purim_5773_smallI hope everyone had a wonderful Purim! It was so nice to have it on a Sunday. It is so much more fun when Daddy can be with us and be a part of the whole Purim affair. We had a WWII General as well as General Robert Lee – Confederate he is quick to tell you, a spy, and of course the famous kohain gadol.  We were honored here this past Shabbos with the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Lau. The boys came to the Oneg Shabbos with him, but just Mommy and Daddy went to hear him speak Motzei Shabbos. Now, on to the next climax of the year, Pesach cleaning! Yes, the most anticipated time of the year, the one that people are talking about even in October (yes, I have friends who were actively discussing it in October…..) I was smart to make our new library chometz free from the start and smart to know that the new boys room was not going to stay chometz free so I did not even bother, but yesterday I attacked my bedroom and surprisingly enough got most of the way through it. I should be able to finish it tonight. The living room was attacked last week, couch moved and cleaned up under and inside, but since Daddy’s chair is now in the kitchen it is not really used much which does make it easier to clean. It really should not be so bad this year. Ask me in 2.5 weeks if I still think so!

This morning I sat in the car a few minutes before coming home from taking my husband to work. I watched a 2 minute video. I ended up showing this video to my boys before we davened. One of my beautiful boys is constantly having a “bad day.” This video was very short but the message was very strong. (I strongly recommend taking the 2 minutes to watch it before reading further.)

Sometimes you try things and they don’t work. I get frustrated and wonder why the kids just don’t do what I want or why everyone is seemingly so against me! Maybe it is not them. Maybe it is me. Maybe I have to change. Change your words, change your world. Whenrabbi_lau_airport things go wrong, perhaps we need to rethink what and how we are doing things. My little one has decided over the last little while that he does not want to daven with me, not even for “his” kind of davening. It is a struggle to get him to sit for anything, and honestly, there have been days that I have decided not to fight him and have not davened with him. With the older boys, for Adon Olam, I pick a boy to give a tune – it gives them a chance to be connected just a little bit to the davening and is something they all look forward too (this morning there was an argument from all boys as to who I chose, except the one I chose (of course! 😉 ) Mr. Little Big wanted so bad to choose the tune, but he was not even dressed yet. It was so hard this morning to be 3! Mommy did not choose him to pick the tune for he was not dressed! He did not want to daven with me, so I decided to change. He needs to daven and he used to like davening with me, but he needs a change.

The boys and I had talked about the video. We talked about the difference between the two signs. It is hard to know what it is like to be blind if one has never been blind, however, we can all relate to having a good day, or the day outside being beautiful. When we can relate to something with someone we can have a connection with them. Once we have made that connection we can feel for someone. This is how we make friends. This morning I had to make that connection with my son, I had to relate to him. I told him that he could daven on my phone with the davening video I found online. (For those who like a “cleaner” YouTube and not have the suggested sites listed on the side, try loading up this YouTube Sanitizer and entering the following link the box: )

rabbi_lau_signingOff he ran to get his clothes. A few minutes later, all dressed with tzitzis, he was ready. He even waited patiently while another brother was finishing his reading on my phone! I then sat him down. He paused the davening to go grab his torah when it was time to sing Torah Tzivah Lanu Moshe, as well Little Torah. After sitting intently and listening, he watched the entire thing all over again. And yet again! I told him in the middle of the third time that that was it for the day. 🙂

I really can’t complain about it. It does not matter what path we take, the goal was achieved. Change your words, change your world. It might not be how I wanted it, but when I see him listening to intently and enjoying everything, I remind myself that is what I want – I want them to enjoy living, Hashem, and love doing His mitzvos. The goal was not to do it my way, the goal was to get him to daven – and to enjoy it. My way was not going to achieve this goal. I changed, I made that connection with him and the goal was achieved.
Now, on to start the rest of the day.

A Full Week!

Wow, the middle of October and hard to believe that we only just finished a full week of school!  It’s been a tough week for boys for as soon as school work was finished, off to selling popcorn.  Baruch Hashem most of the time we were inside, though Baruch Hashem it has been wonderful out here!  I did have the next two days scheduled inside the JCC, but I think we have exhausted the crowd there and I will give some boys a happy break from selling popcorn so they can work on their Foliage Raking elective.  It has been hard to get outside when it is light when we come home at sunset time.  Our yard is wonderfully colored right now, but if we wait much longer I am afraid it will not and instead it will be dull and gloomy looking.

Even with the extra-curricular activity of socialization with selling popcorn, I have been able to spend some time outside getting my exercise with bike rides.  Daddy was even home one day to go out with me, which was an extra bonus. 🙂  I am not really looking forward to the diminishing light, however, on the flip side, the children have been going to sleep a little easier since they do not have the light shining in!  Baruch Hashem I moved south after getting married so the sun sets before 11pm in the summer…….

Over the last 4 months or so I have been going to a friend’s house to learn with a few other friends.  We are reading “Garden of Emuna (faith/belief)” by Rabbi Shalom Arush.  We read a few pages each week and talk about it, taking turns discussing and asking questions.  It is a nice heimishe group.  Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a change.  I do feel a closer connection to our Creator, and I find I am looking at things with a slightly new twist.  I enjoy the weekly getaway, and I feel better about myself and life in general.  I was wondering how I could instill the new feeling of emuna into my boys while they are young instead of waiting for them to get older to read such a book.  It is hard for children to really feel and learn some spiritual concepts while young, but it is so very important.

(Note: This book is not recommended for girls who are in school/seminary until after they have been married for a while – they need to be out in the real world a bit.  I would assume it would be similar for boys, though it is harder for me to tell for I was never a boy!)

To create emuna, one needs to have a connection to Hashem. Someone in our group told a nice parable.  A father had two daughters.  The first daughter was given a credit card and was told she could purchase anything she wanted.  The only condition was that she call before buying anything, but she was welcome to purchase anything.  The second daughter was given a credit card and told she could purchase anything.

The first daughter would find something and call, “Hi Dad, I found this nice skirt, and the price is right.”  “Sure, enjoy!”  The father always agreed to whatever she purchased.  The second daughter would find something and buy it.  No call.  She was not told to call.  At the end of the year, the first daughter had a much closer relationship with her father for she called all the time to touch base and the second daughter never called.

I want our boys to have a similar connection to their Father in Heaven as the first daughter.  Yes, I try to show by example, but I do not show everything I feel.  I do not verbalize all the times I thank Hashem for the little things, and they are not there when I cry out to Hashem to help me with rough days.  So, we have begun a new thing.  At least once a day, at various times in the day, I will sit down with all of them and ask each one of them to tell us for what they are thankful to Hashem for today.  At first it was hard for some of them, and yes, they would sometimes repeat what a brother before him had said, but they are slowly getting the idea.  It does not matter to me what they are thankful for and it does not matter how small the item is.  Actually, sometimes I think it is great that they come up with such tiny things to be thankful for because then they understand that everything is from Hashem, not just the big stuff, and will have a better understanding that Hashem is with them everywhere and at all times.

Today I asked for two things from each boy.  We were eating supper at the time.  I had made a double batch of split pea soup in the crock pot today and each boy, for one of his two things, said they were thankful for the pea soup that they were eating – and they each had a huge smile on their face!  *love*  I am doing somethings right! (And yes, each of the 4 boys had a second helping!)

The boys do like their Rebbe, and the Rabbi does offer a nice range of classes, but I only have one boy in a class at a time usually.  So, that means that not all the boys get all the classes.  It is not all that bad, for some of the classes I make up by teaching myself, and others I plan on having the younger ones take in future years when I age the older one out.  I do this for various reasons, mainly because I need to have time to teach all the boys, and if they are all taking most of the classes, then I would not have time to teach them all everything for they are all on different levels and time is a slight factor!

I feel it is best to teach the boys a couple more combined classes, similar to how we do parsha.  The thing is, I want something that is interesting that could be taught in small doses.  It keeps their interest better so that way they will hopefully remember more.  Davening is always something that is hard to do unless you know what you are saying.  I did find a nice tefillah curriculum that had 24 short lessons on The lessons are to be done one a week. Something simple, but yet helps all the boys learn just a bit at a time, a nice small bite sized amount.  I like small amounts spread over a long period of time.  That is how we do our secular studies.  The idea is that time gives the person time to think about what was learned and gives the subconscious time to mull things over and to solidify the thoughts and ideas.  I have seen how this works well in many cases.  Last year I had a son discuss a reading with me and while he was talking to me he told me, “they did not say in this book, but in the other book we read they also mentioned xxx.”  It was so nice to hear him take things from various sources and put them together to create a whole picture and he was so excited to be able to do that for me and without me even prompting!

I’m signing off here to do some exercising before bed!

Our “First Day” Take Two!

Today was our first “real” day of school.  Yes, we did do school last week, however, Room613 did not start until today so it was our first day with a full schedule.  I was very impressed in how the day turned out.

We started the day with our davening.  It was cool today so most of us wore a sweater.  I thought it was a beautiful morning to daven outside.  My youngest has been into wearing at least his lion hat costume all day.  I have told him he needs to wear a kippah or hat for he is a Jewish boy.  Once he found out his lion hat worked, he has turned into a lion, only taking it off for nap times.  My Lion loves to daven.  He has his favorite siddur and loves to sit and stand and daven.  He is not upset in the above picture, he is putting his whole neshama into davening.  It is just that no sound comes out of his mouth.  He was so into davening this morning.  He is my inspiration. 🙂

Instead of Parsha, this week we are learning about Rosh Hashanah.  I did not want to do the same kind of thing as we have done in the past.  We have learned about Rosh Hashanah for years now, printing off various workbooks from  I went online to last night to see what I could find.  I found some nice learning sheets, however, they were one to two page sheets.   So, I decided I was going to choose something different to learn about each day.  Today we learned about the 10 reasons we blow the shofar during Elul and on Rosh Hashanah. At the bottom was the option to re-write each reason in the child’s own words.  Unfortunately, I had only ink in the printer for the one paper, so we just talked a bit about Rosh Hashanah and then talked about the 10 reasons.

Tomorrow we are going to look at the worksheet talking about the explanation of Yamim Noraim Prayers.  This one is geared towards 6th and 7th grade, but I think all three older boys can appreciate it to an extent.  The explanation booklet can be reduced in size to fit into a machzor so the students have a handy guide to make their davening more meaningful.  Our new ink should be coming in this week so I will be able to print it out for each boy.  I am not sure how long it will take us to go through this book, it is only 9 pages long.  If needed, I will find something else to do on Thursday.  Oh, and I cannot forgot the little one!  Yes, I almost forgot, he is more than big enough to make projects and sing songs that my older ones are too “old” for!

The school day worked out well.  At lunch time, I was thinking that, ” Wow, I was still so relaxed!”  I remember how busy and full the days were last year.  This year our schedule seems more relaxed – longer, more to do, but relaxed.  I finally learned not to stuff the time to the hilt.  I scheduled a lot of time for each subject.  I will say, it does help that the boys have a set schedule on  Rabbi Resnick has 30 minutes classes with 15 minute breaks in between each class.  Altogether, that is 45 minutes from the beginning of one of his classes to the beginning of the next class.  I purposely limit the amount of time spent for each lesson – 15-20 minutes for the younger ones and 30-40 minutes for the oldest (though often times it takes less time for him.)  I added extra time so that I would have time to give attention to our 3 year old.  This, I believe, was one of the best things I have done for our schooling this year.  I had time to spend with the youngest, and I did not have to harass the older ones to get out the books for the next thing, or get going to Room613.  I could see how each of the older boys looked at their boards and they seemed so much more relaxed.  I do not know if this more relaxed atmosphere had anything to do with how my one boy did in math, but my tantrum prone boy had not a single tantrum today – not even during math when he kept getting one question wrong.  He just sat there and said, “hmm….” and tried again!

This afternoon I was reminded how vulnerable we all are.  Actually, I think there were many, many people who found out.  We have a few websites that are hosted on  Godaddy is a company that you can register domain names on as well as provides hosting and other related services.  It is fairly large.  This afternoon, there was a hacker that shut down all of Godaddy’s sites – at least thousands of sites were down starting after lunch.  The individual who was apparently responsible took sole responsibility shortly afterwards on Twitter.  There were many people who rely on websites hosted by Godaddy for work.  I too was wanting to do some stuff.  However, I realized that everything that happens, Hashem makes happen for a reason.  I then realized that I needed to do some paperwork to send into our school district.  If my website was not down, I would have forgotten yet again about the paperwork.

Coincidence? Of course not!  However, I do not think thousands or millions of people needed to be affected just for me…at least I would hope not.  I also know that this person I cannot really be mad at for this person was just the messenger.  Yes, he had the option of doing good or doing not good, it was his choice – as I like to tell my children, but Hashem wanted Godaddy to go down, it would have gone down in a different way if this person decided to use his amazing talents for a better use.  All afternoon I tried seeing if the websites were up yet, but it did not get me anxious, I was not too overly bothered by it.  At least not the 3 hours it took from when I learned about it to the time my websites were back up and running.

In the end, all my paperwork got done, I just need the ink to arrive at my doorstep to print it out and I realized how my mind’s perspective had an amazing effect on me and how I handled a situation.  Perhaps this is something that I need to try keep in mind when we have little situations arise at home.  There are things that happen that are out of my control, even if I try.  If I remember that Hashem is ultimately in control, there is no reason to get upset at individuals.  There are things that are supposed to happen and these are tests for me.  I know, that is much easier said than done, however, perhaps if I try to keep that in mind, there might be a few times where I can look at my beautiful boys and say “that is what they are supposed to be doing.  How am I supposed to react, how do I get what I need done the proper way?”  Perhaps my stress level will keep down a little bit (and stave those grey hairs away a little bit longer! 😉  )

I definitely know that how we feel definitely rubs off on others.  Was it that I was in a calm mood today that helped my son get through his math in such a wonderful way?  Was it all the time in between classes?  I am sure they both had a lot to do with it.  I definitely would prefer how today’s lesson went over any other day we have had.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings. 🙂  As I am trying to get myself ready for the coming year, I hope that I can grow just a little bit.  In the meantime, I need to read to my Lion for he tells me he cannot read yet.

Wishing everyone a sweet year – A L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life!  Have a wonderful Rosh Hashanah!