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. ūüôā 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!

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. ūüôā

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! ūüėȬ† )

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. ūüôā¬† 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!

Getting Myself Ready – My Chizuk

Yes, I know that experiences cannot be equaled and in case I was not sure about it, after the past few weeks, there is definitely no doubt in my mind.  Over the past week and a half, our boys have spent many, many hours outside, in the water Рponds, creeks, etc. playing in the sand, feeling the seaweed, smelling the different smells, watching lobsters hide, seeing small schools of fish, as well as larger ones.  Not to mention watching out for poison ivy and poison oak as we hike through the neighboring forests and seeing, feeling and smelling all the wonderful things there.  Charlotte Mason definitely knew what she was talking about when she said the only science a child needs for the first 6 years should be nature study.

We have been doing Ambleside Online for 2 years now, and I could never really fit in nature walks like I should, even though I wanted too, and I thought I tried. ¬†I am hoping these wonderful experiences will encourage me to try harder. ¬†Really, it all boils down to having the right schedule. ¬†I find that I can stick to a schedule pretty good if I have one (and I’m the one that makes it, which is good!)

We are told that to raise good and happy children, the relationship between the mother and the father must be a good and happy one as well.  One of the ways to attain this is to make the relationship between husband and wife a priority over the children, that way the children can see how a good relationship should be and how they should act, for seeing has more of an impact than telling.  Homeschooling is not only about the children, it is about us, the teachers as well and therefore we need to nurture ourselves and take care of ourselves first.

We are just a few short weeks from Rosh Hashanah and we have had the most amazing few weeks. We do not get to interact very often with homeschoolers – we do not really have that much in common with the ones we know who are local, and to interact with religious Jewish homeschoolers on top of that is even more of a bonus. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I have an issue being the “different” one, not at all, however, occasionally it is good to meet others who are different like you.

It was good for the children to be able to play with other religious¬†Jewish homeschoolers, and it was good for me to be able to talk to not just one, but two mothers who have similar philosophies as we do. ¬†It was so exciting to talk to mothers who have had at least double the amount of years of homeschooling behind them than I do for it gave me a chance to see where I could be as a homeschool parent – what kinds of ideas I could try to use, from “experts”. ¬† I was also glad I was able to share some of our experiences and see that I could be of some help as well. ¬†And, it was nice just to talk!

I once heard from a rabbi that all the spiritual connection and chizuk that we get from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkos is set so that it carries us through the dark times of winter, yes, we have a little bit of light from Chanukah, but there are no Yomim Tovim until Pesach, and our neshamas need the spiritual connection.  So too, I felt that Hashem has given me this boost of the visits of two wonderful mothers (and their children!) to help give me chizuk for the next while. I felt lucky to have such wonderful conversations with one of the mothers that came.  We took the children out in the afternoon and then they still did not have enough time together, so her son came over for a sleepover.  After the mother left, I felt not only spiritual happiness and chizuk, but I found it gave me chizuk in general to do some stuff around the house that I was trying to get done.  I tried to soak up all the chizuk and spiritual connection that I could so that it would carry me over until the next encounter.