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Printed Words

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!”
— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943

As our school year drew to a close, my Cailey still had not fully mastered reading.  And she most certainly had not developed a love of the written word.

She steadfastly stated that she couldn’t read.  But I knew that she could indeed read a lot more words than she was giving herself credit for.

And we kept plugging away.  I, by reading books aloud to her, and she, by diligently working through each lesson of “Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.”

About 3 weeks ago, she announced that she wanted to read her “The Little Mermaid” book aloud to us.  This was the same bedraggled book that I bought at a garage sale nearly 20 years ago, when I was portraying Ariel at children’s parties in Los Angeles.  (And btw, long red luxurious hair only served to make me look more pasty.)

I was floored.  She never wanted to read aloud.  She plopped herself down on the couch, and began with page 1.  And continued, reading aloud as though she had been reading forever.  Even the big 4 dollar words.

Since I’m not really one to get emotional…(right…have you met me?) I kept my tears to myself until later.  For the next few nights, she continued reading “The Little Mermaid” until she finished.  I even caught her sitting quietly during the day reading through it.  I was so proud of her.

It baffles me how a child learns to read.  And I’m even more baffled now that I’ve successfully taught two of my children.  I don’t remember ever not being able to read.  It just seemed like one day, somewhere between spit balls and eating the finger paint, it just clicked with me.  And I’ve had a deep and abiding love of books ever since.

Emme learned with ABeka in Kindergarten, and caught on very quickly.  Today she devours books by the armload.  After plowing through all of the American Girl books, she has started on a new series, “Magic Attic Club”.

And NO, it’s not that kind of magic.

Cailey, like most things in life, preferred to take the long winding road to reading.  And I’ve been around enough homeschooled children and their moms to know that each child learns at their own pace.  Some are reading at 4.  Others at 10.  I have a very strongly held belief that it is important not to pressure or push a child into reading.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Just read aloud to them, and present them with books that will spark their interest.  With Cailey, I have been picking up all sorts of books about mermaids, make-believe fairies, and of course the requisite princesses.

Coincidentally, Mom’s Homeroom launched a new episode on the topic of Reading this week.  Go check it out here.

And I’ve had a few of you ask me how to get to the message boards (where I lurk as moderator and sandbox monitor) to share questions or parenting concerns.

I want to give you step by step instructions.  If you are new to message boards, it all looks very foreign the first time you visit.  It certainly did with me.

The first thing you see when you visit the site is the episode.  Then, at the top click on “Community.”  That takes you to a list of topics.  At the bottom of the screen click on “View All Discussions.”  That takes you right to the boards.  You can sign in at the bottom.  All you need is your e-mail address (which is never shaders don’t even get to see it) and a “handle.”  Or what you want to be called.

Off topic.  Did y’all ever have a CB radio in the 70’s and 80’s?  I had one in my truck.  My handle was Sugarfoot.  Good buddy.

Anyhoo.  Focus.

You can start a new discussion, or jump in on one that’s already established.  We have a really great one on children’s book lists.  You can see it here.

I love reading.  And I’m especially fond of the library.  I’d go more often if I could just keep Jensen from disrobing at the circulation desk.  I’m sure the other library patrons would appreciate it as well.

Now a quiz. For you homeschooling moms, what curriculum have you found to be most effective for teaching reading? I’m still happy with “Ordinary Parents Guide” and will probably use it with Jensen next year.  I also use the magnetic board and letters.  Plus lots and lots of reading aloud.

And now, because I’m 7, here is a short list of book titles, not to be missed.

Adding Up by Juan & Juan
The Chocolate Bar by Ken I Havesum
Telephone Problems by Ron Number
Aching Joints by Arthur Itis
I’m Not a Mutant by Abner Mallety
The Bedpan Patrol by B.M. Nightly
Drink this Before the X-Ray by Barry Um
and finally,
I Read You Like a Book by Claire Voyant

Happy reading!


Sleepovers – A Good Thing?

First of all, I wanted to thank y’all for helping my reader who posed the question about homeschooling a high schooler.  Hugely helpful.  I was even encouraged.  So for now, high school at a boarding school in a harsh climate is off the table.

For now.

Also, THANK YOU to those of you who jumped into the Mom’s Homeroom Community Boards with your thoughtful ideas and insights.  That’s just what I was looking for.

I’ve started a thread on the topic “Sleepovers.”  I have some pretty strong opinions regarding the ifs and when’s of letting my kids sleep over at someone’s house.  And I can tell you that we haven’t done it yet.

I read a very interesting article that my SIL, Trish, sent to me on the subject.  The author is Renee Ellison, a rather conservative homeschooling mom.  I love to hear her speak at homeschool conventions.  While I don’t get on board with everything she says, I believe her to be a wise woman.

Anyhoo, if you feel led, I’d love for you all to put in your two cents.  Or penny’s worth, since we’re in a recession and all.

You can click here to get to the link.

Hey, and btw, I finished my first official week on the job, and I haven’t brought down the internet.  Not even once.  That’s progress.

And lastly, thank you all for your well wishes.  I really do love my new job.


Hi Ho Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go

I’ve been alluding to the fact that I have a new job.  I wanted to fill you in on the back story as well.  Because I’ve had to stay SO QUIET about it for so long, it feels a little anticlimactic now, but here goes.

Back in December, I got an e-mail from an agent friend of mine.  “DeeDee, I have an audition for you.”

I haven’t heard those words in many years.  And frankly, my knee jerk reaction was, “forget it.”

I hung up my acting beret many years ago, and have never looked back.

“This isn’t what you’re thinking…”

I read further.  The audition was for a new internet show that MSN was producing, and it was to be sponsored by Microsoft and Kellogg’s.  They were looking for four REAL moms (I emphasize real as opposed to a fake mom, which I have yet to ever meet) from different walks of life.  For example, professional moms, school teacher moms, doctor moms, and homeschooling moms.

And they must have children between the ages of 5 to 11ish.

This internet show would be comprised of a panel of four women, who would discuss topics of interest on the education and health of our children.

My interest was piqued.  I’m a real mom.  I homeschool.  I have kids in that age group.  I would like to get out of the house every so often and have adult conversation.

With other adults.

I drafted my bio and sent it off to my agent friend.  With the least hideous picture I could find of myself.

I was called in for the first audition.

The group of gals I was teamed up with were all professional in nature.  One came in her lab coat.  The others had on suits.  With shoes that didn’t tie.

I wore my blue jeans, sneakers, a t-shirt and sweater.

Because I dress for success.

The interview went fine.  In fact, I even had fun.  Once I muscled my way past the nausea and all.  Oh.  And I may have told the story about Jensen dropping his pants at the circulation desk of the library.

Round two.  I was called back a couple of weeks later.  Out of hundreds of gals, they had narrowed it down to 25.  None of the ladies I had originally auditioned with were there.

I went with my lucky blue jeans again.  But this time I added some rubber soled boots and a purple Wal•Mart sweater.

And I made certain my roots were touched up.

I walked into a conference room with all of these beautiful women.  Some were dressed for a cocktail party.  Lots of Type A personality women.  A couple of actresses I recognized.

I found a seat in the back and listened.  I was fascinated by this unlikely gathering of mothers.  We were eventually paired up into groups and I was able to get to know some of these women.  Women I probably wouldn’t get a chance to sit down with one on one.  And I enjoyed them immensely.

The auditioned consisted of sitting on a couch with 3 other women, and we were given topics to discuss.

After a couple of hours, 2 V-8s, some yogurt, and a protein bar later (I always pack snacks) the time came to narrow the field down.  Names were called.  You did not want your name to be called.

Sort of like on American Idol.  Or Survivor.

My name wasn’t called.  I stayed on with about 12 other gals.

That auditioned ended, and then another week went by.  Another callback was scheduled.  For the 7 women they were considering.

But it was scheduled at the same time I was to speak at a homeschool conference.  I couldn’t cancel, because I would have only been giving two days notice.

And not 30 minutes went by, when I received another e-mail.  The callback was rescheduled for later in the afternoon.

I attended that callback.  It was a blur really.  It had been a long day, and I don’t really recall what transpired.  After we finished, we were told we would be contacted within a week, because shooting was to begin the week after.

A week and a half went by.  No call.  I had completely written it off as a fun experience.

And then I got a call from a someone from the production studio.  They hadn’t selected me as one of the 4, but Microsoft wanted to talk to me about somehow being involved.  They loved my blog, and had something in mind that would involve me working behind the scenes.


Another week went by, and then my agent (that makes me giggle…my agent) told me what they had in mind.

Microsoft wanted to HIRE me to host the message board for the show, Mom’s Homeroom.  I would work about 10 hours a week.  From the sanctity of my lap top.

HOT DOG!  Oh yeah, and they wanted to pay me.


So, there you have it.  I’m learning all about moderating a real live message board.  I call it baptism by fire.  But Fiddledaddy has been helping me do my research.   And I LOVE the people that I’m working with at Microsoft.

They don’t mind at all that I let my technically deficient freak flag fly at will.

The 4 gals that were chosen (Victoria, Alba, Claire, and Jillian) all did a FABULOUS job on air.  They have never been in the entertainment business, but you would never know it because they make the show look effortless.

Please check it out here.

The really big launch is on Sunday.  There will be a large advertisement on the MSN homepage.

Can I ask you all a favor?  Click on the “community” section and jump in on any conversations that look interesting.  I told the people at Microsoft that I have the most amazing commenters and I would ask them to help jump start things.


I’m the gal behind the scenes who tries to keep the conversation going, makes sure everyone plays nice, and mediates the problems.

It is the perfect job for me.

I have to say that I feel so very blessed to have employment right now, during these extremely uncertain times.

And I can work in my stained yoga pants, and torn t-shirts.  With a kleenex stuffed into my bra strap.

Because I’m just classy like that.

My SIL, Trish, told me when I was hired that I needed to go out and buy myself something new to wear to work.

Yes, I could use a new pair of pajamas.

I appreciate y’all and your support so much.  Nothing should change much here at Fiddledeedee.  I just may be a little more sleep deprived.

But that always makes for more interesting posting.  Have a great weekend!