Thursday, January 16, 2014

a great day

Today was such a good day, that it would be a disservice not to share it. There were almost tantrums, and almost meltdowns, and, as I am typing this, my kitchen is a mess and I have not made anything for shabbos, and my husband is dealing with ectopic (translation: reinforcements not arriving any time soon), but the day was lovely.

We did schoolwork in the morning. 9 yo did division with remainders, a story from S'fateinu about Tu BShvat, mishna with his rebbi and chumash. We are reviewing Vayetze, and we are almost done. 7 yo did math (review of addition with regrouping), chumash (Bright Beginnings), spelling ( copy the names of seven types of fruit from Israel both in English and in Hebrew) and S'fateinu.

Then we had friends over for Tu B'Shvat party. The kids made pine cone bird feeders, planted parsley seeds for karpas to use on Pesach, made a few brachot and ate all different fruits. Mostly, they just played, hung out, and had a good time.

After the party was over, 4 yo got out the vacuum cleaner and started cleaning up. She was really trying, and even dragged it from room to room, looking for more things to vacuum. I praised her efforts, even though I knew that I will have to sweep up later. I learned that this sense of doing something useful is more important than critiquing a final result. She will have the rest of her life to learn how to vacuum properly. Now she is learning that vacuuming is fun.

Then the baby went for a nap and I made chocolate chip cookies with 7 yo. He has been asking me for a long time to cook something with him, but every time something came up. Yesterday, when he asked to make a dessert together, I decided to commit firmly. I did not allow other kids join him unless he was interested. Onto the shabbos menu went the cookies. So when it was finally quiet, it was cookie-making time.

This boy really did everything by himself. He read the recipe, collected the necessary ingredients, found measuring cups and spoons and followed the steps. I did not help unless I was asked, and that happened rarely. I helped with the flour, but mostly I kept my mouth shut and just watched. He cracked the eggs. I did not say anything when one of them missed the mixing bowl. He cheerfully cleaned it up and got another. He figured out that three teaspoons make a tablespoon. He molded the first batch, called the beater for licking, and I just marveled at how much he knows about cooking. My 9 yo is still not sure where I keep everything in the kitchen, but this kid knows his way around.

When I saw him reading later on, I gently reminded about Read to Succeed, and how he might want to keep track. He dissolved on the spot: I do not want to go to Six Flags, I cannot read for 6 hours, I cannot write this all down... I calmly suggested keeping track of how long he is reading now, and just write down this little bit. It turned out that he read for 40 minutes (I let him do the calculations), and he had no issues writing this down.

For dinner I had a crockpot stew with quinoa and kale chips. These tend to be touch-and-go, but everyone found some part of dinner that they liked.

After everyone got into pajamas, I sent 7 yo and 4 yo downstairs to clean up the basement. I heard the vacuum cleaner go on, and when they came up, they said it looked good. I reviewed mishna with 9 yo.  Then I put the baby down for the night.

They boys asked to sew. 9 yo saw a design for kimono in one of his history-comes-alive books, so he has been after me to make one. I suggested that he starts with making a doll-sized one, but he was not having it. This time I said that we will start with sewing on a button. It's a skill worth having even if he kimono ambitions do not actualize. I found old shirts of mine and I was planning to cut them into scraps for each kid, when they called the sleeves. I cut the sleeves off and then the boys said that they will sew on the buttons as eyes. Everyone was able to thread their needle. I had to make the knots for them. I showed each one how to sew on a button, and how to make a stem under it. They both sewed on two, and then sewed the ends of the sleeve shut. 7 yo, while sewing said that this is what he wants to learn how to do: to sew and to cook. I have a budding "husband of the year." But the real secret is that my husband sews and cooks, so my boys do not see it as woman's work. 4 yo picked out her buttons, and I sewed them onto her sleeve. It was idyllic, almost out of scene: kids sitting around the table, busily sewing...

When they finished, they showed off their sleeve puppets. All of a sudden they turned into sleeve eels.
Next thing I know, they are night caps.