Welcome everyone! “Those who can’t find time to blog, digest others'” ?? Does that work?
In an effort to break my long hiatus, I have taken a turn at sharing with you some of the best out there in the world of Jewish Blogging, by hosting this week’s Havel Havelim, the long running, weekly international Jewish blog carnival that has been appearing for well over a decade. It was begun by Soccer Dad who no longer blogs. He coordinated it for quite a while, but now we use our facebook page to coordinate and publicize it.
Next week’s Havel Havelim will be hosted by Chaviva Gordon-Bennett, at kvetchingeditor.com, a fellow member of Neve Daniel’s “Har HaBloggerim”, even if it is only in an honorary way, for now…please read and be inspired to join us. You can send in your links to Chaviva with a one-line description of your post and HH as the “subject.” Our weekly deadline is before Shabbat.
This certainly has been a week of ups and downs. There was yet another terrible attack on Jews, this time in Copenhagen. Here in Israel we suffered some terrible losses this week; we lost Michael Golumb, z’l, a known figure and special neshama from Moshav Mevo Modiin, a real national treasure in MK Uri Ohrbach, z’l, and the tragic death of little Adele Chaya Bat Adva Biton, z’l .
Yet we also “nichnas Adar”, and I hope that you were able to do so “marbim b’simcha” as much as I was. And lastly, here on our “Har” (yes, of “bloggerim) we enjoyed some lovely snow and snowdays, with sledding and snowmen and more… I am so glad they were home, and I am so glad they are going back to school in the morning!
To see some wonderful pictures of our recent snow, check out the Real Jerusalem Streets’ 16 Photos Snow in Jerusalem.
The Muqata gives us his own personal reflection on MK Uri Orbach, z”l, and our national loss here.
One of the things that MK Orbach was known best for was his ability to love- and include – all Jews. He lived his life trying to avoid anyone feeling like this post in Shiloh Musings, “Like a Foreign Alien”.
Ester shares her heartbreaking account of Adele Chaya Bat Adva Biton at It’s All From Hashem – in Blessed Be the Perfect Judge.
First One Through has a post about the recent “Je Suis“ rally in France, here.
And Miriam’s Words are her “Two Cents” about the many attacks on Jews around the world recently – here.
Batya describes the new party in Israel’s upcoming elections that may just surprise everyone, here.
… and her update on the Shaar Binyamin shopping area here,
…her wonderful Pesach Haggadah book review here (I’m convinced and want to go get my copy, Batya.)
Tzivia talks at Adventures in MamaLand about Baalei Teshuva, non-religious parents and feelings of shame and distance with gripping honesty, here.
She also writes about adjusting to Sundays in Israel as an olah here. Every immigrant I have ever spoken to has said that Israeli Sundays is one of the hardest things to adjust to, and olim commiserate over this decades after aliyah.
.. and Rabbi Reuven Spolter offers us an audio shiur on Parshat Terumah over at Chopping Wood.
, a former neighbor, friend and all-around wonderful person gives us the Jewish Book Carnival here.
Think of it as a digest in a digest, so to speak.
Ruti Mizrachi, a current neighbor, friend, and all-around wonderful person tells of her “Only In Israel Moment” - this week. (Because I know she finds a way to engage and touch everyone she sees, I have no doubt she experiences such moments often.)
… and with blessing us all with a week of more ups and fewer downs, I am going to finish off with Chaviva’s fun GIVEAWAY over at Kvetchingeditor! Maybe it will help you get into the Adar spirit. Maybe it will inspire you to email her and join next week’s round up. I hope both.
And PLEASE leave your comments here and at each blog and let us know that you stopped by. Chodesh Tov to you all!!!
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When my friends asked me to test drive a new developing computer product designed for young children, I jumped at the chance. They know that I am a blogger, and they know I am VERY opinionated, especially about my kids. They also know I am brutally honest, so they must have a lot of confidence in the product!
What I am not sure that they know is that both my husband and I have worked in IT, we own four working laptops that are always in the house, and I have children who are not only relatively computer savvy, but specifically well-versed when it comes to educational programs.
They did give me a Webee (pronounced Web-ee) to try for free, but I made no promises to post a word other than my true feelings after a thorough test-drive by the family. And we love it. The makers are currently running a kickstarter campaign to get this product on the market, and I strongly endorse the effort. I don’t need to buy one, I have one. But I am putting my money into the campaign nonetheless, because this product is a good one, and it will sell.
The Webee is not a web site (or rather not just a website) but rather a custom keyboard that plugs into a USB port and sits on top of the keyboard of the computer. It is used in conjunction with the Webee website, which requires a login by the parent. The user (designed for young children) can then access educational games around the site, changing as they choose.
How is this different than just using a kid-friendly educational web site?
First of all, the buttons are much easier than a mouse for a very young child. My four and a half year old is very comfortable with a mouse, but not only are the buttons easier, he is “safer” using them, i.e., less accidental clicks, closing browsers and generally messing up Ima’s work.
Second, it is almost impossible for the user to accidentally switch out of the site and/or end up somewhere on the net where they shouldn’t be. This is a big deal. I am okay with my son using the computer, but it is a general problem that I either have to stay on top of him supervising, or I cannot and feel that I should. This product makes it much easier for me to let him work independently in a truly safe way.
Third, most of the web sites that I actually do let my little one use have a number of options that are simple “play video”. I hate this. I like limited amounts of brain-engaging computer activity, but if it is just going to be a mini television set, then it defeats the purpose. The Webee solves this problem too.
“Isn’t this just ‘digital babysitting’?” You ask:
Someone recently reacted to me that way when I described the device. Before going any further, I know virtually no one who isn’t guilty of digital babysitting at some point, for some amount of time.
Having said that, we don’t own a television, and I am not a big fan of passive entertainment. On the other hand, my children gain a great deal from relaxed, indoor time (when they happen to not be bothering me!) in front of the computer doing mind-engaging educational work. My older kids all use Khan Academy daily, for example.
Their younger brother wants to follow suit. When he is using the Webee he is learning reading comprehension, letter and color recognition, order, size, matching, etc. All positive school-preparedness skills.
And… this brings me to my favorite part….
THE WEBEE CAN BE SET UP FOR USE IN ENGLISH, RUSSIAN, or HEBREW.
If you allow your two year old to use a computer, limiting daily screen time, in Hebrew for a few minutes every day, he/she WILL learn Hebrew! I have seen this first hand. If your four year old is learning some basic Hebrew at preschool and you want to reinforce it, they can use this toy in Hebrew and learn. I love it as a language tool in addition to a basic learning one. I know this won’t be the selling point for everyone, but it has added a significant layer to the value for us as a family.
What is the review from the four year old? He is at the older end of the spectrum for the toy, but he loves it. It is definitely more challenging for him in Hebrew, but he does love using it in English as well. Do you know what the most precious commodity is to a seventh child? Anything that is actually solely theirs. A computer related device designed for him? He feels like a really big man.
I expected my older kids to scoff and make fun of the “baby toy”, and that their put-downs might turn him off to it. Didn’t happen. They love it too, and they look for excuses to “help” him. I know that one of the reasons it holds their interest too is that there are a very large number of games/choices.
The programming itself is high quality, although I do prefer some games over others. I am thrilled to learn that once the product takes off they have created a Software Development Kit, making it possible for others to expand the choices and create even more high quality options within the system.
I encourage you to visit the kickstarter campaign HERE, and to invest if you are able. Stay tuned here for updates and news about Webee and its development, and when you can finally get one! .
I had asked the company for one to giveaway to you, my readers, but you will have to wait for the actual product and not an advance prototype. Once Webee raises the funds they need and can get moving on the assembly line, I promise to bug them for a giveaway contest until they have to say yes. : )
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I have to blog such a big thank you to Culture Mom & Mama Doni for their giveaway of tickets to a Chanukah performance this past Sunday. It was a blast to win, and a much bigger blast to attend.
Alia was right. Mama Doni was warm and engaging and did a great job on Sunday. I knew that Mama Doni’s performance wasn’t geared towards a frum audience. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive, about religious / propriety issues, and about feeling like I would stand out in this crowd. I was hopeful it would be okay with my little ones. When Mama Doni came right over and welcomed us before the show like old friends, and all of my apprehensions went out the window. And that was long before my three year old spun around like a dreidel, or jumped with glee to a song about gelt.
Even though I did completely stand out in this crowd. I seem to have had quite a run lately of meeting performers and of standing out in the crowd. But I digress.
Mama Doni choosing volunteers to boogie with her on stage.
Mama Doni knows her job, and she does it well. Preschoolers are a tough group to play for. For the record, moms, so are the parents of preschoolers! As a Music Together teacher and occasional Library Story & Song Hour performer, I can tell you that parents often think their kids will stay engaged without their parents, who would prefer to catch a break and let someone else do the entertaining rather than having to be goofy and participate. So they talk and schmooze on the sides. That can be really challenging for those on stage trying to keep the focus of the crowd. Far more challenging than most parents realize. The next time you go to a kid’s concert and you see a grown woman acting all silly and involved down in the front it very well could be me. And now you will know why. (Ask anyone who attended Shira Kline’s performance with me last year, or Yosi’s last week; they will agree with me here.)
I give Mama Doni so much credit for not only handling this tough scenario so well but managing to engage the parents despite themselves.
Towards the end of the concert Mama Doni asked if anyone knew Maoz Tzur, and my aspiring-singer-young daughter raised her brave little hand. She went up on stage to sing it with Mama Doni, and after she got going Mama Doni handed her the mic and let her just do her thing…It takes a tremendous Diva to command the stage and keep two year olds and chatty dads interested and involved – and then in another moment be able to hand over the spotlight like that. Not only did she make my daughter’s day (week, year…), but she signed a poster for her with a personal message at the end, which was such a huge affirmation for such a young woman with such a love of singing.
I would have blogged that it was a great concert and a great day even if she hadn’t picked my daughter and given her a moment of a lifetime. I promise. The band was great, the performance was great, and all of the kids and families there left with “Chanukah Fever”.
As expected, Mama Doni and I didn’t have much time to talk about my big plans and ideas, but now that we have met (and hugged), I am certain we will. Although I think I will be cemented in her memory forever as the “mother of” the young lady singing Maoz Tzur….
Mama Doni cheering on my daughter.
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UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!
Congratulations to Rachel Wilgoren on winning our Summer House Natural Soaps Gift Pack! I will contact you directly to get you your prize, and to facilitate you selecting the scents of your choice. Thank you to all those that entered… I hope you are savoring your summers and your magical places while we still can.
This is what she won.
Please say a little prayer for my parents and everyone else in dangerous areas like Cape Cod during the upcoming Hurricane. Thank you.
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