Friday, March 29, 2013

Another winter promise Fail

If you don't already know it, I am not a huge fan of the winter promise curriculum.  The company itself or the crappy product that they peddle.

Why you might ask? Here's the short list...

winter promise Recap

1) The crappy customer service. It's the worst. It took 5 months to get my (incomplete) order. FIVE MONTHS. Really. And I never received confirmation of what I would be receiving. When it would be shipping. Not even a packing list. I never did get everything.  You can read about my thoughts as it happened.

2) The material that I used, children around the world, was a complete pile of junk.  The maps were incorrect. All the freaking time. The IG was a complete and utter mess. Page numbers wrong time and time again for starters.  The notebooking pages were crap. Several of the books published by them were filled spelling and grammar errors. I could go on and on with specifics. But I'm not going to now because I already did.  Click the link and see all the horrible mistakes I found during the five weeks that I used the program. The link will show the posts starting with the most recent so you might want to click to the start of it all.

3) The return policy is a JOKE.  Please read this carefully and note the part I highlighted.

Basically, three weeks after I got the stickers and one book, my chance to return this crap was over. You know, since it took another 5 months to get the rest.

4) They know their product is junk and they don't care.  I talked with the owner on several occasions. I went into explicit detail about the errors that I found. On one product, the $30 book filled with spelling and grammar errors, he owned up to. Sort of. They knew it was like that but sold it anyway without alerting the customer. The rest he played dumb about.

Which makes him a liar because I researched their message boards and found post after post showing people complaining about the very issues I spoke of. People had been posting about it for years.  His responses were less then satisfactory and an embarrassment to his company.

Please be sure to click the links so that you know what you're getting into when you purchase from them. We lost thousands of dollars to this company. We're blessed that it didn't break us, but not every one is in the same financial position as we are.

So Why am I Bringing this up Again?

First and foremost, because I'm very passionate about making sure that other people don't get ripped off by them the way that I was.

Secondly, they're still trying to rip you off.  Last year they started venturing in the world of e-books. I thought that was an interesting tactic. I figured at the very list it would be easier for them to correct errors and stop sending people the error riddled physical books. At least with an e-book they could correct the error and send you a new link or something.

My bad for giving them the benefit of the doubt again. I don't know whether or not they would update an error because no way in heck am I giving them a dime of my money again. But here's what I do know.

They will charge you shipping on your e-book!!!!!  That's right they are making their customers pay shipping on something that they can email. Holy Creep of the Year Batman!!!  Who does that?

In an effort to be fair and not take somebody's word on this fact. I loaded up my cart with an e-book. I'll let my e-cart do the talking.

What losers!  

And now you've been warned.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: The Art of Poetry


Three words that always get me excited are Classical Academic Press.  I have used and loved their Bible and Logic programs and drooled over their language programs. I love them. I was super excited to see that they had something new on the horizon, poetry!!! And guess what came to my door? Their new Art of Poetry Program.

About The Art of Poetry

The program consists of a student text, teacher's edition, and DVD lessons, available as a bundle or separately. They also offer free MP3 files and weekly schedules. There's even an Art of Poetry Blog written by the author.

The study covers the following units: The Elements of Poetry, including images, metaphor, symbols, etc. The Formal History of Poetry, including movement, verse forms, shaping forms, open verse and more. It also includes a section on applying poetry in your life and biographies of the poets in the book.

The teacher's edition includes a complete copy of the student text as well as detailed explanations of the poems, an answer key to the Anthology exercises, a poetry time line, quizzes with answer keys, and suggestions for teaching poetry. Hallelujah!!!!!!!

The study was written as an introduction to poetry for those of us who might have trouble understanding and enjoying poetry. Hi my name is Stefanie and I'm pretty good at comprehending Shel Silverstein and not much else.  Sign me up!!!!!

Our Experience

I am not a poetry buff. I don't really remember studying or reading a lot of poetry in school beyond the "funny poems." I don't even pretend to understand the "deep stuff." It's like a foreign language to me.

Mackenzie has read a lot of poetry. She reads at least one book of poems each year. However, in the seven years we've been homeschooling, all we do is read them. There is no real study or discussing them usually. This program is certainly something that can only benefit us.
We received the complete Art of Poetry bundle. Since I am completely inept when it comes to this topic, I scoured the How to Use This Book, scheduling,  and Instructions to the Teacher sections. One of the first things that I read was "Do not let this book overwhelm you." That didn't make me feel better. I was overwhelmed by the size alone.

For the purpose of the review, I decided to use the One-Year Suggested Schedule which covers one lesson in about 2 weeks. This schedule would definitely be too much for us long term, due to my inexperience with this topic. There are also suggested schedules for Half-Year, Four-Year, and Elective/Co-op plans. Something for everyone.

The book also suggested culling the lessons for younger students and to ignore the more difficult material. We stuck to the most basic of activities.

We spent the first week reading the lesson on imagery and the poems that reinforce the lesson. We discussed some of the poems, talked about the vocabulary and did some of the suggested activities that were appropriate for a sixth grader. Our favorites were free write images from one of the four seasons, describe an image that is important to you, or figure out which sense is most important to you. There were several others but they were definitely for older students.

This was a rough week for me. It was an eye opener to see just how lacking my education was in this area. I relied heavily on the teachers notes to provide any insight. There is no way that I would've come up with any of this stuff on my own. I'm not even sure how the author came up with it, I'm that clueless.

Mackenzie faired a little better with being able to find images within the poem. It really showed me how beneficial reading poetry from a young age really is. If she were a little older, she'd probably do better with this program without me. =o)

During the second week of the lesson we got to view the DVD portion. Here is where the heavens opened up and the angels started singing. Oh my oh my, how I love the DVD. In a nutshell, the author teaches the course to four eighth grade students. It was like I was taking the class myself. And I don't even feel bad that those eighth graders are way smarter than me when it comes to poetry. They came up with stuff that we'd never have come up with on our own.

When we finished watching the lessons, we repeated the activities that we had done the week before. It was so much easier for us the second time around. Amazing!  We pretty much had the same experience with the second lesson on metaphors. We needed the DVD to get us through.

While this didn't turn out exactly as I expected, I found the Art of Poetry to be a very good curriculum. It offers a lot of flexibility, teacher helps, and easy to read texts. If I were going to change anything about the curriculum, it would be the set up of the teacher's edition. The answer keys and notes were separate from the student pages which meant a lot of flipping back and forth as I read poems and attempted to discuss them.

If you are a totally "poem illiterate person," like moi, it might be hard to use this program without the DVDs. I think they are worth every penny.  I also think that sixth is really a little young for this program, unless your student has a real passion and gift for poetry.  I found that the program has so much meat that it would be a wonderful thing to use for high school credit.

And I think that is exactly how I plan on using it in the future. Until then I plan on using it to bone up my own poetry knowledge. :o)



Age Range: sixth through high school


       $99.95 for the bundle (student text, teacher's edition, DVD set) as of 4/1, currently $124.95
       $24.95 for the student text
       $29.95 for the teacher's edition
       $69.95 for the DVD set as of 4/1, currently $89.95


Friday, March 15, 2013

Y & Z

Y is for...

When They Were Young

That was then.

This is now. (Plus a cute little blonde.)

Can you believe the nerve of these kids, growing like that? I feel like punishing them. Just a tad. For all of this growing that they insist on doing. You know how much I hate that.  Unacceptable!

Z is for...


We paid a visit to the local zoo on Monday because it was the first anniversary of my little buddy's first birthday. (You must know by now that I will not accept his growing either.) We even had beautiful weather!

It's not much of a zoo. You can take in everything in under two hours. But these kids don't know any better. Well Mackenzie does because she's been to Australia and their zoos are in a whole different league then anything we have here. But she was younger then so she doesn't remember it as well as I do.

But the zoo here does have giraffes and I consider them to be the most important of all the zoo animals. I love them. The poor giraffes are abused by the tail-biting ostrich. He's just jealous of their beautiful coat while he has mange and is loosing his feathers.

Peacocks who would not show off their feathers for me. Sigh... I'm going to find a mating call and blare over my phone next time.

A red panda who is in the EXACT SAME SPOT every time we come. Every. Single. Time. I don't mind because it's a great spot for taking pictures. You can even get a good shot of him sticking his tongue out at you. 

Some other creatures like elephants monkeys, pig like creatures, an ostrich, and, of course, butt monkeys. You might call them baboons. Kayleigh doesn't. ;)

We took the wildest of all the creatures home with us.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Touch Math

logo photo touchlogo_zps5760f524.jpg

Math is one of those subjects that we need to be comfortable with, as we will be using it everyday of our lives. It's also one of those subject that can be the most frusterating. Particularly if the program that you're using doesn't mesh with your student's learning style. One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is the ability to use a program that works best for you child. Sometimes you can go through quite a few math programs to find just the right one. But to be able to do that is HUGE because it's such an important subject. Kayleigh and I were recently given the opportunity to review TouchMath and to start our quest for finding what works for her.

About TouchMath

Kindy photo 252441_10151402041329867_1022020412_n_zps5216bf56.jpg

TouchMath is a multi-sensory math program for grades pre-k through second grade. It is designed to engage all of the learning styles. Their philosophy: Reach and Teach All Learners. They do this by incorporating four of the major senses, touch, hearing, seeing, saying, into the program through the use of manipulatives and work sheets. TouchMath helps students master concepts by seeing it, saying it, hearing it, touching it, and learning it.
The secret to their success are their signature TouchPoints. Each number, 1-9, TouchPoints that correspond to the number's value. So the number 3 has three TouchPoints. These provide students with a tactile experience while counting. And since most math operations are based on counting, these TouchPoints are used throughout the program to help the student achieve mastery.

Our Experience

We received the complete TouchMath Kindergarten Program along with the TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software, 3-D Numerals, and TouchShapes.  The manipulatives are not necessary for the program but they are certainly beneficial.

My initial impression was positive. I loved how sturdy and well made the manipulatives were, the software was easy to install on our Mac, and I loved how clean and uncluttered the student pages were.

The program itself was divided into four units and further divided into 24 modules, six per unit. Unit A covers counting & adding and subtracting within 5. Unit B covers adding and subtracting within 9. Unit C covers understanding numbers 1-20. And lastly, Unit D covers measurement, data, and geometry.

The implementation guide is very detailed with how to use the program. They recommend spending 2.5 minutes times for every year of the child's developmental age working on math. Each module includes anticipatory sets, pre-activities, guided and independent learning, review, real world connections and more.

During the review period we worked through Module 1 of Unit A with a focus on counting to 100. The pre-activites included things like counting various objects, writing numbers in sand or salt, going on a number walk. Then you moved into the guided activities using the work sheets. This module had the student working on counting ten numbers at a time. One day you'd be working on 21-30, then 31-40, and so on and so forth, until you had mastered counting to 100.  It was a lot of writing and tracing which didn't necessarily thrill my "doesn't like to write" daughter so I spiced it up by adding in things like dot paint.  It's important to know your student. ;)

Since this module was mainly just counting and tracing the numbers, I decided to breakout the software. The software works with the mouse, keyboard, or touch screens if you have them. The program is bright and colorful with clear directions. It offers praise when the student gets the problem right and just a simple "try again" if they didn't. No stress.

I should mention that Kayleigh IS NOT a big fan of playing on the computer. Very rarely does she ever ask to play anything on it. If fact, she'll often have a fit if I even mention it.  So it was to my surprise that she didn't once complain about using the program. The lesson's were short enough to keep from feeling overwhelmed and she loved Uno Bear and the beach theme. So far, all we've done with it is learn the numeral touch points, but boy did she learn them quickly. I'm excited to see what she thinks of the rest of the program.

A few weeks into our review period I decided to start Module 2. We hadn't really gotten into the meat of the program yet, or touched any of the manipulatives either and I wanted to include those in the review. So we alternated lessons between the 2 modules and it worked out well. Module 2 was on representing numbers with manipulatives. Boy did that work out for us. ;)

She got to use the TouchShapes to represent the written numbers as well as learn what a number line was. As we work on each number, I bring out the 3-D Numerals so that she can practice counting the touch points that she learned from the computer software.  They're also fun to just play with. ;) And Kayleigh was very pleased to find that this module had a lot less writing involved.

Next up for us will be writing and comparing numbers and we're both excited to see what's in store.



Age Range: preschool-second grade

Pricing: $199.95 for the entire program or $59.95 per unit.

                 Manipulatives are extra.  TouchShapes - $30, 3-D Numerals - $79,
                 TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software - $99


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One Where We Stay Home... Mostly

We didn't do much outside of the house this week, just our weekly co-op for music and art. How nice it is for home schoolers to stay home. That's rare. And I love it. Being a full time pancreas for 2 extra people on top of homeschooling and running a house is exhausting.


Mackenzie was wrapping up India and moving onto the Arab countries. She was excited because she currently has 2 readers scheduled. The more reading the better. Even with two on the schedule, she still wants to read extra. Good news for her, we have a review item coming up that will require her to add yet another book to her reading list. Lucky girl!

She read the Tale of Aladdin this week and she got annoyed because it wasn't like the movie. lol A lot like Pocahontas, huh Mackenzie?

In other news, we have 6 more weeks left of our core. Woo-hoo!!! If only the same could be said for math and grammar. We're pretty close to being done with science though.

She's happily moved on from the metric system for now and is back to her preferred decimals. Multiplying to be specific.

We are currently studying mollusks in science. I had no idea that a squids or octopus were mollusks. I don't know why, but that blew my mind. lol Maybe it's the sleep deprivation?? I was also fascinated to learn that the holes in all those clam shells we've found at the beach over the years were mostly likely drilled by whelks looking for dinner. They don't look that tough.

Rumor has it that her piano teacher will be choosing recital pieces soon. Mackenzie is very excited!!

Mackenzie has also been researching insulin pumps because she is looking to feel more normal. Having to inject insulin in front of the world isn't any more fun then having to inject insulin at all.  She has narrowed it down to two and is waffling back and forth between the them. Hopefully, she'll make her choice soon so we can get the ball rolling.


Kayleigh is Kayleigh. She likes what she likes and doesn't like everything else. This week she liked practicing her sight words with nerf gun, painting her letter craft, and using her Handwriting Without Tears manipulatives. She didn't like coloring her sight words, she did a good job of it.

She also enjoyed having her "finger prints" taken after reading about policemen in The Things People Do.  She really, really liked making a puffy painting of a snowman (equal parts glue and shaving cream) after reading a snowman poem in Language Lessons for Little Ones.

She is still a reluctant little cheerleader. And it appears she might be a reluctant little swim student because she's going to be getting some lessons soon and, despite the fact she loves the water, she is gripping about having to take the lessons. Sigh. She is exhausting.

How did your week go?


Linking to Weekly Wrap-Up, Preschool Corner, Photo College Friday, Homeschool Mother's Journal

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brought to you by W & X...

So I'm a little behind in my blogging through the alphabet posts. So this week and next week you're getting a twofer so I can finish on time. How lucky are you?

W is for...

Ways I Cope With Having 2 Children With Diabetes

Long story short, I use sarcasm and my own personal brand of humor. I liken diabetes to a man and then discuss all the ways I'd like to hurt it. Usually on FB or through texts. It's very cathartic and lots of fun.  If you have good friends, they'll join in.

 My bestest friends and I might one day compile all of our diabetes insults and create a diabetes slam book.  It'll be a great read, I'm sure.

I also enjoy taking photos of the insane amount of prescriptions that we get every time we go to the pharmacy. It's so comical that I just can't stop myself. And I always refer to it all as our "drug paraphernalia." I just can't seem to help myself.

 It might all be weird but it works for me.  =o)

X is for...


Yes I know that excited doesn't technically start with X I don't care, it sounds like it does and that's good enough for me.

So why am I excited? Because we're planning a vacation. To somewhere fun. Somewhere where we have nobody to please but ourselves. And we're going with our good friends.

So where are we going?

Woo-hoo!!!!  I can't wait.  Only 9 more months.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

First Day, March 2013

The first day of March started like every other day, with our first, of MANY, blood glucose check of the day. Once the numbers are known we spend a few minutes entering them, and the numbers from the previous night, into our log book.

Next up, breakfast. We have to figure out all of the carbs for everything they eat, so it takes a little longer. Then I figure out how much insulin they need to cover their food. While I make breakfast, Mackenzie gives herself her insulin. Kayleigh gets hers after because she doesn't always eat everything so we don't want her to drop low because of the insulin. Kayleigh was bored today so she "made her own breakfast." Apple and potato soup with a hint of lime.

Finally, they get to eat and Kayleigh gets her shot.

Time for school!!! Kayleigh got a pass on school today because we were going out to lunch and on a field trip with our friends in the afternoon. So Mackenzie and I just worked on her stuff.

Next on the list, and not pictured, naughty children bickering, fighting and generally being unkind and disagreeable. It's starting to become a common occurrence around here so I decided to do something drastic to get my point across. So I cancelled our afternoon outing so they could practice getting along with each other.

So we repeated our blood glucose check and moved onto lunch and insulin at home.

I think they might be starting to get it because they got along wonderfully for most of the afternoon.

While they played, I cleaned since we were having some friends over for pizza and games this evening. My favorite cleaning chore...

Vacuuming with my beloved Kirby. If I would've had time, I'd have fluffed the carpet too. But I also had to do my second to least favorite chore...

 The worst part is that the cage only stays clean if you keep the piggies out of it. Filthy piggies!!!

Then the girls were grumbling for snacks.  Time for yet another blood glucose check. They girls opted to have zero carb hard boiled eggs for a snack so that they could avoid having to face another needle. How sad is it that they have to eat to live, and they have to get a shot to eat so the food doesn't hurt them?

Our emergency glucagon expired today so I gathered up all of the expired ones and put out new ones in  places that we might need them in case of an emergency. The emergency being that their blood sugar drops so low that they pass out or have seizures. It's the scariest part of diabetes in my opinion. And the giant needle is freaking scary too.

Finally is was time for fun with our friends. We ate pizza, the kids did whatever kids do, and the grown-ups played a couple of games. The pizza, of course, involved a few more shots. Our little buddy Connor has type 1 diabetes too. Good times!!

If you're not queasy about needles, you should join us next time!!!


On the 1st of every month, snap some shots of your normal everyday life.  
Then link up at Journey To Josie!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Lone Star Learning


The English language can often be confusing because, well, because it's such a mix of other languages. French, German, Dutch, Greek, Latin. The English language has "borrowed" from them all. A vocabulary test or a science lesson can be confusing for a student.

Enter Lone Star Learning's awesome Get the Picture Vocabulary Cards. We were able to review their Greek and Latin Root cards and they were a wonderful addition to quite a few of our studies. We study Latin and we use a Greek word roots vocabulary study so we were sure to get a lot of use out of these cards.

Greek and Latin Roots

PhotobucketIn a nutshell, these cards take common roots and illustrate them to look like their meaning. Simple, yet powerful. Especially for your visual student.

We received Set 1 there are 60 cards in the set, 30 Greek roots and 30 Latin roots. The cards themselves are printed on heavy card stock with beautiful, full-color illustrations. And they are wonderfully sized at 5.5" x  8.5". They were made in the grand old USA (woot!) and they were made to last. I will definitely be able to use these again with my little one when the time comes.

The easiest way for us to use the cards was just review them often like regular flashcards. The first time we used them we had a blast "figuring them out."   We also would take two cards and put them together to make another word, like "tele + scop." It was really interesting to see how many words we knew that were made with these roots.

Mackenzie would also refer to the cards when working on several of her school subjects. They came in handy for her vocabulary study, Latin, science, and even some of our read alouds. Vocabulary knows no bounds.

The company suggests many fun ways that you can use these cards. You could play a game of concentration, go on a vocabulary walk, make an interactive word wall, write a song or rap, and lots more. Many of the activities would be great to use in a co-op setting with a group of children.

I definitely found these cards to be a useful, and fun, addition to our home school. Mackenzie loves them and they're helping her retain things that she's studied before and then forgotten. She'll never forgot what a decapod is again. :o) And while marketed for a younger age group, who wouldn't rather use these cards for SAT prep instead of those boring test prep booklets?

These cards aren't limited to just Greek and Latin studies either. They have sets for math, science, and other areas of language arts. If you'd like to see some of the other products offered by Lone Star,  be sure to to click the read more button below and check out what my Crew Mates reviewed.


Age Range: 3rd-8th
Price: $39.99



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