Author Archives: thehomeschoolingdoctor

About thehomeschoolingdoctor

What happens when a medical doctor decides to be a stay-at-home mom.

My Biggest Homeschooling Challenge

The other day, someone wrote to ask me about my biggest homeschooling challenge. I referred to it in a post I wrote about five years ago: Why We Homeschool. I thought my response to Barb might resonate with other passionate, intense homeschooling women who frequently fight their high expectations, so I wanted to share it here. The image at left is meant to be humorous and NOT indicative of our homeschooling days!

 

Dear Barb,

Hello! Thanks for reading! I had to go back and read that post from five years ago–and that’s what took me so long! (Finding time is a big challenge!) I hope you’re doing well, as is your family! And homeschooling is thriving! You asked about my “biggest” challenge.

My biggest challenge. Yes! My biggest challenge is overcoming myself. Homeschooling forces me to overcome MYSELF. My inherent tendencies. My little hang-ups. My natural (and developed) habits. These children are people, and they’re amazing! But (at least mine) they weren’t born neat and tidy. They weren’t born quiet. They weren’t born believing that mom is right. They weren’t born wanting to do their work. Mine weren’t born knowing how to express themselves. And so on and so forth.

And I feel like I WAS born to be neat and tidy. I WAS born to be tranquil. I do think I’m always right (ha!). I was born a worker. I’m super expressive and make friends easily. I’m sure I wasn’t born this way (Haha! Right!? Or was I?…), but it sure feels like it now! I am a perfectionist set in my ways who likes to succeed. (Oh, my. That sounds horrible.) So forcing myself to step back patiently, yet persistently, to reach our goals without squashing who each child-person was (is)—was (is) super hard! I want to jump in like a Tasmanian devil homeschooling mommy and whip them all into the little beings that they are to be. But, alas, I know in my heart that’s not possible or desirable.

Learning to cut myself out of the picture, while still pushing the children so they could (can) bloom, grow, and succeed in the future all alone without me (and my husband), was (is) really hard. Dealing with the chaos. Noise. Mess. Stubbornness.  Lazy bone-ness. The inability to be able to share what’s on their minds/hearts because they’re still learning feelings and words for them. Accepting the mundaneness that sets in when the thrill of all the new learning and teaching is over. (Because homeschooling is exciting at first, with all the new things to learn and ways to get your child to learn. But then after a time, 90% of the day, you kind of go on cruise control. You’ve got it mostly figured out– how the day needs to go and how your children learn. Then, it gets a little mundane. And you kind of question what you’re doing.) Are you really making a difference in the world like you meant to back when you were 20?

And there are other hectic, frenetic days. Where nothing goes right at all. And nothing happens the way it’s supposed to. And this goes on for a week or two (or more). And panic sets in because there’s no “good” school. And I feel mad and angry and controlling. Learning to rein that in with love and compassion and a heavy dose of reality checking. (I mean, seriously. In public school, there are tons of days where classes are not structured and linear. Snow days. Holidays. Fire drill days. Teacher institute days. Picture days. Substitute teacher days.)

So my challenge is ME. That is it. That is my challenge. It’s not an exciting challenge. It’s not anything risqué or mysterious. But it’s my biggest homeschooling challenge. Controlling me, my fears, my perfectionism, and my expectations! Letting my children become amazing adults on their own terms and not mine, while still educating them according to the standards I think they’ll need to have a job they excel at and enjoy one day. (So I can finally sit around and eat bon bons.)

Hope you have a great weekend and that you love homeschooling as much as I do!

Terri F

Written:
11/9/2018
Image attribution: Hans Holbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Page: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koerperstrafe-_MA_Birkenrute.png

Prostate Cancer Nutrition

I have put together a diet I would eat if I was ever diagnosed with prostate cancer. It might make prostate cancer grow faster. It might do absolutely nothing for prostate cancer. Or it might allow the body to control prostate cancer and promote a better quality of life. Since this diet could be bad for you, you should discuss it with your doctors or nutritionists before trying it. I have listed the scientific resources that my opinions are pooled from. These are required when discussing nutrition with doctors and healthcare authorities. Most will NOT listen to complementary diets and think they are a waste of patients’ time and fretfulness. But there is research to support dietary overhaul, and if this research is put into doctors’ hands, I believe they’ll read it. If a patient brought me a research article (NOT a blog post or a newspaper article, but a REAL medical journal article), I always made time to read it when I was practicing.

Take a look-see at the diet I constructed and compare it to what’s out there. Read. Read. Read. And if what you eat is no big deal to you and you want to give nutritional intervention a try for prostate cancer, with your doctor’s approval, go for it! If you can, try to eat organic; if you can’t, try to eat organic at least on the foods you eat every day.

I read all comments (that don’t go through to spam) and diligently consider them. If you have a story, refutation, helpful addition, or grammar correction, please comment. Lastly, medical research changes, and as this post “ages,” there will be new diet information on prostate cancer. Do NOT use this post as medical advice!

My Prostate Cancer Nutritional Intervention Plan

1. Eat a total of 8 CUPS (or more) of a combination of vegetables and/or fruits DAILY. Measure the eight cups so you’re not misjudging. Include as part of this the following foods.

  • Eat ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw organic BROCCOLI DAILY. (Substitute Brussels, cauliflower, cabbage, or kale if/when you get disgusted with broccoli.)
  • Eat 1 serving size of CITRUS DAILY, such as grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges.
  • Eat ½-1 cup of CARROTS DAILY.
  • Eat almost daily: Organic tomato products that have been simmered for a long time (spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice) with a little fat (like olive oil). Do not use products in BPA-laden plastic containers or BPA-lined cans. I search for products in glass jars.
  • Also add in some of the following fruits that you like each day: apples, apricots, plums, red raspberries, red grapes, pomegranates, and other colorful fruits.
  • Also add in some of the following vegetables that you like each day: Mushrooms (shiitake, Maitake, Reishi), bell peppers, hot peppers, Brussels, cauliflower, cabbage, red cabbage, kale, spinach, arugula, collards, cabbage, onions, Romaine lettuce, radishes, beets, and other colorful and/or deeply green vegetables.
  • Also rotate through starchier vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, winter squashes (acorn, butternut), and potatoes (simply prepared) for foods which will help fill you up.

2. Eat 1 ounce (roughly ¼ cup or 28 grams) of nuts and/or seeds every day. Choose from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, black walnuts, English walnuts, sesame seeds, and pine nuts.* (The * means see the postscript notes at the bottom of the post before my references.)

Eat them as is, sprinkle them on salads, toss into stir fry, or grind them fresh into “nut butter.”**  (See notes below.)

My personal favorites for health and cancer are sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, but each nut is special (and I’m not kidding…)—eat ones you enjoy. Also use hemp seeds (for GLA, omega-3, zinc), flax seed (it must be freshly ground PLEASE—I started using my coffee bean grinder for flax), and chia seeds (for omega-3).

3. For meat, eat fish (3-6 ounces provides the vitamin D and omega-3 requirements—or close to it, depending on the fish): wild caught salmon, sardines, cod, herring, trout.**

  • Eliminate or only rarely eat red meat and processed meats (bacon, ham, salami, hot dogs, beef jerky, and cold meat). Do not eat any charred meat.
  • Eliminate or only rarely eat poultry.
  • Eliminate or only rarely eat eggs.

4. Eat ½ cup or more of lentils and/or beans 5-7 days per week. Navy beans and lentils are my personal health favorites but eat what you enjoy. Choose from black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, etc.

5. Soy is unclear to me. It seems okay (beneficial even) for prevention and for early, localized cancer. However, I would avoid soy for high grade prostate cancers until we have further information. Choose minimally processed soy: soybean nuts, edamame, tofu, tempeh. Really research soy yourself and talk with your cancer team (doctors, nutritionists, etc.).

6. Drinks to include and exclude

  • A good quality, organic green tea, even consider matcha green tea daily if tolerated.
  • Water with the juice and pulp of a fresh lemon squeezed into it daily or routinely.
  • Pomegranate juice daily (100% juice, no added sugar), 8 ounces, IF you have MnSOD AA polymorphism***
  • Good quality water. Filtered tap water is usually fine.
  • Coffee seems neutral or even beneficial.
  • Almond milk or soy milk as needed to prepare appealing foods.
  • Eliminate any animal milk products.
  • Eliminate sodas, store-bought juices, and anything in plastic or BPA lined cans.

7. Force yourself to add herbs and spices (and fermented condiments), both fresh and dried, to your food. Any food you can add an herb or spice to, then find a way to do it.

  • Use turmeric daily (best when heated in oil and served with black pepper, so consider using on your vegetables).
  • Use ginger daily.
  • Use fresh garlic, one clove every day, ideally that has been pressed, cut, or diced and allowed to sit for 10 minutes prior to cooking (for development of a beneficial compound called allicin).
  • Hot peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles) that haven’t been pasteurized
  • Other spices as you explore: chives, cloves, cumin, etc. Don’t miss a chance to add a herb or spice.

8. Use high quality oils for dressings, sauces, and cooking. Do not aim necessarily for a low-fat diet, but your diet should be/will be lower in fat than a standard diet by nature of eating more vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and fish.*** Good choices are: high quality, fresh, well-stored olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, red palm oil (for natural forms of vitamin E), rare use of grass-fed butter (for vitamin K2), and/or unrefined sesame oil (for something called GLA).

9. Eat only truly whole grains that you must prepare.**** (Please understand that the kind you pour from a box and put almond milk on does not generally count towards the benefits of truly whole grains. You can’t eat cereal from a box or bag and expect you’re eating a cancer-fighter!) Use your prepared whole grains as an accent to your lentils/beans, vegetables, and fruits. Grains really do make foods fun, in my opinion. But DO NOT fall for processed whole grain products like crackers, most pre-made breads, bagels, cereals in a box/bag, etc. These are good whole grains to choose from:

  • Oatmeal (contain GLA, zinc, and prebiotics)
  • Flax (not really a grain but lots of grain-like benefits)
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice
  • Brown rice

10. Do NOT eat the following foods (but if you do, then by all means let the guilt go and renew your efforts as needed and as desired—this is your life):

  • Sugar (Spare use of honey or maple syrup is thought to be fine and helps flavor salad dressings, vegetable curries, fruit desserts, etc.)
  • Cereal (NO boxed cereals or granolas that contain sweeteners. 100% completely whole grain or grains/seeds that you grind are thought to be good, so make your own cereals.)
  • Bread (unless you know it is 100% whole grain or unless it is helping you to eat densely nutritious foods—for example, if a toasted slice of bread helps you to eat sardines with avocado, onions, and cilantro, go for it)
  • Meat, particularly red meat, is often correlated with increased cancer. Just avoid it. HOWEVER, if you have an intense craving for it that you can’t overcome, then listen to your body and prepare a good quality red meat dish. (I’ve seen a cancer patient who was craving red meat because she had severe anemia which needed a blood transfusion. Her body told her what she needed. I was a little disappointed that she chose McDonald’s hamburgers as her red meat source.)
  • Dairy (If you can’t leave out dairy, use grass-fed dairy and/or organic cheeses, ideally just as small accents to make your food taste better if you need to.)

11. Supplements: I believe in minimal supplementation and that food should be the source of our supplementation. I like to try to eat so I’m getting vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, omega-3, magnesium, etc., through my diet. But, there are certain nutrients that I think are hard to get that could benefit prostate cancer, and those are iodine and vitamin K2. Iodine can come from seafood and seaweed, if a person wants to research those. Vitamin K2 could come from natto (which contains soy and is hard to find in the USA) or from high quality, high fat dairy (which I don’t really think agrees greatly with prostate cancer). These might be two supplements worth discussing with your doctor about supplementation (but PLEASE read and research so you have medical studies IN HAND on these—doctors nearly universally believe we get enough iodine and most have never heard of vitamin K2 yet).

That’s it for now. Best wishes to you, your family, and your life. Remember, I didn’t write this plan for you. It hasn’t been tested or tried and could worsen cancer! So if you want to use any or all of it, you need to talk with your doctor. Please take good care of yourself.

Terri F

Notes:

*I encourage you to grind your own “nut butters” rather than buying them pre-ground. Some stores have places you can grind your own. Nuts and seeds are rich in oils that can be oxidized and damaged by air and light. The fresher the “nut butter,” the better for the body. I would not use peanut products routinely because of the molds they can grow before processing.

** There is a good physician who believes no nuts or seeds should be used in cancer because they have fat. His name is Dean Ornish, MD. He is very well-known and believes in very low fat intake. However, with all the benefits I found for nuts and seeds, with ALL the cancer-fighting components they have, and with the many studies that show that those who eat more nuts have better outcomes, I just can’t exclude them from a cancer diet. BUT, I do think that perhaps the problem with nuts and seeds is the fact that their oils and fats are so easily damaged. Fats and oils work in the cell membrane, and if they’re dysfunctional, our cell membranes won’t work optimally. So I think QUALITY should be stressed for nuts and seeds and their oils. Although I, a humble, independent researcher, disagree with Dr. Ornish, a power-house of knowledge and research, I want you to definitely know and read up on his work. He has a prostate cancer study with successful outcomes on his diet. That would obviously be a better researched and accepted diet than I have printed above!

Besides nuts, Dr. Ornish also eliminates all meat (including fish) and then he supplements omega-3, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin D. This doesn’t make sense to me. Repeatedly in nutritional medicine, certain supplements are thought to be helpful and end up being detrimental, whereas the foods that contain them don’t seem problematic! I believe that very often (not always), isolated supplementation can pose more harm than benefits. I think it’s better to allow fish and nuts than it is to eliminate them and then supplement back a tiny fraction of what they provide.

***Drinking pomegranate only seems to help if a person has the MnSOD AA polymorphism:

  • Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ). Health Professional Version. PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Published online: August 16, 2018.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK83261/#CDR0000719335__162
  • Note: I was able to figure out my MnSOD status (SOD2; rs4880) by using my 23 and Me raw data input into Promethease.

****Grains are like nuts in that they have precious, easily damaged oils. Once they’re ground, their oils will be oxidized and damaged. I suggest eating them whole (like cooked quinoa or brown rice) OR grinding them fresh yourself. I use a coffee grinder and then use the freshly ground grain or seed (flax, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, etc) to make my own bread or sprinkle on foods.

References:

Note: References have been roughly categorized. However, many references overlap and could appear in other sections as well. Please ask if you have any questions about the references. If you know of another reference that you’ve read that supports or refutes any of this information, great! Please comment on it so I can consider it and add notes or addendums to my diet.

Painting to begin post: Severin Roesen, Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Severin_Roesen_-_Two-Tiered_Still_Life_with_Fruit_and_Sunset_Landscape_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

On eating tons of vegetables and fruits:

  • Nguyen JY, Major JM, et al. Adoption of a Plant-Based Diet by Patients with Recurrent Prostate Cancer. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2006. 5(3): 214-223.
  • Richman EL, Carroll PR, Chan JM. Vegetable and fruit intake after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression. International Journal of Cancer Journal International du Cancer. 2012; 131(1): 201-210.

On eating tomato products:

  • Chan J et al. Diet after diagnosis and the risk of prostate cancer progression, recurrence, and death. Cancer Causes and Control. 2006; 17:199-208
  • Haseen F et al. Is there a benefit from lycopene supplementation in men with prostate cancer? A systematic review. Prostate Cancer & Prostatic Diseases. 2009; 12:325-33
  • Mroz L. Dietary Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients. Research Gate. 2016. 10.13140/RG.2.1.1539.1125. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301542461_Dietary_Advice_for_Prostate_Cancer_Patients)

On eating broccoli:

  • Canene-Adams K, Lindshield BL, Wang S, et al. Combinations of Tomato and Broccoli Enhance Antitumor Activity in Dunning R3327-H Prostate Adenocarcinomas. Cancer Res. 2007; 67(2): 836-843.
  • Richman EL, Carroll PR, Chan JM. Vegetable and fruit intake after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression. International Journal of Cancer Journal International du Cancer. 2012; 131(1): 201-210.
  • Kirsh V A,  Peters U, et al.  Prospective Study of Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Prostate Cancer.   J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99: 1200-1209.
  • Lassed S,Deus CM,Lourenço N, et al. Diet, Lifestyles, Family History, and Prostate Cancer Incidence in an East Algerian Patient Group. BioMed Research International Volume. 2016. Article ID 5730569.

On eating citrus and the named fruits:

  • Keizman D, Frenkel MA,  et al. Effect of PectaSol-C modified citrus pectin (P-MCP) treatment on PSA dynamics in patients with nonmetastatic, biochemically relapsed prostate cancer: Results of the interim analysis of a prospective phase II study. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2017 35:15_suppl, e16588-e16588. (MY NOTE: Modified citrus pectin is not the same as plain old pectin.)
  • Paller CJ, Pantuck A, Carducci MA. A Review of Pomegranate in Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer and prostatic diseases. 2017;20(3):265-270.
  • Perez‐Cornago A, Travis RC, Appleby PN, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and prostate cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). International Journal of Cancer. 2017;141(2):287-297. doi:10.1002/ijc.30741.
  • Lodi A, Saha A, et al. Combinatorial treatment with natural compounds in prostate cancer inhibits prostate tumor growth and leads to key modulations of cancer cell metabolism. Precision Oncology. 2017; 1 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41698-017-0024-z

On adding in the specified vegetables, especially carrots:

  • See above references under “eating large amounts of vegetables and fruits.”
  • Patel S, Goyal A. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. 3 Biotech. 2012;2(1):1-15.
  • Xu X, Cheng Y, Li S. et al. Dietary Carrot Consumption and the Risk of Cancer. Eur J Nutr. 2014. 53: 1615.

On eating nuts:

  • Want W, Yang M, Kenfield SA, et al. Nut consumption and prostate cancer risk and mortality. British Journal of Cancer. 2016. 115: 371–374.
  • Sparccarotella KJ, Kris-Etherton PM, et al. The effect of walnut intake on factors related to prostate and vascular health in older men. Nutrition Journal. 2008. 7:13.
  • [My note: Dietary zinc beneficial but supplement not.] Epstein MM, Kasperzyk JL, Andrén O, Giovannucci EL, Wolk A, Håkansson N, Andersson SO, et al. Dietary zinc and prostate cancer survival in a Swedish cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):586-93.
  • Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, et al. Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(14):1318–1326. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6536
  • Azrad M et al. Flaxseed-derived enterolactone is inversely associated with tumor cell proliferation in men with localized prostate cancer. J Med Food 2013 Apr; 16(4): 357–60.
  • “Flaxseed Supplementation (Not Dietary Fat Restriction) Reduces Prostate Cancer Proliferation Rates in Men Presurgery.”  Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. December 2008 17; 3577.

 On eating fish:

  • Chavarro JE, et al. A 22-y prospective study of Fish intake in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008; 88(5):1297-303.
  • Castelló A, Boldo E, et al. Mediterranean Dietary Pattern is Associated with Low Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer: MCC-Spain Study. The Journal of Urology, 2018; 199 (2): 430 DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2017.08.087

On eliminating processed meats and charred meats, eggs, poultry:

  • Zheng W, Lee S-A. Well-done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutrition and cancer. 2009;61(4):437-446. doi:10.1080/01635580802710741.
  • Alexander DD, et al. A review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of red and processed meat intake and prostate cancer. Nutrition Journal. 2010; 9:50.2.
  • John EM, et al. Meat consumption, cooking practices, meat mutagens, and risk of prostate cancer. Nutrition and Cancer. 2011; 63(4):525-37.3.
  • Richman EL et al. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate-specific antigen-era: Incidence and survival. Cancer Prevention Research. 2011; 4(12):2110-21.4.
  • Punnen S, et al. Impact of meat consumption, preparation, and mutagens on aggressive prostate cancer. PLoS One. 2011; 6(11):e27711.5.
  • Frattaroli J, et al. (Dean Ornish) Clinical events in prostate cancer lifestyle trial: Results from two years of follow-up. Urology. 2008; 72(6):1319-23.
  • (PDF) Dietary Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301542461_Dietary_Advice_for_Prostate_Cancer_Patients [accessed Jul 25 2018].

On eating lentils:

On eating soy:

  • Yan L, & Spitznagel EL. Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men:  a revisit of a meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  2009; 89(4):1155-11632.
  • Goetzl MA, et al. Effects of soy phytoestrogens on the prostate.  Prostate Cancer & Prostatic Diseases. 2007; 10(3):216-2233.
  • Kwan W, et al. A phase II trial of a soy beverage for subjects without clinical disease with rising prostate-specifc antigen after radical radiation for prostate cancer. Nutrition & Cancer. 2010; 62(2):198-207
  • Applegate CC, Rowles JL, Ranard KM, Jeon S, Erdman JW. Soy Consumption and the Risk of Prostate Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):40. doi:10.3390/nu10010040.

On drink choices:

  • Guo Y, Zhi F, Chen P, et al. Green tea and the risk of prostate cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arora. S, ed. Medicine. 2017;96(13):e6426. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000006426.
  • Perez‐Cornago A, Travis RC, Appleby PN, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and prostate cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). International Journal of Cancer. 2017;141(2):287-297. doi:10.1002/ijc.30741.
  • Paller CJ, Pantuck A, Carducci MA. A Review of Pomegranate in Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer and prostatic diseases. 2017;20(3):265-270. doi:10.1038/pcan.2017.19.
  • Sen A et al. Coffee and tea consumption and risk of prostate cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Int J Cancer. 2018 Jun 26. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31634. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Jiadong Xia, Jie Chen et al. An Up-to-date Meta-analysis of Coffee Consumption and Risk of Prostate Cancer. Urology Journal. 2017; 14(5).

On using herbs and spices:

  • Zheng J, Zhou Y, Li Y, Xu D-P, Li S, Li H-B. Spices for Prevention and Treatment of Cancers. Nutrients. 2016;8(8):495. doi:10.3390/nu8080495.
  • Arunkumar, A., Vijayababu, M.R., Srinivasan, N. et al. Mol Cell Biochem (2006) 288: 107. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11010-006-9126-6
  • Yoon J, Yae, Kim, et al. 2′-Hydroxycinnamaldehyde inhibits cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth by targeting the pyruvate kinase M2. Cancer letters. 2018. 434. 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.07.015.
  • Lodi A, Saha A, et al. Combinatorial treatment with natural compounds in prostate cancer inhibits prostate tumor growth and leads to key modulations of cancer cell metabolism. Precision Oncology. 2017; 1 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41698-017-0024-z

On use of added oils and not necessarily aiming for low fat numbers:

  • Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, et al. Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(14):1318–1326. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6536

On eating whole grains:

  • [Flax] Simon JA, et al. The relation of alpha-linolenic acid to the risk of prostate cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009; 89(5):1558S-1564S.
  • (PDF) Dietary Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301542461_Dietary_Advice_for_Prostate_Cancer_Patients [accessed Jul 25 2018].
  • Azrad M et al. Flaxseed-derived enterolactone is inversely associated with tumor cell proliferation in men with localized prostate cancer. J Med Food 2013 Apr; 16(4): 357–60.

On foods to eliminate:

  • Zheng W, Lee S-A. Well-done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutrition and cancer. 2009;61(4):437-446. doi:10.1080/01635580802710741.
  • Park S-W, Kim J-Y, Kim Y-S, Lee SJ, Lee SD, Chung MK. A Milk Protein, Casein, as a Proliferation Promoting Factor in Prostate Cancer Cells. The World Journal of Men’s Health. 2014;32(2):76-82. doi:10.5534/wjmh.2014.32.2.76.
  • Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Oct;74(4):549-54.
  • Rohrmann S, Platz EA, Kavanaugh CJ, et al. Meat and dairy consumption and subsequent risk of prostate cancer in a US cohort study. Cancer Causes Control. 2007 Feb;18(1):41-50.
  • Raimondi S, Mabrouk JB, et al. Diet and prostate cancer risk with specific focus on dairy products and dietary calcium: a case-control study. Prostate. 2010 Jul 1;70(10):1054-65. doi: 10.1002/pros.21139.

On fat intake:

  • Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, et al. Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(14):1318–1326. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6536

 

A Whole Grain, Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread Recipe

My kids love this recipe better than anything from the store. If you eat gluten-free bread, consider checking out this recipe, comparing the ingredient lists. (Wish I had a photo to do it justice for you.) See what you think. This is a multi-grain, whole grain bread that slices wonderfully for sandwiches. It does not need toasted. I’ve added some helpful notes at the end of the recipe, so if you’re going to give this a try, peruse those first.

My bread recipe is inspired by a recipe (and its associated comments) that I discovered at Genius Kitchen (www.geniuskitchen.com) called Gluten-Free Multigrain Miracle Bread, a submission by Whats Cooking. It’s gluten-free, but you almost wouldn’t know it. You will need a strong stand mixer and something to grind some of your flour in. I use my Cuisinart coffee bean grinder.

In the past, I have tried grinding each of the grains and seeds in this recipe with varying results. I can’t completely shake some of my reservations about grain and seed flours sitting in bags for months, so I prefer to use fresh ground flours if possible without losing my eaters. I have settled on this current recipe as the one that is eaten best by my kids. It makes the best sandwiches. It is good to eat warm with butter or honey. And it makes good French toast. It does decent paninis. We do toast it for breakfast sometimes, but it doesn’t lend itself well to toasting.

Click this link for a better printable version of The Best Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.

Best Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Appliances: Kitchen Aid stand mixer and a grain grinder

2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water (not hot)
2 tablespoons local honey

½ cup Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour
½ cup Bob’s Red Mill sorghum flour
¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill arrowroot flour
¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill potato starch (not potato flour)
¼ cup freshly ground white quinoa (measure after grinding) OR freshly ground whole grain teff (measure after grinding)
¼ cup freshly ground whole golden flax seed (measure after grinding)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons xanthan gum

2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Process (completed in this order):

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Mix yeast, water, and honey in a small bowl. Stir. Set aside while you mix the other ingredients.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large stand mixer (I use my Kitchen Aid.), whip the eggs and egg whites well with the oil and vinegar, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and the yeast mixture to the egg mixture. Turn on the stand mixer and allow to run on high while you prepare the bread pan. I use a brown glass loaf dish.
  6. Grease the bottom and sides of the bread pan. Then, line the pan with parchment paper.
  7. Turn OFF the oven. (You were only heating it to provide an even, consistent temperature for the best rise.)
  8. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and use a rubber spatula to push it down so it’s evenly distributed in the pan, especially in the corners. Smooth the top with the spatula so it’s flat. and place it in the pre-warmed oven that is turned off now.
  9. Place the dough in the pre-warmed oven that is turned off no. Allow to rise about 40 minutes. I cannot give an exact time. Just allow it to rise over the top of the pan to a good loaf size. It will run over the sides if you let it rise too long.
  10. GENTLY take dough out of oven and set aside to allow the oven to preheat.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  12. Return loaf GENTLY to the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until browned.
  13. Each oven and loaf is different. Tap the top for doneness and remove when firm and hollow- sounding.
  14. Lift bread out of pan. Allow to cool before slicing. (Don’t leave it too long in the parchment paper or the bottom will get gooey.) I use a special slicing knife to get clean cuts of uniform size.
  15. Keeps well in plastic baggie.

Notes:

• I have used three whole eggs instead of the two eggs plus two whites, and the loaf was just a little less airy.
• Using teff instead of quinoa gives a brown, whole grain color, whereas the white quinoa looks like a white bread. Both taste great.
• I have tried omitting the xanthan gum, but the bread always falls.
• The recipe doubles pretty well.
• A tad extra of any of the flours doesn’t affect the loaf much, so if I grind a little too much, I’ll toss it in.
• I grind the grains and seeds fresh in my coffee grinder on the finest setting.
• If you measure the oil into the egg bowl first, then do the honey/yeast/water combo, the honey slides right out of your spoon! I’ve had success with interchanging potato starch, tapioca flour, and arrowroot when I am out of either arrowroot or potato starch.

Family “gustar” report: 6/6 (all six in the family like it). It’s like the sandwich bread you used as a kid.

Closing

Baking this bread is fun and fills the house with a cozy warmth. Although my family went without bread for a couple of years, I’ve found it really is easier to feed them with bread in the house. They eat better. They complain less about there being “nothing to eat.” They eat any packed lunches better. This recipe is a compromise I feel placated for now with.

Take care and may you be truly happy and peaceful inside.

Terri F

Nutrition for a Gymnast

Ten Nutrients Every Gymnast Needs and How to Get Them

Recently a college gymnastics coach asked me if I knew one of the best in-practice (or in-meet) pick-me-up foods. I made a few naïve, idealistic stabs. “Nope,” he grinned. “Fruit Loops.” I didn’t know whether to cry at my innocence or to promptly squeeze his grin between my right thumb and forefinger, giving him a verbal lashing and the full weight of my academic condescension. I was so frustrated!

Faulty Nutrition Advice

I’m disappointed in the common gymnastics nutrition advice I encounter. It’s worthy of censorship. I don’t want anyone to touch my daughter’s nutrition without her running it by me first. Often the advice encourages exceptionally high carbohydrate counts and very low fat intakes. (How are they ever to absorb the vitamin D and vitamin K2 they need for their bones as grandmas?) Other times it advocates for highly processed cereals and granola bars loaded with sugars. (What nutritional punch does sugar pack?)

What’s a mom to do? Well, I like the gymnast in our family to focus on the nutrients her body needs to make strong bones, to keep muscle cramping to a minimum, and to protect her head in case of a bad fall. We focus on real, whole, and deeply nutritious foods. Focusing on these foods also encourages her immune system to fight off colds, helps keeps her tendons and ligaments well-supplied, and allows her hormonal system to have a chance to function properly.

Doesn’t She Need Carbohydrates?

As far as macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) go, I ask her to try figure out the best carbohydrate to protein to fat ratio for herself– using her hunger, energy, and mental clarity and focus to help guide her. (I firmly believe that each athlete is an individual with unique macronutrient needs. It is not “one-diet-fits-all.”) I explain that carbohydrate foods, although fast-acting, will not stick around very long, but that fats and proteins digest more slowly and can help her feel full longer. She includes carbohydrates for their quick pay-off of energy, and then she plays with the fat and protein amounts to determine the amounts (and kinds) which keep her feeling full– but still energetic and light and springy on her feet (or hands).

Reality Checks and Hard Talks

Food never goes away and our relationship with it really colors our whole life! So, periodically we talk about eating disorders, and I’ll ask her how she’s feeling about what we’re eating. We have talked in the past about the weight of muscle mass versus fat mass (muscle weighs more) and how weight is not a good indicator of health, fitness, or gymnastics capabilities. We talk about avoiding junk food but how to let loose and enjoy them comfortably when we want to.

Since competitive gymnasts often want to stay “little,” we talk about the changing body and the fact that a female gymnast’s skills will ebb and flow, progress and flop, as the physical body changes– and that will just require her to train smarter (to understand the physics of strength, power, vertical jump advantage, and quickness) and show off what a woman can do!

Competitive gymnastics has been suppressing the growth of competitive gymnasts for a long time, and I want none of that garbage for my precious one. I want her to embrace fully what it feels like to be an empowered woman, never afraid of food or eating–or actually of anything or anyone. I want bold, confident, and intelligent-minded women who will leave their sports behind one day but transfer everything they learned into a new path.

Back to Nutrition

Okay. Back to nutrition. I made a chart for our fridge that I thought I’d share on-line here. It’s the table you see above as the image for this post. You can, I hope, pull up the PDF file for clear printing here:

Blog Gymnastics table

Addendum: I have updated the same table you see as the image to read “Ten Nutrients Athletes Can’t Be Without… And How to Eat Them!” That way it can also be printed off for non-gymnast athletes too. For the PDF to this version, click here:

Ten Nutrients Athletes Can’t Be Without and How to Eat Them

I could have added iron, vitamin B12, and folate to this list. But if the foods on this list are eaten, those nutrients are each covered too. Meat has iron and vitamin B12. Beans and green vegetables have folate.

Many experts do recommend supplementing with calcium, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids for gymnasts. Talk to your doctor about that. Since we don’t eat a lot of dairy in our house due to some intolerances, I do rotate through bone supplements for the kids. But please, I prefer that you talk with your doctor about that. I am here to share our story and my thoughts, but you should not use it blindly as medical advice. Instead, use it to further your own research and discussions with your doctor. I love comments and would be happy to hear what you do for your gymnasts, concerns you have about gymnastics nutrition, or constructive discussion on what I have written and composed here in this post. Thanks!

Please, help your gymnast find his or her way to strength, dignity, courage, and long-lasting belief in his or her amazing self-worth as a person, not just an athlete.

Warmest wishes,

Terri F

Lively Latin, PA Homeschoolers Spanish, and Roman Roads C.S. Lewis Course

On-line, live classes have been helpful academically and developmentally in our homeschool situation. They teach attendance, listening skills, respect to diverse teachers and peers, excellent material, time management skills, and due dates. I often search reviews on-line before selecting products, and I am always grateful to be able to find feedback on them before trying them out myself. Today, in gratitude to those who have taken time to share, I am sharing my reviews.

Lively Latin II live on-line course

This was an excellent and interactive class taught by Magistra Drown (Mrs. Drown). It met once a week and lasted 75 minutes (but sometimes a little longer). My student was exposed to other students and also to a classroom-type environment with lecturing, questions posed by the teacher with students called on to answer, and breakdown into small groups during class to work on certain things together.

Often homeschooled kids think they’re “missing out” or that they won’t survive when they have to take a “real class” in college. Sitting in a classroom with other kids, perhaps more motivated or less motivated than they are, really can shed light on their own strengths and weaknesses as a student. My student enjoyed this class immensely and regrets that there will not be time for Latin III next year in her schedule, although we discussed picking it back up again as a tenth grader if desired.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally organized with clear expectations
  • Wonderful, self-contained workbook (consumable) that is clear and concise
  • Includes excellent background in Roman history in addition to Latin language instruction
  • Fun, live classes with several kinds of in-class activities (whiteboard, breakout groups, question and answer, etc.)
  • Students from all over the country (and even world) participate
  • Kind and passionate instructor
  • Homework and projects are assigned but the time and work required from the student seems very appropriate. (Submitted via text photos on phone.)
  • Teacher sends update e-mails just about weekly to parents and responds in a timely manner when corresponded with
  • Live class

Cons:

  • Needs to be on the computer
  • Does cost
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year (my daughter had to sometimes take her on-line classes during vacation)
  • Requires use of phone to text assignments. (My daughter texted from my phone. It was not inconvenient for us, but for others it might be.)

PA Homeschoolers (Ray Leven) Honors Spanish II live on-line class

Please know as you read this, that this is my student’s favorite class. But I am going to lay it out to you. Senor Leven is a tough teacher. Tough. Anything you read out there in cyberspace about his class may probably be true. But it is a great class, and your student will come out speaking, reading, and writing Spanish like a champ. Although my student wrestled (I’m putting it mildly.) with this class initially, by second semester, it was the FAVORITE class, and when a track meet interfered with attending class one day, there was actually disappointment to miss the class! The class met once a week for 60 minutes (sometimes ran over a little) for the whole year.

Pros:

  • Excellent interactive teaching style
  • An exceptionally honest teacher who provides accurate feedback for each student and pushes them to be the best Spanish student they can be
  • Spanish spoken in class by teacher and students
  • Small class size (4-6 students)
  • Diverse assignments (worksheets, paragraph writing, book assignments, on-line site)
  • Uses a spine textbook
  • Student needs to be completely responsible for all aspects of the class
  • Almost immediate response to e-mails
  • Mastery of material required and put to use so student moves toward fluent spoken and written Spanish
  • Live class
  • Students from all over the country

Cons:

  • Intense pace
  • On the computer
  • Completing the on-line assignments on the website (which accompanies the book) requires extra screen time (I don’t like screen time much for homework/assignments. EVERYTHING we do nowadays is on a screen. I don’t think it’s healthy for the pineal gland and other light sensitive body parts and system loops.)
  • Big time commitment (1-3 hours of homework each day, weekend commitment routine)
  • Significant time management required
  • Student needs to be completely responsible for all aspects of class and there is little communication with the parent unless there is a concern. Student is the “owner” of this class, not “mommy or daddy.” (My student was an eighth grader, and I had not transitioned her to this mentality yet, so this helpfully, sometimes painfully, did it for us. Ha!)
  • Costs money
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year (as mentioned above, my student did take her laptop and do class on vacation sometimes)

I’m saying all this so that anyone who is researching this class will know what to expect. It is a great class. Great. The on-line, live interaction is great. The content is great. The reinforcement is great. We are already signed up for Honors Spanish III. I highly recommend the class, but unless your student is used to tons of work and pointed, constructive criticism (and spoken in that Northeastern US accent which we Midwesterners sometimes perceive as short and hurried), be prepared for lots of push back. We had tons of push back. But we told our daughter to just do what she could initially, and we asked Senor Leven to be patient as we learned to transition from a middle school type study habit to an advanced high school type study habit. It took some time, but as I said, this class is now a top choice. I recommend this class highly for motivated Spanish students. Your student will LEARN!

Note: Ray Leven no longer teaches Spanish I. If you want to get into his Spanish II classes, then you have to have a Skype session with him and he will interact with your student in Spanish. He then lets you know if the student would be competent in his class. If he perceives gaps, he suggests tutoring to work on the weak areas. My daughter had to complete some tutoring. I’ll tell you, his tutoring is even harder than his class!!!!

Roman Roads C.S. Lewis Literature class by Christiana Hale

This was my first interaction with Roman Roads. It was a good experience and recommended by a friend. One thing I’ve noticed about these on-line, live classes is that the teachers are very passionate about their subject matters! That’s refreshing! The C.S. Lewis Literature class ran 90 minutes for the whole year. It focused solely on the literature of C.S. Lewis.

Pros:

  • Teacher passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter
  • Kind teacher, well-respected and liked
  • Live class with other students
  • Agreeable homework methods: reading assignments, shorter reading responses for each book. tests, longer reports due at each semester end, class lectures
  • Discussion encouraged in class among students
  • Students exposed to more of a lecture style class which they might see more of in college
  • Oral presentations often required of reading responses, but the teacher is so gentle and kind that my student was able to get over her fear of speaking and talking about her report in front of others
  • Pushed my student to consider pretty deep personal ideas about herself, life, and religion
  • Live class

Cons:

  • Some of the philosophical ideas and metaphors of Lewis’s books are very deep and can go over the heads of younger readers. I suggest this class for an older student.
  • On the computer
  • Costs money
  • Committing to a set time for class each week for a full year
  • Sourcing all the C.S. Lewis material

Roman Roads and Christiana Hale were easy to work with. I will consider using Roman Roads again in the future, and any class by Christiana Hale I can tell will most probably be a joy.

Closing

I’ll happily answer anything I can or have time for! Happy educating! Do it with LOVE. Push with LOVE. Admit to your student when you make a mistake (but find ways to help each other through the mistake). I made a mistake this year. As much as my daughter enjoyed all these classes, we learned that three year-long live, on-line classes were too many. The classes were exceptional, but it was hard to attend all of them, scarf down lunch before running to violin, make it to rescheduled track meets, miss class for vacation, and so on–plus attend to the other homeschool classes I was responsible for. My student told me it was okay because she really liked all the classes and didn’t want to drop any of them. So I found other ways in the schedule to lighten the load. Don’t bristle. Don’t react when they get angry about too much work. Just think and manipulate your variables! Good luck!

Terri F

Miller and Levine Biology

Note: Hi! If you’re trying to determine if Miller and Levine Biology would be a good fit for your use, I hope that you’ll find this post helpful! Happy educating! In case you are just dropping in, I have a medical degree and before that, a pharmacy degree, so I’ve had a little science. I love homeschooling my own four children.

We completed one semester of good, solid biology this 8th grade year with my oldest student,  and we ended up covering the first 4 units of Miller and Levine’s Biology curriculum from Pearson. I chose Miller and Levine’s Biology (Macaw edition) because it is comprehensive, frequently used for high school biology courses (including AP Biology), and includes supporting consumable materials (labs, worksheets, and tests). While I can say many fine things about this curriculum, I can also say I have reservations.

Materials We Used

This curriculum has two intensity levels to choose from, A and B, but they both use the same textbook. The A curriculum material writes and asks questions from a more complex and higher reading level than the B curriculum. More depth and comprehension is expected from those who use the A curriculum. You do not need both. I wasn’t sure which I would need, so I ordered both.

  • Miller and Levine Biology textbook
  • Study Workbook A or Study Workbook B
  • Study Workbook A Teacher Edition or Study Workbook B Teacher Edition
  • Lab Manual A or Lab Manual B
  • Lab Manual A Teacher Edition or Lab Manual B Teacher Edition
  • Teacher’s Edition Assessment Resources (includes quizzes and tests and their answers for both A and B levels)
  • High grade microscope
  • Lab materials (beakers, flasks, test tubes, pop beads, planaria, etc.) ordered from various sources on-line based on resource list in the lab manual.

Process

We progressed through the spine textbook mostly in the order the authors’ presented the material, taking it at the needed pace. If concepts needed more explanation and practice, like cellular respiration, I would lecture on the chalkboard or print off extra worksheets from the internet. We spent as much time as needed for mastery. We used the accompanying worksheets for each section, mostly from Workbook A, but sometimes I would use Workbook B if something wasn’t clicking or if I liked its simplification better.

Most importantly, we taught the process of outlining a chapter/taking notes, identifying important points, and drawing one’s own charts and pictures to help in comprehension and retention. This was required for particular topics that I know will be extensively tested in any future biology class, such as cellular respiration, meiosis, mitosis, and DNA replication.

If you take your time reading, learning, doing labs, reading the interesting supplemental materials, and taking tests and quizzes, then there is way more here than you could cover in a year of biology, while still doing other school courses at the same level. We did as much as we could in one semester (about 4 units, but we were not as diligent on the lab work as I would have liked), but we’ll take next year to knock out what I think will make my student exceptionally prepared for college AND keep her interested in learning for the fun of it!

Pros of the Curriculum

  • Comprehensive and appropriately detailed coverage of general biology for a student who may pursue a science-based college degree
  • Excellent concise and pertinent outlines for each chapter section included in the workbook manuals
  • Excellent worksheets
  • Excellent lab manual
  • Tests and quizzes available for purchase
  • Two levels for different levels of learning intensity
  • Contains sections called “Careers and Biology” to show students all the fun career options available with a biology background, which I think is very helpful for students to know about
  • More here than you could ever dream of covering well (you’ll see this listed as a pro and con): basic biology, careers in biology, controversies in science, mini-labs, labs, cool mysteries in science
  • The chapter reviews at the end of each chapter are very good, focused, and pertinent

Cons of the Curriculum

  • Sometimes, the writing and format (graphic design) do not make major biological concepts clear from more minor concepts, making it difficult sometimes for a new biology learner to tease out the most important points from the reading material. The book reads and displays sometimes like it’s “ALL” important. However, the worksheets do a good job highlighting the most important points.
  • The textbook is chock-full, and the pages, as many textbooks now, are super “Dora-the-Explorer” busy, making it difficult to stay focused. It’s nice to have the career excerpts, history excerpts, controversies, quick labs, and mystery case reports, but it can also be very distracting. There are so many different highlights packed in the margins and throughout the chapters that they’re hard to keep straight, and they detract from investigating the photos and tables of the main material that is required to be learned.
  • I often wrote my own tests. I used many of the test questions from the publisher (and eliminated ones I thought were poorly worded or minutiae), and then added my own questions. Why? Because I didn’t feel like important concepts were given heavier weight on the tests than fluffier, “less needed” material. I wanted important topics that I knew would be studied extensively in college to receive more in-depth testing than “less” important topics.
  • Not catered to homeschoolers so no accompanying internet resource and had to search around to find all the written resources. (I stumbled across a web page somewhere in which a person described how they were able to get access to the internet links that mass purchasers get for their students. So it’s out there somewhere, FYI, but I lost the web page. I didn’t need to pursue the internet support and resources.)
  • Complete, thorough, clearly visible vocabulary lists are needed. Each chapter section has a few vocabulary words listed at the beginning in the side margin, but it is not a complete list of the new words and terms introduced in each chapter section. One of the most difficult obstacles for students in biology is all the new terminology. It would be more effective if all of the new terms were listed clearly together.
  • Focuses on controversy

The Use of Controversy

My biggest reservation regarding this biology curriculum is its huge focus on controversy. (Maybe Joe Levine’s journalism background contributes to this.) Regarding the Miller and Levine Biology text, Pearson (the publisher) states on its teacher training site, called my Pearson Training:

“Using controversial topics in biology instruction grabs students’ attention and shows them that biology is relevant to their lives. When studying controversial topics, the goal is to help students gather scientific data, gain a scientific perspective, and evaluate media coverage.”

And elsewhere in material from the afore mentioned site:

“When looking at the Miller & Levine textbook, it is easy to see that many topics come directly from today’s headlines.”

It’s sensationalized biology. But our American society is so polarized, I’m not sure that building a biology text which screams the word “controversy” over and over is a good thing. Which side of a controversy should be taken? As thoughtful as the book seems to be, bias sometimes seeps into word choices. It seeps into the controversies chosen to discuss. It seeps into the controversies that were minimized.  The writing seems like it tries to offer opposing view points on controversial ideas, but sometimes the wording and arrangement is just subtle enough to indicate an eagerness to have the reader choose one side over another.

For example, before the ethical issues of stem cells are discussed, the benefits and needs are discussed.

“Basic research on stem cells takes on a special urgency. . . Given the suffering and death caused by these conditions [heart attacks, strokes, paralysis]. . . Many hope to see a day when damage caused by a severe heart attack can be reversed. . . “

After exuding enthusiasm about the benefits that stem cells can offer, the ethical issues are discussed, and it is stated that harvesting stem cells causes “destruction” of an “embryo.” (All true.) It’s subtle, but notice it does not cause “death” of something alive, just destruction of an embryo. Whereas as you keep reading in the next line or two, harvesting and using stem cells can “save human lives.” Minor wording choices can affect which side of a controversy we’re on.

Most of the controversial topics are clearly marked with the word “controversy” or “ethical issues” and the book makes a concerted effort to present well-rounded discussion. But some of the controversies of our time, such as global warming and evolution are treated as if there is no controversy, which I think perpetuates the distrust from opposing viewpoints even more.

I understand that the authors and other scientists are sick and tired of all the criticism and hate they receive from people who don’t believe these ideas. BUT the fact of the matter is, these ARE still controversial topics in 2018 and it would be more productive to list the factual reasons or cite the research which causes other people to be skeptical about evolution and global warming, fostering respect rather than scorn. It would be productive to provide the evidence which makes a significant number of people have questions about evolution from the fossil records or have questions about the role and significance of humanity on global warming–and allowed for uncertainty where uncertainty exists.

Politically, those instrumental in putting Miller and Levine Biology together understand how lucky they are to put together a textbook for the captive, young audience mandated to learn biology. They urge:

“Don’t just memorize today’s scientific facts and ideas. And please don’t believe them! Instead, try to understand how scientists developed those ideas. . . In our society, scientists make recommendations about big public policy decisions, but they don’t make the decisions. Who makes the decisions? Citizens of our democracy do. In a few years, you will be able to exercise the rights of a voting citizen, influencing public policy by the ballots you cast and the messages you send public officials. That’s why it is important that you understand how science works and appreciate both the power and the limitations of science.”

They urge kids to think for themselves, yet their textbook has subtly worded stances (intentional or not) and makes an unstated point to root out disbelievers of points they consider moot discussions.

There is so much information to cover and learn in basic science classes, that instruction woven around controversy belongs in other classes. I teach science for my homeschool co-op, and we keep plenty busy just mastering what nucleotide bases are and have enough controversy discussing how exons could affect translation of our DNA. Now THAT’S science!

A Note on Evolution

You can’t get away from evolution in this book. The authors have made it the entire theme of the book. It is woven throughout the chapters, starting right front and center in chapter one. Right away the book states:

“Today, evolutionary theory is the central organizing principle of all biological and biomedical science. It makes such a wide range of predictions about organisms–from bacteria to whales to humans–that it is mentioned throughout this book.”

But the writers go on to say:

“A useful theory that has been thoroughly tested and supported by many lines of evidence may become the dominant view among the majority of scientists, but no theory is considered absolute truth.”

If you want a gentle approach to evolution, this is not the book for that. Whammo. Bammo. Evolution. Controversy and evolution are the themes woven throughout this book. But, I don’t mean to sound too negative, there is TONS in this book to be taught no matter what you believe about evolution. I still don’t know what in the heck to believe about elements in a primordial environment coalescing into one little organism and then eventually forming me! The simpleton faith in me just says, “Wow. God, just wow.”

Closing

The Miller and Levine Biology program is not a bad choice, per se, because it does a good job including everything a student can expect to see in a college biology course. Many high schools use it. I like that my kids are learning what the rest of the United States’ kids learn scientifically because that’s who they’ll be working side-by-side with for the rest of their lives. I like the resources that come along with the text.

But I don’t like the controversy used as its educational tool. I don’t like the cloud that hovers over me as I read the book, feeling like particular ideas are being indoctrinated into a population. I also wish the authors did a better job at making important topics seem important and at putting together vocabulary lists.

For the 2018-2019 school year, our plan is to finish the topics covered in the Miller and Levine book, add in a couple of other texts to help my student read complicated material as explained by other writers (when I feel like Miller and Levine is weak or confusing), review the topics I know will be hit hard in college science classes, focus more diligently on completing labs, and use some “living books.”

I have ordered two additional texts to use:  Campbell’s Biology and Test Prep Series: Preparing for the Biology AP Exam (also by Pearson). For now, I just intend for them strengthen our program and round it out, not replace it.

The Test Prep Series: Preparing for the Biology AP Exam is reported to make the main points of biology very clear and concise, leaving no question about what must be known in each topic of biology. At this time, I do not plan on AP tests, but I must research more on that. I feel like everyone is saying, “Take AP. Take AP.” And, well, I’m just not sure this is the way our education system should be going, so I need to read more and decide.

That’s it! Feel free to ask any questions. I’ll try to help if I can. If you see any typos, let me know so I can fix them. If you have any concerns or counter comments, I’ll try to field them with the best thought that I can. Thank you.

Terri F

 

Saxon Math Algebra II

I’m heading into my tenth year of homeschooling, and it has gone so fast! Each year since I started writing here, I’ve typed up and posted the curriculum of the highest grade level I teach. This year the highest grade level was eighth grade. By this level, our curriculum has been tailored to the student, flying rapidly when subject matter was learned easily and hunkering down when a quagmire appeared. I am always happy to answer questions about how we do things, why we do things, and what concerns (or satisfactions) I have about how we proceeded. I will start with our math program.

Every year I explain that I personally grew up on Saxon math (starting in sixth grade). Teaching it feels like a favorite pair of old tennis shoes to me. Beloved and comfortable. Forgive my sappiness toward math, but I feel like it was my math teacher and Saxon math which helped me achieve my academic dreams. I don’t have the natural knack for numbers that many of my friends have (I had to turn to them for help with the “hard” problems), but with Saxon’s training method, I learned I, too, like my gifted peers, could achieve in math. In the movie Ratatouille it is said, “Anyone can cook.” Well, in Saxon, “Anyone can do math.” I have tutored many students throughout the years in high school math, and I cringe when I see how math is usually taught without the layering that Saxon math provides. So be forewarned, I come at Saxon math with a huge bias. I can’t tell you about any other math program, but I can tell you all about my love for Saxon. 🙂

Good luck to you in educating your children and bestowing upon them all that you have to give so that they might be happy, content people who can smile freely and give warmly, knowing that in their parents’ home they are safe, loved, nurtured, and protected. Okay. On to math.

Math: Saxon Algebra II, supplemented with a unit study on geometry proofs

A note on time expectations for math work: I think it helps to explain to advanced students that math gets at least 90 minutes a day, Monday through Friday. Boom. That’s the way it is. Budget your day that way. Otherwise, it seems students think they ought to be able to get done in less than an hour, like they used to be able to do when they were doing “easier” math.

Method: Throughout the year, I most often taught the Algebra II lesson set on our wall chalkboard. Then we practiced several problems from the problem set (both new material and any prior material I felt my student was weak on and needed guidance on), and then my student was assigned 13-22 problems to do each day on her own from the problem set. Missed homework problems were corrected daily before beginning the new homework. I worked very hard to keep papers graded on a daily basis so I could be aware of weaknesses in any concepts.

Any lesson with old material that my student had already mastered and I knew she had retention of, we skipped, in favor of learning new material. Within lessons, any problem-type mastered to the point of vomiting, we skipped. (Despite the Saxon book’s warning, we frequently skip problems, although I will assign them periodically to retain mastery. I feel comfortable doing this because it is how my high school math teacher used Saxon.) In Saxon math, problem types go away for about 10-20 lesson sets and then they come back. When they came back, I reassigned the problem type to make sure there was still retention and mastery. My student is monitored closely, and I can see what she does and does not “get.” Mastery and retention were always required of all problem types. As the year progressed, my student needed less and less teaching from me, as she was frequently able to read and apply the information herself.

At the end of the year, I did a unit study on geometry proofs. I used the same concepts Saxon Algebra II was teaching in the lessons on proofs, but I pulled lots of extra material and practice off of the internet from various sources.

This is how I did math this year for this student. I am prepared to make changes each day and each year we work together. I am also prepared to change how I do things for each of my children.

Saxon Pros:

  • There is a seamless transition from Algebra I to Algebra II.  (We were able to skip lesson sets at the beginning of the Algebra II book with material that my student had already mastered in Algebra I.)
  • The Saxon math program from Algebra I through Calculus cannot be beat as far as breaking down concepts into understandable portions, progressing students along in a non-scary fashion, and promoting long-term retention of concepts.
  • There is good explanation and practice of geometrical calculations. (I had debated doing a geometry year between Algebra I and II, and I’m very glad I did not.)
  • Excellent explanations of new concepts in each lesson, with even some humor here and there.
  • Excellent examples worked out and explained for each new lesson. (I tutored this last year in Algebra II, and the book the school offered did not have many examples for students to learn from.)

Saxon Cons:

  • Saxon math teaches geometrical calculations well, but I was not fond of its introduction of theorems, postulates, and two-column proofs. (We finished the Algebra II book with enough time to do a unit study on geometry proofs to supplement Saxon’s lessons. I pulled from various resources to put together a unit study.)
  • Saxon does not seem to require geometry vocabulary usage and retention. (There is a lot of geometry at the beginning of the next book Saxon book called Advanced Mathematics–equivalent to trigonometry– and I will reinforce the vocabulary of geometry next year and also keep up with proof supplementation. This way, I will feel very confident that we’ve covered what I covered in my high school non-Saxon geometry class.)
  • Real life application when it comes to particular topics is lacking. I kind of feel like Saxon math students might become robotic with their math—although any student who masters Saxon math will be easily led to apply the concepts to real life. For example, a Saxon student can tell you the equation of a line (and readily manipulate the equations), but they’d be hard-pressed to tell you a real life situation you could use a linear equation in. After you showed a Saxon student, they’d probably say something like, “Oh, duh. I knew that.” I plan to remedy this with a real-life application unit in our high school years.
  • Lots of problems in a problem set.

My eighth grader was able to master Algebra II. I didn’t necessarily plan it that way, it is just how it worked out with the pace of her capabilities. I think this might put us at a disadvantage for taking standardized tests (PSAT, SAT and ACT) since we are covering material earlier. However, I constantly try to remind myself that learning is done best for learning’s sake–not for the test . But I know that I will need to take extra care that she is prepared for her standardized tests so that my decision to proceed at her pace does not hinder any test scores. I also see that if we continue this progression, there will be opportunity in the junior and senior year for something like taking a local college math course or doing something somewhat unique for high school math, like statistics.

As I mentioned, I am happy to answer questions or clarify anything I wrote.

Terri F