Sunday, August 29, 2021

Enjoy Simple Eats as You Celebrate St. Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio's feast day is coming again in a few weeks, so I thought I'd share the simple eats we enjoyed last year in case you and yours would like some inspiration for living the liturgical year in your domestic home.

Sometimes the kids like dessert with the meal - and this was the case on St. Padre Pio's day when gluten-free donuts remind us to "pray, hope, and 'donut' worry."

Treat #2 was gluten-free, casein free pizza, which reminded us that Padre Pio is from Italy.

Alongside that, because we have both vegetarians and meat eater in the house, there were Italian sausages of both kinds.

Then, to balance out the treats, we had a "stigamata salad".

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The table was simply decorated with a peg doll and two books.  We used the St. padre Pio page in the frist of these, Boy Saints for Little Ones, for me to draw quick saint trivia question ideas from.

Then, we reread the St. padre Pio story in the other book, Stories of the Saints.

It was a simple celebration, easy to throw together and enjoyed by all!

What simple - or more extravagant - eats do you and yours enjoy on Saint Padre Pio's feast day? what other traditions, stories, or resources do you tap into? We always welcome new inspiration and ideas!


May you have a beautiful St. Padre Pio day when September 23 rolls around.

St. Padre Pio, pray for us.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Enjoy Super Simple Eats for St. Therese's Feast Day


Our local homeschool group is called Little Way Home Educators and is under the patronage of St. Therese.

So, more years than not, we celebrate St. Therese's feast day with others - sometimes "all out", sometimes simply.

Last year, we stuck to simple, gathering with just a few friends, where we enjoyed praying, sharing simple eats, chatting, reading together, and more.

For our celebration, we covered an outdoor table with a floral print tablecloth and had a bouquet of little flowers atop it all, of course, pointing to The Little Flower and her way of doing small things with great love.

Our simple eats consisted of French bread (to remind us that St. Therese is from France), plus produce and chickpeas arranged in "little flower" patterns.

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The book Girl Saints for Little Ones became both a table decoration and a jumping off point for a chat about St. Therese.

Then, the St. Therese reading from Around the Year Once Upon a Time Saints prompted thought and discussion as I read it aloud to the children while they devoured snacks.

It was a simple, enjoyable celebration.

Perhaps it will inspire you in living the liturgical year with your own children or homeschool group.

St. Therese, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The World Needs More Logic... Start Teaching It at Home {A Homeschool Review Crew Review of The Fallacy Detective}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Woah! Propaganda. Coercion. Social media memes. Mob mentality. Personal attacks. Lack of common sense and reasoning. These days our world seems plagued by such things which make uncovering - and arguing for - truth difficult. That's where The Fallacy Detective by Hans Bluedorn comes in. 

A handy 250+ page softcover workbook edition of The Fallacy Detective can easily help you learn to spot common errors in reasoning so you can arm yourself against the lack of logic in today's world and suss out truth in conversations, news reports, social media posts, commercials, and elsewhere - including your own arguments.

Plus, if you are like me, the book can become  inspiration for an upcoming co-op course.

What is a Logical Fallacy?

"What is a fallacy?" you might ask.

If you are unfamiliar with the term "fallacy" it simply means an error in logic - a place where someone has made a mistake in his or her thinking.

Fallacies include:
  • avoiding the question (red herrings, special pleading, ad hominem attack, genetic fallacy, tu quoque, faulty appeal to authority, appeal to people and straw man)
  • making assumptions (circular reasoning, equivocation, loaded question, slipper slope, part-to-whole, whole-to-part, either-or)
  • statistical fallacies (generalization, analogy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, proof by lack of evidence)
  • propaganda (appeal to fear, appeal t pity, bandwagon, exigency, repetition, transfer, snob appeal, appeal to tradition, appeal to hi-tech, etc.)
How Does the Book Teach about Fallacies?

In its 38 chapters, The Fallacy Detective introduces you to to the faulty tactics of avoiding the question, making assumptions, statistical fallacies, and propaganda using a clear, conversational tone, engaging illustrations, comic strips and witticisms, multiple exercises, summary pages, an answer key, and even a game.

The exercises present bits of conversational snippets, newspaper articles, advertising samples, and short headlines. 

The game has you making up your own fallacies and winning points for creating the best ones.

The summary pages act as a quick reference and review.

Together, the content of the books help you strengthen your skill at sifting through a barrage of bad reasoning and falsehoods so you can better discern truth in today's world.

My Approach Thus Far...

Shortly after receiving my review copy of the book, I admit, I did something I do not usually do with materials I am reviewing: I hid it!


Because as I began reading the material I knew immediately that I want to use it for a co-op class I will be teaching this fall, and, thus, did not want my youngest son (who will be in the class) to see the book, get curious, and read ahead. Nor did I want my older two children to spoil the fun their little brother will have debating the exercises with his buddies in co-op by pre-debating them at home.

So, instead of having my kids use the resource  before writing a review on it, as I often do with resources, I, instead, secreted the book away in my bedroom and snuck it out in the early mornings and late nights to read through, appreciating that it could be read in short snippets - due to chapters being only a few pages long, quizzing myself with the exercises, enjoying how the included comic strips get points across, and deepening my understanding of informal logic before I set about teaching it to a group of 10+ year olds. 

I am now excited to present the brief, conversational, yet to-the-point lessons to my co-op students this fall and, even more so, to engage them in discussing the exercises and related examples of fallacies that we find in every day life and media. 

I also intend to offer the book to my older two children to use as part of their high school credits. For, I believe The Fallacy Detective is a solid tool for  teaching kids (and adults!) how to recognize bad arguments, propaganda and falsehoods - an increasingly necessary skill in today's world! 

Final Thoughts

I love the ease and appeal of 
The Fallacy Detective and am excited for the conversations that will develop from it in our fall co-op and home studies.

I would recmmend 
The Fallacy Detective for:

  • middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults who seek to better understand sound reasoning as they seek and share truth.
  • students who wish to work independentally. (As I have experienced, the format is conducive to self-study and self-checking of answers. It could also count for 1/2 to one credit for logic or critical thinking, depending on how it is used by higschoolers.)
  • families who like to learn and discuss together. (The short lessons and easy to read aloud exercise format would make this resource wonderful for reading aloud and discussing thoughts as a family.)
  • teachers of co-ops and classes. (Lessons are dsigned for both private and classroom use.  I, personally, cannot wait to share this resource in an upcoming critical thinking and speech class at co-op!)

All that said, I would not recommend this book to you if you are looking to learn about ins and outs of formal logic - such as syllogisms, scientific reasoning, argumentaion, etc. For, these things are not within the aim of the book. Rather, logic as seen and used on an everyday basis is.  
In my opinion, the world needs more of that! 

Sound daily reasoning. This is a logic course that promotes it.

Discover how other homeshcool families are putting this book and another by 
Hans Bluedorn  to use by clicking through to find 20+ video, social media, and blog reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew!

You can also connect with Hans Bluedorn and The Fallacy Detective :

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Snack with Saint Jerome

Years ago, my kiddoes came to know and love St. Jerome through a story and story basket. More recnetly, we've lived the litrugical year by doing picture studies and more related to St. Jerome.

Last year, we paused our day for a simple snack with the saints.

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I placed a green cloth on the table for Ordinary Time....

...and put together a lion face snack with food we had on hand (BFree gluten-free tortillas, Daiya cheddar style shreds, red bell pepper and garden snap peas and ground cherries.)

A candle and a couple books from our shelves finished the setting, and, then, the kiddoes came with smiles to snack, pray, and chat.

The kids recalled the longer tales of St. Jerome and the Lion that we have previously read when they looked at the much briefer version of this story in Amazing Saints &their Awesome Animals.

We also read from In His Likeness.

Our celebration was short, simple, and smile-inducing.

Remembering it now as I look forward to celerbating St. Jerome again next month, I am reminded that living the liturgical year need not be stressful. Snacking with the saints - a simple snack, a chat, a prayer, can bring blessings.

I pray that however you and yours choose to honor different saint days brings you blessings, too.

St. Jerome, pray for us.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Be Your Child's College Admission Counselor {A College Launch Solution / Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

My eldest child would like to graduate early and get on with his life. He is not sure he wants to go to college, but, just in case, I want to be prepared. Thus, when I was offered 6 months access to the College Launch Solution from The HomeScholar LLC, I thought I would give it a try.

The HomeScholar LLC was created by Matt and Lee Binz, homeschoolers and consultants who have over 15 years of experience helping homeschoolers move from high school into college, and offers a variety of courses and tools for both parents and students.

The College Launch Solution, specifically, is a course that is geared towards 10th-12th graders and their parents in order to smooth the transition from high school to college.

It offers 60+ hours of how-to training, tools, and resources that equip homeschool parents to guide high school students through the college process while, at the same time, helping high school students with materials directed specifically to them.

The course has six training modules with different tabs for accessing video, audio, slides, download, and support materials.

Module one is Core Training for Parents and Teens. With it, teens move through a 4-hour, pre-recorded online College Admissions Seminar which helps them better understand college admissions, scholarships, and college success while parents get an overview of how to be a counselor and coach. There is also an extensive high school planning calendar for middle school through senior year to help parents and students think ahead.
Module two is Finding a College. It includes everything from navigating college entry exams, such as the PSAT, ACT, and SAT, to choosing a college or military academy, to what to do as a struggling learner, etc. Module three is Paying for College, so, of course, deals with earning private and merit scholarships, securing financial aid, etc. Module four is Applying to College and includes training on planning senior year, completing applications, making final decisions, etc. Module five is Preparing for Launch. For students, it includes training on preparing for college and life, finding your calling, entrepreneurship, career assessment, etc. For parents, it includes the important topic of letting go. Module six is Succeeding in College and includes information on how to study effectively, improve college writing and guard your faith in college.

The presenter of each module, Lee, uses an encouraging tone as she clearly conveys information. She also sends accountability emails and provides ongoing support - plus bonuses!

For parents that are considering hiring a college admissions counselor, I would say College Launch Solution is an affordable alternative, especially since access to the main material does not expire, so you can use it with all of your children. Although my review access is limited to six months, the lifetime access you would get if purchasing this product seems appealing to me since I am one of those people who does not like limited-time only access which makes you feel stressed to "use or lose" a product before access expires. Truly, I appreciate that the College Launch Solution can allow parents to self-pace through modules as they navigate the ebbs and flows of life without the pressure of choosing between ignoring things in life that need attention or trying to get their money's worth within a limited time. As a homeschool mom, time is always at a premium, and I truly prefer products with lifetime access. This season of life has been quite busy for me, and I have yet to get through all the modules included in the College Launch, but I have appreciated being able to log on as I can and to begin using the clear presentations, handy printables and charts, etc. that are a part of this comprehensive student and parent resource. If you'd like to see what other Homeschool Review families thought of the College Launch Solution or three other HomeScholar LLC products, click on through to find links to over 30 blog, social media, and video reviews.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Surprise! Speed Wheel Drills Are A Hit! {A Homeschool Review Crew Review: Math Essentials}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

Woah! You just never can tell what will be a hit with a child to help solidify math facts.

We were given an opportunity to review Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills for Addition, Multiplication, and Division. 

I knew my daughter appreciated the straightforward, no-nonsense approach of other Math Essentials materials and needed something to help her increase her speed and accuracy with math fact recall as she moves into high school. However, to be honest, I was not sure if a workbook containing 1,440 speed wheel drills would work for her or not. In fact, I wondered if doing such drills would get old for her quickly.

I am happy to report: they did not. Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills for Multiplication has become one of my daughter's consistent, self-chosen, independent summer lesson materials. When the Speed Wheel Drill books came into our home, she asked if she could use the multiplication one and has been using it regularly throughout the summer.

Here is what she had to say about her experience:

I like Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills for Multiplication, because it is a quick and easy way to review multiplication tables.

I also like it because I try to beat my old times to see how much I am improving.

I enjoy that doing an entire page takes me only five to fifteen minutes. Sometimes I do a whole page and sometimes I do just one line - three wheels.

I find this better and more efficient than flashcards. because all my answers and times are written down and I can review them.

The only issue is that I am slightly lazy sometimes and don't always write my percent correct.

Using this is helping me get the repetition I need to remember my facts. Multiplication facts have always been hard for me, but I don't enjoy a lot of online games to practice them or, if I enjoy the practice games, but don't always remember the facts after. With these drills my accuracy and time  are improving.

I would recommend this resource to people who want a a quick way to review multiplication and to keep remembering their facts. People who don't like to be timed for math problems and people who don't like repetition may not like it as much. Repetition and timing is not a problem for me at all. I like that the format doesn't change and I can repeat things and see how I am doing.

What a wonderful surprise it has been for me to see my daughter's success with Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills. Through the years, we have tried many things, online and off, independent and together, to help her learn math facts and increase accuracy and speed with instant recall of them - some things more successful than others. This is definitely among the most successful.

My daughter willingly self-paces through the drills, deciding how many drills she wants to do on a given day, timing herself, correcting her own work, etc. The open-and-go nature has made working with the material easy to slip in around other life happenings. The fact that my daughter can use the resource on her own is a boon for her and me. The self-correcting aspect, I believe, actually helps reinforce her learning of the math facts. and the tracking of time - surprisingly to me - has been a motivator for her.

Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills for Multiplication have been an effective tool for keeping facts fresh for my daughter, and, as such, I recommend it to others who have a child that prefers independent, offscreen resources.

I also recommend the Division and Addition books for students who need practice with such facts. 

Each softcover, consumable book is set up the same way.

They open with a "How to Use this Book" page, which succinctly describes how to use the drills, track your progress, etc. 

(To use the drills, you take the number in the center of the speed circle and add/subtract/divide using the number on the next concentric circle out, then write your answer in the space on the outside of the circle.)

Then, there are pages with 21 math tips.

Following that are pages that contain 1,440 speed drills with 12 drills per page with the drills in random orders by center numbers.

The final pages of the book contain a solution page that can be pulled out of the book, put in a sheet protector, and used for self-correcting, plus the bonus of a Math Glossary, Important Symbols, Multiplication Table, Commonly Used Prime Numbers, Squares and Square Roots, and Fraction/Decimal Equivalents.

Slim, handy, open-and-go resources, Math Essentials Speed Wheel Drills for Multiplication, Division, and Addition can become a great help for students like my daughter that need extra facts practice so as not to regress with such skills.

The only thing I might change about them in future editions is making perforated pages or lay flat binding. Such changes would make an already effective resource just a little more user-friendly. 

Over 20 families from the Homeschool Review Crew have been testing out one, two, or all three of the Speed Wheel Drills books developed by the Winner of Intel Innovations in Teaching Award Richard W. Fisher with their children, so be sure to click through to find video, social media, and blog reviews.

You might also want to take a look at our past Math essentials reviews:

Or, connect with Math Essentials on social media:

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

How Do You Make a Habit of a Daily Heroic Minute?

Help me out here.

About a year ago, I shared about what the saints say about mornings and have been trying to put into practice the things I wrote about. 

Truth be told, I too often fail.

Despite waking up and praying my Living Rosary decade before my feet hit the floor and mentally naming some "excitement" to get me going with motivation and thanksgiving, more often than not, I stall out right about there.

I fail to conquer myself, get lulled by some of sort of laziness of mind, body, spirit - or all three, and stall out.

Instead of listening to the wonderful piece of advice that St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote about in his book, The Way and living by it, I fall prey to a pattern of false starts. 

I don't want to.

I want to tap into God's help and conquer myself - experiencing the first victory of the day right at its start. Yet... some days, I don't.

Indeed, although I do go through successful spurts, I am still working on making a small act of mortification a consistent daily haabit and would love to hear your thoughts.

Do you experience a heroic minute more days than not? Did you struggle with making a holy habit of embracing such minutes? What did you do to conquer the vice of stalling out too soon? Why is practicing a "supernatural reflection and...up" so much harder than it sounds? 

In person, in comments here, or with a comment on the Training Happy Hearts Facebook page, please inspire me by sharing about your successes with being "well ahead for the rest of the day" after conquering yourself from the first moment.

I truly want to better build this holy habit in myself and also pray that it will be taught to and caught by my kids.

I appreciate your help.

May we all get better at following this wisdom:

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. … The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.”

~St. Josemaría Escrivá 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

2 Recommended Sunday Strolls in Southeastern MA (and 1 to Skip)

This summer, we've been renewing our commitment to spending the Lord's day with our focus in the right place.

Sometimes, that means having family date days on Sundays. At other times, it means that after Mass, we do service. And, on some Sundays - like this one - it means that we recognize that each of us has different needs and decide upon our Sunday activities accordingly.

This Sunday that meant my daughter and I had a fantastic date exploring some new-to-us trails among those managed by the Sippican Land Trust.

Of them, two were wonderful walks I would recommend and one was humorous, but not highly recommended.

The first recommended trail is Brainard Marsh. The trail from the small gravel parking lot here is a mere .2 miles, but is quite lovely to stroll.

The beginning of the path is vibrant green - and has ample mosquitos, so do don your bug spray.

Gems of jewelweed color dot the landscape.

The invasive plants cover trees which can get your imagination going thinking up what creatures the tree forms resemble (much like finding pictures in cloud forms.)

Boardwalks bring you through a brief wooded area.

A sign points to a super short side trail.

The "pond" is laughable (but we were still delighted to have gone there since a cute little squirrel and a little black bird greeted us by timing their visit to the little pond exactly with ours.)

Larger birds - osprey - can be spied as soon as you go back to the maint trail and step on the beach.

Osprey are so fun to watch.

Not far from their nesting place are sea pickles.

Such wild edibles are worth a nibble.

Then, if you turn around to the treeline, you can spy some pretty random blooms.

Wading in the water is refreshing.

A picnic on the bench or beach would be pleasant.

It's not a big beach at all, but is cozy and delightful to hang at for a bit.

Then, on your way out, look for birds and butterflies...

...wish you had longer arms so you could taste some of nature's candy growing amongst the other plants - but do not dare, because there is poison ivy along the edges, too...

Then, hop back in your vehicle and head on over to the parking lot for Osprey Marsh, passing by Howland Marsh on the way.

If you love marsh views, walk the short distance back from the Osprey Marsh parking lot to the trailhead for Howland Marsh, but be prepared for a super short walk without a ton of payoff besides laughs at the condition of the trail.

Start on a wide woodland path between neighboring properties and smile at the lovely greens about you.

Spy plenty of sassafras growing.


Enjoy dappled light on the trail.


Beware the boardwalk when you get to it, though. It is in disrepair. (My daughter's foot went right through it!)

Your steps on the boardwalk might find you walking a teeter-totter.

Still the landscape is lovely.

You'll have to keep looking down at your footing through.

And when you get to the end of the baordwalk, you may wonder, "why?" It's a "boardwalk to nowhere".

Have a good laugh.

Spy the view you can see through the tall grasses.

Then return the way you came, enjoying the large ferns alongside the trail.

Spot mushrooms.

Spy Indian pipe. Then, walk back to the beginning of a much more recommended trail.

Osprey Marsh is a truly lovely walk.

Tiny sprays of wildflowers dot the sides of the path.

Some color draws the eyes upward.

Quite quickly, it is time to make a decision about which path to take.

Tucker's Trail is to the left and has a memorial sign with a simple, yet beautiful suggestion on it. 

To the right is an accessible trail with more color along the way.

Huge patches of verdant, but invasive overgrowth also mark the beginning of the path to the right.

Then, the boardwalks begin - long, accessible, and oh so delightful through the vibrant landscape.

White blooms fragrance the air.

Benches dot the way should you want to pause to take in the beauty about you.

It's such a pleasant place - so much of God's glorious handiwork all about the manmade simple, clean, beauty of the boardwalk. It's easy to be overcome with delight and to share fun and laughter along the way.

The sides of the boardwalk are higher and can tempt you to do so some balance beam walking.

Little blooms can be spied.

Parts of the boardwalk are "fenced". 

Beech (or was it birch?)  grow close to the trail.

It's truly peaceful and beautiful.

At the end of the boardwalk is a viewing platform.

What a pleasant place!

A bench invites you to sit and contemplate.

A narrow trail below the boardwalk might entice you to go get a closer look at the shoreline.

It gets squishy though.

You can return the way you came, or opt to go down a little ramp onto Tucker's Trail.

Tucker's Trail has typical trail boardwalks in parts.

Vibrant colored mushrooms sprout up alongside the trail.

Cute spotted fungi can be spied.

Wild berries grow.

Ferns grow tall (and poison ivy grows near them, so don't step off path.)

Parts of the landscape seem almost jungle-like with thick overgrowth.

Invasives choke native plants (we think) but also make everything look so wild.

Pretty blooms peak out alongside the path.

Berries tease from just beyond arm's reach.

And the trail ends, beckoning you to come again.

We truly loved our Sunday strolls today and encourage anyone within reasonable driving distance to come check out these short, but lovely walks. 

If you live further afield, we encourage you to see what strolls might be close to you.

Spending time walking in nature is such a beautiful way to spend a Sunday. You cannot help but give thanks to the Lord when marveling at the astounding beauty He created all about us.

What are some of your favorite palces to stroll on Sundays?


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