Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew: Galaxy of Education

Our next stop on our TOS Homeschool Crew Voyage is with the fine people at Galaxy of Education. As Crew Mates we were given free access to their Math Galaxy Programs and E-books in exchange for our honest opinions.

If you have followed my voyage for any amount of time, you know that math is not my favorite subject. So anytime I stumble across a program or tool that will help me teach my children math skills, this intrigues me. Will it indeed be a program that will help us?

First, let's look at what they have available. There are several Java-based programs covering the topics of;

~Math Galaxy Whole Numbers Fun
~Math Galaxy Word Problems Fun
~Math Galaxy Fractions Fun
~Math Galaxy Decimals, Proportions and Percents Fun
~Math Galaxy Pre-Algebra Fun
~Math Galaxy Algebra Fun

There is also something available called The Riddler Worksheet Generator. It is available in the following titles;

~Whole Numbers
~Decimal Proportions Percents

Math Galaxy also offers several E-books they call Riddles Books. The are av

~Fraction Riddles E-book
~Algebra Riddles E-book
~Whole Numbers Riddles E-book
~Decimal Riddles E-book

I have seen pros and cons with these programs. The PROS: my son enjoyed using them! That is half the battle right there, isn't it? He would sit down and work about 45 minutes on his math. Secondly, it really was helping him The way the program works is when you click into a subject, say... 'Area' off the screen, that is up at the top in the corner,yYou are then taken to a screen that gives you a couple of options. One of those options is 'review'. When you click on that area, it is a tutorial. Your child will click through a series of screens learning the skill he will be using in that section. Once he completes that he can move onto the doing the practice problems. You can choose to have them do 'step by step' or 'final answer only'. We always chose 'step by step'. These programs have helped to move him along quicker than he was working through his math previously. That is a plus!

Now, what are the con's? First, your child needs to be a reader! If you have a struggling reader, then this program is not going to be a good fit. They have to read through the tutorials and problems. We have several dyslexics in my home, so this was an issue for some of my children. The second would be that, when the child does his work he earns robots, that allow him to play some games that are included with the program. Which is a great incentive. However, you must be aware that the robots do not carry over for future use. So you need to work that reward time, into the time you have allowed them to use Math Galaxy. And the final con, is that it is not a tool that you can use, and see really how your children are doing. There are no reports offered to show they have mastered a skill, or even what kinds of problems they have been doing. Having this feature would really enhance this product.

However, even with the cons that I listed, I really did like this program. We learned how to work the program to best serve our family and it really has been a blessing.

You can order any of the Java Based Programs and the Riddlers Worksheet Generators for $29.95 each. The E-books are available for $14.95. You can order all of these products by visiting Math Galaxy.

Please take a moment to cruise on over to the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about these products.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to Keep Your Homeschool Fires Burning

As homeschoolers we can easily hit homeschool burnout. And many times, this is the times of year that we do that. Are our children learning enough? How do you handle this problem or that. Whether you have a child that is gifted, or has special needs, or perhaps you just don't know how to teach math, or Algebra.. Where can you find help on all of these fronts, as well as, never forgetting that our focus should be on Jesus Christ?

I have often said that you should surround yourself with homeschooling books and literature. However, there is a magazine publication, that you find everything from devotionals, how to's, product reviews and unit studies and more. And that is The Old Schoolhouse magazine.

I have been a subscriber of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine(TOS) since 2005. It has been my favorite homeschool publication, since that time. I have subscribed to many publications over the years, and TOS is by far is my favorite.

I have saved all of my issues of TOS since 2005, and I have referred to them over and over. That is because this magazine is not simply a magazine you thumb through while sipping an iced tea. It is like getting a homeschool conference in a magazine.

Not only is it topical as it comes in, it is a reference worthy of the shelf space you will use to store it on!

If you can only afford to invest in one homeschool resource, I truly feel that your homeschool will benefit the most from a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

A bit of fine print.. I have served on the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewing homeschool products since the summer of 2008. No one has asked me to write this editorial, nor am I being compensated for what is contained herein. This is simply my effort to share what I feel is the best homeschool resource currently available!

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Juicing My Way to Health!!!

Well, I have been battling with my health for some time. First was the IBS. You can see my post about it here.

I finally got my system in check, and I was feeling better but still horrible. When I went to the doctor, I discovered that I was severely anemic. I have always run a little anemic, at least since I had kids. So I was not at all surprised. And it is something that seems to run in my family.

Now, when I tell you I was anemic, I mean severely anemic.. I was a 5.0 and normal is between 12 and 16.

In the hopes of getting healthier at a faster rate than what the doctor estimated, which was months. I called a friend who is very wise in the area of health.

She gave me a lot of great tips. And I am going to share a few of them with you here. This is no way shape or form if intended to be medical advice. This is simply what I did for my own body. And since every individual body is uniquely and wonderfully made by our creator, you should consult your health professional before implementing anything listed here.

The doctor had told me to add an iron supplement. So, I wanted to make sure that I added a high quality supplement. So I started using Floradix. I actually had 3 people recommend it to me. From California to London, England I had friends recommending the same product. That is quite an endorsement. It is available many places online, though I picked up a bottle at my local Vitamin Shoppe. Next she suggested that I take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses, twice a day. It is key that it is blackstrap molasses and not the regular molasses in the baking isle. I also picked this up at Vitamin Shoppe.
I also added B-12. I know that it helps with the iron absorption, so I also added that.

She also recommended juicing. This was pretty much impossible since I did not have a juicer. So the next best thing was to make green smoothies.
So every day I made myself a smoothie of spinach, the juice of one lemon, agave nectar, and banana. I just covered it with water and added about a cup of ice and blended.

I did this until my next doctor's appointment. My blood had gone up to 8.6. While, that is still anemic. He had thought I would go up about 1 point a month, and in 6 weeks I jumped 3.6 points.

Now back to the juicing... my friend had recommended that I drink beet, carrot, celery juice. We have a local place that would juice these for you fresh. However, the cost was about $4 a cup. I could not afford to do this on a daily basis, plus it was on the other side of town, so not terribly convenient.

Thankfully, my mom heard my desperation, and bought me a juicer for my birthday. And I have been using it just about everyday since. It has already paid for itself it you look at what it would have cost me to to purchase juices each and everyday.

So, if you see the picture below, that is what basically goes into my juice each morning..

What you see here are; 2 stalks of celery, 1/2 beet, 3 carrots, 1 clove garlic, 1 apple, 2 oranges, 2 handfuls of spinach and one bunch of cilantro. I usually use parsley instead of cilantro, I just did not have any.
This juice is high in Vit. C and Iron, which is what I need. I have felt awesome since starting this. I have added the clove of garlic to ward off illness during the cold and flu season.

My goal was to have my children drink one glass a day. They have not been real thrilled with that. So we are easing our way to that. I have been mostly doing carrots apples and oranges for them.

Below is a photo of a mug of juice. The above photo made this glass, plus another 1/2 a glass.

On mornings I get too busy and don't have enough time to juice, I have noticed a big difference in how I feel. I can maintain my energy level while drinking the juice. The color has returned to my face! And one of the most amazing things is, that when I drink the juice, I do not have cravings. You know how you go through the day and crave sweets, or salts, etc... however when I drink the juice, I don't have those cravings and I also don't get that, I am starving feeling!

I think that proves that as Americans our diets are nutrient poor, which makes us eat more. If we could just eat more nutrient dense foods, we would eat less!

This is what our new year has looked like! We are doing our best to change the way we eat. Omitting processed foods as much as we can. And adding high quality home-made foods in it's place!

Here's to your health!

Today is Purple Day!!!!

As a mother of 4 children that have had to battle epilepsy and one who still battles with it today, I have never been ashamed to discuss it and the effects it has on a person and a family. However, I am keenly aware of hte stigma that is often attached to epilepsy.

Please take a moment to read my friends post on Purple Day and how it got started. It all began in the heart of a bright young lady named Cassidy!

Purple Day has not only helped raise awareness in her native Nova Scotia, they are also raising funds! Purple Day is empowering epilepsy patients and their familes world wide. Will you join us??

Thanks to the internet Purple Day is spreading.. let's help to make it worldwide. Are you wearing purple today? How can you help people understand more about epilepsy today?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This year we are planting our first garden. I have been so very thankful for my teen aged boys! Then have given of their time and their energy and strength! Our soil is full of roots, they got out the pick axe and broke up that soil for me!

I have been battling my health. I have iron deficiency anemia, and have begun to juice. My prayer is for an abundant harvest that will at least supplement my juicing purchases!!

Not to mention, we live on a very tight budget! And I cannot afford to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, even though I know they are better for you. However, if I grow my own fruits and vegetables, I can ensure how they are grown!

We are growing the bulk of our garden from seeds. However, my friend who inspired me to start my garden shared some of her plants from her garden with me. What you see here is the most recent edition. These are our strawberry plants. We have planted additional strawberry seeds as well!

When purchasing our seeds, I ordered heirloom seeds, I did not want anything bio-engineered seeds. I split them with a few of my friends, that way I could have a larger variety of fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the cost. There are pros and cons to doing this. If you find you really love something, you will probably need to order more seeds. However, I figured this would be a great way to experiment with many different things, to learn what thrived in our area.

Here is a photo of a dill plant that my friend gave me. She actually gave me enough dill plants to make 2 rows of dill plants. These are thriving and doing well! I have already been blessed by these plants. I made a dill dip just the other day, that we have been enjoying on our baked potatoes!

Anyhow, I have about half of my garden planted. We will be wrapping up our seed sowing!

Here is a picture of our garden while we were working on it this afternoon. It is not beautiful yet... Three of the beds are planted for the most part. The one that is closest, still needs the beans to be planted, we will soak those tomorrow morning and get those in the ground.

The one just behind that is the dill and romaine lettuce, as well as, onions, a few varieties. In the bed to the left of that has been planted with beets, celery, spinach and carrots.

To the right of that one, will be more lettuce and a variety of herbs. Back up in the front, next to that corner plot will have peas, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers.
And next to that will be my melons!

Along the outside of our fence.. which has been put there to keep our dog out of the garden. This will provide some shelter from our hot dessert sun and it will be aesthetically pleasing!

I am praying for God's hand to touch our garden and to bless it with an abundant harvest!!

Check back, for pictures as the garden matures!

I would love to hear from you! What is in your garden? What tips and tricks do you have that helps your garden thrive?

Monday, March 22, 2010

TOS Crew: Graphics ToolBox Projects

Recently, I reviewed Graphics Toolbox as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. You can read that review here.

However, on that blog, I was not able to upload the two projects that I was able to complete while working on the review. Here in this post are the two projects that I completed.

As you can see they are pictures of two of my children playing the piano. They both recently performed in a Fine Arts Competition. I thought it would be great fun to see what they looked like in front of a crowd of adoring fans! I used several different features to achieve this. The irregular frame to cut them out of the original photo and ribbons, to just name a few...

They are not as clean as I would like them to be. As I continue to work with Graphics Toolbox I know that I will be able to master this program!

I am looking forward to spending more time with Graphics ToolBox over the summer when my work load is less. I plan on using what I learn to improve my blogs and my monthly homeschool newsletter!

Please check out Graphics Toolbox for yourself.

**Note** As mentioned in original review, I received a free copy of Graphics Toolbox in exchange for my honest opinion.