What is my blog about? It's about Torah family living. It's about letting Torah affect our daily lives, from mealtime to bedtime, homeschooling to farm chores.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We've moved!

We have officially moved the blog to www.torahfamilyliving.com. You will not be automatically redirected. Please go to www.torahfamilyliving.com and follow again if you would like to continue receiving updates. You won't want to miss all the goodies at the new site. Thanks for being a faithful reader. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wow, that was the quickest move ever!

We have safely made it to www.torahfamilyliving.com. Everything is looking beautiful. But my followers didn't follow. PLEASE! If you would like to continue following my blog, go over and click the follow button at www.torahfamilyliving.com. Thank you so much to all my readers. You brighten my day. Please spread the word so no one gets left behind.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just in case you missed the last post, we are moving to www.torahfamilyliving.com. This is where my main website is and I will now have everything in one place. Please update any links or bookmarks. The mess is quickly disappearing! :)

Please excuse the mess!

I am in the process of moving my blog over to my website: www.torahfamilyliving.com  I am also switching to wordpress. Things are already looking funny at my site, but I promise, it will be worth the effort. I am excited to have everything under one roof, with an easy way to make changes to everything at once. I hope to have everything taken care of by the end of Sukkot. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sadie's Stories - a time of discoveries

This is a difficult post for me to write and also an important one. There are sometimes confusing moments in our parenting journey. We wonder how we got where we are. We have to face hard truths. And when we do, we discover rare beauties that we were missing.

As you will remember from a previous post, I purposed to take the time to read stories to Sadie all by herself for school. We have been enjoying our reading time tremendously.  So far we have read:
  • The Poky Little Puppy
  • Scuffy the Tugboat
  • Little Bear
  • Frog and Toad Together
  • The Tawny Scrawny Lion
  • The Animals of Farmer Jones
Most of these stories can be found in A Treasury of Little Golden Books.

Our reading time has done a very important thing for Sadie. She has been brought to the forefront of my life. Previously, she was child #4, with many mannerisms and habits I didn't understand, sometimes lost in the shuffle. I love her so much, but I'll admit that sometimes she was a source of frustration as well. She screamed over the tiniest things, used animal noises instead of words, and flung her arms around in a very odd way. As a mother, something didn't seem right to me. But I was unable to put my finger on anything specific. She didn't even crawl until about a year old, and at 4, even I couldn't understand everything she was saying. I couldn't understand the grunts and moans either.

YHVH has been gently tugging me for the last few weeks, about the time that we have been reading stories together. He has been encouraging me to do some research, to find out if maybe there is something I need to know about Sadie. He led me to a very unexpected place, but the more I read the more it seemed to fit. It looked like perhaps Sadie was struggling with asperger's syndrome or PDD. When I found out that my cousin had been diagnosed with PDD many years before, the pieces started coming together. We discovered that his treatment involving a special school among other things, had left him frustrated and ill equipped for life. The "professionals" can offer no cure, no medication.

After prayer, we feel the best help we can give Sadie is not a diagnosis, but a strong supportive family that will meet her where she is, whether she "officially" has asperger's or not. At the very least, we have a framework with which to understand her. When she crawls up in my lap and starts barking at me, I try to encourage her to use words to tell me what she needs. I try to give her a little extra love when she starts grunting and flailing her arms in frustration. We try to show a little more patience when she screams about the things that seem little to us. We have also begun a journey to change our diet. (Thank you Lusi, for the link.)

Suddenly, that time of reading and cuddling with Sadie has become a lifeline for us both. She gets so excited to point out farmer Jones in the picture. She tells me how the poky little puppy is going to dig under the fence again! We laugh together and snuggle and for a few moments, there is peace and calm and safety for her. We pray that with purposeful loving parenting, her days will be easier and she will learn to tell us all the amazing things that are going on in her head.

"Your child was made just right. Your child is beautiful. Your child does
not have defects and “problems.” Look at your child as being fearfully and
wonderfully made. Why am I saying this? Because sometimes we get
frustrated with our children. Sometimes we ask ourselves, “What is wrong
with them?” We need a fresh perspective. We need to be reminded that
YHVH made our child just right. Yes, they need work and training, but look
into their eyes and see what YHVH sees. Look at what they can become.
They are a diamond in the rough. Show them that they are just as valuable
as a diamond to you."

Our daughter is beautiful and wonderful, an excellent dancer. She loves to trace and color, and play with her little toy animals. She has a great smile and loves to help me with little jobs around the house. YHVH made her just right. She just needs a bit of extra help along the way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts on the Days of Awe

My life is made up of minutes.
Each minute I use costs me part of my life.
How did I use those minutes?
Did I waste them on silliness, or selfishness, or wishful thinking?
Or did I make a difference in the lives of those around me?
Did I share a smile?
Did I offer a drink of water?
Did I patiently change yet another diaper?
Did I serve?
Did I worship?
Did I obey?

I want to live my life with purpose, making each moment count. Will my husband be thankful for his friend for life? Will my children know I love them? Will I brighten my corner of the world? Perhaps my impact will not be huge, but I hope it will matter.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
(Mat 25:34-40)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Feast of Trumpets 2011

Feast of Trumpets

It is always a joy to celebrate the feasts of YHVH.
This year was unique.
It felt as though someone did not want us to celebrate.
We had to deal with some spiritual warfare.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Eph 6:12)
But it was beautiful to see the men anoint the children with oil and pray over them. We witnessed the power of the shofar as we blew them on this set apart day. We were grateful that YHVH gives the victory when we trust in Him. He is truly our Salvation, our Rock, and our Deliverer.

Once the spiritual attacks were dealt with, we had a wonderful day. The air was delightfully crisp and pleasant. We had plenty of good food. We enjoyed each other's company. The children blew paper shofars as they marched around the house. (I see a wonderful connection to Joshua here!) We also danced and spinned and played on the soft green grass.

Here are some glimpses into our day.

 We hope you had a lovely Yom Teruah!

Rubber boot homeschool week #4

We had a shorter week to allow time for Feast of Trumpets.
It was a week of learning to be flexible and a week of learning to be strict.
I learned to be flexible in science class. We moved to the couch so everyone could cuddle and see the pictures. I also decided to rearrange the order of science books planned for this year. I'm still using the same books, just changing the order.
I also indulged in a little spontaneity. We studied Egypt in history this week, so I printed off some clipart and we made Egyptian pop up pictures.
Math, on the other hand, required more strictness. Isaac had begged to not be timed in math, so we decided to only time him once a week. However, this led to math worksheets being completed at 9:00 at night. So, we had to draw the line and return to timing. I was pleased that their timed efforts were really good. Naomi got 100% and Holly showed great improvement over her previous scores. Just goes to show that if you give them an inch, they take a mile! I tend to be too easy on them, so I have been learning how to expect more and hold my children to certain requirements.

Part of this week was also spent getting ready for Feast of Trumpets. I'll do another post on our celebration. Here are some pics of the kids helping me get all the food ready.

We made:
  • 36 dinner rolls, twisted to look like shofars.
  • 30 cinnamon rolls
  • 3 doz ginger snaps
  • 3 doz chocolate no-bake cookies
  • 2 doz devilled eggs
  • double batch of garlic dip
On prep days, I have started posting a to-do list on the fridge. There are certain incentives that don't happen until the list is finished. In times past it has been easy to let the last few things go undone. I have been working on finishing what I start, which is also good training for the kids. As a bonus, it has really increased our productivity, in school and around the house.

What I learned this week
  • B doesn't happen until A is completed.
  • Lists are a good thing.
  • Constantly having two little boys on my lap can be a bit tiring.
  • Homemade cinnamon rolls are really good!
  • Men blessing their children is a beautiful thing.
Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to rejoice when the car gets fixed

I thought everyone would like to know that my van is fixed! I now have power steering again. The really exciting part is that I fixed it myself. I am not in the habit of fixing cars, or even checking fluid and changing tires. But I do hand over wrenches quite nicely, so I felt confident I could tackle this project with a little help from Doug.

The part that I needed to replace is a hose having to do with the power steering. When I sound a little vague in this story, it's because I hope you won't notice my ignorance. :) I didn't know where this hose was, so I pulled out the new one and started looking around until I found a hose that looked like it. As you can see in the pic above, this can be a challenge. I am very proud to say that I got black grease up to my elbows in the process.

So I finally located the part and Doug gave me the wrench. What a switch! I loosened the top end of the hose, only to discover that the bottom end would require me getting under the van. (I have a full size van.)

Doug prepared to jack up the van, but realized that he needed the handle for the jack. He couldn't reach it so he asked me to get it. I leaned over him to reach it, but found out too late that I couldn't reach it either. My hand slid down the side of the wet van and I somehow dove over Doug and landed in a heap on the other side. (Hey! I didn't even touch him! I wouldn't want to hurt him.) I managed to get myself out of the pretzel which involved a leg twisted under the rototiller. I will confess that this took me a few minutes. But I overcame and got on the little wheely cart and slid under the van. Shortly thereafter, I had the hose disconnected. (Woohoo!) It was easy to ascertain the problem. A faulty o-ring. Isn't it always a faulty o-ring? Even Apollo 13 had problems with a faulty o-ring!

So now I was ready to put in the new hose. Doug gave me a lecture on keeping everything clean so as to get a good seal. (I'm covered in mud, grit, and grease, but I'm supposed to keep everything clean.) Okay, bottom end secured. Top end will not align with the hole. Remove bottom end. Align top end. Resecure bottom end. Discover that to bleed the line, bottom end must be disconnected. Egats! Disconnect bottom line. Read manual! Discover that bleeding can be done without disconnecting bottom line. Resecure bottom line. By the way, we were still very calm at this point, and even enjoying ourselves. (Yeahh!)

Note to self: Pin hair back before working on a car. When I tried to wheely cart myself out from under the car for hopefully the last time, my hair got wound around the wheel. The more I tried to get out, the tighter it got. Doug had to pull me out with the cart hanging from my head, and pull my hair out of the wheel. That's when I had Gramma braid my hair.

So we bled the system, which involved me watching the fluid burp and bubble up, while Doug turned the steering wheel back and forth. Finally the bubbles stopped and we declared success! Then Doug got the great idea of showing me where some of the other fluids are located and discovered that I was very low on oil, so we took care of that, too.

I fixed my van, acquired black under my finger nails, grease up my arms, a few bruises on my leg, and a very satisfying sense of accomplishment! Praise YHVH!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rubber boot homeschool week #3

It was nice to get back to a relatively normal school routine this week. Last week, I felt like I was up to my ears in hot dogs and jerky. Nearly 50 lbs later, the butchering is all done.

Toddler Highlight

The little people in our house get to be part of the fun, too. Elisha has taken his education into his own hands of late. Did you ever get frustrated when your toddler repeats everything you say? Why are they doing that? Well, they are trying to coerce you to teach them. They want you to repeat them so they know if they are saying it right. For example:
Elisha: wauuuu
Mommy: water
Elisha: wauuu
Mommy: water
Elisha: wauur
Mommy: water mayim (mayim=water in hebrew)
Elisha: miauuu
Mommy: That's right Elisha. Water. Mayim.

We have been playing this game all week with every word from nose to dog. His vocabulary is really skyrocketing. I wouldn't say his pronunciation is perfect yet, but he is producing words on his own now. He also is developing quite the personality. He is completely taken with this hat (love the flower) and acts so silly when he has it on. It's like he knows how cute he is!

It just so happens that we studied Babylon this week in history and in Hebrew Life and Times.

We talked about the Tower of Babel, and how it was essentially a high place for pagan worship. I never thought about it like that before. I also began writing easy to read summaries of our history lessons for Naomi. I want to give her reading practice wherever I can, with varied content. She read through it with just a little help. Babylon kept throwing her. She thought it should say baby-lon. She then wrote a sentence about Babylon all by herself. I then helped her correct any mistakes. This is the beginnings of real writing for her. I'm excited to see how well she is doing.

We also did some map work. They have done alot of copywork and labeling in the past. Normally, I write down the words on a scrap of paper and they copy it. This time I orally gave them one letter at a time. They did very well.

Quotes from the week
  • Naomi: "A burger without pickles is like a girl without a skirt."  
  • Holly: "I want to see the world! Maybe when I'm ten, I can go places all by myself." 

What I learned this week
  • Sourdough needs to be fed every day, or there are consequences.
  • Some of our children need more help than others.
  • We must equip our children for life in this world, rather than shield them from it. See this article   
  • Good communication can solve many of the little problems in life.
It's been a good week! Have a wonderful Shabbat! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shabbat Q & A

Question from a reader: How do I avoid the little jobs on Shabbat?

Answer: It takes planning to truly be able to rest on Shabbat. If you don't plan, things will creep up and need handling on Shabbat. Here is a list of tips that I have learned in the last few years as I try to set Shabbat apart. Some may work for you, and some may not. Take what works for you. :)

  • Use paper plates for Friday night and Saturday. Leave those plates at the table and use them for each meal. Then you don't have to keep clearing and setting the table.
  • Begin preparation day on Thursday. I really need the extra day to get everything done.
  • Keep a simple menu on Shabbat. We eat roughly the same thing every week, to save thinking of something new.
  • Do the laundry on Friday. This particularly holds true for diapers. I wash the diapers on Friday, no matter what. I don't want to risk running out and having to wash in an emergency.
  • Start Shabbat with a clean kitchen and a clean house, as much as possible. Then if you need to sweep up the crumbs from Saturday breakfast real quick, it's not that big a deal.
  • Use the crock pot. We have crockpot lasagna every Friday night. It goes in before lunch and I know dinner is taken care of. Then I can focus on cleaning, etc. (Our lasagna is vegetarian with broccoli and chickpeas, yum!)
  • If you are eating veggies and dip on Shabbat, cut the veggies up on Thursday and put them in baggies. All you have to do on Shabbat is dump them on a tray.
  • Teach the children to not make a mess on Shabbat. (still working on this one :)
  • Assemble a "treasure chest" for Shabbat. Fill it with quiet, non messy activities for the kids, such as: coloring books, Bible dvds, simple games, music for dancing, ideas for scavenger hunts, Bible themed toys, felt sets, colored pencils, origami, puzzles etc. It only comes out on Shabbat and then gets stored during the week. Rotate the contents periodically.
  • Keep yourself occupied with reading material, new teachings, an idea for a Bible study, music to listen to or dance with the kids. Go for a walk outdoors to enjoy creation.
  • Keep things tidy during Shabbat by picking up the one item on the floor. If it gets to ten items on the floor, I think it's starting to look like work.
  • Enjoy your day off. Really! You don't have to work! I love that no one can ask me to do anything, and I have Scripture to back me up. It's not selfishness or laziness. It's enjoying the gift that YHVH gave me.
Here are a few resources that you might find helpful in your home on Shabbat. They have found a happy home in our family.

What do you do to make Shabbat go a little smoother? How do you avoid little jobs on Shabbat, and keep the day special for your family? Please share by leaving a comment.

There are affiliate links in this post. Thanks for your support.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to rejoice when the car breaks down

When the unexpected happens, it is hard to rejoice. It is hard to be happy when you pull into a parking lot and discover that you have no steering. That is what happened to me today. But, Praise Yah, He helped me to rejoice in the middle of it.

This morning, Doug had the great idea that I go to town and pick out a new kitchen faucet. Our is dripping so badly that it can fill a 16 qt stockpot overnight. My mother in law was very sweet to offer to buy me a new one. So I found myself in a rare position. I went to town with my mil and only Elisha and Noah. Wow! We pulled into the Home Depot parking lot and suddenly I could not steer! I wrestled with the steering wheel and managed to get into a parking spot. What now?

1. The first step in a crisis is to not think too far ahead. If you begin entertaining what ifs? and whys? you will not be able to rejoice because you have just entered a panic zone. Stay out of the panic zone and take things as they come.       

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  (Mat 6:34)

I chose to not borrow trouble and walked right into Home Depot and picked out a faucet. It's a gooseneck faucet, by the way! Doug and I are going to install it tomorrow hopefully.

2. Make people want to help you. If you give in to the flesh and start ranting, raving, complaining, and otherwise spewing your emotions on innocent bystanders, no one is going to stay around to help. Put your chin up and smile.

 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  (Pro 18:24)

We chose to engage in cheerful conversation on our long hike across two parking lots to the auto parts store. We smiled as we went in, and I calmly explained the situation to find out what needed to be done. To my delight, the salesman offered to walk back to my car and take a look! He then walked back to the store and sold me some steering fluid. He hiked back and poured it in, and hiked back again when it didn't work. I never even asked.

3. Find something to be thankful for. It can be a little thing, but find something and bring it to the front of your thoughts. Thankfulness is an enemy of negative thinking.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of YHVH in Yahshua the Messiah concerning you.  (1Th 5:18)

We chose to be thankful that we went to Home Depot first. If we had stopped at Walmart first, the hike would have been very difficult. We were thankful we had only brought two kids instead of six. We were thankful for the lone orange we found way out in the parking lot. We joked that we may need it if it takes a while to get home. Looking for the little positive things helped us to rejoice.

4. Be on guard. Satan likes to poke his head into our affairs whenever he can. He wants to see you stumble and fall. He can make a mockery of you through your conduct. 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  (1Pe 5:8)

Whoopsie! I forgot this one! I got a bit upset with my husband because I felt he wasn't compassionate enough about our situation. Next time I must be more on guard.

5. Be ready to overcome. Sometimes we still have to take the mountain, because YHVH chooses not to move it out of our way.

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.  (Jos 1:7)

I had to be very brave. The hose was busted. The fluid simply poured out on the ground. I had everything arranged for my dad to come fix it, only to find out that the part would have to be ordered. So I chose to have courage and walk back to my car and drive it home. Turns out, it's really not so bad once you get the hang of it. Surprisingly, a moving car steers much easier than a parked car. And isn't that true in any scary situation. Once you start moving, each step is easier than the last.     

So, Praise YHVH, I lost my steering today, but I still had plenty of reasons to rejoice.

What about you? How do you keep your chin up on bad days? How do you rejoice under pressure?                 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rubber boot homeschool week #2

This has been a very interesting week. We had to get through our bookwork by lunch every day, because the afternoons were full of other jobs that needed to be done.

You saw last week that we slaughtered a sheep. Normally, we would do this on a Sunday, work hard for about six hours, and have all the meat in the freezer. But Doug has felt very strongly of late that we are too wasteful. So we decided to alter our butchering method a bit. We also decided to split it up over a few days.

What does this have to do with homeschooling? Well, um, everything! More than book knowledge, our children need to know how to pitch in and work as a team, provide food for their family, use everything without wasting, use knives and equipment properly. Homeschooling is a way of life, so if history has to wait till after dinner, that's okay.

First, some pics of deboning the sheep. This sheep had a good amount of meat, for which we are grateful. Naomi and Holly have both been begging for months to be allowed to help with butchering. I wouldn't allow them, because deboning is difficult and it is easy to cut yourself. But then I realized that they could cut up the meat once it was off the bone. So two very eager girls sat down at their own cutting boards and began cubing the meat. They kept at it like troopers for two hours. I was amazed at their speed and their endurance.

Isaac was given the title of "bone boy." He had the very important duty of putting the bones into our big stockpot to be cooked down into broth. Here you can see some of the cubed meat, bagged and ready to be seasoned and stuffed into casings.

We also did another great activity that crossed curricular lines. Love that! This project could fit into homemaking skills, Ancient Egypt, Hebrew life, and botany. How about that?

It all started with an abundance of cattails growing in our pond. The kids were desperate to find something to do with them, since there were so many. We talked about how the ancient Hebrews used looms to weave their own fabric. Immediately the kids wondered if they also wove baskets. Well, you can see where this is going. We decided to use our cattail reeds to make baskets. I will let the pictures tell the story.

That's not a basket! I know, I know. When I tried to start weaving up the sides, I realized I was in over my head, so we decided to make mats instead. The one pictured above is Holly's.

What I learned this week:

  • The best laid plans of mice and men......yada yada. Things don't always go the way we planned.
  • Bedtime should be strictly observed. (Mommy's bedtime, that is.)
  • You can put lung in jerky and it will still taste great.
  • My daughter, Holly is a great artist.
  • High speed internet would still be very nice.
Shabbat Shalom to everyone! Have a wonderful rest.

Can we obey 98% of the time?

As we enter into the fall feasts, we are given a wonderful opportunity to evaluate ourselves.  We need to look in the dark corners of our closets, peek under the cupboards, organize that high shelf.

So it is at this time that I ask the question:

Am I obeying YHVH 98% of the time?

Yahshua said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."  (Luk 9:62)

We have chosen to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We have studied Torah to learn His ways. But is there something lacking? Did we, in our haste, leave off that 2%? Have we rationalized and made excuses to protect that 2%? Does the 2% even matter?

I think the 2% does matter to YHVH.

  • Achan only took a coat, some silver, and gold. What was that among all the treasures of Jericho? Probably less than 2%, yet it cost the lives of 36 men, and Achan and his family were stoned.
  • Lot's wife only looked back at Sodom for a moment, surely not a long time, but as a result she turned into a pillar of salt.
  • Saul only offered one sacrifice when he shouldn't have. That's not a big deal. But it cost him the kingdom.
  • David only had one moment of passion, surely less than 2% of his life, but it cost him a child.
My fellow believers, the 2% matters! We must always be seeking to shed that last 2% and follow with our whole hearts. We cannot continue to say, "Look at all I'm doing right" while we hide the disobedience under the rug.

Do we eat kosher 98% of the time? But the other 2% is ingredients on the soup can that we choose to ignore.

Do we dress appropriately 98% of the time, except when it's inconvenient or when no one will see us?

Do we keep the Feasts and Shabbat, but delay dealing with trickier commands like the niddah laws?

Do we talk about our obedience and the things we have learned and forget to help those around us? Have we forgotten the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith?

But that's legalism!

Just a question: What is the opposite of legalism? Logic would dictate that the opposite is illegalism. So the question is whether we are obeying (legalism) or not obeying (illegalism).
The real question here is the heart. Are we busily occupied trying to take care of our 2% or are we demanding that everyone else deal with their 2%, while ignoring our own? 

Torah is very clear on what is expected of us. Sometimes we don't understand, and must lean on the Ruach HaKodesh. We have so much to learn and so much to put into practice. We obey our Heavenly Father because we love Him, just like a little child delights in pleasing their daddy. We are not saved by our works, but we work because we are saved. But let us not assume that we have arrived and are doing all we ought. We have put our hand to the plow. Let us not turn back from the plow, and let us not stand still looking at the plow. We must move forward, always seeking that 2%, that bit of obedience that is yet elusive. There is always room for us to grow closer to our Father. If we are truly seeking to serve YHVH 100%, when would we possibly have time to judge others for their 2%?

May we all grow closer to YHVH in this precious feast time! (I'm off to try to deal with my own 2%.)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - September

Outside my window...it is dark and cold.

I am thankful...for life. I am glad to be given another day. I am glad to have six children and a wonderful husband. I am thankful for a healthy dose of perspective when things don't always go the way we planned.

From the learning rooms...We are moving a bit slow this week. With Gramma coming tomorrow and staying for 7 weeks, we have been a bit distracted with preparations. On top of that, we are still trying to finish putting up the 40+ pounds we got from the sheep last week.

In the kitchen...Egats! My kitchen needs a bit of help. I am taking a short sit down break to write this and then back to work. I have to make room for all the food Gramma will be bringing tomorrow. Bless her heart!

I am wearing...Denim. I need to be wearing a sweater and socks. It is cold tonight! Oh, and I actually put in a pair of earrings. I haven't worn any for probably a year. Doug thought they looked very feminine.

I am creating...a tunic length knitted vest. It is variegated purple wool, open in the front with a tie. I love having a good knitting project during Sukkot.

I am going...nowhere exciting. I can't even look forward to food co-op because I didn't get an order in this month.

I am reading...a book about food rationing during World War I, titled Everyday Foods in War Time . It's a very interesting read, outdated, but fascinating. Her understanding of nutrition at the time was uncanny. She lived in a world that had just invented oleomargarine, but also had some grasp of the importance of vitamines, as it was spelled at the time. Oh, and she knew that oatmeal should be cooked overnight, wise woman. :)

I am hoping...that my ebook will finally be available on Amazon this week.

I am looking forward to...Gramma's arrival tomorrow. She is more than a mother-in-law, but truly a friend. We have wonderful visits together.

I am hearing...the dishwasher, my drippy faucet and the clock ticking. Can't wait for a new faucet, and what possessed Doug to wind that clock again? I find myself doing everything in time with the clock. Very annoying.

Around the house...We are almost clean and shiny for tomorrow. I still have work in the kitchen, of course, but the rest is pretty good. I even cleaned my desk, ie my life, which seems to need tidying daily.

I am pondering...how to better implement Torah in our daily goings on. Can I be a better example? Is there a command that we have missed and need to be incorporating?

One of my favorite things...chocolate. Where is it when you need it?

A few plans for the rest of the week: Stuff hotdogs into casings, greet Gramma, absorb all the food she will be bringing into the kitchen, develop an entirely new daily routine, make soup, prepare for Shabbat, REST!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
 brotherly love xoxox

Check out more daybook entries at: The Simple Woman's Daybook

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wondermaps! Review for Timberdoodle

I am pleased to bring you a review of Wondermaps, a very exciting geography tool.

This software program is basically a one stop shop for all your map needs. It has 350 maps and an ingenious layering tool that allows you to customize each map. With a few clicks, you have a personalized map ready to print. It has modern, historical, and biblical maps. Want to see Christopher Columbus's journeys? There's a map for that. Want to see Jonah's travels? There's a map for that, too. You can even print a map showing the countries in the UN.

Let me give you an example of the layers and how they work. Here is a map of Israel with all the layers on. I love the colored terrain. That is hard to find in printable maps.

Here is the same map of Israel with several of the layers turned off. Do you see how now the student can fill in the country names, city names, and river names without working around the terrain?
How can you make good use of a versatile program like Wondermaps? Well, here are a few ideas I came up with.

  • Keep the globe safe, and look up places in Wondermaps.
  • Print the maps smaller by setting the printer to multiple sheets per page. Then you can use these little maps in lapbooks or notebooking. Particularly useful with the historical maps. Back when I was homeschooled, we hand traced little maps to put in our timeline notebook.
  • Print off several maps to create a mini atlas to keep in the child's notebook.
  • Create blank maps for the student to fill in. Print a filled in map for the student to copy as they learn new material.
  • Look up settings and locations that you run across in books. The clicks are so fast to find what you want that this is very practical.
  • Compare historical and modern locations. How have things changed?
  • Understand the terrain where historical events took place. Was it mountainous or near water?

Okay, I hope by now you are excited. If you are like me, you have spent hours in the past scouring the internet for maps. If you did find the one you needed, it was probably only modern, and almost never topographical. So let me give you the nuts and bolts now. What are the pros and cons of Wondermaps?


  • It is not internet based. I know I am part of a dying breed, but I have dialup. This is an important feature.
  • It is PDF based. I like PDF because it is very easy to work with.
  • The maps are professional looking.
  • You can add terrain to the maps. Most maps out there lack this feature, and I think it is very important to have.
  • The combinations possible with the layering options are phenomenal.
  • The program and maps are flexible enough to fit in with any geography approach.
  • You aren't going to find most of these maps free on the internet. Believe me, I've tried.
  • Two words: Pan zoom. If the labels are a bit small on the screen, go to View, Zoom, Pan & Zoom. Very cool feature that magnifies those little details.
  • To be frank here, after starting at the world map, clicking on a continent, then clicking on a country complete with mountains and deserts and grassy plains, I was a little disappointed to not be able to click one more time and see photos of house styles and local wildlife. I know, I know, you can't have everything! :) The program just had me that wrapped up in the excitement of far off places.
  • The price does seem high at first glance, but as I explored the options and reflected on all the lost hours of vain searching in the past, I concluded that this program is complete, thorough, and will serve us for many years. 
Wondermaps was reviewed by my entire family, and we all enjoyed it. The maps of Isreal above were printed at Daddy's request and he spent much time studying them. The next pic shows Isaac (6) and I looking up every country he could think of, from India to Cuba


We also will be filling in some maps of the Middle East this week. We just learned about the rivers where the first civilizations after the flood popped up. Of course, I was able to turn off the river names for their map, and print a copy all filled in for them to copy. This will be a popular way for us to use this program.

If you feel this program would be helpful in your family, I would encourage you to head on over to Timberdoodle to get your program. But don't take my word for it. You can read more reviews here:

Because Mom Said

I received a free copy of Wondermaps in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. The review shared is based on my personal, honest opinion.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Homeschool 2011-2012 Week 1

Isn't that an awful title? I'll try to be more creative next time.

So we had our first week of school this week. I could say it went well, or I could say it didn't go so well. I think mostly it was about learning to work with life in the middle of school.

I wrote out a very detailed lesson plan for the week, and used a timer to keep us moving. In the past, my gentle learning was a little too gentle. So I decided to push a little harder this year. It worked very well for a few reasons.
1. We didn't lollygag around. Isaac tried to play around during his reading time, but I told him if he didn't finish his reading lesson in the twenty minutes, he would do the whole lesson again the next day. He never had to do that.
2. I wrote down the time we took for each lesson right on the lesson plan. At the end of the day, I was able to input everything into homeschool tracker for a permanent record with time spent. We are not required to report anything in Michigan, but I want to be prepared if that changes.
3. If we did get interrupted by life, I knew exactly where to start when we returned. For example, an important phone call came in. I let the machine pick it up, and as soon as we were done the current subject, I returned the call, and gave the kids a short recess. This worked much better than expecting them to keep working. They just aren't ready to work independently like that.

Here is what our daily schedule looks like:

40 min. Torah School (includes reading part of the Torah portion, copywork, reading related stories, activities, etc.)
20 min. Hebrew Life and Times(read chapter on Monday, do related activities on following days)
15 min. Hebrew (vocabulary, copywork)
5 min. ABC and 123 ( recite sounds of alphabet and count forward and backward)
80 min. Reading (20 min. for each child, Naomi- Learn to Read Bible, McGuffey 1st Reader, Holly and Isaac- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Sadie's Stories- The Poky Little Puppy (A Little Golden Book Classic))
30 min. Math (Matrix Math timed addition and subtraction worksheets)
30 min. Physical Education/ Recess
30 min. History and Science (Read alouds and activities on alternating days)
30-60 min. Home economics (Deep cleaning of assigned rooms, with us working as a team, and teaching kitchen skills like bread, peeling potatoes, etc.)

Now for the highlights!

Torah School!
We studied Ki Tetse (Deut. 21:10-25:19)
We did a copywork page, read a story, listened to a great teaching on Shabbat, and looked for things in our house that are unsafe.

Naomi practiced until she could read a book about frogs by herself!

We drew pictures of shepherds in the Bible.

We learned about important rivers in the Middle East and India.

We spent 45 minutes scrubbing the kid's bathroom, and boy, did it look good!

Naomi and Holly both moved up a worksheet in Math.

The girls learned how to knead and bake bread. Daddy likes their bread better than mine lol. I think I've been replaced. :)

We slaughtered a sheep, and learned about various organs. When I pointed out the lungs and explained that they were for breathing, Isaac responded with, "Man, that is so disgusting!"

We learned how to process sheep casings to use for making homemade hot dogs and meat sticks. This picture is of the casings soaking in salt water.

What did I learn this week?

  • My children are capable of more than I thought.
  • A lot of learning goes on in everyday life, and I might as well write it down.
  • It is hard to read a history chapter out loud over a toddler pretending to be a puppy.
  • Every day is precious and should be used wisely.
  • High speed internet would be so nice. :)

Shabbat Shalom to everyone!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pop up pictures

We started school yesterday! I will post more about that later. Today I would like to share a cool little project we did tonight. Grandpa visited the other day with several pop up books in tow. This pop up concept was fascinating to my children. Thankfully, I was familiar with the basic construction, so we made some pop up pictures.

We kept the pop up sections very simple by keeping them square, and then the kids glued on clip art that I had printed off. As you will see, once they got the hang of it, they began to get very elaborate. I would love to see what they would do with more advanced techniques, and new colored pencils. (of which we are in desperate need lol) Sadie, above, enjoyed making a pic with bugs and butterflies.

Isaac obviously picked bugs. Actually, that was his second choice because I couldn't find any pics of scary animals. He even drew a little gameboard on tht bottom.

Holly did a great little scene with birds and a 3-D tree that she spent most of her time on.

Naomi did an entire underwater scene, and decided she needs to add another piece of paper to make a longer scene.

We had a great time, and kept the TV off!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Buy your copy!

I've been waiting for this day and it's finally here! You can now purchase a copy of my ebook. When you make a purchase, you are eligible to enter the giveaway for one of my husband's handmade gemsbok shofars. You can also download free printable ketubbahs. Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Psalm 17:8

Psalm 17:8
"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."

I love finding word pictures in Scripture. Sometimes I have to dig a little into the Hebrew to find them. Sometimes they are right in front of me. This verse immediately makes me think of chickens.

I remember hearing a story when I was little about a barn burning down. A hen had recently hatched a lovely little brood of fluffy chicks. Unable to escape the barn, she created a tent over her chicks with her wings. When going through the debris, the barn owner found the mother hen. Her wings were still spread over her chicks. Even in death she was faithful to protect them. As he lifted the hen, out came all her little chicks, completely sheltered from the fire.

I don't know if this is a true story or not, but the picture is clear and beautiful. This is the kind of protection that YHVH promises to give to us. He will put His wings over us and shelter us from life's blasts. We may feel the heat of the fire, but He stands between us and the blast.

Praise YHVH!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Book review posted

I would like to point you in the direction of Pebble Crossing, who just posted a review of  "The Children's Ketubbah Project." (Psst, there's a giveaway for a copy of my ebook.) Please check out their new website, too.

Check it out here.

Mark your calendars! This Sunday you will be able to get a copy for yourself. We will be having a drawing for one of my husband's handmade gemsbok shofars, and you can download free printable ketubbahs. Hope to see you there at the torah family living website.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Torah Family E-magazine Issue #2

It's here! Torah Family e-magazine Issue #2 Sukkot Edition is ready for download. A special thank you to all who contributed to make this issue possible. You may want to print a copy off and take it with you wherever you celebrate Sukkot. Enjoy!

Download your issue here.

Later, you will be able to find it at my website.

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More thoughts to consider