Monday, April 28, 2014


We played a few rounds of Bananagrams with 10 yo. He always ends up being a rotten banana: parts of words hanging, made-up words, misspelled words. I noticed that 8 yo kept stopping him and correcting his words. 8 yo does not play; too much pressure. I kept talking up how he seems to be quite good at spelling now and he might want to give it a try. He reluctantly agreed with me. He made a bunch of three letter words, and it was hard adding other words to them. I stopped my game and helped him out. He breathed a sign of relief when we used up all the letters in his pile.

Today, I told the boys that we are going to restart doing Chumash ( I took a break during Pesach). 8 yo said that we have mainly not been doing anything, so it is time to start a lot of other things. I asked him, what else? He said: spelling.

I almost fell over.

Then there was an evening game of Bananagrams. I could not play with both boys at the same time, and 1 yo was very cranky and very ready to go to sleep. Bottom line, I messed it up badly, by totally creaming all involved parties ( including my husband). 10 yo was on 8 yo's team, and 8 yo was in tears. When I finished, he said that he's so bad at this, so bad.

And then he swiped across the table and scattered the tiles.

10 yo had no problem scrambling all his tiles mid-game and coming up with this monstrosity
I am not holding my breath for spelling for tomorrow. But now I have evidence that he at least knows when the word looks right and when it needs to be fixed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

diet fads

Low fat.
Low carb.
Low sugar.
Raw food.
Natural cleanse.
Extreme challenge diet.

Everywhere I look, everyone proclaims that they are following one of these or the other. Sometimes people start on one and then switch another restrictive diet. A lot of my friends are doing one of these in addition to keeping kosher, which is already restrictive of food choices.

When you ask the majority why they are doing it, true allergic reactions aside, the answer is, invariably: to feel better. I was not feeling so great, but ever since I _________(fill in the blank), I feel so much better. This is followed by a string of Facebook posts how this new diet is THE WAY to go, and a new way of life, and there is no turning back. If only the rest of the world would follow, then we could all feel better and be in a better place.

I have been noticing another trend: usually the people who produce the most ruckus about the new way of life and how good they feel are not satisfied with the new amount of food restrictions down the road. A few weeks (months, years) later, they find a need to take on yet another diet, this one more restrictive than the previous one. Also, most of the people who end up dropping the diet do so quietly (with the exception of a few very honest ones).

Yet a  third trend emerges: instead of examining why one is not feeling well, and what is this feeling of discomfort all about, it is much easier to jump in head first and manipulate food choices. Your child is not behaving? Must be all this sugar/gluten/dye. Your spouse is not listening to you and falling asleep in the middle of conversation? Must be that meat/dairy. You feel uncomfortable? Why not do a food cleanse?

What if the reason the child is acting out has to do with you always wishing him out of your hair? What if the reason your spouse is so tired has to do with his sleeping habits and late TV watching? What if your discomfort has to do with existential questions which will surface sooner or later? What if you realize that you are nowhere near as good of a person as you want to believe yourself to be? What if you are dissatisfied with your life? What if all this calls for is a long hard look at what you are doing, how you are behaving, and where are you going?

Ooh, this is hard. Much harder than jumping on the most recent food trend, shaking up the pantry, foisting a new life onto grumbling family and proclaiming yourself to be "all better".

All of this is the biggest reason why I have not tried gluten-free diet with 8 yo. I have not tested him, and I have no reason to think that he has a sensitivity. But I know my child: he lives on bagels, and he loves his bagels. Taking them away in the name of better behavior is likely to cause major meltdowns in the short-term and major manipulation in the long term. I know other kids his age who are supposedly gluten-free. Most of them gorge up on gluten any chance they get outside of their parents' watchful eyes.

So we do not do any diet. We keep kosher, the original G-dly plan for proper behavior and healthy eating. I try to limit sugar, and artificial flavors, but I also know that childhood is made up of spontaneous ice cream runs, which will contain all of those. I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup. I try to avoid high fat food. But I will not make a tragedy out of eating any of these.

And you know what? My kids are not overweight. My kids are active, happy and healthy with a full range of food. Whichever behavioral issues that we are having have to do with much deeper issues than what goes into their mouths. It's what comes out of their mouths that gets me worried.

Friday, April 18, 2014

hard baby

This last week, I finally said it out loud: my baby is a hard baby! I don't know why it took me so long, but there it is, for all to see. I am not a terrible mother, I just have a tough kid.

Actually, I know why it took me so long: after I had my second boy, after those first two years when he did not sleep through the night despite our best efforts, after running myself crazy, after waiting for him to talk in vain hope that once he can express himself it will get easier, and after telling my husband that I cannot have another kid like this, I might as well face it: 1 yo is most similar in personality to 8 yo.

I probably should be grateful that he does not walk yet, because he will not walk, he will be running. He is pulling off the tablecloth. He is unloading every single cabinet and drawer, for the sheer pleasure of dumping and making noise. He opens the drawers in my childproof kitchen that my daughter never did. (When 8 yo was a baby, we were in a different apartment and I have the whole kitchen gated). He makes a mad dash for the bathroom the second the door opens. He dives off objects, head-first. He takes off on the playground, across cement. He dumps whole buckets of toys. He even tantrums when he cannot get something.

He is 13 months old. He is not even a toddler yet. And he still does not fully sleep through the night. For a while I used to beat myself up about getting up to nurse him, but that beat him yelling and waking up his siblings. Besides, he does not have the same schedule every day, so he does not always get to take all his naps in his crib at the exactly same time. And I do drink coffee, to be functional in the morning. Then I often find myself crashing towards afternoon, so I have some more caffeine. Then the baby does not sleep, so I end up upping my caffeine, to cope. And so it goes.

Actually, I survived college and grad school without drinking any coffee. Having my second boy turned me into a caffeine addict that I am now.

Oh, and I drank all the caffeine I wanted while pregnant and nursing my daughter, but she was sleeping through the night.

I used to say that the baby is at "go with the flow" schedule, but we are hitting a point where he very clearly might not be thriving this way. He is having hard time with Pesach, his favorite foods being Ritz crackers and oatmeal. I have been mixing boiling water into shmura matzo meal, and then adding yogurt and smoothie to that. He has not been thrilled with the rest of the food, either. I sort of do not remember others having such issues. Then there is my 8 yo, rigidly telling me how much he is not enjoying Pesach, his lack of morning bagel, and all those additions to davening and benching.

Here I am, looking squarely at another potentially difficult child. I wish I could "nip it in the bud", apply some magical formula, consult with the experts, and not go down that rabbit hole. I wish this one was obedient, or a listener. Instead, I have a headstrong kid, who already wants to be like his older siblings, and who clearly knows what he wants and does not want and is not shy about it.

I can spend the time hiding under the blankets, closing my eyes, pretending that this is not happening. I can spend the time bemoaning and pitying myself for having all these difficult to control kids.What I can do is embrace my child's personality rather than spend time molding him into somebody else.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

running on empty

I used to be one of those people who never let the car go beyond 1/4 tank before filling up. I could not even understand why would anyone need that little light; wouldn't you know that you are almost out of gas? Why do you need that warning?

But this was all a long time ago, before kids, or before so many kids, or before so many life knocks, or before I mellowed out, or before I became irresponsible...

I was driving with the boys the other day, taking them to a Shakespeare Tavern for a free homeschooling performance of Shakespearean language, when that gas light went on. Again. Since I was downtown, and we were running very close, as usual, I just assumed that the light just went on, as opposed to being on for miles and I did not notice. I calculated: I must have enough gas to get us there, and back, so I drove on.

The most crazy experience about almost running out of gas happened last year, when I was driving to the Torah Home Educators conference. I was driving with a friend and we were chatting. I was also driving my husband's car, which used to be mine before I needed a van to transport all the kids. As we are hitting downtown Washington, I casually remarked, hey, what's that orange light on the dashboard? It did not take me long to figure out that it is gas light. I panicked; we were far from northern VA where there are gas stations in the suburbs. We pulled off on the first exit, in a scary neighborhood, and I was frantically pumping gas with the car doors closed, ready to bolt at anything suspicious.

Would you believe that we ran out of gas again on the same trip? Scatterbrained, that's what I am becoming.

But this time I was thinking, this whole running on empty is the new story of my life. There are ways to plan so that you do not run out of gas, and there are strategies to implement once you are out of gas, and lights are flashing, but everyone agrees that stalling because you are totally out of gas is a really bad idea. In fact, when you stall, you need outside help, whether to call AAA or to get a canister and fill up your car, but it is impossible to do it yourself any more.

Rationally, logically I understand that I need to move back towards being aware when the tank is getting low, and when it is time to drop everything and get over to the gas station, because it will be impossible to get to that next thing without any gas in your car. Rationally, I understand that the way I am doing things is just too much, even if this "too much" is my subjective overload and "others can handle a whole lot more". But I keep finding myself running on empty.

As this Shabbos was ending, I remarked to my husband how I do not find it rejuvenating any more. I do not cook for it excessively, I do not serve in an elaborate manner, and I do not entertain on a grand scale. My husband has been kindly taking the older kids to shul on Shabbos morning while 1 yo naps, so technically I have this whole little chunk of time for myself to read, think, drink a cup of coffee in peace and quiet, daven. Yet, despite this very nice and important gesture, I do not come out of Shabbos with my tank filled up and revved for the week. In fact, I feel that the burden of what I have to do after Shabbos starts weighing on me way before Shabbos is over. I start wishing kids to bed, so I can do dishes? Start laundry? Worry whether my husband will round on some patients and I will be cleaning up on my own? One Saturday night my mother called at around 10 pm and asked whether we can get a babysitter and go out. We laughed ruefully: it is too late for us to go out, not to mention that the thought of trying to round up a hypothetical babysitter is enough to weigh down the whole proposition. Going out was the farthest thought from my mind at that time.

Every day I feel exhausted. Every day I find myself reaching for a late afternoon cup of coffee, just to get through the rest of the evening, through the drive to taekwondo and back, through dinner, through bedtime. Every day, when the kids are in bed, other obligations crowd in. Every day I look around in desperation at piles of books which are not being put away, my clothes crumpled on the dresser, winter clothes which need to be switched for summer ones, unmowed lawn, dirty floors, unprinted pictures, untouched watercolor, expired pottery certificates. I am not keeping up with the day's work, I find myself cleaning up yesterday's mess today instead of anticipating tomorrow's mess and reducing its impact.

I am looking forward to Pesach as a great reset. Both of my boys were born around Peach, a time of new beginnings. I like having Yom Tov with the ability to cook.  I like that all outside obligations will have to take a backseat for over a week.

Or will they?

I have made two appointments for 8 yo to see a phychologist: one for tomorrow, erev Pesach, and one for chol hamoed, in hope that after these two, she will be able to give me some feedback on what she sees and how we should proceed. I have invited the only pesach company for Shabbos lunch and first lunch of the last days, but I need to shop and cook for those meals, probably shop on Thursday and cook on Friday. I want to take Thursday of Chol Hamoed to take kids out somewhere nice, somewhere where we have not gone in a while. I will need to decide whether not taking boys to taekwondo the whole week is a wise idea, or will 8 yo bounce off the walls without it? Oh, and I timidly wanted to schedule a massage for myself somewhere in there, as a little treat for making yom tov.

I want to enter Pesach feeling free, feeling liberated. I want to feel freedom. How much of my imprisonment is of my own doing?

There is a concept of "kotzer ruach", shortness of breath which prevented Jewish people from listening and believing Moshe. This shortness of breath was the result of hard labor. What is astonishing is that the Jews were so focused on their shortness of breath that they were unable to receive the message of liberation from the very cause of their suffering! I do not want to be stuck in my personal Egypt because I do not take a minute to breathe and to listen.

For now, I need to go back and refill my car, because the tank is still empty. What should I be putting in my tank?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Torah Home Education Conference

It is coming up!

I have gone the previous two years and I am bummed out, as this year it is not likely that I can attend. If you are interested in homeschooling, or if you are just getting started, or if you have been doing it for years and want to talk shop, or just to have a sympathetic ear, this is the place to go!

The conference will take place in tri-state area during Memorial Day weekend.

Interested in educational alternatives for your children?  The original Jewish educational method, homeschooling, is growing and you're invited to learn more at the 2014 Torah Home Education Conference.  There will be speakers talking about finding your homeschool philosophy, how to homeschool special needs children, putting a preschool curriculum together, home education and technology and much more.   Potential and currently homeschooling families welcome.  A kosher lunch and child care will be available.  More information and registration at

Monday, April 7, 2014

my homeschooling style

It took me a few years, but I think I finally settled down on a homeschooling style. It will give all the newly-minted homeschool moms jitters: how can you go through all this time and NOT KNOW which way you are planning to educate your kids? They think that if you have been doing it for a while, which usually means longer than they have been doing it, that you have it all figured out.

Drum roll, please...

My homeschool style is "Whatever Works at the Moment". I think I will patent it and hand it out to people on a little card. Maybe "Fly by the Seat of Your Pants" sounds better, but then people will assume that I wear pants. But, seriously, some days it is structured, and some days it is a total free-for-all. 

I stayed up late last night writing up a rough schedule for today. My assistant was supposed to be coming, so I was planning on taking the older kids to paint some pottery for Pesach (with a Groupon, of course), and then I was going to come home and take the baby to his physical therapy evaluation. I even asked my assistant to stay a bit longer, so that I would have time to get back.

This morning, it was very stormy. I also arose at 6 am, not of my free will, to discover that the mini sump pump that pumps water from the perimeter of the house and prevents it from being flooded is not working and the alarm is blaring. So, using whichever brainpower I had sans caffeine, I saw that the power was off and the battery ran down. The pressure to prevent the basement from flooding was enormous. Thankfully, once I flipped the breaker switch and reset the system, the pump started churning again. I felt like I could sit down and start drinking right then and there. Oh, and my husband was on call overnight, so I figured I have to give this thing a good shot before calling him because what is he going to do, from miles away?

After this little event, I was in no rush to bring in the kids for breakfast, except for baby. When they finally came up and opened the blinds, they were treated to a view of a giant puddle right in the middle of out front lawn. Immediately, 9 yo got dressed and got his rain gear on; he just had to go out there exploring. A homeschooling friend just posted about how not every activity will have a tangible result and I knew that the only tangible results I will see are the mud puddles in the entryway.

When he did come back, I heard how he examined the overflowing pit, saved earthworms from a certain death down the sewer, even looked at the rain gauge (2 1/2 inches overnight). I knew that on some level, going out there, into this storm was very important to him. 

His brother did not follow so quickly. He probably would have stuck with the list, but now he felt that he had to match his brother.

When it was time to daven, 7 yo threw a fit about too much noise from the rain. An excuse? A real disturbance? I don't know, but I was working pretty hard on getting the baby to nap before his appointment. Then I got a text that my assistant's daughter is sick, so she is probably not going to make it. Scratch painting pottery and try to figure out what to do with the older kids during the appointment. 9 yo did his chumash (we started on Vayeshev). He asked me why in one pasuk Yakov is called Yakov and in the next, Israel. I explained the possible national significance of what is happening. Rashi did not comment on that. Then he did Lashon HaTorah and filled in 10 blanks for his mishna teacher. His last activity was to clean out two utensil drawers in the kitchen for Pesach. He did it, too quickly, so I had to encourage him to do it better.

7 yo told me that he is worried about Lashon HaTorah. Then he said he is worried about Chumash. Then he moped. Then he yelled. Then he did Lashon HaTorah, as long as he wrote 7 lines and I wrote 7. I thought we would finish with this partial writing business by now, but we do whatever works.

Then he refused to do Chumash, and I felt all my patience wearing thin. Then I got a text that my assistant is surely not making it. As I was trying to feed lunch to 4 yo and the baby before heading out, I got a call that my MIL will not be making it to watch kids later duirng tae kwon do. Ok, scratch all the plans, be flexible, deal with it,

We drove to the appointment. In the good news, chances are that my son is only a month or so delayed, so hopefully it means no therapy is necessary. I did not like the therapist: she kept talking how her daughter walked late. My kids walk late too; I am not concerned about that, I am concerned about the way he holds his foot and how he's not cruising. Then she said, it is probably not CP (cerebral palsy) since he can flex his foot so well. Then asked me about tremors and said that she possibly saw one when he threw the ball. I only saw a baby who was very excited to throw a ball. She started mentioning seizures, which he does not have... I feel that she was the anxious mother's nightmare. 

But she also said something interesting: since 4 yo came along, she was very interested in all the toys and was building a wall with the giant blocks. She said how people bring in their kids and they need to get tested on whether they can stack up blocks and then the mother says: but he's never played with blocks before, so it is a good idea to have all the necessary equipment at home. Apparently, even in PT evaluation there is a need to "teach to the test". We have come far.

In the meanwhile I am getting a phone call from the boys. They served themselves lunch (graham crackers and peanut butter) and now they want to watch TV. I asked whether all the kitchen drawers were done and they said, um, no....

When I got home just a few minutes later, I sent them back for some baby carrots, to round off their lunch. 9 yo finished his half of the drawers, but his brother resisted. Eventually, it boiled down to him not being sure how to do these drawers, so we did them together. Then he really wanted to watch TV with his older brother but we still had to do Chumash. I took a deep breath. I poured myself a cup of tea. I snuggled with him on the couch. I offered options. I was patient. He absolutely refused. When he believes he cannot do it, nothing on this fine earth will make him do it. His new scream: I do not belong in this world. 

I ran out of my patience. Maybe if I had my assistant, maybe if he did not throw fits earlier, maybe if 9 yo would not have gone outside, maybe if I was annoyed at going to the not-so-helpful therapist, I could have tapped into larger reserves of patience. But instead I felt like hitting him over the head. 

It is almost time for tae kwon do. We will not be going next week because of Pesach, and the boys might need this workout today. The baby is sleeping, but I hope he awakes on his own. My husband will probably not make it back in time to pick up the boys, so I will need to scheme and figure out something to do with the littles while the boys train. The nearby park is wet. It is too early in the week for farmer's market. The baby will not sit still in Starbucks if I decide to get 4 yo a hot chocolate.

Yes, this is "whatever works" homeschooling.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The whole year we drink mostly water, with some juice on Shabbos and an occasional can of soda that daddy brings home. Some kids drink milk in the morning, but for some reason, as we approach Pesach, in addition to "what are we going to eat?" we also have "what are we going to drink?" Those KFP Coke display beckon in every grocery store, showcasing phosphoric acid and sugar (hey, at least it is sugar and not corn syrup). One year I got a few bottles of this Coke. One of them still hung around in the summertime. When we opened it, it was completely flat and undrinkable. Lesson learned: we just do not need to spend money on these.

So, what are we going to drink?

First of all, there is water, good ole plain water. Throw a few ice cubes in it, put a dollar-store pitcher on the table, let kids go at it with permanent marker and you've got a drink. At least it is not blood.

Then, there is seltzer. Plain unflavored seltzer is kosher without needing additional Pesach supervision. Your local grocery probably has it for less that soda, and it is healthier for you.

Those two can be your base. Now you can get all fancy: float a lemon in your water. Or mint. Or cucumber, Add some frozen berries to seltzer right before serving. Make your own lemonade: squeeze some lemon juice (can be done on yom tov) or pour ReaLemon juice (also does not need special hechsher), add sugar, stir, add water, taste and adjust. Make iced tea: make two cups of strong tea, add sugar, then add water and ice to taste.

Your kids want juice? Did you know that Kirkland brand apple juice has OU-P? That makes it cheap and readily available. Tropicana also has a special Pesach run of orange juice, the containers are marked, but if you live in a jewish area, they tend to go quickly.

There are frozen juices that you reconstitute with water that are also kosher le'pesach, but I never buy them, so I cannot vouch if they are worthwhile.

Of course, you can make your own juice and drink that.

Raise your glass!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

on going to school

On Friday, I had a conversation with my sister about kids and she asked me, point-blank, wouldn't 9 yo be better off in school? I said that he does not want to go, but I figured it would be better to ask him directly.

As we were coming back from taekwondo, just the two of us (7 yo exhausted himself throwing a fit over reading a pasuk which took him two minutes to read, but one hour to be anxious about), I said:
"Would you want to go to school, where you would have normal teachers who get a full night of sleep and do not scream at you all the time?"
"No, I do not want to go."
"Even if you end up stuck with a mommy who is going crazy?"
"Yes, I much rather have mommy. School is not bad, but once you have homeschooling, you cannot go back. It is like trading a piece of paper for a lollipop. Would you trade a lollipop back for a piece of paper?"
"But wouldn't there be nice things about school?"
"No, I cannot do well with only half an hour of recess. It is not enough time outside."
"But you have not gone outside the whole day today!"
"Yes, but when I come home, I have a choice of going outside right away."

Then, abruptly switching topics, we found ourselves describing the forces acting on water inside a waterspout. He wanted to know how the water droplets manage to rise up instead of being flung out from spinning. I was just playing along, hoping that whichever explanations were coming to mind were sound. Next thing I know, he is talking about putting a water cannon on top of a highest mountain and shooting water out with such force that it "keeps on missing the ground. I have a science brain, mommy, not math nerdy brain."

I do not know exactly what kind of brain you have, dear child, but it is a thinking brain.

unusual veggies

Pesach, and the vegetable everyone thinks about (and rolls their eyes): potatoes. Well, it does not have to be this way.

Today we tasted daikon at a friend's house. She just had it sliced on a platter, laid out with min-peppers. Even my picky husband liked it. Voila, it is making it on my menu. It is a type of radish, but the taste is mild and watery, more like asian pear.

Another veggie which can also be eaten raw is jicama. I saw a fellow teacher eating it for lunch back in Houston and I tried it and liked it. There are recipes for jicama salads and slaw, but it can be eaten just as is, peeled and sliced.

Next two veggies are not so far out there, but they have a reputation of being too funky. I am talking about beets and kale. Both require a bit more prep, but both are worth it, just for contrast of color and nutritional punch compared to potatoes.


Golden beets
Scrub them well, them put them in a pan covered with foil. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and wrap them tightly in foil. Roast at 400 for an hour, longer if the beets look large. Let them cool for an hour still wrapped up, then unwrap and the skins will slip right off. You can slice them or dice them and eat them as they are, or toss them with salt, pepper, olive oil, a drizzle of wine vinegar, and some herbs. Some scallions go well with them too. Also a bit of sweetness from honey or a spoonful of sugar adds a nice touch. Don't stop at red beets, they also come in golden color and make for an attractive mix.


It could be a bit intimidating, but I tasted a great kale salad at the same friend's house who served daikon today and I was hooked ever since. The trick is to wash it well and rinse a bunch of times, and to remove the tough stems. My kids like kale chips: preheat oven to 275, spread kale in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray (or toss with oil), then sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the leaves are crisp. These chips are seriously addictive, especially straight out of the oven, when they are the crispest.

There is also massaged kale salad. I originally got the recipe from, but I do not see it there any more. It is really yummy, and I got special requests for this one ( unfortunately, not from my family, they just want kale chips).

Happy exploration in the veggie aisle! What's your favorite unusual vegetable?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

why I haven't called

Dear mom,

You have been upset with me lately for not calling when I have time. So I would like to share my day with you, perhaps, in an effort to better understand each other.

It started at 6:30, with the baby waking up. Truthfully, it started at 3 am when the baby woke up to nurse, but we'll attribute that little lapse  to nighttime and start in the morning. The older kids went with my husband to shul, and I got myself and the baby dressed and fed by 8 am, so we could drive over to Office Depot and make photocopies for Battles and Weapons class that I am teaching in the coop. When I got there, their system was under maintenance, but, luckily, I was still able to xerox what I needed. I am sure that I should have planned this better, but yesterday my computer shut down and I could not even access the file. At least it resurrected itself last night at 11, so I was able to get the file onto flash drive before it would not wake up again.

By the time I came home, it was close to 9. My husband went to work and I sat down to do chumash with 7 yo. He read two new pesukim, asked me why is Hashem talking to himself ("Should I hide from Avraham what I am about to do?"), and then asked me how did Moshe know to write this down if it happened before he was born. I thought these were terrific questions, showing true engagement with the text. Then I packed up the diaper bag and the bag of materials for the Battles and Weapons class. I spent some time researching a new trampoline net, as the kids tore the one that we had apart and it is not safe any more. Soon, it was almost 10, the baby woke up, and we had to leave for the coop.

We got there a whole five minutes early, which means that I even got a chance to get onto the playground and exchange a few pleasantries with other moms. Then it was time for the kids to go to their classes and for me to go to toddler room. The baby was fine in there, but something bugged 4 yo, as she left her class twice and came to me. I worked it out with her and led her back.

During the short recess, I strapped the baby to the stroller and finally got to use the bathroom. It is funny how those things are so hard to accomplish all of a sudden.

Then it was time to teach my Battles class about Zulus. Even though I prepared, and I found the subject matter fascinating, I do not think that I communicated enough of that to my students. Some of them were even bored. Some of them (my 9 yo) already read all my source material and could not keep their mouth shut long enough for me to steer the discussion in order to engage other kids. 7 yo predictably threw a fit about having to label Zulu spear. It is called iklwa, after the sucking sound that it made as it was removed from a lifeless enemy corpse.

Then I gathered the class materials, gathered the kids, gathered the baby, gathered the diaper bag and headed out to the park. Normally we do not stay for park day, but today I wanted to take advantage of the nice warm weather. I also needed to kill about twenty minutes of time before I had to head back. So when the time was up, I gathered the kids one more time, and then I remembered about the box of granola bars left in the car. Pesach is coming, these bars are chametz, and another homeschool parent was collecting non-perishable snacks to take to the men in the immigration detention center. They need to eat as they get deported. So I dropped off the bars and we went in the direction of home. Really tired baby fell asleep. But we did not go home, we went to a local deli to pick up a platter for a house of mourning. I knew that I could not go in and help cover the mirrors this time, but I knew that we could deliver some food. So I divided it up among the kids: you carry a bag of bagels, you carry cream cheese, and you hold the door for me as I maneuver with the platter.

Then we finally got home. The baby woke up from his too-short nap. I fed them lunch. I tried getting the baby back to sleep, but it did not work. So we went to pick up more Pesach supplies. First we stopped off in the local grocery for foil pans. They had a terrific deal on string cheese, so I got a pack of that. Then we headed over to Costco. There was a lot of traffic and some construction, so it took us much longer to get there. As we were driving, I got messages about kosher food coop delivery: it is on time, between 5 and 6 pm; no, it is delayed, now it is between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. And I got a call from my mother-in-law; I asked her to come in and watch the kids while I will be picking up my order. She was at my house, but we were on the way to Costco. I asked her to stick chicken in the oven, so now we would have dinner when we would be done. The baby fell asleep again, and so did 4 yo. I had to wake them both when we got to Costco. We did it pretty quickly, as the list was not so long. 9 yo started sulking; I talked him into this afternoon by promising as much DS till 5 pm as he wanted, so the faster we moved, the more DS time he was supposed to get. Now it was past 4. I told him that I will extend his DS time.

When we finally got home, the kids helped me unload the car and I got a message from the coop that the delivery is back to regular time, which means that I jump the car and go to pick up my and my friend's order.  The coop was supposed to deliver yesterday, but she does not live locally, so she could not get over here on time. Over there, I go back and forth over the missing meat for my friend, but, finally, it is not there. I have a car full of Pesach food, back seats folded down. I have close to 50 pounds of brisket, which I proceed to weigh out on my front lawn using a bathroom scale. It is frozen in plastic bags. It is literally a side of a cow. There were supposed to be 6 bags, but instead we got four. My kids still have not had dinner, despite my numerous requests to just sit down and eat. As I finally sit them down, people are coming to pick up their orders, and pleasantries are exchanged again. Everyone rolls their eyes as we distribute the meat, and everyone is understanding how it should have been 6 bags, but now it is four. I have food from Costco, food from dinner, food for Pesach, chicken that I planning to make for Shabbos and it is all on my head, now. Oh, and I have my Pesach food to pick up from others.

I ask kids to get pajamas on, buy they do not listen. I lose it when 7 yo bounces a big exercise ball that I inflated in vain hope of getting baby to walk onto a dining room table, spilling a large cup of my father-in-law's tea. There is a puddle, spreading onto 9 yo math that he never cleaned up from the morning. The tea leaves are on the table and on the floor, and I am sopping up the mess with the towel, holding the baby with another hand and yelling like a maniac for kids to GET INTO BED NOW! I also take away DSs for good.

Oh, and 9 yo confesses that part of the reason he has been spacey today was because he was awake from 1 am to 3 am. I wonder if that explains his clothes all over the floor, or the weapons book he left in the bathtub because he was reading in there.

Finally, my friend pulls up, her kids also tired, also screaming, and we load up her order. I pick up some of the mess in the living room, just enough to walk.

My friend calls, the one that I would love to talk to, but we only have 15 minutes, because we are both on the committee meeting for our high school which is about to start. Then I don my alumnus hat and go into phone meeting where I am being told that my committee has to meet again before Pesach and make some headway.

My sink is full of dishes. My husband is on call. Tomorrow I am setting up another shiva house with the kids, because people tend to die when they die, and not when it is convenient. The laundry is somewhere in the process of being washed, not because I want to, but because I ran out of bibs. I am also suspicious that I am washing a load that I already washed, only it did not get put away...

I have been busy, dear mother.

Talk to you later.