Sunday, October 31, 2010


Precise Prince's grand jack-o-lantern:

Creative Princess's grand jack-o-lantern:

As is becoming tradition, Creative Princess made her own costume-a coyote.  Precise Prince kept it simple-a baseball player.  I love how easy costumes are around here.

The gang before heading out:

The goods:

Friday, October 29, 2010

TOS Review: Buckets O Fun: Yuck Products


We received some samples of Buckets O Fun yuck products for review. What is yuck you ask?  Essentially it's a product that changes when you add water to it.  We received samples of chunky yuck, saucy yuck, snowy yuck and sticky yuck.  We also received information on how to use the yuck, including information on how to use it as a science experiment.  Essentially with each product, you add water and observe (by looking and feeling) what happens. 

We also received two pages printed out with game ideas to use with the yuck products.  Many of the game ideas involved playing outside with they yuck and making a mess.  They look like fun ideas for the summer (most of them would end with a result of the kids getting pretty wet.)

We tried the snowy yuck first on a day my four year old niece was with us.  The kids loved it.  They took turns adding water to it to get the right consistency and when it time to be finished (it was nap time for my niece) they weren't ready to be done.  I don't want to tell you all the details and ruin the fun of experimenting with yuck yourself so I will include some pictures of the kids enjoying it.

A couple of weeks later we tried out the chunky yuck. This one takes a 24 hour period to hydrate completely. Creative Princess said she did not want to touch the chunky yuck so instead she got some paper and wrote down her observations. Precise Prince didn't mind touching it all. The second day, when it was fully hydrated, we did a couple of experiments with it and even got Creative Princess to touch it a bit. It does have a bit of a slimy feel. (Creative Princess has never cared for certain textures so it didn't surprise me that she was hesitant to try some of the yuck products.)


For the saucy yuck and sticky yuck, we invited some friends over.  As  previously mentioned, Creative Princess doesn't like certain textures and I figured the kids would have more fun trying the yuck with their friends.  Indeed they did.  One of the the kids said the saucy yuck felt like a swamp.  The favorite on this day was the sticky yuck although my daughter and my niece would not touch it. Our friend's daughter would though and she had fun playing with it.  The boys loved the sticky yuck and of course, at least one of them pretended he sneezed it into his hand.

Overall, the products were fun to try out.  Each type of yuck come in a minimum 1 pound package and I do think that a larger quantity with a group of people would be more fun. 

There are some important warnings about yuck products to be aware of.  First, you do not want your child ingesting these products.  Each one expands and changes with water added to it.  For example, one pound of snowy yuck will grow to about 25-50 gallons of yuck once some water is added.  Don't dump the remains into your plumbing system.  And one last warning-you're kids will love making a mess with these products!

Our favorite was the snowy yuck.  I am considering purchasing one pound of it to take for my families annual Christmas gathering.  I think all the kids would have a blast playing with it together.  I would definitely put a sheet down to make clean up easy.

This is a fun product that non-homeschoolers would enjoy as well! The products do come in one pound minimum quantities but you could get your own sample first and see which one you like best. Just go to the bottom of this page.  One pound of product costs between $16 and $20 depending on the type you buy.  Buckets-O Fun has other products for sale that look like fun too!  Go here to buy Yuck products.

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates had to say.

(I received free samples of yuck in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Last weekend we decided we needed a break from all the house selling/buying and took the kids to a pumpkin patch with a corn maze. I'll be honest and tell you that it did not start off very fun-arguing over how to do the maze. Once we worked out a system, we enjoyed it though.

The kids each picked out their own pumpkin to carve. They wanted huge pumpkins so we let them get them and World Traveler and I decided not to carve pumpkins ourselves this year. I completely forgot to take a picture of what the pumpkins actually look like after being carved so I'll do that some other time.

This is Precise Prince doing what he loves-being precise.  This is where the arguing came from.  He wanted to follow the map while Creative Princess wanted to wander aimlessly and see what happened.  It really showed their different personalities.  We finally got a good compromise--we wandered aimlessly for awhile and then used the map. 

TOS review: PG Key SafeKey


PGKey SafeKey is a flash drive you plug into your computer to assist you in keeping your kids safe on the internet.  From the back of the box it came in:
SafeKey is a patent pending, award winning device that simply plugs into your children's computer's USB port and immediately creates a safer and more "kid friendly" online environment.
PG Key SafeKey is simple to use.  Plug it into a USB port, install the program, and register it online.  Once it's installed you need to take a quick minute to register the PGKey to access all its features. It was very simple.

When you initially set up the SafeKey, you choose which users are set up for the SafeKey program.  For example, we have two users on our computer.  One is titled kids and the other is my husband's name.  When the kids want to use the computer, they sign in on the kids account which requires the SafeKey to be connected to the computer.  If they remove the SafeKey from the flash drive, a pop up states that you need to either connect the SafeKey again or change users. When my husband or I use the computer, we sign in with his name and a password that the kids don't know.

Here are the features advertised on the box and how they worked for our family.

SafeKey Time Lock

This feature allows you to set a time limit for the PG key user.  This feature worked just fine for us. I set the time limit to 90 minutes and each time the kids account has been used for 90 minutes a pop up appears on the screen not allowing the kids to do anything.  It didn't mess up what they were doing on the computer.  If I wanted to let them stay on the computer longer, I just typed in the password (which of course they don't know) and they could continue what they were doing.

SafeKey Safe Search

PG Key sets up your home page on your internet browser to the PG Key Safe Search.  From the box:

The PG Key Safe Search home page and toolbar help ensure that innocent searches don't result in unwanted images and content.
We have never used any parental controls on our computer.  The main reason I have even wanted parental controls is because I would like my children to be able to search what we are studying.  Until we started using this program, I did the searching and then they used the pages I found to read through and look at.
I think the key here is in the wording:  "help ensure that innocent searches don't result in unwanted images and content."  (emphasis mine.)  Of course, I decided to start searching a word that I would not consider innocent at all--sex. I got 30 pages of websites. Many of the websites were state sex registries. (In comparison, I typed sex into google and got over 500 million websites-a huge difference.)  There were some sites that were not at all what I would want my children to see but only one of the sites I randomly checked contained a completely inappropriate picture. Now, realize that I did not click on each of the 30 pages of websites, I tested only a few and with searching a word like sex, I am not surprised that some inappropriate content got through. Also, there were a few sites I clicked on that were blocked by the SafeKey. I received a message that PGKey blocked it.

Next, I allowed the kids to do some searching on their own while I was in the room with them.  They searched Legos, wolves, coyotes (my daughter loves animals-especially any type of dog), the military and watermelons among other things.  Everything they searched turned up fine.  There wasn't anything in what they looked at that would be objectionable.  However, I went and searched watermelon later and did end up with one website that I would not want my children to read--it was a science website.  The subject matter was inappropriate, but the pictures were fine.

Precise Prince has used the search feature several times now and there were a few times that he would click on a website and PG Key would not allow him to view it.  I was able to watch a recording of what he searched and see that nothing inappropriate showed up in his searches.  (You'll read about the recording a few paragraphs down.)

It's important to mention here that you can choose to block any websites you want with the parental controls.  The example given in the instructions was facebook-so if I don't want them to be able to access facebook, I simply type into the blocked websites section and PGKey will block it if the kids try to access it.  I tried this feature with several websites and it worked just fine for me.

 Another option is to set up the internet access on the PGKey account so that only websites you choose would work.  For example, I could have it so the only websites my kids' could access were and  If they typed in any other websites, PGKey would block them.  This is a great feature for younger kids who are still learning to navigate the computer.  You don't have to worry about them accidentally clicking something.

SafeKey Alerts

From the box: 
PG Key will send you an e-mail or text message when words or phrases you choose are used, or when your child or teen doesn't follow the rules you set.
I tested this out by choosing to be notified any time the word sex is typed.  I have received several notifications in my email while typing out this blog post. 

SafeKey Session Recorder

SafeKey takes a picture of the computer screen every 5 seconds (unless the screen has not changed at all). You can also change the setting to take a picture at longer intervals. You can then go in and watch the recording.  It also records the text being typed. 

PGKey recorded what I was doing and I was able to watch it just like a DVD.   It also recorded my text-including all the passwords I typed in, except the one used for the PGKey SafeKey.  As a parent, I don't have a problem with this-I know my kids passwords for anything on the computer-but I would want to be sure that I erase the log regularly.

I also looked at the recording after my son and daughter did their own searches.  I was able to see that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing and that the SafeKey did block a few sites when my son was searching information on the military. 

In order to watch and erase the recordings, you need to have your password so your children can't access this feature.

SafeKey Encryptor
Basically this ensures that your kids can't figure out your password by using the computer.  There was really no way for me to test this so I'm just going to believe them.  :-)

Overall, my experience was good with PG SafeKey.  I did need to call customer service once.  I had to uninstall and re-install PGKey twice because I was unable to search.  The third time I couldn't search, I called customer service.  The support person was very friendly and helpful.  He walked me through a few steps and we discovered that the reason I couldn't search was because the PGKey search is powered by google and I had put google on my list of blocked websites.  I unblocked google and after a few minutes, my problem was solved. (I had been playing around with blocking different sites and had blocked and unblocked google a few times, never making the connection myself.)

I personally like the PGKey SafeKey and I would recommend it to others but I do think it's important to remember that no program replaces the responsibility of a parent.  I appreciate that the back of the quick start guide also states this.

PGKey is a one time purchase for continued protection.  You do not pay monthly or yearly fees for this product.  You can go here and purchase PGKey for $49.99.

To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about the PGKey SafeKey go here.

(I was given a PGKey SafeKey for free in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: Student Planner

I received a free copy of the TOS Student Planner: Primary edition to review.

I was excited to get a chance to see what the student planner's were like since I now have the main TOS Schoolhouse Planner.  Ok, I have to confess something here-I am not one who uses a lot of organizational tools.  Until recently (as in the last year or so), I could easily keep my calendar in my head.  I would write things down on my home wall calendar, but once it was written, I wouldn't even need to look at the calendar.  I could tell you what we had going on for the week-no problem.  Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's something else, but over the past year or two, I have actually forgotten appointments-something I never did before! 

In September, I sat down with the Schoolhouse Planner and printed out some of the forms that I thought would help me organize our schooling and daily lives.  My notebook may not be as big as some of my friends, but it contains just what I need and I am finding it helpful.  So when I got the opportunity to try out the student edition I was excited.  It's never too early to start teaching your children about organizing and keeping track of important things, such as schoolwork.

I started out printing out the calendar pages for the kids and a couple of other forms that I want them to use (the reading list being one of them.)  Then I let the kids sit down with the file and look through the pages and print out the ones they want in their book.

This Student Planner is divided into four main sections as follows:

Calendars:  There is a year-at-a-glance calendar for both 2010 and 2011 and two types of grid calendars (one with lines and one without) for the 2010-11 school year.  There is also a customizable grid calendar-you type in your own wording and numbers.

Informational Must Know Lists:  Some of these lists include Parables of Jesus, a multiplication table, a list of Newbery Medal winning books, a list of Caldecot Medal winning books, Basic information on the planets, The Presidents and their wives and many, many more lists of helpful information.

Homeschool Forms: Some of the forms included in this section are weekly and daily planning forms, attendance charts, logs for field trips and books read, journal pages, science lab sheets and many more.

Organizational Forms: Here you will find chore charts, a Bible reading schedule, a form for writing (or typing) in your family tree and a few other helpful forms.

Precise Prince loved a lot of the informational lists and had me print out quite a few of them.  I found him reading them before bed one night.  Creative Princess's favorite forms were the journal pages.  She loves writing (as long as it's not an actual school assignment. LOL)  The kids enjoyed getting the chance to choose their own pages for their new organizational notebook.

I think this Planner is a good tool.  I do want to mention that most of these forms are in the main Schoolhouse Planner so if you are like me and prefer to just print out the forms to put in a notebook to write in, then you don't need to this planner in addition to the main planner.  But both planner's allow you type directly into the e-book and save the changes so if you prefer to keep everything on your computer then it would be helpful to have this for your child to type into directly.  The primary edition Student Planner is only $9.95.  You may purchase it here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Interesting to think on:

9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Accepted an offer on our house
Went house hunting
Put in an offer (accepted) on another house
Finished the camoflauge shirts
Packed up more stuff
Got schoolwork done
Drove everyone where they needed to be
Community group

Friday, October 15, 2010

TOS Schoolhouse Planner-Great Deal

Just $19.95 for The 2010-2011 Schoolhouse Planner. Plus, receive a gorgeous Cranberries & Cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag for free!

Click here to purchase.

You save 63% in all--for ONE DAY ONLY.

Review: Young Hearts Longing for God: A Bible study

I love how God provides!  Something I have not been good about is getting the kids started on studying the Bible on their own and this was one of the most important things I wanted to incorporate this year.  God provided this in the way of a pre-inductive Bible study e-book on the Psalms by Soli Deo Gloria Resources for us to review.

PhotobucketI downloaded the e-book and quickly read the first couple of pages.  The instructions are simple.  This book is recommended for grades 3-8 for children who can read well on their own.  (The downloaded book stated grades 3-5 and the website states 4-8.  I think this would be fine for grades 3-8 and even second graders could benefit if they worked with a parent.)  There are 30 Psalms to study in this book.  Each week the child studies one Psalm, reading the Psalm every day.  There are questions to answer about the Psalm, including a journal question, that can be done at anytime during the week.  Some of the Psalms have the child underlining parts of the Psalm in different colored pencils.  (For example, in Psalm 32, one of the things to do is  "Underline in purple the promise God makes to those who trust in Him.") There are times that other portions of scripture are mentioned for the kids to look up and read.  I like that as it shows that Scripture works together.  Each Psalm contains about 6-10 questions. 

I decided we would work on the first Psalm together.  Each day the kids took turns reading half the Psalm and we answered one or two of the questions.  On Friday, they did their journal question.  The journal questions require a bit more thinking and seem to be intended to help children relate the Psalms to their own lives.  For example, the journal question for Psalm 23 is "Write one or two sentences about a time when you felt God caring for you tenderly, like a shepherd."

After the first Psalm, I now have the kids working on one Psalm per week.  I check their answers to be sure they are understanding what they are reading.  I do have to encourage them a bit in the journaling.  They tend to want to rush through it.

When we started Psalm 32, Creative Princess said "Mom, look, here's the verse we are memorizing this week."  We had just discussed Psalm 32:9 as it was the week's memory verse.  It is so fun to see God putting things together in our lives.

I found the study to be simple enough for my youngest (age almost 9) and yet allow both my kids to think about God's Word and what it is saying.  We are going to continue to use this study (as mentioned in the beginning this is something I've been wanting for my kids).  With 30 Psalms to study we will be able to use this for the rest of the school year. 

I like that this is a serious Bible study-the pages are black and white without illustrations or activities such as crafts to do. I think this is a good introduction to personal Bible study.  It takes a portion of Scripture and asks questions to get you to think about what that text is saying.  Right now, that is what my kids are needing.  I would definitely recommend this study to others.

This study is available in e-book format for $14.50 or in a print version for $16.  I like the e-book format as I can print out the pages for both my children.  If you choose the print version, you will need one book per child as it is intended to be written in. 

Soli Deo Gloria Resources has other books available in several subjects including Bible, Geography, History, Science and other disciplines. You can browse them here.

Soli Deo Gloria--"To God alone the glory!"

(I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Studying the military

Our new unit in KONOS is about the military.  Last week I told the kids that's what we would be studying.  They found the couple of books we had from the library and started looking through them.  Here's what I found them doing:

They made their own scene of military vehicles. 

Today they started painting old white t-shirts in camouflage.  They both loved doing that and keep talking about how they are going to camouflage themselves and go to their friends house go they can't see them (at least, that is Creative Princesses plan.)

The beginning of the school day was not so fun so I decided we needed a fun project to liven it up.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I finally got around to getting pictures from my camera to the computer.  Here are a few.

Babysitting my baby sister's baby:  (Precise Prince loved holding her.)

Creative Princess sewing with a friend:

A couple of pictures of my clean house:  (This first one is the den where previously I had my scrapbook table set up.  It's in the garage now but you can actually see the floor.)

My belated birthday dinner at the Crab Pot.  It was delicious.  Creative Princess had a plain hamburger and fries but Precise Prince ate all the yummy seafood with World Traveller and me.