Monday, April 30

Still Working on it.

I made another pass on sourdough bread on Friday.  I made one loaf and some cinnamon rolls.  The loaf was overcooked and the crust much too thick.  But the crumb of the bread is so much better this round.  I am still working on finding just that right combination.

Menu Planning Monday - 8 Iyar

First the review -  Tomato soup - I like the flavor but it is missing something.  Perhaps a touch of coconut milk whisked in at the end.  And some vegan Parmesan croutons on top.  The goulash is great but I need to cut back on the paprika next time for my family.  I love the double prep. It is really nice to get up in the morning dump a bag in the crockpot  and be done with dinner prep for the day.

Sunday - PotLuck at a friend's.  We are bringing the Goulash, Raspberry bars, and Chocolate Pretzels
Monday - Strawberry Picking  and Swim Class - Crockpot Bourbon Chicken, rice and Peas
Tuesday - sloppy Joes, corn and salad
Wednesday -  Fish sticks, couscous and green beans
Thursday -tacos per Abba's request
Shabbat - We will be 8 for dinner this week.  Challah, Gefilte Fish Loaf, Matzah ball Soup, Apricot Chicken (cutup to make it serving easier), steamed broccoli, honey roasted potatoes, and Strawberry Icebox Cake made with our fresh picked strawberries and parve whipped cream

Sunday, April 29

Going Round The Sun

We have officially started a Apologia's Astronomy book as our Summer Science. This is not part of our official curriculum but more of a test drive to see if we like "textbook science"  The hope of using it is that it will keep us focused and help us learn new things.  I figure summer is the perfect time since we camp quite a bit and can see the night sky much better.  Also with the recent one in a life time opportunities,  (the space shuttle stuff recently and the upcoming VenusTransit) I felt compelled to focus on Astonomy.

Our first lesson was an overview of the solar system.  I tried reading Froggy the textbook passages but neither one of us could stomach them.  So we skipped that.  I will read the textbook and share any sections that contain new information.

 Froggy made a notebook to document her learning through this process.  I was surprised at how much she enjoyed the project.  Her first "assignment" was a pneumonic to remember the order of the planets.

Then we made a scale model of the solar system and hung it up in our school room.  The "sun" is not in scale because it would be impossible to hang if it was but everything else is.  It is hard to see in the picture but we used colors indicative of the planets when possible. 
Since I refused to read the text of the book to Froggy, I found some other books about the solar system that I was willing to read.  We pulled out an old favorite, Going Around the Sun, which we have read time and time again but still enjoy immensely.  We also read Boy Were We Wrong About the Solar System, which shows how scientific thought has changed over time.  It was fun for Froggy to see that even scientists make mistakes and learn new things and what we are teaching and learning is the best information we have but may very well not be right. We also got a book, Stars, Stars, Stars which is more about Astronomy in general than the solar system in specific.  It is written in a very juvenile manner but the information in it is good if you can get past the silly style.

Friday, April 27

Literature and Twaddle

In addition to our Yom HaAzmaut books, we have done lots of other fun reading as well.  I picked up some astronomy books for our new unit and Froggy found some as well while I was browsing.  She chose My Friend, the Starfinder.  From the cover, it looked like it was a book about constellations but it is not.  It is twaddle describing a young girl's relationship with an older neighbor.  Unfortunately Froggy loves it.

Frequently I am not fond of Froggy's choices.  She often picks twaddle like the Rainbow Fairies.  Her motivation for going to the library is new Fairy books.  She is limited in how many she can get each week but always wants more.  I justify allowing her to read these books because she will also of her own choosing read books that are not twaddle.  I like mind candy at times so I suppose she should be allowed some as well.

For instance, she also chose Keeping The PromiseI found this book at the used booksale at  the Day School.  I put it on the shelf planning to read it with Froggy in a year or so.  The story is about the Holocaust and extremely well written from the perspective of a survivor.  However, it shows a more vivid image of life in a concentration camp than I had intended to share at this point which is why I had tucked it away.  Froggy found it and read it several times commenting how great a book it was. 

This week, we also started some practice in reading out loud.  I did not teach Froggy to read so we never had that time when she regularly read to me.  So now she is reading Charlotte's Web to me.  When we started I set a few ground rules for the process.  I explained to her that this book was special and she was not allowed to read it unless she was reading it to me the same way Abba does not read our family book unless we are all there.  I also reminded her to ask if she comes across a word she does not understand.  Our first session was such a success that I had to make her stop after two chapters because we needed to go do other things.  The hardest part of it for Froggy is not getting caught up in the story and forgetting to use her voice.

Thursday, April 26

Yom Ha'atzmaut

We have been really building up Yom Ha'atzmaut this year.  I am not sure why more this year than others except Froggy is more interested.  
All week we have been reading Israel books.  Froggy insisted on It's Israel's Birthday.  It is really too baby a book for her, but she still loves it.  She read it to me at least a dozen times this week.  We read And Shira Imagined which is not specifically a Yom Ha'atzmaut book but the reader travels with Shira as she tours Israel both ancient and modern. 
 Today we had mini birhtday party for Israel consisting of an Israeli lunch of Falafel, Israeli Salad, and hummus with Birthday cupcakes for dessert.  We sang Yom Huledet as well as Hatikvah.  We watched several YouTube videos, including this one which really shows the transition we are emphasizing from Yom HaShoah to Yom Ha'atzmaut

 Froggy made a cute Israeli flag and we both made pinwheels.  The schoolroom is covered in glitter.

Wednesday, April 25

Shakespeare for Kids??

When I first saw Shakespeare on our curriculum for this year, I balked big time.  I said no way am I doing Shakespeare with a six year old.  But I did it.  And it worked out great.  She loves it!!
I attribute her enjoyment to two things.  The first absolutely most important is the source material.  We are using Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit.  The plays are abridged but much of Shakespeare's original language is kept.  The length is just right for Froggy.  So far we have read A Midsummer's Night Dream as well as The Winter's Tale.  How can you turn down fairies right?  That was not a hard sell.  But I was really worried about The Winter's Tale particularly since I had never read it myself. 
 Enter item number two.  The next step to making Shakespeare fun for us is Masterpuppet Theatre.  It is a set of 60 cards with finger holes cut out to make them like puppets.  There are also a series of backdrops included.  Froggy was thrilled when this arrived in the mail and begged me to start reading right away so she could play with the puppets.  It does not include all the characters of all the plays but we made do.  We used queens, kings and other characters to be the players.  I showed Froggy the card as I read and then she used them for her telling back.  It was one of her most impressive narrations especially given the length of the source material. 

Froggy is so excited about Shakespeare that we have even arranged to see All's Well That Ends Well at the end of Summer.

Conquering Battles

Sometimes, as with everything in parenting, schoolwork becomes a battle.  Froggy just is not in the mood to do as she is asked on that given day.  Most days the battles are non existent or minor. But for awhile we had been having big battles every day regarding Math.  Finally I accidentally stumbled on a solution. 

Moving Math

Some exercises have simpler problems yet more of them.  These days seem to be the hardest for Froggy.  So we decided to get up and get moving.  It does not matter the activity.  We have done our Shabbos cleaning while working problems.  We have practiced bike riding while working problems. We have even just marched.  As long as she is using her mind and body at the same time. 

I wish I could find such a simple answer to all the moments of conflict in our reality.

Tuesday, April 24

Sour Dough Bread

 So I actually fed the starter and kept it alive.  I made two loaves of bread and about 8-10 rolls with it.  I am so not thrilled with how it turned out though. 
This is the underdone one
The loaves were under done at the duration recommended.  The one I put back in ended up over cooked along with the rolls.  The family has eaten them though.  The rolls were a big hit with Froggy..
 She will not eat the bread as sandwiches though.  I still need to keep working on bread for sandwiches.  This batch is too crumbly (my perpetual problem)

Monday, April 23

Kissing Space Shuttles

So first Froggy got to see the Shuttle fly overhead and then she got to see it up close and personal as it was delivered to its new home.
We went with Aunt Petal and her cousin, E who is even more space obsessed that Froggy.
 They got to touch and sign a shuttle wheel.  It gave them a good perspective on the size of the craft.
 We watched as Discovery rolled forward to meet Enterprise escorted by its entire crew. 
 Froggy and E. were right up front at the fence line and got a great view of the the shuttle and crew as they passed in front. You can get a hint in this picture of the wear and tear Discovery shows. 

And then the two shuttles were nose to nose.  It was a great moment.  When looking at the two together it was easy to see who had been sitting in a hanger for several years and who had just come back from completing 39 missions. 
Wouldn't they make cute astronauts?

We then went inside and got to talk to some people from NASA and see spacesuits up close and learn about the Orion project
And they got to drive a shuttle landing simulation.  It was a great simulation with a NASA person walking them through each step including launching the parachute that slows the shuttle down after touch down. 

Science in the Schools

Froggy and I attended Family Science Night at our local elementary school. This program is put on by the Children's Science Center.  I first encountered them about two year ago and have been volunteering with them ever since because I believe so strongly in their mission. In their words,
"Museum Without Walls "Mobile Labs" Family Science Nights are two-hour evening programs designed for parents to self-guide their students through a series of science lab experiments that can easily be replicated at home for further learning and enrichment. Schools are asked to provide volunteers at each station for assistance. The Children's Science Center provides all supplies and equipment for up to two exhibits and ten activities for hands-on science learning.
When Froggy was informed of the event, she insisted on coming and being my helper for the event rather than going out to eat at her favorite restaurant and only attending later as a participant. It does a Momma's heart good to see a child make those kinds of choices. 

Froggy's favorite activity was "Engineer a Lunar Lander"  The purpose of the activity is to investigate the force of impact and how shock absorbers work.  The children create a "Lunar Lander" from basic household materials.  They then launch their Lander and see how the "cargo" fares. She was so proud that her marshmallows did not even spill let alone get bruised.
I did an activity on the density of salt water when compared with fresh water.   This is the activity we first saw with CSC.  During the demo we actually float fresh water on top of salt water.  Many of the children who came through were very surprised to see that salt water could do that. It was tons of fun. 

I did not get to experience the other activities with Froggy.  She made a fossil and maybe visited one other activity but even she did not get to do half of that which was offered. 

Sunday, April 22

Menu Planning Monday - 1 Iyar

We are having guests over for Shabbos much more often which makes me much more likely to make a complicated meal and more likely to try new recipes.  I made Miso Soup completely from scratch.  It is so so easy.  I will be making it much more often.  I did not make the Persian salad but made a Beet Salad instead.  It looked pretty but was largely flavorless.  I made it in advance and the beets soaked up the dressing as I had hoped but did not taste like it at all.
The dessert was marvelous.  It is time consuming but so worth it.  I want to try it again with all almond flour to see if can be done for Pesach.

Sunday  - Green Salad, Pasta, Garlic Bread
Monday -  Swim Class  - Lentil Soup and Sourdough Rolls made with our own starter
Tuesday - Stephanie's Goulash (I prepped it last week but never made it)
Wednesday - Fish Sticks, Peas and wild rice
Thursday - Dinner out before the Theater (Froggy and Abba are going to see Into The Woods)
Shabbat - Challah, Gefilte Fish Loaf,  Tomato Soup, Pot Roast, smashed potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding With Turtle Topping

Friday, April 20

Dolly's Dress

High on our success from last week, Froggy started her next handwork project.  This is a much larger project likely to take several weeks to complete.  She is making a dress for her doll.  All by herself.

First we chose the fabric.  Froggy has been doing this with me for ages as I sew her clothes but it had a special feeling knowing it was her project.  She had so much fun rummaging through my stash and putting things together.
Then we laid out the pattern.  I showed her how to pin the patter to the fabric and make it smooth.  Then she cut it out.  She had a really hard time cutting it at first. So I took over to see if perhaps her scissors were not up to the task.   But they worked fine.  So we tested and tested to find a way for her to do it.  And she did it 
. She was so proud of herself when the piece was finally all cut out.
Next came actually sewing the pieces together.  I showed her how to pin the two pieces together and then drew a stitching line for her.  I showed her how to "take small bites" of the fabric.  Then she took her turn.
She worked hard in her first pass and got about half up the first seam.  We will come back to the project in bits and pieces.  

Thursday, April 19

Yom HaShoah

The Holocaust is a hard topic to explain to a little person. Yet they are part of our lives and to hide the Memorial Days from them gives them a skewed perspective of reality.  After we lit our yellow Shoah candle, I showed Froggy this picture of six survivors lighting remembrance flames at Yad Vashem.  In Israel, it is easy because the Memorial Days are given the honor and respect they deserve. Here is a clip showing how everyone pauses to show respect for the two minutes of remembrance.  The siren sounds and everyone nationwide actually stops to remember whether they are in school, at work, or on even on the road.

Warning the siren is loud. You may want to adjust your sound

So our Yom HaShoah studies have consisted of mostly reading books and Ima answering the questions that arise.  We pulled back out One Candle  which is really a Hanukkah book but also shows how the family remembers those who perished and honors their perseverance. 

We also read Memories of Survival.  This is our first time delving into a survivors story.  Esther told her story of Holocaust survival in a series of 36 exquisite, hand-embroidered fabric collages and hand-stitched narrative captions.  Her daughter reproduces those collages in this book, adding commentary that fills in the historical details.  Froggy commented several times on the majesty of needlework several times.  I don't know if she recognized the artistry more because she is working on needlework herself right now or as a method of hiding from the story itself.  She did not ask any questions  about the atrocities or even why the Gestapo was killing Jews.  I think perhaps being so young she does not grasp the magnitude or see it as any different from the other "they tried to kill us but we survived so lets eat" holidays we have through out the year.  I chose this book specifically because it introduces the autrocities and shows the Gestapo but does not include the graphic details that even some of the other "Juvenile" books included.  These details are important for a deeper understanding but not important for a first grader to have. 

I also checked out One More Border but we have not read it yet.  It contains actual photographs but is told in a more story-like fashion than Memories of Survival.  I have not pulled it out to read to Froggy yet because I don't want to overwhelm her.  I will keep it for awhile and see if she pulls it out.

Tuesday, April 17

The End of an Era

Today we watched shuttle Discovery fly to its new home at Udvar-Hazy.  We got to see it ass over piggy-backed on its jet three separate times.   I am glad it flew over three separate times because the first time Froggy did not understand exactly what she was seeing. We moved closer to the path for the second pass (when I got this picture) and she got to see it better.  The third pass was icing on the cake that she got to share with another local homeschool family that came out to see it.

I have so many memories associated with the shuttle program that it was important for me to share this final moment with Froggy.  While she will get to see it again, it will be on the ground.  It is important for her to know that it really did fly.  Once while visiting my mom, we blessed to chance upon it taking up from Cape Canaveral and she got to witness that but she was too young to remember. 

Monday, April 16

Sourdough Starter

I am finally trying my hand at making sour dough.  I used this recipe for the starter.  According to the recipe it needs to grow for two days before I feed it and then it is another 3-5 days before I can try baking a loaf with it. After that things move faster and in theory I will be able to make bread with the starter a couple of times a week. 

Menu Planning Monday 24 Nissan

We finally got around to trying quinoa this week.  I actually liked it.  Abba was pleasantly surprised by it and gave his approval for it to replace some of the rice in our diet even after Pesach.  The big win from the week was the Sephardic Charoset which I ended up making a second batch because we were craving more. Everyone loved it.  

Sunday -  Salad, Pasta with homemade Pomodora sauce(new vegan recipe) and garlic bread
Monday -Lentil Soup and Biscuits
Tuesday - Crockpot - Stephanie's Goulash over egg noodles and salad.
Wednesday -  Sloppy Joes (made with leftover Brisket), buns, frozen corn, Salad
Thursday -  Theater - Dinner out before the Show.
Shabbat - Challah, Miso SoupPersian Tomato and Cucumber Salad Salmon, rice, keem, Cauliflower  Chocolate Rasberry Torte

Sunday, April 15

Light, Mirror, and Lenses

We have been doing a series of experiments with light.  We started out investigating the basic properties of light and mirrors.  We read Day Light, Night Light  and Light.  We used a nail and a flat mirror to determine the focal point of the mirror.  We played a neat maze game bouncing the light from mirror to mirror to make it shine on a specific spot. 
Next we look at parabolic mirrors and lighthouses.  We used a big metal bowl and a candle to see how the shape of the reflective surface changes how the light shines back.  The bowl helps focus the light sending it all in one location. 

Since treats always help information sink in, they built a parabolic mirror out of rice krispie treat and used foot by yard as the light beams to show the path of the light as it comes in and bounces back.

Taking the next step, we moved on to lenses.  We discovered the magnifying effect of a drop of water.  It was really neat to see the "Eureka" moment in the kids.  They were supposed to look side on and determine the shape of the water drop but that did not really sink in. We then used hand held magnifying lens to look at fingerprints.  The children were able to examine the shape of the lens when they could touch all the parts.  
As a wrap up, we used tin foil and yarn to review the paths of light with all the different mirrors and lenses.  I brought two different colors of yarn so that we could see the light coming in as different from the light coming out.  It really helped them see that the light bounces off the mirrors and goes through the lenses.  

Book Backlog

It has been far too long since I chronicled our favorite books.  I know because there is no mention of the wonderful series we just finished.  Our bedtime book (read by Abba) for the last several months have been the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce.  Abba and I first read this series many years ago.  It was fun finally sharing it with Froggy.  The series is aimed at tween.  Alanna starts as a 10 year old and becomes an adult through the course of the series.  Abba did need to do some on the fly censoring as Alanna begins her explorations of romance. To me it is worth it, since Alanna buck gender assigned roles and shows that women can be strong.  She is honorable and requires those around her to be honorable.

We just started our next series in this same universe, The Immortals which again takes a young girl and watches the struggles she faces as she grows to adulthood.  Daine is gifted with animal magic but did not know it at first.  These books are about coming of age and while Froggy is hearing them now and enjoying them now, I suspect she will come back and reread them as a tween and view them with completely different eyes.

We are also listening to The Railway Children in the car.  I was concerned when I picked this book that Froggy would reject it due to the language.  I should not have been. After Heidi  the style of English sounds almost modern.  The story is about how the children manage themselves when suddenly the family must move to the country and Mother must spend all her time writing to support them since Father is now absent.  The children are young and only the oldest is mature enough to get a sense of the adult problems her mother is dealing with.  This is a wonderful introduction into railroads and how they work for my completely non-mechanical little girl.  Edith Nesbit is a phenomenal author.  We love her retellings of Shakespeare as well.

I have been on a bit of a book binge myself.   In addition to the popular mind candy of The Hunger Games, I have also done some more thought provoking texts.  Both pieces are set in the Chassidic community and provide very different perspectives.  The first, Jerusalem Maiden is set obviously in Jerusalem but the most of the story is set in the poverty-stricken Jerusalem of the Mandate Era.   The second, Unorthodox, is set in modern Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Esther, the Jerusalem Maiden, is very devout and believes strongly in the rightness of her faith and lot in light at least at the start of the book.  Devorah is fighting against her heritage and community from the very start of the book. Despite the time and perspective differences, the books share some similar themes.  The biggest theme is the powerlessness the main characters feel towards their situation. It has been fun talking to my friend who grew up Chabad about her perspective compared to the book.  The part that sat the worst with me was the censorship and the deliberate prevention of education for both boys and girls. 

Friday, April 13


Froggy made a Potholder!!! This is her first real handiwork project ever.  She received a similar potholder from her cousin for the Winter holidays.  I told her she could make them as well.  Well it has taken her this long to be willing to try.
This is an upclose view

I was very proud of her because she did the entire project, from setting up the loom through the weaving to the finishing completely by herself with only a demonstration of each step from me.  It took her about 2 hours of work over 3 days to finish.  The first day she worked on making the loom and starting the weaving.  The second day she finished the last bit of weaving and started finishing it off.  This step was much harder than anything else for her.  She did not want to continue.  She came back the next day and with much struggling finished.

Thursday, April 12

Cattails and Starlings

On our nature hike today, we noticed a patch of fluff on the path.  Froggy was fascinated and curious as to its origin.  I pointed to the old mostly dead cattails just out in the marsh.  She quickly made the connection that it was the fluff or seed pods to the cattails she was familiar with.  We took a moment to examine the texture before pocketing a bit to bring home and examine with the magnify lens. We were also blessed to see some of the fluff taking root and beginning to grow right at the water's edge.  Sure made me wish I had brought the camera.

We also saw a new bird on our walk and Froggy asked me if it was a Longbill because she knows he likes to live near marshes.  We had just read about Longbills in our Burgess book.  It was a starling instead.  We get to meet him a couple of chapters from now. 
Once home we examined our Cattail seeds and looked up some more information online.  We both were fascinated to learn that they are edible.  Froggy wanted to go right back out and pick some for our salad this evening.