Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts entering the New Year...

What a crazy month or so!  Just as I was beginning to feel like myself again and Christmas Day came, our family got hit hard with a nasty stomach virus.  If it wasn't happening to me, I don't think I could believe it! First my daughter, then my hubby, then myself got it, with me taking it the worst.  I think my already weakened immune system couldn't fight it quite as well, even though my hubby had it pretty bad himself.  Thankfully he was feeling better by the time I was feeling terrible.  And it was terrible.  Today is the first day that I've seen a glimpse of my old self!  Praise the Lord!  The boys are starting to get it, too, but it doesn't seem to be as intense. I'm so thankful that they are able to fight it off a little better.

Today was also the day that I had my one year check up with my endocrinologist concerning my thyroid cancer.  Although we have to wait for some of the blood work to come back, he believes that everything is going really well and we will hopefully get my medicine better regulated.  I'm thankful for that!  It's been a roller coaster trying to figure out what dosage will work for me.  I've gone from insomnia and almost blacking out to feeling sluggish.  I'm so ready to feel "normal" again.

And as the New Year is right around the corner, I'm also thinking of all of those resolutions I want to make.  Every year I say I want to lose weight.  There have been years that I've succeeded in that goal.  I'd like for 2014 to be one of them.  It'll require a lot of discipline on my part...cause let's face body is definitely not what it used to be!  I'm going to be fighting a lot more issues this time around.  I'm also still recovering some from my surgery and sicknesses, so it may take a while to be 100%.  And I also have to face the fact that I have to exercise.  It's one of those "duh" things, but I think somewhere in the back of my mind I think that I can lose weight if I just eat right.  Not going to happen, I don't think.  I've got to do more physical activity.  I also want to get my kids more physically active.  Lots to do on that front.  But it's what we need to do to be healthy.

I have so many other things I want to do on the homefront, too.  I want to declutter and organize our home better.  That job alone will probably take me all year!  lol  Pinterest has a lot of great ideas so I want to try and look at some of those, but basic decluttering will commence very soon!  Getting rid of old toys, appliances I don't use, etc.  I'm actually kind of excited about this.  I hope that excitement lasts....

Personally, I want to make it a priority to study God's Word more.  Strength from the Lord is what is going to get me through and give me the ability to accomplish all these other goals I have.  Because I know me...and I know I'm going to burn out at some point.  I'm going to be tired and won't want to wake up before the kids do and exercise.  I won't feel like going through another closet or toy box.  I've got to have God's Word hidden in my heart and mind to help me press on.

I also want to minister to others.  I want to pray for people in my neighborhood and community more.  I want to love others the way Christ loved...and not be afraid of what people will think when I do it.  Be bold. Be authentic. Nothing rehearsed, just Christ coming through.

And homeschooling.  Lots of goals there.  I just really want to have fun with my kids, though.  That's always been my philosophy when I taught in schools and it's how I feel while I've been teaching my own kids: you can learn and have fun doing it.  My children are such a joy to me and I want to invest all I can into them while I have the chance. And make lots of fun memories.  Because I can already tell..the time is going by fast.  I can't believe my little girl is 6 already and she's saying funny, growny-sounding things.  Just the other day she used air quotes while she told me something...totally cracked me up!  I'm thinking...where did she learn that?!  Today in the car she told me that she told her friend something and her friend "gasped".  She says funny things like that all of the time...and she's so fun to just hang out with.  Love my girl.  My boys are getting so big, too, and one of their favorite things is Daddy wrestling time.  I love seeing my guys roll around and play with each other.

So...2014...I have the feeling that it'll have challenges of its own.  2012 had some wonderful, miraculous things and some very hard things.  2013 has been good, but these past couple of months have produced some physical challenges.  God has had his hand on us and will continue.  With all of these goals I have I know first and foremost I've just got to give it up to Him...He's got this!

God bless~

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Slowly getting back in the groove (some week 12 resources, a review video, and Kindle books!)

After my last post, I think the next day or so I ended up in the hospital again for a few days.  Not expected, but I went into the doctor with some unexplained pain and dehydration, so back to the third floor of the Med Center I went.  I was pretty overwhelmed with it all, but thankfully I'm back home and have been doing pretty well for a little over a week now.  I'm still sore, get tired easily and there are days when I just don't feel that great.  But after a check up last week the doctor felt that I was doing better and should be right on track by the 6 week post-surgery mark.  I never would've imagined all of this happening, but like I said before, God is in control.

In the time that I've been home, I've been able to get some Christmas gifts online and make a few things.  I'm really excited about the story stones that I was able to paint for the kiddos one night.  They actually discovered them that morning before I had a chance to put them away, but I'm hoping the "out of sight, out of mind" principle will take effect! : )

One thing I got for the kids that I found on Amazon with the whole "Liberty Kids" series.  I am really excited because the kids seem to like them and they have some good history lessons.  I also found them for about $ I'm very excited about the price! : )  I also saw a few The Magic School Bus dvds for $5...I thought that was a great deal. I just wish that whole series would go on sale for $ kiddos LOVE The Magic School Bus!

This week, after quite a hiatus, I am trying to finish up our school time before Christmas.  We never did get to do week 12, so I'm going back and trying to do it.  The kids have been so great.  I've been really impressed with their attitudes and attentiveness.  Here are a few things I've done so far this week...not nearly the amount of resources I usually put up but I thought they were helpful.

History (week 12)
Napoleon Bonaparte coloring page I liked this Napolean coloring sheet.  Interesting facts!

We watched this video about Napoleon...I thought it was pretty good.

I thought this was also a good video:

History review: 
I'm not sure if I've posted this video before, but I let the kids watch it today for a history sentence review.  I thought it was great!
I couldn't embed it, but you can find it here.

I still printed out our Geography Cards from the blog "And Here We Go!"  She has also put together cards for the next half of the year!  Yay!
She has also done some songs to go with them.  We love those, too.

*Here's an interesting page about the Mercury space mission and astronauts...with pictures.
*Space shuttle launch:

*A graphic showing every manned American space mission
*Another graphic about John Glenn's space missions

I'd love to post more, but I think I'm about at my limit : ).  I hope this is helpful and that all of you have a wonderful Christmas! the way...there are some GREAT deals on some wonderful Christian fiction right now for Kindle/Nook.  All for a limited time, so grab them while you can!

Some freebies:
To Love Anew and The Heart of Thornton Creek...Bonnie Leon
Daughter of Twin Oaks....Lauraine Snelling
A Daughter's Inheritance and Shadows of the Canyon...Tracie Peterson
The Lawman Claims His Bride....Renee Ryan
Somewhere to Belong....Judith Miller
An Unexpected Widow...Carre White
Angels Watching Over Me...Michael Phillips
Candle in the Darkness...Lynn Austin
Paradise Valley...Dale Cramer
The Meeting Place...Jeanette Oke
Understanding the Times...Ken Hamm (nonfiction...great resource for Biblical view of creation)

Books for a steal!  $1.99
Author Sarah Ladd is great about posting deals for Kindle and Nook on her facebook page.  I've gotten several of these wonderful books at a GREAT price!  Most of these only go on sale for short time.
*Right now ALL of Melanie Dickerson's books are on sale...including her most recent release, A Captive Maiden (a Cinderella retelling)....her books are SO GOOD!!
*The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
*The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah Ladd
*The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden
*Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck (SO excited to see this one on sale!!  Yippee!)
*Monday's Child and Tuesday's Child by Linda Chaikin (I really enjoyed this whole series)

Those are just a few I've seen lately!  Hope you all have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Until further notice....

Hey friends...
Just wanted to give a brief update and say...until further notice I probably won't be blogging too much due to an illness. I'm hoping that means only another week or two of recuperating and I'll start feeling somewhat back to normal.  Just to give you a little background...

I had surgery on November 18th.  This was planned, not due to an emergency or anything, so I went into it knowing I would have to recuperate for a few weeks and hoped by Christmas...really before that...I would feel back to normal.  The week after surgery was kind of a blur.  I was taking pain meds, and benedryl to counteract my reactions to those pain meds, and eventually kind of started feeling better.  A week and a day post surgery I went for a follow up at my doctor's office and while I was there I suddenly started feeling terrible.  I was lethargic, flushed, and even my doctor was a little stumped as to what was going on.  I hung out at his office for a while, they brought me drinks and something to snack on, and eventually I felt well enough to leave.  But he wanted me to stay in town (my doctor is an hour away from us) and come back the next day.  I did (thankfully my parents live in town) and that night I started running a low grade fever.  The next day I went back, felt worse, but my fever stayed low grade.  My doctor, and us, thought because everything else seemed ok and my fever wasn't going too high that I had probably gotten the fever/virus that my son had the weekend before.  Made sense.  But I felt terrible.  We ended up just staying another night at my parents because the next day was Thanksgiving and we were planning to come to town anyway.  I continued to run a low grade fever off an on, but had times where I felt a little better.  Thanksgiving Day I felt well enough to eat a good lunch and actually thought I was starting to get over it.  By that afternoon, I was assaulted with a round of terrible chills that lasted a couple of hours and my fever, for the first time, rose to 102.

The doctor recommended that we go to the ER.  After some blood work, a chest x-ray, and a CT scan, it was determined that I had a post-surgical infection.  My white blood cell count was very high and I didn't feel well at all.  I was admitted and ended up staying in the hospital for 3 nights, pumped with antibiotics and fluids.  They've gotten me well enough to go home, but I'm still not close to 100 %. I'm on a couple of antibiotics here at home and thankfully friends and family are helping us take care of the kids while my husband goes back to work and I am recuperating.  I never would've expected this to happen, but I can see several ways that God's hand was in the situation.  I also had some great conversations with some of my nurses and saw just how much I like the group of doctors that I go to.  I'm very thankful for them and how much they checked on me.

So....I need to recuperate.  I can't express how hard it's been not to try and do several things I wanted to do this time of year.  Our Christmas tree isn't even up yet : (.  I hope that'll happen soon!  I wanted to do something for advent, but I don't know if it's going to happen.  No black Friday shopping or even Cyber Monday shopping.  I'm learning that I have to let go of some things in order to help myself get better.  That's hard.  I don't know if it's a mom thing, a woman thing, or just a me thing to give up the control.  Even in the struggles, God teaches us!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and please keep me and my family in your prayers. During this time my grandfather has also been struggling with some serious health issues and this may be our last Christmas with him.  We don't know that for sure, but it's a definite possibility.  My Dad is also having knee replacement surgery on Wednesday of this week, so we need your prayers in that.  It can all seem very overwhelming.  I've found, however, that when life seems overwhelming, I cling to Christ all the more.  I am desperate for Him.  He has never failed.  Thank you for your prayers and God bless!

Friday, November 22, 2013

DIY for Christmas...

This past Monday I had a pretty major surgery and had to spend the night in the hospital.  After coming home, I have been pretty out of it!  Needless to say, we haven't been having school this week.  I have intentions of trying to pick it back up after Thanksgiving, so hopefully I'll be able to tackle week 12 then.  Mainly I want to focus on getting back to feeling good.  My kiddos have also been sick this week unexpectedly...Sophie having a 24 hour virus/throwing up thing and Seth having a virus/high fever thing...both of which I've been trying to avoid getting.  It wouldn't be good for my recovery. Normally I'm right in the middle of any sicknesses going on.  Thankfully the hubby had already made plans to be with us during this time and I'm so thankful!  I'm also very thankful for my friends, family, and church family who have ministered to us tremendously!!  They have encouraged us so much through prayers, food, and help.  What a blessing!

So I hate to skip right over Thanksgiving celebrations....but I'm curious about what different families do in terms of Christmas gifts?  Do you get up in the early hours after Thanksgiving and go Black Friday shopping?  Cyber Monday shopping?  Make homemade gifts?  

Until a few years ago, I NEVER did Black Friday shopping.  Honestly, we don't do a lot of gifts for Christmas.  I try to think of a few things that my kiddos will really enjoy and find those at the lowest price possible.  I'm not ashamed to say that I buy stuff second hand and if someone is getting rid of something that I know mine would love for Christmas, I'm all about it!  But, I also get a little excited when I see all the deals on Black Friday.  It's hard not to want to go crazy and get things at such a great price.  It takes a lot of self-control!  This year, though, I've found some really cute homemade projects that I'd like to do for the kiddos.  I have high hopes....but we'll see.  Maybe I'll be able to get it done!  Here's what I'm thinking...

DIY washer necklaces | Small for Big           washer bracelet 
I think these are really cute!

  What is Your Style? <-- blog="" div="" diy="" girls="">

This would be so adorable!  Include a book with little dollpin models to go with it!  Great for a gift, too! (couldn't find the link)

craft stick braceletsTrendy Simple Stick Bracelet- These awesome diy bracelets are made from popsicle sticks!!! Oh my goodness these are gorgeous and CHEAP!              

I LOVE this fabric charm necklace
....and this bird's egg nest necklace   
Bird's Nest Necklace Tutorial
This is just so pretty....IMG_0237

For grownup gifts....
Cloth napkin love..
ms_sewing_book_embroid_coaster_det.jpg    Queen Ann Flower Cocktail Napkins - Off White Linen with  Flowers -  Set of 8 Linen Napkins - Embroidered cloth napkins

I've got to stop myself, because there's just too many things out there! find the time to do all of these projects!  : )  I did find a bag of stones...the rock kind and some glass ones...for $1/bag at the Dollar Tree.  SO....I'm already getting started! : )  Stocking stuffers!

I'd love to hear your ideas.  Mission: Don't Spend Too Much for Christmas is ON! : )

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Wanted: A Kindred Spirit" article

Hey friends!
Today I am featured on a beautiful blog called Dearly Beloved.  This blog was created to help encourage young women in their walk with the Lord, but I have found that even as an "older" woman I am challenged by it.  The women who are writing it have done a great job in covering a variety of topics, including evangelism and discipleship.  

Dearly Beloved

My article is entitled, "Wanted: A Kindred Spirit". I have struggled over the years off and on with having those deep connections with a sister in Christ that I've had in the past.  I felt the Lord leading me to share what He has shown me about seeking out a kindred spirit.  Stop by and check it out! 

God bless!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Letter K, the French Revolution, solar bodies, and Eastern Europe (cycle 2, week 11)

The hubs and I are going out of town part of this week, so I wanted to go ahead and put out some resources for this week.  It won't be as many as I usually do, but I think it'll cover a good bit of the French Revolution in particular.

Science: solar bodies
I haven't tried it, but I think if I just Google some of these solar bodies (asteroids, meteors, etc), I can see images of them pretty quickly.  Sounds good to me!

Sola Gratia Mom posted a great idea to illustrate the different solar bodies.  If we have time I would like to do this...or we might just do a much smaller scale version with black construction paper.  I think that would probably be more doable! : )  She also includes a costume idea for the French Revolution and a fun snack idea.

I would still love to go to the planetarium in the biggest town nearest us (about an hour away) if we're able to.  I'm sure it would give the kids a great experience looking at some of the things we've been studying.

History: the French Revolution
These Horrible History videos are kind of cheesy, but I think they tell the story of the French Revolution really well!  It honestly helped me understand it better.  Just beware of some little cartoon angel statues that are naked...for just a few seconds.  I know, I'm kind of overly sensitive about that kind of stuff...but I like to let you know!

 Social Studies for Kids has some more in-depth French Revolution info.
Here is another site that gives some good info as well.

Geography: Eastern Europe
Look here to see all of Melody Stroud's (And Here We Go! blog) songs that she's done for some of the geography work.  My kiddos love these!

You can also check out her blog to print out the Geography Cards for the first 12 weeks.  We like these, too!

Letter K
Here are some letter K words that might inspire some ideas:

We're going to read the book, "King Bidgood's in the Bathtub" by Don and Audrey Wood.

I saw a cute idea on Pinterest to do a kicking jug...
k for kick jug activity for learning letters and words

Cute, right?  But instead of using a jug, I'm using a two liter Coke bottle.  I drew all kinds of "k" things and letter k's on it, and tomorrow we're going to have fun kicking it!  The goal is to say the k sound or some of the k words when you kick it.

I also printed an itsy bitsy book for letter K.

Even though I didn't see a letter K printable on this blog, she had so many other cute printables for other letters that I hope to use...several of which were free.

That's about all for now!  Hope you all have a great week and God bless!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

**winner announced!**"Coming Home for Christmas" dvd review and giveaway...AND a Nativity Story app review

**'re the winner! Please message me your mailing info to receive your dvd! Thanks to everyone for the comments!**
I LOVE this time of year!  Christmas movies are playing on tv, Christmas trees are going up...and it's not even Christmas yet!  I had the special opportunity to receive a Christmas dvd to watch, review, and one to give away!  Watching it has definitely put me in a Christmas frame of mind!

Here is the trailer:

My impression of Coming Home for Christmas?  If you like Hallmark movies, you'll enjoy this story! (and I do!) As the trailer shows, Coming Home for Christmas is about two estranged sisters who haven't been on speaking terms. They reunite in hopes that having a family Christmas all together for the first time in years will bring their Mom and Dad close again.  They plan to do this in their old family home...the only problem is someone else lives there now.  Fortunately, Kate, one of the sisters, has gotten to know the current resident and he has agreed to be a part of their Christmas homecoming.

The scenery in this movie, from the towering mountains to a huge waterfall, was breathtaking.  I also loved the actors' singing.  It really drew me in and felt like a natural part of the story.  I did think that there were a few cheesy parts, dialogue-wise, but I could look past it as the overall story was sweet and entertaining.  This is not a spiritual movie, as there is little mention, if any, of God or spiritual things.  One of the characters mentions praying about something, but I don't consider that being very spiritual.  There is no cursing or sexual content, unless you count an innocent kiss.

If you'd like to have your name put into the drawing for a FREE COPY of this dvd, just comment on this blog.  Tell me your favorite Christmas movie!  I'd love to hear about it : ).

If you don't win the giveaway, but would like a copy of this movie, it will be available at Walmart, along with the soundtrack featuring holiday songs performed by George Canyon.

I also wanted to tell you about an app I received to review.  It's called "The Nativity Story" and it tells the story of Jesus' birth.  If you buy it for your Iphone it's only $1.99, $3.99 for the Ipad.  It's an interactive app in which kids 2-10 years old can either have the story read to them or read it themselves.


There are also opportunities to push a text bubble button and hear individual characters speak.  There are other interactive features as well.  My daughter really enjoyed the app.  I thought the graphics were beautiful and that the overall message of Christ's birth was being conveyed in a way that kids could understand.  My only criticisms of the app were with a few of the character lines.  At one time Joseph said at the beginning, "Mary, I love you so much.  I think I'm going to go make something for you!"...or something to that effect.  I thought, "Really?  I'm not sure Joseph would say that."  There was also a minor female character in the story but when she spoke, her voice sounded like a man's voice.  When I asked my daughter what she thought of the app, that's the first thing she pointed out. I think that if other female characters can have female voices, then that one could have, too.  I would recommend this app if you're looking for a good way to show the message of Christ's birth that your children can look at over and over again!

Don't forget to comment to have a chance to win a copy of "Coming Home for Christmas"! We'll draw a winner next you'll have a week to comment...even if I post other things in the meantime.

Happy holidays and God bless!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some helpful Cycle 2 resources...and a few other things, too : )

I was looking through some of my favorite blogs the other day as I was prepping for this week, and I stopped by Suzanne Shares' homeschool stuff.  I'm glad I did....because there is some neat stuff on there!  I wanted to pass on her ideas.  I'm going to link to her blog, but I just wanted to share some of the neat stuff she mentioned:

*First of all, she added some more free printables...these are for demonstrative and interrogative pronouns.  I really love her printables.

*My kids LOVE The Magic Schoolbus.  Apparently, if you're on CC Connected (I'm not, but some of my friends are), you can look up the Magic Schoolbus video match-ups to what we're studying in Cycle 2.  We've been watching several, but it might be worth getting the free trial of Amazon Prime when we start back in January so we can see some of these!

*I didn't realize this, but there is a CC Cycle 2 app!  It's $15, which is a little much for me (I know, I'm cheap), but I might consider it if it has a good bit of stuff on there.  Sounds like it does!  The only issue...we don't have an Ipad, so I would have to put it on my Iphone.  Might be an issue...I'm not sure if it'll take up too much memory on my phone or not.

*I thought having a sleeping bag for your tin whistle was a cute idea!  I think we need to do this!

*This is not a CC idea...but I thought it was great, and you could do it with your CC group.  We did Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree last year...I thought it was great.  Suzanne had the idea of doing a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap.  It would be a great way to celebrate the holidays and connect with friends.

*I was reading And Here We Go! blog, and she mentioned getting the Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego? complete series...which is only $5.99 right now!  That's 40 episodes!  This would be a great Christmas gift for the kiddos.  I'm seriously considering the free month of Amazon Prime for the holidays...that would mean free shipping!

And there's more to come!  I will be reviewing and giving away a free copy of the movie, "Coming Home for Christmas" before the end of this week.  Stay tuned for the review and giveaway!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Letter J, Russian history, southwest Asia, and the phases of the moon (cycle 2, week 10)

I don't know about all of you, but this time change is not my favorite! least we'll have lots of opportunities to observe the moon phases : ).  There is an abundance of things for our science work this week and I also found some cute letter J activities for my big boy.  So I'm just going to dive in!

Letter J
When I started looking for some letter J activities, I found there were more than I realized.  With the holidays coming soon, I thought this was very cute:
J is for Jesus...LOVE these printables, although the site it directs you to wasn't AS easy as some others I've used, eventually I got the J is for Jesus tracing/coloring sheet printed for today.  We also read a story (Golden book) called "The Story of Jesus" that I thought was ok.  Not spectacular.  I think reading something out of the Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Storybook Bible would've been better.
Letter J activities with a focus on J is for jellyfish, with free printables
Here is our jellyfish craft that we did...I love how it turned out!
 I cut a piece of light blue cardstock in half for each child, along with small strips of tissue paper (it paid off to save all that tissue paper from birthday parties! : )). I used mini muffin cups because that's what I had, but you could use the regular size, too.  We folded the muffin cups in half, drew eyes on them with a black crayon (the activity I saw used the plastic googly eyes...I didn't have any), and taped the muffin cups to the paper.  Then we put four dots of glue on the inside and let the kids put their strips on each dot of glue.  Perfect for preschool age.  That's it!  I just wrote the Jj is for jellyfish on the paper with a pen.  The kids loved them!

More letter J stuff...I love the Jack and Beanstalk idea...among others.  There are some good links on this page.
*Other letter J ideas:
~Jewels--glue jewels onto a letter J
~Jellybeans--eat them, fun facts from the Jelly Belly website
~Jam/jelly--put some on toast, make a pb and j for lunch, make some
~jacket--fashion show?, sewing?
~jigsaw puzzle
~Jack and the beanstalk--story and/or movie

On to CC for this week:
History--the history of Russia
~Lesson Guide for week 10 by a CC mom.  Lots of good info on here for Russian history and then some!
~Time (magazine) for kids--info on Russia with some pictures
*I'm having a hard time coming up with a lot of links for this one, but I think these two things will give you some good info.

Science--the phases of the moon
There is a HUGE amount of stuff to do with this!  Lots of fun stuff, too.  I'm going to try and put some of my favorite links here, but I've got several ideas on my Pinterest page (Classical Conversations Cycle 2).
~We'll start with this free coloring sheet
~ This looks fun...and easy!
~5 moon activities for kids...these definitely look doable, interactive, and fun for young kids
~Good explanation of the moon is not great, but understandable

~cute moon phase song
~informative video called, "Why the moon changes shape"
~free phases of the moon cookie sheet and questions...I think it would work great with the oreo cookie instructions on this page, which also has some free printables including some observation pages
~make a moon phase record
~more moon phase activities!
~and last...but NOT LEAST...the amazing project on the Sola Gratia Mom blog.  I love looking at the stuff they do!

Love this!

And that's about all for now.  I'm actually finished before midnight!  Yay! : )

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks this November

October has sped by and November is upon us.  I don't know about you, but our calendar is already filling up with activities in the coming weeks.  Christmas parties, football games, rounding out school before the holidays...all good things, but they can distract from focusing on the object of our Thanksgiving.  Christ.  He is the reason we have hope in this crazy world.

As my husband and I watch the headlines scroll along the bottom of the tv screen and hear political commentators battle it out, it's easy to feel a little down.  There is a lot of tragedy, deceit, and a general downfall of the moral and political state of our country.  But who can we trust?  Our trust is in the Lord!  Is He not in control?  Can he not guide and direct the hearts of men as He chooses?  When my heart and mind feel anxious, I know I can turn to The One who has the earth as his footstool.

With that said, what is a good way to turn our focus onto Him this season?  It is the month of Thanksgiving...why not give thanks?  Thanks for the shiny new bauble or for getting off with a warning instead of a speeding ticket?  That's not really what I was thinking.

(photo by Ann Voskamp)

I'm thinking that our family will try to do this version of a Thanks Giving Tree.  I've already printed off our "leaves" that were created by Ann Voskamp, author of the wonderful book, "One Thousand Gifts." Her blog is amazing, and the other day I ran across this post.  If you have a moment, read it, savor it, and print off your own Thanks Giving Tree leaves....and be blessed by the Truth!

God bless you!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Letter I, the planets, and the absolute monarchs (cycle 2, week 9)

I'm excited that we've been able to borrow my parent's computer since my decided to die on me again the other day.  It's been a long day today and I'm wiped I'm going to try and briefly give some of the best links I can!  Hope it's helpful.

Letter I
My first thought with letter cream : ).  You could make homemade or bought at the store.  Here is the recipe for my family's traditional favorite homemade ice cream.  It tastes like a Wendy's frosty! : )

Other books/ideas:
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Joffe Numerof
"If You Give a Moose a Muffin"
"It's Mine!" by Leo Lionni
"I Spy" books and game
* you could have cupcakes with icing and ice cream : )
*insects....this link will take you to a great unit (over 80 pages of ideas, games, wordplays, songs, and printables!) on the blog, Oopsy Daisy.  I used several printables from here.
*I also had several clothespin cards that went with the book "If You Give a Moose a Muffin".  There were some that gave you a chance to count the muffins and put a pin on the number, match uppercase and lowercase letters, etc.  We did this activity with our class today and it went really well.

Cycle 2, Week 9 Memory Work activities
*First of all, we've been listening to the planets song on our Geography Songs cd by Kathy Troxel.  The kids have already memorized most of it, so that will really help with what we're learning this week!
*There are so many fun planet activities to show the scale of the planets, eating different food items to represent the planets, etc.  Here are some that stood out to me:
~This is a free "Explore Our Solar System" worksheet
~"Our Place In Space" unit with printables...costs money, but not a lot.  The printables look good.
~ideas for a space lapbook...didn't see any printables, would have to use the links to print what you want
~Outer space homemade playdough...looks like something my kids would enjoy!
~This solar system sugar cookie looks really fun : )
I know my kids will love this song : )  But I guess Pluto isn't a planet anymore?  It isn't included.
~These solar system cookies were so beautiful...I had to include them : )
~FREE printable solar system cards
~printable of the planets and moons
~LOTS of ideas on this blog! Part 1 and Part 2 of her solar system unit
~free solar system coloring page and placemat activity
~space stats diagram using fruit
~solar system project...this uses foam pieces and a thick poster board to make a wonderful looking model
~another impressive foam model, but it's missing the step by step instructions
~Last but not least, The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space video
....I also saw something about The Magic School Bus Explores the Earth and Explores the Solar System, but I couldn't find full length videos for them.
That's A LOT of stuff! : )

Henry VIII of England, Louis XIV of France, Philip II of Spain, Peter the Great of Russia, and Frederick the Great of Prussia

^Nice little rap about King Louis : )
~Henry VIII activities and a video about Henry's wives
~Peter the Great video
~Exploring the Absolute Monarchs lapbook and study guide ($5)
~Informative video entitled The Age of Absolute Monarchs...a little over my kids' heads, but good for older kids...and good for me to understand it, too! : )
~Absolute Monarchs lesson plans, games, and powerpoints
~Time Warp Trio info on Peter the Great

~A video of a song to go with the Caribbean

It's getting late, so I'm heading off!  Hope this helps get you going on week 9!  God bless!

Monday, October 21, 2013

European Exploration, parts of the sun, and letter H (Cycle 2, week 8)

Last week we had a little fall breather.  We didn't meet for our co-op last week because of Columbus Day, but my plan was to keep doing our normal school stuff.  Then my computer decided not to come on anymore, I couldn't find one of our instructional dvds...and basically the week went down the tubes.  But that's ok.  It happens sometimes.  This week we're back together again and even though my computer is still not working and I'm not able to print at home right now (I'm trying to be cool about this...but it's really a challenge for me!), I'm going to make the best of things.  It's kind of a reminder of the fact that I'm a little spoiled with all the technology so readily available to me...most of the world probably does without it.  We'll make it ;-).

I am still going to be doing some activities with the kids this week and wanted to post some of the things that go along with week 8.  I'll start with letter H, though.  It's fresh on my mind since I taught the 3-5 year olds today.
Here are some books I brought with some activities:
*Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson; Here is a great resource for a lesson using this book, including writing sheets, coloring sheets, and a video.  This is just one of many "Harold" lessons out there.
*How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss--a little early, but the kids enjoyed the book, even though it was a little long; These activities look fun; Great resource for Grinchy stuff!
*From Head to Toe by Eric Carle; The kids LOVED reading this book and imitating the motions.  After we read the story I got my big roll of Ikea paper (only $4.99 at the store!) and let each child lay down on the paper and I traced their bodies.  Then I let them color themselves.  Lots of fun!
*The Story of Heidi

These are just a few of the things we did.  I also like to take my printed alphabet cards and review each letter we've learned so far.  The kids are doing really well with that.

Cycle 2, week 8
History--European Exploration: Dias, Vespucci, Balboa, Magellan, and Coronado
*Magellan background info, a picture of his route, and a printable
*Pretty neat video on Magellan's route, but it is in another language so unless you know that language, you won't know what the beginning text says.  You can pretty much figure out what places it's featuring on the map.
*Cute Animaniacs video called "The Ballad of Magellan"
*Nice video of Cape Town/Cape of Good Hope (modern day)
*Explorer route maps
*Coronado biography and video (this site looks like a good resource!)
*Balboa biography info--a good biography of the explorer
*Vespucci video--short, but informative
*Another short video that connects Vespucci's time period with Renaissance artists and Columbus
*Age of Exploration video that mentions a couple of different explorers

Science--parts of the sun

I like this video!  Great way to learn the parts of the sun.
*FREE parts of the sun poster and flashcards printable
*sun print paper--this would be a cool project ($6.99 for 15 sheets)
*cool sun prints on fabric
*construction paper sun prints
*video of a solar eruption

*using a cantaloupe to show the parts of the sun

*Interesting sun screen experiment...and perfect for my kiddos because I'm always slathering sunscreen on them!
*Fun! Turn your pizza box into a solar oven...I'm thinking smores!

Geography--Mid-Atlantic World

We'll listen to this and look at our printed map of the Mid Atlantic World.'s getting late, once again, so that's about all I've got for now.  I thought I had a video on my Pinterest board explaining the Council of Nicea, but I had trouble finding it.  Hope all of you have a great week and God bless!

Friday, October 18, 2013

FREE Christian fiction for your Kindle

There are some great Christian fiction for free right now for the Kindle (on  I was just looking at some of the books I've downloaded lately and realized there were quite a few.  I wanted to pass it on!  Some of these have been free for a while and one of them, I believe, is TODAY take advantage!  : )  I haven't read all of these, so you may want to look up some of the descriptions just to make sure it's something you would like.  A lot of times I read some of the book reviews, too, just to see if it's something I'd really want to have, even if it's free.

On to the books!
TODAY ONLY: Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu her books!

Other freebies: (* = books I've read that I enjoyed)
Child of the Mist by Kathleen Morgan
Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller
Daughter of Twin Oaks by Lauraine Snelling
Shadows of the Canyon by Tracie Peterson
*A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
A Daughter's Inheritance by Tracie Peterson
Lion of Babylon (thriller) by Davis Bunn
Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot
*Love By the Letter (novella) by Melissa Jagears
An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling
In the Company of Secrets by Judith Miller
Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips
Distant Dreams by Judith Pella
*Waiting For Summer's Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater
*Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin
*Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer
Out of Control by Mary Connealy
The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke
*Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan
Gentleman of Her Dreams by Jen Turano
A Home in the West by Lori Copeland
A Cast of Stones (fantasy) by Patrick W. Carr
Back on Murder (mystery) by J. Mark Bertrand
Deadly Aim (mystery) by Patricia H. Rushford
Offworld (not sure what genre) by Robin Parrish
*Secrets: A Novel by Kristin Heitzmann (the 3 prequel novels to this one are excellent!)
The Light of Eidon (fantasy) by Karen Hancock
The Secret's in the Sauce by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Love Me If You Must (mystery) by Nicole Young
Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
The 7-Day Doubt Diet by Renee Swope
**And, as always, many classic books are free for the kindle.  I've picked up books by Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, the book "Jane Eyre", and many others for free.** 

Discounted books that look good:
Melanie Dickerson's books are reduced for a limited time to $1.99 each:
Fairest Beauty
The Merchant's Daughter
The Healer's Apprentice
(I've read all three and they are great! They are also written for Young Adults, so they can enjoy them as well)
Her newest book, The Captive Maiden (based on the story of Cinderella) is reduced to $5.12

The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist is $3.99
Colleen Coble also has several books for 99 cents and up.

There are lots of other discounted books.  Just be aware that sometimes free or discounted Christian fiction can get mixed in with the free romance/erotic novels that are out there.  Reading the reviews often helps me to know if I need to caution myself on a book, but it's not 100% fool proof.  Usually the cover will give it away, too ; ).

Hope enjoy all of these freebies and have a great weekend!  I'll be posting about week 8 and letter H over the weekend, hopefully.  My computer is down (again!) so the hubby and I are sharing.  Pray with me that we'll get this resolved soon!  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reviewer's Bookshelf: A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

"A Bride for Keeps" by Melissa Jagears

It's 1876 and Julia Lockwood is stepping off the train in Kansas...far from her Boston roots.  She is eager and willing to learn how to be a hard-working western wife.  Meeting her husband-to-be for the first time was the first of many new experiences as she steps on to the platform.  Except her fiance has no idea that the beautiful woman walking towards him is his wife-to-be...and when he finds out, he's not too happy about it.

Everett Cline is not opposed to marriage.  In fact, he's tried three times to marry a mail-order bride...and each one has not worked out.  Each time his heart was broken a little more and his disappointment grew.  When a well-meaning friend goes behind his back to write Julia, Everett doesn't want his heart broken once again.  He's sure that the beautiful Julia will find some reason to reject him.  His only choice is to protect himself by putting a wall so high that not even a willing wife could climb it.

Julia is also putting up walls.  Except hers is not made of indifference like Everett's, but hard work.  If she can just work hard enough, learn to be a good wife, then that will be enough.  Besides, that's what Everett needs, isn't it?  Someone to help him out so he can survive on the farm.  And maybe if she works hard, Everett will not ask her about her past and hurts that have scarred her heart.

I read Melissa Jagears' novella, "Love by the Letter" (free for Kindle), before reading this book.  I really liked the story and when I had the opportunity to read her debut novel I jumped at the chance.  "A Bride for Keeps" was a book that I didn't want to put down.  The story is obviously focused primarily on the relationship between Julia and Everett.  I enjoy mail-order bride stories, but Everett and Julia were characters that really grabbed my attention.  They had real issues, deep scars that couldn't be taken care of with a few hastily spoken vows.  Through different incidents, they had to let go of their insecurities, hurts, and past experiences and trust in God to bring them together.  Julia doesn't have faith in God through most of the story, so this is very difficult for her.  Even with faith in God, it is hard for Everett as well.  I really liked their story and was rooting for them all through the book.  In a way I wished that some of the past issues were resolved a little more or even a "bad guy" in the novel dealt with a little more, but overall I would say I would recommend this as a great debut novel.  I will be looking for more of Jagears' books in the future!

**I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased book review**

Happy reading!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Martin Luther and the Reformation, stars, and letter's a busy week!

We're having an interesting week this week studying Martin Luther and the Reformation.  I'm excited about it and look forward to doing some of the activities I've spotted on Pinterest.  With my big boy we're doing letter G, which has some good activities, too.  This week is also going to be a little different because the hubby and I are headed out to Nashville (woohoo!) to celebrate our anniversary.  We're celebrating 9 years and enjoyed going to Nashville so much last year that we're going again this year!  I look forward to getting away and relaxing.  In light of that, we won't have a normal school week.  The kids will have a few things they'll have to do at their Mimi's I'll have a lot to cover in a few days!  I know we won't to get everything, but I'm going to try to go back and do some of the things we didn't get to when we have a long CC break through the holidays.

I'm going to start with the letter G because it's fresh on my mind.  Here are some quick letter G ideas...
*grapes...a great snack!  And this tracing sheet link has grapes on it for capital G

*guitar...we had our music minister come by during our group meeting today (I teach the 3-5 year olds) and bring his guitar.  He did a great job talking about what the guitar was made of, parts of the guitar, and played Jesus Loves Me for us and we were able to sing along.  Very fun!  And isn't this little craft cute?!

*goat...Three Billy Goats Gruff book, or a trip to see some live goats at a local farm
*Goldilocks and the Three Bears book...the kids loved this and I had a felt board and pieces to go along with the story and we read it twice.  It was a lot of fun to act out.
*Green Eggs and Ham book...another favorite!  If I would've been able to plan better I would've done some green eggs and ham for the kids.  I'll definitely do it at some point, though...maybe "S" for Seuss week : )
*God...lots to talk about there!
*Guess How Much I Love You book
*This Homeschool Share page is incredible!  Lap 'N Note pages for every and easy to access!  I didn't even have to sign up to be able to download!  This will be a great resource.
*other "G" words: goldfish, green, grey, gorilla, and goose

Classical Conversations Memory Work...Cycle 2, Week 7
History: Reformation, Martin Luther, Ninety-five Theses
*A video excerpt from the movie, "Luther", that talks about the Ninety-five Theses
*Reformation unit and lapbook pages.  I really liked this packet, but didn't print all of it.  I did print the parts about Martin Luther, some of the causes of the Reformation, and a few others.  I hope to do a lap book for the kids with this.
*A nice chart of the English monarchy during the Reformation
*A Martin Luther coloring page that I've already printed.  The kids really did well with the coloring pages we did last week.  I think both of my big kiddos are high visual learners.
*Reformation Day Party ideas--Reformation Day is October 31st
*Another detailed Reformation Day Party idea with links to printables
**I LOVE the idea of having a Reformation Day Party.  I've never done one, and it would be fun to do it with our homeschool group and anyone else who would want to participate**

Science: 5 kinds of stars
*I LOVE this star project!  It'll take some spray paint and poster board, but that's about it.  And the most important part...putting a verse from Psalms on it.
*This is also a week to talk about constellations.  I love the free app "Star Chart"--a great way to go outside and go stargazing.
*space lapbook--with great printables and info on stars, the moon, and the sun! I will be using some of this next week, too!
*info on how to find different constellations in the night sky
*I love the idea of doing glow in the dark constellations cards
*Another great way to do glow in the dark constellation cards
*Free printable constellation cards with info (it says "limited time" but they were still free and available)
*Glow in the dark play dough! Cool!
*Star worksheet
*This star size comparison video is mind-blowing!  Quite a testimony to God's handiwork!
*Simple constellation lesson plan
*constellation viewer idea...but there are only 4 printables available for it
*This is cool, too!  An oatmeal container planetarium!  I really want to do this one!
*And...a constellation jar (I might use a candle instead of a light like they did...but I don't know how well it will work)'s A LOT of star activities!  : )

Geography: European Peninsulas
*I've printed my geography cards this week and we're going to look on the blog, And Here We Go!, for a geography song that she's made up. My kids really did well with the song last week.

English: possessive adjectives
*I've got my printables from "Suzanne Shares" blog
*We'll watch the grammar video I linked to on this post

We'll do our pronunciation cards I mentioned before...already printed and ready to go!

And...that's all I've got for now!  I've been doing some organizing with some of my materials.  As soon as I can get my pictures together, I'll be sure to share : ).

God bless your week!

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Audrey Bunny" review and giveaway! (PS...this book is adorable!)

**And the winner is...Stacy!  Thanks so much to all of you who participated!**

Angie Smith has written a beautiful story of a little girl, Caroline, and her bunny that she names Audrey.  Audrey was one of the last bunnies picked from the toy store, and she knows it's because she has a smudge on her fur...right over her heart.  Audrey tries to hide the smudge from Caroline as best as she can, because she knows that if Caroline sees it she'll take Audrey right back to the toy store.  And that would crush sweet Audrey...because she loves Caroline so much.  What she doesn't realize is that Caroline actually chose her for her flaws...and loves her because of them.  Young readers will learn that everyone is special and wonderfully made by God.

Not only are the illustrations in the book captivating, the story of the relationship between a stuffed bunny and the little girl that loves her is beautiful....and tear jerking!  I definitely felt a little misty by the end of this story.  It was a good reminder of God's love for us, despite our baggage or our flaws.  His love is unconditional.  This is definitely a book that we will have on our bookshelf and revisit for years to come.

Angie Smith is a best-selling women's author (I Will Carry You, Mended).  I was also able to hear her speak twice at a women's conference I attended a few years ago.  Angie is funny, personable and is a very relate-able speaker.  I actually stopped her between sessions and introduced myself!  She was very gracious and just carried on a conversation with me like we were friends.   I would definitely recommend hearing her speak if you have the chance.  But first...comment on this blog post to win a free copy of Audrey Bunny!

Here's a message from Angie about the book:

I'll be drawing a winner next Wednesday!  Anyone in the US and Canada can enter.  You will LOVE this book!

More resources:
B&H Kids Facebook:
B&H Publishing Twitter: @BHKidsBuzz

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

God bless~

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Renaissance coloring sheets for week 6

I was about to pull my hair out today trying to find a good coloring sheet to go with our Renaissance stuff.  After battling with my printer and finding a good freebie, I finally ran across some goodies!  I really wanted to share!

It's a basic Mona Lisa picture that the kids can color, but it really worked for us!  I found it at blog called My Favorite Freebies.  On the same page there is a "Meet the Artist" worksheet that you can use with any artist that we're studying.  I thought it was a fun idea...basically like you're interviewing the artist and putting down facts about him/her.

There is also an Animated Hero Classics video about Leonardo da Vinci (I love the movies, but don't have any of them...I try to watch what we can on YouTube).  But if you do have the video...or just want a booklet of free printables to go along with you go!  : )  There's a lot that you can print from there.

We read "Katie and the Mona Lisa" today...Sophie loved it...and this blog post offers some interesting ways to follow up.

Ok...I absolutely LOVE this video!  It's HILARIOUS!  I just watched it a few minutes ago, and I still have tears in my eyes from laughing.  I think kids will love it and it gives some great info, too!  I'm going to check out more videos from these guys!

We're going to color this Copernicus sheet tomorrow during our morning work...or maybe this Shakespeare one.  Coloring sheets are an easy way for me to introduce some of these guys and the kids like to color.  Win, win : ).

More coloring pages:
"Color Me" masterpieces...different printables from various artists
Sistene Chapel coloring pages (2)
Michealangelo lesson plan and printables
Printable biography of Michealangelo

That's all for now! ; )

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall, the Renaissance, and some great printables (it's week 6!)

I'm getting started pretty late tonight.  I may not get to post ALL of the things I want to, but I'll definitely hit some highlights.  One thing I'm excited about are some FREE printables that I think are really going to help with our Classical Conversations materials, so I'll definitely post links to those.  As always, I'm pinning like a mad woman on Pinterest, so please check out some of my boards: Classical Conversations Cycle 2, Homeschooling, First Grade and name a few.  Honestly, Pinterest is a great stress reliever and provides some great, crafty things that I can do that will lead to further stress relief.  I need a crafty outlet ; ).
Let's dive in with our letter of the week, "F".  Here are some ideas:
Fancy Nancy books
fish (Rainbow Fish book)
fall--we did an activity today that I found where you trace your hand in brown on a paper plate, color it in (to look like a tree trunk) and glue leaves on the tree.  You could do any kind of cute fall picture or activity.
Just Google it if you don't have Pinterest.  Here are some links to some good fall activities/sheets:
fall coloring sheet
fall tracing sheets
farm (field trip idea!)
field trips
frog craft and book ideas for letter F
Like I said, I'm doing this quickly tonight...lots to cover!

Classical Conversations Memory Work...Cycle 2, Week 6
History: The Renaissance (da Vinci, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, and Copernicus)
Here is a great intro video: (warning: when talking about one of the sculptures (David and Goliath) it shows a drawing of the nude sculpture)

Here is a blog post on one point perspective drawing...which would go right along with the above video.
*Another video on the Renaissance ("Horrible History")....funny but definitely gets the history in : )
*Wonderful blog with some week 4, 5, and 6 color sheets and printables, but not all of them are free and I'm not quite sure how to access some of the freebies.  But it definitely has some great ideas and possibilities.
*Shakespeare: BBC Shakespeare Animated tales (A Midsummer Night's Dream)...I didn't watch the whole thing, but it looked good and understandable...easy way to introduce Shakespeare
*A good blog post on studying Shakespeare with kids
*FREE Shakespeare games, activities and info for kids
*A great resource for lots of Shakespeare stuff
*FREE printable of the Globe Theater
**I'm just going to stop there for Shakespeare...because there is a TON of stuff on him.  I think this is a good mix of things, though, and probably about all we'll do (IF we even get to all of that! : ))**
*Copernicus: Concise, informative video biography
*da Vinci: This looks fun!  Might have to take a trip to Hobby Lobby : ).  We'll also read Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew (that my sister actually bought us when she was at the Louvre!)
*More Renaissance project ideas
*This Renaissance lapbook looks amazing.  I really want to do this!  I think all the printables are free, including a Renaissance timeline.

Geography: European Mountains
*We're still printing these geography them!
*Here's some cute European mountains songs

Latin: future tense
*These free pronounciation helps are now printed and labeled!  I'm hoping this will help me tackle this Latin memory work.  I'm still feeling a little lost.  On this post, she also has the link to the free file folder game, which I have also made and it really helped me with labeling my pronounciation cards.

Science: pollution
*Pollution for kids video (I thought this video was a little cheesy, but ok)
*Brain pop video (yay!) on air pollution and one on water pollution (I didn't try to watch them, so I hope they're free!)
*Facts and tips on air, water, and land pollution

English: possessive pronouns
*Free printable pronoun packet...I LOVE the printables that Suzanne puts on her blog!  Very colorful!

And that's all for now!  There are so many resources for many of these's hard to get to them all.  I printed a lot of cards this week to help us out but I was not sure how I was going to store them.  What I decided to do is get a mini coupon holder at Walmart (97 cents!) and I'm going to file them in there so we can access them they'll be labeled.  That way we can even use them for review later.  I'm not putting my geography cards in there because I have them in a zip lock bag, but the Latin and grammar cards are definitely going in.

Hope you all have a great week and God bless!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Rebellious Heart" and "Fired Up"

Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

Set in 18th century Massachusetts, Rebellious Heart is a story that follows closely to the real-life love story of John and Abigail Adams...with a few name and event changes.  Susanna Smith is the daughter of a well respected family in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Brought up in the upper end of society, Susanna has the same aspirations that most young ladies in her position would--to marry well and live in comfort.  The only thing lacking for Susanna is the ability to be educated as much as her brother.  She loves reading and learning, but is restricted to just knowing the basics.
Benjamin Ross is a young man whose family has sacrificed so that he could attend college and become a lawyer.  He is passionate about defending those who are helpless and wants to fight against the harsh policies of the ruling British government.  Seeing Susanna again brings back old memories of a childhood encounter, but soon Ben looks beyond Susanna's well-to-do behavior and sees a woman of courage and conviction.
When Susanna gets involved in helping someone in need, defying the laws the British have imposed, Ben agrees to help.  In the mean time, two murders have occurred in Braintree and Ben is trying to figure out who is to blame.  Mystery, suspense, and romance, right along with the historical backdrop of 18th century America, make Rebellious Heart a great read!

When I opened up the book and started to read, I wondered if Susanna was going to be a snobby female that I was going to get bored with.  I'm glad to say she wasn't!  Susanna had great character development and as the novel went on, I began to appreciate her courage and growth.  Benjamin Ross was likable from the start...defending the helpless and speaking out against injustice.  But I can honestly say I'm glad he wasn't perfect!  He had some selfish aspirations just as Susanna did, but they both learned what was truly important. The romance was clean but definitely pulse raising!  For me, I appreciate an author that can capture a simple moment between a man and a woman and show how truly romantic it can be!  I really loved the suspense aspect in the novel as well.  As Ben and Susanna are being pursued by an evil British soldier, I couldn't read fast enough.  And honestly, even though I knew how I hoped the book would end, I wasn't sure how it would come out.  Rebellious Heart had every element of a good novel...I would definitely recommend it!

If you'd like to get to know Jody better, here is an interview I did with her a while back...including one of her favorite recipes!

Fired Up by Mary Connealy

Fired Up is the second book in the "Trouble in Texas" series.  This story picks up right after book one, Swept Away.  The band of Civil War brothers that we met in the last book are still together and still running into trouble.  This story focuses on Dare Riker, a self-taught doctor in a rough, mostly male, town.  In the last book, Dare led the guys in freeing Glynna Greer from her abusive husband, Flint.  When Dare saw what was happening to Glynna, his heart was stirred with compassion and interest.  Now that she is free from Flint, Dare can't help but look at Glynna in a romantic way.  If only her son would stop threatening him to stay away from her.
While Dare is trying to sort out his feelings for Glynna, someone apparently has got it in their mind to kill him.  Whether it's surviving an avalanche or a house fire, Dare is fighting for his life at every turn.  With the help of his closest friends, Dare is on a mission to discover who is after him as well as figure out how he can have a life with Glynna.

Who doesn't love a book that starts out with a dangerous avalanche?  : )  I would expect nothing less from a book by Mary Connealy.  Her books often start out with a bang and don't slow down.  Her characters are funny, endearing, and tough.  The leading men in this series are no exception.  The "regulators" have stuck together through the tortures of Andersonville, and they'd do anything to help one of their brothers.  There is an unspoken protectiveness among them, and I really like that aspect of the story.  That protectiveness is especially evident in Dare, as he has taken on the role of doctor so he could establish himself in town.  He can't stop himself from helping those in need, no matter what his insecurities are about being a good doctor.  Glynna is a woman who is sweet, not as tough as some of Connealy's other female characters, but she has a more quiet endurance as she has survived being married to two awful men, one of which abused her terribly.  She is hesitant about entering into a relationship with Dare, but as they spend more and more time together, he's pretty hard to resist.  I love the witty banter that is a trademark in Connealy's books. Even though Dare's life being threatened several times, the guys in the book joke about it...even Dare himself.  I couldn't help but smile when I was reading that.  If you're like me, and like a book that's going to have clean, but passionate, bursts of romance, humor, action, and'll enjoy this book!

**I received these books for free from Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased review**

Happy reading!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letter E...Cycle 2, Week 5

My blog post titles are not too creative with these school updates : ).  Honestly, I'm worn out after our co-op days (I'm working with 3-5 year olds every Monday).  I love it, though, and love seeing how much the kids are learning!  I'm going to dive into what we're going to be studying this week because I know this post is going to take me a while.  Please check out my last post...I'm giving away a free children's board book that is very cute....Rufus and Ryan Go to Church!. All you need to do is comment on that post and you're in the drawing.  I'll be picking a name on Friday of this week.

Letter E
All I could think of with letter E was elephants and eggs.  There's a good place to start.  But there's also eagles, earth, Easter, and even eggplant.  Here are some things we started with today:

Letter E coloring pageseggselephant, and my friend has a page that she prints that has the dots on it.  I'm going to try and find it....Here's one...but not as cute as the one she had.  I'm going to ask her about it and post it next week.  She said she bought her bingo paint things at the Dollar I'm going to check those out because it's easy and fun for the kids.

*We played a little game today with some of the alphabet cards I mentioned in this post.  And to continue my alphabet card obsession, I started printing these last night...adorable!  They are bigger than the other ones, so I just propped them up on the chalkboard.  Basically I laid out several cards from letter A to D on the floor.  I let the kids take turns trying to find one letter card.  It was a good review of the letters we've learned so far.  And because each card has a different picture of something starting with that letter, it was a good way for them to identify the letter with different words and its sound.  (I hope that makes sense!)

A cool foamy egg and other "E" crafts
Elmer the Elephant idea and other crafts/resources


And another yes...great idea!  My daughter is supposed to be learning this verse at church, too, so it'll be a good activity for her.

And let's not forget eggplant.  You could do a whole vegetable ABC's activity...I think I saw that somewhere and thought it was a cute idea.

So if we get to all of that "E" stuff, we'll be doing good!  Now for the memory work.

Cycle 2, Week 5 (wow...we're already at week 5?!)
History: The Hundred Years War/Joan of Arc/King Charles VII/black death
*Short, but informative video biography of Joan of Arc
*animated Joan of Arc video--this looks like something my kids will like
*Middle Ages for Kids--good background info
*Great, short video:

*Black death info

Science: How do animals react to environmental change?
*Info with definitions, links, and activity ideas
*How Animals Get Ready for Winter (clip) video-kind of looks like a video I might've watched in school! : )
*Animals in Winter cards--$3.29
*Lesson idea on adapt, migrate, and hibernate.  I have the book "The Mitten" so I'm probably going to read that this week.
*Yay!  A FREE game...definitely going to print this.  I'm probably not going to print the questions, but the cards with the info to go on the back of each will be great!
*books: Magic School Bus Sleeps for the Winter...couldn't find a video for this one : (.  I doubt we'll be able to find the book at our library, but some of you might be able to find it.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
The little mouse, the red ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR   by Don and Audrey Wood--I haven't read this one, but I LOVE the authors, so I think it would be a good one.

Geography: probably the most I'm going to do with this is print out the Geography Cards from And Here We Go! blog.  I really like those cards.

We'll also listen to some songs from our Geography Songs cd.  It's a great, fun way to learn.  You can also get the MP 3 on Amazon if you don't want to buy the cd.

For English, we'll watch the YouTube video that has all the grammar memory work in song.  The kids have loved that, too.

Well, it's bedtime for the kiddos and I could use some rest myself!  Hope you all have a great week!