Tag Archives: The Magic Forest

How school is going to kill me.

code is funHomework. Oh how I hate thee. My awesome hurricane turned 7 last week!! I’ve really been enjoying being with her. Until homework, and then the devil comes out of both of us. What used to take 2 hours now takes 1 hour (still waaaay too much). Each night we have to practice spelling words and this week’s selection were particularly tough and confusing – circus, cell, circle, pencil, silent, palace all were consistently spelled by her as she hears it – circis, sel, circil, pencel, silint, palis. It didn’t matter how many times I went over it with her, it wasn’t clicking with her. We were both equally frustrated, and the tension was building. Soon, I’m yelling that I don’t understand what’s wrong and that I’m done. What an awesome example of motherhood I am (input complete sarcasm there). I walk into the kitchen, trying to take deep breaths and it dawns on me. Dawns how bloody ridiculous this all is. This is ONE damn test out of who knows how many she has, and who the hell cares if she fails this one. It’s not worth me yelling at her, making us both feel bad, and consequently, making her feel like a failure.

So I returned to the table and before I got to say anything, she asked me for a hug. I squeezed her tight and told her we were done with the spelling words. Just done. They were super tricky words, because they go against a lot of the spelling rules she’s been learning so it’s super easy to get them wrong. That I didn’t want silly, tricky words to end up with us both angry and exhausted. That it just wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t care what grade she got. She asked if that meant she was going to fail it. I told her to just do her best, and whatever grade comes home, I don’t care, because it’s only one out of soooooooo many. She asked me why we do homework at all, and I told her she should ask her teacher, because I don’t like homework either and I don’t think it’s effective.

What I’ve seen with homework is that I often have to explain what should have been covered in class. Sometimes I’m merely reinforcing what she has learned, but other times, I’m the one introducing new concepts to her that she’s expected to know, because they are on her homework sheet. I have no doubt her teacher is worked to the damn bone. It’s not her fault either. It’s the system. So much emphasis is put on testing and grades, that every single thing has to be entered into the computer as a grade. I can see these grades in her school portal online, and for every grade on every sheet of paper, I can see when it was entered. Her teacher is working Saturdays & Sundays just to enter in this ridiculous information. I see time-stamps of 6:30am during the week, mornings and afternoons on the weekends. It can be 9 pm at night and her teacher is responding to emails. It’s no wonder teachers are leaving in droves. There’s barely any actual teaching involved. At this point, each teacher should have their own secretary to handle the paperwork alone.

Capture2Having to explain things first hand to my daughter is part of why I started the book series. I needed to learn what the rules of reading and writing are, so that I can help her. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds came out last week and you people knocked me to the floor with your support and well wishes. You shot me into Amazon’s top three of their “Hot New Releases” category. The books are just as much for parents as they are for children. I had planned on just doing the basic alphabet book then moving onto the stories of The Magic Forest but I’ve realized how much I don’t know and need to know if I’m to help my kids through this important journey. I’ve already begun book two which will focus on common consonant blends & digraphs, and then I’ll round the trilogy off with tackling those bloody vowels. I blame them for everything! Lots more information over at Little Gem Publishing. There’s a free giveaway going on right now too.

rick roachA few days ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Rick Roach who is running for FL Senate in 2016. I don’t normally bring up politics here, but he used to be a teacher. He took the FCAT as an adult and failed it. He was on the school board at OCPS so he knows how that beast works. He’s watched the school system get dirty, begin to crumble, and the fall out is becoming apparent. He has a solid understanding and knowledge of the educational issues we face, and just as important, he has solid plans to fix them, and they definitely involve changing this testing ridiculousness. He also happens to be a very nice guy too. Give him a look.

Is it summer yet?

Teach your child to read!

The big announcement . . . (drum roll, please) . . .  

The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds Welcome to the first ever book in The Magic Forest series. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds focuses on correct individual letter sounds. Yes, yes, I know alphabet books are everywhere, but sit down with a few preschool and kindergarten teachers, and ask them what their pet peeves are. I guarantee you one of them will be a child whom comes into their classroom at the beginning of the year, parent proudly announcing he/she knows all their letter sounds, and then a bunch of them are incorrect. (Yes, I hear what’s in your head. . .) How can one possibly get these sounds wrong? Because very often, us well-meaning parents don’t isolate the letter sound. Even when we think we are isolating a letter sound, most times we don’t. Go on – how do you pronounce the sound of the letter r? It’s not ‘ruh’ or ‘re’ or ‘er’.  I know because I’ve made these very same mistakes too. After you talk to a teacher, you realize that not only do they have to teach their classroom the basics, they have to undo what the parents have created.

So I felt it was appropriate to begin at the beginning. Here, I focus entirely on individual letter sounds and putting the basic sounds together. I know it sounds silly, but my goal is to teach a parent as much as a child. The reason being, as I navigate preschool and 1st grade with my own two children, I am confronted with these obstacles daily. It was quite staggering what I didn’t know and in order to support my kids through their school learning, I needed to get up to speed. I’ve got a note at the beginning of the book to show parents how to work through it.

So there you have it! The Introduction to Letter Sounds is now available at Amazon (paperback or ebook), iTunes, Kobo and more! I’ve also created a website just for The Magic Forest Series where you can sign up for my newsletter, which I will use to only announce new releases – http://www.littlegempublishing.org. And in case you prefer to just stay on Facebook, The Magic Forest has its own page there too!!

I’d love to have your feedback so please feel free to leave a review or contact me directly. Happy reading! <3

Well hello there!

lillyThe summer zipped by and we’ve all entered new territory. My soon-to-be 7 year old (seriously, wtf!!! How is that happening?) is in 1st grade and loving it. My 4-year-old mental patient began preschool for the very first time, and adores it. It’s only for three hours a day but he’s in the same place, with the same teacher that my daughter had at that stage. So I couldn’t be happier. I loved her preschool and her teacher so much (I did the ugly cry on her last day of preschool), so I had absolutely zero qualms about sending him on his merry way. In fact, my velco-boy ran into the classroom on the first day and jumped right in. Pretty extraordinary for an introvert. Our goodbyes still take ten minutes but you know, how hard is it to kiss and hug a little pint-sized human when they’re begging for “infinity kisses and hugs,” right?

I began a new venture in April and in July, decided to teach myself how to draw. This is seriously funny because I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life but I’ve written a bunch of children’s books and wanted to illustrate them (control freak, what can you do!?!) This chomped up every moment since then, and I discovered that while I really can’t draw at all, I enjoy the process. It’s relaxing, fun, incredibly complex, and I find I can immerse myself in it for hours without even realizing it.  Given that my audience are young kids, I’m not getting too fussy with the traditional details. I focus more on the fun parts, the colors, the smiles, etc.  The big announcement should be next week. I’m waiting on my proof copy before I allow worldwide distribution (get me, that just sounds so fancy!!!). My first book gets down to the basics and you’d be fairly astounded how wrong many people & books get those wrong.  I actually have 11 other books written in this series but for now, I’m going to stick with expanding on the first book. Anyway, stay tuned! Aside from the normal craziness of motherhood, now you know why I’ve been MIA.

My paroled  mental patient has graduated completely. She is no longer part of the asylum, and it’s so much fun to be around her, talk to her, listen to her, teach her. The other lunatic still has his moments and while I was close to upgrading him there for a while, I think a growth spurt hit him and I’ve learned that growth spurts are the devil when it comes to kid behavior. Their poor little bodies and brains are shifting in ways they can’t understand, and for my two, it’s always meant they turn into Tasmanian devils for a few weeks.

Another huge shift among all this is that with my mental patient in preschool, I have three hours a day to myself. To breathe, to write, to draw, to watch tv. It’s up to me. Given my own certifiable ambition and determination, I’ve spent every minute on the books. Every single piece of research, every single part of this process from words, to drawings, to Amazon was done by me and there’s an enormous sense of accomplishment in that. I realized how much I needed that independent venture, because for over 7 years now (including pregnancy), I’ve been wrapped up in one single thing and that’s motherhood. It’s taken every piece of me, and now I’m slowly taking parts of me back. I’m noticing that I’m becoming a nicer mother, for one. Since I get that break to myself, I’m less ready to climb the walls and more able to take a deep breath. It’s funny how just simple things will shift your perspective completely.

I’m still a stressed out ball of nonsense. That’s something I’m going to have to work out because I do overreact with stress too much and frankly, I’m so bloody bored of it. I’m tired of envisioning the ten thousand variants that one scenario can bring, stressing about it intensely, only to have none of those realizations actually take place. For example, the tire pressure on our back left tire kept on going down. I’d fill it up and the next day, it’s down 10 PSI. Ugh. This goes on for weeks until I can’t take it anymore because now I’m seeing it go down to 20PSI (should be 36) and imagining myself stranded somewhere with a flat tire. To negate this possibility, I decide I’m going to get “new” tires for the back two wheels. I can go to several used tire places and get both tires for $80 out the door. But it’s an unexpected expenditure and I’m freaking stressed about controlling the household money and  . . . .  you get my point. This crap goes on in my head for days and days, putting me in a bad mood, snappy and irritable. I drive over to get the tires and the dude’s tires don’t look much better than what’s already on the car. So I tell him what’s going on. Within 10 minutes, he’s found the tiniest little pinhole you’ve ever seen in the tire and fixes it, all for $8 out the door.

So you see, I was a wreck over something that didn’t even bloody happen and I am sick to death of it. It’s annoying for me, it’s annoying for my family. So I’m trying out a new “whateva!” attitude. So far, it’s working just fine for us and the kids are definitely much happier! 😀 They’ve had ice cream three days in a row. What’s not to love!!!!

So stay tuned, darlings. Big news coming soon!!!