Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First sale

Noach's Cheesecakes

Place your order. PRM

Monday, December 21, 2009

He's home

About 1am, 3 1/2 hours later than expected. And for a final aggravation, he had to sit on the plane and watch some guy take his guitar out of the baggage compartment of the plane and carry it away. He asked the stewardess to help but she was not interested.

He was very kindly treated by his hosts in NYC. The dad was a "Judaean" too, so of course, he let Yakov stay with them. PRM

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Well, that was unexpected

Last Wednesday, Noach, Shoshie and I took a short trip to Tennessee to see my mom for a few days. We spent 2 days visiting with her and other elderly family members and had quite a good time. We planned to return Saturday, leaving early in the morning in order to be here for the return of Yakov who is coming home from Israel for 2 weeks.

That was the plan. Before the snowstorm. The storm dumped 12 inches or more on much of our path back home. And even more in Newark where Yakov 's plane from Tel Aviv was to arrive.

We plotted a new course, driving about 30% farther but coming home from the south where it had warmed up enough for the roads to be clear. We had to spend last night on the road but we did get home safely this morning.

Yakov is not here yet. His flight from Tel Aviv must have been largely unchanged because he was in Newark at about the expected time. But his flight home from there was canceled. He was stranded in the airport for at least 24 hours, possibly longer. He had $20 and no credit cards, no cell phone or warm clothes.

The Young Judaea family network to the rescue! Shoshie contacted a friend of hers in NYC. She and her family welcomed him into their home last night. He took a taxi from Newark into the city and they were planning to pay for his taxi. The details of his visit with them are not known to me but I cannot express how much we appreciate their helping him out.

He is supposed to get home tonight but the plane is already delayed. And he still doesn't have a cell phone so we can't communicate with him easily.

I will be happy when this adventure finally comes to a happy ending and all our little ducks are tucked into their own beds. Tonight? PRM

Monday, December 7, 2009

Homeschool science fair

Just helping out our Virginia friends who had a great homeschool science fair. I wish we lived a bit closer.

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There's always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you'll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their spring homeschool series features lessons about the Civil War. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cool Alexander Hamilton hip-hop

The song starts at about a minute. Click through to YouTube if it loads too slowly. Believe me, it's worth it. PRM

Friday, October 30, 2009

This fall

Our schooling life has changed profoundly this year, what with Yakov in Israel and Shoshie rarely at home because of working and community college courses. Noach, 13, is really the only one who needs daily attention. It's so quiet here now.

Noach, who has usually been along for the ride with whatever his sibs were doing, is now looking for his own way in the academic world, and social world too. He is not a big reader, so unlike his brother and sister, and this has caused a major shift in how we are doing school.

History is being done largely with movies. Our focus right now is Medieval history. We watched a 5 hour version of Ivanhoe that we loved. We also enjoyed Becket. Now we are watching a PBS documentary, Islam: Empire of Faith. Before we move on to the Renaissance, I plan for us to see Kingdom of Heaven and either The Name of the Rose or a Father Cadfael mystery. The former has one of Noach's favorite actors, Sean Connery, and the latter, one of my favorites, Derek Jacobi. I ask him to write some dates, such as the death of Becket or the reign of Henry II, in a timeline book that he has been keeping for years and we look at maps to get a feel for geography and the settings of the movies.

Science is being done in a homeschool class once a week. They are doing introductory Physical Science. From my standpoint, this is a social activity as much as science. It does require homework weekly and this is a new experience for him.

Math is daily but we aren't following a particular program right now. MUS provided some review earlier in the fall. Soon we will do Hands-On-Equations and I want us to work on probability which he seems to have missed.

We read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and are now reading Treasure Island. I plan for us to be continually reading some classic. We started Lightening Lit 7 but the formal lessons have fallen by the wayside.

He attends a class with 2 other boys on Monday and Thursday mornings where they discuss NY Times articles. Each brings one article to discuss. The boys have varying interests and so the class tends to have lively discussions on a variety of topics. The mom who leads the group also gives them vocabulary words and makes some informal research assignments, such as find out who Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela are and what they have in common. This too is a big social event for Noach and he has really enjoyed the class.

The new Chaplain's Aide also is supposed to be working on his religious award for Scouts. He should begin that next week. We have to ask someone to be his supervisor. And we have to start going to synagogue more often. Fortunately the new student Rabbi seems to be quite good.

Noach, the aspiring cook, has been cooking some too. I want him to plan, prepare and clean up from one dinner a week. Today he will plan next week's menu so we can shop for the ingredients over the weekend. He has baked 2 cakes from scratch. I purchased a Mixmaster mixer for him because I only have a handheld one and it is old. Maybe he can take a cake decorating class. I'll be looking for one.

So that's what we are doing. I have been blogging very rarely lately. I'll try to do better as if anyone cares. And soon I can blog about Shoshie's college search. And my creating another transcript. PRM

Three years old

Zissa punim.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Chaplain's Aide

of Troop #. Noach decided that he was going to run for Chaplain's Aide in his scout troop. "So I can be sure we don't have any campouts on my holidays," he said. I'm really proud of him for taking on this position. He will be adding a bit of diversity. He had to lead a prayer for a meal on a campout a few months ago and he did a motzi. Then he explained what it meant to the other boys.

And he advanced to Second Class Scout. Finally.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Our chief zombie fighter is out of the country now so I'm feeling a little vulnerable. But he trained his siblings and we have a lot of duct tape so I think we will be okay. PRM

Wordless Wednesday

All my children. And grandchild, too. PRM

Friday, October 9, 2009

I think the Nobel means 3 things

1. a thumb in the eye of George Bush,
2. an appreciation for Obama's turning the US back to diplomacy, peacemaking and moral leadership, and finally,
3. a challenge to live up to the fine words and ideas Obama has expressed.

Let's hope he meets the challenge. PRM

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Remember to place your own bra mask on first

before helping your neighbor or small child.
At the 2009 ceremony, Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention — a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. She is assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman (right). PHOTO: Alexey Eliseev.

Yes, it's the IgNoble Awards. Krugman looks like he just can't stand it unless he gets to help with the bra placement. PRM

Desert Adventure

Here is 19yo son in Israel, enjoying the desert with his friends. They have done a lot of hiking.

Wait, wait! What is he doing? Climbing down into a tunnel? Oh, we forgot to warn him about climbing down into strange tunnels in the desert.

And we forgot to warn him about old guns in tunnels in the desert.

What else did we forget to warn him about? What difference would it make if we had warned him? None. PRM

Friday, October 2, 2009

Letterboxing today

Beautiful day. Four boxes. PRM

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big E's birthday

Yes, it is September 11th but, for our family, that also means that it is the Big E's birthday. He's here with his family, soon to have another member, and his little brother, Noach. The Big E is a mensch. I am proud of him and proud to be his mother. PRM

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homeschooling's like lifeschooling

and that's a good thing, so said Yakov this morning when he called for the second time. He said he was the only one in his group who knows how to cook and can figure out how to compare prices in the grocery store. Maybe the math-resistant Yakov is finally realizing that all that math was not for nothing.

Schooling here at home has been quite different this week. Shoshie has worked a lot so Noach and I have been working alone. Since I am not teaching any science labs this fall, he has been craving some social activities.

Wednesday we went to park day with our old group and fortunately there were a number of older kids there. We met a new homeschooling mom who is offering a language arts class that he may join. I am calling it language arts because it is not just reading and discussing books, not really a writing class, but a combination of both and more. As I said, the mom is new to homeschooling and is very intense, so I hope this works out. She really wants to meet 3 days a week but I think has realized that twice a week is about all anyone can commit to.

Noach also signed up for a physical science class at a local private school. We went to an orientation Wednesday afternoon and I was really encouraged about this class. It is a pre-chemistry class so they will be doing fun stuff. I wish I could go.

Thus we are adjusting to our smaller school size. In reality it may not be that much different from last year but the lack of Yakov makes it feel that way. Shoshie walked in at lunch yesterday and commented on how quiet the house was without our "tummler". I guess he is stirring stuff up in the Negev. PRM

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another reminder of the importance of play

from the NY Times, Let the Children Play (Some More). Articles like this always herald the end of summer. But I can't help thinking The National Institute for Play seems an oxymoron. PRM

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer recap

I am trying to get my ducks back in a row for the start of the school year. It's a little harder with one less duck. This felt like a long summer, but certainly not in an unpleasant way.

Yakov spent 5 weeks as a counselor at YJ and had to take Tamiflu for 10 days as prophylaxis against the swine flu.

Shoshie spent 4 weeks in Israel. She had a great time despite injury and sickness.

Noach worked on his Bar Mitzvah prep with determination that paid off in an outstanding performance. He will reprise his Haftorah skills by chanting part of Jonah at the Yom Kippur service in September.

Shoshie had a panicked spell, because in the last week before registration, the state legislature pulled much of the support from the dual enrollment program at the community college. This program was well-used by her brother who will go to UNC-CH with over 30 hours of college credit, thus saving us at least one year's tuition. But the short term benefit of dual enrollment is how it demonstrates to prospective colleges that the student can handle college work. Each cc in the state was able to decide how to deal with this and, the evening before registration, our cc decided to allow no courses for dual enrollment except science, math and some tech classes. She was eventually able to get a math course and a geology course and that is not a bad outcome. She could not continue Spanish which was disappointing but we have gone back to OSU for Spanish online.

I have been unable to post much because, well, I'm just depressed about things going on. The absolute inanity of the healthcare debate takes my breath away. Death panels, my god. And if Texas wants to secede, then to quote Peewee Herman, "I say, let 'em go".

And Sunday before daylight, Yakov left for 9 months in Israel. He called Monday morning to tell me he is in a "crackhouse"* with 7 other guys in some impoverished town in the Negev desert. "It's great!"

So I will try to start posting more. PRM

* My rodent-phobic mind sees this as a rat infested cinderblock building with stained mattresses on rickety bunk beds, but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not quite wordless Wednesday

JP and Yakov whistling Bohemian Rhapsody. I wish you could hear it.

One of them is leaving home Sunday morning. For 9 months. And, in truth, never to return as the same child.

I've been through this before. Big E grew up and left home. I survived. He survived and flourished. That's the goal of parenthood, to launch a responsible, loved person into the world. But it doesn't make reaching that goal less painful. PRM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Noach's Bar Mitzvah Tour

Last week we left home, traveling from our home in NC to Hot Springs, Arkansas to have Noach's Bar Mitzvah. We had it there for a couple of reasons. Noach, and the rest of us, have a real affection for our former rabbi, who moved there two years ago. Yakov and Shoshie studied with him and Noach wanted to do the same. Also, Hot Springs is much closer to JP's family in the Memphis area.

Here are our bags. Yes, they are laundry bags. The dryer broke right before we left home so the first night's stop was my mom's condo where I did laundry.

Here JP has found his inner craft skills, curling ribbon for bows. Fortunately he could do this and rest at the same time. Multitasking!

In the evening after the event, we had dinner on the Belle of Hot Springs Riverboat. Our lovely daughter-in-law is standing. The rabbi is at her elbow.

I hear Gilbert and Sullivan when I see this picture,
"He's hardly ever sick at sea!
Then give three cheers, and one cheer more,
For the hardy Captain of the Pinafore!"

Three funny bunnies and an apprentice.

It was wonderful to celebrate with our friends and family. I think everyone had a good time. Pictures of the Bar Mitzvah boy later. I couldn't find my camera most days and had family members take photos for me. PRM

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

She's back. Obviously I am not the only one glad to see her. And she is already attached to the cellphone.

Ducks are almost in a row, at least for a few days. Then it's off to the Bar Mitzvah. PRM

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

The sister in Israeland her friends. PRM

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meet Wendell Potter

Potter is a former executive at Cigna, one of our largest medical insurance providers. In December 2007, Nataline Sarkisyan was a 17 yo girl, a cancer survivor who needed a liver transplant who died because Cigna initially refused to approve coverage for the surgery. The surgery was eventually approved but only hours before she died. Mr. Potter was the public face for Cigna at this time. And it clearly had an impact on him.

He has retired now and is ready and willing to tell the rest of us the truth about the health insurance industry. What he says should be obvious if you think about the business of insurance. The insured person gives his money to a company that must take that money, pay its executives, provide profit for its shareholders and finally pay for the medical care that person needs.

"Looking back over his long career, Potter sees an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. According to Potter, insurers have every incentive to deny coverage -- every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year."
Watch Mr. Potter on Bill Moyers show from last Friday night.

What value does the insurance company or its stockholders add to medical care? NONE! I think there was hope at one time that competing insurance and managed care companies would rein in costs but that has not happened. Premiums go up, executive salaries go up, stock prices go up. Coverage goes down. And the CEO's compensation is not based on what great coverage his company provides but what profits he can wring from the premiums he collects and how little he spends for health care.

Scare tactics like "Do you want a bureaucrat between you and your doctor?" can be answered with "Right now, I have a CEO between me and my doctor."

Personally I'm for a single payer system. But a public option may be all we get at this time. But if we don't get a public option then we will not get the change we need and the change I voted for. And I will be angry. PRM

Friday, July 10, 2009

She made it

Shoshie is in Israel.

Monday, July 6, 2009

For your listening pleasure

let me suggest these NPR segments

Science Friday last Friday had 2 segments of particular interest, "Celebrate July4th with Backyard Science" and "Fireworks are Packed with Chemistry". We love to blow stuff up here. I have been thinking of getting Yakov a copy of Absinthe and Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously by one of Ira Flatow's guests, William Gurstelle. Another guest, Anne Helmenstine who writes at chemistry, is the source of the smoke bomb recipe we used during the last chemistry lab.

Today Diane Rehm had Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her show. Adichie was there to promote her new collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck. Last November I wrote of how much I enjoyed her novel, Purple Hibiscus. Only last week I read Half of a Yellow Sun and it was even more moving. Go and listen to her if for no other reason than to hear her mellifluous voice and laugh. PRM

It's like a bus station here

This week there were/will be lots of comings and goings.

Shoshie is right now in the air on her way to Tel Aviv. Pray for safe travel and peace in the Mideast.

Noach returned from Scout camp Saturday. Back to studying for his Bar Mitzvah. In some ways this is an improvement over camp.

Yakov will return from his camp counselor's job at Camp Judaea on Thursday.

Also this week we celebrate Noach's 13th birthday and our 20th anniversary.

Busy, busy, busy. PRM

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Imagine you are invited

Maira Kalman writes/draws a lovely essay about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.

Here is his bed, wedged between his study and dressing room. Enter the house

Read the whole thing. PRM

Thursday, June 25, 2009

At least homeschooling is the answer for

the education of your special child.What to do if your child has superpowers from the Boston Globe.

Why am I posting so often if I am supposed to be taking a break? Because it is more fun than planning the Bar Mitzvah, cleaning house or doing any of the other "fun" things I have planned. And the blog look is still in transition. PRM

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shhhh, don't tell Grandma

Swine flu confirmed at Camp Judaea

Yakov is on day 10 of Tamiflu. Apparently some of the other counselors became sick with the flu at orientation.

Noach is going to Boy Scout camp Sunday. We are supposed to take his temperature that morning to confirm that he is not sick. PRM

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And what am I doing to enjoy this summer?

Addressing Bar Mitzvah invitations. PRM

Monday, June 22, 2009

Time out

I'm taking a short break from blogging as I work on some other tasks, like enjoying summer. I'm also working on the blog appearance. No, it won't be green. This is just a transitional phase, sorry. PRM

Monday, June 15, 2009

I find this all very sad.

They were so optimistic, the women I heard on the radio last week, Iranian women who saw change in the potential election of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. They were excited to be voting.

But the fix was in. Many, of all ages, keep fighting. PRM

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This book is a tummler.

At least in the Yiddish meaning JP has taught me. A troublemaker, something that calls one to action.

I picked up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver about 15 months ago off the library donation sales shelf. Five dollars for the hardback, a real find I thought. It was right before we left on our trailer vacation so I packed it to read. But, as seems to happen each year, I never got to it and over the trip the book vibrated to the back of the closet, to be unnoticed when the trailer was emptied. I found it this spring and, once again, planned to read it while traveling. And again that didn't happen.

However I brought it back into the house this time and it was the first book I picked up after we returned. I'm so glad I did. It was a pleasant read and profoundly thought provoking. In reality I think it just organized my own thinking about this subject.

You can't read this book and then go grocery shopping at WalMart without a twinge of guilt or self-reproach. Especially at this time of year when the local farmers will be harvesting squash and cucumbers soon.

I'm glad I planted some vegetables this year, too. In years past I had a large garden and canned many tomatoes, tomato sauce, and pickles. This garden isn't likely to produce enough to can. Next year, when we won't be traveling in May but September or October, I can have a larger garden.

In the meantime I can buy at the farmer's market and research Community Sponsored Agriculture, CSAs, in our area for next year. PRM

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Some of the unfamiliar birds I saw on our trip
Two male Summer Tanagers, birds seen in Texas.

The object of their attention, a female Summer Tanager. PRM

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And so the summer begins

with Yakov once again off to Camp Judaea but this time as a counselor, not a camper. Dad and Noach are taking Yakov to his friend's house where they will drive the friend's car to camp this afternoon. That's another change, no more bus trips to camp. Some things haven't changed, Yakov loves Camp Judaea, has from the very first day he saw the place, eight years ago. I may have teared up leaving him but he never noticed when we left. PRM