Thursday, 1 August 2013

Our Curriculum Reveal

Well, it's HERE! Pretty much everything we need. I am so thankful and grateful that we were able to get all the books that I really wanted. I am going to be going through all the teacher's guides in the coming weeks and formulating our plans.

We have also chosen the following theme for our school this year...

STEWARDS OF THE LAND

I am hoping that this is evident by the curricula that I have chosen and through our emphasis on geography, history, the earth, and science. I want my children to have an appreciation for who we are, what transpired to get to this point, and what we must do in the future to protect the earth and it's history.

Here is everything all together...

Language Arts
We will be continuing on with the Explode the Code series and the Handwriting Without Tears series which I have previously posted about. There are two components that I have not yet ordered but will be doing so in the coming weeks. They are the Grammar, Spelling, and Writing programs from JacKris Publishing and a classical language program called English from the Roots Up. We don't need either right to start to I wasn't as concerned to order them right away. 

Mathematics
For mathematics our eldest will be starting the Math U See Alpha. Math was always a difficult subject for me so I am determined to give my children the best grasp of mathematics as I can. I am not going to rush through it and try to hit certain levels at certain times. That is not my concern. Rushing the concepts and the idea of "being behind" are not part of my homeschool. We reach milestones at our own pace. Come January though our middle one will be starting the Primer version to coincide with him turning five. 

Bible Study
Our Bible Study is the Great Adventure Kids which I have also previously blogged about receiving

History
I chose The Story of the World. Out of all the history programs I looked at this one best fit what I was looking for. This year we are starting with the Ancient Times. In years coming up we will be able to also follow the Middle Ages and Modern Ages. It is done storybook style. I chose to order the main paperback as well as the test book, the activity book and the audio cds. They also refer to the two Usborne encyclopedias on the top so I ordered those as well. 

Geography
For Geography we are going to follow A Child's Geography of the World Volume 1. This particular volume focuses on the physical geography of the earth. It is all about Exploring His Earth. In future years we will work through volume 2 (The Holy Land) and volume 3 (The Classical World). 

Canadian Studies
Our Canadian studies curriculum is quite possibly my favourite out of everything I ordered. Okay, not possibly, it IS! Being a Canadian I am big on knowing about our country. I did order the text Canada, My Country last year but it just wasn't the same without all the supplemental books, so this year we bit the bullet and ordered the all inclusive package (which also means each boy gets their own activity text). The resources included in this package are truly magnificent. I am thrilled with the collections of books on the provinces and the regional animals. There is the atlas, map, and card game. The picture book and story of the flag and Terry Fox are awesome. The best part?? The books to read with the kids, we can cuddle up and learn all about our country by reading stories that ring true to those who live in the different areas of our beautiful Canada. Ah, I love it!

Science
I am quite excited about our science this year. We are going with Intro to Science from Elemental Science. I posted previously about a great customer experience with them. This curriculum relies a lot on experimentation as well as the importance of nature study. I ordered the Instructor guide as well as two student books. I also opted to order the suggested supplemental resources and I am very happy that I did. They are all books I am pleased to have as part of our "library". 

Environmental Awareness
Here is our environmental awareness. In my previous post I also spoke  about ordering this set of materials. We opted for a family membership. I truly feel that all families, homeschooling or not, should go through the action guide. We are at pivotal points with our environmental history colliding with the future of the earth, all children (and adults) need to learn the importance of caring for our planet. 

In addition to the curriculum I ordered we have these as supplemental resources:

and for literature sake we have a lot of this...
We have quite a collection. Chapter books, early readers (some Dick and Jane even), picture books, books from different series, books from different characters (hello Pigeon and Scaredy Squirrel). You can also see we have some Star Wars, Bible stories, and a collection of Christmas books. And I SWEAR this shelf was organized two days before. 

I am also looking at some extra activities for outside the home. I am thinking about getting the boys into dance (like Jazz/Tap style). I am leery of them going into any martial arts (they'll just use it on each other). We are hoping to get a family membership soon for a fantastic local health/gym facility so we can keep up our level of physical activity through the winter. We also already have a family membership to our local museum so on days when it gets really bad outside we will take solitude in the Planetarium, Science Centre, and travel through time in the museum's Main Gallery. 

Additionally I have to hide in shame while I say that I am a libraryphobe. My kids are loud and librarians intimidate me. However I am pledging to take the kids to library this year, get them their own cards. Instead of fearing that that will turn the whole place topsy turvy I am going with the attitude that they will learn an important skill...being quiet ;) . I'll call the library before hand and set up a time where the librarian can give us a bit of an orientation so we know where to go, where to look, and what programs they offer that will suit us. PLUS I am hoping to meet some other homeschooling families there, I'll keep my eyes peeled for mum's with multiple school aged kids there in the middle of the day. 

What's Mummy Learning This Year?
Last year I posted a bit about what I was going to do along with the kids. Sadly I didn't get as much done personally as I had hoped so I will keep trudging away with my own spiritual studies and advancing of my own knowledge.

I do have one educational trick up my sleeve though. It all depends on financing but if things work out I will be applying to do a distance education nutritionist certification program. I am very EXCITED and PUMPED about taking that direction in my own education. It isn't set in stone yet as tuition is pricy but if things keep going as they have I am confident I will be starting my own studies before the new year. Can't. Wait. 

This about wraps it up. If I could add anything else it would be some education on the body and health but I think they are getting a lot of that already just through living. They know what is healthy, they know what is not. We'll get there.

Oh, and school supplies. Yep, I have to make a school supplies list. So far fat pencils and crayons are big on the list and the boys both LOVE those those pens with the five different colours. And paper, reams and reams and reams....

Oh, and a lesson planner. Must find a lesson planner. It never ends does it? 

If you made it this far KUDOS. I'm a wordy gal. I know it is just August 1st but I am so happy to have so much of this already taken care of. If you are searching for homeschool curriculum or sending your youngins off to school in a few short weeks I wish you all a wonderful and blessed start to a new "school year".










Saturday, 20 July 2013

Orders Are Arriving

Yippee!! We've had a few orders arrive for our curriculum the last few days. It's all so shiny and new and I really love what I have chosen so far.

At this point we have had one set of supplemental science books arrive (plus a few board books for the little missy), our Math U See order, our labels (Mabel you rock!), as well as our environmental awareness information.

I would like to take a moment to mention what I am speaking about when I mention environmental awareness. When I was a child/tween I guess, it was the early days of recycling and push for environmental awareness (or it seemed that way to my child mind). At that time there was a small organization called Kids For Saving Earth (KSE for short). It was started by a young boy who went to the hands of God at an early age, but his time on earth was spent well as he lived his passion for taking care of the earth. His young message resonated with me as it was coming from a child to a child. To this day I have always remember the little KSE book I had as a kid and because I loved it so much (I seriously went through two at least from flipping through them so much). So I wanted to see if they were still around. THEY WERE!! And they have kits for different groups, families, and schools. I bought for us the family membership which cost $15 and included a whole selection of materials (activity books, cds, sheet music for their song, and certificates/pledges). There are several types of memberships (the individual is even FREE). Check out the KSE site for more information and to order a membership package of your own!  

Everything else is shipped or otherwise soon to be in our hands. Elemental Science, a few other science books, plus our world history and geography (both texts and supplemental books). I have had some great experiences already from both Elemental Science and Christian Book.

Based on my experience with Elemental Science I would suggest if you are in Canada to place an order by phone to get a proper shipping rate. The shipping on the web site was pricy but the books for well priced so I bit the bullet anyways. I was highly impressed when a representative emailed me saying they'd like to SAVE ME MONEY on the shipping, and they arranged a lower shipping cost, as well as THREW IN A STUDENT BOOK FOR FREE!! Within minutes I had a $30 refund to my paypal! I would say that gets an A+++ in the customer service department.

I was even able to order our Canadian Studies curriculum from Northwoods Press yesterday. This is really the piece de resistance of our curriculum choices. The books selections included in the bundle are amazing and very much in line with books I would want in our library to begin with. Seeing as it's shipping from inside Canada (I think Ontario) then it shouldn't be too long of a wait.

I do have another cart waiting for checkout from Christian Book but it is more so books for me, a few things for my own spiritual development so I'll be waiting on that for a while before I can finish it.

I am guessing (hoping, praying, fingers and toes crossed) that a lot of our material arrives next week. Fun mail week COMING UP!!. The latest I should have the most of everything is early August (perhaps the 2nd, but it's not like I'm obsessing on tracking or anything). I can't wait to take pictures of it all to share with you. I am really happy that we chose the direction we did. While I hemmed and hawed over and over again purchasing the Sonlight curriculum I feel that what I have chosen will give us the depth and variance of knowledge that I am looking for.

If you are a homeschooler like I am have you ordered or chosen yet? Please share some of your selections! If you AREN'T a homeschooler do you order books online for yourself? Are you an amazon addict like me?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Curriculum On Order

I am so FREAKING excited. I went on a bit of a blitz the last few days and ordered pretty much everything we will need for homeschool right up until I need to order stuff for the little super hero to delve into kindy come January (specifically math and handwriting, everything else he will already be following along). The only thing I haven't ordered yet is our Canadian geo/hist program which I will be ordering within the week.

So as it stands I have nine orders due to arrive over the next few weeks. I am doing a happy dance in my chair right now. I love books and I love getting fun mail so it's going to ROCK!

Once things start arriving I will begin compiling a post on all of it but for now I have this on order:

Math U See Alpha from Math U See
Supplemental History Books from Rainbow Resource
Supplemental Science Books from Amazon.ca
Science and General Reading Books from Amazon.ca
Veggietales (including a piano book) from Chapters
Environmental Awareness Info from Kids for Saving the Earth
Science Curriculum for Elemental Science***Great story about them!
Story of the World I and A Child's Geography of the World (plus a few extras) from ChristianBook

Lastly, I ordered Mabels Labels. I admit a total impulse purchase. I used the labels I still had from them a few days ago and noticed they were both low and then recalled that Evelyn doesn't have her own. I'm not sure if anyone gets it but there is a certain irony to needing name/school supply labels as a homeschooler, like really?? But honestly we do use them. So I ordered some up for each kid plus I ordered a sticky label set for us to have as a family. Can't wait for them to arrive!

I am totally tickled to get everything arriving in time. I feel like I am on top of everything. Now I guess I should teach the stuff eh?? I guess that means I can start making our school supply list. I get just as jazzed about trips to staples as I do about ordering books online ;)


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Weight Loss Stats Update!

This past July 1st not only marked the 146th Birthday of my fair county Canada, but it almost marked the two year anniversary of my commitment to losing weight. It has been quite a journey and I have learned so much about myself, about health, and about fitness. I truly feel these issues and my experiences have affected me so deeply that my future will be greatly shaped by them.

If you'd like to catch up on a bit of my weight loss story you can check out last year's stats , or some of these posts on my weight loss experiences.

So where am I now? 95lbs light that's where! Can I get a woot woot??

I have seriously never felt better in my life. I am healthy and fit. I have muscles!

As a family we are eating a nourishing diet and fuelling our bodies with the right foods. We are able to enjoy life, and nature, and fitness all together.

Here are my stats from last year:


Start Pant Size: 22/24       Current Pant Size: 14/16
Start Top Size: XL/XXL Current Top Size: L

Start Weight: 247.4    Current Weight: 186    Total Loss: 61.4 lbs

Start Hips: 54"           Current Hips: 46.5"      Inches Lost: 7.5"

Start Bust: 45.5"        Current Bust: 39"         Inches Lost: 6.5"

Start Waist: 45"         Current Waist: 38"       Inches Lost: 7"

                            TOTAL INCHES LOST: 21"

Start BMI: 36.53 - which they say is Obese 2, that sounds really mean :(
Current BMI: 27.46 -still considered overweight but nearing the lower end.

Today:
Pant Size: 10/12 (total size loss of 10/12 sizes)
Top Size: S/M
Current Weight: 155 (total loss from all time high of 250 is 95lbs)
Hips: 42.5"(11.5" loss)
Bust: 37"(7.5" loss)
Waist: 33"(12" loss)

Total Inches Lost: 28" 
Current BMI: 22.9 (nicely in the zone of HEALTHY)

Over this past year I really did a lot of strength training as well and it is starting to show. I am so proud of the positive changes I have made in my life. 

Before I close I'll put on a few pix as reference: 

How about a behind shot first :) 
Top two were taken July 2011 and July 2012
Bottom two were both taken end of June 2013





This dress was a HUGE deal for me. It was a size seven and the shrug was a size small. NEVER have I EVER fit into those sizes. PS. I like flexing in change room mirrors apparently :)

 


 This was my "start" picture on July 1st 2011


 And this was me July 2012


And now here I am July 1st 2013

Sorry no swimsuit pic this time, but I may get one soon. I need to buy a new one as last year's is too big (#firstworldproblem) and we have yet to go on a trip to the beach. YIKES!

If there is ONE thing that I hope my weight loss can do, is inspire others and to let them know that it IS possible. You CAN Change your life. For Good. If someone in your life is in need of weight loss inspiration they can check out my weight loss site Guide To Healthy Weight Loss. There are big things happening in my future which has all come to me from my amazing experience and success. I hope to share all with you soon. 


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Great Adventure Kids: Our Bible Curriculum

I am so excited that we got our new Bible Curriculum today!! It looks FANTASTIC!! I am wowed at the size of the colouring books. The little prayers beads are so cute (they like wearing them actually as a bracelet). I think it is really what I am looking for at this stage. It really will be a Great Adventure going through the Bible this way. I shamefully say that I really don't know as much about the Bible as I really should so we are all going to be on this adventure together.

The same company also has a Great Adventure Bible study for adults as well so I am going to be taking a look at that for myself, depending on how this goes.

My only concern is that the timeline isn't as "teachery" as I thought it was going to be. It really isn't a guide. So I do really need to go through the materials to see how I actually will be going about teaching this. We have been putting in our LA time the last while so in a few days I hope to be prepared to delve into this curriculum.

Here are a few pictures of our new Great Adventure Kids

I ordered the one pack which contained a colouring book, the timeline, 1 prayer beads, one bookmark and then one card game set. I ordered an additional bookmark for Max and 2 more prayers beads for Max and Eve.

It really seems well though out and co-ordinated.

The colouring books looks really nice, the pictures are lovely. I had to hold back the boys from just going to town in them. They sometimes forget that most pages have directions, they like to just do it their way. WHERE on earth did they ever get that idea??

Just for size comparison that is a standard piece of paper in front of it. 
The colouring books are actually quite large. 

Well, a few curriculum pieces accumulated, a few more to go. We are getting there and I am feeling more at ease with how it is going. Next up I am hoping to get math and start chipping away at the Canadian social studies bundles. THOSE will feel like Christmas when they come :)


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mini Update

Sometimes is feels like the days go by ever so slowly yet somehow the weeks fly by in a blur. We keep it real busy around our place. It is a little chaotic at times but we balance it with our family downtime as well.

Today though I just wanted to give an update on some goings on around here:
-I am busy working on my web site project, due to hopefully facebook launch in a few more weeks.
-We have ordered up the Bible curriculum (Great Adventure Kids).
-Things continue to progress with the renovation business, Daddy walking away from the previous company has been an amazing opportunity for us. Now he has the freedom to all his own work
-I have been working on the music for words I wrote in the early winter and I really have something great cooking, makes me cry every time I play it.

Something Big:
I have signed up to participate in the bodybuilding.com Strong to the Cor Challenge, big money at stake, participants judged by their transformation as well as their use of the bodyblogs and body space and workout tracking. So far really enjoying it! I also noticed only about 4500 people on the bodygroup for the challenge which means only about 4500 competitors, probably half men and half women. I'm going to work my literal butt off and hopefully WIN!!!! KMFX!!!!

Little Hurdles:
-We have some serious issues with our vehicles, the van and truck both need work done, and new tires.  That means big money. Good thing the business is doing well.

Things I am still waiting on:
-Ordering the items to make all the soaps and such. I have revised my cart so many times over and over but I think I have a manageable amount of this to begin. If successful I'll order more.

Hoping to do soon:
-I have a lovely green wool I'd like to use to make something summery. Found the perfect pattern yesterday (a lacey cowl) so hopefully I can start that soon.
-Get some pretty flowers for the pots we have for outside. Hopefully no one steals my plants this year :/
-Get the string lights and the bird feeder up in the back yard. Daddy needs to zip tie it all down. See previous point :/

Over and out :)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Assembling Our Curriculum (First Part of Series)

I love getting things in the mail. I love books. Getting books in the mail? TOTALLY AWESOME!! Judging by how my boys ran to the post truck yesterday was an indication that they take after their mother in this regard.



We were about to get in the van when the mail man came up so yes,
 I am that geeky and couldn't wait. We opened it all in the van. 


We were waiting for two packages. One contained some of our new homeschool books. The other contained our new VeggieTales movies. Both boxes contained fantastic resources that would be additions to our homeschool curriculum.




So yes it is that time. When all the homeschool bloggers start ordering, receiving, and talking about their latest finds. I am no exception. So I am going to share with you what we have received so far, what will be ordering shortly, and how our year will be shaping up.

I have been a relaxed homeschooler so far. I feel that exploration of self is important in these early years of learning and education. However now that my eldest is seven and entering grade two territory we will doing some fine tuning. We also have our four year old joining the school ranks. He is chomping at the bit to get his own books and work.

I am also a year round homeschooler. I don't feel that learning and education exist between the confines of September to June, Monday to Friday, 8 am -4 pm. Learning is a constant process that continues 365 days a year, 7 days a week, all waking hours. Children also continue to develop at differing rates so one child's behind is another's advanced.

Because of my relaxed nature I am sure my seven year old would be classified as behind however I know that there are many things where he is excelling. The current plan is to due fine tuning over the summer, expanding come the fall and then after Christmas level up. I try not to get caught up in the grade levels though so we will take each subject and each level and each student one day and one progression at a time.

Sooo, here is our plan for summer and into fall....

Language Arts
Handwriting Without Tears (My First School Book and My Printing Book)
Explode the Code (ABC, 123)
Soaring With Spelling, Soaring With Writing, Soaring with Grammar (all level one and ordering ASAP)
**We will work on all of these and progress as we finish each previous book.

Math
Math U See Alpha (ordering ASAP for seven year old, Beta come January)
Math U See Primer (for September start for the four year old)


Bible
Great Adventure Bible Kit (ordering ASAP)

Social Studies
Canada, My Country Bundle (ordering to start ASAP)
Usborne Internet Linked Children's Encyclopedia (ordering soon)
A Children's History of the World (ordering for September start)
A Children's Geography of the World (ordering for September start)

Science
Elemental Science Intro to Science plus all recommended books and experiment kit (ordering ASAP to start)

Home Economics
My plan here is to get the boys into the kitchen, doing basic recipes. We will also be tackling the soap and bath product making. I would also like to get the boys each doing some very basic knitting. If I can get them to each do a dish cloth in a year I'll be pretty darn happy.

Music/Art
We will do some basic music and art appreciation and history. I have some fun flashcards, we'll take some trips to the art gallery and maybe some symphony presentations. I would love to start teaching Mr. Seven on the piano and guitar very soon, we just need to decide which books will be best.


This is our basic plan. I am sure some things could be subject to change but I feel very confident with all these resources. The Language Arts and Math books will be appropriate levels for the boys' ages. Bible, Social Studies, and Science both boys will work from the same material but I will have different expectations for them (obviously).

Be prepared for me to post on our curriculum as it arrives and we unpack it. So far the books we have received I am very happy with. I am especially excited for our Social Studies and Science books. Heck, I am excited for all of it.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Bath Fizzies, Soaps, and Soaks OH MY

In my last post I spoke about getting healthier through what we put on, in, and around our bodies. Part of this is having to go the DIY route. While in the past we have cleaned up our act a bit by purchasing more environmentally friendly cleaners and body washes and soaps I feel we need to go that one step further.

By going the more DIY way I am hoping that it will save us some money down the road as well. I currently don't have the items I need to go about making my own body and household cleaners so I am going to have to do some investing. If there is one thing that I have discovered so far about doing things yourself is that you must invest at the start to reap the rewards later.

Luckily I have found a company online (located in BC) that specializes in selling exactly what I need. I have an order made up and hopefully can push the buy button in the next few days. I am really really excited.

Here is what I plan to order so far:
Essential Oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, grapefruit)
Fragrance Oils (muscle and joint blend, island tropics sampler pack, green tea)
Shea Butter Rebatch Soap
Calendula Petals
Calendula Oil
Jojoba Oil
Citric Acid
Epsom Salts
Dead Sea Salts
Goat Milk Powder
Surfactant Powder
Love/Faith/Hope Soap Mold
Witch Hazel Spray

I really had to reign myself in because the web site has so many fabulous ideas. I really wanted the pink rose petals and buds, and some herbs, and some clay powders, and, and, and.... But only so much at once. If all things work out well I will definitely place another order to play around with colours and herbals and such. It would be interesting to see how far I can go with this. I could make lotions, bubble bars, even candles.

Using all these ingredients my project horizon is:
Shea Butter Soap with Calendula and Jojoba oils (for Max's poor eczema)
Soothing Muscle Soak (for Daddy, he works so hard, he deserves a special relaxing treat)
Bath Fizzies (a variety, some with calendula added, some with essential oils added)

The essential oils I will also be able to use randomly for cleaning, for diffusing, putting on dryer balls, and many other things I am sure I can come up with. I am just getting started with learning about all the wonderful properties of essential oils.

All together with shipping my order *should* come to roughly $100. However I am hoping that this investment will last us a while. Especially considering that dropping $100 at Lush (one of my fav places) would only yeild a few bath bombs and soaps. Each thing I am ordering is in a small quantity (so I can test it out without buying a massive amount) but even those small quantities seem to be able to be broken down and used in several projects or in several batches of the same thing.

It seems my childhood fascination with playing with soaps and lotions (lotions and potions my family called them) may just serve me well.

The excitement of going down this path has me simply giddy. I can't wait to order and to receive and to make, and then of course, tell you all about it :)


Friday, 24 May 2013

Down A Healthier Path

As I have continued down my weight loss path we have made a lot of food changes. We have become a much more active family. And in doing this we have also found a wealth of information that takes us further into the rabbit hole of healthy living.

It is really quite surprising how simple one can live healthy. Step number one is definitely what you put into your body, that is the foundation. Step number two is what you put ON your body. Step number three is what you expose yourself to around your body. Lastly, what you put into your mind.

All these elements in, on, around, are what greatly affect your overall health. I am talking full physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. These aspects work cohesively together. When one part is down the rest get down.

When it comes to the body though we are doing ourselves so wrong. As I took away the chemicalized and processed foods from our diet I started looking more and more into the chemicals in other things around us. That has led to yet another shift in thinking.

Our skin is the body's largest organ. And we put chemicals on it. Every day. We wash ourselves with chemicals, we clean our homes with chemicals, we wash our clothes with chemicals. It is baffling how much out there is just....I don't even want to think about it.

Then we use different products to compensate for other things our body is missing. Low fat diet? Dry hair? Get whatever new chemical is going to give you softer hair. I am being 100% sarcastic there by the way.

While I am in no way perfect with any of this I can trying very hard to seek out as much information as I can on more natural and DIY living. Luckily living in the time of the amazing internets there are thousands of like minded individuals who I can learn from.

A massive change for me was discovering the Village Green Network. It was like I stumbled upon an amazing collection of bloggers. For realz. That is exactly what it is. A group of bloggers that share recipes for all things natural and DIY living. I am on the road and they have the map.

So far I have learned the following things:

-Essential Oils are the bomb yo
-Baking Soda rules
-Vinegar rocks

Funny enough with those three things you can replace pretty much every cleaning chemical in your home. While essential oils do carry their own risks by their nature alone when used properly they can be used in AND on the body. I am still in the research phase but the other day I washed my floor with water, baking soda, and tea tree oil and WOW it was the best thing ever.

I am also in the phase of discovering the amazing properties of coconut oil. While I LOVE it in all things baking I haven't ventured with it too much into what it can do for the body with topical application but there are many, many suggestions on how to use it (deodorant? toothpaste?). You can make body and cleaning products literally good enough to eat.

On the docket for my first DIY projects are going to be some basic household cleaning products, getting some soap nuts for laundry, making our own bath bombs, plus a whole host of other ideas. Even the fact that I can knit (sort of) and sew (again, sort of) fits quite well here. Some of these are even going to be great homeschool projects. I'm a modern pioneer over here.


So if you are asking yourself what you can do to improve your health in these areas I say get rid of anything and everything synthetic. That means foods, cleaning agents, unnecessary medications, and anything else that is causing you more harm.

Heal your body and mind and home. These are things that are making me very happy.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Outing At The Museum

One of my favourite places to go while growing up was the Manitoba Museum. I anxiously awaited the grades when our small town school would have a field trip into Winnipeg. One of the parts of that field trip was always a trip to the Museum. Even into early adulthood my love for the museum has remained.

No surprise then that as a mother I love taking the kids there. Luckily Daddy has always loved the museum as well. At this point we have a family membership. For about $110 we can go to the museum as often as we want for the year, go to the main gallery, the science gallery, and unlimited planetarium shows. HOW COOL IS THAT!!??!?!

This isn't even the first time I have written about the museum. You can also read this blog post on it.

Since we are a homeschooling this just completely makes sense for us. Such as yesterday. Yesterday it was raining which means that Daddy can't work. So therefore it became field trip to the museum day. Woohoo. It is debatable who was more excited. Me? Or the kids.

When I think back I have always had a deep interest in Aboriginal culture. I think that really is a root of my love for this place. You walk into the main gallery and you are instantly front and centre with a buffalo hunt diorama. And speaking of dioramas this place is full of them. Definitely another reason I love the place.

Over the years the museum has changed slightly but in my opinion it just keeps getting better. Some of our favourite parts are the big ocean screens, the polar bear, the Nonsuch and docks, the bat cave, and old Winnipeg. Also I personally can't get enough of the amazing Aboriginal dioramas. There are a lot and they are so well done. In the science gallery we always also have to take a peek into the mirror room.

I wish I had a chance to take more pictures this time around but only snapped a couple.



It was a fun day and we were lucky to get to spend it together. Afterward both Max and Evelyn were tuckered and fell asleep quickly so we even got to have a nice quiet drive. Vik stayed entertained playing games on my iPhone. 

I'd call that a happy day!

______________

On another note: It has been awhile since my last post. I have been working on quite a project. Something that means a lot to me. Something that involves my weight loss success and all the information I have learned along the way. I hope to reveal all in another month. I'm excited!!




Sunday, 24 February 2013

I Love My Local Bulk Store

In my quest to become healthier, save money, be kinder to environment and all those feel good things I started going to the bulk store last year. At first I went to the only one I really knew of. It was okay but the aisles were tight, they always seemed dingy and the staff were never overly attentive. THEN I discovered there was another bulk store even closer to me. I was hooked on it from then on. The store was clean and bright. They carried what seems like a much larger variety. The staff are very friendly. They carry an array of kitchen gadgetry as well as some gifty type items. I am talking about my local Scoop N Weigh.

I usually pop down there every couple weeks. I never buy massive bulk quantities rather I get what I know I am going to use over the next little while. My total always ends up being somewhere in the $50-$55 ballpark. Every. Time.

Going to the bulk store has been such a huge help in buying healthier ingredients for myself and my family. Yesterday I had an opportunity to go there and I came out with a fabulous haul. I thought I would share what I got and what I am going to use some it for.





-Wheat Bran and Oat Bran (for making bran muffins and for sprinkling on top of yogurt, oatmeal, etc.)
-Raisins (for putting in the bran muffins, for oatmeal cookies, and for putting in oatmeal)
-Dried Cranberries (for oatmeal and trail mix)
-Whole Almonds (for snacking on and getting my healthy fats)
-Pitted Dates (Haven't picked a recipe but there are a few which use dates that I am anxious to try)
-Mini Chocolate Chips (For making banana bread and other treats)
-Banana Chips (We love these just for snacking on)
-Cream Earl Grey Tea (It's tea. Need I say more)

I bought two things I have never bought/cooked with before. I am trying to expand our horizons in terms of grains/carbs/side dishes.
-Couscous (Alright I've bought a box of this before and have had it but have really never actually made or prepared it. I like the taste and texture so we will do some experimenting to see what the kids like)
-Quinoa (A dear friend runs the fantastic blog Little Grazers and has a recipe for Apple and Cheese Quinoa Balls among several other quinoa recipes. She is my go to for all things quinoa right now. She also has another site called Slimming Eats which follows the diet plan called Slimming World. While I follow Weight Watchers I love the whole food based recipes she has.)

In their candy and sweets section I always pick up just a small quantity of special treats. I usually get for myself two chocolate coconut covered marshmallows and I always get daddy a few pecan carmel thingys. They also stock seasonal candy so I grabbed the kids a small bag of easter themed chocolate covered raisins and some kind of easter themed cream candy. I know those things aren't necessarily healthy but those little sweet treats on rare occasions allow us to focus on healthy eating the rest of the time. Everyone deserves a treat now and again.

There are a few other items that are a part of my regular pick up but I was still stocked on them so I didn't pick up any this time. They are diced apricots, coconut flakes, coconut oil, shredded unsweetened coconut (clearly I have a thing for coconut), cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hulled hemp hearts, buckwheat, and chia seeds.

Next time I go I am going to delve into a few of their legume options (beans and lentils perhaps) as well as try out some of their wild rice blends.

I always enjoy going there. For multiple reasons. Plus I often get to run in by myself while daddy chills in the van with the kids. Who wouldn't love 20 minutes to themselves regardless of where it is :)


Friday, 22 February 2013

One Week Left

Last week I turned out being not as high as I thought and this week I accomplished a nice loss (my gain and then some).

There is only one week left. I am biting my fingernails. I am so close but there are a few others that are so close as well. I am going to work hard this week and whatever happens happens. Those that worked hard deserve to win. It is not an indication on how hard I worked. I know for myself where I really pulled through and I know where I wavered a bit.

I'm putting the hammer down on myself even further. Do not fear I am not doing anything crazy. I'm not seriously restricting calories. I'm not expending myself more than what is safe. I'm just being very obedient and disciplined to the plan. It is good practice really because what I am doing now I really think is what I'll have to do to maintain once I hit goal. I also have to pretty much say buh bye to my weekly points and really only EVER use them for special occasions. I am at the point of making healthy enough choices and planning choices in advance that even if I HAVE to get something while out I am more than prepared for it. 

Overall though I'm pretty happy. I'm down to 170.4. The major push for the last 20 lbs is certainly on. By the end of April I plan to be at the 150 I am aiming for. Can't wait to get there. I am feeling very confident about the next two months.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Day Before Weigh In

Tomorrow is weigh in day and I know I am not going to be surprised. I am a devoted weigh myself every morning type of person. While I know that isn't recommended I know that for me personally I need daily affirmation or daily guilt to keep me on track. Therefore I am not going to be surprised when I see the numbers this week higher than last week.

So all this week despite being 90% on target with everything I am still up. What is up with that?? It will be a big shocker to me tomorrow if I am actually down. And I'm not just going to be up a little bit, I'm going to be up by at least a few lbs. Perhaps my scale needs a smack, it has been acting drunk lately. Either that or a new battery.

We only have three weigh ins to go (including tomorrow) to finish up this latest biggest loser challenge and this is so not the time for some kind of silly yoyo plateau (rolling hills if you will). Really. It frustrates me because I have worked hard for every challenge and yet never win. If I weren't stagnating right now I could win. At this point though I really don't know. As of the latest numbers the leader is at about 9% loss for the round while I am sitting at 7.82. In order for me to win I need to knock off 6-8 lbs in the next two weeks which well, really isn't realistic. Maybe I can hope my biggest competitor has a slip up week or plateaus herself. Wishful thinking.

It has been difficult for me mentally as well because I am working out hard every day. I am for the most part being very diligent with my eating. I go off track sometimes regarding food choices but even then I still religiously stay within my points ranges. At this point my working out is actually working against me. What I lose in fat I am gaining in muscle which is a big part of why the numbers get funny. Too bad the competition wasn't based on inches lost as opposed to weight lost.

As it stands now I have only 25 lbs left to go to reach my overall goal. I am vey proud of the progress I have made. After this challenge I really will only have one more round to go and that one may prove to be the hardest as I get closer to my goal.

I am reminding myself that biggest loser challenges will come and go. I am in this for the fitness and healthy eating lifestyle long haul. Heck, I've even started drinking veggie fruit shakes in the evening. Still it would be nice to win, I really do need to buy some new runners.

But biggest loser challenge aside I still say I am doing very well. My choices get better every day. My body is getting toned more and more each workout I do. I am coming up to that last 25 lb push and I am really going to push. I have a plan and I am implementing it every day.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Homeschool Fess Up

So it seems as though this past year has been a big derailment from what I envisioned. I hear on the homeschool grapevine that that happens a lot. Each year is a new year to learn about your children and yourself. Each year presents different challenges, different goals, different gains and losses.

One big thing I discovered about myself is...I HATE CURRICULUM PLANNING. While I love the idea and the practice of using "real books" it is the tying everything together that really really bogs me down. On a yearly overview I can plan it out, even on a monthly overview I can plan it out. But when it comes to the day to day I get so overwhelmed.

Spring is around the corner (I'll keep telling myself that) which means that homeschool convention time is nearing. That means that talk and planning of curriculum comes up. Sometimes I think homeschoolers spend as much time deliberating and debating as they do actually teaching the dang stuff. I know that is true in my case. I have read my guide books, I've done so much online research.

I feel like I sit between wanting to be the perfect planned daily homeschooling mother and wanting my children to learn an all encompassing and self guided approach as is unschooling. Rock meet hard place.

Truth be told we have been doing a lot of unschooling. I don't like to admit this because I fear the fall out from it. What will others think?? Am I failing my kids?? How are they possibly learning?? Those are some of the guilty thoughts that pop in my brain. But all I have to do is really observe them to see that they ARE learning. They are absorbing so much. Sitting back and allowing them to gravitate to their interests and learn various concepts seems both lazy and gratifying to me at the same time.

Nonetheless I don't feel 100% confident in unschooling so it is not a path I can take. Not to mention what *gasp* others will think. I care to much about what others think really. I have to work on that.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me waffling between curriculums. Where do we go from here? Thankfully I have never made a massive financial investment into resources (thank you internets) so I can shove any guilt there. And as a homeschooler I have the flexibility to shift gears whenever I think we need to.

Who says curriculum starts fresh and book spines cracked for the first time in September. I can rock and roll this thing anyway I want.

In going forward here are a few random thoughts:
-I can't stand the daily curriculum planning
-I know what I would like to approach subject wise
-I don't like printing. Free resources are great...until you are on your 10th ream of paper and millionth ink cartridge
-While my boys are rambunctious they do seem to enjoy sitting down and doing worksheets, go figure.
-I really need to separate my homeschool pinboard into different areas.
-With three kids already and a very busy husband I don't have time to spend fretting about daily lesson plans
-I like knowing what I *should* be doing and then doing my own thing based on that

With some of these points and other in mind here are some less random thoughts:
-We need a core curriculum to guide us through each day
-The free resources will make great supplemental material
-We need flexibility to take days off
-We need flexibility to delve deeper into areas of greater interest
-I need to use both curriculum and my children as my guide
-Most of all I want learning to be fun and exciting for my children

Over next while I am going to be working on creating more balance where all of this is concerned. Say a little prayer for me. Imma gonna need it.




Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Flyer Shopping Success


In my last post I talked about going grocery shopping with a list that was based on flyers. My plan was to save money. Overall it is kind of tricky to gauge how much I saved because that shopping trip included a several things other than just food. And where food was concerned I also had to “stock up” on a few items. 

Overall though I think we did quite well. When I subtract all the extras we had a grocery bill of about $150. That included fruits, veggies, frozen goods, meats, dairy, and other grocery aisle items. Not too bad considering that will feed our family of five for the whole week. 







Sadly though we still had to spend quite a bit in addition to the grocery bill. But where I could I still looked for the on sale items. 

Miscellaneous items included:
coffee maker (only $15!) 
hair elastics
deodorant
toothbrushes
conditioner
diapers
wipes 
gauze
kettlebell

I also squeezed in a trip to the bulk food store. I heart the bulk food store. The one I go to is local and has a great selection plus all sorts of wonderful kitchen gadgets and such. For the most part nothing I picked up there was “necessary” but it is part of what I consider stocking up. I spent just over $50 there BUT that included a jar of coconut oil. I heart coconut oil as much as the bulk food store even though it cost $20!! 



I also splurged there and picked up the ingredients to make some copy cat Holy Crap cereal (I’ll post on that later).

While I wish we hadn’t had to spend quite so much I know that if I use the same plan of attack next week that our bill will be a lot lower. No need for many of the miscellaneous items, no need for a trip to the bulk store and a lot of what I picked up this week will last over the next few weeks (and some up to a month at least)

To sum up...A) we saved money (or so I think) and B) I can have nice warm meals ready for when Daddy gets home instead of him popping out to the store C) No more store trips during the week will greatly alleviate the extras we don’t need. 

I am giving myself a pat on the back. 

PS: Bonus Item...I had a Joe gift card so before hitting the grocery areas I took a quick spin through the clothing. I knew I wanted a new workout top so I went straight to the clearance rack and found a cute top. Regular price $20, on sale for $10 and with my $10 gift card the top was FREE! Can’t beat free. 



Sunday, 20 January 2013

Flyer Shopping

So confession, I've never been a very good meal planner and grocery shopper. Yes I meal plan from time to time and yes I make a pretty good list to keep me on track at the store but I have shall we say, expensive food taste. I know what I like and I make what I like. However that doesn't mean it has to cost an arm and a leg. We also don't get flyers so I don't usually have my finger on the pulse of what is on sale so when I make a list I just go with what I feel like. Normally that leads to a large grocery bill.

In our neck of the woods too coupons really don't do much for us. Canada does not have the same coupon extremes that the United States has. It has always been that way. An additional beef I have with coupons is that the majority of coupons are for processed and packaged goods. Things with lots of food additives and dyes and artificial flavours. Things we do not buy much of. You usually don't get coupons for apples and bananas and ground turkey.

Anyways, moving on. I've also sort of been doing the flyer thing somewhat wrong. I make my list and then look at the flyers to see where things are cheapest, but 90% of the time what is on my list isn't on sale. Today though I had a personal epiphany. What if I look at the flyers online to see what is on sale, make a list of what I like that is on sale and then base my meal plan off that. Like a light bulb. Who knew flyer shopping was like rocket science??

Ergo, I have my meal plan, my strategic list and a plan to hit four different stores. Will this help? Not sure. Will it be cheaper? Should be but again I am not sure. I'll be popping out shortly for this epic grocery run. I will check back in later to report on my success.


Friday, 4 January 2013

The New Kind of Fluff

EEEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!!

I was so excited to look out my window yesterday and see a brown box sitting at the front door. I KNEW it was my box of new fluff. And no I am not talking about the cloth diaper kind.

Before Christmas a very dear friend gave me a most generous gift certificate to Knit Picks which is an  online knitting store that we have been coveting the goods of. I very carefully planned out what I needed for yarn and needles for my next few projects and then clicked submit order.

I received the shipping email on the 27th and followed the tracking religiously (I'm a bit obsessive that way). I jumped for joy (almost quite literally) when I saw that it was in my city and then I did a happy dance (very literally) when I saw it was out for delivery.

When I saw the box out front I quickly threw on my coat and boots and went out to get it. I then ripped into it as carefully as I could.

Here are a few peaks at what I ordered...

All packaged up

A box fulla fun!

The whole shebang laid out



 The needles sets (Try IT setHarmony Wood CircularZephyr Acrylic Tips, and View Sizer which I like to call a sizermathingy but it's correct name is a needle gauge).

I can't wait to dig into all these things but all in due time. I still have one project on the go and I won't start the new ones until I am ready to roll on them. Each project that I chose to order for will help me develop certain skills. For example the wooden circulars are for making Evelyn's leg warmers with the Brava Rouge and my first time knitting in the round. The Dishie yarns are for making both bath (Orbit) and dish (Cottage) cloths. The cartoons yarns is for making cute little ankle jingles for the kids and will be my practice at knitting and purling. The dark green Moss is for making Max some "Hulk" fingerless gloves. 

My pet project out of it all will be using the lighter green Dragonscale. I will be making a lovely scarf for myself. One Row Lace Scarf is the name of the pattern. I think it will be perfect in the light green for spring. 

Now if you'll excuse me I have some knitting on my current project so that I can wrap it up and start on these new endeavours. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2013: Onward and Upward

While Christmas was awesome the very end of 2012 and the very beginning of 2013 has been slightly less than stellar. A nasty cold bug has claimed all of us. We came home from the farm to find our basement sewer drain is broken. The coffee maker inexplicably doesn't work. Then yesterday morning, new years day, my plans of making waffles was thwarted by plugged up sinks. But I say whatevs. Those are all still first world problems. We can buy medicine for our colds, I can drink tea instead of coffee, and as long as I don't let out much water at a time we can temporarily see past the sewer drain problem.

Thus I say ONWARD AND UPWARD. I see a many great things coming our way. If we focus on our plans and dreams then any other road blocks just become bumps in the grand scheme of things.

Here are my predictions for 2013...

-A lot of craftiness coming down the pipe. With my new found love of knitting and rekindled relationship with my sewing machine and my addiction to Pinterest I see so many projects. Where sewing is concerned there is potential for  curtains, slipcovers for the sofa, cute outfits for Evelyn (a great use for my stash of fat clothes), and quilts for all. Then there is the knitting of scarves and leg warmers, and gloves oh my. I put love into my cooking so why not throw some love into the things we wear and also dress our house with.

-Continued progress on my health and fitness goals. I started the new year at 179. I took my measurements today as well (Bust 39.5, Waist 37.5, Hips 45.5). I kicked off 2013 yesterday by starting the 30 Day Shred over again but this time with my new 8 lb dumbbells. With my workout DVD collection and the Sworkit and C25K apps there is no excuse for getting bored. My inlaws also moved into a new condo with a pool...hello free lap swimming. Don't forget about what fuels the body too. While we don't consume a lot of processed food there is still a lot of progress to made in the clean eating department. This will be an ongoing challenge for the future.

-More consistent blogging. I have so many posts that I don't finish and don't publish. I have a lot of ideas of things I want to blog on. I am thinking a lot on how to narrow down what topics I speak on. I want to provide more information from things I have learned. The trouble is fitting in when to write. That brings me to the next point.

-More organized living. We need to purge so much from this house. We need to bring less and less into this house. I already pitched a few bags of junk yesterday. Thankfully the Ikea opened a month and a bit ago so I am making plans on how all of this will happen. I also want to have our time more organized. In general I want to organize our lives so that there is less time wasted and more time spent just being together and doing the things we enjoy (such as blogging).

-MUSIC!! The tribute act that Daddy is in has garnered a lot of interest. So far they are signed to an agency already with other agencies on the horizon. We could potentially be looking at some big life changes come March. I also would like to further my musical education, work on my technique and theory to the point where I could do RCM grade 9 practical and harmony exams. That is just something in the back of my mind.

-Potty Training for Evelyn. She is showing some definite signs of readiness. Perhaps in another few months we will order up some cloth trainers and get that ball rolling.

-Continued homeschooling. Fall somewhat came and left and seemed like it was one long big sick day. Sadly we got nowhere in terms of what I had planned. The new year though gives us an opportunity to change some ideas, scrap a few things, and focus on a few others.

-Renovations and upgrades for the home. Our house is old. Over 100 years old. It is in much need of a makeover and not just a mani pedi either. The insides needs some upgrading, specifically the furnace and the finicky hot water tank (which likes to leak pour from the pressure valve every so often). Carpets need to be ripped up and floors either refinished or painted. Walls need to be painted. The back room has been on hiatus for almost two years. The bathroom could use some renovating. Then there is the kitchen. None of this comes cheap either so we will chip away at things as best we can. I envision a much nicer and more comfortable living space near the end of 2013.

So those are all the BIG things that I see coming up. There are also some smaller things I would like. More trips to the bulk food store. More tea. A new coffee maker. A new book series to read (specifically the Lily Bard Series by Charlaine Harris). A new printer (to replace the broken one). Bunk beds for the boys and a toddler bed for baby girl. Possibly throw in a some new bedroom and school room furniture (again woot woot for the newly opened Ikea).

In the immediate future we have Max's 4th birthday coming up and on Monday we will be "back to school". Oh yeah and that pesky basement plumbing issue to take care of.

 It is going to be a big year for sure. Onward and upward I say. Wishing the best to all of you in 2013.