Thursday, September 26, 2019


I'm an introvert. Yup, I definitely am.

We just moved to a large suburban area in a heavily-populated state.

We know just about no one, we have no connections or relationships; there are so many people here that I think that I could go to the grocery store one hundred times and still not be recognized by the clerk.

This level of anonymity is a bit disconcerting. I can see how people can feel alone in a crowd.

Even as an introvert this is not something desirable to me.

But--we are here for a reason, we believe that God sent us here.  So--here we stay and here we are thankful. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Ticket to Ride

Are you looking for a fun game to play with your family? Let me tell you about one of our recent favorites--Ticket to Ride.  

This is a game that we play as a family (parents and teens) but it's equally fun with younger kids!  For instance, my kids have played it before with a 5 and 8 year old :) and enjoyed it--and this past weekend we played with my dad and all of us, so it spanned 75 years to 15 years old. Lots of fun, challenging, strategic, and fast-moving!

It's definitely kind of expensive, as games go, but I'd recommend it! It is definitely worth the price. 

Give it a try!!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Yummy hamburger addition!

We tried something new with our hamburgers last weekend! 

Right now we are in an apartment, looking for a house, so we are not able to use our grill. We are just using a tabletop George Foreman-type grill...but I think this would work on a regular grill as well!

We love hamburgers, but I think I've found a new way to prepare them!   Smush onions into it and then grill!!

Here's what we did:

1. Slice up onions into thick slices

2.  Press onion slices into hamburger patty and sprinkle on salt and pepper.

3.  Grill as usual.

4.  Eat and enjoy the DELICIOUS onion flavor which is added into the burger! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11 (and accompanying tests) -- my REVIEW

We have done some heavy-duty grammar programs over the years, and now that my kids are in high school, I do not want to let that slip away, though I also do not feel it is super-necessary to learn/drill at the same level that they have done in younger grades. We have used Easy Grammar Systems products in the past, and I was happy to get to use and write a review on the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11.

My daughter is actually in tenth grade, but it is no problem absolutely for her to be using the 11th grade book.  The way that this Ultimate series is set up is there is a "Teacher Edition," which is actually just the masters for each lesson (in the first part of the book) followed by a section of the answers. If you are using this in a classroom or larger group you may want to photocopy them, but for our homeschool use, we just use this one book as the student book--she writes in the pages of the book and then I can use the keys in the back to check her work and help her with corrections.  

The book is set up in a series of 180 days, one on each page. In our case I have my daughter read the rules to herself to refresh/remind her of them and to then do the folowing exercises. If it is a new or confusing topic, she often asks me for clarification.  Usually the rules/topics covered are things she has learned in the past and is now just being reminded of. The exercises give her practice in utilizing the rules in the correct manner.

Each lesson/day is only one page, it is easy to complete, and it works well for us to do one page per day. Not a  huge time commitment, but great practice with grammar rules. No forgetting allowed here!! :)  (we hope!)

After every ten days, there is an "assessment" which you may choose to give your student, to see how they are progressing or to highlight any points which need clarification.  The test book is a separate book, and it is laid out with the test on one side of the open book and the answers on the other side of the book.  You may choose to tear out the pages, so that your student is not tempted to look at the answer side while they are completing the test, or (as we do) just fold it over halfway and trust your student (or watch them, haha!) to not check the answers.  The format makes it really easy for the parent/teacher to correct and grade the student's work.

We really like this system of learning/reviewing for the high school years. I have and will continue to recommend the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series for this purpose. I DO believe that correct grammar is ultra-important (we have these talks once in awhile with my teens...especially when they balk at doing their grammar, haha!) Whether it is right or not, having poor grammar will reflect itself in people's impressions of you...and it's a shame for someone to be underestimated or undervalued simply because they are using improper grammar...but it happens.  A grammar-heavy elementary school program shouldn't be scrapped as soon as high school begins--these reminders are very important for their speaking as well as writing.  I think that the once-a-day, short lesson approach of Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11  is a great way to ensure that your student isn't forgetting important points of grammar.

I definitely recommend this product from Easy Grammar. It is very reasonable priced, as well, so that's a plus too :) If you'd like to read some thoughts by others who used this product or another level (or the Daily Grams -- I like that too!)  please click on the banner below and then read others' reviews!

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

College-Ready Writing Essentials™ -- my REVIEW

As my kids approach the college years, they need to be ready to write good essays--concise, interesting, complete compositions. There are many different resources which help a growing writer, and I think it is a good idea for students to learn through several different methods, as they may influence them in different ways from each other (and, like everything, some methods of teaching resonate better with some students than others!) For this review we had the opportunity to use the Full version of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ which is produced by Dr. William Bryant and the company BetterRhetor.

The College-Ready Writing Essentials™ program is a series of twenty-five lessons which guide a student through the process of writing a research-backed persuasive essay, from beginning with solidifying the purpose/plan for the essay to evaluating your background and interests as they relate, to how to research the topic (and to identify if a source is "good" -- unbiased, reputable), and then organizing your thoughts through an outline and then finally writing the persuasive essay.

The fillable downloads are really nice for the student to
 try out the concepts they have just learned about.
Though much of the lesson is text that the student reads through,
there are some videos sprinkled in as well.

Each lesson contains text for the student to read which introduces/explains the idea of that lesson (a few have short videos included); documents to download and use allow the student to interact with the lesson, so instead of just a read-and-move-on type of lesson, the student reads and then implements the ideas.

The course is basically the process of  working through the writing of a persuasive essay (backed by research), and throughout the course the student works on their own essay, following along with the steps.

There are plenty of explanations and examples, so it is easy to follow the flow of the course. The actual flow through the course is easy to follow as well--there is a toolbar on the left hand side of the screen which lists the chapters and shows your progress.  It's easy to spot where you are, what you've done, and what is ahead.

The course is marketed for 11th and 12th graders, but is useful for a broad variety of learners, even adults who might want to improve their writing skills.  I had originally planned for my 12th grader to use this course, and he started it, but it was like pulling teeth with him...he has already taken composition courses and did not care for the way this one was taught (basically read and do), so my 10th grader began the course--and really likes it.  Here's what she had to say about it: 

 "I really like BetterRhetor. There is a lot of reading, but it isn't too boring. It also is really helpful. It walks you along each stage. It shows lots of examples, and is pretty clear. There are some parts that I'm not incredibly sure of what it wants (in the homework sheets) but for the most part its good!"

The course is laid out so that you can complete the 25-lesson course in five 5-lesson weeks, but we are doing it a tad bit slower. You really have the freedom to use it as it will fit in with your education schedule and goals.  The course that we used is fully autonomous, but there is another level of the course which you can purchase (the "Premium" level) after which you can receive feedback from Dr. Bryant. Some members of the Review Crew used this, so if you'd like to hear more about it, check them out here.

All in all we liked the course :)  We did find it a bit confusing as to how to log in each time (seriously, our learning curve must be pretty flat...I felt like we were fumbling around every single time trying to find out where the login screen was!) but maybe that will be addressed/fixed on the website in the near future. As to the content, it is a good way to learn to organize and put together a great essay for anyone, which will be especially appreciated by students as they enter college and already have that conpetency.

There were others who reviewed this product (the "Full" course as well as the "Premium" course)--if you'd like to read what others had to say about the review, please click on the link below!

College-Ready Writing Essentials™ {BetterRhetor Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Snipping tool

Do you all know about the snip tool? I have been using it for several years, and have pinned it onto my taskbar on my home screen. It's super-useful and I'm hoping you know about it and use it too! My husband had no clue about it, so I'm thinking some readers may not be utilizing it either, so I'll give you a quick overview! 

First of all--what is it and why should you care? Well, it's a great little tool that lets you choose a part of your screen that you want to save--like instead of having to do a whole screenshot and then crop that to get the part that you want, you can just choose the part of your screen that you would like and then save it as an image (it saves as a .png file, if you care to know that detail). 

For example, if you just want part of a scene or webpage, you could take a screenshot and then move it into paint or some other photo editing software and crop it and save it.  OR you can use your snipping tool to just "screenshot" the segment you choose. 

Say you would like to save the pic of the first paragraph of this team's webpage (indicated by the large red arrow). You could either screenshot it and then crop it, or you could snip just what you want!

screenshot captures the entire screen face of your laptop

with the snipping tool you can save just the bit you want

So how do you get this wonderful tool? Well, it's probably already on your computer, you just might not know about it! 

Go to your search bar and type in snip.  This should give you the option of "snipping tool" app. You could just open it and use it, but I'd recommend choosing "pin to taskbar" , so that it will be available whenever you need it!

By pinning it to the taskbar, it will be located on the bottom of your screen (see the red arrow below)

When you want to use it, just click on that icon and a window that looks like this will appear:

Click on "New" and that will give your cursor an expanding rectangle that you can drag till it's around the item you want to screenshot. When you release the mouseclick, it'll show you the snip it's taken:

you can see the snip you've made

And then from that point, you may choose to save it wherever you wish.  If you want to print it, you'll need to save it first. 

So for example, that snip just above, when I saved it and re-open it, this is what will appear:

Just what I chose!

SO--there's my tip for the day!  Pin that tool to your taskbar and you'll find that it is a hugely valuable tool!  Give it a try! :)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Radians and degrees

[[[((Background info on me...))  I love math...and I'm old :) haha! Some things that are taught regularly nowadays in math I did not learn in HS or College...I took calculus in college from a prof who didn't explain it in ways that I could understand, and that flat-out turned me off to calculus and higher maths.  Now my high school son is taking calculus...and I'm the homeschool I'm doing the class right along with (well a little ahead of!) him...we'll see how this goes!  ]]]

Last year my son took pre-calc at the community college and had trouble with radians and related work. I didn't have any clue, so I could not really help him too much...but now I've learned what they are and it's so easy!!

What is a radian? Basically pi radians = 180 degrees.  So to transform between degrees and radians, you just use the fraction 180°/π radians  or π radians/180°

so for example, if you would like to see how many radians is 74° ?

well, 74° * π radians/180°, so that'd give you 1.2915 radians


well, applying all of that to geometry/trigonometry type stuff...

you will see that 30° equals π/6 and 60° equals π/3 and 45 ° equals π/4   and then you can use your triangle rules for a 30-60-90 triangle proportions, where the side opposite the 30 would be 1, the side opposite the 60 is √3 and the hypotenuse is then 2.  You can easily do the sines/cosines/tangents etc using this triangle.  And for the 45-45-90 triangle you can use the π/4 relationship as well:

and then you can use the sin/cos/tan/cot/sec/csc functions with it...

Yeah, anyhow, I'm pretty excited about that hahaha!  Yes, I can see the humor in the fact that I'm liking this and I know not everyone likes math, but frankly it's pretty fun for I'm glad to understand this part now!