Sunday, September 28, 2014

Taking a Fall Break!

We've completed 6 weeks of school so far and I think Momma needs a break.  : )  We've been pushing hard the past 6 weeks and since fall has just begun, and the weather is cooler, and just because I have a TON of things I need to catch up on (hello piled up laundry) we're going to take a few days off.  BUT...I do think it's a great time to still do some fun things together that could still be considered "school" even if we aren't tackling week 7 in Classical Conversations.  We'll do that next week.

One thing I've been inspired to do is learn how to play chess...and teach our children.  We had a college student visit us during the summer and he is very good at chess.  He convinced me that chess is "brain sport" and really helps develop the mind.  Last night I started trying to find some good resources to first of all learn, and then to try and find something somewhat interactive.  I came across a site called "Chess Kid" that was helpful.  You can sign up for free, and you can sign up as a parent/coach and then add the kids that you want to learn.  You can go to a "learn" section and it teaches you step by step about the pieces, how the board is set up, and then moves on to strategy.  I learned a lot in a very short time.  I wanted to try and play a simple game and that's where I started to lose interest because it wanted to set me up with online people I didn't know and then the games that you could set up against the computer didn't really look like a full game...just specific strategies.  But, once you set your kids up you can play against each other (at least that's what I think it said).  It definitely got me up to speed on the basics.  I also found a 3-in-1 chess, tic tac toe, and checkers set at Walmart for less than $10.  It was just right for our purposes.

Another thing I want to do next week is pick out a pumpkin.  We don't always get to do this every year and I found out there's a pumpkin patch with a corn maze and other fun things to do.  We have really enjoyed pumpkin carving in the past so I think we need to do that while we've got some down time! : )

Next weekend we're also visiting my alma mater, Berry College, for it's annual Mountain Day.  This year will be my 15 year reunion (and yes, I do feel old right now) and it's also the 100th anniversary of the college.  I can't even cover how much I loved my 4 years at Berry.  I spent my summers working there, too, so it really felt like home during that time.  I was able to explore several neat spots and made SO many memories! Here are a few pics of the campus <3 .="" p="">
    The Grand March on Mountain Day                            The Ford buildings on campus...I lived here!

                                                  The Old Mill on the Mountain Campus

I can't wait to go back...after all these years!  I have visited since I graduated but I haven't been on Mountain Day since my senior year.  The story of Martha Berry and how she founded the school is fascinating.  I hope we'll be able to fit in a little of the history while we're there.

This is also the first week of the fair!  We LOVE going to the fair each year as a family.  There are fun rides but also a circus, animal exhibits, and last year we did the petting zoo.  A definite October activity that we look forward to...and it can be educational! : )

There are plenty of fall crafts, too. The blog Art for Kids is having a Fall Art Contest!  They are giving away a great set of art supplies as a prize and entries are due on October 6th!  I think we're definitely going to try to do this! Click on my link to get the guidelines.

Happy fall, everyone!  I'll be back in the groove next week with week 7 and as many activities as I can find ; ).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Book Summary (from Amazon): Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

My thoughts: Initially it took me a while to get into this book.  I'm not sure why, because the beginning scene was a train hold up...and very exciting.  I guess once our main character, Eliza, got off the train the action slowed down quite a bit.  As I continued to read on, however, the story became more engaging as there were some nice plot twists and unexpected events.  Eliza also took a journey of self-discovery that I was able to relate to.  

Some Facebook comments on an author friend's page that I read recently pointed out that when you pick up a Christian fiction romance should expect a romance!  : )  So I expected there to be a romantic interest for Eliza.  The fun part about reading this genre is the journey that a character goes on.  What twists and turns will be in the story that will affect the outcome?  Who will the hero/heroine end up with? What will the character learn through developing a relationship with someone? There are going to be a few predictable elements, but I found this novel to have just the right amount of interesting characters, plot twists, and romantic moments to keep my interest throughout. 

Eliza was so confident in some things, like her abilities as a store manager, and yet so insecure about others, like her appearance. Her past caused her to struggle with a need to depend only on herself, striving at all costs to get what she wanted and felt she deserved.  Don't we all struggle with that to a degree?  Entitlement.  I know I do.  Throughout the novel we see how she deals with this and how it affects her relationship with two men...Axel and Will.

Will is definitely the hero in this story, but he also struggles with insecurity.  It is almost crippling for him.  He makes bad business decisions, trusts someone who shouldn't be trusted, and helps people to a degree that it's harmful to his own welfare.  It can be a little frustrating at times, and hard to read.  But Will is also very kind and endearing, which made me believe that he was the kind of guy that Eliza could like.  

Overall, by the time I finished this novel I really enjoyed it.  There were times when the pace lagged a little bit for me, but it would always pick back up and a new, unexpected thing would happen.  

My rating:
4 stars
Happy reading!
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to give an unbiased review*

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cycle 3, Week 6: Louisiana Purchase, the Digestive System, and some great freebies!

It's been a great, but busy, weekend!  We celebrated my hubby's 50th birthday with a surprise party on Saturday!  It was a couple of months in the making...and I'm SO glad it went so well!  We have been blessed with some amazing family and thankful.  With that said...I am pretty wiped. But I need to get ready for school..tired or not.

I read that adding additional worksheets and things to the memory work is not necessary.  But kids love it.  And I do, too.  I think it helps us remember the memory work better so that's why we do it.  Plus we don't have any other science or social studies curriculum, so this is what we do.  With that said...I enjoy making these resources available to anyone that might like to use them.  I hope they help you on your CC journey!

History: Louisiana Purchase/Lewis and Clark
Schoolhouse Rock video

Time Warp Trio....this is part one but I saw a link to the next part
*Free Louisiana Purchase worksheet
*Free Louisiana Purchase accordian foldable (You could use it in a lap book)
*Fun ideas from this Homeschool Book Club page...I like the cake idea :-)
*I pinned some other things on my Cycle 3 Pinterest board...check it out!

Science: the digestive system
*LOVE this FREE human body organ sytems foldable.  It would cover several things we've covered and then some.
*Magic School Bus Gets Eaten video!  My kiddos love MSB!
*Nice blog post with a set of free worksheets! that go into some great detail about digestion.  I just printed one copy for our family to do together.
*Short, factual video that shows the process:

*Digestive system demonstration
*Kinesthetic model of digestion
*Digestion in a bag

And...I think my FAVORITE activity is making an organs t-shirt! This blog even has free printables for stencils.  And I bought t-shirts at the dollar store!  Can't wait to try this!!

Latin: Nouns
Still searching for help with this, but I did find John 1 in Latin on this video...

English: Irregular Verb Tenses
*The blog Suzanne Shares has a FREE printable set of all of the irregular verb tenses that we're studying.  Looks great, as always!

*Still printing our state cards on  The kids are getting into the hang of coloring one a day and at the end of the week I laminate them.  I think we'll really enjoy being able to review with them!

And that will be all, my friends!  Hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Love's Fortune is the third book in the Ballantyne series by Laura Frantz.  Here is the book summary (from Goodreads):

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Before sharing my thoughts, I really love this video that not only features the author, but also gives you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes in creating a book cover.

My thoughts...
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Laura Frantz's books.  Why?  Because her novels create word pictures that sweep me up in a new time and place, but also take me on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Fear, angst, love, and devotion are just a few.  And as Laura said on the video, this series is a lot about the choices that are made and how they affect generations to come.  So relevant to our own lives.  A good novel takes you on a fantastic fictional journey but pulls you in by relating real feelings and experiences.  Each of her novels have done that for me....including Love's Fortune.

Wren.  I love the name chosen for the heroine in this novel.  Her real name is Rowena, but Wren suits her perfectly.  When she is in the wilds of Kentucky, free to pursue her love of music and not bound by the confines of society, she thrives.  When she travels to see her family in Pennsylvania, she is more like a caged bird.  Trapped physically right down to the corset she has to wear, Wren still tries to find moments of freedom through musical expression.  Society doesn't look too kindly on her "outbursts".  But there is someone who sees this soft, beautiful side of her...James Sackett.

James can see how vulnerable Wren is.  She is without an advocate in Pennsylvania, as her father has gone away on business.  He wants to help her thrive in society, but he also wants to protect her from those who would take advantage of her.  James is good at being admired in society. However, his true passion and skill is being a steamship pilot, which is coupled with his love and admiration for the Ballantyne family.  As much as he tries to avoid it, his attraction to Wren is undeniable.

This book also had several side stories going on in the midst of the main plot.  I can see that not every character's tale can be would be a really long novel! I can appreciate that the main characters and the overall novel reached a point of resolution by the end of the book.  

I would recommend the entire Ballantyne Legacy series as well as Laura Frantz' other novels. I give Love's Fortune:

Four stars!  I really enjoyed it!

Happy reading!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cycle 3, week 5...Washington and the senses

Tired.  It's been another busy week, complete with a crazy reaction to an insect bite, school, and basically me being overwhelmed.  But there were good moments, too.  So...Monday is always a good day to start over.  There will be a lot going on this week but hopefully with a good night's sleep I'll be ready to go.  Let's get rollin'...

History: George Washington
*Great video about Washington on the Scholastic site
*Another Washington biography video
*Liberty's Kids movies:"Washington Takes Command"
*Funny, short Sesame Street video explaining a painting with George Washington
*You can search "George Washington" on YouTube and there will be several video options
*blog post that shows some Washington anchor charts
*Very cute, FREE, George Washington booklet --it can be printed in b/w or color
*FREE George Washington lapbook

Science: the five senses
I know there will be lots of cute things for this!
*10 free senses worksheets--labeled to be used for Kindergarten
*I might try the apple poem that goes with the senses found here

I like this idea to do with popcorn (found at

Geography--still printing our state flashcards for the week from

*Not much to help with this one! : )  I did see a few links to some videos on Pinterest.

I know this isn't a ton of stuff...but friends, I'm exhausted!  Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GIVEAWAY and Review!! Dolphin Tale 2 Homeschool Curriculum and Promo Pack

The movie Dolphin Tale 2 will come to theaters this weekend.  And guess what?!  Friday, September 12 is also Homeschool Day 2014!  I am very privileged to be able to review a homeschool curriculum designed to use right along with Dolphin Tale 2. 

I haven't seen this movie yet, of course, but I remember Dolphin Tale being a heart warming, family friendly movie that everyone could enjoy.  The sequel brings back several of the actors from the original film as well as a few new ones, including a cameo by Bethany Hamilton ("Soul Surfer").  I can't wait to see this with my kiddos and I'm especially excited to tell you about a free homeschool curriculum that you can use right along with the movie!

I had never heard of the site Homeschool Movie Club until tonight.  It's free to sign up and it gives you access to homeschooling materials that go right along with family friendly movies.  For the movie Dolphin Tale 2, there is a curriculum intro along with 5 lessons, all of which include a video from someone who works at the aquarium and a pdf file that you can print off that goes right along with the lesson.  There is also an answer key and....drumroll....Classical Conversations homeschool curriculum included a FREE packet that is over 60 pages long and includes connections to literature, math, science, history, geography, language, and Bible.  There is even a section for parents that has a place to put together a family presentation.  Just click on the link above and go to "free curriculum". You have to sign up and log in before you can view it.

So...what do I think about this curriculum?!  LOVE it!  The videos that go with each of the lessons are short and informative.  A good portion is a man talking, but there are video clips and graphics dispersed throughout.  I thought the videos were easy to understand and the information was presented well.  I believe that children as young as elementary age up through high school could learn something from the videos.  The printable pages that went along with the lessons were geared towards younger students, I would say up through 5th grade.  The printables were colorful, informative, and there was a variety of activities ranging from drawing to science.  I also liked the way that the lessons encouraged students who might have an interest in marine biology or would like to work in an aquarium.  The Classical Conversations material was just...amazing!  I am a little biased since we use this curriculum, but the graphics and lessons were eye catching and filled with information.  I liked the inclusion of the Bible in the study of dolphins.  There were also pages where your child could draw something, printable information cards, and a wide variety of information at your fingertips.  This would be a great week long...or more...unit study on dolphins.

It's rare to find good quality entertainment these days, and even though I haven't seen it yet, I believe that Dolphin Tale 2 will be great.  Here is a trailer:

Love it!!  Here are some more ways to check out Dolphin Tale 2:
Official Movie Website:
Twitter: @dolphintale

You don't have to be a homeschooling family to enjoy this resource.  And you definitely don't have to homeschool to enter my GIVEAWAY!!!  I'll be giving away a free Dolphin Tale 2 t-shirt and a pair of sunglasses to one commenter.  So just leave a comment on this blog post or on my facebook pages where I'll be posting, and you'll be entered to win.  I'll draw a winner on Wednesday, September week from today!

So DON'T FORGET!!  Go see Dolphin Tale 2 starting this Friday, September 12th!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Moving along in Cycle 3...Week 4...and a little Turkish bonus

Well, I'm starting this post around 10 I'll do my best to get as many resources on here as I can before I completely fall out! : )
I thought I would also include a few words/phrases that we learned in Turkish last week when we had a visitor at our house.  Our school week was skimpy but we had a big lesson in culture that we didn't expect!  I don't have the Turkish accents on my keyboard so I'll try my best to put the pronunciations on here the right way.

*Hello--merhaba (mare-ha-bah)
*Goodbye--gorusuruz (gore-ew-sha-rooz)
*Thank you--tesekkurler (te-shek-ew-lair)
*How are you?--nasilsin (na-seal-sin) if you want to make it plural or say it with respect/please, you can add "iz" to the end of the word
*What is your name?--senin a din ne? (se-nin  a  din  nay?--almost just the way it's written)
*My name is _________.---Benim a dim ________. (I think the pronunciation is about the way it sounds)
*Nice to meet you.---tanistigima memnun oldum (tan-ish-ti-/h/ima  mem-none----the /h/ is kind of like a breathy h sound---old um)

Again...I'm not 100% sure on those pronunciations, but that's about as good as I remember from one afternoon session : ).

Ok...on to Week 4!
History: The Declaration of Independence
*I'm sure there are TONS of resources on this...I'll try to post some of the best ones I can find...
*This blog post has some links to a good variety of activities
*Gotta love School House Rock
Liberty's Kids episode: The First Fourth of July
*A shared writing post about the Declaration
*Here is a page where you can magnify the the left are the three GA signers: Button Gwinnet, Lymon Hall and George Harrison
*coloring page that includes the names of all the signers of the Declaration and the states they were from
If you see any other great ideas...I'd love to know what they are : )

Science: three parts of the nervous system
*We have a poster I'm going to put up with the three parts

English: Verb: Principle Parts
Home video on a nice way to remember the parts using the song Three Blind Mice

*For Geography I'm continuing to print the state flash cards from

I'm going to wrap it up there for now....I'm wiped out!  Hope you all have a great week!