8 Ways to Increase Your Joy Factor | Tiny Buddha

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What I’ve been up to lately

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Snowmen Stirrers

Inspired by a Pinterest pin, I created these little thank you gifts.  I should have gotten a shot of them melting into the cocoa, but you can see that on the original page of the creator of these cute little things.

I put three into a little gift bag along with three packets of cocoa & a candy cane.  I wish I had taken a better picture of some of the best ones, but I was having so much fun, I didn’t think of it!

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I made Royal Icing for the orange carrot nose, and just used melted chocolate and a toothpick to dot on the eyes and buttons.

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Happy Christmas!


In between Goodbye and Death

I have so much to say, yet no words come out. Of course, it is the first time in weeks that I am trying to get them out.

Have you ever felt something so deeply that you wanted to share?

Have you ever felt it and then been unable to put it into words?

I’m sure most of us have, but the putting it into words thing just isn’t something most of us dwell on.

My mother hovers on the brink of death. She is so far away physically, but she feels so close emotionally – in my heart. So close that I can almost feel my arms around her.

I am so torn. I want so much to go visit her, and it is possible. As costly and time consuming as it might be, I know that once I am there I won’t regret it. Because life is for the living, and if I can give her any comfort then it would be worth it. Better than spending money on a funeral.

Oh, but the timing. But when is it ever good? Worrying about the kid’s schooling, and their missed work… Is that a real reason or an excuse?

I did say goodbye to her in August when we were there. And it was a good serious goodbye.

But maybe she is waiting to see me one more time before she lets go? How do I know if I would agitate her or comfort her?

And family… Some of them so noble and giving, loving and comforting.

I pray that she is peaceful and comforted. I pray that she is without pain, and at rest.

Would you pray, too?


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This is the castle in the little town where my mom was born.


Blending Sounds

Day 31 –  Blending sounds

Today’s focus is the opposite of yesterday’s.

Today we are talking about BLENDING sounds.

This is the act of hearing spoken sounds and forming words with them.

Again, there are lots of games you can play to impress this upon your student, and these are things you can do even while driving or waiting in an office for an appointment.

One way to teach the blending of sounds is to pretend you are robots… You speak stiffly and disjointedly to the reader, and ask them to “interpret” what you are saying.  You can even speak in complete sentences.  Just make sure to talk “like a robot” and create natural breaks between sounds. You student then has to interpret what you are saying – for example, after introducing yourself (as the robot), you could say, “I like yellow cars, do you?” (which would be I-like-ye-llow-cars, do you?) and so on. You can ask the student to pick up a toy, describing it, and the child’s responses show that they understand what you are talking about. And gets them on the way to more complex sound structures!

If you are interested in learning more activities like this or others I have written about, feel free to email me, or try searching some of the keywords that I’m writing about.

You really CAN make a difference in your child’s development!

Thanks for your patience in playing along with the 31 Days of Reading series! Stop over occasionally and say hello!


Reading Fluency

Day 30 – Fluency

Fluency is the ability to read with efficiency and ease.

Fluent readers can read quickly and accurately and with appropriate rhythm, intonation, and expression.

Fluency promotes comprehension: when a reader is fluent, the reader can grasp the meaning of the written word more easily.

Can you guess what one of the biggest tricks to fluency is?  Yup, you guessed it…

READING!                            READING!                       READING!

…and, of course, being read to.

One of the reasons for this is that listening to someone else read models appropriate phrasings. And reading aloud with someone nearby offers the student the input that can help them feel successful with reading – a listener can enjoy the story, give tips for challenging words, and help them phrase the structures. In addition, reading often – as well as listening often – provides the student with context clues to help them decode the challenging words they are hearing.

Just another reason to read to your child (or adult learner), and why they should read to you!


What do you have in your bag of tricks?

Day 29 – Skills, or, your Bag of Tricks

Teachers use a bag of tricks to keep their student’s captivated.  For substitute teachers this includes activities on paper that can keep student’s busy, and maybe even candy (if allowed in the school district). when I was substitute teaching I kept a book of riddles to read aloud, packs of pencils and erasers, a newspaper (excellent for interactive activities), and a list of activities and educational games to play when the lesson left by the teacher was finished quickly.

As a parent, you can do the same!

Keeping educational toys and books in a bag in your car, learning word and math games that can be played during waiting periods – which are so hard for our kids! – and having a routine board game night (at all ages) are great tricks for your own bag.

And there are other tricks you can add to your bag…

There is a story in my family about my dad fixing our broken down car in the middle of the woods on Cape Cod. My dad whittled a part and stuck it in the car and was able to drive the family out of the woods.  Really!  Of course this was before EFIs and computer diagnosis…  But he learned about the innards of his car from a book. He also used a book to learn how to put a roof on our house, fix our water heater, and put in kitchen cabinets. He always said The Library was his source for everything!

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Like my Dad, my husband borrows expensive books from the library when he needs to fix our cars (notice I don’t say “wants” lol). These books are Chilton Manuels and there is one out for every car detailing what you will find in their engines. And of course, now that we have the information on the internet, that, too, is an amazing resource!

Finally, don’t forget to ask friends, your Sunday School teacher, and your librarian for tricks to add to your bag about including reading in your family!

How about that for a bag of tricks?