Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Milkweed is a weed that I allow to grow in my garden.  Seriously, it's purposeful!  (There are other weeds in the garden that are not purposefully allowed there!)

Why?  Is it for the monarchs?  Well, sure, I'm happy to provide food for those babies, but the kicker for me is...


Seriously, those flowers smell SO good!! They are my second favorite flower scent (after lilac). 

So--yes, they will remain in my garden and in my yard...and I will keep enjoying them!

(the seed pods are lots of fun, too--have enraptured my children for many years when they were littler--and even now are fun!) :)

Code for Teens -- my REVIEW

Homeschool families!  Are you giving your student opportunities to experience different aspects of the technology world? Are topics like networking, programming, and more a part of the subject offerings you are giving to your children?  If so, are you confident in your ability to teach these subjects or do you wish you were more tech-y?

My oldest daughter is a computer person :) That sounds weird, but what I mean is that she has been really driven to learn about computer "stuff" -- she has learned to program in different languages, has participated in cybersecurity competitions, and more.  Her drive has caused her to seek out and utilize different opportunities to teach herself.  Now that she's graduated, my youngest is entering high school and would like to learn a little coding.  This was the perfect time for this review product that we received, Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1), which is written by Jeremy Moritz and illustrated by his wife, Christine Moritz, and produced by Code for Teens.

Code for Teens

This book is an instructional book for teens to learn the popular language JavaScript. It is written in a conversational style that is actually fun for kids to read and follow along with. The beginning of the first chapter sets the students up with how to use the book, how to access the learning environment (in chrome), and explanations of how the code is shown in the book. They jump right in with the typical "Hello World!" activity --and it works! And sets them off on an adventure of learning.

As the book continues, students continue learning the syntax with wonderful explanations of each command and then lines of code to copy and implement.

My 13-year old daughter was the family member who used this book--and she really enjoyed it! She does not have a lot of background in coding, and she found the book very easy to use -- it even helped her with errors or helped her avoid some! (One neat thing in the book is they actually have the kids make particular errors so that they will know why/how to correct them.  The way the book is written is that it explains what you're doing step by step so that the students understand the "why" of the syntax that they are using.  
The conversational tone and the examples used are great for teens -- they're full of silly/funny content that really enhances the learning :) 

The content that the book covers is JavaScript.  It is very easy to follow--the coding is highlighted in gray and students can easily copy it.  It is very interactive--my daughter found that it is easiest to read the book right at the computer so that she could type as she was reading :) 

There are ten chapters, covering topics such as arrays, loops, strings, functions, comparisons, logic, and more, each one full of different projects and the final chapter helps students "combine concepts from every chapter to build a cool game."

At the end of each chapter there is a chapter quiz, a Key Concepts list to review, Drills (to practice typing code segments), and aggregate review--to ensure that you are retaining what you have learned from the beginning of the book through the chapter you are currently on.  Answers are in the back of the book, so students are not left wondering if they are correct or not.  

SO what did we think?  We thought that this book was a wonderful tool to teach JavaScript!  My daughter has only made it through the first few chapters, but she intends to finish the entire book (and hopes for more in the series!!)  I think I actually might give it a try as well, as I'd like to learn a bit of JavaScript myself :) It is a great way for students to learn independently--as long as they are of a 6th grade reading level (suggested by the author) they ought to be able to move right through the book successfully!  

If you have more questions about the book or would like to see a sample chapter, you can do so by visiting the Code for Teens website.  It's an enjoyable book, written in a fun way (with awesome illustrations!) and yields success pretty easily.  I do recommend this book!

If you'd like to read what others wrote after using this book, please click on the link below:

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

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

CPR/ First Aid for teens

I am so pleased that my kids were able to take certification courses for CPR and First Aid this year!

I really think it is so important that everyone, even teenagers, be prepared to help someone out in an emergency!  

So let me tell you the story of how this came about.  Last year I had looked into CPR/First Aid courses and how I could offer them to my kids and others.  The costs that we were quoted were very prohibitive (like nearly $1000 for 8 individuals to become certified!!) There is no way we could afford that, or afford to offer it to others in our community. I had contacted both the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.  I still don't understand why these courses are so expensive!!

So I gave up for awhile.  In September I had the Sheriff come to our 4-H Club for a career exploration presentation, and while he was there I asked him if he knew of anyone who offered courses for less $ than I had been quoted.  He said that he was thinking of having himself and some of his staff certified as instructors--and to contact him later in the year to see if they had.  I emailed him every couple of months and finally in June they had been trained to be instructors!  He coordinated with me to figure out two afternoons that we could offer the course and he offered the trainings for these students at a very low price.

I opened up the course to just teenagers, because there's something about a group of teens that they are able to concentrate/learn better without as much embarassment sometimes if parents aren't included :) We had nine students sign up and all nine of them passed all the requirements to receive their American Heart Association certifications in CPR (adult, child, and infant) and First Aid.

I am so thankful that we were able to do this and that now nine more individuals are prepared to help their communities in this way if needed!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Everyday Holy -- my REVIEW

This pretty little devotional boook by Melanie Shankle is a great addition to a Bible reading plan and will help you to turn your mind toward godly things and help you to think Biblically throughout the day when you encounter different situations.

The book is set up as 100 different readings, one for each day.  The reading begins with a verse or a passage of Scripture and then an accompanying narrative.

The daily reading is written in an easy-to-read, chatty type style.  The reader will feel like they are talking with a friend.  The Bible verses are explained and/or applied to daily life.  One I liked in particular is entitled, "What if you said yes?" and talks about the rich young ruler--what if he had said yes to Jesus? And the parallel in our own lives -- what if we said yes to what God asks of us?

The topics covered in this devotional are things that are applicable to most people in this day and age. They touch on our attitudes, our actions, our place in our families and communities, and more.

On a superficial level, it's a very nice-looking book. The cover is attractive (make sure you check out the cute chickadee on the back cover!), there is a bookmark ribbon, and the pages of the devotional are pretty and easy to read.

I would recommend this book for you to read every day or to give as a gift!  I'll be using this with my daily devotions for quite a few more days!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Math Refresher for Adults -- my REVIEW

One of the questions people often ask me about homeschooling high schoolers is, "What about math?" (usually said with a distasteful tone or look on their face!) Thankfully I enjoy math and have retained quite a bit since I took classes years ago. I have also had many opportunities for review as my kids went through all the math from algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2, and often needed more explanations/instructions/help -- so these math topics are on the top of my mind :) BUT for several other folks this might not be the case and you may be concerned about remembering certain math skills (that maybe your kids have already completed!) My husband has experienced this when the kids have asked him for help on math problems (when I was sick or in the shower or something and he happened to be present). Sometimes he knows that he has learned the particular procedure, but hasn't used it for quite some time. Though he is quite proficient in math, the skills that haven't been utilized in awhile look a little confusing.

As a matter of fact, my husband is also planning to attend graduate school in the near future and needs to take the GRE. Straight out of college, many of the topics (in math in particular) were things that he had used frequently and the solutions were obvious to him. HOWEVER -- he graduated from college in the 90's, which was a long time ago! And while he uses math in his everyday work, he doesn't use the full spectrum. He was happy to receive a copy of Math Refresher for Adults to remind him of some of these procedures and problem-solving skills. This helpful book, produced by Math Essentials  was easy to jump right into and get started with.

Math Refresher for Adults

Of course, everyone's math abilities and retention vary and this book is written to cover a large range of possible starting points--some of which may seem obvious or easy to many folks, but some might need a reminder or some tips for how to solve particular problems.  The book starts with the basic arithmetic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers and moves on to fractions, decimals, and more.  The topics are listed out in the index in the front, so if you know the topic that you need some education in, you can quickly jump to that page.

When you arrive at the page which you need to review, you will see that the top of the page a section of review exercises, which can help you to retain information you have already covered.  The next segment is called "Helpful Hints" -- this one gives you the topic and rules or hints for solving that particular type of problems.

 Following the hints section are two sample problems (S1 and S2) -- and several other problems of the same type.  The author suggests that you read the hints and try the two sample problems and check the answers (in the back) before continuing on to working the rest of the problems on that page.  At the end of the page is a "Problem Solving" section which gives you a word problem using the skills you have practiced to ensure that you can transfer the skills from the written-out math problem or equation to one written in word problem form.

If you need additional teaching on the topic, there are video tutorials which correspond to the topics covered in the book.  These are available on two websites listed in the front matter of the book.  The access passwords/codes to utilize these resources are posted in the front matter as well.

These tutorials move clearly, step-by-step, so that the learner can easily follow along.

 One thing that is noted by the author as well as the teacher on the video tutorials is the recommendation that whether you are doing the problems from the book or from the video that you write the problems down on a separate sheet of paper before working them.  I agree that writing the problem out often ensures that you pay more close attention to what you are doing, so I really appreciated them mentioning this in here.

Answers to each of the problems in the book are listed in the back of the book, so you are always able to know if you are performing the operations correctly or not.

Included in the back of the book is a nice glossary which can be used for a quick and easy answer (for instance, do you remember off the top of your head what the commutative properties are?) Also included are tables of important symbols, multiplication tables, tables of common prime numbers, table of squares and square roots, and fractional/decimal equivalents.

I'd also like to give you an idea of the breadth of topics which are covered in this book.  From the index in front, the major topics are whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents, geometry, integers, charts and graphs, word problems, and pre-algebra and algebra.  Additional assistance in the form of video tutorials are available for each of the topics covered.
The tutorials are step-by-step and easy to follow.
So what did I think?  The book is easy to use, topics are easy to find.  The videos are very helpful, once you find them :) You have to search a little within the sites to find the proper one you need, but once you find the video you need it is very helpful.

As far as my husband's using it to review/help prepare for the GRE, it is definitely helpful for him!  It certainly does not cover everythng he needs to be proficient in for the GRE, but it's a great way for him to familiarize himself with the more elementary concepts before he studies the higher math topics he will need to use.

If you are a homeschool parent and are a little unsure about different math topics which your student is learning, this book would be a good resource for you to brush up on those skills!

Math Essentials

The purpose of Math Refresher for Adults is REVIEW, not straight teaching on how to do each concept.  If you flip through the book you might wonder why the "Helpful Hints" teaching-type section is so short--it's not intended to be a comprehensive textbook, but rather to remind you how to use skills you have learned in the past.  The video tutorials can take you further and help to teach you more.

I feel like the book can help you with basic arithmetic all the way up through elementary algebra courses.  The algebra and geometry is quite basic, so don't expect to find the level that you will probably need to assist your student throughout full high school algebra 1 and 2 and geometry.  It WILL, however, give you a great foundation in the basics of math subjects.

To read about how other folks used this book -- and how they liked it, please click on the link below:

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Hard-boiled eggs -- cooking and peeling (even fresh ones!!)

We have chickens, laying hens -- about 10 of them.  This time of year (summertime) we have a lot of eggs!  I have posted before on this blog about egg recipes, and now I'm going to talk to you about hard-boiled eggs!

If you've had fresh-from-the-coop eggs before, you know that hard boiling them and peeling them can be kind of difficult to do in a "pretty" way -- the shells are hard to peel and don't leave a nice smooth white usually.

I won't show you a picture of my ugly boiled eggs or ugly deviled eggs or anything :)

BUT I will share my secrets with you!

First of all-- the cooking/hard-boiling of the eggs.  Instead of boiling them, I steam the eggs -- in a steamer basket in my saucepan for about 8 minutes or so.  After that, I run cold water over them until they're cool to the touch.

Then comes the peeling:  I read this method online years and years ago and it really works like magic!

Step 1:  place hard cooked egg into a pint sized canning jar

Step 2: put a little water into the jar (LITTLE -- like 1/2 tsp or so)

Step 3: Put a lid on the jar

Step 4:  Shake the jar for a few seconds (really, just a few!)

Step 5:  take the cover off -- you can see how the shell is cracked and separating!

Step 6:  Voila!  So easy and nice-looking!  Now to make the recipe... :) :) 

Hope these ideas are helpful to someone else!! 

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Geotags and the privacy of your photos and family

Do you know what geotags are?  Many devices that we use to take pictures with also have a built in function to label the picture with the location in which it was taken, using latitude and longitude. We don't see those labels, but they are embedded into the picture -- and someone wanting to invade your privacy could uncover those geotags and know where you (or your child) or etc are located.  Maybe that doesn't seem like too big of a deal to you, but do you really want people you don't know and who might have an ulterior or criminal motive to have access to where you are? I sure don't.

So what are we to do about these geotags?  If you take pictures with your phone or other device and are unsure if you have privacy settings already in place to eliminate those tags, you can check it out using a website called  Basically just type in and you will see a site which you can upload a photo to and it'll tell you where it was taken, along with other information such as what device took the picture and etc (it it's available within the picture.)

Here's an example!
So here's the top portion of the landing page.  You can simply drag a photo into the gray block
and the data held within the photo is shown below the block.

Hopefully your results will not have a location listed,
 though they may tell something about you
(such as what device you used to take the picture)

As you probably guessed, this is what you do NOT want to see--the location where your picture was taken hidden within the picture.

So what do you do if you find that your pictures are tagged already?  First of all, I'd google how to turn the tags off on your device.  You can also look online for how to remove the locations from the photos on your phone as well as on different applications (such as websites and etc.)  Some websites already remove the location info when you upload them (I think facebook does) but others don't.  I know some people aren't concerned about the locations on their pictures, but I am, and I just want to let you know that it exists and that you might really want to think about your policy on this privacy issue.  

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up