20130908_203152I hope everyone had a wonderful Rosh Hashanah. It was beautiful over here; not too hot, not too cold, and we even ate outside for one of the meals. If the holidays have crept up on you making it difficult to finish planning some of your teaching, or if you just are unsure of what or how to teach the Judaics, Rabbi Resnick is having a free classes week in Room613. Feel free to pop on in by going here. His new 2013-14 schedule can be found here.

Having a fast day the day before school starts was a challenge – especially since DH wanted us to go sell popcorn as well. Before yesterday, the boys did manage to sell $1000 in just 3 days by going just door-to-door! That definitely was a record for us. The new training we had for selling popcorn has sure helped so far. I have even set up several days in the next month were we are going to be selling at a table. I am hoping the new training will help us sell more there as well.  After all, we are getting over $4000 worth of popcorn this Friday. Anybody hungry? We even accept credit cards this year. (Don’t be shy, there is plenty for everyone!) 🙂

Yesterday I was running around in a panic – I made my schedule for the boys last week. Even with an added boy to the list, I was still able to get it all on 2 pages. The problem was that I was missing one of the pages – and it happened to be the one I needed for the first day of school. It did not help that there seems to be papers that have decided to procreate, making the kitchen look quite hideous. It is amazing how that happens. Baruch Hashem I found it before I felt I should try to make a new schedule. It took several hours to create the first one. As it was, I did have to recreate an evening schedule, however that was not terrible. The boys ended their day with a green smoothie and Ryvita crackers for supper along with green back-to-school cupcakes for dessert. Thought that would be a great way to start the year off. I even went through the schedule with all 4 boys separately before they went to bed so they would know exactly what to expect from the new year.

The morning started off on the right note. Five out of six of us were up, dressed and ate at the same time. Just the little one was in bed, but he did not have to start at the same time as his older brothers. The boys even got to daven with their father instead of davening with me. Breakfast jobs were done on time. I was feeling great. Everything was going as it should. And then I made *the* mistake. Yes, the one that threw the ENTIRE day off.

I DID NOT CONSULT THE SCHEDULE! 😐 Yes, the same one who said that even after a full year of doing the same thing every week she knows how it is so important to still have a physical schedule to help keep everything going like it should, did not even look at the schedule this morning. The morning of the20130909_214809 first day of school. I was so cool that I knew what everyone was supposed to do….. until 8:15 in the morning. How did this happen? I am not sure. I must have been a bit over confident that I knew what was going on until around 11 am that I did not even bother to look. That may not seem like the end of the world, and I would have thought that a small mistake would have been just a little ‘oops’, but that little ‘oops’ affected our entire day. What happened was that I thought that since the boys davened earlier with their father than was listed on the schedule, we had extra time to catch up on some mishnayos that the boys got a bit behind in because of the Yomim Tovim. That would not have been the end of the world if it were not for the fact that we totally skipped out on one of the subjects for each of the boys and I did not realize it until about lunch time.

One boy did not consult the schedule very closely either for he ended up missing a second subject. We did catch up one subject, but it was too much for me to fit in the second one, even at night. Between getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah in a few short months (oh my, where DID the time go?), working on his SAT vocabulary and SAT math (aka algebra) for the SAT he is going to, IY”H, take in January, and the extra subjects he is taking because of his grade (and selling popcorn), we are sure keeping him busy and out of most of the trouble.

That is not mentioning the one boy that was not feeling up to par today with a headache and had to lay down a few times, missing some classes, a boy who tried being a challenge. I think the mild headache I had all day until supper time was due to the amazingly, crazy first day. On another note, I did have ONE boy who got all his work done, even did his organ practising. Must have been the extra morning sleep. Baruch Hashem, there is always the good, just sometimes it is harder to find. The nice thing is that it is always there; if you look, you WILL find it. 🙂

As I am typing, I sit here feeling almost bored. The good is that as soon as I pick my eyes up from the computer screen I am reminded that I am really not bored. I have dishes to clean, tables to empty, the rest of the papers to put away. And that does not include the laundry that is so patiently waiting for me (and most probably procreating as I type.) No, I do not have to worry, I am not bored. I just wonder how long I can keep my eyes on the computer screen…

20130908_175018Sweet dreams and I really should get a little more friendly with my dishes. Tomorrow is another day, and that means the potential for a great day (and humbly remembering to look at the schedule!)

My Vacation

20130707_081408I have been so excited for this week to come! It is one week in the entire year that I have for me; the older boys are off at camp and I get this week to myself! And then on Shabbos it hit me. My almost 4 year old will be home with just me. Me and no brothers to keep him busy. Just me. He has been so looking forward to Mommy time. Don’t get me wrong, that is a very nice thing except that I realized that Mommy time is going to take up his entire waking hours. You see, with 3 older brothers who are home all day, who needs to learn to play by himself? Ok, so I do not have much of just me time and I can’t go out for a walk or a bike ride by myself for no one is there to look after a 3 year old and I can’t go out to the store to get the things we need when we are out when he is sleeping, but yeah, there are still lots of wonderful things about having just the one boy around.

The older boys left yesterday morning to go to scout camp. Daddy took them. I was supposed to go along except a little 3 year old was sick and throwing up20130707_151518. This put a crink into the day if only because of one thing – my boys do not get sick! Baruch Hashem, and let it stay that way. A loving Daddy bought some ginger ale before leaving for with our only vehicle gone and with a sick boy, it does not make for a day to be able to even walk to the neighborhood 7-11 to get some. We made it. After a nice needed nap he was allowed to do what sick boys get to do to keep them occupied so they can rest in bed and not be as antsy – nice educational videos. Baruch Hashem he feels good as new today. He is even learning to sleep in a big room all by himself.

Someone told me to take this time and do something for myself, so I heeded that advice. I started cleaning the house. It is amazing how much I can get done when I am doing all the work – and how clean things actually get! Living room and library were both cleaned to my satisfaction, swept and mopped, except for 1 pile of papers in each room. Not bad. Today was the garage and the cleaning of the kitchen cabinet doors. Oh, and I stumbled upon an amazing thing today – when the boys are not home it is great to clean for I can actually not only leave the room for a moment and expect it to stay the way I left it, I can even go to sleep for several hours and it will still stay the same! It feels pretty good to be able to have a few moments when the house will stay the way I want it.

Today we cleaned the garage in anticipation of our new instrument! I finally got an organ! Bonus – it was free and so was the transportation to my garage where it is now being stored until the bigger boys come home to help me move it into the house. My husband is so excited about it, almost as much as I am. He says I need to find a place for it. I tell him, it will fit in the house and that I have ideas. I have a few weeks until I need to have the answer.

20130708_125931This last week or so my husband and I have been trying to figure out what we should do next year for Judaics. We have spent the last 4 years with and it has worked out really well. However, we decided our oldest, who is going to be bar mitzvah in a few short months (how did that happen?) was ready to move on. My husband and I are ones who do not mind thinking outside the box. Hey, the fact that we have been homeschooling for 8 years now proves it! What started out as an exercise in trying to figure out Judaics for one boy, ended up with something for all boys – that’s one bonus in having children close in age. (The other is being able to send them all to the same camp at the same time!) We have spent the last week mulling it over in our minds, bouncing it off the minds of different individuals to get thoughts and reactions and have finally decided we are going to do it. The boys are going to do Rambam’s Mishneh Torah next year. We chose that for it encompasses all aspects of our lives. We do not necessarily follow all that the Rambam says, but he does cover everything from each of the 613 mitzvos to davening, shmita year, maaser and other topics that do not necessarily apply to us today, but we should know about them.

Now, this seems fine until I mention that we are not going to do the 3 year cycle where you do one chapter a day for 3 years before completing – there are 31 sefarim in the set. No, we are doing the 1 year cycle – doing 3 chapters a day and finishing it off in about a year. Yes, I know exactly what that entails and what we are getting ourselves into. Each chapter is going to take, on average, 35-45 minutes to do. And yes, everyone that we have mentioned it to has looked at us as if we were crazy. However, since that is basically all they are going to do for Judaics, it should be more than reasonable. Children in schools spend the entire morning on Judaics, and so are we. Of course the boys are also going to do parsha/Yomim Tovim as well as continue on with their mishnayos. We are not expecting them to learn it inside and out, that will only happen by going through things multiple times. My goal is to get them to go through it. They will pick up according to each of their abilities, which is amazingly more than most of us would imagine. People learn through time. Our minds will take something we have learned or something we are thinking about and put it in the subconscious. The subconscious thinks about it and over time we get new ideas and thoughts about it. Then we can go back and learn more on the topic.

I found these wonderful videos on by Rabbi Gordon. He has a wonderful video for each and every chapter of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. He reads and translates as well as explains very nicely what is going on. My idea is to listen to 2 of his videos a day with the other chapter being read and then translated by boys. This is to help boys with their personal reading. Two birds with one stone. We would obviously take breaks in between each video and not do it all at once. And, I might even stagger the times throughout the day so that one little then-to-be 4 year old is not left hanging by himself for hours on end and being bored. And yes, this is a very rigorous feat we are going to do. We were told something on Shabbos – if you start this goal, do not quit, do not alter it, do not make the goal easier. Even if you get behind 1 day, 2 days, 3 days or more. Each day is a new day. Start fresh and continue on. The only thing that should change, if needed, is the end date. I liked this.

Today I ordered 3 sets of Mishneh Torah. One for each boy. They will be theirs to keep when they move out. The only condition is that we get to use them when we want/need to, even when they move out. Where we are going to put them, I do not know. As any homeschooling family knows, bookshelves are sacred – second only to the Torah and sefarim which are held on them. I have ideas. I have time before they come in. 😉

In the meantime, I miss my boys, even with the cleaner house.

Back To Work!

I can’t believe it has been 7 weeks already. Last week DH went into the doctor’s and was given the okay to go back to work. There are mixed feelings all around, but life goes on and Baruch Hashem his foot is healing properly. He still has one more week without being able to put pressure on the foot, and it will take a bit before he can think about his dream of running a marathon 😉 but he is definitely on his way.

As my newest role as a caregiver to my husband 24/7 changes to something like 6/5 and 24/2 I can actually take half a breath and take a look at how things went. The first several days after the accident was just a blur. We were all just trying to manage and survive. From traveling back and forth from the hospital to home and back again several times a day, to trying to keep beautiful boys quiet so Daddy can sleep was a job in itself. One of the challenges of homeschooling children is when someone is sick you still have everyone at home. I do not know about girls, (and yes, even though I am one myself!) but I do know that one of the big things boys like is noise. One boy loves to make various (um, annoying) sounds, one boy just has a loud, deep penetrating voice and one boy is not old enough to remember to keep his high shrill voice down to something manageable to others. Somehow we managed. We made it though and life went on.

I would have loved to have just spent time with my husband over the last 7 weeks, but there were 4 wonderful reasons why I couldn’t do that. I guess they were a good thing. Well, I know they were a good thing. I tried to continue on with our schooling as much as possible after the first week. Except for when there were doctor visits, we actually got most things done. Except math. I think the one thing that kept us on track as much as possible was the fact that the boys had scheduled times to log onto Room613. The fact that they had classes that could not wait 5 minutes before starting was such a big help. I use that time to teach other classes to other boys. The problem with math is that I have it scheduled at the end of the day AFTER their classes with Rabbi Resnick. By the time 3pm came around, Daddy was going crazy and looking for TLC. I cannot blame him.

I still have a hard time imagining how difficult it is to need help with everything. Even making his way to use the bathroom was a production. He couldn’t get up for a glass of water, if something fell he was at the mercy of whoever was around (if anyone) to help him pick it up and trying to take a shower to feel human was such a long process. I know he tried hard not to ask the same person for help all the time (Baruch Hashem there were 5 other people around!) but he felt so imposing that he even went to far as to try to not ask anyone for help. For that I have constantly given him mussar. I never once felt like he was imposing and tried to make sure he saw me with a smile, even if he had to ask me to get up in the middle of the night. But I can understand.

Having to juggle between putting on my teacher’s hat and my caregiver’s hat took a lot out of me – and my time. I had scheduled extra time in between classes to help give me time to do a bit of cleaning here and there and to help spend some quality time with Mr. Big Boy #4 and yes, even some down time for me, but that was all taken up with my other new career. I have to admit that Daddy was really a good sport and usually told me he could wait for whatever it was until I had my break though that did make me feel bad to have to make him wait. What all this really meant for me was that I was constantly on the move. I had no me time, no time to mop the floor, no time to give to a little boy, no time to do nothing. By the time 3pm came around, I was doing my hardest to try to get myself to make supper, never mind math. DH mentioned this morning, “Oh, you were not on the computer yesterday?” No. That is another thing. No computer, no internet and no email – no time.

Then, after looking at house, I decided to implement a secret plan. I spent the last 4 days working on it. I am not finished, but I am a long ways over, and by now it is not secret. I made the executive decision to move all 4 boys into one room. Yes, one room for 4 boys, a 1:4 ratio. We have a 3 bedroom house. I know. You can tell me that the past 6 weeks turned me crazy.

Really, I am doing this to help out a very creative boy (see previous post!) as you can tell from this embarrassing photo (which was about half

Half way cleaned up by Mommy.

way through the cleaning!). This was the amazing job of one boy over the course of just 2 months. The entire floor actually looked as bad as the part still covered in the photo when I first dared to go in and clean. Yes, only 2 months! I go and wipe out everything in the room every few months and try all sort of tricks but so far nothing works. I am just lucky to have one of these amazingly creative boys that just are unable to keep anything clean. I have talked to several Mothers over the past year or so who have similar minded children. It is good to know it is not me. I went ahead and got even more crazy, picked out a nice real color and started painting the walls. Not even DH knew what my plan was until the night before I finished painting. Boys helped me put together one set of bunk beds last night, and they all helped me organize clothing. I have decided that since there will be limited space in this room now, we can’t have 4 sets of drawers. I bought each boy 4 storage bins that fit under the bed. We are not done, I still want to get each boy a nice sized box with a lid and a combination lock that is their personal property.

As far as the new room, I am not quite sure what I am going to do with it. I do know that I want my sewing machines to be in there so I have a place to sew, but I do not need a lot of room for that. We shall see. The green I picked out for the boys is good for the boys but not what I want for any other part of the house. It was nice to have boys tell me I was doing a wonderful job and that they were liking the room and the color. It was also fun to have them all ask me whose room it was going to be only to be told, “I will tell you when I’m finished!” I was busy the entire day – from painting to preparing meals to cleaning two bathrooms down to mopping them, taking Daddy and one boy to the JCC to exercise and hang out in the pool, to shopping and then finally exercising myself. By the time we got home and organized clothes, it was 10:30 and the boys were STILL UP! How did it get so late? Then to walk into the kitchen and feel that everything went wrong and that perhaps my priorities were totally wrong. Perhaps I should have spent all that time I spent on painting on cleaning the house. Perhaps a pent up Daddy would have been happier? He tells me it was not me and not the house just the circumstance of him being pent up, but perhaps I could have alleviated things a bit by having different priorities. I don’t know.

Almost done!

What ever the case is, I cannot turn back the time and DH really likes how I did the boys’ bedroom. Today is MLK day and schools are closed. We are a school so we will be closed as well. I usually have school on statutory holidays for why not? But today, we are being flexible and I am not going to feel guilty. Today, we are cleaning the house, I am going to practice my music for the girl’s middle school performance tomorrow and we are going to try to get two sessions of math in. HA! That last goal is really funny, but I’ll really be satisfied with one session for each boy, but don’t tell them that!

I drove my Dear Husband to work this morning. Things there have also gone through a change. We are not sure what Hashem has planned for us, but after the past 7 weeks, we know that no matter what, everything really is for the best. I am going to miss seeing his wonderful face during the day. I think that I will like retirement. In the meantime I have something to look forward too, and oh, I think we shall be able to get a few more math lessons in in the meantime and the house is getting cleaner as I type. 😉

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!