Sunday, March 25, 2012

Living With Dyslexia

Continuing on my series of blogs posts about literacy I thought I'd share what it is like to actually live with a Learning Disability.  I have 2 :-) One is a form of dyslexia where I invert numbers and letters. The other is a a short term memory loss issue.  I'll write a post on how that effects one quality of life later. :-P

if i was to tyep with out uisng spell chekc or goin gback an noorecting all my mistakes you woudl see all teh mistakes i make in jus tone stenence.  No I did not fake that... that is really truly what it looks like when I type. Go ahead MMORPG friends tell em you awarded me a typo cape... Isn't it pretty? 

I'll never be a typist. If my high school  typing teacher hadn't taken me by the hand and give me extra credit work, I would have never passed. He was a really nice guy, he gave me an A for effort, and sheer determination.  Even Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing can't help me.  My best score is 30 WPM with a 70% accuracy. What I really hate is, the more I practice, the weirder the errors become.  If I finally get my fingers to remember G is on the left hand, suddenly I'm typing H's instead of  G's! Why is my right hand reacting???HUH??? how does that happen. I have no clue!! my body is seriously miss-wired.

When I was in Mrs. Blacks class in 2nd grade, I remember getting my spelling test back from her. I saw I had spelled every word wrong. I had studied, and studied, and studied!!! It was so not fair.  I followed her around the classroom begging her to look again. Saying "Every word has all the letters"  10 words all spelled wrong yet only containing the letters they are made from. RED FLAG people... instead of help all I saw was the back of her dress, as she ignored my rather obnoxious pleas for a better grade.

My childhood was filled with tape cassettes of spelling words my father lovingly made up for me. Every day I had to listen to him spelling the word saying the word then a pause for me to write the word correctly... then spelling it again for me to see if I spelled it right. When I did this every day for a week I would pass.  No! I would not get an A a measly C- is what I would bring home.  I always wondered, if it was worth all the effort I had to put into it.  I never thought an A was possible. I just couldn't spell. Rote memorization was the method that worked enough to get me to pass.

I wonder how I would have learned to read if I had been taught using a phonics program.  When I took over teaching Sweet Potato to read around lesson 30 in 100EZ lessons I marveled... wow is that why it makes that sound. I spent a year learning as much as my child. You see our school used the whole word method. I remember memorizing whole words as the only thing I understood about reading.  Thank goodness because I'm an avid reader. I love to read. But for years I called sword "s-w-ord"  much to the amusement of my brother.  But would I have been able to learn to read if I had to parse the words??

In class, we would have to get up and read aloud. I would stand up and start reading... waiting for the teacher to "yell" at me to stop wasting class time. (I'm sure she wasn't yelling and I bet to high heaven I had auditory processing issues to boot, because any loud voice was Yelling in my world.)   Yet again I was not reading my paragraph correctly.  Yup one or 2 sentences in she would tell me in disgust to just sit down.
Years later like 20 years later when I went to a specialist in optometry for dyslexia, he was testing me and as I read aloud he would nod and circle nod and circle. My dear old eyes will follow a break in the words and jump up and grab a word directly above it insert it into my reading as smooth as silk. I knew I was reading all the words I saw but somehow they didn't make sense.  I'd be thinking "Why is there an extra "and" in this sentence?"  As a child I just learned to ignore words that intruded themselves upon me.  But by the time I was working my job required me to proof read my work  (Oh yeah that was smart. let's give the dyslexic proofreading to do that will be fun to watch.) 99.9% of the time I needed, a third pair of eyes on my work or "sausage" was spelled "suasgae."  I needed help.

Hence the visit to the Dyslexia Optometrist. He made me do all these weird exercises, light therapy, etc... I found out I was hardly using my right eye and that my peripheral vision in that one was really bad. Like was I in a car accident bad...  Um I figured out what caused that, Mom I know your reading this blog... remember the big Maple tree in the front of the house, next to the creek. Well I climbed up that one day when I was 13, and you were out convincing people to get tested for cancer. I fell out of it. Just like in the cartoons bouncing from branch to branch I was at least 2 stories high. I landed on that 2ft swath of grass you know the tiny patch of grass between the asphalt driveway and the concrete... smack on my right side... then just like in the cartoons I rolled into the rock garden and bounced down into the concrete creek culvert. I lay there unable to move in a half inch of water. Thinking to myself... "Good thing I'm face up or I'd be drowning right now. I don't think I'll tell anyone about this, as it was such a Stooopid thing to do!!!" after a few minutes (AKA forever!) I was able to get up. Nothing was in screaming pain, just dull pain, I washed all my algae covered clothes and took a shower before you got home.

So after I got help as an adult it was more manageable, but I still can't tell when a word is spelled right. Tho one bad thing about macs is the spell checker learns your unique words and starts adding them into your dictionary. I knew I was in trouble when it started accepting teh and intuited it was one of my unique words. nooooooooooo!  Some  people can look at a word and just know it's spelled right.  Not I! All words need to be checked and re-checked, thank goodness for spell checker, it makes blogging easier :-)

So if I've amused you today :-) donate a few $$ for women's literacy here: and make my day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tandoori Chicken In A Grill

So as you all know by now I don't own a tandoor. I really like tandoori chicken. Do I have to resort to BBQ Tonight's take out menu??? if I want authentic tandoori chicken at home? The answer my friend is in your charcoal grill.

Years ago Cooks Illustrated explained how offset cooking in your grill can create a dry low and slow BBQ effect. One need not own a smoker to get smoked meat. How it works is you create a hot spot in your grill and put your meat around it. None of the meat should be placed directly over the coals.
I had a lot of chicken, and I worry about chicken I really wanted it cooked thoroughly and as authentically as possible. So I choose to keep my coals in the middle of my grill. I then placed the chicken legs as close to the heat as I could, I crowded it all in. I did have some of the ends of the legs poking a bit over the hot coals. When they got a bit charred on the end I wasn't worried.

Once all the chicken was on I shut the lid and walked off and prepared spiced cauliflower. After 15 minutes I came back and shifted a few pieces. I continued to rotate the chicken larger pieces closer to the heat moving smaller pieces away. I found I did not need to turn the chicken at all. So the yummy yogurt marinade clung to the chicken and created that nice dry coating with a tender juicey interior.

My recipe for the marinade is 2 fold due to me watching some swami of Indian cooking on YouTube. The night before I skinned the chicken and put the required 4 slashes in the meat.
Then I took:
4 Teaspoons of Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon red hot chili powder
2 Tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
a few dashes of ground sea salt. And mixed all the chicken up in this marinade. Then I took 8 oz. of yogurt (Brown Cow) and placed it in a coffee filter lined sieve on a upturned bowl inside a bigger bowl. I suppose one could have just used Greek style yogurt. But I really like the taste of Brown Cow. Now the Cooking Swami said this step was essential if you wanted your marinade to really stick.

He was right the next morning I added  to the drained yogurt in a big bowl!
a 2 second pour of mustard oil
2 Tablespoons of Garam Masala
1 teaspoon of regular chili powder
a dash of cumin,
and a tablespoon of paprika for red color without resorting to red food coloring.
Another 3 heaping spoonfuls of garlic ginger paste
 a dash of black salt,
a teaspoon of sea salt
and blended well.

I dipped the pieces of chicken in the marinade and made sure to work the mix into the chicken slits.
Now I was out of prep gloves. I recommend wearing gloves to do this part as the chili oil can make your fingers feel spicy! If like me you need to make due, you can coat your hands in oil. Before plunging them into the mixture. I find this protects your skin quite a bit. Lots of soap in cool water to get it off later. Don't use hot as it may open your pores up to the capsaicin still on your hands. 

You need to marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes I did it for 2 more hours.

Once I got the chicken on the moderate grill, spaced out, not over any coals. It took about 2 hours to cook. With me checking on it every 15-20 minutes. Even the breast meat did not dry out. Low and slow worked perfectly.

You really want to keep the lid down and have sufficient charcoal to burn for a long time. I used about 20 blocks for the naan (see previous post) and to those white hot coals I added at least another 50 more pieces. These burned up slowly over 4 hours so I could have used less.  After the chicken had a good crust on them. I plucked a few oak twigs from my tree and put them on top of the grill right over the coals. These gave off a nice smoke and added that authentic touch.

I hope you give my method a try and see if you to can have that authentic dry coating juicy inside tandoori style chicken at home. If not BBQ tonight still does takeout.

An Experiment With Naan

For those of you foodies out there that Love Naan... and don't own a tandoor!!! Home cooked naan can be a serious problem.

I love the taste of home made Naan, but not having a tandoor! I have resorted for years to a smoky house and pulling all the batteries out of the smoke detectors before I commenced cooking.  Cooking it in the oven just doesn't cut it. Stove top cooking is do-able but also lacks that cooked over coals flavor.  So today I have played around with Naan and Tandoori Chicken  (You will have to wait for my next blog post to find out how I faked a tandoor with my roadside grill).  Today's Blog is about Naan that chewy, lovely, yummy, buttery, garlicy, super special bread from India... I love so much!!!

You may notice my missionary style grill... its a roadside recycle :-) a gift from a man with a truck, who knew we didn't own a "real" grill... we added the bolted on handle and rearranged the stuff inside to make a recycled charcoal grill.  Also, I love my Tortilla griddle but alas it does have a crack in it and I have a new griddle I don't love as much, so I keep my old one around. Because its so handy to use in these types of situations and my Mommy gave it to me, and I think of her when I use it. Thanks Mom!  

Use your favorite Naan Recipe and if you have my old one could you send it to me??? I didn't like this recipe as much as my old one from 2003 but alas my email server purged it and Recipezaar seems to have become some other website! So I'm not sharing the recipe here, just the technique on how to cook Naan without a tandoor.

1. Get coals nice n' hot
2. Put on a griddle so you have a good flat surface for the naan to stick too. Close lid and let the griddle get really hot.
3. Roll out naan, open up your grill and toss naan on griddle, close lid.
4. Pre roll another naan peeking at your naan, half way though your rolling out the next one.
5. Flip naan if it is starting to puff, and it looks happy.
6. Brush on butter, close lid.
7. Finish rolling out naan... if you can before the one on the griddle finishes cooking...
8. Open grill and pull off perfectly cooked naan.
9. Use tongs and wet towel to remove any burnt flour or butter from griddle.
Repeat till your out of dough.

Special Thanks to my Knight in Shining Armor for stitching together all those segments of naan cookery. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spinach Curry Soup

Today is my Play in Cafe day. I get to go in to the ministry and make food for the staff that choose to eat in-house.  We have a few vegans who always come down, and many of the staff like to eat healthy.  We had lots of soups today perfect for a nice rainy day!

Usually our lentil soup is vegan but we had lots of ham left over at Christmas and some of it made it into today's offerings.  We discovered that this was the last of the last batch of lentil with Ham in it! oops can't serve that to the vegans. 

One of the other staff members donated a big bag of spinach. But oh no we aren't "Officially" cooking till next Wednesday, and we had more spinach than we could use up in the salad bowl. 

So I asked if I could make a vegan soup out of this and that... I got permission yippie! and put on my thinking cap. After a glance around the fridge and stock room. I knew I had to use up the spinach, and we always have canned black beans... and yes we still had Dried Shiitake Mushrooms... this bag of mushrooms is like Elijah's bin of flour every time I look in there there is another handful... I really did use all of them up this time tho.  

So here is how I made today's Spinach Curry soup. Which we had to pull out of the line and save the last bit... because all the non-vegans were gobbling it up.  LOL 

Take a cup of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms and add to
4 cups of warm water.
Add in the following spices:
Basic curry powder Sweet (2 big dollops) what you were expecting measurements???
Cayenne Pepper (a few hard shakes)
Black pepper to taste (more than a tablespoonful) 
Garlic powder (shake shake shake it up baby lots o garlic) 
Onion powder (Enough so you don't have to use onions, but the taste of onion is not overwhelming) 
Some Cumin Powder.
and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. 
let sit for 15 minutes. 
In a food processor add in 
2 pounds of Spinach by handfuls till it's finely chopped, not pureed but no big pieces.

Pour off the spiced mushroom water into a pot and start to heat it up. 
Add in the spinach and mushrooms when it is simmering.   Once the mushrooms are cooked add in 
1 can of black beans (washed no juice). 

Now I discovered while in the bowl a bit of sour cream really made this a treat to eat.... but that is not vegan! So If I was to make this on purpose again and keep it vegan I would add in coconut milk, a bit of fat is exactly what is needed to round out the flavors in this recipe. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Lesson in Enjoying the Journey

My good friend C invited me to go camping with her this weekend. and since it's pure luxury camping in a pop up tent camper I was excited. But Sweet Potato couldn't come because we have no electricity for her vest. Shes not a big fan of camping when its not in a cabin.  So Little Miss Sunshine was planning on a sleepover and pulled the I have a previous commitment on me. (whoa shes learning manners)  My Knight in Shining Armour thought wow I can play music as loud as I want to this weekend Have fun Honi go play out in the dirt...

Off I went with the help of a few baby sitters I was able to get on the road at 11am on Friday.. but then I had to pick up X and Y and Z and it was 12 by the time I hit the highway. An hour and a half later I'm thinking "Why does everything look familiar but wrong some how?" then I have a Bugs Bunny moment, you know when he pops up his head  from the hole looks at his map and says "Maybe I shouldn't have taken that left turn at Albuquerque."  Realizing the error of my ways... I'm on the road to A camp ground which is why every thing looks familiar just not on the right road. I'm 30 miles north of my destination... So I turn around cause I'm in TX in one of those You can't get here from there places, or so my map says. It looks like a good hour of back tracking...  I  promptly blow a tire.

Can you picture this?  *Hello you have reached AAA how can I help you?  I have a flat and need assistance... Ok I'll get someone out there right away, where are you located?  I have no Idea I'm lost!!! LOL! I'm on highway X headed east and I can see a sign in the distance for exit Y... Laughter.... Don't worry I get calls like this all the time... *

A side note here: If I had checked my tire pressure before I left I probably wouldn't have lost my tire. It was low due to the highs and low temperature changes we have been having lately. So before you hop in your car for a short 1 hour journey that you don't plan on making a 3 hour journey by getting lost, check your tire pressure... 

Thank you to my Knight in Shining Armour My phone was topped up and I could actually call AAA and get a rescue. Where I was on the high way I could not change that tire by myself.  If I had managed to crack the nut holding the doughnut in place... well it had been in there for 15 years and this was the first time anyone has ever tried to take it off...  So I pulled out my handy dandy classic Oliver Twist and settled down on the verge to wait. Lots of very nice ladies pulled over and asked if I needed water, help, a phone. Texas is so friendly.

So I'm all changed Doughnut is on I'm headed to Discount Tire In Greenville (excellent customer service) AAA has pinpointed my location and the guy was able to give me clear instructions on how to get  where I needed to go...  As I turn into the tire place the Doughnut dies Wooo hoo it got me here!!! hey it was 15 years old...

30 minutes later I'm on my way. How did that happen so fast? I have 2 new tires and a full size spare because the staff at Discount Tire were so incredibly sweet and made it possible for me to be safe at a price I could afford.

I arrived at my destination 4 hours later than I has expected but still happy.  Because I enjoyed the journey as much as my destination.  Take it from me vacation starts when you start your journey to it not when you arrive. :-)  

It was a great thing to think on as I was driving, I compared it to our adoption journey. My children are going to have flat tires and get lost along the way so we should enjoy the green grass and sunshine when we can. Even if semis are zooming by at 80 miles an hour behind you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Terrible Tympanogram

If you want to know in detail what a Tympanogram is you can see it here:

Speech acquisition was really slow with Sweet potato as a child, often her speech was slurred. and indistinct. I took her regularly to the doctor and every time everything with her ears checked out A.O.K.

After years of speech therapy and much diligence she started to speak properly.  This is a first step in learning to read. Saying the words right is important to being able to recognize those words when she is blending.

So after many rounds of Doctors to try and see why she still coughs so much. Jan Bedell told me to specifically ask for a Tympanogram. She had a sneaking suspicion all was not right inside Sweet Potatoes ears. She was right.

Today's visit to the ENT sounded like this:
Mom: Can you check her ears? She is complaining about them.
DR.: Sure thing, ooo nice and clean mom. I don't think the problem is there, I bet it's just sinus pressure she's really swollen. Lets try and even stronger Allergy medicine now that she is 12.
Mom: Can you do a Tympanogram? Her therapist is concerned her speech is slurred and wants to make sure all is ok in the middle ear.
DR.: Yes but I'm sure everything is fine. those tubes just finished growing out.
15 minutes later after a simple test.
Mom: So what is this graph showing? its all flat and is highlighted, again...
Dr.: Well... the graph should like an A  going up and down.
Mom: This looks like and EM dash not an A.... (ok I really didn't say that I just thought it)
Dr: And well this is bad it shows her inner ear is full of fluid. That can cause her to not be able to hear well. the sound is going through some pretty thick liquid. We are going to have to go in and clean them out and put tubes in her ears to keep it dry. Were looking at surgery this is not a good chart at all... Good premonition Mom... *picture my face if you dare* All I can remember is all the lost ear plugs, and no submerging of your head. Visions of the soup nazi saying NO POOL FOR YOU! fly around my head. 

Wow wasn't that fast??? I thought her ears were clean and fine, and wallah they aren't  So I wonder can 2 doctors in different fields manage to only put my Sweet Potato though one day of procedures???

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I.D.E.A.L Parenting Baby Steps

Wednesday I really chose to pick my battles. Sweet Potato had yet another Doctor appointment. Yippie we get to go to the ENT weeeeeeeeee!!!  This was supposed to be a routine check up a just to make sure nothing is infected and her ears are clear of thick nasty fluid.  NOT!

Before we went the kids were reenacting songs from the Broadway Musical Cats. Little Miss Sunshine made cat tails "Like we did in China mom!."  Sweet Potato really does an excellent job of acting cat like. She can really emote feline.  So were 20 minutes to take off (leaving for the doctor) and the child is still in cat outfit.  I ask myself; is it modest?  check  Do I care that she is wearing a tail? nope Should I make her go out in public dressed properly? NAAAAAA.  I went out to my garden and checked on my peas and there were little leaves sprouting yeah!

I came back in unaware that in those few minutes Daddy picked that battle. And since she is a well trained child she said "Yes Dad" and took off her tail...  But sad to say her heart wasn't in the right place after that.  She used her actions to show her resentment.

13 minutes later I'm doing the last call shoes purses lets go to the ENT yippie! (they always have stickers and lollipops.) Can you believe it Sweet potato is changing her outfit... OH NO! this will take Forever (say it with a valley girl accent for proper effect).  Yup we were late to the Doctor and had to wait extra long.  Daddy was not a happy camper as we waved good bye 10 minutes later.

I took a longer view... its not my appointment its hers if she wanted to be on time she would have been. She is very smart when it comes to things like this. But what I do know is Dad + Late = Disrespect.  Then it all comes out at dinner. She was mad and wanted everyone else to be mad too. So the whole I have to Change  2 minutes before we have to leave was so on purpose!  Why?? because she couldn't wear the tail... Oh the Drama of it all *giggle* I just want you to all know I totally deserve and love this child :-) 

This was an excellent opportunity to use a redo, ask for a compromise, and talk about why we use our words not our actions to tell how we feel. Not a day I'd say we as parents "won" but a good day in practicing the pieces. As a step in our journey I'd say one of us stumbled and the other caught them. Marriage should be like that :-) Next time It will be my turn to fall down.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 Million Chickens

I don't have much to say today.
 I saw this post and it blew me away, so to be inspired click here:

Update, Hubby and his team was able to add chickens to the GFA My Campaign web page on Friday. The above blogger started one here: 
If you use this link you will donate directly to her daughters desire to help 1 million families in India.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fractions and the Kinetic Learner

Little Miss Sunshine was really struggling with fractions today. Now I don't know about you but Numerator's and Denominator's always, always, always confused me as a child. Which was which??? Now Singapore isn't even discussing the technical terms yet... it's just talking about parts of a whole.  But I could see LMS getting mixed up as to which part went on top and which part went on the bottom. She's my box girl, she loves to categorize and stick things in the cubby holes of her brain.  So I thought I'd give naming the top and bottom parts with the correct names, a try.   

After a session with circles of paper, scissors, and  Dividing whole pizzas into parts.  I kept using a mnemonic " The Denominator is how many parts the whole pizza is Divided into." Then we named the top and bottom,  I got out the chair and we played being the numerator or the Denominator. Note the use of Down with Denominator. She had a blast, she liked it so much she let me record her.  

This is what the game looks like... later we'll be a fraction.  To be a quarter she will jump up on top and say I'm  one part of four, then jump down and say "Down here I have four parts"  and like wise with other fractions. Doing this with motion really seems to make it stick with my kids.   I also used this Technique with Sweet Potato and she got Numerators and Denominators in one session. 

Little Miss Sunshine says  "I jump Down and I'm the Denominator."  :-) 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering Grandma

This weekend we cleaned out the garage. Found lots of junk the girls had saved. I opened a tote and found a bunch of art I had done in college, the girls were amazed.. Mom you drew that??? Oh my where have my creative juices gone. We also found photos of my grandma and grandpa on my mom's side.  This always triggers Little Miss Sunshine into asking 100 questions about our family. She is very focused on knowing everything there is to know about family.

Hubby found an interview I had done of my Grandmother in 1998. Back then I  read an article on how to do this and I decided hey what a great IDEA! She was in her 80's (I think) and still very lucid.  I didn't realize at the time of the interview, all those long pauses... like when she mentioned a step father.. she gazes off into space and you can see she is editing. Nope won't say that, nope can't say that, nope won't talk about that pain.
So If you haven't interviewed your grand parents, great Aunts and Uncles, I highly recommend it. After grandma died, my father admitted to me he thought the whole interview was kinda silly at the time. But now he realizes how much information she gave.  Every time she mentioned a name she spelled it, places and people, we carry our history around with us in our head. If we never get it out of our heads it dies with us. 

Her history is pretty traumatic, her dad dies when she is 5 (run over by bootleggers). She had 9 siblings and was pulled out of school at age 16 so she could help pay the families bills with her work. Working 11-12 hour days! Didn't go to school till she was 7, which later I put 2 pieces of the puzzle together and realize from age 5-7 she was in charge of the family cow Bossie and she peddled the milk up and down the neighborhood. Mom eventually gets remarried and then the family story gets very sketchy. She said very little about her step father and what she did say was "None of us kids liked him, and we paid him to go away after mom died."  Speaks volumes doesn't it? 

My kids were of course floored, all those long hours of work, not being able to finish school because food needed to be paid for. Only getting paid 1$ a day, and she got 7$ a week which means she worked 7 days a week. I think some of it must have sunk in because on Saturday when they were given their payment for chores, both girls contributed to the "new to us car fund."  A much better use for their money than stick on nail polish. 

My grandma went to Catholic School where the nuns were "strict" and she learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. That opened up her ability to work and do far more jobs than if she had never learned to read.  My grandma was not ignorant, and she lived a good long life.  I would have never known my grandma didn't finish high school if she hadn't told me. She was an elegant woman with a whole lot of class. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

I'm planning on doing a series of blogs on literacy to promote  My Campaign for Woman's Literacy  I still haven't figured out how to make links look like  links in this blog so that is why the tacky purple.  

Its been a few years since I taught either of my children to read but somethings are burned into my memory.  I started off with Sing Spell Read and Write, tried Bob books, Dr. Seuse, a few things of my own devising, none of which worked. One day when I was wishing to Mindy  that I wanted to help her out in the ministries cafe.  She leaned over in a sing song voice whispered in my ear "I'll teach your child to read if you come in and help me."  I was so desperate I jumped at the chance.  You know what is so amazing is 4 years later after Sweet Potato had been reading and reading words well, she was tested by her nuro therapist. Much to the therapists amazement Sweet Potato could read words at a 6th grade lvl but shouldn't be able too since her short term memory only held 3-4 bits of information, you need 5-6 to be able to read well.  

Look at what dedication on Mindy's part and prayer on mine can do :-)

Mindy pulled out her handy dandy Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and proceeded to train my daughter to read. She also taught me how to use to book. Now I had picked up this books at least 5 times but it totally mystified me. Why are there lines over letters? Why are their arrows under letters? It looked like a mess. What I had never bothered to do was read the introduction that explains exactly how the system works. DOH!

One thing Mindy taught me was to only do it for 15 minutes at a time.  Yes the lessons are supposed to be timed for a 15 minute block, but lets face it I had a child with audio processing issues, Strabismus and visual processing issues.  At the time her right eye was being used at like 20% and the glasses she wore blurred her left eye. She had a lot of road blocks to overcome.  So if we only got 3 parts of the lesson done in 15 minutes we quit. (well some days she persisted because I bribed her with treats).
So I had to learn to let go of 1 lesson per day and face reality my child may need 1 lesson per week.  That was harder than I thought it would be.  I wish then I knew what I know now! That kids with these type of non nurotypical behaviors need to see something 400 times before it clicks.  But then I'd have been trying to show it 400 times by showing it to her 10 times for 40 days. 

Another thing that helped Sweet Potato is the fact they had 2 a's one with a line over the top and another that was all plain... One thing they do not teach right away is the names of the letters.  I want to  know who thought it was a good idea to name these letters does H sound like aech? no it sounds like huh. The book is correct in thinking teaching the names just confuses the child.

I saw this first hand when I had the opportunity to teach Little Miss Sunshine to read. She had never learned the alphabet names. It was no trouble to teach her the short and long sounds for the letters.

As a side note, she really struggled with blending, since Chinese is a pictorial language blending was not a concept she understood. A quick trip down Dick and Jane lane really helped.  Just in case you don't know Dick and Jane teach whole word reading, and was a perfect bridge to her ability to sound out.   Notice how the beauty of home schooling is you can tailor the work to the child.  We were 5 weeks into 100 EZ lessons and still on lesson 3 when I brought out Dick and Jane.  One week in Dick and Jane with EZ on the side and she had an epiphany over the word "see"

100 EZ lessons is a training tool. Did my kids love it? NO! Did it teach them to read  YES! Sweet Potatoes  ability to parse words is amazing. Al-tho she still struggles with comprehension, it all goes back to "How much can her short term memory hold?"  It was an easy book to use and teaches in a systematic way.  I did find I had to supplement vowels with Little Miss Sunshine as she still rushes through the work. Both of my children find pleasure in reading. Sweet Potato loves books of facts and biographies of real people, where as Little Miss Sunshine prefers mysteries and silly novels.

I have decided to do a My Campaign for Women's Literacy as a memorial to the fact My daughter can read!  As I worked on reading with Sweet Potato, I often used to think if she was in India, she would be that girl that proves the belief "its pointless to teach girls."  Her and my struggle over her reading was a long and arduous road.   So click on my link and donate a few dollars :-)
and help us reach a woman who never had the opportunity to learn to read.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reminiscing, My parents are cool...

Yesterday I was reading an article by the daughter of a leading feminist of our time.  It made me think back to a conversation I had with my dad one fall day when I was in my teens.  I was spouting the latest thing in Feminism. I think I was singing  a perfume commercial remember that one??  I can bring home the bacon... fry it up  in a pan... and never, never let you forget your a man.. cause I'm a women.  Even tho I was quite the tom boy.  I was the anything HE can do, I can do better, type girl. My dad challenged me with a statement, some thing along the line that; Feminism has done as much to hurt the cause of women as much as it has helped them, in fact it may make things worse for women in the long run.

Fast forward to about 10 years ago... it's raining, my newly adopted 2 year old is melting down in the grocery store. The store doors are not opening when you step on the mats and you have to open the door inward. I'm hanging on to a heavy awkward paper bag of bare necessities for dinner,  since I had to abandon my cart due to child's meltdown. All I wanted to do is run home and hide.

A 30 something man is smugly waiting for me to exit the building. Can I open the door, hold on to my groceries and child who is out of control. Well after 3 minutes I managed to open the door and the man said "Thanks for opening the door" as he slips past me.  I was horrified, to my chagrin I thought back to all those times I said to men who opened my door for me "I can do it myself!" Here I obviously needed help yet he waited... why because young ladies like myself had insulted manly chivalrous acts in the past.  I totally deserved his treatment of me. Even if he had pushed the door open I would have had an easier time of it but he waited to watch my humiliation of dropping my groceries and loosing the grasp of my child.

This turns my thoughts to a post I saw on facebook in response to a plea for literacy for women in Asia.  The persons point was if we educate women we take jobs away from men. I remember my mom stressing I needed to go to college so IF I didn't want to get married I didn't have too... IF my husband was a poor provider, became disabled or dead,  I could be the primary wage earner.  IF I wanted to work I could... I could be the captain of my "Employment Ship." Now I'm totally content to stay at home with my children. It's not like, I'm not working. To replace my services to our family would run in the 90k range per year, or so says a book my sister in law sent me.  :-) So I know I'm contributing to the family in a very real way.  

I firmly believe in the LITERACY PROGRAM at GFA. I really feel educating the mother helps the sons and daughters be more educated. A more educated population, hopefully makes better choices in the long run. (I can't ever forget the viewpoint of our driver in India who firmly believed cleft pallets were due to the baby being born during the full moon.) When I think of how widows are seen as a curse on many Asian societies, giving them tools is essential for survival and the success of their children. Is it feminism to believe in the education of women? I suppose on some level it is. I think that turning women into men is an extreme form of feminism.  I can see how men and woman have hugely different strengths and weaknesses. As Rocky says "I got gaps she's got gaps together we ain't got no gaps."

I sometimes worry about our society where fathers have become unnecessary.  Not around here!!! Who would put the kiddos to bed at night????  So here is a big Thank You Dad! for challenging me to think outside the box society was building around me. Not to mention a Huge Thank You to Mom! for helping me to look to my future, you didn't let me grow up ignorant.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keeping On Track

So this weekend we had the opportunity to go to Glen Rose and stay at our favorite place The Country Woods Inn. I love the off season because it is so quiet. :-)  It was nice being able to say yes over, and over again to my kids. Yes, you can run ahead. Yes, you can play on the rocks. Yes, we can take a picnic, because look, here is a picnic basket in our cabin. Yes, you can feed the rabbits.

Little Miss Sunshine now wants rabbits again. I thought I dodged that bullet.  Ever since the demise of 3 mice and much grieving over them. I though she had assimilated the formula Predators + Prey = Death. I guess since her friend is having a success at keeping the dogs from killing her rabbit LMS thinks she will succeed as well.

So as per usually Google maps got us lost on the way back from Glen Rose. I mean I've made this trip at least 10 times but yet I think I take a new way home every time.  Ahh, well in the future I'll have all these alternate routes if I'm ever stuck in traffic.. Right?  It was funny I looked at My Knight in Shining Armor and said I really think we should invest in a Garmin. His response Oh I have one So and So gave me his old one.  picture my jaw dropping to floor of vehicle while I'm thinking"And why is it not plugged in right now???"

So my 2 kiddos on their own volition doubled up on school this week so as to get it all out of the way, since they had Monday as a vacation day.  Picture me doing a double take... Al tho it took Sweet Potato till 6pm on Tuesday, to finish her work she still did 2 days of work in that day. Yesterday she volunteered to help make dinner... Who is this child??? and can I keep her?  I'm kinda stunned...

Normally when there is work to be done she runs off to the bathroom.  (Ok who else is adult enough to admit they did this too as a child *raises hand*)  I know why she does it but it is very unusual for her to ask for work to do.

I'm glad to say the kiddos are on track for a May finish date of school possibly even mid April for Little Miss Sunshine. So often were struggling to stay on track and drop things like art, and poetry. I'm so glad this year I'm staying on track. Much of it has to do with the more independent nature of the work in Preparing and CTC.  I'm spending less time than I used too in "teaching" and more time helping "research." LMS loves math so much that she has stopped waiting for me and instead tackles it on her own. If she can't do it herself she waits, but half the time I come in to explain it and shes done, and done correctly I might add.  Lately she has been doing her grammar first thing, it was so well done I thought maybe just maybe she is copying the teachers manual. So I move that book to my bed room... Nope her work is perfect as ever.

I totally need that teachers manual to grade the work too. I have been learning so much about grammar through how to diagram sentences. Wow why couldn't they have taught me this when i was in school! I can see how adverbs and adjectives work for the first time in my life.  And the proper use of "Quotes." which I totally abuse. :-P