Daily Conversations and Reading While Baking or Driving

I should have taken notes yesterday on what we were talking about, because I have now forgotten. I do remember that lately we have been on a metaphor theme – basically I’ve been giving my almost-8-year-old examples of metaphors in different sayings.

Examples, concrete real examples, make sense to both of us, and seem to really bring the point home.

She learns a great deal by the one-on-one discussions we have. I don’t realize it at first, but later, she will say something to another child or adult, and they will look at me with some level of surprise and comment that she is quite intelligent.

I think that all children are far more intelligent that often given credit for. And if you treat them like they have a big magnificent brain, then they often end up using it far more often than expected.

Lately we have been practicing reading – but in a sneaky sort of way.

“Emily, I need your help making these hamburger buns.”


“So I have this bowl, and I think it said I need flour. Can you check to see how much?”

Or …

“Emily, I need your help finding this place we have never been.”

“Okay Mama, give me the directions.” I hand her the Google map text directions, “Okay, we are on I-35 right now … you want exit 226B …”

She STILL resists reading. However, occasionally she will read something and be very excited. “Mama, I read that!” I continue to reassure her that reading will become more and more natural. I’m dealing with a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist – she resists it because she feels she is not perfect at it yet. It is tough to deal with sometimes.

But I am far more stubborn than anyone I know. I will persist!


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Did You Know You Can Find Me on Facebook?

I write … a lot … about a lot of different things. Gardening, cooking, crafts, homeschooling, and plenty more.

However, you will inevitably find links to more posts if you simply follow me on Facebook. I have pages for The Deadly Nightshade, The Homeschool Advocate and my writer page Christine Shuck all set up to catch my posts.

I don’t always come straight here to make a post on parenting or educational themes, although I do eventually land here to post as many pictures as possible.

But if you are interested in keeping a finger on the pulse of my activities – follow me on Facebook. Here is the link!: The Homeschool Advocate

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Mom’s Ice Chest Challenge


I’m participating in a mom’s ice chest challenge for four tickets to Schlitterbahn. Right in time for my eldest’ and her son’s visit! I love visiting Schlitterbahn … how about you? Are you ready for their new ride?!


Here is my favorite recipe to add to the ice chest when visiting a water park, camping, or other family event …

  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 oz sundried tomatoes in olive oil (don’t drain)
  • 2 rounded Tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper*
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (drained, but reserve 1/2 of the liquid and add back in to the desired consistency)

*Ground pepper just won’t do – get yourself a pepper mill and fill it full of peppercorns

Add ingredients one at a time into food processor and blend until smooth – flavors will intensify after being refrigerated.

Did you know that Schlitterbahn allows you to bring in your own ice chest? And has FREE parking?!

I haven’t been in two years, so I’m dying to go and enjoy a whole day in the park, with the huge lazy river, amazing rides and plenty of fun in the water and sun!

Grab a bag of pita chips from Aldi’s and go for it!

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Funny Stuff … and More Literacy!

For those of you not following me on Bubblews, here is the latest and greatest …

I Tried to Give It CPR

I decided that I would stay at home today and not bop about. Sometimes it feels as if every day we are busy going somewhere and honestly, I needed a bit of a break. Especially because the clutter/cleanliness quotient of the house were getting out of control.

With Emily now doing daily chores, I haven’t felt like I was keeping up my end of things. The kitchen was a mess and the vacuuming I have on the schedule to do on Sundays was still not done.

So we tidied up the upstairs and I vacuumed that. The stairs, which Emily had vacuumed on Sunday, were in good shape and I decided to thoroughly clean the kitchen before vacuuming the main floor.

It took a while. I decluttered, wiped everything down, cleaned the outsides of all the cabinets, and got the dishwasher running. As I began to vacuum the front entry, Emily dashed by me, running upstairs.

Later, when I had almost finished she came over and said, “Do you know why I ran past so quick?”

“You don’t like the loud vacuum?”

“No, I was trying to save a bug I had found being squashed by a plate in the homeschool room.” Still clad in only her underwear, she ran for the nearest door that she thought would not have anyone’s attention, the upper back deck.

“Did it make it?” I asked.

She shook her head sadly, “I even tried to give it CPR.”

I about laughed until I cried. I love that little girl!

Her First Letter

The kiddo has been fully focused on Language Arts this morning.

It started with breakfast and the new Lego magazine in the mail. As she ate her cereal, she paged through the magazine, commenting on some of the different builds. 

After breakfast she located a pen and began working on a symbol/word puzzle – one that shows different patterns for the different letters. You fill in the letter blanks to find the answer to the riddle.

Afterwards, she did a word search, which was also in the magazine and talked about how she wanted to go to Legoland California. We have a Legoland exhibit here in Kansas City and we discussed possibly taking her older sister and her son when they visit later this month.

“Mama, I’m going to go make a scroll.” She said, heading towards the homeschool room. I suggested she use the roll of butcher paper that is sitting on the table and I continued cleaning the kitchen and picking up the main level of the house.

A few minutes later she returned, scroll in hand. “Mama, read what I wrote!”

It was an honest-to-God letter to Tim (my grandson, and her nephew) and my eldest daughter. It had a few creative spelling issues here and there, but it was the first letter she had ever written completely on her own with no suggestions, guidance or other help.

I guess when the gates to literacy unlock, the floodwaters flow freely.

Telling her dad about it this afternoon got me all misty-eyed. I’ve wanted this for her for so long now. Her world has opened up in ways she is only now discovering – and I couldn’t be more happy or proud!

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The Perfect Age for Chores?

We have been implementing chores for nearly a full week now and I wanted to update everyone and talk about how it is going.

Verbal reminders are necessary – It is the first week, and it has quickly become my custom to ask over breakfast. “It’s [day of week] do you remember what your chore is?” She shakes her head, we look at the list (which is written in chalk on the door panels of the homeschool room) and she usually nods and tells me she will do it soon.

Once is usually all it takes – I remind her once, and typically that’s it. No arguing, no complaining, just time to get it done. She even cleaned her room (not messy at all since she hasn’t been playing in it recently) without a single complaint or argument or delaying tactic.

I’ve tied some tv into the queue – I told her that, sometimes, if she simply did her chores without any nagging, she could watch entertainment tv (instead of educational only) for a while. Since she is doing phenomenally well on reading (watch for my post on that soon), I feel better letting her watch some purely entertaining stuff.

She gets $5 in profit sharing – Each week, on a Sunday, she will get $5 to spend (or not spend) how she wants. I don’t consider it allowance and I don’t pay for chores, this is simply her portion of participation in profit from her position as a member of the household.

I don’t have to clean toilets at home anymore! – Terrible? Maybe. But I’ve got her cleaning our toilets on a weekly basis. I demonstrated how this past week with one toilet and the other one will happen today with my supervision. A couple of supervised times and she is on her own to complete it. My toilets will stay clean and she is learning how to do basic cleaning. So far she has been game – despite the ick factor – and I make sure she washes her hands thoroughly afterwards. Just in case!

It seems that 7 1/2 (nearly 8) is the perfect age for chores!

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Reading Progress With Clifford


As hard as it was for me to wait – NOW, this summer, and these past few weeks have been the absolutely PERFECT time for my young daughter to start reading.

A perfectionist (she comes by it naturally – on both sides) she needed to feel competent before jumping off of the deep end. And apparently, that train has now arrived at the station.

Last night we (well, SHE) read Clifford the Big Red Dog. Some of the Dolch sight words still give her difficulty, but for the most part, she is clearly and willingly reading. Small words, big words, all words. Her speed is improving as well.

When we began our evening reading program several weeks ago she was resistant to reading the whole book. This made sense, she was still feeling challenged by the books. So we negotiated. She would read a couple of pages, then me, then her, and so on. As we have seen the fluency grow, she has volunteered to read more and more. Often reading out loud with me as I have my turn.

Last night she began reading, and when it was my turn we both read aloud and I asked, “Would you like to read this book? Are we switching off? What do you prefer?”

“It’s easy, I can read the whole book myself,” she said, “Just correct me if I mess up, okay?”

And that is just what we did. She is doing phenomenally and I for one, am about the proudest and happiest mama around. It was so difficult to wait and we still have a ways to go until full fluency, but she is definitely on the right path.

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Voluntary Reading – A New Development


I will admit it, I have been on tenterhooks for years waiting for the reading to develop, encouraging, gently prodding at times, and holding myself back from trying to shove a love of the written word down my kid’s throat.

Yeah, that last bit never works.


Well, it does, but then you end up with folks who HATE and I do mean HATE to read.

I guess you could say that at times it felt as if it would be a choice between illiteracy and hating reading – and I figured the first one could be fixed better than the latter.


However, things are progressing well. Each night we read, during the day she often helps me by reading while navigating to new pools and new places. And as she feels more and more comfortable with the act of reading, the willingness to continue, to challenge herself to learn more and more words, continues to grow.

This morning, my daughter walked into my office with her birthday dog under her arm.

1-PE with glasses

No, not a real dog. A stuffed one she received at her first birthday that we wrote messages on.

“Mama, I think that Dan and Kurt gave me this birthday dog.”

“Why is that, sweetie?”


“Well, here it says K-U-R-T, and that spells Kurt.” She said, pointing to his name written on the dog. “And here is Dan’s name too.”

I told her that I had bought the dog for her first birthday party and everyone had signed it. She nodded, and then pointed to one of the messages, “I read the first part of this, but does this word say ‘great’?”

“Yes, sweetie, it does. Very good!”

Voluntary reading – it is a new development and very, VERY exciting. I am crossing my fingers that her curiosity will continue to grow and expand and that she WILL develop a deep love of reading.




Posted in Homeschool - Language Arts | Leave a comment

My Little Navigator

So I wrote in an earlier post (www.bubblews.com/news/3998318-i-miss-my-gps) about missing my TomTom – which I had for only three weeks before it was stolen. 

But I have at least a temporary solution, and it fits rather serendipitously with my efforts to get one erstwhile 7 ½ year old to read FLUENTLY.

So despite being an angry reader at times (www.bubblews.com/news/3951323-my-angry-reader), Emily is actually doing quite well. Fabulously well, as a matter of fact. Which is quite gratifying. Each evening she calls out, “Time to read!” and we cuddle up in bed and get to work.

And today, as I was getting ready to find one of the Overland Park pools (we have a pass to six of them, but are still trying to find our way around the area), I turned to her and said, “You are going to be my navigator.”

“Don’t I need to know how to read?” she asked.

“You know how to read at this point. Mainly smaller words, but you know how to puzzle them out. Take a look.” I showed her the printed out directions from Google Maps and began explaining different little details like abbreviations and other tips and tricks.

And today, she directed us to a new pool, learning along the way how to read the directions, recognize street abbreviations and more. She sounded quite proud of herself as we pulled into the parking lot of the pool and happily ran off into the water.

My little navigator did pretty darn well!

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My Angry Reader

Last week I put my foot down. No more hours of mindless television if you aren’t willing to try reading.

At seven, nearly eight, the kiddo can read, but it is with difficulty. Mainly those small words, and still plenty of twists and turns in our far from readable English language give her fits.

I can’t really blame her, English is a frustrating language to learn, even if it is your native tongue.

And while for the most part, she has really put her best foot forward, trying each night while cuddled up with me in bed, slowly working through the words on the page, occasionally it becomes rather frustrating.

“Why is there a ‘k’ in know?” she asked the other day, “Why not just n-o-w?”

“Well, technically speaking, the ‘w’ isn’t pronounced either, so it really shouldn’t belong there either.” I replied.

“Wait, don’t you spell ‘no’ n-o-w?”

“No, ‘no’ is spelled n-o. N-o-w is also a word, that spells ‘now.’”


“Are you an angry reader right now?”

“Grrrr! Yes! Why is English like this?”

“I have no idea, kiddo. Sometimes it makes no sense at all.”

She is reading, and doing better each day. But man, sometimes she is ANGRY about it!


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North Pole, South Pole

With the decision to NOT participate in the inner city literacy program in our area, I am now revisiting what homeschooling opportunities we should be focusing on.

The biggest focus continues to be child-driven, and mainly by questions.

Yesterday for instance was a discussion about the North Poles and South Poles. It went something like this:

Emily: Mama, the north pole is where polar bears and penguins are.

Me: Well, actually the penguins live near the south pole, the polar bears are up in the north.

Emily: Really? So what are the poles made of?

Me: Well, there aren’t really POLES, and I think it is primarily water in the north and an ice sheet over land in the south, but honestly I’m not sure. And there’s actually a magnetic north, which is different from a geographic north.

Emily: Why have two? Why not just one north?

Me: I honestly don’t know. Maybe I can find a documentary or something.

I found out that there is also a magnetic south pole (something I had never heard about before). So that means two north poles, two south poles, and me just confused. 

Anyone know of some good documentaries we could watch on the subject?

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