Wednesday, June 30

Summer Reading Program

Every year since Froggy's very first summer we have participated in the summer reading program just because we could and it was fun to get free stuff. This summer is different though. This summer the goals will be much harder to reach. This summer only the books that Froggy reads herself are going on the tally sheet.

The very first book she chose is already on the list The Dino Expert. She is so excited. This book was very challenging for her with large concepts as well as words. We paused several times to discuss the concepts or what a word meant. It was also a great learning experience for her to see that even Mommy needs to sound out words sometimes.

Life is very different with an independent reader. I am no longer present for the vast majority of information input. Independent reading means independent learning. Many times now Froggy has come to us spouting new information she has gleaned from her Totally Amazing books. It means that more information can go in on a wider variety of topics. It also means I need to be more cautious about the books that come into the house. I can no longer do editing on the fly and must preread all books at the library because I never know when they will be read if they come home.

It also means that I am looking for more books that provide learning opportunities. This week lots of Math books came home. The absolute favorite is How High Can a Dinosaur Count by Valorie Fisher. Froggy has not been interested in doing any of the problems that I am aware of but she has asked for the book multiple times and I have seen her reading it on her own.

Much to my dismay, we ended our interlude with Laura and Mary Ingalls and returned to play with Annie and Jack. Froggy is chewing through these books with a voracious speed limited only by the fact that she chooses not to read them to herself so must wait for a parent to be available and willing. I got both Pirates Past Noon and Night of the Ninjas at the library on Wednesday figuring that would last the week but both books will be done before Havdalah. If I could translate her love for these stories into a willingness to even listen to the research guides I would be much happier.

Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday ,Feed Me Books Friday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns,

Tuesday, June 29

Beach Musings

We go to the beach often, at least twice a year and more if we can manage it. This year, due to some unexpected but very much enjoyed company, we ended up delaying our trip by a day and resorted to staying in a hotel rather than camping.

We stayed right on the boardwalk which made for a very different trip than camping on the dunes out in the wild. We were right in the center of everything which meant lots of excitement and lots of people and lots of opportunities.

Every day we went for a morning bike ride on the boardwalk. Froggy rode a little training wheel bike for at least part of each ride after the first. She rode longer and longer each day until she did probably close to two miles the last day. This from the kid who would not even ride five feet at home. We decided that her success at the beach earned her a bike back home that really fits her.

After the bike ride we made our trek down to the waters edge. Despite having a room just a short walk away we looked like pack mules as we trudged down to the water with the umbrella, cooler, blanket, chair and toys. But we made it worth it. We stayed and played for hours. We went for shell walks. For the first time ever Froggy was willing to walk in the surf even when the waves tugged at her ankles.

Froggy played in the sand digging and making sand angels and driving her trucks. She even went down to the waters edge on her own to fetch water for her mud pies. According to Froggy the best part of the whole trip was getting buried in the sand then making Froggy-quakes. An old favorite but apparently still very much enjoyed.

The best part for me was jumping with the waves with DH and Froggy. This is the first year she has been willing to come out and play in the waves with us. This is also the first year she had goggles which make all the difference to a little person. She taunted the waves when she made it over and took it like a trooper when she did not. She was even ok when Daddy warned her they were going to duck under rather than try to get over.

It was fun being on the boardwalk and riding bikes all over. It was fun to try something new. Personally though I will be glad to go back to camping and to the quiet and solitude and ability to commune with nature that Assateque offers us even if it means lots more work for me.

Monday, June 21

Menu Planning Monday - Beach edition

Monday -
Tuesday - Ravioli and salad.
Wednesday - Leave for the beach - Tuna Burgers cooked at home
Thursday - Pasta with sauce (made at home) and a salad maybe garlic bread
Friday- Challah (storebought), marinated grilled chicken, broccoli,
Saturday - burgers, corn, green beans

Tuesday, June 15


This past Sunday Froggy had her ballet recital. She was so thrilled. It was her very first time ever on stage. All the girls had to wear makeup and that was quite an amazing privileged for Froggy in her opinion. She loved her costume which in my opinion was probably the least attractive of the entire collection.

There was a dress rehersal on Saturday evening during which time each class got to practice their dance on the big stage with the lights and everything. Froggy was so thrilled to be on stage that she forgot a good amount of her dance.
It was during this time that Froggy and I actually got to watch the other dancers. Froggy is still in love with the idea of being a ballerina and seeing the big girls dance and talking to them was probably her favorite part of the entire recital. We stayed at the dress rehersal until the very end so that we could watch the multi-class production of Peter and the Wolf. It was fun and well done. Froggy was mesmerized. The dancers really conveyed the story with their movements and expressions. Froggy reacted to the fear of the duck and the anger of the wolf in a way I did not expect.
Froggy tells me frequently that she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up and she dances around the house but she never practiced her dance and it showed when she was on stage for her production but she did not care. She had a great time being on stage. She was so proud of herself and so puffed up with her own self importance.

During the actual recital I was a back stage helper and stayed with the girls back stage during the entire performance expect for Froggy's number. As we were delivering the class to the teacher backstage the director reminded the teacher to hold onto them because it was going to go pitch black during the number right before theirs. I freaked afraid of the terror at the unexpected darkness. I worried needlessly. All the girls did fine. Everyone was cool and all made it onto stage with no drama.

I wish her grandparents had been here to see her recital but their schedule is so busy particularly the early summer that even two months advance notice is not enough for them sometimes. We could not do the recital last year when my mom and grandmother would have still been here to see the pictures and video (I can't take good video so I am still waiting for the professional one from the studio) so I am sharing them with you all instead and just dedicating it to them.
See Mommom she knows all the names of the steps even if she cannot memorize a full dance yet. I know you are watching from Heaven and proud of her. We miss you.

Froggy at Fencing

For the first time ever, Froggy is participating in one of the county's summer camp programs. These are week long classes on different topics. Froggy chose fencing because two of her friends are doing it as well. She went to the first class yesterday. Turns out she had absolutely no idea what she was getting herself into.

Her first question to the coach is "why are we hitting each other with these things"? I am not sure he answered that well but I can tell you he explained well the forms and rules of fencing. She knows it is a saber and that you get bonus points for backing your opponent up across the line.


She had an amazing time and is psyched to go back. We will see what kind of demon I have created come the end of the week.

Monday, June 14

Menu Planning Monday June 14-20

My menu planning is really rough right now. I am afraid to try anything new for dinners because it is mission critical that Froggy eats well at dinner since that is right before swim practice and she needs the full belly to make it through. It used to be the best time to try new foods because if she did not eat a big dinner it did not matter she could make it up at her bedtime snack. Now all the dinners have to be enticing to her or it is a problem. bleah :(

Monday - Pizza (which we missed having last week) and Salad
Tuesday - Tacos, refried beans and rice
Wednesday - Chicken nuggets, oven fries and salad
Thursday - TofuStir fry rice and keem
Friday - Challah, steak,salad and grilled corn homemade Icecream sandwiches (these were a big hit last time)

Sunday, June 13

A Seperate Peace

Havdalah is Hebrew for "Seperation". It is also the ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat and separates it from the rest of the week. Much of Judaism is about being seperate and different. It is not wrong or bad to be different all the time.

We have marked time Jewishly as much as possible since Froggy's arrival. We want her to celebrate her Judaism and see her difference as gifts rather than burdens. Yet as she got older I worried more and more about how different she would feel and how hard it would be for her. So I sought out more Jewish friends and tried to make her not feel different more than necessary and in doing so I forgot the specialness of being separate.

Swim Team provided me with an unexpected moral dilemma and a chance to grow. When I signed Froggy up for swimming I could not believe how lucky I was that none of the practices were on Shabbat once school let out. I was amazed that they would choose to have a Sunday night practice rather than anything on Saturday. Silly me I did not question why. It turns out the reason for the practice schedule is that all the meets are on Saturdays.

After much debate and some surprisingly vehement opinons from my husband, we have decided that for this summer at least she will not compete. We will towards the end of the season attend one of the meets as spectators and cheer on her friends.

One of Froggy's teammates questioned her at departure on Thursday when Froggy gave the parting remark "See you on Monday." as to why she would not be at the meet. Froggy with enthusiam and pride replied "It's Shabbat" With that attitude from her I could not bring myself to confuse her with even the suggestion that she might want to compete.

Froggy has joy in the separation and distinctness of her identity and I am reveling in that joy.

Friday, June 11

What We Are Reading

It is still a new strange feeling to be much less in control of the reading that is going on with Froggy. We go to the library and she has her own definite opinions. Luckily for me she has been interested again in Little House on the Prairie and we are once again able to follow Laura as she they settle into their new home.

Froggy received King Solomon and the Bee in the mail this week thanks to PJ Library. We picked it up on the way out of the house and she read part of it to me in the car. It sparked an interest in an old favorite, And Shira Imagined, also from PJ Library which Froggy has read to me multiple times this week. To me it was a wonderful statement on her culture rather than ability that she was able to read "kibbutz" with no problem by struggled with construction. Rereading And Shira Imagined was fun for a variety of reason first because Froggy read it to us rather than us to her. Now that she is reading it, she is also focusing more on the book and going slower through it, which consequently provided more depth and discussion. We talked about King David and the history of Masada and the differences in many of the cases between what Shira is imagining and what actually happened. It also prompted more imaginative play from Froggy (I didn't think that was possible :) ) Giora Carmi is both author and illustrator and the pages are a wonderful contrast between styles.

Some of the other independent reading favorites this week have been My Tooth is About to Fall Out and Just Try It. Several of Froggy's friends have started losing their baby teeth and Froggy is obsessed with the concept which is unfortunate in that Froggy is not likely to have a visit from the tooth fairy for probably close to a year or more. Just Try It is about a young boy who finally learns to try vegetables. Veggies in specific are not our problem but trying new things in general is hard with Froggy and this book seemed to make her more comfortable with the idea.

We also came back to Fancy Nancy. Somehow despite having read many of these books, we had missed the original. I read it to Froggy once and then it became a book for her to read. When I was first introduced to Fancy Nancy I was extremely against the series and products. I am not sure why now. The books are great for introducing vocabulary. They are particularly wonderful for a whole word learner like my daughter. And so she wants to be "fancy" who cares. If it means she is learning new words and skills I am all for it.

Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday ,Feed Me Books Friday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns,

Wednesday, June 9

Geography - Welcome Central America

This is week 2 of our North America map study. I was completely surprised when Froggy was able to label three out of the four countries we had put on the initial map. It shows that this process really does work. We added some of the Central American countries and colored them in. I did the coloring. To me it was critical that they be colored because they were so tiny I was concerned that Froggy would not be able to distinguish which was which without the color. And there was no way that she could accurately color them herself.

Froggy was very curious about how they got their names which caught me off guard since she has never questioned where the name for our country came from. So we talked about Spanish and friends we know who speak Spanish and why they speak Spanish. And we read a few Dora books.

Tuesday, June 8

Art Box - I Can Sew

I have been working on designing a dress for myself for a few days now so it should not have come as any surprise to me when Froggy asked if she could sew something too. I quick whipped her up a managable project.

I had planned to cut it out for her so that she could focus on sewing and maybe get enough done to see progress before she got frustrated. She was heartbroken when I told her that so she cut it out too. She did an amazing job cutting it out and asked for help only once and only for a tiny section.

I gave her a tapestry needle and two strands of embroidery floss. She sat in my lap and I held her hand and walked her through the first couple of stitches. After that she happily went to town sewing.
She did not finish the project. There was no project I could make that would have been small enough to be expected to be done in one sitting and yet big enough for her hands to hold and manage comfortably. Finishing it was not the goal. The practice at fine motor skills and being creative were the goals.

Monday, June 7

Menu Planning Monday June 7-14

Last week's menu plan did not work. But I knew that was likely to be the case. Luckily swim team now moves to 7pm for the rest of the summer so we can eat dinner at a reasonable hour and as a family. The bonus of the week was our Shabbat dinner. Instead of salmon we had tilapia using a new recipe from a friend. It was a super hit with the grown ups. Froggy was not willing to taste it so she missed out. It was so good we will be having it again this week.

Monday - Sloppy Joes tator tots and peas
Tuesday -Asian Chicken Noodle Salad (This salad is a full meal in a dish)
Wednesday - Kids over - Salad and Homemade pizza.
Thursday - Salmon Quesedillas refried beans and salad
Friday- Challah Grilled Chicken pasta salad and broccoli melted icecream cake with Marshmallow frosting

Someone asked previously what Keem is. I replied in comments but she was not able to see that so I thought I would put it here as well. It is dried seaweed similar to Sushi wrappings but cooked more so it is crispier. Keem in the Korean name for it. I believe they have an identical product in Japan with a Japanese name

Sunday, June 6

Harvest Day

Today was harvest day at the Landing. I picked the last of our lettuce and spinach and took in all of the chard. This marks the end of the greens for us until the Fall. I also topped all the basil plants which netted me quite a bit of basil. Bits of it will be added to the salads to kick them up. Lots will go in the pasta sauce and the rest will be for lunches.

The big haul from the day though was the cherries. We have a sour cherry tree in the front yard. Despite living in this house over 4yrs, this is the first year we have harvested them for our own use. I will make a cherry pie with some of them but have lots I still need to figure out what to do with.

This is the first year for lots of plants. All of the following are firsts. We have two cantaloupe and one watermelon which are still growing and do not look sick but are still tiny. We have an acorn squash (featured last week) that has now blossomed and shows teeny tiny baby squashes.

We have harvested our first zucchini last week and many more are coming. The beefstake tomatoes are growing nicely in their newly reinforced cages and show lots of tomatoes. The grape tomatoes look like they are doing well and have a few flowers but no tomatoes at all yet. The pepper plants are not dead yet but they are not thriving at all.

The potatoes are now four tires tall and have been buried as high as I am willing to bury them. The instuctions say to keep burying them all summer long even after they start to flower. If I did that I would not be able to reach to fill it with dirt. I will let them go from here and see what happens. This is a new technique for us and the potatoes are already under lots more dirt than they were last year.

Geography - Charlotte Mason Style

We finally started Map Study. It took awhile to get up and running because I wanted to find just the right Atlas to refer to during our work. I had thought a Children's Atlas would be best and really liked this one. But we ended up going with this one from the adult section because it was available without mail order. The key to me was showing both the physical map of the region as well as the political map and then breaking down the regions into countries with the political and physical regions within that country.

As planned we started with North America because that is home to us. Froggy was not able to identify anything on the blank map initially but I expected that and made sure she was not disappointed in herself. Alaska was tricky. She wanted it to be a country of its own. We looked at the colors on the map and I explained how map makers use color to show differences and similarities and a light bulb went off. "It is my country" Yes. I also pointed out Hawaii which initially went unnoticed. I wanted her to color the countries on her map but she would not.

The most significant change we will make before continuing map study is enlarging the blank image. I revised our selection of blank maps and we ended up using this one because it printed out bigger than the others but it was still too small to label well. If I had prepared better I would have enlarged it before giving it to her but next week will be better.

Friday, June 4

What We Are Reading

I realized this week that I am reading much less to Froggy these days. I still read to her in the morning and at bedtime everyday but the "Lets spend an hour curled up on the couch while Mommy reads to me" in the middle of the day is long gone. I don't know if it is more related to move away from Winter or the move toward independent reading since they happened so close together.

Froggy has really enjoyed reading to herself and reading to me this week. Many of her favorites are books written for beginning readers. Our library has several different series and they vary dramatically in the difficulty level and in the quality. The losers (from my perspective- Froggy liked them all) were Big Bird's Copycat Day, A New Roof, and I Can Help.

But the winners were I'm Not Scared and The Tooth Fairy.

I'm Not Scared is a cute story about two boys who take turns sharing what they are not scared of. Until at the end they are scared and run and climb into bed with the dad. The pictures are bright and the text is repetitive without being condescending.

The Tooth Fairy is Froggy's pick. I cannot stand it. This would be an example of the condescending text I'm Not Scared succeeds in avoiding. It was hard not to gag while Froggy read it to me. But it did let us talk about the Tooth Fairy who is coming to visit many of her friends.

A big surprise in the independent reading catagory - Totally Amazing Sea Creatures. This book is not written for emergent readers. It is more geared to the 9-12 crowd. It has an even-handed mix of cartoon drawings and photographs. I think the "teen speak" style of language holds much of the appeal for Froggy. She does not read it like a story but she takes it with her every where and will periodically decide to read a paragraph to us to share the neat interesting trivia contained therein. I love this book and have two more in the series waiting for her when this one runs to the end of its life.

Like I said earlier we still do read to her. Froggy's most requested is Far Far Away by John Segal, one she picked for herself at the library. We seem to be running a pig preference lately. The story is told through a conversation complete with different fonts between the protagonist and his mother as the young pig threatens to run away. The mother's sweet calm demeanor is cute. I like the illustration style which is colorful without being overwhelming.

The other big winner is one I picked. It is another Jane Yolen masterpiece. We love all her books. Somehow we had missed The Flying Witch until now. In it a young girl uses her wits to escape Baba Yaga. While Baba Yaga appears in many stories and looks different in each tale I was amazed to see her house look exactly the same as in Grandma Chicken Legs.

Come join the reading blog hop over at ReadAloud Thursday ,Feed Me Books Friday and Mouse Grows Mouse Learns,

Thursday, June 3

Swim Team

ok so it is really happening. Froggy is on a swim team. She is a constant source of delight and amazement to me. I am so proud of her.

She is the youngest person on the team by a good bit and at least a full head shorter than anyone else. While this may not matter much in lots of places it is making life challenging for her as she tries to keep up.

Her biggest challenges have come mainly because this is her first encounter with a large group organized activity. She is struggling to hear and understand the coach. She gets lost in the crowd and pushed around.

She is doing great. The coach was amazed that such a little person could keep up. She offered Froggy several modifications that she did not need.

Wednesday, June 2

The Art Box - A Self Portrait

It seems that lots of times, Art works better with Froggy if there is a purpose beyond the creation of something. This unit of our Hebrew study is Parts of the Body. So we made a Froggy and labeled her.

Froggy lay down on the craft paper while I traced around her. I drew a face on her because I wanted to be sure all the parts of the face would be identifiable for labeling.

Then it was Froggy's job to give her clothes as I labeled body parts. Froggy wanted nothing to do with it whatsoever while it was on the floor. I managed to convince her to add some hair.

But once I hung it on the wall and gave her paint pens rather than markers she was willing to do some independently.
She went back and traced her work with the paint pen still in her hand creating a neat double image effect.

I am hoping that as the unit continues she will add more to the artwork as I add more labels to girl.

Tuesday, June 1

Setting Up School

I finished our curriculum review and finally have at least some goals for the upcoming school year. But now the issue is how do we get that to actually happen. Judaica and Math will happen every day. Science, Geography, Art/OT, and Music Appreciation will happen one day each week.

To help me, I created a file system. The idea came from Dawn. She uses file folders but I am using duotangs instead so that the folder for each can easily travel with us. We do much of our schooling on the road and I need her stuff to travel well. I will use a folder for each week and a hanging file for each month. The reason to have everything laid out in the beginning is to mark the double parsha weeks as well as file the holiday stuff where it should be. Geography, Art and Music all work as multi-month units so this helps me plan them out and organize them.

The plan is that no later than Friday morning before Shabbat I can lay out the upcoming week using this template. The folder will give me a place to lay out the craft ideas as I find them, a place to store pictures and maps for Art and Geography.

Menu Plan June 1 - 5

Okay so I am a day late. Can I take a bye since it was a holiday yesterday?

Swim Team starts this week and meets right at dinner time which is throwing the Mommy for a big time loop. I have created a tenative plan but I expect it to get tossed to the wind as we adjust to our new schedule.

Tuesday - Tofu Stirfry, rice and Keem
Wednesday - some sort of cold supper salad
Thursday - pizza with homemade sauce and salad
Friday - Challah, Salmon, rice, green beans and something cool for dessert.