A Gut Moed! Remembering Our Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<3

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.

 

 

Pesach

Well, as Pesach is getting close to being finished, I have decided that I actually have time to sit down and write, though my luck the boys will come in from outside or the little one will get up from his nap before I can get very far.

“Ma nishtana hashanah hazeh mikol hashanos” (Why is this year different from other years)?

For some reason this year was very different with all preparations than any in the past.¬† When the boys were younger, I was the soul teacher, and it was easy to take a morning or afternoon and we would all head to one room in the house, tear it apart and clean it.¬† The next day, or the day after, the same thing would happen to another part of the house, until it was all done.¬† I do not remember what happened last year, but this year it was a little different.¬† Firstly, last year I made a mistake – I started in the bedrooms and then worked my way to the basement, (leaving the kitchen for last.)¬† It was a mistake for by the time we did the search for all the chometz, my dear husband was very upset for the rooms had been lived in again and there was absolutely no way we did any cleaning! (I think I vaguely remember after him yelling at me for the umpteenth time, telling him that next year he could do the cleaning…..)

So, this year I vowed not to let that happen again.¬† I decided to start with the least used room, and work up to the most used (messiest) room in the house, and then the kitchen.¬† There was only one problem – now that my boys did set classes online with their Rebbe, how was I going to grab their help for any length of time to clean?¬† We ended up doing a room on a Sunday, and then on a non-school weekday (a Friday – yes, we only do a 4 day “schedule” – more on that in a later post, G-d willing) tackling the basement.¬† We are lucky, there is not much in the basement (on purpose), and it was just cleaned a week or so before for our company that came over.¬† The rest of the house I did the week before Pesach.

Why did I leave it so late?  Well, other than just not wanting to drive myself crazy and work in the evenings and get to sleep late, I prefer to take the easy way out.  Both cellars were closed off, as well as the garage, a few of the closets and the pantry.  I also take the easy way out and make simple meals.  I have a nice recipe I use for a whole turkey РI can make a soup, roast turkey, and shnitzel, in less than 2 hours.  That is about 4 meals worth of main dishes.

My husband took all the boys to the zoo (2 hours away!) for the day, and that let me clean our room, as well as all the laundry.¬† I won’t mention the bedroom took 4 hours (ouch!)¬† As our room gets to be the “storage” room on a regular basis, it was so nice to get it back again!

I did not teach the week before Pesach, however, the boys attended their online classes.¬† We enjoyed our seders.¬† The boys look forward to jumping frogs, hail landing in their grape juice, and the largest locusts seen.¬† And, while the rest of the parents are taking their children all over town this week, I am taking yet another week off of school and hiding in my room, letting the boys read, run outside, go to the library, and try to fly a kite.¬† Sometimes I feel like a “bad” parent – but then again, I remember I spend quality time with my boys the entire year, and do not have to try to cram it all in to a few days at a time several times a year.¬† It was not all so bad, they did have a bochor who came over for one afternoon and spent several hours with them teaching them different things, as well as another playdate for my youngest the next day.

We are also a one car family, and the weather the last few days has been weird, and I have been letting my husband take the van instead of riding to work on the scooter in the rain.¬† And now, it is nice and sunny, no hail, no rain, and we do not have a car to go to the (local) zoo.¬† Perhaps tomorrow ūüôā¬† And yes, I know tomorrow is erev Yom Tov again, but there is plenty of time to cook and go to the zoo and take showers!

So, for those that read this during Pesach РI wish all of you a wonderful rest of the Yom Tov, and for those that read this afterwards, hope you had a wonderful and Pesach.  Hope all of us are able to pull free from our enslavement of our Egypt this year!

(Oh, and yes, all boys came into the room, but they were kind enough to let me finish typing! Yeah!)