Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Need Projects

Today I was thinking how important it is for me to have projects going to work on. I need creative projects. Other projects are ones I like to do with autonomy. I like freedom. Learning. Exploring.

It is true that for now homeschooling is tapering off. I threw myself into soapmaking and starting a new business. I got obsessive about it. I also ran to it to de-stress. I think doing work or creative projects is a better therapy than drinking alcohol or taking drugs, or smoking cigarettes. I knew when I was doing some things sometimes that I was escaping from the stress, making myself busy to feel good about doing something productive and fun when other things were not going well. Yesterday I had a show whose attendance was supposed to be 3000 but I had less than 60 visitors to my booth. It was dead quiet and eerie. I'm now reconsidering this business venture. Some things perhaps are better left as just hobbies.

I was thinking that this was my last year of homeschooling. And the other day I found out that the private school my grade nine younger son attends may be not offering a grade 10 class next year. I am not letting myself actually ponder on that. So anyway I guess I won't sell off all the high school level curriculum just yet. But honestly, I don't have three more years of nagging, resisting homeschooling mom stress left in me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Four Sciences Not Five

Older son loved conceptual physics when he took various fun homeschool group classes starting in grade two through eight. In spring of his junior year he thought of maybe minoring in college in space physics. He asked to enroll into an algebra based homeschool physics class in grade 12. That would be his fifth full credit lab science class, more than the norm for high school.

In August, two weeks before the start of the class we found out the course changed from a live lecture via online "live screen" class to a pre-recorded video lecture series with solo textbook reading and questions to be answered (with math) on ones own with answers inputted online. There were several open office hours live skype type experiences to discuss problems only. 

We learned from experience that this son's preferred method of instruction is live teacher where the excitement can come through live, and where questions can be asked back and forth. 

The course began and it was confusing. We found out the class was a combination of AP doing trig math and level doing algebra math. So to listen in on the live Q&A sessions was super confusing because he heard stuff he'd never seen before and felt he was doing something wrong to have never seen it before. Once this was rectified a couple of weeks later, it still was confusing to sit as a fly on the wall in the Q&A session with kids doing harder math that he did not have to do.

He began to flounder with the solo textbook reading. This kid is a visual images learner but hates reading textbooks alone and having no interaction with teachers or other students. 

My son also thrives off of discussion with others and peer to peer energy in a classroom. That is why attending community college classes or attending homeschool co-op classes was what he loved doing.

He also realized he does not like physics with math! Conceptual physics was one thing but this is a different animal.

He took that university level intro to engineering class over the summer so he lost some of his summer break to that intense time. That class suffices as a fourth lab science class for homeschool high school. 

Enough is enough. We let him drop the class.

Our family rule is dropped classes are to be paid for by the student.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sunrise Over Bricktown in Oklahoma City

Blast that obnoxious electronic billboard in Bricktown!

I was getting ready to go to the regatta when I decided to peek outside the dark drapes and saw this. I decided to sit and watch it for a while before starting the day.

Our family was in Oklahoma City for my younger son's races in the regatta in October 2014.

Photos taken with iPhone5 and were not digitally altered.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cavender's Boot City Shopping In October

I went shopping at Cavender's Boot City with my seventeen year old to buy him a pair of jeans. I snapped a few photos. Being still new to Texas this western wear, the Texas pride, the funny sayings, and the bling amazes me. I ignore people's stares as I snap pics but honestly could snap for an hour in there. 

Men's Shirts


Women's shirts

Women's Belts

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Teenage Brain Update

I haven't done another chapbook entry because I was thinking that maybe I was giving too much information and it was beyond what was acceptable for pre-publication. There are six more chapters. I decided to do a more brief list and some opinions. I will resume later this week.

The remaining chapters are:

mental illness
digital invasion
gender matters
sports and concussions
crime and punishment
beyond adolescence: it's not over yet

I want to encourage you to read the book, and I don't mean so I can earn a commission if you buy it with the correct exact procedures that result in a commission payout to me. I mean, it's an important book, you should be exposed to all of it, and reward the authors with their royalty payment.

My Product Review: Mega Bloks Assassin's Creed Fortress Attack

Mega Bloks Assassin's Creed Fortress Attack

Star Ratings:

Fun: 3 out of 5
Toy’s Educational Value = 1 out of 5
Durable: 5 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5 = It’s Okay

Summary Statement: If the paper were better then perhaps we could see better

Our biggest complaint is the poorly printed directions. They are frustrating. The paper is cheap quality and matte finish, kind of rough and the ink is too dark. If the paper were better then perhaps we could see better. The  color coding makes no sense, the dots of yellow or blue. The blue dots cover 3 different parts. The lines between each brick are hard to see. From a distance it looks like that square is four pieces but it is many small pieces. This section was so confusing it sucked the fun out of the build.

This is a small wall of a fort and two figures.

The Assassin's Creed theme is liked by my teen but he said it's too annoying.

The coloring of the stone looking bricks is excellent.

Disclosure: I was sent one unit of this prduct to borrow in order to review it on for the Amazon Vine program. I was not paid to write this review nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you purchase this or any product within 24 hours of linking through the Amazon link here I will earn a small commission. Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Author: Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Publication: Thomas Dunne Books

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1250018311

My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5 = I Like It

Summary Statement: Feeling Hopeful

Missing out on great bread has been one of the things that's the worst about living gluten-free which I did under doctor's orders for medical reasons. I've found a box mix for a GF sandwich bread that I doctored up but it's not the same as the artisan type breads with thick crusts, deep flavor and big air pockets. Prior to finding out I needed to stop eating gluten I enjoyed baking from scratch for over 20 years, including bread and artisanal bread using cast iron dutch ovens (I bought four to use all at once)! Learning GF baking is another whole project rife with challenges. Many of the qualities we want from GF baked goods are not possible without gluten.

I have high hopes for this book but after baking two loaves I rate this book 4 stars.

First I don't like the black and white photos throughout, I would prefer color. Even at its price for hardcover I think $5 or even $10 more would be worth it. I own or see other cookbooks in the under $40 range that are prolifically filled with full color images. The black backgrounds in those images mean the images do not pop and they are not visually appealing in any way. See: Weber's Way To Grill which has step by step full color photos on every page. There is a center section of color images but that's not good enough.

I have been using mixture #1. The method is to first mix up a large batch of dry flours and ingredients then to keep that in your pantry. The next step is to only use some of that mix to make a dough by adding the water, yeast and sugar or honey. Then this wet dough is moved to the refrigerator. The recommendation is to use a GRAPEFRUIT sized ball of wet dough to shape a loaf, let it rise one hour, then bake it. The five minute name comes from the prep work on the day of baking only.

There are two flour mixes given and then there is a substitutions list. I made mixture #1 and for rice flour I did a half white half brown combination. Another option in the book is to use cast iron to cook in and since I know that method very well I decided to give it a try. In the photo I shared you can see the results. I learned that when baking inside the cast iron pot, that it needs a longer baking time. The crust stays softer which is the opposite effect of what happens with the gluten bread method. The interior was softer and it was more chewy. The loaf baked on the pizza stone was more golden brown, a harder crust you really had to work at and it had a good texture. However despite the use of yeast it did not puff up high at all, the loaf was an inch high. In order to use a grapefruit sized piece of dough and get a loaf that equals the volume of a typical artisan gluten-loaf you would have to make five or six GF loaves! These first two loaves made with the new dough didn't have much flavor. I am interested to see what happens over time.

I plan to keep using this cookbook with an open mind. I am curious to see when I can make a loaf that looks like the photos on the cover. If I keep having mediocre results I will revise this review to be more harsh and will include the number of loaves I've baked and the different recipes I've tried.

There is a chapter at the beginning for newbies to discuss gluten issues with medical conditions.

I rate the book 4 stars = I Like It because it's the closest thing so far to an artisan loaf of GF bread.

Disclosure: I borrowed a review copy of this book from's Vine program in order to review it on their website. I was not paid to read or write that review nor was I under obligation to blog about it or to review it favorably. If you click through my Amazon Associate link (above), put something in your shopping cart and pay for it within 24 hours I will earn a small commission and I thank you.

Thank You

For purchasing things through my Amazon link. I received over double my normal for August spending which was largely homeschool curriculum for books and things like flash cards that I have reviewed or mentioned on my blog in the past.

I do appreciate it, it's a surprise email I get once a month with the gift card link and announcing how much I earned. I do not look at my statistics during the month, I enjoy the surprise instead. Sometimes I generate a report to see what is being purchased. It is helpful when you buy things for yourself that have no relation to my posts like mobile phones and other big ticket items.

Thanks for your commission gifts to me for the Amazon Associates program.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Product Review: TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router

TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

Summary Statement: Works Great - Easy to Install

This has solved our problem and we now have full wifi on the first floor of the house. (Details to follow at the end if you are curious.)

This was easy to install and a snap to get up and running.

After two years of struggle since moving into this house,  the major company who provides our cable TV, internet and land line phone was unable to get wifi through the whole house. They said, "The problem is your walls. Wifi cannot go through all walls." Give me a break.

We found a solution thanks to an electrician and this router. The cable comes into the house in the attic (a common practice in Houston). The first router we use (not this one) is hard wired to the desk area on the second floor at the top of the stairs. We were unable to get wifi at the bottom of the stairs in the office. Also the room next to that router upstairs (the game room) kept dropping Internet which was a problem for online video gaming with xBox360 and xBoxOne.The internet service to the family room and kitchen was spotty and unworkable and there was no signal at all in the master bedroom. We had been using a cheaper router as a signal extender or amplifier but it still was not enough to let the office get wifi Internet.

We hired an electrician to run hard wire from the attic to the game room TV area and to the first floor family room TV area. We then used this router in the family room to amplify the signal which then reached the entire first floor with strong signal and all bars.

I rate this 5 stars = I Love It.

Disclosure: I was sent one unit of this prduct to borrow in order to review it on for the Amazon Vine program. I was not paid to write this review nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you purchase this or any product within 24 hours of linking through the Amazon link here I will earn a small commission. Thank you.