Thursday, March 29, 2012

This is a Pesach plea

A little girl is crying...

A little girl is crying at the seder.

She is hungry. She is not crying because there is no food; she is crying because her Mommy made fancy food to impress the guests and now she has nothing to eat. All she wants is some chicken and potatoes, but instead there are piles and piles of dishes with unpronounceable names.

She has no place to sleep. She is not crying because she has no bed; she is crying because her parents insisted on having a seder out and now she is tired, but her comfortable bed  is far away.

Her clothes are no good. She is not crying because her clothes are tattered and old; she is crying because they are super-starched and uncomfortable. The white lacy collar is already crimson-red from grape juice and her mommy gave her an ugly look and shook her head.

She is tired. She is crying because this seder is dragging on too long, and she long ago lost interest, lost her place in the hagaddah, but the host wants to boast next morning that they had the longest nirtzah on the block.

She feels lost. She was trying to ask her Mommy today about the haggadah, but her mommy was too busy solving her friend's potato kugel crisis over the phone, so the girl was waved away.

Maybe she is not at the seder at all, she is crying because she is home with a babysitter while her parents are having adults-only seder, with fancy wine and even fancier conversation. She is not sure what her teacher meant when she said that seder is about kids asking questions. Who is she supposed to ask questions of?

A little girl is crying....

A little girl at risk.

A few years down the road, her parents will be crying because she won't be at the seder at all.

Please make your sedarim so that your kids would WANT to be there.

Monday, March 19, 2012

let's go fly a kite

mixing the dough
I decided to dedicate today more towards Pesach learning. I found illustrated Ma Nishtana for 5 yo on and a compilation of Pesach laws for 7 yo. I also decided to use OU's Pesach preparation guide as a springboard for discussion.

This morning 5 yo slept in till 9, some days kids need to sleep for 13 hours straight, but they will not be able to warn you the night before. So I started off with only two kids. 7 yo davened and then went downstairs for Rosetta Stone. Then we went over getting rid for chametz, not owning any, what is chametz and what is matzah. He worried about fish food; I told him we'll get worms for Pesach.

yeast makes it fluffy
Then we started on making our own matzah  experiment. We set up three bowls: two to rise for an hour and one to be baked right  away. One of the bowls which was to sit had yeast added to it. I mixed 1 cup of flour to 1/3 cup water. He and his sister had fun kneading it. Then we let it sit. In the meanwhile, I sent boys outside to run in the sunshine and 7 yo ran back with a bunch of flowers that he picked. He wanted to place them in colored water and watch what happens.

I'm very, very busy!
When the boys came in, I read about Ancient Egypt to 5 yo. We read about Khufu and he mentioned that he already heard about him. We also read about pyramids and how hard it was to build them without beasts of burden. Then we proceeded to try out three methods of writing that we read about: hieroglyphics on the rock, cuneiform on clay and ink on papyrus. I had some rocks for them to scratch and we looked up what hieroglyphics looked like. Those were some tough rocks, so 5 yo got discouraged that nothing was coming out. Then I pulled out Sculpey clay. The boys flattened it and drew on it with nails. Then I baked it. Finally, we proceeded to make our own paper. I used a bunch of scrap construction paper, everyone ripped it up and put it into food processor with a bit of water. OK, it required a whole lot of water to shred and not to ball up. 7 yo remarked that they made paper in Enrichment last year. We got red mush. I added a bit of bleach to lighten it and let the boys see how the color faded. Then I had a drying problem: I did not have a mesh to sit it out on. We pressed it into 9 X 13 pan and used hair dryer to speed up the process.
The finished product, left to right:
18 min, 1 hr and 1 hr with yeast.

Once this was done, we went back to making real ( chametz) matzah. 7 yo was able to complete the whole process, from mixing the ingredients to getting fully-baked flat bread in 18 minutes. Then we degustated with lunch. It tasted good with cream cheese and even better with chocolate spread. I did not realize how much flavor develops from dough sitting around and especially from yeast. It tasted like unpretentious pizza crust.

paper mush
After lunch, we did a bit more megillah. We discussed why Achashverosh could not sleep. 7 yo knew a midrash about the chronicles flopping back to the story of Mordechai. I said that it's possible that out of all stories being read to him, his mind was focused on that one, so it's as if all he could hear was how Mordechai saved his life, and was not rewarded. Then he asked why Achashverosh wanted to reward Mordechai, wasn't that his enemy that eh was planning to kill? I said that Achashverosh did not even think that Mordechai was Jewish and threatened. He just wanted to go back to sleep, so in his mind, as soon as Mordechai would be rewarded, he could relax. We also discussed how Haman assumed that he's king's favorite, so he did not think about his answer.

5 yo did a page of Yesh Lanu Lama. He wrote everything in himself, and even fixed his mistakes without any drama. Then both boys did math: a review of measurements for 7 yo and more place value in the hundreds for 5 yo.

Then we went to gymnastics. On the way over, 7 yo asked if we could go to mis'ada for dinner tonight. I said we'll go to mis'ada in NY, soon enough. On the way back from gymnastics I found myself straight in a piece from Mary Poppins: 5 yo is begging me to just go to the park to fly a kite and I'm saying no, no, we have to go home and eat dinner. And all he wants to do is fly his kite.

Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

nearly perfect

Last morning was the new round of coop classes. I signed up for set-up duty, which means that now we have to be there half an hour earlier. I did not realize it will be during the week when we change clocks. So, last morning, at 7:30, as I was trying to wake my boys up, I was informed that they are planning a play about gazelles and hunters, which involves scissors, cardboard, rubber bands and K'NEX. This would have been fine any other morning...

You know the day when your kids claim to love every class, everyone behaves, the weather is gorgeous, you make it to the zoo, and when you finally come home, the kids just can't wait to get started on their Ancient Egypt dioramas? Well, yesterday was one of those days.

If yesterday was nearly perfect homeschooling day out, today was nearly perfect homeschooling day in. During my breakfast, 5 yo brought over an illustrated copy of Alice and we read the first chapter. The kids both started next unit of Rosetta Stone. 7 yo happily received next volume of Story of the World. We did timeline for the first volume which involved measuring, drawing a straight line with a ruler, marking off intervals, figuring how many years will fit on each page, multiplication and division by 10. I have hard time classifying it all as a subject. Then he started putting in a bunch of dates, and when I asked whether it's enough for today, he just wanted to keep on going, even after he realized that some dates were not correctly marked and had to be fixed. While he was working on that project, 5 yo finished reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I read some history to him, which had to do with ancient Egypt. Just perfect for his Egypt class and for upcoming Pesach. We read how Nile floods and farmers depended on it. We also read how Egyptians worshipped the paroh, because they thought he had control over flooding Nile. I read to him the Osiris myth. Then I explained why it was important that the first plague affected Nile: to show that paroh is not in control and to makes Egyptians worry about their livelihood.

Then we did math. 5 yo got to play with base ten blocks and I saw now that he does get the concept of place value. He was able to trade successfully and pull out the right amount of blocks. Whew! He also got the play with them by creating a house for his baby Zhu Zhu.

Then I did megillah with 7 yo. We read first three pesukim of 5th perek. I explained the setup of Achashverosh sitting and Esther approaching in the doorway and him being stunned by her appearance. 7 yo translated bakashatech as asking; I explained that it was a request. He wondered why she did not ask for the Jewish people then. Then, in the next pasuk, he got that Esther is making a meal for "him", the king, but she is also inviting Haman. Then the boys wanted to act this scene out. 5 yo was Achashverosh, a flip-flop was the scepter, 7 yo was the palace guard with an iguana as a sword. I got to be Esther.

Now, thinking back about it, it is strange that 7 yo didn't want to be Achashverosh. I guess he's not being held in high regard, royal status aside.

Then, after lunch, 7 yo did math. I got the scale with pounds and ounces and we went back over the measurements that he previously estimated. But the surprise came when there was a review problem, 61-56. He borrowed a 10 from 6, but recorded it as a 10, not as 11. At that point, I pulled out those blocks and made him do it again. He saw the discrepancy, but could not figure out why. I showed it to him again. Then I gave him a block of two-digit subtraction problems. He did those fine, but none had 1 in the ones. I gave him another one, 31-15, and he again forgot about 1 in the ones! His school teacher claimed that he was doing very well in math... he got the concept, but something like this slipped through.

7 yo flew through Lashon Hatorah. I will have to get him new workbooks when we'll be up in New York. I am thinking about getting them for 5 yo too.

Then we did spelling, which was review today. He got a bit discouraged that he got any words wrong. Then we did art, which today involved looking for lines and movement in sculptures. I Googled Greek sculptures, and he enjoyed both looking for movement and trying to identify who's portrayed without reading the captions.

5 yo did Handwriting Without Tears quickly and then stumbled in Lama. He wanted me to sit next to him. He wanted to take a rest. He wanted me to write it for him. I said I would write one line, if he tells me what goes there. He wanted me to go away and to make a surprise for me. Then he was just lying there, moping.

Then we picked up some friends and the kids had a playdate. At some point, I went into the backyard to dump out composting and to turn the pile. Eventually, all kids ended up outside. 7 yo declared that he will do weeding, not because anyoen is forcing him, but to make the yard look nice. Wel,, the way our yard looks now, I could use a whole lot of cats and a VOOM!

Monday, March 12, 2012

seeing decimals

A short summary of today:

Slow start due to time change and late night and 5 yo getting his sleepover at grandma's which now led to tears from 7 yo. Eventually 7 yo davened and started off with Rosetta Stone. By now, he overshot 5 yo, but that kid does not know it yet. I would like to keep him in the dark a bit longer, as I'm worried that this fact will sap his motivation. Then we did art: drawing the same object using only straight lines or only curved lines. 7 yo inferred that man-made objects are mostly straight lines, but natural objects require curvy ones.

Then he chose math. I ordered scale and metric graduated cylinder, so for now we skipped to money math. He was on the ball, just kept doing page after page after page. I thought he would finish the book today. He got to dollars and his book brilliantly used decimal, which came up last week in Beethoven's Wig (Watch me skate. Gimme a ten, oh what, only 9.2? C'mon, at least 9.6). So I showed him how the decimal separates dollars from cents. He kept it up for close to 45 minutes, till 5 yo was dropped off. Then all kids went outside to blow bubbles and dig in the dirt.

After lunch, 2 yo napped. 7 yo asked to do megillah, so we started on the 4th perek. His head was not in it though. He did not remember what medina means, even though we saw it so many times before and he was translating it. He also didn't ask anything, only what sackcloth looks like. I happened to have Basmati rice in a burlap sack, so he felt that and got the general idea. Overall, he was more busy dividing up 17 pesukim in half, to do half now and half later and aim for another siyum. That way we went over even/odd numbers again.

Then he did Lashon Hatorah and spelling. I wanted him to read some Jewish history from the library book, but he claimed that he already browsed it, and it is boring. I let it be.

5 yo did Rosetta Stone. followed by math. I'm waiting for base ten blocks to explain counting to 100. ( it is a second grade book, after all). He was able to group tens on the page into one hundred, but I'm not sure how much of it is sticking. I do not want him just to learn how to answer the questions in the book without understanding what it means.

After math, he did handwriting and ketiva. Today was letter p, which, for some reason, was hard for him. He kept telling me how it is confusing with d, and I kept reinforcing starting it on the line and then diving down and curving on top. In ketiva, he did not recognize aleph. More and more practice, to build up more and more skills. For Yesh Lanu Lama, there were questions to answer. I let him read the questions and tell me the answers to write down. That he did with flying colors.

Then they watched Nova documentary about making things smarter. ( I'm glad that Dinosaur Train stage is over, for now). They only got about 20 minutes before it was time for gymnastics. After, we stopped at the library. They had more Mythlopedia books for 7 yo; he opened them in the car and got lost in ancient Greece. I had to force him to get pajamas on so that he would realize that he's hungry for dinner.

As I was tucking boys in, 5 yo asked (again) what time he can get up in the morning. 7 yo suddenly announced that two dots on the digital clock are like a decimal. It's clicking!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

laundry and control

Today was laundry day. A lot of laundry day. Mounds and mounds of laundry day. I started last night, but when you have 5-6-7 loads, it is a slow affair.

Last night, 7 yo had a sleepover at a friend's house. 5 yo was not pleased, to put it mildly. So this morning, I only had two kids at home. And mounds of laundry. I decided to ask 5 yo to help me fold towels. I showed him how to fold them in thirds one way and then in thirds the other way. He did a few. I showed him how to fold pants; he said he already knows how to fold them. He put away the clothes that he folded. And I was still left with slightly smaller mounds of laundry.

Laundry is my last area of control. Before kids, I loved doing laundry. I liked clean feel of warm clothes, straight from the dryer. I liked perfectly aligned corners of towels, shirts folded like in a store, perfectly matched socks, each pair neatly tucked. Now I dread laundry. The reasons: there is a whole lot more of it. The hampers are never empty. Kids's shirts do not stay folded neatly. Boys occasionally stick in clean clothes into laundry (it falls on the floor and then it ends up in the hamper).

Why am I not delegating laundry?

Why do I still care about perfectly aligned corners?

Why am I not letting go?

My 5 yo is perfectly capable of folding towels. They will be clean; they will be in the right spot, they just won't look like we live in a hotel. The rest of my house does not look like a hotel; moreover, I do not want it looking like a hotel; why don't I relinquish control here?

Moving onto the bigger picture: 7 yo finished reading Story of the World on his own. I was planning to read it with him together, stop after every chapter, discuss, supplement, etc. Now that he read it, and keeps on rereading it on his own, there is a controlling part of me which feels that I have not done a good job here. It wants me to believe that the only way to provide a child with knowledge is to process it first, with adult's presence and assistance. Deep down, I am worried that now he has more history at his fingertips than I. Deep down, I am worried that he has been presented with history from a different perspective than I would agree with. Deep down, I want to be viewed as a source of his knowledge, not just as a passive facilitator. Deep down, I have a controlling issue.

I am taken back to my childhood. As quite a few Russian families, we had 10 volume set of Children's Encyclopedia, in an unforgettable burnt orange binding. This encyclopedia was published in the 50s, with a strong communist perspective. I was reading it in the 80s. It was outdated. It was biased. But it allowed me to choose which areas of knowledge I was interested in. Over the years, I could read up more about those areas. I was able to correct original misconceptions. But I was able to get knowledge on my own. I cannot imagine how it would have gone, were someone to sit me down and say: " Let's read this chapter, then discuss the misconceptions and then  my opinion on the subject". I would have lost desire to read!

So I have to let go. My kid might get a biased view of history. My laundry's imperfect condition might make me cringe. But my kids' desire to do more because they do it on their own will soar.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Megillah musings

In an ideal world, I would tell you exactly what this was all about and my two cents on it, too. In my world, I know that I have to put his link up now, before I forget, and you can read it and judge for yourself. I am currently on chapter 18.

The boys davened, one at a time, while the other one was doing Rosetta Stone. Then we did the beginning of third perek. We spoke about Haman's rise to power and how he might not have noticed that Mordechai was not bowing down, but the guards tattled.

Today was chilled out for the kids, mommy was going to the dentist and my friend graciously allowed kids into her house while I was being numbed and drilled. When we got back, I was planning on baking hamantashen, but 7 yo asked to do more megillah. We did six more pesukim, through the lottery and the Achashverosh's lack of reaction to Haman's plan. I explained that the lottery was for picking auspicious month. 7 yo brought in example from history that he read about chickens on boat on the way to Carthrage not eating grain and that being a bad omen. We also discussed how the ring was used to seal the decree and to show that it came from the king.

My husband came home for lunch and took all three kids with him to vote. They came back, chests puffed, with "I voted" stickers, and were whispering theatrically about which candidate daddy voted for. Then they wanted to watch the results of the election tonight.

My friend came over with her kids and we baked free-form hamantashen. The kids segregated by ages, 5 year olds went down to play while 7 year olds shaped the cookies. Then, after some time, 5 yos came up and the older kids went down. Chocolate chip filling was top choice, and 2 yo kept sneaking the chips and eating them.

While the cookies were baking, the boys went into the backyard and spent a good hour there. 5 yo popped in in a bit, with an "eaglet" feather. Then 7 yo came in, informing me that they built a teepee. Meanwhile, I was trying to clean up the kitchen.  2 yo came in, carrying watercolor and paintbrush, asking to paint. I set her up and showed how to drip water onto colors to make them soft. When the boys came in for good, I asked them to decorate Shalach Manot bags. By then, acrylic paints made an appearance. 5 yo painted the names of his friends on his bags. 7 yo did designs. 2 yo kept painting as long as there was empty surface.

I have been thinking about the way we're doing megillah and how it is going smoothly. I know that there are a few factors involved:

  • The text is familiar. 7 yo read it a bunch of times in English, so he knows sequentially what is coming up next in the story.
  • There is a tangible, quickly achievable reward of the kind that fits his motivation.
  • We have been drumming up Purim, so there is high interest there. It also means that the whole exercise is finite, and the end is in sight. ( Stay tuned to see whether we will continue learning the Megillah after Purim.)
  • The pace is quick. He reads the pasuk in Hebrew, and I let him translate as much as he knows, and just supply him with unknown words. There is no chazara.
  • The story is fast-paced, unlike Vayeira, and we played with it a few different ways already.
  • There are pictures on almost every page. They reduce the amount of text per page (the illusion of covering a lot in short period of time) and they serve as visual cues to context.

I am wondering which of these factors are worth replicating in Chumash.

Monday, March 5, 2012

lots of hours

After some deliberation, I decided to make today more of a regular school day and then tomorrow and Wednesday can be dedicated to Purim prep.

The boys davened one at a time, with 2 yo stuffing a bear sleeping bag with dominoes in the meanwhile. Give kids limited toys and unlimited time, and they will come up with more creative ways to use them than you can imagine.

Then it was time to pick schoolwork. 7 yo picked writing. For today, I asked him to write his own myth. He has been reading a lot of them, discussing them with my husband, reading about ancient Greece, so I thought that should give him an opportunity to combine his knowledge with creativity. He went for it and spent a long time writing, over an hour. He pulled out Mythlopedia, for source material, and then he kept commenting how he's mixing up myths. His Medusa was turning everyone to ice and lived in Australia. His Hercules was product of Poseidon and Hera and was imprisoned in Egypt. I got impatient a couple times and was ready to interrupt him and ask him to move onto the next activity, but he kept on writing. Fortunately, a friend of mine shared a blog entry that she saw, which reminded me that only by putting in this many uninterrupted hours in whatever he's interested in, will I see quality results. So I let him be. When he finished, he wanted to type it up. That we'll save for tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, 5 yo did handwriting ( letter y), math (we rolled a large foam die and added up numbers on its sides), reading (he asked me to read The Dot, about a child who thinks she cannot draw, so all she does is a big dot) and Purim handout from He read the handout and wrote in most answers, so we got more handwriting/reading practice.

By this point, 5 yo was almost done with his planned activities, while 7 yo still had quite a list to go. He started off on his Purim booklet, which was fill in the blank of the Megillah. He ended up working on that till completion.

Then we had lunch. 7 yo picked Megillah and was involved. We finished second perek. I'm using Artscroll Youth Megillah, so there are definite "edited out" spots. I decided not to explain more than he asks, just that Esther was in a bad position whether Achashverosh picked her or not. He also thought it was nuts that Achashverosh gathered up girls the second time. And, of course, he wanted to know why Bigtan and Teresh were plotting against the king. It's that siyum at the end that he really was after.

Then he did math, which involved measuring weight and volume. I do not have a metric scale ( gasp), so I had hard time explaining grams and kilograms. I'm a bit worried that he will think the relationship between them is similar to pounds and ounces. Volume involved cups and quarts. I pulled out measuring cups and let him pour water at the sink and measure away, while 5 yo did ktiva and Yesh Lanu Lama.

7 yo was not happy when 5 yo finished all his work and he still had a few things left to do. 5 yo asked to watch TV, I said yes, but then he decided to wait for his brother. 7 yo had to do those Purim sentences, this time to copy them in Hebrew. He decided that he does not want to organize them by pesukim first, then put them in order and then copy. I said, fine, do it whichever way, but you do need to copy them. He thrashed around for a bit. 5 yo went downstairs to watch TV, which did motivate 7 yo to start working. This time he did organize the cards first. When he was copying them, he paraphrased a few to make them shorter. Mother necessity, where would we be...

By the time he finished, 5 yo woke up, so we went to a new bakery for siyum. The boys chose frozen yogurt, which was half off. I got myself a cup of tea. The boys declared that place to be fancy. Afterwards, it was gymnastics, followed by a library run, mostly to return DVDs and pick up items on hold. I told boys, one book out only. 7 yo went to the computer with the catalog, he wanted another Mythlopedia book. Mysteriously, they were shown to be in library, but were not on the shelves. We even got the librarians involved. Meanwhile, 2 yo made friends and was busy climbing onto library benches, giggling loudly. I just grabbed her and ran. So much for a quick in-and-out visit.

One of the hold items was Beethoven's Wig 4. It is classical music with witty words sang to it, usually introducing the composer and the nature of the piece, too. Unfortunately, now I cannot listen to those pieces without singing the words in my head.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


We had Purim carnival today. My husband was around, so that went smoothly. The kids got to eat ice pops in freezing weather while watching a bearded lady offer kisses for money. We went last year, too. A couple days ago, 7 yo asked me why are there police at the parade. I answered that they are there to direct traffic, so people can walk safely in the street. He goes, I thought they were there to prevent bad guys from hurting people in the parade. My bad.

This afternoon was 7 yo's first drumming lesson. He has been asking since the summer to take up drumming, but I could not imagine squeezing that into the schedule together with school and homework. I wanted to see some real interest and persistence. I also explained that learning an instrument will require practice. He agreed to it all. So I finally went ahead and found him a teacher. I also mercifully was able to leave the other two kids home, so it was just me, watching. He was very into it, all excited. He followed the rhythm, wanted to know the names of all drums/cymbals and what each pedal does and how does it all work. The teacher, a young guy in business school, was cool letting him experiment a bit and then teaching a bit. My son is a leftie, so learning how to start off with right hand does not come naturally to him. So there is a lot to work on here. Now I need to get him drum sticks for practice. His teacher said that he can practice drumming on the comforter or pillows (thank G-d, I am not ready to invest in a drum set yet or to put up with din). On the way back, he kept telling me how much fun it was and how excited he is about it. Now, he is not the one naturally overflowing with gratitude, but, when conditions are right, it happens.

I am grateful that I can give him this opportunity. I will need to work hard not to project my unfortunate encounter with piano practice onto his joy. I did not choose piano, we had one growing up and you could not waste a perfectly good piano without somebody practicing on it. The only problem was, I did not hear any mistakes that I made, so practice quickly deteriorated into torture. So I am cautions about musical instrument playing.

We are also on the second perek of megillah. He realized how long it is, and wanted to figure out how to cut perek short and still get a siyum. We read five pesukim, and then he stopped. I said that we could read some in the morning and some at night. He seemed to like that. I have to see whether the desire to finish the perek outweighs the resistance to reading.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Starbucks siyum

Got up late, for us. It was after 7.  By 9, we were all dressed and breakfasted. They boys davened. 5 yo started with Rosetta Stone: nothing like a little competition for the computer with your older brother to serve as motivation. 7 yo read history from Story of the World. I know that it is meant to be read to a child, but he's nicely reading it by himself. I printed out a map of the Middle East and we marked off Fertile Crescent, Lower and Upper Egypt ( he really liked that they are upside down), Babylonia and Assyria. He also colored in the seas of the region.

Then he went to do Rosetta Stone while 5 yo did Yesh Lanu Lama ( body parts) and ketiva. Today he told me which words to write in which blanks, but the body parts he labeled by himself. I had to restrain him from starting on the next letter.

7 yo came up to do megillah. We finished first perek. He read each pasuk in Hebrew from Artscroll Youth Megilah and then we translated together. He remarked how Achashverosh's law sounded dumb, something that people already knew. Then he asked for a small siyum. I suggested walking to Starbucks; I needed shredded cheese from local kosher grocery. The weather was gorgeous today, so it was a nice little outing. At Starbucks, 5 yo turned around and thanked me for taking them out. Those little spontaneous moments of appreciation make my heart melt.

On the way back, a ladybug landed on my glasses. 7 yo took it off and tried carrying it home, but it bit him and flew away. 5 yo found some beetles on the sidewalk. We stopped by our frost-bitten magnolia and noted how new leaves were forming, even though all blooms were brown and shriveled.

I put up noodles for lunch, and boys did math. 7 yo practiced multiplication of 4s, 5s and 6s. 5 yo worked on even-odd and comparing numbers. 7 yo was checking 5 yo's work; free reinforcement. While the noodles were still boiling, 5 yo brought out weaving board to make a trivet. He started on one a while back, but could not get the weaving part. This time, after making a woven place mat in homeschooling coop, he succeeded. He only put in one loop, but he got the hang and the coordination of alternating under-over.

During lunch, 7 yo suddenly asked why do we remove chametz( leaven) from our houses and not, say, logs for Pesach. I tried answering as quickly as I could, but I wish I would have saved it for a more in-depth, calmer discussion.

Then I read Bill Nye book about germs to both boys. 5 yo read to me The Shape of Me. Then 7 yo did sentences from the megillah, this time I asked him to put them in order of the story. He resisted a bit, but did it in the end. I asked whether he wants to write them down in order now and he said no. We agreed to do it tomorrow. Looks like another overscheduled Friday coming up.

Then 7 yo did a description of a photo from National Geographic. he got 4-5 sentences. I explained that a good description allows people to imagine what the picture is like without seeing it. I also tried introducing a more formal voice, but it might be a bit too hard for him.

5 yo finished handwriting and then I decided to try spelling. I used Spelling Power, just started at the lowest level. I was nicely surprised that he willingly followed along, and got all words right except for that. He wrote dat. Might be my darn Russian accent confusing him...

5 yo reminded me to check on our beans, I put it on the schedule, but completely forgot. Some have molded, but some are growing roots and one even put out leaves. We also checked on the ones in paper towel, there we got nice fat roots and fuzzy root hairs.

Looking forward to taking everyone out to Botanical Gardens this afternoon.