Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hooked on Phonics Worked for Me!

It sounds so cheesy. It sounds like a lie, but Hooked on Phonics worked for me. Well, I already knew how to read, but Hooked on Phonics worked for my kids.

I was an early reader. I could read before I went to kindergarten and so could my brother. My husband read even earlier than I did. My mother has a masters degree in library science and used to be the adult literacy coordinator for an entire county. My father can speed read. My mother-in-law reads more than anyone else I have ever met. I love to read. Everyone I am related to loves to read. My husband can read and watch TV at the same time and process both the book and the show.

So I was feeling sort of like a failure when I was about to send my kids to school and they could read exactly three words: Ian, Claudia and cat.

My Dad taught them how to spell cat when they were three.

My kids are five. They know all of their letters and which sound each letter makes. They just weren't able to put all this knowledge together and, you know, read.

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked who wanted to review Hooked on Phonics I jumped at the chance. I've been looking at this product for a long time, but it isn't cheap.

They sent me a copy and we put in the introductory DVD. It was fine.

We did the first unit. It seemed to go well.

The next day we did the second unit and it was even better. Same with the third.

At the end of the third unit there was a little book to read. My kids were able to read it. Of course, it was called "Cat" and it was only eight pages long, but it boosted their confidence.

A lot.

They got really into the whole project and wanted to do "lessons" twice a day.

My kids can read now. I'm not kidding. I mean, they aren't reading James Joyce yet, they aren't even reading Stephenie Meyer yet, but they can read words. They can sound words out. Neither of them could do that three weeks ago.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about the Hooked on Phonics system works, but it does. It isn't even anything they didn't already know, but somehow it made reading click for my children.

I am beyond thrilled. I should have bought the "Learn to Read" box two years ago.



I received this product for free from the Parent Bloggers Network. These are my own personal words and opinions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sarah Reviews The Other Boleyn Girl

About a two years ago I read the novel "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I went out and read four more Gregory books.

About six months later I heard they were making a movie out of the novel. I was concerned about the casting of Eric Bana as Henry Tudor, but I was still excited to see it.

Then the movie was released and everyone said the movie was terrible.

I figured that they meant the acting was bad. I figured wrong.

The acting was fine. I even think Natalie Portman did a pretty good job. Bana was flat, as usual, but I nearly bought him as King Henry VIII.

What sucked was either the screenplay or the editing. I know my English history, I read the book, I watch The Tudors AND I STILL HAD TROUBLE FOLLOWING THE PLOT.

Really, they should have gone back to watch it just to make sure the film made sense. I'm pretty sure there were scenes left on the cutting room floor explaining what happened to Mary's first husband. Actually, I think a lot of the scenes were left out and instead they just left in a lot of wide shots of people walking down halls because the sets and costumes were far superior to any dialogue.

I give it two stars, but only because I liked the book.

ps - Scarlett Johansson sure is wearing a lot of makeup in the movie poster. I noticed specifically that they weren't wearing much makeup during the movie. I thought it was a good choice considering the era.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sarah Has Predictions About "The Blind Side" Movie

I absolutely adored the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis.

It was a non-fiction account of offensive lineman Michael Oher. He has an amazing story. He was poor, neglected and illiterate. Through an amazing twist of fate he was taken in by a wealthy Memphis family who discovered he was a football prodigy.

The book was well written and delved a lot into the philosophy of the game of football while telling the story of how Michael Oher ended up at Ole Miss.

So this morning I saw that they were making a movie out of the book.

With Sandra Bullock.

So, you want to know what I think, right?

I want to know how this story became about the Mom.

That being said, when I watched the trailer I cried like a baby. I don't know that this film will be representative of the spirit of the book, but it still looks pretty good.

It is an amazing story.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sarah Reviews: Rage Against the Meshugenah by Danny Evans

It starts like this:
My first therapist's name was Neil Diamond, but he didn't wear sequins, didn't bring me flowers, and most certainly did not turn on my heartlight...

I read a lot and not many books have me laughing out loud during the freaking prologue.*

The book is called Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts and it was written by one of my favorite writers, Danny Evans.


Yes, THAT Danny Evans. Dad Gone Mad, people. Another one of us bloggers has gone legit.

And Danny makes us look good.

The truth is that I have been a huge fan of his for a couple of years now and I would probably say nice things about his book even if it sucked, but I don't have to.

I was a little concerned that a book about clinical depression would be a real downer. There are certain topics that hit close to home and "Rage" hit on a couple of these for me. For example, besides just being sports fans and bloggers Danny and I have something else in common, we both lost any faith we had (and by faith I mean a belief system, like me in the corner, me in the spotlight kind of faith) after a miscarriage.

We also have this in common:
I don't like waking up. I like being awake, obviously, because that is when all the good sports are on TV. But the actual transition from sleep to alertness kind of bums me out.

See? I didn't have to worry about anything written by Danny being a drag, even if it was a memoir about depression.

There was one thing I should have been concerned about. I should have been worried about reading "Rage Against the Meshugenah" in public. You see, I read the end of the book on the train home from New York. Not to ruin the book for you, but the part where his daughter is born made me cry. Not just a few tears, but the kind of crying where your nose runs and all the people on the train look at you funny and your husband is embarrassed because it probably looks like he did something to make you cry like that.

I assure you (and my fellow train passengers) that it was not Gabe, but Mr. Evans that was making me cry like that and then four minutes later making me laugh just as hard as I had previously cried so that I looked like either an asshole or like I was having the worlds worst mood swings ever.

I am not going to tell you what made me laugh like that because I want you to read the book. I want you to buy the book. I ended up with two copies** of it and I am considering buying another one just because I feel like I should be doing more to contribute to Danny success.

He certainly deserves it.

Rage Against the Meshugenah goes on sale tomorrow (August 4th) and you should all read it because if you like what I write, you will love what Danny writes.

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