Friday, April 21, 2017

Week in Review, 4/21/17

It has been a while since I did my weekly review, so this is more like a catch-up review.

In late February, on a 75-degree day (that just doesn't happen in Maryland!), the Life Scout pulled together Scouts, CAP friends, and friends of friends, and got his Eagle Project completed. A county park path had been rerouted, and the job was to make the old path disappear. It was called reforestation and trail reclamation.

In March, in addition to attending his two college courses of Spanish 101 and Sociology 100, the high school junior visited two colleges -

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA

and University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.

He was scheduled also to visit University of Maryland, Baltimore County, but sickness prevented him from making this visit as scheduled.

The lad really likes U of A. It has an Air Force ROTC program, which is important to him, and he loves the climate and the topography. Being there brought back the rockhound in him (one who searches for rock samples).

Upon his return from Arizona, while scurrying to make up work missed in his two college classes (missed a Friday and a Monday), the lad had paperwork to finish on his Eagle project. He had to write up his Project Report and get it signed off. After that he had to write up his Eagle Scout Rank Application (a.k.a. "ESRA"). Then every date and merit badge needed to be checked, double checked, and re-checked. Then his Eagle notebook needed to be compiled with his Life Statement and copies of the 21 merit badges he was applying to the Eagle application. He had been in three troops, and some of his merit badges and some of his rank advancements were not in Internet Advancement, and that needed to be completed. Finally, he met with the District Eagle Coordinator, who still found errors in the paperwork, which got corrected. Now the Scout is scheduled to have his Eagle Board of Review next Friday - he missed the Board of Review opportunity in March because of his trip to Arizona (and the paperwork wasn't finished anyway!).

A test, the ACT, was rescheduled because things were just getting too packed in the schedule. 

Mom, meanwhile, has been revising Transcript and Course Descriptions in preparation for college applications in a month or two. 

In addition, the following products are currently in use for upcoming reviews:
Watch for upcoming reviews! So what's going on in your home school?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Menu Monday for 4/17/2017

Here is this week's menu plan for my family of three. Two meals already down, one might think I would have one photo from Easter, but I don't. We set a table for seven, and did not take a single photo. ::sigh::

Saturday (4/15):  Balsamic chicken, rice, broccoli

Sunday (4/16) (Easter):  Standing Rib Roast, mashed potatoes, asparagus, rolls

Monday (4/17)(BS Eagle COH Planning Mtg.)
Ravioli, salad, TX toast

Tuesday (4/18): Beef vegetable soup (using beef leftover from Sunday), salad, bread

Wednesday (4/19): Chicken Caesar salad, rolls

Thursday (4/20) (CAP): Sizzleburgers, noodles, spinach

Friday (4/21):  Date night

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Digital Savvy - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew
In late February I learned I was to be part of the Homeschool Review Crew's CompuScholar, Inc. review. 

CompuScholar, Inc.
I received one year's access to CompuScholar's new on-line courses, Digital Savvy

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy

Digital Savvy is a course for high school students. This is the age group CompuScholar has found most suited for this course, but you can certainly try it with a computer-savvy middle-schooler. 

Digital Savvy  counts for 1 high school credit on your student's high school transcript. This is perfect where I live, Maryland, where the state guidelines for graduation require one high school credit in "Technology" for graduation. Even though home school students can be graduated without having all the credits required by the state for public school graduated students, many of us still follow those guidelines knowing they closely align to what potential colleges will be looking for.

Digital Savvy is broken down into 25 Chapters which each contain three lessons, an activity assignment and a test. Each lesson contains a lesson video, a text assignment and a quiz. The quizzes and tests are automatically graded (immediately), and the parent can place settings so the student can retake the quiz to improve the grade, using highest grade achieved or getting an average of the scores. The parent/teacher needs to grade the Day 4 assignments. The ideal schedule to follow is to complete one chapter each week.

Digital Savvy Chapters are as follows:

  • Fundamentals of Computer Hardware;
  • Fundamentals of Computer Software;
  • Operating Systems;
  • Computer Files;
  • Computer Maintenance and Troubleshooting;
  • Computer Networks;
  • Search Engines;
  • Computer Security;
  • Word Processing;
  • Spreadsheet Programs;
  • Presentation Programs;
  • Database Technology;
  • Project Management and Teamwork;
  • Mid-Term Project;
  • Digital Images;
  • Internet Communications;
  • Social Media;
  • More Social Media;
  • Creating Web Pages;
  • Web Page Design;
  • Web Links, Images and Animation;
  • Programming Concepts;
  • Digital Logic;
  • Careers and Technical Skills; and
  • Final Project.
There is also a 26th section for Supplemental Lessons and Enrichment Topics.

So this is basically a 26 week program, and the average school year is 36 weeks. This means you can skip a week here or there, or take two weeks on a particular Chapter. If your student is really digging into one of the Chapter projects, they can have more than one day to work on it. I love this type of flexibility.

With the variety of topics covered in this course, you can certainly consider covering the material in more than one way. The obvious way to approach the course is starting at Chapter 1, Lesson 1 and go through the course in order. This is the approach I used. I was working through the course myself as the student, and there was not a lesson or project I covered where I did not learn something. The other way to approach the course is to look at the topical list and target the areas where you are most in need of additional information. I don't mind recommending this to the parent/teacher, but I don't recommend it for the high school student taking the course.

I've been using a computer since about 1983, and being a computer-user is not the equivalent of being properly or adequately educated about these devices you are using! I have loved being able to take this course myself to increase my computer knowledge base, and I recommend this to every parent who purchases the course for their student. Now here is a bonus: When you purchase the course for your student, you will also get a parent/teacher account which gives you access to the same course as your student. So you buy the course for your student and can take the course yourself as well without purchasing a 2nd student account. I highly recommend the parent work through the course, as this way at any point in the course if your student hits a point of confusion you will be better prepared to step in and try to resolve the confusion.

In the event the student's question is beyond your ability, there is a means for contacting CompuScholar to get the question answered. This will often take up to 24 hours, possibly more if it is the weekend, so it is better for the student if the parent is able to answer the question.

Digital Savvy is a new course. Sometimes new products have glitches that need to be worked out. This is another reason it can be good for the parent to work through the course first (or simultaneously). I found at least one place where the multiple choice question had two answers that both seemed to be correct. A fourth answer said "all of these are true", but that wasn't the answer because the third answer was clearly incorrect. I contacted  and they agreed and immediately changed one of the answers so that it was clear which answer was the correct choice for the question. I love that type of responsiveness in a company, and CompuScholar appreciates any assistance in improving their product. This is a win/win situation, in my opinion!

So far I have learned the differences between hardware, software and peripherals, and I now better know the differences between different operating systems. I now understand the differences between freeware, shareware, and open source software. I am really looking forward to learning more about properly protecting my computer against viruses! So much more to cover.

I highly recommend Digital Savvy to you and your high school student. I also suggest you take a look at the other courses offered by CompuScholar.  You can also touch base with them on social media here: CompuScholar Facebook and CompuScholar Twitter

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed products by CompuScholar. Some reviewed Digital Savvy, like I did; some also reviewed the Web Design  course, and some reviewed the Java Programming  course. To see other reviews of these CompuScholar courses, please click the link below (click on the picture below).
Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Menu Monday for 4/10/2017

Monday is here and my meals are planned. What is funny is how quickly plans change! I wrote this up Saturday morning, and by dinner it had changed. We had planned our dinner out for Monday night and decided to go Saturday instead. Then, Sunday I had planned salad as the vegetable and we served green beans instead, which meant I had to switch and plan salad the night I had listed green beans.

These types of switch and swaps happen all the time at my house. I usually just don't mention it. As long as I am switching what I planned for one day with what I had planned for another day it does not impact my budget.

My husband was surprised at how little he spent on groceries this week (he did the shopping). He even splurged on something not on the list that was about $9, and the total was still only about $98! Granted we didn't need any of those occasional purchases such as laundry soap, dishwasher soap, shampoo, etc., but still that was nice!

So here is what we are eating this week:

Saturday (4/8):  Dinner Out

Sunday (4/9):  chicken parmesan, green beans, rice

Monday (4/10)Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots

Tuesday (4/11) (Senior CAP): Italian Wedding Soup, salad, bread

Wednesday (4/12): Balsamic chicken, rice, broccoli

Thursday (4/13)(CAP): Pork chops with honey garlic sauce, salad, noodles

Friday (4/14) (Good Friday):  grilled salmon, brussels sprouts, yams

Friday, April 7, 2017

Inoculate Kids Against Bad Ideas

This video by Summit Ministries gives an intriguing argument to think about to prepare your children to deal with life in the world.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew
In February I learned I had been selected to be part of the crew reviewing a product for Peggy Consolver - Author. 

Peggy Consolver

On February 19 I received a package containing Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}

This paperback book is about 6" X 8" X 1" and is 379 pages long. In other words, it is a pretty long book. Don't let that worry you -- it's an easy read. I've known kids to read a 900+ page book in three days if they find it interesting. Just sayin'...  Anyway, I'd say Shepherd, Potter, Spy is the right level for students 12 to adult to read to themselves, but that children 8 and up would enjoy this book being read aloud to them.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy centers around the life of a boy named Keshub, and his family, in the land of Gibeon. The story takes place in the time period when Moses lead the people of Israel to the River Jordan, and then turned leadership of Israel over to Joshua. Moses never entered the promised land.

Keshub's life is simple at the beginning of the book. Fifth son of a potter, Keshub is ten harvests plus two (12 years old). As the story begins, Kesh is a shepherd of his family's flock. The difficulties in his life come mainly from insufferable treatment from his younger cousin and from periodic mistreatment from the neighborhood bully.

A regular fun diversion, at the end of each day's labor, is when all the neighborhood boys meet together to get military training from Sir Ghaleb, who used to be a soldier. Practice with sling throwing and bow and arrow come in handy later when Keshub has some dangerous encounters in his shepherding when he encounters once a lion and once a bear.
Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Peggy Consolver

Keshub's father is the potter of Ra-eef, and is known for making the best pottery in the land of Gibeon. The older sons help with the pottery-making initially, but as the story develops, things change rapidly. There are trips to be  taken to sell pottery; there are crops to be harvested. Worst of all, an evil King Zedek is eyeing the local young men he sees, desiring them for his army.

Keshub has to take on responsibilities his brothers used to handle as the older sons are moved to different tasks. Soon Keshub is barefoot, stomping clay to remove bubbles and stones, in a vat by his cousin, watching Baba and another brother making the pottery from clay coils.

As the story progresses further, Keshub is also called upon to do some spying, hence the title Shepherd, Potter, Spy. The title also could have said, "Merchant", as Keshub also made trips to sell the pottery.

While the story of Keshub is developing, there is another important story being told of turmoil and dangerous events taking place outside of Gibeon. Imagine being the residents of Israel's "Promised Land" at the time when God led the people to cross the Jordan and take the land. Imagine watching from a distance and seeing the God of Israel deliver their enemies into their hands. Imagine watching as they crossed the River Jordan on dry land during a time of floodwaters.

This book is well written and captivating. The content is well researched and the message is conveyed in rich language. I am a student of Old Testament History, and this book gave me a new perspective and put concepts together for me in a new way. I highly recommend it.

And who do you suppose "The Star Namer" is?

The author's website gives links for further depth of study into areas touched on in Shepherd, Potter, Spy. I haven't gotten through all of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed the material I covered. I loved reading about mammals indigenous to the area of Gibeon. There are videos about plaiting and using a sling. All the links relate to content in the book. There is also a 12-unit study guide available to go with Shepherd, Potter, Spy called Digging Deeper Into HIStory.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Peggy Consolver

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think you will too!
Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew also reviewed this book. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.
Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

First Form Greek - A Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew
In mid-February I learned I had been selected to participate in the first Memoria Press review of the Crew for 2017. 

Memoria Press

On February 19, a package containing First Form Greek Complete Set arrived at my doorstep.

First Form Greek Complete Set
Grades 7-12

One of the first reviews I ever did for Memoria Press was First Form Latin. I was impressed then, and I am impressed now. I don't think I've ever tried a Memoria Press product that I didn't love!

I was permitted to work on First Form Greek as the student, and I highly recommend any parent doing this before they have their student take the course. 

I started my work in Greek by reading through all the introductory material. Next I watched introductory video. I watched the video for Chapter 1 with the textbook open and took copious notes in a spiral notebook. Next I opened the student Workbook to Chapter 1 and found the workbook asks for the same things I had been writing in the spiral, so I ditched the spiral.

The workbook is broken down into five days of work which reinforces the lesson watched on the video on day 1. Friday of each week is a test or quiz. Each day begins with a greeting and responses. You can play the video each day to practice this. Once each week you recite Greek material that is being memorized. As the material accumulates you will recite on more than one day per week, making sure all material gets recited once per week. On day 1 the lesson is read from the textbook, the saying is covered, and new vocabulary is introduced. For independent work the student completes the Workbook pages for Day 1.

Days 2 through 4 the student recites the lesson's new grammar forms and vocabulary and does the appropriate work in the Workbook. It is helpful to listen to the pronunciation CD for the lesson each day. As each week's vocabulary is introduced, there are corresponding vocabulary cards. I like to copy the new words down, pronouncing each Greek letter as I write it and pronouncing the finished word when I am done. All the writing and speaking helps cement the new material in my mind.

Day 5 begins with the week's recitations one more time, and then the student takes the quiz or test. There is Oral Drill that you, as the teacher, are supposed to do with the student, which is an example of why I believe the parent should work through the program once as the student before teaching the material to the kids.

Beginning in Lesson 4, Day 5 will also include a cumulative review (which can also be assigned as homework over the weekend).

The focus of Lesson 1 (week 1) is largely "review" of the Greek alphabet. Memoria Press strongly recommends the student of spend one year studying The Greek Alphabet program before studying First Form Greek. Those who have not done that need to spend longer in Chapter 1 learning the alphabet. Chapter 1 also explains diphthongs and accents, breathing marks and syllables, and punctuation.

Lesson 2 builds on week 1, reviewing alphabet, and introducing pronoun endings. I remember in Latin we memorized -o, -s, -t, -mus, -tis, -nt. (-o is for "I"; -s is for "you"; -t is for "he", "she", "it"; -mus is for "we"; -tis is for "you all"; and -nt is for "they".) In Greek the respective endings are -ω, -εις, -ει, -ομεv, -ετε, -ουσι. The charts begin, similar to the Latin charts: I loose; you loose; he, she, it looses; we loose; you all loose; they loose. Vocabulary words begin in Lesson 2, with the vocabulary cards.

From there week builds on week, lesson builds on lesson. At whatever speed you can muster (I am slow), you build your Greek vocabulary and your understanding of tenses and declensions. I love the educational pieces included periodically to add to my Greek education.

Learning a new alphabet has been challenging and fun, and difficult. I've gone around saying the alphabet in my head, "Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon..." while trying to visualize each letter in my head. And I'd get stuck on gamma. Alpha, beta, delta and epsilon I could visualize, but gamma... And so it went. I had never thought about when my 2-year-olds were learning the alphabet song they didn't know, simultaneously, how to read, write or recognize the letters they were memorizing the names of.

Moving on, still struggling, because I can't spend a year on the alphabet and still do the First Form Greek review. Not quite having that alphabet under my belt, moving on was a bit like using a decoder ring to decipher Greek words being presented.

So, here's the Greek alphabet:
Α α - alpha; Β β - beta;  Γ γ - gamma; Δ δ - delta; Ε ε - epsilon; Z ζ - zeta; H η -eta; Θ θ - theta; I ι - iota; K κ - kappa; Λ λ - lamda; M μ - mu; N v - nu; Ξ ξ - xi; Ο ο - omicron; Π π - pi;  P ρ - rho; Σ σ ς - sigma; Τ τ - tau; Υ υ - upsilon; Φ φ - phi; X χ - chi; Ψ ψ - psi; and Ω ω - omega.

Some of the letters are pronounced the way my brain expects (B = B), and some are not! (P sounds like "R") A v is a small N, a υ is a small Y. It is a whole new language, and if you're still reading this you deserve to say, "It's all Greek to me!"

Seriously, though, I never thought I'd be studying Greek. First Form Greek makes Greek studies attainable without having to pursue a Master of Divinity. I love bringing the classical education back to the up and coming generation, and Memoria Press makes it attainable. This is a formal language program. Being introduced to Greek roots is not the same thing. This program is wonderful! I give it two thumbs up!

You can follow and stay in touch with Memoria Press through the following social media links:
Twitter:  @MemoriaPress

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this and other Memoria Press programs. To see more reviews, please click below.
First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Menu Monday for 4/3/17

Spring, spring, spring! Meals change from warm, heavy comfort foods to light, "Spring-y" meals! Really, though, it happens gradually, without much thought. We crave different foods.

This week our meals were planned quickly, around our evening commitments. A quick-to-prepare meal is planned on evenings when we must go out to a meeting. Here are our plans for this week:

Saturday (4/1):  Dinner Out

Sunday (4/2):  roast chicken, broccoli, rice

Monday (4/3) (Boy Scouts):  leftovers

Tuesday (4/4): Garlic Lime Chicken, noodles, asparagus

Wednesday (4/5): spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, TX toast (spaghetti squash)

Thursday (4/6)(CAP): chicken parmesan, green beans, rice

Friday (4/7):  Lentil soup, salad, rolls or muffins

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Menu Monday for 3/27/17

Well, I've put this off long enough. My "guys" are back from Arizona, and I can no longer live off of freezer leftovers. The men require real meals. So I have put together this plan for the rest of the week.

I call myself "Primarily Paleo". My normal eating avoids grains and processed foods. What I post no longer may look that way to the reader... My men aren't following my diet, so I serve three-part meals of which I usually eat only protein and vegetables. When I eat starch, it is usually the healthiest choice: brown rice, root vegetables, whole grain, unprocessed.

Well, here's this week's plan:

Saturday (3/25):  leftovers

Sunday (3/26):  leftovers

Monday (3/27) (Boy Scouts):  leftovers

Tuesday (3/22) (Sr. CAP Mtg.): chili, salad, corn bread

Wednesday (3/23): sizzleburgers, green beans, noodles

Thursday (3/24)(CAP): roast chicken, broccoli, rice

Friday (3/25):  spinach pie, salad, rolls

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bessie's Pillow - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew
In early February I learned I would be part of the Crew doing a review for Strong Learning, Inc.

Strong Learning, Inc.
Members of the Homeschool Review Crew received copies of the book, Bessie's Pillow.
Bessie's Pillow
My son and I have been studying Spanish, and I was delighted to learn there is a bi-lingual version of Bessie's Pillow, and Strong Learning sent me this bilingual version! Unfortunately, for some reason the postal service delayed my book's delivery for weeks, so the English version is all that has been read so far. This was necessary in order to finish the book in time for the review!

The bilingual version is about 10" X 14" and is spiral-bound. The content is presented with one column in Spanish and one column in English on each page.

I had been informed there is a study guide to go along with Bessie's Pillow, so today I hunted around on the website to see what I could find. When you click the Bessie's Pillow link, you can see a menu bar across the top of the page. If you click on the For Teachers link, there are useful links to further your studies. You can get information about radio and movies during Bessie's era, as well as photos from Bessie's life, on the link for  “Bessie’s America.” There is also a link to the Bessie’s Pillow Teacher Guide which gives discussion questions and project and term paper ideas. In addition, Strong Learning offers a Companion Workbook available both in English and bilingual English/Spanish.

Bessie's life rings echos around many aspects of my family's immigration stories, so I have decided to give you stories of Bessie's life and parallel them with snippets from my family histories.

In 1906, when Bessie was 18 years old, she left her family in Glubokoye, Russia to escape the Russian pogroms that were being exercised against the Jews in Russia. This is around the time that my husband's Jewish ancestors fled from Odessa, Russia to escape the pogroms.

When Bessie was leaving Glubokoye, a woman named Mrs. Dreizen approached Bessie with a pillow, begging Bessie to try to get it to the woman's son, Nathan, in New Rochelle. This pillow, "Bessie's pillow", provided Bessie much comfort for many days ahead. In Yiddish the pillow's needlepoint said, "May this pillow bring you peace!" 
Bessie traveled alone, an act relatively uncommon. Young women did not travel alone. They just didn't. Bessie was a courageous woman to do such a thing. I can't tell you how eerie this was for me to read, knowing that my great grandmother, Emma Savilahti left her homeland alone in 1901 and traveled to America, celebrating her 20th birthday while she was on board the ship. Emma and Bessie both entered the United States at Ellis Island, New York. I've been there and I saw Emma's documentation of arrival.

Bessie settled in New York and built her life there.  Bessie eventually found Nathan Dreizen and delivered the pillow. In time they fell in love and married. Over the course of time they had children.

With two young children, Bessie and Nathan were devastated when their children, one by one, contracted Scarlet Fever and died. This was very sobering to me. At the age of 10 I, too, had Scarlet Fever. I was quarantined and treated with a medicine that was relatively new in 1968, penicillin. As you see, I recovered.

I already feel like I've revealed too many spoilers in my attempt to show parallels, but let me just reveal one more. Bessie and Nathan went on to have four more children. Sadly, Nathan dropped dead of a heart attack at age 44, leaving Bessie a widow needing to find a way to provide for four children. My grandmother, Esther, with four children, had to become a business woman to provide for her four children after her husband died when my mother was 9, in 1942.

Nathan's pillow again became Bessie's pillow and a source of comfort. In time of mourning, Bessie would hug the pillow tightly as she cried.

Bessie was an amazing woman. She was a successful business woman who, because of her love and compassion for others, often used her resources to provide for others. In her earlier days she visits the Hebrew Orphan Asylum with dreidels, candles and a menorah. Later it is bread or meals to the needy. As a successful older business woman she provides mortgages to people the banks refuse to lend to! She was quite a woman!

Bessie's Pillow is a compelling book. It is a fabulous launching tool for early American social studies. “Bessie’s America” provides links to radio shows and lists of movies from Bessie's time, many of which are some of my favorite all-time movies! I highly recommend this book to you for your personal enjoyment and for the benefit of your home school. I am looking forward, now to going back to the book to work my way through the content in Spanish. 

Other members of The Homeschool Review Crew have also written reviews of Bessie's Pillow. To see more reviews, please click below:
Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

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