Elementary French Online!

Artist has been having a blast and learning a ton with the Elementary French 1: Grades 3-5 course from Middlebury Interactive Languages that we received to review! 

What it is:

elementary french 1 grades 3-5 Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online courses in Spanish, French, Chinese and German for grades K-12.

Elementary French 1: Grades 3-5  is a great introduction to the language. Lessons include games, songs, and activities that engage Artist with the French language in a fun, stress free way! Far from merely memorizing words, this course provides interactive lessons that focus on teaching some basic vocabulary while also exposing her to the culture with authentic myths from various French-speaking cultures, songs, and stories. This immersion also helps her become familiar with the way the words sound and the way they flow when in a sentence and what sort of a feel the language has so that it becomes less and less foreign  feeling as she progresses through the course. Each lesson also offers opportunities for her to record herself speaking the words she’s working on and listen to her recordings which really seems to be helping her become more comfortable with saying the words, as well as getting better and better at pronouncing the words correctly.

How we use it:

My 4th grader loves learning Elementary French with Middlebury Interactive Languages | Review by Running With Spears #french Artist has been doing two to three lessons a day, and at that pace she’s completed almost half the course in about 6 weeks. If she followed the calendar that lists one lesson a day, five days a week, she would finish in just over 4 months, so if she’d started in mid-August it would have her finishing just in time for Christmas break. Some of the units she’s worked through so far have introduced her to French greetings, numbers, names of different family members, colors, and days of the week (and more). She’s finishing up the final lesson in the first half of the course now and then she’ll work through what looks to be a nice, thorough review! In the second half of the course, some of the units she’ll study will introduce her to French words for some common foods, weather, clothes and more. Then she’ll finish up the course with another good review.

What we think:

Artist says she gives Elementary French 1: Grades 3-5 from Middlebury Interactive Languages two thumbs up! She’s been learning a lot and retaining most of what she’s learning, which is saying a lot since she doesn’t have anyone to practice with.

greetingsArtist also says she hopes she can work through the next level of French from Middlebury Interactive Languages when she’s done with this course!

I love seeing her excited to learn French. She’d tried once before with a different program and quickly became completely  frustrated and discouraged. The first day she started this course, I told her she had  to sit down and work on it for ten minutes, even though she felt completely opposed to the idea…and then she fell in love with the program and she didn’t come up for air until about an hour and a half later! The course is really helping her get a good grasp on authentic pronunciations of the words she’s learning, which is awesome, because they’re sometimes incredibly challenging (at least they seem challenging to me).  I’m incredibly grateful for the fun, stress-free environment that Middlebury Interactive Languages has developed to help her begin her journey into learning another language with confidence and a positive experience. And after seeing her ready to give up on her dream of learning French before she began this course, the fact that she now feels like she really can  learn the language if she keeps working on it is pretty much the best thing ever.

All in all, this program is a great fit for us and I would totally recommend it to anyone wanting to help their kids begin learning a foreign language! 🙂

Be sure to hop over to the Homeschool Review Crew link-up to see what other reviewers are saying.



Homeschool Review Crew – My Experience

Hi guys! So if you’ve been here awhile, you know I’m a member of the 2016 Homeschool Review Crew. Since applications are now open for the 2017 crew, I though I’d take a minute and share what I’ve loved about being on the crew this year.

Really for me, first and foremost, it has been fantastic to have the opportunity to try TWENTY-FIVE different homeschool related products, online educational programs, etc. (and a few just for fun items, too). And actually I’m pretty sure a lot of crew members have done well more than that, but as you always get the opportunity to rate whether or not you really want to review a certain product, I kept my number of reviews at a pace that was manageable for me with four girls under ten! 

what-it-means-to-be-on-the-crewOut of all the products I tried this year, there were a few that weren’t the right fit for us, but oh my goodness you guys,  the ones that are  right for us have enriched our homeschooling experience SO much! For example, we LOVE ArtAchieve so much that after my girls finished the set of lessons we received for my review, I bought the next level! And Artist is having a great time learning French through a really wonderful online language program (Middlebury Interactive Languages) that I can’t wait to tell you all about next week!  I also never would have thought to do an in depth study of Astronomy with my girls right now, I just didn’t think it would really interest them, but we got to try  Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition from Apologia Educational Ministries and we loved it so much that it’s now our main science curriculum this semester! For one of my reviews, my girls were able to dive into an in-depth study of the rainforest through Rainforest Journey by EdTechLens that I never would have found on my own but was a highlight of Artist’s year!

How being a member of the Homeschool Review Crew has blessed my family | Running With Spears #homeschoolFor those items (and almost everything else I reviewed this year) I didn’t even know that they existed before I had the chance to try them out, so if I hadn’t been on the crew this past year our homechool experience would have been comparatively quite lackluster. Not to mention the fact that we never could have afforded to try so many things on our own dime.  😉

As we began our new school year this fall, I realized we’re using products I’ve received to review for almost everything we’re doing this year including our three “core” subjects this year – math, reading, and science. Being able to use really great quality online programs and curriculum for free is such a blessing!

Anyway, all that said, if any of you guys are interested in being a part of the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew, check out this post about the crew requirements, and if you meet them, fill out the application! And beginning Friday (October 21st) be sure to hop over to the Crew Round Up to see what being on the Crew means to some of my other crew-mates, too. 🙂


Freezer Meal Plan Review!

The MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy makes freezer cooking simple enough that we’ve finally managed to make it work for us, even with a baby and a toddler – plus homeschooling and all that jazz!

What it is:

10 meals -1 hour | Freezer meal plan from MyFreezEasy | Review by Running With Spears #freezermeals #freezercookingMyFreezEasy Freezer Cooking Meal Plans are downloadable meal plans complete with recipes, a ready-to-go shopping list, and freezer assembly instructions, (plus actual cooking instructions, of course). Following these instructions, we’ve been able to actually  prepare 10 meals in one hour!!! Most of these meals have very little additional work to do on the day I serve them!

With a basic meal plan you receive eight new meals each month with a choice of the traditional plan or a selection of a number of different types of plans – gluten free, slow cooker, all ground beef, etc. There are highlights videos for each of the meal plan types, and for the traditional monthly meal plan Erin makes a full walk-through video where she cooks the meals alongside you so it’s almost like cooking with a friend. 🙂

With my Premium Annual Membership I can not only access all  the different basic options,  I can also create my own meal plan  using any of the meals on MyFreezEasy.com!

How we use it:

So…I used to spend a ridiculous amount of  time several days a week figuring out what we’d eat for the next few days and then piecing together a poorly organized shopping list.  You want a coffee drinking pro, I’m your gal – but meal planning is just NOT one of my strengths. Now, I’m ridiculously blessed because my husband, Mike, likes to cook and is just all around an awesome guy, so he is frequently the one to prepare dinner, yay! But it’s still no fun for 30 minutes to an hour every evening to be taken up by getting food on the table for us all to enjoy our girls to take one look at and have a meltdown.  😉

Enter: MyFreezEasy. For our first week I decided to try the pre-made monthly gluten free plan, since gluten makes Mike sick. Doing this completely eliminated any time spent on my part selecting meals for us to eat and putting together a list, plus the list was really well organized. Mike, who also does the shopping, (yes, I know I’m spoiled) even commented about how it was the best put together list I’d ever given him, lol. After setting out all the ingredients, it really did take only about an hour to put together all 10 meals! What?!?! I was thrilled. Usually when something says an hour it seems to take us nearly twice that to actually  do it. And as I mentioned before, with most meals there was next to no prep at all required that day to serve the food that had been prepped. For a majority of the meals I literally just had to either pop it in the oven or the crock pot and put it on the table once it was done, along with a bagged salad or other simple side. Wham-bam thank you ma’am!

Spend just one hour once a week to prep your entire week of food! Plus ready-to-go shopping lists! | Freezer meal plan from MyFreezEasy | Review by Running With Spears #freezermeals #freezercooking

How we like it:

Mike and I are love  how easy to use MyFreezEasy is! I was pretty skeptical about the actual time it would take to prep 10 meals. Before Apple was born we were trying to stock our freezer with meals but it took us an entire afternoon to get like four in our freezer and then we gave up. I wish we’d had our membership to MyFreezEasy.com back then! That said, in our first set of meals there weren’t any that we super loved the taste of. The next weekend, I decided to create a custom meal plan for us to try. With the meals that sounded better to me to start with, plus some tweaks to take into account our personal preferences, we were much happier with the results! It only took me about half an hour, max, to look through the recipes and choose ones for our custom plan, and it still only took about an hour to get the meals ready to go in our freezer, yay! I also noticed that every single meal, not just the ones on the gluten free list, have instructions for how to make the meal gluten free. Actually, a ton of them just are  gluten free as long as you serve them with gluten free sides!

All in all, our MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership has been really great for us! Since we received our membership, every dinner has been one from the meal plan, and our evenings have been soo much easier without having to spend a big chunk of time making dinner! I’m literally giddy about not having to spend much time meal planning anymore! And with a freezer full of meals, we’ve not had to resort to picking up Taco Bell for dinner because I neglected to plan anything (or because by the end of the day we’re just all too exhausted to actually spend an hour in the kitchen making a meal). 😀

Be sure to check out what other reviewers are saying over at the Homeschool Review Crew link-up


Mom Hack Monday – Too Much Halloween Candy?!?!

Mom Hack - get rid of your kids' excess Halloween candy with a visit from the Great Pumpkin. :) | Running With Spears #momhack #halloween

It’s almost Halloween! We might  go to a carnival this year, and we’ll definitely go trick-or-treating because our neighborhood goes all out and my girls have an absolute blast! The only problem is they end up with a TON of candy! A few years ago someone gave me an idea for a Halloween Witch who gives you gifts in exchange for candy. I loved the idea, but we decided to use “The Great Pumpkin” instead of a witch.

On Halloween I let the girls kinda go crazy eating just about as much of their candy as they want, but then they choose a small selection from their stash to keep, and put the rest in their trick-or-treat bags by the front door when they go to bed. Overnight, The Great Pumpkin replaces their candy with some small non-candy treats like stickers, modeling clay, and fun socks. They get a fun surprise the next morning, and I get to not  have my kids begging me to let them lick a sucker for 2 minutes then leave it on the couch for me to sit on later every day for weeks!.  Oy! 😉

Mom Hack Monday

OK, so if you have a toddler who likes stickers, this is for you! I basically don’t even know how I survived before I figured this out.


Pardon my shouting. 😉

Mom Hack - Peel the background paper off sticker sheets so toddlers can get stickers off themselves! | Running With Spears #momhack #parenthack #toddlers


I used to spend so much time helping my toddler get sticker after sticker one at a time, while I was pretty much not able to do anything  else! I mean I was lucky to even sneak in a sip of coffee between stickers. Then one day I realized the paper that was in between all the stickers could be pulled off which would make all the stickers easy enough to pull off that my toddler could do it herself!

Easiest way I’ve found to do this is to remove one sticker near the edge of the sheet first, and then peel the backing off from the edge of where the sticker was. Be sure to watch for small stickers that sometimes try to come up too.

Tah-Dah! Now you can pass the sheet to your toddler and possibly manage to sip your coffee in peace for about 37.2 seconds before whatever crisis happens next. 😉

How about you? What sanity saving brilliant ideas have you had? Throw your best Mom (or Dad) hacks at me, and I’ll share them soon!

Be sure to check out the hacks I’ve shared so far. I’ll share more tips next Mom Hack Monday in 2 weeks – right now I’m alternating with my family fun night ideas. Sign up to subscribe to my posts via e-mail (there’s a spot on the right sidebar, or below the post if you’re on a mobile device) or follow me on Facebook if you want to be sure to not miss it. 🙂