Search This Blog

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Upcycled Herb Garden

We were out for a walk on Monday morning and saw these drawers lying on the side of the road.

 I looked at the kids and said,  "We could probably use these for something!"  They helped me load them in the wagon that we were pulling Marcus in and we continued our journey, talking about what we could use them for.  By the time we arrived home, we had decided on creating a herb garden.

We immediately got to work drilling holes in the bottom for drainage.

 And then a trip to the plant nursery nearby for some potting soil and herb seedlings.  The kids enjoyed choosing which plants to purchase and we headed home with parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, chives and mint.

The next step was filling the drawers with potting soil.

 Even Marcus got in on the action!

Then each person took responsibility for one type of herb, carefully removing the young plants and placing them in the soil.

Finally after a good watering, we arranged our new herb boxes along with some stones we had lying around and voila! a beautiful herb garden. 

I really like how it turned out.  You know the saying....

One man's junk...

... another man's treasure!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Words

I heard three words at church yesterday that both convicted and inspired me.

They were not spoken in the sermon...

They were not sung in any of the hymns or special music...

They were said to me as I was leaving the sanctuary at the end of the service.

Amongst the goodbyes, nice to see you's, and the have a good week's that were being said as the congregation spilled into the hallway, one lady said to me,

"Enjoy your kids!"

She wouldn't know how much I needed to hear those three words. 

 Last week was a tough week.    Most of the week I honestly did not enjoy them.  I couldn't wait for bedtime or for Joe to come home to "rescue" me.

But it is that simple.. I need to make the decision to enjoy them.

And that is what I intend to do.

Have a great week... and if you have kids, ENJOY THEM!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fully Equipped

Last year, I started out the year by reading the Bible in 90 days (you can read about that here.) It was a great experience, one I wished to repeat so I decided to do the same this year.

January 2nd I started full of enthusiasm and ready to go but sometime after the fourth day I started to fall behind.
 1 day behind...
          2 days behind...
                    catch up a little...
                               3 days behind... that's been the pattern for the past week.

On Friday I was discouraged. Not because I am behind... it's the time spent with God, reading and understanding the message of the Bible, that matters most for me. I was discouraged because for days I had been picking up God's word and reading but I wasn't getting anything out of it... I was praying for God to give me something fresh each day but I was struggling to get through the reading. Have you ever been in the place when you know you are just going through the motions? That's exactly where I was on Friday and I was even asking God if I should be doing the 90 day plan. "Maybe you didn't want me to do this, I should just scrap it and start again another time, I can do some other devotional or bible study instead."

Then God showed up.. just in time like he always does.  Right in the midst of my discouragement, as I was struggling through the book of Exodus, he encouraged me.

Before I tell you the passage and how it spoke to me, let me first tell you that I was having a bad week...  it was our first full week back to school after Christmas break and by Tuesday I was ready to call it quits!  I was feeling inadequate as a mom, inadequate as a teacher, I thought that the only thing my kids were learning from me was how to yell.   It was definitely "one of those weeks".  All that was running through my head was "I can't do this anymore."

So back to Friday morning during my time with God, desperate for something else, something new but doubting whether I would find it in Exodus.. in the middle of the chapters where God was giving Moses the requirements for setting up the tabernacle:  "Make an alter for incense... make a bronze basin... take fragrant spices..."  AND THEN....

Chapter 31...
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make."

It was GOD that appointed these men and GOD who equipped these men.  GOD gave them the wisdom, ability and expertise.. HE has gifted them.

I heard God loud and clear...

               "I have appointed you, Rusheika to be the mother of these children.  I have appointed you to teach them.   AND  I have equipped you to do just that. 
                                                  Trust me... follow me...      
                                                                 so you can do the things I have commanded you to do."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Maestro Classics: A Review

Have you ever heard of Maestro Classics?

Photobucket Maestro Classics is a collection of CD's that introduce children to classical music through stories. Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the CD's are entertaining and educational.

I am always looking for ways to enrich the kids learning so I was happy to receive The Story of Swan Lake in the mail to review. The Story of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s greatest ballet score, is the tale of a prince who falls in love with a beautiful princess. The princess, however, has been turned into a swan by an evil magician, and only the prince’s love can break the spell.

Photobucket The music along with the narration is beautiful and the kids enjoyed listening to it, but what made this CD even more fantastic were the additional treasures on the CD, the booklet that accompanied it and the website with access to wonderful resources.

There was something for all of my kids:

The most obvious was the opportunity for Eden (age 4) to dance. She is currently in her first year of ballet (really pre- ballet) and she loves to twirl and pliƩ to the music.

One of the tracks on the CD is a modernized version of Swan Lake with an electric guitar which Eli (age 6) our aspiring rockstar, loved.

Micaiah (age 8) enjoyed hearing and reading about the life of Tchaikovsky which was highlighted in the  24-page activity book included with the CD.  The book also contains information on acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music and words for a sing-along song, explanation of major and minor keys, puzzles and more.

And finally, since music is great for brain development it is perfect for Marcus (18 months) who had no choice but to listen as most of our listening time was in the car  ("carschooling" is the best!)

One of the resources that I explored but only scratched the surface of was the online curriculum guide.   The guides are designed to accompany the Maestro Classics CDs and cover topics in history, science, geography, language arts, music, art and math. The website provides links to many valuable resources.  After we listened to the CD a couple of times, I used ideas from the guide to teach the kids about Russia (the home of Tchaikovsky),  we watched a science video clip about air pressure and a bird's ability to fly, we learned about the history of the crossbow and how it works (another one of Micaiah's favourites) and watched how to make an origami swan... which we still need to try ourselves along with many other great ideas.  We could have done a week or two long unit study based on this CD and one day maybe we will.

The company has many other titles that I am definitely going to add to our homeschool wish list including:

  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • Tortoise and the Hare
  • Juanita the Spanish Lobster (available in English and Spanish)
  • Casey at the Bat
  • Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • My Name is Handel:The Story of Water Music
  • The Soldier's Tale

The CD's are geared toward 5 to 12 year olds and are about $17 per CD or $10 for a MP3 download.  They are also available as bundled packs.  I would love to collect all of them(... just throwing a hint out to anyone who cares!!)

Go on and check it out for yourself or click here to see what others are saying.

Disclaimer:  As a reviewer for the TOS crew, I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest (favourable or otherwise) review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Homeschool Spanish: A Review

PhotobucketOne of our desires is for our children to be fluent in a second language. Both Joe and I learned French in school but neither of us remember more than a few words and phrases. We decided that Spanish is probably a good language to learn, a lanuguage that could take them many places in the future. The kids and I joined a Spanish class a couple of years ago which we enjoyed but after the coordinator left the island, we never continued. I loved the class because it was relaxed, the coordinator used sign language, songs, and props to make the classes fun AND I could join in and learn Spanish too.  Since then I have looked for a similar process of learning Spanish that I could do on my own so I was so pleased when we were chosen to review Homeschool Spanish: A R.E.A.L Curriculum for the Whole Family. The REAL stands for Relax, Enjoy, Aspire, Learn Spanish!  Sounded like the perfect fit... and so far so good!

I didn't get as far as I had hoped in the program during the review period as it fell smack dab in the middle of Christmas prep and holiday time, but I was able to use it enough to know it is definitely a resource that we will continue with.  The kids have responded well with it and are actually learning!  AND so am I... and you know the saying "It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks!" The first day I introduced the program to the kids I said "Bonjour mes enfants!"  Oh dear...wrong language.. this is going to be good!  I must say things have gotten much better since then!!

So what are the strengths of this program?

It was written specifically for home educators and was developed in order to enable parents to learn along with their child and could be easily incorporated into daily life.  It is built upon a conversational Spanish foundation and does not take a lot of preparation time.  The author Dr. Karyn Williamson-Coria, is the homeschooling mom of 3 boys.  You can read more about her and the philosophy of the program here.

The curriculum comes as a book bundle which is available in hardcopy ($89.95)or as downloadable ebooks ($49.95).

This main book includes home educator tips, ideas for getting started, tips for using it for multiple children of different ages, and ideas to incorporate cultural elements into your learning experience.

The bundle includes a Daily Curriculum guide which takes the guess work out of how the material should be presented each week.  The lessons are broken up into ten units (or 48 weeks) which are made up of vocabulary clusters and  useful phrases for presenting the material.  Idea sections provide suggested activities for reinforcing learning throughout daily life.

There is an  activity book full of fun activities like word search and crossword puzzles, fill in the blanks and unscramble activities.  An answer book is provided.  Micaiah (age 8) has enjoyed this and is able to work on most of the activities in his own.  Eli (age 6) needs quite a bit of assistance from me but that has only helped reinforce my learning as well.   The kids (including Eden- age 4) have started making a collection of picture flash cards to help them remember the words that we are learning.

I have some Spanish board books I was trying to use with the kids.. they are great because they have the Spanish and English words on the same page.  The problem is that I have no clue how to pronounce the Spanish words!  This program comes with audio files so there is no guess work... no logging on to the internet trying to find the right pronunciation... it is all there!

The company offers email support, which I haven't need to use but it is good to know if it is there if we do.

This is a great, well thought out program.  So far it is proving to be what it claims... a program for the whole family which can be learned in a relaxed, enjoyable way.  I look forward to continuing and I am confident that we will continue to be successful in our learning! Check out or purchase the curriculum  here or see what others using this curriculum have to say here.

Hasta luego Amigos!

 Disclaimer:  As a reviewer for the TOS crew, I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest (favourable or otherwise) review.