Embracing a Healthy Family

Math Essentials' Math Refresher for Adults Review

When I thought of having the responsibility of teaching math to my children, I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated as math was never my forte. If you are like me and need to brush up on your math skills, check out Math Essentials' Math Refresher for Adults. Each lesson contains a corresponding video taught by a math teacher, Richard W. Fisher, winner of Intel Innovations in Teaching Award. This book is perfect for ensuring one understands the foundations before tackling the harder topics and for me, that was perfect. I started at the very beginning as although I clearly remembered how to complete those initial problems in whole numbers, I did need a refresher in fractions and beyond. 

Math Refresher for Adults allows the user to start where they need to based on the table of contents. It's broken down in logical order for General Math starting with:

  • Whole numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Geometry
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Word Problems

It's then broken up for Pre-Algebra and Algebra with subtopics to include practice problems, solutions and a glossary.

Every lesson includes Helpful Hints to ensure the student understands the best way to complete a problem. For example, upon reaching a Geometry section, it reminds the student to remember the particular formulas when completing each question. The pages do look busy with a lot of questions and help contained on one page but for myself, it's okay. I used A LOT of scrap paper to answer most questions.

The video lessons that supplement the lessons are very helpful. The author, Mr. Fisher, is easy to understand and presents the lessons in an easy format. He starts out really basic which is good for a regular student utilizing this material for the first time or even a refresher. They are broken into sections so one can skip to the section(s) they need. The online whiteboard helps to visualize as well versus a piece of paper and watching him write each problem. Upon completing the lessons and the videos, I'm going to order Book Two for Middle/High School for my middle child.

This is definitely an excellent course for those that need a refresher for personal or business reasons. It's self-paced and logical in order of presentation. The supplemental video lessons really help in areas that might seem a little foggy as Mr. Fisher does an excellent job presenting the material and encouraging the student along. Since it's self-paced, it also eliminates some of the pressure that a scheduled course might present itself with. I am much more confident in my math skills now and know that my future does not have to be limited by my lack of knowledge with math.

Each lesson teaches the foundation skills required to be successful at algebra. The lessons and review reinforces the topic before moving to the next. As the student progresses, each concept will build upon the other and this curriculum teaches it in an ideal manner for success.

To learn more about Math Essentials, check them out on FacebookMath Refresher for Adults is only one product available as they also have curriculum for younger students.

To see what others with the Crew thought, click the box below:

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}

Adagio Tea: Earl Grey Bravo, Irish Breakfast, Dr. Who Rory Williams, Earl Grey Lavendar & Chamomile Review

Disclaimer: I received a gift certificate to sample teas in exchange for my review.

It’s summertime and with summer, comes a lot of iced tea. A true tea lover will consume tea hot or cold and anytime of the year. I’m, surprisingly being half British, am not a tea drinker but my husband is. He had been talking for months about wanting to get a tea pot and start drinking tea again. This was the perfect opportunity to get him on the path to what studies have shown is a healthy path to wellness. Many studies have shown some teas are good for you which is why when I was provided the opportunity to try some of Adagio Teas, I was more than happy to oblige. I surprised him with a variety of different loose leaf teas and actually received some samples. Given that I’m not a tea consumer, I had no idea how to make loose tea but it was easy to do and I was surprised at just how little it takes to make a single cup of gourmet tea. I did select the Glass Mug and Infuser set to get him started.

This was the perfect set as it’s an all in one set up with a convenient lid that when turned upside down, the stainless steel infuser can be tilted to allow all the tea to pour out from the bottom and then be placed inside avoiding any mess. It’s easy to clean and since it’s glass, I can place it in the microwave without worry. The handle stays cool while the tea steeps. The children even have fun watching the tea “dance.” The mesh design kept the tea leaves inside the infuser allowing him a quick delicious cup of tea.

He's writing his thoughts on the Earl Grey Bravo Adagio Tea Blend on one of the kid's placemats :)

He started out with the Earl Grey Bravo tea and each packet contains instructions on how much to use which was good for me since I had no idea. He said the tea had the perfect blending of the citrus flavors and was refreshing during an afternoon of relaxation.

The Irish Breakfast is a hearty blend of black teas from Sri Lanka and India. It had a spicy aroma and provided a good kick to get moving in the morning.

My husband is a nurse and works second shift so when he comes home around midnight, he’s still trying to wind down. Each night, I’ve been preparing a cup of Chamomile for him. He says it works and helps him to fall asleep faster. It’s from the Egyptian Nile River Valley and has an aroma of apples and the soft scent of the floral-sweet flowers.

He’s a big Dr. Who fan so I couldn’t resist the Rory Willams Pond that is a signature blend that has a real kick of caffeine. It’s a nice blend that did pep him up a bit. He did enjoy this blend as well.

Next on our list was Earl Grey Lavender. This was a sweet soothing blend of the fragrance from lavender flowers. It's been combined with Earl Grey's classic blend of citrus and a hint of cream. The Adagio website lists it as blended with black tea, lavender flowers, orange peels, blue cornflowers, natural vanilla and Bergamot flavors along with natural cream flavor. There is a notation that it has a high level of caffeine as does the Rory Williams Pond. This was a favorite of my husband's.

Why choose Adagio?

  • There are many many different blends of teas available whether you prefer loose leaf tea or teabags to include iced tea blends.
  • Tea of the month club opportunities for the tea lover who likes variety or to give a gift to the tea lover in their life.
  • An array of teaware to brew the perfect cup of tea no matter where or the size of the tea desired.
  • Gift options range from Father's Day, Tea Samplers, Wedding Favors, Zodiac Gifts, Flavor Trilogy, Loose Tea Gifts to Tea Gifts.
  • Tea Pantry provides complimentary products such as honey, tea cookies, tea sugar, tea mints and spices.
  • Free shipping on orders over $49.
  • Sign up for discounts and specials.

Now when my girls and I think of tea, we think of our British heritage as I'm half English so tea time is time for fun! We also are big fans of Downton Abbey and learned a lot about tea time and the importance of tea watching that show. Having a tea party is a great way to have some summer time fun with your children. Here is one of our's:

Overall, my husband really enjoyed each of the blends of tea. His favorite was the Irish Breakfast Blend. We will be return customers as the process to order was easy and fast and the extra details shows Adagio Teas cares about their customers. The inserts explaining where some of the tea blends originate from was educational not only for myself but also for my homeschool children.

To learn more about Adagio Teas, check out the following social media sites they have:

Littlest Pet Shop Birthday Cake

My just turned youngest decided she wanted a Littlest Pet Shop cake and themed party. Normally, I would have planned out a pretty nice party but this year, I didn't mostly because she changed her themes at the last minute. She's been exploring film making of late and has been making little short videos for YouTube with various Littlest Pet Shop characters as the actors. This is another fun way where homeschooling can creep in without a child realizing it. She's been making one after another and each one gets better as she learns new techniques and hones in on her script writing.

I mostly wanted to share the cake as my eldest made it for her by hand which I think is the sweetest thing ever!

Bible Study Guide For All Ages Advanced and Beginner Level Review

My youngest is most interested in learning more about the Bible and she has a pretty big influence with her niece and nephew, ages 7 and 3. I usually partake in any offerings of Bible based educational opportunities so when the opportunity to review Bible Study Guide For All Ages, I jumped. I chose both the Advanced (5th and 6th grade) and Beginner (3-K) Levels for this review. 

Advanced level is for grades 5th and 6th which includes:

  • Advanced Student Pages
  • Advanced Teacher Key
  • Bible Book Summary Cards

Beginner level is for grades 3 - Kindergarten and it includes:

  • Beginner Student Pages
  • Beginner Timeline

There are also two more levels, which we did not review, and they include:

Intermediate for grades 3rd and 4th:
  • Intermediate Student Pages
  • Intermediate Teacher Key
  • Bible Book Summary Cards

Primary for grades 1st and 2nd:
  • Primary Student Pages
  • Primary Teacher Key
  • Bible Book Summary Cards

The program is expected to take around four years to complete but for our review, due to summer, we completed around 10 lessons.

For my oldest, we used the Advanced Level which provides interactive activities that not only challenged her but also taught her a lot about the Bible. Memory drills, referring to the timeline, maps and using her Bible reinforced areas that she may not have been familiar with nor even noticed had it not been for the lessons. The curriculum itself mentions on their website that the Advanced Teacher's Key is helpful for large groups but with one or two students, it's not a necessity. Even though I was only teaching two, I was happy to refer to the Key and was glad it was provided. 

The Bible Book Summary Cards, Children's Songs and the Wall Map and Timeline Sets are not required for the curriculum but they are referenced and I think quite helpful to supplement the learning experience. 

For the Advanced Level, it's broken into four units with multiple lessons per each unit. For example, Unit 1 covers Joseph, Daniel, Jesus' early life and first year of ministry, Adam, Noah, Job, Moses, Joshua and Jesus' last week. Each lesson, one page per lesson, is at a length that allows a student to self learn or can be taught. The entire Bible Study Guile encompasses 416 lessons and is meant for early childhood to adult. It covers both the new testament and the old testament.

The pages are legal size making it a bit odd to store for the next usage. I think the page size is neat for younger students, however. Each lesson is lightly glue-bound allowing the student to easily tear a page out.

Each lesson includes:

  • Remember It provides an opportunity for the student to really study the Bible. At the top of each lesson, there is a reference to read passages that correspond to that lesson. The student then can answer each question and check their answers at the bottom of that section.
  • Memory Workout helps to reinforce what they have already learned.
  • Guess What is like a tidbit or a factoid of information that I feel was made to be fun and/or educational.
  • Time Line allows the student to further study the Bible and understand how it fit into the timeline. Many historians will agree that in order to fully understand the historical significance of an event or topic, you really have to know when it occurred.
  • Apply It provides another opportunity to utilize the knowledge they learned.
  • Get Active encourages the students an opportunity to pray and talk to God.

The Beginner Student Pages are similar to the Advanced Student Pages in the set up. The main difference is they are geared for the younger mind and have more coloring as what child doesn't like to color? 

The way we approached the Beginner Student Pages were to follow the order of each lesson:

  • Learn the Basics which referred to the timeline (see the wall cards on the picture above). 
  • Sing and Remember and each numbered item has the answer under that section.
  • Get Active is just as with the Advanced Student Pages in that it teaches the young minds on how to communicate with God.
  • Apply It is the same as the Advanced Student Pages in that it's ensuring the student will remember what they already learned.

The Beginner Timeline
 Both of my students enjoyed the program especially the length of each lesson. The lessons have what I feel is the right amount of information to really study the specific areas of the Bible and encourage retention. This is more than just reading as with each of the activities and practical application, it encourages the student to comprehend and really think about what they learned. The Beginner Timeline, for ages 3-K, includes 34 full color pictures on card stock. Each picture contains a question thus teaching the young student one simple fact about the Bible's major people and events. The Bible Book Summary Cards and fun to use flash cards. Each card has one or more pictures from the Bible that represented a main content or message. When it's turned over, the student will be able to read a brief description of what was on the front. These cards are referred to in the Primary, Intermediate and Advanced Level Student Pages.

Bible Book Summary Cards

Overall, I would recommend the Bible Study Guide as it was educational and it was more profound than just reading passage after passage. It encouraged thinking and independent thought which is important to me. While diving into the Bible, it also taught and engaged them into really feeling they were communicating with God.

All the Bible Study Guide for All Ages products include:

Advanced (5th & 6th grade) - Advanced Student Pages, Advanced Teacher Key, Bible Book Summary Cards
Intermediate (3rd & 4th grade) - Intermediate Student Pages, Intermediate Teacher Key, Bible Book Summary Cards
Primary (1st & 2nd grade) - Primary Student Pages, Primary Teacher Guide, Bible Book Summary Cards
Beginner (3-K) - Beginner Student Pages, Beginner Time Line

To learn more, follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}

The Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook by Mandy Sacher Review

The Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook by Mandy Sacher is a hard cover nutritional guide with more than 140 family-friendly recipes. It is a comprehensive book that includes a forward from a doctor and input from experts to include nutritionists, a pediatrician and lactation consultant, a clinical and developmental psychologist, a speech and pediatric feeding therapist and a clinical neuropsychologist as well as a dietitian.

The book is indexed by different topics from a forward, an introduction, guide to using the book, conversion tables, addressing fussy eaters, shopping, cooking and kitchen essentials to properly prepare for the wholesome way to eat and various steps in converting to healthier eating. It finishes up with menu plans, a bibliography and resources and an index. Initially, my first thought on the book was it had a nice engaging colorful cover with two children drinking from a playful canning jar and a colorful straw. When my seven year granddaughter saw it, her first reaction was, “oh! What’s this?” To me, this is already a win because she’s interested and she really enjoys helping in the kitchen and likes to peruse recipes. Since this book is geared towards children, it’s already a win  as it captured her attention. 

The book is designed for ages one through six although it is noted that any age child would benefit and possibly be inspired by the recipes. Traditionally, younger children and the most difficult of eaters and in many families, such as mine, it continues to older ages as I have very resistant eaters at the ages of 11 and 14. The author notes that the best way to incorporate change is in incremental stages which is very true if you have kids already or even if you have ever tried to diet with a radically different way of eating than you are used to. Small changes can move mountains and this is the same with changing our taste buds and what we find is good after time.

I have many many books from good old fashioned books that I can touch to ones that are electronic on my Kindle. I have many genres and I do have a lot of nutritional books and from all the ones that I have read, this one is extremely helpful and it truly is comprehensive. For those not experienced with such a diet, I would advice taking some time to get to know the book. When you are armed with knowledge, it is easier to adopt a change such as this. Reading the book will provide the confidence needed to move forward in a positive manner helping to ensure success. You can invite your child(ren) to help make the recipes as well to encourage pride in their work making the success of them eating and liking the food better or at least that is how my children and grandchildren are.

One thing I noted, early in the book, is the fact that the author supports turning to the diet to get the required minerals and supplements before turning to supplements. I have been saying this from the start with my husband who is a supplement addict. Whatever nature provides, one cannot go wrong. I try to stick with that first and man-made second. The section on Essential Vitamins and Minerals is really good. The chart is easy to read, it’s broken down by the essential ones we are all used to reading or hearing about and includes dosing/amount required, what function it performs for our bodies and how to obtain them within our diets naturally.

One of my favorite sections is on fussy eaters. She addresses many areas to include training early taste buds and how if you get them used to eating natural foods early instead of refined (addictive) refined sugars and other non-natural ingredients, they will be easier to continue on the path of wholesome foods. I’ve been on and off on the ketogenic diet and I know from my own experiences that once refined foods are eliminated from the diet, real food tastes better, I feel better and I have much more energy. The first ingredient on a label should not be sugar or three other types of sugar products. The author provides strategies and knowledge in addressing fussy eaters versus possible underlying causes preventing them from eating certain foods. My daughter was born with a lactose intolerance and cried and cried for the first couple of months of life. The pediatrician at that time only advised changing brands and it was upon my own desperation for relief that I tried the lactose free formula and a magic switch was turned on. Until this day, I feel guilt over what she must had endured in pain and discomfort.. My other daughter, 11, has dairy issues as well and have had a host of digestion discomfort. This book addresses issues such as food allergies, sensory issues and more providing the parent a chance to possibly understand that it may not just be a fussy eater issue. .

Another favorite section was baking with different flours. Given my own diet, I’ve been baking with almond and coconut flours. This section taught me some key facts about each flour to not only benefit my own diet but to understand the recipes and why certain flours are used and how they are used. There is even a section on preparing to go gluten-free which is becoming a bigger health interest of late in the States.

The recipes are accompanied with beautiful photographs of the final product. They are inviting and tempting. Each section will guide the parent/caregiver into making the transition in an easy to follow non drastic manner. The section on reducing sugar is a big one for me. Sugar is in too many products as I noted before, the main ingredient in a product should not be sugar and other sugar type products. To think that in one can of soda, you or your child will be consuming 10 teaspoons of sugar!

The recipes are also sectioned with the focus being on the particular step. Such as in the chapter of reducing sugar, there will be recipes for muffins, rolls, frosting, cupcakes, cake pops and more. The chapter on Vegetables have amazing looking recipes for items such as Beetroot Bliss Balls or Sweet Potato Pancakes. Supercharged Bolognaise or Sweet Potato Pizza are all fun ways to add more vegetables to the menu without making them boring. I will not say that cooking and baking with more wholesome ingredients is easy as it’s not. It does take time and it is more expensive than grabbing the frozen entry from the frozen section in the grocery store but when you are considering your health and your child(rens), it’s worth it. In a short time, the routine becomes easier and faster and you might even find some of your own interesting twists!

Overall, this is an excellent book introducing the audience to many facets involved in wholesome eating. From the various topics I noted above to other topics such as swapping to whole grains, It provides a firm foundation in understanding the why’s of switching the way we eat. The tips and strategies are top notch and doable. This will not only benefit children but the whole family in my opinion. I could address every section of the book but it would turn my review into a book! This is a must have for anyone wanting to change their children’s diets into a more wholesome healthier way of eating.

Stay tuned as we try some of the recipes and share them!

About the Author:

Mindy Sacher’s brother, Dr. Paul Sacher, provided the forward in the book. He has been a specialist pediatric dietitian and nutritionist for twenty-one years. His work has seen the effects of poor diets on children not only relative to weight but also in health. Mandy, a nutritionist herself, really became mobilized upon the birth of her son. Knowing what food labels really meant, she decided she was going to ensure her son had wholesome foods and not refined sugar and preservatives along with a host of other unhealthy ingredients. She started making her own baby food and moved forward with other endeavors that reinforced the public’s interest in Australia for healthier food choices for children. The idea behind the book came about in the realization that there were not any comprehensive addressing nutrition and strategies to change children into healthier eaters.

For more information, to include monthly newsletters, a free menu planner and more, click here on The Wholesome Child link and to purchase, click here.

This book was provided complimentary and I agreed to a no obligation review.

Cave Tools Instant Read Digital Thermometer For Cooking Review & 15% Off Coupon Code

Note:  We have been provided a product in exchange for our review.

Anyone who bakes and cooks understands the importance of a good thermometer. We do a lot of baking in our house to include using the BBQ and the smoker. We have had a couple of different thermometers but decided to give the Cave Tools Instant Read Digital Thermometer a try given how much we've liked the other products we have reviewed from Cave Tools. As always, it didn't let us down and this one has features that none of the other ones we have had such as the ability to read instantly, fits in the pocket with a nice pocket clip on protector case and re-calibrates itself. When the battery wears out, a simple watch battery is all that is needed to replace it. The large digital display was my favorite too as you can see in this picture, it's quite easy to read:

The 100% stainless steel design is shatterproof and waterproof ensuring its durability. My main smoker "worker" is my son-in-law and he was very happy with the thermometer. He was able to smoke two delicious pieces of pork and it was smoked to perfection thanks to the Cave Tools Instant Read Digital Thermometer. It's easy to wash and easy to store.

To purchase, visit either Cave Tools Instant Read Digital Thermometer on Amazon or on the Cave Tools page.

To save 15%, use code LH58KB66

Interested in our other reviews? Just click the link to learn more:

Cave Tools BBQ Grill Light

Cave Tools Smoker Box for BBQ Grill Wood Chips

Cave Tools Meat Claws

Beer Can Chicken Roaster Rack

Summer is finally here and it's a great time to get your grill and smokers fired up!

Hake Publishing Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 Review

Hake Publishing Writing and Grammar

In our latest learning endeavor, we discovered and wanted to introduce you to the homeschool grammar program from Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3, from Hake Publishing. This is a three book program separated by concise lessons introducing children to what I found is the just the right amount of material per lesson. The set includes a consumable textbook for the student, a teacher's guide and a writing workbook. It is a comprehensive English language arts curriculum that emphasizes writing, vocabulary development, spelling and grammar all in one. Instead of separating each one into long boring lessons, it is built into the one program making learning it more fun especially for the student that likes to write like mine do. Within the examples and exercises are what they call Core Knowledge® content from other subject areas so the student is also learning other facts. 

As I learned, some of the grade levels have a special emphasis such as the fourth grade curriculum covers insects and animals while the fifth grade curriculum covers the fifty states which I think is pretty cool!

Hake Publishing

The helpful optional guidelines in teaching the Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 include:

  • Beginning class:  each class begins with a dictation or a journal entry which the journal entry is my student's favorite. The nice part of this curriculum is the parent/teacher does not have to sit over their student to start each lesson. If you keep a routine, the student will know, based on the optional guideline, every Monday is dictation to prepare for the test on Friday and so forth. 
  • The dictation is read the first day of each week noting the grammar and punctuation marks. On Friday, the parent/teacher reads the passage to the student and they write it using the grammar and punctuation they remembered.
  • Journal topics only require about five minutes of time which my student liked even though she enjoys writing, she doesn't want to spend a large chunk of her day writing. These are done on days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Grammar lessons should be taught in sequential order as this is how it is presented. The student needs to understand and build on their knowledge for the next lessons. There are some optional "More Practice" sections for some lessons furthering their understanding of the material presented.
  • The Grammar tests are given after the completion of every five lessons. They are short and only consist of twenty-five questions so the time is just right. There is a suggested schedule for teaching the lessons in the beginning of the Teacher's Edition.

"I really like this!" <- Those are words any parent/teacher wants to hear!

Every now and again, I will come across a curriculum that my children like and this was a win for her. I am going to purchase another set for my other child given how easy it was to teach my youngest. My middle one watched me teach the younger one and said she would like to try it too. 

The lessons are not long either. They are just enough to reinforce what they learn and to ensure they comprehend and understand. This is a "More Practice" page to give you an idea:

This is one of the test pages:

Overall, it's a very good curriculum in terms of length of each lesson, speed in how fast you want to cover lessons as there are suggestions but ultimately, it's up to the parent/teacher on the timetable for teaching and I really like how each lesson includes vocabulary words, Latin and Greek root words. Another key component that I liked is how it encourages students to write in a concise way and not to use too many words. As a writer, many new writers make the mistake of trying to incorporate words to add to the word count without adding real value to the sentence. This is good to teach at a younger age that in order to get the point through to your reader, it's better to be concise and not too overly wordy. 

Another topic that is covered is types of writing. For example, in Lesson 11, the student learns about Persuasive Writing and after they complete that lesson's assignment, in Lesson 12, they learn to evaluate their persuasive paragraph which is another good habit to get into of proofing a paper before considering it final. 

It really is a comprehensive Grammar and Writing curriculum that I'm glad I had the opportunity to review. It does take a little time to get used to where everything is contained within the three books. I think I would have preferred some tabbed areas to have found everything easier. Again, it's a very minor inconvenience and I will be purchasing copies of the older grades. All the Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing grades include:

  • Grammar and Writing 3
  • Grammar and Writing 4
  • Grammar and Writing 5
  • Grammar and Writing 6
  • Grammar and Writing 7
  • Grammar and Writing 8

Click below to see what others in the Crew thought about the curriculum: 

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}

Nike Missile Site C47 - Porter County, Indiana & Contaminated Soil

What is technically Hobart, Indiana, yet very close also to Portage, Indiana, is an abandoned Nike Missile Site known as C47. Off a rural road protected by overgrown brush and trees in spring, summer and fall, one can find the remnants of what is left behind. From deteriorated buildings marred with graffiti to the remains of elevator doors and bunkers, it's an interesting site. The Nike defense system erupted in response to the Cold War era across the United States. They were radar guided anti-aircraft missiles aimed at protecting populated cities. The ultimate plan was to curtail any attack from ever occurring. There is one renovated site available for public viewing and it's in California. This helps to explain the system in detail:  https://www.nps.gov/articles/nike-missile-site-c47.htm

This is the map of each building or structure of importance:

These are comparisons of how they were years ago versus now:

Even though the facilities were all closed, the remains still haunt the areas they once were built to safeguard America. The bigger question remains is what was left behind especially in those water filled bunkers like the one on a lowly little country road in Porter County, Indiana? A news story from the Chicago Tribune helped answer some of that in fact, there was chemical contamination on the site that is very slowly moving into the ground water. It is being monitored and it is claimed there is no risk to people as of yet. A remediation plan begins August of 2019 that will include limited excavation to remove some soil and they will mix it with other soil that will have chemical amendments to treat the contamination. This worked in a pilot study so they have hopes it will work for the entire site where contamination occurs.

The article can be found here.

More photos: