Follow our family as we journey through life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Product Review: K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online after-school study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5.  The curriculum includes four reading and math programs.

K5 READING helps kids become better readers by offering practice with phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

K5 SPELLING is an advanced vocabulary program which features adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database.

K5 MATH covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis.

K5 MATH FACTS helps kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.

The program begins by an assessment to figure out where your child should start in the program.  Upon completion your children enter an online world that uses games to teach important concepts and skills. Children work independently at their own pace and parents receive progress reports to chart successes and improvements. Unlike a lot of learning programs out there, this is not an "educational" entertainment program. This program stresses the development of math, reading, and spelling skills.

I was excited and (overly) ambitious when we received the program and signed up the three boys. That was my first mistake. Not every online program is good for every child. In my computer and video-game free house, I need to be a bit more careful about who does what.

An example is with the assessment. Or should I state "assessments." There are more than one and they each take about 30 minutes to complete. This was not a problem for James (grade 5), but Henry didn't even make it through one assessment before throwing in the towel. Isaac got bored watching James and wouldn't even give it a go. Taking one for the team was completely lost with my crew on this review.

However, Isaac was completely hooked watching as James cruised the K5 Learning World. James continued to use the program, and Henry also asked to continue it, even though he still hasn't finished the assessment.

An additional bonus of the K5 Learning program is the K5 Learning Blog. This blog is a great tool for parents to become proactive in their child's learning. I am a self-proclaimed "blog addict" and enjoyed checking out the various articles on hot topics such as helping kids develop self-regulation habits, and what computer apps are collecting personal information on children.  

Overall I think this is definitely a program worth considering if you are a family that is open to computer-style learning. My family struggles with making time for computers and it was difficult to fit this into our already full schedule. Unlike some program that only focus on one subject area, there are so many different components to K5 Learning that you really feel like you child is gaining skills and knowledge.

Although we didn't spend a lot of time using the program, I could definitely see the advantage for a family who allows computer time and is trying to teach multiple grade levels at the same time. I would definitely recommend this program to any parent who is searching for that perfect online learning program for their kids!


I liked answering the questions.

I liked watching James do the program. I don't want to do the program because I don't want to answer those questions that Henry answered.

I liked using the program because it had a guy that I could get zapped.

K5 Learning offers a yearly subscription for $199 for the first child, and $129 for each additional child. You can also order a monthly subscription (great for summer learning!!!) for only $25 for the first child, and $15 for each additional child. Be sure to check out their FREE TRIAL OFFER. This allows you access to the assessment and 14 days of lessons with no obligations.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received access to the above named program free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Three Hearts Movie

A passionate team of people work to save the lives of three Mongolian children with life-threatening heart defects. But the task is not easy and is filled with unexpected challenges. Two host families make sacrifices to care for these children and their mothers, while a team of doctors and nurses volunteer their time only to stare directly into the face of life and death. How far would you go to save a life? It’s a fight for survival, a fight of faith, and a fight for a new life for these three hearts.

As a mother of a child with a heart defect, I was very interested in viewing the movie Three Hearts. I was not expecting it to be a documentary-type film, so that was a pleasant surprise. I also didn't know that the surgeries were run by Samaritan's Purse, the organization that we pack the Christmas boxes for each November.

This movie is a beautiful testament to the Christian faith and a powerful portrayal to a mother's love. The three children profiled are all certain to die without heart surgery. Several times I found myself crying as families were separated and mothers kissed their children for the possible last time.

Although I can't imagine watching this film over and over, I believe it would make a wonderful addition to a church library or youth group collection. Another idea is to have a viewing of it at your local moms bible group and pass it around for the families to enjoy. There are moderately graphic surgery scenes, so take care when showing it to younger family members.

Three Hearts is available here for $19.99. I am pleased to be able to offer one copy as a giveaway, Follow the directions below and I will choose a winner on February 29. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Five on the (Twenty) Fifth

Friday, February 24, 2012

Product Review: All About Learning

The creators of All About Spelling have done it again! For those of you that don't know, All About Spelling is possibly the best spelling program you can purchase. This multisensory award winning curriculum teaches one concept at a time and stresses continual review.

All About Learning Press has taken the concepts that made All About Spelling so great and created a phonics and reading program. All About Reading 1 is a complete multi-sensory program. Your child will be actively participating in the learning process through sight, sound, and touch. The program is taught with no gaps using the five key components of reading: phonological awareness, phonics and decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension.You child will gain the skills and confidence necessary to become a successful reader.

Although Henry was already reading when we started this program, I felt that the reinforcement he received from completing the lessons advanced his reading skills tremendously. The hands-on method of teaching allowed him mastery by experience. I was completely amazed by how fast he gained knowledge and expanded his reading confidence. It was no longer enough that he knew that the "oa" in boat said "oh," he now understood why it said "oh."

In addition to the magnetic letter board, there are lots of great extras that go along with the program, like the flip book Henry is using above. These add depth to the lessons and offer additional practice with the skills.


Oh! I really like that school work because of all the magnets. Also, you don't have to write a whole bunch of letters like the other one. Why don't we do that program more? Can we do it now?

All About Reading 1 can be purchased on the All About Learning Press Website for $99.95. This complete set purchase prices allows you to receive the Teacher's Manual, Student Packet with Activity book, and three Leveled Readers. Items can also be purchased separately.

I was so impressed with the All About Reading Level 1 program that I went ahead and purchased the All About Reading Pre-Reading Program for Margaret. This program is specifically designed for preschool and pre-k aged children. It follows the same format as Level 1. Lessons are engaging and manageable for both the teacher and the student to accomplish. Margaret adores the program and asks for it often. I like the fact that it stresses mastery, but in a very relaxed way. Margaret learns without the stress normally associated with a phonics and alphabet program.

Thinking of ordering? Please consider ordering through the links above and below. I am an All About Learning Press Affiliate, and this means that purchases made through the above and below links will earn me a commission. I have the account tied directly to our adoption fund. So all purchases will go directly to support our adoption efforts! Please consider supporting us!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received All About Reading Level 1 free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

7 Quick Takes


I totally forgot to pick a winner for my Cooper and Me and the Military Giveaway. Sometimes real life gets in the way. The winner is Cristi! pretty easy to choose the winner this time since she was the only one to enter!


Am I the only mother to pick her kid's noses? I just can't stand seeing their noses full of gunk. We always blow first, but sometimes you have to be more proactive.


We leave for Georgia on Wednesday. Ahhh. Georgia.


I love this child and her ability to sleep anywhere. Anywhere except in her own bed after 2:00am.


New Haircuts.


Baby in overalls.


Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat. But seriously, life around here is rarely calm enough to get this written Friday morning!

Product Review: Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is an online program that makes reading fun and engaging for children with great games, songs, and activities. Learning to read is an important skill for all children. In the online world of Reading Eggs, parents can rest assured that they are exposing their children to high quality, research-based curriculum.

The phonics and sight-word based program offers over one hundred lessons for children ages three seven. Every completed lesson "rewards" the student with expanded privileges in the online world. The individual one-on-one lessons allow children to progress at their own rate, ensuring success and motivation to continue the program.  Each lesson builds on the previous one developing important skills neccessary to become a successful reader: phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

Margaret and Henry really enjoyed exploring the Reading Eggs World. My reservation about the program is that I am not really an advocate of computer time for young kids. It seemed to me that most of the time for Margaret was spent figuring out mouse control rather than phonics instruction. I had Henry sit with her so that he could take control of the computer part and she could tell him what was what. Computer time is not part of our day, and I found it very hard to fit it into our schedule. I did not want to interrupt a play session for computer time.

However, since we do not allow any computer time for the kids, this was a major treat for them and they were both eager to play when it was offered. It definitely held their attention and Margaret did learn a little letter association. She now refers to the letter "a" as "her letter" and calls it the "apple letter."


I liked the kitchen. I liked how you got to make pizza and ice cream.

I liked how we did the playroom with the books. I liked how I did the books.

Reading Eggs can be purchased at several subscription offers from $9.95 to $75. They also offer a free trial so that you can test out the program and make sure it is a good fit before you buy.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS homeschool Review Group, I received access to the above program for free in exchange for a review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Help Me Decide: To buy or not to buy?

It's that time of year again where we start to make summer plans. When I think of summer trips, I always think of camping.

We didn't go camping as a family last summer because Malcolm was still pretty new and I thought that it wouldn't be much fun to have a little nursing baby in a tent on an air mattress. Good choice on my part.

Michael took the boys camping a few times. It's always hit or miss with us because we don't own a waterproof tent. So camping in the rain quickly turns to sleeping in a lake when our tent is involved.

You may remember my blog posts from Summer of 2010 when we took a cross country trip with the expectation of camping all the way to Oregon and all the way back. Problem with our idea was that it rained. So our stuff got wet. It is so not fun sleeping in a wet sleeping bag next to four children also in wet sleeping bags.

Last Spring we decided to buy a waterproof tent. It doesn't have to be a backpacking tent, just a camping tent will do. But Malcolm's arrival delayed all that and so we never got around to it. Which was fine because he was so not the type of baby to bring camping.

Now it is time to decide again if we want to buy a new tent for camping. Not a tent like the one pictured above that becomes a portable water supply when it rains. Since five children will be my sleeping companions, I want something that will keep my sleeping space dry.

Ahh. Doesn't it look cozy? I love camping and sleeping in tents. Dry tents that is. And it stinks when your camping plans have the possibility of wet miserable nights hanging over them. To buy or not to buy. That is the question. 

Sewing To Summer Challenge #1

The first month of the Sewing to Summer Challenge has ended successfully for me. When I undertook this challenge my goals were: 1) to use up as much fabric as possible each month and 2) to sew something I knew would turn out well using as much fabric as possible.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I sew a lot. Here are some photos of my projects over the last month:

Nine skirts currently on etsy.

All the skirts in the above photo are a simple eight-panel skirts or a flare skirt. All have an elastic waist. Here are some close-ups of a few of my favorites:

In addition to these skirts for etsy, I also sewed three great bags. One was a practice, one was for me, and one I gifted to a friend for her birthday. I only have the photo of the one for myself, but the other two were identical using different fabrics:

I sewed some cute cute cute clothes for Margaret during this month:

And finally I sewed a skirt for myself. Two actually, but I only completely finished one:

This challenge has been a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to join in, even if you've missed the first month. Head over to Milk and Honey Mommy for more sewing success stories!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Conversations in Ancient Greece... who knew?

First Guy: "Im God you are not a God"
Second Guy: "What the"

My thanks to Henry for creating this adorable narration and to our old babysitter who has such an influence on my kids even though they haven't seen him in several years. It's still funny.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Product Review: Apologia "What We Believe" Series

Raising a child with strong Christian ideals is becoming increasingly more difficult in today's world. Movies, TV shows, games, and books all expose young people to different messages; many times these messages conflict with those that are being instilled in the home.

Apologia has long been known for their wonderful science programs. Now they've put themselves back on the map with a new series of Christian character-building curriculum's. The "What We Believe" Series is a wonderful tool for parents and educators that help develop and instill aspects of the Christian faith.

The series is student-directed and Biblical-based. The books that we reviewed, Who am I?, helps students develop a healthy self-image based on Biblical truths. Intended for children ages 6 to 14, this program is easily adaptable for younger children; making it perfect for a large family that wants to teach multiple levels at the same time.

An aspect of the program that appealed to me is the notebooking journal. This full-color, spiral-bound notebooking journal includes lesson plans, artful graphics, imaginative prompts for writing and drawing, puzzles, activities, and mini books. We are very big on narrations in our homeschool curriculum and this notebook offered a wonderful way for my boys to reflect and record thoughts and feelings about the teachings.

Overall I was really impressed with this program. It is intended to be student-directed, but I had a very hard time figuring out how my younger learners, ages six and barely eight, would complete this on their own. It was definitely more successful with my full involvement with the younger boys.

Another mom I know is familiar with this very series and has offered to let me quote her thoughts on my blog review as well. She used the program with her two girls, ages six and eight and writes, "I like how the curriculum uses stories to "sneak in" a conversation about God. I also like how the authors include historical or cultural information about the setting or time periods of the stories. They are learning on lots of levels." She also pointed out to me that she had to direct the lessons for her kids, making me think that this as a self-directed program is much more effective for older learners.

I encourage you to visit the website and check out the Who Am I series. Although it is Volume 2, there are no prerequisites. The books range in cost from $8.00 to $39.00. I would also like to point out that this series is not designed specifically for homeschoolers. In fact, the other mom I quoted does not homeschool her kids. The program is designed for any family that wants to deepen the faith development of their children. I strongly believe that parents are the most important teachers when it comes to teaching about faith. This series will give you the tools to get started.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Group, I received the above mentioned products free of charge in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I received no other compensation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes


Okay, not to be a complete moron with technology that I own, but does the Kindle Fire have a USB port? I only ask because I frequently request books for the Kindle Fire from the library and due to copyright something or other many times they can't transfer wirelessly to my Kindle. It wants me to transfer using a USB stick. My problem? I can't stick the stick in the Kindle.


When did we become one of those families that eat four dozen eggs a week?



I was just talking with a girlfriend how February used to be the month that went really slow and you would beg your friends to take your kids for the day. But now? We don't have a single free day until after we get back from the farm in March. Seriously. I think homeschooling should be redefined as "the situation in which a family never finds themselves at home for a full day ever again."


Byzantine Catholic Lent starts on Sunday night. Last Lent I made a skirt everyday for 40 days. That was a really good idea because not only did I have three kids to homeschool every weekday, but I also had baby number five during Lent. Since this year our schedule is noticeably calmer during Lent, I decided I probably couldn't handle another challenge like that. Not sure what I am doing yet Any suggestions?


And no, I don't give up food items during Lent. I am not really a foodie, and giving up sweets when we rarely have them in the house seemed kind of silly. Sacrifice without challenge seems pointless to me, and giving up food items is not challenging for me.  


I usually try to focus more on the needs of my kids during Lent. I make myself more available to them. Translation: I spend most of my time feeding them. Seriously.

Read more Quick Takes over here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Awesome Gift!

My friend Karen gave Margaret the most amazing birthday gift!

It is a "school" box filled with a bunch of different activities for her to complete while I am schooling the older boys.

She loves it and asks to do it throughout the day.

It has turned out to be a gift for both of us since it allows me to school the older kids without her interuptions. What a wonderful idea!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yoplait Yogurt Winner!

I used to select a winner for the Yoplait Lactose Free Yogurt Gift Pack.

True Random Number

Debbie Said: "I follow you on GFC"

Thanks to all who entered!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Margaret's Snowman Birthday Party

We had a little birthday gathering for Margaret to celebrate her birthday.

And no, I didn't make the cake. Those of you that have seen the cakes I create already know this. This cake was made by my friend Allison.

Friday, February 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes


My page rank is back! Thanks to all who helped me with this.


The science fair is officially behind me! I think (almost) everyone had a good time. There are always people who just can't seem to be happy with the way something is run. I would really like to tell them to start their own science fair. I would totally come. And I wouldn't complain. I would just enjoy. But these people return every year to my fair, so maybe their way of showing me that they enjoy is to complain.

Latrobe-Area Homeschool Science Fair. Coordinated and run by yours truly, but seriously, it's not that big of a deal.


Boy 1 with his project board.

Boy 2 with his project board.

Boy 3 with his board

Something terrifying happened to me during the science fair. I was busy talking to people and coordinating 50 kids into their places. I was kind of aware of where my own children were, but not really. I was relying on friends and Michael to help keep track of them. At one point I thought, "Where is Margaret?" but then so and so came up and this and that and so and so had this problem. You get the picture. Finally it dawned on me that I hadn't seem Margaret in probably AN HOUR! She had been playing with my friend's son, but my friend had left. Had Margaret followed them outside? It was dark and 30 degrees. Where was she?

I was in a daze as I walked toward Michael at the end of the hall. He also hadn't seen her and didn't know where she was. The search was on. It lasted all of two minutes, but those minutes could have been years. Margaret didn't know she had been missing, she had been with a group of kids and followed them into the planetarium show. Everything is fine now, but I still have an adrenaline rush as I write this.


The final take is of my favorite baby pair at the fair:

And of course I have to include a photo of what these two looked like at the same event last year:

Read more Quick Takes over at Betty Beguiles, who is hosting for Conversion Diary this week.