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!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Princess Spy: A BookLook Blogger Review

Who doesn't love a spy novel? How about a princess story? In my mind, those two do not really go together, which is what intrigued me about this novel. Neither genre are typically one which pulls at me, but I thought I should give this a try and boy am I glad I did!

The background for this story is a princess who is struggling to find her match for marriage. While her father and mother have done their best to find the perfect mate, but Margaretha does not fit well with any of the men she has been paired with. Her outgoing and talkative personality turn many men away or force her to tell her parent's she's not interested.

While her latest beau shows some promise, she is still not drawn to him in the way she wishes. Still, she tries her best. At the same time a stranger has appeared on her father's land and she is one of a few privy to his arrival. He speaks a language foreign to her German ears, yet he intrigues her.

This delightful mystery unveils with each turn of the page and I was quickly drawn into the intrigue. Unexpected twists and turns paired with romance create a beautifully woven tale which you will be unable to put it down!

This is the first novel I have read by Melanie Dickerson and I enjoyed it so very much I'm looking forward to reading more of her works soon. I'm sure you will love this as much as I did!

Moses Leads the People: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls are always excited when I get new books for them to review. This time I received Moses Leads the People, an I Can Read book from Zonderkids. This book is part of the Adventure Bible series. She also reviewed the bigger kids full version of the Bible which she absolutely loved. This shorter version of the history of Moses is perfect for her and right on her reading level. 

This is a great series of books to use with early readers because for many kids they are already familiar with what happened. Grace was so proud of herself to be able to read this on her own. She was quite giddy as she ran off to her room to read during her afternoon quiet time. She returned about 20 minutes later and said, "Mommy! I read all the words by myself!"

The beautiful pictures only add to the loveliness of this book. The artistry engaged my daughter as well. She spent quite a bit of time gazing at all the lovely illustrations while she was reading. I loved watching her because she would turn a page and take in the entire illustration before starting to read the words. She was so sweet about it!

I highly recommend any books from this series for your early readers. There are several in this series from the Adventure Bible. You can find these books at Christian bookstores and online retailers. If you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift for young readers, look no further! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

TOP 5 Moms of Master Book Reviews!


Each year the Moms of Masterbooks team gets to pick their top five picks from all the wonderful resources we are given to review in the year. This is a tough thing to do. They are all so amazing and useful. However, since I have to narrow it down to five , here they are...

I don't have kids old enough to use these yet, but when I do I can't wait! This is solid, but concise, meaty and brief. It is perfect for the middle school crowd! 

Nothing short of absolutely stunning and biblically deep.

Funny, engaging, and accurate! 

Perfect for the layperson or student looking to increase their understanding of biblical languages.

And my number one pick is.....

This one kept me engaged personally more than any other. The many flood legends intrigue me so much and I loved how this book brought them all together in such a tactile way. 

Looking forward to being a part of this team again next year!
Merry Christmas everyone!

44 Animals of the Bible: A Moms of Master Books Review

Do you have any animal fanatics in your house? We have three and they can't get enough of animal stories, toys, pretend play, and visits to zoos or aquariums. The opportunity to review a book about animals in the Bible came at just the right time.

44 Animals of the Bible from Master Books (a division of New Leaf Publishing) is a fabulous resource to add to both your Bible and science collection. Every time I turned the page I was delighted with the beautiful illustrations created by Lloyd R. Hight. Nancy Johnson writes in a way which is interesting for kids to read and just delightful to study. I like how much I'm learning but also that my daughters are able to read it on their own.

There are many, many ways in which this could be used in your home. My girls love to pull books like this off the shelves and read for fun. We have quite a collection of Master Books on a low shelf (just for this reason) which is where you will find this one!

During the summer I started doing a "circle" time of sorts and each week looked at a different animal. This book is exactly what I have been looking for to incorporate into this time! It is concise enough to read in one sitting, and biblically accountable so I don't have to re-explain why we disagree with certain facts in typical animal books. With 44 animals and our less than regular schedule this could last us for two years and then start all over again!

We recently had a chance to visit the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Without a doubt the beluga whales were our favorites. Grace especially loved these majestic creatures. While the beluga whale in particular is not mentioned, whales are. Don't freak out, but you know how we were taught about "Jonah and the Whale" as kids, and then we were told this was wrong and the Bible says fish in the original language? Well guess what! The author assured me it very well indeed could have been a whale! Doesn't this make you feel better? It certainly did me!

I love how the information goes way beyond just the facts, but includes the biblical references and further historical information many times as to why these animals were important in biblical times or what they represented. Because of the Scripture references on each page this could also be used as a really unique family devotional, especially if you want to change things up a little bit.

This is just one more book you can add to your collection which you can trust to be biblically accurate, engaging for your children, and continue to point them back to Scripture as a source. I am never ever disappointed with the publications of Master Books!

Disclaimer: I received 44 Animals of the Bible as part of the Moms of Master Books Team. I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Week in Review: December 1-5

It's been a while, right? Well my unintended break from blogging has ended. We've gotten past the really rough spot we were in getting work done happily and weathered a rather wicked cold. We enjoyed a wonderful visit from Grampy and Grammy from Florida, celebrated Grandpa's (my dad's) birthday, and had a delicious Thanksgiving feast! Oh, and we also spent a few days in Atlanta. So, now you see why I haven't been around blogging!

JUST in time for Christmas I have an awesome giveaway to bless one of my readers with! My kids love Signing Time and they have a brand new Christmas collection just in time for the holiday!

Here is a little peek into just this past week. Maybe I'll get some posts about our Atlanta field trips up soon!

Preschool:Finishing up...

So after Christmas I plan to have Grace begin Little Hearts for His Glory. She's already handling Kindergarten math and 1st grade reading, so I'm certain she is ready. Honestly, she was probably ready a little sooner, but with the problems we were having staying on task and with a good attitude the last thing I wanted to do was add in another guide!

She's been begging me to learn to tie her shoes so we pulled out the practice shoe someone gave to us a while ago. It somehow doesn't seem possible that my littlest sweetie is old enough to be learning to tie her shoes...and be in Kindergarten! But she is, and I have to embrace it.

The big news for the week is Grace has finally mastered the correct way to write an S!!!! Yippee!!!! I have to admit the reason I am so happy about this is a little selfish. I'm not sure if you experience this or not, but at times when my girls have something academic they do not know or haven't yet mastered I am given a raised eyebrow and the ever so subtle, "Is this something you are working on?" comment. I'm grateful these comments and looks don't come from family, but they can be a little frustrating nonetheless. So, this is a personal victory of sorts.

Grace enjoys her end of books assessments in the ABC series from Rod and Staff. This week she said, "Is this like a test?!?!?" She thinks it's great because she knows her big sisters take tests and so it's just such a big deal in her mind.

My best moment with Grace this week was when she said, "Mommy, I love that you homeschool me because I get to hug and kiss you whenever I want!" Warms a mama's heart!

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10

We're plugging away in Bigger Hearts and honestly it is so much easier. Nothing like completing a guide once before to make it seem like a piece of cake the next time around! Everything about school is easier with Beth. Maybe it's because she's heard it all before so it sounds familiar, or maybe that she isn't quite the perfectionist that her older sisters is. Who knows, but I typically find her more laid back even if she is always asking when we'll be done so she can go play. She's started reading some of this history on her own by her request. I am happy to say yes most of the time because she is still comprehending and she's moving forward with independence in her learning!

The girls did their vocabulary words on the same day this week...by accident. I accidentally had Rose's guide turned a page ahead. Whoops! Anyway, they shared the dictionary and helped each other look for words, so maybe this happy accident will occur again!

Whenever I tell Beth it's time for a timeline entry she bounces up and down and says, "Yay!" What more could I ask for? All my girls love history, but Beth seems to engage a bit more in the history right now. She loves early American biographies so Bigger has been a great fit for her.

This week I really started working with her on rhyme scheme. As an English teacher I really love how much literature is emphasized in the Heart of Dakota curriculum, especially poetry. My daughters are so very comfortable with poetry and I anticipate their ability to understand and analyze poetry to only increase as we progress. To begin their rhyme scheme instruction I teach them to highlight or underline the last words in each line of poetry which rhyme with each other in the same color. It is very simple and is a very visual way to see rhyming patterns. She loved it so much she begged me to go back and find the rhyming patterns in her previous poems! She didn't really have to beg, but this is how she asked!

Last but not least, can I just say I am so happy that my daughters love grammar. I didn't really learn to love it until my history of English class in college, but I did appreciate the order and need for it. I envisioned groans and complaints every time we cracked the grammar books, just like I experienced when I was teaching full-time. Not with these girls of mine! They love it and seem to enjoy picking out sentence parts. That's what comes of learning in an environment without peer pressure to dislike some aspects.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 28

My ever studious first-born rarely smiles in these pictures, but she really loves to have fun! Rose seems to separate school into a work-is-serious type of category. At least, that is how she wants to look when I'm snapping pictures! We talk a lot about diligence and the need to work this way each day. She made great effort this week to work diligently and also helped her sisters stay more focused. Such a sweet, grown up little 9-year-old!

This week Rose very much enjoyed our book-mark history project. I modified it a bit because I was concerned the original instructions would leave it too thick and break the binding in her Bible eventually. So we used 3 flat ribbons to mark sections in the Scriptures and she was so pleased she asked to make more for Christmas gifts!

Rose writes a 3-5 sentence narration (or summary if you aren't familiar with Charlotte Mason terminology!) about one of the history readings each week. This weeks turned into a full-page! When I realized she had written so much I reminded her it didn't have to be that long. She said, "Yes it did! There were too many things I needed to say!" I think I have a writer on my hands. Here is what her narration about the Aztecs...

The Aztecs were very civilized people. They had houses, treasure, and temples. Now the Aztecs were not Christians and they worshiped idols and sacrificed human beings to their gods. Cortes sailed to conquer them. The Aztecs thought that their ship was a bird that sent them from heaven. Cortes burned the ship so the sailors could not go back and then they started to shoot cannons which the Aztecs thought were lightening. But their leader offered him gifts. Then Cortes went into the temple to get their leader to become a Christian, but he wouldn't, so Cortes captured him. This caused great fighting, but they were no match against shells and cannons. 

We had an excellent conversation about why what the Aztecs were doing went against God's Word, but Cortes' actions weren't godly either. One of the things I've loved about Preparing Hearts for His Glory is how my daughter is encouraged to think critically on her own about the rights and wrongs in history. While we don't delve into all the dirty and dark corners of the past, we touch on them enough for her to begin realizing how people sometimes do things in the name of God, without really doing them for that reason in their hearts.

We are taking our time reviewing the multiplication math facts. The first time around they didn't seem to stick and higher level multiplication just wasn't going to happen. I'm so grateful I paused and reflected before pushing her on to something which would cause greater frustration. As my husband is fond of reminding me, "This is why we homeschool, right?" I'm grateful for my man to remind me of this so faithfully!

I keep hearing that eventually all the spelling rules we are learning through All About Spelling and dictation will translate beyond spelling lessons. I'm still waiting for that to happen, but in the meantime, All About Spelling level four is going splendidly. Rose and Beth both typically remember the previous rules we have studied without pause. Grace will start this up in January as well...oh boy! Three levels of Heart of Dakota and three levels of All About Spelling! We'll see how long my sanity holds out.

So there was our week. Don't forget to enter the giveaway!