Wednesday, November 30

Welcome Winter

We packed up our Autumn decorations this week.  Froggy asked
Froggy - "what we were going to replace them with".
Ima - Our Hanukkah and Winter decorations. 
Froggy - "And what will go in place of our Turkey?  Snowmen?
Ima - "We don't have any snowmen"
Froggy ' " So we can make them"
 And so we did. The original plan for their creation was styrofoam balls.  However when Froggy started selecting the balls the snowman became too big to be reasonable.  We finally decided on polymer clay.  
Froggy did most of the creation herself with just the slightest bit of guidance from me.
We made a cute family, Ima, Abba, and child.  The child turned out bigger than anticipated but still cute. 
 To end our day,  we enjoyed some snowman cookies and read Making A Friend a truly sweet story about a young girl making friends with a snowman.

Daisy Can Do!


It took a long time and some serious work but we finally got our Daisy troop up and running.  The troop meets at our Shul and is all Jewish so there is no conflict regarding Shabbat. 

The girls all know each other for the most part but there are also some cliques.  So we played Daisy to Daisy and some other games.  
  
The girls also made Daisy Buddies to use in our Kaper Chart.  
Even though most of the girls are in First Grade, they are new to scouting.  We learned about the Girl Scout Promise and starting learning the Law.  We closed our meeting with the Friendship squeeze.  I love passing on traditions to a new generation.  

Monday, November 28

Multiples

We are still working our way through our Singapore book.  But sometimes variety is the spice of life.  We were driving back from Thanksgiving in Tennessee and Froggy interrupted her video to play teacher and give us a math quiz.  Since multiplication figured prominently in the quiz I decided to revisit our skip counting sticks

Froggy played with the sticks for a bit and then I showed her how they related to what we call multiplication.  We laid out the sevens (since that was the group featured most prominately in our quiz). Then I took the exact problem she had given me (7*7) and turned it back on her.  I explained that the first number tells her which picture/bundle to pull out.  Then the second number shows her how far in to go. We counted seven sticks in to find the answer. 

It was so fun to see the light in her eyes.  She laid out all her sticks and did problem after problem laughing at how easy it was.  As a fun end to the day we watched the sevens from Schoolhouse rock.  I didn't remember it as well as the fives so I had to show her that one as well. 

Menu Planning Monday - 2 Kislev 5772

I wish I could say that my menu this week used some of the great recipes in this month's Kosher Kooking Karnival.  Not yet.  Maybe next week or maybe I will include some of the in our game day feast.  You should check it out.  It is full of amazing dishes.  

Sunday - Chili (making extra to take to another family), cornbread and salad
Monday -Sticky Chicken, parsnip chips and green beans
Tuesday - Chicken Noodle Soup (using leftover sticky chicken) and biscuits. (trying out the modifications)
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - tacos
Friday - Shabat dinner at Synagogue

Sunday, November 27

Ch Ch Changes

We do some really amazing experiments at Learning Club.  The only serious problem is that we get so lost in the experiments all the parents forget to take pictures. 

We are finishing up our study of Ancient Egypt.  In doing so we also started our study of chemical reactions and the changes they can cause. 

To get us in the groove, we investigated some physical changes like dissolving one substance in another.  To show that a physical change means the change can be undone, we made rock candy,  The kids did all the work, measuring, pouring, stirring, all the while thinking and making connections.  They saw the sugar disappear and the water become totally clear again.  One of the neat moments was when one of the children pointed out how much the level of the water had risen.  Then we saw how the sugar comes back out in the candy.

Then we made glue.  Did you know you can make glue from vinegar and milk?  I certainly did not before this year.  It is similar to the process that the Ancient Egyptians used to create glue from the bones of their kills. We got the experiment from our text but  Zoomkids also has a version.  There are two different chemical reactions within the experiment.  The first is when the vinegar separates the curd from the whey in the milk.  The kids were amazed to watch the curds form. It was very easy to see that it could not go back to milk.  Then you add the baking soda to the curds and the second reaction occurs forming the glue. 

Then the children had tons of fun creating collages with their own glue.  It was tons of fun.

Friday, November 25

What Mama is Reading

I read quite a bit but don't share much of it here.  However my two latest are special, most notably because they are non-fiction. 

The first is Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility.  Abba and I both read the original version back when Froggy was a tiny bit.  Since our persective and needs had changed I thought it was time for a reread, especially since the authors has updated the book.  The book is an easy read with engaging antidotes.  It is written from a Christian perspective but applicable to any person who wants to raise a mensch
We chose this model of parenting because it complemented our beliefs and worked well with Attachment Parenting.  It is based on love and all actions are done in a calm, loving manner.  Some of the suggestions seemed silly to me especially the first time I read it before I was dealing with the situations but unlike many other discipline books none ever seemed to harsh for me.
The basic concept of the entire method is choice and consequences.  It is about allowing the child to own their own mistakes and to reap the unpleasant consequences of their bad choices.  This is how the child learns responsibility.  The goal is to have the child learn to make good choices while the consequences are still small rather than as a young adult when the consequences are substantial.  
In the week or so since I have finished my refresher course, I have improved ability to parent effectively and seen an amazing increase in Froggy's attempts to be responsible as well as a significant decrease in the battles between Froggy and myself.  

The second book is The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz.  I was introduced to the book through my book club at shul.  The concept was intriguing, since like most families that try to be observant but do not live within a walled community, we struggle with outside influences running contrary to our vision of Shabbat. 
The book was extremely hard to start.  It reads like a doctorate dissertation.  I continued to slog my way through and am very grateful that I did.  
The book explores the historical changes in Shabbat from different perspectives.  It was fascinating to see the development of the Sunday sabbath within Christianity.  The book is extremely well researched with a detailed bibliography. I learned a lot of history through reading this.  I would love to talk with an observant Christian who has read the book to get their perspective on the accuracy.  There are several places in her description of Jewish theology and practices where she oversimplifies things or overgeneralizes.  

Wednesday, November 23

Thankgiving Fun

We spent the last week doing tons of fun Thanksgiving activities.  I had hoped to post them as we did them but lost track of time.
 First we made pilgrim paperdolls to act out the story or just play with. Froggy colored the clothes in some very interesting colors.  I love that she if finally trying to write words on her own.
 


Next we turned our Halloween pumpkin into a Thanksgiving turkey.  It was a whole family project.  The directions suggest gluing the feathers onto the pumpkin but we wanted something more durable so we put them on craft sticks and stuck them into the pumpkin.  That was Abba's job.  He sharpened the sticks so they would go in. 


We also made Turkey Crispies to enjoy with our story time.  Froggy actually wanted to help make them this time.  We used a hand cookie cutter to shape them and a cinammon jelly bean for the face.  They are not half as cute as Little Wonder Days.  But the family still liked them.  We are going to try the donut turkeys for Thanksgiving Day breakfast.
We enjoyed the treats with some of our Thanksgiving books.  We did not do as many different books this year as others.  We read The Thanksgiving Story to start us out and a new fun book, Turkey Pox at Froggy's request.  We kept coming back to Thanksgiving on Thursday due to Froggy's insistence.  She even picked up the Research Guide which has sat on her shelf for ages awaiting interest. 

Saturday, November 19

Family Game Time

As the season's change, the tone of our Shabbat changes.  Daylight Savings Time makes a stark shift in the leisure parts of holiday.  In summer we have a long leisurely afternoon and evening after services before Havdalah.  In winter, we get home from Shul, take a nice family walk and then it is almost time for Havdalah. 

In the peak of summer, we push dinner as late as possible then light candles early and head off to bed.  In winter, we light candles, sing songs and play for a bit before having an early dinner.  This winter, we have found a new Shabbat joy for the quiet Shabbat evenings.  We play games as a family.

Froggy has taken enthusiastically to all the games we have introduced.  The first was Streetcar.  It is a rail-building strategy game.  It is what I call a "book shelf cardboard game" which means it is full of cardboard pieces you use as you play.  The pieces are not as tiny as some of Abba's game so Froggy was able to handle them but it is not my ideal.  It took her about half the game to catch on but she enjoyed it enough to choose it again the following week.

Last night we introduced a new game at my insistence (Froggy would have chosen Streetcar again).  This time we played Carcassonne. It is a game recommended by lots of our friends as a game the whole family can enjoy for the long term. It is another strategy building type game.  It is a much longer game than Streetcar.  As well, the strategy is much more complicated with more choices and conditions to consider.  I don't think Froggy understood the game as well but she hung in there and seemed to enjoy herself.  She will grow in and with the game.  I would enjoy the game much more Streetcar so she will get lots of chances to practice and learn. 

The final game I want to mention is one Froggy specifically asked for, Apples to Apples.  They have it available at Shul for the kids to play while waiting for services to start or after Kiddush.  Froggy has not played there but was sufficiently taken with it to make a request.   We have the Disney version but can't play it at home since you have to have at least four players.  We are taking it with us to my sister's for Thanksgiving and will play it then.  It is word play game rather than a strategy game so it should be quite a different experience.

Friday, November 18

A New Online Reading and Math Program

Just as I became interested in finding some new math games for Froggy, I learned about K5 Learning from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Thursday, November 17

Chocolate Charlotte Rousse


I am trying a new dessert this week, Chocolate Charlotte.  I have been looking for desserts that keep well and since this needs to be frozen for at least 4 hours before serving, it fits the bill perfectly.  Dream Whip is KD but I checked the ingredient list and I think we will be ok with it.  I think it is probably KD because of cross contamination level stuff rather than actual ingredients.  Still since it is KD we are having salmon for Shabbat.

Ingredients
  • 24  ladyfingers (2 (3-ounce) packages)
  • 1/4  cup  KahlĂșa (coffee-flavored liqueur)
  • 1  (2.6-ounce) box whipped topping mix (such as Dream Whip)
  • 1 1/2  cups  cold fat-free milk, divided (I used Coconut Milk)
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4  cups  sifted powdered sugar
  • 1  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 2  (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened ( I used Tofutti brand)

Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Brush cut sides of ladyfinger halves with KahlĂșa; arrange, cut sides up, in bottom and up sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Cover with plastic wrap.
Prepare whipped topping mix according to package directions using 1 cup cold milk and vanilla extract.
Combine sugar and cocoa. Beat sugar mixture and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (mixture will not be completely smooth). Add 1/2 cup milk to cream cheese mixture; beat well. Gently fold in whipped topping. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.

Wednesday, November 16

King Alfred

This week, our Ambleside history takes us out of Ancient Rome and up to the North Sea.  Froggy got to meet King Alfred and the Beggar and the British Royal Family.  Since we are not reading Our Island Story, this is her first encounter with the Royal Family. 

Froggy of course loved the story. She acted out her narration with full theatrical gusto playing the beggar, Alfred and the voice in the dream.  She understood the story as a story but totally missed any connection to history.  So we went and looked at the map.  We checked out Denmark and England and the North Sea.  We traced the path of characters as the story progress is and then I read her the brief biography of Kign Alfred the Great from here.

Monday, November 14

Menu Planning Monday - 17 Cheshvan 5772

The winner from last week is the 7-UP biscuits.  They turned out much lighter and fluffier than any biscuit I have ever made before. The whole family loved them and they were super easy to make.  I am still tweaking the recipe. I want to try a lighter oil than my olive oil. I also need to turn the biscuits in the oil coating both sides next time.   And I can probably get away with a bit less oil.

Sunday - Fish ala Jenn, rice and peas
Monday - Turkey Tetrazzini (actually making it with leftover Shabbat chicken)
Tuesday - Kasha Varnishka
Wednesday - Pasta, homemade sauce, salad and garlic bread
Thursday - Dinner Out after swimming.
Shabbat - Challah, Sweet Salmon, Rice, Keem, roasted brussel sprouts and a Chocolate Charlotte
 (this is an experiment - we will see how it goes)

This is the last menu for a couple of weeks since we are travelling for Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 13

Another year older

We get family portraits done every year.  We try to do them around Froggy's birthday but are a bit late this year.  Here are a few of our favorites from the most recent session.




Friday, November 11

Shabbat Menu

Apparently when I originally did my menu this week, I forgot all about dessert for Shabbat.  I revised the menu and added dessert. 

So here is what we have
Challah - already rising on the counter
Sticky Chicken - currently sitting in the crockpot.  It is delicious even better than my roast chicken recipe but it does not look as pretty when served.
Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes - this is a test of a better for you, less cloying version of the sweet potato casserole traditional at Thanksgiving.
Steamed Broccoli
And for dessert Swiss Cake Roll - We have not had it in ages.  It is currently baking.  I will make the roll later this afternoon. As I said in the original post it is perfect for Pesach if you can do dairy and have the right equipment.  It is a bit fussy but it is faster than any dessert I have ever made. This time we are using Rich's Whipped Topping rather than the silken Tofu.  I don't know if they have a KP version so I don't know if it will work for Pesach.

What We Are Reading

It has been awhile since I did one of these.  Froggy's reading has changed lately.  We still check out lots of picture books from the library but the books she picks up over and over again are chapter books.  Her favorite for the moment is Betsy TacyShe received this book as a gift ages ago.  I tried to read it to her but she was not interested enough to retain memory from one session to the next.  Now she reads it by herself.  We only have the first in the series but I have requested the next couple from the library.

We are listening to the classic Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie.  This version answers so many of the things I did not understand or did not like about the Disney version.  The language is so rich and wonderful which also translate to complex. It made it challenging for Froggy to get into initially.  She loves it now though and is eager for it to continue.  There are times when we need to pause the story to explain some colloquialism or bit of behavior which was acceptable then but is no longer.  Froggy asked about the "red skins"  and who they are. She had never heard that term and it is not even the least offensive term they use.  It is truly scary at places but so far nothing truly tragic has happened. 

We also recently said goodbye to The Penderwicks having finished the third book.  It was sad to leave them.  It felt like an old friend moving away.


And yet we followed it up with an old favorite, The Circle of Magic, that has been waiting for Froggy to be ready.  Abba and I read the series together many many years ago and loved it.  We are already almost done with the second book (I told you it had been too long since I did a wrap up).  Each of the four books in the series focuses on one of the four children of the circle.  These books are perfect for our family read alouds because they are currently Froggy's "stretch" books.  About one week before Abba annouced we would be doing this series as our new family books, Froggy discovered them on her book shelf.  I helped her find the first one so she could start at the beginning.  The book got put aside quickly and I suspect based on her current enjoyment and interest, the reason was that it was too difficult.  We are struggling a bit with this series in that it presents some topics I had hoped Froggy would not be exposed to until later, mostly because it is poeople being mean.  Abba has over-ruled me and declared them OK since she has not expressed concern or discomfort.

Tuesday, November 8

Extracurriculars

This year has been our worst for extracurriculars. 

First, Froggy's drama class got cancelled due to lack of enrollment.  By the time it was cancelled and our other schedule changes made, it was too late to enroll her in drama anywhere else.  We are going to try again next year. 

Next to fall was Ballet.  This is the first year since she was three that she has not been in Ballet.  I suspect this is a permanent end and she will not be returning.  I am very sad to see it go by the wayside.  However Froggy is does not seem to miss it.

Swim class is a nightmare but continuing without change for the moment.  She took 5 weeks off due to the holidays and a fieldtrip.  When she started back, it was with tears and tantrums.  The second week was better with less tears and some participation but still a major battle.  I hope that getting back into the routine will make it fun again but I am concerned.

That leaves only Piano going well.  Froggy loves it and it is making visible progress which I did not think possible for a beginner, especially a young beginner.

Girl Scouts which should have started at the beginning of the year has yet to start.  I think we may finally have worked out the kinks regarding some of the roadblocks.  The first meeting is scheduled for this Sunday. I hope it really happens.

Monday, November 7

Menu Planning Monday - 10 Cheshvan 5772

Sunday - Pulled Chicken, buns, cider glazed carrots, parve mashed potatoes and a parve Peppermint Chocolate Melted icecream cake to a sick friend)
Monday -More Spider Dogs and peas.  This was such a big hit last week.  The family requested a repeat
Tuesday - Beef Barley Soup and 7 up bisquits
Wednesday - Lasagna, Garlic Bread and Salad
Thursday - Dinner Out - Mommy Meeting
Shabbat - Challah, salad, Sticky Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Cider glazed Carrots,

Sunday, November 6

Balloon Balance

While we were out wandering around, Froggy decreed that she knew the perfect experiment for us to do at home.  My interest captivated I encouraged her to explain.  It took a few iterations for me to understand what she was requesting.  She said we need to make "a balloon seesaw" which turns out to mean that she wanted to compare balloons that were blown up to different extents.  Her hypothesis was that the balloon with the most air would weigh the most. 

Luckily I had everything we needed including a brand new balance I had been waiting for just the right moment to pull out.

We first weighed two empty balloons to ensure they were all the same.
Then we blew one up just a little and weighed it.  There was only the tiniest bit of movement in the balance but it was enough to see.

Next we blew a balloon most of the way.  But we could not put it on the balance. It took lots of investigating and problem solving but we finally devised a way to weigh it without messing up the results. 

Her hypothesis was right ofcourse but proving it was a fun learning experience.

Thursday, November 3

Presents and Thank You Cards

Froggy had her birthday party this past weekend.  A wonderful result is lots of fun presents.  To my pleasant surprise, many of her friends gave her my favorite kind of present, art supplies and/or projects.

However, along with presents come thank you cards.  Last year, Froggy dictated her cards to me and I wrote them.  This year, I thought that since Froggy is now six, she should write her own thank you cards. 


Yet when I wrote out the thank you note for her to copy, the volume of writing was overwhelming, even though I had kept the language and words minimal.  It was a struggle for her to complete it in one day.

So I am left with a set of choices all of whom I do not care for. 
  1. Let Froggy dictate the cards again as she did last year. (on the positive side, the cards would be more in depth and convey more meaning) 
  2. Make a form letter and have Froggy fill in the blanks (seems unfriendly and rude to me)
  3. Push Froggy to complete one a day - (down side it will take a long time and some cards will be late)
What do you think?  What do you do with your children?

Tuesday, November 1

Halloween Wrapup

Froggy went trick-or-treating in her own neighborhood for the first time ever last night. 
She helped us get ready for all the visitors with our big bowl of candy.  We had so many children visit we emptied it twice.
I escorted her around part of the neighborhood with her friends.  Then she went around a different part with Abba.   Somehow she ended up only visiting a tiny section of her own block choosing to visit neighboring streets instead.
Then the happy wanderers came home and my little fairy took over candy distribution duty until bedtime.  I hope you enjoyed your Halloween as much as we did.

Flowing over with Fairies

I have been drowning in fairies, all kinds and all sizes. This weekend was Froggy's birthday party.  Her theme was "a flower fairy tea party"  So in the weeks leading up to it we had to make and do all kinds of fairy things. 
  I made fairy dresses and wings for both she and I.  Froggy designed the dresses herself. I had other ideas which did not sell at all as she was set on her design.
We made pipe cleaner fairies which hid in the meadow for our "fairy hunt".


We made fairy pins out of polymer clay, one for each guest, to go in their goodie bags.

As the guests arrived, they received wings and were invited to make their own wands in order to fully embrace their fairy nature.
After the fairy hunt, the fairy guests played musical flowers.  Fairies ofcourse want only the best flowers so must flit from one to another trying to decide.
Then they returned to the fairy castle for refreshments consisting of fairy fizz(punch), toadstools (strawberries), fairy wands( pretzel rods) and trees (broccoli florets).  Dessert consisted of fairy wing cupcakes.

The idea came from a wonderful series of books, Flower Fairies, Magical Doors.  It is a pop-up book of extraordinary quality.  We read it together over and over.  While there is only a limited story, it is enough to captivate completely.