OrganizedJewishHome.com

If you’ve been to this page, you’ll see it hasn’t been updated for a while. That’s because I’ve moved! I followed where a lot of my thoughts (and comments!) were leading and (trumpet intro, please!) I have a new blog at OrganizedJewishHome.com.

There are a lot of great things happening there, like much more frequent posts, including:

Come on over and join us there!

My #1 organizing tip

…is to have a book for your household! Whatever you call it (control journal, homemaker handbook, shalom bayit book, family manager notebook, akeret habayit assistant), this is a crucial book for keeping your household running smoothly.

I call this my shalom bayit book (SBB). Shalom bayit is Hebrew for peace in the house – which is what we want to create with this book!

My SBB is a 2 inch binder with dividers physically, but even more importantly, I have each of the pages on word document. I update each of them each year and in the planning process. My SBB tells me what I used last year, what worked well, what didn’t, and has a list of menus and planning from previous years that I can reference or even copy again! I also have a very helpful list of what I have and where it is stored. I have the pages printed out for me to write on and adjust as needed, but what I really appreciate from year to year is having them on the computer to go in and update.

I will be putting these documents into the “printables” section of my new website as I go. I’ve started linking some of the Rosh Hashanah planning there already. Please visit OrganizedJewishHome and let me know what you think! Subscribe to get updates as things are loaded there (there is a box for your e-mail in the upper right corner or if you prefer a feedreader, there are buttons for that, too).

3 weeks to go until Rosh Hashanah (Recipe hunt is on!)

Time to get thinking about Rosh Hashanah more seriously.

I have done most of the things on my early prep list. That means clothing and pjs ordered for the kids, seats bought, etc. I still have to buy things for me–that’s one of the hardest things, I think!

Now it’s time to menu plan! On Rosh Hashanah, we have different minhagim about what foods we eat to make a yehi ratzon (May it be Your will…) on, or simanim. The wishes range from destroying our enemies (dates) to having lots of children (fish). (Here is a good resource for the text and some more information on these customs, and recipes). We want our year to be good and sweet so we eat those foods. We don’t want a sour or bitter year, so avoid those flavors. (We also avoid nuts, which has to do with the Hebrew word being similar to the word for “sin.”)

The most common simanim (in the US, at least!) seem to be apples, honey, and round challot. Many people also add carrots.  My husband is Sephardi, so we follow those traditions and use:

  • Round Challot
  • Apples
  • Honey
  • Dates
  • Banana (or other vegetable not normally eaten with meal)
  • Leek
  • Swiss Chard
  • Black eyed peas (or fenugreek)
  • Gourd (e.g. squash, pumpkin)
  • Pomegranate
  • Head of the fish/lamb/ram (OK, fish head it is. That’s about what I can cope with here!)
  • New fruit (2nd night)

By the time we get through those, we often don’t have much room for other food! I try to use the same foods in a more recognizable form for the simanim seder itself (just a little for each person) and then to make a bigger portion for the actual seuda meal. Off to my recipe hunt I go!

You might notice that these links are actually to my previous posts moved to my new website: OrganishJewishHome.com All the good stuff from silverblessings is there, plus some new printable lists and more! Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Menu planning Monday

We’re continuing on with the pantry/refrigerator/freezer challenge this week. Nothing much going on here this week that will affect our menu plan except 6 (maybe 8) guests for Shabbat lunch.

Breakfasts: Yogurt and cereal with milk, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, plus fruit.

Lunches: Sandwiches, bagels, pasta.

Sunday: Zucchini soup and challah

Monday: (Clean Out the Refrigerator Night) CORN.

Tuesday: (Breakfast for dinner) Pancakes (somehow, we have a TON of syrup in the pantry)

Wednesday: Taco night (ground beef from the freezer)

Thursday: (Pasta night!) Pasta with garlic peanut sauce and breadsticks, veggie plate.

Friday: Challah, salads (zhug, olive tapenade, roasted eggplant salad, pepper salad, carrot salad, hummus), potato kugel, brown sugar noodle kugel, squash kugel, spice rubbed chicken.

Shabbat: Challah, salads, oriental chicken nuggets, potato kugel, brown sugar noodle kugel, squash kugel, chamin with jachnoon and brown eggs, shwarma pie, pumpkin spice cake with vanilla drizzle.

Chores for kids…with simcha!

Chores are important for kids. They are  part of the family, and part of being part of a family is help out!

But giving the chores to kids doesn’t necessarily mean the adult in charge gets to take the day off and lounge in an easy chair. It actually takes more time to “train” the kids in, and then to correct sloppy work (occasionally). It’s definitely an investment in future relaxation, though.

My chore methods for my kids is something I am updating often. Here’s how it goes right now: each kid does two chores (or groups of smaller chores) each day; one upstairs (bedroom and kids’ bathroom care) and one downstairs (common area care). This is because they should help with their own stuff (upstairs) as well as something that may not be directly tied to them but is a family area (downstairs). Each one has something different, but usually related.

For example, Wednesday’s upstairs chore for each of the older boy is to prepare their room for Bot and then clean up after. (Bot is our WONDERFUL robotic vaccuum cleaner who I love! Here’s a link to what I mean: BOT) That means getting things up off the floor, setting Bot loose when no one is currently napping, putting him back on the recharger, and putting everything away again. The downstairs Wednesday chore is sorting socks (one kid) and kid underwear (the other), folding appropriately, and putting into the owner’s room.

I have our playroom cleaned and vacuumed twice a week (each given a specific area of responsibility), the kids’ bathroom and our downstairs powder room cleaned up twice a week, their rooms cleaned up once a week, their school area cleaned up once a week, entryway cleaned up once a week by each, etc. For each of these, I have specific measurable tasks that they need to do, both written and depicted so they can fully understand.

Each child’s chore cards have the day along the top, the child’s color down the side, the chore(s), and then a checkmark on the back. And each is laminated (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my laminator–or as my 4 year old used to call it, my lemonader?) The cards are hung on two side-by-side hooks – one for still-to-be-done chores and one for completed chores. Each child can tell at a glance what comes next (see photo above).

Where does the simcha come in? It comes from the child knowing what is expected of them and following a routine, and doing it both correctly and independently. This system minimizes nagging and encourages the child to do their work on their own. (The kids know no playdates until their chores are done and just do them. Yay!)

When you assign a child chores, it pays to go through it exhaustively with them, explaining what you want done. Then do it again. Then check their work and explain whatever needs more work. Then check it randomly, always gently correcting when needed. It’s a lot of work for the grown up, but really worth it when that easy chair calls…in a few years, I guess! 😉

I love my lemonader!

OK, that’s my laminator to all you non-4 year olds out there. I bought one last year, and it was a great investment. I personalize something for myself and then laminate it and two great things happen: 1. It doesn’t get destroyed and 2. I can use dry erase markers on it and erase and restart as needed! This is a fantastic way to keep track of things and checklists–and I am a die-hard list maker.

What do I have laminated around here, you ask?

Why am I breaking out my lemonader this week? After I finish test running them and am sure they are working for me, I have a few new things  to laminate:

One of those days…

I find it helpful to reread my reasons for homeschooling every now and again, especially on days like this. 🙂

Yes, it’s been one of those days. I’ve been feeling sick, thanks to the cold and tummy bugs around our house for the last week or so, and today, everyone has been grumpy. We had a really frustrating trip to the grocery store where the older kids were loud and didn’t listen well, and I had to make a meal for someone tonight, so I couldn’t leave without the things I had come for. By the end of the trip, I was so upset I wanted to yell. This, too, is part of homeschooling!

The kids are always around. Most of the time, that’s wonderful! Sometimes it’s not. I could have used a break today. When we got home, I put everyone straight down for a nap, literally from the car. My 2 year old and 4.5 year old both slept, as did my 4 month old toward the end of their naps, and my 7 year old read quietly in his room for a while. Is it sipping something with an umbrella on the sunny beach somewhere? Nope. Not even close. But the quiet recharged me enough to get through and play with this kids this evening.

So homeschooling – and parenting! – have good moments and the not-so-good. Everyone has days like this, and we are all not alone!