Thursday, November 29

Bye Bye Bright Beginnings

For over a year and half, we have been slowly working our way through the Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook and Parsha Lech Lecha.  My only serious complaint about the book is that it only covers the first three aliyot and there is no follow up workbook.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we finally finished the workbook completing with competence and fluency the last passuk.

This week, we continued working our turtle pace through Lech Lecha with a new technique.  With this new method, we are working more on comprehension of the sentences and less on grammar since Froggy has a pretty good handle on the basics.
I copied the next passuk from this website (chosen specifically because I can cut and paste an individual passuk in a readable, editable fashion) to make her a special worksheet.  Froggy reads through it once in Hebrew without commentary or stopping.  Then we go back and work through it word by word.  All the words Froggy can easily identify/translate are colored purple.  Any names that we find are colored orange.  Next Froggy reads through it again trying to figure out 1 or 2 words she can, either from context or by identifying the shoresh.  These words are added to her personal dictionary and colored purple.  Eventually the entire passuk is colored and Froggy understands exactly what it says.

Then it is time for the next passuk. 

Wednesday, November 28

Opening Doors

The door closed with a resounding slam on Sunday.  What was supposed to be a glorious joyous step forward in my observance level, was instead a concrete harsh slam of the door in my life.  The living waters that surrounded me felt like they were choking me instead of embracing me.  This was just the last and clearest piece of sealing the old life behind me.  I look in the mirror and don't even look like the old me anymore, why should I feel the same on the inside.

I came home expecting to renew my relationship both symbolically and physically.  That did not happen, nominally due to uncooperative little people.  I suspect that it is at least as much due to people doubting my capacity.  I feel as though I am not trusted anymore because of the terrible terrible things that caused all this horror and broke reality.

Supposedly when HaShem closes a door, he opens a new one somewhere, in some fashion.  I am looking for that new door to open,.  I need it to be a door that shows the new me how to live.

Tuesday, November 27

Blowing Art

In an attempt to bring more art to our lives, I set out an Art Opportunity. It was just some watered down paints, a straw and a nice thick sheet of paper.
Froggy had an absolute blast blowing the paint around the page. 
It was really neat to see how the colors moved and blended when they touched each other.  

Monday, November 26

Menu Planning Monday - 12 Kislev

We have tons and tons of leftover turkey.  So it is the major influence on our menu this week.  What do you do with your leftover turkey?

Sunday - Turkey Noodle Soup
Monday - Pizza and Salad
Tuesday  Wushu Turkey Tacos, rice and beans
Wednesday - Fish ala Jenn, rice and peas
Thursday- Turkey Pot Pie - I make individual ones with a double crust and lots of veggies. I will make as many as we have meat for and freeze any extra
Shabbat - Challah,  Mandu, miso soup, Maple Glazed Salmon, Green beans, rice, and Swiss Cake roll

Sunday, November 25

Great Falls in the Fall

After being cooped up for so long we are getting outdoors as much as possible before the snow hits.
Over the summer we went with some friends to the Virginia side of the falls.  Now we got to view the falls from the Maryland side

 .  I like this view better because I think it gives a richer perspective with the addition of the locks
 The first stop on the hike was the aqueduct at the top of the falls.   My only complaint was there was no sign explaining its creation.  It was a nice contrast between the flat water and the raging river below.
We got to see one of the riverboats that travel the locks currently in drydock. One of the mom's on the hike said that they actually got to ride in it.  When the weather turns nice, I will investigate if it is still running.
 The high point of the hike.  The Falls themselves!  We actually got to cross out onto an island in the river which gives a great view.
 Here there were some good signs which show the development of the Falls.
Behind the sign in the above picture was this rock.  The hole is from a vortex at the base of the Falls. 
And this moment is one of the things I like most about this group.  The kids chose to sketch on their own. Froggy was really mad at me because I forgot her sketchpad. .  
This was our last stop of the day.
They have add a small museum in the old tavern

Monday, November 19

Menu Planning Monday - Thanksgiving Week

I have posted our Thanksgiving Menu separately. I still need this menu for the rest of the week to keep me sane.  Shabbat is a light but elegant menu to balance the heaviness of Thanksgiving.

Review -  The chicken and dumplings was a lose.  It was similar to Matza Ball Soup but the dumplings were gross. But the pumpkin cake was absolutely delicious. The monkey bread is good but the recipe needs some tweaking.  I would love to make a half batch.  The apples are definitely a plus.

Monday - Salad, Pasta, Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread
Tuesday - Dinner out in transit.
Wednesday - Fish ala Jenn, peas, and rice.
Thursday - Thanksgiving
Shabbat - Challah (from Freezer), Mandu, Miso Soup, Salmon, Spinach Salad, rice, keem and chocolate peppermint brownies.

A SInging Froggy

Froggy had her first concert with Kol NoVA yesterday.  It was actually two concerts.  The first just the kids and the second a couple of hours later in conjunction with the grown ups. Froggy had a great time.  She did OK in the first concert and tons better in the second one. 
They even got a chance to dance their way in for the second concert. 
 I look forward to so many more perfomances and watching her grow as an artist.

Sunday, November 18

Thanksgiving Menu

For the first time in a super long time, I will be hosting Thanksgiving.  We will have 10 people total. I am putting together a bunch of fun activities for the kids to keep them engaged all day starting with breakfast.  Froggy is working on memorizing a poem to recite. We are doing either this or this as place cards for the guests.  We will have songs and craft options like this and this and this and this (prepped in advance to be managable)

Herb Roasted Turkey - brined two days in advance.  I will use non-dairy yogurt in place of the Greek Yogurt
homemade cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes
Stuffing (two batches, one made in the bird and one vegan)
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
green bean casserole (parve) - From Auntie Fawn
Roasted Cauliflower and Delicata Squash with Spinach
Pumpkin pie - From Auntie Fawn
Apple Pie

Thursday, November 15

Zoo with Abba

For our fieldtrip this week, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and a day off for Abba to take a family trip to the zoo.  The new American Trail opened Labor Day and I have been waiting impatiently to go ever since.
  For our family, any trip to the zoo starts with a visit to the big cats.  The tiger was much more active than usual This was good since the lions did nothing but sleep.  Still how often do you get to see a whole family of lionesses

As we watched them sleep, this little guy came to visit.  I have no idea what he is other than an insect but he was fun to watch.
Froggy unexpectedly got to pet a donkey who was out for his morning stroll. 
And on to the new trail.  It took some winding past abandoned habitats to find the proper section (we took a wrong turn) but finally we made it.  And we were well rewarded.  The seals were our first stop and pretty lame.  The sea lions came next and more than made up for it. 
Since the early days of our relationship, sea lions have been special to Abba and I so it was a double bonus.  We spent a huge block of time watching this guy and his buddy put on a show of their own design.  When we finally were willing to move on we discovered there were two more viewing spots where you can watch them from an underwater vantage.
We also got to see another of our Burgess friends, Paddy the Beaver.  Froggy is having a blast meeting the friends as she is reading about them. 
The otter exhibit is one of Abba's favorites.  Froggy was much more interested in their names than watching the one lone awake guy intent on breakfast.

Froggy climbed on practically every statue we passed during the day.  This path does not have nearly as many as our traditional route.  The sign in the background warns visitors that the statue is hot.  Not on a day that reaches a high of 65F.   
Our final stop was the cheetah cubs.  We saw them when they first came on exhibit at about 2months of age  and they looked like this.  We were surprised at how fast they have grown. They still act like kids but look like full grown adults now.  They stalked the children who came past the exhibit clearly hunting in their way. 

Tuesday, November 13


I love to do handcrafts.  I always have.  When I was young I desperately wanted to learn to knit, crochet, cross-stitch, anything I could.  So why on earth can I not find anything that inspires Froggy?  All of my attempts to entice her into pursing some form of handwork have all met with eager beginnings and quick frustration and disgust.

I finally decided to try again.  In an attempt to keep her motivated I did a couple of things.  First, we started a new project. It is still hand sewing just like the last time.  But this time it is going to be a matching dress to a new dress I am working on for her.  To make it even more fun for her it is part of a whole matching series.  I have a skirt in the same fabric.  The second thing I did was make the time while she is working on it special.  I am reading her Five Children and It while she sews.  I have a nice project bag for her with all her supplies and the book. 

I am not sure it will keep her going long enough to finish the whole project but she lasted longer on this project than any other thus far.

Monday, November 12


Our Torah portion this week is Toldot.  We are using Little Midrash Says as our primary resource and it is great but I want to engage Froggy more.  So I went looking for some more resources.  And I was thrilled with what I found.
We are going to make red lentil soup as a starter for Shabbat as a tribute to Jakov.  I am playing this song for Froggy.   I am also putting out the materials for Jakov and Esau puppets as an Art Opportunity.  

In my search, I found two new blogs, Torah Family Living and Torah School which will be interesting resources in the future. They are both Messianic blogs but have done lots of research and pulled together a list of activities for each Parsha.

Menu Planning Monday 27 Cheshvan

 Review - A soupy success!  Finally I have found a vegetarian soup that Abba actually liked.  The tomato spinach soup was a hit with all parties.  I need to add less orzo next time as it turns into almost a stew with the recommended amount.  I used frozen spinach because I did not feel like chopping the fresh but I think it would be much better with fresh.

Our schedule is tricky again.  Sundays now mean I am gone from early morning to supper time so whatever we have has to be something Abba can put on the table.  Tuesdays mean either dinner without Abba or dinner out (restaurant or picnic style)

Sunday - Salad and Turkey tetrazinni - From the freezer
Monday -Fish ala Jenn, Peas and rice.
Tuesday - Dinner Out
Wednesday - Chicken and Dumplings (use leftover Chicken from Shabbos)
Thursday - Salad, pasta, homemade sauce, garlic bread
Friday - Challah, Gefilte Fish Loaf, Red Lentil Soup, Blackberry Balsamic Chicken (from Saving Dinner), Roasted Brussel Sprouts, roasted red potatoes, pumpkin cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
Shabbos Morning - Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Sunday, November 11

Creative Writing

Most of Froggy's writing is copy work and dictation.  Today we tried creative writing for the first time.  Froggy loved that I asked her to do it.  Her story reflects this.  She wrote "Once upon a time, there was a young girl who hated to do school.  But then her Ima found a way to it so she liked it. And they lived happily ever after. The End"  She asked how to spell some words (upon, young) which I told her, corrected other errors herself (found) and left some silly errors (school, hapily).  She said she was adding the extra capitals in "Once Upon A Time for effect even though she knew they should not be there.

I hope to do this every week if we can do our required copy work early enough. I think it is good for her and we both loved it.

Saturday, November 10

Book! Books! Books!

I haven't posted a book review in awhile and there are so many good ones I am excited about.  First my books.

I am currently reading Raising Lifelong Learners.  It is really geared towards someone with younger children.  Still in addition to validating lots of the choices, we made with Froggy as a toddler, it does offer guidance and suggestions for the middle childhood years.  I recommend it for every parent especially homeschoolers.

The other new book I am excited about is my Interlinear Chumash.  I have struggled long and hard during services to follow along with the Torah reading.  I have had to choose, either follow the Hebrew or read the English.  Now I don't have to choose any more.  My new Chumash has the translation directly under each word so I can read both at the same time.  It will actually help me improve my Hebrew as well as making the Torah reading section of services more meaningful. 

Froggy is thrilled with a couple of new books as well.  The first came as a recommendation out of Raising Lifelong Learners.  It is The Fantastic Mr. Fox by  Roald Dalh.  One of her favorite things about it is the "songs" that are part of the text.  Other people might call them poems but Froggy insists on singing them.  When she first read it, I was not aware that there was a movie of it.  I have ordered the movie because she will enjoy seeing how other people interpret these passages.

The other special books for Froggy have come from a new (to us) version of PJ Library.  It is Sifriyat Pijama B'America,which sends the children age appropriate books in Hebrew.  It is

יוסי ילד שלי מצלה which loosly translate to Yosef the curious boy.  Thank goodness for Ms. G. because she is reading these books to us.  This is our second from Sifriyat Pijama.  It is the first that I was able to follow along with and understand partially without her translating. 

Thursday, November 8

Living Science

We went on a fieldtrip to the "Dinosaur Museum" aka the Natural History Museum.  Most of the time we go on a fieldtrip of any sort I am content to just let the learning happen.  This time I took the opportunity to encourage a bit.  We have been learning tons about Order Rodentia in our Burgess Book.  So I suggested we start our adventures in the Mammal room where they have some exhibits on various rodents. 
 We s
This is probably what Johnny Chuck looks like when he sleeps the ":big sleep"
 "Who is he?  I bet he is a close cousin to Peter Rabbit."
 Thanks to my new start point,we got to see other new exhibits including an origins of Man exhibit with cave paintings.
 But soon everyone was clamoring for "whales" and we headed over to the Ocean exhibit. 
Our friends took us to their favorite exhibit, a new one for Froggy who never makes it off the first floor.
 It was all about insects.  They all curled up in a mockup of a honeycomb.
 And got to touch a really neat looking catepillar
 And see the pupa stage which actually moved and looked alive
 After lunch we came back and went in the Butterfly exhibit.  It was hot and loud but all the girls had fun
 They all wanted to be the first to be selected as a landing pad. Froggy won.  I did not get a picture because she spooked and scared it off.
They had tons of fun trying to identify the butterflies.  I am not sure we did very well but the tried really hard.

Wednesday, November 7

Obstacle Course

Froggy loves to move.  And I love that by homeschooling, we can allow her to learn and still move.  Many days when the weather is nice, we have done school outside with Froggy playing on the equipment as we learn.

When I first went on bedrest, school became very challenging because Froggy was not moving enough. So we set up obstacles courses for her to do between math problems.  She loved it and it removed a battleground from school. 

Today we used it during narration time. It worked even better than I had dreamed of.  Her narration (when she decides to do them) are often good.  This made it great.  She kept searching for more details and things to add so she could do more loops.

Monday, November 5

Menu Planning Monday 20 Cheshvan

Review - Ms. G and I liked the corn chowder although next time it needs more seasoning.  It got completely eaten up for lunches so that is a really good sign.  Abba complained about it because it had no meat but he did have for lunch at least once.  It will make a reappearance for sure. 

We did not end up having either the tacos or the stirfry so they are back again on this week's menu.  Also I ended up revising our Shabbat menu to feature beef instead because I found leftover brisket in the freezer.  I made it into a fantastic Beef Barley soup.  It is my absolute favorite soup in the world.  The gravy from the brisket gives the soup such an incredible flavor and the mushrooms make it earthy. I could eat it every day. 

Sunday - Tofu Stirfry, rice and keem
Monday - Tacos, black beans and yellow rice
Tuesday -  Beef Barley Soup and leftover Challah
Wednesday -Chicken and dumplings and salad
Thursday - leftover buffet
Shabbat - tomato spinach soup, gefilte fish loaf, roasted chicken, butternut squash, broccoli, candy corn parfaits.

Friday, November 2

Six Stranded Challah

I finally did it!  I made a six stranded Challah.  My braids are not neat and tidy by any means but I think they turned out pretty good for a first attempt.  This braid makes a much taller loaf than the standard 3 strand which I think looks nicer.  It means I need to make a double batch of dough though which means we have lots more leftover.  Ms. G. noticed the difference immediately and praised my attempts. 

Nature Everyday

What a great fun challenge!  I think Froggy is going to love this game.  Thanks All Things Beautiful  for the pointer. 

Thursday, November 1

Habit training

After weeks with no routine and no mommy guiding her actions and behavior, Froggy was struggling.  On my first day back taking Froggy to her activities, two different people felt a need to speak with me about Froggy's behavior.  She is ignoring people when they ask her to do something.  She does it at home as well so I empathize with the complainers.

As well after weeks and weeks of not being able to do anything for myself or my house, I need to get back into my routines.

So we decided that November is going to be habit training month.  Froggy is working on the habit of attending to the world around her.  She needs to be tuned in enough to respond to people the very first time they call her name.  We made a cute little chart for her to show how well she is paying attention. 
Every time she responds on the first attempt, she climbs a wrung on the ladder.  If she does not listen, she falls a wrung. When she reaches the top of the ladder she will win a prize.  

I am also working on habit training as well.  I am getting back on the flybaby wagon.  Lying in bed for weeks, I have not been able to do my routine.  Now I am recreating all those old habits.  Little bit by little bit I am getting the cobwebs and chaos our of my house.