Friday, April 30, 2010

My Man

   I want to write about my most favorite person in the world. 
   He's really a private person, and doesn't appreciate being on blogs and especially not facebook!  I do it anyway because I just like to brag!  I think he's hot! 
     I want people to see what a catch I caught!  But today I'll tell you more.  He's more then just a catch, he's really, really wonderful. 

I love his serious look, he's so hot!
   You see we've been together since I was 18, he was 19.   We started just hanging out.  Two days after our first date my Dad passed away suddenly.  Those were very hard days.

   Josh didn't disappear, he stayed through all of that.  And on the other side of it he told me he loved me.  I thought this guy was pretty amazing for being there still, and I started to love him too.   We began to talk about the future and what we wanted.  He said he wanted to be married to me before the end of the year.  And we were.
   We met and married in 10 months.  And this September will be our 15th year of marriage. 

In Vancouver on a day pass from BCWH
   Josh is a strong man, physically, emotionally and spiritually (because he loves the Lord).  He is a rock, but he's a mush too.  He was a rock when we were rushed to BC Women's Hospital because our unborn baby had a heart rate of 285bpm.  He was a huge mush from the moment she was born!  (Actually long before that!)  
Josh and Baby Madalyn he held her all the time, so much so I think they are permanently attached!

   He is often logical and sees the bigger picture.  Which is great for me because I'm often irrational and can't see passed my forehead!  
   He loves me enough to tell me I'm floundering, and he loves me enough to point out the good stuff too.
   I hate to admit it but he's smarter then me.  This I did not realize until the last couple of years.  I was quite sure that I was one up in the brainiac department.  Not true. 
   He is my greatest confidant, my closest companion.  The person I always go to (well besides God, I usually go to the Lord first and sometimes He tells me to talk to Josh. Sometimes I go to Josh first and he tells me to talk to God).  I know that I can call on him for anything.  He is always willing to help me.  But he is never fooled by me, he knows exactly where I'm at.  I hate that and love it at the same time. 
   Josh is more than I ever thought to ask for in a husband, lover and friend.  And more than I ever dreamed of as a father for my children.   He is the best Dad I've ever known.  Our kids are the luckiest kids in the world.  I should say blessed, they have a great man to be their role model and he is great because of the relationship he has with Jesus.  
   What else could I tell you?  Oh, a million little things and a thousand big ones.  Sometimes there are no words really just a look. 
    I love it when he stars at me.  I say  "What?"  He says "Nothing, you're just beautiful". 
   He will thank me when I clean the house.  And compliment all my cooking. 
   He is my biggest fan.  And I am his.

Thought you might like this response from Josh when I e-mailed him this post to see if it was ok with him.

Wow, Lauralee are you sure you know who you are married too??

Thank you. and thank you for asking first. That will be ok to post.

I love you. Talk to you tonight.

Your Hubbie

Isn't he sweet?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Homeschool Journey Part 3

Ashley's TOG salt dough map.

       My first purchase of TOG was a second-hand copy of Year 1 Classical.  They have redesigned their years so all this means is that I had the old one;)
     I couldn't afford all the books so I adopted a strategy. With my book list in hand I went to our local library's web page and searched the catalogue.   Anything that was not at the library I then checked the inter-library loans.  I purchased any books that I could not get through the library that were necessary.    Some books I could find similar ones so I did not purchase them.    For example Ancient Rome, our library did not have the book on the book list, but rather then buy this particular book I opted for borrowing one on the same subject.
    For Science we started with Apologia about the same time as TOG.  We love Apologia and will stay with it.
    One thing new that we tried and loved is Lapbooks.  You can make your own, but I preferred premade ones.   All we have to do is just write in and assemble.  Remember your time is precious, this saves me time.  I have lapbooks for our science and our tapestry work. 
    I really like how well rounded Tapestry is, with it's study of history, maps and timelines. 
   Right now I have the girls in Lower Grammar level, Bevan in Upper Grammar and Bradon is Dialectic. 
   The 3 younger ones do science together.  Bradon is working on his own for science.   Both boys are working on Easy Grammar at their own level.   Bevan also has Building Thinking Skills level 2.   Bradon has the level 3 as well as The Fallacy Detective.
   Everyone does German together.  We use Power Glide.

   So this is the journey we've been on.  What may come up I don't know, but that's what makes the journey an adventure.  I love having my kids at home with me.  It's not a piece of cake, there are not so easy days, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homeschooling Part 2 Math

      I had made huge mistakes with Bradon's Math.  I had started him in Saxon Math, but switched to Alpha Omega.  I don't remember what I did for grade 3 if I did anything.  In grade 4 and 5 I went back to Saxon.  It is a great program, but we had some problems. 
     First of all Bradon knew his multiplication, but his computation (speed) with these problems was very slow.  The repetition of skills in the Math book frustrated him when it came to something he'd already mastered.  I kept pushing him through (as if I had not learned from this mistake before). 
      When I had him tested in grade 6, I discovered we were way behind.  I had missed something.  Probably jumping from one Math curriculum to the other hadn't helped. 
     Trivium's theory of not using Academic Math before age 10 was really starting to make sense to me.   We put all the books away and just worked on flash cards and speed drills for a couple months.
     When it was finally time to move back to books I chose something new.  I know, I know! 
     I found Teaching Textbooks.   I wanted Bradon to have a tutor on the computer, since Math is not my forte!   I have always resisted having an actual online teacher, I relish my independence.   (This may change as we hit grade 10, but we'll deal with that later.)   I love Teaching Textbooks!  Bradon passed Grade 7 Math with 85%. 
    I have bought TT Math for Bevan's grade 5.  Natalie really wanted to do Math on the computer too, so I got her the grade 4, but it's just for fun really.  I would like to stick to the no formal Math until age 10.  She will be 10 this summer. 
     It's not that we don't do any Math before age 10.  We measure our baking and creating, we learn our numbers and how to write them.  We count, we add, subtract, and Multiply.  All in games and everyday life, not sitting down and doing pages.  I do have math pages from old Saxon books and it's a good thing too because Ashley loves them!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Something about Dirt

     There just is something about dirt. Good old fashioned clean dirt;) Once you get your hands into it you've gotta keep going and you don't want to stop. Not to answer the phone, or settle a fight or go make dinner.
     Pulling up weeds, freeing up the budding flowers (and some already blooming) it just feels good. You get a sense of accomplishment immediately.
     The dirt smells good and earthy.  I could tend to my garden all day if "they" would let me. "They" are all the other little things that need caring for in the day. The children, the laundry, the cooking and whatever else there is.
     The dirt calls my name. I'm dreaming of pulling up all the day lilies, separating them, then replanting them. Once the tulips die I will propagate them as well. Replanting the ones I like giving away the ones I don't.
     Good old dirt. I like how it feels to dig in to it and grab a hold of some weedy root and rip it out! Patting the disheveled soil back in around the tender flower stalk.
     I can't wait until we get to start the veggie garden!
    I've been avoiding my flower beds, simply because the trees are trying to murder me. Seriously! They are out to get me, choking off my air supple any chance they get. So I hide indoors where they can't find me, with my air purifier and the evil anti-histamines.
     I am looking forward to just spending a whole day or more in the dirt.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Homeschool Journey Part 1

      We've been homeschooling since Bradon was 5 yrs old, well officially anyways. I believe you are "teaching" your kids long before they hit school books.
      I've tried a few different methods of homeschooling.
     Bradon's kindergarten year we used correspondence with the local public school. It was lots of learning colours that we already knew. Numbers that we already knew. Lots of crafts that were fun, and stories that were fun too. I was so glad that I had gone with my instincts and used my own Phonics Program along side these lessons. Bradon loved the Fun Family Phonics, it was his favorite part of the day. If I had only used the public schools plan Bradon would have learned the sounds of only 5 letters his first year.       Instead Bradon was reading 3 letter words before he got half way through the school year. By the end of Grade K he was reading 3 word sentences.
      I don't remember what we did for Grade 1, but I DO remember Grade 2! It was the worst year ever! Everyday he would cry that he didn't want to do school, I would make him do the work books. We were using Alpha Omega, which works great for some kids, but not for us. We were both in tears everyday. I felt like a failure and seriously questioned why we were homeschooling him in the first place! Then he said it, the words I dreaded, "I hate school!". I didn't know what to do. I didn't want his experience with education to be something he hated, especially this early in the game. I knew that if we continued like this I would see a bright little boy shut off learning and possibly never excel in something he could be really great at.
      I prayed like crazy. God is always good, and when He tells you a direction to go He does not leave you there to fend for yourself. He is always there to lead you.
     And lead me He did. I began to find out more information about homeschooling. That there were different ways to do this. The clincher for me was when a beautiful homeschool Mom said to me,
     "It is not my goal to finish the curriculum, it is my goal to give my child a LOVE for LEARNING."
     That rang in my ears. My child did not LOVE learning, in fact quite the opposite. I decided right then what we needed to do, and threw the work books out the window! (Not literally)
     So now what? I of course started reading some great articles from Cindy Rushton. I read her Charlotte Mason Homeschooling. I gleaned so much from her. I also read her Homeschooling the Easy Way.
     From Cindy Rushton I found Ambleside Online a free curriculum. I used this for Bradon's 3rd and 4th year. He loved reading the stories and learning about Vikings. I think the Viking Tales were his favorite.
     By the time Bradon was finishing 4th grade there were 3 kidlets behind him. Bevan had been working through Fun Family Phonics and was moving on to bigger things. Natalie was just beginning Phonics and Numbers and Ashley was hot on Nat's heels. I need something more then Ambleside, well I felt anyway. About that time I heard about Tapestry of Grace. I downloaded the 3 week sample and fell in love. Yes I fell in love with it's design, it's worldview from a biblical perspective and it's use of great books. The weekly outlines were perfect for me as it gave me guidelines on what to do each week. Yet it left me room to decide which day we did them. I loved that we could all work in the same topic at our different levels.
     I also read Teaching the Trivium and have found it to be true and so helpful in so many ways. I totally agree that Grammar and Formal Math lessons should wait until around age 10. Just like Tapestry Teaches there are 3 stages of learning, so does the Trivium. Grammar Stage Lower and Upper, Dialectic, Rhetoric.
     I think I am more of a Trivium teacher rather then a Classical one, simple because I don't believe in starting things until the child is ready. I've had early readers and late ones. They all get there in good time. I have not yet started any Latin or Hebrew with my students, they aren't ready yet:)
     In Part 2 I'll finish the story and tell you about our Math and Science.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What have I been up to?

     Oh not to much. I did however make my own laundry soap yesterday. I was a little disappointed in the selection in this town for a laundry bar of soap. Granted I did not look at the Health food store or the Happy tree for the infamous "Zote" soap.
I did however scour both Grocery stores and Wal-Mart!
    I settled for sunlight bar of pure soap. Got the Borax and Washing Soda. The recipe I used was:
1 bar of soap grated
1 1/2 cups of Borax
1 1/2 cups of Washing Soda
   Be careful not to breathe in the powders while pouring (not that I did that). Mix with your hands. Blend in your blender or bullet (like me). It makes about a margarine tub amount.
Use 1 Tbsp for small loads and 2 Tbsp for large or soiled loads.
    I have heard some people add 1/4 cup of Oxyclean to their mix for added brightness.

    I've only done one load of laundry and so far so good. The real test will be when the baby is wearing her newly washed clothes, we'll see how her eczema does.
    It was kinda fun making my own stuff.
I also read how to make my own yogurt, from starter yogurt. I might try it.
I want to start composting too!

    Have you got any frugal tips to help save money in your home? Or changing something to help the environment?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The chickies!

      We're sad we didn't get our little chickies yesterday. Something went wrong with the batch and now we're waiting until May 6th.
     I'm really excited about having chickens. I've wanted to do this for a year now. Never have I ever wanted farm animals, except maybe a horse, so I really surprised myself with this one. I think it goes with my quest for eating more organic and eating more local. Maybe? 
      When I read about the back yard chickens I thought, "wow" I could really do this!   I have a big back yard, who's gonna care about 3 little chickens back there?!   Well, when I first told Josh about it he was kind of not really into it, but he said yes. So I got right to it, researching chicken tractors, getting books from the library.   I had the breed of chicken that I liked, the Araucanas or Easter Eggers, and maybe a black one and a red one to colour up the yard!  
    Then Josh said he wanted Bantys, or Bantams as they are called, so I dropped my idea.  I was determined to make this an "us" project rather then a "me" one.  Big problem, I could not find Bantams anywhere!  None local anyway.  Fall was fast approaching and I knew I would not get chicks that year.  
   My great friend K said she wanted chickens too and she'd heard that we could order from Rochester Hatchery in Alberta.   That's how we both got here, anticipating the arrival of our new babies. 
    K and her family ordered the Buff Orpingtons which are not bantams but still a very pretty, friendly chicken, which is also a dual purpose bird.  Which means that they lay eggs and you can eat them.  I kind of thought that every chicken was dual purpose, but apparently not.  I am told that while you could eat them (layers) they may be tough and not so yummy.   The meat birds which are really tasty don't lay eggs well.   Hmm, what you can learn about a chicken!
       Well at Rochester they do have some rules about ordering.  We had to order 10 Bantams, unsexed (which means we get both girls and boys), and no choice of the 4 breeds they sell.   All that is fine with me, the 4 breeds are nice and I wanted a bouquet of chickens.   I just have to convince my "no butchering" hubby that it's ok for his Dad to kill the roosters for me.  Or he could just let me breed them and then I could be the number one Bantam seller in the northwest!  Ah, that might be a stretch, there's probably a reason why they aren't that popular up here.

    Here's some pictures I found of what our little babies should look like. We will have Black Cochin, Golden Sebright, White Silkies and Silver Duckwing Old English.

Aren't they cute! These are Black Cochin chicks

Black Cochin Hen, Rooster and chicks

Oh I just love the babies! Golden Sebright

Golden Sebright family

Aww, look at those Silkie babies!

Ok, I have to be honest here, these birds are not exactly my type but oh well.

White Silkie Adults

Cute little Silver Duckwing babies

The whole Duckwing family, Isn't the Rooster Magnificent!

And in case you were wondering about the Buff Orpingtons

They are pretty too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Water and a can opener

       First and foremost I hope, in the way of being prepared, that you are all prepared for eternity.  Since eternity lasts so much longer then our time here on earth it should be the most important thing that one prepares for. So if Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, please answer! Do not let the seriousness of salvation to be over looked or over shadowed, by anything we may fritter or fret over in this life. We are but a vapor in the wind.
    I have not clearly laid out the way of salvation here, if you need me to do that I'd be more then happy to, just e-mail me! :)

     And now to the matter at hand, a small one when compared to everlasting life, but one that we need to look at was we spend our days here, waiting and doing the Lord's work!

     What would you do if the power as out for 3 days or more?  If it happened right now, I can honestly tell you my family would not make it.

(Of course the Lord does provide all our needs, so I am fairly certain that He would provide a way for us to survive if He really wanted us too. Now back to the story.)

   We don't have any water stored. I've thought of it, but with all the talk of plastic poisonous bottles, how safe is it to leave water in those plastic containers?
    I only have an electric can opener so I guess we can forget about eating all those canned goods we've bought.
    I store most of our extra food in the freezer. With no power that would all go bad within a couple days.

    I having been reading little bits from the Homestead Revival gal. I love her ideas. I want to do all of it, of course I probably won't.
     Now she's is planning for 3 or more months off the "grid". That's too big for me to even think about right now, although it would make a good long time goal.
   I heard once that you should have at least enough water and supplies to get you and your family through 3 days with out electricity or help. That's a very doable goal for me right now. I think the next time I'm grocery shopping I'm going to buy water. I will cringe thinking about those BPAs and such in the plastic, but it beats dying of dehydration! Don't forget the can opener! I need a non-electric one. Then we can eat those cans of beans!
     Water and can opener, my first plan of preparedness!

Well besides Salvation that is!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Urban Farmer

     It seems these days we hear a lot about "sustainability". Talk about a world food shortage, and don't forget to eat organic.

   It does make good sense to be able to feed yourself and your family, no matter what's going on at the grocery store or in the world.
    To live a "simple" life is not really what it sounds like. Things are not necessarily easy or simple and often will actually cost a lot of elbow grease and time.   Some good old fashioned hard work will help you live the simple life.

   Not that hard work is bad by any means,but you first need to evaluate how much you are willing to do, and where you are going to get the time to do it.
   I love the idea of having fresh eggs right here on my back lawn. We have some bantam chickens coming this spring and when they are mature enough they will give us tiny little eggs. If we find that these eggs are not sufficient for our family we may have a bunch of Bantam pets. The idea is that we are starting small.
    I have been itching to start a garden on my land, but that may not be the best use of my yard. You see my sweet Mother-in-love lives down the road a few blocks and has a huge garden. We have been more then welcomed in joining her to plant, weed and harvest over the years and we have. I have always been grateful for the garden and the wisdom cultivated there from the experienced gardeners, Mom and Dad.
    Starting my own garden with one so close at hand would not be the best use of our space, I think.
    My friend B sent this clip to me and I encourage everyone to visit the website Real food guide by Hellmans
    Ok I'm having trouble posting the video clip, but you can watch it on the Hellmans website.
    The jest of it is to eat Canadian produce, we import way more then we export.

   One thing I think I will do is start a herb and lettuce garden. Next year, when we're use to having chickens, I'm going to ask Josh to build me a little green house! Or maybe I'll ask for a miniature dairy goat!:)

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Ashley Girl

  This post is actually for April 8th Ashley's birthday.  For some reason I never get to blog when Josh is home!

   My little Ashley turned 8 on the 8th!  I can't believe 8 years have flown by.  Last year after she turned 7 she had to keep reminding me she was 7, whenever someone would ask her age I would always say 6! 
   Ashley is full of energy and laughter.  She is the truest form of a live wire if there ever was one.  She makes us all laugh.  If you need a hand she's the first one to run and help.  She loves to go anywhere you go.  She is concerned with how each person feels, and she seeks to make everyone happy.  She is also very loud, you can never mistake that she is not around, if she is you will know it!
   Ashley loves the Lord and is memorizing scripture to get over her fear.  She reads at a level way above grade 2.  She loves art and is always drawing, writing and creating.  She began with crayons on my walls at 1 1/2 yrs.  Not just on walls but herself as well!  Thankfully she now has learned not to do that! 
  Right now she's outside helping her Daddy do yard work!
Ashley at a few weeks

Ashley about 4 or 5 months

Ashley's first Birthday!

Ashley 7yrs, making a fort for her baby sister

Ashley on her 8th B-Day! (her friend Miss Ry there too:)

I love you my Ashley Girl! 

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Boy

       The years seem to fly by don't they? It doesn't feel like 11yrs ago today that my second boy made his way into this world.  Weighing 8lbs 11oz. What a sweet little baby boy.

      He is still a sweetie. My little softy. He loves babies, he's a big mush. He is organized and likes to keep his room clean. He likes to pack wood, only because it builds big muscles!
     He is still just as cuddly as when he was little.  He doesn't like to play in the rain and he hates getting water on his clothes.  He can get very annoyed with us if we change plans on him, (a little like his mom that way).
       He's also a little ham, he makes us laugh a lot. Maybe he'll be a comedian one day, or maybe a reporter like he wants to.
       It seems like yesterday he was that cute little baby. Now he's a handsome boy. Ready to take on his older brother, maybe;)

Oh ya, he loves to play drums and his favorite colour is green.

Happy Birthday my Bevan! I love you!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Organic food

     My lovely sister-in law and I were discussing grocery shopping and of course that lead to organic produce. We were talking about how expensive it is to eat healthy. We were thinking that maybe having less meat meals might be cost effective, but that isn't an option for her meat eating hubby;) It was pointed out that meat maybe a large chunk of the bill, but produce costs just as much, if we're talking about portions. The small amount of meat you need compared to the large amount of fruits and veggies we are suppose to consume, both are major munchers of moneys.
      Of course if you want to eat organic, and not feed yourself and your children all the poisonous pesticides, then you're going to be spending even more. Organic produce costs a lot more then non-organic. How are we going to be able to feed our families healthy foods and not break the bank??
      Well I'm not even going to talk about organic meat, or the fact that "needing" milk is a myth. I'm just going to focus on the veggies.
      My sweet sister pointed out that there is an option to eating healthy and being money smart. There is such a thing as the "Dirty Dozen". Follow the link and download the list. What it is, is a list of the dirtiest and cleanest produce. Dirtiest meaning pesticides. On another website they quoted: "It is estimated that if a consumer avoids eating non-organically grown produce in the top 12 ("Dirty Dozen") on this list, pesticide exposure can be reduced by up to 80%. This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from approximately 87,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of the 47 fruits and vegetables listed between 2000 and 2007".
      I printed out the list of Dirty 12 and Clean 15. It will go on my fridge and I will follow it for buying my organic produce.

      Something else I found that I think is even better then buying organic produce at the store. Terrace Local Foods/Sustainable living meet up group. I think this is terrific. If we can buy and sell our food locally to each other we're not only doing ourselves a huge favor, but the environment too. I joined! I won't be able to make it to the first meeting, birthday party here, but hopefully the next one.

      I think my closing thoughts are, Think Clean, Think Green:)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Homeschool Conventions

      I love homeschooling. I'm so glad that God put it upon our hearts to homeschool our kids. The road has not always been easy. There have been tears, both mine and theirs. Days where it seems we never get anything we planned done, and days where it all goes well.
      One thing I've always wanted to do is attend a homeschool convention. I would love to sit in and listen to the homeschool pioneers. Gleaning all that wisdom and those great ideas to get your kids working, learning and having fun! Wandering through oodles of homeschool curriculum booths! (Oh ya baby!) Getting a goody bag with some free stuff! Hanging out with Mom's just like me, trying to school their kids, raise their kids and keep a home and husband at the same time! (Phew that's exhausting!)
         Alas, I have never been to one. Every year I scan the websites of conventions and dream about being there. I even try to order the cds to listen to the speakers.
       Despite the fact that I have never been to a homeschool conference I have been successfully teaching my kids for 8 years. By successfully I don't mean that everyday is perfect, or that we've never scraped a curriculum and found a better one midyear. What I do mean is that we haven't given up. If something isn't working we figure it out. And I don't mean that if you don't homeschool anymore or you've chosen not to that you are doing something wrong.
        This is our story and not meant to offend anyone and I place none of my ideals in raising kids upon you or anyone else. You must follow how the Lord leads you, just as I must follow how He leads me. Some to homeschool, some to not, some to teach, some to preach, some to heal, some to speak in tongues!
        Any whoo! I define successful homeschooling by giving my children a LOVE for learning, not that we finish any curriculum plan.
       Well after all that here's the big thing I was leading up to. Since I have never been able to attend a homeschool conference in person I am so excited about an online one.
What a great way for a busy Mom to participate! It's right here at The Old School House Magazine. I've gotten lots of encouragement from TOS over the past couple of years.
          I'm so glad they are doing an online conference. I will be able to enjoy the speakers right here at my "desk" in my jammies! They have a goodie bag of E-Books. Plus there an online vendor hall! Fun! Well ok not as great as wandering through booths of curriculum that you can thumb through and drool over. But this way you can still see the stuff and no one will see you drool! Oh ya and there are door prizes too!               
     So I'm gonna sign up and attend my own personal homeschool conference in my house.
     I still one day would like to go to one in person, with a bunch of my homeschool Mom friends. That would be so fun! But this will do, for now;)