Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: A Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year. I've always be in awe of those that journeyed across the US for a better life. I often think I would have liked living in those times, but I can't imagine the work load and stress that they endured.  In A Christmas Prayer Cynthia Cooper and her mother are attempting a cross-country journey with her new fiance, Walter Prentice.  Walter isn't exactly the ideal man that Cynthia would like, but she needs someone that will take care of her and her mother and she knows he will do that. She's marring for stability rather than love. Walter isn't really a hands-on type of man and that become apparent very quickly as the journey starts. They are traveling with two other wagons, one a widowed man with children and the other a brother and sister team.  Cole is the leader of the wagon train, but Cynthia sees that Jack is equally capable. She is hopeful that their knowledge will make up for Walter's lack.  

Traveling this way is not easy and Cynthia and her mom struggle to adjust.  They enjoy the company of the others at night and soon Cynthia and Virginia, Cole's sister,  take over the care of Jack's children during the day to try and help keep them occupied. The days are long, but just when they think they are getting close to the end winter weather starts to fall.  The men go back and forth about the best way to deal with the current situation. They still have some food left, but can't survive the winter out in the snow. Later the group is blessed by Cole running up on an abandoned cabin while hunting for food. This may be the answer to their prayers. It's small and it will be hard for them all to live in such tight places, but it will be protection from the winter weather and may just save their lives.  

As they wait out the winter and pray their food lasts until better traveling weather romance seems to be running through everyone's veins. Cynthia is engaged to Walter, but Walter feels that Cole is "too friendly" around her and that she spends too much time watching Jack's children.  Is Cynthia on the path to true love rather than the stability that Walter will offer?

A Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter and a great story.  There are 170 pages, but the author engages us so easily through the characters that it's a very quick read.  There are so many great choices from this author that you could keep busy for many months. She has written stand alone books as well as several series.  To keep up-to-date with what books are coming out check out her social media sites: FacebookPinterestYoutubeTwitter and Godtube

"I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."

Sunday, October 7, 2018

First six weeks of school is in the books!!

We have completed the first six weeks of school and I feel like we are doing pretty good. This might be our best start yet! It never seems to fail that we make a few changes and tweak what we are doing, but that's part of homeschooling. As the years have gone I've learned that I need to go with the flow more and not stress so much if something isn't working. Sometimes things just don't work with certain children and it's better to drop it than push through. Sometimes we should push through and that's been one of my biggest struggles is knowing when to stop and when to push through.  I guess by the time I graduate our youngest child I'll finally feel like I know what I'm doing (LOL) This year marks our 15th year homeschooling and I often still don't feel like I know what I'm doing. I've realized that being in charge of your child's education is stressful and not wanting to make mistakes can cause a mom to do crazy things (LOL)

This year our middle child is in the 11th grade. The plan was to start out with Abeka American History. My daughter enjoys the Abeka history books and has been using them for a few years now. I try to order used when I can, so that's what I did, but this year it was problematic :( I didn't pay much attention to what arrived in the mail until it was almost time to start. Then I realized the reader and answer key didn't match :( I don't mind a little older book, but I do mind when I don't have a usable answer key. That's one of my favorite tools for homeschooling is to have an answer key for everything! A friend used the same program and was able to loan me hers, so we now have the more current book AND answer key. Makes grading much easier. I debated about English and ultimately went with the American Lit from Bob Jones. When I was flipping through it I was pretty sure it wouldn't work out for us, but again I got it super cheap and so we tried it. About two weeks in my daughter came to me that she was struggling. We decided we'd drop that program and go back to picking books to read and doing comprehension questions and some writing. Her first book that I picked was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I had grabbed this one day at the library and thought it was something she'd like. I figure we'll have an interesting mix of books read by the end of the year.  We are always open for suggestions! :) For Science we are doing something new for us. We are using a free Anatomy & Physiology program from Guest Hollow.  She's really enjoying this and it's usually the first subject that she turns to each day. 

For our youngest we are also using a free program, American History Year 2, from Guest Hollow as well. I had heard about this site from another homeschooler, I wish I could remember who told me, and I had bookmarked it to check out. It's working great for us this year and both of them seem to really be enjoying them.  I recently wrote about how we are using this history this year.  Issac is continuing to use A+ Math that we were given last year to review. He used to be ahead in math, but once multiplication and division came into play he has struggled since.  We are just continuing to work through some of the basics to try and strengthen his foundation.  We are throwing some health this year.  I figured we could easily add things on for our science.  Just recently I was given the chance to review Science in the Industrial Age and I'm loving it after just one lesson! We jumped back into First Language Lessons 3 this year. Issac has trouble remembering basic parts of speech and we are more often than not reviewing and stopping other programs due to his memory. I decided that these programs had worked great when he was younger, so we'd go back to it. I'd rather have a good basic foundation for him than trying to push ahead on things that I don't think are necessary for him.  We have been reading some of the longer chapter books from our history as our English and I've been finding comprehension questions and vocabulary to use. We also just received Mosdos Press Literature-Pearl to use. I'm not sure why I went with this level because Issac is usually behind at least one level. I went through and skipped the longer stories and we started with the smaller stories. We are going to attempt to modify it to make it work for us :) 

Usually by this time I'm feeling SO behind. Issac has been doing so great for the last 2 or so weeks. Not arguing about doing his work. Getting up early and wanting to work before appointments and not complaining if we were late some days. It's really made this year much more enjoyable and I'm hoping it continues!

The kids are also continuing to do their drama classes as well as Issac is doing a space themed class and one where they are reading The Adventures of Rush Revere-The Revolutionary War. I highly recommend these books! This company is wanting to get these books into children's hands and get them to develop a love of history. They have been VERY generous with our co-op in helping supply books. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Review: A secret To Die For by Lisa Harris

In my mind there isn't much better than sitting down on a rainy afternoon or lazy weekend and reading a book.  A Secret to Die For is just the book for one of those afternoon! I will admit that a good romance is usually my first choice, but Lisa Harris writes great suspense novels that include romance and mystery.  

In A Secret to Die For Grade is adjusting her life to the death of her young daughter and the break up of her marriage due to the loss of their daughter. On the anniversary of her daughter's death she's woken up to the sounds of someone breaking in her home. Trying to decide if this is a fight or flight scenario she decides it's a flight and manages to barely escape before the intruder enters her room. She manages to hide until help arrives. Later that morning she has a reunion with an old friend of her husband's.  He's working a homicide case and they are lead to her for help.  Grace knew her client was worried, but she never really thought anything would happen to him.  As she tried to help the police she is drawn even more deeper into the case.  As they try to decipher the cryptic messages that Stephen left Grace and Detective Nate have their own personal demons to wrestle. She's struggling with thoughts of her daughter and her grief for not having done more for Stephen and Nate is struggling with PTSD from a recent bombing that killed his partner.  As Grace tries to help Nate with his PTSD he's rushing to solve the case of who killed Stephen and why before Grace is put into harms way again.  

I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read, but one that kept me interested the entire time.  I have read quite a few of her books and I've never been disappointed! To keep up with what she's currently working on follow her Blog, her Facebook page, her Twitter page or her Pinterest page.  

**I received a free copy of this book from Revell for my honest opinion.**

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Issac's 6th grade American History

Issac has really become interested in history in the last year and so I decided to try and make that more of a focus this year. I had heard about Guest Hollow from another mom and thought I'd check it out. Issac was really interested in the American History, so that was what I focused on finding.  Since we studied a little bit of American History last year I decided to go with the American History Year 2 that is a free option. I knew going into this program that links could not work and I'd need to request lots of books from the library, but I thought it was worth a shot! :)

One thing I decided to do was use file folders for each week. I printed out the lesson plan for the week and then anything else I needed to print I could have ready in the folder. The first few weeks are focused on the Civil War and suggest you either use Time Travelers: The Civil War by Home School in the Woods. We had been blessed with receiving this item free for reviewing it earlier this year. It was also recommended to use History Pockets-The Civil War. The author recommends one or the other, both are typically too many activities. I know that some of the activities in the Time Travelers unit were hard for my son, so I purchased the history pockets to supplement. I just picked a few things from both to use during those first few weeks. I'm noticed that as much as I'm wanting to do more hand-on activities Issac is just happy to have me read to him. He'd be happy to just sit and listen to me read everything in the history lesson and him not do any activities. That wasn't my plan at all, but some days that's what we do. I was hoping that I could get him more engaged in his learning with some fun activities.

While I was filing my papers in the folders I was also searching and requesting library books and marking which ones were available locally. I would say 90% of the books were easily available to us via library lending.  As I received the books from the library I'd use a little post it note and mark which week they were to be used. I then purchased a plastic tub that could hold a few weeks of all my books. I put my file folder with schedule and printed items in there, the books for the week and any additional books that might be used for multiple weeks. This way everything I need for history is in that box. I also decided a few weeks in that the book that is read for several weeks would become our reading book and we'd work on comprehension. We are about to finish Farmer Boy and we used the vocabulary and comprehension questions from homeschool share.  Our next book will be Sounder and we are using vocabulary and comprehension questions from Glencoe.

I've made a few little tweaks which is basically picking and choosing which items we are going to do. I also find that I still sometimes print more than we do, but I like having it already printed and ready to go. It helps Issac stay on test for me to not have to stop and print. We are provided with lots of different activities and even when the links don't work I can usually search and find what I need. They have lots of different free and paid options for multiple subjects. I'm thankful that I looked into Guest Hollow because they really have tons of great options.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson is an author that I have enjoyed reading her books for a while now. Fall and winter are some of my favorite times of the year and I especially enjoy reading any books about Christmas.  A Christmas by the Sea was a very easy read that captured my attention and interest from the very beginning.  Wendy Harper's husband has passed away and with that loss came debts that she's struggling to pay. She inherits a cottage at the beach that she loved as a child, but as an adult she sees it as the answer to her prayers. She can hopefully sell it, pay off the debts and put aside a little for her son, Jackson's, education. Jackson sees this as a different opportunity. He wants to put aside the sadness of losing his dad and give him and his mom a fresh start in a place that brought her such happiness as a child. As much as Wendy is focused on selling the cottage Jackson is focused on finding a way for them to keep it and stay there.  

This was such a great read and a sweet story. Jackson worries about his mom so much now that his dad has passed. He knows she's stressed, but she always seems so happy when she talks about her times at the beach cottage when she was a child.  He just wants to do whatever he can to help her get back to those happy times.  He knows she worries about money, but when she can just sit down and relax she seems peaceful. As she tells Jackson about the sand dollars that her grandparents collected they decided to go on a hunt for themselves. Wendy is shocked at the number they find and realizes this might help answer her money issues. As she works with the sand dollars making beautiful art she starts to find some peace and possibly a new future for her and her son.  

**I received this book free from Revell for my honest review." 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Thankful Tuesday 9/18/2018

As I took our dog outside this morning the world seemed so calm and peaceful. As I stepped over all the leaves on the ground it was a reminder that just a few short days ago it didn't feel this way. The sky was stormy, the rain constant and we had no power. Our situation is minor compared to that of so many closer to the coast.  My heart aches for all the damage they have received.  Even just 15 minutes away from me the roads are closed and it's totally flooded. I'm thankful for so many that have come here to help those in need. All those out risking their lives more often than not for people that didn't heed the warnings to stay home. None of us want to sit in the dark, but we have to remember that it's our husbands, brothers and sons that are having to go out in those storms to get our power back on! I'm thankful when a community can reach out and help each other and I only wish that it would happen more often than when there is a disaster.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M.Coty

I know most moms like to say they are too blessed to be stressed, but do we really act that way?? I know I like to say that, but then I turn around and stress about so many things. Most of the things I'm stressing about I have no control over anyway! Debora Coty has given us an amazing tool to help work on the stress in our lives and truly act as we speak.  Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms has a gorgeous cover that just grabs your attention to start.  The flowers seem to jump right off the cover and there is a handy, pink ribbon to keep your place while reading.  The book starts off with a "stress test" for moms.  There are 10 true/false questions to help place you in the yellow alert, orange or red areas for stress.  I fell into the orange alert level.  "Look out-you're at toxic stress levels".  I felt that pretty much summed up my daily life :) 

There are four sections in the book: 

1) Why Didn't Anybody Warn Me?
2) So Where's the Ding-Dang Motherhood Manual?
3) Coloring My Word with the Crayons Papa God Gives Me
4) Mothering is a Lifetime Gig

In each of these sections there are short, but sweet, lessons to help lower the amount of stress in our lives.  Chapter 2 I'm Not Crazy-I'm Crazy-Busy is how I might describe my life! We are given the verse I will strengthen you, surely I will help you from Isaiah 41:10 One thing that stood out to be in this chapter is that the word "should" is a dangerous word. Deborah tells us that it's a stress-filled pressure-packed slave driver. We compare ourselves to others and what they are doing. We then feel we "should" be doing certain things. This often is a use cause of stress in our lives.  In Chapter 12 Chocolate Caulks Relationship Cracks we learn about Forgiveness.  Romans 12:19 says Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do.  "I'll do the judging," says God.  "I'll take care of it." We often feel the need to get revenge on those that do us wrong.  Sometimes it's a struggle with a neighbor or a friend.  We need to learn to be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving.  At the end of each chapter there is a navigating the hood section. There are a few questions that really help to dig deep and study our hearts.  

Motherhood is a challenge no matter what age your children are at the time.  When they are younger we are dealing with taking care of their every needs. As they grow older they don't need us as much and often push us away when they do need us. As they grow and leave our homes we have to learn to parent in an entirely different. Once they leave the home and start families of their own they still need us, but in different ways. We are parents for life, but it doesn't mean it's easy. It's easy to get stressed and not rely on our heavenly father to help us through the tough times.  We need to pray and remain faithful that he's got this and will be by our side always.  

"I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."

Review: A Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year. I've always be in awe of those that journeyed across the US for a better life. I oft...