Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seeing the good in a world that seems so evil

A few weeks ago Harper Collins mailed me a copy of the book Rebbe The life and teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, The most influential Rabbi in Modern History by Joseph Telushkin to review on my blog.

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading Rebbe. This book has given me a tremendous amount of inspiration and support in a time where it is very easy to feel frustrated, afraid and helpless by what is going on in the world.

The Rebbe had such love for every single Jew. There was no such thing as 'reform, conservative or modern orthodox.' You were a Jew in the Rebbes eyes, a shining diamond with the tremendous potential and capability to become the greatest person you can be. The Rebbe saw this in every person both Jew and non-Jew alike.

The Rebbe saw the good in this world and made it very clear that it is up to us, to reveal this goodness, no matter where we are, by doing mitzvos, one baby step at a time.

At a time when the world seems so dark, connecting to the Rebbe on this level is very comforting. Here I am, geographically as far away from Israel as one can possibly be, and feeling so helpless while my Jewish brothers and sisters are fighting for and protecting our country, I think, what can I do?

The Rebbe's message has and always will be, to spread the light to take away the darkness. Give more charity, say a blessing, light a Shabbos candle. Do what YOU can to make this world a little more bright.

Not only is Rebbe a very interesting biography on the Rebbe, but it is also a book that is filled with inspiration, every time I pick it up to read a chapter it feels like a warm hug. You get to know the Rebbe and you can feel the love that he had for each individual.

Click on the image below to purchase your own copy of Rebbe.


A little love goes a long way.
As we pray for our soldiers, may we just hear good news,
Always,

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fantastic Online Gemara Class for Homeschooled Boys-

For moms with boys ages 11-13, I highly recommend you get your little guys to try out this Online Gemara class. 

My personal experience with Rabbi Levi has been so wonderful, my son can't wait to begin his private tutoring sessions again this year. 

Let your son try it out for himself, and feel free to leave a comment on how much your he enjoyed it~


Hope you are enjoying your summer,
Always,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Boredom Busters!

This evening while I was making dinner, my 6 year old was sitting at the table and goes, "Mommy, I'm bored."

I know this may sound strange, but my kids have never, ever said those 2 words to me before- "I'm Bored."

My kids have been hanging out with their friends and the kids in the neighborhood a lot more now that its the summer, so something tells me that they picked up this new lingo from their buddies.

I looked at her and said, "Being bored means that you simply can't think of anything to do. I have so many things for you to do! You can start by unloading the dishwasher, when you're done, you can sweep the kitchen floor and if you are still bored after that, you can set the table for dinner- how does that sound?"

She jumped up from her chair and went, "Actually mommy, its okay, I think I'll go and play in the playroom until dinner."

This little event inspired me to make a Summer Boredom Buster chart that I will print out and put up on the wall in the kitchen:






























Feel free to print it out for your family. The next time your kids complain that they are bored, show them their list of options- and I can guarantee you that within seconds, they will have found something fun to keep themselves busy with :)

It was actually very cute, my 5 year old came out of bed this evening, walked into the kitchen and said, "Mommy, I'm bored." 

I then realized that my kids are very new to this word and are so great at keeping themselves busy that they don't really understand what they are saying- but probably hear their friends say it or heard it in a video they watched.

But its okay, because they will now know that any time they are feeling bored, there is always something to do around the house!

Hope you are having a wonderful summer,
Always,

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,
Always,

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,
Always,

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,
Always, 

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 rle@ShreiberMethod.com, or visit Shreibermethod.com.

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,
Always,
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