Friday, October 23, 2009

Cape Breton Place of the Week-Hank's Farm

As a family, we always try to reserve a special place to visit at least monthly, if not more frequently. When we lived in the Montreal area, we would visit The Ecomuseum regularly to walk and visit the animals. When we first arrived in Cape Breton, we'd spend hours driving around on the weekends looking for a special place we could walk or visit. It was always fun to see new places but we didn't find an area that was enjoyable for everyone (and the kids didn't always appreciate the long drives). On our quest to eat locally, we were introduced to Hank's Farm and it quickly became our weekly family destination. Only about 10 minutes from home, it is a wonderful place to start our weekends. We pick up our produce (at EXCELLENT prices) and then the kids get to play and Mike gets to visit the animals. Everyone wins!

Here are some pictures from our last visit (I know, I've been really bad about posting photos and just family updates recently).





Looking for our trip to the farm tomorrow. I'm not sure what we are going to do when it shuts down for the winter!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sarah's Wish by Jim Baumgardner

Picture 12 Product: Sarah's Wish
Company: Sarah Books
Price: $9.99US shipping included

As an avid reader of historical fiction, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read and review Sarah's Wish for TOS Homeschool Crew. Written by Jim Baumgardner (proud grandfather of 9 homeschooled grandchildren, by the way) Sarah's Wish takes you back in time to 19th century when slavery was still legal in many of the southern states of the USA. Young Sarah finds herself orphaned after her Mama is killed in an accident and as a result she must continue her Mama's quest to lead runaway slaves to freedom via the Underground Railway. Not knowing who to trust, Sarah must learn how to help those in need while at the same time cope with the loss of her mother. Through the book Sarah's faith is strong as she prays to God to grant her one special wish. However, by the end of the book she realizes that there are more important things than just this one wish.

This 126 page book was a delight to read and would be suitable for most children. I have not shared it with my children at this time as they are completely unaware of any of the hardships African Americans faced as slaves in America. While many slaves escaped to Canada, the history of the Underground Railroad is not a topic that is usually covered in Canadian social studies. However, in a couple years, I hope to cover some American history in our social studies unit and Sarah's Wish is a book that I look forward to sharing at that time. I have no doubt that the cast of characters and the vivid descriptions in this book with captivate them and keep them listening 'til the very last page. Learning opportunities are sprinkled as little extras through the book as Sarah learns from Granny, her guardian, about about herbs/medicine and goes on numerous outings with her (to the wheelwright, on a steamboat, for example). My children will surely gobble up these learning opportunities. Both of them are very much interested in herbalism and both have very much enjoyed the opportunities we've been given to explore history, via The Highland Village Museum and the Fortress Louisbourg here in Cape Breton. I am almost certain that they will share the same interest in American History. Jim Baumgardner's passion for history shines throughout his work and is very much contagious.

There are a few little extras worth mentioning as well. While this book is a delight to read aloud, there are instructions on how to download a free audio file of the book included at the end of the book. I have not listened to the whole audio file but the lady who does the reading is very good at what she does and really captures the feeling of the book. Jim Baumgardner also publishes an (about) monthly newsletter that is filed with little historical tidbits about the 19th century as well as sneak peaks of his other books Sarah's Promise, Sarah's Escape and a fourth book that is now in the works. To sign up visit his website here. On his website you will also be able to read excerpts from all three of his Sarah books, learn more about the Underground Railway, and even order an AUTOGRAPHED copy of any/all of the books. I invite you to check it out today!

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Monday Menu Plan-Oct 19th

Picture 11

I've decided to start with Saturday as that is when we do our shopping for the week...

Saturday: Mexican style tortillas with guacamole
Sunday: Vegetable Stir-fry (we ended up going out and I had pasta primavera and Mike and the kids had pizza)
Monday: Vegetable Stir-fry has been moved.
Tuesday: Lentil Dahl on rice
Wednesday: Chicken breast with carrots and potatoes
Thursday: Vegetable Potage (hopefully with homemade bread and butter)
Friday: Not sure yet but I am thinking leftovers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Belly Pictures - 14 weeks


14 Weeks...


The baby is moving around in there more and more!! FUN TIMES!!

I'm loving - Autumn Treasures Freebie from TOS

Picture 10I love autumn! (as you already know)

To celebrate this wonderful season The Old Schoolhouse is offering a FREE Autumn Treasures complete lapbook for you to enjoy with your children.

To get your copy, please follow this link.

The kids and I are hoping to complete this over the next week (or two) and to share here (because I have yet to share a lapbook on my site and they really can be a wonderful homeschooling tool!)

I hope you enjoy it!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

E-books Galore from Guardian Angel Publishing

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent 4 e-books published by Guardian Angel Publishing to Review. Guardian Angel Publishing publishes a variety of books for children ages 0-12 that are meant to be inspiring and informative. The books are available as e-books, printed books, or on CD.

Picture 1Andy and Spirit go to the Fair

This is the story of Andy, a boy confined to a wheelchair, who has the opportunity to compete in the county fair with his once wild albino horse, Spirit. Both Andy and Spirit face challenges when Spirit is taunted because he is albino. This heartwarming story of friendship and courage delights the senses. Having witnessed the benefits that children with challenges receive when they learn to ride horses, I was particularly touched by this story.

Picture 5Rainbow Sheep

The award winning story Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatal, is a whimsical story about a shepherdess, her herd of sheep and a sad little rainbow. By weaving a fantastical tale, Genevieve, brightens the rainbows day and ends up with a surprise of her own. The fiber art images included in this book are delightful. There is also a beginner's guide for needle felting if after reading the book and admiring the photos you would like to give it a try.

Picture 6 No Bones About It: The Sum of Our Parts Series This rhyming book strives to teach the bones of the body from the bottom up. The rhyming does not feel forced at all and the book includes lots of informative tidbits on bones. I think that both the poem and the factoids would be a welcomed addition to any study of the human body. However, I was disturbed by the artwork in this book (depicting the the bones of the human body with human attributes...some rather grotesque). To be honest, up until last week I was unable to open this e-book without dashing to the washroom (but I do believe that I'm not the best judge of this at the moment with pretty severe morning sickness). I do think that while some children would find the pictures AWESOME, there are others that would find them disturbing.

Picture 9Maybe We are Flamingos

This is a book about belonging to a family. Two young flamingos are confused when they realize that all the other flamingos in the flock are pink while they are not. This book is very reminiscent of The Ugly Duckling but in the end the flamingos learn that they turn pink at about a year of age because of the food they eat. They end up drawing humourous pictures of what they would look like if they ate different foods. A nice easy book for young children to enjoy.

I like the variety of books offered on the Guardian Angel Publishing website and at 5 dollars per e-book they are a great deal. I, however, am old-fashioned and prefer to have the paper version of books. At $10.95US plus shipping and handling for paperback versions of the books, I feel that they are rather expensive for my family. I will, however, visit their website from time to time to see what new books they are offering and I may from time to time order an e-book from them. To find out more about Guardian Angel Publishing and the books they offer please visit their website here. They also offer freebies so be sure to check their site from time to time for more goodies.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

New Feature: Menu Plan Mondays

Picture 4

I've decided to add a new feature to my blog since I am back to the kitchen and looking forward to trying to simplify my life for the upcoming arrival. I need to get a plan going so we aren't running back and forth to the store/market more than necessary (really, who wants to be out freezing their bottoms this winter when they could be warm and cozy in the house?). So yes, I am hoping (hoping) to plan out the weeks meals in advance so that we avoid needless travel this winter. I've tried this in the past but have never kept up with it for more than a couple weeks. We shall see what this brings. I hope from time to time to be able to link to my recipes or share them as well.

Here goes (winging it a little this week because we haven't been out to get food for the week):

Monday: French onion soup
Tuesday: Chick peas in rice
Wednesday: maple/pineapple ham with mashed potatoes and honey glazed carrots
Thursday: Sweet potato in some form (forgive me, I am winging it *lol*)
Friday: Homemade spagehtti/pasta in a vegetarian arrabiata sauce.

I will also post an update on the 100 (130) Mile diet this week. From the above menu it is obvious that we aren't following it as well as well could!

Bonnie Terry's Writer's Easy Reference Guide

Picture 1 Product: Writer's Easy Reference Guide
Bonnie Terry Learning

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was surprised when I was told that I would be receiving a Bonnie Terry product to review. As Bonny Terry Learning specializes in helping children that are struggling in particular areas (math, reading, writing, spelling) I couldn't see how her products would be a benefit to my son, who is actually advanced in most areas. A couple weeks later, I received Bonnie Terry's Writer's Easy Reference Guide. We haven't started a formal writing/grammar program with Liam, who is 6, so it is not something that I am readily able to use with him at the moment.

However, I do think that it is a worthwhile resource. I love how the compact 12 page guide is hole punched (with reinforced holes) and ready to place in your student's English/writing binder. While I believe that my son is too young to receive much benefit from this product, I think it would be suitable resource for a child who is learning how to write formal essays for the first time. In fact, there were times that I could have used this resource during my first year of college and had to keep looking up how to write a bibliography! According to Bonnie Terry's website, the reference guide includes "paragraph writing hints, essay writing hints, steps of the writing process, words to make your writing more interesting, common prefixes, suffixes and root words, grammatical and literary terms, how to write a bibliography." In addition it also includes a section on punctuation and capitalization rules (that I will be able to use with my son soon), a section on writing business letters, and a description of four of the basic essay types. This is a valuable tool for a student to use throughout the writing process. During brainstorming to get the main points of each paragraph down; during the writing and review process to make their sentences structure more interesting and varied, as well taking away the hassle of writing a proper bibliography at then end. If this guide is followed and used regularly, I feel that a student would gain confidence in their writing skills over time and no longer fear the dreaded essay.

For 17 dollars this is a reference guide that I would be happy to include in my middle school child's English binder at the beginning of the year. To find out more about this and other Bonnie Terry Learning products please visit her website here. To read reviews of this and other Bonnie Terry products be sure to check out The Homeschool Crew website.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm loving....


Produce fresh from our garden....


Apple treats made from fresh picked local apples...


Decorating in the colours of harvest time...


Knitting for little bums with Patons Classic Merino in "Harvest".


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nature Friend Magazine and Study Guide

Picture 4Product: Nature Friend Magazine and Study Guide
Company: Nature Friend
Price: 36.00$ US for 1 year US subscription (60.00$US with the study guide)/ 49.00$US for 1 year Canadian subscription (73.00$US with the study guide)

As part of TOS Review Crew, I received the August and September 2009 issues (including the studies guides that are available at an additional charge to subscribers) of Nature Friend magazine. This Christian based science/nature magazine is geared towards both the young and old with articles, stories, activities and photographs that are sure to catch any nature lovers attention. Having been published for over 25 years, Nature Studies is dedicated to sharing the wonders of God's Creation with the whole family. As soon as it arrived at our door, the magazine disappeared. It caught my son's attention immediately and he disappeared for 45 minutes. Finally, I went off to explore and found my 6 year old in his room devouring an article on the cicada.

"Hey, Mom," he said, "this is the coolest insect EVER!"

Several times over the next few weeks I was met with enthusiastic statements from my son as he read other articles in his Nature Friend magazine. When things got quiet in the house, usually a sign of mischief making, I was often surprised to find Liam looking for words in the word searches or the hidden images peppered throughout the magazine. My son read the magazine from cover to cover and then back again. He especially loved the activities included in the study guide (and didn't believe me when I said that they were there to help him see how much he'd learned from the magazine).

As a parent, I appreciated that the articles were easy to read without being dumbed down. The physical quality of the magazine is also really good, with the pages being able to withstand repeated turning and less than gentle flipping from two, sometimes over eager, children. The quality of the photography is also really superior and captures the splendor of this world we've been given. As an aspiring photographer, I really enjoyed the photo critique section that is included in the study guide as well.

I believe that this magazine would be a nice addition to any Christian family's science curriculum. For those that are hoping to avoid the topic of evolution and the question "what do they mean by millions of years ago?" this is a good resource. However, I would not particularly recommend it for families that do not believe in God's Creation theory. There are other magazines out there that would likely cater better to your families needs. The articles are indeed very informative and most can stand alone without mention of creation but the overall feel of the magazine is Christian and may be uncomfortable for some more secular readers.

As a Canadian, I would have a hard time justifying the 73.00$US subscription (including the study guide) but that is likely because I am not specifically looking for Christian content when selecting a science curriculum (we've decided to present both theories to our children and have them decide for themselves which they believe). I find that the American cost is more reasonable at 3 dollars an issue. For 2 dollars an issue, the additional study guide is nice to have but not necessary. There are activities (crosswords, word searches, and a "You can draw..." secotion) in the magazine. Both my son and I enjoyed the extras that the 2 dollars provided but still would have gained a lot from the magazine without it.

To summarize, I believe that this is one of the only creation based science magazines out there currently, and with 25 plus years of dedication to their beliefs, I think that Nature Friend magazine is a magazine that is worthy of a place in a Christian homeschool science curriculum.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Review Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Belly Pictures-I think I'm shrinking


9 and a bit weeks


10 and a bit weeks


Almost 12 weeks

Still battling all day sickness (and really, REALLY hope that this is the peak because I feel NASTY). We did get to see the little bean on u/s and they confirmed a mid April(ish) due date. (So yes, those of you that we've sworn to secrecy (AKA Grandma and Grandpa) you can tell the family now (and I'll send the u/s pic if you can send me an e-mail...I don't know what happened to your e-mail address)).

I'll only be updating the blog with belly pictures every 2 or 3 weeks (but I will take them weekly and post all 3). I frankly got tired of seeing my belly on facebook (my blog posts link automatically).

That's about it for now!