Tag Archives: to-do

Grow a Reader this Summer!

20 Apr

Have you already started mapping out your summer plans?  If you have kids who haven’t learned to read yet, consider using this summer to teach them!  All you need is a few minutes every day and this fabulous book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. In approximately the duration of your child’s summer vacation, you can teach them one of life’s most valuable – and fun – skills!

When my son (now 6 ½) was 3 ½, I wanted to start teaching him how to read.  He knew most of his letter sounds, and he would sit still for any length of story I would read him.  It seemed like the right time to get going.

But where to start?  I didn’t know the first thing about how to approach it.

At the recommendation of some moms I know, I bought the book mentioned above.  It’s a very specific method of teaching reading to children.  (The book states that it’s designed for 4- or 5-year-olds, but can also be taught to bright 3 ½-year-olds.)  Its huge size seems a bit daunting at first, but the layout is very easy to follow.

Just do one lesson a day (or every other day, whatever your child can handle and your schedule allows).  Each lesson is presented with exact instructions, down to a teaching script so you know what to say with each task.

Every lesson includes writing practice, and the whole thing only takes about 10-20 minutes to complete.  By the time you reach lesson 50, your child will be reading an entire paragraph!  This amazing book completely takes the guesswork out of this process.

One thing you MUST do before you start teaching your child with this book: read the parent instructions.  It is imperative that you have an understanding of how the lessons work before you begin teaching, or you will stumble around and lose your child’s interest – which we all know is the kiss of death!

An added way to make the lessons fun (and to incorporate a bit of math, too) is to make a chart of squares numbered 1-100.  Each time your child finishes a lesson, they can put a sticker or a stamp in the square for the lesson they completed.  Once they’re done with all 100, they earn a prize.  Or you can give them a prize after every row of 10 – whatever works for you!

My son reads extremely well now.  He’s become a real lover of books, and can read anything we throw at him.  Knowing how to read has given him  independence and confidence to start him on a path to success in school, which is something that will serve him well for the rest of his life!

That's my boy!

I’m now using my well-worn copy of the book, with its many wrinkled pages and a taped-up cover, to instruct my 4 ½-year-old daughter.  She’s coming along great!

If you’ve never taught someone the skill of reading, you’re in for quite an experience.  It’s tedious, frustrating, and sometimes seems impossible, but the end result is an accomplishment that both you and your little one will cherish.  Summer vacation is a perfect time to do it!


Merry Thriftmas!

17 Nov

My daughter with autism has 27 teachers, aides, therapists and bus drivers who interact with her on a daily basis. My son has 16 teachers from school, church and various activities. With Christmas around the corner, I’m trying to think of creative ways to stretchy my giving dollars so that everyone feels the appreciation they truly deserve.

Last week, I caught my dad chucking a bunch of old sheet music; his mother was a piano teacher and church organist. I snatched the weighty stack out of the recycle bin.

“What are you going to do with these?” he asked.

“I’ll think of something,” I said with a slight shrug.

Here’s the something thanks to google and the design guru behind the blog “Primp,” I have inspiration! Behold!!

Vintage Sheet Music Wreath Tutorial

I thought a vintage sheet music wreath would be a perfect addition to my evolving piano room. This one turned out similar to my first book page wreath. It was a very fun and addicting project, made with supplies purchased from either the dollar or thrift store. Total cost= $5!

Here’s what you need:

  • foam wreath
  • cream ribbon
  • glue gun
  • vintage sheet music
  • masking tape
  • a small cup

Let’s get started.

You could use any size foam wreath but the only one the dollar store had the day I went was this really wide one, so…

I just cut it right in half with a knife.

If you buy a thick one like me, just save the other half for when you want to make another book page wreath. Trust me you will–they’re addicting.

Wrap the wreath with a wide ribbon, glueing occasionally as you go. Or you could skip this whole step, especially if your wreath is white or cream.

This one was made out of florist foam and flaked every time I touched it so I definitely wanted to wrap it.

Now tear out about 50 pages of vintage sheet music. This is where it gets really fun. Once you get the idea of how to form each sheet into a cone shape it goes really quick.

This is how you do it:
Take a sheet and place your fingers on the two corners on the long side of the paper.

Keep your left hand still and with only your right hand wrap that corner around.

Continue to wrap in a forward motion.




Keep twisting.

Now twist your left and right hands in opposite directions to tighten the cone.

You can twist a lot to make a skinnier cone or twist less and leave the cone opening bigger. Then secure with a small piece of masking tape.  I used a combination of skinny and big ones.

Once you have a big pile of these you are ready to glue.

Put your cup right in the middle.  This will help you get a nice size circle opening in the center.  You can vary the cup size depending on how big or small you want the opening to be.

Go all around the wreath hot gluing a single layer of cones to the wreath form.  Don’t worry if there are spaces or if it doesn’t look perfect, this layer will be covered up.  Continue with a second layer.

Hang using a piece of ribbon or fabric threaded around the back of the wreath form.  Right now my wreath hangs simply from a small nail but I envision it one day hanging in the middle of a shabby door or gate hung just above the piano.

Updates on Feat #5: Meditating

6 Feb

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

For the original FEAT #5 blog entry, click here.

DAY 7 (Sunday):

I hate to say this, but I almost feel like this week was a cheat.  For some reason, the week I picked to do meditation to ease my jangled mind was the most relaxing week I’ve had in months.

And maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I really don’t think it was relaxing because of the meditation – we had several snow days this week, my husband was home, school was canceled, and we couldn’t go anywhere.  And it seemed like everything just slowed way down, to a nice, peaceful snowbound crawl.  I stayed in my jammies most days.  We played lots of games together as a family.  We watched movies and did crafts, and just hung out together.  And of course, we played in the snow.  It felt like a vacation!

So I almost wish that my meditation Feat had come at a different, more stressful time, but as the annoying saying goes, “It is what it is.”

Every day, my meditation was nice, peaceful, and calm.  I didn’t do much blogging about it, because there wasn’t much to tell.  I didn’t really feel like I was working through any issues, or anything deeper than just sitting quietly.  Even the constant music in my head stopped.

But I did enjoy meditating, even if I didn’t “need” it this week.  I can see how it would be useful during stressful times in a person’s life, and I look forward to trying it out when times are tough.

And I did finally learn about the hands in the picture!  The different ways of holding your hands while meditating are called mudras.  There are a few variations, each of which provide different functions for deepening your meditative connection.

I chose one tonight to end my Feat called “Gyan Mudra,” which helps to clear the mind, improve alertness, and increase clarity.  (I desperately need that right now, because it’s 10:30 on Sunday night, and I have no idea what my next Feat will be – though it starts tomorrow.  And this one also happens to be the mudra in the picture!)

To do this mudra, you join your index finger and thumb together in a circle, and relax the other fingers.  In this way, it symbolizes your unity with the cosmos.  Here I go.  Let’s hope it takes me straight to Feat #6.

Continue reading


31 Jan

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I’m currently in a state of crisis.  An overly dramatic statement, I realize, but it feels true nonetheless – at least, it felt true the other night when I was sobbing on the couch, having a panic attack.

Like many people, I have way too much on my plate.  And it’s kind of freaking me out.

Kids, husband, cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, work, blog, exercise (OK, not so much on that last one)…  How can I keep up with all of it?  How can anyone possibly?  Is everyone else succeeding where I’m failing?

My wonderful, all-knowing husband has me figured out.  He says that my problem is, I work really hard to get on top of everything, and then I have this lull where I feel like things are going smoothly so I can take on more.  And I do.  Then a few weeks later, I’m freaking out.  Again.  (Fortunately for me, this is usually the point in the process where he steps in and rescues me by taking over pretty much everything.  Yes, I chose wisely when I married.)

My knee-jerk reaction when I get in crisis mode?  More planning, more organization, better scheduling.  I feel like I must be deficient in one of those departments, so I need to work overtime to correct it.

But something is telling me that right now, I just need to take a step back.  No amount of work is necessarily going to make it possible for me to complete that gigantic daily to-do list.  So instead of wringing out my calendar until the last bit of organization oozes from it, I’m going to sit quietly and meditate every day this week.

It’s almost counter-intuitive for me, when I get in this frenzied state – the LAST thing I think about is slowing down or stopping.  But this year is about trying to improve myself, trying some things that can make me a better person, or maybe just a happier one.

Meditating isn’t entirely new to me – I tried it for a couple weeks last year and really enjoyed it.  But like so many things, I just find it hard to make time to do it.  (See the aforementioned note on exercising.)

So for Feat #5, every day this week I’m going to set aside time in the morning and time at night to meditate.  I’m not sure how long I will do it each time – I think I’ll just go with the flow and see where it takes me.

I’m looking forward to seeing how meditation will affect the way I tackle my to-do list.  I’m hoping that taking that time out of my schedule every day will actually make me more productive.  Who knows – maybe after meditating, my to-do list suddenly won’t seem so pressing after all.

Anyone care to join me for this one?  Won’t cost you anything and might bring you some peace.  Why not??

New Year, New Me

5 Jan

I, along with a slew of other Americans, will be resolving to make changes with the new year.  Many years ago, I was a list maker.  You might even call me obsessed about them.  I had lists for everything.  What I wanted to read, what I wanted to buy, things I needed from the grocery store, things I wanted to try, people I needed to call, things I needed to do, etc.  My lists were out of control, usually on sticky notes which were easily lost or carried off somewhere stuck to who knows what.

This year, the first change I will implement is no lists.  I am tired of being bogged down, feeling let down by myself when I am unable to accomplish every single thing I write down.  When I worked at CPS, my boss used to tell me, “Lori, everything will be there tomorrow.  Take a break!  Don’t worry about your To-Do List.”  I did worry about my To-Do List, though.  Fortunately, things are easier now, as I no longer have to make legal decisions for other people and no one’s (with the exception of my own children’s) lives are dependent on the decisions I make.

The main things I want for this year is to be more present and simplify.  I will make this happen several ways.  I will practice yoga regularly at least once a week.  I know that when I am balanced and grounded on my mat, the rest of my life will be balanced and grounded as well.

Although I can’t up and quit my job or forego any of the other responsibilities I have in my daily life, there ARE things I CAN do.  I just joined a movement on Facebook to take one week off.  So far, there are nine other people doing it with me!  That’s ten of us who, for an entire week, will be more productive than we otherwise would be.  For me, it means more time with my family.

With that temptation gone, I will work at others.  Maybe I will forgo laundry, cleaning, and errand running as well!  Imagine the time I will create for myself, which will be given to my family!  What a gift!

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