Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Usborne Black Friday Sale!

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Works for Me Wednesday

Here's a Works For Me Wednesday tip for remembering to read those books the kids check out from the library. We've been putting one book each day on a book stand on top of the bookshelf in the living room. It looks neat and organized (and a little like a bookstore or library) plus we see the book throughout the day so it is remembered when its read aloud time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Journey of a Mother's Heart: Grrr-Attitude Does Not Make for a Happy Thanksgiving

The Journey of a Mother's Heart: Grrr-Attitude Does Not Make for a Happy Thanksgiving

This is a lovely post and a wonderful reminder of what really matters.

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is a little tackle, but it was really overdue. My email inbox was crammed with THOUSANDS of unread emails. Thousands! Most were unread Flylady emails! That may give you some idea of the condition of my home and office right now. I love flylady and her system really helps me (when I follow it). Today, my tackle was to clean out my inbox. At first I actually tried to weed through the emails, just in case any of it was important. That all stopped when I got to unread emails from February! Now its done and I feel great! Maybe I'll be able to get back on track with following Flylady.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Four year old logic

4 Year Old:
Mom, can I watch a movie?

Mom: Let's read a book instead. Books make us smart.

4 Year Old: You can read a book, Mom. I'm already smart.

Should have seen that one coming.

Money Making Monday

This is what I do from home. I've been an Usborne Consultant for 5 years. It has allowed me a part time income with just a few hours a week (on average, less than 5). For more info, click on the picture below.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

What started out with such promise at 5:30 am while I was planning, turned into murder and mayhem by 8:00 am. Okay, there was no murder but there was a great deal of whining and a raised voice or two. The plan for today was to read some of the kids favorite books, including Grandfather's Journey, which we are rowing this week. We were going to work on a mini book for our lapbook and then the plan was to start on another fun learning idea. Well, before I could even finish Grandfather's Journey, my youngest was whining. Did I mention PMS? Grrrrr. It was not pretty. One wanted to learn, the other didn't and wasn't afraid to try to blow it for the others. Okay - I give up!

Before I really *ahem* raised my voice, I decided to remove myself from the learning room. I retired to the kitchen to make a pan of brownies (which definitely solves every problem). Look what I returned to when I went to check on my little learners.

And we managed to salvage at least part of our learning (at least in my mind, this is considered learning ). Yes, those are brownies. They were delicious!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

St Nicholas Day gift

This is what the kids are getting in their shoe on St. Nicholas Day. The bag is made of brown felt (I cut it into 4 rows, cutting the longer sides into fourths. Then I folded it in half and blanket stitched the two sides closed. The drawstrings are pushed through small cuts in the bag. They are made of brown ribbon.) and the coins are chocolate mint. Since the kids would really love to make these, we might make extra to give as gifts to friends and cousins.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Less Television!!

We're going on 48 hours with no television - woo hoo! It has been an incredibly difficult "de-tox" for my children. They have cut back their viewing time to about half an hour a day, and I think I could live with that amount. Of course, I'm still thrilled with even less and would love zero television. Here are some pictures from a few days ago and what we did instead of a video.

This first picture was taken at 6:30 a.m. - yes, a.m. Playing Clue Jr. kept them busy while I fixed breakfast.

Look what we did after breakfast.
This one is Nicholas raking leaves, still in his jammies. Who knew a second grader could love raking leaves?

Here's Andrew imitating his big brother. I am so grateful that he has such a wonderful big brother to look up to and imitate. What a blessing.

Ahhhhh . . . a job well done!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Did you see what's HALF PRICE?

Usborne Books is know for our art books, both Art Appreciation and How-to Art books. The most amazing How-to Art book, The Complete Book of Art Ideas is less than HALF PRICE right now on my website! What a great Christmas gift for the art lover in your life!

This book is a combined volume of three separate books, Art Skills (which shows how to use many different art media such as pastels, oil paint, water colors, and more, plus how to create different effects with these media), Art Ideas (which includes many more techniques to create fun art effects) and Art Projects (which includes projects to make using the techniques learned in the other books). Each of these books retails for $!8.00 so separately, you would pay $54.00 for all three. The combined volume sells for $40. 0o but right now, you can get it for only $18.00! This price will only be available for a short time as we are sure to sell out of this book at this price!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yesterday's Learning

Here is what we did yesterday.

We started out day with the Good Morning Song followed by read aloud time. We read In November by Cynthia Rylant and The First Thanksgiving by Tomie DePaola. After that we traced our hands (like in The First Thanksgiving) and made turkeys. While we decorated our turkeys, we listed to some phonics songs and sang along. Andrew (age 4) made a robot out of Zome Tools while he waited for Nicholas to finish his turkey.

Next, we made squares out of felt triangles, then used the felt to make other shapes. We listened to the Prima Latina CD (prayers through Lesson 3) while we worked.

After that, we read the story of Noah and added the appropriates symbol to our Jesse tree. Nicholas continued his copy work from Isaiah 11:1.

We took a break here and danced to some Cajun Christmas Music. I think this was our favorite part of the day.

To get everyone back on track after the break, we read aloud, Max's Chocolate Chicken and Yoko, both by Rosemary Wells. Andrew requested Sushi after reading Yoko, which we will try to get today. We had nice soothing music playing in the background during this part of school.

Next we read aloud Merry Go Round by Ruth Heller. We are using her books in our language study. Nicholas copied a rule about Nouns and then drew a picture illustrating the rule. Andrew just drew a picture.

We counted to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's.

We read from Little Acts of Grace and practiced.

Nicholas read aloud from his word lists and also read to himself.

We took a longer break here to have lunch, run errands and go to one of the kids' favorite places. While we were out, Nicholas lost another tooth :o)

When we got home, we made numbers and some letters out of salt dough and baked them. The boys used the left over dough to make snowmen, which we also baked.

We read aloud a little more as requested by the children. Nicholas requested Poems for Little Children and Andrew wanted Puzzle Pirates. Nicholas asked for a tumbling lesson and then he spent 2 hours(!) making his own felt characters.

I'd have to say that yesterday was an almost perfect day! I promise to include a not so perfect day, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wow, was I ever wrong!

Before I even had children, I dreamed of homeschooling them. I pictured lessons, lovingly taught and lovingly accepted. I pictured days spent engrossed in exciting projects, with my children learning in sheer joy. (hahaha - I also thought my baby would sleep when I wanted it to - clueless!).

When my first was born, I started researching homeschooling. Really, up until that point, I assumed that homeschooling meant "schooling at home" complete with everything but standing in line for the bathroom. My research led me to all of the many home education philosophies and I waded through them one by one. The two that appealed the most to me were Montessori and Unschooling.

Most people base their judgment of our homeschooling on our children's ability to read. Its just a fact, so reading was something I felt pressure to get Nicholas to do a.s.a.p. To this end, I tried to expose Nicholas to as much literature as possible. Experts tell us that children will learn to read if exposed to words, books, letters and such. In our home, we did all of that. We played with words, read poetry, read books for hours at a time, looked at letters, talked about letters, played games with letters, read alphabet books, colored letters, well, you get the idea. In addition, dh & I are avid readers, so the kids had many opportunities to see us reading for enjoyment and to learn as well.

Dh didn't do any of this research with me (or even really listen when I talked about it - lol) and has really concrete ideas about what learning should look like (hint: nothing like unschooling). So, to prevent many arguments, I set up a Montessori style cabinet in my home when my oldest was 2. It contained lots of practical life activities, sensorial activities and even a few language trays. We had fun and Nicholas learned alot, but it got to where he was working through the material faster than I could make it (buying it was out of the question - have you ever priced Montessori materials?). Even so, he wasn't really interested in learning about reading (more stress!). At that time I also had a new baby who took up much of my time. We needed a new approach.

It was time to try something closer to Unschooling. I ordered Five in A Row and we spent several months (close to a year) just rowing the books. We loved it! We read aloud for hours every day. We did many of the go-along activities and even went on some field trips (like sushi when we read "Grandfather's Journey). It was lots of fun. I also introduced "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons" at this point. Dh and the some of the grandparents were starting to put real pressure on us, asking Nicholas to read this or count that, and asking when we were going to put him in school. By the way, he was only 4-5 at the time (no pressure, huh?). So, more research.

Next I discovered The Well Trained Mind. I love this book and this educational philosophy, although the work load is, I believe, a little much. We began applying many of the ideas in this book with much success. We really like the history and science ideas in this book, especially the go along fiction reading that corresponds to the history study. Still though, there was stillsome resistance by my littles to "doing school". One of the things I did not like about The Well Trained Mind was the recommendation of drills for Math and Reading. My research before TWTM had convinced me that my children would be bored or feel too pressured with flashcards, math drills and word lists. So, I left out those parts of the program and just kept doing what we were doing already. For the most part, this went well, but Nicholas still was not reading. As a matter of fact, he hated reading aloud to me, even the little readers or Dr. Seuss. He would panic if I suggested he read something like a living book about Robots (his favorite subject). School was becoming very unpleasant, with me insisting he read or do worksheets and him resisting, and dragging his feet. Again, change was in order.

Where was I wrong? Well, it turns out I was completely wrong about flashcards and word lists for Nicholas! This time, our change came without my prompting. I had checked out "Why Johnny Can't Read and What you can do About it" (again). While reading it, my youngest called me out of the room, so I placed the book down on the coffee table. When I returned to the book, Nicholas had it and was reading the word lists to himself. I watch, as he read pages of these lists. He was stumbling over lots of the words as he was still sounding out most letters in the words he read, but I was thrilled! He was reading unprompted, and with joy and enthusiasm. When he finally noticed me watching, he positively beamed and said, "This is fun, Mom.". What?

Yes, I was wrong about drilling (he loves to race the clock with flashcards - who knew?), flashcards and word lists. We learn so much from our kids! I wonder what my next one will have to teach :o)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Do You Moo When You Chew Your Food?

I try to read aloud to my children each morning before we start the day. Its a nice little routine for us and I love to sit on the sofa with my kiddos next to me for a few extra moments of cuddle time. Most day, each of my kids chooses one of the books we'll read and I choose a few as well. Today, someone chose one of my favorites, the Usborne Book of Poems for Little Children.

Here is my favorite poem from this book:


Sometimes I moo while I'm chewing
I hope you don't think that it's rude
But mooing and chewing
Are what I like doing,
Do you moo when you chew your food?

Giles Andeae

Love it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

That was fun!

I'm back and its done and I feel 10 lbs lighter. I didn't realize how much it was weighing me down, knowing that I needed to get it done, and that I was putting it off. Tegdirb92 posted this comment:

"that's a great tackle--go and do something special for yourself while you are out!! Happy Tuesday!"

Thanks :o) I did! I bought myself a cheesecake, lol. So much for the 10 lbs lighter :o)

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Wow! I clicked on to Homemaker of the 21st Century from, I'm not sure where, and discovered Tackle it Tuesday. What a great idea! Spending Tuesday working on something you've been putting off - I love it! I discovered, after clicking around for a while, that Tackle it Tuesday originated at a place called 5 Minutes for Mom.

Well, I have so many things I've been putting off that I could choose to tackle today. My first thought is to try to tackle as many as I can. The problem with that is that I'll choose so many things to do, that I'd probably get none of them done and I'd end up frustrated and beating myself up - sigh. So, I'm going to force myself to take baby steps and choose one thing - I'm going to return the cable modem to the cable people so that they will stop charging us for the cable service we are no longer using and the rental of said modem. Phew! I feel better already. I'll post again once its done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Your Baby Can Read will be featured on ELLEN!

One of the products I carry through Usborne Books, Your Baby Can Read, will be featured on the Ellen Show on Monday, November 5th. Be sure to check it out. And to find out more about the product, check out my website .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reluctant Reader

As mentioned in another post, we have a reluctant reader in our home. He can, he just doesn't want to read, and it causes many tense moments. The primary way that most people judge our homeschooling success is on our children's ability and willingness to read. In our homeschool, we've got one of those (ability), but not the other (willingness). Which leads to me stressing out, worrying what our family will think when they ask him to read and he says either, "I don't want to", or "I can't"(gasp). My stress leads to me being much harder on him than I should. When I can manage, I'm starting to sneak reading into his other work (sort of the same why I sneak veggies and protein into his diet; he's also a picky eater - imagine that).

One thing he loves is puzzles, both jigsaw and solve it type as well. Some days, I will give him something that I would like him to read and ask him to find all of a certain phonograme, blend or digraph (for example, we did /dr/ yesterday). He happily reads the page, paragraph or book, searching for these items, the same way he would a solve it puzzle. When ever possible, I try to find things for him to read that I can print so that he can circle or underline the things for which he's searching, making the activity kinesthetic as well as visual.