Just to make sure we use lots of manipulatives, I put together a math box. We use Math-U-See, which I love, but sometimes we need to slow down the pace. So I will now make a point of letting the kids have a couple days to “play” with the manipulatives and the Math-U-See blocks when we learn new concepts. I collected all kinds of interesting things for the kids to count, sort, add, subtract, etc. They have already been anxious to try it out.
Holly used her “Chanukah” money from Gramma to buy a wooden peg loom. I am so thrilled to see her take to it like she has. She comes from a long line of women who worked willingly with their hands. My grandmother made embroidered tablecloths. My aunt spun wool and hooked rugs. My mother did a lot of weaving when she was younger, and is currently the best seamstress east of the Mississippi. (I love you, Mom!) I spin, dye, and knit. So, I am thrilled to have a budding fiber artist in my midst. She has about completed her first project, and is thoroughly enjoying it. Paper and scissors are great, but I love seeing my children involved with really useful projects.
We wouldn’t want to leave the boys out, so here’s a tribute to my little man, Isaac. He’s a true knight in training. If only he didn’t cry louder than the girls when he gets hurt lol!
I thought I’d check in real quick and give you a picture of prep day at our house. The key for me has been maintenance throughout the week. I can’t be hohum about housework for days 1-5 and then magically become Martha Stewart on prep day. Believe me, I’ve tried. A good working schedule has been very important for me. Then I’m not trying to do a week’s worth of work while the sun is rapidly setting on Friday night.
This has been a weird week, and has shown me the need to tweek my schedule once again. I planned a trip that had to be cancelled because of weather delays at my husband’s job. I made several business calls. I’m trying to get back in the swing of school after forgetting the kids’ books at Marme’s house last week. My mind keeps drifting to pregnancy topics. I also starting writing my book about Torah for beginning readers. This sounds like a good time to rethink my schedule. I need to block off more time for certain activities, so that I can set them aside and focus on other things, knowing the time is there to work on them later. This applies mostly to writing for me. I can work on cleaning the house if mentally I know that I have all evening to focus on writing. You may have things like this in your life, too. Try working out a schedule, so that you can put all your energy into the task at hand, and not be distracted by everything else that needs to be done.
(The link in my sidebar, Telling your Time, was very helpful to me.)
What does this have to do with prep day? You have to maintain a good level in your home all week, so prep day simply consists of doublechecking and putting on finishing touches. At least, that’s the ideal lol!
This week I am sharing some before pictures of my kitchen and living room. I will do my very best to post the after pictures before 3:00, when this linky ends.
Here is my to-do list for today. It could have been shorter if I had paid better attention to my schedule lol!
1. Put away clean laundry
2. Bake bread
3. Feed animals
4. Take out garbage
5. Clean kitchen
6. Make sure kids clean their rooms and bathroom
7. Everyone bathed
8. Check sandwich fillings for Shabbat dinner
9. Plan and prepare dinner for tonight, probably enchiladas
10. Make barley cereal in crockpot for Shabbat breakfast
That should do it. The other thing I’ve learned about prep day is prioritizing. I learned from Sandra Felton in one of her books, that you do the 20% of work that makes the 80% impact. No one will know if you didn’t scrub the tub with a toothbrush. But your baby will notice if you didn’t wash his diapers. Have a lovely prep day, and I’ll check in again this afternoon, if all is going well!
I would like to retell a story that was a real blessing to me. I heard it from Thurman Scrivner on one of his teaching tapes. It may not be an absolutely faithful retelling, but I will do my best to keep the spirit of it.
A man, happily married for many years, decided one day that he wanted to increase his faith. So he prayed and asked God to give him a greater measure of faith. Satisfied that his prayer would be answered, he went to sleep. The next morning, his lovely wife rolled over and made a simple comment. He simply thought, “How dare she talk to me that way?”
The day began and again, she made a comment. “This woman is out of control!”
By the time a third innocent comment came out of her mouth, he completely lost it. “I’ve had it with your bickering and complaining! You always nag and talk to me so disrespectful! I’m leaving!”
His dear sweet wife simply asked, “We only have one car. How are you going to leave?”
To which he responded in exagerrated tones, “I’m taking the bicycle!”
With that he was gone. He rode that bicycle like it was a mad bull. Or was he the mad bull? He fussed and fumed, and the farther he rode, the madder he got. Eventually his adrenaline and anger gave out and he fell off the bike into a heap. He soon found himself in the bottom of a ditch covered with crawling ants. He jumped up and began to yell at God. “How dare you let this happen to me? I asked for more faith and here I am in a ditch covered with ants!”
He heard a very simple, quiet response. “You failed your test.”
As the truth of this statement sunk in, he fell on his knees and repented for his awful spirit. God was quick to forgive, as He always is.
But now the man was in a ditch, with no idea where he was, and nothing but a bicycle. He saw a gas station across the street, and began to make his way there, to get directions. But before he made it inside, a familiar car pulled in. It belonged to some friends of his. They saw him and rolled down their window. “What are you doing here? We were just on our way to visit you and your lovely wife!”
Yes, his dear lovely wife that he had yelled at and abandoned at home. His friends asked to follow him there to make sure they didn’t get lost. “Where’s your car, so we can follow you?”
“Well, I don’t have the car.”
“So how’d you get here?”
“I took the bicycle.” This response was, of course, as quiet as possible.
“You rode the bicycle? You’re 50 miles from home!”
But the gracious and loving God we serve not only sent friends to this dear man, but they were driving a truck that he could throw the bicycle in. When he reached his home, he immediately ran inside and begged his precious wife for forgiveness.
She simply responded, “I thought something funny was going on, so I just prayed for you the whole time.”
When we seek to grow in our faith, we must prepare ourselves. We seek to climb a hill, but our desire to climb the hill does not make that hill flat. Faith and growth comes with testing. We have a wonderful, loving God to help us when the testing comes, but the testing will come, all the same. Sometimes we will “fail,” and He will pick us back up so we can try again. But sometimes, we will remember to lean on Him, the author and perfector of our faith, and we will climb to greater heights of obedience and faith. But, no matter what, we must never stay in the ditch, covered with crawling ants!
I’ve been teaching the kids how to use my Zojirushi bread machine this week. They have been learning to read the recipe and measure correctly. With my supervision, they have been doing quite well. So I thought I would learn something new, too. I have heard about soaking grains and flours, but have never actually done it. (blush) I pulled out my copy of “Nourishing Traditions” and decided to try banana bread.
Here is a picture of my fresh ground flour soaking. I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used the old trick of adding a little lemon juice to the milk. I managed to let it soak for about 18 hours before I added the other ingredients. I added cinnamon, since you can never go wrong with cinnamon. Well, it went so well, that it also disappeared quite quickly.
Rather than give you a thesis on how wonderful Torah is, and the blessings of obedience, I’d like to put this on the bottom shelf. I’d like to give you a top ten list that will give you a very clear picture of why we keep Torah. Enjoy!
Top Ten Excuses children use for not cleaning their room. (Or top ten reasons people don’t keep Torah.)
10. I can’t clean it perfectly, because I can’t reach under the bed. So I just won’t bother.
9. I’ll wipe the kitchen table off, and that will be good enough.
8. I don’t feel a warm desire inside to clean, so I don’t have to.
7. Only 16 year olds with red hair are expected to clean their rooms anymore. The rest of us don’t have to.
6. I’ll clean it on Tuesday, today’s not a good day for me.
5. Mommy really doesn’t mean “clean your room,” she means “tell your friends to brush their teeth.”
4. I don’t understand why I have to clean my room.
3. Dustcloths and vacuums are not cool.
2. I’m okay with picking up my clothes, but making beds is completely out of date.
1. Mommy made her bed, so now I don’t have to make mine.
Just in case you missed it, let me translate that list into the reasons people don’t keep Torah.
10. The law is impossible to keep, so why try?
9. I can invent my own ways to worship God.
8. I don’t have a conviction to obey.
7. The law is only for the Jews.
6. I can worship God on Sunday.
5. I can spiritualize the law, in effect removing the need to obey.
4. The law doesn’t make sense to me.
3. I don’t want to be different from other people.
2. I can pick and choose the laws I obey.
1. The Messiah kept the law, so I don’t have to.
If you are finding yourself holding onto anything on this list, I would encourage you to put your faith in action. Begin to obey, and then watch as your Heavenly Father shows you the meaning and the blessing of keeping His precious Torah. If you claim to be part of His family, then please begin following His house rules.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Many of my precious brothers and sisters in the house of YHVH are doing their best to obey the house rules. Praise YHVH! I just want to encourage you that we are asked to try, not keep it perfectly. Just keep “cleaning your room,” and YHVH will be there to help you get the stuff under the bed. 🙂
I feel like Job in chapter 42. I am humbled before an Almighty Elohim who controls the weather and creates mighty beasts that no one can tame. He is not to be questioned and not to be told what He will do. I am not worthy of His attention or His favor. Many others suffer great pain, financial loss, death. I face none of these things. I am truly blessed with health, prosperity, and freedom to obey my Creator. I fall on shaking knees not daring to ask for a thing for me.
But then I look up and see my Savior. He is suffering great pain, disease, humiliation and death. He has all power in the universe yet He is brought this low. And then He catches my eye. He looks directly into my soul and says, “I do this for you, so that by my stripes you can be healed.”
To be given another day is more than I deserve. To be given eternal life is sufficient. To have Him care about my little “problems” that mean nothing in the scheme of things is love beyond compare.
YHVH, my Father, you have given me everything. You have healed my heart broken by sin. You have healed my life that could have been utterly destroyed if not for You. It is sufficient. If you choose to heal more, I can only offer up a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which is truly no sacrifice at all, but the least I can do. So for all that you have healed on me beyond man’s explanation, I am truly grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I would like to introduce my latest project. It’s a series of printable books that you can make up and use as another way to teach Torah to your little ones. Little kids will enjoy having mommy or daddy read it to them, and beginning readers will enjoy reading a book all by themselves. This first book is all about preparation day. I hope you enjoy it! We gave ours to our cousins, so we need to print a new one lol!
Download: It’s Preparation Day! printable book
More are on the way as I’m able to get them ready. Be watching for them!
This week’s challenge was to focus on what we could hear, see, and feel. Thanks to Daddy coming along and acting as photographer, we have a few extra photos this week. 🙂
Overall, it was very quiet during our nature hike, but we definitely could hear lots of snapping branches. There is lots of deadwood where we took our walk.
We saw something very interesting, goldenrod in three different stages, all within a few feet of each other.
My Mom and I were talking about the power of our positive words. When we speak goodness, truth, positive words, particularly Torah, the whole universe is knit together. However, when we speak negative, hurtful words, we actually bring violence to the earth. Storms, hurricanes, volcanoes, are the earth violently responding to the curse and our negative words. Words are powerful. I believe it is Brad Scott who teaches more on this subject. Well, this thought has really stuck with me the last few days. What is my speech bringing to the environment around me? What is it bringing to my family? What is it bringing to me and the little baby inside me? I have tried to be very mindful of my speech the last few days, and I encourage you to do the same. I have failed miserably, but I’m trying and growing.
Here are some positive thoughts to get us all going. They are quotes from the Amidah. Doug pointed out to me that each prayer ends with “Blessed are you, YHVH…” So, here they are.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the shield of Abraham.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who resurrects the dead.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the holy Elohim.
Blessed are you, YHVH, gracious giver of wisdom.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who desires repentance.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the gracious one who pardons abundantly.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the Redeemer of Israel.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who heals the sick of His people, Israel.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who blesses the years.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who gathers in the dispersed of His people of Israel.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the King who loves righteousness and judgment.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who breaks enemies and humbles sinners.
Blessed are you, YHVH, mainstay and assurance of the righteous.
Blessed are you, YHVH, the builder of Yerushaliym.
Blessed are you, YHVH, Who causes the pride of salvation to flourish.
Blessed are you, YHVH, Who hears prayers.
Blessed are you, YHVH, Who restores His presence to T’zion.
Blessed are you, YHVH, Your name is the Beneficient One and to You it is fitting to give praise.
Blessed are you, YHVH, who blesses His people with shalom.
Shabbat Shalom, everyone!
Feeling a bit dreary and cold outside? Try celebrating Chanukah in a whole new way. Focus on the true story of the Maccabees and do some great activities as you go along. I have written a family friendly version of their story which I call “Jonathan’s Story.”
“Jonathan’s Story” is finished and ready for you to download. There are eight parts to the story, one for each day of Chanukah. Be sure to check out the activities before Chanukah. Some are spontaneous, but some may require you to gather some materials ahead of time.
Download: “Jonathan’s Story”
Please take the time to share your Maccabee based Chanukah celebration with us, so we can all get more ideas for next year. Post a link to your blog post below.
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…
Yes, I’ve heard all of these questions, many legitimate. What is my answer to why I’d have another baby?
Forgive me ladies! I couldn’t resist posting just a little snippet. We have to keep those appetites whetted until the PDF comes out, after all. Enjoy, the rest will be following very shortly.
We had no woman in our household to help us prepare for Shabbat, so Eleazar made the extra bread and set aside some special dried fruit he had grabbed when we fled Modin. We were anxious to rest since it had been a very long week. We had no torah to read or synagogue to meet in, but we each had memorized many sections of torah, and Simeon would recite the portion for us. As the sun went down, we did our best to lay our cares aside and rest in YHVH’s wonderful love. The cave was damp and smelled funny, but I preferred it to Modin, where the soldiers had taken over every house.
As the sun appeared on the eastern horizon, Simeon awoke us all with beautiful Hebrew phrases. The story of Phineas rolled off his tongue as we rose from our slumber. Phineas was so brave and did what was right. I hoped I could be that brave.
As the sun rose the next day, a man came running toward the opening of our cave. He was a friend, a man that had been hiding several miles from our cave. He nearly tripped in his hurry to reach us. My Father met him outside and spoke quietly with him. He brought the man inside and gave him some bread and water. Then he looked up at us and said, “We will choose life. Our brothers have just been killed, one thousand of them, because they would not fight on the Sabbath. But YHVH wants us to live! We will fight and we will live and we will give torah to our children’s children. Those wicked men will not wipe us off the face of the earth!”
Thank you, everyone, for your very positive response to “Jonathan’s Story.” I plan to have it completed in the next few days, and it will be available in PDF for your convenience. (Thank you, Pam!)
I hope everyone has a very meaningful and powerful Chanukah this year!
There has been much talk of Chanukah lately, especially with it only two weeks away. Parents want to teach their children truth rather than fairy tales, but still maintain the fun and build memories. I humbly offer my contribution. I propose a dramatic retelling of the Maccabees story, with a cliffhanger at the end of each day. I have also included a few fun activities to follow each day’s part of the story. I have posted part 1 below, to be read on the first day of Chanukah. If you like it and think it would be helpful to your family, please, please leave a comment. Then I will post the other seven parts of the story. I hope you enjoy it.
My name is Jonathan. When I was young, terrible times came to our people. We were told we could no longer obey the precious torah of our fathers. A strong and mighty, but desperately wicked king named Antiochus Epiphanes rose to power. I remember it like it was yesterday…
My brother Judas burst through the door.
“Father, have you heard the news? The beautiful lamp stand and all the wonderful things in the temple are gone!”
“Yes, Judas. I heard.” Mattithias, my father, looked up and I could see that he was weeping.
“I fear terrible times are about to visit our people. Many have not been faithful. YHVH promised to curse us if we do not obey. If only they could see that the precious commandments bring life and happiness. They teach us how to love each other and worship our Creator.”
I began to cry too, to see my father so upset.
As the days passed, news came that Antiochus had reversed all the laws of torah and set up false gods, idols, and pagan practices throughout the land of Israel. The family down the street had a little baby boy named Caleb. They circumcised him on the eighth day, just as torah commands. But soldiers came for them. My father did not hear in time to help them.
He gathered my brothers and I together and we did not eat. I was hungry, but I knew there were more important things than food. We prayed, and confessed, and pleaded with YHVH to save our people. When we finally got up from our fast and began to eat bread, I saw a look on my father’s face. I shall never forget it. He was determined, his face in stone, and he simply said, “Boys, we will obey YHVH no matter what.”
The next day, I helped load food on the donkeys. Dried fruit and cakes and wine in a goatskin were loaded, along with blankets. We began our trip to Jerusalem. I was worried. Wouldn’t there be trouble there? Hadn’t they already sacrificed a pig on the altar? I shuddered at the thought. What was my father thinking?
As we saw Jerusalem rise up ahead of us on the horizon, my father began proudly singing the songs of ascent.
“Praise ye YHVH! Praise, oh ye servants of YHVH! Praise the name of YHVH! Blessed is the name of YHVH from this time forth and forevermore.”
My brothers and I all lifted our voices together. It seemed as though the rocks sang out with us, relieved to hear a familiar song.
And then the gate loomed up ahead of us, and I wondered what lied ahead.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Activities: Read the Psalms of Ascent – Psalm 113-118. Use tambourines, drums, whistles etc. and pretend to march up to Jerusalem while reading the psalms. Even in troubled times, the Maccabees held their heads high, determined to obey YHVH.
A beautiful cd with the Psalms 120-134 sung in hebrew is available here.
The scriptures tell us that even the stones want to cry out and praise YHVH. Paint some rocks with pictures of YHVH’s beautiful creation.
I know I’m a bit late in the game, but I was pleased to discover The Outdoor Hour last week. I have the book “Handbook of Nature Study,” but it had been sitting on a shelf. We are not new to the idea of nature study however. I have been teaching my children flower names and looking for spider webs, etc. for years. I have fond memories of walking the yard with my Dad, while he checked on all the trees he had planted. He loved to show me the new growth on the pine trees and name the wildflowers that he knew. I used to joke that any tree that was shorter than me was only a stick in the ground. Perhaps this fed his desire to check for growth literally every day. At any rate, he gave me a love for nature and walking around looking for details. Thanks, Dad!
So we got back in the habit this week, and went for a nature hike along one of our property lines. My kids were very excited to go for a walk with mommy, but were a bit skeptical when I told them to try to find something new and special. Holly told me, “Mom, there is no way we are going to find something new. We’ve seen everything out here.” At first, I was tempted to believe her. We have seen these trees, and grass, even the remains from squirrels eating up in the tree. But YHVH is not limited by trees and grass. He gave us some wonderful new things to see.
First, they noticed that the grass and weeds were changing color, just like the leaves on the trees. We found red strawberry leaves, and orange fern. Some seagulls flew overhead. Then, as the kids ran ahead a little, I looked down and saw a rather surprising thing, a piece of birch bark. I didn’t know we had any birch trees. So I showed the kids the unique bark and challenged them to find the tree it came from. A search commenced, and soon we found a lone birch tree that even I couldn’t get my arms around. What a delight, especially since this is one of my favorite trees. We talked about birch bark canoes, and how I used to write notes on the pieces of bark.
We also discovered some lovely green moss on the ground. The kids enjoyed feeling the fuzzy texture. We, of course had to see if we could find some on the trees. We found about three varieties. By the way, moss does not just grow on the north side of trees, as I had always heard. So, if you’re expecting to use moss to get you out of the woods, think again!
Our other very cool discovery was a fallen tree branch that was bigger than the tree it snapped from. It must have come down in our recent nasty wind storm. I was able to nonchalantly point out that the wood turns gray as it is exposed to the weather.
An old bottle, a wayward corn husk, and the always essential pinecones made their way into our collection.
We keep the seventh day Shabbat.
I have been blessed to begin praying the Amidah every night before I go to bed. In case you are unaware, the Amidah is a collection of 18 prayers that Jews around the world pray three times a day. When you see people at the wailing wall, they are praying the Amidah. I was surprised to find out the Yahshua and even Daniel were probably praying the Amidah.
It is beautiful and so relevant. I would like to share some of my favorite parts.
“You sustain the living with kindness, resurrect the dead with abundant mercy, support the fallen, heal the sick, release the confined, and maintain the faith of those who sleep in the dust.”
I love the idea that even when His people are dead and gone, He maintains their faith and promises to resurrect them when the time comes.
“Forgive us our Father, for we have sinned; pardon us, our King, for we have willfully sinned; for You pardon and forgive. Blessed are You, YHVH, the gracious one who pardons abundantly.”
This is something we should certainly be praying three times a day. To be quick to confess is to find forgiveness quickly.
“Sound the shofar for our freedom, raise the banner to gather our exiles and gather us together from the four corners of the earth.”
I feel like this is our call home, and Judah prays it every day! Some day soon, they will recognize their brother Ephraim and we will all live together in the land with Yahshua at our head. Praise YHVH.
“We shall thank You and relate your praise – for our lives, which are committed to Your power and for our souls that are entrusted to You.”
This is something I have been trying to pray from the bottom of my heart. The idea of resting myself in YHVH’s hands can be scary and also is the only thing that brings real peace. But as I read the Psalms and even the prayers in the Amidah, YHVH is a God that can be trusted. He shows great kindness to His people and never forsakes them. His compassion never ceases.
“For Your miracles that are with us every day and for Your wonders and favors in every season – evening, morning, and afternoon.”
I want to be watching so I can see the miracles and favors. He is so good and His kindness is shown even in the things that seem hard to us. May I recognize His hands even when the road seems rough.
If you are interested in learning more about the Amidah, I found an excellent article with the full Amidah at the end, found here.
How do I know if my child is ready to learn to read? Is three too young? Is six too late? I tortured myself over this with my first and have since learned ways to watch an individual child to see if they can handle learning to read. I would like to share a little trick that I came across a few years ago. It really seems to hold true, so here it is.
Does your child draw people in their pictures? If they do, what do the people look like? Are they big circles with a face? Do they have arms and legs? Being able to draw a person and put the parts in the right place seems to match up with the brain’s ability to put letters together to form words. Let me show you what I mean.
Are you excited about teaching your children, but feel you need a bit of hand holding? I feel very confident putting you safely in the hands of the Elliotts at Homeschooling Torah. Along with their Torah based curriculum, they offer lots of support for things like teaching reading.