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Friday, April 21, 2017

New Review: SpeedyPrep! (CLEP Practice)

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Review Crew

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I received a free six-month subscription to SpeedyPrep, an online CLEP (College Level Examination Program) preparation program. If you haven't heard of a CLEP test, it's a test that you can take to test out of certain college courses. You can read all about CLEP exams and how SpeedyPrep can prepare you or your student here. (You sign up and pay for the CLEP on your own, it's not part of the course.)

There are 24 courses offered when you subscribe to SpeedyPrep, and each course is created following College Board guidelines. Because they are set up to help you pass college-level tests, they obviously cover college level material. Among the courses are history, algebra, Spanish, and the course I had my son, Dode, 17, test, English composition. SpeedyPrep recommends the product for student 16 and up who have already taken the high school level of the subject.

What are the pros of this product?
The material presented is very thorough. We barely scratched the surface of what was available to us. It's a simple and straightforward approach. You are given a "flashcard" with a question (that usually contains a blank) and five possible answers. After you answer, you will be given an explanation as to why you are right or wrong. (You can also watch videos to get a more thorough explanatin of each topic.) It uses a progress bar to reflect your success as you work through the course. Once you get to at least 90%, you should be able to pass the CLEP test in that subject. As a matter of fact, they guarantee it. 

The nice thing is that you are literally tested as you go along. There is no reading and studying before you start being "tested." As soon as you get the question right a few times, it will show up on your progress bar. Because the program uses a mastery approach, you don't get "false positives" by guessing something, getting it right, then never seeing that kind of question again. However, after a few times, you will start seeing the progress little bar turning green. ;)

You can use this program with multiple students as long as they aren't using the same course. So your daughter could study chemistry and your son English, but they both couldn't study Spanish. Each course has its own progress bar and it's set up to be used just once. I guess that's a pro or con depending on your family's needs. :)

What's not to like? 
Because there is a lot of repetition built into the program to ensure mastery, some may find it boring. (See my son's take below.) This will actually be a plus or minus depending on your student and how motivated they are to learn and how tolerant they are of repetition. 

Some of the questions seem like high school level and are fairly easy to answer. However, because they are based on what's going to actually be on the test, they must be sufficient, especially since SpeedyPrep offers a money-back guarantee. (Keep in mind, we only used the English composition part of the program. Something like psychology would probably have more difficult material.)

I feel like the program could be a little more user-friendly. We were confused a bit how it worked. Still, it's much more simple than some programs that are totally overwhelming. (I'll explain a little more below.)

The Crazy Mom take:
As I stated above, I had my 17-year-old son, Dode, test this product. He is a total math and science nerd, but his grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension are lacking. I thought he could use a good review of the English composition basics, especially since he is taking the ACT soon. (He won't actually being taking any CLEP exams because the schools he's interested in don't accept them.)

There were three things he didn't like about the course. First, it seemed like he wasn't making progress because often he'd come back to work on a session and there was no record of the last session he worked on. For example, if he worked on 15 questions and then came back to it later, it would sometimes start back at question 16, but other times it would come back to question 1. I'm sure we were just doing something wrong, but it probably could have been set up in a way that prevented that from happening. 

Another thing is that because it's based on mastery, and the questions are repeated, he would get annoyed that he would get the same question again when he'd already gotten it right. That isn't really a problem with the program, but if your kid is like mine they might get a little frustrated by it.

The third thing that bothered him is that they ask several questions from the same material. For example, everything he did seemed to be based on excerpts from "Common Sense," by Thomas Paine. There were three or four passages that they would use over and over. I don't think it would bother me, but it did bother him. 

Several of the times I actually sat down with Dode and went through the questions with him. The only thing that really seemed bothersome to me was the fact that very often only one of the answers seemed like it could be right. In other words, if you just used, no pun intended, common sense you would get the answer right even if you really didn't know or understand it. When my son got these kinds of questions, he didn't feel compelled to read the reasoning behind the answer. Many teens would just figure they got it right and move on and miss actually learning "why" they got it right. (Rereading through this, this section might more accurately reflect my son's personality than the program. LOL) 

So, wow, all that being said, I still thought we gained something from using this product. Even though I consider myself a writer, there were terms that came up that I had totally forgotten. I don't think the fact that he lost progress (or at least thought he lost progress) or had to repeat questions hurt him at all. He probably needed the repetition. I do think he gained from it. I only mentioned his concerns because after using the program several times, he totally lost interest. If your student is like mine, he or she may not love the program either. In all fairness, though, he was just testing the product and not actually using it to study for a CLEP. If your son or daughter is actually going to take a CLEP, he or she just better suck it up and do the work! LOL 

What's the bottom line? 
$19.95 a month

I am going to give SpeedyPrep 4 out of 5 smileys!!!* :) :) :) :)

Check it out!
Twitter:   @speedyprep

See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @

College Level Examination Program Preparation {SpeedyPrep Reviews}

*The Smiley System:

:) I can't really recommend this product.

:)  :) I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.

:)  :)  :) This is a good product, but it isn't right for everyone.

:)  :)  :)  :) Most homeschool moms will find this useful.

:)  :)  :)  :)  :) This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Check out "Say" from Alive City!

Just thought I'd share with you something cool to brighten your day. The song is "Say," the band is Alive City, coming out of Metro City church in the Detroit area. The lead singer in this particular video is homeschool grad Zachary Schossau. I just thought it would awesome to share with you something cool a former homeschooler is up to. Sorry, I don't really know anything much about any of the other band members, but the song is getting some play on local Christian radio stations. Why not call and request it? 

Want to know more? Check out the links below:

Buy it on iTunes:

Listen on Spotify:

Check out their Instagram page:

Check out their Facebook page:

Check out their Twitter account:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Review! CompuScholar!

Well, hello there!!! I'm so glad you stopped by! :) I bet you'd like to get my posts delivered right to your inbox, now wouldn't you? So why not sign up for Feedburner? Check it out, it's right there in my sidebar! Thanks!!  :)

Review Crew

CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design

About the product/service: As part of the Homeschool Review Crew I received free access to the Web Design course from CompuScholar, Inc. (You may have heard of this company by its former name, Homeschool Programming.) The course teaches students how to create web pages using HTML and CSS. This is a full one year course.

Here is an idea of what the course teaches:

  • Basic website layout
  • HTML5 symbols and elements
  • Text styles
  • Hyperlinks and navigation bars
  • CSS effects, spacing and positioning
  • Graphics and image editing
  • Tables
  • Page design principles
  • Dynamic menus
  • Embedded audio and video
  • JavaScript and jQuery
Check out the complete syllabus here

Also, you might want to check out their other courses such as Digital Savvy and Java Programming

What are the pros of this product? 
The biggest pro I would have to say is the fact that even a kid who has absolutely no web design experience can easily begin this course. As long as your child (or even you!) knows the basics of using a computer, he or she should easily be able to do this course. My son picked it up easily.

Also, it's set up so that you can either learn by reading or by watching a video. Since my son is dyslexic and sometimes struggles with reading comprehension, especially when reading unfamiliar material, the ability to watch a video was perfect for him. I tend to learn by reading, so I appreciate the fact that there is flexibility. I also appreciate that you can learn the material on your own or use the teacher-led version. I really appreciate companies that understand that we all don't have just one way of learning. 

What's not to like? 
I didn't see any real negatives with this program. It can be a bit costly, but if your child ends up liking web design, you can recoup the cost easily just by designing one website! :)

The Crazy Mom take:
I had my son, Baber, 13, do this program. He is one of those kids who would spend the entire day in front of the computer if we let him. I get frustrated with him because he really doesn't have any hobbies other than playing computer games unless it's summer and he can play outside. That being said, I decided that this program would be a good fit for him because he can actually learn a skill while sitting at the computer instead of just wasting time. 

Well, praise the Lord, he actually likes it! LOL I love when I don't have to bribe him to do his school. I have it set up where this is his last subject, and then he can play his games. It has been great not to have to hear him complain. He is actually enjoying learning web design. His older brother, Ren, was also a computer nerd, and he is now a successful programmer, so maybe he'll even make a career out of it. Thank you CompuScholar! He is also getting good grades which makes me happy. Win, win, all around. :)

What's the bottom line? Self-study monthly $15/Annually $120 or Teacher-led monthly $35/Annually $300

I am going to give CompuScholar 5 out of 5 smileys! :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

Check it out!

See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Social Media Links:

Homeschool Programming

Twitter –   @hsprogramming

CompuScholar, Inc

*The Smiley System:

:) I can't really recommend this product.

:)  :) I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.

:)  :)  :) This is a good product, but it isn't right for everyone.

:)  :)  :)  :) Most homeschool moms will find this useful.

:)  :)  :)  :)  :) This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 7, 2017


I said I would write up some cleaning goals, one small task per room on the main floor. That's the kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, and bedroom. Here's what I've come up with.

Kitchen: Organize the boxed goods cupboard.
Dining Room: Clean off top shelf of bookshelf
Living Room: Clean off top shelf of bookshelf
Bathroom: Clean out top drawer of cabinet
Bedroom: Clean out bottom, right dresser drawer

Also, I didn't look at my last post, but I might've said something about needing to clean out my purse. I did start to do that the other day and then my husband interrupted me somehow. So, I suppose I should also do that. I have recently cleaned under both my kitchen and bathroom sink. I bought some wire shelves to put under them and that has made all the difference. With no closets on the entire floor, I have to get very creative. I'm not naturally organized, but I think this house would drive Martha Stewart crazy!

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review: Shepherd, Potter, Spy and the Star Namer

Well, hello there!!! I'm so glad you stopped by! :) I bet you'd like to get my posts delivered right to your inbox, now wouldn't you? So why not sign up for Feedburner? Check it out, it's right there in my sidebar! Thanks!!  :)

Review Crew

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I received a free copy of the book Shepherd, Potter, Spy and the Star Namer by Peggy Miracle Consolver. This book is the story of a 13-year-old shepherd boy, Kershub who among other things, fights off animals, hides the son of a wicked king, and spied on the Hebrews who had just taken down Jericho.  

I had my 15-year-old daughter, Bear, read the book. She really enjoyed it. It was so timely for us as we have been studying Exodus in our home Bible study, and she has also been going to a weekly study on Exodus at church. I love when things flow together like that! 

Here is her take on the book:

It was a good book, very interesting and action-packed, the kind of book you just want to keep reading. I feel like I learned a lot about living in those times. It was well written, and it made me feel as though I was actually living in their world. I liked that I was able to see the events from both the Canaanite and Hebrew perspective. I would recommend it for both boys and girls, ages middle school and up. I feel like adults would also enjoy it. It could also be used as a read-aloud, but not if the children are too small because of the detail given. Over all, I would highly recommend it!

Peggy Consolver
Peggy Miracle Consolver

The great thing about this book is that the author took great care in making sure it is historically and geographically accurate. (It could have something to do with the fact that she actual went on an archaeological dig in the area!) As I've said before, this is the kind of book I love. History is so much more interesting when you can imagine yourself living in it as the reader can imagine him/herself as Keshub. To add to this, there is also an additional study guide, Digging Deeper into HIStory: A Study Guide for Shepherd, Potter, Spy and the Star Namer. This is a 13 unit guide and digs deeply into Joshua 9-10 and the events of the Israelites as they wandered around their last year in the desert.

While we didn't get a chance to actually go through the guide, it looks like it would make a great addition to the book. There is a lot there to help you really dig in to the story. If you are the unit study type, you could really use this book as a springboard to a great study of the Israelites. 

If you love the Bible and history, this book just might be for you!

The bottom line: List price: $15.99 paperback/ $2.99 Kindle (Actual prices vary on Amazon.) Digging Deeper into HIStory study guide List price: $12.99 paperback/$2.99 Kindle

Book facts:
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing (September 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1942587090
ISBN-13: 978-1942587095
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces

Check out the Facebook page here!

Click below to see what my fellow reviewers have to say: 

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 27, 2017

Update on My Hoarder Challenge

At the risk of boring you to tears, here's my latest update:

So, I've been sick and my knee has been giving out a lot. I also have other excuse if you need them, but that should suffice. LOL  Anyway, I have not been doing a whole ton of organizing. I did, however, buy a couple of wire shelves to put under my kitchen sink. That has made all the difference in the world! It is now all clean and tidy under there. I am so happy. (The joys of adulthood.)

So, what I'm thinking is that I need to write out some very specific goals and work to attain them. Maybe I should just pick out one area in each room and rotate through the rooms. If there's one thing I've learned about myself, it's that I do much better when I break down things into small tasks. I actually like organizing things like drawers, but if I say I'm going to tackle a room I get overwhelmed and don't know where to start. What about you? What's your cleaning style?

I think today's goal is just going to be creating a short list of five tasks. That's one task for each of the rooms on the main floor: kitchen, dining room, bedroom, bathroom, living room. I should also clean out my purse.

Happy Cleaning, ya'll!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review! Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey

Well, hello there!!! I'm so glad you stopped by! :) I bet you'd like to get my posts delivered right to your inbox, now wouldn't you? So why not sign up for Feedburner? Check it out, it's right there in my sidebar! Thanks!!  :)

Review Crew

Strong Learning, Inc.

Bessie's Pillow

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I received a free copy of the book Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey by Linda B. Silbert from Strong Learning, Inc. This is the story of a young girl named Bessie who travels to America from Lithuania during a time when being a Jew was very dangerous. It is biographical and follows her through her entire life. This book is a real, hold-in-you-hand paperback book, though it can also be purchased as a Kindle e-book. It is available in both English and Spanish. 

I gave this book to my daughter, Bear, who is 15 (almost 16!) and who is currently my most avid reader. She loved it. As a matter of fact, she read the whole book in just one day! She even posted about it on her Instagram account. 

First, I love these kinds of books. I love history, but not just facts and dates; I love the people. That's why I have used a lot of biographies and historical fiction in my homeschool. This book was fantastic. Immigration is a huge topic right now, and it's great to be able to let my daughter delve into the topic in a way that was so interesting. She loved following the life story of Bessie, a young Jewish woman from Lithuania who came over to America in 1906, on her own, when she was just 18 years old. 

Here's a quick plug from Bear:

"I loved the book, and couldn't put it down. It was so interesting to me to learn about the struggles the Jews went through, not just in Lituania, but here in the United States. Although I didn't feel anything in it was inappropriate for younger children, I would say it's most appropriate for kids in junior high and high school and adults. I would highly recommend it!"

Another really cool thing is that even though the book easily stands alone, there is a ton of really cool information on the Strong Learning website that really brings the book to life. There are photos of Bessie's family and other related photos, there is information on topics such as health concerns of the time, what music and movies were popular, the common foods eaten, and so much more. I could easily see someone using this book as a foundation for a unit study. It has been very thoroughly researched and documented. I really am impressed. Check it out at Bessie's America. 

Price: $15.00 paperback (Discounts available for bulk purchases.)/ $3.99 Kindle

Twitter:  @BessiesPillow

Click below to see what my fellow reviewers had to say:

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Review! Creating a Masterpiece

Well, hello there!!! I'm so glad you stopped by! :) I bet you'd like to get my posts delivered right to your inbox, now wouldn't you? So why not sign up for Feedburner? Check it out, it's right there in my sidebar! Thanks!!  :)

Review Crew

 photo CAM-Logo-Final horizontal_zpsevw9craw.jpg

Creating a Masterpiece

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew I received a free monthly subscription to Creating a Masterpiece. Creating a masterpiece is a really cool online art curriculum that has something for every age and skill level. 

What are the pros of this product? 
There is literally something for everyone. There are projects for all levels and even the beginner projects look fantastic when they are completed. There are also many types of projects, so there is something for every taste. There are projects using colored pencils, watercolors, oils and more. There are even things like sculpture, copper tooling, and mosaics. Truly an amazing course! 

The teacher, Sharon Hofer, is very easy to follow and is also very pleasant. She has that "grandmotherly" type of personality that makes you like her right away. Her philosophy is thathe teaching must be simple enough for a child to follow. She has definitely succeeded in making art simple, even for the beginner.

What's not to like? 
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Thoroughly. I have zero complaints. The only thing I didn't enjoy was not having all the supplies when I was anxious to get started! :) It's also a tad out of my price range as I know I don't have the time to put towards it that I would like to. If I had the time, I would love to use this every day!

The Crazy Mom take:
I really enjoyed this subscription. I love art and so does my daughter, but I admit it gets put on the back burner because we are always stressing about getting the math, science, English, etc. done. I loved doing this review because I was forced to make time for these projects. It was not only fun to do, but it was great bonding time for us.

The first project we did was the sailboat in the storm using charcoal. It wasn't very difficult at all, yet the results were rather good. I would say it only took us maybe an hour. Another project was the clown fish which also took just about an hour. This was a project using colored pencils. What I liked about it was the fact that even though we were just following along, we learned some technique as far as shading and using colored pencils in a such a way that we were actually layering the color to produce a professional look.

Sharon is great about telling you to be creative within the structure of what she's doing. This is great for me and my daughter because both of us are the kind of people who have a hard time coming up with ideas on our own, but are good at copying. The fact that she encouraged us to tweak of projects just a bit to make it our own really helped us to feel confident in our abilities to think outside the box. We really enjoyed these projects and our time together. I would highly recommend this site to anyone. Even kids who say they have no talent will be surprised at what they can do with a little guidance. I'm very glad I got this review. I was reluctant due to the time element, but I am glad we made the time, made the memories, and made the art!

What's the bottom line? $39.99 per month/$349 per year Other options are available. Please see the website.

I am going to give Creating a Masterpiece 5 out of 5 smileys!!! :) :) :) :) :)

Check it out!


See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @  

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

*The Smiley System:

:) I can't really recommend this product.

:) :) I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.

:) :) :) This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.

:) :) :) :) :) Most homeschool moms will find this useful.

:) :) :) :) :) :) This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hoarder Challenge Update

Well, I have somewhat successfully organized my art supplies. I have a file box that I put them all in. However, I just got a bunch more, so I need to organize them some more. At least they are all in one place. :) I keep the file box right next to "my spot" on the couch, so it's great to just be able to grab them when I feel inspired.

How about you? Have you done any organizing? I hope so! Let me know about your progress!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Want to Join My Hoarder Challenge?

I'm working on some spring cleaning, otherwise known as a "Hoarder Challenge." Okay, I'm not exactly a hoarder, though my family likes to call me one, but I'm also not exactly a clean freak. I live with eight other people in a very small old house with just about zero built in storage. It's quite a challenge to be sure. Anyway, I am always trying to find a way to motivate myself, and blogging about it has worked in the past. Always love it when others join in, so hoping you'll join me!

I have already decided that my next challenge is to gather and organize my art supplies. I'm working on hand lettering and I really need to find a way to keep my stuff from gravitating all over the house.
Is there anything you need to organize. Tell me about it in the comments! 
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