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!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The New Astronomy Book: A Moms of Master Books Review

My monthly review for Master Books (A division of New Leaf Publishing) is really awesome this month! I mean, they're always awesome, but we're really excited about this one because my girls are all about astronomy. I feel so very blessed to have these resources. I know I say this a lot, but seriously I love re-learning science with my daughters.

The New Astronomy Book by Danny R. Faulkner is just stunning. We had the original Astronomy book, which we loved, but this new, updated version has really upped its game! The pictures are even more vivid and detailed than the original. Even if you have the original, getting this updated version is not merely a replacement. It is just adding more to your science and astronomy library.

Like with all the other Wonders of Creation titles (which I highly recommend!) you can trust this book will point you both to scientifically accurate information as well as biblical accuracy. Every time I open up one of these books I am once again grateful for the opportunity to study science with the foundation of biblical truth.

One of the new features I really like of this book is the inclusion of technology. Kids these days are so consumed with technology that they may be hesitant to open a book before searching the internet. In this culture books need to be dynamic and engaging. Each chapter contains not only stunning photographs but also fun technology graphics that don't feel cheesy. My oldest daughter especially really likes this feature and has enjoyed perusing the book, cover-to-cover. She hasn't read the entire thing, but it has once again ignited her interest in the heavens above.

We enjoyed viewing the stars last winter when it started to get dark earlier and my girls have been asking about when we get to do this again. My middle girl has become quite fascinated with the moon as well and takes great pleasure in telling us if we're viewing a waning or waxing crescent. What fun to have high-quality resources at their finger tips to fuel their curiosities!

I personally enjoy reading the books in this series so I know how to answer their numerous questions. The detail and clearly written information make this user-friendly for science lovers of any age. You won't be disappointed in adding this title to your library.

Disclaimer: I received The New Astronomy Book 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. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week in Review: September 22-26

We had such a great week! We enjoyed our bi-annual global focus week (think missions conference) so much as we learned about what God is doing in Japan. We made new friends and enjoyed fellowship with our church family for four days. It was a great time, but as you can imagine, the kids got worn out pretty quickly. We started off strong and got all of our work done the first two days, but I took a cue from the kids that they were getting really worn down, so we just stuck to history and literature for the end of the week.

Grace: Preschool

Grace is counting down the days to her 5th birthday! She's feeling quite grown up and can't wait to celebrate turning five. It's bitter sweet watching my baby's birthdays pass each year, but much more sweet since I am able to enjoy watching them grow and develop through homeschooling.

We focused on writing the letter I this week and she really liked this one because it was so easy and because it is in her name. We are not learning the letters in ABC order, but by style. Right now our Fundanoodle book is teaching the basic lined letters first. I think this is a really smart way to build their fine motor skills.

Grace enjoyed some time using our school-room computer this week. She can use this really well now and navigates to the approved websites with ease. It is a bit overwhelming how well young kids can use computers and the internet. We use their computer time to help them learn responsibility and teach rules of use as well as enjoy whatever learning games they are using.

Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 4 (2nd grade)

Beth seems to enjoy spelling and I think she is a natural speller as long as she is putting forth the effort. I don't know what one child finds spelling easy while another doesn't, but I'm glad for her sake it isn't difficult. We're over half-way through book two of All About Spelling and I can't say enough how great this curriculum is.

Beth loved loved loved our history readings this week. We studied about Pocahontas! She wrote an excellent acrostic about her and just like her big sister the best part of the week was when she found out Pocahontas became a Christian because that meant she will get to see her in heaven one day.

We really enjoy the history readings. I feel badly for families who struggle through them, but so far we haven't found them to be tedious at all. If you are in Bigger and finding the readings hard, try giving your child something to do. Right now my daughters are working on a 3D version of Jamestown, which goes along with Beth's history at the moment. They are actively engaged in listening because they can answer questions, but they enjoy keeping busy while I read.

I didn't get a picture of it, but she also passed the first level of Typing Tournament! She was so excited.

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 23 (4th Grade)

Rose is so very close to passing the second level of Typing Tournament. She really enjoys it, but like with many things, gets frustrated when it takes her longer to complete than she wants it to. I think she is learning to take this much better this year and I'm happy to see her getting closer.

We took a look at Rome this week and the various cruel and not so cruel leaders. We learned about Pompeii as well and she was fascinated by this ancient city. I recently read a wonderful historical fiction book called City on Fire by Tracy Higley which is just excellent. It was like my own living book study!

I would not say Rose is a natural speller, but she is a determined student. She's doing incredibly well as we enter into the fourth book from All About Spelling. She takes her time and really thinks about it. I'm finally able to see some improvement in spelling in other areas. Not always, but most of the time which is a huge thing for her!

Good week and I'm so thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling which allowed us to more fully enjoy our global focus week. Here we are enjoying one last meal with our new friends. 10 Points if you can guess what restaurant we were enjoying! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week in Review: September 15-19

We had a really good week overall. Last year it took maybe 2 or 3 months to feel like we were in a routine. Even then it wasn't a consistent routine for a lot of different reasons. I'm so grateful this year to God for good health as we start out this year. I know there will be bumps, but starting off healthy is just such a wonderful feeling.

Oh, and I have last week's post, but completely forgot to share it anywhere last week! So you can click here to see what last week looked like.

Grace: Preschool

We are plugging away at our "preschool" curriculum which is actually kindergarten level work. She's reading at a beginning 1st grade level and I found out by accident she already gets the concepts behind addition. She is flying through the the ABC series from Rod and Staff. To be honest, I think she could handle the work in Little Hearts for His Glory, but I want to make sure I'm ready to add in another guide! We'll see how things go.

She completes her work so well and then I let her have some time on the computer, usually PBS kids. She likes having a little freedom to play and I love letting her. Our computer is used from a friend and we can set it so they can only go to particular websites. Recently she's also been using Nick Jr.

We have some art projects from a preschool Abeka book that was passed down to us. They are super simple, but Grace loves them so we did one this week with her hand print and footprint! They didn't exactly fit in either square.

My girls using Heart of Dakota guides!

They study well together and enjoy listening to each other's history and read alouds. I'm so thankful for what I feel is an academically rigorous guide, but doesn't feel academically rigorous to them. It just feels fun!

I give the girls the English tests from Rod and Staff and they just happened to both be taking one on the same day. That won't usually happen, but they thought it was pretty neat!

Beth: 2nd grade, Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 3

This is by far my favorite picture of the week. Beth almost always goes outside to read her literature. Even when it is raining she'll sit on our porch swing. Sometimes she doesn't look very comfortable, but she always looks happy!
Going through Bigger Hearts for His Glory this second time has been a breeze. I've been trying to analyze why and I think it is because my Beth isn't as hard on herself as Rose tends to be. I appreciate Rose's desire to do well, but Beth's easy going nature is making the whole process much easier. 

One thing Beth seems to really love each week is the timeline. She as introduced to this last year in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and was excited to start all over again. She also seems more interested in the history, however, it is partly due to my figuring out I needed to give her something to do. I figured this out with Rose, but not for several units in. Thankfully I remembered this at the start and so my second little sweetie benefits. Right now she's working on a 3D village of Jamestown we snagged back when Scholastic was having a dollar sale. 
Beth has been really interested in biographies recently, even just for fun evening reading. This is a really neat biography series is brand new and we got the opportunity to review one of the titles! They are all about people from the Bible and incredibly engaging for my daughter. You can read my full review here!
Both of my girls have been faithfully working on their typing skills. Typing Tournament is what I recommend for anyone looking for a kids typing program. We reviewed this last year and several months later they still beg to play it even if I don't plan to have them do it each day. Beth is doing great. She hasn't passed the first test yet, but she doesn't care because she keeps getting higher and higher scores making her more determined than ever to pass it. She loves the games and so does Rose. Grace is the only one frustrated by it because as 4, she's just not ready. 

Rose: 4th Grade, Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 22

Rose is really enjoying school this year. Remember how I said before Bigger is easier because Beth is more laid back than Rose was when she went through the guide? Well I'm very pleased Rose seems to have relaxed a lot and genuinely is enjoying the process. We still have our moments where her perfectionism rears its ugly head, but they are becoming fewer each week. She is happier with herself and her accomplishments and tells me almost every day how much she loves homeschooling. She is why we started. Her intense nature and inward focus on her work was not a good fit for a traditional classroom. She is such a sweet girl and extends grace to those around her all the time. I'm so thankful she isn't as hard on herself as she was in the past. 
For anyone just starting out on the Heart of Dakota Path who feels the writing is light, do not worry. I honestly felt the same way at the beginning, mostly because I didn't fully understand that Heart of Dakota follows a Charlotte Mason methodology. Now that we are 5 guides into this program I am totally sold. Rose is becoming and excellent non-fiction writer and it is coming easily. It didn't at first, but it has so far this year. I love her creative poems with inspiration drawing from our weekly poetry units. I'm really excited for the creative writing in Hearts for Him Through Time: Creation to Christ which we're on track to start in January. 

She was seriously sitting like this thinking while we were working on her creative writing for poetry. I love that we're talking about similes, metaphors, and personification. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love this curriculum and I fall more in love with it every week! 
And then my husband gave me this crazy awesome t-shirt! Icing on the cake for my week. Before anyone asks, I would LOVE to share the link with you, BUT it isn't in the website anymore. T-Spring is the company and it seems to have been just a one-time thing. Sorry!

Great week at our house. It feels so good to say this, but honestly, I know very well what tough weeks look like. Take a look at most of my weeks in review from last year! I'd love to hear from you. How was your week? Good? Tough? Somewhere in between? Please share! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Palace of Darkness: A Book Look Blogger Review

I love history, but one of my least studied eras was ancient and biblical history. I'm finding a very fun way to explore the past through historical novels. Since my daughter is studying this era of history more extensively this year I have been drawn to these novels lately. 

The re-release of Tracy Higley's novels has been exciting for me as she was previously unknown to me. This follow-up to City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii is an excellent way to delve into the early church and understand how difficult it was to be a Christian at the beginning of the church age. We take this for granted and I often don't think about. 

While the historical elements were fascinating and have inspired me to learn more about this ancient city, My favorite part about this novel was Cassia's journey to salvation. I love novels where the main characters are changed by the end in one way or another. I love how the presentation of the gospel to her was laid out by the believers simply by living their lives with her. There is much to be said for living our lives in this way, the way Christ did. 

I also like that although there is romance involved in this story, it is not the central motivating factor for the character's actions. I enjoy romance, but when the motivations of the main characters are always based on their emotions toward their love interest, I quickly lose interest. Higley's novels are never like this. The romance is secondary and the plot is primary. Too bad more author's don't think this way!

Even if you haven't ever tried a historical novel or one in the biblical genre, I encourage you to pick up this one. It's a great one to delve into and includes suspense and unexpected twists and turns along the way!

Get to Know Mary: A Book Look Blogger Review

My girls have been raised knowing a lot about the Bible. When Rose, my oldest daughter, was about 15 months old we started having nightly devotions and Bible time with her. This nightly routine has remained in place ever since and the girls make sure to remind us if we forget for a night!

Growing up as pastor's kids ourselves, my husband and I know how easy it is for the truth of Scripture to become so common place that it loses its wonder. This doesn't mean we stop training and teaching our kids, but it does mean we always need to be mindful that we should be making an effort to engage our daughters with Scripture in new ways. 

This new biography series for kids is a great way to engage your children in a new way. This beautifully illustrated book provides insights they may not have thought to ask about before. Alongside biographical information about the individual there are also many cultural and contextual explanations to help the individual feel more real.
Beth has really enjoyed this biography in particular. She likes reading about just about anything and was really excited when I showed this to her. The passages about Mary have always been some of her favorites. Whether winter is in the air or not she'll frequently flip to the Christmas story when choosing on her own something to read. I asked her what her favorite part was and she said all the information on the sides. That is also my favorite part. I am thrilled for her to be digging deeper using historical and cultural information to understand some of the deeper meanings behind what is in the text. 
If you are looking for accurate and engaging books, these are the way to go. There are several titles to choose from in the series and I hope to get a few more for my girls!

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.