Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God’s truth


You say: 'It's impossible'
God says: All things are possible
(Luke 18:27)

You say: 'I'm too tired'
God says: I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: 'Nobody really loves me'
God says: I love you
(John 3:1 6 & John 3:34 )

You say: 'I can't go on'
God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: 'I can't figure things out'
God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: 'I can't do it'
God says: You can do all things
(Philippians 4:13)

You say: 'I'm not able'
God says: I am able
(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: 'It's not worth it'
God says: It will be worth it
(Roman 8:28 )

You say: 'I can't forgive myself'
God says: I Forgive you
(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: 'I can't manage'
God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say: 'I'm afraid'
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: 'I'm always worried and frustrated'
God says: Cast all your cares on ME
(I Peter 5:7)

You say: 'I'm not smart enough'
God says: I give you wisdom
(I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: 'I feel all alone'
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you
(Hebrews 13:5)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exploring nature in our city

This week’s question on the blog cruise is:
“How do you do nature studies where YOU live?”

Nature studies can be done everywhere we go in our city.   We are blessed beyond measures with a greenbelt around our city.  You can download the all seasons trail map here.

Not only that but there is a multitudes of trails and parks where we can go an explore around.  Look at what I found on our city’s website…

  • More than 850 parks within City boundaries

  • Maintains 2,853 hectares of parkland

  • 6, 648 hectares of natural parkland

  • 9,501 hectares of open space

  • 234 km of trails or 0.27 km of trails per 1,000 persons

  • So there is tons of opportunity of exploring and discovering nature around us.   Within a 10-15 minutes drive you can find nice trails and go explore with your family.   

    One of the special places I would love to go (yes in 10 years living here, I still haven’t find the time to drive the 40 minutes to go there… shame on us!) is the Mer Bleu area.  

    We are also within driving distance (about 30 minutes) from the famous Gatineau Park which is Canada’s Capital Conservation Park.  While there you can also visit the Mackenzie King Estate which would include a bit of history in the homeschool.

    Even in my own neighbourhood, there is one walking trail within 5 minutes of our house – literally!   
    Honestly, there is no reason whatsoever to not study nature in our area.  There is plenty to do and it is good exercises too.

    During winter, we could go skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway and enjoy the Beaver Tails.  

    Our Museum of Nature has just reopens its doors this past spring after major renovations.   We haven’t had the time to visit it yet but I am planning to go to it during the school year. 

    And to complete our time to study nature, we are blessed to have the visit of wild rabbits in our backyard as well as some birds.    So every once in a while, we observe the rabbits and enjoy their presence.   This year, we also had the privilege to see a squirrel running on the fence.   The kids were pleased to see that little animal.  

    I think it is a blessing in itself to see nature through the eyes of a child.   It amazes me how much they get excited for little things – even ladybugs.

    Earlier this summer, we discovered a dead dragonfly when we came out of the house.  How it got on our porch we have no idea but having the opportunity to see one up close was wonderful.   While on vacation, we found a dead butterfly stuck in the front of our truck.  Once again, it was a good opportunity to see one close and discover the fragility of its wings.   I am planning to pin it in a special frame.    Should be a fun activity don’t you think?

    A few years ago, we participated in an activity at Petrie Island (totally at the other side of the city for us) on turtle hatching.   We learned about turtles and went on to try to discover a nest.   My kids did found one and we also found plenty of left over egg shells as well.   It was fun.    

    The following spring, as we were opening our trailer for upcoming season, we witnessed a turtle laying her eggs in the ground.    It was priceless and a wonderful opportunity to complete the previous activity we did back in the previous fall.

    There there is the fishing.    The kids loves to go on the boat with daddy and spent some time on the lake at Logos Land.    They have the opportunity to observe fishes, turtles, frogs, a family of loons (every year) and more.   This year, my 2nd son, Dominic, even saw a water snake during his one-on-one time with daddy.  And when we were at Science North in Sudbury, the kids had the opportunity to touch a variety of animals – water snakes, flying squirrels (which we didn’t know existed in Ontario), turtles and much more.

    When you go out with your kids, don’t forget a camera to snap9-21-2010 7;00;35 AM memories.   Recently, we started some sort of nature journal and are collecting trunk samples of trees we encounter.   We also stencil the trunk as well as a leave.  When we get back home, we try to find the type of tree and write it down on the page.   This way the kids are  discovering a new way to learn about trees. On the right, you can see the example of a paper birch (Betula papyrifera).   Did you know that this tree was used by Native peoples for birchbark canoes, baskets, and message paper?  (See the pictures below - taken at Elliot Lake Uranium and Mining Museum)

    Discovering nature is easy.   Take the time to bring your kids outside and walk in trails.   Get a book about trees, birds, plants, and animals to learn the names of them.
    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    My Favourite Homeschool Resources

    This week question for the blog cruise is:
    “What are your favourite resources for  ____ age/grade?  (age/grade that you are teaching)”
    Well first I have to tell you that I have four kids.   Their ages are 2 (almost 3), 4 (almost 5), 6 and 9.
    So technically I have a toddler going on to become a preschooler, a senior kindergartner, a grade 1 and a grade 4 students.   So here are my favourite homeschool resources for these grades. Notice that I have a SPECIFIC GRADES section and an ALL GRADES section.
    Toddler/Preschool 51B1  CUsCL__SL500_AA300_  Passe-Partout videos. Blocks. Puzzles. Crayons and paper.   You name it you got it.   This is the age where a child will play more and discover.   I would read and read and read more.   Learning the colors and forms as well as alphabet and numbers would be on the priority list.  Jasmine is in that age group and I know that I need to spend time with her alone.   One on one is important at any age and I don’t want her to feel that I don’t take care of her.  
    Kindergartner AlphabetBeatsDVD3dSetpicturesm
    Last year I had the privilege to review a wonderful product that teaches the child to write the alphabet.   I received the lowercase DVD and it was a wonderful addition in our homeschool.  Jérémy was in preschool when we product tested it and he loved it.  Even Jasmine who had turned two back in December would sit with him and repeat after the TVTeacher.   It was adorable and learning was there.   LOVE IT!   To read my review about alphabet beats please click here.
    Rocket_hero Rocket Phonics for an introduction of phonics and reading.    I am planning to use this with Jérémy on a more regular basis this year.  To read my review of Rocket Phonics, please go here.

    GRADE 1 To improve reading in English, I will continue using Rocket Phonics with Dominic.   He is getting there and is looking forward to go buy his own Bible with Dad (with lunch included).   It is a tradition for us when a child is able to read by himself.   
    ImageTool For French reading, I am using Je Lis, J’écris…  from Guérin.  They have various books for all levels of primary school.   Dominic will start with book 1 this year.   

    GRADE 4 EG4TED  For English grammar I really like the Easy Grammar products.    I discovered them through a friend of mine and Alexandre loved it last year.   Even I learned during the last year when we first tackled this curriculum.   So this year, we are doing the grade 4 book and I expect that we will learn more interesting lessons in English grammar.
    I will also continue with the Je lis… J’écris… for Alexandre this year.    His reading has blossomed with this product and I am satisfied with it.
    MATHEMATICS logo5 Maths.   Yikes I hate it at one point in my life.   But I have discovered a wonderful curriculum that will use multi-sensory tools and will help the student to engage visually, auditory, and kinesthetically throughout the lessons.  Here’s how they describe Math-U-See.
    “Math-U-See is broken down to teach students specific skills that build as the student progresses. This systematic and cumulative approach uses a definite, logical sequence of concept instruction. The Math-U-See system is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing concepts.”
    Math-U-See information can be found at their website -
    FRENCH image As you might know, French is our mother tongue.  We live in a city/country who is predominantly English.   Consequently, we want our kids to be able to read, write and converse in both official languages.   We searched for a few years before finally discovering the products we particularly love in French.   
    Les Éditions de l’Envolée have some interesting curriculum that is reproducible (which is a plus for us).   The best part is that I can buy the ones I want via internet in PDF files directly.    For our French grammar products, I am using the Grammaire series which will go from grade 1 to grade 6.    The also have interesting products about coloring the grammar which my kids loves.  
    9782895813934 For French writing and reading comprehension, we have discovered a wonderful curriculum which contains two years per binder for a total of three binders for the whole elementary levels.   À Vos Marques contains reading and writing exercises to do with your child (reproducible).   This year Dominic will go through the grade 1-2 book and Alexandre will go through the grade 3-4 book.    Next year I will have to purchase the grade 5-6 binder.
    AWANA AwanaClubs-Logo Okay I admit that this is not a curriculum per say but it is a great activity for your kids to participate.  Not only will they make friends with others kids but they will learn more about the Bible and memorize scriptures.   I know that I also learned a lot last year when my kids participated for the first time.   They are so looking forward to go this year.   Jasmine will be in Cubbies, Jérémy and Dominic will be in Sparks and Alexandre will be in T&T again this year.    Mom and Dad will have a dating evening which sounds fantastic to us!   A date a week – can we ask for more?  
    HISTORY MOHVol1-2ndEdCover This year I am also planning to incorporate more history.   I had started Mystery of History two years ago but being new at homeschooling, I quickly put it aside because I wanted to concentrate on reading, writing and arithmetic.   Now that I am more comfortable with the basics, history will be more fun to enjoy.  What I like about this curriculum is that the same lesson can be done by various grades with less or more complicated tasks depending of the age of the child.   To learn more about Mystery of History, please click here.
    GEOGRAPHY MapsCDcovers Geography is another subject that I am incorporating this year.   And I have been blessed beyond my expectations with a variety of wonderful products since January (and it didn’t cost me much).   Most of the products I got I received for free at a time when I was wondering how in the world I would include geography when we didn’t have much money.   My favourite product is the Old World Style Maps from Homeschool In The Woods.  I am impressed with the quality of the maps and the activities linked with the learning.    I hope that someday this publisher will create a similar product for Canadian geography!
    SCIENCE If you are looking for a science curriculum with creation flavor in it, I would suggest that you look into the products that Master Books have.   They have wonderful books on Creation for various ages, physics, chemistry and much more.    I’ve reviewed a few of them in the past two years on Canadianladybug Reviews! – to access them click here.
    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    The myth of mommy time

    This week question for the Blog Cruise is:

    “How do you find free time?  Is it ok to take time for yourself?  If so, how?”

    Me time.    It is something that the world is pushing left and right, back and forth.   It has been years now that we hear the Me, Myself and I expression and we see this attitude being more present in the new generation.

    But can we really have free time and time for ourselves when we have decided to homeschool?   Is it realistic to think that way?   My answer to this is a simple NO.   It is not realistic to think that way.   Homeschooling is a lifestyle that will bring you to spend lots of time with your children.   So if you expect having time for yourself while embarking in the adventure of homeschooling, you better remove those pink sunglasses right away because your “ME” time will be reduce to almost nothing.  

    Notice that I said almost nothing.  Why?   Well, if you have a spouse who is willing to support you and that encourage you in pursuing the homeschool adventure, well you can be assure that this spouse will also make efforts to give you some much needed time to decompress and relax once in a while.  

    These days, I’ve seen comments from people who send their kids to school.   Comments like “It the most wonderful time of the year!” and “I can’t wait for the kids to be at school, I’m tired of the bickering and the fights.”.   Part of me are sad for these people because I sense that they don’t realize how blessed they are to have their children.  And I wish I could encourage them to  consider homeschool because that way they will have the privilege to get to know their kids better. 

    Do I get discourage sometimes and want to give up?  Yes I do.   But I have been blessed with an understanding husband who knows how to encourage me.    Since last year, he has send me to our RV alone so I can have some time alone to recharge my batteries and to connect with God amidst the busyness of homeschooling.   It was very good and by the time my two days were up, I missed my family very much.
    During the school year, I also recharge myself by taking naps sometimes and by reading.    Reading has always been an important part of me.   I love to read – actually I devour books.    And thanks to a friend I discovered the world of reviewing books and blogging about it.    I love it and it feeds the bookworm living inside me.  *grin*

    Something else I do sometimes would be creating cards and scrapbooking.  I must admit though that scrapbooking has been on the back burner for a while now but I hope to reconnect with this hobby during the coming year.

    My solution is not very fancy and doesn’t require caffeine (even though a chocolate or two once in a while would be perfect!).   It is not expensive like getting a pedicure or a manicure (I got my first one for my 40th birthday and it was nice but it won’t be something I would do regularly though!).   But it can be sometimes a movie out with a friend or a day activity like going to Mud Oven (which by the way I just got a rebate from Groupon.).

    No realistically finding a “ME” time while homeschooling is not something you can have on a day to day basis but with effort and creativity, you can create some special time to recharge your batteries once in a while.  
    Having said that – I think I will go enjoy a Three Musketeers chocolate bar and savour it.
    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Standing up and persevering

    This week question for the blog cruise is:
    “How do you respond to family/friends that don’t support your decision to homeschool?”

    I wish I could say I had support and encouragement from a person close to me.   She did found interesting resources and got them for us.  But at the same time, I know that she doesn’t approve for various reasons.

    I got a confirmation of this while talking on the phone one day.   She was worried about how the kids will be able to adapt when they would go to school.   Not enough interactions with kids their age, do they cover the proper material than if they would be in school, would they be able to advance in life, and so on.   The final blow was that I didn’t have a teaching degree to do so.   That was the cherry on the top of the melted sunday if you ask me.    I mean can I honestly not homeschool my kids after what we went through in Senior Kindergarten with Alexandre with his exposure of same sex marriage (in a catholic school) as well as lack of supervision and too much television for our taste?   I understand that not all teachers are the same but still.    Besides, I know I don’t have a teacher’s degree but I do have a Master Degree (not required for homeschool but I was trying to make a point here). 

    Then I told her what I also did to prepare myself to homeschool.   I investigated, I researched, I asked questions to people I knew who were doing it, I even went downtown to get the Ministry of Education books on each subjects and levels to determine what needs to be covered at what age.   I worked hard to determine which curriculum would be a best fit for us.  We cover English and French which might be too much but we think are necessary for our kids living in the capital region.    We make sure they go to activities with others kids like swimming and Awana.   

    I was pumped.    And as I am writing this, I am almost in tears because honestly I wish I had her support.    It would be so much easier I find.    You see this person is my own mother.    I love her very much but I find it hard when I am criticized like that. 

    That phone conversation was difficult on me.   It brought me doubts and I had to deal with them and with being borderline depressed for a few weeks after.   I’m over it now.   I realize that what God called me to do I must do.    We prayed about homeschooling our kids.  We are taking it one month at a time.  If for any reasons, it doesn’t work we have backup plans.  

    Are there other people around us that doesn’t approve.  I think so.   I won’t name names or talk about them because they never said out loud what they think of us homeschooling.  But we can sense their disapproval and their eyes watching to see what would happen to our kids later in life.

    But honestly, we are also prepare for it whenever they speak up.   We have in hands reports about the effect of homeschooling on people who did it which we received from HSLDA Canada.    Just looking at this report is encouraging for us. 

    Our decision of homeschooling is hopefully for a long time.   But as anything else in our life, we put it in the hands of God and trust him to guide us through it.   Homeschooling is a lifestyle and it’s not for everyone.  We love it.   We thrive in it.  We learn together as a family every single day of the year.   Sometimes you are call to swim against the current.   That’s what we are doing with homeschooling.   


    Personal blog of a homeschool family. We love to travel with our RV when we can. Fishing, discovering new places, photography are some of our favourite activities!


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