My Outing With Mr. Little – Mommy is also Homeschooled

Me and my little Bro
Me and my little Bro

I am sitting here, about 1.5 hours before supper, and it is quiet. One boy off to finish his essay that is due tonight, one boy reading and two playing basketball outside with the new ball Grandpa bought them this weekend. I have no clue what is for supper, but I figured with about 15 minutes (max) of quiet time, it might be almost enough time to write. As long as I type fast! (Yeah right, but nice dream.) This is not really a homeschooling post about boys, I think this is a homeschooling post about me. After all these years, I am still learning and still connecting the dots.

I have decided to start off by saying what I am thankful for today. I have not asked my boys to tell me what they are thankful for in a while, but if I start off, perhaps we can get back into it. I am so thankful that our house is basically sold! 30 hours after having it on the market we got an offer. Inspection was done, we have come to a compromise as to who is paying for what needed items and all that is left is to find *the* date. Phew. The market in our (old) area has plummeted and that was hard to accept, and they did take a bit to accept our compromise, but Hashem has helped us all the way and it was only 2.5 weeks after moving out that we came to this point. I don’t need to think about how things could have gone, I don’t want to change the past. I am more than happy and more than thankful to be able to think of it as gone.

And if moving across the continent was not enough movement for me, Mr. Little and I took another cross continent trip last week to Vancouver

Visiting Granny - still looking pretty good!
Visiting Granny – still looking pretty good!

for my cousin’s wedding. 😀 Two airplanes and a 3 hours drive (did not have a passport to fly to Canada, so had to drive across the border with our Nexus cards — much needed, took only 30 seconds to cross the border.) Had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning, and arrived at the hotel 13 hours later. On the drive way up Mr. Little asked if we were staying in a hotel. I said , “Yes, it’s been such a long time since we’ve stayed in a hotel hasn’t it?” “Mom……we live in a hotel….” Hmm…. guess he was a little too young for my attempted sense of humor. 🙂 It was exciting to see the minds of a little one. I saw snow capped mountains and showed them to him. At least I thought he saw them. After a little while he got so excited for ahead of us was something tall reaching into the sky that was all white. “What is that Mommy?” “It is a mountain that is all covered in snow.” “I thought it only snowed in Rochester!”

The drive was nice. Even though I have only driven on the  Vancouver-Seattle route a couple of times, it really was peaceful and felt very homey. It really is in the same area that I know and I could tell. It reminded me so much of the fun, long drives we took most years on the Canada side to visit the family. I noticed that two different geographical places can have similar climate, similar vegetation and maybe even similar landscapes, each place is unique. I think I liked the drive because of that. I have not found an area that is the same as this. Close, but not the same.

Oldest Girl in the Family Club

My sister traveled across the continent with her 5 children (by herself! Kol Hakavod!) and we arrived in time to share her hotel suite. When we went to the front desk to ask for her, I mentioned that I think my sister was staying there (I had printed off the address but not the hotel name) and the two employees nodded their heads and said, “Yes!” They said that the only reason they are telling me the room number (opposed to calling the room for me) was that they were only told about 7 times that I was coming (though my sister keeps saying she only told them once – I think she was excited to see her older sister 😉  ) and that I looked like her twin so they were very confident that was just fine. So, 4 boys, 2 girls and 2 Mommys squeezed into a rather spacious suite with a full kitchen and a jacuzzi tub 😀  Oh Friday was fun, with all sorts of cousins and aunts and whatnot showing up to our room. Most of the family stayed in the same hotel as us, so when Shabbos came around and all the weather did was pour the entire day, and get 6 little kids all cooped up and frustrated, it was nice when all the other family members (and the other little kids) made appearances in our room (we had the most space… and the most people, so it seemed nature to crash our room.)  We even created a new club for my 6 and 4 year old nieces and myself – the Oldest Girl in the Family Club. Awesome club – sharing the Oldest Girls secrets, such as what clouds are made of and where wood comes from. You see, when my sister’s oldest daughter (6 years old) said I looked like her Mommy, her Mommy told her a secret – I was her older (and oldest) sister! Her jaw dropped to the ground. Unbelieveable! And so the club was started with my brother’s oldest joining in when she arrived. Birthday cake for the birthday boy (my nephew) Motzei Shabbos was the highlight of the day and just another great reason for everyone to crash at our place – all at once this time.

Two sets of sisters – a group of mothers, sisters, and aunts. 🙂

Showering, visiting Granny (the Matriarch of our side of the family) who was not feeling well enough to come to the wedding (at 97 years old, she’s doing pretty good and almost came), getting ready, going to the wedding, to driving the first third of the trek back home right after supper, we had a busy day (and my sister then said *I* was the one that had a harder trip – to do this only 2.5 weeks after moving across the continent!) We even had to take our dessert back with us and had it as our almost midnight snack at the hotel before going to sleep. (Oh, the chocolate cake was just heavenly!) After a little cufuffle with an email from the airlines at 3:30  in the morning (right before we woke up), saying that our first flight was now changed to 2 hours later (but no mention of the second one that we were going to miss then,) to closing my eyes for an hour (for 4 am was just too much for me and anyways the plane was 2 hours later), only to find out that during that hour our flight was changed back and we missed our flight, we did make it back home not that much later than planned. I did have another comforting thought. While up in the air, looking out of the window, I realized that Home has nothing to do with looks, nothing to do with size, nothing to do with where it is, and nothing to do with what you decide to live in. At that moment, I was remembering the most crazy, wonderful time I have had with basically all my family (minus my family left at home) that I have had in a long time, and that I was also so excited to be going back to “our” hotel. We have been here for about 3 weeks now, and have about one more week to go and even though we are a bit cramped, and even though my “bookcase” is growing (rather nicely I might add,) and even though it is frustrating dealing with boys for there is not much for them to do after school work is done, none of that really matters for I was just so excited to be coming back… to be coming home.

Day Two

20141020_135123I am calling this blog Day Two for Day Two was SOOOOOOO much better than Day One. We still have not plunged into a real routine but the movers have our schedule and I have not had time to really put a good one together yet. Three weeks off of school with painting, packing, throwing out, moving, Yomim Tovim, etc. really prevent boys from wanting to go back to school. Had to get up at 5:30 am (after spending until almost 1 am trying to wash and dry clothes – kept missing the opportunity to use the hotel’s washers and dryers and brought back wet clothes for I was too tired to put more coins in and wait longer,) to get Daddy off to work. This is going to be hard to get used too. He has to be there at 7:30 in the morning and he doesn’t have a 7-9 minute commute anymore, it’s an hour. Boys got up and dressed and shipped to the eating area for our free breakfast (well, we do pay for it in the cost of the hotel, but we won’t go there, “free” sounds nicer,) and finally got them davening while I snagged the washer and dryer again, and finally got some kodesh learning printed off and got started.

My mistake was that I thought I was doing well. You see, I finally get everyone settled and doing a second set of work. Mr. #1 was in one bedroom doing one thing, one boy was playing with Legos and two boys were sitting with me ready to learn. Ah, I had it all made! And then I made the mistake. I remembered that someone else was using the washer after me and I hogged both dryers and needed to get my stuff out. Anything I did at this point would have produced the same effect. I was lazy and sent two boys to quickly grab our clothes from the dryer and come back. I neglected to define the word, or perhaps the whole sentence. One boy came back crying and sat down beside me. We waited. And waited. And waited. I had said boy sit down and I was going to start the class without the other boy, but then I got to thinking that I did not want to have to repeat the learning. I sent the boy back to find his brother and the missing clothes. And waited.

Finally! Both boys returned. Minus the clothes. 😐 Turned them around and they finally brought back the items. Phew. Not sure how long that 20141020_134924took but I think it was about 10 ish by the time we started our learning. The learning went not too bad. It happens to be my favorite lesson in the entire book (Madame How and Lady Why.) I then sent them to go and do some team reading for another lesson. Mistake number two. About half way through the reading I find out one boy went ahead and read almost all of the book for he was “waiting for his brother” (their famous phrase). Sigh. I’ll just say they were not getting along too well at that time. I ended up sitting them both on the couch and telling them to be quiet while I made lunch. That seemed to do the trick and I sent them back to read. The rest of the day was a bit better. Though Daddy is gone an awfully long time now, with the much longer treck both directions and them working him harder as well. That is hard on the boys too.

Today is going much better though. One good thing about having “free” breakfasts is that there is a time limit. Breakfast is over at 9 am during the week. This is a great insensitive to get boys out of bed on time. I might tell them that breakfast is closed passed a certain time but they can go sneak some food in between lessons. Here, the food is all put away and locked in the kitchen and not even I have the key! Did have to threaten to drag one boy out of bed (he sooooo does not like that) but they got up, dressed, ate and were back in the room ON TIME! I felt pretty good.

All in all, the boys were pretty good today. I have made a deal with one boy; I will buy him a (Jewish) song of his choice for every 7 days of good behaviour (does not have to be consecutive.) I don’t always have cash, but $0.99 on the credit card I can do. This song will belong to him to play. The catch: No tantrums, respectful speech to both of his parents, talking nice to brothers, etc. He is very motivated. He has had mainly good days, a few dips but all in all is doing so much better. He keeps talking about getting to that 7th day. 🙂

20141020_124049Boys sat well this morning when I gave them just a little bit of writing work to do and the little one was davening and learning with me while the cleaning staff cleaned our room (a HUGE bonus of being stuck in a hotel!) Unfortunately, today she forgot to mop the so little, tiny bit of kitchen flooring – there was something sticky that fell on it earlier this morning.  We got math done this afternoon, after a picnic outside in the pool area (love being able to picnic!) and now, 3/4 boys are swimming outside (gym time), leaving me to have some awkward quiet time with seemingly nothing to do (though I am sure there really is, I just can’t think of much right now.) Need to check on the other 1/4 and figure out why his reading is taking so long (I’m sure he made his way from the loby where he was reading to the business area with the computers,) and then get supper going. It is so nice to be able to do some mostly real cooking on the two burners stove (do not have an oven.) That really helps a lot. Our stomachs are happier as well.

As things are slowly falling into place, and we are slowly doing things (unless forced to do it quickly) one does when one moves (changing addresses, new tags on cars, dealing with new health insurance, etc.) we are slowly trying to get used to the new culture (though the climate is not hard to get used to) and I think things will be well. It was a nice surprise when my oldest came in with our missing USPS box full of gemaras, mishanyos and all the other school books we were missing! Being Parshas Noach, a friend told me, “Bo el haTeva. Here comes the box!” Nothing is coincidence, and it is so “of course!” We had one slightly bent gemara (for it was very, very skinny,) missing a really tiny hebrew reading book, but did acquire a strange, unknown magazine and a pair of socks. For boys. And the right size for one of them to boot.

So, yes, today is going much better. Now to get out of my hermit state and off to be a parent again and find my 4 belongings. 🙂

Good Morning, Gut Moed

IMG_20141006_083458Well, it’s the last day of Sukkos, and it sure has been quite an adventure the last couple of weeks (well, the last several weeks really,) for we have moved. Not just any move, but all the way to sunny Dallas, TX. And we didn’t just move here, we DROVE here, across the continent, all the way from just a few miles south of the Canadian border, down, down, down, southwards, just about reaching the Gulf Coast. What an adventure, what a drive! A cross country drive with the boys was something we have wanted to do for a long time, and in case I did not feel it before, I sure felt like a homeschool family on the trip. 😀 Needless to say, most boys have not done official school work in several weeks – of of the many bonuses of homeschooling. Mr. Big Boy #1 has been working on his college classes – they keep going no matter what else is going on in your life.

On Rosh Hashanah, things were feeling pretty normal except for the fact that the 20141001_200938house was upside down as we were getting ready to move (I had been trying to thin things down in the house, rooms were moved around to paint, etc. so no, it was not “normal” but as long as I was out of the house I felt things were still pretty normal. The kiddush that Shabbos was sponsored by some most wonderful friends in our honor – all whom we are missing. Then, as everyone was preparing themselves during the Aseres Yemai Teshuva (the 10 days of Repentence – the days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), I felt like I was Pesach cleaning  (oops, sorry for mentioning *the* word now,) both physically and spiritually. The movers came, packed, and then loaded (almost) all our precious (and not so precious) belongings onto a truck and drove off. They were a crew! At least they did not pack a pail of dirty diapers like the previous movers did (after I told them not to!) but they almost took our bikes that were chained up way 20141006_150809in the backyard that were chained up to make sure they did not take them. By Yom Kippur, our house went from being turned upside down, to a House of Maze, to just plain empty. It is amazing how quickly other people can pack your things for they are not emotionally attached to them in any way.

Motzei Yom Kippur the boys were helping us out until 1 am or later (oops, did not realize what time it was and we really did need all their help,) and the Mom and Dad finally went to bed at 5:30 in the morning. The alarm was set for 7:30 am. Funny enough, we woke up before the alarm. Between packing what we needed for the next several months (or at least the minimal amount of things needed,) and finishing getting the house ready for us to 20141006_153549leave, and all boys going to shul, we finally made it out at about 5:30 pm. Happy Birthday 11th YY! Baruch Hashem for a place to eat out, bought lunch and supper and a little dessert for the birthday boy and we were off! Van packed to the hilt, 4 bikes on the back of the van, one INSIDE (1 had to be taken by the movers for there was just no room,) car top carrier filled, and so were laps, and we were off! We were missing one thing – our rocking chair on top with Granny. 😉

We left 5 hours later than we hoped to have left, but it was doable since we were driving. It was a long day. We finally made it to our destination in Columbus Ohio at about 1 am. We all crawled into bed. 6 am came too fast. Monday was our long day. Google maps said it was supposed to take 10 hours. It took 14 – and we only had one 20141006_152629big stop (1.5 hours worth)! We have spent our days looking out the windows, coloring, reading, listening to Lipa (and others) and of course listening to shiurim. Technology can be really amazing. Just 10 years ago, DH complained that he could not listen to shiurim in the car for the quality was just not good. Now, we can listen to recordings from the 1970’s for the technology has come a very long way.

Tuesday was the day we were excited about. We surprised the boys by making our Monday stop in Branson, MO. Branson has been a big tourist attraction spot for many, many years. Grandpa takes one boy each year there to have fun. When they 20141007_103503realized that is where we were going to stay, they just couldn’t stay in their seats as they pointed out the hotels they had stayed in and the other attractions they had been to. (One boy even recognized the driver of the Duck , an amphibious vehicle, as we passed by it – as well as making all the duck noises.) We decided to go see one attraction and we settled upon the Titanic. Afterall, we ARE a homeschooling family and we should make everything educational. 😉 The tickets were extremely reasonable in price and the museum was amazing! They had a lot of artifacts out for show, even some things for hands on experience (a glacier simulation, ship “deck” pieces at various angles to walk up to see what it was like as the ship was sinking, etc.) Each guest was handed a ticket with a name of a passenger and you could look at the list at the end of the museum to 20141007_175638see if you survived… or not… And yes, I was conscious when I walked into the money trap and purchased the photo of our family that was taken, as well as when I purchased other souvenirs . I figured I could spend a little bit of money – afterall, this was an amazing journey and we were all having fun! I did purchase a wonderful book of facts recommended by a worker. Apparently all new employees are given that book to learn the initial facts.

Tuesday night we arrived at our new home – the Homewood Suites Hotel. For the first 5 days the 6 of us spent the time in a 1 bedroom suite before moving in the luxurious 2 bedroom suite with 2 ensuites (yeah!) Sukkos started Wednesday night. We have made this our home and even have our little “bookshelf” all set up! (Yes, a homeschool family!) 20141013_140929Wednesday was spent trying to find our way around town and getting Texas inspection for the car, tags and the toll tag, and a PO Box,  as well as going to the store to get a ready made meal for the one meal we had to make for ourselves over Yom Tov. Baruch Hashem, the community is very nice and by the time we arrived in town, we had 5 meals set up for the Yom Tov/Shabbos! The past few days have been busy as well, though we were able to get out and take a nice walk/hike at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. The weather is wonderful. It was a bit warm the first days with 95+ degree weather and we made the downpour on Friday night, but it is supposed to be about 80 through Shabbos.

20141014_133730 (1)This Sukkos does feel a bit strange for we do not have our own Sukkah, and being in a hotel, we usually opt to make food that does not need to be eaten in the Sukkah.  What is special about a sukkah? It is considered an “easy” mitzvah to do for it is a “living” mitzvah – if you want to eat, eat in the sukkah, if you want to make a phone call, make it in the sukkah, etc, easy! We make the sukkah our home. Something we need anyways, just for 7 days a year we make our home in the sukkah. But what is it about the home? The home is the security of man. Even when we are out of the house, working, travelling, etc. when we have a home, we are secure. This really hit home this year and I can really relate. God willing, next year we will be in our own home and once again will have a Sukkah.

We are meeting a lot of new people, and visiting various shuls. And, I would say, the most important thing is that we met several other religious homeschooling families! My two oldest boys are the oldest, and we are the veteran homeschoolers, but it is so nice to have a nice group to20141014_115629 (1) do things with. Now, it’s erev Yom Tov again, and this time, we are making most of our own meals (with a stove top but without an oven!) and we are going for a walk before having to make one washing load and trying to figure out what we are going to eat for the next few days.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Yom Tov!