Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cape Breton Place of the Week: Victoria Mines


Just across the water from Sydney Mines is the quaint little community of Victoria Mines. This weekend we took a trip out that way (it's a little trek, it would be great if we had a boat!). As with many of our trips, it started out with a search for a lighthouse that we saw in the distance. It took quite a while to find the right road but we finally made it. The kids were happy to get out of the car and Mike and Liam went off to explore the lighthouse while Morgaine and I looked at flowers and made the discovery of wild strawberries. We spent a couple of hours Saturday morning playing near the water and picking, and eating, berries. We also made the discovery of TON of cranberries growing so we will head pack to the area for more berry picking in the coming weeks.

Another view of the lighthouse, this time from a distance.


Iris (beautiful, aren't they?).




An Awesome Giveaway from The Old Schoolhouse

Picture 1Here's a wonderful opportunity for all you American homeschoolers out there (really, wishing I was among you right now!)

Be one of the first 5000 to purchase a two year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, or renew if you are a already a loyal reader, and receive 19 free gifts worth over 400 dollars. It is truly amazing. Click here to take a peak at all 19 gifts. You will be pleasantly surprised.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is full of wonderful information, encouragement and inspiration so is a great purchase anyways but with this giveaway summer has got all that more sweet.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just for fun

I was recently introduced to wordle.net. A cute little application that takes the most common words in a blog page (or text) and turns them into a cute little word bubble (with the most common words displayed in a larger font size). I figure that from time to time I'll stick in my website link and create a wordle to share here that will give people hoping on to my blog an idea of what might be found in the posts below. Mostly though, it is just fun to use so I'll add one here from time to time.

Here is my June wordle:

Picture 4

Lots of fun. Try it out for yourself here.

I've got myself a little "Grade 1" student

I've officially graduated Liam from Primary (Kindergarten). As I mentioned in my last post, Nova Scotia requires us to provide an idea of what was covered over the previous year. I just wrote of a short one page overview of the year and figured I would share it here as well.



I am writing to inform you that I have graduated my son, ...... (Liam) ...... from Primary into grade 1 this June. This is a summary of what we have been able to accomplish in the 2008-2009 school year using a modified plan for Sonlight Core K.


Liam is reading much above grade level, devouring chapter books on his own (his favorite at the moment being The Magic Tree House series, giving him an introduction to history while satisfying his desire to read. We have started spelling quizzes on common words (Dolch sight words amongst many more) with much success. Liam is beginning to print well (it was a struggle through the first half of the year). We have read many classics together including The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Family Under the Bridge, My Father's Dragon, A Grain of Rice and many more.


Some topics included the cavemen period, early Egyptians (extensively), Pompeii, the Medival period.

We moved from Quebec mid school year so we spent a lot time getting to know our area and the people working in the community. He has been introduces to NS history and is learning the provinces (from NL to Ontario).


We used Sonlight Core 1 Science program.

We learned about the solar system (supplimenting with George's Secret Key to the Univse by Stephen Hawkins), the water cycle/weather, our body/senses and good nutrition, and growing plants (by actually getting out there and getting dirty). We also studied more about volcanoes when we were learning about Pompeii.


Liam is doing double digit addition, simple subtraction, counting by 2, 3, 4, 5, 10s, has been introduced to fractions, time (to the half hour) and multiplication. Much is done in workbooks (which Liam very much enjoys) but we have started using Right Start Math Level A (a bit on the easy side for him but we are using it with his younger sister as well) and we will progress to Level B early in the next school year.


We have gone on several field trips (for example Louisbourg and nature parks). In addition Liam attends an “after school” program weekly at the local library and Sunday school at our church. We do unit studies on various other topics (holidays for example), which includes crafts, cooking, and other activities.


It's the first time I had to write anything up so I am not sure if this is what they wanted but it's what I plan to submit. I'll soon be posting a very brief plan for the new school year as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So Much More than a Planner


Product: 2009 Planner
Publisher: The Old Schoolhouse
Price: $39 US
Notes: Purchase 2009 Planner between now and July 12th and get the 2008 monthly modules for FREE (read on to learn more about this and other deals)

If you ever visited my house while I was living in suburban Montreal, or if you only know me through the carefully selected photography of my blog, you would be led to believe that I am a very organized person. I have to let you in on a little secret. I am NOT organized. I'm not even slightly organized. I go to all lengths to give off that appearance but it's not my natural state of being. If you opened my closets or looked in my drawers, you'd be surprised by the piles of filing, the little notes drawn on scraps of paper, the STUFF. I frequently find myself in tears because I can't find a phone number or I've misplaced an important document. Having moved to Nova Scotia where we can be asked to provide documentation about our school year and having new obligations on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I realized that I would need something to help me get a handle on the chaos. Thankfully, The Old Schoolhouse gave its Review Crew members the opportunity to try out their 2009 Planner. What a wonderful tool to help the new reviewers get their voyage off to a good start.

I was initially skeptical about the E-book format of this planner as I am very much a pen and paper type of girl, but when when the PDF file arrived in my e-mail account I was relieved. This Planner is MASSIVE and if it had arrived on my front door step in it's 374 page grandeur it likely would have ended up in the back on my closet (yes, as part of the chaos). As is, it is just too big for me, personally, to want to carry around. However, in PDF format I can print off just what I want/need. What's more, I can type all my information into the planner BEFORE I print it, eliminating all those quickly sprawled, untidy notes I write and then hide away because they just don't look good.

PlannerSpreadSchoolForms This Planner really has it all. With over 100 pages to help plan your school year, it is an organizer's dream come true. If you live in one of the provinces or states where detailed documentation of your school year is mandatory then this planner is a must have. It covers everything from setting short term goals to writing out a plan for the years to come. There are daily schedules and weekly schedules, forms for planning field trips and co-ops, as well as progress sheets, attendance sheets, and sheets for keeping track of all those crafts and activities that can be forgotten over the year, not to mention many more forms to make homeschooling (at least the planning) as hassle free as possible.

PlannerSpreadHomeFormsIn addition to helping you organize your school year, the Old Schoolhouse 2009 Planner is a valuable tool to help you organize your home as well. Being a homeschooling family with a more of a go with the flow approach to homeschooling, I personally will not be using the homeschooling forms so much this year. I will, however, be giving a lot of thought to how our household is arranged in terms of chores, plans for renovations (we are flipping a house while living in it), and our finances. If the household isn't running smoothly than it is hard to have a homeschool that is. I'm thankful for all the charts and forms provided in the 2009 Planner that will help me meet my goals and help us stay on track.

ALLModsNot only a great planning tool, the planner is also full of wonderful, and USEFUL, information. Each month includes a module containing information about a topic (be it weather, US government/history or mathematics among many others), links to futher information available at The Old Schoolhouse Store and recipes. While my initial thought was that this stuff doesn't belong in a planner, I've come to think of them as little extras that I can look to when I need some ideas. They aren't things that I need to print off and carry around with me. With the Planner in PDF form I only need to print off what I need in the moment and the rest can wait. If you are someone that likes unit studies you would likely appreciate these little tidbits. The Old Shoolhouse has a deal running until July 12th and if you buy the 2009 Planner for $39.00 between now and then you will get the 2008 monthly modules for FREE. If you really like unit studies, then the monthly modules for 2009 can be purchased along with the 2009 Planner for $99.99. While I did not get the opportunity to see the monthly modules for this year they sound wonderful with additional recipes, more in depth studies, and activities and games for the kids. What a nice treat to receive in your e-mail each month!

The 2009 Planner is something that we will definitely be used in our little homeschool this year. I'll no longer be looking for address/phone numbers thanks to the address book included. We will have an idea of what our goals are for the year and how to accomplish them (and within budget). I appreciate the PDF format that allows me to print just what I need. I have visions of a really organize year. We will see how it goes but with The Old Schoolhouse 2009 Planner I think we'll be off to a good start.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Loving-Sharing my Love of Herbs

I love herbs. I love herbs for cooking and I love herbs for healing. This is the first year that I've had anything more than a couple different herbs in pots. I am beginning to teach both kids about the different properties of the herbs an their uses (both culinary and medicinal). They love tasting, smelling and touching the different herbs we are growing. They can tell you that feverfew is a medicinal herb used for headaches and lavender will help you sleep. They like to go out and get the herbs that I'll be using for supper. I'm really loving it.




The same day we planted the herbs outside, Morgaine got scratched by one of our cats. Imagine that she is freaking out because it is stinging, jumping up and down holding her finger.

Morgaine: I need a bandaid! I need a bandaid!

Me: Oh, Morgaine, it isn't really bleeding. It just needs a little time.

Morgaine stops jumping and crying and goes to the front door. Perplexed, I follow her.

Me: Where are you going, Morgaine?

Morgaine: I'm going out to get some thyme.

So out she goes and grabs off a couple leaves of the thyme growing in the garden, eats them and then informs me that she is doing much better because she had some thyme.

I haven't corrected her on this because, well, it works. Who says thyme CAN'T be used for scrapes? If it works, it works right? Though, perhaps, I should let her know before she grows up and has kids of her own!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Place of the Week: Point Aconi

This week's place of the week is the panoramic Point Aconi.




Beautiful area. Loved the view. Was petrified of the cliffs. Just one of the many nice photograph opportunities in Cape Breton.

Lots of Stuff Coming, Folks

It'll be a busy few days on the blog...

My first official review will be posted;
I have an "I'm loving/Friday favorites" ready;
We got some amazing photographs of another stunning Cape Breton location;
I'll be posting about Right Start Math;

Our computer was being really, really finicky and it was making doing anything on it a complete and total chore (I was seriously spending more time rebooting the computer than working on it). Thankfully, that has all been resolved now, YES!!!

I'll likely post one entry per day each day this week.

Check back soon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

What we are up to....

Yes, another short one folks....

We are:

1. Studying aviation and making our own paper models (post to follow soon);
2. Loving Right Start Math;
3. Working on lots of renovation project....my one month challange has taken much longer than a month;
4. Digging gardens...yes, still;
5. Meeting new people every day;
6. Getting ready to review several homeschooling products (one review to come very soon);
7. Tweetering (Tweeting???) Umm, yeah, THAT....I'm Mama_Manuscript if you want to find me and hear random tidbits about my day....you'll also get to meet other homeschoolers and some awesome people so maybe it's worth it, who knows (I'm VERY Twitter resistant).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Place of the Week-Fortress of Loiusbourg

Time for a new feature on this blog. Since I am totally in love with my little island of Cape Breton, I thought it would be a nice idea to feature her on my blog weekly (at least over the summer months). Once a week, hopefully on Mondays, you'll be able to come on an adventure with me as we get to know this little place we call home. Sometimes we will travel far, and sometimes we'll take a trip in my own backyard. I am looking forward to sharing with you.

This weekend's visit was a real dream come true for me. I've wanted to go to the Fortress of Louisbourg for just about as long as I can remember. I've always felt that I was born in the wrong era so it was a real treat to step back in time. From the moment that you get off the bus you are treated like it is 1744. The people doing the reenactments at the fortress were really wonderful and shared a wealth of information about what it was like to live in Louisbourg at the time. They were great with the children and patient and were able to answer their questions while staying in character and in such a way that the kids could understand (the blacksmith was phenomenal).
Liam favorite part was talking to the lady at the tavern and learning about all the games the soldiers would play to pass the long winter months.

Of course the animals were a big hit with the kids and I loved looking at the different herbs that were growing in their gardens. We had a lovely period lunch as well and the kids were delighted with their "Pain Perdu" (French Toast). Visiting the fortress (which was a French settlement in 1744) also gave us the opportunity to pull out our French and reintroduce it to the children. We've even continued to speak it at home from time to time.


This lady was using a wonderful contraption to make a rotiserie chicken for Sunday dinner. It smelled absolutely divine. Liam announced that he was going wait right there until Sunday. He also had the chance to see how different dyes were made and when we got home we actually tested making yellow dye from onion peels.


This is the view of (a part of) Louisbourg from the fortifications around the governor's home.

The only thing that would would have changed about the trip is that we should have planned to make a full day out of it. We arrived in the early afternoon but there was no way that we could see it all in 4 hours with two kids. We managed to visit about 40 of the 60 different attractions but we did not visit as long as we would have liked and in the end we were rushing through things just to see as much as we could (leaving poor little Morgaine feeling a bit exhausted). Next time we will definitely pack a picnic and arrive early in the day giving us more time to visit at a slower pace.

I think that visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg was a wonderful opportunity to teach Canadian history. Having the kids step back in time and see first hand what it was like to live 1744 years ago was great and it was especially wonderful that everyone was so willing to talk to the kids at their level. I am sure that we will visit many time over the next few years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm loving- Rain


Morgaine, the Slave

The minister invited the children to the front of the church and asked them to tell her what they do to help...

Morgaine: I help my Mommy do the vacuuming. (she turns back to smile angelically at me).

Minister: That must make you feel really good.

Morgaine: Yes, then I am allowed to go play with my toys!

Umm, she's vacuumed a handful of times, always because she's asked me if she could do it, and playing certainly hasn't been conditional on her doing it! *lol*


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Morgaine Wanted a Change....

Hair today...


Gone tomorrow!

(BTW, the kid is thrilled and loves her new hair style. Mom and Dad are hoping it grows out soon....it's shorter than we thought it would be because someone (okay, I) used the wrong guide on the shaver.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What we are reading - June

Liam is reading:

The Magic Tree House series.

He is really loving these books. They bring history to life for him and he was so excited to see that there were stories about events we've studied this year (like Pompeii and the sinking of the Titanic). He has happily read (and reread) a number of these books this year. Right now he is reading The Carnival at Candlelight which is a Merlin Mission (as opposed to the original Magic Tree House books) novel which brings the characters into the world of mythology. The Magic Tree House Classroom Club also brings together numerous activites and ideas for each book and a guide for using the books to teach history. Combine with the Research Guides that are available, I believe that The Magic Tree House is a valuable addition to homeschooling. The fun thing for Liam is that it certainly does not feel like work!

Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein

We're all loving talking in Runny Babbit (Bunny Rabbit) language. This book is actually harder to read than one might think!


Morgaine is Loving:

The Skippyjon Jones series by Judith Byron Schachner. All I can say is I am so happy that they seem to come with CDs because the author does a much better job at reading them then I ever could.


I'm reading....

Hmm, what am I reading? Well, mostly I'm reading Canadian Living magazine. It's my little treat once a month to walk to the store and pick up the latest copy and then sneak a peak at it from time to time before finally getting a quiet evening when I can sit and devour it.

I'm looking for some good summer suggestions (for myself and the kids as well). What are you reading?

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm loving-Sense of Community


Living as an anglophone in a very francophone community in Quebec we didn't have much interaction with the neighbours and I always felt that the kids were missing out on the activities that the other families would do together in the evenings. It has been wonderful to have the kids take a few toys outside only to be quickly joined by the other children in the area. We can talk to people walking by and they love to talk. We have people stopping in all the time to talk about our garden or what projects we have planned for the house. I expect it to continue through the summer. It feels like we are actually making a little place for ourselves here on the island. The kids have little friends knocking on the door asking them to go out and play. I love it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Monkey pudding....err, bread.

I've talked about monkey bread on my blog (and facebook) a few times and have gotten curious questions about it each time. Basically monkey bread is as pull apart cinnamon bread dessert that is just divine. Rich, cinnamony, ooey- gooey goodness- what more could you want?

I had the most AMAZING monkey bread recipe but can no longer find it on the internet. As I promised the recipe, I decided to wing in on Wednesday and make up my own monkey bread recipe.

So here goes

1 cup whole wheat flour (just beacuse I am the Mommy and I can throw some health goodness into the most unhealthy treats)
2 cups white flour
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Wee tad of brown sugar


Mix these ingredients together with water (I added about a cup and a half) until you get a sticky wet dough (you want it to be significantly wetter than your standard bread dough).

Then melt 1/2 cup of butter

and make a cinnamon and sugar mixture to roll your bread balls in.

Make a small bread ball and send it swimming in the butter mixture (it is incredibly hard to take pictures of this recipe as it is so messy).


Fish out your bread balls and roll them into your sugar mixture and place into a baking pan (traditionally, one would use a bundt pan but I don't have one of those).


Continue until you have used all your dough and then throw the remaining butter and sugar over the bread.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.

Unfortunately, though, if you follow this recipe you will NOT end up with monkey bread! We pulled them out of the oven, anxious to get our fingers on them but were surprised to find that instead of monkey bread, we had something quite different. The kids declared it, not monkey bread, but monkey pudding and I totally agree.


It definitely had the consistancy of pudding chomeur (poor man's pudding) or Grand-pere au Sirop d'Erable (a real Quebec treat...maple syrup grandfathers *lol*) but with a definite cinnamon twist. Quite yummy, just the same.

If you want true monkey bread, though, I will have to direct you to my beloved Michael Smith of Chef at Home. Not the recipe I normally use but he is the man that started my love affair with Monkey Bread.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breastfeeding Protection Petition

Breastfeeding Protection Petition

As many of you know, I've breastfed my babies (and for a long time, at that). However, I was very lucky to not have any real difficulties when it came to breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many women are misinformed or don't have propper support and give up on breastfeeding very early, if they even decide to try. I think that it is important that women receive proper information, support and care during the early breastfeeding period but unfortunately in many places in Canada these services just aren't available. Please click the above Banner and sign the "Breastfeeding Protection Petition" that will be presented to Mr. Harper in an attempt to get better support for mothers across Canada.

What would you like to see here?

I would love to know what YOU would like to see on this blog. I am hoping to get more traffic through here. (and even get people leaving comments...imagine that!)

I miss posting recipes so I am thinking that it will be something that I will do weekly (starting with Monkey Bread, by request, today if we can get it made). So I was thinking something food related once a week.

I was thinking every couple weeks I could have a What We're Reading Now post (I miss having that widget). Sometimes with a review of the books (either from me or Liam) and sometimes just pictures.

I want to continue with my I Love/Friday Favorite posts.

There will be some reviewing coming up.

Is there anything else that you would like to see? Are there ways that I could improve the site? Are there things you don't like?

Leave me a comment and let me know!