Monday, August 27, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reader Rabbit. Reading Eggs. Whatever you call it, they're reading!

Natalie and Noelle are 5/12, and Theresa is almost 9.  

Noelle started reading when she was three, and has been reading independently for over a year now.  Natalie and Theresa were sort of foundering behind, making some progress but never taking off on their own.  We had been using Headsprout since the twins were three, but Theresa hated it, and Natalie was just sort of dragging along, clicking through the lessons and getting overwhelmed.  Once you hit a certain level, some of the lessons get pretty lengthy.

In January I started a free trial subscription to Reading Eggs.

Reading Eggs - Where children learn to read! 

At first glance I wasn't sure I wouldn't like it - the exercises seemed too short, the  songs seemed silly, there seemed to be too much glitz - but it turned out to be captivating for Natalie, Noelle, Theresa AND Clare (10 years).

It soon became a favorite part of their day, and they would even ask to play Reading Eggs some more instead of going to bed.  The lessons were shorter, true, but there was lots of reinforcement and very gradual building of skills.  They were learning without even realizing it!

The program is really quite elaborate - kids follow the lesson path through world after world, meeting new characters as they build on skills introduced in each of the 120 lessons.

They even have an older version with reading comprehension, spelling and grammar.  The kids earned eggs during the lessons to trade for items to furnish their "house", or to play games or songs on the jukebox.  It's been 8 months since they started, and we're still singing some of the songs we learned!  Unfortunately, I had to let the subscription lapse due to finances, but I'm going to renew again once we start school.

Long story short - we started using Reading Eggs in January.  By March, Natalie and Theresa were both reading independently too!  Now there's no turning back - it's like jumping in the deep end.  Now that they know how to swim AND read, they're set free.  Natalie used to be a guesser - she'd see the first letter of a word, and make a dozen guesses as to what it was, rather than trying to read it.  We called Noelle "Reader Rabbit" and Natalie "Cheater Rabbit" (all in fun, of course) .  But now Natalie has made the jump and is officially a Reader Rabbit, too!

Now we just have to get the twins riding two-wheelers.....

Natalie, plowing through the entire Little Critter series 
And just so you know, this was not a sponsored post.  I'm just sharing something I found that works, with no compensation from Reading Eggs.  But if they wanted to give me a free subscription, I wouldn't complain!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Morning.

They all have their own beds, 
but they just can't seem to stay there all night.

This is what my room looked like this morning.

Right side.

Left side.

Middle.  Good morning, Sunshine!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sarah, Your Genius Is Showing...

Sarah left for college two weeks earlier than usual, because this year she's a freshman R.A. and had to go out for training.  She's spending this week in orientation and team-building exercises.  Next week the freshmen arrive, and classes begin the following week.

This week she's decorating her room and her door, and sending me periodic phone pictures of her efforts.  She had this great idea - she took apart a calendar with images of space, and attached all the pages together to create a poster.

Stroke of genius!  A use for old calendars, and an inexpensive poster.  

Today when we went to the Dollar Tree I saw a box of dollar calendars.  Vineyards, hot air balloons, kittens - all the usual suspects - and for the kids, muscle cars or My Little Pony.  Sure, I'll shell out a buck!

Made their first poster today.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


 One month ago, the twins were essentially non-swimmers.  Although they could swim for a short distance underwater, they usually stuck to splashing in the shallow end or playing on the steps.  All of my attempts to get them out deeper or to try to get them to tread water were met with shrieks, panic, and desperate arms clutching my neck for dear life.

We had been taking occasional swim lessons with a lifeguard at our pool.  When I say occasional, I mean a half an hour, one or two days a week, whenever her work schedule allowed.  I don't think they had more than 6 lessons all summer, and they didn't seem to be making any significant progress.

The last lesson we had was about a month ago, and the lifeguard cajoled them into getting into the deep end.  Once they got in, Light Bulb!  They realized that it wasn't any scarier there than in the shallow end.  They'd jump in next to the ladder, come to the surface, paddle like mad for the ladder, get out, and do it again.

After about 50 repeats of this, the lifeguard asked if they wanted to try it from the diving board.  I really didn't expect either of them to take the bait, and if I'd had to pick, I would have predicted Natalie would be the one with enough guts to go for it, since Noelle was the one who put up the most fuss whenever I tried to get her in the deep end.

To my amazement, Noelle was the first one to make the jump.  She angled her jump from the board toward the ladder, and surprised herself by being able to swim the short distance with ease.  Of course, Natalie couldn't take that lying down.

That was the morning that changed everything.  Since then, they OWN the pool.  There's nowhere they can't go.  They can go after the diving rings now.  They're working on their cannonball and pencil dives.  Their latest challenge/thrill is having me push their heads down in the deep end to try to touch the bottom of the pool with their feet.

Noelle still won't dive without holding her nose.

CANNONBALL!!!!!!! (Natalie)

And the added bonus, for Mom, is that that they're so completely exhausted by the time we go home that they can't wait to fall asleep.  Win-win.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


My cell phone camera stinks.  And of course I woke him up with the stupid shutter sound that I should have deactivated.  But aw, shucks, anyway!


Our friends had a tree come down in their backyard during a recent storm.  Unfortunately, it came to rest entangled in some phone lines, which left their neighbors without phone service.  The phone company told our friends they would not come out to restore service until the tree was removed by the homeowners, namely, our friends.  

Long story short - my husband volunteered to take down the tree in exchange for the firewood.  We thought Brian would be around to help, but it turned out that he was either busy or gone each day.  

That didn't stop Andy, of course.

Phone lines - stronger than they look.

Two days and three chainsaws later - mission accomplished.