Friday, May 23, 2014

Fly on the wall

This month has been oddly quiet, but there is a good chance our quiet is pretty different than yours...

Carter turned 1. That girl is fierce, and she waits for no one. I have parented 5 strong-willed children and none of them hold a candle to her. I told her the day that she was born that I would hold her hand while she takes over the world one breath at a time. She has held me to it.

She has quadrupled in weight. Quadrupled. She has also grown a foot in the past year. She is on the charts, finally, and she looks like a normal one year old- just a little runt. 
My birthday was on Mother's Day. I woke up to balloons with writing on them and notes inside thanking me. My girls set it all up, it was really sweet. Carter took 2 steps, she hasn't tried since. The real present was that the oldest girl, a permit driver, nearly totaled my car. Right out of our driveway. She rear ended the car in front of us so hard that she pushed that girl into the car in front of her. Some how our car wound up across the street in the neighbor's side yard heading for the utility pole. Fortunately she figured out the difference between the gas and brake. We live on the corner, so every person I have ever met drove past to witness us sitting there in my driveway with two other carfuls of people waiting on the officer to arrive. We looked like an episode of cops: horrible middle class driving edition. My cousin came over and fixed my un-drivable car, saving me about $600. The man was awesome in my book long before that, but that really reinforced his status.

Have you ever heard the saying you can't go wrong for a penny?

I will prove to you in the next 10 seconds it can..

My husband was tired of buying cheap handcuffs that broke before you got them inside. He had this idea to buy some real handcuffs off of eBay. I told him that I could think of a million ways it could go wrong. He answered, "you can't go wrong for a penny."

Add three dollars and seventy-seven cents of shipping and a few weeks, and the handcuffs came in. I watched the kids like a hawk keeping the key in my shoe until their flash wore off. I then threw them in the trash along with the key. Someone found the cuffs and took them out of the pail, neglecting to grab the key. That person left them sitting in the garage. Cam found them while we were packing the car to go to the middle boy's baseball game. On the way to the game a kid called out "mooooom". If you are a mom, you know that mom. When I said that mom, my brother was gonna get it. My stomach dropped. Turns out that he was going to have to walk through the ballpark dragging a handcuff from his ankle. If you were my Facebook friend you would have seen the pic and if you are really really nice and promise not to share it on you tube, I could send you the video.

One of the other coaches called a cop friend who called someone in the department we were in and they sent someone out. He couldn't pick the lock and told us to call the fire department. Fortunately, another officer close by had bolt cutters in his trunk and he cut them off.

The husband's birthday was just the other day. I don't think he appreciated my gift choices. A picture text and a phone call from a famous someone special.

That phone call may have been from The Bubble Guppies wishing him a Happy 12th Birthday, but it was from someone famous and special- to a 4 year old.
The picture text went like this:  I hope you weren't planning on wearing your shorts again. Cam ran out of toilet paper... Adding the picture sealed the deal of calling it a gift. He didn't appreciate that one either.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

K5 Learning Review

Sometimes you just can't say no...

I was recently approached by the K5 Learning team to do a review of their program which includes math, reading and spelling. I really haven't done a review of something that I wasn't sure that I would love it. Fortunately or unfortunately sugar coating isn't something I have had much practice with. The customer service gal was so nice and sweet so I went for it. 

My little Cam Ditty, 5, was attempting to teach himself to read. He isn't in Kindergarten yet and wanted to go to school, but with this new fangled garbage known as The Common Core (frankly it makes me want to type those words with my big toe because I don't want to touch it) Cam isn't going to public Kindergarten. Many of you do not know that I am a homeschooling mom too. My oldest homeschools at the High School level, she started in 8th grade and has been back and forth and she was a product of Everyday Math. You will know in about 5 minutes why that is important. 

That being said, I actually loved the K5 Learning Program! Here is why:

Unclutter your desk, unclutter your mind. We have used some other online tutors and the colors were bright and the pages were so cluttered that it made it hard to learn, with K5 that is a non-issue. The program picks the lesson, the colors are traditional and the page is clear. The child gets to focus on the work without being concerned about everything else they need or want to do, to me that is genius. In keepin the page this way, it encourages diligence on the child's part and when walking away from the screen the child isn't overwhelmed wondering what the heck just happened.

Math Drills. This is huge. Remember how I said my daughter was a product of Everyday Math? Everyday Math does not drill math facts. It works in a spiral so you hear about it and come back to it, but the kids never actually know it as quickly as necessary, or possibly at all. My 8th grader did not know her multiplication tables, yet she passed math with flying colors up until the 8th grade. Had I not homeschooled her, I would have had no clue how insufficient the program was. Math drills are a must, and K5 has a fantastic way to achieve that, read below.

Not everyone can get a trophy. This is the fundamental basis of my whole parenting philosophy. Children need to know that everyone should not be praised for a sub-par job. K5 lets the child know in an encouraging way that the answer is simply not correct. K5 doesn't give a high five for a wrong answer, it expects the right one and therefore the child must think about the problem and answer accordingly. On the math drills it shows how many were right AND how many you completed quickly enough. Encouraging, but not a high-five for less than what was expected.

Life isn't always fun and games. This is the second rung on the parenting ladder. Life can be fun but before that you better be ready for some hard work. K5 prides itself on being a program solely based on education. It is known that when you log on you will learn something or practice what you already have learned. This is another way K5 really gets it right! Teaching kids that learning isn't always a fancy video game should be pretty high on our parental list of musts, in doing so our children not only learn that getting a job done is the reward but to also to find joy in what you already have. Cam found it HILARIOUS that his "teacher" used voices in reading the story, he was giggling and it kept him wanting to come back- he found joy in what he had.

How well do you spell? Incorrect spelling, regardless of intelligence, makes a person appear uneducated. Spell Check doesn't work when you don't know that you need it, or if you don't click on it. My children's public school, which is in the top 1%, cut their spelling program. I knew several kids that had already graduated from the district that had severely poor spelling. My kids still can't spell. My husband has reviewed resumes from recent graduates who had terrible spelling. It is really sickening seeing young adults go into the workforce without the fundamental skills to communicate correctly and efficiently. Imagine a doctor who can't spell, where will that get you? One word, dead. K5 has a spelling program, just like when we were kids. It never occured to me that we could be the last generation of spellers. Spelling is necessary! If your kid can't spell, it will impede his or her learning which will affect their ability to get a job forcing them to live at home longer than socially acceptable.

Read me. After the reading lesson is a set of questions. When I first heard the questions for my pre-K/Kindergartener I was worried that they were a little complex for his age. It seems like K5 planned for this and showed the picture from the story with the question. You don't need ridiculous, fuzzy questions or explanations and lessons on context clues! K5 puts them there, on screen without explanation, for a child to use when they are ready. This really shows the high expectations from K5 with the research and keen understanding of children behind the program that makes independent learning achievable.

Do you copy me? Worksheets. K5 has a bunch of worksheets, they are organized neatly and easy to find. I didn't print any but looked through them and there seemed to be plenty for all grades.

Cash, Check or Charge. K5 has a 14 day free trial. And by free I mean FREE. No credit card required, it doesn't get any freer than that, folks. After the trial it is $25 per month for the first child, $15 each additional it is a pretty good deal! Now if we could talk them into a family rate and have some high school level courses I would stand on the side of the road with a sign as a human advertisement. Not really, but you get the point!

Overall, I believe that K5 is essential to build a foundation for your child's learning- especially if the child attends a public school. I have said over and over The Common Core is like putting a kid without balance and fear in roller skates on an escalator. Without the skills and knowledge to know better, someone is bound to get hurt. K5 gives kids the skills and knowledge necessary to combat Common Core, and quite possibly be a step ahead of their peers by having their math facts memorized.

Next fall when Cam is homeschooling for Kindergarten, there is a 99% chance that K5 Learning will be part of our educational plan. I am seriously contemplating it for my second and fifth grader too, and will probably use it as a supplement if I can convince the hubs to let me homeschool all of them!

Click to find out more (affiliate link) for your Free, for real trial.(affiliate link).

I did not get paid for this review, although I did receive a 6 week free trial, to review the site. The opinions are my own and not sugar coated. I do not normally do reviews and this is not a review blog, it is a humor blog. I do not find humor in uneducated or under-educated children, therefore the nature of this blog post is serious and I stand behind my opinions posted in the article as they are my own and what I consider to be the truth. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages I have an announcement to make.

Nope. Not preggers. Carter isn't walking and I am NOT running for president. Here is the scoop:

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. 

Now before you think I have turned to the dark side and started putting cash in front of my peeps, you are wrong. While I am getting to use this for free, I will be completely honest. Since we are being honest I get review offers fairly often and I always decline, but here is the catch: I need this. Cam ditty is about to cross the line and get himself signed up for the big K. I really want to homeschool him and keep his crazy antics and hilarious little spirit all to myself, BUT, there is one thing that is holding me back. The R word. It is, in my opinion, THE most important factor in education. Reading. And it gives hives, for real. I have been doing a free  homeschool Kindergarten program I found online with him since the beginning of the year but it doesn't seem to really be teaching THAT much.

Cam is trying to teach himself to read but I am afraid, because I am clueless as how to teach him. CLUELESS! I read and read all these blogs and books and everyone has a different approach, by the time I am done I am chugging Benadryl to clear my unsightly rash. 

I am truly excited about this.  I homeschool my oldest right now, Cam and possibly 4 ( he's the spitfire) next year. 2 and 3 maybe the year after that, if I can convince the husband that they are getting a quality education.  Don't worrry folks, I won't let you down. Give me about 6 weeks and you will know how it went.

Now I am off to help a 4th grader make a 3D Under Armour Valentine box. It includes working with sharp objects, tape, glue, paper, and paint. I can feel your jealousy...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hoping for Herpes

The moment when you know something is going to be bad so you hope for the lesser of two evils. That is where we are now. Herpes.

My daughter K, is 12. This poor girl has been through some stuff. Mono,constant strep and sinus infections. Delays. Sensory issues. She hates change. She hates people. Eczema. Food allergies/intolerance. Joint pain. But it all changed around 6. It was like her little body went to rehab and got it's crap together. Almost.

She has been getting these sores in her mouth. She is a preteen girl. Complaining is as natural as breathing. Without thought, and constant.  I love the kid, but wow. 

When her sores caused her enough grief that she stopped eating, I took her to the doctor. Lucky for us we got the NP, the very one who told me not just 3 months before that my son's episodes were normal (turns out seizures are normal because he has epilepsy). There have been a few other times that she blew something off and it actually turned out to be something.

Anyway, K went in and the lady said she had herpes. Granted they were all inside her mouth and nobody else had any, but whatever. We went on to explain she had had these sores for years straight. 

She didn't believe it.

She told K to make a journal and if she had a sore everyday for the next month then she would call infectious disease.

She did the diary. Multiple sores. Everyday.

I called the NP. She didn't even remember what she said. I refreshed her memory and she gave us the number for infectious disease.

Months later, we got an appointment. We see the ID doc, on our own dime because our insurance sucks.

Surprise.  Probably not herpes. She sends K for bloodwork. 

It's probably autoimmune. 

I am just sick over this. I hate it. I was reading this diary/log of my daughter's and she has pain everyday. Everyday.

I feel like a Grade A jerk. I was so used to her complaining, I never really heard her. I took her to a rheumatologist when she was young, she got diagnosed with something- which they do nothing for and I don't even remember the name they gave for it, it's in paperwork somewhere.

Hopefully whatever it is has not been wrecking havoc on the inside of her body for the past 8 years.  I heard so many ailments for so long that I just stopped listening, and I shouldn't have. This girl, my sweet little girl, has been walking around in pain and has had nobody to help her. I feel absolutely terrible for it, for her. I thought I had all the answers I needed to form an opinion of hypochondria. Maybe I didn't.

Beyond that, what makes me mad also is that if the NP would have looked in her chart for 30 seconds she would have seen that she had other issues. She would have seen that at 4 she had bloodwork that was off. She would have pointed us in the right direction months ago. 

We visited the rheumatologist. They swabbed her sore and sent her for probably another several grand worth of bloodwork. 

We were informed that another lab was slightly elevated, too. One that I don't want to talk about. It's an ugly word and an ugly disease and she doesn't have it. She just can't.

So we wait for results believing some intern in the lab had to have spilled the blood and was just winging it with the numbers. The technician may be dyslexic. Maybe foreign and reads from right to left. I'm hoping for herpes.....