Friday, December 31, 2010

Shabbos Desserts!

Well, I ought to be working on the whole menu, but so far, I haven’t gotten past the sweet stuff.  Typical.

Nevertheless, “al hamar v’ha matok” – for the bitter and the sweet, a line from a Naomi Shemer song.  In this case, the savoury and the sweet – nothing bitter going on here!  So – onward!  “Al hamatok, v’ha ta-im!”

Ted’s still in his Kosher by Design phase – since I had my contest, he has had every one of these books out from the library.

Crossing stuff out as I make it…


  • Challah
  • “Boughten” Egg rolls (we found the word boughten in a little house book and love it!)
  • Kosher by Design Turkey Sliders – served a la meatballs w/some kind of sauce
  • Garlic wedged roasted “hasselback” potatoes, from a Kosher by Design book
  • Miso-dressing green beans (improvised with hatcho miso, white vinegar (I’m out of rice vinegar), sesame oil and mirin)
  • Corn (frozen corn, steamed; it wouldn’t be Shabbos without it!)
  • Desserts

Lunch!  Not sure what Ted has planned.

  • Challah
  • Cholent?
  • Store-bought Slicey meats
  • Purkey Tastries – aka puff pastry with slices of turkey pastrami inside!
  • Carrot salad – EASY!  Carrot “coins” steamed, tossed with olive oil, cumin, curry powder, salt, craisins.  I have also made this without the curry powder – just cumin & garlic.  Try lots of fresh, local garlic, for a powerful kick!
  • Desserts

Desserts! (aka the only thing I have done so far today besides challah)

  • NEW Marble Chiffon Cake – I wanted swirly cake, but couldn’t find my tube pan, so I made it in 3 loaf pans instead.
  • OLD FAVE Almond Biscotti aka Mandelbroit – never-fail, always-yum

Good Shabbos!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parsha Poem: Vaeira / וָאֵרָא

שְׁמוֹת / shemos / shemot / Exodus 6:2-9:35

Printable PDF versions:  Ashkenazi, Sefardi.  (PDF help here!)
Parsha narrative overview here.
Copywork sheet and parsha activities available here.


Walking through the park with my silly little sister

Swinging my stick but making sure I always missed her.

When I thunked and I thwacked and I hit a little hill,

She called out, “Stop right now!  I really hope you will!”

“Why not hit it?” I quizzed my sister in the park;

I really didn’t know, she had kept me in the dark.

“Don’t you remember?” like she thought that I should know,

“Racing madly down it, that day you felt so low?”

How could I forget?  My sister knew me all too well,

But I still felt unsure of what she’d really meant to tell.

“Because I biked on down that hill, I shouldn’t smack it hard?”

“That’s exactly right,” she said, as we approached our yard.

“Last summer you were dragging and the heat was dull and hot,

You were lounging in our backyard but could not find a spot;

To the park you pedalled, just looking for a thrill,

And you found it gliding down that not-so-little hill.”

She had a point, I knew that, for the hill’s a perfect size,

And we’d spent all afternoon there, competing for a prize.

Just then I swung the gate back, pushed it with a clunk,

“Hey!” she cried, “Don’t treat it like the gate’s made up of junk.”



“Hey!” I muttered, “what’s the deal?  It’s really just a gate!”

“Just think,” she said, “and while you do, I can stand and wait.”

I thought right back to the terrible day a dog was chasing me,

'Till I ran through that gate and closed it quick and finally felt free.

“I guess you’re right,” I finally said, “I owe it some respect,

At least I shouldn’t slam it so hard, because it might get wrecked.”

She nodded as I veered away, to whack a dandelion

“No way!” she hollered, “don’t do that – you'll hurt my yellow friend Brian!”

“Hey, little sis, what’s up with you?” I asked her at the door.

“You’ve never worried about this stuff – ever, ever before.

Why do you care so much right now for treating everything right?”

I felt like I could hardly budge, she'd gotten so uptight.

“Haven’t you read the parsha this week?” she asked incredulously.

“There’s a lesson for you,” she told me now, “if only you could see.”

“In Vaeira, some makkos start with a staff over water or over land,

But during those makkos, the staff is held in Aaron’s, not Moshe’s, hand.”

And now I remembered what she meant; really, I’d known all along. 

Moshe would never hit the water – it saved him when he wasn’t strong.

And the dust, the sand, had buried the Mitzri, his body down so deep,

Moshe could not bear to turn it to lice, knowing they crawl and they creep!

When Hashem needed plagues, whether blood, frogs or lice,

He knew Moshe would follow his own great advice.

To be grateful, hakaras hatov, would come first

For water and sand helped when things were their worst.

Yes, my sister is right, but what’s even more true

Is we have to be grateful in all that we do.

Not just to things, but the folks all around,

Who help us and care with a love so profound.

So I opened the door, oh-so-gently, it’s true,

Ate supper all up, but before I was through.

I cleared all my dishes, no crashes and clanks,

Smiled up at my mom – and said quickly, “thanks.”


(special hakaras hatov to my still-TedTastic!-after-all-these-years husband for this week’s illustrations!)

Naomi’s Birthday Gift


Well, the first I’ve bought this year, anyway… and it’s totally commercial, though it’s from before she was born (new in the box on eBay).

Why this Barbie?

  • I was looking at doctor / nurse / midwife outfits anyway, because she asked for one, and this cost not that much more than just an outfit on its own.
  • She’s BLACK.  (click the link – that’s a GOOD thing, though Naomi already has a black “Barbie” if you count Iridessa, which she does…)
  • She comes with BABIES!  Not one, but three!
  • I think there are a couple of other doctor-type accessories in the package, but even if not, I think it’s a great gift.

I’m so happy she doesn’t read this blog (yet!).  Can’t post the other kids’ gifts here… well, not YM’s anyway, but I did mention Elisheva’s.

There will probably be more gifts as the date approaches… just debating how tacky it would be to email the extended family to say NO MORE BARBIES!!!

Homeschool Resources Roundup: Math, Math, Math!

Hi!  Welcome to my blog!  For some reason, this entry has become one of my most popular posts of all time.  I guess because it has so many exciting homeschooly keywords, unlike most of my posts, which are just my random thoughts and musings.  Still, if you enjoy this old post, you might want to click here to get to the current stuff. :-)

(Want to see just the math???  Click here for related posts.)

image I have a file on my computer that is getting HUGE… a list of various homeschool resources, mostly printables, online.

So I thought I’d share them and, that way, I’ll also get to sort through the lists for myself and check to see which links are still working!


Unless otherwise stated, most sites offer resources for all elementary grade levels.

Esso Family Math, a complete mini-math unit for young children, from the University of Waterloo:

More Family Math resources here:

(we have done this 6-week program twice at our local library and LOVED it!)

A British site with fun numeracy tools:  image

Math lessons, printables (like mats) and more:

Tons of fun math worksheets!

Free math worksheets:

Not many, but nice quality worksheets:

Very basic worksheets (kind of dull):


MEP Math – An entire British math curriculum for FREE.  Based on a Hungarian program.  Probably as expensive as workbooks to print, but perhaps useful as a supplement if you’re only printing a few items here and there?

Many, many lesson plans and some printables, including a worksheet generator:

Searchable standards-based math lesson plans:

Math lesson plans and activities – kindergarten and beyond:


Paid site, some printables, but mostly good for inspiration:

Mostly paid site, but many great printables as well:

Math Mammoth:  many free sample pages and sheets from its curriculum – sign up for a newsletter first, and they send you the PDFs.  Worth signing up for, in my opinion (you can always unsubscribe), for the useful insights into teaching math and MANY free worksheets if you want them, along with corresponding links to Web resources:


Studying money?  Generate your own worksheets – in 5 types of currency!

Invaluable math lessons for high schoolers (this is how I figure out what my big kids are learning!):

Math worksheets in Hebrew: (I have trouble reading this site – there’s a lot there, maybe good stuff, but what I have been able to read is often not up to the quality I’m used to)

imageFinally, there are many math-related games and gadgets from this very British site…intended for use with an interactive whiteboard, but they work just fine on a home PC!  This is where I got the “scary spuds” potato head image at the top of this post!  This appealing alien named “Lecky” also puts in many an appearance in the games and activities.  Some (picture a plummy British accent here) rather useful stuff…


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

OMG, I applied

image … and you can, too:  Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project Israel Experience

What was I thinking?  Even just for the cost of airfare, I can’t afford it!

And what about the fact that I can’t stand groups of women???

Telling question from the FAQ:

Question:  Is there time to shop?

Answer:  There will be several opportunities to shop during the Jerusalem portion of the trip, as well as time to purchase Ahava Dead Sea products before leaving Masada.

SHOP???  I was happy that Ted brought back souvenirs for a few people after our trip, because even though I glanced at a few windows (“that might be nice for Sara”) I doubt I’d ever have bought anything on my own.

If and when I get to Israel, I want to do it on my own terms.  I want to be a lone wolf; I want to hitchhike!  I want to take buses and trains, to roam wherever and do whatever, and you cannot do that on a $#!% tour.


And yet.  And yet.  It’s only an application form.  They might say no, and even if they say yes, I might say no.  Ted’s vacation schedule might not work out; the MONEY might not work out.  It’s not really just the cost of airfare… I’m sure there are dinners out, urgent chocolate bar needs, tips, I don’t know what.  And souvenirs.

I would need free time.  Time to wander and stare at stuff and just be ME… in Israel.  My own FAQ:

Question:  Is there time to bugger off, skip town, sleep in, be grouchy and antisocial… in other words, just be ME?

Answer:  ???

I have said many times I would do almost anything to get back there.  Maybe this is what I have to do.

Disappointing postscript:  despite absolutely NO indication anywhere on the website, it seems the trip is for NON-Orthodox women only.  Despite the fact that the concept was pioneered by Lori Palatnik with a 4-day Utah retreat that included Jewish women “from all walks of life…married, single, older, younger, observant and non-observant women.”  Sigh…

From the Bookshelf: Radical Homemakers

Radical Homemakerson the definition of economy, from the Greek “oikonomos,” meaning “household manager”:

“Money is simply a tool.  We use money as a proxy for our time and labour – our life energy – to acquire things that we cannot (or care not to) procure or produce with our own hands.  Beyond that, it has limited actual utility:  you can’t eat it, if you bury it in the ground, it will not produce a crop to sutain a family; it would make a lousy roof and a poor blanket.  To base our understanding of economy simply on money overlooks all other methods of exchange that can empoewer communities,.  Equating an economy only with money assumes that there are no other means by which we can provide food for our bellies, a roof over our heads and clothing on our backs.  Further, when we assume that money is the only means by which we can accomplish these things, then our economy serves only those people who possess it.  It does not value the regenerative wor,k that must be done in order to provide the resources that every soul… needs to live.”

Buy it here!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Summer 2011 Coleus: or, counting chickens…?

coleus 004

I’ve been dreading this job – but now, it’s done!

I’m actually a full three weeks earlier this year to rescue the coleus that have been languishing since the summer on the kitchen windowsill.  SEVEN glasses’ worth, at least 4-7 stems per glass.  Often very crowded – terrible conditions, as you can see from the drinking-glass-shaped tangle of roots at the right.  Plus, thanks to a few breakages, we have almost no drinking glasses left… I keep wondering where they are every time I go to take a drink, and then realize – there they are on the windowsill!

coleus 003  coleus 005 

There is something nice about taking this nightmarish chaos of roots and transforming it into something kind of orderly:

coleus 006 coleus 007

Of course, I was cheerful and optimistic last year, too, but that didn’t stop the plants from almost all dying.  Hence the question mark on this post.  Whether they will make it to summertime is far from a sure thing. 

It may FEEL like winter is almost over (to me, it always feels like winter is almost over – I’ve got to keep staring at the light at the end of that tunnel or I’ll go mad here in the darkness), but there is still one long, cold, dank stretch. 

YM has already begun complaining about the dehumidifier running downstairs, but if I shut it off, I’m sure everything will succumb that much sooner.  In the basement, these coleus really need more light, more heat… more everything.  Unfortunately, they’re not going to get it here. 

So we shall see how they fare this time around.  But I am tentitively labelling this post with the HAPPY tag because it is indeed a happy thing to be finished a task this tedious, and to be thinking about spring, far off though it may be. 

There are about 38 plants this year… not that I’m counting chickens.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homeschool Diary #9: 20 Teves, 5771


PLEASE JOIN US! If you teach your kids at home, please add your blog to comments section below!
Other “weekly challenges” that may or may not interest you:

A bit of a weird week, because our regular City programs aren’t back on yet, and our shul is having special programs to help parents fill in during the “break”! 

We’re doing more social stuff during this time, but there is also learning going on.  We finally managed to get out to Playground Paradise with friends.  Every time we go, Naomi makes me promise we’ll get back there soon… and we never do.  I like it because unlike Woodie Woodchuck’s, where we used to go, there is no “gambling and rides” component to the entertainment – it’s JUST an indoor playground, run by the City, so it’s relatively inexpensive compared to some of the fancier places.  The downside is that it’s a shlep – oh, and not much fun for big kids who only love the gambling and videogames.


  • MATH:  clock math, making “bean sticks” for future place value lesson
  • HEBREW:  reading/writing – Kriyah v’Od, Book 1
  • GENERAL/SCIENCE:  Continue All About Me:  post-Chanukah Lapbook
  • PARSHA:  Began Vaeira parsha narrative
  • READING:  Two review BOB Books (final review of Set 2!)
  • READING:  Dick & Jane, 2 easy “chapters”
  • LITERATURE:  On the Banks of Plum Creek (ongoing; still slogging through…)

PRESCHOOL:  GZ can do “free play” with beans and clocks; choosing a book for Naomi Rivka to read.  He also loves “reading” the BOB Books – his versions are hilarious!  He makes up words, but says them in the same stilted word-by-word way Naomi does.

Tuesday (Ted late):

  • SOCIAL/RECREATIONAL:  Morning drop-in program at shul
  • SOCIAL/RECREATIONAL:  Outdoor time / Playdate with a friend?
  • GENERAL/SCIENCE:  Gingerbread Man poem & glyph activity here – fill out for Naomi Rivka 
  • Evening: 
    • GENERAL/SCIENCE:  Continue Gingerbread Man glyph activity – Naomi fills out a new gingerbread man using answers for one of the other kids

PRESCHOOL:  Social & fun time at shul!  Colouring his own gingerbread man, with dot-dot markers or crayons.  Cutting out gingerbread decorations from construction paper and glue-sticking them in place.


  • MATH:  Intro place value with rods & beans; introduce bundle song; talk about TEEN NUMBERS (from MathWire, a new site I just discovered…)
  • READING:  One old (set 2), one new (set 3) BOB Book
  • GENERAL/SCIENCE:  Finish All About Me:  post-Chanukah Lapbook!
  • WRITING:  Handwriting without Tears w/ rice writing & sensory cards – okay, I really will get out the rice this time!  She loves it!  It’s amazing how lazy I am when it comes to getting out the rice…
  • PHONICS:  Explode the Code
  • READING:  Starfall book/site as a reward

PRESCHOOL:  Choosing a BOB Book for Naomi to read.  Using a frog on the number line to count “teen numbers” to 20.  Starfall ABC letters, definitely; he loves this and is becoming quite phonically adept!


  • SOCIAL/RECREATIONAL:  Morning drop-in program at shul
  • SOCIAL/RECREATIONAL:  Outdoor time / Playdate with a friend?
  • PARSHA:  Review Parsha
  • PARSHA/WRITING:  Begin Ten Plagues Copywork (do 5-7 this week, the rest next week)
  • MATH:  Rods/Miquon Math – dice play & place value, Naomi chooses worksheet

PRESCHOOL:   Fun time at shul!  Parsha reading.  Rolling dice and counting the dots.  Dice cards, if I can get them made (or find some to download/print) in time.


  • PARSHA:  Final Parsha review
  • PARSHA/NARRATION:  Parsha Narration & illustration
  • PARSHA:  Gdcast parsha video (reward for the narration)
  • GENERAL/RECREATIONAL:  Shopping for Shabbos game (face-up with GZ, face-down with Naomi Rivka)

PRESCHOOL:  Parsha reading; video watching.  Shopping for Shabbos game, easy-peasy face-up version.  Free play with Shopping for Shabbos cards, lists and carts.

Boy, am I looking forward to having a LITTLE more time on Fridays to do more with the kids…

Resources we’re enjoying this week!

image image image image

image image image image

As we move towards Naomi Rivka’s 6th birthday, I am also trying to slide more into a formal curriculum, as we discover more about what works for us – “us” being her, him and me.  Optimistically, I estimate that, at this rate, she’ll be about halfway through grade one by September.  I definitely have no problem with that!

Lately, I’ve been bitten by a crazy-big social-studies bug.  I bought Story of the World and plan to order the Activity Book to go along with it (I think I did, anyway).  SOTW isn’t perfect:  its version of history is slightly idealized, with a very Eurocentric bias.  Nevertheless, it seems to mesh well (at least in the Ancient History volume) with what the kids are learning about Judaism and their place in the world. 

Naomi’s always been into maps, and I bought a book that I plan to start perhaps closer to her birthday.

Meanwhile, our science curriculum is still on hold while we finish our “just for fun” All About Me lapbook.  This is an easy precursor to the body science unit coming up in science… mostly while I order the books and wait for them to arrive.

There’s just so much to cover!  And this is only kindergarten!  I don’t know how anybody gets through this without panicking, but I do realize the important thing is NOT to overwhelm the kids – NOT to try to teach them everything in one year. 

We have 18 years to teach our kids… and the important thing, especially at this age, is most definitely the quality of the education, NOT the quantity.

So what’s your Jewish homeschool family doing this week????

Menu Plan Monday #33: 20 Teves, 5771

imageWhy the weird dates? Click here to find out! 
Other “weekly challenges” I participate in that may or may not interest you:

Hi!  We are a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher.  Newcomers, read my MPM intro here which tells you all about who we are, or just visit my super-duper-list-imization of Everything We Eat.

Sunday (Ted off):  Take out Howie T’s burgers @ Mommy’s, revive sourdough overnight

Monday:  Superstore Chicken & roasted potato/carrots (note:  buy slider buns for Wed.)

Tuesday (Ted late):  Good sourdough bread, yummy soup – do I need to be more specific???  ;-)

Wednesday:  Turkey sliders, Naomi’s request

Thursday (Vegan Vursday):  Hot/sour soup w/homemade seitan – so amazing last time; veggie stir-fry, maybe peanut sauce and rice stick noodles?

Shabbos:  I dunno!!

I wanted to include here – one of the biggest hits from last week:  veggie pot pie, totally vegan and inspired by Amy over at Homeshuling.  It’s basically my regular all-veggie stew (with tofu, but all I had was extra-firm silken (oxymoron?), so it came out kind of crumbly), baked in a crust. 

I used a frozen crust for the bottom, but instead of Amy’s cobbler topping, whomped on this pretty homemade crust.  Left out the nutritional yeast, but I must say – Tamari, mmm… I use it all the time for other things, but in this dish, it added just the right savoury note.  I also used some red wine in the gravy, which was the most mind-blowing pareve gravy I’ve ever tasted.

potpie 003 potpie 002

Yummy!  (it may not look delicious in the pictures, but believe me, it was!

If you’ve never spent too much (or too much time) on Etsy…

…Then just skip this post right on over.

image If you HAVE, well, I found this video funny, and you might, too.  I also just subscribed to the blog.  I mean, this needed to be a word!

Warning:  the video is most definitely not up to my usual high standards in taste, but then, neither are some of the wares being touted on etsy – although, of course, some are excellent!

A different kind of tree

image The wise and wonderful Batya Medad has once again reminded us of our true responsibilities in looking back on the Carmel fire and taking a lesson from Israel’s water shortages. 

But, although I usually agree with her 100%, she refers to some of the people’s mourning for the trees as “trivial.”

Trivial or not, my perspective on the fire had a lot to do with the trees. 

It’s not that we shouldn’t daven, of COURSE, and certainly focus on Hashem’s purpose for the country, and the direction its leadership should take.  Those are all important things – far more important than the trees.

imageBut then there’s the fact that every Tu b'Shvat, when it's too cold to think about planting anything, we're over here, paying JNF and visualizing fields full of Israeli s choolchildren planting for us.  Every bar or bat mitzvah, every secular milestone... you plant a tree.  It’s the rectangular blue “pushke” in every Bubby’s home.

To think of those or any other trees burning, well, the trees mean a LOT.

The trees are synecdochal - they are a small and superficial part of Israel, it's true, but for many of us, they represent the whole, the tikvah, the aspirations of every Jew, להיות עם חופשי בארצנו, “lihyot am chofshi b'artzeinu” – to be a free people in our own land.

The trees are irrevocably intertwined with the freedom of Jewish people everywhere.  Trivial?  Never.

Vaeira / וָאֵרָא Parsha Overview: The first plagues

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a “Q&A” format adaptable for kids of any age.  Answers in brackets are traditional responses, from parsha text and midrash.  But be open to anything your child might have to say!

Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use them in our homeschool!  There are also copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy!

As we start this week’s parsha, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל are in big trouble:

To punish מֹשֶׁה, the newפַּרְעֹה  is making them work harder than ever before!


משהimageasked ה׳ at the end of last week’s parsha why he wasn’t helping בני ישראל.

ה׳ reminds משה of the promises he made to… (אברהם, יצחק and יעקב)

ה׳ uses four special words to explain how much he loves בני ישראל:

·         וְהוֹצֵאתִי - I will bring you out of מִצְרַיִם

·         וְהִצַּלְתִּי  - I will save you from hard work

·         וְגָאַלְתִּי  - I will redeem you with נִסִּים , miracles, and finally,

·         וְלָקַחְתִּי  - I will take you close to Me

We remember these four words at the סֵדֶר (Seder) with… (four cups of wine or grape juice!)

ה׳ also makes a fifth promise:  וְהֵבֵאתִי  - I will bring you to אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן !


סֵפֶר שְׁמוֹת is all about ה׳ keeping promises; all these things will come true!

Was life good for בני ישראל?  (no, they were miserable)

Did they believe משה when he told them what ה׳ would do?  (no, they were working too hard!)

משה and אַהֲרֹן  went again to ask פרעה… (to let בני ישראל go)

Did פרעה listen to משה and אהרן?  (no, he did not!)


אהרן and משה tried proving they really were sent from ה׳!

אהרן threw down his stick and it… (turned into aנָחָשׁ , a snake – wow!)

Was פרעה impressed?  (no, his magicians could turn their sticks into snakes, too!)

What happened to the other magicians’ snakes?  (אהרן’s snake ate them all up!)

Did פרעה believe them then?  (no, he did not!)image


פרעה’s heart was “hardened”; ה׳ knew he wouldn’t listen, no matter what.

ה׳ needed to send ten punishments – we call them מַכּוֹת (in English, plagues)!

The first מַכָּה was… (דָּם, blood).  אהרן stretched out… (his stick, over the river)

All the water in מצרים turned… (into blood)

Did בני ישראל have water still?  (yes, in גושן, the water didn’t change)

image Did פרעה believe in משה and אהרן and listen to ה׳ after that?  (no, he did not!)


Each time, פרעה didn’t listen, so each time, ה׳ sent more מכות!

The second מכה was… (צְפַרְדֵּעַ, frogs).  Frogs were… (everywhere; in their beds, even their ovens!)image

Some people say there was only one… (big frog; the מצריים hit it & it turned into many little frogs!)

The third מכה was… (כִּנִּים, lice).  The dust everywhere… (turned into itchy bugs!)

פרעה’s magicians told him this was really from ה׳, but he still… (didn’t listen)

image The fourth מכה was… (עָרוֹב, wild animals).  They went… (everywhere, and destroyed the land!)


imageThis time, פרעה said בני ישראל could go.  But when the מכה ended, he changed his mind.

The fifth מכה was… (דֶּבֶר, cattle disease).  All the animals of the מצריים… (got sick and died)

Did בני ישראל have sick animals?  (no, all their animals stayed healthy)

image The sixth מכה was… (שְׁחִין, boils).  All of the מצריים… (got terrible, painful bumps on their bodies)

The seventh מכה was… (בָּרָד, hail).  Fire and ice… (rained down and destroyed the מצרי fields)image


Even after all of that, פרעה’s heart was hardened; he wouldn’t listen to משה and אהרן!

Why didn’t ה׳ kill the מצריים?

·         He hoped they would do תְּשׁוּבָה, and

·         He wanted בני ישראל to see how much He loved them.


We will learn about three more מכות in next week’s parsha!