Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I love Shabbos

I will be very honest with you and tell you that when my kids were all small, Shabbos was actually my very least favorite day of the week. There, I said it.

To me, instead of it being my day of rest, which it really should be, it was a day that I had to figure out how to entertain these little people who were not yet capable of entertaining themselves, while hosting guests, and while my very little kids would nap in the afternoon, I always had a 4 or 5 year old I needed to be there for.

I would count down the minutes until Shabbos ended and be thankful that I had an entire week until the next one arrived.

It is a little embarrassing to be saying this, but the only reason I am saying it is because I know there are moms out there who feel the same way I used to feel. And this blog post is for all of those moms to know that this feeling will not last forever.

In fact, Shabbos has become my absolute favorite day of the week now. And this is why:

I get to sleep in until 8am. I know, its 8am. But to me, that's sleeping in. My husband wakes up with the crew at 6am (yes, I have a bunch of early birds in this house) and they all have a full on Cholent party. I'm serious. They sit around the table and all eat a huge bowl of Cholent. At 6am. They look forward to it all week.

I don't have to cook. In an earlier post, I wrote how breakfast is a big deal in my house. No cereal and milk in this neck of the woods. Oh no, we have waffles, pancakes, french toast, muffins, eggs. Breakfast is a full on banquet here, which I am only too happy to make every morning, with the help of my little chefs. But on Shabbos, I come into the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee waiting for me. Kids are all fed and happy and I actually get to sit on the couch and drink my coffee in peace.

Did I just mention sitting on the couch? During the week, the only time I get to sit on the couch is when I am reading to my kids, which I absolutely love to do. But on Shabbos, when I sit on the couch, its to read a book or a magazine, quietly, to myself. It's the only time that I read actual books. During the week, there is always SOMETHING to get done and laying on the couch, feet reclined, and reading a book is not exactly on the agenda.

You CAN'T work. Yes, for all those who complain that you can't do X,Y, and Z on Shabbos, I say 'I know, how GREAT is that???' We CAN'T do laundry, we CAN'T wash dishes unless we need them, we CAN'T vacuum, we CAN'T go online, we CAN'T talk on the phone, we CAN'T drive- I mean, how AWESOME is that? A day to simply relax.

We eat as a family. During the week, my kids eat much earlier then my husband and I so we don't get to really sit down as a family and have a full on meal together like all the psychologists say families should. Everyone seems to be turning out pretty normal so I am not too worried. But on Shabbos, we eat as a family, and its wonderful. Granted, there is fighting and yelling because we are a normal family with a bunch of kids, but there is also lots of singing and laughter to go along with that and we all really appreciate and love it.

I get to hang out with friends. As in, sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and have actual conversations while the kids play outside. During the week, I just don't have nor make the time to socialize. I do 'Girls Night Out' once a month, but going out at night is really tiring for me so having friends come over on Shabbos, be it for lunch or afternoon tea is just so enjoyable. I know that I have nothing else that needs to be done so I can really enjoy my time to catch up and chat.

No cell phones. Need I say more?

We play games and take family walks. I know a lot of families have 'Game Night'- well, we have 'Game Shabbos Afternoon after Mommy and Daddy have finished Napping.' How do I get a nap you ask? We have a Shabbos party that the kids run. We have healthy nosh, including coconut milk ice cream, and the kids are now old enough to run it by themselves. One dishes out the ice cream, the other the snacks and they love it. All this time, I nap. Then we play games. Rummy, Chess, Shesh Besh/Backgammon (my 6 year old shocks every Israeli who plays her), Linkety, Battle Ship, Sorry and a few more. Some weeks, its just one game, others, its a few more. But its really fun!

So for all you moms who have a hard time on Shabbos with the little ones, those little ones will grow up to be pretty awesome kids that you can really have fun with. Hang in there, it gets pretty amazing~~~

Wishing you all a wonderful week,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fabulous Book Reviews

I was very fortunate to receive two wonderful books to review from the nice folks over at Artscroll.

The first book is called Look What My Parents Give Me
{Click on the image to purchase this book}

This book is all about what us parents give, teach and do for our children.

As we were reading through the book, it made me realize just how much we actually do for our kids! While I am all for my kids figuring out how to do things by themselves, this book made me feel like we, as parents, should actually take a little credit where credit is due! 

Another wonderful thing about this book is that it gives our kids an awareness of how much we actually do for them. While it is not the most natural thing for a child to appreciate what their parents do, this book points out in a very sweet and gentle way just how much we help our kiddos grow.

We actually went through every page and discussed how mommy and daddy actually do each of these things- just like in the book.

Click Here to take a look at some of the pages inside the book.

The second book is called Imagine If,
{Click on the image to purchase this book}

Now if you have any Dr. Seuss fans in your house, this book is an absolute winner. In our house, we absolutely LOVE Dr. Seuss and to have a 'Jewish version' is just the best thing ever! 

Its written in the exact same style as the Dr. Seuss rhyming books, but the story has depth and meaning with lots of Jewish words and names thrown in, as well as Jewish pictures which are drawn in that classic Dr. Seuss style.

Hands down, this book is the new favorite in our house and if Artscroll comes our with more volumes, we will be first in line to get them!

Click Here to take a look at some of the pages in Imagine If

I hope you had a wonderful week,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Say Cheese!!!.... or maybe not?

A few days ago I was sitting outside on the grass while my kids were having a ball on the Slip n' Slide and playing in the Splash Pool. My 6 year old came over to sit next to me, put on my big floppy sun hat that I had put on the grass and was just relaxing and watching her siblings play.

She looked really adorable so I told her not to move, that I wanted to quickly run inside and get my camera to snap her photo. She looked at me and said, 'okay mommy, just don't put it on Facebook, okay?'

Um... okay.

Up until that very moment, I never really thought that my kids (at least the older ones) were aware or even cared what happens after I snap their photo. 

But our kids see and know so much more then we think. 

Growing up, the only time I remember my parents taking photos of us was on family vacations or special occasions (dance recitals, school events, birthday parties). And all of our photos were kept in albums on a shelf for us to look at and enjoy whenever we wished and doubles were made and sent to grandparents or relatives that lived far away.

Granted, its so nice to be able to share photos with family and friends who live far away. They can actually watch our kids grow up without even being here.

But nowadays, things are so different. I really never thought about it until recently. Today, we take photos of our kids all the time, every day and share them with our world. I never once stopped to think whether this is something that would bother them. But apparently, my 6 year old would prefer I didn't share photos of her on Facebook. And that's okay. 

So I have decided that should I wish to share any photos of my older kids, I will ask them if they are okay with it, before posting online. 

Wishing you all a wonderful week,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer tutoring... something to think about

 “Ma, is it 4 o’clock yet?” calls 10-year-old Yossi from the playroom. “I’m so excited! I can’t wait for my Chumash lesson to begin!”

Over the past four months, this conversation has been repeating itself in homes all over the word, as school children struggling with Gemara, Chumash, or Mishnayos eagerly await their live online lesson using the unique Shreiber Method, a series of skill-based, enjoyable lessons which help boys regain their confidence in learning. (At present the service is only available to boys, with a girls option presently in the works).

The Shreiber Method was first developed by Rabbi Levi Eisenberg, M.S. Ed, an experienced teacher and graduate of Yeshiva University’s prestigious Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. Through teaching various subjects across boys elementary and high school grades, Eisenberg witnessed many students struggling with these important Hebrew subjects. The students, often very bright and creative, were missing basic skills that could easily be taught. In an effort to help these students get back on track, The Shreiber Method was born.

The method helps students by focusing on two elements: 1. By providing some basic tools needed for independent learning in each subject, and 2. By focusing on content mastery. The combination of these two factors leads to an increased feeling of confidence in the subjects at hand, a confidence not previously experienced by these students. This newfound confidence naturally leads to a strong increase in enjoyment, motivation, and class participation.

“After just a few lessons using The Shreiber Method, Yossi's confidence shot through the roof,” says his Rebbi from Philadelphia, PA. “He went from hiding behind his sefer during Chumash period, to raising his hand to volunteer reading the Pasuk.”

Similar to learning how to ride a bicycle or learning how to ski, The Shreiber Method teaches the skills of learning in a student-led way; using the text directly, the student leads the lesson himself, guided by the instructor. There are no vocabulary drills, memorization, or tedious exercises. As a result of the student-led style, The Shreiber Method has proven effective using video call services such as Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime.

“My son actually came over to ME on Shabbos and asked to go over the Pasuk he had learned last week with Rabbi Eisenberg. He was eager to show me how he can do it all by himself,” describes a mother in Hawaii. “My son has actually grown to LOVE learning Chumash and looks forward to his tutoring session every week.”

The Shreiber Method is also a great option for homeschooled children who, while not necessarily struggling in their studies, have few options for lessons with a live teacher.  Most importantly, the Shreiber Method teaches the main skills necessary for independent learning, a primary goal for most homeschool parents.

The student-led aspect of the lessons has also proven to be successful with students facing ADHD or other learning challenges.

“Twenty three of our students have experienced exceptional success with the unique and creative Shreiber Method,” explains Rabbi Shimon Semp, Dean of Yeshiva Talpios in Monsey, N.Y., a mesivta high school for students with learning challenges.

The Shreiber Method is also unique in that there is no second-guessing if the lessons will be a smart investment of time, hope, and money.

“Immediately after the first or second lesson, the student and parent will be able to see for themselves if our method is producing the desired results” says Eisenberg. “We are confident that the results will speak for themselves. There are no empty promises.”

To better help the student, Rabbi Eisenberg remains in contact with the child’s parents and teacher throughout the process. After each lesson, the parents receive a summary of what was learned and accomplished. This ongoing communication ensures accountability from all sides, something sorely lacking from most traditional tutors. At the conclusion of the lessons, too, Rabbi Eisenberg will also remain in contact with both the parents and teacher, ensuring that the child finds his place and is learning and performing independently.

“I never enjoyed learning any of the Hebrew subjects in school,” concludes Yossi. “Most of the other kids in my class just knew how to read and translate better, and I was stuck. After my lessons with Rabbi Eisenberg I’m doing really well in class. I’m happy to go to school in the morning.”

To learn more about The Shreiber Method, or to reserve dates in the limited Summer schedule, call (323) 487- 9847, email, or visit

From my sons personal experience with Rabbi Levi, I cannot recommend his tutoring enough. It is such a relaxed and great way to get your son caught up or ahead of the game in Chumash or Gemara for the coming school year.

Wishing you all a wonderful week,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Blame Game

I recently read a really great post over at My Happily Hectic Life. Hop on over there for a few moments to read Shaindys post called 'All Kids Misbehave.'

Here are the first few lines of her post- make sure to read her entire post though...

I really had a little giggle as I read this and actually responded to her in a private email saying this:
"I homeschool my kids, I am with them ALL day, EVERYDAY- they have ALL my attention... I make healthy snacks and meals... I read to them every night... they play all day...
And they FIGHT with each other and get up to MISCHIEF and they misbehave and drive me nuts at times-- so my dear, yes, there is no magic formula!!!!!!!!

It is normal human nature for kids to misbehave, if they never faught with each other or misbehaved, then I would be very worried.....

Great blog post, I am sure if made a lot of moms feel a bit more human!"

And I was so happy she brought this up, because we as moms are so quick to blame ourselves for everything.

Granted, we need to be responsible parents and do our part to keep our kids as physically and mentally healthy as we can but at the same time, we need to back away from all those Pintrest boards and mommy blogs and give ourselves a huge pat on the back for just doing our best.

I get so many emails from other moms 'in awe' of everything I do with my kids, but the honest truth is, my kids are not always interested in doing everything I have made or planned. 

I remember setting up a classic Montessori activity where you have the letters of the alphabet and a bunch of miniatures and the kids need to match the miniature to the letter it starts with. 

That activity lasted about 5 minutes and the next thing I knew the kids had made an entire game using the miniatures, setting them up, using the letters as food for animals and I just went with it because they were having such a good time playing.

We, as moms, need to realize that we do our best and whether we work all day, homeschool our kids or whatever your situation is, kids are kids, and as long as we love them and show them we love them and take care of their needs, they will really be fine.

So whether your kids are enrolled in a state of the art summer camp or spending their days climbing trees and chasing each other with the hose, whether they are reading books under a tree or doing 5 projects a day that you have personally planned from Pintrest, our kids will all be okay.

Now please, all you amazing mamas out there who gave birth to and are raising these little people who have the capability to bring out the absolute best and worst in us, pour yourself a cup of wine or ice tea or whatever you feel like drinking, put your feet up and congratulate yourself for doing the best job that you can do.

We are mamas, hear us roar :)

Have a fabulous week,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fire Safety at Home

I remember going to school and having fire drills. I personally loved it because we got to get out of whatever class we were in and meet up with our buddies in the school yard.

In my 12 years of school and hundreds of fire drills, there was only one real fire in our school which was in a garbage can and was put out right away.

We dont realize however, that fire drills are not just for schools.

Every home should have an escape route and a meeting place and G-d willing, we should never ever have to actually need them but every month or so it is so important to practice an emergency plan with our families.

We happen to have a very good friend who is a retired fire chief. We call him Captain Rick.

I asked him if he could come over one day and talk to my kids about fire safety which he was more then happy to do.

So a few days ago, he came over. He sat all the kids at the kitchen table and went over the general fire safety rules- not playing with matches, stop drop and roll,  how to dial 911 on the phone and to memorize our address etc.

He went over a few different scenarios of types of fires that could happen and what to do in each situation.

We then went to each of the kids bedrooms and he showed them the best way to escape out of their windows if G-d forbid they woke up and their door was jammed shut and too hot to open.

We made a buddy system where the older kids would help the younger ones.

We designated a meeting place (the mailbox) where everyone would run to in case we had to evacuate the house. We actually acted it out and had the kids all run to the mail box when he yelled FIRE!

He showed the kids how to crawl out of their rooms to the nearest exit if there was lots of smoke and how to actually stop, drop and roll.

We put up a fire extinguisher on the wall just outside our kitchen so should there be a fire, you run out of the kitchen to get it, not into it.

It was really interesting and he was very serious with the kids, compare to his usual jokey self. The kids really took in every word he said and had lots of interesting questions. We decided we are going to practice once a month to keep it fresh.

He also inspected my Shabbos candle spot  to make sure it was safe- I got the thumbs up :)

So if you have a fire station near by, it wouldn't hurt to go there and let them know you homeschool and to ask if one of their guys can come over one day to talk to your kids about fire safety and set up some evacuation plans at your house. Chances are, they will be more then happy to help.

Hashem should bless us all with health and long life, but at the same time, it is important to be safe!

Here are some great Jewish safety resources-

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Peter Walsh changed my life...

After one very long day, staring at a mountain of books on the floor and a messy playroom, I just felt like such an organizing failure.

I decided to try my luck and email Peter Walsh on Facebook, asking him for some organizing tips to help me with my sanity.

Peter Walsh is a professional organizer... he's on TV, wrote a bunch of books and is a pretty famous guy. He was on Oprah, is featured in O Magazine and is pretty big in the organizing world. Here's a link to his website- Click Here

This is what our conversation looked like- and I was SO impressed with how fast he got back to me!

I think this man just summed up my life.

I'd always thought I had an 'organizing' problem, always getting new bins and baskets, constantly rearranging things, thinking that THIS will keep things organized.

But after reading Peters reply, it was like this big light bulb went off in my head.

My problem is not organizing. I'm actually pretty good at it.

My real problem is delegation and consistency. 

Delegating to my kids to clean up after themselves and being consistent about doing it.

I can have the best organizational system in the world, but if my kids don't clean up after themselves, its really not going to work.

I was constantly oiling the same wheel instead of fixing the broken one- meaning that I was constantly reorganizing things instead of implementing systems to KEEP things organized.

Its definitely a pain to constantly have to be on top of the kids making sure that they clean up after themselves, but in the long run, it will come naturally to them and in turn we will have a somewhat tidy house.

So there we have it. Peter, you rock.
I feel like a new woman. 

Hope you all have a wonderful week,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lets go Fishing!

We went to a sweet little fair yesterday, where there were pony rides, bounce houses and cute games. Nothing fancy, but the kids had such a ball with all the games that when we got home, they wanted to make a carnival of their own.

We made a replica of a really cute fishing activity that they loved- this is what we used: 

We used big branches, yarn and hardware hooks to make fishing rods, and foam paper to cut out fish. We used colored pipe cleaners to make hooks for them to catch the fish with, which went easily through the foam.

We then filled up our kiddie pool with a little bit of water so that the fish could float, and the fishing fun began!

Here are some of the supplies we used:

Now, aside for all the fun we have, there are definitely many moments when someone acts up a bit and needs a time out.

When one of my kiddos is having a moment (hits someone, throws something out of frustration, knocks over someone elses blocks on purpose etc. -you're all moms and get what I am talking about!) I find that a really great thing to do is give the child a time out.

Here is a great method that really works for me and I want to share it with you- 

I call it the... 

They need to go to their room for the amount of minutes of their age. In order for my 5 year old to understand how long 5 minutes is, I give him a one minute hour glass timer and 5 Unifix counters. He needs to either count up to 60 and each time he counts to 60 (no skip counting allowed!) he puts another cube on top of the other until he has counted 5 times. If he doesn't want to count, he uses the hour glass and places the cubes on top of each other as the timer runs out.

It works really well, it calms them down, it refocuses their energy and gives them a very clear understanding of time.

I don't enjoy putting my kids in time out, but we can all use a time out once in a while. As long as its approached with love as well as a stern tone of voice, its healthy for them.

Hopefully you wont need to use this discipline method too often as most of our kids are angels, aren't they? ;)

Have a wonderful week!
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