Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Go First . . . and other Pleasantries

The world is getting rude.

Sometimes my ears yearn for those soft and fluid words that show our humanity: our belief in Christ and the worth of a soul. The virtues of unselfishness and patience. Ah, words of kindness . . .

Print them out and post them on your bathroom mirror. Practice saying them while you are in the shower, until they sound convincingly polite and loving. Use them all day long, as much as you can. Embrace them and make them part of your vocabulary. Expect your children to do the same. Teach your littlest toddler to say, "You go first" instead of "me first".

You go first.

How can I help?

What would make you most comfortable?

It's my fault.

It's okay—I have time.

Let me help you.

Thank you.

No worries!

I'm so sorry.

Don't stress, it's fine.

Excuse me.

It's okay.

You go first.

These tender words will reap you a harvest of gentle feelings, appreciation, and love towards each other.

Ah, sweet civility!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Speed Bread!

Out of bread?

You can whip these biscuits together in less than 5 minutes—seriously! Using your food processor makes this no job at all.

Put into a food processor:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/4 cup butter (cold is fine) or substitute olive oil, vegetable oil or coconut oil.

Process a few seconds until the butter has been mixed in thoroughly.

Add (all at once): 2/3 cup milk

Process a few seconds just until the dough sticks together to form a ball.

That's it . . . so easy! You don't have to mess with cutting in the butter. Hurrah!

Now, pat dough lightly into an ungreased square baking pan or a round pie pan and cut into squares or diamond shapes before baking.

Or, you can pat dough out onto a cookie sheet approx. 3/4" thick. Dip the rim of a drinking glass into flour and then cut out circles of dough. Remove excess dough and pat it out and cut again, until all the biscuits are formed. Arrange touching if you like soft sides, and apart if you like crusty sides.

Bake at 450° for 12-15 minutes until golden. Makes 12 biscuits.

Bread before you know it!


Cheese Biscuits:
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese to the dough at the same time as the milk.

Herb & Garlic Biscuits:
Add 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder with the milk.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Natural Speller versus Has-to-Be-Taught

Ammon, Julianna and Mark
Will the "natural speller" please stand up?

Having homeschooled 7 children, I eventually figured out that either kids come as "natural spellers" or they don't. And if they don't, you have to teach them to spell.

The natural speller can
see the word in their head. You might see them writing it with their finger in the air when they are figuring out the spelling of a word. Spelling comes pretty easily to this child.

The "has-to-be-taught" speller is just as intelligent. In fact, spelling doesn't have much to do with intelligence. As soon as the "has-to-be-taught" speller gets some memory clues or rules to go by, they can spell just as well as anyone. Of my 7 children, a few of them are natural spellers.

For the natural spellers, it is pretty much a waste of time to give them spelling lists, spelling tests, workbooks, or spelling activities. They will get it eventually, no matter what you inflict upon them. They can
see the word in their mind's eye and the more times they see it, read it or write it, the easier it gets. For a natural speller, I have found the best exercise is to correct their daily journal writing, and help them analyze a misspelled word. Once it is pointed out, they can practice that word—write it a few times each day perhaps. A memory clue is big help, such as pointing out the word end in the word friend (a friend is a friend to the end). Once they can see the right spelling, they generally do great at self-correction in the future.

Here are a few spelling clues to get you thinking:

here, hear
hear--you hear with your ear. See the word ear in hear.
and there are places. You can see here in there.

Separate the word into syllables: to-get-her
If you are going somewhere together, you have "to get her" first.

The main thing is to talk through the misspelled word with your child the first time you spot it. Just dissecting it is often enough to help a natural speller see and correct his mistake. When my son spelled
rock as roc, I asked him to spell sock, clock, block, lock, etc. As he put the ck on the end of each word, he quickly recognized the pattern and fixed rock without another word from me.

For my "have-to-be-taught" kids, my favorite resource is Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day. This was a wonderful discovery in my homeschool, because my kids love to do it. It isn't the usual dry-bones spelling rules with drill, drill, drill. Each section of this non-tortuous book briefly teaches you (the mom/teacher) how to present the spelling rule to your child, often with a little rhyming ditty, and then the rest of the section has games to practice with: mazes, word games and puzzles that reinforce the spelling rule. There is
not even a spelling list! Or a test. Each lesson is a process of discovery in finding out which words follow the rule. It's empowering! This book can be used from about age 9 and up, but even a teen will benefit and learn to spell better.

Good spelling is just about as important as brushed hair or a washed face. It is often the first impression we will make. In a day when email or texting is a common form of communication, spelling matters. Believe me, I have seen my share of misspelled job applications—and they are not very impressive. It's worth it to teach our kids to spell!

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