Friday, September 30, 2005

Swans and pita crisps


  • we did Home Economics 101 and learned to vacuum
  • Heather is learning to sit up
  • Elizabeth practiced writing the letter Ss and Oo
  • Zach practiced erasing his chalk board and making a mess all over the table
  • Elizabeth drew a picture of a swan from her 'Draw Write Now' book (such a good book)
  • We read more of our bible story book... The Israelites in the desert and then as they knock down the walls of Jericho. Zach liked this part :-)
  • We made the best snack!! (adapted from Sandi Richards recipe): take a pita bread and spread thinly with peanut butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, cut into wedges and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. As they cool they crisp up and are so yummy!
  • We are just about to learn about the hundreds castle in math, so I better go :-)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My little Students

Today is a nice warm fall day and we spent lots of time outside running around in the yard playing with bikes and leaves and the grass. I am just treasuring this time I have with my children. It is such a privilege to be able to homeschool them and spend so much time with them. I know if Elizabeth was at school this year, I would really miss her, and so would her little brother.

I love the fall... it always reminds me of when I was full of new life, waiting expectantly for my first little baby to come out and meet us. These few weeks of fall in Alberta are so beautiful and leave me busy planning all the fun things we will do over the winter months together... Spending more time with our family, reading books together on the couch, playing cards and laughing and laughing, preparing for Christmas time, and just enjoying each other. What funny looking tree will we get for Christmas this year? What silly story will I be left to tell after I attempt to make yet another turkey dinner? What will the kids faces look like on Christmas morning?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Zach's Duck and other things

He seemed as surprised as I was when he exclaimed 'Look mom! I drew a duck!!'.

Today we went to our kinder program at Phoenix and did some activities about dinosaurs. Again, Elizabeth had the most fun just running around playing with her little friend (who has glasses btw, so that's good!). I'm not sure if we'll keep on going all year to these kinder-programs because it is quite a drive for us, and the stuff they do there is so basic that she is getting bored somewhat. I'll try to remember my camera next week so you all can see a picture of her there. She isn't ecstatic about going, and doesn't throw a fit when we leave, so I can see it's maybe not worth our time to go every week. She has a lot more fun at home with her brother... again another benefit to homeschooling: her and Z would miss each other so much and really grow apart if she went off to school without him.

Being a big sister is really teaching her so much virtue!! Most of the time, she is so kind to him and so gentle. She often gives up her toys to let him play with them, and if he's ever sad she's very quick to draw him a train to cheer him up. I love watching her grow more responsible and compassionate with her siblings. Often she is more concerned about H than I am LOL.. the fussing baby gets easier to tune out for a bit when you're having one of those days, but Elizabeth always goes to cheer her up too :-)

Yesterday, she also did an art lesson out of her 'Draw Write Now' book and drew a cat . (we were learning the letter C).

I'm amazed by how her drawing has improved with just a few short lessons and guidance on what to do. I really want to find a good art curriculum for her next year and start using more mediums like water colors etc...

Oh! and her first clay class is starting tomorrow afternoon. I really hope she likes these. It's for 4-6 year olds and runs for 2 months.

Monday, September 26, 2005

writing resources and advent reading

I've had a few minutes to browse on the internet ( I just love all the resources you can find out there for anything you need.. especially for homeschooling). I found some great sites today:


Bravewriter... a really neat approach to teaching writing to your kids for homeschoolers.
her blog:

I can't wait for some time to sit down and really look through her website.. it's packed full of great stuff.


I've really been enjoying reading the forums over at 4real learning. See my 'links' section on the right. There is a booklist posted there by Elizabeth Foss for advent that looks like it has a wonderful selection of advent books to read apporaching xmas.

a story about princess rebecca and prince sam

First day back after a week of being sick...

We did pretty good! I got up in time to say my morning prayers, we got out the door in time for mass at 8am, and then at home we did our religion, math (still practicing making double digit numbers), phonics and then writing/art. All before lunch time!!

Here is Elizabeth's story that she wrote this morning: (the princess is drawn using a crayon rub thingy where you design a doll with different clothes and then rub the crayon over the bumps)

A story about Princess Rebecca and Prince Sam

Written by Elizabeth Blair
Illustrated by Elizabeth Blair

Once up on a time there was a beautiful castle, and a lovely kind princess lived in it. The princess was named Rebecca, and there was a lovely kind prince. The prince’s name was Sam.

The princess was going to marry Sam the prince. Sam the prince wanted to marry her and she loved him. She cared for him. She really loved him.

Princess Rebecca was going to go on a big trip and Sam the prince was going to come with her. They were going to go to the princess’s grandma’s house. They were going to go on their horses.

The End.

Friday, September 23, 2005


I took the kids to the eye doctor this week for a check up and it seems that Elizabeth has inherited my weird eyes (one nearsighted, one farsighted). The optometrist recommends getting eyeglasses for her... That should be interesting! She seems excited about the idea now, because she gets to look like mommy, and since she's going to be homeschooled I guess she won't have lots of kids making fun of her ... and most importantly she'll look so SMART :-)

Z and H both have normal vision, so I won't have to worry about it with them, and the doctor thinks that E will likely outgrow her own problems.

I'm getting new glasses too... Maybe you all can take bets on who will break their frames first this year, Me or Elizabeth. LOL.

Urgh... STILL sick!!

Well this has been a sick week. First zach then elizabeth, and now the baby. E and Z are starting to feel a bit better today, but now the baby is getting sick. I think I had about 3 hours of sleep last night (all after 5am LOL... Thank God that Sean didn't have to go to work today).

So what have we done for school this week? Not a whole lot of bookish stuff, but it's neat to reflect at the end of the day about all the learning opportunities we had throughout the day.

- Visits to the doctors office to see what they do there
- visits to the eye doctor (more on that later)
- watching Bambi on DVD (a classic!! but we fast-forwarded through the scary parts because Z was getting upset)... learned that a Doe is a mommy deer and a Buck is a daddy deer.
- read more stories in our children's bible. We are now up to the part where Moses is leading the Hebrews into the desert away from Egypt. (elizabeth's favorite)
- having fun with water painting, (she got a 'mini' watercolor set... really mini - about 2"x2". ) and then we looked in her picture books at examples of illustrators who used water colors. (I'd love to get some real watercolor paper.. and some water color pencils.
- an interesting attempt to make 'rubbery flubbery dough' (cornstarch and water cooked on the stove... yuck!!)

oh, and we got to visit grandma sonia for an afternoon (although elizabeth was sick so she just slept the whole time). But Zach sure had fun running around her place and playing with the tape measure. (grandma showed him how to pull it out and then let it snap back in).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

still sick

Well she's still not feeling too good today so we are taking it easy... off to the eye doctor and then to a birthday party and then a nap. I love the flexibility of homeschooling so we can do these things during the day.

oh, and good news!! Zach is learning to go on the potty!!! yay for mommy :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005


Well today will be a slow day for us... little Elizabeth woke up around 5 with a fever and a bad cough... poor little girl. She's lying on the couch and listening to CatChat (we love these cds!!) and heather is keeping her company in her chair.

Z has a cough too, but miracuosly he is still sleeping at 8:30 am. I hope they feel better soon.

I had a lovely weekend away at a silent retreat. I really needed the refreshment of a whole weekend of silence and prayer. I feel so much better and able to handle my life again, although I have become somewhat convinced that in order to get through my busy days with all my kiddies I need to start getting up earlier than they do, so I have time for morning prayers in quiet, and a civilized breakfast.

I say 'somewhat' convinced, as I don't really want to get up before the sun does, but I know that it will be good for me. The lesser of two evils I guess ;-) I have a lot of work to do to become holy, and I guess starting earlier in the day is a good thing. I need all the help I can get!

uh-oh i'm being paged to read a story to the kids on the couch.... later

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Making Decimal Street

Math-U-See is our math program we are using and it's so much fun playing with all of the little blocks and watching the teacher's DVD to see what the heck I'm supposed to be teaching.
Today we were learning place value. I'm not sure I ever got this when I was a kid, and I can't believe I'm teaching it to a kindergartener, but it's fun with little houses as you can see above :-) The tens are blue and they can only live in the ten's house... the 'units' are green and they can only live in the green house... the hundreds are red and they get to live in the hundred's castle!! We had fun making numbers today.. Especially when we got to make how old grandpa Ed was LOL.. (five tens and NINE units LOL... Figure it out yourself). She thought that was a lot.

Oh, and here is Zach's contribution to math above... he's spinning all the tens and a few units in my salad spinner. He also enjoys making math more challenging by shouting out random numbers when Elizabeth is trying to count or answer a problem. What a typical boy! (here I thought I was sheltering my little girl from those mean kindergarten boys who would pull her hair and tease her).

I'm loving this!!

So we've been at this for almost 3 weeks and we are having lots of fun... Here's a list of some of the things I'm learning

  1. you can do school just about anywhere (yesterday we were learning to count by 5s while in the doctors office waiting)...
  2. if she is grumpy or hungry or tired.. or all three, then it's not the best time to do 'school'... and she's not going to miss out on entering Harvard if we take a day off when she is :-) In fact, when I try to force learning, it takes the joy out of it for her.
  3. Math is actually fun!
  4. Anything you call a 'craft' or 'storytime' will be an instant hit :-)
  5. Two year olds are smart little things!!! Zach can already recite the Angel of God prayer from just listening to Elizabeth practice it!!
  6. Starting the day with daily mass at 8am with three kids under 5 may sound crazy (LOL), but it's my saving grace and helps me to be a much better mom.
  7. oh- and any school work done on the floor is much more fun than sitting at the table. :-) (but I already knew that one !!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

nature walk

from our nature walk today...signs of fall. We didn't get to walk for too long, because the baby was starting to fuss, but we enjoyed the nice crisp fall morning along the river for a few minutes. The river was so high and fast today... must be from all the rain. Posted by Picasa

Learning to read color names Posted by Picasa
Yesterday no posting, because I was too tired (YAWN!!) We went for her first day of classes at Phoenix. She had so much fun, although didn't really do much besides run around and play with another girl she met within 5 min. of being there. She's such a social creature. It gave me great insight into the difficulty she might have had in a regular kindergarten classroom... she just loves other girls too much to pay any attention to what she's supposed to be doing :-)

In her gym class they learned how to play tag, frozen tag and 'what time is it Mr. wolf?'. The little kids were just so cute playing tag. The teacher told them that home base (where they couldn't get tagged) was behind the soccer net and as soon as she said go, they all screamed and headed straight for the net, giggling the whole time at the poor little kid who was 'it'. Then they all ran out in a big clump screaming again, ran a lap around the gym and dived for the net again. I think the one little boy was 'it' for the whole game LOL.

Today, a doctor's checkup for the baby (she's just fine said the doctor), and then we went for a lovely fall walk along the river collecting leaves and grasses that are turning colors already. We'll make a little craft with them later. (always the highlight of elizabeth's day).

Now, off to clean up a bit and think about doing some phonics or something productive :-) Have a nice day everyone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Books, Books, Books...

I am reading a great book right now called 'Honey for a Child's Heart', by Gladys Hunt. It is all about the joy of reading to your children and loving books as a family. I just loved this quote from C.S. Lewis in Chapter 3: "no book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty".

She also has a wonderful list on the top ten ways to raise a Non-reader:

1. Have the TV on at all times, and have a computer and TV in every room

2. Keep the place neat: no books or magazines in sight

3. Never let your children see you reading a book

4. Never take your kids to the library

5. Never read stories aloud after age 2

6. Never talk about ideas while eating meals

7. Keep the lights down low. Buy only 40 watt lightbulbs (darn those spell checkers!!)

8. Schedule your children in every activity you can think of so they don't get bored

9. Never play any table games together

10. Absolutely no reading in bed or good lamps to make it easy to do so.

Well my own parents sure didn't take her advice!! Thanks mom and dad :-)

I can remember many nights staying up very late in bed reading as a child (I had the coolest strawberry shortcake lamp that you could turn on for reading so it was dimmer).

I also have fond memories of my mom taking me to the library with her while she looked in the grown-up section and I was allowed to pick out as many books as I wanted in the kids section. We both usually came home with handfuls of books each!! (and we both often ended up with large fines too LOL...)

It wasn't until I was grown did I ever wonder when she had the time to read the stacks of books she would check out each week.... Now I know she doesn't sleep at night and can read faster than the river flows over Niagara falls :-)

Anyways... I am enjoying the book immensely. There is also a great book list at the back for suggested reading and I am looking forward to going through it. We just have to start working on my little boy and getting him to broaden his horizons from Trains :-)

Oh- and the picture at the top is of little Elizabeth and her great-auntie who spoils her with great books. Half of our book collection is from her, and she has a great eye for picking out good children's books. I think it's because she hasn't quite grown up yet (and that's why I love both her and my cousin Jenny).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

You have to check this out :-)

My cousin Jenny wrote:
According to 'the web portal for educators,'"Venn diagrams are a powerful way to graphically organize information."I made one just for you! It's about Princesses and Little Girls. I'm e-mailing the image right now.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Venn Diagrams anyone?

Ok, my first moment in my homeschooling career where I thought, uh-oh! I'm not going to be able to teach this !!!

I got a book out of the library called 'Hickory Dickory Math'. (teaches math using favorite nursery rhymes and fairy tales). Elizabeth looked through it and wanted to do the duck page really bad... It was all about Venn diagrams. What are those I thought?? Surely I could get it.. it was afterall a book for Kindergarten and grade one math.

After scratching my head and trying to figure it out for awhile, I thought I had things under control...

You are supposed to make 2 circles that overlap each other... And put yellow duckies in one, white duckies with spots in the other, and yellow duckies with spots in the middle.. Get it? LOL... the ones in the middle have to have the same characteristics of each of the overlapping circles...

So I tried to explain this to Elizabeth... and she just looked at me with this blank look. Uh-Oh!! Now what? I didn't want to look stupid, and I wasn't sure how these Venn diagrams were important in the real world, but I didn't want to just give up! I'm the teacher afterall :-)

I turned away for a minute to get the baby and when I came back Elizabeth had drawn spots on ALL the ducky's... (they had to match their mommy) and they now had eyelashes too :-) Hmmm... now how were we supposed to organize them into our nice little circles?

Then there was Z who was trying to climb on me and the baby who was spitting up on her freshly changed outfit... Yawn! Why did I get out of bed? Not a good start to the day- and it was only 8am (we got up at 6).

Finally, though, we figured it out, and amazingly enough she got it!! I rejoiced because I could barely figure it out... I actually taught her something, and in math to boot.

After this, I drew the picture to the left with just the hearts on the left and the striped shapes on the right and asked her to fill in the middle... and she did it without any help from me. HA! so I can do this afterall... (now someone remind me why venn diagrams are important?)
Yesterday we finished reading the book "The Littles to the Rescue!"... Elizabeth just loved the story (especially after her grandma let her watch Thumbelina at her house last week). I can't wait until she learns how to read... She has an insatiable appetite for books and wants me to read outloud to her constantly!! I'm glad she loves books. It's such a great way to learn about things.

I can already see the effects of her having been read to so much. When she plays with her toys, she acts as the 'narrator' and tells the story outloud with many colorful adjectives etc... For example, she'll be sitting on the couch playing with her princesses and her conversation will go something like this:

"and then the mean man came and threw the princess in the dungeon, and she screamed, but she was all alone. Then the prince came to find her and he quickly ran to the dungeon and rescued her and she was so happy"...

You can tell she reads instead of watches TV LOL.

Yesterday we also did more of our Five In A Row book, reading "How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World" (great book!). We decided to make a mobile with all the ingredients that you put in an apple pie. She colored a picture of each ingredient and then on the back wrote where they come from. (milk-cows, salt-ocean, egg-chicken, flour-wheat etc...).

Did you know that cinnamon comes from the bark of the kurundu tree in Sri Lanka? Elizabeth does :-) She did a great job of practicing her handwriting while making the mobile... She wrote out all the names of the ingredients. Her handwriting is getting very good! And she surprised me again by remembering how to spell 'egg'. She wrote it all by herself! (I showed it to her once earlier in the day).

Elizabeth also made a mobile for her brother (who is still very grumpy these days)... She saw that he was being very sad and cranky and decided to make him feel better by making him his own train mobile. He is very proud of it.

Oh- we also went to story time at a little bookstore over by the old army base. The kids had great fun, and got a balloon at the end. One of the stories she read was so hilarious that you have to see it. It's called Once Upon a Time, The End. A book written by a dad who condenses fairy tales and classic kids stories into short 60 second snippits. They are so funny!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The sweetness of childhood

This morning we cleaned up the basement (again!! Do they EVER stay clean??)
Anyways, after that we did some school work, and we were listening for the letter 'P' at the beginning of words. If they heard a 'p' they would clap their hands. (zach liked this)

One of the words was 'pour'. When Elizabeth heard it, she looked very pensive for a little bit and then said "Mommy, the poor need our prayers, because they don't have enough money for food or clothes". It took me a second to realize that she thought I meant 'poor' instead of 'pour'.

I don't recall actually teaching her about this specifically.. Except for when we go grocery shopping and I always forget to pick out something for the foodbank so we have to look through our groceries for something to give them on the way out. (they have bins by the door). Kids are so pure and innocent aren't they?

Today there was more cute artwork.. You can go see it in my photo album, or on here down on the right a bit in my flikr badge of recent pictures... There's also a cute one of zach drawing on the little chalk board I picked up for him at a garage sale on the weekend.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More Drawing...
Today I went to a workshop for new homeschooling moms on how to keep a portfolio of all the work your kids do.. such great idea of scrapbooks etc... but she made us swear we wouldn't create more work for ourselves and overburden ourselves. LOL no problem there.. i never take on too much!!

The kids stayed with grandma J while I went to learn. They sure have fun there!

When we got home, Elizabeth didnt' want to sleep so we did some more 'homeschool'. She wanted to do math first (so easy for her... but again she gets bored after about 10 minutes), and then she wanted to do story time so she pulled out this book I got at a thrift store on Toads and Frogs.

This is the narration she did for me (retelling what i read to her in her own words) and the picture she drew to illustrate it. I bought her a sketch book to keep all her drawings on acid-free nice paper.

What a fun weekend with our family... First my dh's mom was over for dinner on Friday night and it was so sweet watching her play trains with the kids, and then on Sunday night we had my family over for dinner (my parents, my sister and her husband, and my grandma).

We had a great time and even stayed up past 10pm playing cards and being downright silly. We are happy to have a home where those memories can be made. We can see each other growing up together like Grandma Sonia and Grandpa Pete and having a house where people can find a home and enjoy family dinners and games and grandkids. I just love having our family over, it always leaves a big smile on my face when they leave.

When Elizabeth and I were telling my grandma about how we made butter, she treated us to a stories of when she was a little girl and helped her own mom make butter... How special for us to hear about that!! Here's what she told us:

When she was a little girl, they had lots of cows, and her mom used to make butter and sell it for some extra money. She could sell a pound of butter for $0.10 !! They would take the cream from the cows and either leave it in the spring or in a well to stay cool, then when it was time to make butter, they would go get it, let it warm up (40 degrees F is the best temperature), and even let it 'sour' a bit (she says you get more butter this way). Then they would churn it. Grandma Sonia said that she would shake it in a syrup pail, but if you filled it too high with cream sometimes the lid would explode off in the shaking process because it builds up with some sort of gas when the cream is turning into butter... What a mess that must have made :-) (must run in the family LOL). Her mom even had a real butter mold (not a sandbox toy like us).

I just love listening to all of her stories... What changes her life has seen since she was a little girl living on the cold prairies with her Ukrainian parents... No car, no electricity, no running water! And now, here she is in the big city with cable TV, a big car, dishwasher, washing machine etc.. I sure do love her. She's an amazing woman of strength, and she makes the best apple pie I've ever tasted.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Field Trip!!

Daddy didn't have to go to work today, so we went on our first field trip (like we haven't been going on field trips our whole parenting career.. but anyways, Elizabeth was excited at this new prospect).

Since we have been reading Little House on the Prairie, we thought it would be fun to go to Heritage Park and see what kind of houses Mary and Laura might have lived in. We had lots of fun! Elizabeth dressed up like Mary, and we drove down after breakfast and saw an old pioneer house (Sam Livingston) that was home to a family with 14 children!! (note: our house here is bigger than that one, so we are fine to have a few more here at least LOL.. but their garden in the back was bigger than our yard.

We also saw lots of horses pulling wagons, a donkey, some geese, a rooster, 2 sheep, and a bunch of hens. Elizabeth loved to see the cute doll house that was in one of the bedrooms in the old farmhouse.

Also, we went to the old Hudson's Bay fort and learned about trading beaver pelts, and how they made the beaver fur into felt to make fashionable hats. According to the old gentlemen who was talking to us, the west wouldn't be the way it is now if it wasn't for beaver trading.

It's funny, now that I'm starting to homeschool and think about the next few years of my children's lives, I'm all of a sudden interested in many things around me, and realize that I know hardly anything about Canadian history. It will be fun to learn all of this alongside them (or a few hours before them so I look like I know what I'm talking about LOL).

When we got home, it was supposed to be nap time, but Elizabeth wanted to do school work so we did math. She sure loves playing with all those colorful blocks. I'm loving Math-U-See... What a great program!

After math, she drew a picture from our field trip and narrated a story for me about it... cute!! She copied the horse from her Draw Write Now book (I can't say enough good things about that book), and then drew a wagon and the reins on the horse from memory of what they looked like at Heritage Park.

Oh btw... the driver is Grandpa Ed, because she told me that "He's a real cowboy"... :-)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

We are praying for you, New Orleans

Because, as many of you know, we don't have television at our house, and we rarely listen to the radio, my children have been blissfully ignorant of all of the crazy world events that have been happening since they were born.

Elizabeth was just a wee baby when 9/11 happened so she was sheltered from that already, and we decided to also shelter her from all of the plane crashes, terrorist bombs, flooding, hurricanes and the tsunami in the past year. It has been easy, especially because we have no television for her to catch glimpses of the never-ending news pictures that they show all day.

Now, reading all of the news of the devastation in New Orleans, my heart just goes out to all of those families who have little ones. I read about families with little children the same age as my own, and realize that they are definately not sheltered from this crazy world...they are living in the midst of it, many homeless and probably very scared.

I was reading many of the news reports online and also some blogs that are covering the story of the hurricane. Diane de Las Casas from New Orleans, a storyteller with some great looking cds on her website is telling her story of this tradgedy on her blog, and of her own little children who are wondering when they are going to go home. (will they even have a house left to go to?).

I am thinking now that maybe I should be telling my kids about some of the sad things that happen in the world so that they can pray for them. It seems like the thoughtful and heartfelt prayer of a child must be worth far more than the prayers of us grownups who sometimes have a hard time believing. Just looking at Elizabeth's adorable drawings of her guardian angel, and looking at her sweet faith when we leave church and she waves good-bye to Jesus in the tabernacle uplifts my faith.

We are praying for you, New Orleans! May God be with you all.

p.s. the holy card is from a great website I found called Holy I love it!!