Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Are That Family Contest Entry

"Nine year of nursing, nightmares, good times and bad. Now they want to kick me to the curb..I am heartbroken. Anyone want to help me update my resume?"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School Challenge

Tonight I have a Back to School Challenge for you! Why? Because if the kids get new(ish) things for school, have to be reminded of disciplines and train their bodies to get rest and such..why shouldn't we do some things to retrain ourselves? We have a lot of sleepy heads to get up in the next countless months...let's get ready to rumble..or at least feel prepared for whatever happens next! :)

Okay, so I am currently kid-free....shhhh! I don't want this trend to get popular because I will start getting emails from grandparents asking me to please retract my statements of the luxurious feeling of not tending to one argument, not settling one "discussion of justice" and the dogs didn't even dig holes! My my, so THIS is what the high life is like? I think I will take it!!!

Here we go!
Whoops, my excitement of being kid-free got me side-tracked..okay. Well we unpacked from our trip to see my parents and drop off two of the five boys..the ones I have with me every minute of every day all year long as we homeschool.

I started my morning at 10:20am waking up to find both my lovable pups clinging to both sides of me on my bed. The breeze was blowing through the windows and I was in heaven...talk about a stay-cation!!! Ahhh I was so thankful to be in my home! I spent my day doing the usual laundry, unpacking suitcases and putting them away, farmer's market, various multi-tasking between emails, texts, making lists for errands in geographical order to save gas...you know the usual and then the kitchen clean up and I looked in the fridge and remembered that I have had a routine for years now that just instinctually happens..which I was already starting to do!

Challenge Part One:
Clean out Fridge from top to bottom. I do this every other month or so depending...but I always do it right before school starts to have a fresh start in my kitchen, take inventory of things we need with the back to school sales and start my meal planning routine for the FALL. Sorry I didn't mean to say that word but it is coming and it isn't because I said it either. I promise!

SO that is part one of my Challenge...clean out your fridge, clean out your pantry and start taking inventory of what you need and what you need to quit buying this school year starting now.

Challenge Part Two:
Start sorting through all the kids clothes, regardless, it is okay if they don't like you after having to try on the 10th pair of jeans...if they all don't fit you have a bag full of clothes to donate, give to a friend or sell at a consignment store or craigslist. Make good use of this time. If the kids didn't grow please think about it before you go spend money on new clothes...wait until they grow! Get them a couple of new shirts on sale or clearance but know those kids are just bound to grow by October and it is frustrating to have a whole wardrobe no longer fit!
(Side note: I start shopping for snow boots, snow pants, gloves and jeans on craigslist in June and continue so that hopefully by the fall I have all the family covered for winter wear before the "surprise snow fall" around Thanksgiving that makes Target sell out! ;)

Challenge Part Three:
Look for reusable lunch items, I recently found on sale at our grocery store a line of BPA free plastic containers that screw together and have handy loops for clipping on a bag with a handful of nuts, trail mix, they have them in all sizes. Even though we homeschool we bought these to have for those days we are on the road and need something to eat, I desperately try to get away from plastic bags and paper bags, I love having reusable items like these. Think outside the box too...for instance tonight I had a ton of zucchini from my CSA, I shredded it and made fabulous zucchini brownies and I can make more and freeze them for special treats in their lunch this year.

Challenge Part Four:
What is one thing you will start disciplining yourself to do whether you homeschool or send the kids off on their yellow bus or walk to school this year? What can you do that will be a learning process for you? We need to keep learning things, whether you sign up for a class, try a new DIY project at home, take the dog(s) for a walk every morning before your household is awake, volunteering at your local library or many other zillions of things you can do. What are you going to do for yourself? I think as moms that is one thing that can be hard for us to admit is that we often LIVE for our KIDS. Now we love our kids, we adore our kids, they are too cute to eat! BUT, even scripture says we have them for a season, we are to raise them and show them the narrow path, train them up through everything we do but it never says that we need to be on the road and consumed all day long with their every agenda...that is where I think we have missed it. My kids are excellent helpers, rarely complain and go on numerous errands with me but having a day to myself I realized that I do not plan time away for myself..it is usually connected to the kids in one way or another. (Ex. Homeschool group planning meeting, Scouts meeting, football kick-off event, etc)

I hope you will take this challenge with me and let me know how you are doing! I am anxious to hear about the things you are doing for yourself and hear improvements or even struggles you are faced with.

Happy Back to School Time Everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Be Real

I have had a focus shift on my heart for a few months now but I have been waiting...patiently...simmering on where things need to go. Simply put, Living a Prayerful Driven Life means it is not my agenda.

Here is a portion of what God laid on my heart recently:

My heart's desire is to be 100% Pure, Raw, Organic (yet Refined) as a Parent. Going back to the basics and not copying a model or processed lifestyle shown. Waiting to see what God wants us to teach with his direction...by going to the source...Him.

What I found extremely interesting is that God lined it up and I wrote it down word for word as it came to me and it sounds very similar to the other big passion in my life. Healthy lifestyle...many of the same principles apply.

That is how refreshingly original God is with his timing always! I have yet to have an event in my life that I am unable to pinpoint the orchestra of God's timing at some level.

As I have immersed in the Word of God, pondered this vision, listened and read what is available out in the world for us as parents I have come to one conclusion. My opinion has changed! Now when I meet new parents I no longer have a list of resources for them to study and read...I tell them the best advice I think I can share: Don't listen to anyone else, trust in the Lord to give you rest, wisdom and creativity as you raise your children and he will. Our eyes have gotten too focused on someone's "Ideal" for raising our children, yet I see more and more disrespectful, uninvolved children in the homes. Compassion for elderly, poor, hungry and even for a friend in need seems to take last string over the numerous distractions and avoidance techniques that are so engrained in our adults and youth these days. Now let me say, this is not a new problem! There are many stories of self-involved, cold-hearted and judgmental people from Biblical times to current day.

This is where my favorite quote comes into play: "Be the change you want to see in the world". We often find ourselves wanting to teach others how to be all that we CAN'T be. Is that really how we rank? No, we simply prefer to tell others how it is, how it should be done and sit back on our pedestal and hope they are motivated to change although we will not. I can honestly say I have done that myself in the past, I won't be bold enough to say I am now excluded from this mistake for the rest of my life either...but I will say that perspective has come into my mind and heart more than ever.

My favorite childhood memories involve swinging in my backyard without a care in the world and singing loudly to challenge the birds in the air flying overhead. Playing chinese checkers with my grandmother, going out for an ice cream cone, riding my bike, gardening with my mom, climbing fences and yelling for the neighbor to come out and play. What do these have in common? They are natural, they are free style, unorganized and FUN! They teach a child to use their imagination and not get frustrated by their parents lack of entertainment provided for them. I want to be the one that encourages you to turn off the computer, TV, DVR, Xbox and numerous other devices and look at your kids...what did you love for your parents to do with you when you were growing up? Maybe it was spontaneously taking you out for an ice cream or like one of my friends does with her son once in a while...get him an ice cream for dinner! Or maybe it is deciding to camp out in the backyard on a night during the summer and roast s'mores over the grill. Whatever it is, it is something that puts the living back in your life. The memories back in your heart that regardless of being captured in a photo...will last a lifetime!

It is because of the knowledge I have gained in the past few years that my husband and I started desiring a farm house. We want to raise chickens, have a large garden for our family of seven, have places where our kids can explore God's creation, dig, build, discover without worrying about the suburb lifestyle, mentality and the manicured lawns of life. My desire is to be the change in the lifestyle which I have become accustomed and go back to the basics.

In this new season I will be sharing parenting thoughts--not advice just sharing what I am doing, natural tips and recipes, lifestyle changes and the passion that God has put in me for them all. Are you ready To Be Real with me?

enVision Math

Our last review post this year is for enVision Math for 1st grade. We received a LARGE box shipped to the house containing our enVision workbook. It was a surprise to everyone in my household to see the width of the book. It turns out you pull out pages and fold them in half to have 4 lessons total-front to back in a booklet style. This was a nice change to have more room for my student to write. There was plenty of room to write which is very nice for younger children especially that can be harder for them to write small.

Envision a math program where pictures do the talking. enVisionMATH is the first math program that develops math concepts through interactive and visual learning. I was excited at the prospect of enVision because I am a visual learner. Using daily problem-based interactive math learning followed by visual learning strategies deepens conceptual understanding by making meaningful connections for students. Bottom line, when they see math in its daily usage along with visual aids, pictures and practice they connect the dots of the basic idea to where and how it applies.

There are many nice additions to this math system, they include vocabulary, math games and more practice. At the bottom of the pages there are "home connections" and "home activities" that we used for extra practice and understanding of the lesson.
My son did like doing the math but I will admit that as he is finishing up 1st grade at home, majority of it he already knew. We went closer to the back of the book to see if he was challenged and where we could review. I don't recall us going over much of the measurements beforehand so learning about quarts and cups was definitely a fun new area to explore together.

In my opinion this is a good math curriculum for those that are especially visual as it has plenty to look at on each page. I really like the glossary, I could see laminating it or at least using it in a binder to reflect on the pictures and the words to learn them and confirm in their minds what they mean. The work is not completely independent as my son is a good reader but some of the terms were new to him so I had to read the instructions for each section with him before he started them. At some points he could read it but wanted to make sure he understood what to do before he started.

As I think about the enVision description I was really expecting it to be something totally different from what I have seen before. It was not completely different but it did have some nice features as I already mentioned, the size of the pages and space to write, practice and games (which you usually will not get in a math book) and the glossary.

The enVisionMath 1st grade student edition, with digital access is available for $34.47 from Pearson Education. You can find it here on the Pearson website.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Talking Fingers Word Qwerty

Talking Fingers was established in 1994 with the purpose of developing quality educational materials. Neuropsychologist Dr. Jeannine Herron and her staff has continued to work on new research and development to create programs to help engage children and their left side of the brain where skilled reading and writing are processed. Extensive research has been done using their program Read, Write and Type in California schools and formal research was done in 2006 in Dallas schools for their Word Qwerty program.

Word Qwerty: Foundations of Reading and Writing Fluency is designed to improve phonological and morphological sensitivity. To develop a deeper understanding of how words are constructed in English, create useful activities that provide helpful feedback. Word Qwerty has 20 lessons with 6 activities per lesson that provide the following:

1. Some sounds can be represented in several different ways.
2. Most words follow about 20 easy spelling rules.
3. There are many word families, (words that sound the same, or rhyme). By changing the first letter(s), you can make hundreds of words.
4. Some words are "outlaws". They don't follow the rules. They must be recognized quickly and automatically.
5. Writing to dictation develops vocabulary, comprehension and fluency as well as spelling skills.
6. Reading (and filling in missing words) develops vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills.

Wordy Qwerty is targeted at 7 to 10 year olds who have learned the basics of phonics and word identification and are poised to master more complex reading and writing skills in order to become enthusiastic and capable readers and writers.
The six different lessons each day are as follows:
Step 1: Patterns

Your child generates two lists of words by typing the names of pictures and sorting the words by a given characteristic. They are directed to notice the patterns," or spelling rules, by comparing the two lists. If they can't sound out the words or spell them correctly, the Helping Hands will assist them. Qwerty and Midi talk about the differences between the two lists and derive the 20 spelling rules which then are woven into the lyrics of delightful songs.

Step 2: Karaoke

Rhymes and songs are memorable and fun. There is a catchy song about each of the 20 spelling rules.

Step 3: Recycler

Lots of words that rhyme can be made just by changing the first letter or letters of the word. Some words sound the same, or rhyme, but use a different combination of letters to represent the same sound. In this game, chidren learn different vowel combinations that can make the long vowel sound. They watch the RECYCLER drum whirl as it changes the first letter(s) of two rhyming words. They learn to quickly distinguish real words from non-words. The non-words are vacuumed away.

Step 4: Pop-a-Word

"Outlaw" words are best memorized by learning to recognize them quickly. In this arcade-type game, children find words in a 4 word phrase as each word appears briefly, along with non-target words, in a cluster of colorful balloons. As children click on the correct balloons, they "pop". The faster they recognize the correct words, the more points they make.

Step 5: Write Stories

In these cleverly illustrated 8-line rhymes, children hear and see the first line, and have to type out the second line after it is dictated. They can see and hear the dictated line as often as they need, but get more points if they remember the sentence and try to spell the words correctly. These little stories are full of words that require using the spelling rule just presented.

Step 6: Read Stories

Here are some short, engaging stories that develop comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Every so often, there is a word missing, and children have to choose among three possible words, the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence. These stories also include words that utilize the spelling rule, or the "outlaw" words learned in that lesson.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

I am very impressed with the technique and practice of the Word Qwerty program. The variety of methods adds interest and excitement while strengthening their reading and writing skills. I like that it is using multiple sensory learning. I saw a great improvement with Kaiden's spelling and sounding things out immediately. I am grateful that we were able to review and use this program. You will not regret giving this one your time!

To learn more about Word Qwerty go their website www.talkingfingers.com for a free online lesson.
The Word Qwerty Home Edition is $35 which includes 1 CD-ROM, 1 program guide in a 3-ring binder and 1 JingleSpells audio cd of the 20 songs contained in Word Qwerty.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mad Dog Math

There has to be more than just flash cards right? I have heard many homeschool moms discuss how they like doing them but the kids do not. My youngest son can fall into that category where he would prefer to do anything over flash cards.

Mad Dog Math was created by Julie Kotoff, a veteran educator with 30 years of success in classrooms of both public and private schools. As a 3rd grade teacher she developed and perfected the Mad Dog Math program.

The purpose of Mad Dog Math is to be a fun, exciting, practice and consistency to gain and maintain math skills. We can all agree that learning the multiplication tables is important. The greater ease and less drudgery that they feel towards math helps their skills increase. Mad Dog Math is a pc application that provides an at-home practice experience just like the classroom drills.

The essentials of Mad Dog Math:
*Enables children to master their +, -, x, and ÷ facts in a fun challenging, exciting, and motivating way
*Math supplement for any math curriculum
*For grades K through 5th; remedial middle school and high school
*Standard, daily 10 minute time commitment from start to finish
*Huge body of math facts broken down into bite-sized pieces any child can master

Here is the creator Julie to introduce and share some insight about her program:

The exciting part of Mad Dog Math is that it takes 5-10 minutes daily. This is for the most part an easy timeframe to fit into your homeschool day and get accomplished. The student can do it independently and many find their kids enjoy the timer to race against their best time.

This portion of the website grabbed my attention in a BIG way:
Please don’t assume the teaching of the basic facts is happening in your child’s classroom. America is in an educational crisis. Twenty years ago we were ranked number one in education in the world. Today we are ranked 24th in the world in math. We must take a serious look at WHAT is being taught and HOW math is being taught, especially in our elementary school classrooms! There is no math curriculum to my knowledge with a math facts mastery component to it. For some reason, math facts are not considered important anymore and are almost completely ignored, to our shame and to our detriment.

While I am a homeschooling parent it still applies that I need to take a good look at how serious I am about practicing facts and getting them memorized for ease for my kids once they are grown. I appreciated the reminder! Originally I liked this program and found it useful but now I believe that I will be adding this to our collection as my son who hates flash cards found a love for his timed practice online! I am thrilled to add our family as yet another successful user of this well thought out program.

Mad Dog Math is available for your home with a few options. One year subscription for $19.99, add a year for $10 more, or get a Perpetual License for $39.99. Mastery Binder and CD-ROM options are also available. I enjoyed the ease of downloading the Mad Dog Math program from the internet and being able to use it quickly and easily.
Check out Mad Dog Math on their website for a free trial: www.maddogmath.com

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Institute for Excellence in Writing Review

Whether you are brand new to homeschooling or you have been doing it for years I guarantee you have heard of (IEW) Institute for Excellence in Writing. Before I had even learned about the program I knew the name well. I became excited about seeing if this gem of a curriculum could be the answer to my reluctant writer. You will soon find out the answer.

The Institute for Excellence in Writing is a well laid out, easy preparation writing program. We used Student Writing Intensive Level C (for grade levels 9-12).

This packet contains
• Four DVDs
• A binder with dividers
• A packet with the teacher’s notes, handouts and checklists (about 100 pages in all)
The Student Writing Intensive now comes with lesson plans and reinforcement exercises built right in. Written by Jill Pike, these lesson plans specify what portion of the disc to watch in one session and what to do in between video sessions.

Recorded live, this DVD writing course for students by Andrew Pudewa is comprised of four writing sessions on DVD. Each session presents structural models and stylistic techniques from our TWSS Syllabus. Included with the student handouts are complete teacher notes, source texts, and checklists providing fifteen comprehensive lessons to ensure your student masters each unit before moving on to the next. Since each lesson can take one to two weeks to complete, the entire package can provide 15–30 weeks of writing instruction.

I was delighted at the real approach to writing while watching the DVD with my son. Andrew Pudewa truly seems to understand the mind of a discouraged writer, the frustration in not knowing how to begin and the blank screen that seems to appear when you are told to be creative and "just write". He honestly took me back to those times in my school years when I felt that very same way and helped me relate better to my stumped son. Thankfully, his instruction helped me see how to navigate myself and my children out of that mental block and baby step into the main ideas. This approach was simple, understandable and entertaining! My son actually did 3 lessons one day on the DVD because he was enjoying seeing how well he could put things together with breaking out the main idea out of sentences and his confidence was becoming very visual at this point!

The IEW Student Writing Intensive Level C is available on their website http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/sid-c for $99.

The IEW Portable Walls was included with our review package to use as well. This is a nice addition that costs $7.00 on their website. You can hear Andrew explain how this is helpful with the curriculum by clicking through this LINK. You can find it on their website here.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GoTrybe Review

Have you ever tried to duplicate PE at home with your kids? It can be difficult to play dodgeball if you only have two kids! Creativity is a must but it can be difficult to come up with something that works for various ages, interests and strength level.

Introducing GoTrybe! An innovative website that is reaching out to all school age kids from K - 12th. GoTrybe’s mission is to share fun, exciting workouts and activities, helping kids and parents to learn about healthy living. They are doing it in a great way I must add! It starts with choosing your avatar...every kids favorite part of a new website! Then you can go to a workout for your age group based on your user information. There are daily routines or you can mark your favorites and do them again in the future. The workouts are instructor lead videos with the same age kids in the video doing the workout as well. They include a warm-up, cardio, strength and flexibility. (We were reviewing Trybe180 age group so that is what we had available, this may be different for the younger age groups.)

GoTrybe has programs available for different age groups:

ZooDoos is for the elementary ages, K-5th grade
Trybe180 is for middle school ages, 6th-8th grade
NexTrybe is for high school ages, 9th-12th grade

My son LOVED gotrybe! I definitely plan on signing him for a year membership! He enjoyed getting up each morning and doing his workout first thing. I liked knowing that he was getting exercise every single day regardless of the weather outside or our schedule.

Go to www.gotrybe.com and look for Fit Fozzie to sign up for a 1-day free trial, after that a one-year subscription is $19.95.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kinderbach Review

Welcome to the delightful land of music instruction! We recently logged onto to Kinderbach for a review trial. Kinderbach is an online program that teaches piano and music patterns for ages 3-7. It breaks down the various tasks and techniques of playing the keyboard and separates them into child portions. For example: Before playing a song, rhythm, note identification and note placement are presented as different items through discussion and games. Learning is gradual and child-paced.

As my son went through lesson after lesson I started hearing about everyone's favorite donkey, Dodi, his house, his friend Frisco and more. My youngest excitedly cut up cardboard boxes and glue pieces of the worksheet for that lesson together. Then I found him working on the songs with his cardboard key placements sticking out on top of the keyboard. The fact that Kinderbach utilizes songs, characters, visuals and instruction makes for a great part of time of day. My sons were both engaged in learning together from lesson to lesson. They found pot lids, chop sticks and even drumsticks one day to use for their lesson to tap out to a song. They laughed and completely enjoyed being taught music!

Kinderbach has a fresh, new approach that you simply do not find in many subjects, not to mention teaching piano! There are two options for teaching. One is the DVD for $40.45 plus shipping and handling. The other is online membership. The Year Membership gives access to 6 Levels of entertaining music education for 3 to 7 year old children through about 22 hours of video and interactive coloring pages. The cost of $95.88 for a one year subscription breaks down to be $7.99/mo! The online option is also available monthly for $19.99. Go to the website for a free trial amd more information www.kinderbach.com
In my opinion this is a great way to teach a child piano and get them engaged, excited and inspired to do it daily.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Zeezok Z-Guide Review

Welcome to homeschooling in the digital age! Zeezok Publishing has created an answer to my consistent search through their product called z-guides to the movies. I would often think about how certain movies had an impact on me but how could I use it to teach my children? Z-guides is the fabulous answer to that question!

What are z-guides?
They are a digital e-book that you download the pdf, print and utilize. The guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and ten learning activities for fourth through eighth-grade students.

There are many reasons to enjoy using z-guides for your homeschool addition. First, you get to watch a movie and from the list I have seen these are GREAT, classic movies! Secondly, the kids pay attention more throughout the film because they are answering questions and planning to absorb it for the week of activities. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy watching a movie with your kids and seeing things you may have not noticed before as well. Lastly, all of these movies are easily accessible through the library, netflix or possibly something you already own.

For our review we chose Johnnny Tremain, I was very excited to try out their z-guides and see if this would be the solution to my longterm question on how to use a movie to teach. I requested the movie from the library immediately. Once it was ready to be picked up two days later we watched it that afternoon and my older son sat down with his z-guide sheets. He had almost every question answered that day and enjoyed the movie. I had never seen the movie before and greatly enjoyed it! We watched it again the next day together to clarify some questions from our z-guide, but this isn't usually necessary. We worked on the whole packet for the 5 days that week. My son was able to learn more about the Boston Tea Party and continue to do more thinking and research on his own. I found the z-guide to be thorough, with great questions, engaging and a lot of fun for all of us to use! (Perfect for this time of year where it can be hard to keep hold of the kids as snow is melted and the birds are chirping, the kids don't seem as intent on doing their schoolwork as before...you know what I mean?)

I am so overjoyed to discover this product exists! I am planning to do more of the z-guides in the future with both of my sons. I have been telling many of my homeschooling friends about this resource as many of them utilize netflix for educational purposes and this ties right along with that!

Check out the website at www.zeezok.com you will enjoy the numerous resources they offer and the testimonials on the website confirm it. The z-guides sell for $12.99 and they have instant download available. The list of z-guides continues to grow with excellent titles like Ben Hur, Amazing Grace, The Tale of Two Cities and more.
Finally, a chance to say Family Movie Night and get to count it towards school/education at the same time and feel good about everyone learning together!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Transformation=Identity Clarification

Oh how I have missed my blogland friends. It was 2+ years ago that I started this blog and found myself literally for hours a day scouring fabulous, creative, amazing, and downright genius ideas for decor, thrift store transformations, baking tips, dinner tricks and how to throw an amazing party whether it was for a birthday or simply a Tuesday done up in style!

It seems like that year I learned a lot, tried a lot, moved out of my comfort zone, bared a bit of myself, read a lot and then I felt like my blog purpose had disappeared..when would I be done decorating? When would I feel finished with adding touches to my home? As much as I love every single idea..I started to realize that while I love changing things in my home, I have a home with 5 sons and a husband that I never push them over a certain point and make it a ruffle-infested, delicate environment (despite my inner craving to have it be just that!). I know that Nerf guns will be played with, even silly string as was the case just this past weekend! Chasing two dogs around the house, wrestling and of course dealing with the everyday blunders of simply trying to train boys to pick things up off the floor, consider color coordinating before washing their laundry, maybe next time folding their clothes and NOT putting them on the floor...???

So where did this leave me and my blog?

I was happily chosen to do homeschool product reviews this schoolyear and we have really enjoyed the opportunity. I started blogging them all separately and then I didn't enjoy the format so well so I brought it all back to this blog.

SO where am I headed? Good question. As my blog title states, I live a prayerful driven life and that has definitely taken me down many unexpected but blessed roads!
I have felt for a while that the more I focus on home decor, the more dissatisfied I feel with what I have. That can be hard when you have all wood trim in your home and wish you could do the white airy look that is so popular. When you and your husband created your home in neutral, warm tones and you start collecting white pieces for decor that never seem to get cozy with your theme...what do you do? You decide to be at peace with what you have and prioritize what you think is the most important.

My priorities these days are connecting with my husband, running a household (not the leader, but the household chores, functions, etc.), homeschooling my two sons, living and eating healthy lifestyles, natural health maintenance which can include making my own cleaners, handsoap, tinctures and more. Then I have women's ministry, a new home-business I have started and these are all just at the top of my list. SO with this being said...uh oh..the dots came out... :) I think the shift that this blog is going to take in the very near future is updates on our homeschool journey, reviews and starting to share with you the things that I have been learning, reading, discovering and thoroughly been blown away to finally understand. These things include health, natural healing, dietary information and so much more.

I hope that you will join us and I am NOW--yes just in the past two weeks--a proud owner of a laptop. This will finally give me more freedom to update my blog more than once in a blue. I will aim to be regular posting, will you be regular and come join me and let's explore, learn, laugh and move forward together? I hope so!

Talk to you very soon!!!

Classical Academic Press - Song School Latin Review

Last year in attending our local homeschool convention I learned of the importance of teaching children Latin along with roots of words to fully comprehend spelling and meaning. I had attended a Latin/Grammar magnet school in 8th grade but do not remember much of it to share with my kids. I was stifled at the idea of teaching them a language I couldn't remember how to pronounce.

Enter Classical Academic Press...we were given the opportunity to review this wonderful product and we jumped at the chance! I was excited to see this particular one, Song School Latin, came with a cd of songs to reinforce and help with memory. Perfect! My son and I are both musical parrots, we can hear songs and memorize them quickly!

So what is different about Song School Latin?
It is a a workbook for grades K - 3rd grade with clear pronunciation information and background of the two types of pronunciation--that may sound boring but it isn't. That is not all! It has pictures and words to learn for each lesson along with the words to songs and questions and practice pages. Along with the cd that comes with the book. Each weekly lesson is peppered with songs, illustrations, hand-writing practice, stories and activities for easy mastery and memorization. Follow Simeon the monkey through the book and learn over a hundred engaging everyday Latin vocabulary words.

My son loved the cd immediately and wanted to blast through and listen to all of the songs. I loved seeing him retain so much information after just one lesson! He was proudly telling Dad that night that the Latin alphabet is missing one letter...what is it? The answer is W. Can I be honest here? I took a year of Latin and I never knew (or remember learning) that there was no W. The cd is a great reinforcement of each lesson and we listened to the songs a few times per lesson and he did all of the pages of the lesson without once trying to move on to something else.

Pros: Fun, educational, easy to retain method and enjoyable to teach!
Cons: Singing songs throughout the day in part English and part Latin. :)

The Song School Latin book and cd is available for $22.95, they also have the Teacher's Edition available for $22.95. There are more options like the extra fun matching cards available and you can find them on the website here: www.classicalacademicpress.com.
Check out the other programs available through Classical Academic Press while you are on the website.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids

BigIQ Kids is an e-learning site for kids. The site concentrates on the primary subjects for elementary and middle school students. The focus and intent of BigIQ Kids starts with structured learning mixed with fun. The daily lessons build good study habits, lead to better grades and improved self-confidence.

My two sons excitedly created their accounts and enjoyed browsing and getting familiar with the site. It offers customizable avatars which they enjoyed creating once they had earned some credits trying out the spelling and vocabulary sections. I was excited at the opportunity for them do an online spelling bee, practice the state names, math and reading.

There is a vast amount offered on this site, many are customizable, making it easy to line up with homeschool curriculum and subjects, fit for practice for a student to do at home and many other options. There is so much to explore and utilize on this site!

How It Works:

The Spelling program has over a 40,000 word dictionary, and comes pre-loaded with 40 lessons or word lists.

Math: You can set up a child's lesson to mirror what they are doing in their current curriculum. For example, if the child is on double digit addition and single digit multiplication, the program can focus on just these two areas providing invaluable practice and reinforcement that is certain to provide them with the tools to ace their next test. Or, BigMathTime can automatically generate grade specific and subject specific lessons as per your requirements.

Vocabulary: With an extensive library of elementary through SAT prep words, BigVocabTime comes pre-loaded with word lists OR, as a parent or teacher, you can easily enter your own word lists and the program will automatically create a week’s worth of lessons, quizzes and tests around your own list with the goal of achieving 100% on the week’s vocabulary test.

U.S. States: Every elementary student will be confronted with the need to know their US State facts to mastery. BigStatesTime is the ultimate tool in learning the state's location, capital, spelling, abbreviations and general state facts. The program allows parents/teachers to add additional facts which will be included in the child's lessons and the program culminates in a “State Mastery Exam” that, if passed with 100% mastery, awards the child a State Master Certificate.

Also offered on the site are Analog and Digital Clock Practice, Measurements, Phonics and eBooks. You can even have a spelling contest with your friends or family!

What you don't know about BigIQ Kids:
It is a FREE website, although they have excellent upgrade for $9.99 and premium options from $19.99 to $99.99 for all subjects. I would highly recommend the upgrade! My kids were highly motivated to do the daily lessons and work because they earned credits to use towards games.

The primary differences between the BigIQkids FREE and PREMIUM programs are the ability of the PREMIUM program to monitor the progress of the student and advance that student only when mastery of the subject matter has been achieved. Additionally, PREMIUM members have their progress tracked, saved, problem areas identified and these findings are reported via email to parents and/or teachers. The PREMIUM program offers students customized buddies, full game page access and the ability to save game coins and gaming high scores. These functions help double the fun while mastering core academic subject matter. The PREMIUM program has very LIMITED advertisement and no ads are displayed during lesson interaction.

We give BigIQ Kids a definite thumbs up! My kids enjoyed their lessons and jumped at each opportunity to get online and do them. I liked being able to track what they did without having to sit with them during each lesson. I hope you will go check out the program BigIQ Kids and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as we did!
Thanks BigIQ Kids!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Artistic Pursuits Review

As a parent and especially a homeschooling parent, I find great joy in seeing the creativity in my children become unleashed. Recently we were able to try the Artistic Pursuits curriculum for K-3 An Introduction to the Visual Arts. As soon as we received it in the mail my son got out his art supply kit and couldn't wait for me to start going through the projects with him.

The Artistic Pursuits curriculum is nicely done with art history, instruction, supply lists, even down to the questions asked with each project. I have to admit that while the questions were not hard, I wondered in my mind if my son would catch on to the details they were trying to get noticed. He answered every question quickly with ease giving me more of a confidence with each page as we used it. I was impressed to be able to help teach such a great program and also learn to look at art with a new eye.

The lessons are not long and drawn out, they seem to be the perfect amount of instruction, technique and examples. I think what makes Artistic Pursuits so appealing for a child is seeing the professional artistic examples and on the next page seeing drawings and artwork done from someone from their age group. I feel that it brings more confidence out in their attempts at their own creations. My son was often the type that didn't think he was good enough compared to someone else. Instead, he does art daily since using Artistic Pursuits and has told everyone he wants to be an artist! He practices daily and draws covers of books along with numerous other inspirations.

In Book One the lessons are divided into three sections as follows:

•What Artists Do: Ten lessons cover activities artists engage in when making art such as imagining and observing. Children explore drawing and painting techniques, gaining experience in pencil, color, and brush work.
•What Artists See: Seven lessons cover the elements that artists use in 2-dimesional and 3-dimensional works such as shape, form, and color. Children explore collage, paper works, and color mixing. Children gain experience in handling scissors, glue, and paper forms.
•Exploring Ancient Art: Fifteen lessons cover ancient art from the cave paintings of France to book illumination of the 13th century. Children see that art is more than just a picture on a wall. Cultures used it in different ways and for different purposes. Lessons expand the child's ideas of what art is and where we find it. Children explore mural, pottery, low-relief, paper art, bookbinding, mosaic techniques and more.

Would I recommend Artistic Pursuits? ABSOLUTELY!! I am thrilled with the excitement my son shows with art and creative works now!

Artistic Pursuits is available at their website: www.artisticpursuits.com They offer curriculum for preschool through high school. The book we reviewed sells for $42.95. If you are looking for an engaging, visual way to teach art, I believe this is a one stop shop! It is interesting for my children, but also likewise for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and the lessons and taking art further than the basics that I could think of on my own.

Albert Einstein said, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." I believe Brenda Ellis matching this quote with her curriculum and amazing ways of connecting with the students and parents alike.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lifestyle Changes, God Rearranges

What is it about a new year that brings reflection? Is it the numerous inches of snow that looks like a clean slate outside that leads me in this direction? Possibly. But what I realize as I make numerous posts on facebook, help educate my friends and family, teach my children and gain new lists of books and blogs to read and follow...

How Did I Get Here?

I was thinking back today of where and when things changed. I was just an average follow the crowd type person. I looked no different than anyone else really.

First, God got a hold of my heart and turned it toward him. I know that is the first big change that came in my life. I knew Him from years back but you know we weren't on good communication terms at the time honestly. Boy how that changed for the better!

Next, I worked a job that paid decent but I found absolutely no purpose in my job or my time spent away from my family. But one magical day I was asked to be part of a group...The Health and Wellness Group for our company. At first it just sounded fun...but as I learned, read, talked with dietician's, set up a Health Fair for our company, took Pilates and a kick-tail Fitness class all on my lunch hours things began to change rapidly.

All of sudden a fire burned inside of me! I realized that I cared more about my co-workers health than faxing, writing meaningless reports and filling cubicle space. My joy came from seeing someone in the hall BEAM when they saw me and say "Sarah! I am on 2,000 steps on my pedometer already today!" "Way to go!" I would cheer. I was honestly inside of myself truly happy and happy for them! Lifestyle changes started happening with many of my friends and myself and my family.

I was let go from my job (many also were let go at this point) and as I packed my things that day I realized the only thing I was going to miss was seeing people's progress with their health, my fitness classes and the Health and Wellness group. This was pretty eye opening to me!

Now here I am, sharing with friends and family changes into the organic world, raw diets, homeopathy, natural cures, trusting that God created a cure for every illness and no longer looking like everyone else. I like the title of Anti-Mainstream, I truly feel like that is a good description. I love becoming a researcher, advocate, someone that finally knows what I stand for and why, where I read it, who I can help and more! To rally people together, to share links, articles, books, remedies and knowledge everywhere I go.

That my friends is a design of God and I didn't see the blueprint immediately, but it stirs in me daily, to help others. To see health and pray for change as I help them implement better choices. I am so thankful to be wonderfully and beautifully made and to finally realize it and use it for His glory!!!

Just goes to show...You Never Know!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Being snowed in has finally given me time to do a bit of blog catch up. Numerous reviews, lots of homeschooling and many trips on weekends has kept us very busy this past fall and winter.

I have wanted to share a journey with you that I pray helps you look deeper into your own with new perspective. I will not share all the details but it starts in late summer last year. I started sensing God's urgency to pay attention to what we were learning, what our focus had become along with what we were doing for people with our tithes and offering. Wishing it was my husband getting the nudge I prayed God reveal it to him...this did not happen. Okay...so I go to him and share what God is showing me. He prays and takes some time to think about it and decides he agrees that it is a God thing. Now what???

As we got closer to making a decision people we didn't expect came to us with insight and scriptures that simply confirmed we needed a change. Why now? What were we in for? The hardest part was being led to leave our church...and not knowing where we were supposed to go. We had moved to another church before but we knew our move as we were leaving. Again, learning dependency on God through this was something I THOUGHT I had down pat...fail! I struggled at first trying to find what I "thought" we were missing. We filled the gaps trying churches for a few weeks to come home sandy from the spiritual desert we experienced.

Here is where it got interesting...with each church we tried God showed me something new inside ME. The first, my belief of what we needed was inaccurate and I wasn't trusting God to provide exactly what would benefit us. The second, I had a dependency on the church "model", I needed to focus on my own time in the Word throughout the week. At this point I started to reflect on the previous time that we changed churches and realized the answered prayers that came of that change. I was new in town, the only church family I had known and yet still really didn't have any friends. When we started in the new church family years ago, I had many friends, we had our house full of them on many Sunday's and I finally felt like this was home!

As my husband and I discussed the up and coming Sunday and where we would attend, I couldn't get the church my best friend had referred me to many times wanting to go visit it. I asked if we could attend this one. He agreed and the excitement kept me going all week! I can't even express to you the anticipation I had that morning! Here we go...(hence my title!)

I walked in and the sound of the worship brought tears to my eyes. I sobbed through the whole thing. As we went to pick up our children they looked at me with intent eyes and asked, "can we please come back?". Who doesn't want to hear their children say those wonderful words? Yes, God directed us and we found a loving, nurturing and warm environment that felt like we were home immediately!

So here is my lesson...even after being directed to a wonderful new church home that God had given us, he still taught me. Sharing with me how much he knows my love of soulful worship, this was his gift to me (the place to do so). He shared with me that these services should be my icing and not my food...I need to be fed throughout the week on my own. Although I viewed myself as an adult Christian, God was showing me I was more like an awkward teenager learning how to be independent, boldly walk the walk and talk the talk and learn how to deal with peer pressure, etc.

Oh, the places you'll go! Many months ago I never would have envisioned our journey, the lessons at hand and the strength that we have gained being fully persuaded to stay on the path!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


What is ALEKS?
Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS. Learn more by watching a quick 2-minute video.

We first learned about ALEKS last year when my oldest stepson used it in public school for his summer school program. He loved using it compared to learning at school, he excelled and understood it. Fast forward to December where we were offered to review it for my son that I homeschool. I was excited to have access and see if it was as good as I had heard. What I discovered was completely unexpected! My son LOVES this program! By the end of December he had logged 4 hours and 21 minutes on his own time doing the lessons. He also spent a few hours on a separate trial link one DAY doing numerous lessons. Needless to say this transformed his schoolwork outside of workbooks. He enjoyed the online format and the variety of lessons.

ALEKS can provide you with the instruction and support that you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12. With a comprehensive course library ranging from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus, ALEKS acts much like a human tutor to help take the stress off of homeschooling parents.

ALEKS offers highly-targeted, individualized instruction from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a comprehensive and mobile education solution for your children. A subscription to ALEKS offers access to all courses and your child may take as many courses as needed during their subscription period.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

* Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
* No Textbook Required
* Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
* Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
* Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress
* Unlimited Online Access - PC and Mac Compatible
* QuickTables - Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

One of my favorite parts of ALEKS along with my son enjoying it so much, is getting the updated reports that are sent to my email. I am shown what he learned, mastered, how long he worked on it and more. I find this to be very important as a homeschool parent that needs to keep track of hours and having specific times instead of trying to keep tabs myself.

My son checked his pie chart often and let me know the percentage of what he completed. I love the thorough charts and information they offer at this website!!! I am so impressed with how excited my son is to get his pie chart done and motivated to spend his time working on his math to get it done!

A subscription to ALEKS is

* $19.95 per student, per month, or

* only $99.95 every 6 months, or

* only $179.95 every 12 months.
Learn about our family discount program.

When you subscribe, we will create two ALEKS accounts:

* A Student Account: This is the account your child will use to access the ALEKS Student Module which includes assessment and learning features.

* A Master Account: With this account, you can monitor your child's progress through automated reports, assign quizzes, manage student accounts, and much more.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Virtual Nerd Review

One of the most frequently asked questions in homeschooling is: "What will you do when they are in high school and need to learn the more difficult subjects?". Virtual Nerd offers an online version of tutoring to help parents answer these questions confidently. Students get the essential benefits of private tutoring and access to over a thousand interactive step-by-step video tutorials presented in their patent-pending Dynamic Whiteboard™. Offering students teaching tools from Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Intro to Physics as well as Chemistry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus in time for the 2011-2012 school year. I have to admit just reading that list helps me exhale and relax at the idea of high school education with assistance from a site like Virtual Nerd!

My son is currently working through Pre-Algebra so this is the area we investigated on the site the most. He enjoyed that he could pull up a lesson that he had not mastered and skip to the point where he was lost. Right now the site is primarily used to teach and review the rules, showing you how the problems break down. I enjoyed watching the Dynamic Whiteboard™ videos and found them engaging.

There is a wonderful review throughout the lesson explaining what they are doing instead of rushing through it and confusing you as you watch them do the problem. They explain it step by step and show you where the numbers and formula comes from. These are the minimum requirements for your computer in order to use Virtual Nerd:

*High speed Internet access
*Minimum of: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 2, Apple Safari 2, Google Chrome 2, or Flash Player 9
*Screen/display resolution of 1024x768 pixels
There are many options for signing up. From $5/day to $129/3 months and options in between you will find the perfect fit for your situation. I would highly recommend Virtual Nerd for parents, even as a resource to utilize during tough times in studies at school. You can read more about them and see pricing here: http://www.virtualnerd.com/#

You can also find them on facebook here.
You can view a video here:

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Master Innovations – Master Clock Review

Our latest review is for a product called The Master Clock. We were so excited to open this package! First of all the clock is better than any clock I have seen at various teacher stores. Finally a clock that moves the hour when the minutes go by! I also liked having the seconds hand and the color coding made it easy for me to explain and teach. The Master Clock is also able to pare down to the hour hand and then work in the seconds hand to get the hang of it. I especially liked the fact that it included digital because my son is familiar with both so helping him put the two together in his mind as being the same is efficient teaching!

Our package came with the Master Clock workbook which has a great deal of information and fun activities to do. Helping my son think of things that take an hour, 1/2 hour and then using the clock to show how long it would take and what time it would be was enjoyable. The workbook includes a lot of information about the beginning methods of telling time, how to make clocks and so much more.

I am thrilled with the quality and the in-depth lessons offered through The Master Clock! My son is telling time more than ever and we greatly enjoyed sitting down and doing it together. I think that speaks volumes on its own!

Master Innovations is a company that has been inventing new manipulative for mathematics for over 10 years. They have created The Master Clock, The Master Angle, The Master Fractions, and their award winning Marvels of Measurement poster.

We also received in our review package a copy of Marvels of Measurement poster and I have to agree that it was the best measurement poster I have seen, as it contains numerous measurements on it so you don’t need rooms of wall space to put up various measurements. I will definitely be adding Master Fractions and Master Angle to our wish list for the future!

The Master Clock sells for $14.95 and the Master Clock Workbook sells for $15.95. You can read more about this and their other great products here: http://www.themasterruler.com/

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Professor in a Box Financial Accounting

We were recently asked to review Professor in a Box Financial Accounting course. I am about to say something that most people would never utter…We were SO excited to learn about Financial Accounting with Professor in a Box. I actually mean it! Professor in a Box gets an A+ from me on this curriculum. My son is in 7th grade and he couldn’t wait to learn about the details of financial accounting.

This course is laid out very nicely for you to learn! I enjoyed listening to it as my son went through the slide show and learned the basics of business terms. I enjoyed that they gave great examples so that the student could understand the terminology. It is never assumed that the students know the terms so it is a great course for the student to follow and not feel like a lecture is going over their head and hard to absorb. His voice is not boring, in fact it was easy to listen to and my son liked it while I find to be a strong positive recommendation!

What do you do?

Financial Accounting by Michael P. Licata, Ph.D. is a first accounting course for homeschool high school students. Many high schools offer an accounting course as an elective for students interested in pursuing a career in business. Now homeschool high school students have such an elective available to them. Financial Accounting by Michael P. Licata, Ph.D. is a challenging college level course similar in content to the first accounting course taken by all students in university and college schools of business across the country. Any high school level student with basic math skills can handle this course.

Students taking Financial Accounting by Michael P. Licata, Ph.D. will learn to prepare and interpret the four basic financial statements which all publicly traded companies must prepare and make available to the public. Complete financial accounting course featuring narrated lectures taught by a college professor and homeschool dad – Dr. Michael P. Licata, Ph.D. Featuring content coverage for the new CLEP Financial Accounting Exam.

This course is available for a limited time at the rate of $99.95 at their website:


They also offer a full money back guarantee! Work through the first three chapters and if you’re not satisfied with the course, send it back for a full refund including shipping!

I found this course easy to work through, efficient, nicely done and I am excited to look into their other offerings Principles of Marketing and Entrepreneurship (coming Spring 2011). I highly recommend this course and I will be sharing the details of it with all of my homeschool friends!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

PG Key SafeKey

One of the biggest concerns of parents these days is protecting their time online. We have homeschool and public school children in our family and google is often on our public school sons homework list. So how do you protect your children without having to stand over them the entire time?

Enter PG Key…

PG Key Program Features & Functions:

• Simple, easy to use solution that any parent can use- Just plug it into the family or childs PC and immediately create a safer, supervised, kid friendly environment.
• A total solution that gives parents everything they need to follow the advice from experts.
• No annual fees required.
• Website blocking, filtering, access and time control, notifications – 10 essential parental controls are activated.
• Designed and endorsed by experts from law enforcement, education and children’s and family psychology.
• Works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

Access Control
Control computer use by inserting or unplugging PG Key.

Time Allowance
Decide the amount of time the computer can be used daily.

Content Filtering
Eliminate unwanted results from innocent searches.

Site Blocking
Block sites you decide are inappropriate.

Activity Tracking
Review all activity on the PC with a DVD-like interface.

Activity Notifications
Be informed via text message or e-mail of any flagged activity.

Chat and E-mail Logging
See both sides of chat and e-mail conversations.

Computer Configuration
Properly configure all users of the protected PC.

User Name and Password Logging
Keep track of user names and passwords.

Inappropriate Activity Evidence
Use video recording to show obvious or suspected inappropriate activity.

Sounds too good to be true right? We tried PG Key recently and found that it does offer a great amount of support, settings and options. Although the install was quick and easy, I found it difficult to go to some of my normal websites, I had not added any filters but yet it seemed to only block my shopping sites and forums. Playing with the settings has fixed the issues for me for now.

I liked the fact that it uses the USB port although I have noticed my computer was running slower because I don’t have a huge amount of memory on my computer. I do think that the PG Key has a lot of potential and with more time I hope to get more accustomed to how it works and fine tune the searches. I like the options available for recording and playing back. Especially as someone else mentioned when you forget a website where you found some information while researching online, you can scroll back through and find it.

Solution – PG Key’s SafeKey allows parents to record up to 60 hours of computer activity that a parent can then watch as easy as watching a movie.. and notify parents when their rules are not being followed. Since SafeKey is visible, the child or teen knows that their parent is “over their shoulder” so they don’t engage is the behaviors in the first place. No monthly fee’s and a more complete solution also make PG Key a better option for parents.

PG Key is $49.99 + shipping. I would say this is a comparable price to other filters and software out there. You can also request a free trial at this link: http://www.pgkey.com/StoreLocator.aspx

I will say with my experience of PG Key I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. There is a learning curve to it and I didn’t find it as easy to use as I had hoped, but their customer service and one time fee are a good enough value that I would say it is worth trying. My advice: request a free trial and see for yourself.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.