Sunday, August 30, 2015

Moving right along to Classical Conversations Cycle 1, week 3

I'm not gonna lie....I'm beat!  So I'm going to post what I can and move on to a *hopefully* earlier bedtime.  : )  Hope this will help some of you out!

Let me start with this little gem on the page Homeschooling with a Classical Twist.  She's got some great Cycle 1 resources that you can print.  I LOVE the review pages!  A great way to start out the week! She's also got resources for the other cycles and Essentials.  I love these families who are so willing to devote their time, energy, and resources to provide some free printables to share.  What a blessing!

Science: parts of an animal cell
This blog post has a fun idea about how to make an animal cell.  She also has several other good Cycle 1 resources.
*Another edible cell activity that shows a plant and animal cell.

*This post at Homeschool with Winnie basically give you a complete set of resources for all of the subjects.  Thank you!

History: Greek/Roman gods
*We're going to color the sheet I printed from the link I posted above from Homeschooling with a Classical Twist.  I have a couple of Usborne books that we can look at (Encyclopedia of Ancient History; Romans; Greeks) and get some info from there.  Plus the link at Homeschool with Winnie gives a great explanation of each Greek god.

Latin: 1st Declension Noun Endings
*listen to the memory work and refer to the pages I printed from the Classical Twist link.

Geography: Hebrew Empire
Look at the places on the map and refer to our Encyclopedia that includes maps and info.  We could refer to stories in the Bible as well as some pictures and items that my hubby brought back from his trip to Israel.

Math: skip counting 5 and 6
*Use nickels to count by 5's
*Homeschool with Winnie link above has some videos that show skip counting for each number.

English: Prepositions
*Winnie has a video for this on her post as well : )

Hope you guys have a great week!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Book Summary (from Goodreads): The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

My thoughts....Once again, Laura Frantz has captured my heart and undivided attention with her newest novel, The Mistress of Tall Acre.  With each of Frantz' other books, once I started, I couldn't put it down. Let's just say a day later when I finished it, I was disappointed that I was done.  I wanted more!  

Frantz has a way of drawing you into a story through the setting and characters.  Her use of detail makes you feel like you've stepped through the pages of the book and back in time.  When an author can use the language of the time period without taking away from the flow of the just makes it even better.  It felt natural to be drawn in to Sophie's world, step through the rooms of her broken down estate, and experience her heartfelt emotions.  

Another strength of Frantz  is her ability to create romantic tension.  Wow.  You know that feeling...when your heart and stomach are fluttering like crazy when two characters are trying to figure out how they feel about each other.  Oh've got that in this book!  Both Sophie and Seamus had their reasons for being uninterested in any romantic attachments.  The internal and external conflicts between them were fantastically written...and done in a very clean and appropriate way.  It takes skill to create that level of tension.  

I think I want to read this book  : )  If you're reading this...go get it.  Historical Christian fiction at its finest!
**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review...which I gave.**

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classical Conversations Cycle 1, Week 2

Sunday afternoons are turning into my homeschool planning days, so I'd love to share with you a few things we're doing for Cycle 1, Week 2 in our Classical Conversations curriculum.

Latin: I saved the cards we used for Cycle 1 when we did it a couple of years ago and they still look great!  I was just going over to the blog Suzanne Shares to find them...and boom...she has a brand new blog post with all the Latin card printables in one spot!  Click here to get these great free printables!

Geography: I'm loving our newest Usborne book, along with another Usborne book we bought about 6 years ago, to look at some of the places in our memory work.  In the picture atlas, the kids love the flaps and different illustrations on each page.  There are some specifics that I'm not able to find as well, so for more detailed areas on the map I refer to the Encyclopedia of World Geography.  It's filled with lots of maps and information from basically every part of the world!  Lots of very interesting info!

Science: We're going to use the animal cards I printed last week along with watching another Baby Einstein video about animal habitats.  Yes, my kids are a little old for Baby Einstein, but they liked the real life animal pictures we saw on another video last week and the one we'll watch this week categorizes them as well.

History:  In years past I haven't tested the kids on CC material, but I thought this year we would try a weekly evaluation on each history sentence.  I really want this info to stick!  This week we will wrap up learning the 10 commandments.  The Go Fish Guys singing group also has a fun song about the 10 commandments that we've also been listening to.

Timeline: I didn't do so well last year with the Timeline stuff, but I'm trying to at least hit on a few of the Timeline aspects one day/week.  We're also listening to the Timeline song more often.  I think the Timeline song is fantastic and definitely one that I hope sticks in my kids' memory!  I'm using some other Usborne books that bought just to hit a few highlights, but the main one is the Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. It has A LOT of information, so I pick and choose little segments to share with the kids.  I find it fascinating.  They're kind of in and out at this age, but if they remember a little bit I'm happy : ).  Keeping it real.

Hope you all have a great week!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

Book Summary: Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

My thoughts....It's sometimes hard to remember that the fairy tale retellings Melanie Dickerson has written, including The Golden Braid, are Young Adult novels...because I enjoy them so much!  This is Dickerson's 6th fairy tale retelling and I have read each one.  I love the concept as well as the way Dickerson has taken these stories and woven in elements of faith, adventure, and clean romance.  While this novel could be read as a stand alone, it does have connections with some of the characters and events in the previous novels.  I would especially recommend reading The Princess Spy as there are some neat connections from that story to this one.

From the beginning of The Golden Braid, there were moments of action, mystery, and some romantic tension.  Rapunzel herself has a pure, innocent nature, but she is also driven to learn.  When she's unable to learn to read in her early life, she spends her time learning all that she can....knife throwing, painting, and whatever else anyone can teach her.  The combination of these aspects of her character make her interesting and fun to read.  The trials she goes through, the tests of her character, also make her stand out as well-rounded character.  Rapunzel also tries to honor her "mother" and respect her even as she is betrayed and mistreated by her.  As a mom of a young daughter, this is the type of character I want her reading: young women who are creative, have compassion for others, yet stand strong in their faith and convictions. I wish I would've had books like this as a young person.

Sir Gerek is a knight.  He's brave and handsome, but could also be prideful, arrogant, and greedy.  In many ways your typical male hero, but as the story went on, he experienced growth and transformation.  He had to face some of the struggles he had in his past and was humbled through dealing with an injury.  He most certainly had his flaws and clung to the idea that he had to control his circumstances instead of letting God have control, but by the end of the novel Sir Gerek truly became an admirable hero.  

This novel had a satisfying balance. There was a clean romance element, but some psychological tension, suspense, and adventure. I also liked that I saw a background perspective of some of the events that happened in The Princess Spy.  Overall, I think this is a great novel for all readers.  I would definitely recommend it and enjoyed it as one of my favorites from Melanie Dickerson!

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in order to give an unbiased review**

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gearing up for homeschooling year #6! Cycle 1, week 1!

I don't think it really feels like we've been doing this 6 years already.  I started doing some activities with my daughter when she was three.  I had a little girl her age over, too, and we would have "school" during the week while the little girl's mom would keep my one year old.  Now my girl is going into 3rd grade and that one year old is now starting first grade!  Eeek!  The time is really flying.  Even though I haven't been the most creative, motivated, organized homeschool Momma (trust see a lot of the highlight reel on here), I've really tried to make these years as fun and memorable for my kids that I can.  I don't want to take any moments we have together for granted.  Who knows what next year, next month, or next week will hold.  I'm always open to what we feel like God is leading us to do with this homeschool journey.  If He directs us to school in the future, I want to trust that He knows best.  But until then, homeschooling is the journey we feel God has led us on and I want to make the most of it. The part I love the most is just getting to do fun things with my kids and see them grow in their love for each other. Fun is always a big part of my educational philosophy.  They are kids. I want them to be kids and be free from the pressures of life as long as I can...because good grief, we have enough of that as adults!  : )  With that is what we are planning to do this year!

Bible: I actually bought a Bible curriculum this year.  As I'm planning out our week I'm really loving it!  We're doing Apologia's What We Believe series that begins with "Who Is God?".  I also bought the junior notebooking journal to go along with it.  I think it's right on target for my kids and I hope we really enjoy using it this year.

Classical Conversations: We've done Cycles 1, 2, and 3 already!  Yay!  So now we're going to start back over and do them all over again.  And honestly, the first year I did CC I really didn't know what I was doing.  We also came into the year late so we had a lot of catching up to I had a newborn and cancer that year.  Yikes.  So I'm looking forward to seeing all that we're going to learn this year!  I bought some Usborne books to supplement what we're learning.  Here are some suggestions:

*I also traveled back over to Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood's blog for some ideas. Great resource. I'm honestly amazed at the organization and amount of info.
*Here's a helpful post with Cycle 1 Resources by Sola Gratia Mom
*And one of my favorite bloggers, Melody Stroud at And Here We Go!....her Cycle 1 Week 1 post.
Classical Conversations will be our Science and Social Studies for the year as I plan to do expansion activities with the weekly CC memory work.

Math: We've been doing Math U See since my daughter was in first we're sticking with what works! : )  My son will now start doing it this year.

Grammar: We've also been doing Shurley Grammar for a few years and I really like it.  We didn't finish Level 2 last year, so we're going to continue that this year with my third grader and start Level 1 with my first grader.

Spelling: I've really liked this free spelling curriculum the past couple of years.  I was kind of thinking about switching to something a little harder for my third grader, but honestly this has worked so well for her, why change?  The first grade list has printable activities for every day of the week, which I really like.  The third grade list just has one printable per week, but it works.  I really like free stuff ; ).

Reading: I'm really going to try to do better about doing read alouds with the kids.  A friend sent me a couple of unit studies that you can do with some children's chapter books, so that was motivating.  We're going to start with Caddie Woodlawn, but I have some others I would really like to read with the kids.  Here were a few of my favorites when I've taught in the past:
Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
A Cricket in Times Square
The Westing Game
Little House in the Big Woods
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Cheaper by the Dozen
...and lots more.  Big plans here : ). I also have Abeka readers and some old reading comprehension activities that I plan to do with my third grader to build her fluency.
I have some phonics videos and phonics charts that I plan to do with my first grader to reinforce what he learned last year.

Handwriting: I really want my kids to have neat handwriting!  I've been using Handwriting Without Tears since both kids were in Kindergarten and we have all loved it.  They have been really self-motivated to do well with it and I've been pleased at the progress.  The curriculum is also very affordable and will last the whole year.

I hope you all have a great school year!  I'm off to do more prep for tomorrow.  Leave it to me to save a lot until the last minute ; ).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Book Summary (from Goodreads): 
The popular writer, blogger, and television personality reveals with humor and style how Jesus' extravagant grace is the key to dealing with life's biggest challenge: people.

The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don't like, don't understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life.

Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus' grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.

My thoughts....
This might sound kinda bad, but I honestly don't read a lot of Christian non-fiction.  There are some amazing authors out there, pouring out some profound truth....but reading is typically my escape into another time, place, and with fictional heros and heroines. But I am SO glad I was able to get my hands on a copy of this book!

I've followed Jen Hatmaker's Facebook posts for a little while, so I was developing a love for her humor and honesty.  I gravitate towards a public figure who can relate to the struggle of being a wife, mom, and Christian woman in this world.  Jen has become like a sanity-whisperer in the otherwise insane days of my pastor-wife, three "spicy" kids, stay-at-home mom life. Not that I always agreed on every stance she's taken or comment she's made.  But I could appreciate her heart and her desire to love God and others.  So...I wanted to read her book and see a little deeper into her heart.

I was not disappointed ; ).  This book not only held my attention (I can tend to fade out when my book choice is a little too heavy), but she had me laughing, crying, and thinking.  I loved that she balanced out the chapters of deeper thought and challenge with laugh out loud humor in the next chapter.  I have SO many things highlighted in this book.  Here's a little taste:

                                                                                            "You don't need to wait another day to figure out your calling.  You're living it, dear one. Your gifts have a place right now, in the job you have, in your stage of life, with the people who surround you. Calling is virtually never big or famous work; that is rarely the way the kingdom comes.

It shows up quietly, subversively, almost invisibly. Half the time, it is unplanned--just the stuff of life in which a precious human steps in, the good news personified."
So relevant to me right now, as were so many of the words in this book. 
 It spoke to me in ways that touch on notes of longing and loneliness.  I want to have a supper club!  And supper club friends that I can share lots of private jokes with and go on family vacations with (people actually do that?!).  But as I read and wished I were part of Jen and company's group, I wasn't left with just longing.  I was left with a challenge that if I want change, then I need to be an instrument of change.  Hmmm....supper club anyone ; )?

I would definitely say this is geared towards the female reader.'s a great read.  It covers yoga pants and building your marriage. It includes recipes and food for the soul.  I always offer this disclaimer, and I believe Jen would, too.  Don't just take her words as the ultimate truth.  Always seek God and His Word as the bottom line.
Happy reading!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I gave.**

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Trip to Remember

  From July 16-27th, my husband and I, along with several other students and adults from our hometown of Eastman, GA, were able to embark on a journey.  We got on a plane bound for Central Asia, making a short layover in Paris along the way.  I will try to put into words what this trip meant for my husband and I in particular, but it's going to be difficult.  There are so many people we met that will change us forever, so many moments that God showed His hand and's hard to put it all into words.  My hope is that this will give you a glimpse into a little window of our lives and inspire you to go or send others, but most of all, pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send workers and a great revival will come about.

After a 7 hour or so flight from Atlanta to Paris, we had an intentional long layover so we would have time to explore the city before our next flight.  This was a dream come true for me!  I had studied French in high school, so many of the sites that we were about to visit had been on my radar for quite a while.  I particularly wanted to see the Eiffel Tower.  I couldn't have been a more perfect day in Paris.  The sun was shining, but there was a nice breeze blowing to make all of our moving around the city bearable.  The tower was breathtaking...definitely living up to my expectations! : ) Due to our very limited time, we were only able to look at it from the outside and weren't able to go up.  I guess we'll have to save that for another day!  We took several metro stops ahead, stopping at the Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame, and a palace along the way...we were moving fast so we weren't able to get any pics of the inside.  But I was definitely a happy girl to even get a little taste of Paris.

Next stop...Istanbul, Turkey.  Many of you know our story about why Turkey is a special place in our hearts, but here's a little overview.  Basically last year our family, minus Seth, went on a family trip to Baltimore, MD.  Our last night there Joe took the kids for a swim.  At the pool there was a lifeguard, a young man who was 19 years old, from Turkey.  Joe had a short conversation with him, but an impression was made.  Enough for us to seek him out the next morning and pass him a booklet with Joe's contact information on the back.  Before we made it back to Georgia, our new friend was texting my husband.  This began our journey and connection with Turkey.  Our new friend ended up coming to visit us his last week in the states, and that sealed the deal.  This guy was like part of our family.  There was a connection made that crossed cultural and religious barriers.  Over the course of the year, while he was back home and at college, we stayed in touch.  He introduced us to his family members and friends as his "American family."  At the end of last year we learned that there would be a group trip to Turkey scheduled for 2015 and we immediately wanted to go.  No doubt. Thanks to many friends and family, the means to be on this trip were provided.  Our hearts were already in love with this country, and the people in it, before we arrived.

Our first day in Istanbul we were put into groups and given an "Amazing Race" challenge.  We had to navigate around the city, which included crossing, by ferry, from the Asian side of Turkey to the European side.  We had to get lunch for ourselves, find a place to exchange money, perform tasks like buy and drink one of Turkey's popular beverages that tasted like sour milk, and eat some Turkish delight.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous as I have no sense of direction, but thankfully Joe and some of the others in our group led us in the right direction!  We saw some amazing places and it was also a great way to build our confidence in getting around the city.  Our final meeting up place was at Sultanamet, an area of town that has the impressive Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofia, another religious building. We were later able to tour the inside of the Aya Sofia.  It was amazing.

The Aya Sofia is such an interesting contrast to me.  It was built during the Byzantine Empire as a place to worship and honor the Christian God.  There is artwork, mosaics, and paintings that depict the cross, angels, Jesus, and other people in the Bible.  When the land was conquered by the Turks, the Arabic script was added in several places in the building. You can easily see the large, round discs that were mounted on the side of the main room.  We were told that Muslim art does not include pictures, but just fancy Arabic script from the Koran.  Just as the Aya Sofia represents this religious contrast, so does other places in this country.  All seven of the churches spoken of in the book of Revelation are all located in Turkey.  There were also various missionary journeys taken by Paul in the New Testament, one of which was located in Troas, which is known as Alexandra-Troas in Turkey.  We were actually able to visit this area of the country.

These are some of the ruins at Troas. This stone arch was actually built after the time of Paul, but it is still the area where he was. We drove quite a distance to reach this part of Turkey.  As we drove up, there were no big signs that said, "Here is where Paul was!" We didn't expect that, but it gave us the opportunity to share to some of our Turkish friends why this area was significant to us.  Even though it was only about an hour and a half away from their hometown, they had never been here or heard the story about it.  The ruins were just off the side of the fences or museums.  We were able to explore all around.

Across the road from this archway was an area that students from the University of Ankara were excavating.  This was really neat.  They gave us 15 minutes to go into the area before they closed it up.  The picture on the right was one of the pieces they have uncovered and had put in a big cage to protect from looters.  There were several ornate pieces like this one.  The view from the area was amazing.  It was the first time I was able to go to a place that those in the Bible had walked and visited.  My love of history and social studies combined with my love of God's Word was at a peak that day.

Another fun place we were able to visit was the ancient city of Troy and the ruins there.  Our Turkish friends called it Truva.  This is not the original wooden horse that was used in the story of Troy, but it was definitely a fun replica that we were able to climb inside of.  Here is our group posed in front.  Definitely a good time of fellowship with friends.

A big part of our trip was spent helping those who have been displaced from their home countries due to a variety of circumstances, often by war or because of their religious beliefs.  By helping, I mean we were able to spend time with them, love on them, and even do some English classes.  Some of these children are living in a place that is not their home, they are not able to go to school, and it's even hard for them to know how to communicate.  It was a privilege to be able to push them on the swings, watch them swim in the sea, and play games with them.  They are so smart, hungry for knowledge, and would listen and participate attentively as we were studying in a local park outside under a tree.  If this doesn't offer perspective, I'm not sure what will.  We are so very blessed in our country to have what we do.  We take so much for granted.

For about three days of our trip we were also able to do a youth conference.  This was another great opportunity to minister to a different group of young people (also from another country who were living in Turkey) who have a heart for God and want to learn, along with us, more about Him.  I love that we could hear songs of worship in their language and through translators see our God span cultural and language differences.  He is a God of the nations.  This conference opened my eyes as well.  God is at work in places that we don't even realize.  While we are led to believe that people in some of these countries want to destroy us, God is working behind the scenes to give people life.  I am so glad that He used this time to open my eyes to see what He is truly doing and give me a love for new brothers and sisters in Christ that I may never have met.

And one of the highlights of our trip!  Seeing our dear friend, Tunc (pronounced Toonch), again and meeting his girlfriend (Pinar), sister (Simge--pronounced Sim-yay), and mother.  This picture was taken soon after we met up and there was lots of love going around. I couldn't give them big enough heart was bursting.  We had a wonderful two days in their hometown of Canakkale, a beautiful city surrounded by water.  It was very windy there, which gave us the consistent windblown look ; ).  Tunc's family was so hospitable, providing us with a delicious meal cooked by Simge and a nice place to spend the night.  I wish we would've had more time with them, but I'm grateful for the time we had.  Our hope is that this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship between all of us.  I'm thankful for technology and the ability to stay in touch with them to send them our love from a distance.  I'm hopeful that we will be able to see each other again in the future.

So that's our trip in a nutshell!  I would love to share more details with any of you who are interested in more specific information.  Just contact me personally so we can chat : ).  We thoroughly enjoyed our time and we saw many people, places, and things that will impact us for a lifetime.  Continue to pray for this part of the world and the people who live there.  God bless!