Monday, June 29, 2015

Menu Monday for 6/29/15
Here is my vegan/carnivore blended Menu Monday for this week (Vegan in parentheses when carnivores are eating meat):

Sunday (6/28):
Steak, salad, fried onions, corn on the cob, baked potatoes (salad, corn, baked potato with vegan chili) (Daughter’s birthday bash)

Monday (6/29):
Red beans over quinoa with kale (E2 Diet p 178)

Tuesday (6/30):
Creamy cauliflower soup. (E2 page 219)

Wednesday (7/1):
Eat loaf, green beans (P&RHD CB page 184)

Thursday (7/2)(CAP):  
Cheeseburgers on rolls, steamed carrots (veggie burger)

Friday (7/3):
Triple pepper-crowned risotto, broccoli, salad (P&RHD CB page 186)

Saturday (7/4):  
Hot dogs, beans, chips, yellow squash (veggie dog)

Key: FoK = Forks Over Knives
P&RHD CB=Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease Cook Book

Friday, June 26, 2015

Video share

  I wish I had seen this one early enough to post it for Father's Day, but it is so good I am going to share it now any way. I loved it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Video Share for the day

 Takes a bit to make me smile and feel really good these days. This video did that for me today, so I wanted to share. When you can take five minutes for a video, sit yourself down and enjoy this one for your daily feel-good smile. Laughter is the best medicine!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Menu Monday for 6/22/15

Here's my carni/vegan blend menu plan for this week:

Sunday (6/21/15):
Shish kabobs over rice (Beef and white rice for the carnivores)

Monday (6/22/15):
Penne pasta with chick peas & Spinach (page 146 - Forks Over Knives Cookbook)

Tuesday (6/23/15):
Corn Chowder, salad (corn bread for the carnivores)

Wednesday (6/24/15):
millet stew (page 124 - Forks over Knives Cookbook)

Thursday (6/25/15):
Broccoli Pie (page 230 - Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease)

Friday/ (6/26/15)
Carnivores eating pork chops, noodles and green beans/Vegan eating yam, brown rice and green beans

Saturday (6/27/15)
Spaghetti with frozen vegan tomato sauce, salad, carnivores eating Texas toast

Monday, June 15, 2015

CTC Math - A TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In April I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would be reviewing CTC Math.
CTCMath Review

CTC Math generously gave Schoolhouse Crew members their 12 Month Family Plan for us to review! I was excited to see CTC Math again because they now have expanded their program to include Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Trigonometry! (And besides, their on-line adds are so compelling!)

I have one student who is completing 9th grade. He has been parked in Algebra I for a long time. I consider mastery in Mathematics to be of utmost importance. As a homeschooling parent of a high school student, if he doesn't quite understand absolute value or square roots, I don't want to give him a "C" and move on. If he does not understand a concept we slow down, supplement, and hone in. I feel like we've been in a period right now of waiting for the higher-thinking parts of his brain to mature a little bit to help him succeed in Algebra.

My original plan in having CTC Math available was to supplement what my son was doing in his established Algebra I curriculum. I familiarized myself with the Algebra my son was doing in late April/early May, and then I located that subject in the CTC Math Algebra I Table of Contents. It was easy to find the section on "Factoring".

The fuzziness in the screenshot is from reproduction. The program itself has no blur at all. Clicking on "Factoring" took me to a list of lessons on factoring.

As you can see from the screenshot, we finished this unit. Now me being a Math person, I couldn't just let my son do the program. CTC was kind enough to give us two accounts so that my son and I could each have an account. As it turned out, for the review period we used only one account. I was so interested in seeing everything in the program! These math methods are amazing!

There were so many methods that were new to me! I had no idea these methods existed! If you are not a "math person" you might want to scan this section. Here is one of the amazing methods I learned.

Some of the terminology was also new to me. This example is about factoring a "non-monic quadratic equation". An example of a "monic" (mono meaning '1') quadratic equation is an equation that starts with 'X^2' (X to the 2nd power), but there is no numeral in front of 'X'. It is not 2X^2 or 3X^2, it is just X^2.  A "non-monic" quadratic equation HAS a number in front of the initial X^2. 

So to factor a given non-monic quadratic equation:
the student is taught first to write
where the 6 is multiplying times the 4 to get 24, and the answer starts with the
                                         (6X         )(6X         ) - but the answer will be divided by 6. Then the goal is to find two numbers that multiply to get 24, but add to get 11, and those numbers are 8 and 3. You plug them into the equation.
Then you need to get rid of the 6 in the denominator by dividing. But 6 won't go into 8 or 3, so you break 6 into 2 X 3
Then you divide (6X + 8) / 2 = (3X + 4) and you divide (6X + 3) / 3 = (2X + ), giving you the final answer of:
As has happened so many times throughout my home school years, the teacher has become the student! There are so many new methods I have now seen in this CTC Algebra I that I am totally amazed! I am so glad to have a 12-month subscription, and I totally plan to use it myself as well as have my son use his account.

So some differences with CTC that you will want to know:
  • Some of the words are different or are spelled differently. What I call "factoring" is called "factorising", which I would spell "factorizing".
  • The narrator has a cool Australian accent!
  • When a lesson is completed, the student opens a worksheet and an answer sheet, or prints out a worksheet and writes out the answers. Our method is to open the worksheet, move it to the left side of the screen, and open the answer sheet and move it to the right side of the screen.
You should encourage your student to write down his/her work, not just try to figure it out in their head. When answers are submitted, incorrect answers are highlighted in amber to give the student an opportunity to revise their answers.

Encourage them to write down their work and try to get their answers correct the first time, though. Once they submit their answers, the score stays on their electronic record. They can correct it, and the improved score will show, but the poor score will not go away.

I have worked with CTC Math at various times for YEARS and have never found an error on an answer key. Today I have to report that I found errors on the above lesson. I did this lesson specifically to create an example for this blog entry. Imagine my surprise when I got so many wrong! Okay, I did it in my head and not on paper, but still...

So I looked closer and found that two of the answers were on the answer key TWICE. When I selected the letter for the first answer it was wrong, but when I selected the letter for the second answer, it was correct! (Same answer!)

Answer 'D' is the same as answer 'N' -- D is "Incorrect" and N is "Correct".

Answer 'E' is the same answer as "M"--E is "Incorrect" and M is "Correct".

I am sure CTC Math appreciates my editing assistance and will quickly get into their files [of Algebra I, Inequalities and Absolute Values, Lesson 2] and change answers D and E to something else so their students will not get frustrated by this.

I love math, and I love CTC Math. I am so thankful I will have this program to use this summer as my son finishes Algebra I, and next school year as we tackle Algebra II. My son is less excited about CTC Math. Although he is smart and is quite good at Math, he hates math and does not like having more math to do, even when it gives the good results of improving his math grades.

I myself, the math lover, wish I could find the time over the next 11 months to work my way through the rest of CTC Math's Algebra I, as well as their Algebra II, Geometry and Trigonometry programs. I have that option -- CTC gives you everything when you buy their program. However each student does need to have their own account since the program keeps track of what has been completed, the scores on worksheets and tests, as well as the scores on the revisions.

CTC also sends out an email to the teacher each week, which I also love. You know those conversations with your child where they tell you they did their math every day? They may believe it to be true, or they may not have finished, or they may think they are "fudging" the truth. The email report gives the true scoop. If your student displays a tendency to let math slide and you learn of it, you can start going in through the teacher account to check the status each day and help them get back on track.

I have had a few times this year when, after some gentle instruction and review my son said, "Something is seriously wrong here! I'm starting to understand this! I know how to do this!" He has a funny way of saying it, but I love hearing that he had a "light bulb" moment. And I've had light bulb moments, too, using CTC Math. If you were with me you would have heard me saying, "No way!" "Are you serious?" "You can do it that way?" etc. 

I love CTC Math!

To read other reviews of CTC Math by other Schoolhouse Review Crew members, click the link below.
CTCmath Review

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Menu Monday - 6/15/15

Here's my vegan/carnivore menu plan for this week.

Sunday: Dinner at Care Group, taking quinoa, corn and black bean salad (p 63 FoK)

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Ravioli, salad, bread (for vegan, will be eating vegetarian tonight -- ravioli choices are cheese, cheese with spinach, and cheese with mushroom)

Wednesday: Roast chicken, rice, sweet kale slaw (vegan: Quorn chicken patty, brown rice)

Thursday: Baked stuffed potatoes with vegan chili, broccoli, and for non-vegans cheese and sour cream

Friday: Salmon, yams, green beans (or will be going to youth group pool party cook out and will take an Amy's Quarter Pounder veggie burger)
Saturday: Chicken Caesar Salad, leftover garlic bread (salad with beans, no chicken, for vegan)

Friday, June 12, 2015

How does your garden grow

Barbara, at Outdoor Hour Challenge, asked how my garden grows, so I decided it is time to report on my garden.
Outdoor Hour Challenges & Nature Study

Most of my garden is planted. This year I wanted more space, less crowding.
My tomatoes are doing well.
As is the one pepper plant we planted this year.

Some of the beans are doing okay.

But a lot of the green beans were eaten by some critter that got into the garden. That critter even ate a lot of my onions. I haven't seen any evidence of the yellow squash I planted yet, or the sunflowers. We just planted the green squash and the cucumbers less then a week ago, as well as some lettuce, thanks to my dear daughter B for blessing me with her labor!

So, here are the onions that still survive:

Mostly I feel like it is a never-ending battle against the "weedlings" (weed seedlings). There are hundreds of maple seedlings in the yard; I'm pulling them constantly. But even more difficult are the wire-grass sprouts that are coming up everywhere. 

Trying not to water today, as it's supposed to storm tonight. It's like a game, though, like washing your car. If I water, it will rain; if I don't water, it won't rain. I guess I had better go water.

WordBuild Online - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In April I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew had a new vendor, Dynamic Literacy.
JazzEdge  Review

They were offering several products for review, and I was selected to review a product called WordBuildOnline.

JazzEdge  Review
We were given two student accounts, and I was expected to have one student log in at least three times per week. WordBuild. was created to go along witih the Elements level of students. It contains all three levels of Elements morphemes, and more. WordBuild does not want students who did not take their "Foundations" level training to get into words they are not familiar with, so  WordBuild has a preliminary section of review built right into it.

When I received my Parent information, I immediately set up my two student accounts, and we got started. WordBuild is a vocabulary program created by a man named Jerry Bailey. 
The building blocks of the program, morphemes, are based on Latin and Greek roots,. The definitions of the morphemes are presented in a painless way that enables the student to learn the meaning of word roots, prefixes and suffixes incrementally. Students log in, and in a session timed to never be longer than 15 minutes a day, the student works his/her way, activity by varied activity, through exercises that teach and test the student's knowledge invisibly. The student has access, at any time, to lists of roots, prefixes and suffixes to locate definitions the student cannot remember. See a video about WordBuild  HERE.

As I said above, the WordBuild concept is based on Morphemes, a term which describes parts of a word that give the word its meaning. An example of a Morpheme would be "form". The student is given the definition of the word "form", and then taught the definition of prefixes (re-, de-, in-, con-) and suffixes (-ed, -er, -al, -at). The student learns how to combine the root with the various prefixes, and how to determine the meaning of the various combined words.

As the student continues to work deeper into the program, the program keeps track of how the student is doing and repeats, adjusts, advances, reviews according to the progress the student is making. The program is relatively painless in situations where the student provides an incorrect answer, and provides stars with chimes for a correct answer. As a tool for improving vocabulary and increasing comprehension, it is very effective.

My favorite part of the program, as the parent, is the email that is sent to the parent each time the student completes a section, telling which section, and how well he/she did on the activities.

There was one point in our trial where the student struggled to determine the correct answers to an exercise on the screen. Frustration rising, wrong answer after wrong answer, and suddenly the 15 minutes was over and the exercise ended.
This turned out to be a very diffusing method of ending the frustration. I was able to have the confidence to let it go and not worry about it, knowing the program was keeping track and would come back around to accomplish mastery. The device of the student's frustration was abruptly gone, and that was that!

I do have to say there are a couple of minor negatives.
  • The music in the program never changes. (It doesn't play all the time, but it becomes repetitive.) I did not find an option to turn off music, but that would be nice.
  • The comments of praise for correct answers are also repetitive. I guess there is only so much one can say to indicate an answer is correct.
  • Sometimes the question/answer combinations seem like they are geared more towards 2nd language learners rather than students seeking to increase their vocabulary. One answer choice for "Formal" might say "to shape", and the word "to" might go with a definition for "form", but not for "formal". When you think about it, though, all the work on WordBuild, even the work that seems silly (like you would not say "to formal"), is building and reinforcing a larger vocabulary.
I was talking to my older daughter, and although she did not have WordBuild when she was younger, she was very enthusiastic about it. "Our work in Greek and Latin roots, when I was younger, got me through college!"

It is also fun to watch the videos of Jerry Bailey, the creator, and then listen to the voice on WordBuild -- it is Jerry Bailey!

I highly recommend WordBuild to you for the building of vocabulary in your students grades 6-12. The work they do on WordBuild will be relatively painless but will bring important returns that will help them in high school, college and beyond!

Jerry Bailey kindly created a discount code for me to pass along to you, my readers. It can be used at for 25% off the books or at for 10% off.

The code is: hsreview

Other members of the Review Crew also reviewed this vendor. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.

Dynamic Literacy Review 
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

IEW Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Review Crew
In April I learned that Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) was letting the Schoolhouse Review Crew review some of their newly revised products.
IEW Review
I was amazed at the selection we were given to choose from, and I was delighted when I was selected to review the Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C. IEW was amazingly generous in what they were offering the Crew to review. I was also sent FIX-1 & 2,  PLUS A Word Write Now and Portable Walls. (Level C is for students doing 9th-12th grade level work.)
IEW Review

First, before anything else, I want to thank IEW for their generosity! I am still amazed at all that they gave me for this review! The contents of the Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C [FIX-1 & 2]  included:
The Deluxe Combo also includes a Premium Code to be used to download additional resources worth a value of $99 if you were to purchase them. (To me it looks like it is worth more than that.) There are many valuable and worthwhile MP3 downloads, as well as multiple PDF downloads to assist the user in implementing the program for years to come.

When the Deluxe Combo package first arrived, I felt overwhelmed. My feeling was a combination somewhere between the delight of piles of packages on Christmas morning and the sense of dread when a college student has just purchased books for the semester. Wow!
I had had the opportunity previously to experience Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) in its earlier format. I had purchased TWSS and SWI a few years ago.At that time I found the experience overwhelming. The original format was a one-week seminar where parents were taught, through a series of seminars over the course of a week, how to help their students begin, develop, and excel in their writing skills. However I came away from the experience feeling I could never remember it all It was wonderful, but I felt like a failure because I couldn't figure out how to implement it.

At that time I had purchased Student Writing Intensives (SWI), Level B, in the hopes that between TWSS and SWI I could figure out how to lead my son into becoming a quality writer. The Student Writing Intensives was set up the same way as the Teaching Writing with Structure and Style. It was filmed over the course of a week, where students sat in a classroom under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa, and over the course of a week Mr. Pudewa walked them through a process to help them succeed at writing. At that time my reaction was that: 1) I did not have a week where I could let my student focus on only writing to watch the series, and 2) I did not have the ability to break the program down on my own to spread it out over a school year.
When I had previoiiusly purchased TWSS and SWI, I had given it a try and quit. However I learned, when this review was being offered that the program had been revised, and I wanted to give the program another chance.

All I can say now is, "WOW!" What IEW has done with this program is amazing! I have hope! I'm no longer a failure at teaching writing to my son!

To start, I read the introductory material in both TWSS and SWI. Then I watched the first DVD in TWSS, which is teaching the parent how to teach. Next I reread the beginninig pages of SWI and  setup three notebooks: the Teaching Writing Workbook, the Student Notebook for Student Writing Intensives, and an additional notebook to hold student papers not yet needed, which get handed out as the course progresses. The SWI instructions to the parent said to watch the introductory DVD by myself, and then start watching the first course DVD in SWI with my student.

At this point I got briefly confused. I had already watched an introductory DVD (for TWSS), but I was now supposed to watch the introductory DVD for SWI. I missed that point, so my son's first experience was starting to watch the introductory SWI DVD with me that I was supposed to watch alone. He was very unhappy with it, and it didn't take me too long to realize that I had him watching the wrong DVD. Oops! So I let him go do other schoolwork, and I watched the SWI introductory DVD that day.

So, the next day we were actually able to start the program. (Our tight schedule the first day prohibited starting over that day.) So, my son was already starting out with an affected attitude about doing a program with me that we had tried before and failed at, a program that he had sat through a long session of DVD the day before that had been really boring to him. He was a good sport, though. It did take him several days to warm up to Mr. Pudewa, but soon he was right on board, willing each day to work on the program.
So, let me explain why the program is better now. It is as if Mr. Pudewa read my mind and knew where I was struggling with these DVDs. The SWI program is set up now in a way that spreads the watching and the work out over a 36-week period. The TWSS is set up in a similar manner in that is now set up to be watched over a 36-week period. It is wonderful. The additional downloaded materials supplement the 36-week program, and the goal is that the teacher and student will learn how to use the program, and then continue to use the program for several additional years until the student is a confident, competent writer.

So, with the new program my student's writing began to bloom. The very first week he produced a fine writing assignment, and the weeks went on from there. I couldn't be happier. My son felt confident and wanted to watch the segments on his own and do the assignments, but that just didn't work. We need to watch together. There are times when the teacher needs to give the student the next reading/outlining/writing resource, and the information didn't get to me. Then my son would say, "I don't know what the assignment was." Clearly I was in the dark and could not help, so once again it is true, "Follow the Directions". The program is designed to be watched by the student AND the teacher, or the teacher can watch the student segment in advance, but the program is not designed to be done by the student independently.

I have discussed TWSS and SWI. Now let me tell you about the additional products included with the Deluxe Combo. First, there is Fix-It! Grammar. I received physical copies of the Teacher's Manuals for The Nose Tree (Book 1) and Robin Hood (Book 2). I received digital copies of the Student Books for each of these. 

I had the opportunity to review Fix-It! Grammar, Level 3 last year, but unfortunately my son did not have an adequate foundation to start off at Level 3. I was thankful to have this opportunity to let my son establish a good foundation, since I received this time Levels 1 and 2. I started by setting up a notebook for his Fix-It! work, with sections for grammar, vocabulary, etc. as indicated in the directions.

Having already used Fix-It! , my son knew just what to do. He resisted the program in the same places (looking up definitions for the vocabulary). However, he found the required work smooth sailing, though, and this was a pleasant portion of our IEW review.

We also received A Word Write Now, which becomes your student's own thesaurus. It is a beautiful, spiral-bound book. It is not an exhaustive thesaurus, but for selected words gives the student options they might not have thought of.

I really like the way A Word Write Now is made, so nice and sturdy, and the internal format of the content, such that a word like "anger" has choices for noun, verb, adverb and adjective.

A similar tool, Portable Walls is a tool the student can keep in the inside pocket of their notebook to pull out and reference when they need to. It gives quick-helps for each unit as they work their way through SWI. It has "Dress-Ups", "Sentence Openers", "Decorations", "Triple Extensions", "'-ly' Adverbs", "'-ly' Imposters", "Prepositions", "Synonyms for 'Said'", "Strong Verbs", Unit 1-2: "Notes and Outlines", Unit 3: "Story Sequence Model", Unit 4: "Summarizing References", Unit 5: "Writing from Pictures", Unit 6: "Library Research", Unit 7: "Creative Writing", Unit 8: "Essay Model", and "Unit 9: "Critique Writing". That's a lot of content in a fold-out equivalent to three front-and-back pages!

We keep our Portable Walls in the Student Notebook where it can easily be pulled out anytime my student needs a little word help.

I can't say enough about how wonderful this Deluxe Combo is, what a blessing it will be for years to come. I now have confidence that when my son applies to college he will have a portfolio of solid writing assignments available for prospective college recruiters to look at when considering my son for a scholarship. We have only had the program a limited number of weeks thus far, but I am so thankful. I can't wait to continue to dig in deeper in the years to come, and I am enjoying watching my son's writing improve. I don't know if he will ever enjoy receiving a writing assignment, but I have confidence that he will be equipped to complete assignments when he gets to college.
Every year the Crew votes on their favorite products they reviewed over the course of the year. I have to tell you that by far this is my favorite product I've reviewed in a long time -- not just this year! So as you go to your Homeschool Conferences, be sure to stop by the IEW booth and check out the Deluxe Combo set, or just order it off of the IEW website.

IEW has Deluxe Combo sets for all age and grade levels. They also have special sets for Special Needs students. To read more reviews about IEW Deluxe Combo sets and Special Needs products, click on the link below to see other reviews by other members of the Crew.

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