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!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week in Review: October 13-17

I could tell you this week was so much better than last week...but I'll go ahead and be truthful. Honestly, the temptation is there to gloss over it, but seriously, this week was worse than last. At least I can pinpoint the reasons why and I have a plan in place for next week.

First, let me share why things fell apart once again, because I'm one to spend a lot of time analyzing the why of everything. The week why was easy: Daddy wasn't around. We are incredibly blessed that my husband's schedule allows us a lot of time together as a family and that he is an incredibly involved daddy! This week he attended a conference for our denomination (The Christian and Missionary Alliance) which was just a short distance away. That meant he was here, but only early in the morning and late at night. This seemed to totally throw them off emotionally. We did get to celebrate with him on Tuesday as he was recognized for 15 years in the ministry and that was fun. (The quality is horrid {translate via iPad} because I forgot my camera at home!!!!)

Since this was during a business meeting the girls did quite a bit of schoolwork during the meeting which was great, but that didn't involve any of our Heart of Dakota history stuff because that definitely wouldn't have worked! They quietly did history, math, reading, grammar, vocabulary, and probably a few things I'm forgetting. Then Daddy took us to a nice restaurant and things fell apart! I won't go into details, but I'll just say it wasn't pretty and I was never so glad to be leaving an eatery.

So, after that, here are just a few pictures of what happened the rest of the week...it isn't very exciting, but we made it through! Read through to the end to read my game plan for next week...

Grace: Preschool

A blog about how I do reading is going to be in the works soon because I get asked about it a lot. My girls are all three reading well above grade-level and I am blessed that we are not faced with many of the reading challenges I know so many struggle through. Grace is blowing me away with her reading. She is becoming more and more expressive and has even started changing voices for characters at times! She asked me on this particular morning if she could read to her polar bear instead of me which I thought it was just fine.

Just about the only other thing we did was her Rod and Staff E book. She did tons of pages in this. I usually restrict her to 3 a day, but since everything else was crazy if she asked to do more I said, "Sure!" The look on her face each time was priceless and I'm wondering if I should restrict her at all?

We did a little math, but not much to speak of and she'll be moving out of those books really soon.

Beth and Rose: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 7 and Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 25

I know this is totally not Heart of Dakota or Charlotte Mason-y, but we did almost all the history on one day this week. Don't tell on me! Because of our crazy week I was okay with stalling some on other subjects, but really didn't want to get behind in history. We mostly read and did oral narration this week. I'll admit we skipped out on Bible, poetry, and all of the history activities. Those are really some of my favorite parts, but I feel okay about it because I'm not behind. 

We did get through the weekly vocabulary and I'm very pleased with both girls' effort on this. I'm still helping Beth quite a bit with looking things up and I did the same for Rose this week since they were doing it simultaneously with only one dictionary.

This is a really fun picture of how school looks sometimes...underneath a table! Our L-shaped school desks often get sat underneath instead of at because the girls just want a change. If no one else is in the room Rose will quietly slip under the table without my even noticing sometimes.

The End of the Week...

The end of the week was quite sweet. On Fridays I teach piano lessons to three sisters very close in age to my own girls. They have become close friends over the last few years and my girls look forward to Fridays and their time together. They get along so well and we are so blessed to have them in our lives! For movie night the girls watched one of my childhood favorites, Muppet Babies, on YouTube and enjoyed a pizza.

Next Week's Plan...

So, my plan for next week...prayer. Now before you tune out because it is what you always hear, just give me a minute. I have always, always, struggled to maintain a consistent time with God alone. While I'm striving to do better this year, I'm still not doing great, and although I should fall to my knees when my plans fall apart, I didn't do that once this past week. I didn't respond well at all and had a hard time regaining my own composure. When this is true, how in the world can I expect my girls to regain theirs? When my own temper flairs, my words to them to control their emotions mean nothing.

I've decided to take the advice I've given my girls. They have each committed their hearts and lives to Christ meaning the Holy Spirit is there to help them when it gets hard to live in a Christ-like way. I have encouraged them repeatedly to seek the Holy Spirit's help to them stay calm, respond appropriately, and think of others first. Good advice right? I think perhaps if I had followed this advice myself we would have had a better week.

So next week will be a new week. In the midst of world-wide turmoil and fear abounding, we will have peace. We will have joy. We will have love. When learning happens in the process, that will just be the icing on the cake.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Secrets of Sloane House: A BookLook Blogger Review

Shelley Gray takes her readers into the world of Chicago, 1893, through a mystery filled with suspense in Secrets of Sloane House: A Chicago World's Fair Mystery. Both the social elite and those who served them play a role in the dramatic mystery. The opulence of the wealthy during this era is highlighted as Rosalind Perry searches for the truth about her missing sister. Her hunt takes her on an unexpected journey as she looks for answers to a fearful question.

Gray is a new author to me and I appreciated her attention to historical detail of this time period. I didn't have trouble placing where we were historically and thoroughly enjoyed all that the novel provided by way of information about the Chicago World's Fair. I knew a little about it, but not very much and this backdrop was a fun and interesting setting I'd never read about in this way.

I was taken by surprise with this novel and honestly didn't know how it would end until the last chapter. I don't typically gravitate towards mystery novels, but this one was a lot of fun for me. I shy away from anything too suspenseful because they typically affect my sleep. While there was suspense, it was not so much that I disliked the book.

I also liked that the main characters grew throughout the pages. My favorite novels are the ones in which a character or two grows and learns more about life, themselves, and God. This is an excellent example of spiritual and personal growth. I also liked that while God is evident throughout and the characters seek His guidance, it didn't feel preachy at all.

Reading this novel has set me on a path to learn more about the World's fair and I have been fascinated to see many pictures from it. I do hope another in this series is published soon because I will definitely pick it up to read!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week in Review: October 6-10

Well...the following pictures need a bit of a disclaimer. They look great...and in no way represent what this week was actually like. You see, I wasn't snapping the photos of the crying, procrastinating, or storming off...I mean, I'm not trying to hide those things, but who actually takes those shots? I can't pinpoint an issue exactly, just little things. There were some bad attitudes, a bit of disorganization on my part, and unplanned circumstances. We didn't do anything new or difficult either, but boy am I thankful we get to start over tomorrow!


Grace actually had a really good week and was the easiest to teach! We worked with the letter O, which you would think is fairly easy to write, but we struggled a bit with this one. Partly because she wanted to hurry through it I think. We conquered capitol O however by the end of the week!

Reading is so easy for her now and we're easing through the Abeka 1st grade readers to solidify her phonics instruction. Once finished with these we will begin All About Spelling level 1 to continue with phonics.

We started Rod and Staff's level E book from the ABC series. It is hard to pace her through these books. She wants to do as many pages as possible, but I'm trying to limit her to 3 a day. When I let her do as many as she wants she tends to hurry and not really try for neatness which totally defeats the purpose. She doesn't care to color much anymore in this book which is fine by me because she takes more time and is very careful when that isn't in her mind for the future.

Grace loves reading with me on the couch. I've started doing her work mid-morning, around 10:00 am after I've had time to work with her sisters on history, spelling, and language arts. This has been a really good plan and is working great for her. Her sisters work in the school room independently and we enjoy a little cuddle.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 6

Beth very much enjoyed her cursive book and we should finish it up this week. We'll move into joining cursive letters together, probably with a book Rose worked part-way through a couple of years ago. She was excited to get to color van Gogh's painting, Starry Night, since she studied it in her homeschool class last week. She took some liberties with the colors, but really enjoyed it!

She's getting quite good at history vocabulary each week. She still needs some help looking words up, but it is mostly just because she gets frustrated from not being able to find the words quickly. Her sentences are really quite good and thoughtful. I sometimes think she is creating an entire story with her sentences!

Math...oh math...Usually this is the subject which Rose struggles to complete in a timely manner, but for some reason Beth just had trouble this week. We did have a new concept, but she quickly mastered the idea. For whatever reason she had a difficult time staying on task. We struggled through, however, and did get finished with all I had assigned last week.

The girls have been working on a model of Jamestown together while I read their history for a couple of weeks and completed it this week. It was a lot of fun for them to color and build together and a wonderful way to occupy their hands while they listened to their history readings.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory; Unit 24

We began multiplication last year. The concept was mastered, but memorizing the facts has been a struggle. We started back this week with studying the facts and will go through them over the next month. I love that with homeschooling I can do whatever I need to in order for my girls to succeed. Sometimes it means reviewing...
...Sometimes it means trying something new. In addition to the regular curriculum from Math Mammoth we are using Math Sudoku and Math Fun-Flaps from Scholastic to review the facts each day in addition to flash cards. It seems to really be helping and as we head towards more complex multiplication knowing the times tables will be vital to Rose. 
The Fun-Flaps are like those old-school fortune tellers. I remember playing with one once which a friend gave me. When I brought it home my parents explained why they did not want me to play with these from a biblical perspective, and so I didn't, but boy were they fun! This is a really cool way to practice the facts and there is a type of word problem when you lift the flaps to further review. 

Math was a HUGE victory this week, but history was great too. We studied about the Dark Ages and Vikings. I wouldn't say it was the most fun part of history, but it was incredibly interesting for both of us. Beth has enjoyed listening in. I've been keeping the girls separate until a couple of weeks ago as I read as suggested by Heart of Dakota, but his is working out best for us. 
The end of the week was super fun with family pictures! So, even if it was a little rough, we did have a great time with a wonderful friend who took pictures for us. Looking forward to a NEW week starting tomorrow and praying for it to be a FUN week instead of a thank-the-Lord-we-made-it-through week!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Inseparable: A BookLook Blogger Review

Photo Credit: Inscribedstudies.com

I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to review all of the titles in the Inscribed Bible Studies Series. While these studies are fresh and new, their message is the ageless truth of God's holy Scriptures. Each is unique with it's own author and presentation. They are a perfect way to engage my generation, both believers and seekers. 

When we are made new in Christ at our rebirth, we are a new creation, but what does that look like? I was raised in the church and we have a heritage of faith stretching back generations. I'm overwhelmingly blessed by this, but because of this I didn't have an overwhelming and dramatic conversion testimony and recognized my need for a savior at a very young age. I also didn't feel a struggle with my identity in Christ growing up. It wasn't until I was married and had my girls that I really started to struggle with my identity. I'm sure this is a common emotion wives and mothers go through as we serve and meet needs throughout the weeks and years. Being on call as Mommy can really be tough sometimes!

As I struggled with my own identity I came to realize I had never really placed my identity in Christ and that was all I really needed. Inseperable takes us through Romans to discover what our  new identity really is. No matter where you are in you walk with Christ this is a great place to begin. Romans is full of such great stuff and Ashely Linne's easy writing style makes it simple and down-to earth.

I really like how the sections are broken down into three main areas:  Our initial transformation, how our lives should be changing, and what to expect for the future. This clearly written study is like a road-map for what happens after we follow the Savior. I need to be reminded of these things to make sure I am following Christ as fully as I can. I also think it would make a great study for new believers as a discipleship class.

No matter where you are in your journey with the Lord this study will challenge and exhort you to draw close to the Savior and find contentment in your identity as His child.

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Just Rise Up!: A BookLook Blogger Review

Photo Credit: Inscribedstudies.com
I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to review all of the titles in the Inscribed Bible Studies Series. While these studies are fresh and new, their message is the ageless truth of God's holy Scriptures. Each is unique with it's own author and presentation. They are a perfect way to engage my generation, both believers and seekers. 

The cover of this study makes me feel energized! Full of energy and life Just Rise Up! calls us to live a life that proclaims Christ with every moment we live. Telling others about our relationship with the Savior can be a daunting proposition, but this wonderful Bible study will help you realize that there is so much more to sharing our faith than what we typically think of as evangelism.

 Sarah Francis Martin breaks down each chapter into five shorter readings and includes a spot for journaling. I love how I was encouraged to really think about what I was reading, not just read to complete. Each section calls us to rise up, become the believer Christ intended us to be from the moment of our salvation.

I felt the main purpose of this study was to give the reader a mindset of eternity, to help us remember every action we take, every word we speak, can point others to Jesus. It is hard, really, really hard, to take a stand which sets us apart from the world. I get the feeling that as a pastor's wife some people think it is easier for me but honestly, it isn't. My role as pastor's wife does not give me any magical super-power...oh wouldn't that be awesome!?!?! No, I have to rely on the Holy Spirit and pray for courage just like everyone else I've ever met.

Most evangelism studies I have worked through give a lot of practical advice. While this study does include helpful insights, the whole point is to bring us so close to Christ that we can't help but ooze out love and evangelism just sort of spills out as a result. If you are looking for the exhortation you need to push you onto courageously share your faith, this is the study for you!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.