A Thank You

KIMG1010Someone posted a link to a blog on Facebook. The title sounded intriguing, “How to be a rockstar homeschool spouse.” Who doesn’t want to be a rockstar homeschool spouse? Kara, the author, posted all about how, despite her wackiness and despite her being the primary teacher to their chidlren, she has acknowledged all the amazing hidden help she has received from her husband. She has challenged others to write a thank you to that special someone. So, here is mine:

To My Wonderful Husband,

You have entrusted me with your precious jewels. That is an amazing (and when I think about it, scary) thought! Even though we do not always see eye to eye, you still trust me.

There have been times when we have taken turns wondering if we are doing the right thing, yet, you still trust me.

I know that often times you do not feel like you contribute, but you should know that you are the staple of our lives. We know that you work hard to support us. You are always there for us.

Your precious jewels are precious to you and you make sure they get all that they need – from starting mishnayos at shul for them, to starting a new Boy Scout troop and being the Scoutmaster when no one else would take the position. You are the counselor for merit badges and you build antennas for radios with them. You take them biking (when it is not too hot!), and love to take all of us hiking in the woods.

You are also there for me. You listen to my frustrations, as well as all my excitement in planning our year. You smile when I am excited about getting a book, and you are there when the day was tough and I need you to take over when you come home.

You put up with us when the house is a mess, and are there celebrating with us with accomplishments.

It may not feel to you that you do much, but without you we couldn’t do it. You are our life support. All the little (and big) behind the scene things you do are what keep us all here.

Thank you and Happy Birthday to the best Daddy out there for our precious jewels!

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. 🙂

Summer Has Started!

20130728_144349After the third and final birthday party for a very lucky 4 year old, the last couple of days I actually felt it was a summer day for me – I actually got to sit down without having to rush and do some prep for the school year. (The watermelon was carved into the shape of a jeep, along with windshield wiper blades and side mirrors! A brother loved the birthday boy!) The best part of the school year is having all those books come pouring into the mailbox. Most of our books are purchased from Amazon.com and most of them are used so they come from varioius sellers. We have had several shipments arrive at our house over the past week and still have a few more to go.

I am very excited about one of the books that came; How To Read a Book  by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. Yes, I know it sounds like a funny name, but it is very accurate. I have decided to start the pre-reading of new school books by reading that book first. I have read the first 5 chapters so far. It is a very good book which describes how to effectively and systematically skim through a book to learn the main points, as well as how to read it when you decide to actually read it so that you get the most out of the book. I figured this would be a great start so that I could pre-read all the books that come in over the next week or so for I need. I will not have time once school starts to read, or more appropriately perhaps, I will not want to read anything else once school starts except what I will be reading to boys during school time. I highly recommend this book.

It has been gorgeous outside so I threw the boys outside as much as possible. That gave me some nice quiet time to sit, do nothing, and then feel like I needed to and wanted to do something, so I read the book on how to read a book. 🙂 I even took some time to sit outside and enjoy. I had the branch of one of our flowering trees just a few inches from where I was sitting and it was very peaceful to watch the bees buzzing and getting the pollen all over their bodies.
Our summer schedule has not really gone on as I thought it would. I am not too worried about it for hey, it’s summer time! I am a bit more carefree about what is done or not done. I really would like to get more of certain things done that are not being done, but I will not sweat it. Rambam twice a day, along with20130724_090125 mishnayos. Afterall, Torah learning is for every day and it is good to get into the swing of things with some things so when we start school, it is just adding the rest, not doing it all at once – rather less overwhelming for me anyways that way.  I also get to see how it is and how I can/need to incorporate time for the newly 4 year old and his all important school work. 🙂 It might be better than I imagined for most days for since all 3 older boys are in the kitchen listening to and following along with the videos for Rambam, and each video is around 40-45 minutes long, I found myself sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor, along with washing some dishes and cleaning of the kitchen. Mr. 4 year old was off playing by himself for one entire Rambam (yeah!) I cannot expect him to do that three times a day, but once a day would be nice and very helpful.
One boy is finally learning what it means to be busy. We have him busy. We are trying very hard to get him ready to take the SAT’s – and no, he is NOT that old yet that he is taking it for university, he is taking it while enrolled in grade 7 so as to see how well he does and perhaps help him get some scholarships for education camps, etc. He has his Rambam and mishnayos, 2 sets of math, SAT math book as well as SAT vocabulary words to work on, and not to mention his laining and the reading of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
A 4 year has been begging me to let him make his ‘experiment.” What he wants to do is use salt, water, sugar and flour and let it sit. I guess that is one way to learn. I instructed his oldest brother to make sure he makes a VERY SMALL concoction, and to oversee everything and make sure there is no mess. Good thing we used only food items – he wanted to test it before he let it sit! The little things that make them happy. 🙂
As I am listening to DH playing the organ for me, he really is saying it’s bedtime and I need to go. ‘Night!