US citizens – Demand the right to know what’s in your food

Think your food labels are complete and honest, even if you can’t pronounce 3/4 of the ingredients?  Think again.  GMOs (genetically modified organisms) developed by Monsanto and proven to cause cancer and other DNA alterations are not required by the FDA to be labeled.

This video does a great job to illustrate the point.  Just don’t let the issue drop there.  After going here to tell Pres. Obama to cut all ties between the FDA and Monsanto, take another moment to write your representatives from the bottom up.  Let them know that not only are you fed up with Monsanto contaminating and controlling our food supply, but that as a human being you have a right to know what is in your food.  It is about time the US caught up with the rest of the world on this matter.

Lastly, do not forget to share your concerns with local grocery stores, family, and facebook friends and tweeters.

To find out more about Monsanto and the damage caused by genetically engineeredfrankenfoods,” or GMOs, go here:

Quality not quantity counts – even with fruits & vegetables

11 yo homeschooler takes on Monsanto

Monsanto’s Dark History  (1901 – 2011)


11 yo homeschooler takes on Monsanto

Nationwide, homeschoolers are rising to wake up our citizens and politicians to behind the scenes corruption in our biggest industries that affect everyone’s daily lives.  Today, we salute 11 yr old Birke Baehr from the Asheville region of NC who does a phenomenal job to prove that homeschoolers are not isolated in social bubbles, but are ready to even take center-stage to get their points across when necessary.

I used to want to be a NFL player.  Now, I want to be an organic farmer so that I can make a bigger impact on this world.  — Birke Baehr, 11

Here he takes on Monsanto – the industrial farming conglomerate with deep ties to the FDA.


To get a clearer picture about the controversy surrounding Monsanto check these out:


Quality not quantity counts – even with fruits & vegetables


Monsanto’s Dark History  (1901 – 2011)

DO YOUR PART to help fight Monsanto!

Click here to tell Pres. Obama to cut $$$ ties

between FDA & Monsanto

(It only takes 20 sec. to sign, 10 to share.)

President Obama makes colleges rethink tuition hikes

I have long ranted about how colleges abuse their monopolization on education by forcing unnecessary tuition hikes year after year.  It had come to the point that I actually touted them as holding our lives for ransom under degrees that are often overestimated in worth and exaggerated in need.


This may seem completely contradictory to my love for learning and ascertainment that “Knowledge is power,” but it simply is not.  One can easily teach themselves how to do virtually anything in our media millennium.  Unless it’s surgery or piloting a plane, & yeah ok, I’ll concede a few other ambitions, most specialties can be honed at home.

While society is a long way from bowing to my point of view, degrees are nearly a prerequisite – although not a reassurance of – employment for now and the future.  Given this, I have already informed my children that 1) yes, you’ll go to college, but 2) there’s no way your father & I can afford it.  At least they have no misconceptions ahead of time and realize that effort, diligence, and scholarship (probably multiples, in fact) will be expected.

However, President Obama did just step up for a startling reality check to the higher education industry:  control your tuition or lose federal funding.  It parallels quite *nicely* with doctors and hospitals overcharging in 1 form or another simply because they know Medicaid/Medicare will cover the cost.  Of course they have to be extra sly, so they will push or exaggerate certain diagnoses like mental illness, diabetes, and heart disease into receiving treatments that have actually been proven to make the problem (or others) worse.

President Obama also addressed the abuse of inflated interest rates on student loans.  I never would have thought when I was in high school that any bank or lender could possibly legally take advantage of someone via student loans.  Thank God I never made it an option for myself, because stories abound of people going bankrupt — yes, bankrupt — for having done so.

Taxes, child support, and student loans are the 3 types of debt that cannot be wiped off your credit report for non-payment.  So naturally when you put this fact together with federal funding, subsidized tuition via grants like the Pell Grant, a workforce that no longer trusts itself to train its workers (read — too cheap to train their own workers), & tuition rates set by the very people paid the highest within an institution of higher learning, then of course abuse would be rampant.

Netflix offers an excellent revealing documentary “Frontline:  College, Inc.” discussing this very matter.  A well-versed viewer gives it 3 out of 5 stars & then comments:

A narrow expose that does not address the broader problem and its root causes. The factors driving the growing demand for advanced degrees – of any kind, from any university – deserve scrutiny. What was once a cost-benefit decision is now a foregone conclusion: You must get a college degree. Like all bubbles, the college bubble has been pumped to excess by societal and market failures. Among these: the societal failure that for many, a public high school education is often inadequate or irrelevant; and the market failure created that distortions in the market for a college education – principally, tax-payer funding – has produced an artificial demand for it and facilitated its costly supply. (In an environment where super-loose monetary policy already encourages malinvestments in education, fiscal distortions are the last thing you need.) This documentary could have focused on the common problems affecting the entire advanced education complex, but instead simply focused on the failings of the latest entrant, the for-profit sector. It could also have cited studies that show that much of the performance gap among sectors is due to differences in demographics. To be fair, this narrow expose still allows an open-minded viewer to see a broader problem and diagnose a common cause. He or she would have been able to (a) compare and equate problems afflicting students and institutions in the private sector system with analogous problems in the public systems, and (b) conclude that misplaced State-involvement appears to be a growing common factor in both systems. Yet, the documentary does not attempt to broaden the discussion or to explore common causes. Worst, in an attempt to speculate about a solution to the problem of private sector colleges, the documentary appears to suggest…even more taxpayer funding funding for Community Colleges. Is this what being educated without learning is about? Humh. Watch instead CATOs online panel Profit from Ivory Towers of 11/30/10.

More information:

Obama to High-Priced Universities: ‘You’re on Notice’

Quality not quantity counts – even with fruits & vegetables

1st I want you to consider a few truths regarding the FDA guidelines or RDA [recommended dietary allowance] of vitamins, minerals, and food group portions demonstrated by the colorful My Food Plate and its predecessor the Food Pyramid.  While the plate does give fruits and vegetables a more prominent division of our diet than grains, it still gives grains a 25% allocation to your meals.  The Food Pyramid had recommended a gargantuan 9-11 servings of carbohydrates in a single day.

Food industry monopolist Monsanto has had their hand in the FDA for a long time.  Grains are cheap to produce & are added to foods like meat that we’d never consider to examine.  They also cause cows to develop e-coli.  Monsanto has “poisoned the water hole” so to speak by putting cancerous chemicals in our food supply, sued family farmers when their own Frankenstein seed contaminated the farmers’ seed, bankrupted many by keeping them in legal limbo, & even caused 1000s of Indian farmers to commit suicide by drinking pesticides.  [click here to tell Pres. Obama to cut the ties between Monsanto & the FDA — takes only 20 sec]

Go here to read Monsanto’s Dark History  (1901 – 2011).

Before my days of behind the scenes nutritional research, back when my kids were toddlers, I would lament how in the world could I fit ~10 healthy carbohydrates a day in & still provide a rich diet of fruits and vegetables.  It became clear quickly that it was an either/or situation.  While I tried to offer a fruit at each breakfast, then at least 1 if not 2 veggies at lunch, 2-3 vegetables at dinner, cushioned with at least 1 fruit snack throughout the day, affordability often gave way to dependence on grains.  At least I did use oatmeal as our mainstay rather than pre-packaged cookies and cakes.  Now if I can just track down organic oatmeal…

When it came to my selection of fruits I relied on unsweetened applesauce, oranges, bananas, and canned varieties.  Wow, have I come a long way, baby.  Out of my choices at least half of them were just plain sorry.  I will give bananas a bit of credit since the 1g of fat in each does help provide their developing brains and nervous system with the fatty protective myelin sheath that insulates nerves.  While it is famous for potassium, it turns out to be an inferior source compared to raw potatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries, and even raw cacao beans (or dark chocolate if cacao is inaccessible to you).

Oranges were a great source (but are also a choking hazard, so beware – helps to peel the inner white linings off to reveal the raw pulp), but the canned applesauce reported zero nutrients.  FRESH raw apples – including chewing the seeds extra well – are, however, superb choices.  Canned fruit (pineapples, peaches, fruit cocktail) is loaded in corn syrup.

Corn syrup (and corn oil) has been linked as a direct cause of diabetes, obesity, and soaring triglyceride fat levels, and cancer.  Quite simply it is so concentrated that it overloads the pancreas in 1 form & chokes out cell walls in the other.  Our family has come to refer to it as “diabetic juice”  and “cancer Kool-aid.”

Which brings to mind another fact:  raw fruits are better sources than juice for the simple reason that juice contains an overabundance of servings, is not fresh unless juiced yourself, and is pasteurized.  On the flip side, freshly juicing vegetables is the most fantastic way to get your quota in without sore jaws and bloat.  The fact that industrial farms have depleted our soils with pesticide and chemical fertilizer use, as well as picking produce green & shipping it cross-country or world-wide means what you’re eating isn’t as nutritious as it could be.  There is no source more superior than locally grown organic foods.

The following video shows why you should be choosing fruits and vegetables with HIGH antioxidant values.  They reduce inflammation which will help clear your skin, fight disease, and heal worn out cells.  Doing so prevents a milieu of life threatening conditions.


Warning signs of dyslexia you may have overlooked

A very comprehensive site that gives us clues or warning signs of the possibility of dyslexia in loved ones will help you arm yourself with tools to remove learning obstacles in both children and adults.  This by no means is diagnostic, nor is a diagnosis a sentence of doom and gloom for one encountering problems.


Contrary to Jack Nicholson‘s famous line, “You can’t handle the truth!” from GI Jane starring Demi Moore, I have always found strength and reassurance in nothing less than the truth.  A problem becomes manageable when all aspects are brought to the forefront because energy no longer has to be spent in useless direction as the source is sought.


So think of this as empowering, not degrading, or even scary information.  Success is meant to be had by everyone, even those with dyslexia, any other learning disability, or unique brainwave patterns.  Follow up any warning signs with professional testing and personalized development exercises.


Symptoms of Dyslexia

Hitting the lesson plan mother lode: a global classroom

I both finished my evening up and began my morning searching for truly helpful, engaging tutorial lessons for some of the most complicated subjects.  Man, did I hit the mother lode.  Talk about synchronicity and the infinite value of the World Wide Web…  Just when I was thrilled to discover some wonderful math sites, a friend of mine on facebook posted a most incredible link to my wall this morning.

I have always said that every child’s education needs to be personalized, and while that is true, until now that has been difficult for teachers in mainstream schools.  Homeschooling parents resolve this, but as their kids grow older with more sophisticated lessons, it becomes very daunting as they wonder, “How can I teach them what I don’t know myself?”  I have always been a strong believer in that an educator doesn’t need to know everything, they just need to how to find the answers to everything.

Khan Academy has connected those dots for all of us.  Better yet — in an unbelievably humanitarian gesture — membership is FREE.  Salman Khan has developed over 2,700 video lessons in all sorts of subjects, and using colored gel pens on a black background, he divides the information up by color as it is presented.  This is the same technique I have applied to teaching phonics.

Besides allowing the individualized progression for each student, you can also track their comprehension of the topics so that you aren’t spending time on items they have grasped.  It also opens up the doors to world-wide collaboration which is something many students miss, especially homeschoolers.  No matter where you are, what your age, or what manner you are educated, when you get stumped on an issue, help is just a networking link away:  social media at its finest.

Khan Academy also encourages anyone savvy in a topic to sign up as a tutor, whether you are a student using the software or an adult just wanting to help.  I’d like to add that he takes a conversational, sometimes humorous, approach to presentation rather than monotonous lecture.  Please watch this full presentation that describes what Khanacademy has to offer, and take special note of the esteem boosters this approach to education has to offer.

Rhetoric Stage Vocabulary

For a full introduction or review on how to approach vocabulary, visit this article.


For the rhetoric stage, continue the notebook format from the logic stage, but begin adding an additional 3 – 5 words every other day that are derived from SAT/ACT college entrance exam prep.  If that is not available, seek the oddest words possible from a dictionary.


Dedicate 3 days/wk to vocabulary/spelling English, then

2 days/wk to English Grammar & foreign language.


Continue adding more complex words parts.  By this time, Latin derivatives are an excellent source.  Not only will they advance their knowledge of biology by doing so, but English along with the Romance Languages are based upon Latin.


The Latin alphabet, together with its modern variants, such as the English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German alphabets, is the most widely used alphabet in the world. Terminology deriving from Latin words and concepts is widely used, among other fields, in philosophy, medicine, biology, and law. — Wikipedia


1 minute per vocabulary word

x 2 times per day

x 3 times per week

+ 4 new SAT/ACT words

& 5 word parts for each study day.

The rhetoric stage involves writing research papers and reading a tremendous amount of supporting factual material.  To prevent overload it works best if we do not expect redundant definition writing.

Instead, try this workflow:

Day 1)  Words should be written once in a subject-specific notebook and then read into an audio recorder if available.  Write 4 new SAT/ACT words & 5 word parts in vocabulary notebook.

Day 2)  Grammar.  Replay words from audio.

Day 3)  Flashcards can then be typed & cut from cardstock or standard typing paper & hole-punched/bound by string or large ring binder.  Add 4 new SAT/ACT words & 5 word parts to weekly list.

Day 4)  Grammar.  Replay words from audio or review flashcards once.

Day 5)  Transcribe all vocabulary words from all subjects into vocabulary notebook by hand.  In later part of the day, take a verbal pretest verified by a 2nd person.  Any that are missed should be studied throughout the weekend (days 6 & 7).  The 1st assignment on the 8th day, or Monday, is a test on the remaining words/word parts.  Any missed should be added to the upcoming week’s study list.

     You should start to see a more mature vocabulary present itself in both formal & creative writing assignments.  If not, begin to make a point to require at least 2 per assigned page of writing.  “Use it or lose it” applies so very often in life. 


Logic Stage Vocabulary

For a full introduction or review on how to approach vocabulary, visit this article.

The logic stage introduces vasts amounts of complicated text, giving the student ample opportunity to keep an ongoing log of ever-developing vocabulary.

The best method is to dedicate a notebook to vocabulary from any subject.  As the student reads something scientific and takes notes in their science notebook, they should include any words they do not understand or do understand, but have not seen before.  These words should then be transferred over into the vocabulary notebook.

Dedicate every other day to vocab/spelling & every other day to grammar.  This is in addition to any fiction/non-fiction writing exercises or foreign language (including Latin).

Grade 5 should be able to handle 10 word parts + 20 new vocabulary words each week.  Remember, any old words that they are not proficient in should be added to the upcoming list the following week.  So naturally the number of words on their list will vary from time to time.

At any point they have 20 old words they have not mastered, an extra week should be taken to sear these into their minds rather than add on new ones for that week.

This pattern should continue throughout the logical stage, adding 5-10 more words expected each week with every year of age or grade level.  A good general rule is to comb through all fiction & non-fiction material while adding any questionable words.  Usually if this is done, the amount will naturally increase with age as their reading not only becomes more complex, but the quantity itself increases.

I like to give my sons the benefit of the doubt until I peruse their list and find it lacking.  The more you do this, the better you will be at spotting a trifling effort on their part.  This becomes an exercise in not only vocabulary, but integrity and humility as well.  It also gives clues as to their general trustworthiness in other arenas of study and aptitude.

Any & all vocabulary notebooks should remain accessible to the student in later grades.  When a 1 subject notebook is filled, it’s a good idea to have them review its entire contents before beginning a new one.

At this age, memorization exercises are best taken in 15-30 minute intervals, 2-4 times a day.  The shorter the attention span, the more often the material should be studied.  Flashcards are a very simple yet profoundly effective tool.  Hole-punching index cards & then binding them with a single large binding ring is a great way to have them ready for road trips or running errands.

More ideas will be discussed in our lesson plan forum, but in general the logic age should be handwriting definitions at least 3 times/week amongst other efforts.

How to approach vocabulary for homeschoolers

There will obviously be some deviations depending on what stage of the trivium your child is in.  No matter what the age though, there are a few consistencies you can rely on.

1)  Vocabulary should come from material the child is already reading or hearing.  This not only saves a huge amount of time for the parent/teacher/tutor, but gives the learner context for them to apply the meaning.

Dedicate every other day to vocab/spelling and every other day to grammar.  This is in addition to any fiction/non-fiction writing exercises.

2)  Word parts = prefixes, root words, suffixes

These can be introduced after your child has mastered phonics, but will continue to be a strong source for decoding new words, especially when they are found out of context and the meaning is not so obvious.

3)  Latin

Admittedly, this is 1 arena that until now we have not emphasized like I wished in our curriculum.  However, it is now a new priority, and thanks to Harry Potter, it’s something my kids are actually excited to tackle.  As a nursing student taking Medical Terminology, the 1st thing that was impressed on us was that all biological terms are Latin.  The 2nd thing was that we didn’t learn whole terms, but rather a series of word parts each week.  We were then expected to piece together these parts to decipher the intricately complicated words that flooded us from every direction.  14 years later, it is amazing how many of these word parts have stuck.  While this is invaluable to your student’s language development, Latin studies should be in addition to English vocabulary lists and assignments.

5)  Quizzes

Weekly vocabulary quizzes are very effective, but rather than ditch the old list when the next week rolls around, keep any words that the child is not confident in to add to the new list.  This may mean that the # varies from week to week, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  These quizzes also do not need to written; verbal is just fine.  In fact, in regards to spelling, verbal is superior.  Go here to find out why.

Once your list is established, there are many methods to approach memorization.  The definitions (along with part of speech) should be written down at least once (if not several times)  in their notebook.   Further ideas will be discussed in our lesson plan venue.

Click on the following links for grade/stage specific tips on mastering vocabulary.

Grammar Stage Vocabulary  (k-4)

Logic Stage Vocabulary  (5-8)

Rhetoric Stage Vocabulary  (9-12)

Grammar Stage Vocabulary

For a full introduction or review on how to approach vocabulary, visit this article.

While I did point out that the grammar stage should be about allowing the child to soak up reading material like hungry sponges with little interference, some memorization is essential for a solid framework.

At this age it is best to work in increments of 5-15 minutes from 1-3 times a day.  So if their attention span caps at 5 min. have them work on it 3 times/day.  If they can study diligently for 15 min. straight, once may be enough.  Always, always use your child’s capabilities as a guide.  No use in trying to fit a square in a round hole.  Work with them, not against them.  This is where flexibility comes in.  Insuring that the work is done is where consistency lies.

Dedicate every other day to vocab/spelling and every other day to grammar.  This is in addition to any fiction/non-fiction writing exercises.

K-2 you should create their list and introduce it as a separate subject.

Grade 3 is transitional for most in maturity and capability.  While they can take on more written work and multiplication, they are also still easily distracted, energetic, and appreciate hands-on work.  This is a good time to approach the student as a partner, allowing their input while still rounding it off with your own, and aiming for at least 10 new vocabulary words each week.

Grade 4 students should show the ability to do the same with honesty and humility, but their list pulled from all subjects should include at least 20 new words along with any past words that they are not sure.

Once your list is established, there are many methods to approach memorization.  The definitions (along with part of speech) should be written down at least once  in their notebook.

Further ideas will be discussed in our lesson plan venue.

Previous Older Entries

Click for Category Search

%d bloggers like this: