Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2011

My New Friend Kobo…

I guess I’m feeling week with this week’s minor infusion of cash, because I gave in to yet another impulse and invested in an eBook reader (obnoxiously called an ereader for short). It’s a Kobo Touch, and it’s purple… most stores are sold out of the good colours, but I think purple is perfect.  And it’s quilted. What’s on it, so far? Library Freebies (expire in 3 weeks): Moonlight on the Magic Flute (Magic Tree House book) Beverly Cleary – A Girl from Yamhill (her memoir) Helena Andrews – Bitch is the New Black Jen Calonita – Secrets of my Hollywood Life (now you know my secret – when I’m super-tired, I love reading “Young Adult” fiction… aren’t we ALL young adults, at heart???) Freebies : John Holt – Common Objections to Homeschooling ( this page , converted to a PDF) McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader (Naomi Rivka’s current reading book) Practical Lessons in the Use of English for Grammar Schools, by Mary F. Hyde The Seven Little Sisters

Impatient Preschooler Phonics Worksheet Tip

If your preschooler desperately WANTS to do phonics worksheets and has the knowledge to do them easily, but lacks the patience and writing skills to sit drawing X’s or O’s around the correct answers, try a bingo marker! That way, he can just “dab” the right answers and be finished even a very involved page (like this 4x3) in seconds!           The only drawback is that the marker tends to wreck the reverse side of the sheets.

Flag Day!

The kids were intrigued by the half-maple-leaf design I cut out (more information in this post ), and I discovered that by cleverly folding a piece of construction paper into quarters, Naomi could single-handedly (well, two -handedly) cut out not one but TWO red maple leaves for our Canada Flag craft . The rest of the “craft” was mindlessly easy, of course, even for Gavriel Zev, but they enjoyed it disproportionately well for some reason.  You can see GZ has his little mirror here next to his flag.  He spent about fifteen minutes just peering at the half-leaf in the mirror.  He had the best time when Naomi was doing symmetry in math, too.  He just sits chortling at how he can make the picture appear and disappear.   Then, he asked me to make a half-magen-david to look at in his mirror, so I did, and I had the brilliant idea of tracing it onto quartered construction paper before I gave it to him.  I stapled the construction paper so it wouldn’t slip around while Naomi Rivka wa

Goodbye, Robert Munsch (from our house)

I don’t know if this is the kind of Canadiana Post I’m supposed to include for the Great Canadian Blog Bash, but here it is anyway… sorry! A couple of days ago, I put my foot down.  No more Robert Munsch.  Well.  Even I can’t say no to “Classic Munsch,” our old favourites like Mortimer , A Promise is a Promise , and – every mama’s favourite – Love You Forever .  These are wonderful stories with an actual plot.  I really do love them. Some of the classics are even helpfully marked by a Classic Munsch “seal” logo.  That’s to differentiate them from the book-of-the-week that he seems to be putting out right now, part of what seems to be a full-time push on the part of him and illustrator Michael Martchenko, to record and publish every story no matter how banal and awful. Take this one, for example:  Up, Up, Down , which I confiscated when it came in from the library.  I heard it on a CD of his stories long ago, but now it’s a book and it’s pretty bad.  What do I mean by bad ?  The sim

Can’t beat ‘em…

I subscribed to The Old Schoolhouse . My blog posting software doesn’t offer any fonts smaller than that, so I can’t hide it any better. Am I ashamed? First of all, my love affair with magazines:  everybody who lives with me knows this – I love magazines!  They are slippery and juicy like delicious noodles, ready to slurp up and enjoy. Second of all, homeschooling.  Articles, support, from a religious perspective – albeit not my own religious perspective.  Elisheva was appalled when she came across a copy in the bathroom and saw an article all about people’s reasons for homeschooling:  they didn’t want to abandon their kids to lousy and immoral public schools; they looked in their Bible and found verses that led them to believe it’s a parent’s responsibility to educate her children.  They wanted their kids’ study to acknowledge not just the world itself but the Maker who formed it.  Well.  Huh. I pointed out that these were all things a Jewish parent could say just as easi

Meeting the Masters: Van Gogh, Part 2

Because we’re only doing it every other week, this is only our second “day” with our first Meet the Masters artist.  (read about our happy first meeting here ) Today, it was time for the hands-on project, an exploration of both texture – a la Van Gogh himself – and a brand-new medium:  oil pastels.  Naomi loved the little pastels and was fascinated with the idea of peeling and snapping them. She made a point of using every colour just so she’d have to peel each one, and refused to let me do any. I used pastels as a kid (maybe junior high school?) but didn’t really realize what they WERE – SuperMegaCrayons from the Planet Artizoid.  GZ experimented with using crayons and pastels while I showed Naomi the different results in terms of texture and vibrancy. I hate to sound like an ad, but the instructions from the Meet the Masters program were SUPER easy to follow.  I am NOT an art person, but they are so stupidly simple:  all you need is a pulse to succeed with this program.  Luck

Canada Day – Welcome, Great Canadian Blog Bash!!!

Uh-oh… just realized I’m supposed to have a welcome post here and add my linky… whoops! WELCOME!!!  I will be trying to do a few things of Canadian interest this week to welcome visitors from the Blog Bash Linky. When you’re finished here, don’t forget to visit other Canadian blogs participating in the Blog Bash over here ! Let’s start by teaching the consummate song about Canada to a new generation!! I thought I’d start this welcome post NOT by kvetching again about Canada Post , but with some links to stuff you can print so you can learn more about Canada with your kids – kind of a “mini unit study.”  To help you out, I am using BOLD FACE type for all Canadiana references!!! But first of all – if you use PayPal, and live in the Toronto area, and are planning to go to Canada’s Wonderland this summer, you have a few hours left to jump over to this post and read about a very special offer from PayPal.  I don’t usually push special prices, but this was one I couldn’t pass

Naomi’s-Eye view of the garden

She was frantically describing a flower to me and I couldn’t get away, so I sent her out with my camera.  54 pictures later, these are some of the highlights…         Some of the pictures, like the shasta daisy, just about took my breath away:  I have never gotten pictures that good out of my camera.  Elisheva says it’s because everything is at eye level for Naomi. Here is her own special picnic-table “weed garden.”  It includes (big square pot) dandelions she planted from seed, (round pot) a “weed maple” I pulled up and handed to her, which is now thriving, and (small square pot) a sprig of golden creeping Jenny that she saved when it was entwined with some ribbon grass I was pulling out.  They are each so precious to her… she’s always running outside and checking on them.

What shall we eat??? aka Menu Plan Monday

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  Other “weekly challenges” I have not been doing very regularly with since Pesach, which is pretty pathetic, I admit: Six Word Saturday Homeschool Diary Yay, it’s still Monday!!!  And it looks like this week is supposed to be my favourite kind of summer weather – cool as a cucumber. Sunday (last night):  BBQ hb’s & hd’s @ Mommy Monday (tonight):  Perogies from freezer, peas Tuesday (Riverdale Farm, baseball game):  Pretzel dogs – Naomi’s request, Mango-Poppy salad dressing - Elisheva’s request.  With salad, of course. Wednesday (big kids camping w/aunts):  Some kind of breaded fried fish (Ted request)- with WHAT on the side??? Thursday (Vegan Vursday!):    Farmers’ Market fare on focaccia (fof?) and/or pletzl w/pea soup aka “Pease Porridge” to go with this week’s Literature Pocket Nursery Rhyme . Shabbos Dinner : @ Mommy’s – to bake challah, cake. Shabbos Lunch :  Out!!! Sunday :  big kids o

Toronto-Area Readers: Awesome Canada’s Wonderland Deal!

Ends TOMORROW, June 28th!  Tickets are “only” $37.28 each – $32.99 plus tax, which is 41% off – for PayPal users.  We haven’t been in years, but I had to jump on this one. Click here to buy – remember to enter the promo code “PayPal” before you make your purchase. My father used to take the kids to amusement parks, so I didn’t have to… but if I don’t do it, I guess nobody will.

Dvar Torah: Parshas Chukas

Once again, I have to speak at my mother’s shalosh seudos next Shabbos, so for once, I started preparing EARLY – like yesterday, on Shabbos.  I don’t write divrei Torah often and without a formal yeshiva or “seminary” education, even a baal teshuvah yeshiva/sem, fortunately don’t get tagged all that often. But my mother seems to like having me speak, perhaps because it beats making her prepare all the food AND a dvar Torah.  So she picked me and I like to at least try to do a good job.  I think my divrei Torah tend to be on the weird and long side.  And generally, I don’t deliver them well – I just read them, rather than making rough notes and just SAYING them.  Well, we can’t all be gifted orators… Previous summer divrei Torah: Parshas Re’eh Parshas Chukas (two years ago) Shavuos last year And here’s where my wanderings led me this time around.  I have a few days, so feel free to fact-check, proof-read, and tear this thing to pieces if you’d like! There’s a joke about a Je

Postal No More!

The strike is OVER !!! Starting on Monday, Canada post will be beginning the process of sorting the hundreds of bazillion packages just like mine that have arrived from other countries in the past couple of weeks since the strike began. Canada Post says, “We will move as quickly as possible to process and deliver the mail,” but “it will take some time to stabilize our operations.”  Some time had better be 24 hours or less.  An hour is “some time,” right???

Rainy Day fun


Shabbos Food

Well, not really… I’m focusing on childrearing and housecleaning today, so hopefully Ted will do something foodish when  he gets home. Supper Blender Challah , Take 2 Soup w/kneidlach Two whole stuffed chickens w/tinned pottos and carrots all around – stuffed with sage and lemon thyme; if time (not thyme) is short, or low-carb version desired, use herbs and a whole lemon inside instead. Corn Green beans w/sesame Desserts Lunch (maybe with Sara) Ted’s pecan salmon that we’re all a little bit sick of but still love unless the salmon is off like last time and I can’t eat a bite of it… Blintzes Potto salad Maybe some more stuff… Desserts Elisheva-made dairy scones for Shabbos lunch.  She calls them sKONE-z but I call them sKON-z, the British way. Chocolate corn flake bars dessert from kids’ cookbook I picked up at VV last week on an impulse because  everything is bars and they all look delicious. Boiling-water-poured-over Blu

Official MamaLand Guide to… Windows computer being Bad or Slow

Reflections from a week of fixing my mother’s aging computer.  Just because your computer is going on 6 – ancient in computer years – doesn’t mean you can’t still have wonderful computing experiences with it.  Follow these tips and see if you can’t get it back up and running almost as well as it used to. WARNING:  Before you try any fixes or even scans, create a System Restore Point so that if you mess everything up, you can get back to where you started.  (Open Windows Help and type in “System Restore Wizard.”  In the wizard, click Create a Restore Point and follow the prompts) System Restore won’t protect your data – your photos, word processing files, PDFs, music, etc.  So if you want to be super-safe, back that up, too.  But in an emergency, I’ve found that it’s almost always possible to scoop it off a hard drive that hasn’t gone into total physical failure. So!  First of all, what’s slowing your computer down?  Go through the following areas, in the order shown.  Try not to

Interview with MOI in Where What When?

A few weeks ago a writer interviewed me via email for Where What When , Baltimore’s Torah magazine,  about my travelling such a crazy-long distance for the Torah Homeschool Conference.  Here is an excerpt from the article about the conference, which may appear online someday.  For the record, I ALWAYS use “homeschooling” as one word and the author has taken the liberty of splitting it up into 2 words every single time (argh): Worth the Trip “…Jennifer MamaLand traveled to the conference for 26 hours on a bus, all the way from Toronto; her husband stayed behind to watch their children. “I’m resigned to the fact that there is nothing going on in terms of Jewish home schooling in Canada,” she said. “I learned a lot, and getting to meet other Jewish home schoolers was a wonderful bonus. We have four children. The two younger ones, ages six and three, are home schooled full time. My older son, who is 16, attends yeshiva in the morning and does his high school online in the afternoon.

Story of the World – and a kid who hates to colour

Many of the student pages in the Story of the World Activity Book are actually just colouring pages, and I was dreading getting through a year of colouring with her. But I do think the pictures are well-done and helpful, so I want her to look at them… and that’s when I realized:  I couldn’t care less if the pictures end up having colour.  And that she really, REALLY loves to draw and/or doodle. Which is how I came up with the brilliant idea (though probably hundreds of parents have come up with it before me) of having her DOODLE on the history pages instead of colour them in.  Constructive doodles, doodles that relate to the story and the time period and the setting. Here, she has drawn Tarak, the fictitious nomad child from Chapter 1, and her obnoxious brother, getting ready to go for a swim in the river Euphrates.  I showed her the rivers (she coloured the mapwork on the reverse side) and made her pick one as the setting for her picture.  I wrote the caption. (Naomi’s useful

Wanty, wanty…

I really want this colouring book to go with our geography studies!  Naomi really doesn’t like colouring very much, but this book has enough interesting facts to draw her in, I think.  Plus, it’s cheap. Any thoughts about how I could get this in a way that doesn’t involve Canada Post ?  And preferably doesn’t involve phoning every store in town, because these Dover books are smallish and hard to find… Chapters / indigo’s site says they don’t have it at any of their GTA stores…

Cranky Complaints-Lady in an Election Year!

Sent this evening... variations to all MPPs and provincial leaders. The one below is the governing-party version, which includes the paragraphs about implementing all-day kindergarten. Feel free to copy, paste, and pass along to any provincial leaders in your riding. ----- Original Message ----- Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 1:20 AM Subject: Education Funding for Parents Mr. McGuinty and/or Dr. Hoskins (okay, I called him Mr. in the original - whoops!): As we approach the coming provincial election, I'm wondering if your party has considered offering some type of financial relief to parents educating their children outside the public school system. Your party seems rather proud of its track record in introducing all-day kindergarten in Ontario, but as a parent of four, I feel the program is a disaster that will ultimately produce little by way of educational results, while "relieving" parents of their

Parsha Poem: Korach / קֹרַח

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 16:1-18:32: Read it ;  hear it ;  colour it . Printable PDF version here . No parsha narrative overview this week. Copywork and parsha activities available at this page – updated weekly. “Boy,” said Jimmy, to his friend Timmy, “This class is terribly slow – This history’s a complete mystery; I wish the teacher’d just GO!”   With what came next, Jimmy was perplexed, For the teacher departed right then – “You kids behave; I’ll be back in a wave, I just have to fetch a new pen.”   “Hey, what good fun,” called out everyone, “Who needs a teacher at all?” They sat acting nice per their teacher’s advice, Till one of them pulled out a ball.   “Hey,” cried Timmy, to his friend Jimmy, “Who says that that teacher’s the boss? “I’ll take the lead; give this class some speed, Now Jimmy, you stand across.”   So he threw the ball to Jim by the wall, But whizzing, it sailed clear past As with a crash the window did smash And the ball hit the flagpole mas