Thursday, September 27, 2012

D is for the... Day that Changed Everything

I had a lot of different ideas for my "D" post. D is for... Drama or Diva were my top two choices. Life with a pre-teen girl. Unfortunately, that post will have to wait for another day as something came into our lives last week that changed it forever.

So I decided to title this post The Day that Changed Everything. September 17, 2012 was that day. And this is our story.

Crazy 1 and Crazy 2
It started off as a wonderfully ordinary day. We had breakfast, did our school work, ate lunch. After lunch we were off to a local park to hang with our good friend, Kristy, and her two children, Morgan (3) and Connor (1). We have known Kristy for a long time. Long before Kayleigh was born. She and her hubby Matt were our neighbors and family when we were all stationed in Guam many years ago.

We reconnected last year and have been hanging ever since. My Kayleigh and her Morgan are BFFs and Toy Story nuts. And sometimes bathroom buddies. lol They generally enjoy being weird together. They enjoy doing things like walking around the park while wearing bicycle helmets. Aren't they sweet? lol

On this day, the little girls brought their scooters, Mackenzie her bike, and Connor his knack for sitting on the edge of a picnic table in just the spot that will freak me out. He's such a boy! =o)

Mackenzie was biking around but complaining that her bike wasn't working right. It was too hard to pedal. So I kept messing around with it and riding around on it but it seemed to be working just fine to me. I decided her issue was just the tween 'tude that we've been enjoying lately so I declared her Connor's keeper and take him to play. So she followed him around the playground.

Eventually it was time for Connor to have a little TLC. You see, Connor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this past July. It was such a shock for everyone. It's heartbreaking to think of such a wee one having such a horrible disease. You can't even wrap your mind around it when you see this tiny, little guy hold out his tiny finger for a check or watch him get an insulin shot without a peep.

But have it he does and it's been a huge adjustment for his family. Watching Kristy deal with it has been nothing short of amazing. It's one of those things that a mom has to jump right into and she sure did. She learned a lot in a very short time. But there is still a lot of unknown. With all the details that go into caring for a child with T1D, I couldn't imagine ever letting him out of my sight if he were mine. And feeling like it's not ever safe to leave your child with someone else is a huge stress in and of itself.

After his diagnosis I began picking her brain and asking about what she does, how she does it because I wanted to learn how to care for him in the hopes that one day she'd be able to go out and feel like somebody would be able to care for him for a couple of hours.

So any how, back to the story... It was time for Connor to have his glucose check and a snack so over he toddled to do what he does several times a day. Finger prick, snack, insulin. Mackenzie came grumping over in a mood. So I began to razz her a little bit about it and suggested that maybe her blood sugar was low too and that she needed a snack. Food is generally a quick way to cheer this scrawny child up. She's obsessed by it and eats like a teen age boy.

So she agreed to eat her snack and Kristy said something along the lines of hey wouldn't it be fun to test your blood sugar? You know for science? So after some goading she agreed to do it. So Kristy loaded up her meter with a fresh supplies and the finger pricking began.

The results popped up on the meter and Kristy got quiet. She showed me the results. The machine said hi. I wasn't sure what that meant exactly but I knew it wasn't good. Then she suggested that we do it one more time, in case of a glitch. The result was the same, hi. Then Kristy decided to test herself just to be sure there wasn't a malfunction. She was within the normal range.  She told me that the machine only measures up to 500. Any levels higher than 500 come up as high.

I think this was the point that I knew something was really wrong. And I was pretty certain that I knew what it was. I think Kristy did too. It was probably a bit of a flashback to when she first tested Connor. Next she tested her ketones, which I won't go into what they are today, but those were extremely high too. I asked her what she would do and she said she'd get her into her doctor ASAP.

So I called my husband and then our doctor before we even left the park. I was a little surprised by the reaction of the doctor's office. I had expected that they'd either try and get her in ASAP or tell me to go to the ER. They did neither. They offered me an appointment for late on Wednesday. It was Monday.

I took the girls back home to discuss this further with my husband. At this point he didn't really think anything was wrong and that it was a glitch with the meter. We ate dinner and then headed over to Kristy's to pick up her extra meter, as we planned to test her again in the morning, after fasting all night. Before we left, I packed an overnight bag for Kayleigh and grabbed sweatshirts for the rest of us. I had already made up my mind about the next course of action. I knew that Kevin would come to the same conclusion after talking with Kristy.

Sleepy Time!
Once we got there, we tested Mackie in front of him. It was sobering to see that "hi" pop up again. We even tested Kevin so he could see that it wasn't the meter. As I expected, he wanted to take her to the ER. How convenient that I had an overnight bag for Kayleigh. =o)

We got Kayleigh settled, not that she cared. She was just excited to be having her first sleepover.

First stop the Naval Medical Center emergency room. (We are retired Navy.) It's one of two hospitals in the area that has a pediatric endocrinologists. And we knew that everything would be covered by our insurance there.

We spent a few hours in the ER where she blew the numbers off of their machine. She gave a urine sample, blood, and had a host of other tests. We dealt with a bunch of interns and medical students who talk a good game but say very little. I swear one of them was barely 12.  I refer to him as Doogie now and forever more. =o)

They have her bag after IV fluid to flush out the sugar and bring her levels down.  The urine test showed her levels as greater than 1000. She was down to 640 after the first bag, 580 after the second.

The ER is boring.
Insulin is good!
Finally the peds doctor showed up. (Just the regular pediatric doctor, not the endo.) He introduced himself. Guess what his name was? Guess, guess, guess?

Dr. Love. For realz! Of all the awesome things to come our way. Dr. Loooovvvveeee. It was after one in the morning. We cracked up. True story.

He said that she had diabetes, most likely type one, and were beginning treatment for it immediately.

It was exactly what we expected him to say. It was exactly what we had prepared her for as we sat there for hours reading a book on diabetes that we had borrowed from our friend. It was exactly what we had feared.

He said they were continuing with the IV fluid and starting her on an insulin drip. They'd be moving her up to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) where they would continue to work to bring her levels down and monitor her. In the morning they would move her to the regular peds ward and we'd begin our education on how to care for her.

Around two, they finally moved her up to the PICU. It was a long night. We could stay with her but we weren't allowed to sleep in the room. I was too tired to remember the why behind that. There were sleeping beds in the PICU waiting area but we didn't want to leave Mackie alone as she was understandably frightened.

They brought her a pair of pj's but she refused to put them on. She had it in her head that if she put them on she'd have to stay there for a long time. We finally got her into the bottoms so she could rest more comfortably than in the jeans she was wearing.

The nurses checked her blood sugar hourly. A lot of times she slept right through it. She woke up for a while around 5:30. At 6:30 Kevin and I had to leave the PICU for an hour while the staffed turned over. Patient privacy and all that. Mackenzie did not like that at all.

When we came back, the educating began. The first thing they did is stop the insulin drip. We were about to learn how to give her the insulin the old fashioned way, with a syringe. Her breakfast arrived, she ate it, and they showed her how to count the carbs. Once the carbs were counted, they gave her a carb ratio. How many units of insulin she needed to take for the amount of carbs she ate. They started off at 1:25.

I say started because that number is just the first of many numbers she'll have. It's pretty much a game of trial and error to figure out what works for her. Anyhow, she and the nurse figured out how many units of insulin she need to take to cover what she ate.

We had a quick visit from Dr. Jensen, her endocrinologist, and new best friend. He wasn't going to be able to give us the big talk until later in the afternoon but he popped in to say hi. For a quick visit, he had a lot to say. lol We all gave him two thumbs up.

Next we were shown how to draw the insulin into the syringe. The nurse tried to get Mackenzie to try it out but she was not interested. The poor dear. So the nurse did and gave her the injection. Mackenzie was surprised to find that it didn't really hurt.

The brilliant nurse brought out a vile of saline (similar to how the insulin was stored) and left it and a syringe for Mackenzie to practice with. She suggested drawing it into the syringe and shooting it out like a water gun. What a great idea. Mackenzie was all over that. It was at that moment that Mackenzie started to relax a bit and feel like she could do this. I heart that nurse.

Next a dietician came in. She talked to us more about counting carbs and about eating a balanced diet. I was very surprised to learn that they didn't have any real food restrictions other then to eat a healthy, balanced diet. She can eat whatever she wants as long as she takes the insulin to cover it. Not that they recommend eating whatever you want but to maintain a healthy balance and treat yourself now and then.

Third on our list of important vistors was Linda, the diabetes educator, and Mackenzie's other new best friend. Linda, along with Dr. Jensen, make up Mackenzie's diabetes management team. They make themselves available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They not only make the decisions regarding her care and medications, they are instructing us how to take over for them one day.

Holy prescriptions Batman!!!
Linda went into more detail how to use the syringes/pens for injections. Explained a bit more about how the ratios work. Explained things we need to look out for in regards to high and low blood sugar. Introduced the scary world of glucagon. (You'll probably learn more about that when we start blogging about G.) Had us practicing giving injections. Quizzed us. Gave us all the phone numbers and emails we'll ever need. Loaded us up with reading material. She had a lot to say. My pen almost ran out of ink.

After she left it was well past lunch time and Kevin and I were starving after the pathetic breakfast we ate in the galley. (Note: if the military offers you some bacon do yourself a favor and say no. I can't believe my husband didn't warn me. Gag!) So we got Mackenzie settled with her meal and we set off in search of food and were going to pick up her prescriptions.

It had been a very sobering, exhausting, and overwhelming day so far. Who knew that we'd get our first chuckle since Dr. Love at the pharmacy. We went to the window, handed them our ID and then it was BAM!

Do you see those two large bags my husband is holding? Those are what the clerk plopped down onto the counter. They were filled to the top. And then she said, "Oh wait! I forgot something," and scurries off to get two more items. The insulin. It was in the fridge. We just started laughing and asked if we were set for the year now. Apparently what we had was a months worth of supplies. That's ONE month's worth in case you still aren't sure.

It's like Christmas only sucky
What was in the bag? Two glucose meters (complete with meter, "finger pricker", sample size blood test strips, and a handy dandy case), 6 boxes of alcohol wipes, 3 glucagon kits, 2 boxes of insulin (long-actiing and rapid), a billion boxes of blood test strips, a slightly lesser amount of ketone test strips, lancets for finger pricking, needles for injections, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Actually we're getting the pear tree with our new house. No partridge included.

Eventually Dr. Jensen came back and educated us some more. The man is brilliant and could probably have talk for weeks about diabetes. He quizzed a bit about various situations regarding her care but gave us the green light to take her home.

Generally when somebody is diagnosed with diabetes there are in the hospital for at least three days learning about how to care for the child. Unfortunately, I already had some knowledge of the disease and the care involved because our friend's sweet, sweet baby boy was already diagnosed.

So not only did our friends misfortune save our daughter's life, it got her sprung from the hospital early. Talk about bitter-sweet and mixed emotions.

As I wind down this post, you're probably wondering why the tone of it isn't as heartbroken as one might think someone in my situation would feel. It's not that I'm not heartbroken, I am. This is something she'll have to deal with every day for the rest of her life. It's just that I'm too busy being grateful to focus on the sadness.

Mackenzie is very, very fortunate that we found out the way that we did. When I say that our friend Kristy saved Mackenzie's life, it's because that's exactly what she did. Most of the time, the diabetes comes on more suddenly. More of a one minute they're fine and the next minute something is off.

Apparently Mackenzie is one of the rare people whose symptoms came on gradually. The doctor described it as a smoldering fire. It's small and almost un-noticable one mind and then BAM! You're in trouble. We were so blessed to find out before the something terrible happened.

After talking with us about the various symptoms, the doctor guesses that's she had it for quite a long time. Probably at least a year. Hindsight being what it is, there were signs. Unfortunately, a lot of the signs are also typical of a child hitting puberty. Weight loss, extreme hunger and thirst, moodiness, frequent urination, fatigue.  Mackenzie exhibited quite a few of them.

She lost a lot of weight last year during basketball season. Well running up and down a court for a few hours a week could cause that. She started eating like a horse. Typical of a growth spurt. Drank water by the gallons and then peed it out. As moody as the day is long. She's a tween. The hormones are kicking in. The only symptom she didn't really seem to have was the tiredness. She's never been a great sleeper and the diabetes didn't change that.

So as we adjust to our new normal, I'm going to continue to praise God that we found out the way we that we did because it could've been a million times worse. I'm going to rejoice that she can pretty much enjoy life as usual with just a few adjustments. And I'm going to be thankful that she's still here with us.


Monday, September 17, 2012

C is for... Chaos

We are within two weeks of our closing date on our new house. So it's a tad chaotic over here at the Smith household. For realz! Chaos is reigning supreme.

First off, I'm trying to pack while schooling my children and running them around to all of their activities. It is a certified disaster zone around here. Boxes are every where. In every room. Walls of boxes.

Enter at your own risk. Oh my!

We also have a list of things that we have to get done outside of packing. So I think I'm going to  switch to C is for Crunch Time from here on out.

In our current house we've got a long list of things we need to do to get it ready to rent out. Scrubbing, carpet cleaning, painting, some minor repairs. Not to mention find some renters and a rental company that we trust.

There is also the ever growing list of things we need for the new house. Lamps, ceiling fans, appliances, paint, bedroom furniture, a fence and on and on. None of which we can buy because the banker says no shopping until after the closing. He's no fun.

Maybe C is for Crazy is a better description? lol So how's it going at your house?


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One That Was Difficult

It was another busy week. Somehow we managed to survive.



This week we were studying pinnipeds in science. Seals, walruses, manatees, and such. We also had a field trip to the local air and space center. What does the air and space center have to do with aquatic life you ask? Nothing but they have an IMAX theater and they were showing Under the Sea in 3D for homeschool appreciation day. So we got to see an awesome film and wander around the museum. I'm going to be completely honest and say that this is my least favorite museum, except for the IMAX. Yawn! lol The only flying vehicle I'm interested in is the one that's jetting me off to somewhere fabulous.

Afterwards, we went to our friends house to do our science "co-op." We worked on our whale activities from out last lesson. They added some whales to their ocean box and did a few activities. One thing we did was  measure out the sizes of different whales.

This was where it got difficult. It was really like pulling teeth. lol The tape measure was only 50' long and many whales are longer than 50'. So we had to mark out 50' feet and start measuring again from the 50' point. You'd have thought we asked them to perform brain surgery, the pretty little dears.  Child A, you're the beginning of the whale. Stand there and don't move. Child B, you're the 50' point. Stay there so we can measure out another 40'. Child C, measure another 40' starting from Child B. Sounds simple right? One would think two 11 year olds, a ten year old, and an 8 year old could handle that, right? Getting these four to get this done was like herding cats. They couldn't stay in their spots. lol Sheesh! Finally we got it down but the mom's were ready for a stiff drink by the time we were done. Poor us!


One more lesson in MUS Epsilon. Happy, happy, happy dance.


Almost finished with our last lesson in Growing With Grammar. Happy, happy, happy dance. Since we're not doing our Sonlight yet, I have her reading a biography on Monet as her reader. Since we're doing an artist study on him and all.

Other Stuff

We almost finished with our artist study on Monet. Mackenzie is working on finishing up the Monet components of our World's Greatest Artist lapbook. No pictures though. Maybe next week.

In the sports world, she's won four out of four soccer games so far. I'm not sure how much help she was with all the ducking from the ball that she did. lol

Her favorite school activity of the week... stuff she got to do with her little sis and a review product.


Kayleigh has had a busy week too. And she's working on two review items that she loves. Our letter focus was E and her bible verse was "Even a child his known by his deeds." Proverbs 20:11. I love the Raising Rock Stars Bible printables. This time around we're using the song sheets found in the kindergarten bundle.

She did a really fun stuff in First Language Lessons. We were reading a poem about fireflies all week and that included some narration and creative expression activities. She "wrote" a story about fire flies and she was supposed to draw a picture of fireflies. I decided to nix the drawing and do this adorable firefly craft that I saw on Pinterest. All you need is some paper, goggly eyes, glue, and colorful band aids. Who knew there were so many uses for band aids? I typed up her little firefly story and glued it on her picture. So cute!!!

Her story reads...

"There were three fireflys. They were flying and flashing. They were Baby Face, Googly-Eye Face, and Wing Face. They were flying to the woods to find treasure. And it was food. It was chocolate coins. It made them chocolaty and all crazy. They danced and shaked their booties."

She also used the iPad app, ABCs of God, for her All About Reading letter practice. I like that app because it works on upper and lower case letters. And it includes Bible verses. Triple win!

We had a fabulous good time with her Sonlight books. We read a story about a puppy and made "Puppy Chow." Lemonade flavor instead of tradition chocolate peanut butter. We read another story about a greedy baker who needed to be taught a lesson so we practiced counting coins. And putting the bowl on our head. In the Berenstain Bears Book of science we read about fall and the moon so we made leaf rubbings and then made the phases of the moon out of Oreos.

Naturally Mackenzie was involved in all activities that involved food. She loves it. She would bake something every day if I let her. I don't want to be expand around the middle anymore than I already have or I'd let her. lol

She drew a picture of her sister for her Artistic Pursuits lesson. She didn't want to give her hair but she finally gave in when Mackenzie got emotional. lol Good times!

Finally she did some handwriting. A little bit in her work book and we worked with the wooden pieces and made the capital letters that we've "studied" so far.  Also pictured below: Some math sheet, and a couple shots from the air and space center. Notice that she and her sock monkey were going on a trip. To Africa, I think. They made it back safely.

So that's pretty much what we've been up to. How did your week go?


Linking up to: The Weekly Wrap-Up, Preschool Corner, Collage Friday, The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Marshall Publishing

We were recently given the opportunity to review America in the 1880's from Marshall Publishing. I don't know about you, but enjoy being able to show my children quality films about what they are studying. This DVD did not disappoint me.

About The History of America in the 1880's

From the publisher:

What was life like in the 1880's? Certainly nothing like today, yet many of the things we so cherish now had their roots during this significant and often neglected decade in history.

Just like a time machine, we'll transport you back to discover the people and events that shaped this exciting decade: the Brooklyn Bridge ...Washington Monument ...Statue of Liberty ...Gunfight at the O.K. Corral ...Oklahoma Land Rush ...Johnstown Flood ...Thomas Edison ...Mark Twain ...Baby Doe ...Sitting Bull ...Sarah Bernhardt ...John Philp Sousa ...Buffalo Bill ...Gilbert & Sullivan ...Wyatt Earp ...Jesse James ...Billy the Kid ...Alexander Grahm Bell ...John D. Rockefeller ...Andrew Carnegie ...Samuel Gompers ...Susan B. Anthony ...Lillian Russell ...and many more!

You'll learn about fashion, politics, sports heroes, famous inventors, Wall Street financiers, railroad expansion, buffalo extinction, Indian resettlement, Civil Rights, union organization, urbanization, the music of the times and much, much more!!

Wow, right? And in only 60 minutes.

Our Experience

Mackenzie and I both really enjoyed the video. It was a combination of photographs and historical footage. The narrator had what my daughter referred to as a "soothing voice." I had to agree and it also gave me a flashback to movies I'd watched as a child. lol

We learned a lot of new information as well as reviewed some stuff that we've already studying. It was nice for Mackenzie to get a visual look at some of the things she'd been studying. The section of the plight of the Native Americans was particularly touching for her, as she was very sensitive to this time period when we originally studied it. We both really enjoyed the section about the period's architecture and clothing. Mackenzie was giggling over the bathing suits.

It was also very easy to just watch a particular section as the video was divided into chapters. There is also a free study guide available on the website. It offers a summary, discussion questions, a timeline, vocabulary and more. Did I mention it was free?

There was also another video on Alexander Graham Bell. This was also jam packed with a lot of great information. This video was actually put out by the Bell Company a loooonnnnggg time ago, so it was in black and white. It wasn't as quite as attention grabbing as the 1880's portion but it was pretty good.

All in all, I thought that this video was very well done and would make an excellent supplement to any history curriculum. I'm going to be looking to see what else they offer that might compliment our studies. Other Crew members reviewed different videos and I can't wait to see what they thought.



Age Range: 4th grade and up

Cost: regularly $24.95 but it's currently on sale for $19.95 plus they are offering free shipping to my readers if you use the the code: TOS27

You can also sample many of their DVDs on their Youtube channel.


Disclaimer: I received this DVD free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family.

Monday, September 10, 2012

B is for...Busy!

Is it just me or does anyone else find that life suddenly becomes very busy in September? You'd think as a HOMEschooler, that I shouldn't feel this way. I should be a home. Schooling. Yet I find myself running around to soccer practice, play dates, piano practice, art lessons, soccer games, music class, field trips, church, youth activities.  Shew!!!  And I haven't even signed Kayleigh up for her dance lessons yet.

Fortunately, I've been able to pack most of these activities into the same day. But still... it's exhausting. Here's what we've got going on this week...

Sunday: Church. We tried a new one this week. A BBQ in our new neighborhood so we can make our new neighbors love us before we move in. As if they wouldn't... ;o)

Monday afternoon:  1:30 Play date at the park with Kayleigh's bff. Kayleigh spends sooo much time with Mackenzie's friends or waiting for Mackenzie's activities that I'll never turn down an opportunity for her to hand with her little friends.

Tuesday: Young Musicians of VA Day. We have preschool music at 10:30, art for Mack at 11, and private piano at 1:30. We bring our school work with us. Soccer practice for Mack from 5:30-7:00

Wednesday: Field trip to the Air and Space Center to see Under the See at the IMAX. Then off to our friends house to do our whale science activities. This is not a typical Wednesday. Oh and I forgot. Mackenzie might be going to the mid-week youth group Wednesday night. Sigh...

Thursday: Stay home! Praise the Lord!

Friday: Stay home! Praise the Lord even more!!!

Saturday: Soccer games...Mackenzie has 2 games at 10 and 10:30. Kayleigh has soccer tots at noon. I'm hoping Kayleigh will decide to quite after this Saturday so we can leave earlier.  Does that make me a bad mom? She doesn't really like it except for the snack at the end. lol

I think that the next time some one expresses their concern about homeschoolers and socialization, I'm going to fight the urge to smack them upside the head and make them cart my children around instead.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The Not-Back-to-School Celebration

It was back to school week for the public school kids but, for us, it was back to the museums week. We  have patiently been looking forward to the day when the museums would be empty again and that day finally arrived. This year, for our Not-Back-to-School celebration, we choose soup at UNO's for lunch and an afternoon at The Children's Museum of Virginia. It was a beautiful afternoon. We practically had the place to ourselves. We saw more staff members then other visitors. Just the way that we like it.  Woot!

Public school wasn't the only thing that started back up this week. It was back to music and art classes for the kids. And Kayleigh is finally old enough to take a class herself, preschool music. She was so excited to finally do smething besides wait for Mackenzie to finish her classes. She came out of her class proudly holding her very own music book. So cute. Mackenzie is continuing on with art and private piano. She came out of class with a list of new piano books that she needs. She absolutely must stop progressing at such a rapid rate. lol With music class came lunch in the YMV lunch room. Yay a bunch of noisy kids acting weird. Just like public school. I guess I can check off socialization.


Mackenzie's load hasn't changed much. We still haven't added in our Sonlight studies. I've decided to hold it off until after our move in a few weeks. No sense starting a great book only to have to put it on hold.

Our latest science lesson was on whales and it was totally fascinating. Obviously, we knew that whales were huge but some of the comparisons that the book made were mind blowing. The heart of the a blue whale is the size of a VW beetle. Holy cow! And the blood vessels are large enough for a baby to crawl through. Those examples really put the size of these creatures in perspective. I've decide that we will be going on a whale watching trip this winter when the whales are "in town." We're super excited about that.

We're almost finished with our Monet artist study. This week one of her assignments was to make a copycat painting of one of his works. She did an amazing job! Especially considering that she was using water colors instead of oils. You can see how it came out at the end of the post. I had no idea how talented she was at art until I started paying for her to take lessons. lol


Kayleigh plugged full speed ahead after her mini-break last week. She got right back into all her learnin'.

I made a bit of a change for Kayleigh in regards to her All About Reading lessons. Basically the book is divided into three sections: Capital letters, lowercase letters, and phonics. She is currently in the second section, letter 'd', but she is more than ready for the phonics portion. So I decided to do both at the same time.  She's doing them 4 days a week instead of two. The lessons are really short and she loves them so she didn't even notice. Since we weren't very far into the second section, it won't take long to get those sections lined up.

The fun part about the third section is that they have a "Tasty Alphabet" activity for each lesson. Since we're quickly working through a-d, and we covered a/b this week, we made applesauce in the crockpot. Both the girls helped chop the apples and the both certainly enjoyed eating it.

She finally got to work in her Handwriting Without Tears book. Unfortunately it was just a coloring activity and she was over coloring for the day. lol Not that she likes it on a good day. We also practiced her grip and learned a song about the proper way to hold a pencil. Or crayon in her case. She liked that better than the coloring.

We read lots of fun stories with our Sonlight reading and she got to pretend to be a "hotel waitress" to go along with one of our books. She was not interested in pretending to be the "hotel maid" though. lol Smart girl. I'm hoping this book, Things People Do, has a section on massage because I should would like my feet rubbed. ;o)

Other Stuff

Not only did we head back to music class but soccer has started up too. I'm a little nervous about how Mackenzie's ankle holds out since she broke it earlier this summer. She was given the go ahead but she's pretty wimpy like her momma. She's only had one practice so it's hard to gage. Her first games are this weekend so we'll see how it goes. Kayleigh also starts soccer tots this weekend. She usually refuses to play so I'm not expecting much. We stopped bringing her before the season ended last year because she never wanted to do more than play on the playground. I wouldn't be sad if that happened this year either. lol Mackenzie's games are at 9 & 10 and Kayleigh doesn't play until noon. It's a long morning with a lot waiting.

As promised, here is Mackenzie's beautiful watercolor. She painted it in about an hour. I loved watching her use the techniques she's been learning in art class. I couldn't have taught her all of that. I like to look at art, not create it. lol

 Kayleigh did some watercolor painting too because she didn't want to be left out. She's more of an abstract girl though. She also made a self-portrait as part of her Artistic Pursuits lesson. First she drew herself and then she glued on some "hair and a dress." She loved it.

And that was pretty much our week. Did you do anything special to celebrate not going back to public school?

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up, Preschool Corner, Photo Collage Friday, and the Homeschool Mother's Journal.

Review: Speekee TV

The phrase "it's a small world" has never been more true then it is now. Just hop on a plane and you can be across the globe in just a day. Our family, before Kayleigh, has been blessed to spend three years in Guam and travel a bit. Even without traveling, you're very likely to bump into someone who speaks a foreign language. Learning another language is something that can only benefit everyone.

I was very excited to learn that I was being given the opportunity to review Speekee TV with my little one. I have seen it around on various blogs and had always thought it looked interesting. And my hubby was just saying that we needed to start teaching Kayleigh another language while she was still young. God's perfect timing!

About Speekee TV


Speekee TV is an online Spanish immersion program geared for children ages 2-10.  It is designed so that children can learn Spanishin their own time and at their own pace. Includes:

** 10 episodes of Spanish

** Over 150 minutes of pure Spanish learning

** Learn Spanish from real Spanish children
in real Spanish locations

** Features songs, animation, and puppets

** Optional subtitles

** Free activity sheet downloads

** Free optional curriculum

** Created by specialist language teachers.

Our Experience

We were given a six month subscription to Speekee TV.

The first time we watched an episode, Kayleigh was very overwhelmed with the amount of information presented. It was a lot. Especially considering that it is a full immersion approach. I quickly learned to break the episodes into more manageable pieces. This is very easy to do since they already have them divided by scenes.  You can watch the whole thing or just click on a specific scene. Nice and easy!

Another nice feature of Speekee TV is that they have done all of the lesson planning for you. A nice feature for a busy homeschool mom. All I had to do was sign up for the Fast Track Lessons and they deliver them to my inbox every week. How is awesome is that? You can also access the lesson plans on line. The plans include watching the video, practicing vocabulary, making puppets, and playing games. Lots of fun!

As soon as I broke down the lessons into smaller bits, Kayleigh was all smiles. She loves the characters in the episodes and asks to watch it all the time. And she really started picking up the vocabulary. You never know when she's going to pop out with one of her Spanish phrases. She thinks it's the coolest thing ever.

They also offer other resources such as flash cards and worksheets. Kayleigh wasn't old enough to make use of these yet but they are great supplements for the older children.

All in all, we loved this program and are continuing to use it past the review period.



Age Range: 2-10

Pricing: $7.50/month or $60/year
Try it free for two weeks!


Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to this program for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A is for the Arts

Marcy, over at Ben and Me, is hosting her second round of Blogging through the Alphabet link-up.  I'm going to try and hang in for all 26 letter. Just remember that I said "try". lol

For A, I'm choosing the Arts. I like the arts in pretty much all it's forms... Music, traditional art, dance. I was pretty good at the art of dance as a child.  And I don't want to brag, but these days I'm totally gifted in the art of sarcasm. Don't hate.  ;o)

I've never been the crafty sort so art projects have never thrilled me. It's dirty and messy. But I love looking at art. And I try to include it in our homeschool even though it's not my favorite thing to do. I'm pretty good at including artist and composer studies and even some crafty type stuff. We try to go to museums, the theater, or the ballet at least a couple of times a year.

My older daughter, Mackenzie, has quite an artistic bent that took us by surprise. A few years ago we finally had the funds to get her piano lessons. It turns out that she is really gifted at it.  She's on her third year of lessons and she just continues to amaze us. Here she is playing at her second piano recital.

Last year I decided to farm out her art lessons because they were always the first things I skipped when life got busy. Boy am I glad that I did. As soon as she had proper instruction, we learned that she had a bit of gift here too. She painted this beautiful beach scene this summer and I was stunned when she brought it home.

This week, during our artist study at home, she made a copycat painting of one of Monet's works. She worked on this for about an hour and I couldn't believe what a good job she did with just the knowledge she gained last year. She painted this in about an hour using watercolors, as opposed to oils as Monet used. Not bad considering her very limited supplies at home.

I'm interested to see what Kayleigh's take on the arts will be. She does enjoy looking at art. I make a point to share famous forms of art with her. She loves to look at art in her books and museums. She was able to impress some of the employees at The Met (NYC) with her knowledge of paintings she recognized from her books a couple of years ago.

She's taken dance at the local Little Gym and we plan to move her to a regular dance studio soon. She's also started taken her first music class at our local co-op. We hope to try her out with the violin in a couple of years. For now, her regular art lessons happen at home through Artistic Pursuits and fun crafts.

So what do the arts look like at your house?


Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Reading Kingdom

We are starting the road to reading with our youngest so I was very excited to get the opportunity to review an online reading program called Reading Kingdom.

About Reading Kingdom

The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write at a third grade level.

  • Most kids can use the program on their own after just a few lessons.
  • It's fun so children think they're playing a game and want to practice.
  • It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University and one of the world's top experts in reading.
  • It works with any other curriculum a child may be using.
  • It's the only program to offer customized online reading instruction for each child.
  • And, it's the only system that teaches all 6 skills needed for reading & writing success!

Our Experience

The first thing students are asked to do in Reading Kingdom is to take the skills assessment test. They were checking to see if she understood the left to right sequence used in reading and whether or not she could match letters from the screen with letters on the keyboard. Being that she's only four, she clearly did not have any keyboarding skills so it wasn't a surprise when they placed her in the lowest level.

Unfortunately for Kayleigh, Letter Land and Seeing Sequences was just a repeat of the skills test. For more than two weeks she had to endure the same dry typing exercises over and over. And the way they repeated the same directions between every exercise dragged out the lessons even more.

Letter land was essentially teaching typing skills. The would show a letter/number/punctuation mark on the screen and she would have to type it on the keyboard. You also had the option of using an onscreen keyboard with the mouse. The mouse was easier for Kayleigh as she's been using that for years.

I was very surprised that there was so much focus on learning the keyboard required for a learn to read program. Generally, small children learning to read do not have knowledge of the keyboard, let alone the fine motor skills. And since you are given a time limit for completing each question, the fact that beginning readers do not have these the necessary motor skills for this created a lot of frustration. I did discover that you could increase the amount of time for each exercise but this did little to relieve her frustration.

And though the program claims to customized to the child, I didn't find this to be exactly true. After the first couple of days she pretty much got mastered the sequencing exercises, yet it didn't move her to the next level. You do have the option of contacting the company and they will move your child's level behind the scenes but I don't think of that as being truly customized. She had to complete another two weeks of this and it was not pleasant for either of us. Honestly, she was in tears every time we used the program. I kept telling her that once she finished this level that she would be playing some fun reading games and I wound up forcing her to complete the lessons so that she could get to the fun part.

Finally the day arrived where she completed these levels and advanced to Reading/Writing Level 1. I was so happy. We sat down that day eager to try out the much anticipated games and start learning to read.

Right off the bat, she was asked to type the word kid. The directions are given verbally so she didn't see the word at all. They just expected a four year, who can read a hand full of sight words, to spell a word she had no prior reading knowledge of. She just typed in whatever, I think she got 'k' right, and eventually they showed the correct spelling. Next they had her find the word among a few other words  and eventually she was able to recognize it in a group. Finally they gave you the target word and several similar words with missing letters. She had to click on the word that could be the target word and then type in the missing letters. Then it started all over again with a new target word. Sadly, these activities did nothing to alleviate her frustration or add to her enjoyment of the program. I was very disappointed that there still wasn't a game-like feel to the activities.

In the end, I would not recommend this as a learn to read program. The amount of keyboard knowledge excepted of the learner is way too much for the average beginning reader. I don't know any 4, 5, or 6 year olds who have the keyboard skills required of this program. And the drill like nature of the activities in not engaging enough for the average young child.

I did find the graphics to be colorful and friendly.  Occasionally my daughter would giggle at some of the onscreen antics through her tears. I also liked that they sent email updates each week so I could keep up with her progress.

If you have a young child who has adequate keyboard skills, then I would suggest you take a look at this program. An older child who struggles with reading might also do well. Their philosophy is an interesting one, as they put a slightly different twist on phonics and whole language. You can read a more detailed account how How Reading Kingdom is Different from Other Programs to see if it's right for your child.



Age Range: 4-10

Cost: $19.99/month of $199.99/year  They also offer a free 30-day trial and a scholarship program.


Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to this site for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family.


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