Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Advanced Placement Preschool Phonics

These days it's quite popular to make sure your little sweetie is the smartest kid on the block who attends the most prestigious preschool in town. You can even pay someone to tutor your child so little Suzy will get into that coveted spot in "Miss Amelia's Preschool for the Exceptionally Gifted and Talented."

Well, who wants to pay money for that when you can get started for FREE right here on my blog?

I'm here today to share with you my fabulous new way to teach phonics to your preschool children so they will be at the top of the class in no time! All for the low, low price of absolutely FREE!

Now, I have to admit, I'm not quite finished with this phonics curriculum as you'll see below. But it's sure to be a wonderful start for your brilliant Brad and super-smart Suzy.

You will see each letter of the alphabet presented along with a word that begins with that letter. Now, any old phonics curriculum will have such a presentation of the letters. But here's where my system is different. I won't be teaching your little darling the usual sounds of the letters. Surely you taught your child those by the time he was 2! No, no, these are the instances where the letters do NOT say their regular sounds! Your child's intelligence will grow by leaps and bounds as he learns the irregular sounds the letters can make.

Other curricula toss a few of these in, in hopes of helping your child gain a few smarty-pants-points, but my curriculum is FAR more extensive.

To use this curriculum you'll have to type the following letters and sample words on a set of flashcards and print them out, cut them, and laminate them. (What, you thought that I'd include all of that in this FREE curriculum?) Then when you work with your child, help her by slowly saying the word as described below after each backslash so that she can hear the proper sound to make for each letter.

A is for airplane/   ehhhhhhhrplane


C is for charade, cilantro, and cucumber/  shhhharade  sssilantro  Q-cumber


E is for eight/  aaaaate


G is for gnat/   nnnnnat

H is for honor/  ooooohnor


J is for Jaques and jalapeño/  zzzzyak  halapeño

K is for knife  nnnnnnife/


M is for mnemonics/  nnnnnnnnnnnemonics


O is for owl and ooze/   aaahhhhwl   and oooooohze

P is for pneumatic, phone, and psychotic /    nnnnnnnnewmatic  ffffhone  ssssykotic

Q is for quiche and quinoa/  keeech keenwah


S is for shoe/   shhhhhhoo

T is for those/   thhhhose

U is for urn/  rrrrrn


W is for writing and Wagner/  rrrriting  vvvvvahgner

X is for any word beginning with x in the English language/ zzzzzylophone

Y is for Yvonne or Yvette/  eeeevon eeevette

Z is for Zollner/  tszollner

Now, if you find your child is confused by all of this I guess you'll just have to admit that your precious little Jonny isn't going to make it into AP prechool this year. Better luck next year when he's 3!

**This post is 100% a joke. ( :  I simply find it amusing that many ABC cards have things like xylophone for the sound of "x" and owl for the sound of "o". Then there are words like cucumber that sound like they start with one letter- "Q" but actually don't! It's terribly confusing for the poor little kids who are trying to learn all these letters and relate them to a sound. If you can come up with any words to fill in the blank spots I'd be thrilled! I've wracked my brain for months and haven't come up with any more.

Monday, August 18, 2014

You Know It's Hot When....

This past weekend there was a short lull in the landscaping work we're having done on our yard. This happily coincided with a free weekend and thankfully I realized exactly what I should do over the weekend. I decided to do something about our ugly back fence!


I went online to see what folks suggested for a fence face-lift and got busy. I sent the professor to go rent a pressure washer so I could do the first step- blast away that icky top layer of the wood. I was so disappointed when he came back and said they didn't have one.

Thankfully I'm part of an awesome facebook group for my Stake (which is several local congregations). I got on there and asked if anyone had a pressure washer I could borrow and right away I got a response! I just love it when we all work together like that and share what we have to bless others. That's one of the great beauties of the internet these days. I really don't care for Facebook in general, but for groups like this that benefit everyone, I find it a really positive place on the internet.

What a difference a power washing gave the fence! On the right is the freshly blasted wood and on the left of the machine is the un-blasted area.
The next day once it had dried completely I rolled on some sealer to protect the wood and it looked even more amazing. Below you can see the finished wood on the right and the unfinished on the left.
Here's the whole fence all finished!
Now to explain the title of the post. When I first went out it was hot. And I mean HOT! I was wearing some crocs with bare feet and my feet were being burned by the heat so I had to run in and get socks on. Then I set out a metal paint pan and placed a plastic liner in it. I went back inside for the can of sealer to pour in it and by the time I came back out a minute later, the whole plastic liner had shriveled up right in the paint pan!

I was kind of ornery about being out there in all that heat, nearly blacking out as I worked to get that silly sealer on. Everyone else was in the dark, cool, air-conditioned house reading. *Sob*  (The kids did try to help but they were too hot after doing 2-3 boards each.) 

BUT, it was so nice to have it done! Now I can look out my kitchen window and sigh a happy sigh because it looks so nice. I've gotten so tired of the drab view of dirt and a gray fence out my window. I told the landscaper I wanted color- and lots of it! Hopefully we'll be able to do just that. He's also going to try to get me a big old tractor tire for the kids to play on. And I think he's going to cut a log into disks for me so the kids can play with them all around the yard. Like in these pictures. 

I'll have to share pictures when we get it all done. Do you have any fun features in your yard that you'd recommend we try?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tender Mercies

Tonight I wanted to quickly share a tender mercy of the Lord I experienced today.

You see, we got this tank of fish 2 years ago:

We've enjoyed it but finally the kids were tired of it. I was the only one taking care of them at this point and nobody liked to watch them anymore. There was a little excitement when we thought the guppy was going to have babies, but it died down when we decided we had 2 male guppies, one of which had merely gotten fat!

Anyway, I have tried to take really good care of them. I am saddened by all the cruelty to animals I hear about in this world. I know they are just little old fish and not hugely important in the grand scheme of things. I don't feel bad about swatting flies, so why worry so much about a fish? But I think it's worth doing all we can to treat creatures nicely.

Why, at one point I even wrote a rather huffy letter to the local pet store. We had bought a fish and didn't find out until we were leaving the store that it had been tattooed to have a colored design on it. I looked that up when I got  home and was dismayed by what I found. Companies tattoo these fish with designs or numbers or letters just for the amusement of the buyer. It's damaging to the fish and often makes them sick and they die. Here's what happened to our fish a week or two after we bought the poor critter:
 It started swimming around bent in half like you see above. Below you can see the design. While at the store with it swimming around a bunch of other fish we thought it just happened to have neat colors.
Anyway, I sent my rant-y sort of letter to the store where we purchased it and asked them to stop purchasing tattooed fish. No doubt they just laughed at the crazy lady sending them a letter. But for some reason I felt strongly that doing this kind of thing to an animal just for kicks and giggles is totally wrong.

We finally decided to put the poor fish out of its misery. My kids learned a new word: euthanasia.

FYI, in case you didn't know- DON'T just flush a fish down the toilet! That is a horrible way for the poor thing to be killed.  From what I read the quickest way to take care of it is to buy rubbing alcohol with the highest content of alcohol you can get- probably 90%. Take the fish out of water and quickly pour the alcohol right on its gills. We had to do this to 2 different fish because they were so sick and miserable. It worked very quickly and the fish was obviously dead in seconds. (Then we had a funeral in the backyard!)

So, back to the point of this post. We were tired of our fish, so I wanted to find someone to give them to. Finally my friend helped me post them on a local facebook page of items for sale in town. I was really worried that someone would buy them and just throw out the fish and take the tank and accessories to house their own fish. I really wanted someone to take care of the fish properly-not just kill them!

Well, here's the tender mercy for today. A local teacher bought the fish to put in her classroom! I was so thrilled that they would actually be taken care of and loved by a whole class!

Luke 12:6 
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

That scripture is what came to mind after this whole experience. I know those little fish aren't worth much to "the world" but we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows every living thing on the earth, especially each of us, his spirit children.  

I was grateful for that little reminder today that the Lord is mindful of each of us and all His creations. The fact that I know I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and that He has a plan for me- that is what keeps me going each day. I deal with so much anxiety and depression constantly. If I didn't know why I was here on this earth, what I should do while here, that there is more to come in the next life, well.....I wouldn't be here anymore. Honestly I would have committed suicide years ago. 

I know I have a purpose here on earth and a reason to live, even when the world feels like such a miserable place to me. My knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ has saved my life many times. I am saved from my sins through Christ's atonement and saved from my mental illness by the knowledge of the Lord's plan for me. I wish everyone who struggled with mental illness could know that too. (And no, you don't have to worry that I'm going to go jump off a cliff tomorrow. I think about things like that, but the gospel keeps me rooted on the ground. I'm also pretty good at having conversations with myself about why that would be dumb thing to do. So no worries!)

I'll leave you with a link to a very excellent post I read today by another Holly. It's about her experience with mental illness. A must read if you struggle with mental illness or have a loved one who does.  


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Do You Pray for? What Are You Thankful For?

I wanted to share a video that was made by my friend Kristin and her sister. She made this to show the kids in our Primary for sharing time this month. She went around getting pictures of the children and teachers in our Primary in which they are holding a sign saying what they are thankful for and what they pray for. Kristin's lovely sister Heather-who was in a terrible car accident and became disabled several years ago- put the pictures together into a neat slideshow. Heather is an amazing woman who has found a way to serve others by sharing her computer talent. It's something she is still able to do despite her paralysis.

I thought these two ladies did a beautiful job and that more people should see and enjoy this. It's a good reminder of the variety of things we can pray for as well as the variety of things we can be thankful for. (You may need to enlarge it to full screen size to be able to read the signs.)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Clear Your Calendars Friends Because There's a Series of Books You Need To Read!

So, I may be a little behind the times. You see, there is a series of books that I read recently and it's actually quite a few years old. 1996, 2000, 2006 and 2010 are the publication dates on the 4 books in the series. I wonder if everyone else has already read them and will be thinking, "Sheesh Holly! We've been there, done that and seen the movie already!" (OK, so there is no movie, but there SHOULD BE!

Anyway, today I wanted to share with you my new favorite series of books. My mother-in-law gave them to The Professor for Christmas or a birthday. It's so nice to have family members to get good book recommendations from. I enjoyed the series so much that when I was on the 3rd book I just canceled school for the day and sat down to read! (And in case you are concerned that my homeschooled kids aren't learning anything- no this is not a common occurrence.) For me to break my carefully planned out routine and just let myself sit and read, well, that's saying something about these books. ( :

Here they are in the order you really should read them:

This series of books is by Megan Whelan Turner. They are so good you just can't put them down.

But, some caveats:

I'd only recommend them for about age 16 and up. Younger kids really wouldn't understand all the intrigue going on and it's just not meant for younger kids. Not really a family read-aloud sort of series.

There is some romance, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was clean!!!  And the romantic parts are just lovely and sweet in my mind. 

There is a some violence, but as I've read it at least twice now and thought about it carefully before recommending it, I really don't feel like the violence was awful and graphic or anything. Unlike another book I read last year that had constant, graphic descriptions of violence. Ugh. This is set in a time where there are kings and queens and castle type structures and sword fights and such. So, there will be some battle type violence or threatened violence. You'll have to decide for yourself if this is for you and your family. All I know is, I'm quite picky about what I'll read and I still feel good about them after a second read and careful consideration. 

They are so FUNNY at times! I've been reading them out loud to my husband and I love seeing him just laugh and laugh. He's the kind of guy who's emotions are like this: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to get him to laugh really hard is challenging and these books did it!

The other thing I loved is the language. That Megan really has quite the vocabulary! We had to look up several words while reading these. I love an author who can make you think and learn something new while you read. The only thing the books lacked was a pronunciation guide. I'm really quite good at pronunciations but the names in these book are tricky. Ochto, Berrone, Basrus, Sounis, Attolia, Eddis, etc. I'd love to know how the author intended them to be pronounced. 

I'd love to see these made into a clean, non-graphically violent series of movies. It would be so good if done right. I don't trust Hollywood to make a clean, non-super-violent movie though, sadly. ) :  The love story embedded in the middle books would be so neat to see done on screen. I'm sure I'd cry!

So, now you can go ahead and tell me I'm just behind the times and that you've all read these books and enjoyed them for years. It's OK. But in case someone out there was missing out like I was, now you know! Happy reading!

**Edited to add: I forgot to mention that these books do have a little mild swearing. I really hate swearing in books- especially when I'm reading aloud. Ugh. So, if you don't want to read any swear words you'll want to pass. For me it was mild enough I could stand it but to each their own. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pioneer Day Fun

In our family we celebrate a holiday called Pioneer Day. It's a state holiday in Utah on July 24th. It's celebrated in honor of the day the Mormon pioneers entered the Utah valley and first saw the place they would soon call home.

Outside of Utah it's not always celebrated among people of my faith and my ward (congregation) wasn't doing anything. But we decided to have some fun of our own! If I was more on top of things I'd organize a Primary activity for the kids or something....sigh.... Anyway, my husband and I have lots of Mormon pioneer ancestors, so this is important to our family.

Here are the fun things we did:

I made wagon wheels by folding and cutting paper plates like this:

 The kids colored them brown and I taped them on a box that became our wagon. You could stick them on with brads so they would turn. Then they put all their dolls and such in there and "hitched" it to our rocking horse. If you rock hard enough you can actually "pull" the wagon across the floor!
 They got all their dolls dressed up in "pioneer" clothes.

 Even Count Von Count has a cowboy hat and a good horse- Bullseye!
 The kids put on skirts, bonnets, and cowboy boots and such and I did braids and pigtails on the girls.

We did stick pulling for a fun game. You just have 2 people sit and face each other with their feet together. They both hold onto a sturdy stick and when you say "go" they try to pull their opponent up and over. My big, sturdy 6 year old always won much to the dismay of everyone else. ( :
 I made some fresh homemade bread and we made some butter too. I wrote about how we did this last year.
The kids made a covered wagon with their legos.
We did sack races across the house which were also won by the 6 year old every time much to the dismay of the other kids ( :

We ate things like cornbread, baked potatoes, dried apples, apple "cider" (juice), carrots, etc. Things pioneers might have had access to. We also made homemade strawberry ice cream for dessert.

I made a playlist on my mp3 player of all the pioneer songs in our Primary Song Book and our Hymn book- all of which you can find at LDS.org.  I had a few other country sounding songs that I threw in there for fun.

I played the autoharp I happen to have in my possession at the moment. I know only 2 songs on it- Buffalo Gals and I Had a Little Rooster. They seemed fitting! An autoharp looks like this and you just strum it while pressing down the chord buttons.

In the afternoon we watched the movie Legacy which is a short movie depicting some of the events the early Latter-Day Saints went through.

We had one last game that we didn't end up doing but it's an easy one! Just cut out some brown cardboard into shapes resembling "buffalo chips" or in other words, piles of animal dung. Pioneers gathered this stuff when it was dry and used it for fuel in their campfires. Once you've cut out these "buffalo chips" you could write the name of a pioneer/country type song on the back. (Or a fun country type game like 2-legged races.) Have kids try to toss the buffalo chips into a  box or pretend campfire or something. If they make it in you do whatever it says on the back.

Anyway, that was our fun day. I hope that next year I can find some stories about my pioneer ancestors to read to the kids so they can have a better understanding of their family history.

I think that having a day like this is something any family can do. Look through your own family history and make some sort of holiday where you celebrate your ancestors and do things they might have done years ago. Try some family recipes! Dress up in ethnic clothing of some sort! Find out about games and songs and dances your ancestors might have participated in! Most importantly, have fun together as a family.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Prince Edward Island Part III

On our trip to Prince Edward Island we went to the site of the home L.M. Montgomery grew up in. The home is no longer standing, but you can see the foundation there. The part down in the ground was the old cellar.
Here's a picture of what the house looked like:
 Maud came to this home to live when she was very young- after her mother died of tuberculosis. She lived here with her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Macneill. (Maud's first name is Lucy, named after her grandmother.)

"Our beloved old place. Have not old homestead souls that cling to them until they crumble to dust?                                        -L.M. Montgomery                                

It was SUCH a beautiful area. There were some really pretty flowers in bloom. Look at the cute little forget-me-nots!
There is a wooded area near by that is the inspiration for the "Haunted Wood" in Anne of Green Gables. It was actually really pretty during the day but I can imagine how it would be creepy at twilight or in the night.

 Truly terrifying! Ha ha!
I am grateful that my childhood was spent in a spot where there were many trees...When I have lived with a tree for many years it seems to me like a beloved human companion.                                                                 -L.M. Montgomery

Near this area is a little store/mini-museum run by the MacNeill family which are relatives of Maud's. We learned a little bit of history there and I very helpfully pointed out that someone spelled Diana Barry wrong on a display case which had dolls representing Anne and Diana. It was spelled "Berry." Ha ha! I'm so annoyingly helpful like that. ( :

I tried really hard to avoid "touristy" stuff on this trip when I could, but I did buy two things at that store. Books of course!

A biography of Maud by Mary Henley Rubio titled Lucy Maud Montgomery A Gift of Wings. I'll tell you more about this book in another post.
And this cute little journal that has quotes from Anne of Green Gables sprinkled throughout the pages. The quotes make me chuckle as I write along in my journal. ( :
The Anne of Green Gables Journal

Also near this area is the cemetery where Maud is buried along with dozens of other relatives. Here is Maud's gravesite.

 Notice something interesting below? Her married name IS actually Macdonald, but her pen name was Montgomery so that's what most of us know her by.
 Here's a quick shot of the rest of the cemetery with the trees all around it.
 I still have a few more posts to go to share everything about our trip! I'll get to it as I can. At the moment a little "kitty" boy wants me to play a game with him. ( :

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