Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Homeschool in the Woods

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Homeschooling has done more than afford me to teach my children, it's also taught me a lot about myself. One of the more surprising things that I have learned about myself during this homeschool adventure is that I like the arts. I was really surprised when we did our first artist and composer studies to see how much that I enjoyed them. Sure I took art classes during my public school career but paintings, artists, composer studies were not something covered in my public school life.

I was very excited to find out that Homeschool in the Woods was offering us the chance to review some of their activity packs. Seeing as we were currently in-between a composer study I was very excited to be reviewing the Composer Activity Pack.

About Activity Packs

In a nutshell, an activity pack is a unit study in the form of a lap book. The Composer Activity Pack contains six projects that cover various eras from the Middle Ages to Modern times. It includes an introduction to the orchestra, 42 composers, vocabulary, a timeline, and 29 pieces of music in MP3 format.

You get to work on the following projects: Periods of Music, Keyboard Vocabulary, Composer Collection, Composers Timeline, Pieces with a Purpose, Music Appreciation, The Orchestra File Folder Display, and Composer Cards.

It is jam-packed!!!!!

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Our Experience

We received the download version of the activity pack. Each page was a separate PDF file that had to be opened. That was a bit of a pain at first. However once I got to print mode, I found that to be a bonus when I had to print things on different types of paper.

This activity pack can be used in a variety of ways. You could use it as is for an overview. You could add music and reading to it and use it as a long term composer study. I was looking for a long term study so that is how I chose to use it.

The activities contain a very limited amount of information about the topics and composers so you will need to take time to find additional resources, mainly books and additional music. While there are 29 MP3s included, there are 42 composers. We are fortunate to have a lot of resources already, particularly music, so it wasn't that much of a hassle for us. But you should know upfront that you will need to do some sort of research whether from books or on the internet.

Since I planned to use this long term, I decided to start off with the activities that were more of an overview of the history of music. We read books about the orchestra and worked on the interactive orchestra portion.

Next we did the Periods of Music activities.  We talked about the differences between the periods and listened to some samples of music from each period. Then we worked on the timeline so we could see where the different composers fit into history.

The authors recommend doing all of the activities first and then adding them to the lap book all at once. I decided to add them as we went since we will be using it over the next few months. We are an impatient sort and don't like to wait. ;)

Next on our agenda will be to study each of the composers more in depth. We plan on going more in depth than the information provided in the activity pack.  We will be adding in more reading and doing a lot of listening to each composer's music. Mackenzie will be choosing her favorite piece from each composer and filling out the Music Appreciation sheets to keep in her lap book.

We have used Homeschool in the Woods map sets and timeline figures in the past and really enjoyed them.  This activity pack was no exception. The graphics were fabulous, the activities fun, and we are learning. We found the instructions for assembly to be clear and easy to follow.

The only thing I think I would change would be the lack of teaching information. We aren't new to composer studies so we had some available but this might hinder others. I would like see at the very least a list of suggested resources or websites included.

If you are looking for a fun way to include a composer study into your homeschool, and don't mind a trip to the library, then I would definitely consider the Composer Activity Pack.  You will have a lovely keepsake when you are finished.


Website:  http://www.homeschoolinthewoods.com

Age Range: third through eighth grade

Pricing: $18.95 for the download version and $19.95 for the CD


Thursday, April 18, 2013

You Know You're a T1P (Type 1 Parent) When...

As you might know, 100% of our offspring have type 1 diabetes. (Excessive, right?) It involves a lot of math, a lot of needles, a lot of tears, a lot of unpredictability, a lot of doctors visits, and a lot trips to the pharmacy.

Recently Mackenzie, our older daughter, got an insulin pump. A rocking green Animas Ping to be specific. A pump is just a another method of insulin delivery. As opposed to multiple daily injections.

So yesterday was her first day using insulin in the pump. Finding the right settings for the pump is a lot of trial and error and requires a lot monitoring. It's a little stressful as you deal with highs and lows while you figure it all out. All the same, she enjoyed her day with no shots and we got her set for bed. The 2 a.m. check rolls around. She was 71.

Not a terrible number for you or I, but a bit on the low side for a diabetic. Especially at night. And she is never that low at night. So we carb her up a bit with some peanut butter crackers and head back to bed.

About 20 minutes later, just when we're back to sleep, we hear this loud beeping over one of the monitors. (We have monitors in both the girls rooms incase they need us.) We jump up and I say, "What is that?" Kevin shouts, "It's her pump!" And we rush to her room.

You Know You're a T1P When...

You hear a loud beeping noise in your house at night and your first thought is that it pertains to your child's medical devices.  We rush in to her room and find her cowering and shaking in her bed. But not because her blood sugar was low. Because the smoke detector scared the ever lovin' out of her.

Yes it was the smoke detector. We checked for fire, none, Kevin messes with the detector. It's seems to be fine. We do another quick sugar check (96) and go back to bed. The instant, I mean the instant, our head hit the pillow. It goes off again. Twice.

Actually it was 2 smoke detectors. One in Mackenzie's room and one right outside Kayleigh's door.  Low battery.  We haven't even lived here long enough to warrant a change. Cheap, builder's grade batteries.  I have several new gray hairs.


P.S. Mike and Young Joe (builders) you might want to make sure that you drive by my house with your windows rolled up or you might find yourself pelted with your cheap batteries. Seriously, spring for Energizer next time.

P.P.S. Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Progeny Press Study Guides

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We are book worms to our very core around here. We love 'em. We'll give any book a try and if it's a good book, we'll read it again and again. Because of this love literature has the starring role in our homeschool. We are literature based all the way.  And when we get a review that feeds this love, we are thrilled.

We were totally blessed when we reviewed Progeny Press Study Guides last year. We enjoyed the first one so much that we have used several since then. We about jumped for joy when we were given the opportunity to review another one. Up this time, The Golden Goblet Study Guide.

About Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a family owned company who strives to teach cultural literature from a Christian perspective. They offer over 100 guides for kindergarten through high school. The guides are designed to teach your student understand literature through critical thinking, literary analysis, reading comprehension along with a Christian application.

Our Experience

We received the instant download version of the guide. It comes in an interactive PDF format which means that your student can type on it and includes a separate answer key. My daughter LOVES this feature because she'd rather type than write any day. You, of course, always have the option of printing out the activities and a few, like crossword puzzles, require printing.

 photo a64739f13876d7e650edf3_m_zps62f7a3c9.jpgThe guide starts you off with an overview of the book and information about it's author. You are then given several pre-reading activities. These included things like researching topics pertaining to the book, map work, field trips, and video suggestions.

You were then given a couple of "As You Read" ideas. We found these to be really interesting.  One idea was to create a map of the city of Thebes based on details and places from the story. Such a fun way to get the student to pay attention to the details.

Vocabulary and literary terms are a large part of the guide. There are straight forward comprehension question and questions that require the student to infer more. offer opinions, and think more deeply about what they read. And get this? There are sample answers to the more open-ended questions. This mom loved that!!! Then there is the "Dig Deeper" questions that get the student thinking about the story from a Christian world view.  At the end of each section there are optional activities to extend the learning. They range from deeper discussion ideas, field trips to further the learning, and more.

Like the previous guides that we have used from Progeny Press, this one was incredibly user friendly and easy to use. All that you need is the book, a good Bible, and the guide. Just open up and go.  And not only does it get her digging deeper into what she's reading, it's reinforcing her language arts lessons. The activities talk about imagery, synonyms, metaphors, and a billion other things that she's studied. Only now she's seeing them in context. I love that!

Once again, Progeny Press has exceeded our expectations. The guides are so well done and interesting that Mackenzie enjoys doing them. I have a running list of the guides that they offer that go along with our studies because they are such an easy way to add depth to our read alouds.


Website: http://stores.progenypress.com/StoreFront.bok

Age Range:  The guide we reviewed was for middle school but they offer a large variety of guides for  K-12. Check out the complete listing.

Pricing:  (For the Golden Goblet Guide) $16.99 for the CD or instant download and $18.99 for the print version. Prices may vary depending on the guide you choose.

Find Progeny Press on Facebook.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

What Not to Say

Since our girls have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we have heard a lot of little "tidbits" from people. One of the most prevalent is "they'll get used to it."

I don't think so...

What I do think is that there is  A LOT of misinformation and confusion about type 1 diabetes out there. With that in mind, my husband and I try not to take offense when we hear that phrase, even though those words make us cringe. After all, we didn't know anything about it until we had to. Mackenzie, on the other hand, gets very upset by comments like that.

Does any one really get used to...

Having to count every carb that they put in their mouth before they can eat it? You're often still counting the carbs while everyone else is already eating.

Having to prick your finger with a needle 4-10 times a day, every day, no vacations?

Getting a shot every time you want to eat? Hooray, Halloween candy. Then you remember the shot and it's suddenly not that exciting. At best, if you have a pump, you can exchange the shots for a site change every 2 or 3 days.

Having to take a shot of long acting insulin that stings so badly that you cry almost every night?

Having people stare at you while you get your shot when you eat in public? Or the constant questions regarding your pump? "What is that?" "What is that tube hanging off of you?"

Having to eat candy because they are low not because they'd just enjoy a piece of candy? Or a juice box?

Getting a shot while you're trying to sleep because your blood sugar spiked for some unknown reason?

Getting woken from a deep sleep because your blood sugar is dangerously low and you need to be treated?  Funnily enough, when the girls were first diagnosed this was a bit of perk. It seemed exciting to be woken in the middle of the night and get a juice box and a snack.

It's not anymore. They're exhausted and just want to sleep. While they can pretty much drink a juice box in their sleep, it can be a battle if they have to chew anything.  Kayleigh, in particular, really gets upset.  Take a look.

Wondering if this is the night that you drop low and nobody catches it? That is not a particular worry for my girls right now because we don't talk about that side of diabetes with them. But one day they will be on their own and caring for themselves and that will be a very real fear.

I don't think that my girls will ever really get used to it. Resigned to it, sure. They have no choice because, right now, this is their forever.

So the next time you meet a type one diabetic, maybe you can be the person who says something encouraging them. Something like, "Wow. I know that this disease is really hard. I'm really impressed with how well you manage it." And if you really want to make them feel good, take the time to learn a little big about their condition and share it with them the next time you bump into them. I know that my girls feel so loved whenever somebody really takes the time to understand what they're going through.


And before you leave, I'd LOVE it if you took a moment to learn about the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes so that you'll know what to look for in your loved one. And feel free to share the knowledge.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2013It's time for the annual Ultimate Blog Party Link-Up from 5 Minute Moms.  What is the Blog Party? Just an easy way to "meet" other blogger mommies and make new friends.

It's easy to join. Just write a quick post about yourself and your blog and link-up. Easy Peasy!!

Who Am I?

I am Stefanie, wife to Kevin, homeschooling mommy to Mackenzie (12) and Kayleigh (5), daughter of the King.  I am also fluent in sarcasm, so read on with caution. ;)

In a previous life I used to love reading, blogging, photography, and digital scrapbooking. Then type 1 diabetes entered my life in a big way when both of my daughters were diagnosed with it within two months of each other.  I still love those things but homeschooling, on top of being a full time pancreas for two extra people, is incredibly time consuming so I don't get to do them as often as I'd like.

Why Do I Blog?

 photo pig2_zps42f4c1b6.jpgIt started as a way to keep our family in touch with Mackenzie's life when we were stationed in Guam for three years. (Former military family here.)  It then evolved into an online scrapbook of our homeschooling adventures for my daughters.

These days I continue to blog about our homeschooling, product reviews for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, and, most importantly, a peek into what life with type 1 diabetes is like. It's my goal to make more people aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes as well as clear up the misconceptions between type 1 and type 2. 

So welcome to my corner of the blogosphere!!  I hope you'll stay and check it out.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April Fools

Mother Nature played an April Fool's trick on us this year.  On April Fool's day we had a beautiful day with a balmy 73 degrees. Bee-you-tee-ful!!!! The trick was that the lovely weather was for one day only. Spring is over again. lol

But since it was warm out, and Grandma and Grandpa were in town, we headed out to Williamsburg to enjoy the sunshine.  So here's our trip in pictures. We brought Grandmas dog and he wasn't welcome in those buildings any more than he was welcome in our house. lol (He stayed with Uncle Donnie, or Uncle Doggie, as Kayleigh calls him. Now we know why. lol) So walked around and enjoyed the wonderful weather.

Weasley drank puddle water and lived to tell the tale. An April Fool's Miracle!  
Authentic Colonial Bamboo Forest????

The highlight of the trip was the 110 year old tree that my kids loved climbing. We spent most of our time there by the tree. lol My girls had the best time. I guess sometimes they can be easy to please.



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