Monthly Archives: November 2010

Chanukah coloring pages for kids

Our Chanukah box has been brought in from the garage, and the climber moved out of the living room and down to the basement to make room for the table that will hold all the menorahs. The menorah table kids has been covered with aluminum foil and placed in front of the living room windows, and all of the kids who are lighting have set up their menorahs. (Tonight we’ll decide if ds4 will get to light this year or wait until next year.)

The kids like to make Chanukah decorations and cover our front door and windows. This afternoon I printed out some pictures for the littles to color so they could be involved in all of the preparations as well.  When I was looking for coloring pages, I also noted some other nice resources available for kids (and their parents!), so I thought I’d share some of them. (Links are to the Chanukah resources rather than the main page.) Most of these sites have games, activities, coloring pages, and more.



Torah Tots

Tzivos Hashem – (I enjoyed listening to the selection of Chanukah songs on this site – the kids got a kick out of the Bruce the Chanukah Moose song since that was new to them, but there are traditional songs available as well.)

To add a little more fun to the Chanukah spirit in the house right now, we just got a call from a local restaurant that ds4 won second prize in a coloring contest for his age group (ages 3 – 7)!  Ds11, dd10, and ds8 also entered for their age groups, and are probably more excited for their brother than he is for himself.  (They get a free kids’ meal just for having entered.)  We have to pick up his prize tomorrow: 4 free kids meals, 6 jelly doughnuts, 6 bags Chanukah gelt (chocolate gilt covered coins), 6 large latkes, and a gift certificate to a Judaica store.  Very generous, isn’t it?


Using Rosetta Stone for Hebrew language

At the beginning of the school year, I purchased (together with another homeschooler) the complete Rosetta Stone Hebrew language program.  I called support three different times to be sure that it was okay to buy the program together and share it, and was told it was fine.  The program is set up for use on two different computers and each computer can accommodate five different users.  So we each have it registered to one of our computers, and can each use it for up to five children. 

We didn’t get this installed until October, but since then, the kids have been getting so much out of it!  We bought the complete program, which consists of three levels that will supposedly take you through a basic level of conversational fluency.  Dd14 finished level one in ten days, and I was amazed that she could construct basic sentences in such a short time. 

I really like how Rosetta Stone structures their learning – you can click on a sample lesson on their website if you want to try it.  It’s easier to see than to describe, but basically it’s like this:  you’re shown four pictures on the screen, all somewhat similar and somewhat different.  You’ll see the word or phrase describing one of the pictures on the screen and simultaneously hear the pronunciation of each word. Then you’re asked to say the phrase that matches the phrase (and your pronunciation has to be fairly accurate to get it right).

This gets the child immediately immersed in the language, just as if they were living abroad. The phrases and pictures get more complicated, and you can’t progress to a higher level until you’ve reached a certain level of understanding. Each child has their own account and comes back to where they were up to when they sit down to work on this.

I’ve been very happy with this program and have been meaning to write about it since it’s such a great way to learn.  It’s so easy and fun for everyone.  It’s pretty pricey, but I bought it with a friend when it was on sale, so the amount we each paid for all three levels was about what we would have on our own paid for just the first level.   

I just got an email that for Cyber Monday (today), they’re having a great sale on all of their programs (they have probably just about every language that you’d want to learn!), so I thought I’d pass the information on for anyone interested so you can save some money!   The promo code I was sent is nfcyb (I don’t know if you need the code or not, and this is not in any way linked to me) and it’s good until midnight tonight.


A birthday suprise for dd

Today was my wonderful oldest daughter’s sixteenth birthday!  When I think back on the morning she was gone, it doesn’t seem like that long ago at all. 

Since we usually have nice family celebrations for each person in our family and we obviously can’t do that with her so far away, I wanted her to know from the very start of the day how much we were thinking of her.  So I stayed up until after midnight to make the call (there’s a seven hour difference in time zones), and she had just woken up a few minutes before I called so the timing worked out perfectly!   My husband called her from work later on in the morning, and then all the other kids and I called her back in the early afternoon (night for her) and all together sang a very vigorous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.  So she got calls throughout the day.

I mentioned last week that I was chagrined that despite my efforts, none of our cards or gifts were going to reach dd in time for her birthday.  Then a few days ago, I decided to give her a special birthday surprise that I could be assured would reach her on time!

Since dd left to study in Israel in September, I’ve had a vague wishful kind of feeling about wanting to go and visit her.  Last week, I had a sudden bolt of determination to stop being wishful and start taking action towards that goal.  My motivation came not from the desire to take a long trip involving lots of complicated childcare arrangements and expenses that fall well outside of our usual budget, but from the rock solid knowledge that this would be a powerful deposit in dd’s emotional bank account, and with her being away for an extended time, now is a particularly important time to make a deposit like that. 

As kids get older, they don’t need us any less.  A common mistake I see is that parents step back at times that they need to step forward, thinking that their children need independence and to spread their wings, convinced that their input as parents isn’t that critical any more.  This is so backward.  The relationship you have with your child should be the most important thing that they have (until they get married), and if it isn’t, it’s your job as a parent to invest in it. Even if you have a strong relationship, relationships require ongoing care and investment.  You can’t coast on last year’s relationship and think it will be as good as when you were really making active efforts to build the connection with your child. 

So for me, this trip is about being congruent with my deepest convictions about what parenting is about.  And I decided to commit to making this trip in two months, and trust that I will be sent all that I need for it to happen in that time frame.    It’s going to be really interesting watching how it all plays out!

Even though I made the decision last week, contacted the head of her program, etc, I waited until this morning to tell her so it would be a special announcement for her birthday.  She was so surprised and happy when I told her I’d be coming, and I went to sleep after our call so glad that I made this decision. 

I was torn about wanting to surprise her – part of me wanted to show up at her dorm without giving her a clue that anything was in the works.  But dh and dd14 both said they thought it would be better to tell her, and I agreed.  I think then looking forward to the visit becomes part of the experience for her, rather than the brief trip itself.  Dd16 at first said she wished I would have surprised her, but by the time she spoke to dd14 later in the day, she changed her mind and said she’s really glad that we told her!  I’m so, so looking forward to spending time with her.


Getting ready for Thanksgiving

We’ll be going to our monthly homeschool group activity this afternoon and will get home just in time to get ready for dinner, so I wanted to use part of the morning to get a good start on our Thanksgiving preparations this morning.  Our menu so far is:

  • roast turkey
  • cornbread stuffing balls
  • mashed potatoes
  • roasted yams
  • cranberry sauce
  • salad
  • sauteed green beans and matchstick carrots
  • pumpkin pies
  • brownies

So far, we have 5 pans of brownies finished (courtesy of dd10 and ds8, and when I went into the kitchen I discovered that as I was writing this, ds3 took a small pinch out of the top of four of them;)), pumpkin pie filling made for several pies (ds11), flour ground and ready to start the pie crusts, a pot of potatoes boiling (ds8 peeled them all) and two 14-lb turkeys stuffed and basted (I’ll roast them when I get back).  My mom is bringing the stuffing and yams so when we get home we just have to make the crusts and bake the pies, prepare the mashed potatoes, and make the vegetable side dishes.  I’ll do the salad tomorrow so it will be fresh.  Later tonight I’ll also do some preparations for Shabbos so that Friday can be a pleasant day instead of rushing around. 

Every year that we’ve been doing this I’ve had a slightly ambivalent feeling about all of these Thanksgiving preparations, since we do this mostly because it’s important to my in-laws.  (To be clear: I think having an annual day to consciously express gratitude is a beautiful idea, and I’m not in any way opposed to Thanksgiving.   But I grew up having Thanksgiving weekend rather than one day and that would be my preference if it were up to me.) But it’s a lot of work for me and of course there are the usual Shabbos preparations to do for the next day.  The first year or two I grappled with some feelings of resentment that I was doing something I didn’t really want to do for the sake of others and didn’t feel much appreciation, which is obviously not a very positive mindset.  I moved towards accepting it as something nice that I can do for my in-laws, which was much more positive and allowed me to smile at them when serving and cleaning up and really feel the smiles!   However, this year I realized that a higher level would be to embrace it rather than just accept it.  Every opportunity to create family rituals and memories is something to appreciate and use to your advantage as a parent, and realizing that this is something for me and my family as much as for them is very helpful in having an even more cheerful perspective about all of the effort involved.  It’s an opportunity for our children to be with their grandparents creating shared memories, something I never did with my grandparents since they lived so far away.   

Meanwhile, it’s dd15’s birthday in a few days and when we prepared the envelope to send her birthday cards to her, we found that all of the cards that were laboriously created over three weeks ago (so it would get to her in time for her birthday) were accidentally put in recycling.  :( :(  So right now, the older four kids are preparing new cards for her, something totally different than what they did before.  They told me they recorded themselves showing her the original cards on dd’s camera, so maybe we can get a cd made to mail to dd so she’ll see those as well.  I’m so disappointed because everything was done three weeks ago in time for the party we held to record for her, and now after all of our advance planning, she’s not going to get anything in time for her birthday.  And even worse, her dorm closes for Chanuka so everything that is mailed at this point will arrive after Chanuka, so nothing will get to her in time for her birthday. :(  Even the present we sent with a classmate’s mother that I was sure would be given to her personally on the second day of Chanuka (a day after her birthday) is in question, since the mother won’t be visiting the school with the dorm being closed.  Dd15 is the one who makes all the birthday cards and cakes for everyone else in our family (even in her dorm now she does a lot of that for other girls!) and it was especially important to me that she know how much we were thinking of her on her birthday.  Ds17 called me to get her address since he wanted to send her a letter for her birthday, so hopefully that will arrive in time.  It just goes to show that the best of plans can be waylaid.

Well, we better eat some lunch so we can get everyone out and ready for our homeschool meeting on time!


Monday night parenting class option

I’m so much enjoying the parenting classes that I’m giving with a wonderful group of moms!  Someone today told me I should mention here that tomorrow night I’ll be offering a new Part 1 series of Joy in the Journey (my parenting workshop classes).  This is for those who couldn’t attend on Sundays and want to start at the beginning (which is the best place to start!). 

The classes are set up as a small group workshop to allow for discussion and personalized feedback. My foundational approach is one based on connection and relationship building with children, synthesized with clear guidelines and structure.  The focus is on learning where to put your efforts as a parent so you can enjoy the process of parenting while developing a beautiful family culture.  This is something I’ve developed and implemented over years of parenting, and can say that it’s not just not nice sounding theory – it really works!

Part 1 consists of 4 classes and will take place on Monday evenings from 8 – 9:30, beginning on Nov. 22 (tomorrow!!). For mothers of children all ages; $50; email me for the lcation. If you have friends that you feel would benefit, please feel free to share this information with them.  


Accessing intuition

A couple of weeks ago I woke up and thought of a friend I hadn’t spoken to in several months.  Then a half thought went through my mind, ‘is she dead?’, followed by a feeling of gratitude that I had called and left a message for her several weeks ago letting her know I was thinking of her.   It was so strange to have a feeling like that, the kind of gratitude you feel when you don’t have any more time left in a relationship and can only look back on what was.  But it didn’t make any sense and kind of flashed through my mind, so I shook the feeling off as being negative and got started on my day.

An hour later a friend called, and told me that a mutual friend of ours passed away the evening before.   Before she even told me the name, I knew what she was going to say, and I immediately realized why what seemed like a bizarre thought had gone through my mind.   Sure enough, she then told me that the person I had just been thinking about an hour before had passed away.

Then yesterday I had a weird thing happen.  I was driving home from an outing with my two littlest ones, and suddenly a thought that W. Clement Stone has referred to as a reverse paranoid came into my mind  (meaning he cultivated the belief that everyone was out to do something nice for him).  So, I continued thinking, when you’re driving on a highway you aren’t dealing with anyone one-on-one so it’s hard to apply that attitude.   Then I thought, ‘maybe I’m supposed to be in a car accident this minute and I don’t even appreciate the good that is happening for me because I take it for granted’.  I took a moment to consciously focus on my appreciation that Hashem (God) was keeping me safe and protected as I drove.

Then literally two minutes later, a large truck merged very suddenly right in front of me, with a marginal amount of space between my van and him.  I eased off the gas to put some more room between us, thinking that he clearly had a lot of confidence in his spacial perception since that merge was a risky maneuver.  A minute later, it felt like the highway exploded in front of me but it wasn’t an explosion, it was that so much suddenly happened in a few seconds.  The truck in front of me must have decided he was in the wrong lane because he rapidly merged back into the lane he had just come from on the right, but as he did, he hit the car in that lane, sending her slamming into the concrete barrier.  As I saw her car headed for the barrier, he was violently swerving over two lanes of traffic (I assume in his failed attempt to avoid hitting the person who must have been in his blind spot)  and narrowly missed hitting the car on the other side.

I wasn’t sure if I should write about this, because I can’t put into words the feeling I had.  A couple of minutes later I started shaking, and it wasn’t feeling like it could have been me that made me feel like that, which is a normal feeling.  It was that less than three minutes before I had been thinking the thought I shared with you.  The ‘coincidence’ was too uncanny, the timing too remarkable, and what unnerved me was a kind of inner sense that as a result of that thought and focus of gratitude just two minutes before, somehow it shifted something that was about to happen to me.

Intuition is an incredible thing.  I don’t pretend to know how it works or the meaning of these things, and I know I may sound kind of woo-woo or corny to mention these examples, but more and more I’ve become convinced that we need to learn to access our internal wisdom.  My mother thinks that I inherited a gift her mother had, something called the ‘sixth sense’, but I don’t think so.  I think this is probably a normal thing that most people have, the whisperings of the soul maybe, but we all ignore it because we’re supposed to be rational beings and this stuff isn’t quantifiable and doesn’t make sense.

But the fact is that whether we try to access it or not, we all have intuition.  Recognizing what is intuition and what is mental clutter can be hard, and I can’t personally tell you what the difference is.  I haven’t figured it out, but it is kind of scary when I do recognize it.


National Homemade Bread Day and Pizza Dough

(For those who saw the message that my account was suspended earlier, and were wondering what was going on – I was relieved that within less than five minutes of contacting support, my account was restored and I was sent an apology and explanation that there was a mistake made in the system which has been corrected.  Thank you to Y. who contacted me to let me know that the blog was down.) 

I’ve just learned that today is National Homemade Bread Day!  (Seriously, who sits around and makes up these ideas for national days??)

Anyway, it happens that today I’m trying an experiement – pizza rolls and kolaches of different flavors. Ds11 mixed up a large batch of pizza dough (10 cups of flour), so what’s left to do is rolling out the bread dough thinly into a large rectangle, spreading filling on it, and rolling it up like a cinnamon roll.  Since we are out once a week for lunch time, it will be nice to have an easy meal to take with us when we go out.  I think it will be like a compact sandwich.  I’m planning to partially bake the batches that are destined for the freezer, and then bake then for ten minutes before eating so that they are hot and fresh.

Here’s my pizza dough recipe – ds mixed up five times this amount for us:

Pizza Dough

  • 1/2 – 3/4 c. warm water
  • 1 T. instant yeast
  • 1 t. sucanat
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 t. salt

Combine 1/4 c. warm water with yeast and set aside.

Mix flour, coconut oil, and salt.  Mix together with yeast mixture.  Drizzle remaining water to the mixture.  Let stand ten minutes, covered.  Pat out dough, and spread with toppings.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until crust is golden.


Avivah’s Favorite Things

Sometimes it feels like expectations others have of me rise faster than my ability to meet them, and I start to feel inwardly tense.  Years ago it would take a couple of weeks of it building up and getting pretty intense before I’d do something about it, but I’ve fortunately learned to recognize this feeling early on.  So tonight I was thinking about how to appropriately rebalance myself, when I read something online – a personalized version of the song from the classic movie A Sound of Music, ‘My Favorite Things’.  Do you know the song?

The song has a catchy and upbeat tune, and I’ve always liked it.  I was inspired to write up my own version to reflect some of my favorite things, and I found myself smiling and the tension melting away within about five minutes as I scratched out my verses. I did this while listening with the kids to our evening readaloud (we got the book on cassette this time to give my voice a rest and we all listen together) so it’s not Roger and Hammerstein but that’s okay!

Because it made me smile, I thought I’d share it with you. If you know the song that I’m referring to you can imagine the words below set to music.

Avivah’s Favorite Things

  • Sweet morning hugs surrounded by littles
  • Snuggles and kisses and lots of giggles
  • Playing and talking and tying heart strings
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • Jumping in leaves and playing in snow
  • Warming up with cups of hot cocoa
  • Watching the olders take care of siblings
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • Going on trips and learning together
  • Cooking and planting and watching the weather
  • Thanking Hashem for my precious blessings
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • Sleeping in tents and hiking on trails
  • Building a patio and banging in nails
  • Around campfires and on Shabbos we sing
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • Long conversations with time to listen
  • A beautiful family that makes my eyes glisten
  • All of the love and the closeness it brings
  • These are a few of my favorite things.


  • When messes pile high
  • And I feel stress rise
  • And I’m feeling sad
  • I simply remember my favorite things
  • And then I don’t feel so bad!

If you feel inspired to create a stanza or two of your own, I would LOVE it if you shared it below!


A general update

I’ve been trying to limit my time online and get more sleep so I haven’t been posting much  recently.  So I’ll do a miscellaneous ’roundup’ to kind of catch you up on the general goings on.

Yesterday was my birthday, and my family surprised me with special desserts and a special vegetable plate that spelled out Mommy – it was really creative and nice looking!  Through the course of the day they ‘Happy Birthday’ to me three times – and each time took a while since they did the whole version (‘how old are you now?  Not 1, not 2…..)  Dh had everyone think in advance of something nice to say about what they appreciated about me – this is something I usually do with the kids on the spot when we have family birthday parties, and at the last party dh suggested that it might be easier for the kids to come up with something meaningful if given some time to think about it beforehand.  Getting a little older, and hopefully a little better….

The last birthday party was the one we made a couple of weeks ago for dd15 (almost 16).   Even though she’s in Israel until June, we still wanted to celebrate her birthday.  Her birthday is actually after mine but we had her party early so we could video it; she’ll hopefully receive the recording in time to watch it on her computer on her birthday (at the end of the month).  We didn’t bother with a special dinner but did make her a special ice cream cake and everyone sang while it was brought in for her and placed in front of her (the camera screen :)).   Unfortunately the battery went out before we could record everyone saying something they appreciated about her, so I wrote it down and will send it to her with the disc and some family pictures to help her remember what we look like. :) The mother of one of her classmates is going to visit for Chanuka and was able to take a small package for her, so we were able to send her a birthday present that she’ll get about the time of her birthday. 

Since the food situation isn’t really great at her school, she requested that we make her some dehydrated food.  (She asked me if it were possible for me to can biscuits for her – had to tell her no to that idea!)  It seems the standard fare served is lots of carbs and not many healthy fats, so the girls never feel full.  But they do have access to hot water.  I made a large pot (10 quarts) of split pea soup, a pot of meat chili, and chicken lentil stew.  I also made her a pot of brown rice.  I dehydrated everything (to do this I made my dehydrator fleishig) – it’s always amazing to see how compact this becomes.  The split pea soup probably came out to about six cups or less – we blended the dehydrated split pea soup so that it was totally powdered; it should rehydrate easily when she adds hot water, and I hope the chili and chicken dish rehydrate well even though they weren’t blended into powder.   

I also sent her some candied ginger (good for nausea, and yummy, too!) and some chia seeds.  Chia seeds expand to several times their size when mixed with a liquid and left to sit for about ten minutes.  I told her she could add 2 – 3 tablespoons to milk and add a little xylitol (she took some along with her after reading a comment someone left here that it was a good lice preventative :), and she told me all her friends like it, too!) and after letting it sit for about ten minutes, it will be like pudding and should be a reasonably filling breakfast.  I had to keep everything under 5 lb so I could only send a small part of what I made (two cups of each of the stews, and no rice), but at the very least she’ll know we thought of her and feel loved – and really, that’s the most important thing. 

I thought it was particularly ironic that the same week that dd15 told me how much she missed our food, dd14 and ds11 told me that they would appreciate if we could make some adaptations to what we eat that will make our meals more appreciated by them.  That’s a nice way of saying they politely complained.  I asked them what they would like to change and how those changes could be implemented.  The main suggestion that I agreed to was to spend less energy on lunch and dinner, keeping them as simple as possible.  That way, the saved energy could be spent on dinner preparations, so that meal would feel more special to them.  I told them I’m happy to make whatever they want but they have to let me know what that is, and the meals have to meet my idea of decent nutrition.  The changes haven’t been major (if we add a large fresh salad to our regular dinner it makes them very happy) but they’ve been pleased with it. 

On the menu planning front, I’ve shifted to simpler meal plans and haven’t been sharing since I’m making less variety than  have in the past, so I didn’t want to bore you.   I’ll try to post about the general guidelines of what we’re doing sometimes soon in a different post, though.  Dd14 has asked that her morning chore be making breakfast, so I give her free reign and she likes having the freedom to do what she wants. She doesn’t always stick with my guidelines but that’s okay. 

Despite being hungry, dd15 is doing great and having a wonderful time.  She fortunately has a blog that we all read for regular updates of what is going on at school. We miss her a lot and I’m appreciative that Skype allows us to see her and for her to see us, particularly the littles, who are growing so fast.    They wouldn’t be able to get much of a sense of connection via the phone but seeing her face appear on the computer screen in front of her definitely helps them feel more connected to her.  Ds4 regularly tells me how much he misses her.  

Ds17 is also doing great and will be coming home for a visit in three weeks.  I was hoping we’d have more time with him but it looks like a week is all the time they’ll be off.  Last night my mom asked about them coming for Friday night dinner that week, but I told her that we’re not having anyone over while he’s here.  I would have been happy to have her when it was just her, but now that she’s remarried, it’s different.  For starters, our family enjoys singing together and we can’t do that when guests are here. 

On the homeschooling front, things have been very busy.  The kids are all busy with lots of good things, but I’m kind of ambivalent about it all – it’s becoming a big effort to carve out time when everyone is home to relax together.  I don’t think I’m going to change the schedule now, as much as I would love to tell everyone that they have to drop all of their out of the house activities!  They’re of enough value that I’ll bear the discomfort of feeling too busy.  But next year I’ll definitely be thinking about all of this before making similar commitments. For those of you with younger children, enjoy this peaceful time!


Family dinner hour

A couple of weeks ago my ds11 had a friend over for two nights when his parents were away.  During dinner the first night, he opted to read a book on the couch rather than eat with us (which was fine with me, I think he had eaten before coming).  When ds was finally excused to leave the table, I overheard his friend tell him, “That was the longest dinner I ever heard of!”

I laughed when I heard that, and asked my kids why they supposed ‘dinner hour’ was called that!  It used to be traditional for families to gather every evening to eat together, to share the events of the day, and to reconnect – and an hour was a typical amount of time families spent together.  Last year a social worker I was chatting with told me that the family meal is a ritual that is becoming increasingly rare.

Nowadays it seems that meals have become about quickly refueling than being together. But to me, the need to refuel is an excuse for the family to get together!  Because life is so hectic, it means we have to consciously carve out space for family members to be together in a relaxed and positive environment, and meals are the perfect opportunity!  After all, you have to eat, right? :)

Studies have been done that show that kids from families that eat dinner together a few times a week go on to much higher levels of success in a number of areas of life, and to me that’s just science confirming common sense.  It’s not the eating together itself that builds kids, as much as what happens when you eat together.  It’s the values of parents who put mealtime at the top of the list that matter – because when parents make their families a priority and take time to connect, it shows.

Meal times are a fantastic time for family members to touch base with one another, to talk about their experiences of the day.  It’s also such a valuable time to share ideas, experiences, and values.  Parents, you have a captive audience, so capitalize on it!  :)  Seriously, share some interesting stories or ideas, ask the kids what they think about it.  Last night I shared the story I had just read of the world’s most famous neurosurgeon and his academic struggles along the way.  We can all learn so much from people who have pushed past their fears and comfort zones to create a new kind of life for themselves.  That’s a powerful message to share, and you’re providing interesting content while everyone is munching away!  While you don’t have to do that every night (and I certainly don’t), there’s plenty you can do to make mealtimes interesting and enjoyable for everyone.

At our dinners, I usually ask a question like: “What was the best thing about your day?”  or  “What are you especially grateful for today?”  Everyone gets a turn, and everyone has to be quiet and listen to whoever is speaking, even the littles.  We even ask ds17 months what he liked about his day!  (Usually say something for him since he doesn’t talk yet and he looks at everyone and smiles.)   Ds3 and ds4 both need some help formulating their thoughts sometimes, but it’s okay, because it’s a process.  The idea isn’t that they have to perfectly put their thoughts in order as much as the practice in learning to look for the good and share about it with others.

So yes, it can take a while to have dinner together; our average time is about 45 minutes to an hour.  For the time you invest, you get so much more back than what you put in!  I strongly recommend that even if it means rearranging your schedules or cutting out extracurricular activities for some family members, that you consider making family mealtimes a priority several times a week (if not more!).