Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tiki’s gluten free tortillas

If you’ve noticed that this year I haven’t been posting as many recipes as I did in the past, the reason is two-fold: I’ve been so busy I haven’t had much time to post recipes, and secondly, dd16 is a great cook and recipe creator, so I haven’t had her creations to share with you.  (Though dd14 has come up with a bunch of winners that I keep wishing I had time to post – she prefers the food-type recipes, and dd16 prefers baked goods and desserts.)  With dd16 back for a short while, thanks to her additional help I have more time available, and she’s busy making up fun things in the kitchen.

Here was tonight’s creation:

Tiki’s Gluten free Tortillas

  • 1/2 c. millet flour
  • 1/2 c. cornmeal
  • 1 c. potato starch
  • 2 t. xanthan gum
  • 1  1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. oat milk (or milk, coconut milk, water, etc.)
  • 4 t. coconut oil

Combine dry ingredients. Heat oat milk till warm, but not bubbling. Add the warm milk and coconut oil to the dry ingredients and knead till smooth. Split dough into 8 balls and roll each one out (you may want to flour your surface with a little millet flour). Cook  tortillas in an ungreased frying pan over medium heat for 30 seconds on one side, then turn over and fry for another 30 second on the other side.

Yield: 8 tortillas

These were really tasty, not at all like what you’d expect of gluten-free tortillas!  The only problem was that she only made 22, and some of the kids would have liked more.  😛


Dental woes

Last night I received an email, and this was part of the message:

>>I read one of the articles on your blog about teeth brushing, or lack thereof of doing it frequently.  I was very thrilled by this, as I am so bad at getting them to brush.<<

I don’t want people to think that not brushing kids teeth is recommended, and in the absence of an exellent diet and regular check-ups, issues are likely to crop up.  Let me update you on my own very recent experience.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been taking different kids to the dentist to get everyone checked before we go to Israel.  I figured that there would be more than enough things to do close to our moving date this summer, so I’m trying to do as much as I can in advance.  I am SO glad that I did this. Because our dental situation is a disaster and it would have been impossible to fit in all the appointments in the last few weeks. 

First I took ds12, who broke a front tooth when playing last year.  We had it repaired, and when playing (with the same friend) several months ago, he broke it again.  We got it taken care of again, but were told that the root had been badly damaged.  So I started off this recent round of dental visits with dd12 getting a root canal.  And he has three cavities.  Since our kids have hardly ever had cavities, this shocked me.  We’ve gotten the cavities on one side of his mouth taken care of, so I have just one more appointment for him until he’s finished (4 appointments total).  

Then I took ds8.  Nine cavities.  No, that’s not a typo.  Two appointments left for him.  Oh, and he needs palette expansion (which wasn’t a surprise), but after a trip to the orthodontist, I was told I should wait until moving to Israel to begin that.   Then dd16 (who brushes and flosses regularly) – 3 cavities and a broken tooth.  Oh, and she needs to have her wisdom teeth removed.  I juggled around the appointments I had already scheduled for the younger kids to fit her in before she leaves, since there were no open slots before her departure date.  So she had two visits her first day home (fun, fun!), and one more this week.  Then ds5 – thank G-d, two teeny tiny dark spots that I’d usually just keep an eye on and wait for them to fall out, but because of the upcoming move I want to get them taken care of.  Ds17 – can’t remember the details, but I do know that I scheduled one follow-up for him. 

And lastly (not all the kids had appointments yet) is ds3.  I could see there was some decay between his two front teeth. His teeth are very closely spaced and food gets stuck there. But I really didn’t expect anything more.  Oh boy. The dentist took a look in his mouth, then looked at me and said, “He’s got a lot going on in there for such a young child. At least four cavities.”  He recommended taking him to a pediatric dentist where they practice sedation dentistry.  So I took him to a pediatric dentist.  (Did I mention that all of these appointments were taking place in the two weeks immediately prior to Pesach?)

The pediatric dentist took xrays and before telling me the results, asked me a series of questions like these:  Does he drink juice?  No, only water.  Does he drink milk before bed?  No, only for breakfast.  Did he ever use a bottle at night?  No, he never had a bottle at all.  Does he eat a lot of sugary foods?  Aside from some snacks (from older sibling), I don’t use sugar and minimize other sweeteners.  When she finished, she  told me that he has 15 cavities in his 20 teeth.  Since his eating and brushing habits are just like ds5, this was hard for me to understand.  She attributed it to his teeth being so close together – the cavities are almost all between his teeth, not on the surface, and even if I had been more regular about brushing, it wouldn’t have helped; flossing would have made the difference.  She also said some children have bacteria in their mouths that are different than other children, and this can be a big contributing factor as well.

She explained that it will take 6 visits to take care of this , and told me what was involved in sedation dentistry.  Basically that it doesn’t always take, sometimes it partially takes, and sometimes it fully takes – but there’s no way to know.  (It made me think of an epidural.)  And so she recommended that because of his age and the amount of work he needs done, the likelihood of trauma is high, so it might be better to have it taken care of under general anesthesia at the hospital.  After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to go with this suggestion.  I have an appointment scheduled for him in June, with a pre-op physical scheduled at his pediatrician a few weeks before that.   (Lately I have been on the phone a LOT making appointments!)  Update just a few hours after writing this: I just learned that our insurance company refused coverage for ds3’s dental work.  I can’t tell from the wording of the letter if they’re refusing the hospital part or something else, so now I need to do some more research and decide what the best options from this point on will be.  We might end up doing the sedation option after all.

Though I continually have felt grateful for our dental insurance that minimizes the cost in dollars of all of this to us, I was really struggling with feeling guilty. Guilty, irresponsible, inadequate -I felt embarrassed for my children to have cavities like this, and along with that was the guilt that I know so much about diet and how it relates to dental health, that I should have done all the things I know are important to do.  You know how a mother’s brain has a hard time shutting off once the guilt button gets pushed?  That was me.  My consolation was that our dentist sent us to the same pediatric dentist that he sends his children to.  😛  It reminded me that all parents do their best, and regardless of their knowledge or convictions, sometimes things fall through the cracks. 

Practically speaking, after so many kids and so many years of very few cavities, what do I attribute this big change to?  A few things.  1) This year I really haven’t been as on top of our diet as I usually am.  This wouldn’t matter as much (since our not so great diet is still pretty good) if not for one older child who regularly started bringing home snacks and treats to share with younger siblings.  As a result, snacking has become much less controlled and more frequent.  You can’t compensate for this with a decent diet alone.

2) This dentist is new to us, and because his approach is more aggressive than our past dentist, I suspect that he may define cavities more stringently than she did.  Whether that’s the case or not, there definitely are issues that we need to address, so I’m not complaining or pointing fingers.  Just saying that I wonder if we’d have been told there are as many as there are. 

3) A very big factor, I think, is that it’s been over 2 years since I took the kids to the dentist, since our beloved dentist stopped accepting our insurance, and I procrastinated about finding someone to replace her.  If we were doing our checkups every six months, we would have found signs of decay when it was beginning, and for most of the kids (not ds3), it wouldn’t have reached this point. 

4) Lastly, I think brushing your teeth is valuable even if you have a good diet, but definitely if you have a lousy or even so-so diet (taking into account the added snacks the kids were given, it would downgrade our diet to so-so).  I don’t think brushing will prevent cavities if you structurally weaken them with a lousy diet (dd16 attributes her cavities to the junk she was eating at the beginning of the year when she first was away), but I definitely think it’s a good thing to do.  So please don’t stop brushing your childrens’ teeth because of me!


A wonderful Pesach!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Pesach!  Ours was so, so nice.  I think it gets nicer every year.

Firstly, it was so special to have ds17 and dd16 home with us again.  I already commented about that but it adds so much when everyone is home at the same time.  The sedarim were great – I was feeling sad that next year we’ll only have one seder (since that’s what is done is Israel).  I’m at the point now when many things we are doing is the last time we’re doing it in America, and that’s a mixed feeling – though we’re all looking forward to our move, our present lives are very pleasant and it’s not easy making such a big change and knowing that this stage of our lives is coming to a close. 

On chol hamoed, we took the kids to a state park that had a baseball field and a huge playground.  We ended up spending almost all the time at the baseball field – we had enough people for a family baseball game, which was really fun!  I didn’t play until the end, and when I got up, I was jokingly warning ds17, who was pitching to me, about the home run I was going to hit.  He was joking back to me about his confidence in my hitting ability (since I was swinging and not connecting with the ball), when I caught him offguard by hitting it hard directly at him – it was a good thing he has fast enough reflexes that he deflected it from directly hitting him!   And I did later hit a home run, though that might partially be since no one was fielding at the time!  😛

Then on Friday, my sister came for a good part of the day with her two children.  As soon as I made dd16’s ticket to come home, I called my sister and told her that dd and ds were going to be here for Pesach, and it would be her last chance to see all of us before we moved to Israel.  I asked her if there was any way she could come visit.  Her schedule is SO busy – I don’t know how she does all she does.  Busyness is why we’ve only seen each other twice in the last four years – now 3 times, with this visit – though we both would love it if it were more frequent.  My sister is so great!  She really made it happen, and I’m so appreciative to her for putting in the time and money to make the trip; I know it wasn’t easy.  Our kids love seeing their cousins, and their cousins love seeing them.  It was close to my nephew’s birthday, so dd16 made him a cake and we sang him the three stanzas of Happy Birthday, as we always do. My sister said it was the first time she ever heard the full rendition!   It was really hard to say goodbye.  It’s that mixed feeling that I told you about.

Throughout all of Pesach we had a nice mix of guests and family, and it was so relaxing to have a week without all the non-stop planning and paperwork and appointments that I’ve been busy with.  Funny, usually Pesach feels like never ending meal preparation and clean up, but compared to what I’ve been doing lately, it was a major vacation.

Tonight we turned the kitchen back over, and as we did that, I started feeling the ‘time to get back to real life’ feeling.  It didn’t take long for my ‘to do’ list for tomorrow to fill a page.  It makes me appreciate even more how nice it’s been not having a pressing list of things to do for this past week!


Mac and Squash Cheese

This is a recipe that is great for those on a gluten/grain free diet, which makes it perfect for Pesach!  It’s a totally different way of thinking about a familiar food – I adapted my favorite mac and cheese recipe to create this.

Mac and Squash Cheese

  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 2 – 4 T. butter
  • optional – 2 T. potato starch
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c . shredded cheese
  • 1 c. butternut squash, baked and pureed
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Saute the chopped onions and minced garlic until golden.  Stir in the milk.  At this point you can add in the potato starch to thicken the sauce a little.  (If you add in this step, mix the potato startch with a small amount of water first and then it won’t chunk up when you add it to the hot milk mixture).  Stir until the desired thickness – it will be quick, not more than a minute.  Add in cheese, and when it’s melted, mix in the squash.  Stir until smooth.  

Serve hot over steamed cauliflower or mashed potatoes. 


Butternut Squash Casserole

Pesach is around the corner and I’ve hardly mentioned anything about preparations, menu plans, or recipes!    Tonight I was writing out my list of dishes to make for Passover, and remembered this recipe.  Butternut squash is a fantastic food – packed with nutrients, delicious, and very, very versatile.  Here’s a recipe that can be used as a side dish for a main meal or as a pudding for dessert. 

Butternut Squash Casserole

  • 2 c. butternut squash, cooked (I like to bake mine at 350 degrees until soft, then mash it)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. honey (I prefer the smaller amount of sweetener)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 2 T. grated coconut
  • 1/2 t. powdered ginger

Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.  Pour into buttered pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  Serve warm as a side dish or chilled as a pudding. 


(This is part of the Real Food Digest Passover roundup– be sure to check there for more great Pesach ideas!) 


Third Annual Torah Home Education Conference

Busy doesn’t come anywhere close to describing my schedule lately!  I don’t like to say all that I’m doing because as long as I don’t think of everything I’m doing at once, I can tell myself it’s manageable.  Call it a survival strategy, but whatever it is, it keeps me from being totally overwhelmed  😛

One of the things I’ve been working on has been organizing the Torah Home Education Conference this year.  Honestly, I had decided it would be asking too much of myself to take this on at this point with the many other big things on my plate, but at the same time, this might possibly be the last chance that I’ll have to do this chesed (act of kindness) for the Orthodox community.  I really feel it’s important that Jewish families have a place to connect, get information, and most important of all, get inspiration and encouragement regarding home education – because all of that is sparse for most Orthodox home educators.

So here are the details!  The Third Annual Torah Home Education Conference will be held in Baltimore, MD on May 29, 2011, from 8:15 am – 5 pm.  The conference will once again be held in the Park Heights JCC, in the conference rooms on the second floor –  5700 Park Heights Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215. We have a fantastic schedule planned to encourage, inspire, and educate you – whether you’re at the beginning of your search for information about homeschooling or a veteran homeschooler, you’ll find something to interest you!

For details about pricing and registration, go to  For questions about child care, please contact Alisa  at 410-963-2977 or after Pesach.

Below is a list of the speakers and topics:

– Homeschooling The Young Family – Mrs. Rebecca Masinter

– ADHD: Who Says? and So What? A Discussion about ADHD as a diagnosis, and how it may impact our families. – Dr. Hadassah Aaronson

– Choosing to Homeschool: A second generation perspective – Mr. Isaiah Cox

– Nuts and Bolts of Homeschooling: Getting Started – Mrs. Ahuvah Feldman

– Facilitated discussion – topic to be announced

– The Monster in the Mind- Acknowledging and Dealing with Burnout – Mrs. Avivah Werner

– Homeschooled Teen Girls Share – panel discussion

– Homeschooling Your Teenager – Capturing the Opportunities and Handling the Technicalities – Mrs. Viva Hammer

–  The Virtual Jewish Homeschooling Community: Accessing the internet for learning, friendship, and support – Rabbi Yosef Resnick

– “Children in a Homeschool Environment: Socially Deprived OR Selectively Engaged?” – Dr. Hadassah Aaronson

I hope I see lots of you at the conference!


It all works out in the end!

Today I took ds17 and dd16 to the interview that are part of their aliyah process.  (These two children have a different legal status than the others; none of the rest of us have to do this.)  Fortunately, the office we had to go to was only an hour away.  Unfortunately, when I got there I learned that an important part of our interviews was bringing original copies of the paperwork we had already faxed.  (They had sent me an email, but I accidentally deleted it before reading it and didn’t see that I was supposed to bring the originals.)

But in the end it didn’t matter so much, since the paperwork they most needed was proof that these two children haven’t lived in Israel between the ages of 13 and 17.  Since their passports expired before 2007 and we just got new passports a month ago, a gap exists that the passports wouldn’t have assisted in clarifying even if I had brought them with me.

I asked what else we could use to document their U.S. residency, and was told ‘school records’.  That doesn’t help me much, though!  I sent an email to the head of our umbrella program asking for her help in quickly getting a letter to me that states that we’ve been homeschooling in this state for years.  This is important for them both, but particularly important for dd16.   

Since dd16 attended the Naaleh /Elite Academy program sponsored by the Jewish Agency this year, we’re now being told she will lose all the aliyah benefits she would otherwise be entitled to as a ‘returning minor’.  When I first was told this, I was really upset.  It contradicted everything I had been led to believe, as well as common sense.  Apparently there was a little known technicality in the fine print of the law that someone born in Israel who attends this program before the age of 16 will have the time they are studying there applied to their residency in Israel, and this is what would cause someone to lose all potential benefits to them if they decided to return to Israel at a later age. 

In addition to contradicting their own written assertions on every website that discuss the time spent in the Naaleh program not affecting the residency status of a student, it also contradicts the target population – this program is geared to girls ages 14 and 9 months and up, and dd was one of the older girls in her grade – she began 11 weeks before she turned 16.  I told the Jewish Agency representative that it made no sense to market a program like this with the hope that teens will be inspired to make Israel their home at a later date and then to yank the rug out from under someone and tell them they lost all the benefits they could have enjoyed as a result of attending this program! 

I told the representative how upsetting this was, especially since I’m very unhappy with the program and if it weren’t for the fact that going to visit dd was the first step in the path to making the decision to move our family to Israel, I would strongly regret sending her since it wasn’t at all what we hoped it would be.  Had anyone said anything earlier on about this point, I could have made the choice to keep her home, or to send her after her birthday.   But no one knew about this technical detail, apparently. 

Fortunately, the Jewish Agency is going to file an appeal for dd16 to the higher ministry of something in Israel to try to get an exemption from this, since the shlicha agreed that the situation made no sense and was contrary to the goal of the Jewish Agency.  So the piece of paper documenting her schooling is proof of US residency and is critical to the appeal process. 

I’m sure that this frustration will end up being a very good thing, and I’m optimistic that dd will be granted an exemption.  In a different arena but on a related vein, three days ago we were told that the apartment (condo) that we own in Israel requires $20,000 of plumbing work – immediately.  That’s not a soothing thing to hear!  😛  When dh told me about it, he said it was obvious this was a good thing and we just had to wait and see how.  Two days later we were very grateful to learn that we have insurance that will cover it (since it was caused by poor construction on the part of the builder) and the issue that we’ve continually been paying for here and there will be remedied at the root.  

 Not only will our plumbing be repaired, but the neighbor above our apartment has also been having plumbing issues that affected our apartment, and we can share with them the information about the insurance coverage.  If they go ahead with their repairs, it will benefit us as well as them!  Isn’t that wonderful?! 

If the repair costs we had been quoted had been anywhere near reasonable, we would have just paid for it (once again!); it was because the costs were so high that dh made more calls and learned about the insurance.  So while sometimes things look negative, it helps me to remind myself that Hashem (G-d) does everything with my best interests in mind.  Intellectually we all know that everything is for the best – but emotionally stepping into a place of embracing that is a conscious and constant effort for me.   Sometimes it is obvious sooner and sometimes later, but just never know how something that looks negative will play out to be in your best interest.  

 There are a number of things in my life right now that aren’t immediately revealing the inherent positive, but I feel like I have to keep taking steps in the right direction and trusting that the path will open as I go along. 


Buying carrots in bulk

Today I took ds3 for a dentist appointment, and afterwards we had some “together time” shopping for Pesach vegetables.   Most of our food shopping is done, though I’ll need to buy more vegetables right before Pesach – we use a LOT of produce on Pesach!

I’ve periodically mentioned buying bulk amounts of food and enjoying the discount that usually comes along with that.  Most people think that I have these secret sources of shopping and that there’s no way that most of them could enjoy discounts like what I get.  It’s true that I’ve found good sources for some things, but it’s also true that I find discounts at the same stores that everyone else shops at that they wouldn’t think of as a likely source.  I’ll give you an example of what happened today.

When I stopped at the vegetable store, I asked about buying a 50 lb bag of carrots. They didn’t have any left and told me to stop back in on Thursday.  I asked how much it would be, and he estimated around $33- 35, since the price fluctuates and at this point, it’s always more each week than the week before.  Three years ago I was buying a 50 lb bag of carrots for $12 and thought $14 was a lot!  That’s inflation for you. 

Right after that we stopped in at the large local kosher supermarket that just about every Jewish family in this area shops at.  When I got there, I asked someone working in the produce section if they had 50 lb bags of carrots for sale, and if so, how much would it be.  She didn’t know, and when she didn’t emerge after asking the question, I asked someone else working there the same thing.  In he went to inquire, and after me waiting about 10 minutes for a response, he came out and said the person in charge who could answer that wasn’t there.  Off I went to complete my shopping, but just a couple of minutes later the worker rushed after me and said they could sell me a 50 lb bag and it would be $35.  That worked for me – I’d get what  I needed right then without having to make a trip another day- so I asked him to load it into my shopping cart. 

 Note: in this store, loose carrots are selling for $1.19 lb.  I paid .70 per pound.  As you see, I’m shopping at the same store as everyone else, at a time when many people are buying massive quantities of groceries – but from the response when I asked about buying a bulk bag of carrots, I’m guessing that it’s not a question that comes up often.  Lesson?  If you don’t see what you want, ask!!!

Almost all of my great sources have been created by me asking the person in charge if I could buy an item they offered in bulk and get a discounted price.  Does this always work?  No. (I once asked at this store about buying raw cheese in bulk and they said they wouldn’t discount it.)   But it’s worked enough times that it’s worth it to spend a few minutes to ask about something that interests you. 

Remember, the store still makes a profit selling to you in bulk – you save them the work of unpacking the groceries, stocking the shelves, etc – they hardly have to do anything to your bulk item except mark it up from the price they bought it at, and sell it to you.  So don’t feel embarrassed to ask – it benefits them just as much as it benefits you to sell to you in this way!


Pesach vacation has started!

I had such a nice Shabbos!  And here’s why – because I had all my children around the table for the first time in 7.5 months!!!

We made the decision to have dd16 come home less than two weeks before she got here, which was on Monday night.  It wasn’t something we were planning to do until literally a night before we made the ticket.  There are a number of reasons for doing it, and one nice side benefit was the fun in surprising all of the kids!  (Well, we accidentally leaked the news to dd14, but she still didn’t know when dd16 was arriving so she had her share of being surprised, too!) 

Dh changed his work schedule so he could come with me to pick her up, so I took the littles with me to pick him up from work; from there we went to the DC airport.  (She found the best priced ticket on Air France, and that’s the airport they fly out of.)  I didn’t tell the littles where we were going until after we picked up dh.  We ended up having to wait about an hour for her, since her flight was delayed.  When the passengers started exiting, they would come around a corner, and the first thing you could see was their luggage cart. Every time I saw a cart come out, my heart would jump and then I would see it wasn’t her.  I told dh I never knew it could be so tension-filled waiting for someone to come out!  And then finally we saw her – it was sooooo wonderful!

For dh and the kids it’s especially nice, since they haven’t seen her for so long.  And for me and dd14 (who saw her two months ago), it’s still really nice!  We’re enjoying having her home – the first day back she made a nutritious and filling lunch, got ds3 and ds5 involved in making dinner, made dinner, and then gave the littles baths.  Aaahhh….I could get used to this!  Seriously, that day it was clear to me why it was such a big shift around here when she and ds17 – because they both were actively involved in the running of things, and without them, a lot more fell on me.

When we got home from the airport, only ds12 was still awake.  We called him out to help bring in the littles (that was our cover), and dd16 popped out at him.  He was really shocked and it was so fun to see his reaction!  From there she went inside and woke up dd10 up, and then woke up dd14.  It was fun for us all!  She tried to wake up ds8, but he was in such a deep sleep that he only partially woke up to tell her to leave him along – he didn’t realize it was her or even remember anything the next morning – at which point he was very surprised and happy to see her!

Ds17 came home late Friday afternoon.  We had made a ticket for him first thing Friday morning, but the night before someone told him he could get a ride with him.  Unfortunately, when the driver woke up the next morning, he was sick and ds17 had already missed the train he needed to take to use the bus ticket we bought.  He called in time for me to get him another ticket that arrived here at 5:50 pm.  Arriving that close to Shabbos isn’t how we generally like to arrange things.  Due to the heavy rain, rush hour traffic, and road work, I didn’t get there to pick him up until 6:15.  There was no sign of his bus, and by 6:30, I was getting increasingly apprehensive about what to do – I was afraid if I waited any longer that I wouldn’t make it home in time for Shabbos, and didn’t want to leave ds stranded in the middle of nowhere late Friday afternoon. 

I called dh to ask him the exact time of candlelighting, and he said ds17 had called to say he had gotten a ride from the bus stop to our house a short time before.  I was honestly a little irritated that I was sitting there for 15 minutes waiting for him when he was already gone, but mostly I was relieved that he wasn’t stuck on a bus on a highway somewhere.  We were blessed that the highway on the way home was clear, and I got home by 7:05.  Ds17 had walked in just 5 minutes before me, and we subsequently figured out that the red car I had noticed pulling away as I pulled up to the bus stop was the car he got a ride in! 

Dd16 had come with me to surprise ds17, so we had to shift our plans a little and she surprised him when he came down to say hello to us all.  It was definitely a rush to get ready for Shabbos, but a nice rush, and having everyone home again was really, really nice.  Fortunately they’ll both be here for a few weeks, so we have time to enjoy everyone for a while.

And as one of the middle kids commented today, they came just in time to help get ready for Pesach!


Pesach cleaning commences

Today we did a lot of Pesach cleaning – it was ambitious, but we mostly met our goals!  

My goal for today was to clean three of the four floors of our house for Pesach (all the bedrooms, three bathrooms, linen closet, attic, and basement).  My kids and husband made skeptical faces and raised their eyebrows when I told them my plans, but I felt that we did so much preliminary work (giving away/selling things) in the last couple of weeks that it was doable.  The reason I needed to do so much today is that my schedule is jam packed – in addition to the regular busyness of Pesach, I need to get our house ready for sale, organize the Torah Home Education Conference, and take care of myriad details for our move to Israel. 

Right now I’m getting dental appointments for everyone taken care of – I’m doing as much as I can now and I already feel glad that I’m doing it like this rather than leaving lots to do closer to our departure date (tentatively mid August) – because there will be plenty to do in the last few weeks, so why complicate it with things that can be done in advance? 

Last week I took ds12 for a root canal (he injured a tooth and killed the nerve), and then took ds8 for a checkup (that was a total of three appointments).  This coming last week I have three days with appointments scheduled (two dental, one orthodontist), and ds17 is coming home Friday afternoon and since everyone wants to go meet him at the bus stop, I’d like to finish all my Shabbos preparations on Thursday.    And there are other things planned for most days, as well (eg I told the littles we’d have a special outing to the library tomorrow on our way to pick dh up from work).  Which leaves me only Weds. that doesn’t already have something planned, and I might use that for doing my monthly/Pesach shopping since the only other possible day is the Thursday right before Pesach, which I think might be too intense. 

Since we want to put our house up for sale after Pesach, the week after ds gets home will be spent taking care of things around the house.  Today dh replaced a bathroom door that had a hole in it (which got progressively bigger as little hands kept poking and prodding) – it was an eyesore, and it looks so nice now!  The last three times ds17 called, I warned him that I’m going to put him to work as my personal handyman and he better be pyschologically ready when he gets here!  😛   (He told me with a smile that he’s ready!) 

In addition to dh replacing the door, the rest of us also got a lot done today!  It ended up being a productive and relaxed day for everyone – ds12 had several hours to go to his first baseball practice of the season, followed by the beginning of the season parade, and the other kids had fun playing board games with dh in the afternoon.  Most of the rooms look good (mine isn’t finished, because I needed to be around where the kids were working to supervise what was happening), and the basement is mostly done.  Another three hours by just me or one hour with all of us will finish it up. 

Now that we’ve done a thorough cleaning, it’s noticeable that we got rid of so many things (mostly clothes, some odds and ends, and the dressers in each bedroom), and it’s feeling more open and spacious.  It’s very pleasant, and all of the kids are appreciating it!  Dd14 is encouraging me to get rid of even  more things – she loves decluttering, but tonight when she suggested we give away or sell most of our books right now (because the littles twice a day dump out dozens of books at a time when they’re looking for something to read), I told her I already gave away over a large amount two weeks ago, and we need to keep something in our house for us to use for the next 4.5 months!  I think she’s ready to just pack whatever we’re going to take with us in a box and put it out of sight until we’re ready to go, and I understand that – I have a similar desire myself!

So Pesach cleaning is going well, and for the most part, I’m going to leave most of the other cleaning until the week after next, so that I can do the main floor (living room/dining room/kitchen) within a couple of days and then turn the kitchen over for Pesach.

I hope you’re all enjoying this lovely season of clearing away the old and making room for the new!