Planning for next year

It’s hard to believe, but Thing 1 will be 3 years old this fall.  My sweet, adorable baby will be starting preschool this fall.

In a manner of speaking.

I’ve already come up with a tentative four-day schedule that combines stories, music, songs and pre-school skills.   Each day’s “studies” should take about an hour, plus playtime and teatime.  Our day will start with “circle time,” when start with a candle and drum.  The candle’s colors will be chosen for the season and appropriate time on the Jewish calendar.  Afterwards will be a song and davening.  Following circle time will be a reading, preschool skills, craft/cooking/block play to classical music, another reading, and Jewish studies (aleph-bet and stories from the Tanach).  Then, the rest of the day will be spent in “masterly inactivity” at a local park (weather permitting) followed by “tea time,” which will include poetry.

I’ll be pulling my materials from the Ambleside Online Year 0 list.  For the Jewish Studies, I’ll be asking for help from a homeschool-friendly source, who shall remain nameless (let’s just call him my Ivrit connection). 

Time to start gathering materials.  Now for a name.  Still need to think of one….suggestions will be helpful.

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Monkey has left the White House

“”I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Reign of Stupid is over.  Woohoo!

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Comments (10)  

Boro Park WMD’s

Since our country invaded Iraq, we’ve heard a lot of talk about WMD’s.  Which countries have them?  Will they use them against us?  How prevalent are they?  Unfortunately, there are many WMD’s right here in our own backyards, capable of injuring or killing many innocent people.

The weapons in questions?  Carelessly driven vehicles.

One afternoon, I was out with the Queen Mom and Things 1 and 2 in their Graco Duo Glider.  We reached the intersection of 19th Avenue and 50th St., and prepared to cross.  Now, the intersection in question has a stop sign.  So we were totally unprepared for not one, not two, but five cars running that stop sign, one right after the other!  All five were driven by frum Jews.  To make matters worse, there is a school right on that corner.  Those drivers who ran that stop sign were putting every child and teacher in that school at risk.

I wish I could say that this is an isolated incident.  Unfortunately, it is not.  I have lost count of the number of times I have been almost hit by a driver running a stop sign, turning against a light, or drving while on a cell phone.  Most, if not all of them, were frum people!

To all drivers: Yes, I know this city is crowded.  Yes, I know that you’re in a hurry.  But road laws were not put in place to annoy you.  They are there to protect other drvers and pedestrians.  The old couple on Ocean Parkway that you nearly ran over could be your parents.  The mother with her baby carriage could be your sister (when it comes to bad driving, women are just as guilty as men).  The schoolchildren could be your own children.  Bad driving is not only unsafe, it is a major chillul Hashem.  Please remember the following

1. Stop signs are not suggestions.  Same goes for red lights.

2. The pedestrian in front of you is not surroundeed by two tons of steel and padding.  You are.  In case of an accident, the odds are slightly in your favor.  Please give them the right of way.

3. Unless you are in Hatzoloh or Shomrim, there is no excuse to be driving and talking on a cell phone.  Studies have shown the combination can cause more accidents than drinking and alcohol.  If you need to call someone, pull off the road.  If someone is calling you, let it go to voicemail.  (And, if you are in Hatzoloh, the only excuse is getting directions to save someone’s life.  I’d better see a siren on.)

4. I don’t really want to hear excuses about “the obnoxious guy behind you.”  Let him honk.  If he wants to run the stop sign, fine.  It’s his ticket.  Don’t let it be yours.

Yes, New York has a reputation for obnoxious drivers.  But frum Jews should not be among them.  We are not permitted to eat or dress like the goyim around us.  We shouldn’t have to drive like them.

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  


Today, Thing 1 had a playdate with her cousins.  A seven-hour playdate Without Me!  Waah!

Her four-year-old cousin likes to play “school.”  Naturally, Four-Year-Old Cousin is the “teacher” and Thing 1 is the “student.”  Today, after her playdate, Thing 1 tells me “Want go to school.”  Waah!

Further conversation with Thing 1 revealerd of course, that Thing 1 has no idea what “school” is.  She was  just parroting what her older cousin was playing.  She’d probably say “Want a hand grenade” if someone talked about them to her.  Later, I asked if she’d like to “play school with Mommy,” she said “want play school with Mommy.”

OK.  The natural order is restored.  My baby still loves me.

But today I learned that Thing 1 is growing up.  One day she won’t need me anymore.


Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 1:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy New Year!

Happy 2009 to all!  Only 20 days until Barack Obama takes office (w00t!)

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

1,001 Stall Tactics of a Toddler

The Queen Mom is visiting!  Since I am her only child, that would make Thing 1 and Thing 2 her only grandchildren.  Last night, Queen Mom was trying to put Thing 1 to bed while I nursed Thing 2.  However, both she and the Builder caved on everything from extra stories to drinks of water to extra kisses night-night.  Eventually, I had to step in, and put Thing 1 to bed myself.  To everyone’s amazement, she went to bed without a fuss.

Since Thing 1 was about seven months old, I have been perfecting the art of getting her into bed without making her cry.  Obviously, we had a few nights of “cry it out” in the beginning, but now she goes to bed, for the most part, without a fuss.  However, there have been times when I had to lay down the law.  For instance, I don’t like to let her cry for more than 10 minutes.  If she did, I took her downstairs for “quiet time.”  I kept the lights dim and let her play, but I would lie on the couch and not interact.  No reading, no playing.  Eventually, she’d go to bed without a fuss.  Then, her stalling took a different tack.  She’d want to kiss the mezuzah on her door.  Not once, but several times!  Eventually, I’d have to pull her off.  She’d ask for another story, another good-night kiss, antoher drink of water.  She’s lie down in my bed and tuck herself in.  All very cute.  All very effective–on Builder.  I, on the other hand, would pick her up, carry her to her room, and continue despite her protests.

She gets the following every night: a bath, a clean diaper and pajamas, her hair brushed, “kiss Tatie night-night”, one story, one lullabye, one round of Shema, then Mommy tucks her in and kisses her goodnight.  If she tries to go for more than that, I cut straight for the crib.  She gets the point.

It absolutely amazes me that both Builder and Queen Mom, who each have managerial positions and are well-respected by their employees, turn into marshmallow fluff at the hands of a two-year old.

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holiday Rant 2008

This past year, I turned to the Builder and said “I know it’s only Veteran’s Day, but I’m already sick of Christmas!”

This year, Santa put in his first appearance before the Automnal Equinox.  Besides wondering if he was hot under all that fur, I wondered if the Jolly One knew that it wasn’t even Rosh Hashanah yet.

There are two possible explanations.  One: everything starts earlier.  This past election cycle started almost two years before we could cast a vote.  Why should Christmas be any different?

Two: Auntie Mame syndrome.  For those of you who never saw Mame, there’s one scene where Mame, who lost all her money in the Great Depression, has just been fired from her job as a salesgirl.  This coincides with her nephew coming home from school for Thanksgiving vacation.  Since both of them are so miserable, they decide to cheer themselves up by exchanging their Christmas presents a month early.  Similarly, we too are in a financial slump.  The bottom fell out of real estate, oil prices are dropping after major artificial inflation, the stock market is, falling, and a half-million jobs have been cut in the last few months.  Retailers hope to revive their flagging sales by reminding people “Hey!  It’s Christmas!  Peace on earth, goodwill to men, overpriced swag to your friends, and maybe we can have a black Christmas!”  Unfortunately, it didn’t work.  People started baking cookies and knitting sweaters as gifts.  Sales rose, but only slightly.  Even Santa couldn’t revive the economy.  Mybe he didn’t want to.  Maybe eight years under President Bush put us perpetually on the “naughty list”.

May the new year and the new administration bring us better tidings.  And, to everyone out there, I hope you had a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a divine Solstice, or just a nice day off work.

Published in: on December 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chag Chanukat Sameach!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah.   As we celebrate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees, let us pray for ge’ulah (redemption) and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in our time.

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

The “benefits” of playgroup

Thing 1, although she’s big for her age, just turned two last month.  Inevitably, someone will ask me if she goes to playgroup.  Now, please understand that “playgroup” does not mean a group of moms who get their kids together so that a good time can be had by all.  I’d have no problem with that.   “Playgroup” means a half-dozen two-year-olds and a “teacher” meeting three mornings a week so that the parents can have a break. 

Playgroup, also known as “school” (some even have their own yellow school buses), is supposed to be beneficial because it provides two-year-olds with socialization opportunities, structure, and the chance to gain some independence.  Let’s examine each of these in turn, shall we?

1. Socialization opportunities.  What social skills do two-year-olds learn from each other?  Many two-year-olds are pre-verbal.  Even the ones that aren’t are  still prone to frequent tantrums.  At this stage, kids do “parallel play”, when they play next to each other, rather than with each other.  Until they notice that one of their “friends” has a toy they want.  This leads to hitting, fighting and crying.  Let’s face it.  Most kids this age have the social finesse of Beatrix Potter’s Fierce Bad Rabbit.

2. Structure.  I once saw a sight that would have been funny if it hadn’t been so pathetic.  A dance class for toddlers was participating in the studio’s annual recital.  These kids, in shimmering costumes and more makeup than JonBenet, were supposed to be doing a dance to “Let Me Entertain You.”  Instead, they stood in their places, shuffled their feet, and stared straight ahead with a deer in the headlights look.  The moral of that story is: toddlers are too young for that sort of structure.  You can’t force it.

3. Independence:  Please.  They’re not moving out and getting jobs next week.   Thing 1 needs me.  I’m her mommy!  I’m supposed to kiss her boo-boo’s, read her stories, and give her “mommy hugs!”  She’s still in diapers!  She still needs me to tie her little shoes!  I’m not going to push her out of the nest yet.  Besides, even spending all day with me, she still wants to “do self-self” plenty of times.

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 1:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Hello world!

Why The Cat’s Hat?  Simple, we have a crazy cat (me), a “fish” of reason (my DH), and the adorable Things 1 and 2 (my baby daughters, ages 2 years and three mos, respectively).

After reading so many homeschool blogs, I thought I would start my own.  I get to document the life of a homeschool mom in NYC, all the paperwork, the doubts, the triumphs, and the fun.  Wait until my kid is old enough to legally start!  Plus, I get to be a rare bird, an Orthodox Jewish homeschool mom who lives in an area with several hundred Jewish girls’ schools.

Some questions that annoy me:

1. Why homeschool?  So I can save myself the agony of spending seven G’s a year for my daughters to receive inferior educations and spend the better part of the day with strangers.

2. How will they make friends?  Between synagogue, dance class, Scouts, swim lessons, and wherever else their interests lead them, I’m not worried. Besides, nearly every family on my block has kids their age.

3. But then they won’t have Jewish friends.  Guess what!  If some of their friends happen to be non-Jews, I’m not going to cry about it.  New York is a diverse city.  I’d rather my kids learn that now and learn to deal with others than have them turn into a bad Jewish stereotype.

4. They won’t fit into mainstream society.  Really.  I was homeschooled for my last year of high school.  Yet somehow I managed to finish college, live in a dormitory, hold down a job, live in an apartment, pay taxes, and get married.  Boy, am I abnormal!

5. How will you know what to teach them?  Um, my kid is two.  I think I can handle it.  Besides, there are these wonderful devices called books.  I can learn things from them and then teach my kids.

6. Won’t you get sick of them?  I know I’m counting the days until mine go to school.  Let’s make a deal.  If you don’t respond with horror at the thought of my homeschooling, I won’t comment on the fact that you chose not to use birth control and now have five kids.

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 6:09 pm  Comments (7)