Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do you have a good read to suggest?

I'm still here!  Preparing for and then hosting Thanksgiving took a lot of time and energy, so I've not had motivation to blog in a while.  However, tomorrow is December 1st, and I'm going to try and post something every day for 12 days.  We still don't know when we are traveling to China, so this will be a great diversion for me as I'm liable to go a bit nuts waiting to find out our travel dates.

Anybody read a good novel lately?  With the holidays' busy hustle and bustle, and the prolonged wait to meet our daughter, I'm finding that I need to be more intentional about stress management.  Often, I'll read while K is taking a nap as a way to unwind.  Lately I haven't been able to find a good book to read, so I thought I'd ask my fellow moms for some suggestions.  What do you like to read?  Please leave a comment about your favorite author or book. What genres do you enjoy the most?  I prefer historical fiction, mysteries, and biographies.

A series that I've really enjoyed reading is Red River of the North by Lauraine Snelling.  It's followed by three more series about the same people: Return to Red RiverDaughters of Blessing, and Home to Blessing.  These novels follow the lives of several families that immigrate to the states in the mid 1800s.  If you enjoyed Little House on the Prairie when you were a girl, then you'd probably like these stories.  I began reading these books when my grandma was still living.  She had lost her ability to speak after a stroke.  Her mobility continued to degenerate, so mostly she spent her days sitting.  She lived several hours away from me, so I found that sending her books was a way I could show her I cared.  I sent her each book in all three series and would check the same book out at the library.  That way, we could read the books together and then have something to talk about in our letters.  She passed away before the fourth series came out, but I'm still reading it as the books are published.  It's a special way to remember my Gram and feel a bit connected to her.  Here's the author's website if you'd like more details on the books: http://www.laurainesnelling.com/html/adultfiction.html

Book 1 in the Red River of the North Series

Friday, November 19, 2010

Potty Training Update

Well, we're just not quite ready to potty train.  K is much more willing to use the toilet this time around, which is great.  However, he's not fully invested yet.  He'd rather play than stop to use the potty.  Honestly, I'm not ready to commit to it either.  We are about three weeks away from finding out when we'll travel to China for our next adoption.  Sometime in Dec. or Jan. we are going to be gone for a couple of weeks, and then home with a new baby.  I don't want to add potty training to the list of transitions when we get home.  However, if he wants to use the toilet we are all for it.  Yesterday he volunteered to use it a couple of times.  So awesome!  I think once we are somewhat settled in with his new sister, we'll give it serious attention.

The best thing I've learned from our trial with potty training is to not care so much about the outcome.  This summer, I was so insistent on it and didn't want to fail.  Now, I don't really care one way or the other as I know that eventually he'll get it.  Our son is a strong willed little guy.  When he wants to do something, he will.  So, we told him he's the boss of his own pee and pooh.  He likes the concept of being the boss of somebody, or something.  Now that he's the boss of his own potty needs, rather than being forced to bend to my will, we are all a lot happier.  Funny, in all the potty training manuals I read, nobody ever mentioned this.

More posts to follow as we make progress in this area...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hidden in My Heart

On my Christmas wish list: Hidden in My Heart cd with lullabies for all ages.

I recently heard about this new cd through our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group.  Here's a link to the Hidden in My Heart website: http://scripture-lullabies.com/  You can listen to samples of the songs and watch a video about it.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A great read: The Hiccupotamus

Our favorite silly story for this week.  Check it out!
We made another trip to the library and found a plethora of great books.  This one topped them all: The Hiccupotamus.  It's hilarious, ridiculous, and just plain goofy fun to read aloud.  We all enjoyed the story and illustrations.  The author, Aaron Zenz, has also included a mock list of cast "bios" after the story.  K didn't get the cast bio jokes, but my husband and I found them to be very amusing.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Sweet Thank You

My husband made some awesome cookies last night!  I'll share the recipe soon.

I wanted to give some of the cookies to our neighbors as a thank you for taking
 family photos for us yesterday.  

Supplies for thank you gift bag: paper lunch bag, clear bag for cookies, cranberry card stock (3" x 11"), decorative card stock (2 1/2" x 11"), ribbon, adhesive (I love Staples' permanent glue tape), thank you stamp, stamp pads, and 3-D foam tape.  I stamped the sentiment, cut it out with a Creative Memories' oval template, and sponged the edges of the oval with brown ink by Color Box.

The finished product before I tucked it into the gift bag:
cookies and a gift card for coffee.  I also included the recipe
for the cookies in case anyone has food allergies.  

The idea for this gift bag came from a Martha Stewart magazine.  It was simple to make, and nice to use items I already had at home.  When my husband arrived home with the gift card, I was delighted that it matched my color scheme.  He sarcastically claimed that he did that on purpose.  Men just don't get it, do they?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reading Readiness pt 2: Phonics

Once K had learned the alphabet, it was time to teach him the sounds that the letters make.  I wish that I could say I used all kinds of clever hand made games and crafts to teach the sounds.  However, the truth is he learned it from a video!  My friend, Kelly, told me about The Letter Factory DVD by Leap Frog Learning.  It is engaging, clever, and teaches phonics in a fun way.  Plus, at $8.99 on Amazon, you really are getting a great deal!  (The tutoring company I work for charges a lot more than that per hour!!)  In about two months, our son knew all the sounds.  The vowels seem to be the hardest for kids, especially differentiating between short vowel "e" and short vowel "i" sounds.  I still mix them up myself, like when I say ten it often comes out as tin.  A quick review for those who may have forgotten what short vowels are: apple, elephant, igloo, octopus, and umbrella are the short vowel sounds.  The long vowels sounds are the actual names for the vowels like: ape, eagle, ice, over, and use.  We'll tackle long vowels later.  For now, K is only aware of the short vowel sounds.

I also got him Talking Words Factory as a follow up DVD to The Letter Factory.  The sequel teaches how to put the sounds together to make words.  Talking Word Factory does a great job of teaching the concept of how words are built.  It focuses on the basic consonant, short vowel, consonant (CVC) words like CAT or FUN which is perfect for beginning readers.  They do introduce blends, but it is a brief part of the video.  With K, we are only working on the CVC words at the moment until he really gets comfortable with sounding out these basic words.  We have been doing all kinds of fun activities to help him learn how to read.  I took pictures of some of our "home school" assignments so you all can see what we've been doing, and maybe inspire some of you to give it a try.

I created a simple worksheet on the computer leaving blanks  (like ___ ot) for  K to stamp a letter.  All of the words in the first column end in "ot".  The second column is all "et" words.  Rather than giving him the entire alphabet stamp set, I only set out letters for him to use that would create real words.  Once he's more proficient, he can figure out which letters make real words and which ones don't.  For now, he has fun discovering what new word he's just spelled.

We practice his new words whenever he's in the mood.  Since it's at his height,  he sees them often and enjoys going through the list of words.  At first, I folded the sheet in half and we covered up all the words except one.  That way he wasn't overwhelmed by a whole sheet of new words to tackle at once.  (This worksheet has "at" and "an" words.)

Practicing our "at" words.  Notice I gave him a selection of letters at the bottom that will all make real words when paired with "at".  We sometimes do this activity while he's eating a snack or lunch.  Other times, K will just pick up the letters on his own and start making words to proudly show off to whomever is near by.  I'm finding letters all over the house!

Since K just turned three, he's not able to write letters yet.  He was constantly hounding us to write out words for him.  We got him a Magna Doodle for his birthday and I had an "ah ha!" moment, "We can use the magnetic letters and he can create words on his own!"  Sometimes we'll write words on his Magna Doodle for him and he can read them to us.  This is a fun activity to do in the car, or at a public place where you have to sit and wait quietly, like a restaurant.

Here's a great beginning reader book.  The pictures are fun, and the words are all CVC so they are perfect for our little reader.  We've practiced and practiced the words in this book.  He wasn't able to just breeze through it the first time.  There are three sections in the book, we usually get through only one section and he's done reading for a while.  

Same series, obviously.  I was so pleased to find these two books at the library.  It's very rewarding for new readers to have a book that is at their level.  It's very exciting for them to open a book and be able to read every word in it.  With K, we go slow, encourage a lot, give some hints with sounding out, and keep it fun.  If it's too hard or not enjoyable, we stop and come back to it later.  
One more observation...When we go out, K's always aware of letters and words that show up on signs or wherever.  He's eager to point out words he knows.  Sometimes he'll see a word he knows as part of a larger word for example, "material".  He'll say, "Look, that spells MAT!".  I'm always quick to praise him and then show him that the whole word says material.  My son is teaching me that kids are much more alert than I thought!

In the future, I'll share more as we progress in our journey of teaching K to read.  Thanks for visiting my blog!