23 December 2009


Go to get a gerbil and end up with a dog. We are the only people that could mess that one up lol. We did come home with a Mr. Cutie though. He is a Yorkie Silky mix. I've read that it is called a Silkshire Terrier. Our other three (Peekapoo, Aussi Shep/Chow mix & Poodle) seem to like him and he loves them.


22 December 2009


Well, Chanukah is over but I thought I'd share some of my decorations and ideas. If for no other reason, than to have a record for myself so we can do it all again next year.

First, let me start by explaining a little bit about our family. I am Jewish from day one. I went to a Jewish pre-school and went to Hebrew and Sunday school up until my Bat Mitzvah. In our home, however, daily life was pretty secular. We celebrated Chanukah and went to other people's homes for other holidays. We spent Passover at a cousin's and Sukkot at the Temple. We never stopped eating bread at home, however, and never built our own Sukkah. I knew about Shabbat but never celebrated and I knew, a little, about keeping kosher but it wasn't important in our home. As I grew up I realized how deprived I was.

My husband (I call him MooGoo) was raised Lutheran. He was dragged to church every Sunday by his parents and told he must belive or go to hell. He remembers asking questions only to be shut up by the Sunday school teacher who told him he shouldn't ask questions but just have faith. This didn't work very well for him and he grew up with a hatred of church and proclaimed himself an atheist. Still, he was tolerant of me wanting more Judaism in my life and we celebrated Shabbat (Friday night only at first) and little by little other holidays too.

My kids are both adopted and came to us when they were 8 and 5 years of age. Before they came to us they had gone to a Southern Baptist church. They were our foster children only, so we felt as if we had to take them to church. MooGoo tried every church in town but in the end the girls and he decided it just wasn't for them. We had also stopped celebrating Shabbat. The girls had a hard enough time adjusting without these strange rituals.

Before the girls we went back and forth between celebrating Chanukah and Christmas. We lit the candles on Chanukah (sometimes) and gave eachother gifts for Christmas. At the time, I was a secular Jew. We compromised on a white tree with blue and silver balls. Truth be told, I was looking for a pink tree at the time, but couldn't find one.

The first year the kids were with us we celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah. We lit the candles and gave small gifts for Chanukah and the bigger presents were saved for Christmas. That first year looked like a toy factory in our living room. The girls didn't have a lot of toys and I guess we tried to make up for all the years Santa forgot them. The second year I started getting more religious. We had decided to start celebrating Shabbat and some of the other holidays. I tried not to push anything on the rest of the family but they all seemed to enjoy it. Chanukah the second year was a little more even with Christmas in terms of gifts. They still had presents from their birth family who expected them to celebrate Christmas. They were also in the public school with no other Jewish children and already different because they had two families. I didn't want to make them feel any more out of place.

Fast forward to this year. This year we all decided to give presents on Chanukah and Christmas we would still have the socks hung by the fireplace. For some reason I've yet to figure out, my mother is giving gifts on Christmas now. The only thing I can think of is because my grandfather died on the first night of Chanukah. My brother married a Catholic girl so they celebrate Christmas. We usually all go over to their house for Christmas dinner. This year they are away and Christmas falls on Shabbat. We've decided that I'll make a big Shabbat meal and my parents can come over and give gifts. We will only be doing the socks. The kids are happy with this and happy to celebrate Jewish holidays. I wish the presents didn't have to be a part of it, because rightfully, they shouldn't be; but I feel bad taking things away from the girls. We are all, MooGoo included, now very happy being a Jewish family. Yes, we are still holding on to some things, like the tree and the socks, but I have a feeling they will fade out over time. MooGoo still puts out a few Christmas items from his childhood but he is more Jewish than anything else, and yes, he belives in Gd now just not the New Testament accounting.

Anyway, we love crafting and decorating the house with our crafts. This year we made some pictures which I talked about in a previous post. We also used some of our sukkah decorations to hang around the house and made a simple dreidel decoration. My favorite is the envelope ribbon. I took 8 small envelopes and decorated them each with one letter from the word Chanukah and threaded them on a long ribbon. Inside each envelope I put a note card with an activity on it. Some examples are "Movie and Popcorn" and "Family Game Night". Each night we picked a card and did the activity. MooGoo wants to spoil the girls on holidays and birthdays but I did have another idea for these cards. Rather than give gifts you can come up with a list, as a family, of small gifts or activities that you could do each night. For example; one night you can give eachother home-made gifts, the second night can be family game night, the third can be a scavenger hunt for the kids (maybe the prize at the end could be a large dreidel pinata filled with candy). I'm sure you get my point. You can do a mixture of gifts and activities that everyone will enjoy. As long as you do them together as a family, that is the important part.

The only thing I would suggest doing in the future is either tying bows or knots between the envelopes to keep them from sliding together. Otherwise, I think it was very pretty and I plan to use it again next year.

To the right is the tree. You can't really tell in this photo but it is white with blue and silver balls and a royal blue cloth wrapped around the base.

The stars are from our sukkah. They are cut out and decorated with glitter pen. We glued a clothes pin to the back of each. This helped us with decorating the sukkah. We strung a ribbon through each clothes pin to hang it from the posts between our family room and living room.

The other side on the posts are just simple driedle shapes cut out and decorated with glitter pen. We then strung them on ribbon and hung them up. Cute and simple.

Most of our other holiday decorations are store bought so I won't waste the space here. All in all we are quite decorated and had a lot of fun with it.

One last thing; when Christmas is over don't forget to go get some strings of lights on sale for your sukkah. They are a great way to decorate and add some light outside and they sometimes go on sale for more than half off after Christmas. Don't be afraid to use garland and other Christmas decorations in your sukkah as well. I used gold garland this year and it was very pretty. I plan to pick up more in other colors for this year (Hebrew year). Also, look out for Thanksgiving decorations that are on sale and other fall items as they are perfect for Sukkot.

I love that Sukkot is after the summer too. I always look out for sales on summer items like lanterns and outdoor deocorations and furniture. They also sell fun outside dishes and table wear that is perfect for Sukkot.

21 December 2009


We took the girls to the Build-A-Bear Workshop yesterday. It was fun making our bears. I was a little dissapointed that they didn't have any Chanukah shirts left, but the kids and I made our bears anyway.

Yetta is mine; she is in the first photo above. Ella the one on roller skates. Butterfly loves to skate so chose to get skates and a purse for Ella rather than a second outfit. Caramel is Turtle's puppy; she is in her "loungewear" LOL

We had a good time at the mall yesterday. It was crowded, which I usually hate, but the people were nice and respectful of eachother, which is all I ever ask. We went to a different mall than we usually do and I think we will be shopping there from now on.

Butterfly got holiday money from her grandfather so we went to Toys R Us as her request. She spent every dime of it on Barbie stuff...I tried to talk her out of it but she insisted LOL...we let them make their own choices with their money and she loves Barbie. Turtle got some Nintendo DS games and play dough. I got books (not from Toys R Us). The only one who came home empty handed was Dad. Oh well, better luck next time I guess :(

19 December 2009

What's for dinner

I've started making my shopping list and thought I'd share my trick for making menu planning easy. Getting started is a little work at first but once you get going it makes things much easier.

I used a calendar program to make a year long calendar with each month on its own page. With the program I have all I do is type in the date range and it does the rest for me. You can find calander pages from various websites for free or you can purchase a calander and do the rest with a pencil. I find it easier to use the computer because I get most of my recipes online.

When I find a good looking recipe I put the name of it and the location of where to find it again on a date of the calendar. If it's a summer recipe I place it in a summer month. If it's a fall recipe I place it in a fall month. When I get closer to the day I can always change it if I need to in order to take advantage of sales or coupons.

People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that I have all my dinners planned for the next couple of months; but it is easier to fill in my shopping list at the begining of the week and I don't spend hours looking through recipes.

Here is one of my favorite recipe websites. http://www.recipezaar.com/

Butterflies can dance

Today was the dance recital. The teacher is a 15 year old girl from our homeschool group. She has been taking dance since she was 4 and it shows. Butterfly has learned more in this little dance class in less than half a year than she learned in 2 years at the 'professional' dance studio and she is having more fun too. The recital was very nice. The little girls were so cute in their red and white skirts. They had a lot of fun and Butterfly is really getting to be a good little dancer. I was also so proud of how she remembered all the steps. Last year (in the other school) she depended more on watching the teacher or the other girls.

After the recital we went to pizza dinner with my parents and brother and sister-in-law and their baby. We exchanged gifts for the kids and had a nice time.

Tomorrow we go to Build a Bear Workshop. We are all looking forward to it; even me, as I intend to get a bear too.

Winter break = just as much work

We are currently on our winter break.We follow a year round schedule so we have a big break in the middle of our year. We start our year in July; this year it was July 20th. We do 90 days and then stop for a 30 day break. This year we stopped the week before Thanksgiving. We will start the second semester January 4th and end our 90 days some time in May. Our summers are shorter than the average American child gets; approximately 50 days; but we don’t mind. It gets very hot here in the summer months and there isn’t a lot to do. There are no day camps in the area and sleep away camp (as much as Turtle would like to go) is out of our price range right now. We don’t work a whole day anyway and the rest of their time is their own. We spend much of the summer in the pool, but there are days when it’s even too hot for that.

Speaking of the pool, it is never too early to shop for a swim suit. If you like a modest suit, like I do, then you might enjoy the suits from Princess Modest Swimwear. I love my suit and I don’t feel self conscious wearing it. I did shorten the sleeves since I don’t mind wearing short sleeves but otherwise I love it. Shipping was also surprisingly quick and easy from Israel.

I love this long break. It gives me a chance to catch up with myself, work on my curriculum and get all my ducks in a row for the second half of the year. If it goes half as fast as the first half, we are all in trouble. The hardest part is fitting in everything I want to cover in one year.

We've done some Chanukah crafts/decorations during the first part of our break. A project the kids loved was to color a picture with crayon and pencil. Then we watered down a little white glue and painted it over the picture. Before it dries sprinkle salt over the picture. Don't sprinkle too much or when it dries you wont be able to see the picture through the salt. When it dries the picture will look frosted. Place it in a frame (under glass) to keep it safe and enhance the look.

I’ve been working very hard on a full curriculum; k-12. Even though my kids don’t need the k-2 anymore I thought it would be handy to have just in case a little blessing arrives or someone else needs it. I'll be posting it little by little as I can...

but now my husband is forcing me to go to bed LOL. I should get some sleep. Butterfly has a dance recital tomorrow and then we will be going to dinner with my parents and brother and his family. We will also be exchanging gifts with my brother and sister in law (for the kids only). Fun for all!

18 December 2009

We still think adoption is a wonderful way to create a family

We've been living this nightmare for a year. Last year (2008), Christmas day, we were having dinner with my family and my mother told us Kevin Cohen told my aunt about a woman who was pregnant and looking for a loving home for her baby. Cohen befriended my aunt a year earlier and followed our adoption ups and downs through her stories and pictures. He was well known in the field of adoption so we trusted him. To make a long story short, we were promised, first, a baby in AZ. We drove all the way there and were told the birth family changed their minds. Then, we were promised a baby in PA. Before the due date Kevin Cohen was arrested; there were never any babies.

This has been so hard on us all. We all fell in love with the idea of a new little one. We still think adoption is a wonderful way to create a family. We may try again, as soon as we get over the financial blow. Meanwhile, we walk past the baby's room every day and I can't help but to feel a real loss.

Unfortunatly the lesson to be learned here is that you have to be very careful who you trust. It is a shame. I so want to teach my children that the world is a wonderful place full of love and beauty...

What is a heymish education?

I love Yiddish! There are words spoken in Yiddish that just don't convey the same thing when you translate to English. Take the word Grandmother. We all know who a Grandmother is and we all love her. We know what it means to be Grandmotherly and we know Grandma makes the best cookies in the world. But Bubby, Bubby is different. Bubby is the Yiddish word for Grandmother. Bubby is a super hero. She can do anything. She is warm and cozy and tough as nails. She can cook anything and sew and knit anything. She had been through hard times that you don't even want to imagine but she can always find the silver lining. Her family is the most important thing in her life and you can feel it emanating from within her. Some day I hope to be deserving of the title Bubbie.

Heymish is a Yiddish word that means home-made, homey, down-to-earth, unpretentious, warm and cozy, intimate and informal. Like Bubbie, the true definition can not be expressed using English words. Heymish can describe a person, a food, a place, or things and ideas. In this case it describes our homeschooling life-style. I say life-style because homeschooling, for us, is a way of life. We look at every moment as a learning moment. What makes it heymish? Well, I think our home is heymish. Our home is full of life and color but as soon as you settle in, it is hard to leave. It is relaxing and warm and I never get too uptight about kids and animals. It seems, the more chaos (good chaos, happy chaos...imagine children running full speed through the living room with the three dogs behind them barking, laughing and screaming)  the happier and more relaxed I am. Our style of homeschooling is also somewhat heymish. We do a lot of crafts and read a lot of books together. I made our curriculum myself to be sure my kids get a well rounded education. I create my own lesson plans and have also made my own books (penmanship and history).

I hope to share my resources and curriculum with others. I'll try to post projects and activities as well as ideas for organization (which I've been told is my strong point) and even recipes and menu.

I hope all who read this, find it enjoyable and even helpful.