Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pandora vs TV

Easy access to a plethora of TV and movies has become a bit of a problem as of late here.  We do not have cable, only local channels...but we do have a Roku device and so our library of available shows and movies are abundant between Netflix Instant Watch and Amazon Instant Video.  We even dropped that part of the Netflix plan that allows us to get dvds because the list of shows and movies available to watch instantly was so great.

Therein lies the problem.  I find myself getting sucked into watching season after season of show after show. I recently went through watching all the Biggest Loser episodes....150+ episodes.  I would just sit and slowly go brain dead watching episode after episode of whatever show I was watching.  Oh, I have watched some really good, quality TV.  I love shows from BBC like Doc Martin, Land Girls, Rosemary and Thyme, etc.  But, I am not sure what I got out of shows like Biggest Loser.  The recent show I found myself sucked into was Roswell, a show about teenage aliens....yes, teenage aliens.  At the end of the day, I will find myself with a headache and I feel like such a loser.

Ah, but there is something else about the Roku.  It has a Pandora app.  You put in a favorite band and it will find music from other bands that are like the band you like and you have a 30 second commercial every 6 or so songs.  Oh, I have loved Pandora for some time and long ago gave up listening to regular radio stations.  Recently, I decided to put Switchfoot into Pandora and do some cleaning.  The bands that have been coming up have been incredible.  I find myself dancing around the house as I go from task to task.  Or, I grab a book and sit down and let Pandora play softly as I immerse myself into whatever story I am getting into.  At the end of the day, I may have a headache from reading too much or from scrubbing the floors too much, but I feel satisfied that I did not just let my brain rot out.

I was telling my husband just last night, I love having music playing all day and getting things done...why don't I do that more often??  Why do I allow myself to get stuck in a TV show when there are so many other things I can be doing??  My house is brain is fresher....I am happier.  I am still watching TV, but I am limiting it.  I am falling in love with music more and more each day.  My new favorite band is Lifehouse. I am reading a great book.  I am getting curriculum organized.  I recommend Pandora.  You can have it on your Roku or on your smartphone.  Personally, I love Switchfoot radio and Relient K radio, but you can put in whatever band you like.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What your kids watch

Today, I was looking through the movies available to watch on Netflix instant watch and Amazon prime instant watch.  These movies are free to watch at anytime through your computer, Wii or other devices and are very easily accessible to you or whoever uses the devices.  Our daughter has a Roku device in her room and has open access to Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Now, I am more flexible of what my kids watch than most parents and more strict with what they watch than others.  Some people I know shake their heads either outwardly or inwardly when they hear what my kids have seen....and I sometimes shake my head when I hear what other kids have seen.

Summer is upon us now.  Kids are bored.  Some kids are left at home alone while mom and dad work.  As I looked at what was available to watch on these two programs, I was pretty scared of what is available for my daughter (and your kids) to see.  There is no way to filter what they can see.  It is all just out there.  I do not know which is worse, Amazon or Netflix.

Now, I am not here to tout the evil that is either of these companies.  It is not up to them to censor what they put out there, it is ours to protect our children.  It is supply and demand with them.  If people are watching these shows, than they will keep making them available.  But, I any of us check up on what our kids watch?  Are we making sure that they are protected within the walls of what we have set for their viewing?  It is scary!!  A lot of good tv and movies are available in these programs.  Matt and I look forward to a Jack Ryan marathon soon as all of these movies are now available on Amazon (well, not Hunt for Red October, but then we own that one).  Lots of good British shows/movies are also available on each and we can not forget Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb which are staple shows for our viewing pleasure.

But, as I stated, my concern is our children (young and teen)...left on their own.  Curiosity is a dangerous thing. Curiousity killed the cat....and could kill your child's innocence.

I just wanted to state that in hopes that parents might look at the viewing history from time to time...make sure nothing is sneaking by.  There are some crazy, bad shows out there.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I recently watched an episode of 20/20 that was titled "Medical Mysteries" or something like that.  I remember when I saw the title (it was on my dvr) of the episode, it sounded rather boring to me.  I rather like hearing stories of crimes that have been solved...cold cases...etc.  But, I was bored, so I thought....ok, let's see what mysteries there are this time.  The very first story made my jaw drop to the floor and a great weight lifted off my shoulders.  I finally knew what was wrong with me and I wasn't alone (and after talking about it on Facebook, I discovered so many others who are just as sick as I

Misophonia.  It is a condition where one has a sensitivity to certain sounds.  Now this isn't a sensory issue where loud firecrackers hurt your ears.  It is more of a particular sound like the clicking of a pen, chewing, the way someone talks.  It can elicit reactions as little as a small irritation to violent outbursts.  The girl they mostly focused on in the story was so sensitive to certain sounds that she cannot be in the same room with her mother unless her mother does not make any noise.  She gets violent...will actually hit her mother at the sound of her own voice.  Now this is extreme.  They explained that most people who have misophonia do not go to this extreme.

You see, for years/decades, I have felt so.....weird....odd....mad at myself because the smallest thing can elicit a strong reaction with me.  It started when I was very young.  My father would do things that not only irritated me, but would make me angry.  I was fairly scared of my dad (he wasn't violent or abusive, but he was a football coach so could be a bit rough), so I would hold in these emotions, but he would drive me crazy.  What did he do?  He chewed...the sound of him eating would drive me to the brink of insanity.  The sound of his fork hitting the plate would make me mad.  Dinner time was a stressful time for me as I tried my hardest to block out the sounds he made.  I am not talking mild irritation...I am talking wound up nerves, stomach tied up, want to pull my hair out.  You remember those Bugs Bunny cartoons when Bugs Bunny would get all twisted up??

Well, this was me daily.  And it wasn't just the way he chewed or used his fork.  My dad would often smack his lips, or click his pen, or tap the dashboard, or leave the turn signal on.  I was a ball of nerves living at home because I never (well, I would on occasion), ever tell my dad he was irritating me.  I felt guilty.  He was my dad...I am supposed to respect him...and I did.

When I moved out, I discovered that there was more in the world that irritated me and it wasn't some ill feelings towards my dad.  People clicking their pens, tapping, water dripping, foot tapping....all drove me nuts.

When I got married, I discovered new challenges.  There is a long list of things that my husband (Matt) does that irritates me to the point of extreme anger.  Luckily, I do not have the fear of my husband that I did for my dad...but I did harbor a lot of guilt.  I am open with my husband about the habits he has that cause me great irritation....but that leads to other things like is there something wrong with our relationship that he irritates me so much!??!!  He would wonder about it because the seemingly small things would drive me nuts.  He would have to admit that small things in the world would drive me nuts, too....but it was harder to see that since we spend more time together and so his things were brought up more.

Matt has had to learn how to:

  • Eat.  I cannot stand the sound he makes when he eats.  The swishing of the food in his mouth drives me bonkers and I do not understand why people do it.  You can eat is possible.
  • Chew gum.  Oh my gosh.  Gum chewers are awful, awful people.  Smacking their lips...the sound of that chewy substance sticking to the teeth and the sound of the saliva...  He never really smacked, but he would chew with the sound of saliva and his teeth...he now has learned to chew it quietly.
  • How to use a fork.  I hate the sound of a fork hitting a plate.  Why is it necessary?  It sounds (in my mind) like you are using a shovel to eat your food.  There is no reason for it.
  • NO CLICKING HIS TONGUE.  He had a habit of clicking his tongue when he would be thinking of something.  No, no, NO!!!!!!  This would drive me CRAZY!!!  
  • NO TAPPING HIS TEETH.  Oh my GOSH.  He would tap his teeth together all the time.  BONKERS.
I KNOW there are many more.  The thing is, though, this is NOT limited to him.  It has gotten almost impossible for me to go to the movies.  The sound of people tapping their feet, the crumpling of paper packages, the chewing of popcorn, the slurping of drinks, the creaking of seats....ALL OF THESE make me angry and TOTALLY distract me from the movie.  Sierra and I recently went to see a movie we were SO excited to see.  We had the misfortune, though, of sitting in front of a birthday party.  Throughout the whole movie a kid behind us tapped her foot.  It drove me bonkers!!  I kept turning around trying to find the culprit.  I was so twitchy about it the lady next to me asked me what was wrong and I angrily spat out "this kid behind me is tapping her foot and it's driving me crazy".  It took EVERY OUNCE OF SELF CONTROL for me NOT to turn around and BLAST the WHOLE row of kids.

Another instance happened in church.  We were sitting in church listening to our Pastor preach when a lady a couple rows up and an aisle over began clicking her pen.  I got SO angry.  I instantly tensed up.  Matt knew I was mad and quickly knew why.  I kept angrily whispering to him how inconsiderate this woman was with her pen.  The WHOLE sermon, all I could do was stare at this hand and this pen.  Again, it took ALL my self control not to go over to her and grab her pen.  The WHOLE drive home, I ranted on and on about that lady and her pen....stupid, right?

Sierra used to have a friend who would smack her lips together a lot or make weird sounds with her tongue.  I have a friend who smacks her lips together ALL THE TIME!!!  I HATE it....  Keeping these feeling inside (what am I going to do...tell an 8 year old kid to stop clicking her tongue, she's driving me crazy!!!) can be painful.  My stomach actually gets all twisted up.

Upon watching this 20/20 segment, I shouted for joy.  I was not crazy.  I do not have a personal vendetta against my husband...I have a personal vendetta against the world.  lol  Matt was joyous to because as he watched the segment he agreed this is what I have.  He realized it was something in the wiring of my brain and it was not something against is not personal.

I have inadvertently been training my kids as they grow up.  They are quiet chewers.  They do not smack their lips.  Any kind of nervous habit I nip in the bud quickly.  Matt is learning, too.  Many of the noises he naturally makes, he is learning to NOT.  He will still, at times, start to click his tongue when he is thinking, but he quickly stops.

It is hard, though.  It is hard on everyone.  Sadly, I had an issue a couple days ago that ruined my whole day....and it was over an egg.  My husband was downstairs in the kitchen making an egg for our son...I was upstairs in my bedroom doing something.  Matt does this thing with an egg that drives me CRAZY and on this day it drove me BEYOND CRAZY.  He cracks the egg in a bowl, takes and fork, and whips it around.  The sound of the fork hitting the sides of the bowl and the egg swishing in the bowl could be heard all the way up the stairs and I had a Bugs Bunny moment.  Every nerve in my body fired up and I got angry.  I know it is not reasonable...but I also know that when I make an egg, I do it noiselessly.  I did not get violent with Matt...I explained to him that that was one of those sounds that I can NOT handle.......but for the rest of the day, that sound replayed through my mind and I was in a bad mood...the WHOLE day.  It is depressing to think that an egg in a bowl with a fork can make me feel this way.  Sierra asked me halfway through the day if anything was wrong.  I sighed heavily and explained the egg in the bowl thing.  She nodded her head understandingly.  She knows me well.

But, again, I know what it is now.  I can advise my family on what not to do and now their feelings are not hurt.  The weight of guilt is off my shoulders.  Now, if only movie theaters and church could have a thing where I can plug in my ear buds and hear the movie/sermon and drown out the sounds around me.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I often laugh at the phrases that come from our youth. They are quite hilarious. The term "frenemies" is one that has caused me to giggle on a couple occasions. It's interesting, though, because I think this word is a powerful one full of sad truth.

A friend of mine just sent me an email. It was from Proverbs 31 Ministries and it was titled "Friends or Foes?". I knew instantly why she sent this to me....luckily not because she thought me a foe, but because she knows I have had my share of foes and have struggled in the area of friends. I was touched because she made sure I knew I fell in the friends side of this blog. Click here to read the Proverbs 31 blog posting...I found I related to it all too well.

I have been blessed to have had many friends in my life, but, like many friendships, there has been some change-ups in the circle of friends. We get married. We get jobs that takes us to far off places. We change common interests and just grow apart.

Or we go crazy.

I love my friends who got married, and, being married myself, understand that priorities have changed (especially when kids enter the picture). I don't like when they or their spouses gets a job that causes them to move far away, but I understand and totally love the internet and facebook for keeping us as involved in each other's lives as possible. I also understand the changing of interests. I had a lot of friends before I became a Christian that I had to take a step back from after I became a Christian. DO I love them any less?? No.

But, I have had the experiences of the just plain LOONY. That friend who, on the turn of a pin just goes off and leaves your head spinning...wondering what just happened. It has happened a couple times with a couple friends and has left me somewhat scarred from having friends any more...or at least letting friends get too close. I often ask myself...are all women Psycho!??!!

One of the quotes from the blog read like this: "Years ago I would've told you that I don't much like women. I counted a few as friends, but the rest I dismissed as too much trouble. Never a "tomboy" by any stretch of the imagination, I just found guys easier to deal with. They generally say what they mean, let you know where you stand, and never size you up to determine who has the better haircut."

I know someone who went through a nasty divorce several years ago. After his divorce, he decided all women were evil. It didn't matter who that woman was, he felt strongly that all women were inherently evil and he spread his venomous words and attitudes to ALL women. It was destructive to see (and to be one of those women he ranted on about *shudder*).

After my experiences with some women, I have found myself feeling at least a tiny percent of what he spewed. Women just seemed to be mean and without reason. Women I had put my faith, love, and hope in had squashed me like a bug under their heel and I began to build the walls of fortitude.

Another quote: "I'm told you can put a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and gradually turn up the heat, and it will stay in the pot until it reaches a fatal boil without attempting to escape. Evidently the frog doesn't realize how unhealthy the situation is slowly becoming. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that fable - I'd never boil a frog! - but I've been in a few friendships like that. I stayed way too long in the pot before I realized this isn't healthy for me, and I got burned."

The sad thing about that is I had women in my life whom I knew would not go nuts on me...there would be no head spinning or pea soup spewing....but my heart had been so trampled on that there was little faith or trust left in me. I do not think you should feel like you need to walk on egg shells with your friends...they know who you are. I found myself constantly on eggshells.

The funny thing about it was...I built the wall...I built it up high. I hid behind the wall...peeping out through little peep holes in the wall.

I watched as women I knew and wanted to know more would laugh together...have fun and I would whimper and cry and feel sorry for myself that I did not have that. Thing is, I always had a reason why I wasn't a part of the fun. I would get invited, but would have an excuse...."oh, I need to give my dog a bath that night"...ok, not that but something just as cheesy.

When Sierra became homeschooled, she decided to cut herself off from those friends she had in school because she felt like she needed to surround herself with like minded friends. She discovered having a select few friends whom she loves and who love her back is better than having several just ok friends. I saw such wisdom in her choice.

As a homeschool mom, one might think that we would become recluse...and maybe we found ourselves falling into that a bit at first, but then we began to explore the world and see what it has in store for us. In this adventure, I have found a whole new batch of women to become friends with and I love these women. It is indeed encouraging to surround yourself with those whose thought processes often echo your own, who can hold you up on their shoulders when you are down and whom you would do just the same with when things are reversed.

Now, when one of Sierra's new friends wants to spend time with her, her instant reaction is.....what can I do to make this happen. When one of my new friends want to spend time with me, my automatic response is do I get out of this?? It is hard to let yourself allow for the possibility of yourself to be crushed under the heel of a shoe.

"Meanwhile, I prayed for quality friendships with women of faith. God heard my prayers. Fun-loving, God-loving, gracious women at my church sought me out and invited me out. And I made the choice to trust and invest in them. I discovered how beneficial it is to surround yourself with women who inspire your walk with God."

I have prayed for a long time for God to bring to me friends who will listen to me...cry with me...allow me to listen and cry with them...someone who can relate to me. I believe God has answered those prayers is now just a matter of allowing them into my life. Cracking down the mortar that took years to build up is harder than one might think. It is filled with hard memories and broken trust. But, God did not make us to live behind brick piece by piece, I knock down the wall.....I allow that little bit of sunshine into my life. I discover things about people I have never known before. I sit in a restaurant and laugh without a care that someone might turn on a dime on me. Slowly, after character building words of encouragement from some select friends "in the know", I am coming to realize that some "friends" are just not worth the effort that is put in to maintaining the fortified brick and mortar that was so carefully laid. Lucky for me, I am finding that that brick and mortar are not as strong as I thought they were.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Anti-inflammatories and my tummy

Ok, I did it to myself. I managed to TOTALLY mess myself up and at the most inopportune time and now I have to reap what I have sown. I had good intentions...the best of intentions, but POOR results.

As many know, I have ALWAYS had issues sleeping. I believe it is totally heriditary. My dad had issues. Many of my siblings have these issues, too. Unlike some, though, I try to come up with ways to overcome that. Sleep is just something I am unwilling to do without. I like it. I like to sleep all night long. I like to be rested during the day. Without sleep, my function throughout the day is poor which is unacceptable as a mom or even as a human being.

I have tried so many things. I have eaten a small meal before bed (supposed to give that kind of full and sleepy effect). I have eaten ice cream before bed (something about the creaminess). I used to take muscle relaxers to help with my TMJ that would help me sleep (this was the best solution except it caused me to gain weight, plus it is not a good, long term solution).

A little over a year ago (or so), I decided to try a new regimen. It worked pretty well and so I continued it...EVERY SINGLE NIGHT of the last year (or was it two). Each night, I would take 2 advil pms and about 1500 mg of Valerian root. I figured it was better than doing tylenol pm and valerian root because tylenol can cause liver damage. I didn't know about the issues surrounding ibuprofen.

So, when I started getting severe heart burn...acid bubbling up into the back of my throat...I thought something odd was going on. I never checked on causes...I just popped some Tums, peppermints, or pepcid ac. For over a year I have struggled with this intense burn.

One day, I was talking about my issues with some friends and one of them told me how dangerous it is to take ibuprofen so it eats at the lining of the stomach. I mentioned my bouts with heartburn and she very wisely exclaimed "DUH!". Wow, how did I not know about that??

I stopped taking it immediately opting for a more natural sleep aid that has worked WONDERS for me. The heartburn, however, has continued. I went to the doctor today and after a thorough discussion, she agrees that it is due to long term anti-inflammatory use. Luckily for me, the stomach lining can be repaired and she was able to put me on the road to recovery in that area.

BUT, if it were not for the mistakes I made with the ibuprofen at night, I would not be in the mess I am in now. I have been suffering from sciatic nerve pain which is really quite awful. The common choice of alleviating the pain is an anti-inflammatory. My doctor informed me, though, that I need to stay off of all anti-inflammatories until my tummy is better. This leaves me in a place of having to deal with the pain and stick with natural pain relief remedies like the epsom salt baths. I need to give my stomach 2 months to aspirin, no aleve, and no advil!! I can take tylenol, but it won't do much.

I have lived my life kind of just going and not worrying. I heard about stomach problems with ibuprofen but figured I would be immune...though, thinking about it.....I would likely be imune if I weren't taking it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!! So now, I have to just try and work through this other pain while I let my stomach heal.

This could be a good thing, though. I do not want to rely on medications to feel better. I want to find ways around pharmacy trips. I got a prescription today for my tummy...but it's not a drug that is potent and meant to relieve simply calms down the stomach acid. I would rather stick with the epsom salt baths...stretching...walking... I was so pleased to find a doctor that didn't just start prescribing me meds. I spent years having doctors automatically go for the drugs....or think I was drug seeking when I had legitimate head pain. Now, I am off all prescriptions (except this new one) and I think that is a good thing. My leg does hurt at times, but I have dealt with chronic pain before and this one seems fairly easy to control. BUT, I must admit that I would like to be able to take a medication that could alleviate the pain (an anti-inflammatory)...but I have to deal with two seperate things and Lord knows I do not need an ulcer...or worse, bleeding in the stomach.

Moral: From now on, I must be diligent about what I put in my body.

Lighter note: She felt pretty ok with my natural sleep remedy (MidNite).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fast Food Blockout

Fast food. You can find it just about anywhere. Within a mile of my home, there are at least 6 fast food establishments and that does not include the pizza places. They are becoming so convenient that 2 of those fast food places are attached to gas station convenient stores. You can get over price gas and under priced food (are they really under priced...see below) all in one place....and they even have drive thrus. Let's face are out running errands and spending time with the family and it's lunch time. You do not want to spend the time or money to go to a nice, sit down restaurant, so you decide to drive thru Wendy's and get a couple burgers, french fries and some soda. You can sit in your car and eat as you go to your next destination. The problem is the sacrifices you make in doing that. Oh sure, it's cheap if you stick to the dollar menu (which is one of the reasons obesity is such a problem today). But, what're you doing when you grab that oily, salty, perservative heavy lunch and sit in a car to eat? What about that sugar filled, bubbly soda (and don't think it is all that much better when there is a diet soda in that cup, cause it isn't)? What is that doing to your body? Your kid's body? Now, don't get me wrong...this is a trap we (our own family) falls into just about every weekend. Here's the thing...I HATE fast food. The THOUGHT of eating a McDonald's burger or a Wendy's chicken sandwich fills me with dread and makes my stomach turn...I am not much of a soda drinker...I don't like fries. Even kids and husband LOVE this food which aches my heart (well, Sierra is beginning to not like it much). But, we are, more often than not, out most of Saturday and Sunday and we fall into the trap. Recently, we decided to be proactive with our Sundays...have a plan in place for lunch for after church...a lunch we would make at home. This was all well and good, but then Matt and Daniel will go grocery shopping on Sunday me HOURS of quiet time (Sierra will spend the afternoon in her room getting caught up on school)...but then they would need to pick something up for dinner because they are gone so long(TRAP). Last weekend we went to a fast food place we hate the MOST...because Matt heard about something they had and wanted to try, we went to Burger King. First of all, for just a few dollars more, we could eat much better somewhere else. We figured it out...we could have gone to Subway for about $3 more or even Jason's Deli (salad bar...YUM) for just $5-7 more. It is not as cheap as one would think. Secondly, we all came away feeling kind of gross. Sierra and I had tummy aches from onion rings and chicken strips. Ok...well, Matt didn't hurt (he has grown up on this junk) and Daniel loves it and is on the same path as Matt. BUT, I reiterate the heart issue. Matt and I were pretty disgusted, though, with how much money we spent and what we got for the money we spent. As much as Matt likes fast food, he recognizes quality food and prefers to pay what things are worth and that meal was NOT worth what we paid for it. I think fast food places have brain washed us into believing they are cheap. Sure, they have dollar menus, but the choices are limited, the dollar menus are shrinking in variety or are rising in prices making them value menus instead of dollar menus. They slowly bring us in and than when we are addicted, we don't realize that we are eating this incredibly bad food at the expense of our bodies and wallets. Even the salads at these places are ridiculous. It has been shown that their caloric count is higher than one would think and their prices are OUTRAGEOUS. I recently found out that most spray their veggies with this preservative to make them look better and last longer...gross. For about the same price, you can go to Jason's your own salad from their salad bar which has organic veggies on it as well as a wide varieties of toppings. Matt and I sat and compared our bill from Burger King with our recent bills from other establishments and we were astonished. That same day, I started to formulate a plan...Operation Fast Food Blockout. First of all, no more of this being caught out doing things and feeling like our only option is a drive-thru. From now on, we would have breakfast and lunch at home and than leave to do our fun things. Today, for instance, I have all the makings for us to have yummy, deli style turkey sandwiches (which we will also have after church tomorrow) and than we are going to head down to Downtown Houston to sight see with the kids. Secondly, none of's getting too late to cook on the weekends. This morning, since we are not rushing out early, Matt is grilling chicken for dinner. When we get home, I just boil some pasta, prepare the sauce, and add the chicken. Easy, no excuses. Same with tomorrow. I have planned the meal and gotten the supplies ahead of time. Will we have a complete blackout of fast's first. My ultimate goal is NO MORE FAST FOOD, but it has to be done in steps. By next weekend, we will have had 2 weeks without fast food...however, next weekend is a VERY busy weekend that may make it unavoidable. Or maybe it is just a new to avoid it on even the busiest of weekends. Fact is, today I can say with certainty that there will be NO fast food and that makes me happy. I may have to endure some grumbles from a certain 7 year old, but that's ok. And, here is a graphic chart that shows how many calories you get per dollar spent at some of these fast food establishment.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reading and Daniel

When Daniel finished Kindergarten, I was on cloud 9 telling the world of all his accomplishments. His teacher had tested his reading level past what the principal allowed (the principal only wanted students tested to one grade level above their current grade and no further...weird, right). His teacher knew I wanted to know where he was at. She had to do this while doing her other many duties, and I am not sure she tested him as far as he could go or as far as time allowed, but he landed at reading at a starting 3rd grader. My chest was puffed and I made sure everyone knew where my son was at.

Pride cometh before the fall, though. I began homeschooling Daniel at the beginning of 1st grade after he begged to come home because he was not challenged enough (I explained to his teacher that he was smart and needed to be challenged...she had obviously heard the "my child is special" speech before and promptly ignored it). So, it became my job to begin to challenge my son. With reading, it proved to be difficult.

I started out the year with having him read Magic Treehouse books, something that seemed to make sense to incorporates some history and some fun reading. Daniel did enjoy reading the books and I was pretty content, but halfway through the year I started doubting myself.

You see, it's hard to know what to have your kid read when he is only 6/7 years old but can read at a much higher level. Just because he has the mechanics, does he have the comprehension. Am I dumbing him down with these books and would I be expecting too much if I went to a higher level? I had a feeling I was dumbing him down...holding him back.

Lucky me, I am part of a great homeschool support group and at a park day I aired my concerns about him reading the Magic Treehouse books. I explained how Daniel could read really well, but how I was not sure what to have him read. For example, I tried reading aloud to him "The Hobbit", which went right over his head....he got the general idea, but with a book like this, you want him to get more than the general idea.

One of the moms, very animatedly, said, "stop reading him that Magic Treehouse garbage right now". I was taken aback for a second or two, but then leaned in to soak in her advice...and was it grand. She told me to look on the websites of some of the more literature based curriculum and see what books they recommend for his grade. Another mom (whose son is a lot like Daniel...can read above level and struggles with WHAT to have him read) had gotten advice to not have her kids read anything written after 1960. I chuckled at this, but found most of the books on the sites I visited were, indeed, written before 1960.

I went to Charlotte Mason (Simply Charlotte Mason) and got the book list from there, Sonlight Curriculum, Heart of Dakota, etc. It was amazing to see what they recommended for his grade and comparing it to Magic Treehouse. Night and Day. So, we started working on these books.

I decided we would do two books at a time...he would read one to himself and I would read one aloud.

His first book was "Cricket in Times Square". He read this one to himself. He is almost finished with it and I was so nervous about how he would like it. It fit all the qualifications of those who advised me. It showed up on multiple literature reading lists for his age group. It just met the "only books written before 1960" rule. I was very nervous. It was definitely not the norm for reading for him...definitely not like Magic Treehouse. It is a cute story of a cricket who accidentally takes a ride in a picnic basket from his home in Connecticut to the train station in NYC. He becomes a pet to a boy whose family owns a newsstand and he becomes friends with a mouse and a cat. Most importantly, Daniel has really loved it. After each chapter, he giggles and tells me about some crazy situation the cricket finds himself in.

The book I chose to do as a read aloud, mainly because I thought the language may go a bit over his head was "How To Train Your Dragon". The language is very viking-like. This book is a book I had heard great things about and thought it would be exciting to read though it did not meet ANY of the qualifications. It was written a short time ago and was not on ANY of the lists. We own the movie that was made from this book and, in my opinion, the movie was tons better. Daniel likes the excitement in the book, but as a whole I am not much of a fan of it. It makes me wonder about those rules I had been advised on.

We are nearing the end of both these books and I am looking forward to moving on to two new books. I can breathe easier now that I have a better guide on what I should be having him read. There is a curriculum set I want to buy to go with this new found reading we are is called "Drawn Into the Heart of Reading". I am excited about it...just need to get the money together to buy it. The best part about it is you can use whatever book you are reading for this.

Our next two books we will be reading are Stuart Little (read aloud) and Mr. Popper's Penguins (him to himself). I feel as though we have a good grasp on reading now and I am confident that he is getting what he needs. Now, for free-time reading, I let him read what he wants. He LOVES Calvin and Hobbes and reads and re-reads these books. They really spark his imagination. In the car, he will spend all his time reading and NO TIME playing video games or anything (it is very quiet in the car when it is just him and I).

Here are some examples of what is on our "to read" list:

Charlotte's Web
Chronicles of Narnia
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Peter Pan
The Littles

And much, much more. It is rather exciting to me!!