Teaching My Baby To Read

Home » 2013 » June

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Get your Pencils Ready!


My I Brake for Moms column from today on page 2 of “The Good Life Section” in The Sunday Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130630/BLOG5205/706309977/-1/blog5205#Gap-between-generations-is-sometimes-a-gulf

Son of a Gambling Man

English: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

English: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve kicked off my summer reading by learning a bit about Nevada and the history of Las Vegas!

Son of a Gambling Man: My Journey from a Casino Family to the Governor’s Mansion by Governor Bob Miller is a real life American Dream story.   Governor Miller’s father, Ross Miller, was partial owner of the Rivera, and one of the early investors in Circus Circus.  He also had lunch with Jimmy Hoffa.

When Ross Miller moved his family out from Chicago in the 1950s, Las Vegas didn’t even have air conditioning.  Scorpions were a common household pest, and segregation was the norm.  Through incredible hard work and dedication, Ross Miller moved his family up in the world, but it meant rubbing elbows with Las Vegas elite, aka mobsters.

But Bob Miller’s path was very different.  This “son of a gambling man” went on to become a District Attorney, a Justice of the Peace, and the longest serving governor of Nevada.  He campaigned passionately for victim’s rights and stood up to the casinos in the middle of the Tailhook Scandal.  He also did a lot to heal relations with the African American community in Westside.

An interesting  aspect about this book is the inside look it gives into the 1995 movie Casino.  Son of a Gambling Man doesn’t have Sharon Stone, but it does have solid facts.

My favorite part of this memoir was the “unknowableness” of Ross Miller.  (Yes, I realize that’s not a word!)  But I think lots of adult children can relate to knowing their parents, but not really knowing them.  That situation can be universal.

Build a fairy house this summer

Our Fairy House

Our Fairy House

Jenna and I have been building up our fairy house this summer, right outside our living room window.

We’ve got a few man-made fairy artifacts to get us going, but really that’s cheating.  True fairy houses would be made of natural, non-living things.

Tracy L. Kane’s book Fairy Houses (The Fairy Houses Series) tells all about them.  It’s charming, with beautiful illustrations.


Now we’re just waiting for fairies!

4th of July Ice Pops

4th of July Popsicles

4th of July Popsicles

Rose from Light for Life just had a great blog post about popsicles.  (See Lemon Lime Pops for a Hot Summer Day.)  I too, recently treated myself to a popsicle mold set.

This summer my goal is to have “Never Have to Ask” popsicles in the freezer at all times.  That means, there will be healthy treats at the ready that my kids can eat whenever they want.

Here’s what I’m freezing for Fourth of July:

  • blueberries, and a tiny bit of maple syrup on the bottom
  • a little bit of whole milk
  • strawberry and coconut water puree on top


What’s your working number?

Ready for more Math for 2 and 3 year olds?

Find out what your preschooler’s “working number” is.  That’s the biggest possible number that your child can handle in his mind, even when he can’t see it.  He knows all of the possible ways to add and subtract to make that number.  The working number is the biggest quantity he can work with, at a 100% success rate.

Here’s how to find out what your child’s working number is.

There are three jelly beans.  How many are under my hand?

There are three jelly beans. How many are under my hand?



There are three jelly beans.  How many are under my hand?

There are three jelly beans. How many are under my hand?



There are three jelly beans.  How many are under my hand?

There are three jelly beans. How many are under my hand?



There are three jellybeans.  How many are under my hand?

There are three jellybeans. How many are under my hand?



When your child can get through all possible combinations with the number three, move on to four.  Then five, then six then… (you get the idea).

Finding out about your child’s working number gives you a glimpse into what he or she is developmentally ready for in math.

P.S. This activity is also an awesome way to keep young kids entertained while you’re waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant.  😉

Ko’s Journey Review

On Monday I signed up my eight-year-old son Bruce for Ko’s Journey.  We got a great deal through Homebuyer’s Coop that’s good until June 30th (link here that gets me points or something.)

Bruce has just finished Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions 4th grade, so I figured Ko’s Journey would be an appropriate level for him.

It turns out that it is and it isn’t.  I’d say Ko’s Journey is falling into the easy range.  I did have to stop and teach Bruce how to multiply extremely large numbers like 2,500 X 380.  He also needed to review multiplying decimals, and figuring out percents.  So that’s all been great.

But Ko’s Journey isn’t so challenging that I feel like Bruce is learning a ton Take that opinion however you wish.  That might be a good thing for a child who is math-phobic.  Ko’s Journey isn’t so hard that it’s scary.

Bruce has probably played Ko’s journey about 4 and a half hours by now.  (Yes, that’s a lot of screen time.  No, I’m not evil.)

Today was the first day of summer vacation and he begged me to play.  I figured, what the heck?  It’s educational and it’s summer.  Plus, that freed me up to read library books with my daughter.

The weird thing is that Bruce has already completed 75% of the online portion of the game.  It’s supposedly a 15 hour program.  But I guess the time allotment is different for every child.

There’re also some hands-on activities that come in the educator’s guide with Ko’s Journey, but we haven’t done those yet.

If you’re familiar with Dreambox, Ko’s Journey is really different.  I don’t think this could be a stand alone program (although I don’t think Dreambox should fly solo either.)  But I would say that Ko’s Journey is a great supplement.

Bruce is really enjoying Ko’s Journey a lot, but he’s almost done.

Is there anyone who could please tell me what Descartes’ Cove is like?  😉

Sweet Mercy, by Ann Tatlock

Looking for a tame book for your teenager?  “Sweet Mercy” by Ann Tatlock would definitely fit the bill.  It’s a gentle coming of age book set in the Prohibition era.  FYI: this books is published by Bethany House, so there is a religious element going throughout the book.

The main character, Eve, is very self-righteous.  When she comes to help out at her uncle’s Lodge in Ohio, she thinks she knows everything. But pretty soon Eve starts learning that world isn’t black and white, and that there are lots of gray areas that are difficult to navigate.  Sometimes the right path, isn’t so easy to discern.

The only thing that bugged me about the book (spoiler alert!) is that at the end, Eve gives up her dream of going to college to become a pastor’s wife.

In my opinion Christian authors need to be very careful about the message they send to young girls, especially with this whole “Quiverfull Movement” out there.  Why did Ann Tatlock have to throw that zinger in there at the end?

It wouldn’t have changed the story at all to have allowed Eve to go to college; it would have made the narrative stronger.  It probably also helps pastors out a lot to have an educated spouse.

But college issues aside, this is still a great book.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

Yesterday’s Mr. Mom is Today’s SAHD


Happy Father’s Day! 

Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today in The Herald.


Harry Potter, Muggles, Squibs, and Giftedness in Family Trees


If you are looking for a serious, well researched, scientific study of giftedness in family trees, you’ve taken a wrong turn at King’s Cross Station.  Please check out “A review of research on parents and families of gifted children” instead.

But if you’ve ever stayed awake at night overanalyzing Harry Potter and wondering what J.K. Rowling might be saying about “giftedness”, then get your wands ready!

Let’s start with a vocabulary review, shall we?  (Yes, Hermione, I realize you already know this.)

Wizard/Witch: A character in Harry Potter that can do magic.
Muggle: A character that cannot do magic.
Mudblood: A bad word for a witch or wizard born into a Muggle family.
Pure-blood: A wizard who has a purely magical heritage.
Half-blood: A wizard who has one parent who is Muggle and one parent who is magical.
Squib: A character born into a wizarding family that cannot do magic.

Now, some words from our own world:

Gifted: A loaded term, but usually meaning an IQ of 130 or above.
Neruotypical: A “normal”, healthy child.
Twice Exceptional: Gifted, but also has special needs.  (Also called 2e.)
I’ve never been to Hogwarts but I did grow up in The San Diego Seminar Program for highly gifted kids.  Now I’m a parent of a gifted child too. I’m also married in a family with experience in gifted-ed.

If we were a wizarding family, Slytherin snobs would probably accept us.  (Actually, I know some Slytherins in real life.  I met them in college.)

Of course, we’d much rather be placed in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff.  That’s because various branches of our extended family include witches, wizards, Muggles, and gasp, Squibs.

Some of us went to college, some of us went to fancy colleges, and some of us are still working on graduating…  Some of us know how to design stuff that goes into your camera, some of us can actually remember to bring that camera on vacation…

We all have our special abilities to admire.

Sometimes I think Muggle relatives have it easy.  They get to cruise along in regular or honors classes, get invited to dances, and hang out with cool kids at lunch.  Nobody in their crowd entertains people by reciting the first 21 digits of pi.

Ask the Muggle relation and she might say the opposite.  “Just because you’re extra smart, it doesn’t mean you’re magic!  Why are you wearing those robes?  Ack!  You’re so embarrassing!”

It’s no wonder Petunia and Lily Evans have issues.

Another problem wizarding families have is when a child is twice exceptional.  Think about Ariana Dumbledore.  She’s a witch, but she also had some magical control challenges.

Just like in real life, J.K. Rowling’s world doesn’t have an easy fit for Ariana.  There is no 2e program at Howarts, so Ariana ends up being homeschooled.  Sound familiar?

In my own life, I’m forever grateful that I grew up in the Seminar Program, and that my son’s school district has a gifted education program too.

The wonderful thing about public schools for gifted children is that ALL gifted children are included.  There’s no Lucius Malfoy telling kids “You’re not wizard enough,” and only admitting pure-bloods.

It’s a different story at private schools for gifted youth.  That 30K tuition keeps a lot of Hufflepuffs out.

Public school gifted programs are especially critical for Muggle-borns.

Because let’s face it, I’m going to make sure my kid passes his O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S someday.  “Been there, done that!  Let’s get out my old potions book.”

But that Muggle-born witch from down the street?  Her parents are new to this wizarding stuff.  “Why are you so obsessed with owls?  Would you please stop floating in the air!  Hogwarts?  Wouldn’t you be happier at your neighborhood school?”  They love her, but it can be hard to understand what her brain needs to thrive.

Think about Hermione.  What would have happened to her without Hogwarts?  She would probably have gone to Muggle school and pretended like she couldn’t do magic.

I don’t have a magic wand.  I don’t live in 12 Grimmauld Place either.  There’s no family tree tapestry hanging on my wall, waiting to be smited.

But if there was, I could probably look at that family tree and tell you something special about each entry.  It doesn’t matter if we are wizard, witch, Muggle, or Squib.  We all weave together into one family.

That’s what’s magic.

parentingthegiftedblogtour2013 (1)

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to read the rest of the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour

Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour, 2013

parentingthegiftedblogtour2013 (1)

Welcome to the 2013 Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour!

This international blog tour is organized by parents who met on The Well Trained Mind Message boards. We come from different parts of the world, different school choices, and different social and economic backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common. We know that parenting a gifted child can sometimes be as challenging as it is rewarding.

If you have ever woken up at 3 AM in the morning wondering “What am I going to do with this child?” then this blog tour is for you!

Starting Friday June 14th the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour will discuss some of the most pertinent issues facing gifted education today:

 On June 14th Sceleratus Classical Academy will kick off our tour with “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”

On June 15th Only Passionate Curiosity will share “Maturity vs. Ability; It’s a Big Deal”.

On June 16th Teaching My Baby to Read will feature “Harry Potter, Muggles, Squibs, and Giftedness in Family Trees”.

On June 17th Homeschooling: or Who’s Ever Home will write about “Nurturing Musical Talent in the Gifted Child”.

On June 18th Strader Spiel  will discuss “Homeschooling a Gifted Child with Special Needs” and The Washington Collation of Gifted Education will share “I’m an Advocate and So Are You”.

On June 19th Northwoods Classical Academy will write about “The Making of a Mathlete”.

On June 20th Homeschooling Hatters will share “Just Let Him Be a Kid”, and Sceleratus Classical Academy will end our tour with a guest post titled “When a Flower Blooms”.

A difficult thing to understand about children with high IQs is that just because they are gifted, it doesn’t mean they are easy to teach or parent. In fact, often times the opposite is true. But finding friends who can relate to your problems can be really hard.  Either you sound like a braggart, a whiner, or a really bad parent.

This blog tour is written by people who understand what you’re going through. We understand.  We get it.  We are sending encouragement your way!  So the next time you wake up at 3 AM worrying about your child, at least you’ll know that you aren’t alone.

Thanks for being with us on this journey!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to read the rest of the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour

SET, my new favorite card game!


My sorority sister was visiting a few weekends ago, and she brought us the card game SET.  Having never played SET before, boy did she kick my butt!  But I’ve been practicing a lot since then, and I’m getting better.  This is one card game that’s challenging and addictive.

The goal of the game is to find three cards that are the same in their sameness, or the same in their differences.  There are four categories:

  1. Number
  2. Color
  3. Shape
  4. Pattern

Here are some examples of SETs:

All have different colors, different shapes, same number, and same pattern

All have different colors, different shapes, same number, and same pattern

All have different colors, different shapes, different patterns, and different number

All have different colors, different shapes, different patterns, and different numbers

All have same color, same pattern, same number, and different shape

All have same color, same pattern, same number, and different shapes

All have different number, different shape, different color and different pattern

All have different numbers, different shapes, different colors and different patterns

I brought SET into the 2nd grade classroom where I volunteer yesterday, and the kids went nuts. They had all played SET before with a previous volunteer. So, wow, it was pretty crazy.  I thought it was going to be a pretty tame card game, but we got so loud that I was worried a teacher would come shush us.  Suffice to say, the kids loved it just as much as I do!

Grief in the PNW

“North of Hope” by Shannon Huffam Polson, is a book about grief set in the Pacific Northwest.  It tells the story of Shannon’s rafting journey in Alaska, roughly one year after her father and step-mother were killed by a bear along the same route.

Right off the bat the plot-line should tell you that this isn’t exactly a “fun” read.  But I was hoping it would be enlightening.

On that count, it was and it wasn’t.

My main issue with this memoir is that Shannon herself comes across as very self-absorbed and self-righteous.  I feel bad even saying that, because I’m sure that in real life that isn’t true one bit!

But the story line implied that Shannon’s way of grieving was the right way of grieving, that nobody else in her entire family could possibly be hurting as much as she was hurting, and that the only glimmer of happiness Shannon felt all year was when other people acknowledged her severe grief.

For example, she flips out when somebody suggests taking a picture at her father’s funeral.  There is a HUGE amount of judgment in this scene, even though in many families, it is perfectly okay to take pictures at funerals, and is in fact encouraged; especially if relatives are traveling long distances (like to Alaska!) and rarely see one another.  But the author never seems to consider other people’s point of view.

Everyone grieves in different ways.  I don’t think one way of grieving is better or worse than another.  I kept waiting and waiting for Shannon to come to this realization too in this book, but she never did.  That’s what made her come across as unlikeable.  Her view seems to be the only view she considers worth exploring.

I’m sure in real life, none of that is true, and that Shannon Polson is a perfectly lovely person to be around.  So I’m guessing that she was trying to make the point that grief and depression can really change your personality.

P.S: I received a copy of “North of Hope” from Booksneeze, in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Showing Genuine Appreciation

I'm going to catch my kids "being good".

I’m going to catch my kids “being good”.

Our popcorn experiment continues!  It went 110% awesome for the first two days, and then started a slow decline after that.  But once the jars got filled up that first time, so did everyone’s energy levels.  Now we are changing things up, and back in action.

What's earning popcorn right now!

What’s earning popcorn right now!

Right now, we are examining gratitude and appreciation.  We had a big family discussion on what it means to show genuine appreciation, and are putting that talk into action.

How to get along with your fellow humans can be the hardest thing to teach.

How to get along with your fellow humans can be the hardest thing to teach.

For more ideas about Social Emotional Learning, check out my new Pinterest board E.Q. versus I.Q.

Good Neighbors Make Good Fences

Can you find the secret gate?

Can you find the secret gate?

Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today in The Herald.


Dipping our toes into Story of the World 3, Activity Guide

This summer my kids and I are going to be exploring Susan Wise Bauer’s “Story of the World, History for the Classical Child, Volume 3, Early Modern Times”.

We have already listened to SOTW III a couple of years ago in the car.  This time around, we are listening, reading, and doing some of the projects in the activity guide.

Catherine the Great Paper dolls from SOTW III

Catherine the Great Paper dolls from SOTW III

I’ll be blogging about our SOTW III adventure, and updating the SOTW Pinterest Board I’m making with The Younger Mrs. Warde from Sceleratus Classical Academy.

Click here to see our SOTW Pinterest Board.

As you can see from our picture, we jumped into SOTW III in the middle, because Catherine the Great is of particular interest to our whole family.  But now we are back at the beginning, taking things chapter by chapter.

As always, I’m considerably impressed by what Susan Wise Bauer has accomplished.