The Crunchy Homeschooler

Adventures in Natural Homeschooling

Cabin Fever Is Getting To Us.....

February 27, 2015
by Cole Chartier
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Surviving The Winter With 4 Boys!

I think it’s safe to say that this winter has been COLD!  There hasn’t been a single day in February that has been above 0 Celsius and with tomorrow being the last day f the month I think it’s ok to assume tomorrow won’t be any different!

Let me tell you, boys are not an indoor species….boys are meant to be in the great outdoors!  We have a fairly large home with lots of space and a great rec room for them but my goodness!  Our poor couch is disheveled on an hourly basis, toys are EVERYWHERE and the fights….oh my word the fights!

So how have we made it through so far?  Let me tell you how ….

1. Routine!  - routine has been a key element in our lives since Noah was born.  While we don’t have a schedule we do have a routine.  Things don’t always happen at the exact same time each day and for the same length of time, we do make sure to do the same activities or chores in the same (ish) order each day.

2. Quiet time – part of our routine each day is quiet and nap time for EVERYONE!  The two littlest ones go down around 12 for their nap of the day.  Once they are down, this is my time to hop in the shower (yes, most days i don’t shower until noon or later *smile*) and the older boys are encouraged to spend time separately.  They can choose to read (or look at picture books), colour, play doh or Lego.

3. Field Trips – a few times during this winter we’ve been lucky enough to make it out of the house and check out some local attractions like the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Botanical Gardens for their frogs exhibit.  Not only did these places let the boys “roam free” and get rid of some built up energy it also was educational (win win!)

4. Time and Prayer – even though there are days it feels like winter may last forever, we all know it can’t.  Soon enough the sun will warm up, the snow will melt and we’ll be back to taking our school lessons to the park and going on double daily walks (praise the Lord!).

Thanks for stoping by

-Cole

Our Little P'Ollie' Wog!

Our Little P’Ollie’ Wog!

Frogs!

Frogs!

Snow....So Much Snow!

Snow….So Much Snow!

Cabin Fever Is Getting To Us.....

Cabin Fever Is Getting To Us…..

I DID IT!

February 25, 2015
by Cole Chartier
1 Comment

I Have A Job! Wait….What?!

That’s right folks, this homeschooling mama of four has a JOB!  A real life paying JOB!  But before the wheels start turning let me explain….

Back in October I went into Toronto for a three day training course with DONA international to be trained as a birth doula. I was so lucky to be able to do my training on site at one of the few birthing centres in Ontario and let me tell you this place was stunning!  I got a little teary walking into one of the birthing rooms while we took our tour thinking of how blessed those families are who get to experience birth at such a place.

Pregnancy and birth has always been a  huge passion of mine and combining this with a need for finding something for myself seemed like a great idea!  (Thank you to a dear friend who suggested this!) In a nut shell, a birth doula is best explained as a non-medical professional support person that helps a family achieve their birth their way.   Common how awesome does my job sound?!

Super excited for the weekend!

First Day Of “School”!

I can’t say enough about what I learned that weekend! The ladies I met, I will never forget and a few became dear friends.  My comfort zone was stretched further than I was happy about many times (hello tears!) but WOW was it worth it! (more details on this weekend later!)

I DID IT!

I DID IT!

The group of amazing women who trained along with me!

The group of amazing women who trained along with me!

Since that weekend I have started my own business offering birth doula services, birth pool rentals and placenta encapsulation to families in the Hamilton and Niagara regions.  I feel very blessed to have attended two births so far for 2015 with three more lined up for the coming weeks!  To say I love my job would be a huge understatement!  There is no greater feeling that supporting a mother and her partner as they welcome their sweet baby into the world.

 

thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out www.butterflybirthservices.ca for more information on what I do!
-Cole

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July 6, 2014
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

Book Club Night – Large Family Logistics

 

imageI had heard about this book called “Large Family Logistics” for about a year or so and up until recently had never been able to get my hands on a copy.  Since this book is sadly no longer in print, I had our local library find a copy for me. I picked up the book Saturday morning and dove right in!

Let me start off my saying this book is what I’ve been wanting to read and hear for my entire life!  For as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a homemaker.  I wanted a large family, a hard working husband and I wanted to be at at home turing the house into a warm, loving family home.

Summer 2010

Summer 2010

After our first son was born, I was able to see this dream turning into a reality but as each year passed and our family grew and grew (and grew!) things got harder.  I doubtd myself more and more.  Was I really cut out for this?  Why were some days so hard?  Why did other mums seem to have it all together?  Was this a mistake?

It wasn’t until turing to The Lord, crying out to him and giving him my life to shape and mold that I was able to find peace, grace and strength in the role I feel I was called to do.

Ocotber 2011

Ocotber 2011

Large family logistics, starts out with the first chapter titled “The Wise Woman”.  It then takes Proverbs 31 and breaks it down piece by piece verse by verse and delves deeper into it’s meaning and how it can be applied in today’s world.

October 2013

October 2013

This chapter brought me to my knees in tears, I felt like God was speaking to me saying “THIS is my plan for you!  All those years of yearning, longing and feelings of inadequadcy will be earsed.  Trust in me and you can have this life.”

All those years of hiding what I really wanted out of life, then finally receiving it only to be met with doubt and discouargement.  All taken away by Gods mercy and grace for me.

I’m only one chapter into this book and I feel like I can now say with conviction that I am living my calling.  I will be able to rise up against anything that is set before me on this path because of God’s love for me and knowing that He is ultimately in control.

 

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May 8, 2014
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

Need vs. Want

How often do we confuse “need” with “want”?  It can be easy to confuse the two in today’s world of “bigger is better” and feeling like we need to constantly “keep up with the Jonses”…I don’t know about you but it can be exhausting!

This week,  Noah’s bible lesson covered how God takes care of us and knows what we need.  Key word is NEED.  Matthew 6:25-34 descirbes this perfectly.  It talks about how we need to stop wasting so much of our precious time worrying and trusting in faith that God will provide.

Now to me, this doesn’t mean he’s going to provide BMW’s, 3000 sq. foot houses on a hill top and vacation opportunities just because I WANT them.  No, it states what we NEED.  We need shelter, food and clothing.  Basic needs.  Anything beyond that is really a true blessing.

We become so caught up in our own wants that we forget to look around and be thankful for what we DO have.  Luke 12:33 demands that we “sell [our] possesions and give to the poor”.  Who are we to not share the wealth that The Lord has so freely given to us?  What benfit does it do us to keep our homes filled with furniture that’s never used, closets full of clothes we don’t ever wear and food in our cupboards that we could easily go out and replace?

A few years ago, we were living on a really tight budget.  Liam was getting ready to start soilds and we were still using our original high chair for Noah (only 2 at the time).  We really didn’t know how we were going to afford even a low budget high chair for him.  But The Lord provided.  Right after lunch that day,  Larry’s aunt and uncle (who live abour an hour away) showed up unexpectedly for a visit.  With them they brought a picnic table for the boys, some books and A HIGH CHAIR!  I couldn’t believe it!  Even with all the problems of the world.  God KNEW we were in need, and he provided.  Not only what we needed (the highchair) but more so.  He showed us that when we trust in him, he will take care of us.  He will not leave us behind.  And while yes, it was used, needed a bit of a clean up and maybe wasn’t the latest and greatest model that I selfishly WANTED, it was a highchair and it more than covered our NEEDS.

Trust in faith that He’s got this, it’s not always easy, but his plan for our lives is way better than ours!

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Crunchy Dad and Oliver (Oct 2013)

May 6, 2014
by Cole Chartier
1 Comment

Crunchy Dad Heads Back To Work!….sort of

It’s been just over a year since Larry took a job that had him working from home full time.  Now he’s headed back to the grind in an office (same job just needing to have a brick and motar office instead of our basement bedroom *smile*)

When Larry first started working from home it took a bit of adjustment on all our parts.  We had to get the kids used to the fact that while yes, Daddy is home he’s not available to play minecraft or build forts at 10am.  I had to get used to that as well…yes he was home, but not so I could run to the store sans kiddos just because we ran out of butter.  Larry had to adjust to the biggest obstacle our house has…noise! Lots and LOTS of noise.  More often the not the kiddos seem to perfectly time their peak noise making for when he’s on a sales call or meeting with a new client…but adjust we did and we began to really love it!

Crunchy Dad And Mum (with Elliot)

Crunchy Dad And Mum (with Elliot)

When this all started I was newly pregnant with Oliver and just getting over the worst of my morning sickness and was beginning my appointments with local midwives.  For the first time since I was pregnant with Noah (2008), I could go to these appointments without all my other kiddos tagging along!  It was wonderful, no car seats to wrangle,listening to something other then nursery rhymes while driving and no audience while I was in the bathroom…it was like a mini vacation I got to take every few weeks!

The last few months,, Larry’s company has been growing and the need has finally become big enough for them to get an office.  The first time he mentioned it to me, I’ll admit, I stuck my head in the sand.  Not wanting to admit that this awesome set up we had was coming to an end.  But as the topic came up more and more I knew I had to start wrapping my head around the idea.  Let’s face it,  I’m really going to miss having him here all the time.

Crunchy Dad With Noah (one day old Dec. 2008)

Crunchy Dad With Noah (one day old Dec. 2008)

 

But as hard as it may be to think of him being out of the house again, commuting, packing lunches, the whole shebang, we are trying to see the silver lining.  Larry has been using our fourth bedroom (which is on our rec level) as his office since we moved here in 2009.  He was always doing large amounts of freelance work to supplement our income and we only had one (soon to be two) babies when we moved here so we didn’t NEED it as a bedroom.

Fast forward to September 2013 when Ollie was born and we had run out of space!  Two kiddos were sharing our largest bedroom (and get along like two peas in a pod so this still isn’t an issue) and Ollie has been co-sleeping since birth so he didn’t NEED a nursery all to himself anyways.  But now he’s getting older and the need to him to have his crib out of our room his getting greater.  So who knows, maybe this really is perfect timing?

Crunchy Dad With Liam (Aug. 2010)

Crunchy Dad With Liam (Aug. 2010)

Honestly that’s the only good i can for see coming from this right now, but hey! at least it’s something *smile*

Crunchy Dad and Oliver (Oct 2013)

Crunchy Dad and Oliver (Oct 2013)

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May 3, 2014
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

What Unschooling CAN look like

 

Unschooling: what it is and how we do it

Dictionary.com defines unschooling  as: a home-school education with the child taking the primary responsibility instead of a parent or teacher; also called child-directed learning, self-learning

Example: Under unschooling education, parents may act as “facilitators” and may provide a wide-range of resources to their children.

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While we do still believe in good ol’ book work for a lot of our subjects.  There are just somethings that need to be seen, felt, heard and touched!  Think of a sunset,  you can be told time and time again how beautiful it, how bright and vibrant the colour can be, what the cold morning dew will feel like on your toes and what the sun will feel like as it warms your skin.  You can even see pictures or watch a youtube video watching it happen…but you don’t REALLY get it, until you experience it…that in part is what unschooling is.  It’s experiencing the world around you and learning all about it!

hello sheep!

hello sheep!

Unschooling my children?  Are you crazy?!

Never in a million years did I think I would unschool my children in anyway.  Boy was I wrong!  Even just everday activities can be seen as “unschooling”.  Playing with legos teaches various math skills all while being child led.  Letting the kids mess around with various kitchen staples just to see what will happen makes for a great science lesson!

As an intergral part of our “unschooling”, we become members of the Royal Botanical Gardens and Ontario Science Centre.  While Larry and I do decide when we will go to these places,  the kiddos really do have free reign once we get there to decide what they want to see and what they want to get out of it.  If they want to spend an hour in the “human body” exhibit great! 10 minutes in the simple machines exhibit? Sounds good to me!

body exhibit at the science centre

body exhibit at the science centre

How I’ve benfitted from ‘unschooling’

One surprising outcome of embracing the unschooling approach is that I’ve had to “unclench” if you will.  I’ve had to learn that my chlidren’s learning really isn’t up to me.  While I can provide workbooks, dvd’s, field trips and all the books in the world, at the end of the day, it’s up to THEM to decide if they are going to learn what i’m teaching or not.  No, this doesn’t mean I’ve just thrown my hands up un the air and said “GOOD LUCK!” but it has made me not sweat the small stuff so much.  OK so my kiddo might not know the capital of France, or the square root of 64 but you know what?  I’m ok with that.  There is so much that they ARE learning and I’m choosing to see that.

checking out the natural playground

checking out the natural playground

How the boys have benefitted from ‘unschooling’

On the days when I give them the most freedom, the seem the most calm.  They do things at their pace, on their terms.  Yes limits are set and guidelines are given, but we try and foster their love and independnce when it comes to their education.

Many times i’ve caught Liam, sitting in our reading cornor reading out “Look Inside The Human Body” book….very fascinated to learn what happens to our food after we eat it (yes, he’s ALL boy!) or exploring to see what happens to our trash after the garbage truck takes it away.

Noah loves to be in the kitchen or create with Lego.  He could sit for an hour just fiddling away with legos and seeing what he can create.  He’s constantly in the kitchen with me wanting to mix, dump and scoop all while learning volumes, and measurments without really knowing it.  It’s so much more fun to learn while doing then just midless drill work in a workbook.

My prayer for my chlidren is that by allowing them this freedom with certain parts of their education, is that they’ll will forever crave knowledge and not be afraid to seek out answers to their questions.  I pray that they will be life long learners and not assume that they stop learning once the formative school years are over.  I guess only time will tell and until then I’ll hold on tight with a lot of faith.

checking out the donkey

checking out the donkey

First kit!

April 25, 2014
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

Little Passports Review

What Is Little Passports?

Little Passports is a monthly subscription box for children ages 5-12, that takes your child  around the world exploring foods, cultures and main attractions in a new country every month.  Each month you receive new activities and games, letters from “sam and sofia” (the two frineds travelling the world together), trinkets and a photo postcard all do to with the focus country that month.  The compnay offers a “world” edition (which we receive, best for ages 5-10), as well as a “United States of America” edition which highlights 2 new states every month and is suited best for ages 7-12.

home made fort makes for fun learning!

home made fort makes for fun learning!

What Does My Child Receive Each Month?

Each month you’ll first receive an e-mail letting you know your package is on it’s way!  It generllly takes 10 business days from the time the e-mail is sent for it to arrive to us (coming from America to Canada).  The first month your child will receive their “suitcase” to hold all their treasures to come, their passport which will soon become filled with stickers of the countries they’ll be exploring, a “boarding pass” which allows your child to access fun games and activites online, and a large map to help locate all the new countries they’ll be learning about and will also come in handy for many of the games each month, a letter from “Sam and Sofia” describing how they came to be world travellers at such a young age and a post card of their adventure!

First kit!

First kit!

The next months boxes are even more exciting!   Your child will receive again a letter, post card and boarding pass with access to more fun games and activities, a sticker of the flag of the country they’ll be studying, a push pin sticker to place on the map to help locate the country they are visitng,  and of course Noah’s favourite part…the gifts!  Last month we were studying Brazil and he received a piece of amythest rock to help supplement what he was learning in his letter from Sam and Sofia.  This month we are learning about Japan and he was sent oragmi paper and intsuctions along with a sushi shaped eraser!  Needless to say the sushi eraser is this week’s prized possession!

 

Month One - Brazil!

Month One – Brazil!

 

Month Two - Japan!

Month Two – Japan!

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What Countries Will My Child Learn About?

There are currently 23 countries for your child to explore with Little Passports with more coming!  Some of them include Brazil, Japan, France, Egypt, Australia and Mexico!  For the full list of countries click here.

 

What Do We Think Of Little Passports So Far?

We are in our third month of receiving Little Passports and we have really enjoyed it so far!  It has been a great jumping point for us to explore deeper into each country.  Noah gets so excited when he knows the package is on it’s way and so far i’ve been able to sneak the new items into his suitcase once they arrive so it’s a big surprise when he opens it the next day! We will definitely be renewing our subscription at the end of the year and will more than likely be using it again for the other boys!

Chowing down on some seaweed!

April 25, 2014
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

Happy 7 Months Oliver!

A fun little update on our little Ollie Pop!  He turned 7 months over the Easter holiday.  It has gone by so fast!  Fast doesn’t even describe it properly.  He is getting so big so fast!  He army crawls like a champ! Moves from his tummy to sitting up with ease and has even starting to pull himself to standing this week!  He loves his purrees and can down up to 2 1/2 jars a day!  He smiles bigger than I’ve ever seen whenever his brothers talk to him or play with him,  he hates to be left out of anything!  I can already see what great friends my four little men will become as they grow and it is so heartwarming to know they will alway have each other.

 

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Reading all about the body with Elliot

Hanging out with the bros during school time

Jammin'

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April 24, 2014
by Cole Chartier
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A House Full Of Oilers

The premium starter kit

The premium starter kit

We recently came to discover the wonderful world of essential oils! Let me just start by saying, it’s only been a few weeks that we have been using them, but we will never stop!  In the past few weeks we have seen so many wonderful changes in everyones demeanour, behaviours and over all well being.

We decided to order Young Livings Premium Starter Kit.  At around $200 it was the best value and gave you a wonderful variety of oils to try before commiting to anything to big or scary.  Along with the diffuser you receive 5 ml bottles of stress away, lemon, lavender, peppermint, frankincense, theives, joy, purification, pan away, valor, and peace and calming.  Along with sample packs or theives, lavender, peace and calming, lemon and peppermint.

the everyday oils kit

The first day we received the oils, I immediately applied stress away to myself and Larry.  having a new package arrive with four kiddos in the house makes for a busy unboxing!  We then decided to try the diffuser right away.  Peace and calming seemed like the best choice!  Within 10 minutes, my usually very high energy, very physical children were completeing school work or playing nicely together.  WE WERE SOLD!

Over the next few days we tried out almost all the oils – purification on a cotton pad at the bottom of the diaper pail…no more stinky nursery!, frankincense and purification on my face before bed and my acne is almost gone!, lemon and peppermint diffused in the morning for a great pick me up, valor on Noah before his first trip to the dentist meant no tears for a scared little boy, theives on the bottom of my feet every night kept me healthy while the rest of the family battled a nasty spring cold.

After all that, how could we deny that essential oils WORK!

Curious about young living oils?  check you youngliving.com and if you decide to purchase the kit i hope you’ll use my enroller ID 1725037.  be sure to sign up as a Whole sale member (sounds scary, but it’s not! You’ll get the 24% discount and the only requirement is that you need to purchase $50 in product a year…pretty easy!)

You also have the choice to earn some money from this as well!  If you decide to share the oily world with your friends and family you can make a monthly commissions check and have the opportunity to receive monthly promotions and free products

December 12, 2013
by Cole Chartier
0 comments

Dinner for under $10!

While I knew we’d be saving money by eating little to no meat this month I was shocked to see just how cheap some of these recipes really are!  I worked out the numbers for some of our favourites and found that almost all of them were under $10 for all the ingredients and some cost only pennies a serving!

Almost all of these came from my new favourite cook book “Happy Herbivore” or “Everyday Happy Herbivore”  both written by Lindsay Nixon.  If you haven’t heard of these I HIGHLY recommend checking out her site and her books!  Even if you aren’t a vegan or vegetarian there are SO many recipes that don’t have tofu/mock meat recipes as an ingredient. Don’t be afraid just because a recipe is “vegan”!

So I’ll start with one of my favourite recipes which just happens to be the cheapest!  It’s called Yemisir W’et and is an Ethiopian lentil dish cooked in a spiced tomato sauce.  It has a weird name but is AMAZING!  It has minimal ingredients which helps keep it cheap (as long as you have a well stocked spice rack).  So for this recipe all I had to buy was a tetra of broth for $2.79, a bag of lentils for $1.99 and a tin of tomatoes for $1.29.  For all this ingredients it came to $6.07 (before taxes).  If we break it down for what it costs just for the recipe it comes to $2.63 for the meal (we only use 3/4 of the broth and barely 1/4 of the bag of lentils). It serves 4 LARGE bowls and breaks down to $0.66 a serving!  When I made this, I chose to omit the broth and substitute it with water.  I figured with all the spices I didn’t need to use an expensive broth that wouldn’t be tasted anyways.  By this simple switch it brought the total for the ingredients down to $3.28 for all of them,  $1.54 for the recipe or $0.39 a serving!  We served this with a mini naan bread ($.50 each) for a complete meal. This may only be a dollar or so more than what you would pay for 2 boxes of mac n’ cheese but it’s clean eating, whole foods, not processed and even though it may be bright orange, it’s all natural colour not yellow #5!

The next cheapest recipe I found was called “Cheater Pad Thai”.  It again as a really simple ingredient list and I only had to buy 3 things from the list; rice noodles for $1.49 (this one package will make 8 servings!), sweet chili sauce for $1.29 (one bottle will make this recipe almost 10 times!) and a package of low fat tofu (you’ll only use 1/8 of the package per serving so you’ll get 4 recipes from one pack) for $2.49.  All together these ingredients came to $5.27 which breaks down to less than $0.65 a serving!  This meal whips us in a flash!  You can make the sauce a head of time to deepen the flavour and just keep in the fridge until you need it later in the day.  The noodles can be made just by pouring boiling water over them and letting them rest for a few minutes before draining them and the tofu fries up in around 5 minutes.  Top with some chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime and you’re done!

It’s amazing how cheap you can feed your family when you really start looking for healthy and cheap options! You don’t need to live off  cheap fake foods just to save money.   Stay tuned for see 3 of my favourite ways to stretch a dollar even further!