Transforming Math Nerds Into Celebrities

Let me tell you something: the impossible became possible during my lifetime.  I am talking about magically transforming math nerds into celebrities.  If anybody could do it,  Taraji P. Henson is the woman for the job.  Ms. Henson and her colleagues make math approachable through the magic of a great story: the hidden figures of the women behind the space program.

I always loved math and science.  When life got hard, I could depend on numbers to keep me grounded. Although I have been teaching and/or tutoring math for the last eighteen years, I seldom share this love with other people.  It is not a subject discussed at family get-together, parties…

Try this experiment for me: mention that you LOVE MATH!  Then, count to ten.  Poof!  All happy chatter ceases and most people evaporate.  Magic?!  Not really.  It is the dreaded word MATH and its equally dreaded cousins: ALGEBRA, TRIGONOMETRY, GEOMETRY and CALCULUS.

Although I never met Ms. Henson, or any of her colleagues, I owe a great debt to each and every one of them.  I can’t wait for the release of the movie, Hidden Figures, in February of 2017.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making my life so much easier!





What are prebiotics, anyway?! Results

VSL#3 is a potent strain of probiotics recommended by my daughter’s GI doctor, Stefano Guandalini, MD.

I pretty much know what they are: “good” bacteria fighting the bad bacteria in my gut.  However, I always wondered if probiotics would be able to survive and thrive in the gut without the help of suplements.   Otherwise: what feeds probiotics since any living organism needs nourishment.

Prebiotics are present in a lot of high fiber foods like bananas, oatmeal and legumes plus more exotic items like raw chicory root and dandelion leaves.  Also, the fiber present in these foods is largely undigestible.  As such, this fiber becomes the breeding ground and food for the probiotics our bodies need to keep the bad bacteria in check!

Anybody for a dandelion leaves salad?  I like them steamed better than raw.  The cooking process kills some of the beneficial prebiotics but they taste so much better.

via prebiotics sources – AOL Search Results

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Wow!  I didn’t realize the amount of information posted on my blog given all the family upheavals from 2015: cancer diagnosis, losing my father-in-law, change of jobs…

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 270 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Clooney sings the best Unbirthday Song!

Oops! Wrong Clooney.  I meant Rosemary Clooney.

Dad is dying of a very aggressive cancer.   He is spending his last days surrounded by family and friends.  All paperwork and plans for the end are finally done.  And in the midst of all the fears and tears, there is joy and love.  Lots of love.  And reminiscing.  Most sentences start with: do you remember…

Then, there is the question of his upcoming birthday.  There are less than two months until his 86th Birthday but…we don’t know.  So, a friend of the family had a great idea.  Why don’t we celebrate his Unbirthday.  She brought the cake and candles.  His siblings were invited and the impromptu get-together could have rival any well thought out celebration.

Hip, hip, hooray to a life well lived!

Happy Unbirthday to you Dad!

Standard versus competitive and very competitive colleges


Freshman year of  high school.  When did this happen?

It was only yesterday, or maybe the day before, when we brought her home from the hospital.

Now, I find myself looking straight into the eyes of a young lady while still remembering her very first steps.  Well, to be honest, I have to tilt my head back to look at my little girl these days.

Nevertheless, here we are: at the brink of a new beginning.  The next four years will set the stage for the choices that will change her future forever.

The requirements for a college prep curriculum differ wildly from a standard to a competitive and very competitive college.  I include the following table, provided by Homeschoolsuccess, as an example of the wide gap between the different college tiers.

Homeschool High-school Requirements

For example, the requirement for Foreign Language, ancient or modern, changes from optional (for the standard college prep curriculum) to two years of the same foreign language (for the competitive college prep curriculum) to four years of the same foreign language (for the very competitive college prep curriculum).

I found this sample transcript for an imaginary homeschooled high school student very inspiring.


However, as a parent, there are many questions I still need to answer:

  • Who decides the designations for the difference courses (honors, AP…)
  • What is the best time/year to take PSAT and SAT?
  • Do we need to keep a reading log?
  • How about those science labs?
  • What do they mean by “self-designed and uniques courses” when it comes to Electives?

Meanwhile, this is the list for this semester: British Literature, Algebra, American and French Revolutions, Earth Science, Latin, Church History, Applied Strings 285 and P.E (Equestrian).

Salsa Pork Chops in the crock-pot


It was 9 o’clock on Sunday morning and everybody was rushing around before leaving for church.  The phone started ringing and in less than five minutes my laid back Sunday morphed into an impromptu party: Dad’s siblings were coming over.  I took out my crock-pot and put together  this recipe in less than 10 minutes:

Salsa Pork Chops in a crock-pot


  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa (or a 15 oz. prepared jar)
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 6 pork chops, 1 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Mix the first seven ingredients directly in the crock-pot.  Layer the pork chops on top of the salsa mixture and season them with salt, pepper and ginger.  Turn the crock-pot to low for 6-8 hours.  Serve with mashed potatoes and a green salad.

Enjoy (Pofta Buna)!

Letter To Parents – Homeschool Success

I found Barbara’s words inspiring and empowering.  There is a very good reason for my feelings: I used to be the one helping families cope with homeschooling their children through high-school while tutoring mathematics, science, Latin and calligraphy.  It was easy because there was somebody else in charge: the parents.


Now, I am the homeschooling parent.  I am on this merry-go-around of emotions.  One day, I am elated at the chance of teaching my daughter and learning along with her.  Two days later, I panic over the smallest detail ( I ordered the math books too late….).  I hope that you too can enjoy and benefit from her expertise while:

Homeschool expert Barbara Hettle shares a few thoughts with parents about homeschooling high school and planning for college admissions.

Source: Letter To Parents – Homeschool Success