29 January 2010

Sorry I havn't posted in a while...

Somehow, time is getting away from me again which is why I’ve neglected to update. Between home and school my days are full; I’ll give you a run down on what’s been going on.

We’ve decided to turn the nursery into a homeschool/play room this weekend. We had the homeschool room in the bonus room the first year but when we thought we were going to get a baby we moved Turtle up to the bonus room, the school room into our, very small, sunroom and started calling her old room the nursery or baby’s room. The sunroom isn’t really much of a room. It is more like a wide hallway connecting the living room, breakfast nook and master bedroom. I can’t fit our large calk board anyplace in the sunroom so we have been using Bri’s play easel which is small. We could really use a little extra room and since we have it, we might as well use it. I have been going back and forth on this decision as it feels like giving up; but I think we need to pack up the baby stuff and move forward. Besides, if a baby came to us today, we wouldn’t put her in her own room for at least 6 month.

We have been working on the kitchen. We have a 1963 Flair oven that has been sitting in our garage. I love it and hate the glass top that was in the house when we bought it. We’ve had plans to do this for a while but at some point we thought we might sell. Then the economy took a dive so we took the house off the market. Now, we’ve decided, since we can’t sell we might as well continue with our plans. Moogoo works in metal and brought home a beautiful stainless counter top Wednesday night for our island. He is working on the tops for the rest of the counters but the island is beautiful! The Flair, meanwhile, needs a lot of cleaning and Moogoo has been working hard on that. If you don’t know what a Flair is, Samantha Stevens used one on Bewitched. Our plan is to replace the glass top with the Flair, cover all the counters with stainless, put in black and white checkered floors which will continue into the sun room, and find a unit (Hoosier, side board, credenza?) to store some small appliances and extras like our silver and placemats, and also give us a little more counter space.

We have been using our weekends wisely lately. We went to Rock Hawk and Rock Eagle weekend before last. They are both Native American effigies and parks. One weekend we went to the GA Aquarium and another we went to a Schoolbox store and exploring. We would like to go explore a nearby town over the weekend if the weather holds. They have a lot of antique shops and specialty type stores so besides being fun we will keep our eyes open for a unit for the kitchen.

School is going well. The kids love their new books and have been doing very well with them. I hadn’t done grammar with Butterfly because it was like pulling teeth. She just didn’t understand it. Now, it seems, she is ready. This is proof that if your child isn’t ready for something it is no use forcing her; simply put it away until she is ready. Part of the benefit of homeschooling is teaching to the individual child’s abilities. Not only does she understand grammar now, but she is excelling at it.

For Butterfly, I am using the following resources: Singapore Math, Spellwell, Ridgewood Grammar, Sylvan Vocabulary, and Spectrum Science. I use my own curriculum for history and geography that I’ll post one day.

For Turtle we use: Singapore Math, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Rules of the Game (grammar), Power Basics Earth and Space Science (she is a little behind as she should be on Biology now) and Power Basics World History. Both girls have various reading, religion, art, social studies and values resources.

All in all, we are keeping busy and doing well. I am actually looking forward to cleaning out the nursery this weekend and getting the homeschool moved into that bigger room. Is it an end, a step forward, a closed door or an open window? I guess we’ll see; it isn’t for us to know what’s to be.

13 January 2010

New Semester = New Schedule

This is the first week of the new semester. We have a slightly new schedule and some new books for the second half of the year.

We are starting a week later than I had scheduled because the books didn’t come in time but in homeschool that doesn't matter much. We will make it up at the end of the school year or little by little on weekends.

The girls have a slightly different schedule from each other. It can get confusing at times but since Turtle is in 6th grade and Butterfly is in 3rd, they can’t do the same things and Butterfly usually requires a little more hands on from me. It took some work but I finally got the schedule together; it is as follows:

Morning Chores



10:00-10:20 Tefillah

10:25-11:00 Turtle: Math
           10:25-10:30 Butterfly: Penmanship - copy work (just a quick exercise to keep her on target)
           10:35-11:00 Butterfly: Spelling

11:05-11:40 Turtle Grammar (M&W) Vocabulary (T&T)
           11:05-11:25 Butterfly Vocabulary (M&W) Reading or Math Facts CD (T&T)
           11:30-11:55 Butterfly: Grammar

11:45-11:55 Turtle: Free Reading

12:00-1:30 Lunch and recess

1:35-2:40 Turtle: History/Science/Free Reading: She has deadlines to meet each week
        1:35-2:00 Butterfly: History (M&W) Science (T&T)
        2:05-2:40 Butterfly: Math

2:45-3:00+/- Religion: Torah/ Hebrew/ Jewish Life Skills


Fridays are a little different. Turtle makes the challah for Shabbat and starts around 9 or 10 AM. Butterfly has a spelling test each Friday and we take care of that while Turtle is making the bread. Then we discus the Torah parsha and do a simple activity, read a story, do a craft project or watch something having to do with the parsha. We then clean the house and I begin cooking for both Friday and Saturday. We are not shomer Shabbat, but I do like to make Saturday as easy and family oriented as possible. We set the table after lunch and get ready for park day with the homeschool group which begins at 3:00 at various parks and churches, it changes each week. If we have time before park day we may watch some Mr. Wizard or something that I’ve recorded that is educational. This time of year we usually have to leave the park early but during the summer months we frequently stay until 6:30 or so.

05 January 2010

Happy New Year

I’ve been thinking a lot about the New Year and specifically whether or not it is my new year at all. I did a quick search on the Gregorian calendar and came up with a few facts:
  •  It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII and the name Gregorian is a tribute to him.
  • The Gregorian calendar is an adjustment of the Julian calendar, both of which exist primarily to help the church calculate when Easter should be celebrated.
  • The names of the months come from Latin and most pertain to Roman Catholic or Pagan gods, people and events. For example; January = Janus = Roman god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings. August = Augustus = First Roman emperor
  • BC & AD mean Before Christ and Anno Domini which means “In the year of our lord” (not "after death" as Turtle's public school teacher told her. Is it no wonder I homeschool?!). This comes from the Julian calendar and was first used around 527 A.D. It was surmised that the incarnation of Jesus was the 25th of March in the year 754 and therefore the year 754 became year 1 A.D.
  • Some countries who were not Catholic felt trepidation taking on the Gregorian calendar. Many protestant countries worried that this new calendar was an attempt by the Catholic church to bring them back to Catholicism.
Nowhere in my reading did I notice anything about the Gregorian Calendar being secular, on the contrary, it is, in fact, a Catholic/Christian entity. This therefore, makes the Gregorian New Year a Christian holiday. In the US it is celebrated as a secular holiday, however we can not fool ourselves into thinking it is secular. This is how the Jewish community gets lost and Christian holidays end up in our schools and our children don't understand why we don't celebrate Easter (becuase the teacher said Easter is a secular holiday!!!). We become too complacent and one day wake up and wonder why we can’t remember how to celebrate Passover and why our children have Christmas trees in their homes (you may say I’m not one to talk and you’d be right).

So, I’ll leave the celebrations to the goy on New Years Eve. I acknowledge the passing of a year much the same as a passing of a school year or a birthday; but that’s all. I also have no choice (because I am not in Israel) but to use the Gregorian calendar but I will not call it a secular calendar any more.

Coincidently I’ve noticed a difference in my thinking between New Year and Rosh Hashanah. This is actually what got me thinking about the differences between the two and what lead to this rant on the matter.

My resolutions for this 2010 year are much more superficial than my resolutions for Rosh Hashanah 5770. In 2010 I want to loose weight, wake up and go to bed earlier, be more organized etc. In 5770 I want to pray more, be thankful more, give tzedakah, and be more vigilant about reading and discussing the Torah portions with my children. I recently read a funny article that compared the Hebrew New Year with the “Goyish” New Year. The article was funny, meant to mock extremes however they make a good point. The Goyish new year is time of football, drinking, partying and Dick Clark. The Hebrew/Jewish New Year is a time of prayer, repentance, family, and Gd. At the beginning of the year we Jews feel a new hope for the future. Having cast off our sins we can make the appropriate changes in our lives and make plans for the future. We take a deep breath and realize we have a second chance to make ourselves and the world better. At the beginning of the Goyish year we (they) are tired, hung over, and wishing for a few extra vacation days.

While we are here lets talk a little about the Hebrew calendar:

The Hebrew calendar has its roots in the Torah (five books of Moses in the Old Testament). There are several commandments in the Torah that relate to the calendar. It was established around 400 C.E (Common Era – noted on the Gregorian calendar as A.D) by Hillel II.

Years in the Hebrew calendar are numbered from the date of the creation of Adam. This was figured by adding up the ages of the people in the bible back to the time of creation of Adam. Note, this is not how old the universe is, it is how old mankind is. There are differing opinions on the age of the universe which I’ll not discus now as it advances beyond the scope of this article. To find the current year add 3760 to the Gregorian year if it is before Rosh Hashanah. After Rosh Hashanah add 3761. So today’s date is 19 Tevet, 5770.

The moths are: Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar. In the leap years we add Adar I and the regular Adar is called Adar II. The names are actually Babylonian month names brought back to Israel after the return from the Babylonian exile. Most of the months in the bible are referred to by number rather than name. So Nisan is 1, Iyar is 2…and so on. Rosh Hashanah, btw, is “the Head of the Year.” However, it is not the first month in the year; that is Nisan. The number year is increased on Rosh Hashanah in Tishri which is the 7th month.

The head, or start, of each month is also taken from the Torah. "The L-rd spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 'This Chodesh shall be to you the head of months.'" The Chodesh is the crescent new moon and this is where each month starts. Originally there was no fixed calendar so the Sanhedrin (the Rabbinical Supreme Court) would determine the length of each month based on the length of the last. Hillel II realized that this system could not go on forever and came up with the current system.

The seven days of the week are taken from the seven days in which the world was created. In the Hebrew calendar the days are not named. They are simply counted as they are in the story of creation with Shabbat being the 7th day. Yom Rishon = first day = Sunday; Yom Sheni = second day = Monday; Yom Shlishi = third day = Tuesday; Yom Reviʻi = fourth day = Wednesday; Yom Chamishi = fifth day = Thursday; Yom Shishi = sixth day = Friday; Yom Shabbat = Shabbat day (Rest day) = Saturday.

The length of a day is from sunset to sunset. When Gd created time he began with night and then day. So the Jewish calendar begins with the night before the day. The Gregorian calendar begins and ends at midnight while the Jewish calendar begins and ends at sunset. You’ll understand why when I get into how time is measured but this is why Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday and ends at Sunset on Saturday. This makes our 24 hour clock irrelevant. The hour of the day is calculated by taking the total time of the daylight of a day from sunrise to sunset and dividing it into 12 equal parts. So the 5th hour of the day would not be 5:00 is would be 5 hours after sunrise. This also means that an hour is not necessarily 60 minutes. On a day when the sun rises at 6:30 and sets at 7:30 the “proportional hour” or “sha’ah zemanit” is 70 minutes long.

I’d like to also add that the holidays on the Hebrew calendar do not change. They are the same time every year. It is the difference between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendar that make Chanukah (for example) seem like it jumps around while Christmas remains stationary. If we used the Hebrew calendar regularly then it would seem the other way around.

So I'd like to take this time to wish my Christian friends and all who celebrate it a Happy New Year!