Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Funnies–Cleaning Edition

Have you ever noticed that kids like to pick things up and put them down somewhere else? And then complain they can’t find that thing? That’s what my kids do. And I’ll admit I’m not the best at cleaning the house, so things end up pretty messy sometimes! Today’s funnies are all about cleaning and why it’s not done.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

What I’ve Been Reading #71

I remember a friend of mine raving about Snow Flower And The Secret Fan years ago, but I never read the book until just recently. “In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an ‘old same,’ in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of footbinding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.” I found this book interesting, but slow to get through. The author researched the time period extremely well and at the end, there is a description of her trip to China to do so, which I found almost as interesting as the book itself. The descriptions of footbinding were written in a way to show how awful it was, but it is definitely something worth knowing about. What was most interesting to me was the secret language and the customs of women that were described in the story. The friendships of the women in the story were born out of these traditions and it was most interesting to see the way that turned out in the end.

Have you read this book? I know it’s an older one!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bring Back The Whirl-O

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I’m not sure if the above picture looks familiar to anyone, but you may recognize it because it is a classic tin toy that teaches kids about magnets, light and color, and the wheel and axle, called the Whirl-O. Regal Games, a small business that makes retro games, is trying to bring the Whirl-O back to the market and into your homes through a new Kickstarter campaign.

Simon was very excited to try out this toy for us and he was able to get the hang of spinning the smaller disc around the bigger one pretty quickly.

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What I did not realize and what Simon pointed out, is that the smaller disc is actually a top! (He called it a dreidel!) The Whirl-O® is a magnetic tin top launcher. To get started, roll the top along the two parallel disks also known as the rails. This is called the “Simple Spin” or “Takin’ it for a Whirl”. The new design also features a color morphing feature. I pointed this out to Gabbie, who just laughed at me, but it is pretty cool that our blue and purple Whirl-O looks purple while it spins!

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The Simple Spin is just the beginning. Once you have mastered the Simple Spin, it’s time to launch your top. Get it going fast and smooth, and then use the hubcap to give it a good thump on a table. With some practice, you can time it so you’ll know where the top will land. The faster your Simple Spin, and the better you stick the landing, the longer the top will stay spinning. We had a fun time trying to get the top to spin out of the rails. I am sure that Zachary could do it, but he didn’t want me to take his picture, so he stopped trying! Kids – and even some of us adults – will be addicted to the Whirl-O® in no time!

The Whirl-O® is both entertaining and educational, and is a great way for kids to explore concepts like magnets, the wheel and axle, and the role our eyes play in our perception of light. Regal Games has even provided a set of free lesson plans written for elementary students. Download three free lesson plans here. Share them with your kids’ teachers for bonus points!

We can all help to bring back the Whirl-O®! The Kickstarter campaign to bring back the Whirl-O® is running now through February 11. What is very cool is that if you pledge $8 or more, you will receive your own Whirl-O! Learn more and make your donation here.

Connect with Regal Games: Facebook -- WebsiteKickstarter

I received this toy in exchange for my review and sharing of the Kickstarter campaign. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Writing Disability

As a parent, there are things that happen that you never thought you would experience. For me, having a child with a learning disability is one of those things. A long time ago, I was a school social worker in charge of organizing and facilitating IEP meetings, and now I’m signing pages and agreeing to services as a parent.

You may recall my concern over Zachary’s reading and especially his writing skills. He has had difficulty with writing since pre-K, when he refused to even make a mark on a paper. As far as reading, he was considered on track until the end of first grade, when he fell behind. This year, it has becoming painfully clear that his difficulty with writing is not normal. As I have been saying, when you are in kindergarten and you write like a kindergartner, it’s normal. When you are in first grade and you write like a kindergartner, it’s acceptable. When you still write like a kindergartner in second grade, it becomes worrisome.

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Beginning of this school year – “I am thankful to see my friends.” and December – “This field trip was special because we did a mitzvah.” (He wrote this over from his writing journal).

For reading, Zachary has been going to the resource room and his teacher sends me progress notes. His reading is improving, as in the beginning of the year he read 31 words correctly in a minute and most recently he read 75 words per minute – which actually meets the mid-year goal for second graders. He also has been working with a private tutor once per week. We had his eyes tested at an eye doctor and he does not need glasses. He sees an Occupational Therapist for help with his body awareness and muscle strength, which may be effecting is handwriting. As far as his handwriting, if he concentrates, he can write letters correctly, though when he reverses letters, I am not sure he realizes they are wrong.

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It makes me sad that he wrote that it is fun to write, because writing is hard for him. In fact, when asked to write a wish for the Jewish New Year, he wrote that he wished he could write better. His problem is when trying to express himself in writing, he cannot get his thoughts onto the paper in a way that is legible to anyone besides himself. His letters are backwards or in the wrong place, letters are left out or mixed up, and words are spelled incorrectly. Much of the time, his teacher writes his thoughts out for him.

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From October, but this is the most recent example I have of an unedited piece of Zachary’s writing.

At our most recent meeting, the team decided that Zachary has a “specific learning disability in the area of written expression.” This means that he is eligible for services through the school district to help him with his ability to spell and to therefore express himself in writing.

I admit that it is difficult for me to know that Zachary has this problem. I do not have experience with learning disabilities in myself or other family members. I hope that the extra support from the school district will help him improve, and otherwise I hope that in the future his teachers will be willing to work with him to support his individual needs. My worst fear would be his school being unable to work with him (since he does not go to public school) but so far, they have been supportive and helpful.

If anyone out there has any advice or has experienced something similar, I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It’s Okay #54

It’s okay…

…that it feels like winter is ending – and I know it isn’t, so I finally ordered my new winter coat. I chose this one:

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…that I’m now watching Breaking Bad. A little late on that one, but I’m enjoying it!

…that Dave’s car died last week. So we now have a new car – which I refuse to drive since he is paranoid. It’s a Nissan Rogue.

…that I’m supposed to be working on Simon’s kindergarten application and all I can think is why didn’t I save a copy of the other kids’ applications because the questions are the same!

…that I almost forgot to write this post. And I’m not really sure what I’ll be writing the rest of the week!

Monday, January 19, 2015

School Projects

On this day off from school, I thought I would share some of the kids’ recent school projects. Mostly art related!

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Simon’s snowman made from stamping white paint with various items such as paper towel rolls.

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Simon’s pom pom painting – his favorite colors are red and green.

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Simon’s hibernating bear.

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Zachary’s tea cup painting – I love this so much I want to frame it and hang it in the kitchen!

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Zachary’s two-headed dragon.

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The cover of Zachary’s report on China.

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Gabbie’s dinosaur project. She wrote a description of the dinosaur as follows:
”The Dancesorous species are famous for their dancing. The violetmacho organization discovered the species. Their dancing career ended forever when the spotasorous attacked them. They eat small fish. They also eat turtles. They usually live to 90 years. They can grow to 6 feet long.”

Have a great day off, if you have one!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Funnies–Dentist Edition

This week, a few of us were joking around about dental hygienists and how they like to talk while they are cleaning your teeth. I thought dentists might be a fun topic for today’s funnies! Enjoy.

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By the way, why would anyone want to be a dental hygienist anyway?