Thursday, November 29, 2007

I still can't figure out why my last post was so small. I'm curious to see what this one looks like.

Book club book - almost finished. Now I have to decide what food to bring. And prepare or purchase it.

Shoshie and I have been working on crossword puzzles. The Tennessean had the Sunday NY Times and the LA Times puzzles, with solutions, in the paper Sunday. I have almost finished the LA puzzle. I also printed a daily puzzle from the Wash Post. Shoshie worked on that one. She shares my interest in puzzles and games. We do the Jumble almost every morning. Even Noach participates in that. I keep looking for different ways to spice up the homeschooling day.

Every time I blog, I feel the pressure to come up with a clever blog entry title. I may switch to something more prosaic. That should take the stress out of it. I have been pretty faithfully blogging for several weeks now. A technologically-enforced break last week when we didn't have Wi-Fi but otherwise, pretty consistent. PRM

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Font experiment

font nl
Times nl
Courier small
trebuchet nl
verdana nl
georgia nl

Back to homeschooling

We went back to work yesterday. There was less whining than I expected. But the expected amount of dawdling. Kids weren't up until almost 11. It is hard to finish if you start so late.

I spent too much time on the computer, trying to catch up with the too many blogs I read. I also need to read my book club book. The next meeting is tomorrow! I started yesterday afternoon and there is a lot to go.

I began to organize an American History course for Yakov to start in January. I am following some of the online APUSH syllabi. I wish he could take the APUSH exam but he cannot get prepared by this next May. He can certainly do the work.

Biology lab this week is genetics. I can't find a really good online tutorial. And I have too many lab options to choose from. Spongebob genetics vs dragon genetics vs pipestem babies. The choices! The decisions to make! There are worse things. PRM

And why is this post so small?

A few pictures

No gathering is complete without that baby. Here with Aunt Shoshie.

A lot of sitting around, often watching the baby. Here my son, Big E, and my brother.

Yakov and my dad.

"Who is that?" Baby with her mom and my mom, her great grandmother.

The food was good, too, but the company was the best! PRM

Monday, November 26, 2007

Home, at last

We just got home. It was a long drive with frequent rain and two separate episodes of thick fog. I am glad to be home. I feel so much more at ease when I am back in my usual routine, dreary as it may be.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow. PRM

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prep for the bigmeal

I drove the kids to my hometown yesterday so we can spend the weekend with my family. My older brother, his wife and their older daughter and her family will be here as well. Best of all, Big E, my oldest son, will be here with his wife and that BABY we all adore. We spent last evening with them. Today they are driving to Memphis to spend this evening with the Big E's dad and his family. They will be back for the feast tomorrow.

Today my SIL and I will be doing some prep. Her daughter will be here about noon. Kim, my niece, can just get things done. She is awesome.

JP flies in tonight. As do thunderstorms. PRM

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend Roundup

The sock is finished. It is too thick to wear with any of my shoes. I may look for a thinner yarn and knit a pair after Thanksgiving. Maybe after Channuka.

I took my kugel making on the road yesterday to Religious School. The kids helped make the kugel and then they decorated T-shirts for Hannukah while it cooked. Most of them were willing to sample the kugel when it was done. But the adults got the samples with raisins, the better kugel. Few of the kids would eat the raisin kugel. Lucky grown-ups.

Yakov and Shoshie returned from NO shortly before midnight. As always, they had a great time. And were unrested. They spent Sunday doing tzedakah, mowing yards in the 9th Ward. Apparently the city will do yard care for deserted lots but assess an inflated charge. If the landowner doesn't pay, then his property can be repossessed. Y was in the same area of NO 18 months ago and he said it looked different. Where he saw rotting homes, trucks on porches and other signs of devastation previously, he now saw empty lots. An improvement, surely, but not normalcy.

Biology lab later this morning. I vacuumed yesterday and only need to straighten the bathroom and the kitchen. Guess I'll do that now. PRM

Saturday, November 17, 2007

About that sock

I continue to work on it. Especially today. Hours. And hours. But I have turned the heel and am working on the foot. I wish my feet were smaller. And then I have to just do it all again! So cool. I have really enjoyed it.

Yesterday Noach ran a few errands and then I spent 2 or 3 hours getting ready for biology lab on Monday. I will be trying to teach them mitosis and meiosis. They will be able to look at mitotic cells from an onion root tip. I have created some chromosomes to demonstrate both processes. As always I just hope they get something out of the experience.

The religious school kids did the service last night at shul. They did an excellent job. We stayed for the oneg and visited with friends.


Friday, November 16, 2007

A bit of peace and a new project

Yakov and Shoshie got off to New Orleans mid-day yesterday. Not without incident but nothing too serious. Noach and I went to Velocity and came home to do the rather small amount of schooling that occurred yesterday.

I began a new project. I have looked on with envy the last few years as friends sat with their knitting projects and made such cool stuff. And of course, Danna is involved with knitting on another, professional, level. I want to do that, too! So Noach and I took our 40% off coupons to Hobby Lobby yesterday morning and purchased some yarn and knitting needles.

I know how to cast on, knit and purl but that is about the extent of my skills. I searched the internet for instructions to make socks, my goal for now, and found a site that purported to make sock knitting so easy even someone of my limited skills could succeed. How could I resist?

I worked for hours. I cast on, knitted, purled, screwed up and ripped it out. I must have cast on 10 different times. Maybe more. But I kept at it and NOW I have about 1 1/2 inches of sock top done. I'll take a picture when I get a bit more done. My finger tips hurt but it is so worth it! PRM

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crisis time

It was crazy around here last night.

Yakov and his sister are headed to a YJ convention today and Y had not completed all his pre-convention work. This became an issue about 9pm. Not one to take care of things too early, he was in a state by 10pm. And of course, the older computer would not cooperate. And then he gets an email about his participation in the swing band and how they don't think he has been reliable enough.

He does need to develop some better organization skills. And I think the band, largely made up of middle-aged and older men, do not appreciate that Yakov, as a teenager, is not in complete control of his own schedule. When his parents make travel plans, he really doesn't have the choice to opt out and stay home. He loves that band. It is the only one he is in. We have made expensive arrangements for him to be at the next gig. So he is committed. But he is not the most organized.

And sadly, Yakov is nearly impossible to help with issues like this. PRM

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back home

We had a great weekend at Dan Nicholas Park. JP was on call Sat and Sun so the rest of us hung out. I will try a day by day rundown but will probably not finish it tonight. And I will try to add some pictures later.

We left the house about 3pm after the kids and I hooked up the trailer. I drove with Yakov following behind. It took less than an hour to get there. Then we BACKED it into a campsite. Yes, BACKED. Yakov started the process but I finished it. I was so proud that we were able to do it. My being able to back it in is an important skill that I need for a long trip, a long trip we may take next spring.

We had a pleasant Shabbat in the trailer. I baked a challah earlier in the day and we took it with us. The dinner was followed by many games of poker.

JP left very early, about 6am. The rest of us slept until 8:30. Weekday mornings I stay up after he leaves about 7am but as there was really nothing for me to do in the dark in the trailer, I went back to sleep. I needed that sleep.

We left the trailer about noon, after several more games of poker and some Racko. We had a terrible lunch but then we letterboxed Salisbury.There were 2 boxes planted and I had printed out maps to the parks where they were located.
We found them pretty easily. We took Jasper, the letterboxing mutt, with us.

We also went to WalMart to get some forgotten supplies, including a football and soccer ball. They played for a while when we got back to the park but we were run out of the parking lot
when the park closed at 5pm.

We played lots of poker and Racko. The kids fought over the computers where they could watch some movies adn Allison played Muggins with me and I played Connect 4 with her.

The day was much like Saturday. Yakov left to come back home about 2pm. He had some CC school work to do that he could not do without WiFi. Shoshie, Noach and I searched for 2 letterboxes in the park. We found the first one easily but there was no stamp. We could not figure out the clues for the second so we couldn't find it.

The evening was extra fun. After dinner, the two kids and I snuggled on the table/bed with popcorn and watched The Birdcage. The volume we could get was very low so we had to keep close and turn off all other noise. That included the furnace. It was quite chilly by the end of the movie. The French version, La Cage Aux Folles, is much better but the snuggling and popcorn made up for any theatrical weakness.

After breakfast out, we packed up to go home. Everything went well until the sewer hose broke as we were dumping. Fortunately, we were through with the black water. But it was kind of disgusting anyway.

The No Jane Austen Literary Society had their 2nd meeting, and first book discussion, at 3pm at the Kernersville Library. I thought they had a thoughtful, insightful, discussion. There were 6 teens and 3 parents. We parents largely stayed out of the discussion. They made plans for the next 3 months and will be reading some challenging material.

Finally, Noach had a Cub Scout Pack Meeting. Then we were done for the day. And the weekend. PRM

Friday, November 9, 2007

If you want to make me happy,

just take me somewhere or go along with me. I love few things more than travel. It doesn't have to be far or to a fancy place. But GOING makes me happy.

We have been rushing around for the last 24 hours getting ready to take the trailer down to S. where JP will be on call this weekend. The kids and I will keep ourselves busy with fishing(Shoshie), letterboxing, walking and reading. Also, we may go to the NC transportation museum. One of our 1st LBL field trips was there, many years ago.

I will have to drive the trailer with Yakov behind me this afternoon. The scary part is that I may have to back into the campsite when we get there. I am trying to decide whether to take a few minutes to practice in the largely empty parking lot of the recently replaced WalMart. Practice is always good, right?

I do not expect that we will have much internet access while we are gone so I may not be posting again before Monday. I 'll try to remember to take and then post pictures.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What DID we do yesterday?

Must not have been very exciting.

Noach and I played Take Off in the afternoon. He enjoys geography games a lot. Thus I have ordered 10 Days in Africa as a Chanukah gift. I also ordered some other gifts yesterday, t-shirts from Israel, jewelry, other games. Hannukah will be here soon. And I will not be ready. Oh, well.

Well, that was about it for yesterday.

So far today, not much better. Noach is lying on the sofa with a headache and dizzyness. I hope he does not have what I had 2 weeks ago. It was not fun.

New goal - to never spell Chanuka the same way in any post. Each spelling gives me a red underline like I can't spell so I'll just show 'em.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Biology, pizza, and then, engineering

Biology lab went well and very quickly. Two kids were absent and the other 4 just went to work. We were modeling DNA transcription to mRNA and then translation into amino acids. Twizzlers and colored marshmallows were involved. You know, colored marshmallows do NOT taste good. The kids like Twizzlers, though. And I have MANY left over.

University of Utah has the coolest website for DNA information. There are lesson plans and virtual labs. You can replicate DNA and there are visually appealing explanatory sites. It has really been a mother lode for me as I mined for labs and prelab instruction websites for the kids to look at.

After lab, as always, the teens headed outside to socialize. And we moms chatted. Someone mentioned getting pizza on the way home and, the next thing I knew, we were all at ZPizza. I recommended ZPizza because they have generous-sized, cool-ingredient slices at $1.50 for lunch. They were only $1.00 when they first opened but they are a tasty bargain at $1.50. Yakov met us there as he was coming home from GTCC classes.

We had a great time lunching with our friends. Another perk of homeschooling.

I had volunteered to help Noach's Webelo II den meet the requirements for the Engineering activity badge. So off we went to Cub Scouts at 6:30. Shoshie went with me. The boys got to build an electrical circuit with a Dcell battery, lightbulb and on-off switch. They also built a block and tackle and saw how that decreased the energy needed to lift a weight. And, best of all, they built catapults out of shoe boxes and launched marshmallows at the wall, and inevitably, at each other. Nasty tasting colored marshmallows were ideal for this. I even sent some home for boys to launch at their big brothers at home. Good riddance.

It was a good day. PRM

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday morning biology lab

Most Monday mornings, I get up a bit anxious. At 10:30, it is time for biology lab. Six teens, including one of mine, comes into my kitchen and we examine, model, or discover something in biology. My challenge is to find informative and fun stuff to do. There is so much on the web these days that I have largely been able to avoid using any kind of textbook. I also have to keep at least one lab ahead so I can give them material to read before the next lab. Usually I email them web sites to look at before the next lab as well.

They are fun to be around. I really like teens. At least in small groups.

And a large part of my anxiety each Monday am is making my house presentable for company. I have to get the kitchen clean, vacuum the living room for the moms who wait and clean the guest bathroom. It's good to have to do those tasks occasionally as they are often avoided until outside pressure or fear of humiliation supervenes.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Backtracking a bit

Since this is the "Traveling Jews" blog, I thought I would backtrack to our most recent trip. We returned last Sunday night from a week away. This is the view from our hotel window. That is the lake in the background.

At first we were in Chicago. JP was at a meeting and Shoshie, Noach and I wandered the city. This is a picture Shoshie took at the aquarium. That is a cool place. Highly recommended. We went to the planetarium briefly but I was having terrible vertigo and had to go back to the hotel for several hours.

Then we flew to Tampa for the end of the week and the highlight, if I may say so. Somebody had a first birthday. What a beauty! What a sweetie! My son, the Big E, and his wife have given me the BEST grandbaby a bubbe could hope for. I can't wait to see her again. Is that not the sweetest face?

Saturday, November 3, 2007


We tried out the new student Rabbi today. She seems to be very sweet. I have heard that she is a very good teacher and the kids like her.

Of course, it is not the same as with the old Rabbi. Our family really misses him. When we were visiting my MIL
early last month, we drove from Memphis to see him and his wife. Rabbi seemed to have settled in nicely. His wife, perhaps less well. Noach is considering having his Bar Mitzvah in Hot Springs in 20 months. He prefers Arkansas to Israel. I prefer Israel but Arkansas will certainly be cheaper. There are other issues to resolve before we make a committment but Hot Springs remains high on the possible sites.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Movie break!

One of the experiences I miss from homeschooling my teens when they were younger was movie afternoons. We went fairly often. No crowds, often just us. Feet up, munching popcorn. It was fun. We don't do that often enough now. The big kids are going in so many different directions. They also want to see films that are either not appropriate or not appealing to the younger guy.

But today we found a movie we could all see, at least the 3 of us at home. Dan in Real Life. It was fun. Enough goofy romance for the teen girl and enough silliness for the preteen guy.

Shabbat evening tonight and services with the student rabbi tomorrow. PM

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Letterboxing, star gazing and trick or treating - What a day!

We placed 2 new letterboxes yesterday while with our friends. They will be in the Forbidden Forest series. I have to spend some time today writing out the clues from my notes before I post them on the letterboxing sites. My friends will critique my clues before I post.

The best part was checking out our previously placed box. It was so cool to see how many people had found it. There are only 3 logged finds at Atlas Quest but there were many more finds in the logbook. Really exciting.

Noach went trick or treating with his friend whose dad accompanied them. One hour and such a bag of candy. Looks like today will be a hard-to-stay-on-task
school day.

Yakov had to go to the observatory at his CC to fulfill an astronomy assignment last night so his sister and I met him and his girlfriend there. We saw the Holmes Comet, a star cluster and a nebulae, but I can't remember which one. It was cool. I love to go there. They have observations every Friday night that it is not cloudy. But, of course, we are busy on Friday night and can rarely go. There is nothing like looking at the sky to remind you of the majesty and power of G-d but there is nothing like our family sitting together and singing Shalom Alechem at the dinner table to bring the beauty of Shabbat to mind and heart.