Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Around The Homestead: 38 Weeks Pregnant Getting Ready For Baby & Spring

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to post an update.  Last time I was still rather upset that because of my blood pressure being on the high side that I wouldn’t be able to have another home birth.  The good news on that end is that my blood pressure readings for the past month are doing much, much better.  Still on the high side of normal, but they are NORMAL.  We are still planning to use the birth center, because if my blood pressure was to spike during labour I really wouldn’t want to have to transfer in the middle of it!  While it’s not the same as being home, since we’ve had a chance to tour the center I’ve relaxed quite a bit.  After all I’m blessed that I can still use our wonderful midwives.  The nurses at the center are great, although aren't normally involved with the midwife births.  It’s very private and more homey then the hospital our first child was born in.   I’m 38 weeks and 5 days along now.  Feeling so huge and can’t wait to hold our dear baby!

I’m still taking a lot of supplements and made some big changes in our diets.  After 7 months of 24/7 morning sickness I fell into the habit of eating anything that was quick, easy and would stay down.  Normal during that stage! LOL  But now that I’m feeling better we’ve cut out most processed foods so that would have reduced my salt intake quite a bit.  All my snacks are fresh fruits and veggies now.  I’ve been craving oranges and carrots like crazy.  I’m still taking a high dose of calcium to help control my blood pressure and since my tummy is back to normal I’m also taking a really good vitamin B stress blend, code liver oil, and a natural iron supplement.  I think that all of these things and trying to get more rest have gone a long way in lowering my blood pressure and I’m so grateful for that.

Everything is ready for the little one to come.  The bag is all packed for the birth center and our home birth supplies are ready as well.  I’ve always had short labours so it’s best to be ready for either!  Even if you plan to have a hospital birth you never know if your labour could come on very suddenly.  Things go much smoother if you have supplies on hand!  Our 4th child was delivered by hubby just a few minutes before our Midwife arrived.  She was such an easy and quick birth!  I had no idea at the time that she would come so quick, I thought I was still in early labour.  LOL

A few weeks ago a dear friend was over to watch the kids for us while we had the registration at the hospital birth center.  After that we had our last “date”  out for likely the next year or so.  We had a wonderful lunch of fish and chips at a restaurant we’ve been wanting to try for a long time, Captains John’s Fish and Chips.    The best fish and chips meal we’ve had in years!!  Then we had the last of the shopping for the baby to do.  One stop was a farmers market where hubby had met a woman who did weaving.  He loved the work she had done and wanted me to see it to.  While there we bought a new blanket for the baby.  It’s a beautiful hand woven blanket just the right size for a car seat cover or stroller cover.  It’s white with spring/Easter colours, the camera just can’t pick up the colours that well.

baby blanket

baby blanket close up

Other updates around the homestead, we have had some nicer weather this past week.  Even with the rain and milder temps. we still have a ton of snow!  Last week down near the green house there was still about 4 feet on the ground.  Other areas have at least 2 feet of packed snow.  The warmer temperatures have started the maple sap running.  We’ve tapped one of the trees and hubby has been making a little syrup.  Just enough for a nice treat!  The biggest tree has already started to bud, so we can’t tap that one.  The sap would be getting bitter.

Today we started bringing loads of wood chips for this years garden.  I likely wont’ be up to doing much in the garden until mid summer.  So I’m glad that hubby and the kids are really excited about running the garden this year!

IMG_2494I’ve been busy this past week getting the kids school lessons planned out.  Our oldest has her lessons done and entered into Homeschool Tracker until the end of the year.  Then I printed off a daily task list for her until the end of May.   All needed photo copies of worksheets have been made and are ready for her to use.  This makes it so simple for her after the baby comes to keep working.

With the younger children they are largely using online programs.  Reading Kingdom for phonics, reading, typing and grammar.  Science4Us, for obviously science!  Xtramath and TimezAttack for math drill and for their main math they are using Math Mammoth right now.  Social studies and literature is covered by Ambleside Online and we are using audio books right now.  All of these can be done on their own, except Math Mammoth that does need a little help with reading directions.  Hubby can easily handle helping the little ones out with that. :-)  So grateful that he is always happy to take over lessons with the little's until I’m back on my feet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

35 Weeks Pregnancy Frustrations And Blessings

I haven't been up to posting much these past few months.  Part way through my pregnancy I started having some issues with my blood pressure spiking up.  It seemed that my body just isn't responding to stresses as well as it used to.  A sign of getting older I guess

Some times when my bp was checked it would be very high, but after resting for a little while it would be fine.  I had thought it was because of a long stressful day and the kids driving me crazy. lol  So I was advised by my wonderful midwives to R&R as much as I can.  I've been trying to take it as easy as I possibly can.  Funny though that the very next day in Jan. that started a slew of frozen water pipes and other break downs.  Oh yes that made it so easy to relax. LOL!!

At my last appointment I had just turned 35 weeks and my bp was still reading high.  It's not high enough yet that a Dr. would treat me for high bp, but it's high enough that my midwives don't want me to deliver this baby at home.  It's so frustrating after having a stressful hospital birth with our first then four wonderful home births that I won't be able to do that again.  But at least so far my bp doesn't require transfer to a Dr. and I can deliver with my midwives at the hospital birthing center.  The main reason for delivering in the hospital is a worry about preeclampsia developing during labour.  So far other then my bp spiking I have no symptoms of it.  Praying it stays that way!

I've started taking a high dose of calcium that is suppose to help lower blood pressure.  Also a stress B vitamin mix and cod liver oil now that my tummy has finally calmed down.  Morning sickness lasted almost all the way through this pregnancy just like it did with my first one.  Still my midwives don't think my bp would go down to completely normal by the time of the birth.  So we'll be having a natural induction at the birth center.

I have to say I've been a big mix of emotions the past few days over this.  Trying to find someone who can watch the kids while we are at the hospital.  A problem we've never had to deal with before since I normally give birth at night and at home when the kids were sleeping.  Trying to calm my nerves about being in a place that isn't my home etc.

On the other hand I'm so grateful that my bp and health in general isn't worse than it is and that the wee baby is doing great!!  Also that so far unless my health gets worse (praying it gets better!) I'll still be able to use my wonderful midwives.

So just a little over 3 weeks to go now!  We are still busy trying to get everything ready for the wee ones arrival.

Mastering 5th Grade Math Volume 1 Essentials of Fractions ~ Review


I've recently had the wonderful opportunity to review Mastering 5th Grade Math Volume 1 Essentials of Fractions by was created by Jason Gibson who began making science and math videos in 2004.  Jason has a passion for teaching how science works with simple experiments you can do at home.  He also created a math program that teaches how and why we need math.  Math is used heavily in science yet so many children in the public school systems are taught math for years with out learning the connection until much later.


What we received

We were given the DVD edition of Mastering 5th Grade Math Volume 1 Essentials of Fractions - Video Course + Worksheets.  The first DVD contains all the video lessons and the second disk has all the worksheets in PDF format for printing.   This DVD program is recommended for children in grades 4 to 6.

Table of Contents

  • Lesson 1: Review of Fraction Concepts
  • Lesson 2: Writing Fractions as Words
  • Lesson 3: Finding Factors of Numbers
  • Lesson 4: Finding the Greatest Common Factor
  • Lesson 5: Finding the GCF of 3 Numbers
  • Lesson 6: Prime Factorization
  • Lesson 7: Equivalent Fractions
  • Lesson 8: Renaming Fractions
  • Lesson 9: Simplifying Fractions, Part 1
  • Lesson 10: Simplifying Fractions, Part 2
  • Lesson 11: Review of Improper Fractions
  • Lesson 12: Review of Mixed Fractions
  • Lesson 13: Writing Mixed Fractions as Improper Fractions
  • Lesson 14: Writing Improper Fractions as Mixed Fractions
  • Lesson 15: Thinking of Fractions as Division
  • Lesson 16: Writing Whole Numbers as Fractions


How We Used Mastering 5th Grade Math Fractions

When I first received the DVD set I wanted to pre watch some of the lessons to get a feel for the program.  I was really impressed by the teacher Jason Gibson.  He's very engaging and encouraging to students.  I really liked that the lessons are geared to both visual and auditory learners.  As Jason works over the lesson he writes and draws out the information on the whiteboard using different coloured markers.  While doing this he also reads the notes out loud.  I found this helped my children to remember the information better. It also helps if you have a struggling or slower reader.

I have been using this program with my 6th and 4th grader and my 3rd grader has been joining in a little to.  Most of the time we watch the DVD lessons on our TV since it's larger then the laptop screen it's easier for every one to see the lessons.  Each video lesson is about 10 minutes long.  I'm usually nearby to answer any questions the children might have, although we've found the DVD does an excellent job of explaining things!  I like that this frees me up to do other work at the same time.  Often I can work with my younger children while the older kids work on their math lesson.

The second DVD that contains the PDF worksheets, I print out a head of time.  Each lesson has multiple worksheets starting with a easy one and then getting a little more complex as each sheet goes on.  I have all of my older kids work on the first worksheet.  For some it's review and others it's the first formal introduction to this topic.  The older children I have also do the additional worksheets at a deeper level.
I really love that the worksheets are in colour but simple and not overwhelmingly busy.  The colour helps the children to focus and see the differences in the fractions, yet having just a few questions on each worksheet makes the page easier to focus on and not "scary" for children who might not be math lovers.


The DVD edition is currently available on their website for $15.99 and there is also a download edition for $14.99.

They also have free samples of their lessons up.  For Volume 1 Fractions you can watch the video and download the worksheets for lesson 1, 6 and 7.

To learn more about check out their website and on Facebook to!

Other Volumes in the 5th Grade Math series are:

Volume 2 Add and Subtract Fractions Video Course + Worksheets ~ Adding and subtracting fractions, mixed numbers, word problems and more.

Volume 3 Multiply and Divide Fractions - Video Course + Worksheets ~ Multiplying and dividing fractions, mixed numbers, word problems and more.

Volume 4 Multiplication and Long Division - Video Course + Worksheets ~ Order of operations, decimals, multiplication, long division and more.

I've been very impressed with how this program teaches later elementary math and I'm hoping to add their other volumes to our teaching resource!

To read more reviews of Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1 - Essentials of Fractions  and other math and science videos by the same company click the banner below to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members think!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014 ~ Review ~ Teaching Science To Early Elementary


Science is one of our family’s favourite subjects.   So I was super excited when I heard about!  As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I had the opportunity to review Online Subscription for the past several weeks.

What Is is a complete standards based curriculum for grades kindergarten to 2 grade and serves as review for grades 3 to 5.   The main part of this program is an online and interactive, something our children love!

Topics included are:


  • Science Tools


  • Matter ~ Materials and Mixtures, Observing Matter , States of Matter, Changes in Matter
  • Energy ~ Energy Sources, Light Energy, Heat Energy, Sound Energy, Electrical Energy, Energy Transformations
  • Force and Motion ~ Location and Perspective, Motion, Force, Magnets, Simple Machines


  • Living Things ~ Living and Nonliving, Plants, Animals
  • Balance In Nature ~ Food Webs, Habitats,Eco Awareness


  • Earth ~ History of Earth, Materials, Features, Weather
  • Space ~ Exploring the Universe, Earth in Space


When you first log into your teachers account there is a welcome video I highly recommend watching.  After that is finished there is a series of videos at the bottom of the screen that area also very helpful.  These show you how how to use the notebook, student guide and how math skills, literacy skills and other activities are taught. also offers a scope and sequence if you want a guide to follow.

There are two menu boxes in the middle of your teachers screen.  The first one is Account Tools.  Under here you can access the menus for managing your account and your student accounts.   The next menu box is Teaching Tools.  In this box you find links to Lesson Plans, Teaching Strategies, Student Reports, Assignments and the notebook.

science4usWhen you click on the lesson plan link it takes you to a new screen.  Along the top are tabs with drop down menus for the subjects listed above.  You select what module you would like to work on.  Then it opens to a lesson plan screen for that module. 


On this page it lists the module description, core concepts and has a list of essential vocabulary for this unit.
Under this there is a professional development section.  Here you can download a PDF called the teacher explain printable or watch a video containing the same information.  This gives an overview of the module for both the teacher part and student part along with ideas for discussion.
On the right side of the screen it gives an estimate of how long this session will take.  Also available is a teachers guide.  This includes directions for the module for grades K-2 and worksheets that can be printed.   Also beside the module name is a “Quick Assign” button.  Clicking on this brings up a new menu where you can select all or part of the module and assign it to your student.


Under the Student Report menu you can see a chart showing all of your students, when their last login was, how many times they've logged in, how many activities they've completed, how many activities they have opened, how much time has been spent and the work they've saved.  In order to see their progress on each module you have to select it from under the topic tabs.  Then you see another chart showing their progress.


When the student logs into their account there is also an interdiction video for them to watch.  This is very helpful and I suggest watching it!  If you have assign assignments to your student they will appear in the middle of the screen.  In the top right of the screen are 4 books of science on each for  inquiry, physical, life and earth/space.

Students can click on one of these books then select what module they would like to work on.  In each module there are videos that introduce and teach the topic.  Then there are interactive games and notebooking activities to work on.  Many of the activities also include math work and language arts, such as the SillyBull’s game where students unscramble and work with syllables for that module.




How We Used

We are a relaxed style of homeschoolers and our children LOVE online learning.  It really appeals to their right brain strengths.  I was supper excited to review this product because although science is one of our favourite subjects here, I’m getting near the end of my pregnancy.  I’m tired and have been on partial bed rest.  I was glad to have a way our children could continue to explore science with out turning the house into a complete chaos of mess!


Although offers a scope and sequence you do not have to do the lessons in any order.  I simply showed my children how to use the site and let them pick topics they were interested in.  They were free to work a bit in life science then a little in earth science if they like.  We haven’t used many of the pintables because not all of my children enjoy worksheets and I found the online activities with the online notebook to be enough for them right now.  Of course if they want more it’s nice to have them available!

Our children have really enjoyed using and we will defiantly continue using it for the rest of our subscription time.  After that if they have expanded their content, I would be interested in keeping our subscription as well.

Improvements to the site that I would love to see would be an easy way to see what module each child worked on last.  Right now the only way to find the progress is to go to each module and look at the charts.  It would be great if a summery was emailed to the parent/teacher and it had a last used in the dashboard.  My only other wish is that they continue to expand their content for higher grades!  I’m hopeful that they will.

How To Get is an online subscription program.  They currently charge $7.95 a month per child.

To learn more about visit them at:

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teaching Music To Young Children With KinderBach ~ Review


Our children love music, in fact our home is not often quiet.  It seems like there is always someone singing, dancing or playing music.   Because of this I’m always on the look out for fun ways to bring music into their lives.  I was so excited when I had the opportunity to review KinderBach Online Piano Lessons again!  I have used this program in the past with our older children and they had loved it.  KinderBach is a super fun way to learn music.

What is KinderBach?

BooksKinderbach_zpsfd74e49e I received a 6 month subscription to KinderBach’s Online Piano Lessons program with Teachers Corner.  This program is intended for children ages 3 to 7 years old.  Included in this program are music lessons Levels 1 to 6 with access to all of the web lessons.  60 weeks of music lessons and this is over 240 sessions!  Membership also includes all the needed  downloadable work pages, coloring pages, song books, story books, mp3 downloads and more.


KinderBach is a fun, interactive music lesson program for young children.  Although it’s intended for children aged 3 to 7, older children who haven’t had music lesson may enjoy it as well.  I know my older children loved it when they used it last time!  KinderBach lessons are short and move slowly, a great pace for young children.   The videos use cute cartoon characters to introduce music topics to children.  Some times they need to play the keyboard or rhythm instrument along with  Karrie in the video or complete the worksheets to answer questions.


KinderBach gently teaches children to:

  • identify music direction
  • play simple songs
  • keep proper hand and finger positions
  • read staff notes for voice and the keyboard
  • how to master new rhythm notes and beats

What You Will Need

  • A keyboard or piano with at least 3 to 4 octaves.  This is a 36 to 48 key, keyboard.
  • A fast internet connection for viewing the videos.
  • A computer or tablet to view videos.
  • Basic art supplies, crayons, scissors etc.
  • Simple rhythm instruments.

How To Get KinderBach

KinderbachPianoLessonsOnline_zps667ab230 KinderBach’s Online Lessons are normally priced at $130 per year, however right now they are on sale for $95.88 per year.  That’s only $7.99 per month for a years lessons!  You can use this with as many children in your home as you like.  Not sure if it’s right for you?  KinderBach offers the first 2 weeks as a free trail!

How We Used KinderBach

Our children just loved using this program.  The video lessons are short often 3 to 7 minutes each.  I had originally planned to do one lesson per day with our ds 5 years old and dd 6 years old, however most days they wanted to do more!  These music lessons are always a fun part of our day and often then want to watch the video lessons over and over again.

When it was time for their music lessons I would ask them to gather up the rhythm instruments and craft supplies.  This would give me some time to log into KinderBach and find the next lesson.  Under each lesson is a printer icon if you need to print any worksheets for this lesson.  These are also available in the Teachers Corner and I normally would print a weeks worth of lessons at a time.  Then I put them into binders for the kids to use.  They loved having their own music notebooks!  Once the supplies were gathered, it is as simple as clicking play on the videos and letting the kids follow along.  How much simpler could music lessons be for pre K and early elementary?

Early in the lessons children will need a simple rhythm instrument to play along with the beats.  This can be anything from a tambourine, maracas or a bowl and spoon.  My little ones had fun raiding my cupboards for “instruments”.  We also made shakers out of toilet paper rolls and rice and beans.  We normally watched the lessons on the laptop set up near their keyboard, but they also played very well on our little android tablet.  This would be great for portability!  I can see the kids requesting to practice on the deck when the nice weather comes.  Hmm maybe!

I would recommend this as a gentle and fun way to introduce music to young children.

Would You Like To Learn More?

To learn more you can find KinderBach here:

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

RootsTech A Great Resource

I haven't posted much this week since I've been knocked out with some virus.  But I really wanted to share that RootsTech that has been live streaming many of their seminars the past few days is a wonderful resources!  They've already started adding recorded videos you can watch.

There have been so many great presentations.  I really enjoyed Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman talk on blogging family stories and photos.  There were also some great talks on photo restoration, recording family stories, organizing digital files etc.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning Crafts For Kids & Adults


This week the edition of the Virtual Curriculum Fair is on adding beauty to our homeschooling.  For our family one way we do this is having fun with handicrafts!  Our children love to make useful things for the home.  It helps to give them a real sense of purpose in their work.

If you would like to learn how to crochet I’ve made a few beginner video tutorials.

How To Crochet ~ The Chain Stitch

How To Crochet ~ The Single Stitch

How To Crochet ~ The Double Stitch

Knitting Tutorial’s

Long Tail Cast On

The Knit Stitch

The Pearl Stitch

Easy crochet patters to start with.

Cozy Country Shawl Pattern

Easy Crochet Child’s Hat Pattern

Crochet Ribbed Hat

Dying wool with food colour is a super fun activity to do with children.  Then they love to use their created yarn to make gifts with.

Tutorial How To Dye Wool With Food Colouring.


Do you have a post sharing how you add beauty to your homeschool?  Please add it to the linky below!

Check out what my homeschool blog buddies are sharing about the arts and beauty:  (note all links will be live by noon 1/27)

44 Awesome Free Resources to Study Art and Music! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Finding Beauty with Classical Composers Monthly by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Art and Music Appreciation Resource Lists by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Easy Guided Drawing: Benefits and Resources by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

A Peek into our Homeschool: Seeking Beauty by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

All Things Lovely by Michele P @Family, Faith and Fridays

Virtual Curriculum Fair: the Arts by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

You Gotta Have Art! by Lisa@GoldenGrasses

Classical Crochet... Or Something Like That by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

The Art of the Matter by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Art Curriculum For Homeschoolers by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

The Arts: Creating and Appreciating Beauty by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ The Arts & PDHPE by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

{Virtual Curriculum Fair 2014} Seeking Beauty: The Arts in Our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Learning Crafts For Kids & Adults by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Finding Time for Beauty in Homeschooling Including Fine Arts by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Arts & the Extras ~ These Are Some of Our Favorite Things by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

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