Monthly Archives: June 2011

Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child’s Unique Learning Style (review)

Not worth the time to read.  Sadly.  Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child’s Unique Learning Style (School Savvy Kids) is a very very very basic introduction to the three basic learning styles (kinetic, auditory and visual). 

Honestly I can see it being useful to give to a Junior High level student as a discussion of different learning styles, the acceptance of them, and the ‘you just need to alter your approach to fit yours’ concept.  However it simple offers nothing to an adult / parent.

It is a fast read, and easy read (again maybe Junior High reading level, I am sure I could have sped though it in Grade school) but there is just no meat, no substance.  Many cute stories about kids that were failing every spelling test until a mom recorded their spelling words on a tape, gave them a walkman and hand them match up and down the stairs to the beat of their spelling drills; beyond that everything vas common sense and rudimentary.  Ants in Their Pants by Aerial Cross is a much better book if you are looking for suggestions on ‘altering the approach to assignments / material presentation’ especially to allow a child to get up and move, but also to make visual images and the like. 

I got it off, so I did not waste the $10.39 is asking for it.  I’ll post it back on to PBS and get a different book.  That is the joy of – no guilt for the books that don’t turn out as you hope.



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I love this message

In reading today I came across, again, the letter Sarah Palin crafted for her family, about Trig.   Originally this message came out in the “secret e-mail” scandal.  The UK Daily Mail printed it; a letter Palin sent to her family; framed as a message about the blessing of Trig from God. 

I simply can not read this message and not cry.  I had to share it here, for all my momma buddies.  it is not new and i did not create it, but i do love it.

To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!):

I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I’ve heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I’ve answered them because I only want the best for you!

I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up. Though another girl would be so nice, you didn’t think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!

Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be “Trig”, because it’s so fitting, with two Norse meanings: “True” and “Brave Victory”. You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!

Then, I let Trig’s mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news – that way Piper wouldn’t have so long to wait and count down so many days – just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palins look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days… you all really like cake .) I know you, I knew you’d be better off with just a short time to wait!

Then, finally, I let Trig’s mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing . But I gave Trig’ s mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

I’ve given Trig’s mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. I’ll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig’s challenges, but I won’t impose on you…

I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig’s life a great one.

This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters . The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven’t experienced yet. He’ll show you what “true, brave victory” really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is “normal” or “perfect”. You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.

Trig will be his dad’s little buddy and he’ll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He’ll love to be read to, he’ll want to play goalie, and he’ll steal his mom’s heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did. And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for in fact Trig will – in some diagnostic ways – always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it “Down’s Syndrome”, and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!

Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!

Trig’s mom and dad don’t want people to focus on the baby’s extra chromosome. They’re human, so they haven’t known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I’m giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family. Many people won’t understand… and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won’t be considered “perfect” in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider “perfect” or even “normal” anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as “perfect” on t.v.? Have you noticed I make `em all shapes and sizes? Believe me ,, there is no “perfect”!)

Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.

I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!”

I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book ! Look it up! You claim that you believe me – now it’s time to live out that belief!

Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won’t give you anything you can’t handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can’t wait to meet you. I’m giving you ONLY THE BEST!


Trig’s Creator , Your Heavenly Father


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fishing as a life skill

Both our boys love to go fish with daddy.  Little Brother, I think, more so than Big Brother.  I strong encourage this love, despite not really being so excited myself about standing in tall grass on the edge of muddy water constantly worried about one or both boys falling in, and the bugs too, but mothering is not about me it is about the boys.

Fishing teaches so many indispensable life skills for the boys (for all children, and all adults for that matter) vital skills that are not fun to learn or practice, fishing sneaks them in without the boys realizing they are learning life skills.  Ah the best way to learn, on the sly.  

Fishing required patience, calm, a quiet settled self; fish must be waited on and not startled, they can not be argued or bullied and do not give in the whining, the skill must be there or the fish will not.  Fishing required order and attention to detail and care of your tools; fishing poles and hook can not be tossed about or they tangle and you hurt yourself on random shapes.

Being slow, being precise, being intentional, being still; all inherently necessary in fishing are essential skills for a successful life.  They are also skills that facilitate an active relationship with God.  As the body stills, as time is cut a way to just be and wait upon the fickle fish God can be sought and contemplated; in the still silence, in the quiet of body and mind God’s voice can be heard.

These photos are from early June of this year and the FIRST FISH MOMMA caught.


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Sight Words, Reading and Word Families

We all know the old war of reading; sight words vs phonic, whole language vs phonic and so on. I have chosen to take a varied approach with our boys. We read a great deal and have a mass of books thus meeting the “rich print environment” and the “submerge them in real literature” aspects of the whole language approach (and I have a labeling obsession too). However, I admit THAT has very little to do with learning to read, and is more an aspect of our family, our parenting and our desire for the boys to love to read, rather than how we hope they will learn to read. Big Brother and I are working though a traditional phonics study, and plan to stay at it till at least 3rd (adding spelling in 1st grade) to ensure a strong and functional ability to decode, not guess at, unfamiliar words quickly and confidently as they are encountered. I have also chosen to practice ‘sight words’ with Big Brother (and Little Brother also) though we will not be depending on memorization in place of decoding and phonics as an approach to reading. Nevertheless the evidence that sight words can effect fluency of reading is strong and many English words ‘break the phonics rules’ and have to be learned outside the decoding of phonics.


A word about sight words:


A list of English sight words, The Dolch Word List, was compiled by Edward William Dolch, PhD, in 1948. The list was originally published in his book ”

Problems in Reading“. Dolch compiled the list based on words used in children’s reading books in the 1930s and 40s. The list contains 220 “service words” that must be quickly recognized in order to achieve reading fluency.

The Dolch Word List is also called Sight Words or The Dolch 220. It includes the most frequently used words in the English language. Sight words make up 50 to 70 percent of any general text.

Big Brother is able to decode simple CVC words at this point, but it not ready to dive into even the simplest easy readers. What he does need, and is ready for, is practice, practice, and more practice with CVC words. I have decided to print several sight words and also word family flash cards to use for reading practice.


For more reading practice I printed the following flashcards on card stock:

  • – I chose this page of word cards because it offered short vowel practice – a list for each of the five main vowels and then 2 cards that are mixes. All work phonically and are solid practice on “decoding” or “sounding words out”. 
  •– set one, two and three – the Pre-Primer (pre-school) list of Dolch Sight Words. We did not do sight words for pre-school so we will work on mastering this list, then move on to the Kindergarten list. There are many options for printing the DSW from, I chose this one as they are simple flashcards, no pictures, and I liked the size.
  • – I chose to print only 3 word families to start with (In addition to the other flashcards I printed, that is). The an, ap, and at families. I will return and print the other sets. (to get to the flashcards, choose the activities option for each set). I do not like that there are only 6 flashcards for each set, but I can make more later (or find others).

This printing gives us quite a stack of word cards for Big Brother to start practicing.


I then cut the cards apart and laminated them for repeated use and “play”. Both my boys like to be able to handle things, and I’d like the cards to last. After we master reading them, I can see them being used for alphabetical order dills and so on.

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Great Day to be a KID at the PARK

We went to the park in Winterset;  it is a really nice park, a ton of mature trees, spread out, we always have a good time there. 

we did the playground, the covered bridge, the stone bridge, the maze and stone tower (photo here) , they are listed to look like they are at different parks, but they in one large area and you walk between them (not the stone tower, it in the same park, but a 3 mile drive on gravel, so that we did drive).  We packed a cooler, a big bag of treats, a blanket and set off for the day.  The kids did the maze over and over again, ran hard and got hot.  Many snacks and drinks were consumed, and a lot of good easy childhood fun was had.  At the tower all five of the kids had a blast playing Princess Guard and chasing the bad guy, exploring, and they even tolerated poses for photos. 

It was a milestone day for my boys – the first time EVER they got to stop the ice cream truck and get a treat.  It was a mistake; sadly, as Big Brother had an allergic reaction to a treat I knew he should not have; and his mood really suffered that day and the next too, but not as much as it could have.  BUT, there was nothing better for him there, and I just did not have the heart to tell him he alone could not get something.  I almost just said NO to stopping the truck, and should have, but all five kids were looking at me and the other three (not mine) have gotten treats from the Ice Cream Man before and thus got happy and excited when we heard him coming though the park).  Next time I’ll just have to be the mean momma that I am and tell them NO.  All five kids really enjoyed their treat, and my boys thought it was great to get to stop the truck and choose something.  We’ve done it once, they had their Milestone, from now on I’ll just have to say NO (like I kinda knew I should this time, but gave in to my own heart as well as the kids).  I get tired of being the Mean Momma, but it is necessary, and no one ever said being a Momma meant all fun and easy choices.  

Coolest part, we were able to get a couple of good photos of all five kids.  Trust me, if you saw the 100 plus bad photos I have of all five kids you’d understand the significance of this.  All summer (our trip there, this trip they made here) I have been working on this task, at zoos and parks and Bass Pro and at both houses; finally!

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Catching up on photos

These are some random photos from my dear friend Michelle’s visit.  Remember her three kids are my Godchildren; and my Goddaughter is only two days younger than Little Brother.

Little Sister sure takes a great photo — I’d claim her if I could. 

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the pool and a couple of thought on bathing suits

First I’ll address the issue that’s obvious given all my previous posts on modesty.  BATHING SUITS.  I feel beyond the merits of modestly as a life choice, a more modest suit allows for more movement, more freedom, more enjoyment; especially for an active mom playing with and chasing kids, not sunning for the guys on the pool side.   The pool and other bathing occasions also gives a person a very unmistakable opportunity to make a visual statement about their “stance on modesty”  It is easy to talk about modest suits, but then what do you choose to buy or wear?  Summer is a real chance to make a testimony with our choices; do we stick to the guns that are so easy in winter, or do we get lazy?




Ok, MY suit:  I freely admit that I am not really happy with it.  I got it in 2004 and have worn it though 2 pregnancies and nursed 2 boys in it.  I’d love a swim-dress more like this – but they are expensive and I try not to spend a lot of money of clothing and so on for me; also they’d be special order (that is bought on-line or something) and I hate to buy clothing that way especially something that needs to fit like a bathing suit.  In general I do not like buying clothing I can’t try one, and since I am tall and have a long torso getting bathing suits is particularly challenging.  Not something as elaborate as this but something more like a skirt like this but INCLUDING shorts.  Maybe the JULEIT option here:  I really LIKE these suits:  BUT I do not like the fabric; I’d choose a solid color myself.  So, anyhow I have not made that investment.  Also considering “UV Clothing” a nice ¾ “rash guard” shirt  would be perfect if I could find a nice skirted bottom for it.

I have yet to make that investment; but I will, I think, next time I get a suit.  I am pretty happy with the skirt I have on my green suit, it is longer than any of the other suits a with skirts I have tried on, so that is nice and the bottoms come up to my waist, they do not just hang on my hips.  The top is a problem.  It just doesn’t fit like it did when I bought it, it doesn’t cover my tummy as well as I’d like as I play with the boys and I’d like the neck line to be higher.  Now that Little Brother rarely nurses out and about, and I do not need to worry as much about access as much (I miss that, to be honest).  I think I am going to try something new.  I have a one piece bathing suit with a much higher neck, better coverage at the arms and on the back, it is black; it did not fit when I was pregnant and did not offer the necessary access for nursing; so I have not been wearing it.  I am thinking of wearing it and the green swim skirt over it for this year.  I need the skirt; I feel the bottom really needs to be covered.  Nevertheless I’d like better coverage up top.  So that is my plan, then maybe for Christmas or next Birthday I’ll ask Hubby for a new bathing suit (after all it has been since 2004, I did get one at target in 2007 but it doesn’t fit well and is in practice less modest than the green one). 

Last year was the first year for the remodeled aqua center here in our local little town.  I did not brave the pool alone with both boys last year, but we’ve been twice this year.  I decided to get a family membership after our first visit.  The children’s shallow area is really big; there is a zero entry area and a AMAZING water slide for the littles’ (that parents can go on with them too).  The slide falls into one foot of water and has a pad under it.  Both boys can do the slide and keep their head out of the water, if they choose, but both feel comfortable enough to ‘go under’ at the bottom and pop right up without fear.  Little has to go for the first time on my lap, but after that he is off like a shot.  Both boys love the slide, but especially Little Brother.  Little Brother is the Energizer Bunny down the slide, over, up the steps, down the slide, repeat, repeat, repeat, practically non-stop. 




Yes my boys wear swim shirts and the longest trunks I can find them.  Not just for sun protections either, the boy’s bodies are no more for public display than mine or any girls’ is.  I desire for my boys to take care of, respect and protect their body just as I would want a daughter to.  They are there to play and have fun, not to have to worry about their bodies or their clothing. 

I plan to get to the pool at least once a week and would be happy to make it 2 or three times.  Big Brother has gotten to play with kids he knew from classroom and Little Brother has gotten to interact and play too.  Both really enjoy it, and the set of the pool allows for me to play and enjoy too, not just chase kids and battle wills all the visit.

Photos all thanks to Auntie Roo.  THANKS




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starting a worm farm


Boys and worms is there any love more true or predictable?

The boys love worms and worms are very useful we drown many of them in efforts to catch fish, we watch them, we put them in the compost, and in the garden.

I decided, in the name of science, to make the boy a worm farm.  Ok to make a worm farm with the boys, but let’s be realistic, Momma is making the worm farm.

Aware I could make a worm farm in a big Rubbermaid tubbie bedded with newspaper I set of to search the Net for a bit more specific directions.


Interesting worm trivia: Earth worms have no lungs or gills. They breathe through their skin. Eggs are laid in a cuff-like structure called the clitellum. Each earth worm segment or annulus except the first and last has four pairs of tiny bristles called setae. Earthworms range in size from 1 millimeter to 3 meters long!



The basics.  (also a great science site for other ideas and activities, we’ll be returning here).


 Many sites (like suggest NOT using night crawlers, but we are going to.  Nevertheless, it seems to me that just as many sites suggest using them, since you can buy them with ease at any bait shop.  I bought some today at our local bait shop, as I have before to add to the compost pile. 

I chose to follow the directions and advice on www.planetkids.bizHERE:

At we focus on making the complex issues understandable.
Here you can find a range of clear, colourful, humorous and accurate resources to help everyone understand the major environmental challenges we face.


I have not read the entire site, but I do like the clear and easy style in which the projects are presented.  The directions are to / for the children, but are not dumbed down to the point they are silly.  I found them great. 

Worms brought home after our trip to the post office I discussed the plan with the boys.

We took an older tubbie that still had a top, but a top that was warped and did not fit great.  Daddy pitched in by drilling holes in the lid and around the top of the tubbie itself.  Air movement is important.

The boys and I shredded newspaper for the bedding.  Shredding newspaper is a great fine motor skill practice (shhh).  It builds strength and control.  I was, frankly, amazed how much trouble the boys both had with actually gripping paper in thumbs and first fingers and tearing it, not just pulling at it.  I admit Momma shredded most of it; but Big Brother sat with me a long time and worked hard.

After the paper we filled two small pails with dirt from the garden and poured that in.  Momma got the job of hosing the mix until “moistened so it is as wet as a wrung out sponge”.   Both boys really really really desired THAT job!! But the point is not a swimming pool for worms.  After that we dumped in the worms!!

At the point the worms got added, more bedding was needed but I chose to go on and add the worms while the boys were still interested; adding additional bedding later.

Supposedly “The worms will reproduce about every 60 days” – That remains to be seen.   They are in the basement, where it is cool enough, they have damp newspaper and some dirt and some egg shells.  Now to wait…

 The lucky pioneers.  The startes!!!

 Little Brother poking at the starters.

 Add dirt…

  and the pioneers get tossed in to their fate…

 The happy little farm…

For families that do not live on 33 acres, do not have need for a full farm, nor space for it; or for parents that really can’t get into making and maintaining a full farm: is a great idea on how to do a small short term farm for observation with out the full commitment.  Might be a good options for a family in an apartment ort small house in the ‘burbs. is the same idea, but I think the first link does a better job of explaining it.   I am thinking of doing this, too, because they boys would be able to see the worms more, and see the tunnels and so on – more of an observation opportunity.

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catching up: art

While my three Godchildren were here with there momma, I had three art projects planned out for the kids.  We were blessed with AMAZING weather while they were here:  Michelle and I were able to take the kids to two parks, to a pool and to the zoo.  Thus, only one art project got done.   

We made Father’s Day sun catchers.  All five kids made one, and Michelle and I did too, later, the kids needed enough help she and I could not do ours with them like we planned.

Michelle and I prepped this project.  I made the paint ice; we used tempera paint mixed with water, not water colors; because I have tempera paint and do not have water colors in power form, great reason huh?  So, the colored ice is sitting in the deep freeze waiting, I’ll either use it with the boys some hot day, or save it till Michelle and the kids are back in August. 

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“Just a spoon full of sugar…”

Every mothers’ hero, Mary Poppins, expressed a universal truth especially applicable to parenthood when she said “in every job that must be done, there exists an element of fun.”

Today Daddy and I decided to take the boys and take the tractor and wagon and go gather up some of the bigger rocks ‘uncovered’ by the grass burn we did back in April.  In the next week the fields are going to have grass re-planted and this was the best time to go gather nativce rocks for our landscaping.  Now I ask you how does this statement sound to you:

“ok boys let’s go out in the hot sun and pick up rocks”

Not so great, huh, even to a 3 and 5 year old boy.  However try this one:

“ok boys, we are going on an expedition this afternoon.  We are taking the wagon and going out to the back of field and looking for dinosaur eggs and dragon bones.”

They were excited.  Daddy made our wagon (that he made himself for hay rides) into a covered wagon for us and off we went.  They boys got to practice working hard, pushing themselves and team effort.  As we rolled through the fields we talked able our ancestors and the settlers of this country heading off west with everything they owned in covered wagons pulled by horses or oxen.  We talked about moving from a house off to a field, and getting there and having to start over, no plowed fields, no well, no HOUSE, no store. 

We took time to remind ourselves that all of this land is God’s glorious creation, crafted for our use but not our abuse.  We reviewed the terms good steward and good stewardship, and we gave example of good and bad treatment of God’s creation. 

We spent about 90 minutes picking up rocks daddy had previously piled up and also digging out of a terrace many more.  Both boys worked hard; till they were sweaty, red face and dirty.  They took turns yelling out for us all to admire the rock they had found, and Big Brother valiantly carried to the wagon some stones melon sized.

We found a great shed antler from one of the local deer; and the boys had a long discussion about whether or not it was a dragon claw or the bones from a dragon wing.  It is a sizable shed and we wish we could have found the other one, or better yet put that buck in the freezer.

We came home and the boys got to hose off, and play in the water; then crashed for the night easy and a bit early even. 

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