Teaching My Baby To Read

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Monthly Archives: December 2013

I’ll pass on GoldieBlox


I really wanted to love Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine, but I don’t.

When it comes to teaching girls about STEM, I’m 110% on board. I’m also a Stanford graduate, just like the CEO of GlodieBlox. So if anyone should be writing a rave revue about GoldieBlox, the engineering toy for girls, it should be me.

But it isn’t.

The truth is that I don’t find Goldie Blox that different from classic toys like Gears Go Round.

In terms of learning and skills, it’s on-par with the LEGO Friends series for girls.

Honestly, after reading all of the hype, I thought GoldieBlox was going to be something mind blowing, like Snap Circuits.

So I was really disappointed. In my opinion, GoldieBlox isn’t amazing, it’s just another toy. 


Also, the pieces have a really hard time sticking together. See those little animals in the picture? My daughter had a lot of trouble putting them on. They don’t “click” like Legos or Snap Circuits. This is big problem!

Another issue I have is the YouTube controversy. Like a lot of moms, I watched the GoldieBlox promo video featuring a rewritten song by the Beastie Boys. I thought this video was inspiring and immediately whipped out my credit card.

What I didn’t know, is that GoldieBlox did not have the copyright authorization to use the song in the first place.

As a writer, this really bothers me because I’ve had my own work stolen.

And hello? Engineers follow rules about not stealing or misappropriating people’s patents too. What type of lesson is this for girls?

So sorry Debbie Sterling. This will be the only GoldieBlox product I buy.


A blogging holiday

Merry Christmas from Edmonds!

Merry Christmas from Edmonds!

Merry Christmas! Tomorrow afternoon my kids are officially on winter break and I’d like to spend as much time with them as possible. We also have twenty people coming to our house for Christmas dinner and our house is, ahem, not as clean as it could be.

So I thought it was high time for a blogging holiday. I’ll be back in two weeks with new posts.

In the meantime, I’m going to experiment (starting tomorrow) with putting up a static page. I’m still debating if I should go with Where to Start, or Afterschooling. If you have a strong opinion on the subject, please feel free to leave your two cents!

See you in 2014!!!

A Gift Idea Kids Can Make for Grandparents

Hello readers! I’m very excited to share a guest post today from Darlene Beck Jacobson. 

You can find more of Darlene’s crafts, recipes and activities for children by visiting her Blog: http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com  Website: www.darlenebeckjacobson.com or on Twitter @dustbunnymaven .

Darlene’s Middle Grade Historical book WHEELS OF CHANGE is coming out in 2014 with Creston Books.

(Photo curtsey of Darlene Beck Jacobson)

(Photo curtsey of Darlene Beck Jacobson)

Here is a great last minute gift idea your kids can make for grandparents:


Take 1 cup of cinnamon, 1 cup of applesauce and 3 tablespoons of white glue. Mix it into a dough . Roll it out and cut into festive shapes with cookie cutters. Poke a hole in the top with a straw to put a ribbon through. Let them dry over night. When dry, you can wrap them as is (they smell heavenly) or paint the front with glue and sprinkle with glitter for a “sparkly” touch.

I made these with my children years ago and they still smell great every Christmas when I hang them on the tree.

Food for thought: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song. ” Lou Holtz

During this holiday season, tap your “inner bird” and sing!

Cinnamon star ornaments are a fun craft to make.

Third Graders Have a Lot to Learn…


…and sometimes they describe the process in really funny ways. Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Everett Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20131215/BLOG5205/712159971/Life-only-follows-Plan-A-in-books

The final five


You’re looking at the final five books my daughter Jenna needed to read to complete her reading challenge and earn an American Girl doll.

In the five months it took for Jenna to master three complete sets of Bob Books, she learned to read.

(Meanwhile, I’ve now watched three full seasons of Battle Star Galatica on Netflix, so if you came to this post because of the title, I’m winking at you!)

It took a lot of patience and creativity to get Jenna to this point, but wow! Yesterday morning when she saw those five books and knew that we could possibly go to the American Girl Store that afternoon, Jenna sat at the kitchen table and cranked through them.


Then we got to the mall where we were volunteering for two hours at the holiday giving tree, and Jenna read through the books again.

You know what that means!


By the time we left the AG store with Saige, a matching outfit for Jenna, and Saige’s accessories, I had spent $200.

It was worth it.

Not only is Jenna reading, but she also has the satisfaction of accomplishing something that took months of work to earn. That’s a great lesson to learn at four-years-old.

So please excuse the mommy-brag, but– Hurrah!

This Christmas, Level 3 Bob Books; next Christmas, Magic Treehouse.

I’m pretty sure it’s possible!






Seeing the Nutcracker? Go prepared!


Is a performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” on your calendar this December? If so, you can make the experience even more meaningful for you kids with a little advanced planning. Check out Tchaikovsky Discovers America by Classical Kids.

Tchaikovsky Discovers America tells the fictional story of real-life composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky running away from reporters with help from two children. The trio takes the train to Niagra Falls. Along the way, they learn about Tchaikovsky’s greatest musical accomplishments, as well as life in Russia.

This production is from Classical Kids, the same company that created Beethoven Lives Upstairs and Mr. Bach Comes To Call. Most of their CDs are available at your local library. But my family owns the entire Classical Kids collection because of  Carschooling. I consider it money well spent!

Raising girls in the internet age


Here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from today’s Everett Herald: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20131208/BLOG5205/712089969/Online-cruelty-can-inflict-harm-far-past-the-teen-years

Create a Cozy Reading Nook


Don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t one of those fabulous ideas you find on Pinterest where people have turned a closet into an amazing, built-in bookshelf bonanza.

This post is about a $30 chair from IKEA, an old baby blanket and a box.

That’s all you need to create a special area in your house that’s just for kids, and just for reading.


Here are the four essentials:

  1. Something to sit on (chair, beanbag, pillow, sleeping bag)
  2. A warm blanket
  3. A listening audience of stuffed animals
  4. A box with super easy books

How easy should the books be? That depends on your child. You want the books to be ones that your son or daughter can easily read independently. In my daughter’s case, we add Homemade Books and Bob Books that she’s already mastered.

On a personal note, this is the first time in four years that our reading nook has had a chair in it, instead of only a pillow. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but our nook is up in a landing, which would be otherwise unusable space. For years I’ve been afraid of kids falling over the banister. I didn’t want anything up there they could climb.

But (knock on wood), I think it’s safe now. Jenna’s almost four-and-a-half years old. It’s hard to believe! Time goes by so fast…

Killing time becomes “learning time”

This purse is packed for action!

This purse is packed for action!

The curse of the younger sibling: always being dragged along to something. Soccer, baseball, guitar, talent show rehearsals; you name it, it’s boring.

As an Afterschooling mom on the go, I try to be prepared. Killing time can become learning time with the proper materials.


Right now our kit is stocked with Bob Books, money, an abacus, tally sticks, counters, a pad of paper and a pencil. This is enough equipment to do lots of fun things.

I know December can be crazy. It’s easy for us all to feel stressed…

But sometimes the thing that you really want (your child’s mind to be enriched) can also be the thing that makes life easier (keep your kid busy).

All you need is a Ziplock bag!

Our backyard earthquake kit

Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Not perfect, but better than nothing.

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

I didn’t have enough page space to say it, but restocking our  earthquake kit from two years ago was like opening up a time capsule. The outfit I put in there for myself? There was a nursing shirt! Whoa!

Part of what was inside.

Part of what was inside.

The major improvement I added this year was I bought a Mountain House Just In Case Essential Assortment Bucket from Amazon. It has a shelf-life of eight years.

I can’t help but thinking I could still be doing this all better. I bet if you’re an LDS mom reading this, you’re having a good chuckle about how pathetic I am. If so, feel free to share tips and links.  🙂