Friday, May 20, 2016

How To Cope When There's Not Enough Of You To Go Around



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The last few weeks have been nuts.

Maybe because it's spring, and the end of the school
year is upon us?

Or maybe, and I am slowly learning to accept this,
"crazy busy" is just my life.





_______________


Currently, I have at home with me everyday: a very precocious 2 year old,
an extremely active 1 year old, a non-stop talking 8 year old,
and an artsy 'happy go luck' 10 year old.

And two teens that are in school, that grace us with their presence in the
evening. Late night chats and many topics to cover. So little time.



If you had asked me 20 years ago, heck even 10, if I would end
up being a full time stay-at-home-homeschooling-large-family Mama,
I'm not sure I would've believed you.

I mean, I've always wanted children. A bigger brood even.

I came from a family with 4 kids; my husband's had five.

So we were both (semi) used to the crazy shenanigans of larger family life.

But with the closeness in age of my last two, and the fatigue of this pregnancy,
it's brought me to my knees (in prayer) more than I can recall...

I'm sure that I'm not alone.




_____________

Crazy living doesn't have to include my particular brand of 'crazy'.

It's that season of life where you're stretched so thin, that 
you're having a hard time coping.

Some days, you feel it, and others you may not.
But overall, it's a season of extreme fatigue.

Whether physical actual tiredness...

Or emotionally.
Or spiritually dried up.

Or just feeling like Bilbo Baggins,

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too 

much bread.”


That has been me in this season.

___________

Mostly.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take some action.

It had been a really disgustingly horrible week.

I was feeling sick, and this was coming up & that.

Kids, well the usual, but it's just so much when
you're already drowning.

I took some decisive action, and although I cannot 
100% credit any one change, I can share the 
totality of my choices.




__________


How To Cope When There's Not Enough
Of You To Go Around


First of all, I started being diligent on my vitamin/supplement routine.

Even though I'm a RHN by trade (Canadian term, Nutritionist), I too
forget to take my vitamins!!

Got back on routine, & after two days I was already feeling more
energetic.

Although, this does not constitute medical advice (see clause at bottom),
 right now I'm taking:


-prenatal multivitamin




-fish oil (for the EFAs)





-vitamin D




-Magnesium powder




-Calcium/mag mix (I know I'm not consuming enough calcium this time around!)





-when I remember: my herbal pregnancy teas




-short term I've been taking an Iron/B vitamin mix (not daily though)




Honestly, I really feel that was a very helpful step.

________________

Secondly, I decided to ask some of my close friends for prayer.

It is humbling, and sometimes embarrassing for me to
share my personal life with others.

Something I am always working to overcome.

So, once I made the decision to share my heart, I quickly jumped
onto the computer, and went into our secret Facebook group.

Ok, write everything out. Share the prayer request.

Breathe!!

I let these ladies know I was having a hard time, and
that I was also battling a lot of physical symptoms with this pregnancy.

Many of them commented fairly soon afterward that they would commit to pray for me.

That's what I love about small groups! What an awesome way to feel supported.

The very next day I woke up without that nauseous & dizzy sensation 
raging through me. (had been battling this pregnancy)

I was so elated!

I let the girls know that I was feeling better, and thanked them.


Then I got a mini negative report on my latest ultrasound.

The dreaded "fibroid" word came up.

"Just to let you know, we'll be monitoring you..." etc. etc.

Only 3 mini ones at this point, but again I went online & asked for some prayer.

On another Mama group I asked for some shared experiences.

The point is: SHARE with people what you're going through!

Use wisdom in personal details with those you don't know well, 
but DO NOT GO IT ALONE!

Not smart. Not wise.

Stand together instead.

Now, I want to just add that sometimes you need someone more than
just a friend.

Since I've experienced severe perinatal depression in a prior pregnancy,
I'm at higher risk for it to occur again.

So, this time around, I'm also being proactive & keeping in
touch with an accredited Christian counselor.

He has openings where I can call him if I just need to talk through anything.

I (by His grace) haven't had to take advantage of that much
this go around.

But it's there.
It's another safety net.

(and, if you're struggling, you should NEVER feel ashamed if you need to talk 
to someone professional. I would search out a person who is accredited and that you personally feel comfortable to chat with)





________________

The next one just sorta started to snow ball out of the first two.

As I started to feel better, I became more active again.

Now, not active in terms of swimming & bike riding (like I used to do!),
but for now cleaning the house & walking will suffice.


Had an amazing time visiting with everyone.

The most encouraging comment about my health came from 
a friend that has seen me throughout this pregnancy.

"It looks like you've lost some weight, but your belly is still growing!"

I looked down. Today, the scale came out...

Finally, the weight gain has slowed down.

(I often get super puffy & swollen during pregnancy! It's due 
to my insatiable desire to eat all the time, just so I won't feel sick!!!)

But the more I've started to move, the better I've felt.


__________


Three choices.

Take better care of your health.

Share your struggles with loved ones.

Get active.

So simple, yet we often focus on any & everything else!

______________

What about you: 
what do you do when you feel you cannot cope??

__________________

***Note: this post is for educational purposes only. You should consult
a medical health provider for advice on individualized health choices.

_____________


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_________________



Sunday, May 15, 2016

5 Ways Of Putting Together Your Curriculum



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Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

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5 Ways Of Putting
Together Your Curriculum



I still remember my first introduction to the
'homeschooling world'...

I didn't have a CLUE on how many options
are actually available.

A friend recommended a book to help me,
and of course, the hours of website perusing
began.

Over the years, as I met & interacted
with more & more homeschooling
families, I came to realize that there 
is no 'one size fits all' of homeschooling
curriculums.

However, there are only a few ways you
can put together your curriculum pack.

Today, I'll share five popular ways to do this, and
each of their benefits/challenges.




_____________________



1) Buy a complete set 
(otherwise known as 'boxed curriculum')


Benefits: easy for newbies; (usually) no planning needed; covers all of the
subjects in one set (no need to go looking for other pieces); comprehensive & (typically) comparable to what children in public school are covering

Challenges: lack of individualization; your child may excel in one portion (say English), but not the math component; cost is usually quite expensive & must pay up front (no piecing together through the year!)

Examples: Bob Jones (BJU), Sonlight, ACE Paces, etc.





2) Purchase by subject & piece together.
(usually called 'eclectic' homeschooling)


Benefits: you can research the best fit for your child in each subject; highly individualized school program, allows you to purchase as needed; typically much more economical; easy to replace one subject over entire boxed set

Challenges: research is needed; can be time consuming to find all pieces; curriculum doesn't always 'fit' well together, or complement one another

Examples: Mystery of History (History); Life of Fred (Math) & Wordsmith Apprentice




3) Follow a particular method.
Let that method be your main guide.
(i.e. Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Studies, etc.)


Benefits: while you learn about particular methodologies you'll have a better understanding of WHY you are selecting said curriculum pieces; you can easily find support from other followers of that method (online groups, in person groups, co-ops, etc. all created around that methodology

Challenges: not easy to build an entire curriculum based on one ideology; you may still want to mix & match (i.e. you cover Charlotte Mason based literature studies but mix with a traditional type Math booklet, etc.)

Examples: using sites like Ambleside Online or reading Classical Conservations




4) Use multi-level teaching curriculum.


Benefits: this can save A LOT of time; children learn together & share thoughts; build strong relationships

Challenges: if age range is larger than a few years, this can be difficult to navigate (I've tried it!!)

Examples: various options--> piece together your own group work OR purchase by subject material that can be used with multiple ages at once (some boxed curriculum can be adjusted to do this as well, such as Sonlight)



5) Follow your child's leading.
(termed "delight directed" or "interest led")


Benefits: your child finds great fulfillment in pursuing their own interests or giftings; less 'fight' over doing school work 

Challenges: what if your child is not very motivated to learn much about anything; or you can see talents in your child that they haven't yet discovered (it's a balancing act to be sure!)

Examples: using unit studies of interest to child & adding in core subjects; OR totally allowing your child to direct the school day (in some instances overlaps the term 'unschooling' or unstructured education, or a combo)






______________________



These are some of the main ways I've seen people select their curriculum.

I personally have gone from using a full box set (typical when you start out) to following
more closely number 2.

What about yourself: what has guided your curriculum selection?


____________________


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our Curriculum Favs! (reviews)

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog! 
I appreciate all of  my readers :)

*This post may contain affiliate links. 
Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

Thank you for supporting our family!








Our Curriculum Favs!

Reviews of English, Math, Science,
History & More



In Canada, our school year starts the week after Labour Day.
Which is the first weekend of September.

Sooo, there's actually only a few more months til we dive in!

This next school year, I'll be teaching
a pre-schooler, and grades 4 & 6.


Lastly, our eldest two teens will continue their education in
the school system.

___________________


I've decided that this year,
 we're going to mix things up a bit more.

As this will be our fifth year homeschooling,
we've learned quite a lot along the way.

First, we began with all boxed curriculum.

This year we'll continue with that curriculum as our base,
but I'm adding on to fill in any gaps, and
focus on special interests that our children have.

____________________

So without further adieu,
here are this year's school books purchased (by subject).




____________________________




When I first began homeschooling, I stumbled across Wordsmith
 writing curriculum.

We used it last year (Apprentice level) with fairly good success.
We didn't use it everyday, but the majority of them.

I've found it to be good value for your dollar,
as we've haven't even made it to
the halfway point yet (***Apprentice
was recommended for grades 4 through 6).

I really like it's creativity &
style of learning. It implements practice of the
various parts of speech by giving mini writing assignments.

Strengths: uses & encourages creativity;
good supplement for literature study

Weaknesses: not a good fit for those who have trouble
translating their ideas onto paper





652372: Grade 5 English PACEs 1049-1060



ACE Paces have been our mainstay since we began homeschooling.


Note: this was the "boxed" curriculum set that we started out with.

 I have loved it's independent learning
approach, & biblical theme throughout all booklets.

This year we'll continue with ACE, however
we're dropping the science workbooks, and
sticking to the two main subjects: Math & English.

I really appreciate that the children can still complete their
workbooks while I'm taking care of the younger children.

Strengths: easy to implement in busy seasons of life;
'block step' learning; strong focus on biblical truth

Weaknesses: not much room for creativity, and child must
 be independent worker (or open to learn that skill)







We have used Daily Grams for one year, and really enjoyed it!

It is full of easy, short lessons
that help review the basics for that particular grade.

We've almost completed Daily Grams 3, and I've already purchased
Daily Grams 4 & 5 for next school year.

Any parent could easily add in one quick review lesson as part of their day.

Strengths: easy to follow; good review of basic grammar

Weaknesses: not a comprehensive English curriculum (lacks writing & depth)
& some children may not catch onto rules in this manner






Math

469940: Primary Mathematics Workbook 3A (Standards Edition)

Primary Mathematics Workbook 3A 


We were given some free Singapore Math textbooks
a few years ago.

I used them last year for the first time with my one
child, and they loved it!

So, this year we went through the next level (3B) with both of our older children.
It's actually a quite comprehensive booklet!

I only do a few questions or pages per day.
I find the concepts are challenging enough that that suffices.
alongside our other Math booklets as well.

Strengths: few practice questions per topic; lessons are short & concise;
different ways of learning math equations (Eastern Hemisphere)

Weaknesses: not a lot of practice &some
may find the grade listed as 'harder' than other
equivalent grade Math Curriculum





A whole bunch of my homeschooling friends mentioned this
 math 'story book' as a simple &
memorable way to learn math concepts.
(although some use them as their
sole curriculum).

Last year we purchased the first three books
in the series (apples, butterflies & cats)
& our kids really relished them!

This past year, we went through a whole
bunch more (dogs, edgewood, farming, goldfish
& ice cream).

We completed one lesson per day for a season,
and have now stopped until next school year.

Strengths: easy to use; very simple concepts for the child to
understand, creative & memorable story line

Weaknesses: not much practice of concepts;
some questions seem unrelated to the story




History


427298: Creation to the Resurrection, Volume 1, Second Edition: The Mystery of History Series


Creation to the Resurrection, Volume 1, 
The Mystery of History Series

This was our first year having used the 'Mystery of History' series.
It's actually been really interesting to teach!

We ended up doing the time line on our
bulletin board, but didn't complete
all of the suggested "extras" (flash memory cards or
activities).

We only did a few of assignments that
interested us, and I ended up
using You Tube videos to go on 'rabbit trails'
 (i.e. pyramids, historical modern-day
discoveries, ancient artifacts, mummies, etc.)

Strengths: strong biblical focus; detailed lessons;
also incorporates world history into it's timeline

Weaknesses: all the extra assignments can seem
overwhelming at first; pick & choose what
works for your family




Science


337015: Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology



My children have always shown a lot of interest in learning
about the human body & it's functions. I had also heard amazing
recommendations on this science program.
(Exploring Creation Series)

This year we went through the first 8 units,
so next year we'll continue on with this book.

I really liked the hands on suggested activities (there
were only a few per chapter, so not overwhelming).
 My children particularly enjoyed
all of the food based ones!

Strengths: very detailed & interesting lessons; biblical basis for
the lessons, and tie in with scripture; easy to remember
fact sharing; nice pictures & diagrams

Weaknesses: seems more Charlotte Mason styled &
harder to 'measure' what child has learned




Extras

This year, we're going to continue with a hodge podge of
extras in our homeschool.

Some books we'll be using:




We just started this book as part of our daily devotion.
It confronts lies, that children can easily believe about
themselves, with biblical truth!



_____________________



28369: Light Keepers: Ten Boys Who Made History

This book is part of a "ten kids" series that
we are still enjoying as part of our reading time
(whether during "school time" or at bedtime)


__________________________


Calls to Courage Reader, Grade 6   -


I found this book at my local homeschooling convention.
So far, any of my experience with Christian Light Publications
has been immensely positive (I've heard so many good things
from other homeschooling families as well).

This reader contains many different
stories at a grade 6 reading level, although
I'll incorporate it for all of my children at once.


___________________________


We'll also be participating in a local co-op,
some field trips & will encourage lots of reading!



What about your family; 
what are you planning for your homeschool year?


____________________

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