Follow our family as we journey through life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome to the world, Malcolm!

Malcolm Augustine Isidore Krom was born earlier today, March 30, 2011, at 10:28am. Weighing in at a modest 7lbs, 4oz, and measuring 19 1/2", he is a fine specimen indeed! Both mama and little Malcolm are doing well, and are eager for their triumphant return home tomorrow. More to come....

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 22 March 31

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 21

Product Review: Classical Academic Press: Latin for Children

Classical Academic Press produces superlative educational materials to advance the revival of classical education. The company specializes in subjects such as Latin and logic, presented clearly and creatively, to equip and engage both students and teachers. These programs are the continuing, collaborative effort of distinguished scholars, teachers, and designers.

I was lucky enough to receive Latin for Children Primer A Mastery Bundle (for students from 3rd-6th grade). Latin for Children is an engaging, incremental, & creative curriculum, designed to introduce students as young as third grade to Latin. The Primer A text, and supplemental materials, make up the first year of a three year series. It trains students in grammar, vocabulary and English derivatives in a lively, interactive way that is perfectly suited to students in the grammar stage. Even better, Latin for Children is taught directly to the child, and is a perfect choice for teachers and parent who will be learning along with their students.

This was such an amazing fit for our family. We already follow a classical approach in our homeschool, and the program was set up so that I could teach Latin to the boys. In the past Michael has taken over the Latin instruction because I have no previous experience with the language.

The materials in the Primer A Bundle were amazing! I received the Primer A Worktext which is integrated with Shurley Grammar. Shurley Grammar happens to be the English and Grammar program that we use from second grade on. I also received the Answer Key, History Reader, Activity Book, and DVD set.

The program is one of the highest quality language programs available. It does not rely on games, cartoons, or gimmicks to keep your child motivated enough to learn. It is solid instruction done in a manner that has been proven to be effective for generations. Although James has had several years of Latin instruction, the program moves so quickly and effectively that he was still able to learn new material within the review period.

In addition to Latin language programs, the company offers language programs in Greek, Spanish, and a reader in French. Logic, Bible, and Poetry are non-language subjects that the company offers materials in as well.

I am going to be very honest with you and say that I was really fortunate to receive these Latin materials because they are not cheap. If you wanted to buy the materials that I received you could purchase the Master Bundle A for $99.95. They offer a Basic Bundle A which includes just the textbook, answer key, and DVD's for $76.95. Materials can be purchased separately, but the savings are really in purchasing the bundles.

The materials may not be cheap, but the ones that I reviewed are definitely worth it. We are going to continue James' original Latin program for the remainder of this year (since we have a matter of weeks left), but are strongly considering starting this one with him again in the Fall. Even with his previous Latin exposure, this program is so thorough and the approach is so similar to our already existing homeschooling curriculum this is really a no-brainer for us. Add the fact that I can also teach James the lessons (something that I can't do with our existing curriculum) and I believe that seals the deal!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Curriculum Review Group, I received these materials free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Our little reader of big stories!

For Mema!

After several years of hanging out in the closet, these wonderful playsets from Mema have found a renewed interest with the kids.

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 19

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 17

Playing the Waiting Game

We are all going from one foot to the other around here waiting on a baby. I tend to deliver earlier than my due date, except for that one time that I was nine days late. Due to this we don't know what to expect and it is all very... humbling.

Every night I crawl into bed thinking about the possibility of having a baby by morning. Every morning I get up thinking about spending that night in a hospital room. My labors tend to be fast and I know that in the course of the day we could go from a family of six to a family of seven.

Then there is all the anxiety involved with this kind of thing. Will I be able to handle this pain once again? I never would have believed that someone could survive pain so intense. Will we make it to the hospital since once we didn't? Will the baby be healthy at birth since more than once they weren't? Will the children be okay without me here to help guide their day? Thankfully they have always been okay under this circumstance.

After all the anxiety-provoking unknowns there are the fun questions. Boy or girl? How big? Dark like the boys, or light like Margie? And what name will we choose?

My friend exclaimed yesterday that soon I will be holding a baby. Pretty much constantly. And as my heart and arms ached for this little person that we have not yet met, and that will change our lives in ways that we can not begin to imagine, I realized how truly blessed I am as a woman and a mother. I have what some women kill for. Not only once, but five times over. All of my prayers and dreams have come true without me even fully realizing that these little people in my life are what I have been wishing for all along.

Product Review: BigIQ Kids presents a unique learning method designed to help each child develop the skills needed to perform to his/her full potential. The award winning programs are designed for students in grades K-8 and promote spelling efficiency, vocabulary building, math fact mastery and US geography knowledge via multimedia reinforcement and independent learning. The program is goal oriented and believes every child has what it takes to be in the 100% club.

Using online technology, the activities are constantly evolving and changing to ensure that your student stays motivated and challenged. As the parent you are able to choose free programs for your children, or premium programs. Click these links to learn the difference between free versus premium in the areas of spelling, vocabulary, mathematics, and U.S. States.

Since all the programs are available to some extent free of charge, the commitment is very minimal. Consider adding some new programs to your homeschooling day by signing up for a BigIQKids account today!

Things that we liked about the program:

*Frequent email updates about the progress of the student.

*The boys really liked designing their own Big IQ Buddy.

*I liked how the boys had to 'buy' their game time using coins that they earned from completed lessons. There is even a control option that lets me turn the games to "Weekend Only."

*The boys could easily use the program without any help from me. Independent work time is always a bonus for me!

Things that didn't work for us:

*The web pages are too busy. In addition to the activity the student is completing, there are advertisements, your IQ Buddy, a computer head who directs you, sometimes a writing pad for practice, additional buttons with options... you get the point.

*As a parent, I found the website extremely difficult to work through. I had to log-on through each of my users and modify each section of the program individually. In my opinion, it would have been much easier to have a 'parent log-in' that allowed me to access all my users and have lists of the programs that I could easily and quickly click on to change the options.

*The preset levels were great for James, but not for Isaac. For example, James was timed and had to complete 50 math problems in that time to earn a game coin. Isaac was required to do the same things (at a first grade level, of course). Even though the problems were much easier, Isaac's computer skills and response time is much slower. Plus, 50 math questions in a row is a lot for a first grader. As a result, Isaac would complete the section but not gain a coin. I could modify the lesson plans, but as I stated above, workign my way through the website was difficult, confusing, and daunting.

*The kids didn't really like the "computer-head helper." They found this aspect creepy ("I hate how that head keeps staring at me!) and the montone voice disturbing.

*Overall I was glad we got to try out the program, but I found it too difficult to navigate to become a permanent part of our homeschooling curriculum.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review group, I received a free premium membership to BigIQKids in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


We had a storm yesterday with golf-ball size hail.
What does hail this size do to your window screens ?

It shreds them.

We were very lucky. A few townships over six houses were completely destroyed in this storm. Roofs were also ripped off and cars were crushed by falling trees.

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 16

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 15

Product Review: ARTistic Pursuits

I was so excited to be chosen to review a product from ARTistic Pursuits curriculum. Written for homeschool or independent study, these books are so student friendly that anyone, experienced or novice, will feel comfortable producing original and expressive works of art.

We have tried many art programs in the five years we have been homeschooling. The trouble we always run into is finding a program that we can continue throughout the year without it becoming a burden and an added stress to our already full homeschooling day. Since I have no formal art training myself, it is also important that the books are simple enough for even the artistically challenged to follow.

The books cover preschool to 12th grade and gradually increase in difficulty allowing plenty of practice for your student to master and understand concepts. I received the book:
ARTistic Pursuits, Grades K-3 Book Two, Stories of Artists and Their Art. It focuses on the lives of artists who left the world with a vision that has awed and inspired others for generations.

Using colorful illustrations and works by the artists, this book tells the stories of artists from the 13th century late Gothic period to the academy artists of the 18th century. Children explore painting in watercolor, tempera, oil pastels, printmaking, sculpture with paper mache, and mixed media. It retails on the website for $42.95

Masterpieces created by my artists after Lesson 1.

In addition to the wide array of books, the company also offers art supply packs. These packs contain all the art supplies you will need to complete the program with one student. K to 2 pack that would be necessary for the book I received cost $92 plus shipping.
Click here to view all the art packs for sale.

Lesson 2 masterpieces

What worked well for us:

**Lessons were clearly outlined and structured making it easy to know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

**The book that we received was written to the student, meaning that little to no preparation from me was necessary.

*The lessons were fun and engaging for the students to complete. The stories inspired their imaginations, making them excited to create their own masterpiece!

Lesson 3 masterpieces

What was difficult:

*The supply list was pretty specific and some of the items were kind of pricey, especially considering I had three artists to buy for. For the purpose of this review, I used products that we already had, which are not artist quality. If I decide to add this curriculum to our schedule, I would need to buy the higher quality materials to ensure that my young artists are receiving the full benefit from the program.

*Although the program is non-consumable, it is a pretty pricey investment for an art program. It is cheaper than art lessons, so that is a bonus.

My students complete the fourth lesson.

With cost being my only real (minor) complaint, I would definitely say that this is a program that we are considering adding as a permanent part of our homeschooling schedule. The ease of use, rich content, and the artistic process far outweigh the added expense of the books and quality materials.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS homeschool review group, I received Book 2 from ARTistic Pursuits free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 14

Tiered skirts are so easy it almost feels like cheating when you make them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 13

Product Review: BrillKids Aesop's Fables

Rediscover Aesop's Fables with these specially designed story books from BrillKids.

These books have been created in a way intended to help your child learn the basics of reading. When words and pictures compete for a child's attention on the same page, the pictures invariably win out. Due to this, the folks over at BrillKids have separated the text and illustrations onto separate pages. The spaces have been widened between text to allow more focus on individual words. An additional feature is that there is a blank flap extension on the cover so that the illustration can be completely covered for reading instruction.

So what did my beginner reader think of the books?

Henry gave these books TWO enthusiastic thumbs up! He enjoyed the simplicity of the text and the colorful illustrations. He liked keeping the picture covered and revealing it after reading the sentence. Truthfully, Henry enjoyed discussing the colorful glossy pictures more than actually reading the text.

Henry has only been reading a short time, and struggled with some of the longer words such as: around, decides, probably, and changes. Some of the vocabulary was out of his level. Words such as "cunning" and "vain" had to be discussed in order for full comprehension to occur.

These books are not intended to be used as a stand-alone reading program, and are intended to be used with the BrillKids Little Reader program that I reviewed several months ago. Although glossy, colorful, and well-designed, I feel these books are a bit overpriced. For $37.50 you get the five storybooks pictured above, which include the titles of: "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," "The Lion and the Mouse," "The Turtle and the Rabbit," and "The Fox and the Crow." Each book is around 10 pages long and is intended for ages 3 months and older. Click here for ordering information.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group I received Aesop's Fables vol.1 from BrillKids for free in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First day of Spring...

Should start with a silly picture!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 12

This skirt turned out so cute that I had to post two photos of it.
Not sure if I'll keep it for Margaret or sell it on etsy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 11

Love on Assignment by Cara Lynn James

Love on Assignment by Cara Lynn Jones is a story of a woman who goes undercover as a nanny in an attempt to discover negative attributes of a rival of her boss. Her dream is to become a reporter, pretty lofty for the year 1900. She struggles with the moral aspects of her deception and soon she finds herself falling for the man she is supposed to dishonor.

This is totally one of those guilty-pleasure books. Completely predictable from start to finish, but for some reason you just keep reading and reading and reading. Or maybe because I received the book for free for review purposes I felt I had to keep reading it. I am not a historian, but even I could notice the problems between the time period the book was set in, and the situations being discussed. And don't get me started on the use of adjectives. Or should I say over use of adjectives. It's one thing to want to paint a picture for your reader. It's another thing to paint the picture and then run it over with a large truck. Several times.

If you desire a book to read beside the pool or at the beach this summer, this might be the right match for you. It is easy to put down and pick up again after you tend to a crowd of screaming kids.

Disclaimer: As a member of Booksneeze I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Featured Interview

I was featured in an interview that went live yesterday. Here is the link: Modest Mama Creations. It won't be on there for long, but the gal that posted it is really nice and I think she did a good job. Check it out if you have time.

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 10

I am one-fourth of the way through my Lenten Challenge!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who likes nail polish?

Margaret does!
And no, this wasn't done at home. Thankfully the damage to other items besides clothing and faces was very minimal and easily taken care of with nail polish remover. I would hate to be trying to figure out how to pay for new carpet at someone else's house right now!

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 9

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 8

This skirt is actually for Margaret and not for etsy. It has 20 panels and uses six fabrics. It is a little big, so I am thinking like a year until she actually wears it. It was super easy and I love all the fun fabrics!

Monday, March 14, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 7

Day seven of my personal Lenten challenge and I have created a skirt using fabric found in my scrap bin. I am so excited to use this up as I have had this particular fabric for a while. You can also view this skirt on etsy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Summer College Immersion Program

Michael has organized a summer college immersion program for youth ages 15 and up. It'll take place this summer on the Saint Vincent College Campus. Here is some information and the link:

This summer I will be directing a program for high school students and young adults that seeks to introduce them to Catholic liberal arts education in the context of monastic prayer. This is a unique college immersion experience that I think motivated youth would value. I would appreciate any help in advertising or promoting the program, and would be happy to talk to you about any details. Here is a link for the program:

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 6

Another skirt made from a discarded sheet found at a thrift store. You can also view it on etsy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 5

This women's skirt is created using an discarded sheet from the thrift store! You can also view it on etsy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Boy: "What if the baby is twins?"

Me: "I don't think it is. The midwife would probably know by now if it was."

Boy: "What if it is only half a baby?"

Me: "Oh, that would be awful!"

Boy: "Let's hope it is at least the top half, and not just a bunch of legs."

Me: ???

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 4

This skirt already sold on etsy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our first date spot is now gone...

Michael and I had our first date here. The only thing I really remember is that you sat at communal tables and I managed to dump a full glass of water onto the people at the table with us. I guess that impressed Michael enough because he married me five short years later. PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland's iconic, wedge-shaped pizza joint Rocco's has closed its doors.
The downtown favorite kitty-corner from Powell's Books announced Tuesday that financial challenges and "unforeseeable family" challenges had forced their decision.
"Roccos Pizza would like to thank the public for the generous patronage and support that has afforded the opportunity for Roccos to become not only a graciously respected brand in Portland for many years, but also a landmark," a statement read.
"We again thank the Portland metropolitan community and the City of Portland for allowing us to serve them for such a generous period of time."
The colorful restaurant was a lunchtime and happy hour favorite for many who live, work and visit downtown for the past two decades.

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 3

This skirt already sold on etsy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Attention all Mothers!!!!

Head over to my friend Sarah's blog to read her amazing post on motherhood. It's the perfect read to start the reflective season of Lent.

Adoption Encouragement

What encouraging adoption message did I receive today?Head over to Krom Family Adoption to find out!

40 Days, 40 Skirts: Day 2

Skirt Number 2 for my personal Lenten challenge. Simply A-Line girls skirt made with two cute corduroy fabrics. This skirt was great to make because I used only scrap fabrics leftover from other projects. You can alos view this skirt on etsy!