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Spiritual Works of Mercy

There are so many things that I love about being Catholic. It would take so much more room than I have here to enumerate them. The elucidation of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy is just one of them. The Corporal Works of Mercy are, I think, fairly well understood, but it is the Spiritual Works of Mercy that have always resonated with me, especially the call to bear wrongs patiently.

Image Credit: FatherBroom.com

How hard that one is! How often we are presented with the opportunity to do it, though. I feel that I have been wronged so often lately, and it has been so acutely painful. It is a characteristic of my personality type (melancholic, obviously) that I am overly sensitive regarding injustice (as it applies both to myself and to others). It is so comforting to know that we are called (we are *obligated*) to perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy just as much as we are the Corporal - so I better get to the business of bearing those wrongs -- and patiently. 

As with everything about Catholicism, it brings me so much comfort. If you'd like to read more about this very old practice (going back at least to St. Thomas Aquinas - the Angelic Doctor), this article is quite good: Are The Works of Mercy Ever Obligatory? 

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Tell That Stranger What You're Thinking



A few years ago, a hotel front desk clerk just spontaneously said (as I was headed out for the day), "You're so pretty, Mrs. Delgado!" Needless to say, it made my day (okay, my week). It was the kind of thing that I saw my dad doing while I was growing up. He was king of the random compliment. He made sure to tell waitresses (the one or so times a year we went out to eat!) what a great job they were doing, before the advent of PC, he always complimented women on their clothes or their hair, etc. Since that day, I decided to follow in his footsteps. If the girl checking me out at the grocery store has great hair, I tell her. If the guy sacking the groceries has a killer smile, I tell him (advantage of being old - there's no chance it looks like I'm coming on to him). A few months ago, I was driving through a neighborhood and there were two teen girls walking along (like I used to do with my best friend Josh all the time) and one of them had very bold purple hair. I loved it. If I weren't older than cheese, I would totally color my hair purple. Because my own teen daughter was in the front seat and I figured I wouldn't terrify her by slowing down and rolling down the window, I told her she had killer hair. She beamed.

Which leads me to my present story. There is a woman that we have seen for years at the Saturday 5:30 Mass. She is older, but far too elegant to be called elderly. In fact, she is the most stylish and elegant woman that I have ever seen. Unless I am completely ignorant (and I'm not), her suits are Chanel. Her hair is always perfection. Her jewelry and accessories are beautiful. Her makeup is (as the kids say) goals. She always smiles at us and winks at my kids. Part of me has been a little, well, afraid to approach her because she is so perfect I'm so me. However, while I assume that people must tell her how beautiful and elegant she is every day, maybe that don't. She comes to Mass alone. I don't know her life circumstances. So a couple of weeks ago, I didn't stay after Mass praying like I usually do. I basically chased her down and told her what I thought about her - how she was so beautiful and so stylish and how I admired her. I told her that I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

It turned out that she had so many wonderful stories to tell and that she so wanted to talk! First of all, she told us how lovely our family was and how she had watched our children grow up - how good they had always been in church. Her (second? third?) husband had very recently just died. His end of life stay at a home (Memorial area if you're from Houston, so you know what that had to cost) had depleted their savings to nothing and she had had to sell everything in their home - furnishings, treasures, everything. She was now trying so hard to sell the house itself. It turned out that she had also spent seven years at the Dominican convent in Houston. As the last of her parents' children, she felt honor-bound to enter religious life, given how badly they wanted a vocation among their children. At the same time, she didn't feel that she was called to be a sister. She showed us a picture of herself in her habit, a picture she still carries all these decades later. She left the convent before her final vows and then got married. She told us all about how her husband worked for the oil industry and how they lived in Europe and how she traveled with the American Wives Club. It was fascinating. I loved listening to her! I didn't want to ask, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if she had been Junior League back in the day.

My point is that her need to talk just reinforced my conviction that if I am moved to compliment someone, I need to do it. There is a reason that that idea has been planted in my head. This woman needed to hear that. She was so pleased when I told her what I thought of her. I'm sure she knew it on some level, but who doesn't like to hear kind words spoken about them, especially when they are going through rough times? And I certainly had no way of knowing just how rough were the times she was going through. In my mind, this woman had Nordstrom calling her seasonally to let her know that Chanel and Dior had just sent over their newest collections, did she want them sent over to her house? Maybe at one time that had been true - who knows? But not now.

It's so easy to be negative. It should be even easier to be positive. If you're not already doing this, give it a try. It may feel a little strange, but I bet you'll find it slightly addictive very, very quickly!

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Review of Math Essentials' No-Nonsense Algebra

Math Essentials
Math. I know it's not one of *those* four letter words, but I'll be darned if it doesn't feel like it most of the time in my house. Therese (16) is sort of consumed with math right now, as she is staring down the barrel of the PSAT in a few months. Because of the fact that math is not her strongest subject, I was happy when I saw the opportunity to review Math Essentials from No-Nonsense Algebra. These math lessons are short, but thorough, and they provide just the right amount of review if you've already done algebra (which is how we used this program).
No-Nonsense Algebra
No-Nonsense Algebra is a complete algebra program, and it can be used that way. It covers the following topics:
  • Necessary Tools for Algebra
  • Solving Equations
  • Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
  • Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  • Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Polynomials
  • Rational Expressions
  • Radical Expressions and Geometry
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra Word Problems
Each of the ten chapters concludes with a review, and there is a final review. There are also chapter tests and a final exam. Solutions to all of the problems are found at the back of the book. The book itself, though, is only half of the No-Nonsense Algebra program. Each lesson is accompanied by a free online video lesson. Purchase of the book entitles you to free access to all of the online video lessons, which correspond perfectly to the chapters in the book:


The videos are done "whiteboard style" as below:


Therese only watched them when she needed something clarified that she didn't understand in the text, but if you are learning this material for the first time (rather than going through it for purposes of review), the material is presented clearly and concisely by Richard W. Fisher, winner of the Intel Innovations in Teaching Award. Mr. Fisher really is an excellent teacher. He makes these concepts easy to understand. I don't find Algebra intuitive at all, but he makes it so much more comprehensible. I asked Therese more than once, "Why aren't you watching the videos?!" "Because I don't need to!" she answered. That's for two reasons. First, Mr. Fisher's written explanations are also excellent, and that's how Therese has been learning math her whole life - from a book. Second, Therese is reviewing most of these concepts, and not learning them for the first time. I have a feeling that when I use this book with my twins (12) in a couple of years (because I will be using this book with my twins!), they will welcome the excellent videos.

Therese's Assessment of No-Nonsense Algebra
"I really liked the fact that there were short explanations, but they still told me exactly what I needed to do, and it was nice knowing that I had the videos as back up if I couldn't figure it out just based off of the text lesson. I thought it had just the right amount of problems and problems at different difficulties because it never got boring or repetitive. It had just enough to be able to figure out the problems and then move on. The parts that I have covered so far have resulted in dramatic improvements in my SAT math score (according to my test prep materials), and since that is why I wanted to use this book, I would consider it a huge success. I am definitely going to finish the entire book."
We have been loving this program. To see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought, be sure to click the banner below.
No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Therese Writes About Scholarship Application Process!

It's true! I have a guest writer on my blog today for the first time ever! Therese has been applying for scholarships for a few weeks now (she's a rising Junior), and her process is so methodical that I thought it might help other people. Hence, I asked her to write a post for my blog! Without further ado, please welcome my eldest child, my daughter Therese (16)!



via GIPHY

If you were to see my room, you would never guess that I prefer to be an organized person. But, that is the truth.  I like to be organized whenever possible. This being the case, I wanted to approach the matter of applying for scholarships in a neat and orderly fashion. Within this blog post, I’ll walk you through the methods I’ve employed for choosing, applying for, and keeping track of scholarships.


The Book

I started my scholarship process with the 800 paged Ultimate Scholarship Book (2018). It’s a very daunting book, due mostly to its size. The book sorts scholarships into different categories: Generic scholarships, Humanities and Art/Social Sciences/Science/State of Residence/Membership/Ethnicity, Race, Gender, and Family Situation/and Disability and Illness. It contained a total of 2715 scholarships. I went through every category (and every scholarship). I would advise everyone to do so with the possible exception of disability and illness. You never know what will apply to you. For instance, I don’t have much interest in science, nor do I plan on studying anything in that field. And yet, I found multiple scholarships in that section that applied to me.


I went through every scholarship in the book. Those that didn’t apply to me I struck through with a highlighter. Those that did apply, I color coded. The flags are no longer in the book (you’ll find out why in a minute), but here is the color key:
Purple: Absolutely Must Enter (Usually due to the amount)
Green: Essay
Pink: Simple Application
Orange: Video
Red: Other Form of Entry (poetry etc.)
Blue: Uncertain Whether I Can Apply


Once I had “processed” the entire book, I started at the beginning again. I cut out every flagged scholarship. Then I moved on to step two.

The Planner
I took a planner that I had (one that didn’t already have dates pre-written in it) and used that for my organizer. I wanted something that had the setup of a calendar in it in order to track deadlines. This meant that a blank notebook wouldn’t do, but a planner worked perfectly. I sorted all the scholarships I’d cut out by the month the deadline was in. Then, starting with the January pile, I put all of the scholarships into my book. Using the calendar page, I wrote out the name of each scholarship in the appropriate date box. Then, turning the page, I filled in the details of each on the pages meant for planning out your day. The details of each scholarship I included were:
Name
Short description of what you had to do to enter (i.e. “Register with X, write 700 word essay on X)
Amount awarded to the winners
Number of Awards
Code from The Ultimate Scholarship Book
All fairly straightforward. My color coding continued on into the planner. If I had had a purple flag on a scholarship, I wrote all the details of said scholarship in purple. This way I could tell at a glance which ones had been flagged what color. I also included the paper copies of all the details for the scholarships that I’d cut out of the book.




The Applications
I next created a separate email account for all college related email. I started applying to the scholarships with the fastest approaching deadlines. Every time I applied to one, I checked it off my list in my planner. When I found a new scholarship online, I’d write it down in my book. I’ll keep repeating this process until I reach the end of the planner.

Me Again...
Now you see why I wanted Therese to share her process. It's pretty awesome, huh? She doesn't have a high school guidance counselor to walk her through this process or bring scholarships to her attention. She's doing it all on her own. I have always said, though, that the money is out there and it's going to someone. Might as well go to her!

I hope you've enjoyed this guest post. I'm thinking of having her write more of them as she goes through her (notoriously difficult and stressful) Junior year. Hopefully there is some interest in that.





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Review of Greek 'n' Stuff's Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!

Greek 'n' Stuff

Greek 'n' Stuff is one of the first vendors I ever learned about when I started homeschooling, so they will always have a special place in my heart. I have used their Bible studies and their Latin before, but somehow, their awesomely named Greek has never come home from the homeschool store with me. Fortunately, we were given the opportunity to review Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set. 

Hey, Andrew!Teach Me Some Greek!

Therese (16) has had some Greek before, and Nicholas' (14) curriculum didn't have room for another class right now, but the twins (12) were itching to learn Greek, so I requested this product for them. Although they are Greek neophytes, Greek 'n' Stuff recommends Level 3 as the starting place for beginners 4th grade and up. It assumes no prior knowledge of Greek, as it begins at the beginning with the alphabet. After receiving it in the mail and showing it to the twins to gauge their interest, I decided that Michael would be my Greek student this summer! He really loves languages. A couple of summers ago, he took on Hebrew for a few weeks. Last summer, he studied beginning Japanese. After seeing how he has done with Greek, I may bring Mary-Catherine on board with her own student book later this fall, but for now, Michael has been my Greek guinea pig!



We received the Level 3 Student Worktext and Answer Key of Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! along with the Pronunciation CD for Levels 3 and 4. The Answer Key is an exact replica of the Student Worktext with the answers filled in. For some courses I would say that you don't need the Answer Key, but for this course, I say that it is an absolute necessity (unless, of course, you are fluent in Greek)! The Answer Key also has a note to the Parent/Teacher that makes a few suggestions, such as buying a Greek Interlinear New Testament in order to practice reading orally. There is also Bible Copy Work in the Appendix. The last thing that the Answer Key contains that is not present in the worktext, but is a very nice thing to have, is the Schedule of Lessons. It calls for doing one page per day, and that's been a very nice pace for us. Can you do more than one page per day? Obviously, yes, and with ease. Why the Schedule of Lessons is nice to have, though, is because it contains teaching tips throughout, and the tips are not short one sentence throwaways. They are like a second Greek course for adults. I wouldn't want to be walking Michael through this course without them.
The pronunciation CD is also a must-have. Michael was really excited to start digging into his workbook (worktext), but the first thing he said when he began flipping through it and saw the Greek words was, "How do you say these words?" I was very glad to be able to answer him by pulling out the CD!

Michael and Andrew

In keeping with the suggested schedule (although, as the author notes, older children can certainly do more), Michael has been doing the minimum one page per day. It is a good pace for him right now with his current schedule (he is in 7th grade). He enjoys learning Greek, and Mary-Catherine has started saying, "I wouldn't mind learning Greek, too!" I think I'll be picking up a second student workbook (worktext) for her in the near future. This course is highly accessible to kids. It is not hard, and as a parent, you have some control over how much you actually teach them. You can go deeper by incorporating some of what is shared with you in the teaching tips, or you can just let them go with what is in the student worktext. Daily flashcard practice is essential, though, and they should not move forward if they have not mastered the required flashcards. There is certainly not an overwhelming amount of material presented each lesson, and the activities used to introduce and cement the material is varied and fun. This is not a typical workbook course at all, so don't shy away from it just because there is a workbook involved!


Michael has been able to do most of the worktext with little assistance from me, which is where I want him to be at this point in his homeschool journey. Of course, I need to hear his oral work, but the actual putting pencil to paper part has been something he is completely able to do on his own -- and he enjoys it!
I am so glad to have finally been able to try Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! after hearing about it for a full decade! Of course, Greek 'n' Stuff has other great products, too, including Bible studies! Be sure to click on the banner below to read all of the Crew's experiences with them.

Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Review of Heirloom Audio Productions' In the Reign of Terror

Heirloom Audio Productions
Because we have reviewed Heirloom Audio Productions before, I was happy to receive In the Reign of Terror for review. This CD is beautifully presented in a fold-out case on two discs. The total run time is 2 1/2 hours of full-cast audio, and the cast in this production (as with all Heirloom Audio Productions' offerings) is not to be believed. Stars like Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies, Jack Farthing, and Cathy Sara make In the Reign of Terror not only come to life - they make it leap full-force into your car or living room. This is not a passive listening experience!
In the Reign of Terror
If you're not yet convinced that this is not a passive listening experience, I encourage you to watch the trailer. It will give you a small taste of the treat your ears are in for.

Heirloom Audio Productions also has a beautiful study guide that has questions, activities, and much more. Designed to help parents make In the Reign of Terror more meaningful to their younger children (the CD is intended for children as young as 6), the study guide has activities that can be enjoyed by multiple ages. The study guide begins with some biographies of important people, including Henty himself (the author of the book), Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette. For each track of the CD, the study guide has "Listening Well" and "Thinking Further" questions, along with "Defining Words." Although not available for every track, there are also "Expand Your Learning" inserts, which have great historical background information, turning this great audio production into a unit study! For example, one of the segments was a recipe for No-Knead French Bread, and there's another one for Brioche- see, I'm not kidding about turning this into a unit study!


The study guide also includes a list of further resources, three Bible studies, and historical background on The Reign of Terror. There is a lot of material there!

As we have with previous Heirloom Audio Productions reviews, we received some amazing bonuses with this review, including:
  • In the Reign of Terror Adventure Playlist (the ability to listen to the audio adventure in playlist format
  • The original eBook of GA Henty's In the Reign of Terror
  • Official Soundtrack
  • Printable Cast Poster
  • Study Guide
  • Inspirational Verse Poster ("What man intends for evil, God intends for good")
  • Desktop Wallpaper Download
  • Official Script Download - by far the *coolest* bonus ever! It is so fun to listen to the story and follow along on the script. Plus, like everything that Heirloom Audio does, the script is simply gorgeous.


My kids love listening to these Heirloom Audio Productions performances. They are absolutely top quality and the stories are riveting. In the Reign of Terror is no exception. The story follows Harry Sandwith, a 16 year-old English boy who goes to live with the Marquis de St. Caux in France in 1790. While he's living there, the French Revolution begins to progress in earnest. Obviously, the Marquis is nobility and therefore is loyal to King Louis XVI. I don't want to give away any key plot points, but all the ingredients are present for a very emotionally intense and exciting book, and the amazing actors at Heirloom Audio Productions 100% bring it to life in a way that just reading it can't.

Heirloom Audio also has something new! Check it out - Live the Adventure Club!

We always love everything that Heirloom Audio Productions puts out, but you don't have to take our word for it. To see what other Crew members thought, click the banner below!

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Melt proof Makeup

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I love makeup. I'm not going to justify it. I just love it. I have a ton. Again, I'm not going to justify it. It's not the norm in the homeschool world, and I have gotten some subtle, um, mockery might be the right word (you don't know how badly I wanted to say shade!) for it. I don't care. That doesn't stop people from asking me questions about products, colors, etc. Which brings me to the following: is it possible, in a city like Houston, to wear actual face makeup that won't slide off your face in days with heat indices of 105+? Yes. Completely. I can put on foundation in the morning and still have it looking nearly perfect over 12 hours later after running errands and being outside for limited periods of time. Can I work out in it? Ha! Like I work out. That's a situation I am desperately trying to change, but I will tell you it can stand up to a brisk walk in Houston humidity!

My go-to for years has been Estee Lauder Double-Wear (shade 2C3 - Fresco). I still love it and I'll never leave it. In Houston, we are lucky enough to have CCO's - Cosmetic Company Outlets. There are three in the Cypress Outlet Malls and one in Katy Mills. At the MAC/Estee Lauder/Clinique one in Cypress, you can always find Double Wear 20% off - the question is whether you can find your shade. It is not old stock. If you've never been matched, definitely get matched first at an EL counter and get your free 10 day supply before buying it somewhere else, whether it's Ulta or a CCO.



Lately, however, I have been LOVING Urban Decay's All-Nighter Liquid Foundation. This one is almost a no-go for me because my skin is pretty dry. This puppy will suck up every bit of moisture on your skin. It is a dream when paired with one of UD's new primers - I love the Optical Illusion Complexion Primer. These two together (set with Skindinavia setting spray) last absolutely all day long, even in the super humidity. I don't touch up anything during the day. Ever. My foundation shade is 1.5. It's a pretty perfect match for me. This range is quite good with alternating between the pink and yellow undertones. I've tried it with a brush and a sponge, and I quite prefer a sponge because it sets so fast. I think you need that extra little bit of moisture. (Quickly on the subject of sponges, I quite prefer the L'Oreal sponge to a Beauty Blender, which I used for years. I'm ashamed to say that I succumbed to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale BB exclusive set because I was a sucker for that lavender sponge, but I definitely prefer L'Oreal.)

I set the foundation only very lightly with IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder and a very fluffy powder brush. That's different than how I set the EL Double Wear. For that, I typically set with MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation, which definitely adds even more coverage (I'm shade C4 if you need a comparison). The All-Nighter just doesn't need *anything* to make it super full coverage. It probably doesn't need to be set at all, but living in Houston just means setting your foundation in my world. I wouldn't consider anything else.

Finally, I assume it's understood, but the Ulta links aren't affiliate links. I put them in because if you're not shopping Ulta, you should be! Sign up for an account and start accruing points. A month or so ago, I placed an order for $154.00 and paid $4.00 for it. The rest was paid for in points. And that represented the redemption of only a small fraction of my points. Before you redeem any points, Google the Ulta points system so you can make the most of redemption. If you don't currently have a hair stylist, consider auditioning one at Ulta, because services accrue points, too, and they add up quickly! If you live anywhere near me (and you know if you do), give April at the Copperfield Ulta a try. She is awesome. She handles Therese's curly hair and my old hair equally adeptly. She actually matched my hair color to what it was when I was a kid. Three pregnancies leached the red out of my hair almost completely. April brought it back brilliantly. If I have to have the freckles, the rosacea, and the sunburns, I'm going to have the red hair!

Hopefully this post was somewhat helpful. If you're having trouble justifying the price of the UD foundation, maybe this will help. Wayne Goss, makeup artist and YouTuber extraordinaire, found out that most foundations have between 160-180 pumps in them. If you use 1-2 pumps each time you do your makeup, that's about 113 uses. That's about .35 per use. For the end result, that's not bad at all. For me, knowing that my makeup isn't going to break down in the heat is well worth the price of admission!

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Wordless Wednesday - The Secret of Success


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Review of Doctor Aviation

Doctor Aviation
Doctor Aviation is unlike any program we have ever reviewed. These Aviation Online Training Videos are, quite simply, one of the most unique things on the Internet for homeschoolers (or anyone, but, you know, I'm speaking to my target audience!). Doctor Aviation is a series of 15 videos, each with three different segments: Technical Trivia, Notable Innovators, and Legendary Aircraft/Events. Each video runs about an hour. 


The videos are divided into five main topic areas, under which you will learn the following:

1. Course Overview - The Aviation System

I. The Aircraft

2. The Major Components of an Airplane
3. Axes and Forces
4. Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
5. Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches, and Flies: The Flight Controls

II. Air Traffic Control

6. How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
7. The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works

III. Maintenance

8. Keep 'Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance - Propeller Engines
9. Keep 'Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance - Jet Engines

IV. Airfield Operations

10. The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
11. The Small Airport and Running an FBO

V. The Aircraft II

12. Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
13. Important Pilot Instruments: Attitude Indicator
14. Important Pilot Instruments: Airspeed Indicator
15. Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

Daryl Smith, Doctor Aviation, is a former Air Force Command Pilot (for part of which he worked on SDI - you know, Star Wars!) and instructor at the Air Force Academy. He is currently a college professor. In other words, this man knows aviation. Because he wanted to bring aviation to high schoolers, he created this virtual classroom. In my opinion, he succeeded.

In addition to the videos, there are two other components to Doctor Aviation. There are downloadable Guided Notes for each video, which I love. I printed these ahead of time for Nicholas to fill out as he was watching the video. I'll be honest: the videos could get to feeling a bit long. Doctor Aviation (Mr. Smith) tends to stand by his plane for most of the video talking. Now, my husband and I didn't mind that at all. I was fascinated. It seems that no matter how many times someone explains to me how planes fly (Video #4), it is a mystery revealed anew each time. Nicholas (14) got bored, though. Having the guided notes for him to fill in along the way was a stroke of brilliance. It kept him alert throughout the whole video.

Obviously the notes aren't fancy, but they don't have to be. They get the job done just fine. If you were taking this course for some kind of credit (because there is absolutely enough material here to be doing this for high school credit), they would make amazing study material.

The final component to each lesson is the "To Learn More" section that accompanies each video. This is the real meat of the lesson if you are doing Doctor Aviation for credit (which Nicholas isn't - I just know that my husband has always loved planes and I thought that he and Nicholas would enjoy learning more about them together). In these pages, Doctor Aviation gives you a *ton* of extra resources to peruse that pertain to the material he just covered in the video. The resources are all very neatly categorized by type and by topic.


I chose this particular screenshot because of that last article. I *love* that Doctor Aviation included an article from a scholarly journal. It's the kind of resource that "the rest of us" just wouldn't normally stumble upon. It's like me citing something from the American Political Science Quarterly. Plus, don't you just kind of wonder if he's 4th author? 

If you're taking this class for credit, you won't have to do any extra work in pulling together outside resources. Doctor Aviation has done all of the work for you. I mean, you'll have to put in the time, but it's not like when you're writing a unit study and you have to hunt and search for the best materials: they are already all in one place for you. 

For example, in Lesson 4, there are links to videos showing you how to build your own wind tunnel and airfoil. This is just an example of the kind of neat projects you can expect to find.

Finally, although we didn't delve into them, there are tests available from Doctor Aviation, should you so desire. He tells you on the website at what point you should be taking which test.

What We Thought

Well, our household was kind of divided in opinion on this review, but take Nicholas's opinion cum grano salis. The adults really enjoyed Doctor Aviation. The material is so interesting and, I'll confess, I'm a little starstruck by the credentials of the presenter (I mean, I remember debating Star Wars in high school). Is Mr. Smith the most fascinating communicator of all time? No. But he doesn't have to be. He knows his subject, and his passion for his subject is evident. That's enough for me. But Nicholas was raised in a different generation. He is used to far more flash and excitement with his video presentations. Sad but true. He loves informative presentations and he loves learning new things, but he will inevitably compare something like Doctor Aviation to The Science Channel. Still, the videos did hold his attention, and he was completely able to talk about what he learned at the end of each one. One comment - "Wow! That guy really really likes Chuck Yeager!" Also, the courses are designed for ages 16+, and Nicholas is a brand new 14 (and an immature 14 at that), so take those things into consideration when deciding whether or not this product is for you. If you have a child who is at all into aviation, maybe one who is in Civil Air Patrol or who is considering it, I would definitely not hesitate with this one. Or if you yourself are interested in aviation, give the samples online a try. I am *really* enjoying Doctor Aviation and can't wait to see how Air Traffic Control works (my hat is off to anyone who does that job; it looks like a heart attack in waiting to me!). 

Many different crew members got a chance to try out Doctor Aviation, so be sure to click the banner below to see what they thought!

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Review of Mapelle Films' Trust Fund

Mapelle Films

Mapelle Films' Trust Fund is a movie for those 12+ (or younger if viewed with the family) whose theme will seem familiar, although it is presented in a fresh new way. There is also a downloadable study guide to give more depth to the movie watching experience if you so desire. It has scriptures and questions that correspond to the different parts of the movie. The cinematographer/producer of Trust Fund, Isaac Alonghi, was homeschooled back when homeschooling just wasn't done (his parents started in 1982! I was seven years old!), and, as many homeschooling parents can attest, that flexibility and free time can really help when it comes to cultivating and pursuing life's passions. You can read more about Isaac in this article.

Trust Fund Movie


Trust Fund is the story of Reese Donahue, a young woman whose mother has, unbeknownst to her, left her and her sister a 10 million dollar inheritance. Her father, the owner of a profitable company, has never mentioned the inheritance. Reese hacks into the bank on her sister's computer, transfers her half of the inheritance to her own bank account, and takes her money to Italy to a man with whom she had previously engaged in a romantic relationship. When he runs into financial difficulties, she offers him money, and, well, does the story of the prodigal son sound familiar? This movie is a modern take on the age old story of the prodigal. Also, although I didn't review it, there is also a book, Love Was Near, which further explores the story behind the movie. 

Now, don't make the mistake that I was tempted to make. This is *not* a homeschool movie. Yes, it's made by a homeschool graduate, and, yes, there is a Christian message, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie in its own right. Need more? It co-stars Willie Garson. That's Stanford Blatch! As in Carrie Bradshaw's best friend. If I'm speaking a foreign language right now, don't even worry about it, but if those names mean anything to you, I've just given you an independent reason to watch this movie (if you Google those names and feel the need to judge me, that's okay. I can take it. Ironically, I can no longer take the vapidity of that show, but I fell in love with shoes because of it.).

Back to our regularly scheduled review. If, like me, the story of the prodigal son troubles you, I encourage you to give this movie a try. See, as a parent, I have no trouble with the prodigal at all. I would welcome Reese back with wide open arms and no questions asked. Unconditional love, right? Just like Jesus. As a sibling, though? Oh, I feel Audrey (Reese's sister)! I have a prodigal brother. Now, he didn't spend the family fortune (there are six kids in my family - there is no fortune to spend), but he did consume quite a bit of resources, emotional and financial when we were kids and young adults. He was...a handful. He had his brushes with drugs, alcohol, and truancy. He put a strain on our family and he put a strain on me personally that I don't think I am over even now. As an adult, though, he is extremely successful both in his career and with his own family. I am so proud of him and I am so happy for him. I am happy and grateful that there are no rifts in our family - that my father doesn't hold any of his past against him and that they have a close relationship. But there is still something inside me that screams out - "But I did everything right! What about me? I never strayed from the right path. I never even stopped going to church! I've always been steady Betty, old reliable - why can't anyone see me?" Seeing a movie like this brings me back to Earth and reminds me that my Father always sees me; that I've never been forgotten.

I was originally going to watch this with Mary-Catherine (12), but she has been sick since we got back from Arkansas, so I ended up watching it alone. I'm glad I did. I'll watch it with her in the near future. I'm pretty sure she'll really enjoy it, and I'm pretty sure she'll recognize a bit of Audrey in her young self, too. I highly recommend this movie.
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}
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Review of Home School in the Woods' Make-a-State Activity

Home School in the Woods
Home School in the Woods makes lap booking fun. I don't care if you don't think you like lap books or if you think lap books are hard. I can almost guarantee that Home School in the Woods will convert you. Their products are also the best deal in their space in the homeschool market? Why? Because you buy one product and you can lap book (or notebook) an almost infinite (or, in the case of the cool product we got the review, 50) number of options! We have reviewed for this great company before, but this time around, we got to try a new member of the Activity-Paks family: the Make-a-State Activity! (*real time face palm, y'all - after nine years of homeschooling, I *just* got it! Activity-Pak - Amy Pak (for the one or two of you who don't know, she is the genius behind Home School in the Woods). I'm bemused by my thickheadedness and amused by Amy's cleverness. Sorry I'm so late to that party.) 
Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State
This is not the first Activity-Pak we've done, far from it. In our past ten years of homeschooling, we've worked through The Old Testament, Composers, and Artists. In fact, as she started working on this Activity-Pak, Mary-Catherine immediately began talking about doing Mozart for the Composers Activity-Pak. We've also done several of the Time Traveler American series, including New World Explorers and Colonial Life. Homeschool in the Woods really is a hands-on history company! They have something for everyone, whether you like to study history chronologically (the Time Traveler American series is tailor-made for you!), or thematically (the Activity-Paks have you covered!). Spoilers - read to the end of the review to see how Homeschool in the Woods is determined to service your hands-on history needs, even if you don't need an entire unit study from them!
With the Make-a-State Activity-Pak, you have everything you need to make an amazing lap book for any (or all) of the 50 states! You will get mini book templates for each of the following:
  • Key State Facts
  • Origin of State Names
  • State Motto
  • State Symbol
  • State Song
  • State Wildlife
  • Regions
  • State Geography
  • State Wildlife
  • State Seal & Flag
  • State History
  • Famous People From
  • Native Tribes
  • State Industry/Agriculture/Climate
  • State Landmarks
  • Sports Teams
  • State Quarter
  • Recipes
  • State Vocabulary
  • Timeline
Home School in the Woods even goes so far as to include a state facts/information sheet for each state, meaning that you can complete the majority of these mini books without needing to go to any outside sources. *Of course* you can do as much outside research as you want to - you can turn your state study into a semester long unit study if you so choose. If your primary goal is to create a lap book, though, with just the basic information about a state, you will find the vast majority of what you need included right with this Activity-Pak.

Our Experience with Make-a-State Activity

It has been a long time since any of my kids did a lap book. I actually thought they were too old for them. How wrong I was! It turns out that Mary-Catherine (12) was overjoyed that we got this review. "I love lap books!" she enthused. Since I love Home School in the Woods, between the two of us, we had the makings for a great review. Initially, Mary-Catherine was going to use Texas, our home state, as her lap book state of choice, but then she decided to do Arkansas instead. When this review posts, we will have just gotten back from Daisy BB Gun Nationals in Rogers, AR, and she wanted to learn about the state to which we would shortly be traveling. I gamely went about printing off all of the masters that she would need to complete the lap book, and she set up shop at the kitchen table (which is odd, given that we have a schoolroom table, but upon reflection, it's actually a huge compliment to Home School in the Woods - she didn't consider this school!).

Here is a picture of her favorite mini-book. She was delighted to report that she saw plenty of Apple Blossoms and Bauxite while we were in Arkansas!



Even if your ultimate goal is only to complete one state lap book, you can consider the purchase of this study to be money well spent. While I suppose you could just throw together a Home School in the Woods lap book quickly and be done with it, they are *definitely* not designed to be completed this way (and why would you want to?). These mini books are beautifully designed, and each one takes a fair amount of time to complete.



Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State

Something New from HSITW!

Y'all! Homeschool in the Woods has something brand new! If you have ever wished for just a part of something that this great company offers, you can now order that way. A-La-Carte projects are here! If you're anything like me, when you teach a certain even in history, you may find yourself doing a quick Internet search for a quick activity to cement it (or, you're one who plans way ahead, in which case, what I'm saying will work, too!). These a-la-carte projects are perfect for this purpose! To see if these a-la-carte projects are right for you, use code alacarte at check out to get the Erie Canal project on the page I linked just above for free! I did! It's a great way to try out what Homeschool in the Woods has to offer if you've never tried them before, too.

If you're still not convinced that HSITW is the best hands-on history company out there, click the banner below to read more reviews and see more great projects!

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
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Wordless Wednesday - Daily Mixes

I love seeing other people's music. In fact, when I met Henry and went to his house for the first time, his CD rack was the first place I went. I was delighted to see how many duplicates we had (and chagrined to see all the country). Here's a tiny snapshot of what Spotify assures me I listen to repeatedly:


As I type, Shaggy is playing. A second ago it was Alaska Thunder**** which, if you happen to follow me on Facebook, would explain why I had to go on Urban Dictionary to look something up! Urban Dictionary is not up on drag slang, though. Sad day.

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Review of Fascinating Education's Fascinating Chemistry

Fascinating Education
Fascinating Education has several wonderful options for high school science. Because Nicholas (14) loves Chemistry, I was very happy to have the opportunity to review Fascinating Chemistry. Now, we reviewed Fascinating Chemistry once before when Nicholas was 11, but he didn't do either the labs or the tests at that time. He *did*, however, really enjoy the material presented in this course. He was just beginning his love affair with chemistry at the time, but he couldn't really handle much sophisticated chemistry work. Now that he is on the verge of high school, and poised to do a rigorous high school chemistry class in the fall, I thought revisiting Dr. Sheldon Margulies' soothing voice and clear explanations (this time with labs and tests) would be just right for Nicholas. He was actually quite happy to see this course again! He remembered the format and the presentation of the material and hasn't objected to doing the work (a relief for me).
Fascinating Chemistry
There are 19 lessons in Fascinating Chemistry. Each lesson takes about 45 minutes to complete, and the pace at which you go is completely up to you. A lesson a week is very doable, but that pace can definitely be increased for students for whom it is on the slow side. Lessons include a slide presentation (accompanied by a pdf script, which includes the slides if you so desire), a test, and, for 12 of the lessons, labs. The topics covered include the following:
  1. The Structure of the Atom
  2. The Ionic Bond
  3. The Covalent Bond
  4. The Polar Covalent Bond
  5. The Metallic Bond - Pt. 1
  6. The Metallic Bond - Pt. 2
  7. Heat 
  8. Air Pressure
  9. Properties of Water
  10. The Mole
  11. Gases
  12. Solutions
  13. Chemical Reactions
  14. Orbitals
  15. Molecular Geometry
  16. Electrochemistry
  17. Polymers
  18. The Nucleus
  19. Final Problems

When you open Fascinating Chemistry, this is what your lessons look like. 


When you select a lesson, this is what it looks like.  


The menu of topics within each lesson is along the side, and the topic progress plays along the bottom (the white progress bar next to the pause button). I am calling them slides, but they are dynamic, not static. They are in motion - very important for watching these atoms and molecules come to life!




Finally, the labs menu looks like this: 



The labs themselves are very concisely written up as PDF documents. The labs don't require anything very fancy. The first one that Nicholas did didn't require anything more elaborate than distilled water.

The tests are composed of multiple choice questions drawn directly from the lesson material. Apparently the tests have undergone revision from past iterations, based in part on feedback from past Crew reviews. Yay! Unfortunately, as I indicated, I didn't have Nicholas do the tests the last time he did this course, so I can't comment on the previous tests. What I can say about the tests this time around is that each question is clear and easy to understand, and each question has a hint that you can click right from the question screen itself. At first Nicholas was indignant - "They tell you the answer right there!" but then he was intrigued. He didn't want to *cheat*, but he absolutely wanted to make sure he was getting the right answer. I could tell by his second test score that he definitely wasn't cheating. He got a 70. I told him he had to do it again. It turned out that he knew the answers. I sat with him as he went through the test explanations. He would say over and over, "I *knew* that, but I thought they were talking about the actual size, not the atomic radius." That's life with a 100% literal kid. He can make those explanations/arguments to me, but what's going to happen to him in college? I'll be honest. It worries me. It also makes me grateful for opportunities like this one for no-stakes tests that I can watch him work through and try to explain to him.


Nicholas really does enjoy Fascinating Chemistry. He loves Chemistry in general, and reviewing this material has been good for him. He commented to me, "I've learned this stuff a hundred times!" Yes, dear, but you're still getting the test questions wrong...and his tone wasn't a complaining one. He was just making an observation. Dr. Margulies doesn't ever talk down to students. Ever. He just explains. He teaches. You know how there are some kids who know right away when they are being condescended to and won't stand for it? That's Nicholas. To the contrary, though, he enjoys being taught by Dr. Margulies.
The one thing that I wish were different about this course is having the ability to track Nicholas's progress. Now, when you leave off watching the slides/videos, and then come back, the course does ask if you want to pick up where you left off. If you take a test, though, there is no record of it. So, Nicholas told me that he took the test for lesson one, but there is no record of it. I watched him take the tests for lessons two and three, but when I went back and looked, it just began at the beginning of the test as if everything were fresh and new. I found that a bit frustrating. It's hardly a deal-breaker, but the recording of a score, at the very least, would be helpful.

The Crew was blessed to review this and other courses by Fascinating Education, so if this kind of learning experience sounds like something your children would enjoy, definitely click the banner below to read more reviews.

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}
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