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Showing posts from March, 2012

So I wonder

If we are basically a happy family, going through a rough patch… or basically a miserable family, with occasional moments of sunshine. Am I the only one in the world who isn’t quite sure…?

Big מצוה Note! (girl)

In the interest of equal time, this is the mitzvah note I wrote for EC going back to school after the Pesach break at the same time as I wrote the one for YM that I just posted .  As you can see by comparing the two, I was a big fan of copy and paste, even waaay back then!  I love this first picture because there’s Ted, way back when.  We’ve only been married 8 years; sometimes I forget that he was around for a long time before that, until I look at pictures like this and remember that he was, um, “in the picture” long before that.  All I can say is, marry a guy who adores your kids because otherwise, he will murder them when they hit, oooh, 15, 16, 17, 18??? Elisheva Chaya was so busy over the פסח break… Before פסח, she: · scrubbed around the house · tidied her room · read “גילה שואלת מה נשתנה” · helped finish “חמץ-dik” food – like macaroni! During פסח, she: · said “מה נשתנה” and sang beautifully!!! · answered all the פסח questions sent home – and quizzed everyone e

Big מצוה Note! (boy)

Dug this out of the RonyPony Archives, though technically, they are not the RonyPony Archives, because the RonyPony Baby is only 7 and this note is from 10 years ago, April 2002.  And honestly, he looks so babyish in these pictures that it could have been from earlier than that.  He doesn’t look 7.  Here’s the corresponding (read: cut n’ pasted) mitzvah note for EC. Yerachmiel Meir was so busy over the פסח break…   Before פסח, he: · helped clean around the house · tidied his toys · read and practiced the הגדה · helped finish our “חמץ-dik” food – like chocolate! During פסח, he: · said “מה נשתנה” and sang all songs plus הלל loudly and beautifully!!! · contributed דברי תורה and fascinating insights · listened nicely without interrupting · found the Afikoman both nights! · visited Riverdale Farm to see baby chicks, lambs, and goats · brushed up on his mini-golf skills · went to בית כנסת for ברכת כהנים After פסח, he: · learned פרשת שמיני and discussed i

Short Parsha Riddles: צַו / Tzav

וַיִּקְרָא / Vayikra / Leviticus 6:1-8:36 Click for printable PDF version . And don’t forget to read last year’s poem and parsha overview .  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! [1] To take out the trash can be such a big bore, Yet the kohanim would fight for this chore; Up the steep ramp, the kohen – quick! – dashes, To sweep with his broom and scoop up the __________. [2] Two kinds of animals we must never eat, Not for a snack or an after-meal treat; Though they were kosher the day they were born, If they’re __________ or __________, their flesh you must scorn! [3] I’d like to duck and run away when the oil comes near, “Must you pour it?” I beg him, my brother daft and dear. “Yes, I must,” he tells me now, and asks me to stand still, And though it’s oozing down my neck, he said it, so I will.  Who are we? [4] It’s not enough to feel a feeling, when you’re in the mood, It’s not enough to say you’re sorry, if you have been rude;

I dream of (Pesach) cheese

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately.  Busy, busy… and writing, writing for actual money.  I have always had a theory that I only had so many words inside me each day, and if I’m writing in one way, I just don’t have any more writing left in me for the blog… or anything else. This cheese picture is actually a little bit of an inside joke, because every time there is some mention of cheese in a book, like our Hebrew book, or any kind of kids’ story, they show SWISS cheese, which Naomi Rivka hates.  Just considers the whole “holey cheese” thing an abomination.  So I like to show her the pictures on purpose now, just to bug her.  It’s nice to have a child you can deliberately annoy and they won’t shout (much), destroy your house or traumatize your other children.  Nope, don’t go ticking off teenagers, that’s all I’ll say about that. So – Pesach cheese. I am desperately trying, TRYING, to cut back on Pesach expenses, which everybody says every year.  But this year, I mean it, and so

New FREE Printable Pesach Story PDF Book!

I’m SO excited about this one!  As I did two years ago, I’ve written a short storybook to share with my kids, and they like it so much, I thought I’d pass it along. The book is totally free, with large enough text to be printable in “booklet” mode from Adobe reader.  The only catch is that, as I did with the Mah Nishtana book , I’m only making this available by email, simply because sometimes, I like to hear from you, and I get to say hi back… it’s just more personal that way.  Just drop me a  note at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com (or click here and remove the 4 X’s), and I will pop this off to you for your personal enjoyment. *** BUT:  The only thing I ask is that if you are planning to use it with a shul, school, or other organization or group, you make a PayPal donation to support our little Canadian homeschool.  Any amount is fine, but try to be fair.  You’re welcome to read it first to if you decide to use it.  For the record, nobody ever HAS made a donation and I know for a fa

DO NOT CLOSE the School House shelter!

Read my letter to Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, then sign the petition !  By the way, I’m NOT a big believer in online petitions, but in some small, local situations, I think they may be very helpful at increasing gauging awareness… at the very least. Dear Ms Wong-Tam: I'm emailing today because I can't be there in person to protest the proposed closure of the School House shelter .  This is the WRONG DIRECTION for our city, one that will cause more harm than the minor economic savings could possibly justify.  Though I myself live in Mr. Mihevc's riding (whom I have cc'd), my brother, who has schizophrenia and other mental health issues, has been a resident at the School House for the past year and a half.  With virtually no control over his own life and impulses, he is not violent or a threat to anyone other than himself, but he does drink and behave erratically.  He is virtually unhouseable elsewhere.  That doesn't mean he deserves to die of expo

Short Parsha Riddles: Vayikra / וַיִּקְרָא

וַיִּקְרָא / Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1-5:26 Click for printable PDF version . And don’t forget to read last year’s poem and parsha overview .  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! [1] We’ll start off quite simple, a question so easy, Begin this new book with an answer so breezy, Vayikra, it says, “he called to him” – so… Who called to whom?  Shout it out, so we’ll know! [2] Three kinds of beasts that Hashem says are nice, For bringing to Him for your sacrifice; A cow or a sheep might each take your vote, But remember, you also can bring Him a __________. [3] Hashem asks for our gifts to be given each day, Five kinds of korban (these days, we just pray); Some if we’re happy and some if at fault, But whatever you offer, please bring it with __________! [4] “If a person sins,” the Torah says: if someone goes astray, If a kohen sins, or makes a mistake, it’s simply not okay; If a leader sins, we learn this week, he must return to Hashem

Pre-Pesach Matzah Baking & Chometz Museum

Quick idea that came to me yesterday as I was getting ready for our annual pre-Pesach homeschool matzah bakefest:  set up a “grain museum” so kids can actually SEE the grains that become chometz (leavened).  This is a fun, tactile way to “meet” the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye) – especially if you actually HAVE all five grains on hand.  With no preparation, I only had four out of five in the house – I used the last of the spelt flour in a loaf of bread yesterday.  I put out a couple of different forms of each grain, if possible:  I had whole wheat berries plus wheat flour (semolina), whole barley, steel-cut oats along with rolled oats and Cheerios, plus rye flour, so they could see that it’s a different colour.   Meeting the grains hopefully makes concrete the ultimate dichotomy, the chok (incomprehensible Divine law) of Pesach: these grains are at once the only five that can become chometz AND the only five which can be used to make matzah, which, of course, we

Pesach Homeschool Video/Animation Project (with free script!)

We were supposed to go to another workshop at the NFB this morning, but I promised I’d do some work for somebody, so I had to tell the kids we weren’t going to the workshop.  They weren’t all THAT crushed – we’ve done a couple already this year. But I felt so guilty that I told them at lunch that we could make our own animation instead. I decided it should be about Pesach in some way, since we haven’t done much so far, and came up with a basic plot, based on the life of Moshe, with a list of “sets” and characters, in about two minutes. The photography part is easy with our webcam, though unfortunately, the low webcam quality really shows in the final video.  Here’s our sophisticated video setup:   Naomi eagerly designed and drew three “sets” – a palace interior, Moshe’s family’s home, and a scene by the Nile River. Here’s our willing cast of (mismatched, sigh) mentschies! This was a particularly ambitious project because in our previous homemade animations ( here and here )

The Library is on STRIKE?!?!!

Luckily, their online offerings are still available, so I’m taking this opportunity to recharge the Kobo and download five exciting books free – well, I don’t know if they’re all exciting, but one is sure to be a winner.  Here’s what’s going on the Kobo tonight: Two books by my high school classmate, Cory Doctorow, one fiction, one non-fiction: Context and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow   Plus three food books: Love in a Dish ...and Other Culinary Delights A collection of classic food writing from MFK Fisher, the classic food writer herself, a foodie before there ever was such a thing, from the 1930s to the 1990s.  I have trouble reading “old writing”… the formal tone, the belaboured descriptions.  It all just FEELS dusty.  But I’m definitely going to give this a real try, because everybody who is anybody in food writing references her as an influence somewhere along the line.   Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer By Tim Stark; I seem to remember rea

Homeschool Picture Day: Behind the Scenes

It’s always fun having pieces about homeschooling published in the paper.  They always seem to want a picture of me with my kid(s), actually DOING our little homeschooly thing.  Ha ha ha.  Like that’s really what we do.  So, of course, we have to stage it. Here are a number of attempts to make it look like we’re actually sitting down to learn something together:     This is the picture we ultimately ended up with: I think it’s pretty good… even though I’m pointing at our Chumash workbook while Naomi Rivka studiously “takes notes” (with a pen!) in her Latin book.  We’re both just on the verge of laughter – can you tell???

(Jamaican) Patty Time!

I don’t know if it’s the same where you are, but if you pass through any subway station in Toronto that offers more than just the basic convenience store, chances are there’s a coffee shop that offers lousy coffee and lukewarm “Jamaican patties.”  I put the phrase in quotation marks because I understand they are not truly Jamaican in origin… and also, thinking about it more this evening, I couldn’t help noticing they’re not a “patty” at all.  So they are probably a variation of a British-type “pasty” (a daff-sounding British word for “pastry”) with a slightly colonial flair. Curiously, in case you’re still reading despite my droning on, I have always used the word “pattie” as the singular – a convention with which this Philipine pattie shop agrees wholeheartedly:   Anyway. Whatever they’re called and wherever they come from, my absolute favourite meal, my default “caf food” in high school, every day or however-often I could afford it, was a single Jamaican patty, chocolate milk a