Friday, November 30, 2007

Rhyming and reading

It is important for kids to learn to rhyme at an early age. It helps with everything related to reading and spelling with confidence. The traditional nursery rhymes, which are sometimes quite absurd, are really good for kids. If you don't like them, make up your own or find better ones. The point is, kids learn how to hear the text flow and hear the repetitive sounds in words even when the initial sound changes. Even a child with a learning disablily or speech impediment will soar if they are given a solid foundation to start with. Some of my kids with the most severe auditory processing difficulties excel when it comes to reading text because they know what a book should sound like. Many times they still have a hard time rhyming, but they can fill in the gaps or the words they can't sound out (the, what, who) because they know what kind of word should go there.

Here are 2 inspiring stories that illustrate why an actual book and story are important to reading developement:

1. A Braille story: A dedicated mother was trying to gain the tools to help her son. Her son was blind so she was trying to learn to read Braille. Of course, the initial books she got while her son was young were for her but she let him "read" them. One day when the family sat down to read a story her son was reaching out to find the book and feel the words! He was under 2. He understood where the story was coming from and wanted to read/feel along.

2. An ESL story: A principal and staff at a local school was determined to get their largely ESL, low-income population of elementary students to read. They held a parent meeting and asked all of the parents to read to or with their children every night. I believe the meeting was translated and the principal spoke. Weeks later one particular student was excelling and the teacher wanted to know how because there was nothing specifically that she had changed. They called the mother in for a conference. The mother thought she had done something wrong. Through a Spanish-English interpreter they discovered that the mother could not read. However, every night since the parent meeting she would sit down with her son and make up a story to a book (in Spanish). Now here son was an excellent reader (in English).

Yes, I realize that actual reading is not always taking place here but it is the "act" of reading that is important. It is the communication to your child that is important: here is a page with words on it, I will say them, and you will get something from it. Even the best TV show (and we love TV here) doesn't replace physically turning the pages of a book. Internet and games are great for supplementing. Books on tape are fabulous IF they are not replacing you. Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk on choosing between good, better and best. Different situations call for different things. A book on tape might be the best option for a long car ride, but good conversation might be the best idea too. Listening to a book on tape is better than watching TV, but reading to your child would be best.

But now back to rhyming...can't we all figure out words by associating them to words we already know? If I wrote the word "medge" you would know what that sounds like because you would think of the word "hedge". Have you ever read a rhyming book and had to go back because you mispronounced a word and found out what it was supposed to rhyme with? There's a line in a Madeline book that makes me crazy because nobody pronounces the word like the word they are trying to rhyme it with. It LOOKS like it should rhyme but it doesn't the way Americans pronounce it. It is great practice to let kids try to fill in the blank at the end of rhyming text. I would even accept made up words if they rhyme!

So my point is...just read! There is no right or wrong way to do. You have to just do it. You have to make your kids do it. I love to read a good book but sometimes I don't let my kids know that. Bill likes to read the sports section of the paper, and ESPN magazine. I should let him do that in front of the kids so they know he reads. Kyra didn't really like to read until I made her do it. The summer before third grade she had to read for an hour while I put Tasha down for a nap each day. Now, she can be reading 3 books at one time. She has read a couple of stories twice because she really liked them. Tasha likes to hear the same story over and over and over and over and over....again until she has it memorized. I'm pretty sure she can "read" about the first 10 pages of The Cat in the Hat to you. In fact, today she wanted to know why it was so dark out. I told her it might rain and that the sun was hiding behind the clouds. She said, "the sun is not sunny?" She is always talking about "down the wall in the hall". See, that's one kid that won't have problems with the "all" words. Thanks Seuss!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Boggle online

I'm addicted. I can't blog. I can't sleep. I can't watch TV. AND I can't see anymore. My eyes are so bugged out from staring at the screen that they really hurt. I just turned off the light to see it that helps. I have many people to blame for this addiction:

Brittany for saying she was addicted.
Jaylee for organizing a fabulous dinner.
April and her family for playing Scrabble.
Bill for not playing Scrabble with me.
Bill again for playing Boggle online and making it fun.
Bill again for going to bed.
My eyes have adjusted to the dark so maybe I'll go try again...

Oh, and I DID get all my Thanksgiving list accomplished! Including finding the china and using it. Yay for us. Fancy plates!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving To Do List:

Write down menu
Check recipes
Make shopping list
Find china or buy paper products
Find out turkey cooking time
Put turkey in the oven
Go shopping
Finish cleaning
Set table
Eat 5:00pm

Hmm, doesn't look too bad. Unless of course it's Thanksgiving day. YIKES! My mother would be proud.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Can a woman make more than her husband?

A discussion came up in Bill's Finance class this evening. One of the guys on his learning team mentioned that he would have a problem if his wife made more money than he did. At that point, EVERYONE in the class, including the teacher said he was an idiot. GO class! Did this guy grow up in the dark ages? Do we have to guess that his wife stays home? I'm sure she is barefoot and pregnant too.

I don't know, do men really need to make more money to fulfill their role in society? Traditionally they are the bread winners. In the Church, it is the man's duty to provide for the family. But what about all those valuable women out there that have something to contribute to the working world? Do we really have to go back to the ERA days? There was good and bad that came out of the ERA but there is no doubt that there should be equal pay for equal work.

Some dads are happy staying home and some moms are happy working. But it doesn't have to be black and white. If it works out for your family can't we have it all, or am I being selfish? I know that sacrifices are made when both parents work, or when one parent stays home. Finances differ and time with each other differs. I don't think there is a right or wrong way. I don't think that what is right for me is right for you. I don't even think that what is right for our family this year will be right for us next year. You do what you need to do. Personally, if I hadn't started tutoring when Kyra was 1 I would have gone crazy. I needed to use my skills on someone other than her.

But back to the wife making more money. Bill's teacher went as far as to tell the guy that it was an ego thing. (which he, of course, denied) I think he's right and I hope the guy survives in the real world beyond school. I am thankful every day that Bill is so dedicated to our family that he goes to his job every day. Sadly, I know there are men that don't, they can't support their families, and they choose to let other people take care of their loved ones. I could probably do pretty well if I worked full time. I can charge more per hour than Bill but I just don't have the energy to dig up the clients and work that much. Last summer Bill called me his "Sugar Mama" after we added up all the hours and billed it out. I guess he doesn't have an ego problem, he's man enough to take it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My mom is hard of hearing

Really. She is and she knows it. She wears hearing aids. She nods and smiles at you when she can't understand what you are saying and she has asked you to repeat yourself too many times. When I hug her, sometimes her "ears" squeak and it brings back memories of my grandfather who had the same problem. Aaah, the memories. When I was little my grandfather would come to visit us and my friends would sometimes make him crazy. I knew when that was because he would reach up to his ear and turn us off so he couldn't hear the squealing any more. That was funny. My mom can't turn me off yet so I just talk louder to her, but I don't whisper to her in church anymore because she just smiles and nods! This awareness has come slowly for me, over the years but my kids have always known it. Tasha seems to be acutely aware because this is the phone conversation I overheard her having with "Momo". OK, by conversation I mean Tasha was talking into her calculator which she pretends is her cell phone. She does this mostly in the van, just like her mom! So here is the one-sided conversation with breaks where she paused for Momo's response...

T: Hi Momo.
T: We are going to lunch with dad.
T: Yes, I have preschool after lunch.
T: Did you know I have moon earrings on?
T: No, moon earrings.
T: No Momo, moons.
T: You know, moon, like in the sky.
T: Yes, that's it.

I have no idea what she said after that because I was laughing so hard. Tasha caught wind of my laughter and had to end her phone call. She didn't think it was that funny. I suppose I wouldn't have either if it had been a real phone call. I love you mom!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

To range free, or not

WARNING: The article you are about to read is full of sarcasm...don't let it peck you on the butt!

So I'm having Thanksgiving at my house this year and I wanted to get a fresh range-free turkey. It seemed like a good idea and I know that Sunflower market had them advertised last year. Now I have second thoughts. I was talking with a friend this evening, confirming that a 15 pound bird should sufficiently feed 11 people, especially when 2 of them are vegetarians and kids could really care less. (Is the rule on turkey the same as other meat? Plan for 1/2 a pound per person?) Anyway, she said she bought the free range critter out of respect for an in-law who ate mostly organically. So we discussed this briefly when she said, "ya, he was a happy turkey before they killed him so we could eat him." Of course, we laughed hysterically at the thought of such an absurd statement. But really...maybe those caged babies aren't so bad. We put them out of their misery and now their spirits can roam free in turkey heaven. The free range birds will be discussing how they really miss Tom Jr. and hope he's doing OK, next year will really be a shock for him...while the caged ones are really roaming free. I know, I know, I'm making light of a animal rights and shouldn't. I'm sure when I run for office my opponents will find this blog and quote me word for word. I think I'll just let my mom buy the turkey and live in ignorant bliss.

Then comes the next question (because the turkey does come before the egg)...Have you tried to by eggs lately? How many labels CAN you have on a dozen eggs?! First are all the sizes: medium, large, extra large, jumbo. Then you have the colors: white,brown, speckled. Now the chicken: cage-free, free roaming, caged, surfing, driven crazy. And what kind of food the chicken ate: organic, non-organic, grain, non-grain, fattening, iron fortified. And don't forget the Omega 3 boost! Yikes! When did buying eggs get so difficult? And when did we decide to start labeling all our eggs and chickens? Maybe it was when we stopped labeling our children. Ironically, it was probably the granola parents who refuse to label their kids that want to know what the heck their chicken was doing and eating before it pooped out the egg that they are about to eat.

Seriously though, I LOVE my granola friends and even want to be one someday. I also wish that nobody started caging animals so they could make more money. I guess I just lost the meat industries vote! Happy Turkey day!

Is summer really over?!

My computer says that it is 66 degrees outside. I'm sitting by the open door with the fan blowing overhead. The breeze feels nice and I did get a chill a moment ago. Enough of a chill that I went and put socks on, well those ankle things that just keep your toes snugly warm. I still won't consider long sleeves and I'll probably never put away the capri pants. I was hot standing out at 2pm this afternoon, but chilly at 7pm. Is this what it's like in other parts of the country during, say, September?! WOW! What would that be like? Oh well, maybe I'll go make a cup of hot cocoa and top it with some whip cream that we bought for the pumpkin pie!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clean again

I went to the Temple tonight and did Baptisms. I came out of there feeling really "clean". So here I am, fresh out of the water and non-corrupted. Don't tempt me and lure me to the other side. Stop talking of "fookies" and Grey's Anatomy. I've given it all up for the better good. Bill even tried to record Grey's for me and somehow the cable box was turned off! Hmmm, if that isn't some divine intervention, I don't know what is. So, all 2 of you that read my blog...I'm a goodie-goodie now, so BACK OFF!

Do I really hate poetry?

I was just talking to a mom at school who's daughter totally missed all the comprehension questions related to a poem. I immediately said, "I'm with her, I hate poetry". Then, of course, on the drive home I realized that I just wrote a poem last night. So do I really hate poetry, or do I just hate to analyze it? I think the answer has many points...

First there was Sr. year, High School Humanities course. HATED IT! I was always wrong! The teacher made me feel like an idiot and I never had the right answers. OK, I passed the class so obviously I knew something, but to this day that class and teacher still haunt me. Maybe that's when it started.

Next. Most of the time poetry has to rhyme. Haikus are fine, mostly because they are short and have a syllable restraint. They make it challenging to cram an idea into 5-7 beats, fun. I did write something in college that didn't really have a plan to it, but that was mostly because I was sick of writing papers. My professor "got it" and I felt better for being creative instead of the typical analysis of yet another child.

Finally, music is poetic so poetry should be musical. If there is no flow to it then it is really lame. If you have to think to hard to understand it, then it is lame. If there is not an underlying theme that is repeated then it is probably lame. If I say lame again, then I am really lame.
So I guess the bottom line is this:

Do not analyze
I do not hate poetry
Short, simple, concise!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An ode to Bill...

Twas the night before Thursday, Bill was asleep like a log
So was everyone else, except for the dog.
I had gotten home late from a meeting at school,
But that was OK, everything seemed cool.
Bill woke up early this morning, drove to work in the dark.
Just like every day, with a wag, not a bark.
He got off at 2, came home for a shower,
Then off to get Tasha with his dad super power!
After school and work, I called to say we'd be late.
Could he please start the dinner? Would he fall for the bait?
Tacos and beans and a bowl full of rice?!
How lucky am I? Someone give me some dice!
I ate a fabulous dinner , then rushed out the door.
I'd be late for the meeting, but heck, what's one more?
I was stuck at every light so of course I called home
Bill was washing the dishes, (and polishing the chrome?!)
I was gone for hours, chit-chatting with moms,
What would I find at home, Bill reading the Psalms?
The kitchen was clean, no dishes were out,
He'd cleaned out the sink, without even a pout.
What a fabulous day, it couldn't be beat!
If it happens more often, mom will be obsolete.
I don't know what I did on this day to deserve it,
But man do I hope there's a list to reserve it.
So for that wonderful man that I rag on too often,
Here's an ode to you...before you're in the coffin.
That was terrible to say but it was a funny rhyme
But I laugh at your jokes, well, most of the time!

Just call me "The Cleaning Lady"

Right up front here I'm going to admit that I paid someone to come clean my house about a month ago. Gast! What?! Good money...gone. YEP! And it felt great. The feeling lasted about a week until she was supposed to come again, but was out of town. Then the revelation hit and has been working for several weeks now...

I spent well over an hour Monday night picking up, doing dishes, clearing out the sink, doing laundry... all so someone else could clean my house on Tuesday. What?! An hour of prep work so someone else can spend 4 hours cleaning. No wonder I hate housework!

The following Monday I did the same prep work, it took less time, and I felt more ready this week. I wasn't sure if she was out of town or not, but I thought, "better safe than sorry". I had a miserable morning and was actually hoping that she wasn't there when I got home. She wasn't, and I took my frustrations out on the floors, bathrooms, and dust bunnies. WOW, did that feel great! Could cleaning actually be satisfying?! OK, I've had brief glimpses of that satisfactory feeling when I go from a clutter zone to spic-and-span for a party or vacation, but never on a regular weekday!

So I put it to the test...the next week I did the same thing. (I didn't have the money to pay anyone this week!) Tasha seems to be pretty satisfied with a morning of TV on Tuesday since it is not a regular occurrence. She also appreciates a warning that the floors are wet...and slippery! She took a major butt dive down the hall the day I neglected to isolate her to the living room! After the initial shock and bruise, she thought it was pretty funny and enjoyed reenacting it with great dramatics.

Then there was the problem...the reoccurring mess that I know I have asked people in this house to take care of time and time again (as "the mom"). That's when it occurred to are NOT the mom right now, you are "The Cleaning Lady". The CL doesn't know the slobs that live here and she can either hide the stuff or clean around it. A revelation worth all my sanity...not just for the moment, but to last until the 2-legged beasts arrive home with all their clutter. I can yell at them when they get home, "pick up that stuff, the cleaning lady was just here and I like the way the house looks!" without taking a personal hit to my hard work. After all, it wasn't me, it was that other lady.

Now comes the miracle...the CL was not going to be able to come this week and I knew it. It was going to be a busy Tuesday and Monday was a holiday. After the parade on Monday morning, and a bit of lolly-gagging around town, I broke the news to my family. "I don't have time to clean tomorrow so we're all going to have to do it today. It takes me about 3 hours, so we all will give it our best effort for an hour and a half." I got blank stares until I dished out assignments and everyone went to work. Tasha did her typical picking up in her room so we could vacuum and eventually ended up watching TV, which is fine because she's not fighting with anyone (Kyra) or trying to clean the toilet with a toothbrush or something (eeww). Kyra vacuumed and picked up her room better than it's ever been cleaned. Bill got the tile floors, my least favorite job. I did the rest. It took an hour! Miracle! So we tackled the junk zone in front of the fireplace and can now see the throw rug there. Bill rewarded the kids with a trip to the water/ice-cream store while I finished up by clearing off the island. What a happy day, and everyone contributed.

So then the true miracle happened...Bill and Kyra both agreed, "that wasn't so bad, we could do that every week." Well, I'm not holding my breath and the CL plans on coming next week, but it's nice to know that it can work in a pinch. The 2 legged beasts can be quite helpful and we all took a little pride in a clean house. Now I need to have a party!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Politics are impossible

You know, I want to be involved in politics, and I want to be an active citizen. I get all the election materials in the mail and try to read some of it. We also get 3 copies of the for me, one for Bill, and one for the tenants that lived in this house well over 10 years ago. I'm glad to know that they are actively voting!

So I'm reading the lastest information on the new "Permanent Early Voting List". OK, really I just skim over it and see the section with the election date information. This gives an alphabatized list on when elections will be held. I will list them, WORD FOR WORD below:

a) The second Tuesday in March.
b) The third Tuesday in May.
c) The ninth Tuesday before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
d) The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

I'm sorry...WHAT? Did you read "c"?! I reread it, and reread it. Then I tried the Spanish side:

c) El noveno martes antes del primer martes despues del primer lunes de noviembre.

Nope, it still doesn't make sense to me. The "ninth Tuesday"? Is anyone else confused here? I was pretty sure that we only had 4 Tuesdays in a month, maybe 5 on occasion. Is this a cruel joke to make me feel stupid? Is someone at the Elections Department having a little fun? Did they really get someone to translate that? Even if there really was a ninth Tuesday it certainly couldn't fall before the first Tuesday could it?

I feel like Charlie Brown here. (Possibly because "Snoopy come home" is playing in the background) "Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?" Better yet...can anyone explain to me what letter c is supposed to mean?!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reading 102: 2VGW

"When 2 vowels go walking, the first one does the talking". Well, not really, but it sort of makes sense for some vowel combinations. First of all, "does the talking" means that the vowel will say its name. So when you see EA in a word it says "E", like in eat, neat, meat, team, cream. The problem is that it is misleading to think that it is true for all vowel combinations. Here are the only ones that I teach:

EE and EA say "E" (meet, meat)

OE and OA say "O" (toe, boat)

A-E, AI and AY say "A" (make, paid, play) *note: you won't see AE together in English words, they are usually separated by a consonant...see the "E rule".

So what about the other combinations? Think about it. I can't make the sounds here on the computer but I will give you examples.

AU and AW (taught, saw...the same as the short O sound like in not)

OO (has 2 different and boot...did you feel your lips get rounder for the second one?)

OI and OY (boil, boy)

OU and OW (ouch, how) I teach this one first

OW (snow and sometimes says the name "O")

Spelling can be tricky. You will see W's and Y's at the ends of words (cow, boy), U's and I's in the beginning or middle of the word (out/pout, oil/soil). Is this always true? Of course not, we're talking about English here. (clown, town...those n's at the end are a tip off to use the ow)

Friday, November 2, 2007

DTS: Decompression Traction System

It's the miracle cure for my migraine! I went to the chiropractor and he popped, twisted, drilled and massaged my neck and head. Yada, yada. He's done it all before. Then he decided to try the DTS machine. What the heck, I'm game. Just get rid of the pain. So I'm in a reclined position with my head in traction and my forehead strapped down for about 20 minutes. Bill makes fun of the nice red spot on my forehead but I don't care. The migraine is gone!!! Really. And it hasn't come back. Ironically, my allergies got dramatically worse that evening and I've been full of sinus snot all day. The trade off is worth it though, I'll deal with a sinus headache any day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Candy, giggles and Mother Nature

There are 3 levels of Halloween candy gatherers that I am aware of. There are kids that are too embarrassed to even say "Trick or treat" and barely make it to get candy from people they know. There are kids that catch on to the idea of free candy, make the round and then delve into the stash to either devour it, or check out what they got. Then there are the kids (and adults at this point) that realize there is a bunch of free candy out there and are going to get as much of it that is humanly possible. Nothing at this point seems to be shameful. You can raid a room while it is empty, grab a fist full from a bowl, visit the same candy-givers 2, 3, or even 4 times, or steal the best candy from a little kid. What is it about Halloween that makes pilfering and plundering justified...maybe the costumes?!
So, my kids are at level 2 of the candy gathering. They get the idea, love the treats, and love to eat them. Their parents take the blame for not monitoring their intake, but what the heck, it's Halloween. When Kyra was 3 we witnessed her first sugar high. She actually ran in circles around the living room for half an hour, then she flopped. She repeated the scenario the next year. Her parents are slow learners. (Why does it sound less like it's my fault when I talk in the third person?!) Last night, we all had the giggles. Well, everyone but Bill. He was grouchy. I guess he didn't get to pilfer enough good chocolate from the girls.
The best costume of the year...a first grader at Kyra's school came dressed as "Mother Nature". She had on a beautiful long dress that she had carefully and skillfully attached flowers and leaves to. She also had a halo of flowers on her head. (I can't seem to come up with the actual word for that right now) She was simple yet elegant, not gaudy and very graceful. Kudos for creativity and beauty!

The Wonder Pets

"There's an animal in trouble. There's an animal in trouble! There's a puppy that has to go pee-pee." I kid you not, that was today's episode of The Wonder Pets. Lenny, Tuck, and Ming-Ming too went to help let a puppy outside so it could go pee-pee...or tinkle...because everybody goes. Yes, this is the insight that my 3 year old gets from 3 talking preschool pets that escape from their cages daily to go help animals in trouble. Personally, I think the cartooning is a little disturbing as well. It is somewhere between realistic drawings with movable parts and a freak show of distorted animals. You will be happy to know that by the end of the show, not only did they get the puppy out in time, but they all had to go. We heard a nice gush of water as they all synchronized their pee, and then they all let out a sigh of relief. "AAAAH!"

Be very jealous...or don't

I'm sitting cross legged on my bed typing on a LAPTOP right now! Yeah for us. Finally, after 2 years of classes for Bill at UofP, he is entering the 21st century. He has always been the only one (at least, that's what he tells me) that doesn't have one. So, as our old computer became outdated, we decided to invest in something that we both could use. It's a Dell, I've made several typing slips adjusting to a new keyboard, and we can't really get our office program to load. Hmmm.

For my part, a laptop mostly makes me feel great. I pretend that I'm Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail". How cool would that be?! I would own my own book store, live in NY city, and have Tom Hanks emailing me crazy lines from "The Godfather". OK, it sucks that she looses her store by the end of the movie, but she does get the guy! In my post-movie fantasy version, she also writes the book that she dreamed of writing...ahh, I really could be her!

On the other hand, don't be jealous because I've been in bed most of the day with a migraine! It's probably the 2nd worst I've had in my life and I couldn't drive the kids to school today. That sort of makes you feel like a big fat failure as a mom, but I did have plenty of time to think since I couldn't open one eye, sleep, or stand up without feeling dizzy. Coke and chocolate didn't help this time. Pressure points alleviated the pain for the moment. Homeopathic remedies seemed to help a bit. Finally, when Bill could drive me to chiropractor, I found some permanent least, I hope...It's been an hour now and I feel pretty good. So I think I'll keep bloggin' and get everything off my mind.