Showing posts from 2009

WFMW - Handmade Holidays

My only New Years Resolution is to make more of the gifts I give from now on. I am not going so far as to say all but I want to do many more.

I did manage to make two different gifts for this holiday season. To set my daughter down this path, we made ornaments for all the relatives that decorate trees. I hope to make this a tradition, adding a new different kind of ornament each year so that the relatives have a memento of her growth. I made a pants outfit for the youngest cousin. The inspiration and directions came from Today's Housewife. It would have been much easier if I had made the pants but I used store bought and just added the ruffle. Next time the pants get made too. My daughter does not wear much pants so I am working on a similar idea for a dress.

The template for the applique came from Skip to My Lou. It is my new favorite template. I have down sized the lowercase letters to write words and everything.

So that is what works for me. Check out What works for oth…

Menu Planning Monday - Organized

We do not have the ton of leftovers some are dealing with this week so instead we took stock of our freezer and will be cooking some neat things from it. I need to grocery shop this week but only for fresh fruit and veggies. All the meat is from the freezer.

Some activities are still on winter break so this is a quiet week of catching up and sorting.

Monday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas
Tuesday - Stir Fry with Chicken and a sweet sauce.
Wednesday - Picnic dinner at the pool - Salmon burgers, carrots sticks, cantaloupe, cookies
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - Pot Roast, acorn squash, broccoli, challah, chocolate chip melted icecream cake.
Saturday - Tacos, salad

Menu Planning Monday - Snowed In

We got the once in a decade blizzard this weekend. We got close to 20 inches of snow in 24hours. That means lots of home time and lots of cooking. But no trips to the store. Add on top of that, the trip to the grandparents on Wednesday and it all comes together to mean a menu focused on the freezer.

Luckily we keep a well stocked freezer.

That being said here is our menu for this week.

Saturday - Beef Barley Soup - This was a new adventure for us. It is good but I need to make a much smaller batch the next time. It was great at the time but did not survive the long haul. The barley soaked up all the broth and turned to glue so the leftovers were much less appealing.
Sunday - Turkey Pot Pie
Monday - Frittata
Tuesday - Homemade Pasta Sauce and noodles - The leftover sauce will go in the freezer to make a ready meal for when we get back.

Snow Day

We are getting a blizzard today and truly snowed in. We even bailed on services last night because the snow was due to start before the drive home. It is the middle of the day and we are already up to 18 inches.

We have a fire going and are enjoying some serious family time. We all bundled up and went out for a bit this morning. I did a first pass of shoveling on the driveway while Froggy and Sebastian (the puppy) played in the snow. We tried to build a snowman but the snow would not stick together enough. The temperatures are supposed to stay below freezing so we will keep trying until we get at least one made. With this much snow there is no excuse.

Sebastian loved playing in the snow but did not like getting dried with the hair dryer afterwards. He does not seem get covered when he goes out to do his business but playing caked it on there but good.

Today's snow day menu consisted of comfort foods galore!! French toast for breakfast, turkey noodle soup for lunch and Turk…

WFMW - Unschooling

When we first investigated homeschooling, I looked at a variety of teaching styles and curricula. I found several I liked and even one I planned to use. Luckily I did not purchase too much since much of what we do has taken on an extremely unschooly (and yes it is now a word - I say so) approach. It is what works for us.

Today's school consisted of our standard breakfast fare - the weekly parsha and sidrah as well as some pages from her workbook. A workbook I hear you cry that is not unschoolly. It is when she demanded to get it - I was trying to find her some Kumon books for cutting practice - and she picks the pages we do.

But then later we wrote letters. I was working on some email and she demanded to write a letter too. I have asked and prompted and suggested before with absolutely no results. We wrote several letters and we learned all about question marks. She dictated and I typed exactly what she said. And had to explain some strange spellings when the word on the …

Menu Planning Monday - Chag Samach

This week's menu will feature leftovers from our holiday party. We made a huge turkey for the event. It was not the best I have done but it was well received.

Sunday - dinner out after the shul Hanukkah party
Monday - Babysitter tonight. It will be a simple early dinner that the sitter can take over if er run late. Pasta, homemade sauce, and salad
Tuesday- Meeting tonight for me - Turkey Noodle Soup and biscuits
Wednesday- The first quiet night at home this week. We will do a simple meal of latkes, veggie sticks and leftover turkey.
Thursday - dinner out
Friday - Shabbat and the last night of Hanukkah- Challah, brisket, latkes, broccoli, and menorah cupcake dessert.
Saturday - homemade pizza

All Hanukkah All The Time

That was the theme today. We went from Hanukkah event to Hanukkah event.

Froggy wore her special Hanukkah dress. It was a gift from a wonderful friend at shul. Her mom made for her daughter who is now too big for it.
First this morning was Froggy's Hanukkah religious school class party during school time. They had sufganiot as snack as well as gelt and had a special Hanukkah edition of "Ask The Rabbi" time.

After lunch, it was off to the community Hanukkah party which was a joint effort from shul and the Jewish Day school. It was so much fun. They did an amazing job. The had crafts,games and good food. There was a tremendous turn out and it appeared all the ages had a good time. I got a chance to talk with folks I do not get to often enough.

Froggy was so enamored of the crafts that she barely even said a word to her friends. Her favorite was decorating with stickers. My favorite was the Hanukiot. It was such a simple open end-ed fire safe idea that I am amazed I h…

Turkey Noodle Soup

Turkey Noodle Soup is one of my favorite uses for leftover turkey. I always have homemade broth in the freezer. I make the broth any time I roast a chicken or turkey.

Making the broth is super easy thanks to the crock pot. I throw the bones in the crock pot with any veggies getting old in the fridge but always celery, onions and carrots. I let it do its thing for at least eight hours. I strain it out, let it cool and then pack it up in two cup portions.

On soup night, saute a nice mix of onions carrots and parsnips. To me, parsnips are the key to yummy soup. I add the broth and bring it boil. I cook the noodles right in the broth. Shortly before the noodles are done, I add the turkey and voila soup is on!

Menu Planning Monday - Holiday Prep

Hanukkah starts this week and with it comes our annual party and lots of fried foods. I am going to make donuts for the first time ever this year. I will run a test batch earlier in the week just in case.

Monday - Homemade sauce, pasta, salad
Tuesday - Tofu Stirfry and rice
Wednesday - Swim Night Picnic - Frittata,rolls,fruit and cookies
Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Challah,Brown Sugar Salmon, rice,green beans, brownies
Saturday- Party!! - Veggie tray, Roast Turkey, squash and spinach, latkes, and homemade donuts for dessert.

WFMW - Starfall and bribery

I am not a big proponent of screen time for little people. I think there are so many better ways that they can be better spending their time. That being said I loveStarfall. It is the only reading program that Froggy has been interested in doing.

The catchy little songs let me remind her of what she has learned anytime she is trying to sound out a word. The fun graphics and animated tales keep her wanting to read. The calendar game is also where she finally got the days of the week down and ever so helpful in counting down special events.

Froggy knows how to read now. And practice is the most important part. But her perfectionist nature was keeping her from it. So we resorted to bribery. She earned a star for each "book" she read to us. At 10 stars she got the reward of being allowed to pick any book from the bookstore and take it home forever. I tried to get her to read me one of her BOB books because I knew there was no chance she would get stuck and I thought it w…

Naturally Curious Tots - Pine Trees

One of Froggy's favorite activities while out lately is to find which trees are ready for winter and which trees are still working on getting there. According to her, a tree is ready if all the leaves have fallen off. Trees that still have their colorful display of Autumn leaves are still working on getting ready.

This did not work so well when we came across an evergreen shrub on a walk (For some reason the shrubs at her front door do not trigger). I took the opportunity to explain the difference pointing out how thin the leaves were so the snow could fall through without getting caught too much.

So now several days later she has added a new category to the mix, those that don't need to get changed. We often collect acorns on our walks so on our most recent walk when we were comparing evergreen with other trees, I showed her a pine cone under the tree

This led to an intense need in Froggy to match each tree she knows with the kind of seed it makes. She was slightly disturbe…

Our Thankful Tree

We started a tradition when Froggy was two of having a Thankful Tree. Working on it this year has been so much fun. Froggy is old enough this year to make a meaningful contribution. Listening to what she chooses melts my heart. That she just keeps wanting to add more and more is so sweet.

The tree itself looks nicer since I took more time with the prep and used my cookie cutter to make the leaves. Setting it up earlier and watching it blossom with leaves has made me smile.

So another thing I am thankful this year is our Thankful Tree.

Menu Planning Monday - Thanksgiving and Pizza

This is a short week for menu planning. We will be with the family for Thanksgiving and then heading to Walt Disney World from there. Which means no more cooking for me after Tuesday until December 7th.

Monday -Chicken and Sweet Potatoes - We never got to this last week. I failed to plan ahead enough to take the chicken from the freezer.
Tuesday - Pizza with homemade sauce - we still have some leftover from the last batch I made
Wednesday - Leave for Grandparents!!!

Since it is a short week I thought I would include my pizza dough recipe. It is so simple. I love pizza night. I make the dough in the morning and I am done. Daddy and Froggy make pizza together as their special bonding time.

1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour (I grind my own which means it is whole wheat but any works)
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Put all the ingredients in the mixer. Mix slowly until flour is incorporated with whisk attachment. Switch to dough hook. Turn up the …

Christmas Reprieve

I was just granted a reprieve. I thought I was going to need all the holiday presents ready in time for Thanksgiving since we are seeing the family then but had not planned to see them at Christmas.

The Daddyman decided that even though it means three long drives in three months, we will be visiting the grandparents for Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. That means I now have extra time for finish gathering all the presents. The only ones I need to take now are the niece's birthday gifts.

Field Trips

I love fieldtrips. Yet I so rarely get my act together to schedule it. We live in easy driving distance of the National Mall and all the wonderful Smithsonian museums. However, with them always available there is no motivation to go now.

The Discovery Theater is also right on the Mall. So I have committed to several of the age-appropriate shows. The limited nature of these shows ensures that we actually get there. We went for our first show of the year today. Froggy got her first taste of HipHop with Secret Agent 23. She even got up and danced a bit.

We had planned to have a picnic afterwards and then head home to Park Day. But before the show even started, Froggy asked if we could go to the dinosaur museum after lunch. The picnic was wonderful. I wish I had brought our camera. Froggy danced with statues in the Sculpture Garden. I had to keep reminding Froggy that we only had limited time and that we could not see everything in one day. I kept telling her we would come ba…

WFMW - Thanksgiving Crafts

With preschoolers, learning about the holidays is a very hands on process. Reading stories is all well and good and gives an introduction but doing makes it come alive. I am strong believer in allowing children to participate in preparations for any event as much as possible both to ease the parent's burden and to help the child prepare and learn.

We are going to the grandparents for Thanksgiving which means there is no holiday shopping or cooking here with which a little one can help. We have also limited our decorating since we will be gone from before Thanksgiving until right before Hanukkah.

So instead we are making place cards and decorations to take to Grandma's. We will be making Apple Turkeys. Ours are somewhere between this and this. I like the marshmallow face but I like the construction paper tail better. We are putting the names right on the tail. Eyes are raisins and the nose is a candy corn.

For our first attempt I tried laminating real leaves which I thoug…

Menu Planning - Crockpot Love

I love my crockpot. Three out of the four meals I will cook this week get to use it. It makes my evenings so much easier. Froggy tends to get cranky and need much more of my attention later in the day. Doing all the prep work for dinner early in the day gives me the ability to provide Froggy what she needs happily.
Sunday - Out with FriendsMonday - Class for me - Homemade Pizza and salad for the gang. I will make the dough and the sauce early in the day. Then Daddy and Daughter get to dress the pizza together as their sp
Tuesday - Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew and BroccoliWednesday - Picnic at the Pool - We never got to the chili last week. I will reheat the chili and then pack it in the thermos. All the fixings will go in the picnic basket and we have an easy hot dinner pool side when we finish swimming. It is so much nicer than fast food on the drive home.
Thursday - Spaghetti, Sauce (from Monday) and Salad
Friday - Pot Roast, Challah, Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach - Satur…

Menu Planning Monday - Post Houseguests

We finally have our house back to ourselves for the first time since late August. Since we are going to the granparents for Thanksgiving all I have to do work on feeding my little family for awhile.

Our freezer is a mess and I would love to defrost it but have no where to put all the food while I do so we are working on trying to eat out of the freezer while at the same time I am trying to take advantage of some holiday food sales.

Sunday - Homemade pizza
Monday - Shepards Pie and Salad (from the freezer)
Tuesday - Tofu Stir Fry/ rice / Keem
Wednesday - Pasta, Homemade Sauce, salad, garlic bread
Thursday - Brown Sugar Salmon, Rice, broccoli
Friday - PreK Shabbat Dinner at Synagogue
Saturday - Chili (from freezer), chips and salad

MPM - A day early

We have long term house guests now. Which means cooking for 7 instead of 3 all of whom have their own needs and desires for me to learn. It has been a major adjustment but I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it. And part of that is getting back to my regular menu planning and shopping. For this week, we will have

StirFry, rice and keem
Chicken Kebobs and peas
Shabbat - Picnic in the sukkah at shul - Frittata,salad,challah,chocolate chip zucchini bread

And I will be baking

Challah, sandwich bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin raisin cookies (I use applesauce instead of the oil), apple muffins, pancake mini muffins

WFMW - Winging It

Over time I have gotten lots more adventurous in the kitchen. With Froggy going dairy-free I have been forced to not only try new recipes but experiment with new ideas and become willing to tweak recipes to meet our family's needs.

So I have started to Wing It in the kitchen. We have lots of failures when I wing it but we have some great successes too. Here is one of the more recent. I added some pictures of it.

And out of desperation again I am now winging it in the craft room too. After hunting for the perfect pattern too often I have given up and started creating my own. Froggy's latest dress (pictures to follow) is a combination of this tutorial, a pattern we had and a great deal of improvisation. I think it turned out beautiful but I am just a little biased. It could not be too bad since I had trouble getting her out of it.

So winging it works for me. For other WFMW tips check out WEARETHATFAMILY

MPM - The Last of the Tomatoes

This week I am trying to put by the last of the summer tomatoes. Next week I start back at school and we enter the busy Fall schedule. So this week is the last chance I have to do any putting up food for the winter.

Before I get to this week's menu. Here is a review of last week.

I liked the Vegetable Tagine but no one else did. It made way more than expected. The recipe claims it makes 8 main dish servings. However after dinner for 2 adults and 1 lunch for me, I froze enough to easily serve 8 adults.

Our peaches were wonderful. The jam turned out delicious even though it did not jell up as well as I had hoped.

Breakfasts - my nephew (really my best friend's son but since he calls me Auntie I figure I can call him my nephew) will be joining us so I am cooking more
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles (need to remember to get our waffle iron back from Aunt Petal)
Scrambled eggs

Lunches - again with the nephew who is strictly vegetarian.
cold cut Sandwiches
Tagine o…

The Sweet of the Peach

Well we got a ton of peaches from a local farm. They came a bit earlier than expected.

I was going to wait until Shabbat to make Peach Crisp but I just could not hold out. Crisp is one of our favorite easy fruit desserts. It is so simple. We slice the fruit and top with an Oatmeal Crumb Topping. Bake and you are good to go. We made some lovely non-dairy peach icecream/frozen yogurt to go with it. I would share the ice cream recipe but I failed to write it down as I invented it. All this was a lovely treat during the middle of the week but left me scrambling for a dessert for Shabbat.

I still had more peaches to use but we also still had crisp sitting in the fridge.

What to do? Peach cake! No recipe? Well that is no problem any more. I remember a time not long ago when a lack of a recipe for exactly what I wanted would have scared me. No longer. Now I am free to experiment and invent in the kitchen.

The cake was simple and yummy. I used a boxed white cake mix. Instead of wat…

WFMW - Patience

Last Friday at our home school park day, I sought advice from the other moms regarding Froggy. She is almost four and still had not ever drawn any representational art at all. All her pictures were lines, random squiggles which even Froggy said had no other description than "a picture".

Well if I had been just a bit more patient I would not have needed to worry. Yesterday with out any prompting or cajoling Froggy drew me a person. We were coloring together as we often do. She drew a circle and then gave it features and the circle quickly became a "funny grandpa with earrings and silly hair" He even has fingers and toes.Patience is important. We started homeschooling so that she could go at her own pace without pressure. Moments like this help me find the patience again to allow her to do just that.

MPM - Peaches

We got a whole bushel of peaches from a local farm. We are going to try making some peach jam. Magpie Eats shared a lovely jam recipe that we are going to try using these lovely peaches rather than the apricots intended.

Last week's experiments had some wins and some loses. The biggest win was all the meals we got out of the Roast Chicken. Cooking once and eating several times is a huge hit with me. Movie night and the pizza never happened so are making a reappearance this week.

Monday - Shepards Pie using leftover pot roast.
Tuesday -Couscous with Vegetable Tagine from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen
Wednesday - Mock Coq a Vin - from The One-Armed Cook
Thursday - Movie Night and Pizza
Friday - Challah, Maple Glazed Salmon, Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Peach Crisp

Making Shabbat Meaningful

This Shabbat we had the opportunity to return to the local Chabad house. Keeping Shabbat means something different to us than it does to most who attend there. Still we enjoy going. For me personally, there are two items that make Shabbat meaningful, being with family and Jewish study. At Chabad, both Froggy and I are able to engage in Jewish learning and fellowship. Unfortunately, Hiranu is not comfortable there at all.

For the time being (ie until we find a solution that provides meaningful study and fellowship and family time) we are having family time on Erev Shabbat and Shabbat afternoon while spending Shabbat mornings learning at Chabad. Not ideal but so far a justifiable compromise. Who am I justifying things to, I hear you ask? Myself, only myself. Maybe at some point I will need to explain them to Froggy but the real person is me. Why is not ideal? Ideal would be if everyone could be together learning at the same time in the same enviroment and enjoying Shabbat togeth…

Food Experiments in Review

I am easily bored so I constantly trying new things. We are also still learning how to modify some of our previous favorite foods to fit into our new (ok it has been a full year now) dairy free lifestyle.

Spinach Daal - from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. Not for us even though we enjoy it greatly out. The lentils took forever to cook. Easily twice as long as the recipe indicated. The texture and color was unappetizing. I am not sure what I did different but it was not what we were expecting.

Chicken Kebobs - For some reason kebobs make any food more fun for preschoolers. I used mango chutney to marinade some boneless chicken thighs added some red bell pepper slices and onion pieces and popped them on the grill. They were a huge hit with the whole family.

Baked Stuffed Tilapia - The stuffing was flavorful but the fish had no flavor and was dry and tough even though I cooked it for less time than specified.


One of the foods we miss terribly from before going dairy-free is ravioli. I have only found one brand ever that is totally dairy-free and it is too expensive to make a regular item. So at the urging of some friends, I tried making some from scratch using wonton wrappers in place of the pasta dough.

The filling, which really worried me more, turned out delicious. I used 1lb firm tofu instead of ricotta, 10 frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained, and 2 TBS vegan parmesan cheese (from a can).
The process of making the ravioli was interesting. Froggy had fun helping me. She even tried one of the wrappers raw. She ate the whole thing so I guess it was good. Once cooked however the wrappers were vile. They turned slimy with a texture similar to steamed dumplings. Right now ravioli are on hold here until I either find a source for premade pasta dough or am willing to try it on my own.

MPM - Home at last

After weeks of not being able to cook and eating out constantly, we are all very much looking forward to some real home cooking. The fridge is empty. The cupboards are bare. The slate is clean. We can go anywhere we want

We made a trip to the local farmers market yesterday and this week's menu will highlight some of our finds.

Monday - Baked Stuffed Tilapia, rice and green beans.
Tuesday - Chicken Kebobs, summer squash, corn on the cob
Wednesday - A new experiment from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. It is a spinach dal rendition which will be served with rice and naan.
Thursday - Pizza and a movie night. Homemade pizza (using leftover sauce) and salad. Froggy will get to pick the movie
Friday- A real Shabbat dinner at last. We will have Challah, steamed broccoli, Pot Roast, potatoes, and this lovely treat for dessert, ice cream cake. A friend gave me a cool recipe which I can use non-dairy icecream.

I am also trying to plan out breakfast/lunch/snacks better too.

Breakfasts will…

Baruch dayan ha-emet

At 1:05 Sunday morning, my mother returned to G-d. After a long battle with breast cancer and two painful sick years, I know she is finally at peace.

She was a strong, independent woman. She raised four girls on her own in a time when being a single parent was even harder than it is today. She instilled in each of us the importance of independence and not relying on someone else for your livelihood. She taught us to think for ourselves and form our own opinions. She worried much in later life that she did not give us the best foundation but I know that she gave us a better foundation than her mother gave her and the best one that she possibly could.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ori moved to Florida when she was 6yrs old and never left. She built her dream home in Clermont in 2002, and became a full time resident in 2007.

Mrs. Cherin, as she was known by her students, graduated from the University of Miami and later received her Masters Degree from Nova University. She was an edu…

WFMW - Paper Dolls

Try telling a healthy, active 3 yr old that they must play quietly by themselves every morning for 2 hours and you are bound to run into trouble. My husband is trying to work and I am trying to care for my dying mom and together that makes it hard to properly devote the time and attention we would like to Froggy.

Enter paper dolls. Exit Stress.

I purchased this paper doll book at Michaels. The thought had been, with the help of some posterboard, contact paper and washers, to turn them into magnetic dressable dolls. That was an utter failure.

Instead I laminated dolls and clothes and simply used the "reusable stickers" provided with the book to attach the clothes.

Froggy has gotten days of quiet enjoyment out of these dolls with more yet to come. I keep them engaging by presenting her with new dolls or clothes or both from the book each day. She has never seen the book itself so she does not feel like she is missing everything by not having it all at once. At her age, I t…

FIAR - How to make it work

I love the idea of learning through literature and FIAR seems like an ideal way to do that with a preschooler. Yet for some bizarre reason, it is not working for us.
Every time I try, I select a great book and find neat activities to go with it. The problem comes in that we never seem to do the activities. Why you ask? Well I am not really sure. Probably poor planning on my part.

To solve this unfortunate problem, we are going to try something new. We are currently on vacation so not doing any formal work at all. This break gives me some time to get my materials all organized.

I am making a tub to keep all our FIAR supplies. In this tub will be the book of the week, our vocabulary journal, our flag book, and all the supplies for the current week. To organize the activities for each book, I am planning to try to do a lapbook for each.

In this prepatory phase I am collecting all the printables and activities for our first 5 books and organizing what the lapbooks will look like.

Our …

Fall Planning

One of the reasons I chose to homeschool was to help my daughter feel "normal" rather than "different" for being Jewish. We try very hard to mark time "Jewishly". That being the case our school year runs according to the Jewish calendar and starts anew with Rosh Hashana.

This is very convenient since many activities start new in the Fall with the start of the traditional school year as well. I am trying to decide what activities Froggy will participate in during the upcoming year. She will certainly continue with swimming and gymnastics. She will also start Sunday School at shul. I feel there needs to be something on a musical front but the hubby wants to add in an organized sport and I feel that four activities is just too much.

We will also be starting a nature club with our local homeschooling group. This will probably take the place of any other science curriculum for this year. I will be leading the group if it actually comes to pass. It will …

The Library

Every homeschooling family I know what ever the flavor or philosophy loves the library and we are no exception. I had not realized quite how much until I was forced to do without.

We are currently on an extended visit with my mother. We did the same thing last summer and therefore were somewhat prepared. This summer is different. My mom's library is closed while they move to their new expanded, magnificent facility. Great for the town, great for the library, not so great for us.

We have been here 4 weeks already and may be here two more. Six weeks with no new books is beyond comprehension for Froggy. We made a trip to a local used bookstore and picked her up some books to tide her through till we get home.

As for myself, I am so used to pulling up the library page and requesting a book I find interesting while surfing so it is ready for us on our next trip. I cannot do that right now since it will be so long before we can pick them up. I am keeping a running list of books …

WFMW - Swim Lessons

This summer marks a turning point for Froggy. She is now swimming totally on her own. She swam all the way across the pool ( a standard pool width not an Olympic size pool or anything) totally unassisted without touching. She was very proud of herself.

How did we get here? We started swim lessons when she was very young and go swimming as a family on a regular basis showing her that her parents swim and value swimming. While we tried a few different sources for swim classes, we settled on SwimKids because of the quality of training the instructors receive as well as the consistency of the program between coaches.

Learning to swim is an important life skill I believe all people should master. it is one of the few life skills Jewish parents are required to provide according to Biblical guidelines. Not everyone needs to be able to swim competitively but everyone should be able to be safe in the water. Could you or your child get yourself to the side if you fell into water deeper tha…

Book Lists

Two different public library systems put out "100 Books Your Child Should Hear before Kindergarten" lists here and here. While there are many books on both lists, there are also some differences. There is no documentation I was able to find regarding how the lists were composed for either library. Still we are always looking for recommendations for good books and chances are these are good books.

That being the case I went through and compiled both lists into one, removing duplications. I ended up with 164 books which means that while there were some duplications, there were lots of differences as well. Many of the ones that were duplications were also the obvious ones that we have already read.

I think I like the list from Tacoma Public Library better simply because more of the books we have not read looked interesting. As well there were fewer on that list that we had read and not liked.

There are a few on the combined list that we read so long ago when Froggy was just…

Science and History

Reading, writing and arithmetic are easy at our house. They are such an every day part of our lives that Froggy is learning all she needs to and more without any great effort on our part.

Science and History are not so easy. I love science and love sharing it with Froggy. She knows lots of neat things, things I know I did not know at her age. Some of her favorite books are the Magic School Bus series. We talk about everything we see and do and explore. Yet there is no rhyme or reason to our explorations. The scientist part of my brain says how do you know that you are providing the full spectrum of desired information if you have no plan while the unschooler part of my brain says the best way to learn is living and following your interests and fooy on plans and checklists.

I think as far as science goes I may eventually have to make a list of things I want her to know / experience by X time and then just check them off as we reach them in our own unschooly fashion.

History is an…


We are taking a hiatus from schooling. I will also be taking a hiatus from blogging. My mom is very ill. The whole family is with her. My mom and family are all I can think about right now. I will come back here when life is just a bit more manageable.

Menu Planning Monday - June 29

Monday -
Tuesday -
Wednesday -
Thursday -
Friday - Challah, Roast Chicken,

A Pair of Red Clogs

Our Five In A Row book for this week is A Pair of Red Clogs. Given our family connections with Korea, I am not sure how I am going to address the cultural issues.

Social Studies will consist of at least Geography
Language Arts will consist of vocabulary and story-telling
Math will consist of counting and playing store
Science will consist of Weather and Weather Forecasting

Daring Challenge June

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell Tart History and LoreFlan-like desserts that combine either sweet egg custard over candied fruit or feature spiced ground almonds in a pastry shell have Mediaeval roots. The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam and noted,“This pudding is famous not only in Derbyshire, but in several of our northern counties where it is usually served on all holiday occasions.” By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased. This tart, like many of the world's great foods h…

WFMW - Learning Through Literature

Some people call it story stretchers, unit studies, add-ons, tie-ins. What ever term you use, it rocks our socks. Basically it means using a story as a starting point for all your other studies. The key to principle is that the story is repeated multiple times. This works well for us since we read the weekly Torah portion every morning. For each Parsha/holiday, we try to a craft. We have done all of our phonics/reading and math practice around the Parshot.

This week we begin Five In A Row, which is a curriculum created around the concept of learning through literature. We chose to start with Madeline. Here are some of the activities we will do related to the story.

Monday Geography
Locate France on world map
Locate Paris on map of France
Show Seine river
Talk about river transport
Tuesday – LA – Vocabulary
Wednesday – Math
Grouping – use manipulatives - Madeline cutouts
Thursday – Art
Look at photos of Paris …

They have arrived

Cucumbers have arrived in our garden. I had been checking and checking but seeing essentially no progress is the development of the fruit. Yesterday we discovered some that were finally starting to develop some. While looking at these emerging fruit we found two beauties hidden deep under the vines that should have been picked at least a few days earlier. Now at least I know where and how to look for all my hidden gems.

For dinner last night we had a green salad with the last of our lettuce and the first of our cucumbers. We will not be buying any more cucumber from the store for the rest of the summer. As you can see, some one could not wait for dinner to sample the goodness.
We took out the remains of the lettuce and added in some additional tomato plants. We will see how they do. So far the count from the garden is

Lettuce ++
Spinach ++
Cucumbers ++
peas +
beans -
strawberries -
Potatoes ?

Menu Planning Monday - The In Laws are coming

My in laws will be here for Father' s Day and will be staying for about 10 days. I do not do any menu planning while they are here as my mother in law loves to cook for us. I will make Shabbat dinner since they are not Jewish and anything else would be awkward.

In preparation for their coming, we eat foods we know they won't enjoy sharing with us or we pretest things to share with them. Regardless we try to make sure we have no leftovers when they arrive.

So here is our menu this week

Monday - Pasta with Homemade Sauce
Tuesday - Dinner at the Amusement Park
Wednesday - Tofu Stir Fry
Thursday - Salmon Burgers
Erev Shabbat - Challah, Brown Sugar Salmon, Sugar Snap Peas, Rice, Keem. A neat parve cake