Nachamu, Nachamu – Comfort

KIMG0964***I’m a week late in posting this – it was ready before Tisha B’Av, but I was having computer issues with inserting the pictures and then I was about to upload the pictures and come to find out it erased most of my blog. Guess it was not meant to be. Here is try 2!***

Time flies when your having fun, or just too busy to sit down and write. 😉 Between the 100 degree heat, adventures in Big Bend National Park, cooling down at the Macdonald Observatory to view the Moon, Saturn, as well as Jupiter and Venus, back to the 100 degree heat, staying cool inside, doing some cleaning and (finally) some organizing, and finding nice places to go walking in nature, I have felt constantly busy.

It has been a long time since we started our adventure to our new place with moving four times in about 4 months, unpacking an entire house in the few weeks before Pesach,KIMG0893 trying to finish up schooling, or what was called schooling for this year, and trying to figure out why things are just not settling down. It’s been about 3 months since Pesach finished, I thought we would be more than settled into a routine and start to feel “at home.” After all, when there are no boxes left in the house, it starts to “look” like it might be home, even if it does not feel like home. There really is nothing from stopping us from at least acting like we are at home. What we think should happen is often times different that what really happens. Reality was that I felt I have been treading water for the last 10 months, starting from the few weeks before we moved. I have been forgetting about appointments the last month, among other things, and we really have not been doing much schooling, so what has been going on?

No schedule. Oh, we have tried various schedules at different times over the months, and we can seem to stick with it for the most part, until the next change in our live (ie KIMG0813move) and then we go through a phase of what feels like chaos for we are not really doing school but we are busy doing needed things. Every month or two that is what has happened. After Pesach, when we finally were able to breath for a few minutes and realize that “this is it,” I tried to do schooling for a month or so to finish up the year, but I never could really get into a routine and always felt I was just treading water, never going anywhere. Yes, the boys went camping one week with Grandpa, we all went with Grandpa a few weeks later and last week I had one with the yearly-taking-of one-boy-out-with-Grandpa now. (Yes, I think Grandpa is happy we moved down here!) But still, I should be able to keep a schedule!

Then it dawned on me. What I am feeling is the lack of grounding. We are in a new place with new friends and Daddy has a new job with new hours, and there is nothing that is familiar for us (me) to hang on to when things change. Before, when our schedule would change, Daddy’s hours were fairly constant, and if his hours were crazy for a while, we had our daily school routine that was constant. There was always something to fall back on. Here, it’s been almost 10 months of all newness. However, over the last couple of weeks I think I finally figured it out.

It is summer and we can do our summer schedule, and really should do our summer schedule. Which is…basically nothing. We daven, do our chitas and are supposed to do our mishnayos and that is about it. It may not seem like a schedule, but we schedule in all2015-06-29_17-47-18 the nothingness, which when you schedule it in, it really is a schedule. It is something that we know, something that we do every summer, it is our grounding. We might be in a new city, a new house, have new friends and need to figure out Daddy’s new work schedule, but we have our familiar summer schedule. It has been such a relief and has felt like a huge load has been taken off my shoulders. I have been able to do some organizing and even gotten most of the way to organizing our new year. We have our new homeschool cabinet – the wet bar area that has been refitted with a bookcase (should not be surprising. 😉  ) I have decided on what books we will be reading this year and have purchased most of them. I have completed a first draft of the secular learning schedule (I do not feel quite comfortable with it but it is a really good start and I’ll mull it over for a few days.) I am starting to feel like I am standing on my feet on solid ground again.

Mr. Little has turned 6 and has lost his first tooth! He is so big that he planned for himself a birthday party and invited all his friends over. The only issue is that he did this all by himself without my knowledge! Baruch Hashem he did let me know on his plans the day before his birthday and so when I got phone calls from the children themselves asking if they were invited over for his birthday party, I was mentally prepared and told them that we were just having cake and they were welcome to join us in half an hour. 🙂

We just came from a very low time in the Jewish year, Tisha B’Av, the time when we 2015-06-29_17-46-47mourn our loss, not only of the Bais Hamikdash, but of the loss of our closeness to our Creator, our King, our Father. The good part is that once we are low, the only way to go is up. After all our moves and all the changes and challenges, I am finally feeling that our home is on the up as well. We have hit bottom. The elevator only goes up from here.

We just had Shabbos Nachamu, which is a special Shabbos for us personally, not just the comforting Shabbos after Tisha B’Av. (Okay, okay, DH and I got married Erev Shabbos Nachamu. 🙂  ) This year we also had dear friends surprise us and came over to spend it with us. It was so nice to visit with familiar faces. A beautiful family with a girl, and boys who were aged in between all our boys. It was a blast and also a comfort. How befitting. Nothing is coincidence. 😀 I feel refreshed and excited about our new year. I feel there are a lot of wonderful things in store for us this year. Wishing “y’all” all the best in your preparations for the coming school year!

The Rest of the Year

library_beforeMy 4 year old, while we are in the car: “Mommy, I want the Bais Hamikdash song!”

I had absolutely no clue what song he was talking about, but he asked me several times while we were driving. I was going through my brain, trying to figure the song out. My oldest bought a few CD’s recently with his Bar Mitzvah money. It was not the Maccabeats, no, we have had those CD’s for a long time. I had Six13 playing and I quickly flipped through the songs for him. No. Well, perhaps it is Lipa. A brother helped me put Lipa in while I drove and we flipped through those songs. No, the only song he knew from that CD was “Hang Up the Phone.” No. No clue. Poor boy was so distraught. He wanted his Bais Hamkidash song! We had to wait and I asked my oldest if he knew what his little brother was talking about the next time we got into the car. It turns out that it was Cantor Helfgot and Itzchak Perlman! I was driving and the little boy was in the back seat, but the squeals of delight as he heard the violin start playing his song was wonderful. Beautiful song and it lasts 9 minutes and 58 seconds, and my youngest was singing along the entire time.

It’s been hard to get back into the swing of things after our winter vacation. It took a few weeks, but I finally sat down and redid our schedule. I was so20140211_122606 proud of myself and I printed it out (took 8 pages), taped it together and attached it to our kitchen wall. As I was in the middle of taping, I noticed… a mistake. Oops. Oh well, it is hard to find all the mistakes until it is in print. We have made (well, really in the middle of the process of making) major and minor changes.

We had some things that had been working for us until recently, and with growing boys, we have made some executive decisions. Firstly, some of the minor changes I made. We have the older boys going through Rambam while watching videos with Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon on While trying to be efficient with time, okay, it was mostly out of convenience, but don’t tell anyone, I would have all three boys watch the videos together. As long as I was in the room with them, that was fine. However, it is hard to stay in the room when another little boy “needs”  to learn his school work. One might think that this is not an issue, until one realizes that once the parent leaves the room, the other boys tend to think that they can be boys.

20140211_122621So, we are working on getting their tablets all set up so that they can all listen to their Rambam videos separately, and wearing headphones (so they can be with me in the same room and I spend some time with my Bais Hamikdash boy) – which leads us to our major change. In order for them to be allowed to use their tablets, we have to make sure that when we sit them down with the tablets, they are likely to actually watch and listen, opposed to finding other things to do instead and I am not noticing. You know, like checking their email, etc. At first we were thinking that we would remove internet access to the tablets, which meant to remove the actual ability of the tablet to find any internet to try to connect to. To do that, you have to hack the tablet and start messing with the actual programming of it. Well, we got all the way to the last step and we “bricked” the tablet – meaning it won’t even turn on to use. Oops. We had to get another tablet. (We got the lower end tablets, and with a higher end tablet we would most likely would have been able to fix it by re-installing the whole system, similar to when one has to wipe out their Windows computer and re-install the Windows system.)

While waiting to decide what we are going to do now, I made the decision that the desktop computer was getting abused and I finally went and removed internet access to that computer – by pulling the plug to their internet router. We have two routers; one with a password, and one that was supposed to be filtered and with no password. (The filter, for some reason, stopped working.) Once the router that did not require a password was unplugged, there can be no access through tablets. That means we can upload videos through a thumb drive and do not have to worry about boys playing around so much (and don’t have to worry about screwing up another tablet!) Yes, we did get drop and spills protection, but that does not include when we root the tablet and mess up the programming end.

It’s been too cold to go out some days. Boys are kvetchy. Tried bribing them in getting work done fast so we can put up bookcases (a wonderful homeschool treat!!!!) Didn’t work. Bookcases came, school work was not done, and couldn’t get them to finish the work so we can put up the bookcases. A few days later and we finally finished screwing in all the screws to the 3rd and final Bais Hamikdash, oops, bookcase. 😉 We are still working on arranging all the books. With 3 new bookcases, you would think there would be some empty shelves. Right now I have 2 that are empty…for now, however, we are not done.

We have rearranged some furniture from our library (where the bookcases are) to the living room. We rather like it and think of keeping it, at least for now, this way. My chair is sitting right next to the bookcase on the hearth (and it’s within reach of my arms!) and instead of having my papers pile up all over the place, I am removing the books from one of the shelves and replace them with a few containers where I can store the papers and whatnot that I use throughout the day. I am hoping that it will make the fireplace area look a lot neater.