Sunday, June 03, 2012

In order to keep things a lot simpler, I've gone to a website with a blog. You can find my blog at The Garden School of Evansville. Just Google me, Judy Lyden, and it will come up as the GS of EVV. Thanks for reading. I hope there is a lot more writing now that I only have one place to satisfy!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Such is Life...

So I'm checking out at Rural know, the K-Mart for farmers, and I've got one hundred and sixty pounds of ground corn cob for my guinea pigs to play in, a small bag - forty pounds - of potting soil, some last minute veggie plants all heading to school. So there I am, at the check out glad it went without a hitch, because my precious and wonderful son called from Detroit on his way back to Germany so he can be home for his son's birthday.

Now my precious and wonderful son builds Proton Therapy Units all over the world for cancer treatment. He's the top guy and flies everywhere --- in the next month he will probably be in St. Petersburg, Riyadh, Taiwan, San Diego, and probably many places in Europe. It's his job. When he tried to take his female lawyer to Saudi Arabia, they asked if he "owned" get the picture.

So here is a young man with an important job talking to his mom who is now sitting in a very used parking lot in the light industrial section of Evansville, Indiana, in her seventeen year old jeep loaded down with ground corn cobs and potting soil. He's in a business suit with five hundred messages waiting to be answered on his phone, and I'm wearing short blue jean shorts and a $3.00 shirt from Walmart and using my "smart phone" which is usually smarter than I am.

How does this happen that a dichotomy of life styles has grown up between  mother and child to this extreme?


I have come to believe that hope is the magic word...the magic wand in rearing children. I love what I do, where I am and my life. I wouldn't change anything about my's sweet...but at the same time, my life is not my children's. It's mine. So while I've been living my own life, I have had great hopes that my children could do the exact same their own lives, doing what they want to do, and doing it well.

When my son was born, I hoped that he would do good things with this life, and I encouraged him to do great things at every point in life. I told him that he could reach for the sky and get there with enough effort and enough solid living.

When my daughters were born, I hoped that each of them would do good things with their lives, and I encouraged them in the same way I encouraged my son. "Anything is possible if you work hard enough."

I've gone round and round with several people over the years who believe that hope is a worthless passive waste of time. For me, hope is all the possibilities tied belongs to a life lived cautiously, carefully, and prayerfully. It is open, healthy, broad, and encompasses all the human passions while it remains gentle and lovingly looks forward instead of back.  Hope is life's polish.

So as the sweat is dripping from my smart phone into my ear in the worn jeans, car, and parking lot, I talk freely about family, the cancer of a friend, his travel schedule, what Patrick wants for his birthday until they call him to board the plane. I'll talk to him again when there's time. Meanwhile he's living a good life and doing good things for others, and I'm living my life enjoying it to the hilt!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Been Ill

Normally, I am slightly suspect of people who are chronically ill. Those who simply always don't feel well; those who dwell entirely on the self as a virus abused individual; those who can't stop medicating; those who are ten years their own senior because they have been raked over the sick coals. You know the type.

As for me and my house - I'm never sick, and I think it has a lot to do with H2O, sleep, a fairly good diet and being active. Also, I think it has something to do with sleeping any rate, I'm rarely if ever sick...until last week. Somehow, I picked up a staph infection. I didn't even know what it was for a couple of days...then it invaded my person like a wildfire. Head, neck, ear, face, leg...I did the prescribed "MEC" gig, and they apparently put a band aid on a hemmorage.  By the time I got to my own doctor, she said, "Oh, my could have killed you" and treated me with a super antibiotic which she said would probably rip me apart. Well, it didn't. I engineered a ways and means of taking the drug so that it didn't bother me.

The wound drained for seven days. I was unsightly and stayed home. Actually aside from the day I went to MEC, I felt fine during the ordeal. So this was my maiden voyage in illness. Yes, in 60 plus years, I've had a couple of colds and I had the flu once for four hours, and I've had a few bronchitis experiences when my son brought home an atypical virus...but generally, I feel good, and I want to keep it that way.

My compassion level has risen for those who fight the chronic attacks of sinusitis, allergies, IBS, arthritis, and other body disturbances and malfunctions. I can't fathom what it must be like to struggle with this daily. It was bad enough for ten days...

What I can't understand, however, is how someone can "live sick" and not do something proactively to change their situation for the sake of feeling good! People who could make their situation better by changing diet, losing a little weight, getting more exercise, drinking water instead of soda, and getting to bed on time. These are simple enough to do, and if the alternative is chronic illness...good grief.

I love being might say I'm an advocate. Hope this speed bump doesn't indicate a future filled with obnoxious hurdles to be jumped every couple of months. That would truly be a nightmare. I like my freedom. I like being free of medications, free of body aches, pain, and that feeling that "I can't." Truly, I am very grateful for being free.

Now let's consider the's no different with children. Parents build children's bodies from the first moment of conception. What you give your child from conception to college is health through good habits and discipline. We've been talking about setting good examples at school, how that works, who should set examples, and how it's done. When parents offer great habits to their children, children benefit for the rest of their lives.

Here are the questions to ask about setting some basic health examples:

Is my child sleeping 10 hours at night?
What is my example for him or her? Am I up all night and then drag out of bed every morning?

Is my child drinking water during the day?
Am I drinking water in front of my child, or is my 1000 calorie latte or supersized soda providing my health example?

Is my child eating 1000 quality calories every day?
Am I weaseling out of my nutritional duty by stopping to pick up worthless calories for dinner too many times a week?

Is my child getting two hours of exercise every day?
Am I getting any exercise? What is my strength and vitality example for my child?

Is my child washing his hands EVERY time he comes indoors?
Am I?

It's a start.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday's Tattler...

This week...our book fair arrives. Parents and children will be able to view and shop for books this week. These are reasonably priced books and will make an excellent addition to your home library this year. Your children have learned so much this year, they are more than eager and able to do some reading for real. Please think of buying some books for your child this week.

Miss Judy is teaching reading now. Our main focus is on knowing letters, phonemes or sounds, vowels or air sounds from consonants or mouth sounds. We will be reading, recognizing words, reading books, making words, spelling words and having war games to see who is getting the most.

I need to know from the eleven children who have not turned in their summer forms. We need to know for field trips and swimming.

The weather this week will be beautiful. Please send children in light weight clothes they can really play in.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday's Plate...Cooking for a Crowd.

Just read a nice facebook post from a lovely friend who is grateful to her mom for teaching her to cook for lots of people cheaply. I herald this teaching because sooner or later, we will want to have a party and it's not cheap!

We cook for a crowd every day. Recently, Miss Molly and Miss Lisa have taken on the measure of lunch and have enjoyed doing all kinds of creative things with our food budget to the delight of the kids. It has been so successful, that we have empty plates at nearly every lunch.

At home a cook can make what she wants, but at school, we have "component" issues that have to be met. The USDA rule is two fruits and veggies at every meal along with protein and a bread product. We double much of what we are supposed to serve. This past weekend while shopping, I purchased forty pounds of fruit and veggies for the ladies to choose from to serve. I'm wondering if this will make even stronger meals. Hoping it will. Instead of reading and following a menu, Miss Lisa will be inventing from what is in the fridge. She will learn what spoils quickest, and what goes with what.

Miss Molly must choose her own entrees. As she makes the main course with Lisa's help, Lisa builds the fruit and veggie tray. The problem comes with budget and added extras. It all needs to be planned and executed without a million runs to the store. That's how you keep the budget down.

Taking advantage of the sales is always smart. Having a "general" idea of what the meals will be this week according to the ad that comes out mid week is an important part of making the budget go a little farther. Our budget is 31 cents a meal.

Making things stretch and still taste good depends a lot on creativity. Making something wonderful out of left overs and having the extras to do that helps. Three "free" meals from leftovers include egg rolls, quiche and soup. I can't imagine buying food to make any of those three things! When I make a quiche, whatever we've eaten during the week goes into the belly of the quiche. Egg rolls are chopped leftovers rolled in a shell and fried. Soup is anything at all put in a pot with a quart of strong chicken or beef bouillon.

Today I had two tiny pieces of left over chicken breast...I sliced them into fine strips and added some hard cheese and put that in the micro to melt the cheese. You wouldn't know that those sandwiches were made from less than two ounces of chicken.

The whole object of crowd pleasing and crowd feeding is to make it fun and have something most of your crowd wants to eat. With little kids, that often means finger foods. When most of what they are eating they can pick up like carrot sticks, apple slices, oranges rings, you can offer a little stranger variations like thin sliced turnips and dip. Turnips are cheap and they make a lot of chips. When the kids find out they are fun to eat, it allows the budget to stay firm and the eating to be plentiful.

Baking is a great way to keep a budget down. It would cost me $40.00 for muffins if I bought them, but I can bake them for as little as $1.00. Baking from scratch keeps a budget way down at home as well. It can all be freshly baked if you remember that batters hold for days. Making a dozen corn muffins on Monday will hold for two days, but the batter refrigerated will hold for a week. When it's time to start dinner, turn on the oven and make one muffin each. You can repeat this as often as muffins will go with your meal and each night they are fresh and warm and yummy!

It's the same with making cookies. Make one huge batter, roll the dough into tubes and freeze, and when you need a dessert, chop off as many cookies as you need just for the evening or afternoon. Always fresh, and not so many as to cause a weight gain....

The other side of the coin is not making the whole recipe at once. Tonight I'm trying a new leek, bacon, bread crumb casserole. It says use a pound of leeks...three halved...but that's too much food for Terry and me, so I will use half of that and make a much smaller amount. If we like it, I will do it again this week. Food waste is a real issue in today's home and in our American way of life. We must always be careful of wasting...we might want it tomorrow...

So I'll report back later about how this leek thing turned out...

Have a brilliant Sunday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teaching Again

So this week I've started teaching reading again. We have an excellent program for the very young child. Every child gets thirty minutes of reading, writing and arithmetic every day - Monday through Thursday. Our teachers each have a specialty: Miss Dayna is our arithmetic teacher; Miss Lisa is our handwriting teacher; and now, Miss Judy is our reading teacher.

So what does it mean to teach a three, four or five year old child how to read?

The first job of any reading teacher is to start at the beginning...a three year old child may not know that there are such things as letters or care.

You have to make "lettering" fun. So for a long time at the Garden School, we've developed very very short stories about each letter that really lets a young child wonder, think, laugh and enjoy that little squiggle on the page. Turn an A on it's side and you have an Airplane! a B looks like a Butterfly! Mr. C Clam lives under the sea...and so go the stories.

Many parents say, "My son knows all his letters."

And I always ask, "So if I show him a lower case q, he's going to know what it is?"

"Oh, no, I don't think so. But he can sing his Alphabet Song!"

Singing the Alphabet Song and recognizing all the letters are about as far from one another as having a dog and having a picture of a dog.

Getting three year olds to recognize letters is really far easier than most people imagine. Children are not visual learners...they are auditory learners becoming visual learners, so repeating something about four times usually teaches a child whatever you're trying to teach him. If you tell him about what he is's a bingo right away. So when you turn that A on it's side...few children won't remember. It probably takes a month to teach eager children the alphabet letters and another month to teach the sounds.

The big sellers of "age appropriate" nonsense always cringe when I talk about three year olds learning letters and making phonemes for fun. It's as if I ran over their dignity with a truck. The truth is that three year olds WANT to know, so why not teach them? If they don't remember; they're not ready. If they don't pay attention; their minds are still with the angels, so try again next month.

Interestingly enough, children who are potty trained at a decent age - 18-26 months - are actually more eager to learn letters than children who are left in infancy through the third and fourth year. And it makes sense when you think about it. Children who become independent, and there are three big childhood independences: potty training, reading and driving a car, are keen to forge out on their own little life paths more readily than the child whose independence is repressed in a diaper.

By age four, most of our students have learned all their upper and lower case letters and know what sounds, or phonemes, these letters make, and they are putting sounds together to make words. This is the bridge to reading.

By five, our kids are reading and finding their own books and exploring new words and how sentences are structured. It's fun to make up a story, and by five, the cognition is ripe for invention, story telling, story's called creative writing.

Teaching reading is a matter of consistency, repetition, and doing. New games and new activities stimulate the child towards bigger and wider goals. That's why I hate text books. Text books are a school aged diaper. They are repression in a stack of paper... I mean have you ever read a text book that is interesting? It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to come up with thirty minutes worth of reading work for a three, four or five year old child. It takes a sense of this then that then this then that kind of mind set.

I've written several little texts for kids using our own choice of words and kids eat them up. They are very time consuming to produce, but the product is fun and rewarding only because they are personalized and aimed at OUR children's lives.

And practice always makes perfect. Children need to practice something in their own space and time. It doesn't have to be a huge copy assignment or even take very long. Homework for a very young child should be more of an independent study...what can I do all by that I can proudly show my OWN work to my mom or dad.

I like to send a new book home every day so that their little homework bag is inviting and calls them to WANT to open it at home. Once they see the book and look at it even for a minute, might make them take out their little sentence building words long enough to play a "how can I make this sentence longer and longer" game. That might make them want to write down what they built with the word cards. Then they might want to illustrate the picture.

Reading is a process, and families who turn of the TV in order that a nice little period of work-study can be achieved at home are blessed and will encourage early readers to read all their lives. Children will not read into adulthood if adults in the home never pick up a book. So find a little space with a little space and do a quiet independent study...only has to take about fifteen minutes.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Monday's Tattler

It's Monday again...time to get back to work...only seven weeks till summer!

Some changes at the GS...Miss Judy will be taking the reading classes for the next seven weeks. It should be a lot of fun and we are going to do some different and new things. I'll be working very closely with Miss Lisa for some interesting projects!

Miss Amy will be taking the afternoon Science class with the Kindergarten. This should be a wonderful experience for the children.

We have a few summer spots to be filled. If you have not filled out a reservation form, it's time!

The weather is changing again...and this week we could see some cooler days. Please send your child with a jacket this week.

If you need to fill out a new information card, please ask for one. If your phone number has changed or if there are other changes you need to make to the emergency card, it's time to fill out a new one.

Tomorrow, April 9, is our school's birthday. It is sixteen years old. Miss Judy will also have a birthday tomorrow. I have asked for a new kitchen gadget called a "vitamix." Looking forward to playing with it!

Have a great week!