Saturday, November 28, 2009

Amanda is TWO!

Earlier this year I introduced you to my dear dear friends' baby who was born with Tisomy 18. I am please to announce that just a couple of weeks ago she celebrated her second birthday and continues to do well and bring many blessings to all those that know her. Her father and mother sent me an update on how she was doing, that I am happy to share with your all here. To read it, please follow this link.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I really sorry that this blog

seems to have become a review site only....that certainly was not my intention when I started it 2 years ago. Now, I do love reviewing and feel blessed with the opportunity but I miss sharing a little bit of our daily lives with you (not that there's much to share but I know that there are some family members that miss the updates on the kids and stuff.

I hope that I can get back into a more balanced place on the blog....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Advent is Just Around the Corner

This year has certainly flown by for us. Christmas is just around the corner but before we celebrate Christmas we must also celebrate Advent. Growing up, Advent wasn't really celebrated in my family, though we did attend Church. For a couple years, I attended Our Saviour King Academy in Newfoundland and the emphasis put on Advent was really refreshing. At least weekly (if not daily) all the elementary school would get together and light the advent candles and there would be scripture reading. I also knew a few families that would partake in the tradition as a family (that I got to partake in from time to time). I really enjoyed it. However, as the years went by Christmas got more and more commercial for our family and I have never been very much into the hustle and bustle of shopping and Santa. Now for the first time, Mike and I will be away from our families for the holidays and I am hoping to bring in some of our own traditions (okay, the tradition I would like to start) to the season.

This year, starting on Sunday, the 29th of November, we will be starting a study of advent that you can find here. We may not actually do the lighting of the candles but I hope to do the reading, scriptures with the children. I feel that it is important that they know more about the coming of Jesus. We have read about it before but I think it is time to go just a little bit deeper and I think that my son, who yes, still loves the Bible will especially enjoy this exploration!

Feel free to join us if you will.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AVKO Membership

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I have been privileged with a year long membership to AVKO. When I first went to their website I couldn't figure out for the life of me what it was all about. There was just so much information that I had a hard time processing it all. AVKO's "mission is to provide free and low-cost resources to school and home educators in order to achieve literacy for all, even despite learning challenges or dyslexia." AVKO, which stands for audio, visual, kinesthetic, oral, was founded by Don McCabe who is the developer of the Sequential Spelling program that you may have heard of as a home educator. The program focuses on teaching a child to spelling using all four means (hearing, seeing, writing, saying) with daily practice and exercises. As we are not using this spelling program I was unsure of what, if anything a membership to this website would offer me. I was happy to see that the site definitely had stuff to offer those who are not using their spelling program.

Here's some of the good stuff waiting for you with a 25 dollar yearly membership:

• Discounts on AVKO printed materials
• Hundreds of dollars worth of FREE e-books (PDF format)
• Access to the Member Only section
• AVKO Newsletter with freebies, discounts, resources, and promotions
• Access to Don McCabe's most popular workshop recordings in MP3 format.
• Supplemental Curriculum Materials including word games, worksheets, activities, and more!

Included in the free e-books is To Teach a Dyslexic, and while my reader/speller does not have this challenge I found this book to be quite inspiring and informative. I'd pay the 25 dollar membership for just this book! The Teaching of Reading & Spelling: A Continuum from Kindergarten through College. was also quite informative for both teachers of dyslexic and not dyslexic students. I would recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book. I appreciate that AVKO's material seems to embrace fun and humour as well as being informative. There are a few instances in the children's material that the humour is a bit inappropriate so I would recommend prereading the sheets that you choose to give your students.

I think that a membership to AVKO would be a very good investment for families struggling to teach a child with dyslexia (or any other child that is having difficulty grasping reading and spelling). It's also great for people that are using their Squential Spelling program already. At 25 dollars for a year membership, I feel that it might be a worth while investment even if you do not necessarily have a struggling reader. The material is interesting and if you take the time to really get to know the website (not always easy at first) you will likely come across some real gems.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Resource from The American Heritage Education Foundation

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I wasn't expecting to get to review FREE material as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew but about a month ago, I received a CD from The American Heritage Foundation. The CD contains information on four themes prevalent in American history that the American Heritage Education Foundation feel are missing in a child's education today-freedom, unity, progress and responsibility. The information is available in three different levels from K-12 as well as also having the elementary level also available in Spanish. The material can be downloaded directly from their website or they will ship a CD with the material to you for FREE.

As a Canadian, I have not taught American history/citizenship to my children, nor do I know all that much about it. I enjoyed reading through the information, though I found that it would be a little be dry for younger children, like my own. The activities seemed to be better suited to a classroom but many could adapted to fit into a homeschool environment without too much effort. There are a few, though, that require a large group of students so would be impossible to do (unless of course you wanted to do them as part of a homeschooling co-op). Included is a wide variety of activities that nicely cover the 4 themes that they set out to explore (each section lets you know at the beginning which theme(s) will be covered. It would be too difficult to cover the different themes together as a family even with children from a variety of age ranges.

While the material would be considered a little dry for my homeschool, it is FREE so I would totally recommend that my American readers go to The American Heritage Educational Foundation and get a copy. I feel that themes are important to touch on and the information is valuable and if used in conjunction with other activities would provide quite valuable to any homeschool (and public school, for that matter).

Menu Planning Monday-November 9

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Saturday: Chinese food
Sunday: Jigg's Dinner
Monday: Hopefully Mike will get home in time to make his incredible shrimp pasta (I will post pictures and the recipe later this week if he does)
Tuesday: Crockpot ham with rice and carrots
Wednesday: Lentil Dahl (I'm too distracted on Tuesdays to make it and have burnt it the last two times *lol*)
Thursday: Minestrone with homemade bread
Friday: Cod fishcakes (sorry, the older pictures from my old blog site do not work over here)

Friday, November 6, 2009

I think I might be NUTS!

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Well, through my circle of homeschooling friends I've finally heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). As an aspiring writer, one might have thought I'd have heard of this sooner. No, not I. I've been blissfully unaware of anything that could actually challenge me to get out there and write. However, once I did find about about this annual challenge to write a 50 000 word novel in one month, I couldn't get it out of my head (I almost wrote bed, and no, I couldn't get it out of my bed either). I crawled under the covers on Wednesday night expecting to fall into a deep sleep (it has been a long couple days with a sickie daughter) but instead I started writing a novel and finally at 4:30, I got up and made my way to the computer to sign up for the challenge. I do think that I have completely lost it. How is a homeschooling Mom of two (who barely has time to keep up with her blog) ever going to find the time to write a book? My only answer, I have NO IDEA!!

The book was forming in my head so easily as I lay there in bed on Wednesday, but in typical Katrina style as soon, as soon as I sat at the computer the words just flew out of my head and out the door, instead of onto the screen. I need to write 2000 words a day to reach my goal and when I look at it that way it seems totally possible, however, when I think about the whole project I have no idea how it will ever get done. Maybe I have a good idea for a short story, maybe even a tad longer, but 50 000 words. I'm such a perfectionist that I'll write a sentence 5 different ways before I choose the one I like. The goal of NaNoWriMo though is to write, not to write perfectly; to get the ideas out there and let the story form (LEAVE EDITING TIL DECEMBER!!!). I'm up for the challenge!!! I've written novellas (yes, we shall call this a novella) before so really, it is possible.

I've written 1273 words so far. Only 48727 left to go!!!

Find out more about National Novel Writing Month here.

(BTW, this blog post is 383 words *lol*)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Belly Pictures - 16 and a half weeks



There's not a lot new to report on the pregnancy front. Everything seems to be going well. I can officially say that the morning sickness seems to be a thing of the past (as well as the constant need to snack). While I was sure I was feeling the baby a couple weeks ago I haven't felt much of anything since. I am anxious for the real little kicks to start. Wee baby rolling and gas are just too similar. I'm feeling good but you don't want to catch me on a day when I haven't gotten enough sleep. IRRITABLE I TELL YOU!! Luckily the kids (and Mike) have been letting me sleep in most mornings. I really have to be better at getting to bed early so maybe I'll set that as a goal for the coming weeks. I have a doctor's appointment next week and then the 20 week u/s a couple weeks after that. The pregnancy is flying and before you know it I'll be half way there!

Monday, November 2, 2009


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Product: abcteach membership
Price: 40$US/year

If you are a homeschooler, and enjoy using worksheets in your homeschool, you've likely come across abcteach in your online searches for material. If you go to google, type in a subject (let's say "fall") and the word "worksheet", it is likely that one of the top results (4th in this case) will be from abcteach. The website offers 5000+ FREE printable worksheets and activities geared towards preschool to upper elementary students. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free month long membership to the website, which gave me access to 35 000 additional worksheets and activities!

I will admit, that I often consider worksheets to be busy work, and do not often use them. I prefer to read with my children, discuss topics and do hands on activities. However, there are times when busy work can come in handy and I was surprised to see how many worksheets that were available to supplement the work we were already doing. For example, when we received the membership we were just finishing up Charlotte's Web. I was able to print up a word scramble, writing prompts and a crossword puzzle for Liam based on the book (which was nice quiet work he was able to do at the library waiting for his sister's preschool to finish). Liam had also finished reading Dingos at Dinnertime (a Magic Tree House book) and we were able to find a guide for that book as well as lots of information on Australia. We printed tangrams for math and also sat together and did some word problems/questionnaires without having to print off the material. In addition to math and reading, there are numerous worksheets for printing, science, arts and crafts activities, and unit studies. Having a paid membership at allows you to make a variety of custom worksheets. You can use your own word lists to make word searches, crossword puzzles, and other spelling games. You can make sheets for copy work and math worksheets. These tools are easy to use and save time if you like to make your own worksheets.

The year membership costs 40$US/year and allows you access to all 35, 000+ worksheets and activities, as well as the custom worksheet option. There are new things being added to the site on a weekly basis. If you look around online you can sometimes find co-ops that allow you to get additional savings on a membership to this website. If your children enjoy using worksheets then I think that this may be a good website to explore. I would also recommend it to elementary school teachers (and it fact, when I was first looking at the site, felt it would be more appropriate to a teacher that was teaching numerous students at once as opposed to a homeschooling family). While the site is recommended for students from preschool to upper elementary, I found that most of the material is geared toward a younger audience so I would not buy a membership if I had children in the upper age range. In general, I would recommend this site for families with younger children that enjoy using worksheets to supplement learning, however, it is not a site that I would use regularly in my homeschool.

I couldn't help it...

A couple days ago, Morgaine decided to throw one of her awesome temper tantrums because I wouldn't give her what she wanted to eat. Lots of tears, very dramatic, some hurtful words. I bent down in front of her to make eye contact and attempt to explain that supper was coming so she would have to wait. I took one look in her eyes and I couldn't help it, I broke out laughing....


She looked so cute with the "hair" and the big tears. Well, I broke out laughing and she started laughing and we took a picture and her hunger was forgotten.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Virginia Soaps and Scents

GEDC0053Product: Sample soap kit and laundry soap starter kit
Company: Virginia Soaps and Scents
Price: Various prices (check website for details)

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was excited (and somewhat surprised) to receive a delightful little package from Virginia Soaps and Scents. As someone who likes to play around making my own lotions and potions, I was inspired by the Spargur family who took a homeschooling history lesson and turned it into a work at home opportunity. Virginia Soaps and Scents have created a variety of handmade soaps, lotions, linen sprays and more. As a member of the TOS Homechool Crew, I received 3 sample size soap bars (fresh orange, coconut lemongrass, and oatmeal, milk and honey), one sample shampoo bar, and a starter laundry soap kit to try with my family.

Homemade Soap Bars

My whole family enjoyed these soap bars. Containing quality oils, these soaps felt really rich as we washed but did not leave behind a greasy feeling residue. I had been experiencing dry skin as a result of pregnancy and as soon as I started using these soaps the problem went away. My husband and I loved the fact that these soaps did not melt away in the shower like other natural soaps we have used. In fact, in the month we were using the soaps we only needed about one and a half sample bars (1.75 oz each) for our family of 4. Their standard bar size is 4.5 oz for 4.50$US, so definitely a good value for the price. It's also worth mentioning that Virginia Soap and Scents also makes gourmet soaps that are absolutely beautiful. They have also started selling sampler kits and gift packages that will likely be on my list of stocking stuffers this year.

Shampoo Bar

My son, Liam, and I enjoyed using the soap bar (my husband is set in his ways and my daughter does not have enough hair for me to say whether it worked well for her or not). The first time I used the soap bar it was an experience. My hair felt really, really tangly and my head was pretty itchy. I was not sure that I would want to continue with it. I did, however, and by the third washing or so, some beautiful hair started to emerge. My very frizzy hair was not longer flying all over the place and it was quite wavy. The best thing of all, though, was when I was brushing my son's hair after the first time he used it and he said "hey, Mom, you aren't pulling my hair." His hair that is usually quite tangled was easy to brush for the first time since he's been a baby. I had to say that me head still itches when I use this product, but I don't have any dandruff and neither my son or my husband (who I convinced to try the soap once so he could tell me if it made his scalp itch) have had this problem. I would still continue to use this product despite the fact.

Laundry Soap Kit

I enjoyed using the laundry soap kit to make our own homemade laundry soap. The instructions were easy to follow and the final result turned out looking like laundry soap, thick laundry soap, but laundry soap just the same. It seemed to clean the clothes well and I liked the fact that there were no harsh chemicals/detergents in the product. The mixture ends up quite thick so I would recommend not pouring it directly into the washing machine as it could easily all come out in a big glob. I know that some members of the Crew used a measuring cup to scoop out what they needed. I found that if I shook it well before using then it wass easy to pour. I will likely try to make our own laundry soap from now on as a result of trying this product. As I like to have a bit of a scented laundry detergent I would likely add a couple drops of essential oil to the mixture once it has cooled.

I was very happy with the products that I received from Virginia Soaps and Scents and I invite you to visit their website to view all their products and learn more about the pricing. I do believe that their products are competitively priced and I would not hesitate to buy from them. It's nice to be able to support another homeschooling family with a product that I truly believe in.

***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.