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Wordless Wednesday - My Lunch of Choice of Late

Multigrain Flaxseed Wrap with garlic hummus, red onion, avocado, red pepper, tomato, spring mix, and red chili paste. I find myself *craving* this sandwich all the time lately! It is so good, so easy, and so incredibly guilt-free.


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Motivation

I have been having serious motivation issues lately. I can't figure out what my problem is! Well, part of my problem is that I really, really enjoyed having some time off during the summer! We have not taken a summer off since we started homeschooling in 2007, but since Therese had debate nationals at the end of June this year (just a few weeks after having her dance recital for four straight four-hour nights), I needed the break. I haven't knitted so much in years! And I might have been binge watching The Shield. The problem is that getting back to work is so hard. Part of it is that I have an extreme lack of focus, and I'm honestly not sure where that is coming from. I feel so scattered. I also find that things that usually seem very important to me (like extemp and debate) just...don't. I know that part of that has to do with personnel-related things (Andrew graduating and leadership issues among them), but part of it is just this malaise in which I find myself. With the wisdom of my many, many years, though, I know that the solution to this kind of malaise is to just work through it. Put my nose to the grindstone and keep on keeping on. So that's what I'm doing. I have been blessed with so many tremendous review products lately that I have a ton of reviews to do (most of them are directly through TOS and not through the Crew), plus I have my edHelper work and stuff to do for debate. And, hey. Christmas break will be here before I know it, right?

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Wordless Wednesday - Makeup Closet Post 1


Henry designed a beautiful closet for me. This is the top of my tall Alex drawers. These are three of my lipstick holders (I think I have nine total). The lipsticks in these are 85% MAC with some Bobbi Brown, Urban Decay, and Nars. The mini lipsticks in front are Marc Jacobs and Bare Minerals. The shotgun shell lipsticks in the far back are the new Urban Decay Vice lipsticks (LOVE). The card is from Henry. I found it in the closet one day with a Pandora charm. I left the card and the bag right where he left them. Girls (Ladies), don't marry a man who doesn't spoil you rotten. It doesn't have to be with material goods. Compliments and letters are free.

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Happy Birthday, Therese!


Today is Therese's 15th birthday, so I picked a few of my favorite pictures of her. I'm sure they are probably not her favorites, but it's my blog ;-) I love her faces! She still makes the face she is making in the picture of us at the beach (she's almost making it at Andrew!). She is my heart.

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Review of CTCMath

CTCMath Review

The Homeschool Membership from CTCMath is one of my all-time favorite review products (actually, it's one of my all-time favorite homeschool products - I just happened to be introduced to it through the Crew), which is probably why I reviewed it here and here. Because both of those posts are very screenshot-heavy, I am going to focus this review more on talking about why CTCMath is different from all of the other math programs out there. 

What is CTCMath?

CTCMath is one of Cathy Duffy's 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. It is an Australian program, the brainchild of a homeschool father (which probably explains the fact that one yearly fee covers up to *10* children!). It is comprised of K-Calculus, and for K-8 it can work as a standalone curriculum. It is recommended that it be used as a supplement at the secondary level. It is not aligned to the common core, meaning that if you want your kids to learn math more like you learned math, this is likely a great choice for you. 

Each grade is broken down into subject areas, and each subject area is further broken down into topics (my verbiage may be way off, but you can see what I mean in this 6th grade illustration).


That makes it unbelievably easy to target a specific area where your child may be having trouble if you don't plan on using it as a full curriculum. 

The lessons are taught as 4-7 minute video tutorials with very simple animations (not cartoon-y animations, but power point type animations) and explanations. No frills. No distractions. Here is a lesson from Geometry captured in action:


Each lesson also has a one page summary of its content, exactly what you would probably end up with if you had taken notes. Here is the summary page from this lesson on triangles:


In terms of parent options, CTCMath is second to none, which is one of the main reasons it is such a superior program (the fact that my kids love it so much is the number one reason I love it so much, though!).

Parents can make assignments on their own dashboards:


Kids then see these tasks on their own dashboards.

A feature that I don't think I have ever noticed/used before is located under the Tools tab of the parent dashboard. It allows you a direct link/sneak peak at any lesson in CTCMath.


Once you highlight a lesson, you can see the lesson summary (the notes page) or you can go directly to that lesson's animation. That helps you quickly and easily see if it is something you want your child to do. It's a huge time saver to have it all right there on your dashboard!

My Kids and CTCMath

This year, I have two 6th graders and an 8th grader using CTCMath. Right now, my twins are using 6th grade math as their sole math program, and Nicky is using Geometry to supplement his current Geometry program. You can see their next week's assignments in one of the screenshots above (we are not doing school this week because of camps). 

CTC makes it so easy for both parents and kids. Because the lessons are so short, math is not painful. You can do several lessons without it dragging on, and you can build a reference binder with pre-done notes (great for the non-writing types). Parents can send assignments directly to their kids' dashboards and get updates sent directly to their own emails. It's a wonderful way to do math!

I'm pretty sure my CTCMath subscription runs through at least 2019 (I bought my own 18 month subscription after our first review. I never want to be without this program!). That's actually my only quibble with this program - I can't see my end date anywhere. That's a little frustrating. It's minor, though.

To see how other Crew members used this program, especially if you want to see how it works with youngers, be sure to click the banner below!


CTCMath Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Review of Star Toaster

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
One of Michael's (11) favorite review products ever was Orphs of the Woodlands (reviewed here) by Star Toaster, so he was beyond excited when Star Toaster came out with a sequel of sorts called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Described as an interactive chapter book and educational game, Orphs of the Woodlands is definitely both of these things. The player first reads a chapter of the book and then gets a task to complete. If they complete enough of the task correctly, stars are earned. When enough stars are earned, the player collects the item for which they are striving (items include things like wheat, water, blankets and other things for their hideouts). Tasks include things like math problems, memory skills, facts on woodland creatures, and many others. Throughout the book, difficult words can be pronounced by the app, sounds in the book can be played, and animations appear throughout (hence the idea of the interactive aspect of the book!). The end goal is to collect all of the items for your treetop fort (your hideout) and to restore your village that was washed away in a flood.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Here are Michael's thoughts after completing both the original Orphs of the Woodlands and its new sequel: "This new app is definitely aimed at younger kids - I would say 6-8 year-olds. It's a good story with a good level of problems for a younger age group. It was great to return to the world of the Orphs, but I was disappointed that many of the parts of the original game that I loved were missing. For one thing, you couldn't name your character. Also, there were no recipes. You couldn't decode secret messages. But I think that not having those things is what makes it great for younger kids. If I had a younger sibling, I am sure that he or she would love this app. It would be really fun to read it to a younger kid and do the activities with them. I'm really glad I got to have the chance to play with it and I really hope that Star Toaster (N.B., I told him the name of the vendor) comes out with another version of Orphs of the Woodlands for older kids more like the first one!"


My Take

I think that this app is as cute as they come, and I am once again amazed by everything that Star Toaster has managed to fit into it. There is a serious amount of learning that you can get out of this one little app...and you absolutely don't feel at all like you're learning. The book is adorable and the story is so much fun!

To find out more about Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree, visit Star Toaster's social media sites:


Also, be sure to click the banner below to read more than 50 other Crew reviews of Star Toaster users! 

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Update on Therese



It's been awhile since I updated Therese's health. Her latest round of blood work was really helpful. Her doctor was really pleased. It is highly likely that she has Crohn's Disease, which can be remedied with a round of antibiotics (10 days this time, not seven months!). Before he draws that conclusion, though, Dr. P. has her on a yeast elimination diet to make sure that her problem is not a yeast allergy/intolerance. After not eating yeast for five days, Therese is praying it's Crohn's! More importantly, following the lead of the young man we know who has been our, um, inspiration/muse/mine canary in all of this, I asked Dr. P. to test Therese to see if she had an MTHFR gene mutation, which, sure enough, she does. I'm hoping this mutation could be the thing that finally explains her joint pain, but (when addressed) it definitely should explain her brain fog (which we really thought would clear up when she stopped using antibiotics and switched to probiotics, but so far no such luck).

As far as school, we have figured out that Therese should be all caught up by December (done with Geometry and with the rest of Freshman and most of Sophomore years, excluding Biology (her Bio course is actually designated for 10th graders anyway). By the end of next summer she should be completely brought up to speed where I want her to be. When all is said and done, she should be graduating in three years (on time) with enough time her senior year to do whatever independent study she might want to take on. Her end goal is the Honors Program at the University of St. Thomas (like her Mama and someone else we know). Her curriculum is perfectly crafted to take her where she wants to go, given that we are using this curriculum from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. I don't enroll her in the Academy or have them do the grading, but I do use their syllabi and books for Therese. It's the perfect curriculum for her and she's been really happy with it.

So maybe there is light at the end of this tunnel for Therese. All we can do is wait and pray, which seems to have been our pattern for the longest time now.

ETA: I just realized that I didn't say anything about Therese's Mycoplasma level! Probably because it hasn't changed much at all...like only decreasing by a couple of tenths. We'll see what the next round of blood work says, though, after she's been on probiotics only.

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