Sunday, July 29, 2007

He can smile.

A nameless aunt (ahem) wondered if Roger ever smiled. Here you go.

July Birthdays!

Bob's birthday was Saturday and Pauly's will be Tuesday, so we had a little cookout. Bob cooked.

Some of the kids played in the water slide.

Others played on the new wooden swing set.

We had cake.

They got presents. (Yep, those are two new fishing poles)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review: Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K

This will probably not be of interest to non-homeschoolers. : )

I had decided some time ago after doing reading that when it came time for a handwriting program, I would go with Handwriting Without Tears. I've heard very positive things about it. I had considered not worrying about writing at all for some time, but I thought that being able to write letters and numbers would be a boost to Pauly's confidence. He (at nearly 5) still has a hard time holding a pencil or crayon, doesn't like to color, doesn't free hand draw at all and won't even attempt to write letters. He has made some attempts to write numbers while doing the Math U See primer level (which he loves to do) but mostly I do all the writing for him, at his request.

After contacting the Handwriting Without Tears staff, I ordered the Preschool level rather than the Kindergarten level program. It really focuses on improving small motor skills rather than on forming letters and numbers, although it does touch on that. My plan is to follow up with the K level whenever he finishes the preschool book. I also got a Pre-K book for Roger, but he hasn't begun it yet. The curriculum consists of a workbook and teacher's manual (not expensive at all), a music CD, wooden manipulatives to teach the formation of capital letters, and a small slate for the child to practice forming letters. The manipulatives are pretty expensive. If you had access to a jigsaw you could easily make your own for much less, a pattern is included. You could also use an exacto knife to cut them out of foam or cardboard, although they wouldn't be as useful for some of the described activities. The manipulatives may not be as necessary for children who already have good fine motor skills.

The Pre-K level is really much more than handwriting. Besides improving small motor skills, it teaches the alphabet, counting and numbers and colors and shapes. It also teaches things like in and out, up and down, top and bottom, in front and behind. Pauly already knows all of this information, but I think it will be good for Roger. It is designed to be presented in a fun, informal way. The teacher's manual includes many, many activities using the manipulatives and CD, not all of which directly relate to handwriting, and contains several pointers on how to teach correct pencil grip, encouraging coloring and drawing, etc. Again, if your child takes naturally to these things this may not be necessary, but it has already helped us. There is a song (lyrics in the teacher's manual, music on the CD) that describes correct crayon grip. Using this song, I was able to see a dramatic immediate improvement in Pauly's handling of the crayon, which again has been difficult for him. The song describes the correct grip in just the right way for the child to catch on quickly. The correct grip is taught and reinforced through a series of games.

Now we're focusing on improving coloring technique, to build confidence and improve fine motor skills. Pauly has been asking to do more work in the workbook, so he seems to enjoy it, and he also enjoys the games we've played with Roger. We've had a fun time with it so far!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

New Greg Music!

Alright, so it is not new. Greg's website is now updated and you can purchase some of his music for download. Previously, the only CD available in the US was Taking Care of Country, which I already have. His other CDs were available in Australia but are now hard to find as they're no longer in production. You can see his new site at

I'll let you know how I like it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I broke his heart

Earlier this morning Roger asked me, "Can we go to a Wiggles concert?"

I said, "Well, we have to wait until there's one near us." Apparently that was not understood.

A little bit ago I told him to turn off the TV now, and he said, "Are we going to the Wiggles Show now?" I told him, "Not today." And he started wailing. And kept it up for 15-20 minutes. He ran outside and wailed, and came back inside and wailed, and repeated the cycle. He had thought I had told him that we were going to the show today, and had got his heart set on it.

Handmotions In Heaven

Let's see if this works. I know I already e-mailed it to some of you, but it is hilarious!

Fourth of July!!

We celebrate the Fourth on the third this year. It only made sense since Bob has the Fourth off (and could sleep in) but would have to be at work by 5am on the fifth as usual. We had a cook out, with lots of burgers, brats and hotdogs. Stephen and Joan and Ken and their girls came over. We had a fantastic time! The food was all quite good and everyone ate a lot.

When it got dark we set off all the fireworks we had, which was plenty. The nice thing about living in Derby is that there aren't restrictions on fireworks, so we had plenty of shells and lots of pretty things to watch. I put Rosemarie to bed before the fireworks, but let the boys stay up. Roger was practically begging for Bob to start the fireworks, but then once they started he was afraid of them (just like he's been the last several days) and asked to go to bed. It was long after his bedtime at that point and he fell asleep quickly. Paolo managed to stay awake until all the fireworks were done, or until we thought they were done. Bob found some more unused ones after I took Paolo in to put him to bed.

Then Bob and I were wired from all the caffeine from the soda we'd drunk, so we stayed up late. I had to show him "Handmotions in Heaven." I think I'll add that to my blog. . .

Roger's Bday

Alright, it has been more than two weeks. That's how neglectful of my faithful blog readers I've been!

Anyhow, we celebrated Roger's birthday on his actual birthday, June 19th. We had a Wiggles themed party, although I didn't bother ordering (or trying to find) Wiggles cups and plates. We just went with brightly colored things! We got a helium kit and red, blue, yellow and purple balloons to give the party a more Wiggly feel. We did a painting with food coloring at the party, the idea was for this to be at "Anthony's Workshop" but I didn't make a sign or anything, and most of the individuals wouldn't be aware of that song anyway. And we made fruit salad. : ) That ended up working VERY well. I had prepared the cantaloupe by cutting it into large slices, I had cut the bananas in half and I'd washed the grapes. The kids had plastic knives and sliced the cantaloupe and bananas, and some sliced the grapes also, then they got to eat the fruit salad that we'd made.

We also had Wiggles music playing and a Wiggles cake. Here's a pic:

Roger really liked this cake, and he still loves the Big Red Car toy that came on it. We got it from Dillons.

Roger's cousins Romy, Eddie, Beth and Heather made a long trip to come down for the party! He was so glad to see them, and so was Pauly! His cousins Mack and Elias also came and had a blast, as did his friends Tom, Katie and Ellis (and Ellis's big sisters!).

The negative was the weather. We had the party at an open shelter at our local park. Unfortunately with all the rain we'd had before the party, the floor of the shelter was flooded. There were HUGE puddles of water all around. : ( Rosemarie and Heather liked playing in them, but we weren't sure their clothes would ever be the same.