Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day Boxes

Doug was in charge of helping the kids with their valentines day boxes this year.  They use these in their homeschool valentine exchange party.   I think they turned out great!  (They sure look better than the red shoe boxes covered in glitter glue and heart stickers that I used to make.)

Marcus helped create a purple minion box. 

And Sophie helped create an R2D2 box.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beco Babycarrier Makeover and Nursing Cover

Hi There Everyone,

For those that don't know, we are expecting our third child sometime in September.  SO--I have been doing some sewing/nesting in preparation. 

The first thing on my list was to find a way to spruce up my old Beco 4G babycarrier.  Marcus and Sophie pretty much lived in this carrier from the time they were babies until they were as old as 3 or 4.  It had seen a lot of use to say the least.  The straps were faded, and I had sort of fallen out of love with the fabric. 

Here are the before pictures of the carrier:


And here are the after pictures:

 I starting out trying to dye the carrier with rit dye in the washing machine.  I was trying to re-darken the faded, black straps.  That didn't really do much.  (Just made a mess in my washer!) I probably should have used a better type of dye, but I was impatient and just wanted to get this project finished. 
Here is me doing my "Vanna White pose" with the baby carrier.  I always feel like such an idiot getting my picture taken for these sewing projects.  :) 
I had some gorgeous Japanese fabric in my stash that I was going to turn into an apron.  (Echino for all of you fabric nerds.)  However, I figure I need another apron like a whole in the head---so I used the fabric to recover the carrier.  This was actually amazing fast and simple to do.  I just appliqued the new fabric over the old...and voila...a new looking baby carrier.  (I like this new fabric so much better!)

I had enough fabric left over to sew a matching nursing cover.   

Here's the matching nursing cover.  As you can see, I only know one "Vanna White" pose.  You can also see that I haven't gotten around to weeding much this pregnancy. 

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sewing for my Mama

Here's a little sewing I did for my mama for Mother's Day.....

The first thing I made was a fabric journal cover.  This cover was made to fit just a standard sized memo book you can buy at the store.  (I wanted to make it fit something standard and easy to come by so you could replace the journal easily when the paper was used up.)

I used a natural colored linen for the main fabric.  Then I quilted a little "strip" together out of some pretty scrap fabrics I had in my stash.  I then embroidered it with a retro looking kitty and added her name. 

The inside of the journal is lined in one of my favorite Heather Bailey fabrics.  (It is called "Church Flowers" and it is from her nicey jane collection.)  I also added a ribbon bookmark just because.

I had some extra fabric, so I also made a simple fabric bookmark that was personalized for her.
Fabric Bookmark Front

Fabric Bookmark Back
Finally, I stitched up some flour sack towels and embroidered some cute, colorful animal sayings on them.

Well, that's all folks!  Thanks so much for looking!  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Reading Lesson-My Review

When it came time to teach my children how to read, I did a LOT of research on the various theories, methods, and products available to teach reading.   One product that I liked right away was The Reading Lesson.  
The Reading Lesson is a complete reading program created especially for young children.  Before beginning the program, children need very little prior knowledge of the alphabet or phonics.    Everything is taught within the context of the lesson.  Lessons are also taught in a way that makes learning to read very simple.   In other programs I have tried, they make learning to read very complicated.  Children are expected to memorize long lists of phonics rules—and then all of the exception to these “rules” that we have in the English language.   Children will not need to do that in The Reading Lesson.   Yet, they somehow manage to give a very thorough introduction to phonics without making it so complicated.

Overview of the Program:
I think it is important for the parent to read the introductory material at the beginning of the book.  Don’t skip over this material!  It is short, well written, and very much “to the point”.  This material also gives suggestions on how to keep children motivated during their reading lesson, and it provides pacing suggestions for children of various ages. 

The book is divided into 20 different lessons.  However, each lesson will most likely be spread out through multiple days (or even weeks).  Parents are instructed to move through the book at their child’s individual pace. 

Another thing you will notice right away in The Reading Lesson is the unique use of font size throughout the book.  In the beginning of the book, the font size is very large, and there is a lot of blank, negative space on the page.  My son (5 years old at the time we went through these lessons) very much appreciated this aspect of the book!   It made it so that his little eye muscles didn’t have to work so hard when learning to read.   It also allowed him to easily complete several pages at each lesson with very little “work”—which gave him a sense of confidence.  As you continue on in the book, the font gradually (and very slowly) becomes smaller and smaller.  There is also more text on the pages as you continue on.   This is one thing I found VERY unique about The Reading Lesson.  I have yet to see that in any other “learn to read” book.

The next thing you will notice about The Reading Lesson is the unique use of symbols and marks on the letters.   For example, many young children struggle with telling “b” from “d” when first learning to read.  So, beginning in lesson 5 when the letters “b” and “d” are both used, they put a little dot inside of the letter b so students can easily tell that letter apart.  Again, my children really liked this!  I was initially worried that they would become overly reliant on these little marks when telling letters apart.   I was worried that once we removed the dots, they would not be able to tell the letters apart anymore.   However, a year later, my children now very seldom mix those two letters up even without the special dots.  So it wasn’t a problem.   

Notice how the letter "b" is uniquely distinguished between the letter "d".

Another symbol that you will notice are the little lines under the letters.  This is suppose to provide a reminder to children about which letters they need to make the sound of when reading.  Another unique feature of The Reading Lesson is that consonant and vowel blends (such as “th” and “ee”) are taught VERY early on.   The children are also introduced to “silent” letters right away (example:  the silent “e” common at the end of words.)   These lines are there to remind children which letters make their individual sounds, which letters need to be blended together, and which letters are silent.  Words are introduced and reviewed over and over again with these “helping” markers.   (There is a lot of built in review which I appreciated.)   After awhile, most children will no longer have to “sound the word out” and will eventually be able to read the word by sight.  At that point, the “helping” symbols are eventually removed, and the words are written normally.    At the end of each lesson they give you a list of “key words” that your children should be very familiar with before moving on.   This list is sort of a warning that after this point, these words won’t be written with a bunch of “helping” markers.   This was extremely helpful.  I knew that if my kids were not fluently reading these words, I should go back and review the previous lesson before moving on.

Notice the lines under the different letters and consonant blends. 

 The final thing you will notice right away about this book are the cute black and white line drawings throughout the book.  Right away kids see that this is a book made for them!  I didn't see that in other "reading program" books on the market.  They were mostly just dry, pages full of text.  Some kids will also enjoy coloring these drawings in when they finish a page in their reading lesson.

What a typical day was like teaching this lesson:
 The thing I like MOST about The Reading Lesson is how easy it was to teach.  It requires next to no prep work.  It is very easy to open up the book and just start using it.   Typically, what I would do is pour myself another cup of coffee, and invite my kids to come and sit with me on the couch.  The book itself would guide me through any teaching that was required. 

If I happened to be starting a new lesson that day, I would very quickly read the one page introduction to the lesson before I called the kids over.  The introduction to the lesson tells you which letters or letter combinations will be introduced.    It also guides the parent on how to properly pronounce the sounds of these letters or letter combinations.   (It is VERY important to make sure you are properly pronouncing the phonemes when teaching a child how to read.) 

I was teaching two kids how to read simultaneously, so my children would then take turns reading directly from the book.  (All teaching and student work comes directly from that single book.)  My kids had about a 10-15 minute attention span when it came to a reading lesson, so we would typically get through 2-3 pages per day.  This was exactly the pacing suggestion given to us at the start of the book. 

My Bottom Line:
I compared The Reading Lesson thoroughly with other reading instruction books on the market within this same price range.  (My comparisons included some of the most popular reading instruction books available including:  Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons , The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, Reading Made Easy, and Phonics Pathways.  The simple fact of the matter is that all of these books are going to give your child a solid foundation when it comes to reading.  These books are popular for a reason.  HOWEVER---I found that only The Reading Lesson made learning to read a bit more fun for the child.  (Many of those other books were extremely dry and felt like a huge chore for the kids to get through.)  I also found The Reading Lesson to be extremely easy to teach.  I have never taught a child to read before—however, I was able to do so successfully with only this book.  This book required no teacher prep and was able to accomplish a huge amount of instruction in just 10-15 minutes per day. 

So what is my bottom line?  When it comes to finding a reading program under $30, The Reading Lesson is by far the best product out there in that price range. 

The same company, who makes The Reading Lesson, also provides these other products for sale.  Some parents may want to supplement the Reading Lesson with these optional books, DVDs, and CD-ROM s.  Here is my quick “review” on these “extras”--

Letter Sounds DVD--  This DVD (which runs approximately 44 minutes long) teaches children the basic sounds of the letters of the alphabet.  Parents can optionally use this DVD before or during The Reading Lesson.  My thoughts:  This DVD was nice.  However, I personally prefer the Leap Frog learning DVDs for teaching this information.   
The Reading Lesson Animated CD-Rom-  There is also an animated CD ROM available which walks you through every lesson in the original The Reading Lesson book.   Children who like being on the computer may prefer this method of instruction over the book (or along side the book).  This certainly isn’t an essential item to own, but it is a nice addition to the program.   (I should note that we are a mac family and had no problems getting this CD to install and run.  I can’t say that about a lot of educational CD-ROMs!)

The Storybook CD-ROM-  Another cute supplement to the program is the Storybook CD-ROM.  It contains 40 animated short stories for your child to read.  The animations do a nice job of keeping the child interested and motivate them to practice reading.  My children also enjoyed the “clickable” words if they got stuck.  Again, I wouldn’t say this product is essential to teaching your child how to read.  You can do the exact same thing by simply checking early readers out of the library and helping them with words they get stuck on.  However, children who like being on the computer, might be more motivated to practice reading with this product.  This product is also nice because it follows the same letter-sound introduction used in the lessons. (It is nearly impossible to find other readers that follow the exact introductory order used in The Reading Lesson.) 

The Writing Lesson-  The Writing Lesson is an inexpensive handwriting program which corresponds to the lessons in The Reading Lesson.  If your child is ready to learn handwriting when you are teaching them to read, you may want to get this product as a supplement.  This product comes on a CD, and gives you a plethora of writing exercises to chose from.  Parents are able to print just what they need and as many copies as they need for children in their family.  The CD contains three different scripts (primary, script, and cursive). It also contains activities that work on forming of all upper and lower case letters, common words, and even stories.  So this single product could potentially provide handwriting practice for an entire family from grades 1st-4th grade!   

Big Words For Little Kids:  Advanced Vocabulary for Elementary School Children--  This book teaches children specific strategies for figuring out the meaning of unknown words they encounter in their reading.   In this book, they systematically teach children to break familiar words into their individual parts (prefixes,  suffixes, and roots)….then transfer the meaning of those parts to new words.  I personally really liked the approach used in this book.  I have never seen a book like this written to the level of elementary aged students.  I plan to add this into our language arts program down the road. 

The Verbal Math Lesson-- There are two levels of these books which provide a step-by-step math program for children.  The first level is meant for children ages 4-7, and the second level is meant for children ages 7-8.    As the title implies, these books attempt to teach math completely verbally…. without paper and pencil.   So obviously, this program might be a good fit if you have a child who does well taking information in while listening.  If your child has poor receptive language skills, they are not going to do well in this program and may need a more visual or “hands-on” program instead.  As far as the quality of this program, I can see using this with a preschool or kindergartner who I wanted to gently introduce to math.  Many children this age do not have the fine motor skills to complete the more typical “worksheet” based math programs on the market.  As far as for older children (in the 7-8 year old range), I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable using this as my only math program.  I would definitely use this book to supplement another math program.  I found the book to contain some fantastic word problems and activities. 

Disclosure:  The products reviewed here were given to me free of charge in exchange for my HONEST review.   I was not obligated in any way to provide a favorable review.  These are my actual opinions of the product.
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Book Suggestions

Authors Note:  I originally published a Thanksgiving book list in 2011.  I wanted to republish this list updated with some new jewels that I have discovered.  My wish is that these books will help create some wonderful memories this holiday season, and remind us all to slow down and be thankful for all that we have.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  For me the holiday is extra special, because it was around this time five years ago that I first became a mother.  So I have an added reason to be thankful this time of year.  I also enjoy a reminder to slow down and really savor all that I have to be grateful for.  For me this time of year means crisp, fall days; sweaters; pumpkin pie; and time spent gathered with loved ones.  It doesn't get much better than that.

To help us all get in the mood for Thanksgiving, I recently filled our book basket with some of our favorite picture books for this holiday.  I don't know of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than time spent snuggled up with your children sharing a good book.  It is a surefire way to create some cherished holiday memories for both parent and child.   So--to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, here are some great books on the topic that you can share with your children.  Some are historical fiction, others celebrate our modern day version of the holiday, and some of just silly and fun--But they are all great books and worth a read!

I hope that you will take time out to make these stories a traditon in your family too! 

The Attached Mama's Thanksgiving Book List:

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell
This book is a new discovery for me, and I absolutely CAN NOT recommend it enough.  This book is about an older couple living alone named Ed and Ann.  In the book, Ann is making a delicious Thanksgiving feast but then.....poor Ann burns the dinner!   Ann feels just plain awful and decides to just spend Thanksgiving home alone, but Ed is hungry!  So he suggest that they go and try to find a restaurant that is open.  The only restaurant that they can find that is open is "The New World Cafe" a restaurant run by immigrants.  So they enter the restaurant and have a seat in the deserted dining room.  Little do they know, the owners of the restaurant left the door unlocked by accident.  They were planning their own Thanksgiving celebration.  They weren't planning to entertain customers too!  The restaurant owners try to chase the customers away by banging pots and pans at them.   However, the wise grandmother stops them: "Enough!  In old country we bang pots at woves, not hungry people.  Today is Thanksgiving Day.  Family cooks turkey big as doghouse, but we don't share?  Bah!"  So the restaurant owners include Ann and Ed in their celebration.  There is conversation, laughter, and even dancing at the celebration.  In the end, Ann agrees that burning the Thanksgiving dinner was the best thing she ever did!  This book reminds us that despite our cultural differences we are all people with much more in common than we think!  A great read!

The Memory Cupboard:  A Thanksgiving Story by Charlotte Herman
For young Katie, nothing compares to Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.  However, Katie is heartbroken when she breaks Grandma's cherished gravy boat at Thanksgiving dinner.   It is then, that Grandma shows Katie her special "memory cupboard".   This is an excellent book that teaches although we may grow attached to possessions, it is people who really matter.

Squanto's Journey:  The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Most children know the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.  However, many are not familar with the story of Squanto--arguably the true hero of Thanksgiving.  In this book, children will learn the remarkable story of the first Thanksgiving from the Native American point of view.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
This is another living history book that I highly recommend.   It is the story of three young pilgrims named Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton.  When they and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won't make it through the winter, and the colony's first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto.

This is the Turkey by Abby Levin, Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Here's a cute book that I would recommend for younger children just learning what Thanksgiving is all about.   The story begins with Max picking out a turkey at the grocery store.  It goes on to celebrate all that thanksgiving has to offer:  The food, the family, the preparation, and time spent with family.  This book also reminds us that our holidays don't always have to be perfect to be wonderful!

The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Green, Paintings by Susan Baber
Written in cumulative rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.  The repetitive text is fantastic for children learning to read as it gives them a chance to help tell the story.  What makes this book unique is the way that the story is told.  The book starts out showing the very first Thanksgiving feast, and slowly backtracks to tell the story of the Pilgrim's first year in America.

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
This book tells the story of a traditional New England Thanksgiving on a cranberry farm.  The book is a great reminder that we can't always judge 'a book by its cover' and that sometimes appearances may deceive.  Children will enjoy looking for Grandmother's secret and famous recipe for Cranberry Bread which is hidden in the book.  Baking this bread will become a wonderful new tradition for you and your family.

It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
We love reading poetry together as a family.  And after checking this book out of the library, I just knew that it would someday become a permanent member of our home library.  This collection of poetry talks about so many different aspects of this holiday--usually in a very humorous way.    This book contains poems about the very first Thanksgiving,  a funny poem about "Dad's football game" after the big meal, a poem about the Thanksgiving Day parade (where it is drizzling...isn't it always drizzling during the Thanksgiving Day parade?!),  and another very humorous poem about the things we do with all of those turkey leftovers.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
"Every once in a great while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing.  This is the story about one of those times."  So begins this wonderful account of Squanto's miraculous story.  As a young boy, he was captured, taken to Europe against his will, and sold into slavery.  However, that is not the end of Squanto's story.  Remarkably, he finds his way back across the Atlantic to the land he was born in.  And remarkably, he finds it into his heart to take pity on the English living on his land who he helps. 

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, Illustrated by Doris Barrette
This is a another great book for very young children and toddlers.  The pictures are charming and inviting, the text is simple, but the message is a good one. 

This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This book is written in a lyrical verse which makes it a joy to read aloud to children.  The illustration are meticulous and breathtaking.   Children will really get a sense of what life on the Mayflower might have been like. 

The Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
This was another book that we checked out and knew that we would one day have to buy.  My little girl actually cried when it came time to return this to the library!   That is how much she loved this book.  And I enjoyed reading it as much as my children enjoyed hearing it.  The book is a historical fiction which follows a cat who jumps aboard the Mayflower as it is departing England.  The cat is befriended by a young girl named Faith.  The book is richly illustrated and a pleasure to read.  The reader really gets a feel for what life might have been like for a child aboard the mayflower.

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George
This is a beautifully illustrated "living history" book for children written and carefully researched by Newberry Medal recipient Jean Craighead George.   This is a story of adventure, humanity, and compassion....this is the story of the very first thanksgiving day. 

This is just a small list of the many fantastic books available on this holiday.   My hope is that this list will help get you started on building your own Thanksgiving book basket.

Thanks for reading!

Links I'm Attached To:


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Book Suggestions

Headed to the pumpkin patch this year?  Why not fill your book baskets with some great pumpkin themed books this year!  There is just something about the cooler weather that makes me want to snuggle on the couch reading a great book to my children.  I hope that this short list of books helps inspire you to create some warm memories with literature.  
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs-  This is the story about how a farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a glorious sight. In the same way, God's transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light.
 After reading this book, head on over to one of my favorite blogs "My Montessori Journey" for a great go along project to do with your child.   The project is called, "Let Your Love Light Shine".  Just like a candle can light up a pumpkin, we can let our light shine from us.   Also check out "Totally Tots" crafts to go along with this book. 

Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller-  This book is out of print, but many libraries still have a copy.   In this book a mouse discovers a great new home when he finds an abandoned pumpkin in the forest.

Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor - This book is by one of my favorite author/illustrators Tasha Tudor.  It is a very charming, old fashioned Halloween story that is sure to become a favorite.  The story is simple, yet delightful.  In the book, Sylvie Ann wants to carve a wonderful "pumpkin moonshine" (that is what they used to call jack o'lanterns way back when in New England)--but she has to get her pumpkin home first!  Gorgeous illustrations!

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer- A great science book to tie in with a pumpkin book basket theme.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White- One lady ends up with WAY too many pumpkins.  Very cute story!

It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall- This book features some lovely illustrations.  It is a favorite with very young children!

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara-  This is a great "living math" book to read this time of year.  Children can explore concepts such as estimation, skip counting, and other strategies for determining how many seeds are in a pumpkin.  This would be a great book to read together before you actually carve a pumpkin so you can put some of these strategies into action.

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell-  This is a very cute story which does a great job demonstrating the life cycle of a pumpkin.  In this story, a boy name Tim carves his first pumpkin and names him "Jack".  After Halloween, "Jack" is put in the garden where he slowly decays.  The story follows Jack until Spring time comes and we find "Jack" has sprouted a whole crop of pumpkins!    Children may want to do their own "Pumpkin Jack" science experiment after reading this book by placing their fall pumpkins in the garden instead of the trash.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll- Two mice fall in love with the SAME pumpkin...What will they do?  This is a very cute story which illustrates the joy of sharing and giving.   This is a slightly longer picture book which might appeal to children in grades kindergarten to grade 3.

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington-  A great book for young children!  This book has gorgeous illustrations and describes the process of a seed growing into a pumpkin.

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper -  "Deep in the woods in an old white cabin, three friends make their pumpkin soup the same way every day. The Cat slices up the pumpkin, the Squirrel stirs in the water, and the Duck tips in just enough salt."   This is a great story about friendship and working through squabbles.  The illustrations are warm and inviting...and there is even a recipe for pumpkin soup at the end.   I suggest reading this book and inviting the kids to help you in the kitchen afterwards! 

Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer - A very cute story about gardening and working together.  This is a simple story, but a great story for teaching preschoolers and toddlers about where pumpkins come from. 

Thanks for reading!  

Cathy aka The Attached Mama

Links to Become Attached To:
-The Children's Book Shelf
-What my Child is Reading
-A Thanksgiving Book List (Thanksgiving will be here before you know it!)
-My October Pinterest Board (Some crafts to do along with these books.)
Monday, August 27, 2012

Sonlight Blog Roll for 2012-2013

It's here:  The much anticipated Sonlight Blog Roll for the 2012-2013 school year!

This blog roll will give fellow "Sonlight-ers" a place to connect and meet.  Feel free to bookmark this page and refer to it anytime you need some inspiration. 

Are you a blogger using Sonlight for the 2012-3013 school year? 
If so, we would love it if you would join the Sonlight Blog Roll. 

Here's how to do it:
STEP 1)  First grab the button code below and display it proudly on your blog.  All entries must have a link to this blog roll.  This is so we can get the word out about the Sonlight Blog Roll. 
STEP 2)   Next, use the Linky Tool at the bottom of this page to link up your blog.  There is absolutely no weekly posting requirement--just link up and have fun.
NOTE:  Please include your blog's name with the core(s) you are using in parenthesis.  Example:  The Attached Mama (Cores P3/4, B, and F)
STEP 3)  Leave a comment on my blog letting me know you linked up. 

Grab The Button Code Here:

Do you still have questions?  Please feel free to contact me in the comment section below.  I would be glad to help!

Thanks so much!
Cathy aka The Attached Mama

My blog and the blogs linked to this page are not affiliated with the Sonlight Curriculum company in any way.  We are just fans and users of the curriculum.  :) 


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