Almost Ready

mishneh torahI have not been able to write for a while for we have one computer in the repair shop, one with a broken screen, and the other is being used quite heavily by a boy who has been doing school work now for about 4 weeks, even though school has not officially started yet.

I firstly want to wish my boys (including Daddy) a hearty Mazal Tov on completing the first sefer in Rambam’s Mishne Torah – Sefer Madda (4 books including the introduction)! For a very special treat, for their siyum, we took them 3 hours to Toronto to eat in a kosher restaurant, daven in shul and drive 3 hours back. Our pocket book is $200 lighter, but it was definitely worth it! For the past month (almost to the day,) the boys have all been doing 2 chapters of Mishne Torah every day, except Shabbos where they usually do just one, but that might be able to change once the days get a little shorter on Shabbos day. They enjoy listening to (and watching) Rabbi Gordon from He explains everything very nicely and tells lots of jokes to keep everyone’s interest.  We had originally planned on doing 3 chapters a day during the school year, but, that is not going to work out. Two boys would have time in the their schedule for a third, but my oldest is now in the next level of Ambleside Online – the House of Education (HOE, years 7-12) and his course load has doubled I think from the previous years! So, two it is. Two chapters of Rambam and 2 mishnayos from the Mishna Yomit program, along with davening and parsha, and that is about all there is room for right now.

The last few weeks I have been feeling not in the mood to do anything. Normally, my summers are filled with stuff in the morning with the boys and then I send them out to play by themselves (or in the basement) or to read. I would have the time to do things like cleaning, purging the cellar, getting ready for nextsiyum - yoshee year and just doing absoluely nothing. This summer has been so different. Yes, the three older boys went to camp for a week, but that left me to clean up the house for Grandpa, and at the same be the sole playmate for the youngest. After camp we had our boys start their Rambam, twice a day, as well as mishnayos with the oldest doing other work such as laining, math, SAT vocabulary and SAT math. You would think I would have some time to myself still, but I was the playmate during Rambam and mishnayos.

I found myself trying to hide away at every opportunity but never really getting the break I was feeling I needed for I still had to be on top of the oldest boy doing all his school work. If I go and hide, there was bickering to remind me of my real job. I am not sure why I could not get some boys to go out more, perhaps it was just that their learnings were staggered just so that it was breaking up the day in not so good of a way and I just never had the time to sit and think about how to make it better, I was just running around like a headless chicken. Despite that, I finally managed to put together a schedule for four boys next year. It was not the easiest thing to do! I think I have just about all the work printed out to start school. I just have to print of maps of various times for their weekly map work.

siyum - yonatanHowever, a few days ago I found myself bored, actually bored. Yes, there was cleaning and laundry to do, but that was all. I already had cleaned one bathroom and did some laundry. So, I took advantage of the fact that I was not really needed and I went outside for a walk to enjoy the warm, sunny weather. It is good to occasionally be bored; it gives me the drive to do something afterwards!

I have been asked by several people how things are going with my right-brained child. Well, honestly, I have not done anything with him. I have looked at a few things and I think I will be doing Brain Gym type of stuff – mainly exercises that involve alternating right over left, for example, using the right elbow to touch the left knee. Figure 8’s in the air/traced on paper are also great. I think the idea is for me to come up with about 8-10 exercises that I can alternate to make the 5 minute time exciting. But, one thing at a time. I have the schedule done and books in order. Clean up of the house will hopefully happen a bit this weekend while boys are out, for they will be busy selling… P-O-P-C-O-R-N!!!!! Yes, it is that time again! Wow, life is just never dull, Baruch Hashem. May we go from strength to strength. My Cub Scout wanna-be has his popcorn selling shpeel down pat!

As I finish up and hope my boys will be done their Rosh Hashanah sheets before the holiday starts, I sincerely wish everyone a most wonderful Shanah Tovah. May you all be inscribed in the Books of Life, Health, Happiness and Success.matti - science museum

Kesiva v’Chasima Tovah!


bingoI have hit the jackpot! Things have been building up over the last while and today was the day that *I* won! We have four beautiful boys, and I love them all, however, there is one that does not think nor act like the others; he is my special one and he has a heart of gold. I have spend many years and many tears and many prayers trying to figure out how this one special boy thinks so that I can teach him the best way for him, and until now I have been at a loss.

My black sheep is intelligent and extremely artistic. He loves to look at something and rattle off 100 different “useful” uses for any piece of garbage that I want to throw out. I feel bad about telling him “no” on almost everything he wants to do, but I know that he will create his masterpiece and in the meantime create this amazing pile of mess to go with it. What’s the problem? The problem arises when he is unable to clean up. It is not that he refuses, it is that he just can’t. This goes for everything from me telling him to put the hat away to cleaning up his room, to just gather all the clothes on the floor and put them in the laundry and it does not matter if they were worn or not, I’ll just wash them all again. He cannot even do that. It is too much and too overwhelming. This is the reason why I do not let him cook or do much in the kitchen. He will make a mess and I will be the one left to clean up. Other boys just don’t make the mess to begin with so they do not have as much to clean up and it is easier for them. My special boy, well, I think it is just part of what makes him special. A mess will be made, and he does not realize he is doing it for he is so into making whatever he is making.

He has a wonderful knack for languages. My husband had to go to the Philippines and so he was trying to learn some Tagalog so he can be polite and say some basic phrases. (Though all Filipinos know English he found out.) My husband also likes languages. For those who have not heard Tagalog before, it requires at least double the amount of syllables to say anything you want to so that is one of the things that makes it very difficult to try to learn. My special boy – well, let’s just say that several months AFTER Daddy went on his trip, and way after we stopped trying to learn, this special boy still had some of these phrases memorized and was able to spu them back out. This was true for other languages that we have dabbled into as well.

This boy cannot learn math facts, and spelling is out of this world. One thing I have discovered over the past year is that unless he gets the right amount of sleep, he tantrums really good, and it can happen over fairly minor issues that usually do not bother him so much. He is a very “feeling” kind of boy and “feels” that people do not like him (and even though we point out that most phone calls for boys are for HIM, not his brothers…. it is still enough to make a mother cry!) Trying to teach him his stuff is very hard. He was a later reader and just this past year has flourished in his English reading. Hebrew reading… don’t ask. We daven out loud and I have spend various stretches of time over the past few years trying to get him to at least point to the words for he has it all memorized. I figured he was a whole word learner and the problem with Hebrew is that he does not know the language, so it is hard to look at a word and have it mean anything. He still learns things differently than his brothers for the other stuff, and I have slowly, through trial and error, found a few things that have helped a bit.

His diet is fairly good. We only drink water and milk in the house, and other fancy drinks (including fruit juices) are occasional treats that are kept to times like kiddush on Shabbos morning at shul. I have not used white flour in years (except one time last year when we were on a trip and I had no choice,) junk food is the same as fancy drinks. I prescribe to the “real food” menu and so I make my own foods from real stuff, not boxed, processed items. He does love his carbs and will eat virtually only challah on Shabbos if I let him, but he does eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, along with his milk and I do not worry that much. No, I do not believe it is food that is the issue. There are no eye issues that would cause reading problems. (He now reads English pretty good, and has made huge strides this year.)

And then, lights went on in my emails this morning! One of the lists that I am on posted something about her daughter that resembled my son. I had emailed her privately several days ago, and today, I got both her response and another post to the email group basically stating the same things which just made everything make sense. My son is a RIGHT BRAINED person! I never really thought about it before for some reason I just associated it with left handed people. (Never mind that my left handed son is not like this at all.) Here is a chart taken from here that shows the main differences between Left Brained people vs. Right Brained People.

Below are some links to some articles that I found today. It is such a relief to find something that makes sense. I can now work with it. So much has now been lifted off my shoulders. I even found an online test where you answer questions and they let you know which side of the spectrum you fall in. Yes, my special boy was very right-brained. I have come across some ideas on how to help my child. I think I also now know why it was so hard to get him to do anything – I”m sure it is is very stressful trying to learn in a way that you cannot really learn from, and with me not knowing how to teach him, I just continued on the same broken path, and therefore was very taxing on his beautiful little brain. He would spend a great deal of energy just refusing to do a 30 second job, but that was his way of trying to get some space. Last week was hard for he went to bed late most nights and was tired the later half of the week. I ended up just ignoring his tantrums and let him have his space. When he was ready, he came out and did what he needed to do.

I now feel like I can fly and am looking forward to the coming year and helping him to really grow to his potential. I am still not sure how to do it all, the next step is for me to learn what to do, but just the fact that I know WHERE to look is half the battle! I’m off to bed with a happy heart, those prayers and tears have not gone unanswered, and did you know that Albert Einstein was a right-brained person, as well as Newton, Galileo, Aristotle, and Benjamin Franklin? 🙂