Quarantine: the whole world turns to homeschooling

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One aspect of the coronavirus crisis and the ensuing quarantine is that being a work-at-home, homeschooling family is now totally mainstream. In fact, those who have been doing this already feel like they are one step ahead.

Of course, the current situation poses some additional challenges. I don’t know how things currently stand in every country, but around here, pretty much everything is closed except for supermarkets, pharmacies, and other essential services, and the guidelines make it clear that people should socialize as little as possible with anyone outside their immediate family. So it’s definitely not a time for getting together with friends. It might be hard for some children, but on the other hand, it’s also an opportunity to strengthen sibling ties.

Nevertheless, being locked up at home can make people stir-crazy in no time, and young children (and their parents) might soon find themselves climbing the walls. 

We, personally, have the huge advantage of a yard where my children can go out whenever the weather is nice and play safely. Gardening is also a great way to keep busy. Plenty of weeding to do at this time of the year! Those who are confined to an apartment no doubt have it much harder.

Regardless, I would advise anyone to get out (safely) as much as possible. Take a day trip out of town and walk in the fields, climb a hill, hike down a river – whatever you have in the area and whatever the weather permits. We live on the outskirts of a small town so we have several nice hiking directions around here where we can get on foot and are unlikely to meet anyone.

This is a good time to organize all those arts and crafts supplies you might have forgotten you even had. I organized the book/toy/craft shelves today and I can tell you I found some hidden treasures such as new packs of glitter pens, crayons, stickers, and more. Art paper and coloring books had been unearthed too. Everything is a lot more inviting now that it’s neat and orderly.

When everyone is at home a lot more than they had been used to, it can be easy to slide into letting the kids have a lot more screen time than is healthy for them. I totally understand this and there’s nothing wrong with a good movie or some games, but I have really noticed that excess of screen time brings all sorts of issues such as crabbiness, difficulty to concentrate on other things, lack of motivation for anything but passive entertainment, and sleeping troubles.

Sleep is another matter I would encourage everyone to keep under the bounds of healthy discipline. Personally I can tell you that nothing exhausts me like having everyone stay up late. So, while my older girls have reached the age when it’s difficult to actually get them to fall asleep if they don’t feel like it, I normally tell them to get into pajamas and into bed with a book.

Finally, it’s important to count our blessings. Most of us aren’t in any real physical danger. We have electricity and running water, full refrigerators and pantries, and many ways to keep busy and connect with others. Think of people have gone through wars or live in extreme conditions and have been snowed in for many months – it really does help to remember that comparatively, we really have it good.

So just keep your days simple. Spend time with your family. Hug them a lot. Get out when you can. Pull out a board game. And remember, you are not alone. ♥

A cozy winter day

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A chicken laying one of the first eggs of the year, right on our doorstep – go figure!

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A tray of flourless oatmeal, coconut and sesame cookies – one of my kids’ favorite snacks.

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A pot of soup cooking on the stove.

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A crochet sweater in the making – my first attempt at the dragonfly stitch.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day!

A temporary crisis

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Have I already mentioned this is not my favorite season?

After weeks of cold, rain, mud, being unable to poke our noses outside, and a series of colds, three of my children were finally diagnosed with strep throats and started a course of antibiotics, and now thankfully they are feeling much better.

After that, I did a throat culture as well, but it hasn’t come back yet and I’m so much recovered that even if it turns out I had had strep too, I think taking antibiotics now would kind of miss the point.

Anyway, the frustration of being cooped up has gotten so bad that as soon as the rain stopped this morning, we were out, equipped with coats and rubber boots, to wade through the little stream flowing near our home.

It’s probably the coldest day of the year today, but the days are getting longer and, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping, will soon get warmer. I know the folks shoveling snow up north will think us a bunch of spoiled ninnies, but we’re not used to cold, and Israeli houses generally don’t have effective central heating.

It’s amazing how much better it felt to have been able to spend even a short while outside. I hope for many more opportunities for outdoorsy stuff in the near future.

In the meanwhile, stay snug and warm, and don’t forget to make yourself a cup of cold weather tea – homemade chai masala mix or ginger, cloves and lemon are a synergistic combination.

I’m going to cook a big pot of lentil soup this afternoon. Plenty of onions, potatoes, squash and celery… Mmm… Can almost smell it!

Hope everyone is having a lovely cozy day.

This kind of day

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Yesterday spring was really in the air. We found the first surprise eggs from our pullets in odd corners – you can imagine the thrill (I don’t have a store bought egg to place side by side for comparison, but they are about 2/3 as large and a 100 times tastier).

I made the nesting boxes all comfy and cozy and placed dummy eggs inside.

I planted peas and sweet peas.

I put the yard in order a bit after the recent winds and rain and being unable to poke my nose out. It was great.

Now today we have more rains, a chilling wind, lots of mud, and I’ve caught whatever bug that has been making its way among the kids. Again.

But that’s OK too, as long as I have the comfort of my warm bed, books, yarn, and hot chocolate.

Stay cozy and warm!

Happy 5th birthday

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I know it sounds like such a cliché, but I absolutely find it hard to believe that Israel is 5 years old already. It really seems like yesterday that he was born, despite all the many things that happened in between.

I remember the day of his birth so well. It was Friday, and he was born just a few minutes before Shabbat – I just barely had time to call my mom and let her know she has a new grandson.

Then a week later, on the day of the brit (circumcision) we got snow that lasted all weekend. I remember sitting next to the gas heater, so happy with my new baby, just watching the snowflakes falling and falling. His two big sisters had gone out to play in the snow – something you have to do when you get snow in this country because you know it won’t last.

Coincidentally, Israel’s birthday is just 8 days (and 6 years) apart from his eldest sister’s. Yes – another birthday, Shira’s, coming up next week! I’m already looking up cake ideas and we’re going to put up even more balloons.

Between the rains

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After a big rain and with the prospect of more wet days this week, we are trying to make the most of a bit of sun that has popped out. There’s a little stream currently running near our house – a heaven for kids with rubber boots.

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More water.

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Chickens enjoying a break from being damp and miserable.

I know I must have said this countless times, but I’m such a sun person Israel is the perfect place for me to live in. Nevertheless, for now we are mobilizing all our indoor resources to keep productive and happily occupied:

– Paper, crayons, watercolors, pencils

– Modeling clay and slime (the latter not my favorite but my kids love it)

– Yarn

– Board games: monopoly, scrabble, puzzles

– And of course lots and lots of books!

Stay warm and cozy and don’t forget to make yourself a nice cup of tea. Longer, warmer days are on the way!

Hanukkah and hiking

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First Hanukkah candles 

We lit the first Hanukkah candle yesterday, and of course, couldn’t resist the temptation to make something fried (I always declare that I won’t, and the kids always talk me into it).

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Then today we went for a little hike in the area where we live. The weather was beautiful, and the cyclamens and crocuses are beginning to poke out!

Wishing a happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends, and an enjoyable holiday season to the rest of ya’ll!