Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review of FFYB's Politically Incorrect Notebooking Pages

Recently I was given a copy of Fortunately For You Books’ “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers” notebooking pages free in exchange for my review, and I have been using them delightedly in my homeschool.  My daughter is one of those typical homeschooled kids whose abilities in one area have outpaced her abilities in other areas.  While she can read and comprehend almost anything I put in front of her, I have not yet taught her the finer points of note taking or outlining.  Unfortunately, the higher the level of books she reads, the more desirable these skills would be.

Fortuitously, Fortunately For You Books has solved my dilemma for me.  With their unique new line of notebooking pages, they have taken on the task of teaching the skills of note taking and outlining.  The notebooking pages, available by the chapter for $1.50 each, are set up in a loose outline form (in that they follow the chapter) with prompts as to what a student should write down.  Sometimes a specific question is asked, while other times there is a blank to be filled in or a series of points to be written down.  Regardless of how the prompt is formatted, though, a student is never in doubt of what they are supposed to write down.  When they have finished filling out the notebooking pages for the chapter (around ten or so pages for each chapter), your student will have a set of complete notes for that chapter.  They will be able to study for a test, summarize the chapter in a paragraph or two, or merely add the pages to their existing history or civics notebooks.

Although each page of the notebooking is keyed to a specific page or pages in the text making finding the answers easy, Fortunately For You Books does not require you to take on the task of looking things up.  A full set of answers is included with your purchase.  One aspect of the answers I especially appreciate is that they are incorporated into the actual notebooking pages (meaning a second set of pages with the answers filled in), rather than just included as a random-looking list of words. 

If you want your child to engage in pure outlining (I, II, A, B, a, b, i, ii, etc), these pages are probably not for you.  If, like me, though, you look at these pages and see a representation of the exact way that you take notes yourself (writing down key phrases and ideas, listing salient points), then you will be thoroughly taken with these notebooking pages.  They are the homeschool resource you would create yourself if you had the time – and that’s the highest compliment I can pay any homeschool resource.  My only complaint is that they are not available for all of my daughter’s assigned books!

If you are interested in seeing an actual sample of these notebooking pages, visit the product page at  In order to use the pages appropriately, you will need a copy of the book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers.”  I would recommend these pages wholeheartedly to anyone whose child is reading, or considering reading, this book, and I can’t wait to see further offerings in this series!

Product Review by Laura Delgado, Ph.D., Fortunately For You Books, LLC, July, 2011 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Lights of My Life

As I lay in bed last night suffering from insomnia again, I was struck by how many pinpoints of light I could see from my bed.  The tower fan emits a faint green glow.  The TV has a bright red light.  The DVR was silently engaging in its job, indicated by a faint orange light.  The refrigerator, visible when I sat up trying to get comfortable, positively radiated blue LED light.  The light which gives me the most security, the red light indicating that the house alarm was armed, reassures me every night, even though without my contacts on all I can see is a red haze.

I couldn't help but focus on the fact that the most important light in my life is not visible in the dark at all.  Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." (John 8:12).  While I believe this with all of my heart, I sometimes wish that the light was a little more visible, especially in the dark - both metaphorical and real.  The rest of the lights that rule my nights are intrusive, serving to remind me of all of the things that distract all of us from our true purpose here on Earth.  After all, the Baltimore Catechism teaches even the youngest Catholics the reason for their existence: "Why did God make me? To know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with him in the next."

I've always been struck by the fact that nowhere in that answer does it say that we are here to be happy in this life.  People who chase happiness in this life are sure to be thwarted.  That's not to say, of course, that we can't find happiness in this life: Jesus wants us to be happy! It is not the goal, however.  A life lived happily, if not in service to God, can't have a happily ever after, after all.  That's one of the major problems of modernity: the inability to delay gratification.  It's hard to look to the hereafter when we are all so used to being able to satisfy any desire NOW.  Why should attempting to satisfy the goal of happiness be any different, then?

I don't think it's any accident that church attendance and belief in God have declined steadily in the past century.  I have little doubt that I could graph the rise of technology alongside the decline in belief and find a nearly perfect inverse relationship.  Of course, I, of all people, know that congruence does not equal causation, but there is certainly food for thought in the project.

I have many more ideas on this subject, but my attention is distracted by other things.  One of my clients wants his press release NOW.  I have to research the concept using the Internet, which I can do immediately.  I am helping with our homeschool group's spelling bee, so I need to print off the word list momentarily.  My children need breakfast which I will serve them from a box - a meal which will take me no longer to prepare than the time I need to take clean bowls out of my brand-new dishwasher, which so obligingly did my chores for me last night while I was asleep.

How do we balance our love of life's conveniences and instant gratification with living the life Jesus meant us to live? I'm still trying to figure it out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Participate in this fun meme at The Simple Woman's Daybook!

Outside my window...It is bleakly, unrelievedly hot.  100 degree day after 100 degree day...

I am thinking...In 16 days we will leave for Estes Park, CO.  I am trepidatious about preparing for the trip, but looking forward desperately to getting to "our" house!

I am thankful...for my Catholic faith.  It defines me.  It keeps me going.  It is the core of who I am.

From the learning rooms...I'm trying to deal with T's giving me grief about school.  She is crazy, crazy smart.  She is three grade levels ahead.  She does not want to do her work.  Sometimes I wonder if she wouldn't be just fine if I completely unschooled her.  She seems to do know more than I about everything already anyway.

In the kitchen...There is no breakfast other than cereal. I really want to change that.  I need breakfast casserole recipes!

I am "uniform." Capri pants and a t-shirt.

I am creating...a beautiful lace shawl and boxes for our pens, pencils, and markers (shoe boxes covered with contact-paper covered scrapbook paper).

I am going...absolutely nowhere today.  My favorite kind of day and one that I can only enjoy for a few more weeks.

I am wondering...too many things to narrow it down.

I am reading...Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman, and a library book about the Johnstown Flood whose name I can't recall. Sad...

I am hoping...that N will have a good day.

I am looking forward to...COLORADO!

I am hearing...M-C jumping rope while M watches and offers advice (my 6 year-old twins).

Around the house...T and N are still asleep.  I have a lot to clean.

I am pondering...(how is this different from wondering? Is it more deliberate wondering...more hardcore thinking?)the new GIRM and how much it occupies my thoughts.  I am apprehensive about my meeting with Fr. Troy.

One of my favorite things...the color purple ;-)

A few plans for the rest of the week: H out of town.  Mom coming over.  Knitting and listening to The Witching Hour for hours and hours which means major work hours put in today!
A quote for the week: 

"There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be." 
— Fulton J. Sheen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Video Games

In one of those "God-timing" things, The Homeschool Minute today was about video games and some ideas for handling them in families.  Everything that was posted is something that we do in my family, from finishing all school and chores before playing, to doing something for the house or the family before playing. Still, in my experience, video games still have an adverse effect on my family.  My kids tend to get grumpy after playing.  They *definitely* get grumpy when they don't get to play.  While taking them away does make a convenient consequence, I still really dislike the vibe they give the house.  To that end, I instituted a video game moratorium for a week in my house.  No one can ask me to play and I won't be offering.  I'll be curious to see how it goes.  I'd like to think that they won't want to start again, but, somehow I doubt that will come around!