Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Dinner (healthified!)





In lieu of my Weight Loss Journal this week I am posting my plans for Easter Dinner. 

It's almost Easter! We here in the Ozarks can see things to bloom. This last weekend we saw my Dad's plum trees beginning their spring journey. This probably means more plum jelly canning for my parents, but we are always happy to enjoy their labors! 

I love that Spring speaks of things reborn and renewed. Easter is such a special time for a Christian. It is a time for Celebration!  Jesus said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  John 10:10

The picture at the top of this page is circa 2002. It is my Easter Dinner table. Josiah was just a baby and our guests were my parents, my little bro and sister and law and their twins. How in the world did we get everyone around that table?

We always celebrate the day with church and family. Easter Dinner is an important part of that time together.  This year is going to be extra special because we will be celebrating my Mom's birthday as well. I won't tell you how old she was but I will say that I turned 32 on my last birthday and she had me when she was 20. 

I realize that some of you are waiting for lightening to strike me where I sit. I turned 32 just recently just a few years back  more years than I care to admit.  

Family holidays are now a little bit more challenging now that I am on my weight loss journey. However, over the past few years I have found that there are plenty of yummy solutions to enjoying a healthy Easter Dinner. 

If you are worrying about how you are going to manage Easter Dinner I encourage you to start planning now. I've said it time and time again. You will have a harder time succeeding if you don't have a plan. 

I should probably apply the same philosophy to my laundry. 

Anyhoo. 

This is what our Easter Dinner is going to look like this year. My mom and I took a peek down in their Food basement this past weekend. They store all kinds of garden produce in a variety of forms. We are going to use quite a bit of their harvest.  I should also mention that I follow the Trim Healthy Mama eating principles. 

Prime Rib - I know! My Little Bro is providing the meat. In years past, we have enjoyed ham, pork loin and even Salmon. I am a big believer in using what you can find for a good deal. Even a Roasted Chicken is a tasty and special choice. 

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash  - This is my alternative to the Hash Brown Casserole.  We will fix a cheesy potato casserole to serve along side for all the kiddos and those who aren't watching their waist line.  It is also nice that my parents have a couple of big Spaghetti Squashes waiting to fixed up.They are what is left of my Dad's fall garden. 

Slow Cooker Green Beans - Another garden dish. I like to cook my beans with onion, chicken stock and just a little bit of ham. I will put these on before we leave for church in the morning. 

Corn on the Cob - Once again another treat from the garden. This corn has been wintering in the freezer. Some of our favorite family dishes involve corn. Instead of the creamy corn casserole we usually enjoy, we are just going to roast this corn and serve with a little butter salt and pepper. I won't be having much corn. I have to enjoy it in moderation. 

Pea Salad - This is my nephew's favorite. This recipe is a good copy of the 
way my mom makes it. Another family favorite is the Broccoli Salad. This recipe is similar to mine, but I don't include cheese or tomatoes. I do add nuts. It's the way I roll. 

It wouldn't be Easter without Deviled Eggs. 

We will also have a few loaves of fresh bread (made in the bread machine). Just because bread is pretty much poison for me doesn't mean everyone else can't enjoy it. If you need bread this your meal you might try out these gluten/grain free Biscuits

I have made it pretty clear that Dessert is always my downfall. This year my Mom requested a Coconut Cake for her birthday. I am not going to even pretend to make it healthier. This, however, doesn't mean that I am not going to fix up a few sweet treats that are on the lighter side. 

I am to please. 

This Light Lemon Cheesecake is perfect for a Spring Day. I am also going to make a lighter version of my favorite Blackberry Cobbler with Blackberry's from the garden. 

I have interesting story to tell about blackberry's from the garden. I wrote about it ages ago. In fact, it only has 4 views. Be a pal. Go read it. Poor little post. 

Here are a few more tips for a Healthier Easter Dinner. If you are part of an Easter Potluck bring a dish that you can enjoy. Stay away from the dessert table or make a small tasting plate. I like to bring fruit to enjoy. A vegetable tray is always good to have around for those of us who have the munchies. 

If you have a hard time staying away from those chocolate eggs considering buying instead a dark chocolate bar. The darker the better. I look for those marked 85% and above. 

So anybody have any wonderful Easter plans? 



A TOS Review: Thick as Thieves

There isn’t a whole lot I like doing better than reading. I was one of those kids with my nose constantly in a book. In fact, my nose would still be in a book most of the time if these people I lived with didn’t have to eat.  I’ve tried to stay up with juvenile fiction not only for only my son’s benefit, but for those kiddos I come in contact with as a children’s minister.

Susan K. Marlow has written several books we have enjoyed. A few weeks ago, I got a chance to review her latest book, Thick as Thieves from Circle C Milestones. I knew this wouldn’t be one I would just pass along to Josiah to check out. He is dyslexic and I wasn’t quite sure if he would be resolved enough to read through a book featuring a 14-year-old girl. 




Thick as Thieves is a Christian fiction book set in the 1880’s.  The story centers on Andrea Carter.  “Andi” (for short) lives on a cattle ranch in California.

I don’t know what you were like when you were a young girl. If you were a young girl, that is. I wanted a horse. We lived on a small hobby farm. Unfortunately, my Dad didn’t see the practicality of a horse. They don’t provide food nor can they weed a garden. This still didn’t prevent my imagination from hoping that my horse was, in fact, being kept in trust for me at my Grandpa’s place in California. Along with my twin sister. I do need to tell you that I don’t have a twin sister. And that my Grandpa would have been even less likely to see the need for a horse than my Dad. He sold cars.



Andi lives the life I dreamed about. She spends her days training her beloved horses and having exciting adventures. More importantly, Andi learns some important lessons about kindness, friendship and turning the other cheek.

One part really spoke to me. Someone did something really cruel to Andi. She could have been seriously injured. Andi's first reaction was to respond with wrath and anger. Instead she let the Scripture she had taught remind her of the correct response. She showed great compassion and ultimately made a difference in someone's life. 

Thick as Thieves is not just a study of Christian character. This book is action packed! Cattle Rustlers! A School-Yard Bully! It has everything that any young person will enjoy in a book. 

I have plans. After Easter, I am going to introduce this book to our Reading Club.  This will be one everyone enjoys.

I was also provided access to a free downloadable study guide with Enrichment activities. It has a variety of activities. I was really impressed with it. It looks like it will add quite a bit to our Reading Club adventure.

This little section covers Idioms. I also love that there are topics that are expounded upon. There is even a timeline for training horses! 


This suggested activity includes writing a dime novel. Perfect for all the budding authors.





I do believe that this is a book I feel comfortable recommending to any of my young nieces, nephews and friends.  I didn’t find anything objectionable or disturbing. There are periods of great suspense. That’s make it even better! There are additional books available about Andi. This particular book is intended for ages 12 and up, but I think young readers (and older!) will enjoy it. 







You can connect with Circle C via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner below for more details. 



Koru Naturals Review



Thursday, March 26, 2015

A TOS Review: Lord Heritage



I currently experiencing an organizational slump. What is this? How in the world did I manage to stay in college or teach school? I’m having a hard time finding matching shoes at this point in my life. My hats go off to all of you mommas who are wrangling more than one child.

Honestly, I’ve tried many different kinds of systems and methods. Some work better than others. Some work when I actually use them. I’m frankly more of a pen and paper kind of gal. I have more notebooks I’m scribbling in than I care to admit. I recently had a chance to review HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage. I was anxious to see if this could possibly be something that would relieve my organizational woes.

HomeSchool Office is a web-based program. It is intended to help the homeschool parent keep track of a child’s education in one location. This is a subscription based product. The cost does not increase with the number of children that need you need to keep track of. Great news for all of you with more than a few!

Initially, it was easy to get on the site. I first needed to create my team. This is helpful for those of us who participate in co-ops, take additional classes, extra-curricular projects or play sports.



My team consisted of the aquatics director for Josiah’s swim team and the professor who oversees a PE class Josiah takes at a local university. I should have listed the family who joins us for our reading club, but I am pretty sure I have her number on speed dial.



HomeSchool Office uses P.O.W.E.R. to keep us organized.

Plan
Order
Work
Evaluate
Report

Plan – Here you enter subjects, schedules, projects and lesson plans for each student. There is also a section for budgeting.

I plugged in each subject I have scheduled for Josiah during this school year. This took quite a bit of time.  If I planned a lesson (or lessons) for that subject I simply clicked on the little tool on the left hand side of the screen. This took me to another page. There I could add lessons to my heart's content. 



Order – Now that you have your plan you can take all that information and schedule your lessons. This feature allows you to set up "to-do lists" and helps you integrate your homeschool and outside activities. 

I really had a hard time with this step. I think I need "organization for dummies." It is basically a calendar feature that hopefully melds all those moving pieces together. 

Work – This looks just like the Order step. However, this one can be shared with your student through a student account or it can be printed out.

I did like the print option. However, I didn't share much with Josiah. He is on a need to know basis! 

Evaluate – Grades and attendance are tracked here. 

We don't do grades on the whole. I keep track of math scores to track his progress. We also don't move on until I feel that a subject has been mastered or at least understood. I do like the attendance portion of this. I have been using a calendar to keep track.Sometimes I can't fine said calendar. You know that is...

Report – This features gives you a variety of options for record keeping. My state doesn’t require a lot of record keeping, but I know some do. There is also assistance for making up a transcript if you have a High School Student.



How Did I Use It?

I love the idea of HomeSchool Office. I think it requires you to really plan carefully and think the school year through. This is especially important for those who are schooling older children.
I also like the idea of having all of my information in one place.

Take for example this lesson plan for Art History. We were studying Michelangelo. I was able to plan out how many lessons I wanted to complete the study in. I also made sure I included extra art projects. I didn’t have to go searching through my notebooks to find my list of resources.


However, HomeSchool Office isn’t something I found very easy to use. Our day is very relaxed. We rely on reading and living books. I spent more time plugging lessons in than I really had time for.  

That being said, there will be many families who will find HomeSchool Office a lifesaver.  I think it would be terrific for those of you who are more structured. I also feel that it would probably benefit a High School Student immensely. 

Lord Heritage is a Christian company which I love! I so appreciate how they have created this program around solid scripture. 

I recommend trying HomeSchool Office out for yourself. They offer a free 30 Day Trial. And as always, please click on the banner below to read more reviews.



HomeSchool Office Review

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Weight Loss Journal: Spring!




It's time for my weekly Weight Loss update. Not that I'm really giving you any hard and fast numbers.

I'm that kind of girl.

It's now officially spring!

This past week was mostly good. I did have a cheat or two featuring ice cream. It is my kryptonite.

This week I want to share with you a couple of things.

I  have been exercising consistently and woosers! I'm paying for it. I hurt all over. Further evidence that I had dropped the ball...or the resistance band....take your pick.

Last night I did 40 minutes on the NuStep.



It is a recumbent crosstrainer. I would love to have one at home, but these things cost almost $4000. It's not exactly in the budget. Thankfully, the Y (both of them here in town) has the machine. If you struggle with joint issues this might be the machine for you. The recumbent bicycle is hard on my knees. The NuStep allows me to get in a good sweat without the impact on all of my cracked and broken bits. 

When I am in better shape I can do the treadmill. However, the NuStep also works out my arms. Which is always a good thing. 

This morning I started off my day with T-Tapp.   I've talked about T-Tapp before. It is a wellness workout that is truly unique. I have lost major inches using the Basic Workout DVD. Don't be deceived by what looks like "harmless stretching." You will be moving parts that you didn't know you have. I have been struggling with some aches and pains...I really need a good chiropractor pop. T-Tapp helps work all that out. It has also helped with some unfortunate posture issues. 

On Saturday, my mom and I took a drive to a Mennoite bulk grocery store. If you have never visited one I recommend you make a trip. Especially, if you are looking for some good healthy basics. 

I can usually get:

Oats (I get the old-fashioned)
Flax Meal (make sure you get the meal! I like the golden meal the best)
Dry Beans (they generally have a good selection)
Baking powder or Baking soda
Specialty flours (almond or coconut flours are usually the same price as in the health food store, but rye and whole wheat is a good deal)
All sorts of spices and herbs
Flavorings 
Popcorn (last time I got some beautiful tiny popcorn...I can't remember the name, but we really enjoyed it)
Chicken Bullion (I get the kind without MSG)

There is so much more to be had, but I stick with things that I cook with frequently. 

This time around I got a huge bag of oats, flax meal, some lovely smoked paprika and a knife. I love looking around the store. They have so many interesting things to see. 

This week my meal plan is based around chicken. I know! I didn't post one, but there was laundry to be done! 

I found a good deal on chicken breasts and then found 2 rotisserie chickens in the deli for 2.49 a piece. Yay! I put one in the freezer. It's a good thing my guys like chikin'. 

Spring is here and I am looking forward to enjoying the fruits of my Dad's labors. He is the gardener extraordinaire. As it we are still eating from last year's bounty. I have a baked pumpkin oatmeal I am getting ready to mix up using pumpkin from his garden. I'll try and remember to share! 

In the meantime, keep moving and enjoy your week!






Thursday, March 19, 2015

Create!




According to the calendar tomorrow is Spring.

I sure hope it means it. I refuse to wear any kind of winter clothing after the first day of Spring. It's my way of shedding off my winter coat (figuratively and literally).

This winter has been particularly difficult for many folks. I, myself, have struggled a bit physically.  I have about as much motivation as a watered down bowl of pudding. Don't ask me exactly what that means. It just sounds dreary.

I recognize that my body isn't behaving the way it needs to...it's fickle that way. And more than anytime I can remember, I have struggled with brain fog. I'm generally a little fruity, but at least I'm always aware of it. I was having a conversation with a friend today. We both agreed that it has been months since we put two intelligent thoughts together. She has five kids. I have Josiah. He's at least worth five or six.

Growing up, I was never allowed to suffer for too long. Mom always dreamed up some sort of project to occupy my time. Even after I was recovering from a debilitating car accident I was constantly introduced to hobbies. I had barely started sitting up when she found a way for me to use my sewing machine from my hospital bed.

True Story.

 I've decided that I need to activate my brain a little bit. I am going to try and create something every day. Other than a mess. Or a good cup of coffee.


Yesterday I made a flower pin and a card for Josiah's Swim Team Coach. She is leaving us (boo hiss!) and we wanted to give her a little something.




Today during our Reading Club I taught the kids how to use Chalk Pastels. I took pictures of them with their pictures for a future blog post. They insisted on taking a picture of me with my picture.


This would be the day I didn't wear make up. Somebody get that girl some eyebrows! And lipstick! I'm also wearing my Little Bro's old Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirt. I don't even know how I got it. I only know he's not getting it back.

We had fun despite my non-existent eyebrows.

I will try and post a few more efforts in a day or so. I don't really have a plan for tomorrow's creative project.

If you have been swimming in a funk of watered down pudding I encourage you to  add something to your daily routine that while inspire or motivate you. Take a walk! Read something encouraging! Create something lovely!


A TOS Review: GPA LEARN





Math tends to be the subject Josiah struggles with the most. This is not uncommon with kiddos with dyslexia. I am always on the lookout for new and creative ways to help him navigate the woes of math. I recently had the opportunity to review GPA LEARN using their online math supplemental program GPALOVEMATH.


As I just mentioned, this is an interactive online program. The instruction is done by an animated character who takes the student through the concept with visuals, examples and more. The program also gives the child multiple paths they can choose from. Along with the math instruction there are practice problems and a quiz. It is intended for grades K-5.

GPALOVEMATH can be played on MS Window or Apple MAC computer; Apple iPad, or Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10”). You can use it with your favorite browsers, Google Chrome (recommended), Apple Safari 6 & 7, MS IE11 and FireFox.

It was easy to initially set up our accounts. The administrator account even has an option for the parent/teacher to test drive a lesson. It allowed me to check out the lessons for myself. 

In fact, I am going to take a little tour through GPA land to show you one of those test drives. I love it that I just don't get a snippet of a lesson. I get the whole show!

This character (aka Abacus) is from the Grade 3 lessons. Each year has their own Learning Coach. 



He not only talks through the lesson, but the script can be found along the bottom of the screen.

This portion is the Instruction portion of the lesson. This lesson track is "Modeling 3-digit Numbers." Abacus takes us through each step of solving a problem. Just a little note. During this lesson, the student is also treated to a little bit of a lesson on our Electoral College. Love it! 

When the student has finished with this slide he or she simply clicks on the green arrow. If he or she wishes to go back he clicks the red arrow. 



After the instruction portion of the lesson is completed it is time to practice.  Take a minute a look at those life preserves on the left of the screen. Those are lifelines. During each practice section the student is allowed 3 lifelines just in case they need a bit of help. Personally, I think this is a great way to learn. Those of us who have always struggled with math understand this! We need to see what we are doing incorrectly at the time it happens. It's an awful feeling to be stuck. 


Now it is time to take the Quiz. I got a perfect score! Girlfriend's still got it... It's good to know that College Algebra paid off.  You might notice, however, it is an 'audited' lesson. Where is my trip to the movies? More on rewards in just a minute. 


An email is sent to the parent every time the child finishes a lesson. I so appreciated this little help! I could see how Josiah was progressing. There were also a few times that it was recommended that he try a particular lesson again.

A unique and handy tool with this programs is that it is rewards based. I got to sign into my account as the administrator and schedule rewards for Josiah. I could pick from a list of recommended rewards or add my own. Josiah’s rewards are as simple as a Dance Off with Mom. I also added a movie and a trip to the Art Museum. One of Josiah’s first rewards was to spend 45 minutes at the park. I’m ashamed to admit this, but we haven’t got to that one yet. He keeps reminding me! At the time he earned it we had snow and ice…I think I’m running out of excuses!


One of the big positives is the shorter lesson length. I think they are completely manageable for Josiah. He tends to get a little vacant and starts planning adventures in his head after a while.

I do think that the program does have a lot of appeal. Josiah requires a bit more ‘hands on’ instruction.  The lessons do allow the student to move along slide by slide and there is a reading option as well as the audio instruction. I think it is a good way to inject some fun into math.

We did have a few struggles initially during our review period. My computer often struggled to play the videos. Sometimes Josiah had to start completely over. He didn’t get credit for time spent on a lesson, unfortunately.

Josiah’s computer was using Firefox at the time. I did download Chrome and I believe it has behaved better. 

 Josiah finished all of his lessons this week without a problem. I’m hopeful that we are on the upswing.  It is really a well-done program and I can see the benefits. 

You can connect with GPA LEARN via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner below to reading more reviews.










GPA Learn Review



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A TOS Review: World History Detective Book 1 (The Critical Thinking Co.)



We recently had the chance to review World History Detective Book 1 by The Critical Thinking Co.



The Critical Thinking Co. produces curriculum that helps students’ critical thinking skills.  This is something I think is really lacking in much of our modern day curriculum.  Simply answering a multiple choice question doesn’t tell me much about what a student is comprehending. Is the curriculum teaching the student to be a problem solver? Can he or she express him or herself intelligently concerning a particular topic?



World History Detective Book 1 covers prehistory, ancient, medieval and early American civilizations. The book is over 360 pages of a variety of activities that encourage the student to use his brain matter.  And speaking as a mom of a teenage boy, I am always hoping that we moving past one word answers and the ‘guess and point’ method of problem solving.  The book can be used as a standalone text book or as a supplement. It is intended for grades 6-12 and includes 78 lessons.

So how does it work?

I want to show you a lesson we currently finished. This one is on Ancient India.

Here is a little bit about Josiah. He is dyslexic. This means that much of what is required reading we do together. I deal with reading instruction separately. I don’t want to limit his education because he struggles with reading the material. However, the World History Detective Bookis unlike any text I have come across.



It divides the material into manageable paragraphs and numbers the sentences. The reading is extremely detailed. There isn’t a lot of fluff to skim through.



On this day the reading is relatively short and we move right into multiple choice questions. Remember what I said about multiple choice questions being mostly ineffective? I usually mean it. This book is much different in the fact that it requires the student to back his answer with the number of the sentence (s) from the reading passage.



That random ‘eenie meenie, miennie moe’ method doesn’t work here. This was challenging for Josiah!  This lesson also has a writing activity (I think all of them do).

Along with the handy dandy maps, timelines are also used heavily in the curriculum. We do love a good timeline. I remember being in school and somehow thinking that all the events I was learning about in the world happened independently from one another; almost like they existed in a different time and space.

My favorite study tool by far has been the concept map. The concept maps used in this book is unique in the fact that they use a word bank. This was so helpful for Josiah.  The concept map let him ‘see’ the important parts of the lesson.



This isn’t a product that I could let Josiah work on independently at this point in time. I imagine that kisd without this kind of reading block would be just fine. Josiah is in 7th grade and very bright, but I think that the reading would still overwhelm him. The variation in the paragraph and reading material is still very helpful, but for him to read back through the material to come to any conclusions on his own is still a stretch. I, myself, loved working through the book with him. We had a good time searching through history together. It does take more time, but it is sooo important!

Just a little note. The early sections talk about Neanderthals, etc. I don’t have a bit of a problem discussing those kinds of things as theory (even though we have a different view). I do have more of an issue when it is presented as historical fact. The sections that dealt with major world religions were very careful to preface any statements with “they believe” or “according to…” I also don’t believe in shielding Josiah against ideas that are contrary to what we believe the Bible says about history. It provides a great discussion.

Overall, this has been a fascinating product to use. We have made adjustments according to our particular needs. I really do think that The Critical Thinking Co. has developed a first-rate product.









You can connect with The Critical Thinking Co. via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews!



Critical Thinking Company Review

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Weight Loss Journal: All About Breakfast





If you currently not a breakfast eater...get ready for me to fuss at you a little bit. I realize that many of you just aren't ready to eat the minute your feet hit the floor in the morning.

I get it.

This is the deal. Your body needs that fuel in the morning to set the stage for the rest of the day. I also find if I don't have enough protein in the morning I am more likely to make unwise choices towards the end of the day. Think of breakfast as the building blocks of your day. Your body needs that energy and all those vitamins and minerals that begin with breakfast.

So you can guess that I am not promoting enjoying a donut or bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast. In fact, I don't do well with cold cereal at all for breakfast. I find that it doesn't give me the healthy boost I need.

As promised, I am sharing with you some of my favorite breakfast choices. If you were expecting to find 30 ways to eat eggs in this post be prepared to be disappointed.

I'm not a fan of the egg. The Muffin and Josiah both love eggs. Eggs happen to be a really terrific choice for weight loss efforts.  I enjoy my eggs more as a sidekick to the main event. I like chopped eggs in a cobb salad or scrambled in a stirfry.

Just another little thought before I share my favorite breakfast ideas. When I first started my successful weight loss journey I ate the same thing for breakfast. Every. Single. Day. I enjoyed my overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal (recipe link below). I had terrific results with that tactic... up to point. Eventually, my body got used to my routines and needed surprising. I had a weight loss plateau to rival all other weight loss plateaus.

Now I tend to choice my breakfast choices based on what kind of time I have and what kinds of meals I had the day before. For example, if I had a carb rich evening meal the night before I will eat a breakfast that is low carb. Because I allow myself a cheat (or two) over the weekends, my Monday morning breakfast choice is always something that will help detox my system just a bit.

Here are my favs.  The star of all my breakfast choices is protein.

1. I love the ease and deliciousness of a muffin in a mug. This yummy Cinnamon Roll muffin uses almond flour. I use flax meal interchangeably. It is cheaper. I also use a whole egg.

2. One of my favorite breakfasts "evah" is to take one of those muffin a mug recipes and make a waffle! It lets me have my waffle fix and not feel guilty about all the extra calories and carbs. I do use a sugar free syrup. My guys love waffles. In fact, we usually have waffles every Friday morning. I generally make up a batch of traditional waffles (except I use 1/2 wheat flour and add some flax meal) for the boys. I just make up one waffle for myself using the muffin in a mug recipe. It takes just a few minutes.

3. For an easy breakfast I use Ezekiel Bread. Ezekiel bread has been a terrific addition to my diet plan. It is much pricier than traditional bread so I had to make room for it in my grocery budget. It only takes a minute to toast it up. I like to smear it with the lite Happy Farms cheese wedges from Aldi's. If I have a sweet craving I use fruit preserves (absolutely no added sugars) or for a savory breakfast I use turkey breast sandwich meat as my filler. If I eat my toast with fruit preserves I make sure I include some yogurt as well.

4. I really love Oatmeal. Did you know that Oatmeal has enough protein by itself for a complete meal? A great recipe is my Overnight Oatmeal. Some folks (some folks like my Momma) have trouble with the texture of this oatmeal. I personally love it. This recipe for a Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal is divine. I use a sugar substitute and almond milk. I have found that this is a really good company dish. I make a oatmeal "bar" with nuts, raisins, sliced fruits and lots of other goodies. Because it is cheap I don't have to worry about running out.

5. Some days there only time for a quick bite. I find that keeping yogurt on hand is key. Don't chow down on just any yogurt. Some of them have enormous amounts of sugar. My favorites are either plain Greek yogurt with sliced strawberries or the Triple Zero Greek Yogurt (Dannon Okios).  Triple Zero contains no artificial sweeteners and lots of protein.

6. Another easy Breakfast choice is the Bulletproof Coffee. Simply take a cup of coffee (8-12 ounces), a Tablespoon of Coconut Oil, sweetener to taste, 1/2 a scoop of whey protein powder (use one that doesn't have a,lot of sugar. Just whirl it up in your blender. I also will add a dash of salt and vanilla extract (or some other yummy flavor). You will be surprised how far this drink take you.

7. Monday mornings are always a good morning for a smoothie. They provide a good detox for my weekend cheat and are an easy way to get everything I need to start the day in one whack. This Green Smoothie is easy peasy. I usually add a little flax meal and/or chia seeds. Sometimes the whey protein isn't in my budget. I just add an extra cup of cottage cheese. I buy cottage cheese weekly at Aldi's. If a Green Smoothie isn't exactly what I am craving I choose another kind of smoothie. The Dashing Dish has lots and lots of delicious smoothie/shake recipes. This Girl Scout Cookie Samoa Shake is delish. Again. I just use extra cottage cheese if I don't have any protein powder.

8. So I told you I wasn't an egg fan. I'm not, but it doesn't mean I avoid them altogether. I just reinterpret them. When I lived at home my mom often made delicious zucchini fritters especially during the summer when we had a bumper crop of zucchini. This Zucchini Fritter recipe is a good one that meets my dietary goals. I also enjoy a good hash. I can't fix it with my first choice; a white potato. If you, too, enjoy a good hash take a poke around the internet for some good healthy hash recipes. I am planning on having some leftover corned beef after St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday so this hash will be one of our morning breakfast meals.

Hopefully, I've given you some good ideas. I would suggest you start trying out different recipes. Maybe try something different at least once a week. Then begin building your recipe list of favorites. What do you like to serve for company? What choices are good for busy and chaotic mornings? Can any of your favorites be made ahead of time and frozen?

Make breakfast a habit. I think overtime you will begin to see a difference in your overall health and weight loss efforts.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A TOS Review: Visual Learning Systems





I love when I get to review a product that makes my job as a homeschool parent much easier! Even better is when that product is something my son enjoys using.



Science has always been a fun subject for Josiah. He is naturally curious and likes to explore the “how and why” of things. We were excited to explore Visual Learning Systems. We received Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and the Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

Visual Learning Systems is a online Science curriculum in the form of a digital subscription. It is divided into four components. They are:

Videos
Animations
Images
Teacher Guides

The Elementary Edition also includes a separate Primary category.

The Elementary and Primary include these science topics: Physical, Earth, Life, and Health.

The Middle and High School Edition covers Physical, Earth, Life, Integrated, Health, and Biology.

I want to share with you a typical lesson and how we used the curriculum.


Josiah is in 7th grade and the lessons he went through were for his particular age range. I loved that we were able to start and wander where we wanted to. We are very much a “Delight Directed” homeschool and it was fun to explore Josiah’s passions at this time in his life. Just a little backstory on the picture above. The day I took it there was snow everywhere! Josiah was just as content as he could be. A few football guys, in his favorite jammie pants and science on the computer!


We are also a documentary watching family.  You can imagine that we were extremely excited to check the videos out.  The middle/high school videos are approximately 20 minutes long. The nice that is that they are also divided into chapters. Josiah could go back and watch a particular chapter if he needed more clarification or just wanted to watch again.

The videos are narrated by a gal with a clear and lovely voice. The videos are also very well done.

 The most recent subject Josiah has been working through is the Earth, Sun, and Moon.
You can see how accessible all the videos are. Josiah has the option to play all of the videos or one at a time. I love this feature! 
There is also a video quiz at the end of each lesson. This might be one of Josiah's favorite parts. He is dyslexic and is often overwhelmed with large amounts of text. He can hear the questions and verbalize his answers. 


The animations are simply computer generated clips that help to demonstrate a concept clearly. The one below is on all the phases of a moon. It is wonderful for all of us visual learners out there. 

I can't be the only homeschool mom on the planet who has ever tried to find the perfect image for some sort of scientific happening and failed. Here are plenty of images right at our finger tips! 



The Teachers Guides are really fine. I don't like to center our homeschool around worksheets per say, but the guides also contain reading selections, tests and hands-on projects. In fact, one of the activities in this particular unit is tracking the phases of the moon. This is currently a project at our house! 



This curriculum does contain some evolutionary content. In our house it just presents an opportunity for more discussion even though we personally believe in creation. 
Personally, I am really thrilled with the quality of the videos and the ease of program itself. I love it when Josiah comes in and tells me something he is learning. We are going to continue our journey with Visual Learning Systems. Josiah has decided he needs to explore the entire Earth unit. 

I'm game! 




If you are interested in exploring Visual Learning Systems there are plenty of opportunities on the website for you to check it out. You can also click on the banner below to read more reviews. You can also connect with Visual Learning Systems via the following social media outlets. 


Visual Learning Systems Review


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