Saturday, December 31, 2011

holiday happiness

A quick run-down of our holiday festivities this year.

The boys sack out in front of the fire during our long-night observance. (We don't use electricity so the only light was from the fire and candles -- and the camera flash in this photo.)

The next night, lighting our Yule Log (complete with our wishes for the new year, which go up in smoke to the universe, or the gods, or the fates, or whatever it is that you happen to believe).

The boys and their friend Tree Elf in Santa's sleigh -- we go to visit Santa with Tree Elf every year, it's one of our favorite holiday traditions.

The kids in front of Santa's tree in his workshop.

The boys at The Map Man's parents' house on Christmas Eve.

Our tree on Christmas morning. Not only did the boys pick out our tree this year, but they were also completely responsible for decorating it. J made an origami angel for the top, and they decided not to use lights on the tree this year to conserve electricity.

The boys and their cousins at my parent's house on Christmas Day.

So we managed to survive another holiday season! This was a tough one, with my feeling fairly unable (and unmotivated) to do much more than absolutely necessary, but fortunately the boys chipped in and did quite a bit of the preparation and kept the spirit of the holidays alive around here.

Next year will bring a whole new set of challenges, with a toddler around....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Wow, was this fun!

After our story work wrapping up our Torah unit today, we sat down together to the read the picture book Grandma's Latkes, by Malka Drucker, illustrated by Eve Chwast. In the book the grandmother teaches her granddaughter how to make latkes for their Hanukkah party, and while they cook, she also tells her the Hanukkah story. The book ends with the recipe for her latkes, so of course we had to make some right away!

We first grated 3 large potatoes (Zoo Boy, above) and one small onion (J to the left). Then we added 2 beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. We stirred it all together and let it sit for 10 minutes to thicken, then poured off the extra fluid (there was quite a bit, our potatoes were juicy!).

Then we heated up some vegetable oil in a frying pan and put the mixture in by the rounded tablespoon. The boys commented again and again how much fun it was to cook these -- I've clearly been negligent in the cooking department with them lately. I'm going to have to make a point to carve out some schedule time in the spring to make sure we include some cooking on a regular basis. I just haven't felt up to it this fall, what with the constant nausea and retching and all....

Our latkes frying away in their oil. The recipe made an alarming number of them, actually, I suspect our chickens are going to be enjoying latkes for a bit....

The boys were game to try them, but neither they nor I were particularly impressed by them. We'll sample them again tonight when we do our little Hanukkah celebration, with some apple sauce and sour cream, maybe we'll be more keen on them then.

Naomi and Asher at Hanukkah

Yesterday I told the Enki Education Torah Unit wrap-up story, "Naomi and Asher at Hanukkah." In the story, Zeidy (the grandfather who told all the Torah stories to his grandchildren between Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah) finishes up his last story, then the family prepares for their Hanukkah celebration, polishing the Menorah, dipping candles, playing Dreidel, and making latkes. The story ends with the start of the family's Hanukkah celebration. Above is J's story drawing, of Asher polishing the Menorah, Naomi in the kitchen preparing to make the latkes, and the little children playing Dreidel. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing, of the family sitting around the table, ready to light their Menorah.
I think both boys truly captured it. What a great way to end our Torah unit Good Book!


As part of the preparation for our semester-closing Hanukkah celebration, yesterday the boys created their own Menorah from a hunk of trunk (one of the casualties of the Halloween snowstorm -- I'm glad to see it put to good use, I miss that tree!!). They used a hand-drill to create the hole for our Shamash candle. The Map Man later jumped in to help them use the electric drill for the other 8 candle holes -- the hand drill proved to be a bit exhausting with the large bit we needed to use.

J inserts the Shamash candle -- he can't wait to get to light it!

Our finished Menorah.

The candles were dipped previously as a part of another project -- we've done enough candle-dipping over the years (with many, many hand-dipped candles still lying around) that I didn't see any benefit in dipping more for this project. I figured the wood work was more important since we never seem to get enough of that sort of thing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the battle of Jericho

This was it, the final story of our epic! The Battle of Jericho isn't actually a part of Exodus, but it's a really good final story for us, because it gets the Children of Israel settled into their promised land, a great way to wrap the whole thing up. Above is J's story drawing of the elders of the Hebrew people marching around the walls of Jericho. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of the two spies that Joshua sent into Jericho, about to take refuge in Rahab's house. (Finally, at the end of it all, a strong, important woman!)

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's.

Just a couple more days to bring the story back into the present and wrap up our semester! It's been a great ride, we really enjoyed this culture and the epic. But now I'm ready to coast our way into the holidays and get ready for this baby!

the land of milk and honey

Above, J's story drawing of the spies Moses sent into Canaan, checking out the people and the fruits of the land. Below, Zoo Boy's drawing of one of the spies lying about the size and strength of the people and minimizing the plenty of the land. (I love the looks of dismay on the people's faces!)

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

nomadic tent, week 6, finale!

J sews his hand-woven tent strip to the main tent as I prepared the poles and ropes for our tent raising.

The kids spread the tent out on the ground and prepare to put their poles into position. If we were to do this again, I'd want to use twice as many curtain panels for our tent to double the width. I think the length was fine, but a wider panel would have gone up smoother and felt more like a place to live in afterwards (plus would have given us the opportunity to add a hanging panel to make separate "rooms" like there are in full-size nomadic tents). But given time constraints, plus the fact that only a few of us pitched in with the sewing, I think this turned out pretty good.

The adults helped pound in the stakes. We were so lucky with the weather, it's not often that the ground is not frozen in mid-December around here!! That would have made the tent raising that much more challenging (and it was already challenging enough as it was!).

Zoo Boy and J pose inside our completed tent. It felt great to finish this project! The boys are still bemoaning the fact that we never finished the earthen oven (we will, it just needs to wait until Spring and more conducive drying weather), but to have taken one larger project through to completion made us all feel good.

a cloud moves on from Sinai

Above is J's story drawing, of the Israelites following the cloud (which is Yahweh) across the wilderness towards the promised land. He pointed out the cloud itself (at the top center of the drawing) and the fact that the people are moving in the shadow of it. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of Moses, sword raised, commanding the believers (one of whom is standing behind him) to cut down the non-believers (in front of him).

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

keva build, part 2

We had another group Keva build on Monday, this time the goal was to see how high the kids could build their structures. We brought along step-stool to help out, there were many amazing feats of structural engineering!

the ten commandments

Above is J's story drawing, of Moses descending Mount Sinai with the tablets in his hands, and seeing his people celebrating and worshipping the golden calf. (My favorite part is always the extras he adds to his drawings -- the tents are just awesome!) Below is the next scene, drawn by Zoo Boy, of Moses smashing the tablets (the crumbles at his feet in front of the golden calf). I love how he's got Joshua behind him, and Aaron looking very worried about his part in all of this.

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's. This story made a big impact, Zoo Boy kept saying "uh oh, that's not good" with each thing the Israelites did that went against the commandments.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

one weekend down, one to go!

The Nutcracker opened with a bang on it's first weekend! Above, The Map Man and J get ready for the opening of the first act.

Above, J at stage rehearsal on Friday night, as Fritz. Below, The Map Man dances with the other party parents at stage rehearsal.

Above, J strikes a pose in his Russian costume, below he dances the Russian Dance in the stage rehearsal. (Photos aren't allowed during the show, but we can order a DVD of it, and there will be professional photographs available for purchase, which will be MUCH better than the crappy photos I can get with my crappy camera anyway.)

You still have one more weekend to come see J (and The Map Man) in The Nutcracker at Manchester High School! You can find ticket information at .

into the wilderness

Above is J's story drawing, below is Zoo Boy's -- they chose to draw the same scene from our story, of Moses drawing forth a stream of water from a stone in the desert during the exodus from Egypt. Both boys commented on the whining of the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness. J said that the story should have been called "The Children of Israel Have no Faith." I told him I would call it "The Children of Israel are a Bunch of Whiners." I love how into his drawings Zoo Boy suddenly is -- he explained in depth to me about the emotions and body postures of each of the characters in his drawing.

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below.