Monday, January 31, 2011

365 Project–Day 26

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

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Backward hat…. Mommy I can only see from one eye!   Maybe she is pretending to be an one eyed monster?

Increasing your family

This week question for the blog cruise is:

“How to homeschool while pregnant or with a new baby?”

This is a very good question.

And even though I am not expecting or have a baby anymore, I can write about it because three years ago I experienced it.

WoW!  Time flies…

My baby days are over until my own kids have children of their own.   But when we entered in our homeschool journey I was expecting our fourth child.

What made it easy for me is that fortunately I had only one child to homeschool back then – my oldest son who was entering grade 1.

How did I planned it – knowing that I would have a c-section in December and a brand new baby for the new year?   I decided to give a big boom like we say and advanced as much as I could before the month of December.2007_08_17_06_49_00

I must admit that we started earlier that year – right in the beginning of August and that throughout of that school year, I concentrated on the basic skills of writing, reading and mathematics.   This gave me the confidence to pursue homeschooling and not having too much on my shoulder as my family was adjusting in the arrival of our only daughter.    I must also be honest with you in admitting that I had also planned to do Mystery of History but somehow it was too much for a new homeschooler so I decided to drop it with plans to pick it up eventually in the years to come.   I am just starting to re-consider it…

2007_11_30_13_41_48While homeschooling Alexandre and letting the other ones play and get use to the new schedule as well, I was able to take my time and savour the joy of homeschooling without too much stress.  Have only the basics to concentrate on what a definite plus for me.    I didn’t have to worry much about history, geography and science.   We did a bit of these subjects but having our family life getting use to the homeschool and welcoming a new baby in our midst was enough changes for that year.

Baby Jasmine joined us in December – just in time for Christmas.   It was nice to take a break and enjoy our new daughter.   Alexandre had advanced quite a bit in his school so he was able to enjoy life with 6 people in the family.    Looking back, I realize that I was blessed back then to have a child who is gifted with an extraordinary memory and who has facility to learn.    I realize now that he is an easy child to learn.   Not all my kids are like that and I realize that I need to be flexible to adapt my style of teaching to their style of learning.  

That first year, taking one day at a time was the smartest thing I did.   Concentrating on the basics was another smart move.    Welcoming a new little one in a family can bring changes and disruptions in the regular schedules.   Take the time to adjust your pace and take it slower.    In the end, it will be beneficial for you, your family and your homeschool.

 

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Destination Disney–Unique Disney Picture

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My friend Heidi, at Reviews & Reflections, has a meme titled Destination Disney.

This week she asked that we post a unique Disney Picture.

Well, the last time we went to Disney was in 1998 during our honeymoon.

But I found this picture quite unique…. You don’t see these everywhere…LOL

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365 Project–Day 25

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

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Waiting for warmer days….

Sausage Penne Kick

My husband loves to create new recipes when he can.   In fact, it is well known in his family that when he was younger he wanted to open a restaurant.

Every now and then, he takes whatever we have and created a new meal.

Yesterday was such a day as he decided to created a new meal for supper…

And what he made was super DELICIOUS!   

Here’s the recipe

Sausage Penne Kick

1 L homemade diced tomatoes

1 L homemade onion jelly

1 L homemade tomato sauce

1 big onion chopped

Mushrooms to taste

Hot sauce to taste

1/2 tbsp crushed clove

1/2 tbspo parsley

10 links of cooked Italian sausages, sliced

1/2 bag of pasta cooked (we used penne but you could used rotini or radiatore)

 

Cooked the onion and the mushrooms.

Stir in clove, parsley, as well as diced tomatoes, onion jelly, tomato sauce and hot sauce. 

Let simmer a little.   Add the Italian sausage and the pasta.

 

Bon Appétit!

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iHomeschool

As homeschoolers we know the important of introducing our children to technology. To do so, most of us at least have computers at home. On them you can find games, educational software and productivity software. But homeschooling can also be done while using a Nintendo DS, the Wii, the iPod or iPhone. Allow me to present to you some of the ones I’ve discovered so far.

Nintendo DS

Nintendo has been on the market for many years but not until a couple of years ago have I realized the possibilities to use it as a homeschool tool. Yes we do have games to go on it but we also have some educational titles. Have you ever looked into Brain Age I and II as well as Flash Focus? These games are quite interesting in training your brain and eyes. Since the apparition of these games, you can now find a multitude of “brain” type games on the market from various companies. Also, I would like to present you some of the other interesting games I have discovered over the past year that might be of interest to you.

My Spanish Coach helps you to learn Spanish while having fun. You will learn Spanish vocabulary, grammar and sentence structures while you go through a series of games. There are over 1,000 interactive lessons and you can learn 10,000 words and 700 phrases. You can also test your pronunciation by recording your voice using the built-in microphone.

Learn Geography is all about the world. I recently discovered this game for the Nintendo DS and decided to get it. You can learn more about the continents and the cultures around the world. It is a perfect tool to learn worldwide geography for grades 2 to 8.

Math Play will put your math skills to the test as you go through a variety of difficulty levels. It covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This little game is perfect to revise what your child has learned during a math lesson!

Spelling Challenges is based on a spelling game show. You will need to compete in 11 different games and as your spelling improves you will advance to different levels. There is over 100 difficulty levels and more than 25,000 words to spell. This game is perfect for parents and kids.

Zoo Tycoon 2 is simply fantastic! What else can I say about this very popular game? The child builds his own zoo with animals, habitats, and many features. He will learn to manage a zoo by making money, hiring people, building restaurants, stores and much more. My oldest son really enjoys this game.

CrossworDS is a great way to expand your vocabulary! Not only will you find crosswords in this game but you will also find word searches and anagrams. You will also find more than 1,000 crossword puzzles. It is a great way to spend time while waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office.

Civilization Revolution will allow you to travel through history from the dawn of man to the space age and beyond. You will be among the greatest leaders of history and battle to win territory, conduct diplomacy, discover new technologies and build an empire. This particular game is a bit similar to Zoo Tycoon 2 but is geared for 10 and up.

BrainQuest 3&4 and 5&6 are fun games to test the knowledge of the appropriate grades. Each game contains about 6,000 questions on subjects like Math, Science, History, Geography and English. These particular games can be used as tests in your homeschool in an innovative way.

Smart Boy’s Gameroom is a fun little game that will help your boy age 3+ to build thinking skills. In this game, you will find a coloring section, a find the differences, become a train conductor, match the sounds, play piano, do puzzles, play a counting game, practice drawing, find matching pairs, play instruments, and more. Also available on the market is a Smart Girl’s Gameroom which probably contains similar games but with a “girly” theme.

Wii

Wii Fit doesn’t need any presentation I think. Many of you have probably heard of it. Well Wii Fit Plus is the 2nd version of the popular weight loss/control game that goes on the Wii. Use the Wii balance and play fun games that will tone you at the same time. Wii Fit Plus has new exercises to do, new training games, new features that will allow you to track your progress more easily as well as a customize workout area. My boys don’t have to lose weight but they love the balance games and the competition between them. It is quite entertaining to see them go through the games in the multiplayer feature. Why not consider this as the PhysEd part of the day?

Wii Music will introduce your kids to 60 different musical instruments and show them how they work. They can also become very creative and make their own music with a band.

Endless Ocean is a favourite in our household. In this game, you will discover the beauty of the ocean , the creatures that lives there and you will learn about scuba diving at the same time. This fun game gets you searching for sunken treasures and you have various tasks to perform on the boat as well. The graphics are simply stunning and you can’t help but think about the Creator behind it all.

OffShore Tycoon is a game of a fishing company that has been passed down through 10 generations. You will have to gather fish from the ocean, process them and sell them to hungry customers. While you grow you will have the opportunity to make decision on when to change the boat, to keep up the demand, plan the next step and so on. This is a wonderful introduction on how to manage a business.

Winter Sports The Ultimate Challenge will introduce your child to winter sports and how to perform them. Similarly, the Summer Sports The Ultimate Challenge will introduce the child to summer sports. Both games are similar in their settings as there is a competition between the countries – a little bit like the Olympics.

Kabooki is a family game created by the creators of the Cranium board game. Come and join Creative Cat, Data Head, Word Worm, and Star Performer in a variety of activities. The best team wins the game. Included in this game are 3D glasses that you will need from time to time.

iPod and iPhone

Okay this is something I am still exploring but let me tell you that I am quite excited about what is available for the iPod Touch and iPhone. From geography to astronomy while going through math problems or spelling or grammar lessons, there are many applications that are interesting for kids of various ages. You can also find fun books for your toddlers. One company which I discovered through my contacts is Moving Picture Books that also have a couple of books about the Bible. 

On our iPhone/iPod, we have a variety of educational apps. I’ve created a folder for various topics like math, science, writing, and so on. In the Mathematics department, I strongly recommend iLive Math which has a variety of apps to choose from base don subjects like ocean, animals from Africa, animals from Asia and much more. KidsMathFun is quite interesting as well because their apps are grade specific.

For writing, the RhymeNow app is simply fantastic. I’ve installed this app on my son’s iPod and since then he plays with it in the afternoon trying to create fun rhymes. There are also apps on spelling as well as dictionaries and verb tenses. Recently, the company behind iLive MathiHome Educator – has just released a new app titled iLive Grammar Winter which will supplement your Language Arts and Science at the same time.

Science is another subject that can be covered with apps. From anatomy to chemistry, you can find anything even physics games and quizzes on various science subjects. My favourite app in the science department is the iBird Explorer Pro which allows me to identify the birds we encounter while camping. Being an avid ornithologist, I decided to invest more on this specific app.

Believe it or not, geography is also covered with apps. Want to be challenged? You can find quizzes on the subject. Maps can be found both historically and up-to-date. One interesting app I have discovered this past week is GeoWalk which allows your child to discover the world in a very interesting way.  I could go on and on for every subject that could be covered in an homeschool environment even Latin.

For French I’ve found a couple of interesting apps for my toddler. SmarKids French teaches the alphabet, numbers, colors, fruits, animals, vegetables, and many more objects that can be found in a house. French being our primary language I was quite pleased to discover this little app. Also for toddlers, there are a multitude of books to download including Dr. Seuss books.

The popular magazine Disney Family Fun also has an app you can download. In it you will find crafts to make with you kids. It also has many activities that can be done for various ages.

For fun, I highly recommend the Geocaching app but beware that it will work only on the iPhone 3Gs since it needs the GPD feature to work. We recently started using my husband’s iPhone to discover the joy of geocaching. The kids love it. I enjoy searching through nature and finding the little treasures left by others.

As you can see, homeschooling can use a variety of educational software and electronic games to deepen the knowledge of kids. In this 21st century, it is essential to use all the tools available to enhance the homeschool experience. My kids are using workbooks and books every day and they also get to play with other fun games. The key is not to overdo it. It is essential to limit the time spent on the PC and on electronic games.

Having said that have fun with the kids. Challenge them on the Wii or Nintendo DS. Play with them on the iPhone/iPod. Embrace the electronic age and discover a wealth or possibilities.

In a future post I would like to explore the possibilities of the iPad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

365 Project–Day 24

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

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It snowed again today.   A tree on our street has berries for the birds…

Friday, January 28, 2011

365 Project – Day 23

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

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Learning time with Caillou!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

365 Project – Day 22

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

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On this day, I decided to stop and smell the roses that hubby has bought!  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

365 Project – Day 21

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

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Are you wondering what my son is doing? 

Do you know Julian Smith on the internet?   No?  Watch the video below.   Yes…. well I think you can see that Alexandre is imitating him – he was even singing the song… !   He was funny!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

365 Project–Day 20

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

 

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Kids playing and re-enacting the birth of Jesus.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

End of the rope

This week question for the blog cruise is:

“How do you avoid burn-out?”

Thought subject I find.

But it needs to be talked about because contrary to what probably most people think, homeschooling is not always easy. We have times when we doubt our decision while other times we feel overwhelmed with either the responsibility or the fact that you have three kids with different levels to teach.

Yes there are days where I feel totally and entirely inadequate.

The worse for me is always in February.   So what do I do…?

It simple and easy at the same time.   Take you days one at a time and reduce the quantity of work to be done.  Then you won’t see a HUUUUUUGE mountain in front of you but a little hill instead.

Okay the analogy is probably not the best but I think you get the idea.   When I know that the “blues” are hitting home, I just put the books aside and I would read to the kids or give them a free play.   We don’t do many snow days during the school part of the year, so taking a day off when mom is overwhelmed is good.   It reduce the possibility of having my tone of voice going up a notch….  Seriously though, when you feel you have too much on your shoulders, check your schedule and see if there is anything that could be removed.   Too many activities outside the house would be a good place to start.   In our family, I stick with swimming lessons and AWANA for now.   Time will tell if we will add something else eventually but I seriously doubt it.

Burn-out is important to recognize.   And it is also important to talk about it.   I hope that your spouse is supportive and is willing to listen to you if things are not going the way you would have hoped.    When I feel that I am burned-out, I need some time alone.   That’s when I let the kids watch a movie or play games.   Or I would cook something chocolaty and we would eat some together.  Another idea would be to take a bubble bath which is always a treat for me.  

I did had black days – like I call them.  Days that I wanted to throw everything and just send the kids to school.   As much as it would be easier to do, I know deep down that I would not honour God by doing so.  Why?  Simply because I know that God has called me to homeschool my kids right now.  Will it be like that forever?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Our hopes is to homeschool in high school as well but we leave it in God’s hands for now.  After all, we still have a few years before coming to the high school years.

I find the important thing is to take one day at a time.  It is not working today?  Don’t worry.  There is always tomorrow.   Take a break.  Go walk outside.   Pray and ask God to guide you and your children.    Read the Bible.  You will be surprised how much peace will come over you during that time.   And don’t forget a bit of chocolate is always helpful!  

Boiling Water at -30C

Wondering what boiling water will do at –30C temperature?

Check out this video of instant freezing of boiling water at –30 Celsius.    It works as we did it this morning…

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/video-boiling-water-turning-snow-goes-viral-20110120-181619-194.html

 

Science project of the day – CHECKED.   Now let’s tackle the rest…

365 Project–Day 19

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!


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Minus 29 C outside = frozen windows this morning!
Sunday, January 23, 2011

365 Project–Day 18

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

 

My sofa has a bobo….

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Fortunately, it looks like I have a warranty on the springs…  So I am calling tomorrow the service department. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

365 Project–Day 17

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!
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First roses from Daddy!
Friday, January 21, 2011

Frost Experiment

As some of you know already, I review books and products, including homeschool products.

I recently received a fun little thing that contains activities on various subjects.

2011_01_21_10_21_11_0010This morning, I decided to print the activities on frost.  In the middle of these, there was a little experiment.

Take a metal container.

Crush some ice and fill it at about half way.

Include 4 tbsp of salt (we took the salt for canning).

Mix well and wait for a while. 

In the meantime, do another activity like reading to your kids or do some math work…

Once you are done whatever other activity you have decided to do come back to your metal container.

Watch for what happened.

The salt has brought the temperature down on the outside of the can.  

Can you see the frost around ours? 

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You can do various sizes to see the difference.

Have fun experimenting with your kids…

365 Project–Day 16

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

 

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I asked my oldest son to pour me a small glass of milk the other day.

He took me literally….  as he poured it in a shot glass.  *sigh*

He thought it was funny.

Instead of one glass of milk I had four or five.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spring time…

Spring is coming and I’ve decided to refresh my blogs.

I was a bit tired of the designs they had.

So with the help of a fantastic software, I designed a new look for Life at Oak Grove and Canadianladybug Reviews!

Take a minute to tell me what you think.

Canadianladybug Reviews! can be found at http://www.canadianladybugreviews.com

365 Project–Day 15

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

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Coloring mess…  a must have for a 3 years old.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

365 Project–Day 14

Photobucket I am participating in the 2011 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. We have teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

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This little creature is leaving lots of footprints in our backyard (actually more than just footprints….) and frontyard.   Hubby would love to catch it and cook it.  The kids just love seeing it on a regular basis.   We suspect there are more than one.  Can you guess which animal I am talking about?

RVing with Young Children

On January 5th, I receive a grand from the Mom Central Canada Recipient-Button_thumbBlogger Grant Program to write and publish a post on RVing with young children.

As I was writing this post, it dawned on me that it was getting unbelievably long…  *grin*    So I have decided to split this subject in two parts.  This is part 2 of the post.

TIPS AND TRICKS ON TRAVELLING LONG DISTANCE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

A) Planning before leaving

I am a planner.    Ask our family and friends and they will confirm that our family likes to plan…  sometimes we do spontaneous things but for travelling – planning is a must I find.  That way I make sure that we don’t forget anything (like I did before with necessary clothes for my husband and oldest son one year when we went camping… Since then I have lists to go through while packing!).

The most important thing to do before leaving is planning and know what to pack.   Often, we have the tendency to forget that kids gets bored easily while on the road.  We think of packing clothes, food and so on but what about something to keep them occupied on the road.

Each of my kids have their own backpack in which they put books to discover while driving to our destination.   I guess I got this idea from my mom because when I was younger she organized a little basket with surprises for our trip to Florida.  And she had planned for more surprises for the trip back home.   

In the backpack, there might be other things than books.  For example, I would put a toy or two as well as their favourite stuffed animal (we can’t forget them!).   For the oldest, I might include a brain puzzle or two, some word searches as well.   We also have Nintendo DSs as well as a couple of iPods that will be included in our luggage but used as a last resort while the driving is longer than expected.

Our Suburban do not have the DVD player and we have mixed feelings about letting the kids listen to too much television.   We prefer controlling the amount of television they have and let them use their imagination more often.

B) On the road

While driving, the kids can dig in their backpacks as much as they want.  But we also have some fun games we can play while driving…

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You  might be familiar with this game.    Each person in the vehicle takes their turn and says “I spy with my little eye…” and complete the sentence with something like “something that is red.”   The rule we have though is that whatever the person has seen and want the others to discover must be something that we will see as well.  For example, the child can’t announce something that he saw at the last minute and nobody else has seen.   We usually take something that is in our vehicle, in the distance or that is repetitive outside like cows for example…

imageAlphabet Game

The Alphabet Game is quite easy.   Going through the alphabet, you have to spot the letters of the alphabet (in order) in the various signs you come across while driving.   When you see one of the letters, you shout it.  The first to arrive at the Z wins…   When you have younger children, they can team up with mom and dad to add more fun.     You could also decide to go through the alphabet and name animals that start with each letters.

Number Game

The number game is similar to the Alphabet Game except this time you go through numbers.   However, you can not put one number in a sign, you have to find the said number by itself.   We usually agree on a number to end for example – go up to 25.

imageGeography activity

While driving during the summer, you can discover other travellers while on the road.   If you look at the plates on the vehicles you pass on the road, you can identify where they come from.   Discovering the plates from the provinces, territories and states is one way of learning more about geography.   Add some fun by giving the kids a maps of the US and Canada so they can spot the places where the other travellers are coming from.

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I have this game since I was a teenager… and still have it.  Yikes!  Nevertheless mine is an older edition but after searching on Google I discovered that a new edition is available.  Similar to the I Spy game, this game will include categories like Objects, Signs, Safety, People, Alphabet and Parachute.   A fun way to spend time while on the road!    It is available at amazon.com and Christianbook.com.

Books on CD

While driving PA,MA,ME, NB and PE a few years ago, we decided to go through the Narnia series on CD.   We had a blast following the adventures of the characters  in the well-known C.S. Lewis series.    I am particularly fond of the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre products as  I know that the quality of the stories will be fantastic.   They have a variety of titles available like:  Amazing Grace, At the Back of the North Wind, A Christmas Carol, Father Gilbert Mysteries, Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, Ben-Hur, The Luke Reports, The Life of Jesus, Anne of Green Gables, The Screwtape Letters, and many more.  Many titles to satisfy the listening ears of everyone!  

There are many different books on CD that you can purchase.  Check out  http://www.radiotheatre.org/ or ttp://christianaudio.com/children-youth for the various choices that are there.   Another great one that I have heard is worth having are the Jonathan Park Adventures which we have not listened at yet.

Vol52_cause_and_effect_3D_thumbOur kids particularly enjoy the Adventures in Odysseys from Focus on the Family.  These fun radio adventures will keep your kids entertained and will also give some interesting teaching opportunities for you.   Each episode has a teaching lesson that can be discussed while driving.    I highly recommend them even for your travelling in to go to an activity.  We listen to these on a weekly basis while driving to the swimming lessons.

C) Discovering in a new city

Before you leave on a trip, I would strongly suggest that you consider purchasing a membership at a museum in your city.  Why?  Let me explain.    In Ottawa, there are many museums.   We have been members of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation for many years now.   This corporation includes the following museums in our city:   Canada Agriculture Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum as well as Canada Science and Technology Museum.   Our membership gives us access to these three museums anytime during the year which is perfect for field trips when you are homeschooling.   But this membership also gives us unlimited free admission to more than 290 museums and sciences centres across Canada and around the world!   Yes unlimited.   So check out the museums in your area to see what the membership will give you as you might be surprised by the opportunities hidden behind the purchase of the membership.   In the past few years, we have been blessed with access to museums for free in cities like Boston, Toronto, Sudbury, Chicago, Buffalo, and Fredericton – just to name a few.  

For example, last year while travelling on the road so that my 2010_09_04_11_09_08_thumbhusband can go take the requirements to a client in Elliot Lake, ON, we stopped in Sudbury for a week.   We were able to visit the Science North not once, not twice but four times during that rainy week.    And we had a blast doing so because there was so much to discover in that museum.   The kids particularly liked the Nature’s Market where they could bring some things from the nature and exchange them for other things.   They are still talking about it…  They even experienced how to polish a rock with the lapidary laboratory!   That in itself was an experience I am sure they will not forget.

The same idea goes with a zoo.   Last year, we decided to buy a two year membership at the Toronto Zoo.   We are planning to take advantage of this for the two years coming.   But at the same time, such a membership will give you rebates at other zoos or aquariums in Canada and the US.   So if you plan to travel more, consider the possibility of buying a longer membership as the yearly amount is reduced.

I would also suggest that previous to the trip, you would keep an eye on a Groupon close to your destination.   It is easy to follow Groupon for your own city or other places as well.   Simply select the ones you want to receive in your emails.  You would be surprise to discover the deals you can have just by following them.    With a site similar to Groupon for our own city, we were able to get a year membership for the family at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum for a low price! 

Another fun thing to do with younger kids is to explore a park or a botanical garden.  Bring a lunch.  Enjoy the nature.  Talk together.

D) Factory Tours

Since we started travelling in the US, we have discovered that it is possible to visit factories and discover how things are made.   One of the websites I rely on is Factory Tours USA which will give you the information you need to plan some interesting visits for your family.

wim4If you prefer having a book, here an interesting one titled Watch It Made in the U.S.A. (http://www.factorytour.com/).   We personally owned this one and make sure that it is included in our luggage when we leave.  It contains fun tours for the whole family.   

Before visiting a factory, make sure that there isn’t restrictions to the visit.  Some places have specific age limits.   So be aware that your little ones might not be allowed in some of the factories.

One of the fun places we visited in the past was the Martins Guitar factory in Nazareth, PA.   We learned how a Martins guitar was made from A to Z be going through their factory.    Below are some pictures that were taken when  we visited the place.

2008_06_09_12_08_402008_06_09_12_11_28

We find visiting factories are very instructive especially when it allows you to witness the creation of an item that you have in your house.

E) Expect rainy days

As much as I would love to have beautiful days while we are travelling, it is not always the case.   Sometimes, you might have rainy days (or hit a whole week of rainy days like we did last September while we were in Sudbury!).   Nevertheless, you can have fun as a family.   Pack some movies, bring come crayons and coloring books, don’t forget games and books either.   Use the rainy days to explore a local museum or do a bit of shopping as well.  

F) Keeping track of your kids

We have four kids and when going to a zoo or an attraction park, we are on constant alert.   We want to make sure that we don’t loose any of them while visiting a fun place.    About two years ago, I’ve discovered a Child ID Temporary Safety Tattoos on the internet.  The company is called Safetytat and has a variety of 2010_08_27_12_58_56tattoos that you can write you contact information on it and apply on your child while visiting a busy place.    We used them while visiting the Toronto Zoo last year.  These cool and fun tattoos will stay for a period of 1 week of more which is perfect when vacationing with your family.    I highly recommend these for any family with young children or children with disabilities.  Visit http://www.safetytat.com for more details or order some.

G) Food

As much as I like eating out, when you are in vacation with your WHOLE family is can become very expensive.   So when we plan our outings, we make sure we also bring a lunch with us and bottles of water.   Once in a while we will splurge in being a couple of French fries to surprise the kids but most of the time we try not to spend too much.    

H) Bring your camera

Kids are little only once in their life.  Catching the irresistible memories they will have while vacationing is a must.   Make sure to pack your photo and video cameras in your luggage.   And bring them with you while visiting a place.  You never know when your adorable kids will strike a special pose that will melt your heart when they are older.

Camping%20with%20Kids_cover_PFinally, if you want to read more on how you can camp with kids, I would like to suggest a book titled Camping with Kids.     This book is packed with information on how to enjoy camping with your family including activities like river rafting, boating, backpacking, canoeing and bicycle touring! 

This concludes my two part on RVing.    I had a blast writing the two post and would like to thank Mom Central Canada for the grant I received to do so.   

Recipient ButtonNote: This post was possible because I received one of the Fall 2010 Mom Central Canada Blogger Grant Program.

Buying an RV– are you ready?

On January 5th, I receive a grand from the Mom Central Canada Recipient ButtonBlogger Grant Program to write and publish a post on RVing with young children.

As I was writing this post, it dawned on me that it was getting unbelievably long…  *grin*    So I have decided to split this subject in two parts.  Consequently, this is part 1 of the suggested post.

WHO ARE WE AND WHAT EXPERIENCE WE HAVE IN RVING?2010_11_22_13_20_17_0002

We are an homeschooling family of 6 who loves to discover new places and experience new things.   We live in the national capital of Canada.  The family is composed of mom, dad and four kids ages 9 1/2, 6 3/4, 5 and 3.  

2007_05_12_07_47_34Our camping adventures started before we had kids…   We had a tent back then. But the tent adventure didn’t last long for a variety of reasons.   When we started having kids, we purchase a second-hand pop-up trailer which we used quite often.   Then 4 years ago, we decided to purchase (or should I say invest) in a travel trailer which has been our house on the road since three years (before that we didn’t have the vehicle to pull it!).

We have learned a lot in the past three years about travelling with children and how to have fun as a family.    We have done it with babies in tow (including playpen and exersaucer packed) so we know a bit about camping/rving with little ones.

HOW TO CHOOSE AN RV

When you start looking at RVs you can easily feel overwhelmed by all the many choices out there.    I am not an expert whatsoever  in how to pick an RV.   However, I have some interesting links that you might want to check out before continuing reading what we think is essential while making a decision to purchase one.

http://www.ehow.com/how_107606_buy-rv.html

http://rvbasics.com/techtips/how-to-buy-an-rv.html

E-Book Buying an RV the Smart Way

Now that you have taken the time to read what more experienced RVers have written on the subject of buying an RV, let me highlight what we have found important while going through the process ourselves over four years ago.

1) Before starting to look at RVs, I would like to suggest that you consider your current vehicle and determine if it can pull an RV or not.   If this is the case, bring the information with you while shopping.   If not, you will have to investigate which vehicle to can purchase to pull an RV.   Even if you buy an RV and get it delivered to a camp site while waiting for a good time to change your vehicle, make sure that the vehicle you are considering will pull the RV you have purchased.   Keep in mind that different model of a vehicle exist.   For example, our Suburban is not the top of the line model but it is able to pull our RV.   Always verify the tow package as well as keep in mind your travel and your luggage's weight.

2) Second, get educated.   There are many websites on RVing as well as places where you can get books on the subject.   We discovered a RV Bookstore on the internet while searching lists to update for all the various things that needs to be done on an RV.   Visit http://rvbookstore.com/index.aspx for more details.  Also, talk to your friends and/or family who owns an RV.  Don’t know anyone, go camping and talk to family who owns one.   People at the campground are usually very friendly and won’t mind chatting with you.

3) Third, make sure that the RV you are planning to pull is not too heavy.   Ours is a feather light type of RV  which allows us to be able to pull it without problem with our Suburban. 

4) Consider the floor plan.   For us our intimacy was important and we picked a floor plan which will protect this.   On one end of the RV, you will find 2 bunk beds and at the other end of the RV you will find our bedroom.    Both “rooms” have an accordion door that permits more quiet time for everyone. 

5) Pull-outs are a must.   It will transform your living area into a more comfortable place.   We would definitively not buy an RV without it.    Our RV has only one pull-out while give our kitchen/living area a bigger space.   This area is located between the two bedrooms.

6) The important thing to keep in mind when you shop for an RV is to consider your family.   Will you have more kids in the future?   Where would you like to go?  How often do you plant to go on the road?   But most of all remember that you are investing for family time and good memories to build together.

7) On the negative side for us, we find our bathroom a big small.   Consider the space allocated for the bathroom when shopping for an RV.  We also find that there isn’t enough storage areas.  But we have been creative in trying to organize our RV to the best option possible.  

8) Check out the types of clubs available for RVing.   We personally like Good Sam Club which also gives us rebates at some campsites.   Check http://www.goodsamclub.com/ for more details.

One the major advantage of RVing is that it will be cheaper to travel with a family.   Consider our experience two summers ago while discovering Niagara Falls.    One month in the area (and contrary to the popular belief, there is a tons of things to discover and do in Niagara Falls on both side of the border!), cost us 500$ Canadian for the stay only!    If you calculate an hotel room at 93$ per nights for a week, you can see the difference…   Do the math you will see how advantageous it is to take a site for an extended period of time.   We have determined that staying for at least a week you would save about 2 days than paying a daily amount.   On the other hand, if you decide to stay for a whole month,  you will save a week worth. 

Finally, to discover camping spots to stay at, I would like to suggest to you to invest in a Woodall’s Campground Directories.   Their books are packed with detailed information for campground.  We usually purchase the Eastern America edition which also contains eastern Canada.   Also include in these books are the best RV trips to take on one tank of gas.    Check out the different directories they have at their store.

In Part 2 I will tell you more about RVing Young Children.

Recipient Button_thumb[1]Note: This post was possible because I received one of the Fall 2010 Mom Central Canada Blogger Grant Program.

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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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