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Showing posts from December, 2009

Crazy, but good.

Eli just called to talk to Yerachmiel Meir. Like some other people in the family, YM is very good at hanging on the phone while Eli talks. I am NOT. Very not. Usually I am so in the middle of things, and usually Eli doesn't even bother asking how things are here, even if there is someone audibly screaming in the background. Plus, I have no patience for his meandering trains of thought. YM doesn’t mind. He’ll listen for a while, and then even has a trick for ending the conversation; I probably wouldn't mind much if the conversations (if they can be called that) weren't SO interminable. Anyway, I told Eli that YM wasn't here, so naturally, Eli started giving me the "message" to pass along (though he said he told YM the same thing when he was 9) which was something urgent about "two ideas being close together." He then stopped to mention that he was planning to come to shul on Shabbos (we’re sponsoring kiddush for my father’s yahrzeit)

A strong Finnish

My aunt is Finnish (well, Finnish-Canadian), and they used to have a New Year’s party at their house every year. Most of the time, kids were invited (they had kids, not much younger than us), but one year,  my parents were invited to go alone, or they left us home for their own convenience; anyway, we got left out. (As I type this, I am thinking maybe we did go, but fell asleep, or something… in any event, something led to our missing at least part of the revelry; it’s not important to the story.) Anyway, that time – only that one time that we missed the revelry at least in part, my Finnish aunt decided to revive the centuries-old Finnish New Year’s tradition of foretelling the future year by casting tin (I know this because Google tells me so and even offered me the captivating photo featured above). Somebody told me it was aluminum, by the way.  Maybe my crazy brother; he’s always been a little bit strange.  So I spent a few minutes Googling “Finnish aluminum-casting cu


Ted has just informed me that we’re postponing my birthday ‘till next Sunday.  Yee-haw.

Homeschool Heck

Every time Naomi Rivka reads through her new ABC book from Aunt Sara "How to Build an A," when she comes to the X and the picture of the Xmas tree, she reads "X is for... decoration ."  She always kind of looks at me out of the corner of her eye, like I'm going to stop her.  Or like it doesn't exactly sound like the letter X. So am I going to homeschool hell if I don't stop her?  If I let her read it that way, over and over and over?  To Gavriel Zev, passing the error on to yet another generation. I’m being tongue-in-cheek, of course.  Eventually, no matter what you do, they figure the whole thing out.  Two weeks ago, Naomi was pronouncing the holiday, “Krissamiss.”  Then, we went to that accursed multi-culti holiday assembly at the school across the street, and fifteen minutes later, she came home saying it the right way.  A loss of innocence. This blog is going to be awfully short on multimedia over the next few days, because Sara took YM fl

Free Handwriting Font Generator

Well, well, well!  After clicking on about 8,000 links promising a “free font generator” I actually found one online! Here’s how it works:  visit the site, print a template, write the letters AS NEATLY AS POSSIBLE in predetermined boxes for each character, scan the template, upload it at the site and WAAAh-la!  Your own personal lousy messy disaster of a font. Or three, as I’ve demonstrated at left.  The first two I did are below, but they are way too chunky and the dots kept getting sliced off.  I think the marker should ideally be between these two sizes. It does look kind of fun and funky (and intentional) with the letters all bunched up together like at right, but if your goal is neatness, well, I would definitely fail Handwriting 101. Oh – the site is called .  I did find another site called YourFonts (not putting a link in here – they don’t deserve one), but they offer a “free trial” or “free sample” or something, and then turn around and charge $10,

Interesting… interesting… two birds, one stone!

I love Pirkei Avos.  And I am fascinated by Charlotte Mason home education at the moment. A couple of the more “olde-fashioned” aspects of the Charlotte Mason approach focus on memorization and copywork – improving handwriting and training the mind through rewriting verses.  For Christian homeschoolers, this usually involves Bible verses or classical poetry, and I have been wondering what to substitute in order to take a more Jewish approach. Okay, I know most of the Christian Bible is Jewish … we introduced it to the world, and all that.  But for some reason, it’s just not a Jewish thing, sitting and memorizing individual verses the way Christians often do in their kids’ Bible studies.  I think it’s because we are big into context… we’d rather our kids understand the story, learn what major commentators have to say, what it means for us today, etc., instead of just memorizing the words themselves.  Although, of course, most decent Torah study does involve memorization at some po

Gavriel Zev and the Mermaids

Gavriel Zev, looking at the poster I put up for the play Naomi went to with my mother today:  “Mermaids?” Me:  “It’s Cinderella; she’s not a mermaid.  Mermaids live in the water.” He follows me into the kitchen. “I like… I like… I li… I like… I like… MERMAIDS!  I like mermaids?  I like mermaids!” “Yes, you do.  You can talk to Naomi about Mermaids!” Runs into the bedroom and announces:  “I like mermaids!” Naomi:  “I like them, too!” Gavriel Zev:  “I like PRINCESSES!” They are so happy right now to be reunited after their (brief) morning apart… I will be happy next week when their programs start up again and they have some time away from each other.  Naomi has been (often literally) at his throat the last two weeks.

Celebrating! Almost finished the alef-bais!

So we’re having a siyum… a party for completing the alef-bais.  I looked ahead on the calendar, and this is the Sunday after our “tav” week, five weeks from now (we started the letter pay this morning – our song is “pischu, pischu li”). Naomi has invited all her favourite small people in the world and we are planning a special treat with each child’s initials.  We will sing a selection of her favourite weekly alef-bais songs, and serve snacks.  All I have to do is figure out a relevant craft.  Oh, and where we’re going to put everybody.  Maybe I’ll do it at my mother’s house…

Super-nifty Hebrew “Transliterator”

Just discocvered this page: The page lets you type in English and it transcribes your text into Hebrew characters.  This will come in very handy for entering Hebrew-language searches into Google and Hebrew websites.  \ Lacking Hebrew keyboard capability, I have been using the “keyboard” feature at Morfix , my favourite online Hebrew dictionary.  But there, you have to click each character with the mouse.  Keyboard will probably be easier.  Yay!

Hey, what a great idea for a yeshiva!

Just found out there’s a yeshiva in LA that’s doing what YM has been doing for the last two years:  homeschooling in the afternoon, but starting each day with a full limudei kodesh (Jewish studies, including gemara) curriculum in a real yeshiva setting. More details (full press release) here . I’m so relieved to see that I’m not crazy:  the stated goals of this yeshiva are to make Jewish education affordable, while tailoring the general-studies curriculum to fit each boy individually. Why doesn’t every city have something like this?!?!??? You can also read more Jewish homeschool related posts on the Orthonomics blog .

Daven for…

Our rabbi’s son is seriously ill.  This was someone else’s facebook status and I copied and pasted it because it’s far more eloquent than I could be. Please pray for Menachem Mendel Ben Faiga Rochel. If you are not comfortable with traditional prayer, remember that working on your character and becoming a better person is also a form of prayer. Please keep him in mind as you do acts of kindness.

Six Word Saturday: December 26, 2009

  Maybe I’ll turn forty someday soon.

Farewell, Wall of Woollies

As part of my crazed “Take Back My Bedroom” initiative of getting everybody’s stuff out of what is ostensibly my bedroom (okay, Ted’s stuff can stay), I have finally admitted that the littles are not really wearing their wool diaper covers as much as they used to. Resolved:  I will take the LONG woollies that are in good condition and hang them up in their bedroom so we can use them as pyjama pants at bedtime. And as for the rest, the short woollies, the weird homemade woollies, the miscellaneous diaper covers, along with this crazy mismatched stack of fitteds…? Gone, gone, gone!  Ugh; I just feel like it’ll take so much energy to find good homes for all these woollies.  And they’re not all in great shape.  Still, I hope somebody will love them. I will hang hats and other useful things of mine in the woollies’ place.  Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll let Ted use one for ties.

Cranky Complaints-Lady gets “Seasonal” with City Councillor!

I couldn't help it.  How dumb is it sending out a "Happy Holidays" message the week after Chanukah?   ----- Original Message ----- To:  Councillor Joe Mihevc Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 12:04 AM Subject: Re: Happy Holidays! Mr. Mihevc:   First, let me wish you a merry Christmas if that's what you and your family celebrate.  I think you do great stuff and are probably one of the hardest-working city councillors we have here in Toronto.   BUT... if you're going to succumb to the political-correctness thing and NOT mention Christmas, you should probably send out your "Happy Holidays" email either before or during Chanukah so it looks like you're being sensitive to your non-Christian constituents.   I'm Jewish, as many of us are here.  Our holidays are now officially over until Passover, and I doubt that's one of ones you're referring to (being more than 3 months off!).  P

Jewish Homeschooling Going Mainstream

Or at least, being acknowledged in the mainstream Jewish media!  I just found out yesterday that a riff on this largely-incoherent rant about why we homeschool is going to be featured in February’s Education Supplement to the CJN. I submitted it as a personal essay back in October, and have been bugging the editor every couple of weeks since then.  I never did hear back from him, but another editor emailed me yesterday asking for clarification on a few points and perhaps less about the downsides of day schools and more emphasis on the positives of homeschool. Gladly!  Hurrah! But that is NOT the work I am supposed to be doing today.  Today I have to interview our shul’s rabbi about the life of Rabbi Noach Weinberg , founder of Aish HaTorah, for a piece I’m writing for an upcoming coffee-table book the shul is putting out.

Sigh... dangers of hand-me-down computers

Sleeptime soon, after an exhausting evening of laundry, followed by searching the Big Boy's laptop for incriminating stuff.    Of which we found very little; a scandalous harry potter fanfic was the highlight until... .  well, let's just say that the well-meaning relatives who passed the computer along to him are nowhere near as smart as my 15-year-old son, or, at least, his nearly-40-year-old supermama.  Not every "deleted" file from its former owners was 100% gone.  They are now; phew!  I think I rooted them out before he discovered them, but let's just say I know one particular relative just a bit better now than I ever have before...   (((shudder)))

Pizza Night!

Tonight is Lazy Take-Out Pizza Night … but LAST night (Sunday) – wow.  Indian lamb stew (saag gosht?).  Chunks of lamb, spinach, tomato… with basmati rice, storebought samosas and homemade naan bread!  I made the naan out of some leftover no-knead dough I happened to have in the fridge.  Yum! (okay, I forgot to serve the samosas; we didn’t need them, there was SO much food) The only thing is, the lamb was not great… it wasn’t nice pieces and really ought to have been cooked for an extremely long time, like in the crock pot.  If I had it to do over, I’d buy nice pieces of meat and cook them low and slow, like for a couple of hours. But the lamb did give an incredibly deep, rich flavour to the stew… honestly, you didn’t need actual pieces of meat to roll up in the fresh naan and enjoy.

See? See? BT Parents’ Guide to Acronyms…

See what us BT parents have to put up with…?  Further to my “ Crazy BT’s Guide to Life ” rant a couple of weeks ago, this is a typical letter home from boy-boy’s yeshiva… ostensibly written in English. In this letter, I was actually able to figure everything out except the acronym following the standard BS”D  in the first sentence.  I mean, I’m sure it’s something wonderful and praiseful and virtuous, but what the heck does it stand for??? And will somebody please print that Crazy BT’s Guide to Acronyms, someday soon, bimheira v’yameinu.  IY”H.  BS”D.  And all that.

Two old friends, two weddings...

Two old friends are in town this week, for totally different purposes, and from totally different eras of my life.   One got married in a religious ceremony in Israel, maybe about six years ago (more like eight???).   The other got married in Montreal, probably about twenty-two years ago, in a Wiccan handfasting ceremony. I was never that close with her, but admired her strength of character and the self-assured way she approached everything in life.  Not a tall woman, she always seemed larger-than-life, far older than the one or two years ahead of me she'd been in school.  Okay, yes, it was a crush... a huge one.  I wanted to be like her in every way, but the truth always was, I was like her in no way except we were both loud-mouthed Jewish women.   Except I wasn't loud-mouthed in those days, and really am not still, at least, not until you get to know me, or read my blog. Also, she had a major hip deformity.  I definitely thought that made it bashert that

I wonder…

My mother is taking Naomi Rivka to see a kids' musical production of Cinderella on December 31st.  She bought the tickets in mid-November, and I thought she could maybe save it for a Chanukah surprise, but no, she told Naomi right away, and I found a flyer about the play and gave it to her (no pictures, but she loves flyers). And now it’s been a few weeks and nobody has said anything.  Because it’s not NEW anymore, and it’s not TIME yet, so it’s just not on anybody’s mind.  It’s on the calendar, just nobody has mentioned it recently. So I wonder what Naomi thinks. I wonder if she has forgotten; I doubt it. I wonder if she thinks we have forgotten; quite possible. I wonder if she thinks we were lying, or made a mistake, and there really is no play. Or maybe she thinks she misunderstood what we were telling her in the first place.  Because kids must misunderstand so, SO much in the first five years of life.  These are huge  misunderstandings, too, like maybe you think

Shabbos Party

Me to Elisheva:  "What can we call a Shabbos Party at our shul if they're not going to let us call it Shabbos Party and they'll make us change it to Shabbat Party?"   Elisheva:  "I don't know, how about..." Naomi:  " How about 'Previews from a Holiday Fun'?"   Catchy!

Oh, wow…

As part of my Charlotte Mason “get outdoors” kick , I decided to get the kids outside as much as possible today.  It helped that it was a beautiful day – amazing, high of only –2, but SO sunny and gorgeous, which I discovered because we walked to Naomi’s friend’s house to deliver a letter she painstakingly wrote this morning. I actually had an indoor activity planned for the afternoon, a seasonal party at the Rumball Early Years Centre, but decided today was too beautiful to waste. So we walked to Cedarvale, poked at the snow, Naomi boot-skated around on the puddles, we poked holes in ice, watched dogs and chatted along the way.  She got stuck up a slippery hill and I had to come rescue her.  And somewhere, along the way, she said, “can we have this day again tomorrow?”  I knew exactly what she meant. After we visited the Children’s Garden the kids spent some time climbing up and walking on the log they normally only balance on in the summertime (she showed me the spot

is elisheva there?

Frantic sad, sad emails from boy-boy, trapped in the Apple store at Yorkdale: ----- Original Message ----- From boy boy To me Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 1:31 PM Subject: is elisheva there? I was at the apple store while ech walked around. Then she came and wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay a few more minutes. She walked out of the store, and I'm not sure which way she went. I walked back and forth twice to the subway station, but didn't see her. The problem is, I have no bus tickets. I'm at the apple store right now in case she comes back. Did she already come home? ----- My Message to Him ----- Elisheva just got home.  You will have to beg mercy from a TTC collector, or find cash somehow. J ----- His Reply ----- hurrah. she knew i didn't have bus tickets, and that I was still in the mall. i'll have to walk i guess. ----- My Last Message ----- Or talk to the collector... either one.  You are you

Cranky Complaints-Lady Buys a Book in the Airport!

(Okay, this happened a while ago, but I only just got around to writing a complaint letter.  Still, I doubt they’ll ask exactly when I bought the books, and the worst that can happen is that I get nothing… which is what we already have.) We don't usually buy books for our kids, because we read so many (we use libraries instead!), but when travelling recently with children, I bought two of your Mini People Shape Books in an airport bookstore.  We chose the Firefighter and Princess books, which I thought were a good choice because they were not only cute but informative as well.  They cost $6.99 (Canadian) each, plus tax. However, I was dismayed to find that the books didn't even last the duration of the return flight before the bindings started to fall apart.  Once home, attempts to re-bind them with clear plastic packing tape proved futile, and the books are now basically worthless, missing covers, and loose cardboard pages on the bookshelf.  I will probably just throw t

Six Word Saturday: December 19, 2009

Sending Chanukah out with a sizzle !

Happy Happy Educational Bday! (to GZ, not me)

While I’ve been waiting for Naomi’s writing practice book (Handwriting Without Tears:  the PreK book is actually called Get Set for School), to arrive, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get my hands on the wooden alphabet-building blocks that you’re supposed to have to go along with the book. They provide tactile, 3d reinforcement of the book’s letter practice, and besides, look rather cool.  But at $24.99 (US), plus shipping (and wooden blocks are likely to be heavy) dauntingly expensive. Then, yesterday, my sister Sara arrived with two (slightly) belated birthday gifts for Gavriel Zev, including this alphabet book, How to Build an A, which includes simple foam blocks that accomplish the same fun –slash - learning goals for less than half the price (I don’t know what she paid, but Amazon is charging $8 and up for a new copy, plus shipping).  Plus, they come with a nifty mesh bag!   So what was the second gift? She gave him a really incredible arty pop-up book called ABC3

On the Bookshelf

Parenting, Inc. by Pamela Paul A fascinating read which deconstructs the pricey world of premium parenting, largely from a New York City-based perspective.  She does rather tear into baby signing, BUT also to my great glee debunks the idea that Baby Einstein, et al, have any real educational value.  And I have always said that I didn’t believe signing with my baby would make him/her smarter – I was really just doing it to have something fun we could share.  For the face time, which she says may be the sole source of benefit to baby signing.  Anyway, a very amusing look at the lengths people will go to for their kids – and the price they’ll pay to have this year’s “it” stroller. … and then there’s… Candy Freak by Steve Almond (yes, that really is his name) Initially also fascinating look at the “candy underbelly” of America.  Candy-obsessed author tours America finding small factories, mostly family-run, still churning out what could be considered “heirloom” chocolates… which

The beginning of the end…

Further to our ongoing discussions about stopping nummies (aka weaning, and I’d better throw in the word breastfeeding here, or Google is never going to pick this up as a lactation-related post), Naomi mused tonight at bedtime,  “when I am a hundred , I will still be having nummies.” And I announced, quietly, in a friendly but definitive way:  “Five is old enough.  When you are five, you will be old enough to not have nummies anymore.” She started to cry a bit, and asked if she could have a little at bedtimes.  I said that maybe at bedtimes she could have an extra story with Abba, or have extra creativity or writing time.  She seemed to like that.  She said, happily, “ creativity time?!?” Anyway, she went on to spend a few minutes contentedly squeezing Gavriel Zev’s nummy for him, at his request.  I didn’t say anything to her, because in two months now, this will all be moot, but it is extremely weird being milked by one’s almost-five-year-0ld daughter.  He doesn’t

My New Logo – by Elisheva!

I can tell I’m not going to get a lot of blogging done this week with all the kids coming and going and tons of people grabbing at the computer.  Makes me really seriously crave the $400 notebook computer I saw in Staples today.  But not enough to add it to my wish list , even though YM says the Atom is not as wimpy as it sounds. Anyway, as if to compensate me for my full-time attention, Elisheva was  good enough to redesign my computer sign-on screen logo this evening.  Here’s the old logo: This is what everybody sees, in miniature, at the Windows logon screen. And here’s the new logo – super-spiffy! Don’t ask me why my logo always includes a Golden Lion Tamarind.  Oh, wait – it’s coming back to me.  I have a vague memory of her asking if I could be one animal, what would it be.  These are definitely charismatic-looking creatures, with nice hair, but they probably have really awful personal habits, such as excrement-throwing, when you meet them in real life.

Two Naomiisms

Listening to the Putomayo international Sesame Street CD:  "Is this in Hebrew?" Me:  "No, we call this English .  This is the language many of us speak, here in Canada, and the United States."  (ok, slight sarcasm, totally lost on her) Naomi:  "Oh.  I pretty much speak Hebrew."   And then there was first thing this morning.  She came into my bed to snuggle with me and GZ.  I asked, "Did you have good dreams?" "Yes, my favourites:  Dora, princesses, and hair accessories."

Weather thought...

Just had the thought, "if I lived in Israel, I would take the kids outside more!"   And then instantly realized, "no, I wouldn't; it would just be a different season that I couldn't stand to go outside in."   Ugh... summer in the Middle East.

All I want for… whatever!

Okay, I know I’m hard to buy for. To make it easier, I will keep here, on my blog, a list of Things I Might Not Complain About, if Given, for Any Occasion. However, some of these are just wish-list items that I’m sticking here just to keep track of them. Big-ticket stuff that I am absolutely NOT asking anybody to buy for me. I just figure if I can visualize it, it has a chance of actually happening… someday. New BBQ (maybe like my current Weber, only in decent shape) Digital scale – must have a nice large area for holding my own bowl; not a skimpy bowl of its own. Here’s a decent-looking one: Update Jan 3: Yay, and thank you SARA for the SCALE !!! Cooking thermometer (s) – doesn’t have to be expensive! Track lights . Easy, plug-in track lighting that will mount on the ceiling above the table so I can actually see what I’m baking or cooking late at night! Service for 12 – dairy dishes and cutlery. This one has been promised, at least in part, b

It’s FROTH-o-cheapo time!

While I still prefer my coffee icy and whipped (here’s my standard frapucippo formula , though I was using coffee ice cubes a lot this summer instead), on mornings when I wake up to a 16 degree home, it’s a little more tempting to think about warmies. With that in mind, along with my semi-recent discovery that evaporated milk will whip easily, I set out to brew the perfect frothocippo, so to speak. So this is the result!  My version of a latte, and a very convincing one at that.  Whip about half a cup of evaporated milk with a few teaspoons of sugar – sweeten to taste (I didn’t end up using the whole thing).  (note:  you’ll want to use the whipped milk pretty soon; it doesn’t “hold” the same way cream does) Brew coffee.  Add whipped milk to decadent European bowl-shaped cup; add hot coffee and stir well.  Keep adding coffee and milk until you have the perfect balance, then top with one more blob of whipped milk. So there you have it:  not only frugal (though these days, I’m bre

I would say Happy Chanukah…

… but my mouth is full of PARTY SANDWICH!!! (Ted’s picture; thank you, Ted!!!)

Enjoy them now!

The people who tell you to enjoy your time with your kids while they’re little… are also the same ones who turn around four years later and look at you like you’re crazy for not dumping them in school the minute they can keep a diaper dry? If I say “but we’re still having so much fun!” they look at me like I’m overlooking their own development for my own pleasure.  “But, but, but… didn’t you say to enjoy it?” I imagine saying. “While they’re little.  A bit.  Only enjoy them a bit.  Not too much; that’s sick.” Oh-kee, doh-kee!  I will absolutely keep that in mind. Sorry to rant; we bumped into a relative last week in the grocery store and she acted like I was completely nutso. I swear, it is the exact same people who get all gushy when they’re teeny babies.  Frankly, I can’t stand teeny babies.  What I like is small people you can hold hands with and point out the most amazing things about the world. And yes, Elisheva and Yerachmiel still count.  Elisheva held my hand at f

Money, money, money! (for Chanukah)

Elisheva came to me after Shabbos and announced, "you owe me 30 cents!" It’s true.  That’s our Chanukah thing. What we have done going back about maybe eight years now is something I read about online. The first year we did it, I explained the deal.  The first day of Chanukah (unless it was Shabbos), they could choose:  a $20 bill - or a dime.  However, I explained that the dime would double every single day, so on the second day, they’d get 20 cents; 40 cents the third, etc.  So their choice was a math problem – yes, years before I was homeschooling!  - take the $20 up-front, or take the "doubling dime"? Elisheva deferred to YM who quickly worked it out and told her to take the dime.  And every year since then, they have.  Though it may seem at first like a crass “corruption” of the season’s gift-giving mood, money (real and chocolate) actually is by far the more traditional "gift" for Chanukah.  (when I ask Naomi and Gavriel Zev which they’d

Six Word Saturday: December 12, 2009

  Happy Chanukah to one and all!

Interview - breast cancer thought

What do you think of when somebody says "breast"?   Just interviewed the founder of the Nanny Angel Network , a really worthwhile organization that offers free relief childcare for women going through breast cancer treatment and recovery. So now I am thinking - the first thing people think of these days when they hear the word "breast" MUST be "cancer."  With all the organizations and awareness and ribbons etc out there now.   And I'm thinking that's kind of sad.  Shouldn't it be "feeding"?  Or, at worst, "fondling"?   To me, it's similar to people who know nothing about Judaism (isn't it always about Judaism, deep down?) except the Holocaust. If a non-Jew is going to learn only one thing about Judaism, as many high school students do, I'd rather have them know about Torah, mitzvos, tefillah, Shabbos - anything except the Shoah. But there is so much funding, so much awareness out there... Hol

Bejeweled: but who’re you going tell???

Further to my two previous Bejeweled high score posts (107,400 here – under the old scoring system – and 338,650 here), I just scored an amazing, incredible, absolutely unprecedented score of 360,300… see?  The catch is, I have two facebook accounts.  One for my kids and their friends; one for me and my grown-up friends. And this is my score on the WRONG account, meaning none of the people I usually play Bejeweled against are going to see the score and know how very incredible I am.  See above, my “Imma Mac” scoreboard?  I only  have one other friend besides myself who plays Bejeweled 2, and that’s Elisheva.  I only log on from time to time to play against her. Anyway, now nobody knows.  They’re just going to have to take my word – and this screenshot – for it.  The next-highest score on my regular scoreboard is 210,450… piffle!  That’s nothing! Must stop obsessing and start making Shabbos.  Shabbos Chanukah – yay!

“Menorah in a Box” Craft for Chanukah

Yet another craft idea borrowed from  I love that site!  Without that site, Jewish homeschooling would be WAY  harder and I’d be spending all my time creating curriculum. Naomi invited a couple of 3-year-old friends (and their little brothers) to come over today to do a small Chanukah thing.  Not a party; you can’t really call 3 girls (and 3 very little boys) a party .  But it was fun; she had tons of fun, and that’s the main thing.  Chanukah stories, latkes (from a mix!), and a craft… and here it is:  my take on what was originally called The Clip & Light Play Menorah . The original calls for the menorah to be built on a background of two wooden slats glued together for stability.  I substituted dollar-store unfinished wooden boxes, unhinged (like me!).  You glue the clothespins inside the box to make the menorah.  As a bonus, not only can the kids can decorate the outside, but it closes up nicely for storage (along with a few extra Chanukah trinkets that can

Why we are the worst relatives…

Okay, look what’s sitting in the front hall right now.  Four boxes, that all arrived when we were at Ms Megan today.  FOUR. Two from Ted’s mother (more razors!), one from my mother-in-law in Calgary, and one from Ted’s sister. Don’t bother asking how many we’ve sent to these wonderful people.  I have ONE gift sitting here that needs mailing to Calgary; one. Okay, I always do manage to send something to both extended families; usually, it’s chocolates, at the last minute.  Last year, I think they arrived the first business day AFTER Xmas. Know why I wait until the last minute to run to chocolate charm and buy a nice box of truffles? Because Ted’s mother usually ALSO sends money at this time of year (above and beyond the razor blades, shampoo and shaving cream), about $100.  So I take the $100 and mail it back to her in the form of truffles.  I wonder if she suspects…!

What the heck IS this stuff?!?

First snowfall, Winter 2009.   Naomi is insisting it’s winter now, because there’s snow. Gavriel Zev may look like a Boy With Boots in this picture, but they are Naomi Rivka’s   No boots, and they’re about three sizes too big (they’re a 9, I think he wears a 6).  Naomi’s are only two sizes too big; I bumped her up to the like-new Size 11 Cougars that I found at Value Village over the summer. I took this as proof that I actually got the children outside today.  We were totally snowed-in feeling and at each other’s throats all morning.  I told Ted on the phone that he was going to come home and find a home empty but for our gnawed corpses.  I was totally bummed (no other word, no nicer word; sorry!) because I’d planned a really nice outing – slash – playdate with a couple of other mamas and had to cancel.  Blah.  I hate cancelling, for any reason, mostly because so many parents seem to do it at the drop of a hat.  “Sorry, she’s grouchy today; I think we’re going to stay home.”

The missing remote

Last night Ted announced that the DVD remote was missing.  No wonder; our bedroom is an unholy mess, with everybody's laundry and diapers and whatnot everywhere, plus everything I have read in the last two months, 80 mummified hankies, 7000 dust bunnies, 12 pairs of shoes and a few miscellaneous Chanukah gifts stashed away (even though we don't do gifts).   Anyway, he searched EVERYWHERE.  Literally, EVERYWHERE.  Picking through the dust bunnies.  Shining a flashlight low and high, rummaging through the mismatched-socks pile.  Ugh... really must get laundry out of the bedroom someday.  Anyway, nothing.  A literal ransacking, and nothing .   And then I came in and searched, if not everywhere, in a few particularly suspicious places:  the floor where it could have fallen between the mattress and the headboard, alongside my bedside table, in the "top-secret-gifts" bag that I hope Ted didn't find & search when he was searching.  Nothing.   Total search ti

Wicked Plants has MY vote!

Love voting for stuff online, but stumped about what to vote for now that you have already cast your routine daily vote for the Children’s Storefront (do it here if you haven’t already)??? Well, isn’t this a cool book cover? It could be one of the top book covers of 2009 if you (yes, you!) take a second to click this link and visit Amazon and vote. Or, just… Go here to vote I haven’t actually READ this book yet, you understand; it’s a new one from one of the most exciting garden/science writers out there, Amy Stewart.  You can also follow her at her blog . She is already the author of a couple of other books I’ve enjoyed, including The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms (an absolutely fascinating book – not nearly as dull and earthy as it sounds!) and Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (an incredibly revealing exposé of an industry you wouldn’t think would have anything scandalous to reveal).

Best Bejeweled score!!!

Okay, I usually try to keep my blogging mania completely separate from my Bejeweled mania (aka addiction)… but this really is something extraordinary:  338,650.  This is the highest score I have ever seen on my own screen!!! Where it usually tells you your score “is in the top 50%” of all scores, mine now reads “one of the world’s best scores!!!” Yay, me!  And yes, supper did get made.  I’m just playing while the chili-with-cornbread-on-top bakes… no-one in my family has ever gone hungry because of this addiction.  Underpants-less, maybe. Just kidding!

Gifts for Kids

One of the least rewarding aspects of parenthood is when birthdays are approaching (luckily, we don’t do gifts for Chanukah), you get to be the go-to person.  As the parent, you are the one everybody asks, “what would ____ like for her birthday???” I guess maybe some parents have tons of ideas and are happy to share them so they don’t have to buy everything. But me, I come up with one idea, and guard it ferociously… unless somebody scoops me on it, like my sister did the other night when she suggested a guitar for Elisheva .  Okay, yes, sure.  That was the one idea I had so far, but you’re her aunt,  you buy it… I’m sure I’ll come up with something else. And then I did come up with something else:  a DVD player for the playroom downstairs !  So the kids don’t have to watch their DVDs on the computer OR in our room.  There’s a VCR in there, but who watches those anymore?  DVD players are super-cheap  now and everything!  And then, I was at my mother’s today and she aske