Help for Helping Your Kids With Math

There’s one blog I follow that stands out from others in its purpose, and for parents of elementary school children, it can make an important difference.

You’ll find creative ways to make learning about math FUN for you & your kids. Which isn’t always easy.

The blog is How I Help My Elementary School Children With Math, and the woman who writes it is pursuing her Master’s in Math Elementary Education. She knows what she’s talking about, and is passionate about it.

She also has two children, ages 4 and 7, so she’s got some practical experience in this as well. And she’s darn nice.

Math is important, and a lot of kids struggle with it. What’s more, many parents have difficulty helping them. This blog can help everyone find ways to look forward to learning about numbers.

As a child, I was lucky. My dad was a math major in college and he also was a good teacher. Yet even I had hard time learning the basics. So I appreciate any tools for this key subject.

Check this blog out. Check out a number (pun intended) of the posts. Let your friends with elementary school children know about it as well!

Math is Cool, and Math is Important!


Image credit: © Gstudio Group – Fotolia


It’s Late, and I’m Worried

I’m up late, way too late. I have to go to work early tomorrow…make that later this morning. But my mom is in the hospital 700 miles away with a blood clot in her lung, and I don’t know if she’s going to be okay.

jerry me beth julie morgan

My stepdad Jerry, me, my sister Beth, her friend Julie, Julie’s son Morgan. c 1987

Nearly 30 years ago my stepdad died after heart surgery when a blood clot traveled from his leg to his heart and stopped his heart in the middle of the night. I remember getting that call, making the call to his ex-wife so she could tell his children, my mom in shock, unable to talk to anybody. I remember Jerry’s niece Rita calling. She couldn’t talk, she could only cry. Rita lost her husband on their honeymoon later that summer, and she herself died only a few years after that.

Funny the thoughts that go through your head when you’re feeling helpless.

Will I be making the long drive to see my mom again, or will she be able to take care of herself? She should have been taking aspirin after her surgery. Aspirin is a blood thinner. I don’t know if she was.

She called the doctor’s office because of what she described as a “knot” in her back, and they told her to go to the emergency room. She called me and said, “well, I don’t have a ride.” I told her to call 911. She said “okay, but I have to get to the bank first. I have a ride to the bank.” I told her to promise me she’d call 911. She promised.

Fifteen minutes later she called me and said the ambulance was on the way.

mom thom

My mom and my brother in 1999

I called my brother. He’s taking over the phone calls in the morning. I’m grateful. I called him right after I talked to my mom, and we didn’t hear from her again for four hours.

He lives on yet another side of the country, so he can’t get there quickly either, plus he has a family.

I called him after my mom called me, and my niece, who’s 16, answered. I told her, “Grandma’s in the hospital,” and she gasped. I forgot, she’s just a kid. I quickly reassured her it was just for observation, downplayed any seriousness. My brother said she was okay. The kids lost their other grandma a few years ago and it was really hard for them. They don’t want to lose my mom, too.

Neither do I.


Here’s to All Things Cute

I apologize to the Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny. First time I saw a picture of him, I burst out laughing.

Then I just wanted to take him home. This is one of the darn cutest animals I’ve ever seen. I had to look him up since I’d never heard of a Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny, rather, rabbit, and it turns out Lionhead Rabbits are a relatively new breed. Understandably, given the natural draw to all things precociously cute, they’re very popular.

What is it about this little guy that just makes me want to hold him forever and ever? It was the same thing the first time I saw my cat Walter. He was the cutest ball of fluff ever to walk this earth. I wasn’t able to take him home at that time; he was my neighbors’ cat until they abandoned him. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Combine cute with cold and hungry and you’ve got a home.

Well, when I have one to offer.

I think it’s a redeeming quality in so many of us that we want to care for others, especially the forlorn. There are those who are drawn to homelier helpless animals because they have the added disadvantage of possible rejection for their looks. They actually look cute in their own sad way.

We don’t think of it as admirable, perhaps, because it’s natural. Turns out it’s more natural than some of us might realize: we’re what some call “hard-wired” to protect cute things, because they’re generally, by definition, young (did you know baby animals have proportionally bigger eyes?) and unable to care for themselves, and wouldn’t survive without us.

It’s understandable we’d want human babies to survive, or as a species we’d soon die out. But why would we care about bunnies?

elephant-55255_640Okay, pet owners could list dozens of reasons why, but the reality is, part of their survival depends on being…cute. Same for kittens and puppies and little bear cubs. Elephants, with their big ol’ ears and sweet soulful eyes, are endearing at any age, so we get angry when we hear they’re killed for their ivory. As we should.

I love that nature protects its own.*  Whether you believe its by design or evolution (or a complex combination of both), you have to appreciate such a vast system that cares for and perpetuates itself.

And creates new species, perhaps with a little assistance from mankind, like Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunnies.

*Of course we all need to do whatever we can to protect animals.

Photo Credit: (lop-eared lionhead bunny) © Viorel Sima — Bigstock

+ (c) kaalimies DollarPhotoClub

Our (less than) Perfect Stories

In one of my favorite episodes of the television classic, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” neighbors Millie & Jerry are puzzling over why Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) ruined their party.

“Sure they have their faults,” Millie says at one point. “Everybody does. People would be pretty dull without them.”

I like that thought. It’s forgiving and human. Yet it implies perfection of character is dull, and I challenge that. Of course to challenge it properly I’d have to define perfection and I’m not sure I can do that adequately.

I speak here of the everyday interactions of most people, not the extreme behavior of the handful who destroy without remorse. When it comes to truly evil behavior, I think we all can agree a little more perfection is desperately needed.

The devout will tell you perfection is our nature without sin, but when it comes right down to it, is sin black & white or does it come in shades of gray? Forget it, I’m not having that conversation.

To others being perfect means fitting a standard of beauty, intellect, achievement or the like, but that doesn’t address character. Something to consider if your definition includes being measured on a scale.

Still others will say being perfect is being complete, having the sum parts required for the whole. That’s a hard concept to grab hold of and make practical, and again, I’m not going there.

Here’s what this comes down to in day-to-day terms: Perfection seemingly wouldn’t create conflict, and conflict is needed for good storytelling. At their heart, most stories need to have a good guy and a bad guy. Some stories need a particularly fiendish bad guy.

We like our stories. It’s one way we know to distinguish and measure our lives against others. Therefore, we need our conflict, and in that way can grudgingly accept our imperfection.

How many of us have heard someone say, “I’d rather go to hell than to heaven; hell is going to be a lot more fun”?

I disagree. I don’t think perfection would be dull. I think it’s unknown.

All major religions seek God, seek perfection, yet at their heart recognize it won’t be found here on earth. So until we find that place where we are our perfect selves, I guess our faults are part of what make our story compelling.

This post is an updated version of a post originally published in May 2015.

Image credit: (dandelion) © kaalimies – DollarPhotoClub.com (background) © Amandee – Dreamstime.com

Outside Looking In

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

How many of us have sat silently at night, convinced we stand alone in the world in our oddness, and uncertain as to how to change? Fearing constant rejection throughout our lives?

Me at Four

Even at the age of four I felt like an outsider.

For years I lived my life that way, believing not only was I too far outside the norm to be accepted, but that I would never truly be loved, that I would be isolated from others all of my life.

I no longer feel that way, even though I know I stand alone in many ways. Well, perhaps not truly alone, there are others like me, but I’m not sure I know them. I’ve found a way to be myself in the world, and perhaps that makes me oblivious to the thoughts of others.

November 2014 family gathering 5x7

I’m doing better these days.

Well, truthfully, I have my moments, and in those times I wonder if I’m blind to my oddities the rest of the time. If that’s the case, there’s little I can do to change now. I am who I am and I don’t know any way to be any different.

I’m not ruled by those thoughts anymore. Perhaps I was overly sensitive to them before, and made things worse by behaving in a way that matched how I believed others saw me.

This is who I am.


Feeling Grown-Up Ain’t What It Used To Be

I’m feeling like a grown-up today, and I don’t like it.

My mom had hip surgery last week, and I went to stay with her during her recovery. That’s a much shorter period of time these days, in part, thankfully, because of advancements in procedure. The surgery went beautifully, and she’s experienced only a moderate amount of pain.

christmas c 1965

Not sure what was going on here, but it was clearly important.

Until now, the day after I had to leave. Actually,  I didn’t have to leave, I planned to stay a day or two (or three) longer. But the weather was worsening, Mom was worried, and  she insisted I leave. So I did.

She also confessed that as long as I was there, she’d depend on me, and she couldn’t do that any longer. So I made the long drive home, normally one I somewhat enjoy, feeling guilty, even knowing I did what she wanted.

Or said she wanted.

It leaves me to muddle through from my home 700 miles away. She’s my mom, and I could never do enough for her. Yet I’m being called on to be responsible for at least part of her care, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m muddling with the help of others, but putting those pieces together weighs on me. Do I move to be closer to her? It’s what she wants, but is it what I want? Is what I want important here? Would I regret not moving after she’s gone? I have to make adult decisions and it’s hard.

Me & Mom Jan 2004 cropped

About ten years ago, on my birthday

Should I have insisted I stay longer? At what point, as the daughter, do I call the shots? Aside from this surgery, my mom is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She’s proven that, time and again.

What decisions lay ahead? Will she be able to live on her own until she dies? Family history says yes, but that isn’t a true predictor of her situation.

How could I move her out of her home? I couldn’t.

I’m feeling like an adult, and I don’t like it.



happy new year!

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