Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Alef is for Apple- Hebrew Reading Curriculum Review


I am in love with this Curriculum.
My kids absolutely love doing it.
If you do not have an early childhood Alef Beis Curriculum, Click Here and get Alef is for Apple right now.


You will receive a 55 page workbook where each Hebrew letter is connected to English words that begin with that sound. Alef is for Apple. Beis is for Box. Gimmel is for Glasses etc. 

The reason I love this idea is that as much as I would love my kids to learn Hebrew at a young age, my four year old simply does not relate to the fact that a house in Hebrew is a Bayit, so coloring a house on a page with a Beis does not really do much for them.

On the other hand, if you look at the example page above, my 5 year old can literally zoom through the book on his own and loves the independence.

And that is just the beginning.


You will receive a bag filed with miniatures that are connected to each letter. On the previous photo we have a small bag of Glitter to glue on the Gimmel. A bag of Buttons for Beis, Ducks for Daled, Crayons for Kaf and so on.

This all makes sense to the little ones and its hands on as they get to glue each bag of goodies onto each letter as they learn it.

And this all comes together in one package. The book and bag of miniatures.

I cannot recommend this enough.

Here is their website- http://www.alefisforapple.com and the prices are amazing.

Have fun!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SPD- Sensory Processing Disorder: An Eye Opener

All of my kids have electric toothbrushes. Except my 7 year old daughter. Lets call her Munchkin. Munchkin refuses to use an electric toothbrush and has opted for a manual one with a picture of Hello Kitty on it. Okay, to each his own, right?

Now Munchkin has always had an issue with clothing. Anything with a tag, lace, zippers, buttons, hard fabrics, tight fitting clothes, these have always been absolute no-no's. On the other hand, she has always slept with her extra soft blanky, loves fabrics like silks and velvets, and the looser the outfit, the better. I have always thought that this was 'her style' of dressing.

She seemed to get angry very easily. If you sat in her chair at dinner, it was the end of the world. If one of her siblings cut her off or spoke while she was speaking, life as we knew it was over. I figured she is just 'really sensitive' and is just 'an angry child.' There are actually articles about 'angry children.' I read them all.

At birthday parties and social gatherings, she will hang around for the first 10 ten minutes but after that she quietly retreats to her bedroom. I always thought that she was just an introvert, like her mom, and just longed for and enjoyed the silence and tranquility of her own company.

We have a house full of kids and while my kids are far from angels, the noise level is healthy. Yes, there are plenty of fights, yelling, crying, but I wouldnt say its the majority of the time. Yet when these fights or tantrums occur, Munchkin cannot handle it. She tells me she is moving in with her best friend next door where its quiet and peaceful. I always thought she was just my little drama queen.

I have written about 'Homeschooling the Anxious Child' referring to Munchkin and how she needs her day layed out in front of her. She needs to be in control of what is happening and what she does. I always thought she just has a strong personality with a high amount of anxiety to go along with it.

But over Chanukah, we had lots of parties almost every night. I noticed Munchkin would have a complete melt down at the end of each party. It seemed that each night the melt downs seemed to escalate and get more and more intense. I kept complaining to my husband what a difficult child we have. The last melt down she had I honestly thought the windows would shatter she screamed so loud.

In the mornings though, when things were quiet, she was the perfect angel.

Something was not quite right. I mean, academically she is doing great. She has very healthy social skills, her fine and gross motor skills seem normal for her age, so what on earth could be the problem?

I decided to call my aunt as I remember as a child my cousin would have these crazy melt downs at all family functions. I figured maybe she could give me some advice on how to handle 'my difficult child.'

Within 2 minutes of the conversation, she said these magic words that changed everything.

"Your Munchkin sounds like she has Sensory Processing Disorder. Contact an Occupational Therapist as soon as you can and both your life and her life with be transformed."

This is what her daughter had, and with the right therapy and early intervention, she will be okay.

I started doing crazy research on this and the more and more I learnt, the more everything made sense.

I have tears in my eyes just writing this.

My Munchkin is not a 'difficult child.' Her body just does not process things like the rest of us.

At a birthday party with 10 kids, to her it feels like being in a room with 100 people, its almost hard to breathe.

When using an electric toothbrush, the nerves in her body are so highly sensitive its like having a full on power tool racing around her mouth.

When she wears clothing that are too fitted, with tags or not soft, to her little body it feels like she is wearing a shirt made out of sandpaper rubbing against her skin.

When her younger sister has a tantrum, while the rest of the family are happy to ignore it, to her body, it feels like her sister has taken a megaphone and is screaming directly into her ear while scraping her nails along a chalk board.

My sweet Munchkin is not a 'difficult child.' She just needs the tools to deal with life the way she is experiencing it.

Now that we know this, its like a whole new world.  I now understand my sweet child. And when I see a possible trigger, I do my best to help her work through it. We will be starting OT after the Holidays and between our wonderful Occupational Therapist and our working with her at home, I know she will be okay.

But for any of you moms out there that can relate to any part of this post, there is an amazing amount of hope out there.

I will keep you all posted as we embark on this new journey!

Wishing you all a wonderful week,
Always,



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keeping Up with Ourselves- A Chanukah Lesson

My son recently received a sweatshirt as a gift from my mom. He thought it was the absolute coolest sweatshirt ever. It has a hood, lots of shades of green (his favorite color) and it zips all the way up with some mesh pieces over his face which is just super cool.

Being that we live in the tropics, he doesn't get to wear his new favorite sweatshirt that often but the second it is remotely chilly he has it on with a smile from ear to ear. He really loves his new sweatshirt!

Every Wednesday he takes an art class at the local elementary school down the road. A few weeks ago it was raining really hard and strangely chilly, so he was super excited to be able to wear his awesome sweatshirt to his art class.

As he got there, I noticed a bunch of boys standing around him and commenting on how cool his sweatshirt was. Apparently its a cool sweatshirt among boys his age (9) and he was just made aware of this as being homeschooled, he really has no clue what clothes are considered 'cool'. He just knows what HE likes. And he likes this sweatshirt because of the colors and the hood and the cool way it zips up. Not because it is considered cool.

We have a young lady who comes over once a week to play, she just turned 12 and loves coming over. She does these amazing projects with my kids, makes music videos with them, directs plays, make up dances, she is so creative and my kids are her perfect little actors and performers whom she can direct and bring out her talent. She loves it, they love it, I love it, its a win win.

A few nights ago we had a Chanukah party and she asked if she could bring a friend from school. I told her of course and that night there were a bunch of kids at the party. After we lit the Menorah, we put on music and brought all the kids to the grass to dance.

We made a huge circle holding hands and started dancing around. the next thing I know, her friend started running really fast, dragging the kid next to her, which was a ripple effect and suddenly the kids were running really fast in this circle and all the kids came toppling on top of each other. Some little ones were really not happy about it. We all got back up and made a circle again and I noticed this young lady who is always so respectful and so wonderful when she comes over started acting a little too wild and between her and her friend the circle just fell apart. I was really disappointed but then I realized this is very normal middle school behavior. Peer pressure.

Both these experiences made me see the Miracle of Chanukah on a very personal level.

We live in a huge world where everyone is trying to keep up with every one else.

The Greeks wanted the Jews to do just that. To be like them.

When we homeschool, we give our kids the gift of making decisions based on their own opinion, not the opinion of others. They do not have the issue of peer pressure on a daily basis.

My daughter has her own fashion sense. She wears things that she likes, colors that she likes. She plays with toys that she loves, not toys that are cool or in style.

My sisters gifted her with an American Girl Doll. She had no idea what this was, she figured its just a pretty doll. Needless to say, she was not too impressed as she doesn't love playing with dolls, she prefers miniatures. So she gave it to her younger sister.

The beauty of knowing yourself, and knowing what YOU like and enjoy, is such a special gift. The Jews had to be so strong during that time that the Greeks were trying to change them. Its just like that today except we just don't realize it.

So take this Chanukah and appreciate being who YOU are. The foods YOU like, the clothes YOU choose. The things that make YOU happy. Its NOT about what you SHOULD do. Don't compare yourself to other moms, don't compare your kids to other kids. Be you, because that is who Hashem created you to be. Embrace it.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and may the rest of Chanukah be filled with lots of light and many many miracles!

Chanukah Sameach!
Always,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Montessori and Chanukah Fun Printables and More!

My dear and very talented friend Nechamy has very graciously started contributing her gorgeous and very well made Montessori inspired printable activities to my blog for all of you to enjoy-

Feel free to download and print some or all of these fabulous Chanukah activities for your munchkins, all made and put together by Nechamy just for you... 




And of course, these adorable books from Mish and Mush- just click on the images to purchase and enhance your Chanukah experience...




And check out these super cute Chanukah themed card games and activities from Emily Sper...




Just click on the above images to make these adorable activities yours~

Enjoy the rest of your week and stay tuned for a wonderful Alef Bet curriculum review and some more fantastic Alef Bet activities from the wonderfully talented Nechamy!

Always,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Adorable Menorah Decorating Kits



Whenever I go with my kids to Costco this time of year, they are always fascinated by the Gingerbread House making kit. Knowing it is not Kosher, they know not to even ask for it but talk about how cool it would be to make one.

A friend recently sent me a link to Sweet Thrills Bakeshop  where I saw they had Gingerbread Menorah Decorating Kits... that were KOSHER!!! PARVE!!!

I immediately contacted them and asked if they would send me one to review for all of you and within a few days the kit arrived--- and oh my goodness!!!



We opened it up and here is what was inside:


Which you put together to make this:



I mean, can you get any cuter? And the prices are SO decent- I highly recommend you hop on over to their website Sweet Thrills Bakeshop and check out their products- 

For Chanukah they have 3 different options and its all Kosher Parve!!!

A great Chanukah gift and activity for the kids- Enjoy and Happy almost Chanukah!

Always,

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Dreidel that wouldn't Spin- a Chanukah Book Review

In this very sweet story, a peddler gives a very beautiful dreidel to the greedy owner of a toy shop.



The shopkeeper sells this dreidel twice to two separate spoiled children for a very high price only to have them both come back to return it because this dreidel simply 'won't spin!'


The shopkeeper realizes there is something strange going on especially when a poor man and his child enter his store.

In this beautiful holiday story by award-winning author Martha Simpson, and brought to life by the imaginative illustrations of award-winning illustrator D. Yael Bernhard, the happiness in this story will warm the heart of young and old alike with its simple message: wonders still occur for those who are ready for them. 

Included is a useful appendix that explains Chanukah, and an explanation on how to play the dreidel game.

You can buy it here:

Wishing you a Peaceful and Wonderful Shabbos,
Always,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fabulous Chanukah Product Reviews!

Ok all you amazing mama's out there- I have got some fantastic Chanukah Products to introduce to you...

First up-

This is a huge book with the most magnificent illustrations filled with information on as well as the story of Chanukah. 
It also comes with a huge Story Board with 40 gorgeous and colorful removable stickers to use while teaching about Chanukah:

If you are going to make one investment this year in your Jewish homeschooling curriculum, Preschool curriculum and/or Hebrew School, then this should be it. 

Hop on over to Dassie's website to see a bunch of sample pages from the book, get a free coloring sheet, get the exact measurements of the book and story board and lots more info- the quality is superb and this entire set is worth every penny in my humble opinion, go check it out: http://www.chanukahbigbook.com/

My kids LOVE it and I can't wait to show the kids in Hebrew school on Sunday. 

Stay tuned for some more superb Chanukah products and for more info on

Have a wonderful week!
Always,

Monday, November 10, 2014

If you give a Mom some Chocolate...

this was my morning in a nutshell...

If you give a mom some chocolate
She will have to hide in her closet to eat it so none of her kids see and she can have it all to herself.

Her phone will ring and she will answer it.
Her cleaning help will tell her she cannot come in today.

She will need to go and get another piece of chocolate.
And eat it in the closet.

While in her closet she will notice how unorganized it is.
She will head to the garage to bring up the new shelves she has been meaning to put together for her unorganized closet.

As she gets to the garage, she steps on a piece of Lego and yells really loudly.
She picks up the Lego piece and takes it to her boys room to put back in their Lego table.

While in the boys room, she gathers all their dirty laundry.
She heads to the laundry room and starts a load.

She see's some lone pink hangers on the dryer.
She returns them to the girls closet.

In the girls room, she sees some of her make up and lotions.
She returns it all to her bathroom and puts it all on a higher shelf.

On the shelf, she notices a pair of nail clippers.
She remembers she needs to cut her sons very long nails.

She finds her son playing really nicely and decides not to interrupt him.
As she turns around he asks her for a snack.

She goes to the kitchen to make him a snack.
She sees the pile of dishes in the sink.

She decides to ignore the dishes.
She tries to remember why she came into the kitchen in the first place.

She reaches for her morning coffee and realizes it is now cold.
She starts to make a new cup of coffee.

And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee,
she will need some chocolate to go with it!

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homeschooling the anxious child

 If you walked into my home on any given weekday morning, chances are you would find my younger kids playing in our playroom/classroom, and older on the computer in their Online Yeshiva classes. 

One of my kids though, do not fit into either of those groups.

She is 7, extremely bright and capable, but gets herself really worked up very easily.

It is often a struggle to get her to do her school work, but once she does it, she does a beautiful job. Buthere have been days when we will argue back and forth and make 25 different deals for 15 minutes when all she needed to do was write 2 sentences.

It goto a point where I started getting really frustrated and needed to figure out a different plan.

I sat down and wrote down the main subjects that we needed to accomplish each day.

then assigned 5 minutes to each subject.

We sat down this morning and I went over it with her.

I showed her the 5 minute clock in the middle of each subject and told her that for each subject before she starts her work, we will put on a timer for 5 minutes.

She got really excited abouthis, as 5 minutes is really not a long time, right?

We got all her supplies ready and in front of her, and she goto pick which subjects she wanted to do first.

She chose math. We have 2 great math apps on the iPad as well as a workbook. We did one of the apps and as the buzzer went off, she was ready to pick the next subject.

I gave her stickers with different expressions on each face and she goto put a sticker nexto each subject as she completed it showing how she felt doing it.

this really worked so well. It gave her some sort of control over her work which I realized alleviates a lot of her anxiety. 

She has everything she needs, and knows that each subject will only take 5 minutes- which was funny as for some things she asked for some more time to finish her work, to which I told her no problem.

She took a few breaks between subjects and the morning went really smoothly. 

If you have a little munchkin like mine, try outhe 5 minute time frame. You don't realize how much can get done in these little pockets of time. And when she is enjoying something, we keep going, and when she is not, she knows 'its just 5 minutes!'

I hope this was helpful to you,
Wishing you a fabulous week,
Always,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spicing Things Up

We homeschool. No day is quite like the other, yet things can get pretty monotonous very quickly and easily.

The kids are home most of the day, and while they have the flexibility to move forward in a subject that is too easy or take their time on one thats a bit more challangeing, its always nice to add a bit of excitiement to the day.

I have found that this can be done by changing the smallest things, check them out:

1. Spice up the School Supplies
One of my kids is not a fan of writing, so every once in a while, I will give her a new cool pen or pencil to use to do her writing with. This makes it very exciting as she is so focused on her new apparatus, she forgets about the writing part. Same goes with a cool new pair of scissors, glitter glue, shiny ruler- below I have put together a few of my favorite things that are cheep yet will buy you much sanity. You are welcome.


2. Spice up the Homeschooling Room
If you can, spice up your homeschooling location, just a bit. Put up a new picture on the wall. Change the room around. Add a piece of furniture, or take something away. Add a new rug. Even if you do your work in the kitchen, get a cool new table cloth for the table.


3. Spice up your Location
If its nice outside, take a blanket and do your work outside on the grass. If you usually do work at a desk or table, get a mat and do your work on the floor. Change rooms for an activity. Sit on the couch for reading, back porch, even a siblings bedroom. Any change will be welcome.



Although these things may seem small, they really will make a world of difference in your little ones day. Try it, and let me know what happens :)

Have a wonderful Shabbos!
Always,



Monday, October 6, 2014

How Not to Lose Your Mind

Life has been busy lately- for all of us. With all the holidays, one after the other, the cooking, the cleaning, the kids- its a lot.

We had a big crowd for Yom Kippur and breaking of the fast and after the fast I was exhausted and had absolutely no energy to clean up. My dishwasher has not been working, so I figured I would rely on my Sunday cleaning help to work her magic like she does every Sunday.

Sunday morning arrived. I got the dreaded text that she was not feeling well and would not be making it in.

I honestly wanted to cry.

I had to teach Hebrew school Sunday morning and try get the house somewhat back together. Including the laundry, a zillion dishes, kids bedrooms from Shabbos and the floor was so dirty from all the foot traffic on Yom Kippur.

I was not a happy camper.

I was feeling really overwhelmed, frustrated, fed up, angry, upset and down right on the verge of a break down.

I needed to vent and it was too late on the East Coast to call my best friend or sisters to complain and feel sorry for myself, so I called my husband who was out restocking our fridge and pantry, forgetting that he's a man, and men need to fix things, not listen to complaining... so after I let it all out, he responded with, 'look on the bright side, the baby sitters coming tomorrow and  I am sure the cleaning help will feel better by tomorrow' and 'think good and it will be good'- I let the poor guy have it.

I just wanted someone to feel sorry for me, was I asking for too much?

But then something interesting happened.

My 4 year old came over to me with a book called Rina's Rainy Day and asked me to read it to her. It's a very sweet book about a little girl who has all these plans for the day, but nothing seems to go her way- and after every few pages, Rina says, 
"Gam Zu Letova, I trust this is Good, 
Hashem makes things happen the way that it should."

I then put the kids to sleep and decided to take a drive to the local drug store down the street to get some new nail polish, I have no patience for manicures, but once in a while it feels good to do your nails, so I figured, why not. I needed to get out for a bit.

As I walked through the mechanical doors, this song came on- just take a minute to listen to it, especially the chorus...


I got my pretty nail polish. 
And I held my head up.
And I realized that my dear hubby was right. 

It will all be okay. 

So the house is a wreck. It will get cleaned up tomorrow. And guess what? In a few days, it will be a wreck again. 

But as long as we cut ourselves some slack, keep our heads up and keep moving forward, it will always be okay.

So here's to a good week. And a happy Sukkos.

Always,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Focus Finder- Review

So my dear friend Rivka Caroline, author of From Frazzled to Focused, my favorite organizing and time managemenGuru, has done it again.

We all have a "to do list" and a calendar with all our appointments jotted down, buthe Focus Finder is simply genius.

If you are anything like me, I find myself making a new to do list almost daily. Especially this time of year with all the holidays.

Well, Rivka came up with this brilliant idea to make the Focus Finder, how pretty is it?


Here is what it looks like opened: 


At the top of the page is a list of 6 Focus subjects, so you can sit down and actually organize what needs to get done. 

And underneath it has the days of the week, Sunday thru Friday, to plug in what needs to get done and when. It is not a calendar to mark your appointments down. It is a book to simply mark down what needs to get done.

Here is a close up of things I started writing down:

So you write down the different things you need to focus on, then get into detail in each one.

I started using it the second I got it last week to help me stay focused on all the things that needed to get done before Yom Kippur. 

Example:
Focus #1: House for Yom Kippur- 
wrote everything that needs to get done in the house before Yom Kippur
Focus #2: Menu Pre Fast
Focus #3: Menu Break Fast
on the next page-
Focus #4: Activities for Kids on Yom Kippur
etc.

Since I received it on Thursday, I  did not need to plug in which days to do what, but I plan to use it for this weeks Sukkos planning. And forever on after that... I almost wanto order a case of them to make sure I will never run out as I finish each one!

Just write down the different things you need to get done under their main Focus point, then plug in which days to do what.

No more overwhelming to do lists. 
No more overwhelming Brain fog.

Rivka, you are my hero.

Ladies, Gentlemen, whoever finds themselves reading this post- run- dont walk- over to her site and pick up a copy of Focus Finder for yourself... and your mother... and your sister.. and your best friend- and use code Nshei18 for 15% off and free shipping!

{And if you buy it before this Wednesday night, Rivka will throw in her FREE 34 minute Mommy Bootcamp DVD :)}

Have a fabulous week!
Always,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pre-Yom Kippur Easy Peasy Honey Cake

On the day before Yom Kippur it is customary to ask for and receive honey cake from someone—usually one’s mentor or parent.

One of the reasons given for this custom is that if it had been decreed, Gd forbid, that during the year we should need to resort to a handout from others, the decree should be satisfied with this asking for food.

I received this recipe from a friend (thanks Rivky!) and tweaked it a bit which ended being the most delicious honey cake ever! It is super easy and moist- I hope you enjoy it!

Easy Peasy Honey Cake
1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup Honey
1 cup Black Coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together and bake for 30-35  minutes.

Enjoy and have a wonderful week!
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Childrens books for Yom Tov


Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story
By Allison Sarnoff Soffer
Illustrated by Bob McMahon
Ages 2-7

 Katy's favorite holiday is Rosh Hashanah in Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story. It's the time of year when she gets to pick apples and make applesauce with her mother. But what happens when the family tradition is interrupted by the arrival of a new baby cousin?
  
A situation to which every child and family can relate, this is a story about what happens when a child realizes that family priorities must sometimes change. Luckily for Katy, her friends and her community are there to help her in this charming story about a beloved fall custom. Applesauce recipe included!


New for Simchat Torah!
 The Patchwork Torah
By Allison Ofanansky
Illustrated by Elsa Oriol
Ages 4-8

A Torah Scribe and His Family Rescue Damaged Torahs in a Story Spanning Four Generations
  
 As a child, David watches his grandfather, a Torah scribe or sofer, finish a Torah scroll for the synagogue. "A Torah is not something to be thrown away," his Grandfather explains in The Patchwork Torah. David's grandfather carefully stores the old Torah his new one has replaced in his cabinet, hoping to one day repair the letters so the Torah can be used again.
 
David grows up and becomes a sofer just like his grandfather. Through the years, people bring him damaged Torahs they have saved from danger and disaster - one damaged by Nazi soldiers during World War II, one damaged in a fire in a synagogue, and one in flooding during Hurricane Katrina. David stores each of these precious Torahs in his cabinet, until his granddaughter Leah gives him the idea to make a recycled Torah from the salvaged Torah scrolls.


A Watermelon in the Sukkah
By Sylvia A. Rouss and Shannan Rouss
Illustrated by Ann Iosa
Ages 3-8

Michael's favorite fruit might prove more than the sukkah can handle in A Watermelon in the Sukkah.
  
Miss Sharon's students have all brought their favorite fruit to hang in the sukkah, but Michael's favorite fruit is a watermelon! It looks like the watermelon can't hang in the sukkah, until Michael comes up with a unique solution.

****
 Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year-
Shana Tova uMetuka! 
Always,

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