boys are also going to do parsha/Yomim Tovim as well as continue on with their mishnayos. We are not expecting them to learn it inside and out, that will only happen by going through things multiple times. My goal is to get them to go through it. They will pick up according to each of their abilities, which is amazingly more than most of us would imagine. People learn through time. Our minds will take something we have learned or something we are thinking about and put it in the subconscious. The subconscious thinks about it and over time we get new ideas and thoughts about it. Then we can go back and learn more on the topic.

I found these wonderful videos on Chabad.org by Rabbi Gordon. He has a wonderful video for each and every chapter of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. He reads and translates as well as explains very nicely what is going on. My idea is to listen to 2 of his videos a day with the other chapter being read and then translated by boys. This is to help boys with their personal reading. Two birds with one stone. We would obviously take breaks in between each video and not do it all at once. And, I might even stagger the times throughout the day so that one little then-to-be 4 year old is not left hanging by himself for hours on end and being bored. And yes, this is a very rigorous feat we are going to do. We were told something on Shabbos – if you start this goal, do not quit, do not alter it, do not make the goal easier. Even if you get behind 1 day, 2 days, 3 days or more. Each day is a new day. Start fresh and continue on. The only thing that should change, if needed, is the end date. I liked this.

Today I ordered 3 sets of Mishneh Torah. One for each boy. They will be theirs to keep when they move out. The only condition is that we get to use them when we want/need to, even when they move out. Where we are going to put them, I do not know. As any homeschooling family knows, bookshelves are sacred – second only to the Torah and sefarim which are held on them. I have ideas. I have time before they come in. 😉

In the meantime, I miss my boys, even with the cleaner house.

Back To Work!

I can’t believe it has been 7 weeks already. Last week DH went into the doctor’s and was given the okay to go back to work. There are mixed feelings all around, but life goes on and Baruch Hashem his foot is healing properly. He still has one more week without being able to put pressure on the foot, and it will take a bit before he can think about his dream of running a marathon 😉 but he is definitely on his way.

As my newest role as a caregiver to my husband 24/7 changes to something like 6/5 and 24/2 I can actually take half a breath and take a look at how things went. The first several days after the accident was just a blur. We were all just trying to manage and survive. From traveling back and forth from the hospital to home and back again several times a day, to trying to keep beautiful boys quiet so Daddy can sleep was a job in itself. One of the challenges of homeschooling children is when someone is sick you still have everyone at home. I do not know about girls, (and yes, even though I am one myself!) but I do know that one of the big things boys like is noise. One boy loves to make various (um, annoying) sounds, one boy just has a loud, deep penetrating voice and one boy is not old enough to remember to keep his high shrill voice down to something manageable to others. Somehow we managed. We made it though and life went on.

I would have loved to have just spent time with my husband over the last 7 weeks, but there were 4 wonderful reasons why I couldn’t do that. I guess they were a good thing. Well, I know they were a good thing. I tried to continue on with our schooling as much as possible after the first week. Except for when there were doctor visits, we actually got most things done. Except math. I think the one thing that kept us on track as much as possible was the fact that the boys had scheduled times to log onto Room613. The fact that they had classes that could not wait 5 minutes before starting was such a big help. I use that time to teach other classes to other boys. The problem with math is that I have it scheduled at the end of the day AFTER their classes with Rabbi Resnick. By the time 3pm came around, Daddy was going crazy and looking for TLC. I cannot blame him.

I still have a hard time imagining how difficult it is to need help with everything. Even making his way to use the bathroom was a production. He couldn’t get up for a glass of water, if something fell he was at the mercy of whoever was around (if anyone) to help him pick it up and trying to take a shower to feel human was such a long process. I know he tried hard not to ask the same person for help all the time (Baruch Hashem there were 5 other people around!) but he felt so imposing that he even went to far as to try to not ask anyone for help. For that I have constantly given him mussar. I never once felt like he was imposing and tried to make sure he saw me with a smile, even if he had to ask me to get up in the middle of the night. But I can understand.

Having to juggle between putting on my teacher’s hat and my caregiver’s hat took a lot out of me – and my time. I had scheduled extra time in between classes to help give me time to do a bit of cleaning here and there and to help spend some quality time with Mr. Big Boy #4 and yes, even some down time for me, but that was all taken up with my other new career. I have to admit that Daddy was really a good sport and usually told me he could wait for whatever it was until I had my break though that did make me feel bad to have to make him wait. What all this really meant for me was that I was constantly on the move. I had no me time, no time to mop the floor, no time to give to a little boy, no time to do nothing. By the time 3pm came around, I was doing my hardest to try to get myself to make supper, never mind math. DH mentioned this morning, “Oh, you were not on the computer yesterday?” No. That is another thing. No computer, no internet and no email – no time.

Then, after looking at house, I decided to implement a secret plan. I spent the last 4 days working on it. I am not finished, but I am a long ways over, and by now it is not secret. I made the executive decision to move all 4 boys into one room. Yes, one room for 4 boys, a 1:4 ratio. We have a 3 bedroom house. I know. You can tell me that the past 6 weeks turned me crazy.

Really, I am doing this to help out a very creative boy (see previous post!) as you can tell from this embarrassing photo (which was about half

Half way cleaned up by Mommy.

way through the cleaning!). This was the amazing job of one boy over the course of just 2 months. The entire floor actually looked as bad as the part still covered in the photo when I first dared to go in and clean. Yes, only 2 months! I go and wipe out everything in the room every few months and try all sort of tricks but so far nothing works. I am just lucky to have one of these amazingly creative boys that just are unable to keep anything clean. I have talked to several Mothers over the past year or so who have similar minded children. It is good to know it is not me. I went ahead and got even more crazy, picked out a nice real color and started painting the walls. Not even DH knew what my plan was until the night before I finished painting. Boys helped me put together one set of bunk beds last night, and they all helped me organize clothing. I have decided that since there will be limited space in this room now, we can’t have 4 sets of drawers. I bought each boy 4 storage bins that fit under the bed. We are not done, I still want to get each boy a nice sized box with a lid and a combination lock that is their personal property.

As far as the new room, I am not quite sure what I am going to do with it. I do know that I want my sewing machines to be in there so I have a place to sew, but I do not need a lot of room for that. We shall see. The green I picked out for the boys is good for the boys but not what I want for any other part of the house. It was nice to have boys tell me I was doing a wonderful job and that they were liking the room and the color. It was also fun to have them all ask me whose room it was going to be only to be told, “I will tell you when I’m finished!” I was busy the entire day – from painting to preparing meals to cleaning two bathrooms down to mopping them, taking Daddy and one boy to the JCC to exercise and hang out in the pool, to shopping and then finally exercising myself. By the time we got home and organized clothes, it was 10:30 and the boys were STILL UP! How did it get so late? Then to walk into the kitchen and feel that everything went wrong and that perhaps my priorities were totally wrong. Perhaps I should have spent all that time I spent on painting on cleaning the house. Perhaps a pent up Daddy would have been happier? He tells me it was not me and not the house just the circumstance of him being pent up, but perhaps I could have alleviated things a bit by having different priorities. I don’t know.

Almost done!

What ever the case is, I cannot turn back the time and DH really likes how I did the boys’ bedroom. Today is MLK day and schools are closed. We are a school so we will be closed as well. I usually have school on statutory holidays for why not? But today, we are being flexible and I am not going to feel guilty. Today, we are cleaning the house, I am going to practice my music for the girl’s middle school performance tomorrow and we are going to try to get two sessions of math in. HA! That last goal is really funny, but I’ll really be satisfied with one session for each boy, but don’t tell them that!

I drove my Dear Husband to work this morning. Things there have also gone through a change. We are not sure what Hashem has planned for us, but after the past 7 weeks, we know that no matter what, everything really is for the best. I am going to miss seeing his wonderful face during the day. I think that I will like retirement. In the meantime I have something to look forward too, and oh, I think we shall be able to get a few more math lessons in in the meantime and the house is getting cleaner as I type. 😉

Gut Moed!

***Please have Raphael Gavriel Simcha Chaim ben Shulamis in your prayers – (Note name addition, things are very serious. )he is a young man (early 20’s) who has a brain tumor.  It was mostly removed several months ago, but it has grown back.  He has remained in the hospital.***

We’re half way done the first half of the last set of Yomim Tovim, in other words – the middle of Sukkos. 🙂  The weather is beautiful, with just one meal being rained out on us.  It is definitely getting cooler, but still warm and I still do not need to wear a jacket – and that is coming from someone who wears jackets because she gets cold easily.  Yesterday I went for a bike ride, and I got in not just one, but two nice bike rides today.  I really enjoy looking at all the wonderful colors.

The little one has his own lulav and esrog and is very proud of it.  I even found last year’s lulav holder for him as well as a nice box to put the esrog.  When we got to shul, he was very excited to show it to his friend and share it with her.  The second day I made a point to get to shul earlier than we usually go so that he could make it for Hallel where they walk around the bima with their lulavim and esrogim.  We got there on the last circuit, just enough for a 3 year old to have fun and not get bored. 🙂

Yesterday started off nice with a bris (Yom Kippur baby!), buying a very excited 3 year old new Shabbos shoes for his got ruined and then a wonderful Room613 Virutual Sukkos party.  For those who are not sure what a virtual party can include, there were stories, songs, fun Sukkos riddles and a talent show.  Yes, a talent show!  There was a comedian telling riddles and jokes, bike tricks, karate tricks and a wonderful pianist.  Modern technology is amazing, with a laptop and a video camera, we were able to walk outside one of the homes of the boys and watch him ride his bike outside and do some tricks.  It was not perfect, the video cameras have a bit more to be desired sometimes for they did occasionally freeze up for the audience.  Aside from that, it was a lot of fun.  I have to put a nice plug in for homeschooling – it’s hard to watch bike riding tricks in a school, but it was so easy to do in a homeschool setting!

I had wanted to do some learning about the rest of the holidays.  I figured I have three days before Shabbos, and perhaps something (most likely  not) on Sunday before Yom Tov.  That was my plan.  As I mentioned in the last post, I love all the Yomim Tovim, however, it is hard to find all the time I would like to take to teach about every Yom Tov – before the Yom Tov.  We only had a couple of days after Yom Kippur before Sukkos, and so I figured it would be great to learn the rest during Chol Hamoed figuring it was a great way to increase Torah learning a little bit and not have a free for all holiday.  So I planned.

After the bris yesterday, I had one boy make a spontaneous play date (which turned into a sleep over) and another boy had the brother over to our house for his spontaneous play date.  Boy number 3 was happy as a clam to turn the radio on and call “CQ” in hopes to reach people in other parts of the world, which he did. (Amateur Radio aka Ham Radio.)  He also spent some time learning so he can upgrade his radio license from Technician to General so he can use more frequency bands.

After lunch today I had three boys come to the house (one was mine and the other two were the brothers from the spontaneous play dates).  One brother stayed to play with one of my boys and the other brother went with one of my other boys to yet another house for several hours!  My oldest, was still happy as a clam learning outside in the sukkah for his general class and talking to people on the radio. I do not really mind.  It is hard to play with friends who are at school during the day (imagine that!)  We also had a wonderful sukkah party for the Cub and Boy Scouts in our sukkah and a Mazal Tov to my oldest for earning his Second Class rank for Boy Scouts tonight! 😀

We did not get to sleep in the sukkah the first few nights for it did rain and drizzle on and off, however, last night and tonight the boys took advantage of the wonderful weather.  Unfortunately Mommy and Daddy are not out there for Daddy is a bit sick and does not want to get sicker.  I really enjoy the fresh air – it is not too hot nor too cold, just nice and cool and fresh and I wake up really refreshed in the morning when I do get to sleep outside.

I still have my plans… Baruch Hashem we still have tomorrow!  I am determined to get some learning done (will have to say no to play dates….. 🙁  )

It is late, and I’m off to finish making challah, so hope everyone has a wonderful Moed, Shabbos and Yom Tov!

 

Popcorn, Yomim Tovim, Yomim Tovim and More Yomim Tovim!

Rosh Hashanah has come, Yom Kippur will be here in less than 24 hours.  I have been trying to think of something to write, but nothing popped into mind.

Baruch Hashem we have been busy.  Our annual Scout popcorn fundraiser is in full swing now, with $4000 worth of popcorn already bought – and that does not include the chocolate flavors that we could not purchase this round (the chocolate melts too easily we are told.)  I am told the popcorn is much better than last year and not to mention it is in tins again.  (All popcorn is OU-D, with the plain unpopped kernels OU-Parve – anyone interested? 😉  )

This is the best and worst time of the year.  The best time for the boys to work on their socialization skills and go door-to-door and talk to all sorts of people – from young to old, from cranky to nice, from English speakers to non-English speakers.  They also get lots of exercise for they do a lot of walking!  It is the worst time for Daddy and Mommy have to go and take them all over, not just once, but twice when we have to deliver to the wonderful places that bought.  But soon it will be over and we are hoping that the older two will have earned enough to go to one week of Jewish Scout camp in the summer (the number 3 boy has one more year before he can go!)

We sure hit our new year off to a good start with missing the first 1.5 days of Room613!  Several boys thought they read there will be no classes the ENTIRE week, not just for Rosh Hashanah.  But after talking to my sister and a friend on the second day after Rosh Hashanah, I found out they were wrong.  Lesson learned: Read my emails more closely… It was not a total loss, I tried to add more secular work into the 2 days that would have been missed because of Rosh Hashanah.

We did not delve into Yom Kippur last week too much, probably should have, though I had other unrelated things on my mind.  Sometimes I find it hard to balance personal learning and introspection with teaching the boys and helping them out with the same things.  We did talk about some of the basic prayers and their meanings.  I also found some nice Kol Nidre songs on Youtube to help get us in the mood.  One thing I told the boys is that they should read the davening in English – especially the Al Chets.  Since all the davening we do is for us, not Hashem, how are we supposed to put ourselves in the correct frame of mind if we do not even know what we are saying?

This week we worked on Yonah and the Whale.  I found some nice one page versions for preschoolers and a cute song for the little one, as well as a translation of the Vilna Gaon’s work on sefer Yonah.  That is set for high school, however, my older boys are getting some of it.  They just had chapter 1 on chinuch.org, however, I was able to find the full English version at the  Daf Yomi Review website.  We are not going to finish what we have, but that is fine, that leaves more to learn another time. My youngest wanted stuff to color today, but the computer we use for printing was being used, so I will hopefully print out a copy of Yonah and the whale for him to color tomorrow while we sing our song or I’m working with the older boys.

Sukkos is right around the corner, and it is always tough to do Sukkos learning with very few days – I feel I should spend several days on Yom Kippur, and not just rush through it to start Sukkos material, but then I feel Sukkos gets jipped!  I did buy nice 8.5 x 11 charts from Torah U’Mesorah on Sukkos many years ago.  I do not always go over them with the boys, but I think it is time to do them again.  When the older boys were younger, I did manage to do several projects such as a styrofoam esrog and foam/feathered lulav, however, lately we have been focusing on getting the sukkah all up and set that we do not do very many crafts for we are also still doing school work.  We are fortunate for the front entrance to the house has three walls already and all we need to do is add schach on top.  We have most of the schach (about 70 individual bamboo sticks), but it is not quite enough, and we always have to figure out where to find more!  I think I will need to come up with one nice decoration they can each do, the previous ones are getting old.  Oh, and I think I have one more styrofoam ball the youngest can paint as well as some green foam.  I think an older brother might like to spend some quality time with his youngest bro. 🙂

I am going to finish up, drink more liquid, and try to finish getting myself ready for tomorrow night.  Wishing everyone a Gemar Chasima Tovah and an easy fast!

Our “First Day” Take Two!

Today was our first “real” day of school.  Yes, we did do school last week, however, Room613 did not start until today so it was our first day with a full schedule.  I was very impressed in how the day turned out.

We started the day with our davening.  It was cool today so most of us wore a sweater.  I thought it was a beautiful morning to daven outside.  My youngest has been into wearing at least his lion hat costume all day.  I have told him he needs to wear a kippah or hat for he is a Jewish boy.  Once he found out his lion hat worked, he has turned into a lion, only taking it off for nap times.  My Lion loves to daven.  He has his favorite siddur and loves to sit and stand and daven.  He is not upset in the above picture, he is putting his whole neshama into davening.  It is just that no sound comes out of his mouth.  He was so into davening this morning.  He is my inspiration. 🙂

Instead of Parsha, this week we are learning about Rosh Hashanah.  I did not want to do the same kind of thing as we have done in the past.  We have learned about Rosh Hashanah for years now, printing off various workbooks from chinuch.org.  I went online to chinuch.org last night to see what I could find.  I found some nice learning sheets, however, they were one to two page sheets.   So, I decided I was going to choose something different to learn about each day.  Today we learned about the 10 reasons we blow the shofar during Elul and on Rosh Hashanah. At the bottom was the option to re-write each reason in the child’s own words.  Unfortunately, I had only ink in the printer for the one paper, so we just talked a bit about Rosh Hashanah and then talked about the 10 reasons.

Tomorrow we are going to look at the worksheet talking about the explanation of Yamim Noraim Prayers.  This one is geared towards 6th and 7th grade, but I think all three older boys can appreciate it to an extent.  The explanation booklet can be reduced in size to fit into a machzor so the students have a handy guide to make their davening more meaningful.  Our new ink should be coming in this week so I will be able to print it out for each boy.  I am not sure how long it will take us to go through this book, it is only 9 pages long.  If needed, I will find something else to do on Thursday.  Oh, and I cannot forgot the little one!  Yes, I almost forgot, he is more than big enough to make projects and sing songs that my older ones are too “old” for!

The school day worked out well.  At lunch time, I was thinking that, ” Wow, I was still so relaxed!”  I remember how busy and full the days were last year.  This year our schedule seems more relaxed – longer, more to do, but relaxed.  I finally learned not to stuff the time to the hilt.  I scheduled a lot of time for each subject.  I will say, it does help that the boys have a set schedule on Room613.net.  Rabbi Resnick has 30 minutes classes with 15 minute breaks in between each class.  Altogether, that is 45 minutes from the beginning of one of his classes to the beginning of the next class.  I purposely limit the amount of time spent for each lesson – 15-20 minutes for the younger ones and 30-40 minutes for the oldest (though often times it takes less time for him.)  I added extra time so that I would have time to give attention to our 3 year old.  This, I believe, was one of the best things I have done for our schooling this year.  I had time to spend with the youngest, and I did not have to harass the older ones to get out the books for the next thing, or get going to Room613.  I could see how each of the older boys looked at their boards and they seemed so much more relaxed.  I do not know if this more relaxed atmosphere had anything to do with how my one boy did in math, but my tantrum prone boy had not a single tantrum today – not even during math when he kept getting one question wrong.  He just sat there and said, “hmm….” and tried again!

This afternoon I was reminded how vulnerable we all are.  Actually, I think there were many, many people who found out.  We have a few websites that are hosted on Godaddy.com.  Godaddy is a company that you can register domain names on as well as provides hosting and other related services.  It is fairly large.  This afternoon, there was a hacker that shut down all of Godaddy’s sites – at least thousands of sites were down starting after lunch.  The individual who was apparently responsible took sole responsibility shortly afterwards on Twitter.  There were many people who rely on websites hosted by Godaddy for work.  I too was wanting to do some stuff.  However, I realized that everything that happens, Hashem makes happen for a reason.  I then realized that I needed to do some paperwork to send into our school district.  If my website was not down, I would have forgotten yet again about the paperwork.

Coincidence? Of course not!  However, I do not think thousands or millions of people needed to be affected just for me…at least I would hope not.  I also know that this person I cannot really be mad at for this person was just the messenger.  Yes, he had the option of doing good or doing not good, it was his choice – as I like to tell my children, but Hashem wanted Godaddy to go down, it would have gone down in a different way if this person decided to use his amazing talents for a better use.  All afternoon I tried seeing if the websites were up yet, but it did not get me anxious, I was not too overly bothered by it.  At least not the 3 hours it took from when I learned about it to the time my websites were back up and running.

In the end, all my paperwork got done, I just need the ink to arrive at my doorstep to print it out and I realized how my mind’s perspective had an amazing effect on me and how I handled a situation.  Perhaps this is something that I need to try keep in mind when we have little situations arise at home.  There are things that happen that are out of my control, even if I try.  If I remember that Hashem is ultimately in control, there is no reason to get upset at individuals.  There are things that are supposed to happen and these are tests for me.  I know, that is much easier said than done, however, perhaps if I try to keep that in mind, there might be a few times where I can look at my beautiful boys and say “that is what they are supposed to be doing.  How am I supposed to react, how do I get what I need done the proper way?”  Perhaps my stress level will keep down a little bit (and stave those grey hairs away a little bit longer! 😉  )

I definitely know that how we feel definitely rubs off on others.  Was it that I was in a calm mood today that helped my son get through his math in such a wonderful way?  Was it all the time in between classes?  I am sure they both had a lot to do with it.  I definitely would prefer how today’s lesson went over any other day we have had.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings. 🙂  As I am trying to get myself ready for the coming year, I hope that I can grow just a little bit.  In the meantime, I need to read to my Lion for he tells me he cannot read yet.

Wishing everyone a sweet year – A L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life!  Have a wonderful Rosh Hashanah!

Room613 Class Schedule for 2012-2013


Class descriptions can be viewed by clicking here.

Main Schedule

Classes with Rabbi Yosef Resnick *
NOTE: All of Rabbi Resnick’s classes are on the main schedule and are included in the Unlimited Learningmembership EXCEPT those marked “elective.”

All times are Eastern Time, except where otherwise noted.

Mondays
Morning
9:30 – 9:45 Davening Circle (*free and open to all member levels)
10:00 – 10:30 Jewish Thought: Hanhagos Tzadikim (Customs of the Righteous)
10:45 – 11:15 Chumash: parshat Chayei Sarah/parshat Toldot
11:30 – 12:00 Halacha I: Concepts & Topics in Jewish Law – Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yalkut Yosef (and other texts)

Afternoon
1:00 – 1:30 Torah SheB’al Peh/the Oral Torah: Mishna (mesechta Sukkah, perek 4) and other texts
1:45 – 2:15 Nevi’im/Prophets: Sefer Shmuel I (beginning at perek 14)
2:30 – 3:00 Biur Tefillah: Insights into the Siddur & Prayer
3:15 – 3:45 Elective “The Thinking Jewish Teenager’s Guide to Life” (for teen boys)4:00 – 4:30 Elective  Talmud: in-depth study of mesechta Brachos and others

Tuesdays
Morning
9:30 – 9:45 Davening Circle
10:00 – 10:30 Jewish Thought: Hanhagos Tzadikim
10:45 – 11:15 Chumash: Parshat HaShavua/weekly Torah portion (textual study)
11:30 – 12:00 Halacha II: Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (various topics)

Afternoon
1:00 – 1:30 Ketuvim/Writings: Mishlei/Proverbs, Tehillim, and other texts
1:45 – 2:15 Nevi’im: Sefer Shmuel I (beginning at perek 14)
2:30 – 3:00 Basic Torah KnowledgeYediot Klaliot & Musagim b’Yahadut / Fundamental concepts in Judaism (based on the Torah u’Mesorah books and other sources) 
3:15 – 3:45 Elective Hebrew Language Arts

Wednesdays
Morning
9:30 – 9:45 Davening Circle
10:00 – 10:30 Jewish Thought: Hanhagos Tzadikim
10:45 – 11:15 Chumash: parshat Chayei Sarah/parshat Toldot
11:30 – 12:00 Halacha I: Topics in Jewish Law – Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yalkut Yosef (and other texts, rotating topics)

Afternoon
1:00 – 1:30 NEW! Jewish Service Learning; study of various topics in combination with community service: tzedakah, bikur cholim, etc.
*No classes after 1:30 on Wednesdays

Thursdays
Morning
9:30 – 9:45 Davening Circle
10:00 – 10:30 Jewish Thought: Hanhagos Tzadikim
10:45 – 11:15 Chumash: Parshat HaShavua (textual study)11:30 – 12:00 Halacha II: Rambam’s Mishneh Torah

Afternoon
“The Shabbos Trilogy”
1:00 – 1:30 Mitzvot & Halachot in the Weekly Parsha – Midrash, Sefer haChinuch, Ben Ish Chai, and more!
1:45 – 2:15 Shabbat Laws & Customs
2:30 – 3:00 Insights into the Weekly Parsha (not textual study) 
3:15 – 3:45 Elective for boys ages 7–9: Kriah, Stories, Parsha & More!
4:00 – 4:30 Elective Talmud: in-depth study of mesechta Brachos and others

Fridays & Sundays
Private classes & tutoring (please contact me to arrange private sessions)

 * Alternative Scheduling Option for LA Homeschoolers *
and all others who are not in the Eastern U.S. time zone
 If you’re in a time zone that makes attending our live morning classes impractical, this plan is for you. Our Alternative Schedule offers unlimited access to all of Rabbi Resnick’s afternoon classes on the main schedule. In addition, you have unlimited access to all morning (and afternoon) classes as complete audiovisual recordings, available any time of day or night.

The schedule is subject to change. If you have suggestions or requests, please let us know.