Do You Have Magisation?

Mama? I have a question for you,” Liam had been in the bathroom “brushing his teeth.” (A.k.a. playing with the faucet until I go in and help him brush.) Before I could answer him, he continued, “Mama? Do you have magisation?”

“Why yes, Liam, I DO have imagination!”

“Oh good, Mommy! I need ice.”

Disappointed I wasn’t going to hear more about imagination, I got up from the kitchen table and followed him to the freezer, where he was pulling open the door and waiting expectantly for me. Thinking he had bumped a part of his body I asked him what he needed ice for. His body was bouncing up and down and he just kept responding that he needed ice! I popped an ice cube out of the tray and handed it to him. He raced back to the bathroom with it in his bare hands, shouting for me to look. I followed him as he jumped up onto his little step stool, pressed the faucet handle into a full stream of water, and pitched the ice cube into the sink.

“Look!! It floats!!”

A science experiment! He was conducting a science experiment! I am in so much love with my three year old soaking in the world and enjoying learning.

liam ice imagination

I’m sure this could only have come from his school at the JCA. How awesome. Liam’s last day of school is Friday and last week his teachers held a short celebration of their learning. Every student took home a portfolio the teachers had put together, exemplifying their units of study and their growth as small human beings. Incredible. Liam’s favorite “book” to look at is his portfolio these days. He wants me to read the statement about how the project fit into a theme or unit and then he tells me about what’s going on in the pictures.
My youngest brother, Todd, is visiting from the west coast and was spending some quality time with Liam this evening.
“Mommy, can you help me find the book that I got when you came into my school on my birthday and there was a book that I took home?”
“Do you mean your portfolio book that we took home last week at school?” (NOT his birthday, but clearly it was such a special celebration it can be categorized with birthdays.)
“Yes! I want to read it with Uncle Todd!”

Liam and Todd portfolio collage

Hearing Liam talk about his learning and how proud he is of the things that he compiled in his book warms my heart. THANK YOU JANAI, MARIA, and BOBBI-LYN!


Do A Mitzvah

We all know that it takes a village to raise a child and most of us have carefully chosen what kind of village influences our children. Who will help them to be the best person they can be?

Since Liam has begun attending the preschool associated with the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine he has been offered the chance to learn about citizenship and community support by “doing a mitzvah.” A mitzvah (as I’ve learned along with other Hebrew terms) means to do a good deed. The students sing a song about “doing a mitzvah” and their own good deeds are recognized aloud by the teachers and through mitzvah awards. Liam is over-the-moon-proud when he earns a mitzvah award. There is reinforcement about behaving in a way that earns one a mitzvah award. How much does that hug your heart?

Another way that Liam has learned about doing a mitzvah is by contributing items to the food pantry that is run out of the same building as the preschool. They can bring in a donation and earn a mitzvah sticker. The food pantry does not limit its resources to Jewish families, it is a place where anyone who has run into some bad luck may apply to receive this assistance. If their application is screened and accepted then the person requesting help can specify their needs and make an appointment to come pick up their items. Refugees from other countries, relocating in our area, are often recipients of these resources. People who had lives and occupations in a place that is no longer safe for them and they are trying to start from the bottom in a place that is honoring to help them do so.  Many families who are living paycheck to paycheck can apply for assistance through the JCA’s food pantry. One particularly high oil bill can sometimes set a family’s budget over the line in a downward spiral that seems overwhelming. I, unfortunately, personally know families that have gone through periods of job loss, in the economy as it is, and have used community-based resources such as the food pantry at the JCA. How phenomenal that these people–who could be any one of us at any time–can turn to a place in their community for help. Liam is having valuable life lessons modeled for him. Lessons that can not be learned through only being told to be good and helpful. He is learning what it means to be a charitable, gracious, and humble citizen of the world in a school that already teaches him so much in the classroom.

{Granted, the children do not actually hand out the donated items; but in contributing items to the food pantry and understanding the mission of the food pantry they learn that their community helps support us all and that is model enough for now.}

In what ways are mitzvahs modeled in your family?


Sharing is Caring at the JCA

Other posts about Liam at the JCA:

Keeping Things Kosher

It just warms my heart to return to my blog account after a serious hiatus because of life stressors weighing me down to find that I still have people coming to visit my blog.


Tonight was Parent Night at Liam’s new school. This was a 2 hour event where we noshed on potluck with our knees up to our chins in miniature chairs while listening to the school’s overall early childhood education intent and then was able to meet in the toddler room to hear about their personal curriculum. My eyes teared up with gratitude at being able to find such a nurturing, learning-rich, community driven place. Listening to his new teachers talk about the toddlers learning from guided play and how in-tune they are with every child’s needs made me leave with a more positive, uplifted feeling than I have in a while.

It was probably also a good thing I made it to Parent Night at the Jewish Community Alliance (where Liam is attending the Early Childhood Education program) because I learned the ham and cheese sandwiches we’ve packed him every day since he’s been there are basically the worst thing you can bring into a Jewish establishment. We’re all leaving the JCA more educated today, as I now know a little more about what kosher means. (Meat and dairy can not touch each other. And PIG meat…even worse.)

We are not Jewish, but I love that Liam is learning some tradition amongst the rest of his education at the JCA. On Fridays they celebrate a semblance of shabbat before the children leave. I also learned tonight that shabbat is a sort of way of welcoming the Sabbath day of rest. They eat challah bread, sing songs and the children receive Mitzvah Awards for good deeds they’ve been seen doing. Liam got one for sharing the pinwheel he brought from home and his teacher said he didn’t let go of that paper certificate all day. It traveled out to recess, he gripped it through snack, I think he even clutched it through nap. It was a little wrinkled by the time it came to hang in all of its glory on the kitchen wall.

It makes me giggle that I heard someone use the verb schlepping in real-life context tonight and that I heard Liam hollering to Nana, “Shabbat, shabbat, shalom!!!!” Not giggle in a disrespectful way, just in a new-vocabulary-is-fun kind of way. I think, if anything, it amplifies the depth and width of the education he’s receiving.