Thursday, September 30, 2010

A God Day

A gentle reminder that spring wasn't too long ago


I woke up early this morning to find an e-mail from Carlee's mama. In a matter of seconds, I went from rubbing my eyes awake to instantly crying. And crying.

Here's part of what Carlee's mama said:

Dear friends,

Today I was reminded of a Bible verse I had been praying for Carlee last spring; it's from Dueteronomy 33:26-27:

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!'

I again started praying that verse and asking God to destroy any cancer in Carlee and to be her refuge; to hold her up with His everlasting arms. Yesterday they repeated the CT scan, and this time were able to inject the high pressure dye. This afternoon she met with her oncologist, and I just received a call from her and she said her doctor can find NO SIGN OF CANCER IN HER BONES OR IN HER BRAIN!!! Thank you LORD!! We just cried and laughed together, praising our Creator for His mercy and love. And I thank Him for all of you who have been praying and encouraging us. She still has a lot of tests and appointments in the next couple of days, one being a liver MRI, trying to figure out why she's having these strange symptoms. But her doctor said he's not expecting to find anything on it, and as far as he's concerned, she's cancer free! What wonderful words to hear!!

Isn't that the most wonderful news? We are giving thanks and praising the Lord!

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. Psalm 31:19

Carlee's sister, Dani, has a beautiful blog we love reading. It's called The Invisible Realities and it's over there on the right margin too. She has a wonderful update on Carlee today as well. You can read her words here. If you are reading this after today, Dani's post is dated September 30th.

My dear Aunt Elle greeted me yesterday with a post which read, "A God morning to you too!" Later when she re-read it, she thought it was a mistake. I personally thought it was a wonderful greeting and it gave me something to ponder upon.

And this morning, well, it was a God morning too!

A God day to all of my friends,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Beauty of Faded Roses

Rachel took these gorgeous pictures a couple of weeks ago.

There is beauty at the end of things, I think.

A faded rose still has enough beauty to attract a sphinx moth.

The delicate petals of this faded rose are especially beautiful at the final moment of the day's last drop of sunshine.

And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:5

Enjoy today...down to the very last drop of sunshine!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

She's My Girl

Jesse puppy doesn't feel too well, poor girl

Nine years ago this past September 1st, Mr. Wonderful and I had a moment where we both, at the same exact time, suffered from a brain cloud (not to be confused with cob webs in the head syndrome). We decided to surprise the kids (who were just 3 and 5 at the time) with a brand spanking new puppy. I found an ad in the paper. Well, you know how it goes.

We strapped the kids in the car and drove about an hour to the place where we would find chocolate and yellow lab puppies. We wanted a little girl puppy simply because we had way too many trees in our yard. How's that for a reason! If you need a minute to think about that, I understand. Anyway, wouldn't you know it, they only had one girl puppy left. I was so caught-up in the moment of watching the kids playing with all the puppies, it didn't occur to me to really study the puppy we were about to take home. She was the one that was tormenting all the other puppies! Mr. Wonderful likes to remind me of this from time to time.

We were completely unprepared to have a puppy. I mean, we had all the necessary things you need to take care of one, but we really didn't know exactly what we were getting into especially with two little kiddos at home. You know how puppies are. They are so soft and fuzzy and smell wonderful and sleep so sweetly. But Wham! The next thing you know, they're shedding and gangly and tearing up the landscaping and leaving burn marks on Mr. Wonderful's gorgeous green Better Homes and Gardens lawn. And no, that wasn't a problem this year, was it?

It took our wild puppy dog about 5 years before she really started chilling out. If she had been a human, I'm certain she would have been diagnosed with ADHD. I don't mean to make her sound bad, but she was hyper...all the time.

The first Christmas, while we were getting ready to put up the Christmas tree, we had moved the furniture around and kept her out of the family room for fear she'd get stepped on. If she put her foot on the carpet, we just shooed her back into the kitchen. Do you know, almost nine years later, she has never put her foot in that room again. Isn't that amazing? It has certainly helped with keeping dog hair off the furniture!

We have found her to be so incredibly smart and wonderful. She's 81 years old in dog years. She's mellowed out and is like an old soul. She goes wherever I go, but that's always been the case. I feed her. She knows who's boss!

The problem we've had with her since she was less than a year old is her severe allergies. Chronic ear infections, skin rashes, and food allergies. I have done everything imaginable for this poor dog. Listen, I've done everything! She's not allowed people food and absolutely no doggie treats. No raw hides. No bones. Can you even imagine? Her dog food is a specialty dog food that contains only four ingredients. You'd think that would make it cheap. Nope. And still, she suffers. Come July, the poor girl is miserable.

The vet keeps telling me she's allergic to something. It might be grass. Well, we've got a little problem then, don't we now?

I just talked to the vet...again. I spent a small fortune last year trying to keep her problems under control. Well, they came back with a vengeance again and I had her back to the vet in the beginning of August. One cortisone shot and two antibiotics later, she's still suffering. I'm going to try something else to see if I can get her problems under control. The vet is convinced that with the weather change, she'll be over all this soon. I don't think so. Last year, it took me until January.

I do love her so much. The kids adore her and she's a part of our family. Is she like our child? Nope. She is a dog. But she knows when my feet just touch the floor when I get up early in the morning and she waits, without exception, at the bottom of the stairs. When she wants some lovin' from me, she just sits and looks at me patiently. She's my girl.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Please Pray for Carlee

Would you please pray for our dearly loved friend, Carlee, and her family? You can read her story here and most recent update, here. You will also see that I have Carlee's blog as one of my favorites (Hobbitsville Blog) over there in the right hand margin.

In the words of Elisabeth Elliot, "It is for this we have Jesus."

We love you, Carlee. And we're praying for you.

Cob Webs In My Head

Autumn is in full, not so much!

Man! Man! I don't know what the deal is, but I just can't seem to get a grip...on anything! I mean, I have 24 hours in a day just like everyone else, right? I can't figure out where my days are going. Maybe I'm experiencing a space-time continuum problem. Yeah, sure. I just stuck that in there to make some one's head spin. I'm certain I'm not smart enough to have this particular problem. I only wish!

I mean, I get up about 5 every morning. I don't watch any TV except the occasional movie in the evening. I hardly ever talk on the phone. As you know, I haven't been blogging. I could go on and on with all the things I'm not doing. I don't know. I look around and feel like I could spend a bit of time this week just cleaning cob webs that manage to reveal themselves when the light hits them just right. Like the long one hanging right above my head at this very moment. Lovely. Apparently, I've got the wrong job. If I were a spider, at least I'd have something to show for my work.

I did manage to go to the eye doctor's today. I needed to get an updated prescription for contacts since I basically ran out last week! Blah. I'm legally blind, so this was one thing I couldn't put off another second. I went to a new doctor. I prayed before going. I don't know what it is about me and doctors. They love to pick on me for some reason. You know, the old if anything can go wrong, it'll go wrong with me thing? I have been terrified at the thought of having my eyes corrected through surgery (although my life would be so much easier without contacts). I would be the one patient in the history of the world where the laser hiccups at just the right moment and blows-up my eyeball! Yea, that would be me. I am happy to report that all went well with my eye exam and I'm trying out new contacts. New as in they were only put on the market a week ago. So far, so good! The doctor was so nice and friendly and helpful and, well, nice. I love it when that happens and thanked the Lord for it.

I don't know if you ever check out some of my favorite blogs. They're over there to the right. The Baker's Dozen is one of my favorites because Renee always brings a smile to my face. Honestly, I don't know how she does it. The woman, who I might add is in her early 30's, has fourteen, yes, fourteen, children. And her blog is always posted in the morning. I'm having a hard time getting mine posted at all, let alone in the morning! Maybe I need to have another dozen children. Um, well, that ain't gonna happen! Renee, you're my blogger hero.

Oh, we had to turn on the furnace this morning. That's a tell-tale sign that summer is officially over. Rachel, poor girl, came running downstairs to tell us she thought something in her room was burning. But all is well. It was just dust being burned off the heater elements. Or cob webs. Probably.

You know, come to think of it, I probably have cob webs in my head. That's it! I just need a good dusting. I wonder if one of those Swiffer duster things will work? I'll let you know.

P.S. Don't you think Cob Webs In My Head could be a hit song?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press TOS Product Review

I begin with a very telling story I read in our local newspaper over the weekend. Please keep in mind that we live in the country. We are far removed from a big city and big city life.

The title of the article is, "Mom deplores explicit school assignment." The article sadly gives the details of a mother who appears before the school board to protest a book her high school daughter was required to read for a class entitled, "Reading for Pleasure." Let me just say the book is a 1993 award-winning novel. Award winning. The mother implores the school board and asks, "Why are we introducing this material into our local schools?" With a trembling voice, she went on to say that adult-oriented material was unacceptable in a high school and should not be required reading. The school board said they would make sure the superintendent would look into the choice. My heart breaks for this mother. Award winning means very little today.

What we read matters and what we take into our minds is a major factor in forming our ideas and character. For many reasons, I am so very thankful for the privilege of homeschooling my children. I thank God for the wonderful selection of quality literature my children have been exposed to since they were but small children.

For more information on the benefits of using quality books, go here.

Salem Ridge Press is a publishing company established in 2005 by Daniel Mills. Salem Ridge Press is dedicated to bringing back the very best children's books of the 1800's and early 1900's for a new generation of readers. Daniel is a homeschooling graduate who loves the Lord and desires to serve Him and other people, especially other homeschooling families, through his business.

In a recent newsletter, Daniel said, "I feel very responsible for the content of books that we republish. If I am going to bring a book back into print, I want to be able to stand behind it with no reservations. Very early on we realized that we were going to have to decide carefully what was appropriate in our books and what was not... I believe that when we start with wholesome, exciting and well-written books and then carefully review the contents, we are left with some of the absolutely best books that are available today."

As stated on their website, the underlying philosophy of Salem Ridge Press is found in the Bible: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8)."

As a mother who is always looking for quality literature for her family, I know I can purchase any title from Salem Ridge Press and not give a thought about content. I will never have to hesitate before sending my kids off with a book I haven't read first. I know it will be of the highest quality and reach the standards we have in place for books found in our family library.

For this review, Salem Ridge Press provided me with three titles. They are as follows:

Dearer Than Life
A Story of the Times of Wycliffe
by Emma Leslie

Read Chapter One here
Story Setting: England in 1366 - 1384 A.D.
Notable People and Events: Wycliffe, Richard II, English Translation of the Bible
Originally published in 1885; 255 pages; For Ages 12 – Adult

Soft Cover: $14.95; Hard Cover: $24.95

The Captives
Or, Escape From the Druid Council by Emma Leslie

Read Chapter One here
Story Setting: Roman England in 66 - 67 A.D.
Notable People and Events: Druids, Roman Centurions
Originally published in 1873; 169 pages; For Ages 12 – Adult

Soft Cover: $12.95; Hard Cover: $22.95

These titles came to us at an absolutely perfect time! We are studying church history this year for our literature, history, and theology class. I absolutely loved these books and know my kids will too. I read out loud to Rachel the first few pages of The Captives and, being familiar with Druids, her eyes got big and she asks in a very concerned voice, "What happens?" Captivating from the very first pages!

In The Captives, for example, I was intrigued when I read that two of the minor characters are based on a quote from Paul in his second letter to Timothy which reads:

Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. II Timothy 4:21

The Historical Notes of this book go on to say: Scholars, including Archbishop James Usshur, author of The Annals of the World in the 17th century, have associated the Claudia listed in II Timothy with Claudia Rufina, a British princess in the first century who was the wife of Roman centurion Aulus Pudens. It is not known for sure if this is the case.

It is also important to note that titles from the 1800's and early 1900's didn't dumb-down their language in order to appeal to their readership. I suppose it's because they didn't need to! The language used throughout these books is beautiful and lends to extending the vocabulary of the reader. Words found but not commonly used in our culture today are provided with a short definition at the bottom of the pages of each book.

For example:

Obeisance: bow
Marmots: groundhogs; used as an insult
Prowess: exceptional bravery or skill
Covert: covering or hiding-place
Penates: general household gods
Precincts: a clearly defined area

Talk about a fabulous way to introduce your children to words that otherwise might remain a mystery...this is it!

For more information on why church history is so important, go here.

The Sign Above the Door by William W. Canfield

Read Chapter One here
Story Setting: Egypt/The First Passover ~ 1500 B.C.
Originally published in 1912; 307 pages; For Ages 12 – Adult

Soft Cover: $14.95

I will end by saying that having purchased hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of classic literature over the years, I highly--highly recommend Salem Ridge Press. Their quality books (and very helpful website) are an indication of the extensive amount of time and personal effort and care they put into republishing every single title.

Well done. Very well done!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bookmark in a Book

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme 1883

This painting is on the cover of a book the kids and I are currently reading for literature, history and theology. The book is entitled Eusebius The Church History by Paul L. Maier. Whereby Herodatus is considered the father of history, Eusebius of Caesarea (c. A.D. 260-339) is considered the father of church history. We're only three chapters in, but I must say it is an amazing piece of literature which traces the rise of Christianity during its crucial first three centuries from Christ to Constantine. I will have a quote from it tomorrow, Lord willing.

This post is not to talk about the book necessarily, but to tell a story I was reminded of when I noticed the bookmark being used within its pages. There's nothing fancy about the bookmark itself. It's a thin piece of paper which appears to be hand-laminated. Adorned with a monarch butterfly perched on what looks like Queen Ann's Lace, here are the words on the front of the bookmark:

Keep thy heart
with all
for out of it
are the issues
of life.
Proverbs 4:23

And on the back, these words:

Feel glum?
Keep mum.

Don't grumble.
Be humble.

Trials cling?
Just sing.

Can't sing?
Just cling.

Don't fear.
God's near.

Money goes.
He knows.

Honor left.
Not bereft.

Don't rust.
Work! Trust!

Several years ago we decided as a family to head out to a very fancy restaurant for dinner. The local Wendy's. Not wanting to eat on the run, we decided to go inside so we could enjoy dinner together. Providence perhaps?

At least you've got an image in your mind's eye, right?

Just across from us were seated an old man and an old woman. If memory serves me correctly, they came into the restaurant just after us. After they sat down with their bag of fast food, they bowed their heads and prayed.

I don't think we were lingering on purpose, but they finished their meal before we did. Then we saw them start walking around together from table to table talking to people and handing them something. When they came to our table, the old man's face beamed with joy and he gave a word of blessing (I don't remember the words exactly, but it was something like, "God loves you and cares for you!"), and handed us the bookmark. We started talking with one another and eventually walked out together. They were driving an old car, weighed down with a clothes rack across the back seat and filled with papers and boxes. They were on their way somewhere.

I had forgotten this act of kindness until I pulled out the bookmark this afternoon--then the story came right back into my memory. An act of kindness from a couple in the late evening hours of their lives, still reaching out to share the love of Christ.

Perhaps we will meet again someday. Perhaps!

You know, I needed my heart to hear these words today. They have proven to be a wonderful reminder to me to sing and cling and work and trust!

Standing on the promises of God,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Teri's "That's Italian" Chicken

That's Amore!

My dear friend, Teri, introduced our family to this yummy recipe a couple of years ago. We loved it then and we still love it today. Actually, Rachel is making it for dinner tonight! Besides having great flavor, this is a super easy recipe that can be made quickly.

When Teri made it for dinner, she used IQF chicken tenders. And she didn't even thaw them. She just popped them in the skillet. I have made this recipe the same way, but I probably use it more often with fresh chicken breasts (whenever they're on sale). To save a little bit of time on the cooking end, I place the chicken breast inside a Ziploc bag and use a meat mallet to flatten out the meat until it's about the thickness of a pencil. This creates a larger cooking surface and an opportunity for the Italian flavor to be well represented in every bite. Oh, yum!

Teri's "That's Italian" Chicken

What you will need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds), flattened
1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing*

Place a large non-stick skillet on high heat; pour just enough Italian dressing in the bottom of the skillet to cover the bottom. Place chicken breasts in the skillet and then pour additional Italian dressing on top of each piece of chicken, just enough to coat the top of the meat. After the Italian dressing comes to a boil, turn heat down to medium and check the underside of the chicken to see if it's caramelizing and turning brown (about five minutes). Carefully turn each piece of meat over and continue to cook until the other side is caramelized (3 to 5 minutes).

If you use whole chicken breasts that have not been flattened, follow the same instructions except pour enough Italian dressing in the skillet so it comes up the side of the meat about half way. It will take quite a bit longer to cook this way. Regardless, don't place a lid on the skillet. Evaporating the Italian dressing is what gives the meat that wonderful flavor. Juices should run clear when thoroughly cooked.

*Note: We often use Good Seasons Italian Dressing packets instead of bottled Italian dressing. It allows us to cut down on the amount of oil that's used in the dressing.


P.S. Teri, I don't know what you originally called this recipe, but I had to give it some kind of name other than "Teri's Chicken." If you have something else in mind, you just let me know!

Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power TOS Product Review

Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power works on the principle of mnemonics. A mnemonic is a device that helps you remember something by associating what you are trying to remember with something you already know. An example given by the publisher likens it to "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety-two." Other examples might include rhymes, songs, and pictures.

I remember a number of years ago when my children came home from Sunday school and were learning all the names of the books of the Old Testament. They did this by singing a simple song with a very upbeat tempo. To this day, they have never forgotten the names of the books of the Old Testament. From time to time, I find myself singing the song in my head trying to figure out where I can find the book of Hosea!

This is the same premise Vocabulary Cartoons makes except instead of singing a song, they are linking together a rhyming word associated with a humorous cartoon.

Here's an example:

Capacious (roomy, able to hold much)
Link Word: Cap Spacious
A spacious cap is capacious.

You really need to see the cartoons in order to make the connection.

Here's another one:

Cower (to cringe in fear; to shrink away)
Link Word: Cow
Bessie, the cowering cow, never could stand the sight of her own milk.

Each page in the book contains five elements: the main word followed by the phonetic pronunciation, part of speech, and a definition, the link word, the caption (or linking sentence), a funny cartoon, and several examples of the word used in a sample sentence. In addition, this book is divided-up into sections of ten words each, followed by a word match and a fill-in-the-blanks quiz.

Vocabulary Cartoons has sold over one million copies nationwide and is currently being used in over 5,000 schools across the country. They claim that school tests have proven that students learn 72% more words with 90% retention. In addition, Vocabulary Cartoons makes learning vocabulary fun.

I'm not sure if it's because my children have usually learned new words in the context of reading classic literature, but this method of learning just did not appeal to them nor me. Sorry about that. We found it difficult to understand why we would study a picture and a sentence rather than just study and memorize the word and its real definition. But then, that's the way we've always done it...Old School. Unfortunately, in this case, Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power's method of learning just did not click with us.

Obviously, thousands of people have found Vocabulary Cartoons to be of great help, especially while trying to learn hundreds of SAT words. One really can't argue with the numbers!

For additional information, on Vocabulary Cartoons, go here.

Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power is 347 pages long, is geared primarily for 7th through 12th grade students (although it can be used by anyone wishing to build a stronger vocabulary), and sells for $12.95 (a very reasonable price for such an extensive book that covers 290 words).

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

First Day of School 2005

Take time to linger in your memories,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Now don't go and peek, OK? Just look at this first picture and see if you can find him. We'll call him Waldo.

So, where's Waldo?

It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever decide to write a book.

I know, maybe the best thing for me to do is go and take a nap. Yep. That's what I need. This getting back on schedule thing has me just plain tuckered out!

Did you find him? Waldo?

Click here while you're looking...

Ready? Here he is!

Here's Waldo...hidden in plain sight!

Isn't this a marvelous wonder of God's creation? I am always amazed. Always.

Waldo stayed all snug in this little spot the entire day. I don't even know how I spotted him except the sun was shining through the canopy of trees in the back. It was like a little spotlight of sunshine pointed him out just for my wonder and amazement. I love it when that happens!

I am thankful for the simple things in life. It's a great reminder to behold how our Father in Heaven takes care of these tiny creatures. And so he takes care of me. And you.

Thankful for the Simple Things,

P.S. Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School

Yes, we are four days past our regular start date, but that's one of the great things about home schooling. I get to make decisions that are best for me and my family. In this case, it was best for me. And so our 2010 - 2011 school year begins!

Fall has arrived in the sky and you can smell it in the air

Caleb is holding-up the famous maple tree. Yes, that's lichen. This photo also shows the severe lack of rain we've had and the severe hot weather we endured all summer. I don't think any of our first day of school photos have ever had, um, such a lovely color in the background.

Master Caleb, 14

Miss Rachel, 12

The side-by-side pose we've taken every year since the beginning

They haven't changed too much...whaaa!

Mr. Wonderful was standing behind me making faces...or making fun of me. I don't know which. I know. I know. He would never stand behind my back and make fun of me! Mmmm hmmm.

Anyway, I'm so glad to be back on a regular schedule. I don't know why it's so easy to get out of sorts during the summer...I suppose from staying up too late and sleeping in too much. I do enjoy those lazy hazy summer days, but it really does get old after a while.

School is now in session!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

He Is Still On the Throne

September 11, 2001

Taken from the Christmas letter I wrote to family and friends in 2001...

Something to ponder in light of the events that took place in our Country:

From USA Today (September 14): The crews assigned to the recovery effort after the September 11th attack on the Pentagon had an awful job to do. Working in 120-degree heat, they were making their way through the wreckage left behind when terrorists flew Flight 757 into the Pentagon. They didn't find any survivors. They did find a mass of concrete and metal debris; the metal too hot to touch. They did, however, find a sign of hope as they looked into that black chasm inside. On a second floor, right next to where the jet sheared off a section of the building, was an undisturbed stool. And on it was a thick, open book - a Bible. It wasn't burned. Neither was anything around it or on the two floors above it. The leader of the recovery team was quoted as saying, "I'm not as religious as some, but that would have me thinking. I just can't explain it."

Jesus said in Luke 21:33, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away." And in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We should never forget no matter what happens around us that He is still on the Throne.

And He is still on the Throne,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Camp Fun!

The kids each created their own video montage using their favorite camp photos. I was amazed at their ability to create the video, choose the background music (or in Caleb's case, create it), and have everything turn out, well, amazing!

So, without further ado, here's 22 days of camp all rolled-up into a few short minutes. What fun!

Camp Tapawingo 2010

Deerfoot Lodge 2010

God Bless Camp Tapawingo and Deerfoot Lodge. We love you and thank God for your ministries!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Math Tutor DVD TOS Product Review

I recently received in the mail two DVDs from Math Tutor DVD. The name of the company perfectly describes what they do...tutor math. It looks like most DVDs come with a similar warning:


Jason Gibson, the instructor of the entire line of DVDs is also the mastermind behind the company and this extensive DVD offering. He has earned a BS in Electrical Engineering, a Masters in Electrical Engineering, and a Masters in Physics. Check out the Math Tutor Story here.

I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive product line Math Tutor DVD provides. From Basic Math to Algebra, Geometry, Trig, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Differential Equations, Physics and Probability & Statics. They even provide Calculator Tutor DVDs. All of the DVDs can be viewed on DVD or on-line. In addition, the website has a link entitled Mental Math Secrets hosting free video podcasts covering a number of math tricks to mentally calculate everyday math. I thought these were well done and very helpful. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

The first DVD we used was:

The Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1
5 Hour Video Tutorial
Price: $26.99

This 2 DVD set covers:
  • Real Numbers
  • The Number Line
  • Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To
  • Absolute Value and Adding Integers
  • Sbtracting Integers
  • Multiplying Integers
  • Dividing Integers
  • Powers and Exponents
  • Order of Operations
I asked each of my kids to choose an area of interest. While they have already completed Pre-Algebra, I knew a little bit of review and perhaps some new insight might be helpful to them. They could be the judge.

Rachel chose Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To. I knew this was something she was very familiar with, but she chose this topic to see if she could learn how to apply the symbols in a more meaningful way.

When the kids were little, I remember quite well how the math curriculum we used addressed the greater than symbol. They likened it to an alligator ...

100 >:^,^^^,^ ~ 82

... eating its lunch. So, does the alligator eat the bigger number or the smaller number? You might need to envision an alligator in order to find out. Anyway, you can see why this might confuse a 7 year old. Jason did a great job explaining that the greater than symbol always, always points to the smaller number.

100 > 82

See, no alligator needed. Jason's repetition of the rule helps it stick.

This particular topic was 15 minutes in length. Rachel thought Jason was very easy to listen to and understand. During the video, he positions himself in front of a white board and is constantly writing down examples for explanation. His handwriting is very clear and understandable as well. Rachel learned something and thought she could watch other topics on this set of DVDs without any problem. For her, the information was a little over done (because she's already familiar with it), but for someone who is new to Pre-Algebra, she thought the repetition would be very helpful.

Caleb chose Order of Operation. Again, being familiar with this topic, the math curriculum we have used explained this in a different way. Jason's introduction and explanation helped reinforce the rules. Caleb agreed with Rachel in that Jason is easy to listen to, easy to watch, and easy to understand. He found watching this topic helpful, but thought it was a little too long. Again, Caleb is familiar with the subject matter, but thought someone new or struggling with this topic would find it to be very helpful.

Jason does not come across as someone who has a Masters Degree in Physics. Let me explain what I mean by that. My mind allows me to think that someone this smart would come across as dry and scholarly. But he doesn't. Jason is engaging and easy to listen to. My kids enjoyed watching and listening to him. Jason doesn't feel the need to be animated and doesn't try to be silly. So often we see people trying to be goofy in order to reach this age group. I'm glad Jason keeps everything on the level. Thanks, Jason!

If I were to make one comment about the DVDs, it would be the inability to know just how much time you need to commit to a particular topic. It would be very helpful to me, as the teacher, and to the kids, as students, to know what we're in for. 36 minutes into Order of Operations, Caleb turned it off. It may have only had another 4 minutes. I don't know. It may have had another 30 minutes. I don't know. Having the duration of the topic available either on the DVD while it's playing or on the DVD case would be very helpful for planning purposes.

Here's a little clip from MathTutor on YouTube

The second DVD I reviewed was:

The Texas Instruments TI-83 / TI-84 Calculator Tutor
8 Hour Video Tutorial
Price: $26.99

Let me just say I am speaking as someone who cannot figure out how to set the time on a DVD player. I can guarantee that I need a tutorial for a calculator that looks like this ...

This 3 DVD set is 8 hours long. Is it any wonder I need a tutorial! There are 37 sections which are guaranteed to help you unlock the full potential of your TI Calculator. I understand this calculator will do everything you need except make your cup of coffee in the morning. Well, having to choose between the great frustrations of reading a little booklet that came with the calculator with print smaller than the size of this text or watching this Math Tutor DVD video, I'd choose the Math Tutor DVD every time!

Math Tutor DVDs are the #1 Rated Math and Physics Tutorial DVDs. All DVDs are guaranteed to raise grades or your money back.

Here's the scoop on the company and their products:

Visit Math Tutor DVD or call 877-MATH-DVD for additional information.

The DVDs I reviewed (Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1 and TI-83 / TI-84 Calculator Tutor) were $26.99 each. You can find out pricing on many of their other DVDs by going to their website. In addition, Math Tutor has recently made all DVDs available to watch on-line 24/7 for a monthly fee of $19.95.

So, do you know how to graph statistical scatter plots? I do. Thanks to Math Tutor DVD!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Day at the Lake

Yesterday was a wonderful day spent with family. It's the last big family get together while the weather is still warm. The kids always love hanging out together regardless of what they are doing. Besides lots of fabulous food prepared by all the girls in the family, Labor Day usually involves fishing at the lake.

Enjoy the end of summer!

Caleb setting sail (well, you know what I mean!)

Caleb with his six-year-old cousin, Braden, who is a very patient fisherman

Rachel getting ready to tackle some fish

Rachel caught three fish, three different times, and all three fish got away. Each time, we all got excited as she was reeling it in only to share in her disappointment as it jumped back in the lake. We finally realized the hook on her line was just too small for the size of these bass. Uncle Gary helped change the hook, so here she is trying once again.

In a matter of two minutes, she reeled in this nice catch.

And, no, I do not take the fish home and clean them and cook them and eat them.

Been there. Done that.

When my kids decide they want to eat fish, we'll try it again. Did I mention the last time we tried taking the catch home for dinner, poor Rachel cried when we started to cut off their heads.

For now, we'll just stick to kissing them goodbye (yes, it's a tradition) and throwing them back in the lake!

Happy Tuesday, Friends!