Monthly Archives: February 2012

To Thank or not to Thank?

To Thank or not to Thank?



It isn’t even a question……

By now you should all know how crazy I am about writing thank you notes and teaching/training your children to write thank you notes….if you don’t just know that about me by now…..IT IS IMPORTANT TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO WRITE THANK YOU NOTES!!!!!!!

Anyhoo, I found a great free resource to help you and your children in their thank you note writing endeavors and I just had to share it with you!

Before I do that…I want you to know that once they are old enough to write a couple sentences they are writing notes by themselves.  I will help them know what to write but they are doing them on their own.

What I found today is for the younger set of kiddos who can’t write that much by themselves!  These are FREE printable notes that you can choose what they look like, what they say, and what you leave as blanks for your child to fill in by themselves!

Here is the link for the printable fill in the blank thank you notes for kids!


ENJOY!  We will be using these today for our 5 and 3 year olds who just had a joint bday party!

K5 Learning: A TOS Review

K5 Learning: A TOS Review

K5 Learning: A TOS Review


Sacha’s<25: K5 Learning is an online reading and math program for kids from kindergarten through grade 5 helping kids build reading, math and study skills through independent study.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  4 stars
Did it help us learn?  6 stars
Is it worth the money?  2 stars (for us, however if you are looking at this instead of a private tutor I would give it an 8)
Is it useful to me?  2 stars
Practicality-  6 stars
Quality- 9 stars
Kid Rating- 6 stars

We were given a free 2 month subscription to K5 Learning for us to review.  I chose to have Andrew (8 years old and in 2nd grade) use this review  since he was the best fit age wise in our family.  The first thing that I had him do was take the 2 assessment tests to see where he would need to be placed in this program.  You are able to just sign your child up for the grade level you think they are in.  I was pleasantly surprised to find what level the assessment placed him at.  I was a bit confused about the assessment report but I called customer service and was able to speak to someone right away and they were able to explain what it all meant.  They also informed me that if a student places more than 1 grade level above (or below) their current grade entered that I would have to call or email to ask for them to be manually moved.  The program will only move up or down 1 grade level automatically based on the assessment. At any time during the program you can change your child’s level.

Andrew’s math assessment placed him at a strong grade 3.  His reading assessment place him at a high grade 5.  I knew that he was reading above grade level, I just didn’t realize he was this high above grade level!


This is a sample reading assessment report!

Andrew was excited to get started on the program.  Each day starts with a riddle/joke.  He tried out the math first.  Oh my, he did not like the speed that it taught.  He already knew what it was teaching–place value to the 1,000′s and there was no way to speed along the lesson.  I can see this being great for a child who is a struggling learner.  Andrew was bored.  He hasn’t asked to do it again, nor did I ask him to.


He moved on to trying the reading portion of the program.  It works on reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary.  Even though he was placed into the grade level he tested at it just seemed really easy still.  Even the 5th grade vocabulary and spelling was very easy to him.  I am not telling you this to brag that I have a smart child, but so that you know our experience with this program. The parent is able to input their own spelling lists.  I just can’t see spending the money to use it just for spelling words if everything else was too easy for him.

There is also a section for math drills.  It drills on all four operations.  This is great for drills.  However, the program wants fast results.  If you child is not a very good typer (can I make that a word?  great!) they will not have the speed to master the drills.  I worked with it entering at a speed that my kids would enter at and it wanted me to go back and practice typing my numbers!


sample screenshot showing addition drill report

Background Information about K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online reading and math program for kids from kindergarten through grade 5.   Our intent is to help kids build reading, math and study skills through independent study.  K5 is designed for use at home, after-school, on weekends and during the summer, and can also be used in conjunction with a homeschooling program.

Kids complete an online assessment of 8 key reading and math skills, and then work independently and at their own pace through over 3,000 lessons and activities.  The lessons are animated, interactive and simple enough that even a 4 year old can use them by himself.   The system automatically chooses lessons for students (based on their assessment and past lessons), tracks student progress and provides reports for parents.

K5 Learning includes 4 modules:  K5 Reading and K5 Math (curricula based lessons), K5 Math Facts (an adaptive program for developing instant recall in math facts) and K5 Spelling (an advanced spelling and vocabulary tutor).

In comparison to most other educational websites, K5 has the following attributes:
- clear emphasis on curricula based education, not games / entertainment
- online assessment for placement of kids at appropriate skill levels
- ability for kids to work independently and proceed through lessons at their own pace while minimizing time requirements for parents (simple interfaces, automatic lesson selection, tracking, reporting)

What I liked:

  • If you have a struggling student this is like a private tutor for them. I could also see using this if extenuating curcumstances are making it hard for you to teach for a period of time.
  • The assessments were very through.
  • Parent dashboard is easy to use and gives plenty of information as to how your child is doing.
  • The lessons are animated and fun to watch.
  • Their customer service was quick and very helpful.

What I didn’t like:

  • Very slow paced.  Andrew felt like he was wasting his time listening to explanations on math topics he already knew.
  • It just wasn’t for us.

To sum it up: While this program wasn’t a good fit for our family it may be for yours.  If you have a struggling student this program is almost like having a private tutor.  If you think this is something you might like to try out they have a free 14 day trial you can sign up for here. 


The important information:

Order from: K5 Learning


Monthly subscription

First child……………………..$25

Additional children…………..$15

Annual subscription

First child……………………..$199

Additional children…………..$129

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Reading Eggs: A TOS Review

Reading Eggs: A TOS Review
Reading Eggs: A TOS Review

Reading Eggs: A TOS Review


Sacha’s<25: Reading Eggs makes learning to read interesting and engaging for kids, with great online reading games and activities. We love it!!!!

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  10 stars
Did it help us learn? 10 stars
Is it worth the money?  9 stars
Is it useful to me?  10 stars
Practicality-  10 stars
Quality-  9 stars
Kid Rating-  10 stars

Reading Eggs is an amazing online based program to help your children ages 4-7 learn how to read.  Reading Eggs now has 100 big lessons.  We were able to receive a 2 month subscription for one child to review.  I chose to have Faith use it since she was eager and ready to learn more about reading.  She turned 5 in December and while I have been working with her on reading she still has a long way to go.  Before we started to the program she knew all of her letter sounds and maybe 10 “a” words like cat, sat, hat etc.

She was a bit reluctant to get started as I wanted her to take the placement test.  Since she already knew her letter sounds I knew that she wouldn’t start at the beginning of the program.  Reading Eggs offers a pretty quick assessment  (40 questions) to figure out what lesson your child should start at.  Below is a screen shot of one of the assessment questions.


Once she completed the placement she was able to get started right away.  In Reading Eggs World, children have their own house to decorate, a big new shop, and an avatar that can walk and travel to many new destinations on Reggie’s bus. Children are able to choose their own adventure from a wide range of activities and places to go. Each lesson has quite a few different activities that she needed to complete.  Once she completed them she would hatch a new “animal”.  She loved seeing what each animal would hatch to be and what they could do.


As Faith was doing the lessons she would earn eggs.  These eggs were then able to be used to buy game time, or decorations for her character’s house or new clothes etc for her character.  Faith loved it.  She would spend hours at a time playing.  (Now, I wouldn’t normally let her play hours at a time, but for review purposes it was nice to see how much she loved it and I was able to see more of what the whole program was like)  On a normal basis, I would think 30 minutes 3-5 times a week would be great.  Grace (just turned 3 this week) watched her big sister playing Reading Eggs and begged to have her own account.  Great news is that Reading Eggs offers a FREE 14 Day Trial!  

I have to say that I have been super impressed with this program.  As you know I have reviewed at least 4 different phonics/reading programs this year.  This is by far the best one!  She has learned so much! She is reading lots of words, spelling them and even placing them into sentences! Thanks to Reading Eggs what has been a frustrating experience for mom and daughter has become enjoyable!


Reading Eggs are still building more NEW lessons for our older Eggsplorers as part of Reading Eggs World. This world is perfect for 6-8 year olds who already know the basics of reading but who still have much to learn about reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. This exciting new world has lots of new lessons, a creative story writing factory, new games and will soon have many wonderful new books to read in Storylands. The learning focuses on building reading fluency and comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, and a range of writing skills including grammar and punctuation.

What I liked:

  • Quick, short, FUN lessons.
  • Faith actually loved the lessons so much that she rarely spent her “eggs” for games!
  • While your child is waiting for the program to load they have different activities to keep them busy while they are waiting.  Our internet is pretty quick so she didn’t have much time to do them, but I can see this being really handy if you had a slower internet connection.  For example, “catch the letter s”.  So letters would drop from the top of the screen and she would move the mouse around to try and catch the right letter in her basket.  There are tons of different activities just to keep your little one busy while they wait for the next activity to load!  Genius!!!!
  • If you also want…there are free activity sheets to go along with each lesson that you can print out and have your child do.

What I didn’t like:

  • Occasionally the program would freeze.  We found that if we just hit the back button in our browser it would reset and she could just start that portion of the lesson over.  No big deal, except a bit trying on a 5 year old’s patience.

To sum it up: If your child is just getting ready to read or is a struggling reader you should check this program out.  It is just the right combination of fun and learning and perfect for 4-7 year old attention spans!  Please do yourself and child a favor and try the FREE 14 Day TRIAL!  You won’t regret it.


The important information:




Sign up: Reading Eggs

Great for ages 4-8


1 month- $9.95 (please note that the longer you subscribe for up front the cheaper it gets!)

6 months- $49.95

12 months- $75

****They also offer a multi user discount for families….I believe it is 50% off for any users after the first one.

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review. Please realize I don’t even need to mention you should sign up for a free Trial…..BUT I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD!

What’s Been Going on at Our House?

What’s Been Going on at Our House?
What’s Been Going on at Our House?

I thought I would give you a little update as to what has been going on in my neck of the woods!

A Mini-Vacation:  Our family just got home from a 3 day trip to the Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells.  What a fun time!  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are missing out.  Us poor midwesterners with our forever long winters need a nice break from the cold and snow!  The Dells is an area that has plenty of hotels with many of them offering huge indoor waterparks to play in with your hotel stay.  The Kalahari has one of the largest indoor waterparks in the nation as well as a huge indoor theme park.  We were able to swim, do waterslides, and wave pools as well as climbing walls, a ropes course, mini golf, laser tag and plenty for the younger ones as well.  Just a great time of refreshing for our family.  Oh, and we had to eat at Moose Jaw while we were there.  I think it is a tradition for many families who head to the Dells.

Basketball and Cheerleading: Anyways, along with that we have 4 kids participating in Basketball and Cheerleading and they just had their first games this weekend!  So much fun to watch them run around and play ball.  Cheerleaders will start next week! Faith is finally old enough to cheer, can you say excited!  Yeah, that would be an understatement.  Lots of practice cheering going on in our house right now!

Birthday Party: Grace turns 3 this week!  For the first time we are doing a party out of our house and at a Bounce place. We also are combining the 2 younger girls parties into one.  Poor Faith’s bday is right before Christmas and we thought it might be more fun to celebrate with friends now.  (Can you imagine getting all of your presents in a 3 day period for the whole year?)

Teaching a kids quilting class: I am also teaching a beginners quilting class to seven 8-11 year olds during one of the periods in our homeschool co-op this year.  Hoping this goes well.  I am really not sure what to expect, but I know we will have fun along the way!  I will try to keep you posted of our progress this semester!

iPhone life organization!: So those are the exciting things our family is up to right now.  I also want to mention that I found 2 great apps this week to help organize my life!  I am all about having my iPhone keep me organized.  I will blog more about how I am specifically using them but in the mean time check them out!

Allowance and chore organizer- iAllowance







Home cleaning and to do routines- HomeRoutines


Beeyoutiful-Miracle Skin Salve: A TOS Review

Beeyoutiful-Miracle Skin Salve: A TOS Review

Beeyoutiful-Miracle Skin Salve: A TOS Review

Sacha’s<25:  Miracle Skin Salve promotes healing and restoration using a soothing blend of organic herbs and oils. Use for sunburn, chapped lips, diaper rash, burns, and more.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth the money? 7 stars
Is it useful to me?  7 stars
Practicality-  7 stars
Quality- 9 stars
Kid Rating-  4 stars

From their website:

This delicate, summer-leaf-colored cream, full of skin-soothing, natural ingredients looks as healthy as it is. Spread on a dab of Miracle Skin Salve to treat:

• Cuts and abrasions (cover with a bandage if necessary!) • Stubborn splinters (to help them work their way out) • Insect bites and stings • Inflamed and swollen injuries or bruises • Painful hemorrhoids • Diaper rash and tender bottoms • Dry, chapped skin • Minor burns • Yeast-related rashes like eczema and psoriasis • Cold sores • Post-staph infection and skin surgery sites (to reduce scarring apply daily for 2 to 3 months).

You’ll notice fast healing thanks to the miraculous blend of ingredients that moisturize and soothe while providing anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory aid to skin irritations and injuries. These reliable, natural ingredients give Miracle Skin Salve its power: Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, bee propolis, organic plantain leaf, organic comfrey root, organic calendula flowers, and essential oils of lavender and rosemary.

Coconut and extra virgin olive oil promote healing of rashes and abrasions. Coconut oil is especially effective for rashes caused by underlying yeast problems such as eczema. Olive oil draws in external moisture to the skin while allowing normal functions like sweating, shedding of dead skin, and the release of sebum. Its antioxidant properties also elevate skin health.

Beeswax delivers the delightful consistency of the salve—even in hot summer weather. It provides a light, protective barrier on your skin to help expedite healing.

Plantain has long been used as an astringent, demulcent, and hemostatic, effective for all sorts of insect bites and stings.

Organic comfrey root possesses amazing abilities to support healing of cuts and abrasions. And it’s a comforting astringent for treating inflammation and bruising.

Propolis can be used topically for skin problems ranging from ordinary abrasions to eczema, acne, skin cancers, bruises, and burns to gum infections and advanced herpes in the mouth.

Lavender essential oil is known for its emotionally calming properties, as well as the ability to hasten healing of burns and minor cuts.

Rosemary essential oil soothes sore muscles and acts as a strong anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and inflammation of abrasions.

Keep Miracle Skin Salve on hand—your skin and medicine cabinet will thank you.

Our Experience:

We received a 2 oz jar of miracle skin salve as a sample along with a tube of B.A.L.M. – Beeyoutiful All Natural Lip Moisturizer as a thank you.  We put the skin salve on cuts, dry skin, diaper rash, and even on a burn I had from the stove.  The salve is hard in the jar and it takes a little bit of rubbing on the top of it to get it on your finger to use it.  It went on very smooth and felt soft when applied.  It didn’t feel greasy.  It smells very herbal, and my kids didn’t really like the smell, which was ok as long as it wasn’t put on somewhere that they would smell it!

The BALM they gave me was orange scented.  I wasn’t sure that I would like it since I really don’t like orange scent.  I was pleasantly surprised. The scent wasn’t overpowering and it glided on.  Oh, and it even stayed on while I ate.  Very surprised!

What I liked:

  • The quality of the product.  I was glad to know I was using something all natural and actually knew what all the ingredients were that I was using on myself and my children.

What I didn’t like:

  • The smell.  My kids didn’t really want to use it because it smells “herbal” for lack of a better word.

To sum it up: Beeyoutiful offers much more than just skin salve and lip balm.  I would suggest you check them out to see everything they have and how they can help your family.  They want to help you have “healthy living for the real world.”


The important information:

Order online from: 


or Call: 1-800-556-0967

Price: 2 oz is $15 or 4 oz is $25.  They do offer a discount for quantities purchased.


To read other TOS Crew reviews of this and many other Beeyoutiful products click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.