Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Girl Talk: A BookLook Blogger Review

Faith Girlz new devotional, Girl Talk: 52 Weekly Devotions by Lois Walfrid Johnson, is written for preteens and young teens. As the introduction explains, this devotional is intended to help girls who are growing up think through everyday and important decisions in their life. Each week has an introductory story which develops the main idea of a central chosen verse. There are daily journal prompts to engage young ladies in thoughtful responses to how they can apply the story and Scripture to their own lives. The last day brings the story around full circle to the Scripture. 

The layout of this devotional and style of writing is excellent. I think the stories are engaging and thought provoking. The third person limited perspective will enable girls to see themselves in the stories while giving enough distance from the story to hear the message. There are a variety of personalities presented and many real-life situations for girls to think about. The stories will often also help girls have empathy towards others facing difficulties they aren't experiencing themselves.

While I think this is a well-written, thought provoking devotional, be aware that not all pre-teens and even young teens will be ready to discuss some of the topics. It would be a good idea to read through the index and peruse the topics and decide if this is a good fit. Some of the topics are a little heavy and while important to address, you will want to make sure they are reflecting your own family's values with regards to thing like boy/girl relationships, alcohol, etc.

I personally am also cautious about how much I push the idea of dating and boyfriend/girlfriend on my daughters. While we do talk about their future and dating to a degree, we approach the idea of relationship without a heavy emphasis on dating, more on building friendships. Because of this I am going to wait to have my own pre-teen read this. I still highly recommend this devotion, but do use discernment before giving this to a pre-teen/young teen in your life.

Disclaimer: I received this title as a part of BookLook bloggers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. These opinions are my own.

The Returning: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

 Every once in a while I break away from my typical novel choices (Christian historical fiction) and try something new. I was intrigued by this title and Rachelle Dekker is a new author for me, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to review The Returning from Tyndale House Publishers

Set in a futuristic world far removed from our current reality, The Returning explores what the world may look like in our society. Dekker has an easy style which makes her writing flow naturally and reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle. Her characters are engaging and believable in their roles and the story makes you really consider faith and its role in society as a whole. 

There is an element of science-fiction and fantasy because of the futuristic setting and miraculous occurrences surrounding the characters although it is not intended to feel magical in anyway. As I read I could genuinely picture this as a potential future for our world, no matter how removed from current reality it actually is.

After receiving the title I realized this is the third and final book in The Seer Collection. I would highly recommend reading the first two novels in this series before getting to this one so you have more understanding about what is going on. I did enjoy this book, but because I have not yet read the first two it took some time to really understand what was going on.

 Here are some thoughts from the author about the novel...

You talk about the power of belief in the book. What is the purpose of faith,
and what makes faith so powerful in people’s lives?
Belief and faith are everything. We form our own realities. We make judgments
based on the past and what we think the future will bring;then we shape our idea of what we are capable of around those beliefs. Imagine if we truly believed we were infinite sons and daughters of the creator. How different would the world look then? When we believe and have faith in who the Father calls us, then the world looks pretty different.

How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers?
I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same

If you are a fan of science fiction, this is an excellent title. This is also a great book to pick up if you are looking for something a little different in style. You will be entertained as well as challenged in your faith, which is a uniquely wonderful aspect of this novel. I am personally looking forward to going back and reading the first two in this series. 

Disclaimer: I received this title as a part of the Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Photo Restoration

One of my new hobbies is researching our family history. My side of the family tree was compiled by my aunts and uncles, but my husband's was a mystery to us. I've been using family information from my husband's uncle, a second cousin, and This is not an advertisement for them, but they have been a great resource! 

The other part of my research has been scanning and restoring photos from my husband's great-grandmother as well as many photos from my family. I've taken a little break from digital scrapbooking as much to do this. Photoshop is an amazing thing! Here are some of the before and after results...

My husband's family

 My Family


I'm certainly not an expert photo restorer, but I'm learning as I go and having so much fun doing it!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Peek at our WeeK: January 9-13

Our first week back went very well! It always does though. By the time we start back after our break everyone is ready for routine, especially me! That being said, our routine was still not quit back because we had a nice little snowstorm over the weekend. My poor kids still had school while all the neighbors were off, but they said they didn't mind and understood. Not to mention the high was in the 20s, which I know is not a big deal for some of you! We, however, are not used to those temps here in the South.

Here are a few highlights of the week...

Rose (6th grade): Resurrection to Reformation Unit 19

 We utilize a number of other wonderful resources. This is a World History book from Usborne. We have been given so many wonderful resources between the reviews I write and the generosity of family and friends. I've bought a few, but only a very few beyond our regular curriculum. Many times we use these for research or further study of things that are interesting to the girls. Here, Rose is doing some research for one of her boxes using the book and our globe.

We finished up a short unit on fractions in Math Mammoth and this week began chapter 5 in Principals of Mathematics again. This chapter on fractions did not quite click with Rose, so we took a break from the book to study them in a different curriculum. This was exactly the right course to take. The chapter is going very well this time around!

Rose really loves the notebooking pages from Heart of Dakota. They are so very beautiful! Lots of paintings, maps, and space to write what she is learning. We use Frixion erasable pens and they write beautifully on the pages which are a little slick. Anytime she needs to draw she uses the Frixion pens for outlining and skinny sharpie markers to add color details. 

Beth (4th grade): Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 35

My girls love grammar! I love that they love grammar. There is so much good that comes from understanding the structure and parts of sentences. "New" research suggests there is no benefit from learning to diagram sentences. I disagree mostly because of experience. I do not claim to be a researcher or to have studied extensively, but my experience as an English teachers has shown me otherwise. I have 9 years of experience teaching 7th and 8th grade English. The students who come into my classes with a strong grammar background, including diagramming sentence, are better writers. They know not only how to form sentences, but how to add to them in a creative and correct manner. So that's my soapbox about grammar and writing! 

I feel a little teary as we end our studies in Preparing this week. It is such a rich guide, full of new things and introducing so many topics. One of my favorite things about this guide is the introduction to other religions. I know that may seem odd to some, but I love that we explored several other belief systems in a way that helped my daughter see why we believe the truth of God's Word. I do not shy away from telling my girls about these things because I want them to know it is okay to come to us and to God with questions concerning their faith. Beth accepted Christ as her Savior when she was four. There is so much growth which will happen for her as time passes and I want her to feel free to come to us with any questions she has. She will encounter other religions and we believe it is important we introduce those to her so she does not feel like we have been hiding anything from her as she grows up. 

Grace (1st grade): Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 27

 Grace told me this week she absolutely loves school! She never complains, gets excited about everything we do, and usually tries her best. Sometimes she does rush through an assignment, but that is usually because she is so excited to get to something new. If she had to pick one thing she probably doesn't love as much as others I think it would be Bible memory. She does this very well, but seems to feel it takes too long. She likes to move quickly! I am very pleased at how her understanding of the verses is growing. Where at the beginning of the guide I usually had to guide her to an understanding, she is getting it more and more all on her own. It is such a beautiful thing to see her spiritual growth through our studies!

This week we cooked cornbread for her history project. It was delicious! This was my first time cooking it from scratch, but it is a recipe we we will come back to again I'm sure. We have only seven more weeks to spend in this sweet guide. Grace is excited to move forward. I'm sad to see it pass. It is bittersweet with her each time we finish a guide because she is our youngest.

In looking ahead I am considering using a different text in both Bigger Hearts and Preparing Hearts. Some of the resources from Master Books may be a better fit for us. We do want to keep the feeling of living history though so I will see what I think as time gets closer. 

Other highlights...

Rose scored 4 points in her first basketball game with Upwards! 

Beth made a Snow Panda sculpture once it started melting enough to stick together. We don't usually get snowman or snowball making snow! 

Grace cheered in her first Upwards basketball game! She is totally in her element and I'm totally out of mine with this, but she is doing a great job and this program is very good, and probably the only cheer program that we would be comfortable with our girls participating! 

Busy week and lots more busy weeks to come this year. I'm glad it got off to a good start!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 Review: A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}
If you are like me, you are always on the lookout for excellent resources for your family as you homeschool. The yearly membership to one of the first resources I recommend to my friends who are considering homeschooling. The site has grown incredibly over the last few years since it launched in 2012. This can be a complete curriculum for your entire crew all the way from preschool through high school graduation! I have been impressed over and over as I search through the site and see what is available. 
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}
The core subjects are solid, so if you are searching for a curriculum this is a great landing spot. Expert teachers and veteran homeschool parents have crafted excellent courses that are worth far and above the subscription cost. The value here is just off the charts! My background is in English and History and I've been very pleased with not only the quality of these subjects but the wide variety of study material. I had my husband peruse the math portion as this is not my strongest field. He was especially impressed with the high school leveled courses which are available. You can easily plan a course of study you wish your children to complete or even allow them to choose an area of interest and know it is completely safe. The science courses have a biblical worldview which fits well with our families beliefs. I am also excited to implement many of the Bible teaching options. Many of these courses include video teaching which is always a bonus! Sometimes because I feel more confident allowing someone else to convey the teaching, but also because my girls love it when we use any kind of video learning. 
The core subjects are only the beginning! The electives offered range from foreign languages to homesteading to photography to architecture to film making... I was actually overwhelmed with all that is offered. There were a number of courses I was interested in working through, and because a subscription is for the entire household, I can! This week my girls will be allowed to look at what is offered and choose an elective which interests them to complete. I know they are going to be very excited about this because most of our courses are planned by me alone.
 The final aspect of this site are the amazing resources available for planning, grading, and record keeping. Not only is there a wonderful planner available and multiple printables for planning, there are step-by-step instructions to walk you through the process. High school transcripts and help in knowing how to plan is also available. This is amazing! There are innumerable courses of study for homeschooled high school students, but I have yet to see as complete a resource anywhere else. Everything you will need to complete a full course of study for high school is available at your fingertips. I'm not quite to this place yet, but I am so pleased to know this is available when the time comes whether I will be looking at a full course of study or a few courses to fill in the gaps.
Currently I'm excited to once again use as a supplement to our regular curriculum. In addition to allowing the girls to each choose an elective to study this year I'm also already using many of the wonderful games to add to our learning. A few we have already enjoyed are some language arts and math games which gave the girls a chance to think about both subjects a little differently. Application of prior knowledge for practice is much more fun when placed in the format of a game! 
Daily Puzzlers was a fun language arts game that incorporates spelling, vocabulary, and logic. A jumble of letters is given and then clues to produce several words from the mix. On the website there are printable letter tiles or older students may be happy to simply write the letters down. We own several letter tile games already so we just picked the letters from those. Rose (11) and Beth (9) were quick to know the answers. Grace (7) struggled a little more. She is great with spelling, but was not as quick to catch onto the vocabulary clues. By the time we got to the end she was getting the hang of it, so as we play this more I believe she will greatly benefit. 

Under the Everyday Games section we played both the multiplication and addition versions of Happy New Year 2017 Odds and Evens. We are very much a game family and this was a fun one for the girls. I modified the game slightly by using some 9-sided dice we already had. They rolled and either added or multiplied the numbers. Once the correct fact was deciphered they would place their piece (zoo animals in our case) on the next even or odd dated square. This is a great way to practice math facts because it is fun. Rather than the drudgery of copying down facts on paper, randomly having facts to calculate feels less structured. Because the girls love playing games anyway they jumped at the chance to do this! I snatched a little video of them while they thought I was just taking pictures. So you can hear them correcting their sister some and there is of course some friendly competition.
SchoolhouseTeachers Review
Music: Monkeys Spinning Monkeys Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

 Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below and don't forget to head over to the main review from The Homeschoool Review Crew to read more reviews about this wonderful site! 
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}
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Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!