Happy Birthday Times 2!

I was informed by WordPress that sometime last week was my first blogging birthday. Hard to imagine it has been that long! Also, I would like to wish my Tu B’Shevat Birthday boy a wonderful 2 birthdays as well – Shabbos was his Hebrew birthday and today is his English birthday.

At 4:40pm this afternoon Daddy emailed me and asked me if I was there to pick him up from work. I had tried to email him about an hour before, but I had three boys using three computers to do math (all in one room,) and my phone was in the bedroom with the boy who was napping, so I had to use my Kindle to try to email. It is hard to type emails on the Kindle, and I did not send the email to the right address and so he never got it. I apologized and I went to get him. He wanted me to drop him off at the JCC, which we just joined, so he could exercise and study. I was having one of those afternoons. All three boys doing math had tantrums all at the same time which lasted for the entire math period which ended up lasting almost 2 hours, I still had to go shopping, had not done laundry and my kitchen was a disaster. I was wiped. I was fine at 3pm, but almost 2 hours later it felt like midnight! It is amazing how tantrums drain you. My boys are tired. Ever have one of those days?

Supper? BARUCH HASHEM! That is all I can say. Chicken and extras that were in the cholent pot were still there and it was still nice and hot. Yes, my boys will eat cholent from Shabbos during the week (they really have not choice. 😉 ) It was more of a stew oppose to a cholent so it helped. Yes, the most important thing was done. Baruch Hashem! The worst thing is having 5 boys with empty tummies – tantrums from math, well just times it by 2 or 3 with no food!

I had the opportunity to go hear Charlie Harary speak last night. He is a wonderful comedian and some of his videos can be found on Aish.com. His main point of the talk was how to tap into our inner greatness. If we go through life and just sail on through it, then we will not tap into this greatness. We access our inner greatness – our potential – when we are faced with challenge. When we work at something and we think we just cannot go on, it is at that moment that we need to push forward. The moment we push forward we access our inner greatness. It does not matter if we “succeed,” what matters is that we tried our hardest even when things looked grim. When we have tapped into this inner greatness, we can go to bed at night happy and feel good about ourselves.

I have a beautiful boy who hates work. He does not just not like it, he absolutely hates work of any kind. I remember learning with the boys that Benjamin Franklin hated to work and that is why he invented all the things he did – he was trying to make his life easier as well as the lives of others. I found that amazing that he used his love of being lazy to work so hard at all the amazing helpful things that he created. But not for my son today. He had troubles reading a word in Chumash, a tantrum. “It’s too hard, I can’t do it!” Math getting him today, “I give up, I can’t do it!” A brother trying to save him from scrubbing the dirty cutlery tomorrow morning informing him that he put them in wrong and they will not get cleaned AND even nicely telling him how to fix it, nope, won’t do it.

I have sat down with him a few times today to try to talk to him. Once I tried to tell him that life is work, that is just what we have to do.  Sometimes things are easy, but many times they are hard. It is at that precise moment that we have to try just a little bit more and usually we will find that we really can actually do it. These are our challenges, our chance to show how great we really are. The second time I tried to talk to him about why his day was so terrible to him. We all have choices, we all run our own lives. It is us, not Hashem. We get to choose if we want to throw a tantrum. We get to choose if we want to give up or if we will try again. It is all our choice. We even get to choose if we are happy or not – even if everything we tried went wrong. I am not sure anything sunk in. It is hard growing up. He definitely brings out my inner greatness to try to teach. It is not that he cannot do it, it is just that when things get a little bit difficult he does not want to even try. It’s too hard.

English reading was difficult for the longest of time. He definitely was a late reader and the last few years I just let him hang out with it on his level. This year I am very pleasantly surprised at what he can do – but this level did not come without a lot of tears to begin with. I know I have to sit down with him and push him to work in other areas now. I am just not quite ready yet mentally. I do not really look forward to the hard work we both have ahead of us, but I know that once that hard work is over we will both be so happy. It is something that just has to be done.

In the meantime, I hope that he will think just a tiny bit about something that I tried to tell him today and hope that he will have a beautiful sleep for tomorrow is a fresh new day with its own new challenges and another chance to try to tap into our inner self and pull out our greatness.


Back To Work!

I can’t believe it has been 7 weeks already. Last week DH went into the doctor’s and was given the okay to go back to work. There are mixed feelings all around, but life goes on and Baruch Hashem his foot is healing properly. He still has one more week without being able to put pressure on the foot, and it will take a bit before he can think about his dream of running a marathon 😉 but he is definitely on his way.

As my newest role as a caregiver to my husband 24/7 changes to something like 6/5 and 24/2 I can actually take half a breath and take a look at how things went. The first several days after the accident was just a blur. We were all just trying to manage and survive. From traveling back and forth from the hospital to home and back again several times a day, to trying to keep beautiful boys quiet so Daddy can sleep was a job in itself. One of the challenges of homeschooling children is when someone is sick you still have everyone at home. I do not know about girls, (and yes, even though I am one myself!) but I do know that one of the big things boys like is noise. One boy loves to make various (um, annoying) sounds, one boy just has a loud, deep penetrating voice and one boy is not old enough to remember to keep his high shrill voice down to something manageable to others. Somehow we managed. We made it though and life went on.

I would have loved to have just spent time with my husband over the last 7 weeks, but there were 4 wonderful reasons why I couldn’t do that. I guess they were a good thing. Well, I know they were a good thing. I tried to continue on with our schooling as much as possible after the first week. Except for when there were doctor visits, we actually got most things done. Except math. I think the one thing that kept us on track as much as possible was the fact that the boys had scheduled times to log onto Room613. The fact that they had classes that could not wait 5 minutes before starting was such a big help. I use that time to teach other classes to other boys. The problem with math is that I have it scheduled at the end of the day AFTER their classes with Rabbi Resnick. By the time 3pm came around, Daddy was going crazy and looking for TLC. I cannot blame him.

I still have a hard time imagining how difficult it is to need help with everything. Even making his way to use the bathroom was a production. He couldn’t get up for a glass of water, if something fell he was at the mercy of whoever was around (if anyone) to help him pick it up and trying to take a shower to feel human was such a long process. I know he tried hard not to ask the same person for help all the time (Baruch Hashem there were 5 other people around!) but he felt so imposing that he even went to far as to try to not ask anyone for help. For that I have constantly given him mussar. I never once felt like he was imposing and tried to make sure he saw me with a smile, even if he had to ask me to get up in the middle of the night. But I can understand.

Having to juggle between putting on my teacher’s hat and my caregiver’s hat took a lot out of me – and my time. I had scheduled extra time in between classes to help give me time to do a bit of cleaning here and there and to help spend some quality time with Mr. Big Boy #4 and yes, even some down time for me, but that was all taken up with my other new career. I have to admit that Daddy was really a good sport and usually told me he could wait for whatever it was until I had my break though that did make me feel bad to have to make him wait. What all this really meant for me was that I was constantly on the move. I had no me time, no time to mop the floor, no time to give to a little boy, no time to do nothing. By the time 3pm came around, I was doing my hardest to try to get myself to make supper, never mind math. DH mentioned this morning, “Oh, you were not on the computer yesterday?” No. That is another thing. No computer, no internet and no email – no time.

Then, after looking at house, I decided to implement a secret plan. I spent the last 4 days working on it. I am not finished, but I am a long ways over, and by now it is not secret. I made the executive decision to move all 4 boys into one room. Yes, one room for 4 boys, a 1:4 ratio. We have a 3 bedroom house. I know. You can tell me that the past 6 weeks turned me crazy.

Really, I am doing this to help out a very creative boy (see previous post!) as you can tell from this embarrassing photo (which was about half

Half way cleaned up by Mommy.

way through the cleaning!). This was the amazing job of one boy over the course of just 2 months. The entire floor actually looked as bad as the part still covered in the photo when I first dared to go in and clean. Yes, only 2 months! I go and wipe out everything in the room every few months and try all sort of tricks but so far nothing works. I am just lucky to have one of these amazingly creative boys that just are unable to keep anything clean. I have talked to several Mothers over the past year or so who have similar minded children. It is good to know it is not me. I went ahead and got even more crazy, picked out a nice real color and started painting the walls. Not even DH knew what my plan was until the night before I finished painting. Boys helped me put together one set of bunk beds last night, and they all helped me organize clothing. I have decided that since there will be limited space in this room now, we can’t have 4 sets of drawers. I bought each boy 4 storage bins that fit under the bed. We are not done, I still want to get each boy a nice sized box with a lid and a combination lock that is their personal property.

As far as the new room, I am not quite sure what I am going to do with it. I do know that I want my sewing machines to be in there so I have a place to sew, but I do not need a lot of room for that. We shall see. The green I picked out for the boys is good for the boys but not what I want for any other part of the house. It was nice to have boys tell me I was doing a wonderful job and that they were liking the room and the color. It was also fun to have them all ask me whose room it was going to be only to be told, “I will tell you when I’m finished!” I was busy the entire day – from painting to preparing meals to cleaning two bathrooms down to mopping them, taking Daddy and one boy to the JCC to exercise and hang out in the pool, to shopping and then finally exercising myself. By the time we got home and organized clothes, it was 10:30 and the boys were STILL UP! How did it get so late? Then to walk into the kitchen and feel that everything went wrong and that perhaps my priorities were totally wrong. Perhaps I should have spent all that time I spent on painting on cleaning the house. Perhaps a pent up Daddy would have been happier? He tells me it was not me and not the house just the circumstance of him being pent up, but perhaps I could have alleviated things a bit by having different priorities. I don’t know.

Almost done!

What ever the case is, I cannot turn back the time and DH really likes how I did the boys’ bedroom. Today is MLK day and schools are closed. We are a school so we will be closed as well. I usually have school on statutory holidays for why not? But today, we are being flexible and I am not going to feel guilty. Today, we are cleaning the house, I am going to practice my music for the girl’s middle school performance tomorrow and we are going to try to get two sessions of math in. HA! That last goal is really funny, but I’ll really be satisfied with one session for each boy, but don’t tell them that!

I drove my Dear Husband to work this morning. Things there have also gone through a change. We are not sure what Hashem has planned for us, but after the past 7 weeks, we know that no matter what, everything really is for the best. I am going to miss seeing his wonderful face during the day. I think that I will like retirement. In the meantime I have something to look forward too, and oh, I think we shall be able to get a few more math lessons in in the meantime and the house is getting cleaner as I type. 😉

Still Chugging Away

We have finally launched our Wiki site! A Jewish Homeschool Wiki that is open for everyone to come and read, use, post, edit, etc. It is similar to Wikipedia. We have a nice sized list of resources for Jewish and Secular studies, as well as various areas for other topics such as general homeschooling, legal laws in various states, etc. It still needs a lot of work and I hope that those who have things to contribute will help us out!


Well, I did not post last week mainly for there was not much new to post. Things are still the status quo. Baruch Hashem, Daddy’s foot is slowly healing. He has been working on using crutches so that he can go back to work in a few weeks. It will be much easier when he is able to put even a tiny bit of pressure on his foot. He still has to have it elevated most of the time, but he has noticed that he can have it down for a short time and it is still okay. I think that he is really overwhelmed with everything that goes on in our day! Four beautiful boys can get a little noisier than what he is used too. 😉

We actually did have some fun this past week for Grandpa came for a visit. It is always fun with Grandpa. It is always fun with any Grandpa! Grandpa paid them for vacuuming out the car – AFTER they were given a lesson on how much their time was worth in the real world – i.e. They spend a total of 20 minutes on the car vacuuming it (all four boys worked pretty much equally, according to their age.) So, they each worked about 5 minutes. If minimum wage is $8/hr, how much should Grandpa pay them?

They first worked out that they could do about 10 cars an hour, so that would make each car worth 80 cents for one person. So, Grandpa offered to pay them each 80 cents for their work. They were not too keen on that price. Grandpa told them he would give them each $3. And then upped it to $5 on condition they would buy him something at the store for him. 😉 Yes, Grandpas are fun. (And he decided he did not need anything from the store!)

There are times when I ask myself why do I bother? Why do I bother asking someone to do anything? A simple task of taking a hat from one room and putting it in the hat cupboard in another room can turn into a long hard task. Sometimes it gets tossed like a frizbee down the hallway (as if I will not see it there), and other times it gets put into a totally different room, sometimes even further away than its real home. I can call the beautiful boy who was given this simple task 3 or 4 times before it gets put away properly. And this is a simple task. We won’t talk about how many hours it takes to pick up all clothes, regardless of whether they are clean or not, and to shove them down the laundry shoot. (Yes, I will admit that I fell in love with the house as soon as I saw that laundry shoot, I really did!) That gets to be pretty ugly, and that is just the clothes, never mind any garbage or books or what not that need to be put away. It is almost always much easier to just do it myself and be done with it. Why do I take up so much of my time to ask someone to do any task when I *KNOW* it will mean it will involve so much time from me to manage the situation? Many times I think that my house would be cleaner if I did it myself, but then that just might be my wishing… At least there might be less frustration and therefore less exercise classes in raising voices if I just do it myself.

The answer is because I am raising children who will (hopefully) learn how to live and contribute in this world. My goal is to raise children who know how to do laundry, cook necessities, and clean. Note that I did not say they have to like it all, but they will know how it needs to be done. In other words, I put up with using my time to having to call a boy back 3 or 4 times just to put a hat away properly, or I will take a boy by the hand and physically take him to each piece of laundry that needs to be picked up because this boy just cannot do it on his own, no matter how hard he tries. I know that if I do not make them do any of this stuff, they will not know what is really involved in doing any of these things. Yes, I am sure that if they never learned any of these things, they would figure out how to use a washing machine and a dryer, after all they are pretty smart boys. However, once they move out on their own and are busy with a job and/or family, it is so much nicer not to have to worry about learning about all these things then – and they might keep some shalom bayis by not complaining as much to their wives! I guess it all boils down to the fact that I love them all. My time is just as precious as each of theirs and I purposely use more of my time to help train them into being the best they can be.

I do have to remind myself of this reason on an occasional basis but even then, I still do wonder if I would just do more of these things myself, perhaps my house would be in better order? Yes, I know the saying that says something like “I may have a messy house, but I have happy and healthy children,” but it would be nice to keep it a little bit better. It seems that the house is not too bad – as long as no one comes over – but when we have an unexpected visitor, it must be Murphy’s law that says without fail, the house will be in shambles. So, I have created another goal for myself. My goal – figure out how to make things a simple as possible. Is there any way I can help a boy who cannot clean up keep his stuff neater? I know that things will not be in 100% order (and nor do I want it to be that way, that is way too far for me!) but since I know I need to delegate chores to create a well-rounded person, I need to simplify things even more than I am now in order for them to reach their goals. I need to regroup and reorganize yet again so that Murphy’s law will only be effective 90% of the time. 🙂

I have been thinking about when we go away for several days, how I manage to keep the laundry done and how often times things are easier to cleanup. I’m sure that the fact that everyone only has 2-3 changes of clothing, and that we only take 1/10 of 1/2 of 1/4 of 1% of our books with us really helps, but sometimes we can get some enlightening by house something is done when outside the home which might help when we are home. We shall see, I have some ideas brewing in my mind, and I think very soon I am going to implement some or all of them. But for now, I still have to do some final cleanup here before I head off for bed. I know that I won’t get away with it all!