Showing posts from August, 2011

They are here!!!

Froggy's Shalom Ivrit books arrived today.  They look wonderful.  They are super basic and easy with a great mix of Hebrew and English.  The teachers guide is in English and walks the teacher (written for a classroom setting) through every single tiny baby step in presenting the lesson.  It is just what I need. 

I cannot wait for tomorrow morning to come so Froggy and I can jump right in. 

p.s - I promise we do subjects other than Hebrew and I will talk about them again soon. :)

More Hebrew Woes

Okay so I have officially given up on Migdalor.  Without being able to use the Teacher's Guide, I just cannot make effective use of the resources.

Yesterday I sent a letter to Berhman House asking for advice.  I am trying to decide between two of their products.  We are looking at Shalom Ivrit and Kadima  Both programs come with music, flash cards and teachers guides.  Unfortunately from the website I cannot tell any real differences between the products which makes choosing extremely difficult.

In my letter, I explained our situation and provided background on Froggy including age and ability level.  People have spoken well of the customer service they have received from the company so I am hopeful that I will receive good advice.  I need to because this is my last hope of finding a decent program.

They responded very promptly this morning and recommended Shalom Ivrit.  I have ordered it.  I hope this is the last time I have to order a first year Hebrew program.

Menu Planning Monday - 29 Av 5771

Assuming we have power ( which I think we actually will) this is our menu for the upcoming week.  I am trying lots of new recipes in hopes of getting some good ones for Yom Tov.  If they work out I will post the recipes.

Sunday - Leftover Buffet (I cooked extra before Shabbat in preparation for Irene)
Monday - Fish ala Jenn, rice, keem, green beans
Tuesday- Apple Chicken and Couscous and peas
Wednesday - Salad, Pasta with Marinara sauce, garlic bread
Thursday - Tofu Stirfry, Rice and keem
Shabbat - Challah, Tri color Gefilte Fish Loaf, Roast Chicken, broccoli, Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Cassoulet (testing out this dish as a possibility for Yom Tov.) Mint Chocolate Cake


Thank goodness we are working on learning Chumash because all of our regular Hebrew reading programs are failures.  I cannot find a single one that works well for an English speaking parent.

On the recommendation of Adventures in Mamaland, we ordered the Migdalor Program for Kindergarten.  It came just before we moved.  I pulled the teacher's guide to review and somehow lost it during the move further delaying our start.

So I finally found the teacher's guide and started going through it.  Yes parts of the guide are in English but all of the actual instruction on how to teach the program is in Hebrew.  This does not real help the English speaking parent much.  The program would probably fantastic for a Hebrew speaker or a school.  It is very detailed in how to teach. 

We have not given up on it completely and we are struggling through but neither one of us really wants to do it because it is difficult.


As of today, we are officially homeschoolers. I sent in our Notice of Intent (NOI) today.  Since Froggy is not yet six, we had the option this year of either "opting out" of school (ie saying she is not ready for Kindergarten) or submitting a NOI.  We chose an NOI since it was easier and less paperwork. 

It does not make any difference to how our year goes and we have other supervisory issues but still it feels neat to be "official" at last.

Philadelphia Zoo

The last stop on our big summer tour was the Philadelphia Zoo.  This zoo had been on our "must visit" list for several years.  The weather was scheduled to be dubious this day so we offered Froggy the option of going to the Please Touch Museum instead. Froggy chose the zoo.

The first thing we saw on entering was this super neat overhead walkways for the primates.  They wander though a great deal of the zoo. 
The best parts of the animal exhibits according to Froggy were the placards.  She loved reading about the habitats and history.

The absolute best part of the day for her though was a series of puppet shows about endangered animals.  We watched each one as we toured our way through the zoo.
She even got into the act at one point becoming a dodo bird.  The zoo held a musical parade that all the children were invited to participate in.  The parade circled the lake at the center of the zoo.
 In addition to the children and musical staff leaders, the puppets from the side shows…

Menu Planning Monday - 22 Av 5771

It is still summer but the craziness is over.  No more family visiting. No more major changes.  Now is the time for simple meals and getting back to normal.

Sunday - Salad, Pasta, Homemade Sauce, Garlic bread
Monday - Fish ala Jenn and Green beans
Tuesday-Pulled Chicken Sandwiches(freezer), Salad and corn
Wednesday - Dinner out with friends
Thursday- Pizza and Salad
Friday - Shabbat Dinner at Shul

Narration Success

We are still official on summer vacation.  But we are slowly warming up to the new school year and trying out some of our new books.  One of which is Aesop's Fables. 

Froggy has hated narration from the first time I asked her to do it.  Her perfectionism gets in her way.  She is really quite good at telling back the stories but is afraid to try because she feels she needs to tell it word for word the way I read it to her.

Here is her narration for "The Tortoise and the Ducks".  It was a spontaneous narration that became more involved as soon as she saw me taking it down. 

Paddle By The Sea

This semester Ambleside recommends Paddle By The Sea as the living book basis for Geography.  We just finished chapter three and it is going fairly well.

Froggy is enjoying the story even if she is not yet learning much Geography.  I suspect that will come as the story progresses.

We have a large laminated map on which we are tracing Paddle's route.  It does not look like much yet since in chapter 3 Paddle just finally launches into the water.

For right now we have set the stage showed the border between US and Canada and discussed the differences between states and provinces.

I found a cool pdf which gives a huge amount of background information on the area, culture and environment to go along with the story.  I really like because it gives me activities and extensions for the story, namely maps.

Missing Mom

As I write this, I sit watching my mom's yahrzeit candle burns in the window.  I went to shul and said Kaddish but it does not feel like enough.  Last year we spent lots of time remembering and sharing stories the sisters together.  This year, we all marked the day individually. 

I miss her so much.  I still pick up the phone to call her.  Froggy grows to look more and more like her each year.
This is the last picture I have of Froggy with my mom.  I try to remember her like rather than the last several weeks of her life.  The same time this picture was taken, my mom made a Build-A-Bear hippo Sophie with a soundbox for Froggy.  Froggy hugs Sophie and listens to Sovta tell her how much she loves her. 

We love you Sovta

Flower Study

So who can tell me what this flower is?  I suspect a form of Hibiscus but I am not confident.

 This is an overview of the whole plant.  It seems more bush like than shrub or tree. And here is a close of the flower in bloom.

New Routines

This week is our first week in our new home.  I have been making a considered effort to establish routines.  This is a combination of the Charlotte Mason philosophy which is guiding our homeschooling as well the more practical advice from FlyLady.

I have my personal morning routine before anyone else in the house gets up which includes walking the dog, getting both him and I some much needed exercise.  I get breakfast on the table awaiting people. 

When Froggy gets up she makes her bed, gets dressed, and we daven together.  Then we have breakfast and do school.  Then we take the dog for a short walk and begin our day specific tasks or errands. For right now this mostly involves getting unpacked, shopping or going to the park.  In the fall, Froggy's class will fall into this slot.

Then we come home, walk the dog, make dinner and do our evening chores  and chill until dinnertime. 

After dinner, we take the dog for a walk and Froggy gets a chance to play with the other children in …

Menu Planning Monday - Tish B'Av

Now is the time when many communities observe the fast of Tish B'Av and shorn meat for the 9 days prior. We have not yet added this important observance to our personal customs.

For Shabbat I ended up forgoing the safety of mashed potatoes for a new kugel recipe.  The texture was not at all what I expect of a kugel but the flavor was amazing.  Both the Daddyman and I went back for seconds.

Now for this week's menu.  Both Sunday and Monday will use leftover Shabbat Chicken
Sunday - Chicken Pesto Pasta and Green Salad
Monday - Curried Chicken salad served on a bed of salad greens with corn on the cob
Tuesday - Stirfry, rice and keem
Wednesday -Tacos with rice and beans ( I hope the kitchen will be ready enough for this level of cooking)
Thursday - leftover buffet or breakfast for supper
Friday - Challah, tomato salad, Sweet Salmon, rice, sauteed zucchini,parve chocolate cream oreo pie.

Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport was a surprise addition to our trip.  We took the afternoon to explore it rather than continuing our drive and getting sleep.  It was well worth it.  Froggy has spent more time talking and reminiscing about it than any other part of the trip. 

Mystic Seaport shows the marvelous nautical history of the Eastern Shore.  Living where we do, Colonial America through the Civil War has been easy to see but it has all been land-based, even in the great city of Boston.  In Mystic, we got to see both the good and the bad of the nautical history, from the amazing ship building capacity to the sad whaling vessels.

At the H.B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard, we were able to climb aboard Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. The all volunteer crew at the museum are working diligently to restore the ship. 
Froggy was amazed to see that they squeezed 22 crew members into the tiny forecastle.
 The figureheads were much more interesting than I expected.  It was neat to…

Shabbat is a comin.

Time marches on whether we are ready or not.  Tonight is Shabbat. We escaped the chaos last week by visiting friends. The house is full of boxes and there is no chance we will have a beautiful home for Shabbat.  Still we will have a restful Shabbat with home cooked food.  I have found the Shabbat dishes, the mixer and table pad( although not the table cloth yet).  I still have to find the candle sticks and Kiddush cup.

Tonight's menu
veggie tray with hummus
steamed broccoli
mashed potatoes
peach crisp with icecream

A Walk in the Woods

Tonight after dinner, we went for a walk / bike ride.  Froggy was supposed to be riding her bike while the grown ups and the puppy walked.  Turns out her bike is not working so everyone ended up walking.  This was a good thing though since it meant we could go "off-roading" and explore.

I knew there was a large trail system near the new house but not any details.  It turns out there is an entrance about 3 short blocks up the street. We explored the trail system one direction until just after it crossed the creek.

On our way back, we saw a deer munching near the marsh.  Once we were back in the neighborhood, Froggy asked to stop by the playground behind the house and was quickly joined by 2 different sets of neighborhood children.  She and Daddyman played there for about 40 minutes after I came in to use the restroom.

Mystic Aquarium

Today was spent in Mystic.  We started the day at the Aquarium.  The Daddyman and I went to the Aquarium here about 14 years ago and have some strong fond memories that we shared with Froggy.  We also warned her how old the memories were and that things might be different. 
 Oh man and they were different. The Beluga whales were still there. Yippee.  That was the main reason I personally wanted to go.  The exhibit was so much larger and well built.  The entire aquarium (as small as it is) is beautiful and well done.  Froggy did not like hanging out watching the beluga training with me.  It was fantastic.  They work with the three belugas (two older females and a juvenile 8 year old male) three times a day.
She had a fantastic time petting the sting rays and sharks. She would have spent all day going back and forth between the two tanks.
The Daddyman's favorite was the penguin feeding.  To his surprise, it held special memories from the first trip.


We went on a whale watching cruise.  It was not what expected surpassing all my hopes.  We left Boston Harbor at 10 in the morning on a large catamaran.  We took our places out on the bow playing bowsprites.  Froggy ate breakfast and then enjoyed the wind in her face and bouncing over the waves. 

The tour took us to Stellwagen Bank.   This is a marine sancturary that protects the whales summer feeding grounds.  All the whales here are wild and travel over 1500 miles each year to come feed here. 
This is one of the few pictures I got before the battery on my camera died. 

The whales came much closer.  There were three different groups of moms with calves.  We even got to see Venom's calf slapping his tail fluke. Here is Venom (named for the snake bite shaped marks on her fluke) breeching.  We did not see her breeching but we got quite a show from two other young males (about 5 years old) as they took turns breeching and slapping their tails.  It was very clear they were communicati…