Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lessons in Laundry

This is how we prepare our outfits for all four boys every week. The kids pick and make their own outfits.  Then we put them in bins and they pick them out and get themselves dressed thoughout the week.  No mess, no stress! We do this once or twice a week.

Products to Grow Your Own Kinder Garden

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Young seedlings are so fragile and temperamental. You do your best to give them the best start you can. The right type of soil, not too acidic or basic - though every species has different needs.  Enough water, but not too much. Some sun, but not too much sun. They have to be hardened, but gently. You don't want them to go into shock. And then we have to decide when it's time to repot or if it's still to early. Too early and their little roots can't take the move, but you don't want to stunt growth by limiting the root's movement either.

As a family we have been contemplating a move, a repotting. As our family grows and the boys have different needs, we've been trying to decide to if a move to Austin would be right for us - more family, more educational opportunities, more cultural opportunities and a more cohesive Jewish community that includes a Modern Orthodox synagogue that seems just right for us. It seems like a no brainer...but our young family is just not ready to be repotted. A series of obstacles (mostly revolving around Dad's work situation) have shown us that it's just not time to move back to the friendly state.

Kentucky is fertile soil for our little seedlings. It's comfortable and safe. It's economical and we've made good friends who are supportive and kind. Our little house still has room for our roots and we're not too cramped yet. We still think a move back to Austin is in our future. If we want our seedlings to grow, they'll need to be repotted, but it's not that time yet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Time to Prune

As winter sets in, it's time to inspect our bushes and trees for potential pruning opportunities. Pruning revitalizes the plants - allowing it's future leaves to make more energy, allowing more flowers and therefore more fruit, but you don't prune a little tree, do you? No, in it's first years you allow the little ones to take root first. You let them be creative with their branches and you don't over correct.  Our three year old is not unlike a young tree. We have never cut his hair. We have done our utmost to protect him from the difficulties of growing up. We relent to more snuggles, more time to play, as much food as he wants. And now it's time to prune. When we clip his hair for the first time, we aren't harming him, but we will begin the lifelong process of helping him to improve himself. We'll have higher expectations of him. He'll begin to understand the importance of becoming a responsible and productive person.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I Support the War on Christmas

We visited our local PUBLIC elementary two days ago to discuss some academic testing for our oldest son. I know this is going to sound dramatic, but this is how I felt - the Christmasy feeling in the school was  offensive. I was shocked by the 20 foot Christmas tree in the lobby, the tinsel and ribbons decking the halls and the four or five smaller trees adorned with ornaments on the counter in the front office. Are my tax dollars paying for this nonsense? Is this the norm here in Kentucky?

Apparently it's all perfectly legal. According to the ADL, Christmas trees are considered ' Seasonal decorations' and are not necessarily a Christian thing. I could maybe get behind this if it was just an Evergreen type tree without the ridiculous decorations or if the tree were a more modest size and joined with a menorah and other religion's current holidays, but there was not a Dreidel to be seen. And we looked.

I'm not saying you can't have Christmas tree in your private place of business, worship or home. By all means, say "Merry Christmas" to whomever you like. But my Jewish children to not need to be blasted by your religious celebration at public school where I pay my taxes.

Yet another reason why I will do my best to continue to homeschool my guys for a while longer. 

Chanukah Craft Day!

The dreidle snow globes had the most wow factor.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Another Year, Another Carrot Harvest

Okay, here's a family garden hack for ya. Keep to the carrots. They're the absolute best seed and forget for your garden and the best part is that you can plant them anytime between Mid-March and Mid-September and still probably get a decent harvest. Plus, those teeny tiny seeds come in a packet of 100 to 200.

Reseeding For the Future

Seeds into seedlings. I love that these cherry tomatoes have reseeded themselves. They were the only thing, aside from a little vine-choked out peach tree that was already growing and edible on the little property we bought. I've planted raspberries and blueberries, apple and plum trees, but these cherry tomatoes have a mystery about them. How long have these tomatoes been reseeded themselves? How many times will we reseed our family?

Honest to Goodness Tenacity

I don't want my fear to rule me. I'm nothing if not stubborn. The best way to motivate me is to tell me I can't do something. And then bam. My anger takes over my fear. So this blog isn't about making money for me. It's not about notoriety. It has two purposes: making something unique to share with the world and proving to myself that I can do it. That I can be consistent and make something I can be proud of. I've been doing a little research about how to make a blog successful or lucrative. But I'm not interested in pandering. I know that's sort of what marketing is, but that's not me. I hate lying. I hate half lying. I hate insinuating something and not meaning it or following through. It's just not me. Because aside from stubborn, angry attitude, there's one other characteristic that defines me: honesty. 

Drops mic. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Save Your Homeschool with Routine

I hate when people tell me what to do. I don't even like to follow recipes because that's how rebellious of a soul I have! So even when I make my own routine, I like to break it! Just to stick to myself!! I know. I'm weird.
My kids and my husband do not fare well like this. They need the routine and I need them to feel comfortable and accomplished. Therefore, we routinely routine. It has made my 6 year old go from struggling to get anything done in the 3 hours of homeschooling to getting it all done in less than an hour. I'm actually writing this at 10 in the morning because we're done with his checklist of required learning activities for the morning!

Here's how I recommend beginning a routine in your homeschool. Then I'll show you what a typical day looks like for us.

5 Steps to Win at Homeschool

  1. Start with a kiss and end with a hug. And there's a bunch of stuff in the middle too. Setting up a routine will absolutely help your kids adjust to a homeschool environment, but the first step to a routine is setting up just a few basic guidelines and sticking to them for several days. Add more as you get good at the first few. See more on how and why I set up my homeschool routine here. 
  2. Learn to love your Sneaky Snackers. I'm all about independent kids and for me that begins with feeding themselves. I have two drawers filled with individually wrapped snacks and the disposable napkins, bowls, plates and utensils are all on the bottom shelves so the kids help themselves. Yes, they sometimes make a mess, but it's easier to clean up all at one time than to prepare every individual a snack and then clean up after them! Let them snack at will.
  3. Let it go, let it go. Yes, every homeschooling tip site will tell you the same thing on this one, that you shouldn't stress about the mess! But that's easier said than done. If you're a homeschooling parent, chances are you're doing more than one full-time job. (More on that here.)  Make a list of all of the jobs you usually take care of in your home and prioritize them in the order of which are the most important for YOU to do. In other words, if you love vacuuming. If that is totally your thing. Don't give it up. But if you loathe your laundry - outsource it. If your first reaction is that you can't afford to outsource, than seriously reconsider that thought. What are those last-on-your-list chores costing you in stress, inconvenience and time with your most important job - educating your children? 
  4. Let your children in on your plans. In my experience, children are more more willing to work with you if they know EXACTLY how the day will play out and what their expectations from you will be. Laying it out will help you both stay focused.
  5. Don't get distracted. YOU! Yes, you! Okay, I mean me.  If your 6 year old is busy with a project, your 4 year old is building, your 2 year old is coloring and your 6 month old is sleeping this is NOT the time to begin a new load of laundry. Stay focused on the kids. Remember how we're not doing every single job in your home? If you get distracted the moment your child hits a bump or completes their task and you're not here, they'll be off getting distracted themselves. Show them you care and stay tuned in. If you're doing this right, your homeschool is only going to last a couple more hours anyway and you'll have all afternoon or evening to do chores.