Menu Plan Monday 7/30/18

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It is the end of July and this weekend is the start of my birthday celebration! My birthday is officially next Monday (meaning I don’t have to cook) but we will be celebrating with a brunch with friends this weekend. My hubby will be cooking up french toast, bacon, and eggs on the outdoor griddle while I enjoy mimosas with my friends! In the meantime, this is what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Stuffed Chicken Breast and lemon parmesan broccoli

Tuesday: Beef and Broccoli pasta (broccoli was on sale this week)

Wednesday: Buffalo chicken tacos

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Birthday kickoff! Drinks and tapas with the girls!

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a great week.

Menu Plan Monday 7/22/18

It’s super hot outside but we are enjoying these last days of summer! How about you? While we have to dodge our daily afternoon thunderstorm we are still managing to squeeze in plenty of beach and pool days with friends! This is our menu for the week:

Monday: Stuffed Pork Chops

Tuesday: Tostadas

Wednesday: Dinner out

Thursday: Mexican Pizza

Friday: Calzone

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

TOS Review: Great Waters Press

Raising Real MenListen, raising teenagers is hard. My pastor likens it to raising aliens, and he is not wrong. For a time there, it is pretty much like communicating with an alien race, because a lot of the time it feels like everything you do or say is either awkward or just plain wrong, especially when it comes to the “big” topics. I have two boys, and raising them to have right attitudes towards women, dating, sex, and marriage is a high priority for myself and my husband and, honestly, one I leave mostly to him. However, as the one who spends the most time with our boys, I realize that I have a lot of influence over them too. So, I was very interested to read, Love, Honor, and Virtue:Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to see what kinds of conversations I could have with my boys, especially since they are older now.

Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie YoungFirst, let me say that this book is a great read for either parents of older children or older teens/adult children themselves. While the book itself is actually written to the guys themselves, it still offers excellent talking points for parents, especially if your teens are younger, but still “maturing” at a faster rate then you would like. Be aware that it covers multiple aspects of sexual maturity, even the ones that might make you uncomfortable to think about as a parent (but face it, just because you are uncomfortable thinking about it doesn’t mean your child isn’t dealing with it, right?) so be prepared for that. While the book is aimed at ages 12 through 20, I probably would not have addressed it with my kids at 12, but they were slow to mature, so as the parent, I would probably read it first and then decide if it suits your particular child.

I will say that as a mom, some of the topics definitely made me blush, and there are certainly some things that dads would probably naturally be more comfortable talking to their sons about. That said, this is a book I would definitely give to my husband with the intention of perhaps having him and my boys talking about it together. For an older teen who has been struggling, it might be enough to read it on their own, but for a younger teen, I think they would definitely need to talk some of the stuff over with an adult after reading some of the chapters and I don’t think my boys would feel comfortable talking to my mom about some of these topics. (but again, just because the topics may be uncomfortable does not mean they should not be discussed. In fact, in the time we live in, I believe it is very important that these uncomfortable topics ARE discussed very thoroughly with our children in order to prepare and protect them).

I believe the best way to protect our kids is to prepare them for the challenges they will face in the world and as they get older sexual temptation is one of the biggest temptations there is. As the parent it is your job to talk about the hard stuff with your kids, and honestly, I don’t think anybody really likes those conversations. Love, Honor, and Virtue might make those talks a bit easier because it gives you a common starting point to begin those conversations that can make them a bit less awkward. I would recommend you check it out. To learn more, connect with Great Waters Press here:

Great Waters Press on Facebook
Great Waters Press on Instagram
Great Waters Press on Pinterest
Great Waters Press on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this and the other book we got to check out click here:

Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Code For Teens

Code for TeensTechnology is increasingly becoming a more and more integral part of our world and it is very important for our kids to learn how to use it. Fortunately, many kids today seem more adept at handling modern technology than their parents. However, there are many technical aspects to computers that elude even them, such as programming. I took my first programming class when I was in college and it was very basic, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to explain the concept to my high schooler. So, I was excited to take a look at Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming from Code for Teens for this review.

Code for Teens 

This full-color book focuses on JavaScript and covers topics like coding with numbers, functions, arrays, loops, and even making a game. It is written entirely to the student and is very easy to follow without being juvenile or kiddish (my son’s words, he’s a senior this year so this is very important to him). There are some basic requirements for the program: you must have a laptop or computer and you must download Google Chrome. That’s about it. One very cool thing about this book is that kids start coding right from the beginning. Really, they start performing very simple stuff from the very start, which I think takes away a lot of the intimidation associated with the whole process.

As your child moves through each chapter they will complete chapter quizzes, reviews and projects that they will save on the computer in their “workbook”. Answers to these quizzes and reviews are in the back of the book (which is awesome if you are not tech-literate like me). This workbook also gives them a sense of accomplishment as they see all that they have done as they work through the program. The projects are actually fun, and not boring, which my son kind of thought they would be (because, as he told me, most end of chapter projects are). Some of them are similar to logic puzzles, or may involve writing a bio of themselves or some other sort of activity, but he enjoyed them all and there are helpful hints in the back of the book if your child gets stuck (again, thank you Jeremy Moritz for that because I would not have been able to help on my own for sure!).

Code for Teens also includes a glossary and all the words in the glossary are in bold print in the text, which is nice for context. The color illustrations were a nice touch and added some humor to the book (which was also light and funny and not super serious which is what I remember about programming class, a fact I didn’t particularly enjoy). So, if you think computer programming has to be dry and boring and really difficult, I have to tell you, Code for Teens will prove you wrong. It’s fun, but still thorough, and a great introduction for a high school student looking to learn the basics of programming. I hope the author has plans to write similar books for other types of programming too. We really enjoyed this, and I would definitely recommend you check it out! To learn more, connect with Code for Teens on social media here:

Code for Teens on Facebook

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

 Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 7/17/18

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I am back to vacation and getting back into my normal routine (slowly) after getting done with all the unpacking and laundry and going to the grocery store. It’s hard adjusting back to normal life after a whole week off! The temperatures in the mountains were beautiful so it’s also kind of hard getting back to the regular heat here in Florida. This is our menu for this week:

Monday: Spaghetti (I still wasn’t prepared to really cook)

Tuesday: Stuffed Peppers

Wednesday: Chicken Caprese

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Salad

Friday: Sausage and Peppers

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week.

TOS Review: Math Essentials

Math EssentialsLook, I didn’t enjoy math when I was in school, and I enjoy it even less now. As a homeschool mom, I managed to navigate elementary school math okay, but once we got to the upper level stuff, I knew I was in trouble. So I did what most of us do when we encounter a subject we don’t want to teach, I farmed it out through online and computer courses. However, there are still some times my son needs my help, and I need to be able to help him which means I need some help. So, for this review, I was happy to check out the Math Refresher for Adults book from Math Essentials. This simple workbook is chock full of information for adults (and older kids) like you and me, who maybe have some big gaps in their math instructions, or just don’t remember it and need a little help.

Math Refresher for AdultsSo, getting started, I should tell you this workbook is full of all kinds of problems on all kinds of topics from the very basic like addition and subtraction of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, to much more complicated things like finding the slope of a line, graphing equations, probability and even (gasp!) word problems! But don’t worry, you aren’t left hanging trying to figure all of this out on your own. Math Essentials gives you access to video tutorials for the lessons led by Richard Fisher on their website and the No Nonsense Algebra website so you can watch the lesson before you try to do the problems.

Most of the tutorials are (thankfully) brief, at least from what I’ve seen so far, and that works since I do not have the patience to sit through a 45 minute math lesson. I like to watch the video, pause it, try a few problems, then watch it again, try a few more, and check my answers to see if I’m doing them right. There is an answer key in the back of the book for each lesson, which is convenient, I only wish they showed how they got the answers for some of the problems, but that might be asking a little too much.

You could certainly work through this whole workbook if you wanted to review higher math concepts on your own, or you could use it as a summer refresher for one of your students if you wanted. I also think it would be great for some extra test prep as well. If you have just a few topics you need to freshen up on you could easily just go through the table of contents and pick and choose which ones you want to practice (or have your child practice). There really are a lot of possibilities for this one, but I think it’s a great addition to your homeschool shelf, especially if you have one or more students who struggle with math. I definitely feel like I am in a better position to help my son with some of his algebra when he comes to me with questions now.

To learn more about this program, connect with Math Essentials on social media here:

Math Essentials on Facebook

To see what other members of the crew thought about this program, click here:

 

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}Crew Disclaimer 

Menu Plan Monday 7/9/18

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Woohoo! This is our vacation week. I am so totally excited. Every year we head up to the mountains of western NC for a week of R&R. It is nice to get away with my family to a place that doesn’t really have great cell phone reception or super reliable internet where we can hang out and go hiking and enjoy the outdoors and just spend time together. I do cook when we’re on vacation, because let’s face it, eating out every night is expensive. However, I try to keep my meals simple and easy so I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time relaxing. This is my vacation menu:

Monday: Mexican Chicken Salad

Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Dinner out: (it’s our 21st anniversary!)

Friday: hamburgers/hot dogs down by the lake

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday 7/2/18

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Wow! We are more than halfway through the year and one full month into summer! I am looking forward to celebrating the 4th of July this week with a barbecue/birthday party at a friends house and then going to watch a fireworks show. Here’s whats on our menu:

Monday: Mac and Cheese (crock pot)

Tuesday: Cajun Cauliflower

Wednesday: Party time! I’m bringing Roasted Corn Salad

Thursday: Beef Burgundy

Friday: Cheeseburger Skillet

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

TOS Review: The Master and His Apprentices

I enjoy a stroll through a museum as much as anybody else, and I appreciate a beautiful work of art, but I have to admit, I don’t really KNOW much about art. In high school, I chose drama to fulfill my arts requirement, so when my own child expressed his interest in art (and classical artists), I really wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, there are curriculums out there to help homeschool moms like me and for this review we got to check out The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective a homeschool art history curriculum from The Master and His Apprentices.

The Master and His Apprentices 

This curriculum covers art all the way from Mesopotamia to today and includes chapters on Egyptian art, Early Greek Art, the Etruscan Period, Gothic art, the Renaissance, the Baroque period and more. Full color pictures invite you and your children to examine beautiful images you would likely never see otherwise, all accompanied by a wealth of information, enough to give your child a full high school credit if you choose.

Each chapter begins with an introduction that gives important background information on each period, which is important because it helps students understand the context in which the art takes place. As they are introduced to the art and the artists timelines help them keep track of everything going on. Students will learn about a variety of mediums from paintings to sculptures, and for my son, learning about the different styles of art helped to keep him from getting bored.

The teachers guide includes a sample syllabus and recommendation for grading papers and tests. I found this helpful, if only as a starting point. It is very easy to adjust this to meet your own personal needs, but as this is a very meaty program, it is nice to have a guide to give you an idea of how to structure this as a one year program if you want to do that. Basically it is set up for the student to do most of the reading on their own and be prepared to discuss what they read with you, which is appropriate for an upper level high school student. You could certainly read the material with your child if you wish, but for my junior in high school, he mostly did this as written.

There are questions for each chapter and four written papers assigned throughout the year. We did most of the questions orally, and these would definitely lend themselves well to group discussions if you wanted to use this program in a co-op setting or something like that. You could also assign the questions as written work if that suits your child better. I liked how a lot of the questions brought in Biblical principals and challenged students to think about what they learned about the art from a Biblical perspective. A lot of the time I think people don’t feel they can apply the Bible to artistic works but this program shows how this is simply not the case.

Exams are also included in the teacher’s guide and it comes with an answer key and tips to help you through lessons which I found very helpful. Overall, I thought this was a great art history program that was definitely a good choice to fulfill an art credit for high school! To learn more, connect with The Master and His Apprentices on social media here:

The Master and His Apprentices on Facebook

The Master and His Apprentices on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program click here:

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Silverdale Press LLC

Silverdale PressI have always been an eclectic homeschooler, using a variety of styles to suit our needs. One of the things I like to include in our learning is unit studies, especially for specific topics, like holidays. For this review, we got to check out the White House Holidays Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC. They offer a variety of studies on a number of holidays but for our review we focused on two of my favorites, Christmas and Thanksgiving!

Persuasive Writing and Classical RhetoricThe studies are set up for grades K-12 with different activities for grades K-6 and grades 7-12, so you could easily do these with multiple grade levels if you have a large family.  They are also completely self-contained, so you do not need any additional books to complete the activities. However, you can certainly add books from the library on the topics you are studying if you wish. Some of the activities do require art supplies, but a list of required materials is given at the beginning of each lesson so it is pretty easy to go through these ahead of time and gather everything you need before you get started.

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So, the Thanksgiving unit study is fairly short, consisting of only five lessons, each of which could pretty much be completed in one sitting. If you wanted to extend it out to one lesson per week so you could make it last the whole month of November you could do the reading portion one day, the activities another, and then add in some additional library reading on the other days. For me, I would probably just devote one of our schooling days to the unit study.
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Lessons focus on the history of the holiday and American traditions, including those involving Presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Students will read portions of Plymouth Plantation, make presentations about things they are thankful for, illustrate poems, and analyze primary source documents. I appreciate how this study gets into the history of how celebrating the harvest was so important in America and also taught me some things that I didn’t know such as why the date for Thanksgiving was moved (I truly had no idea about the controversy surrounding the date in the first place). It also includes some recipes, two from Mamie Eisenhower! I feel like this was a very interesting study and that my son and I both learned a lot from it.

The Christmas Unit Study features four lessons, which makes it perfect to roll into right after you finish the one from Thanksgiving! However, it does offer quite a few more activities, so you will probably need to spread them out over the week. As I said, you can certainly add more by checking out books from the library to read to or with your kids if you want, but everything you need is contained right here in the study itself. Each lesson in this study is unique, as it focuses on a First Lady (Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, and Michelle Obama) and their take on the White House Christmas for that year. I really found this one interesting.

In this study you and your children will learn how the tradition of decorating the White House around a theme began and create some of your own special designs. You will also get opportunities to bake, do art projects, and reach out and help others. The study starts with Jacqueline Kennedy’s Nutcracker Suite Christmas. There are links for you to listen to music from the ballet as well as an audio recording of the book. You could also buy tickets to go see the ballet in person if they are available near you.

You will also do a detailed study about the White House Nativity scene and get a chance to create your own as well as read President Kennedy’s speech from when he lit the first National Christmas Tree. Learning about the simple Christmas that Betty Ford had in the White House was very special, and the activities for that lesson lend themselves to a lot of family fun (making popcorn garlands, gingerbread houses and cookies, and cranberry trees). Plus, your house will be fully ready for the holiday season!

Some of the service activities involved in the Christmas unit study include adopting a family in need and visiting a Salvation Army store. You will also do a fair amount of internet research for this study as well. Before they complete the study students will get a chance to practice persuasive writing skills (writing a letter to the White House), track Santa, debate real vs. fake Christmas trees, and a whole lot more. This study really does have a real depth to it and is a lot of fun.

Some other observations about the White House Holidays unit study: it is set up to easily divide the activities between grade levels. You read the same lesson to your kids, but the amount of questions they answer or the activities they do will vary by age, I think this is great because it makes it really easy to do with all your kids at once. While I did not get into the other unit studies, I did take a peak at them, and they all look to be set up similarly, and they look just as fun! I am pretty sure we will hit all of them over the next year.

If you want to add some unit study fun to your homeschool, you can learn more about Silverdale Press on social media here:

Silverdale Press on Facebook

Silverdale Press on Twitter

Silverdale Press on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product and the others we got to check out, click here:

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

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My hubby loves sweet potatoes and fries. This recipe is a nice combo of the two!

Ingredients:

2-3 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp canola oil

3 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp Mexican chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges and soak them in a large bowl of water.
  2. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place the wedges in a bowl and sprinkle the corn starch on top, toss to coat.
  4. Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
  5. Pour the oil on top of the wedges, then add the spices and toss to coat.
  6. Spray two large baking sheets with cooking spray and spread the wedges in a single layer on each one.
  7. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, then flip wedges and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the are crisp-tender. (I like to bake mine until the edges start to brown because we like ours a little crispy but you can bake until your personal preference).

These make a great side dish for just about anything! Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday 6/11/18

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Hello! I hope your summer is off to a great start! We are enjoying the warm weather and sunshine here! This is our menu for the week:

Monday: Citrus Steak

Tuesday: Chicken and Balsamic Veggies

Wednesday: Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Thursday: Pork Verde

Friday: Probably Pizza!

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. Have a great week.

TOS Review: Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha

The Critical Thinking Co.™I love a good mystery! And what better way to teach critical thinking skills than with a mystery story? For this review, we got to check out the Whodunnit Forensic Mystery, Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha from The Critical Thinking Co.™. It is a complete self-contained activity aimed at students in grades 5-12 and we found it very entertaining.

The Critical Thinking Co.™
The mystery begins with a full set of teacher instructions that give you background on the case, witness and suspect profiles, timelines, and specific instructions on how to guide your students through the activities. This is very helpful because there are a lot of pieces to coordinate and students are meant to find out certain pieces of information at very specific times, so you need to make sure you stay on top of that. The directions are however, very easy to follow, so once you read them, you should have no trouble getting started.

Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha 

Activities are designed to be completed individually or in a group, so you could easily do this in a co-op setting if you want, and I think it would be really fun actually. However, for this review, my son just did it by himself. The teacher’s guide tells you exactly which handouts you need to make copies of as well, which is also helpful. Since everything is contained in the workbook itself, the only other things you really need to complete the whole mystery is a folder to organize the handouts and a pencil.

Now, as for the case itself, it involves a few murders, and my son was immediately intrigued. When I first showed him this, he thought it was going to be some “little kid, who robbed the candy store” kind of thing, but as soon as we got into the actual crime, he got interested. The way the police reports, witness and suspect interviews and evidence reports are set up, you really feel like you are immersed in investigating an actual crime. They give you enough information that you have what you need to pull the pieces together, but it is by no means an easy thing to just figure out. Students really need to use deductive reasoning to work out who committed these crimes and how.

I like how the Critical Thinking Co.™ put this together to make it interesting and exciting, and encourage students to use critical thinking skills in a way that really requires them to apply them. Not just in the sense that they are reading and answering questions or drawing conclusions, but that they are pulling together pieces and parts of information from all different sources and synthesizing them and then drawing conclusions and using those conclusions to answer other questions. That’s the kind of critical thinking I want my son to be able to do as a high schooler, and honestly, this is just a really fun way to do it!

We took several weeks to work through the mystery at Lake Iwannafisha, but you can definitely set your own pace. I can tell you we would absolutely recommend this if you want a fun activity to do for summer or just to add something extra and different to your homeschool. I am seriously going to check out the other programs that Critical Thinking has to offer that are like this one because we enjoyed it so much.

To learn more about this program, connect with Critical Thinking on social media here:

Critical Thinking Co. on Facebook

Critical Thinking Co. on Twitter

Critical Thinking Co. on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program and the others we got to check out, click here:

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 6/4/18

Happy Summer! Now that the rain has finally stopped I am looking forward to getting outside and enjoying some sunshine. Last week we broke in our new outdoor kitchen with a barbecue with friends and my hubby loved cooking on his outdoor kitchen. This week I will be cooking mostly indoors though. Here’s our menu:

Monday: Chicken Parm

Tuesday: Spanish Rice (crock pot)

Wednesday: Crunchy Onion Steak

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Dinner out with friends

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. Have a great week!