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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Healthy Living update 1

It is harder then it sounds. What I have learned this week is that to live healthy you have to be prepared. I was not prepared yesterday and ended up having McDonalds with my sister between closing at the theatre and watching a cast screening of Fast Five (loved the movie by the way). Tonight I was prepared and made myself supper to bring to work. I have avoided many offered snacks at home and out. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes I spend to much time dreaming about a bag of chips.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Schooling Outside

Finally the weather was beautiful enough for an outside day. It was 20C (70F).

We really enjoyed ourselves. Our lapdesks were very useful not just for writing on but also to keep our stuff from blowing away.

Indy used the time to practice skateboarding on Ko-Ko's board.

SW's is a little bigger but Ko-Ko keeps her trucks lose so it tips easier but he finally figure out the balance.

He didn't ride it, just standing, balancing and stuff. Still makes a Mom dream I a possible future career :)

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Today I joined the healthy living program at the Native center. I have some popcorn-baking-quit smoking pounds to get rid of. This is not a diet program. It us amount healthy living.

Changes to start with: stop snaking on junk, drink water, plan work suppers so that I don't ear popcorn on break and then McDonalds at midnight for supper.

I snack when bored, tired, stressed and watching movies. These are some big changes.

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Location:Healthy Living

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Disney Nature's African Cats

Today (Monday, i haven't went to bed yet so it is still Monday) our homeschool group went to see Disney Nature's African Cats. I am not a big Disney fan. I don't own Diney movies (Except Earth and Oceans). I am the Mom that does NOT want to listen to singing princesses or pretend that highschool is full or G rated teens. Yep that's me. But I love these Disney Nature docs.

This year instead of taking my own kids to see African cats on Earth Day I decided to make it a homeschool group activity. The problem was that earth Day was a statutory holiday and you can't get school bookings on stat days. But you can on PA days, s we went today.

Initially my kids whined about having to go on a field trip when the PS kids didn't have school. Some of us Moms (like me) invited PS friends and their kids...those kids were thrilled to go. The always-homeschooled-have-no -developed-a-stinking-public-school--attitude-kids (you now, the ones who are not mine) also seemed happy.

My kids came out of the theater much better children then when they went in. It seems some field trips are good enough to occur on a day that PS kids don't have school...imagine that, I knew what I was doing after all :)

The movie was fantastic. You fell in love with the two main cat families. You cheered for their successful hunts. Were sad and worried when they were to be hunted. Crazy mixed up feelings of life, I know. Yes big cats are predators so there was predator activity in the movie. But thanks to Disney it was not gory. It is a documentary so reality exists, but with out some of the nature channels detail. I point this out as a theater employee because yes we have had people return tickets so upset about this...they are African Cats people not AristoCats.

Yes I think the movie put me in a caty mood :)

Ok the good educational part...Disney has down-loadable PDF teacher material. Just click here! I have not read through it all, I worked tonight, but I have downloaded and will be checking it out for schoolwork this week. So my advice is see the movie, check out the PDF.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Debate Over Prison Farms

Where I live prison farms is a hot issue. I live in what is known as the prison Capitol of Canada. And the prison farms were an institution. It always made sense to me that learning to farm was a skill and that work with animals and the land would be therapeutic. However the "Harper government" got rid of them despite much protest and debate.

However it seems that (if elected) the Librals (Ignatiaff) and the Greens (May) would look into bringing back the farms (here at least).

In Kingston this decision could win the riding (unless the vote gets split).

I asked the kids what they thought on the subject ( well the younger ones, older ones were busy). They like buying plants for the garden from the one in the country. They are worried about what happened to the animals. They also think that if the inmates can make their own food and work on a farm that they wouldn't steal and fight and stuff but if they sit around doing nothing then they will probably think up more trouble. I agree.

What do you all think?
Prison Farm Video from APTN

Read the Liberal opinion.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011


I suffer from allergies. So Many that they should probably lock me up in a lab and study me. I need a bubble and special suit like the guy from Northern Exposure.

I deal with them every day but there are a few times of year where they knock me on by butt. This is such a time of year. As the trees begin to bud. When the Northern hemisphere is thrilled that the weather is finally (mostly) improving.

Tree Pollens

If I were to write an ode to tree pollens I would require a parental warning.

And so I have a puffy face, one half swollen at a time. I am attached to the nearest box of tissues and left wondering why allergie meds have not improved.

The bigger issue is I have not written any schoolwork this weekend. Thankfully I tend to have some back up and can be saved by currclick if needed. The homeschooling Mom had so little free time. Spending some of it to be prepared for times when we are felling less then stellar always pays off when we need it most.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

So the big Claus family plan for Earth Day was to clean up our own piece of earth, reading our yard for spring and organizing our recycling so it would be more functional.

I wish I could tell you we had 9 people happy to clean up their piece of earth. Taking responsibility for their piece of earth.

The reality was that I had a bunch if whinnying kids/teens who spend more time with their hands in their pocket then actually working. And DH thought the BBQ was a worthwhile project...I may agree after some burgers but until then I would ace rather have another hand raking but since he was working so hard and took cate of the compost I kept my mouth shut and smiled. Aunty tackled the recycling like a pro...yeah Aunty Claus!

I did however have one little work horse, or work pony. Indy picked up sticks all day long. And the yard did somehow get done. Just not with the happy willing participants in the great family moment I had been imagining. I probably should let go of the dream and be happy with the end result that in reality, happy o not we did pull together to get it done.

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A Crazy Day.

First I have a post that is close to my heart to share but for some reason can not post pics to blogger from my pc. So it will wait. It needs the pics:(

Today Sunny Not had her bday party. Food, cake, movie fest, sleepover. Except that I was not up to par this week and did not have it in me to make the Decadant Oreo Ice Cream Cake she loves. She was ok with this...there was a few disappointed friends (LOL) She had a grocery store Oreo cake. And apparently hooking up your wii to Internet for netflicks is more difficult then hooking up an xbox. It happened at the last minute( Thanks DH). Well the rest went well except that I hadn't checked my calendar when I said "Thursday will be best since I work Fridays". Yeah and Ko-Ko has gymnastics and is practicing for the spring gala. Also Runner and I have Mohawk language class. MIL and SIL are helping, DH is driving....who is supervising the 15 yr olds...A 12 yr old brother. Worked well. Especially since poor SW does not see the social line between being a tattle tale and telling you the latest news. Luckily I don't think anything tattle worthy was planned so despite feeling like I was barely keeping all the balls in the air I need just look at that one thing. My 15 yr old planned a bday party that left me with no concerns. No drinking, no drugs, no perfect is that? All the greatest teen parenting fears a non-issue. I have worried about parties at this age for, well, 15 years. I am feeling blessed and have much to offer thanks for in the morning. Oh and I did well in language class which is good because the plan is to share it with the other kids during school time.

On a fun note during class Runner drew a picture if Godzilla stepping on cars and buildings yelling "ahta!" (shoes in Mohawk) I said to Runner "ahta?, shoes?" he says " yeah mom, it hurts to stomp on all that in your bare feet!". And I was worried he wasn't paying attention. His other pic had Godzilla roaring out Mohawk sounds. Kids pay attention in their own way.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunny Not gets her first...


Yep for her birthday gift Ko-Ko an I took Sunny Not and a friend to get her first tattoo. She wanted a tattoo that said Live, Laugh, Love. It looks lovely and I approved it as a tattoo she would still relate to in the decades to come.

She choose the top of her foot. I warned it was said to be a tender spot. She was a trooper and didn't shed a tear. Like most people getting their first she said it didn't feel like what she thought it would feel like.

I was surprised to see the owner of the shop. A Man I had go to school with from grade 5 up. Ko-Ko was given a prime seat and Indy was fed candy. It was a good afternoon.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Our School Room

Yeah I should have posted this a while ago but I kept waiting to add a few more finishing touches. A soft colour for the walls, some point it will happen. Until then this is our school room

The school table area. The table is a whiteboard as is the wall with a times table on it. The kids are on exercise balls for chairs.

Here you see some chairs to read or watch tv in. Indy's trucks a box of wii rock band equipment, file cabinet and our traditional medicines.

Here you see the tv, and storage for books and toys. It is a little messy right now. Every now and then it needs to be organized by an adult...or Ko-Ko (she is a great organizer).

This is the computer area. It is where I create their school work. It holds the main books I use for spines, as well as paper, pencils etc.

So there it is. It is a comfortable space with lots of room. I'd like to add a few more touches. And after using it for the past few months I think I'd like to replace the chairs with a couch or love seat. Just not sure how or when.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sand Pit

Today the youngest three (Ko-Ko, Runner, Indy) and I met another homeschool family we are friends with for lunch and a trip to the park. The kids played during lunch while I enjoyed conversation with a friend, we walked to the park stopping by Runner's favorite place (The Sustainability Center) and finally made it to the park.

The playground structures saw the first action put then some little ones came and so they moved to the sand put and sent over an hour there.

Ko-Ko set about creating structures. This is something she has always done. When presented with several similar objects she groups them (by similarity) and sets them up in a way that always (to me) resembles a town. This time her structures mostly resembled tipis. Then everyone else joined in (from oldest to youngest) to participate. The end result was fantastic. The cooperation was beautiful and we all had a great time.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

They Want To Be Rock Stars!

Yep, like many their age some of my kids want to be rock stars. It has been mentioned that they won't really need school if they are rock stars. I have pointed out that rock stars need an education to prevent being screwed in contracts. Being good at writing is important if you plan to write songs. Speaking ability would be good for promoting yourself, handling interviews and celebrity endorsements. Math would be wise for budgeting. I also pointed out that a back up career is advisable...harsh and not exactly "you can be what ever you want to be". Sort of. We often study their favorite songs as poetry. I believe in helping them with their goals. Part of that is facing reality. You can't prepare for something without all the information after all.

So to that end I have put together a unit study I have called "A Music Career". I talk about contracts, found some info on the net I had no idea about (learn so much doing this). I cut and pasted this info and some contract samples. Talked about their importance, entertainment lawyers, managers and wrote a scenario situation for them.

For the child who doesn't see the point of penmanship I explain about signing a contract in manuscript and cursive and give them practice.

There is space and suggestion for brainstorming their next great hit, as well as writing suggestions and a spot for their final draft.

You need a name, got to decide if you are a solo act or a band and design your CD cover. Again with brainstorming space and space for the final design.

Then there is the money. How much do you make if you sell 1 million know after everyone else gets their cut and costs are covered. Thankfully I found this info as well. Again cut and paste (just the percentages here) and then writing up the math questions to figure it all out.

So after you see what you have made (compared to your record label) you may want to get a few celebrity endorsements. Of course out will need to decide what you are and are not willing to endorse.

I am very pleased with myself . I managed to include: Language Arts, Math (adding, subtracting, multiplying, divideing and percentages), Reading comprehension, Problem solving, Art and ethics all together in a unit for future musicians. Yes Music is not encluded but they will be practicing their songs and perhaps they will appear on here (if the children are willing to put it out there). I will probably need to proof read later (when it is not 1:30) but I was so pleased with myself I thought I would share. I just hope it helps them understand a little bit that education is needed no matter what your goal.

On the other hand SW is doing great on his own project on Urban Farming. I will share that when he is at the next stage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


today we went on a walk and we saw lots of things. we saw plants and flowers growing and I swung on vines. It was fun. We found a sink hole and we found streams ans a BMX trail. We went to the park and we went to KFC. Then we went home and played outside for a a little bit and me and my brothers saved worms. I found a flower for my Mom and my little brother picked it. My little brother went on a swing. I did a little bit of school and I had fun.

I was really pleased with Ko-Ko. She tells a good story but has a harder time putting it to paper. I have in the past let her dictate to me. These past few months she has been writing on her own and it has been a struggle that dragged on for hours. But yesterday when she sat down to do this she got it done. Her spelling still needs some work but she has come along way from the child who couldn't read when I pulled her out of school. this is our 3rd year homeschooling. I spent the first year researching how to teach her to read, so just started that journey last year. The freedom to move around or write outside (like she she did yesterday) have made a big difference for her. A difference I sometimes need to remind my self of. I was not expecting her to end this assignment with "I did a little school work and I had fun."

Carnival Of Homeschooling

This weeks Carnival Of Homeschooling is up at Home Grown Mommy

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Monday, April 11, 2011


Indy, Ko-Ko, runner and I took a nature walk today looking for signs of spring in our neighborhood. (SW had drama)
Now the children are doing a write up of what they found. We took pictures, rather then samples except for one poor flower picked by Indy. An innocent act of a loving 3 year old. We smiled and Ko-Ko and I set up to take an "artistic photo".

I will share their write ups tomorrow I think.

The most exciting part of our walk was finding a greenspace we didn't know about in our neighborhood. The green space had a willow tree on a small bank. The kids used the willow like a swing.

Knowing that willows grow near water as the traditional stories teach us, we went looking for water. What we found next was some karst topography (our city is famous for this). We found a disappearing stream, limestone cliffs and a sink hole. We kept walking and found a small playground. Indy tried out a "big swing" and loved it. This was a big deal since he has always disliked swings It was a day of discovery and we had a great time!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Workbox Experiment

So over the last several weeks I have tried out workboxes. In the hopes of my children learning some work ethic, time management and (educational) independence I laid out a weeks worth of work. And a list of what to complete. They struggled with the time management portion. I suggested that they needed to complete more in a day. They disagreed. It took two weeks. I wondered if perhaps I had planned two much, after all on the second week they put in many hours completing the work.

The following week I looked at the work I had created for them and gave everything a point value. I made a lust if what had to be completed. I told them they needed to complete 5 points worth of work a day until it was all done. We were derailed by our week. Monday we had a homeschool science class and drama so that became our off day as we do a 4 day school week. Then there was the day that the last of Grandma Claus' boxes were delta with. And then Friday we were to spend the afternoon with our community. It should have been our off day as nothing (school work wise) was done at the Native center. Plus on another day Ko-Ko and Runner barely completed a thing.

So what does it all mean?

I think SW did well with this system. I may continue this way for him. But for the other two they will have to work under my direction. I think I will have the two of them decide together what 5 points they will complete...with me. Work boxes are not for everyone, I will try again sometime though, when they have matured a bit.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

A beautiful day.

It was a truly beautiful spring day today. I went to visit a friend with Ko-Ko, Indy and another friend (sister to the one we visited) she had her nephew with her who is friends with Indy. We chatter, are grill cheese sandwiches and then toon a walk. It was a very long walk. We took a break by a park and the kids climbed and plated and then we continued. I am sore from walking. At home I laid down on the couch before work. The kids cleaned their rooms and Indy played quietly with playdough.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Create A Quiz: Endangered Species

This past weekend I spent an obscene amount of hours working on a unit study for my kids on Endangered Species using our DK Eyewitness Book Endangered Species. (links at bottom of post) For this unit study the kids will create a quiz.

working on the quiz

I created pictures for the front of each quiz card and question prompts to help lead them to the question. I also made 2 question templates. One is basic question and answer format the other is multiple choice. For Each section there is a subject card with info and a picture for the front, and a question and answer I made for the back.

Runners first cards (front)
Runners first cards (back)

Runner & Ko-Ko whined a bit about having to think up their own questions. Imagine having to think, the horror...LOL.

Subject cards front

Runner was thrilled when done. He got to question people and be the one with the answers. This is of course the point to making a quiz: thinking and then playing over and over to learn the info. I used self adhesive laminate from the dollar store. I put it on the front nd back of each card to make them last. If it didn't take so long I would do lots of these. I will probably make some over the summer to bring out a few throughout the year.

subject cards back

Endangered Species Quiz Unit Study link
DK Eyewitness book link
I think this book is loaded with lots of great info. A couple of the pages I made have a website to check out for additional learning. Although I love this book, for those of you who do not believe in evolution then I do not recommend it. the book (and therefore my unit study) cover the topic of evolution and the Earth as ancient. Just wanted to put that out there since as homeschoolers we all have different beliefs that are important to us when educating our children.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DH had a birthday

It wasn't an eventful birthday but that's to be expected at some point. It was however a good evening. DH, Grandma Claus the kids (sadly minus sunny not) Aunty Claus and a friend of DH. We went to a Japanese restaurant.

We ate an astounding amount of sushi, sashimi, oodon, tempura and topped it all off with ice cream. The less adventurous amongst us had vanilla. Other had green tea or red bean ice cream. Ko-Ko had what in English was described as raw fish pizza. It was a rice patty or rice cake with salmon, flying roe and the spicy salmon sauce. I have always wondered what it was but unlike Ko-Ko I was never brave enough to order.

The rule at this restaurant is you pay an all you can eat price but anything you don't finish you pay for. We were plenty full. Indy tried my flying roe sushi and loved it. Runner ate a ton of shrimp anything.

SW ordered little and tried a bit of everyone's orders. A good thing when some order a bit to much. The camera came out at the end of the night. To caught up in some good family time to think of it sooner. Came home home, sent tired kids to bed and eventually of DH's favorite strawberry shortcake. It has become a post kid bedtime event since Indy is very allergic to strawberries.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

No talking In McDonalds

We were at McDonalds for lunch today. This was the good part of the day where we were all eating and talking with each other. Indy kept saying "No talking in McDonalds" This of course made us laugh. SW asked him "why, is it special?" Indy nodded his head and in a reverent whisper said "Yes, very special." I wish I had a video of that but by the time I had my phone out he was a little ticked at our peals of laughter and desperately trying to get us to be quiet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Inspired By An English Assignment.

This past week Runner read an article on the Bluenose after which he answered questions and did some grammar work with passages from the article.

He loved reading about the bluenose and really wanted to build one. Inpatient about my "this weekend" response he went to work on his own. Of course the results are much better and more heart warming this way from a Mom's point of view.

He used a carton, pencil, paper and a glue gun. It floats too!

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