Friday, May 27, 2011

An Equation

What happens when you put together a virus, a teething baby, an impending move and some very busy days in a regular course of a life? Very little time to write anything, let alone anything sensible:) Hope to  post more next week, G-d willing.  Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crafts: A Cute Ship Collage Card

Here is a very cute ship collage craft from Nini Makes.  So if you have kids that love to cut and paste this could turn out to be a very quick but effective kind of a project.  This promises to be a craft that can work well for a few different ages and appeal to both boys and girls.  Things have been very busy around here lately but I am hoping to get around to writing something decent soon:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crafts: Kraft Paper Playland

Here is a wonderful paper playland activity. It's  a project that can be made as simple or as complicated as one likes, requires very simple supplies and can be a very creative and imaginative undertaking.  It can also be used to teach or improve map making and  map reading skills.  We had a commercial version of this, a large plastic mat with roads and buildings, ets, that the kids, especially the boys loved to play with, so this might be appealing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recipes: Tea Ice Cream

Our family is a family of big tea drinkers.  So an idea of a tea flavored ice cream is an an appealing one.  I've made ices with herbal tea in the past and this collection of tea ice cream recipes from Whipup offers lots of possibilities and something I am sure the children will be enthusiastic about.

Netanyahu gives Obama a dose of Reality

Finally, our PM gave Obama a much needed history lesson and some reality orientation. He is speaking diplomatese  but it's a pretty forceful rebuttal to Obama's disastrous ( for Israel) ideas.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lag B'Omer

I can smell the Lag B'Omer bonfires outside.  The excitement building up to this somewhat mystical holiday in Israel is just amazing, while in the Diaspora it's not really celebrated in a big way.  I've been meaning to listen to Rebbetzin Heller's Sfiras Haomer and Lag B'Omer shiur in  the "making the holidays meaningful for children" series. I finally got around to it tonight, while dh took the bigger children out to make a bonfire with the neighbours.  It's a really wonderful and informative lecture, which made things much more meaningful for me and it also offers LOTS of practical ideas for discussing these concepts with children, as well as things to do, to make it more concrete.  Here is the video.  It's excellent! Too bad I haven't gotten to it earlier, but something to keep in mind for the remainder of the sfira and the future. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time to stand with Israel!

And so Obama officially threw Israel under the bus, again, in order to appease the unappeasable. Sigh.  Dumb move, also evil and consistent. No surprises there.  He demanded "full and phased" destruction of Israel a la Yasser Arafat and of course urged "bold steps" by Israel (who else?) to expedite the process. All while professing  his undying love and devotion.  This is going to go over really well here, sure.  One shudders for the world where the above delusional/asinine line of reasoning passes for serious foreign policy.  Here is an excellent and informative article by Barry Rubin on the subject.  And here is a video of Wild Bill for America explaining why he stands with Israel.  Good to know not everyone has lost it! G-d willing all will be well! This might be an interesting topic for discussion with your older children.

Craft: Another Garden Art Project

Here is another great garden art project from Artful Adventures- making pictures out of different leaves, flowers and other plants.  This fits quite nicely with nature study too. It reminds me of the projects in a book I have called Look What I Did With A Leaf!, which I've really wanted to make with the children. The same site has lots of other simple but very creative and pretty looking art  projects which I hope to try in the future and some really great suggestions for displaying children's art.  I am glad I found this one, just as I was thinking that it would be really nice to do more art projects with the kids than we have been able to for a while.  Back to the garden we go, to collect some more loveliness for our artistic pursuits:)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The goings on

There has been a lot going on around here.  We are continuing with the Math Mammoth Fractions, Multiplication and Division units.  The seven year old has requested a little bit more variety.  So I am thinking of adding some geometry into the mix.  He loves to draw so he might appreciate it.  I bought a compass the other day and he was very excited about making perfect circles with it.  Both big boys are doing well with copywork.  They are progressing with their english reading.  I decided to sneak in some poetry by having them read some of Robert Lewis Stevenson's The Child's Garden of Verses for their reading practice, we have one beautifully illustrated by Donna Young. The almost nine year old is very much into mystery and adventure these days and is reading voraciously in hebrew.  I can barely supply him fast enough.  I think his newly found reading obsession is inspiring his younger brother to make more reading progress, even though he had more difficulty with reading in any language initially.  The hebrew writing and grammar book that the seven year old is using, I think, is too easy but probably is a good review before we move on to something else.  I bought a bag of mixed plastic beads of many colors, designs and shapes so everyone has really enjoyed making necklaces, bracelets,etc.  The boys made some for the girls.  The jewelry they made came out very very pretty, much to the recepients' delight and the creators' pleasure.  We started Five Little Peppers  and How They Grew   for our read aloud long story.  So far the kids are enjoting it.  We finished the Lost Children of Tarshish and the almost nine year old announced that he would take it along if he ever went on the boat so he would have ideas of what to do if he ever got stranded on a deserted island:)  I think we should read Robinson Crusoe for kids soon.  I am continuing with letters and numbers with the five year old.  I would love to do more projects with the girls on regular basis.  The three year old has been coming up with lots of creative and ingenius ideas while playing.  Like making a swing for her doll with a scarf and some clothpins fastened to door handles.   The baby is crawling and walking holding on and being cute.  He is an active participant now in many games and in many of the family activities.  We had more science excitement here.  I signed up to the Superchargedscience newsletter so I get some great and creative science experiments in my email.  So we made a hovercraft from old CD, sport's bottle top and a balloon. The children LOVED it and we repeated it many many times.  Then we made some "litmus juice" by soaking some purple cabbage in boiling water and then tested various substances for being either an acid or a base.  The boys couldn't get enough of trying out different things and creating different colors by adding and mixing various things into the juice.  I am sure we'll be doing this again and it makes me think that they might really enjoy that Elementary Chemistry unit from Ellen McHenry I wrote about recently.  Otherwise, there was the usual sheep watching, the seven year old had a very enjoyable trip to the local farm where they raise chickens and he got to feed them and plant little seedlings and push a wheelbarrow around, etc. We need to get more organized and get the kids to be more consistent about clean up.  They like to help but we need to have more of a regular routine so their room stays relatively neat somehow.  We did some cooking and some baking.  The seven year old has rediscovered his love of vegetables to my delight.  I've been rereading some of my homeschooling books like the Homeschool Openhouse and Guerilla Learning for inspiration.  I've been reading some Charlotte Mason blogs which I haven't know about before.  I'd like to fit in some more regular drawing and art appreciations into our routine and after Lag B'Omer we can do some more music stuff again too.  So in general I try to keep things very basic, some reading, some writing and some math, plus other things if and when we have time for them.  Our days are very busy but somehow things do get done and they still have time to play and dream and talk.  So, thank G-d, despite the many roughspots these have been amazingly productive and full couple of weeks and we are looking forward to more of the same. We also had a birthday party and some stomach flu bouts and some really crazy things going on the geopolitical front when hordes of rioting arabs tried to crash through three of our borders.  Unfortunately, there's been another terror attack, this time in Tel Aviv and a young man, recently engaged to be married was killed.  Sad. We really are in G-d's hands here, one feels it in Israel all the time.  We wouldn't be here if not for divine protection. It's a good thing G-d is running the world and not the UN.  Anyhow, this pretty much covers many of the recent goings on here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Craft: DIY Hardback sketchbooks

Here is a link to a wonderful and super simple hardback sketchbook/homemade book/journal tutorial from Amy at the Angry Chicken.  I just did this with the kids today and it was a tremendous success.  As I said, I love this kind of simple projects which produce great results and give a child a real sense of accomplishment for having made something useful and beautiful.  The boys decorated the covers of their journals with scrapbooking paper.  This one is a keeper!

Craft: Shaving Cream Paper Marbeling

Here is a link to a great paper marbeling project using shaving cream and food coloring or paint.  I love projects that are simple, don't require exotic ingredients, could be used succesfully with  many age groups and produce beautiful results.  We did a paper marbeling craft a few years ago and the kids loved it, so this looks very promising:)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lots of great geography links- Charlotte Mason, making your own drills and more

My almost nine year old recently requested to do some more formal geography and I've been looking for something ever since.  My husband has been doing a lot of informal geography with the kids and quite successfully.  I used to be the somewhat geographically challenged one in the family, but I've picked some things by osmosis over the years and I really hope that my children will avoid such fate by learning these things painlessly bit by bit when they are young.  Meanwhile, I am enjoying learning with them, another great benefit of learning with one's children, one gets to rectify one's own educational weak spots. We have a big map of the world hanging on the wall of our main living area, with the flags of all the different countries on the bottom.  The map sees regular use as my dh is a great lover of both geography and history, so he often takes them to the map to explain something.  But I figured, it can't hurt to throw something slightly more formal in, especially as it can involve copywork, history or art too.  So here are a few wonderful links I discovered while looking to put together a diy geography curriculum for us.
Here is a link to a great post explaining the mechanics of creating your own short and sweet geography drills
Here are many free printable outline maps with and without labels for coloring or labeling, also more outline map links here for the aforementioned drills.
Enchanted Learning has a ton of geography printables here for about $20 a year.  I am still contemplating whether it's worth it for me to sign up. I like their map coloring activities.
And here is a link to Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography and  here is another CMlike book called Home Geography for Primary Grades by C.C. Long Ph.D.from Project Gutenberg with lots of great information, lovely old-fashioned illustrations and sweet poems, split into short and to the point lessons.
And here is a really exciting looking curriculum from Ellen McHenry that combines history, geography and art for a slightly older age group.
So this should give us a place to start or rather to continue with our geographical learning adventures.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Living Science

There has been a lot of by the way science/nature study  here lately. The weather has been beautiful, whether the unseasonal but much appreciated rain or the seasonal sunshine, it's very conducive to all kinds of springy science stuff.  We've been watching the birds, not specifically so, but while doing other things.  So one day, the seven and a half year old spotted and pointed out a new small bird, with iridescent blue plumage.  I think it's a sunbird of some sort or a perhaps a relative of a hummingbird.  I tried to consult our encyclopedia of local birds, a lovely occupation any time, and under the category of songbirds, it had a bird that sort of looked like our mystery bird, but not 100%.  Anyhow, it just happens that I was browsing through a Janice Van Cleave science book recently and saw a project for a homemade hummingbird feeder, which I thought would be a nice project that the children might like.  And indeed, after the kids saw our bird they enthusiastically endorsed making a bird feeder.  I found lots of great tutorials on line.  Hopefully, I'll post some in a near future.  I also decided to unearth some of our science/outdoor project books to leave around for inspiration.  So I took out the Amazing Outdoor Activity Book by Angela Wilkes,  that has lots of good ideas for things to do with great step by step illustrations.  The children were happily looking through it at various times as hoped.  There are lots of projects there that might appeal to the big boys with help from medium sized girls, which were a bit difficult before, but now would be just right.  Interestingly, the book has a few nice ideas for making bird feeders that we might want to try as well.  We also spend some time watching the haying procedures in the local fields, which is always very exciting - different types of agricultural equipment, the process, etc. I took lots of pictures.  The children later were playing different games transporting imaginary hay bales covered with improvised tarp.  The seven and a half year old made quite realistic looking replicas of tractors with various attachments for plowing, bale making, etc with LEGO blocks.  So lots of excitement.   We had a discussion about fields, raising and feeding sheep ( some flocks came out to pasture, another favorite pastime, sheep watching), the uses of hay and other related subjects.  We made pancakes together.  Kitchens are very useful for science education:) And then, just to add to all the science stuff that was already going on, I came across this  website that has a few very interesting curriculums for living science, things like chemistry for elementary school children, botany, neuroscience and more.  I looked at some samples and they were fantastic.  I am really excited about this find. Some of the offerings are for older children but might come in handy later  down the line.  There is also an interesting curriculum for English etymology, a subject that I find very fascinating and hope my children will too.  There are many free downloads for different subjects as well.   I feel like just as I needed something, these things just appeared, science ideas raining down from heaven, B"H.  Amazing!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Crafts: Two adorable sewing crafts for baby- tights and socks

My eleven month old is enjoying his newly found mobility. On one day he has discoverd how to crawl and how to walk holding on and has been zipping around the house in utter joy, constantly improving his technique, ever since.  I just love watching him in all his fluffy and exultant glory and his sweet antics.  So here are two really cute sewing projects one for baby tights from Made by Rae, which I think could be modified to pants with feet, just right for crawing fluffsters with propensity for removing and losing socks. And here is a link for very sweet DIY baby socks from Made by Joel which look easy enough for a child to make for a younger sibling.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Best of friends

When my oldest son was a toddler, my father got him a little boardbook which told a story of a baby's day, playing, eating, etc. and the last page had a picture of the baby with a friend and a caption read  "best of friends, let's play again tomorrow".  It was no great work of literature but my son really loved that book and asked us to read it to him over and over and over again until both my husband and I knew the whole thing by heart.  So it became kind of a family joke, whenever the kids would do anything or have an interaction with someone which really examplified true friendship, we would quote that line, "best of friends, let's play again tomorrow".   We had many occasions to speak to our children, especially our oldest about what true friendship is and what true brotherhood should look like.  We try very hard to teach our children to be good to their siblings.  In our house, meanness to a sibling is considered almost a cardinal sin, it is simply not tolerated.  So I think, that years of this sort of "propaganda" has paid off, B"H( thank G-d) and they really do have a great dynamic going and they get along well for most part and are caring to each other. Even though we do have times when they fight like cats and dogs, in the end the balance is regained and they return to the "best of friends" mode.  I see it particularly with my oldest two boys.  They are 15 months apart and are as different as night and day.  Both very special but very very different from each other.  If they weren't brothers, I am not sure if I would envision them ever becoming friends.  But they truly are best friends, in a sense that their connection to each other is stronger than it is to any of the friends they've made a connection to this far.  Because of their small age difference in some ways they are almost like twins.  They don't remember life without each other. I am always moved when after an argument or when one of them feels bad, the other will try to comfort his brother.  I love how they lean on each other for support or plan things together or just talk things over before they drift off to sleep.  Sure they fight and sometimes there is a certain feeling of competition but in the end the love and the camaraderie win over and the other things don't for long overshadow their special relationship.  I guess there is a reason why people say things like " I love so and so like a brother".  There is something about this deep kinship that can be very strong and awesome and enduring.  Sometimes I could have a very hard day and they didn't behave as well as they should have but when I see them being good to each other, it warms my heart and makes all the hardships worthwhile.  It helps me understand G-d's point of view better too.  If we are good to each other, than He will be willing to overlook some of our shortcomings.  I hope the boys will continue in the same direction and I am beginning to see something like that developing between the girls as well, but they are younger so it's too early to tell.  But when I see the whole crew getting along well and playing together or showing special sensitivity to each other, I call it a very good day indeed, even if nothing else of substance has been accomplished.  I hope this love and brotherhood and friendship will continue to enrich their lives and they will continue to be best of friends and playing again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.  What else can a parent really wish for?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut Reflections

Today was Yom Hazikaron in Israel, a day when we remember our fallen soldiers and the victims of terror.  Sirens wail, tears flow, there are thanks and speeches and memories and prayers.  I talked to the kids a little bit about the significance of all this.  I think for many Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut(Israel Independence Day) that follows right after,  is a time of reflection abot the past and about the future, about sacrifice, about love of Israel, about this amazing gift that G-d has given us.  As I am writing this, I can see the fireworks out of my window.  Tomorrow many people will be off, there will be barbeques and celebrations. But to me, it's about all the miracles that G-d has granted us and continues to grant us in this holy and beautiful land that is Israel.  Sure, it's great to once again have a country of our own after centuries of unrelenting longing, to have an army of our own, to have Jews from all walks of life and all parts of the world gathered here all together.  But our strength is not derived from political entities or military prowess.  Our strength comes from our spirit, from our dedication to our G-d and His Torah.  May it be His will that we merit His continued miraculous protection.  May there be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more aching hearts.  May we merit true peace which can only come from being true to one's G-d and to our Jewish identity as He envisions it.  May there be no more folly and foolishness.  May G-d continue to bless us in our endeavors and may we merit to contribute to building this special land in whichever capacity we are destined to, whether by learning Torah, serving in the army, in other professional capacities, by building Jewish families and educating the next generations to be proud Torah Jews, etc. There are many ways indeed, Yaakov (Jacob) had 12 sons, each one unique, so there are many ways to build this Land.  There is work to be done and with G-d's help we can do it and make it wonderful.  We have to be thankful for the past and hopeful for the future, give credit where credit is due and understand that all the sacrifice was not in vain and that we perpetuate the memory of those holy souls by living for what they died for.  G-d doesn't perform miracles for nothing (R' Moshe Feinstein) we have to push forward even when things are hard as G-d continues to gives us plenty to be happy about and be grateful for.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flower Suncatcher Box -the results

Well, the contact paper roll got located, I had matzah boxes saved from Pesach just for such an eventuality and the garden was full of varied colorful flowers, grasses and other lovely plants.  So here are the results.  I love projects that are easy, quick and produce beautiful results that kids can appreciate.

Craft: A Flower Suncatcher box

Here is a beautiful and creative project from the Artful Parent which combines art and science, nature study. The kids really liked making those contact paper/tissue paper suncatchers so I think this should go over well.  So I better go find that roll of clear contact paper and the overgrown yard is full of colorful things we can use:) Yes, I think this has to be included in our plans for this week!  How exciting!

Friday, May 6, 2011

On my mind

We had another marathon of a day, at the end of which I had time to reflect on the general direction of our learning year.  I was pleasantly surprised  at how much everyone has grown, how much was learned, how much got done despite me constantly feeling behind and not on top of things.  Which once again just goes to show, that in an atmosphere that encourages learning children will have no choice but learn and with G-d's help even when things go wrong, so to say, they are going right.  We had lots of challenging situations this year and yet I am just amazed at what was accomplished in our short spurts of lessons and lots of by the way learning.  Step by step, drop by drop, moment by moment, it all coalesces  into this intricate tapestry of learning and growth and transformation.  For a parent who is constantly concerned whether we are doing enough this is very encouraging indeed.
Here are some other things I've been thinking about:
I've been looking for a good way to teach programming to children.  This is more for a few years down the line.  However, my soon to be nine year old has really tapped into his technological/mechanical side and this might be relevant.  As I've written before (another post topic coming on?), I feel strongly that computer related activities should not be a major part of a young child's life for many reasons.  But I also have been thinking that computers have to be presented as a tool which is not exclusively associated with internet use which would basically make it more like TV.  So programming is another way that computers can be used in a constructive way minus all the problems of internet addiction, etc.  There are lots of interesting ideas out there and even curriculum suggestions that address these concerns and the actual programming instruction like what languages to teach and how.  This could also be a good practical skill to acquire for a right kind of child.
I've been also rereading some of my homeschooling books to reinspire myself and pick up any suggestions that I might of  missed before or that are relevant now but weren't previously.  It's always nice when I do that.
We've been thinking about various nutritional choices that we've made in the past and rethinking what we as a family should do with everyone's evolving nutritional needs.  Dh has been learning a lot recently about the modern food production and processing and even though he as far away from a health nut as one could get, he's been inspired  to pursue healthier and more organic options, especially in the meat and chicken department.  I am all for.
Of course the various political goings on are enough to upset one's equanimity in a bad way.  I had half a thought to go on a rant for today's post but enough has been written on the subject without me and I really don't need to do anything else to raise my blood pressure:)  So I'll limit myself to saying that G-d fights our battles for us when we do His will and remain united.  Israel has been and will continue to be the homeland of the Jewish people and Jewish people alone, it will behoove the world to read their Bible and those that think that it is not so, can take it up with the Good L-rd.  Human beings by the virtue of being human have a choice to do good or evil,  the Torah tells us to choose good and to choose life and we, the Jewish people, particularly in the land of Israel, intend to do just that.  So the "international community" should keep their suicidal for Israel suggestions to themselves.  We have no intention to self-destruct.  During the last Holocaust, not so long ago, most of the world looked away or worse.  But there were individuals who had the courage to stand up to Evil.  I hope even now they'll stand up and choose Life and Goodness and Truth together with us.  I know that G-d is guiding our steps and we have nothing to fear.  So be strong and courageous, G-d is leading us as individuals and as a people to where we have to go.  Fasten your seatbelts!  We are living in interesting times. The world is shaking and it's better to be on the right side of history rather than go down in infamy. 
So this has been a short sampling of various things that are swirling around my busy mind.  Sorry kind of random and rambling.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Today was the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar.  I usually give the kids some little treat in honor of the occasion or we try to make some extra special meal or do a project. The schedule is generally lighter on Rosh Chodesh for us.  So today, I was hoping to either make some homemade journals with them or do some vegetable fabric dying.  In the end I couldn't get the supplies I needed in the stores because everyone seemed to be out of the things that I needed.  So, instead, I thought I'd drop by the bookstore and pick up a set of encyclopedias I had my eye on for a while and saved some money for.  But in the end the encyclopedia turned out to be more expensive than I thought it was but they had another book sale.  So the encyclopedia will have to wait but I got some other books .  The almost nine year old is a voracious reader and he was long overdue for some new reading material.  So being that I couldn't buy what I came for, I had some extra money and the kids were asking for a Lego type set for a while so I bought one large one and some dolls for the girls.  I don't mind buying educational, openended and versatile toys now and then. So we didn't get to the projects I planned but the kids spent a lot of time building with the brick set.  I told them we'd make some pizza for Rosh Chodesh and they LOVE to bake and cook.  So we did that and threw in a chocolate chip cake into the bargain while we were baking anyway.  This part of today worked out well, thank G-d.  I aslo made a fruit salad for snack, which was much appreciated by the crew on a very hot day (we are having a heat wave.)Otherwise... The boys were reluctant to their regular scheduled lessons but in the end it got done and reasonably well.  Read some to the little ones.  Counted on the new abacus with the five year old.  Thought about lots of educational stuff and all the things I'd like to post but don't get to because someone always seems to be up or needing something.  Had some really irritable moments.  Tried to deal with various behavioral issues.  Watched my kids watch the neighbourhood children collecting firewood for the Lag B'Omer bonfires.  Noted the flags that are waving all around the neighbourhood in preparation for the Israel Independence day.  Had my usual conniptions about the general state of hypocrisy, lack of intellectual honesty, poor analytical skills and absence of standards in our age of journalism driven by pure political or other agendas. Tried to straighten up, feed everyone, get everyone off to bed while still holding on to some semblance of sanity.  Found some interesting links that I should post some time in the next decade.  Learned some useful things from other homeschooling family blogs.  Took stock of things that did go well today.  Brooded over the things that didn't.  Did some tentative planning for tomorrow. It's been a full day and I pray to have many more where I have the energy and wisdom and patience to make them full in a positive and transformative sense.  Chodesh Tov, a good and meaningful and healing moth to all!  A friend told me some time back that Iyar is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha- I am G-d Your Healer!  I could certainly use some healing in many areas of my life and so does the world!  Have a good one!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Don't Quit Poem

Here is a really wonderful poem by an unknown author, which has just the right message for the days when things don't go quite as one would have liked.  It's also good poetry and my dh remarked, that it is just the kind of a poem that children were made to memorize many moons ago when memorization and elocution were an important part of education.  I think every home educating parent has to keep this one handy:) Enjoy!

hen things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit --
Rest if you must, but don't quit.

ife is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow --
You may succeed with another blow.

ften the goal is nearer than
It seems to a fair and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

uccess is failure turned inside out --
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit, --
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

-- Author Unknown --

Monday, May 2, 2011

The goings on

We are still in our post-Pesach recovery period.  The kids have been somewhat discombobulated and quite wild at times.  But just today as I was feeling somewhat discouraged, we had a very good learning day, thank G-d.  We are continuing with the Math Mammoth and the Beautiful Italics Handwriting for Children.  The big boys are doing well with both.  They are still busy with their electronic kits, especially the almost nine year old.  We've also attempted some experiments with a solar battery toy and a kit, with limited success,but I think the kids got the general idea and living in Israel they are very familiar with the use of solar power to heat water, etc.  I've done some abacus activities with the almost five year old and the three year old usually get involvled with all of her sister's activities as well.  I am hoping to do more with them in the coming weeks.  In general there was a whole lot of tinkering around by the kids, lot of outdoor and free play. They are talking of making a clubhouse.  We've enjoyed repeating some of the exciting science experiments we've tried in the past.  We used binoculars to observe our environment, much to everyone's enjoyment.  I am glad I got good quality binoculars for them.  They really enjoyed watching someone fly a remote controlled model airplane next to our house.  We've watched various agricultural activities in the neighbouring fields. We saw a fire being put out.  I am trying to keep things very basic for now but it looks like a lot has been happening as is, educationally.  I am hoping to fit some projects in when things calm down.   There has been a request for more geographical activities so hopefully I'll find a way to accommodate that.  The baby is learning to stand and walk and is very sweet and the kids all love him.  But he requires a lot of my attention most of the time which often limits my availability for other things.  I am noticing though that the older children are taking more initiative and coming up with their own ideas and plans which gives me more space and limits the need for my constant participation and involvement.  I am contemplating music lessons for them.  We have had some very good discussions and I've been gratified to hear some good discussions among themselves. We had some good read alouds, and spend lots of time with our overseas relatives. Their uncle is a fantastic storyteller and his original offerings were both instructive and highly enjoyable for the kids.   They are a very active and jolly bunch,  very intense and articulate and requiring a lot of input and attention from their parents. There are many things to work on and many areas to explore and strengthen but for now, I think things are good as they are, not perfect by far but certainly good.  Education is really a lifelong process, one can't always pack it all into a particular moment.  Slowly things take a form on its own but patience is required to see how it all plays out in the long term.  It's important though to enjoy and appreciate the process itself, all the small victories, the many separate moments of learning and inspiration.  It's important to stop sometimes and appreciate that regardles of how far one still has to go, that one has already come quite far, often much further than one expected.  Thank G-d.  Onwards we press on.