Gut Moed!

***Please have Raphael Gavriel Simcha Chaim ben Shulamis in your prayers – (Note name addition, things are very serious. )he is a young man (early 20’s) who has a brain tumor.聽 It was mostly removed several months ago, but it has grown back.聽 He has remained in the hospital.***

We’re half way done the first half of the last set of Yomim Tovim, in other words – the middle of Sukkos. 馃檪聽 The weather is beautiful, with just one meal being rained out on us.聽 It is definitely getting cooler, but still warm and I still do not need to wear a jacket – and that is coming from someone who wears jackets because she gets cold easily.聽 Yesterday I went for a bike ride, and I got in not just one, but two nice bike rides today.聽 I really enjoy looking at all the wonderful colors.

The little one has his own lulav and esrog and is very proud of it.聽 I even found last year’s lulav holder for him as well as a nice box to put the esrog.聽 When we got to shul, he was very excited to show it to his friend and share it with her.聽 The second day I made a point to get to shul earlier than we usually go so that he could make it for Hallel where they walk around the bima with their lulavim and esrogim.聽 We got there on the last circuit, just enough for a 3 year old to have fun and not get bored. 馃檪

Yesterday started off nice with a bris (Yom Kippur baby!), buying a very excited 3 year old new Shabbos shoes for his got ruined and then a wonderful Room613 Virutual Sukkos party.聽 For those who are not sure what a virtual party can include, there were stories, songs, fun Sukkos riddles and a talent show.聽 Yes, a talent show!聽 There was a comedian telling riddles and jokes, bike tricks, karate tricks and a wonderful pianist.聽 Modern technology is amazing, with a laptop and a video camera, we were able to walk outside one of the homes of the boys and watch him ride his bike outside and do some tricks.聽 It was not perfect, the video cameras have a bit more to be desired sometimes for they did occasionally freeze up for the audience.聽 Aside from that, it was a lot of fun.聽 I have to put a nice plug in for homeschooling – it’s hard to watch bike riding tricks in a school, but it was so easy to do in a homeschool setting!

I had wanted to do some learning about the rest of the holidays.聽 I figured I have three days before Shabbos, and perhaps something (most likely聽 not) on Sunday before Yom Tov.聽 That was my plan.聽 As I mentioned in the last post, I love all the Yomim Tovim, however, it is hard to find all the time I would like to take to teach about every Yom Tov – before the Yom Tov.聽 We only had a couple of days after Yom Kippur before Sukkos, and so I figured it would be great to learn the rest during Chol Hamoed figuring it was a great way to increase Torah learning a little bit and not have a free for all holiday.聽 So I planned.

After the bris yesterday, I had one boy make a spontaneous play date (which turned into a sleep over) and another boy had the brother over to our house for his spontaneous play date.聽 Boy number 3 was happy as a clam to turn the radio on and call “CQ” in hopes to reach people in other parts of the world, which he did. (Amateur Radio aka Ham Radio.)聽 He also spent some time learning so he can upgrade his radio license from Technician to General so he can use more frequency bands.

After lunch today I had three boys come to the house (one was mine and the other two were the brothers from the spontaneous play dates).聽 One brother stayed to play with one of my boys and the other brother went with one of my other boys to yet another house for several hours!聽 My oldest, was still happy as a clam learning outside in the sukkah for his general class and talking to people on the radio. I do not really mind.聽 It is hard to play with friends who are at school during the day (imagine that!)聽 We also had a wonderful sukkah party for the Cub and Boy Scouts in our sukkah and a Mazal Tov to my oldest for earning his Second Class rank for Boy Scouts tonight! 馃榾

We did not get to sleep in the sukkah the first few nights for it did rain and drizzle on and off, however, last night and tonight the boys took advantage of the wonderful weather.聽 Unfortunately Mommy and Daddy are not out there for Daddy is a bit sick and does not want to get sicker.聽 I really enjoy the fresh air – it is not too hot nor too cold, just nice and cool and fresh and I wake up really refreshed in the morning when I do get to sleep outside.

I still have my plans… Baruch Hashem we still have tomorrow!聽 I am determined to get some learning done (will have to say no to play dates….. 馃檨聽 )

It is late, and I’m off to finish making challah, so hope everyone has a wonderful Moed, Shabbos and Yom Tov!


Popcorn, Yomim Tovim, Yomim Tovim and More Yomim Tovim!

Rosh Hashanah has come, Yom Kippur will be here in less than 24 hours.聽 I have been trying to think of something to write, but nothing popped into mind.

Baruch Hashem we have been busy.聽 Our annual Scout popcorn fundraiser is in full swing now, with $4000 worth of popcorn already bought – and that does not include the chocolate flavors that we could not purchase this round (the chocolate melts too easily we are told.)聽 I am told the popcorn is much better than last year and not to mention it is in tins again.聽 (All popcorn is OU-D, with the plain unpopped kernels OU-Parve – anyone interested? 馃槈聽 )

This is the best and worst time of the year.聽 The best time for the boys to work on their socialization skills and go door-to-door and talk to all sorts of people – from young to old, from cranky to nice, from English speakers to non-English speakers.聽 They also get lots of exercise for they do a lot of walking!聽 It is the worst time for Daddy and Mommy have to go and take them all over, not just once, but twice when we have to deliver to the wonderful places that bought.聽 But soon it will be over and we are hoping that the older two will have earned enough to go to one week of Jewish Scout camp in the summer (the number 3 boy has one more year before he can go!)

We sure hit our new year off to a good start with missing the first 1.5 days of Room613!聽 Several boys thought they read there will be no classes the ENTIRE week, not just for Rosh Hashanah.聽 But after talking to my sister and a friend on the second day after Rosh Hashanah, I found out they were wrong.聽 Lesson learned: Read my emails more closely… It was not a total loss, I tried to add more secular work into the 2 days that would have been missed because of Rosh Hashanah.

We did not delve into Yom Kippur last week too much, probably should have, though I had other unrelated things on my mind. 聽Sometimes I find it hard to balance personal learning and introspection with teaching the boys and helping them out with the same things.聽 We did talk about some of the basic prayers and their meanings.聽 I also found some nice Kol Nidre songs on Youtube to help get us in the mood.聽 One thing I told the boys is that they should read the davening in English – especially the Al Chets.聽 Since all the davening we do is for us, not Hashem, how are we supposed to put ourselves in the correct frame of mind if we do not even know what we are saying?

This week we worked on Yonah and the Whale.聽 I found some nice one page versions for preschoolers and a cute song for the little one, as well as a translation of the Vilna Gaon’s work on sefer Yonah.聽 That is set for high school, however, my older boys are getting some of it.聽 They just had chapter 1 on, however, I was able to find the full English version at the聽 Daf Yomi Review website.聽 We are not going to finish what we have, but that is fine, that leaves more to learn another time. My youngest wanted stuff to color today, but the computer we use for printing was being used, so I will hopefully print out a copy of Yonah and the whale for him to color tomorrow while we sing our song or I’m working with the older boys.

Sukkos is right around the corner, and it is always tough to do Sukkos learning with very few days – I feel I should spend several days on Yom Kippur, and not just rush through it to start Sukkos material, but then I feel Sukkos gets jipped!聽 I did buy nice 8.5 x 11 charts from Torah U’Mesorah on Sukkos many years ago.聽 I do not always go over them with the boys, but I think it is time to do them again.聽 When the older boys were younger, I did manage to do several projects such as a styrofoam esrog and foam/feathered lulav, however, lately we have been focusing on getting the sukkah all up and set that we do not do very many crafts for we are also still doing school work.聽 We are fortunate for the front entrance to the house has three walls already and all we need to do is add schach on top.聽 We have most of the schach (about 70 individual bamboo sticks), but it is not quite enough, and we always have to figure out where to find more!聽 I think I will need to come up with one nice decoration they can each do, the previous ones are getting old.聽 Oh, and I think I have one more styrofoam ball the youngest can paint as well as some green foam.聽 I think an older brother might like to spend some quality time with his youngest bro. 馃檪

I am going to finish up, drink more liquid, and try to finish getting myself ready for tomorrow night.聽 Wishing everyone a Gemar Chasima Tovah and an easy fast!

Getting Myself Ready – My Chizuk

Yes, I know that experiences cannot be equaled and in case I was not sure about it, after the past few weeks, there is definitely no doubt in my mind. 聽Over the past week and a half, our boys have spent many, many hours outside, in the water – ponds, creeks, etc. playing in the sand, feeling the seaweed, smelling the different smells, watching lobsters hide, seeing small schools of fish, as well as larger ones. 聽Not to mention watching out for poison ivy and poison oak as we hike through the neighboring forests and seeing, feeling and smelling all the wonderful things there. 聽Charlotte Mason definitely knew what she was talking about when she said the only science a child needs for the first 6 years should be nature study.

We have been doing Ambleside Online for 2 years now, and I could never really fit in nature walks like I should, even though I wanted too, and I thought I tried. 聽I am hoping these wonderful experiences will encourage me to try harder. 聽Really, it all boils down to having the right schedule. 聽I find that I can stick to a schedule pretty good if I have one (and I’m the one that makes it, which is good!)

We are told that to raise good and happy children, the relationship between the mother and the father must be a good and happy one as well. 聽One of the ways to attain this is to make the relationship between husband and wife a priority over the children, that way the children can see how a good relationship should be and how they should act, for seeing has more of an impact than telling. 聽Homeschooling is not only about the children, it is about us, the teachers as well and therefore we need to nurture ourselves and take care of ourselves first.

We are just a few short weeks from Rosh Hashanah and we have had the most amazing few weeks. We do not get to interact very often with homeschoolers – we do not really have that much in common with the ones we know who are local, and to interact with religious Jewish homeschoolers on top of that is even more of a bonus. 聽Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I have an issue being the “different” one, not at all, however, occasionally it is good to meet others who are different like you.

It was good for the children to be able to play with other religious聽Jewish homeschoolers, and it was good for me to be able to talk to not just one, but two mothers who have similar philosophies as we do. 聽It was so exciting to talk to mothers who have had at least double the amount of years of homeschooling behind them than I do for it gave me a chance to see where I could be as a homeschool parent – what kinds of ideas I could try to use, from “experts”. 聽 I was also glad I was able to share some of our experiences and see that I could be of some help as well. 聽And, it was nice just to talk!

I once heard from a rabbi that all the spiritual connection and chizuk that we get from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkos is set so that it carries us through the dark times of winter, yes, we have a little bit of light from Chanukah, but there are no Yomim Tovim until Pesach, and our neshamas need the spiritual connection. 聽So too, I felt that Hashem has given me this boost of the visits of two wonderful mothers (and their children!) to help give me chizuk for the next while. I felt lucky to have such wonderful conversations with one of the mothers that came. 聽We took the children out in the afternoon and then they still did not have enough time together, so her son came over for a sleepover. 聽After the mother left, I felt not only spiritual happiness and chizuk, but I found it gave me chizuk in general to do some stuff around the house that I was trying to get done. 聽I tried to soak up all the chizuk and spiritual connection that I could so that it would carry me over until the next encounter.



Thoughts on Tisha B’Av

I hope you will forgive me if this post is not so into homeschooling like I would usually write.

I don’t do well with fasts usually, I think the big reason is because I have children and I have to move around.聽 My boys are, B”H, all getting bigger, and I was able to rest in bed most of the morning. With some migraine medicine I am still very functional, slow, but functional and for that I’m very thankful.

As I am typing, I have approximately 1.5 hours left of the fast.聽 Yesterday I went to a little learning group and as we were leaving, we were discussing that really is not that we should all have easy fasts (though we hope we all do,) it is that we should all have a purposeful fast.聽 All day today I tried to figure out how to have a purposeful fast.聽 What is the meaning of today, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar?聽 Of course there are the physical things we do such as not eating or drinking for 25 hours, sitting on low stools for half the day, not wearing leather and not anointing ourselves, but these are only for the outside, the physical body, what about the spiritual part of our body, our souls?聽 What are we suppose to do for that?

So, the big question is – what happened to cause this day to be such a sad day?聽 We know that there have been so many calamities that happened on this day – both the first and second Bait Hamikdash were destroyed, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the Inquisition of Spain in 1492, World War I was declared, and many others (see Ohr Samayah).聽 Why?聽 Why on this particular day?

We know over 2000 years ago, Hashem had just taken us out of Egypt with 10 amazing plagues, He split the sea for us to cross, gave us heavenly food to eat and we had just received the Torah.聽 We were poised and ready to enter the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey.聽 But even after all of this, we were not sure.聽 Was it really a land flowing with milk and honey?聽 Could we REALLY believe Hashem?聽 Huh?聽 After all that we still doubted Hashem?聽 It is true.聽 We wanted to send spies to the promised land to verify what Hashem really said was true.聽 Hashem let us.聽 Twelve spies were sent to scope the land and then come and relate a report to the rest of us.聽 Then, a terrible thing happened. Ten of the spies told a negative report.聽 They spoke lashon hara.聽 Not only that, we believed the lashon hara and we spend the entire night crying.聽 Crying for nothing.

Hashem then told us that since we cried for nothing that night, the night of Tisha B’Av, that would be a day where we would cry for something.聽 Wow!聽 Hashem was being so cruel you may say.聽 Just because we cried, Hashem made this day to be full of terrible calamity for us.聽 Isn’t Hashem suppose to be loving and kind and caring?聽 This does not sound like a loving and kind and caring Hashem!

Let us take a look at the report that the spies brought back.聽 Yes, they said the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey and the huge fruits they brought back showed that.聽 However, there were also giants that lived in the land.聽 The spies said “讘职注值讬谞值讬谞讜旨 讻址旨讞植讙指讘执讬诐 讜职讻值谉 讛指讬执讬谞讜旨 讘职旨注值讬谞值讬讛侄诐” (Bamidbar/Number 23:33) – “…In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.”聽 Meaning, we FELT like grasshoppers so they must have thought we were.聽 The giants never said they thought we were, but we thought so, therefore we must be. 聽Grasshoppers cannot defeat giants.聽 We gave up before we even tried!

Who are we to say what we are capable or not capable of聽achieving聽without even trying?聽 We did not believe Hashem – the All Knowing, the One who created each one of us, the One who knows better than we what we are capable of, the One who performed all those miracles – and instead, we believed the lashon hara spoken.聽 It turns out it was a punishment that we brought upon ourselves.聽 It was us who turned this day into a day of mourning.

My older boys have been kvetching about each other all week.聽 Someone is always seemingly hurting another, and it is obviously always on purpose.聽 Obviously… to them, but not to me.聽 I finally sat them down and told them (again) the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.聽 In short, a wealthy man had a friend, Kamtza, and an enemy, Bar Kamtza.聽 This man threw a party and the servant accidentally invited Bar Kamtza.聽 Bar Kamtza thought this man wanted to make up with him and went to the party, only to find out that it was all a mistake and the host was upset his enemy showed up.聽 After repeated attempts by Bar Kamtza to pay for part, half and then all of the party just so he would not feel embarrassed about being thrown out, his pleas were refused.聽 Not a single rabbi or guest at the party said anything to help alleviate the anger and tension between the two men.聽 In the end, Bar Kamtza set up a trick to get the Caesar upset with the Jews.聽 Not only did the Caesar get upset, but he destroyed the Bais Hamikdash. (See a more complete story here.)

We sat and talked about what that all means – to have strife amongst people, to always feel that people are out to get you.聽 What does that kind of thinking bring you?聽 The destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.聽 When we have strife with others, we are thinking only of ourselves and not anyone else.聽 We talked about how lucky they were to be able to become close friends with each other.聽 Most siblings are friends with peers, but not their siblings.聽 Friends will come and go, but siblings will always be there, no matter where everyone lives.聽 Baruch Hashem, my sister and I are very close, however, that only happened after we were both married. My boys have the opportunity to create an even greater bond by starting out loving each other now. 聽If I hand someone a stick, they will be able to break it very easily, however, if I give them 20 sticks in a bundle, they will most likely not be able to break it.聽 The same goes for brothers and sisters who are close and care for each other. 聽When we are all united, we cannot be broken.

Okay, so they understand that they need to love each other and help each other, but what really does that mean?聽 That means they need to start giving each other the benefit of the doubt.聽 Instead of coming to me crying every time someone touches them so that they can tell me what the other person did and get that person into trouble, it means they need to believe that people are not out to get them.聽 When someone touches them, or hurts them, they need to believe that person did not purposely mean to hurt them.聽 Perhaps the person did not know they were there, perhaps the person was just wanting to get their attention and did not realized what they did hurt.聽 It also could be that you got them angry and they reacted.

Whatever the case is, if we can have a more positive outlook at everyone – giving them the benefit of the doubt, that will prevent strife and help create love for others.聽 When we have love for each other we are united and hard to break – just like the bundle of sticks. 聽As this fast is coming to a close (just a couple more minutes over here – and yes, it has taken me that long to write and cuddle kids, and send them to bed!) let us take a few moments and reflect on our lives. 聽How is it that *I* can create less strife? 聽Who am I angry with and how can I resolve the conflict? 聽Are they really out to get me, or am I taking things out of context? 聽Should I be giving anyone the benefit of the doubt? 聽How can I create more ahavas yisroel (literally: love of Israel – more love for each Jew)?

When we are united we are no longer thinking just about ourselves, we are watching out for the entire Jewish nation. 聽We are also more careful to not speak lashon hara. 聽It is up to each one of us. 聽You may be thinking this is a hard and unimaginable task, however, remember not to quit before you try. 聽We *CAN* do it, we just have to try. 聽Let us not cry for no reason any more. 聽Let us trust in Hashem that we really can. 聽It is at this time Hashem will bring Moshiach, the third and final Bais Hamikdash and the final redemption, speedily in our days.


Well, as Pesach is getting close to being finished, I have decided that I actually have time to sit down and write, though my luck the boys will come in from outside or the little one will get up from his nap before I can get very far.

“Ma nishtana hashanah hazeh mikol hashanos” (Why is this year different from other years)?

For some reason this year was very different with all preparations than any in the past.聽 When the boys were younger, I was the soul teacher, and it was easy to take a morning or afternoon and we would all head to one room in the house, tear it apart and clean it.聽 The next day, or the day after, the same thing would happen to another part of the house, until it was all done.聽 I do not remember what happened last year, but this year it was a little different.聽 Firstly, last year I made a mistake – I started in the bedrooms and then worked my way to the basement, (leaving the kitchen for last.)聽 It was a mistake for by the time we did the search for all the chometz, my dear husband was very upset for the rooms had been lived in again and there was absolutely no way we did any cleaning! (I think I vaguely remember after him yelling at me for the umpteenth time, telling him that next year he could do the cleaning…..)

So, this year I vowed not to let that happen again.聽 I decided to start with the least used room, and work up to the most used (messiest) room in the house, and then the kitchen.聽 There was only one problem – now that my boys did set classes online with their Rebbe, how was I going to grab their help for any length of time to clean?聽 We ended up doing a room on a Sunday, and then on a non-school weekday (a Friday – yes, we only do a 4 day “schedule” – more on that in a later post, G-d willing) tackling the basement.聽 We are lucky, there is not much in the basement (on purpose), and it was just cleaned a week or so before for our company that came over.聽 The rest of the house I did the week before Pesach.

Why did I leave it so late?聽 Well, other than just not wanting to drive myself crazy and work in the evenings and get to sleep late, I prefer to take the easy way out.聽 Both cellars were closed off, as well as the garage, a few of the closets and the pantry.聽 I also take the easy way out and make simple meals.聽 I have a nice recipe I use for a whole turkey – I can make a soup, roast turkey, and shnitzel, in less than 2 hours.聽 That is about 4 meals worth of main dishes.

My husband took all the boys to the zoo (2 hours away!) for the day, and that let me clean our room, as well as all the laundry.聽 I won’t mention the bedroom took 4 hours (ouch!)聽 As our room gets to be the “storage” room on a regular basis, it was so nice to get it back again!

I did not teach the week before Pesach, however, the boys attended their online classes.聽 We enjoyed our seders.聽 The boys look forward to jumping frogs, hail landing in their grape juice, and the largest locusts seen.聽 And, while the rest of the parents are taking their children all over town this week, I am taking yet another week off of school and hiding in my room, letting the boys read, run outside, go to the library, and try to fly a kite.聽 Sometimes I feel like a “bad” parent – but then again, I remember I spend quality time with my boys the entire year, and do not have to try to cram it all in to a few days at a time several times a year.聽 It was not all so bad, they did have a bochor who came over for one afternoon and spent several hours with them teaching them different things, as well as another playdate for my youngest the next day.

We are also a one car family, and the weather the last few days has been weird, and I have been letting my husband take the van instead of riding to work on the scooter in the rain.聽 And now, it is nice and sunny, no hail, no rain, and we do not have a car to go to the (local) zoo.聽 Perhaps tomorrow 馃檪聽 And yes, I know tomorrow is erev Yom Tov again, but there is plenty of time to cook and go to the zoo and take showers!

So, for those that read this during Pesach – I wish all of you a wonderful rest of the Yom Tov, and for those that read this afterwards, hope you had a wonderful and Pesach.聽 Hope all of us are able to pull free from our enslavement of our Egypt this year!

(Oh, and yes, all boys came into the room, but they were kind enough to let me finish typing! Yeah!)

Our Vacation During Non-Vacation Week

!诪砖谞讻谞住 讗讚专 诪专讘讬诐 讘砖诪讞讛
When Adar enters, happiness increases!

It’s Rosh Chodesh Adar, and there is a lot of good mazal (“luck” – for lack of a better word, when I find one, I’ll replace it) in this month. 聽We are told this month is a good month for success – if one needs to start a new business, get a new job, or just needs success in other matters, this is the month to start things. 聽(Permission was encouraged by the artist for everyone to share the image to encourage the spirit of Purim!)

This week was vacation week for the public (and some private) schools. 聽It was not supposed to be a vacation week over here. 聽The nice thing about homeschooling is that we get to pick our vacation, and it does not have to correspond to what anyone else is doing. 聽However, for a non-vacation week, it sure turned out more like a vacation week – that too is the beauty of homeschooling. 聽We get to change our plans and have unexpected “vacation”, and just make up for it later, either by not taking a vacation at a later date, or by adding a few days onto our school calendar.

Not quite sure what we did at the beginning of the week, but the boys had a few days off from their learning with their Rebbe (, and on Monday we got most of our learning done in 2 hours – all three boys! 聽We learned something new – one of my boys is a late reader, and begged me to let him do his reading opposed to having me do all his reading for him.

Tuesday I decided it was time to clean. 聽It was a hard morning. 聽I have one child who, because of his personality and his wonderful attributes, just cannot clean! 聽It does not matter what creative way I try, it is like pulling teeth to get him to do anything. 聽I have to say, I personally clean his room several times a year when I get fed up with it and fed up with trying to get it clean otherwise. 聽Last time I did it was about a month ago when I bought some nice Closet Maid cubbies, along with the cloth baskets to go inside, thinking if there was something to store things in, it would help, at least a little. 聽But this time the room was worse than ever. After all the other boys and I cleaned the rest of the house, and after trying for 3 hours to get him to clean, I went in and spent an hour cleaning. 聽I thought the funny part was when he came in and huffed and fell on top of the bed complaining that he does all the work in the house (as I’m finishing up cleaning his room!) 聽I was not quite sure what to say to him at that point.聽 Our house is still fairly clean (and surprisingly so is this boy’s room!)

Yesterday we had to go to the scout store to get needed items for all the boys (and even the 2 year old). 聽Anyone who has boys and lives in the US, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts is definitely recommended! (There are only 2 countries in the world that do NOT have co-ed Scouts – the US and I *think* South Africa — definitely not Canada nor Israel). 聽The scout store is like a totally kosher candy store. 聽Normally, the boys need to look for hechshers (kosher symbols) on the candy, but in a totally kosher candy store, the only limit is what I say. 聽Same goes for a toy store. 聽Normally I say “NO” to most things the boys ask me (and 聽then I feel like a bad mom), however, in the scout store, I just let them roam around and “oo” and “ahhh” at everything on the shelves and then pick out what they want.

All three boys sold a lot of (kosher) popcorn as a fundraiser for scouting (totaling聽around $4000 worth of popcorn! Yeah boys!) 聽For prizes, they each got gift cards. 聽Two boys chose cards for the scout store… and yesterday was D-Day. 聽So, we made 3 different kinds of slime, I have a 2 year old who was excited for his “TV” 聽(translation: ATV – All Terrain Vehicle) that was made of wood that he will be painting this afternoon. 聽I had string tied across my living room and had space derby vehicles whizzing by. 聽I have 2 bear bells that keep dinging around the house (yes – bear bells — bells to wear in the woods when there might be a bear, and since I could not come up with a good reason not to get them, they got them for of course, the scout motto is “Be Prepared!”) 聽I actually felt like the stereotypical “Homeschool Parent” (see the image on my previous post!)

Today, my oldest went out for a scout camp out. 聽For some reason, no one would go into the car when it was time. 聽We were all finally in the car, I was going to pick up a boy down the street as well…… and then the car wouldn’t start.聽 Baruch Hashem, the other mother was home and was able to take both boys to the camp. 聽I purchased an AAA membership a few months ago (for the first time in about 8 years), and gave them a call.

Now, here is where religious-homeschool parents will take out their creative juices, for instead of just learning from a story or a book in school about things such as middos (character traits) and other lessons that need learning, homeschooling children many times learn through experience. 聽After AAA came and boosted the van, we drove down to the mechanics to get a new battery. 聽On the way, the boys and I discussed the events of the morning. 聽Even though it looks like it was a bad morning – the van died, we missed the market, and we needed to get a new battery – we have to understand that we do not know what MIGHT have happened if things did not go the way they did. 聽Hashem set up today months ago and put us in a position that we decided we needed an AAA membership. 聽Perhaps if the van did not die, we would have left on time and would have gotten into an accident. 聽Perhaps if the battery did not die this morning, it would have died in a very inconvenient time and place (like on the road in between towns, etc.) 聽Each experience we have, each聽decision we make, molds us. 聽By taking being able to teach Torah thoughts and attitudes through living examples ingrains the lessons inside the neshama.

Well, I was going to talk a bit about our Limudei Kodesh studies, for that is always a hot topic for Jewish Homeschoolers, but I guess that is part of homeschooling too – sometimes we step out of our routines!

We made a decision…. Now what?

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Tu B’Shevat. 聽It is an especially wonderful chag (holiday) in our house. 聽Not only is it the birthday of the trees, it is the birthday of boy #2 and it is nice to take the day and make it even more special. 聽So, I am wishing my 10 year old a wonderful birthday! 聽(The cake is supposed to resemble a聽pomegranate聽cut open. 馃檪 聽)

This post is actually a continuation of the previous posting. 聽The first step was coming up with our decision. 聽The next step was deciding what in the world I was going to do. Actually, these two steps were made聽simultaneously. 聽As I was investigating, I investigated different curricula, but it was not until I found the answers to my questions did I feel I was ready. 聽And when I was ready, I already had the material I was going to use.

As I mentioned, during the six months of research, I investigated all sorts of curricula and methods, and given the fact that this was the first year homeschooling, and I was not sure I could/would find the time to create my own, (and why should I re-invent the wheel anyways, if something else is out there?) I settled upon Calvert’s homeschooling package. 聽This appealed to me for Calvert sends everything one needs to start homeschooling, including pencils, paper and a pencil sharpener! 聽What more could I ask for? 聽And, at just under $700 (which included teacher support the entire year, and ATS – optional testing/grading by accredited teachers,) it was 92% cheaper than our day school.聽 What a deal!

At the time we had 3 boys, the youngest being only 18 months. 聽I was going to homeschool our oldest only, who was going to be almost 5, and entering grade 1. 聽(We felt that he had more than the mental capability at such a young age and with his personality it would be better to push him than keep him behind.)

Calvert lists the average amount of time required for each of their subjects, so before our new school year was to begin, I made a schedule – starting at about 9 am. 聽I quickly ran into a big problem. 聽For kindergarten, they were suggesting 2.5-3 hours of school work — Ok, so 9am-12pm. 聽BUT, that was not going to work! 聽I was going to have one boy at a playgroup, and I was going to have my baby (ok, toddler) at home, and there was nap time, as well as having to feed him and play with him – he was not a newborn, and so just having him sit next to us was not going to work. 聽I had to have everything done by lunch time, for that was when I had to go get my other child and spend time with him too! 聽How could I homeschool?

As with most people, I was never homeschooled and until this time, I do not recall ever meeting (let alone talk too) another homeschool parent/child. 聽People get used to a school setting: Go to school by a certain time in the morning. 聽Bell rings. 聽Take attendance, class. 聽Bell rings. 聽Change class/recess. 聽Bell rings. 聽Lunch. 聽Bell rings. 聽Afternoon classes and recess. 聽The bell rings for these as well. 聽We are conditioned with the bell. 聽Also, how we are taught is similar throughout almost all schools – Textbooks and worksheets.

Then the breakthrough happened. 聽I learned something very important to homeschooling, something seemingly so obvious, but not obvious to most people:

You do not have to follow a standard school schedule.

What this means is that I do not have to do a 9-12 school, I can teach whenever I want/need/have time too. 聽If I want to start before the standard school starting time, then I can. 聽If I want to take the entire morning off for it does not fit our family schedule, and teach only in the afternoons, then I can. 聽If I wanted to teach a little in the mornings and then a little in the afternoon when the two younger boys went down for a nap, I was allowed that too. 聽I realized I was allowed to think out of the box. 聽I was free to be different. 聽There is no “one size fits all” approach in homeschooling. 聽As I was to find out over the years, this applies to the teaching style and materials used as well.

With this enlightenment, my eyes were opened, and all of a sudden this big heavy burden was lifted from my shoulders. 聽I was actually getting really excited. 聽I could see that I could do it, and I was not worried if things did not quite work out. 聽I knew that I was allowed to try things a different way.

This was not going to be the first time that things just “seemed to click”, and I am sure there will be a few more to come. 聽As I am learning more and more lately, homeschooling is learning for everyone in the family, not just the children.