It’s Erev Shabbos Again!

20130624_202647Wow, time flies. The first week of summer…. well…. I guess it was reasonably good. I have not actually made an official schedule, and we started our days pretty late most days, even though I was up to get DH out to work at our usual time. I tried thinking that it is now summer and so I would enjoy the mornings while the boys slept, just taking it easy only to find out that if we start halfway through the morning, we don’t get things done as early as I would like.

So yes, we still do some schooling during the summer, it keeps them busy a bit, and I feel like I have accomplished something during the day. Davening, making Camp Harper shirts, parsha, math, laining practicing, boy led gym and our new class – Ivrit along with afternoon Tea time and Khan Academy chemistry videos were all a rage this week. Oh, and don’t forget the beginnings of green foliage removal from the garden bed! No, the week was not really how I envisioned it, I envisioned more green foliage removal as well as more learning such as dik duk. Next week? Probably not, the boys are going to camp and it is going to a busy week getting all items needed for three boys! One good thing – all three boys are 20130624_202655going together to the same camp! Yeah! I like when those things happen like that, all boys doing the same thing at the same time at the same place. Just makes for an easier life for Mommy.

When I think about the week, three highlights come to mind. The first one is our afternoon tea time. The boys had fun watching videos on the history and proper etiquette on how to have tea time.  It was nice to have a little break, have some veggies and a few mezonos along with our lemon tea. It really helped tie everyone over until supper and gave us the flexibility to have a little later supper if we wanted.

My almost 4 year old is just so excited. Just a few few short days left until his birthday – his hebrew one anyways. This morning he woke up saying it was his birthday. Why? Because it is Mommy’s birthday and I will be banned from the kitchen in a couple of hours for 4 beautiful boys to create their masterpiece. I think I’ll remember NOT to sweep and mop until afterwards. 😉 4 is going to be such an exciting age!

20130626_164211“No, you can’t have that paper.”
Sad face.
“I am writing down what you are doing for school next year!”
One boy who jumps up and down with a yelp and gives me the biggest hug and says, “Thank you Mommy!” – Priceless. As I continued to write things down, I kept getting nudged – “Is that my school? What is my school work?” I think I have my work cut out for me this coming year!

Last night the Harper boys finished Mesechta Bava Basra and since watermelon is just not enough for a siyum, so I’m told, 20130627_204834brownies were also made.

I’m being kicked out of the kitchen now so that the bakers can do their stuff! Wishing everyone a wonderful Shabbos!

And….. We’re Done!

20130618_125239 (1)We are finally done! Yeah! We are done for I said we are done. I figured that when I spent the last day cleaning (happily) instead of working on schoolwork, we were done. It’s not that we are not going to work anymore until the fall, it is that I am so ready (and so are the boys) to finish up and start something new. The boys knew yesterday was going to be the last day, but it was not until the following conversation that it became reality:

Me to a boy : “Do you have any books we did not finish?”Boy: “No.”
Me: “No?”
Boy: “No. When am I finished school?”
Me: “Now.”

So one boy was finished and that forced a brother to finish his one last reading before his schooling was finished. The third boy, well, he finished his reading and by default he is finished as well. He still has a few more readings in a couple of books, but I just might tell him to go and read them some time. It is time to finish. Sometimes it is not that the material was completely, 100% finished, sometimes it is when even the teacher has spent all her energy on the year and would rather wash toilets than teach one more day; it is when every last drop of energy is used up and there is nothing left to give that school is finished.

Don’t get me wrong, we have TONS of learning that we have planned to do this summer, more than usual. It is all the stuff that we have not been able to put into the school year but want or need to do. And it is everything from continuing math everyday to dik duk, to piano lessons and practicing, to laining and watching those chemistry videos on Khan Academy that one boy is just so excited about watching (even though I have no clue if he is even up to that level yet, but I will not say no!) We also have some field trips I would like to do as well as the weekly/daily elective of green foliage picking outside (a.k.a. weeding!) Ah, don’t forget the long awaited sleep away scout camp for a week and the week long family outing with Grandpa afterwards.

We did have an exciting week at “camp.” The boys had a 3-day online camp all about castles and catapults. They had lots of fun and learned a lot, not only about castles and catapults, but about daily lives of peasants and nobles, knights and, of course, weapons! It was a very interactive class purchased from Currclick. Two boys created a castle for their camp project while another boy put together a Power Point presentation on coat of arms. Bonus? It was only $15 for all three boys, how could I say no?

One thing that I have taken from the conference was the idea that everything has its time. It is very easy to go around the house and say, “Oh, this needs to get done, and that needs to get done but I can’t do it all!” One of the speakers was talking about how she does all her laundry on a certain day. If it is not that day, then she does not do it. The same goes for other things that need to get done. Now, I can’t do my laundry all in one day, and I do need to wash and dry a load every morning as I go and iron a shirt for DH. However, I decided for last week and this week that I was not going to fold and put away the laundry until Friday. Friday we have time. It was amazing how liberated I felt all week, knowing that I did not have to worry about when I was going to do it! It is the same for my suppers – I take a few minutes every Sunday, before I go shop, and I have a list of each item I need for the week. I do not have to worry about what is for supper while I make lunch, and I do not have to worry about not having ingredients. I am feeling a bit more free! So, no, the guest bed downstairs is rarely empty, but I worry less about the clothes.

I am very excited to start our summer routine, and I don’t mind the teaching, I just need to teach new things. I am also excited about the next school year. Two boys already have all their materials from their oldest brother, so that just leaves books for Boy #1 and not to forget our newly almost-4 year old who is


“officially” a Pre-schooler! My, where has the time flown? Baruch Hashem we have reached this point for the last two months have been hard on the both of us for he has so wanted to start school and I was being stubborn and not wanting to START a boy (who I was not prepared to start) when all his brothers were FINISHING for the year. I could not muster up any energy to even think about what would be good for him.

“Mommy, what was I before I was a pre-schooler?””What do you mean?”
“What grade was I in before?”
How to tell such a little boy that he was not in any grade before? He could not fathom him NOT in a grade, and I could not think of a “grade” when put on the spot, for after all, his brothers were all in grades, so of course was he.

As the sun is shining outside and the day is hot, and our over baked challahs, chicken soup, cookies, zucchini bread and cinnamon buns are done, welcome to summer! Now is the time to think about how to revamp our school corner while noticing how neat it actually looks today (!!!), finish the little bit of cooking that is left, fold laundry and straighten the house, and of course, enjoy some of the re-jew-venating sunshine and heat so that we are relaxed and ready to enjoy this week’s Shabbos.

Until next time, have a most wonderful and relaxing Shabbos!

The No-Drive Week


Well, it was not really a very productive week at all. I am not going to say it was not productive, for we did get some stuff done, but not as productive as I thought it should be. Not sure if it was the weather (we have had a lot of rain lately,) or the fact that beautiful boy #3 is spending the week with Grandpa and his cousin, or a mixture of both, or something else. Whatever the case is, it started at the beginning of the week and kept spilling out to the rest of the week. Shabbos is coming and I am so looking forward to it! Shabbos always seems to put a fresh start on things.

We did get somewhere this week in our efforts to finish up the remaining schoolwork. We have used Khan Academy for math this year, and instead of using it like one would use a normal textbook or school work, where you learn a topic, do a certain amount of questions and then move on to the next, I decided to use a different approach this year. The way Khan Academy is set up is that one can learn a topic through the videos and then do sets of exercises pertaining to what was learned. Obviously, there are many ways to use the system, but if one wanted to use it for a curriculum then they would watch the videos and do the related exercises. The exercises come in sets of 8. There is the option of looking at hints for the particular problem in question (which is nice!) if needed. If a correct answer is gotten on the first try, 3 leaves are given. Fewer leaves are awarded if the correct answer was entered in on a second (or third, or fourth) try and/or if hints were used. At the end of the set, the program looks at the speed at which the answers were entered and how many correct on the first try and gives you a green progress bar. When the computer has determined that you are proficient in the particular topic, it gives you a blue bar across the page and lets you know you are ready to move on.

Two of the boys have, for the most part, learned their multiplication facts. I would make them go over the questions without letting them look at a table. Sometimes it would take several weeks before they would be proficient, but eventually they would get their blue bars and move on. One of the older boys does not know his multiplication table very well. He has been stuck on multiplication for several months. He would get questions right, but because of his speed, he would have to do it over again, and again, and again. He was getting frustrated about having to do the same thing for so long – and when he would get the questions right the first time!  Finally, he mastered the multiplication, and went on to division.

At the beginning of the week, he went and got a copy of the multiplication table and started to crank out the correct answers quite quickly. Unlike his brothers,20130612_183801 he actually understood how to do long division so much faster than his brothers. I decided to let him be. I could work on his math facts in the summer. In the meantime, he was a little happier to sit down and do his work, not to mention that one time when I looked at his work, I was able to point out an error just by doing the entire question in my head, ie. without writing anything down. I then suggested a game – I would do the entire question in my head (ie. mental math), and he would work out the problem on paper. We would then compare answers – if the answers were right, he would enter the answer on the computer. Let’s just say that we both had fun with math! By the next day, I had forgotten the fun that we had, but luckily the boy didn’t. “Mom, let’s do that game again!” is what he said to me when I sat him down. It took me a minute to remember what he was talking about, but let’s just say that he did enough rounds to earn his blue bar (which finished math class for the day!)

A few things I learned – I have to be more creative and really think about the purposes of different learning (ie perhaps looking at the multiplication table is fine for division…..) and I learned how to overcome MY fear of mental math! Yes, me, the one who enjoys math is the same one who freezes up when someone asks me to do mental math. I feel very confident on forgoing my stage fright when doing long division in my head now when asked. I too can still learn! 🙂

We did take advantage of the dry, sunny weather earlier this week and had a nice picnic supper at the park next door. All boys earned awards at the cub scout awards night – even my boy scout! (He finally received his religious award that he earned while a cub scout! 🙂  ) The two cub scouts in the family earned their Arrow of Light as well as their religious award. One cub ready to become a boy scout in 1 week. My, oh my, they are getting big.

20130612_183751The missing boy has been missed by everyone, but the plane just took off from his connecting flight – Sorry Sis, thanks for being around just in case the flight did not take off, but you won’t get to see your nephew this Shabbos! Two more hours and our home will feel complete again. 😀

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos!

It’s Not Summer Yet

20130602_091100Well, I made it to Monday! I actually did enjoy myself camping despite the fact that my arms and legs look and feel like I have the chickenpox. It was as if those mosquitoes were starved and no one had come to visit them in days (or hours)! Even though it was hot and mosquito free in the sun and cool and mosquito infested in the forest and we were lucky to be included in a storm on Saturday evening that went through the night, I had a good time. It is always nice to be away in nature and to be able to enjoy and appreciate Hashem’s creations. No phones, no internet, very few cars. The only noises were the various birds that sang some gorgeous music starting at 4:30 in the morning. Our boys enjoyed it as well. They even got up at 4:30 in the morning on Shabbos morning to play frizbee in the field (we constructed an eruv as well.) Showers were had by all when we got back on Sunday to clean up and remove any lingering insects that thought our home would be better than their home. And yes, I was told of some of interesting places where those lingering bugs were found, I just won’t mention them here!

Monday was a day where I got little done, on purpose. The boys emptied most of the car, the tents and sleeping bags were opened up in the backyard and aired out and dried the day before, and eventually they all got rolled up again Monday. We davened, did parsha and math. I just would not do much more other than laundry and some basic cleaning up of the kitchen. we listened to Mishnayos in the evening and then the big surprise came when I realized the boys were in bed ON TIME; and not the “new usual” since Daddy’s accident, it was the real bedtime! If nothing else, that did put a nice smile on my face since I was annoyed that it took almost 4 hours to pack up all the tents in the backyard and there were only 5 of them.

Today went much better. We got off to a late start but managed to pack in outside davening, not just one but two sessions of math, piano practicing, merit 20130602_085044badge completion including the required counselor signature, dropping off camp forms to be filled out by the boys’ doctor, mishnayos and even some cleaning by boys on their own! It started off by one beautiful boy waking up and being dressed before the parents got out of bed, him helping make his father’s lunch, doing his breakfast job before I could even finish eating, davening with his father, and not to mention coming over, on his own accord, to massage my shoulders. I was not sure what he wanted from me, but with nicely massaged shoulders I was most likely going to say yes to whatever it was. To thank him to the punch, I handed him a new treat I bought that was supposed to have been for fast helpers in rolling up the tents but never happened for the fast helpers were replaced with snails. A little brother wanted an extra special treat as well, however, I blurted out that extra special treats go to boys to do extra, extra special chores all on their own. Smile. So, while davening, the already davened boy cleaned up the front yard, including picking up lots of trash, did lots of work in my kitchen by being proactive and putting away the remaining bags of groceries from the previous day and meriting himself a second extra special treat. The youngest also wanted to help and so he kept asking me for chores and so that is how I got my kitchen and dining room swept AND mopped as only a 3 year old can do and earned himself an extra, extra special treat as well. 🙂 Unfortunately none of the others took the bait. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to take what I can get!

As I started to feel good about myself with regards to how nice the day went I remembered something: It was not summer time yet and we still have school work to finish. Minor details. 😐 So, tomorrow morning is going to start by figuring out what each boy has left to do and making a short schedule on how to finish it.  Technically we have 1.5 weeks of school before the end of the year, and I think we can get it all in except math. Thank goodness for summer!

20130602_091037In some of my down time, which I actually had today, I was excited about the summer. I thought of all sorts of stuff for the boys to do that we just do not get to do during the year because of time; more math, typing practice (we started last summer), dik duk, Hebrew, more piano practice and lessons, chemistry from Khan Academy by request from boy #3, and the list went on. Hmm. Perhaps I need to rethink our summer? I *had* been thinking about just a couple of classes a day for the summer, but there is just so much I want to do! Perhaps Camp Harper is going to be more than just playing like planned. I am wondering if I can make a Camp Harper that is more of an educational camp that lasts through lunch. Can I make it fun as well? There is going to be one week of Scout camp for three boys – overnight sleeping in tents through rain and shine which overlaps a bit with a visit from Grandpa, but can I really pull off putting in a lot of good learning in the summer AND keeping it fun? I will have to mull that over in my mind. It will, most likely, have to include a field trip of some sort somewhere most weeks to help liven it up; picnics to various places near us, one20130602_085218 or two trips to the zoo, maybe even a walk down the Erie Canal to visit some neat shops that are down the path. What ever the case is, I think I will have much better luck if we start off the summer by making camp shirts. The boys always liked doing that in the past when we did do it.

I still have a few weeks to think about the summer, and not to mention look for next year’s books that I need to order so I can read them (hopefully) before school starts, and don’t forget to figure out what school work to do with a newly 4 year old; though he has taken to for beginning ABC’s and especially their new math program. I’m about ready to find La La Land now, there is a lot to do tomorrow morning and just the fact that when I’m there I don’t itch is a good reason to go! Oh, and yes, the boys got into bed within a few minutes of the real bedtime again tonight. We might be on a roll. 🙂