20131114_084538After a Bar Mitzvah (and since we did a Thursday morning service, we even got pictures!), lots of family (Baruch Hashem!), vacation over Thanksgiving to visit more family, Chanukah, and school reports written and sent in, I think we are ready to get back to some normality again. Not all family was able to come, but the ones that were able to come meant a lot to us. My sister brought over 5 cousins to play with, along with her husband. We were also blessed to have Saba and Savta and one brother over. It is so nice to be able to celebrate with family. We had 16 people stay over in our house and it reminded me of the story The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. I played the video narration of the book for everyone since I could not find our copy of the book to read. I could not help myself and after the first set of visitors left, I transcribed the book, adjusted the words to make it match our family, chose photos to go with the words and voila! I had a photo book full of our memories. Lots of laughs and lots of fun. (My youngest came up to me this morning for he found the missing book!)

It always seems to take a bit to get back into a routine, especially after several weeks of being out of one, though I think we did pretty good this week. We are trying to do as the schedule says, but it does not help too much when I am late at getting myself ready – I just cannot seem to be able to want to get moving in the morning, however, once I am moving it is not too bad. Our schedule has changed over the past month; there is no more Amateur Radio classes for the older two boys, some extra music teaching students have changed days and times, Mr. Bar Mitzvah boy is not laining but he is going to shul for all three minyamin now which is making the late afternoon a bit harried sometimes, and both older boys are happy to be attending chavrusa learning twice a week which has changed some of our evening plans (but I really cannot complain that they love learning!) I really need to be able to sit down and think a little bit about how to make everything work out. Today was a really crazy one and nothing seemed to really work out as it should have.

The really crazy thing is that I am all of a sudden finding spare time during the day – during teaching time! I am not sure how that is happening. I am even 20131114_084941looking at the chart I put on the wall multiple times a day to make sure I am not missing anything. I honestly am not sure what is different, though I try not to complain and try to find things to do such as sweeping, mopping, folding laundry, etc. Though I do admit that sometimes I just sit down… and do nothing, and feel weird about doing it.

I have been working on trying to be more organized. I have tried it before with varied success. I hate coming into the kitchen to work with kids and the clean kitchen from the morning is no longer there. I can clean a house, but it never seems to stay anything like it should. I have been thinking about trying to keep the house better in a different light. It seems to me (at least it does this week,) that organizing a house is like going on a diet – one can go on a rampage and do a house cleaning, but it will not likely stay clean. Same for a diet – one can loose a lot of weight all at once, but almost always those “diets” are very short lived. I am trying a different way; I am slowly re-organizing things so it looks cleaner, and trying to keep the new re-organizing before adding new things to the plate. My goal is to eventually get to the point where everything is usually in the right spot, more often than not, and when it is not, it does not take that much time and effort to get it there. I have been thinking of ways that will work for our family, using how the members in our family work. Reminds me of how I teach; I have to use the strengths and weaknesses of each child and tailor my teaching accordingly. I find that instead of thinking, “this person SHOULD be doing this, or that” and then getting20131114_091303_a annoyed when they don’t, I try to think “this person is not doing what I would like them to do, how can I get them to do it?” I have a feeling that my organizing process is going to take the next, oh, 14 years or so? 😉

Rolling on to a connected thought, a friend posted a wonderful blog from a stay-at-home mom. So, I will not mind if my house is not organized like I want for the next 14 years or so, for I plan on treasuring seeing a 4 year old all bundled up from being outside in the cold and the snow and walking like a penguin, while I walk towards him the same way and we both laugh. I also plan on tucking away memories of putting children to bed and at 11 pm at night I still have all boys up and awake and not sleeping. IMG_1656_a(Should I get them up extra early in the morning? 😉  )

I Am Still Here, Really!

20131027_152342It has been a while since I have been able to sit down and write. Preparing for a low-key Bar Mitzvah sure has taken up a lot of time – between making sure everything is going as needed at the right time to trying to finish some needed things off in time, time has sure contracted and as the days grow shorter and a halachic hour is getting shorter, it seems to have affected the speed of the hands on my clocks as well!

Last night I went through some pictures that were almost 13 years old. As I went through the folders on the computer and my husband and I walked through Memory Lane, he told me it was enough to make him cry. He was sad when thinking about the past, how all the boys are growing up and thinking that in the not so near future they will almost be all grown up. I told him that the boys are just becoming to Be. Our oldest is just becoming to be his own real self, who he really is going to be. Yes, each boy has shown their own personality right from the beginning, but they have been busy learning and growing. Now, our oldest is just starting to be his own person. We still need to continue to guide him over the next several years, but it is going to be a different kind of guidance.

One of the boys put on Shabbos music a little while ago and we were all in the kitchen making various food for Shabbos, I know that one day I will be doing this by myself again and I will not be looking at one boy making dough and I will not be seeing flour flying all over the room in order that the dough not stick to the counter, on the floor, clothing, air, and who knows where. However, today said boy made amazing knishes and even cleaned up after himself.

Not everything as been able to have been done school wise for the last few weeks for my oldest for he has been busy practicing his laining and preparing for his speech. He also 20131030_221223has SAT math and vocabulary that he has been working on and yes, it has been a lot, however in less than 2 weeks his load will have lightened up a bit. Boys are finishing up selling all their popcorn and my oldest even did his first sewing project on the sewing machine – they are making a tallis in Boy Scouts. He sure did a great job! Even I learned something new by learning how to sew button holes with my machine.

In the meantime, I am enjoying all the wonderful chefs and the delicious smells in the house today. They are sure turning into wonderful cooks. We are almost done cooking and are going to spend a few hours cleaning, writing Dvar Torahs and showers!

Wishing everyone a restful Shabbos.

Our Long Weekend and Scroll Tutor Review

20131013_183924 (2)Another busy week has past and another busy week has started. The boys went on a scout campout Sunday and Monday, and since DH was their scoutmaster as well, it was just me and the little one at home for some nice quiet time. Motzei Shabbos I sat down with him and had him tell me what he wanted to eat the next day. We settled on some pasta for lunch (which he made for me) and pizza for supper. I was able to convince him that jellybeans would best be had for a snack opposed to a full meal. 😉 We had a nice lazy morning with some beautiful weather, picked up a tefillin bag for my oldest who starts to put on tefillin this week (!!!) and even got to surprise Daddy and brothers by coming by the campsite for supper (we pushed pizza till the next day and had delicious fire cooked hot dogs and hamburgers instead, complete with roasted marshmallows.)  I think the car is finally cleaned out, with all the camping gear still in the living room, however, all boys had showers and all clothes are in the hamper (I think…) I have decided that all clothes are going in the laundry at the same time – This time I will not discriminate between lights, darks, heavy, thin, etc. I believe in all clothes getting the same opportunity to being washed and dried. 😉 (Just do not tell the boys that, for then they will want to do it all the time!)

This morning is the first morning that my oldest put on his new tefillin! As I woke up early and saw father and son leave the room, I made sure to remind my husband, for the third time, to remember to take at least one picture for me. No, I am not excited in the least. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now between trying to figure out what to do with the scout popcorn this week as well as work on details for the Big Day next month. But, have no fear, the nice thing is that even if I don’t do anything, time still goes on! Ha! And yes, that does comfort me as I try to juggle everything for Time comes and Time goes, and Life really does go on and I won’t get stuck in a rut. C’est la vie!

There is a new website that has just launched call Scroll Tutor. They have 10 minute videos on Chumash and they are starting off with Parshas Shemos. Right now, there is a new video once a week and they are sending out a weekly email with the next video link. I received the link to the 3rd video this weekend
20131013_121938 and finally got around to pulling up a video to watch. I figured that I could afford to spare 10 minutes to check it out especially with everyone out of the house.

The videos are definitely geared a little more towards children, though, as an adult, I did enjoy watching it as well. (They do advertise it is for both children and adults.) The videos are very similar the kind of videos done on Khan Academy. The speaker has the Hebrew text on the screen, goes through it and translates it, talks briefly about it and then pulls up Rashi to answer some questions. He puts in some clip art in as well to help the viewer better visualize what is being talked about and to help keep the interest of the viewer. He underlines the words as he goes, which I thought was great for there was regular motion to redirect delicious minds to keep focused on the task at hand. 10 minutes. Nice, short and sweet. Very easy to fit into busy schedules as well. There really is no excuse not to fit in 10 minutes into the day. Right now there is one chapter sent out every week, with about 6 six videos per chapter. After all, 10 minutes a day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks, that is 520 hours or 21.7 days more of Torah learning a year! And hey, if even one of my children learn 21.7 extra days of Torah learning a year, that is 21.7 extra days of credit that I get on my account, and I have 4 boys, so that is 86.7 days and if I sit down to learn with them, well, it is starting to look mighty good. I know, I’m just thinking of myself. 😉

I thought of my one little boy that I am the one struggling to understand better, who really is taller than me, and thought he would really benefit from videos like these. So, as I prodded one little boy a few times (this one really is shorter than me still,) to keep awake while finishing up the Rambams they were doing and then sent 3 off to bed, I kept the one boy behind to show him the video. Even though he was tired from the campout, he was really good at focusing and listening.

20131015_070925I asked him what he thought about it and then what he liked and what he didn’t like. His answers, in order, are 1) he liked the pictures and 2) he liked how it was taught. (The teaching style.) I asked if he liked how it was underlined and if it helped keep his focus and he said yes. He did not have anything he did not like. He also told me “too bad he does not do videos for trop,” my guess he is thinking about HIS bar mitzvah that is coming up in the not so distant future. As he walked sleepily off to bed, he asked me if he could watch more tomorrow. They are planning on having a subscription for the videos, but right now you can sign up for a free trial.
I think campouts are a great thing, and think they should have more of them for within minutes, the room with 4 boys was silent. They all fell fast asleep.

Back to Reality

20131002_120156After all the wonderful holidays, we are back in reality. I really felt it on Shabbos even though Yom Tov went directly into Shabbos, when Simchas Torah was gone, so was that special feeling. This week we are back in the real world. It has been quite busy this week, with popcorn selling, popcorn selling and more popcorn selling. I have two boys who are taking Amateur Radio classes; one boy is going for his license, and a second boy is going for an upgrade to be able to use more radio bands.

Even though we have not had that many real school days so far because of the Yomim Tovim, I finally figured out why we always seemed to be missing 15 minutes in the morning, right at the beginning of the day. I am not sure what I was thinking, for I really did give only 15 minutes to something that should take 30. I was able to rearrange the schedules to include that extra 15 minutes, as well as fix some of the other issues that arose as well. That’s the nice thing about being the boss of the schedule. J This week went a lot smoother than previous attempts.

I was thinking about my right-brained son last night. I am sure there are readers that are wondering how things are going, and what I am doing differently in20131004_175704 teaching him. The truth is, I have been so pre-occupied with the wonderful Yomim Tovim that I have done nothing. Though I have felt so much more at ease just knowing he is right-brained. I know that there are resources out there that can help me teach him the way he learns best and that knowledge in itself has been quite comforting. What I have done this week is give him a… calculator. (Yikes!) The questions they were asking were using rather large numbers and to do them in my head would take some time, let alone this boy.  The questions were about finding the lowest common multiple of two numbers. For those who do not know what that means, it entails doing the multiplication tables for two different numbers until you find a common multiple. The lcm(8,16) is an easy one – 16, but the lcm(25,35) is not as inherent. He understood what was expected of him and instead of having him just guess the correct answer for he felt it was impossible for him to do, I gave him the calculator and off he went. It took a subject that he was not excited about and changed it to one that he actually seemed to enjoy. This was hard for me to do for there is a stigma that giving a calculator is liken to cheating. But, I am not asking him what 6×6 is, I am asking him to go a step further. If one does not know what it means to find the lcm(25,35), using a calculator will not help. The next time math came up in the schedule, he went to grab the calculator, paper and pen and just went about his business. Needless to say, he got many more questions right in such a short time.

We were forced to try another change in different area. I had been having all three boys listening to their Rambam videos together, but unless I am in the room it does not work out very well. I went out Motzei Shabbos to listen to a speaker and my husband and 3 boys were home, all learning with DH learning something different than the boys. I took one boy and gave him a computer and headphones and sat him beside his father in one room, and the other two boys were on another computer in another room. The boy who learned by himself liked it so much that he asked for it again. It worked out really well.

On Friday, our library next door was having one of its quarterly book sales. I usually let each boy choose one book a piece and then I go and find potential school books (i.e. the classics) as well as other free reads they might be interested in and ones that I would approve of (historical fiction usually.)  I needed Shakespeare books for two of the boys and noticed several complete books of Shakespeare.  I decided to choose 3 of the books – one for each boy. For $1a piece, they were a great used book bargain at the library. I inscribed a short message to each boy and handed them a book. They were all very excited. Yup, they are homeschooled boys. Love my job!

20131003_112136 (1)My house is a mess; I was selling popcorn all day with my boys. I keep telling myself that it is almost done – this part of it anyways, though the next part is the easy part. We are pre-selling the popcorn and collecting all the money so all we have to do is go and deliver it and not have to worry about the hassle of trying to collect the money afterwards.  However, I did get ALL my dishes washed up after Shabbos last night. Need to remember to look for the good.

I am off to LaLa Land, and as I remember that this past Shabbos my oldest wore his new Shabbos hat, and oh, looked so spiffy in it, I am going to be dreaming of Bar Mitzvah invitations that I have to come up with now. All for the good. J