Duck & Goose How Are You Feeling? by Tad Hills

I loved the Duck & Goose book about opposites so could hardly wait until this one came out.  I finally got my copy – opened it up – and thought…hmmmm  not what I expected.


The same great duck and goose images were there, but the one word descriptions of feelings didn’t seem to be adequate.  My daughter, however, loved the book.  Then I remembered why these books are so great.  Because someone HAS to read them to the kiddies.  And, hopefully that someone has a clue what the words mean – take “frustrated” for instance – and can talk about the picture, give examples, AND coach the kiddo in what to do when he/she is FRUSTRATED.

This book has given Jun words to many important feelings, and, as I said, I’ve given her some tools to deal with some of them.

For example – frustrated.  Our family takes a big breath and says, “Help me, Jesus!”  big breath, “Help me, Jesus!”  It is amazing how many more things Jun has persevered through using this breathing and praying, now that we have learned the word “frustrated.”

We have a song about being mad.  The book says “angry”, but both work for us.  We say, “count to 5!  1-2-3-4-5!”

The picture of one duck who took ALL the flowers and the others who were so sad and the selfish duck was all alone, and…well, it just naturally leads into a discussion about sharing.

So, this book gets a great grade from me – and Jun (3 1/4 yo)!


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Fat Cat on a Mat by Phil R. Cox

If you guessed straight off that THIS book was a phonics book – well, you’d be right.  I have raided my bookshelves at work for books for Jun to read, and there are, therefore, too many phonics books to count.  As Jun is not yet reading these books herself, I “get” to read them again and again.  Phonics books, for anyone who doesn’t know, are often very uninteresting.  The plots and conversations are quite limited to words that, for example in this book, have the short sound for the letter “a” in them.


So, in general, this book is your standard phonics book.  BUT it has a twist – or I wouldn’t bother to finally post about it here!  There is a nice moral in this simple story about a cat who, while escaping from a bee, knocks a birds nest off the branch of a tree.  She takes personal responsibility for her accidental action, and keeps the resident eggs warm, refusing to play with all the little animals that invite her, until they hatch!

I was so glad to find a phonics book that I could use to discuss “trying to make things right” after accidents with Jun.  I guess I’ll keep this phonics book around even after she’s done reading it herself!

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The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb

From the look of this blog, you’d think I hadn’t read a book in months.  Other than Toddler books, you would be mostly right!  However, when I was home in the US this summer, my Mom recommended this book, “The Last Time I Was Me.”  The title looked rather depressing.  Kind of like the story of someone having a nervous breakdown…and, what do you know?  It WAS!

However, it was much much more.  First, the majority of the story takes place in northern Oregon.  I am pretty critical of authors who write about Oregon because I “check to make sure they got it right.”  And Cathy Lamb does get it right.  So, the setting itself was nostalgic in many ways.

And the story was riveting.  I forsook parenting and sleep to FINISH the book before coming back to Japan (it was a library book, and Jun had Grammy and Grandpa to play with her!) 

I am attracted to novels that deal with emotional or psychological struggles in a healthy and mature way.  I learn so much more from the novel format than I ever do or will from a textbook.  That’s how my brain and heart work.

This is a great story of healing, new life, hope, true friendship and love.  Give it a read!

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30-31 out of 100 How About You???

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 books from this list. Copy the list into your own note. Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read. Delete ‘x’ from any you have not read. Post the number you have read in the note title.

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien   Tried and couldn’t finish.
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X .
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X
  6. The Bible X
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott X
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien Tried and couldn’t finish.
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
  18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  19. The Time Traveller’s Wife
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X
  22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald Tried and couldn’t finish.
  23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll  Tried and couldn’t finish.
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame X
  31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy X
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis X 
  34.  Emma – Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden X
  40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne X
  41. Animal Farm – George Orwell X
  42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
  45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery X
  47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding X
  50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel X
  52. Dune – Frank Herbert 
  53.  Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen X
  55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens 
  58.  Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
  60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck X
  62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt 
  64.  The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold 
  65.  Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas 
  66.  On The Road – Jack Kerouac
  67.  Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  68.  Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding 
  69.  Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville 
  71.  Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens X 
  72.  Dracula – Bram Stoker 
  73.  The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett Tried and couldn’t finish.
  74.  Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson 
  75.  Ulysses – James Joyce 
  76.  The Inferno – Dante
  77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  78.  Germinal – Emile Zola
  79.  Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  80.  Possession – AS Byatt 
  81.  A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens X 
  82.  Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 
  83.  The Color Purple – Alice Walker  Tried and couldn’t finish.
  84.  The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  85.  Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert 
  86.  A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  87.  Charlotte’s Web – EB White X
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch AlbomX
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-ExuperyX
  93.  The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down – Richard Adams X
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute X
  97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas X
  98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare X
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl X
  100.  Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X

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February 2009 Book Give Away!

Hi, everyone!  I’ve got another list of books to give away.  If you check out the December list, there are still some left that I will take to donate to the library next week, so you still have some time to grab them!

Just three requests:

  1. You like books!  HAHAHA!
  2. You live in Japan
  3. You don’t mind paying the shipping cost.  Usually 800-900 yen for a box of 5-6 books.  Probably less for fewer!


  1. The Black Mountain by Rex Stout (PB) Nero Wolf series.  Old copy.
  2. The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lilian Jackson Braun (PB)  ISBN 0-515-12739-6
  3. Dead Heatby Dick Francis (PB) (I paid $14 USD at the airport for this!!!!!!!!  CRAZY!)
  4. Crooked House by Agatha Christie (old PB)
  5. Lake Newsby Barbara Delinsky (PB) ISBN 0-671-03619-X
  6. Miss Bianca and the Bridesmaidby Margery Sharp (HB)  Old library copy
  7. The Case for Christby Lee Strobel (PB) ISBN 0-310-20930-7
  8. A Season for Simplicityby Donny Finley (Gift book in ENglish) ISBN 0-7369-0108-6
  9. Forgive and Forgetby Lewis B. Smedes (PB)
  10. The Comfort of Rest and Reassuranceby Roy Lessin (HB) ISBN 1-59310-653-X

Leave a comment if you would like any of these books.   You can send me your snail mail address at, for confidentiality!  Let your Expat/English reading friends know too, yeah?

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Sankaku Tanguramu Puzzle – KUMON

We got this puzzle as a present when Jun was 1 1/2.  It was beyond her and my abilities then, but, I found it before going home to the States for Christmas last year and took it along.  Junnie and Grammy and Grandpa ALL loved this puzzle.  Each of the adults tried to get it away from Jun so they could figure out the patterns on some of the harder ones.  Jun has even those nearly down pat now.

Basically, there are pictures with shapes cut out in them.  There are 8 triangle wooden blocks that fit in the shapes.  Some are very easy.  One triangle per puzzle.  Others are harder 7 or 8 triangles are needed to fill in the shape.  I noticed on, that KUMON has a few other puzzles too, like this. 

There is no need to understand a word of Japanese to use this puzzle with your child.  My Mom figured it out just fine! 

I never did well on spacial tests in school, so I hope this puzzle and ones like it will give Jun a leg up in this area.  Jun just enjoys the tickles she “earns” when she gets a puzzle right!


Filed under Children's

Leap’s Phonics Pond – Help requested

Jun got her very own computer (Leap’s Phonics Pond) for Christmas.  Grammy found it at a recycle shop and got it for a steal.  Of course, being the knowledgeable parents we are – or are not – we didn’t know exactly how much of a steal till I checked it out on Amazon.  Nice $50 price tag.

It teaches lower case letters, gives a quiz on those letters, teaches and tests on phonics, does some basic spelling and…the reason for this post – has a song or some kind of music assigned to each letter.  Well, my musical Junnie LOVES the music feature.  However, there are no words to the songs.  I have been trying to recognize the songs and remember/search for the lyrics so I can teach her the songs too.  So far I have come up with the following.  I hope it might be helpful to someone else too!  There are a few I can’t figure out.  If you can…PLEASE tell me!  THANKS!

a – Part one of the ABC song:  a-b-c-d-e-f-g

b – Billy Boy

c – Clementine

d – Do you Remember Sweet Betsy from Pike?

e – fun sound

f – Farmer in the Dell

g – Same sound/rhythm as “k”

h – Part two of the ABC song: h-i-j-k-l-m-n-o-p

i – I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

j – Jimmy Crack Corn

k – Same sound/rhythm as “g”

l – London Bridge

m – fun sound

n – Sounds like the tune of I’ll Fly Away.  Again  – should start with an “n”, though, shouldn’t it?

o – ?? but sounds like some song!?

p – Pop Goes the Weasel

q – Part three of the ABC song:  q-r-s-t-u-v

r – Row, Row Your Boat

s – She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

t – This Old Man

u – fun sound

v – fun sound

w – Part four of the ABC song: w-x-y-z, Now I know my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me!

x – fun sound

y – Yankee Doodle

z – fun sound

Any ideas on the question marks?


Filed under Children's, Electrical learning