Tuesday, July 29, 2014

4 Ways to Ease Curriculum Planning

Tis the season! Even year-round homeschoolers like myself, spend at least part of the summer planning new curriculum (watch for my current curriculum post come Sept). Here's some of the ways I don't lose my mind.

1. Do not try to do it all at once.

Spread it out over a few days or even weeks. It ain't gonna go anywhere. Sure, I'll get into spurts where I'll spend 2 hours looking over various English stuff, but if my eyes start glazing over or I'm getting easily distracted, I walk away.

Spreading it out also makes it easier on the pocket book if you have several new items to purchase.

2. Look at what you already own before researching new curriculum.

Who's a curriculum hoarder? *raises hand*

If you're anything like me, there's a good chance you've already got at least some of what you need for the following grade/level. Especially for the younger set. Whether it's hard copy paper books or PDF files or stuff bookmarked on the net, I bet you've got a lot of what you need.

Even if you aren't a hoarder, go through what you've already got any way. Chances are, you can find at a few things you can use for at least supplementing and it won't gather dust any more.

3. Break it down by subjects/goals/children.

What do you need for English? What grades are you covering? Do you already have any usable curriculum? Are there trouble areas (spelling, grammar, ect...) that you should look for supplements in? Did you and your kid(s) enjoy the last curriculum that you used? Do you need something less detailed or more intensive? Now how about math? Science?

By spitting it up by subject or goal and even each individual child, it doesn't seem so overwhelming. If I sat down one day and said I need everything for both Brianna and Olivia *right now* I'd be in the looney bin.

4. Keep track of your plans.

Whether you're a paper and pencil person like me or want to fill in a fancy spreadsheet, keep track of the planning you've done. That way you aren't researching the same science curriculum you just looked at 3 days ago. Or even worse, actually ordering and paying for the same history text you just bought.

Linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Real Life at Home

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Friday, July 25, 2014

My Husband's Work Accident ***WARNING: GRAPHIC BURN PICS***

The last couple months have been slower for us in the blogging world because I've added nurse-maid to my list of jobs. On May 22nd my husband came home from work and simply told me "Don't yell at me." THAT'S always a reassuring request! This is what he showed me.

9am, burn is 2 hours old

He worked with an extremely powerful chemical soap called sodium hydroxide. It comes in many forms. At Lee's work it is a liquid and it's mixed with another chemical soap and sprayed onto the machinery (he works in a bacon/ham plant as a cleaner). Turns out the nozzle of the hose he worked with had a faulty tip. Had for a good while. Had been reported and not fixed. When the nozzle was stopped, it wouldn't shut off completely, a thin but steady stream of chemical continued to flow. Lee had finished with his spraying that morning and put the hose up, out of his way. He continued his job "green padding" (essentially like SOS pads) the steel bins. Without thinking, he ended up walking right under the hose and the stream of chemical hit him. This is an extremely fast burning chemical and by the time you notice that your side is wet, the damage is done. (We've been told that the day this happened, they fixed the nozzle)

He alerted his acting supervisor (his regular was on vacation). The acting supervisor acted annoyed as it was the end of the shift and he wanted to go home. He reluctantly filled out an accident report but not a WSIB report (our worker's comp, which here, must be submitted to WSIB within 3 days of an accident). Said Lee could go to the hospital "if he wanted". 

Now in the warmer months, Lee bikes to work. One way it's 6.8km (4.2 miles). So he biked home, in jeans, with a belt that sat right on the burn, for almost 7km. No one offered him a ride. Technically, when a worker gets injured at work, the company is supposed to call and pay for a cab to the hospital. The long, bad strip of wound you see in all of the pics is where his belt sat. If he hadn't had to bike so far with his belt digging in, I truly believe it would have healed MUCH faster/easier.

So Lee got home and told me not to yell at him. As soon as he showed me the burn I took the pic above. I knew this was not a simple owie. He's gotten a gazillion small burns from this stuff (better protective gear had been asked for by several employees and never received) but none ever this large nor this horrid looking. As you can see with his hand in the pic, the large burn is nearly the size of his hand and he has large labourer's hands.

Lee did not want to go to the hospital. Sure, it looked bad but "it didn't feel bad." I posted the pic above to one of my mommy groups to get opinions as I knew there was at least 2 nurses in the group. They ALL said to go to the hospital, including both nurses. 

Lee went to take a shower (as this was not offered at work) to get the rest of the chemical off as he could still feel a bit of burning. I was concerned about clothing fiber getting into the wounds and dressed them with our (thankfully) extensive first aid "kit" (kit in quotations because we actually have several large boxes and bags of first aid supplies). 

Thankfully I HAD taken the above picture because that's what we had to use for the triage nurses to see the severity since I covered them on his body. They were concerned with the amount of blackening and worked us through triage quite quickly.

He was diagnosed with 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns. 

He tried to convince the dr that he was fine and didn't really need time off, but if he insisted, Lee would take off the rest of the week (2 days). We declined at home nursing care for the dressings changes since I knew how and had all the supplies (including the special tape Lee has to use as he's allergic to classical medical tape)

2 days later, his nerves started slowly working again and he was in so much pain he could barely walk. He had to wear the loosest pants possible (and most often, just boxers that were too big) and have the burn be well padded. I told him that he couldn't possibly go back to work like this, so he agreed to go back to the hospital the next day.

3 days later, an infection settled into the large wound. Thankfully we caught it quickly, got him medicated, and it was almost gone by the next day
From that point, we went back to the hospital every 5-10 days to get his burns checked and to inevitably get more time off work.

From here down, the long strip of wound is the bottom of the burn, down his hip. My phone twists and turns pics as it pleases.

The black line is from us marking where the infection line was. As you can see, it healed up well

The 3rd burn, on his thigh, is now completely healed and we're just working on the top 2

the checker board is from the bandages we used that time

On June 5th, 2 weeks after the accident, the drs at the ER were concerned that healing seemed to had stalled on his major wound. They referred us to a special nursing clinic who had a burn specialist nurse on staff. They figured at the very least, the specialist nurse may have a new way to dress the wound that would speed healing back up again. It worked.

On June 9th, we were in contact with his company's head office. We found out that no one had ever told head office about the burns. They only found out because WSIB contacted them because no one had followed the 3 day required reporting. So it seems, even though the acting supervisor did the accident report, he didn't file it with head office. The lady we spoke to at head office was not terribly impressed. We faxed all of our papers that we received from the hospital directly to her.

Here we started soaking his burn in a medicated gel to get the dead skin to slough off. It was the worst looking for a couple weeks!

On June 20th, 4 weeks, 1 day after the accident he was cleared to go back to work, light duties, in that he needed to stay dry. He's a cleaner. His entire plant is full of water. Thankfully his supervisor (the regular one), found some random stuff for him to do that kept him dry. By this time, all of his burns except the main one had healed enough to not need any bandaging.

A week of light duties and the nursing clinic deemed him fine to go back to regular duties, but try to keep his bandage as dry as possible (his supervisor kept him doing "light duties" for another week though). We would keep seeing the nurses, but didn't need to go back to the ER unless he developed another infection.

On July 3rd, a rep from WSIB contacted us about his file.

This picture looks worse than the one above, but it's just better lighting. It IS doing better! On this day, the nurse cauterized the large part on the bottom some as it was growing upward away from his body as it was healing.

On July 10th the WSIB claim was approved and we got a cheque for lost wages. As we are a single income family, our bills very much appreciated that there is a program such as this.

On July 17th, the nurse cauterized the 2 small open spots again.

Here, the tiny bit of open wound has healed between and split into 2 small wounds. The larger one (that's actually visible), is a bit smaller than a dime, the smaller one is roughly the size of the top of a pencil eraser.

On July 24th, the nurses office officially discharged Lee from needing their services. He has one tiny open spot left (which the nurse cauterized again) but is otherwise "healed". The nurse warned him that it could take as much as 2 *years* to fully heal. And of course he will always have a large scar.

While he has returned to full duties as work and has even resumed riding his bike to work, he is used to doing this with a thick padded bandage on his burn. So once the small open area is closed, we will be able to leave it open to air, but for work (especially the biking part), we will still add a bit of padding along his belt line to prevent rubbing for a while.

The one good thing of all this is the girls have learned a lot about first aid. We're not a squeamish family so one or the other often watched me change his bandages (and played assistant) and Olivia came with us to the nurses office a couple times. Olivia was at first terrified that if Daddy ever went back to work he'd get burned again. Thankfully we were able to tell her that he would never work with the yucky stuff that hurt him, ever again.

Weekly Wrap Up

We had a pretty physical week, but a slower "school" week.

Brianna started her new healthy lifestyle, which she has been doing great in! We went to the beach and practised her swimming portion for her triathlon (mama is out of shape! lol). On Thursday, we went mini-golfing and then on to the driving range (much more of a workout than it looks!).

On Tuesday we had quite the morning thunderstorm. We all love to sit on the porch and watch the storm. Brianna knows how lightening works but asked about thunder. She was mind blown over the idea that the lightening creates a hole/tunnel in the air and thunder is the sound of this hole/tunnel collapsing. Most of the talk was over Olivia's head, but she liked looking at the different pictures on Weather Wiz Kids.

Brianna and I are still working on our story and she's moving through Gr. 6 Math Mammoth. Her algebra is advancing, learning how to use 2 variables. She sees them a dumb, but I like how Math Mammoth shows how they apply to real life.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brianna's Fitness Change

Brianna had a big week fitness wise. Last year, around this time her and Tanya did a fitness test. Brianna did pretty damn good considering her age and that it was an adult fitness test. This running season Brianna has done as little as possible in the training dept and as much as possible in the food dept. As an end result, has gained a scary amount of weight and is very much out of shape.

Her triathlon is next month, Aug 23rd. She agrees that in her current shape, she probably couldn't complete it. So enters, boot camp (12 year old safe). I am doing a fitness challenge with one of my healthy mama groups (Joshua is 13 mths old, I'm losing ground on the I just had a baby excuse) and Brianna will join me! Brianna will also be running a LOT more regularly. Since her season started in the middle of April, she has run a total of 6 times. That includes the 3 races she did. Not cool.

Swimming has always been her struggle area for the triathlon. She goes to the local pool 3-4 days a week, but it's a free swim, so it's packed with other kids. So we hit the beach. One area of fitness that I've never had a problem with is swimming, so this is one area that I can train with her. Her 2 main strokes are breast and back. She has no real swim training, so these are the ones that come naturally to her. I hope to get to the pool that they do the triathlon swimming in at least a couple times before the big day.

So Brianna has made a list of goals (with my help) for this week and this month
- lose 2lbs (should be easy water weight)
- exercise every day
- 1 non fruit/veggie snack per day
- lose 4 lbs
- walk 45 mins 3x per week
- 4L of water per day

I felt it was important for Brianna to make her own goals to "own" her lifestyle change. She's old enough to take part in keeping herself healthy.

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6 Tips for the Budget Conscious Homeschooler

I don't hide it, I'm poor. According to the Canadian Government, my family lives below the poverty line. Honestly, I'm ok with this. Suuuuure, it would make life easier to have more money, but I make do with what we've got to work with.

Of course, being poor translates into cheap frugal homeschooling. You can homeschool with loads of money to spend or zero money to spend. I could easily (well easily in my opinion cause I'm a little nuts about my love of researching stuff) homeschool all of my kids without spending anything more than ink, paper and pencils. Some people don't even do the ink and paper part! But, while I'm poor, I like to shop. I am cheap frugal though. I look for free stuff, awesome sales and used curriculum.

There's a zillion ideas for homeschoolers to save money, but here's my top 6 that I used most frequently.

1. Don't buy a several items of a new curriculum choice.

When I first started homeschooling Brianna, I went with Complete Canadian Curriculum books that I purchased from the book store. I figured they'd be perfect for us! As it turned out, I didn't like these, Brianna didn't like these, and it ended up being a waste of money. Now these books were only around the $20 mark each, but when we had several of them, it adds up.The Complete *individual subject* Smart books were better as we could use whatever grade level we needed and they were more in depth. We still didn't enjoy them a lot. They went into too much busy work but not enough detail for the stuff Brianna wanted to learn or do. Again, only $15 books, but when you have several.... (if you're just looking at a cheap supplement though, they can work)

2. The library is your best friend.

The library, provided it has a good children's department, will provide you and your kid(s) with oodles of books on a gazillion topics. Sure the internet can provide you with a lot of the same research material, but there's just something about laying out the table with a fat stack of books.

Some libraries also have free (and sometimes cheap pay) programs which you can use to your homeschool's advantage. Brianna does a Read to Ride program each summer which gives children a free bus pass for the summer in exchange for giving oral book reports to the librarians. Brianna's also done a yoga program and a movie program at the library.

3. Look for used curriculum sales.

They can be found online (facebook is my "dealer" of choice), they can be found at homeschool conventions. You can find stuff that's super cheap and even "free for shipping" and you can find more expensive stuff for a heck of a lot less than the company sells them for new. Some stuff people list are brand new (curriculum hoarders lol this will be me once all 3 kids are out of the lower grades).

4. Curriculum co-ops or just co-ops in general.

Homeschool Buyers Coop is fantastic. They offer a HUGE variety of curriculum at great discounts. I've gotten deals as high as 80% off. They also offer some free gems for members. My favorite is the Homeschooler ID cards. We're cheap so we print out the free ones and laminate our own, but for a small fee HBC will mail you hard laminated ID cards.

Local homeschool co-ops can be a great source as well. Chances are, *someone* is going to have kids older than yours. Maybe they used a re-usable curriculum that they are done with and are happy to give you or sell to you for cheap. Ya never know unless you ask! These are also great people to ask for reviews on curriculum you are considering. If they still use it/own it, you could even ask to get a hands-on look through (something I prefer over seeing a "preview" online).

5. Find and bookmark great free sites.

As is pretty obvious in my blog, 1+1+1=1 is hands down my favorite preschool/Kindergarten printables site. While she does have some printables that cost money, they are all very reasonable costs and majority of her content is completely free.

Khan Academy is a glorious free site. It mostly focuses on math, but also has some science, arts, economics and test prep. We love it because I can assign topics to Brianna and every one of them has a teaching video (or several) to go with it.

6. Don't be afraid to make your own curriculum.

With a little research and effort, you can make a lot of your own curriculum out of your own imagination. Before we settled on Math Mammoth we used a variety of math curriculum. They either didn't come with year end tests or I didn't like them. So I made my own. Going through the book, I gathered all of the main topics learned and made up my own math problems.

Another (that I'm in the middle of working on right now) is how to effectively grocery shop to get the best bang for your buck. I constantly see people saying they spend many hundreds of dollars on groceries in a month. I spend roughly $400-450 a month for a family of 6 in Canada (where our grocery prices can be double what they are n the US). I want to teach Brianna how I do it in great detail. I want her to put what I teach her into practice shopping for the family. No such curriculum for that exists. I make my own.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Real Life at Home.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

Now that Brianna's science camp is over, the girls are back to Park Leaders. This week they had a sports day with the other parks in town. Olivia missed out because she's not actually 5 yet (she's allowed at the park, technically under Brianna's supervision, until Saturday when she turns 5, then she'll be officially in Park Leaders). Each park represents a country (similar to the Olympics), our park was Egypt. Brianna made a flag and put together a costume of sorts (her favorite part being the eyeliner she was allowed to wear lol).

I found a great birthday themed preschool pack at Tot Schooling. It's a little lower in the skill level for Olivia, but as it's her birthday week, she thought it was fantastic to do birthday school work!

With some early birthday money, Olivia decided to buy some finger paints. It was amusing to watch her be as careful as she could be (at first). She's so used to painting with paint brushes and trying *not* to get paint on herself that she was almost weirded out by the idea of putting paint on herself on purpose!

Brianna is very much enjoying our joint writing project (explained here). Our story is very loosely based on our family (to make her writing a little easier) and she's having so much fun with it! She can't wait to see what it will look like at the end of the summer and wants to type it up on the computer once we're done.

Linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

Brianna had science camp all week so school at home was almost none. She did dictate daily reports to me though on what they did. Some highlights:
- catching, tagging and releasing cutlip fish
- setting net traps for catching more fish to tag
- collecting water samples
- studying and identifying algae under a microscope
- catching and studying invertebrates
- learning lab safety
- comparing bacteria
- growing E. coli in Petri dishes
- catching turtles
- looking for a species of endangered turtle
- dissecting fish

Algae samples

On Tuesday, we took part in the last bridge walk before they tore down the historical international bridge in our city.

A view from the top!

 From the bridge walk, we collected a bunch of rocks and even a couple pieces of loose asphalt. Olivia decided to start stacking her bunch of rocks so that led into a conversation about inukshuks. We talked about why people built them and where and looked online to see some real ones. Olivia then built her own inukshuk.

Olivia did some more work with her ABC Mouse program (but it's been working wonky lately and very slow so she gets frustrated with it easily). She worked on her Pirate unit some more.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschooler

Seaway International Bridge Walk

Cornwall is a city rich in history. It is over 200 years old, one of the older cities in Ontario with first major settlement in the 1780s. Parts of the War of 1812 happened here or near here. We have the Battle of Crysler's Farm just down the highway, along with Upper Canada Village near by.

A couple of the more recent highlights to Cornwall's history is the formation of the St. Lawrence Seaway (1959) and the building of the Seaway International Bridge (1962 for the North Channel Bridge, which is the one that leads into Cornwall). In 2013 they completed and opened the new low level North Channel Bridge and the old one is up for deconstruction, beginning later this month.

On Tuesday, the Seaway International Bridge Corporation opened the 1.6km (1 mile) bridge one last time for people to walk the length of it, enjoy the views and get a little history lesson. You used to be able to walk on the bridge many, many moons ago, but it's be closed to pedestrians for years. Most people had never walked the bridge so it was a great treat!

The SIBC was fantastic and even put up several history boards along the bridge with historical pics, info cards, newspaper clippings and fun facts. History class! I told Brianna "see?! School is everywhere" lol

A friend's son photo bombed the pic

The traffic circle that Brianna is pointing at is surrounded by empty fields. Now it's surrounded by Walmart, grocery stores, hotels and car dealerships.

Looking west

Looking east (Waterview Homeschool originated at our old house, next door to to those red roofed apartments).

Looking south, both the old and the new North Channel bridges

Looking north at both bridges. Our skyline will change completely once the bridge arch is gone

The SIBC even set up little benches for people to get their pictures taken at

A view from the top!

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