February 22, 2017

Biblical Wisdom for Wednesday: Everything is Mine, Job!

I thought that this week, I would try starting a new feature. I would technically call it, Lisa's Ramblings about What Struck her Fancy during Bible Study...but instead I decided on Biblical Wisdom for Wednesday. LOL. I plan on sharing tidbits of thought that came from either my own studies, or things that pop in my head after my bible studies with the boys. Just extra tidbits that I wanted to share. I hope they will maybe encourage you. Or inspire you.

This week, we started learning about the story of Job from the Old Testament. Job has always been a favorite story of mine--I LOVE

February 21, 2017

Bringing Ancient Egypt History to Life with Home School In the Woods {Product Review}

Bringing Ancient Egypt to Life with Homeschool in the Woods {a review}History history history. Our family ADORES all things history. My oldest has had a fascination lately with more ancient history--especially civilizations mentioned in the Bible. We recently were given the opportunity to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt from Home School In the Woods. Because of our past success with this company (read my US Elections review) and our love of Unit Studies, I had high hopes that it would be everything we loved--and could feed my boys love of history.

February 12, 2017

Fresh From the Bookshelf: No Way Up by Mary Connealy {Book Review}

No Way Up by Mary Connealy~ Book Review
When I am looking for fun read set in the western frontier, I enjoy reaching for a book from Christian fiction author Mary Connealy. I had a chance to review No Way Up, the first installment of her newest series The Cimarron Legacy through NetGalley. I hoped that it would be another fun read, set in the wild west of America.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About No Way Up

No Way Up is the first installment of the latest series The Cimarron Legacy by Mary Connealy. Thanks to a novella (FREE!) we were able to meet the father of this series in The Boden Birthright, which set up the new series. The first book begins about 20 or so years after the novella. We get to meet the Boden family--ranchers living in the frontier New Mexico Territory in 1880. Chance Boden owns a vast land grant that he calls Cimarron Ranch. When

Fresh from the Bookshelf: A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander {Book Review}

Do you like book series? I do! The one pet peeve I have with many series relates to the quality of the books down the line. It seems like some authors just lose steam and the later books become a bit lackluster. Other authors seem to pick UP steam with each book progressively getting better and better. One of my favorite authors within the Christian Fiction genre, is Tamera Alexander. There has YET to be a book I didn't like. She has been working on two series lately that I have been enjoying--but ESPECIALLY the A Belmont Mansion series. She recently released book three in the series--the final installment--titled A Note Yet Unsung. I was pleased to have a chance to review this title through BethanyHouse and I hoped that it would be the same level of enjoyment the previous books in the series have brought me.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About A Note Yet Unsung

A Note Yet Unsung is the third and final installment in the A Belmont Mansion series. This series takes place in Nashville, around the famous Belmont Mansion--home of Adelicia Acklen Cheatham. Set in 1871, the story follows the gifted musician and master violinist Rebekah Carrington as she returns to Nashville after spending the previous ten years in Vienna. Having been trained by some of Vienna's fineness, she is ready to return and take her spot in the music world. She wheedles her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic--however, her hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor bows to the public opinion that women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra. Forced to find employment due to uncomfortable family issues, Rebekah finds herself in the role of violin tutor to the daughter of Adelicia Acklen Cheatham at Belmont Mansion. Unfortunately the nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb, who denied her the chance of making a dream come true, is indebted to Mrs. Cheatham and when he needs an assistant to help him complete the symphony he is writing, Rebekah is cajoled into the role. Will she be able to help him finish the symphony in time for the grand opening of the new opera hall? Can he continue with the strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head worsening? Will he ever be able to help Rebekah reach her dream of performance on a stage?

My Thoughts

Wow. I kid you not when I tell you that I could NOT put this book down. I have a special affinity for books about musicians with my own background as a pianist and piano teacher--but THIS one. This one touches some things that I have thought about myself--what if something happened and God allowed circumstances to occur which took my joy and love of music from me? What if I have been given this talent just for the purpose of giving God glory? The hard questions that both Rebekah and Nathaniel dive into were very personal for me. 

Another level of the book I enjoyed was the revelation of Nathaniel's upbringing. I LIVE at the mouth of the Appalachian Mountains, so the description of the people and the culture was wonderful. I am definitely drawn more to books that showcase this area. Everything she portrayed was as accurate as I could ever discover going and visiting the "hollers" around me here in KY. 

Adding in the information about the classical music selections both Nathaniel and Rebekah played or referenced was wonderful--I knew EXACTLY what they were. I also appreciated tying in the classical composers of the day like Brahms! My musical background filter came to the surface while reading this book--I nodded my head at the declarations of the difficulty of some pieces. The issues with transcribing. The complication of sight reading vs. playing by ear. I appreciated and understood it ALL! And the talk about how music moves you to a different level--yes! 

Is there anything I didn't like? 
Only one thing I was having issues with. How Rebekah's step-father is worked into the events in Chickory Hollow. I never quite knew what he was doing there and thought we could have had a bit more explanation. 

I am giving A Note Yet Unsung 5★
I am happily giving A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander my highest and rare rating of FIVE stars. This book had EVERYTHING that I love in a book. A plot that kept me intrigued like an onion revealing each layer. It had a brilliant setting in the music world, which captured the essence of both the performer and the creator of music. The characters had great depth to them. Their relationship wasn't rushed and just felt--normal. The author captured with words such a great image of every setting that I could instantly picture it in my head. I am just sorry that this book concludes the A Belmont Mansion series. It was lovely to see the characters from the previous two books of the series mentioned in this one as well--although I really think each book CAN stand on it's own. I truly think this third book was the BEST in the series. That doesn't happen very often does it? Oh and the cover was simply gorgeous! The writing is a raised embossed iridescent script which just begs you to run your fingers over it!

As an aside--if you are NOT a music person, I think you will still enjoy the book. It's just that having a music background takes it up a level in enjoyment!

Once again Tamera Alexander has written a winner! I can't wait to continue to read her books, and look forward to the other series she is writing and all the new ones she has YET to write!

A Note Yet Unsung (Belmont Mansion Book #3)
by Tamera Alexander
Available in Kindle and Paperback

I hope you will consider checking out other books by Tamera Alexander!

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February 9, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser {Book Review}

Are you lover of all things sewing related? Do you enjoy historical fiction that gives you a behind the scenes look at people or places in "real" history, with a dash of romance, and a Christian message? If so, you need to try out The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser. As soon as I saw it on a list for reviews from NetGalley, I jumped on it--not only did the subject matter appeal to me, but I've read and loved the previous Nancy Moser books I've had a chance to read.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links.
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About The Pattern Artist

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser follows the life of English housemaid Annie Wood, as she dares to dream for a better future and runs away from the house she's serving in while they are vacationing in New York in 1911. Alone and risking it all, she takes a job in the sewing department of the grand store Macy's. While working, she catches the eye of the Butterick Pattern Company salesman, and with determination and God's leading--ends up opening doors beyond anything she could imagine--discovering that she is a gifted pattern artist of the highest degree. Holding onto her future like a ribbon on a kite, while trying to keep the winds of her past at bay, she enters a creative world that takes her into a life of adventure, purpose, and love.

My Thoughts on the Book

I have always thought about the men and women who designed the "first" patterns and what that must have been like. This book really is perfect for any woman who has attempted to sew for that reason. It's cool to wander into the world of patterns and learning how they gained popularity, what they did to demo them, where the ideas came from, and how they crafted them. It was absolutely fascinating, and convinced me I would not have lasted long doing all that tedious work! LOL.

When it comes to the plot of the story, it really wasn't that believable in my mind. Not the whole housemaid decides to run away in NY, without having any place to live aspect. That would never have worked well during that time period. Especially not in 1911 or New York. Maybe I'm wrong, but everything I've read talks about how DANGEROUS it was for people who tried to do like Annie. 

I really liked the growth that Annie faces through the course of the group, and how she even comes to realize that she's made some wrong decisions. Seeing her wrestle with her conscience and accepting that God is in control, and choosing to rely on Him above all else is very realistic. 
I give The Pattern Artist 3.5★
I think all in all, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars. It's got a great story, but I prefer a bit more meat to keep my interest. I loved the history of the sewing and of the Butterick company and seeing a bit behind the scenes of early 1900's Macy's. If you are wanting a more light read set in a historical era, this is a good option. If you want to learn more about the early 1900's fashion industry, I think you would like this book. It's an also good look at what poor immigrants dealt with. 
by Nancy Moser
Available on Kindle and Paperback

There are quite a few other great reads from Nancy Moser that I highly recommend--you can check them out here:


Professional Reader
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February 7, 2017

Times Alive: Making Learning Times Tables More Fun {Product Review}

I am always seeking ways to make learning fun, and one of the main places that needs fun, is math. My husband and I believe that it's important for our boys to have some basic math facts memorized, but getting them in our boys heads is where it can get tricky. Can you find a way to memorize math facts--like the multiplication tables and still have it be fun? Enter my review of Times Tables the Fun Way and their online program Times Alive.
Times Alive: Learning Times Tables the Fun Way ~ Product Review

About Times Alive

Times Alive is an online program providing online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way. Times Alive teaches the times tables from 0 to 9, and includes even coloring pages to help reinforce the stories. With cute animation, clever stories to offer audio and visual learning techniques--the program is easily perfect for all types of learners. Scattered periodically in the program are reviews and quizzes to check that the lessons are being understood. Lessons can be repeated at any time if something isn't sticking.

Times Alive is offered as a monthly online subscription of $9.95/month with a one-time $6.95 installation fee. It can be accessed on any computers as it is through an online website, and can be used for different kids in the home as long as they log in the same way on the same computer each time.
Clever stories to help remember the facts
Reviews right after the lesson on the facts learned
 A progress report is available to the parent at any time, which will show the child's progress through the lessons as well as their scores and completion times for each quiz.

A progress report from my 6 year old. You can see his scores and lessons that he has completed.
This program works with all operating computer systems. Times Alive will work on iPad if you have a FLASH app like Photon--but when the student logs out, all progress will be lost.Times Alive online will not work on any mobile devices that do not support flash programs.

We were given a 3 Month Subscription to Times Alive through Teaching Times Tables the Fun Way to use with my boys ages 6 and (almost) 11.

Our Thoughts

The program was easy to get set up once log in information was received. Once I did a standard log-in, we got to the welcome screen. From here a child can log in. This is simply where they enter whatever name they want their work saved as--noting the EXACT way they did their log-in in order to retrieve their progress at the next log in. Once logged in, they arrive at the basic lesson list screen that shows all the work that will be done during the program.
This is what my son's log in looks like now that he has worked through the program.
At this point, you simply click on the lesson you want to start on--a brand new log in will start at a "show what you know" kind of test which records your answers to 0-9 times table problems. Once completed, the child simply hits "next" to be taken to the next lesson. As you can see from the lesson list, the times tables aren't taught in order exactly. They do jump around, but that doesn't really matter.

My youngest got started and he was hooked right from the get-go. He kept asking for more and more time. I think he did the first three or four lessons all in one sitting and reluctantly quit when his time was up. My oldest was the same--loving it right from the start.

I found the "music video" songs to reinforce the lessons very...hokey. But the boys were fine with them, so I just...left the room. LOL. I especially liked the reviews that were scattered throughout the course which always were inclusive of past and current lessons. When it came to the final test, my oldest requested that I print it out for him. It was nice to have that option for EACH of the quizzes.

Now this doesn't record the completion time, but it would be easy to calculate that if you wanted to. My youngest preferred to do all of his work online. it took him a bit longer--and the program would tell him that he was taking too long--and that he needed to review earlier lessons--yet it still let him keep on working through the quizzes.

The program was very good for us--they loved being able to just spend an agreed amount of time on the program and would help each other out with remembering the stories. They rarely remembered the songs--but they usually could work together to remember the math stories.

Just a couple things I wanted to mention.
#1 You HAVE to make sure of a couple things on your browser in order for the program to remember your child's progress:
a. All cookies are able to be saved.
My browsers are set to clear some data at the end of each logging in. I don't like to save all my history. Unfortunately, my settings made it so that the progress reports cleared out the minute we quit or closed the browsers. This happened several days before I finally figured out the issues. Once I change my settings, we didn't have the problem any more.

b. You must use the same browser on the same computer each time.
It doesn't matter if you log in with your parent information on a different computer--your child's progress won't be saved. You have to use the same browser and the same computer each time.

c. The log-in name has to be exact
If you use all lower case the first time--you have to do it the next time. If you use all caps the first time, you have to do that every time. It must be the exact name each time.

This was actually pretty frustrating. It seems like that with a log in subscription, it shouldn't have to be so exact. I don't like to have to keep changing my cookies settings just to use this program. I also wish that my boys could use ANY computer and have it save their work in our subscription account. It's something that I consider pretty major, because of the frustration it caused.

#2 The stories don't...go together?
This is much more of a personal preference. But I think it would have been MUCH easier to remember each of the math stories, if each number character was the same thing. But a 6 in one story meant something TOTALLY different in every single other story with a 6. That requires more effort for the child to keep them straight. My boys had a tricky time remembering some of the characters in the stories because of this, so each story had to be learned as a separate entity, where the characters meant different things.

#3 You can't SEE what they get wrong on a test, just their overall score and completion time.
If I am sitting with them, I can look when they get their results. Or the boys would usually TELL me what they missed. But if I wanted to go back and look when they worked on them independently, I could not see the actual problems. This would be nice to know where to direct their focus--which times tables are they not quite getting.

Okay, now let me share the boys thoughts.

Little Britches says, "It was easy to understand. I didn't really love it. But I didn't not like it. It was okay and I didn't mind doing it."

Baby Britches says, "I liked the songs best. And the stories. I just liked it."

LOL. So I guess you could say they thought it was--good, but not great.

The real question...did it work? Did it makes learning the times tables easier?
Yes....and no.

The boys DEFINITELY picked up some new things to help them remember times tables but they can't remember all of the stories, because they found a few of them a bit more tricky to remember. That being said, I found the most VALUABLE trick was in regards to the lesson on the 9's. My boys can now remember how to do the 9's using EACH of the two methods that was taught--I was thankful they taught the fingers trick and the adding the product digits trick. In fact they have taught several different times tales using fingers which is great, because they will have THOSE with them forever! (hopefully!)

Today I decided to see how they did by running through multiplication flash cards at breakfast. We just made a game where they both came up with their answer and on the count of 3 shouted it. It was interesting to see that if one couldn't remember, the other offered up a story to help--BUT it wasn't usually a story from Times Alive--rather a different times table story they had learned previously. So even though this was the MOST RECENT multiplication story tool, it isn't the one they remember the best. That is why I say it didn't necessarily made things easier to remember--BUT, perhaps if it was the FIRST multiplication story tool they had learned it would be...I don't know. It did help for the times tables that they DIDN'T already have stories for. I can simply say "bigfoot" for my 6 year old and he can remember the answer to 6x3 or I can say "dirty pig" and he can remember the answer for 8x4. Like wise I can remind my oldest by saying "high jump" and he can remember 6x7. So I think they remember ENOUGH of the stories to find their answers. My youngest liked it enough to want to review some of the stories he doesn't quite remember--and with our subscription he can easily do this.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes---and no. LOL. As I said above, there are some things that I DON'T like about the program--mainly that it won't remember your progress unless you have certain cookie settings, having to use the same computer and browser every time, and having to have the exact log in. BUT if you are looking for a one-size fits all method to learn all the times 0-9, want to be able to use it with all your children, and want to be able to see their progress, then this would work perfectly. And the cost makes it okay--especially since you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Want to Know More?

We have spent the last month reviewing Times Alive from Times Tables the Fun Way in an effort to help memorize our times tables. You have seen our thoughts on the program, but why don't you see what my fellow crew members had to say about it!
Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}
If you would like to learn more about the company or stay up to date on any sales or promotions they might have you can follow them on Facebook and YouTube.

I hope you will join me tomorrow (2/8/2017) at 1:30 EST where I will be hosting a Facebook LIVE video to briefly chat about the program.

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February 3, 2017

Just Breathe {Five Minute Friday}

I totally missed last week's Five Minute Friday (I might still do it, just later), but I wanted to make sure I completed this week's themed post first. A couple things popped into my head when I heard the prompt--so lets get set and go for it.
5 Minute Friday: Just Breathe



To things that I think of. First, my #1 favorite essential oil blend. The one that convinced my husband that essential oils were the bomb. It was a bottle of a blend called BREATHE and was designed to help you get a clear sinus passage. It smells so fresh--eucalyptus, peppermint, cardamon, and more...and it works so well. A shot of clarity to the nose and brain. I just love it and it works so well.

The other thing that I think of is a Christian song called Breathe by Jonny Diaz. Have you heard it before? It's a great song. The lyrics just grab you...but my favorite part is the chorus.

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe.

The song is about how crazy life gets and it goes ninety miles and hour. Chaos surrounds you. Saying yes to a million things. And you are getting overwhelmed, but then you hear God whisper to you...Breathe. Just Breathe.

This is the reminder that I need to hear on the days when I'm overwhelmed by what my life has thrown at me. I try to take time to just stop. Stop. Take a deep breath. Slowly let it out. And be thankful that I CAN breathe. And that my God will help me through another day if I make sure I spend some time at His feet.

So make sure YOU take time to Breathe today.

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