Monthly Archives: December 2010

2011 changes part 2

This is part two (see part one here).  I am discussing changes in the works for 2011 around here.  All these items are actually sub-parts of one bigger “goal“ for the start of 2011. “My first goal for 2011 is a more structured day / more intentional approach to school”.  Also, please do not fear for me, I am not jumping in to all this at once and most of the changes will actually be grown into slowly; some may not to be ‘seen’ for a time, but these represent my “intent” 🙂  my path.

BIBLE.  For Christmas Big Brother received The SuperHero Bible.  It is a “NIrV is an easy-to-read version of the New International Version written at the third grade level.”  Big Brother and I are endeavoring to read though it – Genesis to Revelations – together.  I talked about that here.  I want Big Brother to have some experience the Bible as whole, not just the stories (though he knows many of them well).  I want to start “forming hooks” for the boys both, but really Big Brother, to have for future learning; I want to start to demonstrate the Bible is a “whole” not just selected stories.  I am in the process of looking for a Bible Time Line to hang on the wall so that we can start laying a foundation of the Bible as a whole; so we can visualize it all and the connections and the ‘flow’.  This is something I intend to make a repetitive habit for the family; even once the boys are in school outside the home, we will continue reading the Bible, as a family, over and over again.  I chose this version (not that it is a great translation) as a good starting point to make the language more assessable to the boys and also as one Big Brother (and eventually Little Brother) can transition in to reading on his own soon than say the NIV or the King James (both of which, of course, are better actual translations of the Bible as an tool of faith and the voice of God given to us). 

Big Brother really is showing signs of reading readiness (sounding out the words on the products in the hardware store to “read what daddy needs”).  He can sound out all the basic phonic sounds, and a few blends (ch, th, sh, st).  He is at the place where he can sound out all the letter in the word, but it does not “become a word” for him.  Any day now.  I am so excited.  Since Little Brother is going to start going to classroom 2 days week (2 hours each day) for more intensive speech time; Big Brother and I are going to use that time, an hour and 45 minutes after drop off and pick up of Little, for “school”.  I am hoping that we can make good use of that block of time he and I have alone.  I don’t plan to drive home and back, so we will see if the local library is open, or go to the bakery.  A little phonics, some math and handwriting.  Then he will earn, maybe time on my lap top or maaaaybe once in a while youtube videos of superheroes (his love and reason for life right now).  I am not going to push, he is after all just turned 5, and fundamentally I am opposed to an early push in academics.  Nevertheless a little one-on-one time with momma to read, and do some phonics and the ability to practice his handwriting without Little on top of him, may be just the right thing for him right now.  If not, we’ll change it. 

Quiet time is going to start.  Here is a blog about it many many families do this, a regrouping time in the afternoon.  This is still a really fluid concept for me and I am not sure either what it is going to look like here in our home nor am I sure how I am going to start.  I envision a time in the afternoon for all of us to sit – no media – and read and relax.  Little Brother gave up naps well over a year ago (sadly for momma as family nap was really helping me) but both boys seem to really lag in the afternoon and need a recharge; and I am thinking a chunk of time with books is a good habit for us as a family.  It can grow into something more in years to come.  Stay tuned I am still not sure this is going to work.

One day a week shall be stay home day – even PJ day.  I have been scheduling the first quarter of 2011 and sadly so many days are already booked.  Big brother has ST and OT and other appointments.  Little Brother has ST.  Both boys have classroom; we try to get to library one a week and I value their weekly playdates (this is momma time too since I get to hang with the other mom(s) and since I truly care abut the other children and enjoy time with them too.  So I am starting to make off days on the daytimer as HOME.  I feel strongly that the boys NEED time to be kids; time to play, to be lazy, to be mostly undirected.  Entire days to wear PJs all day if that is what they want to do.  I am not sure I can do it each week, sadly, but it is important to me to make sure the boys have time to be kids. 

There shall be less TV.  Very little else needs to be said, this is all momma.  We limit quality and content quiet strictly, but quantity needs to be cut back (and content a bit too but not so much).  This is feel is going to be a natural happening as there is more routine and more structure and more “other” in the day. 

More memory work.  The boys are both at that great parrot age – they love to repeat they love to learn the ending to things.  Big Brother is entering the Grammar Stage and is already committing random stuff to memory.  I intend for us to start learning (as a group, all three of us) more nursery rhymes; longer ones and then bridge into short fun poetry.  From there I hope to start in on shorter Bible verses, and that of course I intend for them to continue, committing more and more of God’s revelation to memory as they years go on.  Eventually I will broaden our outlook to longer poems or more serious poems (as opposed to rhyming silly children’s one).  Momma will be doing this along with them.  That is, of course, the long term plan, over years.  For now I intend to start with more nursery rhymes and longer ones. 

Yoga.  The boys are, at some point, going to be doing yoga on a mostly daily basis.  Now, right now – we have done it once in the last 2 week, and the time before that I can’t remember.  So this is a long path for us, but some day I do want us to be ‘regular yoga practices” (exercise ONLY, not the faith or philosophy).  Big Brother’s OT therapist suggested yoga for him; for body control, for core strength and for self-soothing and, learning to control breathing and emotions.  I got him a 3 DVD set for Christmas when he was 3; and we’ve never done much with it; so we are digging that set out and going to try to “practice” each day.  I have wanted to learn yoga (exercise only) for years so I am excited to drag the boys along with me; I do admit the challenge factor of yoga (or anything like that) is greatly increased by adding a couple of pre-schoolers to it.  

Stay tuned – there are a few items left for a part 3 🙂 



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2011 changes part 1

2011…A new year, a new start.  🙂  With luck, and pray, 2011 is to be a year of BIG changes for our family.  Only time will tell, but I am full of anticipation and thus energy and have to do something.

A mood of anticipation drives me well; it embodies me to make changes, get off my butt and challenges me.  This list is not exhaustive, some ideas are still too fluid in my mind to express, and some will develop out of other changes; but these are the basic, starter set, a jumping off point.

The first goal of 2011, while by no means a BIG difference from 2010 is more a “push into growing”.  In truth, many of the other ‘changes” could be seen a sub-set of this umbrella “change”.  Most change is growth and it is a slow process; but it can be encouraged and “pushed”.  My first goal for 2011 is a more structured day / more intentional approach to school.  These are not exactly the same thing, but they are still hard to totally separate.  The boys are so young, and so “school” is either all of our day, or no part of our day – based on how you want to view it.  For example we read at least twice a day, that is either “school time” or not depending on how you frame it, but it is a core of our day.  Thus, I am not going to split hairs on the “more structured day” vs. “the more intentional approach to school” goal(s). 

Mainly we need a more structured approach to our time; we just are not getting done all I’d like to see done.  The boys are not getting all the opportunities I’d like to be able to “expose them to”.  It is all momma, lazy momma.  As the boys’ age I feel (personally) that we need a day with a bit more meat to it; especially as we face the fact that Big Brother will be legally kindergarten age in the fall.  (not that we are worried about THAT, but it is a ‘milestone’ to be aware of).  Also the are both blooming right now;  and I really know  in my heart I should be feeding the growth more than I am.  This is a wok in progress and I realize it is 95% momma; not the boys.

Changes in the works:

Little’s ST

Little will be going to classroom 2x a week.  This fall semester he attended the local school district’s preschool one day a week for 2 hours.  His speech delay is effecting his communication much more than Big Brother’s delay has ever effected him.  Thus the decision was made to put Little Brother in the classroom 2x a week, 2 hours each time, to allow him more time with the SLP and also to allow him more time with the Special Education teacher on communication skills.  This is a trial.  Monday is the new day; Monday and Thursday’s from 8:30 to 10:30.  we will have to see how this goes before we decide for sure to keep it (frankly I am still on the fence about the boys being in the local pre-school at all, not the team, our team is great, but there are issues and on a fundamental level I am still troubled by it).  

Little Brother is also going to have a full, private, speech and communication assessment at Childserve where Big Brother goes to OT).  we held off till he vas three for this assessment despite the fact there is no question he is delayed (maybe more so than Big Brother as far as communication is considered); but under three it seems a bit silly to try too much assessment; I knew he simply would not cooperate and so nothing would be gained. 


Daily (6 days a week goal) practice.  We are going to work on mastery of the material I have and that the local library has.  I talked some about this here.  I am also going to make tiles (3 inch by 3 inch) of all the ASL letter signs (we already have tiles like that of all the written letters, both capital and lower case) to add to our letter collection.  Then we can all practice out ASL alphabet in memory and matching games like we currently work on capital and low case matches and sound matches. 

 see part 2 here

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12.29.10 (ASL and Bible)

I am trying to slowly craft a better daily routine and “schedule” for us. (it is one of my Home and Schooling Goals for 2011)

Today we took some time for ASL practice; this needs to be a daily activity.  I have a couple of books (had many more but got rid of all but the good ones) and a couple of sets of flash cards.  I decided that I am going to work the flash card sets over and over till we achieve mastery.  Today we worked on Beginners Series – Animals & Colors  Next we’ll do:  ASL Flashcards: Beginners Series – Objects & EmotionsThe Library here also has two more sets of the flashcards, I think:  ASL Flashcards: Beginners Series – Family/Clothing/Toileting and ASL Flashcards: Beginners Series – Actions & Opposites.  After that I will go though my fav book (Teach Your Tot to Sign: The Parents’ Guide to American Sign Language – it is the best easy reference of signs, it is decently compete though still lacking, it is the best of the “useable” versions I have found) and make my own flash cards – copy the page and laminate – in sets of 10 or 20 and push on to mastery of those.  I have been trying to use more ASL in our daily life but I guess I need a plan to keep myself on it.  With a plan of things I intend for us to master (flashcards, etc) then there is something for us to sit down with each day and practice and that makes sure momma will get it done. 

I am still disappointed that Big Brother is not better at the signs he has known since he was 2 and 3 years old (such as colors and some of the animals); I have to wonder if he lacks the fine motor skill (either as a factor of age in general, or because some of him skills are behind).  I am having a bit of a challenge keeping him motivated to demonstrate the signs correctly (not lazy) and actually learn the new ones.  I am keeping after it as I still intend ASL to be a second language for the family.  Also the flashcards are a great practice for both boys’ speech and Big Brother reading.  Little Brother really seems to enjoy the practice time and seems to really get a kick out of getting them correct and learning them.  Big Brother did ask to do the second set of flash cards after we did the first. 

So out of the set we are currently working on mastery of (Animals & Colors) 

Signs Little Brother remembered all on his own:

  • Squirrel
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Cow (tried to say too)
  • Monkey
  • Rabbit

Signs he mimicked very well:

  • Orange
  • Brown (tried to SAY too)
  • White
  • Color
  • Mouse


3 he is not really even able to try:

  • Worm
  • Dog
  • Fish

And then there is snake – when I ask him, or show him – he just says NO – so that is that. 

The there 13 signs in the set he mimics but not as well.

Big Brother has learned all these at one time, though some we never used enough to active total mastery of (hippo and worm for example), but I am pushing him to remember what he “knows” and learn the rest. 

As action two of the “molding a new routine” we started reading Big Brother’s Bible today.  I asked Big Brother if he though we’d be able to read the Bible in a year, before Jesus’ birthday next year, or even before his birthday next year.  He did not think so “too many words and I don’t think you can read them all” (thanks, kid).  But then after we read Genesis 1 and 2 I asked him if he wanted to stop or read Chapter 3; he told me he wanted to read it all today “to see if we can read all the pages in one day”.  So I don’t know a good amount of the time, what he is thinking.  When we got to chapter 3 of Genesis wanted to stop. “don’t read this part, I don’t like this part”, I asked if he doesn’t like the part where Adam and Eve get in trouble, and he said “no it makes me feel sad”.

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I found another book list; then I got on some rabbit-trails and found more and more but they didn’t turn out to be of any real value.

Everyone here knows how I am about books.  I love books, and I love sharing them with my boys.  I am maintaining a master list of books for pre-school and kindergarten (and a bit older too) read alouds.  My Master list is pulled from many respectable books lists available on the Net.  I strive to share and allow open access to good books.  I do not support censorship; but I, within my own home, and with my children, reserve the right to limit their material or to impose age restrictions on it.  Nonetheless, another book list is another well of potential, another trove of books I might not have heard of and that we might love.  I am excited to make my way though it, looking at what we have and have read and adding new titles to my “to find and read” list.  I plan to update my Master List – but that is going to have to go a way down on the To Do for School List; so don’t look for that till mid-to end of January.  This list was created by The National Endowment for the Humanities “The works herein, published in 1960 or earlier, have delighted generations of readers.” They, themselves, admit the list is truly lacking due to the criteria they used:  

There are some excellent older books that are missing from the list, because they appeared too infrequently in the school selections: Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, for example; Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales; Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Despite the absences, we hope this compilation will nevertheless bring hours of pleasure and enlightenment.

The list is divided by age level and at least worth looking at.  I am excited to make my way though this list, adding it to my Master List.

I picked up my Inter-Library-Loan books yesterday.  I love ILL.  I try to ILL all my home schooling books before I buy them; to allow myself to be selective and spend my money is the wisest possible way.  There are a number of books I am glad to have read, but ok with not owning and several books I have found not to match our foundation or faith, or our parenting style and I was glad to be able to return them immediately with no money lost.  I got Core knowledge sequence: Content guidelines for grades K-8  and Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers (Core Knowledge Series).  I seriously desire a copy of Core Knowledge Series and plan to soon add that to my library.  Books to Build on has been fun to look at and I have about a page of titles I plan to look at and maybe add to our wish list; I also found the names of a couple of catalogs I plan to request, but at this point I do not see it as necessary for us.  By 2nd or 3rd grade (our current plan is to keep the boys home either to or though 3rd) it could prove useful, but not currently.  When I read though the kindergarten and 1st grade ‘language Arts” section for literature recommendation I found that we already had exactly 50% of them; (31 of the 62 listed); that makes a mom feel good. 

In the next week or two I need to update our Literacy Binder; I need to go though and mark off new books we have gotten (like One Morning In Maine that Big Brother got for his birthday).  I also want to go ahead and get ahead of the ball and create three new sections.  I am making one to keep a log of Family Read Alouds.  The boys are finally getting old enough I am going to try, again, to do chapter books with them (Winnie The Pooh is going to be first, we have tried it before but Big Brother did not track one session to the next).  I want to keep a log of them, so some day they boys can look back at all the books we have read as a family; I plan to write down their reactions and comments too to keep for them.  I am also going to make a section for each boy; these will be empty for a long time, but when the day comes that they start reading independently (end of 2011 for Big??? Or sometime in 2012??? ) they will each have their own book log too. 

We may potentially have some pretty big changes coming up in 2011 for our family, and I feel a real need to have a good method established in our schooling material to make all necessary transitions smoother.  I love a new start, a new year; diving back into organization; makes me feel all energized. 

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Salt Dough Conclusions

We tried 3 different “recipes” for Salt Dough this year; really they are the same recipe but the ratios are different.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • ½ water


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • ¾ cup water


Finally – the one that worked the best for us:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 11/4 cup water

Lessons learned:

  • Hot water, start with hot water
  • Dissolve the salt first
  • Humidity is important – the best dough we made was on days we had been boiling water in the kitchen for hours to “add water” to the environment
  • You really need to bake them for longer than you think to get them all dry


I am thinking we’ll pull this recipe out in a month or two and see what else we can do with it.



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New blog I love: is the original blog.  There is still a lot og great stuff there to read; like her discussion on Classical Education for one.  Her current spot is

Interesting note:  the nativity in the photo on this blog entry:  is the same one I got our boys last year!!  right this moment it is on our hearth, set up correctly, for a short short amount of time before the angles have to fight off another alien invasion or the shepherds have to be rescued by Batman.

Another interesting note about the Nativity:  Apparently, according to Big Brother, the animals are not correct.  One day before Christmas Big Brother vas sitting with the nativity in deep thought.  I passed by and he called “momma” I stopped and vent to him ‘this set is all wrong, none of the animals have penises”.  I smiled and offered “maybe they are all girls” and vent on with my task.  A few minutes later Big Brother brought to me the ram (not originally in the set, but added last year) and said “momma this is a ram, a ram is a daddy sheep, a daddy sheep is a boy, boys have penises” and left.  No, I am not going to look for an automatically correct nativity for him. 

I am planning to spend some time over the next couple of weeks with Big Brother and this site:  we will be working our vay though the interaction practice option for all the preschool skills; and on into the Kindergarten skills if he gets that far.  I’d like to do an informal assessment, for myself, to see where his skills are, what he is strong at and what he needs more practice and emphasis on.  Just for guidance for the momma.  I think he is going to enjoy.

When the public schools start back up in January, Little Brother is going to double his classroom time from 2 hours a week to 4 hours a week.  This is a trail, I am not sure I really like him going more.  Monday and Thursday 8:30 to 10:30.  This is to give him more time with the SLP and also the classroom teacher.  They are both hitting communication skills really hard and he seems to be responding to them.  Big Brother is in classroom himself on Thursdays but Mondays when Little Brother is in classroom Big Brother and Momma are going to spend some time really working one-on-one of the activities that are so much more challenging with Little joining in. 

Yesterday the boys and I broke out a new set of dinosaur counters that Big Brother got for Christmas and did some sorting activities.  Big Brother sorted them in to color piles (red, yellow, blue and green) with ease, of course.  Then we counted and made lines.  Little Brother got his chance and for the first time ever he sorted, by color!!  He sorted all 20 dinosaurs into the four correct color piles.  Momma was so excited.  If you hold up two objects and ask him to point to the red one, or just ask him to find something red – he has yet to be able to comply correct with either request.  So I was really happy to see him, for the first time, sort objects based on color.  For our final activity I asked Big Brother to sort the dinosaurs based not on color but on style of creature (each color group has 1 each of five different dinosaurs); it took him a bit of time, but he may have just been playing, nevertheless he was successful on his fist try.  Our biggest challenge doing activities like this, or counting beans, or making pattern lines and so on is not by any means the skill itself, it is the silliness factor (SF) I have to battle constantly in both boys, if I get 3 to 5 good minutes before silliness takes over, and the small pieces start a war or whatever, it is a marvelous day.  SF effects our ability to play simple games like memory, Candyland or dominos; they have the ability to grasp and perform the game; they can’t control themselves.  I don’t expect them to sit still, or even sit but they get so physical and so ridiculous that many “age appropriate” games and activities become a exasperating exercise in the absurd.

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The Christ in Christmas and the Bible

Prophecy of Christ’s Birth, Genesis 3:15 

15 And I will put enmity
   between you and the woman,
   and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
   and you will strike his heel.”

 Star of Bethlehem, Numbers 24:17

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but now near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”

Virgin Birth Prophesied, Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Messiah Prophesied, Isaiah 9: 6

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Bethlehem Prophecy, Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, form ancient times.”

Christmas Anxieties, Matthew 1:20-21; Matthew 2:2-3

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins.”

“The Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”

 The Three Wise Men or The Magi, Matthew 2:16

“When Herod realized he was outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”

Christmas Greatest News, The Shepherds and the Angels, Luke 2:8-12; 13-14

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.””

Christmas, in Adoration of the Christ Child’s Birthday, Luke 2: 16-17

“So the [shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.”

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