Archive for December, 2017

A little over a year ago, I attended a dyslexia event in the Chicago area that had been organized by some friends and colleagues. I drove a 5-hour round trip from my central Illinois home, hopeful that I’d be able to contribute something meaningful, and/or that I’d be able to sell some LEX materials at the event.

I sold one lousy book.

But I met Cupcake’s Mama. A Mama at the end of her literacy rope, a Mama who, like me, had driven a couple hours to be at this dyslexia event, looking for some hope for her 2nd grader. Within a couple of week of that meeting, Mama and that second grader — Cupcake — began meeting with me on a pretty regular basis, to see what we could learn about the writing system by studying Cupcake’s spelling words each week.

We learned about the 4 questions. We studied the 3 suffixing patterns. We investigated zero allophones and etymological markers and relatives, twin bases and cognates. We unearthed phonics misapprehensions and discovered the elegant beauty of a <ugh>. We learned what drives the choice of a <wr> or a <kn> besides pronunciation. She blew my mind by recognizing words like diagnosis and thorough and spectacular. Bit by bit, Cupcake started to emerge from the shame and fear of dyslexia’s challenges.

Then she got sick.

Mama had noticed that Cupcake wasn’t really herself. She was irritable and easily fatigued, and soon the concerns became physical. She could hardly get in and out of bed or the bathtub. Her legs stopped working. A flurry of hospital visits, trips to Chicago, and meetings with specialists revealed a diagnosis of Juvenile Dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disorder in which one’s own immune system begins to attack skin and muscle cells. Over the subsequent months, Cupcake underwent blood transfusions and steroid treatments, a restricted diet and more meetings with specialists. She missed school and gave up her beloved Irish dance. She underwent tests and scans and needles that would traumatize most adults. The whole time her family supported her, with Mama at the helm, cooking special meals and snacks, traveling to Chicago for appointments, and handling the huge job of communicating on behalf of Cupcake.

Weeks went by and we didn’t meet. Sometimes there are things that are more important than word study.

In May, Cupcake and her friends, mostly newly-minted 3rd graders, held an art sale. The day’s rainy weather moved the sale into the garage, but they still held it. They had a goal of raising $1,000 toward JDM research. Well, we were all blown away when their art sale raised $7,500.

A bunch of kids, you guys. Seventy-five hundred dollars.

Cupcake continues to recover, and to get good news. The other day, her Mama posted what is perhaps the best evidence of Cupcake’s recovery: She’s back to Irish dance.

So, in her honor, I decided to get my act together and put out the calendar I’ve been working on for 2 years, in time for 2018, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Cure JM Foundation. She’s having a great 3rd grade year; let’s make it even better with a good size donation to Cure JM.

2018 Front Cover JDMJanuary

And, if you order by December 31st, you’ll also get a copy of Scott Mills’s bilingual Days of the Week posters for 50% their eventual retail price.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 4.17.19 PM
Don’t delay. The calendar is a perfect gift for teachers, scholars, word detectives, and anyone who makes good use of a year. Go order yours now.

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes.

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