Sunday, March 28

Bedikat Chametz

The house is clean. The kitchen turned over. Everything is spic and span. Froggy searched for the chametz. What a difference a year makes at this age. She knew what she was doing and was so excited. She hunted and found all ten pieces brushing carefully with the feather after each piece.

Tomorrow the bonfire and cooking. This is when I start to enjoy Pesach.

Chag Sameach All

Menu Planning Pesach

It is almost here. We search for the Chametz today and tomorrow morning we will burn them. I am trying several new recipes this year as well as including some old favorites. Breakfast is always the hardest meal for us and I hope some of these recipes help us with that battle.

Monday - Seder at Shul. Make Charoset and roast the shankbone/eggs.
Tuesday - Seder at home - Hard Boiled Egges,Gefilte Fish, Matza Ball Soup, Brisket, Glazed Carrots, Asparagus, Kugel, macaroons and an Almond torte.
Wednesday - Pesach Breakfast Bars, Salmon Burgers (we need something lighter after two seders)
Thursday -Leftovers and Matza Crunch Cookies
Friday - Apricot Glazed Chicken, Carrots,Latkes, Flourless chocolate cake
Saturday-Fish and Chips

Wednesday, March 24

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" Who has not heard this as a child growing up. I never had a problem with the philosophy until now.

How can I reconcile this with Lashon Hora? I am teaching Froggy that words can hurt and she must be very conscious of her words. We explain that it is just as important to have gentle words as it is to have gentle hands. If I tell her words can hurt, how can I also tell her that "only stick and stones" hurt? I want her to "turn the other cheek" and be better than those who participate in name-calling.

All that being said, "sticks and stones" don't work for me. I will not teach "sticks and stones" as I was taught. Instead we will continue with only Lashon Hora.

To see what works for others check out We Are That Family.

Tuesday, March 23

Laying Down the Rails - Manners

One of the big Charlotte Mason principles in Laying Down the Rails is focus on one habit at a time. Create that habit until is a rail in your spirit and then move onto the next. We are working on Manners right now.

Froggy has a bad habit currently of ignoring people when they ask her a question. This is rude and drives me crazy. Therefore we are focusing on answering someone each time they speak to you no matter who it is or what you are doing.

The important point repeated throughout the guide is how important it is not to nag or let the new habit become a battle ground. I am struggling with this currently. I can easily present the requests and reminders without nagging. The problem I am having is keeping it from being a battle ground. Requiring compliance without it being a battle ground eludes me. I am still working my way through the section on removing bad habits so I hope it offers some useful advice.

Sunday, March 21

Menu Planning Monday - Preparing for Pesach

My menu this week is totally uninspired. I am trying to clear out the chametz and use stuff up without buying anything new. Next week will be much more fun and interesting.

Sunday - Pasta, Homemade sauce, peas
Monday - Mom has class - Pizza (using previous sauce) and salad
Tuesday - Chicken Stirfry, rice, keem, green beans
Wednesday - Family Swim Night Picnic - Salmon Burgers, Apples, Carrots and Cookies
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Challah,Maple Glazed Salmon, Rice, Broccoli, and yet another experiment from the Chocolate cookbook.

Sunday, March 14

A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six

We are investigating Charlotte Mason extensively in preparation for starting Kindergarten in the Fall. The more I read and learn about Charlotte Mason the more I love the philosophy. To that end here is a list I found on Ambleside, that we are using as a very low key goal/checklist for next year. My notes to the list are in red italics.

A reprint of a curriculum outline from a CM school in the 1890's. from Summer 93 Parents Review pub by Karen Andreola

1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm - Not quite sure how this will fit in
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read--what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundries of their own home I don't really understand what this means and am researching it
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early American, and 3 from early Roman history
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views Maybe I am dense but I cannot understand what these mean. I hope my further readings will clarify.
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, color and shape
14. to complete some piece of handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own "pets"--rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in Hebrew, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one Hebrew song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.

Wednesday, March 10

Pesach Field Trip

We are off today on our yearly Pesach Field Trip. We are going to the Orthodox community about an hour and a half north of here where we can find the supplies we need for Pesach. We go as a whole family and make a full fun adventure of it.

Our immediate community is much better since Wegmans arrived but we still need our field trip to get the full range of supplies for the holiday.

What are your Pesach prep activities besides cleaning and turning over the kitchen?

Hebrew - Living it.

We are officially returning Rosetta Stone. We gave it a really good try but it is just not working for us. That does not mean I am giving up on learning Hebrew. We are taking a more natural approach now, an approach which is more similar to our approach to other subjects.

We are going back to baby steps and learning Hebrew more the way Froggy learned English. It is not as fast because I cannot learn and use the words as quickly but it is working.

For the month of March we are focusing on colors. I have written the more common colors in Hebrew in the relevant color on big cards and put them on our learning wall just like I put up our early sight words. Randomly through the week, Froggy will ask me about them and we will say them.

But more importantly we are incorporating the new words into our everyday speech. When mention a color I try very hard to use the Hebrew name for it rather than the English name. I can do this now with 3-4 more colors than we were able to at the beginning of the month. We still have a couple on the wall that have not been internalized yet but I am sure will be by the end of the month.
Here you can see the Hebrew labels. We were doing a graphing activity that was supposed to be done in February but we did not get to then.

Next month we will do body parts and label a big picture of her that I will tape to the door.

As an added bonus to this Froggy is learning better pronunciation in English as Hebrew. She knows her Hebrew letters so when seeing the Chet on the wall in the beginning of Choom (please pardon the transliteration. I have not found a Hebrew font that works right yet) we were able to work on what it feel like to say it and how it feels and sounds different in the throat than Hay. We are working on a similar skill in English with 's' and 'sh'

Monday, March 8

A menu that works for me - Mar 7-14

I have not managed to do much month ahead cooking that works but do try to follow some of the principles. Namely I always roast 2 chickens any time I do. So from those chickens I get lots of meals for our little family. We had Shabbat dinner, then I made 5 lunch sized Potpies for the freezer for Daddy's lunches. Then we had Chicken StirFry and we still have Vietnamese rolls coming. And I got chicken salad for my lunch. It is nice having the precooked chicken to go into any dish I want. Not to mention the 8 2cup containers of stock I put in the freezer from the carcasses. So doubling up works for me here.

I am still in love with my new cookbook. Thanks to a surprise visit from Aunt Laura, I get an extra opportunity this week to try things from it. The Chocolate Swiss Roll with Strawberries (recipe below) turned out fantastic. It would be the perfect Pesach dessert for a family who can do dairy. Our dairy-free substitutes make it not KLP.

Sunday - Chicken StirFry, Rice, Keem - This is the third meal made from our Shabbat Roast Chicken.
Monday - company-Pot Roast,butternut squash, steamed broccoli, peach crisp.
Tuesday - company-Vietnamese Rolls - these are a complete meal with the meat and veggies all rolled in even the noodles something chocolate for dessert. This will be the fourth meal from our Shabbat chicken.
Wednesday - Last class for Mom and Dad - Froggy gets mac & cheese
Thursday - tacos
Friday - Challah, Maple Glazed Salmon, Rice, Green Beans,
Saturday Dinner Out

Chocolate Swiss Roll With Strawberries
Cake Ingredients
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
5 oz dark chocolate - finely grated
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup flour

Filling Ingredients
5oz finely chopped bakers chocolate
10oz cream whipped - we used silken tofu instead
80z sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 415.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar.
Beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Gently fold in grated chocolate, almonds, and flour. Spread mixture onto pan. Bake 12 min or until just firm in center. Be Careful it is easy to overbake
Turn cake out onto clean dish towel. Roll up from short side. Let cool completely.

To make filling - Melt chocolate. Spread over cooled cake. Top with cream and strawberries. Roll cake into log. Decorate top as desired.

Happily linking to:

Tuesday, March 2

Laying Down the Rails

A friend (thanks Emily) let me borrow a dvd of a Charlotte Mason conference. I put it on to watch while I folded laundry. Needless to say the laundry never got folded. I had to pay attention to the video. So much so that I felt compelled to take notes. (Does that make me a geek or a freak?)

According to Charlotte Mason, the first step to educating children well is "laying down the rails" which amounts to giving them good habits for life. These habits or "rails" form the tracks for them to travel through life. These habits eliminate the need to ponder each decision every step of the way and make room for them to ponder more interesting and important topics. After all, who wants to waste time trying to decide whether or not to brush our teeth each day.

Charlotte Mason wrote six volumes detailing exactly how to go. I do not have time to read all six volumes. Luckily Sonya Shafer, who also led the workshop, summarizes the recommendations in Laying Down the Rails a Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook. I am working on getting this book from the library in hopes of getting more detail.

Meanwhile here is my take on what I got of the workshop.

There are three habits on which all others build; truthfulness, obedience, and attention. As for how to instill these habits. It takes about 6 weeks of hard work on a single focused habit to cement it.

The two key items to remember when teaching a habit are repetition and motivation.

For Repetition, she comments that is critical to correct errors immediately and consistently but it is equally important to reinforce only the correct path which means don't nag.

As far as motivation goes, she recommends finding a "living example" of the habit you are working on. Show the child that they can accomplish the task through "expectant encouragement" and provide natural consequences when the habit or expectation is not met.

Monday, March 1

Welcome Spring

This year March is coming in like a lamb. Today for the first time in ages, we actually went outside. We saw the beginnings of several bulbs coming up, at least in those places where there were not holes from the squirrels.

I cleaned up the vegetable garden and opened it up for spring. I turned the soil and added compost, homemade compost for the first time ever. It was glorious to be out in the sun and feel the dirt in my hands.

I planted spinach and lettuce. Yes it is only March 1st but I bought a cold frame for just this reason. I am hoping that I can get 3 full plantings in the same plot by starting this early.

Welcome March. You are promising to be so much kinder than February.