Road Rally for My Racine Peeps

This is a little game for the folks in Racine to alleviate their stay-at-home angst and boost their mental health status.  Please click on the Road Rally link below, PRINT this pdf and remember to NOT READ any pages beyond the first until you are parked at the starting spot and ready to begin.

#30 — It seems the violets might be at the end of their season.  They should be along either side of the street — one side is woodsy, the other side is someone’s yard.  If you can’t find violets, take a “woodsy” picture instead.

#56 — The closed road is no longer closed, (Probably neither is Jimmy John’s?)  but the clue still works.

#69 — The shutters at 2034 may ALSO have been changed for the season.  Just take a picture of the house to get the points for that one.

#77 — The flag tends to get twisted.  If you cannot see the letters, write down the colors of the flag.  1 bonus point if you get (or correctly GUESS) the letters.

COVID duration Road Rally


Song in My Heart

What songs have you memorized?  For as long as I can remember, I have been collecting songs in my heart.   My sister Lynn gets credit for planting this seed in me.  She was 11 years my elder and used to sing me to sleep when I was just a little girl.  Her inspirations included folk artists such as Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, and Joni Mitchell.  When she came home for visits, she would teach my sister Hope and me new songs she had learned — both the melodies and the harmonies.  The sweet loving feelings of being sung to like this set an absolute goal in my mind.  I would memorize songs and I would sing my children to sleep.  Now, I sing songs to my grandson.  It calms him from fretful wakefulness into deep, sound slumber.  So, the seed Lynn planted, in addition to blessing my husband, has benefitted my sons’ and grandson’s lives as well.  Singing can start a legacy.

Over the years, I’ve realized what a rich blessing it is to have so many songs stored in my heart.  I have a 2-3 hour repertoire of memorized songs.  Anybody that goes on a road trip with me gets forewarned.  I will sing through the night as I drive.  Singing is actually a terrific way to stay awake when you are getting sleepy on the road.  I think singing memorized songs is more beneficial in this aspect than singing along with the radio.  There’s something about the pumping oxygen through your lungs and making your brain work to remember all the lyrics that energizes you.    Also, when you are driving an “older model vehicle” in which both the radio and the air conditioner no longer work and you can’t hear your phone/i-pod because leaving the windows down puts you in a wind tunnel, singing gives you a good alternative to pass the miles away — just sayin’.           Singing has its practical applications.

A good many of the songs in my heart are hymns and songs of praise.  This, I learned, adds an entirely new dimension to the benefits.  I have walked through a decades-long battle against depression, have had years of deep frustration, experienced times of great turmoil, and am given to holding bitterness in my heart.  Singing songs of worship to my God and King literally lifts me out of the quagmire.  Worshipful singing changes a broken or distressed heart.

There are times when I am so downcast I cannot lift my heart to sing.  It was a time such as this that God revealed the power of worship songs to me.  He nudged me to just sing (more of a somewhat melodious mumble) the first few words of a song I knew and loved.  With those first few words out, my voice strengthened.  Determinedly, I sang the next line … and the next.  Within minutes, I was singing with my heart and not just my tongue.  I think that was my first revelation of how powerfully this act could take control over despondency, anger and bitterness.  Even when facing odious household chores, I’ve found singing from my heart keeps me in the right frame of mind and prevents me from developing bitterness or self-pity.  Singing sets your heart in the right place.

Another time I remember, I was visiting my aged mother, tending to some tasks she needed doing while she sorted through things at her chair.  I had a song in my heart and I just started singing as I worked.  I glanced up to check on my mom after a bit and saw the sweetest smile on her face.  It wasn’t until I heard my own children making music that I understood how much that blesses a mother’s heart.  Singing can be a blessing to others.

This summer, we experienced a delightful time with old friends who apparently have learned similar lessons and carry their own store of songs in their hearts.  It was our third and final night at the campfire and somehow, over the weekend, I had become the campfire entertainment director.  The first night I had challenged the kids with naming our 50 states, and later the adults with naming capitals.  The second night we had a try at telling continuous stories.  On the third night, when 10-year-old Maddie asked, “Mrs. Franklin, what are we going to do tonight?”, I was running out of ideas, so I suggested we sing songs.  Sarah, a young woman with a lovely voice and the confidence to lead, began to sing songs that we’d all sung together over the years in church.  She had built up her repertoire because she had learned that singing old hymns was the best way to calm her agitated grandmother who is living with them and suffers from Alzheimer’s.  (It should be noted that Grandma much prefers the peppier hymns. ) For over two hours, we sang and harmonized from an oft-shared treasure trove of memorized worship songs.  When half-asleep, young Caleb was taken into bed, he turned back and muttered sleepily, “But keep singing, OK?”  Later, after we’d finished singing a heart-warming rendition of COME THY FOUNT, Maddie called out from the camper next to us, “Sing that one again!”  It is a sweet, memory.  I hope to recreate it with campfires in our yard.  Singing builds community.

In the last few hours before my dear sister Lynn passed away, we had gathered around her bed and sung her both songs of worship (celebrating our shared faith) as well as the songs she had taught my sister Hope and I.  It was such a beautiful experience that the family gathered around my dad’s bed on his last night here on earth and did the same.  Sadly, my mom’s death came suddenly when she was home alone.  We didn’t get to sing her off.  Thankfully though, my sister Hope had called me over to Mom’s one night because she was acting very strange and agitated, and Hope was afraid she was dying.  There were several times like this in my mom’s last year, so it wasn’t an automatic, “Get the family over here,” kind of thing.  Hope and I tucked Mom into bed, prayed with her and listened to her “If I die tonight…” instructions.  After that we looked at each other and mouthed, “Should we sing?”  We decided, last night or not, it would soothe our mother if we sang to her.  We started with the “Lynn songs” and moved into songs of worship and hope.  I am so grateful we had that time of lulling my mom to sleep weeks before the Lord brought her home.  Singing is a great way to say goodbye.

What songs are stored in your heart?

I’m Back

When I started this blog, I didn’t follow the rules for a successful blog. I didn’t narrow down my topic and I clearly don’t post regularly. I don’t inundate people with promoting my posts. I will probably never get rich off of this blog, but that wasn’t my intention when I started it. I started this to bless others and as a platform to share what I know and what I feel.  Sometimes, I need to take time to bless myself.

This past year, a combination of the “tyranny of the urgent” plus physical and mental fatigue have kept me from posting, even when my heart was nudged to share something.  I have cut back on some of my duties and have taken steps to strengthen my body. Slowly but surely I am being revived.  It’s taken a good deal of patience on my part. I’m hoping to now be able to share a little more often and would love to hear feedback from those who read what I write.

FIRST Day of Preschool

sunny-tablewith-wordsA new semester has brought a new group of students.  Today they all took their first step into preschool class.  Most were pretty timid upon walking through the door.  A few tears were shed during the first hour, but they were easily assuaged with a little comforting.  My philosophy with my students is to entice them out of their shell rather than push.  In preparation for first day jitters, I had each parent send me a family picture ahead of time.  When the children came into the classroom, they took off their coats and hung them up.  Then they were told to go to the photo table and find their family.  Hah!  Here’s a task they could not fail.  They KNEW the answer to this test!  You could see visible relief on their faces as they marched themselves and “their family” over to our table to choose a seat.  I try to have Mylar balloons for each student this first day of class.  Who doesn’t love a Mylar balloon?  They make the atmosphere feel fun and festive right off the bat.


The students found a seat they liked, propped their family photo against their balloon’s weight and proceeded to engage in doing wooden puzzles.  Very few preschoolers can resist the draw of bright wooden puzzles, but I had one today.  He was particularly nervous and could not be drawn out by the lure of puzzles.  Luckily, he was excited to see my shape-sorter ball on the table as well.  This was a “puzzle” he could enjoy.

Once all the kids had arrived and had sufficient time to explore the puzzles, we welcomed the class and went around the table with each student holding up their picture and telling us about who was in their family.  We noticed that some of our students were the oldest in their family while others were the youngest.  Some had both older and younger siblings.  Two families had all boys and one family had all girls.   I asked students to raise their hands if they had 2 kids in their family, 5 kids, etc.  It was a great time to compare how our families were similar and different.


After everybody got a chance to share about their family, we brought out my Snail’s Pace Race game.  This is probably THE BEST preschool game around.  I like to think of it as a preschool version of the Kentucky Derby, but without the betting.  Theoretically, it is a non-competitive game, but kids can always find a way to compete.  Playing games is a wonderful way to teach a child so many skills, not the least of which is, “How to be a good winner/loser.”  We went over that lesson, and then I took note of the behavior of the children.  Do they have their colors down? (Yes!) Can they play by the rules?  Do they take turns nicely?  Does anybody try to cheat?  The kids took turns rolling the color dice and moving the snails and we all cheered for each snail as it crossed the finish line.


Mylar Balloons with Tiny Solo Cup Baskets


Stones kept our balloons anchored until we were ready to do our experimenting with them.







The night before, I’d weighted the Mylar balloons by tying them to tiny Solo cup “shot glasses” which I’d melted holes into by using an ice pick which I’d heated up by holding it over the flame of the stove.  Just as I’d hoped, the shot glasses were not enough weight to hold the balloons down, so I added a stone to each cup to keep the balloons weighted. Back to our school time —  I had the children remove the stones from their cups and we spent several minutes delighting in letting the balloons go and trying to catch them before they got away.  Then I laid an assortment of small items out on the table — toothpicks, Q-Tips, little Lego people, hairbands, tiny pom pom balls, fish and teddy bear counters.  I challenged the students to experiment with what it took to keep their cup down.  We found about 4 toothpicks was enough for one boy.  Another discovered that if he put two pom poms in, the balloon sort of floated mid-air.  Some kids had fun just seeing how full they could stuff their cups with all the trinkets.


One little bear made this balloon kind of jump around. It took two to anchor it securely.


With no added weight, the balloon would float to the ceiling. With just the right amount of added weight you could get it to hover.








We folded baby wipes then painted designs on the top layer, and reinforced the design by adding extra paint where needed on the bottom layer.


Unfolding brought squeals of delight.







For our art project, we made “tie-dyed” squares.  I got the idea here.  We found it much easier for 4-year-old hands to just fold the baby wipe into quarters rather than twisting and wrapping rubber bands around them.  We painted them with these wonderful liquid watercolors.  While this meant we had to turn our folded wipe over and reapply some of the colors to the backside, I think the results were just as satisfying.

Snack time was  another learning experience.  Besides apple slices, we gave the children graham crackers and a little pot of peanut butter and instructed them how to use their plastic knife to spread the peanut butter.  Next they were offered mini chocolate chips, chopped pecans and coconut flakes to sprinkle on top.  Some had never tried coconut before but found they liked it.  This led to a conversation about how even though new experiences (like trying coconut or coming to the first day of preschool) might seem a little scary,  if we are always afraid to try new things, we will miss out on so much in life.

Our group game involved sitting around in a circle on the floor and taking turns rolling a ball across the circle to each other.  As we rolled the ball, we had to shout out our name.  Simple as this was, the kids anxiously waited for their turns and seemed to really enjoy the activity.

Now, the last hour of our day, it was time for free-play.  Today’s stations included playing with our tunnel, wooden blocks, rubber animals, stacking cups, this Fisher-Price gumball machine (which, even at 4 years old, these kids can’t seem to get enough of),  throwing sock balls to try to hit a Mylar balloon tied to a chair, and a story time corner.  We also brought the wooden puzzles back out for those who didn’t get enough of them earlier in the day.  All play stations got lots of activity.  Free play is a vital part of the preschool experience.  After spending over two hours in the classroom following directions and mostly staying seated, these kids need time to roam and explore.  It’s a wonderful social experience where kids learn to take turns, share toys, cooperate, create and, in some cases, stand in line.

Blocks, animals and cups? The possibilities are endless.

Blocks, animals and cups? The possibilities are endless.

When the parents showed up to pick up their “experienced” preschoolers, they were met with happy faces and chattering children anxious to share about their day.  In order to enhance this communication between parents and children, I send home a take-home letter listing all that we did that day and post pictures to our private group page.

Snowman Day at Preschool

Once a week, I get the privilege of having a handful of 4-year-olds come over to my house for a little preschool time.  We have so much fun together, I thought I’d share our days with you.  Each week we have a different theme and our schedule follows the same pattern:  an hour of school skills, an hour of art, snack time, active group play, free play (including some form of sensory play) at various play stations.


We started our day practicing tracing and cutting skills.  The kids took turns sharing a couple of snowman shaped patterns which they used to trace the shape on their cardstock.  Next they cut the snowmen out — a little tricky to get in the points, but they handled it well.  Each child drew a face on their snowman and glued on one of the scarves I had created out of scrapbook paper.  I had also created hats out of the same pieces of scrapbook paper and put a number from 1-12 on each one.  It was time to begin our game.

The children took turns picking a hat, turning it over to reveal the number and then placing the hat upon their snowman.  They got really excited when the hat paper matched their scarf paper.  Now the task was to place as many buttons on the snowman as the hat showed.  Once we checked to see if they had the right amount, they would switch hats and add or subtract buttons to match the new number.  They were not really taking turns, but all working on their buttons and switching hats randomly whenever they completed their task.  This game was far more engaging than I anticipated and the kids really enjoyed it.  Here is the post where I got the idea.

Next, we made snowmen out of glue which I got from this link.  I did a sample snowman, but it didn’t have the whole 2-3 days drying time necessary to be completely done by the day of class.  I was rather dismayed as it dried because the glue seemed to be absorbing into the wax paper and I thought I hadn’t used enough glue.  I didn’t realize this was exactly how it was supposed to look, so when the kids made theirs I kept encouraging them to use more glue.  While this didn’t hurt their final products at all, it did mean more drying time — about 3 days total for the thickest ones.  The final product had a milky translucency to it and is semi-stiff/semi-flexible.


Probably the best activity of the day was the melting snowmen which I got from this link.  Preparation involved dropping 2 beads and an orange felt triangle in the bottom of a cup, then stuffing the cup with a mixture of baking soda and water mixed to a stiff claylike consistency with a little silver glitter mixed in for fun.  I used red Solo “shot glasses” and I wouldn’t recommend going any bigger than that.  After I firmly packed the cup about half-full, I threw in a couple of sequin “buttons” and inserted two pieces of toothpicks down the side for arms.  Then I set them on the front porch overnight to freeze.  This worked great since temperatures were below zero last week.

preschool Jan 2016 010

Our frozen snowmen awaiting release.

It took some doing to get the snowmen out of the cup.  They were REALLY frozen solid!  We dipped them in hot water, rolled them in our hands, dipped them again and squeezed and prodded until finally, they worked their way out.  It was so fun to see the unique facial expressions each one was “born” with.  Each child was given one snowman on a plastic tray and a 3 oz. spray bottle filled with vinegar.  We also set out small bowls of vinegar and equipped each child with a plastic pipette.  Then we set them loose instructing them to melt the snowmen with their vinegar.  Because the baking soda concoction was frozen it didn’t react as abruptly as the baking soda and vinegar volcano many of us have done.  Each squirt resulted in a satisfying little fizzle and a tiny bit of melting.  The kids began debating which worked better, the spray bottle or the pipette.  One child figured out (after using all the vinegar in his spray bottle) that he could then suck up the pool of vinegar off his tray and refill his bottle.  Then he discovered pouring the vinegar onto the snowman out of the open bottle was a VERY effective method for melting him.  This project kept all the children completely engaged until the snowmen were totally melted.  In all, it took 20-25 minutes.  Wanting to let the children linger over this learning experiment, I decided to knock a few activities off of our list rather than rush this project.

Next, we read the book Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner and then let the kids draw their own “snowmen at night” pictures with chalk on dark blue paper.  We used colored chalk, but most of the kids chose to just use white anyway.


Snack time consisted of a marshmallow snowman in a field of popcorn “snow” with a side of snowman noses.


preschool Jan 2016 045

I should have cut the button toothpicks shorter, so they didn’t look like daggers, but I was in a hurry.  I dipped a toothpick in food coloring to make the face and used a slivered almond for the nose.


It was time to get active so we split the kids into two teams and equipped each team with a bucket of snowball.  With a barrier set between the teams, we let the snowballs fly.  This activity rivaled the melting snowmen as a favorite, and I think the kids could have gone on forever.

While the snowmen-faced balls are adorable and soft, the plain ones have an incredible texture that feels just like you are packing a real snowball when you squeeze them.

Our sensory play consisted of snow dough.  Again, this was such a fun texture to work with.  It is a simple concoction of baking soda and conditioner in about a 4/1 ratio.  (I used a bit more conditioner than the original post suggested.)  You’ll know the right proportions by feel.  At first, it sticks together but is rather crumbly but as you mix in more conditioner, you get a silky soft feel to it.  It still looks like real snow though.  This packs nicely and can be formed into a snowman.  It’s still crumbly and your hands will get messy, but both these ingredients rinse off easily and will not clog your drain.

I put out a nice selection of snowman accouterments to try to encourage the kids to build one more snowman, but most of them just wanted to immerse themselves in the texture of the dough.  One little girl found a coal shovel in the train set and decided to use it to shovel snow.

Taking a break from snowmen, we ended the day by building a magnificent Duplo train track through the rooms.


My Blog is Up Again

Old Folks + Technology = Comical

I’m so sorry to anybody who has tried to get to my blog these past few days. I was experiencing technical confusion. Not only was my blog inaccessible, but in trying to problem solve, I inadvertently deleted the first copy of my recent post along with all the nice “likes” I got so quickly. There were issues with my domain name, but I didn’t know about them because I had used my gmail account to register my name. That would be the very same gmail that I’ve periodically tried to get to for at least a year. So desperate was I that I even humbly admitted to my tech savvy sons that their old mom couldn’t find her inbox and needed help. They couldn’t come down to my level of inefficiency far enough to even understand how that problem could even exist. Well, today I conquered. I’ve both fixed the issues with my website AND I found my inbox ! (thereby being able to see the notifications about the problem) Unfortunately, I got so excited, I forgot to note how I got there.

Suffice it to say, my blog is up and running again.  The changes this year will bring SHOULD allow me the time to do more writing.  Please come and explore what I share. Invite friends and leave “likes” and comments. It’s very encouraging to me and it broadens my perspective to hear from you. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

~ Beth

Some How’s and Why’s of American Spelling


Granted, spelling is tough in the English language.   I used to be horrible at spelling before I learned how to teach it to my boys.  As is usually the case I learned a lot more as a teacher than I ever learned as a student.  Regardless of what spelling program we used, we would apply the following Spelling Rules and identify the Phonograms  in each word, thereby eliminating a great many of the “spelling exceptions”.

Phonograms 2

 Its overwhelming to try to learn all these rules and phonograms at once.  I find it works best to teach your child the phonograms, flashcard style, starting with the first 3 or 4 and then adding a few every day.  Some parents will also have the child write each phonogram as they learn it.  Daily review of all learned phonograms is essential.  For phonograms with more than one sound, teach them all the sounds IN THE ORDER GIVEN when you introduce the phonogram.  It won’t necessarily make sense to them right away, but later you can say, “The [a] is making it’s 3rd sound,” and they should know which sound you’re referring to.  You should provide a special reward when they’ve mastered the daunting six-sound [ough].   After they’ve learned the phonograms, I would have them underline all the phonograms (at least the ones with more than one letter) when introducing a new spelling word.  If the phonogram has more than one sound have them write a small number above the phonogram indicating which sound it’s making.  Teach the spelling rules AS THEY BECOME APPLICABLE  in their spelling words or in the words they are trying to write.  This sounds very tedious and laborious, and it is — at first.   You will, however, be amazed at how quickly your child becomes adept at it, and the constant repetition drives the rules deep into their memory.  In the beginning limit your word-marking to just 3 or 4 words a day.

Phonograms and Reading:
After I teach my children the first five phonograms, I start putting together short words with the phonograms they’ve learned and teach them how to sound them out.  So, with the first five phonograms  a-b-c-d-e  (2 days worth of learning so far) you can teach them to read bad, dad, bed, cab,dab … even cad if you want to give them a new vocabulary word.  (I would hold off on using any words with the 2nd or 3rd sounds until they are getting pretty comfortable with sounding out words.)  Continue creating new words daily utilizing the new phonograms they learn.

Phonograms and Spelling:
When your student has read a short list of  words that are made up of the phonograms learned thus far, dictate the words back to the child and have him write them out.   Any words that get misspelled should be repeated the next day.   When your child gets to multiple letter phonograms, he should underline each one in the word when he spells them out.  When he gets to words which use later sounds of a phonogram he should write the correct number above the phonogram.  I would use this process throughout learning all the phonograms and spelling rules.  Then, you can apply the rules/phonograms to any spelling program you choose to use.

Here’s the daily procedure:

1) Learn a few new phonograms.
2) Learn a few new words using the phonograms learned to date.
3) Spell any words you got wrong yesterday, underlining any multiple letter phonograms and numbering their sound if applicable.
4) Spell the new words introduced today.  Underline phonograms and number as needed.
5) Play spelling games with the words you’ve learned and teach spelling rules as needed.


Below are the spelling rules.  Click here for the Phonogram Chart

Helpful Spelling and Phonetic Rules
This is a collection of rules and tips I have picked up or discovered over the years. They are written here in no particular order. Parents should become very familiar with these rules so they can explain to their children why words are spelled the way they are. It is difficult to learn how to spell with the English language, but if you really get to know these rules, you will see there is far more reason and far fewer exceptions than you previously thought. Please note when I refer to the vowels’ “long sounds” I am referring to them making the sounds they make in these words: bake, be, pie, go and cute. When I refer to their “short sounds” I am referring to them making the sounds they make in these words: can, get, pin, not, cut. Some vowels make more than these two sounds. (see my phonogram chart)

1. The letters [a], [e], [o] and [u] usually say their long sound (their “name”) when they come at the end of a word or syllable. ([i] can say it’s long sound at the end of a syllable but often it will say its short sound.) ra-di-o, go, be-long, to-fu

2. Usually, a double consonant allows one consonant to stay with the first syllable, thereby allowing the vowel to say its short sound.
Compare: ba-by and ba-bble

3. When reading , pronounce only one of the double consonants (in the accented syllable) When spelling sound out both of the double consonants.   lit-tle, ban-ner

4. [c] will say “s” (its soft sound) only when followed by an [e], [i], or [y].
Whenever [c] is followed by [e], [i], or [y] it must say “s”.    city, since, bicycle
(The exception to this is rule #17 below.)

5. Unlike [c], [g] CAN say its hard sound when followed by [e], [i], or [y]– girl, get
but, LIKE [c], [g] can’t say its soft sound (“j”) UNLESS it is followed by [e], [i], or [y] gym, gem, region
(Now you should always be able to tell the difference between angel and angle!)

6. A [y] that is NOT preceded by a vowel will usually say the long “i” sound at the end of a 2-3 letter word. fly, by, cry

7. A [y] that is NOT preceded by a vowel will usually say “ee” at the end of word that is more than 2-3 letters or more than one syllable.
many, pretty, any

8. In English, every syllable has to have a vowel.

9. English words very seldom end in [i], [v], or [u] except for these exceptions: you, thou, hi (Some words from other languages will end in these letters — spaghetti, sushi, tipi, tofu, Hawaii)

10. There are 6 types of silent-e’s. They are as follows:
a. Silent-e helps the vowel to say its name. (Words ending in vowel – consonant – silent-e) cake, ride, cone, dune
b. Silent-e represents the vowel in words that end in the “l” sound and would otherwise not have a vowel in the second syllable.
lit-tle, pud-dle, wrin-kle
c. Silent-e prevents a word from ending in [i], [v], or [u] – see rule number 9.    blue, pie, give
d. Silent-e allows the [g] to say “j” or the [c] to say “s” – see rules 4 and 5.     hinge, since, rice, cage
e. Sometimes a silent-e will follow an [s] (presumably so the word will not look like a plural).    horse, sparse, house
f. Sometimes there is a silent-e for no particular reason.     are, come, some

11. [or] may say “er” only if preceded by a [w]– worm, world, word but it won’t always say “er” in this situation — worn, swore, sword

12. [ar] will usually say “or” if preceded by a [w]: warm, war, wart [exception: wary ]

13. Memorize the sentence: Her first church worshiped early on the journey.
It demonstrates the six different ways to spell the “er” sound. er – ir — ur – wor – ear – our
These are listed in order of frequency. Most often “er” is spelled [e-r] Remember that [or] will say “er” only if preceded by a [w].

14. Use[i] before [e] except after [c] and unless it says “ay” as in veil and vein.
To help remember the exceptions to this rule, memorize this sentence. Neither foreign sovereign chose to forfeit leisure to seize the counterfeit.

15. [sh] is never used at the beginning of a syllable after the first one unless it is the suffix “ship”. It is used at the beginning of a word or at the end of a syllable. [ti], [si], and [ci]are used to say “sh” at the beginning of a syllable later in the word.

16. [tion] says “shun” at the end of a base word

17. [ci] will say “sh” when followed by [al] or [ous] as in special and spacious.

18. [si] says “sh” when the syllable preceding it ends with an s, (ses sion) or when the base word has an s where the base word changes.
tense, tension

19. [si] (not ti or ci) can also say “zh” as in vision.

20. [su] sometimes says “shu”. — sugar, sure

21. [tu] sometimes says “chu” — picture, punctuate

22. One-syllable words ending with c-v-c (consonant-vowel-consonant) need another consonant before adding an ending that begins with a vowel. — hop >> hopped, bat>>batting

23. Words of two syllables that have the accent on the last syllable, AND that end in c-v-c need another consonant added before adding an ending that begins with a vowel. —  begin>>beginning

24. Drop the silent e on words before adding an ending that begins with a vowel (unless needed for c, g, u, i, etc. noticeable) bake >> baking
Note: judgment and argument are exceptions to that rule.

25. The letters l,f,s and z are often doubled after a single vowel saying its short sound. — fizz, dull, staff, will [not when the vowel says its long sound (its name) —  gaze, rule]

26. Other consonants may be doubled at the end of words too. —  egg, add

27. Sometimes i and o will say their long sounds if followed by two consonants.
roll, kind, folk

28. The letter [x] is NEVER followed directly by the letter [s]. excited, boxes, expect

29. The letter [s]never says “z” at the beginning of a word. : zoo, zebra

30. Drop one [l] when adding all, full or till to either the beginning or the end of a word.  — awful, until, always, alright

31. The letter combinations [dge], [ck], and [tch] are used only after a single vowel that doesn’t say its long sound. — edge, duck, stitch.
A short vowel can be followed by just a [c], but that is unusual (plastic, picnic),  however a long vowel or double vowel won’t be followed by [dge], [ck], or [tch] (rage, bake, teach).

32. If the letter [y] is not preceded by a vowel, change the [y] to [i] before adding an ending. — pretty >> prettier
This rule applies even if the ending begins with a consonant. —  fly>> flies

33.  When adding the ending “ing” to a word that ends with [y], DON’T change the [y] to [i] — cry>>crying

34. Don’t change [y] to [i] when it is preceded by a vowel. — play >> played

35. Specific names of people, places or things are capitalized.

35. The past-tense suffix [ed] says “d” or “t” after words that do not end in the “d” or “t” sound. —  laughed, baked
If the word ends in the “d” or “t” sound, the [ed] forms a separate syllable and says “ed”. — sledded, batted

36.  In English, the letter [q] is always followed by the letter [u].  Together they say “kw”.  queen, quilt, equal

The Birth of a Blog

I’ve struggled for years with the decision whether to blog or not, wondering      a) if I had the TIME to do it,      b) how to categorize it – I didn’t want to limit my subject matter to one focused area as “How to Blog” articles suggest,      c) if I could handle the criticism,  but mostly      d) why I would be doing it.

I used to write articles for our home schooling newsletter, which I believe really ministered to that segment of society, however personal circumstances created a decade long writer’s block. My writing is a tool God has given me, but I need His inspiration for what and how to write.  I’m convinced He put that gift up on the shelf out of my reach for these past years because I had other areas I needed to resolve.  Just a couple of years ago, I got a few closely-placed signs that my writing might be called back into practice and suddenly the ideas started flowing again.  Still, I had to do some soul searching on the above questions.

Finding the time will resolve itself.  If I’m inspired, I will make the time to write.  Today, I think I’ve resolved the categorizing issue.  I am a dance-to-the-beat-of-my-own-drum kind of person – always have been.  Rules can be useful, but I’m not averse to breaking them.   The thought of dealing with criticism so publicly is still a bit daunting, but I trust I will grow thicker skin if need be.  But the real question I’ve been chewing on is “Why”.

What are the reasons I feel led to blog?  What makes me feel like the world needs to hear what runs through my mind?  Am I seeking self-gratification?  Honestly, I do love hearing when people like what I’ve written, but this is not a good reason to start littering people’s lives with words.   Yet another question – am I doing this in the hopes of making money from it?  Well, money is a good motivator.  Still, that’s the wrong motivator in this case.  What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve got things to share that I think can bless those who read it.  One day during a sermon, our pastor used the phrase “bless and build” and it went straight to my heart.  Thinking those words so succinctly summarized what I was hoping to do with my blog, I realized that I’d just been given the name I needed.  So that is my purpose – to bless my readers and to build them up with encouragement as they journey through life.

Our Family 2014

Our Family 2014

I will fight the little voice that keeps telling me it is arrogant to assume people will want to read what I think.  I will write as I am inspired and we’ll see if it falls into a neat categorical focus.  I will share ideas about womanhood, motherhood and sisterhood.  My life experiences have taken me down roads in parenting, creating, reading, cooking, event organizing,  and home schooling.  I have walked through years of depression, discovered beauty about life as a “messie”, struggled through learning to forgive, learned the value of relationships and found out about the different ways men and women think.  I have known the good, the bad and the ugly of perfectionism, legalism and fanaticism.  I have raised five sons who have in turn raised me to new levels of understanding and maturity.   I have walked with my husband through the challenges and rewards of a 30+ year marriage.  All these subjects will no doubt turn up in my writing.  I look forward to sharing with and hearing from my readers.  My hope is that we will mutually bless and build one another through our communication here.