Friday, March 30, 2012

TOS Review: Amazing Animals By Design


Amazing Animals By Design, written by Debra Haagen, is a new children's book that introduces Intelligent Design to your younger children. The story is about two kids, John and Sarah, who love to visit their local zoo, but are a little confused about a word that keeps being used by the grown ups around them: design. With the help of their parents, they learn wonderful information about the animals that God created - and better yet, about the Creator Himself.



I believe Intelligent Design is an important foundation in the Christian worldview. Introducing our children to great books that support our worldview at an early age is difficult, frankly because there just aren't many out there. Debra's book eases you into these conversations as easy as if you were strolling through the zoo with them yourself.

Debra Haagen is a military wife, a homeschool mom, a blogger and now a children's author. Amazing Animals By Design is Debra's first published book, and I was thrilled to be one of the first to read it in PDF format. The book's official release date is April 3, but you can pre-order the book directly from Tate Publishing. Even though I have it in PDF format on my computer, I WILL be buying it for my bookshelf. For $8.99, it's worth having two copies in our home! I truly hope this is just the first of many books from Debra, because I am already a fan! :)

**Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

***Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Catching Up

Just thought I'd post that I AM alive and kicking....sorry for the massive break in blogging - I've just been so overwhelmed with the schedule, that finding time to write something that wasn't critical (ie:reviews for TOS) has been next to impossible! I've sat down two or three times after midnight this past week to try and write something, and I'd just stare at the screen. Nothing. Blank. Zilch. NO IDEAS WHATSOEVER! How many of you know me? Most, I'm assuming. So you all know how rare it is to find me with ABSOLUTELY nothing to say! I admit, I am still having a hard time believing it myself... ;)

Life is normal around the Quinn home...which is to say, there are not nearly enough days in the week to get all I need to do accomplished! But still, we are loving life and praising the One who makes this journey so worth it. We've had some amazing time with family this last month. My cousin April and her kids came and spent a week with us. We had a great birthday celebration for Caleb's big day (I'm still trying to process that my baby is four!). We took a mini vacation to Kansas City - thanks to Kelly's work! And we have had spring break from co-op this week - woohoo! As much as I love my LCA family, it was so nice to have a day to not be rushing around and getting into my frame of mind that is necessary to wrangle 110 5 to 12-year-olds! :D

Lots coming up, too. My birthday is Wednesday. Band and Orchestra contests are a week from tomorrow...prayers needed there! Easter is just around the corner, and I want so much to focus on my Savior's sacrifice and resurrection with the kids - as well as privately. The kids' musical is May 3 - and they all have big parts this year. :) And we are working on our Colorado vacation plans for mid-May. The list could go on...and on...

This year has already been so packed with blessings, I can hardly believe March is coming to an end. Where does the time go? I hate to sound cliche, or worse, like my mother, but REALLY - it blows me away how quickly the years are flying by! I find myself tired and overloaded, cranky with the kids, and frustrated for not accomplishing what I expected to. But then I realize we have 9 weeks left of the school year, and I can hardly believe it. The cloce just won't slow down, no matter how much I want it to.

So tonight, I just want to take a moment and breathe...breathe in the silence of my home while my babies are sleeping just feet from me...listen to the much needed rain on our porch...focus on this moment...because it, too, will be gone in an instant. I NEED to remember this moment. God has given me so much. I miss a lot of what He's given me because of the hectic schedule I've allowed into our lives. It's my job to set boundaries, to protect our family time, to keep the main thing the main thing. I want to do that better. I will do that better. I'm getting off here. I'm going to go look at my sleeping babies and thank God for those flesh-wrapped miracles He gave me...and ask for the patience and wisdom and all the love He has for me to pour out on them. Because I only have so much time before my job will be done and they won't be here driving me crazy. They won't want to cuddle with me on the couch and read 22 books - or one book 22 times. And regardless of how silly it sounds, I KNOW - without a doubt - that I'll want this moment back. For this moment, time will slow down.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TOS Review: K5 Learning


K5 Learning is an online educational site that offers your children lessons in 4 different areas - math, math drills, reading and spelling. There are lessons provided for kindergarteners to 5th graders. There are learning assessments that your children will take and will automatically place them where they should begin academically.

I have had three children using this site for some time now. Connor (5th grade) has mostly used the spelling program, but also did a few reading lessons. Chloe (3rd grade) has used the math, spelling and reading. Canon has worked in all four areas.

For the most part, all three of the children enjoyed these lessons. Connor thought they were a little young for him, but I thought the content was engaging. He used deductive reasoning and had to use some skills he doesn't always excel in in order to answer the review questions. Chloe did really well with this program, and Canon did, too.

Unfortunately, none of my children liked the spelling program. The format is very simple, and I was surprised how much my kids disliked it. The word is spoken for them and they are given a box to type the word in. Below the box, the definition is listed and it is used in a sentence. They type it in and press enter. If they made any mistakes, they are given a second chance; below the box this time, there is a clue given. For example, if the word is comfortable and the student wrote comftorble, the clue would look like this: comf****ble. That way the student can see what he got correct and what he missed. If they miss it again, the word is flashed in the box, then flashed letter by letter. Then they have to type it again by memory...until they get it right. The shortest list is 15 words, and you have to do the missed words again at the end of the lesson. Connor felt like it would never end! Even Chloe, who is an excellent speller, got very disgusted with this process.

Chloe and Canon did the math lessons for their appropriate grade level. They both really enjoyed it, but I am not sure how much I liked it. The lessons were incredibly short, and I didn't feel like they built upon one another. It was all over the map regarding content, and I couldn't tell how much either one was retaining. One thing they both agreed that they didn't like about it was that you couldn't do anything on the screen until the automated voice was done speaking, even if you read it yourself. Her explanations were very long, and her voice really got on their nerves.

Math Drills
Canon is the only one who did this part, and he didn't care much for it. We have seen many online math drill pages, and I couldn't see anything wrong with this one. However, there was nothing that really made it stand out, either.

K5 Learning has some different pricing options - a monthly rate and a yearly rate. You can pay $25 a month ($15 for each additional child) or $199 a year ($129 for each additional child). They also offer a free trial for new users. Make use of the free trial offer, it may be a great fit for your family.


*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Friday, March 2, 2012

TOS REVIEW: Reading Eggs


My baby turns four tomorrow...and I am not handling it well. So when people ask me when I plan to start formally "schooling" him, I really don't have my happy face on! I can't believe it's already time! I mean, I didn't think he was even ready for that...up to about six weeks ago, when Reading Eggs showed up in my inbox. Boy, was I wrong!

Reading Eggs is an online program that introduces children to the world of reading. It is geared for children aged three to seven, and can place a child on which level he/she should begin his learning journey. Since Caleb has not been formally taught any reading yet, we started at ground level. It is a gradual, fun process, using engaging characters and lots of music to get the child excited about learning. From day 1, Caleb was hooked! By day 2, he knew four letter sounds, and by day 5, he recognized a couple two-letter words. And he doesn't even realize how much he's learning...he just wants to play! This is what learning should feel like all the time for young children.

This is Sam - Caleb loves him!

Here are some things that we love about the program. First, Caleb can see how far he's gone and how far he has to go to his next level. The map is cute and fun, and it tracks your student's progress for you - so neat! Second, for every activity completed, they earn "egg money", which they can spend in the arcade. Caleb got so excited to see all the games he can play - it's just like some of the game sites his big brothers play on, but are too hard for him. These games are just right for his age level! Third, you can go back and do lessons again and again. This provides great review for when you think they "got" it, but actually didn't. We have had to revisit a few lessons when I realized he really didn't understand something. It's so nice to have that option!

Here is a photo of the map. On the sidebar, you can see how many eggs have been earned and how many places have been unlocked. We haven't even begun to learn about all the awesome things this website has in store for Caleb!

Another great thing about this program is the price. I can't believe how affordable it is, what with all the content it provides. I am certain that I will be buying a membership after my trial period. It's the hour of the day that Caleb looks forward to most right now, and that is worth every penny! Payments range from $9.95 a month to a greatly discounted yearly package for $75. There are even more discounts for additional children, as well. Check out the payment options here. There is also a two week free trial offer that you won't want to miss! And I don't want to forget to tell you about the reading books that you can purchase to coincide with the lessons your child is doing online. I can't wait to get my Level 1 pack for Caleb!

It's hard to watch my baby grow up. And I wasn't looking forward to doing this review specifically for that reason. However, this has really been one of my favorite sites all year. How quickly I'd forgotten the joy that springs up in my heart when I see my children learn new things - and be excited about it! I hope you check it out for your younger children. You won't be disappointed!!

*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOS REVIEW: Beeyoutiful!


Do you ever think that if you could just get away to a spa for the weekend, everything else would be less stressful? Do you dream about being pampered and relaxed, but look at your schedule and realize it's just not going to happen? Or if you just had the time to take care of yourself, you would be healthier? Well, I know I have had moments like these...and BeeYouTiful can get you through some of these times!

BeeYouTiful - healthy living for the real world - offers a vast array of beauty and health products that will enhance your daily life. Their goal as a company is to promote individual responsibility for your own health. Here is a quote from their website:

"At, we believe that each individual is responsible for their own health. It is not a doctor's responsibility to keep you in good health. Instead they are a tremendous resource, especially for those times when urgent care is required. But, they are only one of many resources. And the tools they use, while powerful, are not the only tools available. But a tool is worthless unless one knows how to use it... As much as is in our power, we want to aid others in obtaining and maintaining good health."

I was sent the Winter Breeze Vapor Rub ($18)and the B.A.L.M. ($3) to review. Beeyoutiful skin products contain NO Parabens, Formaldehyde, Petroleum derived ingredients or SLS Detergents. They are all manufactured in the USA using pure, all natural ingredients.

The Winter Breeze Vapor Rub is a natural alternative to that blue jar we all grew up with. I was pleased to have this supplement this winter, especially for the little guy. Rubbing this concoction made of body-friendly coconut and olive oils, beeswax, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus, wintergreen, and tea tree oils gave him an easier night's sleep on several occasions. I was also encouraged to try the Vapor Rub as a foot treatment. I have very dry, cracked feet in the winter time, and I was pleased with the outcome. I would apply the salve on my feet generously right before bedtime, pull on my thick socks and let the Vapor Rub do its work. The slight gentle tingling was so nice, and my feet felt great the next morning. (Caution - it may take several weeks to see healing results.) Oh, it felt wonderful!


The other product I got to test was the B.A.L.M. - Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer. This comes in two flavors, orange and peppermint. I tried the peppermint, and really loved the tingling sensation it left for the first little bit after applying. I am not sure if I saw great improvement in my lip state, however. My children and I all get very chapped lips in the winter. But this winter has been incredibly mild, and our lips never got in a terrible state. For daily use, the B.A.L.M. is fine, but not sure if it is strong enough to heal severely chapped lips.


I look forward to perusing this website more. They have so many products that I'm excited to try, and I hope you find something you like as well!

*Don't just take my word for it! Check out some of my fellow TOS Crew Members' reviews HERE.

**Disclaimer: I received this product via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are mine or my children's.