Archive | April 2017

Dry season is here with a vengance

It hasn’t rained in a while, and there has been a weather advisory for the past week. It’s been well over 35 degrees Celcius (95 degrees Fahrenheit ) for 5 days now. It’s stinkin’ hot!

We don’t have air conditioning, so Peanut and I spend our days as couch potatoes. We sit on the couch, watch Netflix, and point our floor fan directly on us. Even the dog doesn’t want to move from laying down on the cool floor tiles.

We’ve been avoiding cooking as much as possible during the day. Having to cook over the stove or use the oven on is like torture. I just hate cooking in this heat. Plus nobody wants to eat food that I literally sweated over (EWWWWW!!!!).

We’re also planning a major purchase (more details later!) so I am trying to focus on how to create a meal plan so that Hubby can take food to work with him rather than spend $50 a day on lunches or dinners (remember, we’re in the Caribbean, $50 here is about $7 US or $10 Canadian). This means I need to come up with dishes that are filling and can reheat well.

I stumbled across Busy Mom’s Guide to Home-Cooked Meals and for the price, I couldn’t resist! It seems to have some great recipes, and very kid friendly too! I bought it, printed it out, and can’t wait to try it out! It covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, Yay!

I also found Mom’s Bistro that offers free monthly meal plans for people on a budget. They come out at the beginning of each month, and sometimes includes recipes too! I printed out the one for April and it definitely has some great ideas.

The only problem is that what is inexpensive in North America can be extremely expensive here. For instance, a tin of Campbells cream of mushroom soup is $1.25 in the USA, but here it would cost $2.54. Snack packs of 4 pudding cups are about $1.30 in the USA, but here they are $3.00! Let’s not even think about applesauce! Heck, even apples!!!

Remember, what is exotic to us is normal here, and vice versa. Here on the island, apples, peaches, pears, etc are considered exotic. Fresh strawberries? better take a second mortgage!

So what’s a Canadian girl to do? I’m used to meals like chili, tacos, poutine, and lots of casseroles with various “cream of ____” as the base. Here, meals like Pelau, stew chicken, and lots of beans and rice are the norm. And spicy dishes, wow do the Caribbean people like pepper!

I’ve decided to try out a menu plan using both the above plans, picking out dishes I think may be yummy, but not too expensive to make. My goal is to keep under $900 (or $135 USA) a week if possible. Let’s see how it goes!

I’ll post my meals as we go, I’m hoping to start either tomorrow or this weekend!

10 more school weeks to go… and my review of the year so far.

We chose Timberdoodle this year for our 2016-2017 curriculum. We are just finishing week 26, and we have 10 more weeks of school left. So what do I think of this curriculum?

Pros:

There are LOTS of hands on things to do. I don’t mean crafts. What I mean is that it is loaded with learning games. We have 3 Little Piggies, MiniLuk, GeoPuzzles set of 6 puzzles, Visible Human Body floor puzzle, Morphun blocks, Djeco Chirp Chirp art kit, Djeco Friends soft clay kit, and My First Super Science kit. They are fun, and with the exception of the human body floor puzzle (it’s kind of delicate, so we don’t use it often), we are thrilled with the quality and the fun of these items.

There is many fun “activity” books that encourage fine motor skills. We chose Construction Stickers Activity Book, Emergency Stickers Activity Book, Sticker Dressing Heroes and Rescue, BrainFood Vehicles Doodle Mats, Usborne Big Drawing Book, Oodles of Doodles, Big Book of Things to Find and Color, Kumon Amazing Mazes, Kumon I Can Cut, and Kumon Let’s Fold. These are fun, but Peanut has a hard time coloring and writing, so the doodle and coloring books have been set aside for when he’s ready.

The actual “workbooks” and “textbooks” are highly acclaimed and are basically open and go. This is the heart of Timberdoodle’s curricula. We chose Math U See, Spelling You See, Getty Dubay’s Italic Handwriting, Developing the Early Learner, Beginning Geography, and The Reading Lesson. They are all wonderful, but unfortunately Peanut just isn’t ready for them. We have set aside all except The Reading Lesson, and we supplement this with Hooked on Phonics and Alphabetti. We replaced Math U See Primer with Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 2.

Timberdoodle has AWESOME customer service. I had a problem with “my first scissors” and was given a refund for the item without any hassle. They also took the time to answer my many, many questions and were never annoyed! They are a joy to deal with!

The ease of scheduling! You are given a weekly checklist of how much to do (but not what to do) and it’s up to you to decide when to do it. If you want to do all 8 pages of math in one day, go for it! If you want to do 3 pages of spelling on one day, and two pages the next day, you can! Some people need to have a rigid schedule, so I guess this would be a ‘con’ for them, but for me, having the ability to be flexible with my week worked well.

Cons:

Too many items have been set aside for the future. I know this isn’t the fault of Timberdoodle. Peanut just isn’t ready for 2/3 of this curriculum. We will eventually use it all, but for this year, I consider it a con. I think we should have purchased the Pre-K curriculum instead.

No literature. None. We don’t have easy and regular access to a library, so we need to rely on the internet for downloadable books.

No weekly/monthly topics. There are no “this week we’ll learn about dinosaurs, and next week we’re exploring the weather.” It gets dull and boring. I know it’s just kindergarten, but I would have liked even a suggested list of topics to delve into or read about each week of school. We’re now at the point where school is kind of a drag, and not enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to next schoolyear and our fun curriculum.

We purchased the science book called Soda Fountains and Spattering Paint, and so far not one of the experiments worked! And I’m not alone. Very annoying.

Conclusion:

Timberdoodle has been good this year, but not *great*. I wish I would have seen Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 for our 2016-2017 year, I would have used this instead! I am definitely looking forward to doing this for our 2017-2018 year. And, yes, it says ages 4-5, but I have to plan for the future too. Peanut will be 6, but the next level of Moving Beyond the Page AND our second choice, Bookshark, is for 5-7 year olds, and both recommend that unless your child is advanced, you should stay in the upper age range of the level. A 7 year old would get much more out of them whereas a 5 year old will struggle.

I do like Timberdoodle, but it just doesn’t feel very ‘cohesive’ and doesn’t really explore or expose Peanut to different topics. In later levels, there are books like The Story of the World, World History Detectives, Interactive Science (but note – this has awful reviews!), so it explores some various topics, but in reality this is a STEAM and thinking skills based curriculum. I’ll probably be using their STEAM and thinking skills items, but not their academic curricula. In my opinion, it’s a great curriculum for kids that enjoy workbooks. Unfortunately, Peanut isn’t at the ‘workbook’ stage yet, so they are all waiting for him when he’s ready.

Also, I’ve had to supplement this curriculum, adding phonics, a daily science curriculum, read aloud books, craft projects, and various videos like Magic School Bus, Super Why, LeapFrog, Reading Rainbow, and Blippi.

Next year, with Moving Beyond the Page, I only need to add math and phonics! More details on this in a future post…