Bits of my life

  • I joined a women’s community choir in January and am absolutely loving it.  It is taught by the awesome Linda Walker, who taught our kids choir for several years, and who also has an adult women’s group.  We are learning some gorgeous music, and I am learning lots more about singing, which makes me very happy.  That hour every Tuesday evening goes way too fast.  Even better: my oldest daughter is in the choir with me– very fun!
  • I am awash in vowels these days.  Along with learning how to sing words with proper sounding vowels in choir, I am also working hard on vowel pronunciation with our older Ethio daughters. You never notice how crazy the English language is til you struggle through it with someone who wasn’t born here.  The girls have been home 2.5 years.  For awhile we just waited, thinking that the sounds would come.  To a large degree that’s happening.  But a few sounds are soooo hard to say.  Short ‘e’, ‘er’, and the ‘oo’ sound in ‘book’ are all tough ones.  I am making up my own speech therapy.  First I have to figure out how I make the sounds, then I try to describe the mouth motions to the girls, and sometimes we even end up standing in front of the mirror comparing mouth movements.  Easy it is not, but it is really cool to hear the sounds getting easier for the girls, even ones that they didn’t think they could make.
  • The new math is working so well that I have more time to work on reading with kids.  Which also means I have more time to knit.  This month I finished a scarf in a variegated blue yarn that I began 2 years ago for my now 12 year old daughter, and knitted a small pink scarf for my 5 year old.  Love fitting knitting into my day.
  • TobyMac’s new CD Tonightrocks.  I’ve gotta be in the right mood to enjoy Toby Mac– he’s very energetic.   But today I cranked it up and it was just what I needed to help push through all that bedroom-cleaning.  I especially love Break Open the Sky.

Enough randomness for tonight.  I’m going to bed.  Have a great weekend!

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  1. Mary,

    I totally know what you are talking about when you are trying to teach those sounds. Our children from Liberia have such a hard time with the exact same sounds! Our kiddos have been home almost 3 years. Our youngest is doing o.k. w/ the sounds, but our oldest (7 at adoption) and middle sons from Liberia still struggle. . . it has definitely made learning to read harder because what they hear and say when they say words are not what they then “see” on paper.

    My KIDS all love the new TobyMac CD and I think they have it memorized already (it’s on the Ipod constantly).

    I bought and read both of your books since we became a “Suddenly Large Family” as I like to call it. We went from 1 child to 10 children in less than 3 years! LOL! Your SWGtRLF book has been helpful and encouraging. My kids loved your mac and cheese recipe from Family Feasts.

    Anyways, just wanted to say Hi! Oh, and also we were thinking the beach house you talk about might be in the same town we always have camped in (when we only had 4 children). . . maybe we can rent that house next time we are there. I’m thinking our small pop up tent trailer isn’t going to fit all 12 of us!

  2. About a year ago, I had the honor of being a Teaching Assistant Substitute at a junior high school. Much of the morning was in the English as a Second Language (ESL) room, which does much the same work as you are doing, for kids who have come here from other places for various reasons. There were 11 students, with 7 countries represented.
    It seems like you are on the right track for your girls to be learning. (which means you are doing the same things the teacher was doing that morning when I could watch)

    On the other hand, I remember a boy mebbe age 14, whose voice was in the mid-change age, being asked to read a passage in his native Italian. He read effortlessly, beautifully. Reading the same words in English did not come so easily for him, but his accent is quite charming.
    I told him I envy his ability to speak more than one language. Taking 3 years of French in high school help me at all.

  3. OOps – that last sentence should have DID NOT between school and help

  4. Oh, I am so happy for you. I would love to sing in the Choir.

    BTDT and Am there doing that with our older boys.

    I love Toby Mac. You are right there has to be a Toby mood to really appreciate him.

  5. Using a mirror is a good way to learn to form your mouth “properly” to make certain sounds. I find with Arabic speakers, short e and i are really hard. But I know they’ll make it; those sounds will come.
    And those scarves are gorgeous! Really!

  6. I am so proud of you and the success of your book! God is blessing you in so many ways and it’s wonderful that the world is acknowledging the fact that you are an amazing person!! And I am so thankful you are my friend!!!


  7. In a former life I was a speech therapist, but then the rest of life happened. Some tips and things to remember if I maybe so bold:

    * Your public school system MUST provide speech services to your child BY LAW. I homeschool also and I think what you’re looking at with the girl’s isn’t necessarily a huge problem but if you desire professional help, remember its free and its available. I’m not suggesting it; just saying its there. But you probably knew that.
    * When trying to form sounds, sit side by side facing the mirror; otherwise it gets complicated and you are always backwards. Always start with some warm up silly mouth exercises, just like you would if you were exercising the rest of your body. See who can roll their tongue, who can touch their nose or chin. Its messy but it helps kids turn on their mind to focus on their mouth.

    * Start with the targetted sound in isolation, until they have some measure of success. Then move to target + easy connected sound. Keep the target in initial position until some measure of success (normally around 80%). Then move to final position, then lastly put the target sound in the middle of the word. Theory being that its easy to ramp up to a problem at the beginning and the end. Putting it in the middle means thinking about sounds after too, causing more problems. is a great resource with all manner of freebies and suggestions.

    *If you want suggestions and not full time weekly school therapy, often a school speech therapist will take the time for a consult.

    Honestly, I’m sure this is stuff you already know and I apologize if it sounds demeaning. I’m hoping to serve as a reminder or at least “that commenter who’s a real know it all”.

  8. We are enjoying the new Toby Mac at our house too. My 10 yr. old plays it constantly. I keep calling it “…your DC Talk CD…” which really shows that I’m stuck in the wrong decade!!
    I just saw “Feeding Your Family…” at Sam’s Club tonight! Yea you!! Your Fried Rice has already become a family fav here! Happy Weekend!

  9. So excited to see your book in those magazines! We love it so much. We have Italian Sausage Soup at least once a week and haven’t tried a recipe yet that we don’t like!

  10. i can’t believe your girls have been home with you for 2.5 years! how did THAT happen? wow- time flies. 🙂

  11. I finally bought your book yesterday and am loving it! I am not a natural cook and my mother was not a very creative cook (95% venison and my dad doesn’t like any spices). It is teaching me so many basics about shopping and cooking that I so desperately need. We have grown to a family of 7 with the pending adoption of a large sibling group and I needed to learn how to move past the convenience meals of the past, to things that are both more healthy and more cost efficient. Thankyou!