Friday, February 26, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-February 26th

Hello there, fellow Fit Mamas!!

I am happy to say that this week was MUCH better than the previous week. I do want to clarify, though, that when I was complaining about my diet last week it was purely from a nutritional perspective because I got several messages telling me not to worry about the calorie content of the food I was eating and to enjoy. Honestly, I likely was NOT getting ENOUGH calories and the ones I was getting were unhealthy so that is where my concern lay. I usually eat pretty healthfully so the indulgence in junk without much of anything healthy to balance things out was my concern. I have no worries in terms of calories in the least, my goal is to eat eat HEALTHY and get some exercise and I have no concerns about weight in the least.

So, as I was saying, this week was better than the last. There was a 20% off sale on fresh produce at our grocery store last week so I managed to get a lot of fruit and vegetables. I ate a whole wheat pita/tortilla (or two) every lunch hour stuff with salad, cheese, roasted vegetables, meat (sometimes), and my spicy sour cream. I had fruit for breakfast each day and nuts to snack on throughout the day. There was also lots of veggies left for supper time as well. I did not indulge a lot in extras, though, I have been enjoying a chocolate or two from the box Mike brought home for us on Wednesday. Yummy. We've already purchased our groceries for the week so I'll likely do something similar next week with a nice soup or two thrown in as well. I would like to get back to drinking just a tad more water a day, too, so that's something I'll need to keep in mind. I think I'll fill up some jars and put them in the fridge so I see them when I open the door up.

I also did pretty well in the exercise department this week. We spent a fair amount of time at the library this week so I walked there and back frequently and we took the kids out to the park this afternoon. I feel pretty good with the amount of exercise I am doing. I'd like to do a bit more but baby is making it more uncomfortable. He was transverse (sideways) for the better part of the week, lessening my aches and pains and giving me some room to breathe but he is flipped again (HOORAY!!!!) now making things a little bit harder. I'll try to get in one walk this week by myself to just enjoy a little bit of quiet as that can sometimes be quite refreshing.

I'm wishing all my other Mama friends a wonderful and healthy week!! To see how they are all doing be sure to check out Got Chai?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beehive Reader 1

Product: Beehive Reader 1
Company: All About Spelling
Price: $19.95US

Earlier this school year, I had the opportunity to review All About Spelling (see my review). In January, I was delighted to come home from a family vacation to find a beautiful hard-covered book waiting in my mail box from All About Spelling. Their new Beehive Reader 1 was created to compliment the first level of the company's spelling program but is a lovely addition to any reading/phonics/spelling program. This isn't your typical reader with babyish and disjointed stories (Cat has a hat. Cat on a mat. Hat on a mat........zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........boring). The dedication of this book reads:

To the reader-may you find yourself among friends.

That is exactly what happened when my children opened this book. My son, Liam, is reading MUCH above the reading level of this book but he really enjoyed the 10 stories included in the book and delighted in reading them over and over again to his little sister. Little sister, Morgaine, fell asleep night after night with the book in her bed because she loved looking at the beautiful artwork that makes this reader extra special. I am convinced that this will be a book that will be treasured in our house for years to come!

I think that the exceptional pencil drawn images and the fact that the book just seems so much more special being in durable hardcover makes this book worth the $19.95US price tag. The stories are captivating and the characters easy to relate to. It's just a really fun book to read. Yes, it is more expensive than some early readers out there but when you factor in quality and the fact that the book contains 10 stories then it really is a reasonable price if other readers you have tried are causing you to doze off!! Either with or without the complete All About Spelling program this book is delightful. Be sure to check out the sample pages of this book. I think you will be impressed!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

As we haven't kept up with Liam's Blog I've decided to let Liam "guest" blog on my website. He still loves lego and wanted to tell you about his creations! I oversaw his spelling when he was writing too quickly but didn't really have him fix a lot so you could see how his spelling is improving (funny, how he can spell the bigger words no problem but has trouble with some smaller words). Enjoy!


Hi, I am Liam. I've got lots of legos and lots of creations too.

My sisters name is Morgaine and shes waring her blue dress.

Some of my creations are a town, a speed car, a skiing flying car, even a realy funny thing I have no idea what to call, a plane that only fits 2 pepole (with 2 or 3 k'nex peices), a floting truck with 4 homing missiles.

I hope you like the picthures.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What is that, Stuff.....Well....

A lot of you mentioned that it was some kind of yeasty substance and well, yes, it is but it is so much more than that! It's a pregnant women's dream come true! 5 minute bread that you don't even have to knead! Take some water and add a little salt, sugar and yeast. Stir in flour until the mixture gets somewhat stiff and that's about it. Let it rise for a couple hours and then you can store it in your fridge for a couple weeks (or use immediately) and then just saw off a hunk of it whenever you have a craving for homemade bread. Flour the dough lightly and toss it in the oven and that's it (it's a tad wet, okay sometimes quite wet, and a different texture then what you'd be used to from traditional bread but it cooks up just as nicely). If you are feeling creative them you can indeed add whatever you would like to the mix as well and make all sorts of shapes of loaves (I do knead the bread a small (really small) bit to incorporate whatever I want to add just before I toss it in the oven). So simple and such a relief as a couple weeks ago I was thinking I might have to give up homemade bread because working to knead the bread was making me feel light headed and short of breath!

Here are this week's creations...

Focaccia, cinnamon buns, maple flax breakfast bread and a loaf of white bread all from that goop in a big ol' pot!

Even More Math-A Math Mammoth Review

Product: Math Mammoth Light Blue Series Grade 2 Complete Curriculum (249 lesson pages)
Company: Math Mammoth
Price: $29.70US (various other programs available)

Last year, my two brave little cavemen captured a woolly mammoth not knowing that mammoths had anything to do with math. Well, I just have to say that we've been introduced to Mammoth Math and while the mammoth's involvement is still a mystery we could not be happier with the program. As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew we were able to choose pretty much anything from the Math Mammoth website to review and with Liam's help we decided on the complete grade two curriculum (we could have received worksheets with, or without, explainations, on a specific topic instead). This workbook is broken down into chapters and covers a variety of topics:

  • Addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing

  • Time

  • Money

  • Fractions

  • Geometry

  • Place Value

  • Multiplication and more

Each unit/section starts with a clear explanation and examples and then is followed by questions for your student to answer. Each section ends with a review so that you can gauge what your child has learned and be certain that he has retained the information that was taught earlier in the unit. I was surprised to see how much Liam enjoyed this method of instruction and how little involvement I had to have. Besides the occasional time I had to pull out a manipulative from our current math program or rephrase a question, Liam was able to work through the questions on his own. It was fun to just sit nearby and listen to him make the connections with a little help from the explanations. The only drawback I found was that there wasn't always a lot of room for Liam to write his answers on the worksheets so a few pages looked a little sloppy and crowded. It did force Liam to start writing a little smaller and that has also translated into him writing smaller in other subjects as well. For $29.70US for enough worksheets to keep Liam busy for a whole grade level (though unlikely a full year) we will be purchasing the next grade level for Liam when he has completed the one that he is working on.

In addition to selling complete curriculum by grade level (the light blue series) Math Mammoth also sells the:

  • Blue Series (worksheets focused on one topic WITH explanations) for grades 1-5

  • Gold Series (worksheets by grade level WITHOUT explanations) for grades 3-8

  • Green (worksheets by topic WITHOUT explanations) for grades 3-7

Prices vary between series, topics and grade level but all seem (to me) to be well worth the price (you can find some subjects for as little as $3.35US). You can order the PDF files and receive the worksheets immediately to print at home or for an additional price order the printed copy through Lulu (linked on the Math Mammoth website). In addition, you can sign up for Math Mammoth virtual e-mail course Math Teaching E-mails and receive:

  • 280 free worksheets and sample page;

  • 7 math teaching articles ;

  • 2 emails discussing the books;

  • Homeschool Math newsletter

I suggest that you take a peak at the Math Mammoth website and sign up for the teaching e-mails and also read what other Crew Members have to say about the product (a wide variety of products were reviewed this year).

***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, February 19, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-February 19

No, I haven't given up (though, I might as well have!). My computer died so I was out of blogging action for a while and missed two check ins.

There's not a lot to report on the fitness front here. The only exercise I've been getting is house cleaning (our furnace there was plenty of soot to wipe off walls), vacuuming (5 cats remember) and painting. I guess you could say I am getting ready for baby. I would, however, have preferred to have spent more time walking (we are having beautiful spring like weather) but I could be bothered to dress the kids to take them out and by the time Mike gets home it is the kid's bedtime and then we've been sitting down in front of the Olympics for the rest of the evening (you think that might inspire me). I hear birds outside my window at the moment and Mike might get home at a decent hour today so perhaps I'll leave him with the kids this evening for a bit.

If things can get worst than my lack of exercise then diet has. I've been hit with third trimester sickness and the ONLY thing that appeals to me at all is store bought breaded chicken fillets (at least they are white meat). Not only have I been eating those (the kids and I have gone through a 1.5kg box this week) but I've been smothering them in a spicy salsa sour cream (I throw my salsa spices into sour cream). Yep, caloric....yep, not much nutrition. I've tried salad, I really have, but even the thought of greens has made me rather, well, green. I had a lovely meal prepared for me by my husband last night of asparagus, mushrooms and steak and it was divine and didn't threaten to cause problems so maybe the cure is to have HIM cook for ME! The only good thing I can say about anything this week is that I am consistently drinking water both in the day and at night.

My goal for this week is a lot of fresh produce (I'm thinking fruit might be nice). There's a 20% off sale at our grocery store on all fresh produce so I plan to stock up. Continue drinking the water. Find a healthier substitute for the breaded chicken....EWWW (what else can I smoother in sour cream? I don't think I can give up the spicy sour cream) and to take advantage of the spring like weather.

Be sure to check in with the other Fit Mama's out there on Got Chai?

Hoping for (no, I WILL have) a better week next week!

The Blog Frog-Trying Something New

Because I don't have near enough to do, I've decided that I would try out another social networking tool. Unfortunately with Wordpress (my blog host) I cannot use Blog Frog to it's full capacity BUT I would still like to grow somewhat of an active community for my blog on their website. In summary, Blog Frog allows members to create a forum for their blog where you can go and chat about what you've read (or basically anything at all...ideally having something to do with the blog). Basically, it's a message board and I've set one up for Mama Manuscripts to see if I can get more readers onto my website.

I invited you to check it out here. I welcome pretty much anything as discussion. My website focuses mostly on homeschooling and parenting. I'd love to hear your views on different curriculum. I have quite a few members who have reviewed homeschooling products so if you have any questions, ask away. I'm very interested in pregnancy, breastfeeding, post-partum care, herbs, homeopathy (natural healing), healthy living, living green and frugally so those are topics I'm always open to discuss. I love to cook so recipes are always fun, too (and I might share some on my blog).

Feel free to check it out and start a topic of your own!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What is that stuff?

When Mommy is Reviewing.....

my house goes to shambles.

This is after we picked up half of the wooden blocks!

We must have a new delivery person. We NEVER get flyers and Morgaine was impressed!

Yes, I'm attempting to post more than just reviews.....the theme this week? My messy house!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

Product: The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell
Company: Apologia Press
Price: $20.00US

Anyone who has been a Christian homeschooler for any amount of time has likely heard of Apologia Educational Ministries Inc. because they are well known for their creation based science curriculum. Not knowing what we were going to do for science this year, I decided to hold out on science altogether when I noticed that Apologia was on our review list for the TOS Homeschool Crew. Imagine my shock when I received The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell instead of a science textbook! I'll admit that not only was I shocked but I was a little bit distressed! What was I going to do for science now?

After scrambling around to come up with an alternate resource for science, I settled down with The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. This 500+ page book has a wealth of information to share with new and even veteran homeschoolers. There are parts covering everything from deciding whether homeschooling is right for you and selecting a curriculum to working with reluctant students and dealing with/avoiding burn out. There are new sections dealing with older students and how to use computers in your homeschool. What to teach, when to teach it and how to measure progress is another topic covered in depth in this book. Written from a Christian perspective in an easy conversational tone this book is actually a much quicker read than it appears to be. In the fashion on the "...For Dummies" books, the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling has icons that alert you to important information and resources such as:

  • Suggested Reading

  • Websites

  • From the Bell Files (personal stories from the author)

  • Voices of Experience (stories from other homeschoolers)

  • Buying and Resource Information

The parts, chapters and sections are organized in a logical manner and the icons make it especially easy to find what you are looking for. There is a wealth of information in this book and the many numerous resources pointed out in this book make the $20US almost worth it.

I did, however, find that this book was lacking. If you homeschool using the same method as she does, and share the same values and beliefs then this is the perfect book, however, if not then you may be better looking elsewhere. Written from a Christian perspective, I believe that many secular homeschoolers would benefit from choosing a different guide book. There was a lot of mention of putting fate in God in helping you make decisions and well, if that isn't your cup of tea then this book and actually be off putting. I was hoping to see more information on different homeschooling styles (Waldorf, Montessori, Classical/Charlotte Mason/Unschooling) but was disappointed to see that the author stuck to her type of homeschooling and didn't go through the trouble of speaking about other styles. I was also put off a little but the amount of emphasis that was put on homeschooling co-ops and being involved with other homeschoolers through lessons outside of the home and other events. At one point, I even got to the point of questioning my ability to successfully homeschool my children in an area of Canada where there are literally 5 homeschooling families all spread in different directions from each other. Not too many opportunities for a homeschooling community here! Reading about the accomplishments of the author's children (they've done incredibly well for themselves and for the world) was also somewhat depressing because while I strive to have children that are as successful as hers sometimes the resources just aren't available to me or I question my abilities when I hear such incredible success stories (ah, yes, I struggle sometimes to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we are going through a particularly trying period in our homeschool!).

While there was a wealth of information in this book and I would recommend buying it, if only for the lists of resources peppered throughout the book (and the 61 pages of various resources listed at the end of the book), I think that you have to take what you can from the information and be able to leave the rest behind. As mentioned, there were certain aspects that did bother me but for the most part, after talking to my online homeschooling community (thank you TOS!), I was able to see that I was doing to best I can for my family and there are many, MANY families out there that are unable, or do not feel the need to, take advantage of some of the things that this author credits her homeschooling success to. Overall, a good resource book with some really interesting sections that make it well worth the $20US price tag.

To see what other Crew members think of this book be sure to check out the Crew Blog.

***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.

Sweet Liam's Birth Story

Well, I posted Morgaine's birth story and said that I would post Liam's as well but then the computer died. It's a little late coming but here is Liam's birthing center birth story (I cannot believe that this wee boy is going on SEVEN!!)

I'd gone into the birthing center that morning to have a herbal
induction as I was 41 weeks 5 days and the birthing center could not
have me as a client past 42 weeks and there was no way I was going
to have a hospital birth. I chose the lovely pink room though I knew
I was having a precious baby boy and I started taking the required
herbs to get things going. Unfortunately things didn't really get
going and I was about ready to head for home at noon. The midwifery
student who I'd been close to during my pregnancy asked me to stay
for lunch then recommended that I lay down and have a rest and she'd
drive me home after her 1 o'clock meeting. I decided that sounded
like a plan as the bus ride home didn't appeal too much to me being
HUGE and very VERY pregnant.

I went to lay down in my bed and POP, SPLASH my waters opened (like
REALLY opened) and I knew the fun was about to begin!! I waddled out
to the kitchen with a towel between my legs and found the first
person I could (hoping and praying she was a midwife, or an aide
natale NOT some other clients family member). "Um, I think my waters
have broken," (there's was no mistaking it) "could you maybe, umm,
get my midwife?" So out of their meeting come my midwives to
announce that indeed by waters had opened and to compliment of the
HUGE amount of waters I had. I was slightly mortified, but only
slightly. Mike had brought my "hospital...umm, birth center" bag to
work with him that morning so I waddled around my bedroom semi
(mostly, actually) nude while the aide natale washed and dried my
clothes. It was a nice chill time. I read some mother magazine. Did
some needle point.

At about 3:30 I decided that I should call Mike and let him know
that we'd indeed be having a baby in the forseable future. He said
he'd finish up and be on his way. I don't remember what I did
between that time and the time he showed up (which was like 7ish)
bearing gifts (well, McDonald sundaes...which I couldn't bring
myself to eat even a couple days AFTER Liam was born). I imagine I
chatting with the midwives and undoubtly did MORE needle point.

So yeah, I decided that I wanted a green salad for supper (which the
aide natal promptly whipped up for me to take one look at it and
decide I didn't want it). This brings us to nearing 8pm and the
park. Mike and I decided to get one last walk as a couple sans
children and we spend quite a bit of time befriending a stray cat
that looked to be living behind the birthing center). Then we went
to the park and swung, and swung and swung. By this point I was
beginning to get little contractions but nothing too alarming.
Nothing near the preterm contractions I'd gotten thoughout the
pregnancy. However, knowing that the real deal was emminent we
decided to hear back to the birthing center.

10 pm found me pacing back and forth, back and forth in the kitchen
and prowling around the dining room (probably making the midwives
very nervous *lol*). I finally walked up to Sinclair and said, "Can
I have a hug? I don't know what's wrong with me, but can I have a
hug?" She took me in her arms and said, "There is nothing wrong with
you. You are just like a Mama cat looking for a place to have her
kittens." With that I proudly went to announce to Mike (who was
trying to rest) that I was "just like a Mama cat." I tried to lay
down with him but that wasn't so relaxing. I bounced around on the
birthing ball with him talking to me and then tried to rest some
more. Around midnight Sinclair came in to tell me she was off (off
to England to see her father who was turning I think 80...she had an
early flight but wanted to stay with me as long as possible as my
main midwife was out of town as well and I was going to be with a
midwife I hadn't really met). They checked me at the point and I was
at something quite rediculous like 2cm (which is what I was at at
like 28-30 weeks).

They left us alone again and I bounced around on the ball some more
and tried to sleep in between (yeah, right). At 3am, I'd had enough
and really wanted a female presence so Mike ran to fetch the student
midwife. She made us a lovely cup of Chamomille tea and pour me a
bath and lit some candles. We all went into the none to big
bathroom. I was feeling somewhat watched so Mike shooed her away
again (poor woman). I didn't spent a lot of time in the water as I
was having a lot of back pain and I couldn't get into a position
that was more comfortable.

By 3ish I was feeling quite nauseous and the midwife came in to give
me some Nux Vomica (because seriously my only fear about birth was
that I was going to puke, SERIOUSLY *lol*). At about that point I
started bearing down at the end of the contractions and my midwife
asked "Are you pushing?" and I was was was like "No"----bearing down-
-- "I'm not pushing" and she was like "You are soooooooo pushing".
So I was checked and found to be 8-9ish.

Unfortunately I stayed at 8-9ish for a loooooooooooong time (the
whole time having urge and involuntarly pushing). The sun came up,
the birds started singing, the center started coming to life but
still I didn't progress. Finally at 9am the midwife decided that she
was going to hold back that little lip of cervix while I pushed that
baby on past it (it was nearing the time where they "have to" worry
about getting the baby out as my waters had been open near 24 hours.
This was torture, it was painful and totally unpleasant and I don't
recommend any of you to EVER have this done. Then to make matters
worst after they finish and I was laying flat on my back with both
my legs held waaay back they yelled at me to push. I completely
COMPLETELY flipped out!! Mike shooed every from the room VERY
quickly. I jumped up and started pacing around like a mad women
(what the h*** were they trying to make me do?). I found a nice
comfy stop on the toilet where I pushed ever so slowly for the next
two hours. The student midwife (who I love love LOVE) was awesome.
She was very encouraging. When it was near the end the other
midwives came into the room as well and I moved out of my bathroom
and sat on a birthing stool. 30 minutes later out popped a beautiful
and healthy 8 pound 2 ounces baby boy.

Unfortunately, I bleed and the right after his birth is a bit of
blurred still (though it wasn't a severe hemmorhage like it was in
Morgaine's instance). It was really traumatic for me and I felt a
little battle weary after. Nice thing though was by 2pm I was
sitting up eating meat lasagna (yes, dying for meat and I was soooo
on a very limited meat diet at that time). We all cuddled down in
bed together until 7pm when we then started making the calls to let
the world know about our newest (okay, new he was our

The new family almost 7 years ago....home from the birthing center and introducing Liam to the family.

Liam today....loving his little sister.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Presidential Penmanship-HWOT Style

Product: Presidential Penmanship-HWOT style complete program
Company: Zeezok Publishing
Price: $39.99US for complete program (primary to highschool) or $9.99US/grade

As a Canadian, I was surprised to receive Presidential Penmanship (Handwritting Without Tears style) from Zeezok publications to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I groaned at the thought of my son having to copy quotes from speeches that are not relevant to him as a Canadian. Thankfully, the earlier grade levels of this program contain mostly uplifting or thought provoking quotes from various American presidents which focus mainly on character traits and leadership. As you progress through the levels there gets to be more and more quotations from speeches and the Declaration of Independence but that is not until several years into the program. It is important to note that this is not a penmanship program in that it does not teach penmanship but rather gives children material to copy in a specific style (there are 6 different styles available).

While I had been planning to start Liam on cursive writing this year, I decided to keep him working on his printing with this program. I am not a fan of the Handwriting Without Tears cursive style (it just looks so different to me) and without the proper instruction on how to use Handwriting Without Tears I felt it in Liam's best interest to stick to printing. I choose to print out the quotes that I felt most appropriate for Liam (from the grades 1 and 2 level) and he worked on those and then we discussed the quotes a little when he was finished. It led to some thought provoking discussions and for that I am grateful. One improvement in the actual copy work that I think could be made would be for the company to use a more traditional trace over the dots to practice the letters as opposed to writing inside an outline of the letters. Despite repeated instruction, Liam still felt inclined to colour in the outline instead of making one smooth line in the outline. After several lessons he finally did get it but I am sure that many students do the same thing that he did and that could be avoided with the more typical method of instruction.

As a Canadian, I would not be interesting in purchasing this product. I am not a huge fan of copy work and if my son is going to have to copy material I would rather it be something of my choosing that is also relevant to what we are studying. I'd rather purchase a complete penmanship program with instruction if I were to find my children struggling to print/write. I can see that this would be a nice addition to a study on the presidents or American history so I would be more inclined to purchase this product if that was an area that we would be studying. It is nice that you can purchase the complete product as either an e-book or on CD for $39.99US allowing you to print whatever pages you'd like as many times as you would like to (especially a plus for a large family with children at various levels). You can also choose to purchase one level at at time as an e-book for $9.99US which would be great if you wanted to test this product out before committing to it. You can also choose from 6 different styles of writing which you can view on their site here.

While this program would not work well for my family I encourage you to read some reviews from other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew here if this product interests you.

***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.

Ray's Arithmetic

Product: Ray's Arithmetic Complete K-12 curriculum
Company: Dollar Homeschool
Price: $59US

If you've ever wanted to go back in time and see what was taught over 100 years ago in a one room school room then Ray's Arithmetic may be the program for you. I received this complete curriculum from Dollar Homeschool to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew and I have to say that I was impressed. Despite being written well over 100 years ago these textbooks felt warm and familiar to me (though I would have LOVED to have them in print, Dollar Homeschool offers the program on CD so I couldn't quite snuggle up with the computer).

Ray's Arithmetic was used for over 50 years in pioneer schoolhouses all over America and millions and millions of students have been taught using this method. Does this make it a good program? Well, for the most part it aligned with my view of math in that the youngest of students are taught to recognize numbers by sight and not to count on their fingers to solve problems. The abacus and other manipulatives are used heavily in the first year (with absolutely NO written work for the first year). As the child progresses through the program, it changes so that the teacher can assign pages of the text for the students to work on individually while she works along with the younger students making it ideal for a school setting with numerous children of different ages. Math doesn't change much over the years so it is just a valid today as it was over a century ago. As you progress into algebra/calculus some solutions get long winded and better methods for solving these equations have come to light since the text was written but for the most part this text is just as good today as it was when it was first being used. At a price of $59US even if you just use the product for elementary school then you have well spent your money.

While we did not, and likely will not, be using this program in our homeschool I do think it is a valuable resource if you want to teach your children from classic texts. I cannot think of a better price for a complete math curriculum out there anywhere. I very much enjoyed reading the Manual of Methods and A Manual of Arithmetic as it emphasized to me that the way that I naturally teach my children math is actually a proven method of arithmetic instruction. I will likely use some of the worksheets for my children as they continue along in their study of math. For $59US you get 38 .pdf files including complete textbooks covering a wide variety of topics, answer keys and two manuals on how to teach the program to your students. The manuals are invaluable and the texts are clear so that once your children are on the road to independent studies then they should be able to complete most of their math work on their own. For the price, all this is really an exceptional deal that I encourage you to look into on the Dollar Homeschool 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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Most Certainly Did NOT Just Post This.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

My husband is an oil burner mechanic. He is highly dedicated to his craft. He is so dedicated that when our furnace started blowing black soot onto into our living areas last week he went down into our scary crawl space of a basement at midnight to fix the problem.

I, on the other hand, am not as dedicated to my craft as a housewife.

I most certainly did not leave the soot on my walls for a week and draw cheesy hearts in it on the bathroom wall. No, not I.

I most certainly did not also draw hearts on the living room wall and the top of the shower stall as well. No, not I?

I most certainly did not start cleaning the wall in Liam's bed room, look at it and get totally discouraged and decide to take a picture of the mess instead. No, not I?

I am most certainly not dreading having to actually get my act together to get the walls cleaned down today. No, not I.

Oh, yes, I most certainly did not let my kids leave the house looking like someone from Oliver Twist. No, not I.

I as a perfect housewife took care of it immediately while my husband was fixing the furnace so my family could have a nice clean home, right?

31 Week Belly

It's been a while since I posted a belly update. Here I am at 31 weeks! Unfortunately, I'm feeling rather done with this pregnancy with still quite a ways to go. February isn't the best month in the world and I'm struggling some with my emotions in relation to having another baby as we've been dealing with some serious attitude from BOTH of our children these days and my patience is so thin that I am sure I am not helping matters much (my daughter is throwing a major fit behind me as I type). Mike is tired and I am tired and the kids are tired and the tension in our house is thick at the moment and honestly when I think about throwing a third child into the fray I want to run screaming to the hills!! I am POSITIVE that this will pass given a little bit of time (and some sunshine and warmth) but currently that is where I am at at the moment.

Wee baby, on the other hand is doing wonderfully well. He is active and already in a favorable birthing position (and has been there for a couple weeks already). My blood pressure this week was significantly lower than it is has been since the start of the pregnancy (where it was on the higher side....especially for me). My blood sugar levels came back excellent (I refused GTT but did a fasting glucose level). My hemoglobin is actually on the high side. Not high enough to be a cause for concern but I will be stopping my supplements as my body seems to know what it is doing this time around. The baby hates the doppler at the doctor's office and goes into erratic uncontrolled constant movement for the rest of the day after the doctor checks in on him. I've never felt anything like it and it is really rather freaky. Besides that day, he sleeps well during the day and is VERY active after the kids go to bed (so they are always keeping me busy!! *lol*)

Still looking forward to the cottage.....44 days to go!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Math Tutor DVD

I have heard wonderful things about Math Tutor DVD over the years so I was happy to hear that we would be reviewing some of their material this year on the TOS Homeschool Crew. I was sent their Basic Math Word Problems DVD and their new Young Minds Numbers and Counting DVD. The children were excited that they each got a DVD that was geared towards their abilities so there was a bit of a fight over who would get to use the DVD player first!

Young Minds: Numbers and Counting

In the end, both children agreed to watch the Young Minds: Numbers and Counting DVD first. While both children have progressed beyond counting to 10 and recognizing numbers they enjoyed this DVD. Set to classical music (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and more) this DVD teaches counting and number recognition from 1 to 10 as well as animals, machines, fruits and vegetable names, colours and more. Geared towards the youngest of students I can see this DVD being used in households with 2, 3, and 4 year olds mostly. The video quality and bright pictures captured my children's attention and the music held it despite the fact that they were already familiar with the material. My son even asked to watch certain sections again because he loved the music that was playing in the background. If you are not opposed to using DVD material with the youngest children in the family then I would recommend this DVD which sells for $19.99US. This will likely be a DVD that I will pop into my player when the the wee one in my belly reaches the age when I feel a little half hour of TV from time to time is alright (it's better material then I'd find on TV for him!).

Basic Math Word Problem DVD

The next day, Liam was able to take a peak at the Basic Math Word Problem DVD. This 8 hour CD is guaranteed to increase your students grades in math by teaching them how to understand and break down math word problems. Liam watched the first two sections of this DVD and was a little bit appalled to see that the teacher was using drawings and counting on his fingers to add simple math facts. He was yelling out the answers to the questions long before the teacher explained and solved them. The math program that we use (and his Mama) discourage counting on fingers (or counting in general) so he was surprised by this teacher. As a parent, I did like how the teacher pointed out certain keywords in math word problems that help the student understand what is being asked in the question. The teacher broke the questions down in easily digestible sections and made the material easy to understand. The DVD covers word problems involving whole numbers, decimals, fractions, percent and ratios/proportion and each section gets progressively harder. This DVD can be purchased for $26.99US on their website and I would recommend it for those students that have a hard time grasping what is being asked in word problems.

It is worth mentioning that Math Tutor DVD sells products that will help your children from elementary school right up into college with such topics as basic math, algebra, advanced calculus, physics and more. I have heard wonderful success stories from families that have used these DVDs with older children and because of that (and their relatively affordable price) I would not hesitate to purchase these DVDs for my children in areas where either they (or I, as the teacher) feel like they could use extra help beyond what I can teach. No matter the age of your child, be sure to check out the Math Tutor website and see what they might have to offer your math student. Whether homeschooled or schooled in a more traditional setting, I believe these DVDs would be beneficial to many students that are struggling).

To find out what other Crew members think be sure the visit the TOS Homeschool Crew website here.

***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.

Kinderbach-An Online Introduction to Music for Your Little Ones

Program: Kinderbach-Online Lessons
Price: $19.99US/month or $95.88US/year

For the past year Liam has been asking me if he could take piano lessons but for financial reasons I have always been forced to tell him no, despite believing that music is an important part of a child's education. I was very happy to be chosen this year to review Kinderbach-an online introduction to the keyboard for 3-7 year olds as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Using creative characters, engaging videos and a passionate teacher this online program actually teaches your young ones to read notes, learn intervals and rhythm and actually play simple songs.

My children, 4 and 6, really enjoyed using this program. The teacher is very enthusiastic and the kids were captivated by her energy (I wish I has some of her enthusiasm for some of the other subjects that I am teaching the children!). They enjoyed trying to sing along to the little songs and banging on their rhythm instruments. There was a fair amount of "busy work" in this program and while I did not like having to print out copies of worksheets for the kids (when they could easily call out the answers without wasting paper) the kids enjoyed these extra colouring activities as well.

While I think that this program is worth it for the youngest of students as a basic introduction to music, I would hesitate to buy this for a student that is very eager to play piano. My son is very interested in classical piano and this program, while fun, does not prepare a student for continuing further along in their musical career. There is no real emphasis on proper fingering or sitting at the piano correctly. It takes quite a while before the children are introduced to the simplest of songs and after a while my son, while enjoying the program, started asking when he would actually learn how to play the piano. I also found that while the sing-a-long songs were fun, they were often quite fast or the characters had a voice that was not easy to understand so the children often ended up stumbling over words or asking me what the character was saying.

For the price, I would happily pay for this program if I was looking for a program to see if my children have a real interest in piano or if it is just a passing phase. I think, however, that it is best suited for the preschool age group, even though my son did enjoy using the program because it was "fun" school. You can test out the first two lessons for free on their website or for $5.95 you can purchase a day pass to view the entire site to decide if this program might would for you and your family. DVDs and workbooks are also available on their website for those people that wish to use that format instead of the online membership. This is especially beneficial for families using dial-up internet or those that have many children that will use the program over and over through the years.

I encourage you to check out the Kinderbach webiste and see what their program is all about. There are many different options available and you might find one that works well for your family that will bring a whole new world beyond music appreciation to your little ones. Be sure to check out what other Crew members have said about Kinderbach here.

***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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mac has died

yes, the computer! Easiest to post here. Reviews will be late. Blogging on hold. I hope to be back really soon but using the PS3 as an internet browser is not so practical. Talk to you all soon, I hope!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I've decided to just do it!

Some of you may have recognized the text on my lap in this post. For those of you that are familiar, well, it's Varney's Midwifery. One of the textbooks to read for midwives to be. I spoke a little while ago about how I used to hope to travel to areas less fortunate than Canada to help out women and children who have MUCH less than I do. I talked about how excited my friend and I would be when we discussed how we could to this, but how, in the end, it just seemed totally impossible and well, HARD!

At about the same time, my friend mentioned a midwifery training that allowed students to travel to the Dominican Republic to get some of their clinical experience and I though, that is EXACTLY what I am looking for. I looked into the training some and spoke it over with my husband and he told me that he thought it would be a good idea. Before I had time to come up will a million and one excuses NOT to take this training (some of them very relevant in this case) Mike sneaked off and registered me for the classes (online) and purchased the first textbook for me. So it looks like it has been decided and I am slowly going to work on my goal of becoming a midwife.

Now, this certainly will not be easy and honestly I am not sure that I'll ever be able to certify as a midwife in Canada with this training. It is my understanding, in the end that I will be able to take my NARM examination BUT to do so I have to attended a whole bunch of births in attendance of a NARM certified midwife and that will be next to impossible with the regulations in Canada. While in the beginning I will be able to use the births I attend as a doula as part of my clinical experience eventually I will need to find a mentor and apprentice with a midwife and considering that there are virtually no midwives in Cape Breton that could prove difficult. Even elsewhere in Canada it will be next to impossible to train with a midwife that is NARM recognized because the only recognized midwifery training in Canada is provided at the university level. Midwives will not want to work with (and even if they did...they wouldn't be allowed to) work with midwives getting training any other way. There is the option of traveling to America and other areas from time to time to get clinical experience but that is about it.

I'll keep you updated but for now, at least I am taking the first little baby steps.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Factsfirst by Saxon Math

Product: FactsFirst
Company: Saxon Math
Price: $49.99US per family/year (up to 4 students)

As I have mentioned a few times already, I've had the pleasure of reviewing numerous math drill online programs this year as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Next up for review is developed by Skills Tutor and distributed by the well known company Saxon Math. Factsfirst strives to do just that, teach proficiency in math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) first by repetition of basic math facts. Progression in levels is based on both on accuracy and speed.

First up, your student creates an avatar that they will use throughout their learning adventure.

This character is used to answer a variety of questions as quick as possible. At the end of each set of questions there is an overview on how the child did and a recommendation to either continue on the same level or to progress to the next depending on how well they did. In Factsfirst speed is as important as accuracy when it comes to advancing levels.

Every so often, the child will get a 5 minute bonus time to play an arcade style game that also drills math facts.

For the adults/teachers there is a a chart that helps you see what facts your child has mastered, which can come in handy and also helps you know which questions to ask if you are the type to throw out random math questions around the kitchen table (I am and the kids love it).

While this math programs looks nice (good graphics, custom avatars) and has a lot of the little extra "frills" like arcade games and such, it did not really appeal to my children. As mentioned in previous posts, my son is not quick when it comes to keyboarding skills and because speed is so important in this program he'd never ever get any facts "excellent" on his chart (no matter how long he worked on a topic level his results were always "not sure") and he'd be told to repeat the same set of questions over and over despite having "mastered" them years ago. It was frustration and there was a lot of tears. I have since learned that you can change the time setting on the program (it is set at 2 seconds per question) but by that point the damage was done and Liam wanted nothing to do with this program.

For $49.99US for family (up to 4 students) per year, I think that that this is a worthwhile program to invest in for the price (especially if you have more than one child). I think that most children would be motivated by the games between levels and making your own avatar is fun as well. The tracking is nice for the parents/teacher, if you take the time initially to find the average amount of time it takes your child to find and type the answer and adjusting that setting, otherwise in my opinion, this feature isn't accurate. There's a difference between taking a long time to come up with the answer and just taking a long time to type in that answer in my opinion, so be sure to check in the the time limit option. In terms of price this program seems to be one of the better deals that I have found so if money is an issue this may be the program that works well for your family.Unfortunately, my son has been scared away from this product so it is not one that we would, personally, purchase at the current time.

To try a trial version of this program please visit FactsFirst website. To find out what other TOS reviews have to say please click here.

***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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Morgaine's Birth Story (August 2005)

I have birthing on the brain these days (for a variety of reasons) so I figured that in the next few days I would share the kid's birth stories for those of you that haven't heard them yet. Beware, Morgaine's, up first, is especially long!


The Freezie Countdown

This birth story actually starts 75 days before my due date when on a humid June evening we bought a box of 64 large Freezies. On the way home from the grocery store I said to Mike, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I ate a Freezie every day and then ended up delivering on the day that I had the last one?” Mike agreed that was possible and would be pretty neat. From hat moment, the box of Freezies became our due date countdown.

Big and round, enjoying a Montreal summer with my baby boy (July 2005)

I started religiously eating one Freezie a day, with Mike having one here and there for good measure, but, anyone knows that you cannot eat a Freezie a day without getting totally disgusted by their sickly sweetness. As the summer went by my bump grew and grew, my due date got closer and closer but the number of Freezies did not go down near as quickly…

37 weeks came and went. Morag (my midwife) told me I had the perfect home for a homebirth. I cooked. I cleaned. I made my birthing bed. We bought/collected candles, stones, sand and seashells. I ate Freezies.

38 weeks came and went. I cooked. I cleaned. I made my birthing CDs. We prepared my birthing
"alter" (with the above mentioned stuff). I ate Freezies.

39 weeks came and went. I ate the food I’d cooked at 37 weeks. I remade my birthing bed. Liam played with the items on my birthing alter. We made a birthday cake. I also became more reflective. I listened to my birthing music everyday while praying and talking to my Precious One, letting her know that we were ready for her arrival. I cried…I laughed hysterically…sometimes I screamed.

As for my Freezie situation, 10 days before my due date we had 18 left. Mike said that we should throw a barbeque and have Freezies for dessert. I was adamant. No, we couldn’t do that. Only Mum and Dad could participate in the Freezie countdown, it was an unwritten rule. We doubled our Freezie eating efforts but not enough to be done before our due date.

A Practice Run

At 39 weeks 6 days Morag did a sweeping of my membranes but told me that I probably wouldn’t deliver on the weekend but to feel free to prove her wrong. That night I had a lot of contractions and lost what I thought was the elusive mucus plug. Now, according to Dr. Sears most women go into labour within 48 hours of loosing it. 48 hours. I was ecstatic. I told Mike. I was SURE that it was going to happen that night. I contracted regularly all night.

The next morning dawned dark and dreary, not a contraction to be felt. Liam was extremely grouchy and clingy; Mike didn’t feel like working, I just wanted the baby OUT. We nearly drove each other crazy all day until Mike decided that we had to get out of the house. We ended up going to Mike’s parents’ place where Mike’s brother was in visiting from Hull. We had a very relaxing evening with them. Good food. Good wine. Good conversation. Low and behold my contractions started up again during the meal and we decided it was time to head for home.

This time the contractions did not let up over night and actually intensified when I took a bath the next morning. We decided that it was a good time to bring Liam to the inlaws. On the way there we timed the contractions at 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds. We kissed our precious baby boy good bye figuring that the next time we saw him he’d be a big brother. Mike and I decided to do some last minute errands and bought some healthy labour snacks and chocolate to celebrate with after. We also rented a video game to keep our mind of the long day ahead of us. By that point I had to ask Mike to slow down when I was contracting and on the way home we timed the contractions at consistently 3 minutes apart and lasting close to a minute each.

Those video games got annoying after a little while and the floor was hard! At home I decided it was time to call Sinclair (it was Morag weekend off) to let her know what was going on. She was finishing up at another birth and I reassured her that I did not feel that she needed to come over right away but that I thought that something was probably happening today. Mike and I took turns playing the video game but by 3pm I was finding the video game more annoying than distracting. At this point Sinclair called to let us know she was home and would be over soon (her husband had a quick errand to run).

By the time Sinclair arrived the contractions were becoming erratic albeit more intense. I’d have two or three on top of each other and then not another one for 3 or 4 minutes. An internal check showed that there was noticeable change from my last exam two days earlier but that she didn’t think I was in active labour. She said she felt either my water would break and things would get more intense or things would putter out. Either way Liam should stay with the inlaws because tonight could be the night. “However,” she said, “second time babies like to make a practice run.” She then left for home.

Not long after she left, I got a call from my sister saying that they were having a get together the next day as my father and sister were in town and we never get to all be together. I told her that I wouldn’t be making it as I was probably in labour. Not long after my contractions started to fizzle out some so Mike and I went for a walk to the park and went swinging (we’d gone swinging at the park near the birthing center while I was in labour with Liam). Things didn’t really pick up nor did they stop so at home I had a bath, a glass of wine and went to bed.

I woke up the next morning at 5:30 feeling extremely positive and refreshed. I had a long soak in the tub then got out and put on nice lavender lotion and also gave my bump a nice long massage all the while telling the baby that I understood that she wasn’t ready to come yet. I told her that we’d be patiently waiting for when she was ready. I then got dressed, Mike got up and we went for another walk. From the park we called Mike’s parents to let them know that it had been a false alarm and we went over there and had a very nice family breakfast.

We debated long and hard over whether or not we should make the two hour trip to my sisters. I was not really comfortable with the idea (and I am sure that the midwives wouldn’t have advocated the trip) but I hadn’t had a contraction all morning so we decided to take the chance figuring that we’d have time to make it home should labour start. When we got to my sister’s we realized that it was an early birthday party for my father (who is turning 70 in December). We had a nice time visiting with family and I think that there was Divine Intervention in my “labour” stopping the night before allowing me to make it to the party. It was one in maybe half a dozen times in my life when all my siblings and father were all together at once. I was thankful that I was able to be a part of it.

Time for a Gentle Nudge

Both Sunday (after coming home from my sister’s) and Monday nights I was kept awake by contractions that would diminish by the morning (but never go away completely). We figured that it was time to try and kick things into gear as I was getting tried and very discouraged. I decided to call my osteopath and see what she could offer either to get things going or get them to stop (so I could rest cause inevitably I’d be giving birth sometime in the next week or so and wanted to be ready). I had a nice relaxing treatment with her that same afternoon and after we took Liam to spend the night with the inlaws again so that Mike and I could have a final evening together. We went to McGibbon’s Pub and had a little snack while listening to some good music and then came home and watched television together. We then sat together eating Freezies and talking about the future.

The next day we worked together getting envelopes ready to deliver for Mike’s work and then we went to a really terrible movie together (as Mike said it’d be years before I could go to the theatre again). We then delivered the envelopes together which consisted of going up quite a number of stairs. We picked Liam up from the grandparents and by that point I was feeling tired, achy and not too happy. On the way home Mike and I got into a discussion in which I was lectured on not being appreciative enough of his parents (because I chose to sit in the car while Mike got Liam and I “didn’t sound pleasant enough” when I thanked his Mum). Well, I got very angry and cooked Liam and Mike their supper without sitting down to eat with them. I then asked Mike if he could give Liam a bath and he said he would but not right away (and I wanted it done just then) so I got even more upset and stomped around getting Liam ready for his bath. I’d been having contractions and hadn’t wanted to bathe for fear they’d go away (I always get into the tub with Liam when I bathe him). When I got out I was still feeling angry and maybe a little bit irrational and I ate the LAST two Freezies by myself. I stomped around some more cleaning the house and trying not to scream.

I managed to calm down and some point while watching mindless junk on television Mike and I started talking again. At that point I started doing a wee bit of nipple stimulation to help along the contractions that I was having. Mike and I went to bed around 11 o’clock and for the first time in weeks I didn’t give Mike a list of things to do should I go into labour that night. With my angry energy earlier in the evening I had tidied things to my liking.

The Real Deal

Not long after going to bed I realized that my contractions were getting more intense and closer together. I found that lying down was hard on my back s I got up and went to the washroom where I noticed I was having some bloody show. I then went downstairs to play a couple online games and see if the contractions would continue to pick up. After about an hour I thought I’d like to take a bath and started to try to clean it out myself. After a few minutes I was finding that impossible so I woke Mike up and asked him to help. He was like “you want me to do that NOW?” and I was like, “tonight is THE night.”

I got into the tub and Mike lit some candles and we sat together in the silence. After about half and hour I decided that though it was only quarter after 3, we should call Morag as I was not sure how fast things were going to progress. Mike did the honours of waking the midwife and we spoke briefly and she was on her way.

Early labour....loving the fabric I saved for the birth. She arrived 30 minutes later while I was still in the tub and we talked a few minutes and I briefly sat on the edge of the tub so she could take a listen to the baby (who was perfectly happy). I got back in the tub but Morag said that it might be a good idea for me to get checked. She said that she could do it while I was in the tub but that did not appeal to me so while she was getting her stuff ready in my bedroom I got out of the tub and wrapped myself in the fabric I’d been saving for the birth. Right away I realized that this better be the real deal, Morag was getting all her birthing supplies set up! A few minutes later an internal exam revealed that I was 3 maybe 4 cm, 50% effaced and the baby was still high up there. Discouraged I looked to Morag and asked “Is that good?” “It is good” she replied in her soothing voice as she continued to unpack her stuff.

The next hour or so I was quite restless as Morag got my room all set up for the birth. I wasn’t in pain so much as I didn’t know what to do with myself. Morag tried to give me some suggestions of positions that I could try but nothing really appealed to me. I ended up in the bathroom as my body began cleansing itself in preparation for the birth. As a private person I was shocked when I invited Mike to spend this time with me. For some reason I was quite nervous and having him with me helped.

After a time the 3 of us sat in the living room, me getting up to sway or walk around during contractions, while the sun came up. The contractions were coming about every 3 minutes by this point but I was still able to talk and even laugh at our neighbours who happened to be outside at the crack of dawn painting their patio. I only needed to be free to get up and move around during contractions and I was fine.
Liam checking in with Mum before heading to Grandma and Grandpa's At 6am we decided that it was time to call the inlaws to get Liam (as I didn’t want Mike leaving to bring Liam to them when I was in active labour). We got Liam up and he came to cuddle with me on the couch where I was trying to take a break. The grandparents arrived 6:45 and were insistent on finding the jacket Liam had worn the previous day (“it was a nice one” Grandpa said) despite me bringing them two other equally suitable jackets. At that point I had enough and went into the bedroom with Morag and only after they left did I realize that I hadn’t even said good-bye to Liam before he’d left. Talk about a guilty Mum moment.

After they left, Mike and Morag had some breakfast while I tried to eat some frozen fruit that before labour I thought would be wonderful. However, sitting at the table while they ate was making me antsy so I went down stairs to see if my sister was online to let her know that she was going to be an aunt again that day. She wasn’t around but I change my user name to “Having a Baby” so all those in cyber space would know that today was the day (I had every intention of updating it or having Mike update it to “Mum and Baby are Fine” as soon as possible after the birth but that didn’t happen so to those in cyberspace I was having a baby for 5 days!!)

Morag decided that she would leave to make a very quick visit to her daughter, who lives in my area. During the 45 minutes that she was gone I had quite a bit of bloody show and the contractions definitely picked up a notch and I got back into the tub. I laboured in there for a while and then felt that I wanted to get checked to see where I was at. The verdict was that I was 4 closer to 5 cm and was completely effaced. Hearing that I’d only dilated 1 cm was discouraging but I knew that going from 50 to 100 percent effaced was a good start. Besides labour hadn’t been too hard up to that point and I was even able to give Mike a quick anatomy lesson regarding the functions of the cervix and what happens during labour (with Morag backing me up).

Not that long afterwards though I felt that being vocal was the thing to do during contractions and I sat in the kitchen and moaned through contractions and also told myself to relax out loud. So it kinda sounded like a deep “Hmmm” and “Relax, just relax”. After a while I moved to the bedroom and sat on my birthing ball and turned on my birthing CD and continued with my moaning that on occasion was getting high pitched to which I immediately said “No” and corrected to return to deep moans.

Somewhere around this point Morag made the call to the aide natale and her assistant midwife and I remember sitting on the toilet trying to tell Mike (who is the driver in our household) the directions for the assistant midwife to take coming from a different highway then the one that the birth center was on (where the original directions I’d written up were from). There seemed like there were so many phone calls being made and coming in (the assistant midwife got lost) and it was breaking my concentration and making me nervous so I decided that it was time begin using some of my birthing aides. I went into my bedroom alone and put on my birthing CD (Enya’s “The Celts” and “Memory of Trees” for those that are interested…..incredible for birth) and sat on my birthing ball facing my birthing alter (on which half the items where missing thanks to Liam). I vocalized through contractions and told myself to relax out loud whenever I could feel my body tense up. The aide natale and assistant midwife arrived and came in to give me and hug and kiss. The assistant midwife sat with me for a couple minutes just holding my hand and then they both made themselves invisible to let me do my thing.

I laboured for the next couple hours using the same method of moaning, telling myself to relax when I tensed up, and changing my vocalizations when they got too high pitched. I spend some time in the tub, in my room and at the kitchen table. Mike was around but at this point things get more fuzzy in my head. I think it was around this point I started holding his hands when a contraction would come on but I am not positive. I know that I’d stand up and lean into him during some of the harder contractions and he asked if I wanted my back rubbed but by this point the contractions were all in my abdomen (with Liam I had back labour the whole time).

I was beginning to feel sick and I thought that eating something might help but when Mike brought out my fruit and apple sauce I knew that it wasn’t what I needed. Morag told me that by this point I should be able to do fine just having sips of water. We were getting close. I started to vocalize that I couldn’t do it any anymore and that I wanted it done (I hate feeling nauseous more than anything else in the world). I took Nux Vomica and that took away most of my sick feelings but I was still saying that I had enough so Morag took me into my room and told me that if the baby was positioned well and her head was engaged then we could break my water and that would speed things up. I thought that would be best because I was wondering if my water was ever going to break. Being born in the caul is supposed to be lucky and chances are my waters would have broken before that point but I was still uneasy about the very slight possibility. I was tired, not so much from the labour which wasn’t intensely painful or lengthy but just from being up much of the night for several nights before hand. Morag checked and I was 7 centimeters, 100% effaced, and the baby was in the correct position. We decided to break my water so Morag went to get Mike and the back-up midwife. At this point I went into the washroom and checked myself (as I really wanted to feel my baby and after the water breaks it isn’t recommended to do internals) and it was amazing to be able to feel my precious wee one’s head and even her hair. I’d checked a couple times through the labour but this was definitely the most impressive cause she was right there.

In very active labour...only about an hour before Morgaine made her appearance earthside.

We broke my waters and the water was tinted with meconium and it was at this point when I lost control in my so far smooth labour. I had a dear online friend with whom I’d conversed a lot with while we were trying to conceive and she had lost her baby the week before at 3 days old from heart problems. The only warning sign that anything was wrong was meconium staining. I wanted the baby out and I wanted the baby out NOW. I needed to see with my own two eyes that she was alright.

The contractions actually began to space out immediately after they broke my waters and Morag said this was not the time to prove her wrong (she’d said that they usually get stronger and closer together after the waters are gone). However, after 15 or so minutes it was obvious she wasn’t wrong. I started to get the urge to push and Morag was sitting in front of me rubbing my legs and letting me know that I was really close. Again, I’m not 100% sure where Mike was but Lynn, the aide natale was behind me applying counter pressure to my back as the pain was radiating back as the baby moved its way lower.

I wasn’t quite ready to beginning pushing in earnest and at some point I moved to the washroom to push on the toilet. I was getting quite panicky at this point as things were moving quicker than what I had anticipated and I was well into transition. I didn’t know what I wanted but what seemed to work was holding onto Mike’s hands while I was contracting but as soon as a contraction was over I’d let go and shake my hands like holding him was something that I didn’t want to do but as soon as another contraction hit I NEEDED him right there to hold. Morag was right beside me rubbing my leg and encouraging me and I started to chant (well, nearly cry) “Mike. Mike, Mike, Morag” during contractions like I was begging them to make it all stop. At some point Morag start to hold my perineum in case the baby came down suddenly and it was decided (though not out loud) that I wasn’t going to make it back to the bedroom to give birth so both the aide natale and the assistant midwife brought in the equipment that would be needed to birth into the bathroom and Mike sat on the edge of the tub and I got onto the birthing stool in front of him.

As soon as I was on the stool I started to shake and start pushing with all my might while leaning back into Mike and holding his hands. With just one push I began to feel the baby move down and past my pubic bone. As this was not a sensation I’d felt with Liam it was both thrilling and a little scary at the same time. Things were moving so quickly and remember wanting to slow things and just breathe through a contraction but the urge to push was so strong. I couldn’t stop shaking.

Crowning but not really feeling it.

Hard Work!

Holding her head in my hands

With just three or four pushes the baby was right there and then she was crowning and the next moment I was hold her wee head in my hands. I had to wait for another contraction for her body to be born but I didn’t have the urge to push while I was “holding” her so Morag had to guide me and tell me to keep pushing her out. Seconds later I was holding my wee one in my arms and all the pain/panic was gone. “That wasn’t so bad” was one of the first words out of my mouth. Mike and I just marveled at the beauty of our wee one and the speed of the arrival. It took us several minutes to check to see if we’d been blessed with a boy or girl. When we took a peak Mike announced that it was a girl and I was like “Oh, my God, a girl…my Precious One”.

Welcome my Precious One

The Afterwards

After this, I noticed that I was bleeding and I matter of factly said “Oh, I’m bleeding.” The afterwards of the birth was not something that I was prepared for (even though I’d bled with Liam I was not prepared for how serious bleeding could be) and don’t feel the desire to put the details into this birth story. To sum it up though, I bled severely initially but the midwives were able to get that under control with 2 different injections, an IV of a third medication, and lots of pressure applied to the uterus. However, over 3 hours later I was still bleeding much heavier than I should have been and with a second bag of IV meds and more pressure on the uterus I continued to bleed so our only option at that point was to call an ambulance and be transferred to the hospital. Even an hour or two more of blood loss at that rate could be really bad. So 911 was called and within minutes I was on my way to Lasalle Hospital. At the hospital I had two more bags of IV meds and lots of poking and proding (including a catheter) and then just IV fluid to see if the bleeding would stay stable without the medication. 18 hours later I was on my way home with my sweetie though I was very weak and had the wheel chair escort and the works you always see on television.

My midwives were very professional, calm, and compassionate and though I didn’t get the “gentle” third stage I’d longed for it was less traumatic to me then the blood loss with Liam’s birth (I’d had a different midwife I didn’t know, there were students present, the assistant midwife had been trying to keep me present by forcing me to call Liam by his name…with no regard to what I was feeling/wanted to say to him). For Morgaine’s birth, though she actually had to be taken away from me, I was less stressed. As soon as they could the midwives lay her on the bed so I could see her and I focused solely on her while they did what they had to do. Morag was very gentle and kept apologizing for not giving me the third stage I desired. The aide natale brought me warm blankets which felt like I was being hugged by an angel and Morag gently washed the blood off my legs, arms and face and I’ll never forget that (have to say that I think it was the nicest most thoughtful thing anyone has done for me in a long time). There was never a time when I felt truly scared.

Of course, I was upset to not have the afterwards I wanted and having to have Liam meet his sister and see me all hooked up in the hospital was disappointing. I felt mad because I couldn’t take care of myself/Liam or even Morgaine the first days home. I was made to be 100% dependent on others. There were many plans that needed to be changed. However, after a couple days when I started to gain more strength I started to cherish the special time I was given to just be alone and get to know Morgaine.

Monday, February 1, 2010

How on Earth do You Know What to Teach?

This post has been written as part of TOS Blog Cruise, a new venture that the TOS Homeschool Crew has set sail on. Each week, TOS Homeschool Crew members will be given a topic to blog about and you will have access to their replies each Tuesday as part of a blog carnival hosted both on The Homeschool Crew blog and on the TOS Homeschool Crew Fan Page on Facebook.

Even more than the ever dreaded "what about socialization?" question I get the "how do you know what to teach?" question. People ask me ALL THE TIME if the government provides me with the textbooks/workbooks to teach my children at home. Ha, yeah right! Considering that the main reason I have chosen to home school is for academic reasons it is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that even if the school board wanted to provide me with a complete curriculum I would refuse it (or maybe, if it was FREE, accept it, look it over and toss it on a bookshelf-I have a hard time refusing free books *lol*). People look at me aghast when I tell them that I am the one that decides what I should teach my children and THAT, my friends, is the one of the best reasons to home school, in my opinion! My children are bogged down with material that they are not interested in, or ready for, or bored of, because I get to custom build their curriculum myself.

So, how do I decide what to teach my children? I'll let you in on a little secret, for the most part, I DON'T. I do start the year knowing what areas are important to me. I want my children to love books so I know that the majority of my home school curriculum will revolve around quality literature. If Liam is reading a book set in the medieval period and shows an interest in knights and castles then our history will revolve around that period of time. We'll read other books set at that time, we'll research it at the library, we'll cook foods common in that era, we'll look at art from that period, our geography will focus on the areas that we've seen in our research of that period. Even science can revolve around good literature. When we read Charlotte's Web we learned about spiders. When we read Owls in the Family we learned about owls. I feel that children need a strong foundation in mathematics so I do choose math program at the beginning of the year (with very little concern about what they should know (according to the government) by the end of the year). I have no worries. They will find themselves were they need to be and beyond. I want my children to receive some kind of religious/moral instruction so I do have an action plan in place for studying in these areas but, beyond these basic plans, I am very open to going wherever the wind takes us. I don't particularly worry about what the government of Nova Scotia wants my children to know. They don't get to dictate how I run MY home school.

I also have no fears about changing things around if I see that our plans just aren't working. In general, when things start going downhill (bad attitudes, lack of motivation, things just "not clicking"), I take some time to meditate on what I really want my children to learn in that particular area. Most of the time I see that my children are learning what they really need to know as part of their daily living and if not, then the vast majority of the time an idea will come to me in the middle of the night that I will work on implementing in my homeschool. Most times, these ideas feel like divine intervention and things just happen to have a way of falling into place in the end. My children are still young and are eager to learn so it is my role to facilitate that process without making it TOO MUCH of a chore *lol*.

I am happy to let them take the reins and direct us where to go!

I Hope you Like Math-A Mathscore Review

because over the next week I have several math reviews to post!

Product: Mathscore
Company: Accurate Learning Systems Corporation
Price: Various pricing options that will be explained in further detail below (starting at $14.95US monthly for the first child, though there are some other options and it gets significantly cheaper per student after the first child).

Mathscore in an online math drill program developed by MIT graduates who wanted to develop a math drill program that adapted to the student's level and progressed according to the student's results. They found success with Mathscore which has been proven to increase math scores. Developed for students from grade 1 through to Algebra 1, covering a wide range of topics, there is something for most students whether they want to brush up on their skills or advance to the next level. Students choose a topic and progress through timed worksheets until they have reached a rating of 100 but unlike other math programs they are not locked into that topic until they acheive their rating of 100 and can work on another topic and come back to the previous topic at anytime. The worksheets progress according to the child's skill level/results so that child isn't suddenly shocked by a huge increase in difficulty. In addition to worksheets each topic also includes mini-lessons and sample questions so theoretically, this program could be used a complete math curriculum (especially for the younger years).

We've had the opportunity to review several online math drill programs this year, and my son has favored the "no-frills" worksheets of Mathscore. There isn't anything (graphics, huge acknowledgment of PERFECT scores, games) to distract him from the worksheets. He loved the scoring method used with Mathscore and was very excited to progress in levels with this program despite nothing more than a sentence telling him that he's advanced to the next level. Both he and I appreciated that more than enough time (for my son) was given for each worksheet so that Liam didn't end up panicky about not finishing "in time". Liam's confidence in math (especially keyboarding skills) has increased phenomenally since he no longer feels pressured to answer (type) questions faster than he is able. It is such a joy for me because it was hard for me to see that he felt "stupid" because he could not type fast enough to progress in other programs we've tried. As a result, his keyboarding skills have also improved because he knows that he CAN indeed do it! THANK YOU!

There are several payment options for this program.

  • First child: $14.95/month
    Second child: $5/month
    Each addition: $3.95/month

First 2 months the first child only costs $9.95/month

  • You can purchase (prepaid) a 9 month subscription lowering the cost for the first child to $9.95/month (which will be locked in for each additional month purchased after that point).

  • You can make a lump sum payment.  If you prepay $50, you can get $60 account credit (20% bonus credit).  If you prepay $100, you get $140 account credit (40% bonus credit).

It is also noteworthy to mention that you can freeze your subscription if you and your family are going on vacation or otherwise will be unable to use the product just by contacting the company. You account will be inactivated until such a time as you are able to use it again. It such a nice benefit to only have to pay for time used!

I look forward to using this program with Liam (and likely Morgaine as well) over the next several months and will be sure to update you on the success that we've seen. This program has been a welcomed addition to our homeschool math curriculum (though, at this time, even with the mini-lessons, it is used as a supplement to our current math curriculum of choice). I am uncertain as to whether I would purchase a subscription to this program at the current time but if money was not an issue then I believe that this would be an ideal purchase for my family. To see if this program might work for you please visit the Mathscore website and sign up for their two week free membership. Also be sure to check out some other reviews of this product here.

***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.